Home D. D. – Fire experiments November 30, 1868 – Lord Adare’s testimony
Type of Spiritual Experience
Friar Herbert Thurston was a Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order and an historian. He wrote extensively on Catholic mysticism and psychic phenomena and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research. He was also widely read on this subject. He is described as ‘an honest skeptic’., and once said ‘the role of Devil’s advocate is a thankless one and does not make for popularity’.
A description of the experience
Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism
From the many records available one may choose almost at random an incident recorded by the late Earl of Dunraven (then Lord Adare) in a contemporary account of a seance held on November 30, 1868, at Mrs. Hemmings house at Norwood. After some preliminary visits to the fireplace and poking the fire. Home, entranced-
… went back to the fire, and with his hands stirred the embers into a flame; then kneeling down, he placed his face right among the burning coals, moving it about as though bathing it in water.
Then, getting up, he held his finger for some time in the flame of the candle. Presently he took the same lump of coal he had previously handled and came over to us, blowing upon it to make it brighter. He then walked slowly round the table, and said,
"l want to see which of you will be the best subject. Ah! Adare will be the easiest because he has been most with Dan [i.e., himself)."
Mr. Jencken held out his hand, saying, "Put it in mine,".
Home, said, "No, touch it and see”.
He touched it with the tip of his finger and burnt himself.
Home then held it within four or five inches of Mr. Sari’s and Mr. Hart's hands, and they could not endure the heat. He came to me and said, "Now if you are not afraid, hold out your hand."
I did so and having made two rapid passes over my hand, he placed the coal in it. I must have held it for half a minute, long enough to have burned my hand fearfully; the coal felt scarcely warm. Home then took it away, laughed and seemed much pleased. As he was going back to the fire-place, he suddenly turned round and said,
"Why, just fancy, some of them think that only one side of the ember was hot." He told me to make a hollow of both my hands; I did so, and he placed the coal in them, and then put both of his on the top of the coal, so that it was completely covered by our four hands, and we held it there some time. Upon this occasion hardly any heat at all could be perceived.
It should be pointed out that the Lord Adare who, at the age of twenty-seven, wrote this account for the benefit of his father (a convert to Catholicism) was by no means an intellectual nonentity. Moreover, before the description just quoted was printed in 1870, it was submitted to all those who had taken part in the seance,viz., Mrs. Hemmings, Mr. H. Jencken, Mr. Hart and Mr. Sari, and "the answers in every case were in the affirmative as to the correctness of the contents."