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Lethbridge, T C - A Step in the Dark – The stench of psychometry

Identifier

021914

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

T C Lethbridge – A Step in the Dark

One of the points, which seemed to make the greatest impression on E. when holding ancient objects, was the stink of the dwellings. One does not think of this when excavating old sites; but the smell of modern Eskimo houses was more than I could bear and I never went inside one. People in antiquity, except Greeks and Romans in the western world, seldom washed.

Although the Celts invented soap, they washed their hair with urine. When I occasionally borrowed a can of hot water on an Arctic expedition, washed and shaved, people came into the cabin and remarked: 'What is this disgusting-clean smell?' My old friend, Louis Clarke, who ran the Cambridge museum of Archaeology and Ethnology as a hobby, told me that he had known an old woman who as a girl had known another old woman, who had been at the French court before the Revolution. Louis' friend had asked her old friend what was the chief difference between life in the Victorian era and her girlhood’s days.

'My dear,' said the older woman, 'people do not smell any more.' And of course that seemed a far greater change than any wrought by the invention of the steam engine or factories.

It made the brilliant age of Louis XIV seem tawdry and unclean.

A real advance in culture had been made. Beau Nash had in his way done more than Brunell. What advantage is there in going 50, 100, or 10,000 miles an hour if you arrive stinking at the other end?

Again and again when holding ancient objects, E remarked on the intolerable stench

The source of the experience

Lethbridge, Thomas Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References