Observations placeholder

Lethbridge, T C - Ghost and Ghoul - A test of psychometry

Identifier

021802

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

As Lethbridge himself recognised, the problem with doing these sorts of experiments is that E could have simply been reading his mind.  He knew all the information he mentions in the text already, no further finding out needed to be done to establish that she had got the information right.  But as Lethbridge himself suspected, she may have simply obtained it from him.  This was borne out for him by the following event

After we had been working at it for some months, one of the children was taken ill. I went upstairs to the nursery to see him at bedtime and, as usual, was made to invent and tell him a story I told him one, which I placed in the days of the first Elizabeth. There was not much story, but it ended up in a duel between two men in slashed doublets, ruffs and so on, in a panelled hall. I had to draw it on paper. Before I had gone upstairs, I had left the sensitive with a piece of a glass vase, which had come out of an Anglo-Saxon grave of somewhere about A.D. 500. It had been imported from the Rhineland. The vase had been what is known to archaeologists as a 'claw glass goblet' or 'beaker'. The fragment itself was not unlike the back of the head of a small girl with a pigtail, if you can imagine such a thing made of glass.  When I returned to the drawing-room, where E. was still holding the fragment of Anglo-Saxon glass, she launched at once into a description of two Elizabethans fighting a duel in a panelled room. There was a looking-glass, with a glass frame, hanging on the wall and the fragment she was holding came from it.

As far as I was concerned, this was the end of our investigation. Psychometry could be of no possible value to an archaeologist.”

The rather sad thing is that he did dismiss it, as it is a very good example of mind reading of a quite accurate nature.  And as the example shows, when he did not transmit, she might have been able to get more information from the objects.  Furthermore he appears not to have organised any other experiments.

A description of the experience

T C Lethbridge – Ghost and Ghoul

One of my amateur sensitives, E., was extremely good at psychometry. I do not think that she had ever tried to do it before, but she was very interested in the whole subject and most co-operative. Since this was an experiment carried out for the interest in the subject and not in order to obtain scientific proof, the tests were undertaken without any elaboration. E was handed an object and wrote her account of what it made her see, talking about it at the same time. Sometimes she snatched up a pencil and scribbled a drawing.

The objects chosen were all of considerable age. They ranged in time from prehistoric relics of the Bronze Age down to personal ornaments of the eighteenth century of our era. Few were in any way related to me personally. I had not used them nor worn them. They were mostly completely impossible to guess. There was a fragment of timber from a sunken line-of-battle ship and a Georgian ring that somebody had dug out of an old sewer. There were medieval objects and things from kitchen middens of the Roman Age. Some were small undated things lent to me by friends in other museums. Often I had only a vague idea of what the things were and of their probable date. I could easily have written a book of historical and prehistoric vignettes from the writing done at the time.

Perhaps the fragment of wood from the wrecked ship gave the most dramatic result of all. When the unfortunate girl had been handed this, she gazed at it for a moment or two and then was seized with all the symptoms one associates with the most violent form of seasickness. I thought she would be actually sick on my desk, and had to stop the experiment for a while.

She soon recovered, however, and proceeded to describe a gun's crew running up the gun to an open port. The clothes of the men were in keeping with those of the wars against the French in the second half of the eighteenth century. The piece of timber came in fact from Kempenfelt's sunken flagship Royal George, but I was quite certain that this piece of information could not have been obtained by direct observation. Yet here was the sensitive retching and trying to describe the terrible movement she was experiencing. The whole thing was most convincing.

A second object was a small and very much corroded brass brooch. It was like a curtain ring and about an inch in diameter.

Its pin was a piece of pointed brass wire, hammered flat at the blunt end and bent round the circumference of the ring, so that it could slide on it. I had found it at a place marked Cul na croise on the ordnance map, but known as Traigh a raevagh by the old crofters near it. It lies at the head of Kentra Bay on the north side of Ardnamurchan and about two miles south-west of the entrance of Loch Moidart. It is about three miles from Castle Tioram further up the loch. This was a lovely sandy bay with the sea stretching away to the blue peaks of the Rhum hills. One used to be able to pick up lots of medieval objects in the sand-dunes behind the beach and the local name, which translated as 'the raider's strand', was the supposed site of an ancient battle, or perhaps two battles. The dunes themselves had apparently only formed there since the time of the famous Jay Bridge gale, and before that the site had been very fertile.

Iron arrow-heads, knives, beads and coins were all found here and an occasional brooch like the one in question. There were also many flint arrow-heads, scrapers, knives and so on, weathered out with pieces of pottery from an even older land surface beneath the dunes. It is useless to visit the Raiders strand now, except to see the remarkable beauty of the place. It was used for commando training in the Hitler war and is so littered with grenade  splinters, old cartridge clips and even unexploded bombs that there is no hope of finding medieval objects without very great labour.

It is most unlikely that anyone sitting at a desk near Cambridge, and lacking archaeological training, would have guessed that the little thing from this beach was a brooch and still less that it was a medieval one. On being handed it, however, E. began at once to describe a great, bare, rectangular, upper room. It was in a castle, she thought, and this thing was being worn by a dark-haired girl, who was in a state of great distress.

She wanted to marry a youth, who was also in the room and was being opposed by a forceful old woman, who owned the castle. There was a great bird in the room also. It sat on a kind of pole and had a very fierce expression,  perhaps it was a falcon, she did not know.

Now anyone who knows Moidart must have seen the ruin of Castle Tioram on its tidal islet. The castle is said to have been built by Amie MacRuari, an ally of the English. This lady might well fill the character part of the fierce old woman in the story. But we can never tell what the upper rooms looked like in her day: -for the castle has been burnt since the days when a Clan Ranald chieftain is said to have thrown a nursemaid from the battlements in irritation at her dropping his child. The description, however, is reasonable enough- and the date of the brooch, which is probably of the fourteenth century, agrees very well with the rest of the story. As for the bird, it-may well have been a falcon, or perhaps a goshawk.

The source of the experience

Lethbridge, Thomas Charles

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References