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Observations placeholder

Madame d’Esperance - Shadow Land - 11 Watching a past event from the life of a séance member



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

SHADOW LAND OR  LIGHT FROM THE OTHER SIDE by Elisabeth d’Esperance(1897)

I was the last of the circle to be blind-folded and, to my astonishment, scarcely had the fingers touched my eyelids before the fire-lighted room vanished, and I seemed to be in the open air, in a strange place, for I could hear the rustling of trees, the soughing of wind through branches; but it was black and dark and, though conscious of being somewhere on a country lane or road, I could see nothing. At the same time I knew that I was in reality seated on a chair, among personal friends in my own sitting-room. Yet even this actual knowledge did not in any way detract from the feeling of reality with which the strange experience impressed me. I knew I was seated in a fire-lit room, and that feeling or consciousness of safety never left me; at the same time I was equally conscious that the scene I witnessed on that dark country road was a reality and interested me intensely, in much the same way as one seated in a theatre, conscious of the fact of one's surroundings and one's own individuality watches with interest and sympathy the scene being enacted on the stage before him.

One knows that an actual scene is before one and that it is no dream or illusion. Very much the same as a scene in a play, did the scene opening up before me affect my senses, except that I knew it was not merely acting.

As I stood alone in darkness, feeling chilled by the damp heavy atmosphere and conscious of the peculiar scent of wet soddened earth and grass, a light suddenly flashed before me.

I saw that it came from the open door of a house which I had not seen. The bright light seemed to proceed from an inner fire-and-lamp-lighted room, and spread itself out to the road where I stood. I could see the house, the road, the trees, lighted up for a moment or two. Then from the open doorway two figures emerged,-men. The door closed behind them and the darkness became as impenetrable as before. Yet in that brief space of time I had to some extent taken note of my surroundings, and knew in which direction the road led, on which side the house stood, that a ditch ran on one side of the road, and that at the far side  the ditch were trees. Dark as it was, I could with some difficulty distinguish the figures of the two men who left the house and I followed them, not knowing exactly why I did so. One of the men seemed to be intoxicated; he walked unsteadily, gesticulated, and talked noisily or appeared to do so, for I could not hear words. The other, a taller and more slender man, walked steadily and helped his companion by taking his arm when he stumbled in the darkness. All at once the shorter man disappeared; his companion stopped, and halloed again and again. He got no answer; he moved his feet cautiously as if feeling for the man on the road; and called again, but obtained no answer. He seemed uncertain how to proceed, and walked backwards and forwards, searching as he went.

Then suddenly he appeared to make up his mind, and started off quickly. I followed. I saw a door open, and he entered. Shortly afterwards several persons emerged from the house carrying a lantern, the tall slender man with them. I followed them but nobody noticed me. They retraced the steps the two men had taken, searching every inch of the way by aid of the lighted lantern.

I noticed now what I had not seen before, that at a certain point another road branched off from the one on which the men were walking and ran along parallel with it on a lower level.

When the party had reached the place where the man had disappeared, a thorough search began; and I watched with great anxiety for the result. At last one of the searchers approached the embankment and, looking over, said something to his companions, whereupon they all turned back and retraced their steps till they reached the junction of the two roads, when they struck off

on the lower one searching with the lantern on the side nearest to the higher road.

At length they evidently discovered the missing man lying by the roadside apparently insensible, and the searchers grouped themselves about his postrate body. The taller slender man I have before mentioned tried to lift up his comrade from the wet ground, one of the others holding the lantern which lighted up the group, and I now for the first time saw the faces of the men.

The features of the one lifting the head of the fallen man struck me as being familiar, but for a moment I could not recall it to mind. Then as they raised the man to his feet, he looked about him in a bewildered manner. I glanced again at the man helping him and to my intense surprise I recognized Mr. F!

"Why it's you!" I exclaimed.

My astonishment at this discovery almost overshadowed my surprise at the strangeness of the whole vision. I had followed the various movements and incidents, in what seemed to be a little drama, with anxiety and with an apprehension that it might result in a tragedy. I had feared that the unconscious man found lying by the roadside was dead, and had felt greatly relieved when by the light of the lantern he was seen to be sleeping. All the actors in the scene so far as I knew were unknown to me, and although I followed every movement with interest and anxiety it was only as a stranger would have done, so that when I suddenly recognized Mr. F as one of the principals it caused a feeling of almost consternation, so great was my surprise.

As I shook his fingers from my eyelids and facing him exclaimed:-"Why, it's you!" the surprise communicated itself to the rest of the circle, and question after question was eagerly asked as to the meaning of the whole thing. I had, during the enactment of the scene faithfully related every incident as it occurred, so that the others had followed it with almost as great an interest as I who, as it were, took an active part in it. It was therefore, with no little curiosity that we awaited some explanation of the affair from Mr. F.

He told us that he recognized the whole of the circumstances as having occurred some twelve years previously, to himself and several friends who, having been during the day at a deer hunt, finished up at an inn before they separated. Mr. E, and a young man whose home lay in the same direction left the inn together It was not until they had come out into the night air that Mr. F. on whom the wine seemed to have taken no effect, found that his friend was considerably the worse for the parting glasses and it was with difficulty he could dissuade him from returning to bid another goodnight to their comrades. He, however, succeeded in getting him some distance towards home when he suddenly missed him as I had seen. 

The rest of the story tallied in every respect with  my vision. In some cases the minor details which had escaped his memory were perhaps only recalled by my relating them.


The source of the experience

Madame d Esperance

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps