Madame d’Esperance - Shadow Land - 24 Materialising the lily
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
SHADOW LAND OR LIGHT FROM THE OTHER SIDE by Elisabeth d’Esperance(1897)
After this we had no alternative but to take our places at once. For every one to get quietly composed was not an easy matter; the sound of doors and windows in other parts of the house being forced in by the wind, and sundry breaking of glass panes, had a most disquieting and irritating effect on everybody's nerves and on mine in particular. The storm decreased in violence as the evening wore away but judging from experience it seemed to me a hopeless attempt to continue sitting under such conditions, and I was about to propose giving it up, when I noticed a scent of flowers, which increased so much as to be almost overpowering. I am not fond of strong perfumes, and this nearly made me sick with its sweetness.
Walter gave us a message requesting us to keep as quiet and composed as we could and that no one was to talk to me, because Yolande was about to bring us a flower; and the external conditions being so bad we must do all we could to help her.
We did what we could, and the fact that we had something to expect helped to put us in a better humour. We had sand, water, and a flowerpot in readiness, as we were accustomed, though they had never been asked for during many months.
The strong scent was so overpowering, that I felt half suffocated. I put out my hand expecting to feel flowers, but there was nothing. Immediately afterwards, something large, heavy, cold, and damp fell against me. My first thought was that it was some dead clammy body or object, and it gave me such a horrid sensation that I almost fainted. I was holding the hand of Mr. Aksakof when it began to feel as though I was receiving a succession of electric shocks, making it painful for me to come in contact with anything, each shock causing the perspiration to rush from every pore in my skin.
The pain from my scorched arm left me, and the toothache also was forgotten; and strangely enough every one noticed that Yolande carried her arm as though she were in pain, and when accidently touched she flinched as though hurt. I felt very thirsty and drank much water, but that was nothing unusual during a seance. What went on outside the curtains I learned afterwards from Mr. F's notes. Yolande with the assistance of Mr. Aksakof had mixed sand and loam in the flower pot and she had covered it with her veil, as she had done in the case of the water bottle in England when the Ixora Crocata was grown.
The white drapery was seen to rise slowly but steadily, widening out as it grew higher and higher. Yolande stood by and manipulated the gossamer-like covering till it reached a height far above her head, when she carefully removed it, disclosing a tall plant bowed with a mass of heavy blossom, which emitted the strong sweet scent I had complained of.
Notes were taken of its size, and it was found to be about seven feet in length from root to point, or about a foot and half taller than myself. Even when bent by the weight of the eleven large blossoms it bore, it was taller than I. The flowers were very perfect, measuring eight inches in diameter; five were fully blown, three were just opening, and three in bud, all without spot or blemish, and damp with dew. It was most lovely, but somehow the scent of lilies since that evening has always made me feel faint.
Yolande seemed very pleased with her success and told us that if we wanted to photograph the Lily we were to do so, as she must take it away again. She stood beside it and Mr. Boutlerof photographed it and her, twice. Mr. B. said "They are not very beautiful specimens of the photographic art," but there they were, and taking into consideration the woeful conditions the only thing to wonder at is that they could be obtained at all. The photographing was done by aid of the magnesium flash light.
When this had been concluded, we were told to remain perfectly quiescent to enable Yolande to dematerialise the plant. We tried to comply with the request, but under the circumstances it was scarcely possible to feel indifferent enough to what was going on to be perfectly quiet. The consequence was that after sitting, till midnight Yolande despairingly told us that she could not take the plant away.
Walter wrote:-"Yolande only got the plant on condition she brought it back. She finds the medium is exhausted and cannot bear any more. You must let the plant remain in darkness till she can come again and take it."
Mr. Fidler and Mr. Boutlerof then between them carried the plant to a dark closet in an adjoining room, where it was It was locked up, till we should receive instructions how to act with respect to it. We had been told that no light must be allowed to fall on it as that would increase Yolande's difficulty in removing it, but curiosity got the better of us and we brought the plant into the drawing-room one morning and photographed it four times in various positions, so that although we were not to keep the strangely grown plant itself,, we have the best of evidence that it had existed in absolute incontrovertible reality.
I felt very sorry for Yolande; she seemed distressed for the fate of the great Lily which was visibly beginning to suffer. I think she had made three attempts to take it before she succeeded, and the last was on the 5th of July-eight days after the plant had grown up in our midst, when it vanished as mysteriously as it had come. All we knew was that at 9.23 p. m. the plant stood in our midst, and at 9.30 it was gone; not a vestige remained to show that it had ever existed, except the photographs we had taken and a couple of flowers which had fallen off.