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Observations placeholder

Madame P Gayraud and the cracking table



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Death and its Mystery, At the Moment of Death; Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dying – Camille Flammarion
Letter 4001 from Madame P Gayraud

It was eight years ago, at the beginning of my married life, and already I bore in myself the hope of my future maternity; we were living in this same apartment which we occupy today, 5 rue Nobel, Paris.

One night, it may have been at 3 or 4 o’clock, I was awakened abruptly by the noise of the dining room window opening with violence.

‘Why’ I thought ‘what a windy night!’

I got up and went to close the window, supposing that I had neglected to turn the handle completely; this, however, is not probable.

I was calmly going back to my bed, when suddenly my attention was attracted in the darkness in which I then found myself, by a luminous spot visible on the wall of a corner of the room.  This spot looked like a disk, distorted in places and shed a very soft light, difficult to describe, at once vaguely like moonlight and phosphorescence.  I went up and mechanically put my hand on the glow, seeking to explain to myself whence it came.

I went to the window.  There was no moonlight; all was dark; everything slumbered in the nearby houses; no light came from without.  So it was not a reflection.  At that moment I grew afraid, but it was a stupid irrational fear, which made me scream and call my husband.

He awakened, switched on the electric light in our room, went toward the dining room and could discover nothing.  I then attributed this excessive nervousness to my physical condition; I went back to bed and fell asleep, reassured.

The next day I was awakened about 7 o’clock in the morning by a very loud cracking, that seemed to come from the dining room table, which I can see from my bed.  It appeared to me that fearful pressure was being exerted upon this piece of furniture; the noise lasted long enough for me to awaken thoroughly, and also to awaken my husband, who heard the end of the racket.

We owned a kitten, this little creature, being near the piece of furniture at that time, showed a strange uneasiness; it took a defensive attitude, its back arched, its hair on end, its gaze seemingly fixed upon something which it alone could see. 

We ascertained afterward that the table had split completely along its whole length.

At that time my husband’s father, who lived in Marseilles, was seriously ill with contagious grippe.  For the previous eight days we had been kept informed as to his illness.  Seized by a sad presentiment, after these strange occurrences, we expected to hear during the day of the death of this worthy man; such was not the case; we learned that at that very hour he had sunk into a comatose condition and died 48 hours afterwards.

During these last two days he spoke very rarely.  But on Thursday morning, the day of his death, he seemed for a short while to regain consciousness; it was to ask his wife what time it was

‘Nine o’clock’ she answered.

‘So my time hasn’t come yet’ he said, as if impatient.

These were his last words.

At exactly 1 o’clock he died.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps