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Observations placeholder

Maria R. Zierold



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mary Rose Barrington, Ian Stevenson and Zofia Weaver, A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki,  2005.

In the early 1920s Gustav Pagenstecher and W. F. Prince reported observations of the clairvoyance of a Mexican, Maria R.Zierold. She had consulted Pagenstecher, a practicing physician, for medical reasons, and he hypnotized her therapeutically. Quite unexpectedly, he found that during hypnosis she showed knowledge outside her normal perceptions. He then began systematic experiments with her.

In one experiment Pagenstecher let Maria Zierold handle pieces of pumice stone that had previously been treated differently; for example, one piece had been exposed to a high temperature, another placed for a time inside the frame of a large clock. When used as test objects the separate pieces seemed indistinguishable to normal senses. Maria Zierold correctly stated the several different "treatments" given to the pieces of pumice (Pagenstecher, 1920).

In a later experiment, Maria Zierold read a letter concealed in an opaque cover. The letter had been found in a bottle washed ashore in the Azores. The writer of the letter had been on board a ship that was sinking, and he just had time to scribble a few lines sending his love to his wife and children. Maria Zierold described with strong emotion the circumstances of the letter's writer. She described his physical features, including a large scar above his right eyebrow.

Proper names in the letter led to the writer's identification. He was a Spaniard living in Cuba and a political refugee, who had been trying to return to Spain from the United States. His wife had last heard from him when he wrote to her from New York early in 1915. He was presumed to have drowned when crossing the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger on a ship torpedoed by a German submarine as happened at that time. His wife confirmed the correctness of Maria Zierold's description of him, including the scar above the right eyebrow (Prince, 1921).

Maria Zierold experienced emotions, sometimes strong ones, corresponding to the events she narrated, if these had been stressful to the person connected to the object or message she was holding. She had no paranormal powers when not hypnotized.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps