Osty, Dr Eugene - Supernormal faculties in Man – Mme Morel, in deep hypnosis, finds the body of a dead man
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Supernormal faculties in Man- Dr Eugene Osty
…., there is always a disposition to think that the phenomenen may have consisted in an unconscious transmission of thought between the living, near or far, since the matter revealed was in the thoughts of some living person or other.
I shall now cite a fact which will prove :
(1) That metagnomy does not need the thoughts of the living to delineate the life of the deceased.
(2) That the function of the objects touched by the percipients to direct their faculties upon a person living or dead, is not, as some have naively imagined, that the object registers some scene like a photographic plate, nor by some obscure memory resident in matter. The object used in the instance subjoined was not at the scene which it, nevertheless, was the means of revealing
On March 18th, 1914, M. Louis Mirault, manager of the estates of Baron Jaubert, living in the Chateau de Givry, near Cours-les-Barres (Cher), wrote to me to enquire whether it might be possible to trace an old man who had disappeared since March 2nd, and of whom no trace could be found, despite long and active search. I accepted, and M. Mirault brought me a neck-wrapper belonging to the old man taken from a wardrobe.
In order not to complicate the experiment I asked him to tell me nothing about the old man's disappearance, but only to give me an exact description of him, so that I might be able to recognize the details that the sensitive might give, and to distinguish these from perceptions relating to other people who had touched the neckerchief.
He only told me that the man was eighty-two years of age and walked with a stoop. Nothing more. I was up to that time ignorant of the old man's existence.
Concerning the estate of Baron Jaubert, which covers about 2750 acres of woods, I knew no more than can be seen from the road to the chateau. These were the conditions under which on Monday, March 23rd, I placed the neck-wrapper in the hands of Mme Morel, in deep hypnosis, in Paris. She had never been into the department of Cher. "Look, I said, for the person whose neckerchief I place in your hand."
Mme Morel first described a person whom I recognized as myself, then that of another man who seemed to be M. Mirault, then that of a woman whom I thought might be the daughter-in-law of the old man, and, lastly, that of the old man himself. Here are her words, verbatim.
"I see a man lying at full length, his eyes are closed, as if sleeping, but he does not breathe . . . he is dead. . . . He is not in bed, but on the ground . . the ground is damp, very damp . . . flat ground, uncultivated. . There is water not far off . . a large tree . . some very big thing quite near . . something very bushy-a wood."
"Follow that man on the day he went there. Look for the way he went."
"I see a country house. He leaves that . he walks. . He is ill, his breathing is difficult and his brain is confused. . . . He leaves the path goes into a thicket, a wood he sees much water near by . he falls on the damp ground then after a little time he breathes no more. It is not far from the house to the place where he is lying. . Follow the path from the house towards the water. There are two paths from the house, one goes up and the other down towards the water. The latter is the one to take: he went that way."
"Describe the place where he is lying and give a description so as to find the place."
"I see blocks of stone very large trees and water. . . . I see the body . . . it is lying on the wet ground. . . He is bald, has a long nose . . . a little white hair above his ears and at the back of his head . wearing a long coat soft shirt . hands closed. . . . I see one finger which has been hurt . . . very old and wrinkled . . . pendant lips. . Forehead much furrowed, very high and open . he is lying on his right side, one leg bent under him."
"Why did he fall there? "
"He threw himself down confused ideas He fled from his house; a troubled brain . . he had a notion of dying . . he wished to die and lay down on the ground . . . it was then damp, but the rains have made it much wetter."
"Blocks of stone" in a chalky district where rocks are not common, "large trees," and " a piece of water " : I thought that these data should enable M. Mirault to find the body if the description tallied with the facts. The percipient, moreover, had exhausted all she could give at a first trial. I gave her a rest, and directed her lucidity to other matters. These details sent by letter caused great astonishment at the exact description of the man, but they did not help.
No rocks were known. There were several ponds on the estate which had been dragged and whose borders had been minutely explored. Large trees were very numerous in these woods. But the assertion that the body was not far from the old man's house stimulated fresh search, which yielded no results. Not till then did M. Mirault tell me the circumstances attending the old man's disappearance and the sequel.
M. Etienne Lerasle, aged eighty-two, but still active though mentally enfeebled by age, had left his son's house on March 2nd for his daily walk. When he had not returned by nightfall, which had never happened before, the family and their neighbours searched and shouted, but to no purpose, During the following days the villagers searched the more willingly that they thought the old man lost or ill, but still living. This went on for several days. On Sunday, March 5th, at the request of the Mayor of Cours-Les-Barres, eighty men searched the forest and the neighbouring district without success. Nothing was found to indicate the way M. Lerasle had gone.
M. Mirault, who had been absent from Givry before the old man's disappearance, caused fresh search to be made on his return March 13th. Ponds were dragged, but nothing found. On the 18th he asked for metagnomic help. The results of the first sitting were interesting, but of no assistance. All parts of the forest are more or less alike; they are large quadrilaterals of thick undergrowth, divided by rides and paths all much alike. The visit that I then made to the place, already so thoroughly explored, made me despair of getting from the percipient anything that would distinguish one part of the woods from another. It was not my convictions that led to ultimate success, but that of M. Mirault, who thought that as the description of the man himself was so accurate the other data should be equally so. The difficulty was to find some landmarks, and this I thought insurmountable.
My interest in the matter was not very strong ; it seemed to me less striking than others, and, being very busy, I entrusted M. Lucien Galloy, my brother-in-law, an engineer in Arts and Manufactures, with further enquiries through Mme Morel, with whose faculty he was well acquainted, and was also familiar with metagnomic psychology.
He received from M. Mirault the map of the district to a scale of 1/50,000 and a plan of the estate to a scale of 1/5000, on which to follow Mme Morel's indications. M. Galloy knew neither the old man nor his family, and as concerning the place, only, like myself, as much as can be seen from the principal road from Cours-les-Barres to the chateau-the mass of forest on the one side and the landscape of the valley of the Loire on the other.
The second sitting took place on March 30th, and gave the following results: " Look for the old man to whom this neckerchief belongs."
"I see an aged man . . his face is much spoiled, decayed, blackish . he is lying down, stretched out on his right side, one leg bent . . dead. He is lying in a thicket, in a thickwood. . . . By him I see a great stone, a small rock . a little further there are other stones. . . ."
"Look for the road he followed when he left his house for the last time."
"I see large buildings, several houses. . There is a wide avenue towards these houses. . The man comes from these houses . he takes a small path which goes downwards. . He walks along it and comes to a pond . . goes straight on . passes in front of other buildings turns slightly to the left. In front he sees many trees and thickets from the road he follows there is a wide landscape
He passes near a small house. There is a barrier and a place where three paths meet . he takes to the left, follows that left-hand road, and goes into the wood by a little path that is by the nearest of the small houses.
"On this left-hand road there is a hut containing tools and beside it a pile of cut wood. . . . This hut was a woodman's house . . between it and the house at the cross-roads there is a bare space. . The man took a small path that leaves the road. He is an old man with an intelligent, furrowed face tufts of white hair, hanging lips . he did not go far into the wood he feels ill, lies down, sleeps and dies.
"The hut is not visible from where he is, it is hidden by the trees; to find the body one must follow that path . . the corpse will soon be found."
This second seance confirmed the previous one and gave surprisingly minute details of the direction taken by the old man till he left the main road. As neither the plan nor the map gave the side-paths, M. Galloy did not ask for more, thinking the data given sufficient. This was to be regretted, for when the detail was followed out it was found that two paths started at the same point of the road, one to the right, the other to the left. The data of the stones was of no use, no one knew of any.
The "water" was equally useless, for the heavy rains had made many pools which might correspond to the visions. On the other hand, the son of the deceased refused to accept the itinerary said to have been followed during all day on March 2nd; he had been working near the house at the cross- roads, and that his father, who walked very slowly, could not have passed by without being seen. All the people of the house confirmed this. In default of more exact description it was decided to do nothing; the old man was dead and there was no reason for haste. The particulars to be given at a third sitting were awaited.
This took place April 6th, M. Galloy presiding. " Look for the person to whom this belongs."
" I see a man of ordinary height . . white hair . . rather bald . long face . long nose . toothless . pendant lips . dead . . . lying on his right side blackish face, one leg bent very wet water on his face. He is not in the water, but there is much water there in round pools . . . many trees a large stone near him big trees. . . . He has a flannel shirt in two colours . . open collar. I see it quite well . he is surrounded with undergrowth."
" Look for the exact way he took when he left the house."
"He leaves the houses passes by the side of them goes towards the other houses reaches the cross-ways where three roads meet, in front of which there is a house He passes a barrier hesitates he has an old stick in his hand he taps the ground with it his mind is confused he goes to the right on a descending road . . hesitates . returns to the cross-ways leaning on his stick . takes the left-hand road . . walks on its right side, holding his stick and a check handkerchief . . . passes near a fence and goes into the wood by a path which is barely visible on a level with the road goes there with the intention of hiding. . . . "
From where the body is, the house and the hut are not visible; one must go back to the road to see them. . He did not go far into the wood . . . near the place where the ground slopes down somewhat. . .
This time the search was restricted to the square of undergrowth served by the path so exactly indicated, and if the visions were correct, the body should easily be found. A large brook goes through this thicket, swelled here and there into round pools after heavy rain. M. Mirault ordered five men to search this part of the wood, following the brook. Soon one of them, seeing a projecting rock, cried out,
"There is the stone she saw . there is water close by; the body might be there."
A few yards further on he saw the body, quite in the open, though a whole number of villagers who knew the ground well, searching for a month, had failed to find it. Informed by telephone, I reached the place an hour later; and in company with M. Mlirault and other persons, made a minute investigation.
The details have been fully described in the Annales des Sciences psychiques for April, 1914, with a plan of the ground and nine photographs, I therefore here give it abbreviated.
Place where the body was found. It was stretched out in the middle of the thicket. Ten yards away one can see what looks like a moss-covered rock, but is really a huge tree-stump quite out of the ground. The ground where the body is lying is flat. Four yards away it slopes to a pool in a brook, the only brook in this part of the forest. On the further bank there are other moss-grown masses, smaller than the other, but also resembling stones. A few yards distant several large trees, and forty yards away a tree, said by M. Mirault to be the biggest in the whole forest. The surroundings are exactly as described by Mme Morel.
The corpse. The face is exactly as described. The old man wears a long coat, soft shirt, turn-down collar, in two colours, black stripes on white. Large check handkerchief.
The itinerary taken. Easily verified it cannot have been any other than that described. From the house where the old man lived to the place where the body was found the distance is about 650 yards in a straight line, and about three-fifths of a mile by the road and path. "Not far," said the percipient.
I have chosen this instance rather than others more sensational, because it is simple, typical of the class of these perceptions, undeniable, and because I can quote names and places, and the facts were witnessed by a large number of persons. The reader should particularly notice the power of percipients to seize on the detail regarding a dead man otherwise than through the thoughts of the living or an obscure memory contained by objects presented. I emphasize that the neckerchief, taken from a wardrobe and, not from the corpse, enabled Mme Morel to answer the questions put to her, concerning the last moments of M. Lerasle; but from this same link there could have been gathered many other episodes in his life, known (or unknown) to living persons.
I make this statement having verified it in analogous cases. And I say further (having experienced the fact) that the mere presence of a member of his family would have aroused the same perceptions, without any material object being handed to the percipient. Such objects (as will be seen in the sequel), localize the metagnomic perception on a human subject and do not act as a register of events at which for the most part they were not present, as in the case above cited.