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Bouissou, Mme Michael

Category: Other spiritually gifted people

 

Madame Michael Bouissou was a medium and clairvoyant, a very able one.  She was, in some respects, France’s answer to Gerard Croiset, although, she did not become a full-time healer, using her gifts to see auras, under doctor supervision in order to aid diagnosis.  She was able to delve into people’s perceptions and bring out past events they had long forgotten, she could remote view scenes of crime and also describe the events around the living and the events preceding death using ‘bridges’.  She was a teetotaller and a vegetarian.

She was deeply critical of what she termed ‘spiritualism’  -  the use of séances to convince the sitters they were in touch with dead relatives, when in fact the person was simply acting as a medium, extracting details from the various sitters’ perceptions.   In other words the medium was using their ability to ‘read minds’, to extract details of the dead relative, in order to convince the person that they were communicating with them.  Although she was willing to admit that in some cases it provided comfort to people at a time when war and epidemics were ravaging an already stunned population, she found it wholly dishonest to extract money from people and even give very dubious advice purporting to come from the dead person.  In other words, she had a high level of morality and a code of ethics which directed all her work.

Life and career

We do not know the exact date of birth of Madame Michael Bouissou except that she says in her biography that it was ‘the turn of the century’.  She was born into a very wealthy family, living in some luxury in Paris.  They had a considerable number of servants, a mansion on the coast used as a holiday home and she was educated by a governess.  The family were Catholic and she remembers that  “as children, we were extremely well brought up by parents who had a very high conception of their duties.  We were refused nothing that could further our moral education”.

 

Although her father was fairly dismissive of anything remotely ‘supernatural’, her mother turned out to be as talented as a medium as she was, although her mother never used her skills.  As such it appears that Madame Bouissou’s skills were inherited.

In 1916, the entire family had to leave Paris in order to try to save her sister who had become seriously ill.  They spent six years at Pau and Arcachon.  Thinking, after the six years that there was some hope of her recovery, her father moved them all to a house in Saint Germain, which had a ‘very large garden with access to the street through a huge carriage gateway.’  But her sister died 6 months later and 2 months after this her mother died too.

She married disastrously.  It was loveless, a marriage of duty, and took her away from what family remained.  By the 1930s, she had two children and no husband, and she was forced to start to look after herself.  She had been to university and had ‘a few university degrees’, but it was the 1930s, and the degrees proved useless at bringing in an income.  She learned how to type and took a job with Editions de France as a travelling sales person.

Up to this point, although she had had one or two inklings of her talents, she had done nothing about them.  But through her job she met ‘Dr E’ a doctor and hypnotist.  And together, she, Dr E and his wife embarked on a series of experiments which involved her being hypnotised into a trance state – a state in which she knew nothing of what had happened until she emerged from the trance and was shown the transcript of the experiment taken by Madame E.

 

The sessions proved to be very comforting.  Held every Saturday evening in a “haven of physical repose and intellectual interest” and where she was warm! She was also able to escape the ‘gloomy and trying winter’ she was having as a consequence of selling practically no books.

The good Doctor E then moved onto trying some experiments in ‘astral projection’ – out of body experiences, which proved very successful.  She was clearly quite frightened of these experiments not for any religious reasons, but because she did not feel ‘in control’.  She was also acutely aware of the very real existence of the dark side of what she was doing, and did not want to get involved. 

Her biography is an excellent description of how a gifted person, through practise and help, gradually develops their skills, but it is also a salutary lesson on the types of powers one invokes by delving into these realms.  Twice she became inadvertently and innocently the victim of the purveyors of ‘black’ magic.  The description of her adventures are too long to include on the site, each one takes up a chapter of her book, but both chapters are grim reminders of the fact that evil – true evil – does indeed still lurk amidst us and that only love gives us protection.

 

She was helped by a lady she calls Madame D, who, on being present at one of the experiments of the doctor persuaded him that hypnosis was actually not needed,
She is an excellent medium, but why do you put her to sleep?  I do not think I am wrong when I say that if she directs her talents herself, she will make great progress” 

and so it proved.  Once she used her skills whilst awake she was able to develop her diagnosis skills

And then she lost her sales job, at a time when the depression was really taking hold.  There is a rather comical passage in the book which describes the financial problems she had at the time.

Even though, after making a lot of enquiries, I had two or three offers [of a job], the beginner’s wages would certainly not have enabled three of us to live [her and her children]; no hope of paying even the most modest of maids to do my housework, nor of meeting the school fees for my children on such a salary

 

She had to start to sell her possessions.  To make matters even worse, her, by now, good friend Dr E and his wife left Paris for good to live in the south.  But Madame D then took over and stated to train her in  mediumship using bridges – objects such as photos, letters, jewels gold and so on which had been in contact with the person.  Madame D also taught her symbolism.  She moved to Montmartre, took a job typing playwright’s manuscripts and started to take in the occasional non paying client to hone her skills.

Eventually Madame D broached the subject of going professional and full time.  Hesitant, Madame Bouissou sought advice from Dr Osty, the then head of the International Metaphysical Institute in Niel and he tested her after which she asked him should she become a professional fulltime medium and he replied :

"Why not? I know several professional mediums whom I consider to be excellent. In addition to the gift itself, the profession demands a great deal of psychology, a very great interest in and very often great compassion for one's fellow men. It won't be the happy people who come to see you, It will be those whose lives and future trouble them, and for every client who is purely interested in the practice of your gift you'll have nine ill-balanced consultants. …. . Remember above all that no person must leave you without feeling stronger, better armed and better warned of a possible danger, either moral or physical; remember too that never in any circumstance must you predict death or a fatal accident.
Nothing is more fragile than your gift and nothing in the world more subject to error. If you see a threat hanging over your consultant, you must warn him of it without in the least diminishing his moral strength or his balance.
Remember that after thirty successful consultations, with all the good faith in the world, you can make a mistake in your thirty-first. In such a case forget about your pride.  So much the worse if you're accused of having made a mistake and of being worthless, so long as you've done no harm. I tell you it's completely useless to try and force your powers. If you see nothing for a client, don't insist, and break off the seance immediately. That will remove the sometimes almost subconscious temptation to cheat and will keep your gift intact.
I imagine that it's unnecessary for me to mention the absolute discretion you must observe. You will be stupefied when you hear some of your clients' confessions and the advice they'll ask of you. And you ask me" he went on with a broad smile, "whether this profession, which exacts enormous self-discipline, extra-ordinary expenditure of nervous energy, apart from the gift itself, should be given honest remuneration. Well, what do you expect ?
Besides if you're no good, and that would surprise me, you won't make a living out of it. People are not so foolish and pure clairvoyance does not lend itself to fraud. Your consultants will disappear very quickly if what you've told them about their lives does not correspond to the truth."

I thought over all Dr. Osty had told me about the possible responsibilities of this strange profession. Never during the twelve years I practised it did I lose sight of his advice. I have learned since then that among the gypsies the women fortune tellers obey an imperative order never to predict either death or an irremediable misfortune. Those who do so infringe an age-old law, and when their tribes learn of it they are severely punished.

 

After this turning point, Madame Bouissou turned professional, starting with lectures to the public and to the Cercle Hemera, as well as a gradually growing clientele.

"What a strange profession you have chosen" said my father, when I admitted, rather nervously, that I was now a member of the honourable company of "sensitives".  From the day, displaying a rare obstinacy, I had contracted a marriage which my father had told me would turn out disastrously (it did so even more thoroughly than he could have imagined), he had never interfered with my life, apart from the time when he gave me his support and advice as to how to extricate myself from this idiotic marriage. I think he preferred not to know now what further eccentricities his daughter was capable of. Each time he came to see me, I thought I could read in his magnificent blue eyes (which none of us, alas, had enough wit to inherit) amazement at finding my children and myself living normally and not in a barge: & caravan or some other strange habitat. He knew that I was completely ruined, but since this was entirely my own fault I never spoke to him of my money worries because his own fortune had been very seriously depleted.

 

Just at the point when Madame Bouissou’s business was really taking off, and the financial security it gave her and the sense of job satisfaction had given her ‘a sense of peace’, the war broke out.  She volunteered to be a Red Cross helper.  She escorted evacuees, became the head nurse on a red Cross train and then became an assistant in an operating theatre.

Her father owned a factory which was taken from them at the start of the Second World War – requisitioned – although he continued to work there.  After the invasion of France her father died in 1941, ‘broken hearted after the defeat’.  His diary read “The Germans have entered Paris.  I have seen them here … my poor country”.  That was the last entry and he died ‘of grief’ a few months later.

She escaped the German troop invasion on 15th June, but returned to Paris to look after her dying father.  “It was so dark and cold that at night in my unheated studio the steam from the turnip soup dripped down insidiously on top of our heads”. 

The War was a nightmare that dragged on and on for her. 

 

I had never abandoned a certain nucleus of clients whom I received only on Saturdays and Sundays. I avoided publicity and gave no lectures. Two months after telling these few clients that I was resuming my regular consultations, I was working from two o'clock until ten o'clock at night. I stood up to this harassing toil, struggling against my mortal enemy cold, and insufficient nourishment; deprived of the almost indispensable elements to offset nervous exhaustion; and, having been a vegetarian for several years, giving all the meat to my children-in any case meat always revolted me. I had also to contend with the weariness of standing in queues for the least purchase and the difficulties of getting about. I nearly always went on foot for fear of being caught in the metro during an alert. The nights were disturbed by the anti-aircraft fire from the big guns in the Luxembourg Palace which made the house rock-an old solid house to which I had moved when my father fell ill. Since it was quite near his apartment, this new dwelling would have allowed me to look after him with greater ease, to go to see him nearly all the time and to stay late in the evenings instead of having a long walk home, terrified at the idea of my children being left alone during an alert which could possibly have become the real thing. But death had been quicker than I, and my father died the very day I was going to move my furniture in.

Madame Bouissou’s two children, a boy and a girl, survived the war and at the time she wrote the book, she was a grandmother, her son having married with children.  But she never fully recovered from the deprivations and hardships she had endured during the war years.  Her biography ends on this note:

I thought that my future was secure. I had confidence in my work. Admittedly I was tired and was rather surprised to find that fully clothed I only weighed 7 stone 2llbs; but I had confidence in my strength and said to myself that once the war was over a good rest would restore my balance and health.
I was wrong. As though a mysterious support which had fortified me during the war years suddenly collapsed when peace came, I suffered in succession a painful and serious surgical operation and an attack of influenza which developed into encephalitis. For months I was alternately paralysed, deaf and blind. When these symptoms vanished, the doctors told me that my nervous centres were seriously affected. I was incurable and there was no question of my ever resuming my own work. This was hard, very hard.
I was alone and there was no one, not a single relation who could help me keep an eye on my children. It was then that the miracle happened. The friend to whom this book is dedicated stretched out a hand and saved me from poverty and despair as a very dear sister would have done. It is to her that I owe the knowledge that even bed-ridden and in pain, even deprived of what are called the joys of life, it is still magnificent to live and that life is so rich in beauty, devotion and happiness that it seems too short even for an incurable invalid to enjoy it and savour it to the full.

We do not know when she died.

 

References

  • The Life of a Sensitive – Michael Bouissou, translated from the French by Mervyn Savill [1955]
  • Un Medium dans la Vie - Michael Bouissou, the original French biography on which the translation above was based, published in 1954 by Librairie Pion in Paris

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