WHAT is teleplasm? What is its source? At what point does it emerge from the medium's body, and at what point does it retreat? What is its colour, its texture, its degree of organization, and its fate?
Knowledge of this strange substance is meager. What little we have been able to discover comes from studying the photographs and from Dr. Hamilton's shrewd medical appraisal of certain unusual behaviour patterns of the entranced mediums.
Concerning the apparent source (and suggesting that its origin is related in some fashion to an abnormal muscular activity), Dr. Hamilton
"At time when a sitting was in progress Mary M. could be heard making peculiar gagging, gasping, coughing or choking sounds, these sounds suggesting that her digestive and respiratory organs were being seriously disturbed, the disturbing factor in each instance being apparently an abnormal one. Occasionally when a sitting was over, she complained of being nauseated, and sometimes vomited forth white frothy mucus. Sometimes during a
sťance she sighed as if fatigued, at other times groaned as if in physical distress. As each class of reactionary features was frequently as pronounced during a sitting at which no mass appeared, as at the experiments where a teleplasm emerged and was photographed, we were led to conclude that Mary M.'s organism was being as much 'drawn upon' during the preliminary and so-called 'negative' sittings as it was during the objectively produced sitting at the end of a series.
"The outstanding features exhibited by the auxiliary medium 'Ewan' are also noteworthy. These were frequent spasmodic contractions of the limbs, muscular contractions, and at times exceedingly rapid breathing. There were occasions too when this medium's respirations were extremely subdued, and still others when they ceased entirely for several seconds, and were then resumed with great effort and deep-drawn inspirations, as if the respiratory muscles themselves were in a state approaching spasm. Associated were whimperings, panting, and occasionally violent sobbing, indicative of a seeming state of agonizing distress. Again, while these Ewan reactions were invariably pronounced to a marked degree for several minutes immediately before a mass appeared and while it was manifesting and being photographed, any or all of these reactions also manifested at times during the preliminary experiments. This strongly indicated that this man was also a producing centre, not only at the end, but during the whole series of experiments, the outcome of all this being not a manifestation of teleplasm on or near his own body, but on or near the body of the medium Mary M., or separate entirely from anyone in the room.
"The auxiliary medium 'Mercedes' also exhibited abnormal trance features. On many occasions she passed spontaneously from the ordinary trance sleep into a state in which the whole musculature of her body and limbs became spastically fixed, similar to that seen in severe tonic conditions. Early in this state the knee jerks were exaggerated, but later the joints became immovable, the jaws locked, the pulse slow, the eyes firmly closed, the eyeballs insensitive to touch, and the breathing almost imperceptible. At times this state of rigidity assumed a still deeper stage, resembling that of rigor mortis. Consciousness and sensibility were in complete abeyance. This amazingly profound sleep, probably closely allied to certain cataleptic states as seen in some subjects under very deep hypnosis, continued as a rule from eight to ten minutes, and on two occasions at least, lasted for fifteen minutes after the
sťance was over. In every instance this death-like trance preceded or accompanied a manifestation of great magnitude (such as those described in
Chapters 10 and 11). In every case Mercedes returned from this state in the reverse order from that in which she had entered it; that is, the rigidity began to decrease, breathing resumed its normal flow, pulse, both in rate and tone, returned to normal. She again became a functioning medium in the ordinary state of trance, quite unaware of the experience through which she had just passed. Regaining an approximately normal level of consciousness, she frequently complained of feeling exceedingly cold, and was sometimes nauseated, especially if the cataleptic state had been unusually long. Sometimes she showed a tendency to lapse into a semi-dazed condition even after she had left the
sťance room, but she never failed to return to her normal state of perfect mental equilibrium after a short period. In so far as I have been able to discover, no other mediumship hitherto has revealed so profound or so extended a cataleptic condition as that which I have just outlined, and which always supervened in the presence of the other deeply entranced mediums whom I have just named. As the phenomena resulting from this particular mediumistic amalgamation were the only major materializations to manifest apart from the medium Mary M., with no visible connection with her body, we were compelled to assume that Mercedes' organism was called upon to supply products not produced by any other medium in our group, and that these products became available only when she had entered the extremely passive state set up by the cataleptic trance.
"Another outstanding feature of the Mary M. group was this: often the mediums exhibited rhythmic movements of their hands or feet, such as stamping, rubbing their hands together, rubbing the wood of the cabinet walls, rubbing their own arms and sometimes the arms of the adjacent sitters, or of another medium. This was a most curious demonstration, but the results obtained led us to believe that these rhythmic movements were definitely purposive, as the controls claimed, bringing about the release of certain 'forces' not otherwise available.
"Another unusual feature of the work was this: out of the thirty or more persons who took part as regular sitters at one time or another during the course of our experiments, sooner or later, nearly half came to reveal reactions of one kind or another, especially when a mass was imminent. Their hands might become cold and clammy; they might feel 'cobwebs' on their faces or some other part of the body; they might experience shivering sensations; or they might unaccountably feel faint, as if they had suddenly been deprived of some of their normal physical vigour. When the sitting was over, very often they would experience a feeling of nervous and physical exhaustion quite out of the ordinary. In short, there was excellent reason for believing that many of our regular sitters, whether they were aware of it or not, were also contributing factors in the production of these strange teleplasmic masses.
"This assumption was further supported by the additional fact that seldom did exteriorization take place except in the presence of a practically full group as constituted at the time. We also found as a general rule that the greater the magnitude of the phenomenon, the greater the number of sittings preceding its appearance. This led us to assume that the Mary M. teleplasms were the outcome of a process of accumulating and storing unknown material over a considerable period of time. Such material was apparently acquired from every psycho-dynamic source available throughout each series of consecutive sittings.
"Findings of this nature were by no means confined to the Winnipeg investigations. Schrenck-Notzing, writing of a flocculant substance which he saw issuing from Eva C's mouth, remarked that this emergence was accompanied by 'deep respirations and convulsive muscular efforts', and that her muscles showed a tendency to muscular
"Writing of the same medium, Dr. Gustave Geley said: 'The phenomena appear (when they appear at all) after a variable interval, sometimes very long, an hour or more. They always begin by painful sensations in the medium. She sighs, groans intermittently, like a woman in travail. These groanings are greatest when the mainfestations begin to appear. They diminish or cease altogether when it is
"Abnormal respiratory disturbances have also been witness with the Boston medium. In company with Dr. L. R. G.
Crandon and Dr. Mark Richardson in Boston, I have observed Margery's respirations fall as low as five or six to the minute, a condition which, under ordinary circumstances, would indicate the near approach to physical dissolution, or if observed in a patient under deep anesthesia, would be regarded as an exceedingly grave condition demanding immediate attention.
"Keeping in mind the trance behaviour of the medium Ewan, I quote from Osty's work with Rudi Schneider: 'When the white light was extinguished, Schneider became silent in his chair. After a lapse of two to five minutes, he shook himself roughly several times, his respiration was suspended and then suddenly took on a rhythm of a very high rate which continued with variation for the whole time of the
sťance, except for several moments when Rudi gave brief verbal directions, and at certain periods, few in number, when the respiration ceased entirely from thirty to sixty seconds... As soon as he had passed into the
somnambulic state Rudi breathes with a respiration of extraordinary rapidity, notwithstanding that the entire musculature of the body is contracted. Under these conditions he labours to produce and exteriorize the 'force' from which he will make the invisible substance given to Dr. Osty to observe... When the substance's production is difficult Rudi has his arms held instead of his wrists, and with his hands quickly rubs up and down the controller ... Rudi, entranced, explains this act: 'It is the medium who furnishes the power in the first place, but if he lacks it, he must take it from the
"Both the Osty-Schneider and the Mary M. experiments point to the possibility that other persons besides the recognized medium may be contributors in physical
sťances, and that one of the methods of realizing this contribution is frictional rubbing by the hands of the medium or mediums.
"Arising as they do out of independent investigations carried on in different parts of the world with different mediums, these numerous parallel findings indicate fundamental facts of great significance which science cannot afford to ignore. Medical researchers working in the telekinetic and teleplasmic fields have unwittingly supplied metapsychical science with the first bedrock test of genuine mediumship. All mediums who produce genuine phenomena sooner or later reveal unmistakable signs that they are experiencing very real physiological and psycho-physiological disturbances - basically the same in all of them, and over which they appear to have no normal
As to the colour, the points of emergence, of location, of retreat, we find the following:
With Mary M. the photographed substance appeared to be white. Black areas in the material occurred infrequently. The substance appeared to have issued chiefly from the eye-sockets, the ears, the nose, the mouth, and occasionally the breasts. The point of occurrence, or the position it actually held at the time the exposure was made, was generally in the region of the head, the shoulders, and the breast. On several occasions the photographed mass appeared to be several feet from the medium. The point of retreat - where the mass was assumed to have re-entered the medium's body - was inferred by study and comparison of consecutive exposures made a few moments apart. In such cases the mass in the second photograph appeared to be a residue of the first. Continental observers sometimes saw the material return by way of the orifice through which it had emerged, while at other times they reported that the material disappeared from view by vanishing into the air in much the same way as a cloud disappears. Geley
"The disappearance of materialized forms is as curious as their formation. It is sometimes instantaneous; in less than one second the thing that had been seen or touched simply disappears. In other cases the disappearance takes place by degrees. One can observe the return to the original substance and its re-absorption into the medium by the same changes as arise in development, but in reverse order. In other cases, the disappearance can be seen little by little, not a return to the amorphous substance, but a progressive lessening of the perceptible characteristics. The visibility slowly diminishes, the contours of the ectoplasm's face become effaced and
Like emergence and retreat, the final disposal or fate of teleplasm following re-absorption into the medium's body is a matter about which we still know or suspect very little.
Most thoroughly revealed by the Hamilton data were the degrees of organization and the textures. It has already been noted that teleplasms assumed many shapes and forms. These we classify according to degrees of organization:
1. The unorganized or formless. 2. The semi-organized, where the form reveals some manner of intelligent manipulation. 3. Utilitarian, showing an intelligent use of the physical properties of the extrusion. 4. The differentiated plasms.
Unorganized masses commonly occurred one or two sittings prior to the appearance of more complex forms. In the opinion of the directing intelligences, such masses were simply test-masses, used to find out whether the material being gathered for a particular phenomenon could be utilized in the desired manner. Such unorganized extrusions added little to the knowledge of the substance already gained from a study of other masses. They will be mentioned below in their chronological relation to the organized masses with which they were respectively associated.
Utilitarian plasms appeared to have undergone deliberate alteration in the arrangement of their component parts. Such alteration generally resulted in an effect imitative of some object, such as a hand or a boat, or in a re-arrangement of the plasm so as to disclose the differentiated areas to better photographic advantage. Processes resulting in the former are called 'imitative', and in the latter, 'purposive'.
In market contrast to these two types were the differentiated plasms containing areas of material which were photographically (and probably biologically) similar to human hands and faces.
A fifth and somewhat anomalous classification of materializations includes hair, veils, clothing, which somehow became objective in the experimental environment long enough to be photographed, and which were probably brought into the observational field by means other than those used in teleplasmic productions. Schrenck-Notzing and Richet included this last group in their definition of teleplasms. We recommend its exclusion until its origin and occurrences are more clearly shown to be similar to those of true teleplasm.
The fibrous structure of the Mary M. plasms is the most interesting and at the same time the most difficult study which the photographic data will permit. One turns to a detailed examination of the photographs to discern if possible any relationship between the substance's fibrosity and the state of plasmic organization. Evidence will be presented to show that variations in fibrosity seem to occur with the formation of such contours, cleavages and surfaces as give to the plasm its organized modes.
Fibre compaction varies widely. In the common amorphous type, the bulk of material appears to be composed of randomized short fibres. In another type, the fibre and grain show a striated structure, resembling sheet - or fascia-like material. Relatively thick strands of teleplasm may occur, in some cases these are seen to form an intertwining network.
One may attempt to judge fibre density and internal cohesion of the plasm on the basis of texture. Plastic cohesion may be inferred from the presence of strands which join two contours or surfaces created by manipulation, since the presence of such strands indicates that the plasticity is high enough to resist the tearing action of the manipulation. Some masses appear to be hanging in mid-air. Such examples should be carefully scrutinized for indications of the method by which the material is held in position.
Dr. Hamilton obtained some three hundred exposures of fifty-two separate teleplasms. Some thirty of these fifty-two have been chosen for photographic illustrations of this report. The following Table indicates the distribution of varieties of types.
Mary M. Teleplasms
Classified According to Grade of Organization
The largest number excluded were of the unorganized, which in our opinion were the least interesting and important. Nothing has been lost by the omission of three imitative and eight differentiated plasms; one example is given of the five "veil"
Schrenck-Notzing, op. cit., p. 52. Back
(2) Geley, op. cit., p. 183.
(3) Eugene Osty, "The Unknown Power of Spirit Over
Matter". M. L. Hamilton (translator). Paper given before the Metapsychic Institute of Paris, reported in the Paris Journal Je Sais Tout, June
(4) T. G. Hamilton, ibid.
(5) Geley, op. cit. p. 189.
(6) This number does not include nine exposures made of teleplasms which were photographed