Anyone familiarizing himself with 19th century Spiritualism will be in for surprises, and sometimes hilarious situations for the ones who have imagination. Although fraud was rampant, many of the strange happenings really occurred and were witnessed by reliable, often scientifically trained investigators. Here one of those.
Mrs Agnes Nichol Guppy (1838-1917) was a powerful physical medium. Physical mediums are people who can bring about materialisations of spirits, apports of lifeless objects and living specimens of plants and animals and much more. Such mediums have been rare, but they existed – and maybe still exist.
Mrs Guppy was one of those extremely talented people, who was examined closely for years by Alfred Russel Wallace, the biologist who partnered up with Darwin on the Evolution theory.
Like many mediums Mrs Guppy was large. Not someone whom you associate with flying lightly through the air. But flying happened to the big woman regularly in seances, when she was in a trance. Attendees of her seances had seen her fly over graciously on more than one occasion..
But the story of the most spectacular flight is written down in psychoanalyst Nandor Fodor’s book ‘These Mysterious People. (1936). It happened on June 3, 1871. He writes: “From her house in Highbury she was whisked away by an invisible power to the London house of Charles Williams, another medium, living at Lamb Conduit Street nr 61, a distance of 2 miles as the crow flies.”
At that particular hour there was a seance going on in the house of Charles Williams, where one of the circle had wished , just as a joke, for Mrs Guppy to arrive. Well, she did. She crashed on the table in the middle of 10 people attending the seance. Imagine.
Mrs Guppy was still in trance at her unexpected arrival, but she regained consciousness pretty soon. In her right hand she had a wet pen, for at the moment she was taken up she had been writing a letter. Some clothing dropped down from the ceiling after her landing. And some flowers as well.
Her husband was in the room at their house writing bills on the moment of her departure, but all he witnessed was a slight mist.
All people involved, most of them well educated and upper class, swore to what they had seen and wrote it down, signing with their names. Although the press did everything to ridicule Mrs Guppy’s flight (and funny it certainly was!), the testimony of so many people was hard to dismiss.
Those were the days, folks, those really were the days.