Exhibits in the Haunted
Museum are based on the work of Troy Taylor from his
book, Ghosts by Gaslight!
Click on the Cover for More About the Book!
Ectoplasm was (or is) an odd and elusive substance that,
while skeptics refute its existence at all, is reported to be totally
repulsive. It is a seemingly lifelike substance, solid or vaporous in nature,
that allegedly exudes from the body of the medium and can be transformed into
materialized limbs, faces and even the entire bodies of spirits. Ectoplasm
often appears to be milky white in color and smells like ozone, according to
Coined by a French scientists named Charles Richet in 1894, to explain a
third arm that allegedly appeared from a medium named Eusapia Palladino,
"ectoplasm" came from the Greek words of "ekto" and "plasma", meaning
"exteriorized substance". Earlier than that though, there had already
been reported vapors exuding around
Home and others.
These emanations are reportedly warm to the touch and often are reported
as thick, clotted, mucus-like substances. They can be rubbery and
dough-like and emerge from a body orifice, such as the mouth, ears or
nose but can also come from the eyes, navel, nipples and even the
vagina. The structure of the ectoplasm varied from clouds and veils, to
thin rods, membranes and heavy masses. Ectoplasm was also reported to
disappear when exposed to light and would snap back violently. Touching
the ectoplasm, or exposing it to light, was said to be able to cause
injury to the medium. This was one of the reasons that mediums insisted
that sťances should take place in near darkness and that sitters should
not approach the mediums or the emanations that had formed.
A Belfast medium named Kathleen Golligher allegedly exudes ectoplasm
from her vagina during a sťance.
Critics had their own reasons for darkness and the
avoidance of exposing ectoplasm to investigation -- fraud. Analysis that had
been carried out on samples of the substance yielded few clues. Most critics
claimed that it was chewed paper, gauze or fabric, which had likely been
regurgitated. One investigator stated that the ectoplasm that he studied was
nothing more than "butter muslin." He added: "It always has been and always
will be.. I did seem some produced in a sťance once. It smelt appallingly of
body odor, which wasn't surprising, considering where it was kept."
Medium Eva C. supposedly produced an ectoplasmic face from her ear
during a sťance. Many of her "faces" were later revealed to have been
cut from a Paris newspaper.
Investigator and magician Harry Houdini found most of the
ectoplasm that he uncovered to be obvious trickery. He had seen mediums who
used rubber bladders to blow ectoplasm from their mouths and had found others
using cotton rubbed with goose grease and still others using strips of cloth
that had been fashioned into odd shapes and veils. It was also easy, as
Houdini himself knew for the mediums to swallow all sorts of substances and
then regurgitate them at will. Houdini often would swallow and then cause
keys, needles, thread and other items to re-appear again.
He, and many other investigators, came to the conclusion
that most sťance attendees were so amazed by ectoplasm due to the power of
suggestion. Strange and bizarre substances that appeared in the midst of a
sitting would seem incredibly dramatic in a dimly lit sťance chamber and once
the lights came up, the ghostly emanations would have vanished! Who wouldn't
Fraudulent or phantasmic? Who can say? Believers were absolutely convinced of
the reality of the stuff and skeptics (and some would say the rational!) were
completely on the other side of the fence. Houdini once wrote that: "Nothing
has crossed my path to make me think that the Great Almighty will allow
emanations from the human body of such horrible, revolting, vicious shapes,
which like 'genie from the bronze bottle' ring bells, move handkerchiefs,
wobble tables and do other flapdoodle stunts."
Another ectoplasmic figure appears from the mouth and nose of medium
Mary M. in Winnipeg, Canada in 1929.
An unconvincing photo of medium Margery (Mina Crandon)
as she emanates an ectoplasmic form
© Copyright 2002
- 2008 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
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