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The Mystery of the Afterlife - Science Is Baffled By Harry Price

(Exact source and date unknown, but almost certainly October 1939)

The Mystery of the Afterlife - Science Is Baffled

By the Ghostly Nun in the Haunted Rectory.

By the Dead Child Who Reappeared in Her Mother's Arms

Harry Price Has Spent 30 Years Scientifically Probing the Claims of Spiritualists. He does not “believe” but these things, he says, science cannot explain…

'Life after death,' “Survival,' “The other side” those are phrases with which most of us are familiar. We hear of people who claim, in all sincerity, to have been in touch with the dead.

Spiritualism is a faith that has millions of honest followers. As an ordinary member of the public you have probably said to yourself: 'Well, there must be something in it.'

You have read of the miracles seen and heard by Spiritualists you have also read of the exposures of fake mediums, fraudulent séances, catch-penny Spiritualists.

What is the truth?

What has science to say about Spiritualism?

Has anybody investigated psychic phenomena with the cold, calculating, fact-probing eye of the laboratory research worker?

Can you, as an independent member of the public, separate the false from the true?

As a newspaper man I have attended séances and with my own eyes and ears learned many astonishing things.

I have met and talked with sincere Spiritualists whose good faith could not be for an instant doubted.

I have, likewise, talked with people, experts in conjuring, trickery illusion, who have scoffed at the whole business of Spiritualism. Two sets of equally convinced, equally sincere people.

What is the ordinary man or woman to believe?

Until yesterday I had not encountered the scientific, detached, impartial approach to this vast subject of Spiritualism.

But I have just finished reading the story of a man who has spent thirty years studying psychical phenomena, in his own experience and twenty years before it, a man who has given up his time, money, and interest to investigating the whole fascinating, puzzling business of Spiritualism.

He is Harry Price.

Today he is the honorary secretary of the University of London Council for Psychical Research.

Mr. Price's attitude to Spiritualism is purely scientific. Faced with the miracles of communication with the dead, he says: 'Will you let me test it with scientific methods?'

Harry Price has been sifting evidence, trying out the genuineness of psychic manifestations asking awkward questions, all his life.

What has such a man to say to us?

The answer is in a book just published called 'Fifty-Years of Psychical Research.' The firm of Longman's Green and Co. publish the book, and the price is 10s. 6d.

There is no trick, no clever gadget, no bluff or illusion that Mr. Price has not encountered in his thirty years of research.

So when he sums up his findings we are listening to a man who must have overwhelming proof before he is convinced.

One of his most astonishing cases is concerned with a haunted rectory.

'Just as my first case convinced me of the existence of 'rattling spirits,' so one of my latest cases has finally and absolutely convinced me of what, for want of a better term we call 'ghosts,'' writes Mr. Price.

'This case is a rectory which, in 1929, I was asked to investigate. Little did I think as I sped the sixty odd miles northwards in my car, that I would spend nearly ten years in an effort to discover who, or what, was affecting the house—and finally rent the house myself which I did for twelve months.'

The phenomenon that today still Harry Price, veteran of thousands of séances, is a ghostly nun who appears every twelve months at this Suffolk rectory.

One of the clergymen who lived there had the window of one room, where she appeared blocked up with bricks, although this quite spoiled the appearance of the old house. But the nun still made her ghostly appearance every September.
This house, Borley Rectory, is called the 'most haunted house in England.' The things that happened in it, and which Mr. Price cannot yet explain, are astonishing.

There were mysterious writing on the walls, the violent displacement of objects, incessant bell-ringing, stone-throwing, and outbreaks of fire, which culminated in the destruction by fire of the house.

No clergyman could to-day be prevailed upon to live in Borley Rectory. As for Mr Price he is continuing his researches into the history— and the ruins—of Borley.

In the past thirty years Harry Price has been responsible for exposing dozens of false mediums, fake communicators with the dead, bogus trance-throwers, fortune tellers, and spiritualist traffickers.

But of two people he admits that they produced spiritualist phenomena which were the most impressive of any physical medium of whom there is any record today.

 These two astounding mediums were Willi and Rudi Schneider, the sons of an Austrian linotype operator.

Harry Price and Dr. E. J. Dingwall subjected Willi Schneider, first, to the most grilling tests under scientific conditions.

One of these tests was an 'electric chair,' an armchair with electrical contacts at every point touched by the medium's body. Head arms, feet, seat, hands were all in contact with electric light circuits: when a hand or foot was not in contact a small red signal light would automatically switch off.

Furthermore, the medium, all sitters in the séances, and the investigators wore metallic gloves and socks, forming part of an electric light circuit. The gloves and socks could not be removed without instant detection because they were taped on. If a sitter let go of the hand of his neighbour (the whole party had to hold hands during the séance), or moved his feet from the metallic plate screwed to the floor, one of the lights went out and revealed the break in the circle.

The test on Willi, and later his famous brother Rudi, are described by Mr. Price as 'conditions of control never previously imposed on any medium or sitters in the whole history of psychical research.'

What did Mr. Price and his fellow investigators see in these fraud-proof séances?

Wastepaper baskets floated into the air, and remained there, a phenomenon called 'levitation' in the psychic world Knots were tied in handkerchiefs

'Teleplasmic' masses resembling hands and arms appeared, and wrote messages on paper. Curtains billowed. There were raps and knocks on tables and chairs. The sitters felt cold winds and sudden drops in temperature, gentle taps and tugs on their arms.
Mr. Price tells of a curious brushing sensation that he felt at the Rudi Schneider séances.

'It was just as if something, invisible and intangible was squeezing itself between the backs of the sitters' chairs, and the net cage which enclosed us. Each sitter felt it in turn as the ' something ' passed round the circle. I have never experienced a similar phenomenon with any other medium.

Mr, Price says of Willi and Rudi Schneider that, 'so far as physical phenomena are concerned, the Schneider boys are the sheet anchor of psychical research.'

But with dozens of mediums Mr. Price easily produced the explanation, usually a simple conjuring trick designed to filch money from the credulous or the simple-minded seekers after truth.

Mr. Price's chapters on the mechanics of fraudulent spiritualism are as amusing and fascinating as the life stories of Houdini, Horace Goldin or Will Goldston the famous music-hall illusionists.

He reveals that there is in existence a catalogue of apparatus for faking psychic effects.

The very, very few people 'in the know' can buy a spirit-rapping table, a slate for dark-séance writing a self-playing guitar, special luminous paint a telescopic reaching rod and luminous materialistic ghosts and forms.

But in the catalogue of charlatans and humbugs unproven phenomena, unsatisfactory tests and unexplained mysteries that Mr. Price gives you in his book there is one astonishing story that stands out above all others.

It is the story of Rosalie, the six-year-old child who reappeared in her mother's arms, in apparently solid flesh, long years after death

Mr Price himself calls it the most remarkable case of materialisation, or alleged materialisation, that he has ever witnessed in his thirty years of investigation into spiritualism.

He was able to have only one test of this amazing visitation, and though he took every precaution against deception that even his long experience suggested, he still feels it possible that he might .have been deceived.

'But if I was deceived, how was it done, and what possible motive could there have been?' asks Mr. Price.

Rosalie was the daughter of a Frenchwoman who married an English officer and was left a widow with this only child The small girl died at the age of six. The mother was a spiritualist believer, but not apparently a medium. Pour years after her death, the voice of the little girl came to her mother in the night, crying, “Mother.'

This voice was so real and so striking that the mother woke up. The voice came frequently, and the mother used to lie awake to listen to it. Ultimately the mother thought she could see, in the dark, the dim outline of her little girl, and later, declared that her hand was clasped by that of the dead child.

The mother joined a private séance circle, and after some years the form and voice of Rosalie materialised in the private séances.
To one of these Mr. Price was invited, and all the stringent tests, checks, and precautions that he imposed as a condition of his visit were willingly granted. There seemed to be not the slightest possibility of concealment or fraud.

This is what Mr. Price writes of the appearance at this séance of the little girl Rosalie.

'I realised that there was something quite close to me. I neither heard nor saw anything, but I seemed to smell something that was not there previously. It was a strange, not unpleasant smell.

'Something slightly touched the back of my left hand which was resting on my knee. “I sensed rather than knew that the mother was fondling her child.'

Given permission to touch the 'materialisation,' Mr. Price stretched out his left arm and to his amazement it came into contact with, apparently, the nude figure of a little girl, aged about six years.

'I slowly passed my hand across her chest up to her chin and cheeks. Her flesh felt warm, but not so warm as one would expect to find normal human flesh. I could distinctly hear her breathing.'

After this Mr. Price spoke to Rosalie and received an answer, and was also able to shine a luminous plaque on her, which showed him the form of a beautiful child.

The materialisation of Rosalie lasted fifteen minutes.

'If I had witnessed the materialisation in my own laboratory I should not hesitate to proclaim that survival was proved,' says Mr. Price.

 

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