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24Ectoplasm article--from the Guardian

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  • l_a_derrick
    Jul 20, 2005
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      Super goo

      Mark Pilkington
      Thursday July 21, 2005
      The Guardian

      "Before my eyes a large spherical mass, about 8in in diameter, emerged from the vagina
      and quickly placed itself on her left thigh while she crossed her legs. I distinctly
      recognised in the mass a still unfinished face, whose eyes looked at me."
      Baron Albert von Schrenck Notzing, the respected Munich psychiatrist and physician from
      whose book, The Phenomena of Materialisation (1923), this passage appears, became
      fascinated with mediumistic phenomena while conducting hypnotic experiments in the late
      19th century. The Baron studied the medium Marthe Beraud, known as Eva C, for over a
      decade, though he didn't witness her more spectacular manifestations, taking testimony
      instead from her adoptive mother.

      What the Baron calls "mediumistic teleplastics" is better known as ectoplasm ("formed
      outside of the body"), a mainstay of physical mediumship demonstrations of the later 19th
      and early 20th centuries. Emerging from every orifice on the medium's body, ectoplasm
      would first manifest in the shape of drops or a thin thread, before expanding to take on
      shapes: human, animal or abstract. Sometimes viscous like albumen, sometimes more
      rubbery or netted like muslin, the substance was said to be sensitive to touch and sunlight
      hence, conveniently, the preference of mediums to perform undisturbed, in darkness.

      Those mediums, mostly female, who subjected themselves to investigation often
      underwent an ordeal of restraint and invasive examination. Some, like Beraud, managed to
      convince researchers that their psychic expectorations were paranormal in origin;
      numerous others were exposed as frauds.

      In 1931, Scottish medium Helen Duncan - in 1944 the last person to be prosecuted under
      the UK Witchcraft Act of 1735 - was examined by famed psychical researcher Harry Price.
      He was unimpressed. Duncan's ectoplasmic emissions consisted of cheesecloth, safety
      pins, rubber gloves and an organic substance that may have been egg white. Price wrote
      up his findings in Regurgitation and the Duncan Mediumship (1931), whose title reveals
      the uncomfortable method by which Duncan produced her ectoplasm.

      The psycho-spiritual effluvia of a more innocent age, ectoplasm was unable to survive
      such harsh exposure and can now be considered among the lost arts of the Victorian