The Mental Aspect of Physical Mediumship

Zofia Weaver has a background in linguistics, is a member of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research, and Associate Editor of the Society’s Journal. Her Polish connections mean that she has access to sources never published in English, and she concentrates her research on the contribution made to the field by famous Polish psychics, such as the clairvoyant Stefan Ossowiecki and the physical medium Franek Kluski.

Historically, the main objective in investigating physical mediumship has been to establish the veridicality of the reported phenomena. The phenomena themselves follow fairly well-established patterns: breezes blow, raps rap, furniture moves, unexpected objects appear, and sitters are touched. However, with some mediums, some of the time, we encounter lights, mists, ectoplasm, materialized hands, arms, faces, and even full human figures.

As investigators, we are mainly concerned with the mechanics, with what is produced, how it might be produced naturally (and often fraudulently), the quality of the reporting and the credentials of the investigators. However, when you reach the stage where you cannot come up with natural explanations, and the phenomena are beyond the “normal paranormal”, it seems worthwhile to look beyond the physical manifestations to their meaning, to how they reflect the relationships between those involved, what might be going on in their minds, and why the phenomena take the form they do.

Physical mediums tend to be viewed more as conduits for the manifestations than as active participants in their creation, with the investigators playing the part of detached observers. Yet in the case of the more meaningful phenomena, the relationship between the medium, the sitters, and what is produced clearly involves a considerable degree of mental entanglement and clairvoyant messaging. The phenomena are also entangled in the wider context of culture and class – not in the stereotypical sociological perspective sense, but in the anthropological sense of cultural meanings, norms and values that apply to particular groups and individuals at a particular time in history. In my paper, I look at selected spectacular mediums from different cultures, such as Eusapia Palladino, Indridi Indridasson and Jan Guzik from that point of view. However, I pay particular attention to the case of the Polish writer Teofil Modrzejewski, also known as the medium Franek Kluski, and argue that, for him, mediumship may have represented an eventually irreconcilable clash of cultures.


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Haraldsson, E. (2011). A perfect case? Emil Jensen in the mediumship of Indridi Indridason, the fire in Copenhagen on November 24th 1905 and the discovery of Jensen’s identity. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 59, pp. 195-223.

Ochorowicz, J. (2018). Mediumistic phenomena. Translated by Casimir Bernard and Zofia Weaver, edited by Zofia Weaver. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 32(1). 85–160, 32(2)349–411.

Weaver, Z. (2015). Other realities? The enigma of Franek Kluski’smediumship. White Crow Books.

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Published on April 16, 2022