Mysterious Manifestations: Did Madame Candler Conjure Spirits of the Dead?

Looking back on the practice of mediumship during the nineteenth century, the majority of the claims made by spiritualists of that strange period are taken today with a healthy dose of skepticism. Known for elaborate trickery involving moving tables, the production of “ectoplasm”, and feats such as levitation and automatic writing, there is much in the sordid history of American spiritualism that brings trouble to the skeptical mind, especially if it has to do with claims to the veracity of what many mediums had said they were actually doing at the time.

Nonetheless, a rather strange set of circumstances was shared with me a while ago, courtesy of a Gralien Report correspondent and good friend of mine named Vance Pollock, having to do with a medium that was once well-known in the Southern California area. Bertie Lilly Candler, whose name appears equally throughout the works of various spiritualist circles and early UFO and contactee accounts alike, was believed by many to be one of the finest, and most believable spirit mediums of her day (though it should be noted that her operations took place in the early twentieth century). According to Pollock, she was so good, in fact, that she had on several occasions caused manifestations of the deceased–right before the startled eyes of family members–who would later report that the individual with whom they were interacting, without question, could have been no other than their lost loved one.

Vance told me about one occasion in which Candler had apparently managed to track down the wayward spirit of a deceased medical supply and pharmaceuticals salesman, who she then “manifested” before an emotional widow and young daughter. Pollock had tracked down the latter of these two after a lengthy search, and was able to interview her about the experience. “Without question,” Vance said, “she had felt that the person she saw that evening could have been no one else but her deceased father.” Apparently, the witness said that this incredible apparition had even undone his tie, having pulled the knot off to the side in a familiar fashion that the woman’s late father had often done upon returning home from work in the evenings!

Could it actually be that the once famous Bertie Lilly Candler had managed to harness an incredible ability to manifest spirits of the dead (among other things, as we’ll soon see) at her popular s


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Mysterious Manifestations: Did Madame Candler Conjure Spirits of the Dead? — 1 Comment

  1. The concept of Tulpas is older than John Keel. He got the concept from French explorer, Alexandra David-Neel (the first European woman in Tibet). She described how the holy men there initiated her into the rites of creating a tulpa, and how she conjured up a round little monk. She assumed that she was hallucinating him until villagers started directing questions to the “hallucination”. She eventually lost control of it, its features changed (growing gaunt and malevolent) and then monks had to convene a special session to wish it away.

    There was a psychic in the mid-20th Century who claimed to be able to create “animal tulpas”. What separates his claims from those of others was that he actually got plaster casts of them in real-time.

    In a similar fashion, Boston medium Mina Crandon had her “spirit control” dip his hand in paraffin in order to leave an impression (showing the hairs on his hands, fingerprints, etc.) The interesting thing about it is that it’s impossible for a real human to duplicate it. Dipping one’s hand in paraffin is easy enough. But once it dries and you try to extract the hand, it crumbles. So when skeptics tried to duplicate her feat, they found themselves flummoxed. Even the great Harry Houdini tried to debunk her and failed.

    So was the “spirit control” a tulpa? Something capable of assuming seemingly-human form, but evaporating at will?

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