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Recent Publications 3:
The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof:
The Enigma of Séance Phenomena
by Rosemarie Pilkington
PF Lyceum Blog #18
posted March 22nd, 2007
Rosemarie Pilkington, Ph.D.
After reading my first book, the anthology Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections, my late friend, personal mentor and gadfly, Martin Ebon, said that my next book should show “the heart and soul of Rosemarie.” Well, I don’t know whether I accomplished that with The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof, but in essence I’ve written what I believe about psychic phenomena in general and physical phenomena in particular. (For information about the book and the table of contents click here.)
I started out to tell only the story of my friend, the extraordinarily talented Gilbert Roller who, aided by other teenagers in the 1930s, produced table tilting and levitations, raps ectoplasm, direct voice, no-hands-on automatic writing, and thought photography in a series of well-documented séances.
There are no pictures of the levitations or ectoplasmic forms produced by the “Bindelof” boys, but they left detailed minutes of their sittings and a wealth of “messages.” These were written by a pencil on ordinary paper placed on the lower shelf of the small night table they used. They would hear the pencil rapidly moving on the paper, crossing “t”s and dotting “i”s, faster than any of them could write normally. Sometimes after the pencil was “slapped” down the paper would be crumpled into a tight ball. They would have to put on the lights, unfold and smooth out the paper to read the message. Some of these were short answers to spontaneous questions but others were full page “treatises” on various topics.
As I got into the subject I realized that, especially for novices in the field to understand and accept these mind-boggling occurrences, I needed to put the teens’ experiences into their historical context, to show that other gifted individuals had produced, and were still producing, these extraordinary “violations of physical laws.” What is more, I needed to make a case for my own conviction that these phenomena were not necessarily caused by either divine or demonic intervention, nor were they necessarily communications from the deceased, but were the result of living physical and mental forces.
I also wanted to reach as many people as I could to tell them of these strange and wonderful talents, which most people think are science fiction or out-and-out fraud seized upon by the gullible or the bereaved who grasp at any “proof” of an afterlife. My purpose was also to reach scientists and medical professionals to try to demonstrate that if, as the evidence shows, these phenomena exist, the laws of science as most people understand them are incomplete and that we know very little yet about human abilities. Such phenomena might even lead the way to harnessing these forces or replicating them to alter gravitational fields or change molecules in unimagined ways to benefit others.
Renee Haynes used the term “boggle threshold” to indicate the limits of people’s acceptance of psychic phenomena. Having witnessed some startling psychokinetic outbursts myself, and having known others who had also experienced them, my boggle threshold was pretty high. However, some of the historical cases I reported on far exceed most people’s boggle threshold, including mine, and yet the evidence overwhelmingly I believe supports their reality. Consider, for instance, the phantom Katie King who, looking like an idealized version of the medium who produced her, walked among observers under controlled conditions, conversing with them, allowing herself to be touched and her pulse to be taken, but occasionally partially dissolving before their eyes, or D. D. Home who could levitate himself, and cause heavy tables laden with china and glass to rise and tilt without anything falling off. He could also not only handle red-hot coals but could transfer the ability to others.
Home believed that he was only a conduit for the manifestations of spirits, as many other mediums did. (The photograph to the left is Florence Cook, the medium who produced the “Katie King” materialization. The photograph to the right is D. D. Home.)
In the 20th century there were talented people I call “secular mediums” who were able to produce these and other extraordinary feats without appealing to discarnate entities. I’m referring here to such people as the late Ted Serios who, like Gil and the Bindelof group, was able to put his thoughts on film, or to Nina Kulagina, and to a lesser extent, Felicia Parise, who were able to move objects, deflect compasses, etc. although doing so was so great a physical and mental strain that they would be temporarily debilitated if overworked.
Martin Ebon, who was employed by the Parapsychology Foundation for a dozen years, felt that this book was important and kept after me when I got discouraged, so as to get the story out to the public. I am happy to report that I was able to tell him shortly before he passed away, that it was being published. He was very pleased.
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