Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catherine Crowe: Apparitions; and then Spirit {?} Lights.

When Catherine collected her great mass of case encounters, she found that she had a substantial pile of "miscellany" which she wanted to include, but which didn't organize too well. In the chapter that I'm reporting on here, she combined things that we probably wouldn't place together, but, being a people-person, she combined them due to the fact that they seemed to be related to a family over time. Some of this was clearly apparitional, but some was light phenomena, and there was a scatter of other matters including a "Black Dog" and a Banshee. [I'll save the Black Dog case and include it in a post on that subject later]. I find both the apparition cases and the lights to be interesting enough to include them in this posting whether we see them as one reality or not.

I want to start with a couple of "straight" apparitions and then move on to the lights. An Irish gentlemen was walking along a road when he came upon another gentleman who appeared to be extremely old, yet walked as a spry young man. Asking who he was and where he lived, the old man seemed surprised to meet a stranger on the road, as he thought that he knew everyone about. He said his name was Kirkpatrick and identified his cottage. The reporter of the case asked him how old he was, and he answered "105". Later the first man met others along the road [the old man had gone his way] and asked them about him. Oh yes, they knew who he was; he'd died twenty years ago. How old was he? Ah..he was 85. This tale was told Catherine by the experiencer himself, and he was still flabbergasted by it. Are we to believe that a very tangible-seeming ghost walked this Irish road for twenty years, keeping track as he did?

A second case was an old one [c.1650] which Catherine read from German sources and which had been investigated by the Academy of Leipsig. It involved a man named Christopher Monig, an apothecary's helper, who had died and yet seemed as if he hadn't wanted to. He would seem to return to work each day, move items around the shelves, weigh drugs on scales, pound ingredients to powder, and even take money from customers. At the end of a day, he would put on his coat, walk out, and [speaking to no one ] go to old acquaintances' houses, enter, but never interact [except to one maidservant]. To the young lady he spoke [or somehow communicated] but she fainted. The message was to go to a certain spot and dig. When this was done, a small pot of semi-precious stones was found. Monig was then disinterred and his body was found, unfortunately, just as one would have expected for someone not with us for awhile. Everyone [right up to the local Royals] by now being totally freaked out, it was suggested that all Monig's belongings be destroyed, whereupon the apparition no longer showed up for work [to everyone's relief]. This is the most "physical" apparitional story I've ever heard and I have no way to make sense out of it, other than to stop thinking about it. It is an apparitional poltergeist on steroids, and takes a very expanded Cosmos to encompass it, methinks.

The next case makes the bridge to light phenomena, and may or may not be illustrated properly by the accompanying picture. The portrait is of Lord Castlereagh, a well-known British politician who had ghostly business about, but whether the case I now tell was his, I am not sure. This is because Catherine abbreviates names [like Lord C___] in some stories. Castlereagh's name appears just before the tale, so I'm taking a chance and labeling this as having taken place in his estate. The tale goes that Castlereagh was hosting important friends at the castle, when they suddenly and with almost no ceremony upped and left, saying they could not stay another night. Castlereagh was disturbed by this naturally, and only many days later was able to inquire about what had happened. He was told that his guests were staying in very historical rooms, which had a reputation, but had been significantly lightened up with new furniture et al. The guests had retired to bed but at about one or two in the morning were awakened to find a glimmering in the center of their room which suddenly turned into a bright flame. Out of this flame then came "a beautiful boy, clothed in white, with bright locks, resembling gold, and standing by my bedside." He stared at the man [a minister] and his wife for several silent minutes, and then glided off towards a chimney and disappeared. With his disappearance, the room, which had been fully lit by the flame and the boy's radiance, was plunged into darkness. Catherine personally checked this case with the minister and was impressed with his vivid recollection, which, it seems, he never interpreted in terms of his profession.

Not all witnesses are as exemplary as the good reverend. In the next case the primary observer was one of the most notorious individuals of the era--and one of the first known serial killers. Gesche, or Gesina, Gottfreid was a woman who decided to get what she wanted out of life by poisoning everyone that she regarded as being in her way. She used arsenic to do her work, and then retreated into a persona of a gentle loving female that it was impossible to suspect of anything more than excess sadness over her losses [all thirteen victims were family members ]. After the "unexpected" death of her first husband, she told of standing in her drawing room one evening when a bright light came and hovered just above the floor, advanced at her, then disappeared. This repeated itself for three nights, culminating in a shadowy form that she interpreted as being her dead husband, haunting her. Despite being such a "poorly credentialed" witness, many people give some credence to her report, as it did not accrue to her advantage to talk of this at all. The fact that the apparitional light did not keep coming may have encouraged her to continue her reign of terror.

An out-doors-case that Catherine checked personally involved the sister of a friend. She was returning with a servitor, by horseback, to her friend's home in Wales. Halfway there she told the helper that he could return and she would go the rest of the way on her own. [another servant of her friend was soon to meet her and go the last half of the journey]. She however saw instead a light approaching. "It moved steadily on about three feet from the ground". Very concerned, she took her horse to the rim of the road, hoping that the thing would pass. It did not. It stopped at the closest point to her position, and only after one-half hour resumed its travels down the road. Everyone at the time interpreted this as a sign of a death to come, and sooner or later someone did die, to the maintenance of the folklore.

A servant was going to go to market early and was eating breakfast in the kitchen at 3AM. He heard the sound of heavy steps on the stairs above his position. Investigating the cause, he opened the door only to be greeted by a large bright light and a violent thump as if someone had fallen into or hit the clock on the stair's landing. He slammed the door, ran out of the house, and watched from a distance as the light emerged from the house and glided off to the nearby cemetery. Believing that this portended the death of the mistress of the house [who was ill], he reported so. But she recovered, foiling the prediction. It took twenty days until some other relative died elsewhere for everyone to decide that the premonition-laden light was right after all.

What I find interesting about these cases is the similarity of them to things which nowadays end up in the files of UFOlogists [the lights, that is, not much of the apparitions or poltergeists, although one can find touchpoints there as well]. The "stalking BOL" case of the lady on horseback was particularly striking. There are "stalkers" like that all over the files. What this makes me think is that these stalkers are probably not "core UFOlogy" at all, but some entirely different phenomenon, possibly spirit-caused, possibly Earth-force mystery, possibly both. Catherine realized that there were several kinds of apparitional lights in her files. There were the BOLS. There were lights seeming to proceed out of a figure. There were figures blazingly aglow with a light aura. And there were lights which came from no seeable force but illuminated whole spaces as if night had turned to day. I find it hard to buy at this moment that all of this is exactly the same thing.

Because it may be of interest to some, I'll tell of the "ether inhaling" experiment that Catherine did at the social event mentioned in an earlier posting. This was a bit of a craze in both Scotland and England at the time, to say nothing of being seen as finally the long sought after anesthesia for surgery. The device at the left shows the inhaler, and it could just as well be Catherine herself as model. The clip of the Lancet article below describes the ether experience as known by the doctors at the time--I've cut it off at stage two, as that is undoubtedly what Catherine experienced. I mention this particularly because Catherine was trying to find explanations for her mysteries, and thought that she'd found something in the Ether effects. Under the influence she felt that she filled with light and that this was perhaps a sign of the inner self's energies becoming visible to her in this altered state of consciousness. I don't rate Ron Siegel's debunking conclusions on drug states highly, but my guess is that he would be right about what Catherine "saw" rather than she. [still I'd rather have lunch with her anyday--skip the ether, though].

To sign off, here's an Aussie light photo of a "UFO" ball. Like Catherine's stuff or not? I think that they may be more like each other than flying disks and car-stoppers.

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