Born in Italy in 1854, Eusapia Palladino’s arrival into this world was to mean the death of her mother. The loss of her mother hard enough to bear, her father was murdered in 1866 leaving her alone in the world. She claims to have heard strange raps and taps on the furniture in her home, especially when she touched it or leant against it. She would see eyes watching her from across the room and through the night her bedclothes would be pulled away from her by unseen hands. As an orphan she was adopted by a well to do family who discovered pretty quickly that she was no ordinary child. Her talents were really thrown to the fore as a result of the work done with her by noted psychic investigator Signor Damiani. He was guided to her through the messages that his wife received from a spirit named John King, who gave directions to Eusapia’s home, citing her as the reincarnation of his daughter and an extremely powerful medium.
A Developing Talent
In the early years of developing her mediumship she had a distinct talent for psychokinesis, before developing the skills which made her famous around the world. She became widely known for the spectral phenomena that would appear around her such as spectral limbs and the manifestation of almost complete spectral bodies. The spirit of John King became her control or guiding spirit and he would speak to her only in Italian. It is claimed that she could make a table move in a specific direction just by glaring at it, even making it lift into the air simply by raising her hand. The events that happened in one of her séances were seemingly the result of persistent requests from the sitters, almost as though the desire of those that were taking part in the séance were in control of what would happen.
A Scientific Conundrum
As the test subject for a number of eminent scientists she managed to prove herself again and again. At one point she was held by the hands and the feet in a wooden chair, while across the room on a wooden table was a hand bell. The room was darkened and as the séance progressed the sound of a bell ringing was heard above the heads of the sitters. When one of them struck a match the bell could be seen suspended in the air above them, ringing loud and clear.
Experiments and séances were carried out over a number of years into the physical mediumship exhibited by Eusapia. While some claimed that the events of the séances were the result of trickery others were convinced that her powers were in fact real. Even while performing séances in America opinion was divided as to the truth in her abilities. However those that were truly convinced included a famous magician named Howard Thurston who gave credence to her ability of making items levitate, citing that he know of no other way that she could have achieved the things that she did other than by having a real ability.