Maria Silbert was a famous Australian physical medium. She was most well known for her telekinetic abilities as well as trance phenomena and the appearance of stigmata on her body as well as spiritual apports in her presence. As a child she was also known for predicting future events, though it appears that this ability became lost to her when she started to develop her physical mediumship skills. It was reported that before the appearance of an apport (a physical object manifested in our realm from spirit) there would be a strange light phenomenon that took place, similar to lightning strokes that would light the room, an effect that was never truly explained by any of the investigators that were sent to test her skills.
The spirit that worked with Maria the most, and was widely regarded as her guide or control spirit was named Franciscus Nell who claimed to be a doctor. One of Nell’s party tricks during a séance was to engrave his name upon a cigarette case that was held beneath the séance table. Though this sounds like it is open to fraud the name was scrawled several times in succession while the hands of the medium were held firmly in place, and she was observed at all times.
While her skills were respected in her home country of Australia her abilities were not so readily recognised in Great Britain. She did manage to work with three British psychic investigators over a number of years, who were less than impressed by the skills that she displayed. Despite Maria producing effects both visually and physically for which they could not offer a scientific or rational explanation they concluded that she was a fraud. Truth be told, they only focussed on the physical objects such as the name writing, not finding any explanation for the loud noises and strange light show that also occurred during the séances that she held.
The Debate Continues
While there were continued investigations carried out into her abilities there were still those that refused to believe that she was nothing more than a charlatan, a fraud with no psychic skills whatsoever. However those that would denounce her as a fraud soon started to keep their peace as strange misfortunes began to affect those that publically sullied her name, there was talk of curses and the evil eye being in play.
While there were some that continued to claim that aspects of the physical mediumship that she presented could be carried out by less than supernatural means, there was some agreement that there were a sufficient amount of unexplained phenomenon that occurred in her presence. The, loud raps, taps and strange apports seemed to support her claim that she did indeed possess some psychic ability, though it was only the aspects that showed Maria in a negative light that were published by those that ran the investigations. Maria Silbert died in 1936 with the debate surrounding her real or fraudulent skills still active.