In 1908 at a hotel in Naples, the psychical researchers W. W. Baggally, Hereward Carrington and Everard Feilding attended a series of séances with Eusapia Palladino. In a report they claimed that genuine supernatural activity had occurred in the séances, this report became known as the Feilding report. In 1910, Feilding returned to Naples, but this time accompanied with the magician William S. Marriott. Unlike the 1908 sittings, Feilding and Marriott detected her cheating, just as she had done in America. Her deceptions were obvious. Palladino evaded control and was caught moving objects with her foot, shaking the curtain with her hands, moving the cabinet table with her elbow and touching the séance sitters. Milbourne Christopher wrote regarding the exposure "when one knows how a feat can be done and what to look for, only the most skillful performer can maintain the illusion in the face of such informed scrutiny."
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.
The Austrian medium Rudi Schneider was investigated in 1924 by the physicists Stefan Meyer and Karl Przibram. They caught Rudi freeing his arm in a series of séances. Rudi claimed he could levitate objects but according to Harry Price a photograph taken on April 28, 1932 showed that Rudi had managed to free his arm to move a handkerchief from the table. According to Warren Jay Vinton, Schneider was an expert at freeing himself from control in the séance room. Oliver Gatty and Theodore Besterman who tested Schneider concluded that in their tests there was "no good evidence that Rudi Schneider possesses supernormal powers."
“When we used to send telegrams, each word costs money,” Matthews explains, “so you’d have to send very few words like, ‘Big baby. Mother well. Come to hospital.’ And you’d get the gist of it. I read cards in a very similar way—starting from a few general keywords and making sense of them by filling in the words that are missing. This isn’t the tarot style of reading where you project things, like, ‘I can see that you’ve recently had a great disappointment. Mercury is in retrograde and da da da.’ A cartomantic reading is much more straightforward and pragmatic, for example, ‘Your wife will eat tomatoes and fall off the roof and die horribly.’ It’s a direct way of reading, a pre-New Age way of reading.”
Like common playing cards, the tarot has four suits (which vary by region: French suits in Northern Europe, Latin suits in Southern Europe, and German suits in Central Europe). Each suit has 14 cards, ten pip cards numbering from one (or Ace) to ten and four face cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Jack/Knave). In addition, the tarot has a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool. Depending on the game, the Fool may act as the top trump or may be played to avoid following suit. These tarot cards, without occult symbology, are still used throughout much of Europe to play card games.
Some scientists of the period who investigated spiritualism also became converts. They included chemist Robert Hare, physicist William Crookes (1832–1919) and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Nobel laureate Pierre Curie took a very serious scientific interest in the work of medium Eusapia Palladino. Other prominent adherents included journalist and pacifist William T. Stead (1849–1912) and physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930).
King Saul of Israel sought counsel from a medium called the Witch of Endor. The armies of Israel were about to be attacked by the Philistines. Saul was in rebellion against God and in desperation sought the services of the spiritist. "So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.” (1 Samuel 28:8 NKJV). Saul then asked the medium to conjure up the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel, to ask his counsel regarding the pending Philistine attack. "And the king said to her, 'Do not be afraid. What did you see?' And the woman said to Saul, 'I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.' So he said to her, 'What is his form?' And she said, 'An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.' And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.'" (1 Samuel 28:13-14. NKJV)
No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino–individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well–that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.
Taking a step back, we should be thankful that we live in an unprecedented time in the history of the Church. Literacy is taken for granted, but it was not so in earlier times. Access to books used to be far more limited; in Marsh’s Library in Dublin, for example, books were so rare and expensive that they were chained to desks inside of cages. Compare that to modern times, where we have some of the greatest works of literature and theology available online at our fingertips. How blessed we are! The tradition of the Catholic Church and all the writings of her saints are priceless aids that we need to utilize. Yes, need!
Often, I will do a Skype call with my best friend in the evening, when she is off work. She lays the cards out for me on her Turkish scarves then - ta-da! - the fortune-telling happens. Because she knows me so well, since we were pip-squeaks, it is helpful to have her insight on what each card forebodes. After the reading, I get to process it all with my pal then take it with me into my dreams.