Gustavo A. Rol's paranormal powers



A famous person

The reason why this page of the psychical research section is dedicated to the paranormal faculties of Gustavo Rol (1903-1994) should not be sought only in the various and certainly extraordinary phenomena that manifested through him and with his active participation, but rather in the information and testimonies that he himself left us, in the course of his life, regarding the psychic tunings experienced by his conscious Ego and the relationship between those psychic experiences and paranormal occurrences. The texts and documents to which we refer are the following:

  • Journalist Remo Lugli's book Rol - Una vita di prodigi (Mediterranee, second edition, 1997).
  • The book Io sono la grondaia... (I Am the Gutter... Giunti, 2000), edited by Catterina Ferrari, which collects various writings of Rol himself (diaries, letters, reflections, poems, etc.).
  • The website edited and managed by Franco Rol, a distant relative (non-consanguineous) of Gustavo Rol, as a nephew on his mother's side of the chemical industrialist and racing driver Franco Rol (1908-1977), a fifth grade cousin and fraternal friend of Gustavo. Franco Rol, born in 1972, currently living in Brazil, met and visited Gustavo for some years, until 1992, when he lived in Turin. For several years he has been conducting a research activity, a critical review of the sources and an in-depth study of Gustavo Rol's life and some aspects related to his complex personality and spirituality. 
  • Franco Rol's book  Il simbolismo di Rol (Lulu, 2012).
  • Franco Rol's book L'uomo dell'impossibile (The Unbelievable Gustavo Rol, Lulu, third edition, 2015).

Biographical notes

As regards the deepening of biographical information, you may refer to the aforementioned sources. Rol was born and died in Turin, the city where he spent most of his life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood, from 1934 until his death. His parents belonged to the good, industrious and severe, middle class of the time. His father, Vittorio, managed the Turin branch of the Comit (Banca Commerciale Italiana), of which he was one of the founding partners. Gustavo Adolfo was the third of four children. It seems he was an introverted child, not particularly brilliant in his studies. Then, as a teenager, he learned to play violin and piano, and his character became more lively and cheerful. Although belonging to a wealthy family, after enrolling Law Faculty and serving up to the rank of lieutenant in the Alpine Corps (1923-1924), he decided, on his father's advice, to earn a living as a bank employee in some foreign branches of Comit, including Marseilles, Paris, London and Edinburgh. In this period Rol had to face many difficulties, because life abroad was hard, and he reluctantly resorted to the financial aid that sometimes received from his father as a supplement to his modest bank employee's salary.   

It should be noticed that biographical information about Rol often have an anecdotal character, as based on what Rol himself told on several occasions to friends and people who knew him, and to journalists who succeeded in interviewing him, overcoming considerable resistance on his part, as he was reluctant to become object of public interest. Since a biographical research based on reliable documents has not yet been carried out, the most reliable sources to which we can address, to better understand the genesis of its faculties and the psychic tunings in which his conscious Ego was involved, remain his writings, especially the diaries of his youth and his letters, from 1923 onwards. Even in this case, however, the truthfulness of some of the narrated events is based solely on Rol's testimony.    

In May 1927 Rol met in Paris the Norwegian Elna Resch-Knudsen, a girl of good family and nephew of a minister: the two youngs fell in love and, despite the difficulties opposed by their families, married in Turin in December 1930. They had no children, but their union lasted sixty years, until Elna's death in 1990. According to what Remo Lugli wrote in his book, Rol's sister, Maria, told him that: «Elna had a quiet and secluded life, she spent a lot of time in her room knitting, embroidering, watching television. But sometimes Elna blurted out, putting her fingers to her forehead and saying: "I'm not blind, I see all these women who come to wait for him to carry him around". She was very polite, a sensitive soul and Gustavo adored her and was jealous of her, he always was, even in the last years she lived». Elna never showed much interest in Rol's paranormal faculties, and rarely participated in the convivial evenings during which Rol did his experiments, sometimes until late at night. Moreover, like many people born in the early twentieth century, neither Rol nor his wife enjoyed a particularly good health. Catterina Ferrari, which always remained next to Rol in the last years of his life, notes that: «Physically... despite being well built and with a strong temper, he was often hard tested. In fact, he suffered from diseases such as polyneuritis, diphtheria, typhus, tetanus infection; it was operated by peritonitis, hiatal hernia, gall bladder and prostate. He had his whole body covered by a frightful eczema and finally he was struck by bronchial asthma... with pulmonary complications that determined his dead». Maria Luisa Giordano, who was very close to Rol, told Lugli that Gustavo had a great affection for his wife, and he felt her as a lost child because of her foreigner condition and because of her fragile health.    

Rol graduated in Law in Turin in 1933. After his father's death in 1934, he resigned from his employment at Comit, devoting himself to the administration of his family assets. Until 1939 he made frequent stays abroad, during which he should have achieved the other two degrees that are attributed to him, in Economics in London and in Medical Biology in Paris, even if more precise information is lacking. He spoke English and French very well, and other languages quite well. He was recalled under arms, as captain in the Alpine Corps, at the entrance of Italy in the Second World War. After September 8, 1943, during the German occupation, he managed to save some partisans from being shot or deported to Germany, and at the end of the war he received a letter of official thanks from the mayor of San Secondo di Pinerolo, also on behalf of the Committee for National Liberation, for the courage shown in saving the life and property of many inhabitants of that small town, where the Rol family had a villa and some estates. In the post-war period he undertook the activity of antique dealer in Turin, which he carried out, with more or less success, for about a decade. Later, Rol's main occupation was to dedicate himself to others, trying to do charity, both directly and indirectly. Although he claimed to be a painter, he never made it in a professional way: he painted slowly, especially roses and landscapes, and his artistic level was that of a good amateur, not devoid of a poetic lyricism. More than one of his friends witnessed that his paintings could show paranormal properties, for example that his painted roses spread the scent of real roses, or that some figures in his paintings sometimes moved, as if they were animated.   

Rol's wife died at the beginning of 1990, and Gustavo was very saddened by her death. According to Lugli, they spoke little together, but they loved each other: however, he accused himself of making her suffer, behaving like «a naughty boy». It is not clear what he meant: although he had assured his sister Maria that he had never touched «the woman of another (man)», Rol was sensitive to the attentions that some women showed towards him. Regarding his character, his sister Maria told Lugli: «We loved each other very much, even though we had very different characters: I was very rational, precise; he, apart from his experiments, very vague: you could never be so sure of what he would have said or would have done. Sometimes he told me a lie and I did not like it. We also bickered, but we really loved each other. He was an extraordinary man, without equal; the press of every part wrote wonders about Gustavo, but he too knew how to value himself».      

Catterina Ferraritalks about Rol's state of prostration caused by the loss of his wife as: «a psychological self-flagellation that also physically brought him down. In fact he began having difficulty walking, it was necessary to support him. When I encouraged him, he showed gratitude for my words of comfort, he looked for my hand. He needed me and he repeated it to me, as soon as I walked away he called me, he wanted to have me near  him».  In the last years of his life he was afflicted by various diseases, until he died at the Molinette hospital in Turin in September 1994. The aspects of Rol's personality that we will examine now are: the psychic tunings prevailing in his life, the paranormal faculties he was gifted of and the explanations he was trying to give about «intelligent spirit» and «sublime consciousness».  

Rol's psychic evolution

About his early childhood, Rol said: «They always told me that I spoke very late and inappropriate». In 1923 he began to write in a notebook with azure pages thoughts and maxims permeated by a late-romantic sentimental pessimism and marked by a melancholy sadness, volitional ethic and empathetic participation in the sufferings of life: «Azure pages wet with tears; comfort of sighs, witnesses of hardships, rays of hope that inspire faith». Here are some examples: «When we are sad, the greatest comfort comes to us from what is sad». «It is more worthy a heart crowned with thorns than a noble crown».  «The best remedy to overcome the evils is will». «Money is the lord of the world, but hatred is above money». «Beware of men trying to win you with their smile. Beware of friends even if they inspire confidence». «What is life? A very sweet poison in which bitter granules float. You drink the poison and you die slowly. But without realizing it». «If some day your life will seem to you empty and sad, do charity to the poor and you will find what you have lost!». «I would sacrifice myself, heart and aspirations for my greatest desire. Nobody understands me: fools are men, foolish their reasoning. Tears do not touch them, smiles no longer cheer them up: so what is the value of living?». «Never believe that you can find your heart's generosity in the heart of another».

At the beginning of 1927, twenty-three Rol moved to Paris for work. His diary of that year opens with a description that looks like a scene of Boheme: «January 1st - After a stay of several months in the south of France, here I am, beginning another year of exile in Paris... I still bring with me, in the deepest of my heart, the rhymes of those verses written in the cold room of a fifth floor, in the dull light of an oil lamp: Life is a beautiful garden/ where all kind of things/ are going to bloom and wither/ just like roses do./ Spring sings/ on her silver lute/ the lyrics that the Fall/ wil disperse in the wind/ and the echo of that song/ comes back in every heart/ to leave there the regret/ of everything that dies». Rol admitted that he was an incurable sentimental: his inclination to pessimism towards life and his need to be comforted often emerged in his writings of that period, sometimes with tones of a melodramatic lyricism: «February 9th - I walked slowly, close to the damp walls. It was night, it was raining softly. I walked following a long time hidden thought, rather than the road. At the bottom of my heart, a voice whispered to me: "Come back!" I thought of the past time, of certain happy moments, of a serenity of soul now lost forever. At the bottom of my heart, a voice whispered to me: "Come back!" Sun and flowers, light and smiles. Bright colors and scents of summer. Everything was awakened in my memory. At the bottom of my heart, a voice whispered to me: "Come back!" If I had closed my eyes, I would have seen everything there, intact; all things as I had left them, in the same age, in the same life... At the bottom of my heart, a voice whispered to me: "Come back!" The walls ended and the last corner of a house broke my thoughts. I crossed a large deserted square. There was my house. A dark corner, a hole. The door. A dark staircase with an unpleasant smell. Finally the cry of so many pains and so many passions. On the floor, next to the door a little white square, a letter. My hands trembled, opening it, and my eyes filled with tears: one word, terrible, like the cry of an immense torment, in the immensity of an endless emptiness. A tragic word in its simplicity: "Come back! Your Mother"».

The relationship with his father

Despite his sensitivity, which sometimes manifested itself in forms of self-pity towarsd life difficulties, Rol was endowed with a strong will, which made him well determined in his choices: a will that was emphasized in the letters written to his father. As was often the case at that time, under the forms of respect and affection towards the father figure, impulses of rebellion and desires for freedom and autonomy could also be present. This was particularly true for Rol, who nevertheless always showed a strong attachment and sincere affection towards his parents. In a letter dated June 7th, 1924, written to his father while he was performing his military service, Rol wrote: «...since now I renew my desire to find a job as soon as I return to civil life». In a letter from Marseilles, March 21st, 1926, he described his commitments: «By now I can say that I no longer have a free hour during the day. In the evening at nine o'clock I go to learn English or I devote myself to my studies, while from half past seven to half past eight I teach Italian in a classroom that the Societé de Comptabilité de France has made available to me in Rue de Rome... I have about twenty students of both sexes, all employees and children of Italians... Of course this is a course that I hold for free... I do it with that great spirit that I have always had for humanitarian actions and that brings me closer to those who need help. On the other hand, I am also enthusiastic about the thought of rendering a service to my distant homeland». In the same letter, he also addresses some reproach to himself: «So sometimes I think that if I have to live far from you and in the need to earn my life with some effort, the wrong should be attributed only to myself for the little will I always had in the past to apply myself in studies».    

In a letter dated April 26th, 1926, Rol told his father about his state of mind: «I interrupted my letter because I was seized by a crying crisis so strong, so strong... Since a long time I cried no more this way: on the other hand I'm glad I did not lose this habit that reveals the most chosen feelings of my soul. I will no longer continue on this tone because, as it hurts so much to me, surely it will not result pleasant to you; but, what do you want, dear Daddy, you are all united, one next to the other and you can console each other of your pains. Carlo has his wife and his children, but I am alone, alone with all my thoughts and so far away, from everything in which I could have some confidence and find some relief when I need it. Every day that goes by I realize that I am unfortunately a great sentimental. I am convinced that in my life I will never be happy and that is why I wish it would not be long. If it is indeed true that the soul, detaching itself from the body, acquires the sublime powers of an unlimited, comprehensive spirituality, then, only then you who are my Father can understand how much I have loved on earth and how  much I suffered, as your son, of never having been understood. And perhaps tonight, at this moment that makes me feel distant and lonely, I dare to tell you these things, things that I will never repeat to you again because I know you do not approve of them. On the other hand I am well aware that I take the risk of being considered an exalted, while instead I'm certain that my head is fine, rather!... Forgive me this little confession which is an outburst of the soul and know how to sympathize. Do not judge me badly if in the past I have given bad results in applying to study. This should not be attributed to my lazyness, as you have always thought: it seems to me that now I show you enough that I am an active worker, and that I have also been able to sacrifice to my job all your affection, that to me consisted in living at home».

In his effort to afford the difficulties of life, certainly not easy at that time, young Rol began to realize that behind his father's severity  there was the drama itself of the human spirit that, attracted to this world with the illusion of being able to love and being loved, is then rejected or conditioned by the implacable needs of life itself, to the point that a father can not even show indulgence towards his own children, even if he would like to love them. The letter ended with these words of intense emotional impact: «Dear Dad, I was unaware that there was an exam session at Easter. Give me all the reproaches you want, tell me everything you want, but for heaven's sake, do not repeat that phrase any more: "If you had given some exam, at least the expense of your trip would have been more justified!" I read these words with the greatest bitterness because I realized how little the thought of seeing me arrive in Turin would make you happy, and think that I had been counting the days that separated me from this date for five months! I will hope well that you will not want to put me in a position to take upon myself the responsibility of my life, and completely disappear from you for a certain number of years, until I have reached my goal, to preserve intact, and as great as it is, all my infinite affection to you all! Thank you for the increase you ordered on my monthly availability. You know that I do not waste money and that I can understand how difficult it is to earn it. Once again I will tell you that for me it is very sad to have to resort to your bag to live, now that I'm twenty-two years-old. Now I leave you with the prayer of hugging all our dear ones and, holding you to my heart, I kiss you with the greatest affection».

These words must have an effect on his father, since in a following letter (the date of February 7th, 1926, reported in the book Io sono la grondaia... must be considered wrong) Rol wrote: «My dearest Dad, answering your letter is not easy: if you find sentimentality in mine, what should I say about yours? I do not want to say that it moved me, no, only I felt a whole new feeling on reading it: it seemed to me to have at my side a Dad whom I never met before, a sweet and sad Dad, and perhaps for the first time I understood some notes of your heart, which often seemed to me harsh and perhaps too severe. There is no one, I think, that can escape the will of the soul, and everyone, one moment or the other, have that moment of clairvoyance that pushes them to meditate on a small thing that happens right there, just right to open a vast horizon of light and truth... You tell me: "I do not know if I have made a mistake by making you embrace the banking career". I answer: "Yes, this was a mistake, but at the same time a duty on your part". If I had been a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, a soldier, it would always be a mistake. I am unfortunately born for an art that today is no longer understood by everyone: I am simply a misfit; my life is not in this noisy and material century: I live literally a century ago, but I can not enjoy the benefits of that era. Yours was a right, a holy right mistake. In my inexperience I could not discern things as they really were, and you did well not to allow me to walk along a path that would soon or later lead me to misery. I am grateful to you for this, dear Father, grateful with my heart. My will is as strong as the boulder and as stubborn as Misfortune: I will succeed in the bank or in the trade, because the rudder of my boat is built of a good wood: but the day that my boat will land at its port, then I will laugh at men and at the demands of material life, and perhaps even in the most difficult and dangerous environment, I will raise high the banner of my freedom which must be something terribly beautiful and frightfully tremendous, like the roar of a hundred seas braking against a thousand cliffs, like the roar of a thousand thunders clashing in a sky of fire». These words too highlight well the involvement of young Rol's conscious Ego in psychic tunings of a clear late-romantic origin.     

A complex personality

The reading of Rol's thoughts, letters and poems, collected in the book edited by Catterina Ferrari, leads to the conclusion that, at least until the age of thirty, Rol's personality presented elements of discontinuity, or even conflictuality, depending on the prevalence of psychic tunings linked to self-pity or will, pessimism or hope, interest in life or mysticism. It is not clear how much Rol was aware of it, but certainly it was troubled by this inner contrast. Probably there was also a convivial Rol, more inclined to happiness, even if there are no traces of him in his writings. In a more mature age this positive and jovial aspect of his personality was witnessed by several people who knew him and frequented his evenings among friends: Rol has been described not only as a man of culture and a fascinating talker, but also as a pleasant joke-teller. Arturo Bergandi, who for more than thirty years worked as the cleaner of Rol's large apartment in Turin, full of furniture and antiques, said: «He was a friendly man, kind and generous to everyone; with me he spoke almost always in Piedmontese, or rather Turin, dialect, calling me affectionately Bergandone. In his house, when he was there, good mood reigned: Dr. Rol loved to joke, I often heard him humming a cheerful motif or whistling some opera air». Some among those who knew him well remembered that, even in his maturity years, at times Rol could have almost childlike attitudes, that usually were friendly and genuine (like the enthusiasm he showed when his paranormal experiments were successful), but in some cases might seem whimsical.    

Another significant aspect of what we might call «mood changes» to which Rol was subject in his youth, can be found in his notes of the period in which he fell in love with Elna, the future companion of his life. The date on which Rol showed his feelings to the girl (which she reciprocated), is May 20th, 1927. In the following pages of the agenda often appears the name of Elna, in large characters, and the sentence: «Elna my true great love», until, on June 25th, Rol noted «Elna is leaving to Oslo! Alone! (Solo)», probably struck by the anagram between the city's name and his state of mind. It is true that at that time the only way for everyone to communicate at a distance was by letter, with long times, and so the distance of the loved one could be hard to bear, but it is quite surprising that just a few days later, in July, Rol wrote in his diary: «I am tired of living, of living and suffering. I have no ideal, no peace. I feel like a saint, and a criminal at the same time, yet neither I worshiped any god, nor I killed any man. I only wish for a moment that all my hair became white as chalk and my face furrowed with deep wrinkles, so that men could read on the pages of my face the black misery of my soul and the sad loneliness of my heart... This is how I feel: immensely lonely and immensely unhappy. All that I believe falls around me, little by little, like flowers cut off from the knife of experience and truth. Love is the only beautiful flower that resists this blade's edg: as it is intangible, made of sighs and feelings, I am not given to have it, because I do not know, I am not able to grasp it. Because I can not take it. Because I am blind: my eyes are full of tears. This is how I walk slowly towards that end that never comes, misunderstood by everything and everyone, dragging with me the weight of an unhappily correct observation, of a wisdom that is no longer of this time, of a goodness that borders on madness. I'm an unhappy madman. I am not a man, I am a shadow that flees everything and itself. I will be able to sing all alone and say: "Singing I loved to live and die"».     

Shortly thereafter, on July 20th, 1927, Rol wrote down these frequently mentioned words: «I discovered a terrible law that links the green color, the musical fifth and the heat. I lost the joy of living. This power scares me. I will not write anything anymore!». In fact the following pages remain white, apart, a couple of times, the word: «nightmares». What Rol meant by the term law, preceded by the adjective terrible, has never been understood: probably it was an intense psychic experience associated with the awareness of being endowed with paranormal faculties (this power scares me). Later Rol told in his anecdotal way (and we do not know how reliable his report is) how he came to this discovery. Lugli quotes in his book some Rol's phrases, which were also recorded: «I felt the master of the world! But one evening, at dusk, I was sitting on a bench in a public park in Paris, alone and thoughtful, when I heard a voice behind me asking the time. I, immersed in my exalted thoughts, pulled up my sleeve and showed the watch on my wrist. But immediately the same voice repeated its request... Then I turned around and realized that the man was blind! I suddenly felt overwhelmed by a great sadness. What were all my powers for? In a moment everything had collapsed: I was not able to give back the sight to that poor man». Regardless of whether this episode is true or not, in the course of his life Rol proved to be well aware of the limits of paranormal phenomena that manifested through him: undoubtedly he was much more aware of it than many of his fans! The topic of the limits of paranormal phenomenology, if considered as a testimony to the intelligence of human spirit, is dealt with in the page dedicated to it.

Anyway, it seems that in the months following these events Rol had a mystical crisis, perhaps due to the fear that those who at the time he called powers (even if later he will no longer use that term) were not compatible with his deep and rooted Christian faith. The fact is that in 1928 he obtained a period of leave from the Bank, and retired in meditation for a few months at a religious institution, Villa Santa Croce, in San Mauro Torinese. According to what Franco Rol writes on his website: «Rol was uncertain whether to take the priestly clothes or live in the world with his new spiritual personality... He was assisted and advised by the Jesuit father Pietro Righini... but according to what he himself told, was his mother Martha to persuade him that he could be useful to his neighbor also in civilian clothes, and so he ended his withdrawal, lasted three months...». We do not know what were the aftermaths of this temporary crisis on the relationship with his future wife. Still on August 18th, 1929, in Genoa, he wrote in a letter addressed to his parents: «But already I feel tremendously alone and infinitely discouraged to resume the life of pensions de famille and restaurants. And I begin to think seriously about my need to have a wife. I am not a man to be alone; is not human: and then the fear of loneliness is justified in me by the sad experience I had a year ago... I live to work and to think, and I do not want to compromise this rule looking for some amusements able to make me forget my loneliness and sadness, to which I am by nature too inclined».      

This feeling of loneliness and this need to be comforted did not leave Rol even in old age. If it is true that in his book I misteri d'Italia Dino Buzzati noted: «It strikes us that Rol, at the age of sixty-two, shows at least ten years younger, with his extraordinary and joyful vitality. I insist on the serenity and the joy that emanate from him», Rol's hand, during an experiment in 1975, wrote: «But what do you want me to do, show you, tell you: experiments, revelations, transcendental stories, apports, dialogues with intelligent spirits, paintings, secrets, etc. etc. In short, all the range of my sufferings... And yet you know  these things, now you know them, I showed them to you, I told you all... But you remain motionless and rigid even if I hold out my arms, if I cry out with my torn heart my loneliness and your absence. After so long time I did not build anything in you; I have only filled many hours of your boredom, I have given you a show. Your attention is highly peculiar, just as if you were facing a stage where my spirit or my soul or only my body assume, for you, the role of a ridiculous puppet. My words fall into the void of nothingness, of all the nothingness that nourishes your brain, conditioned by the demands of a materiality which, I admit, you are not allowed to escape from».  

Rol's paranormal faculties

The list of paranormal phenomena manifested by Gustavo Rol is very long. Some are reported in Lugli's book, distinguished between experiments which Lugli personally witnessed and phenomena witnessed by others. For an exhaustive classification of all paranormal phenomena manifested by Rol you can take a look at this page on Franco Rol's website. Summarizing, and limiting paranormal phenomena to those on which there is a convergence of testimonies, the faculties manifested by Rol included:

  • phenomena (experiments) of playful entertainment (without these terms detracting from the paranormal character of the events), consisting in card games, reading of closed books, apports of drawings, paintings, etc., which involved the whole range of ESP and PK faculties (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, etc.);
  • diagnosis of diseases, pranotherapy and cases of spontaneous healing, even at a distance;
  • (probably telepathic) knowledge, even at a distance, of events, circumstances and thoughts concerning an interlocutor or an unknown person;
  • ability to transfer to other people the power to perform paranormal experiments;
  • phenomena of bilocation, levitation and variation of his body size;
  • transformations of objects and passage of objects through walls and other solid objects;
  • spatio-temporal alterations that could involve other people;
  • direct writing, apports, scents, and other phenomena of various kinds.

Although Rol claimed that he could not voluntarily determine the paranormal phenomena that manifested through him, on several occasions there was a certain convergence between his conscious intent and the phenomenon itself. What Rol believed as certain was that if he used his faculties to his own advantage or to the economic advantage of some other person, he would fail for sure. For example, he could predict the numbers that would come out on the roulette wheel, provided that neither he nor anyone else who knew about it bet on that number. As for his healing faculties, he could sometimes exercise them on others, but he was not able to heal his body from the illnesses that afflicted him. Rol also claimed not to be a medium and to remain in a vigilant state of consciousness while the phenomena took place. This statement must be corrected, in the sense that, if by medium we mean a person endowed with the power to channel intelligent energies – normally separated by our physical dimension – which can alter or influence certain physical aspects, once channeled through a human vehicle (we do not know if mentally, psychically or cerebrally), then Rol was a medium. Although he did not go into a trance, on many occasions he was observed by those present in an altered state of consciousness, absorbed or absent, and in some cases very tired. In a letter that his brother Carlo wrote to him in December 1953, we read, about some phenomena that Carlo had witnessed: «In your case the phenomenon happens in the way that I describe you, because, as you always were in those cases, me present, in a state of unconsciousness, I do not think you could follow  the events as I could». So, at least in some cases, Rol did fall into a trance.

Letters between Carlo and Gustavo Rol

Of particular interest is the exchange of letters in Spring 1951 between Carlo, living in Buenos Aires, and Gustavo. In February of that year the Italian weekly Epoca published an article about Rol's paranormal experiments, bringing its faculties to the knowledge of a large audience. The title of the article, «Mister Rol, magician», and its sensationalistic content centered on card games, written by Epoca correspondent, journalist Furio Fasolo, did not please Rol, who so complained to Carlo: «I tried to expose these things to that lilliputian journalist, to whom I even dictated certain definitions, begging him not to misrepresent these concepts, slipping into magic, into spiritism: I forbade him to talk about roulette and this and that other fact occurred to me, which other people told him (they say a lot about me!). These journalists promise, but then write what they want... After that miserable publication, many people whom I could have helped do not see in me that another usual priced "wizard" of which the world is full... From everywhere an infinity of letters continues to rain on me, with the strangest proposals for roulette's exploitation, requests for love filters and so on and so forth».   

Having witnessed some of his brother's experiments, and convinced of his paranormal faculties, after reading Epoca's article Carlo Rol wrote to Gustavo, on March 28th, 1951: «I went on studing, devoting all my free time from work and family things to reading books of every age and country. Putting together everything I read and pondering everything, the observed phenomena, the collected documentation, the hypotheses, the theories, and while not neglecting all the mysteries that subsist in that matter, I believe more and more that my point of view... may be right. Perfect concentration, unyielding will, absolute confidence. Thought is the greatest force of Universe: now well, Epoca did not mention, as other publications about you, the "thought power". Which, according to my conclusions, would really be the factor of your experiments, of which you have been naturally gifted in a special way, and which you have further developed with great patience, perseverance and mastery... These conclusions are based on the fact that I believe in what I read. But I would not believe anything at all, if, thanks to you, I had not seen and heard in person».          

Being an intelligent and reasonable person, Carlo Rol, while not doubting his brother's paranormal faculties, was lookin for a satisfactory explanation and a form of training that would allow him too to succeed in some experiment, also in the light of some hypotheses formulated by Gustavo who, as we will see, can be misleading. Carlo's letter went on as follows: «To strengthen my faith in the books I read, at least the most serious of them, I wanted to do some tests, on myself, about the faculties that several of these books indicate as common to all. However, negative results! Therefore I address you so that you can tell me if you are easily able, or you do not succeed at all, to do the following things:...». Then a list followed of telepathic actions at a distance, influences on other people's thought and behavior, psychic operations on matter, and the like, to be obtained at will through the concentration of thought and will: in short, a psychic orientation of a typically «magic» kind.  

Obviously Carlo, while trying to concentrate his attention and focus his will, had not had the slightest success. Thus he concluded his letter to his brother with these words: «According to the "knowledge" acquired by me, those faculties, those powers, those mysterious forces, would serve equally good as well as evil: the brake, or rather the steering wheel, would be only one's normal consciousness. So the "non-collaboration" of Sublime Consciousness would not be effective and you declare it for moral reasons. Is that correct or not? By asking you questions of this kind, which perhaps will make you smile with compassion, it seems to me to profane, with pedestrian laboratory or test practices, that infinite poetry that surrounds you and your experiments. So I ask you to forgive me for this, but I would be very grateful if, in order not to waste too much time, you would simply answer "yes" or "no" to each of these twelve questions».      

In his reply of April 22nd, 1951, Gustavo Rol was categorical: «To all the questions you ask me, I answer negatively. Often I happened to look at a person who was turning his back on me, and I was surprised to see him turn, but very rarely did I get the same phenomenon after concentrating. I can even believe that if I wanted this thing to occur, I came to prevent it!... Every time I wanted to think of a person so much to make her feel my presence, I always flopped! So since a long time I concluded, at least as far as I am concerned, that telepathic influence exists, but is purely coincidental and arises spontaneously from the unknown forces that each person has... I do not tell you how, more than once, I have destroyed the good faith of so many deluded people that I will never warn enough, not only against the plethora of crooks who can exploit in a very cunning way certain aspects of truth – so easy to be altered, due to its marvelous simplicity – but against our own illusions! And this for that very dangerous part of us that constantly pushes us towards the wonderful, our homeland from which we were taken away and to which we will return... About hypnotizing, magnetizing, putting on catalepsy and in sleepwalking condition, I never got anything of this. I keep my consciousness intact during my experiments, at least for a part of myself sufficient to prevent me from going "into a trance". It is true, yes, that my face and voice can change of expression and that often I feel "projected out", but the living human and conscious part of myself is not altered... However it is true that, in any moment, even while I'm talking or eating or working, I happen to suddenly go out of myself and then they tell me that I stayed there, "stunned and stuck" and if they question me I do not answer and, if I'm not fully "stuck", the normal gestures of the action I was performing naturally occur, but very slowly, as if in me only the vegetative life would survive».     

In the aforementioned letter of December 1953, Carlo Rol tried to critically interpret some of Gustavo's statements regarding the latter's faculties, in the light of what he himself had observed («In all the books I have read, I have always compared the faculties reported by the authors, with those that I could witness in you»). After reaffirming the reality and objectivity of the phenomena («The phenomena are real, indisputable, categorical, inexorable»), Carlo wondered about their causes: «So they are produced by forces. These forces are, according to the cases, simply physical, or physical and intelligent. Now, these forces are called by you "Sublime Consciousness" or as you like best, that is, are we in the field of physiopsychology and metapsychics, or are they outside of us, that is in the field of theology and spiritualism?... Since more than six years I am thinking, since four I'm reading, since two I'm studying: well, I know what I knew before, that is, I do not know anything at all! Therefore to me the mystery is, above all, the origin of these forces, whether human or extra-human; secondly, supposing to be able to unravel this mystery, other imposing problems would arise: through which medium or vehicle, logically material, are the effects which occur in a material way produced? Where does the matter come from, that creates another copy of what has been altered, like the paper cut into small pieces, or destroyed, like the burnt paper? In your letter there are more than ever bewildering words about it».

These are important observations, first of all because Carlo's testimony confirms and validates the paranormal character of the phenomena produced by Gustavo. Secondly because Carlo highlighted the limits of the theoretical explanations formulated by Gustavo, which – as we shall see – did not shine for their clarity. Here is, in this regard, another excerpt of Carlo's letter: «At another point in your letter, when you try to explain the movement of the card, you write: "I am afraid I can not be clear enough, because some details still escape me". And further on you say: " the secret of my workroom, I always proceed indefatigably, because these tests serve me as true and proper experiments for the search for those truths that then will form the backbone of that doctrine that, instead, I donate generously". After my, I admit, extensive readings, I came to these conclusions: a) scientists have observed, documented, studied and formulated an infinite number of hypotheses about the phenomena produced by others, phenomena that scientists have never been able to produce by themselves, because they lack supernormal faculties; b) the gifted with these faculties generally did not write anything: those who wrote something, did it in a sibylline way». These last two considerations of Carlo Rol bring into a sharp focus the difficulty of framing the paranormal phenomena in the personal history and psychic orientation of the subjects endowed with mediumistic faculties: this applies to Gustavo Rol as to any other medium.  

The interpretations of Gustavo Rol

Rol used to refer to his faculties by calling them «potentialities», and thought they were present, in a latent state, in all human beings. In an interview granted to Remo Lugli in May 1986, he stated: «Everybody has these "potentialities" that I have. It is sufficient to put yourself in a position to perceive them. The rest comes by itself». And also in a letter sent to a parapsychology scholar, he repeated the same concept: «There is therefore no "meeting" of mine with PN (paranormal), a term that sounds strange to me, because I believe that anyone who follows the path that I have traveled will be given the same potentialities that I have». However, in the same interview of May 1986 he partly corrected what he had just said: «I do not think I sin of pride by affirming that I have realized that I have been endowed with faculties and potentialities that are not common to all men. I regret that I have not used these good powers more abundantly to help my neighbor, but I have often been distracted from it by the exciting and depressing solicitations that life has given me to a very large extent». It can be affirmed with certainty that very few human beings hare gifted with faculties such as those manifested by Rol, and that these faculties depend neither on personal will nor on exercise, as his brother Carlo had already observed. As in any other human activity, will and exercise can improve certain performances, but without an innate natural talent a person becomes neither a great composer nor a mathematical genius nor a sports champion. However, it is clear that in addition to talent, particularly gifted individuals also have the necessary mental disposition to develop their skills to the full.   

Rol believed that to the life of every human being an «intelligent spirit» was associated. This concept may have some affinity with the superior aspect of the Subliminal Self hypothesized by Myers (you may read the page dedicated to this topic), however, in Rol's writings (at least in those that have been published) there are no insights or clarifications that allow us to understand the type of relationship existing between the intelligent spirit and the conscious Ego. If, as we understand it, the intelligent spirit remains unconscious to us, and manifests its effects in ways that escape our intelligent understanding, we can not integrate it into the cognitive experience (and control faculties) of our conscious Ego. In this respect, the recognition of the existence of a spirit, acting through the mental faculties of a human being, can also be limited to admitting that there are alien entities capable of exerting effects in the physical dimension through energies which are beyond the faculties of understanding and controlling of the conscious Ego (you may also see the page dedicated to alien spirit). According to what he himself declared, Rol experienced a state of non-ordinary consciousness, which he called «sublime consciousness», through which his conscious Ego could experience some psychic nuclei associated with the intelligent spirit. Even in this case, however, we must complain about the lack of theoretical writings sufficiently intelligible from a cognitive point of view: the scant utterances left by Rol, verbally or in writing, have a predominantly intuitive character, and are unsatisfactory both from the intellectual point of view and on their communicative effectiveness.       

In the book Io sono la grondaia we may read, among the writings left to us by Rol: «I do not understand why they persist, speaking of me, of having resorted to material phenomena, when instead all my life has been devoted, committed to relieving the suffering of my neighbor. I myself was always amazed, if not moved, by the paranormal means through which I supported my actions. The only justification I found, to my tranquility, was that of acting through the will of a power that overwhelmed me and that showed me Charity as an omnipotent and unique means... In saying: I am what I was and what I will be, it is like reminding ourselves that there was a moment when, in order to realize a Lord's creation, we accepted the test of life, being well aware of its severity and death itself, which is the most immutable episod of our physical life. Our spirit existed, but it was not exteriorized». Also in the interview by Lugli in 1986, Rol so expressed himself about the meaning of his experiments: «They mean that the spirit of man is the highest creation that God has accomplished and as such, extraordinary powers and opportunities are granted to it... In the course of my life, and through the infinite experiences lived with much effort, I have reached the awareness that God creates our spirit, but without exteriorizing it. We ourselves must realize it by accepting the severe test of life, suffering, pain, death; but we do it with joy, knowing that so we realize God's plan». And he concluded by saying: «Deep within me there is a desire to leave, when I die, a doctrine that allows to know the existence of one's own spirit and to become aware of it». But this doctrine of the spirit was not then elaborated by Rol in a coherent, thorough and comprehensible way. 

On the basis of what Rol left us directly (through his writings and recordings of his voice) or his statements reported to by others (without the possibility of verifying their correctness) it is not possible to establish a consistent correlation, from a cognitive point of view, between the paranormal faculties of which he was endowed and his inner elaboration of an interpretative theory about their genesis and manifestation. Like other mediums, also very gifted, Rol probably acted driven by an inner need of spiritual origin, which he integrated and interpreted in the context of a religious vision founded on charity and on the need to alleviate the suffering of others. While recognizing the value of this ethical vision of life, common to all those people who put their faculties and energies at their neighbor's service, Rol's thought adds nothing significant to our knowledge of the origin of paranormal phenomena. On the other hand, if Rol had not manifested the paranormal powers he was gifted of, his existence would have passed almost unnoticed: the fact that a person devotes him/herself to relieving the neighbor's suffering, does not guarantee, in itself, that that person can acquire and manifest paranormal faculties. Even Rol's faith, founded on a rather conventional adherence to the beliefs and practices of Catholic Church, does not give the idea of an original elaboration of the evolution of the intelligent spirit through the experience of the conscious Ego, but it seems rather the expression of a state of subjugation of the Ego by psychic instances that, perceived as absolute truths, are not critically elaborated by the spirit's intelligence.      


Kant & Swedenborg
Hypnotism & psyche
Hypnosis research
Research hypotheses
Myers' research
Frederik van Eeden
Dualism of theories
Research in Italy: 1
Research in Italy: 2
Research in Italy: 3
Ernesto Bozzano
Theories about spirit
Joseph B. Rhine
G. A. Rol's faculties
Ugo Dèttore
Limits of paranormal
Psyche, reality & will