The history of an Italian medium: part two
Some significant phenomena in the period of raps: levitations and apports
I translate from Realtà e Mistero the reports concerning some phenomena of particular interest that occurred in this initial period. The first is about an exceptional levitation: «Sitting started in red light. The sitters are around the small table. After some time the signal of the control entity is heard and immediately, through typtology, a name is given: Marzo. The table first begins to move slightly and then has strong jolts: it is restless indeed. Marzo asks for a very heavy table; and the sitters, including the medium, place themselves around the big table. Immediately this levitates just a little and moves in the direction of the length with surprising ease. The movement is about 20-30 centimeters and allows the sitters not to move from their place. Then the table stops and a slight levitation occurs. After a while, the movements start again, without the legs touching the floor, and this time also vertically. This continues for a few minutes. Marzo is asked if he can make a blow in the middle of the table. "Yes" is the answer, and immediately a blow is heard in the middle of the table. The medium, which until now has remained rather conscious, seems to fall asleep on his own chair; undoubtedly he is in a state of semitrance. Another question is addressed to Marzo: "Is it possible to make this table levitate like the little one?" "I will show you my strength, I will produce a levitation up to the ceiling". At this point the communicating entity asks for complete darkness, after which the heavy table begins to rise and very soon the legs escape the touch of the sitters. No one is able to determine to what height the table is raised, which then slowly returns to its place. After a few seconds a noise similar to that of three punches forcefully beaten one after the other is heard in the center of the table. Some of the sitters was a bit disconcerted for the exceptional levitation and the three shots, because he did not think something lika that would happen. Marzo transmits: "I did not think you were so incredulous. Goodbye!"».
Another sitting particularly rich in phenomena, including telekinesis and direct writing, took place at the end of 1937: «Red light. The sitters are now seated around the large table, on which some sheets of white paper and a pencil have been placed. When the guide Marzo shows up, the siters offer, with affectionate thought, a branch of mistletoe, asking at the same time whether the gift, which is placed at the center of the table, is appreciated. The entity answers affirmatively. Although many phenomena of telekinesis and levitation have already occurred, some of those present want them to be repeated. So one of them asks Marzo to move the mistletoe branch. That immediately moves and continues to move until it reaches the limit of the table, and falls on the hands of one of the sitters. Everyone can observe, in red light, the path of this branch on the table until its fall. Some of the sitters, suddenly, find a few leaves of mistletoe between their fingers and the medium, at the end of the sitting, realizes that he has a tiny branch in his jacket pocket. Suddenly the pencil begins to write by itself on one of the paper sheets on the table. But the drawn signs are incomprehensible. Typtologically an entity says that its physical body was called Carlo. Then the pencil, which moves on its own again, writes the name Carlo in block letters on a piece of paper. Marzo, finally, through typtology, says that it will leave a drawing. The pencil sketches it on a third sheet. In red light it seems that only small crosses are drawn. The small table, which also is in the séance room, rises about two meters from the floor, approaches each of the sitters and lingers there, while the typtology transmits for each one a word like good, dear. Then the same small table makes swirling turns in the air: it is a show that leaves the sitters breathless. Finally, from time to time, it alights slightly with one leg on the shoulder of someone of the sitters. When this carousel ends, it returns to its place».
In Realtà e Mistero the drawings and the word Carlo, obtained by direct writing, are reproduced. Ravaldini also told me that the branch of mistletoe crossed the table also in its thickness, thus achieving a phenomenon of interpenetration of matter. On other occasions, apport of perfume occurred in different ways: «During a séance in which the sitters were seated around the big table, Amato asked that the usual red lamp was turned off, assuring at the same time that he would not make bad jokes. This led my uncle to ask for what purpose he wanted complete darkness. It was the first time this entity made such a request. And while at a request of the guide Marzo no one would object, in front of this the sitters were a bit perplexed, despite the assurance provided. The entity replied that it was his desire to make a gift. The red light was turned off. After a few minutes of darkness the room was invaded by an intense scent of carnations. The sitters, amazed, asked if that was the announced gift, and thanked at the affirmative answer. The red light was turned on again, and the entity added that he had taken that perfume from a maharaja's garden. The scent had to be very concentrated, because it subsequently spread in all the apartment rooms. The next morning – and also for this fact my memory is still clear – waking up, I immediately felt the scent, and my mother explained that Amato, during the sitting of the previous evening, had given that scent of carnations to us all. The perfume continued intense throughout the day and my family, during a visit of people – completely unaware of our experiences – who immediately perceived the penetrating smell, blamed us children for having broken a perfume bottle. No need to say that in my house there was no perfume of carnations, and we did not yet have the habit of putting flowers in the sitting room».
In relation to the previous episode, it should be noted the cautious attitude of Gino Franchi towards complete darkness: although this caution was motivated above all by the fear that low entities could show up, capable of producing unpleasant phenomena, possibly harmful for the medium, it also testifies to the habit, by the sitters, to always keep the room under direct visual control, so that complete darkness is considered as an exceptional event. But let's get back to the perfumes: «Speaking of perfume, Amato, during another séance, asked for a glass of natural water, which was placed on the table. At the end of the sitting, my parents realized that the water smelled and tasted like violets. I remember that this perfumed water was made to taste also to us children». During another séance in winter 1937-38 the apport of two stones occurred: «Marzo, through a typtological communication, asked for complete darkness, explaining that this was necessary because he wanted to give an apport. Once darkness had been done, the entity invited the sitters to have faith in God, recommending not to touch the medium. Then he asked for the pencil which was prepared on the table each time, and which had already known the invisible hands of the entities. My uncle took it and handed it to the invisible interlocutor, who took it. Shortly thereafter, a characteristic noise came from the table top, similar to that of the fingers of a hand that beat the wood. Then, immediately, three very strong blows followed. And, after about thirty seconds, two heavy objects were heard falling on the table. Marzo transmitted that it was rough stuff, taken from the place where his body had been buried. When the communication was over and permission was obtained to turn the red light on, the sitters saw two rather flat stones. At the end of the séance they found that their weight was about 100 grams each, and that on both of them there were some incomprehensible signs, like hieroglyphics, executed by pencil». In the book is reproduced the photo of one of the stones with pencil marks, which Ravaldini had preserved.
Here's another noteworthy episode: «One day in the winter 1937-38 an accident occurred. It was a cold, but sunny afternoon. Some children were playing along the river. For unknown reasons one of them fell into the icy water and disappeared, dragged by the current. As soon as the news spread, the firemen went there and, together with some volunteers, began to fathom the river. But until the afternoon of the following day nothing had been found. On that evening there was a séance in my house and the sitters asked Marzo if he could show the place where the boy's body was. The entity said that the current had dragged the small body up to a curve of the river and that it was there, entangled in some reeds, just below the water's surface. The usual pencil, which always moved by itself, drew a sketch of that stretch of river, and the exact position of the body was marked by a cross. The next day my uncle approached the coordinator of the research, telling him what he had learned the night before, so that no more time was wasted in vain. He was heard but, of course, not believed. Then, when the firemen went to search in that curve of the river, they found the boy's body in the exact spot indicated by Marzo and entangled as had been said, otherwise the current could drag it further downstream to a weir». The drawing reproduced in the book is very simple: two parallel curved lines and a small cross. However, the typtological indications to find the body must have been effective, if Gino Franchi was then able to report them to the research coordinator.
Through typtology, in addition to the guides Marzo and Amato, various other entities communicated. Here is an example, associated with significant levitation phenomena: «The large table rises slightly and starts to swing until it makes rhythmic movements that make think of music. While this phenomenon occurs, a typtological communication says: "On your Earth, I was a famous tenor". "Then you love music!" "Yes, because music is divine". At this point the table stops swinging and begins to rise, so that at a certain moment the sitters can no longer keep their hands on it, not even standing up, and are forced to take them off. The height reached by the table is certainly over a meter, but it is not exactly measured. Then the table goes back to the floor, while the same typtological communication is resumed. And I say the same because, as I mentioned in the previous chapter, each entity communicated through raps having their own acoustic characteristics, which distinguished them from other similar communications and I would say that almost personalized them. "My eyes filled with tears when I sang"».
The prediction of a novel's dictate
Another entity predicted typtologically future events in which it would take a prominent role: «In previous sittings an entity intervened, who had said he had lived on Earth a few centuries ago and had written a lot. During this sitting, this entity mentions a manuscript entitled Gocce di Rugiada (Dew Drops), which was lost in his day (some months later this statement will be changed). He adds that later he will be able to dictate that novel». Ravaldini rightly observed, in his comment on this last statement, that the hypothesis of obtaining typtologically the dictate of a story which, as we will see, would fill dozens of pages, was completely absurd at that time. In fact, the dictation occurred, but by direct voice, a very rare phenomenon that until then had not only never occurred at Franchi home, but had not even been taken into account by the sitters as a hypothesis.
At the end of 1937 three more friends of Gino Franchi, the brothers Gino, Vittorio and Amedeo Pertici (the latter for a short time, because he then moved to work in another town), took part in the mediumistic circle. They were the sons of a local shoemaker, Timante Pertici, who on occasion, as it was customary at that time, made and sold shoes, almost always made to order. Gino Franchi used to frequent his shop, more than anything else for friendship. Gino Pertici had psychic faculties, being endowed with automatic writing, so that Ravaldini thought that someone could still have some pages written by him in Arabic, a language completely unknown to these people of poor condition and barely elementary education. Perhaps this was the reason why they were invited to attend the sittings. But the guides communicated that the energy of Gino Pertici ill harmonized with the medium's one, indeed came into conflict with it. For this reason, Gino Pertici was admitted to the séances, but the guide advised to keep him in a corner, and so was done. The period of exclusively rap communications ended in the early months of 1938, when Gino Franchi, perhaps at the suggestion of the guides and in any case with their approval, decided to create a mediumistic cabinet to isolate the medium, by means of two heavy black curtains placed on the doorway that separated the kitchen from the room where the sittings had been held until then.
The minutes of the sittings
Ravaldini kindly let me see the documentation in his possession, which I could scan. From 1937 to 1939, it consists of 76 minutes of sittings, written in two notebooks with ink pen and beautiful calligraphy. Probably they are reworkings of notes taken during the sittings, or records by memory of what happened the night before. The minutes cover three distinct periods, the first from 11 November 1937 to 17 January 1938. Between the first and second sitting of the first series (1 December 1937) 20 days pass, but all the other sittings are short-term one from the other (only in one case there is an interval of 7 days, but very often one or two days only). Therefore it can be assumed that the minutes cover, if not all the sittings, at least most of them. Levitation phenomena, apports, penetration of matter and direct writing are recorded, but in this first phase the entities communicated exclusively through rapping. The phenomena are those reported here, following what was recalled by Ravaldini in Realtà e Mistero. After a four-month break without any transcription, the minutes start again on May 20, 1938, with a three-hour sitting, full of events, in which the entities already communicated by direct voice. The records go on until September 12, 1938, with an average of one sitting every three or four days, and a maximum interval of eight days. I think that almost all the sittings of this period have been transcribed.
Then there is an interval of 40 days due to the medium's absence, for which a prior authorization had been requested and granted by the guide Marzo. Ravaldini told me that in that period the medium went away from Castelfiorentino, moving to some relatives near Volterra, to escape the atmosphere of persecution by the religious and civil authorities of which not only him, but the whole Franchi family, was object, just because of the sittings. However, the séances resumed on October 21, 1938 and the related minutes continued until February 19, 1939, at an average of one sitting every three or four days, and never more than a week between them. Later, until the departure of the medium called to arms because of the war, the minutes contain only the dictate of various chapters of Gocce di Rugiada, the novel that was dictated in direct voice by the entity Boccacci, which we will see later. The contents of the minutes are variable: sometimes they are rather detailed reports, at least as far as communications are concerned, but often consist only of a page or less of concise notes. Moreover, in giving priority to the transcription of the contents of communications, very little emphasis was given to the description of the modes of manifestation of the phenomena, or the expression, the timbre and the features of direct voices. Only thanks to Ravaldini's memory, and to the testimonies contained in the tape of the 1973 conversation, I could get some further information. Often, reading the minutes, I had the impression that for the sitters even the most extraordinary phenomena were almost taken for granted.
The recordings of the final period
Regarding the ways the phenomena occurred, I anticipate here some considerations that will be better developed when the events of recent years will be dealt with. From 1945 onwards Ravaldini (who personally attended the sittings since 1939) began, with the help of his cousin Vinicio and a classmate, to take notes as detailed as possible of what happened during the séances. These notes were then reworked in typewritten minutes that have been preserved and form a rather substantial corpus. In 1951 a wealthy notary of Castelfiorentino who attended the sittings (Vittorio Nardi) bought a magnetic wire recorder (one of the first models available in Italy in the post-war period, before being replaced by tape recorders), and with that device the séances were recorded. Unfortunately, Ravaldini and his assistants used only two reels, and after typewriting the recording of a sitting, they used the same reel for a subsequent sitting, thus deleting the previous recording. For this reason only the recordings of the last two sittings, respectively on March 14 and 28, 1952, are now available, after being transferred to cassette. Listening to these recordings, and comparing them with the text of the typewritten minutes, I could realize the substantial differences between the recorded event, with all the information that can be obtained and the resulting emotional impact, and the synthetic content – reductive and exclusively verbal – of the transcriptions. Extrapolating this disconcerting gap at the séances of 1938, much richer in phenomena and direct communications than those of the last period, I can't but recognize the scanty and almost trivial character of the minutes written in the notebooks, compared to the events of which they are the only documented testimony we have got. Anyway, like an archaeologist who has found some finds, I rejoice at the fact that at least something has come to us.
The contents of the minutes
As for the contents of the minutes, I think it is important to present the material in its entirety, without any censorship or reworking of those communications that may show fanciful or naive psychic features, or are disproved by verifiable historical data. On the contrary, precisely the heterogeneity of the contents of the communications is one of the best proofs of the authenticity and spontaneity of the phenomena. With this choice, I do not intend to assume an attitude of devaluation towards the whole of the facts, which is of great interest precisely because of the many different characters involved in the role of communicating entities, with their own stories, characteristic expressions, exhortations, and even fixed ideas and extravagances. In reporting the texts of the minutes I have only corrected some rare grammar or punctuation mistakes, and eliminated the initial capital letters that abound in the text. So I write light instead of Light, entity rather than Entity, guide rather than Guide. In general, I abstained from personal comments regarding the communications, however I highlighted those elements that could possibly be useful for a more in-depth study of the communications and the character of the entities.
The period of raps
The minutes of the sittings of this period are concise: they consist of a series of questions and answers, obtained, as it is understandable, with some difficulty of transcription. Here is an example of one of these sessions (the questions or the words of the sitters are in normal text, the answers or the words obtained typtologically are in italic). The text translated from the manuscript is in red.
1 December 1937 - «Who are you?» «Boccacci. Do not counteract with your hands because there is little force. What do you think of my Decameron? Do not doubt that I am Boccacci; I was eight years old when the divine poet died. Have you ever been to Certaldo? I often wander among those walls».
We will return later on the intervention of entity Boccacci. About actor Ettore Petrolini (1884-1936), who died of troubles with his respiratory system, this is the only manifestation resulting from the minutes. The tenor is no longer mentioned during the typtological period, however this entity will show up quite often during the following period in direct voice. On June 12, 1938, he briefly showed up during a séance held in Florence, as we shall see (…a great tenor who does not want to give his name prays to play a little the piano keys that make him remember a lot…). Then he manifested again on November 20, 1938, still in direct voice, singing a little song of benevolent teasing towards Gino Franchi: Another entity communicates, who says: «Gino, you make the table dance; Gino, you played the mandolin; Gino, your throat smells like wine (these sentences are pronounced by the entity singing them softly). I came when you were at the small table, I was a great tenor; take the guitar and put the curtains down». We hesitate a bit to close the curtains, but the entity insists by saying: «A very high entity is near me». The curtains are then closed, and at the same time the sign of the presence of the guide is heard. One of the sitters takes the guitar and plays some simple arpeggios, while the entity warns: «Listen, the little string must be lowered». The entity makes some voice modulations tuned with the sound of the guitar that arouse a sense of ecstasy in all the sitters. The entity itself is moved and says: «Tell me "light" said with your spirit. How much I enjoy right now! When I sang, my eyes filled with tears; I still remember when I sang in Naples». At this point the entity is too moved and gives uo to communicate.
Later the tenor showed up again, always speaking in direct voice.
It would therefore seem that the entity of the Tenor wants to be identified with Silvio Costa Lo Giudice, and the sitters so openly call him in the minutes. Indeed, Silvio Costa Lo Giudice had been a well-known Puccini interpreter of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and at Franchi home there were some records with his singings. He was born in 1895, but from a research on his career and his life it results that he died on 11 October 1982. So, at the time of the sittings, he was still alive. We would therefore be in the presence of a case analogous to that of Gordon Davis already described on these pages. Also on the entity Marzo we will have occasion to return. Already from his first rapping manifestations, Marzo shows peculiar abilities to produce remarkable phenomena.
Marzo also makes it clear, in the course of various interventions, that he takes part (as a guide entity) also in séances held in Rome by another circle.
In the following sitting Gino Franchi made some observations on the hostility shown by the parson of Castelfiorentino towards the séances, and Marzo began to show that more friendly, sweet and spiritual personality that he would later develop further.
In the two following sessions some of the phenomena mentioned by Silvio Ravaldini in Realtà e Mistero, to which I have already referred, occur.
A fantasy tale
In the sitting of 6 January 1938 a new entity communicates (as it seems, for the first time): Edovic, a Cossack captain who will often show up, albeit with brief interventions, during the period of direct voice. This sitting is noteworthy because Edovic's communication, which we presume to be typtological – as up to this date there has never been any mention of direct voice – is particularly long and, as a whole, coherent.
The facts told by Edovic are not consistent with historical reality. Tsarina Alexandra Fiodorovna (Princess Alice von Hesse-Darmstadt) married Tsar Nicholas II on 14 November 1894. It was a love marriage, as testimonied by the feelings expressed in the letters that the two exchanged before and after their marriage. It is very unlikely that the young princess, described as shy and introverted and raised at the English court of Queen Victoria, her aunt, had a premarital relationship, complete with pregnancy and secret birth. And, after the wedding, the dates speak for themselves: the first daughter Olga was born on 3 November 1895; the second, Tatiana, 29 May 1897, a year and a half after the eldest daughter. Maria, the third, was born on 14 June 1899, and here, calendar in hand, an illegitimate daughter could theoretically exist (but... poor Tsarina, always pregnant!). Since the imperial family was killed in July 1917, Edovic's story must refer to events occurred before that date, and a child born in 1898 could not be twenty-two before 1920. The Tsarina had another daughter, Anastasia (the one of whom it was said she had escaped the massacre), on 5 June 1901, and finally the desired son, the heir to the throne Alessio, on 30 July 1904. Ravaldini tells in his book that Edovic, when showed up in direct voice, spoke in Italian, even if not perfectly. In the minutes his presence is recorded several times, but generally he merely said goodbye. On 30 August 1938 he said (in direct voice): «It was Nicholas II who had me shot, and in his family only one woman managed to escape. In my homeland there are many spiritualistic circles».
Amato and Marzo
In the following sitting another entity, Amato Cellini, makes his first apparition, communicating by raps: he will become one of the protagonists of the following period.
It may be surprising that in the sitting of December 3, 1937, at the request to say his surname, Marzo replied negatively, while in the sitting of September 12, 1938, Marzo said (in direct voice): «Remember that, for you, I am Marzo Veritieri: Marzo month that strengthens, Veritieri from the Latin Veritas». Therefore the surname must have been communicated in the meantime, but the minutes do not say anything about when it happened. In the sitting of January 11 Marzo makes a long communication, always by rappings.
Marzo made an apport of two stones during the last exclusively typtological sitting recorded before the interruption.