The history of an Italian medium: part 5
Other phenomena of materialization
Many other entities, besides Wagner, showed up in that period. The minutes, however, when dealing with these manifestations, refer to the direct voice of the entities, and only in a few cases specify that there was also a materialization. In the séance of May 20, 1938 the materializations, besides Wagner, of the guides Marzo and Amato, of Dante Alighieri, Boccacci and the medium's grandfather are explicitly mentioned, while other entities are said to have only spoken (therefore without materializing). We are induced to think that even in the previous period, in relation to which the minutes are missing, other entities had materialized in addition to Wagner. In the following sittings, however, the minutes no longer speak of materializations, but only of manifestations (in direct voice). In the sitting of June 26, 1938, the guide Amato said: «There is strength, we'll make a materialization training because we will show all or none. Now the medium's weight would be 10 kilos …» But then he went on talking about something else, and the minutes no longer show anything about the materialization experiment. It may also be that sometimes in the minutes the term manifestation is used to indicate the materialization of the entity. For instance, in the minutes of the séance of May 24, 1938, it is written: «Boccacci manifests himself and says he likes to be seen as he once was, since very few portraits resemble him. Meanwhile, an emission of ectoplasm from the medium's chest is noticed». Boccacci, by saying that he likes to be seen as he once was, could refer to his materialization at the previous May 20 sitting.
A very important sitting for the phenomena that occurred was that of July 12, 1938. After several direct voice communications, here's what happened: Amato materializes a hand that emanates a red light like incandescent iron; then the light becomes more and more clear until it becomes sparkling, it seems an explosion of light; slowly it recovers the reddish color, it lowers on a guitar and makes its strings vibrate. After that (Amato) throws to us two carnations that pass through the curtains. Here we can very well observe the penetrability of matter. When they pass through the curtain, these carnations acquire a phosphorescent light. This is the report of the episode, as always very concise, taken from the minutes. Ravaldini's memories, referring to the comments made by his family members after the event, offer some more details: «Amato says he is materializing a hand. In fact, shortly afterwards, a luminous hand appears suddenly on the sitters' side of the closed curtains. It is suspended in the air at a height of about half a meter above the heads of the sitters; it moves slowly, moving more and more away from the curtains. This limb, that ends at the wrist, takes gradually and quickly enough a brighter glow and is seen by the sitters as a source of light. The material of which the hand is composed seems to glow and at the same time radiates a strong phosphorescence, perhaps due to its intense brightness».
«The sitters follow this new prodigy with astonishment and amazement, and they are well aware of the reality of the phenomenon, but none of them feels any heat coming from the hand, which suggests that it is a cold incandescence. After the brightness seems to have reached its maximum splendor, it slowly goes down, then takes on a clearly visible hot-red color. Always the same hand, which in the meantime has continued to move, then goes on the strings of a guitar hanging on a wall and makes them vibrate harmonically, behaving as if it were a living human limb. Then it disappears. The distance between the closed curtains and the point of the wall where the guitar hangs is about three and a half meters. Before the séance, a bouquet of carnations had been placed on the table in the mediumistic cabinet. Amato informs that he will give some of them to my uncle. The sitters' room is illuminated by red light; the curtains are still closed. The carnations are offered by Amato in a way that no one would have imagined. He gives them to my uncle one at a time. To do this he does not move the curtains at all, but makes each carnation pass through the curtains' fabric. Matter that penetrates into another matter without undergoing alteration of any kind. The flowers move as if an invisible hand supported them by the stem. It is only noted that each carnation, at the moment when it passes through the curtains, assumes a phosphorescent brightness, which disappears as soon as the passage has occurred. My uncle takes them one by one while they are still suspended in the air».
We are therefore in the presence of two truly extraordinary phenomena, which the minutes mention without any comment. Also in the sitting of August 29, 1938, Amato materializes two fingers and makes a guitar string vibrate; finally he leaves a drawing made with lapis on a sheet of paper. This is the latest phenomenon of materialization reported in the minutes, but it should also be mentioned an important phenomenon of materialization by the entity Marzo, recalled by Ravaldini in Realtà e Mistero, of which there is no trace in the minutes and which is probably to be ascribed to the period before May 20, 1938: «Among the many voices that spoke that evening, one was already known. Other times he had manifested itself and had told many things concerning his human existence. He had said that in our world he was a courier with a cart and a horse. He had been accidentally killed during the Fascist revolution, because he was mistaken for another person. This personality almost nostalgically remembered his own job in earthly life: the vehicle with which he carried the goods, his horse and particularly a bilancino. So is called the horse that is attached as a reinforcement ahead or to the side of the one placed at the cart poles. This animal is never of great power, but it is very useful in difficult stretches, especially in climbs. The courier manifested himself speaking as a man fully immersed in our dimension, as if for him the passing had almost never happened. In some moments, however, he said he was well aware of the superiority he enjoyed being a spirit, in his new life. That evening he talked about his son, stating that he could see him serving as a soldier in Libya, and added that he would go to see him for a brief visit. There followed a few seconds of silence and then he informed that he had already gone to his son, who was sleeping. Among other things he added that in a moment he could also reach the moon, at his will».
«To better highlight the human component of this personality, I add that, during another sitting, he recalled that on one of his trips with his cart he had also passed in our small town, had stopped at an tavern and had drunk a glass of wine. On another occasion, he told my uncle that if he got him a cigarette, he would show him a luminous foot as a reward. These were just words, of course, because those who showed up could do nothing without the permission and help of the guides. Later, still during the sitting I am recalling, the courier materialized. The phenomenon occurred beyond the closed curtains and in complete darkness in the sitters' room; but the noises that accompanied his words, and the exclamations in jargon, allowed the same to imagine the scene. The courier began to drag the armchair where the medium lay on the kitchen floor, and in doing so he incited a nonexistent horse, accompanying the action with the characteristic phrases of the carters. I do not know how long that representation went on. I only know that after that outburst the courier greeted everyone and no noise was heard in the cabinet».
«Then Marzo's voice addressed the sitters to inform them that the medium had provided a truly out-of-the-ordinary performance. Much strength he had given to allow the phenomenon to occur in that particular way. He added that the courier had drawn a lot of energy from our friend, like water from a fully open tap; and he informed that the consequence of that particular materialization would be only a delayed awakening of the medium from the trance. "He is in our hands – he said – and this will have to suffice". And he added that their hands were very different from human hands, and far more secure. Then an exceptional phenomenon took place: Marzo materialized, picked up the medium in his arms, opened the curtains, came among the sitters and laid him gently on my uncle's knees, saying: "Here, so his awakening will be easier". My uncle noticed that his friend's weight at that moment was much diminished: perhaps half the normal. Marzo immediately went back to the other room, and while saying goodbye he told the sitters to operate just like at the end of the previous sittings, that is, red light turned on and curtains open. Meanwhile the medium, though slowly, was regaining weight. Slowly he awoke from the trance, and as soon as he was conscious he was surprised to find himself in my uncle's arms». We cannot but agree with what Ravaldini said in pointing out that a phenomenon like this, in which a materialized entity transports the medium into trance in his arms and lays it on the knees of one of the sitters, has an exceptional and perhaps unique character throughout the history of mediumistic phenomena.
Communications in direct voice: entities known by the sitters
In the minutes relating to the sittings of the period between May 20, 1938, and February 19, 1939, reference is made to various entities communicating with a direct voice, each with its own characteristic vocal timbre, inflection and way of expression that denoted a specific personality, well distinct from the others. Often these were recently dead people, relatives or friends of the sitters: each entity was easily identified by those who had known it, including some children who spoke with their childish voice. In the séance of November 30, 1938: There are two entities that were from this town and who passed away when their body was still small, and they are: Sanesi e Baragatti. The latter converses with the spirit of the medium; among other things, the medium says: «Oh Tonino! How well you are; who knows what your mother will say when she sees you». Tonino's guide is Corrado Franchi who make his voice heard by greeting us. On this occasion there was a real dialogue between the medium in trance and the entity of the kid Baragatti, recently dead; but upon awakening the medium did not remember anything of what had happened.
About another sitting (probably that of August 3, 1938, even if the episode is not reported in the minutes) Ravaldini wrote the following: «Later, Marzo shows up, behaving in a strange way that will never be repeated. After giving his greeting, instead of continuing to speak to the sitters, as he always did, he turns directly to the medium in trance. He begins by asking him if he would willingly go far from our small town, in a big city, where his exceptional faculties could interest so many important people, and so, besides acquiring benevolence and fame, he would earn a lot of money. But the medium replies that he does not at all want to trade his talents, because his submitting to trance is only dictated by the immense trust he has towards the guides and therefore he considers as a mission what he does. The dialogue still goes on, but nothing is left of it. Then Marzo is silent, but the medium continues to speak and eventually breaks into a series of joyous exclamations, which end with these words: "How much light! Too much light! Stop Marzo! Enough!"A brief silence follows. Amato reproaches the sitters because someone, talking, disturbs the phenomena. The sitting ends». When I asked Ravaldini if, in his opinion, during these dialogues the medium expressed himself with his own voice, or if he too spoke through an external voice, he replied that, although he was not able to give a definite answer to my question, according to him the medium spoke with his own voice. In this case, a human body in a trance state would manifest a personality distinct from his/her conscious Ego, and separate from it.
Often Ravaldini's maternal grandfather, Francesco Franchi, showed up exclaiming «Human misery!», a typical expression that he used during his lifetime to comment on something extraordinary, which went beyond the comprehension abilities of human beings, limited precisely by their condition. This exclamation immediately made him recognized by his family. Another interesting communication is that related to Boris Chiti, a cousin of one of the sitters, died in a motorcycle accident. In the sitting of November 9, 1938: We ask about some Boris Chiti, who had just died in a road accident a few days before, while driving his motorbyke, because the air was full of thick fog: he was close to a truck and braked so hard that the bike slided and he went smashing his head against the truck. (The entity Amato) tells that (Boris) immediately got up with his fluidic body and smiled saying that nothing bad had happened to him, while those who were driving the truck were crying and tearing their hair. He saw a body on the ground and thought that someone else, not him, had been run over; he was going to get his bike, but he could not. Given his sudden death, he does not realize his transition: indeed, he does not believe he has passed away, and wanders around his body and the place where he passed away. Now, reflecting, he begins to realize the reality of the fact. In another sitting (November 24) a thought of Boris was reported: «It's nice to live like this; I got to the moon and now I want to explore the universe».
Other entities unknown to the sitters
In addition to the acquaintances and relatives of the sitters, entities unknown to everyone sometimes spoke (always in direct voice), providing some details of their life that could have been used for their possible identification. One of these is the so-called count Paolo de' Paoli (séance if Decenber 11, 1938): I was count Paolo de' Paoli. I've been in Verona too for six years. Now the matter does not interest me anymore; I am not so happy here because I would like to see more and be closer to God. I have passed away for a woman, of whom I now do not think any longer. I was married to a woman I did not love, the one I could not marry became a nun. I was in wealth and luxury, but one day I shot myself and died at the first shot; but I seemed to continue to shoot even though I had already passed away. I was very surprised to see that I was not dead, but still living, so I repented and prayed. So I heard someone advising me, it was my guide. That woman I really loved, I went to see her at the convent saying that she was my sister, and one day we met to talk near Romeo and Juliet's grave, and after so much talking she told me we would see again in the afterlife. Now I do not know if she still lives. The guide helps me to speak, otherwise you would not hear me.
In the same sitting a soldier who died in the war also spoke: I'm Pietro Sabatini from Castel del Piano, who died in the war at the age of 27. Captain Sonetti told me to move the telephone line; I was with two other mates at Passo della Buca on the Gorizia front; I was of the 3rd Genio, 3rd Company. I passed away immediately, the others, I do not remember well if they died at a small hospital. My guide is Luciano. My brother's children remember me and bring flowers to my photo, and I enjoy it. If I had believed how you believe, I would have liked to be still on Earth.
Also the courier of Signa showed up frequently. In the sitting of June 5, 1938 he talks for a long time about his passing away and about other things related to episodes of his life. And again, on June 9, 1938: the courier of Signa talks about his military son in Libya, and says: "Now I'm going there", and after a few seconds he speaks again: "I've already been there, I've seen him sleeping". Finding the medium's head in an uncomfortable position, this entity awakens him from the trance so that he can move his head in a better position, and after that he falls again into a complete trance.
Entities of famous persons
In addition to Wagner, Boccacci, and the tenor identified as Silvio Costa Lo Giudice, in this period some entities showed up that attributed to themselves the identity of more or less famous personalities. Some communicated only in a very superficial way, others provided richer information, sometimes of some interest. Let's examine them in detail.
Dante - He had already communicated by raps in the sittings of the previous period. In the period of direct voice his manifestations were frequent, but he was always laconic. Only in the minutes of July 10, 1938, an explicit declaration by him is reported: Dante speaks: "I was born in the city of the flower, I did battle of poetry, what you speak is the language I made".
Garibaldi - This entity often intervened with a virile voice, imperious and vibrant with enthusiasm. Sometimes his voice was so powerful that it annoyed the medium (who, always in a trance state, complained of it), or caused the intervention of the guides, who told the entity to control himself so as not to consume too much psychic energy. The content of the communications is rather uniform, and always repeats three or four basic sentences: (November 20, 1938) Garibaldi speaks with his male and powerful voice: "The turning point is close, hold on. Then the trumpets would ring! Caprera, land of God. Now no more earthly things. God's beautiful".
Guglielmo Marconi - He shows up some times. His first communication reported in the minutes is that of August 3, 1938: "I had a lot of faith. In Verona, with my wife I took part in séances, and very high entities communicated transmitting by raps (information) that with much patience helped me in my research. I had some mediumship; when I was studying I retired to my cabin, which I called the cabin of Infinity, and there I made the drawings that I then showed to others, leaving them amazed. When I discovered the short waves, my pencil marked a line on the circles of my drawing that I did not know how to complete; the lapis drew and then fell to the ground. Shortly before my passing away, I asked if there were any other rays to be discovered, and I was told that there was still the red ray, which should be isolated from the sun, effective against the most terrible diseases. But my death came and so my research ceased. Keep everything I told you as a secret".
Augusto Murri - Professor Augusto Murri (1841–1932) was an illustrious clinician. He graduated in Florence, and after specialization studies in Paris and Berlin, in 1875 he was called to the chair of medical clinic in Bologna, and at that University was also rector before becoming a member of the Italian parliament in 1891. His Scritti medici (1902) and Lezioni di clinica medica (1908) assured him a prominent place not only among clinicians but also among the philosophers of science of that time. In the sitting of May 24, 1938: Professor Augusto Murri shows up, then goes to a nearby house, visits a sick boy and orders a cure that in a few days heals the sick young. Ravaldini presents a more detailed version of the episode: «A personality, who already showed up at other sittings – saying that he had been a well-known doctor, when he possessed a physical body in our world – manifests himself, speaking directly and greeting the sitters. At this sitting there is a mother whose son, a few days before, was struck by an acute febrile attack, which shows no signs of diminishing. A cure had been administered to the sick boy, which however had no positive results. The woman asks that doctor if he can know the cause that determined the boy's illness and eventually advise on what to do. The entity is very kind: he says that with the help of the medium he will visit the sick boy. In order to do this, he adds, it is necessary that he be led, through thought, into the room where the boy is. The mother concentrates, thinking intensely about the room where her son lies feverish. After a few minutes, during which an absolute silence reigns in the medium's cabinet, the voice of the entity is again heard to reassure and to inform that the boy has nothing serious. The case can be solved with a simple cure: spring water with sugar. And of this medicine he specifies the daily dose to be administered. A thank you, expressed with the heart, is sent to that invisible doctor». No other significant events are recorded about this entity.
Umberto Maddalena - This is one of the most interesting entities of this series of séances, also because he explicitly stated, as we shall see, to recognize his earthly identity in a photograph showed by one of the sitters. In reality Umberto Maddalena (1894-1931), after a period of navigation as a ship's boy in the Merchant Marine, attended the Naval Academy of Livorno, obtaining the nomination to midshipman. As a seaplane pilot, he took part in important operations during the First World War. His aeronautical passion was later highlighted by his participation in all the major Italian aeronautical feats. In 1925 he participated with an M24 in the North Sea Cruise, which also involved a double overflying of the Alps. In October 1927 he made a 12,000 km raid up to Russia aboard a reconnaissance seaplane. He was in flight when he received the news of the shipwreck of the airship Italia. It was precisely Maddalena who led the rescue expedition of the survivors on board an S55, with Captain Stefano Cagna at his side. Winning many difficulties, he managed to track down the Red Tent and bring the first aid to the desperate castaways crashed on the polar ice pack from the airship commanded by Umberto Nobile. In 1930 Maddalena conquered for Italy the world record of duration and distance in a closed circuit with 67 uninterrupted flight hours, covering a distance of 8,188 km. In 1931 he participated in the first transatlantic air cruise from Orbetello to Rio de Janeiro. He found his death near Marina di Pisa on March 19, 1931, in the explosion that occurred during a test flight of a plane designed to establish a record distance in a straight flight. He was decorated with a gold medal for aeronautical value, three silver medals for military valor and two silver medals for aeronautical value, but its remains were never found.
In the minutes manifestations by Umberto Maddalena are reported since May 22, 1938, but probably the entity had already spoken before, because is mentioned without giving any information about his identity and the content of the communication. On June 9, 1938: Umberto Maddalena shows up, and says: «The Wing has new records».
Ugo Lago and Finn Malmgren - Speaking of Maddalena, we saw that with his seaplane he managed to track down the famous Red Tent of the survivors of the airship Italy, in the dramatic epilogue of the expedition led by Umberto Nobile. The sighting occurred on June 19, 1928. Two members of that expedition, the journalist Ugo Lago and the Swedish geophysicist and meteorologist Finn Malmgren, both tragically perished after the impact of the airship on the pack, showed up in the Castelfiorentino séances. Ugo Lago was among those who remained on board the airship when it took off again after the impact and disappeared from the sight of those who had been thrown onto the pack. His remains were never found. In the sitting of June 26, 1938, Lago communicated: "The airship's envelope is still intact; that flame they say they saw was an engine. We very much commended ourselves to God, and it much helped us; after two days we passed away. We are 80° latitude and 40° longitude, we are there". In the same sitting, Malmgren said: "I say do not go on, we all die". Actually, Malmgren, with two other companions, undertook a long march on the pack to try to intercept a team of rescuers, active in a different area from the one in which they were shipwrecked. But after 15 days of march, exhausted, he died of frostbite and because of the fractures reported on the impact.
Other famous entities - Direct voice communications are reported in the minutes, attributed to Camille Flammarion, Raffaello Sanzio, Eusapia Paladino, Giacomo Leopardi and Umberto I° Savoia, but the contents of these communications either are not reported, or are generic and uninteresting.