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Kathleen Goligher - Irish Medium

Kathleen Goligher




Kathleen Goligher (born 1898) was an Irish spiritualist medium.


·       1.   Investigations

·       2.   Critical Evaluation

·       3.   See Also

·       4.   References

·       5.   Further Reading


Goligher was born in Belfast. She held seances in her own home with seven of her family members. The psychical researcher and engineer William Jackson Crawford (1881–1920) investigated the mediumship of Goligher and claimed she had levitated the table and produced ectoplasm.[1]

Crawford in his books developed the "Cantilever Theory of Levitation" due to his experiments with Goligher. According to his theory the table was levitated by "psychic rods" of ectoplasm which came out of the body of the medium to operate as an invisible cantilever. Crawford took flashlight photographs of the ectoplasm, and described the substance as "plasma". Crawford investigated Goligher's mediumship at her house for six years.[2] He committed suicide on 30 July 1920 for unknown reasons. Crawford's photographs of Goligher showed that the ectoplasm, frequently issued from her genitals.[3]

There were no scientific controls in the Crawford's séances with Goligher as she and her family members had their hands and legs free at all times.[4] After Crawford's death the physicist Edmund Edward Fournier d'Albe investigated the medium Goligher at twenty sittings and arrived at the opposite conclusion to Crawford. According to d'Albe no ectoplasm or levitation had occurred with Goligher and stated he had found evidence of fraud. On 22 July 1921 he observed Goligher holding the table with her foot.[5] He also discovered that the "ectoplasm" substance in the photographs of Crawford was muslin. During a séance d'Albe had observed white muslin between Goligher's feet.[6]

The conclusion from d'Albe was that the Goligher family were involved in the mediumship trickery and had duped Crawford. D'Albe published The Goligher Circle in 1922 which exposed the fraudulent mediumship of Goligher and because of the exposure she retired from mediumship in the same year.[7]

Critical evaluation

Goligher with muslin

Crawford's experiments were criticized in a review for the Society for Psychical Research by Eric Dingwall.[8]

The psychical researcher Hereward Carrington noted that the photographs taken by Crawford look "dubious in appearance" and that "with rare exceptions, no other investigators had an opportunity to check-up his results, since outsiders were rarely admitted to the sittings."[9]

Bryan Donkin, M.D., studied the Crawford experiments called attention to "the superabundant exposure of the massive credulity and total defect of logical power displayed by Dr. Crawford," who gives "the most pathetic picture of a willing victim of pernicious deception".[10]

The psychologist Joseph Jastrow criticized the Crawford experiments as unscientific and wrote "the minute detail of apparatus and all the paraphernalia of an engineering experiment which fills the Crawford books must ever remain an amazing document in the story of the metapsychic. As proof of what prepossession can do to a trained mind the case is invaluable."[11]

In a letter to Harry Houdini, d'Albe wrote "I must say I was greatly surprised at Crawford's blindness."[12]

Joseph McCabe suggested that Goligher had used her feet and toes to levitate the table and move objects in the séance room and compared her fraudulent mediumship to Eusapia Palladino who performed similar tricks.[13] Edward Clodd documented the fraud of Goligher and refuted the Crawford experiments in detail.[14]

Researchers such as Ruth Brandon and Mary Roach have heavily criticized Crawford's investigation, describing him as credulous and having a sexual interest in Goligher, such as an obsession with her underwear.[7][15]

In 1988, Susan Blackmore claimed that she had communicated with Dingwall about the case. Blackmore stated that Crawford had confessed to Dingwall that all the Goligher phenomena was fraudulent. Blackmore quotes Crawford as saying "Ding, I have to tell you something. It was all faked, all of it."[16]


1.       Raymond Buckland. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-1578592135

2.      William Jackson Crawford. The Reality of Psychic Phenomena. (1918), Experiments in Psychical Science. (1919) and The Psychic Structures of the Goligher Circle (1921)

3.       Scientific American. (1922). Volume 126. p. 60

4.       Julian Franklyn. (1935). A Survey of the Occult. Kessinger Publishing. p. 233. ISBN 9780766130074

78-07661300745.       C. E. Bechhofer Roberts. (1932). The Truth About Spiritualism. Kessinger Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-1417981281

6.       Edmund Edward Fournier d'Albe. (1922). The Goligher Circle. J. M. Watkins. p. 37

7.      Mary Roach. (2010). Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife. Canongate Books Ltd. pp. 114-116. ISBN 978-1847670809

8.       Eric Dingwall. (1921). Dr. W. J. Crawford's The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 32. pp. 147–50

9.       Hereward Carrington. (2003). The Story of Psychic Science. Kessinger Publishing. p. 197-200. ISBN 978-1161351118

10.    Joseph Jastrow. (1935). Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief. D. Appleton-Century Company. p. 377

11.    Carl Murchison. (1927). The Case For And Against Psychical Belief. Clark University p. 307

12.    Harry Houdini. (2011). A Magician Among the Spirits. Cambridge University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-1108027489

13.    Joseph McCabe. (1920). Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? The Evidence Given By Sir A. C. Doyle and Others Drastically Examined. London Watts & Co. pp. 58–61

14.    Edward Clodd. (1922). Occultism: Two Lectures Delivered in the Royal Institution on May 17 and 24, 1921. London: Watts & Co. pp. 28–34

15.    Ruth Brandon. (1983). The Spiritualists: The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 150-151. ISBN 0-297-78249-5

16.    Susan Blackmore. (1988). The Adventures of a Parapsychologist. Prometheus Books. p. 211. ISBN 1-57392-061-4


Further reading

·        Charles Marsh Beadnell. (1920). The Reality or Unreality of Spiritualistic Phenomena: Being a Criticism of Dr. W.J. Crawford's Investigation into Levitations and Raps. Watts & Co.

·        William Jackson Crawford. (1921). The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company.

·        Edmund Edward Fournier d'Albe. (1922). The Goligher Circle. J. M. Watkins.

·        Martyn Jolly. (2006). Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography. Miegunyah Press. ISBN 978-0977282739

·        Joseph McCabe. (1920). Is Spiritualism Based On Fraud? The Evidence Given By Sir A. C. Doyle and Others Drastically Examined. London Watts & Co.



From: Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopaedia


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