THE PHYSICAL MEDIUMSHIP OF
On reviewing material dealing with physical mediumship in the last one hundred years or so, I am constantly surprised regarding the paucity of reference to the Warsaw medium Teofil Modrzejewski (1873-1943), who worked under the pseudonym of Franek Kluski.
Kluski, an educated man, a banker and writer, did not attract the level of attention that was given to such mediums as Daniel Dunglas ('D. D.') Home, Eusapia Palladino, Rudi Schneider and others. His short period of mediumship lasted only seven years; the amount of information detailing his activity is therefore limited. I am therefore indebted to the Society for Psychical Research for material regarding Kluski.
As a contemplative child, Kluski had experiences of OBEs (Out of Body Experiences), and seeing deceased relatives and animals. Relevant in view of what he would do in the future, Kluski recorded how other children, when with him, would also see those who had died.(1) However, it was not until 1918, after a seance with Jean Guzik, that Kluski's mediumistic potential was recognized and the spectacular seances began. The number of those attending ran into the hundreds and included a variety of people, e.g. professors, soldiers, professional magicians and parapsychologists; these undoubtedly witnessed what must have been some of the most evidential demonstrations of life continuing after death. Those attending 'were not the "usual crowd", but were totally random and very numerous', and 'the testimony left by many of these people is...an encounter with a magical world, that could not possibly be achieved using pathetic little tricks and sleight-of-hand'.(2)
During the period of Kluski's mediumship, the seances were conducted at different locations, and a lighted environment was sometimes present by means of a red lamp and a luminous plaque. There were over eight hundred occurrences of visitants, with sitters recognizing some of these as people who had died: 'They would start out as a kind of haze, and gradually take shape and become more visible, with greater detail, such as wrinkles and facial hair'...Great numbers of them appeared virtually simultaneously, and often there would be an impression of other presences'.(3) Prof. F. W. Pawlowski noted how the apparitions appeared at some distance from Kluski, and while some walked around normally, others would fly above the sitters' heads. Those who could speak did so in his/her own language, and it appeared that they could read the sitters' minds as they responded to what a sitter was thinking before anything was said. Some chose to communicate by raps, but the voices of those who did speak were reported to have been 'perfectly clear and normally loud, but sound like a loud whisper'.(4)
Kluski is also important to Spiritualist belief as he dealt a death-blow to Christian anthropocentrism (that, illogically, teaches only human beings survive death), as his seances enjoyed the presence of animals returning. Sylvia Barbanell cited Pawlowski's testimony that sitters experienced the materialization of various types of animals; he recorded an instance of a dog materializing and jumping upon the laps of the sitters, and in a seance with a red lamp, a hawk-like bird flew around, with its wings beating against the walls: this occasion was photographed. Validating a further feature of Spiritualist belief, i.e. that bonds of affection are not broken by death, when certain persons materialized in the Kluski seances, they would be accompanied by an animal that left as soon as their human companion departed. The significant feature, as Mrs Barbanell observed, is that the Kluski seances demonstrated that all, rather than some animals survive death.(5)
One materialization brought an animal that resembled a lion that would lick the sitters: this 'would stalk around, lashing its tail against the furniture and leaving behind it a strong acrid smell'.(6) Another visitor, referred to as the Pithecanthropus, was clearly intent on making his presence known to the sitters: an ape-type being, it moved the furniture and behaved 'rather roughly with regard to the sitters, trying to lick their hands or faces'; often the seance had to be prematurely ended when it became over- enthusiastic. Pawlowski related how it grabbed one woman's hand to rub this against its face, and 'this frightened her considerably and caused her to shriek'.(7) Those who came to the seances from 'the other side' would comply with requests to move furniture; despite being in darkness, they would do this without any obvious difficulty; one such instance was the moving of a heavy bronze statue. Kluski's seances may have been many things, but they were hardly uneventful.
Relevant due to the present popularity of the idea that communicators are really only fragmented personalities ('psychons' or 'mindkins'), Dr Gustave Geley, who participated in Kluski's seances at the Paris Institut Metapsychique International, and in Warsaw, reported how 'All these phantoms give the impression of being alive, and as normal as living people'.(8) Pawlowski reiterates this view, adding that 'They made a round of the sitters, smiling an acknowledgement of the familiar sitters and looking curiously at the sitters they had not seen before'.(9) In addition to the materializations, there was the appearance of lights swiftly moving around the room, apports and noises. Admittedly, Kluski was hardly a typical medium: he was not only a proficient materialization medium but adept at producing automatic writing, and deriving no financial benefit from this. He was also seen in different locations away from where he was physically situated, and was accompanied by lights and followed by noises and odours; apparitions would appear in the daylight when he was not even conducting a seance. Pawlowski mentioned how 'the apparitions' persisted in interrupting Kluski's sleep by walking around his room and going as far as illuminating themselves for his benefit. Pawlowski also referred to a report that he had 'no reason to distrust', that Kluski was not only transported to the seance room by the apparit-ions, but also transported from the locked room and found asleep in a another location. Furthermore, tests demonstrated there was a dramatic reduction of temperature in the seance room with Kluski present, and compass needles would move about violently when he was nearby.(10)
Kluski is better known for the moulds that were produced when materializations left an impression, these often being perfect in detail and indicated not only materialization, but dematerialization. Prof. Charles Richet and Geley conducted investigations into Kluski's mediumship in 1921, and secretly introduced soluble cholesterin into the melted paraffin wax that was present during the seance; this was to ensure that any impressions left were actually made during this time (i.e. by adding sulphuric acid, this would cause it to become violet-red and thereby identify it as the substance they had provided). Richet records how, when the seance took place, he and Geley held Kluski's hands and the researchers later found that the mould had impressions of a materialized child's hands and foot. Richet noted how experts testified to the occurrence being 'an absolute mystery', and concluded by saying that Geley's investigation into this aspect of Kluski's mediumship, 'gives irrefragable scientific demonstration of ectoplasmic materialization'. He added that as a scientist, he found the concept of such a thing being possible as 'very absurd', but adding 'Yes, it is absurd: but no matter - it is true'.(11) Would that researchers be so forthright and decisive now! There have been attempts to supply non-paranormal explanations for the many moulds produced, but I believe that people considering the subject with an objective stance would find these quite fanciful; or, as Mary Rose Barrington observes, 'scraping the barrel of speculation'.(12) For anyone wishing to consider the subject of the moulds, I would suggest the writings by Geley and Barrington (listed below).
While precautions did vary considerably, Kluski still produced materializations when strict procedures were followed, including instances when he was naked or there was a lighted environment. In fact, in some instances, the materializations provided their own light, or picked up the luminous plaque in order that the sitters could see them. Pawlowski reported how 'the light from the plaque is so good that I could see the pores and the down on the skin of their faces and hands'.(13) One frequent visitor not only provided enough light to ensure that he could be seen, but this also illuminated the sitters and much of the seance room.
The factors that seemed to diminish the quality of Kluski's mediumship did not arise through any controls imposed, but rather his health and the weather; storms appeared to cause him considerable problems. It was also observed that when Kluski was not in good health, the phenomena diminished, e.g. the materializations becoming reduced in size. After a seance, he was invariably exhausted, but also suffered from insomnia apart from the vomiting of blood. Some of his health problems can be attributed to a serious injury sustained through participating in a duel at the age of twenty-seven. As stated, Kluski was hardly a typical medium...
While some Spiritualists may be satisfied with little more than odours, touches, winds, and 'the quick shake of a tambourine', Kluski is an excellent example of the true nature of Spiritualism and mediumship - providing a link between the two planes of existence and effecting a meaningful discourse between them. It is this type of physical phenomena, the type witnessed in NAS demonstrations, that should be the sole aspiration for all Spiritualists and Survivalists. The point at issue is the need to pursue and attain communication, rather than peripheral phenomena that do not edify; in the case of Kluski, it became possible for the two worlds to be temporarily fused, and for visible and audible evidence to be supplied in abundance. Surely this is the actual purpose of Spiritualism?
It is an absolute pleasure to read through the accounts of Kluski's mediumship; he surely represents a considerable stumbling-block for non-survivalists. I suspect that this is the reason why there has been so little discussion about him by the materialists who prefer speculation and wild conjecture rather than unbiased study of the subject. But why should there be such animosity towards physical phenomena, such as that found with Kluski? Simply because, 'They are both signs and symbols of a specter that haunts the strongholds of science: the specter of the direct power of mind and imagination to transform the real world'.(14)
(1)Gustave Geley, Clairvoyance and Materialisation, trans. Stanley De Brath (London: Fisher Unwin, 1927), pp.201,203 (This has photographs of the moulds, the materializations of the hawk and Pithecanthropus).
(2)Zofia Weaver, 'The Enigma of Franek Kluski', Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, (58), 1992, pp.293,294.
(3)Weaver, Ibid, p.295.
(4)F. W. Pawlowski, 'The Mediumship of Franek Kluski of Warsaw', Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, (19) 1925, pp.501,502.
(5)Sylvia Barbanell, When Your Animal Dies (London: Spiritualist Press, 1940), pp.90,91.
(6)Linda Williamson, Mediums and the Afterlife (London: Robert Hale, 1992), p.55.
(7)Pawlowski, Ibid, p.487.
(8)Cited by Mary Rose Barrington, 'Kluski', Psi Researcher, Winter 1993, p.9.
(9)Pawlowski, Ibid, p.501.
(10)Pawlowski, Ibid, pp.499,500.
(11)Charles Richet, Thirty Years of Psychical Research (London: Collins Sons, 1923), pp.543-545.
(12)Mary Rose Barrington, 'Kluski and Geley: Further Case for the Defence', Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, (60), 1994, p.106.
(13)Pawlowski, Ibid, p.486.
(14)Anita Gregory, The Strange Case of Rudi Schneider (New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1985), p.425.
NB. This article appeared in the November 1995 NAS Newsletter, their website thereafter,
And, is reproduced here by their kind permission.