Eusapia Palladino

21st January 1854- 16th May 1918

Palladino was an Italian Spiritualist medium. She claimed she possessed extraordinary powers such as levitating tables and communicating with the dead through her spirit guide John King. She convinced many her powers were real, however she was later caught and was found to be a clever trickster.

 [‘The History of Spiritualism’ Volume 2, Chapter 1, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]

 Palladino's mediumship marks an important stage in the history of psychical research because she was the first medium to be examined by a large number of well-known men of science. Her main powers included moving objects without contact, the levitation of a table, levitation of a medium, the appearance of materialised hands and faces, lights and the playing of musical instruments without human contact. These phenomena took place much earlier with the medium D.Home. Men of science began to investigate Palladino’s powers and no medium had ever been more rigidly tested. She was able to convince the majority that her powers were in fact real however she was found to be a trickster.

This quote describes the ways in which the group of investigators believed she was tricking her audiences:  ‘Many are the crafty tricks she plays, both in the state of trance (unconsciously) and out of it-for example, freeing one of her two hands, held by the controllers, for the sake of moving objects near her; making touches; slowly lifting the legs of the table by means of one of her knees and one of her feet; and feigning to adjust her hair and then slyly pulling out one hair and putting it over the little balance tray of a letter-weigher in order to lower it. She was seen by Faifofer, before her seances, furtively gathering flowers in a garden, that she might feign them to be "apports" by availing herself of the shrouding dark of the room.’