The phenomenon of apports is the conveyance of material objects, large or small, into a room, the containing walls of which have no apertures through which they might ordinarily pass. It is a fairly common phenomenon; it usually occurs only in the dark, but with powerful mediums and suitable sitters it also occurs in the light. The apports may be anything; human beings, living animals, hints, fish, reptiles, plants, flowers, fruits, earth, snow, books, curios, etc., have all formed apports at one séance or another.
The phenomenon would seem to involve the passage of matter through matter. It can only be accomplished by the dematerialisation of the article, which in its then attenuated or etheric state, is introduced into the séance room and there materialised back to its former state.
Communicating spirits tell us that every material thing has its spiritual or ethereal counterpart, and that the phenomenon of apports is accomplished by a temporary dematerialisation of the article into its invisible etheric form, in which state it can be conveyed with the speed of light from any distance, through stone walls or other material things, and then be materialised again into its original form. This view is very generally held by psychic students.
Other spirits, however, assert that dematerialised objects cannot actually be passed through existing matter, but only through pre-existing openings, fissures or cracks, so that if the enclosed space were bounded by continuous matter, as in an air-tight vessel, apports could not be introduced.
No doubt the different views expressed by different spirits are in accordance with their limited knowledge and experience.
The phenomenon of apports was a common one; it usually occurred in the dark, but not always. Numerous articles of all kinds, mostly small, were brought from various rooms in the house and thrown on the séance room table, while all sat holding’ hands. Fragile articles were laid down gently. Strange articles, sometimes of value, were also brought, including precious stones and large numbers of perforated seed pearls.
The following two descriptions of the apport of a hand-bell, the one by Stainton Moses and the other by Sir W. Crookes, are particularly interesting in that, being almost identical, they corroborate each other. The séance room was in darkness, but the lobby outside and the dining-room, from which the bell was brought, were brightly lighted.
Quoting Moses’ words:-
In the dining-room there was a little bell. We heard it commence to ring, and could trace it by its sound as it approached the door which separated us from it. What was our astonishment when we found that in spite of the closed door the sound grew nearer to us! It was evidently within the room in which we sat, for the bell was carried round the room, ringing loudly the whole time. After completing the circuit of the room, it was brought down, passed under the table, coming up close to my elbow. It rang under my very nose, and went round about my head, then passed round the circle, ringing close to the faces of all. It was finally placed upon the table.”
The similar phenomenon witnessed by Sir William Crookes occurred in his own house with Kate Fox, and he records it in his Phenomena of Spiritualism, p.97.
Kate Fox called by appointment in the evening, and Sir William, hearing the door bell, left his library where he was sitting alone, and himself opened the front door and showed her straight into the dining-room where there was a lady friend and his two sons. He immediately sent his sons into the library and, locking the dining-room door; he put the key in his pocket, sat down at the table with the two ladies and took both Kate Fox’s hands in his. Very soon they were told by the alphabet to put the light out, the control saying, “We are going to bring something to show our power.” The room was then in complete darkness and almost immediately afterwards, quoting Sir William’s words:–
” . . . . We all heard the tinkling of a bell, not stationary, but moving about in all parts of the room, at one time by the wall, at another in a further corner of the room; now touching me on the head, and now tapping against the floor. After ringing about the room in this manner for fully five minutes, it fell upon the table close to my hands.
During the time this was going on, no one moved, and Miss Fox’s hands were perfectly quiet.
I remarked that it could not be my little hand-bell which was ringing, for I left that in the library. (Shortly before Miss Fox came, I had occasion to refer to a book, which was lying on a corner of a book-shelf. The bell was on the book, and I put it on one side to get the book. That little incident had impressed on my mind the fact of the bell being in the library.)
The gas was burning brightly in the hall outside the dining-room door, so that this could not be opened without letting light into the room, even had there been an accomplice in the house with a duplicate key, which there certainly was not.
I struck a light. There, sure enough, was my own bell lying on the table before me. I went straight into the library. A glance showed that the bell was not where it ought to have been. I said to my eldest boy, ‘Do you know where my little bell is?’
‘Yes, papa,’ he replied, there it is,’ pointing to where I had left it. He looked up as he said this, and then continued, ‘No, it’s not there, but it was there a little time ago.’
‘How do you mean? Has anyone come in and taken it?’
‘No,’ said he, ‘No-one has been in; but I am sure it was there, because when you sent us in here out of the dining-room, J. (the youngest boy), began ringing it so that I could not go on with my lessons, and I told him to stop. J. corroborated this, and said that after ringing it, he put the bell down where he had found it.”
Kathleen Barkel and Estelle Roberts were both apport mediums although the method of producing apports was different.
Maurice Barbanell describes, in “This is Spiritualism”, how apports vary in nature – “I have seen produced semi-precious stones, a sapphire set in silver, a jade ear-piece set in nine- carat gold, a gold locket and a gold ring with three opals and four diamonds, two figures of Buddha, some praying beads and a scarab edged with gold, later verified by the British Museum’s Department of Ancient Antiquities as coming from Abydos.