On ectoplasm: the creepy strands of ghostly residue are stranger than you even know

On ectoplasm: the creepy strands of ghostly residue are stranger than you even know

Of the ectoplasm, Geley wrote:  ”The substance exudes specially from the natural orifices and the extremities, from the top of the head, from the nipples, and the ends of the fingers…the most easily observed from the mouth…The substance has variable aspects; sometimes, and most characteristically, it appears as a plastic paste, a true protoplasmic mass; sometimes as a number of fine threads; sometimes as strings of different thickness in narrow and rigid lines; sometimes as a wide band; sometimes as a fine tissue of ill-defined and irregular shape…In fine, the substance is essentially amorphous, or rather, polymorphous.”

Of the quantity, Geley said this is also very variable, sometimes very little and at other times covering the medium completely, like a cloak.  It most frequently appeared white, but occasionally black or gray.

“Sometimes it is slowly evolved, rises and falls, and moves over the medium’s shoulders, her breast, or her lap with a crawling, reptilian movement; sometimes its motion is abrupt and rapid, it appears and disappears like a flash.  It is extremely sensitive, and its sensitiveness is closely connected with that of the hyperaesthetised medium, and touch reacts painfully on the latter…The substance is sensitive to light rays; a light, especially if sudden and unexpected, produces a painful start in the medium. However, in some case the substance can stand even full light.  The magnesium flashlight (flash camera) causes a violent start in the medium…It shrinks from all contact and is always ready to avoid them and to be reabsorbed.


Several other scientists collaborated with Geley in his study of Eva C.  ”We saw, touched, and photographed representations of heads and faces formed from the original substance,” Geley wrote.  ”These were formed under our eyes, the curtains being half-drawn.  Sometimes they proceeded from a cord of solid substance issuing from the medium, sometimes they were progressively developed in a fog of vaporous substance condensed in front of her, or at her side.”

Schrenck Notzing also reported that when he tried to capture some ectoplasm it evaporated and seemed to be reabsorbed by the medium. However, there was some residue left behind, which Schrenck Notzing had chemically analyzed. “As regards the structure of the teleplasm (ectoplasm), we only know this,” Schrenck Notzing wrote.  ”That within it, or about it, we find conglomerates of bodies resembling epithelium, real plat epithelium with nuclei, veil-like filmy structures, coherent lamellar bodies without structure, as a well as fat globules and mucus.”  Whether or not this residue represented the true nature of the ectoplasm or was just that part associated with Eva’s own body Schrenck Notzing had no way of knowing. One thing for sure, he commented, the substance did not consist of India rubber, which many skeptics had suggested it was.




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  1. Charly

    02/02/2013 at 2:49 PM

    What is ectoplasm made of? Is it real? When does it occur? Can you see it with your eyes or need special lens?I watched a movie with ectoplasm and it caught my interest, these questions came to mind. If some one could answer these questions that would be great, thanks.

    • Greg Newkirk

      02/02/2013 at 3:05 PM

      Well, Charly, that depends on who you ask. Ectoplasm first started showing up during the rise of Spiritualism when it was produced by psychic mediums, usually through the nose or mouth. It could always be touched and handled, and apparently felt quite a bit like cheesecloth. No special lens required to see it. The thing is, ectoplasm doesn’t seem to show up in psychic circles anymore, and that probably has something to do with the “tricks” that early spiritualist mediums liked the play when the lights were out. The photos you see of the ectoplasm were generally taken after the lights came up (or with a flash), giving the medium an opportunity to fiddle around in the dark a bit. It probably felt like cheesecloth because it was cheesecloth. Now, with the advent of nightvision cameras, that kind of stuff can easily be figured out.. which has a lot to do with why ectoplasm has all but disappeared from the paranormal landscape

      Unless I’m wrong. Which I always could be. If someone has some new cases of ectoplasm, send that shit my way! Hope that answers your questions, Charly.

      • Meg DeVille

        08/26/2015 at 8:14 AM

        I think you are completely correct Greg. In all my years of studying the occult I have never come across ectoplasm or reports of it other than in old library books about seances.Old school parlor trick is all.

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