An apport is an object that appears in the presence of a Medium or spiritual adept, as though it has been formed from thin air or has passed through solid matter. This paranormal transportation is also known as teleportation. The word “apport” comes from the French apporter, meaning “to bring.”
Apports once were a common phenomenon of spiritualist Séances, with mediums producing flowers, perfumes, and odd objects, said to be gifts from the spirits present. Other apports have included vases, books, dishes of candy which moved about the seance table for the sampling of each sitter, and live birds, animals and sea life, including lions, hawks, buzzards, eels and lobsters. Some mediums were found to hide apports on their person before a seance and then produce them in the dark; others produced apports with no normal explanation. Apports also occur in Poltergeist cases. In the 1990s, the Scole Experiment seance group in England became famous for its controversial apports.
Nineteenth-century mediums Agnes Guppy and Eusapia Palladino were especially adept at apports, producing the custoMary flowers and fruit—even sea sand and ice. Palladino also produced disagreeable apports, such as dead rats.
Guppy was herself an apport at a seance conducted by mediums Frank Herne and Charles Williams, two of her protégés. In June 1871, at a seance at the mediums’ home at 61 Lamb’s Conduit Street, High Holborn, London, one of the sitters, a Mr. W. H. Harrison, jokingly asked spirit controls John King and Katie King if Guppy could be brought. She was an extremely large woman, and the sitters thought that such teleportation would surely test the powers of the spirits. According to all reports, within three minutes Guppy, clad only in her dressing gown, was sitting in a daze in the middle of the table, holding her pen and account book. Guppy claims that just as she was writing the word “onions” in her household ledger, she found herself transported from her home at Highbury about two miles away, whisked through the air at about 120 miles per hour.
American medium Arthur Ford reported the appearance of apports at a seance in England at the home of medium Catherine Barkel, which included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ford among the sitters. After Barkel went into a trance, her Native American SPIRIT GUIDE and control took over and announced that the “little people” had brought the sitters some valuable objects which had been lost on ships wrecked at sea or in other ways. Immediately, precious stones, one for each of the sitters, appeared in Barkel’s hand in her lap. Doyle took them to a jeweler, who appraised them at several hundred pounds. Ford’s stone was a garnet; others were diamonds, amethysts, emeralds and rubies. The sitters had them set in jewelry.
Perhaps the most unusual apports were produced by Charles Bailey, the pseudonym of an Australian medium who excited much interest on the part of psychical researchers. Born around 1870, Bailey enjoyed a 50-year career in mediumship until his death in 1947. He discovered his powers as a medium at age 18. Early on, his controls announced he had a gift for apports. He then produced his first, a stone dripping with sea water, said to be conveyed from the ocean by a spirit. Among the many apports Bailey produced were live birds in nests with eggs; live fish, crabs and turtles; a barely alive small shark; seedlings growing in pots of earth; an Arabic newspaper; rare coins and antiques (the values of which later were said to be grossly exaggerated); a human skull; a leopard skin; a huge piece of tapestry; precious stones; and clay tablets and cylinders said to bear ancient Babylonian inscriptions.
Bailey’s modus operandi was to enclose himself in a double-sewn canvas bag with only his head and arms out, and with seals placed at the neck and wrists. Efforts to test Bailey were thwarted by his controls, who insisted on working in the dark. He was searched prior to donning the bag but was never undressed. Skeptics believed he hid apports on his person, or in hollow heels of his rather high-heeled boots (he was a short man), and then pushed them out through an undetected hole in the sack. Once, he was caught with his boots off. He also was exposed producing fake spirit materializations. Two exotic live birds he once produced as apports were taken to a local bird dealer for the purpose of identifying the species; the dealer recognized the birds as two he had recently sold to a man, and he later identified Bailey as the purchaser. Bailey retorted that the dealer was a “stooge” of the Catholic Church.
Several explanations have been advanced for apports: that they are brought from other dimensions by spirits; that they are drawn from other dimensions by the willpower and magnetic pull of the medium; or that they are objects already existing on the earth plane which are forcibly disintegrated by the medium, transported and reintegrated in another location.
According to apport medium John W. Bunker, in order for apports to appear the medium must put all his spiritual energy, or magnetic current, at the spirits’ disposal. Bunker’s technique called for deep breathing and relaxation. First, he inhaled in rhythm with his heartbeat for seven counts and mentally directed the magnetic energy in the air to the base of the spine, where he held it for three heartbeats. Next he drew this energy up the spine to the root of the neck and exhaled through the mouth for seven heartbeats. He paused for three heartbeats and repeated the process from the beginning. According to Bunker, this spiritual energy felt like a spot of heat about the size of a half dollar. He advised that mediums never attempt to do this procedure without first having full control of one’s mind, emotions and passions. Bunker said he released his cosmic energy in the late evening, thereby converting apported objects to the vapor state, and rematerialized them at seances at 8:00 the next morning.
Certain mystical adepts, such as the Sufi s of Islam and Hindu swamis, holy men and avatars (incarnations of God), claim to produce apports such as food, precious jewelry, religious objects and vibuti (holy ash). Like mediums, some adepts have been detected using sleight of hand, but others, such as Sai Baba of India, have never been exposed of fraud.
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FURTHER READING :
- Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970.
- Chaney, Rev. Robert G. Mediums and the Development of Mediumship. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1972.
- Douglas, Alfred. Extrasensory Powers: A Century of Psychical Research. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1976.
- Fodor, Nandor. Mind Over Space. New York: Citadel Press, 1962.
- Haraldsson, Erlendur. Modern Miracles: An Investigative Report on Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1987.
- Irwin, H. J. “Charley Bailey: A Biographical Study of the Australian Apport Medium.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)54 (April 1987): 97–118.
- Mitchell, Edgar D. Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science. John White, ed. New York: Paragon Books, 1974.
- Stevenson, Ian. “Are Poltergeists Living or Are They Dead?” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (SPR)66 (July 1972): 232–52.
- Wolman, Benjamin B., ed. Handbook of Parapsychology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977.