Jan Guzik (1875–1928) was a Polish Materialization Medium. Jan Guzik was the son of a weaver, a native of Warsaw. He was apprenticed to the tanning trade, but began to manifest poltergeist disturbances, and at the age of 15 he became a professional medium. He was in the habit of taking brandy before Séances, of which he would sometimes hold five in one day. The first systematic study of Guzik’s mediumship was a series of 50 sittings conducted by Gustave Geley of the Institut Metapsychique International (IMI) in 1921.
Geley witnessed the movement of objects without contact (see Psychokinesis [PK]) and various materializations, including that of a head and face, seemingly alive and speaking. Impressed, he arranged for Guzik to visit Paris in 1922 and 1923. The IMI Séances were attended not only by Geley but by several other psychical researchers, including Eugene Osty, Charles Richet, Camille Flammarion, and Sir Oliver Lodge.
Footsteps were sometimes heard passing around the circle. At times, small lights would appear in the air not far from the sitters. These would draw together to form pairs, which developed pupils. A mass of cloudy matter would then form around the eyes, and gradually a human shape would appear in the darkness. The experimental conditions were such that the investigators believed that trickery was ruled out, and all signed a statement to that effect.
Characteristic of Guzik’s Mediumship were touches that seemed to be those of animals, and the “full form” materialization of an “ape man,” whom Geley nicknamed “Pithecanthropus.” Like the Italian Eusapia Palladino, Guzik was not above helping out the phenomena, if given the chance. This was well known by November 1923, when a committee of four professors at the Sorbonne in Paris held a series of 10 Séances with him.
Unaccustomed to psychical research, the professors were lax in their controls of Guzik’s arms and legs, and as a result found that he would sometimes use his hand or knee to produce “spirit touches” or move objects.
Although the professors were unable to explain all the Séance phenomena in this way, they declared that he was a complete fraud. Some psychical researchers—notably Harry Price, who saw Guzik in action in 1923, and Walter Franklin Prince, who sat with him in 1927—were no kinder in their evaluations.
The continental European investigators who worked most closely with him were, nonetheless, convinced that, like Palladino, Guzik was capable of producing genuine phenomena, if properly controlled. Guzik died in 1928.
- Inglis, Brian. Science and Parascience: A History of the Paranormal, 1914–1939. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.
- Geley, Gustave. Clairvoyance and Materialization. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1927.
- Prince, Walter Franklin. “Experiments for Physical Phenomena with Noted Mediums in Europe.” Bulletin 7 (1928). Boston Society for Psychical Research.