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The Sittings of Leonora Piper: Gold Ring

May 9, 2011

– From the book “Ghost Hunters” by Deborah Blum, pg 188

It was in the summer of 1983, while still traveling abroad, that William James received an unexpected letter from a colleague at Harvard, a researcher who’d decided to sneak a visit to Leonora Piper, Boston’s most famous medium. The professor had contacted Hodgson using a fake name. Even after the sitting, he’d not offered his real one. Mentally, he’d been snickering as the medium slumped into her trance, as her hands began to write.

“I asked her barely a question, but she ran on for three quarters of an hour, telling me names, places, events, in the most startling manner.” Someday he’d promised he would tell James what she had revealed; for now, he’d just say it was information not meant to be shared.

Still, there were a few interesting details that he wanted to pass along. Once again, Mrs Piper had revealed her peculiar psychometric gift, as if she could read a story from a material object. It made no physical sense, but there it was:

The professor had brought a single circle of gold, one that once belonged to his dead mother. The ring had been one of two, a set that he an his mother had exchanged one Christmas.

Each ring had been engraved with the first word of the recipient’s favorite proverb. Long ago, he’d lost the one she’d given him. But the previous year, when his mother died, the ring he’d given to her had been returned to him.

The professor was holding that ring in his hand during the sitting, hiding the word as he enquired, “What was written in Momma’s ring?”

“I had hardly got the words from my mouth till she slapped down the word on the other ring – the one that Mamma had given me, and which had been lost years ago.

“As the word was a peculiar one, doubtfully ever written in any ring before, and as she wrote it in such a flash – it was surely curious.”

As an educated man, a scientist, no believer in the silly afterlife ideas of the spiritualists, the professor would admit to only being curious, as he carefully explained to James.

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