Hard at work on the final bits of The Victorian Book of the Dead. I’m as fond of Victorian widow-jokes and exploding corpse stories as the next person, but there comes a time when one really has to throw open the craperies and the black-ribboned shutters and let in a little light.
We have not looked at Spook Lights for a while, so here is a story of multi-colored fairy-like “orbs,” floating around a room in broad daylight.
BALLS OF LIGHT CHANGING TO HUMAN FORMS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.
It was a lovely sunny day in April, 1868, that I was spending with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Parker W. Stevens, of No. —, Main St., Providence, R. I. The room in which we were sitting was quite large, and had three windows opening out of it. There were several persons present, and, as it was about dinner time, all were collected in this room chatting pleasantly while awaiting the noonday meal. Suddenly our attention was arrested by hearing the baby, Walter, who sat on the floor the other side of the room, screaming and laughing in great glee. Looking toward him we saw him reaching out his little chubby hands after some bright, luminous balls, which seemed to elude his struggles to catch them, by bounding away, then returning again as though attached to a rubber cord. These balls were six in number, each of a different color, with a name written upon it of some deceased friend. We sat spell-bound as the balls began to float all about the room, at times coming in contact with each person present; if touched by anyone, the hand seemed to be submerged, and could be seen through the substance of which the ball was composed.
The colors of these balls were pink, red, blue, yellow, green, and white. On the pink one the name of Eva H. Stephens was plainly to be seen, the name of Mr. Stephens’s little daughter, who died two years before, when about ten years of age. (It is a remarkable coincidence that pink was her favorite color in life.) On the red ball were the words “Grandmother Stephens;” on the blue one was the name “Risper.” At first there was no name visible upon the green one, but finally the name “McCrayan” appeared. The white ball bore the name of “Jonathan Stephens,” the yellow one “Uncle Jotham.”
After floating about for some little time, imagine our consternation as some of them began to assume the semblance of cloudlike human forms. None were so well developed as little Eva, whose identity could not be mistaken by anyone who had ever seen her in earth form. She was clothed with a pink gossamer-like substance, that was too thin to conceal her faultless form as it floated around the room. Her hair hung loosely, and her face seemed glorified and beautiful beyond description. As she began to fade away, she whispered loudly enough for all to hear: “Papa, have I pleased you? This is the surprise promised.”
The reader can well imagine that our appetites for the meal awaiting us were very small, but we concluded to sit down and go through the routine of eating. We were scarcely seated around the table when a chair, which was always placed at the table for Eva, turned completely around, and then resumed its former position without any visible hands touching it. The table was raised entirely from the floor, then gently lowered without even spilling the tea which had been poured into cups. This manifestation was repeated several times in compliance with our requests, accompanied by loud rappings, which we conversed with in the ordinary method of communicating with spirit rappings. The child Eva Stevens had some time previous promised her parents, through the entranced lips of a medium, a surprise in the way of manifesting herself when all the conditions should be right. Her promise was indeed fulfilled at this time, as it was entirely unlike any demonstration they had ever seen or heard of. Who can account for this most wonderful phenomenon in anyway but that the spirits of their dead did appear? Who can say there was any chance for collusion or trickery, in the bright midday, with not a blind closed or a curtain drawn to dim the perfect vision? These statements are as true as they are marvelous, and form a picture in my mind never to be forgotten. They can be verified with other evidences than my own, that will assure the reader they are not exaggerated. After witnessing such a demonstration who can doubt the power and presence of disembodied spirits? Verily, the dead are alive and in our midst, and Heaven and earth fast becoming one. Mrs. A. Medbury. No. 23 Spring St., Providence, R. I.
Facts, Volumes 2-3, 1883
Colored spook lights are found in folklore and in a few séance accounts, but they are something of a rarity. I do not comment on the modern taxonomy of “orbs,” as it seems as though those who still believe in them are making it up as they go along.
Shape-shifting is another motif associated with these luminous anomalies. Previously I posted about a truly protean spook light that supposedly drove a man mad. Here we have all kinds of entity overlap: spook lights, dead relatives, rappings, table tippings, and a materialized little girl in gossamer pink garb, who might have come from fairy-land.
The name labels on the luminous balls of light is an intriguing detail that I don’t recall ever seeing anywhere else.
Other labelled entities or colored orbs? Waft to Chriswoodyard8 AT gmail.com.
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead. And visit her newest blog, The Victorian Book of the Dead.