PHYSICAL MEDIUM OF ICELAND
On October 12, 1883, the same year Franek Kluski was born, another male child destined to mediumship was born to a farmer and his wife in a remote area of Iceland. In 1905, when Indridi Indridason was 22, he moved to “the big city,” Reykjavik, to become a printer’s apprentice.
By chance the wife of the family with whom he was staying invited him to join her in a newly formed group that was experimenting with table tilting. As soon as he was seated, the table began to shake violently. Indridi made for the door.
Obviously they convinced him to come back. The leader of the group, Einar Kvaran, wrote that he invited the young man to his home and, again, as soon as he sat down, the table started to behave violently, trembling, shaking, and moving furiously about the room, overturning and nearly breaking.
SOCIETY TO STUDY INDRIDI
Six prominent men founded an Experimental Society in order to study Indridason. They held twice-weekly sittings from September to June for which they paid him a yearly salary. They even built him a small house two years later, in which he could live and where they could better observe him.
He agreed to give séances only with the Society’s permission and indeed they supported him until his tragically early death in 1909 at the age of 28, even though he had been forced to give up experiments two years before because of illness. He had contracted typhoid fever and it was later discovered that he also had tuberculosis—as did both Home and Kluski.
VIOLENCE OF INDRIDASON’S PHENOMENA
In the five years that he was able to “perform,” he produced many varied phenomena, including sounds, lights, odors, materializations, apports, the playing of musical instruments, direct voices and writing as well as levitation of large objects and of himself.
As these phenomena developed he seemed to bring on a combination of these mediumistic manifestations and violent poltergeist-like attacks often directed at himself. Society members had to take turns guarding him around the clock so that he would not be injured.
Indridi was standing on his bed starting to dress when one man saw him suddenly thrown down on the bed. As he ran toward the medium to help, a bowl that had been on a chest of drawers flew towards him. It sailed past him, changed direction and smashed against a stove in the corner.
INDRIDI’S UNWILLING LEVITATIONS
The man left the room but rushed back in when he heard Indridi scream for help. He saw the young man “balancing in the air with his feet towards the window.” Grabbing Indridi, the man pulled him down onto the bed and tried to pin him there but almost immediately felt both of them being lifted up.
He shouted for the other “minder” to come and as this man entered the room a chair flung itself at him. He dodged it and it landed near the stove in the next room.
The first man was lying on Indridi’s chest to hold him down, so the second man sat on the medium’s knees. As he did so a bolster was thrown into the air and the candlesticks from the outer room came flying into the bedroom.
OUTSIDE WITNESSES INVESTIGATE INDRIDASON
Of course this news spread quickly. Skeptics expressed the usual doubts and derisive remarks and of course there was a raging controversy in the newspapers. So the Society invited highly placed people to witness the séances.
The sittings were held in a large meeting hall that contained rows of benches, like a church, with the entry at the rear. In front was an empty space containing a small harmonium, a pulpit-shaped lectern in the middle of the wall, two chairs and a table.
CAUTIOUS PREPARATIONS FOR INDRIDI’S SEANCES
The experimenters placed trumpets and a music box on the table and divided the empty area from the benches by nailing down a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall net. The net was made of strong yarn or string and fastened on all sides with wooden strips and screwed into the walls, ceiling and floor. In the center, close to the floor, a narrow slit was cut to provide the only entrance.
The hall was searched thoroughly before and after the séance and Indridason was asked to undress and his clothes and person were examined. The rear door was locked and sealed.
Of the five men in attendance, three sat outside on the bench side of the net, two went inside: Indridason and a man named Nielsson who was there to serve as a “watchman” or “guard” for the medium.
VIOLENCE AT INDRIDASON’S SEANCES
Lights were extinguished and the medium went into a trance. A so-called “spirit control” spoke through him warning that some “uninvited visitors” or spirits had arrived and shortly other voices were heard speaking and swearing. Things began to fly and Indridi’s chair was pulled out from under him and thrown into a corner. When Nielsson got up to help him, his chair was snatched and flung as well.
One of the men on the benches went into the inner space at Nielsson’s request to retrieve the chairs so that he wouldn’t have to let go of the medium. By lighting a match he was able to see the two men and the upset furniture. He found the chair in the corner but as he turned around with it he was struck “a heavy blow in the back” as though someone had punched him.
No sooner had he returned to the bench than Nielsson shouted again saying that Indridi had been pulled up into the air, hear downwards, feet towards the ceiling and that he was having difficulty hanging on to him. Finally the pull slackened and Indridi sank slowly down again.
INDRIDI’S NON-VIOLENT PHENOMENA
However, most of his sittings were not violent and as the late Icelandic researcher Erlendur Haraldsson reported, he produced many extraordinary phenomena.
Besides the seemingly unwanted self-levitation, he produced most of the same classic phenomena of raps, gusts of cold winds, various odors, and so on. I find fascinating the voices that were heard about him, speaking and singing.
INDRIDASON’S DIRECT VOICES
One who “visited” often was a woman with a lovely, trained soprano who sang frequent solos and was also heard singing a duet in French with a male voice. Other voices, male and female, speaking in a variety of languages– none of which Indridi consciously knew–conversed with sitters.
Haraldsson tells us that there were other odd sounds as well heard around Indridi such as buzzing, hoof beats, laughter and footsteps.
There were many full human figures that materialized as well as hands or limbs. But there was one notable dematerialization: One of Indridi’s arms disappeared. In the dark his examiners could feel his shoulders and trunk but could not find his arm.
INDRIDI’S SADLY SHORT LIFE
As usual there were the cries of fraud from those who knew little about Indridason or the facts. An expert, who was a skeptic and experienced debunker, was completely convinced of Indridi’s ability and the reality of the phenomena.
Any further investigations were halted because of the medium’s illness. Indridi Indridason died on the last day of August, 1912 at the age of 28.
As with the other pieces on this site, I have only room for a small part of the story.
For more information on Indridi Indridason see:
Haraldsson, E., & Gissurarson, L.R. (2015). Indridi Indridason. The Icelandic Physical Medium.