Kathleen Goligher

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Kathleen Goligher with fake ectoplasm made of muslin.

Kathleen Goligher (born 1898) was an Irish spiritualist medium.


Goligher was born in Belfast. She held séances in her own home with seven of her family members. The psychical researcher and engineer William Jackson Crawford (1881–1920) investigated the mediumship of Goligher and claimed she had levitated the table and produced ectoplasm.[1]

Crawford in his books developed the "Cantilever Theory of Levitation" due to his experiments with Goligher. According to his theory the table was levitated by "psychic rods" of ectoplasm which came out of the body of the medium to operate as an invisible cantilever. Crawford took flashlight photographs of the ectoplasm, and described the substance as "plasma". Crawford investigated Goligher's mediumship at her house for six years.[2] He committed suicide on 30 July 1920 for unknown reasons. Crawford's photographs of Goligher showed that the ectoplasm, frequently issued from her genitals.[3]

Crawford's experiments were criticised in a review for the Society for Psychical Research by Eric Dingwall.[4]

The psychical researcher Hereward Carrington wrote the photographs taken by Crawford look "dubious in appearance" and that "with rare exceptions, no other investigators had an opportunity to check-up his results, since outsiders were rarely admitted to the sittings."[5]

There were no scientific controls in the Crawford's séances with Goligher as she and her family members had their hands and legs free at all times.[6] After Crawford's death the physicist Edmund Fournier d'Albe investigated the medium Goligher at twenty sittings and arrived at the opposite conclusions to Crawford. According to d'Albe no ectoplasm or levitation had occurred with Goligher and stated he had found evidence of fraud. On 22 July 1921 he observed Goligher holding the table up with her foot.[7] He also discovered that the "ectoplasm" substance in the photographs of Crawford was muslin. During a séance d'Albe had observed white muslin between Goligher's feet.[8]

Bryan Donkin, M.D., studied the Crawford experiments called attention to "the superabundant exposure of the massive credulity and total defect of logical power displayed by Dr. Crawford," who gives "the most pathetic picture of a willing victim of pernicious deception".[9]

The psychologist Joseph Jastrow criticised the Crawford experiments as unscientific and wrote "the minute detail of apparatus and all the paraphernalia of an engineering experiment which fills the Crawford books must ever remain an amazing document in the story of the metapsychic. As proof of what prepossession can do to a trained mind the case is invaluable."[10]

In a letter to Harry Houdini, d'Albe wrote "I must say I was greatly surprised at Crawford's blindness."[11]

Joseph McCabe wrote Goligher used her feet and toes to levitate the table and move objects in the séance room and compared her fraudulent mediumship to Eusapia Palladino who performed similar tricks.[12] Edward Clodd documented the fraud of Goligher and refuted the Crawford experiments in detail.[13]

The conclusion was that the Goligher family were involved in the mediumship trickery and had duped Crawford. D'Albe published The Goligher Circle in 1922 which exposed the fraud mediumship of Goligher and because of the exposure she retired from mediumship in the same year.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Raymond Buckland. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-1578592135
  2. ^ William Jackson Crawford. The Reality of Psychic Phenomena. (1918), Experiments in Psychical Science. (1919) and The Psychic Structures of the Goligher Circle (1921)
  3. ^ Scientific American. (1922). Volume 126. p. 60
  4. ^ Eric Dingwall. (1921). Dr. W. J. Crawford's The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 32. pp. 147–50
  5. ^ Hereward Carrington. (2003). The Story of Psychic Science. Kessinger Publishing. p. 197-200. ISBN 978-1161351118
  6. ^ Julian Franklyn. (1935). A Survey of the Occult. Kessinger Publishing. p. 233. ISBN 978-0766130074
  7. ^ C. E. Bechhofer Roberts. (1932). The Truth About Spiritualism. Kessinger Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-1417981281
  8. ^ Edmund Edward Fournier d'Albe. (1922). The Goligher Circle. J. M. Watkins. p. 37
  9. ^ Joseph Jastrow. (1935). Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief. D. Appleton-Century Company. p. 377
  10. ^ Carl Murchison. (1927). The Case For And Against Psychical Belief. Clark University p. 307
  11. ^ Harry Houdini. (2011). A Magician Among the Spirits. Cambridge University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-1108027489
  12. ^ Joseph McCabe. (1920). Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? The Evidence Given By Sir A. C. Doyle and Others Drastically Examined. London Watts & Co. pp. 58–61
  13. ^ Edward Clodd. (1922). Occultism: Two Lectures Delivered in the Royal Institution on May 17 and 24, 1921. London: Watts & Co. pp. 28–34
  14. ^ Mary Roach. (2010). Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife. Canongate Books Ltd. p. 115. ISBN 978-1847670809

Further reading[edit]