“”We have said, in the introduction to this work, that at the middle of the nineteenth century one of the most famous epidemics of possession broke out in Germany: that of the Nonnains, who performed all the miracles most admired since the days of St. Medard, and even some greater ones; who turned summersaults, who CLIMBED DEAD WALLS, and spoke FOREIGN LANGUAGES.”
The official report of the wonders, which is more full than that of Figuier, adds such further particulars as that “the affected persons would stand on their heads for hours together, and correctly describe distant events, even such as were happening in the homes of the committee-men; as it was subsequently verified.
Men and women were held suspended in the air, by an invisible force, and the combined efforts of the committee were insufficient to pull them down. Old women climbed perpendicular walls thirty feet in height with the agility of wild cats, etc., etc.”
Now, one should expect that the learned critic, the eminent physician and psychologist, who not only credits such incredible phenomena but himself described them minutely, and con amore, so to say, would necessarily startle the reading public with some explanation so extraordinary that his scientific views would cause a real hegira to the unexplored fields of psychology.
Well, he does startle us, for to all this he quietly observes: “Recourse was had to marriage to bring to a stop these disorders of the Convulsionnaires!” For once des Mousseaux had the best of his enemy: “Marriage, do you understand this?” he remarks. “Marriage cures them of this faculty of climbing dead-walls like so many flies, and of speaking foreign languages. Oh! the curious properties of marriage in those remarkable days!”
“It should be added”, continues Figuier, “that with the fanatics of St.Medard, the blows were never administered except during the convulsive crisis; and that, therefore, as Dr. Calmeil suggests, meteorism of the abdomen, the state of spasm of the uterus of women, of the alimentary canal in all cases, the state of contraction, of erethism, of turgescence of the carneous envelopes of the muscular coats which protect and cover the abdomen, chest, and principal vascular masses, and the osseous surfaces, may have singularly contributed toward reducing, and even destroying, the force of the blows!”
“The astounding resistance that the skin, the areolar tissue, the surface of the bodies and limbs of the Convulsionnaires offered to things which seem as if they ought to have torn or crushed them, is of a nature to excite more surprise. Nevertheless, it can be explained.
This resisting force, this insensibility, seems to partake of the extreme changes in sensibility which can occur in the animal economy during a time of great exaltation. Anger, fear, in a word, every passion, provided that it be carried to a paroxysmal point, can produce this insensibility.””
H. P. Blavatsky