Haunted People - Angelique Cottin,
Angelique Cottin was a Normandy peasant girl of 'small
stature' who apparently had a bizarre affect on objects and people (now called psychokinesis. Indeed, the apparently supernatural /
psychic phenomena which she
'produced' are very similar to those more normally associated with poltergeists.
Angelique became known as 'The Electric Girl', or the 'Poltergeist Girl' and
her case, though certainly not unique (see other
Girls on this site for similar poltergeist
cases), was one of the first of a 'paranormal' type to be scientifically
investigated. As such Angelique Cottin is deserving of serious attention not
only from parapsychologist and students of psychic research but from sceptics
outside the paranormal field as well.
The strange phenomena that haunted the girl began in the town of La Perriere, France, on January 15,
1846, when Angelique was 14. It was eight
o'clock in the evening, and Angelique, together with some other girls, was weaving silk gloves on an oak
frame, when suddenly the frame began to shake as if it were alive. The girls
couldn't keep it still no matter what they tried. They became distressed and called the neighbours, who didn't believe
them and told them to carry on with their work. So they returned slowly, one by one,
to the weaving frame, which remained
still until Angelique came near, then it again began dancing around again. All
the girls were afraid, but Angelique also felt a strange attraction towards the frame.
When Angelique's parents found out about the incident they thought she must be possessed. So they took her to the presbytery in order to
have her exorcised. But the curate would have none of it, instead he wanted to
witness the strange phenomenon for himself, and, after doing so, and convincing
himself it was physical, advised her
parents to take the girl to a medical doctor.
Meanwhile, Angelique's bizarre condition worsened. When she attempted to sit in a chair,
it was pulled or pushed away; and such was the power of the force that a strong man
couldn't hold down the chair. A heavy 60 pound table floated up from the floor when
she touched it. If she tried to sleep in a bed, it rocked, and the only place she could
rest was on a stone covered with cork. Whenever she went near objects
they moved away from her, even without apparent physical contact. The merest touch of her hand,
apron or petticoats sent things - even heavy furniture - flying off or bouncing up and
down, even if someone was firmly holding them down. People who were near her, even without
would frequently get electric shocks.
A certain Monsieur Hebert, while sitting on a heavy
container, was raised up into the air with it. The blowing of a cold wind -
as often experienced in hauntings or poltergeist cases, was also noted in her
presence. Angelique was often injured by her own violent
involuntary movements, and when the power was active her heartbeat would
increase to 120 a minute. She also suffered from convulsions during the activity
and she was so frightened by her power that she constantly ran away from the scene.
The effects of her condition, though lessened when she was
on a carpet or waxed cloth, intensified remarkably when she was on the bare
earth. Metals, it seems, were not affected at all, indicating that if it was a
form of electricity it was an unusual kind. Her 'powers' sometimes
stopped completely for two or three days, and then started again without
warning. When she was tired the effects were reduced.
The Phenomena Tested in Paris
The doctor to whom Angelique had been referred brought
her, along with her father and
mother, to Paris. She undertook preliminary tests with Dr. Tanchou, who
witnessed, among other things, a cold breeze blowing around her, a dining table
moved 'by the mere touch of her dress' and a large, heavy sofa on which he was
sitting 'pushed with great force' against a wall as soon as Angelique sat down
on it next to him. Dr. Tanchou was sufficiently impressed to call in well known astronomer
Francois Arago, who was convinced enough by the psychic phenomena he witnessed to set up
a formal committee of enquiry. The committee testified that the phenomena were real, and a report was published
in the Journal des debats (February
Arago noted many things about Angelique's strange power, which he thought was a kind
of electro-magnetism. He noted that the left side of the body, specifically
around her left hand and pelvis, was where most of the repulsive force
was, and that during the activity the left side of her body was warmer than the
right. Her body was affected by unpredictable movements, and a shaking, which
was transferred to
any hand which
touched it. The phenomena were not produced continuously, but sporadically during the
day, and most intensely in the evening between seven and nine o'clock.
When a piece of paper, a pen, or any other light object was put on a
table, and Angelique approached with her left hand, even before she touched
the object would fly off the table, as if blown by a gust of wind. The table itself
was sent flying the minute her hand touched it, or even when it was touched by a thread which she
was holding. If she tried to sit down the seat was thrown a distance from her
with such a force that any other person sitting in it was carried off as well.
One day, even though the chair was held by two very strong men, it shattered between their
hands. On another occasion a chest on which three men were sitting was moved in this way.
Arago noted that Angelique could: 'touch no object
without breaking it or throwing it upon the ground.' His observations also
confirmed what others had noticed earlier, that pieces of
furniture only needed to be lightly touched by her clothes to be moved or overturned.
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