To the Editor,

It was with great interest that I read the book review of F. X. CHARET's 'Spiritualism and the Foundations of C. G. Jung's Psychology' in the July issue of this Journal.  What struck me in particular was the reference to the séances with R. SCHNEIDER and O. SCHLAG, especially the latter, as the 'sample of ectoplasm'  quoted in this review might be viewed upon by some as a PPO, an opinion I do not share myself, but even so the topic is generally of broader interest, hence I might elaborate.

SCHLAG does not feature in the text of CHARET's book itself, only in two footnotes (230 and 231) which have been quoted in the above mentioned book review in JSPR.  First of all, 'Otto  SCHLAG' is wrong, his Christian name was Oscar.  Although this is of marginal importance in itself, even minor details should  be given correct.  Apparently CHARET copied this error from FODOR, whom he refers to in this quotation.

Oscar R. SCHLAG (b. 22 March, 1907 in OSTERHOFEN/BAVARIA - d. 29 Nov, 1990 in ZÜRICH/SWITZERLAND) entered the stage of parapsychology as one of the youthful mediums the study of whom was supported by Albert, Baron SCHRENCK-NOTZING, the dominating figure in continental parapsychology of that period.  A small laboratory was set up in the Bavarian town of LANDSHUT where SCHLAG used to live at that time and a circle devoted to the study of SCHLAG's phenomena was established.  Most of the séances there were conducted under the leadership of a gentleman of some 70 years of age whom to deceive (at least sometimes) was only too easy for shrewd young Oscar, mainly by circumventing the originally intended use of the electrical control apparatus.  As widely known, the Baron's approach to convince the scientific community of the reality of the phenomena in question was to create sort of 'public evidence' by giving top scientists the opportunity to witness the phenomena under 'good' conditions.  He invited them to attend the séances he arranged in his laboratory located in his palace where he demonstrated the phenomena of 'his' mediums time and again, regardless of their endless repetitions.  Hence he used to keep a number of mediums at hand, like race horses in a stable, in order to be able to have the phenomena demonstrated at any time when need would arise, e.g. when foreign scientific dignitaries were visiting him.  So it was quite a blow for the Baron when young Oscar SCHLAG eventually was exposed just before an already scheduled demonstration séance for a scientist from abroad.                          

SCHLAG's exposure triggered two lines of events:  (1) the study of the mediumship of Rudi SCHNEIDER and (2) the development of both SCHLAG's mediumship and his entire personality alike in a much more serious manner, i.e. the so-called 'rehabilitation séances' and his later career as a psychologist and graphologist.

Rudi SCHNEIDER, at the time before SCHLAG's exposure, was seen as the far less important of the two SCHNEIDER brothers and SCHRENCK-NOTZING kept him only as a 'spare medium', particularly as he was just having a 'blank period' at that time.  Thus, as SCHLAG failed, and Willy SCHNEIDER, too, was not available, SCHRENCK nevertheless had to fall back on Rudi which became the starting point for Rudi's career as a medium, leading eventually - long after the Baron's death - to the unsurpassed results of the researches of father and son OSTY and at a later stage of G. A. SCHWAIGER of VIENNA, the records of which are kept in the SPR archives (no one appears to know how they came there).                  

Returning to Oscar SCHLAG, I should mention that he later used to represent the fraudulent ones of his early séances as sort of youthful folly, at the same time strongly maintaining that he indeed has had genuine mediumistic powers, and that the séances in Switzerland (including the ones quoted by JUNG), held over a period of several years and under much tighter control conditions, were proof of that.  Even as a man of retirement age, when I met SCHLAG, he referred to that sample of ectoplasm as a token of genuineness - primarily of his own mediumistic powers, but also of the rightfulness of SCHRENCK's paradigm.  

These series of Swiss séances with SCHLAG, which were held independently from SCHRENCK and thus also were continued after the Baron's death, were held with two aims: firstly to establish (or otherwise refuse) the genuineness of SCHLAG's mediumship, hence the term 'rehabilitation séances', and secondly to advance research along the lines of the late Baron.  (The first goal was met, whereas for the second one there was no substantial progress beyond the results obtained already earlier by SCHRENCK.)  In attendance were, besides JUNG, inter alia Eugen BLEULER, the famous Swiss psychiatrist (who was friendly with both SCHRENCK and FREUD and hence was also instrumental during its early period for establishing psychoanalysis within the scientific community), then JUNG's superior at his clinic 'BURGHÖLZLI', Ms. Fanny MOSER, a graduate in biology (married to a Mr. HOPPE) who later, in 1935, published a two-volume book on parapsychology which saw a reprint some 20 years ago and who in later years substantially supported the IGPP, 'Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene' (= Institute for Border Areas of Psychology and Psychic Hygiene) founded in 1950 by Hans BENDER in FREIBURG, furthermore D. BERNOULLI, an art historian heading the collection of copperplate engravings at the museum, and Dr. E. K. MÜLLER [1], a specialist in the study of human emanations, but not all of them participated in all of the sittings which seem to have taken place between 1925 and 1931 with considerable intervals.  The records of these séances with SCHLAG seem to have been taken by BERNOULLI, who kept them as well, until they were lost during World War II.  My late friend, Gerda WALTHER who knew SCHLAG for decades told me a lot about these séances, and she also mentions them briefly in her most interesting autobiography, although not giving Oscar SCHLAG's name in full;  Fanny MOSER quotes the most important one of the séances (the one [2] during which the sample of ectoplasm has been obtained) at some length in a chapter called 'At the Turning Point?' near the end of her magnum opus, obviously attributing much emphasis to this kind of approach to future research in parapsychology (which did not come true).

In his more mature years, Oscar SCHLAG, who had moved to Switzerland as early as 1929 due to the political changes which were about to take place in his native Germany (note that he was not  of Jewish extraction!) became a psychologist himself and excelled as a graphologist.  He qualified in three different schools of analysis: the orthodox Freudian Psychoanalysis (he was in touch with O. PFISTER), JUNG's Depth Psychology and SZONDI's so-called Destiny-Analysis, but famous he became as a graphologist, blending the traditional scientific kind of graphology (he had been assistant to Max PULVER) with elements of his intuition (somehow similar to the more famous psycho-graphologist Rafael SCHERMANN).  He enjoyed enormous success with his practice as a psychological consultant in Zürich;  he was also an art collector (e. g. of works of Salvadore DALI) and his beautiful, spacious house contained the largest library on parapsychology, the occult, and related topics I have ever seen in all my life in private possession.  But it was not only the sheer number of books:  what impressed me even more was the quality of his collection of old and rare books.  One example will do:  he owned CASAUBON's relations of the séances held by John DEE in the extremely rare original edition of this work!  One of the outstanding features of his library was the large collection of books on alchemy.  He told me that he had lent many of these books to JUNG when the latter wrote his works on the relations between psychology and alchemy.  JUNG, however, does not credit SCHLAG for this;  he acknowledges books borrowed from public libraries, and as far as the remaining bulk of books is concerned he uses the somehow ambiguous term 'books in my possession' which does not - at least in German language - refer to the actual ownership.  Anyway, having seen SCHLAG's treasures of old and rare books with my own eyes, I have no reason to question Mr. SCHLAG's narration really although he definitely suffered from a tendency of trying to impress people he met.    

Another important topic - not only in SCHLAG's collection of books, but also in his personal life - was the issue of Secret Societies, Occult Orders and the like.  He joined free-masonic lodges (which he later allegedly called a big mistake);  he entertained a life-long interest in the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis, a group dealing partly with aspects of sexual magic:  although he even supported them financially, albeit moderately, he made - in court - the point of never having been a member of this organization, which had connections to A. CROWLEY, the Fraternitas Saturni, and other groups), and he eventually even ran a private 'Hermetic Society' of his own in Zürich about which only very little is known.       

Now, after SCHLAG's death, his famous book collection, converted into a foundation, became part of one of the large public libraries in Zürich (Zentralbibliothek).  Although he had each and every one of his books registered in his catalogue, a new standardized and up-to-date catalogisation seemed to be necessary on this occasion.  Whether all this work is already completed by now, I don't know for sure. [3]                          

Remains the story of the sample of ectoplasm.  This found its way - as a part of the Fanny MOSER inheritance - into the collection of the a/m FREIBURG institute of Hans BENDER.  There are a few occasion known in the history of our science where samples of ectoplasm have been taken, e.g. in séances under the auspices of SCHRENCK and a few decades later in sittings with Einar NIELSEN by GERLOFF.  The GERLOFF sample vanished into thin air, as he admits himself, and the results of the old SCHRENCK sample were seen as only preliminary, they revealed some organic matter including cells.  Hence my introductory statement that a sample of ectoplasm might not  qualify as a PPO as a sample like this, containing fragments of human tissue embedded in some physical liquid, could probably be achieved by other, non-paranormal means as well.  Nevertheless it would be most interesting to investigate the substance in question by modern means, bearing in mind that the investigation initiated by Baron SCHRENCK has been carried out some three quarters of a century ago.  So I once asked the late Hans BENDER about that sample of SCHLAG's ectoplasm, suggesting an up-to-date investigation.  His reaction was an interesting though not surprising example of a 'defence mechanism' as his immediate reply was:  'Who  has told you about that?', and when I said, it was Mr. SCHLAG himself, he answered that the sample in question was 'temporarily undiscoverable' in his institute.  Clearly he wished to avoid this subject, apparently out of fear that the controversies and quarrels of the Nineteentwenties and -thirties over 'physical mediumism' could re-emerge, that the institute he headed could be dragged into it, and that his own line of research with emphasis on RSPK could be jeopardized. - The sample as such is still in existence (see GRUBER in his recent biography of BENDER).  [See postscript]

It is now only a few years that Oscar R. SCHLAG has passed away.  He was a most interesting personality, indeed, and a very colourful one;  he was probably the last surviving physical medium with whom researchers of standing have carried out séances, C. G. JUNG being only one of them, and during his lifetime he had more contact and closer relations with JUNG than what just the quotation of that series of séances would suggest.           

Hernalser Hauptstrasse 38
A-1170  WIEN




CASAUBONUS, M. (1659) A True and faithful Relation of what passed for many yeares betwen Dr. John Dee and some spirits: etc. (Reprint: 1974, Redwood Burn Ltd., Trowbridge & Esher.)

CHARET, F. X. (1993) Spiritualism and the Foundations of C. G. Jung's Psychology. State University of New York Press. 

FODOR, N. (1971) Freud, Jung and Occultism. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books.

GERLOFF, H. (1955) Die Phantome von Kopenhagen. (2nd Ed.) München: Gerlachsche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

Same:  (1958) Die Phantome von Kopenhagen: Ein Bilderbuch. Büdingen-Gettenbach: Vlg. Welt und Wissen.

GRUBER, E. R. (1993) Suche im Grenzenlosen. Hans Bender - ein Leben für die Parapsychologie. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch.

JUNG, C. G. (1944) Psychologie und Alchemie. Zürich. (2nd Ed. 1952) Engl. Transl. = Psychology and Alchemie. (In: Collected Works. Princeton, NJ: University Press, vol. 11)

Same:  (1955/56) Mysterium Conjunctionis, 2 vols. Zürich. Engl. Transl. = Mysterium Conjunctionis (In: Collected Works. Princeton, NJ: vol. 14)          

KÖNIG, P. R. (1994) Das OTO-Phänomen. 100 Jahre Magische Geheimbünde und ihre Protagonisten, etc. Hiram-Edition 16, ARW München.              

MOSER, F. (1935) Der Okkultismus - Täuschungen und Tatsachen. München and Zürich. (Reprint: 1974, under the revised title: Das große Buch vom Okkultismus. Olten.)

OSTY, E. (1933) Supernormal Aspects of Energy and Matter. The F.W.H. Myers Lecture. London: SPR.

SCHRENCK-NOTZING, A. von (1923) Materialisations-Phänomene. (2nd much augmented Ed.) München: Reinhardt. English Translation: Phenomena of Materialization, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, New York, 1923, re-issued by E. P. Dutton and translated by Fournier D'Albe.             

SCHWAIGER, G. A.: extracts from the (unpublished) Schwaiger File, Archives of the SPR, may be found in: GREGORY, A. (1985) The Strange Case of Rudi Schneider. Metuchen, NJ & London: Scarecrow Press.     

WALTHER, G. (1960) Zum anderen Ufer. Remagen: Der Leuchter/O. Reichl.

POSTSCRIPT (January 2001)

The small glass bottle said to have contained the ectoplasmatic sample (analysed by Fanny HOPPE-MOSER) has re-emerged at the IGPP, Freiburg, when their archive was re-arranged.        
Now this vial which I could inspect only last year (during my visit on the occasion of the PA Convention held in Freiburg) is definitely empty.     Whatever it might have contained - it evaporated or disappeared otherwise.                   

[back to text]


[1]   E. K. MÜLLER must not be confused with a K. E. MÜLLER of spiritualist persuasion who headed an organization dealing with studies in the field of reincarnation.

[2]   This particular séance was held on Feb 10th, 1931.  The sample was later by MÜLLER who later passed the vial on to MOSER who analysed its contents; however, her description fails to produce a clear picture.                

[3]   This has indeed been achieved during the years since my above article has been published.  See the links to the Central Library ('Zentralbibliothek').      


List of SCHLAG's own publications in the 'Zentralbibliothek' in Zürich, Switzerland, and a few publications on SCHLAG

Oscar SCHLAG's occult library in the 'Zentralbibliothek' in Zürich (they call it 'esoteric' there) - Online Catalogue

Press Release on Oscar SCHLAG's occult library in the 'Zentralbibliothek'

The 'Zentralbibliothek', Zürich - Main Page

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