by Thanassis Vembos
The Greek Society of Psychic Research (GSPR) was founded in 1923 by physician and writer Angelos Tanagras (pseudonym of Angelos Evangelidis). It was the first modern organization for the strictly scientific study of psychic phenomena in Greece. GSPR had as members many prominent scientists and other important people of Greek society of the time, but the soul of it was Tanagras himself. He was born in 1877 and studied Medicine in Athens and Germany. He served in the Greek Navy as a physician officer and fought in three wars. After WW1 he retired from the Navy, founded GSPR and started to investigate scientifically the rich body of psychic phenomena which till then was monopolized by the spiritualists. Psychikai Erevnai (Psychic Research) was the monthly magazine of GSPR issued from 1925 till 1943. Tanagras and his colleagues made extensive research in cases of psychic phenomena all around Greece, experimented with mediums, organized telepathy experiments with other researchers abroad and managed to insert courses of Parapsychology in the Greek University. Unfortunately with the onset of WW2 and the long years of suffering and misery in Greece, serious psychic research declined and GSPR became a ghost society. Tanagras continued to research and write after the war but he was getting old and tired. He died in 1971 nearly forgotten by almost everyone.
Nevertheless, his valuable work exists in the pages of Psychikai Erevnai and his books. In nearly every issue of the magazine we found reports of many types of psychic phenomena in Greece –clairvoyance, prediction, telepathy, ectoplasm, psychokinesis etc. Tanagras and his colleagues investigated many cases of poltergeist in pre-war Greece.
One such case received extensive coverage in the issues of March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and December 1925.
The case took place at Kozani, a town in Macedonia, Northern Greece.
During the autumn of 1924, GSPR received reports about phenomena of telekinesis that happened in the past at the house of Mr Ioannis Khalkias. The phenomena seemingly centred on Calliope, a young servant girl from Grevena town who once worked at Khalkias home. According to the initial reports, the phenomena consisted mainly by object movements under circumstances that excluded any possibility of hoax; light dishes, bottles, religious icons, cooking utensils, very heavy objects (barrels of wine), barrels with plants, mirrors, tables, clocks, chairs, mattresses etc. Other telekinetic phenomena were also reported, such as opening of locked doors, raps, effects on people etc. An interesting aspect of the phenomena: every fragile object -lamps, decorative artifacts- that was paranormally moved, was never damaged.
At the time of the initial reports, Calliope had left the family and got married. But, reportedly, her uncanny powers made her husband to leave her and migrate to USA. Calliope had been married again and was living in a nearby village.
Here follows the detailed testimony of the wife of Mrs Khalkias and her daughter.
“We had Calliope, the girl servant, in our house since she was 5 years old. When she was 16, she suffered from meningitis. For six months after her illness she underwent lots of bouts of heavy sweating and finally she was strong again. Two years after her sickness, the phenomena started; stone falls inside the house. Curiously, the stones did not hurt anyone and they seemed to “stuck” wherever they fell. We suspected some malevolent act and called the Turkish police [back then Northern Greece was under Turkish occupation and was liberated in 1912]. Our house was guarded by armed policemen; neighboring houses were searched but the stones kept on falling, without causing any damage.
After the phenomenon stopped, for 5-6 days we were hearing sounds of broken glass without anything breaking. When Calliope was entering a room, window glass panes were shuddering or items away from her were overturning –tables, chairs, copper saucepans etc. If Calliope put any such saucepan on the fireplace, the object was impossible to sit there. The broom was snatched by invisible hands when she was holding it; the same was happening with her hair comb.
At first we thought that the girl was making up all these things but later we were convinced that the phenomena were unexplained and independent of her will.
A similar incident persuaded my husband who was extremely skeptic. He saw the table overturning twice when Calliope entered the room even though the second time she passed quite away from it, fearing his reproach.
Since then, the phenomena continued on a daily basis. Because they caused no damage we got used to them and felt only curiosity. But every time that the phenomena were more intense, Calliope was suffering from stomach pains and a feeling of heaviness; her hands were shaking, sometimes her whole body was shaking, her eyes were glassy. When she had this condition she had to lie down on a bed, moaning and shaking. “Ah, I cannot suffer this weight that crushes me…” She sometimes said. “I wish I’d better die”.
Then little by little, objects started moving from room to room and from floor to floor, usually very heavy objects and sometimes in locked rooms e.g. windowless cellars of which only I hold the key.
Suddenly the table of the living room (1X1 m) among with every decorative item was upon it, disappeared. We found it in the basement; everything upon it had not been moved even an inch. We brought it back but it disappeared again. The same thing continued for about 25-30 more times. Constantly we found objects piled one upon the other when Calliope was continuously at the down floor e.g. tables, chairs, mirrors, a door unhinged and placed upside-down twice. In many instances, locked door opened by themselves.
Once, when Calliope was lying sick, told me.
“Madam, something big is going on…"
Truly, a wine barrel, 50-60 okkas [65-75 kg] heavy had disappeared from the cellar; it was found on the mantelpiece of the fireplace, balanced in the most curious way. Suddenly, books, hair combs and other things were falling on the floor without Calliope being able to touch them. Another time an unbound bed was found in the corridor and the bedclothes piled in the middle of the room while Calliope was at the floor below.
Another time when the girl was washing clothes at the yard, she turned to get the soap; during these seconds the basket containing the clothes vanished into thin air. It was found up in the attic. Another time when the butcher brought in the kitchen the meat for cooking (1.5 okkas – 2 kgs), the meat disappeared and was later found inside the well bucket. When we went to get water from the well, we were astonished to see that the bucket was not submerging. When we brought it up to see what was inside it, we found the meat, absolutely dry!
These things seem unbelievable. But so it went. We also did not believe them, but then we had to.
Another time, while we were sitting on the table, we told Calliope to bring the food which was outside, in the yard kitchen. Then all of a sudden –and this is something incredible- the food was in front of us. Calliope had not been moved an inch.
Some other day, a large barrel with a planted rosebay weighing over 100 okkas [130 kg], was found at the upper floor. Three to four people were needed to carry it downstairs –physician Mr Repanas was present at this incident. Also 10 loaves of bread, ready for the oven, disappeared and found intact 15 m away inside a locked cellar which had only one window with iron bars and whose key I kept.
Some other time Calliope was unwell. She was frying meatballs and told me again.
"Madam, something big is going on again, because I have a stomach pain".
Truly a vat containing cheese (30 okkas [40 kgs] approximately) inside the locked cellar at the basement was found in my bedroom, 20 m away. Exactly like the wine barrel incident I told you before. Two people managed to bring it back. Calliope was short and weak; she could never have lifted it.
Some other time heavy furniture, sofas, tables, moved and blocked the door of the room. We could not enter. One large mirror was found on the bars of the iron bed like somebody was holding it; it was impossible to balance there by itself. Many times glasses were found curiously balancing on the top of the iron bars used to support the mosquito net.
Another time this same mirror was inexplicably transferred to the next room. Also a table.
Peculiarly, the iron bars of the beds did not seem to hinder the transfer of items (Calliope said that she saw them passing through). But when the windows were closed, it was impossible for the items to pass. Before every transfer the windowpanes opened by themselves.
When there was a transfer, a strange sound like “frrrt!” was heard, like the fluttering of the wings of a bird. Then we knew that something was going on.
With my daughter we heard this particular sound at its loudest when we were at the church of St Nicholas where we regularly went among with Calliope. We were sending her to sleep there every night to stop this evil thing.
In the house we had a small icon of Virgin Mary which many times moved and found in Calliope’s hands. Once we were having a wake in Saint Nicholas church, 500 m away from our home. We had tied the icon on the small home shrine to see if it will be lost again.
We were standing with Calliope in the church and we heard this loud “frrrt!” like wings fluttering; Calliope was shaken.
"Look", she said startled. "Virgin Mary came from our home".
The icon was in her hands. After the incident we devoted the icon to the church of Saints Anargyroi.
Another weird thing is that whenever our gaze fell on any thing that was levitating and moving, this thing dropped down immediately. Once I spotted a bottle of cognac hovering two meters up in the air. At the second I spotted it, the bottle fell on the floor and crashed. Another time, we spotted a levitating sack of flour; it fell down, opened up and part of the flour was scattered on the floor.
Markedly when the phenomena started taking place, not only the people of Kozani but my relatives and sisters thought that Calliope was hoaxing all these. There is a possibility that she used trickery for some minor and easy phenomena in order to make an impression. But it was absolutely impossible for her to hoax most of the phenomena. Also during these incidents Calliope was either with us or downstairs. We confirm this.
Once, my sister felt lightheaded; she thought that a Turkish girl was visiting my house and found it strange. She thought she saw Calliope taking out clothes from a chest; when I came downstairs she told me.
"You think that all this things are done by themselves, but I say that Calliope is hoaxing everything".
But the exact time she thought she saw Calliope, the girl was painting the wall; I was holding the ladder for her. [Tanagras asks if this was a case of bilocation] When I told that to my sister, she fled away scared.
Another time Mrs Eleni Papakonstantinou was at the yard of our house when she saw Calliope’s hand jutting out of the window and throwing a stone. As I said I cannot exclude that such small things were done by Calliope to create an impression at times that the phenomena did not take place. But this neither contradicts nor it explains other phenomena that cannot be imitated.
There were some strange events with Turks, whose Calliope was pathologically afraid of. When she had these bouts of suffering she kept on repeating scared “Oh, Turks!”. When we were sending her out for an errand and she happened to look at a Turk, he immediately slipped and fell even at time she did not thing bad about him. Once a Turk was standing on a balcony and Calliope turned and looked at him. He fell down on the street and was carried to the hospital, badly injured. Because Calliope’s effects had been known to the Turks of Kozani, a note was sent to us. “Do not send your servant again for an errand, because they will kill her”.
This is an incident characteristic of the terror she inspired to them; one night there was a Turkish feast. Calliope was out in the street with other girls and a whole table, full with tablecloth and eating utensils moved by itself out in the yard. Immediately the Turkish girls fled away panicked. But the other people of the town, since they realized there was no harm to anybody or damage, not only they did not be afraid but they were coming to our house as well, to see the phenomena and have some fun.
These are the most important phenomena we saw until Calliope was married and left our house. But there are plenty of other phenomena which are impossible to remember since they were taking place nearly on a daily basis.
There were many complementary testimonies by other witnesses. One signed by Konstantinos Tsitselikis (lawer), A.Liafas, (high school teacher) and Mrs Vasiliki Gioulekas says:
"After we heard almost daily about the phenomena taking place at the family house of Mr I. Khalkias, one evening we went there among with Mr Nikos Kalamartzis, teacher of mathematics at Kozani high school to the house of Mr Alex. Gioulekas where Calliope was. She had an ache in her stomach (solar plexus) and was afraid. She kept on looking from the window and repeating “Oh, Turks!”. Near the window there was a small dish filled with water. Calliope wetted a cloth and put it on her stomach. Then she got up, fetched us soft drinks; when she was standing with the tray in front of Mr Tsitselikis, we all saw the dish with the water lifting up, moving in a curved trajectory two meters up and suddenly falling on the floor. This was seen by everybody.
Also other evenings when Calliope was much in pain and was lying on bed, we experimented many times and found that chairs and the big pillows were transferred to the middle of the room, immediately and with a loud report".
Another testimony was given and signed by Mr Alexandros Gioulekas, one of the most respected traders of Kozani.
"One noon we took Calliope by way of trial to our home. Suddenly, the food dishes disappeared from the table. They were found in the living room, among with the large mirror and the clock hanging on the wall. We had never left Calliope from our gaze. She was shaking all over and was turned red.
-Hey, you see now that I do not do these things. Did I move from my position?"
Mr Haris Covendaros confirms that, when he went to Khalkias’ house, found Calliope lying on bed, suffering and moaning loudly. Suddenly something was heard from outside. Affected, he said to Mrs Halkias “Something is going on outside…” Calliope certified that a barrel had come out from the basement. Truly, a barrel weighing 15 okkas (20 kgs) was found at the terrace (10 m away).
“Another time”, says Covendaros “I was visiting the house and he witnessed the transfer of a barrel with a planted rosebay inside it, almost 100 okkas [130 kgs] heavy. The barrel was transferred from the yard to the upper end of the stairway leading upstairs, 15 m away. Three to four people were needed to get it back. I confess that then I felt really fear for these unusual incidents”.
During the period that the phenomena were at their peak, local doctors informed one neurologist in Athens but he did not pay much attention. Only physician Repanas was present during some of the incidents. He hypnotized Calliope and realized that she was susceptible to posthypnotic suggestion. He suggested that she would be self-hypnotized at 9 pm and verified that this suggestion was carried out.
Tanagras laments that neither the phenomena had been investigated methodically, nor Calliope had been examined thoroughly at the time she was active. In Psychikai Erevnai (December 1925, pp 190-191) he writes conclusively.
“So, one of the most powerful known mediums, who would glorify Greek science, was wasted because after her marriage and twin pregnancy Calliope seemingly lost all her powers, as it is usual in these cases.
But I had to certify this by myself.
I knew that Calliope was married to one shepherd and was living in Milotini village, four hours away from Kozani.
I had the eager help of Mr Kozyris, governor of Kozani prefecture, a very progressive and modern man, who did not spare any money or pains to help my research and to whom GSPR expresses it gratitude. So we went to the village by horse and after a lot of happenings we met Calliope.
She is a short and slightly built girl with strange black eyes and of hysteric disposition. She could be hypnotized almost immediately. But it seems that her telekinetic powers are now lost –something that she resents because she was quite proud of them. As all mediums in such cases, she tried –with childish tricks- to imitate telekinetic phenomena and persuade us. This childish behaviour further supports the testimonies I collected from Kozani regarding phenomena that cannot be imitated. For example she took two lumps of sugar from her pocket and threw them on the ground, saying that they came by themselves, etc. I tried to calm her thinking that if every conscious and unconscious trick of the mediums were as such, one should not be a great savant to expose them. I proposed her to come to Kozani with her two children for medical observations in the local hospital. She accepted. But it seems that her telekinetic powers are gone for good, because she could not produce any phenomena at all”.