The Skippy Experiment
The Skippy Experiment
The Skippy Experiment has been modelled on the highly successful Philip Experiment, which was conducted by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research in the 1970s. Philip was an artificial 'ghost' created by the collective minds of eight researchers who dedicated themselves to creating a false history for their subject through a series of weekly meetings. They used meditation, sketches and various 'artefacts' to focus and generate a collective hallucination of an imaginary person. "Philip was an aristocratic Englishman, living in the middle 1600's at the time of Oliver Cromwell. He had been a supporter of the King, and was a Catholic. He was married to a beautiful but cold and frigid wife, Dorothea, the daughter of a neighbouring nobleman. "One day when out riding on the boundaries of his estates Philip came across a gypsy encampment and saw there a beautiful dark-eyed girl raven-haired gypsy girl, Margo, and fell instantly in love with her. He brought her back secretly to live in the gatehouse, near the stables of Diddington Manor - his family home. "For some time he kept his love-nest secret, but eventually Dorothea, realizing he was keeping someone else there, found Margo, and accused her of witchcraft and stealing her husband. Philip was too scared of losing his reputation and his possessions to protest at the trial of Margo, and she was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. "Philip was subsequently stricken with remorse that he had not tried to defend Margo and used to pace the battlements of Diddington in despair. Finally, one morning his body was found at the bottom of the battlements, whence he had cast himself in a fit of agony and remorse." 1
But no apparition resulted. So after a year of sittings a new approach was adopted following the discovery of the work of Batcheldor, Brookes-Smith and Hunt, which led to immediate results in the regular production of paranormal physical phenomena.
Communication with Philip was established and he regularly answered questions with coded raps, all the while remaining true to his character (as determined by the group) - and even more amazingly, all phenomena occurred in full light.
Batcheldor, Brookes-Smith and Hunt believed the production of physical phenomena by a group "not specially selected for psychic talent" was a repeatable experiment which could be performed by any dedicated circle of sitters. The Philip Experiment showed that conscious thought could be translated paranormally into actual physical force. So with this background six Sydney-based participants committed themselves to meeting on a fortnightly basis (the modern lifestyle being somewhat more hectic than that of our 70s counterparts!) to round out the character of one Skippy Cartman, schoolgirl femme fatale:
"A sweet and attractive 14 year old, Skippy Cartman lived out all of her short life on her parent’s property near Dubbo, NSW. Her overbearing and overprotective parents kept her on a short leash and she was very inexperienced with the joys and dangers of life when she got her first schoolgirl crush - on her Catholic school teacher Brother Monk. Flattered by the attention, Brother Monk embarked on a foolhardy affair with the young girl, with nature running its course and Skippy finding herself pregnant. "Full of schoolgirl naievity, Brother Monk reacted vastly differently to the news than an idealistic Skippy had expected. Not for her white dresses and smiling children. After all, he had his career to safeguard, not to mention the reputation of the Church! He swiftly murdered his young student, strangling her and burying her corpse under the floorboards of an abandoned shearing shed on her family's property. "Her body was hidden quickly and quietly, not discovered for nearly a year afterwards – despite her family’s continued searching. By that time her body was found it was so badly decomposed that no one ever discovered that she had been pregnant. And Brother Monk had moved to another town, and another parish, his dark secret going with him."
With this darkly disturbing background it's no wonder her ghost is still lingering! We're rather pleased to say she's deigned to join in on our regular sessions and communicate through soft raps and scratchings - on one occasion our hands weren't even touching the table! In a perfect world we'll soon be wheeling out our audio visual equipment to capture this on film and tape, and perhaps invite some observers to witness this curious experiment in action. Postscript: We ended up ‘killing off’ Skippy Cartman for a second time when it became obvious not much more was happening with her. However, our experiment did progress. Read more here.
1. Paper: Generation of Paranormal Physical Phenomena in connection with an Imaginary "Communicator", authored by Iris M.Owen & Maragret H. Sparrow, Toronto Society for Psychical Research, 17.10.1973.