Sunday, May 29, 2011

New book: "O fotógrafo dos Espíritos" (The Spirits' photographer)

A new book (in Portuguese) was recently released: "O fotógrafo dos Espíritos" by Nedyr Mendes da Rocha (1932-2010) (Edited by EME). This is a long waited account by Mr. da Rocha who had the opportunity to make hundred photographs of spirit materializations in 1960´s and before with the mediums Mrs. Otília Diogo and Mr. Antônio Feitosa. Translations of some book excerpts will be presented here in many posts.   

The book has 4 Chapters; Chapter I and II, the author presents his life story, how he became interested in Spiritism and psychic phenomena; he gives a short historic introduction to Spiritualism and the appearance of the "Spirit's book" by A. Kardec; how the first seances at Casa do Caminho (or 'House of the Way', at his father´s house) in Campinas/SP had began. He also give us a description of a seance in Andradas/MG around 1950 where he first witnessed many physical effects. Chapter III gives further details of the regular sittings at Casa do Caminho and Chapter IV describes the famous Uberaba seances in 1963 attended by many doctors and experts besides dozen journalists and the medium Chico Xavier. The book has many photos, some already seen on many websites, while others never published before.

Most of the seances performed at Casa do Caminho had only one aim: healing. Mr. da Rocha describes how people were healed by materialized spirits. This is often a neglected aspect in many meetings of this type in Brazil. Another often overlooked detail is that all meetings (without exception) had no charges, anybody looking for an end of his/her ailments could freely participate. It is then considerably difficult to sustain that all accounts given by Mr. da Rocha are the product of trickery or hoax. Moreover, Mr. da Rocha was very skeptical in the begining; the immense majority of the meetings were hold privately with no charges or any publicity. Only after years of spirit works witnessed by Mr. da Rocha under strictly private circunstances, the so called 'Uberaba materializations' occured at last.

In the sittings that took place at Uberaba under the scrutinity of a medical committee, mediums Mrs. Diogo e Mr. Feitosa were both handcuffed and tied to chairs using leather belts. During other sittings, under the same controlled conditions (use of police handcuffs and leather moorings), both mediums were also jailed. Handcuff keys were secured by one the committee members. 

What makes Mr. da Rocha account so interesting is that he was the first person to use advanced photographic facilities to register the phenomena. He probably obtained the first color photographs of ectoplasm and materialized forms in the world, although most of his photos are back and white. He was also a very detail oriented investigator.   In one of his descriptions of a photograph showing medium Mr. Feitosa disgorging ectoplasm from nose, mouth and ears, he adds:
A Roleiflex camera, Tessar objective 1:3.5, f75 mm was used with a B&W Ilford 120 film, 100 ASA.
 Such technical references are scattered thoughout the text and often in footnotes.

Fig. 1 (Corresponding to Fig. 7 of Mrs. da Rocha book). Mrs. Diogo and Mr. Feitosa scorging ectoplasm during a sitting at Uberaba (~1962). Both mediums are handcuffed and tied to the chairs.


Page 71 brings a photo (figure 7 of the book) of both mediums at work taken by a fixed camera (intalled near to the room ceiling). According to Mr. da Rocha, this photo was taken using flash light after proper authorization by the controlling agents who also opened the black curtains seen in the image (all sittings were conducted in total dark). On pages 70 and 71, Mrs. da Rocha describes the famous substance, how ectoplasm look like:
In many circunstances, I saw ectoplasm being put out from both mediums - coming out of the nasal fossa, mouth and ears. I could see it under red light and flash light which made the substance to become luminescent in the dark, though the flash lasted 1/1000 of a second. Such phenomena allowed a more detailed observation. 
I state that ectoplasm resembles in a certain sense dense cotton that was previously kneaded, you can see lints coming off the whole that was smelless with a whitish aspect. It was always moving around, ready to assume a certain shape.
Pag. 73 has another photo of medium Mr. Feitosa, this time taken with a camera that Mr. da Rocha held in his hands. The image is the same as shown in Fig. 1 above, but from another angle. Mrs. da Rocha comments:
One can see the medium and a large amount of ectoplasm expelled to form two hands (ectoplasmic 'gloves'), one coming out of his mouth and another hanging at the end of an ectoplasmic mass on the medium lap. This photo also shows two ectoplasm types: one, smooth and dense forming the hand and reflecting the flash light, and another resembling a tuft of compacted cotton, falling on the mediums legs and torso, showing that it was a solid and weighty substance and not a fluidic or ethereal one.
In the next posts I will bring translations of many passages of this book and comment them. So far we can say that Mr. da Rocha book is an interesting historical description of a well documented but unfortunately misundersood materializaton occurence in Brazil that should definitely take part of Spiritualist history. 


  1. Oh yes, its time to show the Uberaba Sittings Photographic History to the world as strange as it is. Cannot await to being presented more materials from out of the book! Where can i buy this book? I gonna check it out now! KM

  2. Please let us know, where we Germans can order the book please! Thank you! Kai

  3. Fantastic information..thanks for sharing..

  4. Ok. I am brasilian. My Blog: Dialogos com o lado de la (blog Dialogues with the other side ) We also are part of: Group of Spiritist Studies Academic Cientificos.Meu blog is full of information about reincarnation, photograph spirits, and dialogues EVP, ITC, audios dialogues with spirits, I study for more than 30 since the anos.Cordialmente Southern Brazil. Jota Pedroso