From its earliest beginnings to contemporary times, mediumship practices have had many instances of fraud and trickery.[55] Séances take place in darkness so the poor lighting conditions can become an easy opportunity for fraud. Physical mediumship that has been investigated by scientists has been discovered to be the result of deception and trickery.[56] Ectoplasm, a supposed paranormal substance, was revealed to have been made from cheesecloth, butter, muslin, and cloth. Mediums would also stick cut-out faces from magazines and newspapers onto cloth or on other props and use plastic dolls in their séances to pretend to their audiences spirits were contacting them.[57] Lewis Spence in his book An Encyclopaedia of Occultism (1960) wrote:
No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino–individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well–that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.[61]
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The trance medium Leonora Piper was investigated by psychical researchers and psychologists in the late 19th and early 20th century. In an experiment to test if Piper's "spirit" controls were purely fictitious the psychologist G. Stanley Hall invented a niece called Bessie Beals and asked Piper's 'control' to get in touch with it. Bessie appeared, answered questions and accepted Hall as her uncle.[101] The psychologist Joseph Jastrow wrote that Piper pretended to be controlled by spirits and fell into simple and logical traps from her comments.[102] Science writer Martin Gardner concluded Piper was a cold reader that would "fish" for information from her séance sitters.[103] The physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett who examined Piper's mediumship in detail wrote it could be explained by "muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper's knowledge."[104]
While I still am unsure why the translucence varies, I believe it’s a mixture of how closely they are still tied to the physical earth (more connected to earth, more ‘earthly’ looking, less connected, more ‘spirity’ looking). I also think it has to do with their skill level at being able to appear and the amount of energy they have to appear - it takes a lot of skill and energy to appear as a human in physical form without an actual physical body to work with!
^ LeCron, Leslie; Bordeaux, Jean (1970). Hypnotism Today. Wilshire Book Co. p. 278. ISBN 0-87980-081-X. When in a trance ... the medium seems to come under the control of another personality, purportedly the spirit of a departed soul, and a genuine medium undoubtedly believes the 'control' to be a spirit entity ... In the trance, the medium often enters a cataleptic state marked by extreme rigidity. The control then takes over, the voice may change completely ... and the supposed spirit answers the questions of the sitter, telling of things 'on the other plane' and gives messages from those who have 'passed over.'
Next, I ask for the Spirit who is ready for your session to appear to me. Sometimes, they appear in front of me, next to me, right behind me, sitting on my living room couch, standing at the bottom of the stairs, in the kitchen near the stove - basically wherever I am and going to be looking, that’s where they show up. At this time, I can see most of the features of your loved one - their appearance. And generally, they look exactly as they did when they were alive, though they do get to choose the age in which they appear (who wouldn’t?!). https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Omljtyr-JT80C5YTsQ5yj2vktUGjUvRF/view?usp=sharing
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