An early 20th century magic lantern slide depicting ectoplasm emanating from a medium.

An early 20th century magic lantern slide depicting ectoplasm emanating from a medium.

Ectoplasm is a substance or spiritual energy that is secreted by a medium during séances. The term was coined in 1905 by French physiologist Charles Richet after witnessing Spiritualist Eusapia Palladino produce “gelatinous protoplasm” from her body.

Ectoplasm typically consists of a white, transparent formation which is said to resemble gauze or mucus. The substance oozes out of various orifices on the medium’s body including the nose, mouth, ears, vagina, and anus.

Many believe that ectoplasm is a physical manifestation from the spirit world. Notable luminaries like William Butler Yeats and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle risked their professional reputations by endorsing the material as “an absolute confirmation that the supernatural was tangible and proveable.”

Ectoplasm began to lose its validity in the 1920s when several mediums were found to have fraudulently produced the substance. Some would regurgitate pieces of muslin and cheese cloth on demand while others went as far as storing sacks of material in their rectum and vagina.

In 1984 ectoplasm took on a new meaning due to the film Ghostbusters. The movie portrayed the phenomena as a slimy green substance that splattered on paranormal investigators after exterminating a spirit.


Leave a Comment