Sunday, November 4, 2012

"What do you have to do with crowns?"

The next time I go to the Petit Trianon and Le Hameau, I'm going to sit quietly and try to absorb the moment and the atmosphere.  Every time I've been, I've felt rushed.  Who knows?  Maybe a spirit will visit me.  Heaven knows, they couldn't find a more receptive victim, um, receptor.  There have been numerous reports of sightings at Versailles and the Petit Trianon.  In the most famous, two middle-aged spinsters (or as I like to think of them "Single Ladies," Beyoncé-style), Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, academics from St. Hughs Oxford, published an account of their experiencing what's referred to as a "time slip."  To make a long story short, they were tourists, wandering on the grounds of the Petit Trianon on Aug. 10, 1901, when they encountered several people whom they later decided they believed to be spirits from the 18th Century.  One of the women said she saw a woman in an old-fashioned dress, wearing a straw hat sitting in the grass, sketching.  She later identified the woman as Marie Antoinette when shown a portrait by Adolph Wertmüller.  I'm not sure if it was this portrait or the one below.  They spoke of the odd one-dimensional, oppressive quality of the scene in a quite detailed description.  Others have shared stories of supposed instances of seeing or feeling spirits.  In 1950, Henri Racinais, a member of the professional staff at Versailles, wrote, in a scholarly account, that that he had found himself "in the presence of phenomena which I have not been able to explain to myself."  The Duchesse of Devonshire claimed that Marie Antoinette appeared to her.  She doesn't seem too reliable, but who am I to say?  Long Island Medium has legitimized mediumship enough for me to admit that last year, out of curiosity, I accepted a furtive, whispered invitation to a party/reading at a friend's home.  Pretty fascinating stuff.  How did that woman know to ask me what did I have to do with crowns?

In case you'd like to read the the Ms. Moberly and Jourdain's little book, An Adventure: ...

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