A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All


Xenoglossy is the alleged speaking or writing in a language entirely unknown to the speaker. The probability of this happening is the same as the probability that someone can go without food or water for decades, namely, zero.

Nevertheless, there have been some extraordinary stories concerning alleged xenoglossy. Philosopher C. J. Ducasse, for example, discusses the "Rosemary" case at length. His discussion is based solely on the works of Dr. Frederic H. Wood, who wrote several books in which he claimed to know personally a girl who channeled an ancient Egyptian princess. This allegedly happened in 1931 in Blackpool, England. Unfortunately, no independent test was ever done on Rosemary. All we have is the word of Dr. Wood.

 Ducasse tells us:

Shortly after the death of his brother in 1912, Dr. Wood's investigations of psychic phenomena convinced him that survival of the human personality after death is a fact. Eventually, as a result of a common interest in music, he became acquainted with the girl referred to in his books by the pseudonym, "Rosemary." Late in 1927, she spontaneously began to write automatically. She viewed this development with repugnance and distrust and, knowing as she did of Dr. Wood's interest, which she had not shared in psychic phenomena, she turned to him for light on the matter (After Thirty Centuries, Rider & Co. London, 1935, pp. 19,20).

It is surprising that Dr. Wood, who called one of his books about Rosemary Egyptian Miracle, didn't bother to have her tested by a panel of experts. Wood was not an Egyptologist, so he brought in A. J. Howard Hulme to help him identify and translate Rosemary's sounds into Egyptian words. How either of them knew what ancient Egyptian sounded like or what the sounds meant is anybody's guess. We have only their word for it that Rosemary's utterances "constitute coherent communications manifesting purpose, intelligence, and responsiveness to the conversational situation of the moment."

Ducasse considered five possible explanations for the Rosemary case. Unfortunately, he did not consider the possibility that the case is a hoax, that Wood fabricated Rosemary's story to promote his books and his belief in reincarnation. It is also possible that Rosemary was engaging in glossolalia and that Wood and Hulme were either duped by her or heard what they wanted to hear and turned her gibberish into ancient Egyptian words.

See also automatic writingchanneling, glossolalia, and Ian Stevenson.

further reading

"xenoglossy," by Dr. Sarah Gray Thomason in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996).

Last updated 22-Oct-2015


© Copyright 1994-2016 Robert T. Carroll * This page was designed by Cristian Popa.