Canopies of Smoky Souls

 This story from The Spokane Press on May 20, 1908 briefly describes Rose Reading’s ideas about what a soul looks like and what happens to a person’s soul once they die. After reading this article I was a unclear on whether she was Dr. or Mrs. Reading or the identity of other people mentioned, such as Daniel Reading and Dr. Jean Baraduc. There was a French parapsychologist named Hippolyte Baraduc who claimed to be able to photograph souls and auras, so that is my best guess about that reference.

     “CLEVELAND, May 20-Daniel Reading, 6444 Lexington Av. has full faith in the statement of Dr. Jean Baraduc of Paris, who claims to have photographed souls as they left the body.
     She says she has seen two souls in flight. One was that of a child and the other that of an old man.
     ‘We are living under a canopy of souls,’ said Mrs. Reading. ‘The air above is peopled with the departed spirits of human beings and of dumb animals. The souls are of the color of cigar smoke.’
     Some other startling theories are held by Dr. Reading.
     ‘So long as the soul stays in the body,’ she says, ‘there is life. When it leaves it does so in obedience to supreme will. It then inhabits the air as preordained. There is no localized heaven or hell. All souls take the same course and on to the same region. What the ultimate function of these souls may be, I do not know.
     ‘The two souls that I saw took the form of the body they inhabited and moved horizontally from foot to head until they passed out of it. Then they rose like a blue vapor and passed upward through the wall.
     ‘Any observer who has the right mental attitude can see a soul. The right attitude is a state of entire unconcern. Too great eagerness, I believe, has prevented me from seeing more souls than I have, although I have been present at many deathbeds.”

Great. Now in addition to worrying about inhaling germs, now I have to think about all the souls I’m breathing in.