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Adelma Vay was born in Trnopil, Ukraine, the oldest daughter of Count Ernst von Wurmbrand-Stuppach and his wife, Countess Rosa Teleki von Szék. As a child, she lived on the family estate near Schwarzau, Austria. After her father died in 1846, her mother remarried, and the family moved to Prussia.

Adelma married baron Otto Vay de Vaya in 1860. Although Adelma was raised a strict Catholic, the Vay family was extremely interested in Spiritualism, which had spread to Hungary in the 1850s. Several spiritualist groups existed to investigate mediumistic and related phenomena such as the Budapest Association of Spiritual Investigators. Members of the Association included the chemist Elemér Chengery Pap, and psychologists Pál Ranschburg and Sándor Ferenczi.

Adelma had no interest in Spiritualism at first, believing it went against the teachings of the Catholic Church. That changed when she and her husband met Dr. Janos Gardos in 1865. Dr. Gardos insisted that Adelma could be a prophetic medium. When he suggested she try automatic writing to cure her severe migraines, she decided to give it a try. Through her writing, she discovered Tamas, her protecting spirit. Her migraines were cured and by 1869, she had become so adept at automatic writing, she wrote her first book, Spirit, Force, and Matter, using the technique.

Adelma worked as a clairvoyant; wrote, spoke and drew in trance; and gave prophetic advice to her clients. She met and worked with Dr. Adolf Grunhut, after he found that she could describe illnesses and proscribe cures through automatic writing, which she did at no cost. In 1873, with her husband, she formed the Hungarian Spiritualist Association of which they became the first presidents. She published several additional books, including: Studies on the Spirit World (1874), From My Life (1900), and Pictures from the Beyond (1905).

Adelma and her husband were members of the Red Cross Society which in 1897 built a hospital. A decade later, the Vays built another building constructed for infectious disease patients. The couple enjoyed 60 years of marriage. The baron died in 1921 and she followed four years later.

Additional Reading:

Boldin Aleksandra, Ciglenečki Jan (2012) Adelma von Vay, The Mysterious Baroness from Konjice, Slovenske Konjice.

Gyimesi, Julia. Between Religion and Science: Spiritualism, Science and Early Psychology in Hungary. Department of Philosophy, Karoli Guspar University, Budapest.


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