A Personal Experience of Materialization

A Personal Experience of Materialization

By Roy Dixon-Smith

Materialization is a wonderful display of concentrated group-mind power, in that the whole period of growth from the conception to maturity of the physical body is represented and condensed into a moment or two; miraculous as it may seem to be, it is only the bodybuilding property of the group mind, incorporated in every individual psyche, set automatically in rapid motion by its association with responsive ultra-physical protoplasmic matter.
My own experiences now follow.

As the result of a letter from me appealing for experience of genuine materialization that was published in the Psychic News of 10th July, 1948, I made the acquaintance of a Mr and Mrs Patterson of Buckie. They said that a professional materialization medium, well known in Spiritualistic circles and whom I shall call Mrs ‘D’, was visiting their home for the week-end 31st July to 1st August, and they invited me to stay with them. To show that their motives were purely altruistic, I would add that I was accommodated in their home, given generous and free hospitality, and even my offer to pay my fair share of the medium’s fees was refused. The notes from which the account is composed were made immediately after each sitting, and were supplemented by notes made independently by Mrs Patterson and a Miss Cronjé who, being present throughout, witnessed all the phenomena described. It was Miss Cronjé who answered my letter and arranged my introduction to the Pattersons, and so I have her to thank primarily for my experiences at Buckie.

Saturday, 31st July.
The weather was very hot, to the great discomfort of the medium, but she was in a home that she liked visiting and so the conditions were mentally harmonious. I had plenty of time to get to know her before the séance opened, and I succeeded in establishing cordial relations between us, which has an important bearing on séance results as every investigator should know. For obvious reasons, I shall have to bring out the very great contrast between her appearance and that of Betty (my “dead” wife), and so I apologize for the personal remarks involved.

Mrs. ‘D’ is extremely stout, her features in no way resemble Betty’s, her hands accord with her build and with one who has had to work with them, her hair is of a different colour, texture, and quantity, she is some three or four inches shorter; her age is around the fifty mark. Her voice is rather deep and her accent broadly Scottish. It would, in fact, be impossible to imagine a greater contrast in personal appearance and characteristics than that existing between Mrs ‘D’ and Betty.

Even if Betty herself had been available as a model, the greatest make-up expert with every convenience and material and device at his disposal, including dim lighting and cheesecloth draperies, could not have produced the least resemblance between them; moreover, could any character actress ever born play the part of someone entirely unknown to her with such skill as to deceive the individual’s own husband? I needed, therefore, no tests and no gadgets to protect myself from deception through impersonation, and was quite content to rely on my normal powers of recognition of Betty, should she appear, just as anyone would be who anticipated meeting a close relation or friend in person.

My host and hostess, Mr and Mrs Patterson, are now included amongst my personal friends. I have visited them on a number of occasions since that about to be described, and I know them thoroughly for what they are. They are in no way interested in Mrs ‘D’s’ professional career, but genuine friendly folk who sought only to help me to get the experience I asked for and got. Having two ‘dead’ children of their own, they are just as anxious as I am to avoid any fraud or deception. The others present were all members of the Patterson’s home circle and people of exactly the same mentality. The medium was alone, and thus had no accomplices to help her. The house is a typical smallish modern one, as devoid of trapdoors and sliding panels, subterranean passages, and so forth, as are all its type. The black curtains used were plain cloth ones belonging to Mrs Patterson and I helped her hang them up.

I had taken out with me a dark red rose from my garden, and Betty’s wedding-ring. A few months previously, I had had a Dee pearl in a clasp setting added to the ring, which thus entirely removed its resemblance to a wedding-ring. Mrs Patterson put the rose in a vase amongst other flowers, and the medium’s attention was not directed to it.

Just before the séance commenced, Mrs Patterson took the rose out of the vase and placed it on the edge of the sideboard adjacent to the curtain. The sitters, all old personal and local friends of the Pattersons, took their places, two standing behind the chairs as indicated. I was given chair number one in the hope that any visitor for me would appear through the right edge of the curtain and thus be very close to me. Mr Patterson locked the door and put the key on the sideboard in full view of us all. The other door was shut and I jammed my chair up against it. The medium took her seat and drew the black curtains together, and someone then switched on the red lamp and switched off the others.

After a minute or two, a male voice (referred to hereafter as ‘the guide’) addressed the circle and introduced the figures before they emerged from behind the curtains. All the figures were swathed from head to foot in what looked like white muslin robes with cowls, the faces and hands being dimly visible and the features barely distinguishable in the feeble light. These draperies were opaque and not self-luminous, and I saw the shadow of my head cast on them whenever I bent to my left and thereby intercepted the light from the red lamp.

The first few visitors were for other sitters. They spoke clearly, naturally, and intelligently, and were apparently recognized; each only lasted for about a minute, sinking swiftly to the floor as he or she withdrew within the curtains. The guide then said, “I have a lady here. Will the gentleman by the door please call her out’; so I said, “Please come out”.

 A tall slim figure thereupon emerged from the left edge of the curtains, stretched out a hand, picked up my rose, crossed the floor to my chair, walking outside the curtains and in full view of the circle, and threw the rose on my lap. I stood up to peer into the face dimly seen in the enveloping ‘cowl’, whereupon Mrs Patterson exclaimed, “Don’t touch her!”

The figure at once drew back towards the curtains and said in a voice and accent exactly resembling Betty’s, “He won’t do that. He knows better.” There was a momentary pause, and the figure then said, “I want to show you this.”

A hand which we all saw to be long and slim was then put up to the head, the white material pushed back from the forehead, and a mass of black hair revealed. The figure, whose appearance I estimate to have lasted about a minute, then seemed to vanish through the floor.

A number of other figures of various types and sizes, about a dozen in all, made similar appearances; I cannot, of course, comment on the evidence of identity they furnished.

The height and slimness of the figure and the nature of the hand could not by any stretch of imagination be reconciled with Mrs ‘D’s’. There was nothing, of course, to prove that the hair was or was not a wig that the medium had concealed about her person; so, not having been able to recognize my visitor’s face, I was not convinced that it was Betty.

A very old lady, said to be the grandmother of one of the sitters, appeared from the right edge of the curtain within a few inches from me, and I had a clear close-up view of her wrinkled face and small shrunken figure that again were very different from the medium’s. Earlier in the proceedings, the guide had asked if anyone had a torch; unfortunately no torch was available.

After the séance was over, the normal lights on, and the medium restored to full consciousness, she said to me as I stood close to her by the fireplace, “Did your wife have long slim tapering fingers with oval almond-shaped nails?” I replied in the affirmative, and Mrs ‘D’ continued with a perfect detailed description of Betty’s distinctive hands, one of which she said she saw clairvoyantly on my shoulder.

Sunday 1st August
A sea mist had rolled up overnight which reduced the temperature and improved Mrs ‘D’s’ temperamental and physical conditions. The séance room was arranged as before, and I was given a chair in the centre of the circle. I had in my pocket, unknown to anyone, the wedding ring with the pearl. After the medium was seated the black curtains drawn together, and the room illuminated only by the red lamp, I rose from my chair and placed the ring silently on the edge of the sideboard where the rose had previously been. No one could see what I had put there, but all, except the medium, had watched my actions. Next to the ring was a hand-torch which had been procured earlier in the day by disturbing the Sabbath rest of a local shopkeeper.

As soon as the guide had spoken, one of the sitters asked him to show himself beside the medium. The guide then said, “Stand up, Mrs ‘D’,” at the same time pulling the curtains aside. We all saw him, an enormous white figure apparently about seven feet tall standing beside the medium in her black dress. Thoughts of broomstick and cheesecloth no doubt will enter some readers’ minds; the guide, however, looked perfectly human and Mrs ‘D’, I am sure, could not have concealed on her person a broomstick plus the other properties required to make such a realistic guy. I can vouch for the fact that the curtains had no pockets in them and that there was nothing behind them save Mrs ‘D’ and her chair. In any case, such musings are valueless in the light of what followed, and I only mentioned them to show that I had not got my mouth wide open and my wits closed by wishful thinking.

After a few visitors had come and gone, the guide asked the sitters to sing, “I’ll Walk Beside You” which, as the reader now knows, is Betty’s ‘signature tune’. At the close of the song, the same slim figure as before emerged from the left edge of the curtain, groped for the ring and, in doing so, knocked the torch off the sideboard on to the floor. This seemed to agitate the figure, and she exclaimed in the same familiar voice and accent, “I can’t get it”.

I rose up to help her, but Mrs Patterson, who was nearer the sideboard, anticipated me, put her hand on the spot, felt the ring, and handed it to the figure. The figure, whom in view of the proof to come I shall now call ‘Betty’, said: “Thank you. It’s my wedding-ring.”

She stepped across to me outside the curtains and in full view of all the sitters as before. I was still standing up, and I put out my left hand palm upwards to receive the ring. Sensing her agitation I told her to keep calm, and she replied, “I’m all right”. She then slipped the ring on to my little finger, and it went down as far as the first joint, being too small to go any farther. I felt the touch of her fingers as she put it on, and they were warm and seemed as normal in all respects as any physical ones.

“Don’t give it to our daughter until she is seventeen or eighteen or she won’t know the value of it,” said Betty to me.

Thereupon she withdrew within the curtains saying, ‘I want to show you my face. Stay where you are.”

In the meanwhile, the sitter by the sideboard had picked up the torch, and the guide, extending his hand from the left edge of the curtain, said ‘‘Give me the torch,’’ and took it from the hand of the sitter.

When Betty and the guide were inside the ‘cabinet’, the guide said to her, “Do you mind if I do something to you? I’m going to turn on this light. Don’t be afraid. It won’t burn you. You’ll he quite safe.”

The voice of Betty then replied, eagerly and emotionally, ‘You can do anything you like. I don’t mind what you do so long as Roy sees my face.”

The light of the torch then appeared behind the curtains and Betty, emerging from the centre with the torch in her left hand, shone it for about fifteen seconds full on and close up to her face. It was a new and powerful torch and her face was brilliantly illuminated. I was standing up within a few inches of Betty’s form, and I peered closely into her face which was on a level with my own. My critical faculties dominated my emotion as I took in every detail of the features; yet it was not till the following day that the full wonder and joy of this experience came over me.

The white muslin-like ectoplasm covered her head, extending well down the forehead and just clear of the eyes which were closed against the glare of the torch. It was draped round her face, over her ears, and round her neck just under the chin. Her complexion was clear and smooth like a young girl’s, the cheeks pink-tinted as if well made-up and the lips red. Her nose and mouth were exactly the same as her late earthly ones and totally unlike the medium’s. Her lips were closed and she had a half-smile and a characteristic expression. Her head was held slightly back and the exposed chin was clean cut, not double like the medium’s; to me it seemed to be rather too square, a point that will be cleared up below. The guide from behind the curtain drew special attention to this point, asking the sitters to “note the squareness of the chin”, so different from that of the medium, thus emphasizing what at first I thought to be a fault in the materialization but which, in reality, was a fault of my own memory. With the reservation of the moulding of the chin, I declared at the close of the séance my recognition of Betty’s face.

Having shown me her face, Betty lowered the torch and withdrew within the curtains, at the same time raising her right arm and extending the fingers of her right hand.

“Look! Do you see this?” she exclaimed.

For a few seconds the slim arm and hand, so utterly unlike Mrs ‘D’s’ and exactly like Betty’s, remained outside the curtains and were clearly visible to the whole circle as they stood out in perfect silhouette against the black background. She then vanished downwards in full view of us all, sinking apparently through the floor, and the torch went out and was heard to fall with a crash on the ground.

When I got back to Aberdeen, still slightly dissatisfied in my meticulous mind with the single item of the moulding of the chin, I consulted a photograph album and saw from numerous photos of Betty that her chin was square rather than oval, and that the materialized chin was thus quite true to type. I selected one large Polyphoto in which her lips were similarly closed, the same half-smile appeared, and the expression exactly tallied with that seen at the séance. I then draped a white handkerchief round the face to represent the ectoplasm and put my finger-tips on the eyes to give the effect of their being closed; thereupon I saw the identical counterpart of the materialized face, and so full satisfaction came at last.

In order to realize what a disguise these ectoplasmic wrappings can be, I suggest that the reader carries out the following little experiment. Ask someone with ordinary features whom you know very well to reproduce with a white cloth or towel the effects described above, and then in a dark room to shine a torch for fifteen seconds on his or her face with the eyes shut. Then follow up with a test like mine on a photograph of your friend. The results will speak for themselves.

As regards the other materialized forms that appeared at these two séances, they varied in size from the gigantic guide to a little child of about two years old, the identified daughter of my hostess, who showed her tiny hands in all their perfection of form and sang a nursery song in a baby voice. Forms great and small, young and old, male and female, showed their varied and appropriate physical features and personal characteristics, and also satisfied their friends in the circle of their identities through their conversations.

In the séance just described, most of the visitors, perhaps taking their cue from Betty, made a point of displaying their widely differing hands. In every case and in all respects the materialized individuals were perfectly natural. All the voices sounded characteristic and came out of the individual’s own mouths as evidenced by their movements about the room. They walked in the usual way, laughed and chatted like the ordinary people they were; there was nothing in the least eerie about them, and I felt no touch of nervousness nor even strangeness whatsoever. The complete normality of the whole proceedings was, to me, one of its most marked features – it was just a gathering of friends in which the draperies worn by the visitors was the only incongruity. As regards the latter, in rare cases of materialization where conditions are ideal, all the ectoplasm is used up in the figure and its hair and replicas of ordinary earthly clothes are worn, and thus recognition is greatly facilitated (see There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat).

The love that prompted Betty’s disregard of the possible painful effects of the bright light on the ectoplasm will always stand out in my mind; for there was real danger of pain, since materialized people while in their temporary physical bodies can feel pain and experience all their former earthly reactions to physical effects and the anticipation thereof.

Speech combined with materialization is very rarely possible, since the ‘power’ is generally used up in the forming of the figure; that is why materialized people can say so little, and the more they talk the shorter the time their forms can last.

I have given you all the facts in all their detailed truthfulness. I can see no possible loophole for faking in the proceedings described, for this to my mind would entail a performance far more marvellous than true materialization itself. The individual who, after experiences such as these and those that follow, still declares that survival is unproved, will never be convinced this side of death, and it is futile to argue with him.
About this time I received another letter in response to my insertion in the Psychic News. It was from a Mr Shipman in a town in Yorkshire, who said that they had full materializations in their own home circle which consisted of relatives and close friends of whom one was the medium and a non-professional; that there was thus no question of fees or any expenses whatsoever and that I would be welcome to attend one of their séances. As I had decided to go to London for the early part of October, 1 replied accepting their very kind invitation, and arranged to break the return journey and to visit them on 9th October.

I had a private sitting with Mr Flint, the direct voice medium, on 5th October. Conditions were not very good and Betty’s voice was an intermittent barely audible whisper. She introduced, unprompted, a reference to her materialization, and I then produced from my pocket the wedding-ring with the pearl and held it up in the pitch dark, asking her if she saw what I had in my hand. She replied that she couldn’t quite distinguish it. I then asked her for some details about her materialization, and the following conversation ensued:

BETTY: You saw me in the light.

SELF: Yes, but what light?

BETTY: A bright light.

SELF: Yes, but what sort of light?

BETTY: A torch. I held it in my hand and showed you my face.

SELF: Quite correct, and you did something else that concerns something I am holding in my hand. What is it?

BETTY: It’s something I used to wear. I was wearing it at my death. I asked you to wear it.

SELF: Quite right, except that you didn’t ask me to wear this one, Betty, because I couldn’t. Can you tell me what it is? Try and remember because it is an outstanding item and you couldn’t have forgotten it.

BETTY: It’s a ring.

SELF: Good, but with what special significance?

BETTY: It’s my wedding-ring. I put it on your finger.

SELF: Very good, Betty. I’ve got it at last. Why is your memory so bad?

BETTY: It’s not my memory, but these questions start the medium guessing and so it makes my mind all confused.

I should mention that the medium was not in trance and so was listening. The conversation included other matters not connected with the materialization that were quite unknown to the medium and were volunteered spontaneously. She discussed the photographs published in this book and approved strongly of their inclusion, adding quite correctly, that I had hesitated about it. She also described them both accurately, showing a knowledge that mine was taken in uniform.

On the afternoon of 9th October I was met at the station by Mr Shipman. He took me in his car to his home where I found that a bedroom had been placed at my disposal, and I was entertained freely and most hospitably for the weekend.

They knew nothing whatever about me and had never heard of me (and vice-versa) until after my letter had appeared in the paper. The house was of the same general type as the one at Buckie, my host and his friends likewise business and professional people of the same outlook and social background. The circle whom I met that evening consisted of Mr and Mrs Shipman, the parents of Mrs Shipman, Mrs Harrison the medium, who is an intimate friend of the Shipmans and a short and somewhat plump middle-aged lady bearing not the least resemblance to Betty, her son and daughter-in-law, and a well-known local doctor. I mention all these details to show how utterly preposterous and ridiculous would be any suggestion of fraud, even had it been possible to produce thereby the results described.

My letter in the Psychic News said that I wanted these experiences to include in a book, and thus that anyone who might give them to me would, in a way, probably be rendering a public service; and that is why they answered my plea, but they insisted, quite naturally, on my not disclosing their address to avoid being pestered by curiosity-mongers and others. For evidential reasons I revealed no details of my private life before the séance was over, and for the same reason they would have refused to have listened to them, since they were just as anxious as I for genuine evidence.

The room in which the séance was held is much the same as the one at Buckie except that there is only one door, that being in the same relative position to the ‘cabinet’ and sitters as the window is in the Buckie house, while the mantelpiece is alongside and on the right of the corner that contained the cabinet. The cabinet in this case consisted of a single black curtain which I helped to hang up myself across the corner of the room; it enclosed a space barely big enough to hold the medium on her chair. The light during the séance was a bright red electric light bulb in a bowl suspended from the centre of the ceiling. The room throughout the materializations was thus brightly illuminated and the forms and their faces clearly seen. The circle of chairs was arranged close up to and blocking the door, and thus a little farther from the cabinet than at Buckie. The door was locked and the séance then commenced

The first phase was ‘direct voice’ in the dark through a luminous-banded trumpet (better called megaphone) which darted about the room, sometimes high in the air, and often accompanying the singing like a conductor’s baton. The trumpet hovered in front of the sitter to be addressed, and the voices came through, all being quite loud but some difficult to understand while others were perfectly clear. The circle guide, speaking through the trumpet, then gave an excellent description of Betty, remarking on her height, slimness, and beauty; all being facts unknown to anyone present except myself. Betty then attempted to speak to me; after prolonged and seemingly painful effort and a few exclamations to the effect that she couldn’t do it, she managed to say, “I am your Betty”.

During this phase, large pink carnations were apported into the room, one being dropped on each sitter’s lap including mine. They were quite fresh and moist as if with dew. There were no flowers of this type previously in the room, or, so my host told me, anywhere else in the house. The medium all the while had been sitting with the rest of us in the circle and was not in trance.

At the close of this phase, which seemed to me to last about a quarter of an hour, the red light was switched on, the medium took her seat behind the curtain, and the materializations commenced, of which there were about half a dozen in all.

I was introduced to each one of them in turn, all being deceased friends and close relatives of the sitters and thus thoroughly well known to them. I rose from my chair, walked up to them and shook them by the hand, and we made conventional remarks to each other just exactly as everyone does when first meeting a stranger. They were swathed in white muslin-like draperies and cowls that were the exact replicas of those worn by the forms in the Buckie séance. They were solid, natural and, except for their apparel, exactly like ordinary living people. In fact, had everyone been dressed similarly, it would have been quite impossible to distinguish these materialized forms from the rest of the company. Their hands felt perfectly natural and life-like in every respect and their handgrips were very firm. They smiled, laughed, and chatted to me and the others; all their features, complexions, and expressions being perfectly clear in that ample light.

I repeat (and surely I cannot be more explicit) they were exactly like you or me in muslin draperies, and they behaved as we would behave if we dropped in amongst a circle of friends and relations plus one stranger for a few minutes’ visit, and they were welcomed accordingly and just as naturally and unemotionally as we would be. There were mutual cheery good-byes as they departed, sinking apparently through the floor in precisely the same manner as the forms at Buckie.

My introduction to the first of them was “Come and meet Aunt Gladys” (the sister of the medium), and she was most charming and vivacious as she offered me her hand and smiled and chatted to me. Then came ‘Grannie’, and as I was presented to her the doctor said to me “Feel her pulse”. The old lady chuckled, extended her arm, made some humorous remark about ‘mucking her about’ or something to that effect, and I pressed my fingers into her wrist. All the sinews were there and the wrist felt and looked absolutely natural; the beat of the pulse was strong and regular.

“Now feel her feet,” said the doctor; and I bent down and felt the foot that the laughing old lady extended from her long draperies. It felt rather spongy or woolly and was apparently about to dissolve, for just after that the old lady bade us farewell and vanished.

Then came a man with a twisted face drawn down rather grotesquely on the right side, as a consequence of which he could only mumble incoherently. I was introduced to him by name, and as I shook his hand my host explained, “He always comes like this. He died of a stroke”.

I cannot remember the next two or three visitors very clearly, but what I have said of the others applies equally to them; and by then the slight feeling of oddity at this amazing experience had left me, for it was all so absolutely natural. They all differed drastically in face, figure, voice, and mannerism, and in every case their eyes were open; while, of course, the movements of their features as they laughed and talked by itself disposes of the suggestion of a set of masks, should the most unreasonable of sceptics have such an idea in mind, and should he also have such a strange opinion of human nature as to imagine that anyone would lavish free hospitality on a stranger for the sole satisfaction of tricking him.

The guide then announced the coming of Betty and asked us to sing one of her favourite songs. We sang “I’ll Walk Beside You”, in the middle of which a tall slim figure emerged from the curtain and stood silently in view.

I rose from my chair and walked up to the figure, taking the extended hand in mine. I examined the hand, and it was just like Betty’s and quite unlike the medium’s. I stared into the face, and recognized my wife. We spoke to each other, though what we said I cannot remember, for I was deeply stirred and so was she and her voice was incoherent with emotion.

“Can he kiss you?” someone asked, and Betty murmured, “Yes”. I then kissed her on the lips which were warm, soft, and natural.
Thereupon she bent her head and commenced to weep, and in a moment or two she sank. I watched her form right down to the level of the floor at my feet where it dissolved, the last wisp of it being drawn within the cabinet.

After I had resumed my seat, there was a pause, perhaps to allow me to recover some of my lost composure; and then the circle guide announced another visitor for me, giving the name “John Fletcher”, and saying that he was a clergyman who had been helping to inspire my book. A tall black-bearded figure then appeared, and when I reached him he gave my hand a very powerful hearty grip, expressed his delight at this meeting between us and my realization at last of his own reality, discussed the book with me, declared that the work was now complete, bade me a cordial farewell, and vanished in the usual manner.

If I once doubted the existence of guides, how can I do so now?

I have told my tale baldly, without any dramatizing or sentimental frills; it must surely be a pathetically warped mind which cannot supply such omissions from its own imagination.










Hannen Swaffer’s Home Circle

Hannen Swaffer’s Home Circle


A.W. Austen

My first contact with Hannen Swaffer’s home circle was in 1932, when I attended as a visitor on the same night that Frank Decker, the American physical medium, was invited to attend.

That was a big night for me, because White Shadow asked me to join the circle, and for all of us, because it was Decker’s visit that paved the way to our own development of the direct voice.

Some psychic gifts seem, to some extent, “infectious”. There must, of course, be the psychic power latent, but sometimes a fillip is given to its development by contact with a medium possessing the same gift.

Dennis Bradley “caught” the direct voice from Valiantine;  we “caught” it from Decker.

We had both the direct voice and materialization phenomena that night, Decker’s mediumship, of course, being responsible.

We were sitting quietly in the darkness when suddenly Decker’s guide, White Eagle, gave his “war cry”.

It was so loud and sudden we all nearly jumped out of our skins and the wires of the piano vibrated.

Later, Patsy, another of Decker’s guides, shouted out, “Good night.”

I felt a materialized hand laid upon mine and, at the same time, Decker said he saw clairvoyantly the word “Test”. He wondered what it meant.

White Shadow explained that White Eagle intended the materialized hand to be a test for “the man who writes for the paper”.

He could not speak, as he was not controlling the medium, so he had caused the word to be seen clairvoyantly.

At this sitting, Decker told us that we had latent the power for developing direct voice mediumship.

We asked White Shadow about it and he agreed and encouraged us to try to develop it.

With his permission, we started sitting with trumpets on the floor in the centre of the circle. Within eight months, we heard the direct voice independently of the trumpet.

Then, six weeks after Decker visited us again, the trumpet was used and longer talks in the direct voice were possible.

When I joined the circle, we had two good trance mediums, used by White Shadow and Silver Birch. Gradually, as the physical phenomena developed, Silver Birch took the place of White Shadow as the teacher, while the other medium was used more and more for direct voice.

Both spirits, though they claimed to be simple “savages” – later communications have convinced us that they are really highly evolved spirits, using the astral bodies of the Indians as “mediums” – were most eloquent.

Their language would put any earthly orator to shame. But, as White Shadow’s medium could be used better as the “focal point” of the direct voice, Silver Birch became the teacher.

It was explained to us that all the sitters and their guides had been carefully chosen by the spirit people.

For over two years they had been working for a perfect circle, one in which all the sitters and all the guides would blend in harmony.

At last they were satisfied they had got it. Each sitter brought some necessary power for the phenomena; each guide and spirit helper had some special task.

Gradually the sitters would develop their mediumistic gifts. Each had some special work in front of him.

The guides took us into their confidence, told us what they had to do and encouraged us to question them about their work.

Their descriptions were supplemented by those who could see the spirits at work.

We began to learn psychic laws and cooperation reached a fine point.

For weeks before we heard the direct voice we saw the trumpet moved in graceful motions in all directions.

The guides told us the voice was nearly ready.

“We have had rehearsals,” they said. “We can make the voices all right, but we cannot make them heard in your world.”

On that first night, we heard just a few words.

The guide spoke from the floor, from near the ceiling, from positions all over the circle, but mostly from the floor.

He said it was easier to speak from there. The voice did not come through the trumpet, though this was moved with perfect control.

Each sitter was gently touched by the trumpet, in the order we asked, and one of us felt a materialized hand.

The guides had never used the vocal cords of the medium, even in trance.

They said there was healing power in her voice and if they used her cords that property might be impaired.

They used vocal cords of their own construction. When Anny Ahlers, the actress, controlled the medium a few weeks after her death, she complained that it was very difficult because White Shadow would not let her use the medium’s vocal cords.

The materialization phenomena grew as the direct voice developed. The father of White Shadow’s medium was able to materialize his hands sufficiently to make, for evidence, the loud clicking noise peculiar to his habit during earth life, and strum on the wall in his accustomed manner.

The favourite dog of one of the sitters was sometimes materialized and we heard its tail wagging against the leg of a chair.

A pet cat scratched at the carpet and a bird which the medium had taken into shelter when she found it injured used to materialize and fly about the room.

Often ornaments were moved from a high mantelshelf and were found after the sitting in the middle of the circle.

We often felt materialized hands.

One of the guides must have been huge – he told us that on the earth he was over seven feet tall, which was corroborated by the medium’s clairvoyant vision – for I would sometimes feel both my ankles grasped in one large hand. We heard the heavy tread of the guides going about the room and one of them, for our amusement, repeated a dance he used on earth, chanting, while he did it, an Indian tune which was always played for that particular dance.

At one sitting I shook hands with my “dead” sister, who passed on at the age of seven about twelve years before. I had been told that she acted as my guide, and I had had various messages from her, but this was the first occasion on which she had spoken directly to me. She controlled White Shadow’s medium in trance and spoke so quietly we could hardly hear what she said. She asked me to stretch out my hand towards the medium and she grasped it with her own – one she had manufactured out of ectoplasm.

She told us that trance control was very difficult as White Shadow would not allow the vocal cords to be used. Usually, cords were made of ectoplasm for the spirits’ use, but in her case, she told us, a different system had been specially arranged. By some method of using compressed air – we would not have understood, she said, even if she were able to explain it exhaustively – she was able to make her voice heard without using any vocal cords.

At this sitting, one of the guides explained to us that the circle was formed as much for the “dead” as for the living. Many in the spirit world, it was said, are held back by their desire to communicate with their friends on this side of the veil.

Until they are able to do this, their advance is impeded. We were also told something of the difficulties experienced by the guides.

Before any new phenomenon was introduced, consideration had to be given to the mental reactions of the sitters, for on that depended, to a large extent, the psychic power that was available.

Frank Decker sat with us again in 1933 – about nine months after his first visit – and a few weeks later our own trumpet was used for the direct voice.

When Decker was there, one of the guides was speaking to us through a trance medium and we were surprised suddenly to hear Patsy, Decker’s newspaper-boy guide, announce himself in the direct voice.

Later on, Patsy sang two songs, White Eagle, another of Decker’s guides, spoke to us and White Shadow had a talk with his medium.

This was the first time she had heard White Shadow speak, as always before she was in trance when he manifested.

We saw wonderful control of the trumpet at this sitting, Patsy taking it all round the circle at lightning speed.

The whizzing trumpet came so near to us that we felt a distinct breeze as it went by, but no one was touched by it.

Then, a few weeks later, after Decker had gone back to America and we had no outside help, we experienced our first voice through our own trumpet.

It had taken three years of constant sittings to reach this stage and that voice gave us all a thrill.

Only one word was spoken.

The spirit merely announced her name – it was ‘Lottie’, Hannen Swaffer’s “dead” sister-in-law – but it showed that our own direct voice phenomena had started.

At the next sitting, a guide said two or three words to his medium.

The next time there were seven voices, and so it went on, gradually improving until we were able to hold long, sustained conversations directly with those living in another world, hearing their own voices speaking to us and giving us evidence of their continued existence.

At first the voices were weak, though each was distinctive, and the “personality” spread even to the movements of the trumpet.

In many cases, we were able to tell who was about to speak by the way in which the trumpet was moved.

One guide always traced in the air the letter “S”, the initial of his name.

Another always made peculiar movements which suggested the name by which he was known.

One spirit, the father of White Shadow’s medium, always tapped the trumpet with his fingers before speaking, recalling an earthly habit as a means of identification.

Each of the regular communicators had a special way of introducing himself before the voice was heard.

In the early stages of the direct-voice phenomena, White Shadow’s medium was in trance. The communicating spirits seemed to get additional power from her for, after leaving the floor, the trumpet would always move towards her before a voice was heard.

Later, she was sometimes able to hear the voices while she remained out of trance.

Within the first month of hearing our first voice, we had talks with four of the guides of the circle, the father and sister of White Shadow’s medium, the mother, father and brother of the medium’s husband, Hannen Swaffer’s sister- in-law, my sister, Hall Caine, Gilbert Parker and Lord Northcliffe, Swaffer’s former “Chief” in the newspaper world.
There once occurred at our circle an incident that should warn all home circles who are sitting for physical phenomena.

One of the sitters, a trusted member of the circle, interfered with the phenomena, with the result that the trumpet medium’s health was endangered and all physical phenomena were stopped for weeks.

Again and again, the sitters had been warned not to touch the trumpet, the materializations or any of the phenomena made tangible to them, without the permission of the guides.

For several weeks, the guides had been experimenting with materializations and with the movement of various objects in the room. Unknown to the rest of us, one of the sitters interfered with the phenomena.

The medium’s coat had been taken from her, and moved round the room by spirit agency.

We were surprised to hear the voice of White Shadow, the chief guide, speaking through his medium in trance, telling us that one of the sitters, whom he named, had snatched this coat, with serious effect on his medium.

He said it was “most lamentable.” His medium would wake up very cold, and must go straight to bed. He would bring a spirit healer to try to repair the damage she had sustained.

When White Shadow had gone, the medium came out of trance, sobbing and groaning, obviously in great pain. She spent a night in agony, and found the next morning bruises near her solar plexus.

As White Shadow said, “Each one of you is entrusted with the power of the Great Spirit. None of you can play with it.”

The following week, there were no physical phenomena and no voices were heard through the trumpet. The trumpet medium had not fully recovered from the effects of the previous sitting. She still had bruises as a result.

During the sitting, as well as for a few hours before, she felt pain. Two other members of the circle also complained of pain in the region of the solar plexus, which suggests that the power for the physical phenomena was drawn from other sitters as well as from this medium.

“You are not to worry about things that have passed,” a guide told us. “We must go on with that which we have to do. Remember the great purpose which calls us all together. Remember that we work for the Great Spirit.

All the power and all the love that we have must be used to build up this temple, from which there will radiate a light and a force that will enable many who are sad to find comfort. That work cannot be stopped, because it is part of the work of the Great Spirit.”

At this and following sittings, the remaining members of the circle – the one who interfered did not come any more – had to link hands. That meant I was unable to take notes. Once, when messages of some importance were given, White Shadow was asked whether I could break the link to make notes.

The guide would not allow that, but promised that when his medium was coming out of trance, and the red light was on, he would tell her what were the messages and she would repeat them. This he did, and I was able to take notes of the messages I wanted.

Then, about a month after the interference, we had the first signs of the return of the physical phenomena. There were no voices, but the trumpet left the floor several times. One of the sitters twice saw a psychic rod connecting the trumpet with the medium. There were, also, partial materializations. And an ornament was moved by a spirit hand.

An interesting incident occurred at this sitting, when we were sitting at the table, which we always used at the beginning of the séances. We were discussing a play, the name of which all the sitters had forgotten. The table suddenly started spelling out a word. It got as far as “Scricti . . . “, and then one of the circle remembered the name of the play that was being discussed. It was “Strictly Dishonourable”.

The trumpet and materialization phenomena returned in time and we went on from strength to strength until a crisis came in the history of the circle.

Owing to a personal disagreement among some sitters, one in no way connected with psychic matters and which is now forgotten and forgiven, the circle was reconstructed.

Four of the original members, including the medium of Silver Birch, remained, and two others joined us. The venue of the sittings was changed. At our first séance after the change a fairly heavy table was tilted after we had been sitting for about ten minutes.

With the reconstruction of the circle, and the consequent loss of our trumpet medium, we lost for a considerable period the majority of our physical phenomena and the work of the circle became to a large extent the reception of teaching from the spirit guide Silver Birch.

But there was an occasional slight outburst of physical mediumship, as for instance when Dr. Carl Wickland attended one of our sittings with Mrs Nellie Watts, his secretary.

“Your little lady is here,” Silver Birch said – Wickland’s wife had recently passed on – She is happy, but she is not as happy as she will be. She puts her arm on your shoulder and she puts her other arm on yours” – this was to Mrs Watts – “and she stands between you and says that even death cannot separate you.”

“I can feel her touching me,” said the doctor.

Sir Oliver Lodge and the Direct Voice

Sir Oliver Lodge and the Direct Voice

 H. Dennis Bradley writes here about Sir Oliver Lodge’s first experience of the Independent Direct Voice. The medium was George Valiantine.

Friday, February 27, 1925.

This sitting was held in my study at Dorincourt at about eight forty-five p.m. In accordance with the usual procedure, none of the sitters were introduced to the medium, Valiantine.

Mr Valiantine sat in my study, and those who were present walked straight in when the lights were turned off within a few seconds.

There were present Sir Oliver Lodge, Admiral Wilfred Henderson, Mr Lionel Corbett, Mrs Bovill, my wife, and myself.

It may be presumed that Valiantine would know Sir Oliver Lodge, since his portrait has appeared in so many papers, but he was not introduced, neither did Valiantine know any of the names of the other sitters.

Although my study is well warmed by central heating, during a séance the atmosphere often changes and the room becomes quite cold.

I therefore advised the sitters to take in wraps with them, and Sir Oliver Lodge took in and wore a fur coat.

The two luminous trumpets were placed in the centre of the room.

The conditions appeared to be very good.

During the time the first four records were played on the gramophone, many of the sitters were touched on knee, hands or head, by what may be presumed to be materialized hands.

The first voice to be heard was that of Dr Barnett, speaking in deep clear tones, close to the floor, in the centre of the circle. He gave us a greeting

A little later the loud tones of Kokum were heard speaking, whilst a gramophone record was being played.

During the evening, from high up in the room, there came the shrill voice of Bert Everett, who also spoke with us on two or three occasions later. Hawk Chief, on request, gave a penetrating whoop. Pat O’Brien, in his rich Irish brogue, carried on a conversation with Sir Oliver Lodge.

Bobby Worrall talked with us and with two or three of the sitters, and referred to watching Pat playing with a toy railway during the day in the nursery.

Feda came through, and spoke with several of the sitters, including Sir Oliver Lodge, and gave her peculiar little laugh.

All these spirits spoke independently, without using the trumpet, and their voices appeared from different parts of the room.

Of the personal spirits, quite early in the evening, we heard an independent voice close to Sir Oliver Lodge, calling: “Father!”

Almost immediately following this, the luminous trumpet was lifted, and taken very close to Sir Oliver, whowas touched on the head and on the body.

The voice then said: “It’s Pat, father!”

And then added, as if announcing himself to us all: “Pat Raymond Lodge.”

Sir Oliver Lodge told us that Raymond was often addressed by the family as “Pat”.

A conversation ensued between Sir Oliver and Raymond on family matters, which lasted for some little time. Names were volunteered by the spirit. Three times during the evening Raymond came through to Sir Oliver Lodge.

An independent voice came through, addressing me, giving full Christian and surnames. This was George, my sister’s young son.

He talked with me and with my wife, and said that he was going to make the endeavour to speak to my son Dennis at Cambridge on the following evening.

After this incident a voice came through, announcing itself as George Hunt, my wife’s father (full Christian and surnames being given), and talked with me and with my wife. He said that he was anxious to have the opportunity of speaking to his wife.

Two individual spirits came through and spoke to Mrs Bovill, and also to Mr Lionel Corbett. These spirits gave full Christian and surnames, and a short personal conversation ensued between them.

Suddenly, in the middle of the sitting, one of the luminous trumpets was lifted, and it was whirled round the circle at a lightning speed. It was then taken up to the ceiling – high up in the air – and the ceiling was rapped.

Towards the end of the sitting, Dr Barnett spoke to us again, and there then ensued between Dr Barnett and Sir Oliver Lodge a long discussion upon the ether.

Sir Oliver Lodge asked questions of Dr Barnett with regard to the make-up of the human body. The manner in which Dr Barnett replied to each of Sir Oliver’s questions was fluent and intelligent.

The discourse went on for over a quarter of an hour. The methods by which spirit communication in the actual voice could be obtained was discussed between them.

Sir Oliver asked whether, on their side, this was a question of the fourth dimension, and Dr. Barnett, giving, as he did several times throughout, his characteristic and stentorian laugh, replied saying that there were several dimensions beyond ours.

Dr Barnett dealt with the various forms of life of humans, animals, trees, plants, and so on, and stated that life survives in every form and that it is impossible to destroy life.

In answer to a question from Mr Lionel Corbett with regard to psychic upheavals, Dr Barnett again gave a very grave warning about the secret preparations of Japan and Germany for war in the air.

On several occasions Dr Barnett has referred to this, and although any forecast is problematic, yet he insists on the point that the next war will be comparatively soon and that it will be the most terrible that human civilization has had to endure.

I referred to the coming sittings we had arranged to give in Tavistock Square to the Society for Psychical Research, and said that I hoped we would get good results, although I was not certain that the conditions there would be entirely satisfactory.

Dr Barnett laughed and said: “We will do our best, but you should ask yourselves whether your intellects are not superior to theirs.”

This, of course, is quite true. As a matter of fact, I, personally, have learnt so much during the last two years of study, with my own mediumship, and with the enormous number of sittings I have had – not only with Valiantine, but with other mediums – that my experience in those two years amounts to more than the whole of the Society for Psychical Research put together for the forty odd years of their existence.

And it must also be borne in mind that present at this sitting was Sir Oliver Lodge, past President of the Society and the greatest scientist in Great Britain.

All those who were present were impressed by the phenomena that had occurred.

I had a chat afterwards with Sir Oliver Lodge, who presses his conviction of spirit communication far more freely and convincingly in conversation than he does in his public writings.

He referred to the communications he had received during recent years from the spirit of F. W. H. Myers.

Since the publication of his excellent book, “Raymond”, he has not, I believe, published any further work on psychical research; his genius has been devoted to the solution of material scientific problems.

In the compilation of “Raymond” Sir Oliver based his evidence of survival chiefly on the communications received through clairvoyant mediums – that is communications made through these mediums’ mouths and lips.

To appreciate the great advance that has been made recently it may be noticed that there is no record whatever in “Raymond” of evidence obtained by the direct and independent voice speaking from space, which is the rarest and most dramatic form of phenomenon yet discovered.

At the time that “Raymond” was published Sir Oliver had, apparently, no persona experience whatever of this form, and, although since that date he has heard the “independent voices”, I gathered from him that his knowledge of “voice” phenomena is extremely limited.

This is not to be wondered at since “voice mediums” are so rare that only a handful are known to the world.

In fact, only a year ago Sir Oliver told me that he did not think the chief research officers of the Society for Psychical Research had ever heard the independent voice.

Footnote by Zerdini: Dennis Bradley’s circle developed the direct voice after sitting with George Valiantine as did Hannen Swaffer’s Circle after sitting with Frank Decker.



The question as to the reality of so called “physical phenomena”, that is the movement of objects without any recognisable agent ranging to the materialisation of objects or even limbs and complete figures, popularly attributed to spirits of the dead, may at first glance appear absurd. However, the records of psychical research demonstrate the difficulty of either denying or establishing the range of phenomena in question. Even amongst researchers optimistic with regard to the very facts of physical mediumship, there is much discussion about the relevance to the question of survival of death.

Although it is by the rapping which occurred in their presence, that the Fox SISTERS are well-known, they also produced a wide range of physical phenomena.

LEAH, the eldest of the three, was married at the age of fourteen, but was deserted by her much older husband. She supported herself and her young daughter by giving piano lessons. Her mediumship was the last to blossom, the rappings being particularly strong in the presence of KATE and MAGGIE.

After the death of her second husband, CALVIN BROWN, LEAH sat every Wednesday night for a period of two years with a small group who wished to make every possible sort of test. The circle was composed of a small group who met at the house of Dr. JOHN F. GRAY in Lafayette Place, New York.

One of the circle, Major GEORGE WASHINGTON RAINS, was an educated chemist and electrician. He arranged a swing, which was fastened to iron or steel chains, sustained by tackles and pulleys attached to the ceiling. LEAH sat in the swing and over her head was a large piece of circular glass about two and a half feet in diameter, while beneath her feet (which were about four feet from the floor) was a circular glass disc about three feet in diameter. The whole arrangement was suspended by tackles.

Major RAINS brought his electrometer, and made every experiment that their ingenuity could invent or suggest. They suspended the table; each person in the room standing on horseshoe magnets provided for the occasion.

The physicians were provided with stethoscopes and placed them on different parts of her body. They all declared that the sounds had nothing whatever to do with the physical body and that the medium had no more power over the sounds than the investigators had.

That was the verdict whenever an honest attempt was made to discover the source of the rappings.

On Monday evening of each week she sat with Professor JAMES J. MAPES’ circle plus a few specially invited guests. The group had pledged themselves to sit for development, waiving all private communications. It was also agreed that “no fanatic in Spiritualism, nor any disinterested or selfish individual was to be admitted”.

Anyone suspected of being in conflict with the harmony of the group was to be dismissed and this occasionally had to be done. Many amazing demonstrations came to this circle principally physical phenomena, such as levitation of heavy furniture, and occasionally of the medium herself.

There were great numbers of phosphorescent lights, large and sufficient in number to light the room clearly. Very often the raps seemed to be produced by the action of a globe of yellow light, which struck against the floor, ceiling, or the table before them; the sounds coinciding with the movement.

Meanwhile, as KATE’s mediumistic powers developed, which led her to becoming possibly the greatest physical medium of her time, her nervousness and fear of the manifestations also increased and often resulted in an interruption of the séance. She could never overcome her own fears and never fully understood the phenomena which came through her.

As always the highest type of demonstrations were produced in small groups of completely harmonious individuals. LEAH found her greatest satisfaction in sitting with honest and sincere inquirers. LEAH’s mediumship had become highly individual and from time to time there was an unusual display of phenomena, some outstanding manifestations which was never repeated.

One experience which was never repeated, nor equaled, happened one Sunday evening at the close of a sultry day. LEAH was alone with her mother, MARGARET. Two physicians, Drs. WILSON and KIRBY, who were in their circle of close friends, called unexpectedly.

As a thunderstorm was gathering, Dr. WILSON instructed his driver to return for them after the storm had passed. As they settled themselves in the parlour the familiar five raps, calling for the alphabet, were strongly sounded on the wall. (Three raps signalled ‘Yes’, one rap ‘No’, two raps ‘Don‘t Know’ etc. and five raps meant ‘Use the alphabet’).

The four seated themselves round the centre table after turning out the lamp. The raps tapped out ‘Sing’. As they sang, the storm burst. The raps echoed the heavy roll of thunder. There was a great flash of lightning followed by a crash of thunder as the room became illuminated.

Suddenly Dr. WILSON jumped up from his chair, his voice raised excitedly, “Oh my God, there’s my mother!” quickly followed by “And there, Dr. Kirby, is your mother, close beside you!” Flash after flash showed the amazing assemblage of loved ones, radiant figures, glowing with life and love.

It had all happened in a few short moments. As the first violence of the storm subsided the beautiful sight became invisible. Try as they might to obtain the same conditions they were never able to repeat the phenomenon. For a few brief moments the veil between the spheres of life had been lifted for them.

After LEAH’S marriage to DANIEL UNDERHILL and her retirement from all public séance work the burden fell on KATE, now 23 years of age. MAGGIE was recovering after long months of mental illness following the death of her husband, ELISHA KANE.

KATE had a growing belief the best results came to small groups of truth seekers, when no payment was accepted, so she insisted upon giving freely of her amazing power whenever it was possible. She was always overworked, nervous and frequently exhausted after some unusual displays of phenomena.

She could not overcome her fears which, in her complete ignorance of psychic laws, were to be her downfall. With hindsight it is easy to say that the FOX SISTERS overdid their public and private work but it is almost impossible to understand the pressures they were under at the time. Their lives should serve as a warning of the danger of uncontrolled sitting day after day, after day.

Perhaps the sittings which were to prove the most astonishing were the private sittings with CHARLES LIVERMORE, a well-known New York banker, who had lost his wife in the early part of the year (1850). ESTELLE’S early death had been a heartbreaking blow to LIVERMORE as he had no belief in the afterlife.

After twelve sittings he received a brief personal message to the effect that ESTELLE was present and would try to become visible to him. Many more sittings passed until one humid night in mid-April, LIVERMORE and KATE sat alone.

The room had been carefully sealed, making it close and uncomfortable. They sat in complete quiet, for nearly half an hour when all of a sudden a terrifying uproar broke out.

Tremendous raps sounded upon the centre table as the heavy piece of furniture rose and fell. The doors were violently shaken; the windows which had been so carefully sealed were opened and shut; a cold wind swept the room and was gone.

The raps called for the alphabet, spelling out “Watch closely, I am here”.

They heard a sharp, crackling sound behind them and as they looked back saw an illumined substance growing in form and deepening in quality. It took on a globular form gradually assuming the form of a woman’s head veiled in a glowing gauze.

Once again there were sharp, crackling sounds as the light increased in brilliancy showing a slowly building form. The dark hair, the brown eyes, the smooth brow were ESTELLE’S. The light which floated round about her form made every object in the room plainly visible. Then, suddenly, her entire form could be seen while behind her, in a long mirror, was her reflection.

After that first successful attempt ESTELLE came again and again although there were times when seemingly nothing happened.

On one occasion, having been previously instructed to bring a blank card with him, LIVERMORE sat holding it in his left hand, his right hand pressed closely over KATE’S — who held hers clasped together on the arm of his chair. Almost immediately a brilliant light appeared, seemingly shaded from above, glowing with a silver radiance over a radius of several feet directly in front of them.

As LIVERMORE watched, the card in his hand was gently but firmly withdrawn. It disappeared as it left his grasp. He turned to the bright cone of light before him. A dark shadow which appeared to be a narrow curtain of black passed before him. It parted and there in the indescribable brilliance stood ESTELLE in full form — every feature perfect, as she looked directly into her husband’s eyes.

Again the shadow came between them, and at that instant the card was slipped into his hand. By the light which glowed above him he read the lines inscribed on it. They were words of love, written in French — a quotation of special meaning to ESTELLE and him.

As the shadow dissolved, ESTELLE stood before him, bathed in light, smiling down into his eyes. He forced himself to examine her closely noting, in particular, “the rose-flushed ivory of her skin, the sheen of her black hair so carefully arranged; the velvet softness of the white rose which adorned it.”

The materialisation came and went, appearing six or seven times before the séance ended.

LIVERMORE sat with KATE twice weekly throughout the summer, and each time ESTELLE came it was with greater power, sometimes leaning over him so that her soft hair dropped down against his face. Often she carried flowers of great beauty, her favourite violets and white roses. It seemed as if the spirit light, which revealed her full form, enclosed in white draperies, was held by an unseen hand.

One evening in late August, another form appeared beside ESTELLE — a sturdy figure in dark clothes, the features hardly distinguishable. The raps came calling for the alphabet. They spelled out the strange and totally unexpected statement, “It is I, Benjamin Franklin. I have made Estelle’s  appearance to you possible, my son.”

Taken aback at this manifestation, the very next morning, LIVERMORE consulted his friend, Dr. GRAY, who had introduced him to KATE. He confirmed that there had been messages from FRANKLIN before through both KATE and LEAH and was convinced of their genuineness. He asked to be allowed to attend a séance in the hope of seeing FRANKLIN materialise.

The tests went on, through the winter and into another year. Dr. GRAY and JACQUES GROUTE, ESTELLE’s brother, were present several times, and both witnessed materialisations of ESTELLE and FRANKLIN. GROUTE came as a confirmed sceptic, locking the doors and windows himself and thoroughly searching the room as well as the sitters.

He approached the figure of FRANKLIN as it appeared in full from; the hair behind FRANKLIN’s ears was grey and worn long, exactly as in his pictures. They could see his white cravat and his coat of some dark brown material, cut in an old style. GROUTE was given permission to touch the form. He examined the clothing with interest. LIVERMORE and Dr. GRAY had, on an evening several weeks earlier, been permitted to cut off a piece of FRANKLIN’S coat, and had examined it closely. It was of strong texture, seemingly a rough woolen material, but after a short time it had disintegrated in their hands and disappeared.

GROUTE, who had ridiculed the happening when told about their experiences, like so many others since when faced with the reality of the séance room, now humbly acknowledged the reality of the manifestations.
In one year LIVERMORE had kept careful and detailed records of over 170 sittings. Here was a man whose veracity and probity had never been questioned, so much so, that his words carried weight even among those who could not completely believe.

Another séance which must surely be unique in the history of Spiritualism took place in 1871 in the home of Dr. GEORGE TAYLOR and his wife, SARAH. They had lost two children in an epidemic, FRANKLIN, aged two, and their only daughter, LEILA, less than a year old. SARAH’S brother, OLIN, was also on the Other Side having been killed in an accident. Over the years, through KATE they received evidence of their children’s survival including portraits painted by spirit hands and apported into the séance room.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, again, claimed to be the motivating force behind the phenomena. He had promised that one day they would hear LEILA playing the harp which she had learnt in the spirit world.

One afternoon, almost as soon as they were seated, the raps spelled out, “We are all here. We have devoted all our power to this subject. B. F.”

As the last word was spelt a new sound echoed in the room — the resonance of a harp string, firmly touched.

SARAH, who had kept a meticulous record of all her séances takes up the story: “…Then we kept perfectly still, held both of Kate‘s hands and listened in rapture for about three-quarters of an hour to music performed in our room by an angel, on a harp brought from Paradise, from Heaven. The notes were clear, full, strong and penetrating. The music sweeter than anything I had ever heard. Ten pieces were played and one was long, and none were familiar.

“At an interval between the tunes, Dr. Franklin said, ‘I am proud of my pupil’.

“Then she struck the strings again, and again with full power played and played.

“…Then the harp was brought so near to me that when the first note was touched it hurt my head, and again she played stronger, sweeter, purer than before…

“The music from the harp was so loud and clear that the people in the next house must have heard it. The ladies on the floor above us went to their windows, opened them and listened, but did not know what the instrument was.”

As the music faded away the raps spelled out the closing message:

“We have all been here. Our efforts have been great to play upon the harp so that you could hear its heavenly strains. Leila is guarded by Dr. Franklin, and I assure you that we are more than pleased, for we are awed by our own power in thus being permitted to come.

“Few on earth have ever been so blessed, and oh, few there are who will ever be permitted to listen to those strains. Be thankful and happy. We are happy! Leila is perfectly wild with delight, and so is Frankie, and we feel awed with gratitude, Olin.”

On October 7th 1871, KATE left New York for London, accompanied by BLANCHE OGDEN, a relative of CHARLES LIVERMORE, who had financed the trip.

To finish this article, I cannot do better than to quote a letter LIVERMORE wrote to his friend BENJAMIN COLEMAN in London:

“Miss Fox, taken all in all, is no doubt the most wonderful living medium. Her character is irreproachable and sound. I have received so much through her powers of mediumship during the past ten years which is solacing, instructive, and astounding, that I feel greatly indebted to her and desire to have her taken good care of while absent from home and friends.

 “That you may the more thoroughly understand her idiosyncrasies, permit me to explain that she is of a sensitive nature of the highest order, and of child-like simplicity; she feels keenly the atmosphere of everyone with whom she is brought in contact, and to that degree that at times she becomes exceedingly nervous and apparently capricious.

 “For this reason, I have advised her not to sit in dark séances, that she may avoid the irritation arising from the suspicion of strangers, mere curiosity-mongers and lovers of the marvellous.

“The perfection of the manifestations through her depends upon her surroundings and in proportion as she is in rapport or sympathy with you, does she seem receptive of spiritual power.

 “The communications through her are very remarkable and have come to me frequently from my wife Estelle, in perfect, idiomatic French, and sometimes in Spanish and Italian, whilst she, herself is not acquainted with any of these languages. You will understand all this but these explanations may be necessary for others. As I have said, she will not give séances as a professional medium, but I hope she will do all the good she can in furtherance of the great truth in a quiet way while she remains in England.”

 ROBERT DALE OWEN also wrote: “I have known Kate Fox for years. She is one of the most simple-minded and strictly impulsive persons I have ever met; as incapable of framing or carrying on any deliberate scheme of imposition as a ten-year- old child is of administering a government.”


BUCKNER POND, MARIAM: The Unwilling Martyrs. Volume I. Psychic Book Club, London 1947.
TAYLOR, SARAH L. (ED.): The Fox-Taylor Record (1869-1892). W. G. Langworthy Taylor, Lincoln, Nebraska 1932.
AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Only the latter is one of those rare finds. SARAH TAYLOR kept a meticulous record of her sittings including copies of the automatic writing she received from her children in the Spirit World via the FOX SISTERS.






Psychic Adventures in New York (Spirit return of Confucius)

Could any Oriental scholar ever sanely dream of sitting at the feet of Confucius, listening to his words of wisdom, and hearing him chant archaic Chinese – a dead language of which only about twelve sounds are definitely known as pronounced 2,500 years ago, and with which only a handful of scholars in the world have acquaintance at all?

Yet this was precisely the adventure which befell Mr. Neville Whymant, a well-known scholar, in New York in October 1926.

Mr. Whymant, who is the master of more than thirty languages, was invited by judge and Mrs. William Cannon to meet, on October 15th, 1926, in their apartment “some people interested in discussing psychical research” and kindly to help interpreting Oriental languages.

Not until they arrived did Mr. Whymant and his wife know that they had accepted an invitation to a spiritualist séance.

They had had no similar experience before and were but little impressed with the personality of George Valiantine, the famous direct-voice medium. “His speech,” writes Mr Whymant in his Psychic Adventures in New York “was far from polished, he seemed to lack imagination … he made amusing blunders in speech … he was, in that company, a fish out of water.”

The room which they were invited to examine appeared to be fool-proof and fake-proof. There was no appearance or suspicion of trickery.

They sat in the dark, said the Lord’s Prayer, played gramophone records, until suddenly voices exploded in the air.

The first one, which proved of scholarly interest, “was roared at full lung force” in pure and clear Italian, and soon dropped into a Sicilian dialect of which Mr. Whymant knew nothing.

After some personal messages to the regular sitters, which made Mr. Whymant feel as an eavesdropper, there came a sound very difficult to describe. It was the sound of an old wheezy flute not too skilfully played.

“Those who have wandered through Chinese streets in the evening will readily recall the sound,” he writes.

“In a few seconds it had carried me back to sights and experiences in the old Celestial Kingdom. In that indefinable fashion known only to those who have sat for some hours on end in pitch darkness waiting for something to happen, I sensed the eager thrill that ran through all the people there gathered as they heard this sound and waited for what was to follow.

“There was a rustling of silks as women straightened themselves in their chairs. There was the sharp intake of breath around the circle, and I noticed at the same moment the heavy, languorous breathing of Valiantine, whose position, directly facing me, I kept in the forefront of my mind.

“The flute-like sound faded, then stopped.

“The next sound seemed to be a hollow repetition of, a Chinese name – K’ung-fu-tzu – the name by which Confucius was canonized.

“I was not quite sure that I had heard aright, but I did recognize the sound for some variety of Chinese speech and so I asked, in Chinese, for another opportunity of hearing what had been said before.

“This time, without any hesitation at all, came the name K’ung-fu-tzu.

“Now, I thought, was my opportunity. Chinese I had long regarded as my own special research area, and he would be a wise man, medium or other, who would attempt to trick me on such soil.

“If this tremulous voice were that of the old ethicist who had personally edited the Chinese Classics, then I had an abundance of questions to ask him.”

As the voice went on Mr. Whymant kept calling for repetitions.

“Then it burst upon me,” he says, “that I was listening to Chinese of a purity and delicacy not now spoken in any part of China … The style … was identical with that of the Chinese Classics, edited by Confucius 2,500 years ago.

“Only among the scholars of archaic Chinese could one now hear that accent and style, and then only when they intoned some passage from the ancient books.”

The language being as dead colloquially as Sanskrit or Latin, Whymant determined to test the matter to the full limit.

He asked for details of Confucius’ life and “style”; for particulars of his preoccupations on this earth, and set some posers of the type with which all students of Chinese have wrestled in their studies of the Confucian Canon.

“All my questions were answered at once, without any pose or fumbling; in fact, the answers came so swiftly upon the question that all too often I had to ask the voice to repeat its answer, as I had been unable to follow.

“The voice grew stronger with the passing of the moments, so that although the early part of the conversation was to some extent lost or doubtful, the succeeding phrases were quite clear so far as I was able to understand them.”

He thought of a supreme test. Several poems in the Shih King – Classic of Poetry – have baffled the commentators ever since Confucius himself edited the work and left it to posterity as a model anthology of early Chinese verse.

Both Western and Chinese classical scholars have long ago given up trying to understand them.

So, using the flowery language of Chinese honorifics, he asked the Master:

“This stupid one would know the correct reading of a verse in the Shih King. It has been hidden from understanding for long centuries, and men look upon it with eyes that are blind. The passage begins thus: Ts’ai ts’ai chuan erh

“I could certainly not have repeated another line of this poem for I did not know any one of the remaining fifteen lines; but there was no need or even opportunity, for the voice took up the poem at once and recited it to the end.

I was somewhat distracted by people in the circle whispering to each other, “He’s chanting,” or similar remarks, and could not therefore pay full attention to the voice. I had, however, a pad of paper and a pencil, and as well as I was able in the darkness I made notes of what the voice said and jotted down keys to the intonation used. It was necessary, however, to ask the voice to go through the whole thing again, so that I could make my notes as complete as possible.

It is perhaps little to be wondered at if I say that my mind was by this time in a state of turmoil. In declaiming the ode the voice had put a new construction on the verses and made the whole thing hang together as a normal poem. It was, I was told, a psychic poem, and it was well known that the Chinese recognized psychic literature as a thing apart from ordinary literary compositions. “

“‘Read in this way,’ the voice had said, ‘does not its meaning become plain?’

“Surprised as I was, I did not intend to let matters rest there.”

There is a difficult passage in the Lun Yu, or Analects of Confucius, which in the standard version of the book makes no sense at all. But Professor H. A. Giles, of Cambridge, gave it balanced sense by suggesting brilliant textual emendations. The voice had talked now for about ten minutes.

“Shall I ask of one passage in the Master’s own writing ?’ queried Mr. Whymant. “In Lun Yu, Hsia Pien, there is a passage which is wrongly written. Should it not read thus … ?

“But before I could get even the details of the passage in question,” writes Mr. Whymant, “the voice took up my sentence and carried it through to the end … You were going to ask me about the two characters which end the last two phrases; you are quite right. The copyists were in error. The character which is written se should be i, and the character which is written yen is an error for fou.’ Again the wind had been taken out of my sails.”

Whymant had assisted at about a dozen sittings. He heard altogether fourteen foreign languages spoken. They included Chinese, Hindi, Persian, Basque, Sanskrit, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Yiddish, German and modern Greek.

He could not find a satisfactory normal explanation.

“Even if the medium had been a first-class linguist, it was manifestly impossible for him to be speaking in Chinese and American English at one and the same time, and yet all the sitters had heard Valiantine carrying on a conversation with his neighbour while other voices – two and three at one time – were speaking foreign languages fluently …

“Voices seemed to come from the far corners of the room, out of the very wall against which the back of one’s chair was pressed, from the ceiling, and from the floor.”

The great Chinese Mystery did not end with Whymant’s departure from New York. In 1927 Valiantine was tested, for the third time, in London.

Countess Ahlefeldt-Laurvig brought an ancient Chinese shell to a sitting in the apartment of Lord Charles Hope.

At the top of the shell circular folds ended in a small hollow mouthpiece.

In China such a shell is used as a horn and is blown on occasions as a “call”.

The sitters tried it, but could produce no sound whatever. Yet at one period, during the sitting, from high up in the room, the shell horn was blown, and the peculiar notes were rendered in the correct Chinese fashion.

Moreover, on March 2nd, 1927, in Lord Charles Hope’s apartment in London, by special arrangement with the Columbia Gramophone Company, the voice of Confucius was recorded. Its curious flute-like tones rose and fell and sometimes broke into a peculiar sing-song tone.

Mr. Whymant, on being invited to hear the record, could only interpret a few sentences because the voice was faint and became blurred in the recording. But he recognized a number of the peculiar intonations. He could gather the meaning of the recorded speech by the tonal values.

The voice was apparently identical with the one he heard in New York.

I do not envy the task of those who would explain this amazing tale by fraud.

Note by Zerdini:

My friend, Eileen E. McAlpine, told me she knew Neville Whymant well in the last years of his life and “I can say with certainty that he never felt any reason to revise his original account of the event.”

“A few days before his passing to spirit, he told me that he had a brief black-out when saw two old friends of his, holding out their hands to receive him. They were Mr F.T. Cheng, the pre-Mao ambassador to the UK and Lionel Giles – keeper of oriental books at the British Museum. They were great friends of his in life.”

“I subsequently had a sitting with F. Jordan Gill, and Neville told me, through him, that they had indeed been the first friends who greeted him after he died.”

Jordan Gill was a medium who I first met at the SAGB in London in the late sixties and I can confirm that he was indeed a first class medium.




This chapter presents Silver Birch in a different light. The reader is acquainted with this guide as a teacher, as a bringer of comfort and encouragement and as a merciless critic of man-made dogma. Now read of his gentleness and simplicity with children. This chapter, written by Paul Miller, is reprinted from “Psychic News”.

TWO little children sat on the knees of Silver Birch’s medium and talked with the spirit as though he were a lifelong friend. They agreed to ignore the adults in the circle, and the questions and answers from the beloved guide made for the children a picture of the spirit world of great beauty.

These children, Ruth, a girl of eight, and Paul, a boy of six, had prepared a list of questions that the guide had forecast would be harder to answer than most of the problems put to hint by grown-ups. It was the first time they had seen anyone being entranced, but it had been explained to them that the medium would go to sleep and that the guide would take possession of his body.

As the medium was overshadowed their bright eyes were fixed on his face as though they could see a change coming over it. Later, when they asked him how he looked, Silver Birch asked them to stand back a little and watch while he transfigured the medium’s face. The change in appearance was striking.

“You are different front the medium!” said the little boy. “You are beautiful!” said his sister, who declared almost as soon as the guide began with his blessing: “What a beautiful voice you have!” To her that was most important for she forms estimates of character by voices.

What was the purpose of the sitting? It was at the request of the guide that it was held, for he has repeatedly told the parents of the children that the girl is very psychic and has explained that she must be watched carefully for her powers would soon begin to manifest. He has even forecast the first spirit she will see.

“Oh, Great White Spirit,” said the guide in his invocation, “may we be able to approach Thee with the simplicity of the child’s heart and mind and learn those great truths that are revealed only to those who have the perfect trust of children in a loving and all-wise Parent. May we learn to approach Thee without fear, knowing that Thou art perfect wisdom and love and kindness.”

When the guide had asked the little ones to sit, one on each knee, with his head nestling against theirs, he said to them: “I have brought some real fairies for you to play with, and I am going to leave them with you so that they will watch over your beds all through the night and keep you company.

“I am going to try to make you see them, for they are real fairies, not out of books, but out of the fairy kingdom. We will not talk to the big children tonight; we will pretend they are not there. You know, I often come to play with you and bring my own little wigwam.

“What is a wigwam?” asked Paul.

“You call it a tent,” the guide replied.

“When I lived on earth as an Indian I lived in a wigwam.”

“You have such a beautiful voice, and I can hear you so easily,’’ said Ruth.

“This is my voice and not the voice of my medium. I make it specially.”

“How do you talk in spirit land?” was her next question.

“We don’t speak. We send out our thoughts out to each other on little wings, and they fly quickly through space carried by the stars. And then we receive other thoughts in reply, so that we do not have to find words. When we have a beautiful picture in our minds we can send it at once. We have so many beautiful things here; many more than you have—trees and flowers and birds and streams. Whenever we want a beautiful picture we can make it immediately for ourselves. We can make everything we need.”

Then the girl asked whether the guide would help a neighbour who had passed that week and who had been aided by Silver Birch and his band during an illness that invariably ends in great pain. She asked that the two children left behind should be cared for by the Great Spirit. The guide said he had already helped and would look after them.

‘‘Will he be a great spirit like you?’’ asked Paul.

“Yes, but it will take some time – a few hundred years.”

‘‘That is a long time,’’ was Ruth’s comment.

“Does it seem a long time to you?  No, you get used to it, and then even a long time seems like a little time,’’ the spirit replied.

“How long is it since you were born?” was her next question.

“I have been in the spirit world neatly 3,000 years – and I am still very young.”

“I don’t call that very young,” she said, and added, “When we die will we become spirits?”

‘‘You are little spirits growing up to become big spirits.’’

“But we are not the same as you,” Paul said.

“We are all children of the Great Spirit you call God, and as all the little parts of the Great Spirit are linked together we are one family of the spirit.”

“God must be very big,’’ was the boy’s next comment.

“He is as big as the whole wide world. And there is much that you cannot see.”

“But did God make the Great Spirit?” was his next question.

He did not make it, for God is the Great Spirit Who is always there.”

“Does He ever come to earth?” Ruth inquired.

“Yes, He comes to earth every time a baby is born, for then He puts a part of Himself into it.”

When the children said that they were glad they believed in spirits, the guide replied that they were very lucky children. “You are fortunate,” he said, “because you know you are surrounded by the light and love from those who have passed from your world to mine. They are protecting you always.”

“Is your world bigger than ours?” was Ruth’s next question.

“Yes. It is much, much bigger and it contains many more beautiful things than you have in your world – such beautiful colours, such wonderful music, such great big trees, and flowers and birds and animals.”

“Do you have any animals?” Paul asked.

“We have animals, but they are not wild.”

The boy then said: “1 don’t expect you kill them as you used to when you were on earth.”

“We don’t kill anything at all.”

“Do you get hungry?” he asked.

“No, never, because we are surrounded always by life, and when we get a little tired, we just breathe in more life. When you go up to your little bed at night you stand up and breathe in air, and when you do that you also breathe in life.”

Then the children talked about not being able to remember their life in the spirit world, and they added that it seemed like their first life on earth because they could not remember any other existence.

Ruth next asked: “How many lives do we have?”

“You have as many lives as a cat. You know that in your world a cat is said to have nine lives.”

“And then does it change into something else?” was the boy’s eager query.

“No, a cat is always a cat, but it becomes a more beautiful cat, just as little children coming from your world into mine grow more beautiful the longer they are here. We have no ugliness, no cruelty, no darkness, no fear in our world, which is always a land of sunshine.”

This puzzled Paul. “No rain! No rain!” he said. “But if we don’t have rain in our world we die.”

“But your world is very small. It is only the beginning of life. There are lots of other worlds. There are other worlds in the stars and in the planets where other children live.”

Ruth then surprised her hearers with these words: “In Psychic News, it says ‘All Worlds Are One’” (a reference to a weekly heading of comments in Psychic News)

“That is true, but you must know that there are millions and millions of worlds, and there are millions and millions of children, and they are all children of the Great Spirit. They are all one in the Great Spirit, and He is in all.”

“Are you tired of speaking?” she then asked.

“No, no. I can speak for a long time yet.”

“When shall I see with my spirit eyes, if I have them?” was her next question.

“You have spirit eyes and ears, hands and fingers, and legs with spirit toes, for you have another body—that is the body of the spirit. You can see with your spirit eyes now, but you do not remember what you see while you are in the little physical body you have now. But gradually you will be able to catch what you have seen and hold it.”

“Will my spirit eyes be ever so big?” she asked.

“It does not matter, for the eyes of the spirit can see ever so far.”

“Can they see right over the world?” Paul inquired.

“They are very like a telescope which can bring distant things into the range of your vision.”

Like a bolt from the blue came the boy’s next question:  “Is there going to be another war?”

“There is always a little war going on, but you don’t have to worry about it. You have to think of peace and send the thought from your little mind out into the great world stream of peace and swell its note so that all men in their hearts will desire peace and that will help them to push war away.”


What Grandad Did In The Dark

What Grandad Did In The Dark

by Chris Eldon Lee, BBC Producer

Like many of the more successful BBC Radio 4 programmes, this one about the life work of the pioneering Spiritualist, Noah Zerdin, broadcast in January 2002, happened completely by chance.(listen to the programme here What Grandad did in the Dark)

IN EARLY 1999 I was sent by BBC Radio Shropshire to interview Ruth for the Millennium Oral History Project “The Century Speaks”.

Ruth is a circle-dancing massage therapist, in her mid fifties and of the Jewish faith. There aren’t many like her in Shropshire, so it was thought she would be an interestingly different contributor to the series.

Before the interview began I was obliged to ask census-like questions such as father’s name. Now I’d never heard of Noah Zerdin (who’d died in 1972) but I did have a residual interest in Spiritualism and was intrigued to hear Ruth describe how her father before the war had attempted to prove beyond reasonable doubt that life-after-death really did exist.

Ruth related the story of how Noah and his first wide Bertha had agreed that whoever died first should try to contact the surviving spouse. Little did they realise that Bertha would die in a fire at Noah’s Oxford Street furrier’s business shortly afterwards . . . in the spring of 1927.

Seemingly, Bertha eventually contacted Noah via a private home circle . . .  and Noah decided to share this ‘proof’ with as many people as possible. So in the early 30s he conducted what he called “The Great Experiments” . . .  a series of annual mass public direct voice séances in major London Halls.

Ruth paused in her story and I must have said something along the lines of “what a pity the voices heard at the séances weren’t recorded.” “Oh, but they were,” said Ruth.

“Then,” I blundered on, “what a pity the recordings don’t still exist”. “Oh, but they do,” came the reply. “At least, there’s a batch of 78 rpm acetate records in my older brother’s garage. But we’ve never listened to them.”

Ruth’s half-brother is Dan Zerdin, born to Noah and Bertha shortly before she died. Noah later married Bertha’s younger sister and they produced Ruth.

We discovered that the records really did exist in Dan’s South London garage, together with boxes of Noah’s written records. They were hidden behind a pile of his mother’s piano music and stored side by side without the protection of record sleeves in a pre-war paper carrier bag.

But what was on them and would they still play?

We engaged the expert assistance of a sound archive rescue specialist, Phil Farlow, who gingerly examined the flaking discs and decided how best to extract the audio signal from their grooves without destroying them in the process.

The material that emerged during that morning session in Phil’s studio was quite amazing. Noah had not only taken the trouble to record his own heavy Russian voice describing how the public demonstration at The Aeolian Hall in 1934 had been conducted and recorded, he’d also interviewed the direct voice medium Mrs Mollie Perriman who described the sensations she experienced whilst the apparently discarnate voices spoke. “It was like having a tooth drawn out of your larynx,” she said.

Then came what appeared to be edited highlights of a number of messages purporting to be relayed directly by the dead to the living, sitting in the hall.

Many of the voices were remarkably clear and even the kerfuffle of the audience reaction could be heard.

The communications were of two types. Personal messages from loved one to loved one; and short lectures on spiritual philosophy, Christianity, and survival beyond physical death.

There were other recordings of what seemed to be of home circle séances, most arresting of which was a voice calling out “Noah, this is Bertha. I love you Noah. I can hear you.” It wasn’t clear if this was the ‘first’ contact that led to the experiments, or a later incidence.

Dan Zerdin was clearly very excited by what he heard, especially when it became clear he was hearing his late parents. I wondered how the sound engineer Phil was taking it all.

But he revealed himself to have been a Spiritualist all along and was impressed by the surprisingly high technical quality of the recordings and the content of the messages. He managed to rescue about an hour’s worth of audio.

The job of a BBC producer is to remain sceptical at all times. I also had to convince Radio 4 that there was a potentially remarkable programme here that could tell the tale of Noah’s quest without passing judgement. So we submitted the idea and waited.

The plan was that it would be Noah’s three granddaughters who made the programme. Judith, Naomi and Tanya —   all in their early twenties —   never knew their grandfather. They’d obviously picked up some vague sense of his spiritual interests but had only a scant knowledge of his life-story.

Having aroused their interest, we now had to keep them in the dark until Radio 4 commissioned the programme, agreed a budget, and work could begin. This they did in January 2001.

At this point Dan got rather cold feet for a short while. What would the publicity do to his private family life? Would Noah want such attention drawn to him?

In response, the granddaughters logged onto the Internet. Why I hadn’t thought of this before can only be put down to my age. “Noah + Zerdin” was typed in . . .  and up came the website for The Noah’s Ark Society.

As they scrolled their way past the society’s fiery logo, they were amazed. Grandad had apparently already been in touch from the “other side” and was carrying on his work after his own death. He clearly had no qualms, so neither should the living Zerdins.

Whilst the rescued 78rpm audio was further processed for broadcast, George Cranley of The Noah’s Ark Society was sent an e-mail.

Yes, he had personally heard a voice claiming to be Noah speak at a circle just a handful of years ago. And yes, it might be possible to arrange for the granddaughters to attempt to speak to their Grandad –  and for us to record the session.

After much consulting of many diaries, a sitting was planned with the direct voice medium Cohn Fry in his séance room at Hayward’s Heath in Sussex. As we made the booking we had no idea how significant that date would be. September 11th, 2001.

I began my drive down the motorway from Shropshire to Sussex just as the first plane hit the World Trade Centre. I drove in a daze as my BBC Radio colleagues boldly tried to convey the horror of that afternoon.

I also wondered how that night’s séance would go. Would we all feel too distracted to sit? Would the “other side” be too busy with the aftermath to put in an appearance?

Colin Fry’s welcome restored a sense of normality. With ponytail and earring he wasn’t quite what I’d expected of a medium, but he had a no-nonsense, un-spooky approach to the job in hand, I placed my equipment as best I could. How do you point a microphone at a voice that’s supposed to come out of thin air?

As we sat down, the circle was made up of Colin Fry, George Cranley, 5 members of the Zerdin family, myself and a second independent radio producer.

Three voices were heard in succession. The first – apparently a child –    announced himself as ‘Charlie’.

He chatted inconsequentially for about 30 minutes and then gave way to a much older voice, which Ruth recognised as that of Leslie Flint, a medium she had sat with the day after her wedding.

‘Leslie’ said he recognised the presence of members of the family of the man who was so influential in his own life. Ruth then asked if he remembered the year of her wedding. The voice said 1971. It was in fact 1972. ‘Leslie’ described how Noah’s work “had enabled spirit to touch the lives of thousands of people” and how he was “nobody’s fool”.

Then, desperately faintly, we heard another voice say “Daniel. Hello my boy. My name is Noah Zerdin. Why haven’t you sorted these things out before? What is contained in my boxes is so badly needed by your side now. Now you have opened the box it is like opening Pandora’s Box”.

The voice went on to explain that the Great Experiments were not his own idea. He was instructed to conduct them through Mollie Perriman’s mediumship.

In all ‘Noah’ spoke faintly for about 40 minutes. Afterwards the family seemed to have mixed feelings. A great many of the things said rang very true, but specific questions aimed at soliciting firm evidence were dodged by the voice – which didn’t sound at all Russian.

But ‘Noah’ did say he must “practise this communication” and hoped they might “reconvene”. In the most touching moment he told his granddaughters “how lovely you look” and “perhaps you might be brave enough to say ‘hello grandpapa’.”

As we finally put the programme together, the girls were suitably self- searching and sceptical.

Judith, a budding journalist, remained not entirely convinced.

Naomi felt she was surer now of the afterlife than she had been at the beginning.

Tanya said she now had a strong inner belief and was no longer afraid.

Tongue in cheek I had asked ‘Noah’ if our radio programme would change anything.

Equally tongue in cheek came the reply “it will cause a small bruise”.










Royal Albert Hall, London, March 31st, 1948

Demonstration by Helen Hughes

At the Great Centenary Celebration in the Royal Albert Hail the first medium to demonstrate the truth of survival and communication with spirits was Mrs. Helen Hughes, the celebrated North Country medium.

Mrs.Hughes began her demonstration by asking for someone named Mrs Wilcox. After a lady had responded, she described to her a boy named Tony. This was accepted.
The name Hobbs was then given as the surname, with the request that birthday greetings should be conveyed to his family.

To another person in the hall Mrs Hughes described an old gentleman, and with him Jimmy Brown. “I’ve got to tell you,’said the medium, “that he has found out all about George who, when in the body, was a bit of a mystery. He was at your home on Sunday and heard all the good things you were saying about him, (Yes) but he says he was not as good as all that. He wouldn’t change places with any of you. I get the name Alma.’’ (That is my name). ‘‘Do you know Doris?’’ (My sister) ‘‘Have you been laying down the law to Arnold?” (Yes) “He says you had a dickens of a time, but don’t be so dogmatic; Arnold will come to it eventually. Have you been trying to convince him?”(Yes, rather) ‘‘Arnold will come to an understanding shortly, take your time.’’

“I have a boy here named Ian Moore,” said the medium to a lady in another part of the hall. (Accepted). “He has never communicated before has he?” (No) “Do you know Digby, a young boy, he’s with David?” (Yes). “Reginald has come with Mary Rankin,” said Mrs. Hughes pointing to a lady in the hall. “This young man was shot through the hip.” This was not immediately accepted. Then Mrs. Hughes said, “Have you lived in India?” (Yes.) “Mary Rankin knows you, she is talking about India.” (I can place her.) “You have always studied the occult.” (Yes.)
“Mary Rankin met you in India. Did you stay in Calcutta?” (Yes.) ‘‘Well she is here with you now in London.”

To another recipient Mrs. Hughes gave the name, Duke, which was recognized. “Michael is
with him” (My son) “They are both R.A.F. boys and have come together.’’ (Yes.) “There is a boy with Michael named John, he knows you, he crashed over Essen, Germany; he is now saluting and saving, ‘All is well with the boys you loved’.”

“I would like to coma to the gentleman with his hands over his face,” Helen said as he pointed to
one of the galleries.
“I have to give you the name Tony, a boy killed in the American Army.” (Accepted) ‘‘He is so glad to see you here, Mary is here too, she is of the Catholic faith.’’ (Yes, that’s right.) “She tells me she will help you till you meet again.”

Further messages were given and accepted.

Demonstration by Estelle Roberts

Mrs Estelle Roberts commenced her demonstration by trying to contact a person in the very top gallery of the Royal Albert Hall, but after giving some evidence of the return of a spirit, it became clear that the difficulties of speaking to the recipient, at so great a distance made it impossible to continue further.

Turning to a lady in one of the galleries on the immediate right hand of the stage, she gave the name of Taylor. Mrs. Roberts made a very fruitful contact, and was able to convey a considerable amount of acceptable evidence of spirit return.

“Do you know George?” (Yes) ‘‘William?” (Mother’s brother.) “Jimmy?” (Yes.) “He speaks of Emily.” (Yes, my mother-in-law.)
“Elizabeth?” (Yes.) “Ann” (Yes.) “Fred”. (Yes.) “Jane-Jenny-cousin of mother? ‘ (Yes) “Arthur is with them. “(Arthur who?) – “Just a, moment, I will ask him for his surname – Arthur Mitchell.’’ (Yes.) ‘‘He reminds you of an anniversary just now.’’ (Yes, my wedding.) ‘‘I now get Flora Annie Williams, you called her Aunt Flossie when a young girl.’’ (Correct)

‘‘I now receive the name of a gentleman Geoffrey Scott;you used to call him Scottie; he had auburn hair and a freckled face; you have a photo of him with Teddy, they are leaning over their bicycles.’’

Mrs. Roberts then gave several anniversary dates. “There is one on April 12th,” she said. (Yes my sister).
“She hasn’t forgotten. The 14th June?” (Mother’s birthday) “16th October?” (Anniversary of my father’s passing). “2nd December? ‘‘ (Father’s birthday.) “All convey their love to you.”

“I don’t know you, do I?” (No, not at all.)

“I want someone named Mrs Andrew,” said Mrs Roberts facing the body of the hall. A lady responded.

“Your husband is here, and is calling Mary.” (Yes) ‘‘He on the platform and I have never seen anyone so excited before. Has he recently,passed over, about four or five months ago?” (Yes, only six weeks)

“He has met John – known as Jack.” (Yes.) “He says that the pain that he endured in the physical body has all gone, he can now walk about everywhere. ‘Give my love to the boys’, he calls. He will be with you on the anniversary in June.” (Yes.)
“As soon as it is possible he will help to adjust your physical condition especially your arms, legs, and feet.” (That’s true)

“I do not know you, do I?” (No.)

Mrs Roberts gave several more messages which were accepted.


In a dynamic speech, speaking of the work of those celebrated mediums, Mrs Estelle Roberts and Mrs Helen Hughes, Hannen Swaffer said that he had spoken with them in town after town, and had challenged the representatives of the press to interview the recipients of the messages, follow them to their homes, and try to disprove one message.

The challenge had never been accepted.

But suppose we had had fifty Estelle Roberts’ and fifty Helen Hughes’, we could have proved our case triumphantly over the whole of Britain.

Note by Zerdini:

This is the type of demonstration which convinced me of the truth of Spiritualism when I began my investigation fifty years ago. I have been privileged to witness and sit with some of the finest mediums, mental and physical during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.



Helen Hughes

Cleric convinced by Bishop’s spirit return

A retired Congregational minister, whose obituary notice PN (Jan 1972) received last week, obtained irrefutable Survival evidence from famous medium Helen Hughes.

He is the Rev George Sharp, 64, of Chesterfield, Derbys, who often shared Spiritualist platforms with Helen.

At one he told the remarkable story of how a bishop’s spirit return convinced him.

At a sitting with Helen his grandfather communicated. He was followed by an entity who said he had been the Bishop of Auckland and had met Sharp’s grandfather in New Zealand.

He never visited that country,” was Sharp’s retort. The “dead” bishop insisted they had met there.

“I gave him a Bible,” he added. “On the fly-leaf I wrote, ‘To Robert, my friend, from the Bishop of Auckland.’”

This began Sharp’s quest to check the spirit statement.

Three close relatives denied that Robert had ever been to New Zealand.

Finally Sharp questioned his 94-year-old grandmother. “Who told you?” she asked.

Without disclosing the reason, Sharp pressed the question. Robert’s widow then admitted that early in their marriage her husband went into exile in New Zealand after an unfortunate episode.

“He would never have come back to me,” she said, “had it not been for a man of your cloth.”

She told Sharp to fetch a parcel from an old chest in her bedroom. He opened it to find a Bible.

On the fly-leaf was the exact inscription given through Helen’s mediumship.

Sharp told PN at the time the Bishop of Auckland was one of his spirit helpers.

Helen Hughes was a superb medium who conducted countless propaganda meetings around the British Isles, in modern times when mediumship was still subject to the antiquated and outdated Witchcraft and Vagrancy Act (formed in 1735).

Helen Hughes was a dedicated Spiritualist whose public mediumship and private séances – during which she was often directly entranced by her sitters’ loved ones – greatly impressed countless thousands of people. Her work was recognised to be of the highest calibre, and the genuineness of her gifts was never disputed.

Verbatim records of her spirit messages make astonishing reading. Along with Estelle Roberts and a few other notable mediums of the late twentieth century (such as the trance medium Lillian Bailey) she commanded the stage at large halls and conference centres across the length and breadth of the UK, and her survival evidence was startlingly accurate.

Maurice Barbanell, Editor of the popular newspaper, Psychic News, wrote that the spirit people who communicated with Helen Hughes often referred to her as “Helen the Beloved”.

Helen possessed great charisma, and her psychic abilities were remarkably well-developed: Mrs Hughes was a Clairaudient (i.e. she could hear spirit voices).

Helen’s mediumship was considered instrumental in the UK government’s banishing of the old 1735 Witchcraft and Vagrancy Act, and in its replacing of it in 1951 by the Fraudulent Mediums Act, which at least recognised the existence of genuine mediumship.

Of her clairaudient abilities and her contact with the spirit people, Helen said, ‘I hear quite naturally, as though I were using the ordinary ear. The voices sound quite normal. I can tell if it is the voice of a man, woman, or child – or if it is a loud voice or a quiet one. Listening to the voices enables me to give the names, facts and details that provide the evidence.’

The medium heard her spirit voices ‘in my ears, or in the region of my solar-plexus…and they vary in clarity.’

Here are some verbatim snippets of Helen Hughes’s remarkable clairaudiently-received spirit messages, which she delivered in the late 1930s:

Pointing to a woman in the auditorium, Helen began:

Helen: Is your name Nellie?

Recipient: Yes

Helen: Well, then, you knew a Mr Bramwell; and I have to tell you that Mr Bramwell is here and he’s brought Harry and Mrs Wilson. She says she’s all right now, and thanks you for what you did for her. She suffered from a weak heart. She tells me that your name is Boynton.

Recipient: Correct.

For another recipient, Helen Hughes received a message “from someone called Eva, who was a musician.” She then singled out a woman in the crowd and added: “You are Eva’s mother. She played the piano; and she had a companion, Elsie, who has also passed over. Her full name is Eva Huxley.”

Recipient: Yes

Helen: (pointing to a woman in the circle) There is a Mrs Richardson in the gallery. I get the name Jimmie Richardson. He worked in an office by himself. He brings Robert and Lizzie, and also Mary Bewick. He tells me that your godmother was Mary McIntyre, and that she was in some way connected with an off-licence for the sale of beer when you were fourteen to seventeen years of age.

Recipient: Quite right!

In a private consultation which was attended by a Mr Hogg and his family, all of whom were perfect strangers to the medium, Helen Hughes delivered the following clairaudiently-received information:

Pointing to Mr Hogg she said, ‘There is a young airman here. You are his Dad.’ Turning to Mr Hogg’s son-in-law she added, ‘This boy calls you Ian: and he calls himself Douglas.’ And to the two girls who were present she announced, ‘And you are his sisters, Isobel and Mary.’

Each name and tie-of-relationship was perfectly correct.

Helen Hughes passed in 1967 aged 74.

Suggested reading: The Mediumship of Helen Hughes by Bernard Upton) (Spiritualist Press Ltd, 1945.

A Private Home Circle


by Maurice Barbanell

When I come to describe the home circle I visited, I must refrain from giving the medium’s name, or any indication of where he and his wife live, except to say that it is in the Home Counties. The nature of his occupation makes it essential for him to shun publicity. Not only is this man a remarkable medium for direct voice and materialisation, but he is also one of the most brilliant clairvoyants I have met in my long experience.

Among the spirit communicators were people I had known very well and so was able to identify their voices and to understand their references which were sometimes of a private nature. Thus I clearly identified the voice of Harry Boddington, a veteran Spiritualist pioneer, who had passed on less than a year earlier. Similarly I recognised the tones of Jack Webber who in his day had been an outstanding physical medium. And there was a communication from a former member of my staff who gave her full name. Another dramatic happening was the return of a man who had recently committed suicide. He too gave his full name.

Boddington’s was a short but evidential communication. In a clear voice, through the luminous trumpet poised in mid-air, he greeted me and recalled the comment I made when last we met. This was that he was looking younger despite his advancing age. I had jokingly referred to him as Spiritualism’s ‘Peter Pan’. An indication of the wonders of spirit life was indicated by his statement, ‘I thought I knew everything. . .’ He followed by telling how much he was learning. This, mark you, came from a man who had devoted over half a century to spreading our truths and whose book, The University of Spiritualism, is rightly regarded as a classic dealing with every phase of this subject.

The séance began with one of the most remarkable demonstrations of ectoplasm I have ever seen. The third member of the circle is an electrician. Some time earlier, he had wondered what the effect of introducing an ultra-violet lamp into the séance room would be. They experimented, with heartening results.

It enabled me to see that two kinds of ectoplasm are used, one coloured white and the other brown. The white strip streamed from the medium’s nose and the brown strip from one ear –  later there were two brown strips, one from each ear. Yet when the red lamp was switched on, only one colour, a whitish hue, was visible in all the strips. The brown ectoplasm, I was told, was of a ‘lower vibration’. It was composed out of the material in the room, furnishings, carpets, curtains, etc. The white ectoplasm came from the medium’s body.

The entranced medium was brought round the circle to each member in turn. We clearly saw the ectoplasm streaming from his nostrils and were invited to examine and handle it. It was bone dry and felt like fine cloth. Later we were allowed to see it form a rod, attached to the trumpet, to enable it to move.

In some photographs, taken with a white flashlight, during the years, spirit faces are seen to have been built up in this ectoplasm. There are two pictures of levitation, one showing a stool off the ground, and the other a chair almost touching the ceiling.

The séance that night was perfectly organised. The medium’s wife played the piano throughout to produce the vibrations necessary for the spirit voices. She stopped only when there was a communication. The guide in charge of this part of the séance is Robbie, a sixteen-year-old relative of the medium’s wife. Robbie always spoke in between each communicator, indicated who was coming and for whom the communication was intended. Occasionally, when the communication had ended he added evidential details.

A suicide addressed two friends of mine. This communicator, I learned, is the husband of their daily help. With a marked Cockney dialect, he thanked them for their help, saying that, as a result, ‘I can see the light.’ Expressing regrets for all the trouble he had caused, he said: ‘I was silly. . . I should not have done it.’

Robbie indicated that the next spirit speaker, who was named, ‘a little lady’ – an accurate description – was for my wife. ‘She has not been over here very long,’ he said. ‘Her passing was caused by a very bad internal condition.’ This was true – it was cancer.

Because it was her first return in the direct voice – I believe it is equivalent to dying all over again – it obviously entailed a great effort. She was almost overcome with emotion. My two friends to whom the suicide returned – they are frequent sitters – say they clearly heard her repeat her Christian name, but my wife and I missed that and heard only the surname, an unusual one. She did not stay very long. She gave a message for a member of her family, whom she named, and expressed gratitude for the help given her.

There were short but clear communications from some guides of the sitters. Then came Jack Webber – he had been a famous physical medium, who announced himself, by name. It is many years since I sat in his séances. He gave me two messages for his great friend, Harry Edwards, the celebrated spirit healer, who originally sponsored his mediumship when he came to London.

Jack mentioned that his own guide, Reuben, whose singing was always a joy, sometimes came to these séances. He followed Webber and sang, in his musical voice, one verse of ‘Lead Kindly Light’.

Finally the trumpet moved over to the medium’s wife at the piano. It was obviously an experienced communicator, who was able to whisper into the recipient’s ear, so that others could not hear, all she wanted to say. Later she told me it was her mother.

I was intrigued, during the séance, by the supernormal behaviour of a luminous tambourine. This, suspended in mid-air, whirled rapidly round and round. Another striking feature was the playing, by an invisible hand, of a luminous miniature xylophone in tune with our hymn-singing.

I asked the medium to tell me how he discovered his psychic gifts. It all began just under a score of years earlier when at 9 p.m., one September night, he saw what he thought was a radiantly white-dressed figure of a nurse walking in the rain. She approached him as he was cycling home. After she had passed him he was struck by her supernormal appearance. He turned round to overtake her – but she had vanished.

Determined to solve the mystery, he went to a Spiritualist church where they were having an open circle. The visiting medium told him about his own latent psychic gifts. He determined to develop them, with the wonderful results that I had seen.

As an example of this medium’s remarkable clairvoyance I quote an incident which happened when he and his wife visited my London flat. He turned to one of my friends and asked, ‘Is there a Vale Court not far away in Maida Vale?’ Told the answer was ‘yes’, he said there was a spirit communicator giving the name Nathaniel Nathan. With him there was somebody named Phillips. These names were known only to my friend and the address was correct. When he made inquiries, he discovered that Nathaniel Nathan had passed on only three weeks earlier. Phillips was a relative.

One of the members of my own home circle is Vernon Moore, a former Methodist missionary and now a business executive in a leading industrial company. He has frequently attended this medium’s séances. On more than one occasion he has been asked by an unknown communicator to comfort a loved one left behind. Whenever this has happened the communicator has not only given the full name but the complete address where his close relative was to be found.

Vernon was also involved in another remarkable happening. At one of this medium’s séances a strong voice announced through the trumpet that his name was Roderick McDonald. He said that he was interested in some work that Vernon was doing. The name was unknown to my friend, so he asked for more information.

The communicator said that he had been a missionary and a doctor of medicine whose earthly career had ended some 46 years earlier by being murdered in Canton, China. Vernon experienced some difficulty in trying to confirm these statements. Finally he contacted the missionary society and the relatives mentioned by the communicator.

The society kindly offered to search through the records for the early part of the century. The result was corroboration that Roderick McDonald was a missionary in China. He had been a doctor of medicine and was murdered in Canton. The only variation was a difference of a year in the date of his passing.






How to set up a Direct Voice Circle

How to set up a Direct Voice Circle

by John Butler

Now the direct voice is obviously the most interesting and most evidential of all forms of mediumship.

Comparatively few home circles, however, seriously sit for it – the reason being that development requires patience, it frequently being said that six or seven years is required before the voice is obtained.

In my opinion and experience this is incorrect. If all the rules are scrupulously observed, direct voice should start within six months, and subsidiary phenomena such as spirit lights and movement of the trumpet should be experienced long before that. Where circles do not develop direct voice for several years it will generally be found that one or other of the rules is being neglected. Assuming then that you wish to start a home circle for the direct voice, here is the way you should set about it.

First you must get together a number of sitters – not less than five nor more than nine. It is not essential that you keep strictly to these figures but they are the ones generally recommended. Where you have fewer than five sitters there is generally not enough “power” or psychic force unless one of the sitters proves to be an exceptional medium. Where you have more than nine sitters you increase the chances of absenteeism, which is fatal to development. Once you have decided on your circle of sitters do not vary it.

Having got your circle you must then decide at whose home you will meet. Once decided, this also must not vary.

The room selected for sittings should be preferably small, with few furnishings. It must be able to be rendered absolutely pitch-dark without a chink of light. Because of this necessity for absolute darkness there must be some means of heating it in the winter other than by coal fire or stove. Either hot-water pipes or totally enclosed electric resistances are suitable. The latter are comparatively cheap to buy and current consumption is not excessive. The heating of the room may seem a small point, but in practice it will be found that for six months in the year it makes the difference between comfort and discomfort.

Moreover the incidence of phenomena frequently decreases the temperature of the room, making a cold room noticeably colder. You should therefore decide on some form of heating and have that installed before the series of sittings commences. Many circles have broken up because the question of heating was neglected.

You have now chosen the members of your circle, the rendezvous, the day and time of meeting, the room and the heating of the room. Remember that the blackout must be complete and absolute, especially in the beginning stages.

The members of the circle should sit in a circle, preferably alternately male and female. In the centre of the circle should be placed, on a small table or on a board, the trumpet. The trumpet is merely a kind of megaphone without handle or lip. It may be made of aluminium, celluloid, plastic, cardboard, leather, or practically any light material. It is not used by the spirit operators as we use a megaphone – to amplify sound – but rather as a means of concentrating “power.” It should be dotted slightly in one or two places with luminous paint so that when it is lifted in the air the sitters will be able to know.

In some circles the sitters all join hands, but personally I do not favour this. The object is twofold – first as a kind of mutual check on each other, and second because it is supposed to assist in generating “power.”

In practice it will be found fatiguing and unnecessary. A better check on the sitters is to fill the floor-space with bowls of water and vases of flowers, so that movement is impossible.

The sitting should open with a prayer, oral or mental as you prefer. Many people are shy of public praying and, moreover, public prayer has a tendency to become more or less a formula and to lack sincerity. For my own part therefore I recommend a minute of silent prayer. But why pray at all, you may ask – after all, it is not a religious service.

Silent prayer or aspiration is recommended for exactly the same reason that you are recommended, if you wish to hear a particular radio programme, to turn the dial on your set until you are tuned in to that programme. If you just switch on your set without dialling you must take whatever programme it happens to be attuned to.

Since that is the one thing which we wish to avoid in attempting to contact the next world, it is strongly recommended that the members of the circle, each in his or her own fashion, express the desire to make only helpful contacts and to avoid all harmful ones.

And that, whether you like it or not, is prayer. To whom you should direct your prayer is a matter entirely for your own deciding.

Immediately after the opening prayer there should be music – either quiet singing in unison or gramophone music. Radio music is seldom suitable since it generally consists of jive or swing, and in any case is generally interspersed with talks or remarks. The type of music used should be soothing and restful, the object being to harmonise as far as possible the emotions of the sitters. For this reason, and not because it happens to have a religious connection, hymn music is exceptionally good provided it is not allowed to deteriorate into a slow-movement drawl.

The atmosphere you are aiming to produce should be harmonious, soothing, smooth and yet alert. For this reason music or singing should occur at frequent intervals through the sitting.

The sitting itself should last exactly an hour, and should end, as it began, with a prayer. A definite break at the end of a sitting is essential.

Never, never omit it.

Now I have known many circles observe all these rules and yet fail to get results, and so eventually break up. It is because they have not observed the last and most important rule of all – be harmonious. Harmony amongst the sitters is the one condition that brings speedy results.

In our own home circle we got very speedy results because we purposely set out to cultivate harmony among the sitters. We saw little of each other immediately before the sitting so that no controversial conversation might take place. We did not permit criticism of anybody or anything. We consciously tried to see the best in each other, and avoided being irritated by mannerisms. We became, if you like, a mutual admiration society, but we preserved harmony. There was not a shred of malice or unkindness or envy or jealousy, or even questioning amongst the whole lot of us. Tolerance and harmony reigned supreme.

The controls or operators on the other side of life who are responsible for bringing about the phenomena necessary in a direct-voice circle cannot even begin their work until complete harmony is established.

If they see a sincere and earnest effort on the part of the sitters to produce this state of harmony, they will do their utmost to help. But if they see little progress towards this end they soon cease to co-operate.

Remember it has taken them years to study and master this wonderful phenomenon, and until they have satisfied themselves that the sitters are of the class that will persevere, that they are earnest, with no selfish end in view, and that they are willing to exercise control of themselves and make whatever sacrifices are necessary to produce the results, the spirit controls are not likely to waste their time and efforts.

I will summarise the rules as follows:

1. Decide what form of mediumship you wish to develop (in this case it is the direct voice), and do not allow members to give rein to any other such as clairvoyance or trance. This rule is a MUST. The only exception is when you are instructed to do so by the spirit operators, who may wish to give instructions through some member from time to time.

2. Choose your place of meeting and stick to it. To alter your meeting-room from time to time is fatal. Even experienced voice circles sometimes have a setback if circumstances force them to change their rendezvous.

3. Choose your sitters with care, and keep strictly to the rule, MEMBERS ONLY. Never invite non-members whilst the circle is developing—not even experienced mediums. If you want to consult an experienced medium, do so by visiting the medium, not by having the medium with you. And let even that be very exceptional.

4. Be regular. Nothing whatever should be allowed to interfere with the regularity of the sittings, save only ill health and summer holidays. This point should be kept very much in mind when selecting the original members of the circle. If ill health is likely to make them frequent absentees or if business is likely to keep them from attending from time to time (a doctor in general practice, for instance) your circle will suffer grave delays in development.

The sitters must be sufficiently interested and eager to be ready to make considerable personal sacrifices in order to keep up regular attendance.
Remember the spirit chemists are using ectoplasm drawn from every sitter.

If, therefore, from week to week one or other of the sitters is absent then one or other of the ingredients will be absent.

But in the event of unavoidable absence on the part of a member see to it that his or her chair is placed in position just the same.

5. Be punctual. Lack of punctuality indicates lack of interest on the part of the sitters. If it is a rush for any sitter to arrive on time, then alter the time of your sitting accordingly. Punctuality should be meticulously observed both in starting and finishing.

6. Try to avoid a heavy meal within two or three hours before sitting, and try too to avoid smoking for about half an hour beforehand. Light meals may be taken, and a glass of water immediately before the sitting is sometimes recommended.

7. Be comfortable. Sit with knees uncrossed, feet apart, with a hand resting on each knee, preferably with palms upwards. Inconvenience through either heat or cold will retard progress. It is sometimes recommended that sitters should dip their fingertips in a bowl of water and leave them wet just before sitting, as this is said to facilitate the flow of “power.” The bowl of water should then be placed in the circle.

8. The blackout must be complete and absolute. Even light coming through a keyhole has been known to interfere with phenomena. Later, permission may be given by the spirit controls for the use of a red lamp or some other form of lighting, but during development absolute darkness is essential.

9. Place the aluminium trumpet in the centre of the circle, preferably standing on wood such as a small table or a piece of three-ply. Either mark with a pencil the exact place of the trumpet, or else attach to the base of the trumpet a small tab which is so placed as to cover a marked spot or button. The object of this is so as to be able to observe after the sitting whether the trumpet has moved or not. It encourages the sitters and improves their morale when they find, after six or eight sittings, that the trumpet has actually moved even though only an inch or two. It is generally recommended to run water through the trumpet just before sitting.

10. Open with a prayer, oral or mental. Then let there be singing, preferably a hymn or some soothing melody. After two or three melodies there should be two minutes’ (not more) complete silence. Follow with more singing or music from time to time. Light conversation, if not controversial, is good. You should aim at inducing a perfectly natural and happy atmosphere, with laughter and conversation and anything that makes for harmony.

But levity and arguments are fatal. Remember that you have asked clever and earnest spirits on the other side to co-operate with you in forming a link, that they have to work hard and patiently, and that all they ask of you is to provide the correct conditions.

11. Cultivate harmony amongst the sitters. I have already stressed this point. It is the most important of all. Everyone has failings, but it is essential that the members of the circle should make allowance for each other. A spirit of tolerance, of understanding, of give and take, of camaraderie, of complete unanimity must grow up in the circle. If any member offends against this rule, get rid of him or her quickly, and start all over again. It will prove to be much better in the long run.

In our own home circle, when we first started, we had some sorting out to do. My notes show that we had eleven preliminary sittings, due to sorting out sitters who didn’t observe the rules as strictly as we wished. On the twelfth sitting we started all over again, replacing rejected sitters with ones more suitable.

Our strictness was well repaid. After we had started all over again, at our fifth sitting my notes show that the trumpets (we had two of them) were lifted on three occasions two or three feet from the floor. There was not, however, sufficient “power” to hold them long in the air.

Imagine, if you can, the thrill we had at this result and how encouraged we were to continue with our investigations. After that we had no difficulty in getting all the sitters to observe all the rules.

12. Close with a prayer. Even if you have had no results remember that the spirit operators have been working during the whole of the hour that you have been sitting. Show your appreciation by thanking them. It is only courtesy to do so. Assure them that you will continue to give them the best conditions according to your abilities and knowledge. Leave the circle with thoughts of gratitude, and full of hope for the next sitting. Tenacity and patience will receive their reward.

And no one can really describe what a reward it is when the first faint whispers come from spirits in the next world. Even when you have yourself experienced it you will still scarcely credit it.

You will have been granted a great blessing; receive it with gratitude and humility. And have the courage to spread the knowledge so that others too may gain comfort and solace.

The Barham Conspiracy

The Barham Conspiracy

In late November 1941 the British battleship HMS Barham was attacked and sunk by a U-boat off the coast of Egypt. In March of 1944 Mrs. Helen Duncan, a well-known Scottish spiritualist and medium, went on trial in London’s Old Bailey for conspiracy to violate the 1735 Witchcraft Act.

In the intervening years these two seemingly disparate events became woven together in a complicated wartime tale of naval disaster, government cover-up, a drowned sailor purportedly speaking from a watery grave, and a modern-day witch trial that Winston Churchill described as “absolute tomfoolery.”

An Afternoon Tragedy
On the afternoon of November 25, 1941 Barham and two other battleships of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet cruised off the Egyptian coast of Cyrenaica to provide distant cover for an attack on Italian convoys. Though constantly zigzagging and screened by eight destroyers, the battleships sailed into peril. Undetected beneath the calm water, Kplt. Hans-Diedrich Von Tiesenhausen manoeuvred his U-331 inside the British destroyers and launched four torpedoes at a battleship looming in his periscope.

The 31,000 ton Barham stood no chance when three of the torpedoes exploded against her port side. Obscured by enormous spouts of water, the stricken warship lost all electrical power and began listing heavily; a scene recorded by a cameraman aboard the nearby battleship HMS Valiant. Still plowing forward into the sea, Barham rolled onto her beam ends and blew up in a tremendous magazine explosion just four minutes after the first torpedo struck. The blast flung men and debris hundreds of feet into the air, leaving behind stunned survivors churning in a thick oil slick. 861 sailors and officers lost their lives in the disaster, while 395 were rescued.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Adm. Sir Andrew Cunningham, was having tea aboard his flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth when he heard the roar of the torpedo detonations. Cunningham rushed to the deck to witness Barham’s final moments, a sight he recorded in his autobiography as “a horrible and awe-inspiring spectacle when one realized what it meant.”

Kplt. Von Tiesenhausen, however, could hardly savour his success. The ejection of the torpedoes compromised U-331’s buoyancy and caused the periscope and conning tower of the Type VIIC boat to broach the surface just 150 yards from the now provoked Valiant. The battleship heeled over to ram the U-boat as its starboard pom-pom guns fired 19 rounds that, due to the submarine’s proximity, flew harmlessly overhead. To save his boat, Von Tiesenhausen ordered a crash dive that took the submarine to a depth of 265 meters, over a hundred meters below its maximum safety depth. The proximity of Barham’s swimming survivors prevented the destroyers from attacking with depth charges, allowing U-331 to slowly escape to the north.

The chaotic aftermath, however, also prevented Von Tiesenhausen from knowing the outcome of his attack. The rapid torpedo explosions were audible inside the submarine, but he had no knowledge of the Barham’s fate. He later radioed his superiors that he had torpedoed a battleship with unknown results, a message intercepted by British code-breakers. His official report on December 3 made the modest claim of one torpedo hit on an unknown British battleship.

The Admiralty Reversal
Since the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak in October 1939, also by a daring U-boat commander, the Admiralty established the policy of immediately announcing all major warship losses. When the German battleship Bismarck blew up HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait in May 1941 the government sombrely broadcast the loss of the famous battlecruiser on the same day it was sunk.

But when the British realized the Germans remained unaware of Barham’s destruction, they quickly reversed this policy. Royal Navy naval forces in the Atlantic and Mediterranean were already under strength, and although they did not know it, new disasters lurked on the horizon. In less than a month the two remaining battleships in the Eastern Mediterranean, Queen Elizabeth and Valiant, would be mined and severely damaged in Alexandria harbour by Italian “human torpedoes.” Their long-term repairs would leave the Royal Navy incapable of intervening during a crucial Axis build-up in the Desert War. And three days after Barham’s loss, HMS Prince of Wales would meet HMS Repulse in the Indian Ocean before proceeding to Singapore on their fateful mission to deter an increasingly belligerent Japan. Both warships would be sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers within two weeks. It was what the London newspaper The Daily Express later called “the blackest fortnight in Britain’s naval history in world wars.”

Realizing an opportunity to mislead their enemies and protect home-front morale, the Admiralty censored Barham’s sinking. News of the loss of one of the Royal Navy’s fifteen remaining capital ships was confined to the chambers Admiralty and White Hall – or so they believed.

A Summoned Sailor
Helen Duncan did not fit the subversive type. Born in 1897 in Scotland, she married a struggling cabinet-maker and had six children, losing six others as infants. Duncan, who weighed 300 pounds and was plagued by constant poor health, gained notoriety in the UK during the 1930s and 40’s for her séances. Her particular skill involved “materialization,” a process in which streams of ectoplasm would issue from her mouth and take on forms of the dead. Sceptics called her a fraud, claiming she regurgitated cheesecloth to simulate the ectoplasm. In the early 1930s she was put on trial in Scotland and fined for falsely claiming to communicate with dead spirits.

Despite her court appearance, Duncan remained a popular spiritualist and much sought-after medium during the war. She organized frequent séances for people seeking to communicate with deceased relatives. During one séance held shortly after the Barham’s loss in late 1941 she reportedly summoned the spirit of a sailor who announced, “My ship is sunk” to the astonished audience. The sailor reportedly wore a Royal Navy hatband with the name “HMS Barham.” This episode occurred while Barham’s loss remained a heavily guarded secret. When news of the event reached the Admiralty, they feared Duncan’s séances would unravel their extensive measures of concealment.

Keeping Secrets
On November 27, two days after Barham’s loss, Winston Churchill telegrammed Australian Prime Minister John Curtain to describe the objectives of the censorship campaign: “This [the loss of Barham] is being kept strictly secret at present as the enemy do not seem to know, and the event would only encourage Japan.” Under the strain of two years of constant war, the embattled leaders of Britain grasped every advantage they could.

Many steps, both elaborate and subtle, were taken to prevent the truth from reaching the public or the Axis powers. One extraordinary measure included the printing and mailing of Christmas and New Year’s cards for the crew of the sunken battleship, even those who had perished. Admiralty officials realized that withholding the cards would have raised suspicions about the Barham’s status.

More traditional forms of deception were employed as well. On January 8, 1942 Adm. Cunningham reassured the readers of the Glasgow Herald with an article headlined “All’s well with the Navy in the Mediterranean.” Although Cunningham admitted his forces “had to fight and win against some pretty long odds at times,” his upbeat appraisal hardly reflected the actual situation of three British battleships in the Mediterranean sunk or disabled in as many months.

The censorship campaign also extended to the Admiralty’s monthly “Naval Supply and Production” statistics. These documents charted the number and types of British warships ordered, launched, damaged and destroyed for each month during the war. The supply and production records for November 1941 failed to register the loss of the battleship Barham, although the December 1941 statistics accounted for the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse in the South China Sea. Since these documents were circulated throughout the Admiralty, all traces of the Barham’s loss had to be removed.

After a delay of several weeks, the War Office decided to alert the next of kin of Barham’s dead, but they added a special request for secrecy. The notification letters included a warning not to discuss the loss of the ship with anyone but close relatives, stating it was “most essential that information of the event which led to the loss of your husband’s life should not find its way to the enemy until such time as it is announced officially…” The wives and families receiving these letters were undoubtedly devastated by their grief yet were prevented from making any public announcement of their loss.

Since the sinking of Barham occurred in the late afternoon with many other warships present, it was one of the best-recorded and investigated naval disasters of the war. A Reuters correspondent who witnessed the torpedoing and explosion later wrote, “It was something like one sees on film.” His analogy proved prescient when it was revealed that a Gaumont-British cameraman named John Turner filmed the last minutes of Barham. The navy impounded the footage shortly after the sinking, holding it until 1945.Today, Turner’s film of the stricken battleship keeling over and exploding comprise one of the most compelling short movies of the war.

Only when the German High Command guessed at Barham’s loss in late January 1942 did the British government acknowledge the truth. The Admiralty informed the press on January 27, 1942 and explained their rationale for withholding the news. By then, with crushing Allied defeats mounting in the new Pacific war, newspapers wrote little about the torpedoed battleship or the censorship. The January 28, 1942 edition of the Glasgow Herald resembled most newspapers when it accepted the Admiralty’s decision to censor the loss, writing “it was important to make certain disposition before the loss of this ship was made public.” When the news of the Barham’s sinking was confirmed in Germany, Kplt. Von Tiesenhausen received the award of a Knight’s Cross.

A Modern Witchcraft Trial
Helen Duncan was not arrested in the aftermath of the Barham incident, and she continued to organize séances throughout the country. But authorities watched her more closely. In 1942 Duncan began to lead spiritualist demonstrations in Portsmouth, a naval town on England’s southern coast. She was conducting a séance in Portsmouth on January 19, 1944 when suddenly a whistle blew and a participant rushed forward to grab the floating ectoplasm. Others in the audience turned on the lights and ushered in the police. Undercover naval and police officers had infiltrated the meeting, and Duncan and three other shocked participants were arrested and charged with vagrancy before the Portsmouth magistrates.

Higher authorities intervened, however, and the police transported Duncan to London to face charges from the Director of Public Prosecutions. The more serious accusation of conspiracy, punishable by death in wartime, replaced her original infraction. Finally, the prosecutors decided to charge her with violating the 1735 Witchcraft Act, a law originally passed during the reign of King George II that had lain dormant for a hundred years.

Duncan’s trial at London’s Old Bailey court began on March 23, 1944 and lasted a week. It was a tabloid trial, attracting widespread coverage in the newspapers for its characters and accusations quite unusual for a 20th century court. The undercover agents who broke up the Portsmouth séance testified against Duncan, and the chief of the Portsmouth police called her “an unmitigated humbug and pest.” The prosecutors introduced evidence that Duncan revealed the loss of Barham in 1941 while it remained an Admiralty secret. For her defence the jury heard from 19 witnesses who testified that Duncan had summoned the spirits of their dead relatives and friends. The defence team also proposed that Duncan hold a séance in the courtroom, but the prosecution, realizing the mockery that could result from the stunt, refused their offer.

Despite her surprisingly strong defence, a jury found Duncan and her associates guilty of a conspiracy to violate the Witchcraft Act and a judge sentenced her to nine months in London’s Holloway women’s prison. In a surprising move she was denied the right of appeal to the House of Lords, a common appeals practice. It has been suggested that Duncan’s prosecution was motivated by concern that her Portsmouth séances would reveal the timing of the approaching D-Day invasion. The government considered her inexplicable knowledge of Barham’s sinking as evidence to the danger she posed to wartime secrets. Yet to many observers, sending an uneducated and invalid witch to jail seemed an odd pursuit for a nation finally turning the corner of a terrible war.

The efforts to convict Helen Duncan did not please everyone in the government. Most notably, the witchcraft trial caused Winston Churchill to write to his Home Secretary to criticize the resources wasted on a prosecution he described as “absolute tomfoolery to the detriment of the necessary work of the court.” Modern-day defenders of Helen Duncan claim that Churchill held spiritualist sympathies, and it was his second government that eventually repealed the ancient Witchcraft Act in 1951, replacing it with the Fraudulent Mediums Act. However, it is equally likely that Churchill considered the trial a distraction from the war effort, and an embarrassment to his government.

Legacies of the Loss
The entwined legacies of the Barham and Helen Duncan keep this story very much alive in the UK. An official memorial to the battleship lies in one of the country’s most sacred places, Westminster Abbey. Tall gold candlesticks flank the entrance to the choir, placed there in February 1943 during an official dedication. The Abbey hosts a service of remembrance on the second to last Saturday in November when survivors and their families can view a special book of remembrance.

Although Duncan died almost fifty years ago in 1956, the story of her trial and imprisonment continues to inspire her admirers on both sides of the Atlantic to win her a post-humus pardon. In 1997 a spiritualist fellowship presented a bust of Helen Duncan to Callander, Scotland, the town of her birth. Council officials attempted to display the bust in the town’s Rob Roy Visitors Centre, located in a former church, but some locals objected to Duncan’s spiritualist past. Currently, a bronze cast of the bust is displayed at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, which also stores the original copy in its basement.

In 1957 a group of Barham veterans founded the HMS Barham Survivors Association. Every May the few remaining survivors and their relatives hold a reunion dinner in Portsmouth where they toast the memory of the ship and those that died. One surprising attendee at early reunions of the Barham Association was U-331 commander Hans-Diedrich Von Tiesenhausen, who survived the war as a prisoner and lived until his death in 2000 in western Canada working as an interior decorator and painting many of his war memories.

Al Collier, a Little Rock, Arkansas resident and expert in Helen Duncan’s story, interviewed the elderly Tiesenhausen in January 1998 with help from the former submariner’s wife. According to Collier, Tiesenhausen expressed dismay at the story of Helen Duncan and her witchcraft trial. “No government,” he reportedly said, “should be allowed to treat a poor woman so terribly.” If some of the Barham’s surviving sailors can accept the U-boat captain who sank their battleship, perhaps the British government will pardon a witch who guessed at too many wartime secrets.

This article first appeared in the December 2004 issue of World War II magazine.

See also “The Helen Duncan Case” by Hannen Swaffer.


J B Jonson – Materialisation


With materialization medium, J. B. Jonson

John S. King, M.D.
Founder and President of the Canadian Society of Psychical Research

THE fourth séance of the series of seven, and the second J. B. Jonson séance, is the only one of the entire November series, which embraces a record of all the materializations presenting during the séance; and is likewise exceptional, in that it is the only one of any series up to date, in which the full record is reproduced in the publication; and the entire stenographic report of what each and every one presenting said; also the stenographer’s description of their appearance and acts, as well as each event of sufficient interest to be described. I had several reasons for having not only a full report of everything of interest, but for making sure of its being an accurate report in every particular. I had been assured by Hypatia in Detroit, that a grand surprise would await me at this séance (November 15, 1911); and it occurred to me that if I made the record, it would not be a stenographic one, nor would I be able to concentrate my attention upon the presenting surprise; and the individual incidents connected with each and every one of the psychical phenomena under observation; and at the same time take notes or make a full report, and do justice either to myself or to the report. Further, I desired the report to be absolutely and verbally perfect, as only a stenographer’s report could be; and my own would not be a stenographer’s report.

Lastly I desired to place myself beyond the possibility of being to any extent chargeable with interested motives, on account of what was promised, or influenced by selfish reason, or excited by what presented itself to my senses and mind; or having my personal judgment warped, so as to influence the description I might subsequently give to others as evidential matter; and to make it obvious that I could not possibly write up the matter to suit myself, or to give color to the possibilities or probabilities, which might be presumed to harmonize with my opinions, hopes or conviction In fact my wishes were no less my soul’s desire, to demonstrate a truth, for I did indeed most heartily and sincerely desire that some one, possibly a member of this select group of psychical researchers, or some one employed by the class, would make for me a true and full report of the, in this instance, séance as a whole, for me to have and to hold as evidence of what occurred outside of my own written or spoken description. I had not been at the séance many minutes, before I found that the secretary of the club or class was making a stenographic report for the class. When opportunity presented I bespoke a copy of the record, and secured the promise of it, and later obtained possession of it, and thus my wishes, my soul’s desire, my true prayer for a full report–and the said report to bear the declaration, and sworn statements of the stenographer who made it, as to all the matter, including that which pertains to my guide and loved ones, as evidential records was truly answered. Those present never saw me before. I had only a few minutes previously been introduced to them as the official representative of the Canadian Society for Psychical Research, and as such was admitted as the first individual not a member, who was permitted the privilege of being present at a séance with this class of investigators, which favor is hereby acknowledged. I attach the record as embracing all the main features, and being absolutely independent of even a suggestion on my part.


The seventh meeting of the Sunflower Class was a notable one, being honoured by the presence of Dr. John S. King of Toronto, Canada, who is President of the Canadian Society for Psychical Research, with a charter from the Government. This gentleman’s long experience in the work, and high development, were a source of great benefit to the class, and productive of marvellously beautiful materializations most thoroughly appreciated by the Circle. We wish to thank Dr. King for his words, attesting to personal experiences so convincing as to impress more deeply on our hearts and minds the wonderful possibilities of this great work, stimulating us to strive together to the attaining of results with ever-increasing earnestness and harmonious co-operation.

The materializations recorded for this meeting are as follows:


A Mrs Moore’s son, a boy of sixteen, who has been in spirit-land for one year. The date being that of his birthday, Mrs Moore had provided beautiful chrysanthemums to be given to each materialization in honour of the occasion. John materialized most beautifully and strong, building up in sight of all, attired in his vesture, having on earth been a member of the Trinity Choir. Seeing that his mother held a large bouquet to give to him, he entered the cabinet, dematerialized the book, which he held, and returned to receive the flowers. Walking beside Mrs Jonson, John went from one end of the circle to the other, carrying the flowers, thanking one and all for their words of greeting on this his birthday.

Returning to his mother, he told her to be patient, and that it would not be long before she would be able to walk. Going to the cabinet for more strength, John returned, stopping on his way to take a flower from the case and handing it to Sister Martha, the beautiful white sister who materialized with him. Standing beside his mother, John said:

“Now don’t sigh, mother dear, nor be sad. It would be much worse if you could not see me at all, but had to feel that I was lying in that cold ground.”

Meanwhile Sister Martha was drawing strength from the medium toward John with indescribably graceful movements of her hands.

John continued: “I have to go now. Please don’t feel lonely any more, will you, because I am with you?”

Kissing his mother and little cousin goodbye, John retreated toward the cabinet, holding in his hand the large bouquet of chrysanthemums, and dematerialized both himself and the flowers, outside of the cabinet, in full view of the class.


Mrs Russell’s sister. This materialization is a beautiful young woman who comes each week to talk to her sister, often giving important advice. At the close of the conversation Florence dematerialized with her flower from the birthday bouquet.


This is always a beautifully strong materialization, being Mrs Jonson’s spirit guide. As is usual with her, Viola had a bright word for each member. Answering the general greeting she said gaily: “I’se right here.” To Mrs Moore: “Hello Auntie Moore”, Told Mr Robleto that he was too sober tonight. Accepted her birthday flower saying: “Sorry Auntie Cleary is not here”, a facetious remark that she seldom forgets, appearing to ignore the member’s invariable presence. Going toward Mrs Cleary, Viola held her dress in position to catch the candy that Mrs Cleary had brought for her. Inquired about Mr Eyster as Secretary No. 2 and instructed the secretary to put a long line for him way across the page for being absent. Standing in the middle of the floor Viola said: “Now I cannot go until you all laugh and talk at once and give me a little brightness. We must have conditions, you know.”

Dematerializing outside the cabinet, Viola added as she was disappearing, “Now don’t all get sober the minute I quit talking.”

Grey Feather, who had kept his medium outside of the cabinet with the class to show that he could bring the materialization in that way, was magnetizing some cards for members, and the sparks radiated from them in a remarkable manner.


This materialization is a most beautiful young girl of about sixteen, and is a guide of Mrs Cleary’s. She always brings brightness into the circle, and has a merry word for all. Receiving her birthday flower and thanking Mrs Moore prettily for same, she went over to Grey Feather and held the flower under his nose, much to his disgust.


Mr Cleary’s guide. This is always a beautiful materialization of a young woman, and Mr Cleary has received many convincing proofs of her power to assist him. Celia gracefully acknowledged an introduction to Dr. King, and walking toward the flowers, evidently admiring them, remarked that flowers gave beautiful conditions. After a private conversation with Mr and Mrs Cleary in the cabinet, Celia dematerialized visibly to the class.


Inez reappeared and took Grey Feather into the cabinet. Returning, Inez let each member smell her flower, remarking: “They don’t smell very good, but, oh, aren’t they beautiful?”

Coming to Dr. King, Inez let him feel her beautiful hair.

Dancing merrily toward the cabinet Inez also dematerialized visibly.


A young woman materialization who is a guide for Mrs Russell. She says her name is Clara Navarre, and her home on earth was in Philadelphia. Also that she is in the fourth sphere and soon to progress to the fifth. That she will tell Mrs Russell when the time of her progression comes. Asked if she wore a white veil because of the sphere in which she existed, she replied

No, we garb ourselves in white because it is symbolical of purity.


A wonderful materialization of a spirit guide of Mrs Etta Wriedt of Detroit, and a man whose venerable and striking appearance commanded the most profound respect. Responding to Dr. King, Dr. Sharp said:

“Yes, I told you I would come. I told you at Sister Wriedt’s in Detroit I would be here. Yes, you may tell them who I am.”

Having told Dr. King at Detroit that he would place his hand on his, Dr. King’s, head, when he visited Toledo, he also fulfilled that promise, saying: “I am a friend to all who are friends of the Cause.” With the words: “Here is your surprise, this imposing spirit dematerialized. (Fulfilment complete.)


Dr. King’s high spirit guide, who alleges she is the daughter of Theon, next walked out of the cabinet into full view of all present. Words are hardly adequate to describe in a fitting manner this beautiful materialization. Tall and queenly with brilliant jewels scintillating at every movement, Hypatia was glorious to behold.

She said to Dr. King: “This is the rose you gave me nearly two years ago, do you remember? and here is another. This is the white ribbon and this is the blue. The conditions here tonight are glorious. How beautiful that this was all prepared ahead of time for you all. I am going now, but I will try to return. Just sit down.”

Requested by Mrs Jonson to take the birthday flower to Dr. Sharp Hypatia graciously accepted her own flower and the one for Dr. Sharp. While waiting for Hypatia to return, Dr. King spoke most beautifully of the wonderful qualities of his queenly guide, saying he had always found her the soul of loyalty and truth. That she helps his wife on the other side, making her rapid progression possible. Also told the class of Hypatia’s promise to bring to him on this occasion his wife’s first-born child, who passed out at birth, and who had now grown to be a beautiful young woman. When Dr. King had finished speaking, Hypatia reappeared and said:

“I would do much more tonight but it takes so much power from the medium, and there are so many yet to come that it would not be right for me to do so, therefore I will bid you good night.”

Bowing gracefully to all, this radiant spirit dematerialized outside the cabinet.

            10 MAY DONNA.

The promise of Hypatia was fulfilled and Dr. King saw before him his spirit daughter, who spoke beautifully as follows: “Papa, 0 Papa, I love you. I came the other evening. Yes, I am going to tell you my name. I want to be near to both you and Mamma; so they call me May Donna. The May is for Mamma and the Donna is for you.” Asked to spell the name, May Donna did so distinctly. She continued: “You must never feel sad, dear papa, for you never shall be alone, so you must not feel so lonesome. You will be, oh, so happy when mamma and I take you with us. Don’t forget, papa, to tell all the dear ones that I came.”

May Donna accepted a flower from her father, and also took the birthday flower from Mrs Moore, saying:

“Be sure and tell grandma that I came. Good night, papa, dear, dear papa.”

With these loving words this lovely spirit dematerialized in view of the class.


(Known in the Records as May).

Beautiful and strong, and so convincingly natural as to overcome a strong man’s self-control, Dr. King’s wife stood materialized before him, speaking the following comforting words: “Don’t cry, dear Johnnie. My dear, this life is beautiful, all brightness and joy. Oh, dear one, I love you so, and the love we feel on earth only grows stronger and more beautiful on our side.

“Do just as I said about my things. It is not necessary to repeat that. About my jewels, I want them left where they are in the safety deposit vault in the bank, I don’t want them given away for a very long time, then I will instruct you about what I want done with them. The single diamond, I want you as soon as you go home, to have set as a scarf pin. Be careful and watch where you take it, do you understand? and when you wear it, it will make it easier for me to come near to you.

“Oh, my dear Johnnie, I wish I could stand here and talk to you, but I cannot, but as many times as I come it will give me more strength. Oh, Johnnie dear, I feel my strength going. You know I could not speak when I passed out. I want to materialize to you more often, dear Johnnie.”

Being asked what pet names she called Dr. King besides ‘Dear Johnnie’, she replied by mentioning all the terms of endearment, which she had been accustomed to use to her husband.

Resuming the conversation, Mrs King said: “You were not with me when I passed out, Johnnie dear, but I could not have spoken to you if you had been there, but now, dear Johnnie, we will make up for lost time. I feel my strength leaving me, and I must say good night, my dear, dear Johnnie, I love you so much.”


A beautiful materialization of a child who passed out at the age of eight years and has been in spirit world a year and a month. Asked by her mother how she ever managed to get through when there were so many great spirits there, she replied: “Well, you see, mamma, they sang a little baby song and I just popped right in on it.”

 Being told why her papa was not present, she replied, sympathetically, “Oh, poor daddy. You tell daddy that I am going to help him and Chrystal is going to help him, and we will make him feel all right again. And don’t feel sad so much, mamma dear, because I am, oh, so happy, and I love you and daddy more than you know that I can love you. Chrystal is going to talk to you, mamma dear, and now I must go. Please say good night to daddy for me, and good night, mamma dear. I love you so much.”


Mr Eyster’s beautiful spirit guide, who always materializes with strength and power. Giving a message to be taken to Mr Eyster, she said: “Tell the dear one to push ahead in that matter. He must get hold of that. If he has to work day and night, he must find a way, for in it lies an end to all worry for you both. I see ahead to great things for you both.”

With a few words of further advice this powerful spirit dematerialized outside of the cabinet, her silver crown resting on the floor for an instant before disappearing.


This is a materialization of Mrs Cleary’s father, who is always convincingly natural to all who knew him in life, even to speaking with a rich brogue. When someone said it was Mr Stack, he replied: “Sure it is, but I waited too long to come. Sure I am happy.”

Being offered the birthday flower he took same with the pleased remark, “Of course I’ll take it.” Mr Stack also dematerialized visibly with his flower.


A beautiful materialization of a young girl, who is a guide for Mrs Jonson. She seemed delighted with her birthday flower, and went from one member of the class to the other showing it, dematerializing with it in her hand.


This gentleman materialized very distinctly, and accepted his flower from his little grandchild, who was present, and kissing her good-bye, the little girl afterwards remarking that Grandpa’s whiskers tickled her mouth.

17 MARY.

Mr Robleto’s beautiful guide, who by referring to certain happenings gave him positive proof that she is always with him. Sent a message of love to his family, and promised to give him proof of her presence at a future time by touching him on the head. Taking Mr Robleto by the hands Mary led him with her to the cabinet, where, after a short conversation, she dematerialized visibly.


This materialization is the young son of Mrs Russell. He is always a beautifully strong spirit, and talked for some time with his mother, also walking toward Dr. King for an introduction, and expressing his pleasure in meeting the gentleman.


A beautiful materialization of Mrs Moore’s sister, who stood during the materialization of Albert and admired the flowers, removing from the vase the one of her choice. She also told Mrs Moore to be prepared for the passing out of her sister, which lies in the near future. Saying good-bye to her little niece, Minnie and Albert dematerialized almost simultaneously.

This closed one of the most beautiful and satisfactory Circles ever held by the Sunflower Class.

         (Sgd.) Katherine M. Eyster, SEC. State of Ohio,


Readers will, in the foregoing séance, find fulfilment of predictions made in the Detroit trumpet séances, with addition of more new evidence.

Dr. Sharp, guide of Etta Wriedt, was present as promised, materialized, placed his hand on my head, and contributed to my surprise.

Hypatia brought May and our daughter to the séance so they could both materialize and talk with me; handed to me the two roses May and I gave her, when May was in earth life, nearly two years before this, thus completing a test of her (Hypatia’s) capacity, which she had promised. This is referred to at length elsewhere. She also fulfilled her promise to bring my angel daughter to materialize and talk with me.

May Donna fulfilled her promise to tell me the name the angels gave to her.

May fulfilled each promise made at Detroit. She also gave evidence that she, was with me and knew what articles were in the safety-deposit vault, which I only placed there on Friday, as I left home the next day, and no living person save myself knew what I had placed there, or when. She also gave in response to a request of a lady present, all the pet names I called her by when in our home, and did so correctly.  JSK.


The Helen Duncan Case

by Hannen Swaffer

In the fifth year of our war for freedom! –  Orthodoxy was to arrest Helen Duncan, our best materialising medium, after submitting her to a physical examination that was indecent, refuse her a doctor until morning, ill with diabetes and suffering with shock though she was – and to invoke the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Orthodoxy was back to broomsticks!

While she was giving a séance at Portsmouth, a whistle was blown. Policemen rushed into the room, took part in a sort of Rugby scrum, and, because they could not find the white “sheet “- that is what they called the ectoplasm the medium had exuded – were childish enough to believe that she had swallowed it, or else that the sitters, who demanded in vain that they should be searched, had secreted it on their persons.

Baron Schrenck-Notzing, who spent many years on psychical research, had analysed ectoplasm. Dr. W. J. Crawford, of Queen’s University, Belfast, had weighed it, traced its flow – and even certified that one medium, while exuding it, lost 54 lbs. of weight!

Thousands of Spiritualists all over the globe knew it to be living matter, out of which they had seen built up solid spirit forms that walked about the room, talked with their earth relatives, had been photographed – Sir William Crookes took lots of photographs of a materialised “Katie King” which a member of his family destroyed after his funeral, although some of the pictures still survive – and played musical instruments.

But the Portsmouth police said it was a sheet!  More, the Public Prosecutor’s department bought cheesecloth  – and just because Harry Price, who had apparently forgotten that he once brought me a piece of ectoplasm which he said was cut from Mrs. Duncan’s body and which he had analysed, declared that her materialisations were cheesecloth which she had regurgitated.

So cheese-cloth, bought by Whitehall for Helen Duncan’s trial at the Old Bailey, was actually held up by Treasury counsel before every defence witness, each of whom was asked in turn, “Isn’t this what you saw?”  Yes, this took place in 1944!

Did the Treasury, the Public Prosecutor, or the Home Office underling who afterwards boasted of his cleverness in remembering the Witchcraft Act know that this Duncan prosecution would put every Spiritualist, every medium, and every psychical researcher in Britain in perpetual jeopardy? Someone must have known.

This is no attack on Spiritualism,” said Treasury counsel, time after time. The Recorder of London, who tried the case, stressed the same thing.

But the truth is that, since Helen Duncan’s conviction proved that mediumship of any kind is, in law, “a pretence at conjuring up spirits of dead persons,” public trance has been barred, in Altrincham, in a municipal hall – in case the town council were guilty of conspiracy!  More, free speech on the subject is so barred that, when I wanted to address a meeting of protest in Altrincham, I had to do so in Sale, a neighbouring borough. No local minister who was approached would lend his chapel! “It is contrary to the teaching of our religion,” they said – or else dodged it.

When questions were asked about this in Parliament, the Home Secretary was truculent and defiant. When he said that it had been arranged that an address was to be given “by the spirit of a dead man,” and that a collection would be taken, M.P.s roared with laughter.

Little did they know, but the Duncan case had caused such a scare about the Witchcraft Act that two printers who had read about the illegality of mediumship were afraid to print a pamphlet dealing with the subject and planned for distribution in the Commons. One suddenly got cold feet even after he had set up the type.

You saw, no doubt, many comic headlines in the newspapers during the Duncan case. You did not know that it might be destined to rank, one day, with the trial of Socrates, who was condemned to death because he said he had a spirit guide, and with the conviction of Joan of Arc because she obeyed spirit voices, that, remembering Helen Duncan’s conviction, Spiritualists recalled Rome’s threat to torture Galileo, whom it forced to recant, because he said the sun did not move round the earth.

The fact that Helen Duncan is a fat Scotswoman of working-class origin and with a desire to earn more money as a medium than we thought wise for her, does not affect the issue. She had demonstrated to countless numbers of people all over the land that it was possible for the spirits of the dead to materialise, that they need not rely on so-called “resurrection” because of an unproved, and contradictory, story of how Jesus returned from the grave, but that they could test it for themselves.

No fewer than 300 of these were prepared to give evidence at the Old Bailey trial. Actually, 40 of them did so. They included people belonging to all the Services, and various learned professions – a medical officer, a lawyer, one of the best-known Scottish journalists, a sanitary inspector, an electrical draughtsman, and a Church of England clergyman.

For three days, these described how full materialisations of relatives and friends had taken place at Helen Duncan séances, and that they were satisfied about the genuineness of her powers.

Yet, time after time, Treasury counsel held up the cheesecloth or butter-muslin, as some called it, and said, “Wasn’t it like this?

Then I arrived in the witness-box. You must realise that I had nothing to gain, but, although one of the most famous journalists in the country, I was risking obloquy and scorn. Yet Truth is Truth, and you have to stand for it.

“You are also, I believe, a dramatic critic,” said C. E. Loseby, counsel for the defence.

“I was, unfortunately,” I replied.

“Unfortunate for whom?” asked the Recorder.

“For me, my Lord,” I said. “I had to sit through it.”

I did not know until I turned him up in “Who’s Who” that he had once been a playwright of sorts, part author of “Rebel Maid.” You can guess what authors of humorous musical plays think of me!

Well, I told the Court that for over 20 years I had investigated psychic phenomena of every kind and type, and in many countries, and that the purpose of my investigation was: “It is my duty to tell people the truth about the survival of their beloved dead.” Then, saying how I had sat perhaps half a dozen times with Mrs. Duncan under test conditions, I explained to legal high-ups who thought ectoplasm was a piece of cheesecloth that it was exuded from mediums through the mucous membranes, the solar plexus, the ears and the nostrils, that it appeared to be a living substance, that I had seen it perhaps 50 times and that, in the case of Helen Duncan, it resembled “living snow.”

“When was the last time?” the Recorder asked.

“Since this case was sent for trial,” I replied.

The point of this was that, between Portsmouth and the Old Bailey, we had made a rigid test of Helen Duncan’s powers and that the results were so extraordinary that C. E. Loseby, who was present, said at the end, “I am so impressed that I will tell the Court I am willing to allow the medium to demonstrate her powers in open court, and in broad daylight.”

Yet the Recorder decided that all evidence about this test must be ruled out “since it would be under a cloud.”

Before this test sitting, two women took Mrs. Duncan into a room, stripped her stark naked, dressed her only in a loose black garment – the reason for this was that the ectoplasm was white – and then brought her, in our sight, into the séance room. There she went into a trance in a red light in which we could see everything that happened.

Albert, her guide, began: “Something has been said about a sheet. I will show it to you.” Immediately we saw a large mass of ectoplasm, probably eight feet long and six feet wide. This was what the police had called a sheet!

Then, to prove the genuineness of the ectoplasm, the medium moved half across the room, the living substance becoming a sort of rope which lengthened as she moved further away.

Yet all this was ruled out, as, later, was every scrap of evidence sworn to by witnesses who had sat with Mrs. Duncan all over the country. Nor was she allowed to give a test in court. “That would be in the nature of a trial by ordeal,” said the Recorder.

Surely if a woman who is accused of “a pretence at conjuring up the spirits of dead persons” offers to produce them in open court – well, what more can she do? But even if she did so, she would still be guilty under the law of Britain.

“Could the ectoplasm be mistaken for butter-muslin?” Loseby asked me.

 “Anyone who described it as butter-muslin would be a child,” I replied. “Besides, under red light, butter- muslin would turn yellow or pink. How could a red light make that kind of material take on a living whiteness?

Then I had to explain to a Recorder ignorant of ectoplasm, how it reacted to light, how the actinic qualities of light which retard photographic processes also affect ectoplasm. More, I had to tell how, the first time I sat with Mrs. Duncan, someone foolishly shone a light on the medium with the result that the séance had to be stopped and that then we discovered the medium was bleeding furiously at the nose.

I also produced a document signed by four magicians after I had taken them along to test Mrs. Duncan. They had tied her up with 40 yards of sash-cord, they said in their agreed statement, handcuffed her, and tied her two thumbs so close together with thick thread that it cut into the flesh. Although it had taken eight minutes for Will Goldston, a professional magician, to tie up the medium, her guide freed her from the cord, the thread and the handcuffs in three minutes.

As a dramatic critic I ridiculed, in the witness-box, the idea that Mrs. Duncan could impersonate Albert, her guide.

Yet, in his summing-up, the only thing said by the Recorder about my evidence was: “All that Mr Swaffer said was to contradict some of the others, not altogether to be wondered at.”

I did not contradict any of the others, for I was talking of séances at which they had not been present, and they were talking of sittings which I had not attended.

Besides, the Recorder seemed to have forgotten that I so smashed the case for the cheesecloth theory that never again, after I left the box, was it held up or referred to.


I remembered how I could have killed the regurgitation theory, had the evidence been allowed, by producing a doctor’s certificate that Mrs. Duncan had a normal stomach and so could not regurgitate, and also X-Ray photographs proving that her stomach was normal. These, I held up in vain. These were not “evidence.”

Then, Treasury counsel, jumping at my remark that I had seen every possible test applied to Helen Duncan, asked if we had applied the electrical controls used by Harry Price when Rudi Schneider, the Austrian medium, came to London.

Treasury counsel did not know, but I was present the first time that test was applied, I sat with Sir James Dunn and Lord Charles Hope, in Harry Price’s laboratory, where the so-called electrical test was used – and I said so.

When counsel tried to force the point that this was the kind of test he had been hinting at all the time, I replied that it was not a real test and that, on the occasion I referred to, I was compelled to point out to the psychical researchers how silly it was.  For instance,” I said, “Price’s secretary was walking about the room.”

“Was she covered with phosphorus?” asked counsel.

“No, she was not,” I said.

Then, when the Crown asked whether Mrs. Duncan had ever been tested with a coloured pill – this would prove regurgitation if it occurred – I said “Yes, we tried even that.”

You can scarce believe it, but, only a few months after the King had asked all the nation to pray, Treasury counsel, referring to the fact that séances are often opened with prayer, asked: “Would not prayer make the sitters more receptive?”

“Would prayer make people receptive to the sight of a bus?” I jeered.

Besides, many people are Agnostics. Sometimes this court opens with prayer.”

Why, even the House of Commons opens with prayer. Does that make Winston Churchill credulous?

Well, we came back to the cheesecloth. This, I explained, would be merely a soggy and stained mess if brought up from the stomach.

May I try to swallow the cheesecloth?” I sneered, wishing to show that it could not be done; for it was hard and stiff.

“We will not reduce the Court to the level of an exhibition,” said the Recorder, reprovingly.

“Why have you got it here?” I asked counsel. “We tried to get Harry Price to try to swallow it. Never have I heard such nonsense – until Price invented this new lunacy of the cheesecloth. It is all a silly invention of his.”

That ended the cheesecloth bunk!

Counsel, coming back to Mrs. Duncan’s nose-bleeding, then asked, Did you examine her nose?”

“I looked at it,” I said. “What else does one do but look at a nose which is bleeding? Besides, I am a trained observer. My word is taken when I report other things.”

“Aren’t you a Spiritualist with fixed opinions?” said counsel, suggesting, 1 suppose, I would defend any psychic fraud.

 Yes,” I replied. “My opinions are fixed because they are based on evidence which is incontrovertible.”

“When you were a dramatic critic,” pressed counsel, “did other critics agree with you?”

“Criticism is not a matter of fact,” I retorted, but a matter of opinion.’’

Then counsel sat down, looking tired. And I stamped out of the court.

Well, having been refused a chance to demonstrate her powers in court, Mrs. Duncan was sent to prison for nine months; the Court of Appeal refused to reverse the judgment; and then the Attorney-General denied us leave to take the case to the House of Lords, saying, it is not a matter of sufficient public importance.”

Shortly afterwards, General Eisenhower promised the people of Germany that they would have religious freedom. But we Spiritualists have not got it!

Why, at Redhill, nine months after the Duncan case, the police banned mediumship in the borough!

A few weeks later, I met Herbert Morrison (Home Secretary) in the Ivy Restaurant. We had a friendly argument about my various criticisms of him. Then, at the end, he said, with a grin, “Well, I’ll see you on the Other Side.”

“Herbert,” I replied, “you are on the other side.”

Since then Morrison has changed his mind. A deputation of M.P.’s led by Clement Davies, who spoke for all the Liberal Party, went to see him to explain the disabilities suffered by Spiritualists.

In consequence, Morrison went so far as to say – and this was only a few weeks after he denied that we suffered any – that he understood our grievances, and that it should not be found impossible, when Parliament had time, to get through a non-controversial Bill guaranteeing Spiritualists their religious freedom.

Gordon Higginson

Gordon Higginson, though unable to speak the language, succeeded in giving remarkable clairvoyance, complete with full names, on a visit to Liege, Belgium in 1953.

For over an hour, at this his first visit, he triumphed over the language difficulty despite the fact that, following Continental practice, there were no hymns, music or prayers.

Indicating a woman in the front of the audience, the medium said: “I have a young girl in spirit here giving her name as Arlette. Can you place her?”

There was some hesitation on the part of the recipient and Gordon continued. “A-R-L-E-T-T-E,’ spelling the name.

Before the woman could reply, he added, “You must know this girl. She is Arlette Van der Houte.”

This was immediately accepted.

“I get the date May 8, 1949, in connection with this girl. I feel it had a great significance for her. Did she die on that day?”


“I asked that as I am getting a feeling of going to a church and I see Arlette robed in white and that date is strongly linked with this.”

“Yes, that is right. It was an important date in her life; on that day she took her first communion.”

“I am now hearing the word Jemeppe. I have another entity who is giving the name Raymond . . . and now Lucienne . . . and Rue de Serbie. This Raymond is related to you by marriage and his name is Raymond Biquet.”

“Correct. Raymond lives at Jemeppe and I understand the Rue de Serbie.”

There followed personal messages intended to help the woman regarding her health and domestic affairs.

Gordon continued: “Both Raymond and Arlette are asking whether you have a piece of jewellery in your handbag which normally would be suspended on a chain. They are not sure where it is, but if it is not in your bag then it is at home in a drawer in a piece of furniture (which he described). If you look in that drawer, you will not only find this piece of jewellery, but also a small photo of the young girl in white, Arlette.”

At this, the woman became excited and exclaimed. “Yes, yes, yes, that is perfectly right.”

To a man at the back of the hall, Higginson said, “I have a spirit who gives the name of Minet. I am also getting the name of Georges.”

“I can place those names.”

“This man is telling me that his name is Georges Leon Minet, that he was interested in insurance and that he was a director.”

“That is quite right.”

“He now tells me that he lives at the Quai de Boverie.”

“Yes, he lived there and I knew him very well.”

Then followed a message relating to the business circumstances of the gentleman with the usual assurance of continued interest from the spirit friends.

Choosing another man, the medium told him: “I have on the platform a spirit who tells me that he knows you and that his name is Monseur Fontaine.”

“Yes, I knew him.”

“He tells me that he is connected with Rue de la Resistance.”


“He now talks about a prison.”

“Quite correct.”

“He tells me that he knew your son very well.”

“Quite correct.”

“He tells me that the name of the road has been changed and that formerly it was called Rue du Nord.”

” Correct; it was Rue de Nord when the communicator was here and the name has been changed to Rue de la Resistance since his passing.”

“He tells me that you frequently pass in front of his house, that it is the first past the prison and that it is No. 1.”

“That is perfectly correct.”

Next came these messages to a woman: “I have a spirit here who tells me that his name was Georges Nicolas, that he was killed in the war and that he lived at the side of St. Barthelemy.”

“Yes, I knew him.”

“You have a prayer book, or some similar little book, which is ornamented in colours and was given to you by your mother. You make a habit of keeping pressed flowers between certain of the pages.”


Breaking off, the medium picked out a man in another part of the hall and asked, “Is there not a link between you and the woman I have just been talking to?”

” Yes, she is my daughter.”

“You have a shop in St. Barthelemv.”

“Yes, I have long had a shop there.”

“Between the church and the prison.”


“From this spirit I am getting the name of Driess.”

” He was my neighbour.”

“And also Longree.”

“That is the name of a road adjoining.”

“And Feronstree.”

“That is the name of the road where I live.”

“You must live at number 161.”


“He is now giving the name of Paul Janson,”

“That is the name of the square at St. Barthelemy.”

“I have now the spirit of a woman who tells me that she was Mrs James and that she knew you.”

“That is possible.”

“She tells me that you used to visit her.”

“That is possible.”

She tells me you have a cake shop and that next to it is a high-class fruiterer. Your house has two letter boxes and also at the windows are green shutters.”

” Correct.”

Then rather excitedly, Gordon said, “She is calling out the name of Jacques.”

“That is my name.”

Another woman was told: “I have here a spirit who gives me the name of Petry Dabin. I get Louis … Leon … rue Robertson near the station Longdoz.”

“This spirit tells me he knows you and that you him.”

“Did you not go, quite recently, to a very impressive funeral? On that occasion, did not meet a Monsieur Dabin near Longdoz Station? Was it not on the side of a bridge? You have to cross that bridge to get to your home. He is talking of Rue Waleffe.”

“That is a road very close to my home,” said the woman who had acknowledged the correctness of the medium’s messages.

“He tells me that someone is ill in your home, and that you are frightened as to the outcome.”

“The object of Petry Dabin coming is his message of hope. There will be no death in your home.”

“He now calls out the name of Demet.”

“That is my name.”

“This man sends you his love . . . Rue Robertson Number 38.” – “that is my address.”

“He is talking of painting.”

“That is my husband’s profession.”

It is no wonder, in view of these spirit messages, that the enthusiasm of the meeting mounted to fever heat.





MORE THAN 100 NAMES AND 28 ADDRESSES – A Remarkable Feat of Evidence

What must be a justifiable claim to the highest number of names and addresses ever given through a medium during a single public demonstration can surely be made by Gordon Higginson.

Demonstrating at the Longton Town Hall recently, where more than 300 people failed to gain admission, he relayed no fewer than 52 full names, 49 christian names and 28 complete addresses.

Besides this remarkable psychic faculty, Higginson was often instrumental in linking friends and relatves in the audience who were sitting in different parts of the hall.  His evidence was given in a long string of facts, presented with devastating accuracy.

To a woman at the back of the hall, he said there was a young man with her who passed away quickly and tragically.  “He is calling mother” said Higginson “and he tells me you are a stranger here but he has been to you often.  He says his name is Booth and he was killed in the Coventry Blitz.  He was a fireman.”

“He has met his father” continued the medium, “and they are both sorry you have left the old house in Broad Street.  Your son says he lived there.  They have both met Auntie Gertie, and your son remembers the uncle he visited in Stanyer Street, also your sister Emily.”

Higginson went on to speak of the kindness the woman had shown to her family by giving them her little home in Broad Street and today she had nothing left.  The husband and son had both returned tonight, declared Higginson, to prove that they had been watching over her.

At this stage, another facet of Higginson’s mediumship came into play, and indicating another woman seated at the front he inquired if she knew a Colin Morgan and Ron Bould who lived at 10 Broad Street.  The woman said she did and also acknowledged the earlier communicators named Booth.

Two brothers who had passed tragically, one in a road accident and the other by drowning, returned to greet their mother.

Having established contact with the mother and remarking that both sons met tragic ends, Higginson said:

“I can see a road accident with a bicycle with the younger one and water with the other.  They tell me that they are brothers and their name is Bryan.  They lived in Edwards Street, and they are asking for Emma Bryan, Thomas Charles Bryan and Edwin and Elsie.”

Number 55, apparently the address of a house was also mentioned.

The mother, overcome by emotion, paused awhile before replying.  Then she announced: “I am their mother.  My name is Emma Bryan.  Tom Charles is my husband, Edwin is my other son and Elsie is his wife.  One son was drowned” she explained “and the younger one was killed on a bicycle.  It is all true.”

As though this were not sufficient, the medium continued “They have met Mrs Wilshaw who liked to visit the pub at the top of the street.  They also speak of Mrs Proctor.”

Then Higginson’s ability to link people in various parts of the hall manifested again.  He indicated a woman in another section of the hall and requested her to stand.  Then he asked Mrs Bryan to stand and said, “Do you two ladies know each other.  I have seen the two young men walk over to you and say ‘this lady is a neighbour of ours.  We can see her back yard from our house.’ “

To a gasp of amazement from the audience, the woman agreed that she knew the two boys and lived only two doors from Mrs Bryan.

Mrs Bryan told reporters later that the evidence was amazing.