By Maurice Barbanell
NOBODY knows exactly how direct voice is produced. Perhaps the explanation involves concepts of time and space that are beyond our understanding, which is limited to happenings in three dimensions.
When I once asked Red Cloud, the guide of Estelle Roberts, who in my long experience has produced the most evidential voice communications, how the results were obtained, he did so, but I could not understand it. I had his description reported verbatim, which I have read many times, but am still unable to comprehend the mechanics of this form of mediumship. It may be that varying methods are used with different mediums.
One of its most intriguing aspects is that it is “catching.” After Frank Decker, the American voice medium, had visited our home circle, he advised us to put a trumpet in the circle at the next séance, saying that he thought that sufficient “power” would be left behind to provide an impetus for us. We followed his advice and, sure enough, it happened. The trumpet, on which we had placed luminous paint, rose from the ground. That was the beginning of our own direct-voice phenomena which continued regularly thereafter.
Similarly Dennis Bradley, after many séances in his home with George Valiantine, another excellent medium, developed his own voice mediumship which functioned successfully and regularly. Once he said to Hannen Swaffer, who attended all these séances, “Do you realise that you and I know more about the direct voice than anybody living today?” Swaffer replied, “I don’t know what you know, but all I know is that I sit on a chair in the dark and we hear voices.”
Not even the communicators are able to explain in a manner that we can understand what they do to make themselves heard seeing that they no longer possess the power of speech or the physical equipment connected with it. I remember a communicator who, on being asked how he spoke, replied that he went into a kind of box and did the equivalent of our shouting into a hole, and we seemed to hear him.
In Arthur Findlay’s book, “On the Edge of the Etheric”, which features outstandingly successful voice sittings, there is an explanation by the mediums guide. He said that ectoplasm, to which other ingredients were added, was used to construct a mask resembling the mouth and tongue into which the communicator placed his face and created something similar to his old voice. No clue was given as to what these other ingredients were. Nor was it explained how this process of materialising the voice was actually done.
It may be, as this guide said, we shall never know until we pass on. Obviously something similar to a human larynx has to be constructed in order that non-physical beings can produce physical results. Obviously, too, most of the “power,” whatever that may be, is drawn from the medium.
In 40 years’ experience of psychic phenomena, I have never come across any more evidential than the sustained results we obtained with Estelle Roberts. Red Cloud was always superb in his production of irrefutable evidence. Yet even when I recognised the distinctive intonation in a friend’s voice when he communicated, I could detect traces of what sounded like Estelle’s voice.
The technique in this form of communication must be difficult. You could tell from the movements of the trumpet before any voice was heard whether the spirit speaker was a beginner or an expert. With novices it was uncertain, inclined to wobble and dropped at the end of their talk with a bang. With experienced speakers it rose vertically with great speed, and when they had finished it gracefully and silently returned to the floor.
Sir Henry Segrave, who said that the technique was far more difficult than his motor racing, could, at first, only stammer out a few words with silences in between them. After a few months, so perfect was his mastery, that the trumpet would move over to his wife’s ear while he whispered into it and maintained a long conversation.
Not only did communicators have to learn the process but sitters had to acquire some understanding. According to Red Cloud, before communicators were allowed to return at his séances he drilled and rehearsed them in what they were going to say, to make sure that what they said was unmistakable evidence of their identity. Thus we were told always to encourage them to speak and never to bark questions like, “Who are you?” “Whom do you want?” “When did you die?” which inhibited results.
At Estelle’s voice séances we always played the same gramophone record with its tunes from “Rose Marie,” the musical comedy. Red Cloud, who should know, said that these musical vibrations helped. Awkward silences by self-conscious newcomers would be a deterrent. Before each communication we were encouraged to chat among ourselves, while the record played.
Then would come Red Cloud’s voice, “Hold on,” and we stopped chatting, the music was made softer, while another visitor broke the silence of death.
The séances were always held in complete darkness. Occasionally when a chink of light could be seen coming through the door, Red Cloud would ask that this be covered. I have heard some Spiritualists say that the darkness was unnecessary and that similar results could be obtained in red or blue light. When I put this point to Red Cloud he replied, “You give me the conditions and I will produce the results.” No fault could be found with this logic.
In varying degrees of red light, with other mediums, I have heard spirit voices either through a trumpet or seemingly independent, coming out of space in different parts of the room. On rare occasions, the medium, not in trance, as is usual, would converse with communicators.
In America they have a variation of this phenomenon in what they call solar-plexus voice mediumship. Hazel Ridley demonstrated it in Britain on one visit from the USA. I have heard this voice phenomenon several times and frequently in good artificial light or daylight. The voice seemed to emanate from the direction of the medium’s solar plexus, but a few inches away from it, and you could carry on a conversation with it. A curious feature is that most of the mediums who developed this form of mediumship were either born or developed in the region of Niagara Falls. Was it the rushing water that produced the necessary power? I do not know.
When it is efficiently developed, direct voice is perhaps the most satisfactory form of spirit communication, especially when you obtain it in your own home. Alas, in this age of speed and bustle, when too many people are trying to get nowhere faster, so few have the patience, as the Hodges of Brighton did for many years, to sit, week after week, to unfold this priceless gift, so dramatic in piercing the iron curtain of death.
HUMAN DRAMAS AT A DIRECT VOICE SEANCE
By Maurice Barbanell
“I want to talk to my wife. I am William Reane . . .”
“Don’t you know me, Nellie darling? It is Mowbray . . .”
“I want to speak to my husband. I am Mary Sharpe . . .”
“I want to talk to my husband, Florence Eyles speaking . . .”
“Father, it is Jack Waddington speaking . . .”
“I am Arthur Wilcox . . .”
THESE were the opening statements made by the spirit voices when they spoke at a Red Cloud Direct Voice circle. The medium was Estelle Roberts.
The evidence that came through proved that life goes on, and, where suitable instruments can be found, the “dead” return to speak to those whom they knew here.
The seance began with Jackie, who generally is the first to speak after Red Cloud has announced his presence. He was followed by a voice which said, “I want to talk to my wife. I am William Reane.”
“Darling, is that really you speaking?” he was asked.
“Listen,” the spirit voice replied. Do you remember we said that, if I could get back, I should tell you about the daisy chains. You filled my hands with daisies in the coffin.”
“Yes, I did,” confirmed the sitter. “Oh! how wonderful.”
“Thank Dorothy for all she has done for me,” asked the voice. “I am happy that you published my poems.”
“I am so glad you know about them,” exclaimed his wife.
Then the spirit voice of the husband gave her another piece of evidence. “Tell me about Chloe,” he said.
“Do you mean our dog?” asked the sitter, in amazement.
“Yes, of course,” was the reply.
“I want you to know,” the voice went on, “that I am quite happy. You said if I could only give you the symbol of the daisy chain.”
“I put daisies in his hands in his coffin,” volunteered the sitter. “How wonderful he should remember.”
The next communication was full of evidence. There was present in the séance room a woman whose son had returned at an earlier seance to thank Lady Segrave for some help she had given his mother. When he spoke this time, he gave his mother scores of proofs of his survival. Every time she referred to his death, he pulled her up. She corrected herself by saying, “I beg your pardon. I mean since you left me.”
Just before he went, she said, “Goodbye” but he insisted that it was only to be “Au revoir.”
“Nellie,” called the next voice. “Don’t you know me, darling? It is Mowbray. I have May here with me – my sister.”
“I know,” was the answer. “Give her my love.”
“It is wonderful to hear your voice again, after all these years,” the spirit voice continued.
Then he gave more evidence. “Do you remember we were only together ten days, and then – death?”
“Yes,” was the answer. “On our honeymoon.”
The voice of the spirit husband comforted her, but she assured him that she was “happier than I have been for years and years.”
“Do you know who else is here with me?” her “dead” husband asked “Wait a minute while I go out and let him speak to you. Don’t be unhappy, he added. “You have been my bride all your life.” The sound of kisses was heard coming through the trumpet.
“It has been simply wonderful to see you, darling,” the sitter told him.
“God bless you, my darling bride,” was his answer.
Then, as often happens, Red Cloud volunteered further evidence. Addressing the wife, he said, “He tells me he died of typhoid fever.”
“Yes, quite right,” was the sitter’s reply.
The next voice announced itself as “Father, Father William.” He was very excited, and dropped the trumpet for a few minutes. There seemed to be some confusion.
Soon he spoke again. “I want my daughter. Just a moment, and I will make myself known. My wife’s name is Louisa Teresa. My brother’s name is Henry. My sister is Amelia. My other sister is Connie, and the other one is Emily.”
“Now,” he asked, “have I made myself clear’?”
“Yes, wonderfully clear,” was the answer.
“It is many years since I spoke to you,” the spirit voice went on. “I have not come for long, but I wanted make it clear who I was.”
The next spirit voice announced itself as “Bert,” and asked for his wife.
He told her of the spirits who were with him, giving their names as Gladys, my dear little girl,” and added that “Charlie and Tim are here with me.”
He asked for his love to be given to someone named Evie, and promised to come back and talk again some day.
“I want to speak to my husband,” said the next spirit communicator. “I am Mary Sharpe. I am trying to speak to you, dear, but it is not easy.”
‘Come and try,” said her husband. ‘I am trying. . . . You know why I wanted to speak so badly today.”
“I would like to hear you say why,” sitter said.
“Because it is my daughter’s birthday,” the reply came, clearly and distinctly.
“Yes, that is good,” acknowledged sitter. “That is very clever of you to hit on that, because no one knew about it here. . . . I wanted you to bring something like that, that no one knew only ourselves.”
“Yes,” the spirit wife replied, “I told you who I am.”
“Yes, but I am going to be very strict with you. You told me to insist upon proof.” So she gave him some more proofs.
“You know, dear, I was only twenty-eight when I died,” she said. “I died with appendicitis and peritonitis.”
“That is quite right.”
“Have I got to prove any more’?” asked the spirit voice.
“No,” was the reply. “I think you have given splendid proof.” In spite of that, she told him, “I have been here about twenty years.”
“Your daughter is a young woman now,” her husband said. “I suppose you are as proud of her as I am.”
“As proud as I am of you,” was the spirit’s reply. “I love you always. I tried hard, as I did not want you to go away disappointed.”
“I should have been disappointed,” husband told her, “but I should have known that there was no fault on your side.”
Then there came a voice which said, “I want to speak to my husband. I am Florence Eyles speaking.”
“Do you recognize me, Flo’?” she was asked.
“Of course I do,” came the reply. “That is my husband. . . Tell me, how is Tornmy?” she asked. Then she enquired after Pat, Gladys, Maurice, and said, “Those are my children.”
She gave her husband some advice about her daughters, and told him that she heard his prayers every night.
“Don’t you worry about me,” she insisted. “I am happy, as long as you are. I will stick it out if you do.”
Before the spirit wife left, she told her husband, “Don’t you worry about Pat. I will look after her and guide her.”
“That is what I ask you to do every night,” her husband said.
“I know you do,” was the reply. “It is no easy task to leave a man with two boys and two girls.”
The spirit voice that followed spoke to a clergyman, who was seated next to me.
“Father,” the spirit voice said. “It is Jack Waddington speaking.”
“It is wonderful to hear you, my boy.”
“Is it not wonderful to hear them all, Father’?” his son asked. “Give my love to mother.. . .I was with you on your birthday, a few days ago. . . . I want you to know that I am helping you.”
The father was overjoyed at his son’s return. There was another surprise in store for him, for the spirit son told him, “I have a friend here who wishes to speak to you, Father. Just hold on a moment.”
Then we heard, “Most difficult, and yet I am making a big effort tonight.”
“Is that my friend’?” asked the clergyman.
The spirit then gave his name, “The Rev. Alexander White. I have come here tonight to make myself known to you, because I am inspiring you in your work for God and humanity.”
“Were you at Edinburgh’?” asked the clergyman.
“I was,” came the reply. “I have also been described to you by a medium.”
“Where was it you were described to me’?” he was asked.
“ Somewhere near the sea,” came the answer. “I want you to know that I am with you when you read my book, and I shall help you in all your work. Do not be afraid of truth.”
“I loved your writings and sermons,” the sitter volunteered.
“I am happy to have this great privilege of speaking to you,” the spirit answered. “God will watch over you and yours, if you will do your work for God and Man.”
Before he went, he pronounced his benediction, “May the great God keep you within his presence.”
“It is the great Alexander White,” the clergyman told me. “One of Scotland’s finest preachers.”
“I am Arthur Wilcox speaking,” announced the next spirit voice.
“Hullo, Lil,” he added, attracting the attention of the sitter to whom he was speaking. “Do you know who is here with me tonight’? . . . I have had a deuce of a job to keep him quiet – my brother Tom.”
He made several enquiries after friends, named George and Alice, and volunteered the information that “I was with you when you had the operation. I was quite close all the time.”
“I know,” he was told. “I could not have got through without that knowledge.”
He sent his love to his “two kiddies.”
“You know,” he added, “I had to be a soldier. I had to fight.. . .I thought I was doing the right thing.”
When he had gone we were told that it was the first time he had spoken, and that he had passed over eighteen years ago.
The spirit voice that followed confirmed that he had appeared on a spirit photograph which had been taken recently. He sent a message to someone named Margaret, whom he wanted to thank for allowing him to speak through her.
The next voice addressed a woman seated close to me, whom I learned was an old Spiritualist. He gave her a symbol and encouraged her in a new venture she had recently undertaken.
He was immediately followed by a spirit voice who announced that she was this woman’s sister-in-law. She cleared up some difficulties connected with a will, which she explained had troubled her.
“I want to speak to Bill ——-,said the next spirit voice, asking for a friend of mine who had only recently become interested in Spiritualism.
The voice gave its nickname as “Digger,” and was delighted because of her success in coming through.
“Go back and tell my daughters I have spoken,” she said. “Please be sure and tell Ethel I am not part of her subconscious mind. Tell Daisy I am very much alive, and want to get into contact with her.”
She indicated that she knew all that was happening around him, and even suggested that he might name a new boat after her.
She had tried to speak at a previous seance, but had failed to get through, and was very proud of her achievement on this occasion.
Used as I am to the high standard of evidence obtained in Red Cloud’s circle, I was astonished at the amount of proof which was received by those present.
Words are inadequate to describe the drama in some of the conversations, the humour, the pathos, in fact, the humanness of it all.
For nearly two hours, death had been defeated, and the voices of the living “dead” had spoken to their loved ones and friends.