The mediumship of Bertie Lilly Candler
ALTHOUGH you may not believe it, Bertie Lilly Candler was afraid of the first spirit she ever saw. But this is understandable because she was only six years old at the time.
Many children who see spirit people at such an early age lose their mediumship as they grow older, but Bertie Lilly’s continued to develop until today she is the happy possessor of many phases of mental and physical mediumship.
When she was a little girl, however, she had only the clairvoyant phase and she always was frightened whenever a spirit would appear to her. She didn’t know what they were, but was old enough to realize that they were not earthly human beings. Her fear was caused more by not knowing just what she saw than by the actual sight itself. And so it is with most of us.
She was unable to get much help in understanding the visions which came to her. So for years she continued to see spirit people and to be afraid of them and what they might mean. Although of course they meant her no harm whatsoever, hers were many years of terror at the “spectres” which she saw. But she had the courage to continue her search to find out the meaning of these visions and her mediumship developed into an outstanding one.
One of the greatest experiences of Bertie Lilly’s life came when she was in her teens. She still did not know about Spiritualism and the many possibilities and useful truths which it contains. One day she saw a vision. A spirit appeared before her and began to talk to her.
“Your brother, Howard, is going to pass out on the sixth of December at 7:45 a.m. “this spirit said.
Her brother was alive and well. She couldn’t understand why these words were spoken to her. The spirit disappeared without another word.
At 7:45 on the sixth of December Howard passed away.
Three weeks later he appeared to her! And he began to speak— “Tell mother not to grieve. I am happy and living over here,” were his words.
Howard’s was the first death in her family, and of course it was a great shock. But his appearance to Bertie Lilly and the words he spoke were a comfort which gave new hope to the family. But still, it was a voice from the unknown and was not understandable.
Then Bertie Lilly went to her minister. She was a Methodist and thought that the pastor of her church might be able to help her. He gave her as liberal and understanding an answer as any orthodox minister could.
He said, “Your being a Christian girl, probably the Lord has sent His angel to guard you in the form of your brother.”
But this answer did not satisfy her. She felt there must be some further explanation of such phenomena. So she left the church and continued her search for truth in other channels. Her brother’s coming to her took away some of the fear that had been with her for so many years. He was someone she knew and could recognize and trust. She knew that he wouldn’t come to her if it was wrong or something to fear. She searched until she learned about Spiritualism and mediumship. Howard continued to come to her, and today he is her main guide.
Bertie Lilly Candler is best known for her work as a materialization medium. She has other phases, too, trance, trumpet and independent voice. She has practiced her mediumship since 1919. She is a member of the International General Assembly of Spiritualists, and since 1927 has been pastor of the Beckoning Light Church in Miami, Florida.
When I asked her what suggestions she would offer to students who are sitting for development, she replied that, “First of all, a person seeking development should study under a good teacher.”
She feels that the guidance obtained in this way will shorten the time of development by years. She did not have the opportunity of sitting in a developing class during much of her own unfoldment period. She was forced to learn many things for herself which might have been given to her much more quickly through the experience of a competent teacher. Even after she had obtained much of her mediumship, she was so anxious for class work that she did not at all mind sitting with people who were not nearly as advanced in the work as she was. It was during this period that she sat in a class conducted by Mable Riffle, whom she considers an outstanding teacher of physical mediumship.
“But there is much more to it,” she said, “than just sitting in class.” In the first place, a person’s desire for mediumship should be activated by the right motive. Mediumship for selfish gain is as great a sin as violation of any of the Commandments. She believes that those who always try to do the right thing and live a clean life will find that a better mediumship will be their reward.
Bertie Lilly Candler is enthusiastic about the possibilities of mediumship which have not as yet been tapped. She knows, through her own experiences, that there is a great field for workers in Spiritualism; that many localities suffer from a lack of properly trained sensitives. Because of her understanding of this need, she was glad to offer her suggestions to those who are attempting to develop materialization as their phase of mediumship.
The development of trance mediumship is the first step in attaining the phase of materialization. The sitter should use the usual materialization cabinet consisting of two black curtains hung across a corner of the séance room so as to open in the center. At least one other person should be in attendance outside the cabinet. A larger group will assist in furnishing a greater power with which to produce the manifestation.
The student must sit inside the cabinet in a relaxed state, entirely unconscious of his own body or mental emotions. In entering the trance state, some of her own students have had the sensation of sinking, as though going down in water. Others seem to contract their objective consciousness within themselves, and some seem to rise above their bodies or walk out of them. You may recognize any of these sensations from your experiences in development.
“Losing yourself in trance is of prime importance to the student who is trying to develop materialization,” says Bertie Lilly Candler. The student actually must lose his own consciousness in entering the trance state. This enables the spirit operators to control the manifestation to the fullest extent.
Do not be afraid of allowing the guides to control you. The law of attraction is such that you will attract to yourself guides who are of a character and ability comparable to your own. Like attracts like, good is attracted to good and bad to bad. If you have lived so that you have attracted to yourself guides of a high standard of character, then you have nothing to fear at all. These guides return to you for the purpose of manifesting through you and helping other spirit people to do so. They are trained for it, and will see that no harm comes to you.
In entering trance, breathing is important. The breath should be even and regular, not forced in any way. A rhythmic breathing exercise should be practiced regularly. Mentally, you can direct the breath to the psychic centers of the body which correspond in location to the physical glands. The best point of concentration for this life essence of the breath is near the solar plexus region.
After you have directed the breath to this region for a few moments, then sit relaxed and await the sensations previously mentioned. A word of warning is important here. Do not overdo the exercise of directing the breath. This is nothing to play with. Though you may not realize it, you are dealing with a powerful force when you direct the psychic qualities of the air to a psychic center. If overdone, harmful and even disastrous stimulation of a psychic nature might result. It is similar to electricity. Controlled in the wires of our homes it is of much benefit to us. But, uncontrolled as in lightning, or in a short circuit, it is an agent of destruction.
Materialization of the spirit body is produced from a substance known as ectoplasm. Ectoplasm is the spiritual counterpart of protoplasm, of which your physical body is formed. Spirit operators use the ectoplasmic body of the medium, and spirit people materialize to your sight through its use. This accounts for the fact that there are times when the materialized spirit has some of the medium’s features, just as the Christ looked like the gardener to Mary when she first saw him.
The ectoplasmic body exists in the intercellular spaces of the medium’s body. In vibration it is halfway between physical and spiritual. It is physical enough to be seen by the physical eye and spiritual enough to be used by a spirit person.
The medium must project this ectoplasmic body from his own in order that its substance might be used by the spirit. It is further drawn by the magnetism of the sitters. Then the spirit is clothed with astral substance, drawn from all the physical substance in the room, such as the sitters’ clothing, furniture, flowers, and so on.
As ectoplasm is affected by the physical body of the medium, Bertie Lilly Candler recommends that every student of materialization be especially careful in caring for his body. In general, ordinary rules of diet should be followed. However, she believes that those foods which partake less of a physical nature are most beneficial. Of course this should not be carried to extremes so that loss of physical energy results.
A materialization medium needs a great deal of energy. The drain and strain on his body is unusually high. Mediums of this type have been placed on scales and their weight checked while a spirit is manifesting through their mediumship. They have become lighter by as much as twenty-five pounds taking substance of this weight from the medium cannot help but cause much strain and loss of energy.
Proper exercise also is necessary. Bertie Lilly likes to play golf. There are several reasons for her preference for this kind of exercise besides pure enjoyment of the game and the physical exercise it affords. In the first place it takes you out of doors where you can breathe the purest of air. Taking in this air helps to fill your body with all the psychic energy which the air contains. And then it brings you in close contact with the ground, from which you can assimilate a certain type of magnetism helpful to the manifestation of materialization. The taking in of these substances is done without conscious effort on your part. The body simply recharges itself when coming in contact with them.
Bertie Lilly Candler first became interested in Spiritualism in 1918. She was living in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time. One night her sister-in-law appeared to her in a vision. The sister-in-law was living in the Deep South, and Bertie Lilly did not even know she had been ill.
She later learned that the sister-in-law had passed away on the afternoon of the same day she appeared in the vision. Just before her passing she spoke to those who had gathered about her bedside.
“I want to see Bertie Lilly,” was the last sentence she spoke on this earth!
It was at this time that Spiritualism first offered itself as a possible explanation for all the visions and voices she had seen and heard. She became vitally interested in the movement, began attending services and séances, and then sat in a home developing circle. The third time this circle met, she went into a trance. This was something new to her, different than the other manifestations which she previously had, and she continued her investigation and development, it seems as though she was destined to become a materialization medium for she would not stop her search for an understanding of the phenomena.
It was just a year later, in 1919, that she began her public career. She worried lest people would not believe the things which she told them she saw but when they did believe, and recognized the messages which she gave to them, she was thrilled. And who wouldn’t be?
Aside from her golf, her only other hobby is in doing charitable work. She realizes that everyone has not had the same opportunities here on earth, and that others have not been able to take advantage of the opportunities they did have. So she tries to make it all up to them somehow. She looks back to the time when she knew nothing at all about Spiritualism and sees the difficulties and problems which were in her mind. When she can help another to solve his problems she is happy.
After twenty-seven years of constant work in Spiritualism you would think that a person would take it more or less for granted. But Bertie Lilly Candler is just as enthused about the movement and the manifestations today as she was back in 1919 when she gave her first public demonstration.
To her, Spiritualism means more than just the manifestations of spirit people. There is a deeper side to the religion than just the proof of immortality. She feels that many of the teachings should be broadcast to the world in such fashion as to make it impossible for the world to ignore them.
The teachings of the Master, in her opinion, are the basis upon which every student should build his life. She says that one of the greatest helps to mediumship is in living in accordance with the principles which he brought to earth. The rendering of service to others helps build in every person a philosophy which will stand him in good stead when practicing his mediumship. The practice of mediumship is not entirely a bed of roses for anyone, no matter how gifted he may be. This fact is easily seen in the example which the Master set for us so many years ago. It was the philosophy which his service to others brought to him that sustained him when in need.
She also believes that every medium should always be trying to perfect his mediumship to a greater degree. He should constantly strive to reach out for the highest and best that is obtainable.
She believes there are many master souls who are anxious for instruments through which they might manifest to people of earth. They are looking for instruments of high purpose and character. They have great truths which will be of unbounded help to mankind, but those truths will remain untold until the development of psychic ability reaches that high standard upon which they can be brought through.
Perhaps you will be one of those given the opportunity to serve in this way.
Interview conducted by Robert G. Chaney