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.