Isa Northage

The Mediumship of Isa Northage (1898 – 1985)

A Path Prepared: The Story of Isa Northage, with Accounts of Her Mediumship Including Healing and Materialisation by Allan Macdonald

This is a long-awaited reprint of the story of Isa A. Northage’s astounding physical and mental mediumship with a particular emphasis on the wonderful healing work which was carried out through her by the dedicated Spirit Team, including surgery by materialised spirit doctors, mainly at the Pinewoods Healing Sanctuary and Church, which were built in the grounds of Newstead Abbey, Nottingham.

The book, first published around 1960, was written and compiled by Allan Macdonald MSF, who says in his introduction: “It is indeed very difficult to try and comply with so many requests from all walks of life for a story covering the varied and outstanding life of such a personality as Isa A. Northage, whose mediumistic abilities, in every phase of phenomena to which her life has been devoted, have also been given to helping those less fortunate souls who were in need of help.

“Her manifold gifts of clairaudience, clairvoyance, direct voice, telekinesis, materialisation, apports, etc., are now carried on in church and sanctuary, both of which she built to give her time to those in need.”

Born in the North-east of England in 1898, Isa heard voices from an early age. A wise local Canon, in whom she confided, told her, “You are another Samuel. Treasure your gifts from God, my child. Some day you will make good use of them.”

And so it came about. One chapter is given over to reports sent into the Two Worlds  magazine between 1938 and 1941, with other reports throughout the 1950s.

Materialisations were seen in red, blue and some in white light; parents were able to talk to and play with their young children who had gone to spirit, giving great joy to those in both worlds.

It is hoped that this evidential account of what can happen, when ‘the gifts of the spirit’ are applied for the good of mankind, will inspire others to work at developing their gifts.

After a foreword by the subject’s daughter there follows an Introduction concerning Mrs Northage’s childhood in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland by the author and a short description of her early mediumistic development by Mrs Northage herself.

Maurice Barbanell (former editor of Psychic News and Two Worlds) writing on psychic surgery states that it is being demonstrated by Mrs. Isa Northage of Nottingham.

“Her spirit doctor materialises and publicly performs these bloodless operations.

 “In front of me as I write is the testimony of one cured patient and the eighteen signatures of some of the witnesses to this psychic surgery. Moreover, I have photographs which were taken of the growths after they were removed from this patient. Even this does not complete the testimony, for I have a tape-recording made at the Sunday evening service at the Spiritualist church where over 100 people witnessed the cancerous growths being removed.

“I should explain that when these operations are performed by the spirit entity known as Dr. Reynolds no anaesthetic is used, no pain is felt by the patient, there is never a break in the skin, a scar or any adverse after-effects. A date is never made in advance for these public demonstrations. A few hours beforehand, Mrs. Northage says that psychically she feels Dr. Reynolds is very close. That is the usual indication.

“Always, though, there is prepared a trolley with antiseptic, swabs, linen cloths, towels, forceps, water and a glass container with surgical spirit to receive anything the doctor may remove from patients. The operations are performed in the church’s full lighting, in front of its altar.

“Let me describe the scene for an operation which was witnessed by the more than 100 congregation. At a signal from the medium before she is entranced, the trolley is placed in position and next to it a chair for the patient. Two helpers stand beside the medium— one on her right and the other on her left.

“Now comes Dr. Reynold’s request for the antiseptic and water, into which he dips the medium’s hands, and asks for a towel to dry them. Next one helper is asked to bring to the medium a member of the congregation who has been attending the church for a year. She is Mrs. Sylvia Hudstone, who lives near Sheffield. The guide asks her to be seated and inquires, ‘Are you nervous?’ She replies, ‘Not at all.’

“The spirit doctor dips a towel into the water with the antiseptic and then cleans the inside of her mouth. She is asked to relax while he places the medium’s fingers inside the patient’s mouth. A few seconds later he withdraws them, holding a growth which he drops into the container with the surgical spirit.

“Once again the fingers enter the mouth and the operation is repeated. Another growth is removed and placed in the container. ‘Did you feel any pain?’ asks the doctor. ‘None,’ is her reply. At the end of the psychic surgery, which lasted about four minutes, the overjoyed patient resumes her seat in the church.

“The growths, which Dr. Reynolds said were malignant, are pink in colour, about 1 inch long, covered by a fine, fibre-like mass, resembling a spider’s web, which appear to be the roots. At the bottom of the container are several small seed-like objects which he says are potential growths.

“The doctor invites any members of the congregation to inspect all the matter he has removed. One of the helpers is then told that he can photograph these growths, which was later done, and examined by a leading analytical chemist. The doctor insisted, however, that the growths were to be burnt as soon as possible.

“Mrs. Hudstone signed a statement declaring that the spirit operation ended years of suffering caused by pain in her jaw. Prolonged medical treatment had produced no relief. Since the operation was performed, the jaw had resumed its normal shape for the first time since her trouble started. All she could feel was a space as if two teeth had been extracted.

“I should explain that many members of the congregation regularly attend what is a normal Spiritualist church service every Sunday, hoping that they will be fortunate enough to witness one of these spirit operations.

 “The signed document describes the psychic surgery performed on a ‘blue baby’, 16-months-old Sylvia Hunt, who sat on her mother’s lap. This was the third time the mother had attended the church.
Mrs. Hunt was asked to bring her baby in front of the altar and place the child in the chair. One helper held Sylvia while she sat. The spirit doctor removed Sylvia’s coat and placed the medium’s hands, one in front and the other on the back, of Sylvia’s body. The congregation was told by him that little Sylvia had almost died that week and had never sat upright since birth.

“He asked the helper to raise the child gently until she reached a sitting position. It was patently visible that her breathing had become almost normal. It did not take very long for Sylvia, obviously improved by the healing, to be restored to her mother.

“Evidence of the success achieved by Dr. Reynolds came a fortnight later, when Mrs. E. Hunt, who lives in a village near Sheffield, wrote to express the gratitude of her husband and herself for Sylvia’s continued progress. Her letter is one of the most moving documents I have read.

“When the baby was born, she said, they were not allowed to see her. They were told that little Sylvia had a slight protrusion on the back of her neck and head. This was caused by her brain being enlarged and breaking through the scalp. The protrusion was removed in an operation during the first 24 hours of Sylvia’s life.

“This operation, however, must have disturbed a nerve at the base of the head, for it paralysed the larynx and the left side of her face. The result was that Sylvia never cried aloud like a normal child. The parents were told that she was a ‘blue baby’. With each attack caused by this complaint, she was placed in an oxygen tent, with the chances of her survival diminishing.

“There were other complications. During the first month of her life, the gap in her head left by the operation kept swelling, causing a blockage which trapped fluid that normally should flow in the body. This fluid constantly had to be drained away. Finally the doctors placed a valve in her head behind one ear. This was connected to the jugular vein and the heart, enabling the fluid to by-pass the blockage. This type of operation was so recent, the parents were told, that success could not be guaranteed.

“At the age of six weeks, the Hunts were allowed to bring Sylvia home, with the advice that they must live from day to day. There was trouble with feeding, which was managed only after hours of determination. If rusks were added to the feed, Sylvia would refuse to accept the bottle. Sometimes it took two or three days to coax her into accepting an ordinary feed of milk. All day long she would lie in her pram, gazing vacantly into space, seemingly never attracted by anything happening in her vicinity.

“‘I have felt so very low,’ says the mother, ‘that I prayed God would take her into His care rather than her suffer in this life.’ A friend lent her a book which described some of the results achieved through Mrs. Northage. After reading it, Mrs. Hunt changed her prayer to a request that somehow God would allow Dr. Reynolds to heal her sick child.

“‘I never thought that my prayers would be answered so soon,’ she says. Ever since the operation, she reports, there has been no trouble with Sylvia’s feeding. At first, they helped Sylvia to sit up, but later she managed this alone. She adds that Sylvia’s little face ‘seems to be more knowing and she smiles more’. Then follow these touching words, ‘At last she seems to know that we are her Mummy and Daddy.’ She ends on a note of rejoicing for this ‘miracle’ and with the hope that Isa Northage will long continue to ‘carry on God’s work’.

“This book not only describes the spirit operations but gives examples of the medium’s versatile gifts, which include materialisation, trance, clairvoyance, direct voice and the production of apports. It narrates how, as a child, Isa Northage saw visions and heard voices. Fortunately, instead of being told, as is often the case, that she suffered from a too vivid imagination, she had wise advice from a canon familiar with psychic facts.

“After listening to a recital of her experiences, he said: ‘You are another Samuel. Treasure your gifts from God. Some day you will make good use of them.’ The result is this remarkable mediumship which for many years has been witnessed in its rich variety in a specially built church in the grounds of an abbey in Nottinghamshire. It is noteworthy to record that patients, cured of all manner of ‘incurable’ diseases, helped to fell trees and with picks and shovels levelled and cleared the ground on which the church was built.

“The medium’s psychic story is one of constant guidance since 1917 by a voice which later she learned was that of her doctor- guide. It was not until 1937 that her physical mediumship became apparent. After that, there was a progressive development, which was controlled by Dr. Reynolds, who says he practised on earth about 150 years ago. He states that in his healing activities he is helped by other former members of the medical profession who had expressed the desire to utilise their combined earthly experience and spirit knowledge to help the suffering.

“Though I have many accounts of these bloodless, painless and successful spirit operations, it would become wearisome to describe them in detail. Ernest Thompson, a former occupant of my editorial chair in the Two Worlds office, has recorded in detail an operation he witnessed; He was allowed to take away with him one of the ulcers which had been removed from a patient. He had this analysed under a microscope in a laboratory by a medical expert. The analyst later reported that it was an acute duodenal ulcer, its condition showing that it was about to penetrate the intestine and would have proved fatal at an early date.

“One of Isa Northage’s most recent operations, in August 1967, was reported in a leading Scottish newspaper. It concerned the removal of a stomach ulcer from a bus driver, Tommy Hanlon. What made the account even more dramatic was the testimony of the patient’s aunt, who is a state registered nurse. ‘In my work as a nurse,’ she said, ‘I witnessed many operations, but never anything like the one performed on Tommy.’
Nurse Margaret Sim reported that Tommy lay on the operating table, fully conscious during the treatment. The entranced medium massaged his abdomen. Then his stomach wall ‘opened like a rose’ and the ulcer was plucked out in two pieces with forceps. The spirit doctor then closed the wound. ‘There wasn’t even the faintest trace of a scar,’ said Miss Sim.
Tommy confessed that previously he had been sceptical. ‘Before the operation almost anything I ate gave me pain,’ he told a reporter. ‘An hour after I was able to eat a five-course meal. I haven’t had a twinge since.’

“My publication of this account in Psychic News brought me a reader’s letter from Mrs. K. Ventress of Woodbury Salterton, near Exeter, Devon. She was interested because with her husband she had attended a materialisation séance with Mrs. Northage four years earlier. She was delighted to receive a brief spirit communication from her son. Presently their daughter materialised, looking radiant. Like any young girl she proudly asked, ‘Isn’t my dress lovely?’ This was a reference to her ectoplasmic robing.  Said Mrs. Ventress, ‘It was exquisite.’

“On January 16th, 1953, we attended Mrs Northage’s Christmas tree séance. A tall tree, lovingly decorated, was covered with presents; there were extra gifts for the children, unknown to the Parents, who invariably pop in. Whistles, squeakers, drums, tambourines and mouth organs were heaped at the base of the tree, for spirit children are as merry as any, and love making a noise as they would if still on earth. The Sanctuary was lit by dim red lamps and scattered about were wooden, luminous plaques and torches. As each child materialised it picked up a plaque and held it up to illuminate the features.

“Soon all was activity, with numerous spirit children searching for and unwrapping their parcels, talking and laughing with their parents and loudly blowing their squeakers, etc. The gentle Ellen Dawes was helping the smaller children to find and unwrap their gifts. We saw her beautiful materialised form near the top of the tree, and never had we felt so close to the angelic spheres as on this night. Naturally our attention was centred on the coming of our own children.

“Nils came first. He was then about five years old we had put a little clockwork tractor on the tree for him. First we heard him saying: “Where is my present? I can’t find it,” with rising agitation. Then he found and unwrapped it and coming over to us held his plaque, luminous side up, and ran his tractor up and down its flat surface. He then handed the tractor and key to my husband and said: “Wind it up, Daddy, please.” When this was done we watched him follow it across the floor on hands and knees in great excitement. He then returned with the tractor and handed it to his daddy saying: “Hold it for me, please, I come back.” Almost at once we heard Zoe saying: “I want my Mummy and Daddy.” “We are over here, darling,” I said. “I know, I can see you,” she replied, and coming to stand before us she said “I thank you for my book and my bag,” and then said she would like them given to the little daughter of a sitter present. I kissed her on the cheek and she moved in front of me saying: “I want to kiss my Daddy,” and after kissing him she dematerialised.

“Soon after Abudulai Gurunshi greeted us joyfully and snatching up a tambourine, proceeded to whisk it within a hairsbreadth of our noses, playing one of the drum rhythms of West Africa. Later, when the lights were turned up we were astonished to find Zoe’s parcel unopened on the tree, yet she had known and mentioned its contents. We can never be grateful enough that the thin veil separating us from our loved ones has been drawn aside, giving us the certainty that all is well with them.

“This reader also witnessed a curious happening. Dr. Reynolds said he was treating a patient critically ill in a Surrey hospital. To help, he urgently required a blood transfusion. Mrs. Ventress and her husband watched as from the medium’s arm he extracted some blood and put it into a small phial. Then he vanished. When he reappeared he said that he had been privileged to help save a life that night.”


G.H. Wilkinson writes

One of my friends heard me talk about Mrs. Isa Northage. My wife and I were friends of hers for several years, and in 1950 I stayed with her and her husband Jack for 7 weeks at their home in Newstead Abbey Park, near Nottingham, whilst I was house-hunting.

During this time I saw several materialisations at their séances, and I witnessed the materialised form of Dr. Reynolds, as he did two operations — one for a stomach ulcer, and the other for a blockage of bone in the nose of a patient. In both cases, luminous plaques were used for lighting.

I was recommended to Mrs. Northage and Dr. Reynolds because of a persistent skin complaint, which my own G.P. and medical specialists could not cure.

Dr. Reynolds prescribed a herbal medicine, made up by a chemist in Northampton, and also a skin lotion. Both were effective, and as a permanent cure, the Doctor gave me a spiritual blood transfusion from Mrs. Northage.

Isa Northage gave a séance at our home in Ashington, Northumberland, in 1916, during which materialised Spirits gave us apports, which we still possess. Mine consist of a flint arrowhead, and a ring which I wear, whilst my wife received a Nun’s Cross and chain.

Before 1950, we visited the Northage home in Bulwell about 3 times, and in séances there my Grandmother materialised, as well as my Father, who was killed in 1916.

In addition, I watched my two half-sisters materialise as fully grown young women. The elder one, Mary, died after only two hours of life, and the other one, Margaret, was stillborn. She was perturbed that she did not have an earthly name, so we were able to give her the name her mother had intended for her,


As the youngest child of Isa Northage, growing up I participated in some of the experiments in this book, A Path Prepared. It seemed perfectly natural in our home to see objects move, to see the table we ate at rise and we would say, “Put the table down, Sambo, we know you are with us.” The information in the séances and experiments are all true. I was a witness to the apports arriving and the Christmas tree with the spirit children materializing to share the gifts their parents put on the tree.

As a schoolgirl I helped mother to take the bread to the sanctuary to go to our military prisoners captured by the enemy in World War II. Sometimes, if we were late, as soon as the Sanctuary door closed the bread would dematerialize from our arms. Other times we would leave it and it would be gone when we went back.
From the beginning, through experiments with ectoplasm from which materializations built, I was there.

Before I close I would like to mention my brother’s son John Northage. He passed into spirit January 29, 2012. John was the one in our family who inherited my mother’s gifts. As a healer John was gifted and amazing like his grandmother. John was clairaudient, clairvoyant but very humble about his gifts.

I would like to thank Ann Harrison for the reprinting of this book for future generations as a continuing story of my mother’s work.

Hannah A.Carlin (nee Nina Northage)
March 18, 2012

Further Reading: A Path Prepared  by Allan Macdonald


2 thoughts on “Isa Northage

  1. Isa Northage was undoubtedly an exceptionally gifted medium but what do you make, George, of the Blavatsky transcript and its incredible similarity to, indeed extracts from, the Blavatsky transcript in Wickland’s “Thirty Years Among the Dead” a couple of decades earlier? We encountered this problem in writing up the reprint of “A Path Prepared” in Psypioneer. See and
    Another instance of spiritualistic communication foibles and oddities?
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Garth

      “Another instance of spiritualistic communication foibles and oddities?”

      Probably, but who can say for sure? There are many anomalies in mediumship, particularly physical mediumship, and trying to sort the wheat from the chaff can be extremely taxing.

      My view is that specualtion, opinions and theories are best put aside in favour of facts and that which can be demonstrated.

      Best wishes


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