A NEW YEAR’S EVE SEANCE

A NEW YEAR’S EVE SEANCE (through the mediumship of Hunter Selkirk)

By George Cranley

TWENTY minutes to midnight December 31, 1941. We had not been seated more than five minutes and had just started to sing the first hymn when physical phenomena occurred. A spirit friend was present and touched each sitter. Hunter was sitting on his chair outside the cabinet, singing with us, and having heard someone say, “God bless you, friend,” asked if anything was happening.

It is very seldom that we have any phenomena with the medium fully conscious. Some of the sitters did not like this. They contended that this gave an opportunity to gate-crashers, but I considered this to be evidential. The medium was singing and talking with us. There were ten of us when the meeting began. We were sitting close enough to know if a neighbour had moved, and yet an eleventh person was present, capable of administering a physical touch. This was confirmed when we heard the voice of my Indian guide above the singing say that he was present.

The medium was still sitting in the circle when Zuru (chief guide of Hunter Selkirk) spoke and welcomed us all. He told us to listen carefully and in a second or two we heard his voice coming from the ceiling above the cabinet. He invited me to the cabinet. By reaching into it, above my head, I could feel the medium’s feet and the legs of the chair. Although I did not try to pull down the chair, I took a firm grip of the leg. There is no doubt in my mind that the medium and his chair had been levitated to the ceiling. He must have descended very quietly. We did not even hear the chair touch the floor. All we heard was Zuru’s voice, again from the normal position in the cabinet, asking us to switch on the blue light.

This blue shaded light was so arranged that the light shone on to the cabinet. We heard the cooing of a dove, and soon the materialised form of a dove emerged from the cabinet and flew around the room. This symbol of love and peace heralded the coming of our dear friend, Thomas Milton.

He appeared between the curtains resplendent in his long white robe. He stepped out into the centre of the room and we saw the noble features of this man from the realm of light. His broad, white forehead, his bright, deep-set eyes, his rather full mouth and his soft-looking beard and moustache were all easy to identify.

All was peace and quiet as he moved to each sitter and gave his blessing by placing his hand upon the head of each one present. This peaceful, reverent feeling pervaded the room as he moved slowly back to the cabinet and in a soft, low voice said:

“Peace, perfect peace. Fear not; God is with you always. I leave my peace with you.”

Not a sound was heard from the cabinet while all this was taking place. I could not see into the cabinet, the curtains were closed. But if this was Hunter Selkirk, then a wonderful transformation had taken place. There was no resemblance in the face, the personality was different and the robe with its many yards of ‘material” was a phenomenon in itself.

I have gone “first-footing” many times, but this was the most amazing example of “letting in the new year” I had ever come across. This was our introduction to a new year that could very easily be one of disaster, but these few minutes spent in the company of this beautiful soul gave us a confidence that will bear us up however stormy it may be.

The next materialisation was Topsy. She came laughing and full of fun as usual. Her white teeth showed up very distinctly in contrast to her little black face. She was dressed in a white robe. She walked across to me and placed her little arms around my neck. I could feel underneath my chin, the soft, feather-like texture of the material of which the robe was made. Her small fingers on the back of my neck were soft and warm.

She told us that she was going away and that we must switch off the light as she was coming back. We were now sitting in the dark and soon we heard her voice again. She informed us that she was going to hand out the wine and the cake. She took a bottle of wine and a wine glass from the tray on the dressing table and poured a glass of wine for me. She repeated this for each one and then took the knife and cut the cake, handing a portion to each.

“Now,” she said, “you can switch on the light again” Topsy was nowhere to be seen, but everyone else, except the medium, was sitting with a glass of wine and a piece of cake.

Topsy seemed determined to give me convincing evidence. We were talking about her recent display when we heard her voice again, near the cabinet. I looked in that direction and I saw a white form on top of the dressing table which stood close to the side curtain of the cabinet. She asked me to come over to the cabinet, and when I did, I saw her sitting on top of the dressing table. She took hold of my left hand and told me to put my right hand into the cabinet. It was immediately gripped by the hand of the medium. There I was, standing, with the medium holding one hand and Topsy outside the cabinet holding the other. Three of the sitters also went through the same performance. “I think that ought to convince you,” she said and disappeared very quickly.

Things happened very quickly. Soon we saw what appeared to be a white cloud above the curtains of the cabinet. This assumed the form of a child and we heard a childish voice say, “It’s Mary.”

Mrs. Cook recognised this as belonging to her niece who passed on a few years ago. She talked to her about her father and mother and her younger brother. Mary stayed in this position for about two minutes and went away as she had come, over the top of the curtains.

Little Jimmy Prudhoe was the next to come. This was the first time he had materialised. He came out between the curtains and stood just outside the cabinet. So radiant did he appear that all the sitters spontaneously and simultaneously rose from their seats and gathered around the boy. Some were on their knees, others bent forward looking at him. A halo of light encompassed the full form. Every feature was perfect, hair, eyes, nose, ears, and the little teeth, when he smiled, could be clearly seen, and made an unforgettable picture.

With his little face shining with joy and an emotional tremor in his voice he said, “Gee, I am happy.” I straightened up and looked on for a minute or so at this wonderful sight. There he stood, a bright, radiant spirit child saying again and again, “Gee, I am so happy.” As I looked I thought how fortunate we were to be able to witness a scene like this.

We had a visit from “The Doctor” at this meeting. He bounced out of the cabinet in his lively, buoyant manner and stood where the light shone full upon him. He was fully materialised and robed in white. He beckoned each sitter in turn to come close to him. We knew it was a materialisation separate from the medium because Zuru laughed in the cabinet as “The Doctor” actually danced with several of the lady sitters.

Red Dawn is the name of the North American Indian who visited us next. He is a guide of one of the men sitters. He stepped briskly out of the cabinet and stood underneath the light.
He was robed in white from shoulders to feet and had a white band around his forehead. The firm, copper-coloured facial features, a prominent nose, eyes deep set, small mouth and
straight, black hair were all easily distinguishable. He did not speak but signified “Yes” or “No” in answer to questions by moving his head.

I saw my own Indian guide materialise for the first time. He came slowly out of the cabinet and stood near the light. As I stood close to him I had to look up to see his face. I estimated his height to be seven feet and he was proportionately built. Like the others he had on a white robe which covered his whole body from the shoulders to the floor, and wore a feathered headdress made of the same material.

He had the same copper-coloured skin as Red Dawn, and a stern look. I particularly noticed the bright, glistening eyes as he placed his hand on my shoulder and bent his head slightly forward. I have felt this touch on my shoulder many times, sometimes when I have been alone and not even thinking of him. I stood about three minutes talking to him, but all he was able to say was that he was my friend. I think it must take all the available power for these full materialisations, as they talk more when they have only partly materialised and carry their own illumination, or when speaking in the direct voice.

Next we had a double materialisation, Topsy and Ivy together. They both came out of the cabinet together. Topsy’s features were well formed and distinct, but Ivy was not so successful. They stayed close together all the time and danced round the room while we sang. They did not stay long and went back into the cabinet together.

On instructions from Zuru the light was switched off and several children came in and wished us “a happy new year.” Then Topsy came again and sat on a chair between two of the sitters. She said it was 2 a.m. and time we were going home. “You have your work to do and we have our work to do,” she said. “We try to work a little harder for your benefit, because we want you to have a good foundation for your spirit homes.

“So many come over here into places that are nothing like homes. Some make material possessions their sole aim and when they come here they are surprised and often horrified to see what they have built for themselves by ignoring the eternal qualities. Material possessions are temporal. Hold fast to the spiritual possessions and they will serve you well.”

We joined her in singing the hymn, “0 Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” and the meeting was closed with prayer. The medium and his chair were shot out of the cabinet, and as he asked, “Is the meeting finished?” we heard children’s voices from the cabinet saying, “Good night.”

 

A Christmas Tree Séance by Hannen Swaffer

                      A Christmas Tree Séance by Hannen Swaffer

Through the mediumship of Mollie Perriman

The Christmas tree sittings have to be experienced to be realised. What joy it is to hear the little ones from the other side of life exclaim in wonderment when they see the huge tree laden with toys of every description.

Belle (spirit child guide of Mrs Perriman) had invited nearly forty people to attend a direct voice séance at which there was a big tree, covered with toys. They had been sent – over three hundred of them – from all over the country, many of them for spirit children whose names were given. Others came from former sitters of Mrs Perriman, or people who had been helped. A huge doll was sent to Belle by someone overseas.

It is hard for non-Spiritualists to understand, but these toys, sent after the party to poor children living in London slums, have astral counterparts which are taken back to the Other World by the “dead” children to whom they are first given.

For over two hours, we sat listening to the voices of more than fifty children, who all inspected the tree, chose their various toys – yes, and played with them. Indeed, when the séance was over, the great mass of toys grouped around the tree was scattered in violent disarray.

Sometimes we heard a toy trumpet blown, “I am blowing two at once,” said one of the child voices.
We heard little ones arguing about which fairy doll they could have. Boy after boy said “I want a motor car.”

One remarkable feature of the séance was the great difference in the spirit voices. There were some who spoke with a broad Scots accent. There were Lancashire voices, Cockney tones, and all sorts.

When I heard one voice, that of little David Evans, I said “I remember you. You came last year.”

Remembering me David carried on quite a long conversation. He came from the valleys, he said, and when I said I had recently been down South Wales he corrected my pronunciation of Bargoed and two or three other towns which I could neither spell nor pronounce.

Mrs Leonard’s Feda turned up, Mrs Duncan’s Peggy, and also Jimmy Sparrow, from Lady Caillard’s home circle.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, too spoke, and gave me a special message. “There are many of my old friends who have come to the spirit world lately, many rejoicing. Some have got to extend in some ways. When I tried to tell them about survival, years ago, they would not listen”

Walter Coulhard said “Do you realise you have taken part in a great occasion? There have been children from the other side of life here, amidst surroundings of joy. They have come to you in their innocence and love, bringing with them peace and understanding, taking away with them memories. They will have replicas of these toys for their joy in the Other World. Remember, every toy has been claimed by spirit children who have been present, both in this room and the other. Every toy has now a spirit owner. You are giving joy on earth.”

Several children were recognised by sitters. Several were addressed by their pet names.

The chief lesson to be drawn from it is the lesson to the bereaved parents. Your “dead” children are not dead. They are as human and as humorous as they were on earth.

A CHRISTMAS TREE PARTY FOR SPIRIT CHILDREN

A CHRISTMAS TREE PARTY FOR SPIRIT CHILDREN

Through the mediumship of Leslie Flint

by George Cranley

One of the most popular events in Spiritualism was the annual Xmas Tree Party for spirit children held by Leslie Flint at his home in Bayswater, London.

I attended on two occasions, the first being on the 10th December 1972.

Twenty-four invited guests attended on this occasion. There was a decorated tree with presents brought by the guests at the séance for the children in spirit.

The children would describe and take the etheric counterpart of the toy they wanted. After the séance was over the actual presents would be taken to the children’s ward at the local hospital.

The séance opened with the singing of ‘Silent Night’, followed by ‘Jingle Bells’.

Very quickly the spirit activity began.

Fragile decorations from the Xmas Tree were bounced off the walls yet none were broken!

A box of toffees was opened with various people announcing that a toffee had been placed on their lap. I asked why I hadn’t been given a sweet. Immediately two toffees landed in my lap even though I was seated four rows back and the room was pitch-black.

Both adult and child communicators spoke during the course of the séance.

Maurice Chevalier who passed over during 1972 gave a short talk.

Nellie Klute, a theatre programme seller who passed in 1917, when asked by medium Jessie Nason how she was replied, “I’ll live; and you?”

Among the spirit children who spoke were Doris, Robert, Daisy, Peter, Pat and Ian; each with their own distinctive personality interspersed with comments and asides from Mickey, the cockney child guide of Leslie Flint. At the same time as the children were selecting their toys the little toy piano or the drum would be played.

As two children argued over a particular toy Mickey would break in saying “Ere, pack it in you two” so that three voices would be heard simultaneously.

Not only were the voices different but various accents such as Scottish and American were spoken. The spirit children would request us to sing a particular song and would often sing along.

After the séance was over and the lights came on we found that the tree had almost been stripped of its decorations, an empty box of toffees lay alongside and the various parcels although unopened were in a state of disarray.

It is almost impossible to convey in words the atmosphere of joy, delight, humour, excitement and expectation that was present at these Xmas séances.

My thanks to Leslie Flint and his spirit helpers who helped to make them such memorable séances.

The Mediumship of Frank Decker

The Mediumship of Frank Decker

The name and abilities of the medium Frank Decker were often mentioned in Spiritualist news during the 1930s and 1940s; of his remarkable mediumship,  Joseph de Wyckoff said that it provided ‘direct voice, telekinesis, levitation of medium and sitters, full form materializations … in good red light, clairaudience, clairvoyance … slate writing and transfiguration.

Frank was born of Syrian ancestry in Pennsylvania, and as so often happened when a mediumistic child had Christian parents, a priest was duly summoned to ‘exorcise’ the supposedly malign cause. Needless to say, such action did not diminish the young Frank’s psychic abilities and as he became older, he became perplexed about them and presumed that he must be ill.

He then encountered a Spiritualist who explained what was happening and put the youngster’s mind at ease. Frank then joined a circle, having to save up to be able to pay the admission fee; in time, the phenomena of direct voice and apports were manifested although it was understandably presumed these occurred through the medium who conducted the circle. However, while Frank was absent for a short time, it was noticed that the phenomena ceased; consequently, it was realized that it was Frank who was facilitating the communications. Although his mediumship was initially of the mental type, it was his physical mediumship that developed and gave him prominence, and by 1928, he was establishing himself as one of America’s leading mediums.

The fact that he had struggled to find the money necessary to join the circle made him think about the aspect of payment; he decided that as ‘the guides received no pay, and they did most of the work, so why should he take any?’. He therefore derived earnings from his own business and demonstrated his mediumship in his spare time. However, his guides advised him that he should become a professional medium and if he did not, his business would fail.

Refusing to acknowledge this, Frank continued with his mediumship on a part-time basis only to witness his business failing – just as he had been warned; he then realized that he had to follow his guides’ instructions, and joined the Spiritual and Ethical Society in New York to work full-time as a medium. He demonstrated his mediumship to anyone who wished to see it, and submitted to whatever restrictions those attending sought to impose. He had several guides, one of whom was Patsy, who often made himself known in a very enthusiastic manner during the séances. He had died in an accident in Chicago when he was about twelve years of age.

The Progressive Thinker of August 16, 1930, reported how J. J. O’Neill, the science editor of the New York Herald- Tribune, attended a séance with Frank as the medium. O’Neill was taken around the darkened séance room and introduced to the other sitters by the materialized son of one of the sitters. After this, O’Neill reported, with the usual American dry humour: ‘”That is all” said the ghost. “You may go to your seat Mr. O’Neill”. He released his grip and I stood alone before the medium. “Thank you. That was very interesting” I said to my ghost escort. I felt sure that with my sense of direction and a bit of dead reckoning I could cover the distance quite accurately. But I spoke prematurely. I had scarcely gone three steps before I fell over a sitter…I made the necessary corrections in my calculations and started out again. Again I stumbled’. After a few more failed attempts, O’Neill struggled back to his seat having conceded that he required assistance from the other sitters who guided him back by their hands and voices. Apart from other evidential occurrences that caused O’Neill to realize the reality of what had taken place, he suggested that the materialized person had the ability to ‘see’ radiation from the sitters ‘not visible to human eyes’ that made it possible to function in a darkened room.

Reunion with loved ones who had died was common with Frank’s mediumship; one such occasion was when Dr Edwin Bowers, an American writer, attended a séance and testified to how ‘Adolph [his brother] appeared and, in the direct voice … announced himself by name, as is the usual custom’. Adolph then took Bowers’ hand and put this against his scalp where there was an indentation. Adolph then reminded him of a game that they had played as children when Bowers had injured Adolph’s head.

Bowers also related how Patsy had asked that one of the sitters place a harmonica in his pocket and hold it with his hand, and ‘within a few seconds, we all heard the muted sounds of this little instrument’; the sitter then told the others that he ‘could distinctly feel a warm breath on his hand’. To further demonstrate his versatility, Patsy then requested that the harmonica be placed under the sitter’s foot and once again, it was played.

Bowers also related the events of what he termed, ‘a red letter occasion’. He asked one of Frank’s controls concerning the subject of Masonry about which the control was quite bewildered. Bowers then commented that by doing this he had been attempting to determine whether the control had ever been a Mason, as he was. The control then told Bowers that he would bring a person who had been one.

After a short period, Bowers recalled that a voice whispered in his ear, indicating the speaker was indeed a fellow Mason, and he then felt a hand that by its movements further confirmed this. Bowers continued: ‘With this he gave me the grip and whispered the pass-words of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason’. Further communication took place that resulted in Bowers saying: ‘I do not believe that in all my years of experience I have ever had a clearer and more definite proof of survival of personality’.

During Frank’s séances, some communicators spoke in foreign languages, and conversations would take place between sitter and communicator in their native tongue. Bowers described one séance with twelve sitters present, and four being ‘avowed sceptics’; while Frank was in a deep trance, there were ‘a dozen or more highly evidential and satisfactory’ messages from the communicators. Following these, ‘three different trumpets were levitated simultaneously, and three different voices – one speaking in German – came simultaneously’. After this, objects in the séance room were moved and then Toby, the guide of one of the sitters present, materialized. The guide, well over six feet in height took hold of Bowers, who recorded that Toby ‘drew me to my feet as though I were a feather’.

Elizabeth Darwin, one of those present, previously a sceptic, also wrote of her experience, confirming Bowers’ account and adding how she had ‘held an astoundingly interesting conversation with my own grandfather, who recalled almost forgotten incidents of my childhood’. In addition to the communication in German, she remarked on an invocation given in Arabic, and how ‘I heard the stertorous breathing of Frank Decker, lying back in his chair in a deep trance, during all this time’.

Bowers also related an incident that must have surely been one of the most spectacular occurrences that he had experienced. On a number of occasions his mother had communicated and promised him that when it was possible, he would be given a lock of her hair; in view of this, he was asked to bring scissors with him to séances.

In one séance when both Frank and Ethel Post, another physical medium, were working together, Bowers’ brother communicated and joked about him forgetting to bring the scissors. Bowers admitted that he had forgotten this and said that he would obtain the pair that he had seen earlier. His brother told him not to bother, and Bowers related how, ‘in the fraction of a second he thrust into my hands the small scissors’; he was then told to wait. After nearly fifteen minutes, his brother materialized, slapped him on the back, told him to rise from his seat, and guided him to the middle of the room. At this point he heard his mother greeting him in her Irish accent, and by guiding his hand, helped him to secure a small lock of her hair. He reported that, ‘then she said, “I must go now Edvin” [‘Edvin’ being the way that she had addressed him]. Leaning over, she kissed me on the cheek and was gone’.

Frank’s mediumistic abilities were shared to some degree by Ruth, his daughter. In 1937, she discovered that she possessed the ability of clairaudience and soon worked as a medium herself in America; she died a few years later in 1940, and within two days she demonstrated her survival by supplying evidence of her identity during a séance.

In addition to Frank allowing himself to be tested by investigators and professional conjurors, in one instance, he allowed himself to be immobilized during a séance. This occurred on 8 December, 1932, when a Mr M. Taylor arrived at the beginning of a séance, and said that he was acting on instructions from the Magicians’ Society and produced a mail sack that he wanted Frank to enter. Frank agreed to this after allowing himself to be searched, and despite protests made by the other sitters, Frank also complied with the demand to be completely tied up within it, i.e. not even allowing his head to remain outside. Regardless of this, Patsy still communicated and in due course the sack was taken off the medium and deposited in the lap of one of those present. During this time, there was, ‘Telekinesis, strong and loud voices, playing of musical instruments, flashes of brilliant lights…levitation of sitters…and a marvellous exhibition of juggling a trumpet with luminous band…In all, some ten distinct personalities manifested and spoke’.

Frank’s abilities were also demonstrated when, in September 1937, he was conducting a séance in London, and despite the sitters being unable to prevent light from entering the séance area, there were still partial materializations and the movement of objects in the room. Furthermore, one sitter received remarkable evidence of survival when his fiancée communicated, as did another sitter when her mother spoke to both her and her sister, followed by the mother materializing and embracing the two girls. In addition to these events, three of Frank’s guides spoke, and there was also communication in foreign languages; a sitter who was present was able to identify words that were of the Arabic and Urdu tongue. Patsy materialized in addition to the materialized hands that were moving objects about in the room, and he ‘kept up a running commentary of shrewd, humorous remarks’; in view of the experiences to which Frank had been subjected, Patsy also drily commented, ‘It is about time that some of these “investigators” were investigated’.

On one occasion, when de Wyckoff stayed at Frank’s home, he was awoken during the night by someone shaking him; he looked up and saw Patsy materialized who promised him that he would witness ‘things you never saw before’. After de Wyckoff confirmed that Frank was in a trance, he was greeted by a figure that ‘began to swirl and pirouette round the room’; other persons then materialized and Patsy then suggested that they call Dr Bowers by telephone. The amazed de Wyckoff saw Patsy pick up the telephone receiver and speak to the operator; de Wyckoff noted Patsy’s annoyance on being called ‘ma’am’ by the operator, i.e. due to his child-like voice. The operator connected Patsy to Bowers’ home and Mrs Bowers later confirmed the voice was the same as that heard on an earlier occasion when Patsy spoke with Frank nearby.

The full reality of the materializations made possible through Frank’s mediumship was demonstrated by Dr Blatt: on 5 December, 1935, he attended a séance with Frank as the medium, and examined a John Benton who materialized; Blatt confirmed that in the physical form materialized, he was registering the usual characteristics of the human organism. After this, Blatt examined Frank and noted ‘the difference between this examination and that of the materialized entity was marked’. Interestingly, in contrast to Frank where rales were heard, the breathing of John Benton the materialized person was absolutely normal.

Frank’s spectacular mediumship was not only demonstrated by the restrictions that he allowed to be placed upon himself, but by the astonishing dexterity of the communicators during these occasions. When Mr and Mrs Mackay attended a séance in New York, the trumpet moved and Patsy spoke, guiding Mrs Mackay to the centre of the circle when she felt materialized hands; this was followed by her husband also being directed there by materialized hands. Instructions were then given that Frank be immobilized by the sitters. Frank’s hands were held by a sitter either side of him, a third sat on his lap, and another placed her fingers in his mouth and yet the phenomena continued. The control’s voice then moved about the room and Mr Mackay remarked: ‘The voice travelled so quickly…first at my left, next at my back and then so high in the air that I couldn’t keep pace with its travels’. The sitters also received evidential communications in addition to witnessing other phenomena.

A further example of Frank’s mediumship was when, in 1947, he held a séance in New York and a Hollywood cameraman was present, taking photographs of the events; these included seeing a ball of light appear that ‘then exploded, “like an atomic bomb”, with a white illumination that flooded the room’.

By 1956, Frank’s séances were so impressive that they were being broadcast on American radio.

Reports of Frank’s mediumship continued until he died on 8 August 1957. The notices revealed his talents, humour, dedication and how he had left this life a poor man.

Horace Leaf, when writing about Frank Decker’s mediumship, made the very pertinent observation that: ‘If we had more of this sort of mediumship, Spiritualism would soon attain the public credence to which all experienced Spiritualists know it is entitled’.

 

“Is Death the End?”

“Is Death the End?”

by John Henry Remmers

Materialization is the highest phase of physical mediumship, and its development should not be attempted until at least three years of effort have been applied to the unfoldment of other phases. My reasons for this conclusion are as follows: A good independent voice medium is seldom, if ever, developed in less than two years.

An additional year is usually required to bring the voice mediumship up to its best unfoldment, providing the medium is not harassed by financial cares or inharmonious environment. And as materialization (when the manifesting personalities speak) surpasses in magnitude the independent voice, it seems only logical that it should follow as a natural sequence.

Those who have never witnessed materialization should read the writings of Professor Crookes regarding his experiments with the medium Florence Cook and the manifesting personality Katie King; also “The Phenomena of Materialization”, by Baron Schrenk Notzing, “Clairvoyance and Materialization”, by Dr Gustave Geley, and the more recent experiments of various investigators through the mediumship of Mr Jonson, of California.

My own experience in witnessing this most marvellous phase of manifestation has been limited to five occurrences, one of which, however, was of such nature that it afforded every opportunity for the most careful observation. This séance took place in my own home and under conditions where fraud of any kind was impossible.

This experience brought to me such realization of the reality of the next dimension and the survival of personality that no contrary argument of any nature could ever alter my convictions. And when I read or listen to the silly postulations which oppose this Truth, I cannot at times refrain from laughing aloud. Ninety-nine percent of the opposing arguments are not only actually stupid, but highly refreshing, in that they always serve to point out clearly the critics’ absolute ignorance regarding the subject.

The séance in my home came about in the following manner: I had heard that the medium in whose presence I had witnessed the unusual demonstration of the ectoplasmic envelope was also a very fine materializing medium. I asked her if she would favour me with a séance of this kind. She replied in the negative, adding that the after-effects upon her physical organism were unpleasant, and she had given up séances of this nature entirely.

Several months passed, and the occasion arose where I could favour the lady. In appreciation she expressed a desire to repay the kindness, and I suggested a materializing séance. She agreed, and voluntarily offered to hold the séance in my own home under any conditions which I might desire. A date was set. The séance was to take place in the evening, and on the afternoon of the same day I made such arrangements as I felt would eliminate every possibility of fraud and at the same time in no manner hinder genuine results.

I had read a number of scientific books regarding materialization, thereby gaining to some extent knowledge of the rules governing the procedure. I had no intention of tricking the medium; my whole attitude was one of fairness, inspired by a desire to gain further knowledge, if possible, in this field, the most worthy of all human endeavours.

The room in which the séance took place is located on the second floor of a dwelling which was at that time our home. The house was erected under my own personal supervision; this fact at once eliminates the foolish assertions of secret trap-doors, etc., which are often proposed as an explanation for the manifestations. The room, which was used for the séance, measures eleven by twelve feet (see drawing). It is plastered and papered throughout. The ceiling is low, not more than eight feet, and has no opening of any sort. In the centre of it there is fastened an electric light fixture. At either end of the room there is a plastered closet. The closet on the south wall is large and has but the one door opening into the séance room and a small opening, fourteen by thirty inches that serves as a vent. Both the door and the vent were locked on the afternoon of the séance. The closet on the north wall measures three by three feet and the ceiling is of such nature (due to a slope in the roof) that a person of ordinary height can just stand erect in it. After a fair-sized armchair is placed in the closet, very little room is left for body movements. This closet has but one opening, and this into the séance room; the opening measures two feet four inches by six feet. It is finished with a regular doorframe, but had at the time no door. With the exception of this opening, the entire closet is plastered throughout, and no one on earth could enter it otherwise than through this opening.

This closet I chose as the cabinet. Two curtains the length of the opening were fastened at the top of the door frame, and arranged so as to part in the centre. On the west wall of the room there is a large window consisting of two stationary sashes and one movable one between them. Its distance from the ground is about twenty-five feet. This window I locked and covered with a frame upon which was tacked black oilcloth. This arrangement not only served to keep out all light rays, but also prevented any one from entering through the window. Five plain wood chairs were placed before the cabinet (as shown on drawing) and within the cabinet I placed a willow armchair. This chair was selected purposely for the medium because of its peculiarity of being extremely noisy when anyone sat in it. It was impossible to move in the chair and avoid the squeaks that came from it. The floor of the cabinet was of wood, having no covering of any sort. The photographer’s lamp containing a twenty-five watt electric globe was inserted in the fixture in the centre of the ceiling and its distance from the cabinet was six feet. The light from this lamp was directed squarely upon the curtain.

About seven-thirty that evening the medium and her husband arrived. After a half hour of conversation, she accompanied Mrs Remmers to our bedroom and there, in the presence of my wife, changed her attire, putting on an ordinary house wrapper. The two again joining us, we went directly up to the séance room, where the medium, who is almost six feet tall and weighs close to two hundred pounds, crowded into the small cabinet and seated herself in the squeaky chair.

The little group which formed the half-circle before the cabinet, as indicated on drawing, consisted of Mrs Remmers, the medium’s husband, Ellsworth, our boy, a young lady friend, and myself. After carefully locking the door, which led into the hallway, and placing the key in my pocket, it was impossible for any individual on earth to enter the room unobserved. Mrs Remmers occupied chair No. 1, the medium’s husband No. 2, Ellsworth No. 3, our friend No. 4, and I, No. 5. In the red light emanating from the photographer’s lamp one could distinguish without difficulty the features, limbs and clothing, and observe easily all movements of every sitter. Mrs Remmers and I purposely sat opposite each other and directly next to the curtains. Our positions gave us the advantage of having between us every manifestation, and also afforded excellent opportunity of hearing every sound caused by any movements the medium might make. Our chairs were within a foot of the curtains and not more than four feet apart. Our physical senses were keenly alert. Imposture under these conditions could not have been attempted without detection. The medium’s husband is a tall man weighing more than two hundred pounds. I placed him almost directly opposite me, and no move on his part could escape my attention.

For a few minutes the medium moved about in her chair, coughed violently for a time, then all grew silent. This silence continued for five minutes or more, when I noticed slight movements at the bottom ends of the curtains. These movements continued, and finally grew to such extent that it appeared as though both curtains were being blown out into the room by a strong draught.

The curtains actually stiffened out at an angle greater than forty-five degrees. Gradually they dropped back into place and then proceeded to bulge in the centre as though being held at either end. I have since learned that this was caused by the uncontrolled energies emanating from both sides of Life, and that heavy curtains should always be used to assist the operators in concentrating these energies within the cabinet. The curtains used on this occasion were of a very light material.

Shortly after this interesting occurrence, the curtains parted and there appeared before us the slender form of a woman. She was attired in a white robe of the most exquisite laces, and emanating from her whole being there came a radiance the like of which I have never seen. The manifestation informed us that she was one of the medium’s guides, and then gave a short talk on the wondrous beauties of Life beyond the earthplane. I paid no attention to what she was saying but arose and studied her carefully. In no manner did she resemble the medium. Two people could not have been more opposite in features and physique.

After a brief interval she bid us adieu, and while the curtains remained closed, vanished before our eyes. But in less than ten seconds a boy’s head and shoulders appeared between the curtains and, laughing, he invited his mother and me to come close, study his countenance from all sides, so that every particle of doubt regarding his survival would be eliminated. The boy submitted to every test requested, asking me repeatedly if I could see the cap he wore.

This incident of the cap should be of profound interest to the student, because that very day, as a test, I had, mentally, without the knowledge of anyone on earth, expressed a desire that the boy, if he materialized, would wear a cap similar to the one he wore last while upon the earth-plane. The cap, which I treasured, was locked in a cedar chest in another room of the house. The medium had never seen it. And yet, at this materialization John wore a cap similar in every detail to the one locked away in his cedar chest, and he was especially eager that I observe this fact closely!

Mr Critic, what have you to say regarding this? And furthermore, would a medium practicing deception invite a careful scrutiny of her features?

I have heard critics say that under such conditions and environment people give full sway to their imagination and conjure out of nothing the image which they desire. Granting that such may be the case with some, is it not also possible that there are others with whom this does not happen, others who are just as rational and keen in their observations as the critic? Does he alone possess the power of clear and calm discernment? Most of my life has been spent in the fields of civil and structural engineering; if one is not trained to think and observe accurately in these fields, then I do not know where such training may be acquired. The one question addressed to a critic of this kind invariably closes the discussion, and it is this: “Have you ever witnessed a materialization?” Nine times out of ten the answer is: “No, and I don’t want to!” There you have it! – the old prejudice, which, like the clam, enjoys only the narrowness of its own little world.

Directly following the manifestation of our boy, the first wife of the medium’s husband materialized, stepped away from the cabinet and stood directly before him. Their conversation was of the most endearing nature. In the nobler Life beyond, petty grievances do not exist. There, Love is the governing factor. Jealousy is only of earth; the nearer we approach God the less of it we know.

The manifesting personality I have just mentioned had hardly re-entered the cabinet when a slim masculine form appeared. The rapid appearance of each personality is worthy of attention. The cleverest actor, with all sorts of assistance and trappings, could not have accomplished these lightning-like transformations. The slim masculine form who now stood before us and conversed happily with his sister, Mrs Remmers, was fully attired in evening clothes. I studied carefully the entire manifestation, from the wavy hair down to the patent leather shoes. Unbelievable, isn’t it? Well, I can only tell you what I have seen. If you question my sincerity or qualifications as an investigator, then apply your own effort and investigate for yourself, just as I did. These facts will some day grip men on earth with astonishing effect; thus far, only a minority know that they are true.

Almost instantaneously following the manifestation of Mrs Remmers’ brother, the form of a girl appeared. She was not more than four feet six inches tall and generally small in physique. This personality walked about among us for ten minutes or more, chatting happily with all present, especially Ellsworth, for whose pleasure she danced gracefully about the half-circle. Could the medium, who stood almost six feet and weighed nearly two hundred pounds, have accomplished this? How?

As the girl stood between Mrs Remmers and myself, I took hold of her garments and asked my wife to do likewise. We examined the substance; it appeared white in colour, and felt soft, warm and life-like. I then took a firm grip upon it, and suggested that Mrs Remmers do the same, and not leave go under any condition.

Now came the supreme test! We held on firmly, and only by means of force and considerable disturbance could a fraud have dislodged itself. But the girl before us only chuckled, then vanished, leaving our clenched hands empty. The mysterious radiant matter had vanished with the manifestation. Such an experience is worth a lifetime of effort here, and once having had it, we laugh at the bugaboo men call “Death”. Asleep in the grave? Ah! The so-called dead are more alive than we!

Thus far, and throughout all that occurred, not a sound came from within the cabinet. The medium made not the slightest move. She was, as I know today, in deep trance. All of the talking, with the exception of a few words from the control, was done by the manifesting personalities outside the cabinet.

I relaxed, sat back in my chair convinced that the medium had absolutely nothing to do with the manifestation, but was only serving as an instrument for the use of Intelligences whose knowledge is far superior to our own.

Seven other personalities manifested, among them my wife’s mother, the mother of our friend, my sister, and my grandmother on my mother’s side. The known likeness between my wife and her mother was remarkably apparent. I had lived with my grandparents from the time that I was twelve years old, or a period of thirteen years, and came in close contact with them up to the time of their transition. No one knew the face or the voice of my good grandmother better than I. She had been a mother to me for almost twenty years. German was her favourite language, and in German we conversed. The medium does not speak nor understand this language. Several others materialized but were strangers to me; therefore I cannot vouch for them, but the recognition of those I did know was unmistakable.

The séance lasted almost two hours; there had been considerable conversation of an intimate nature throughout. As the control brought the manifestations to a close, he instructed us to open wide the curtains, observe the medium in trance, and inspect the cabinet. Mrs Remmers and the young lady held the curtains wide apart while I entered the cabinet. I found the medium in deep trance with her head hanging over the side of the chair; the independent voice of the control instructed me to feel the hands and face of the medium, which I did. Both were extremely cold and clammy. Throughout the entire séance the medium’s husband did not leave his chair. After a short period, the medium emerged from the trance. I unlocked the hall door and switched on the light. When the medium left the cabinet she was exceedingly pale and weak. Noting this, Mrs Remmers and I insisted that she and her husband remain as our guests for the night.

I shall only mention that my own dear mother materialized and spoke to me. The manifestation was perfect, resembling in every detail the cherished memories of her loving countenance and delicate form. That which transpired between us is sacred to me. I cannot write about it.
God bless you, mother mine!

May the glory of thy radiance ever shine throughout the Eternities. And in this darker place of fears amid its mockery and sneers, May it guide me to be true, thinking ever, dear, of you!

Those who have never experienced such manifestations as I have just related may involuntarily question their reality, especially the statement regarding the materialization of garments as worn by Mrs Remmers’ brother. I shall try to show that it is not impossible.

First, let us consider the source of any piece of cloth with which we are familiar. For example, the wool which composes a man’s attire. We all know that this wool came from the body of the sheep; and through a process known to us as physical nature this body came from various elements, all of which had their origin in the ether. Conceding this to be a fact, would it not be possible to produce the same things out of the same ether by a shorter process as yet unknown to us?

Are we not, of this earth, constantly doing the same thing, by newer methods, shortening the process of physical nature? Today, through the proper application of radium, a plant can be made to grow and blossom before your very eyes. Would anyone have believed this a century ago? It is, even at this period of our development, extremely difficult for the majority of men to comprehend anything beyond the realms of dense matter and the slow processes of nature as we ordinarily experience them.

Dense matter is in reality nothing more than an illusion compared with that which is, in fact, The Reality, and with a few simple words this truth can be substantiated. Let us consider briefly this substance, which appears so real to the majority of men. Let us see what it is actually composed of.

What is matter? It is a substance composed of atoms held together by Cohesive Force. What are atoms? Intricate particles, untold numbers of which go to make up the smallest quantity of matter visible to the eye of man.

What constitutes an atom? Gases.
What do we mean by gases? Ether.
And what is ether? No one knows. And yet within it exists the mystery of all Life, Intelligence, and the Power, which creates worlds, and all that is!

The materialization of discarnate entities fully attired in clothing of their own choice is a fact. To assert that this is not possible is but a futile effort to limit the Unlimitable! The most difficult part of the whole situation at present is that the intelligences of the next dimension are making use of energies and elements of which we of earth as yet know nothing.

At this period of our development we simply cannot comprehend such energies and elements. Gradually, however, this situation will be altered, just as similar ones have been altered through all the past ages. As the centuries unroll, Man moves onward, constantly gaining knowledge and constantly smashing such barriers, which oppose his forward march. Slowly but irresistibly the “Preconceived Result” is being accomplished.

My own meagre understanding regarding the production of materialization is as follows: A portion of the energy used is drawn partly from the sitters, but mainly from the medium. This energy is then vitalized with other energies and elements as yet unknown to us, and the combination is concentrated within the cabinet. The discarnate entity moves into this combination of energies and elements and his ethereal body absorbs them, thereby temporarily taking on a nature similar to our own. As to the actuality of materialization I quote the following from Sir William Crookes’ writings.

“One evening I timed Katie’s (the manifesting entity’s) pulse. It beat steadily at seventy-five, whilst Miss Cook’s (the medium’s) pulse a little time after was going at its usual rate of ninety. On applying my ear to Katie’s chest I could hear a heart beating rhythmically inside, and pulsating even more steadily than did Miss Cook’s heart when she allowed me to try a similar experiment after the séance. Tested in the same way, Katie’s lungs were found to be sounder than her medium’s, for at the time I tried the experiment Miss Cook was under medical treatment for a severe cough.”

The ethereal or spiritual body is an exact counterpart of the material one, and through the process of full materialization this ethereal body absorbs the energies and elements concentrated in the cabinet, and for a time takes on a nature very similar to that of our own physical bodies. Under conditions where there is not enough psychic stuff or radiant matter present for manifestations of this nature, artists and sculptors of the next dimension create, out of that which is at their command, replicas of the living ethereal entities. These replicas do not, of course, speak; are usually half-size, and very often, although clearly recognizable, somewhat distorted. Further than this I cannot at present comprehend the process. My experiments have been limited, but I hope to delve deeply into this phase at some future time when I shall be privileged to experiment in my own home through the unfoldment of our own powers.

At most, I can only repeat at this writing that Materialization is an absolute fact, and when the conditions are good, personalities of the higher realms stand before us radiant and alive. There are many who have learned, through their own investigations, that these things are true.

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.
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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

by

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.

PHYSICAL PHENOMENA AND THE FOX SISTERS

PHYSICAL PHENOMENA AND THE FOX SISTERS

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.”


REFERENCES:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter Selkirk

The Mediumship of Hunter Selkirk

Very little has been written concerning the mediumship of Hunter Selkirk; for this reason, I would acknowledge the important contribution of Harry Emerson’s book, Listen My Son, in which the writer describes some of his experiences with the medium.

Hunter was born in County Durham in 1900. When both his father, and later, his stepfather died, he bore the responsibility of being head of his family of eight, most of which were young children. Growing up as a miner in the years of the Depression, he faced extreme poverty: despite this, he occupied himself by working for, and supporting the children of Craghead, where he lived, in the periods of severe hardship that afflicted the area.

Hunter’s first awareness of his own mediumship occurred when he saw and spoke with his father who had died a week earlier in a mine explosion along with nearly two hundred other men and boys. As so often happened in similar cases, when Hunter told his mother of what he had experienced, she simply said that he had been dreaming. The local priest then became involved and decided that Hunter should be monitored; the young medium then became a member of the local church choir, but this only increased his awareness as he saw spirit-beings in the church and also became conscious of other mediumistic abilities that he possessed.

Although other phenomena took place, when Hunter and a friend attended a Spiritualist meeting in his twenties, the reality was, as Emerson related, that they ‘went to the “spookies” for a “bit of fun”‘. Nonetheless, Hunter was impressed by the philosophy expounded; he was told that he would be a great medium, but he interpreted this as something that was said to everyone to encourage them to return. However, he met a Sam Barker at the meetings who suggested that he should join a home circle. This he did, and demonstrating the patience of those involved, some seven years elapsed before the first materialization joined the circle.

Hunter’s mediumship developed to where an eye-witness could say, ‘In a séance, I have seen the spirit form and the medium side by side’; furthermore, after Hunter left the cabinet, his facial appearance, having been altered by ectoplasm, was ‘so finely moulded that recognition was instantaneous’. In the case of direct voice, the communicator ‘was recognised immediately by a near relative’, and the voice was ‘entirely free from any trace of the medium’s voice or personality’.

Hunter’s mediumship was not limited to his immediate locality, i.e. he demonstrated his abilities before many hundreds of people in various places: reports of these events being published, e.g. Two Worlds (14 October 1938).

Emerson detailed the events of the first séance that he attended; this was in 1938 and conducted by Hunter, who had been working in the mine less than two hours earlier. After Emerson examined the séance room and the cabinet, this being constructed of wool curtains hung across the corner of the room, the séance commenced. After hymns and a prayer, a light appeared close to the ceiling: ‘transparent blue and particularly bright and twinkling’. The light then moved down and passed through the cabinet curtain, and one of Hunter’s controls spoke and greeted the ten sitters present. This was followed by another light manifesting, that Emerson described as a very large opal. The light moved around the sitters and Emerson related that he could see a woman’s face: ‘the eyes were blue and had depth and expression’. On going to a sitter who was next to him, the visitor was recognized as a guide who had been seen on an earlier occasion. Subsequently, there was direct voice and Emerson then recorded that ‘two small lights came out of the cabinet and moved across the room towards where I was sitting’. They hovered above his head and then ‘from out of the air, fully six feet away from the medium’; a voice spoke to Emerson and introduced herself. It was Emerson’s wife; she spoke in a whisper that he said, ‘I recognised immediately’. After further phenomena, Emerson left the séance room, understandably overwhelmed. He reported: ‘I had seen; I had heard; I had felt; I had spoken to people who had lived upon the earth as I was doing now’. This resulted in him suddenly realizing that in the subject of the afterlife, ‘The Christian religion, as I understood it, was confounded. It was incomplete. It had shrivelled to a vague, indefinite theology’.

Emerson described a number of séances that he attended in which the truly amazing limits of Hunter’s mediumship were manifested: in one, after some spectacular light phenomena, he detailed how, ‘A small light appeared low down near the floor and…it rose to the height of an average sized man’. When the visitor approached, Emerson saw that he was a man who looked no more than thirty years of age. At this point, the visitor spoke and described what had occurred during the initial stages following death. At the point of transition, he said, ‘It all seemed to happen so quickly and so naturally. I was conscious of my surroundings and I felt wonderfully refreshed’. Noteworthy is the fact that it is in such instances that the nature of the next life is revealed; this is salient as it invalidates the charge often made that physical mediumship provides little knowledge or enlightenment concerning the subject of post-mortem survival. The communicator also confirmed that he had been assisted, and he believed the physical life served as an education and preparation, adding that ‘You are born to live with each other and to be of use to each other’.
Emerson also referred to the more humorous instances that occurred during Hunter’s séances. On one occasion when the sitters were seated very close to the wall, he felt someone touch him: following this, his own chair and that of the person next to him ‘were tilted forward and we heard someone behind us laughing’. He identified this as being like ‘one of Bob’s tricks’.

This was Bob Ellis, a war-time fatality, who often visited the séances and introduced some amusement into the proceedings whenever possible, e.g. he would produce music and once removed a carpet on which four of the sitters were sitting, and lifted an eleven stone man into the air; during these episodes, there was indisputable evidence that Hunter was in the cabinet.

Hunter’s mediumship not only produced physical phenomena but unmistakable evidence for the survival of physical death: Emerson detailed how in one séance, with a blue light being used, Hunter’s controls made themselves known, with one materializing for the benefit of the circle, and the sitters were asked to look inside the cabinet. Emerson did so, and saw a light that looked ‘almost as if the moon had come down into the room’; this was followed by a visitor materializing and standing in front of him. He was unable to see the facial features and the visitor walked across the séance room to Emerson’s daughter who immediately recognized him as her uncle. He then walked back to Emerson who recorded that on being able to see him clearly, ‘It was indeed my brother Lincoln who died in 1923’. Afterwards, two sitters attending their first séance were reunited with their mother who spoke to them, and also carried an infant in her arms. This was followed by Hunter’s stepfather materializing and then, Emerson’s wife. He related how, ‘I saw her face as clearly as I had ever done in my life’. She was ‘alive and smiling’ and on being asked whether she was happy, she replied ‘Yes’.

Following the traditional Spiritualist practice, a special séance was held at Christmas for the children who were able to return and participate in the festivities. Emerson recorded how, ‘It seemed strange to be sitting in a room decorated for a children’s party with not a child to be seen’: but he went on to note how, ‘after the door was shut and the light was put out, they did come, and made no mistake about making their presence known’. In fact, although the light was extinguished, bright moonlight entered the room and some visibility was available. Despite being for the children, the first next-world visitor was Bob Ellis. Emerson noted how the event became lively when Bob began trying to force an inflated balloon inside the clothing of the sitters, that promptly burst on each attempt. Shortly afterwards, Emerson recorded how, ‘we heard the sound of little feet’, and after four children ran out into the room from the cabinet, ‘we lost count’, although ‘we could just see the small forms flitting past’. After a while, calm ensued and each child spoke and introduced him/herself while the sitters could hear Hunter’s breathing from the cabinet. Noteworthy was the fact that despite their premature deaths, the children all demonstrated a noticeable degree of maturity and wisdom.

In the same manner that many mediums had worked in the First World War, Hunter was able to enable victims of the Second War War to demonstrate their survival to those who mourned their passing. Many of these described how they had died and been met by friends and relatives who had passed at an earlier time. One feature that emerged from what was said was the value of having knowledge of the subject. One soldier explained that he had read books about the survival of death, including Sir Oliver Lodge’s Raymond, and said his reading ‘has been a great help to me. It is a great advantage to have this knowledge’.

Demonstrating the worth of being able to adapt to the new mode of existence, the soldier was not only able to communicate effectively, but bring other soldiers to the séances who communicated through Hunter’s trance mediumship, direct voice and even materialization.

One R.A.F. officer spoke about his passing, and described the frustrations that arise in trying to communicate: he explained that it was necessary to look for ‘that tell-tale light that indicates psychic power, either in an individual, home circle, or Spiritualist meeting’. He went on to add, ‘There are so many of us and so few mediums’ and drolly commented on how he thought of one Prime Minister’s words that, ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’, and ‘We have to queue and wait, and many are disappointed’.

Hunter’s mediumship also followed the style of a number of mediums in making it possible for animals to materialize during the séances. In the séance on the last day of 1941, Hunter was outside the cabinet and joined in with the singing and talking of the circle members. He was then levitated and, ‘soon the materialised form of a dove emerged from the cabinet and flew around the room’. The materializations made possible were unmistakable: in the same séance, several next-world visitors joined the circle, including a boy: ‘A halo of light encompassed the full form. Every feature was perfect, hair, eyes, nose, ears, and the little teeth, when he smiled, could be clearly seen, and made an unforgettable picture’.

A frequent occurrence during the séances was the presence of materialized lights that Emerson said, ‘varied in size, shape and colour and behaved sometimes in the most extraordinary way’. On occasions, up to eight of them would appear, originating from different places in the séance room. He described how some, ‘shot across the room like a comet, up to six inches in length. I have seen one of these lights weave behind and in front of alternate
sitters at amazing speed’. In one instance, a Mr Bulmer, who had been president of the local Spiritualist church, and had died in 1938, appeared and carried one of the lights: ‘the most beautiful blue, flecked with white’. From the glow that the light produced, the sitters recognized him while he spoke to them about the church. In addition to the phenomenon of lights, the séances also enjoyed the materialization of flowers and the room would be filled with their perfume. Hunter’s mediumship also included healing, and Emerson related several cases of people either seriously or even terminally ill, healed by one of Hunter’s controls, aptly named ‘the doctor’. The fact that Hunter was independent from the voices was further demonstrated by the occasions when he suffered from a cold, and while his coughing could be heard from the cabinet, the voices continued to speak, simultaneously, and without any interruption.

In addition to the lighter moments, there was also the more serious aspect to what was facilitated through Hunter’s mediumship. In one séance, lights appeared above the cabinet, and one of Hunter’s controls spoke and said that he would bring Hunter out of the cabinet which he duly did. Each sitter was then summoned to the cabinet and in the light that was present, they saw ‘the materialised form of a baby lying cradled in the light’. The control told the sitters that the infant was the child of John, Hunter’s brother: the child had died only half an hour after being born.

Multiple-materializations also occurred: Emerson mentioned how a Mrs Storey had been rescued from her burning home in the district, but had rushed back inside to save her three children. Tragically, they had all died in the inferno. In one séance, with some light present, ‘the form of a woman with a child in her arms stepped out from the cabinet, then a child came out and stood at her side. In a few seconds a younger child came out and stood on the other side’. The group moved closer to the light and were recognized by the sitters as Mrs Storey and her children: ‘one of the sitters exclaimed immediately, “Its Mrs Storey and her three bairns”. Zuru [one of Hunter’s controls] from the cabinet responded: “That is correct”‘.

In the light of what he experienced with Hunter Selkirk, Emerson referred to the many who manifested themselves to assure the sitters of their continuing existence, and communicated in voices, ‘clear and distinct’. He went on to make the significant observation that when critics argue that by communicating with the departed, ‘Spiritualists disturb the dead’, the reply to be made is very simple: ‘The dead started it first’.

Here is an account of one meeting, from the Two Worlds of October 14, 1938, headed “A Great Clairvoyant”:

“One of the best displays of evidential clairvoyance and clairaudience that I have witnessed for a long time was given by Mr. Hunter Selkirk at West Stanley last week. The West Stanley Church, which is doing useful work in a busy mining area of Durham, held its largest propaganda meeting when over 500 people were present.

“Mr. Hunter Selkirk, of Craghead, is a collier, a man in the prime of life, a fine example of muscular manhood, and I particularly liked the naturalness with which he did his work.

“There was no desire to create a great impression, no attempt to pose before his audience, no theatrical display. He was a working man who talked on the platform as he would talk amongst a company of friends. He was evidently under a strong measure of spirit control, for here and there the broken English of his inspirer obtruded itself. In every case he indicated the individual for whom his description was intended. In the course 45 minutes he gave evidence to 18 different people, and his descriptions were accompanied by names and particulars which made identity sure.

“Mr. Selkirk started by saying: ‘There’s a friend here upon the platform who says she is Mrs Coxon and that she comes for Mr and Mrs Jack, who are in the audience. She also brings a friend by the name of Rutherford.’
Speaking to a lady at the side of Mrs Jack he said: ‘Your Auntie is here and your husband, too; he wants you to stop fretting, to buck up and catch the sunshine.’

There’s a young girl here who wants her mother; it is for you, madam,” indicating a lady in the audience. “She says she’s your daughter, Janie. She tells me that the person sitting next to you is her Granny; her Grandad comes with her and brings his love. They also bring a woman here who wants her husband; she says she’s Mrs. Cook. Her husband is not here hut you know him, and she wants you to convey the message to him. ‘Tell him not to bother to take flowers to my grave every week, but to put the flowers before my photograph in the home.’

“Pointing to another lady he said: ‘There’s a man here who says he is William Young, and that he passed away at Bumopfield. He brings a bad condition of the chest, which had much to do with his passing. He is brought by Jack and Robert, both of whom belong to you. They also bring with them Mrs Curry and Mr Croft. Mr Croft evidently belonged to some society or something, for when his name is mentioned he wants to shout “present.” They tell me you have visited the hospital today. You have no need to worry; the patient will recover.’

“Speaking to another lady and gentleman, he said: ‘With you there’s Mrs Miller and Jane Ann Oliver; she died at Blackhill, and you are to tell Tom that she’s been. They tell me that you are both investigators who are just starting your interest in the subject. You are both going to be successful.

“‘Then there’s Mrs Walton who passed away near where you live. She wants to speak to Tom. She was an elderly lady, over 70, and she says that she passed away in the Old Miners’ Home. There’s someone with her who says his name is Thomas, and he tells me to tell you that William has arrived safely.’

“Speaking to another lady, he said: ‘There’s a young girl for you, called Ivy, closely related to you. She’s about 18 or 19 and had long golden hair. She must have passed away some time ago, as she evidently died before permanent waves were in vogue.

“To another member of the audience, Mr Selkirk described an old lady of 89 years of age whose name was Nellie Blatchford. There was also a Mrs Barde there, who said she wanted her son. Mrs Bartle said that she wished she could stay a week and tell her son all he wanted to know, but at any rate she could assure him that ‘Spiritualism is the key to the house of perfect happiness.’ The son was advised to keep working and to dig hard and he would presently get all his difficulties and doubts explained.

“There was not a single point made by Mr. Selkirk in connection with any of the descriptions which was not clearly acknowledged as correct.

“The meeting at West Stanley created a tremendous impression on an interested audience, and the evidence produced by this fine clairvoyant left no doubts in the minds of his hearers.”

I think you will agree that this is outstanding for a man who knows nothing of what he is going to say when he mounts the platform before an audience of 500 people.

Just think of the many traps he could fall into did he attempt to foist upon these people something of his own manufacture. All these people are not Spiritualists. Many are there to see if it is really true. Some who attend, hoping it is not true, get a shock sometimes when they get evidence that they cannot deny from their dead friends.

I know of an instance where a man denied everything the medium gave him concerning his wife who had passed on. The medium gave her name and told the man that his wife was asking him to forgive her for something she had done. On being asked if he recognised the description, he replied that he did not know the woman.

Afterwards it was found that everything the medium had told him was correct, but he refused to recognise his wife because he would never forgive her for what she had done to him. It was hardly fair to the medium and certainly not very kind to his wife, who had pleaded for forgiveness from beyond the grave.

I remember a meeting, held in a large hall capable of accommodating 6oo people, where many latecomers had to be provided with forms on the stair-head landing. In one case a name was claimed by a person in the hall, but the medium said it was not for her, it was for someone of the same name on the landing to whom he wished to speak. This proved to be correct.

At a meeting held in the City Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, in April 1944, over 2,000 people attended. This meeting was addressed by Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding and Hunter Selkirk was the demonstrator.

Many evidential messages were given by the medium, from young men of the Services who had recently passed on and who gave their names, all of which were claimed and recognised.

One outstanding example was a message from a young airman to a lady in the audience. He asked the lady to tell his wife that he had been, and to prove his identity he gave his wife’s christian name, which was the extremely uncommon name of Ethne. The lady acknowledged that this was correct. This could not be guesswork.

I have never heard of the name before, and I know that Hunter Selkirk had never seen the lady before; also, it is very unlikely that he would be able to see her clearly enough to be able to identify her again. So again it seems that the most intelligent explanation is that the young airman was not dead, but alive and active enough to come to that meeting and take advantage of what must have seemed to him a heaven-sent opportunity to let his wife know that he still loved her.

At a meeting held in our own church at Craghead, a lady, unknown to Hunter Selkirk, was given a message from her husband. She acknowledged the name given, but the husband, to make certain that she would know that it was indeed he, gave the number, containing seven figures, of a silver watch that had belonged to him and which the lady had with her in her handbag.

Four hundred people heard that message given. This lady came to the meeting to see if there was anything in Spiritualism. Like many more she found all she needed.

 

 

 

 

Mona van der Watt

THE MEDIUMSHIP OF MONA VAN DER WATT

By George Cranley

Mona was born in Scotland on the 8th Apri1 1906, and proud of her heritage, she started developing her mediumship after receiving evidence of her father’s survival.

With a small group of friends, she started a church in Edinburgh.

Her philosophy was based on the biblical injunction to “comfort the mourner, heal the sick and bind the broken-hearted”.

The practical application of Spiritualism led her to support a local children’s home.

Thus began her career and the charity work which continued right up to the time of her passing.

After about seven years, Mona MacDonald, as she then was, developed an aspect of her mediumship which was to provide incontrovertible evidence to mourners.

This was the spirit voice which could be heard emanating from the region of her left shoulder.  This voice was described by Maurice Barbanell in Psychic News as a ‘sibilant whisper’.

Communicators would use the voice to relay their messages to a guide working through the medium.

I particularly remember one occasion when, in a special research group, I obtained permission to place a microphone as close to her left shoulder as possible.  The voice, which to me, sounded like a record being played at a very fast speed, was duly recorded.

To my astonishment, when playing the tape back, I clearly heard my grandmother’s voice, then a guide, both of whom relayed very evidential messages.

Mona’s guides repeatedly demonstrated their ability to produce the spirit voice even when she was more than a thousand miles away.

En route to the 1960 and 1963 International Spiritualist Federation Conferences, her guide, Zara, told us that while the ship on which Mona was travelling was at sea, they would link with us in Cape Town during the Sunday service and attempt to make the voice audible. Sure enough, on both occasions, it was clearly heard during the service by the 100-strong congregation.

Her husband, Ehen, often had conversations with his father, in Afrikaans (a language unknown to the medium), through the spirit voice, while she was fast asleep.

In 1954, acting on doctor’s advice, to cease all spirit work, following a number of operations, Mona and Eben emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa.

There is an interesting psychic story to their meeting.

At a public meeting in London, Eben received a message from the famous medium, Helen Hughes, to the effect that he would meet his mate in Scotland and return to his own country.

Following a series of astonishing messages from mediums all over England, he was gradually led to Scotland, where he met and married Mona.

With hindsight, the spirit plan was clear.

Destiny was bringing two people together to begin a partnership unswerving in its devotion in service to God and mankind.

Despite Mona’s enforced retirement, people beat a path to her door to plead for sittings.  The demand became so great that she opened the Little Temple of Spiritual Fellowship, on the slopes of Table Mountain, which was to bring comfort and guidance to thousands.

I have never witnessed mediumship of such a consistently high standard.

Week after week, the evidence was so breathtaking that it almost seemed too good to be true. Yet it was.

It was a pleasure to bring sceptics to her meetings. No Super-ESP hypothesis could explain away her mediumship.

Many well known people in South African political and religious life came, often secretly, to her for sittings.

One who made no secret of his Spiritualism was Professor T. J. Haarhoff – a former professor of classics at Witwatersrand University.

He told me how, through her mediumship, he had received information on ancient languages now extinct.

Much of the evidence confirmed what he received from the well known materialization medium, Alec Harris, then living in Johannesburg.

Haarhoff brought a man to her and requested a sitting, saying he would introduce him afterwards.

Mona went into trance and almost immediately the spirit voice began.

The guide said General Smuts (South Arica’s most famous statesman) was present and wanted to say “Hello Fagan”.

It was then revealed that the sitter was the former Chief justice of the Appeal Court.

He volunteered that Smuts had never called him by his first name, but always by his surname. The rest of the séance was naturally private and personal but suffice it to say, that as a result of the sitting, Fagan entered politics and became a respected member of the Senate (South Africa’s Upper House).

Members of the ISF will remember Mona as an international medium following her demonstrations in Denmark and Switzerland and her appearance on Swedish TV in 1966.

Although continually plagued by illness, she, nevertheless, managed to demonstrate in every major city in South Africa, as well as in Rhodesia.

Perhaps, because he main guide was an African, she drew a particular response from the black population who affectionately called her ‘Nobantu’ meaning “mother of the people”.

The practical side of Spiritualism was never forgotten as regular readers of Psychic News will remember.

On Christmas Day each year, a thousand food parcels would be delivered to poor people living in conditions that defy the imagination.

We would trudge through the bush, down sandy tracks, to find people living in corrugated iron shacks, sometimes waist high in water following a storm.

The gratitude of these people as they realized they were not forgotten is something I will always remember.

A party was held on Boxing Day for poor, crippled and mentally handicapped children at her home on the slopes of Table Mountain.

Those of us who brought the children, from their homes, to the party learnt many valuable spiritual lessons that day.

Her healing successes were legion.  Perhaps the most spectacular was the healing of a 12-year old boy in 1970.

Blind from the age of four, his sight was restored during a public healing demonstration at the Durban City Hall.

When I left South Africa in 1965, Mona’s guide promised to communicate through another medium to prove his spirit identity.

This spirit promise was fulfilled in November 1974 when he communicated through the mediumship of Gordon Higginson and again in September 1978 at a public demonstration at a Swanwick Symposium through Betty Wakeling.

On the latter occasion, Zara, not only gave the name of his medium but stated that he had been responsible for my introduction to Spiritualism some twenty years earlier.

No words of mine can convey that intangible quality of love which characterised her mediumship.

All I can say is that this world has lost a very special person and that the spirit world is immeasurably richer.

What a grand welcome must have awaited Mona van der Watt when she arrived in the spirit world.

She passed over on the 23rd August 1980.

For over 52 years this brilliant voice medium demonstrated the truth of survival.

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REPORT OF EVIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION THROUGH MONA VAN DER WATT 

By George Cranley

It seems to be the fashion today to denigrate physical mediumship and its value to Spiritualism. Many of those who hold temporary positions of authority within what is loosely called ‘The Movement’ have never had what I call convincing evidence of the continuity of life. In fact, when questioned by the media they are extremely unconvincing and often fail to put the case across. They invariably disappear from prominence as quickly as they rose.

Indeed, I recall how one speaker/medium at Stansted Hall openly boasted that she had never received evidence of survival: she just ‘knew’! How can we ever hope to convince others when we lack conviction ourselves? With such an attitude is it any wonder that we fail to attract, as we did in the past, people of intelligent and enquiring minds.

After 50 years of investigation – with ten physical mediums and many first class mental mediums – it is my contention that, if you are really sincere in your quest and are prepared to keep an open mind, you will always receive the evidence you need. I will go even further. You will never lose contact with those you really love.

In this article I want to discuss the first two physical mediums who made a tremendous impact on my life, namely Mona van der Watt and Alec Harris, who was featured in. Zerdini’s World on August 2nd  2012.

Mona, a Scotswoman, had emigrated to South Africa in 1954 with her husband, Eben, a South African psychologist and was living in Cape Town when I first met her.

When I was 16 I started to investigate the various religions that advertised in the local paper on a Saturday. Christianity had the most offshoots so it took quite a long time to work my way through them. The last one I came to was the Spiritualist Church where a demonstration of clairaudience was advertised. I decided to attend. So it was that on December 2, 1959, I received my first contact with the spirit world.

As I look back now I realise that date had the same impact on me as the March 31, 1848 had on the Fox sisters.

Mona had a gift, which I believe was unique in modern times. While demonstrating or in private sittings you could actually hear the spirit voices talking to her. Although Mona’s gifts unfolded without any obvious development it was eight years before the voices manifested.

Mona told me that at one stage she was given a choice by her guides: she could sit in complete darkness and develop direct voice, which would be limited to a small number of people or reach a larger audience, but the voice would be weaker. She chose the latter. On one occasion she was tested by six doctors.

As Psychic News reported at the time: ‘They examined the medium with a stethoscope. Wherever they put it, they heard the voice speaking. Yet it was impossible for them to trace the source.’ The guide who was entrancing her said that he would stop her pulses one by one and asked the doctors to verify it. When he finally stopped the last pulse in her temple the doctors agreed that by their standards she would be classed as dead. Her guide then said he would put ‘power’ back into one finger which he did – and then placed the medium’s finger on the forehead of one of the doctors who immediately collapsed on the floor as though struck by lightning. One by one the guide restored the pulses and Mona returned to normal.

The reporter told readers that a high-pitched voice emanated from Mona’s left shoulder. At times the voice would travel across the audience and speak to people from just above their heads, but that was exceptional. Usually the voice addressed the guide, who then repeated the communication through the entranced medium.

The controlled Mona ‘walked around the hall without faltering. Her eyes were shut, but the guide knew who was before him.’ Occasionally when demonstrating before an international audience, such as at the International Spiritualist Federation Conferences, she would wear a throat microphone so that all could hear the spirit voice which relayed communications to her. During the demonstration, ‘everyone had a good opportunity of hearing the voice mediumship.’

For a number of years I spent six days out of seven attending the various activities of the church and so had an excellent opportunity of observing her mediumship at very close quarters. Thursday nights were usually reserved for research and experiments.

I remember one occasion when I obtained permission to place a microphone as close to her left shoulder as possible. The spirit voices, which manifested sounded like a record being played at very fast speed. The guide then relayed what was being said. To my astonishment, when playing the tape back, I clearly heard my grandmother’s voice as well as a guide who had frequently been described to me. Both relayed very evidential messages. An interesting point here is that this same guide has given evidence of his identity in private sittings with Gordon Higginson and Gerard Smith.

What I particularly noticed was that though the gist of the communication was relayed by the guide it was not necessarily word for word as said by the spirit contact. Her guide often used African words which when roughly translated meant ‘I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that’ or ‘Give it to me again’ which illustrates the difficulty communicators have of getting an accurate message across. I’m often amused when I hear alleged mediums saying with absolute confidence ‘they are telling me this or telling me that’ when I know how difficult it is to get one sentence over with any degree of accuracy.

At another time a spirit who claimed to be Nobel Prize winner, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the inventor of X-Rays, gave a talk on the healing rays used by spirit doctors and guides and, as evidence of his presence, said he would leave a mark on the medium which would disappear within twenty minutes.

When Mona came out of trance, clearly visible on her hand was the raised shape of an X, which gradually subsided and disappeared.

Mona’s guides and helpers repeatedly demonstrated their ability to produce the spirit voice even when she was more than 1000 miles away. In transit to the 1960 and 1963 International Spiritualist Federation’s congresses, Mona’s guide made a promise. While the medium was on the ship they would link with us in Cape Town during the Sunday service and try to make the spirit voice audible.

On both occasions it was clearly heard by the whole congregation at some point during the demonstration of clairvoyance. Week after week the evidence was so breathtaking it seemed almost too good to be true, yet it was. No super-ESP hypothesis could explain away her mediumship. It was with supreme confidence that I would bring sceptics to her meetings and watch with amusement the look on their faces as they heard the spirit voices and the evidence of survival. Today I would be hard-pushed to find a medium of comparable quality.

Many people associated with South Africa’s political and religious activities came for sittings. One of Mona’s regular sitters was Professor T.J. Haarhoff, a Spiritualist, medium, healer and classical scholar whom I met at a healing conference in the early 60’s. Haarhoff, a professor of classics at Witwatersrand University, told me that at sittings with Mona, not only did he receive information on ancient, now extinct, languages but much of the evidence confirmed what he obtained from materialisation medium Alec Harris, then living in Johannesburg.

On one occasion, Haarhoff took a man to Mona requesting a sitting, saying he would introduce him later. As usual, Mona quickly became entranced and almost immediately the spirit voices began. The guide said he recognised the spirit communicator who was present. It was General J.C. Smuts, a former Prime Minister and national hero. His opening words were ‘Hello, Fagan’.

It transpired that the sitter was the former Chief Justice of the Appeal Court. He volunteered that though Smuts and he had been friends for very many years he had never called him by his first name, always by his surname. The conversation that ensued cannot be disclosed, but it is true to say that as a result of that sitting Fagan entered politics and became a respected Senator in South Africa’s Upper House.

At another time Mona and her husband were invited to address the students at Cape Town University, at which General Smuts had once been Vice-Chancellor. Knowing the attitude of some students, I was filled with a little foreboding, particularly when I saw the poster advertising the meeting which said, simply, ‘Séance tonight.’

It wasn’t the sort of meeting where you could get away with saying ‘I see a pile of books with you – are you studying?’ or something equally ludicrous as I’ve often heard in Spiritualist churches since.

Dr van der Watt (or Van as we called him) spoke on ‘The mind in relation to Spiritualism’, which was well received, and he then briefly explained how his wife’s mediumship worked. When she stood up to demonstrate my sense of foreboding disappeared. As the spirit voice rang round the crowded hall you could have heard a pin drop. The first contact was for a young man whose brother had drowned. In an emotional reunion, evidence of his survival poured forth…and I doubt if there was a dry eye in the house.

It set the tone for the rest of the evening. Indeed many of the students became regular visitors to her home. The demonstration finished with the guide passing on a message to all the students from General Smuts. He stated there was a group of former statesmen working from the Other Side to help South Africa. Great changes were coming and the day would come when she would regain her rightful place in the world. I can still remember thinking how far-fetched it seemed, yet thirty years later…!

One of the most moving examples of how helpful her mediumship could be was illustrated in the dramatic account, front-paged in Psychic News, of how her guide located a missing boy. I knew the family concerned and saw the emotional outcome so I cannot do better than quote the story as published:

“The parent – Psychic News did not reveal her identity – had a heartbreaking story to tell. While living in the then Belgian Congo she was legally separated from her husband, but was given the custody of their four-year-old boy. “Soon after the separation, her husband’s brother stole the boy from the front door of her house. With a false passport, the father took his son to the USA.

“The wife was frantic because she could not get news of her child. She even made the journey of thousands of miles to the USA where she searched without success for two years. Then she returned to her family in Cape Town.

“Every possible channel for help was tried. In turn the mother consulted lawyers, clergymen and officials responsible for the administration of the Congo. Alas, because of internal troubles there, all official avenues of help were closed. Moreover, none of her legal papers could be traced.
“At this stage, almost at the end of her tether, she was brought to Mona.

Her guide gave the mother a message, which indicated that the spirit world was aware of her plight. He said, guardedly in public, that she had lost what was very dear to her, but this would be found. On no account was she to give up hope. The message stated that her problem was linked with the USA.

“After the service, the mother asked for a private sitting with the medium. The guide discussed her troubles fully, saying he knew that she was looking for a child. The parent would be helped by the spirit world, he added. The guide forecast that she would return to the USA. At the right time, guidance would be provided. During the next 18 months, the mother visited the church at regular intervals. Always similar encouragement was given. At one private sitting, she asked the guide if she should leave South Africa and go to Israel, to try and make a new life for herself without her son. She explained that the strain was proving too much. “‘No, you must not go to Israel’ said the guide. ‘You will find your child. Just hold on a little longer.’

“At the next séance the guide volunteered, ‘Now is the time that you must write, as a mother, to Mrs Kennedy because she is the first lady of the land, and ask for her help.’ “He stated again that she would return to the USA and find the boy. The mother complied with the spirit request and wrote to Mrs Kennedy. Later she received a letter from the American Consul in Cape Town asking her to call at his office. This official explained that the letter she had sent to Mrs Kennedy had been handed to the FBI. “The Consul disclosed that, at the time she wrote to Mrs Kennedy, her husband had applied for a permit to practise as a dentist in America. Once more she consulted the medium, who advised her to go to the USA, which she did with the Consul’s help. Meantime, the American authorities questioned her husband.

“Realising that something was amiss, he fled again with the boy. When his wife arrived in America it was a bitter disappointment because she could find no trace of either of them. Now strained to the uttermost, she wrote to Mona for help. “The guide replied, counselling her to stay in America. He insisted that she should continue with her quest and not return to Cape Town. Once more he repeated his assurance she would find her child.

“The mother then decided to employ a private agency, but alas with no results. Once more she asked for spirit help. The reply was that she should write to Mrs Kennedy again and this would lead to co-operation with the FBI. At the time Mrs Kennedy was the President’s wife.

“The medium heard nothing for a while. Then one day her telephone rang. It was the woman’s mother to say that she had received a cable from her daughter. “She particularly wanted Mona to know that after four years her little boy had been found. The FBI did co-operate, as was foretold. They succeeded in tracing the husband in Canada.

“Because all her legal papers had vanished in the Congo troubles, the mother had to go through the ordeal of another court case in Canada before obtaining full custody of her boy.

“When she saw Mona she said to this medium, ‘You gave back my God, peace and hope – and then you gave me back my little son'”. Those of us in the church who knew of the case were delighted when the lady brought her little boy to say ‘Thank you’ for all the prayers that had been offered for his safe return.

Another prominent feature of Mona’s mediumship was healing with the help of a spirit doctor who said that on earth he had been a hunchback. It was noticeable how, when entranced by him, her body would change showing a quite definite hump.

Each guide had his or her own characteristic personality, which was evident before they spoke. Over the years I got to know at least thirteen different guides, each specialising in a particular aspect of mediumship. Only three or four would demonstrate in public, the others manifesting in private or research groups.

I have deliberately refrained from giving examples of the evidence and help I received which could probably fill a book but I can say that my father, a renowned sceptic of things psychic, was instantly healed through her mediumship. After the healing he demanded to know where the electric heater was, which he said had been placed on his back. I explained that she had placed only her hands on his back, a fact he never really came to terms with.

Mona’s healing successes were legion but the most spectacular case was a 12-year old boy in 1970. Blind from the age of four, his sight was restored during a public demonstration at Durban’s City Hall.

When I left South Africa in 1965, her guide promised to confirm his identity through another medium. It was 1974 before the spirit promise was fulfilled. Travelling in a car to Euston station with Gordon Higginson, he suddenly turned to me and relayed a message from Mona’s guide.

Again, in 1978, through the mediumship of Betty Wakeling, at a public demonstration, he not only stated that he had been responsible for bringing me into Spiritualism, but even gave the name of the medium.

Mona’s philosophy was based on the biblical injunction to ‘comfort the mourner, bind the broken-hearted and heal the sick’ all of which I have tried to illustrate. Mona van der Watt passed to the Spirit World in August 1980 but within days made her return through Edinburgh medium, Mary Duffy.

At that time news of Mona’s passing, in South Africa, had not been made public. In a trance sitting Mrs Duffy’s guide indicated Mona’s spirit presence without naming her, but said she was a medium who came from the same city as mine does.’ Mona’s mediumistic career began in Edinburgh.

A little later that year Mona and her guide manifested at a Silver Birch sitting which I was privileged to attend. She has since continued to communicate through Betty Wakeling, Mary Duffy, Gordon Higginson and regularly through Gerard Smith. In fact at a private sitting with Gordon Higginson, both Maurice Barbanell and his guide, Silver Birch, returned with some extremely good evidence.

Barbanell also stated that he had met Mona on the Other Side, and had recently had a sitting with her. He explained that very often when they wanted to make contact with spirits further on they use a medium to make contact between the spheres.

Neither Gordon nor I could recall ever hearing of this before yet the very next day I picked up a book by J. J. Morse, which fell open on a page, which said that those who had been mediums on this side were often used as mediums on the Other Side!

The latest communication has been through the mediumship of Colin Fry at a recent Home Circle when 12 red field poppies were apported (the first time flowers had been produced) through the narrow end of the trumpet, and the guide said that Mona was hoping to speak in the direct voice very soon.

UPDATE:

 Mona and her husband have both spoken to me in the Direct Voice through the mediumship of Colin Fry, as have Gordon Higginson and Alec Harris on a number of occasions.

 

 

 

 

George Valiantine

George Valiantine

The mediumship of George Valiantine, from Williamsport, New York, is an occasion of dispute and uncertainty.

Valiantine did not become aware of his mediumship until he was forty-three. After hearing noises for which he could not account, he spoke to a Spiritualist who invited him to participate in a séance; he did so and raps were made that stated his brother-in-law was communicating. Valiantine then developed his mediumship, and although having a number of guides, the principal one was his brother-in-law.

Although Valiantine was able to produce a materialization of his guide, he principally became known as a direct voice physical medium in America during the 1920s. He travelled to Britain several times (1924, 1925, 1927, 1929 and 1931), and other countries in Europe, to give sittings.

One of the principal figures in the reporting of Valiantine’s mediumship was H. Dennis Bradley who met the medium in America in 1923. Unfortunately, he heaped vitriol on any person who chose to have a different opinion from his own, and his lengthy record in Towards the Stars has many irrelevancies and often lacks important detail. His subsequent book, The Wisdom of the Gods, is much the same. Nonetheless, they contain valuable information concerning Valiantine’s mediumship despite the shortcomings.

His record of the first séance related how after luminous bands were placed around Valiantine’s wrists to monitor any movement, ‘the phenomenal happened’. He sensed another person in the room who called out to him and said that she was his sister (who had died ten years earlier). At this point he said that, ‘we talked, not in whispers, but in clear, audible tones…Every word was heard by the other three men in the room’. Bradley asserted that the other sitters could not have known of his sister, or the family matters that were discussed with her for some fifteen minutes.

He also observed that, ‘she said sayings in her own characteristic manner. Every syllable was perfectly enunciated and every little peculiarity of intonation was reproduced’. After his sister departed, five more communicators spoke to those present, and ‘each spirit was distinct and each spoke with an accent unlike the other’.

Bradley also witnessed how the trumpet ‘floated in the air and careered around the room’. In later sittings, he confirmed that he heard the voices of communicators and Valiantine simultaneously: ‘Valiantine, the medium, often speaks and can be spoken to at the same moment that the spirits are speaking’. During these séances, sitters were touched and there were partial-materializations: ‘A…hand rested for a second on my right hand…it was surrounded by astral light’. Bradley also recorded how ‘luminous lights floated about the room’.

In addition to sittings with Valiantine, Bradley had sittings with the medium, Mrs Gladys Leonard that were, not surprisingly, evidential. Most interesting, was that Bradley’ sister, communicating through Mrs Leonard, confirmed that she had communicated at the Valiantine séances and also referred to what had been said during these. In view of the sittings with Mrs Leonard and another medium, and the references to the sittings with Valiantine, Bradley believed that he had obtained ‘incontestable proof of the triple link’.

It is an interesting point that Feda, Mrs Leonard’s control, also communicated through Valiantine on numerous occasions; Bradley stated that he had ‘a remarkable accumulation of cross evidence’ that it was the same personality who communicated through the two mediums, in addition to others who had obtained cross- evidence confirming this view.

In one Valiantine séance, Bradley noted that ‘some brilliant silvery stars appeared near the ceiling; later similar lights appeared in other parts of the room’ and the trumpet ‘moved around the room and touched each of the sitters’. Although the séance was to be held in darkness, light did penetrate the room and Valiantine was seen to be in a trance, and at the same time the sitters ‘saw a trumpet suspended without visible support…in mid-air’. Furthermore, after the séance ended, Valiantine was found to be covered in ectoplasm.

Bradley also recorded the many instances of not only when he, but other sitters, including those of a sceptical persuasion, were supplied with evidence. One sitter was addressed by an aunt who gave personal details and family names relating to his mother, even though he had referred to her by forename rather than ‘mother’ to avoid giving information.

At the beginning of 1924, Bradley attended a séance at the British College of Psychic Science, with Valiantine as the medium, and nine other persons, five of whom Valiantine had never seen before. One of these was spoken to by her son who referred to his own children for whom the sitter was caring. Another sitter heard from someone who had been a close friend before he had died, and an Austrian sitter heard from her mother who spoke to her in German.

In respect of this séance, Bradley made the important point that further information would have been forthcoming if the sitters had been more able to hold a purposeful and engaging conversation rather than simply asking for ‘a message’, as conversation does assist the communicators in their activity.

Another séance, held less than a week later, included Mrs Gladys Leonard, her husband, and Hannen Swaffer as sitters; this was a further occasion of evidential communications being received when personal information was supplied by next-world visitors. In a séance at a later date, Raymond, the son of Sir Oliver Lodge communicated with his father; after Raymond had called to his father, ‘the luminous trumpet was lifted, and taken close to Sir Oliver, who was touched on the head and on the body. A conversation ensued between Sir Oliver and Raymond on family matters…Names were volunteered by the spirit’.

Although it has been argued that communications in foreign languages were piecemeal, thereby diminishing the evidential quality of Valiantine’s mediumship, it is difficult to envisage the medium being wholly responsible for all such instances.

During a séance on 27 February 1924, the novelist Caradoc Evans, one of the sitters, heard the voice of his father that he ‘described as struggling through the floor and coming up between his feet’. After the introduction, Evans said that if the communicator was his father, he should speak in his own (Cardiganshire Welsh) language, which he then did, including such statements as ‘Uch ben yr avon. Mae steps – lower lawn – rhwng y ty ar rheol. Pa beth yr ydych yn gofyn? Y chwi yn mynd i weled a ty bob tro yr rydych yn y dre’ (this being the father’s reply to Evans’ question about the family home, which he described.  It is up to the reader to decide what would be involved in being able to speak in such a way, and in the case just cited, not knowing what questions would be asked, with of course, the necessary pronunciations; this is apart from the production of the other different languages (e.g. Russian, Spanish, German, Italian) spoken in various Valiantine séances, if these did not arise from genuine communicators.

In the preface to his book, Northcliffe’s Return, Hannen Swaffer records how, at a séance with Valiantine on 25 February 1925, one sitter, a Chinese Countess heard from her father; this was followed by Lord Northcliffe communicating and telling Swaffer what the intended book should be called. Swaffer confirms: ‘I have heard Northcliffe’s voice speak to me on, at least, eight occasions at Valiantine sittings. Once he spoke to me in daylight, in a way which precluded any chance of fraud or trickery’.

One of the more unusual instances of Valiantine’s mediumship occurred in 1927. A sitter possessed an ancient Chinese shell that was used as a horn, although none of the sitters could produce any note from it, no matter how hard they tried. However, in the séance when the shell was brought along, it was heard to be blown from high up, and furthermore, the notes produced were in the appropriate Chinese mode.

An article by Mrs W. H. Salter was included in the SPR’s Proceedings in 1932, in which there was a negative appraisal of George Valiantine. After mentioning the unsatisfactory testing of Valiantine by The Scientific American in 1923, she referred to Bradley’s later charges of fraud being carried out by Valiantine.

Bradley had already made reference in Towards the Stars to the suspicions of Dr Wyckoff about direct writing produced, although Wyckoff admitted that he was not convinced that Valiantine was a fraud and believed, ‘that unquestionably he has mediumistic powers’. But, ‘perhaps not all the time or at will’.

Nonetheless, Bradley subsequently changed his opinion about Valiantine, and recorded this in his book, And After: his change of opinion is startling, particularly in view of his positive reports and the vociferous criticisms of those who challenged Valiantine.

Bradley recorded that when imprints of spirit-hands in wax and smoked paper were obtained, he believed these to be fraudulent; nonetheless, he was careful to disconnect this from the occurrence of spirit voices that he believed were genuine.

Mrs Salter made the interesting observation that when the book was reviewed on 22 October 1931, by the Times Literary Supplement (hardly a publication known for a pro-Spiritualist stance), the reviewer believed there was ‘evidence of Valiantine’s supernormal faculties which no sceptic, as it seems to us, can reasonably call in question’. Indeed, by virtue of the testimony of sitters, there really could be little doubt about Valiantine’s mediumistic abilities.

When dealing with Valiantine’s mediumship in her report, Mrs Salter referred to a number of different séances when events indicated fraud, and suspicious features were noted by sitters, some of whom who were certainly not of a sceptical persuasion. Despite what is included in Mrs Salter’s writing, the reader is often confronted by the common custom of raising objections simply through certain details not being supplied, or possibilities that are really only conjecture, when the phenomena are not easily explained away. For example, in one séance when Valiantine was tied to his chair and the sitters were tied to each other, a complete list of whom the sitters were was not available and by virtue of this, Mrs Salter raised the question of whether the sitters might have colluded. When foreign languages were heard, she believed that the sitter’s own expectations may have influenced what they believed they had heard.

In a séance during which Italian was spoken, she suggested that it was possible a sitter may have pretended to have been the communicator, although she admitted that she had no grounds for doubting the integrity of the sitters present. When a communicator spoke to one sitter, and gave good evidence, Mrs Salter said this only ‘constitutes a case for further enquiry and nothing more’. It is difficult not to gain the impression that Mrs Salter sought to give any explanation to account for the phenomena, no matter how unsubstantiated, if it would preclude genuine mediumistic phenomena.

It was the instance of archaic Chinese being spoken to Dr Neville Whymant, a highly qualified Oriental scholar, involved in the translation of languages, that seems to have caused Mrs Salter some difficulty. It is this case where she suggested that the explanation might lay in the sitter’s suggestibility. To arrive at a conclusion about this particular matter, the reader can review Whymant’s own record of his experiences in Psychic Adventures in New York. At a Valiantine séance, a communicator spoke in Chinese mandarin ‘correct in intonation and pronunciation’, despite the immense difficulty of which Whymant was only too aware through his own teaching of the language.

The communicator said that he was Confucius, and Whymant asked him various questions, e.g. about the meaning of certain Chinese words and an item of textual criticism that had prevailed for many centuries; the communicator then supplied Whymant with two renderings, including the one which was correct, as the communicator knew and pointed out.

Despite her critical stance, Mrs Salter obviously had difficulties in attributing fraud or a this-worldly explanation for all of Valiantine’s mediumship; when suggestions, often lacking substantiation would not suffice, she had to agree that there were events that could not be accounted for, e.g. in the case of Valiantine being found to be covered in ectoplasm, she said that without further data, ‘this incident is likely to remain unexplained’.

Other examples of Valiantine’s mediumship can be easily found: when Dr Vivian was present, ‘while two voices were speaking, Valiantine was simultaneously heard to draw the attention of the sitters to the two voices’. When Admiral Nimmo had daylight sittings, ‘the voice which he heard to come distinctly from within the trumpet gave intelligent and evidential communication.’

A report by Lord Hope concerning his sittings with Valiantine, in the same Proceedings, essentially follows the overall style of Mrs Salter, offering telepathy or the medium possibly overhearing casual mention of certain facts beforehand as possible explanations. However, he related the positive instances that were witnessed together with those that were debateable. He referred to the lack of evidential material by communicators, apart from supposed communications from people who were in fact still alive, others who were fictitious and suggested by sitters in desperation to stimulate activity, and information given in earlier sittings being given back in later ones. Nonetheless, this was not always the case, e.g. Valiantine gave him the names of guides, two of which had been given at sittings with other mediums, and on one occasion, a communicator referred to a girl that Lord Hope knew, and correctly relayed specific information about her.

Another sitter, unknown to the medium, was given the full name of ‘a likely communicator’ and Hope admitted ‘there seemed no likely normal means by which the medium could have learnt this name’.

One communicator said that he was Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, and Hope agreed ‘the accent showed no trace of American [Valiantine’s accent], and was indeed quite unlike the medium’s ordinary voice and also unlike the guide “voices”‘. Hope asked the communicator to speak in German, the language of Martin Luther, and he did so; one sitter confirmed that ‘it was good German of an old- fashioned type’. A Japanese sitter was spoken to by a communicator and ‘was undoubtedly favourably impressed with what he had heard’.

Of trumpet movement, Hope said this was sometimes ‘very impressive’, and on one occasion a trumpet appeared to rise very high and strike something sounding like the ceiling, that was over eleven feet from the floor. Furthermore, two trumpets were sometimes in the air at the same time. In the case of the movement of other objects in the séance room, Hope noted that gramophone slowed down several times when it was ‘a considerable distance from the medium’s chair’ and the table moved from ‘where it would have been very difficult for the medium to have reached it’.

In the case of direct writing, on the occasion when Oriental characters were supplied, Hope suggested how Valiantine could have produced this fraudulently, but nevertheless conceded that the characters ‘were probably written in complete darkness during the sitting’. On asking an expert about the writing, Hope recorded how he ‘told me he did not think he could have done it himself in the dark’.

In addition to Bradley’s record, Mrs Salter referred to séances in 1925, when Lady Troubridge and Miss Radclyffe-Hall, representing the SPR, were present, and how their report was ‘refreshingly free from the obscurity and superficiality of most reports on Valiantine’.

In their report, supplied by Dr V. J. Woolley, they raised a number of justified questions together with criticisms concerning some aspects of Valiantine’s mediumship and the communications provided through him. However, they noted that Valiantine ‘asked no questions that could be interpreted as fishing for information’, and while they believed that it was impossible to arrive at any definite opinions, they felt that in the first séance, ‘that the total phenomena produced at this sitting were beyond what could have been obtained by the fraudulent efforts of the medium unaided’.

In the first séance on 13 March, there was trumpet movement, and Miss Radclyffe-Hall heard from a communicator who was recognized as someone who had died eighteen years earlier, and on being asked to supply the name of a mutual acquaintance, did so, with this being audible to all present. Later, a communicator gave a name to the same sitter that was recognized and complied when requested to supply a further name that was relevant: this being an unusual forename. Further evidence was supplied, to the sitter again, when her father communicated. He gave his name as ‘Radclyffe’ and Valiantine said that he probably did not have sufficient power to add ‘-Hall’ to his surname; in fact, her father was actually called Radclyffe Radclyffe-Hall. This was obviously evidential as a father would hardly introduce himself by his surname, but the medium was unaware of the duplicate name. In the record of the second séance on 16 March, the two researchers noted their reservations and concerns about the content of some of the communications, but agreed that the behaviour of one communicator was ‘characteristic of him and his manner’. The report also said there was ‘some opportunity of ascertaining that the medium…remained seated in his chair when voices were wandering round the circle’, and that the voice of a guide was heard at the same time that Valiantine was speaking.

The third séance on 21 March was not evidential, and had to be prematurely concluded due to the events, and the disruptive behaviour of Bradley who was present. These séances were followed by a daylight sitting on 23 March; in this, taps were heard inside the trumpet and Lady Troubridge and another sitter ‘were satisfied that the medium’s hands made no movement’. Later that day, a séance was held in a red light; Lady Troubridge carefully monitored the medium and said that she ‘could easily discern every feature and movement of his face…I could also  see with absolute certainty whether or not his mouth was closed’. She then went on to say that taps were heard in the trumpet, and one at the far end of the room, furthest from Valiantine, followed by a a voice giving his name and greeting the sitter who had her ‘eyes fixed on the medium’s mouth’ which was closed; this was followed by other voices speaking to her.

In Miss Radclyffe-Hall’s daylight sitting on the same day, taps and a voice were heard in the trumpet, and she reported that she ‘could not detect the least suspicious movement’ by Valiantine, and ‘during the whole time that the voice was going on, his mouth remained closed’ and his lips ‘remained without movement’. The communicator said that he was her father and named his wife, asking that she be told that he was ‘all right’. After the séance, both Lady Troubridge and Miss Radclyffe-Hall attempted to reproduce the taps and speech by normal means, but were unsuccessful.

When considering Valiantine’s mediumship, I believe it is fair to argue that it unfortunate that Lady Troubridge and Miss Radclyffe-Hall did not have more opportunity to attend séances with Valiantine. A reading of the available material certainly suggests that far more information about Valiantine’s mediumship would have been forthcoming from them as they were clearly concerned with evidence of survival with an objective approach. Regrettably, Bradley occupies a prominent role and the value of his contribution is highly questionable; as Inglis noted of him, ‘He had put in a great deal of work… investigating mediums, and had little positive to show for it’.

The full status of George Valiantine’s mediumship is really one of some uncertainty; nonetheless, some light is shed on the matter in view of those who attended Valiantine’s séances, holding very diverse opinions, and were unable to account for what was witnessed, or believed they had obtained evidence of survival.

Even in his book, And After, when Bradley modified his opinion concerning Valiantine, he admitted: ‘He is semi-illiterate. He possesses no scholastic education whatsoever…I mention these facts because many of the communications which have been in direct voice under his mediumship have been brilliant in their expression and culture’.

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.

 

“AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM……”

“A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM. . .”

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.”

 

Estelle Roberts

The Mediumship of Estelle Roberts

Estelle Roberts was born May Estelle Wills, in Kensington, London, on 10 May 1889: Barbanell referred to her as ‘one of the world’s greatest mediums and the possessor of nearly every psychic faculty’.

She recalled that her childhood was ‘ordinary, unremarkable’, except for the fact that she heard voices that other family members did not. In time, her experiences became a problem and she was told that such matters were evil and suffered chastisement from her father’s leather belt. Nonetheless, the attempted suppression was unsuccessful and she frequently spoke with her brother Lionel in the years following his death. After leaving school, when she was fourteen years old, she took up employment as a nursemaid, caring for the children of a family in Turnham Green.

She then married Hugh Warren Miles who was sympathetic to her psychic experiences; three children, Ivy, Eveline and Iris were born to the couple. In this period, there was considerable hardship as her husband earned only a meagre wage; matters were not helped by his charitable nature, e.g. giving his wages away to those in need. Eight years after being married, Hugh became ill and was unable to work, and Estelle therefore had to take up employment as a cleaner to support him and their three children.

After moving to Hastings, Hugh’s condition continued to worsen and he died in May 1919. At the moment before his death, Barbanell referred to how Estelle ‘saw two spirit forms sharing her vigil. They were her husband’s parents’; she recorded that she saw his spirit departing and that it ‘gradually moulded itself into an exact replica of his earthly body’. There were also physical phenomena elsewhere in the house at this time, surely indicating something of the events to follow in Estelle’s life. Following his death, Estelle saw Hugh on a number of occasions and heard him say: ‘Here, all live on and cannot die. It is quite wonderful’. Estelle’s response to these experiences was: ‘You live, and others live. It is the message I must tell the world’. However, much needed to be done before she would be able to demonstrate this.

Estelle moved to Hampton-on-Thames and shortly afterwards, married again. She was then able to devote more time to her children, but also to communing with her ‘spirit people’. Her neighbour, Mrs Slade, invited her to a Spiritualist church at Hampton Hill, and she was able to discuss her own experiences there with Mrs Elizabeth Craddock, whom she described as ‘a very good medium’. Mrs Craddock told Estelle that she possessed mediumistic abilities and she, therefore, attempted table-tipping, but after a complete absence of activity, she gave up in disgust and walked away – only to see the table rising which then hit her on the back.

She attempted a hasty exit whereupon she saw that ‘the table pursued me’. Realizing that this is what she was seeking, she stopped and thanked whoever was responsible: a voice was heard, in stilted English, saying that his name was ‘Red Cloud’, and she then saw the speaker. In view of these events, Estelle decided to conduct a séance with Arthur, her husband, and she reported: ‘We had not long to wait. Almost at once a brilliant golden light shone’; at this point, Arthur was alarmed to note that he could no longer see Estelle in her chair. This was the beginning of spectacular phenomena that would accompany Estelle for many years afterwards.

Following this, Estelle began to demonstrate her clairvoyance and clairaudience in churches in South London and North Surrey. At this stage important information was being relayed to her: one instance was when Red Cloud advised Estelle that in some cases people were unable to communicate due to the beliefs they endorsed before they died. Another example was Estelle realizing that on death people do not change: ‘By passing over they do not suddenly become paragons of all the virtues as some people seem to think…To all intents and purposes [they] are the same people they were on earth’.

Estelle’s mediumship continued to develop, supplying excellent evidence of survival; she recalled the occasion when a woman attended a sitting and Estelle only received one, rather odd, word over and over again. With considerable reservation, Estelle told the woman what she had heard and the woman responded: ‘But that is the very word my husband and I agreed upon as evidence of identification’; additionally, she achieved successes in the work of healing in which she was very active.

There can be little doubt that one of the most remarkable features of Estelle’s mediumship was the wide range of abilities that she possessed. In addition to those already mentioned, she was also involved in the investigation of haunted properties. In this, her mediumship would often determine the cause of the disturbances and she would be able to advise the person involved concerning matters about which she could not have known by normal means.

It is not surprising that Estelle was often requested to become involved in cases where people were frantic with worry, although she attempted to avoid instances where it would be thought that she was seeking media attention. However, on the occasion when she was asked by Douglas Sladen, a friend, to help in tracing Mona Tinsley, a ten- year old child who had gone missing in Newark in 1937, she agreed to assist: however, she stressed the need to avoid her involvement becoming publicized.

Estelle then obtained an item of the girl’s clothing from the Chief Constable of the area concerned and she recorded: ‘As I took it from its wrapping…I knew at once that Mona was dead. Just then, my old dog, who had been sleeping… suddenly leapt to his feet and began to career madly around the room’. Estelle then spoke with Mona through Red Cloud’s help and the girl described how she had been taken to a small house and strangled, and gave a clear image of the area.

The Newark police were contacted and Estelle was told that the description coincided with the area where the girl had disappeared. Estelle travelled to Newark and was collected by the police and they drove until Estelle recognized the house that Mona had described. They entered into it and here, Estelle felt the child’s presence and was able to give the police information about certain items in the property, and what had happened, e.g. the place and cause of death.

The police were obviously startled as the girl’s body had not even been found. They asked Estelle where the body was and she told them that they should look in the nearby river. The police later charged the owner of the house for abduction, and subsequently, when Mona’s body was found in the river, as Estelle had told them, he was duly convicted for murder. Estelle admitted that she did not enjoy dealing with such cases because of the strain effected, although she was nevertheless willing to assist people who had been bereaved through their loved ones being murdered. One such case when she was able to provide excellent evidence was detailed in the Sunday Pictorial. An occasion of when Estelle was able to bring comfort to a Mr Proctor, whose wife had committed suicide, was fully reported in The People.

In addition to the mediumistic work described above, Estelle demonstrated her clairvoyance at many of the public halls in this country, e.g. the Royal Albert, Victoria, Caxton, etc. In these demonstrations, many people received convincing evidence, and on some occasions, so many attended, that two halls had to be linked together by microphone. Fodor remarked on how her demonstrations at the Albert Hall were before up to six thousand people.

In the case of Estelle’s work as a physical medium, she recorded the time when Red Cloud made himself visible. The séance began with the trumpet ‘becoming most lively’, with a conversation taking place between one of the sitters and her father. After a period of silence, one of those present noticed ‘a billowing cloud that was becoming slowly more visible as it grew in volume’: it was realized that a face was present and this was recognized. It swiftly disappeared upon which the trumpet and two luminous plaques began to move; Red Cloud asked for a torch to be given to him and after a sitter had held this out, ‘the next instant it was high over the heads of the circle, flashing on and off as though being tested’. It remained on and moved across to where ectoplasm had formed in the room and a face became visible. Estelle detailed how: ‘This time it was the strong, cleanly-etched features of Red Cloud. The materialisation remained there clearly visible to all’.

It was several years before Estelle’s guide was seen again, this time in the presence of twenty people. Maurice Barbanell recorded the sequence of events in Psychic News. He explained that Red Cloud had requested in advance that two luminous plaques and a red torch be made available at a forthcoming séance; by this it was known that materializations would be joining the sitters. When the time came for the séance, Barbanell remarked on the humour and absence of any tenseness in those who were there: this was in response to Red Cloud’s wishes. Estelle took her place in a hastily-made cabinet, or ‘Wendy house’ as one of her daughters jokingly referred to it.

After the area was examined, the séance began and within a short time the two plaques rose up and Red Cloud’s silhouette could be seen. He called Barbanell forward and asked for his hand and then requested that Barbanell feel his hair; Barbanell noted the hand was masculine and the hair was long, silky and shoulder-length; he was close enough to see Red Cloud’s face that included a short beard and that ‘it was a handsome face, with eloquent eyes’. Each sitter was then invited to come up and inspect the guide’s features.

Following this, ‘an extraordinary spectacle’ took place. This was when the cabinet curtains were parted and one materialized person held the torch to illuminate another. After this, the trumpets moved and apports were produced through them. Each sitter received one, and most were given a jewel. Barbanell asked Red Cloud where they came from and ‘laughingly, he replied, “The Land of Anywhere”‘. In fact, while the apports were being dropped out of the trumpet, Red Cloud was laughing and ‘treating it all as a huge joke’.

Barbanell wrote that the guide ‘always welcomed controversial discussion [and] he never showed the slightest sign of irritation to any who disagreed with his viewpoints. Frequently, his humour was displayed in masterly repartee’. After this séance, further marvels occurred only a short time later when Red Cloud materialized with Archael, another guide, who was present for an hour with some sixty sitters.

As the séances of Estelle Roberts were often accompanied by apports, Estelle wondered whether, by their production, it might be thought this was through somebody else’s loss. However, Red Cloud assured her that they were all items previously lost or abandoned, with a number of them being drawn up from the sea. One of the more remarkable incidents of this type was when a sitter asked that a budgerigar from the bottom of the garden be brought to the séance. Estelle recorded that Red Cloud declared that it would be done, and ‘as he finished speaking, one of the two luminous plaques on the floor took flight and darted quickly about the room. Then it returned…its glowing phosphorus background showing the clear-cut silhouette of a budgerigar’. Having been assured by Red Cloud that the bird had been entranced and was wholly unaware of the events taking place, each of the sitters came up to the bird and touched it.

In the case of facilitating direct voice, Estelle stated that while entranced, ‘the spirit forms I see clairvoyantly and the spirit voices I hear clairaudiently…are suddenly no more’, and likened the state to being in ‘a drugged sleep’. It was only after nearly four years of her trance work that a circle was formed to develop her direct voice mediumship. Nearly a year passed without any progress being noticeable. However, after some patient waiting, phenomena did occur: ‘Once our ten-month initiation period was over, the voices started to come in, and keep coming in, almost without break’.

One sitter, who saw the moving trumpet when some light had been allowed to enter the room, described it as being ‘supported by a pillar of smoke’. In addition to the sitters, a shorthand writer joined the group and was placed outside the circle in an alcove where light was provided to enable her to write. As Estelle pointed out, the direct voice phenomenon was particularly evidential as communicators could be recognized by the phraseology and verbal expression that they used. In some cases, the communicator’s native tongue was heard; this occurred in the case of a Dutch communicator who spoke with his brother; the brother confirmed ‘that the voice spoke in excellent, idiomatic Dutch without any trace of accent’. Other similar occasions arose when communicators spoke in Finnish, Swedish, and Hindustani.

One palpable instance of evidence through Estelle’s direct voice mediumship was when Lady Segrave attended a séance: her husband, Sir Henry Segrave had died as a racing motorist, and coincidentally, had taken up an interest in Spiritualism some time beforehand after attending a séance with the circle of Hannen Swaffer. Shortly after the séance with Estelle began, the trumpet moved towards Lady Segrave and other sitters with short spells of conversation taking place.

The trumpet returned to Lady Segrave and her husband called using his pet name for her; but she ‘was so overcome at being addressed by the pet name which only her husband used and was unknown to anyone present’. He called the name again, and made further attempts to engage in conversation, but overcome with what was happening she was unable to respond. Eventually, Henry Segrave had no further power and the trumpet dropped to the floor. Despite the disappointment of this occasion, at the next séance, he and his wife did manage to speak with each other. He admitted that he had difficulty on the earlier occasion with manipulating the trumpet and drily added: ‘I knew how to drive a boat or a car, but I’m hanged if I can get the run of this yet’.

In the following months he and his wife held long personal conversations between themselves. She later brought friends along to séances who also received excellent evidence. In view of what she had experienced, a year after her first visit, she publicly told of the evidence that she had received. She admitted that she had been forced to do this as: ‘I feel it is my duty to help others who have been through the sorrow of bereavement, so that they can become happy again as I am’.

Estelle detailed a further striking piece of evidence connected with this particular sitter. In one séance, a boy spoke to Lady Segrave, giving his name and thanked her for the help that she had given his mother. He supplied further information when requested to do so, giving personal details of names and journeys. When the boy’s mother was informed of the communication, she ‘confirmed in awe-struck wonder every detail that had been known’.

Another case of remarkable evidence was when Bessy Manning communicated.

*See article below.

Estelle’s mediumship also brought her into contact with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one of Spiritualism’s most tireless advocates. After he died, he successfully communicated through Estelle’s mediumship. At one séance, one of Doyle’s friends was present and decided to gain personal evidence by asking the communicating Doyle a personal question. He decided to ask where they had last met and, ‘Instantly the voice replied they had last met by accident in a doorway in Victoria Street’. The sitter recalled that this was so.

Estelle admitted that Red Cloud, as a number of prominent guides of other mediums, made a mistake in 1939 when he predicted there would be no war. Estelle explained that wrong predictions were caused through looking at the current circumstances and making a judgement from these, i.e. a ‘forecast only on probabilities, on a knowledge of the facts and a careful weighing of them’.

In fact, indicating the peril of accepting predictions as unfailing, it is worthwhile noting that the forecast of there being no war from various communicators was one of the principal reasons for the decline in Spiritualism after the Second World War: ‘The outbreak of war in September hit Spiritualism with devastating force…a section of the movement…had explicitly accepted certain predictions made by the spirits through their mediums about the possibility of war…The movement has never recovered its pre-war position’. In view of the consequences, this aspect in communications is something that should be constantly kept in mind.

Despite the problems faced in these dark years, it was during this time that Estelle fulfilled the important task of bringing comfort and reassurance to those who had been bereaved, and allow those who had been killed to confirm their survival. One example was Mrs Stevens, whose husband, Flt. Lt. Richard Stevens had been killed in action; when she attended sittings, ‘her husband…identified himself by recalling trivial incidents in their domestic lives’; he also spoke about the children and events taking place in their lives at that very time. Numerous cases such as this occurred when the sitters were left in no doubt that their associates, friends and loved ones had not only survived death, but were able to communicate the reality of this fact.

Estelle died in May 1970, and in the years up to this time when she worked as a medium, she surely demonstrated a truly remarkable degree of mediumistic ability. This included many different forms that provided an unmistakable amount of evidence to the many thousands who witnessed her at work.

It is no wonder that Barbanell said that, ‘though I have read all the worth-while literature in Spiritualism in the last hundred years, I have not come across any accounts to excel the proofs received in the séance-room of Estelle Roberts’, whom he believed to be ‘perhaps the most versatile of all mediums’.

 

*THE RETURN OF BESSY MANNING

It may be fairly argued that all evidential séances are naturally memorable, and undoubtedly they are, and certainly so for those who actually gain the evidence forthcoming. Nonetheless, in modern Spiritualism’s short history, there have been a number of séances providing outstanding evidence with which few could remain unimpressed. One such occasion was a séance with Estelle Roberts, details of which were given by Maurice Barbanell in his book, This is Spiritualism. Despite the very considerable extent of his encounters with quality evidence, he referred to this as a ‘most moving experience’.

Barbanell related how, halfway through the séance, Red Cloud, the guide of Estelle Roberts, advised him there was a girl who wished to communicate with regard to her mother. Barbanell asked whether he knew her, and Red Cloud simply replied ‘No…but you can help her’. The trumpet then moved towards Barbanell and he could hear a young girl speaking; aware that encouragement often assisted communicators, he asked her to talk to him. Whereupon she ‘very slowly, but distinctly’ said that her name was Bessy Manning, and she had died during the previous Easter from tuberculosis. She then added that Tommy, her brother, was with her; he had been killed in a road accident. She went on to explain that her mother, having read some of the accounts written by Barbanell, was praying that Red Cloud would bring her daughter to one of Estelle’s séances.

Bessy then told Barbanell: ‘Tell mother that I still have my two long plaits. I am twenty-two, and I have got blue eyes. Tell her I want her to come here. Could you bring her?’ adding, ‘She is poor’. Barbanell assured Bessy that he would do his best and she thanked him and stressed how important it was, as her mother was very distressed having lost two of her children. Barbanell asked for the address where the mother could be contacted, and Bessy advised him this would be at ’14 Canterbury Street, Blackburn’. He then discussed the matter with Red Cloud and it was clear that the mother was to be contacted and invited to the next séance.

Without delay or hesitation, in view of his absolute confidence in Red Cloud, Barbanell sent a telegram to a Mrs Manning at the address given saying: ‘Your daughter, Bessy, spoke to us at Red Cloud’s circle last night’. However, there was no reply to the telegram, and Barbanell therefore despatched a further one. A few days later, Barbanell received two letters from Mrs Manning; the first expressing her absolute joy on having received the first telegram saying, ‘I laughed and cried all at once’ and that the telegram, telling her of Bessy’s communication, was worth ‘more to me than untold gold’. In the second letter, she apologized that Barbanell had needed to send a second telegram but she explained that she lacked the funds to reply by anything other than letter (in fact she had other children and her husband was unemployed).

Once again, she expressed her joy and said the telegrams were beyond value. She further explained that Bessy had died the previous Easter and her son had been killed nine years earlier, and if she had not been helped by a Spiritualist family, ‘I would have gone raving mad’.

At this stage, Barbanell viewed Bessy’s séance communication: ‘as flawless evidence for the after-life. No theories of telepathy or the subconscious mind can explain it away…Mrs Manning had never met Estelle Roberts, or corresponded with her or any member of her family’.

Barbanell arranged for Mrs Manning to travel to London and took her to where the séance was to be held. It was not long before Bessy was speaking with her mother, with the trumpet on one occasion falling to the ground with the excitement. After Bessy had told her mother that Tommy was with her, Mrs Manning asked whether she ever returned home. Bessy replied that she did and commented on how she saw her mother pick up her photograph and she would speak to, and kiss it. Barbanell reported that Mrs Manning later told him this was absolutely correct. Bessy continued by telling her mother that she had seen her talking with her father that same morning and referred to the subject of their conversation; this was followed by yet further evidence, all of which was correct.

Before Mrs Manning returned to Blackburn, Estelle Roberts gave her another sitting, when, once again, Bessy ‘continued to prove her identity with detail after detail, none of which the medium could have known’. Only a matter of days later, Mrs Manning wrote to Barbanell thanking him for his involvement and supplying him with a statement that he could use: in this she detailed all that had occurred and confirmed that, ‘I heard my own daughter speak in me, in the same old loving way, and with the self-same peculiarities of speech. She spoke of incidents that I know for a positive fact no other person could know’.

Barbanell added a note that after some years had elapsed, he attended another séance with Estelle Roberts and after Red Cloud announced that he had a visitor, Barbanell heard someone attempting to speak through the trumpet. After some encouragement, he heard: ‘You helped me very much by enabling me to talk to my daughter’. Barbanell recognized the communicator as Mrs Manning who continued by saying, ‘I have got Bessy and Tommy here. Can you tell my family?’

Barbanell wrote to the old Blackburn address but the letter was returned. However, he then received a letter from Mrs Smith, one of Mrs Manning’s married daughters who had been told by someone about an article written by Barbanell regarding Mrs Manning’s return. The daughter confirmed that her mother had suffered a seizure while alone, and by the time her children reached her, she was unable to speak before she died. The daughter said that her mother’s passing was ‘a cruel blow’ but went on to express her joy on receiving news about her survival and successful communication.

Estelle Roberts added an amusing footnote to the account in her own book. She explained that Barbanell would recount the incident of Bessy Manning’s return ‘in the scores of lectures up and down the country’ because of its remarkable evidential value. Eventually, he decided that he should no longer mention it as he had referred to it so often, and he realized that he would have to use later evidence.

On the first occasion that he gave a lecture, this being in Blackburn, and omitted the account, ‘he was approached by a woman whose face seemed vaguely familiar’. He suddenly realized that it was Mrs Manning who gently chided him saying, ‘I thought you would have told them about my Bessy’. Despite the omission in his later lectures, as the account is recorded in his book, Maurice Barbanell in fact continues to tell the world about the evidence of survival for Bessy Manning.

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More about Estelle Roberts

By F. W. Fitzsimons F.Z.S., F.R.M.S., etc.

After a visit to Italy, I returned to London, and went to a Sunday service at the Grotrian Hall, sitting in the audience with a friend. The hall was packed and many failed to gain admission. Mrs Estelle Roberts was the Clairvoyant for the occasion. After the address, she gave clairvoyance, selecting members of the audience at random.

This medium is remarkable in that she usually gives both Christian and surnames. If the person does not recognize the name or description of the spirit she is describing, further evidence is tendered; it is often most convincing. For instance she selected me.

“You there” and she pointed. I raised my hand.

“Yes, that’s right”, then she proceeded to say:

“There is a young lady in a robe of mauve standing near you; she wears a girdle of twisted rope of gold, caught up on the left, and with three knotted tassels. She gives the name of Annie – Annie Russell; she is your cousin, and passed out about twenty years of age. She says, Doctor is here – Dr Charles Morgan. You have two sons, she has a third with her in spirit land. Is that correct? She asked.

“Yes”, I replied, “every word of it.”

As a matter of fact, every time my cousin has appeared, she has been described to me exactly as above.

I stood up, faced the great audience, and publicly declared that all the medium had said was true, even to details.

A short time after this incident I met a clergyman I knew, and we booked private sittings With Mrs Estelle Roberts through the Marylebone Spiritualists Association (now known as the SAGB).

We went to her home at Teddington, and my friend sat first.

Mrs Roberts’ Guide, “Red Cloud” took control and went into intimate details of the sitter’s life, and gave startling accurate messages from the sitter’s deceased wife. My sitting was equally successful.

We visited her as perfect strangers, and the medium was in no way curious. She did not even ask our names. In bidding us adieu she, as an afterthought, called to us as we were going down the garden path, and gave us an invitation to be guests at her next private Direct Voice Circle, which was to be held on the following Friday. Naturally we accepted and were there at the appointed time.

The séance was held in an upstairs room reserved for the purpose. It was bare of furniture excepting the chairs on which people sat. The circle consisted of eight personal friends of the medium, excluding ourselves. The door was locked, the light turned out, and the sitters sang hymns.

Presently Mrs Roberts was heard to be breathing audibly, and this continued throughout the séance. It appears she sinks into a deep trance and remains thus during the whole time of the sitting. A red light was switched on at the termination of the séance. I then saw her body in a sagged condition in an armchair, and what appeared to be soft white net, concealed her head and the front part of her body.

To my friend and me, the sitting was astounding; literally, we were flabbergasted.

We had only sat a few minutes when one of the trumpets was raised, and it travelled right round the circle, tapping each person on the knee in greeting.

Everybody, by the way, had their hands linked with those of their neighbours’. Then from high up in the air we heard the low guttural voice of Red Cloud, the guide. He greeted my friend and me, and said we were heartily welcome.

A number of spirit people spoke through the trumpet; between each, Red Cloud would interject a few remarks, usually of a humorous nature; apparently with the object of keeping up the right rate of vibration and creating a brighter and happier atmosphere.

Gloom, pessimism, and a hostile, sceptic, or suspicious frame of mind reduce the “power” more or less considerably, and at times it is completely negatived.

Music, either instrumental or vocal, raises the vibrations and promotes successful results. Indeed, it is, in most instances, indispensable.

At this séance the singing died down to a mere hum when a spirit started to speak, so that even a whisper could be heard. All spirit people who came through were, apparently, relatives and close friends of the various sitters. One, a man’s voice, came, not loud, but quite strong, and vibrant with emotion.

”Doris; Doris; my darling, it is Harry, your husband Harry. Can you hear me?”

“Yes, yes, go on speaking; I can hear you, dear”, the widow replied (For evidential purposes Harry went into intimate private family matters.)

“The book – the book –“he said. “Submit it to the publishers at once, please. I want to see it in print.” Breaking off he remarked, “the old wall, the garden wall, I see you have stopped the work.

My darling I see you are thinking of spending three months in France; go, I want you to go to get well and strong again. I must leave now for the power is waning. God bless you, Doris, goodbye” and with a sob he was gone.

[It appears Harry had just completed a book in manuscript when he died. The old garden wall was being demolished and a new one was to have been built. Nobody knew of the widow’s intention of going to France for a holiday, in order to tear herself away from home and its associations.]

Another voice spoke, claiming to be a deceased son of one of the sitters.

“Mother, mother”, he cried, his voice vibrating with affection. It is I, Reggie, your son, Reggie. You MUST believe it mother. Do not grieve anymore; it hurts me and makes me suffer too. I am alive and happy.”

[This was the mother’s first experience of voice phenomena].

Recovering from her surprise she said: “Reggie if it is you who is speaking, tell me how you passed over, and anything else which will convince me.”

Instantly came the reply: “I was killed in the trenches in France; a piece of shell hit me.” A pause, then he resumed. “I saw you this morning upstairs in your room.”

“What was I doing?” the mother asked.

“You took up a frame and removed my photograph from it; you have it in your bag which is lying on your lap.”

I asked this lady afterwards if the statements were true, and she said, “Yes, absolutely in every detail as my boy stated.”

In regard to the photo: it occurred to her that by bringing it to the circle it might, in some way, help her to obtain contact with her son.