The Helen Duncan Case

by Hannen Swaffer

In the fifth year of our war for freedom! –  Orthodoxy was to arrest Helen Duncan, our best materialising medium, after submitting her to a physical examination that was indecent, refuse her a doctor until morning, ill with diabetes and suffering with shock though she was – and to invoke the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Orthodoxy was back to broomsticks!

While she was giving a séance at Portsmouth, a whistle was blown. Policemen rushed into the room, took part in a sort of Rugby scrum, and, because they could not find the white “sheet “- that is what they called the ectoplasm the medium had exuded – were childish enough to believe that she had swallowed it, or else that the sitters, who demanded in vain that they should be searched, had secreted it on their persons.

Baron Schrenck-Notzing, who spent many years on psychical research, had analysed ectoplasm. Dr. W. J. Crawford, of Queen’s University, Belfast, had weighed it, traced its flow – and even certified that one medium, while exuding it, lost 54 lbs. of weight!

Thousands of Spiritualists all over the globe knew it to be living matter, out of which they had seen built up solid spirit forms that walked about the room, talked with their earth relatives, had been photographed – Sir William Crookes took lots of photographs of a materialised “Katie King” which a member of his family destroyed after his funeral, although some of the pictures still survive – and played musical instruments.

But the Portsmouth police said it was a sheet!  More, the Public Prosecutor’s department bought cheesecloth  – and just because Harry Price, who had apparently forgotten that he once brought me a piece of ectoplasm which he said was cut from Mrs. Duncan’s body and which he had analysed, declared that her materialisations were cheesecloth which she had regurgitated.

So cheese-cloth, bought by Whitehall for Helen Duncan’s trial at the Old Bailey, was actually held up by Treasury counsel before every defence witness, each of whom was asked in turn, “Isn’t this what you saw?”  Yes, this took place in 1944!

Did the Treasury, the Public Prosecutor, or the Home Office underling who afterwards boasted of his cleverness in remembering the Witchcraft Act know that this Duncan prosecution would put every Spiritualist, every medium, and every psychical researcher in Britain in perpetual jeopardy? Someone must have known.

This is no attack on Spiritualism,” said Treasury counsel, time after time. The Recorder of London, who tried the case, stressed the same thing.

But the truth is that, since Helen Duncan’s conviction proved that mediumship of any kind is, in law, “a pretence at conjuring up spirits of dead persons,” public trance has been barred, in Altrincham, in a municipal hall – in case the town council were guilty of conspiracy!  More, free speech on the subject is so barred that, when I wanted to address a meeting of protest in Altrincham, I had to do so in Sale, a neighbouring borough. No local minister who was approached would lend his chapel! “It is contrary to the teaching of our religion,” they said – or else dodged it.

When questions were asked about this in Parliament, the Home Secretary was truculent and defiant. When he said that it had been arranged that an address was to be given “by the spirit of a dead man,” and that a collection would be taken, M.P.s roared with laughter.

Little did they know, but the Duncan case had caused such a scare about the Witchcraft Act that two printers who had read about the illegality of mediumship were afraid to print a pamphlet dealing with the subject and planned for distribution in the Commons. One suddenly got cold feet even after he had set up the type.

You saw, no doubt, many comic headlines in the newspapers during the Duncan case. You did not know that it might be destined to rank, one day, with the trial of Socrates, who was condemned to death because he said he had a spirit guide, and with the conviction of Joan of Arc because she obeyed spirit voices, that, remembering Helen Duncan’s conviction, Spiritualists recalled Rome’s threat to torture Galileo, whom it forced to recant, because he said the sun did not move round the earth.

The fact that Helen Duncan is a fat Scotswoman of working-class origin and with a desire to earn more money as a medium than we thought wise for her, does not affect the issue. She had demonstrated to countless numbers of people all over the land that it was possible for the spirits of the dead to materialise, that they need not rely on so-called “resurrection” because of an unproved, and contradictory, story of how Jesus returned from the grave, but that they could test it for themselves.

No fewer than 300 of these were prepared to give evidence at the Old Bailey trial. Actually, 40 of them did so. They included people belonging to all the Services, and various learned professions – a medical officer, a lawyer, one of the best-known Scottish journalists, a sanitary inspector, an electrical draughtsman, and a Church of England clergyman.

For three days, these described how full materialisations of relatives and friends had taken place at Helen Duncan séances, and that they were satisfied about the genuineness of her powers.

Yet, time after time, Treasury counsel held up the cheesecloth or butter-muslin, as some called it, and said, “Wasn’t it like this?

Then I arrived in the witness-box. You must realise that I had nothing to gain, but, although one of the most famous journalists in the country, I was risking obloquy and scorn. Yet Truth is Truth, and you have to stand for it.

“You are also, I believe, a dramatic critic,” said C. E. Loseby, counsel for the defence.

“I was, unfortunately,” I replied.

“Unfortunate for whom?” asked the Recorder.

“For me, my Lord,” I said. “I had to sit through it.”

I did not know until I turned him up in “Who’s Who” that he had once been a playwright of sorts, part author of “Rebel Maid.” You can guess what authors of humorous musical plays think of me!

Well, I told the Court that for over 20 years I had investigated psychic phenomena of every kind and type, and in many countries, and that the purpose of my investigation was: “It is my duty to tell people the truth about the survival of their beloved dead.” Then, saying how I had sat perhaps half a dozen times with Mrs. Duncan under test conditions, I explained to legal high-ups who thought ectoplasm was a piece of cheesecloth that it was exuded from mediums through the mucous membranes, the solar plexus, the ears and the nostrils, that it appeared to be a living substance, that I had seen it perhaps 50 times and that, in the case of Helen Duncan, it resembled “living snow.”

“When was the last time?” the Recorder asked.

“Since this case was sent for trial,” I replied.

The point of this was that, between Portsmouth and the Old Bailey, we had made a rigid test of Helen Duncan’s powers and that the results were so extraordinary that C. E. Loseby, who was present, said at the end, “I am so impressed that I will tell the Court I am willing to allow the medium to demonstrate her powers in open court, and in broad daylight.”

Yet the Recorder decided that all evidence about this test must be ruled out “since it would be under a cloud.”

Before this test sitting, two women took Mrs. Duncan into a room, stripped her stark naked, dressed her only in a loose black garment – the reason for this was that the ectoplasm was white – and then brought her, in our sight, into the séance room. There she went into a trance in a red light in which we could see everything that happened.

Albert, her guide, began: “Something has been said about a sheet. I will show it to you.” Immediately we saw a large mass of ectoplasm, probably eight feet long and six feet wide. This was what the police had called a sheet!

Then, to prove the genuineness of the ectoplasm, the medium moved half across the room, the living substance becoming a sort of rope which lengthened as she moved further away.

Yet all this was ruled out, as, later, was every scrap of evidence sworn to by witnesses who had sat with Mrs. Duncan all over the country. Nor was she allowed to give a test in court. “That would be in the nature of a trial by ordeal,” said the Recorder.

Surely if a woman who is accused of “a pretence at conjuring up the spirits of dead persons” offers to produce them in open court – well, what more can she do? But even if she did so, she would still be guilty under the law of Britain.

“Could the ectoplasm be mistaken for butter-muslin?” Loseby asked me.

 “Anyone who described it as butter-muslin would be a child,” I replied. “Besides, under red light, butter- muslin would turn yellow or pink. How could a red light make that kind of material take on a living whiteness?

Then I had to explain to a Recorder ignorant of ectoplasm, how it reacted to light, how the actinic qualities of light which retard photographic processes also affect ectoplasm. More, I had to tell how, the first time I sat with Mrs. Duncan, someone foolishly shone a light on the medium with the result that the séance had to be stopped and that then we discovered the medium was bleeding furiously at the nose.

I also produced a document signed by four magicians after I had taken them along to test Mrs. Duncan. They had tied her up with 40 yards of sash-cord, they said in their agreed statement, handcuffed her, and tied her two thumbs so close together with thick thread that it cut into the flesh. Although it had taken eight minutes for Will Goldston, a professional magician, to tie up the medium, her guide freed her from the cord, the thread and the handcuffs in three minutes.

As a dramatic critic I ridiculed, in the witness-box, the idea that Mrs. Duncan could impersonate Albert, her guide.

Yet, in his summing-up, the only thing said by the Recorder about my evidence was: “All that Mr Swaffer said was to contradict some of the others, not altogether to be wondered at.”

I did not contradict any of the others, for I was talking of séances at which they had not been present, and they were talking of sittings which I had not attended.

Besides, the Recorder seemed to have forgotten that I so smashed the case for the cheesecloth theory that never again, after I left the box, was it held up or referred to.

********************************************************************************************************************

I remembered how I could have killed the regurgitation theory, had the evidence been allowed, by producing a doctor’s certificate that Mrs. Duncan had a normal stomach and so could not regurgitate, and also X-Ray photographs proving that her stomach was normal. These, I held up in vain. These were not “evidence.”

Then, Treasury counsel, jumping at my remark that I had seen every possible test applied to Helen Duncan, asked if we had applied the electrical controls used by Harry Price when Rudi Schneider, the Austrian medium, came to London.

Treasury counsel did not know, but I was present the first time that test was applied, I sat with Sir James Dunn and Lord Charles Hope, in Harry Price’s laboratory, where the so-called electrical test was used – and I said so.

When counsel tried to force the point that this was the kind of test he had been hinting at all the time, I replied that it was not a real test and that, on the occasion I referred to, I was compelled to point out to the psychical researchers how silly it was.  For instance,” I said, “Price’s secretary was walking about the room.”

“Was she covered with phosphorus?” asked counsel.

“No, she was not,” I said.

Then, when the Crown asked whether Mrs. Duncan had ever been tested with a coloured pill – this would prove regurgitation if it occurred – I said “Yes, we tried even that.”

You can scarce believe it, but, only a few months after the King had asked all the nation to pray, Treasury counsel, referring to the fact that séances are often opened with prayer, asked: “Would not prayer make the sitters more receptive?”

“Would prayer make people receptive to the sight of a bus?” I jeered.

Besides, many people are Agnostics. Sometimes this court opens with prayer.”

Why, even the House of Commons opens with prayer. Does that make Winston Churchill credulous?

Well, we came back to the cheesecloth. This, I explained, would be merely a soggy and stained mess if brought up from the stomach.

May I try to swallow the cheesecloth?” I sneered, wishing to show that it could not be done; for it was hard and stiff.

“We will not reduce the Court to the level of an exhibition,” said the Recorder, reprovingly.

“Why have you got it here?” I asked counsel. “We tried to get Harry Price to try to swallow it. Never have I heard such nonsense – until Price invented this new lunacy of the cheesecloth. It is all a silly invention of his.”

That ended the cheesecloth bunk!

Counsel, coming back to Mrs. Duncan’s nose-bleeding, then asked, Did you examine her nose?”

“I looked at it,” I said. “What else does one do but look at a nose which is bleeding? Besides, I am a trained observer. My word is taken when I report other things.”

“Aren’t you a Spiritualist with fixed opinions?” said counsel, suggesting, 1 suppose, I would defend any psychic fraud.

 Yes,” I replied. “My opinions are fixed because they are based on evidence which is incontrovertible.”

“When you were a dramatic critic,” pressed counsel, “did other critics agree with you?”

“Criticism is not a matter of fact,” I retorted, but a matter of opinion.’’

Then counsel sat down, looking tired. And I stamped out of the court.

Well, having been refused a chance to demonstrate her powers in court, Mrs. Duncan was sent to prison for nine months; the Court of Appeal refused to reverse the judgment; and then the Attorney-General denied us leave to take the case to the House of Lords, saying, it is not a matter of sufficient public importance.”

Shortly afterwards, General Eisenhower promised the people of Germany that they would have religious freedom. But we Spiritualists have not got it!

Why, at Redhill, nine months after the Duncan case, the police banned mediumship in the borough!

A few weeks later, I met Herbert Morrison (Home Secretary) in the Ivy Restaurant. We had a friendly argument about my various criticisms of him. Then, at the end, he said, with a grin, “Well, I’ll see you on the Other Side.”

“Herbert,” I replied, “you are on the other side.”

Since then Morrison has changed his mind. A deputation of M.P.’s led by Clement Davies, who spoke for all the Liberal Party, went to see him to explain the disabilities suffered by Spiritualists.

In consequence, Morrison went so far as to say – and this was only a few weeks after he denied that we suffered any – that he understood our grievances, and that it should not be found impossible, when Parliament had time, to get through a non-controversial Bill guaranteeing Spiritualists their religious freedom.

Gordon Higginson

Gordon Higginson, though unable to speak the language, succeeded in giving remarkable clairvoyance, complete with full names, on a visit to Liege, Belgium in 1953.

For over an hour, at this his first visit, he triumphed over the language difficulty despite the fact that, following Continental practice, there were no hymns, music or prayers.

Indicating a woman in the front of the audience, the medium said: “I have a young girl in spirit here giving her name as Arlette. Can you place her?”

There was some hesitation on the part of the recipient and Gordon continued. “A-R-L-E-T-T-E,’ spelling the name.

Before the woman could reply, he added, “You must know this girl. She is Arlette Van der Houte.”

This was immediately accepted.

“I get the date May 8, 1949, in connection with this girl. I feel it had a great significance for her. Did she die on that day?”

“No.”

“I asked that as I am getting a feeling of going to a church and I see Arlette robed in white and that date is strongly linked with this.”

“Yes, that is right. It was an important date in her life; on that day she took her first communion.”

“I am now hearing the word Jemeppe. I have another entity who is giving the name Raymond . . . and now Lucienne . . . and Rue de Serbie. This Raymond is related to you by marriage and his name is Raymond Biquet.”

“Correct. Raymond lives at Jemeppe and I understand the Rue de Serbie.”

There followed personal messages intended to help the woman regarding her health and domestic affairs.

Gordon continued: “Both Raymond and Arlette are asking whether you have a piece of jewellery in your handbag which normally would be suspended on a chain. They are not sure where it is, but if it is not in your bag then it is at home in a drawer in a piece of furniture (which he described). If you look in that drawer, you will not only find this piece of jewellery, but also a small photo of the young girl in white, Arlette.”

At this, the woman became excited and exclaimed. “Yes, yes, yes, that is perfectly right.”

To a man at the back of the hall, Higginson said, “I have a spirit who gives the name of Minet. I am also getting the name of Georges.”

“I can place those names.”

“This man is telling me that his name is Georges Leon Minet, that he was interested in insurance and that he was a director.”

“That is quite right.”

“He now tells me that he lives at the Quai de Boverie.”

“Yes, he lived there and I knew him very well.”

Then followed a message relating to the business circumstances of the gentleman with the usual assurance of continued interest from the spirit friends.

Choosing another man, the medium told him: “I have on the platform a spirit who tells me that he knows you and that his name is Monseur Fontaine.”

“Yes, I knew him.”

“He tells me that he is connected with Rue de la Resistance.”

“Correct.”

“He now talks about a prison.”

“Quite correct.”

“He tells me that he knew your son very well.”

“Quite correct.”

“He tells me that the name of the road has been changed and that formerly it was called Rue du Nord.”

” Correct; it was Rue de Nord when the communicator was here and the name has been changed to Rue de la Resistance since his passing.”

“He tells me that you frequently pass in front of his house, that it is the first past the prison and that it is No. 1.”

“That is perfectly correct.”

Next came these messages to a woman: “I have a spirit here who tells me that his name was Georges Nicolas, that he was killed in the war and that he lived at the side of St. Barthelemy.”

“Yes, I knew him.”

“You have a prayer book, or some similar little book, which is ornamented in colours and was given to you by your mother. You make a habit of keeping pressed flowers between certain of the pages.”

“Correct.”

Breaking off, the medium picked out a man in another part of the hall and asked, “Is there not a link between you and the woman I have just been talking to?”

” Yes, she is my daughter.”

“You have a shop in St. Barthelemv.”

“Yes, I have long had a shop there.”

“Between the church and the prison.”

“Yes.”

“From this spirit I am getting the name of Driess.”

” He was my neighbour.”

“And also Longree.”

“That is the name of a road adjoining.”

“And Feronstree.”

“That is the name of the road where I live.”

“You must live at number 161.”

“Correct.”

“He is now giving the name of Paul Janson,”

“That is the name of the square at St. Barthelemy.”

“I have now the spirit of a woman who tells me that she was Mrs James and that she knew you.”

“That is possible.”

“She tells me that you used to visit her.”

“That is possible.”

She tells me you have a cake shop and that next to it is a high-class fruiterer. Your house has two letter boxes and also at the windows are green shutters.”

” Correct.”

Then rather excitedly, Gordon said, “She is calling out the name of Jacques.”

“That is my name.”

Another woman was told: “I have here a spirit who gives me the name of Petry Dabin. I get Louis … Leon … rue Robertson near the station Longdoz.”

“This spirit tells me he knows you and that you him.”

“Did you not go, quite recently, to a very impressive funeral? On that occasion, did not meet a Monsieur Dabin near Longdoz Station? Was it not on the side of a bridge? You have to cross that bridge to get to your home. He is talking of Rue Waleffe.”

“That is a road very close to my home,” said the woman who had acknowledged the correctness of the medium’s messages.

“He tells me that someone is ill in your home, and that you are frightened as to the outcome.”

“The object of Petry Dabin coming is his message of hope. There will be no death in your home.”

“He now calls out the name of Demet.”

“That is my name.”

“This man sends you his love . . . Rue Robertson Number 38.” – “that is my address.”

“He is talking of painting.”

“That is my husband’s profession.”

It is no wonder, in view of these spirit messages, that the enthusiasm of the meeting mounted to fever heat.

 

 

 

LONGTON TOWN HALL DEMONSTRATION 1949

MORE THAN 100 NAMES AND 28 ADDRESSES – A Remarkable Feat of Evidence

What must be a justifiable claim to the highest number of names and addresses ever given through a medium during a single public demonstration can surely be made by Gordon Higginson.

Demonstrating at the Longton Town Hall recently, where more than 300 people failed to gain admission, he relayed no fewer than 52 full names, 49 christian names and 28 complete addresses.

Besides this remarkable psychic faculty, Higginson was often instrumental in linking friends and relatves in the audience who were sitting in different parts of the hall.  His evidence was given in a long string of facts, presented with devastating accuracy.

To a woman at the back of the hall, he said there was a young man with her who passed away quickly and tragically.  “He is calling mother” said Higginson “and he tells me you are a stranger here but he has been to you often.  He says his name is Booth and he was killed in the Coventry Blitz.  He was a fireman.”

“He has met his father” continued the medium, “and they are both sorry you have left the old house in Broad Street.  Your son says he lived there.  They have both met Auntie Gertie, and your son remembers the uncle he visited in Stanyer Street, also your sister Emily.”

Higginson went on to speak of the kindness the woman had shown to her family by giving them her little home in Broad Street and today she had nothing left.  The husband and son had both returned tonight, declared Higginson, to prove that they had been watching over her.

At this stage, another facet of Higginson’s mediumship came into play, and indicating another woman seated at the front he inquired if she knew a Colin Morgan and Ron Bould who lived at 10 Broad Street.  The woman said she did and also acknowledged the earlier communicators named Booth.

Two brothers who had passed tragically, one in a road accident and the other by drowning, returned to greet their mother.

Having established contact with the mother and remarking that both sons met tragic ends, Higginson said:

“I can see a road accident with a bicycle with the younger one and water with the other.  They tell me that they are brothers and their name is Bryan.  They lived in Edwards Street, and they are asking for Emma Bryan, Thomas Charles Bryan and Edwin and Elsie.”

Number 55, apparently the address of a house was also mentioned.

The mother, overcome by emotion, paused awhile before replying.  Then she announced: “I am their mother.  My name is Emma Bryan.  Tom Charles is my husband, Edwin is my other son and Elsie is his wife.  One son was drowned” she explained “and the younger one was killed on a bicycle.  It is all true.”

As though this were not sufficient, the medium continued “They have met Mrs Wilshaw who liked to visit the pub at the top of the street.  They also speak of Mrs Proctor.”

Then Higginson’s ability to link people in various parts of the hall manifested again.  He indicated a woman in another section of the hall and requested her to stand.  Then he asked Mrs Bryan to stand and said, “Do you two ladies know each other.  I have seen the two young men walk over to you and say ‘this lady is a neighbour of ours.  We can see her back yard from our house.’ “

To a gasp of amazement from the audience, the woman agreed that she knew the two boys and lived only two doors from Mrs Bryan.

Mrs Bryan told reporters later that the evidence was amazing.

An Interview with Leslie Flint, Independent Direct Voice Medium

by George Cranley

This interview was videoed by Bram Rogers who preceded Leslie to the Spirit World soon after the interview.

George states that “I first sat with Leslie in 1971 and thereafter over ten years with a small group of friends, eight in number, once a month and more often if circumstances permitted. All the seances were tape recorded. Not only did he receive convincing evidence of the continuity of life, but Leslie was conscious throughout and often joined in the conversations. It all seemed so normal and natural. Since Leslie’s passing, I have had the pleasure of talking to him and Bram through the mediumship of Colin Fry who gave sittings to Leslie prior to his transition.Their voices were quite distinctive and their personalities unchanged, which is how it should be”.

Leslie may I start by asking you, when did you first sit for development?

Well, I started in the Spiritualist movement when I was 18 or 19; I sat for just on seven years with a very, very dedicated group of people. Previous to that I sat in a small group which broke up, but these things happen. People sit for a few months, nothing much happens, and they get a bit browned-off. Mrs. So-and-so is not very happy about Mrs. So-and-so. Is she in a trance or isn’t she? – you get an undercurrent. Eventually, I did get to sit with a group of very dedicated people. They had no axes to grind at all. They were quite prepared to sit for however long in the hope of receiving something. We sat for months where nothing, or hardly anything, of any consequence happened.

How many were in the circle?

Well eventually there were seven, but finding the right circle is very difficult because you get a lot of people who on the surface seem to be very keen, and they hope they may achieve or develop something. It was in this group of seven, a husband and wife and some friends who, I use this expression, had no axe to grind. They were prepared to give of themselves, and even if nothing happened, their attitude was well, look, what does it amount to? We sit together in love and harmony at peace. We shut the world out, as best we can, in the hope we may receive inspiration. If nothing of an extraordinary nature happens, we are quite happy and content to be as we are. There had been some indications, such as they were, that something was happening around me. I didn’t go into trance or anything like that in those very early days. I used to sit with the rest of them and think it was nice. I had a very poverty-stricken background. We didn’t and couldn’t afford what we then thought of as luxuries such as iced cakes. These people were in a reasonably good financial condition and everything was above my experience – their home, their way of speech and their attitude. To me they were people of a much higher stature socially. In a way, I enjoyed going there for the social side quite apart from the séances. If nothing had ever happened, the fact was that I was going to sit with these people once a week in a much better class area than that of which I was living. I lived in the worst possible poverty-stricken area in the town [St. Albans in Hertfordshire]. Anyway to cut a long winded story short, I was very, very, deeply interested in the subject.

Were they sitting for you or were you just sitting as a group?

It developed from the point of view of sitting together in love and harmony for whatever, if anything came. They began to realize, although I didn’t, that it was me that had whatever that was needed. They felt that they could develop and bring it out in some way. Eventually we did get some very strange happenings, noises which you couldn’t account for and a sort of hissing sound, I think that’s how I can put it, a sort of ‘sssssss’ sound. Then I started to go off into a trance.

How did you feel when you first went into trance? What sort of experiences did you have?

Well, I was annoyed. I mean quite frankly, they were saying to me, ‘you’ve been off’. I knew I had been off somewhere. We’d been getting this hissing sound, a sibilant sound, obviously someone trying to speak or say something.

Was this through the trumpet?

In the beginning we didn’t have a trumpet. I don’t know why we didn’t. After they had been getting this sound business, I was annoyed that they were hearing voices and I wasn’t hearing anything, so they said ‘We’ll get a trumpet made’. Eventually a trumpet was made although I don’t know what it was made of, cardboard or something. Later we got an aluminium one.

Quite a long time after that, it started to move and whizzed around the room a bit- I was scared. Actually, I was half here and half away at that period. I wasn’t too happy about it. The sitters were getting thrilled and excited about it. ‘Oh, thank you’ and ‘bless you’. Eventually after the trumpet having moved around a bit on several occasions, we got this voice, if you call it a voice. It was recognizable to a point, but it was unnatural. It didn’t sound like a real voice, but the circle was thrilled and happy and something was happening, and I thought, ‘Well, I do enjoy coming here for the tea and sandwiches!’

I realize now that you cannot command or demand anything psychic. You sit with the best of intentions hoping something may transpire. A lot of circles break up, as they did in my early time when nothing happens. I stuck it out and I was quite happy being with them. They were thrilled and I was happy, fascinated, and at the same time a bit nervous. We got eventually, the voices and Mickey came.

How long before the voices came – months or years?

It must have been just on seven years. Mickey and other people came. Of course, you know my interest was Valentino. It was through him and my interest in him, that I started to go into Spiritualism at all. His wife wrote a book, after his passing in 1926, in which she gave half of the book to messages she had received from him since his passing. I didn’t know, but it came to light, that Valentino had been deeply involved in psychics and Spiritualism, and used to attend séances when he was able. In particular he used to sit with a medium in New York.

I thought if someone like that, and his wife who was obviously a very brilliant woman, could be convinced of psychics and life after death and communication, I’d like to know more about it. I started getting messages in the direct voice purporting, and I use the word ‘Purporting’, to be Valentino. I accepted, but was not sure about it. Previous to that I’d had a letter from Germany, I’d never been outside of England and I didn’t know anyone in Germany. I got this letter when I came home from work one day, and my Grandmother, with whom I was living in this terrible area said. “Ere, there’s a letter for you up on the mantelpiece”. I said, “A letter for me?” I’d never received a letter in my life!

It was from some woman in Germany giving her name and everything and saying she held a regular weekly séance in Munich. A message had been received from Valentino asking her to write to me because I had a work to do for humanity. Well, I read this, and was absolutely overwhelmed. How could this woman, whom I had never known or heard of in my life, living in Germany, get my address and write to me telling me she had been in touch with Valentino? That was really the beginning of it all. That really got me moving.

Leslie, did you believe it was Valentino communicating?

I couldn’t believe it was Valentino. It was marvellous really, but I thought, “Why Me?” I had never met the man although I had admired him like millions of people did, they adored the man. I couldn’t take it in. I was overwhelmed by it. Anyway, I continued sitting with these people. A medium who was living in Watford, near St. Albans, with whom I’d had some sittings, also said that I had work to do, etc., and I thought, ‘well yes, I keep hearing this’. Eventually, the medium moved away from the area but by then I had developed clairvoyance to some extent and also got to know people who went to a little Spiritualist Church. When he left the church they asked me if I would take over the running of it.

The responsibility of taking over a church, such as it was, which seated about a hundred-odd people frightened me but nevertheless, I took it over. By this time I was beginning to develop. The circle said ‘Leslie, why don’t you give some séances’. I said “Well, I don’t know that one can do that in a public way.” With direct voice or physical mediumship you never know whether it is going to happen or not. It only needs one person who doesn’t understand the subject to do something stupid and it could endanger my health. They said “You must have more faith!”

When did you first meet Noah Zerdin?

I started to do occasional public direct voice séances or physical circles and they went very well, much to my amazement. Sometimes it was staggering! That was how I first met Noah Zerdin. He came over to Watford and joined a séance. I had never heard of him as this was long before his work or his name was well known. His wife, who unknown to me, had been tragically killed in a fire, came through. From that moment on he was totally overwhelmed and he got to the point where he wanted to attend regularly with me. I remember him especially because of the extraordinary nature of his sittings in those early days.

One day who should come to a séance but Maurice Barbanell, whom I had never met. It was about a year after he had started doing the “Psychic News”. Noah Zerdin had talked him into coming to Watford unannounced to sit with me. I can’t remember if he had a communication.

What led you to give public direct voice demonstrations?

Noah Zerdin said he wanted me to go and spend weekends at his family home and try experimental séances. He had this bee in his bonnet about shutting me in a cupboard. I thought %*^%$ that! Sitting in a strange house with people you’ve only just got to know who want to shut you up in a box-like arrangement was something else.

The whole idea was that if one could get the voices that way then on a stage you could have a covered-in part of where the medium could sit and the whole of the theatre could be in full light. He wanted to bring physical mediumship and direct voice to the public in an open theatre of about 1000 or so people. Everybody could then hear everything that took place unlike a private séance where only half a dozen or so could hear.

I played along with him on that. It would be interesting I thought. The understanding was that under no circumstances were we to have microphones in the cabinet because people would think that something had been rigged. I demonstrated in this way in the years that followed, at the Scala Theatre, the Kingsway Hall, and in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. We never allowed microphones in the cabinet. The Tannoy people installed everything. They stood in front of the audiences and assured them that there were no microphones hidden in the cabinet. The extraordinary thing was the voices were clear even though the microphones were up to two feet away from the cabinet.

Did Noah Zerdin always go with you to these public meetings?

In the early years, yes. There were occasions when other organizations asked me if I would do a demonstration. These were separate from Noah’s Link of Home Circles. In those days everything that was done was organized by reputable Spiritualist societies to try to give conviction of life after death to suffering humanity. Not like today which is now big business where people are more concerned about their name in the paper and making as much money as they can. The people I worked with, thank God, were genuine, sincere, deeply involved and anxious to help comfort humanity.

All those meeting that we did – I know prices are different today – but when you think that they would hire the Kingsway Hall or the Scala Theatre, they had to advertise of course, they also had an organist and yet they did it for almost nothing. There was no money made. I didn’t get any fees. I was never paid a fee. We did it because we wanted to help and comfort and uplift mankind. The financial side had to be assured, obviously there were some people who made a donation towards the expenses but I never, ever, received a fee.

I was asked by different Spiritualist organizations if I would help the Societies because things were difficult financially. Not like today. You read in the “Psychic News”, for an evening of clairvoyance at the local church, they charge #2 – #3 – #5. We didn’t look at it, we didn’t think of it, in that way. Finance was not the vitally important thing it is today. Today it is big business. I am ashamed to be a Spiritualist today, to some extent, when I’m lumped together with some of these people. To me, they are not presenting Spiritualism in a way which commands respect.

What do you think of the Spiritualist movement today?

 I think the movement has gone downhill. I was brought up with people who hadn’t got two ha’pennies to rub together; they didn’t really make any money. They had to give few private sittings to help out, that’s true enough, but today it’s different. I have to admit perhaps I am prejudiced by all those people I knew, people no one had ever heard of, who worked in their local churches and were sometimes quite excellent. They weren’t seeking a name or a lot of credit or a write-up in the “Psychic News”. Today they’re like pop stars. This is the way I feel about it. I think they are letting the movement down.”

In the old days Maurice Barbanell didn’t just print anything in the “Psychic News”. He was a bit of a task master. He would make sure what he was printing was fact. He wasn’t always happy about me but that didn’t worry me because I respected him. He wouldn’t just publish something in the “Psychic News” because a medium wrote in and said what a wonderful demonstration they had given. He’d want to know, he would want to be there and witness it himself. Now mediums write books, some being sheer rubbish and imagination.

Do you think that the hectic pace of life today is putting pressure on mediums to perform?

In the old days if you couldn’t produce it, you didn’t do it. I remember Estelle Roberts opening a church, which was an important time for that little organization. She volunteered to give a demonstration of clairvoyance free of charge to help them out.

She couldn’t get anything. She had to admit it and said “I’m awfully sorry friends, I’d love to help you, that’s why I’m here, but I’m not getting anything”. That’s what mediums should do and not give a substandard performance by fabricating messages or padding them out.

I have seen the great days where ordinary working-class people did wonderful work. I have also seen people like Lord Dowding and Shaw Desmond and a lot of the well known personalities take a theatre for an evening. They would give a short talk beforehand about the movement and to try and explain and help people to realize the greater purpose behind the séance which I gave.

Now, nobody bothers about spirituality and what is behind it. Not only the personal messages which are wonderful to get and what we need – you’ve got to have conviction and evidence – but the spiritual side. We used to get some wonderful communications through trance mediums such as Horace Hambling. It was a joy and a pleasure to go. You were being spiritually uplifted.

Leslie, what is your answer to people who say physical mediumship is a low form of mediumship?

I can understand, in a way, why they say that. The point is, if you want real conviction of life after death, physical mediumship is the answer. I am not saying you won’t get it through mental mediumship. A lot of wonderful things have been achieved through clairvoyance and trance mediums. All the different aspects of the subject are vital to the cause.

In a physical circle, if you are fortunate to sit in one where it is obvious that everyone is genuine and sincere and they are not doing it to make money or get publicity, you may get that direct communication from someone you have known and loved. You might get a message from a certain person giving information and you haven’t a clue what it’s all about. Later, you may be able to find out that the person did exist and that what they said was correct.

Evidence is always a personal thing. In the majority of cases, the best evidence is from someone you have known and loved. You may have made some pact with them. I’ve known of cases where a person said ‘If I can ever get through, if there is any truth in all this, I will say so-and-so’. I have known that to happen. Then again you will get critics who will say ‘Well of course you knew all that. You had it in your mind. Maybe they were able to pick up your thoughts’. All communication is a mental process whatever form it takes.

Evidence is something of such a personal nature that you can’t lay down hard and fast rules. You asked me about direct voice or physical mediumship. Of course it is the most evidential and striking because it’s much more likely to be of a nature which you can’t fake. There have been fake mediums. Let’s face it.

Surely if they are fakes then they can’t be mediums?

William Roy, who I think, in the beginning did have a genuine mediumship, realized he couldn’t always produce phenomena and started faking it. Some of the things he got in the early stages were obviously genuine.

The tragedy of physical, indeed all, mediumship is you can’t guarantee anything. No medium can guarantee anything. No medium can guarantee anything and no two séances are the same. Many a genuine, sincere person has gone to a Spiritualist Church in the hope that maybe there’s something in it and that may be helped, uplifted and encouraged. They’ve gone once and they’ve never put their foot in a Spiritualist Church again because the programme has been so awful.

When one talks about this whole subject, one has to realize that possibly it was never intended to be demonstrated in a public way. The whole thing is so personal, fundamentally. The person who is searching for truth and hoping for comfort and upliftment is very unlikely to get it in the theatre or cinema or in a public place. Mediumship, by its very nature, is a very personal thing. That’s why a group of people-dedicated, sincere, searching for truth, sitting together regularly over a period of time – will eventually achieve something of value. You have got to realize there’s no guarantee that it will work or will happen.

I once took a very big meeting at the Kingsway Hall and I had done quite a lot of meetings up to that point. They had all been successful, some more so than others. On this occasion I collapsed in the cabinet. Fortunately, Joseph Benjamin who was in the audience, took over and gave a demonstration of clairvoyance while I was carried out.

Did you feel any different giving large public demonstrations as opposed to small groups?

There is always a certain amount of apprehension at any time when you hold a séance. The onus is on you, not that you can do anything about it. I was a little apprehensive at times, especially when going to Manchester or some other big hall where the conditions were unknown. I suppose it varied according to how one was feeling at that particular time, but I had in my innermost self, tremendous faith in the ‘Other Side’. I knew they couldn’t work miracles, although they seemed like miracles to some, and there would be times where they couldn’t achieve what they wanted.

Psychism, spiritualism, mediumship is not necessarily something one should assume should happen when you think it should happen. The best séances are those that happen spontaneously or without any sort of realization that it’s going to be. You cannot command or demand. It may, sometimes, happen with great success, and at other times – nothing. There have been moments when I have thought so-and-so is coming up to me for a sitting, perhaps a very famous person who I would like to meet anyway. I would pray within myself that it would be a great success and it turned out to be a flop. You never know what is going to happen. These people who produce things on demand, like rabbits out of hats, I’ve no time for.

Leslie what is your view on the resurgence of physical mediumship today?

There should be, and there is, a great deal of general interest in the physical side of psychic phenomena. It is the most convincing form of phenomena, under the right conditions.

Did you ever have any form of physical manifestation in your séances?

They started that with me halfway through my development. We were having wonderful success with the voices. All manner and kinds of communication took place for all sorts of people from all walks of life, and that was fabulous.

Then, they started to experiment with ectoplasm forms. I can’t say they were complete forms because they were not. There were obviously attempts being made to build up and it scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t like it, I didn’t want it, I resisted it. Not only did I respond in that way, but one or two of the sitters weren’t too happy about it either. I suppose, in a kind of way, I got to the point where I accepted the voices, and everybody else accepted them. They were uplifting, they were comforting, they were helpful and they were doing wonderful work. When you see something happening that is, well, not exactly frightening but…

I remember we were sitting there one night and we saw this hand materialize. I didn’t want it to come near me, that was my reaction to it, so I killed it in a way. I was happy with the voices, to me, that was intelligent. It was something that proved and gave comfort. With this other business [manifestations] it was…I don’t know… there was an awful smell.

When the voices began were you in trance?

Well, I used to go in and out of trace for a time. I used to get irritated sometimes when people would say [we had no recordings in those days] ‘Oh, we got so-and-so today’. I thought,’ That’s all very well for you’. There were times when I was out and times when I wasn’t, it varied. In the early stages, I’d drift off but I could sometimes hear slightly. It’s when you are not fully out, it’s when you’re halfway there, that you get a bit edgy. It got very irritating when people said, ‘you know we had this that and the other’. I thought well I got *%$@ all.

Have you ever had any information yourself through Direct Voice for your own personal use of development?

Yes, but I never had a great deal of personal things. Many years ago, an American came over from San Francisco. He contacted me, saying that he would like to have a séance with me, having heard about me through some American friends. His wife communicated. He had a number of séances with me and stayed on in England because of the séances.

After my wife died, he wanted me to give up everything and go and live in San Francisco. He was a multimillionaire. He wanted to build a church and hold séances and meetings there. He said he would finance everything and when he died he would leave everything for me, because I had given him new heart, new hope and he knew all was well with his wife, etc.

Were you tempted?

It was a great temptation. I had my regular weekly circle at that time and I asked whether I should accept an offer that had been made to me- I didn’t say what it was. Anyway, we got a message saying ‘under no circumstances was I to go to America, that my work was here in England, and not to worry’ or words to that effect.

I thought it was a marvellous opportunity to go and live in America and to have everything I needed. No headaches, no worries about finance or old age. I was furious because I had obviously turned down what was a wonderful opportunity. It was quite genuine. I thought ‘well they said no, I had better not go’. I stayed on and got up in all the various things that have happened over the years, good, bad, and indifferent, but I have no cause for complaint.

The Other Side have been marvellous. I’m not saying they had to do, or did do everything. Of course they didn’t. They did what they had to do as best they could. I remember Mickey [the guide] saying once – it must be at least 30 years ago- you play ball with me, mate, I’ll play ball with you’. How true that has been! You play ball with them, to the best of their ability, and they will do everything to help you. The medium is merely the vehicle, and the less the medium is involved the better it will be and more likely it is that the mediumship will open up and expand.

Leslie what role does the conscious mind play in physical mediumship?

That will vary.

Depending on what?

Depending on all sorts of factors.

Do you think that if you, for example, were desperate to help somebody, that it would influence the communication?

Only in as much as you are anxious from within your innermost self they will be successful. You know very well that there is nothing you can do about it. The less you know your sitter the better it is. I’ve learned from other mediums, although they don’t like admitting it, that they pick up things from the answers a member of the audience gives and then they add to it and extend it.

Being a good sitter is an art in itself. You should be able to sit with an open mind and an open heart, willing to receive whatever it is that may be of value or help, but not to suggest things to the medium and not to put things in their way from which they can build. I think a lot of mediums, unconsciously maybe, do build up and add to a message. A medium is a sensitized person and will pick up from all manner of conditions and sources. In a circle, you just sit there and say ‘Here I am for the next hour or whatever. If I can be of any help or service, okay’. It isn’t what you can do, but what the Other Side can do through you. You’ve got to be like a sponge, you’ve got to absorb. I remember Mickey saying once to me, in answer to that question, that if you had been in trance they would have preferred it, rather than you had been conscious. It made it more difficult for them.

You have to see it from different angles. I think being in trance, knowing nothing, is much the best thing in more ways than one. The point is, that if you’re conscious of what is going on, you could, unconsciously perhaps, infiltrate or in some way affect the communication. If you accept the premise that all communication is a mental process and the medium is aware and conscious, he could infiltrate the message.

A lot of mediums get messages which fundamentally are marvellous but by putting their own interpretation on what they receive and perhaps getting a sentence wrong they could transform the meaning intended by a communicator. I agree that being in trance is probably the best thing, but again, from the sitters’ point of view, if the medium is conscious and a voice is talking and the medium is talking from time to time and sometimes butts in on what is being said, they say it couldn’t have been ventriloquism.

[I can recall a number of occasions when a voice was speaking yet Leslie could be heard coughing or sneezing or sucking a sweet. Also ventriloquism cannot work in the dark! – George Cranley]

We have to realize that we had a great responsibility placed on our shoulders. We have to treat mediumship with respect and we have to do it in the best possible way we can, to give people that realization we are genuinely, sincerely anxious to uplift and comfort them. I believe we must present this in a way that will command respect.

One final question – You’ve spent a great portion of your life literally in the dark, how do you feel about it now?

There is only one answer, and that is my life, which has been given to help humanity, to give comfort from the point of view that death is not the end, that the person they’ve known and loved still exists and at times is able to come near them, and that one day they will meet again on the Other Side of life, then all the sitting in the dark is unimportant.

 

 

Direct Voice via John Sloan

Question: How is it that you can speak to us on earth?

Answer: By materializing my etheric mouth and tongue.

Question: Can you tell me something of the method by which this is done?

Answer: I shall do my best to make you understand how this is done, but remember you cannot get a proper grasp of the difficulties we are faced with until you yourself come across to our side. However, I shall explain our methods as clearly as possible. From the medium, and those present, a chemist in the etheric world withdraws certain ingredients which for want of a better name is called ectoplasm. To this the chemist adds ingredients of his own making. When these are mixed together a substance is formed which enables the chemist to materialize his hands. He then, with his materialized hands, constructs a mask resembling the mouth and tongue. The spirit wishing to speak places his face into this mask and finds it clings to him, it gathers round his mouth, tongue and throat. At first, difficulty is experienced in moving this heavier material, but by practice this becomes easy. The etheric organs have once again become clothed in matter resembling physical matter, and, by the passage of air through them, your atmosphere can be vibrated, and you hear his voice.

Question: But how do you get this air? Are the lungs also materialized?

Answer: In a full materialization, yes.

Question: I have often heard two, or sometimes three, voices speak at once. Are other masks used in these circumstances?

Answer: Yes, on these occasions conditions are good, and the chemist has sufficient ectoplasm to construct several masks, which are all sometimes used at the same time. That accounts for your hearing more than one voice speaking.

Question: Where is this mask placed?

Answer: Usually in the centre of the circle. The chemist keeps as much ectoplasm as possible within the circle, but, when the quantity given off by the medium and sitters is small, it gathers about the floor, which accounts for voices coming from the floor when conditions are poor. On the other hand, when conditions are good and we have an ample supply, we can build right up to the ceiling, which accounts for the voices on these occasions coming from high up in the room.

Question: After the mask is completed, what do you do?

Answer: The person wishing to speak takes up his position in the centre of the circle, and presses into the ectoplasmic materialization and then commences to speak, moving his mouth and tongue just as you do when you speak.

Question: What about the trumpet?

Answer: This is used, not only to magnify the voice, but to enable it to be directed towards the person we wish to speak to. The trumpet is moved by materialized rods, and is controlled by one on this side whom we term the trumpet operator (Gallacher)

Question: Good evening, I take it that you are Irish.

 Answer: Yes, sir, right first time.

Question: Well, my friend, I want to know all you can tell me about your work in helping those on your side to speak to us on earth.

 Answer: When a spirit wishes to speak to you he takes on earth conditions from your surroundings. We always know when your meetings take place, when you are meeting. I am responsible for manipulating the trumpet. I have been standing beside you waiting to speak to you, and I am glad of the chance to tell you what I can.

Question: So you are responsible for the megaphones or trumpets?

 Answer: Yes, I deal with them entirely. When there is going to be a meeting, the chemist whom I work with generally lets me know when it is going to occur, and asks me to come along at the specified time. He supplies a substance, and also obtains a certain amount from the medium and the other sitters. It is the combination of this spirit—substance with ectoplasm, drawn from the medium and sitters, which enables us to materialize. If there is enough it allows the metallic instrument to go to all parts of the room, and voices to be produced. When I came tonight I first looked to see where I could best gather the most ectoplasm. The chemist gets it from me and adds his ingredients, and it is then conveyed to the most suitable place. I also speak for those who cannot do so, and also for those who may be a long distance away. These latter send me their messages as you send messages by wireless; these are picked up by a receiver and given to me; I then pass them on, giving the person’s name. I merely act as an Exchange.

  Question: Does that account for what is sometimes thought to be impersonation?

 Answer: I am the one who passes the message through, but you may sometimes think that I am not the right person speaking. I am the messenger to you from those who cannot speak.

 Question: I am glad of that explanation, not that I have ever experienced impersonation, but it is interesting and helps me to understand your difficulties. Now can you tell me anything more?

Answer: When spirits come into the circle to speak they actually, for the time being, partially materialize; their mouth and tongue being coated by the substance we make. There is a nexus between the medium’s larynx and the materialized mouth and tongue of the spirit speaking, which enables the words the speaker forms to be heard by you. We then feel as we did when on earth. The organs of speech take on a thicker form, our tongue thickens and so do all the other materialized organs. We cannot be heard by you until we again put on matter of slower vibration, and it is only when we find someone like the medium, who can supply us with this ectoplasm, which we fashion to our requirements, that we can again make you hear us. Ectoplasm alone, however, would be of no use without the chemical substance we supply from our side. It would not materialize without it.

Question: What is this substance?

Answer: The chemist is standing beside me, and tells me to say it is no use giving you its ingredients as they would mean nothing to you on earth. He says, however, that the finished product is a substance by which material things can be moved. Nothing can be moved without it. All physical bodies are composed of many different ingredients from which we draw the substance you call ectoplasm.

Question: I once put my ear right up to the medium’s mouth when a voice was speaking, and heard a hissing sound. My father’s voice was speaking at the fat end of the circle to my brother, yet no words came from the medium’s lips, only a soft hissing sound. At other times, when I have done the same thing when a voice was speaking, I have heard nothing. What was that hissing sound I heard?

 Answer: From the medium’s mouth is projected a materialized ectoplasmic tube to carry the vibrations of his larynx to the spirit speaking. The medium’s larynx is used to vibrate the atmosphere,
the spirit’s materialized mouth, throat and tongue to form the words. You were fortunate to hear this hissing. Your scientific men interested in the phenomena would have been glad to have had your experience, as it is something to give you a start in getting some real knowledge of how the voice is produced.

Question: Can you tell me something more about the mask which you enter when you wish to speak?

Answer: You can call it a mask or a dummy. We gather the ectoplasm from the sitters into what I might term an urn; not a physical urn. If you wait a moment I shall try and show you it. (Sloan’s hands and feet were still controlled. I waited, and gradually there appeared high above his head a luminous object which assumed the shape of a large flower-pot, and then faded away.) Did you see it? (Yes, I replied.)

Well, we gather the ectoplasm into this, and the chemist adds his ingredients. The finished product is matter slow enough in vibration to vibrate your atmosphere. The mask, until it is entered by the spirit wishing to speak, is incapable of speaking itself. The spirit has to tune down his organs of speech, and thus contact between these and the mask becomes established. When the magnetic or psychic power is strong enough, there is no difficulty in obtaining sufficient cohesion between the speaker’s organs and the mask. When cohesion is established, the ectoplasmic material moves with the vocal organs of the spirit. It is exactly as if we coated our mouth and tongue with this material. It sticks to them and moves with them.

Question: Has this mask weight; would it affect a balance?

Answer: Yes, it has. The ectoplasm taken from the sitters has weight, and the sitters’ weight is reduced in proportion to the amount that is withdrawn. If you were to sit on a weighing-machine during the sitting you would find your weight decrease. The ectoplasm is returned to the sitters at the end of the séance and they become normal. [This has been proved correct by experiment.]

Taken from On the Edge of the Etheric by Arthur Findlay

 

 

Direct Voice by Arthur Findlay

To obtain the Direct Voice we require, in conjunction with those in the etheric world, to make the necessary conditions, or otherwise the phenomena will not take place. They on the other side require our co-operation just as much as we require theirs. We are the passive, and they the active co-operators. We require an individual, the medium, possessed with certain vital forces, or substances, to some extent more than normal. To these we, the sitters, supply our own normal vitality.
That constitutes our part in the proceedings, while the rest is done by those who are working with us beyond the veil. As my investigations progressed, so was I impressed with the complications of the procedure in the etheric world which were necessary to produce the conditions to make communication possible. A group of etheric men who are expert in the handling of organic chemical substances work along with us. Immediately we assemble they get to work to do their part.
The group consists of a director of operations, one or more chemists, one who moves the trumpet in the direction an etheric communicator wishes to speak, and one who gathers the substances from the medium and the sitters by connecting them up with the chemist who draws from them the necessary material. This extends from the medium and the sitters to a central point, and the substance drawn from them is gathered by the chemist into an etheric bowl into which he also adds etheric substances of his own. Another of the group helps etheric newcomers to speak, telling them what to do; others keep away those whose only interest in the proceedings is curiosity, and Whitefeather, to whom I have already referred, considers himself the most important of all, as he is detailed off to give warning when a séance is to take place, so that all the operators may be present and at their posts.
Such is a general description of the modus operandi of the direct voice, on the physical and on the etheric sides of life, but, given the necessary conditions, what is the explanation of all that takes place?
First of all, we must accept their statement that the etheric body is in every way a duplicate of the physical body, both as regards all internal and external organs. In etheric life, communication takes place in the same way as in earth life. The vocal organs vibrate their atmosphere, the tongue moves, the lungs draw in and expel the equivalent to our air, everything proceeds as it proceeds here on earth, the only difference being that it is all taking place in matter of a much finer structure and at a much more rapid rate of vibration.
Thus their vocal organs, though they can operate in their etheric world, cannot do so in our grosser world. Their texture is too fine for them to have any effect on our atmosphere. New conditions must be created in which vibrations are slower. To obtain these, absolute darkness, or subdued red light, is necessary, as the rays of white light break up and disintegrate those finer forces and substances with which they work. The best results are obtained when the nights are clear, and the atmosphere is free from moisture. At the best the conditions permitting speech are very finely balanced, and, besides the foregoing, the sitters must be in good health and harmonious amongst themselves.
Now let us imagine that we are sitting in a circle, the medium being with us, that by singing we have vibrated the atmosphere for about a quarter of an hour, when suddenly a voice, clear, distinct and away from the medium, breaks in upon us, and, after giving name and earth address, engages one of us in conversation. What has actually happened? It was this question that was always uppermost in my thoughts after I became accustomed to these strange conditions. Was it the medium impersonating someone, or an accomplice among the sitters? For many reasons I became satisfied that this voice did not proceed from any human being, but that there was a personality behind it, which was not one of this world, present in the room. I therefore set myself to find out what actually was the cause behind this effect, and, by a series of questions and answers, over a period of time, was told the following, which, for the sake of brevity, I shall put in my own words.
The chemist, to whom I have already referred, after mixing the substances he obtains from the medium and sitters with his own ingredients, takes the finished preparation and with it first materialises his hands and then forms a rough mask in the likeness of a mouth, throat and lungs. This, when finished, is placed in the most suitable part of the room, often in the centre of the circle. The etheric person (whom we shall call in future the etherian) wishing to speak then presses into this mask, slow in vibration, and with it clothes or covers his mouth, throat, tongue and lungs. These organs then take on a thicker or heavier condition, the tongue requires more exertion to move, but with a little practice it all becomes possible. The speaker then, for the time being, has taken on the necessary conditions to make himself once more such as we are, so far as his capacity to form words which we can hear is concerned.
He is again to this extent an inhabitant of matter, slower in vibration, so that when he speaks he produces the same effects on our atmosphere as we do when we speak. He and we are in the same room, within a few feet of each other, he standing speaking to us, and we sitting, answering. He hears us and we hear him. This condition lasts only for a short time, not often for more than ten minutes. When dematerialisation begins the material falls away, and, though his mouth may continue to speak, he is not heard. This briefly is what they mean by saying that they take on earth conditions from our surroundings.
All direct voice mediums possess a certain vital force, or substance, all sitters have it in a lesser degree, and to this is added, by the etheric chemists, other etheric forces or substances, the combination of which is a material sufficiently slow in vibration to vibrate our atmosphere. The only thing we cannot understand is how the speaker clothes himself with it, or absorbs it. What is the exact effect which is produced when he presses into it and becomes covered with it? Some day we shall doubtless find out the explanation, but what I write is in substance all that has been told me.
When I have asked for further details I have been told that I would not understand, and must be content with such information as has, so far, been given to me. So I had to be satisfied, but here I again repeat that often I have put my ear quite close to the medium’s mouth and heard nothing beyond his regular breathing, though a voice was speaking to someone at the time, and only my personal friends were present in the Séance Room of the Glasgow Society for Psychical Research.
On one occasion the communicator told me that the medium’s larynx was being used, and that his voice was being carried by a psychic tube to the trumpet, which magnified it so that we could hear it. In other words, he was making use of the medium’s lungs and larynx and mouth to save the necessity of materialising these organs, but even then I did not hear the medium speaking.
This information was made clearer by replies to further questions. When a voice speaks through the trumpet it is not always independent of the medium, and does not always proceed from a materialised entity in the centre of the circle. The power is not always strong enough to maintain this form of communication throughout the entire sitting. What happens is this. The communicator who wishes to speak controls the medium and speaks through him. The communicator has not, however, the same control over the medium as his regular controllers, and the voice produced is sometimes not above a whisper. The voice is conveyed from the medium’s mouth by means of a materialised ectoplasmic or psychic tube to the trumpet, which amplifies the voice so that it can be heard. Speaking under these circumstances the speaker stands behind the medium, whose etheric body for the time being is detached from his physical body; in other words the medium is in trance. The communicator is thus able to control the medium’s vocal organs.
There is an etheric connecting link, which has the same effect on the medium’s muscles as the atmospheric waves have on two tuning forks tuned to the same pitch. As the vibrations of one act on the other, so the two sets of vocal organs, those of the etheric speaker and those of the medium, act in unison. Thus what the etherian says the medium says, both sets of organs working in harmony.
That information satisfied me up to a point, but the question was how the sound was produced. Our lips form the words, our larynx causes the sound. I then asked what caused the sound, and was told that the medium’s larynx was used for this purpose, and that the sound was conveyed from it by means of the etheric tube to the trumpet. It was made clear, however, that what was carried from the medium to the trumpet was not air from the medium’s lungs. The larynx is used to cause the sound, but not by means of air passing through the vocal chords. The atmosphere is vibrated by a method of their own, and I was told I must accept the fact that the larynx was used to produce the sound, which was carried to the trumpet from the etherian who was speaking.
There is no question, my informant insisted, of the messages in any way being influenced by the medium’s mind, as his mind does not come into the question at all. They do not act through the medium’s mind, but directly on his vocal organs. The mind of the etheric speaker is in complete control, and the medium’s brain is switched off for the time being. What we sometimes hear, therefore, is the medium’s voice through the trumpet, though it sounds quite unlike his own, as it always does in trance, and this form of communication is different from the Direct Voice, because the voice is conveyed to the trumpet and not produced quite apart from the medium. At times they tell me that they can convey the voice into the trumpet right across the circle.
At Sloan’s séances we have, therefore, three different forms of communication. Firstly, trance utterances. Secondly, by means of the method just described; and thirdly, the best of all, voices from etheric men, women and children who have materialised their vocal organs and lungs and speak as we do, without any connection whatever with the medium, except the ectoplasmic substance necessary for materialisation which they borrow from the medium and sitters.

The trumpet is moved by materialised rods, made by a combination of these substances supplied by the medium, the sitters, and their chemist. It can he moved also by a materialised hand, and the larger end is used to rest the materialised mouth on, inside the trumpet, thus directing the voice in the direction the speaker desires to speak without his requiring to move from the place where he has materialised. Either end of the trumpet can be used, whichever suits their purpose best. When the trumpet is not used it means that the substance is sufficient, and the power strong enough, to enable one or more materialisations to take place, usually in the vicinity of the person to whom the communicator wishes to speak. Thus, I have heard, on occasion, two and sometimes three voices speaking to different people at the same time.
Not always, however, is the person present who purports to speak, as those who have passed through what is called the second transition, on to a higher plane of thought, find it difficult, if not impossible, to communicate. They, however, can communicate with those in the lower plane, their messages being picked up and passed on by some Etherian present at the séance. This, I think, is often done, even by those on the surface of the sphere bordering this earth who find communication difficult by means of materialising their own vocal organs. An Irishman in etheric life, named Gallacher, told me that much of his time at a séance was occupied in taking messages and passing them on. He calls himself the “telephone exchange”.
I asked once if the materialised vocal organs could be touched and had weight, and was told they could be, and that they had the weight that we, the sitters, had lost during the sitting. If we each sat on a weighing machine we would find our weight during the séance gradually decreasing, and, as the séance neared an end, as the ectoplasm was returned, so would our weight return to normal. The experiments by Dr. Crawford, and others, have proved this statement to be correct. This ectoplasm, which they draw from us, is useless unless it is mixed with ingredients supplied by the chemist, as materialisation could not take place from ectoplasm alone.
This ectoplasmic-etheric combination is, I am told, the preparation required, not only for materialisation, but for the movement by those in the other world of all physical objects. They can move nothing on earth without it. Our bodies are composed of the ingredients from which they draw this substance called ectoplasm. I have found it impossible, however, to get any detailed information as to what are the chemical ingredients of the substance they add to the ectoplasm. The chemist would not tell me, as he said I could not understand even if he did. I asked once if the thoughts of the medium in any way coloured the communications which came by means of the direct voice, and the reply I received was, “Certainly not”.
As to what takes place when the medium speaks in trance, I am told that the etherian wishing to speak gathers ectoplasm from the medium, and thus gets control of his vocal organs. So far as Sloan is concerned, his brain is not used in any way. What happens is briefly this. The ectoplasm forms the connecting link between the etherian speaking and the medium’s vocal organs, and, as the etherian speaks, so the medium’s vocal organs move. Here materialisation of the mouth, throat and tongue does not take place, the medium’s vocal organs being used to vibrate the atmosphere, and form the words spoken by the controlling etheric man, woman or child.
My claim for this book is that it gives an explanation, both logical and reasonable, of how the phenomenon of the Direct Voice occurs, and one which should appeal to everyone. Evidence, such as is contained in the next four chapters, may not in itself be sufficient to convince the average individual, but, when a logical explanation can also be given, an acceptance of the phenomenon is much less difficult. I have created conditions so as to make fraud and impersonation impossible, and, by persistent enquiry, have obtained information about the Etheric World, its inhabitants, and how communication takes place which should satisfy the average individual.
This has never been attempted before, to my knowledge, in the same systematic way, but it must be remembered that I have dealt with hard facts all my life. I have required a knowledge of economics and mathematics in my business life, and, outside of this, my special interest has been in physics. I have therefore approached this subject in a matter-of-fact way, and have obtained information which makes the phenomena, to any unbiased person, both reasonable and natural. Consequently this enquiry should help to raise the study of psychic phenomena to a higher plane of thought, and be another stepping stone towards its being ultimately placed on a strictly scientific basis.

From: On the Edge of the Etheric pp 86-95

 

 

 

 

 

 

From: On the Edge of the Etheric pp 86-95

 

 

 

 

 

 

From: On the Edge of the Etheric

 

 

 

 

 

Behind The Scenes Of A Direct Voice Séance

By Sylvia Barbanell

Because of the success Red Cloud (spiritual guide of Estelle Roberts) has achieved in wartime with his voice séances, I thought that a statement by him on what happens “behind the scenes” would be of interest. When Red Cloud was approached by my husband and myself, he said it would be difficult to convey what happened in a spirit world that had different dimensions, but he would do his best.

“There are some things I can tell you,” he said, “but some are impossible. Let me put it like this. When a scientist is in his laboratory, and he is testing the various elements, he is very secluded and does not let others into his laboratory. Well, in this new group we have formed we are experimenting still. We are experimenting along lines of electricity and ether, that we may be able to accomplish the direct voice later on without a material body, because it causes a certain amount of interference and waste. Under those conditions, in the first instance, we must be careful in our experiments.

“I have my group. In it I have a scientist who was very well known in your world in his day. He has come in since I started this new series of voice circles, which you must admit are better than the old ones. Then there are some doctors and the four boys. The scientist and I gather a certain amount of ectoplasm from the medium and a little—very little—from the sitters. Some of this we have managed to keep. That is difficult for you to understand because you have the idea that ectoplasm always must return to its source. This small quantity, such a fraction, we have solidified and retained. We draw on it when we are ready and put it into the trumpet when we are using the trumpet.’’

Would it be correct to say,” Red Cloud was asked “that in addition to the ectoplasm, which has gone back to the medium after every séance, there is a small proportion which has been retained by you”

 “That is right,” was his reply. “It is so fractional that it is not missed. We have moulded it into a larynx, able to expostulate, so that sound can be transmuted in an understandable form to your ears.”

“So you have actually constructed a model larynx,” my husband said to the guide. “and kept it in stock, as it were, one that is not connected with the medium?”

“That is what I want you to remember, ‘Red Cloud answered. “Now, then, we use electricity from the ether. We take rods from the magnetic belt and connect them with the larynx.”

“What exactly are the rods?” he was asked. “Are they made of ectoplasm, too?”

The guide said: “They are electrical. They are something like electrical waves with insulating tapes of ectoplasm over them, which we draw from the medium and which have to return to the medium.”

“Is the purpose of the rods to enable the trumpet to move?” he was asked.

“No. Sometimes there is one rod, sometimes there are two rods. It depends on the conditions in operation, the condition of the body, atmospherics, etc. These affect the life—ray of electricity, as they do in your world, because we have to strike the vibration of your world.”

“Is it the same kind of electricity that we have in this world?” was the next question.

“It is,” said Red Cloud, “but the revolution of it is quicker until it strikes your vibration of electricity. When we have attached those rods to the larynx in the trumpet, the voices are struck on the electrical vibrations at the other end of the rods— not the trumpet end—and vibrate through the larynx, which converts them into audible sound in your world.”

“At what stage does the projection of the voice take place?” the guide was asked.

“It takes place twice,” said Red Cloud. “First, from the astral—we do not have to have a conductor for that, we use our own—then, it strikes down to a lower vibration, and then it strikes through the electrical rod into the mouthpiece of the larynx. Hence you get the boys’ voices.”

“So two distinct operations are required to bring the vibration down to earth’s level and then to make it audible?”

“Yes, for the larynx is inside the trumpet.”

“And where does the spirit speaker stand, at the trumpet or the other end?”

 “The other end, sometimes right at the side of the medium.”

“Where the rod is connected to the medium?”

“Yes.’’

 “Then that electrical impulse travels up the rod into the larynx and so we hear the voice?”

 “Quite right.”

“What does the spirit speaker have to do in order to make himself heard? Does he think, or actually speak?”

“In the voice circles, we have built, just outside the ether, a box, or case, large enough for a man to stand in. Sometimes you have heard them say they have been asked to stand in the box, haven’t you? Well, they stand there and we fix over their ears and their mouths an electric rod, and they strike on the rod through which they strike to the earth.

“But they often stand near the medium. It depends on how calm they are and on the kind of voice we want to put through. Some are more capable than others. You know that in your world you have speakers and speakers. But they do speak. You have to be a long time in our world before you conduct conversation only by thought. You have to use your lips to voice your thoughts—well, it is the same here. We certainly talk.”

“Why are a trumpet and rods necessary? Why can’t you have a larynx at the side of the medium, or build it up over the medium’s larynx, and let them speak direct into that?”

 “Now, listen. That is just what I was coming to. I told you we were experimenting. In your world there is a man I know. .

Here Red Cloud was referring to Sir Ernest Fisk, one of the world’s experts on radio communication. Sir Ernest, who was associated with Marconi in his pioneering experiments, has stated that he considers one day wireless communications with the dead will be achieved.

Sir Ernest has spoken to Red Cloud and the guide said of him:
“We are experimenting along his lines. Eventually, instead of using the box, the electrical machine will be built in your world by which voices will be heard directly from the ether space. We shall then be able to manifest the vibration sufficiently to strike the heavier forms of ether of your world through wireless telegraphy.”

“And that will dispense with the medium?” was the next inquiry.

“Yes, later on, but not yet. You are aware that always there are voices in space. You have proved that earthly voices and music can be picked up on certain wavelengths. Well, it will come about. Tell him he is right. The time will come, just as your wireless came, but it is still in the experimental stage.”

“But why can’t you have a larynx over the medium’s and dispense with the rods?”

“We cannot at present. We would have to form certain electrical rods which might interfere with the grey matter of the medium.

“What purpose does the trumpet serve from your point of view?”

“For one thing, you must have elements of conduction. We must have conduction to help hold the electricity together, something like a little cabinet to hold the ectoplasm, otherwise it would disintegrate. That is why I ask for water to be poured through the trumpet – it is a conductor.”

“So it is in cabinet form to condense and break down everything to make it audible to us?”

“Quite right. You appreciate also that we are dealing with the electrical vibrations of all the people in the room.”

“What exactly, as far as you can describe it, is it that you put over the ears and mouth of the people who speak, and why is it done?”

“It is done, first of all, to distract their attention from what is going on round them, and also to cause them to lower their vibration just a little to touch the rods sufficiently to express themselves clearly.”

“It is really the means of enabling them to concentrate on talking to the exclusion of anything else?”

“Yes, we do not want them to be put off by the others, or by any outside noise. You have external distractions; well, we have the noise of the universe around us.”

“It is a means of isolating them?”

“Yes, exactly.  It is a substance used from our sphere and not from yours at all.  It is a means of insulation by a substance which you cannot understand, a form of solidified ether.”

“It seems to me similar to the kind of apparatus that airmen use to communicate with one another.”

“Yes, it is similar. It is also a means of preventing the communicator from being interfered with by the conventional things of our world. You know the interferences and atmospherics you get when the rays are crossed by some vehicles.”

“So the communicators talk just as naturally as they would here when they get into the box?”

“Yes, except when they break down.”

“Does it require an effort on the part of the speaker?”

“Yes and no.  It is all according to the nature of the person and his ability to overcome self-consciousness. Every personality is different.”

“Is it largely emotional stress that makes them break down sometimes?’’

“Not always, sometimes they become self-conscious without any emotional stress. Some are successful, like Henry Segrave; he has grown quite accustomed to it, like I have. But to some, when they hear your voices, it strikes such a chord in their memory that the emotion rises and they give it up.”

“Would you describe it as a difficult task for the average communicator to speak in the direct voice?”

“Yes, it is, but remember, it is only in its infancy. Men like Oliver Lodge are endeavouring with their earth knowledge to do what they can to help this subject forward.”

“How far are the speakers rehearsed beforehand?”

“We have to put them through their paces.”

“Do you cross-examine them beforehand?”

“Yes, but it is not done out of any disrespect or lack of love, but merely to make them practised.  We put them on once or twice to see if they are capable of holding it. If they break down, we put them back a bit, but we always promise to let them come back and try again.”

“Do you rehearse the evidence?”

“Yes, but sometimes if the earth person becomes emotional that immediately has the effect of causing the voice to withdraw.”

“When a question is asked which the spirit does not answer, is that because that question has been unrehearsed?”

“That is true. They can sometimes answer spontaneously; it is all according to their personality. They are so keyed-up to get over what they want to say, that sometimes your questions make them feel they want to run hack and find out the answers, and then it all breaks down.”

“Obviously they are not completely normal while communicating, keyed-up with the excitement of what they are going to say.”

“Yes, but it is all according to the personality of the communicator.”

“Is the duration of the séance determined by the amount of strain it causes to the medium?”

“Exactly, I have often said to you: ‘I must go away now.’ That is when the doctors come and beckon to me that it is time the medium returned to her body.”

“Why does the trumpet go down with a bang?”

“When we disconnect and withdraw the rods from the trumpet it has nothing to hold it up.

 The voice and the box are often at the medium’s side. You will notice the trumpet often ends there – in the box. Then the rods and larynx are removed and it comes down. It is just the law of gravitation.”

“How is the trumpet manipulated?”

“It is held up by an electrical ray.”

“Not by rods?”

“It is the same thing really.’’

“Who actually manipulates the trumpet?”

“I do.’’

“When Bill Castello is talking to his father and mother and the trumpet goes right over to them, is that you or Bill moving it?’’

 “I move it for Bill.”

“But Bill is not at the small end of the trumpet; his voice is still striking the rod near your medium?”

“Yes, quite right, that is the position. When the boys sometimes say: ‘Let us get it up a bit higher,’ they are all just giving a bit of power.”

“So the ‘transmitting station’ is by the side of the medium, and the loudspeaker is the trumpet?”

“Yes, that is a good way of putting it.”

“Your methods are a great improvement on the old ones.”

“Yes, all things must improve. Credit must be given to the pioneers of 50 years ago, but there has never been work like that you have had in the past 20 years. Everything must go on, if it is for the good of mankind. You do not think good men are going to sit down there and forget all about their life efforts, do you?”

“Do you get any interference at the voice séance?”

“Yes. You may wonder why I do not allow my medium to have them too often. I believe she has told you the condition of the astral world is chaotic. The result is that we find, very often, there are so many wandering round our world. That is something we have to watch out for.

 Many men, lying unconscious in hospitals, are wandering in the astral world. If they can get to know of a circle being held, they are just like normal beings over here and they endeavour to join in. And they could do so and talk just as easily as one who is really over here for good.

 That is one thing we have to be careful about. It is not deliberate interference, but due to their natural desire.”

“How are they attracted to a circle?”

“They just hear somehow. News travels here, too, and they all rush to see what is going on, just like any man would.”

“How do you keep them out?”

“We have watchers. That is why your mediums should not work half so hard as they do.”

“And yet the demand at present is greater than ever.”

“Yes, but they should wait until the conditions settle down more.

“Does the one communicating hear all that is said? Do you hear what is said?”

“I can, but not the others, only the one inside the box. They cannot strike through so clearly into your world and they only get a distorted view of what is going on, if at all. You get a word here and there, but not a great deal, if you are not in the box actually speaking. But I hear it all.”

“It all really comes down to a question of vibrations.”

“Yes, and the greatest difficulty of all is to strike the vibration between our rate and your rate, so that the link operates between the two at the right moment. That is tricky.”

“That is done by electrical impulses?”

“Yes, it is purely a scientific question. You may have noticed that sometimes the boys’ voices become slurred, that is, when they try to speak their words become slurred as they strike the lower rate of vibration, and it becomes sound without articulation.’’

“Is that why we do not always get the distinct characteristic tones of the speaker, but there seems to be the sound of Estelle’s voice in the background?”

“That is due to the striking between the two rates. If you could listen from our world you would hear their own characteristic voices, but the medium’s characteristics are in the ectoplasm. It is impossible to cut that completely out.”

“Yes, I suppose it is inherent in the ectoplasm, in the larynx you build.”

“Yes, you cannot have it otherwise, except when I talk. I am in complete charge. After all, the boys cannot understand it as well as I do.”

“Is it right to call it a larynx, is that the most suitable description?”

“We call it the articulation box.”

“What happens to the larynx that is retained, the piece of ectoplasm that does not go back into the medium?”

“We take it away in a little case we have, because it is solidified, not in your sense, but in the etheric sense; that is, once again, a transmutation of matter.’’

“With the direct voice, when the spirits speak, is that not astral projection?”

“No, the person has to be there in order to speak; nobody else can do it for them. It is not actually his voice, he is there behind it, but I suppose it is a form of projection.”

“We can understand that. It is no more the actual voice than a gramophone record of my voice would be actually mc.”

“Yes, that is right.”

Recommended reading: Some Discern Spirits by Sylvia Barbanell

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Examines Spirit Larynx

Mrs Perriman was the medium used by Noah Zerdin when he held public meetings for “The Link of Home Circles” to demonstrate the Direct Voice. This extract refers to the construction of a spirit larynx witnessed by a medical doctor.

At two experimental sittings, we introduced a special type of fluorescent screen to assist the spirit world to demonstrate “etheric television.” As it was an experiment, we did not know whether it would meet with success or not, but we were always ready to try anything new if it meant increasing our knowledge of the operation of psychic laws.

There was no demonstration at the first sitting, which was mainly given over to instructions and personal messages to the sitters.

At the next sitting, Belle, (Guide of Mollie Perriman) was the first to speak. She had a cheery word for each sitter, and announced: “I am going to bring my little blue bird. I want you to see it, and hear it sing.” At first we were unable to see anything, although we could hear a faint whistle. After a while, we observed a light appear and take the form of a bird. When it was fully formed, it took to flying round the room and whistling a shrill note.

Flora spoke, and told us to move the big luminous screen, which was resting on a chair, to a position where it would not reflect its light on the medium. Soon the shadow of a cross was thrown on the screen. “I have brought the cross from the mantelpiece and put it back again,” said Belle. The cross referred to was an apport brought at a previous sitting. It is a solid piece of work in green marble, and weighs nearly half a pound.

Belle told us she was going to try to do something.

“Look!” she said. We saw lights appear behind and above the screen. The number of lights increased, and there was one extra large patch of luminosity. On the screen we observed a shadow, but we could not define any shape. Another large light appeared, and the mass of lights began moving about the room.

Belle said she was going to get something. We saw the trumpet, illumined by reflected light from the screen, sail up to the ceiling. “I’m going to do something else,” said Belle. She carried some roses from a vase on the mantel piece, held them in front of the screen, and touched one of the woman sitters on the head. “I can see your little hand holding the rose, Belle,” said this sitter.

A spirit voice told us that they were ready to experiment. The screen, which weighs over fourteen pounds, began slowly to rise. Higher and higher it went until we heard it knock against the ceiling. It remained there for some time, the luminous side being visible to us. Then it began to descend, revolving very quickly in space. It then went from one side of the room to the other at a quick rate. Following these gyrations it gradually descended and came to rest on the chair. Not a sound was heard.

Then we were told that an attempt would be made to materialise the spirit larynx used for speaking. Within a foot of Dr. Coulthard’s face, there appeared a materialised structure showing movement of different parts as the control spoke through it. “I am talking to you,” he said, “and I want you all to see how this works. Now I am up here.” We heard the voice coming from the ceiling. “Now I am coming right away, here, in front of you.” The voice descended from the ceiling and spoke to the doctor. “You saw the larynx manipulated, doctor?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Then I would like you to express your opinion,” he was asked.

Here is Dr. H. Coulthard’s report on the materialised larynx:

“Striking proof of the modus operandi of the direct voice phenomenon was given me at a Mrs. Perriman séance a few days ago, when a complete ectoplasmic larynx was materialised less than two feet in front of me.

“I was able to see the whole of the working parts of the larynx, and have no hesitation in declaring, as a medical man, that the structure I saw was an exact replica of a human larynx.

“This remarkable experiment was made by one of Mrs. Perriman’s controls. I was sitting two chairs away from the medium, and the séance room was so arranged that it was impossible for Mrs. Perriman to move from her seat. Directly in front of her had been placed a new instrument with which we were experimenting.

“I heard the voice of the control talking in front of me. Then there appeared straight in front of me and about eighteen inches away, a phosphorescent replica of a typical anatomical larynx. It was shown in such a position that I could see clearly its construction.

“Inside the larynx there were the vocal cords or folds. These cords, when one is speaking, move from side to side. When the voice is not being used the cords are motionless. While I was looking at this spirit larynx, I heard the control talking. As he spoke, the vocal cords moved in exactly the way I would expect if I were able to watch a human larynx at work. The spirit varied the pitch of his voice, speaking sometimes high and sometimes low. These changes were all accompanied by the appropriate movements of the cords. The distance between the cords varied as the pitch varied.

“I am convinced that it would have been impossible for the medium to have produced such a model as I saw. Even if she were able to get out of her chair, and in front of me, she would still have to work the model without her hands being visible. She would require considerable technical knowledge, which I am sure she does not possess, to be able to move the cords exactly as they should be moved when the voice was speaking. Besides, the voice was distinctly that of a man.

“The larynx seemed to me to be floating. The phosphorescent nature of the substance naturally made it a trifle blurred, but it was sufficiently clear for me to certify that it was in all respects similar to a human larynx.”

Recommended Reading:  Broadcasting from Beyond
by A.E. Perriman

William Cartheuser

SEANCE OF THE CENTURY

by George Cranley

One of the most remarkable experimental direct voice séances ever conducted took place in 1933 and was recorded on nine long-playing records. The medium was William Cartheuser who had a severe speech defect, caused by a harelip and a cleft palate yet the spirit voices that spoke at his séances were free of impediment. His sittings remain for many some of the greatest Spiritualism has ever seen.

One of the most fantastic direct voice séances ever held took place at the studios of the World Broadcasting Company (later to become Decca Records) on April 23 1933, and was recorded on nine long-playing records.

The medium for this two-and-a-quarter hour séance was William Cartheuser, a New England shoe plant worker, who had a severe speech defect, caused by a hare lip and a cleft palate.

Although he was difficult to understand during normal conversation, the spirit voices which spoke at his séances were free of impediments.

The story was written by J. Gay Stevens, a member of the American Society for Psychical Research’s investigative team.

Together with his colleagues, Dr Hereward Carrington, a lifelong psychic researcher, Helen T. Bigelow, the society’s secretary, Chester Grady, Louis Anspacher and the organizer, Dr Frank Black, the group met at the studios situated at 50 West 57th Street, new York.

The séance was instigated by Dr Black, a leading musical show producer and part owner of the WBC.

He suggested to the ASPR that it should supervise the recording of a voice séance in his studios and the resultant recordings would be donated to the society for reference and study.

The sound engineers, who were extremely skeptical, took care of the test conditions intent on unmasking the voice makers.

To a man they were certain there was no such thing as a spirit voice and regarded this as a heaven-sent opportunity to prove it in their own studio under their own recording conditions.

At this time the Western Electric Company was, installing some of the latest sound equipment into the World studios.

Hearing of the séance project they joined their World colleagues, making probably “the most formidable array of sound engineering talent ever organized to debunk a spirit voice.”

The studio itself was a large 40-foot long, windowless room.

It was soundproof and two storey’s high. Seats for the sitters were arranged around the stand microphone – ‘mike one’.

Two additional microphones, two and three, hung close to the ceiling in diagonally opposite corners.

All voices spoken in the circle would be recorded on mike one.

The ceiling equipment had such a short range of sensitivity that it would not record voices from the studio floor.

Pointing to the control room, curtained off to keep out the light, a technician indicated a recessed loudspeaker through which the engineers could communicate with those in the studio.

A man was stationed at the only exit door to see that no one entered or left during the séance.

Stevens comments: “We had no way of knowing that the engineers, after a week or so of conferring, had hit on a very simple plan that covered all possibilities.

‘‘They concluded that, no matter what tricks he ‘voice-maker used, he had to work on the floor.

“If the sounds were authentic spirit voices then they need have no such limitation in space.”

The ceiling mikes were 20 feet from the sitters and 20 feet in the air.

All extra furniture had been moved out of the studio to prevent anyone standing on it in an attempt to speak into the mikes.

In order for either mikes two or three to pick up a voice the speaker had to be within 12 inches.

Both were highly directional — they had to be spoken into head-on and not from an angle.

To make things more difficult, the engineers had turned the microphones at right angles to the circle of sitters.

Each mike had its own line of communication with the control room.

The technicians knew which mike was bringing in each voice by listening to the three independent loudspeakers and watching the dial connected to each line.

The sitters were unaware what the engineers had planned and proceeded with a normal direct voice séance.

Eventually a trumpet, ringed with luminous paint, lifted into the air.

It circled the sitters and tapped each one lightly on the head in greeting.

Soon voices built up through the trumpet. Communicators identified themselves – and were recognized – as the sitters’ “dead” relatives and friends.

Occasionally they asked the spirit voices to speak into mike one, but says Stevens, it never occurred to them to suggest they talk into the other microphones.

The séance was interrupted by a voice over the control room loudspeaker. “Are these what you call spirit voices?” asked a cynical engineer.

The trumpet fell to the floor. Several minutes of oppressive silence followed.

Suddenly a man’s resonant voice “seemed to pop out of space in front of us, directly above mike one.” writes Stevens.

They could still see the phosphorescent ring of the trumpet on the floor. This was independent voice.

In a brisk business-like manner, the spirit communicator expressed interest in the experiment.

The sitters asked what he meant. He said he was referring to the engineers’ conditions.

“We think they have worked out a very interesting testing procedure for us on their equipment.”

A voice from the control room asked who was speaking.

The communicator moved in close to mike one and said he was an engineer in the spirit ‘world.

Together with a couple of colleagues, he told the earthly technicians he would like to collaborate in making the important recording.

He added: “We have a definite plan in mind for your tests. We are perfectly willing to meet any conditions you set up, or make any demonstration you have in mind … if it is within our power. Just let us know what you would like to have me do.”

The control room voice asked: “Do you think you could speak to us over one of those microphones located up at the ceiling?”

Immediately, the engineer heard the communicator say, “How’s this?” It came from mike two on the ceiling!

The spirit engineer added, “Does it any difference to you which microphone I use up here?”

The shocked control room operators listened in amazed silence.

“Is this all right?” asked the eager communicator once more.

“Yes … yes, that’s fine”, the engineer replied. “Would you mind lowering your voice a little? We have no volume control on that line.” The spirit voice apologized at a normal level.

The control room asked if he could now speak from mike three on the other side of the room.

Before the request was even completed, the communicator’s voice came over on the other ceiling microphone.

As before, it was answering from within inches of the mike. It had travelled across the room in a matter of a second.

The puzzled sitters listened to this in silence. Then one asked the engineers if they were ready with their experiment.

“It’s all over as far as we’re concerned”, came the control room reply.

They began to talk among themselves, but the spirit voice interrupted them. It was speaking at mike one, on the floor.

The communicator politely suggested to the technicians that if they had finished their tests, “We have a demonstration or two we would like to show you.”

Without waiting for an answer the voice explained he would make a complete circuit of the three microphones while speaking a short, simple sentence.

 An engineer yelled, “Go!” Speaking at normal conversational pace the voice said, “I am now making a complete circuit of all three microphones and am now back at number one.”

The technicians followed the voice as it progressed around the loudspeakers.

“As revealed later,” says Stevens, “that voice had moved at such incredible speed between mikes it sounded as if it had been recorded on one mike.”

The communicator then introduced a colleague, a “one-time research engineer in the science of sound.”

This new spirit speaker said evidence had been given that the communicators were not earthly but that they were “surviving personalities speaking to you from another dimension.”

He continued with an offer to show that spirit voices could give a sound performance beyond earthly scope.

He explained that he was talking at the normal level for a male human being, around 300 cycles.

Then he asked the engineers to listen as he moved his voice slowly up the scale of sound frequencies in an unbroken flow.

Stevens likened the achievement to the “glissando of a musical instrument, from a resonant baritone to a bright tenor, to a soprano.” Through it all the spirit voice never stopped speaking.

The communicator announced that his voice was now the 1,100 cycle level, which was about the highest point the human voice can articulate.

He then increased the cycle frequency until it was beyond the range of earthly hearing.

As the pitch soared he gave the levels 3,000 and 5,000, with relevant remarks, until the only audible sound was similar to the twittering of a bird, though the words could still be understood.

Eventually his commentary became a thread of sound like “an incredibly distant radio signal.”

The control room loudspeaker interrupted the silence.

“We know that none of you could have done that”, said an engineer.

Repeating the test the communicator descended through the frequency cycles.

His voice deepened to “a bass-profundo and on down to the lowest reaches of an orchestral string bass.”

He paused to explain that he was 100 cycles below where the human vocal chords can enunciate recognisable words.

Continuing to speak clearly his voice slid further down the scale until it sounded like a “giant mumbling at the bottom of a well.”

It faded into a swishing sound, “like the lowest note on the longest pipe in a giant organ.” Then it vanished.

The silence was interrupted by the original spirit engineer’s voice.

He thanked the medium, sitters and recording staff for collaborating in the experiment and offered to co-operate in future tests. The historic séance was over.

A few days later Dr Frank Black delivered the records to the ASPR as promised.

But Stevens ends with this comment: “This séance and its records made little impression in official circles.

“Only the engineers in the control room were in a position to testify to the reality of the discarnate voices.

“But they, like so many others, were not about to go on record officially.

“So one of the technically best test cases for the reality of spirit voice phenomena went officially unconfirmed.”

Although this séance took place over 75 years ago it has never been equalled or bettered.

In spite of his critics the name of William Cartheuser will rank alongside the great physical mediums of the past.

Etta Wriedt

Fortunately, there are ample records detailing the extraordinary mediumship of Etta Wriedt from Detroit, Michigan. Admiral Usborne Moore’s summary is undoubtedly apt: ‘This American woman has a mysterious gift which enables those who sit in the same room with her to learn of the continued existence of those whose physical bodies have perished. The possession of this strange power is acquired by no virtue of her own; she was born with it’.

Etta, who, as Fodor notes, charged just ‘a nominal fee of one dollar for a successful seance’, travelled to England on five occasions between 1911 (when she was aged 51) and 1919.

He too gives a brief, but adequate description of Etta’s mediumship: in addition to voices heard in the daylight, he reports how, ‘there were other features to her seances as well: luminous forms, etherealisations gliding about the room in darkness.

Sometimes dogs materialised and barked….Flowers were taken from vases and placed in the hands of sitters…invisible fingers touched the sitters and rapped by the trumpet to urge a hesitating person to answer promptly when spoken to, luminous discs…were seen to move round…The sitters were often sprinkled with water, wafts of cool air were felt’.

In addition to these phenomena, while Etta spoke only English, the communicators spoke in other languages and indeed, ‘the voices know no linguistic limitation’.

M. Chedo Miyatovich, a Romanian diplomat, recorded his first-hand experience of Etta’s mediumship when he saw her on May 16, 1912.

Although Etta is usually known as being a direct voice medium, her mediumship did in fact facilitate some degree of materialization on occasions and Miyatovich’s sitting included one such instance.

Etta began the seance by stating whom the communicator was and Miyatovich’s friend saw an ‘illuminated fog’ in the room.

Etta made mention that the communicator gave her name as ‘Adela or Ada Mayell’. Miyatovich’s reaction to this was immediate: ‘I was astounded. Only three weeks ago died Miss Ada Mayell, a very dear friend of mine’.

Following this, a light appeared in the room and began to move about and Miyatovich recognized the materialized form of W. T. Stead who had died earlier that year; on a later occasion the trumpet moved towards Miyatovich and he heard Stead speaking to him, saying: ‘I myself came here expressly to give you a fresh proof that there is life after death’.

 Following this, further communications took place, and one included a communicator who spoke with Miyatovich’s friend, a Croatian, in the Croatian tongue. Other communications in foreign languages also took place during the seance.

In Moore’s own account of his sittings with Etta, he describes how, after a seance had begun, ‘generally, within five minutes voices could be heard, and conversation would last for periods of between thirty and fifty minutes’. In addition to this, ‘on many occasions phantasmal forms, faintly visible, moved about between the psychic and myself’.

Moreover, lights were sometimes seen. In Moore’s own experiences, he reports that ‘several of my relatives came to talk to me through the trumpet’, although the most frequent communicator was Moore’s own guide whom he saw in the seance room.

Moore also recalls how both his relatives and guide often referred to personal matters in his life and offered advice about these; however, he wisely commented: ‘We are not intended while on this plane to regulate our lives by advice from people in the next state’, i.e. he viewed their communications as general advice and opinion only. This viewpoint actually raised an interesting feature, i.e. Moore sometimes disagreed with communicators’ statements, and as he observes, this ‘blows to atoms the over-stretched theory that our subliminal self is responsible for the information we receive in many ways through mediums’, noting that in respect of one particular subject area, the communicator’s opinions were in stark contrast to what he believed.

Moore also recounted the events that took place in a special circle that was held on Wednesdays when Etta was present as the medium.

On 6 May, 1912, one of the sitters was Stead’s daughter; during the seance of seventy-five minutes, ‘at least forty minutes were taken up by Stead talking to his daughter’.  When the circle met the following week, the phenomena began almost immediately.

 During this time, at least fifteen different communicators spoke to the circle and identified themselves to their friends. The seance was particularly lively as throughout the time, Moore was slapped on his back with the trumpet together with noises occurring some ten feet away from the circle. Humour was further introduced when Stead communicated and asked which of the sitters wanted the circle to continue meeting.

 Although the seance room was in absolute darkness, Stead pointed out that Moore had not raised his hand as the others present had done. Moore continues: ‘To humour him I then raised my hand; my head was struck twice with a trumpet’. An important point is made by Moore when referring to the communications of Stead; of these he observed: ‘Stead’s talk on every occasion that he came was characteristic of him’.

A short time later, at another seance, Stead’s daughter was again present and her eldest brother, William Stead Jr., who had died in December 1907, communicated and spoke with her. The quality of his communication followed the same style as his father’s, i.e. as Moore notes, ‘I have often talked with him: the voice and manner of talking are always precisely the same’.

A seance held on 30 May, 1912, was particularly interesting as a clergyman who attended this noted that those who communicated were those about whom he ‘had not given a thought’, and yet those he attempted to ‘will’ to communicate, did not do so. This of course is relevant to the charge that communicators are merely a construction of the sitter’s own mind.

The sitter’s uncle communicated with him and answered his questions correctly: this was followed by a Dutch sitter being able to speak with her husband, uncle and child – in her native tongue.

When Colonel E. R. Johnson attended a number of Etta’s seances in mid-1912, these were surely quite spectacular.

He refers to how the communicators ‘were very numerous’ and ‘many of the sitters were addressed by their own friends and relatives’. In his own case, those who communicated with him ‘were identified with certainty’ and the conversations sometimes lasted as long as half an hour; furthermore, the contents ‘related to incidents and events which could not have been known to the medium’.

He also records how he ‘was also barked at by three of my dogs which had died more than twenty years ago, their barks being suited in tone and power to their respective sizes and breeds’.

Although Moore admitted that he did not find the barking to be of any real evidential quality, he notes that the barking and Etta’s speaking occurred at the same time, and from different locations.

In addition to all the different types of phenomena mentioned above, the sitters also experienced the materialization of hands during the seances. While holding the hand of the sitter either side, one sitter recalls how she would feel a materialized hand upon her head even though her back was to the wall.

She also notes how, ‘My hand was often firmly grasped by a hand of warm flesh and blood, which I am convinced was my son’. Her son had died as a nineteen-year old three years earlier. She recounts, how, on one occasion, she ‘mentally said: “If you are my boy, give three grips”. Immediately the hand gave three grips’.

She also had the opportunity to see the early stages of the materialization of her son, i.e. witnessing a ‘pillar of faint cloud’ and from this, a hand would emerge that she said began ‘caressing my face’.

One of the more amusing episodes was when she felt fatigued, and stretched up her hands, these were grasped by two hands ‘coming, as it were, from the ceiling’. At this, the hands then pulled her up until ‘I stood on tiptoe’.

One clergyman who demonstrated a keen open-mindedness towards the subject of mediumistic communications was the Revd Charles L. Tweedale. Throwing scorn on the accusation that the voices were merely Etta speaking through the trumpet, he wrote that he had ‘examined the trumpets, and so have my friends, some of them expert S.P.R. investigators, and found nothing that could in any wise account for the phenomena’.

He had attended a seance with Etta on four different occasions and describes how he had sat on one side of the medium, and an experienced investigator sat on the other.

After the seance began, the trumpets would rise and move around the circle in a manner that would be ‘quite impossible’ if Etta was handling them. He observed that the voices appeared to be coming from both ends of the trumpet; and in one instance he ensured that while a communicator was speaking through the trumpet, in this case somewhat loudly, on the other side of the circle, Etta had no connection with the apparatus at all.

Tweedale makes the salient point that it was the evidential quality of Etta’s mediumship that was the convincing feature. He relates how: ‘Details of the most private nature and of events, which took place forty years ago in my own family, and which even my wife, who was present, did not know, were given, and private matters occurring seventeen years ago in my wife’s life, which I did not know, were related, with correct names and details’.

Another sitter who attended some of the seances given by Etta Wriedt was Sir William Barrett, an investigator with a keen and analytical mind.

He records how after he had carefully examined the seance room, and with only himself, Etta and a Mrs Ramsden present, a voice whispering to Mrs Ramsden was heard: this was while Barrett engaged Etta in conversation. Of this, he says: ‘I can testify that I watched the medium and saw nothing suspicious’.

Mrs Ramsden stated that the communicator identified himself as a relative and advised her that she would be visited by someone whom he named. Mrs Ramsden added, ‘This was fulfilled on the following Monday’.

After the light was extinguished, Barrett said that he felt ‘something rather cold gently stroking my face’, and a rose was then placed in his hand. Aware of the challenges that could be made about these phenomena, i.e., taking place in darkness, he adds that ‘I can assert…that it seemed to me impossible for Mrs Wriedt to have produced them by trickery’.

The significant observation was that the voices were ‘sometimes very loud…were often heard simultaneously when Mrs Wriedt was speaking’.

Another sitter, H. Denis Taylor, a member of the S.P.R, attended seances with Etta and noted that ‘two voices talking at once’ were heard together with Etta also making ‘interjecting remarks’. He added that the voices arose from different locations and that ‘we had several little incidents proving that the entities manifesting could see perfectly well what we were doing in pitch darkness’.

Barrett also detailed how a friend, the secretary of the Irish branch of the S.P.R, attended one of Etta’s seances without notice, and was unknown to any of the sitters other than Moore.

 Despite this, a communicator spoke to Barrett’s friend and ‘gave him the name, a very unusual one, of an Irish friend of his who had lately lost his wife…and told my friend correctly the exact address of a place in London where she had been staying’.

Moreover, ‘he also saw a luminous figure of a lady in front of him’. After writing this, Barrett stated that Etta was: ‘A genuine and remarkable medium, and has given abundant proof to others besides myself that the voices and the contents of the messages given are wholly beyond the range of trickery or collusion’.

One example of how impressive Etta’s seances were is surely demonstrated by the distance travelled by some sitters so that they could attend. One sitter, a mining engineer travelled nearly six hundred miles in a day in order that he might be present to witness Etta’s mediumship.

In his record, he remarks that in his work, he had trained his hearing to be able to trace noises in complete darkness and was ‘more at home’ in darkness than others would be.

 In the seance attended on 25 May, 1912, after carefully noting the features of the seance room, the seance began and within a short time one of the sitters felt that she was being touched and a male sitter had a flower dropped at his feet.

The engineer felt something, fragrant and with dew, touch his forehead and upon taking hold of this, discovered that it was part of a rose: he also noted: ‘it showed no disposition to fall down while I was taking hold, nor did I feel anything supporting it’.

 After one of Etta’s guides spoke, the sitter details how several voices spoke through the trumpet to various sitters, and in two cases, the communicator was recognized. After a further communication, the sitters noticed ‘ovals of light floating about above the cabinet’, that some present identified as faces.

Subsequently, the sitter spoke with his uncle and brother, and in the case of the latter, there was a ‘long conversation over the manner of his death’.

At a later seance on 18 June, he witnessed ‘discs of red light’ floating in the room that approached him; after this, he reports that his brother spoke with him again and gave further details about his death and ‘gave names of people and places only known to myself’.

 This was followed by the sitter feeling something touch his foot and one of Etta’s controls advised him that it was his dog who had died some years earlier and ‘described it well’.

Etta’s mediumship was no less remarkable in a lighted environment. On 29 May, 1912, ‘the electric light was on full’, and the blossom on a flower bush in the room was seen to move. On a request for the whole plant to move, it duly did, and then the chair on which it stood ‘was twisted from right angles to a position of forty- five degrees’. After the movement had finished, the sitters ‘all felt the floor, walls and windows vibrating’ and one said that it resembled an earthquake.

The amount of light present was reduced, although some remained, whereupon ‘three violent shocks caused the windows to rattle; the crockery clattered and the walls and floor were shaken…This movement was accompanied by the sound of heavy footfalls, as of someone stamping round the room’.

When Edwin Bowers wrote about Etta, he described her as ‘one of the oldest and most honored among all mediums of this decade’.

 He went on to describe a seance given jointly by her and Frank Decker; in this, Etta, not needing to go into trance, kept up ‘a running fire of conversation with the spirits, identifying them to their friends, and helping them to clarify their messages’.

 He also referred to the rare nature of her mediumship at this particular seance when sitters witnessed ‘entities emerge from behind a flimsy curtain in fair and adequate ruby light, fully formed’.

Another sitter present at Etta’s seances was Mrs P. Champion De Crespigny, who admitted being ‘full of prejudice’ against mediums.

At a seance when she was the only sitter, she reports that only a short time after beginning, ‘I heard a voice…it was a physical voice…there was no question of imagination or telepathy; it was an objective voice’.

The ‘objectivity’ was demonstrated by the amusing fact that Mrs De Crespigny had to ask Etta to stop speaking so that she could hear the words being spoken as both communicator and Etta were speaking simultaneously.

However, after speaking with several communicators, Mrs De Crespigny, while having no doubts about the genuineness of the phenomena, left the seance having doubts about the identities of the different communicators. She therefore carefully ‘went over the evidence carefully bit by bit, weighing the pros and cons’.

Her interest in the phenomena facilitated by Etta led to many sittings with the medium.

 Indeed, as Mrs De Crespigny admits, ‘during the years Mrs Wriedt was in England, the number of my sittings with her must have run certainly into three figures’.

 After considerable examination of the data that had been forthcoming, she stated: ‘The evidence for survival of personality bearing the hallmarks of characteristics, memory, temperament and so on was given me in such abundance through the channel of Etta Wriedt’s mediumship that it is impossible to record more than a mere fraction’.

Returning to the valuable contribution and record left by Moore, one narrative that he included was that of a sitter who possessed ‘a scientific business training’.

He attended a seance with Etta, accompanied by his wife and two adult daughters and described how, after the seance had begun, ‘luminosities appeared floating in the air, visible to all the party’.

Although the sitter admitted there was difficulty in identifying the communicators and verifying their identity, he reports that in one case the test of identity ‘was so convincing and evidential’.

This seance was followed by another, and in this, the communicators included relatives who had died, including his aunt and brother. The result of witnessing Etta’s mediumship resulted in him saying that he was ‘convinced that this woman is a powerful medium.

 I credit her with honesty, and assert that she has provided us with positive evidence of the survival of the human personality after death and the possibility of communication with the deceased’.

Undoubtedly, the best description of Etta and her mediumship is surely provided by Mrs De Crespigny: ‘Her kind- heartedness toward those who mourned was never-failing; she would use her gift for them freely and with a generosity that often left her tired and spent. On the rare occasions when there were no results she refused to take a fee, saying that “if you pay for a pair of boots you have the right to expect to get the boots!” and that if she gave nothing she would take nothing’.

In view of Stead’s involvement in Etta’s mediumship, it is worthwhile noting something of his background.

Stead, an editor and convinced Spiritualist, wrote a fictional story in 1893 concerning the collision of a liner with an iceberg in the Atlantic (In fact the subject of disasters at sea often occurred in his writings).

One can therefore only ponder on the fact that, he along with 1600 other people died on the fated Titanic when it sank in the Atlantic on 14 April 1912. His journey to New York on that fated trip was to give a talk in New York and bring Etta back with him to England.

Fodor continues the account by saying: ‘Two nights later, Dr. Sharp, Mrs Wriedt’s control, gave full details of the Titanic disaster, assured them of the passing of Stead and gave the names of many prominent people who went down with the ship.

The following night, three days after his passing, Stead himself spoke. He was weak in articulation at first, but was understood’. This is only one example of many that could be provided to illustrate the ability of Etta Wriedt.

Etta represented, and continues to represent something of what is so honourable in physical mediumship: the reassurance offered to those seeking evidence that human – and indeed animal – life survives physical death.

Recommended Reading:

“The Voices” by Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore.

“This World – and Beyond” by Mrs P. Champion De Crespigny

Helen Duncan – Maurice Barbanell

(by Maurice Barbanell)

I shall always contend that my friend, Helen Duncan, the materialisation medium, was the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice. When, during the war, she was charged at the Old Bailey under the archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735, some newspapers called it “The trial of the century.” Obviously an Act which became law more than a century before Spiritualism began was not intended to apply to modern mediums.

Her conviction, and subsequent imprisonment, led Spiritualists to campaign, successfully, for the repeal of this Act, which, by being resurrected, implied that all séances were illegal, and thus jeopardised our religious freedom. In his war memoirs, Sir Winston Churchill has recorded that he sent a note to the Home Secretary complaining of the fact that in a time of urgency and peril so much time and money should be wasted on a “witchcraft” trial.

Counsel’s defence that Mrs Duncan was a genuine medium, and his offer to demonstrate her powers of materialisation within the precincts of the court, were not regarded as legally admissible. The “offence” under the Witchcraft Act was pretending that she could conjure up spirits. Whether she was genuine or not was beside the point so far as this Act was concerned. Counsel for the defence was satisfied of her ability to demonstrate her materialisation powers at the trial, for she gave us evidence just before it opened that she was capable of doing so. Despite the strain of her ordeal, she willingly offered us an experimental séance which was remarkable in its results. Yards and yards of ectoplasm streamed from her, and billowed and flowed in swirling masses until even experienced Spiritualists like myself gazed with astonishment at the spectacle.

With Helen Duncan I have been privileged to see the growth of a materialisation inside the cabinet. Outside, I have observed the ectoplasmic forms as they gradually dwindled in size until they resembled small globes of light, and then finally disappeared as if sinking through the floor.

Inside the cabinet, I have watched ectoplasm exude from the medium’s nostrils, mouth and ears in waving billows of luminosity that gradually solidified into the six-foot figure of her guide.

Harry Price, a researcher who thrived on publicity, propounded the extraordinary theory that, instead of being a genuine materialisation medium, Helen Duncan swallowed yards of cheesecloth which she later regurgitated. To show how nonsensical this theory was, Mrs Duncan gladly submitted herself to X-ray examination. Price’s “explanation” was that she had a secondary stomach, like a cow.

The X-ray examination proved that both her stomach and her oesophagus were normal.

Counsel for the defence at the Old Bailey tried to introduce the X-ray photographs as evidence, but these too were legally inadmissible.

More than once at Helen Duncan’s séances, I was invited to handle some of the ectoplasm immediately after it had been produced. It was always bone-dry, and had a curious stiff “feel”, proving that it could not have been regurgitated.

I conducted an experiment that was conclusive in its result. At my suggestion, Helen Duncan, and every sitter at one séance, swallowed tablets of methylene blue. These had the effect of dyeing into a bluish colour the contents of all our stomachs. Yet when the materialisations appeared, they were their usual white colour.

Having given these examples of materialisation, I should like, in contrast, to furnish one that is exactly opposite – dematerialisation.

Helen Duncan had a psychic gift which enabled her to read written questions placed in sealed envelopes, and to supply the answers. I tested this ability many times.

Once I wrote a question concerning a woman with a most unusual hyphenated name, Bayley-Worthington. Naturally, I made sure that the medium did not see what I wrote, but she was able to repeat my question, including this uncommon name, and to give me a reply.

I happened to mention this phenomenon to Estelle Roberts, who, never having seen it demonstrated, expressed the desire to participate in such a séance. I arranged a meeting between the two mediums. I handed Estelle Roberts a sheet of paper on which she wrote a question which nobody else could see. She folded the paper and placed it in an envelope. This was sealed by her and handed to Helen Duncan.

Before attempting to “read” the question, Mrs Duncan followed her usual procedure. Slowly she rubbed the sealed envelope on her temple, and then at the base of her spine. She said it was always necessary to do that before she could repeat the wording on the folded paper. Then slowly she exclaimed: “When—will—I—hear—from—my—…

Here, a puzzled expression came over Mrs Duncan’s face. “It’s gone!” she announced.

Estelle Roberts commented: “That is very good.

You have read my question, all except the last two words.” Still looking puzzled, Helen Duncan repeated: “It’s gone!”

Estelle Roberts assured Mrs Duncan that she was accurate as far as she had gone and, to confirm her statement, opened the envelope with the intention of showing the question she had written. Then we were all surprised, for the paper was gone! The envelope was empty. And the paper has never reappeared.

Estelle Roberts told me that she understood the significance of this strange happening. She had asked a question concerning someone who had passed on, and recalled that Red Cloud had said she should not seek information concerning this individual until a certain time had elapsed, and that had not yet occurred.

Mrs Duncan’s power of materialisation had another curious facet, in which a slate pencil would write without any seeming visible means of support. This was a phenomenon she never took seriously, and always had to be cajoled into demonstrating it.

The requirements were two slates, such as school children use, and a pencil. First I washed the slates clean and wrote a question with a pencil, making sure that the medium could not see what I was doing. Then I put the pencil horizontally between the two slates and tied them round with string.
Helen Duncan placed them beneath a table. She held one hand below the slates to keep them wedged and to prevent them falling.

I heard the pencil make its usual scratching sound as an answer to my question was written. When the reply was completed, three distinct taps were heard coming from beneath the table. This was the signal for Mrs Duncan to produce the slates. When I opened them, there was a spirit answer written below my question.

When You Hear The “Dead” Speak

By Maurice Barbanell

NOBODY knows exactly how direct voice is produced. Perhaps the explanation involves concepts of time and space that are beyond our understanding, which is limited to happenings in three dimensions.

When I once asked Red Cloud, the guide of Estelle Roberts, who in my long experience has produced the most evidential voice communications, how the results were obtained, he did so, but I could not understand it. I had his description reported verbatim, which I have read many times, but am still unable to comprehend the mechanics of this form of mediumship. It may be that varying methods are used with different mediums.

One of its most intriguing aspects is that it is “catching.” After Frank Decker, the American voice medium, had visited our home circle, he advised us to put a trumpet in the circle at the next séance, saying that he thought that sufficient “power” would be left behind to provide an impetus for us. We followed his advice and, sure enough, it happened. The trumpet, on which we had placed luminous paint, rose from the ground. That was the beginning of our own direct-voice phenomena which continued regularly thereafter.

Similarly Dennis Bradley, after many séances in his home with George Valiantine, another excellent medium, developed his own voice mediumship which functioned successfully and regularly. Once he said to Hannen Swaffer, who attended all these séances, “Do you realise that you and I know more about the direct voice than anybody living today?” Swaffer replied, “I don’t know what you know, but all I know is that I sit on a chair in the dark and we hear voices.”

Not even the communicators are able to explain in a manner that we can understand what they do to make themselves heard seeing that they no longer possess the power of speech or the physical equipment connected with it. I remember a communicator who, on being asked how he spoke, replied that he went into a kind of box and did the equivalent of our shouting into a hole, and we seemed to hear him.

In Arthur Findlay’s book, “On the Edge of the Etheric”, which features outstandingly successful voice sittings, there is an explanation by the mediums guide. He said that ectoplasm, to which other ingredients were added, was used to construct a mask resembling the mouth and tongue into which the communicator placed his face and created something similar to his old voice. No clue was given as to what these other ingredients were. Nor was it explained how this process of materialising the voice was actually done.

It may be, as this guide said, we shall never know until we pass on. Obviously something similar to a human larynx has to be constructed in order that non-physical beings can produce physical results. Obviously, too, most of the “power,” whatever that may be, is drawn from the medium.

In 40 years’ experience of psychic phenomena, I have never come across any more evidential than the sustained results we obtained with Estelle Roberts. Red Cloud was always superb in his production of irrefutable evidence. Yet even when I recognised the distinctive intonation in a friend’s voice when he communicated, I could detect traces of what sounded like Estelle’s voice.

The technique in this form of communication must be difficult. You could tell from the movements of the trumpet before any voice was heard whether the spirit speaker was a beginner or an expert. With novices it was uncertain, inclined to wobble and dropped at the end of their talk with a bang. With experienced speakers it rose vertically with great speed, and when they had finished it gracefully and silently returned to the floor.

Sir Henry Segrave, who said that the technique was far more difficult than his motor racing, could, at first, only stammer out a few words with silences in between them. After a few months, so perfect was his mastery, that the trumpet would move over to his wife’s ear while he whispered into it and maintained a long conversation.

Not only did communicators have to learn the process but sitters had to acquire some understanding. According to Red Cloud, before communicators were allowed to return at his séances he drilled and rehearsed them in what they were going to say, to make sure that what they said was unmistakable evidence of their identity. Thus we were told always to encourage them to speak and never to bark questions like, “Who are you?” “Whom do you want?” “When did you die?” which inhibited results.

At Estelle’s voice séances we always played the same gramophone record with its tunes from “Rose Marie,” the musical comedy. Red Cloud, who should know, said that these musical vibrations helped. Awkward silences by self-conscious newcomers would be a deterrent. Before each communication we were encouraged to chat among ourselves, while the record played.
Then would come Red Cloud’s voice, “Hold on,” and we stopped chatting, the music was made softer, while another visitor broke the silence of death.

The séances were always held in complete darkness. Occasionally when a chink of light could be seen coming through the door, Red Cloud would ask that this be covered. I have heard some Spiritualists say that the darkness was unnecessary and that similar results could be obtained in red or blue light. When I put this point to Red Cloud he replied, “You give me the conditions and I will produce the results.” No fault could be found with this logic.

In varying degrees of red light, with other mediums, I have heard spirit voices either through a trumpet or seemingly independent, coming out of space in different parts of the room. On rare occasions, the medium, not in trance, as is usual, would converse with communicators.

In America they have a variation of this phenomenon in what they call solar-plexus voice mediumship. Hazel Ridley demonstrated it in Britain on one visit from the USA. I have heard this voice phenomenon several times and frequently in good artificial light or daylight. The voice seemed to emanate from the direction of the medium’s solar plexus, but a few inches away from it, and you could carry on a conversation with it. A curious feature is that most of the mediums who developed this form of mediumship were either born or developed in the region of Niagara Falls. Was it the rushing water that produced the necessary power? I do not know.

When it is efficiently developed, direct voice is perhaps the most satisfactory form of spirit communication, especially when you obtain it in your own home. Alas, in this age of speed and bustle, when too many people are trying to get nowhere faster, so few have the patience, as the Hodges of Brighton did for many years, to sit, week after week, to unfold this priceless gift, so dramatic in piercing the iron curtain of death.

HUMAN DRAMAS AT A DIRECT VOICE SEANCE

By Maurice Barbanell

“I want to talk to my wife. I am William Reane . . .”

“Don’t you know me, Nellie darling? It is Mowbray . . .”

 “I want to speak to my husband. I am Mary Sharpe . . .”

 “I want to talk to my husband, Florence Eyles speaking . . .”

 “Father, it is Jack Waddington speaking . . .”

“I am Arthur Wilcox . . .”

THESE were the opening statements made by the spirit voices when they spoke at a Red Cloud Direct Voice circle. The medium was Estelle Roberts.

 The evidence that came through proved that life goes on, and, where suitable instruments can be found, the “dead” return to speak to those whom they knew here.

The seance began with Jackie, who generally is the first to speak after Red Cloud has announced his presence. He was followed by a voice which said, “I want to talk to my wife. I am William Reane.”

“Darling, is that really you speaking?” he was asked.

 “Listen,” the spirit voice replied. Do you remember we said that, if I could get back, I should tell you about the daisy chains. You filled my hands with daisies in the coffin.”

 “Yes, I did,” confirmed the sitter. “Oh! how wonderful.”

“Thank Dorothy for all she has done for me,” asked the voice. “I am happy that you published my poems.”

“I am so glad you know about them,” exclaimed his wife.

 Then the spirit voice of the husband gave her another piece of evidence. “Tell me about Chloe,” he said.

“Do you mean our dog?” asked the sitter, in amazement.

“Yes, of course,” was the reply.

“I want you to know,” the voice went on, “that I am quite happy. You said if I could only give you the symbol of the daisy chain.”

 “I put daisies in his hands in his coffin,” volunteered the sitter. “How wonderful he should remember.”

The next communication was full of evidence.  There was present in the séance room a woman whose son had returned at an earlier seance to thank Lady Segrave for some help she had given his mother. When he spoke this time, he gave his mother scores of proofs of his survival. Every time she referred to his death, he pulled her up. She corrected herself by saying, “I beg your pardon. I mean since you left me.”

 Just before he went, she said, “Goodbyebut he insisted that it was only to be “Au revoir.”

 “Nellie,” called the next voice. “Don’t you know me, darling? It is Mowbray. I have May here with me – my sister.”

 “I know,” was the answer. “Give her my love.”

“It is wonderful to hear your voice again, after all these years,” the spirit voice continued.

Then he gave more evidence. “Do you remember we were only together ten days, and then – death?”

“Yes,” was the answer.  “On our honeymoon.”

The voice of the spirit husband comforted her, but she assured him that she was “happier than I have been for years and years.”

“Do you know who else is here with me?” her “dead” husband asked “Wait a minute while I go out and let him speak to you. Don’t be unhappy, he added. “You have been my bride all your life.” The sound of kisses was heard coming through the trumpet.

“It has been simply wonderful to see you, darling,” the sitter told him.

“God bless you, my darling bride,” was his answer.

Then, as often happens, Red Cloud volunteered further evidence. Addressing the wife, he said, “He tells me he died of typhoid fever.”

“Yes, quite right,” was the sitter’s reply.

 The next voice announced itself as “Father, Father William.” He was very excited, and dropped the trumpet for a few minutes. There seemed to be some confusion.

 Soon he spoke again. I want my daughter. Just a moment, and I will make myself known. My wife’s name is Louisa Teresa. My brother’s name is Henry. My sister is Amelia. My other sister is Connie, and the other one is Emily.”

“Now,” he asked, “have I made myself clear’?”

 “Yes, wonderfully clear,” was the answer.

 “It is many years since I spoke to you,” the spirit voice went on. “I have not come for long, but I wanted make it clear who I was.”

The next spirit voice announced itself as “Bert,” and asked for his wife.

He told her of the spirits who were with him, giving their names as Gladys, my dear little girl,” and added that “Charlie and Tim are here with me.”

He asked for his love to be given to someone named Evie, and promised to come back and talk again some day.

I want to speak to my husband,” said the next spirit communicator. I am Mary Sharpe. I am trying to speak to you, dear, but it is not easy.”

‘Come and try,” said her husband. ‘I am trying. . . . You know why I wanted to speak so badly today.”

“I would like to hear you say why,” sitter said.

“Because it is my daughter’s birthday,” the reply came, clearly and distinctly.

 “Yes, that is good,” acknowledged sitter. “That is very clever of you to hit on that, because no one knew about it here. . . . I wanted you to bring something like that, that no one knew only ourselves.”

“Yes,” the spirit wife replied, “I told you who I am.”

“Yes, but I am going to be very strict with you. You told me to insist upon proof.” So she gave him some more proofs.

 “You know, dear, I was only twenty-eight when I died,” she said. “I died with appendicitis and peritonitis.”

“That is quite right.”

“Have I got to prove any more’?” asked the spirit voice.

“No,” was the reply. “I think you have given splendid proof.” In spite of that, she told him, “I have been here about twenty years.”

“Your daughter is a young woman now,” her husband said. “I suppose you are as proud of her as I am.”

 “As proud as I am of you,” was the spirit’s reply. “I love you always. I tried hard, as I did not want you to go away disappointed.”

I should have been disappointed,” husband told her, “but I should have known that there was no fault on your side.”

Then there came a voice which said, “I want to speak to my husband. I am Florence Eyles speaking.”

“Do you recognize me, Flo’?” she was asked.

“Of course I do,” came the reply. “That is my husband. . . Tell me, how is Tornmy?” she asked. Then she enquired after Pat, Gladys, Maurice, and said, “Those are my children.”

 She gave her husband some advice about her daughters, and told him that she heard his prayers every night.

“Don’t you worry about me,” she insisted. “I am happy, as long as you are. I will stick it out if you do.”

 Before the spirit wife left, she told her husband, “Don’t you worry about Pat. I will look after her and guide her.”

“That is what I ask you to do every night,” her husband said.

 “I know you do,” was the reply. “It is no easy task to leave a man with two boys and two girls.”

The spirit voice that followed spoke to a clergyman, who was seated next to me.

 “Father,” the spirit voice said. “It is Jack Waddington speaking.”

 “It is wonderful to hear you, my boy.”

 “Is it not wonderful to hear them all, Father’?” his son asked. “Give my love to mother.. . .I was with you on your birthday, a few days ago. . . . I want you to know that I am helping you.”

The father was overjoyed at his son’s return. There was another surprise in store for him, for the spirit son told him, “I have a friend here who wishes to speak to you, Father. Just hold on a moment.”

 Then we heard, “Most difficult, and yet I am making a big effort tonight.”

“Is that my friend’?” asked the clergyman.

 The spirit then gave his name, “The Rev. Alexander White. I have come here tonight to make myself known to you, because I am inspiring you in your work for God and humanity.”

“Were you at Edinburgh’?” asked the clergyman.

 I was,” came the reply. “I have also been described to you by a medium.”

“Where was it you were described to me’?” he was asked.

 “ Somewhere near the sea,” came the answer. “I want you to know that I am with you when you read my book, and I shall help you in all your work. Do not be afraid of truth.”

“I loved your writings and sermons,” the sitter volunteered.

 “I am happy to have this great privilege of speaking to you,” the spirit answered. “God will watch over you and yours, if you will do your work for God and Man.”

Before he went, he pronounced his benediction, “May the great God keep you within his presence.”

“It is the great Alexander White,” the clergyman told me. “One of Scotland’s finest preachers.”

“I am Arthur Wilcox speaking,” announced the next spirit voice.

“Hullo, Lil,” he added, attracting the attention of the sitter to whom he was speaking. “Do you know who is here with me tonight’? . . . I have had a deuce of a job to keep him quiet – my brother Tom.”

He made several enquiries after friends, named George and Alice, and volunteered the information that “I was with you when you had the operation. I was quite close all the time.”

“I know,” he was told. “I could not have got through without that knowledge.”

He sent his love to his “two kiddies.”

“You know,” he added, “I had to be a soldier. I had to fight.. . .I thought I was doing the right thing.”

When he had gone we were told that it was the first time he had spoken, and that he had passed over eighteen years ago.

The spirit voice that followed confirmed that he had appeared on a spirit photograph which had been taken recently. He sent a message to someone named Margaret, whom he wanted to thank for allowing him to speak through her.

 The next voice addressed a woman seated close to me, whom I learned was an old Spiritualist. He gave her a symbol and encouraged her in a new venture she had recently undertaken.

 He was immediately followed by a spirit voice who announced that she was this woman’s sister-in-law. She cleared up some difficulties connected with a will, which she explained had troubled her.

 “I want to speak to Bill ——-,said the next spirit voice, asking for a friend of mine who had only recently become interested in Spiritualism.

The voice gave its nickname as “Digger,” and was delighted because of her success in coming through.

 “Go back and tell my daughters I have spoken,” she said. “Please be sure and tell Ethel I am not part of her subconscious mind. Tell Daisy I am very much alive, and want to get into contact with her.”

She indicated that she knew all that was happening around him, and even suggested that he might name a new boat after her.

She had tried to speak at a previous seance, but had failed to get through, and was very proud of her achievement on this occasion.

Used as I am to the high standard of evidence obtained in Red Cloud’s circle, I was astonished at the amount of proof which was received by those present.

Words are inadequate to describe the drama in some of the conversations, the humour, the pathos, in fact, the humanness of it all.

For nearly two hours, death had been defeated, and the voices of the living “dead” had spoken to their loved ones and friends.

Daniel Dunglas Home

D.D.Home, is often regarded as the greatest physical medium in the history of Spiritualism.

Daniel Home’s mother, Elizabeth Home (née McNeill) was known as a seer in Scotland, as were many of her predecessors, like her great uncle, Colin Urquhart, and her uncle Mr McKenzie.

The gift of second sight was often seen as a curse, as it foretold instances of tragedy and death.

Home’s father, William Home, was the illegitimate son of Alexander, the 10th Earl of Home.

Daniel Home was Elizabeth’s third child, and was born on 20th March 1833. The one-year-old Home was deemed a delicate child, having a “nervous temperament”, and was passed to Elizabeth’s childless sister, Mary Cook. She lived with her husband in the coastal town of Portobello, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Edinburgh.

“My aunt and others have told me that when I was a baby my cradle was frequently rocked, as if some kind guardian spirit was tending me in my slumbers.

“My aunt has also told me that when I was about four years old, I had a vision of the circumstances attending the passing from earth of a little cousin, I being at Portobello, near Edinburgh, and she at Linlithgow, all which proved to be entirely correct.”

He was taken to the United States at the age of nine, growing up in Greeneville, Connecticut, and Troy, New York.

It was noticed that he had keen powers of observation and a prodigious memory. He saw his first vision at age 13.

A schoolfellow, Edwin, died in Greeneville and appeared to him in a bright cloud at night in Troy, thus keeping a childish promise with which they had bound themselves that he who died first would appear to the other.

From that time on his thoughts turned more and more to the life beyond.

Home’s second vision came four years later. It announced the death of his mother to the hour.

The first scientist to investigate Home’s phenomena was George Bush, a distinguished theologian and Oriental scholar from New York.

The celebrated American poet William Cullen Bryant and a Professor Wells of Harvard University testified in a written statement to the reality of the phenomena. Professors Robert Hare and James Mapes, both famous chemists, and John Worth Edmonds of the United States Supreme Court owed much of their conversion to Spiritualism to Home.

Home’s first levitation occurred in the South Manchester house of Ward Cheney, an eminent American manufacturer. Strains of music were heard when no instrument was near.

Nobody understood at that time the part the physical organism plays in the production of the phenomena. The demands made on Home were very heavy and the drain of nervous energy excessive.

His intended medical studies had to be broken off because of illness; a trip to Europe being advised, Home went to England in April 1855.

He first stayed at Cox’s Hotel in Jermyn Street, London, and was later the guest of J. S. Rymer, an Ealing solicitor.

The conversion of many of the later leaders of the Spiritualist movement in England was attributed to Home’s phenomena.

When these phenomena attracted public attention Home found himself in the midst of a press war. Among the first who asked Home to attend a séance was Lord Brougham, who came to the sitting with Sir David Brewster.

Home was proud of the impression he made upon these two distinguished men and wrote about it to a friend in the United States.

The letter was published in the United States and found its way to the London press, whereupon Brewster at once disclaimed all belief in Spiritualism and set down the phenomena to imposture.

At the same time his statements in private supported Home, and they too found their way into the newspapers.

Home’s name was originally Daniel Home, but by the time he arrived in Europe he had lengthened it to Daniel Dunglas Home, in reference to the Scottish house of Home, of which his father claimed to be a part.

In London Home found a believer in Spiritualism, William Cox, who owned a large hotel at 53, 54 and 55 Jermyn Street, London. As Cox was so enamoured of Home’s abilities, he let Home stay at the hotel without payment.

Robert Owen, an 83-year-old social reformer, was also staying at the hotel, and introduced Home to many of his friends in London society.

At the time Home described as tall and thin, with blue eyes and auburn hair, fastidiously dressed but seriously ill with consumption.

Nevertheless, he held sittings for notable people in full daylight, moving objects that were some distance away.

Some early guests at Home’s sittings included the scientist Sir David Brewster, the novelists Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Thomas Adolphus Trollope, and the Swedenborgian James John Garth Wilkinson.

Home converted most sceptics, but Robert Browning, the poet, proved more difficult. After attending a séance of Home’s Browning gave his impression of Home in the unflattering poem, “Sludge the Medium” (1864).

His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was convinced that the phenomena she witnessed were genuine and their discussions about Home were a constant source of disagreement.

Home’s fame grew, fuelled by his feats of levitation. William Crookes claimed to know of more than 50 occasions in which Home levitated “in good light” (gas light) at least five to seven feet above the floor.

Homes’ feats were recorded by Frank Podmore: “We all saw him rise from the ground slowly to a height of about six inches, remain there for about ten seconds, and then slowly descend.”

In the following years Home travelled across continental Europe, and always as a guest of wealthy patrons.

In Paris, he was summoned to the Tuileries to perform a séance for Napoleon III.The story of Home’s séance with Napoleon was not made public. The curiosity of the press was aroused, however, when the first séance was followed by many others.

An account of the first séance in Home’s autobiography, Incidents in My Life, tells how Napoleon followed every manifestation with keen and sceptical attention and satisfied himself by the closest scrutiny that neither deception nor delusion was possible.

His and the empress’s unspoken thoughts were replied to, and the empress was touched by a materialized hand that, from a defect in one of the fingers, she recognized to be the hand of her late father.

The second séance was more forceful. The room was shaken; heavy tables were lifted and then held down to the floor by an alteration of their weight.

At the third séance a phantom hand appeared above the table, lifted a pencil, and wrote the single word Napoleon in the handwriting of Napoleon I.

Prince Murat later related to Home that the Duke de Morny told Napoleon III that he felt it a duty to contradict the report that the emperor believed in Spiritualism.

The emperor replied, “Quite right, but you may add when you speak on the subject again that there is a difference between believing a thing and having proof of it, and that I am certain of what I have seen.”

Earlier, in Italy, Home had been introduced to the king of Naples.

The German Emperor and the Queen of Holland soon joined the ranks of the curious who were besieging Home with requests for séances.

Queen Sophia of the Netherlands, wrote: “I saw him four times…I felt a hand tipping my finger; I saw a heavy golden bell moving alone from one person to another; I saw my handkerchief move alone and return to me with a knot… He himself is a pale, sickly, rather handsome young man but without a look or anything which would either fascinate or frighten you. It is wonderful. I am so glad I have seen it…”

In Rome during the spring of 1858 Home was introduced to Count Koucheleff-Besborodka and his wife.

Soon after he became engaged to Alexandrina de Kroll, the count’s sister-in-law.

The wedding took place in St. Petersburg.

It was a great society affair. Count Alexis Tolstoy, the poet, and Count Bobrinsky, a chamberlain to the emperor, acted as groomsmen.

Alexandre Dumas, a guest of Count Koucheleff-Besborodka, was one of the witnesses.

From Home’s marriage to Alexandrina de Kroll a son was born.

Shortly after Home returned to England, friends tried to bring about a meeting between him and Michael Faraday, the famous scientist and proponent of the involuntary muscular action theory to explain table movement.

As the Morning Star reported, Faraday was not satisfied with demanding an open and complete examination, but wished Home to acknowledge that the phenomena, however produced, were ridiculous and contemptible. Thereafter, the idea of giving him a sitting was abandoned.

Home derived more satisfaction from his experiences with Dr. Ashburner, a royal physician, and John Elliotson, sometime president of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, a character study of whom, as “Dr. Goodenough,” was drawn by Thackeray in Pendennis, and to whom the work was dedicated.

When Ashburner became a believer in Spiritualism, Elliotson, who was one of the hardest materialists, became estranged from him and publicly attacked him for his folly.

A few years later, however, Home and Elliotson met in Dieppe. The result was a séance, a strict investigation, and the conversion of Elliotson.

On his return to London he hastened to seek reconciliation with Ashburner and publicly declared that he was satisfied of the reality of the phenomena and that they were tending to revolutionize his thoughts and feelings.

Home’s phenomena also radically changed Robert Chambers, co-author, with Leitch Ritchie, of the anonymous Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844), which startled the public by its outspoken scepticism.

Chambers attended the séance Robert Bell wrote about in Cornhill Magazine.

He was too afraid of losing his reputation to make a public statement, although he allegedly received startling evidence of continued personal identity from his deceased father and daughter.

Nevertheless, Chambers anonymously wrote the preface to Home’s autobiography in 1862.

Eight years later, during the Lyon-Home trial, he abandoned his attitude of reserve and gave an affidavit in Home’s favour.

In 1866, Mrs Lyon, a wealthy widow, adopted Home as her son, giving him £60,000 in an attempt to gain introduction into high society.

Finding that the adoption did not change her social situation, Lyon changed her mind, and brought a suit for the return of her money from Home on the grounds that it had been obtained by spiritual influence.

Under British law, the defendant bears the burden of proof in such a case, and proof was impossible since there was no physical evidence.

The case was decided against Home, Mrs Lyon’s money was returned, and the press pilloried Home’s reputation.

Home’s high society acquaintances thought that he behaved like a complete gentleman throughout the ordeal, and he did not lose a single important friend.

Home met one of his future closest friends in 1867; the young Lord Adare (later the 4th Earl of Dunraven).

Adare was fascinated by Home, and began documenting the séances they held.

One of Home’s levitations occurred the following year, and in front of three witnesses (Adare, Captain Wynne, and Lord Lindsay) Home was said to have levitated out of the third storey window of one room, and back in through the window of the adjoining room.

In October 1871, Home married for the second, and last time, to Julie de Gloumeline, a wealthy Russian, whom he met in St Petersburg.

In the process, he converted to the Greek Orthodox faith.

At the age of 38, Home retired, as his health was bad – the tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for most of his life, was advancing – and his powers, he claimed, were failing. He died on the 21 June 1886, and was buried in the St. Germain-en-Laye cemetery.

******************************************************************************************************

Experiences in Spiritualism with D.D.Home

By Viscount Adare

Home here threw himself back in his chair, rubbed his hands together as if very much pleased, and said, “Now, if you wish to ask any questions I am ready to answer them.”

Question (Henry Jencken): How do you make us see spirit forms?

Answer:  At times we make passes over the individual to cause him to see us, sometimes we make the actual resemblance of our former clothing, and of what we were, so that we appear exactly as we were known to you on earth; sometimes we project an image that you see, sometimes we cause it to be produced upon your brain, sometimes you see us as we are, with a cloudlike aura of light around us.

Question (H.J.): Do you use actual garments?

Answer:  Purity is our clothing. We have no need of garments; but are enveloped in a sort of aura, or cloud of light. Other spirits, more impure and gross, dwelling nearer earth, have need of garments.

Question (H. J.):  How do we appear to you?

Answer:  Mostly in pure light.

Question:  Can you see our light?

Answer:  We can see all lights; sunlight, and every colour that it is composed of. We see the most beautiful combinations of light. Everything has its light. We see the progress either of growth or decay that is taking place in everything. The table that you are sitting at was once growing.  We could see every particle expanding and increasing; now it is decaying; and though it is so gradual that to you it is not apparent, yet we can see the change taking place in every particle of it.

Question:  In moving among us, do we present an obstacle to you? Do you avoid us?

Answer: We do, and must avoid you. For your ether bodies and the atmosphere that surrounds you are, in many cases, as solid and impenetrable to us as granite is to you. We can see both the light of your spiritual bodies and of your material bodies.

Question:  Are not the sun’s rays composed of something more than light?

Answer:  Of light only, and an elastic wave of electricity that precedes the light.

Question: I suppose it is not possible for you to visit the sun?

Answer: Most certainly we can. Why should we not?

Question: Does it take time for you to travel?

Answer: Yes.

Question: I suppose you move in the same ratio as light?

Answer: We can travel faster than light.

Question: What is the appearance of your form or body?

Answer: Exactly like your material body, only slightly smaller in every respect.

Question: How do you produce material forms?

Answer: You produce them with and through us.

Question: But have you no field for action?

Answer: You cannot understand us; the material is to us, as it were, spiritual. Suppose I want a fruit, I cannot create it by thinking of it; I must go and fetch it from where it is: so if I want an idea I must travel into higher spheres, and seek and find it as an actual created thing. Many things are more real than you suppose; thoughts, are they not almost realities? Try and think of a house you knew long ago; you will invariably enter it by the door; you go in by the door in your imagination, were you to enter by the windows or the walls, you would not understand or recognize it. That will tell you that there is something of material reality in the idea of a house in your mind.

Question: Are then your flowers and fruits as actual and real to you as those growing upon earth are to us?

Answer: They are as real to us as an apple or pomegranate is to you.

Question: Have you animals in your spheres?

Answer: There are animals that give pleasure such as horses and dogs; nearer earth are baser animals, and those that cause pain; some saints and holy men, being in an ecstatic state have at times caught glimpses of what is going on near them, animals and men, strange and curious forms all mixed up together.

The only way I can at all describe it to you is to look at a drop of muddy water under the microscope, and observe the strange forms; you will see the tail of one protruding from another, and so on, hence the old ideas of satyrs and creatures half man, half beast, hence the notion of devils with horns and tails, and of a material hell. Other men have seen higher and brighter spheres.  All this is but the imperfect imagining of those who see visions: as in Dante’s Frozen Hell, he saw the frozen zone and spiritual forms moving about, and mixed them up all together. Bodily suffering produces mental suffering; and mental suffering afflicts the body; need you be told this? Instance, a case where fright may produce paralysis; or where pain, insensibility.

In answer to a question:

The spirit is always sane; the body makes insane. We can see the spirit like – what shall I say – well – like, to use a very homely simile, a jack-in-the-box;we see the empty, useless casket, and the spirit hovering above it, the spirit bounds forth as soon as liberated by death – by sleep.

In answer to a question:

Some spirits are removed to other planets, in the course of formation, not necessarily as a punishment, but that by trial they may develop and return again at some future time purified. Spirits very often go voluntarily to other planets, until they can fit themselves to be of use to those on earth, or to dwell with other spirits in higher spheres; tell this to Dan when he awakes, as he has often wondered why some of his friends have not returned to visit, him?

In answer to a question:

Actual substances are thrown off from the earth and get entirely beyond its attraction; and actual substances are brought from the sun to the earth by means of the rays of light, substances that can be weighed – aye, and that will be weighed some day.

In answer to a question as to punishments:

Why and how are you punished? You punish yourselves if you have broken a law of nature; for no natural law can be broken without amends being made for its violation. Cut a vein and the blood flows, because you have violated a natural law.

Question: Do you like making manifestations?

Answer: It pleases us to come to you, and to make manifestations. We get so charged by remaining any time in the earth’s atmosphere, that it is a positive relief to make sounds.

There is a spirit now come into the room; he is what we call naturally charged. (Quantities of raps heard on the table.) Now he cannot help doing that, and it is a positive pleasure to him.

(Speaking to me) Elliotson did not want to frighten you the other evening at your house; he does not know yet how to manage manifestations, hence the noise he made the other night. He wanted to see Daniel and you too, but he did not intend to frighten either of you.

Question (H.J.): As to a law of predestination?

Answer: Yes, there is a law of predestination, which is quite true, only you could not understand it.

Question: Infinite possibility gives freedom of action?

Answer: Yes, infinite possibility, harmonizing with predestination is the law. Oh, I wish so much some spirits from other planets could come to you, but that is very rarely allowed.

When Malle (Mrs Jencken’s servant) passed away, a spirit from another planet passed by the open window, that was all, and yet the room was filled with perfume for days; if you had thought of it, and had gone out into the garden, you would have found the perfume stronger there than in the room.

“Henry, your father was inspired when he wrote his works, remember this (grasping H.Jencken’s hand). Act! Do something!

It is so very glorious to assist in the search for truth. There are so many stubborn men to be convinced. It is your duty to say that which you know to be true, to utter it. (taking my hand)

Oh, my lord, do something! Act! Aid the many beings yet in darkness. There is the truth, it is only hid, it is there nevertheless shining forth in all its splendour.”

Woman Materialises In Wedding Dress

Roy Brandon, a Fleet Street journalist, sat with Helen Duncan many times. This is his story. It has been said that occasionally Mrs Duncan resorted to fraud. Brandon replied that she always insisted on test conditions — and accepted any condition imposed. ‘All I can say is that if she ever attempted to cheat the result would have been utterly ludicrous, and the fraud palpable to the meanest intellect. I knew Mrs Duncan well. I was aware of all her little frailties. But I revere her memory, as I do that of Albert, the perfect guide. For through her wonderful gift, and with Albert’s aid, she brought comfort to thousands of mourners.’

THE SÉANCE WAS HELD under strict test conditions. Six female sitters accompanied Mrs Duncan to another room, where the medium completely undressed, donning light séance garments which had been inspected previously by the other sitters.

Brandon’s wife was a witness to this operation.

The first form to emerge from the cabinet was a woman — the mother of one of the sitters. Before she appeared Albert stated that she had been many years on the spirit side of life.

The materialised form then appeared and held a conversation with her daughter. At one point, referring to a relative with her on the Other Side, the mother said, ‘Two or three days ago you said you didn’t care which of us came — so I came first!’

‘Quite true’, the woman admitted.

Then a man with a white beard manifested and spoke to his daughter. The latter left her seat to examine the figure, and announced that she was perfectly satisfied.

Following this came an emotional moment, tense and dramatic. The materialised form of a dark, handsome young man came from the cabinet. At his appearance a young woman started to her feet with a half-smothered cry. ‘Mark!’ she exclaimed, in instant recognition.

The form tried to speak, but was obviously overcome with emotion. ‘I love you’, he managed to say at last, and was then drawn back into the cabinet.

‘I was afraid of that’, Albert commented. ‘This boy is a Jew. He is very emotional. I must tell you that he knew he was “dying”. Almost at the last, you took his hand and said, “Do you know me dear?”

‘That is so’, the sitter admitted.

‘He suffered with kidney trouble’, Albert informed her. ‘He became very thin, and during the last few days his feet began to swell. He had a diabetic condition.’ In response to pleadings, this spirit made two further attempts to leave the cabinet. Finally, with an effort, he stepped clear of the curtains and drew himself up to his full height.

‘Can you see me?’ he asked. Then he handed the woman a note which he had written on a pad in the cabinet. The sitter announced her complete conviction that the materialised form was Mark, her husband.

At the conclusion of the séance she said to Brandon, ‘My husband was very emotional. The personality was his undoubtedly, apart from the fact that I at once recognised his features. This is the greatest moment of my life.’

Before sending the next form out of the cabinet, Albert, the medium’s guide, addressing one of the sitters, said: ‘I have a lady here for you. She passed to our side soon after marriage.’ After volunteering other evidential details, Albert, speaking to the same sitter, added: ‘Earlier this evening I overheard your conversation in which mention was made of “cheesecloth” and “gauze”. I want you to take particular notice of the dress worn by this lady. It is certainly not cheesecloth!’

The spirit then made her appearance. Manipulating a pocket torch she directed a beam of white light over her face and dress so that she could be seen quite clearly by all the sitters. As the white light shone on her features and gown the sitters were moved to murmurs of amazement and admiration. Judged by its
sheen, the gown was of satin.

The woman addressed by Albert immediately claimed recognition and, in the course of the conversation which ensued, the spirit volunteered the statement that she was showing herself in her ‘bridal gown’. The spirit form spoke quickly and in a cultured voice. Once, in response to a remark that she was ‘looking more beautiful than ever’, she said: ‘You see, dear, I have no make-up on!’

Then an astonishing thing happened. The sitter flashed a question.

‘Have you got your baby?’ she asked

‘Yes — here with me’, was the instant reply, and the spirit form moved swiftly into the cabinet to return in a few seconds holding a baby in long clothes!

As a parting shot, when bidding adieu to her friend, the spirit said: ‘I am perfectly happy. I wouldn’t change places with you for anything!’

Among other forms to materialise were several children, one of whom a little boy named Ronnie, wrote his name on a piece of paper which he handed proudly to his mother.

Another voice was heard from within the cabinet. This spirit did not materialise, but instead used a ‘voice box’ to communicate with one of the sitters.

During the séance another of Mrs Duncan’s controls, the irrepressible Peggy, came out and sang to them. Peggy frequently appeared at these sittings. On this occasion she sang ‘Misty Island’ then, addressing Brandon she announced she would sing his favourite song, and right away obliged with ‘You Are My Heart’s Delight’.

Someone handed her a box of chocolates. Peggy ate some, then very generously suggested that the other sitters might like to join her. She insisted on them having a chocolate each.

When the power was nearly spent Albert told them that he was going to let them see the ‘voice box’ referred to above. The curtains were drawn aside to reveal Mrs Duncan, still in trance, standing erect, with ectoplasm moulded into the shape of a cone at her mouth. This ectoplasmic cone was about a foot in length, and the wide end was tilted towards the ceiling.

At a subsequent sitting, the ‘voice box’ was again shown high above and quite separate to the medium who, on this occasion, was still seated in her chair.

In all, 13 spirits materialised at this sitting.

The following is a statement by Miss Jeanette Strom, who attended the sitting:

‘I have had the most amazing experience of my life. Tonight I was privileged to see the materialised spirit form of Agnes Sakoshansky, a Russian Jewess, who came to this country when she was a very young girl. A refined, cultured young woman of rare beauty, she was a very dear friend of mine. I was in close touch
with her right up to the time of her passing, which occurred shortly after her marriage. She passed with her baby unborn.
‘Her features were so clearly defined in the white light that anyone who had known her could easily have recognised her. The charm of manner, the voice, the every gesture of the materialised form was characteristic of Agnes.
‘It was true what she said about her bridal gown. She was married in white satin. ‘Even more evidential was the incident of the child. When I spoke to her about her baby she immediately replied, “I have the baby with me”. She went straight back into the cabinet and only a second or so could have elapsed before she returned with the infant in her arms.
‘I would take my oath in a witness box that the spirit form I saw and spoke with was Agnes Sakoshansky.
(Signed) Jeanette Strom

In the long history of Spiritualism there is hardly a medium of note who has not at some time or another been accused of fraud. It is probably the easiest thing to do. Admittedly, the intricacies of mediumship are many and varied. To the uninitiated, to the hardened sceptic, to the alleged researcher who lacks understanding of this vast subject, to these people the simple and easy answer is that all mediumship is fraudulent.

Elizabeth Blake

The Mediumship of Elizabeth Blake    

Direct Voice in the Light

The account as published in the Omaha World-Herald of recent date is true with the exception of a few newspaper alterations that do not affect the substance of it. The man who wrote it (David Abbott) is an expert investigator and well acquainted with me. His statement of facts is conservative and careful. I witnessed many of them, and you can rely on the article as representing the facts correctly. – PROFESSOR JAMES H. HYSLOP

The editor speaks of this same David Abbott as a magician who has a wide reputation in psychic circles, and as one who has made a life study of the tricks of the professional medium.

[N.B. Two expert conjurers, David P. Abbott of the ASPR and E. A. Parsons, investigated Blake in 1906 and became convinced of the identity of the spirit communicators. Blake used a 2-foot long double trumpet; putting the small end to her ear and the larger one at that of the sitter, it appeared as if the voices came from her ear. If she covered the small end with her palm, the result was the same. The voices grew from whispers to such loudness that occasionally they were heard at a distance of 100 feet.]

The endorsement by David P. Abbott is of particular importance, since he created a wonderful trick in which voices appeared to come from a teapot when the spout was held to an ear; the teapot also answered questions. With his expert experience of such illusions, Abbott would have been expected to discover any similar tricks by Spiritualist mediums.

Mr. Abbott describes the medium as the wife of a humble farmer, a woman who has been the devoted mother of fifteen children, and has never been twenty miles from her home more than once or twice in her life. She lives in an obscure little village called Bradrick, Ohio — a spot very far removed from the beaten track; the only mode of access is by a little ferry across from Huntington, W. Va.

Elizabeth Blake was born at Proctorville, Ohio in 1847, and at the age of 2 years, she moved with her family to Cabel County, West Virginia, where she remained until the year 1879, when she married Zachary Blake. They lived in Bradrick.

Elizabeth took her transition to the higher life at Coryville, passing from pneumonia in the early winter of 1920 aged 73 years.

Elizabeth truly was an outstanding direct voice medium. A humble, unassuming lady, she dedicated 60 years of her life to spirit. An estimated 200,000 people attended her direct voice séances.

Mr. Abbott writes:
I determined to make an investigation on such lines as would entirely remove the possibility of any kind of trickery being employed. I will say, for such readers as may not know, that I am a performer of the tricks used by the hundreds of spirit mediums that travel over the land.

I am thoroughly familiar with the various ‘systems’ by which they gain the information that they give their subjects, and I determined to entirely remove the possibility of anything of that kind being used in this case. I was known to no one in that part of the country with the exception of Mr. ‘X.’ who merely knew my name and residence.

He knew nothing of any of my relatives, nor of the towns where they resided. I was entirely satisfied that this gentleman was of too high a character to attempt to learn anything of my private history and reveal it to this woman. Besides I found that gathering information about persons at a distance of a thousand miles is a very up-hill business. Nevertheless, to make assurance doubly sure I determined to take a gentleman with me, entirely unknown to any one in that region and to take him under an assumed name.

The gentleman I selected was Mr. George W. Clawson of Kansas City, Mo., who, like myself, is a member of the American Society for Psychical Research. I did not reveal to him where he was to go (with the exception that it was within one hundred miles of Cincinnati) until two days before starting.

 I then merely wrote him that we would go to Huntington, but gave no names. I did not tell him the lady’s name or town until we arrived in Huntington and had started for her village. Just before leaving Omaha I wired Professor Hyslop in New York when we were to meet in Huntington. I went by way of Kansas City where Mr. Clawson was. I asked him to choose a name to travel under, and he did so—the name was C. E. Wilson.

Mr. Clawson registered at the Florentine Hotel under the name of C. E. Wilson, and I introduced him to Mr. X. under that name. It was the first time that I had met Mr. X. and as he had only known me since April I was certain that even he was in the dark as to my history. I had carefully instructed Mr. Clawson in the method of asking questions so as to reveal no information between lines.

As he was an attorney he proved an apt pupil and I was soon certain I need have no fears on that score. I was present at all of the sittings and heard every word, so that any information the voices gave I knew must be obtained by some means outside of the ordinary channels.

Mr. Abbott then proceeds to give a long account of several sittings that he and his friend Mr. Clawson and later Dr. Hyslop had with this woman. He says, ‘We found the woman sitting by her window in a willow rocker with her crutches by her side.’ She hesitated at first to give Mr. Abbott and his friend sittings because of her feeble condition, having just recovered from a six weeks’ illness. The first three sittings were held in Mrs. Blake’s home and the last one was given across the river at the office of Mr. X. where we had taken Mrs. Blake to have a photograph taken. He says that in the sittings Mrs. Blake used a trumpet, one end of which he himself or Mr. Clawson would put to his ear, and the other end Mrs. Blake would hold sometimes in her hand, or sometimes to her own ear. These sittings were in the light. Sometimes the voices were so loud that they could be heard frequently at the distance of one hundred feet. The information received was most marvelous. We received in all nineteen correct names, while we received none that were wrong. There was evidence that satisfied Mr. Abbott and his friend Mr. Clawson that the intelligences talking did not receive the information through fraudulent means. Mr. Clawson’s correct name was given; Mr. David Abbott’s name was given, by what claimed to be spirit friends.

The following indicates the kind of conversation carried on:

I took the trumpet, but as the words sounded weak, I surrendered it to Mr. Clawson. Instantly the voice began loud and strong, so that I could easily distinguish the words where I sat.

Mr. Clawson said, ‘Who is this?’

The voice replied, ‘Grandma Daily.’

Mr. Clawson then said, ‘How do you do, grandma? I used to know you, didn’t I?’

The voice replied, ‘How do you do, George? I want to talk to Davie.’

I spoke from the outside of the trumpet and said, ‘I can hear you, grandma.’

I then said to Mr. Clawson, ‘Keep your position. I can hear from the outside.’ . . . After the voice of my grandmother gave a daughter’s name, it continued with these words: ‘Davie, I want you to be good and pray, and meet me over here. With the exception of the words, ‘over here,’ in place of the word ‘heaven,’ these were the identical words which my grandmother spoke to me the last time I ever heard her voice.

Mr. Clawson now continued, ‘Grandma, tell me the name of Davie’s mother.’

The voice replied ‘Sarah.’

He said, ‘Yes, but she has another name. What is it?’

The voice said, ‘How do you do?’

Mr. Clawson said, ‘ That is not what I mean.’

The voice then said, ‘Abbott.’

‘This is all right,’ continued Mr. Clawson, ‘but I call her by another name when I speak of her. What is it?’

The voice then plainly said, ‘Aunt Fannie.’ This was correct.

At this instant the loud voice of a man broke into the conversation. It was low in pitch, was a vocal tone, and had a weird effect.

The voice said, ‘How do you do?’

Mr. Clawson said, ‘How do you do, sir; who are you?’

The voice replied, ‘Grandpa Abbott,’ then repeated hurriedly a name that sounded like ‘David Abbott,’ and then the voice expired with a sound as of some choking or strangling and went off dimly and vanished. My grandfather’s name was ‘David Abbott.’

After this Mrs. Blake asked to rest a few moments and turned in her chair so as to use the other ear. While resting I decided to offer a suggestion to Mrs. Blake indirectly and to note the result. Turning to Mr. Clawson, I said, ‘It is strange that those we desire to talk to so strongly do not come. Now your daughter, whom you would rather talk to than anyone, seems to identify herself, but it seems strange to me that she did not give her name correctly.’ I did this intending to convey to Mrs. Blake the idea that the name which on the first evening was understood to be ‘Edna’ was not correct.

When Mr. Clawson next took the trumpet the voice of a girl spoke and said, ‘Daddie, I am here.’

He said, ‘Who are you?’

The voice replied, ‘Georgia,’ which was correct.

Mr. Clawson then said, ‘Georgia, is this you?’

‘Yes, daddie,’ she replied, ‘ don’t you think I know my own name? ‘

He then said, ‘I thought you did, Georgia, and could not understand why you would not tell me. Where do we live, Georgia?’

The voice replied, ‘In Kansas City,’ which was correct.

The voice then continued, ‘Daddie, I am so glad to talk to you, and so glad you came here to see me. I wish you could see my beautiful home. We have flowers and music every day.’

Mr. Clawson then said, ‘Georgia, tell me the name of the young man you were engaged to.’

The name pronounced was indistinct, so he asked the voice to spell it. The letters A-R-C were spelled out and then pronounced ‘Ark,’ which was correct. The gentleman’s first name was ‘Archimedes,’ and he was called ‘Ark.’ After this the voice spelled the complete name.

Mr. Clawson then said, ‘Georgia, where is Ark?’

The reply could not be understood. Mr. Clawson then asked, ‘Is he in Denver?’

A loud ‘No! No!’ almost vocal was heard, and then the words, ‘He is in New York.’

I was informed afterward that this was correct.

The voice then said, ‘Daddie, I want to tell you something. Ark is going to marry another girl.’

Mr. Clawson said, ‘You say he is going to be married?’

The voice said, ‘Yes, Daddie, but it’s all right. I do not care now. Besides, he does not love her as he did me.’

I will mention the fact that since our return from West Virginia, Mr. Clawson has received a letter from the gentleman in question, announcing his approaching marriage.

Mr. Clawson then asked the voice what grandmothers were there, and she replied that Grandmother Daily and Grandmother Abbott were with her.

He then said, ‘Are these all?’

The voice said, ‘Do you mean my own grandmother, my mother’s mother?’

Mr. Clawson replied, ‘Yes.’

The voice then said, ‘Grandma Marcus is here.’

This was correct. Mrs. Marquis had died shortly before this, and her grandchildren always pronounced her name as if it were spelled ‘Marcus.’

The reader will please to remember that Mr. Clawson’s name had so far been given to no one in that section of the country. That, as no one knew he was to be there, he could not have been looked up, and as he did not himself know where he was going, trickery could absolutely play no part in the names given him. I was present at all sittings, and there was no chance of any error. Yet these names came just as readily for him, and as correctly as they did for me whose name had previously been known to one resident of Huntington.

At this point the loud voice of a man spoke up and said, ‘I am here. I want to talk to Davie.’

I took the trumpet and the voice said, ‘Davie, do you know me?’

I said, ‘No, who are you?’

The voice replied, ‘Grandpa Daily.’

The voice then said, ‘Tell your mother I talked to you, and tell your father, too.’

Mr. Clawson took the trumpet quickly from me, and said, ‘Hello, Grandpa, I used to know you, didn’t I?’

The voice replied, ‘Of course you did.’

Mr. Clawson (whose name had so far never been given), said, ‘Tell me who I am?’

The voice replied out loud, distinct, and very quickly, ‘ I know you well ; you are George Clawson.’

Mr. Abbott had many more experiences of this kind. He winds up his description with the following comment:

Those who would give a theory that will explain these phenomena must advance one that will explain the facts. The theory that it is trickery may apply to some of the facts given to me, since one person in that country knew that a person of my name lived in Omaha, but it is very improbable that trickery was resorted to. This theory does not explain Mr. Clawson’s case.

People living a thousand miles from me could not know that I intended to take an unknown person with me; then they could not go and look up his name and history minutely. That it is guess-work on the part of the medium, or chance, is simply a silly statement. How many readers could have guessed that George’s second name was Clawson, how many could have guessed and given correctly nineteen names while giving none that were wrong? The information given by the voices was always correct.

Do I believe in what is known as Spiritualism and is exploited by the hundreds of spirit-mediums over the country? Emphatically no! I am too familiar with the methods of trickery with which they produce their illusions, for that I produce most of their feats for purposes of amusement myself.

Do I believe in Mrs. Blake? That is another question. The information which her voices furnished is entirely beyond the possibilities of any system of trickery. There can be no question as to this. That she possesses some power not possessed by ordinary mortals must be conceded.

Is it really spirits, or is it merely some freak power of the mind? Each must judge for himself. The lady solemnly assures me that it is the voices of our dead. I said, ‘Mrs. Blake, do you really believe it to be the dead talking?’ She replied, ‘I do not believe, I know. Belief is one thing, but knowledge is another.’

What is my opinion? It does not matter. It is not my place to express an opinion; it is only my place to relate the facts with sacred accuracy. Each reader must form his own opinion of the meaning of the facts. I most solemnly assure the reader that I have given them accurately. There is no need of explanation in this case, for the truth is sufficient without any additions or exaggerations.

It seems like a fairy story, yet it is a true story, I myself have seen these wonders.

I only know that far away, hundreds of miles over the hills on the banks of the Ohio River, there sits an elderly and frail woman in a chair, and kings could well afford to trade their power for hers.

Recommended reading:   “The Psychic Riddle” by Dr Isaac K. Funk

 

 

Albert Best

Albert Best, a medium who came from Northern Ireland, was born in Belfast on the 2nd December 1917.

On leaving school when he was 14, he started in a rope factory. About this time Albert was going on long walks in the countryside to be alone with the spirit voices and was being guided by them in their two-way conversations. They always brought him comfort and reassurance.

One of his sisters moved over to Scotland into the picturesque town of Irvine, so Albert decide he would like to go and see her and stayed for a quite a while.

On returning to Northern Ireland he attended a Belfast Spiritualist Church where he was told by the platform medium he had an energy around him in the form of lights which she saw and she told of his guide who was giving him guidance. He was invited to join their regular development circle in which a lot of sitters saw and confirmed the presence of the wonderful coloured lights around him.

One evening he had gone to the cinema and standing in the queue he saw a girl he liked and started chatting to her. They sat together. He found out she was a Catholic and him being a Protestant [at that time both religions did not get on in Northern Ireland and there were many fights, even killings on both sides], they did not care as they had fallen in love, so in a few weeks of meeting they went to St Anne’s Cathedral Church in Belfast to see the priest and just a few weeks after that Albert and Rose were married very quietly with only bystanders from the street as their witnesses, but no relatives.

When World War II started, Albert was 22 so he decided to join the Enniskillen Fusiliers.

Rose stayed in Northern Ireland with her family in the Belfast area of New Lodge.

Albert ended up in Algiers in 1940.

He was among the troops who had the task of clearing the Goubellet plain of gun emplacements just beyond no-man’s land and at the time the Germans were holding the ridge to the south of Tunis, the allies were on a ridge to the north. When Albert heard the name of Goubellet he remembered something his other grandma said to him the one and only time he ever met her when he was about 14. She had told him, “You will be a widower by the age of 24, I have not seen you all my life but I will be there with you in Goubellet.”

During the battle Albert was wounded the Germans left him for dead next to eight of his platoon who had perished, a voice came to him and said “get up”.

Later he was captured and ended up in a Prisoner-of-War camp. He would never speak about the terrible times he endured at the hands of his captors.

When he was in Africa, Rose was at home in Belfast with their three children.

When he was released Albert got sent home. Sadly he was told, on his arrival, that Rose, her family and his children had perished in a massive bombing raid on Belfast when 1000’s of innocent victims died. Albert grieved for his loved ones, Rose and the children, for the rest of his life but rarely speaking of it to others.

In 1943, Albert was medically discharged from the army when he was 25. He then went back to Ayrshire, Scotland in 1944.

On arrival in Irvine, Albert took on the job as the local postman and later became friendly with a Spiritualist family.

Albert was invited into a Circle for development with the Kilmarnock Church and he was remembered as being a shy lad, who never shared or spoke of his former life in Belfast.

He sat with this Circle for sometime into the mid 50’s before being introduced to Maurice Barbanell, the editor of Psychic News, who helped him to work further afield.

Albert Best was well known for his wonderful accurate mediumistic evidence during demonstrations. Having worked previously as a postman it seemed natural that the Spirit World would prove survival by giving details such as names and addresses along with other private details.

Albert left no doubt in the recipient minds, and proved time and time again a person’s spirit survives the death of the physical body.

He was an extremely hard working medium and admired and loved by many. Albert maintained he was no speaker and preferred someone more qualified to give the address during services, but still they loved to listen to his anecdotes about all the other wonderful mediums he had known. As well as demonstrating mediumship he gave spiritual healing to many during his life.

Albert’s work took him to many places, even Africa and India, where he gave healing whilst there. It is reported that he visited a Witch Doctor and during a ritual Albert’s wife Rose materialised before him and looked as alive as you or I, then dematerialised again. For Albert this was proof of the spirit existing beyond death of the physical body, this gave him great comfort throughout the rest of his life.

Note by Zerdini: “I witnessed many of Albert’s public demonstrations and also had private sittings with him. I was in South Africa attending a funeral in Johannesburg when I decided on a whim to fly down to Cape Town to visit some old friends. Walking along the beachfront at Muizenberg I bumped into none other than Albert Best!

‘What are you doing here?’ he said. We chatted and he told me he was due to give a demonstration of mediumship that evening and invited me along. It was up to his usual standard except that some of the Afrikaans-speaking members of the audience were baffled by his accent.”

Albert Best last visited the Belfast Spiritualist Church in the 1980’s and is still loved and remembered fondly. In 1994, the chairman of Psychic Press, Mr Roy Stemman, on stage of the Lewisham Theatre, London, made a presentation to Albert Best and named him the 1994 Spiritualist Of The Year. Albert often helped young mediums with their development and encouraged those, such as Gordon Smith and Colin Fry.

Albert Best embraced his materialised wife and three children

by a PN reporter in 1972

I heard last week the fascinating psychic story of a medium who has held his fully-materialised “dead” wife and children in his arms and shaken hands with his guides.

He is the well-known non-professional Glasgow medium, Albert Best who, for 28 of his 53 years, has served Spiritualism with dedicated devotion.

The result is a well-deserved splendid reputation for his versatile mediumship.

Ever since his London debut at Acacia House, Acton, in 1968, I have tried without success to interview him for a profile article.

I finally tied down this most diffident medium to a lunch-hour appointment during his visit last week to the College of Psychic Studies.

Albert became aware of his psychic gifts at the age of nine. Several times he “saw” an elderly man’s spirit form around the house.

He told his grandmother, who reared Albert, that this strange visitor scared him. Now he realised she, too, must have been clairvoyant and recognised the
entity.

During one “appearance” he heard her say: “Go away, father. You are frightening the boy.” So it was his great grandfather young Albert saw!

A psychic window-cleaner introduced the teenage potential medium to his local Spiritualist church.

He sat in a developing circle for five years, constantly fighting what was obviously impending trance. “It felt as though I had been chloroformed, but I always resisted losing consciousness.”

When he finally succumbed he was told his guide had spoken through him for over an hour.

Belfast-born, brought up a Protestant, Albert married a Roman Catholic local girl when he was19. Their three children included twins.

While he was serving abroad tragedy struck. His wife Rose and the children were killed in the second German air raid on Belfast.

Albert told me he went on a ‘mammoth bender” trying to forget his shattering bereavement. He could not face returning to his native Belfast.

As he had many friends there, Albert decided to settle in Glasgow. The double-Celt psychic, who reminds me of a benign gnome, has spent more time there than in his native Ireland. “I would not choose to live anywhere else,” he said.

In Ayr and Glasgow he experienced memorable physical phenomena at private home circles. The first was with Alec Martin of Ayr, who passed on several years ago.

Albert had the joy of holding in his arms the fully-materialised forms of Rose and his three children.

I thought it strange he has never contacted them through his own mediumship. “I don’t wish to,” said Albert.

His spirit guides have also materialised and shaken hands with him.

Albert showed me bullet scars in his neck and left arm resulting from an injury for which he has a small army disability pension. He also draws a Civil Service pension.

After watching Albert demonstrate first-class clairvoyance at Acacia House last Saturday, I deplore his reticence. He regards this gift as secondary to his healing for which he holds three weekly sessions in Glasgow.

One outstanding message was for Jim Webster of Goldsmith Avenue, Acton. It was the first time he had seen Albert. The medium asked if he knew a Wilson, giving a 72 Grange Road address.

Webster became emotional when Albert said this communicator always wore a flower in his buttonhole.

He told me later that his “dead” brother Wilson had lived at the address given and was never without a rose in his buttonhole.

Albert said correctly that the man sitting next to Webster was his son.

Geoffrey Webster, 27, told me it was his first visit to a Spiritualist meeting. He was deeply impressed by Albert’s clairvoyance.

The medium next got a connection with Holborn, and asked Webster if he was a boxer. “Who is Rafferty?” asked Albert. “Did he break your nose?  “Webster accepted this message as accurate.

He later showed me his broken nose, not immediately apparent, received in a boxing bout with Johnnie Rafferty at a Holhorn boxing match.

Quote by Albert: “I go through tortures before every demonstration. But once on the platform I become icy cool. I am not afraid of the ‘dead’ — only of Spiritualists!”

Albert Best was a postman and a world famous Spiritualist Medium. He was also the uncle of footballer George Best.

Albert Best was taken into hospital on the 2nd April 1996, soon after he slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness until the evening of Thursday 11th April when three mediums went to visit him one being Gordon Smith, the others being Ann Docherty and Jim McManus, both healers.

They all stood in silence looking at Albert.

Gordon became aware of a presence at the foot of the bed, he turned but no one was there physically but as they looked at Albert he began to stir. In that moment Albert opened his eyes turned his head to Jim and smiled, then he looked at Gordon and finally he looked up at Anne and tried to speak. No-one could make out what he had tried to say.

But again he repeated the statement and this time they heard him say “my wife is here and the children” his eyes turned to face the foot of the bed and his eyes opened wide, he smiled and lifted his head. His smile became bright; Gordon reports that in his mind’s eye he could visualize a young lady standing there, slim built with long auburn hair.

Albert was transfixed. Albert’s gaze went around all three of them, and then he spoke his last words. “They’ve come. You will have to let me go”. Anne replied, “We were never holding you Albert”.

He gave one last smile then lowered his head gently to the pillow and closed his eyes.

Albert remained in a coma until he passed to the Spirit World the following evening Friday 12 April 1996.

Further reading: Best of Both Worlds by Rosalind Cattanach