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Ferry Over Jordan by Margery Lawrence 1944

 

IV.  ON MEDIUMS AND MEDIUMSHIP

In the opening chapter of this book I listed a series of comments - points, questions, objections, whatever you like to call them - that are most frequently raised by people who are curious about Spiritualism. And since four of the most important questions concerned mediums and mediumship, I said I would deal with these in a subsequent chapter specially devoted to this subject, in which I would endeavour to answer and explain them, fully.

It will be remembered that the four questions ran as follows: “ Why can't I be my own medium?”

 

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“ I distrust paid mediums.”

“ I should never feel I was safe, there are so many fakes.” “ I could never believe in anything held in the dark.”

It is true, of course, that many people are apt to boggle over the fact that (at present at any rate) the best, indeed the only, instrument that “ connects up” the two worlds, this one and that mysterious Other in which we are all more or less interested, is a human being like ourselves. They feel either vaguely distrustful, or disappointed, or nauseated, or nervous, or even positively offended at the idea - and as I hope in the course of this chapter to be able to clear away at least a few of these unreasoning prejudices, I think perhaps I cannot do better than try and explain, at the outset, just what mediumship is.

Mediumship is a remarkable and interesting power. A power more common, at least in its minor degrees, than most people imagine - actually there are few of us who do not possess some traces of that sixth sense, or “ awareness” , that is a rudimentary form of mediumship, and our ancestors owned it in a much more highly-developed degree. This power can be strengthened and developed by training - but the most careful and thorough training will never make a great medium, any more than constant piano-practice will make a mediocre player into a great one.

Great mediums, like great painters, players, writers, are born superlatively gifted; they possess that strange power that can see through the veil that for most of us still hides the Other Side and those who are living there, and can tell us what they see with an accuracy that varies according to the strength of their gift. Mediumship is a gift no more truly “ supernatural” than the gifts of music or writing or painting; but because it obeys laws that are as yet largely unknown to us in the Western world, at least, it has been, and still is, greatly misunderstood, feared or derided, and many people even flatly refuse to believe it exists at all! It is a delicate, intangible type of gift and needs careful handling, training and understanding. But the people who possess it are of immense value to the community, since they possess not only the vision that sees through the veil and the power to re-link those temporarily parted by death, but often also the power to foretell events, to forestall wrong-doing, to track down criminals (*), to heal disease and to teach great truths; all these things and many others they can do if they are handled rightly, and above all, if they themselves appreciate the value of


 

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their gifts and try to use them as they should be used, for the help and comfort of their fellow-men, not for their own enrichment or aggrandizement.

An interesting instance of this was the Dobkin case (November 1942) where Harry Dobkin was convicted of murdering his wife, Rachael. Her sister, Polly Dubinski, growing suspicious of her sister's long absence, visited a medium, who told her that her sister was dead and described the manner of death. Polly Dubinski informed the police, who visited the medium. She confirmed what she had told Polly Dubinski, and ultimately her account of Mrs. Dobkin's murder was proved correct, and Harry Dobkin was convicted.

See also the remarkable experiment of Dr. Osty with Madame Morel, in which she described the

exact position of the dead body of an old man. (Supernormal Faculties in Man, by Dr. Eugene Osty.)

Also see “ The Burglar's Glove Case”, reported by E. B. Gibbes (Light, May 1931), and A.S.P.R.

Journal, November 1936, on “ The Mediumship of Geraldine Cummins”, etc.

In the ancient days of Sumer and Babylon, Greece and Egypt, mediums were valued as they deserved. They were supported by the temples where they gave forth their oracles (in other words, held their sittings) so that they had no material worries to hinder them, and could give themselves wholeheartedly to the study, training, practice, and the rest and contemplation that is so necessary for work of this kind.

Mediums are of various kinds, and while many men make first-class mediums, I am inclined personally to think that women make the best. It was so in the old days. The “ priestesses” gave out the words of the “ gods” (in other words, they were the mediums and the “ gods” their Guides), and the priests received the holy words and handed them on to their congregations - often, alas, coloured to suit their own policy or prejudice, which is, of course, the reason why ultimately the psychic link between the Temples and the Powers that at first guided them was snapped, and the ancient truths were swamped and forgotten as greed and materialism took the place of purity and idealism.

This mysterious gift of mediumship is not the exclusive right of any social group or class. I have known three very fine mediums who belong to the (so-called!) leisured classes. But these rarely become professionals, and the vast majority of professional mediums come from the middle and working classes, and these have to work for a fee as they cannot, as better-off people might afford to do, spare the time or money to keep their gift as a “ sideline” .

There is also another reason why comparatively humbly-born people are used so often as “ mouthpieces” . They are (generally speaking) more humble-minded and readier to give themselves to the service of their


 

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fellow-men, without trying to probe and wonder and analyse and doubt - a process that often hinders development very seriously. A person whose brain has been sharpened and made critical, suspicious, analytical by education, by talk, by travel, by much reading and so on, is less ready to trust himself to the guiding forces that want to “ use” him. Much worldly knowledge occasionally deprives man of true wisdom; and I know two highly-educated people who have the real gift of mediumship but who so hamper it by questioning, probing - wondering as to how much was imagination, how much self-hypnotism, how much telepathy, a dozen other things - that finally neither of them use their gift at all. In other words, their brains hang like a millstone round the neck of their spirits! I believe it was by no chance that the Nazarene chose for his immediate followers, not men from courts and palaces, but men from the humbler walks of life.

Mediums' methods vary considerably, and though there are certain basic rules that must be observed, within these rules each practitioner works in his or her own way. (This is one of the reasons why I always advise students to work with two or three different mediums, not only with one, so as to compare their varied methods and to gain extended experience, as well as added learning, by contacting different teachers.)

Some concentrate by the laying out of cards, some by the crystal - some will not allow a fur or fur rug in the room; some dislike strong smells or colours (I have known a woman reeking with scent to be politely requested to wash it off!), and I know one medium who always begs her sitters to avoid wearing bright red. Some will not allow smoking in the séance room, others do not mind it. Some burn incense, others not. Some go into deep trance, some into semi-trance, and some “ see” while they are as normal as you or I. Some need a dimly-lighted room, some sit in ordinary light, some need music to “ send them off” , some complete silence, some wear semi-monastic robes, others plain office suits.

So it will be seen that the wise sitter will let the medium work according to her own rules (which in any case are usually dictated by her Guide) and will not argue that because Mrs. B's sittings are run in one fashion, Mr. D's should be run in exactly the same manner!

“ Trance” is a word that I find bothers some people - they feel either nervous or distrustful of it, and yet it is quite a natural condition, when it is once understood. It is a form of temporary sleep - more or less profound, according to the medium's method of working - in which the


 

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medium's own personality and consciousness are submerged (“ withdrawn” or “ overshadowed” are the words the Guides seem to prefer) while her Guide or Control takes temporary command of her physical body and voice, which he uses to give his messages, demonstrations, healing, teaching, and so on. There is no hypnotism of any kind involved, and it does not harm the medium in the least unless she overworks by giving too many sittings a day, which few mediums are foolish enough to do; or unless she is suddenly awakened out of trance by some accident, or some misguided fool tries, by “ startling” her, to prove whether she is a fraud or not!

She is completely at rest during the sitting, unconscious of what her physical body and voice are doing-indeed, she often visits the Other Side while she is “ asleep” and brings back reports of what she has done and seen there while her Guide uses her physical body for his work.

And this brings me to an important warning. While I advise all students to observe the medium carefully, to use their own judgement as to her worth, and to voice their approval - or disapproval! - at the end of the sitting, I do beg of them not to take upon themselves, at any time during the sitting, no matter how suspicious, emotional or excited they may get, the great risk of breaking any of the rules laid down at the beginning of the sitting.

To try and awaken a medium in deep trance - to flash a light on in a darkened séance room - to make a loud clatter, or to jump up and “ break” a circle, is not only stupid, but may be positively criminal! All of these things have been done from time to time by foolish people who either thought they were doing good service in detecting fraud, or grew frightened or impatient or angry - and it cannot be too strongly emphasized that this kind of thing is not only wrong, but actually dangerous. To bring a medium suddenly round from deep trance has been known to kill her - and is bound to bring about a semi-collapse of some kind. To turn a bright light on during (for instance) a sitting for the production of the psychic phenomenon known as materialization means that the “ ectoplasm (the substance used to build up these materializations) recoils within the medium suddenly instead of being gradually absorbed, as would normally happen. Again, this can cause death, and is invariably a great shock to the system. In one case where I was present (this happened in a séance in Italy) a sceptical journalist deliberately took a seat next to the electric - light switch - and in the middle of the sitting turned it full on! The medium fainted - and within


 

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two days died of heart-failure, never having recovered consciousness. She was a strong and healthy peasant-woman whose heart was perfectly sound before. There was a considerable scandal about this, and the papers were not allowed to publish the story, but it happened as I say.

In another case, a well-known medium was giving a public demonstration in a large hall in London, and had just gone into deep trance, when some lunatic jumped upon the platform and began shrieking out that she was “ possessed of a devil” and “ the people were being deceived”, and a whole lot more hysterical nonsense of the same sort, with the result that, though he was seized at once and taken out, the scuffle and excitement “ broke” the medium's trance, she was carried out in a state of collapse and it was months before she was well enough to resume her work.

So no matter how suspicious you may be, remember that you are playing with forces you do not understand - so at least obey the rules that are given you, and do not risk anything by trying to break them, under the impression that you are being cleverer than other people. We do not yet know very much about the laws and conditions that govern this mysterious and wonderful gift called mediumship. But we are learning fast - and teaching others as we go. And the rules that sitters are asked to observe are not mere casual rules laid down with a view towards bamboozling them and trying to prevent them finding things out for themselves! They are rules laid down by practical people, learnt from practical experience, and as such should be followed, until we learn so much more that they may perhaps be superseded by other, different rules.

The sneering “ smart-aleck” is the sitter most likely to do something silly, thinking to “ catch the medium out” - and to him I would say: “ Observe, deduct, criticize, disbelieve if you like, but while you are sitting, observe the rules that have been laid down by people who have spent their entire lives studying and trying to learn about this thing. At least, they know more about it than you do!”

And now let us turn to our questions.

I sympathize a good deal with those who jib at the idea of talking to their loved ones through mediums. Since their love is so strong, they argue, why cannot they contact their own folk direct? The idea of having to talk through another human being, a stranger, and quite possibly a not­


 

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especially-attractive stranger, both worries and offends them, and they do not see its necessity.

Now I hope I shall not seem unsympathetic when I point out that because one does not like a certain law, it makes no difference to the fact that that law exists and operates. And it is a fact that, generally speaking at least, if you want to speak to or hear news from a friend on the Other Side, you must do this through a human medium. There are, I know, occasional exceptions, when two very highly-developed souls are so closely in tune with each other that without training and without the need of a medium, they manage to make contact with each other across the “ Great Divide”; and in this case they are greatly to be envied. (*) However, I repeat that cases like these are rare. Here I will try and describe in brief detail some of the most usual methods used in the development of personal mediumship.

(*) For two most interesting and touching accounts of this, read ‘The Hour of the Angel’, by Jane Oliver, and the ‘Psychic Bridge’, by Sherwood.

There are many different methods by which one can try to establish personal contact with the Other Side and those that live there, and the most popular are perhaps the well-known “ table-rapping” , which is the spelling-out of messages by the tilting of a table, or the use of an overturned tumbler, that, when the sitters' fingers are placed upon it, travels to the various letters of the alphabet, placed semicircle-wise on a polished table, so that when taken down the letters spell out a message. But this, like table-rapping, is a laborious business, and at best rather an amateur method of communicating, though I admit some people have had remarkable messages by using either of these methods. “ Planchette” is another method that is particularly popular in America, where it is called the “ ouija-board”. This is a small palette-shaped piece of thin polished wood running on two tiny wheels, with an upright pencil thrust through a hole at the farther end. This, when placed upon a large sheet of paper, with the fingers of the sitters resting upon it (not more than two or three, and I have known some surprising results with only one) begins to move over the paper, and messages often result; messages sometimes coherent, sometimes nonsense, sometimes surprisingly lucid, and sometimes mere meaningless squiggles!

Some people obtain considerable success with what is called “ automatic” writing.(*) In this method a pencil is held loosely in the sitter's hand while the hand rests upon a sheet of paper, and after a while (if the sitter is lucky) the hand begins to write of its own accord.


 

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Here again, the results vary. Some people have great success, some mere nonsense, and with some the pencil refuses to write anything at all! Generally speaking, this method is tried out in solitude; but I am told by one friend who has had considerable success with this method that she finds she “ writes” best while discussing something quite alien with her husband or a friend, or reading a book, or listening to the wireless, and this method certainly proves the results more or less independent of her own conscious mind, as that mind is operating actively in another direction, so cannot be concentrating upon her hand. And I have certainly seen her hand writing busily while she was conducting a vigorous argument with me about something entirely alien to the material the hand was producing!

(*) I understand that the dramatic messages obtained by Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding from his “ dead” soldier-friends were obtained in this way.

For instance, we were conducting an argument on the respective merits of Malcolm Sargent, Stokowski, and Sydney Beer as conductors - an argument conducted with vigour and fervour on both sides, since we are both keen musicians. On reading the material jotted down by her hand during this argument, we found it to be a rather sentimental sort of essay on Renaissance love-poetry scattered with apt quotations from poets of the period (a subject on which she is no authority). It is, to say the least, difficult to imagine that one mind could have been operating along two such sharply-differentiated lines at one and the same time!

I don't suppose this method would appeal to the many people who prefer solitary concentration. But I think it is right to point out that this very quiet concentration, this intense “ dwelling” upon one's hand and whether anything is going to happen “ through” it, may well lead to a subconscious impulsion of the pencil that while apparently coming from outside, is actually coming from “ inside” the sitter.

The same thing applies, to my mind, to the crystal, the mirror, the black-glass-plaque, the bowl of water; all useful for concentrating one's powers, but again, all liable to reflect what the subconscious mind of the sitter wants to see - if he or she wants it hard enough. And that is why, to any readers who itch to experiment by themselves, I offer a word of warning.

To try and develop one's own mediumistic faculties is fascinating - and sometimes worth while. But my advice would be: “ Don't try (in the beginning at least) too hard, and too often.


 

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And never try at all unless your desire for this knowledge springs from high and unselfish motives.”

It is advisable to sit for at least five minutes before you start your practice and try to “ tune in” to high and pure vibrations by dwelling upon whatever spiritual, mystic or religious ideals you may possess, and while you do this send up a mental S 0 S for help and protection in your quest. But if you have no spiritual belief or ideals of any kind, then I would advise you to leave the study and practice of personal mediumship (as, indeed, of all other occult study) alone. You will be investigating out of curiosity, or desire for gain, or merely for “ fun” or a cheap thrill, or to gain prestige by the display of powers beyond those of your neighbours, and if you try to make contact with the Other Side out of any of these impulses you will be asking for serious trouble.

For the rest, you will stand a far greater chance of success if you relax during your practice, whatever it is, and let things “ pour” into you, rather than sit tensed-up willing things to happen.

Take the greatest care to analyse all material received, leaving the largest possible margin for the influence of your own secret wishes and impulses-and of all things, remember that you cannot hurry this study. Like all similar studies, it demands the greatest possible patience before one can hope for any sort of real success. You may never succeed in “ developing” at all - personal mediumship is by no means a common gift - and if you do possess it it may take years of patient, diligent and often disheartening work before you can say with confidence that you feel you have made permanent contact with the Other Side. But if at long last this happens, then you are certainly to be congratulated, and you will have deserved your success, if only for the long and patient practice necessary before you can gain it.

But I am dealing with the average everyday man or woman, not with exceptionally gifted or fortunate people, and for everyday folk the medium is still the only method available. You would not refuse to speak on the, telephone to your sister who was living in Australia, would you? So why object to speaking to her through a human being – who is simply another sort of telephone? “ That is quite different” many will say; but it is only personal dislike and prejudice that makes it different! The human medium is the finest, indeed the only, telephone available at present.


 

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I say “ at present” , advisedly, since no man can say what may be discovered in the future, and already I know of various experiments being made, both here and on the Other Side, to try and produce some sort of mechanical instrument that will replace the human medium in establishing communication between the worlds. But up to date nothing fine or sensitive enough has been invented - and once the initial doubt or dislike of the idea of using a human intermediary has been overcome, it need not worry one at all.

Question 2. “ I distrust paid mediums - they ought to work for nothing.”

Ethically, so indeed they ought, and there are mediums who possess money of their own and do work for nothing, simply in order to help their fellow-men. But as I have explained, many of these gifted people belong to the working classes, and must ask a fee in order to live. Mediumship is no part-time job - and surely the labourer is worthy of his hire?

The idea prevails amongst many people that mediums, especially those whose names are household words, make a great deal of money. But generally speaking this is an entirely erroneous impression. Sometimes many thousands are made by their gifts, it is true; but the money goes towards the Spiritualist Centre for which they work, and is used for forwarding and extending the work of Spiritualism, in publishing books and pamphlets, magazines and brochures on the subject, paying the expenses of travel and advertisement, and the fees of meeting halls or houses where sittings, demonstrations, lectures, healing, development classes, and so on can be given, and mediums gain help in training and experience. And often much goes to charity, the medium only retaining just enough to enable her to live in modest comfort. Obviously, there are some who, alas, fail to live up to the high traditions of their calling and fall to the temptation of enriching themselves, allowing their gifts to be exploited by unscrupulous “ managers”, sensation-greedy sitters or their own vanity-ridden ambitions - but these are few in comparison with the vast number of honest and conscientious workers. Personally, in twenty years study of Spiritualism, I have never known any front­rank medium who was personally wealthy. They are, indeed, forbidden by their Guides to enrich themselves. And in honour to a much-abused profession it must be recorded that the vast majority of mediums obey this law to the letter.

“ There are so many fakes.” Certainly there are! But you can find fakes and charlatans and unscrupulous people in every walk of life - they exist


 

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among doctors, bankers, brokers, trades-men, all the rest! But you would scarcely ban all doctors because one was caught faking, or refuse to buy any groceries at all because one grocer was jailed for putting sand in his sugar? Sincere Spiritualists are the first to denounce any medium suspected of faking, and if you consult people well versed in the Movement you will rarely be sent to an unreliable practitioner. But with all the care in the world, it is obviously not possible to give a cast-iron guarantee with every medium recommended. Herein the student must use his own judgement, draw his own conclusions; nothing is ever learnt by leaning too much on others.

Here, though, I would like to dwell for a moment on the unfortunate fact that sometimes - though in my experience very rarely - a medium hitherto regarded as absolutely impeccable in her honesty, does make a slip that seriously damages public faith in her and in her gift. I have no intention of defending any medium caught faking, even in the smallest, most trivial degree - and truly they pay heavily enough for any such momentary weakness by the loss of public confidence in them, and the knowledge that however reliable the rest of their life's work, they have, by making one slip, stamped themselves for good and all as “ doubtful” .

But I would like to point out that many of them are people in very humble circumstances, very poor, and often with dependants relying upon them, and by the very nature of their gifts are more or less easily influenced by others, their sensitive temperament, so necessary to mediumship, making them especially vulnerable in many ways. So on rare occasions it may happen that they allow themselves to be persuaded into “ faking (as in the case of my little medium, Willie Luttrell, in The Bridge of Wonder), in case their own gift fails them and the sitting proves a disappointment; for these Powers that work through them are by no means always to be relied on! Ill health, worry, even weather-conditions sometimes affect the vibrations, and a sitting which is a complete success one week may, when reproduced the following week, provide nothing of any interest at all, or even prove a flat failure. . . . One cannot turn on psychic forces as one turns a tap! There are many sad and discouraging stories of famous mediums whose wonderful records have been darkened by one piece of folly of this kind. Eusapia Paladin's reputation suffered thus, as well as various others, and even the great Blavatsky's record does not seem to have been entirely free from suspicion. According to one account at least, she freely admits that she got so sick of being treated as a “ peepshow” that she deliberately


 

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“ fooled”, on one or two occasions. But the point I would like to make here is that it is not fair, even when in a weak moment a great medium thus forgets herself, to dismiss instantly and completely all the years of patient and well-proved work she has put in before her lapse from probity.

I agree that one can never, after such a lapse, feel with her quite the same sense of security. That is the punishment (and it is a very bitter one, though deserved) that a defaulting medium must suffer all her life. But to conclude that because of one weak moment the rest of that medium's recorded work should be dismissed as worthless, is frankly stupid, and is not an attitude of mind that should be adopted by serious students.

Fourth objection - “ I could never believe in anything held in the dark.” But actually there are very few sittings held in the dark! And these are so held only in order to produce some definite phenomena such as materialization - which is done by the production of ectoplasm, a delicate but still physically-produced material which cannot develop in the strong vibrations of ordinary light.

You cannot develop a photograph except in a dull red light the vibrations of normal light are too strong. And for precisely the same reason the ectoplasm, which is the main factor in these strange and interesting psychic phenomena, cannot develop in too strong a light. It needs a very dim light, and sometimes total darkness, before it can begin to “ emerge” - though I must say that there are occasional remarkable exceptions even to this rule.

I have seen some amazing psychic manifestations in almost normal light produced by a highly-gifted medium sitting with a group with whom she was in unusually good rapport. But the rule I have just quoted holds good in the vast majority of séances held for the production of psychic phenomena.

Many people are puzzled about the nature of the material called ectoplasm; but though I understand that a few small pieces of it have been both preserved and analysed, and found to consist of the same chemicals that go to make the human body, little is definitely known about it as yet. (For anyone who wants to read more about this very interesting but baffling material, I advise them to try and get hold of a copy of Baron Schrenk-Notzing's exhaustive book on the subject entitled ‘The Phenomena of Materialization’, which embodies the result of years


 

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of detailed study. There is also a full and interesting account of ectoplasm in Dr. Nandor Fodor's Encyclopedia of Psychic Science.)

For myself, I know that it is drawn partly from the medium, but also partly from the sitters, as I have taken part in two or three test-sittings, where medium and sitters each had their chairs placed on a weighing­machine and their respective weights taken before, during and after the sitting; and in each case, during the time the ectoplasm was exuded and being used by the operating spirits for formation into forms and faces and so on, the medium lost from seven to eight pounds, and the sitters from one pound to three pounds each in weight - which weight returned after the sitting was over. Therefore, however intangible ectoplasm may be in appearance, it is plainly partially physical, since it is drawn from the bodies of those taking part in a sitting. Ectoplasm is indeed, one of the things that really prove that the two worlds interpenetrate each other, because it partakes both of this world and of the other!

When it first appears it looks like a thin white mist, or like steam, arising from a boiling kettle, and in my experience most often begins to rise from around the medium's head - which may well be yet another explanation of the origin of the halo so often represented by old­fashioned artists about a saint's head. Though in my opinion this is most often a pictorialized attempt at representing the aura, which is always largest round the head, and in highly-developed and very saintly souls is unusually big and brilliant.

This mist slowly thickens and forms into faces, hands, flowers, all sorts of things, even, sometimes, into actual figures so solid and apparently “ real” that they can be touched and handled. I have held a materialized hand several times and it felt slightly warm and as though it was made of a lightly elastic sort of rubbery material; not quite as solid as human flesh, but most certainly sufficiently solid to hold firmly - though I got the vague impression that if I squeezed hard I might “ dent” it! These materialized figures are, of course, simply temporary “ shells” built up from this curious stuff for the communicating spirits to use for a short time, after which they dissolve, or rather “ dematerialize”, and the ectoplasm returns to the source from whence it was drawn. Figures in ectoplasm sometimes succeed in becoming so firm and solid that they can be touched and embraced, the hair, teeth, nails felt, as definitely as in actual life.

There is a most interesting section in Arthur Findlay's book, On the Edge of the Etheric, that explains in detail how the spirit scientists on


 

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the Other Side manipulate this ectoplasm during a sitting. I advise anybody fascinated by this particular subject to read this in conjunction with the other books that I have already recommended.

But the number of people who want to investigate the purely phenomenal side of Spiritualism is vastly outnumbered by the number who simply want to try and speak to their loved ones - and these ordinary sittings are as a rule given in normal light. So much for the statement too often heard about sittings held in the dark! I have been to literally hundreds of these sittings, with many different mediums, and rarely known them held in anything but a perfectly reasonable light.

Most people know roughly, at all events, what happens at a sitting on earth. But comparatively few know what happens on the Other Side, at the other end of the “ telephone” - when the telephone is fully established and working, I mean. According to accounts received from many people over there, the medium shows on the other side as a bright light - and so, naturally, all sorts and conditions of souls gravitate towards the light, as naturally as they would do on earth out of curiosity, interest, wonder, and so on.

I had an interesting description of mediumship as viewed from the Other Side not long ago, when I talked to a relation who died recently. I went to a sitting with his wife, hoping for news of him, but never expecting actually to hear his voice, as he had been a convinced agnostic on earth and a very obstinate, positive type of man; and as people of this type generally carry their profound convictions over to the Other Side and cling to them, very often for quite a long time, I thought it improbable even that he realized he was dead. (Many materialistic people, finding themselves hale and hearty and occupying a body still, do not! I have elaborated this point considerably in the chapter “ What it Feels Like to Die”).

But to our delight and surprise he came through not only clearly, but insistently, very shortly after the medium (1) went into trance, and talked to us for over half an hour! When I asked him to describe exactly what had taken place on his side, he declared that he “ saw a huge bright light, with a great tall fellow” (the medium's control, Silver Fox) “ talking inside it to somebody. Then suddenly he knew that his wife was somewhere on the farther side of that light and that Silver Fox was talking to her, and despite several people who tried to hold him back (2) he fairly plunged into the light, found himself hearing her voice clearly and in a moment was talking to her!


 

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Mrs. Sharplin, a highly-gifted medium, whose control, a wise and charming old Guide, is called Silver Fox.

This is because sometimes a too-impetuous spirit, in his ignorance of how to work the “ telephone”, may upset the medium quite badly by disturbing her vibrations. Communications and the conditions that govern it need learning on that side as well as ours!

He could see nothing whatever, he said; but he could hear our voices and feel our hands when we grasped the medium's hand, and he made us laugh by saying that he felt “ squeezed and queer, rather as though he was packed inside a box too tight for him” - which was understandable, of course, since though he did not know it, he had slipped into the tranced medium's body temporarily while he talked, and she was a little slim woman, while he had been, in life, a large burly man with tremendous shoulders! No wonder he felt “ squeezed” ! Altogether it was an extremely vivid and interesting description of what a sitting looks like on the Other Side.

The length of a medium's period of service varies very greatly. Many famous mediums develop early, almost in childhood, and are able to continue with their work for humanity to a ripe old age, while others find their powers slowly waning as they get on in life. The gift is apt to show itself very often about the period of puberty, and at the “ change of life” fades away; but there seems to be no fixed rule about that - at least, as far as we know at present.

Many things affect the gift of mediumship, and the Guides are very careful of their “ instrument's” bodily condition. The physical health and strength of the medium and the sort of life she leads naturally affect her powers very much. A life as free as possible from worry or anxiety, spent within hail at least of green things and clean country air, will add years on to a medium's life and extend and develop her powers, and abstention from tobacco, meat and alcohol is also a great help. These last bring coarse vibrations, and though the Guides are reasonable people and do not demand impossibilities, it is a fact that such abstention helps a medium to contact higher vibrations than otherwise - and most of the high-grade mediums I know do not touch them. A life of constant stress and strain, spent in crowded, smoky surroundings, makes mediumship much more difficult - and yet very many mediums, through force of circumstances, have to live and work under these conditions. The more credit should go, then, to the many gifted men and women who, despite their poor circumstances and constant pressure of worldly worries, often in the teeth of derision, opprobrium, and some


 

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times positive attack and accusation, manage to do so much splendid psychic work.

Some day, when the world has grown a little wiser, they will be appreciated as they deserve.

ON GUIDES