Spiritualism was founded upon physical mediumship. In 1848 two young girls, who later became world famous physical mediums, established communication with the spirit of a murdered peddler. They were Margaret and Kate Fox, they did this by establishing a code via rappings, or what is technically called percussion.
The above event that took place at Hydesville in New York state, USA was a breakthrough. It established that not only does the human personality survive death, but under the right conditions it is possible to communicate. From that moment onwards there was an explosion of physical phenomena right across North America, finally reaching England in 1852.
For any kind of phenomena to be categorised as physical it must impinge upon one or more of the five physical senses, ie. you must be able to see it, hear it or feel it etc. and everyone present will witness the same event. Over the 150 plus years since Hydesville there has been a vast array of phenomena produced by the Spirit world, there now follows a list of some of them:
An apport is a physical object that has been dematerialised in one location, transported to another and re-materialised. The two pictures on the right are the front and back of an apport that was materialised at Stansted Hall in April 2002 through the mediumship of Minister Judith Seaman. It measures about 2½ inches square, and is made from card. It was a “present” for one of the Italian students from her sister in the Spirit world. In the previous week, under similar conditions a feather was apported. The unusual feature of the feather was it’s incredibly strong perfume.
I can personally attest to both of these apports as I was sat next to Judith when they were produced. Judith’s spirit control, Amy, called forward the recipient from the audience, extended Judith’s hand palm down, and as the recipient placed their hand beneath, it simply appeared there.
For the spirit world to be able to speak to us using their own voice they have to able to vibrate the physical atmosphere. As they do not have a physical body they have to find an artificial way to do this. One way is to create an artificial voice box out of ectoplasm (see picture right) this enables them to talk to us as they once did when they lived upon the earth.
Because the voice box can very often be small and very quiet, the assistance of a trumpet is often used to not only amplify the sound but also to direct to the person they wish to speak to. A seance trumpet is a cone of aluminium about 2 feet long (60cms) by making the voice box in the small end it will act as a simple megaphone and amplify the sounds.
Ectoplasm is a substance taken from the mediums body and according to Arthur Findlay, mixed with an etheric substance. This enables the spirit controls to affect physical matter. Depending upon the way it was developed it is very often light sensitive. For that reason many seances are held in either total darkness or a low red light.
Ectoplasm is extruded from the medium through any opening, very often through either the mouth, ears or nostrils. The picture (left) shows Jack Webber with ectoplasm streaming from his mouth. Also see picture above where it is coming out of one of his ears to produce a voice box for direct voice phenomena.
In 1990 I was present at a seance with Gordon Higginson at Stansted Hall when ectoplasm started to come from the solar plexus area as a thin cloud. It then condensed and formed into two arms complete with hands.
The picture on the right shows an ectoplasmic rod about to levitate a table.
Ectoplasmic phenomena is now very rare. One of the reasons for this is the very long time it takes to develop. It can also be quite hazardous for the medium. On several occasions the physical medium Helen Duncan had her seances raided by the police to try to prove fraud. When they tried to grab hold of the materialised forms the ectoplasm withdrew so rapidly back into her that it caused internal haemorrhaging. She died of heart failure ten days after her last seance was disrupted in this way.
Independent voice phenomena differs from direct voice in that it is not connected to the medium by way of an ectoplasmic rod, also a trumpet is not required. Voices are simply heard as if coming from midair and can be from any point in the room.
One of the most powerful voice mediums was Etta Wreight. She came from the USA to England in 1913 to demonstrate her mediumship. Records of these seances are contained in the book ‘The Voices’ by Vice-Admiral Usbourne Moore. At some of her seances she had up to three trumpets and independent voice operating simultaneously.
Levitation is the movement of objects without normal means of support. This can be done by either psycho-kinetic energy (telekinesis) or by the use of ectoplasm. The picture shows a table in midair during a seance.
Probably the most amazing example of levitation was through the mediumship of D.D. Hume. On over 100 occasions during the 1860’s and 1870’s he was levitated up to the ceiling and often around the room above the heads of the sitters. On one occasion he was levitated out the window of a third story room and in through the window of an adjacent room.
This is probably the most astonishing of all physical phenomena. Although having said that, most of the leading investigators have agreed that the best evidence of survival was obtained through voice phenomena, as they could hold lengthy conversations with the spirit people.
The picture on the left is of the materialised form of Katie King, the medium being Florence Cook. Sir William Crookes was not only allowed to photograph and examine her, he was even allowed to cut a lock of her hair. This lock of hair is currently owned by the SNU and is kept in their museum at Stansted Hall.
Percussion, or as it is commonly known as raps, is how it all started in 1848. Raps or knockings can be clearly heard from any point in the room. Crawford who investigated Kathleen Golliger, stated that raps would vary in intensity and volume from very quiet taps right up to “sledge hammer like blows” that could be heard out in the street.
By establishing a code, for example one rap for “Yes” and two for “No” it is possible to ask questions. In a similar way I once had a conversation via a bedside lamp. It would flash once or twice in response to my questions. Progressing on from this simple code you can then try the full alphabet to get more detailed answers. You start reciting the alphabet, “A, B, C…” etc. and when you get to the letter they require they rap.
As you can imagine, this is very slow and laborious. Having communicated this way I can see why it was essential to progress onto more speedy ways of communication. But, it all had to start somewhere and this is the simplest and easiest to develop.
Two miniature blackboards that were used by school children were joined together by hinges. This enabled them to be closed like a book. A minute piece of chalk could then be placed in the cavity that is formed in the middle, it would then be bound and sealed. The medium would hold the sealed slates in his had, the lights turned out and after a few minutes back on. When the slates were unsealed and opened there would be writing on the boards in the hand of whoever was communicating. Some examples of these slates can be seen in the SNU museum at Stansted Hall.
David Duguid, a Scottish medium, had a remarkable gift for creating spirit paintings. He could hold a small card, sometimes only measuring 4″ x 3″ (100mm x 50mm), between his hands and in less than two minutes a small but very detailed picture would be produced.
You have to see these to truly understand how incredible they are. The SNU has several originals in their museum at Stansted Hall.
A transfiguration medium has a ‘mask’ of ectoplasm formed over or just in front of their face. This then moulds in to the face of a spirit person that should be recognised by someone present.
As you can see from the above list, which is by no means complete, those from the world of Spirit who wish to help us will use any means possible to get through to us a very simple message: “There is no death”.