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Lift up your Hearts: The Teachings of Silver Birch   Lift up your Hearts: The Teachings of Silver Birch
edited by Tony Ortzen

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This carefully chosen selection of teachings comprises the guide’s wise words over a twenty-year period. Animals, a spirit view of death, mediumship and karma are just four of the many subjects explained. Features a verbatim account of when Doris Stokes and Doris Collins, two of Britain’s most famous mediums, were addressed by Silver Birch.

About the author


Veteran British lecturer, journalist, and author in the field of Spiritualism. He served as editor of the Psychic News and The Two Worlds for over three decades. Many in North America first heard of him through his book This is Spiritualism (1959), a survey of the phenomena and personalities associated with Spiritualism. Barbanell was noted for his vigorous journalism in support of Spiritualism, and he frequently lectured across both Europe and North America. Born in London, May 3, 1902, he was the son of a barber who also practiced dentistry. Young Barbanell’s first job involved sweeping up hair and acting as lather boy.

As a young man Barbanell was an atheist like his father. He became unpaid secretary of a social and literary club in London’s East End. One evening, there was a talk by a young man on the subject of Spiritualism. Although antagonistic to the subject, Barbanell said that this was a subject on which only those with personal experience could venture any worthwhile opinions. When challenged as to whether he was prepared to back this position by undertaking a six-month period of personal investigation of Spiritualism, he said yes. He joined a home circle with the medium Mrs. Blaustein, who was controlled by various entities who spoke through her while she was in a state of trance.

Barbanell was not very impressed by this phenomenon and at one sitting he “fell asleep.” When he awoke he learned to his surprise that he had been in a mediumistic trance himself and that an Indian spirit guide had spoken through him.
Barbanell subsequently formed his own home circle at which the Indian guide, “Silver Birch,” gave regular teachings through Barbanell’s mediumship. Later, the famous journalist and Spiritualist Hannen Swaffer became a member of this home circle and an enthusiastic proponent of the teachings of “Silver Birch.”

In 1932 Barbanell married Sylvia Abrahams, who had attended the home circle sittings with Mrs. Blaustein. The newspaper Psychic News was also founded in 1932, as a result of a message from “Red Cloud,” the spirit guide of the medium Estelle Roberts. Barbanell edited the newspaper for 14 years, resigning in 1946 when unable to agree with J. Arthur Findlay on terms for purchase of Psychic News. However, 16 years later, in June 1962, Barbanell was able to resume editorship of the newspaper, which by then was in some difficulty. His tireless and enthusiastic work restored the position of Psychic News as the preeminent British Spiritualist publication.

Meanwhile, Barbanell’s own role in the “Silver Birch” messages continued to be anonymous. Hannen Swaffer thought the teachings should reach a larger audience, but Barbanell believed that he would be open to criticism if he publicized his own mediumship in Psychic News. Eventually it was agreed that the “Silver Birch” teachings should be published, provided that Barbanell’s identity continued to be withheld. However, these communications attracted so much attention that after some time Barbanell was obliged to make it known that he was the medium.

During his active life as editor, lecturer, and author in the cause of Spiritualism, Barbanell was a friend of every major British medium. Less than a week after his death at age 79, on July 17, 1981, spirit messages from him were claimed through the mediumship of Gordon Higginson, a close friend.

In addition to Barbanell’s vast output for his two periodicals, he wrote books on psychical research and Spiritualism.

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Sample chapter

‘The Soul cannot Die’

REGULARLY points were put to Silver Birch submitted by readers of Two Worlds. “What,” one asked, “is meant by twin souls.” Without a pause, Silver Birch replied: “Twin souls are when the affinities, which are the two halves of the perfect whole, come together. There are affinities for every soul in the universe, but they do not often meet in the same incarnation.

“Where there are souls, complementary to one another, who have earned the right to meet the other half of its being in one incarnation, there you truly achieve heaven on earth. Twin souls are what the words entail, a likeness between two similars. They are at the same stage of growth and evolution and thus will go forward together. You have heard me say occasionally to people, ‘You are affinities’.” A circle member commented, “I presume twin souls could meet for a few years and one lose the other.” When unity is attained “Only physically,” said the guide, “but at least for the time they are together they are experiencing all the radiance that comes when unity is achieved on all planes of being.” The same member, thinking aloud, added, “If they have knowledge then the radiance would be even greater.” Another circle member added: “If there are twin souls who have reached the same stage of evolution, what is the purpose for some being apart in this present incarnation? One would have thought automatically they would have earned the right to be together.” “You mean they have come together and parted physically.

That can only be temporary. If they are affinities the whole urging of their souls will bring them together with the strongest pull that is possible. Just like the lodestar, the magnetic attraction will draw them together because, although two, spiritually they are one.” “It could be part of a twin soul’s development for them to be apart in one incarnation.” “These are minor difficulties that you raise. Whether they are apart and still a part of one another, the essential factor is that if they are two halves of the one soul, all other physical differences and happenings cannot affect the fundamental process that brings them together. Don’t confuse physical happenings with spiritual realities. What is of the spirit must endure.” “Why are some beings never incarnated into matter and others are?” “There is part of the hierarchy that has never incarnated into matter because it has a purpose to serve in helping the governance of the universe. There are celestial beings who have never taken earthly form. It is not necessary for them to endure earth expression to attain a growth essential for their larger life.

They are inherently part of the higher reaches of the spiritual realms. Some of these are what you call masters or the shining ones. There are these beings in existence.” “Have you any knowledge of plans in the Beyond for mechanical means to be used to have direct communication with the spirit world?” “I am aware of many plans that have been made to help the processes of communication. But I am not aware of any project that will involve dispensing with the human medium. There is no reason why you should not use electronic, radionic and other kinds of apparatus which register at higher, comparatively speaking, frequencies. These help to make communication not only easier but to be received in a form where it can be registered and recorded.

“But I know of no plan that can dispense with the human medium who is essential to communication between the two states of being. The essence must be that the soul is used because the spirit is the nexus between the two states of being.  The guide turned to an excellent medium who was present and asked, “Do you agree with that?” “I think that is a very good answer,” he replied. “I believe a medium will always be wanted and no substitution can be found.
And I have worked in the field of electronics.” Silver Birch added, “In the last analysis the primary factor that makes communication possible is love, which is a quality of the spirit.” “And the Bible declares that spiritual things must be spiritually discerned,” said a circle member.

“There must be a medium,” stressed the guide. “The power needed for communication is not physical. It comes from the soul, the spirit or even from the etheric body. It must have that essential quality before that which is spiritual can be transmuted into the material.” This led another member to refer to a person with the gift of mediumship who declined to use it. “Is this a black mark against her?” he asked.

“I will answer the question in my own way and say that every individual who possesses divine gifts and does not exercise them is personally responsible for what he or she does. It is not for nothing that the Great Spirit endows individuals with the gifts of the spirit, but the responsibility is part of their free will. This is not a question of black marks but cause and effect.” The same member, who is a healer, said it had been suggested to him at a séance he had failed because he had not developed physical mediumship.

“These are words you use,” said the guide.

“Healing is just as much a part of physical mediumship as are the other phenomena that are called physical. Does not healing produce physical results? Has not the spirit power which comes through healers to be transmuted into physical results? Otherwise how could it achieve its benefits?” “Your advice is that ‘I should discount the criticism,” said the member.

“Everything purporting to come from the realm of spirit does not do so. We are blamed for much which is not our fault. Spirit communicators being fallible can’ be wrong. You have heard me say many times I do not claim infallibility.

Anything which comes to you through any medium must pass the bar of your reason. It is reason we have enthroned as the judge. The Great Spirit gave you reason to use. Honestly used, together with your conscience, it will show you the path to tread.” “You have said that the advancement of a soul is through suffering and battling through life. If there is no end to our progress, can we ever expect peace and tranquility?” The guide asked, “Does the questioner mean in earthly life?” Told this was not stated, Silver Birch said: “Alas for those who cannot distinguish between the material and the spiritual. You can struggle, have difficulties and battle, but you can still have tranquility and peace. You can face all the battles of your world and still have inner peace because you know they cannot touch you.

“Peace does not come from without but from within. If people in your world would only realise the armoury of the spirit with which they are equipped. They could use all this tremendous power within to help them learn to retire and cultivate the fruits of the spirit which bring tranquillity, poise, calmness and peace.

“Of the great souls who live in your world, and achieve most for it with their reforms and pioneering, many have inner peace though the battle be strong and the opposition difficult. Do not equate physical happenings with spiritual principles. Spirit is master and matter is servant. Let the spirit show its mastery.” “Is it the medium’s responsibility or the guide’s to see that mediums and healers are not overworked? How may a balance be achieved?” “It is the instrument’s responsibility. The instrument always has free will. We are not dictators. We do not work with marionettes.

We co-operate. We do not command. We do not dictate. We will always do the best we can in the prevailing circumstances. If the instruments overwork that is their responsibility.

“Our impetus is never directed towards making the instruments do more than they should. We always advise not only the cultivation of the gifts of the spirit, but the necessity to husband and conserve these gifts because they are precious and must be respected. We teach the essential balance, of harmony between spirit, mind and body so that each can play its rightful part in your lives.” “Is it karma that thousands are killed in wars, accidents, by disease and starvation?

Can a soul die before its time? Are wars inevitable? If so, is this part of a nation’s karma?” “The questioner is wrong is saying it is the soul that dies. The soul cannot die. Karma is only a word that means the operation of natural law.’ Sowing and reaping are part of the law of cause and effect. No one can evade the operation of natural law.

“This is the means devised by the Great Spirit to ensure that ultimately divine justice must be forthcoming. If it were possible to abrogate this natural law and to interfere with the sequence of cause and effect, it would make a mockery of divine justice. The natural law ensures that each receives spiritually exactly that to which he is entitled, no more and no less. This law applies not only to individuals but to nations, which after all are assemblies of individuals.

“It is part of the law that the period of incarnation is determined by the soul. But it is possible, because of man’s free will and sometimes for other factors to arise that this determining period can be changed.

“As to whether wars are inevitable, this is a question that human beings in your world must resolve for themselves. They cannot have all the benefits of free will without some of the disadvantages. If beings in your world choose to exercise their free will and their choice is to wage war, that is the measure of their responsibility.” This led a member to comment: “You said a soul decides the period of its incarnation. Would this apply to all souls, such as undeveloped ones?

Would they have the judgment, knowledge and wisdom? Are all souls equal in these matters?”

Publisher: White Crow Books
Published July 2014
229 pages
ISBN 978-1-910121-22-1
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