Over the years, I have read at least 500 books dealing with various aspects of life after death – books on mediumship, near-death experiences, reincarnation, apparitions, death-bed visions, and other paranormal phenomena suggesting that consciousness exists independent of the brain. In addition, I have read parts of another 500 or so books in this general subject area. When a friend recently asked me to name what I consider to be the top five of all those books I have read, I pondered only briefly before telling him that the two books by Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore – Glimpses of the Next State and The Voices – would definitely be among the top five, possibly even one and two on my list. Both books are filled with amazing phenomena strongly suggesting spirits and, concomitantly, life after death.
When he wrote a small book titled The Cosmos and the Creeds, Moore, a retired British navy officer who had command of six surveying vessels before his retirement, attacked the teachings of the churches and expressed doubt as to the reality of a future life. “At the time I thought that such immortality as man possessed lay in the influence his actions, words, or writings had upon those who were his contemporaries, or who came after him; but that he himself, as an individual conscious entity, disappeared forever, not to be recognized again,” he wrote eight years later in Glimpses of the Next State, published 100 years ago this year.
Soon after the first book was published, Moore began to have misgivings about his agnosticism, as he had not investigated sources of evidence outside the narrow confines of the churches. Once he began investigating mediums late 1904, his views changed. “To be brief, I found that the deeper I went into the study of spiritism the more apparent it became that, whether he wished it or not, man’s individuality was not extinguished at death,” Moore, who went by his middle name, explained. “I read books, visited clairvoyants, and attended séances for materialization. Through all I was constantly reminded of the existence of a near and dear relative, older than myself, who passed away thirty-seven years ago in the prime of her life. Her continued reappearances could only lead me to one conclusion: I was being guided to a reconsideration of the problem of immortality.”
Moore referred to the deceased relative as “Iola,” explaining that she herself adopted the spirit name to avoid any unpleasant complications among friends and relatives still living who were not educated in spiritism. He pointed out that his investigation into spiritism was not prompted by any desire for consolation as he had not lost anyone other than his father many years before and was certainly not grieving and wanting to believe. His desire was simply to get at the truth. Moore concluded that as a surveyor, interested in detail and exactness, he was as qualified as anyone to investigate the subject matter.
While clearly aware that there were many charlatans posing as mediums, Moore proceeded cautiously. He explored mediumship in England and made three trips to the United States to sit with various mediums there. He experienced both physical and mental mediumship. Sitting with Joseph B. Jonson of Toledo, Ohio, he witnessed many materializations, including his father and mother. “In these there was no possibility of error,” he wrote, mentioning that his father’s characteristic “iron duke” nose stood out and that he saw him in good light. At one séance, he observed as many as 25 spirit forms emerge from the materialization cabinet and was certain that there were no trap doors of any kind in which confederates in costumes could have been admitted. They came in all sizes and shapes.
At a Jonson séance on February 1, 1909, 19 spirits manifested, 10 of them for Moore, including his father, mother, and Iola. “During this séance, I saw several spirits dematerialize,” he recorded. “Some descended into the floor slowly and, so to speak naturally. It was possible to follow their heads with the eye until the shoulders were level with the carpet. Others doubled up before they dissipated, and a few fell over on one side.”
While Moore sat with dozens of gifted mediums, Etta Wriedt of Detroit, Michigan may have been the most gifted. “For my part I can only say that, in her presence, I obtained evidence of the next state of consciousness so clear and so pronounced that the slightest doubt was no longer possible,” he offered. “I left her house in February 1911 in the condition of mind of a man who no longer fosters ‘belief,’ but who knows what is his destiny when the tomb closes over him and his spirit leaves the earth plane.”
Author of The Afterlife Revealed &
The Articulate Dead
About the author
Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore (circa 1850 - 1918) was a retired British naval commander when he became a devoted psychical researcher in 1904. His books Glimpses of the Next State, published in 1911, and The Voices, published in 1913, detail his investigation of a number of mediums in both Great Britain and the United States.
Every attempt, such as the one I am making to bring home to mortals the knowledge of the proximity of their beloved dead must, owing to the very nature of the subject, be only partially successful. There are five difficulties with which I have to contend, (1) the reluctance of people to write at all: (2) their special reluctance to put on paper details which may sooner or later give pain or offence to living friends or relatives; (3) the national habit of reserve which causes many a man to become an oyster when he thinks he may be betrayed into revealing his innermost feelings – that which deeply stirs his heart; (4) the fear of ridicule, diminution of income, loss of position, or respect of his fellow men; (5) the apprehension of appearing more credulous than his associates (perhaps the most powerful motive for silence). Thus, after all, the man who aims at obtaining the true opinions of investigators into this sacred subject only receives the rind of the fruit; the fruit itself remains untouched.
To some extent I, the author- or, more properly, the editor- of this collection of narratives am “cribbed, cabined, and confined” by one or other of the above restrictions. Neither in Glimpses of the Next State, nor in this sequel, have I given the whole evidence for the faith that is in me. I have submitted all I can with propriety, but there is much behind that is suppressed which, if known, would be absolutely convincing to the few, but become the subject of ignorant buffoonery to the many, to the great majority who are tied and bound by sacerdotalism or materialism.
However the requests I have made to those who have had sittings with this highly- privileged woman, Mrs. Etta Wriedt, have been met with as willing a response as one can expect, considering the age in which we live; and the narratives which have been furnished me I earnestly hope may assist the weary and dispirited to take up their lives again and bravely face the future in the sure and certain hope that they will meet, at no great distance of time, with those they have lost awhile; or, at any rate, encourage them to seek assurance for themselves by personal investigation on the same lines.
That noble soul W.T. Stead, conceived a plan for giving comfort to the bereaved which was perfect of its kind; but the form that it took rendered it liable to extinction directly its founder passed to the higher life. But the spirit of “Julia’s Bureau” still lives. It is in the power of every man and woman in comfortable circumstances to carry out the idea in their own person. Let us each do what we, individually, can to assist, with our purse, those whom we know to be in trouble to find consolation by investigation through competent psychics. If we do this, have we not accomplished in detail, what Stead and his guide, Julia, did in wholesale fashion? In these days of general education it is futile to tell a man of any intelligence that he will meet his child again some millions of years hence on a day of Judgement, when he may again part with him. He wants to know if his child is alive now; if he is happy or likely to become so; if he will be restored to him; if he will again hold him in his arms, and be to him what he was before his transition to the Next State. Whether his child was good, or whether he was bad, the parent’s mind cannot grasp that he is eternally lost to him. His sense of justice revolts against the decree of the Church, and he will have none of it. It is to this man that spiritism appeals; and it is this man that all should desire to help.
And help is at hand. 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. Unlike the gifts of poesy, art, oratory, or song, it demands from her no effort; and, with proper precautions, it causes no strain upon her physical constitution. To exhibit it, all she has to do is to sit passively in a chair, preferably in pitch darkness. It is, indeed, difficult to know what her personality has to do with the phenomena, for she never goes into the trance condition, and talks naturally throughout. What we do know is that we cannot hear a whisper when she is out of the house, but that, if she is in the room, we can distinguish voices in full light or in darkness; if in the latter, they speak louder, longer, clearer, and, in every way, more satisfactorily than in light. When the room is made pitch dark we can not only hear the voices, but can see, as phantasms, those to whom they belong.
We are told by Dr. Sharp that the power to speak is obtained from the sitters, and that they succeed or fail according to what “they are able to give out”; that some people give out freely, others not at all, and that his medium is not “drawn upon” more than is absolutely necessary. He includes me in the first category, and, if I am to judge by my feelings after a good private séance, he is correct, for I am depleted, and cannot continue investigations without long periods of rest. That Mrs. Wriedt is not drained is proved to my satisfaction by the following incident:- In 1913, owing to her suddenly announcing her intention to leave Cambridge House twenty-four hours before the time agreed upon, I found myself obliged to put four more sitters than was customary into the last day of her visit. In the morning she gave four private sittings; in the afternoon four; and in the evening she held a general circle of twelve people. All these séances were successful. At 10 p.m. one of the party took her to Euston in his motor, and forty-five hours later she began a series of excellent séances in Glasgow.
Mrs. Wriedt is controlled by Dr. John Sharp, who was born in Glasgow in the eighteenth century, lived all his life in the United States as an apothecary farmer, and died in Evansville, Indiana. He states that he was taken over to America by his parents when he was two months old. I have never known him say an unkind word, nor express any feeling but benevolence and desire to assist all who seek the help of his medium. He frequently straightens out obscure messages, and invariably endeavours to manage the sittings to the best advantage of those present. Very often he talks what, in a mortal, I should call nonsense; but I think he is limited in expression – in some curious way – by the absence of any sort of culture in his medium.
John King (Sir Henry Morgan), the control of Cecil Husk, the blind medium, frequently managed Mrs. Wriedt’s séances in England. It was explained that he was better acquainted with English people than Dr. Sharp, who, however, was always in the background. He only put in a word or two at Rothesay.
Grayfeather, a North American Indian medicine chief when in life, the control of J. B. Jonson, the materialisation medium of Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A., visited me several times at Cambridge House, and often came to the circles; he seldom manifested when I was absent. He did not come to Rothesay at all.
Mimi and Blossom were casual visitors. The former we know nothing about. Blossom states that in life she belonged to the Seminole tribe of Indians, who lived in the Everglades, South Florida, and that she died as a child. It is as a noisy fractious, but extremely witty child that she now manifests. Her talk, engaging manner, and lively repartee always created a diversion, causing much laughter, which benefited conditions.
Now and then Dr. Sharp, John King, Grayfeather, and Blossom all manifested at the same circle.
When there was not sufficient power, or the proper sort of power, present for the more refined manifestation of the direct voice the controls resorted to the exhibition of the coarser physical phenomena of telekinesis, moving a table with a vase of flowers upon it, throwing trumpets about, and so forth. Occasionally these things occurred at the best of séances when the direct voices were also abundant.
There were many blank séances in both years, and also some very poor ones. This is only what reasonable investigators expect in the presence of all powerful mediums; it is as provoking to the psychic as to the sitters, and some people, of whom I am one, consider it evidence of the genuineness of the proceedings.
In 1913 a curious fact was observed. I spent thirteen or fourteen days at Cambridge House, and in the garden, from 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. On these days there were no blanks, and only two or three indifferent sittings. I am not conscious of my mind being occupied in the slightest degree with what was going on in the séance-room, nor have I any pretensions to the possession of psychic powers. But it has occurred to Miss Harper, the hostess, and to me, that it is possible that my absolute conviction, after over a hundred experiments, of the genuineness of Mrs. Wriedt’s extraordinary gift may have, in some occult manner, found its way into the séance-room and assisted the controls. I make no assertion, but throw this speculation out to my readers as one worth consideration.
That W.T. Stead was at the back of us, and gave us his assistance, I have no doubt whatever. In 1912 Mrs. Wriedt arrived on the evening of Mat 5, twenty days after his death. After her supper she proposed a séance. Stead manifested, and gave three admirable tests of his identity – two to Mr. Harper, and one to me; he also directly instructed us where his daughter was to sit on the following evening. The test he gave to me was unmistakable; he alluded to the conversation we had at bank buildings the last time I saw him. This conversation had lasted half an hour, and ranged over a variety of subjects; but the chief topic was the approaching visit of Mrs. Wriedt to his house. He desired that certain conditions should be observed, and it was to one of these that his spirit referred, with emphasis, on this evening. (See Light, May 18, 1912, page 239.)
The spirit called Iola in these pages is that of a lady who passed over forty years ago in the prime of her life. She was a near and dear relation of my own, and has proved herself to be so closely in touch with me that I am justified in calling her my “guide.”
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published January 2012
Size: 229 x 152 mm