Having sat with a number of mental mediums over the years I had often wondered what it would be like to experience a sitting with a physical medium. I was always reluctant because the idea of sitting in a darkened room observing phenomena didn’t strike me as evidence of survival whereas the plethora of information I been lucky enough to receive from a few sensitive people over the years has left me in no doubt that some part of us survives physical death.
Over the past few years I had read a number of articles about a physical medium named David Thompson and in 2007 I decided to see if I could arrange a sitting with him. After a little bit of research I realised this wasn’t going to be easy as David, although a Sussex boy had now relocated to Sydney, Australia.
A few months before I had met a couple named Roz & Dennis who edit “Zerdin”, a magazine devoted to physical mediumship. Dennis and Roz had sat with David for many years and shortly after I expressed interested interest in meeting David the opportunity presented itself.
David had been invited give a private sťance for some people in New York who arranged to fly him, his circle leader Chris, Chris’s wife Rosheen who is Davidís manager, and their baby girl Lily, to New York. While they were there they agreed to do another sťance for around 25 people and T and I were lucky enough to be invited.
We were staying in New York and on the day of the sťance and we took an early morning train at from Grand Central Station to Tarrie Town where we were picked up by Dennis, Rosalind and a gentleman named K. K lived locally and had helped organise a venue for the sťance.
At 5.00pm we drove to the venue. The other sitters began to arrive. They were a mixed bunch; there was H from New Jersey, R, a Spiritualist minister from Long Island, T, Another Spiritualist minister from Florida, and M and T, who travelled from Sedona, and others.
The venue was a room in a healing centre. There was nothing special about it. The room was about 30-15 ft with a small stage area at the end separated by a curtain. The floor was all on one level and there were no trap doors to basements or anything like that. The ceiling was about 10 ft high and there was one exit door at the front of the building.
We all got to work preparing the room. The windows had to be boarded up and sealed so no light could come in. The room was empty apart from some tables and chairs stacked up in the corner. Folding chairs were brought in and lined up in 4 rows of 6 facing the curtained area. K bought a chair, a heavy solid armchair with wooden arms and legs, and buckles screwed to the arms and legs for David to sit on. It was placed behind the curtained (the cabinet) area.
We all sat down and Chris the circle leader gave a short talk. He explained the protocol of the evening. He said that before entering the sťance room we would all be searched by hand and with metal detectors (the sort they use at airports) and no jewellery or any items would be allowed in the room. Shoes, jackets, coats, handbags etc also had to be removed and left outside.
For the sake of this article I ask the reader to suspend disbelief, keep an open mind, and understand that when I’m referring to ectoplasm, discarnate entities etc I’m accepting the theories of what ectoplasm and other phenomena is and I’m relaying the events as I experienced them.
Davidís gift is that he produces large amounts of ectoplasm while in deep trance. This means discarnate beings can use the ectoplasm to form a voice box, limbs, and body and manifest in his presence. The limitations of this are that it can only happen in complete darkness. History has shown us that there have been exceptions. The Scottish medium Daniel Dunglas Home was observed levitating on a number of occasions by witnesses in good light and physical phenomena (movement of furniture, trumpets flying round the room) did occur but not full physical manifestations.
Apparently ectoplasm to light is like boiling water to snow and if during a sťance light is bought into the room or even sharp movement that would upset the energy, the ectoplasm shoots into the body of the medium like stretched elastic band being released from its tension. The effect of this can be catastrophic. At best the ectoplasm shooting back into the body could bruise and damage the medium, at worst; it has been known on rare occasions to inflict fatal damage.
The problem with producing phenomena in darkness is it gives the sceptic a reason to accuse the medium of fraud and David says he insists on strict protocol to protect him from someone bringing a torch into the room and also in an attempt to demonstrate to the sitters that no fraud is involved.
At 7.30pm the searches began and we filed one by one into the sťance room. Once everyone was in the room the doors were locked from the inside. The chairs were arranged in a horseshoe facing the curtain area and the chair where David would sit. Because the floor was carpeted we had taped two pieces of plywood to the centre of the floor to create a hard surface so that any movement could be heard on the floor.
David arrived after most of us and as we entered the room he greeted us and told us where to sit. I was seated three seats in from the left hand side of the horseshoe. To my left was a lady called M and next to her sat Chris, the circle leader. He had the only equipment in the room, this being a pair of wire cutters, plastic fasteners, a CD recorder/player, a cardboard trumpet, a harmonica, and a cardboard square. The square and the trumpet/megaphone were covered in luminous tape.
I’ve often wondered why physical sťances still use “trumpets.” In the 1800’s the trumpets (which are really just simple cones) acted as a kind of megaphone for the spirits to amplify their voices; in the 21st century I would have thought something more up to date would be more appropriate, but then we humans love tradition and ritual.
David gave a pre sťance talk and explained to us about his journey so far, his frustrations, and his hopes. He seems like a straightforward guy and I had a good feeling about him.
Now it was time to secure him. He put on a cardigan with six buttons down the front over his tee shirt and fastened the buttons. He sat in the chair and two volunteers fastened the straps round his wrists and ankles. Then plastic straps, the sort police use as handcuffs were inserted through the buckles and round his wrists and ankles. More plastic straps were looped through the buttonholes of the cardigan so it could not be taken off easily without cutting the fasteners off. Once they were fastened another volunteer was invited to cut the fasteners short so they could not be used again. A volunteer, R, then put the cutters in his right hand front pocket. Once David was firmly secured, he was gagged tightly with a red handkerchief.
Then the curtain was closed, we were all seated and the lights went out.
It was completely black. I couldnít see anything. I couldnít see the person sitting next to me.
Chris informed us that he would turn the music on and asked that we sing along or hum in order to raise the energy in the room. We were also instructed to hold hands so every sitter was holding onto another sitter.
The music began (I donít remember what the tune was)
We sang for a few minutes, I felt good. The room felt good. Suddenly there was a whooshing sound; it sounded a bit like a loud intake of breath but that description doesnít really explain it nor can I compare it to any other sound I have heard before.
A few minutes later I heard footsteps walking in front of me - all of the sitters were seated and holding hands so the footsteps didn’t belong to any of us. They were firm solid heavy footsteps and the floor vibrated as they stomped around the room. Then a voice calling himself William introduced himself. William is Davidís Guide and he claims he died at the end of the 19th century. He had an old fashioned English clipped BBC kind of voice. He invited people to ask questions on spiritual or philosophical matters and he answered them all without hesitation. His voice came from the centre of the room, not from where David was seated.
“William” then approached M who was seated to my left and offered her some healing. She described two hands placed on her head Ė big hands. “Williams” voice had been in the centre of the room and was now to my left right in front of M. He then moved back to the centre of the room and answered more questions.
Then there was another whooshing sound and William was gone.
Chris asked us to sing again and the music started. A few minutes later I heard another whoosh. There was a stomping noise as someone stamped on the floor in front of me. Another voice came. It was the voice of an entity calling himself Timothy. Timothy introduced himself as a sort of master of ceremonies. He said it was his job to bring loved ones through and help them communicate with the sitters.
We had been told by Chris and David that communicating was difficult for many spirits and Timothy helped to do that. He sounded like a boy really; he was humorous in an old fashioned kind of way and he had a squeaky cockney accent.
As I mentioned earlier ectoplasm forms and the spirits manipulate it and use if to form a sort of voice box through which they speak. They say it is like speaking under water. They also say that often they havenít spoken for so long they have forgotten how they sound. I thought about that. If some one asked me to imitate a little boy I could do it. If someone asked me to imitate how I sounded as a child I wouldnít have a clue how I sounded.
We can never really know if the entities coming through are who they say they are. What we do know is that they do not appear to be from our physical world and their messages are often personal to the sitter and more importantly beneficial to the sitter and others.
Timothy introduced spirits to the sitters and where ever the sitter was seated that is where the voices went.
T had asked Chris during the pre-sťance talk whether entities ever communicated in a foreign language. Chris had said that it sometimes happens and that they had recently had words written in Swedish from a communicator.
During the sťance T got her answer. Timothy said there was a lady in the room who spoke a foreign language and would she make herself known. T was the only one to respond. Timothy asked her if her grandfather was in spirit. He explained that a spirit who was her grandfather was there but finding it difficult to communicate adding it was his first attempt in coming through. Timothy suggested T speak to him to give him encouragement She did this by greeting him. Timothy interjected telling her to speak in her native language. T did as instructed and asked a question in Russian, and right in front of where she was sitting I heard a reply in Russian. It was faint, and only a few words but I heard the voice speak Russian, and the voice answered her question. I was very happy for her and for the room. For me this was compelling evidence.
Timothy asked Chris to turn on the music and we sang. Then I saw the luminous trumpet and the cardboard square levitate and move to the middle of the room. Suddenly the square rose to around two feet off the ground and started moving round the room as if someone was carrying it. Timothy asked us to look at his fingers on the square and sure enough four child-like fingers wiggled in the glow of the luminous light. Timothy cracked jokes and kept the room laughing.
Then came the so-called trumpet phenomena that I have read so much about. Reading about it doesnít come close to experiencing it up close. The trumpet levitated to about four feet or head height of the sitters. Then it began to fly around the room at an incredible speed. It is hard to imagine how anyone could do what the trumpet was doing in broad daylight let alone in pitch-black darkness.
It is hard to explain. If you can imagine swinging the trumpet towards someone at the speed of a fast bowler and then stopping it on the end of someoneís nose, touching them but without hurting them. Then try and touch their face four or five times in the space of one or two seconds, and then try and do it in the dark without hurting anyone and you might get an idea of what was happening.
William then came back on and spoke some more and the sitters asked more questions.
After what seemed like an hour William brought the proceedings to an end, he bid us goodbye and the now familiar whoosh ensued. Suddenly there was a loud thump. It sounded like a large crate had been dropped on the floor in front of us. The lights were switched on and there in front of us seven or eight feet from the curtain, was David strapped in the chair and looking as if he had just woken up from a deep sleep.
It would have taken at least two strong people to move him that distance and drop him in the centre of the room. Then we noticed Davidís cardigan was on back to front with the plastic fasteners still in place’ How David could have get the cardigan off while strapped into the chair is difficult to fathom.
Richard, the volunteer was then asked to cut the fasteners but when he put his hand in his pockets the cutters were missing. He then realised they were now in his back pocket which they were not when the lights went out.
It had been a fascinating experience and while the physical phenomena had been amazing, for me the best evidence that something non-physical was happening was T asking a question in Russian and getting a reply in Russian!