Background: Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge, attached to the South Lancashire Regiment of the Regular British Army, was killed near Ypres, Belgium on September 14, 1915 when struck by a shell fragment in the attack on Hooge Hill.
The 26-year-old officer was the youngest of six sons born to Sir Oliver Lodge and Lady Mary Lodge. He had been educated at Birmingham University in mechanical engineering and had plans to become a partner with two older brothers in an engineering firm serving the government.
Soon after his death, Raymond began communicating with his parents. The story is set forth in “Raymond or Life and Death,” authored by his father and published the following year.
Sir (Dr.) Oliver Lodge had been a professor of physics and mathematic at University College in both London and Liverpool before becoming principal of Birmingham University in 1900. Knighted in 1902 for his scientific work, Lodge was known primarily for his contributions in electricity, thermo-electricity, and thermal-conductivity. He perfected a radio wave detector known as a “coherer” and was the first person to transmit a radio signal, a year before Marconi. He later developed the Lodge spark plug. He was awarded the Rumford Medal in 1898 for his research in radiation, and in 1919 received the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts as a pioneer in wireless telegraphy. He served as president of the prestigious British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1913.
Like so many other scientists caught up in the wake of Darwinism, the senior Lodge had become a materialist, not believing in anything spiritual. However, he remained open-minded on the subject and was intrigued by the idea that one person could read another’s mind, something he had observed around 1883 in a stage performer named Irving Bishop. Shortly after witnessing Bishop’s performance, he joined the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and befriended Frederic W. H. Myers, a Cambridge scholar who had co-founded the SPR in 1882.
During the winter of 1889-90, Lodge and Myers closely studied Leonora Piper, an American medium who had been brought to England by the SPR. It was this study of Mrs. Piper that convinced Lodge of the survival of the human personality after death and in spirit communication. “The proof that they retained their individuality, their memory, and their affection, forced itself upon me, as it had done upon many others,” Lodge wrote. “So my eyes began to open to the fact that there really was a spiritual world, as well as a material world which hitherto had seemed all sufficient, that the things which appealed to the senses were by no means the whole of existence.”
While debunkers of his day and today claim that Lodge was easily duped by charlatans because of his grief over the death of Raymond, it is clear that Lodge came to his conclusions well before Raymond’s death. In his 1909 book, “The Survival of Man,” he clearly set forth his belief in survival and a spirit world. This book resulted in much shock and disdain among his materialistic colleagues in the scientific community. But Lodge saw no conflict between mainstream science and psychical research. “For myself, I do not believe that physics and psychics are entirely detached,” he wrote. “I think there is a link between them; neither is complete without the other. A study of the material world alone may be a narrowing influence. It leaves untouched the whole ‘universe of discourse’ apprehended by artist, philosopher, and theologian. To emphasize the importance of one part of the universe we need not decry or deny the remainder.”
Besides “The Survival of Man” and “Raymond or Life After Death,” Lodge authored many books, both on mainstream scientific subjects and psychical research. They included “Man and the Universe” (1908), “Science and Religion” (1914), “Ether and Reality” (1925),”Evolution and Creation” (1926) and “My Philosophy” (1933).
“I tell you with all the strength of conviction which I can muster, that we do persist, that people still continue to take an interest in what is going on, that they know far more about things on this earth than we do, and are able from time to time to communicate with us,” Lodge stated in one of his many speeches. “Communication is possible, but one must obey the laws, first finding out the conditions. I do not say it is easy, but it is possible, and I have conversed with my friends just as I can converse with anyone in the audience now.”
Lodge went on to say that he had tried all sorts of other explanations and had eliminated them one by one. “The conclusion is,” he said, “that survival of existence is scientifically proved by scientific investigation.”
In spite of his high standing in the scientific community, Lodge continually suffered from attacks by scientists grounded in materialism. “I am not going to be unfaithful or to shrink from the responsibility put upon me by being entrusted with knowledge that is now regarded as strange and unprofitable,” he responded to his attackers. “No knowledge is really unprofitable, nor is anything in the natural world common or unclean, though it is true that unwise people may make some things appear so…If I can be used by Higher Powers to bear testimony to truth, then, whether palatable or not, that is all I ask. Whatever happens to me, I rejoice in the opportunity of service, and am thankful for the kindly help and guidance forthcoming, though not always recognized at the time. Forward, then, into the Unknown!”
“Raymond or Life And Death,’ released a year or so after the death of Raymond, became a best seller and provided comfort to many grieving parents whose children had also died in the war. The “spirit” part of Raymond’s story began before Raymond’s death with the “Faunus” message, said to be from Frederic Myers, who had died in 1901. As Lodge reported it, Anne Manning Robbins was having a sitting with Leonora Piper in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on August 8, 1915 when she received a message from Richard Hodgson, who had been managing the American branch of the SPR before his death in 1905, to give to Lodge. “Now Lodge, while we are not here as of old, i.e., not quite, we are here enough to take and give messages. Myers says you take the part of the poet, and he will act as Faunus.” When Miss Robbins told Hodgson she did not understand the message, he said that Lodge should check with Margaret Verrall, as she would understand. Hodgson added that Arthur said she would understand. This was taken to be Dr. Arthur W. Verrall, Margaret’s husband, who also was deceased.
Alta Piper, the daughter of Mrs. Piper, then posted the message to Lodge, it reaching him early September. Lodge didn’t understand and wrote to Mrs. Verrall, who like her husband, was an authority on the classics. Mrs. Verrall referred him to a passage in “Horace” in which Horace gave an account of his narrow escape from death, from a falling tree, as a result of the intervention of the poet Faunus.
Actually, an earlier message came through Mrs. Piper on August 5, while doing automatic writing in a non-trance state. It read: “Yes. For the moment, Lodge, have faith and wisdom in all that is highest and best. Have you all not been profoundly guided and cared for? Can you answer, ‘No’? It is by your faith that all is well and has been.” This arrived by separate post on the same day as the Faunus message.
Knowing that a fallen or falling tree is a frequent symbol for death because of a misinterpretation of Eccl. xi. 3 in the Old Testament, Lodge wondered if it would be a death in the family or some financial disaster that Myers, his old friend, wanted him to be ready for. It was not until he received a telegram from the War Office informing him of Raymond’s death that Lodge understood. He interpreted it to mean that Myers wanted to lighten the blow by letting him know that his son still lives.
Reader alert: This chapter includes many excerpts from Lodge’s 1916 book and a later book, “Raymond Revised.” As the dialogue coming through Gladys Osborne Leonard, the entranced medium, can be very confusing, the reader is referred to the more detailed explanation set forth in the Introduction of this book. As pointed out there, Feda, Mrs. Leonard’s spirit control, acts as a medium on the Other Side and passes on messages from other spirits, as most of them are unable to communicate directly, at least in the initial stages. Feda often refers to herself in the third person, e.g., “Feda thinks Raymond is trying to say….” and at other times she relates a message as if Raymond is giving it directly. She often changes from a third person statement to a first person statement, within the same message. Her grammar is often imperfect but this shows up only occasionally in the transcripts as those recording the messages were apt to correct them as they recorded them. Lodge apparently left some of the grammatical gaffes in the records as examples.
Words in standard print are those of Sir Oliver Lodge, while words in italics are those of the editor of this book. Words in indented paragraphs are those coming through the medium from the spirit world. Words in brackets within the indented paragraphs are also those of the editor.
The first sitting that was held after Raymond’s death by any member of the family was held not explicitly for the purpose of getting into communication with him – still less with any remotest notion of entering into communication with Mr. Myers – but mainly because a French widow lady, who had been kind to our daughters in Paris, was staying with my wife at Edgbaston – her first real visit to England – and was in great distress at the loss of both her beloved sons in the war, within a week of each other, so that she was left desolate. To comfort her, my wife took her to London to call on Mrs. Kennedy, and to get a sitting arranged for with a medium whom that lady knew and recommended. Two anonymous interviews were duly held, and incidentally I may say that the two sons of Madame communicated on both occasions, though with difficulty; that one of them gave his name completely, the other approximately, and that the mother who was new to the subject, was partially consoled. Raymond, however, was represented as coming with them and helping them. and as sending some messages on his own account. I shall here only quote those messages which bear upon the subject of Myers and have any possible connection with the ‘Faunus’ message.
Report extract: We heard first of Raymond’s death on September 17, 1915, and on September 25, his mother (M.F.A.L.), who was having an anonymous sitting for a friend with Mrs. Leonard, then a complete stranger, had the following spelt out by tilts of a table, as purporting to come from Raymond:
Raymond (through Feda): Tell Father I have met some friends.
M.F.A.L: Can you give any name?
Raymond/Feda: Yes, Myers
(That was all on that subject on that occasion)
On the 27th of September, 1915, I myself went to London and had my first sitting, between noon and one o’clock, with Mrs. Leonard. I went to her home or flat alone, as a complete stranger, for whom an anonymous appointment had been made. Before we began, Mrs. Leonard informed me that her ‘control’ was a young girl named ‘Feda’.
In a short time after the medium had gone into trance, a youth was described in terms which distinctly suggested Raymond, and ‘Feda’ brought messages, The “Paul” referred to in them is the deceased son of Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy, he having been asked by his parents privately to help Raymond if he could. Paul had already several times communicated with his mother through Feda. From the record of my sittings I extract the following:
Feda: There is some one here with a little difficulty: not fully built up; youngish looking; form more like an outline; he has not completely learnt how to build up as yet. Is a young man, rather above the medium height; rather well built. He holds himself up well. He has not been over long. His hair is between colours. He is not easy to describe, because he is not holding himself up so solid as some do… He is not built up quite clearly. but it feels as if Feda knows him. He must have been here waiting for you. Now he looks at Feda and smiles; now he laughs, he is having a joke with Feda, and Paulie laughs too. Paul says he has been here before and that Paul brought him. But Feda sees many hundreds of people, but they tell me that this one has been brought quite lately. Yes, I have seen him before. Feda remembers a letter with him too…
He has been to see you before, and he says that once he thought you knew he was there, and that two or three times he was not quite sure. Feda gets it mostly by impression; it is not always what he says, but what she gets; but Feda says ’he says,’ because she gets it from him somehow.
He finds it difficult, he says, but he has got so many kind friends helping him. He didn’t think when he waked up first that he was going to be happy, but now he is, and he says he is going to be happier. He knows that as soon as he is a little more ready he has got a great deal of work to do. ‘I almost wonder,’ he says, ‘shall I be fit and able to do it. They tell me I shall.’
‘I have instructors and teachers with me.’ Now he is trying to build up a letter of some one: M he shows me. He seems to know what the work is. The first work he will have to do, will be helping at the Front; not the wounded so much, but helping those who are passing over in the war. He knows that when they pass on and wake up, they will still feel a certain fear, and some other word which Feda missed. Feda hears a something and ‘fear’. Some even go on fighting; at least they want to; they don’t believe they have passed on. So many are wanted, where he is now, to explain to them, and help them, and soothe them. They do not know where they are, nor why they are there.
‘People think I say I am happy in order to make them happier, but I don’t. I have met hundreds of friends. I don’t know them all. I have met many who tell me that a little later they will explain why they are helping me. I feel I have got two fathers now. I don’t feel I have lost one and got another; I have got both. I have got my old one, and another too – a pro tem father.’ [Sir Oliver noted that Myers soon afterwards spoke of having practically adopted Raymond.]
There is a weight gone off his mind the last day or two; he feels brighter and lighter and happier altogether, the last few days. There was confusion at first. He could not get his bearings, didn’t seem to know where he was. ‘But I was not very long,’ he says, ‘and I think I was very fortunate; it was not very long before it was explained to me where I was.’
Feda feels like a string around her head…a light feeling in the head, and also an empty sort of feeling in the chest, empty as if sort of something gone. A feeling like a sort of vacant feeling there; also a bursting sensation in the head. But he does not know he is giving this. He has not done it on purpose; they have tried to make him forget all that, but Feda gets it back from him. There is a noise with it too, an awful noise and a rushing noise.
He has lost all that now, but he does not seem to know Feda feels it now. ‘I feel splendid,’ he says. ‘I feel splendid! But I was worried at first. I was worried, for I wanted to make it clear to those left behind that I was all right, and that they were not to worry about me.’
He is gone, but Feda sees something which is only symbolic; she sees a cross falling back on to you; very dark, falling on to you; dark and heavy looking; and as it falls it gets twisted round and the other side seems all light, and the light is shining all over you. It is a sort of pale blue, but it is white and quite light when it touches you. Yes, that is what Feda sees. The cross looked dark, and then it suddenly twisted round and became a beautiful light. It is going to help a great deal….Your son is the cross of light; he is the cross of light, and he is going to be a light that will help you; he is going to help you to prove to the world the Truth. That is why they built up the dark cross that turned to light. You know; but others, they do so want to know. Feda is losing hold; goodbye.
When Lady Lodge was sitting with medium Alfred Vout Peters later that same day, September 27, Raymond communicated with his mother and made reference to a group photo taken 21 days before his death. He mentioned holding a walking stick. Unaware of such a photo, Sir Oliver, in a later sitting with Mrs. Leonard, asked Raymond about the photo and was told that he (Raymond) was sitting down for the photo and that someone behind him was leaning on his shoulder. On December 7, 1915, the Lodges received a copy of the photograph from the mother of another member of Raymond’s company. It showed Raymond sitting on the ground with a walking stick over his legs and the officer behind him resting his arm on Raymond’s shoulder. (See photo on middle pages) Raymond’s expression suggests that he was annoyed by the officer behind him resting his arm on his shoulder.
Sir Oliver concluded that this evidence went beyond fraud, coincidence and telepathy and saw it as sort of a cross-correspondence in that messages about the photo came through two different mediums. Although Mrs. Leonard was primarily a trance-speaking medium, she also produced table-tilting messages, in which a table would levitate slightly off the ground and then tilt at the proper letter as a sitter recited the alphabet. On September 28, Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge attended a table-tilting session with Mrs. Leonard. Sir Oliver explained:
A table sitting in not good for conversation, but it is useful for getting definite brief answers – such as names and incidents, since it seems to be less interfered with by the mental activity of an intervening medium, and to be rather more direct. But it has difficulties of its own. The tilting of the table need not be regarded as a ‘physical phenomenon’ in the technical or supernormal sense, yet it does not appear to be done by the muscles of those present. The effort required to tilt the table is slight, and evidentially it must, no doubt, be assumed that so far as mechanical force is concerned, it is exerted by muscular action. But my impression is that the tilting is an incipient physical phenomenon, and that though the energy, of course, comes from the people present, it does not appear to be applied in quite a normal way.
As regards evidence, however, the issue must be limited to intelligent direction of the energy. All that can safely be claimed is that the energy is intelligently directed, and the self-stoppage of the table at the right letter conveys by touch a sort of withholding feeling – a kind of sensation as of inhibition – to those whose hands lie flat on the top of the table. The light was always quite sufficient to see all the hands, and it works quite well in full daylight. The usual method is for the alphabet to be called over, and for the table to tilt or thump at each letter till it stops at the right one. The table tilts three times to indicate “yes,” and once to indicate “no”; but as one tilt also represent the letter A of the alphabet, an error of interpretation is occasionally made by the sitters. So also, C might be perhaps be mistaken for “yes,’ or vice versa, but, that mistake is not so likely.
Unconscious guidance can hardly be excluded, i.e., cannot be excluded with any certainty when the answer is of a kind expected. But first, our desire was rather in the direction of avoiding such control; and second, the stoppages were sometimes at unexpected place; and third, a long succession of letters soon became meaningless, except to the recorder who is writing them down silently, as they are called out to him seriatim in another part of the room.
It will also be observed that that at a table sitting it is natural for the sitters to do most of the talking, and that their object is to get definite and not verbose replies.
On this occasion the control of the table seemed to improve as the sitting went on owing presumably to increased practice on the part of the communicator, until towards the end, when there seemed to be some signs of weariness or incipient exhaustion; and, since the sitting lasted an hour and a half, tiredness is in no way surprising.
No further attempt was made to keep our identity from Mrs. Leonard: our name had been given away…
After a wait of four minutes, the table began to tilt. Paul Kennedy identified himself first, there to assist Raymond. When Raymond came through, Sir Oliver tested him by asking him for his nickname. He properly identified his nickname as “Pat.” As a further test of identity, Sir Oliver asked him to name of one of his five brothers. The table spelled out N-O-R-M-A- before Sir Oliver interrupted and commented that Raymond was confused. He told him to begin again. The name N-O-E-L was then spelled out, which was one of Raymond’s brothers. It was not until Sir Oliver later discussed this with his other sons that it began to make sense. His sons explained to him that ‘Norman’ was a kind of general nickname used by Raymond when they played hockey together. He would shout: ‘Now then, Norman,’ or other words of encouragement, to any of his older brothers whom he wished to stimulate. Sir Oliver saw this as evidence against telepathy, since neither he nor Lady Lodge knew of the name. He also saw it as an indication that Raymond, who had discussed psychical research with his father when he was alive, was attempting, perhaps coached by Myers, to provide veridical information by giving a name unknown to his father and mother. As a further test, Sir Oliver asked him for the name of an officer in his unit. The table spelled out “Mitchell,” a name unknown to the Lodges but later identified by Sir Oliver as Second Lieutenant E. H. Mitchell.
Sir Oliver pointed out that words came through without a break between them and that when sentences came through they often had to wait for the person recording the letters to make sense of the message. He added:
Returning to the kind of family records here given, to which evidence is sporadic rather than systematic, though none the less effective, one of the minor points, which yet is of interest, is the appropriate way in which different youths greet their relatives. Thus, while Paul calls his father ‘Daddy’ and his mother by a pet name, as he used to, and while Raymond calls us simply ‘Father” and ‘Mother,’ as he used to; another youth named Ralph – an athlete who had fallen after splendid service in the war – greets his father, when at length that gentleman was induced to attend a sitting, with the extraordinary salutation ”Ullo ‘Erb,’ spelt out as one word through the table; though to the astonishment of the medium it was admitted to be consistent and evidential. The ease and freedom of which this Ralph managed to communicate are astonishing, and I am tempted to add as an appendix some records which his family have kindly allowed me to see, but I refrain as they have nothing to do with Raymond.
On November 17, 1915, Lionel Lodge, one of Raymond’s older brothers, went to London to sit with Mrs. Leonard, not giving his name or any clue that he was related to the Lodge family. After Mrs. Leonard went into trance, Feda began speaking and said a spirit was coming through whom she knew. “Oh, it’s Raymond!” she exclaimed. Reference was made to a table sitting the Lodge family had at their home, one not involving Mrs. Leonard and unknown to her, as well as the fact that Raymond struggled to communicate in that sitting. Lionel asked Raymond what could be done to improve conditions. Feda responded:
He does not understand it sufficiently himself yet. Other spirits get in, not bad spirits, but ones that like to feel they are helping. The peculiar manifestations are not him, and it only confuses him terribly. Part of it was him, but when the table was careening about, it was not him at all. He started it, but something comes along stronger than himself, and he loses the control. [Lionel then asked Raymond about a comment in which Raymond told him that he had a lot to tell him.]
Yes. What he principally wanted to say was about the place he is in. He could not spell it all out – too laborious. He felt rather upset at first. You do not feel so real as people do where he is, and walls appear transparent to him now. The great thing that made him reconciled to his new surroundings was that things appear so solid and substantial. The first idea upon waking up was, he supposes, of what they call ‘passing over.’ It was only for a second or two, as you would count time [that it seemed a] shadowy vague place, everything vapoury and vague. He had that feeling about it. The first person to meet him was Grandfather. And others then, some of whom he had only heard about. They all appeared to be so solid, that he could scarcely believe that he had passed over.
I live in a house, he says – a house built of bricks – and there are trees and flowers, and the ground is solid. And if you kneel down in the mud, apparently you get your clothes soiled. The thing I don’t understand yet is that the night doesn’t follow the day here, as it did on the earth plane. It seems to get dark, but the time between light and dark is not always the same. I don’t know if you think all this is a bore. [Lionel noted that at this time he was distracted while wondering if his pencil would hold out as he took rapid notes.]
What I am worrying round about is, how it’s made, of what it is composed. I have not found out yet, but I’ve got a theory. It is not an original idea of my own; I was helped to it by words I let drop here and there.
People who think everything is created by thought are wrong. I thought that for a little time that one’s thoughts formed the buildings and the flowers, and trees and solid ground, but there is more than that.
[Feda then gives her view of things.] There is something always rising from the earth plane – something chemical in form. As it rises to ours, it goes through various changes and solidifies on our plane. Of course, he is only speaking of where he is now. He feels sure that it is something given off from the earth, that makes the solid trees and flowers, etc. He does not know any more. He is making a study of this, but it takes a good long time.
[Lionel asked if Raymond could contact anyone on earth.] Not always. Only those wishing to see him and who it would be right for him to see. Then he sees them before he has thought. He does not wish to see anybody unless they are going to be brought to him.
He says, I am told that I can meet anyone at any time that I want to; there is no difficulty in the way of it. That is what makes it such a jolly fine place to live in.
[Lionel asked if he can help people still on the earth plane.] That is part of his work, but there are others doing that. The greatest amount of his work is still at the war. He says, I’ve been home – only likely [lately?]. I’ve been home—but my actual work is at the war. I have something to do with father, though my work still lies at the war, helping poor chaps literally shot into the spirit world.
Extract from the chapter, “Raymond” Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I by Michael Tymn, published by White Crow Books