A Spirit Explains Ectoplasm
Posted on 15 August 2022, 8:01
In the February 1905 issue of “The Annals of Psychical Science,” Ernest Bozzano, an Italian psychical researcher, offers an article titled “A Defence of William Stainton Moses.” It is in response to comments made by Frank Podmore, the resident skeptic of the Society for Psychical Research, relative to the mediumship of Moses. Podmore’s theory was that the “spirit lights” frequently reported around Moses were produced with bottles of phosphorized oil hidden on or about him. He claimed that Moses (below) had pretty much indicted himself by writing about a mishap that occurred during September 1873, as it suggested that a bottle had accidentally been broken.
The charges against Moses were made by Podmore in his book Modern Spiritualism, published in 1904, some 12 years after Moses’s death. He draws from Moses’s own written account of the incident, which reads, “Suddenly there arose from below me, apparently under the table, or near the floor, right under my own nose, a cloud of luminous smoke, just like phosphorus. It fumed up in great clouds, until I seemed to be on fire, and rushed from the room in a panic. I was fairly frightened, and could not tell what was happening. I rushed to the door and opened it, and so to the front door. My hands seemed to be ablaze and left their impress on the door and handles. It blazed for a while after I had touched it, but soon went out, and no smell or trace remained. … There seemed to be no end of smoke. It smelled distinctly phosphoric, but the smell evaporated as soon as I got out of the room into the air.”
The “clouds of luminous smoke” were likely what later came to be called ectoplasm. Researchers reported it coming in various forms from vaporish to a thick milky-like substance. Around the same time, Sir William Crookes, a renowned chemist, observed it with medium D. D. Home and referred to it as “psychic force,” a name given to it by lawyer Serjeant Cox, a fellow psychical researcher.
Podmore was not present, only Dr. Stanhope Speer, Moses’s friend, but Podmore jumped to the conclusion that Moses mishandled a bottle of phosphorus, causing it to break. “Now this is what Mr. Podmore does,” Bozzano explains, “... he makes extracts of phrases where the phenomenon is insufficiently described, detaches the case, thus presenting it to the reader in a state of isolation, and makes a few brief comments on it – which, as usual, resolve themselves into cutting insinuations.” Bozzano further wondered why Moses bothered to write about it if it was a trick gone astray or why Dr. Speer made no mention of broken glass, etc.
Moses mentioned it because he was given an explanation the next day by a spirit communicator. It is not clear which spirit was communicating, but apparently it was Rector or Mentor from the Imperator group of 49 spirits. By means of automatic writing, Moses asked the spirit what the phosphoric smoke the previous day was all about. Here is part of the dialogue that took place:
Spirit: “We are scarcely able to write. The shock has destroyed your passivity. It was an accident. The envelope in which is contained the substance which we gather from the bodies of the sitters was accidentally destroyed, and hence the escape into outer air, and the smoke which terrified you. It was owing to a new operator (spirit operator) being engaged on the experiment. We regret the shock to you.”
Moses: “I was extremely alarmed. It was just like phosphorus.”
Spirit: “No, but similar. We told you when first we began to make the lights that they were attended with some risk; and that with unfavourable conditions they would be smoky and of a reddish yellow hue.”
Moses: “Yes, I know. But not that they would make a smoke and scene like that.”
Spirit: “Nor would they, save by accident. The envelope was destroyed by mischance, and the substance which we had gathered escaped.”
Moses: “What substance?”
Spirit: “That which we draw from the bodily organisms of the sitters. We had a large supply, seeing that neither of you had sustained any drain of late.”
Moses: “You draw it from our bodies – from all?”
Spirit: “From both of you. You are both helpful in this, both. But not from all people. From some the substance cannot be safely drawn, lest we diminish the life principle too much.”
Moses: “Robust men give it off?”
Spirit: “Yes, in greater proportion. It is the sudden loss of it and the shock that so startled you that caused the feeling of weakness and depression.”
Moses: “It seemed to come from the side of the table.”
Spirit: “From the darkened space between the sitters. We gathered it between you in the midst. Could you have seen with spirit eyes you would have discovered threads of light, joined to your bodies and leading to the space where the substance was being collected. These lines of light were ducts leading to our receptacle.”
Moses: “From what part of my body?”
Spirit: “From many; from the nerve centers and from the spine.”
Moses: “What is this substance?”
Spirit: “In simple words, it is that which give to your bodies vitality and energy. It is the life principle.”
Moses: Very like sublimated phosphorus?
Spirit: “No body that does not contain a large portion of what you call phosphorus is serviceable to us for objective manifestations. This is invariable. There are other qualities of which you do not know, and which not all spirits can tell, but this is invariable in mediums for physical manifestations.”
On another occasion, Imperator, the chief of the band of 49, which included Rector and Mentor, communicated:
“We have a higher form of what is known to you as electricity, and it is by that means we are enabled to manifest, and that Mentor shows his globe of light. He bring with him the nucleus, as we told you.”
At a sitting on September 11, 1873, Maria Speer, the wife of Dr. Speer, recorded: “... the next evening we sat again in perfect darkness, which Mentor took advantage of, as he showed lights almost as soon as we were seated. He then controlled the medium (Moses), talking to us about the lights as he showed them. At first they were very small. This, he said, was the nucleus of light he had brought with him, a small amount of what we should call electricity. This nucleus lasted all the time, and from the circle he gathered more light around it, and kept it alive by contact with the medium. At one time, the light was as bright as a torch. Mentor moved it about all over the table and above our heads with the greatest rapidity.”
On August 10, 1873, Dr. Speer recorded that Mentor said he would show his hand. “A large, very bright light then came up as before, casting a great reflection on the oilcloth, came up as before in front of me; inside of it appeared the hand of Mentor, as distinct as it can well be conceived. ‘You see! You see!’ said he, ‘that is my hand; now I move my fingers,’ and he continued to move his fingers about freely, just in front of my face. I thanked him for his consideration.”
Everyone who knew Moses, an Anglican priest, spoke of his honesty and integrity, especially Frederic Myers. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely that Moses would have carried on such imposture with his friends for over ten years. Podmore implied that all of Moses’ seances were in the dark, but Bozzano pointed out that many of them were in lighted conditions. This was confirmed by Dr. and Mrs. Speer and others.
Bozzano’s article also refers to other phenomena observed by Dr. and Mrs. Speer, as well as their adult son, Charlton Speer, a professional musician. Charlton reported on strange music about them with no visible instruments. He described it as something like “the soft tone of a clarinet gradually increasing in intensity until it rivaled the sound of a trumpet, and then by degrees diminishing to the original subdued note of the clarinet, until it eventually died away in a long drawn-out melancholy wail. This is a very inefficient description of this really extraordinary sound, but as I have in the whole course of my experience never heard anything at all like it, it is impossible to give to those who have not heard it a more accurate idea of what it was like.”
On July 13, 1874, Dr. Speer reported: We had last night an admirable specimen of zither playing, for a length of time. The performer (we don’t know his name yet) actually performed what is called a free prelude; that is to say, a short unbarred composition. The whole thing was most marvelous, for there is no zither in our house, and it is an instrument that cannot be mistaken.” Dr. Speer further stated that they “ascertained that the sounds were in truth evidence of the presence of individuals purporting to have long since departed from earth life.”
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.
Next blog post: August 29
From Raymond Lodge to Sir Oliver and Mary Lodge, his parents.
“Can you fancy seeing me in white robes? Mind, I didn’t care for them at first, and I wouldn’t wear them. Just like a fellow gone to a country where there is a hot climate – an ignorant fellow, not knowing what he is going to; it’s just like that. He may make up his mind to wear his own clothes a little while, but he will soon be dressing like the natives.”
Michael Tymn, Fri 26 Aug, 00:47
Raymond went on to tell his mother that he was allowed to have earth clothes until he got acclimated. “I don’t think I will ever be able to make the boys see me in white robes,” Raymond added, apparently jesting.
Life in the World Unseen and More life were great books. I remember the robes of those who were advanced in these books. I also remember the description of when they visited the gloom of the houses of those poor souls who were at the lower levels.
The spirit dresses for their audience. They appear in their normal attire when presenting to their loved one. They know that quick recognition is important.
I also know that there are other techniques. Some spirits use an animal form (don’t ask me why) to reflect their qualities. The power animals seem to be my experience.
The robed ones are those whom I have not yet met. I don’t get a visual if the higher level message is delivered. I know that it is more than garden variety spirit from the power. The choice of appearance is theirs.
The best books are the ones in which the medium gets surprised by the identity of the spirit. I have never had a name dropper spirit (my friend’s wife had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a non exclusive arrangement). Stainton Moses gets John Dee (I would not have expected him).
The book you and Don were discussing of a group wanting a fake spirit- Philip. We would suspect that it is a deluded shell (spirit of low grade without too much spiritual level) who would adopt the attention of the group and play along.
Bruce Williams, Thu 25 Aug, 13:36
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 25 Aug, 13:06
Benson’s description would be in agreement with what many people who have had an NDE say when they encounter higher spirit beings of light after going through a tunnel and entering a realm of light. “Jesus” is described as wearing such clothing although sometimes he is described as wearing brown sackcloth with a sash. During their initial encounter with relatives NDE-ers often describe the relative dressed in clothing similar to that which they wore on earth and in some cases, clothing in which they were buried. In a recent video, Matt Fraser, psychic medium, said that he never sees naked spirits although he supposes that if he ever saw a nudist that they would be nude to convey their true essence and to provide identity for those with whom they want to communicate. - AOD
Amos and Bruce,
For whatever it’s worth, ponder on this:
Many spirit communicators have stated that spirits tend to move from traditional clothing in the lower realms to robes and gowns in the higher realms. After transitioning to the spirit world, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson began communicating through the hand of Anthony Borgia. He told of being able to visit one of the higher realms. “I observed that most of the people waiting in the gardens were not habited in their earth clothes,” he communicated, “and I assumed that most of them had been in spirit for some considerable time. Such was not necessarily the case, Edwin (their guide) told us. They had the right to wear their spirit robes by virtue of the fact that they were inhabitants of this realm we were now in. And the robes they wore were eminently suited to both the place and the situation. It is difficult to describe this costume because so much rests in being able to give some comparison with a particular earthly fabric. Here we have no such materials, but by the kind and degree of light that is the essence of the spirit robe. Those that we now saw were in ‘flowing’ form and of full length, and the colours – blue and pink in varying degrees of intensity – seemed to interweave themselves throughout the whole substance of the robes.”
Michael Tymn, Thu 25 Aug, 07:40
Personally, I’m not so much of a genius that I can presume to know all of the factors that might impact upon the way, fashion, or manner that a spirit might appear. Here in our physical earth-world, other than climate factors, I don’t know of any “physical laws” dictating that any individual person must appear in such and such a way. There are cultural norms of course—and even within a given culture, there’s usually room for at least some degree of variation. But invariable and immutable physical laws? I don’t think so. And I certainly can’t think of a good reason
Don Porteous, Mon 22 Aug, 15:51
why that shouldn’t be the case in the spirit-world as well…
I am still trying to work out if the Mickey Mouse we received was you or the real thing. Clothes maketh the man. I suspect there is a dress code in place.
My previous comment:
The level is the same as holds the subatomic particles together, a binding force which is below the fields that can be measured for their cause and effect. The energy is universal in nature.
Could they have been talking 25 years ago about Dark Matter?
A recent experiment shows the search for Dark Matter which is 80% of the universe. The physicist explains it is all around us with a ghost like quality. The thinking is similar to the SPR of relating new discoveries to familiar terms. Worth a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6um2Z-Cswqo
The Higgs boson particle aka The God Particle is interesting. I suspect the old odic force left the G of it as not to upset the Church.
Sorry have to go as someone who looks like Donald Duck is coming through - be discerning of spirits. as I always say. Looks like a duck, walks like a duck ....going quackers.
Bruce Williams, Mon 22 Aug, 00:46
No Newton, I haven’t considered anything written by Stainton Moses. You may have already deduced that I don’t regard Stainton Moses and his Imperator group of 49 spirit entities as anything other than Stainton Moses’ own conscious and subconscious mind. (Although I will grant that on some occasions Stainton may have been inspired by his muse.) That is not to say that I don’t think that Stainton Moses did not have anything worthwhile to say and I believe he had the training, experience and position to say what he did and get recognition for it. I agree with a lot of what he said even though I have not read the entirety of his writings. I completely question anything Mrs.Speer wrote from her notes taken at the Moses’ séances after Moses died.
I don’t understand what the need was for the spirit entity to swaddle their head except for the face and the rest of the body. Why? I don’t care what Stainton Moses said about it, that is his opinion. I have mine and I value my opinion as much as Stainton’s opinion. There are too many instances of spirits appearing in their entirety dressed in their clothes of the day. Apparently there was no need for them to bundle-up in bed clothes. Examples appear in bedside apparitions and in other reported after-death visualizations. Those select people who actually see spirits in their daily life never report seeing them in bed sheets. Those who have an NDE don’t see their grandmother dressed in bed linen. She is usually dressed in clothing she wore when she was alive, appearing younger and in a perfect state.
I think those old photos were concocted for who knows what reasons. But I don’t think they are photographs of actual spirit entities. I have to say that as I go along here my belief quotient has fallen to say, maybe 30% based on those old reports from the 1800s and the old photographs. There are just too many good reasons from today’s reports to consider that a spirit existence may be a possibility. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 21 Aug, 19:00
Dear AOD: Have you considered Stainton’s explanation of this photography of spirits business at the beginning of Section 31 of Spirit Teachings? There is a more charitable and, to me, viable explanation of the “concoction” of “hokey” clothing in these photos.
Newton Finn, Sun 21 Aug, 15:26
Amos, I will try to wear something more, as Patience called it, “nifty.” I was thinking about my old Nike sweat suit, but I think that is what Patience referred to as “togs,” when she said “It’s no go, kid, in your togs..I’m going to set you up in your gay rags. For once you’re going to slip into some nifty cloth.” Unfortunately, those old guys had not much more than their robes, which you call sheets.
Michael Tymn, Sat 20 Aug, 21:35
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 20 Aug, 18:02
Try not to swathe yourself in bed sheets when you project your image. I never understood why that was necessary. I suppose that whoever concocted those photos thought that it would look like ectoplasm or it would look ghostly. But I think it just looks silly and stupid and definitely fake. There is absolutely no reason for a real spirit projection to wrap itself up in bed linen. - AOD
Further to my comment below about the wide range in physical, mental, spiritual, and psychic abilities among humans, I came upon an old photo of William Stainton Moses and Dr. Stanhope Speer with Rector looking at them. I had filed it away in my computer many years ago and don’t recall the source of the photo. Anyway, a discussion was going on at another website and I posted the photo there. Two people commented that the Rector part of it looked fake. I agreed, but it looks no more a fake than the famous Bien Boa spirit which Dr. Charles Richet, a non-believer, had no doubts about.
That got me to thinking about the whole materialization process. As I understand it, the materializing spirit has to picture himself as he (or she) was in the earth life and then project that image into the ectoplasm. If the ability to picture myself, say at age seven, if I had no photos of myself at that age, is a factor, I would look more like Mickey Mouse. As for artistic ability, there is clearly a wide range and I am near the bottom in that respect.
If, when I am on the Other Side, I find it necessary to materialize on the earth plane for some reason, I will try to visualize my 35-year-old self rather than the 85-year-old self.
Michael Tymn, Sat 20 Aug, 08:27
However, if artistic ability is a factor in my projection, I’ll definitely be called a fraud.
You and I are in the same boat with regard to the “patience” required to achieve any kind of meaningful results on the spiritual front. Even if I had the interest in trying for it (I don’t—as I don’t need it) I certainly wouldn’t have the patience for it.
With regard to the “Philip” question (I found the title incidentally—it’s “Conjuring Up Philip”)
Don Porteous, Fri 19 Aug, 15:31
I’m well aware of the “secondary personalities” suggestion, but I don’t find it convincing—and even if it were true, the observed physical phenomena would still require explanation.
If it were just one teenage involved, we could possibly invoke the “poltergeist” explanation—but with a whole group involved? I doubt it…
As to the “nature” of a responding spirit—it’s still a spirit, whether it’s a saint or some low-level impersonator…
Moses questioned many of the spirits and of the 49 there was the Mystic Band of advisors. Different bands of spirits assisted with the training of Moses in various areas. In a conversation Imperator mentioned that it was a period of conflict and distress (March 23 1879 much like now ) and that it was also noisy from the celebrations on the spirit side as it was a great anniversary. Good to know that they have a good time other there.
Your life on earth is a school of training intended to fit you for a higher life hereafter.
http://iapsop.com/archive/materials/light/light_v13_n663_sep_23_1893.pdf page 447
One of my recent messages was about a person in the SPR group. It impressed me.
Bruce Williams, Fri 19 Aug, 14:09
His role with the group is to remind those of God. The simple proof of survival does not improve the spiritual composition of any man. It is a passing wonder. The strength of belief is the key.
Dear Chris de Cat,
I believe you are right. And Newton’s view coincides, I believe. The notion of thought-forms is not new. The lady whose name I forget (David-Neel???), who traveled alone through China many decades ago had a thought-form companion of her own (I forget all details), and someone I mention without naming her on pages 261 to 264 of Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’ Inner Traditions International, 2010 seems to have had a Chinese thought-form in her conscious world too (or it was an actually existing spirit). I have mentioned this before in other connections, and do not want to bore readers, but it just might be worth reading thoughtfully.
One other thought for the present: I believe Newton has the right interpretation again. There is a uniqueness about TRUE Christianity (not the humanly-built church systems that have encrusted and partially stifled the core belief - ‘core’ belief is exactly right phrase because ‘core’ comes from the Greek and other words for heart, and that’s where the true spiritual world centres), as Newton has reminded us many times.
Eric Franklin, Fri 19 Aug, 12:41
What if our collective thoughts are capable to create new illusions in this world. Didn’t spirits and NDE’s said that Earth is just an illusion? They also said that a thought in the afterlife is realized immediately, so it seems not uncommon that this process can be produced on Earth as well but slower. So imaginary ghosts can be created and manifest. Maybe it is even possible for humanity to create a peaceful world of love , respect and kindness just by imaginate such a world on a collective way. Nowadays it is unthinkable because all we get on television and media is the opposite of that. Maybe the bad news shows, violent programs and games are just creating that seemingly moralless world.The key of a better world is bedded in our own thoughts .
Chris De Cat, Fri 19 Aug, 04:21
An additional thought about most of us being able to develop psychic ability. Clearly, it takes much patience. I recall that Gladys Osborne Leonard had a few dozen failures before she finally succeeded. I also recall that Hamlin Garland would sit with a medium several hours before any phenomena developed. There are many other examples. I know I don’t have the patience for that. In my one experiment with a Ouija board, I gave up after about 20 minutes and never tried again. However, if I had lived 100-160 years ago, when people didn’t have so many distractions—nothing to do but stare into a fire or sit on the front porch and look at the stars—I might have had the patience then. I think that is a big part of the decline in mediumistic phenomena, although I suspect that the primary reason is that the spirit world threw in the towel at a certain point. There is a good quote by Imperator on this aspect—maybe it is in your great book—but I’m not up to searching for it right now.
Michael Tymn, Fri 19 Aug, 04:04
Thanks to everyone who pitched in on this sidebar about Stainton Moses. Let me add one additional thought and an afterthought. Throughout Spirit Teachings, Imperator drives home the point that his revelation is the culmination of one particular path to God: the path which follows in the footsteps of Jesus.
Other paths, involving different religious traditions or individualzed spiritual quests, are also recognized and affirmed. Those like me, who have been, however haltingly, on the Jesus path for a lifetime, tend to forget this at our spiritual peril.
As for that afterthought, check out Section 18 of Spirit Teachings (if you’re so inclined) and note Imperator’s answer to Stainton’s query whether this—this revelation coming to him along with others—is nothing less than the return of Christ, otherwise known as the Second Coming.
Newton Finn, Fri 19 Aug, 01:25
I don’t recall the name of the book, either, nor do I recall the many questionable aspects about it. The big issue was whether the communication was coming from the “secondary personalities” of the sitters or from spirits. Below is a comment I previously posted:
“Much has been written about Philip the imaginary ghost created by a group of Canadian researchers during the 1970s. Many parapsychologists have concluded from this and other similar experiments that such spirit manifestations are no more than manifestations of the human mind.
Michael Tymn, Thu 18 Aug, 21:01
“Allan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher, discussed this a hundred years earlier in his 1874 book, The Book of Mediums (published after his death). Kardec wrote: “Frivolous communications emanate from light, mocking, mischievious spirits, more roguish than wicked, and attach no importance to what they say…These light spirits multiply around us and seize every occasion to mingle in the communication; truth is the least of their care; this is why they take a roguish pleasure in mystifying those who are weak, and who sometimes presume to believe their word. Persons who take pleasure in such communications naturally give access to light and deceiving spirits.
“Kardec added: “Just the same if you invoke a myth, or an allegorical personage, it will answer; that is, it will be answered for, and the spirit who would present himself would take its character and appearance. One day, a person took a fancy to invoke Tartufe, and Tartufe came immediately; still more, he talked of Orgon, of Elmire, of Damis, and of Valire, of whom he gave news; as to himself, he counterfeited the hypocrite with as much art as if Tartufe had been a real personage. Afterward, he said he was the spirit of an actor who had played that character.”
You are right - and thanks for reminding me. I suggest, tentatively, that the ‘solo’ automatic writer may be the highest, spiritually, and so more reliable than others, especially such as those who produced phenomena such as the smell of wet labrador dogs. There’s hardly a worthy spiritual or ‘religious’ lesson in that.
It’s not irrelevant to remark that Don’s treatment in his book of the matter of the Turin Shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo provides us with empirical evidence from an unique physical (scientific) object of an unique historical event - a resurrection of a human life - more reliable than any corrupted text written long after the event, and then translated, even the Bible. Don has given me a rational version of the Christian belief that the written texts could never have provided.
Eric Franklin, Thu 18 Aug, 17:39
As an add-on to your thought about the psychic “non-development” of most of us—it would seem, based upon a slew of case histories, that perhaps the majority of those with no apparent psychic development could, under the right circumstances of prolonged exposure, join the ranks of the “developed.” The classic case in point is probably the 1970’s case, in Toronto, of “Philip the Imaginary Ghost” in which a totally fictitious character, made-up by a group of totally “normal” people with absolutely no prior known psychic experience—after over a year of “play-acting”, suddenly appeared, showing a wide range of readily observable and measurable physical activities. The name of the book about it escapes me at the moment, but I’m sure someone here will remember it…
Don Porteous, Thu 18 Aug, 16:31
Eric & Newton…
Re: your comments, first voiced by Newton, about the fact that Stainton Moses “needed no medium or amanuensis” to get Imperator’s teachings across—Moses was not alone in that ability; Geraldine Cummins, when working on, I believe, “Swan on a Black Sea,” was able to get the deceased Winifred Coombe Tennant (“Mrs. Willett”) across while Cummins was alone in Ireland, with no sitter or anyone else present.
Don Porteous, Thu 18 Aug, 16:12
Sorry, I wrote that postscript in too much of a hurry. I should have included the words “the explanation of” thus: We have here, in the imperfect transmission of messages by mediums of lesser spirituality, THE EXPLANATION OF William James’s ‘bosh’, do we not?
Eric Franklin, Thu 18 Aug, 12:01
Bruce asks whether Moses was more gifted than others. As I see it, mediumistic and/or psychic ability has a range as wide as with mental and physical abilities. I’d equate Moses to a person with an IQ of 170 or thereabout or the ability to run a mile in under 3 minutes, 50 seconds.
I am reminded of the wide range of physical abilities every year when the Honolulu Marathon is held here. The winner usually takes around 2 hours, 13 minutes or so, while the person in last place takes about 15 hours. The median time is close to six hours. And, of course, there are many people who wouldn’t be able to finish it at a slow stroll. I believe it is that way with psychic abilities. Most are slower than slow strollers. They “meander” along. Many of them could develop into fast walkers, some into joggers, and some into competitive runners, but they are not motivated to do so. “Meandering” satisfies them. And so it is, I believe, with spiritual matters.
Michael Tymn, Thu 18 Aug, 06:28
We are on the same page. Top medium by virtue of his character. The suitable instrument is chosen
This quote is from Trance Teachings
PREFACE TO TRANCE TEACHINGS
These teachings are preserved to us in the form of notes made by Mrs. Speer, wife of the doctor
at whose house the circles were held.
After the passing of Stainton Moses, Mrs. Speer sent her notes to Light. From them selections
have been made and are now republished, so that teachings of great value and interest may not be
They are not continuous, being merely extracts from a large amount of material; passages not
contiguous in the original are sometimes placed in juxtaposition if they complete the sense.
The teachings are given in Mrs. Speer’s words, except where inverted commas denote the actual
words of the communicating spirit. Unless otherwise stated, Imperator was the spirit-control.
In concluding the series Mrs. Speer says: “It is impossible to give any idea of the impression
produced upon the Circle by the beauty and refinement of the manifestations, or by the power
and dignity of Imperator’s influence.”
Newton - Page 7 is the section of interest:
The medium is selected for special qualities, but they are not those which you are wont to hold in
reverence. The suitable instrument is chosen, and to him is confided the deposit of revelation. He
is not the glory; nor does the faithful servant claim it. He is the vehicle, the honoured instrument of Divine Revelation.
The next bit says if the medium is not performing then tough times ahead.
I have always followed Stainton Moses advice (I read his book early on) and the 49 controls mentioned are impressive.
I am impressed by your daily reading. From your knowledge were any of these controls Seth like in their approach?
Bruce Williams, Thu 18 Aug, 05:38
Not an idle question.
A postscript: Stainton Moses was, therefore, in the same position as one of the prophets, directly inspired, and needing no amanuensis, no medium, to write his messages for him; and a further point: We have here, in the imperfect transmission of messages by mediums of lesser spirituality, for William James’ ‘bosh’, do we not? I believe there is nothing James would call ‘bosh’ in Moses’ automatic writing. It certainly reads as ‘bosh-free’. Does anyone know what opinion James expressed on Moses’ spiritual calibre?
Eric Franklin, Wed 17 Aug, 20:51
I must voice supportive agreement yet again (I have made this comment often in the past, and risk being a bore to some by repeating it) with your recognition of the importance of good character and high spiritual development in anyone who would seek or aspire to fill the role of medium, a voice who speaks in our world for a higher spirit wishing to convey messages to us from a higher world. I had not seen before, or realised, the power of your thought that Stainton Moses is the best exemplar we have and that this fits with his apparent lack of need for an interpreter, ie for a medium. There probably was no medium of higher spiritual development available during his Earth-life.
Eric Franklin, Wed 17 Aug, 20:39
Bruce, as one of those who reads Spirit Teachings daily and devotionally, let me attempt an answer to your question. One law of the spirit world is that of fitness or capacity. Only as much spiritual truth can be conveyed as the medium is capable of receiving.
While supernormal manifestations seem to come via physical properties (like accessible ectoplasm) with which we are born, and have little to do with character or virtue, higher spiritual teachings, in the form of insights and intuitions, can come only through a medium who has made sufficient ethical progress in this life to receive them.
One need only read the brief biography of Stainton Moses at the beginning of Spirit Teachings to realize that he was an extraordinarily good man—as men and women, always and ever flawed, go. I need only cite his compassionate heroism during the smallpox outbreak. Thus in Stainton there was a vessel capable of holding a great deal of spiritual truth.
Small wonder then that perhaps the highest spirit that has communicated with us came through this particular medium. Add in the fact that Imperator delivered to Stainton a connected, self-contained revelation through automatic writing (no third-person reporting or transcription being involved), and one can appreciate why Spirit Teachings alone has been considered by many as the bible of spiritualism.
Newton Finn, Wed 17 Aug, 15:40
Another interesting topic. The odic force (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odic_force) is used by many writers.
I did try out automatic writing for a very short time (too slow) and received this in late 1990s:
We wish to tell you about the role of the spirit in the progress of the evolution of mankind. The spirit is an energy of the type which is not recorded or indeed measured as it is the basis of the universe. The level is the same as holds the subatomic particles together, a binding force which is below the fields that can be measured for their cause and effect. The energy is universal in nature. End
I studied advanced quantum physics (very similar to mediumship) where Schrödinger’s cat is still debated. The current thoughts are that there are four forces, gravitational, electrical and a strong and a weak force. The quantum entanglement - Einstein called it spooky at a distance where the spin of one particle affects the spin of a paired particle which is at a distance, you flip one and the other one follows. Strange.
In my spiritual days we experimented with the people present to see if any physical demonstration happened with different groups of people. The thinking is that different people have more psychic force than others. Was Moses more gifted than others?
Bruce Williams, Wed 17 Aug, 06:45
There are some in this group with better knowledge of the success factors for achieving this physical demonstration.
As for an e-book version, unfortunately Amazon/Kindle requires that all footnotes/endnotes (and as you know, my book has a ton of them) be formatted in such a fashion that they’re navigable in both directions (text to note, and note back to text). The time that would have been required to accomplish that made it a necessary decision to go paperback only. At least to begin with—I may still see if its feasible to get it done, but it will obviously take a while…
Don Porteous, Mon 15 Aug, 18:06
Another fascinating bit of research and helpful explanation from Michael. It seems that the life force can be drawn out of us (at least some of us) by the spirit world to facilitate supernormal manifestations. Might the converse also be true, that the life force can be concentrated within us (all of us) by our fidelity in thought and action to what Schweitzer (and long before him various Eastern traditions) called “reverence for life”?
By the way, is Don’s wonderful new book available in ebook form? If not, might he consider making it so to enable wider readership? So many of us now do our reading electronically, being willing to forego the exquisite feeling of a book in one’s hand for the extraordinary convenience of something like the Kindle. Mine, for example, holds hundreds of books (including all of Michaels) which remain my constant companions wherever I go. I would love to have Don’s book similarly with me always.
Newton Finn, Mon 15 Aug, 16:14
I had not realised that Podmore was so foolishly sceptical, and that he jumped so naively to unjustified conclusions. Thank you again, Mike.
Eric Franklin, Mon 15 Aug, 09:20
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