Cora Richmond: A Most Amazing Medium
Posted on 02 December 2013, 14:53
My 2011 book, The Afterlife Explorers, is about the principal mediums and psychical researchers before the formation of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882. The mediums include Emanuel Swedenborg, Andrew Jackson Davis, George Dexter, D. D. Home, and William Stainton Moses. The researchers featured are Judge John Edmonds, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Professor Robert Hare, Victor Hugo, Allan Kardec, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Sir William Crookes. It was not until a few months ago that I became aware of a major omission, a person seemingly more amazing than the mediums discussed in my book. Her name was Coral L. V. Richmond. Her mediumship began in 1851 and continued until her death in 1923.
Richmond’s dynamic near-death experience was discussed in my last blog post but there is much more to the story of Cora Richmond (below) than her NDE or out-of-body experiences. Born in Cuba, New York in 1840, young Cora Scott, beginning at age 11, would slip into a trance state, during which time various spirits took over her body and spoke through her. The words coming through her were not simple utterances of a frivolous nature, but profound lectures on philosophical and metaphysical matters, as well as reform issues, including the abolition of slavery.
Young Cora’s first “visitation” took place during the fall of 1851, She fell “asleep” and wrote out a message from a deceased aunt for her mother. A few days later, when Cora was seated at the feet of her mother, who was sewing, she again fell “asleep” and her right arm began trembling. Remembering what had happened a few days earlier, her mother placed a pencil and slate in her hand. “She rapidly wrote one message after another signed by different members of the family who had departed to the spirit life, all of whom united in saying, ‘We are not dead,’” wrote Harrison D. Barrett in his 1895 biography of Cora (Scott) Richmond. ”They also assured the anxious mother that they would not harm the child, for they had found through her a means of consciousness with those on earth, and wished her to aid them in carrying out this work.”
Although, during the first four years of her mediumship, Cora, whose education was limited to elementary school, was sometimes controlled by a deceased German physician to do healing work, it was made clear at the beginning that her mission was to be a platform speaker and to provide teachings relative to the meaning of life along with an understanding of the spirit world.
“From the very first, it was announced through Cora’s own lips (while in a trance state) that there was a band of spirit controls of those whose mutual attractions and sympathy had drawn them together in this work of controlling and guiding [Cora],” Barrett explained. “This band, acting together under her guides who had charge of her work, would carry forward the message of truth which the spirit world had for humanity, through her organism.” It was announced in the beginning that there were 12 spirits, each with different gifts or areas of knowledge who would speak as required on scientific, philosophical historical, political, or other topics chosen by a committee or by members of the audience. At times, members of the band had to combine to address certain themes or to answer questions by the audience.
According to Barrett, the committees choosing the topic were usually made up of medical men, professors, doctors of divinity and statesmen. “They generally endeavored to select the topic which they deemed most difficult for any speaker to discuss, with which to confound the young girl,” Barrett wrote, pointing out that the subject was not given to her until she was on the platform.
At age 14, she appeared before a large audience in New York City and was given the topic “The Influence of the Aryan Philosophy upon the Philosophy of Modern Times” to discourse on. The next day, the New York Herald story read, in part: “She gave a most eloquent lecture upon the subject, replete with logic and erudition…and showed a knowledge of the subject far transcending that which [is] possessed by any mortal… Many abstruse metaphysical questions were propounded to her, which were answered with perfect ease and always in the same scholarly, dignified language.”
In 1856, when she was just 16, while again lecturing in New York City, she was given the subject “The Philosophy of the Spheres” to discuss. After a short prayer, she responded. in part: (Many of her lectures were recorded in shorthand) :
“You desire an elucidation of the philosophy of the ‘spheres,’ or an explanation of the successive unfolding of the Spirit though different gradations, either embodied or disembodied. The word ‘sphere’ when applied to any object simply signifies the orbicular condition or position of that object, and does not illustrate or imply a particular location with regard to other objects. But when applied to mind, it represents the compass or power of the mental capacity. The sphere of your material earth comprises all that space in which it moves and, atmospherically, all those elements that surround it and are influenced by its revolutionary changes. So the sphere of an individualized soul is the orbit of its revolutions, and the influence of its movements upon its own center of attraction.
“When we speak of the seven spheres or circles of the Spirit-world, we do not intend to convey the idea that our world is divided and subdivided into regular compartments, each separate and distinct in its formation. But that we may bring you capacities in harmonious communication with our own, we are obliged to render an outward or objective distinction , thereby enabling you to realize that we occupy a world as real, as tangible, and positive as your own. Seven is a harmonic number. There are seven great principles in the spiritual identification of mind, and there must be correspondingly seven material principles. There are seven hues in the rainbow, or prismatic reflections of these hues. You have divided your weekly revolutions of time into seven days. There are seven grand principles of melody in the harmonic world of music, and each distinctive principle is a trinity. Seven and three are the combinations of harmonious number; three and seven are the union of harmonious sounds; and sounds and numbers are the united representation of spiritual or real existence.
“But before I can proceed to a direct analysis of sphereal harmony, I must distinctly impress upon your mind that ours is a world of causes, or the spiritual, and yours is a world of effect or the material. And as no effect can exceed or become superior to the cause, no embodied form can represent fully the spirit of embodiment. We see reflected in the drop of water a miniature image of the whole starry heavens; but remove the water and we see no stars – yet, does that destroy the vast myriads of rolling worlds? No! We have only to look upward to see the reality. So in the external world we see, embodied, in the flower, the beauty, the loveliness and of its spiritual existence. But soon the external flower is destroyed by the blast, and its petals fall withering to the ground. But where is the odor, the color, and the beauty? Not dead, but blooming in the atmosphere, more lovely because more refined and purified.
“Thus, my dear friend, it is with the soul you see reflected in the human or outward form, the image of the Spirit; and gazing upon its beauty and perfectness, you bow before the shrine of the exterior, forgetting that, like the drop of water, it must soon pass away. And when it is removed at last, mortals gaze in sorrow and sadness, strive to restore the faded image instead of lifting up their eyes to see the beautiful reality.
“The spheres of the human soul are like the orbits of planets, each perfect in itself, yet distinct and harmonious, and whether that soul exists in the external form, or in the interior and spiritual, it matters not, if it only attains its own orbit and not, like the erratic comet, flashes a moment in the mental horizon and disappears. But even the comet occupies its own sphere, and never comes in contact with any other planet however near it may approach.
“Man’s sphere is ascertained on earth by the external application of his interior powers. Men rear grand architectural palaces, whose marble halls and lofty turrets are emblazoned with the choicest gems of earth, surround themselves with every treasure of art, science, and beauty. The poet weaves for himself the silken robe of song in all nature a grand lyric of perpetual beauty. The sculptor chisels for himself an embodiment of his ideal of Nature’s perfect images. All these are but birth of the inferior man, and illustrate the sphereal or harmonic development of the soul. The philanthropist creates for himself a pedestal of earnest and perfect love, and with clear and piercing eye traces out the windings of his pathway, gazes on this whole race of souls and with one loving clasp draw the whole world to his noble heart and bears them on to joy.
“Thus it is in our life. The architect creates for himself the ideal, yet real images of his interior thought, and sees in the whole universe a grand and perfect temple. These thoughts are handed down through successive spheres until at last they reach the earth.
“Here the poet sings his lyric rhymes in harmony with eternity’s everlasting beauty, and this, like the other, permeates all spheres corresponding with its own, until some soul on earth, catching the inspiration, speaks, and lo! The poem becomes an outward form. Here Mozart thrills forever the strings of Nature’s lyre, and improvises grandest melodies, in harmony with Eternity’s glorious voice. And Rembrandt, through his own ideal and imaginative power, pictures for himself a panoramic scene of Creation’s lovely landscapes, presenting of eye of God the artist power of Nature.
“Thus in the interior and exterior worlds the sphereal harmonies of each are combined, while the soul, immortal in its powers, passes from gradation to gradation, from world to world, form universe to universe, retaining still its own sphere, and performing still its revolutions around its center – its own interior self.”
At Lynn, Massachusetts, in December, 1857, a committee composed of scholarly men anticipated that they would confound Cora’s guides by asking, “Will you please define the Pythagorean proposition?” Speaking through Cora, the guides asked, “Which proposition do you mean – the Moral Code or the so-called Scientific Proposition?” When no answer came from the committee, the guides took up the Moral Code. Following that discourse, a committee member, apparently a scientist, asked, “What is the diameter of a bucket filled to the brim with water?’ The response came through Cora, “The diameter of a bucket of water is probably as great as the diameter of a cranial structure, destitute the grey material denominated ‘brain’ by so-called scientists.”
On June 13, 1858. Cora, then age 18, appeared in Melonian Hall in Boston and the spirits were asked to explain the difference between Truth and Fact. Again, using Cora’s vocal cords, the spirits replied, in part:
“It is customary for man to speak of the truth from the position to which his mind has attained. In court a man swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, yet he only promises to tell the truth as he conceives it to be. You speak of the truths of religion. All that appears to you in the consecrated religious dogmas has no relevancy to religious truth. The Bible, as afar as it is historically correct, is not a truth but a record of facts. There is no such thing in nature, in art, or in intellect as truth. Intellect is but fact, and mind is built upon the basis of cold facts. Art and science are not truths, only in so far as they speed the soul on in its attainment. So with architecture, it is a matter of beauty. There is no principle of truth in the statement that the earth is round. It is but a fact. is there any evidence that any one law of science is perfect? None at all. Facts, then are but steppingstones to truths. Creeds and dogmas ever remain the same –they never progress. They are not facts, consequently, they are not truths, only man’s expression of what he considers to be truth as regards religion. You cannot cling to favorite opinions or old-time institutions and arrive at truth. The greatest of truth is its simplicity….”
By the end of 1858, Cora, just 18 then, had given over 600 lectures on a wide variety of subjects. “This lady can address an audience of five thousand people with great ease, and the guides through her give an elaborate discourse upon any subject the audience may choose,” wrote Dr. A. B. Childs, one of the observers. “There cannot well be a greater test of Spirit power than this.”
More on Coral L.V. Richmond in my next blog, December 16.
Ref: Life Work of Mrs. Cora L. V. Richmond, by H. D. Barrett, first published 1895. For copies, see http://www.InterfarFacing.com or phone 510-479-4792
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.