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Is “Speaking in Tongues” Evidence of a Spirit World?

Posted on 24 October 2022, 7:03

There are some stories so mindboggling, so weird, so utterly out of the norm, that people just shrug them off and give them no heed, seemingly assuming that they are pranks of some kind. The rational mind wants nothing to do with them. Parapsychologists apparently fear that even mentioning them will ruin their reputations. Such is the case with medium George Valiantine, (below) a direct-voice medium during the 1920s and early ‘30s. He may have produced the greatest mediumship ever, but he has gone down in history as nothing more than a fraud. One of the three books written by H. Dennis Bradley about Valiantine, Wisdom of the Gods, was recently reproduced by White Crow Books. As I was asked to write a Foreword and Afterword to the reproduction, I reread it after many years and am still scratching my head.


Valiantine has been discussed in prior blogs here, in those of April 22, 2013, May 24, 2021 and June 7, 2021, all in archives at the left of this post. The most memorable and mindboggling phenomenon was produced during October 1926 when a “voice” came through in a Chinese dialect giving the name K’ung-fu-tzu, while saying that men called him Fu-Tzu, the names now given to Confucius, the renowned Chinese philosopher. The “voice” went on to dialogue with Professor Neville Whymant, a Chinese scholar who is said to have spoken 30 languages and was fluent in that Chinese dialect. The story rates no more than a scoff or a smirk with most people, but those willing to hear the complete story and fully consider the credentials and background of Whymant must certainly have some reservations about completely dismissing it as fraud. Consider also that Whymant attended 11 additional sittings, dialoguing with “voices” in 13 other languages, including Hindi, Persian, Basque, Sanskrit, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Yiddish, German and modern Greek.” They all took place at the New York City home of Judge William Cannon, one of the officers of the American Society for Psychical Research.

Whymant also recorded that he observed Valiantine, who was not a trance medium, carrying on a conversation in “American English” with the person next to him while foreign languages were coming through the trumpet. “I am assured, too, that it is impossible for anyone to ‘throw his voice,’ this being merely an illusion of the ventriloquist,” he wrote.

It is even more difficult to believe that Valiantine was a charlatan after reading Wisdom of the Gods and Bradley’s earlier book, Toward the Stars, as well as his last one, And After.

The “Confucius voice” was not the first time a Chinese dialect had come through the trumpets in Valiantine’s direct-voice mediumship. As Bradley, a British businessman and playwright, told in Wisdom of the Gods, on February 25, 1925, Madame Wellington Koo, the first lady of China, was one of seven sitters with Valiantine. He identified her as “Countess Oeitiongham” (sic) apparently her name before her marriage to the president of China and her prior marriage to a British consular agent. Her father, Oei Tiong Ham, was a Chinese-Indonesian business tycoon, and she had become an international socialite, a very interesting one for many years according to my internet search. “When we had sat at least one hour, one of the trumpets was lifted close to the face [of the countess], and a ‘voice’ addressed her in a foreign language,” Bradley wrote, adding that the voice was initially very indistinct and the trumpet fell to the floor. Although the countess recognized the initial voice as a Chinese dialect, it took three more tries before it was loud enough for her to fully understand and carry on a conversation with the “voice.”

The countess later explained to Bradley that the “voice” spoke to her with two dialects mixed, in a way in which no European – even if he were able to speak Chinese – could do. As the countess further explained, one of the dialects was that which her father, who had died the prior year, spoke to her when she was a child, while the other dialect was one he used after she had grown up. The message was said to be one for the countess’s mother and too personal for her to reveal to Bradley.

Two of the guests on March 10, 1925 were Countess Ingegard Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, daughter of the Danish minster to England, and Gonnoske Komai, a famous Japanese poet and artist. Bradley states that Valiantine had never met them before and was not given their names. According to Bradley, a voice said to be the countess’s deceased brother came through in Russian, but she replied in Danish. However, the brother requested that she speak in Russian, and they continued to converse in that language. Another voice came through in Japanese and spoke with Komai, who later told Bradley that the identification of the communicator was uncertain, but he gave certain names and places that were meaningful to Komai and also said that he died by committing hari-kari. Based on that information, Komai had some idea as to who it was.

On March 18, Komai returned for another sitting. After a failed attempt at rising, the “spirits” were able to materialize the voice of Komai’s elder brother, who carried on a conversation with him in Japanese. Komai was told that his mother was also there, but she was unable to communicate. Apparently, the conversation with the brother had mostly to do with his children. Dr. Barnett, one of Valiantine’s guides, broke in and said Japan was preparing for a great war in the air. Komai replied that American is a far greater country than Japan, but Barnett then said that such was true but Japan’s preparation was far greater and more advanced than that of America.

Countess Ahlefeldt-Laurvig returned on April 18 for an individual sitting with Valiantine. “The Countess and Valiantine sat in my study in the daylight, and almost immediately the voice of Oscar (brother of the Countess) came through and spoke to her. The first part of the conversation was carried on in Russian, and then the Countess suggested that it should be continued in French,” Bradley wrote, adding that they spoke for about a quarter of an hour. The countess referred to it as a “marvellous” sitting.

On April 8, 1925, with the very skeptical researcher Harry Price present, Bradley reported that the gramophone which was used to play music and establish harmonious conditions would not work and therefore Miss Lilian Walbrook, one of the sitters, was asked to sing. She sang a number of songs, including “Il Bacio.” Price was taking notes and recorded that at the conclusion of the song, one of the two trumpets rose into the air, approached Miss Walbrook and thanked her in Italian. The “voice” identified himself as Luidi Arditi, an Italian composer who had died in 1903. There was a further exchange of words in Italian between Arditi and Walbrook.

In Bradley’s 1924 book, Toward the Stars, he provided a detailed report on his first sittings with Valiantine at the New Jersey country home of Joseph De Wyckoff, an American lawyer. As a guest of De Wyckoff, Bradley was invited to attend a séance with Valiantine. While very skeptical, he saw it as a means of entertainment and accepted the invitation. Nothing happened for the first 20 minutes and Bradley considered it a very dull show. However, he soon heard a soft and gentle woman’s voice call his name, addressing him as Herbert, his given name, rather than Dennis, the name most people knew him by. It was his deceased sister, Annie. They talked for 15 minutes about family matters and there was no doubt in Bradley’s mind that he was talking with his sister.

On the following night, they again sat for a séance. De Wyckoff’s cook and butler were invited to join the small group. After Dr. Barnett spoke to the group in a loud Scottish accent, Bradley’s sister again spoke. “Her tones were clear and bell-like, her notes were sympathetic and understanding, and were radiant,” Bradley recorded. “How can I describe the indescribable?” Bradley pointed out that his sister mentioned things that nobody else knew about or could have known about. After his sister left, the trumpet floated in front of De Wyckoff’s cook. “Anita! Anita!” the ‘voice’ said. “Si! Si!” Anita Ripoll excitedly responded. “It is Jose! Jose!” the “voice” said. It was the cook’s deceased husband. They carried on a conversation in Spanish which Bradley could not understand.

“I could not follow it, but nobody could fail to understand the feeling. Words tumbled over one another. Sentences joined and overlapped in Latin excitement Neither husband nor wife, apparently, marvelled at their supernatural meeting. These two souls, who had loved each other and probably had never questioned the certainty of an after-life, accepted it as entirely normal.” As De Wyckoff understood the language, he told Bradley that Jose drifted into a dialect that was a mixture of Basque and corrupt Spanish, the dialect of their native home in southern Spain. When Jose was alive in the flesh, he spoke no English and communicated with De Wyckoff in proper Spanish.

Bradley called it the “most staggering event of my life,” causing him to change his whole philosophy of life. “Doubt took flight when faced by an unchallengeable fact and the mind understood in a flash that what had hitherto appeared to be impossible was possible.”

Back in England, Bradley attended a séance at the British College of Psychic Science on February 19, 1924, with Valiantine being the medium. Among other things, he observed a voice address itself to an Australian lady, saying that it was her grandmother. The conversation opened in English and “drifted into German.” Later, the Australian lady’s mother came and also conversed with her in German. The following week, Bradley sat in again and this time heard a conversation between a deceased father and his son in a strange Welsh tongue. 

Valiantine was described by Whymant as “a typical example of the simpler kind of country American citizen” and claimed to know none of the languages spoken. Can anyone believe that he secretly learned all those languages, even different dialects and was able to carry on conversations about family matters with different sitters, at the same time being seen speaking in English to someone next to him? In the Confucius case, he would have had to anticipate that Whymant was going to quiz the “voice” about two poems of Confucius and then memorize 15 verses of one of the poems in a Chinese dialect, as well as explain a misinterpretation of another poem – a misinterpretation that had escaped scholars for centuries. And he would have had to be able to speak with an ancient dialect of Chinese to begin with, before switching to a more modern dialect, one Whymant could better understand.

Is it possible that Bradley, Professor Whymant, Judge Cannon, renowned physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, popular journalist Hannen Swaffer, and dozens of other famous people mentioned in Bradley’s books just imagined it all or were hypnotized? Or that they all conspired in a giant hoax? Is there some subconscious factor involved, or a “computer in the cosmos,” that science does not yet understand, one that records voices on earth and somehow feeds them back in a dialogue form at the proper time? Although the original copy of Wisdom of the Gods was written before the fraud charges against Valiantine, none of which involved the voices, the reproduction by White Crow Books has additions that explore those charges. In the end, however, it all leads one to believe that absolute proof is beyond our reach and probably not in our best interest. We need some doubt if we are to effectively carry out the divine plan.

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.


While looking for something else in Hamlin Garland’s great book, “Forty Years of Psychic Research,” I came upon his comments in Chapter 25 about his meeting with Judge and Mrs. Cannon, who hosted Valiantine.  Garland had met Professor Neville Whymant in New York earlier and heard his address on the sittings. When he met with the Cannons, Mrs. Cannon had in her possession a lengthy letter from Whymant to her.  Garland read the letter and was impressed by the sincerity of Whymant.  He noted that when Whymant asked the voice claiming to be Confucius, about the passage in in “Lun-yu Hsia Peu,” it was intended as a trap to catch Valiantine, but in the letter Whymant admitted complete defeat and bewilderment.

Garland had met Valiantine and concluded that he was “absolutely unfitted to meet such as test of scholarship.”  He theorizes that Valiantine may have had the power to draw upon Whymant’s scholarship and return it to him in a Chinese tongue.  “I confess that this is going a long way around instead of cutting across, but my mind works that way,” Garland concluded. “I grant that this dialogue is an almost perfect proof of survival and identity, as complete as any verbal test can be, for no modern scholar, not even Dr. Whymant, knew the exact meaning of those long-disputed lines. Nevertheless despite this voice from the dark, speaking with absolute authority, I was not convinced of the presence of Confucius in this circle.”

Michael Tymn, Sun 13 Nov, 00:17

You make a good point about the quality of research being started by the SPR. Previous research work was not credited and overlooked. This section might present the SPR case for the non-endorsement of such work. In a book by G N Tyrrell, he mentions:

But, human testimony being notoriously fallible, it is essential, when collecting spontaneous
evidence, to cross-examine the witnesses and to obtain corroboration wherever possible from independent witnesses and extraneous sources. All documents must be carefully examined and compared. There is also the question of the likelihood that a coincidence, apparently due to a causal connexion, may in reality be due to chance. Clearly the cases collected will vary a good deal in the matter of evidential quality. It may be taken as a general rule that only first hand
evidence, corroborated by other witnesses, should be accepted ; but a good deal will depend on the character, intelligence, and reputation for accuracy of the principal witness.

The Society for Psychical Research has made it a rule never to publish evidence unless it has passed the test of close scrutiny on the above lines ; therefore its Proceedings and Journal contain a larger collection of well-evidenced cases than is to be found elsewhere.

Bill, I think that your comment “Andrew Jackson Davis experienced a significant alteration of consciousness when he was “mesmerized” in the early 1840s” is a key line of thought. Altered states of consciousness produce strange results. I think of a plethora of psychic products ranging from hypnosis to trance. I read a good explanation once in a psychology paper.
Imagine that you are a car and their are two people inside this car. In the drivers seat is your normal self but sitting in the back seat watching all that is going on is another driver. When we rest the front seat driver the back seat driver emerges. This driver is different to the front seat driver as he/she has been following the radio reports and other sources of information and reveals what will occur to the car should it travel the road. There is a road block ahead warns the rear driver and you need to change direction now.
It was a good analogy of the consciousness. I think that AJD is the first person to report this rear seat driver in any detail.

Bruce Williams, Tue 8 Nov, 00:03

Thanks to all for the comments and discussion. I had reason to check Adin Ballou’s 1852 book for something recently and after browsing it I wondered if Ballou summed it all up better than all those who followed him.  It is interesting that Frederic Myers, William James, Richard Hodgson, et al, never refer to the research carried out before the SPR was formed in 1882.  Apparently, they wanted to start from scratch with a more “scientific” approach to it.  But Ballou clearly takes a scientific approach to it all. I discussed Ballou in my May 19, 2014 blog in the archives at left.  Ballou may have preceded Judge John Edmonds as the first dedicated psychical researcher. He is mentioned in my next blog, which has to do with “tables” that attacked people or just floated around the room.

Michael Tymn, Fri 4 Nov, 22:08


I’ve tried to write a reply to your most recent comment but have run out of time after several failed attempts. 

Your “cult groups” is just one area that could be explored (I would add beatniks to your list of mass movements but also “Spiritualism”—filling in everything between the two would take far too many words, while “cult group” is not really synonymous with “mass movement”).

Another area would the creative nature of mediumship and trance communication (and how “creative types” often instigate mass movements).

Then, too, connections can be drawn between mediumship, trance communication, and “hippies and flower children” and the later “New Age” movement in terms of alterations in consciousness (by any means).

Andrew Jackson Davis experienced a significant alteration of consciousness when he was “mesmerized” in the early 1840s.

This an important element, often completely missing when folks attempt to engage in “rational discussion” about these topics.

Bill Ingle, Fri 4 Nov, 17:20

Dear all,

I think Amos is quite correct in accepting the message and putting the medium to one side when evaluating that message. And honest mediums surely agree. I, like Amos, find myself reacting in just this way to Stainton Moses, whom I am reading for about the fourth time. Stainton evinces beliefs that are exactly what an intelligent mind in his situation would hold, and the spirits themselves actuslly state that revelation is always to impart the depth of knowledge the human is able to tske in; no more, no less, at each moment. I come more and more strongly to the same conclusion as Stainton, and Amos, seem to do - but the corollary to that conclusion has to be that we are called upon, somewhat agonising though it is, to rely on our own careful, reverent, even intellectual (and certainly intellectually honest) way of thinking. We must not expect the Great All to instantly spoonfeed us the truth each time we seek it, but dare to rely on the powers of thinking that very same Great Being has apportioned to each of us. As Don has said in his recent book, belief is difficult, but when we struggle to find that state of mind, we are given credit for the willingness to believe, and for the effort. Hearing a direct word of instruction - “Do this, and the miracle you hope for wILL happen because I planned it, not because you requested it” (as has happened to me just once in my 81 years, along with a few other ‘revelations’ that are true and have come as if spontaneously) - is a rare favour, but our real trust in the Great Being is shown by our almost-despairing own effort to believe despite the pain of always realising that those very efforts we usually describe as ‘unaided’ are of no other worth. Behind the scenes even those efforts are aided, and success seems to be awarded because it does not really come from our “unaided” struggle but from unseen help from Above.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 4 Nov, 09:28

Amos, what a wise phrase. Listen to their messages. I it feels right, go for it. All the other stuff is just human story or the frame of the painting.

Chris, Thu 3 Nov, 11:07

I would agree with your approach to the Seth material.  I think my objection to the Seth material is its association with that cult group (the ‘hippies’, ‘flower children’ and ‘New Agers’) of people who hang on every word “Seth” says, similar as you say, to those who quote the Bible word for word.  I must also say that I am softening somewhat to the Seth material as I look past Jane’s method of presenting it and her history as a writer.  I think that that is what really is bothering me about the Seth material.  I think I would put my reaction to the Seth case with Jane Roberts in the same category as I tend to put the Imperator case with Stainton Moses. It is the medium and his or her history and the method of presentation that I react to in a negative way not what is being said.

Actually, I am coming to understand that all mediums have different methods of contacting spirit entities and while I may not like some of those methods and/or question the medium’s authenticity or dislike the personality, that alone does not invalidate what is transmitted by them.  And, I am going to put most mediums in that category including Pearl Curran, Stainton Moses, Leonora Piper, Jane Roberts, Elaine Thorpe, Matt Fraser, John Edward, Allison Dubois, George Anderson, Leslie Flint and many many others too numerous to mention.

I can accept what is said by the spirit entity in most cases if I ignore the medium and his or her method of presenting the material. That should be my focus. My own personal resonance is with Pearl Curran and Patience Worth but that is only because of my inclinations, my history and interests are congruent with those of Patience Worth.  Well, there are other reasons too, specific to the Patience Worth case but I value that case simply because it aligns most with my own views of here and hereafter. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 2 Nov, 19:08


I’m familiar with Paul Cunningham’s 2010 paper.

Jane’s extensive testing was undertaken by George Estabrooks:

Estabrooks was given the pseudonym Dr. Instream in in various books by Seth and Jane. The most detailed (and often boring) descriptions are found in the 9-volume _The Early Sessions_ (This set, published after Jane’s death, is a compilation of sessions not part of Seth’s books).  Another set, _The Personal Sessions_, was published afterwards.

Seth was of course just one of who knows how many “invisible” sources of information accessed by mediums, channelers, and others (including that being currently accessed) beginning long, long ago. No such material is ever perfect or completely distortion free owing to the means of transmission.

The commercial success of Seth’s books is a factor in a number of instances of later channelers (including would-be channelers) seeking fame and fortune, some of whom clearly lacked Jane Robert’s abilities.  (Quality of transmission and content has also varied considerably, offered by those who were highly gifted to those who were less gifted, sometimes completely fraudulent, by amateurs and professionals, and not always consistent from day to day.)

I’ve posted several times about my reasons for taking the Seth material seriously (most prominent:  1. “Seeing” a persistent image of the cover of _Seth Speaks_ when meditating for the first time and 2. Experiencing significant alterations in consciousness after successfully doing Seth’s Practice Element 1. exercise found in _The “Unknown” Reality_ Volume One) but the material isn’t for everyone and I tend to use it primarily for inspiration in my own inner explorations (unlike many contemporary FB Seth enthusiasts who, taking advantage of easy access to Seth’s words in digital form, tend to quote him, out of context, all day, every day, treating his words in the way that some Christian’s treat the words of the bible).


My ambition is to attain good conscious access to my own greater self or entity (that “region of self” or identity who is aware of all of its lives and, per Seth, is like a “meditator” between me and All That Is).

Mediumship and trance communication are part of this, but secondary.

This continuing effort is primarily experiential but includes lots of reading and pondering, too.

I continue to read Andrew Jackson Davis’ first autobiography (not an easy read—turgid prose in a facsimile book with small letters) even as I gain a greater intuitive understanding of Davis.

(The book is over 500 pages long; Davis’ key “mesmerization” or “magnetization” experiences don’t show up until Chapter 32.)

It strikes me that the clairvoyance he experienced after being put into trance is, to an extent, artificially replicated in today’s world with the Internet, this after the accelerating developments that became noticeable with the development of the printing press, followed by the emergence of telegraphy, radio, television, the Internet, and “smart” phones.

But this is all conscious, relies on the physical senses, and supports the beliefs of materialists and skeptics, including those involved with psychology and psychiatry (and the ever growing pharmaceuticals available to address an ever growing list of mental abnormalities, but often only “abnormal” within their belief systems).

Fortunately, in the U.S., merely expressing beliefs not in accordance with the prevailing official beliefs won’t get you in trouble, for the moment, anyway (things are different in China; usually, too, it’s odd _behavior_ that leads to someone being carted away and locked up, not just speech; fortunately, too, Puritans—who executed “witches”—are not in charge, again at least not for the moment).

The primary source of inspiration for my ambition is the pre-Internet Seth, supplemented by remembering various strong experiences from throughout my life.

Some pertinent quotes from _Seth Speaks_:

“...the native, basic, unfettered perception that is characteristic of the inner self, the inner self being the portion of the soul that is within you. The inner self knows its relationship with the soul. It is a portion of the self that acts, you might say, as a messenger between the soul and the present personality.” Session 527. (See also the exercise in Session 522.)

“His message will be that of the individual in relation to All That Is. He will clearly state methods by which each individual can attain a state of intimate contact with his own entity; the entity to some extent being man’s mediator with All That Is.” Session 586.

“You must also realize that while I use terms like “soul” or “entity,” “inner self,” and “present personality,” I do so only for the sake of convenience, for one is a part of the other; there is no point where one begins and another ends.” Session 527.

I don’t restrict myself to Seth’s words, however, while I expect to “hear” more from Jackson (Andrew Jackson Davis) on this and related topics.  (Needless to say, if Seth was pre-Internet, Davis was _very_ pre-Internet.)

Bill Ingle, Wed 2 Nov, 16:44

Amos and Bill,
Firstly to Bill, I went out having looked through your excellent references and went out and bought the book Seth Speaks. I looked up the section of telepathy which made a lot of sense to me. It fits in nicely with the thinking of others in the SPR.

(I need to use correct English to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition - Churchill is quoted as saying Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. NB Latin construction of verb at the end.)

I then looked at the Amos link (again excellent) and found the standard personality disorders that are always directed towards mediums. I picked up a psychology textbook one day at university to see how they were taught. The first chapter was Abnormal psychology. Anyone hearing voices would be considered delusional. (I always joke that watch out when they say Get the guns - bad joke but voices are usually found in mental cases). Memo to self don’t mention the voices.

I have conversations online and in-mind which I evaluate on the basis of making sense. If I bring through a historical figure I wait until I can trust the messenger as Jane mentioned in the Amos link.

I don’t play 20 questions. I have read lots of evidence that explain how the 20 questions were answered well, yet the researcher will not accept that the messages came from that person formerly known on earth as Mr or Ms X.

Mediums survive on their hit rate. Jane wanted to see if her hit rate was high away from Seth. To me that makes sense.

The talks I used to give to emerging mediums is that you will be considered strange, delusional and one step away from the loony bin. Any scientist who agrees with you will be also lumped in to this category. So why persist? What is the reason you do this? You have an obligation to tell their story. The SPR researchers did not stop researching when they passed to spirit. Seth and Patience are wanting their story to be told not for lasting fame but to help with earthly discussions.

Bruce Williams, Wed 2 Nov, 11:18

Sorry Bruce,
My last comment should have been addressed to Bill! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 1 Nov, 19:50

Hi Bruce,
I find the Seth material fascinating but there remains for me questions about its source. That is nothing new, I feel the same way about the source of the Patience Worth material and other channeled information from so-called spirits by other mediums. Even Jane Roberts and Pearl Curran were not exactly sure of the source of their dictation.  Each medium had her own style I guess and it is easier for me to relate to Pearl’s style and content than to Jane’s style of presentation and content.

I found an interesting paper by Paul Cunningham of the Department of Psychology, River college, Nashua, NH. There is no date on it but some of the references are dated 2010 so it might be rather recent. The title is “The Problem of Seth’s Origin: A Case study of the Trance-Possession Mediumship of Jane Roberts.” It provides several ideas about the source of the Seth persona.

Cunningham concludes by writing that “The published record of Jane Robert’s trance-possession mediumship suggests that fraud and cryptomnesia are highly improbable explanations.  The duration of the phenomena, the intelligibility and rationality of its content, and the phenomenological process underlying Jane Roberts’ communication with Seth all argue against the hypothesis that Seth is a production of incipient schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder.”

Cunningham quoted Professor Stephen Braude writing that, “To emphasize and expect fraud and trickery, cryptomnesia, or psychopathology in cases of mediumship is to raise what is essentially a misleading, though culturally expectable, response to an uncanny encounter.”

Cunningham continues by concluding that “Hypnotic self-suggestion may account for the production of the Seth-trance, but would not satisfactorily account for all aspects of the phenomenon considered in toto.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 1 Nov, 19:34

Thanks Don,
Interesting article from a psychiatrist assessing mental patients prior to exorcisms. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 1 Nov, 18:20


I don’t how familiar you are with what’s called the Seth material (a term that covers the entire output; Jane Roberts published an early book with that title with excerpts from sessions; later, Seth dictated entire books, beginning with _Seth Speaks_).

A list of books:

Search engine (will seem arcane to those unfamiliar with the books):

Additional info:

“ESP Class” refers to informal gatherings Jane and Rob held in their home, distinct from private “book dictation” sessions which were rather undramatic.  (Books have been written about those gatherings, including Seth’s comments in them, by members.)

Rob Butts, Jane Robert’s husband, was an essential part of Jane’s channeling.  He participated in every session from 1963 until Jane’s death in 1984 and devised his own shorthand system to take down Seth’s words. Per Seth, both Jane and Rob were inwardly connected with him. Rob added notes to sessions; if you should read one of Seth’s books and find these annoying, simply skip them.

Seth’s “You create your own reality” became a New Age slogan, but Seth meant this literally, on different levels, and “individually and en mass.”

He was referring to the physical reality each of us is creating from moment to moment.  The “telepathic coordination” concerns how, if you and I are sitting in the same room, we agree on the various physical parameters of the room and items in it, even though both of us are creating our own version of the room and its contents—our own unique physical continua. 

Seth’s purview was the nature of reality and our selves, making his material distinct from, say, physical or evidential mediumship, although he did discuss topics such as mediumship and the afterlife. (It’s also true that Jane, concerned early on that Seth had no validity independent of her, was extensively tested by a psychologist. Some of the test results had something in common with physical mediumship, while Seth confirmed his independent existence within the confines of the testing procedures.)

Much of reality creation is done unconsciously but Seth also stressed the importance of the conscious beliefs we hold in creating our realities. As such, it behooves us to examine our beliefs and modify them as necessary.

I find some of his material on communicating with those no longer physically embodied somewhat in conflict and definitely very different from what I learned in mediumship classes and from other sources (for example, what is a “worldview” and how is that different from “spirit?”).  Some of it, however, is excellent, and can be related to comments made by well known “psychical” researchers after their death.  Unfortunately, Seth made a firm point of never communicating through anyone other than Jane (“to maintain the integrity of the material”)—I can’t ask him for additional information.

Meanwhile, I’ve been casually reviewing physical mediumship and direct voice, immediately encountering “ectoplasm.”

Jane experimented with it, briefly; Seth spoke of it on several occasions.

I’m still pondering what I’ve come across and how it can be related to Seth’s physical reality creation. Needless to say, ectoplasm is strange stuff.

Regarding telepathy: Edgar Cayce said “thoughts are things.”  Seth spoke of the “electromagnetic validity” of thoughts.

Not long before she began to channel Seth, Jane Roberts had a spontaneous OOBE while writing; upon returning to her body, she discovered she’d written a short essay entitled: The Physical Universe as Idea Construction.

In addition to the _unconscious_ telepathy associated with reality creation, clearly anyone who communicates with another person, dead or alive, without using ectoplasm, EVP, the services of all involved with the Scole Experiment, lacking Marcello Bacci’s radio, etc., or, in the case of the living, any of the various physical means, uses it for communication.

But does anyone truly understand it or what it is?  Most, beyond skeptical idiots, know that “ESP” exists. Clearly humans are not restricted to the usual five physical senses.

More on this later.

Bill Ingle, Mon 31 Oct, 22:04

Responding to a comment you made the other day about the typical psychiatrist regarding possession (low-level or otherwise) as “pathological”—I just happened to see a Washington Post article written by a fellow named Richard Gallagher. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he has some credentials as a psychoanalyst—undergraduate at Princeton, Medical degree from Yale, psychoanalytic training at Columbia—and for roughly the past 25 years, has worked in conjunction with a variety of EXORCISTS around the country, advising them as to the psychiatric condition of their patients/clients prior to the possible beginning of an exorcism. Bottom line is that, while the evidence firmly indicates that the vast bulk of these cases do indeed have a psychological/psychiatric underlying cause, a significant number of them do NOT fit any medical profile, and can only be explained, as far as he can see, by “possession.”
    For a doctor with such high credentials to “go public” with that belief is obviously meaningful. The Post article is six years old, but if you want to take a look at it, it’s from July 1, 2016 and is available online.

Don Porteous, Mon 31 Oct, 18:02

The booklet reference is a gem. Thank you for providing such a seminal (is this now PC?) reference. The voices of the original players are present which gives me a feel for their veracity.
I am reminded of a story (I am beginning to sound like the father at The Kumars at No 42) about wax gloves. An article by a friend covers this debate:

When Kluski, who is a Polish banker, had sunk into a trance, and when the ectoplasmic figure was formed from him in a fashion already recorded and
photographed on many occasions with other mediums, it was asked to dip its hand into a pail which contained warm paraffin. All the observers saw it do so, and controlled the medium at the same time.
When the wax had encrusted the hands of the phantom it was asked to disappear. It did so, leaving the wax gloves which had formed over its hands upon the table.
And now comes the point which your correspondent has overlooked, and which is fatal to his theory of impersonation. The wax gloves, as anyone can see for themselves, are in one solid piece, and are much narrower at the wrist than
across the hand. How, then, could the hand have been withdrawn save by dematerialisation inside the glove. No one has ever yet suggested any feasible way in which this could have been done.

There is also an article on Grace Cooke who I am researching at present. I would also like to say that those people and spirits who were active in the past are still active in passing on messages.

Bill words - I can’t ignore his explanations of how each of us creates a unique space continuum, each person’s continuum “coordinated” telepathically with those of others in the same physical space. Bill, I am researching telepathy at the moment so I wouldn’t mind a hint of where to look.

Bruce Williams, Mon 31 Oct, 01:25

Jon Beecher provided a reference to a booklet “Reprinted by special request from THE INTERNATIONAL PSYCHIC GAZETTE for November and December” (year not given).  I recommend that anyone interested in the fine details of the Valiantine/Bradley tiff must read this complete article.  I think it provides more than enough information to show that Dennis Bradley may have falsely accused Valiantine of fraud.  It is truly a ‘sorry tale’.  There is also a response by George Valiantine which shows him to be a rather gentle simple soul, with a limited education.  I think that the article should put to rest who really is the culprit in this ‘Smash Spiritualism’ episode in the history of Spiritualism.  – AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 30 Oct, 20:28

Dear all,

On the matter of the claim that Valiantine cheated: James, on 26th October, gives us an ‘opening’ of a book published online by the SPR, and showing pages 398 and 399. I cannot bring pages 400 and 401 onto my screen, so have to make this response without anywhere near enough facts to justify responding at all, but the opening I can see provides not a single fact a scientist would rely on as evidence for either the view that Valiantine cheated or that he did not. As people say, God help us if that is the level of our scientific rigour when assessing what is purported to be evidence. We must be rigorous in our thinking, and no-one can be rigorous with just the two pages I can see. What is the title of the book, presumably by Salter, that deals with the matter, and how can one get hold of a copy or online display of the WHOLE book? With nothing less than the whole book does anyone have any possibility of arriving at the truth, and with just two pages, mostly of ‘hearsay’, in legal parlance, one deludes oneself if one thinks one has even useable evidence. Even our courts of law, low places, overrun by emotional casuistry that they are, claim to apply higher standards of rigour than the two pages shown by the SPR can enable us to exercise. I think Jon has already given us a valid and rigorous view of the matter, in his own comment, and Valiantine himself states the impossibility of making a clear toeprint when the foot has to be raised at the angle that would be required. Bradley must prove his point, and would probably fail laughably.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 30 Oct, 07:43

I recall reading somehere, not sure where, that the population of the spirit world is spread as if in a pyramid.  The vast majority are at the base of the pyramid while only a few are at the apex.  We in the physical world are on the ground around the base and therefore more easily influenced by those at the base.  Those at the top usually can’t be heard by those of us on the ground, although sometimes they can relay messages down through other levels.  Even then, the messages get distorted on their way down.  The lowest level might put a completely different twist on it than was intended in the original message from the apex and might even intentionally distort the message.  That’s why those nearest the middle and top gave up around 1900, i.e., they were frustrated at the misinterpretations and distortions.

Michael Tymn, Sun 30 Oct, 00:14

I saw a podcast where Elaine Thorpe is telling how she became a trance medium. It takes about 1,5 h but it is very interesting ,I think.

Chris, Sat 29 Oct, 19:48

Dear all,

I was considering whether to make a comment stating rather precisely the same view that Amos now describes in his latest observations. I believe he is right in all he says. We must somehow - and no-one should think it easy - learn to discern what is the calibre or standing of each individual spirit we encounter. I would add my own feeling that our own ethical character will surely be centrl to finding in ourselves the discernment we need. We should judge others (and then cautiously) only as stringently as we first more willingly judge yourselves.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 29 Oct, 11:53

I think what you said scares me the most—-that low-level spirits influence us at times.  I have often felt that that was true in my case for much of my life. Even my dreams seem to always be populated by lower level personalities. Matt Fraser, psychic medium, says that spirits of the deceased hover around their loved-ones at times, “watching over them”.  Oh, the horror!

You have posted articles about possession by spirits several times on this site and there are many variations of spirit possession or influence by discarnate beings on the living. That is the stock and trade of Halloween movies and other horror films.  The multiple personality cases may provide evidence of devious, low-level spirits influencing incarnate beings.  It seems so to me, although main-stream psychiatry, for the most part, treats these cases a brain pathology. -AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 28 Oct, 18:54


As you noted, mediums have their good days and their bad days.  There are a number of sittings noted in “Wisdom of the Gods” in which nothing much, if anything, was produced, i.e., “bad days” for Valiantine or for the spirits.  And there are apparently days in which otherwise good mediums are weak and when devious, low-level spirits can manipulate the phenomena. It might be argued that the low-level spirits influence us all, or at least attempt to, at various times. 

When I was a competitive runner many years ago, I did a study of biorhythms and concluded that there appears to be something to it. As I kept a diary of my daily workouts and races, I was able to go back over several years and noted that my best competitive efforts were related to the highs in my physical, mental, and emotional states based on the biorhythm charts, especially the physical.  They were all rarely at a high at the same time, but when all three were high there definitely seemed to be a positive correlation between biorhythm highs and exceptional performances. Of course, there was much gray in there, but I suspect there is something to biorhythms and that it applies to mediumship and most everything else. 

Noting how baseball players have their streaks, hitting five or six homers one week or more and then doing poorly for some time, I once attempted to study this and indications were that there was something to it, but it became too laborious and I gave up the study.

Michael Tymn, Fri 28 Oct, 04:18

I find “direct voice” mediumship intriguing.

I assume it’s rare today.  My mediumship teacher mentioned a couple that practiced it and acquired a trumpet from them (but despite her strong abilities, she was unsuccessful with it). 

I haven’t searched on-line but recall reading a description of its use at a “seance” that took place sometime in the last 20 or 25 years.  (I’ve never participated in a session in which direct voice was featured.)

I’m familiar with EVP/ITC, the Scole (and Norfolk) Experiments, Marcello Bacci’s radio, and various communications through televisions and other electronic devices as described by George Meeks in his newsletter.

Direct Voice would seem have something in common with these.

It would be very easy to amplify any sound waves coming through a trumpet and I wouldn’t be surprised if modern practitioners did this.

The key question, of course (and in all of the above), is how, exactly, those no longer physically embodied can create physical effects. This is certainly very distinct from standard mediumship or trance communication.

As someone who values Seth’s teachings, I can’t ignore his explanations of how each of us creates a unique space continuum, each person’s continuum “coordinated” telepathically with those of others in the same physical space—but this is accomplished through the physical senses while those no longer physically embodied lack those…

Bill Ingle, Fri 28 Oct, 04:04

Dear All,
The debate continues on the lines that if cheating by a medium is proven (or thought to be proven) then all evidence of other activities is therefore tainted.

Amos thanks for the background on the hypnotist with Pearl as any refusal by a medium for a test is also seen as a attempt to hide things from close forensic scrutiny.
The debate with Spiritualists about speaking in tongues goes something like this. Think of a sliding scale:
On the left is Glossolalia next is Xenoglossy (the question is that will anyone present understand the conversation?) On the right is Clear message. Some mediums are left of Clear message with “I have someone with the initials MT”.

Sliding scale argument goes:
Glossolalia - is it a form of emergent mediumship?
Will a clear message medium emerge?
Xenoglossy is acceptable to most mediums if the context is explained. Why should a Persian dialect be given to a group of non believers?

Glossolalia - I am in the camp that don’t believe that it is emergent mediumship. This is based on (only my experience) the lack of Clear Message mediums arising from Glossolalia activities. Some mediums can scan to see if controls are present. No spirit control then really just an odd activity.

Valiantine’s abilities seem to be judged by the fingerprint debate. I like Amos thinking that we should store DNA Fingerprints of famous people. I do think that the Controls of Stainton Moses might prove difficult.
The next problem is that if we store DNA Fingerprints how do you stop hackers obtaining a copy?
I see these discussions to be similar to the jury deliberations. Beyond reasonable doubt would be the direction by the judge. Which witness do we believe? Socks on under close supervision or socks and shoes being removed and skillful footwork leaving no traces of carbon on the toes?
Show of hands to see where we stand?

Bruce Williams, Fri 28 Oct, 02:59

It may be a far reach here, but maybe it could be that Valiantine was actually projecting the ‘fingerprints’, finger, toe and elbow, by a process called “thoughtography”.  Stephen E. Braude, PhD did a nice job of recounting psychiatrist doctor Jule Eisenbud’s relationship with Ted Serios in Braude’s book titled “The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations.”  Eisenbud wrote about his relationship with Ted Serios in “Thoughtgraphic Studies of an Extraordinary Mind”.  The second edition, published by White Crow Books, has a forward by Stephen Braude.

As I remember, Serios was able to project his thoughts as images onto camera film emulsion.  Although the results were not especially impressive and they were controversial, they did document that apparently Serios was able to project his thoughts onto film.  Some may recall that in the ‘Scole Experiments’, images also appeared on unexposed film during a séance. Since it apparently is possible for very rare people, living or dead to project their thoughts onto film emulsion, then perhaps one could similarly project one’s thoughts onto ‘smoked paper’ and soft wax as was used in the Valiantine experiments to obtain fingerprints.  The only prints that Valiantine either consciously, subconsciously or by intrinsic body memory knew about were his own and therefore those were the ones that appeared on the paper and in the wax.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 27 Oct, 20:52

After reading and rereading books and reports about many mediums for more than 60 years, it becomes obvious to me that too many people distant from the actual life of the medium, garble, manipulate and fabricate the activities of mediums. “Too many cooks spoil the brew!” There are often misunderstandings of what was written by others; half-truths, misquotes, gossip, lack of context or other inaccuracies, including outright intentional fabrications about the medium and what was said or done at a sitting.  One eventually comes to the conclusion that just about everything written about mediums has to be taken with a ‘grain of salt’.  One can be better informed by going back to documents written by people who were actually present at the time, who actually participated in a sitting.  Or preferably one should consider and give high credibility to written comments made by the medium himself or herself about what they do and how they do it.  I find it hard to believe that all or most of them, who are not outright exposed and documented frauds, are intentionally lying about what they say they do, e.g., Geraldine Cummins, Pearl Curran, Matt Fraser.

That is why the Patience Worth case in my opinion provides the best evidence of either reincarnation or spirit influence of embodied people.  It is hard evidence one can hold in one’s hand.  It is one of the ‘cleanest’ cases of mediumship.  Few if any people have been able to document fraud in that case and few people even attempt to denigrate it. Those that do, and I am aware of two people, come off looking like pompous twits, distant in time from Pearl Curran and simply trying to promote and exhibit their own erudition or fulfil requirements for an educational degree.

It is not an easy case to consider as one must tie together the history of Pearl Curran, her early childhood, her lack of education, knowledge of history or lack of it, limited knowledge of languages and lack of knowledge of geography and ancient cultures among other things most educated people know, with the quality and creativeness of the writing.  I find it mind-boggling to believe that Pearl Curran wrote a long medieval story or poem called “Telka” containing an innumerable amount of pure Anglo-Saxon words; and then to switch to Victorian modern English to write “Hope Trueblood” or to her own manufactured English in “The Sorry Tale” set in ancient Palestine.  Often Patience Worth would write two or more stories at the same sitting, tiring of one and picking up another, using one English dialect and then another quite different one. Pearl did this by vocalizing one letter at a time often for thousands of words at one sitting.  How many writers of today can do that?  Can anyone do that?  Try it with something you have memorized!

There is some question about how Pearl could be creating a story line and plot while reciting words one letter at a time. She must have had a two-track brain or, as some have conjectured, Patience Worth (or a group of entities) had constructed the story prior to the dictation of it to Pearl Curran.  That sounds likely to me as Patience Worth could switch from one story to another almost without a pause.

(Some people thought that Pearl Curran composed her stories ahead of the actual dictation at the Ouija board. That was unlikely since no one in her family or others reported Pearl laboring at her desk writing and rewriting and seeking out references for her stories.  She would have had to memorize what she had written prior to the sitting—-often thousands of words—-and then regurgitate them, letter by letter with various sitters at the Ouija board.)

One needs to consider the table talk of Patience Worth when she extemporaneously responded to questions and other conversations of people sitting at the Ouija board with Pearl Curran often writing a poem personalized for the nonce for a sitter in need of consoling.  Neither Pearl or Patience could have composed the poem ahead of time.

‘Patience Worth” may have composed her stories before dictating them to Pearl Curran but just like any other writer spoke off the cuff in her own native language when ‘out for an evening with friends.’  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 27 Oct, 19:05

Maybe sort of a joke from lower spirits pretending AC Doyle?

Chris, Thu 27 Oct, 18:54

Thanks Jon for the exract - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 27 Oct, 18:51


The appendix includes a booklet titled:

Exposure of Dennis Bradley.
Being an Account of his Efforts to Discredit a Famous
Direct Voice Medium and “Smash Spiritualism.”
Reprinted by special request from
for November and December.

Here’s an extract.


If Mr. Bradley thinks that feat is possible he ought to demonstrate it himself before independent witnesses. We challenge him to do it.
As for the paper on the blotting-pad on the top of the stool, to make a toe imprint on it would, it seems to us, be still more difficult. Even if the paper lay no higher than the seat of the medium’s chair, he might perhaps get an impression of the back of his heel by stretching forth his foot, but it is difficult to see how he could curve round his big toe to the paper to make any sort of imprint at all. But again Mr. Bradley will perhaps oblige by himself showing its possibility?
Then, even if these feats could be successfully accomplished by some extraordinary mobility of foot, no skin impressions could be made unless the experimenter’s shoes and socks were off, and there is no evidence at all that Valiantine’s were ever off. He was carefully guarded by three meticulous observers, who were only too ready to pounce on him and catch him flagrante delicto, had he made the slightest suspicious movement.
Also, if his toes had been pressed on the smoked paper, surely some sign of the carbon would have been found when Valiantine was afterwards stripped and examined, but no trace of any carbon was found on his toes or anywhere else.

Jon, Thu 27 Oct, 18:24

I have often wondered if mediums of the past, like Valiantine wore shoes and socks at the sittings.  I mean, if they did wear shoes and socks, wouldn’t it be difficult, unless they were slip-on’s to untie or unlace the shoes and remove them as well as the socks in order to make a toe print on smoked paper or soft wax; without any other sitter in a circle of people seated two-feet apart at the séance to detect the movement and gyrations of the medium doing that.  And then, he would have to put his socks and shoes back on so as not to be detected in his farce.  And, what a delicate touch it would take to just make a toe print—-in the dark—-rather than a print of other toes and the ball of the foot at the same. time.  And it seems to me that it would be very difficult to make a toe print without smudging the print on the smoked paper or wax.  And how convenient it would be to just happen to have a good finger print of Conan Doyle or others available to compare it with.  Did the FBI have a finger print on file for such a need.  Reportedly Valientine left finger prints of the “left side’ or “right side” of his finger. I wonder how accurate that comparison would be with a full- on print of Doyle?  Or did Doyle anticipate the need for the sides of his fingers and dutifully leave them for posterity.

This whole attack on Valiantine seems somewhat bogus to me.  Probably he was like a lot of other good mediums in that they had good days and bad days and sometimes they were tempted to fudge the results in order to put on a good show.  Mrs. Salter’s report has much to be desired in that she often makes vague generalized statements about Valiantine and his sittings, which she never attended apparently, relying heavily on comments in books written by other people. I tend to get weary reading her report and at times irritated by her obvious bias and lack of evidence to support what she writes. – AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 27 Oct, 17:35

Dr. Morton Prince (not Dr. Walter Franklin Prince), a prominent Boston psychiatrist offered to meet with Pearl Curran and her husband John Curran in Boston to determine the source of the Patience Worth material.  To do this, he wanted to hypnotize Pearl but she was reluctant to be hypnotized.  Her concern was that Dr. Prince would destroy the relationship she had with Patience Worth and therefore she refused lest she lose the ability to take dictation from Patience. There was much folderol about this meeting with Dr. Prince. Professor James Hyslop succumbed to rumors and insinuations and plain gossip about the meeting with Dr, Prince, all of which were untrue when he wrote his unfavorable critique of the book “Patience Worth: A Psychic Mystery” by Casper Yost.

Dr. Morton Prince was known for his classic study of Sally Beauchamp, a woman with ‘multiple personalities’ (now called “dissociative identity disorder”).  Ms. Beauchamp had five personalities, I think. Dr. Prince was able to merge four of them into one personality of Ms. Beauchamp. However, one alternate personality remained distinct which Dr. Prince could not integrate or eradicate. Pearl Curran may have been aware of Dr. Prince’s reputation to eradicate alternate personalities, and since Pearl herself was not sure of the source of the Patience Worth material she did not want to risk losing it.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 26 Oct, 23:14

Thanks, James, for the link.  The alleged cheating by Valiantine is discussed in the Afterword and Appendix of “Wisdom of the God.”  As you point out, it had to do with an attempt to get a finger print of the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and it turned out to be a toe print of Valiantine’s. It had nothing to do with voices, but one might argue that if he cheated on that occasion, why not all occasions. One might also ask if Valiantine was so stupid as to think his toe would pass for a thumb or finger. However, it is not entirely clear from the records if Valiantine was aware of what they were trying to achieve.  Bradley argued that low-level pirits were influencing Valiantine due to his having become too egotistical.  Bradley insisted that there could have been no cheating with the voices, but he was clearly upset by the matter and ended his friendship with Valiantine. Much of the appendix of the book deals with the fraud charges.  The other fraud charges you referred to seem to have been by people who refused to believe in spirit activity and therefore assumed Valiantine must have been cheating, even though they couldn’t explain it.

Michael Tymn, Wed 26 Oct, 23:06

Thank you, James,
The link to the Archive of the Proceedings of the SPR is welcome.  Mrs. W. H. Salter and Lord Charles Hope provided enlightening additional information about the controversial Valiantine sittings and his abilities as a medium.  It was especially informative to read their report of the sparsity of languages actually provided by Valiantine during his sittings.  One or two words or short phrases of a foreign language really is not good evidence that one, either in the body or out of the body can speak those languages, especially when the words are whispered or muffled as was the case in the Valiantine sittings.  Although apparently there were longer conversations in other languages, predominately Italian.  I myself fluently speak and write American English but I could probably provide several words or phrases in German, French, Italian, Old English and Spanish when hypnotized or in a light state of consciousness; maybe even a few words in Yiddish. Whymant is a puzzlement however as he reported that he understood an ancient Chinese language and that long portions of ancient Chinese recitations by Confucius were provided without any prompting by Whymant through Valiantine and Whymant publicly attested to that as a fact.

I find it curious that when taking fingerprints of spirits no one thought to put the smoked paper or soft wax on the fireplace mantel or some other elevated location, maybe even in the next room, rather than on the floor or on the table in front of Valiantine where he had easy access.  It would have been quite a feat for him to get his feet up to the top of the fireplace mantel for a print of his big toes.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 26 Oct, 22:39

Herbert Dennis Bradley later changed his mind and denounced Valiantine as a fraud in his book “And After”, published in 1931. However, it appears Bradley did believe the “spirit-voices” were genuine. So Bradley although he admitted that Valiantine was a fraud, he still believed in his earlier phenomena. I think this seriously weakens the case for Valiantine being a genuine medium.

There was an incident where Valiantine was caught making alleged spirit thumbprints with his toes at Dorincourt. You can read about the expose here

It says Bradley was able to show beyond doubt that Valiantine cheated by producing the ‘spirit’ thumbprints with his body parts, including his elbows and toes.

The above link is the most detailed biography of George Valiantine published by W. H. Salter in the Society for Psychical Research. If you read pages 400-401, Salter says there is strong evidence that Valiantine was cheating in his seances as early as 1923.

James, Wed 26 Oct, 11:28

To add to my comment about “speaking in tongues” and the question of whether that has to do strictly with the gibberish heard at some pentecostal services and usually referred to as glossolalia, I did a little further research and have concluded that both glossolalia and xenoglossy (actual foreign languages spoken through a person not knowing the language) are included under “speaking in tongues.”  In fact, Judge John Edmonds, one of the first psychical researchers, refers to his daughter Laura “speaking in tongues,” including French, Greek, Latin, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian and several dialects of Native American. He also mentions that his niece spoke in Spanish and sang in Italian. In his “Letters and Tracts on Spiritualism,” published in or about 1874, he gives many other examples of mediums speaking languages they are not familiar with.  However, indications are that they were all trance-voice mediums, not direct-voice mediums. Where one draws the line there, I don’t know.  I’m not even certain that the direct-voice mediumship of George Valiantine would be called xenoglossy, or xenolalia, since it is not coming directly from the medium. I don’t think grammarians have considered the difference.

Michael Tymn, Wed 26 Oct, 03:58

Dear all,
I do like the correct names that Michael used. Pentacostal Churchs like glossolalia. Like (verb Old English lician “to please, be pleasing, be sufficient). Sorry if any lexical ambiguity has occurred in any of my sentences but speaking in tongues is a hot issue to mediums.

Glossolalia is strange concept to mediums. It is accepted by certain churches but prophecy is not well accepted by the same churches. You point this out this inconsistency with a reference again in the Bible.
Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. Corinthians 14:22

As for giving any messages to those in the Church, that is the work of the devil. So when you get in to discussions at Pentecostal Churches they love glossolalia but hate xenoglossy. Think of Spiritualist Churches as liking xenoglossy.

Spiritualists don’t use the term speaking in tongues as there is this latent ambiguity.
Nice article A Case of Xenoglossy and the Nature of Consciousness is at

A bit of trivia for Amos. I read that Pearl Curran refused to be hypnotized in her lifetime. A doctor once tried to hypnotize me but my mind created a series of doors each slamming shut to stop the hypnotist from entering. The phrase corridors of your mind explains this setup with a door closed at the end of a corridor.The hypnotist gave up on me (he was not happy).

Bruce Williams, Wed 26 Oct, 01:23

Dear all,

On the matter of prophecy, that is the speaking out by inspiration from a deity or high spirit or the receiving of personal guidance by a species of ‘mediumship’, I once asked for a certain result or effect from a daring (some would say presumptuous) prayer affecting another person, the prayer only uttered after finding myself unable to shake several DAYS of strong inner conviction that I must speak to that person by actively prophesying the hoped-for result. Having “prophesied”, I received, when alone, and by what we might call a species of direct voice, the terse instruction to go to a certain place at a certain time only an hour or so ahead. Nothing more. No promise that the prayer would be answered - just the instruction to be obeyed with precision as to time and place. The hoped-for result happened within twenty minutes of arriving at the place, and its effect is still the status quo now, fifty years later. Details on request if you give me your email address.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 25 Oct, 14:19

Further to my last comment, I am not even sure xenoglossy would apply to the direct or independent voice, as the medium is not doing the speaking.  I’ll have to give this more thought after a night’s sleep.

Michael Tymn, Tue 25 Oct, 11:24

“Speaking in tongues” is likely a poor choice of words on my part, as I gather that it taken today to refer primarily to the gibberish that comes through at Pentecostal services, also referred to as “glossolalia,” while “xenoglossy” refers to an actual language foreign to the person speaking. Various references categorize both as “speaking in tongues,” but apparently most people today take it to be synonymous with glossolalia.

Michael Tymn, Tue 25 Oct, 11:21

Against whom is the joke/jibe that gives rise to Amos’s laugh of the day? His comment is ambiguous. Is he laughing at the sceptical SPR member who thought Valiantine a subconscious absorber of Chinese language, or at Whymant (assuming Whymant to be honest, as we surely can) for recognizing a rare example of what lay within his own expertise, namely an ancient Chinese dialect, a misreading of a few Chinese words, and other abstruse linguistic matters? Amos is completely unclear on this point.

And Bruce’s comment contains two sentences, one mentioning me, without main verbs, so one is unable to interpret them, and these non-sentences are consequently equally without meaning.

A little more intellectual rigour is indicated, I think, and then the comments will have even more value.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 25 Oct, 11:10

Dear Keith Parsons,

I am glad to see that you are still making comment, and, presumably, still making your remarkably fine videos.

Some modern instances of ‘speaking in tongues’ have, I am assured by some Christian writers, (such as John Sherrill, and there may have been others) are in languages known to humans of other ethnicity than the speaker, and have even been appropriate to the stranger who hears the utterances, in both the meaningfulness of the messages and the choice of the language of the person for whom the message was spoken.

My present tentative frame of understanding has to be that what we call mediumship, what we term prophecy, and what might be called personal guidance, whether given mediately or directly by God, are all instances of the same phenomenon, but can be the utterances of spirits of low ethic, so that we have the responsibility to discern the source. This is a responsibility that can seem heavy, being beyond our ability and therefore a matter of trust, but Stainton Moses was of the view that we do have that responsibility. Perhaps this means that we have to move away from hanging upon “God’s apron strings” and dare to apply our own judgement in solving ethical problems. As the Apostle Paul claims somewhere, “we are shut up to faith” (KJV), that is to say we have no alternative but to trust. We ultimately have no other way. In simple language (and why use any other?), trust God, and trust Him/Her to be trustworthy (for it is surely an insult to God to think Her/Him other than trustworthy. This was even said to be “the conclusion of the whole matter” somewhere around 800BCE, and it seems it still is. When one doubts (and when does one not?) still trust the Great Being.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 25 Oct, 06:32

Dear All,
The speaking in tongues has always intrigued me. Usually it is a babel of nonsensical utterings. I expect a clear voice to come through. My thinking is that they are picking up static/noise rather than the signal. However as Eric points out that certain groups like this. The power comes upon you and you respond. It is like the spirit box used in paranormal investigations.
I like clear messages such as Archie Roy. This is copied from Glasgow’s Ghost Buster. (I know that Michael was lucky enough to interview him - he is like the Parky of the After Life group.)
In the 1990s, Archie sat in on one of the Scole Experiment sessions, investigating cross communication. He was too busy at the time to have a larger role, but had quite an interesting experience, when one of the spirits in communication began having a complex debate about astronomy with him, regarding calculating the orbit of satellites and planets. He said that it dawned on him only a handful of people would have had the expertise to discuss astronomy at that level. He hadn’t mentioned the fact that he was one of the country’s leading astronomers!

Clear communications. Now if a medium springs to his/her feet in these Churches and delivers a message, then he/she is asked to leave. They might point out Corinthians 14:1-40:
The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
So my point of view is that speaking in tongues is very vague and even needs to be replaced with meaning. I just see that for Valiantine the message was delivered in the right language.

Prophesy is a tough gig. You get asked your view and when it comes true you realize that they didn’t heed or they didn’t understand.

Bruce Williams, Tue 25 Oct, 00:52

“One of the SPR memembers commented that more and more “Chinamen” were coming to America and Valiantine probably picked up a little of the language by overhearing them.”

Thanks Michael for the laugh of the day! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 24 Oct, 23:12

Keith is exactly correct.  “Speaking in Tongues” is not the same as direct voices speaking in different known languages.  “Speaking in tongues” as is part of some religious practices is like “abba dabba do” on and on is a rant meaning nothing.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 24 Oct, 23:04


The recording you mentioned was for the Society for Psychical Research.  I can’t immediately find my record of that sitting, but, as I recall, Professor Whymant sat in on one of them and agreed that the audio was not very good.  However, I’m pretty sure he did confirm the language as a Chinese dialect.  One of the SPR memembers commented that more and more “Chinamen” were coming to America and Valiantine probably picked up a little of the language by overhearing them. So much for rational and logical thinking. 

There are many books and journal articles on “spirit” voices which indicate that the strength of the voice is dependent on the conditions of the seance as well as the power of the medium. If the conditions are right, i.e., proper harmony among the sitters and medium, without negativity and hostility, and the medium is sympathetic to the harmonious vibrations, the voice then comes through loud and clear.  Such does not appear to have been the case in the SPR sitting.

Michael Tymn, Mon 24 Oct, 21:40

As a University student I heard a fellow student who was an evangelist ‘speaking in tongues’. Frankly it was totally incoherent, sounding like so much gobbledegook. So I think we need to separate this kind of speaking from coherent messages coming through mediums in an identifiable language. Given the amazing tale that Mike has reported above, one might expect Valiantine to be acknowledged as a truly remarkable man. That Bradley should subsequently turn on his friend and charge him with fraud has a suspicious side to it. One article in defence of Valiantine claimed Bradley, having decided to adopt Roman Catholicism, and to please the church Establishment (which did not approve of such mediumship) determined to rubbish Valiantine for what he had previously, on occasion, called “the most staggering event of my life”. We have every incentive to be suspicious of Bradley. Thanks Mike for this startling blog.

Keith P in England, Mon 24 Oct, 20:08

Accepting that there were in fact direct voices speaking in a multitude of different languages, how does one explain that they were produced by fraudulent means?  It is unlikely that any one person is conversant with as many languages manifested by Valiantine, especially George Valiantine who had a meager education.  Supposedly, Whymant knew 30 languages, including ancient Chinese but he was not present at all of Valiantine’s sittings when different languages were reportedly spoken by disembodied entities.  Even 30 languages are an amazing number of languages for one person to be able to understand or speak.  And how do Valiantine’s thumb prints and “elbow’ prints negate the validity of the direct voices?  If the finger-print fraud is true, how is that relevant to the voices? (How could Valiantine be so uninformed as to think that his elbow print or toe print would be accepted as a fingerprint?)

I understand that there is a recording of a sitting when the Chinese language was spoken but that it was difficult to hear and translate.  I forgot who listened and reported about it but it may have been members of the SPR who were dubious that it was legitimate.

All in all, I have to accept Neville Whymant’s account of his conversations with K’ung-fu-tzu as he documented in his little book titled “Psychic Adventures in New York.”  I just can’t see that Professor Neville Whymant would jeopardize his reputation as a scholar and linguist by publishing his encounter with the spirit of ‘Confucius’ if he did not believe it were true. (Maybe it wasn’t Confucius who spoke but nevertheless it was a mindboggling account.) - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 24 Oct, 19:33

“We need some doubt to carry out the divine plan”?
Well yes, but mixed in with other quaities and attributes.  Faith, intuition and a cosmic sense of humour, they all really help to roll the cart up the hill (and down the other side).

gordon phinn, Mon 24 Oct, 16:56

Dear all,

The thought that ‘speaking in tongues’ is evidence of the existence of a spirit world is an interesting idea, new at least to me. It requires, like so much else, a new perspective on established facts.

A related surprising idea is that for a Christian to receive the “baptism of the spirit”, and so speak in tongues, is to be possessed by a spirit communicating from another world (which would be acknowledged as true but inappropriately-worded by those Christians) but also as ipso facto becoming a medium (which would be vigorously repudiated by those same Christians. But the true explanation may have eluded them, and the new notions might be the truth of the matter. Christians, like all otehrs, need to cast words, verbal formulae, dogmas, laws, aside, and just be, contemplatively, not combatively.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 24 Oct, 11:49

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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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