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Long before the White Crow, there was Catherine Crowe

Posted on 17 July 2023, 7:44

The so-called “Rochester Knockings,” referring to the “rappings” phenomenon experienced by the Fox sisters in the hamlet of Hydesville, just outside Rochester, New York, on March 31, 1848, is often cited as the advent of what came to be called Spiritualism, a belief based on communication with spirits of the dead. One might get the impression that before the Fox sisters there was no evidence of any kind that we live on in a larger world.  However, that is clearly not the case.

That very year, 1848, The Night Side of Nature: Or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers by Catherine Crowe, (below) a renowned English author, was published by George Routledge and Sons of London and New York. All indications are that the book was authored before Crowe had heard of the Fox sisters. There is no mention of them in the book and most of the phenomena mentioned in the book clearly took place before 1848. Crowe discussed apparitions, doppelgangers, deathbed phenomena, dreams, clairvoyance, and other psychic phenomena suggesting a spirit world.


One reference gives Crowe’s years on the earth plane as 1803 to 1876, another as 1790 to 1872.  She is referred to as an English novelist, playwright, writer of social and supernatural stories, and “the original ghosthunter.”  She is also remembered for translating and publishing, in 1845, the first English version of Dr. Justinus Kerner’s 1829 book, The Seeress of Prevorst, the name given to Frederika Hauffe (1801-1829), a German mystic and clairvoyant.

‘They are afraid of the bugbear, Superstition….”

“We are all educated in the belief of a future state, but how vague and ineffective this belief is with the majority of persons, we too well know,” Crowe stated in the introduction of her 1848 book, “for although the number of those who are called believers in ghosts, and similar phenomena, is very large, it is a belief that they allow to sit very lightly on their minds. They feel that evidence from within and from without is too strong to be altogether set aside, but they have never permitted themselves to weigh the significance of the facts.  They are afraid of that bugbear, Superstition – a title of opprobrium which it is convenient to attach to whatever we do not believe ourselves.” 

Discounting stories of the ferryman and the three-headed dog, Crowe concluded that some stories relating to “what awaits us when we have shaken off the mortal coil,” may have some foundation in truth. She pointed out that in the seventeenth century credulity outran reason and discretion, but the eighteenth century “flung itself into an opposite extreme.”  She speculated that interest in the subject at the time of her writing the book was at its lowest point ever. “The great proportion of us live for this world alone, and think very little of the next; we are in too great a hurry of pleasure or business to bestow any time on a subject which we have such vague notions – notions so vague, that, in short, we can scarcely by any effort of the imagination bring the idea home to ourselves; and when we are about to die we are seldom in a situation to do more than resign ourselves to what is inevitable, blindly meet our fate; whilst, on the other hand, what is generally called the religious world, is so engrossed by its struggles for power and money, or by its sectarian disputes and enmities; and so narrowed and circumscribed by dogmatic orthodoxies, that it has neither inclination nor liberty to turn back or look around, and endeavour to gather up from past records and present observations, such hints as are now and again dropped in our path to give us an intimation of what the truth may be.”

As she saw it, another change in worldview was approaching, as it apparently did with the Fox sisters. “The contemptuous scepticism of the last age is yielding to a more humble spirit of inquiry; and there is a large class of persons amongst the most enlightened of the present, who are beginning to believe that much which they had been taught to reject as fable, has been, in reality, ill-understood truth.”

Andrew Jackson Davis, known as the “Poughkeepsie Seer,” is not mentioned by Crowe, probably because he lived in far-away America and did not begin to make a name for himself as a clairvoyant until 1846, when he was just 20 years old. In his 1847 book, Principles of Nature, Davis recorded, allegedly by means of automatic writing from the spirit world: “It is a truth that spirits commune with one another while one is in the body and the other in the higher spheres – and this, too, when the person in the body is unconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced of the fact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form of a living demonstration.  Then, in his diary, on March 31, 1848, he recorded: “About daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face and I heard a voice, tender and strong, saying, ‘Brother, the good work has begun – behold, a living demonstration is born.’ I was left wondering what could be meant by such a message.”  As stated, on that very same day, the Fox sisters had their first experience with the rappings.

Crowe’s book preceded Darwinism by a dozen years, but it is now clear that the tide did change somewhat with Spiritualism and more so with the formation of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882, before again receding during the hedonism of the “Roaring 20s,” advancing again during the 1970s with NDEs, past-life studies, and other research, then again receding over the past 20 years. We seem to be at a very low tide at this time.   

“It makes me sorrowful when I hear men laughing, scorning, and denying this their birthright….”

Crowe recognized that the phenomena she discussed in her book had no scientific or philosophical value.  “We must confine ourselves wholly within the region of opinion,” she wrote, stating that to go beyond opinion “we shall assuredly founder.” She further recognized that many enlightened people would scoff and sneer at the phenomena.  “I confess it makes me sorrowful when I hear men laughing, scorning, and denying this their birthright; and I cannot but grieve to think how closely and heavily their clay must be wrapt around them, and how the external and sensuous life must have prevailed over the internal, when no gleam from within breaks through to show them these things are true.”

Generally, many of the phenomena of Crowe’s era were referred to as “spectral illusions,” but it was becoming increasingly clear that some went beyond illusion. “It is true that some of the phenomena resulting from [human] faculties are simulated by disease, as in the case of spectral illusions,” she wrote, “and it is true that imposture and folly intrude their unhallowed footsteps into this domain of science, as into that of all others, but there is a deep and holy well of truth to be discovered in this neglected by-path of nature, by those who seek it, from which they may draw the purest consolations for the present, the most ennobling hopes for the future, and the most valuable aid in penetrating through the letter into the spirit of Scriptures.”

Crowe claimed that Germany was well ahead of England and the rest of the Western world in its search for the soul of man. In addition to the research carried out by Kerner with Hauffe and others with psychic abilities, Crowe cited that of Dr. Karl von Reichenbach, a German chemist remembered for his study of what he called the Odic Force, apparently an earlier name for ectoplasm, and Dr. Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, who also studied psychic matters.  “It is a distinctive characteristic of that country, that, in the first place, they do think independently and courageously,” she wrote.

“[A]nd, in the second place, that they never shrink from promulgating the opinions they have been led to form, however new, strange, heterodox, or even absurd, they may appear to others.  They do not succumb, as people do in this country, to the fear of ridicule, nor are they in danger of the odium that here pursues those who deviate from established notions; and the consequence is that, though many fallacious theories and untenable propositions may be advanced, a great deal of new truths is struck out from the collision, and in the result, as must always be the case, what is true lives and is established, and what is false dies and is forgotten. 

“But here in Britain our critics and colleges are in such haste to strangle and put down every new discovery that does not emanate from themselves, or which is not a fulfilling of the ideas of the day, but which, being somewhat opposed to them, promises to be troublesome from requiring new thought to render it intelligible, that one might be induced to suppose them divested of all confidence in this inviolable law; whilst the more important, and the higher the results involved may be, the more angry they are with those who advocate them. They do not quarrel with a new metal or a new plant, and even a new comet or a new island stands a fair chance of being well received; the introduction of a new planet appears, from late events, to be more difficult, whilst phrenology and mesmerism testify that any discovery tending to throw light on what most deeply concerns us, namely our own being, must be prepared to encounter a storm of angry persecution.

“And one of the evils of this hasty and precipitate opposition is that the passions and interests of the opposers become involved in the dispute; instead of investigators, they become partisans; having declared against it in the outset, it is important to their petty interests that the thing shall not be true, and they determine it shall not, if they can help it.” 

Some 175 years have passed since Crowe wrote those words and little seems to have changed in our search for the soul.

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:  July 31


Mr Oliver.

I understand your frustration, when I activate the automatic translation of the videos the same thing happens to me, it is sometimes difficult to understand the general idea.
With the translations of Chico Xavier into Spanish I have not observed this problem, obviously it also depends on how the translator makes the necessary adjustments in the sentences to give it a better meaning in the target language, it is something very necessary to give coherence to the text, in The Spanish language, for example, requires an order and adds words that articulate to give meaning to the text.

My excellent translations are thanks to Google’s translator, so these compliments go to its programmers, I see that it doesn’t do such a bad job since it manages to understand my ideas, I don’t know much about other languages so I use that tool for translations, but Following that idea, I could suggest you find a version of Javier’s books in Portuguese or Spanish and use the Google tool to translate it, maybe it can give you a better translation, you could also do a search in some site of the English or American spiritist community which very often offer free copies of many relevant authors of the spiritist movement, the vast majority of those copies being translated by community volunteers who possibly offer a better translation than the publishers. I have a PDF of Chico Xavier’s books in Spanish that if they are useful to carry out the test I can share with you.

Mr Williams

Your observations in terms of language are very accurate, certainly that happened to me with the video of Mr. Nick, some words come out unexpectedly in the translation cutting with the coherence of the sentence, obviously the accents and expressions of a certain area are not taken into account. account by the translator, and as he well comments, even if we spoke the same language and being within the same country, each person makes expressions typical of the region where they grew up that have a meaning and idea that are not understandable by outsiders, for some reason the origin of the Language continues to be a total mystery and the exceptional human demonstrates that although we are the same species, we do not communicate in the same way.

As for the terrible story that Mr. Tymn tells us, it leaves a lot to think about, we really don’t know if Lori experienced an NDE but certainly each one will interpret her experience in their own way, but I must say that she tries to use an excuse to justify her actions and He will look for the most convenient way to get rid of the responsibility that he now faces, he also knew very well what he did otherwise he would not have fled.

The problem of evil has always been a challenge for everyone, that is why many people deny the existence of God since they consider evil unrecognizable with the idea of a creator, obviously for many, where I include myself, the idea of evil is not opposed to of a creator, as Mr. Alvin Plantinga has mentioned, evil is part of free will, if God had made us infinitely good or bad, free will simply would not exist, God had to choose between a universe without conscious beings free from evil or one with conscious beings but with the presence of evil, even so we all know that there is an objective morality and we understand very well that there are abhorrent acts that we cannot tolerate.

Lori’s case from a materialistic and physicalist point of view could not be considered abhorrent, since everything is determined by chemistry and genes, there are no good or bad acts, crimes are simply the effort of genes to ensure their survival. This tactic of avoiding responsibility shielded by genes or any materialistic justification is not new, let’s remember that in the trials against the Nazis many of them used these arguments to be considered innocent, let’s not forget the social Darwinism and eugenics that led to the Genocide and racism in Africa during the fourteenth century.

In the end those who try to persuade us that there is no afterlife cannot offer a better view of such abhorrent acts either.

Kevin A., Sat 12 Aug, 22:13

Thanks again Bruce for the Conan-Doyle link and pleased you found your missing part. If you mean what’s my interest in Spiritualism in general I would say I mainly got into it after the passing of a close relative propelled me into finding some kind of meaning into it all. I prefer to let things happen in a natural unfolding way rather than try to control a situation which is why after much thought I decided not to seek out mediums or rather let them find me might be a better way to explain it. It’s my feeling that a lot seems to be done from the other side with regard to making contact and if a deceased relative really wants to get in touch they will somehow find a way. I was expecting to have felt the presence of the relative who had passed on as I lived in the same house for many years with them but after over a year I have had nothing I could honestly say was an indication that they were somehow still around from time to time except for one incredible experience I had within a few days of them passing which I described in detail under my ‘Dave Harrison’ posts (don’t ask smile  but it’s also my first name but I’ll stick with Mark for now wink ) on one of Michaels’ previous Blogs So you’ll realise it was my mother who is the relative if you are aware of those posts. Even though I have read lots of articles on the subject since that have given me much more hope and conviction the experience I had shortly after my mother had passed is what has given me the strength to carry on as I believe it was something of what I could only describe as being of a divine origin and certainly something not of this realm.

Mark Harrison, Thu 3 Aug, 15:57

Thanks for the Australian link. I was trained in a nearby church group. They have missed a few details but still a good coverage.
The section
1975 Prior to this, anything connected to Mediumship, clairvoyance, psychics and any other connection to the paranormal, was illegal to do so in Australia. (See the Witchcraft Act, which was then the Vagrancy Act).  This was unique in itself, as it allowed previously illegal acts to become legal.
I was trained as a minister to afford legal protection - our Australian Constitution allows Freedom of religion if approved religion (500 followers under Census). The person who framed the Australian Constitution was a Spiritualist, so job well done.

Prior to 1975 there were flower readings to avoid prosecution. It was tricky. My mother visited one at Enmore with my brother in early 1970’s. A funny story for another time.

You are probably aware of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles History of Spiritualism

In the Preface Sir Arthur acknowledges Leslie Curnow (an Australian) for his analysis:
“It was clear that such a work needed a great deal of research—far more than I in my crowded life could devote to it. It is true that my time was in any case dedicated to it, but the literature is vast, and there were many aspects of the movement which claimed my attention. Under these circumstances I claimed and obtained the loyal assistance of Mr. W. Leslie Curnow, whose knowledge of the subject and whose industry have proved to be invaluable. He has dug assiduously into that vast quarry; he has separated out the ore from the rubbish, and in every way he has been of the greatest assistance. I had originally expected no more than raw material, but he has occasionally given me the finished article, of which I have gladly availed myself, altering it only to the extent of getting my own personal point of view.”

I moved from readings of people to what I term corporate work. This is dealing with spirit groups which have less personal messages more good practice. Your last link actually helped find a missing piece to a puzzle that I am working on.

May I ask why the interest?

Bruce Williams, Thu 3 Aug, 01:37

Thanks Mark for the list.  Very impressive!- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 2 Aug, 18:47

Thanks so much Bruce for the info and story regarding your book if I can navigate the link I will certainly give it a read.
Some might find it interesting that there is a rough history of Spiritualism here but not much mention of it post 2000. I dare say there could be many other reputable names added that have been left out but it gives a general idea.

Mark Harrison, Wed 2 Aug, 13:14

The story of Lori Vallow, as reported on the internet today, might be seen as one reason we are not supposed to have absolute certainty of life after death.  She was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing her two children and her husband’s ex-wife.  A sidebar story said something to the effect that she “visited heaven” while giving birth to one of her children, apparently an NDE, and it was so beautiful that she knows they are better off now than they were here, or words to that effect.

Michael Tymn, Tue 1 Aug, 06:21

It is amazing that there were two similar co-joined twins from the same area. I assumed that the reports in Columbia had a different translation of names. I was amazed to find that you knew of the story.

I was always fascinated by ambiguity - a good discussion is

Clarity of expression was needed in one of my roles as I needed to write instructions for bomb work. Also sending secure telexes needed pristine explanation. Moving between Spanish and English is difficult. The best example is the Youtube link that Mark provided. The talker is Nick with a Scottish accent which throws out the voice to text translator. I watch the translation with “tears running down my cheeks” (I used a global expression rather than the Australian version smile) as certain words are inserted with no connection to the original meaning.

English dialects throw Spanish speakers. My daughter is good friends with girls from the Canary Islands (these friends also studied languages at University). They were always trying to understand my daughters Australian expressions. These girls had traveled the world and were in tears from common expressions.
See also

I have a theory (unproved) that communication between the after life and ours requires a medium with the dictionary of words but also a set of language expressions which allows better communication. An Aussie spirit coming through a Spanish medium would be very difficult.
My first spirit guide was nicknamed Mr Inca so South American thinking holds a special place in my development.

Bruce Williams, Mon 31 Jul, 03:09

I have been trying to read the English translation of Chico Xavier’s book “In the Domain of Mediumship:  Life in the Spirit World,” transmitted by spirit André Luiz. I haven’t finished it yet because of the bad translation into English.  I have not read “Nosso Lar” but I did see the movie which I thought was well done but seemed to be more of a fictional story rather than an actual depiction of what the spirit world may be like. (or at least what I would think it might be like.)  I think there is a need for a good translator of Xavier’s books into English.  You seem to provide excellent translations from Spanish to English so maybe you could be the one who translates Chico’s books from Portuguese into English if you are also as fluent in Portuguese. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 30 Jul, 19:16

Again, thanks to all for the comments over the past two weeks.  As I have said many times at this blog, which I believe is consistent with what Michael Prescott said in the last comment, we should not expect ‘absolute certainty’ as that would conflict with what seems to be the Divine Plan.  The objective is move from blind faith to true faith, or conviction.  On to another subject tomorrow.

Michael Tymn, Sun 30 Jul, 08:20

Thanks for the information Mr. Williams.

Although as such I was referring to two Canadian sisters named Krista and Tatiana, until now it has not been known that they were separated, the case that you mention of the sisters Trishna and Krishna who by their names I imagine are somewhere in India or Bangladesh It could have had some of the characteristics that I mentioned in the case of the Canadian sisters.

The brief history of CEOS regarding translations of expressions between cultures and languages can be particularly difficult, this reminds me of Mr. Oliver’s concern in the English version of Nosso Lar, obviously the expressions are conditioned on the cultural meaning given to them. assigned so that for a foreign reader it will not have the same meaning or seek to interpret it according to their own, so it is something very true.

That happens to me a bit with the videos that I watch in English and subtitles with automatic translation into Spanish, like the one shared by Mr. Harrison, by the way, thank you very much, it’s very interesting, although I’m having a hard time understanding it because of the translation issue .

Mr. Prescott’s observations are very interesting, I have read his blog as part of my intense search, without a doubt the interpretation of virtual reality and being actors of an avatar is quite widespread but as he mentions it is frustrating and unclear, I see more the incarnation as a need to experience as if the incarnations were chapters in a book, but in turn all the chapters contribute to the development of a total idea.
Certainly the belief of the afterlife does not stop being a belief, but all beliefs as well as many legends have developed from a real fact or very close to reality, the curious thing is that cultures separated by thousands of kilometers without any contact have that notion of the afterlife. there, although it is true that possibly at some point all the cultures of the world could have arisen from a common group and for this reason they all share that notion, it does not explain its causes or its origins. As mysterious as the origin of life itself.
Now I’m reading the first issue of Seth Speaks, very interesting at the moment, many things have a certain relationship with the topic of the holographic universe, which I’m investigating a bit too.

I would very much like to know Mr. Oliver’s conclusions when he finishes reading Nosso Lar, it will be very interesting.

I would also like to discuss the issue of research as mentioned by Mr. Prescott, to some extent it seems stagnant and it really worries me a lot as many of the parapsychological researchers seem to be closing their chapter and we don’t have a new generation that is interested, I am very Interested in starting my own research especially with EVP phenomena but I’m really confused where to start and Mrs. Anabella Cardoso’s videos are not very clear to me.

Kevin A., Sat 29 Jul, 23:31

I think there are two main reasons why progress in this area periodically seems to stall out. First, many people approach the subject with a materialist bias. You see this in attempts to construct a machine (like George Meeks’s Spiricom) that can connect with the other side. IMO such connections aren’t a matter of technology, but rather of raising one’s consciousness.

Second, the purpose of physical incarnation would be largely defeated if we saw it as a kind of play-acting. It’s like a fully immersive virtual reality game — we’re meant to commit to it, not to take off the headset and see the game as an illusion. The universe has its way of telling us, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Rare individuals like yogic masters may transcend the physical, but if the greater part of humanity ever did, the game would be over.

People sometimes counter this point by saying that in more traditional societies belief in an afterlife is widespread. But belief isn’t the same thing as direct knowledge. The shamans etc who may have such knowledge typically live apart from the community and share their secrets only with a chosen few. The same has been true of esoteric movements like Gnosticism or the ancient Greco-Roman mystery religions, which concealed their true teachings from outsiders. To this day we don’t know the nature of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were kept secret under penalty of death.

Michael Prescott, Sat 29 Jul, 17:53

Thanks for the fantastic Youtube link. You have a plethora of paranormal posts.
To correct your view of the price of my book, it is free. The Academia link allows you to download the chapters. The front cover was missing hence the Amazon link. Not sure how they listed it. I have a few copies but mainly for family.

It was late 1996 and I had written the book while at work (compiling the sections from various typists). I was leaving work and as it was a computer with access to highly sensitive material it needed to be wiped (to the point that low level programs would not be able to open it). 

I had contacted the publishers about the desired format which they said Microsoft Word 12 font. I sent this across and they then told me that they were Mac based and couldn’t read Windows Word. Please reformat it to 14pt and print it out so we would scan it in. The reformat knocked out the paragraphs. My computer was wiped the next day so the Word documents lost their tidy format. Not much call for the book so I put it on Academia. (My cybersecurity articles are on Reseachgate).

There were funny stories in writing the book. I looked up a catalog in a large university library. No copy of the book. I went to look for another book and was told (not sure who was it) to go down a few more isles and look at a certain shelf. There is was, the desired book. I had to go down to the office to borrow the book that didn’t exist. I joked as it is not in your catalog is it yours? Librarians have no humour. It took them two weeks to catalog it for me to borrow.

Bruce Williams, Mon 24 Jul, 11:11

My apologies I meant to put a link up for the interview mentioned previously. That young fella with the handlebar moustache has done some very good interviews that include the likes of Stewart Alexander, Dr. Bruce Greyson, Raymond Moody et al. I also meant steam and not smoke that the French team were using inside a steam chamber and not a vacuum.

Mark Harrison, Sun 23 Jul, 17:47

It’s impressive to hear about a woman so far ahead of her time and so willing to face the headwinds of materialist/skeptics.  I admire that sort of courage.  Thanks for bringing her to our attention. 

I’m not sure how optimistic/pessimistic I am about the field and its progress.  One the one hand, I see reasons for hope (we have new areas opened up now, new scientific tools, new public awareness, the internet to spread the info).  And on the other hand, the materialistic bias is so entrenched in the sciences and media. 

My attitude is, I’m not going to hold my breath, waiting for mainstream science or society to catch up. And I’m not going to waste my energy trying to convince them.  Skeptics are welcome to their materialist worldview.  I’m going ahead.

Ed Anderson, Sun 23 Jul, 15:59

Thanks Bruce for mentioning about your book with William Blake’s painting on the front. It would be interesting to read if I can ever track a copy of it down but the price of that one far exceeds my pocket money. wink
Incidentally if anyone is interested I recently listened to a very interesting interview on Youtube by Nick Kyle the former president of the Scottish society for psychical research. It was about three hours long and I watched it all as he covered a lot of stuff. He also mentioned the work a French team are doing taking photos of spirits that form in smoke inside a vacuum with a medium present. They go by the name a non-profit organisation and they have an internet site although last time I checked I couldn’t get in but they do have a Facebook page that has lots of photos of the results that they’ve achieved and they look very convincing. Unfortunately most of the dialogue is in French so I’m not that well clued up on how the process works although there is translation on Facebook.

Mark Harrison, Sun 23 Jul, 15:20

Kevin, Don and Amos
The mention of the conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna who were brought to Australia for life-saving surgery in 2009 and the description of their minds being linked reminds (no pun intended) me of the entangled spins at a distance in quantum physics.

However, the book which I think might be of interest to you is Mind to Mind by Rene Warcollier Creative Age Press American Book-Stratford Press Inc New York. 1948.

The contents of this book were originally conceived as a lecture, delivered at the Sorbonne in June of 1946, under the title, A Contribution to the Study of Mental Imagery Through Telepathic Drawing. The author, Rene Warcollier, sought to present some generalizations from hundreds of experiments in telepathy and forty years of research in parapsychology. What one will discover, however, is more than a description of what happens when drawings are used as messages in telepathic communication. Here is a study of pictorial images typical of the varieties of mental imagery common to mankind.”

The comment below on the translation across cultures will appeal to you. Moving expressions in to different languages is very tricky. One Australian company was in friendly contractual dealings with a German company in control engineering. The Australian CEO used a term of friendliness for their agents, however it is how the term is used that was the problem. The German CEO took major offence and cancelled the contracts to the Australian CEO’s surprise.

“In preparing this manuscript for the American reader, it was necessary to elaborate what the author presented with Gallic brevity. The elaborations are largely in the form of descriptions of experiments from other writings of the author and in making more explicit some of the ideas implicit in the original lecture.”

Don, your comment matches up with what awaits me. When the spirits offered me a job (on the spirit side) I was worried that they were actually saying I would be moving across soon. The corrected this when I asked. I have the job waiting for me but it can wait until I get there.

Amos thanks for the backup quote about Hellen Keller. I read her story many years ago. When I looked her up on Wiki - Her spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and then in 1994 extensively revised and re-issued under the title Light in My Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. 

The Australian mother of twins Trishna and Krishna (as well as others) doesn’t see disabilities, only the person.

Bruce Williams, Sat 22 Jul, 03:02

I’m close to finishing “Friedel’s Conversations with the Dead,” the story of Friedrich Jurgenson, considered by many the founder of EVP.  The book is by Anabela Cardoso and Anders Leopold, just published by White Crow Books.  Actually, Leopold wrote the book in Swedish in 2014, and Cardoso has edited it into English. I will be discussing the book in my next blog.

One of the concluding chapters includes a long excerpt from one of Jurgenson’s books.  Among many other things, here is what Jurgenson had to say:

“In spite of all our religions and in spite of all philosophical and materialist doctrines, we have thoroughly misunderstood life and, therefore, have not been able to solve the mystery of death. But since death, whether we understand its meaning or not, cannot be separated from life, and since we have undoubtedly misunderstood its meaning, the pressure of this unsolved riddle has been turned into a heavy burden from which we cannot free ourselves. Therefore, no other problem has tormented and persecuted us as much as this unsolved mystery of death. It is apparently in the essence of human nature to face everything new, inexplicable and unknown with doubt, mistrust and ridicule, and it takes deep inner conviction and not little courage, to disturb the ingrained dogmas and doctrines.”

From his research, Jurgenson described the lowest level of the afterlife as being like “a frightful deformation of the human spirit.”  He explains that general human crudeness has created cavern-like hollow spaces in the delicate, easily deformable lighter spheres, which have become negatively charged thoughts, emotions, fears, envy, and hate resulting in an astral environment geared exactly to the character of the emotional impulses as deformed by desire and imagination. It reminded me of Professor Robert Hare’s discussion of “Moral Specific Gravity” being the governing factor in the soul’s initial abode.

Michael Tymn, Fri 21 Jul, 04:15

I agree with Mr. Williams, these successes are still not convincing enough for the majority, although it all depends on the medium, if we see the case of Chico Xavier the evidence becomes more solid since not only was very intimate information shared and accounts of events unknown to those present or only known by witnesses who could not verify, but the letter was signed with a specific name and on several occasions with the person’s handwriting.

I would like to complete my previous comment in response to Mr. Oliver that was left incomplete due to the limits of the translator, I hope you don’t mind.

I asked myself the question: Can a human have action and intention without a brain? In the following days, using Internet sites, I found the answer, some people suffer from an extreme condition of hydrocephalus where bags of fluid occupy most of their brain, which is why it has a formation that does not look at all like what one thinks is essential for life, they lack many structures that science has not said perform specific functions and would not be possible without them, they certainly do not lack a brain, but they do lack a conventional structure and with a low proportion of it, they are still totally normal. and in some cases with above average intelligence.

In addition to this, we can discuss the question of whether the entire brain and its formation depend solely on DNA, therefore identical twins have identical brain structures determined by their identical DNA. The obvious conclusion would be that if the mind emerges completely from the brain structures, both brains function in exactly the same way, so both would have the same personality, tastes, intentions, etc. We all know that this is not the case, even though they are identical twins, each one is unique in its own way, different in tastes, certain behaviors, ways of thinking, passions and activities, but they can also share things in common, although in the end each one is a unique self, continuing with that logic, the case of the conjoined twins Krista and Tatiana Hogan are an even greater challenge to conventional science and materialistic philosophical approaches, their brains are united but even so, both Krista and Tatiana retain their individuality and just like the twins each have their particular tastes, an example is that if Krista eats something Tatiana can perceive the taste of that food but Tatiana does not like that food so it is unpleasant for her that her sister eats it, to finish the most surprising thing is that each one has a separate mental self and in their intimate world Krista’s self communicates with Tatiana’s self, both have internal conversations that no one knows about. Logically this makes us think about many things and it seems that the mind does not depend on the brain.

Kevin A., Thu 20 Jul, 21:35

Helen Keller, American celebrity author, activist and lecturer during the early 20th century and blind from early childhood, is reported to have said that, “Death for me is like walking from one room into another room except that in that other room I shall be able to see.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 20 Jul, 14:27

Nice to see a William Blake reference. The front cover of my book has William Blake’s The Reunion Of Body and Soul in the Preface with a quote:
I cannot consider death as anything but a removing from one room to another
I am not ashamed, afraid or adverse to tell you what ought to be told:
That I am under the direction of messangers from Heaven, daily and nightly.
I write when commanded by the spirits and the moment I have written
I see the words fly around the room in all directions. It is then published and the spirits can read it and my manuscript is of no further use.
Kevin I enjoy your views and I would agree that proof only comes from what we term “hits” where specific information (best if not known to those present) can be verified.

Bruce Williams, Thu 20 Jul, 02:08

A just slightly tangential comment…

Each of us here, each in his or her own way, is a “researcher” into the nature of things. I found myself within the past week or so wondering to what extent those “research interests” might be possible to pursue once we’ve moved on to a different plane of existence.

This morning, while scanning quickly over the notations in my copy of a book mentioned elsewhere in this thread (Catherine Crowe’s translation of “The Seeress of Prevorst”) I found a concise and pointed answer to my question…

...At my request, she afterward made the following inquiry of one of these spirits:—“In your present state, do you still pursue your researches into nature?” He answered, “

Yes; but in a different and inexpressibly higher manner than I did on earth.”

(For anyone who might be interested…)

Don Porteous, Wed 19 Jul, 21:02

The trouble with history of any movement is the various and differing viewpoints which emerge. It is similar to comparing witness statements. I like recollections from those closest such as Leah Underhill (nee Fox). Her book The Missing Link is at Project Gutenberg

I did write A History of Spiritualism in Australia (pre Internet)

I found that SPR had the best review of the history of Spiritualism and with their kind permission it formed the Chapter 1 in my book. The SPR was formed by a few good men including Frederick Myers and Edmund Gurney in 1882 and had many spiritualists within the organisation.

I have researched Edmund for a few good reasons in the Proceedings of SPR. I was unaware of Harvard having a religious library only dealing with them with their HBR in management training. Stanford University holds the best spiritualist information from Thomas Stanford. They do not like being approached for details.
Thomas was friends with the second Prime Minister of Australia Alfred Deakin.

History (aka his story) was usually not written by women. Crowe was one of the women who wrote the story of spiritualism. An excellent reminder of her contribution.

Bruce Williams, Wed 19 Jul, 12:56

Thank you very much for this information Mr. Tymn.

Undoubtedly Catherine Crowe was a pioneer in this field, even with an open mind to all these phenomena she did not lose her critical sense to analyze them without falling into what she herself mentions a blind “credulity”, providing with her words a sensible vision addressing possible explanations that may give rise to them but understanding that some completely escape these current explanations.

There is nothing more certain than that a great majority only lives for this world.

There is no doubt that his views on how much people focus on the material including much of science and the observations of mainstream religions are still very much in force, although science is now a new religion, Scientism, just as dogmatic, narrow-minded (Which I initially did not have) and full of disputes as any other serving as a niche for proclaiming absolute truths but also for countless poor scientific articles with sensational click-baiting titles, along with claims of dubious research or resources. Laughing at the strangulation of data that doesn’t say much. There is nothing more certain than that a vast majority only lives for this world.
All this materiality already exposes its harmful effects, especially in the younger generations, we can see how many people are desperate to obtain material objects, I must say that I was the same, not having that object of desire becomes despair and even more so when the means do not make it possible to obtain it, but when we achieve it there is only a temporary temporary allergy, a clear example is many people who can afford what they want but still do not achieve happiness, depression and sadness can catch them at any time taking them to very dark places.

Regarding Mr. Christopher’s comment, his observation is very valid, although I would say that “Ancient Evidence” is not limited to non-Western cultures, mediums and the belief in an afterlife, especially the latter is as old as humanity and present in all civilizations, many African tribes maintain communication practices from that other side, in my country Colombia, the Arhuaca culture through its wise men, the Mamos still have the tradition of communicating with spirits to obtain guidance and permissions through rituals such as songs, meditation and offerings, likewise the Muisca preserve a tradition of two worlds, both are pre-Hispanic cultures, so many civilizations have shamans and mystics who often acted as mediums, although I must say that we must consider that they are defined as Western.
Mr. Oliver gives us very good observations, with great respect I will make some comments about it, I do not consider TED talks a great example, it is very permeated by physicalism and materialism, in addition to some content, they have been withdrawn or archived, especially those who do not agree with those positions, although sometimes he does offer his space to other visions such as Mr. Alex Gomez-Marin with his contributions to the vision of reality and the mind.
Another point is the issue of what science has discovered about consciousness, in this case as such science first of all does not know what consciousness is in itself, adding that the term for many academics is very vague and empty, especially considering that its appearance occurred at the end of the 17th century, before that time it was called soul, they have not yet found a shred of mind (a term mostly accepted by non-materialist academics) for which the neuroscientist Christof Koch had to pay his bet to the philosopher David Chalmer After all, added to this, thinking a few days ago, we know that there are organisms without brains and even capable of action and intention, so I asked myself the question: Can a human have action and intention without a brain? In the following days, using Internet sites, I found the answer, some people suffer from an extreme condition of hydrocephalus where bags of fluid occupy most of their brain, which is why it has a formation that is not at all like what one thinks is essential for life, they lack many structures that science has not said fulfill specific functions and without them they cannot would be possible, they certainly do not lack a brain but a conventional structure and with a low proportion of it, even so they are totally normal and in some cases with above average intelligence.

Continuing, it is very true that lately there is a growing interest in psychic issues, personally I am not very fond of these shows and conferences offered by mediums, especially when money is involved since it is attack material for skeptics, especially when the medium is not very direct, sometimes they say something like “there is an older name with the energy of a grandfather or father who wants to tell you something about the sale of your house”, if they were more direct like “Today is your father by name such that it came out on this date, this information proves that it is him, you are living in such a situation and he tells me what you should do” would be much more convincing, giving less room for comments to the contrary.

Thank you, sorry for my length, but there are many topics to discuss.

Kevin A., Wed 19 Jul, 02:17

Looks an interesting book thanks Michael. I have relatives who’ve seen ghosts including instances where two people saw the same thing.
It’s also interesting that the English poet and artist William Blake (1752 - 1827) saw visions from a very early age. It was reputed that upon the death of his younger brother Robert aged 19 that Blake saw his spirit ascend heavenward. Years later in a letter he sent to a bereaved father Blake wrote ‘I know our deceased friends are more really with us than when they were apparent to our mortal part. Thirteen years ago I lost a brother and with his spirit I converse daily and hourly in the spirit and see him in my remembrance in the regions of my imagination. I hear his advice and even now write from his dictate. Forgive me for expressing to you my enthusiasm which I wish all to partake of since it is to me a source of immortal joy even in this world by it I am the companion of angels. May you continue to be more and more persuaded that every mortal loss is an immortal gain. The ruins of time builds mansions in eternity.’ Personally I believe William Blake was a medium of sorts and the visions in which he was visited by spirits from the past including deceased friends and relatives were the inspiration for his art and poetry. At one time Blake undertook nightly ‘seances’ with the astrologer Mr. John Varley in which Blake produced a series of drawings ‘The visionary heads’ that contained sketches of many notable names from the past that Blake would apparently see in his visions. The word seance might not have been in use back then but these nightly sessions seem to have been regarded as a kind of game to them.
Also not forgetting Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 -1792) who conversed with spirits almost on a daily basis.
I also think the Aztec’s used scrying mirrors made from obsidian to peer into other worlds.

Mark Harrison, Wed 19 Jul, 00:50

At Michael’s recommendation I purchased a copy of Adin Ballou’s book “An Exposition of Views Respecting the Principal Facts, Causes and Peculiarities Involved in Spirit Manifestations: Together with Interesting Phenomenal Statements and Communications”.  (Whew!)  The copy I have was originally published in 1853.  For a book 170 years old it surprisingly reads like a modern best seller.  I can identify with Adin Ballou and appreciate his writing style as he seems to be very cautious but precise in what he writes and he writes it in a very clear understandable style.  I recommend it as it is available as a reprint from the internet booksellers. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 18 Jul, 19:15

Thanks to the SPR for tweeting a link to this piece and to everyone who joined the comments. When I browsed the Harvard Widener Library’s spiritualism section (located in a sub-sub-basement in an underground annex) recently, I couldn’t find any satisfying books that really dug into the origins of spiritualism, and how people suddenly became attuned to these messages in the 19th century. The best history I could find to take me before and around the Fox sisters was J.B. Buescher’s book “The Other Side of Salvation: Spiritualism and the Nineteenth-century Religious Experience” (2004). I will have to check out Michael’s new book as well.

Avery, Tue 18 Jul, 17:09

Thanks to all for the comments.  As Chris Carter points out, it might have been all fairly new for Western culture, but there were apparently many accounts of mediumship and spirit possession from other cultures, including Native American, African, Chinese and Nepalese. 

In my earlier writings, I have suggested that Judge John Edmonds was the first dedicated psychical researcher. Of course, “dedicated” is a subjective word, and there is a question of what is meant by “researcher.”  I would consider Catherine Crowe an “historian” rather than a researcher.  I now go with Rev. Adin Ballou as the first researcher, at least in Western culture. His 1852 book was published the year before Edmonds’ book, “Spiritualism.” I’ve discussed Ballou in past blogs here, but my review of his book appears in the current (spring) issue of Journal of Scientific Exploration. 

Ballou discusses many of the distortions of mediumistic communication, but I cannot recall any of Ballou’s research being cited by the SPR or ASPR researchers.  It was as if it was all new to them. Moreover, William James complained that everything coming through mediums was trivial, making no mention of the profound material recorded by Edmonds & Dexter, Kardec, Hare, or Stainton Moses. As I have said before, the “wisdom” coming through Dr. Dexter, supposedly from Swedenborg and Bacon, amounts to nearly a thousand pages.  Much of it was repeated by Kardec, Hare and Moses, but William James gives no indication of being aware of any of it.  Is it any wonder that the advanced spirits threw in the towel at some point?

Michael Tymn, Mon 17 Jul, 22:42

Although it may seem that little has changed since Crowes’ time, I think all of this burgeoning interest in psychic phenomena now is fast approaching a critical mass.  With the widespread availability of the internet across the world and access to YouTube presentations, TED Talks and Web Podcasts, one can easily find more and more examples, reports and studies of mediumship, hundreds of similar near death reports, young children experiencing and reporting the effects of reincarnation, hypnotic regression to past lives and other related evidence of an alternate reality.  These reports are forcing skeptics and scientists to seriously consider that there may be something about consciousness that science hasn’t figured out yet or is just flat-out mistaken in their current acceptance that consciousness is a function of brain activity.

If one considers the current decreasing support for organized religions filed with dogma, then the general acceptance of psychic phenomena will fill that void as a natural progression of understanding the reality around us.  It may take another one hundred years but it will be inevitable.

There are a lot of current actors in making that information available, including Michael Tymn’s Blog, Jon Beecher’s White Crow Books, Jane Robert’s “Seth” and the popular TV personalities Matt Fraser’s Zoom readings, TV show and tours, John Edward’s TV shows and tours, Jeff Reynolds’ “JeffMara” interviews, Allison Dubois TV show—-“Medium” and tours, Christopher Stillar, George Anderson, James Van Praagh, Tyler Henry, Thomas John, Edgar Cayce and many others.

Then there are the credentialed people like Gary Swartz, Julie Beishel, Pim van Lommel, Jim Tucker, Bruce Greyson, Ian Stevenson, Raymond Moody, Michael Sabom, Sam Parnia, Jeffrey Long, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and others who lend scientific credibility to a possible non-local consciousness. According to a Gallup poll, a third of all Americans believe in reincarnation and 65% more people believe in reincarnation today than 20 years ago.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 17 Jul, 19:33

Thank you Michael. However, mediumship goes back much further than that among non-western cultures. See chapter 10, “Ancient Evidence” of my third book Science and the Afterlife.

Christopher Carter, Mon 17 Jul, 19:04

Thanks for this Michael…

I have a copy of Crowe’s translation of the Kermer work on the Seeress of Prevorst, but this was new to me. My current book-in-progress deals with “Spirit Influence in Human Affairs” stretching well back into antiquity, and this type of material will be helpful in rounding out the more recent end.

I’ve ordered a copy of both Crowe’s “Night Side” and the Andrew Davis book (which somehow, I’d never gotten around to looking into) that you mentioned. Thanks again for some helpful input.

Don Porteous, Mon 17 Jul, 17:04

Thanks for another enlightening article, Michael.

Keith, I haven’t but you can find it on Gutenberg.

I agree with Amos that little has changed, although with the increase in NDE reports etc, there’s more empirical evidence now.

Jon, Mon 17 Jul, 16:01

An excellent and informative piece, Michael. Thank you. I wonder if White Crow Books has already published this book by Catherine Crowe, or if it plans to.

Keith P in England, Mon 17 Jul, 14:26

I did enjoy your latest article especially “Discounting stories of the ferryman and the three-headed dog, Crowe concluded that some stories”.
In Greek mythology, Charon the ferryman transported souls across the River Styx to Hades where Cerberus the three headed dog stood guard. Usually coins were placed on the eyes of the dead to pay the ferryman. I always liked these stories. As you say not much has changed over the years.

Bruce Williams, Mon 17 Jul, 13:21

Excellent Michael!  You are an irreplaceable source of information.  Little truly has changed in those 175 years since Crowe published her thoughts.  Thanks Michael!  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 17 Jul, 13:17

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