Roundtable on Ectoplasm and Materialization Continues (Part 3)
Posted on 21 December 2020, 10:51
A virtual roundtable involving four pioneers of psychical research on the subjects of ectoplasm and materialization began with my post of November 23, while Part 2 was posted on December 7. This is the final part. The roundtable members are Sir Williams Crookes, Professor Charles Richet, Dr. Gustave Geley, and Dr. Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, all identified in the first post. I am serving as moderator.
As stated in Part 1, the words here are those of the researchers, as extracted from their reports and books, except words in brackets, which are inferred to permit a meaningful flow and link.
Moderator: I am pleased to announce that Dr. William J. Crawford is in town and will be joining us for this final session. I know that you are all familiar with his work, but for the benefit of the audience, I will note that Dr. Crawford has done extensive research with mediums. He was a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University of Belfast and the Municipal Technical Institute of Belfast. Beginning in 1914, he had 87 sittings with the Goligher Circle over a period of some two-and-a-half years, resulting in four books – The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1918), Hints and Observations on the Phenomena of Spiritualism (1918), Experiments in Psychical Science (1919), and The Psychic Structure of the Goligher Circle (1921) (The other four welcomed Dr. Crawford)
I’d like to begin by asking Dr. Crawford to summarize his experiences with ectoplasm, although I realize he referred to it simply as plasma. It is my understanding, Dr. Crawford, that you did not actually visualize the plasma or ectoplasm until the very end of your research.
Crawford: “[My pleasure.] On one occasion, while the table was levitated I placed my hand under it near the top. As in previous tests, I felt no sense of pressure whatever, but I did feel a clammy, cold, almost oily sensation – in fact, an indescribable sensation, as though the air there were mixed with particles of dead and disagreeable matter. Perhaps the best word to describe the feeling is ‘reptilian.’ I have felt the same substance often – and I think it is substance – in the vicinity of the medium, but there it has appeared to me to be moving outwards from her. Once felt, the experimenter always recognizes it again. This was the only occasion on which I have felt it under the levitated table, though perhaps it is always there, but not usually in such intense form. Its presence under the table and also in the vicinity of the medium shows that it has something to do with the levitation; and in short I think there can be little doubt that it is actual matter temporarily taken from the medium’s body and put back at the end of the séance, and that it is the basic principle underlying the transmission of psychic force. The table soon dropped when I moved my hand to and fro in amongst this psychic stuff.”
Moderator: You wrote of observing all this under a red light. However, it is somewhat unclear as to what you actually witnessed.
Crawford: “The light is usually strong enough – after the eyes get accustomed to its red color – to see quite plainly all the sitters. It is a subdued kind of light, issuing from a large surface of ordinary gas flame. The only difficulty in the visibility is where a table or other large body casts a shadow over a portion of the floor … The greatest trouble experienced by the experimenter in tracing the outlines of the psychic structures at the Goligher circle lies in the fact they are generally quite invisible under the ordinary conditions of the séance room. They are not always quite invisible, but usually so.”
Moderator: You mentioned not being able to take photographs until the final stages of your research.
Crawford: [“True.] Only within the last six months or so has it been found possible to photograph the stuff which issues from the medium’s body – I call it ‘plasma’ for want of a better word – and from which the psychic structures are built up that produce the phenomena of raps, levitations, touchings, etc. … The operators informed me by raps that success would finally come if I would be persistent enough. The chief difficulty seemed to be in preventing injury to the medium. The operators said it was necessary gradually to work her up to withstand the shock of the flashlight upon the plasma; nor is this much to be wondered at when it is considered the plasma is part of her body exteriorized in space.”
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Crawford. I would like to devote the remainder of this last session to the concern as to what is behind all this strange activity. Sir William, since your research preceded that of the others here, I’d ask to begin with you.
Crookes: “Without wishing at present to speak positively on this point, I may say that whilst I have observed many circumstances which appear to show that the will and intelligence of the medium have much to do with the phenomena, I have observed some circumstances which seem conclusively to point to the agency of an outside intelligence, not belonging to any human being in the room.”
Richet: “[Let’s call it what it is.] We have come to the spiritist hypothesis. It is neither to be desired nor feared. When we devote ourselves to the high task of seeking truth, we ought not to be intimidated by the opinion of the crowd, nor allured by any obscure desire for personal immortality … The hypothesis is frank and clear. By conferring omniscience on spirits it explains most of the facts, but it involves so many improbabilities that, despite its seeming simplicity, I find myself unable to adopt it. Nevertheless I oppose it half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory.”
Schrenck-Notzing: “[I believe] that the spirit hypothesis not only fails to explain the slightest detail of these occurrences, but it impedes and hinders in every way serious scientific investigation … Nearly all the investigators who have lately studied the phenomena of physical mediumship – which, in view of the psychogenic character of the occurrences, must always retain some connection with psychical phenomena – incline towards a rejection of the spiritistic theory in favour of the psycho-dynamical conception and towards a purely observational attitude.”
Moderator: Dr. Geley, your thoughts or position?
Geley: “It should be beyond doubt that the Self both pre-exists, and that it survives the grouping which it directs during one’s earth life; that it more particularly survives its lower objectifaction during this life. This may at least be admitted, if not as a mathematical certainty, at least as a high probability. If so, the manifestation of a ‘discarnate spirit’ on the material plane by the aid of dynamic and organic elements borrowed from the medium then appears an undeniable possibility.”
Moderator: Dr. Crawford, in your reports, you refer to “operators” on the other side communicating with you in carrying out your experiments. Do you see these operators as spirits of the “dead” or some aspect of the subconscious?
Crawford: “[The subconscious] is the alternative I had in mind all through my investigations. As months succeeded month, as each new phase of phenomena was presented, as each new experiment was done, I always said to myself, ‘Can this very determined work of seemingly intelligent beings be but a simulation after all? Can it be all a fraud? Is it possible that nature holds intelligences belonging to ourselves or otherwise, which could so persistently deceive? Why should our subliminal consciousness (supposing we possess such a thing) carry out for us phenomenal demonstrations on the lines of reason and intelligence, requiring effort and system, for the object of deceiving us?’ No! It seems most unlikely and repellant to our sense of the fitness of things. Nobody who has not delved deeply into psychic phenomena can have any conception of its tremendous variety and range. It includes telekinetic phenomena, apports, materialization, the direct voice, clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance, etc., etc. There are, in fact, dozens of phases of psychic action, all consistent in the inference to which they lead, namely, that man survives death, and inconsistent on any other hypothesis.”
Moderator: Some critics have a difficult time believing that spirits would be engaged in what seems to them as tomfoolery. As I understand it from your reports, they are experimenting, just as you are? What do you say to this?
Crawford: “I admit that it is very difficult for the ordinary person to bring home to his consciousness the fact that these unseen beings can possibly be like himself in their make-up. There is an ingrained feeling in humanity that the beings inhabiting the after-death world must be far removed from us in mental qualities and characteristics – we feel that they should a great advance in intellectual equipment over what they possessed here; that they should be, if not quite angels, at any rate not far removed from them. Of course this instinctive feeling we all possess is due to centuries of religious instruction behind us; we feel that the next state must of necessity be either heaven or hell. Hence it is rather a shock to us when we find the inhabitants of that other state not to be angels by any manner of means, not to exceed us appreciably in intelligence, but to be, in fact, only good-natured beings of much the same capacity as our familiar selves.”
Moderator: Did the operators tell you anything about their living conditions?
Crawford: “The entities communicating say that the next state is not a homogeneous whole, but that it is built up of ‘spheres’ and ‘realms,” and that they themselves do not all belong to one sphere. Entities belonging to a higher sphere may come down at will to a lower, but not vice versa … The first sphere would seem to be the abode of people whose moral development was somewhat low as they passed from things terrestrial; who need a lot of cleaning up before they can rise into the second and higher spheres; in other words, the spheres next the earth are the abode of the riff-raff of humanity. The entities tell me that all our experimental circles are guarded very strictly on their side so that no undesirable shall be able to get near. As a matter of fact I would not care to be in the Belfast séance room if I had any doubt of the beneficent intentions of those behind the scenes.”
Moderator: Did they ever tell you why they are interested in demonstrating at these séances?
Crawford: “[Yes.] Their answer to this is that the mere fact of being engaged in producing the phenomena and thus doing useful work helps them in their own development. For this and for other reasons I have rather come to the conclusion that one of the central ideas underlying the activities of the next state is that of service.”
Moderator: Outside of the operators, are other spirits aware of what is going on?
Crawford: “According to the operators the people on their side are somewhat curious about psychic phenomena. I have often asked them if there were many looking on at our séances. Whenever asked the questions they would begin rapping and keep on rapping until we were tired of hearing them. They wished to indicate by this that there were great crowds of spirit people looking on. They told me this was the case at all our séances. They gave me the impression that the séance room and the sitters were surrounded by a huge invisible audience arranged in an orderly and disciplinary manner, perhaps tier upon tier as in a lecture theater. The séance to many of them would appear to be as novel as it is to us.”
Moderator: Dr. Geley, I can see you want to add something.
Geley: “For my own part, if I may give a personal impression of what I have observed in the domain of mediumship, I should say that even if in a given case spiritist intervention could not be affirmed as a scientific certainty, one is obliged, willingly or unwillingly and on the aggregate of cases, to admit the possibility of such intervention. I think it is probable that there is, in mediumship, an action of intelligent entities distinct from the medium. I base this opinion not only on the alleged proofs of identity given by the communicators, which may be matters of controversy, but on the high and complex phenomena of mediumship. These frequently show direction and intention which cannot, unless very arbitrarily be referred to the medium or the experimenters. We do not find this direction and intelligence either in the normal consciousness of the medium, nor in his somnambulistic consciousness, nor in his impressions, his desires, or his fears, whether direct, indirect, suggested, or voluntary. We can neither produce the phenomena nor modify them. All happens as though the directing intelligence were independent and autonomous. Even this is not all. This directing intelligence seems to be deeply aware of much that we do not know; it can distinguish between the essence of things and their representations; it knows these sufficiently to be able to modify as its will the relations which normally govern these representations in space and time. In a word, the higher phenomena of mediumship seem to indicate, to necessitate, and to proclaim direction, knowledge and abilities which surpass the powers – even the subconscious powers – of the mediums.”
Moderator: Sir William, as the senior person here, would you like to wrap it up?
Crookes: “In old Egyptian days, a well-known inscription was carved over the portal of the temple of Isis: ‘I am whatever hath been, is, or ever will be; and my veil no man hath yet lifted.’ Not thus do modern seekers after truth confront Nature – the word that stands for the baffling mysteries of the Universe. Steadily, unflinchingly, we strive to pierce the inmost heart of Nature, from what she is to re-construct what she has been, and to prophesy what she yet shall be. Veil after veil we have lifted, and her face grows more beautiful, august, and wonderful, with every barrier that is withdrawn.”
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 forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.
Eric Newhill, Sun 31 Jan, 14:39
I’m a regular reader of your blog, but rarely comment. Just wanted to tell you that I find the round table literary device to be very effective. Love it. Thank you. Please keep up the great work.
Hearsay “evidence” doesn’t count here, especially if it is third hand—Crawford told Dingwall who told Blackmore, the latter having a reputation as a debunker. I prefer direct evidence, such as that offered by Sir William Barrett, a renowned physicist who was invited by Crawford to observe Goligher during one of his experiments and witnessed a table levitated and then flipped over with nobody around it.
I do not consider Wikipedia a good reference on anything paranormal. It is clear to me and many others who have studied the subject thoroughly that the Wikipedia editors are intent on debunking all phenomena that cannot be explained by mainstream science. They often call upon people who were not even born at the time the phenomena took place to debunk it. See my blog of July 20, 2020 in the archives at left concerning the Wikipedia reports on D. D. Home.
Wikipedia also makes out Leonora Piper to be a charlatan, offering the conclusions of six or seven authors, all clearly in the debunking camp, who never met Piper or sat with her on a single occasion. These “authorities” all speculate on how Piper “may have” duped the researchers, or how she “could have” fooled them. One “authority,” who was born in 1969, 19 years after Piper’s death, says that the veridical information received by Professor William James in his sittings with Piper “may have been” the result of a maid in the James household knowing a maid in the Piper household.
Michael Tymn, Fri 8 Jan, 00:44
While the four primary SPR researchers – Dr. Richard Hodgson, Dr. James Hyslop, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Frederic W. H. Myers – are all mentioned in the Wikipedia bio of Piper, none of their veridical research pointing to the genuineness of Mrs. Piper’s mediumship, is given any heed. This veridical research fills many pages of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and required some 200 pages to summarize in my book, “Resurrecting Leonora Piper.” Yet Wikipedia ignores the evidence completely. It is focused only on the negative.
Kathleen Goligher was exposed as a fraud, there is a solid Wikipedia article about it with many reliable references.
Also Crawford confessed to Eric Dingwall that the Goligher seance room phenomena was all fraud. You look at the photographs of the ‘ectoplasm’ and it looks like cheesecloth. Do you guys honestly believe this stuff is real evidence for the afterlife? These articles on whitecrowbooks are not balanced because they are not reporting the negative evidence. Can someone explain that?
Abd Lomax, Thu 7 Jan, 18:18
I confess that I did pay the trance medium, but it was part of my education in the field. I have never felt the need to go to a medium to contact a deceased loved one. It was all out of curiosity and research. I went to about a dozen mediums during the 1990s and got only one evidential reading, that being discussed in Chapter One of my latest book, “No One Really Dies.”
The trance medium mentioned did say a few things about the writing I was doing at the time, i.e., sports writing, and said I would be doing more writing in the metaphysical field, but I wrote a column for the morning paper at the time and he could have recognized my name from that. Seeing his eyes roll back in his head and the change in voice and accent had me half-way believing it was real, but I am at only around 15% such belief at this time.
Michael Tymn, Thu 31 Dec, 19:54
Dear all subscribers to Michael Tymn’s admirable Blog, for which I and many others are very genuinely grateful,
I have been quite a pestilent fellow, repeatedly barging into the blog with my insistence that one of the strongest supports we have for our quest for the truth of claims regarding the immortality of our innermost Essence is human science. Undeniably, this quest for the truth of life is the central essence of all Mike’s blogs. Many scientists would deny us this claim. They deny the fundamental validity of the quest, deriding the very notion that TRUE religion and science could ever be compatible, and claiming that scientific pessimism has destroyed all spiritual hopes. According to them, Darwin killed God, and that’s that. End of the story, end of every human consciousness.
I am a tiny little unit of life in our universe, but I do try to think. A thought I have had for some years, with increasing insistence, a thought I have recently begun to voice, is that Relativity Theory truly does prove that there are all around us and through us space-times that could be (and probably are) the locus of other living beings.
A few people have read my paper on the matter. Some find it hard to understand, but some do understand it.
Newton Finn has made some appreciative comments in emails direct to me, and he has also given me permission to quote him, mentioning his name, as evidence that I am not insane, mistaken, arrogant, deluded, or even merely an annoying irrelevance such as all blogs attract from time to time, just a good example of a pest to ignore.
Newton says this:
Your . . . paper is the first place where I’ve encountered speculation along these lines grounded in Relativity Theory, and that alone strikes me as significant in light of my voracious, if not obsessive, reading habits.
. . . your second diagram expands and deepens the meaning of the first, which took me a while to pick up on but was certainly worth the effort once the light went on.
There has GOT to be a publisher for this paper right here in our own little universe.
A few others have expressed approval, as I have mentioned before in Mike’s blog comments, perhaps annoying some of you.
Would anyone else like to have a copy of something that puts our quest for confidence that we do survive the corruption of our physical part on a truly scientific basis that cynics cannot scoff at, and that our eventual transfer to another universe is progress, not loss of being?
Very best to all for what we humans count as a new year (and which we all hope will be nicer than the one ending tonight)
Eric Franklin, Thu 31 Dec, 19:07
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 31 Dec, 14:28
I hope you didn’t have to pay those ‘trance mediums’ anything for their drivel. They provided nothing verifiable. Anyone can make up generalizations like those they provided for you. HAPPY NEW YEAR MICHAEL AND ALL! GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPINESS.- AOD
Since we are discussing reincarnation, I’ll mention my visit to a trance medium in 1997. His eyes rolled back in his head and he changed from a local Portuguese accent to a thick Scottish accent, almost too difficult to understand. He claimed to be Arthur Conan Doyle. The session was taped. Among the things he told me were:
“In times past, you were…well… a practitioner of the magical arts in all the various lives—-three times in England that I am aware of. And in one particular case, we crossed paths in that very life. Why I must admit though that in that life you struck fear into my heart. I was a young lad, born in the very place I was born when last physical—- Edinburgh—- but a different life. And you were known as an older wizard of sorts. People feared you for you were known to cast spells, make it rain, whatever. But one thing I did learn from you cause when my father in that life left us—- died, so called—-oh, I went off you know. A young lad of about 14, just coming into my manhood. And I went off on myself—- crying, lamenting of course as a young lad will do when he loses his father. Then out of the blue I heard this very gruff voice—-yours—- ha..ha..ha… saying to me “Why waste all that energy on crying like an old lady, when you can be using it to build a future that your father wants you to build?” Well, the shock of it, eh. I turned about only to see you of all people. The old boo boogey…..”
I’m highly skeptical, but it was interesting. Around the same time, a psychic told me that I was a black man killed during the Great War when I was about 18 and in the life before that I owned a vineyard in France and drank all my profits. That might explain why I dislike all alcoholic beverages today.
As for a future incarnation, I’ll continue to hope that this is my last visit.
Michael Tymn, Wed 30 Dec, 20:34
Dear Mike (Tymn),
Thank you for your appreciation of my explanation regarding ghosts and higher spirits. I hope Stafford Betty is pleased with my suggested explanation too.
I note, and empathise with, your hypothetical acceptance of an incarnation amongst the Amish. I completely understand positive reasons for such a preference, and will not waste time detailing them here. Certainly that life would be far preferable ethically and otherwise to a Trumpian money-god-adulating mental squalor as life’s compass.
However, if I may, I strongly suggest you do not reincarnate in Amish or similar surroundings. I was born, in this incarnation, into a Christadelphian family. I was very unwilling to find myself amongst them even on the day. I did not breathe for ten minutes, as my mother, an honest if mistaken woman, later told me.
An extreme (even among them) Christadelphian father wrecked my whole life (and my mother’s own life). That is an UNDERstatement, and again I shall not bore anyone with the detailed detective’s reconstruction in my mind that eighty years of this life’s memories have enabled me to build. I did escape, around age forty, but, now that I am no longer under the heel of a man who thought he stood in for a jealous god, and see more clearly than his blasphemies allowed earlier, decades of that reconstruction show a horrid sight. Again, no details.
My suggestion for anyone contemplating a reincarnation is to choose a happy place and time, but to make sure that, being so blessed, the ensuing life is filled with altruism towards those less fortunate, for example those cursed by religion purporting to be spirituality.
Eric Franklin, Wed 30 Dec, 09:32
I also considered the late 1800s after you put the question to me and also considered the dental problems, picturing someone pulling my tooth out with a pair of plyers. I further considered the comment by Frederic Myers about 1870 or so being the height of existential despair in the world, the result of Darwinism having fully impeached religion by that time. The “death of God” apparently had much more of an impact on the world than we today realize or the movies and books depict. It was that despair that resulted in Myers, Guerney, Barrett and others founding the SPR in 1882.
I think about the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” when I visualize the “happy times” back then, the world I’d like to see now, although that was connected with the 1904 World Fair. I haven’t been to St. Louis in 70 years, but I gather that it does not resemble the place it was in 1904 or even in 1950. Such is progress.
Michael Tymn, Tue 29 Dec, 23:27
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 29 Dec, 21:30
It doesn’t surprise me at all to hear you say that you would probably volunteer to be a mentally challenged child if that would benefit the parents in some way. If I could choose to go back in time I would choose the middle or late 1800s into the 1900s. The Victorian Age in the western world appeals to me. My only hesitation would be the barbaric practice of dentistry during that time. There would be no escaping dental problems and dental extraction was primitive. I think it was Mrs. Gladys Osborne Leonard who described her ordeal having her teeth pulled while laid-out on the dining room table. She suffered excruciating problems after a botched extraction. I say, “No thank you!” Maybe that is why one never sees people smiling in those old photographs. - AOD
I think you answered the questions of apparitions vs materializations better than I could have. Thank you.
Michael Tymn, Tue 29 Dec, 18:38
I don’t think that the opportunity to go back in time would make it more appealing to me. I’m too spoiled now. There were so many dreaded diseases, so many wars, so many hardships to overcome, I can’t think of any time period I would want to go back to. I can’t imagine not living without a refrigerator in which my favorite chocolate-peanut butter ice cream is available. Nor can I imagine living on crocodile meat, bears, or even deer meat or fish. I had deer meat as a kid and it was too tough. I think progressivism might take us back to all that eventually and that is why the future looks bleak.
Another big concern is that I will be asked to go where I am needed, not where I would prefer to go. From past experience, I know that I am usually the first to volunteer to repel off a cliff or undertake some other risky task. Jump in and get it over with has been my approach. Thus, if I am told that a couple of parents are in need of a physically or mentally challenged child so that they can learn from the experience, I will likely be the first to volunteer to be that child. I really don’t want to be in that position.
Michael Tymn, Tue 29 Dec, 18:24
Dear all, but especially Stafford Betty,
Stafford Betty asked for suggestions as to the answer to a question that puzzled him. Here are his words, copied verbatim:
The greater mystery for me remains the same: Why do ordinary ghosts seem to be formed with no medium present to provide the ectoplasm? Their origin seems to be different from the phantasms seen during a seance. Any ideas?
Stafford Betty, Mon 7 Dec, 23:03
I gave my suggestions as follows, though I have edited what I wrote then to improve the clarity and definition of the ideas.
To give a tentative answer to Stafford Betty’s question of a few days ago, (7 December) my own thought is that ghosts appear in our universe from a CONTIGUOUS universe no higher than ours, or even from a lower one, that they currently inhabit. What appears here in our universe is what CAN appear here, at least under certain rare conditions, namely the ETHERIC body of an erstwhile human, or, of course, of a human still on Earth, as the case may be. Ghosts can (sometimes) do this because they ARE still the (normally invisible) etheric bodies they formerly had, ie the etheric part, but ONLY that part, of that MULTIPLEX beingness they had when FULLY human and fully living “down here”. They have thrown away their physical bodies, as we all do, so cannot return and live here in the FULL Earth-manner. (To do that would be to reincarnate, would it not?) But they have not yet become more fully “spiritual”, which would have brought them into a higher universe, again contiguous with but TOTALLY distinct from, our universe. Maybe they (ghosts) cannot enter such a higher universe because they have not, whilst on Earth, advanced sufficiently to leap the gap between the physical and the spiritual, and so have fallen into the chasm between, which is the merely ETHERIC universe. They sometimes wish to return to the physical, as we know from Wickland and others, but cannot do that any more than they can rise to enter a spiritual universe. (They are probably not ALLOWED to enter any spiritual universe, being immature.) They remain suspended between the spiritual and the physical as Beings now having ONLY the etheric body, having lost the physical body.
By contrast, those beings who appear to us down here only via what WE call ectoplasm seem to come from a universe BEYOND the etheric which does not supply them with the means of coming back down here. They are TWO steps away from us, not only one, as ghosts are. SPIRITS therefore have to bridge the gap between their present SPIRITUAL universe and ours by borrowing a supply of OUR-world-stuff (the medium’s etheric body, which we usually term ectoplasm) in order to semi-materialise as ETHERIC beings in the physical world, and so show themselves down here. I believe those who have to try to materialise using ectoplasm, that is to say by borrowing the etheric bodies of the medium and/or other sitters are of/from this higher substance-of-being. THEY have already gone higher, and have thrown off the etheric AS WELL AS the physical. Spirit Beings want to be in touch with us, to give helpful messages, for instance, but are living in a higher level than the level of ghosts, who are in/of/from a sort of half-way-house level. Hence the higher beings’ difficulty in realising themselves down here at OUR low physical-cum-etheric level. Spirits need OUR ectoplasm to become again like US, and so able to converse and appear. Ghosts, by contrast, STILL HAVE their etheric body’s constitution, (though not their physical constitution, which is precisely WHY they are ghosts, is it not), so ghosts can appear more easily.
This is a perfectly logical scenario, and scientifically and technologically credible, so it may be correct, and so may answer your question, Stafford. I would be honoured to have your response to these ideas, which, surely, are not new. There must be thousands in the world who have formed the same conception as myself. I believe that to the rational mind the ideas I have tried to delineate unambiguously here are clear, understandable, rational - and probably therefore true.
Eric Franklin, Tue 29 Dec, 12:37
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 29 Dec, 00:32
What if you could reincarnate into a past time period? Would that make it more agreeable for you? What time period would you choose? I used to be eager to come back but now, I would like a period of rest before I attempted it again. - AOD
You may very well be right. I admit that I have the same concern as Newton, i.e., I don’t want to do this all over again from scratch, so my resistance to reincarnation is more emotional than reasonable. I don’t want to be reborn into the “progressive” world of the future. I think I would prefer to come back in an Amish family in Lancaster, PA. Of course, I recognize the contradiction there in that “progressive” can mean socialistic, even communistic, values and lifestyles. So much of life is a paradox.
When Frederick Bligh Bond asked another of the Glastonbury spirits, a more fluent speaking one, about reincarnation, the spirit replied: “You understand not reincarnation, nor can we explain. What in you reincarnates, do you think? How can you find words? Blind gropers after immutable facts, which are not of your sphere of experience.” I remain a “Blind Groper.”
Michael Tymn, Mon 28 Dec, 21:27
The idea of a group soul seems plausible if you think that on a greater scale we and everything is part of All That is or the Source.
Chris (Belgium), Mon 28 Dec, 21:10
I would like to comment on the concept of ‘group soul’. I don’t think that calling something a ‘group soul’ is precise enough to really define what is being described. I do support the idea of a group soul but perhaps meaning a couple of different things.
If one accepts the idea that a spirit entity may have had more than one incarnation in physical life and in each incarnation that entity cultivates a unique personality and upon transition back to the spiritual realm that personality is eventually placed aside as the soul goes on to another lifetime, then as a result of many lifetimes an accumulation of personalities is collected and becomes part of a ‘group soul’, an ‘over-soul’ which is the spirit consciousness much in the way that the developmental stages of human beings contribute to the overall personality in physical form. The “diamond analogy” with each facet of the diamond being a personality is sometimes used to describe this arrangement. Perhaps each of those personalities in the ‘group soul’ can be drawn upon at times to provide information such as that obtained in past life recall or automatic writing. Creative writing obtained by some automatists may be just a tapping in to information inscribed in a past life personality of their own group soul. That is, the past life personality may be ‘turned on’ at times and continue to live, but as part of the over-soul, an over-soul which is the true complete spirit entity or consciousness.
It may be that like attracts like and consciousnesses or over-souls of similar ways of being aggregate together in mutual agreement, each bringing part of itself, manifesting a personality perhaps, to the larger group soul. I think that this may be what is seen in the Imperator Group Soul manifested through Stainton Moses, Leonora Piper and others. Ultimately each ‘over-soul’ seeks reunification with its source to become part of the divine “I AM WHO AM” consciousness.
No personality is ever really lost as it is preserved as part of the over-soul and at times can manifest again when called upon. In a reality where time does not exist, all personalities exist at the same “time” but that is a topic for another discussion. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 28 Dec, 19:41
I think there is very good evidence that at least some spirit entities reincarnate. That evidence does not support the idea that all spirits reincarnate but only that some do. Past life evidence from children provides the best support for reincarnation. Birthmarks e.g., missing fingers, missing ears, prominent scars on the back of the head or neck, are strong evidence that a spirit might have returned, especially when such birthmarks are correlated to wounds or other trauma received in a previous lifetime. Behaviors and emotions carried from one lifetime to another also provide good evidence of reincarnation. And, of course speaking in unlearned languages, is difficult to explain without resorting to reincarnation as an explanation.
Ian Stevenson stated that he believed that information supposedly coming from a past life personality was more reliable when it was obtained without the help of hypnosis. I agree, having taken training to be certified as a hypnotist I am hesitant to believe all of the past life stories relayed under hypnosis, such as those obtained from adults by Dr. Brian Weiss M.D. However I think the evidence is strong that some people have reincarnated.
So, that allows the possibility that reincarnation is not mandated for any given spirit and perhaps one would have the option to choose whether or not one wanted to be reincarnated. I imagine that after having been in the spirit world for a certain period of time, one would long for or have reason for a physical experience and choose to live again either on planet earth or perhaps in some other environment.
As Kahlil Gibran wrote in ‘The Prophet’, ” Forget not that I shall come back to you. A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body. A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.”
From the perspective of physical life, physical experiences seem to be in a range from pleasant to painful. But that is how things are perceived while one is in a physical life. From a higher perspective, everything is seen as simply an experience. A part to play, a role in which one learns an infinitesimal number of ways to be and ways of being.
I will go so far as to say that one may have the option to return as a non-human to experience the joy of living in some other physical form. I am not sure that I am saying that transmigration of souls through a hierarchy of the animal and plant kingdoms is what happens but I am not necessarily hoping that it does not happen. There would be much to be learned by living in a physical form other than human.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 28 Dec, 18:38
I say this in that I believe that ‘consciousness’ is prime and that all living creatures have a bit of consciousness and are conscious of what is going on around them and that consciousness is what experiences emotion and through emotion—-consciousness creates! And it is consciousness that evolves through a myriad of incarnations and life forms and is eternal. - AOD
Dear Newton (Finn),
Within minutes of receiving your own direct email responding very positively to my paper on the real relevance of RELATIVITY to the whole question of survival, and bearing on the manner and place in which we survive, I see your comment on Mike Tymn’s Blog itself.
I agree about “Mike Tymn’s 98.8%” with your comment.
The day’s task are loudly calling me, so I shall say no more now - but WE AGREE, which is always good.
Eric Franklin, Mon 28 Dec, 11:28
Newton.. I like your ideas on reincarnation
Tricia, Mon 28 Dec, 10:35
I remember being really bothered by the evidence for reincarnation. While I’ve lived a life rich in blessings, I’ve also had, like many of us, an ample share of suffering. Thus I dreaded the idea that I would have to come back and go through another similar ordeal. Indeed, when I learned about the origins of reincarnation set forth in the ancient Brahmanic teachings, I found I was far from alone in feeling this dread—that the goal in those teachings was to escape from reincarnation’s clutches by developing a sufficient detachment from earthly things. This helped at first, but then again, the more I thought about reincarnation in light of a God of love, the more sense it made to me that those whose lives were cut off prematurely, or those who otherwise lacked the opportunity for a meaningful life, or those who wanted to come back to earth for a specific purpose such as making amends or further serving humanity, etc. might well be given, by a loving God, the choice to do so. And that’s where I intend to leave the whole reincarnation thing, right at the edge of my spiritual comfort zone. It seems that Michael, through the fascinating group soul concept, has found his own way to make peace with what to many is not a New Age cause for celebration but rather a frightening prospect: a potentially endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth in this vale of tears.
Newton Finn, Sun 27 Dec, 19:48
Dear Mike (Tymn),
I was thinking, in a merely genial way, and hinting at but not expressing very well, the notion that you might be the reincarnation of Myers. Not that I expect that to be the case. Your interests hugely overlap but shared interests are not, of course, anywhere near sufficient reason to conclude anything. I do not believe that all humans reincarnate, but I do think some are sent back to try again, having made rather awful disasters of their own lives and/or having caused the same trouble for those near them. Others of us are here and do not know why; the Earth-world is so alien to them, so uncomfortable, mainly on account of the pride, the legalistic religiosity, and the crass and greedy ethics of others. A few, I suppose, are here to be bodhisattvas. I am not sure whether any of us knows how we’ve done until we find ourselves among wiser and higher Beings.
And then we shall ourselves have the problem of communicating helpful messages to those still struggling in the human mire.
As always a lot more should be said.
Eric Franklin, Sun 27 Dec, 16:03
Yes, there seem to be many ways in which spirits communicate as well as in how they appear. I tend to stick with the more veridical manifestations in this blog. Some of the materializations look like “real” people, while others are more phantom-like or just misty forms. It seems to depend on both the strength of the medium as well as the knowledge of the spirits. There have been a number of messages indicating that most spirits are unable to materialize. They have to practice, but it is like meditation here. Some people are very good at meditating, while many can’t meditate at all. Most of the materializations are only partial, because the medium is not strong enough to produce the required ectoplasm or the harmony among the group is not sufficient. As previously discussed, it is like asking a human to draw a picture of him- or herself. Very few have the artistic ability to draw a good likeness. Spirits who have been over there a long time may not even remember what they looked like in human form and therefore fail to produce a good likeness.
Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Dec, 21:54
Thank you for your many contributions to this blog. As for reincarnation, I tend to avoid the subject as much as possible because I prefer the Group Soul idea, which does not really resemble the more orthodox belief in reincarnation. See my blogs of March 13, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018 in the archives at the left for some explanation of the Group Soul. There’s Fred Myers again to explain it. For the most part, I think it is beyond human comprehension and I am content to leave it there.
Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Dec, 21:23
Many thanks for the rich content. Old books creatively meet today’s consciousness.
Here’s my contribution: My question through the 3 parts was also, aren’t there different ways of how spirits show up?
I saw my godmother sitting on a chair, a short while after her death, and she had a bright shape, in the form of a body. It looked to me as her etheric body.
Working as a carer, at the deathbed, I have seen deathbed visitors, not in the shape of a body, but bright and loving and still personalised energy. Moving about more like flying than walking. Talking direct into my brain and hopefully also of the dying. They are most probably of etheric energy.
Also, there are spirits that are vibrant energy beings. COULD WELL BE that a higher developed spirit uses ectoplasm to show up. I cannot tell, get the idea from this blog.
Yes, we have to check out if the messages we get from spirits are of God or of the Devil. As a Christian, I was taught to distinguish. Hope I do this right, also in future.
My contribution is not scientific, not of pure english language, but personally experienced.
Gaby Kessler, Sat 26 Dec, 20:02
Dear Mike (Tymn),
Your erudition is astounding, admirable. I have never had time to discover so much about our fellow human investigators of spiritual truth. But, more importantly, they are our spiritual fellows, not just our earth-bound fellows. Nevertheless, and rightly, you must be glad that Myers (in the physical) was one of your own athletic fellows.
PS: Do you think some of us, if not all, reincarnate into THIS world, for spiritual purposes, and bring back with us some of our physical-world purposes of yesteryear?
Eric Franklin, Fri 25 Dec, 11:29
Coincidentally, a friend who edits a publication for fitness buffs asked me a few days ago to write something about fitness endeavors during the 19th century. Here are the first few paragraphs of that article:
“In his biography of Frederic W. H. Myers, “Immortal Longings,” Trevor Hamilton observed from Myers’s diary that on May 16, 1874 he did two miles in thirteen and a half minutes. “Beside the record of his time he added ‘Inextricable sadness,’” Hamilton wrote. “Through his life, while he was fit enough, one hazards that these runs, at times virtually every day, coincided with periods of intense spiritual and emotional disturbance.”
I was quite surprised to learn that anyone back in 1874 ran solely for health and fitness. I had read that William “Crowcatcher” Lang and William Richards dead-heated in 4:17 ¼ at Manchester on August 19, 1865 for “The Champion Miler of England,” but they were professional runners. Walter George was the first amateur to run a sub 4:20 mile, recording 4:19.4 on June 3, 1882. It may have been that Lang, Richards, and George ran primarily for health and fitness and just happened to venture into the competitive arena, but I can find no record of that.
Michael Tymn, Thu 24 Dec, 23:21
There is no indication that Myers, a Cambridge scholar, classics lecturer, poet, and psychical researcher, ever competed. He apparently was a fitness buff, and on a trip to the United States in 1865 decided to test himself by swimming across the Niagara River, from the Canadian side to immediately below the falls. “I plunged in; the cliffs, the cataract, the moon herself, were hidden in a tower of whirling spray; in the foamy rush I struck at air; waves from all sides beat me to and fro; I seemed immersed in thundering chaos, alone amid the roar of doom.” Myers wrote in his diary.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 24 Dec, 13:18
Before you write an essay about Frederic W. H. Myers I highly recommend the book “Immortal Longings” by Trevor Hamilton. It is a comprehensive biography of Myers that will provide in-depth understanding of his life and relationships. It could be a great ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ series by the BBC. - AOD
Eric, I’ll contact you shortly after the holidays and look forward to some interesting reading. Thanks for offering to send your paper, which I’ll do my best to digest.
AOD, glad you enjoyed my little essays. My goal this coming year, if time and energy and the muse permit, is to add a final essay on my new hero, Frederic Myers, while also touching upon Patience Worth and spiritualism in general.
Newton Finn, Wed 23 Dec, 22:02
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 23 Dec, 20:29
I enjoyed the very cogent essays on your website. Do you plan to continue the site with another essay? - AOD
You really are a marvel Michael. This is wonderful material.
Tricia, Wed 23 Dec, 20:28
Very clever how you put this all together and fascinating… these conversations on the topic of materializations.
Yes, it is very true that during most spirit sessions there are various groups of spirits that are very orderly brought to observe what occurs. Each group at various levels of comprehension of morality and of spiritual matters. As a medium, I have seen them very clearly; small and large groups. Space, place and time quite different in the spirit world.
The explanation of materialization in what has been discussed, for Spiritists, a particular medium of physical effects that uses its own “spiritual fluids” (the perispirit/astral body) in combination with those in attendance although they may not be aware of it, is used to produce the phenomena. Superior spirits are always observing, and directing spirit assistants, about what is needed to produce whatever phenomena.
I did find it amusing, that one scientist mentioned that closer to earth are the “riff raff”...
Based on close to 50 years observing spirit communications at a various different groups and spirits communicating via my own mediumship, a person with higher education, with many earthly degrees and/or wealth does not guarantee that the spirit not be so-called earthbound as indicated.
Many intelligent people, especially throughout history, were responsible for much evil.
There are very intelligent spirits that want to influence humans negatively, many revel in doing so. Therefore, they stay near us.
Also, spirits ignorant of spiritual realities and much closer to materiality (yet humble and good), as that is all they are used to, linger close to earth for one reason or another (good, bad or indifferent), until they can be convinced by the good spirits to move on towards a better spiritual path.
The level of the morality of the spirit takes precedence over everything, with knowledge of spiritual
realities a plus….
Yvonne Limoges, Wed 23 Dec, 19:58
With Mike Tymn’s and the moderator’s agreement - I am presuming neither will mind us using the Blog to make a direct contact - you can contact me as soon as you see this on <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I shall then be pleased to send you the paper in its briefer form straight away. The brief version contains all the essential ideas. There is a longer version with more context in physics and in the literature of survival and spiritualism that was written as a (prospective) whole chapter of 5000 words for a forthcoming anthology on the subject ‘Is there Life after Death?’ but was not chosen by the commissioning editors thereof. There are notes and references that I shall also send to you, and one or two of the notes are important as they explain a more-developed schema of multiple CONTEMPORANEOUS universes (NOT the well-known Everett-Wheeler multiple universe speculation - the RELATIVISTIC many universe hypothesis is a much more EVIDENCED notion).
Thank you for taking an interest. The paper is a bit difficult for those without much intuition for maths, but some others who do not consider themselves intellectual at all find they can understand the ideas, despite their apprehensions before reading the paper.
Eric Franklin, Wed 23 Dec, 19:54
Eric, I have only a fairly educated layperson’s understanding of Relativity and QM, but I’d still love to read your paper. Well I know how it feels when you think you have something important to say but no immediate access to an audience. How do we try to make this happen?
Newton Finn, Wed 23 Dec, 17:18
Dear Mike (Tymn),
I, too, have the problem with Christians that you suffer, that they think the WHOLE field of spiritual communication satanic, despite professing to acknowledge prophecies and miracles in the Bible. My own son thinks this, and it is a problem for me (and for him). But the true interpretation (as has been pointed out recently in the Blog comments themselves) is that many miraculous events recorded in the Old Testament are of the same type as recent spiritualistic events. (Eg Balaam’s ass.)
We have to hope that a more comprehensive and more enlightened overview will dawn, eventually, and that it will be realised by Christians that they have (as I have pointed out myself in recent comments) produced error to explain error during Christian history. As a result, their eyes are currently full of the mud of their own mistakes. In blunt speech, Christians are their own worst enemies in the search for truth. As one commentator said just a day or two ago, in their search for enlightenment they have to battle against centuries of erroneous tradition taught by their own blind leaders. Sad, until they wake up. It’s a good job the real God is more merciful than the churches that have arisen in his name, churches that have brought upon themselves the atheistic mockery they deserve.
Eric Franklin, Wed 23 Dec, 11:24
Dear Mike (Tymn) and all commentators,
Thank you for the view of T Glen Hamilton.
Hamilton’s view fits perfectly into the view that results from an understanding of Relativity Theory, namely that there are many CONTEMPORANEOUS universes, normally out of communication with each other.
Many months ago, Amos Doyle said (if I remember his words accurately enough) that he would tell me if my view on the matter interested him if he first inspected it. I declined to offer my view to him on this basis - Amos should not presume to appoint himself judge of my intellectual thought in this way; I am entitled to a little self-respect and the respect of fellow humans - but since then a few people who do have knowledge of accepted science such as Relativity have read the paper, including some philosophers and other accredited academics, and one world-known mathematician. While almost none have been able to respond meaningfully it is notable that not one - not a single one, however well-qualified in any field - has pointed out even the slightest error in my thought.
Perhaps I am worth reading after all.
Greetings of goodwill towards all readers of goodwill
Eric Franklin, Wed 23 Dec, 10:58
I had originally asked T. Glen Hamilton, M.D. to participate in the virtual roundtable, but he was off on a special mission and just returned. As many readers of this blog know, Dr. Hamilton, a Canadian physician, had considerable experience with physical mediums and materialization phenomena. He asked me, however, to pass on his conclusion on the matter, which is:
“According to classical psychology, all rational behaviour must follow from learning through experience. The intentional activity displayed in the teleplasms surpasses the experience and learning of any known incarnate intelligent agency. The introduction of an ‘intelligence—some manner of intelligence’—is imperative and necessary to ‘any’ explanation of the phenomena. By the evidence this is inescapable. In our opinion this incompatibility can best be resolved by the introduction of the theory of discarnate or post-mortem intelligence. From due consideration of other factors in the data, we have reached the conclusion that this discarnate intelligence can best be viewed as a deceased personality. This is the spiritistic hypothesis.”
Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Dec, 23:31
Thanks for the kind comments and the link, which I very much enjoyed. Some of my Christian friends and relatives think everything discussed in this blog is demonic. I tire of telling them that it is not and that I consider myself a Christian, although not an orthodox one.
Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Dec, 23:22
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 22 Dec, 20:43
I don’t know what I am implying other than a need to discern the difference between various natural phenomena due to defects of vision and phenomena caused by spirits, mediums or sitters. Anyone seeking truth in the matter would want to apply this discernment. Visual hallucinations are commonplace and natural as you yourself can attest. Additionally,some aberrant brain or mental states can produce life-like visual hallucinations of people and animals. Indistinct, mists that quickly disintegrate into the air are not sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that such so-called figures were either caused by spirits or were the spirits themselves—- especially in a dark séance room. - AOD
On reading Part 3 of the Round Table I find that the experts of the time (late 19th century onward) that Mike Tymn quotes all interpret their observations (without knowing it, of course) in accordance with the hypothesis that follows inexorably from Einstein’s Relativity, the view of Relativity that I have been persistently advocating. The experts speak of many different levels and realms. My paper does the same - and puts it all on a truly scientific footing they were not aware of. No-one can refute Einstein’s Relativity.
I am very very surprised to see that almost no-one shows interest in this cogent view, but one reader of Michael’s Blog DID ask for a copy of my paper. He says
“I did read your paper and found it both credible and ‘relatively’ (no pun intended) straightforward.”
A long-standing member of the SPR says he believes my schema based on Relativity accommodates virtually the whole of Psi.
A Cambridge mathematician with his own Wikipedia page and even a mathematical procedure named after him says I have handled this difficult subject very well.
No-one at all has pointed out any error in the paper.
Does no-one else think my paper just might, remotely possibly, just might, be worth reading?
Would anyone else like to have a copy?
Eric Franklin, Tue 22 Dec, 20:25
Just a brief comment on the several visual-impairment effects you mentioned at the end of the comments to the previous section (I’m just now catching up, and saw it just a moment ago)...
I have, personally, been affected by all three of the conditions you mention…
—I’ve had “floaters” (loose vitreous fragments) for as long as I can remember (and they’re now at the point of being a major annoyance)...
—I’ve had a “detached vitreous” in my left eye for some years now (in my case, not much of a problem, as that eye has been largely non-functional—due to scar tissue right in the center of the macula—ever since birth…
—And perhaps most germane to this discussion, your third element (I don’t recall the medical term you used) which sounds very much like the “aura” that many people, myself included, experience as part of a “migraine” event (even, as in my case, without the headaches.
The bottom line is that, based on my own experience at least, it would be essentially impossible for any currently rational (i.e., neither very drunk nor very high)person to confuse any of these visual events with, as I think you’re implying, spiritual experience.
Don Porteous, Tue 22 Dec, 18:58
I’ve come to treasure this blog, as I know have many others. It’s truly a gift to each of us who seek some sort of handle, as much as there can be one, on the great mystery that surely lies ahead of the mystery we’re currently in. In that spirit, let me pick up on a comment by Dr. Crawford: “For this and for other reasons I have rather come to the conclusion that one of the central ideas underlying the activities of the next state is that of service.” If that is a central idea of the next state, should it not also be a central idea of this one? And if so, what exactly is “service”? A while back, I tried to answer this question in traditional religious terms, me being an ordained, though rather unorthodox, minster. So at this holiday season, I offer my little essay on this subject as a gift, for whatever it may be worth, to Michael and to all the new friends I’ve found here because of him.
Newton Finn, Tue 22 Dec, 17:18
Thanks for pointing that out, Eric. My mistake. I’ve send out a corrected version.
Jon, Tue 22 Dec, 16:17
Amos, thanks for the comment. As you probably know, Richet discreetly moved toward survival in his final years, although he would never completely say so. Incidentally, George Wehner, the opera composer and medium, mentioned in my last blog comment, said the same thing about other spirits gathering around.
Michael Tymn, Mon 21 Dec, 19:28
Great wind-up to the discussion. I particularly liked the Richet quote. Almost every word seems to be carefully selected by Richet to straightforwardly convey his thoughts. Who would not agree with him that “When we devote ourselves to the high task of seeking truth, we ought not to be intimidated by the opinion of the crowd, nor allured by any obscure desire for personal immortality…” Lincoln might have written the same thing.
The quote from Crawford about the séance room and sitters being “surrounded by a huge invisible audience arranged in an orderly and disciplinary manner, perhaps tier upon tier as in a lecture theater” reminds me of the scene from the movie ‘Ghost’ where the character played by Whoopi Goldberg was conducting a séance and the room was filled to overflowing with spirit entities—-quite a memorable scene. Apparently whoever wrote or directed that movie was aware of what might go on during a séance.
Good job Michael. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 21 Dec, 18:13
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