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Why “Higher Truths” Have Been Rejected By Humans

Posted on 02 June 2014, 9:51

Why don’t they say something meaningful?  Why not tell us about how they live in the spirit world?  Why not give us a cure for cancer?  Why so much trivial stuff, like what happened to Uncle Jerry’s gold watch?  Such were the questions often asked by skeptics about messages purportedly coming from spirits in the early days of psychical research.  The same questions are still asked today. It is something of a Catch 22 situation; that is the “trivial stuff” is evidential and designed to convince people of the reality of spirit communication and a spirit world, while communication setting forth “higher truths” are not subject to validation or verification. 

Such skeptics only show their ignorance, as there were volumes of messages coming through mediums in those early years about the nature of the afterlife and its relationship to the material world.  As pointed out in my last blog post here, Adin Ballou,  possibly the first serious psychical researcher, explained some of it in his 1852 book, but much more was set forth by Judge John Edmonds and Dr. George T. Dexter in their 1853 book, Spiritualism, most of it purportedly communicated by the spirits of Emanuel Swedenborg, (below) a renowned 18th Century scientist, and Francis Bacon, a distinguished 17th Century scientist and philosopher. Not long after that, still in the 1850s, French researcher Allan Kardec provided a wealth of information supposedly coming from a number of advanced spirits, including Swedenborg.  Still in the 1850s, Robert Hare, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned inventor, recorded many messages relating to the nature of the afterlife and the laws governing it. 


Ballou noted that a number of mediums had been discredited and branded charlatans because the words supposedly coming from great minds in the spirit world were not consistent with their styles or modes of expression when in the earth life.  He concluded that these great minds in the spirit world, realizing how difficult it is to find a medium with the necessary intellectual capacity to convey their message, concerned themselves more with communicating fundamental principles and ideas than with the verbiage.  “I read communications purporting to come from these illustrious sources with a good deal of distrust,” he offered. “Yet, I cannot doubt that some of them are substantially authentic and reliable. 
These, however, are not all invulnerable to the objection.  A part of them exhibit the defects complained of.  How is this to be accounted for?  By making due allowances for the imperfection of the mediums. Perhaps not one in fifty of those yet developed is susceptible of sufficient spiricity to be a clear intellectual medium and at the same time passive enough not to perplex the impressions and expressions of a communicating spirit.  Yet, without this strength, clearness, and complete passivity of the medium, no spirit can be expected to give his own peculiar language.  The medium is a sort of amanuensis, translator, or interpreter of the spirit’s leading ideas.  In this character, mediums will exhibit, in various degrees, the defects of their own respective rhetoric.  Unless their perspicuity, force, and command of language be equal to that of the mind communicating through them, the same result will follow, as when an accomplished mind in the flesh is obliged to write or speak through a clumsy amanuensis, translator, or interpreter.” 

Ballou wondered why messages coming through mediums sometimes reflected their own ideas.  “In such cases the mediums are of recent development and very imperfect, or else, for the time being, are in an impassive, feverish state, greatly influenced by positive minds near them,” he opined. “These exercise a strong physical influence, and either suspend, or warp and deflect the action of the spirit attempting to respond.”

Edmonds, (below) who served as Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, also took note of   conflicting messages.  As he understood it, spirits do not become all-knowing once they enter the spirit world and thus they sometimes disagree with each other.  Much depends on their degree of advancement.  One of the problems was that spirits in the lower realms – the less advanced ones – could more easily communicate with people on earth than those spirits in a much higher vibration.  “There are at times contradictions and inconsistencies in spiritual intercourse, as all must be aware, but there is one remarkable fact, viz., that amid all these incongruities – through all mediums, whether partially or highly developed – from all the spirits who commune, whether progressed or unprogressed, there is a universal accordance on one point, and that is that we pass into the next state of existence just what we are in this; and that we are not suddenly changed into a state of perfection or imperfection, but find ourselves in a state of progression, and that this life on earth is but a preparation for the next, and the next but a continuation of this.”


In fact, Edmonds, who set out to debunk mediums, developed mediumistic abilities of his own and soon recognized that most messages were subject to “moral taint” – that is, influenced by the mind of the medium.  “Take my own mediumship as an illustration.  The visions which I have are impressed on my mind as vividly and distinctly as any material object possibly can be, yet in giving them to others, I must rely upon and use my own powers of observation, my own memory, my own command of language, and I not infrequently labor under the difficulty of feeling that there is no work known to me that is adequate to conveying the novel ideas communicated. I am often conscious that I fail, from poverty of language, in conveying the sentiment I receive with the same vigor and clearness with which it comes to me.  So it is also with what I may call the didactic teachings through me. Sometimes the influence is so strong that I am given, not merely the ideas, but the very words in which they are clothed, and I am unconscious of what I am going to say until I actually say it.  At other times, the thought is given me sentence by sentence, and I know not what idea or sentence is to follow, but the language used is my own and is selected by myself from my own memory’s storehouse.  And at other times the whole current of thought or process of reasoning is given me in advance, and I choose for myself the language and the illustrations used to convey it, and sometimes the order of giving it. But in all these modes there is more or less of myself in them, more or less of my individuality underlying it all.  It must indeed be so, or why should I speak or write in my own tongue rather than in a dead or a foreign language unknown to me?”

Nevertheless, Edmonds’s daughter, Laura, seems to have been a much more advanced or developed medium, as she spoke only English and a smattering of French in her conscious state, but spoke Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, Hungarian, and Indian dialects fluently when entranced (or rather the spirits spoke the languages using her voice mechanism).  Still, the spirits were limited in what they could communicate through Laura and other more developed mediums.

As an example of the problem, let’s say that Albert Einstein, now in the spirit world, wants to communicate an important scientific fact to a scientist still in the flesh here on earth.  Unless he can find a medium with a very high IQ who is conversant in the particular science and in mathematical ways of expressing ideas, he will fail.  If he succeeds in finding a very smart medium but one still lacking in the necessary intelligence, it is probable that whatever Einstein has to say will come out distorted and convoluted, so much so that it is meaningless or worthless.

If some medium were to approach a famous scientist and tell the scientist that Einstein has some important information to communicate to him or her, the scientist would no doubt sneer at the very suggestion and tell the medium to get lost.  Thus, it is not likely that Einstein will even make the attempt, nor is it likely that some scientist on the other side who possibly knows the cure for cancer will be able to communicate it.  However, he might attempt to impress some ideas directly on the brain of a scientist whom he deems capable of understanding them, but such impressions are also subject to misinterpretations and distortions as they are filtered through the brain of the earthly scientist.  Still, such inspirational impressions are considered by many familiar with mediumship to be a big part of advances in knowledge, even if the person receiving the inspiration doesn’t realize where the ideas are coming from and takes all the credit for him- or herself.

The bottom line to all this is that there are different kinds of mediums and they vary significantly in ability, depending on a number of factors, including passivity and development.  The messages coming through them can be “colored” or tainted by their own minds as the ideas are filtered through their brains, but when those messages are contrary to what the medium believes and consistently come through other mediums, we should consider the possibility that there is some truth in them.

It was Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist, mathematician, inventor, statesman, author, and mystic,  credited with making significant discoveries in astronomy, anatomy, chemistry, and geology, who, according to spirit messages, worked with Benjamin Franklin in the spirit world, and figured out how to communicate through people who came to be called mediums by means of “raps,” “taps,” and “table tilting – so many raps, taps, or tilts of the table for each letter of the alphabet.  Considering the many messages he sent through several mediums, including the famous Andrew Jackson Davis, in those early years of mediumship, he seems to have had a mission – one of enlightening the world to the true nature of both this world and the spirit world.  In fact, the two volumes published by Edmonds and Dexter contain over 1,000 pages with hundreds of ideas or “truths” for the most part foreign to religious, philosophical, and scientific beliefs of the day.  But because what Swedenborg and Bacon communicated was not totally consistent with what they believed in the flesh – either in thought or in manner of expression – the skeptics attacked it as fraudulent and the religionists called it demonic.

Swedenborg, Bacon, and other “great minds” in the spirit world provided us with answers to nearly all the questions people had and still have about the nature of reality, but 160 years later it is still ignored.  Clearly, there is no point in other great minds from the spirit world attempting to educate and enlighten us, as few, if any, would believe it to be true.  “Yeah, yeah, and what does Cleopatra have to say?” would be the smug, self-righteous reaction.  How sad!!!

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014

ext blog post:  June 16



Thanks for that.  It looks like you answered your own question.

Michael Tymn, Tue 10 Jun, 19:44

This is taken from <The Voices> by Admiral W. Usbourne Moore which documents numerous seances with Etta Wriedt:


… permit me to say a few words on my own experience of Mrs. Wriedt. During her visit to London this year I had the opportunity of some séances with her. Two of these were private sittings at midday with Miss Ramsden. In one of these private sittings, when no one was present but Miss Ramsden, myself, and Mrs. Wriedt, we sat for the first part in good light. I had previously, when alone, carefully examined every part of the room, and assured myself that no one was concealed and no suspicious apparatus was present; the only door opened on to a landing with a window, through which the sunlight was streaming. Any person attempting to enter the room through the door would therefore have been detected at once, when the room was darkened. When, after my examination of the room, Mrs. Wriedt and Miss Ramsden entered, the door was locked, and one of the electric lights over our head was left on to illuminate the room. We sat on chairs adjoining each other; I sat next to Mrs. Wriedt and held her hand. Miss Ramsden sat on my left. We asked Mrs. Wriedt to let us try in the light first, and at her suggestion Miss R. held the small end of a large aluminium trumpet to her ear; the larger end I supported with my left hand. My body therefore came between the trumpet and the medium. I had previously looked into the trumpet, which was perfectly bare and smooth. Presently Miss Ramsden said she heard a voice speaking to her, and entered into conversation with the voice. I only heard a faint whispering sound, but no articulate words. To avoid the possibility of Mrs. Wriedt being the source of the whispering, I engaged her in talk, and while she was speaking Miss Ramsden still heard the faint voice in the trumpet, but begged us to stop speaking, as it prevented her hearing distinctly what the voice said. Miss Ramsden assured me afterwards there could be no doubt whatever that the voice in the trumpet was independent of Mrs. Wriedt, and I can testify that I watched the medium and saw nothing suspicious in the movement of her lips. She did not move from her place, and no accomplice or concealed arrangement could possibly have produced the voice….

When the voice ceased speaking, the trumpet was placed with its broad end on the floor standing upright near Miss Ramsden. The electric light was now switched off, and the room became absolutely dark. A very loud man’s voice almost immediately called out: “God bless you: God bless you.” Mrs. Wriedt said it was the soidisant John King. I begged her to place her right hand on mine, which held her left hand. She did so, and I distinctly felt the two hands, my left hand being free.
During every séance with her Mrs. Wriedt remained perfectly normal, talking with me or others present, and not in the least excited. On this occasion, in a few moments I felt something rather cold gently stroking my face. And, as at a previous sitting when a rose was placed in my hand, the act was performed without any fumbling about….

Much more impressive were the voices; sometimes very loud, apparently through the trumpet, at other times faint and directed close to my face or that of my companion. These voices were heard often simultaneously when Mrs. Wriedt was speaking, and while I held her hand, as I did at every sitting. There is little doubt that I should have felt the movement had she attempted to get up and seize the trumpet which was not near her, or place her mouth near Miss Ramsden or Mrs. Anker, who on one occasion sat next to me and heard the voice speaking in Norwegian, as she informed me….

I went to Mrs. Wriedt’s séances in a somewhat sceptical spirit, but I came to the conclusion that she is a genuine and remarkable medium, and was given abundant proof to others besides myself that the voices and the contents of the messages given are wholly beyond the range of trickery or collusion. Like nearly all mediums through whom physical phenomena are manifested, she may, consciously or unconsciously, sometimes be obsessed with a spirit of stupid trickery, which, in several cases that I have known, appears like the projection of the fixed ideas of hostile sitters among those present. In fact, all of us project our thoughts into the unseen, and more often than we know they come back to us as objective realities….

For what it’s worth, according to this report Etta Wriedt could be speaking while other voices were being produced elsewhere in the room.


Tom Davies, Tue 10 Jun, 03:52


Here is what Riley Heagerty, author of “The French Connection” has to say:

“In the most legitimate cases of Direct Voice & Independent Voice, the spirits speak for themselves with no spill over effect as with trance.  There is always the ‘like attracts like ‘effect happening & a medium because of their own personality, can attract low level types, but not affect the actual voicing. 
So, in my opinion, there is small chance if any that the filtering happens.  With Emily French, Elizabeth Blake (another book I am writing right now along with the Bangs), Etta Wriedt, Estelle Roberts and all of the great mediums, the voices were totally free of filtering and bypassed the brain.”

Michael Tymn, Mon 9 Jun, 19:13


Like you, I had thought at one time that the direct-voice was not subject to distortion and coloring, since the medium’s brain was not involved, but then I read somewhere—possibly with Leslie Flint, as Elene has suggested—that it is.  There is very little on this to allow one to come to a definitive conclusion.  I have asked Riley Heagerty if he knows and will let you know what he says.  Riley has had a lot of experience with direct voice mediums

Michael Tymn, Fri 6 Jun, 19:01

Tom—For whatever it’s worth, the image of the “jungle” of the medium’s mind was given to me in answer to a question specifically about Leslie Flint’s work.  My understanding is that even with direct voice, the medium has a great deal of influence over what comes through.  But my understanding is very far from complete.

Elene Gusch, Wed 4 Jun, 09:29

Dear Mike,
Besides what you have already excellently expounded upon, in my experience,and with the understanding that each situation can be very different, there are many other things
that may affect a spirit communication:
- the quality and development of the person’s mediumship—Have they prepared themselves properly in order to receive spirit communications? (having the right state of mind; feeling relaxed, peaceful and receptive; understanding the seriousness of the act they are about to partake in, etc.)
- the ambience of the place where the communication is received;
- the affect of the energies of the persons surrounding the medium attempting to receive spirit messages;
- the freewill of the spirits themselves. The spirits are not subject to our dictates; 
- whether the superior spirits in charge allow certain things to be revealed at all;
- how much the spirit knows about communcating through mediums.

Yvonne Limoges, Wed 4 Jun, 07:11


I am wondering if direct voice (e.g. Etta Wriedt and Leslie Flint) has the limitations you described since it does not seem to directly involve the mind and body of the medium, or am I mistaken?


Tom Davies, Wed 4 Jun, 04:43

An excellent summary of the challenges involved with spirit communication.

A few years ago I was trying to ask my favorite deceased musician about the ways in which the medium’s own mind affects communication.  He showed me an image of a thickly overgrown jungle—the spirit entity must hack and push its way through all these many barriers, all the exuberantly growing “plants” crowding the inside of the medium’s head, in order to get an idea through.

A couple of months ago I was stuck in a confusing issue regarding arpeggio technique on the piano.  I had an opportunity to ask my friend, one of the major developers of modern keyboard technique, for enlightenment.  Instead of giving me words or imagery, he picked up my arms and showed me a certain gesture.  I tried this at the piano as soon as I could.  It solved some problems, but seemed to create others.  As I’ve continued to practice, I’ve kept it in mind and experimented further.  It’s useful, even crucial, but he was only able to show it to me in a crude and awkward form, his control of my arms being pretty vague, and then it was up to me (and my Earth-based teacher) to interpret and refine the idea. 

That seems to be how spirit communication always is, to a greater or lesser degree.  A lot depends on the medium’s willingness, and ability, to get out of the way.

Elene, Tue 3 Jun, 23:35

A wonderful post, Mike! We support the idea that much depends on the medium’s own intellectual capacities at times in our book:

“When utilizing a human medium as a receiver-interpreter, the Risen often try to explain what their life is like. Like most people, they want their loved ones to know how they’re feeling and that they’re alive and well. They want to share their experiences, just as we would call a friend on the phone to describe some fantastic foreign country we’re visiting. In just the way that feelings precede the words we then use to describe these feelings, a Risen One will utilize our emotions to evoke symbols and words that are familiar enough to the human medium so they can be interpreted, and which the medium can then relay to others. The symbolism may take shape intuitively as feeling and impressions, as well as mind-pictures, inner sounds, smells, tastes, and memories—all ways in which we also sense the physical world around us.

“Our minds are extraordinarily skilled at making connections and often the pieces come together like a puzzle. The more educated a medium is about a particular subject, the better he can recognize that particular type of material and put the pieces together. If a serious Risen mathematician wanted to relay information on the work she’s continuing to do in her new life, she might not want to utilize me for that, as I’m severely lacking in mathematical knowledge. But I’m educated in the arts, religion, natural sciences, and psychology, which makes me quite accessible as a source for symbols associated with those areas.”

August Goforth, Tue 3 Jun, 18:44

Professor James Hyslop,Ph.D., LL.D. who unabashedly believed in spirits and regularly through mediums such as Mrs. Chenoweth, communicated with many well-known personages including Lord Alfred Tennyson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and many others.  Hyslop believed that communication with ‘the other side’ was exceedingly difficult and sometimes required information to pass through 4, 5, 6, or more entities including the medium, a control, a guide or a group figure as represented by Imperator, Rector, Doctor and Mentor each one adding their own interpretation of the message coming through, commonly in pictographic symbols which had to be interpreted by each participant in the chain of communication.  This process did not lend itself to accuracy, that is, it did not necessarily provide untarnished information solely from any one given communicator.  Hyslop believed that it was clear that messages coming from the spirit world reflect the influence of more than just the mind of the communicator.  In his book Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature, Hyslop wrote two definitive chapters concerning the problems of spirit communication addressing the difficulties of the problems of communication and its process.  After reading Hyslop’s explanation in these two chapters, I personally have found no other explanation as complete as his. I think he provided the final word on the subject. Those who know Hyslop and his detailed writing style will know that he will leave no stone unturned in his explanation.- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 3 Jun, 03:26

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