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Why Red Indians So Often “Control” Mediums

Posted on 08 August 2011, 13:07

One of the real curiosities of trance mediumship, especially that of yesteryear, is the abundance of Red Indians serving as guides, or, as they are more often referred to,  “controls.”  Red Cloud, Silver Birch, Red Jacket, Sunflower, Silver Belle, Shenandoah, White Eagle, Silver Star, Chloe, Kokum, Hawk Chief, Chlorine, and Big Horn are some of the guides or controls who come to mind.  There were many “controls” without Red Indian names, but the Indians seemed to have a disproportionately high representation.
Recently, however, there have been many interesting reports coming from observers of a group in Montcabirol, France known as the Yellow Cloud Circle. The mediums are Tom Morris and Kevin Lawrenson.  Isabelle Duchene of Belgium reported on her sitting with the Yellow Cloud Group at her web site.  She states that she was allowed to take a psychic photo (meaning she takes a picture when she feels or sees that the energy of the subject is present) of Yellow Cloud. She further explains that when she took the picture, (with a normal small digital camera) the medium, (who in this case was Kevin Lawrenson) was sitting in the cabinet with the curtain open; the room was dark other than a red light was on. When she looked through the view finder on the camera she saw Kevin sitting in the chair, but when the picture was developed it was as below.


Essentially, the spirit “control” has two duties.  The first is to protect the medium from earthbound spirits.  There have been reports that many “earthbound” spirits are clamoring to communicate, even if they don’t know the people sitting with the medium.  There is concern that the earthbound spirits will attach themselves to the medium’s aura or energy field and negatively influence her or him.  It is the duty of the “control” to prevent this from happening, permitting only certain spirits access to the medium.  In the protector role, the control is sometimes referred to as the “gatekeeper” or “doorkeeper.”

The second duty is to act as an intermediary on the spirit side, passing on messages from spirits who do not know how to communicate through a medium. In the intermediary role, the control is a medium on that side of the veil, interpreting messages from other spirits and passing them on through the earthly medium to the sitter.  Just as few people on this side can communicate directly with spirits, few spirits can communicate directly with those on this side.  In effect, the communicating spirit gives a message to the “control” who sends it through the earthly medium to the person sitting with the medium.

There are also some controls, although “guides” may be a better word for them, who are not so much intermediaries as they are teachers. They are more advanced spirits who come to teach higher truths.  Silver Birch and Red Cloud were examples of this type, although Red Cloud seems to have functioned both as an intermediary and as a teacher. 

Speaking through trance medium Anna Wickland on March 12, 1924, Silver Star, Anna Wickland’s primary “control,” told Dr. Carl Wickland, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and Anna’s husband, that mediums so often have Indians as controls, guides, or helpers because Indians have no beliefs or dogmas to overcome when they pass to the spirit world.  So many “pale faces” are grounded in materialism and handicapped by religious dogma and doctrine that they do not know how to control “Nature’s forces.”  Unfettered by materialistic attachments and religious dogma, the Indians are able to make a much better adjustment after they transition to “The Happy Hunting Ground” and to “tune in” to various vibrational levels because they have learned to be one with nature during their earth lives.
“Some people think Indians do not know anything because they have not had much schooling,” Silver Star added, “but they have true love for The Great Spirit and a true love for helping others.”  Another of Mrs. Wickland’s controls was Movilia, who had been an Eskimo medicine man of high order with a profound knowledge of nature.

Big Horn, the control for Frederic Harding, communicated much the same thing, pointing out that because they grew up close to nature they were more attuned to the Infinite Spirit in all things and therefore they more easily adjusted to the vibrations of the spirit world.  However, he went on to say that “the white man’s greed, his abuse of the earliest trust of the natives, his false trading, his loose moral code, his inconsistent religious life, and above all, his ‘fire water’ gradually and inevitably corrupted, embittered and ruined the spiritual life of the Red People.” 

Silver Birch, the guide for British trance medium Maurice Barbanell, said that he was not a Red Indian.  “I am using the astral body of a Red Indian because this particular one had many psychic gifts on earth and therefore became available for me when I was asked to return and engage on this mission,” he explained.  “My life on earth goes back as an individual much further than the Red Indian I use to speak to you.”

The communicating entity further explained that Silver Birch was his medium on that side, just as Barbanell was the medium in the world of those in attendance at the séance.  “I had to have what in your world would be a transformer, someone through whom the vibrations can be stepped up or slowed down so that I can achieve communication on your level,” the entity explained. 

The entity using Silver Birch’s astral body, stressed that his identity in the earth life made no difference as no one would be able to prove it one way or the other anyway.  He asked to be judged solely on what he had to say.  He added that his knowledge comes from the infinite source and streams through countless beings, “each charged with particular tasks to ensure that as much of its purity and pristine beauty should be preserved.  There is a great host of beings, ranging from what you might call the masters.  They are beyond such descriptions.” 

Still another mysterious entity was Red Cloud, the control of British medium Estelle Roberts.  In addition to acting as a go-between for Roberts during sittings, he also, like Silver Birch, delivered many lectures on philosophical matters. In her autobiography, Roberts said than in her nearly 50 years of being controlled by Red Cloud, his true identity was never revealed. “He has never told us who he was on earth,” she wrote. “When asked, he has always answered: ‘Know me by my works.’ We know that he passed this way before us, when he probably dwelt in Egypt…We know that his identity as a Red Indian is a cloak which is assumed in order to make receptive by us the very high vibrations that are naturally his because of his advanced spiritual attainment.”


London Fleet Street journalist Hannen Swaffer sat with Roberts on numerous occasions during the 1930s. “Red Cloud cannot be described,” he wrote.  “When you know him you love him, so full is he of wisdom, kindness and helpfulness. He never speaks ill of anybody and never condemns.  Often he breaks into poetry, blank verse and rhyme mixed up, much of it perfect metre and rhythm and occasionally almost Shakespearean in its beauty…Often he uses language so beautiful that you find tears in your eyes, and you are glad it is dark. Sometimes he quotes modern poetry which the medium has never read.  When asked where he obtains it, he tells you he has access to all the literature and poetry that has ever been written.  He speaks of the ‘Council’ on the Other Side.  He personifies a Plan.  His knowledge of the Bible is amazing.  Yet, although he prefers to be known as an Indian, I feel certain it is only a cloak that hides his real self.”

When they are not Indians, they are often young children.  “When a spirit who has lived to an old age on earth acts as guide, through his contact with matter he is apt to sense his last physical condition and this often leaves an old and tired feeling with the medium, while children bring a youthful magnetism,” Dr. Wickland was told by a communicating spirit.

When scientists and scholars began investigating the mediumship of Leonora Piper, a Boston, Mass. trance medium, back in 1885, they jumped to the conclusion that her primary spirit control, identifying himself as “Dr. Phinuit,” a former French holistic physician, was a secondary personality buried in Mrs. Piper’s subconscious, as they could find no record of Phinuit having existed as a human (although many records which may have verified his existence were destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870).  Somehow, they reasoned, this secondary personality could tap into the minds of sitters and feed information back to them.  When information came through that was unknown to the sitters but later confirmed as fact, the researchers broadened the telepathy hypothesis by suggesting that the secondary personality could access minds anywhere in the world and even dip into some cosmic reservoir for information, then somehow organize all of the data and carry on a conversation with the sitters and the researchers.  Any hypothesis, no matter how far-fetched, was preferable to spirits, as believing in spirits would have meant a return to religious superstition in an age of enlightenment. 

But then a spirit named “George Pellew” started taking over from Dr. Phinuit.  Pellew had just died in a fall a few months earlier and was known to Dr. Richard Hodgson, the chief researcher.  He gave every indication of being the same George Pellew that Hodgson had known.  Hodgson and many other researchers then abandoned the secondary personality hypothesis and moved to a belief that the spirit control was just what it claimed to be – the spirit of a dead person.  .

But many modern parapsychologists see the secondary personality hypothesis as more acceptable because it “more scientific.”  What none of them seems to be able to explain, though, is why all of these secondary personalities are liars.  Why are all claiming to be spirits of the dead?  Or to put it another way, why is the subconscious trying to trick the conscious and the sitters into believing it is the spirit of a dead person – Red Indian or otherwise. It is one thing to believe that a few minds are so warped as to play tricks on the conscious self and others, but it seems highly unlikely that all minds want to play the same game with the conscious self.  If so, they must be in some way programmed to carry out the imposture.  If that is the case, who programmed them all?  If God did the programming, why is He, She, or It trying to trick everyone into believing in spirits?  It simply doesn’t make sense.

After studying Mrs. Piper for nearly 18 years, Dr. Hodgson died on December 20, 1905 while playing handball.  On May 6, 1906, M. A. De Wolfe Howe paid tribute to Hodgson at the annual meeting of the Tavern Club in Boston.  In that tribute he read from a private letter written by Hodgson in 1901.  Hodgson wrote:  “I went through toils and turmoils and perplexities in ’97 and ’98 about the significance of this whole Imperator regime (a spirit called Imperator replaced Dr. Phinuit and George Pellew as Mrs. Piper’s control), but I have seemed to get on a rock after that – I seem to understand clearly the reasons for the incoherence and obscurity, etc., and I think that if for the rest of my life from now I should never see another trance or have another word from Imperator or his group, it would make no difference to my knowledge that all is well, that Imperator, etc., are all they claim to be and are indeed messengers that we may call divine.”

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.



Thank you, I have come to a conclusion that these beings are us, my spirit guide called himself White Cloud, thanks to the internet I discovered many who are contacted by him, after a few years of ‘working’ with him on a ‘mission’I began questioning things, I started to read up on what religious people say and began believing them, after a few years I researched more and learn’t about the Trickster Archetype, it is apart of our collective conscious we created to keep chaos going, this keeps our individuality illusion going and this game of life going, yet in reality we are all one, that oneness when accessed is beautiful and when we experience it we call it home, in an OBE I had I didn’t want to leave that feeling, but the Trickster consciousness ensures we don’t go home too soon. It ensures that though the chaos it creates that we strive to understand and evolve, we learn courage,endurance, empathy and compassion, in short love. But we have taken this separation from source too far, time to get some balance back.

Kerrie, Fri 20 Jul, 08:14

I would have thought that the deep humility in the way they ( silver birch…red cloud…abu) convey their knowledge to us ....I have only read and listened to these I have mentioned….must surely tell us that a much higher learning is within them…..what wonderful people ....what amazing learning for us all to yu all

mary j, Thu 23 Jul, 01:07

as a practising healer all of this is of great interest to me and i totally agree with ms owl over what so called christians say about us i wish i had a £1 for every time i have been called evil my answer is simple i say to them remember what jesus said? teach the people heal the people on both these counts so called christianity is guilty of not doing these things all they want to do is enslave the people so they can get richer and more powerful. enough of that i recently moved down to dorset in uk anyone know of any circles that i could join? grateful for any info

ken evans, Thu 25 Apr, 18:25

Very interesting, as a strong beleiver of “spirit” or “soul” I think yuwill find that all jumans have one, when yu gointo a trance, its like assesing the spirit within yourself. Ive been a trance medium for years and been scared of it, now Ive been reading and studying about Mrs Gladys Osbourne Leonard, and I think she was genuine, just as Mrs Piper was, its these other ones that bring it down.. Ive recently ahd an encounter with a vision, I saw it in the sky, I looked it up today on the internet, and find there is one such person, an indian cheif, why they always appear to us whites as spirit guides I have no idea, but they do. I was brought up in a christian church, and told this was evil, or “of the devil” to have a spirit guide,I see now it was rot, we all have them. Normally family memebrs who have died before us, its only natural to “keep it in the family”, but they come back as native american indians, or animals!I love Mother Earth, father Sky, but not sure who Granni or Grandpa or daughters or sons r, any ideas? Owl

Jacqui noti Owl, Sat 6 Apr, 12:17

It matters not the name.  What matters is your discernment.  Discerning what feels right for you.  We like to have a name as we’re human and it’s comfortable for us.  Thank you for a great article.  There are many things we do not know or understand and that is what makes it all so interesting.

Lane, Sun 11 Dec, 19:19

I have a very powerful guide, who identifies itself as “Magic”, a litle corney, but i’m called a “Sidihi”. It is what it tbis.

Darlene Schmidt, Mon 31 Oct, 21:40

As always, Mike, this is extremely interesting, and no one else on the planet could do this as well as you. After I read the last chapter in your book about how reincarnation is not what we think it is, your explanation of spirit guides or controls is more comprehensible.
Thanks once again!

Jane Katra, Thu 11 Aug, 09:57


Thank you for your comments.  I guess that I am not current on what is offensive these days. Isn’t the professional football team from Washington still called the Washington Redskins? 
I saw “red” as a way to distinguish native American Indians from India Indians, nothing more.  I suspect that if one is sensitive enough, he would not want to be labeled an “American” Indian.  I hope no one takes offense.  If he or she does, my apologies.  I remain a white European American, or as they say in Hawaii, a haole. I’m in the minority here and haole is something of a derogatory word to some, but I just laugh it off. I’m too old to be politically correct.  I do appreciate having this called to my attentioin. Aloha! Mike

Michael Tymn, Tue 9 Aug, 13:42

Mike, this is a fascinating question, but I must tell you, there is a real problem with this post.  The term “Red Indian” was probably fine in the days of these 19th-century mediums, but it would be extremely offensive today.  I’m not a Native American, but it is making my stomach jump pretty seriously.

Elene, Tue 9 Aug, 11:58

As a medium, I have always accepted the “closer to
nature” version of aboriginal guides and helpers.
As an anthropologist, though, at first I was more
skeptical, since that seemed to be a rather euro-centric and somewhat romanticised view. Over time, though, I have come to accept that view as both an anthropologist as well as a medium, because I think we need many more like Silver Birch to push us closer to nature as well as to Spirit. That makes a lot of sense to me.

paul biscop, Mon 8 Aug, 23:54

A fascinating story Michael - or collection of stories! I guess the same sort of reasoning about profound spirituality would also apply to the many oriental spirit guides. So many seem to come from India or Tibet where the core belief of religion in a cosmic spirituality was prevalent centuries if not millennia before it emerged in the West.

howard jones, Mon 8 Aug, 20:46

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