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Five Different Mind-Sets in the Search for Truth

Posted on 20 October 2014, 11:50

When William Stainton Moses, a Church of England priest, first read about the mediumship of D. D. Home he called it the “dreariest twaddle.”  His good friend, Dr. Stanhope Speer referred to it as all “stuff and nonsense.”  It wasn’t long after their cynical remarks were made that Moses discovered that he had mediumistic abilities, both mental and physical.  In fact, the phenomena produced through Moses’s mediumship approached those of D. D. Home.  It included levitations, floating objects, strange music, the direct voice, the trance voice, and automatic writing.  Suddenly Moses was in the position he once found himself relative to explaining things to others.  He classified the correspondents and inquirers into five groups.  With some abridgements,  I quote directly from Moses’s 1879 book, Spirit-Identity:

Pseudo-Scientific: “One class of correspondents, whom I may call the scientific or pseudo-scientific, take much trouble to explain to me, some with great courtesy, others with great pity, some with patience, and a few with asperity, that I am a fool – they don’t say so, but they mean it none the less – for believing in or troubling myself about these matters.  Mediums they regard as vulgar rogues, doubtless on the ex uno disce omens (From one thing you can tell all) principle; investigators as shallow fools, presumably because they do not employ the scientific method made notorious in a recent celebrated instance.  I get the full benefit of discourses on the laws of nature (all of which are apparently well known to my correspondents) on snapping tendons, cracking toe joints, expectant attention, unconscious Carpenterianism, et hoc genus omne (and all this sort of thing).

“This is, perhaps, the weariest and dreariest reading of all; but it serves to show that the dominant ideas fostered by this ‘science, falsely so called,’ are one great hindrance to the fair and free investigation of Spiritualism.”

Theorists: “A second class are those who have an idea, a plan, a theory – the Trochus of whom the War Office, and many other departments, could tell a tale.  I do not mean those who have mastered facts, and who earn the thanks of all by devoting themselves to the task of suggesting explanations to them.  These merit the enduring gratitude of all lovers of truth.  I refer to those who regard fact as a subsidiary matter altogether, and whose eyes are filled with the fair proportions of their own idea.  Suggest to them that they are not quite acquainted with facts which do not, indeed, accord with their theory and they wave them aside with much dignified complacence, explaining that if their ideas are properly estimated they must be found to be true, and so that, since Nature works according to the law, the facts will, in the end, be found to fit into their place.  One correspondent expounds to me this delightful piece of argument in connections with his idea that simultaneous hallucinations account for all.

“These correspondents lead me to believe that another cause why success does not attend the investigations of some persons, is because their minds are hopelessly darkened to the exclusion of all light by the blind of a false theory.”

The Ignorant:  “A third class is the purely ignorant.  They usually profess themselves to be so; they will even parade what is already sufficiently obvious, as though it were, like the beggar’s rags and professional shiver, an excuse for appealing to the public pity.  Starting from this platform, these persons will propound the most astonishing queries as to things heavenly and spiritual.  They will ask questions which, I presume, an archangel would be unable to answer, simply because that exalted being would find in the questioner no antecedent knowledge which would make a reply intelligible.  They will ask about God and creation, and the nature of the occupations of eternity, demanding with much naïveté, a biography of all the heavenly host, and topographical plan of the spheres.  They will propound simple questions about predestination, and the nature of evil, and the incarnation, and other theological problems, which they seem to suppose become all as clear as mud to the spirit that has been, if only for a few poor years, emancipated from the physical body.

“These impress me with a belief that another cause of failure in some inquirers is that they have not prepared themselves by gathering antecedent knowledge, and clearing away old fallacies, to receive new truth.  The ground has not been ploughed up, harrowed, and cleansed of weeds, so that new seed may have a chance to grow.”

The Captious Critics: “Closely allied in ignorance are those whom I may call the captious; those who ‘want to know’ why such and such conditions are necessary; why such and such things can’t be done in such and such a way; why phenomena can’t be got at the Royal Institution; why there should be any such thing as a medium or a circle; why not abolish them, and let every man be his own medium; in short, why everything is as it is, and why everything isn’t as it isn’t.  These persons, one would declare, know how everything ought to be, and could amend God’s universe to an improved pattern, and run it on entirely new principles.  They may be recommended to begin their improvements by making a clean sweep of Professor Tyndall’s ‘conditions’ in his laboratory at the Royal Institution; and when they have abolished the developing room of the photographer we will begin to talk with them.
“These lead to the belief that there are some, I fear I ought to say many, persons, who carry in their own minds a captious spirit – intolerant, arrogant, and dogmatic – which is a sure barrier to the reception of truth.  They have not merely swept and garnished the chamber, but they have barricaded all points of access with chevaux defrise of foolish objections, and strewed the floor with torpedoes into the bargain.

“It was Mr. Spurgeon who, in describing a captious questioner, declared of him that if the constellation Orion were pointed out to his view, he would immediately suggest that the shape of it was poor, and that the stars might be arranged on a new principle.  Such captious critics are not all outside of Spiritualism.”

The Spiritualist:  “Lastly, there is the large body of Spiritualists whose questions are extremely suggestive.  Some – most of them – are engaged in a search after their departed friends….[But] many, I fear, finding that all is not so plain as they had hoped, that there are laws beyond the grave, even as here; and that these preclude or delay the coveted intercourse – many go back, and impatiently say that Spiritualism is a mockery, an affair of sub-human spirits, a dealing with devils.  This is, after all, but a refined form of selfishness and suggests to us another antecedent difficulty in the inquirers’ way, viz., that a too eager desire for one thing, and a too positive state of the mind, are well-nigh sure to produce failure.  The mind must be at peace, in harmonious balance, and not biased or excited.  The best attitude is one of simple receptivity; an attitude, let me say, quite compatible with the keenest scrutiny, and the most accurate observation.

“The letters of enthusiastic Spiritualists betray a singular inability to understand the laws of evidence.  There are many grounds on which conviction comes to the mind, especially in the matter of intercourse with those who have been dearly loved, and who are lost to us.  It may be that to one has been vouchsafed the proof he craves for through some message, some private test, some little clue that speaks at once to his heart.  But, in recording this occurrence, frequently almost too sacred for publicity, he forgets that others have not the same means of judging that he has, and to them his language of enthusiasm and exaggerated job seem only as the over-wrought utterances of a crazy brain….

“I shall probably command the assent of all reasonable persons when I say that to the uninstructed mind – to the mind that is not familiar with the phenomena of Spiritualism – many of the records must read strangely lax, both in method of observation and in language.  We, who write too frequently, sometimes forget that some who read have no antecedent knowledge, and that what to us is familiar is very strange to them…Much harm has been done on many occasions by injudiciously forcing on unprepared minds what seems to them monstrous narrations of unexplained and inexplicable occurrences…The growth must be gradual, and should be made so.  Forcing is bad in all ways.  The fruit looks well, but it has no flavor.  The plant is luxuriant, but it will not stand the cold wind.  The inquirer so treated is very apt to turn sick…

“[The fact is] that many of the inquirer’s difficulties are of his own making.  They spring, as I have tried to show, from ignorance, from arrogance, from a biased mind, from willful or unconscious one-sidedness of view, form a fixed determination to seek for one (perhaps unattainable) end, from excitement and enthusiasm, and from a lack of calm and dispassionate and patient painstaking investigation.”

It has been 135 years since Stainton Moses wrote those words.  Has anything changed since then? 

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 is published by White Crow Books.

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Musical Prodigies:  Spirit Guides, Genetics, or Both?

Posted on 06 October 2014, 9:16

Have you ever wondered about your guides in the spirit world?  Are they assigned to you at birth?  Do different guides come and go during your lifetime?  Do you have only one at a time?  Do they choose you or are you assigned to them by some higher authority?  In recently rereading William Stainton Moses’s 1879 book, Spirit Identity, I came upon some interesting information as set forth by Dr. Stanhope T. Speer, a British physician who regularly sat in the circle with Moses,  (below) one of the foremost mediums of the 19th Century.  (See my blog of February 10, 2014 for more about Moses). Speer asked the communicating spirit about his son’s spirit guide or guides. The son, Charlton Templeman Speer, had displayed remarkable musical ability at an early age and the father wanted to know if his guides were musically inclined.


Speer was informed that Charlton’s primary guide went by the name of James Nares when he lived on the earth plane and that he was an organist to the king and master of the royal choristers.  Speer did not mention if the name of the king was given, but based on other information provided, it would appear to have been George I (1714 – 1727) and/or George II (1727-1760).  Speer was told that Nares was born at Stanwell and that he was trained at first by Gates, master of the royal choristers, and then by Pepusch.  An internet search reveals that Johann Christoph Pepusch, a German composer who spent most of his life in England, lived from 1667 to 1752. 

Speer asked how Nares was attracted to his son.  The response came:  “Spirit guides are not always attracted.  Sometimes they are selected by their own fitness.  They are naturally apt to teach.  Sometimes they are sent with a special commission.  Sometimes they are picked out because they are able to supply that which is wanting in the character which they are to train.  Sometimes they themselves select a character which they wish to mould.  This is a great pleasure to the higher spirits.  Sometimes they desire, for their own spiritual progress, to be attached to a soul the training of which is irksome and difficult.  They toil upward along with the soul.  Sometimes they are attracted by pure affinity, or by remains of earth-love.  The guide in this case was appointed because he too on earth was an accomplished musician at an early age.  When organist at York, not yet twenty years old, he won a great renown.”

Several decades earlier, communicating spirits told French researcher Allan Kardec that spirits are inclined to influence those with whom they have a certain “affection.”

The spirit communicating through Moses further told Speer that Nares succeeded Dr. Green as organist to the king, and also filled the place of his old master, Gates.  “To him friend, you owe the first introduction of expressive melody into church music.”

When Speer asked if Nares was his son’s only guide, the response came, “No, there are others.  The Brothers Lawes…They were pupils of old Caperario; sons of a Vicar-Choral of Canterbury they were in earth-life.  William, the elder brother, was a friend of young King Charles I.  He composed fantasias for the viol, songs, and masques.  Henry, the younger, was a friend of Milton and Waller.  Milton wrote the ‘Comus’ for him, but the music was lost.”

When Speer told the communicating spirit that he had never heard of the Lawes brothers, he was informed that Henry passed to the spirit land in 1662 and William in 1645, information which Speer later verified as fact and which he was reasonably certain that Moses had no knowledge of. 

Speer was further informed that Benjamin Cooke was, at that time, greatly concerned with Charlton and was attracted to him by similar taste.  “He in the earth of life was early developed as a musical genius.  It was, I think, before he reached the age of fourteen years that he performed upon the organ of Westminster Abbey.”

Charlton Templeman Speer, later to become a member of the Royal Academy of Music as well as Moses’s biographer, was especially intrigued by the music produced during the sittings he, his parents, and several others had with Moses at the Speers’ home. He noted that Moses had no musical ability at all and that the sitters were all in a circle with their hands joined when the music came. There was music which obviously came from an instrument and music involving no instrument of any kind.  “These latter were, of course, by far the most wonderful,” he explained, pointing out that there were essentially four types.  “First, there were what we called ‘The Fairy Bells.’ These resembled the tones produced by striking musical glasses with a small hammer.  The sounds given forth were clear, crisp, and melodious.  No definite tune was every played, but the sounds were always harmonious, and at the request of myself, or any other member of the circle, the ‘bells’ would always run up or down a scale in perfect tune.  It was difficult to judge where the sound of these ‘fairy bells’ came from, but I often applied my ear to the top of the table, and the music seemed to be somehow in the wood – not underneath it, as on listening under the table the music would appear to be above.  Next we had quite a different sound – that of a stringed instrument, more nearly akin to a violoncello than anything else I have ever heard.  It was, however, more powerful and sonorous, and might perhaps be produced by placing a cello on the top of a drum, or anything else likely to increase the vibration This instrument was only heard in single notes, and was used only by one spirit, who employed it usually for answering questions – in the same way others did by raps.”

The third sound, Charlton explained, was an exact imitation of an ordinary handbell, which would be rung sharply to indicate the presence of the particular spirit with whom it was associated.  “We naturally took care to ascertain that there was no bell of any kind in the room at the time,” he continued. “Even if there had been, it would have been a matter of some difficulty to ring it all round the walls and even up to the ceiling, and this particular sound proceeded indifferently from all parts of the room.”

Charlton found it difficult to describe the fourth sound.  He likened it to the soft tone of a clarinet gradually increasing in intensity until it rivaled the sound of a trumpet, and then, by degrees, diminishing to the original subdued note of the clarinet until it eventually died away in a long drawn-out melancholy wail.  “This is a very inefficient description of this really extraordinary sound, but as I have in the whole course of my experience never heard anything else at all like it, it is impossible to give to those who have not heard it a more accurate idea of what it was like.”  Charlton added that there was absolutely nothing in the room which could in any way produce the various musical tones, and that the clarinet and trumpet sound was beyond imitation whatever materials a skeptic might suggest Moses smuggled in and out of the Speers’ home when they weren’t looking. 

On July 13, 1874, Dr. Speer recorded that they had an admirable specimen of zither playing.  The spirit musician performed a short unbarred composition called a free prelude.  “The whole thing was most marvelous, for there is no zither in our house, and it is an instrument that cannot be mistaken,” Speer wrote. 

The spirits explained that because Moses had no real musical ability or appreciation, they could not produce “proper” music through him. Whether they drew “power” from Charlton and others in the room was not made clear.  Other spirit communication has suggested that in physical mediumship, the spirits draw their power mostly from the medium, but they also draw from others in the room. 

It may be that child prodigies are a result of such spirit influence. Dr. Charles Richet, the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, reported on the strange case of Pepito Arriola,  (below) when, at age 3 years, 3 months, he performed at the Psychological Congress in Paris during 1900.  Richet stated that the boy played brilliantly on the piano. “He composed military or funeral marches, waltzes, habaneras, minuets, and played some twenty difficult pieces from memory,” Richet wrote.  “A hundred members of the Congress heard and applauded him.”


It was further reported that little Pepito’s hands could not stretch more than five notes, yet he appeared to sound full octaves.  Some onlookers said that his hands seemed to increase in size during the playing, and Rosalie Thompson, a clairvoyant, claimed that she saw the child dissolve into the figure of a man while at the piano.

Pepito’s mother claimed that she did not teach her son to play the piano. Her first awareness of the boy’s talent was when he was just 2 ½.  She heard one of her own difficult pieces being correctly played, entered the room, and found her son at the piano.

As Pepito’s mother and other family members were accomplished musicians, the explanation by mainstream psychology was that Pepito’s ability was purely hereditary, but the real explanation likely goes well beyond mainstream psychology.

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 is published by White Crow Books.

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Next blog post:  October 20

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