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The French Revelation:  Some Forgotten Treasures Resurrected

Posted on 15 June 2015, 11:17

N. Riley Heagerty, a 53-year-old resident of Buckeye, Arizona, (below) has sat with a number of physical mediums, both in Great Britain and in the U.S. and has witnessed an abundance of physical phenomena, including ectoplasm and materialized spirits.  However, he has not been impressed with what seemed like an almost “circus” atmosphere of physical phenomena with certain mediums.  He says that the physical phenomena were interesting in the beginning but eventually led to a deeper inquiry for communication from those he knew in the spirit world.

 riley

As Heagerty sees it, there is nothing even remotely close to the vast numbers of mediums and phenomena that were manifesting within what he refers to as the “century of wonders,” which he places as between 1848 and 1948. The mediumship of that era offered much more in the way of both evidence and wisdom coming from the spirits.  The reason for the decline in the quality of mediumship, Heagerty believes, has to do with the many distractions we have today.  Before radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, etc., people had much more quiet time in which to get in touch with their inner selves.  Just sitting in front of a fire place and staring into the flames, as so many people did before the distractions came along, could prompt an altered state of consciousness, one which could be developed over time and in which the person could experience other realities.  “All of this led to the required passive, calm state,” Heagerty explains.  “If the young mediums especially had sympathetic parents and were surrounded by understanding and love, then all the better.  The world seems to be in such a rush now that although there are certainly physical mediums, they are very rare.” 

A semi-retired professional musician, Heagerty became interested in mediumship in 1985, when a woman very close to him was struck down by leukemia. “Two weeks before her passing, her clairvoyance became evident in the highest regard and her messages involving spirits who were in the room with her, including her own son Bradley, who had passed some thirteen years before, were startling in the extreme and were the very reason I left the music business, to dedicate my life to research involving life after death and communication with spirits,” Heagerty explains his initial interest.  “I first decided to collect every available book I could on the subject, and this in turn naturally graduated into a more refined method of book hunting and collecting.  I have now more than 650 books in my library, many of them rare.”

One medium of yesteryear who especially impressed Heagerty was Emily S. French (1830-1912), (below) an independent voice medium who became the subject of five books authored by Edward C. Randall, a prominent Buffalo, New York trial lawyer and corporate executive. Heagerty has brought those books back to life in an anthology he calls The French Revelation, first published in 2000 and just recently republished by White Crow Books. 


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Randall (below) had the first of more than 700 sittings over some 20 years with French in 1892.  After satisfying himself that Mrs. French was a genuine medium and that he was hearing from “spirit people,” including his mother and father, Randall began having Mrs. French sit in his (Randall’s) home in order to further rule out any kind of trickery.  Initially, the voices were just whispers, but gradually, as Mrs. French developed, they became loud voices, the loudest one being that of her primary control, an American Indian known as Red Jacket.  Randall pointed out that each voice had individuality and sometimes spoke in a foreign tongue.  “When new spirits come for the first time and take on the condition of vocalization, there is often a similarity in tone quality, but this soon passes away, as they grow accustomed to using their voices in this way,” he explained. “The voices of those accustomed to speak never change, and are easily recognized.  There is no similarity of thought or words.”  Randall further mentioned that the strength of the voices varied greatly, much as they do in earth life.

 randall

While many of the early messages were of the evidential type, Randall considered them a waste of time as he was more interested in the “new philosophy,” including information on the meaning of life, the nature of the afterlife, spiritual evolution, and other higher truths.  “We live,” Red Jacket communicated, “as real lives, more real – on this side than we did when on earth.  The laws that govern life are the same here as with you.  In fact, everything here is so real that many who come over here – die as you call it – do not know for a long time that they are dead.  A great part of the work to be done here is to instruct the dead in the true science of progress.  To the circles held by this medium we often bring dazed and earthbound spirits, so as to be able to reach their consciousness through earth surroundings.”

Randall went on to explain that much of the French circle’s activity involved missionary work, or “rescuing” earthbound spirits – those who did not realize they were dead and seemed to be bewildered.  “Some are in total darkness, some in half-light; all in all, it is at most a twilight zone between the spiritual and physical worlds,” he offered.  “Here old appetites, thoughts, and desires hold sway as before. In this zone a great mass of undeveloped people of the same general character, with a desire for spirituality no greater than when living in the physical body, remain. Their condition is much worse than in this world, for there is not the opportunity for reformation that there was before.”

Randall stated that other spirits would try to help these earthbound spirits, but were unsuccessful because of the difference in vibration rate.  Because the vibration rate of those living on earth is much closer to that of the earthbound souls, it was easier for the higher spirits to reach the lower ones by communicating through Mrs. French and having Randall talk with the earthbound souls and explain their condition to them.
 
During one sitting, Randall heard from an old business acquaintance who had died at the age of 70 some five years earlier.  While considered a good citizen, the man, referred to as Mr. W— by Randall, had the reputation of being a “pennypincher.”  Both Mrs. French and a visiting clairvoyant could see the man and describe his appearance, which fit Randall’s recollection of him. More evidential, however, was the man’s voice, which Randall clearly recognized.  Mr. W— told Randall that he was trapped in a wall of money and that it shuts out the light.

Randall asked a spirit known as Dr. Hossack about the nature of light.  “The light we have is obtained from the action of our minds on the atmosphere,” Dr. Hossack replied.  “We think light, and there is light.  That is why people who come over in evil conditions are in the dark; their minds are not competent to produce light enough for them to see. There is greater intensity of light as we go up through the spheres, which comes from the blending of the more spiritual minds. Our life is merely the condition of mind which each one has.  We create images in thought, and have the reality before us, just as tangible as your houses and buildings are to you.  You do not have any conception of the great power and force there is, or may be, in thought.  It dominates all conditions and makes us what we are.  One who realizes this may control his destiny.”

One evening, Randall and the others sitting with Mrs. French heard from a stranger who said he was a physician living in Philadelphia.  He was apparently brought in by other spirits who said that the doctor was having trouble separating from his physical body.  “When he finally became fully conscious, he told his name, the number of his residence, and much more about himself,” Randall recorded.  “The papers the next morning had a full account of his death early the evening before.”

Randall wrote that in addition to Red Jacket, he was lectured by Channing, Beecher, Tallmadge, Ingersoll, Hough, Segoyewatha, and hundreds of others.  “Lectures from such men, speaking in their own independent voices, materialized for the time, leave no doubt as to what follows death,” he stated.  “I have never heard such matchless oratory, such sermons, such thought expressed by the living as I have from the so-called dead.  They tell me that we are as much spirit to-day as we will ever be.  We are not all that we can become, but there will be no sudden acquisition. Death itself will add little to present knowledge, nor will it enlarge our opportunities to any marked degree.”

Dr. Isaac Funk, cofounder of the Funk & Wagnalls publishing firm, also studied Mrs. French, at first satisfying himself that there were no confederates, no ventriloquism, no hidden megaphones, or other forms of trickery.  He also noted that Mrs. French did not accept payment for her sittings and that she was deaf.
Funk arranged for Mrs. French to travel to New York City and be observed by him and some friends under strict test conditions. At one sitting, they heard a strange, loud laugh which seemed to emanate about six to eight feet from the medium.  Funk described it as a deep basso to almost a treble and noted that the location of the voice seemed to change to different parts of the room. Red Jacket explained that it was for their benefit in ruling out ventriloquism, the theory most advanced by skeptics.  Funk also had Mrs. French hold water in her mouth during some of the voices to further rule out that possibility.  He also asked her to laugh at the same time as they heard the strange laughs and noted there was no resemblance.

There is so much more to French’s mediumship as recorded by Randall and resurrected by Heagerty.  It will be further discussed in my next blog post in two weeks. 

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.

Next blog post:  June 29   


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Debunking the Debunkers:  Living to Living Communication

Posted on 01 June 2015, 19:25

The annals of psychical research and books about mediumship contain a number of cases in which what was initially thought to be a “dead” person communicated through the medium, but it was later determined that the communicator was still alive.  “Fake!  Fraud!  Charlatan!” the pseudoskeptics were quick to charge in those cases.  Such cases are still cited by debunkers as proof of fraud.  However, these “know nothings” apparently do not consider the evidence suggesting that living humans are able to leave their bodies and telepathically communicate with other living humans.

In the mediumship of Poland’s Franek Kluski, as discussed in this blog of two weeks ago, Colonel Norbert Okolowicz reported the case of a phantom of a living person appearing to sitters at a Kluski séances.  One of them was the father of a sitter at the séance, who appeared to his daughter with a confused expression in his eyes.  The concerned daughter sent a telegram to the family in another town and determined that her father was alive, but was ill and unconscious with a high fever at the time she saw his phantom, ghost, double, spirit body, perispirit, or whatever name might be given to it.

Okolowicz also reported that Kluski received automatic writing messages from about 150 entities, using different handwriting and different styles of expression.  Six or seven of them were identified as being living persons not present but asleep at the time. According to Zofia Weaver, who translated Okolowicz’s book and added commentary to it, the communication usually took the form of a dialogues between a participant at the séance and the entity. Apparently, it was confirmed in some of the cases that the correspondent had “dreamt” the conversation.

Beatrice Gibbes, a researcher who dedicated much of her life to observing and assisting Geraldine Cummins, (below) a renowned Irish automatic writing medium, reported on a case involving Mrs. Napier Webb, an old friend of Cummins’ who was seriously injured in a hunting accident during March 1944.  Brain surgery was performed during May and it was considered doubtful that she would survive it.  On the evening of May 25, Gibbes and Cummins were supposed to go to tea and then a film in London, but Cummins had a sudden urge to write.  After Cummins was seated and went into a trance with pen in hand, Astor, her spirit control, communicated that a strange woman was close by but he didn’t know what she wanted.  Before Gibbes, who was seated at the table, could finish telling Astor to ask her who she was and what she wanted, the pen appeared to be seized and wrote “Tid Webb.”  Tid was the pet name of Mrs. Webb.

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Tid Webb wrote:  “My dear Geraldine.  It is strange how my thoughts have gone out to you in this dreadful time.  I am in two worlds.  I am not dead but I may be soon.  I can’t talk to anyone.  I want to tell them things: how I was with B___ (her son killed in Hong Kong early in the war).  He took me into a world so brilliant I can’t describe it.  This is just a little visit to beg you, if you go over to Ireland, not to lose sight of my darling… (her young and only daughter).  The boys are all right but she is so young…The doctor has been here and I could see that he still thinks I have a little chance – that I may struggle back, and I want to so much, perhaps I shall.  If I don’t recover, promise me you will do as I ask.”

Gibbes replied to Webb, explaining that Cummins was in a trance but that she would inform of her of the request as soon as she was fully conscious.  Webb replied:  “Oh, Miss Gibbes.  Of course I see you now.  Thank you so much.  Now that queer cord is beginning to pull at me.” Gibbes asked her if she was in a coma at the time. “I saw my body lying there and I am still bound to it by a silvery cord – a bit frayed, you know,” Webb responded.
 
Astor took back control and told Gibbes that he did not think that the woman had passed over because he could see the cord of life still there. But he could tell that she was in and out of her body.  A mutual friend later wrote to Cummins and said that Mrs. Webb was still alive but that she appeared to be “half or more than half with the others, and only comes back with an effort when one comes in and speaks.”  She died about three months later.

Similarly, trance medium and clairvoyant Gladys Osborne Leonard reported seeing and communicating with her husband’s spirit body before he actually died.  With a nurse watching over her husband, who had been very ill for a number of days but seemed to be improving, Mrs. Leonard took a walk on the beach outside of their cottage.  She became aware of a vague, shadowy form walking next to her and talking to her.  “Don’t worry, little woman, don’t worry,” her husband told her. Thinking he might have died, Leonard raced home and found her husband in a deep sleep.  When he awoke he told her that he had been out on the seafront and was talking to people, although he did not remember talking to Gladys.  “This experience made me quite certain that my husband’s soul body was loosening its hold on the physical counterpart in spite of the recent improvement in his condition,” Leonard wrote, further mentioning that she had clairvoyantly witnessed the “double” of several other people before their actual deaths. 

Camille Flammarion, a renowned French astronomer and psychical researcher, cited the case of Dr. C. J. Romanes, an eminent English scientist.  Romanes reported that while he was awake in his bedroom, he saw a white form come into his room, grazing the head of his bed as it passed, and then come to a halt at the foot of the bed.  “Suddenly, lifting its hand, the form withdrew the veils which hid its face, and I was able to distinguish the features of my sister, who had been ill for some time in that very house,” Romanes reported. “I called to her, crying out her name, and I saw her vanish instantly.”

Although his sister was ill at the time, her doctor did not consider it serious.  Nevertheless, she died a few days later.  “We may suppose that the subconscious mind of the invalid had a perception of imminent death, as opposed to the conscious personality which did not suspect it,” Flammarion gave his theory. 

The great German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe reported that while he was walking with a friend one day, he was halted by an apparition of another friend, Frederick, who was believed to be in another city at the time.  When Goethe started speaking to Frederick, the person then walking with Goethe thought he had gone mad, as he saw nothing.  When Frederick vanished, Goethe wondered if his friend had died.  Upon arriving home, Goethe discovered that Frederick was there, having a little earlier arrived in Weimar from his town, and then having gone to sleep in an arm chair while waiting for Goethe to arrive home.  Frederic then related a dream he had had while sleeping in the arm chair. He encountered Goethe and described the scene and words used by Goethe when Goethe saw him.   

William T. Stead, (below) a British journalist and author, developed the ability to do automatic writing and asked Julia Ames, the spirit communicating with him, to explain how automatic writing worked. She told him that his mind was not “trammeled by the limitations of matter” and thus he was a good “instrument.”  She further informed him that he could also receive messages from his friends still alive in the earth realm in much the same way.  “All minds are in contact with each other throughout the whole universe,” Julia explained, “and you can always speak and address any person’s mind wherever that person may be, if you more or less know that person.”  She added that “your real self, what you would call your Ego, sits behind both your physical senses and your mind, using either as it pleases.”


 stead


Stead decided to experiment by asking a lady in Gloucestershire to sit at 10:30 a.m. and try to make something known to him in London.  They were to immediately post a letter to each other, she telling him what she was trying to communicate and he telling her what he received.  Upon receiving the woman’s letter, Stead was disappointed, noting that he had captured only one of seven distinct statements.  But a few days later, he received another letter from the woman stating, “This is more wonderful than anything.  You know that you have scarcely written anything that I willed you to write, but you have written nearly everything that kept bobbing into my mind without my will at all.  When I was saying to myself, ‘I want to tell you so and so,’ it kept coming into my mind, ‘tell him so and so,’ and I thought, ‘No, that is of no interest to him,’ or ‘that will only trouble him,’ and you have got all the things written down in London that kept coming as it were spontaneously into my mind at Gloucestershire at the time that I was willing to write another set of things.”
 
The spirit “control” for another medium told Stead that he had a “very loose soul.”  When Stead asked what that meant, it was explained to him that his soul is very loosely connected to his body and thus he was “able to allow other minds to be hitched on” to his hand.  Persons whose souls are closely knit, he was further informed, are not able to be used in that way. 

There are many other cases of such out-of-body travel and telepathic communication that could be cited.  The bottom line is that they in no way nullify the spirit hypothesis. 

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.

Next blog: June 15


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