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D. D. Home: Divine Music from a Moustache?

Posted on 20 July 2020, 8:47

In the August 1860 edition of Cornhill Magazine, Robert Bell, a journalist, reported on his attendance at a séance with the famous medium Daniel Dunglas Home.  He wrote of seeing a large hand floating before him.  “Somewhat too eager to satisfy my curiosity, I seized it, felt it very sensibly, but it went out, like air, in my grasp,” Bell explained, going on to report on a floating accordion playing music.  “We listened with suspended breath. The air was wild, and full of strange transitions, with a wall of the most pathetic sweetness running through it.  The execution was no less remarkable for its delicacy than its power.  When the notes swelled in some of the bold passages the sound rolled through the room with an astounding reverberation; then, gently subsiding, sank into a strain of divine tenderness … Our ears, that heard it, had never before been visited by ‘a sound so fine.’ It continued diminishing and diminishing and diminishing, and stretching far away into distance and darkness, until the attenuated thread of sound became so exquisite that it was impossible at last to fix the moment when it ceased.”

Some people thought that Home (pronounced Hume in England, Hoom in Scotland) was a talented musician, but it seems to have been the spirits overshadowing him who deserved the credit.  Sir William Crookes, (below) a world-famous chemist and physicist who discovered the element thallium and was a pioneer in x-ray technology, reported seeing an accordion, its keys untouched by human hands, play beautiful music in the presence of Home on several occasions.  Home would hold the end of the accordion with his fingertips, allowing the instrument to hang.  Apparently, the “psychic force” required for the spirits to play the instrument was transmitted through Home’s body and fingers.

 crookes

In one of the experiments, Crookes enclosed the accordion in a cage, while Home (below) held the end of it from outside the cage.  “It then commenced to play, at first chords and runs, and afterwards a well-known sweet and plaintive melody, which was executed perfectly in a very beautiful manner,” Crookes reported, mentioning that he had purchased the accordion himself, not allowing Home to handle it before the experiment so that there could be no possibility of a trick or self-playing instrument.

 home

Biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, was present in Crookes’s home at one such experiment.  “The room was well-lighted and I distinctly saw Home’s hand holding the instrument, which moved up and down and played a tune without any visible cause,”  Wallace reported, adding that Home took away his hand and the instrument continued to be played by a “detached hand” that clearly did not belong to Home.

On another occasion, the accordion floated across the room, clearly free of Home.  “A phantom form came from a corner of the room, took an accordion in its hands, and then glided about the room playing the instrument,” Crookes wrote.  “The form was visible to all present for many minutes, Mr. Home also seen at the time.  Coming rather close to a lady who was sitting apart from the rest of the company, she gave a slight cry, upon which [the phantom] vanished.”

According to Wikipedia, magician/debunker James “The Amazing” Randi has a simple explanation for it: Home had a mouth organ hidden in his thick moustache.  Randi apparently knew someone who told him that a harmonica was found among Home’s personal belongings after his death in 1886.  Such evidence!!! 

When I read Randi’s theory, I immediately thought of the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, the author being the late Oliver Sacks.  Perhaps Randi could author a book about Home titled The Man who played Divine Music from his Moustache.

Other skeptical “authorities” – most of them not even born until well after Home’s death – are cited at Wikipedia, one theorizing that Home had a music box tied to his leg, another suggesting that he used hooks and black silk which were not observable in the candlelight of the day to make it appear that the accordion was floating. Still another suggested the semblance of a keyboard concealed on his coat sleeve.  Another suspected an accomplice hidden in the room while playing another accordion.  There are many “might have” or “could have” speculations as to Home’s “conjuring.”

“It is idle to attribute these results to trickery, for I would [point out] that what I relate has not been accomplished at the house of a medium, but in my own house, where preparations have been quite impossible,” Crookes wrote.  “A medium, walking into my dining room, cannot, while seated in one part of my room with a number of persons keenly watching him, by trickery make an accordion play in my own hand when I hold it keys downward, or cause the same accordion to float about the room playing all the time. He cannot introduce machinery which will wave window curtains or pull up Venetian blinds eight feet off, tie a knot in a handkerchief and place it in a far corner of the room, sound notes on a distant piano, cause a card-plate to float about the room, raise a water bottle and tumbler from the table, make a coral necklace rise on end, cause a fan to move about and fan the company, or set in motion a pendulum when enclosed in a glass case firmly cemented to the wall.” 

As Crookes recorded, the phenomena produced by or through Home were not limited to music and luminous hands.  Home is said to have produced (or the spirits produced through him) a variety of phenomena, including levitations, materializations, and philosophical discourses delivered while he was in a trance state.

The most comprehensive account of Home’s mediumship was written by Viscount Adare, the fourth Earl of Dunraven, also known as Windham Wyndham-Quin (1841 – 1926), in an 1870 book titled Experiences in Spiritualism with D. D. Home (available from White Crow Books), which details 78 sittings Adare had with Home beginning in November 1867. In the Introduction of Adare’s book, his father, the third Earl of Dunraven (Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin), an archaeologist and Fellow of the Royal Society, tells of his observations of Home. “To those who are familiar with mesmeric trances, the genuineness of Mr. Home’s is easily admitted,” Dunraven wrote. “To me they are among the most interesting portions of the manifestations which occur through his mediumship.  The change which takes place in him is very striking; he becomes, as it were, a being of a higher type. … At first sight much might appear to be skillful acting, but after having so frequently witnessed these trance states, I am fully convinced of their truthfulness. … That he is possessed by a power or spirit, not his own, and superior to himself, a very little experience will suffice to render manifest.” 

On November 23, 1867, Dunraven recorded that the table in the room began to vibrate and move toward Home It tilted up at an angle of about 30 degrees and the piano moved away from the wall on its own accord.  The floor vibrated strongly and five raps then indicated that the spirits wanted the alphabet.  “You are over anxious, and not sufficiently prayerful,” came the message, suggesting that the spirits were having difficulties. It was followed by a message telling them that in seeking physical phenomena, they are losing sight of God. “It was very remarkable that the indications for the word ‘God’ were made, not by common raps, but by the table giving sudden movements, whilst it was either partially or wholly off the ground,” Dunraven recorded. “At the end it was clearly so, and it made the sign of the cross by moving forward and backward, and from side to side.”

On February 9, 1869, Sacha, Home’s deceased wife, materialized for all to see.  “Her form gradually became apparent to us,” Adare wrote.  “She moved close to Home and kissed him.  She stood beside him against the window intercepting the light as a solid body, and appeared fully as material as Home himself.  No one could have told which was the mortal body and which was the spirit.” 

In another sitting, Home (more likely the spirit talking through him), then began talking about God.  “I cannot remember the exact words,” Adare continued his report, “but the substance of it was, that it was impossible for us to comprehend it; that nearly every man had really in his mind a different idea of God; that whether our conception of Him was as a unity, duality, or a trinity, it could not be of much consequence, provided that we recognized Him and obeyed His laws. He spoke much of the immensity of God, and our almost utter ignorance of Him and His works.”

Crookes reported seeing Home levitated (lifted by spirits) on three separate occasions.  In another experiment, a table was levitated and both Crookes and Wallace, the evolutionist, went to their knees to confirm that the legs were well off the floor.  What Crookes called the “most exciting and satisfactory meeting” with Home took place on April 12, 1871 at his (Crookes’s) home.  One of his guests, Frank Herne, was lifted out of his chair, “floated across the table, and dropped with a crash of pictures and ornaments at the other end of the room.”  After Herne returned to his seat, both he and Charles Williams, another guest,  were lifted by unseen forces and deposited on the table.  There is no mention of this at Wikipedia

At a sitting on June 28, 1871, Home went into a trance state and a voice began speaking through him. One of Crookes’s guests asked who was speaking.  “It is not one spirit in particular,” came the reply through Home.  “It is a general influence.  It requires two or three spirits to get complete control over Dan.  The conditions are not very good tonight.”  The communicating spirits explained that few spirits were capable of communicating at all and said something to the effect that they were experimenting on their side as well.  Crookes noted that voices were sometimes heard in which one invisible being seemed to be instructing another invisible being on how to carry out the levitation.

According to one debunker cited at Wikipedia, the vibrations and moving furniture at the Crookes’s home might best be explained by the fact that there were train tracks not far from his home and that the trains passing by caused the movement. Some of the other “tricks” might be explained by Home having holes in his socks and manipulating objects with his toes.  Wikipedia seems to give more credibility to people who weren’t even alive when Home was than to the intelligent people, like Crookes, Wallace, Adare, and Dunraven, who witnessed the phenomena time and time again. Crookes carried out 29 separate experiments with Home over a three-year period, again, most of them in his own home and under lighted conditions.  Randi would likely explain it by saying that it takes a magician to understand it all and Crookes was a scientist, not a magician. 

Sir David Brewster, a physicist known for his contributions to the optics field, is said to have witnessed Home being levitated.  Although seemingly quite impressed at the time, he later concluded that the only explanation was a trick he did not understand, or a delusion.  “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to,” he was quoted. Such a mindset continues to exist, especially with Wikipedia writers.

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 due later in 2020.


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10 Lessons Not Offered in Sunday School or Science 101

Posted on 06 July 2020, 9:13

Upon discovering my book, The Afterlife Revealed, at an Internet bookseller, a long-lost friend sent an email to me, informing me that his wife was dying and that he was looking for a good book about dying and the afterlife when he came upon my book.  He asked what I could possibly “reveal” to him about the afterlife that his brand of Christianity hadn’t already offered him.  He also asked about the sources of the “revelations” in my book. I responded by explaining that the sources included psychical research and afterlife studies in mediumship, near-death experiences, past-life recollections, instrumental transcommunication, and various other paranormal phenomena over the years.  After a little thought, I boiled it all down to 10 lessons, none of which I was taught in my Catholic catechism classes or in college science courses.  They are:

1. Faith vs. Conviction:  There is compelling evidence that consciousness survives death.

All I ever got in my catechism lessons relative to evidence are the Bible and miracles performed by a number of church saints that defied natural law.  While some of those miracles really impressed me and provided a foundation for a belief in paranormal phenomena, belief was still more a matter of faith than it was conviction based on evidence.  My science classes ignored the subject matter and left the student with a nihilistic worldview, but psychical research and related afterlife studies provided some solid evidence and filled in the blanks left by orthodox religion and mainstream science while also providing some explanations for the miracles taught by the Church. 
 
2. The God Factor: Proof of God is not necessary to accept evidence that consciousness survives death.

Everything I was taught in religion classes began with the a priori necessity to accept the existence of an anthropomorphic God, and everything I heard from the atheistic side began with debunking the existence of that same God.  The survival of consciousness, or afterlife, issue was always secondary and contingent upon proof of God. Not until I began studying psychical research did I realize that it is not necessary to have proof of God before examining and accepting the evidence for survival.  One can accept survival and infer some kind of Creator or Higher Intelligence without believing in a humanlike God or subscribing to the whole “worship” side of religions.  To put it another way, the evidence for survival leads to God, not the other way around.

3. No Humdrum Heaven:  The Afterlife is much more dynamic than that taught by religions. 

Religions teach a Heaven in which we don’t do much more than praise God 24-7 while strumming harps and floating around on clouds or suffering torment in a pit of fire and brimstone. The Catholic Church teaches a middle ground in Purgatory, but it is just as bad as Hell, though not eternal.  Psychical research tells us that there are many planes, spheres, dimensions, levels of vibration, whatever name be given to them, and that they are much more dynamic than the afterlife offered by religions.  As Jesus said, there are “many mansions” in his Father’s house. At the most populous level, the spirit world is much like our earth world, or, perhaps more accurately, the earth world is a replica of the spirit world to some extent.  It is a thought world, but it is much more real than the physical world.

4. Spirit Body:  We have a spiritual body, the outer rim of which is called the aura.

Different names are given to it – etheric body, astral body, celestial body, odic body, radiant body, ghost, double, phantom, subtle body, perispirit – and this body is joined to the physical body by a “silver cord,” an astral umbilical cord, and threads, which are severed at death.  The so-called aura, the outer edge of this spirit body, is an “electrical” field that connects us with the larger life. At the time of death, the silver cord is severed after the threads slowly break and the body emits a vaporish or misty substance, sometimes called soul mist, that forms a spirit body above the physical body.  The personality continues to exist in that body at a different vibration in a different dimension of reality.

5. Hades:  There is an adjustment period immediately after death.

There is a transition stage immediately following physical death in which we shed earthly habits and adapt to the spiritual environment before experiencing what has been called the “second death.” This is a staging area of sorts where the soul must adjust its vibrations to the spirit world. There may be great confusion in Hades, a “fire of the mind,” so to speak, by materialistic or spiritually-challenged souls; hence the belief by some religions that Hades is another name for Hell. It is said that even Jesus needed a period of adjustment.  Thus, he spent a day or more in Hades and then on the third day “rose into Heaven.”  That is, he apparently experienced the “second death” on the “third day.” 

6. Awakening:  We awaken on the Other Side with the degree of consciousness at which we left the material world.

Many religions would have us believe that we become all-knowing angels of some kind upon entering the spirit world, but indications are that we awaken on the Other Side with the same consciousness we had as we departed the material life.  Enlightened souls awaken quickly, while more average souls awaken in something of a stupor for a period time and more depraved souls are “earthbound,” not even realizing they are dead, as if in a dream world. The “awakening” depends on the degree of spiritual consciousness achieved during the earth life. While time takes on a different meaning there, it may take just a few days in earth time for the developed soul but hundreds of years in earth time for the undeveloped soul to fully awaken. 

7. Judgment:  There is no Judgment Day, per se.  We judge ourselves.

In my catechism classes, I was taught that I could lead a virtuous life, but then make one big mistake, i.e., sin, before death and that would result in spending eternity in Hell.  On the other hand, I could lead a life of sin, then repent on my deathbed and eventually make it to Heaven after spending a few-hundred years in Purgatory.  However, psychical research and afterlife studies suggest that we judge ourselves and settle in at a level based on what has been called a “moral specific gravity” – which is a melding of all our positive and negative moral acts during our lifetime. We can’t cheat in judging ourselves because we cannot adapt to a level in the larger life for which we are not prepared. 

8. Reunion: There is a reunion with departed loved ones and friends.

There have been countless reports coming to us through credible mediumship and near-death studies indicating that we are greeted on the Other Side by deceased loved ones and that there is a happy reunion of some kind before one of those loved ones or an independent spirit takes us under his or her “wing” and guides us, explaining how things work in that realm, while also giving us a tour of the afterlife environment and then guiding us in further development there. 

9.  Rebirth: After the adjustment period, we settle in and spiritually evolve from there.

Whether reincarnation involves a rebirth of the total personality over many lifetimes or something much more complex in which fragments of the soul are reborn as the “higher self” remains in the spirit world in a Group Soul is unclear and apparently beyond human comprehension, but one way or the other there is a spiritual evolution taking place in which the soul learns to deal with adversity and gradually perfects itself, moving to higher and higher realms.   

10. True Oneness:  We retain our individuality as we spiritually evolve.

The ultimate, according to some beliefs, is the attainment of Nirvana, at which all souls become One with the Creator. While this implies a loss of individuality, various advanced spirits have informed us that it is just the opposite – we become more of an individual.  We develop latent gifts, acquire greater knowledge, become stronger in character, and never lose ourselves.  Complete perfection is never attained, although there is a constant striving toward it.  At some point, we succeed in finding ourselves, and in the process we find greater unity with others. “You do not lose your individuality in a sea of greater consciousness, but that depth of the ocean becomes included in your individuality,” the group soul called Silver Birch explained. 

As I tried to explain in the book and to my long-lost friend, by going beyond the self-imposed limits of orthodox religion and mainstream science, we can find a much more logical, more sensible, more inviting environment – one that can be reconciled with a just and loving Creator, and a Divine Plan not based on fear. At the same time, the basic tenets of the Bible and other good books – Do unto others…, Love thy neighbor…, and You reap what you sow…remain the guiding principles in the latest revelations.

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 due later in 2020.

Next blog post: July 20

 


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When Skeptics Attack: Skeptical Organizations and Websites by Craig Weiler – If you really want to get to the heart of skepticism, the best way to do that is to look at the organizations that skeptics create and see how they operate. The behavior of these organizations is the behavior of the individuals, writ large. There are two national organizations worth considering: the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Read here
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