D. D. Home: Divine Music from a Moustache?
Posted on 20 July 2020, 9:47
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for the reminder of Bacci’s work. I found the conclusion of Paolo Presi’s presentation about it on the World ITC site particularly interesting in the context of our discussion here:
“I am fully conscious that decisive proof of the reality of the afterlife will never be reached since, if God allowed it to be achieved, our free will would inevitably be compromised. In addition I have often wondered what kind of proof given to us by a surviving being would provide us with the certainty of his or her real existence in another dimension. After many years of searching my conclusion is that such proof does not exist since, even in the case of exceptional and extraordinary events, our rationality will always try to provide an explanation in terms of the interpretative models dictated by it.”
I had not heard a “heavenly choir” like that before. As a musician, I can’t say that it makes me think of any particular musical tradition, but the recording is evocative and impressive, and it’s amazing that it exists at all.
Elene, Sun 23 Aug, 19:51
As a late comment to the general topic of this post, I might mention the recording of a ‘heavenly choir’ made by Marcello Bacci, a noted Italian researcher in ‘radio trans-communication’ or ‘direct radio voice’: (http://www.worlditc.org/t_01_introduction_17_BacciChorus.mp3). [more on Bacci here: ]http://www.worlditc.org/h_01_bacci_itc_work.htm]. I have found this intriguing since first coming across it. To my ear, it sounds vaguely Russian Orthodox in temper, from the 19th century period that saw such composers as Sergei Rachmaninov, Alexander Gretchaninov and Pavel Chesnokov writing sacred music for large mixed choirs. As a rather random point of comparison, listen to the opening of Chesnokov Op. 40-2 “The Pre-Eternal Council” before the basso profundo enters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0n1lN0I1_I). I could no doubt find closer examples with time. For myself, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if heavenly choirs sounded Russian Orthodox.
The paranormal researcher D. Scott Rogo has written two books on the general subject: “A Casebook of Otherworldly Music” and “A Psychic Study of the Music of the Spheres”. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to peruse these, but the topic is a fascinating one.
Paul, Sat 22 Aug, 19:24
It is a mistake to judge the past by the standards of today. It was less than 100 years ago that many or most houses did not have central heating. And not everyone lived in a McMansion with five bedrooms, most bungalows had only two very small bedrooms, It seems today that many people see sexual innuendos in everything. I live near Lincoln’s New Salem Illinois,a small village of log cabins where Lincoln lived when he was a young man. Most of those cabins had no bedrooms and only one bed, if any, in the one-room cottages. Family members could opt to sleep on the floor or in the bed with everyone else. Those cabins were pretty cold in the winter. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 4 Aug, 13:55
One additional curious comment at the Wikipedia bio of Home. It ends with the comment that Lord Adare recorded in his diary that he slept in the same bed as Home. Heavens to Betsy! What does that mean? Is it supposed to discredit Home?
I was reminded of this when I just read that Abraham Lincoln shared a bed with his friend Joshua Speed. So what? I can recall during the 1940s men sharing beds, not to be intimate but because the number of people in the house outnumbered the number of beds. It was no big deal back then and there were no sexual overtones connected with it. Current historians fail to grasp how some things have changed over time.
Michael Tymn, Tue 4 Aug, 02:38
Here is my short review of the book:
Extraordinary Knowing by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D., Bantam Dell, 2007, 304 pages
A professor of psychology at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, before her death shortly after completing this book, Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D. begins with a real “Wow!” personal experience. It left her deeply shaken and prompted her to spend the next 14 years attempting to make sense out of it and other paranormal phenomena.
Prior to the “Wow!” experience, Mayer had been, like so many of her colleagues, stuck in the muck and mire of scientific materialism. “I was discovering a vast, strange new territory of research regarding anomalous mind-matter interactions – interactions between mind and matter that simply cannot be contained inside what we call normal science,” she writes in the first chapter.
As Mayer delved into the world of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), she met a number of friends and associates who had experienced paranormal phenomena of one kind or another but had been reluctant to discuss them until after she told her special story. She began to realize that such experiences are much more common than she had known and came to see how scientific fundamentalism has thwarted discussion and research in the area of parapsychology. “Inevitably, we tiptoe around anomalies,” she offers.
Mayer approached her investigation objectively and had hoped that CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) would help her understand what was going on. “I found [their] journal dismayingly snide, regularly punctuated by sarcasm, self-congratulation, and nastiness, all parading as reverence for true science,” she wrote.
Much to her surprise, Mayer found that reputable scientific organizations and publications were rejecting valid research in parapsychology because it conflicted with mainstream scientific thought. “Science has stopped acting like science,” she mused. “Instead it’s acting a lot more like religion – or politics.”
Remote viewing and telepathy are the major fields explored by Mayer. Although little, if anything, discovered by Mayer was news to me, I found much enjoyment in reading her reaction and the reactions of scientific colleagues to the realization that the world is not what their college professors brainwashed them with in their innocent years.
The “Wow!” experience, as described in the first chapter, was alone worth the price of the book. – Michael E. Tymn
Michael Tymn, Mon 3 Aug, 22:02
Amos, I don’t recall the details of the story, but I am very familiar with the Oakland and East Bay area. I don’t know how many square blocks there are in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Richmond, etc, but I would guess well over one thousand, maybe two thousand. The disappearance of the harp was a good 8-10 miles from the block where it was identified by the dowser. When one considers the odds of identifying the block, there seems to be something to it. I’ll have to reread the book for other details.
Michael Tymn, Mon 3 Aug, 21:58
I am having a difficult time getting past the first four pages of Mayer’s book.
The harp story on pages 2-3 (out of 300+ pages) has little or no evidence of anything in it. The dowser identified a certain house on a certain street but Mayer never confronted anyone in the house. The police would not help her. Instead she posted flyers about the stolen harp in a two-block area around the house. “I decided to post flyers in a two-block area round the house offering a reward for the harp’s return.”
Even this comment is open to interpretation. Is it two blocks on each side of the house? Or is it a two- block area in which the house is the center? How much was the reward? Anyhow the “flyers were posted in some area. Someone sees the flyers. He either lives in the two-block area or not, Mayer doesn’t tell us. There is no identify given for the ‘man’s voice”. The voice said he was the “next-door neighbor” of someone who had recently obtained a harp and showed it to him. After two weeks a meeting was arranged one night at 10:00 P.M. in a rear parking lot of ‘Safeway’. Mayer kept the appointment and met a young man loitering in the lot who said to her “The harp?” Within minutes the harp was back in her station wagon and she drove off; no mention of any money exchanged or description of the young man or anything else.
As a result of this she states “This changes everything.”
Well, good lord! If that is all it takes to convince her of ESP, telepathy or anything paranormal then she must be naively uninformed about the huge volume of literature about paranormal happenings. (In the following 14 years she does study-up on these things.)
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 3 Aug, 17:48
I will plod along through this book but almost every page irritates me. - AOD
Auck! I do have Mayer;s book, I found it on my book shelf this morning. I will re-read it today. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 3 Aug, 15:24
It may be of interest to some to read the reviews of Mayer’s book “Extraordinary Knowing” on Amazon. Both sides of the argument are provided by very erudite people who are just stating their response and opinions after reading the book. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 3 Aug, 15:11
It has been a long time since I read Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer’s account of the harp incident. I believe it was her full account but I did not read it in any book she subsequently wrote. I did not read her book as I remember but that does not prevent me from having an opinion about it after having read it in another source. My opinion is that that account does not provide very good evidence of paranormal activity, a spirit world or survival after death. There are many other examples that I believe provide better evidence.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 3 Aug, 14:10
I myself have had at least four occurrences that I like to call “Intimations of Immortality” but even though I was comforted and encouraged in my beliefs by these things I know that they too do not provide good evidence of anything although they did provide validation for me. - AOD
I was going to say something similar to what Don said regarding Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer and the harp incident—it’s odd that Amos would make any pronouncements about it without having read the book. The incident was striking enough to change the mind of someone who had been a decided skeptic. I don’t know why a person would dismiss it out of hand without knowing the details. (It’s been quite a while since I read the book, but it’s sitting on the shelf here only a few feet from me.)
Regarding Leslie Flint, I have some similar misgivings to Amos’s, and I wrote extensively about them on my blog at elenedom.wordpress.com a few years ago. However, my view of the Flint material is necessarily different from most people’s, since I have had a long-standing relationship with one of the main postmaterial persons who was involved (or at least purported to be involved). That person confirmed to me that it was indeed him working with the Flint project.
There is some internal evidence in that speaker’s Flint recordings that I cannot discount, even though there are indeed some recordings of other speakers that sound unconvincing at best. I’m afraid I have not developed a better understanding since I wrote those blog posts. There are some vexing issues about the Flint material no matter how you slice it. But because of my connection with my postmaterial friend, I have to take it seriously.
Elene, Mon 3 Aug, 05:12
Amos…I’m responding to your first post below (haven’t read the longer one yet)...
Don Porteous, Sun 2 Aug, 16:06
With no disrespect, it strikes me that your objections to he Mayer/harp incident are precisely the type of purely conjectural (i.e., non-factual)complaints thrown out with such astounding regularity by the hardest of hard-core sceptics…in any event, the happening was convincing enough to change at least one VERY intelligent and hardly naive mind!
Thanks to all for the additional comments.
I thought I did a blog about the Elizabeth Mayer book, but I can’t seem to identify it. It was probably part of a larger subject. A year or so ago, I sent a copy of the book to a highly skeptical friend—a believer in James Randi—and he seems to have been impressed, even though it was hardly convincing to him. I think he moved from 96% doubter to 95%.
Elene, I agree with you as to one of the reasons we no longer have such physical phenomena and would probably include that in reason #15 in my blog of January 6, 2020.
Amos, I’m not sure what you mean by “tangible” evidence, at least in the case of Etta Wriedt. Like George Valiantine, whom you mentioned, different languages came through Wriedt’s mediumship along with information clearly not known to the medium or others present. Wriedt’s mediumship was observed and documented by many esteemed researchers, including Barrett, Lodge, Moore, King, Doyle and others.
Michael Tymn, Sat 1 Aug, 21:27
Lest anyone think I am an unbeliever, I think there are several types of documented cases of the paranormal at the top of my ‘good-evidence-list’ that I find difficult to explain by any means other than an alternate reality in which non-physical consciousness exists.
1. I find the precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters and the Campbell ‘Brothers’ unexplainable by fraud or any normal means. The paintings are available for examination by anyone in the museums at Lily Dale, New York and Camp Chesterfield, Indiana.
2. The use of medieval English language in the short story “Telka” by Pearl Curran (Patience Worth) I find unexplainable by normal means with one caveat. There is little or no information about Pearl Curran’s grandmother Cordingly with whom Pearl lived during her formative years as a young child and later as a teenager. In my own family I have become acquainted with archaic English language—-just a few words—-from at least four generations back or 200 years. My mother used words learned from her mother who learned words from her mother who learned words from her mother. That is, I had in my early development an opportunity through my mother, grandmother and great grandmother all with whom I lived to become acquainted with archaic language no longer common for my young generation. Pearl Curran may have had the same opportunity as a very young child living with her grandmother. (“Telka” is a rare book but available for download on the internet.)
3. Serious birth defects in children who claim to be reincarnated people who had similar defects, for example missing fingers or ears, large head scars purported to be made by a hatchet or other blunt instrument, entrance and exit wounds suggestive of gunshot wounds; I find these difficult to explain by normal means.
4. Transplant cases where the recipient of a donor organ exhibits habits, behaviors, skills and abilities, emotions of the donor that were not previously exhibited by the recipient prior to the transplant are difficult to explain.
5. Mediums, e.g. George Valiantine, who speak multiple unlearned languages including ancient Chinese (which was recorded) seem to be without explanations and including Dorothy Eady’s (‘Om Seti’) knowledge of ancient hieroglyphs.
6. Many video-recorded interviews with people who have had a near death experience provide very convincing evidence.
I do not include cases in an unexplainable list where the so-called evidence consists of reports by other people with no tangible evidence. That eliminates some possibly very good evidence like the direct voice medium Etta Wriedt as well as some of the revered mediums, for example Stainton Moses, D.D. Home, Mrs. Leonard and many others whose evidence is mostly hearsay or self-reports. While I respect the writings of Geraldine Cummins I question whether or not information purported to come from the spirit of Frederic Myers or ‘Mrs. Willet’ (Winifred Coombe Tenant) really came from them or was it from the subconscious of Ms. Cummins who previously was published as a creative writer although the information provided by Myers and Tenant was very convincing as reported and difficult to explain as coming from Ms. Cummins’ subconscious mind.
Mrs. Leonora Piper had years of investigation by several people into her abilities with spirit communication but available documentation is not substantive, it consists only of reports of observations of those who attended Piper’s séances including supposedly verbatim questions and answers from Mrs. Piper by way of automatic writing or use of Mrs. Piper’s voice.
The most perplexing case for me is Leslie Flint. I don’t know that to think of his recorded voices from purported deceased people, I can’t stop thinking that Flint and his cohorts George Woods and Betty Greene were frauds. Perhaps I would be more accepting of Flint if there were no recordings. Many of the voices sound the same with a similar English voice pattern and accent. I find the voice of Marilyn Monroe especially suspicious and the voice of the little black American girl sounds like she is “Prissy”, straight out of the 1939 movie ‘Gone With the Wind’, an American black character Leslie flint would have seen in American movies, movies for which he had a life-long interest. If Flint living in England had little or no experience with American black people, Prissy may have provided the only model with which he was familiar.
In spite of my many doubts, I think there is substantial hard, first-person evidence of survival of human consciousness after death of the body; unfortunately, most people are unfamiliar with it or seem more interested in ‘ghost stories’. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 1 Aug, 18:37
Don, I don’t think I have read her book but I am familiar with Elizabeth Lloyd Mayers’ account of the lost harp. I don’t regard that account as good evidence of the paranormal or survival after death. It could be a lucky guess or coincidence or the dowser could have just provided the incentive for Mayer to continue looking for the harp when she might otherwise have stopped looking. In an additional forthcoming comment I will list several things that I think do provide good evidence of some kind of paranormal activity. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 1 Aug, 17:19
Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer’s book “Extraordinary Knowing” is indeed wonderful and worth a read. I’m sorry she’s no longer in our world. Wonder what she’s doing now.
Definitely, personal experience of the paranormal and of postmaterial persons is extremely significant. I don’t have to BELIEVE that there is no death—I KNOW it after 27+ years of experience.
Mike: For many years you’ve asked why dramatic instances of physical mediumship aren’t happening commonly like they were a century ago. A potential answer occurred to me a couple of days ago, or at least a partial answer. It’s might be a fairly obvious one, but I never thought of it earlier.
These days it’s a lot easier to create special effects, audio or visual, so it would be far easier to fake manifestations in a seance than it was in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Since as it is, pseudoskeptics are willing to propose absurd explanations for past spirit effects like a harmonica in a mustache, how much less might people accept effects done today when we have far better technology? Spirits might feel it’s even less worth the effort now.
That is unlikely to be the whole explanation, but it might be one factor.
Elene, Fri 31 Jul, 23:14
As with most of life’s experiences, belief in the paranormal (or any aspect of it) is far easier for those who’ve had some degree of personal experience of their own with the phenomenon in question.
Don Porteous, Fri 31 Jul, 22:02
A wonderful case in point is that of the late Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, a San Francisco Bay area psychoanalyst who wrote a marvelous book called “Extraordinary Knowing,” in which she relates an uncanny incident regarding a stolen musical instrument (a harp, and quite valuable) belonging to her then very-young daughter. On the advice of a trusted friend, she was persuaded to contact a “dowser” (usually thought of as locating underground water, but apparently at times able to locate other objects as well). When she called the dowser, located in Arkansas, he told her over the phone that the harp was still located in Oakland, and that if she would send him a map of the area, he’d try to pinpoint its exact location for her. Bottom line—after getting the map, he told her precisely where it could be located—and after some cloak and dagger tracing, the harp was retrieved.
The end-result was that Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, a self-described skeptical scientific rationalist, had no choice but to defect to the side off the “believers.” As she summed it up, “This changes everything.”
I agree that there may be many reasons why some people do not accept the evidence of survival even though it is extensive and in many varieties and forms. There are of course people who decry religion of any sort and as Michael Tymn commented they might consider all paranormal activity as a fringe religion of sorts but I am not so sure that religion per se has a lot to do with their rejection of evidence of the paranormal at least in those people who might view religion as a social activity and not a doctrinal one
I think that the majority of people are not even aware of the evidence of the paranormal or survival and may therefore just reject it out-of- hand as not possible when they hear mention of it. And if they are aware of various authentic reports, they still don’t want to entertain any serious study of those reports. Whatever knowledge they may have is derived in a large part from fictional accounts in movies, television shows and popular novels. If such sources of information include real evidence, that evidence may be presented,tweaked, biased or condensed often to ridicule those who believe in survival or God.
While I don’t reject all of the evidence for the paranormal I still do doubt the veracity of much of the evidence. People like to tell a good story and pick and choose items that make a good story and to fit underlying often subconscious intentions to convince people to see things their way. It provides reassurance that they are correct in their views if they can convince someone else of the belief system they endorse. It may lessen their innate fear of death if they can convince other people of survival. People who promote a cause may not be adverse to adding additional non-factual information to strengthen the persuasiveness of the information they provide.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 31 Jul, 16:16
I have to keep that in mind when I read about every case concerning survival or the paranormal. - AOD
I think people reject the evidence for survival for a combination of reasons, including the two you mentioned. See my blog of November 12, 2018 for a number of other reasons. However, I think it is primarily an ego thing, as they’ve come to believe that all survival evidence is “religion” of one kind of another and that such religion is all superstition. They like to think of themselves as educated and enlightened, well beyond superstition. They never really dig far enough into the evidence to understand it
Michael Tymn, Mon 27 Jul, 09:22
Randi is most definitely amazing—it takes an extraordinary mind to imagine that a harmonica could sound exactly like an accordion, with a similar range and ability to play chords, and that people who were well acquainted with the sound of both could mistake one for the other!
He must also never have held or played a harmonica, since he apparently thinks they are much smaller than they really are, small enough to fit in a mustache. Especially since in order to get anywhere near imitating an accordion, one would need a chromatic harmonica, which is pretty big.
This point seems very important: ‘“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.’ My sources told me something similar regarding the Leslie Flint phenomena, that it was a group effort and when one spirit appeared to speak, others were necessarily involved as well.
What you said about possibly playing “Michael rowed the boat ashore” (good idea!), but perhaps needing to play something more familiar to the medium, also related to something I was told about the Flint recordings. This had to do with bringing through messages in languages unknown to the medium. Although there are many examples of that being done, I was given the understanding that it is at least much easier to use materials that are already available in the medium’s mind, so to speak.
Elene, Mon 27 Jul, 09:20
Why do some people oppose so vigorously anything related to the paranormal/supernatural? Why do they WANT to not be a transcendence/afterlife? I once thought it would be great news to everybody! I was so naive and wrong. Some people really want so bad that death be the end for themselves and for everybody else. Why is that? Do you have any theory? Maybe because they are afraid of some kind of judgement?
Josué, Sun 26 Jul, 21:27
In addition to the Tallmadge story related below, there is the music that came from the mediumship of William Stainton Moses.
Being a professional musician, Charlton Templeman Speer was especially intrigued by the music produced during the sittings he, his parents, and several others had with Moses. 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 like 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 said 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.
Michael Tymn, Tue 21 Jul, 09:36
Thanks for your comment, but I am a little confused by your comment that it is a pity he chose “Home Sweet Home” to be played. Is there evidence to suggest that Home chose what was to be played? If so, I haven’t seen it or don’t recall it. I’m pretty sure there were other songs played. I hate to use Wikipedia as a reference, but it reports “Last Rose of Summer” as being another selection. I’m not up to searching the many references for that information right now, or digging for evidence that Home made the choice on what was to be played. If one accepts the spirit hypothesis, then it seems likely that the communicating spirit(s) selected it, perhaps to honor Home or even to honor Crookes, whose home they were in. Then again, it may be that Home’s subconscious was a factor and he knew that one well, while not knowing whatever the communicating spirit wanted to play.
So much of the research with Home and other mediums states that the entranced medium said this or that, when it was the communicating spirit who said it using his or her vocal cords or by means of the independent voice. It would not be “scientific” to say that a spirit said it.
If I am able to communicate after I die and am able to play a musical instrument, I’ll probably attempt to play “Michael rowed the boat ashore,” but I fear the medium may not know the song and will end up playing something more familiar to him or her.
Michael Tymn, Tue 21 Jul, 09:27
Michael, At the Rita Goold experiment in 1983, her father, a musical director while on Earth, played the xylophone that had been brought into the room. He did this at every experiment. Michael Roll
Michael Roll, Tue 21 Jul, 09:08
A nice compilation of info about D.D. My book ‘Music, Witchcraft & the Paranormal’ also covers it. Pity he chose ‘Home Sweet Home’ as his favourite tune to play on the so-called accordion!
MelvynWillin, Tue 21 Jul, 08:06
Many who experience obvious psychic and/or mediumship phenomena, do not believe
it for what it is.
In Allan Kardec’s The Spirits Book, item 628, the spirits state:
“Truth is like light; you must be accustomed to it gradually; otherwise it only dazzles you.”
If people are dazzled by it, they cannot comprehend it, therefore they cannot believe it.
Yvonne Limoges, Mon 20 Jul, 23:30
Thanks to all for the comments so far.
I agree with Brett that there is much in ITC that I have neglected, probably because I don’t have the patience in my old age to figure out all the technical aspects. I still haven’t figured out how to properly use my TV monitors. Also, our kitchen has two buttons in one place—one for a light over the sink and one for garbage disposal. Even though I have lived in the house for 14 years, I am constantly pushing the wrong button. I have, however, read and followed Anabela Cardoso’s very informative books and newsletters on ITC.
Keith Parsons’s you-tube link above is definitely worth seeing if you haven’t seen it already.
As for “divine music,” please note the comment by Nathaniel Tallmadge, former U.S. Senator from New York. I devoted a chapter to him in my book, “The Afterlife Explorers.”
While communicating with the discarnate John C. Calhoun, former vice-president of the United States and a close friend of his when alive, Tallmadge was asked by Calhoun to place a guitar under the table. The guitar soon began to give off beautiful and exquisite music. “It then played a sort of symphony, in much louder and louder tones,” Tallmadge related. “And, as it played, these harmonious sounds, becoming soft and sweet and low, began to recede, and grew fainter and fainter, till they died away on the ear to the distance. Then they returned, and grew louder and nearer, till they were heard again, in full and gushing volume as when they commenced.
“I am utterly incapable of giving any adequate idea of the beauty and harmony of this music. I have heard the guitar touched by the most delicate and scientific hands, and heard from it, under such guidance, the most splendid performances. But never did I hear any thing that fastened upon the very soul like these prophetic strains drawn out by an invisible hand from the spirit world.”
Michael Tymn, Mon 20 Jul, 23:28
Between your blog, White Crow books, Keith Parsons’ great documentaries & the Metascience Foundation® (YouTube) channel, we’ve a chance to explore both current mediumistic work and especially the “golden age of mediumship” w/degrees of truth & fairness not found in Wikipedia.
If I may, please, I want to mention the INIT group’s history with ITC - instrumental transcommunication - experiments. These are largely unknown, even to followers of afterlife studies, yet their history is rife with extraordinary results, primarily guided by very highly-placed astral spirits - vs being controlled ‘earth-side’.
Mark Macy, both participant and historian for INIT, has myriad audio/visual examples on the website worlditc.org. Btw, most of the technical advice for ITC contact came from spirit, too. Such instructions were tried with Herculean, albeit 100% human, effort often with breathtakingly inexplicable results.
Worth noting, too, are the reasons these amazing contacts faded, eventually ceasing altogether, after many years of communication which crossed different continents in several languages: Briefly, it had to do with lower astral interference in the lives of those mortals who participated in the group. Although the participants were all warned, it seems the negative effects of spirit influence were too much to overcome and INIT was forced to disband.
Perhaps White Crow’s republication of these early 20th century accounts of spirit demonstrations, great psychical research, etc will become fodder for a whole new era of spiritual contact. Thank you so much for helping us find the way Home…in the Light.
Pax et lux & be well, everyone.
Brett, Mon 20 Jul, 19:10
I enjoyed your article as always. My one man’s opinion is that all of us who are interested in this field give no time or press at all to wikipedia or skeptics’ theories. Let us simply tell the account as it is reported and leave it at that.
Brian Anthony Kraemer, Mon 20 Jul, 18:03
Thanks for this interesting and entertaining piece, Mike. Excellent as usual. There seems to be no limit to the lengths closed-minded skeptics will go to in order to deny the veracity of the spirit hypothesis.
Keith P in England., Mon 20 Jul, 16:02
So I am grateful for your decision to knock Wikipedia which deserves no less. Interestingly, I have just learned that the medium Henry Slade (1835 - 1905) was also able to suspend an accordion by one hand, which then played music. For anybody wanting more on the life of D D Home, I have made a documentary on Youtube entitled,‘The Extraordinary Life of Daniel Dunglas Home’. YOu can find it here:
Perhaps the most apt comment about the endless litany of “it must be this” or “it could be that’s” thrown out at us by the Randi’s of the world, was offered by Madame Home in her biography of her husband, in which she characterized these diatribes as “the verdict of the blind and deaf on a man who could see and hear.”
Don Porteous, Mon 20 Jul, 14:17
To which we can only offer a hearty AMEN!
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