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Why Harmony is Important in Spirit Communication and Related Phenomena

Posted on 30 December 2013, 9:35

Many a baseball player has said that trying to hit home runs usually results in strike outs. The harder they try, the more they fail. The important thing is to simply relax and make contact with the ball without any extra effort. It’s a matter of finding just the right rhythm, the right harmony.  It goes without saying that harmony of mind, body, and spirit is a critical factor in the success of any difficult endeavor.  Discord, whether it results from mental conflicts, adverse conditions, antagonism, or opposition of any kind, usually deters, delays, or completely defeats positive results. Such is the case with mediumship, although whenever mediums are unable to produce phenomena because the conditions are not “harmonious,” the skeptics scoff in self-righteous indignation.

The early history of mediumship clearly indicates the need for harmony in mediumistic settings. Many are the reports in which those sitting with a medium would sing or pray in order to establish the necessary harmonious conditions.  Some mediums were able to achieve the passive state required for good phenomena within a few minutes, but there were times when it took an hour or longer for anything to happen and there were many times when a proven medium simply couldn’t produce at all on a particular night because the conditions weren’t right.  A few mediums, well-known in the history of the subject, are said to have turned to trickery when nothing happened because they were embarrassed at their failure and didn’t want to disappoint the observers. Of course that only resulted in the skeptics concluding that everything was a trick.

“The mind must be at peace, in harmonious balance, and not biased or excited,” explained William Stainton Moses, (below) one of the best known mediums of the late 19th Century.  “The best attitude is one of simple receptivity, an attitude, let me say, quite compatible with the keenest scrutiny and the most accurate observation.”  A Church of England priest, Moses was himself a scoffer before he investigated and observed genuine mediumship, and then discovered that he also had mediumistic ability.


Referring to his own mediumship, Moses added that “uncongenial company reduces the manifestations to a minimum” and that the power is greatest when only intimate friends are present.  Under the most favorable conditions, the whole room was in a state of incessant vibration, which could be felt and heard by others the entire time he was in the trance state. Moreover, he had been advised by the “communicating intelligences” to refrain from eliciting phenomena except in the circle of his friends, which included Dr. Stanhope T. Speer and Mrs. Speer, who recorded much of the phenomena.  He further noted that failure to produce phenomena would leave its mark upon him for some days, apparently affecting his confidence.  As a result, he had to deny many requests from researchers who desired to observe his trance mediumship.  This no doubt reinforced the skepticism of the researchers.

In his 1901 book, The Law of Psychic Phenomena, Thomson Jay Hudson, Ph.D., LL.D., discussed the effects of lack of harmony.  “Exhibitions of the phenomena of spiritism are constantly liable to utter failure in the presence of avowed sceptics,” he wrote. “Everyone who has attended a ‘spiritual’ séance is aware of the strict regard paid to securing ‘harmonious conditions,’ and all know how dismal is the failure when such conditions cannot be obtained.  It frequently happens that someone will inadvertently remark that ‘spirits never come when I am around,’ and in nine such cases out of ten the séance will end in failure when such a remark is made.  Any argument against Spiritism, especially if addressed to the medium, or any controversy on the subject in his presence, will destroy all chances of a successful exhibition.” 

Dr. Isaac Funk, (below) remembered primarily as the publisher of the Funk & Wagnalls Standard American Dictionary, was also a psychical researcher and probably more than any other researcher discussed the need for harmonious conditions with mediums.  He recalled a sitting in which the medium’s spirit control predicted failure “because there are so many inexperienced persons present it will make it difficult to harmonize the vibrations.”  Funk further noted that stormy atmospheric conditions upset the harmony and had a negative effect on phenomena.


“We are persistently told at circles that mutual confidence is essential – confidence of the medium in the sitters, and confidence of the sitters in the medium,” Funk wrote.  “There must be a receptive conditions in the circle.  The requisites are serenity of mind, confidence in the integrity of each other, and calm desire.”  He recalled a spirit control telling him that “there are emanations that come from some persons which strike the medium like shots from a gun, and even I, experienced as I am, find it difficult to keep my balance in earth conditions while these adverse waves strike me.”

Another spirit control told Funk:  “A candid, simple skepticism does not necessarily prevent us, but a determined, aggressive skepticism affects unfavorably the power of the medium.  Spiritual communication depends much upon the attitude of the minds of those present. If one says, ‘I cannot believe these things; they are to me absurd,’ he shuts hard the door against us.  Do you never ask yourself why Jesus would never perform miracles when His opponents came to Him and challenged Him to do miracles, saying if you will do such and such miracles here, then we will believe?  He simply could not in that atmosphere, or while they presented these hostile psychic conditions. Faith has the power to perform wonders, even when the motive is wrong.  This is a natural law in both your world and ours.” 

At another sitting, a communicating spirit explained to Funk: “It is to adapt ourselves to your low earth conditions that we use mediums, for it is only in this way that we can reach your coarse, physical senses.  We are compelled to use the organisms of mediums.  This hinders, embarrasses, confuses us, often causes us to blunder, by having our utterances mixed and confused with those of the medium’s psychic nature and with the nerve and thought vibrations of the members of your circle.  Again and again you wish us to satisfy unreasonable skepticism by working wonders, and you can not understand what we mean when we say that we can not.  Why do you not see that skepticism is an impassable bar?”

In his 1942 book, Life Now and Forever, Arthur J. Wills, Ph.D., president of the U.S. College of Psychic Science and Research, tells of an experiment carried out by Mary C. Viasek and Mrs. Z. J. Allyn, a materialization medium.  Mrs. Viasek, who had learned to travel out of body, told Mrs. Allyn that she would attempt to visit her circle on September 28 while she was traveling by train from California to Toledo, Ohio.  At the time of the séance in Los Angeles, the train was in Utah.  After leaving her body, Viasek willed herself to Allyn’s circle in Los Angeles.  The circle was already in progress and Viasek entered the materialization cabinet, where she found Allyn entranced in a chair and a number of spirits waiting to materialize.  The “cabinet guide” told her that she was welcome to observe but because she was mortal she could not participate.

Viasek then observed three “spirit chemists” collecting something.  Looking closer, she saw a band of light, of bluish-grey vibrations, resembling heat waves, passing around the circle and into the cabinet. “The stream of vibrations started from the medium’s husband, Mr. Allyn, who sat by the right side of the cabinet, and gradually increased in size as the various members of the circle contributed their vibrations to it,” Wills quoted the report, going on to explain that the stream was about two inches in width and six inches in depth and increased in size as it passed around the circle and then into the cabinet, at which time it was about a foot in width and 18 inches in depth.  It was further noted that not all of the sitters contributed to the stream, as it appeared to go around a couple of them.
Once the stream reached the cabinet, a spirit chemist took it and appeared to pour it into the back of the head and neck of the medium.  At the same time that the light, bluish-grey vibrations were being poured into the medium, a white substance (not named, but apparently ectoplasm), began to emanate from the medium’s chin, throat, and chest. This emanation was then taken by another spirit chemist and put over the spirit to be clothed.  As he was pouring the substance over the spirit, he said in a firm positive voice:  “Think your features!  Think your face!  Think your eyes! Think your form!  Think positively!  Think your form as you were on earth!  Think your arms!”  As the spirit thought these things a form gradually built up over him. 

All the while the circle members were singing in order to establish and maintain harmonious vibrations.  When they finished one hymn and before starting another hymn, the materializations began failing as “the substance fell from the spirit.”  The spirit chemist then began attempting to clothe another spirit and it also failed when the hymn was abruptly changed.  Viasek noted that the vibrations changed when the singing changed and interfered with the manifestations.

During these failures, Viasek was in the cabinet but could not get her feet on the floor. When the group members started singing Shall we gather at the river, her feet touched and she found herself standing in front of one of the chemists.  He said, “You are mortal.  You cannot go,” but she appealed to him and he then consented.  The chemist then turned her around with her back toward him and began pouring the substance drawn from the medium over her, while saying:  “Think your features positively, just as you are!  Think your hair! Your eyes!  Think your form!  Think your arms!  Think your hands!  Think your feet!” 

As discussed in earlier blogs about physical mediumship, when the mediumistic power lacks or the spirit lacks in ability to project his or her image or voice into the ectoplasm, some bizarre or hokey phenomena have resulted.  Likewise, with mental mediumship, lack of harmony, a failure to produce rhythmic vibrations, however it is viewed, results in distorted communication or complete failure. 

But all this does not easily lend itself to scientific validation and is simply too much for the pseudoskeptics to comprehend, the result being that there has been very little research in this area over the past 100 years. 

Best wishes to all for a harmonious New Year!

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. 

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Next blog:  January 13   . 





Absolutely spot on!  I attended a transfiguration seance (the other sitters were all mediums and spiritualists); I was there to video the proceedings. That evening the group sings several rousing selections. Actually see the blue-white band; See energy going into the medium—in fact, it appears to me as though he is ingesting packets of a white substance (ectoplasm rods?)—they seem to just flow to his mouth from the energy band.  Several people are physically touched (including myself).  I’m situated in a remote corner, back against the perpendicular walls -away from everyone else. To my delight, Spirit grabs a handful of my hair and tossea it toward the ceiling.  One of the other sitters snaps a pic of a Spirit arm patting the back of the woman in front of her -I witness the entire event. Pic shows translucent flesh through which can plainly be seen opaque-white radius and ulna bones; Amazing!!  Harmony in action.

When I suggest she has a $50,000 pic, the photographer responds, “Kenda, no one will believe it.”  >>sigh<<  Sad but true.

Kenda Elise, Fri 16 Sep, 10:50

Why Jesus would never perform miracles when His opponents came to Him and challenged Him?
The answer is this: JESUS WAS GOD!
He wasn’t here to perform miracles, although He did.

Brigitte, Fri 5 Aug, 04:25

I found this article very interesting,and truly believe harmony is very important in any spiritual work we do,but not always possible.Thankyou.

Marie Jones, Mon 25 Jul, 12:34

I think the first to look into this group harmony question was Robert Hare, in his Experimental Investigations… (1855). After a successful sitting, Hare brought in a confirmed sceptic and nothing more happened. Hare later asked the ‘spirits’ why and was told: “We could not do so because he was himself a counter or antagonist medium, and his presence annulled the power of the medium”. So the experimenter effect goes back at least 150 years.

g.l.playfair, Mon 6 Jan, 19:33


I have not heard of Stillar, but will look for him.  I hope you find the Funk book as interesting as I did.


Michael Tymn, Sun 5 Jan, 21:43

I may have spelled Christopher Stillar’s last name wrong.  It is Stillar not Stellar.  I can’t tell yet since my comment isn’t posted.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 5 Jan, 00:20

Hi Michael,
Great information as usual.  I just received my copy of The Widow’s Mite and Other Psychic Phenomena by Isaac K. Funk which you recommended as your top pick of reference books. Since it has over 522 pages I haven’t gotten very far yet. I enjoy reading these old books (this one was published in 1904) as I seem to identify with those writers from yesteryear rather than those writers of today.  I think there are a lot of quotable lines in this book and Funk writes in a logical understandable way that even I can follow without a lot of re-reading and trips to the dictionary. It might be one for pseudosceptics to read.

Today I have been watching some videos of Christopher Stellar a medium in Ontario Canada I think.  He seems to get a lot of ‘hits’.  He is very impressive.  Have you ever watched his shows?  What do you think? - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 5 Jan, 00:15

Mike, Keith, and Tom,

Thank ;you for your comments.  One thing I forgot to include is the comment by researcher Johannes Greber that because the odic radiation of individuals differs, it is often necessary to rearrange the sitting in order to achieve a certain equilibrium among the group. Somehow the positive and negative people have to be balanced.

According to Greber, the singing and playing of beautiful music often establishes a harmony and solemnity and turns the thoughts of the sitters to higher things, while acting as a safeguard against the influence of evil spirits. Fear, fright, distrust, doubt, and mental tension all act to defeat the production of od and resulting spiritual phenomena. As Greber interpreted it, this explains why skeptical researchers often get limited or no results, i.e., the atmosphere is one of distrust rather than of trust and acceptance.

Michael Tymn, Sat 4 Jan, 02:06

Thank you, Michael, for this enlightening post. This phenomenon that you describe is an example of the now well-known and well-documented “experimenter effect” in which a person’s belief can affect the outcome. However, in my opinion it goes much deeper than this. There is the conundrum of how it is that each of us seems to be experiencing a total immersion in a 3-D physical world. Is it of our own making, such as being produced in some way by our brain, or is it constructed for us in some way by an outside source?

We read from a variety of spirit communications that the spirit world is a thought world – the experience of a material reality that individuals have, especially at the lower levels, is produced completely by thought, and yet some spirit communicators (and near-death experiencers) comment that that world is more real to them than the physical world they have left. The material spirit worlds that individuals experience tend to conform to the expectations of the experiencers.

To what extend might this hold true for the physical world that each of us experiences? It is unlikely that spirit beings actually have spirit bodies, although thought can cause them to experience such. For them it is an illusion. Why cannot the same be said of the experiences that are sometimes had in a séance where sitters can “see” spirits temporarily take form and then disappear? Of course, materialists have no room to gloat, since the physical world outside the séance can possibly be similarly produced. It all depends on what we have come to expect.

I guess, bottom line, this is all much more complex than most of us realize.

Tom Davies, Wed 1 Jan, 17:46

One of your most interesting articles, Mike. Thanks. I’ve read a lot of material on mediumship, but never had the importance of harmony so clearly discussed. A Happy New Year to you from England.

Keith P in UK, Tue 31 Dec, 17:25

Another excellent piece, Mike! I find it fascinating how collectively the communicators from the Other Side tend to present the same message, which to me suggests a coherent, underlying, fundamental message to those of us still on this side of Reality. But it takes extensive readings and research to collect, analyze and draw these conclusions. You do a great service to psychical research. Keep it up.

Mike Schmicker, Mon 30 Dec, 22:56

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