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Was D. D. Home like Babe Ruth, David Thompson like Nick Swisher?

Posted on 19 March 2012, 13:40

Daniel Dunglas Home (1833 –1886), a Scottish American, has gone down in the history books as perhaps the best physical medium ever.  His feats included phantom forms, levitations, floating objects, luminous hands, materializations, strange luminous vapors, beautiful music from an accordion with no physical hands touching it, and voices talking and singing.  And while in the trance state, he delivered a number of philosophical discourses. Home (pronounced Hoom in Scotland, Hume in England), was the subject of a thorough investigation by Sir William Crookes, a distinguished British scientist. Although Crookes apparently set out to debunk Home, he became convinced, over some 30 sittings with him, that Home was no charlatan and that some form of “psychic force” was taking place through him. Crookes took every possible precaution in ruling out trickery, even picking Home up at his apartment and watching him dress. “I am, therefore, enabled to state positively, that no machinery, apparatus, or contrivance or any sort was secreted about his person,” Crookes stated, stressing the fact that most of the séances were held in his (Crookes’) home under lighted conditions and that Home had no opportunity to rig anything in the séance room or smuggle anything into it. 

“If Home was for real, why don’t we see that type of mediumship today?” the modern day skeptic asks.  Applying the same type of reasoning, we might ask why, excluding steroids and a longer season, nobody has topped Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record of 85 years ago.

There have been a number of baseball players who have approached Ruth’s record and there have been many physical mediums nearly as good as D. D. Home.  Although the quality of physical mediumship today does not seem to approach the quality of physical mediumship 100-150 years ago, for reasons too involved to go into here, there clearly are a number of genuine physical mediums around today.  The evidence strongly suggests that David Thompson, an Englishman living in Australia, is one of them. 

Thompson has been criticized by a number of observers, including some who believe in mediumship, because his séances are conducted in complete darkness. They point to the fact that D.D. Home produced phenomena in subdued light and could be seen by everyone in the room.  They further point to the fact that other physical mediums have been able to operate under red light.  They say that if Thompson is a genuine medium, he should be able to give séances in the light, like Home, or at least in red light, like Alec Harris and Minnie Harrison, two other famous mediums.

But let’s apply the baseball analogy here.  If Ruth was to baseball what Home was to mediumship, both daylight “power” guys, then Willie Mays, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Ken Griffey, Jr. – ballplayers who hit 50 or more homers in a season and approached Ruth’s 60 homers in 154 games – might be likened to mediums who produced phenomena under red light.  The great majority of baseball players, however, don’t hit even 30 homers a season, so we might liken them to mediums who require darkness.  Those players simply don’t have the power that Ruth, Maris, Mantle, Mays and Griffey, Jr. had and no amount of physical training is going to help them achieve Ruthian numbers.  But they are major league baseball players nonetheless. Players who make the majors, even those who hit only a few home runs a year, are gifted athletes. They are nearly as rare as people who are capable of producing ectoplasm, the key element in physical mediumship. 

Nick Swisher, the man who now plays Ruth’s position for the New York Yankees, is a good, solid, journeyman ballplayer, even an all-star two years ago.  He averages around 25 homers a year, but no one says he is a fake ballplayer because he can’t hit the ball as far or as often as Ruth.  As I see it, David Thompson is to physical mediumship what Swisher is to baseball – gifted, but lacking the power of D. D. Home. 

I have never seen Thompson, but I have never seen many things that scientists claim is true, and yet I accept them based on the credibility of the researchers.  There are simply too many reports by credible people to believe that Thompson isn’t the real thing.  One of those credible people is Dr. Jan Vandersande, a retired physics professor who had the opportunity to observe Thompson on three occasions during a recent visit by Thompson to the Los Angeles area.  Vandersande witnessed various materializations, objects flying around the small darkened garage, some of them stopping in mid air, felt the hands of a child spirit, and listened to various spirit entities speak in different voices. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that David is a legitimate medium” Vandersande told me by phone recently. “Fraud is not a possibility, even though we had a few people there who simply refused to believe that the phenomena were real.  They claimed that David must somehow have smuggled in night vision goggles, and they came up with other far-fetched theories as to how he might have done it.  Their minds were made up beforehand and they simply refuse to believe.” (Vandersande & Thompson below)

Vandersande, the author of “Life After Death:  Some of the Best Evidence,” observed much physical mediumship in South Africa when he was teaching at the University of Witwatersrand, so this was not a new experience for him. Under red light, he saw ectoplasm flowing from the nose of a South African medium named Kitty Gordon.  He saw it stretch some four to six feet across the room while still attached to the medium’s nose. He noticed that it was slightly transparent and he saw it reabsorbed by the medium within a few seconds.  Scientists have never been able to completely analyze ectoplasm because it must be reabsorbed by the medium, and attempts to capture it can result in serious injury to the medium. A few scientists were able to capture small amounts but it disappeared in their containers before they could analyze it.  Observers are warned not to touch it, because of the possibility of injury to the medium. 

“Ectoplasm can be very sensitive to unexpected touching or being exposed to white light,” Vandersande said, recalling the cases of Alec Harris and Helen Duncan, both mediums who were seriously injured – Harris when a person grabbed him and Duncan when the lights were turned on unexpectedly.  Duncan died shortly thereafter and Harris never completely regained his strength. In fact, Home suffered from ill health most of his life and died of TB at age 53, but it has been speculated that his condition might have been exacerbated by having his ectoplasm exposed to too much light.  (Coincidentally, Babe Ruth also died at age 53)  Vandersande completely agrees with the baseball analogy, saying that the ability to produce ectoplasm is greater with some than with others and that some mediums never reach the point where they are strong enough for red light. Some can develop over time, just as a baseball player can get stronger over time.  He adds, however, that Thompson has occasionally produced ectoplasm in red light and photographs have been taken showing sheets of ectoplasm stretching from his face across his chest down to his lap or even lower.”  And Nick Swisher occasionally hits 400-foot home runs, but not nearly as often as Ruth and certainly not on demand.  The conditions have to be just right in baseball and just right in mediumship. . 

As early researchers came to understand, ectoplasm is used by the spirits to materialize.  The spirits project an image of themselves into the ectoplasm and that thought image then takes form. They also use the ectoplasm to form an artificial voice box so that they can speak.  At one of the three Los Angeles sittings, the grandfather of Vandersande’s wife, Marlene, materialized and spoke with her.  Her mother then attempted to speak but the power was low at that point and the voice was very weak.  “It appeared that there just wasn’t enough energy for her to materialize,” Vandersande explained, mentioning that the energy or power, whatever it is called, was low in the first sitting but much stronger in the second and third sittings.

The usual controls against fraud were taken.  Thompson was searched by Vandersande and another man, and his arms and legs were secured to a chair with leather straps, while plastic zip ties were pulled through the holes of the straps to ensure that the straps could not be undone.  Additionally, zip ties were put through his cardigan sweater to ensure that he could not get out of the sweater. “There is no way that he could have freed himself from those binds,” Vandersande said, “but then you get people who say that Houdini would have been able to get out of it,  so why not Thompson.  You get all kinds of wild theories from people who just refuse to believe it is real.”

After the lights were turned off and the garage sealed up from the inside, a short prayer was said and music turned on to increase the harmony and vibrations.  All sitters were told to hold hands to increase the energy and ensure that no one tried to touch the ectoplasm without permission. After three songs, William, Thompson’s primary spirit control, started talking to the sitters while walking around.  “He spoke quite loud, in a distinctive British accent that I found difficult to understand at time,” Vandersande said.  “He then started to answer questions about the spirit world.”  William’s full name was said to have been William Cadwell and he is said to have died in 1897.  Vandersande asked William if his materialized body had a pulse.  “He came over to me, took two of my fingers with his hand and put them up against what I assumed was the carotid artery in his jaw area,” Vandersande said.  “It felt like rough skin I was touching and I could feel a very, very vague pulse.”

Other spirits communicated, one a young cockney youth named Timmy, who walked around among the sitters, allowing them to grasp his small hands. During each of the three sittings, a friend or relative of one of the sitters materialized and spoke briefly.  During the third séance, a man materialized and called out to his mother and father, who recognized him as Jay-Jay, their deceased son.  “He walked to them, touched them both and kissed them, then after saying a few words he left.  During all three séances, Louis Armstrong, the famous musician, who died in 1971, materialized.  “His voice sounded exactly like the very characteristic voice so often heard when alive on earth,” Vandersande said. “He played a harmonica for a few minutes and you could hear him take deep breaths occasionally while playing.  After that he left.  I always get nervous when famous people materialize but I now have a better understanding why they do it.  To prove survival after death, it makes more sense that someone who has a characteristic voice and mannerisms that just about everyone can recognize materializes rather than a no name regular person.”

A trumpet and some drum sticks sometimes flew around the garage, as high as the roof of the garage, nine feet up.  They would stop in mid air at times and resume flight.   “I am a physicist, but I have no idea how all that happens,” Vandersande concluded.  “But I know it happened and there were no tricks involved.”

If Thompson were a charlatan, he would have to be:
1. an expert escape artist, able to free himself in a very short period of time and then secure himself with the same binds before the lights are turned on;
2. an expert at doing different voices, to the extent of imitating the voices of deceased relatives and friends among the sitters;
3. an expert investigator, able to dig up the names of deceased relatives and friends in another country, even when it is unknown who those people will be;
4. an expert magician, able to make objects fly around the room and stop in mid air, even when seated in the corner of the garage against the walls, as Thompson was (skeptics have suggested that he uses a whirly bird of some kind on a stick, which would require him to be in the center of the room); 
5. a very stealthy athlete, able to move around a dark, crowded room without tripping over someone and without being heard and to somehow smuggle things into the room after being strip searched, and then hide them before the lights are turned on;   
6. able to somehow make sitters think they are holding the small hands of a child rather than adult hands.
7. Although apparently not experienced at Vandersande’s sittings, publisher Jon Beecher reported that when he sat with Thompson in New York a few years ago, his partner’s deceased grandfather materialized.  Tatyana, Beecher’s partner, began speaking in English, but was encouraged by Timmy or Timothy, the spirit controlling things at the time, to speak in her native language. She then changed to Russian, after which the materialized spirit answered in Russian.  So Thompson must also be a linguist.

Beecher also reported that he and others regularly checked the medium’s ties during the séance and he was always in his chair, appearing to be asleep. He and the others present also observed a trumpet, with luminous tape on it, fly across the room at great speed, stopping at the end of Tatyana’s nose, then touching her five times on her head without harming her.  They further observed a harmonica flying around the room, sometimes 10 feet in the air while playing a tune. When it fell to the floor, it continued to play.  So add an eighth ability to the seven above.  Thompson must be able to play the harmonica in impossible positions. 

As a last resort, the skeptic might claim that the medium is doing a mass hypnosis of all the sitters, suggesting that they believe things happened that didn’t really happen.  There seems to be no end to the “could have” or “might have” theories for the person whose mind is made up that it is all fraud.  As for me, I believe the evidence, if not absolute proof, at least meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

Michael Tymn’s latest book Transcending the Titanic: Beyond Death’s Door  is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online book stores, along with The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die

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Transcending the Titanic by Michael Tymn

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The Afterlife Revealed - Michael Tymn

Next blog entry: April 2

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Finding The Truth in The Light

Posted on 05 March 2012, 15:04

Ever since reading Dr. Raymond Moody’s seminal book on near-death experiences in 1975, I have read at least 50 books dealing with the near-death experience (NDE).  If I were to rank them by what I call the “4 INs” – Interesting, Informative, Intriguing, and Inspirational – I’m reasonably sure that Heaven is for Real, a father’s account of his four-year-old son’s NDE and three-minute trip to heaven, would be at the very bottom of my list.  I struggled to read it and tossed it aside several times before finally finishing it, just to see if the best of it might be in the closing pages.

And yet the book has been atop the New York Times best seller list for 53 weeks (not consecutive) and has reportedly sold more than six million copies.  I don’t get it….I take that back…I do get it.  The book was written by a Christian minister and the boy saw Jesus during his NDE.  Thus, it appeals to the Christians of the world, especially the evangelicals and fundamentalists.  What I don’t get is how all the evangelicals and fundamentalists can be so enamored of this little boy’s NDE and so repulsed by nearly all other NDEs.

Is the NDE real only if the person sees Jesus and the experience is otherwise consistent with scripture?  Or, could it be that that all other NDEs are real but demonic in nature?
Of course, the closed-minded skeptic would say they are all hallucinations of an oxygen-deprived brain.

There would be four or five books in contention for number one on my list, but I doubt that any of them sold even a small fraction of six million copies. One of the contenders for top spot would be The Truth in the Light by Dr. Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick.  This book was first published in 1995 and recently republished by White Crow Books.  It offers dozens of NDE’s as intriguing, if not more so, than the best seller, and some of them involve the experiencer seeing Jesus. 

“Then I was pulled up through the roof and I had this glorious sense of freedom,” the Fenwicks quote one experiencer, who had been blind since she was three months old and had an NDE at age 22 during a three-day coma after being in an auto accident. “I could move wherever I wanted to.  I was above the street, above the hospital, and I was ecstatic about being able to move wherever I wanted to.  Then that ended suddenly.  I was sucked into a tunnel, and heard a sound like monstrous fans.  It was not actually that, but it’s the closest way I can describe it.  It was a beautiful sound.  The tunnel was dark, with regular open spaces in the side, through which I could see other people traveling in other tunnels.  There was one area I passed by where there was a group of drab, dull, unhappy people who were unable to move.  Then I saw the distant light, and heard these hymns.  The light got brighter, and I saw Him.  I saw Christ.  He was incredibly beautiful…There was light in and around his head, and coming out of his head like a star.”

Another NDEr, a Mrs. Holyoake, told of encountering Christ and feeling the warmth of his body. “All of a sudden my eyes were drawn to the corner of the bedroom door,” she related.  “A brilliant light appeared – it was taking over my bedroom and as it did so I floated above my body.  This place was amass with beautiful flowers – the perfumes from them was very strong – and then Jesus came walking up to me with arms outstretched.  He was dressed in a long white robe, his hair to his shoulders, ginger-auburn, and he had a short beard.  The nearer he got to me I could feel the warmth from his body and as his hands almost touched my face he said, ‘Come!’”  However, Mrs. Holyoake struggled to tell Jesus that she couldn’t leave until she kissed her husband and three children goodbye.  “Jesus heard me and understood, he smiled and started to walk backwards, taking his magnificent garden with him and the light.”

According to Dr. Fenwick, a renowned British neuropsychiatrist, about a quarter of the people who reported on their experiences were aware of some spiritual presence. “Although the ‘being of light’ always has spiritual significance, it is only seldom that people describe seeing a particular religious figure such as Christ,” he offers. “Even those people whose Christian faith is strong don’t always see Christ.  Much more often there is a feeling of ‘coming before one’s maker’: the being is felt as ‘God’ in a very broad sense.  Perhaps ‘neutrally spiritual’ is the nearest one can get to the feelings the being evokes.”  He adds that most people, whether Christians or not, have an “identikit” image of Christ, and it is very similar to the one described by Mrs. Holyoake.  “I think we have to make a distinction between the feeling of the presence of Christ in the experience, and the image which the perceiving brain creates to fit it, which is simply drawn from the picture-bank of memory.”

Fenwick also found that accounts of childhood NDEs were much more likely than those of adults “to include descriptions of a very concrete Heaven, peopled by angels, Jesus figures and golden gates.”  He points out that the younger the child, the odder it is that he or she should have any conceptual awareness of death.  “The ability to think in abstract terms (and one’s own death is a fairly abstract concept) does not usually develop until later in childhood,” he continues. “And yet, without the conceptual awareness, why should they have the experience at all – unless it has some sort of independent reality?”

So how are we to interpret all of this?  On the one hand, we become very suspicious – and the pseudoskeptics laugh – at the idea of Jesus or another “being of light” who wears clothes and looks like we think he or she should.  On the other hand, if Jesus appeared looking like Jim Caviezel, one of the movie actors who have portrayed him – short hair, no beard, and wearing modern clothes – we would suspect an impostor and the skeptics would laugh even harder.  If he appeared as a ball of light, we wouldn’t recognize him and the evangelicals, at least, would call it a demonic entity.  The pseudoskeptics would roar with laughter. 

A number of spirit messages have indicated that deceased loved ones appear to us in a way that we will recognize them, not as they have become or are in the spirit world.  A spirit entity who died as a child 20 years earlier might appear to his mother in a near-death experience or upon her arrival in the spirit world as the child she knew, just for recognition purposes. It is a matter of the spirit entity projecting a thought image onto the brain of the human or the newly transitioned spirit person.  It’s all very mind boggling, especially when non-local time is factored into the equation.

Another very intriguing case offered by the Fenwicks involved a woman named Florence Nilsson, who claimed to have had an out-of-body experience just after she was born and was wasn’t breathing.  “I know it may sound absurd that a newborn infant could remember an event when so young,” she testified, “but I know to this day that what I experienced actually did happen to me.”

As long as mainstream science assumes that celestial matters must meet terrestrial standards, the spirit world will never be accepted, and as long as evangelicals interpret the Bible literally the NDE will remain a mystery.  “We set out to test the NDE for ‘reality’ in a scientific way,” Fenwick wraps up the book.  “But I think we have to conclude that we haven’t managed to explain everything.  There are aspects of the experience which simply don’t fit into our scientific paradigm and which seem inconsistent with a physical or even a psychological phenomenon.  There remains the possibility…that the NDE is a mystical experience, and that it originates in a transcendental reality.” 

Michael Tymn’s latest book Transcending the Titanic: Beyond Death’s Door  is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online book stores, along with The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die

Paperback               Kindle


Transcending the Titanic by Michael Tymn

Paperback               Kindle

The Afterlife Revealed - Michael Tymn

The Truth in the Light by Peter Fenwick & Elizabeth Fenwick is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online book stores.



Next blog post: March 12  


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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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