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Famous Physicist Explains Spirit Communication Difficulties

Posted on 24 June 2019, 8:47

On October 18, 1929, Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist, delivered the first Frederic W. H. Myers Memorial Lecture to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London.  Myers, one of the founders of the SPR, had died in January 1901. Lodge, a pioneer in electricity, radio, and the spark plug, and former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, had befriended Myers in 1884 and joined him in 1889 for the SPR’s investigation of American trance medium Leonora Piper, who had been invited to England by the SPR.

Like so many other scientists caught up in the wake of Darwinism, Lodge (below) had become a materialist, not believing in anything spiritual.  However, he remained open-minded on the subject and was intrigued by the idea that one person could read another’s mind, something he had observed around 1883 in a stage performer called Irving Bishop.  “The verification of the fact of telepathy, indicating obscurely a kind of dislocation between mind and body, was undoubtedly impressive, so that it began to seem probable, especially under Myers’s tuition, that the two – mind and body – were not inseparably connected, as I had been led by my previous studies under Clifford, Tyndall, and Huxley to believe they were,” Lodge explained his change of mind.  “I began to feel that there was a possibility of the survival of personality.”

Lodge’s carried out 83 experiments with Mrs. Piper during her visit to England in 1889.  “Detailed knowledge of my relations was shown, and in particular an aunt of mine, to whom I have been indebted, either directly or indirectly, for much of my post-school education, ostensibly came and delivered messages,” he told the audience during that 1929 lecture. “My aunt reminded me that she had promised to come and report if she found it possible after her death, but she was a religious woman, with an orthodox faith in survival, though with no knowledge of the psychic side or the possibility of communication.”  Especially convincing to Lodge was the fact that his aunt took possession of Piper for a short period and spoke to him in her well-remembered voice. Over those 83 sittings, Lodge gradually came to accept that he was in touch with the departed and further that it went well beyond mental telepathy. (Much more about Lodge and his study of Mrs. Piper can be found in my book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife)

“I am sometimes asked whether I have had any communication with Myers since his death, or whether he has gone on to some higher grade of existence out of touch with earth,” Lodge continued his lecture.  “My answer is that as far as I can judge, a man devoted as he was to the enlightenment of his generation in spiritual matter, is not likely to shirk his task merely because he has an opportunity of progressing.  He may progress, but it is possible for people from high to return on missionary enterprise.  The lower may have to bide their time before they can ascend to the higher, but I judge that the higher can always descend to help the lower.  I should have thought that that was the essence of the Christian faith, that the Higher did come to the help of the lower.  However that may be, I know for a fact that Myers’ influence and help are still with me, and that when I have questions to ask he is willing and ready to answer.  He does this often through his lieutenant, my son Raymond, sometimes coming himself, to give information of a more difficult character than Raymond could manage.  Most of this has to be done unfortunately through a more or less uneducated medium…” (Raymond Lodge was killed in battle during the Great War.)

Much of the communication from Myers (below) and Raymond Lodge came through the mediumship of British trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, following Raymond’s death in 1915.  When Leonard entered the trance state, her spirit control, named Feda, began using her voice mechanism and communicated in a voice significantly different from that of Mrs. Leonard. It was from Feda that Lodge learned of some of the difficulties spirits had in communicating. He recalled one sitting in which both Myers and Raymond had communicated before Feda again took control of Leonard. “I do not think I have to told you about this before, but there are times when Feda is not really communicating, but her shadow is,” Lodge quoted Feda, who usually referred to herself in the third person.


“Mr. Fred (Myers) can explain,” Feda continued, her grammar often faulty.  “Did you know what a thought-form is, something that you might send a long way off and the thought-form might even speak?  When you go that way you get things you want to say mixed up with other things.”  Lodge asked Feda if she was saying that what she tells him is not quite dependable.

“No, it is like going in a dream,” Feda replied. “You get mixed up not with the mind, but with the subconscious mind of the medium.  When you dream, you dream about things that have been worrying you.” Feda then said that Myers wanted to take over and further explain.

“You talk about secondary personalities when you are in the body,” Lodge quoted Myers for the audience, pointing out that Myers came through in a different style than Feda.  “On our plane, in our condition, we have no secondary personalities, but when once we have established communication with your side and got a mental image of ourselves in your conditions, we may have a secondary personality,  or even a third. It is something that can be called to life by expectation.  Supposing I make a strong mental impression on the mind of a psychically sensitive person while yet I am talking with someone many mile away, that impression of myself which is Number Two, as I heard Feda remark just now, would not be in full consciousness with Number One.  The normal image of myself would be left with Number One.  The record once produced can be fixed on the medium’s mind again.  It requires only a touch to get it going.  I myself have often come into touch with a sensitive whom it has not been my intention to influence, but my proximity seemed to touch a spring in the medium.”

Feda came back briefly, commenting, “Mr. Fred is very interested in this.” But Myers spoke up immediately:  “Lodge, you know in dreams we are not at our best.  I remember dreams in which I seemed to be all the time dodging responsibility, running away from responsibility.  The elements of doubt and fear often enter into dreams. That is apt to be the same in what Feda terms the shadow self.”

Lodge told the audience that his wife, Mary, had recently transitioned and had joined the group with Myers.  He explained that she had overcome her initial repugnance to the subject long before her death.  When she communicated through Mrs. Leonard, he asked her about the so-called secondary personalities of the mediums.  Before she could respond, Raymond broke in and said, “Mother is awfully enthusiastic about all this, Father. I have had to hold her back.”  Sir Oliver asked Mary if she could talk with Phinuit, who had been Mrs. Piper’s spirit control when he first experimented with her in 1889.  “Not very much,” Mary replied.  To which Feda said, “What a funny answer.”  Mary Lodge continued: “Phinuit is not altogether through with me, Oliver.  There is a condition that makes it more difficult to talk to one kind of entity than another.  I could talk to Raymond very fully. I could talk to so many people, but certain people who exist, well they exist, but I do not understand everything about it yet. I understand that later on I shall be able to talk to Phinuit more easily.”

Sir Oliver then asked Mary if she had met John King, who had been the spirit control for Florence Cook,  Eusapia Palladino, and others.  “Yes, very much in the same way,” Mary answered. “I have spoken to the person who calls himself John King.  He presents different masks and calls them John King. Oliver, it is not always the soul that is the personality that communicates. I am beginning to understand it, and it does interest me.”  Sir Oliver commented that there is something odd about the personalities like John King and Phinuit, to which Feda reacted by asking if she (Feda) was odd.  Sir Oliver answered that his wife had not yet discussed her.

“There is one thing I want to explain to you,” Mary Lodge continued. “When people belong to each other through long association through love, through fleshly relationship, there is no difficulty in contact between those people, either from one plane to the other, or between them when they have both reached the same plane. The links exist.  But in the case of controls it is different. If we trace it back we shall find there has been a person, say, John King, and that it was necessary for him to do some good work for people on earth as a kind of compensation for his shortcoming while in the body. He probably chose to work with and through a certain instrument. That brings him in touch with other kinds of controls, for one control cannot work in an isolated way.  Demands are made on him and he may not wish to accede to those demands, and there you get what I call, Oliver, a mask.” 

Sir Oliver asked if by a mask she meant a “personation,” as when actors would wear masks to cloak their own personalities and take on the character of the people they portray. That is, the mask was, so to speak, an impersonation.  Mary replied “yes,” and went on, “As a rule, Oliver, when a conscientious guide knows that there is a mask being made of him he does his best to follow the mask to see that as much good and as little harm comes from it as possible. It is like ensuring a good understudy, or a good locum tenens.”

While the veridical information coming through various mediums convinced Sir Oliver of survival, the “mask” issue, along with the problems of subconscious coloring of messages by the medium, distortions and misinterpretations arising out of the filtering process as the messages passed from communicator to control to medium to himself, not to mention interference from earthbound spirits and the reality of mental telepathy, he remained cautious in everything he received from the spirit world. “…all the communication I receive, I receive with caution,” he concluded the lecture, “and with a consequent need for interpretation; but received in that spirit, I find them interesting and instructive.  I only hope that when my time comes I shall be able to do as well.  I am sure that communication is difficult, and I expect one will find oneself forgetting much that one had intended to say before entering into the dim condition of faculties necessitated by even partial and occasional control.”

Next blog post:  July 8

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.



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Dealing with the Fear of Death

Posted on 10 June 2019, 8:53

As I recently dealt with the possibility of a terminal condition, a friend asked if my conviction that we live on in a greater reality helped me overcome the fear of death. I’d be lying if I were to say that I don’t fear death, although it’s really more the dying process,  not death, per se, that I fear.  I’m referring to the infirmities, the feebleness, the limitations, the confinement, the pain, the sickness, the boredom, as well as the stresses placed on loved ones who live with the dying person.  The thought of being bedridden and helpless, possibly even requiring assistance in using the bathroom, scares me. 

With two preliminary laboratory tests pointing to the possibility of colon cancer, I did experience such fears not long ago, although it is difficult to separate the fear of dying from the fear of death and just as difficult to measure and compare the degree of the fear of death of the believer with that of the nihilist.  From what I have observed and heard, the nihilist does not have nearly the same peace of mind in the death experience that the true believer has, but it is a very subjective and gray area involving differing mindsets.  Moreover, ego enters the picture in any attempt to get truthful responses to one’s fears. 

Recently reissued by White Crow Books, From Life to Life, by Charles Drayton Thomas, (below) deals with such fears. It involves an aristocratic English family living through the later Victorian period and into the Edwardian years.  The happiness surrounding the family was dealt a serious blow when young Edgar was killed in fighting around Vimy Ridge in 1917.  “The very brightness of their previous outlook made the future appear more desolate by its sharp contrast,” Thomas wrote. “For William (Edgar’s father), there were ruined hopes buried in that grave on foreign soil; for the aunts (Agnes and Helen) came a [void] which nothing they could picture would ever fill. To all three of them, the future years must bring limitations of body and possibly of mind; but the arm on which they had expected to lean and the keen young brain which would have thought and planned for them, and which might have enlivened those later years…Edgar…was dead….The home took on a changed atmosphere.  Depression and resignation reigned unchallenged in each.  Edgar was gone.”


Some joy was restored, however, when Agnes and Helen began communicating with Edgar through the trance mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard. As William held the Christian belief in heaven, he was shocked when his sisters reported that they had talked with Edgar through Mrs. Leonard.  However, some evidential communication eventually brought conviction to him before he, too, transitioned and began communicating with his sisters through Mrs. Leonard.  In one communication he told Agnes how much hearing from Edgar through Leonard had helped him get through his final years.  “One cannot overestimate the value of knowing before one passes,” he communicated. “Why even the most ignorant and stupid person, who intended taking a journey to some strange land, would go out of his way to glean information about the geography, climate and conditions of that land. But the majority of those whom I and Edgar now help have been very badly equipped for this life.”

Edgar explained to Agnes that many do not accept the world beyond death because they will have to face the results of willfulness and selfishness during their earth life and that  
a person’s body (aura?) shows the degree of spiritual development.  “The more one lives in harmony with the Divine Mind, the more fully and perfectly does one live here.” 

Agnes told William that even though she had heard many good things about life on Other Side from both him and Edgar, she still dreaded the idea of death.  “Yes, I know there seems a strangeness about it,” Edgar replied.  “I felt that, too. I was tired of earth, tired of my body and tired of difficulties. I longed to go to Edgar, and yet something in me shrank from it. But when it came [to the time to leave the body] all fear departed. The door opened and I passed through.” 

My recent “scare” began with an annual “wellness exam,” part of my health insurance program.  It included an assortment of laboratory tests, one of which suggested possible colon cancer.  That resulted in my doctor recommending a test called Colordark, now regularly advertised on television.  I pointed out to the doctor that even if this more extensive test indicated colon cancer that I was not prepared to undergo treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.  At age 82, I am more inclined to let nature take its course.  I asked what would be gained by taking the test other than some peace of mind that would come with a negative test.  However, both the doctor and my wife convinced me that it is the right thing to do.  I submitted, and the test came back positive for colon cancer with a small asterisk indicating that there is only a 15 percent chance that it is colon cancer.  I was prepared to live with the 85 percent chance that I don’t have it, but I was further persuaded to take the next step, a colongraphy, which involves much more extensive testing.  Fortunately, that test came back negative for cancer. 

All three tests took a total of six weeks and I had more or less come to the conclusion during that time that death was on the horizon. While watching a baseball game on television, I felt great elation when the pitcher on my favorite team, the Oakland Athletics, threw a no-hitter.  As the last out was made, I jumped for joy, before quickly returning to reality and asking myself, “So what?  You might be dead by the end of the season. It’s just a game, not reality. Who cares?”  I found myself doing that quite often during those six weeks, constantly reminding myself that what little I do in this world really doesn’t matter much at this point.  Contemplating death results in a melancholic outlook on life, at least for me and for the many friends and relatives I have observed deal with it. 

Many doctors subscribe to a policy of no such tests after around age 75, concluding that the risks involved in treating the condition outweigh the risks of doing nothing, or to put it another way, the time remaining while doing nothing is greater than the time gained by doing something.  However, many doctors don’t seem to buy into that policy and in these days when so many of them are reluctant to treat patients on Medicare I worry that they will drop me as a patient and not be there if I need them for some non-terminal condition if I don’t take their advice.

The “dying” part aside, my recent experience allowed me to further test my conviction that consciousness survives death.  There were many times during those six weeks of anxiety that I examined my views on the subject while mulling over the best evidence in support of survival.  My conviction remained strong at the 98.8 percent certainty level.  I frequently went to bed at night thinking it would be best if I transitioned during my sleep and avoided the weeks or months of decay and deterioration.  I reasoned that if I were a bachelor that would be the preferred exit, but I worried about my wife finding my lifeless body upon awakening in the morning.

There were many times over those six weeks that I wondered how I would be dealing with the anxiety if I were a typical nihilist, expecting complete “lights out” when the heart stops pumping. I concluded that contemplating total extinction would be immeasurably more difficult and probably result in difficulty falling asleep each night.  I know that some nihilists claim they are not bothered by the idea of extinction, but, as I have said many times in prior blogs, I tend to sense that such “courage” is mere bravado, or as pioneering psychologist William James suggested, just so much “bosh” and “humbug.” 

To again quote Professor James: “The [moral nihilist] must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well – morality suffices.  But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.”

Back to Agnes and William, in spite of all the good news from William and Edgar, Agnes still expressed her dread of death, to which William said she was passing through a test of endurance.  “All are tested in one way or another,” William explained, “for earth is the testing place for the soul.  It is not meant to be a pleasure-ground, as so many seem to suppose.  God’s purpose is that character should be tested up to the hilt while we are on earth.  Those who escape it on earth get it here, and it is far better to be tested on earth than over here; for when one comes here the soul should have finished its schooling and be ready for wider opportunities and adventures of real life.”

Next blog post:  June 24 

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.


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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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