Monday, 30 November 2009

The Mystery

I would like to share with you an experience I had one day when meditating. I hope you find it interesting and instructive:

The colours were amazing! Purple, pale-blue and yellow.
They hung like a cloud all around me – I was aware of nothing but colour. No form, no shape, no edges, no delineation whatsoever.

I should have been completely disoriented because there was nothing familiar or re-assuring in this scene. On the contrary, I was strangely comforted and at peace with myself, somehow I KNEW this was right, this was how it was meant to be. In the colours I knew I was at home, that here in this amorphous, multi-coloured cloud was everything I would ever need.

I knew this was the moment for which my spirit had ached since time forgotten.

Somehow I knew I was on the threshold of some immense discovery, as though this moment would be the culmination of my earthly purpose. Moment did I say? Although it was in reality only a moment it seemed to last an eternity. I was lost in this eternal moment – the moment in which I knew I was really going to find it: I was going to find that point of unison that blends the seen and unseen universes. The point I had searched long years and unsuccessfully for in the outer world.

Expecting a blinding flash of revelation as with Paul on the road to Damascus, I was disappointed. No blinding flash, just unutterable peace and tranquility, with the certainty that in this formless world of colour was all I needed to know. All I had to do was surrender, lose myself in the cloud and everything would be revealed. I had no doubts, no fears; no thoughts at all! It was as though I was all existence and no existence simultaneously. My brain; my heart; my soul; were all one with everything there is. I knew that separation is an illusion.

Humanity seeks to impose divisions. Seeking to understand the mystery of life, it compartmentalizes the natural world, examines each compartment in minute detail, not moving to the next until this one reveals all it can, thinking in this way to comprehend the mystery. Now, in this transcendental moment, I understood that the only way to even begin understanding the mystery was to become totally unaware of myself and surrender to the immensity and majesty of the whole.

The mystery of life is beyond the finite, yet reaching the heart of it is so simple. Why oh why must we complicate everything? Surrender conscious thought, allow your brain, heart and soul to become one; don’t think, just FEEL. In the companionable emptiness of your inner peace: There will you find the answer to life’s mystery.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Reflections in Woodland

The Coombe Valley Nature Reserve is a relatively small but beautiful piece of woodland in Staffordshire, England. It has many very old trees and is a place where you can find peace and tranquility. A few years ago I penned the following words while sitting in its midst:

I hear the distant throb of engines carrying passengers seeking relaxation and pleasure on their holidays in distant climes and it is somehow soothing.

I sit beside the twisted, timeless limbs of an ancient oak, dressed in green just now to drink summer life from this pure and gentle air. Limbs that have slowly grown through storm and flood, through frost and shine, are surrounded by a power strong and certain, slow and sure - a power that bids me pause and examine my life. Why do I not make more time for days like this? Would my meditation not be more effective in this sylvan glade than sitting in a chair at home?

The oak tries hard to understand our rush and bustle but from his long-lived pespective, we are transient, almost as ephemeral as the birds and insects that dart among its branches seeking food and shelter.

Beside the twisted oak stands a tall, slender and graceful silver birch. The energy here is quicker, the understanding of our lot is closer - and yet - the heart of this fine tree beats with a certainty of its own destiny and purpose which is foreign to most of us. It knows it has been called to raise its head towards the sky in this one spot. Constantly overshadowed by the oak, it nontheless creates a slendour all its own and does not feel intimidated by its old and gnarled neighbour.

In this ancient woodland all blends in perfect harmony and purpose. Each leaf dapples the light in its own special way, individually contributing to a common aim that is the expression of pure, unconditional love.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

“All Are But Parts. . .”

I was struck recently by this verse from a poem written by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, called “With Either Hand”

The harlot and the anchorite,
The martyr and the rake,
Deftly He fashions each aright,
Its vital part to take.

It made me think once more about there being purpose and reason in everything and that nothing happens by chance. There is no such thing as an accident. It recalled to me these words of Alexander Pope:-

“All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is and God the soul;
That changed through all and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth as in the ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent,
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part.
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns;
To Him nor high, no low, no great, no small,
He fills, He bounds, connects and equals all.
. . . Know thy own self; this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, heaven bestows on thee.”

In our ignorance of the true and complete state of affairs in the matter of life, we apply the adjectives “good” or “bad” to various people and professions. Taking Doyle’s verse for instance, we think the harlot “bad” as we do the rake. On the other hand we are in awe of the martyr and because the anchorite retreats into the world of nature in order to live a life of prayer and meditation, we consider him, along with the martyr, to be “good”.

But what is good and what is bad? I think it is fair to say that our personal assessment of these is highly subjective and is often determined by the prevailing mores of society at the time. What is considered good in one society is sometimes considered bad in another. However, I guess the harlot is considered bad in most societies, but is she so? Pope says later in the same work quoted above, “Whatever is, is right.” Perhaps we should reconsider our moral assessments in this light? It would seem from this and from Doyle too, that everything and everybody is created and designed to fulfil a purpose and a vital purpose at that.

Let us examine the harlot in the light of this. What can be the ‘good” aspects of a harlot? The obvious, though highly contentious one, to most “good” people, is that the services of the harlot may well reduce the amount of sexual violence within society. Secondly, by causing us to examine our own personal morality, she helps us to form through a comparison with her, a moral code that is likely to be best for the orderly conduct of society in general. Last and by no means least, one’s profession, though it is considered “bad” by society in general, is no guarantee that the same adjective should be applied to the individual involved in it. It is possible for instance, that a harlot is a much “better” person at heart than are some priests, or lawyers, or professors, whose professions feature high in the scale of “good” with most people.

I believe the words of both Pope and Doyle are a warning to us to take nothing at face value. Nothing is likely to be exactly what it seems and we are much better employed trying to remove the blemishes in our own nature than in condemning what we see as blemishes in others. Perhaps, because we know of our own imperfections, it somehow brings us comfort to be able to condemn someone else for theirs. How much more praiseworthy that we should recognise the worthiness of all people, even though we may not be able to see exactly where they fit into the plan. Better to try to understand and look for the light of the Creator in everybody, than to pretend hypocritically, that in some way we are “better” because we appear to be part of what society loosely categorises as “good.” Understanding and encouragement will always produce more positive results than condemnation.

Friday, 27 November 2009

“It is a far, far better thing . . .”

This is a quote from The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the book that begins with those memorable opening lines, "It was the best of times;it was the worst of times". The original sentence was, It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known. The man speaking has volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to die.

What heroic, self-sacrificing deeds some people manage to achieve. How petty and mean such heroism makes ordinary, everyday actions appear. It never ceases to amaze me that in the midst of the most revolting and dark demonstrations of human degradation, the light of love shines forth like a beacon on a stormy night. Although many people prefer to hold their tongues rather than speak out against tyranny, there are usually one or two made of sterner stuff; people who hold that justice and fairness must be prized above even life itself.

The Tale of Two Cities was about Paris and London during the dark days of the French Revolution – a revolution that began with the highest ideals but quickly subsided into a reign of terror overseen by the infamous Robespierre. During that terrible time, thousands were guillotined, merely for being members of or for helping members of the former ruling class, the aristocracy. Similarly in Nazi Germany, people were slaughtered in their thousands merely because they were Jews. All through the ages, dictators and absolute rulers have invented spurious excuses for ridding themselves of minorities and stamping upon opposition to their ideas and their rule by killing their opponents, often by using the law to help them but using it without justice or mercy.

Sometimes an individual has the courage to stand up and shout, “Hold, this is wrong, enough is enough!” When that happens, it is something special, even momentous. Such brave people know very well that their words will almost certainly lead to their own death, usually not a very pleasant one and yet they go on. They are centres of light in an otherwise dark world and inspire others to emulate them until eventually, the tyranny is defeated. We stand in awe of such self-sacrifice, such dedication to their ideas of right and justice and can only ponder upon whether, in the same circumstances, we would be able to act as they did. Until we are ‘put to the test,’ we can never know for sure. Look at Judas Iscariot: Even though Jesus had told Judas he would betray him and Judas protested that he couldn’t do such a thing, yet when faced with the fear of being put to death as a disciple, he denied that he knew Jesus, and did it not once but three times. We never know and that is the reason why we should hesitate long and hard before sitting in judgement upon such people as Judas.

We are back to our old adversary, fear. It is fear of the consequences that prevents us from speaking out against tyranny and fear is a very poor counsellor. Were we not so in thrall to our egotistical, lower selves, we would know that to prize physical life above honour and justice and fair play is nonsense. We would know that our earthly life is not all there is to life; we would know that our true life, our spiritual life, goes on forever and that clinging on to physical life at the expense of supporting tyranny leads us into spiritual darkness and personal recrimination. However, such weakness is all too human and should not be a source of condemnation amongst those of us who have never had to face such a test. Rather should we thank God for the example of the brave, self-sacrificing soul who puts honour and justice above any concern about saving his own skin. Such people shine the light of love onto the darkness of evil and despair and help us to see that even in the darkest hours, the light of the Spirit is never extinguished. Out of the darkness of war and tyranny comes the beacon of hope and salvation.

Thinking about and thanking God for the example of such wonderful souls has helped me to understand those enigmatic words of Alexander Pope in his “Essay on Man”:-

“All partial evil; universal good.”

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Magical Properties

I have been thinking a great deal recently about how and why so many of us invest inanimate articles or geographical locations with magical properties; usually because of their associations with a spiritually gifted person, an ancient race or a specific and remarkable event that occurred there.

For example the legends associated with the Holy Grail, the chalice or goblet that Jesus is reputed to have used at the last supper. Generations of people have sought unsuccessfully for this artefact, believing it to be imbued with special powers of healing and eternal life because of its association with the Nazarene. There are also, countless examples of the relics of Saints possessing healing properties, and millions have over the centuries flocked to the sites of these relics. Today, thousands travel for healing to Lourdes in France each year because a young girl is reputed to have seen the Virgin Mary at a grotto there. In India millions bathe annually in the river Ganges, despite it being seriously polluted, because they see it as a religious purification rite that the Buddha himself initiated. Nazareth and Jerusalem are revered so greatly by both Christians and Muslims alike, that conflict between the two sides is never far away. Glastonbury in England is a hallowed place to Christians because Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea are reputed to have visited the ancient Celtic Priests there, and to the New Age Movement because of the Arthurian legend and other things. People will go out of their way to steal or otherwise acquire pieces of buildings or artefacts associated with famous people, from Kings, through Prophets, to Pop Stars. Presumably this is because such people feel they will somehow gain something of the qualities or charisma of these people if they possess something associated with them. The latest thing to be associated with this human compulsion to revere ancient knowledge is the Mayan calendar, which some say comes to an end on 21st December 2012, heralding either the destruction of the planet or the sudden and dramatic increase in spiritual awareness of all humanity.

Is there any justification for these apparently illogical actions and beliefs by people? It is true to say that people have been healed at Lourdes and at the various medieval sites of saintly relics. I know from people who have visited the building housing the Turin Shroud, that there is a very special power there, that one feels stronger and stronger the closer one approaches to the shroud. Other people have had transcendental or psychic experiences at several of the sites mentioned. All this seems to suggest that there is every justification to associate magical properties with these things and places. I think not. What I do believe is that buildings and artefacts have a faculty for holding in the energy field surrounding them, a record of major events that have happened in their presence. This is particularly so in connection with events with strong emotional overtones, like violence or acts of great self-sacrifice and also with individuals of strong character and charisma.

Am I saying that it is the psychic record of what took place there that produced the dramatic healings and other things that have happened at many such places? No, this is not what I mean. Let me take two of the specific examples above; the eternal life associate with the Grail and the healings at Lourdes. Jesus preached all the time about eternal life because he knew that each individual is an eternal spirit. Unfortunately, many people are dominated by the influence of the ego, which tends to always focus on the material side of life. Because their Higher or Spiritual self knows the truth about the eternal life of the spirit, conflict ensues between these two parts of the individual. This results in the mistaken belief it is possible to obtain eternal physical life and is why they have pursued the Grail so assiduously. At Lourdes, I believe the healing that has taken place is due to the absolute conviction that some people have they will be healed there. Such conviction does two things: First, because of the power of the individual human mind, which is so little understood or studied, it calls into action our own internal healing resources. Secondly, because those in the spiritual world who are dedicated to healing, are always aware when a cry for healing goes out, the presence of so many pilgrims draws numerous healing spirits to the place.

It is important to understand in relation to all these ‘mysteries’ that mind and spirit are part of all creation. Even apparently lifeless creation, such as stones have mind and spirit as part of them, which use the aura through which to link with the physical world. It is in the ‘aura’ or energy field of the building or artefact that the ‘imprint’ of emotional and other events are recorded and the sensitive person (whether consciously aware of their sensitivity or not) detects them. In Turin, the centuries of visitors filled with awe and expectation at the chance to see the shroud that covered the face of Jesus after he died, created a huge emotional imprint, which is what my friends became aware of and that became stronger the closer they approached to the shroud.

Since time immemorial, humanity has ‘worshipped’ many different physical things in an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible; that is the Source of all creation. Because the finite can never understand the infinite, idols etc., have been a simplistic but understandable attempt to bring the infinite within range of our finite minds. I believe we should now, in this more intellectual age, have moved beyond that but old habits die hard. I am firmly with the Reverend Theodore Parker when he states in “The Aim of Spiritualism”:

“The Aim of Spiritualism is to effect a complete at-one-ment and unison of man with God, till every action and thought of man is in perfect harmony with the Divine Will.
It makes absolute religion the point where man’s will and God’s will are one and the same.
It lays down no creed, asks no symbol,
and reverences no time or place exclusively.”

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Self Knowledge

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

Thus wrote the great Scots poet Robert Burns and how insightful those words are. Although each of us is the one person we should know better than all others, this is frequently not the case. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and far too self-critical but at others the reverse is true. We make too many excuses instead of trying harder to overcome our weaknesses. It is only human to do so of course but the ironic thing is, most of us find it very difficult to afford the same privilege to other people. The main problem with self-knowledge is that we ourselves are too close to the source. As the old adage puts it; “We can’t see the wood for the trees.”

Although we are all prone to make hasty judgements, when indeed we should be trying to avoid passing judgement at all, other people can usually see to the heart of us more clearly than we can ourselves. It is possible to ‘put on an act’ and fool some people but it has been truly said in relation to politics that: You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. People judge us more by our actions than our words and this is sensible for many there are who pay lip service with a form of words but whose actions belie those words. In relation to ourselves, we should be able to avoid being taken in by the words but it is true to say I think that many of us fool ourselves into ignoring that our actions do not match them.

In my experience, most people are quite generous in their assessments of us and although there are exceptions, those who never seem able to think good about anyone, this is not generally true. If people in general gain the impression that you are a good and kind person, they will be approaching close to the truth about you. As indeed will those who gain the impression that you are vain, or boastful, or over-materialistic, etc. There may well be errors of detail in these assessments but overall, they will be fairly accurate. I am talking here of course of people we know very well, not casual acquaintances. It is not always possible to discover exactly what people do think about us, as they tend not to share such opinions with the person concerned. This is where a good friend is so vitally important. A good friend will be able to tell us everything, good, bad and indifferent, without endangering their friendship. Unless we are willing to allow a good friend to do this, then we don’t have a good friend.

Why is self-knowledge so important? Each one of us is unique and although our differences may appear slight, they are vital. We have been born with certain gifts, certain strengths, certain weaknesses. In order to obtain the best from our lives on earth, “filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run,” as Rudyard Kipling puts it in his poem “IF,” we need to work within our limitations and to our strengths. If we don’t know what they are, how can we do so? In order to truly know ourselves we have to recognise that we are very complex individuals and are much more than our physical body. Indeed, the physical body is the least part that goes to make up the real person. If we wish to know who we are and to obtain help in working to our strengths and eradicating our weaknesses, we need to deal with our mind and our spirit. The most effective method for doing this is to use meditation. However, being able to trust a friend to tell us what they think our strengths and weaknesses are can be a good starting point. Meditation is about stilling the mind and allowing the inner, Higher self, to come to the surface. There, in that Higher self, we find the true you and the true me. There also, we gradually unveil our purpose or purposes in choosing to live this earthly life.

So, if you say “Amen” to Rabbie Burns’ cry for help, look within.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Musings on Immortality – Part 3

Transformation of Man:

Ultimately what we are trying to convey is the concept of a basic transformation of mankind. For every individual, this must obviously begin with his or her own self. That self is the only piece of the cosmos over which we have direct control and responsibility, and the only moment in which we can make changes with it is the fleeting “now.”

All the wisdom of the East is concerned with discovering the unity of life and transcending the sense of separation, so that the smaller self may merge with the greater Self – “The droplet slips into the ocean,” to quote the last line of Edwin Arnold’s Light of Asia. As we have noted, the Western mind, in contrast, possesses a much greater concern for individuality. Now, however, we are approaching the Oneness, comprehending how it sifts down through all diversity. We now see that we must somehow transmute the lower self into Higher Self. Consciousness can ultimately expand to blend with the immensity of the universe; while at the same time, the paradoxical mystery and truth remains that somehow the ocean can pour itself into the drop. In meditation, we always have a focal point of consciousness, however far we lift out of the body. We are a point of light uniting with a stream of divine light, a strand of love in an ocean of love, a centre of thought moving in a vast field of thought, a point of stillness or courage in a matrix of those qualities.

Steiner uses the word “ego” not as Freud does, but as a descriptive term for that entity which moves from one incarnation to another. This is the spirit, the “I” which must give itself over to the indwelling of the numinous (divine). Whatever terms we use, we must see we are striving for this alchemical transmutation within the soul, which has accepted the I AM. This is the great evolutionary step.

Let us consider, for example, the following fragment from Francis Thompson’s poem, “The Mistress of Vision”:

Where is the Land of Luthenay?
Where is the tract of Elenore?
I am bound therefore.

Pierce thy heart to find the key:
With thee take
Only what none else would keep:
Learn to dream when thou dost wake
Learn to wake when thou dost sleep. . .
When to the new eyes of thee
All things by immortal power
Near and far,
To each other linked are
Thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling a star . . .
Seek no more
Pass the gates of Luthenay, tread the region of Elenore.

Luthenay and Elenore are the mysterious etheric world, the land of spirit, Shamballah. The name Elenore is strangely emotive. The same sound is echoed in Alan Garner’s novel, Elidor, where two lads from a Manchester slum break through to that world of wonder. Twice in the lines cited above the soul appeals for help in finding the way. Then, the Higher Self responds. The key lies in the injunction to “pierce thy heart,” and the great secret is the knowledge, made good in experience, that we are part of the Oneness of being which underlies everything and dwells within every form. When that is “known,” there is a love for all being. Then the gates of Luthenay, the world of the etheric, are open. But to enter involves what T.S. Elliot describes as

A condition of complete simplicity
Costing not less than everything.

George Trevelyan

Monday, 23 November 2009

Musings on Immortality (Part 2)

R.M Buck in his book “Cosmic Consciousness,” describes a typical transcendental experience:

Like a flash there is presented to his consciousness a clear conception, a vision in outline of the meaning and drift of the universe. He does not come to believe merely, but sees and knows that the cosmos, which to the self-conscious mind seems made up of dead matter, is in fact far otherwise, is in very truth a living presence. He sees that instead of men being, as it were, patches of life scattered throughout an infinite sea of non-living substance, they are in reality specks of relative death in an infinite ocean of life. He sees that the life which is in man is as immortal as God is, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each other and all and that the foundation principle of the world is what we call ‘Love’ and that the happiness of every individual is, in the long run, absolutely certain. Especially does he obtain such a conception of the whole, or at least of an immense whole as dwarfs all conception, imagination or speculation, springing from and belonging to ordinary self-consciousness, such a conception as makes the old attempts to grasp the universe and its meaning petty and ridiculous.

This note of joy is a real sign of the new age. It seems to run through so many of the contemporary groups that characterize our era. Despite often difficult and adverse contingencies, the soul can nevertheless be flooded with joy and confidence through the vision of its eternal nature and the certainty that it is on the path to the worlds of light and oneness. Thus the whole of life becomes sacred. And once the same divinity is seen to be working within all diversity, all aspects of daily life begin to take on something of a ritual character. Meditation becomes a necessity at some time during the day, for during this period the stilled consciousness is lifted to approach the higher worlds. It is a ritual of inner listening which leads to a blending with the Creative Intelligence.

The spiritual world view, once experienced, cannot but permeate all our thoughts and actions. Attitudes then begin to change. Many people, for instance, both young and old, find they must change diet. It becomes essential to eat whole foods, organically grown. Many feel compelled to become vegetarian. Not only does flesh become distasteful, but it appears unthinkable to take animal life for the purpose of eating. Instead, one learns to live on the life forces within plant and fruit and grain. And the eating of fresh and uncooked food becomes both a delight and a necessity. Moreover, the need to give thanks to the beings which have produced such food becomes appropriate – a natural and sincere thing to do. The meal, then, like all else, becomes a new ritual. Partaking of the new pattern entails simplification. We must get closer to the heart of life, and too many things or too complex an existence are barriers to our exploration.

There are other dimensions to the spiritual world view as well. Even if one is in no sense a clairvoyant, one awakens to the certainty of invisible planes of consciousness interweaving with our material world – regions peopled by those we love, who have moved on through the gate of physical death. One learns that they have telepathic contact with us and – since they are beyond space and time – can respond instantly to a call sent up to them with love and thanks. This offers further possibilities of inner communion – with both our minds and our hearts.

As we have stated, the inner being in each of us is immortal. It cannot be touched by the ‘death’ which will break down the discarded sheath of the body. The recognition of the spiritual entity in man has immense implications. We are a creature of body, soul and spirit – and the spiritual being within us, the true “I,” is imperishable. It always was and always will be.

In the first centuries of the Christian epoch this was accepted, as it had been in the ancient mysteries. But in 869 A.D., the 8th Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, under Pope Nicholas I, decreed that it would in future be heresy to speak of an immortal spiritual entity. Man was to be regarded as a duality, a creature of body and soul, and all spiritual qualities were categorised as mere adjuncts of the latter. Spirit, in short, was denied its divinity, was thrown back, so to speak, into the mundane world of limited reason and the senses. Thus, sundered from its source, it assumed the forms by which we recognise it today – self-consciousness, intellectual pride and arrogance.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Musings on Immortality

George Trevelyan wrote a book in 1984 called “A Vision of the Aquarian Age.” I am going to quote parts of it for I believe he has tapped a wellspring of truth that can help us all understand better our true place in eternity.

We are beginning, perhaps dimly as yet, to see that behind and within the outer forms of matter is one life, manifesting in infinite variety and diversity. With an inner eye, we are looking into this whole, with what Coleridge called “sacred sympathy” – for once perceived as part of that whole, everything alive becomes sacred. Every form is a housing for Being. Each is therefore a window into the eternal worlds. Each is a navel for the universe of spirit, each a vortex leading our sight into the etheric planes. Creative Oneness has manifested itself through infinite diversity; but our consciousness now is emerging from its imprisonment in matter to find it can extend and unite itself with the organic oneness of things. As Wordsworth says:-

To me the meanest flower that breathes can bring
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

A crystal, a bird, a single leaf can trigger this new understanding. Thus, meditation on a single object can lead one through to an empirical recognition that we as human beings are intimately and inextricably part of the whole of nature. In this way, we proceed to discover that Planet Earth is truly alive, a sentient creature with her own breathing, bloodstream, glands and consciousness. We human beings are integrally part of this organism, like blood corpuscles in a body. We are, moreover, points of consciousness for the Earth Being. Man is that point where, as Teilhard de Chardin says, “evolution becomes conscious of itself” and can think out into the cosmos. And having done that, we discover that the cosmos itself is shot through with living Thought, Intelligence and Creative Imagining. We can then begin to share what Wordsworth experienced in his famous musings at Tintern Abbey:

…… I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts: a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns
And the round ocean and the living air
And the blue sky and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts
And rolls through all things.

Raynor Johnson in his book “The Watcher on the Hill” has collected many examples of “ordinary” people in our own time who have had a sudden flash – perhaps only a few seconds or minutes in duration – in which they have seen the life in nature and in man. All colour in flowers and trees and sky is enhanced and intensified, colour is even experienced as sound, everything appears extraordinarily beautiful and burgeoning with significance; and the seer knows with profound certainty that he has glimpsed the Reality behind appearance. All who have undergone this phenomenon concur that life will never be the same again, and that it will be invested with a quality of hope, of joy and of serene confidence unknown before. And such experiences are becoming ever more frequent.

Tomorrow I shall continue with this extract including the description of such an experience.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

“Tongues in Trees”

“Tongues in trees, sermons in stones, books in running brooks and good in everything”

Shakespeare put these words into the mouth of Jacques in “As You Like It” and what a wonderful way it is of looking at and understanding the natural world, our own place in it and our relationship to it. It reminds us so succinctly, that we are unwise to travel through this life without familiarising ourselves with Mother Nature for there is so much to learn from her.

It is an unfortunate fact that the arrogance which has developed in human beings over the millennia prevents us from learning so many of the lessons nature has to teach us for we need humility and patience to understand her properly. Both these qualities are completely over-ridden by our arrogance. We think we know best. The most obvious and ridiculous example of this was the Saxon King of England, Canute, who ordered his throne to be set up on the beach close to the sea, for he, the most powerful person on earth (he thought), would command the tides to do his bidding instead of their normal function. Such arrogance was easily punctured of course when the tide did exactly what it always did and one would think we would learn from such an example.

It appears we do not learn very quickly for each generation creates its absolutes, whether in science, economics, politics or any other field. We constantly fail to understand the simple truth that the finite can never comprehend the infinite and there can be no absolutes in this illusory world of opposites that we create for ourselves. Were we to practice greater humility, study the natural world more objectively and apply its lessons to the conduct of our own lives, we should find far less conflict in our world and much greater tolerance.

We would come to realise the fundamental truth of the phrase, “To everything its season.” Learning the lesson of the seasons teaches patience and an acceptance that there are things we cannot change and therefore to try is pointless. Were we truly to study the stones, instead of just analysing them and then exploiting their properties for our own greater convenience and comfort, we should discover the reason for their existence. We would uncover the fact that they have their part to play in the co-operative plan that constitutes life and that nothing, no matter how insignificant it appears to be in our view, but has “a place important in the scheme of Him who planned this scale of beings.”

If we really learn about the balance that the natural world creates and maintains, we should realise the vital importance of applying that lesson in all human affairs. When humanity were hunter/gatherers and later as agrarian communities, we understood this question of balance intrinsically but somewhere along the line, greed removed common sense and we created the giant Dust Bowl in the USA, we created a shortage of fish and may well be depriving ourselves of life-giving rain through indiscriminate de-forestation. This latter, despite knowing what we are doing!

The trees, the stones and the brooks all contain vital lessons for us to learn but we must be careful not to blind ourselves to the real lessons by allowing greed and arrogance to restrict our understanding as we have done so often; to see only what we want to see! The Creator gave us the power of reason and a wellspring of love through which to direct that reason; He shows us every day of our lives, just what love, tolerance and understanding can achieve; in nature He shows us, were we to uncover our eyes, that conflict is purely partial and where it exists, it reinforces the total balance and harmony that reigns there, the “good in everything.”

As John Milton so eloquently explained in Paradise Lost, – “In contemplation of created things, by steps we may ascend to God.”

Friday, 20 November 2009

“If Music Be the Food of Love …”

If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.”

Thus wrote Shakespeare in Twelfth Night and as usual the Bard hit the nail on the head. Music plays such an important role in our lives we are often unaware just how important. From the earliest beginnings of humanity, there has been a desire to make music and initially it was inspired by the sound of the wind passing through and around physical objects and of course the songs of the birds. One of the first musical instruments was the Aeolian Harp, built so that when the wind passed over and through its strings, music was produced. From there the flute and various other woodwind and stringed instruments followed and then we discovered that a string plucked over an echoing board or bowl, also produced musical sounds, and so all the string instruments followed, using not string but cat gut as a rule.. The invention of metal and its exploitation enabled us to produce brass instruments and of course the harpsichord, which is wooden, was developed into the piano ultimately.

Strolling Minstrels singing their ballads were a great feature of the Middle Ages in Europe and are the direct progenitors of today’s Pop Groups! This reminds me that the invention of electronic amplification of sound has been a further development in the evolution of the music of humanity. It seems that few inventions have not been adapted in one form or another, to the production of music; music, which so frequently “calms the troubled breast.” It appears our emotions and spiritual aspirations are more easily stirred by music than any of the other arts. This may be because there is a wider variety of music than of painting, poetry etc. Also I believe it is because the effect upon us of music has no intellectual pre-conditions. To understand and appreciate poetry, one must be able first to read and although the appreciation of painting is more spontaneous, it often demands an understanding of symbolism for its full appreciation.

Music, different types for different people and also for different moods, requires no such pre-conditions, unless you feel the words of songs are more important to you than the music. We are deeply moved, made deliriously happy, peaceful, overawed, made angry, the range of emotions is almost unending, depending upon a particular piece of music. We do not have to think about it; we just surrender ourselves to the music and allow it to become part of us. Our emotions will become engaged automatically. Even music, such as opera, that includes words, engages our emotions without us necessarily understanding the words. The music translates the words into emotional language we understand. Scientists claim that certain music stimulates brain activity and it seems that some pieces by Mozart are best for this and can actually help students to learn more quickly.

I have talked a great deal about music but what of love? Anyone of us who has been in love will know all too well how certain pieces and types of music seem to become important to us at such times and the same piece of music will rekindle those feelings years later. It is as though falling in love sharpens our musical ear. It could be of course that because love is the most powerful and basic of human emotions, all our senses are heightened as a result, not just our appreciation of music. Lovers frequently write poetry, for instance.

However, let us look for a moment at higher, spiritual love and the influence of music. I well recall chairing a meeting in England when the wonderful trance medium Ursula Roberts and her guide Rhamadan, who spoke wonderful words to us for over an hour, came to visit my church. As Rhamadan was leaving, I heard the most beautiful music. It was so uplifting and ethereal, I shall never forget it.

Also, when we sit in our Home Circles to spend some time with our dear friends from spirit, we are urged to sing or play music in order to “raise the vibrations.” That is exactly what music does; it somehow links us more closely to our higher self and makes us more easily aware of the subtle energies of the spiritual spheres. The role of music and hymns in our divine services is designed to do exactly the same and used properly, it really does raise the vibrations. To me the music, prayers, address, or sermon and the demonstration of mediumship at a service should all blend together; each should blend into the other seamlessly.

When I speak about music, I am talking about music we really listen to and not the dreadful musack that forms a background to so much of modern life and to which no-one really listens. This is an abuse of the true function of music but I guess, just as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, musack is acknowledging the true power of music over human emotions.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christianity and its Founder – The Views of a Thoughtful Man (With which I fully concur)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his book “The Stark Munro Letters” writes about a conversation with an Anglican Curate who had called upon him to enquire if he was going to attend the Parish Church nearby. Having established that Doyle was not a Roman Catholic, a Dissenter, or a little lax in his church attendance the conversation continued:-

“At least you cling fast, no doubt, to the fundamental truths of Christianity?”

“I believe from the bottom of my heart,” said I, “that the founder of it was the best and sweetest character of whom we have any record in the history of this planet.”

But instead of soothing him, my conciliatory answer seemed to be taken as a challenge. “I trust,” said he severely, that your belief goes further than that. You are surely prepared to admit that he was an incarnation of the God-head?”

I began to feel like an old badger in his hole who longs to have a scratch at the black muzzle which is so eager to draw him.

“Does it not strike you,” I said, “that if he were but a frail mortal like ourselves, his life assumes a much deeper significance? It then becomes a standard towards which we might work. If, on the other hand, he was intrinsically of a different nature to ourselves, then his existence loses its point, since we and he start upon a different basis. To my mind it is obvious that such a supposition takes away the beauty and the moral of his life. If he was divine then he COULD not sin, and there was an end of the matter. We who are not divine and can sin, have little to learn from a life like that.”

“He triumphed over sin,” said my visitor, as if a text or phrase were an argument.

“A cheap triumph!” I said. “You remember that Roman emperor who used to descend into the arena fully armed, and pit himself against some poor wretch who had only a leaden foil which would double up at a thrust. According to your theory of your master’s life, you would have it that he faced the temptations of this world at such an advantage that they were only harmless leaden things, and not the sharp assailants which we find them. I confess in my own case, that my sympathy is as strong when I think of his weaknesses as of his wisdom and his virtue. They come more home to me, I suppose, since I am weak myself.”

“Perhaps you would be good enough to tell me what has impressed you as weak in his conduct?” asked my visitor stiffly.

“Well, the more human traits – ‘weak’ is hardly the word I should have used. His rebuke of the Sabbatarians, his personal violence to the hucksters, his outbursts against the Pharisees, his rather unreasoning petulance against the fig tree because it bore no fruit at the wrong season of the year, his very human feeling towards the housewife who bustled about when he was talking, his gratification that the ointment should be used for him instead of being devoted to the poor, his self-distrust before the crisis – these make me realise and love the man.”

“You are a Unitarian then, or rather, perhaps, a mere Deist?” said the curate with a combative flush.

“You may label me as you like,” I answered (and by this time I fear that I had got my preaching stop fairly out); “I don’t pretend to know what truth is, for it is infinite, and I finite; but I know particularly well what it is NOT. It is not true that religion reached its acme nineteen hundred years ago, and that we are forever to refer back to what was written and said in those days. No, sir; religion is a vital living thing, still growing and working, capable of endless extension and development, like all other fields of thought. There were many eternal truths spoken of old and handed down to us in a book, some parts of which may indeed be called holy. But there are others yet to be revealed; and if you are to reject them because they are not in those pages, we should act as wisely as the scientist who would take no notice of Kirschoff’s spectral analysis because there is no mention of it in Albertus Magnus. A modern prophet may wear a broadcloth coat and write to the magazines; but nonetheless he may be the little pipe which conveys a tiny squirt from the reservoirs of truth. Look at this!” I cried, rising and reading my Carlyle text*. “That comes from no Hebrew prophet, but from a ratepayer in Chelsea. He and Emerson are also among the prophets. The Almighty has not said His last to the human race, and He can speak through a Scotchman or a New Englander as easily as through a Jew. The Bible sir, is a book which comes out in instalments, and ‘To be continued,’ not ‘Finis,’ is written at the end of it.

My visitor had been showing every sign of acute uneasiness during this long speech of mine. Finally, he sprang to his feet, and took his hat from the table.

“Your opinions are highly dangerous, sir,” said he. “It is my duty to tell you so. You believe in nothing.”

“Nothing which limits the power of the goodness of the Almighty,” I answered.

“You have evolved all this from your own spiritual pride and self-sufficiency,” said he, hotly. “Why do you not turn to the Deity whose name you use? Why do you not humble yourself before Him?”

“How do you know I don’t?”

“You said yourself that you never went to church.”

“I carry my own church about under my own hat,” said I. “Bricks and mortar won’t make a staircase to heaven. I believe with your Master that the human heart is the best temple. I am sorry to see that you differ from Him on that point.

… After all, it might have been better had I listened to what he had to say and refused to give my own views. On the other hand, truth MUST be as broad as the universe which it is to explain, and therefore far broader than anything which the mind of man can conceive. A protest against sectarian thought must always be an aspiration towards truth. Who shall dare to claim a monopoly of the Almighty? It would be an insolence on the part of a solar system, and yet it is done every day by a hundred little cliques of mystery mongers. There lies the real impiety.

*”One way or another all the light, energy, and available virtue which we have does come out of us, and goes very infallibly into God’s treasury, living and working through eternities there. We are not lost – not a single atom of us – of one of us.”

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

More Slate Mediumship by Fred Evans

During Mr Evan’s sojourn in Melbourne, Australia, the following remarkable phenomenon occurred: About eleven-o-clock on the morning of April 20th 1889, Mr Evans placed two slates together for the purpose of consulting his guide John Gray, on a matter of importance. After the writing had ceased, Mr Evans opened the slates and was surprised to see lying n the lower slate a printed slip with writing upon it. On examination it proved to be a receipt for an amount paid by Alexander Costello for examination of his legal qualifications for admission to the Queensland Bar. On the slate was found written the following explanatory message:

Dear Fred:- Enclosed in these slates you will find a receipt belonging to Alexander Costello. I took it from his study in Merton Road, South Brisbane, as a test of spirit power, and I now desire you to forward the receipt to Mr Costello, detailing the circumstances. Your guide, John Gray

Mr Evans immediately forwarded the receipt and explanation to Mr Costello, and on April 27th, received the following letter:

Merton Road, South Brisbane, April 25th 1889
Dear Mr Evans:- It was as great a surprise to me as it was to you when I opened your letter, and found the receipt for the examination fee within it. Strange that I was thinking about the paper only a few days ago, and the advisability of having it should it be wanted. Have shown your letter to Mr Widdop (Justice of the Peace), and he requested me to ask John Gray (through you) how the phenomenon occurred. I have been doing my best to think over the matter, and I am inclined to think that the last time I saw the paper was in my study, and that – since you left for Melbourne. I have no doubt whatever in my own mind that our unseen friend took the paper to Melbourne only a short time ago.

Yours sincerely,
Alexander Costello

Here was a piece of paper, measuring about 3x6 inches – surreptitiously removed from a desk in the private room of a gentleman in Brisbane, and carried by Spirit John Gray to Melbourne and there deposited between closed slates, proving conclusively the power of spirits over matter. The distance between the place the paper was removed from and deposited in is about 1,300 miles. Mr Evans had never been in Mr Costello’s house, and had not been within 1,000 miles of Brisbane for over three months and a half!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Chance versus design or intention is a subject that has long exercised the minds of humanity and I am most grateful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his views on this subject, given in his excellent book, “The Stark Munro Letters.”

“Do you think that such a thing as chance exists? Cast your mind back over your own life and tell me if you think that we really are the sports of chance. You know how often the turning down this street or that, the accepting or rejecting of an invitation, may deflect the whole current of our lives into some other channel. Are we mere leaves, fluttered hither and thither by the wind, or are we rather, with every conviction that we are free agents, carried steadily along to a definite and pre-determined end? I confess that as I advance through life, I become more and more confirmed in that fatalism to which I have always had an inclination.
Look at it in this way. We know that many of the permanent facts of the universe are NOT chance. It is not chance that the heavenly bodies swing clear of each other; that the seed is furnished with the apparatus which will drift it to congenial soil, that the creature is adapted to its environment. Show me a whale with its great-coat of fat, and I want no further proof of design. But logically, as it seems to me, ALL must be design, or all must be chance. I do not see how one can slash a line right across the universe and say that all to the right of that is chance and all to the left is pre-ordained. You would then have to contend that things which on the face of them are of the same class are really divided by an impassable gulf, and that the lower are regulated, while the higher are not. You would, for example, be forced to contend that the number of articulations in a flea’s hind leg has engaged the direct superintendence of the Creator, while the mischance that killed a thousand people in a theatre depended upon the dropping of a wax vesta upon the floor, and was an unforeseen flaw in the chain of life. This seems to me to be unthinkable.

It is a very superficial argument to say that if a man holds the views of a fatalist he will therefore cease to strive, and will wait resignedly for what fate may send him. The objector forgets that among the other things fated is that we of northern blood SHOULD strive and should NOT sit down with folded hands. But when a man has striven, when he has done all he knows, and when, in spite of it, a thing comes to pass, let him wait ten years before he says that it is a misfortune. It is part of the main line of his destiny then, and is working to an end. A man loses his fortune; he gains earnestness. His eyesight goes; it leads him to a spirituality. The girl loses her beauty; she becomes more sympathetic. We think we are pushing our own way bravely, but there is a great Hand in ours all the time.”

Sir Arthur’s comment about the seed being designed to find the most congenial soil brought back a memory to me of the great hurricane that occurred in London and the South East of England in the early nineties. Acres of woodland were destroyed and two things happened as a consequence. Firstly, the following spring, a mass of wild flowers sprang up where the trees had once been and had prevented the sunlight from penetrating to the ground to germinate the seeds. Secondly, over the next two years, the Forestry Commission directed a huge tree re-planting programme to replace the trees that had been blown down. They planted the new trees in the same places where the old ones had been. Many of the trees planted under the programme withered and died BUT many trees sprang up in other parts of the former forests, of their own accord! - Chance or design?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Physical Mediumship – Part 5

A few years ago a Russian ironclad mysteriously disappeared. No clue as to how or where could be discovered. It happened on a calm, clear autumn night. Before dark she was seen steaming steadily on within sight of land; at daybreak she was gone. Anxiety, suspicion, and speculation were rife, as it was reported that the vessel carried many important and valuable documents on board. It was also assumed that the Russian Government would give a great reward to recover them.

I happened to be in Finland at the time, and one of my friends, an officer of rank, possibly anxious to distinguish himself, said he would ask the help of the spirits to enable him to discover the fate of the vessel. A séance was arranged, and ‘Walter’ was consulted. He promised to assist, or to try to assist. A great friendship had been struck up between ‘Walter’ and the General.

On the following evening the usual meeting took place, at which some fifteen to eighteen persons were present. The report of the Committee (chosen by the circle) and published in several different papers, read as follows. I have translated it into English:-

Within a few minutes after settling ourselves quietly in our places, ‘Walter’ announced he had found someone who could help us. After this announcement, we waited with ill-controlled excitement and impatience for some time, when the curtains of the cabinet were opened and the figure of a rather tall, broad-shouldered man walked out to where the medium was sitting before the curtains. He was a stranger to us; we had not seen him at any previous séances. He stooped over the medium and took the paper and pencil she had on her knee Going back a step or two, he held the paper against the side wall of the screen which formed the cabinet, and began to draw something on it.

It was too dark to distinguish his features, but his every movement was clearly discernible. We were naturally excited and curious, and addressed ourselves constantly to the medium, as she was in the best position to see and report on the man’s proceedings. She told us from time to time what she saw, but could not see what he was writing. Then she requested us to sing, as our excitement was evidently interfering with, or would communicate itself to, the spirit and hinder its work. When we started however, the song broke down. On this she turned to Professor S. and said he had better play something, and the others she ordered to keep quiet, or they would spoil everything. While she was speaking the man placed the pencil again on her knee, together with one blank sheet of paper. The other he handed to captain T., and then retired behind the curtains of the cabinet.

The paper was examined, and on it was found a map of the portion of the Finnish coast between Abo and Helsingfors. The positions of two lighthouses, and a shoal of some twenty five miles to the south, were marked; between them a cross was placed, and the words in Finnish: “Here you will find the Russalka.” On further examination the chart was found true to scale, and was without doubt the work of one familiar with maritime charts, and also well acquainted with the Finnish coast.

I may here draw attention to the fact that while the materialised spirit was engaged in a work requiring care, thought and intelligence, the whole of the medium’s attention was divided between taking notes of his movements and preserving the calm amongst the sitters which was so absolutely necessary for success. I may also add that, as the medium was myself, she was in a very bad humour at the difficulty in keeping order.

It may, perhaps, be interesting to some to hear that the drawing was shown to the Governor of Finland, and he decided to act upon the information. A steamer was fitted up with the necessary machinery and appliances, divers were engaged, and the expedition about to repair to the spot pointed out, when peremptory orders were issued from St Petersburg forbidding the expedition, and ordering all search for the missing vessel to be abandoned.

The Russian Government probably knew its own business best, but its decree caused a good deal of disappointment to those who were desirous of testing the information given by the strange materialised spirit.

What a great pity that the governmental desire for secrecy above all else, prevented the search for this vessel taking place, or that no-one so far as I know, has thought of searching in that area since. This is one of those rare instances where the well known adage was reversed and; “Spirit proposed but man disposed!” Lionel

That concludes, for the timebeing, the extracts from Madame D'Esperance's talk about her mediumship.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Scent of the Jasmine

In our garden in a house in the mountains about 60 kilometres from Rio stands a Jasmine tree that comes into bloom every spring and there it is now, showing its delicate waxen, white petals, looking beautiful and filling the garden with that unique, powerful and yet subtle scent of Jasmine. It is one of the great rewards of coming here at this time of the year.

Last year in Orlando, Florida, I was privileged to be invited to conduct a service of naming for a newborn infant. She was very tiny, had arrived prematurely in our world and had already shown remarkable psychic gifts, even at her age and despite not yet being able to speak of course. One thing that happened in the hospital will illustrate what I mean. A friend, visiting her mother asked one morning if the nurse had any idea when mother and baby would be allowed home. Instead of replying, the nurse exclaimed in amazement, “Look at the clock and look at the baby!” The baby was smiling and looking at the clock, the hands of which were moving forward rapidly. Eventually they came to rest at 2.30. It was exactly 2.30pm next day when the baby left the hospital with her mother!

Several people also mentioned that it appeared to them, not only did the baby seem to understand what they were saying, but it also seemed at times that she was speaking to them! The baby’s grandmother is a very gifted Spiritualist medium and, as psychic gifts are an inherited faculty, it comes as no surprise to me that it should happen in this case – but to manifest so early is truly remarkable. In the British Spiritualist Naming Ceremony, one of the most rewarding and moving tasks the medium conducting the service has to perform is to give the child a Spirit Name, in addition to the names chosen by the parents. The medium receives the Spirit Name from the spiritual world, either clairaudiently or through inspiration.

In this case I attuned myself to the spiritual world in advance of the ceremony and received the names Jasmine Joy. Her grandmother, the medium I mentioned above told me later that, until she heard me pronounce the spirit names, she could not understand why, from the time she awoke until the time for the ceremony, she had smelled the overpowering scent of Jasmine! Once I gave the Spirit Name of course she understood. Isn’t it wonderful the way the power of the spirit works in and through us in such remarkable ways? Each spring in my garden in the mountains, I am reminded of this beautiful little girl to whom spirit entrusted me with the honour and privilege of receiving and giving her Spirit Name. The name is so appropriate to her, for she is as pale and delicate as the flower and sheds a sweet radiance around her in the same way as the tree spreads its unforgettable scent to all nearby.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Materialisation – Part 4

Yolande as she appeared when materialised (Photographed by magnesium light 8 March 1890)

Respecting the methods of building of the materialised form, that adopted by the spirit ‘Yolande’ came most frequently under my notice. She seemed by practice to have become an adept in the art, and her methods seldom varied. She appeared also to have overcome the dispersing effect of the light to a great extent, for after a few hundred experiments she was able to carry on her operations in a sufficiently strong light to enable the sitters to observe every detail. A good description of her methods is given in “Shadow Land” by an eyewitness, who had many opportunities of observing the phenomenon. My own observations in no way differed from those of the sitters during such manifestations, but my sensations were strange and curious. ‘Yolande’ came and went entirely independent of my will. I lost physical strength, but no particle of my individuality. On the contrary, the loss of physical power seemed but to intensify that of the senses. Distant sounds, beyond hearing at other times, became painfully audible; a movement of any of the sitters sent a vibration through every nerve; a sudden exclamation caused a sensation of terror; the very thoughts of the persons in the room made themselves felt, almost as though they were material objects.

If anyone was suffering, I could feel the pain. If anyone was anxious or sad, I was constrained to weep. At the same time the desire to follow the proceedings intelligently was always strong enough to overcome the longing to put an end to the torment.

I found that ‘Yolande’ was dependent on me for her material existence, and that if I grew weary of the terrible weakness, and made an effort to throw it off, ‘Yolande’ was compelled to return to where I sat, and as I regained my strength she lost somewhat of hers. On one occasion, just previous to a séance the sleeve of my dress caught fire, so that my arm was scorched and caused me a good deal of pain. During the manifestations ‘Yolande’ was noticed to touch her arm gingerly, as though it was in some way uncomfortable. Then I found that the pain had left my arm entirely, and did not return until the séance was over. But, at another time, when a dislocated shoulder necessitated me wearing a surgical bandage for a few days, ‘Yolande’ appeared with both arms uninjured. Nor did she exhibit any signs of weakness, for she lifted with ease a pitcher of water in her right hand, a feat which under the circumstances, would have been quite impossible for me.

One can only reconcile these contradictions by presuming that ‘Yolande’ had found sufficient material (on that occasion) from the persons in the circle, which in this case numbered over twenty. On the occasion of the burnt arm under ten persons formed the circle.

I could quote numerous instances proving that the consciousness of the medium, subliminal or otherwise, has nothing to do with the intelligence animating the materialised forms. One however will suffice; I have chosen it in preference to others because it has been well attested and much spoken of in the country where it happened.

This I will relate in the next blog. It is fascinating is it not, to realise just what it cost Madame D’Esperance to insist on remaining conscious throughout the proceedings. It also of course enables us to receive information about the process from the medium’s point of view that would have been quite impossible had she been unconscious. Lionel

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Materialisation – Part 3

A pencil drawing by spirit (completed in darkness in a couple of minutes) of Walter, another of Madame D'Esperance's guides.

The following is translated from an article by Max Rahn in the German journal ‘Ubersinnliche Welt,’ on his observations during a séance for materialisation held in Berlin some time ago.

After speaking of streams of faint light playing about the knees of the persons sitting in the circle, and which seemed to be attracted to the cabinet, into which they disappeared, and how he had peeped behind the curtains and had seen something like flickering lights in movement, he goes on to say:-
“The third and undoubtedly the most important of my observations was that of the modus operandi of the building of the material of the spirit form, which is the more interesting as it was also witnessed by my friend Weinholz.

"I saw from the central opening in the cabinet behind the medium, and far above her head, a milk-white luminous cloud appear, which slowly sank to the floor before her, and then rose in a pillar-like form to a height of five or six feet. Suddenly, from the immediate neighbourhood of the medium, seemingly from her side, a shadowy something rose. It entered the cloudy mass, which swept itself about the shadowy figure, which then, as a spirit in luminous garments, began to move about the circle.

I raised myself in astonishment and leaned towards where, in spite of what I had seen, the medium sat quietly in her chair and replied to my remarks.
‘The medium and the spirit were clearly two separate individuals.’

I maintain therefore, that I was so fortunate as to be a witness of the most important process in the phenomenon of materialisation, and am therefore able to throw a little light on this most mysterious subject.”

A similar phenomenon is reported in a French work by Mr Aksakof and Colonel de Rochas. It happened one Mid-summer’s eve in Paris, when a few friends were having an after dinner chat in our sitting room. Mr Aksakof writes (I translate his remarks from the French):-

“My nephew, Herr Boutlerof, sat on a chair beside the medium’s sofa, chatting with her. I sat before her within an arm’s length. The conversation was general. The semi-darkness of the room was agreeable after the glare and heat outside. The windows were open.

The lamps were not lighted. My attention was called by my nephew to a curious white mist, or cloud, which seemed to be gathering between Madame D’ Esperance and himself – “issuing from her side,” he said. Madame D’ Esperance was talking to Colonel de Rochas and a lady, and seemed unconscious of what we saw. M. Boutlerof had his hands covered with the white mass, as it lay on his knees. He closed his fingers over it, and the mass shrank together as if sensitive, and almost disappeared. I signalled to him silently to avoid disturbing the phenomenon. The mass continued to grow till the attention of others was drawn to it. Madame Cauvin grew excited and afraid. I tried to quiet her, but her nervousness increased. The white, cloudy mass assumed the height and something of the shape, of a six year old child, in active movement under a too large garment, but went no further, and almost immediately grew less and less, till nothing remained. It was, M. Boutlerof positively declared, re-absorbed by the medium, who watched the process as interestingly as he did. Although the evening was closing in, the light was sufficient to enable one to observe all that went on in the room. It was very interesting because quite unexpected. I regretted Madame Cauvin’s nervousness extremely.”

The conclusions which I have drawn from the numerous, varied and oft-repeated experiments are: That while the material used in the production of visible spirit forms is borrowed entirely from the sitters and particularly from mediumistic persons in a circle, the intelligence that animates that form is entirely extraneous and independent of the intelligence or consciousness of mediums or sitters.

Some readers may be mystified by the references to the medium being conscious during the process of materialisation referred to above, because in the vast majority of cases materialisation mediums are not conscious when being used by their controls. Madame D’ Esperance was a very singular lady. Quite early on in her development she made a pact with her controls that she would only agree to be used for materialisations if she could remain conscious throughout the entire process. In her autobiography “Shadow Land” she reports that it was something of a pyrrhic victory for her because if she as much as moved a muscle during the phenomenon, it would cease immediately.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Materialisation (2)

Upper Picture: Materialised form of Bien Boa, one of Elisabeth D'Esperance's guides.
Lower Picture: Materialised form of Katie King with Sir William Barrett, famous phycisist.

This has been seen by many persons as though given off from the side of the medium. It is evident that the physical bodies of mediumistic persons lend themselves more readily to the process of emanation, but they are not alone in this, for it is a quality common to each and every one. The medium who is being used is certainly the centre of attraction for the material gathered from the circle. It is absorbed by him, some say, while others maintain that it is only changed in its character by admixture with that given by the medium himself, in much the same manner as that in which steam is changed and made visible by being condensed as it comes into contact with the outer air. This, being generally the first noticed by the inexperienced observer, has given rise to the supposition that it is the medium alone who contributes the material. Instead, however, of being the first process of manipulation, it is almost the latest. From this point it becomes a separate, independent, individualised object, gathering itself into a mass on the floor, rising and increasing in height and volume until it reaches the stature of a human form. Constant movement is seen to be going on within the mass, as though some living creature were actively engaged within a dense cloud, which is agitated by its movements, causing it to resemble a rolling, waving, ebullient volume of steam. In a short space the outer covering of this moving mass becomes an unmistakeable veil of more or less fine texture. This will be thrown off, revealing the form of an individual to all appearance as solid and material as any person in the circle, yet which each person in the room has seen evolved from that omnipotent no-thing to which he or she has contributed.

How has it been done? The work has in many cases been performed before the eyes of the sitters; they have watched the whole process from the beginning, but they can no more understand the mysterious development of the living, sentient creature in their midst, than they can understand other and commoner phenomena constantly being manifested before them; the development, for instance, of a plant from a tiny seed, the intelligence it displays in extracting the necessary gases from the air for its nourishment, and the advantage it takes of every opportunity to attain its object without considering the welfare of its neighbours, in a manner almost human in its selfishness. (laughter)

This process of materialisation is slow in the tree, but there is another common manifestation which is analogous to that of the séance room; that is the covering, of objects by the minerals held in solution in certain waters. There are springs, common in every country, the waters of which are clear, pellucid and tasteless. There is nothing in appearance to distinguish them from other waters, yet if a flower, or a leaf, or any delicate object be suspended for a few hours in those springs, it becomes covered with a grey, stony mass, hard and brittle, as though carved in stone. It is perfect as to form, but the beauty of colouring is hidden by the coarse material substance with which, by some natural affinity or attraction it has clothed itself. This transformation has always seemed to my mind to be a fair illustration of the process of materialisation by a spirit at a séance, and the observations of other investigators are to a great extent confirmatory of my own.

There is more to follow tomorrow.

Monday, 9 November 2009


Photograph from the booklet, "The Remarkable Mediumship of Minnie Harrison" by kind permission of Tom Harrison

How is a materialised form built up and how is it animated?

In a lecture in 1909, Elisabeth D’Esperance, an excellent materialisation medium from the North East of England, gave the following explanation:

We put these questions to Stafford. (Humnor Stafford, the chief control in spirit for her materialisation work) He bade us learn the answer by careful observation and study of the phenomena. So we were thrown upon our own resources, and forced to use our senses, observation and, reason for the gathering of information, which was a very good thing for us in many ways, and made the knowledge the more valuable because of the price we had to pay for it.

Our theosophical friends, I believe, answer this question by propounding the theory that all physical manifestations, including materialisation, are caused by the extruded etheric body of the medium, animated by the subliminal consciousness of the medium, and not by the consciousness of disembodied spirits, as we are told by the materialised spirits themselves.

This appears to me a very difficult and unsatisfactory explanation. To say the least, it gives one a vast amount of trouble to understand it; and when one has succeeded to some extent in grasping the idea, one finds one’s self involved in a maze of new theories, and complications of theories, till one is bewildered. Why should we throw aside as untrue the statements of the spirits that they are the spirits of persons who lived, and who died to find death but a change of life, and that they have found means to come and acquaint us with the fact? Why, instead of believing this, should we prefer to invest mediumistic persons with such fabulous powers, as those of being able, by the exercise of will and the concentration of thought, to produce a human form, and having produced it to endow it with the genius of a clever actor, the craft of a Macchiavelli, the memory of the person whose role it plays, and the duplicity of the father of lies himself? They who accept such theories are in many respects like the dog in the fable, who dropped his piece of flesh in the stream in order to grasp the shadow which was reflected there. (Hear, hear)

The medium, by the exercise of his will, can at any time prevent manifestations. In fact, the opposition of any person in a circle will act as a hindrance to the work of the unseen operators, but so far as I have yet seen in thirty years of experiment no medium has yet, by his will power or thought concentration, compelled a spirit to manifest itself.

Concerning my own observations as to the building of a materialised form, I can say very little more than others who have witnessed the process. It has varied according to the skill, or perhaps the knowledge, of the unseen worker; no two operators working exactly alike. I have watched the gathering together of the faintly luminous, hazy material I have before spoken of, seen it grow denser and more material in its consistency, so that it was visible to every person. Sometimes this is of a greyish white colour, sometimes of a dead whiteness, sometimes slightly luminous, becoming more so as it appears to condense, till it sheds a faint radiance on surrounding objects. To the touch it at first appears of a light, fleecy character, resembling combed, finely-drawn cotton wool, but quickly, even under the fingers, it seems to assume the character of a textile fabric.

I shall continue this description in tomorrow’s blog but should just like to comment on Madame D’Esperance’s observations about the views of Theosophists on this subject. Madame Blavatsky, a former Spiritualist, who founded Theosophy, enjoyed a wide reputation for her “intellectual” approach to spirit manifestation. Isn’t it surprising how often, so called intellectuals, prefer to accept a complex but erroneous theory to the simple facts? It as though for them, the more complex an idea, the more likely it is to be true! More often than not, the reverse is the case.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


I have come to the mountains this weekend to escape the heat of Rio, where it is around 40 degrees C or over 100 F. It is wonderful to be able to walk around easily, outdoors and in and not have to bother with air conditioning. I guess the temperature is about 15 degrees C lower here. I brought the dogs with me and they are so happy! They have been running around the garden here like two-year-olds!

Because it is still spring, many trees and shrubs are in blossom and the roses are a picture. There is a beautiful purple bougainvillea over the gate and it is in glorious bloom again and seems to light up the entire house and garden. As the peace of this lovely part of the world sinks into my bones, so I begin to relax more and to remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to come here whenever I choose; to come and to feel “Nature’s great heart beating over my head and under my feet,” which is how it was so eloquently described by a much more gifted person than me. Here I feel a million miles away from the sordid greed and selfishness that are still laying waste so much of our beautiful planet and destroying the lives of so many people. Here I can more easily invite those beautiful beings of light to draw close and help me help them focus their angelic light on those dark minds in the world that have been blinded by materialism, lust for power and overwhelmed by the power of their ego. To focus this beautiful light in the expectation that it will so affect those dark minds that their own light which is still there, though buried deep, will burst forth and that by its illumination they will see how foolish and ultimately self-destructive are their lives and decide to change to a more caring and constructive way of life.

It is as though the clear, sweet breeze here in the mountains sweeps through the mind, blowing away everything that is unimportant and encouraging the development of closer links with the subtle worlds that surround us at every turn. Those worlds wherein lie inspiration, knowledge, understanding of the world and all that is in it and above all an awareness of the simplicity that lies at the heart of God and the awe-inspiring powers that encompass both creation and destruction. (In reality, two sides of the same coin) By trying to make ourselves more aware of these subtle worlds which form part of both the physical and spiritual universes and their equally subtle energies, we can gradually realise that all that at one time seemed contradictory in life; everything that made no sense, in fact is entirely logical and makes perfect sense because we are beginning to see with our entire being and not just those five inadequate measures which so dominate our physical existence.

We should take every opportunity to move amid the wonders and beauties of the natural world, even if it is only in the local park, or walking along the beach. Take a break from the routine that our way of life has forced upon us and just try to be! Yes, we have to live this life as physical beings with all that entails but we should never do so to the exclusion of the inner life both of ourselves and of the natural world that surrounds us. We are not merely physical beings our physical body is a suit we have tailored using earthly materials to enable us to understand as spiritual beings, the spiritual lessons that follow when we choose to subject our free, spiritual selves to the constrictions upon that freedom inherent in temporary, physical existence. It is an existence that will encourage us to forget our spiritual origins unless we make an effort to still the insistent voice of ego and listen for a while to “the still small voice” within. Creating inner peace in the surroundings of the natural world is one sure way to do this.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Beyond the door
there’s peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more...
Tears in heaven

“Eric Clapton wrote the touching song Tears in Heaven, in response to his young son’s tragic passing. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, it is the most painful ordeal anyone can endure.

However, physical death is not the end of existence. Physical death is transference of our life force and consciousness from the Material World to The Other Side, which many of us refer to as Heaven.

As a psychic medium, I facilitate connections between people here in the Material World and the spirits of their loved ones on The Other Side. Some of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether a loved one is alone on the Other Side, and whether that person’s spirit is afraid. In other words, “Are there tears in Heaven?”

After communicating with thousands of spirits, it is my belief no one is alone on The Other Side. When a spirit leaves the physical body and ascends, he or she crosses into the “Light.” The Light is the spiritual energy of God. Upon entering this beautiful Light, the spirit is then greeted by spirits of family members and friends. These loved ones are connected by love to each other in Heaven, and they remain connected to us from Heaven by love. No one in Heaven is ever alone or afraid.

That is why there are no tears in Heaven.”


I was asked recently if I agreed with the views of the medium who wrote the above and I am afraid I do not. Whilst I am not in favour spreading alarm and despondency about life after death, and I am certainly no “fire and brimstone” man, I do believe we should always try to be honest and objective. There is ample information from those who have spoken to us from spirit that there are in fact many spheres in the spirit world, some bright and some much darker. These are the “many mansions” of Jesus of Nazareth.

Lovely and comforting initially, the sentiments expressed by this medium might be but I am afraid I must disagree with him. Had he focussed on the tragedy of losing a child and that such children can never be alone in heaven, I would have no quarrel with him. Whilst I cannot tell if there are sad tears in heaven, I do know there are tears of happiness. I imagine there must also be tears of sadness sometimes too - maybe not as much for oneself as for others, both on earth and in the spirit world. He is correct about everyone being met by loved ones when they arrive in the etheric world and from that point of view no-one should be lonely. But loneliness is a matter of choice, not of circumstances. If a person has lived a bad or selfish life on earth, they may eventually become so full of remorse that they shy away from any company. They still will not be deserted by their Guardian but they may be unable to see him or her because of their remorse.

Where I really part company with this medium though is in his apparent assumption that everyone ascends into the light and remains "happy ever after" as it were. By comparison with earth, the etheric world into which we all pass on death, is a place of light - BUT we do not remain there, except for those so wedded to the flesh that they wish to continue to live in closest proximity to the world of the flesh, and even they will have to move on to a suitable spirit sphere. However when we do move on - and we all do eventually - we go to that sphere of spirit closest in light to the light we give out ourselves (our spiritual, mental and emotional aura) which is the result of the type of life we have lived on earth.

Very selfish and even more, evil people, do not go to a sphere that is particularly bright. In these darker spheres, the loved ones of a spirit living there due to their 'lack of charity' (to use an old phrase) do not often visit because it is emotionally and spiritually painful for them to visit the darker places. Therefore, separation from loved ones would be a fact. Were it not so, the Spiritualist principle "Compensation and retribution for all good and evil deeds done on earth," would be meaningless. Life on earth and in spirit is all about growth, spiritual growth. Some people refuse to make the effort required in order to grow spiritually and they either stagnate or worse, go backwards. This is true I understand in spirit as well as on earth (where it is obvious). Since the measure of a person's spiritual attainment is the light they emit, it would make nonsense of the efforts made by those who have tried hard to do good if those who never bothered finish up in exactly the same place in the spiritual world! God is nothing if not loving and just and His laws are so perfect that if we transgress them (by being unkind, uncharitable or downright evil) we cannot move forward until we have made amends for those transgressions.

I hope this explains where I am coming from. I must say I become impatient with those who seem to think everything is 'lovey-dovey' in life, when clearly it is not and there are sound, logical reasons why that is so. Telling people what you think they would like to hear is not the most honest approach and can do more harm than good in the long term. I am very much in favour of looking for the best in everyone and it is true, even the worst of us has good things about him/her, but to pretend that behaviour here on earth is unimportant, as this man seems to do, is irresponsible and he is guilty of the worst type of sentimentality.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Psychography – Slate Writing

In the early days of Spiritualism, slate writing was a very common form of physical mediumship. Mediums would have two slates (the type children used at their lessons in school in those days) securely fastened together, having first placed a fragment of a pencil between the slates, then sealed so they could not be separated without breaking the seals. Mediums would usually hold both slates in one hand against the under-side of a table, thus forming a makeshift cabinet. One exceptional medium, Fred Evans, would have none of this. He always arranged for the slates to be held by one of the investigating committee, in full view of the audience at all times and in good, bright light. What follows is a report of a demonstration of his powers given in Scottish hall San Francisco in 1885.

“At Scottish Hall, Mr Evans did similar work worthy of note. At this latter séance a shrewd Real Estate operator, sitting in the back part of the audience, wagered $20 with a companion that if he could be chosen as one of the committee to examine and hold the slates, no writing would appear on the slates in his hands. Thereupon his name was called, and by vote of the audience he was elected as one of the committee. He examined his slates with especial care, saw that they were thoroughly washed, dried and tied together, in a manner to make deception impossible. He did not suffer them to leave his hands for a moment, nor did Mr Evans even touch them.

He declared that he heard the pencil scratching between the slates, and upon opening them one of the inner surfaces was covered with about thirty messages, written in the usual patchwork manner peculiar to this psychic. He gave it up, and was quite earnest in extolling the fact as he was at first in declaring that it could not be done.

On the inner surface of one of the slates held by the other member of the committee, were also a large number of messages. It is needless to say that the friends of Mr Evans were delighted, whilst the sceptics present were completely bothered.”

Taken from the book “Psychography- Marvellous manifestations of psychic power through Fred P.Evans” by J.J. Owen (No relation to me)

I think by clicking on the image, you might be able to enlarge the slate so you can read what is written upon it.