The First Spiritualists and Psychic Pioneers
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The vanguard of Spiritualism
As stated in Section 3 there are many people who were in the vanguard of Spiritualism and spirit communication and whom Spiritualists acknowledge as being vital to the institution of Spiritualism as a Science, a Religion and a Philosophy.
While it must be accepted that there were thousands of people who became interested in Spiritualism in the aftermath of the Hydesville Rappings, many of these people were eminent scholars and scientists who, quite literally, put their professions in jeopardy when pronouncing on their conclusions of the phenomena of Spiritualism. Nothing daunted, the investigations continued; journalists initiated newspapers and magazines; authors wrote books; scientists set up the Society for Psychical Research to put all the phenomena on a professional footing in order that they could be seriously investigated.
It would be wrong to imply that these people did not play their part in the establishment of Spiritualism in equal measure to the mediums and also the people who organized the meetings which gradually formed into Churches and Societies, leading to today’s Spiritualist Movement. In many cases, there was a fine dividing line where an investigator would discover mediumship within him/herself and continue investigating with a more personal approach.
SIR OLIVER LODGE (1851-1940)
Lodge began his investigations into psychic phenomena in 1883. He wrote an account of his experiences in 1908 and not after his son Raymond had been killed, as many of his opponents like to assert. It was at a sitting with the famous American medium, Leonore Piper, that he received a message from F W H Myers. Myres was the founder President of the Society for Psychic Research.
The message received on 6 September 1915 hinted at a blow to come. It was on 14 September 1915 that Raymond was killed. The book that was written by Sir Oliver Lodge called ‘Raymond’ is a Spiritualist classic.
Raymond communicated with his father on numerous occasions, through different mediums, giving so much evidence which must have strengthened his father’s convictions in relation to survival of death. He discussed methods with his son on the best kind of survival evidence.
‘Science in the Seance Room’:
“This great man, whose towering intellect could range from the problems of atomic physics to speculations about the nature of that mysterious ether which he claimed accounts for much that happens in the universe, shows his almost schoolboyish excitement in ‘Raymond’ when he describes a test which he calls the Honolulu incident.”
This is a very simple test that anyone can try. In Birmingham, Alec, son of Sir Oliver together with others, sat in the Lodge home circle and using table phenomenon asked Raymond to ask Feda, the guide of Mrs. Osborne Leonard in London, to say the word Honolulu. Lionel and Norah, Alec’s brother and sister were having a sitting with Mrs. Leonard that very same day. In the middle of the sitting, Feda exclaimed that Raymond had something he wanted to say to his siblings; he asked them if they could play Honolulu. Feda then advised the sitters that Raymond was roaring with laughter. All three children made statements to attest how the experiment had been set up, and worked, even though Lionel and Norah were unaware of it at the time.
“Sir Oliver Lodge obtained his B.Sc degree as the result of studies at night classes, and he gained honors in physics. Then he took his D.Sc. and became Professor of Physics, University College, Liverpool for nine years. He was awarded, in 1898, the Rumford Medal by the Royal Society. Next, he was Principal of Birmingham University from its establishment in 1900 to 1919. He was knighted in 1902 and in the next year became Romanes Lecturer at Oxford, and was for two years President of the British Association.” (Science and the Seance Room. Paul Miller)
SIR WILLIAM CROOKES (1832-1919)
Crookes investigated many physical mediums and the phenomena produced by them. He was one of the scientists present when Daniel Dunglas Home performed the most famous of his levitation feats, that of elevating, leaving the house via one window, floating along the outside wall of the house and then re-entering by another window; all at first-floor level.
Crookes, however, is best remembered for his investigation of the medium Florence Cook and the materialization of Katie King. He was subjected to many attacks from his peers as were the majority of scientists who endeavored to show to the world the evidence that is there for any logically-thinking person.
Florence was accused of dressing up as Katie King which could not have happened. At one seance Katie informed Sir William that her medium’s head had slipped and was in an uncomfortable position. Sir William entered the cabinet with Katie beside him; he lifted Florence’s head back into a more natural position all the time being able to see both Florence and Katie.
Sir William Crookes carried out numberless seances and experiments with Florence Cook, often tying her up and subjecting her to indignities to which today’s mediums might object.
Sir William received from the Royal Society the Royal, the Davy and the Copley medal, and from the Royal Society of Arts, the Albert Medal and finally in 1910 the Order of Merit was conferred on him by the King. He received his Knighthood in 1897 and was honored by the most distinguished academies and universities in the world.
F. H. W. MYERS (1843 – 1901)
F. W. H. Myers was the son of an English clergyman and a classics scholar turned scientist by his interest in psychic phenomena and mediumship. An after-death communication from his first wife confirmed Myers’ belief in the survival of human consciousness. In 1882, he co-founded the Society for Psychical Research and was a major contributor to its success for the next twenty years.
It was some five years after his death that Myers was found to be continuing his researches by being part of the famous Cross- Correspondences. These correspondences continued for some thirty years and took the form of more than 2000 automatic scripts which were produced and then transmitted to different mediums across the world as separate fragments. These fragments seemed incomprehensible, but, when brought together, integrated and analyzed, turned out to be erudite essays on abstruse classical or similar subjects. Myers undertook this work ‘post-mortem’ and collaborators in this project were Edmund Gurney, and Henry Sidgwick who died in 1888 and 1900 respectively.
The “Cross-Correspondences” are unique in that they were planned by scholars and scientists in spirit and it wasn’t until the scripts were cross-referenced that the evidence was made outstandingly obvious. This material has been published in great detail across many volumes of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research and has also been summarised in the following book: Saltmarsh, H.F. (1938). Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross Correspondences. Bell, London.
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1859-1930)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will always be remembered for the character he created to earn some pin money – Sherlock Holmes and it is sometimes easy to forget the powerful advocate he was on behalf of Spiritualism.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on 22 May 1859 to Mary and Charles Doyle, one of seven surviving children and spent his formative school years in Edinburgh. At the age of nine, he was sent to the Jesuits school in Hodder and from there to the Jesuits secondary school at Stonyhurst. Upon leaving school, wherein he had examined his religious beliefs, he became an agnostic. Arthur then studied medicine at Edinburgh University from 1876 to 1881.
Arthur was to spend time as a ship’s doctor before he went into partnership with Dr. George Turnavine Budd in Plymouth, but this practice eventually broke up and Arthur moved to Southsea which is where he wrote his first Sherlock Holmes’ novel, A Study in Scarlet.
In 1885 he married Louise Hawkins (‘Touie’) and it was in 1886 that he first became interested in psychic studies following meetings which he had attended in Southsea. Sadly, Touie contracted tuberculosis and died in 1906. Arthur did, however, remarry – a Miss Jean Leckie with whom he had been friendly for some years.
Arthur was knighted in 1902 after returning from South Africa where he served in the war as a doctor.
By 1916, Sir Arthur was no longer a confirmed agnostic and he was to become known as the St Paul of Spiritualism. He began to dedicate the rest of his life to the propagation of spiritual truths; writing extensively on the subject as well as traveling the world with his wife, lecturing on his beliefs. There were many people at this time who were bereaved because of the atrocities of war and were in desperate need of what Arthur was to call The New Revelation.
As with all investigators of Spiritualism and mediumship, Sir Arthur had many critics and the case of the Cottingley Fairies and his involvement in it caused a furor at the time. Again, also in line with many psychic investigators, Sir Arthur had his own home circle and became a practicing Spiritualist. The Spiritualists’ National Union honored him by giving him the title Hon. President in Spirit.
His writings in both the psychic and non-psychic fields are voluminous and when he passed in 1930 the world lost a Knight of the Realm who was deserving of such a title and Spiritualism lost one of its greatest advocates.
WILLIAM STAINTON MOSES (1839-1892)
William Stainton Moses was born on 5th November 1839 in Donnington, Lincolnshire. His father was the Head Master of the local Grammar School and his education was commenced at the school of which his father was Principal. His progress was so great that he eventually was sent to a public school and from there to a Grammar School in Bedford. He was an excellent student and continued his academic years by entering Exeter College, Oxford.
His work at college was also excellent and it was expected that he would take the highest honors open to him. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Overwork and a refusal to relax caused a breakdown in his health and he was very ill for some little while. He spent nearly a year traveling as a form of convalescence.
He did eventually get his degree at the age of 23 and, due to his continuing ill health he accepted a curacy at Maughold, near Ramsey, Isle of Man. While living in Maughold, a severe epidemic of small-pox broke out in the village and there was no resident doctor in the district. Stainton Moses had a little knowledge of medicine so day and night he was at the bedside of some person who was laid low with this disease. It was necessary at times to be a doctor, priest and even gravedigger.
In 1868 he left Maughold and accepted the curacy of St George’s, Douglas, Isle of Man. Here he first met Dr. and Mrs. Stanhope Speer, who were to play a prominent part in his later life.
Stainton Moses eventually left the curacy through ill health, worked as English Master at the University College School in London from 1870 to 1889 when, again, ill health forced his resignation.
While visiting Dr. Speer in 1870 the subject of Spiritualism was first brought prominently before him. For some time both men had been drifting towards agnosticism because of disillusionment in existing religions and theologies. It was Mrs. Speer who lent Stainton Moses the book The Debatable Land by Dale Owen to read, asking him if the experiences related could be true.
This was to be the trigger that initiated Stainton Moses’ investigation of Spiritualism, mediumship and his own development. He visited many mediums seeking evidence that would stand up to critical examination. He eventually had to concede that from his investigations, there was some force outside of the medium which he could not explain.
It was in about 1892 that his own mediumistic potential began to unfold and it was to produce many phenomena, including: rappings that responded to questions and answered them coherently, spirit lights, perfumes and various aromas, musical sounds (produced when musical instruments were in the room and also when they were not), direct writing with no person touching the pencil, movements of furniture and other heavy objects, apports and trance speaking. Using his automatic writing ability, Stainton Moses produced books that are considered to be Spiritualist classics.
Apart from developing his mediumship Stainton Moses involved himself in helping in the formation of various societies to investigate Spiritualism and other kindred, subjects, one of these being British National Association of Spiritualists.
Psychological Society of Great Britain
He was also connected with the Psychological Society of Great Britain, which was inaugurated in April 1875. In 1882 he became very involved in the formation of the Society for Psychical Research; and in 1884 he established “The London Spiritualist Alliance,” and became its first President, which post he filled up to the time of his death.
Stainton Moses’ life was spent battling illnesses and trying to retain employment in spite of such illnesses; he has left Spiritualists a legacy of literature which is illuminating and instructive – a pioneer of note.
This is an extract from The Psychics & Mediums Network Teaching Manual that is used as support material for our online classes and distance learning projects.
COPYRIGHT This article is part of our Distance Learning Project DLP – a course specially written for us by the great Spiritualist Violet Kipling and longtime worker on this website and the charitable organization Rainbows End. No part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. This material may not be published as web pages or in email correspondence courses without the permission of the copyright owner. World serial rights are owned by the “Psychics and Mediums Network” (www.psychics.co.uk)
- Sir Oliver Lodge Spiritualist
- The Mediumship of William Stainton Moses
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s Interest in Spiritualism
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