Archive for November, 2013


Dr. Maria Hayden

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Dr. Maria Hayden

According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his History of Spiritualism, “Mrs. Hayden (Mrs. Maria Hayden) who first in the year 1852 brought the new phenomena (of Spiritualism) to these (English) shores.” He goes on to say that, “Mrs. Hayden graduated as a doctor of medicine and practiced for fifteen years,” In fact she was described by Dr. James Rodes Buchanan as, “one of the most skillful and successful physicians I have ever known.”

This image has absolutely nothing to do with Maria Hayden.
I happened on it while searching images in the public domain and I liked it.
I could not find an image of Dr. Hayden.


It is likely that the British and indeed all of Europe already heard the word of the Fox sisters and of the spread of Spiritualism in America but it was Mrs. Hayden and perhaps her credibility, that gave the populace of Great Brittan as well as the press and those of the intellectual elite the opportunity to examine the claims first hand.

The following is from Spiritualism  Accessed Saturday, November 23, 2013

“Mrs. Hayden is first recorded as being a Medium in 1851, following a séance which was held at the Hayden’s house by the famous Medium D. D. Home. Her mediumship was described as “a limited type of mediumship consisting mainly of raps; however, they furnished information beyond the knowledge of the sitters”.

“Maria was an educated woman, wife of one W R Hayden who was an influential and wealthy Newsman. Congressional reporter for the National Intelligencer, who became editor of the Boston Atlas and of a Monthly Newsletter of which little is recorded the “Star Spangled Banner”. Hayden was a noted abolitionist committed to the anti-slavery platform in company with many early Spiritualists.

“The Hayden’s travelled to the UK in October 1852 accompanied by a Mr. Stone who was a lecturer in the art of inducing hypnotism by gazing at metallic discs. On arrival, despite interest in some areas, the British Press set out to ridicule her. Famous papers and periodicals joined together in the attack, such as Household Words, Blackwood’s Magazine and The National Miscellany. These were added to by disclosures from people who attended her seances saying she could not work if she did not see the alphabet…

“After weathering the attacks Mrs. Hayden began to get some positive responses. The first was from an undisclosed supporter of Spiritualism, one Robert Chambers a man of science who wrote in his monthly publication Chambers Journal on May 21st 1853 that, he had seen the medium work successfully with the alphabet behind her back and was unable to account for the phenomena. He was followed by support in another publication “The Critic”, and then two eminent individuals added their support. The first was Sir Charles Isham 10th Baronet of Isham (as an amusing aside he is credited with beginning the tradition of garden gnomes in the United Kingdom) and the Royal Physician Dr. Ashburner.

“Successes in gaining support led to her holding seances with Robert Owen (father of Robert Dale Owen) the early socialist reformer who was so convinced he became a devoted Spiritualist.

Seances followed with the famous mathematician and philosopher Augustus de Morgan followed and he and his wife also became committed Spiritualist.

“Millions of mathematics students have much to remember about de Morgan as he was one of the most influential minds behind differential calculus (author of such standard works as Formal Logic, The Differential Calculus (1847) and the An Essay on Probabilities (1838)). Mrs. de Morgan went on to publish a book called “From Matter to Spirit” in 1863 predominantly as a result of her early experiences with Mrs. Hayden. The preface to this was written by Augustus and includes a section on his conversion through the events he witnessed at Mrs. Hayden’s séances; I will include this later in the topic. The book itself is quite a good early record of how to go about making spirit contact even if it is a little turgid in a typically Victorian manner

“In the meantime Maria’s husband was not to be totally outshone, producing the first magazine on Spiritualism in the UK, “The Spirit World” with one edition in May 1853.

“After a year in the UK Mrs. Hayden returned to the USA where she continued to work as a Medium. She collaborated regularly with Dr. Robert Hare, on the researches which led to his book, the first ever published on the basis of scientific research, “The Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestation, 1855.”

“Some of the interviews he had with Mrs. Hayden seem to have given very accurate information, even when he was using the special Spiritoscope apparatus that he had been developing. This gave more confidence in his mind because they created a control to ensure the medium could have no knowledge of the answers she was giving. To quote Hare;

“While in Boston, having read to a friend a communication from my father through a writing-medium, I placed it in one of my pockets and proceeded to the Fountain Inn; when there, I felt for it without success. Unexpectedly I went to Salem by the cars, and returned the same evening. On undressing myself the scroll was missing, and I inferred that it had been lost between the place where it had been read and the inn above named, where I felt for it unsuccessfully. In going next morning to Mrs. Hayden’s, and my spirit father reporting himself, I inquired whether he knew what had become of the scroll. It was answered that it had been left upon the seat in the car on my quitting it at Salem. Inquiring of the conductor, who was on duty in the car where it had been left, he said that it had been found on the seat, was safe at Portland, and should be returned to me the next day. This promise was realized.

“On one occasion, sitting at the disk with Mrs. Hayden, a spirit gave his initials as C. H. Hare. Not recollecting any one of our relations of that name precisely, I inquired if he was one of them. The reply was affirmative. ‘Are you a son of my cousin, Charles Hare, of St. Johns, New Brunswick?’ ‘Yes’ was spelled out. This spirit then gave me the profession of his grandfather also that of his father. . . . Subsequently, the brother of this spirit made us a visit in Philadelphia, and informed us that the mundane career of his brother, Charles Henry, had been terminated by shipwreck, some four years anterior to the visit made, as mentioned to me.”

“Funnily enough after Hare’s publication Mrs. Hayden’s name seems to disappear from record. It becomes almost impossible to track any further information on her continued Mediumship. What is known is that after returning from the UK she also graduated as a Doctor of Medicine practicing for 15 years, with such remarkable healing powers that James Rhodes Buchanan, the famous pioneer in psychometry, declared her to be “one of the most skilful and successful physicians I have ever known.” She was later offered a medical professorship in an American college. It appears that in this period she may have just ceased her work of communicating with Spirit and moved purely to healing.”

Much love,

Book Review: The Medium and the Scientist: The Story of Florence Cook and William Crookes by Trevor Hall

I made a promise to myself when I began this website that I would focus on the positive aspects of my subject matter and that if I could not say something good I would say nothing at all however The Medium and the Scientist has placed a challenge before me.

Florence Cook:

Katie King:


William Crookes:


William Crookes with Katie King:

will and kati

Sir William Crookes:


It is an excellent book.

Once I picked it up and started to read it I found that I simply could not put it down. Trevor Hall is a historian of the finest kind. His research is obvious but he never overwhelms or bores. The story reads like a best-selling novel.

So what, you may ask, is the problem?

Trevor makes the case that Florence was a fraud and that Sir William Crookes willfully and knowingly aided her in fraud. Fraudulent mediums in the Victorian period are quite common but reputable scientists who make profound discoveries and are Knighted by Queen Victoria don’t usually assist them.

The accusation that Sir William willfully aided Florence in fraud bothered me.

I have no desire to defend Florence.
I have known about her mediumship for years.
I have known about Katie King, the alleged full-form spirit being that drew her energy to manifest from Florence, for years.

My first impression when I saw the images and read her story was that the mediumship was almost laughable fraud but first impressions are not always accurate. When I finally read the first-hand account of Sir William Crookes a lump of emotion formed in my throat and I thought, “Oh my god, Florence was legit.”

It is unlikely but possible that William was deceived.
I have been deceived.
As human beings, we are all vulnerable to deceit.
This is why we should always keep an open mind but check the facts.

I was hoping to avoid the issue of fraud during the Victorian period altogether. There are so many genuine mediums, I reasoned, I should never find it necessary to write about fraud. But, alas, avoiding the sticky subject of fraud is not to be. I simply cannot let the accusations of Trevor Hall stand without at least giving voice to the other side.

Why would a reputable scientist, married, with a family, risk it all to help a fraudulent medium?

Trevor believes that Sir William’s investigation began with the best of intentions but, his wife was supposedly bedridden and pregnant and Florence was a young beauty. According to Mr. Hall, Sir William fell in love with the irresistible Florence and his passion blinded him.

Maybe Mr. Hall is correct.
Maybe he is not.

Mr. Hall said that Sir William’s wife was indisposed and that Sir William and Florence carried on their alleged affair in the Crookes home under the guise of controlled experimentation. In reality Sir William’s family including his lovely wife attended most of the séances conducted at the home and his wife is a first-hand witness of the full-form manifestation of Katie King.

Mr. Hall said that there was no difference between Katie King and Florence Cook; that they looked exactly like each other because they were one and the same person.

Sir Arthur Conon Doyle tells a different story in his book, The History of Spiritualism.

The following is an excerpt of the findings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as recording in his history:

“The research into the phenomena of Spiritualism by Sir William Crookes-or Professor Crookes, as he then was-during the years from 1870 to 1874 is one of the outstanding incidents in the history of the movement. It is notable on account of the high scientific standing of the inquirer, the stern and yet just spirit in which the inquiry was conducted, the extraordinary results, and the uncompromising declaration of faith which followed them.

“It has been a favorite device of the opponents of the movement to attribute some physical weakness or growing senility to each fresh witness to psychic truth, but none can deny that these researches were carried out by a man at the very zenith of his mental development, and that the famous career which followed was a sufficient proof of his intellectual stability. It is to be remarked that the result was to prove the integrity not only of the medium Florence Cook with whom the more sensational results were obtained, but also that of D. D. Home and of Miss Kate Fox, who were also severely tested.

“Sir William Crookes, who was born in 1832 and died in 1919, was pre-eminent in the world of science.

“Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1863, he received from this body in 1875 a Royal Gold Medal for his various chemical and physical researches, the Davy Medal in 1888, and the Sir Joseph Copley Medal in 1904. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897, and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910. He occupied the position of President at different tunes of the Royal Society, the Chemical Society, the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the British Association, and the Society for Psychical Research. His discovery of the new chemical element which he named “Thallium;” his inventions of the radiometer, the spinthariscope, and the “Crookes’ tube,” only represent a slight part of his great research. He founded in 1859 the CHEMICAL NEWS, which he edited, and in 1864 he became editor of the QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF SCIENCE. In 1880 the French Academy of Sciences awarded him a gold medal and a prize of 3,000 francs in recognition of his important work.

“Crookes confesses that he began his investigations into psychical phenomena believing that the whole matter might prove to be a trick. His scientific brethren held the same view, and were delighted at the course he had adopted. Profound satisfaction was expressed because the subject was to be investigated by a man so thoroughly qualified. They had little doubt that what were considered to be the sham pretensions of Spiritualism would now be exposed.

“One writer said, “If men like Mr. Crookes grapple with the subject we shall soon know how much to believe.” Dr. (afterwards Professor) Balfour Stewart, in a communication to Nature, commended the boldness and honesty which had led Mr. Crookes to take this step.

“Crookes himself took the view that it was the duty of scientists to make such investigation. He writes: “It argues ill for the boasted freedom of opinion among scientific men that they have so long refused to institute a scientific investigation into the existence and nature of facts asserted by so many competent and credible witnesses, and which they are freely invited to examine when and where they please. For my own part, I too much value the pursuit of truth, and the discovery of any new fact in Nature, to avoid inquiry because it appears to clash with prevailing opinions.” In this spirit he began his inquiry….

“Miss Florence Cook, with whom Crookes undertook his classical series of experiments, was a young girl of fifteen who was asserted to possess strong psychic powers, taking the rare shape of complete materialization. It would appear to have been a family characteristic, for her sister, Miss Kate Cook, was not less famous.

“There had been some squabble with an alleged exposure in which a Mr. Volckman had taken sides against Miss Cook, and in her desire for vindication she placed herself entirely under the protection of Mrs. Crookes, declaring that her husband might make any experiments upon her powers under his own conditions, and asking for no reward save that he should clear her character as a medium by giving his exact conclusions to the world.

“Fortunately, she was dealing with a man of unswerving intellectual honesty. We have had experience in these latter days of mediums giving themselves up in the same unreserved way to scientific investigation and being betrayed by the investigators, who had not the moral courage to admit those results which would have entailed their own public acceptance of the spiritual interpretation.

“Professor Crookes published a full account of his methods in the QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF SCIENCE, of which he was then editor.

“In his house at Mornington Road a small study opened into the chemical laboratory, a door with a curtain separating the two rooms. Miss Cook lay entranced upon a couch in the inner room. In the outer in subdued light sat Crookes, with such other observers as he invited. At the end of a period which varied from twenty minutes to an hour the materialized figure was built up from the ectoplasm of the medium. The existence of this substance and its method of production were unknown at that date, but subsequent research has thrown much light upon it, an account of which has been embodied in the chapter on ectoplasm.

“The actual effect was that the curtain was opened, and there emerged into the laboratory a female who was usually as different from the medium as two people could be. This apparition, who could move, talk, and act in all ways as an independent entity, is known by the name which she herself claimed as her own, “Katie King.”

“The natural explanation of the skeptic is that the two women were really the same woman, and that Katie was a clever impersonation of Florence. The objector could strengthen his case by the observation made not only by Crookes but by Miss Marryat and others, that there were times when Katie was very like Florence.

“Herein lies one of the mysteries of materialization which call for careful consideration rather than sneers. The author, sitting with Miss Besinnet, the famous American medium, has remarked the same thing, the psychic faces beginning when the power was weak by resembling those of the medium, and later becoming utterly unlike.

“Some speculators have imagined that the etheric form of the medium, her spiritual body, has been liberated by the trance, and is the basis upon which the other manifesting entities build up their own simulacra. However that may be, the fact has to be admitted; and it is paralleled by Direct Voice phenomena, where the voice often resembles that of the medium at first and then takes an entirely different tone, or divides into two voices speaking at the same time.

“However, the student has certainly the right to claim that Florence Cook and Katie King was the same individual until convincing evidence is laid before him that this is impossible. Such evidence Professor Crookes is very careful to give.

“The points of difference which he observed between Miss Cook and Katie are thus described:

“Katie’s height varies; in my house I have seen her six inches taller than Miss Cook. Last night, with bare feet and not tip-toeing, she was four and a half inches taller than Miss Cook. Katie’s neck was bare last night; the skin was perfectly smooth both to touch and sight, whilst on Miss Cook’s neck is a large blister, which under similar circumstances is distinctly visible and rough to the touch. Katie’s ears are unpierced, whilst Miss Cook habitually wears ear-rings. Katie’s complexion is very fair, while that of Miss Cook is very dark. Katie’s fingers are much longer than Miss Cook’s, and her face is also larger. In manners and ways of expression there are also many decided differences.

“In a later contribution, he adds:

“Having seen so much of Katie lately, when she has been illuminated by the electric light, I am enabled to add to the points of difference between her and her medium which I mentioned in a former article. I have the most absolute certainty that Miss Cook and Katie are two separate individuals so far as their bodies are concerned. Several little marks on Miss Cook’s face are absent on Katie’s. Miss Cook’s hair is so dark a brown as almost to appear black; a lock of Katie’s, which is now before me, and which she allowed me to cut from her luxuriant tresses, having first traced it up to the scalp and satisfied myself that it actually grew there, is a rich golden auburn.

“On one evening I timed Katie’s pulse. It beat steadily at 75, whilst Miss Cook’s pulse a little time after was going at its usual rate of 90. On applying my ear to Katie’s chest, I could hear a heart beating rhythmically inside, and pulsating even more steadily than did Miss Cook’s heart when she allowed me to try a similar experiment after the séance. Tested in the same way, Katie’s lungs were found to be sounder than her medium’s, for at the time I tried my experiment Miss Cook was under medical treatment for a severe cough.

“Crookes took forty-four photographs of Katie King by the aid of electric light. Writing in THE SPIRITUALIST (1874, p. 270), he describes the methods he adopted:

“During the week before Katie took her departure, she gave séances at my house almost nightly, to enable me to photograph her by artificial light. Five complete sets of photographic apparatus were accordingly fitted up for the purpose, consisting of five cameras, one of the whole-plate size, one half-plate, one quarter-plate, and two binocular stereoscopic cameras, which were all brought to bear upon Katie at the same time on each occasion on which she stood for her portrait. Five sensitizing and fixing baths were used, and plenty of plates were cleaned ready for use in advance, so that there might be no hitch or delay during the photographing operations, which were performed by me, aided by one assistant.

“My library was used as a dark cabinet. It has folding doors opening into the laboratory; one of these doors was taken off its hinges, and a curtain suspended in its place to enable Katie to pass in and out easily. Those of our friends who were present were seated in the laboratory facing the curtain, and the cameras were placed a little behind them, ready to photograph Katie when she came outside, and to photograph anything also inside the cabinet, whenever the curtain was withdrawn for the purpose.

“Each evening there were three or four exposures of plates in the five cameras, giving at least fifteen separate pictures at each séance; some of these were spoilt in the developing, and some in regulating the amount of light. Altogether I have forty-four negatives, some inferior, some indifferent, and some excellent.

“Some of these photographs are in the author’s possession, and surely there is no more wonderful impression upon any plate than that which shows Crookes at the height of his manhood, with this angel-for such in truth she was-leaning upon his arm. The word “angel” may seem an exaggeration, but when an other-world spirit submits herself to the discomforts of temporary and artificial existence in order to convey the lesson of survival to a material and worldly generation, there is no more fitting term.

“Some controversy has arisen as to whether Crookes ever saw the medium and Katie at the same moment. Crookes says in the course of his report that he frequently followed Katie into the cabinet, “and have sometimes seen her and her medium together, but most generally I have found nobody but the entranced medium lying on the floor, Katie and her white robes having instantaneously disappeared.”

“Much more direct testimony, however, is given by Crookes in a letter to the BANNER OF LIGHT (U.S.A.), which is reproduced in THE SPIRITUALIST (London) of July 17, 1874, p. 29. He writes:

“In reply to your request, I beg to state that I saw Miss Cook and Katie together at the same moment, by the light of a phosphorus lamp, which was quite sufficient to enable me to see distinctly all I described. The human eye will naturally take in a wide angle, and thus the two figures were included in my field of vision at the same time, but the light being dim, and the two faces being several feet apart, I naturally turned the lamp and my eyes alternately from one to the other, when I desired to bring either Miss Cook’s or Katie’s face to that portion of my field of view where vision is most distinct. Since the occurrence here referred to took place, Katie and Miss Cook have been seen together by me and eight other persons, in my own house, illuminated by the full blaze of the electric light. On this occasion Miss Cook’s face was not visible, as her head had to be closely bound up in a thick shawl, but I specially satisfied myself that she was there. An attempt to throw the light direct on to her uncovered face, when entranced, was attended with serious consequences.

“The camera, too, emphasizes the points of difference between the medium and the form. He says:

“One of the most interesting of the pictures is one in which I am standing by the side of Katie; she has her bare foot upon a particular part of the floor. Afterwards I dressed Miss Cook like Katie, placed her and myself in exactly the same position, and we were photographed by the same cameras, placed exactly as in the other experiment, and illuminated by the same light. When these two pictures are placed over each other, the two photographs of me coincide exactly as regards stature, etc., but Katie is half a head taller than Miss Cook, and looks a big woman in comparison with her. In the breadth of her face, in many of the pictures, she differs essentially in size from her medium, and the photographs show several other points of difference.

“Crookes pays a high tribute to the medium, Florence Cook:

“The almost daily séances with which Miss Cook has lately favored me have proved a severe tax upon her strength, and I wish to make the most public acknowledgment of the obligations I am under to her for her readiness to assist me in my experiments.

“Every test that I have proposed she has at once agreed to submit to with the utmost willingness; she is open and straightforward in speech, and I have never seen anything approaching the slightest symptom of a wish to deceive. Indeed, I do not believe she could carry on a deception if she were to try, and if she did she would certainly be found out very quickly, for such a line of action is altogether foreign to her nature. And to imagine that an innocent schoolgirl of fifteen should be able to conceive and then successfully carry out for three years so gigantic an imposture as this, and in that time should submit to any test which might be imposed upon her, should bear the strictest scrutiny, should be willing to be searched at any time, either before or after a séance, and should meet with even better success in my own house than at that of her parents, knowing that she visited me with the express object of submitting to strict scientific tests-to imagine, I say, the Katie King of the last three years to be the result of imposture, does more violence to one’s reason and common sense than to believe her to be what she herself affirms.*

* “Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism”

“Granting that a temporary form was built up from the ectoplasm of Florence Cook, and that this form was then occupied and used by an independent being who called herself “Katie King,” we are still faced with the question, “Who was Katie King?” To this we can only give the answer which she gave herself, while admitting that we have no proof of it. She declared that she was the daughter of John King, who had long been known among Spiritualists as the presiding spirit at séances held for material phenomena. His personality is discussed later in the chapter upon the Eddy brothers and Mrs. Holmes, to which the reader is referred. Her earth name had been Morgan, and King was rather the general title of a certain class of spirits than an ordinary name. Her life had been spent two hundred years before, in the reign of Charles the Second, in the island of Jamaica. Whether this be true or not, she undoubtedly conformed to the part, and her general conversation was consistent with her account. One of the daughters of Professor Crookes wrote to the author and described her vivid recollection of tales of the Spanish Main told by this kindly spirit to the children of the family. She made herself beloved by all. Mrs. Crookes wrote:

“At a séance with Miss Cook in our own house when one of our sons was an infant of three weeks old, Katie King, a materialized spirit, expressed the liveliest interest in him and asked to be allowed to see the baby. The infant was accordingly brought into the séance room and placed in the arms of Katie, who, after holding him in the most natural way for a short time, smilingly gave him back again.

“Professor Crookes has left it on record that her beauty and charm were unique in his experience.

“The reader may reasonably think that the subdued light which has been alluded to goes far to vitiate the results by preventing exact observation. Professor Crookes has assured us, however, that as the series of séances proceeded toleration was established, and the figure was able to bear a far greater degree of light. This toleration had its limits, however, which were never passed by Professor Crookes, but which were tested to the full in a daring experiment described by Miss Florence Marryat (Mrs. Ross-Church). It should be stated that Professor Crookes was not present at this experience, nor did Miss Marryat ever claim that he was. She mentions, however, the name of Mr. Carter Hall as being one of the company present. Katie had very good-humoredly consented to testing what the effect would be if a full light were turned upon her image:

“She took up her station against the drawing-room wall, with her arms extended as if she were crucified. Then three gas-burners were turned on to their full extent in a room about sixteen feet square. The effect upon Katie King was marvelous. She looked like herself for the space of a second only; then she began gradually to melt away. I can compare the dematerialization of her form to nothing but a wax doll melting before a hot fire. First the features became blurred and indistinct; they seemed to run into each other. The eyes sunk in the sockets, the nose disappeared; the frontal bone fell in. Next the limbs appeared to give way under her, and she sank lower and lower on the carpet, like a crumbling edifice. At last there was nothing but her head left above the ground-then a heap of white drapery only, which disappeared with a whisk, as if a hand had pulled it after her–and we were left staring by the light of three gas-burners at the spot on which Katie King had stood.*

* “There Is No Death,” p. 143.

“Miss Marryat adds the interesting detail that at some of these séances Miss Cook’s hair was nailed to the ground, which did not in the least interfere with the subsequent emergence of Katie from the cabinet.

“The results obtained in his own home were honestly and fearlessly reported by Professor Crookes in his Journal, and caused the greatest possible commotion in the scientific world. A few of the larger spirits, men like Russel Wallace, Lord Rayleigh, the young and rising physicist William Barrett, Cromwell Varley, and others, had their former views confirmed, or were encouraged to advance upon a new path of knowledge. There was a fiercely intolerant party, however, headed by Carpenter the physiologist, who derided the matter and were ready to impute anything from lunacy to fraud to their illustrious colleague. Organized science carne badly out of the matter. In his published account Crookes gave the letters in which he asked Stokes, the secretary of the Royal Society, to come down and see these things with his own eyes. By his refusal to do so, Stokes placed himself in exactly the same position as those cardinals who would not look at the moons of Jupiter through Galileo’s telescope. Material science, when faced with a new problem, showed itself to be just as bigoted as mediaeval theology.

“Before quitting the subject of Katie King one should say a few words as to the future of the great medium from whom she had her physical being. Miss Cook became Mrs. Corner, but continued to exhibit her remarkable powers. The author is only aware of one occasion upon which the honesty of her mediumship was called in question, and that was when she was seized by Sir George Sitwell and accused of personating a spirit. The author is of opinion that a materializing medium should always be secured so that she cannot wander around-and this as a protection against herself. It is unlikely that she will move in deep trance, but in the half-trance condition there is nothing to prevent her unconsciously, or semi-consciously, or in obedience to suggestion from the expectations of the circle, wandering out of the cabinet into the room. It is a reflection of our own ignorance that a lifetime of proof should be clouded by a single episode of this nature. It is worthy of remark, however, that upon this occasion the observers agreed that the figure was white, whereas when Mrs. Corner was seized no white was to be seen. An experienced investigator would probably have concluded that this was not a materialization, but a transfiguration, which means that the ectoplasm, being insufficient to build up a complete figure, has been used to drape the medium so that she herself may carry the simulacrum. Commenting upon such cases, the great German investigator, Dr. Schrenck Notzing, says*:

* “Phenomena of Materialization” (English Translation)

This (a photograph) is interesting as throwing a light on the genesis of the so-called transfiguration, I.E. the medium takes upon herself the part of the spirit, endeavoring to dramatize the character of the person in question by clothing herself in the materialized fabrics. This transition stage is found in nearly all materialization mediums. The literature of the subject records a large number of attempts at exposure of mediums thus impersonating “spirits,” e.g. that of the medium Bastian by the Crown Prince Rudolph, that of Crookes’s medium, Miss Cook, that of Madame d’Esperance, etc. In all these cases the medium was seized, but the fabrics used for masking immediately disappeared, and were not afterwards found.

It would appear, then, that the true reproach in such cases lies with the negligent sitters rather than with the unconscious medium.”

I realize that this excerpt from The History of Spiritualism was long and arduous but if you elect to read The Medium and the Scientist you will be confronted with every piece of evidence that fraud took place but you will not read any of what was quoted above.

Much love,


The Years after Seminary

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

The Years after Seminary

I believe I was pulled not pushed from the church.

The difference is significant.

If I was pushed then the argument that I am hurt and bitter and therefore vulnerable to dangerous spiritual influences may, I repeat “may” have some validity. But if I was pulled then I left of my own accord to pursue an interest that I feel is compelling enough to make me challenge everything I believe to be true. If I was pulled than the choice was mine and there is no basis for hurt or resentment. In any case, the choice was mine and the responsibility is mine also.

You might wonder why I felt the need to make this point. A common conservative argument is that bitterness is a root that opens one’s life to occult influence. This argument has been directed at me and I felt some need to address it.

I won’t say that my life was without pain, disappointment, or hurt but I will say that I learned enough from Christ to know how to let go.

Hurt is like acid. It only damages the one who holds onto it.
Jesus commands that we forgive everyone not because they deserve it but because we do.
In this regard I have lived my life in obedience to His command.
I have forgiven everyone and I walk in a constant state of love and goodwill toward my fellow human being. This, I believe, is authentic Christianity, the essence of Christianity.

The years following my graduation from seminary were not easy.

I searched for work within the church and could not find it.
I traveled to meet with district leadership and was told that “sadly it’s not what you know it’s who you know that matters and you simply don’t have the right connections.”
My young wife who worked hard and sacrificed much to help me through seminary wept next to me in the car as we drove home from Virginia that day.
I forgave them.

I went on several pastoral interviews.
Once I was told, “According to your resume we thought you would be taller. We really need a tall man in our pulpit.”
I am 5’4” tall. My resume never alluded to my height. They assumed I was tall because I was well educated and well educated people must be tall. I decided it was for the best that I wasn’t awarded the pastorate.
I forgave them.

Noticing my struggle to find work some in my church felt the need to challenge my faith.
According to them if I had sufficient faith I would find the position I was seeking.
I forgave them.

In the banking industry where I did find work and began to earn my living, I was held up twice at gunpoint. Thankfully no one was injured in either robbery but those robberies did motivate me to make some career changes.
Those that put a gun to my head – I forgave them.

I went back to school and back to work on a second masters, this one in education. At the time there really weren’t well established master level degrees in Human Resources or corporate training but that was what I wanted to do so I worked with what was available at the time.

Along the way I enjoyed two youth pastorates both within the United Methodist tradition.
My youth pastorates were part-time but wonderful.
There is nothing like youth ministry.
Teenagers are a sensitive, tender, and lovely group that responds well to love and attention.

One of my kids had her lovely face kicked in by her alcoholic father, an elder in our church.
Several of my kids had addictions issues.
A few met with unwanted pregnancies.
These challenges are the challenges of any youth group of any denomination or religious persuasion.
I loved them.
I loved their families and working with them gave me some of the best memories of my life.

When I returned to the Assemblies of God after my youth pastorates I began to teach adults and I taught the same group for over twelve years. We engaged in exegetical studies that no one else was doing and to the best of my knowledge the depth of our study has never been matched.
We spent three years doing a comparative study of the gospel accounts and three years studying the Book of Acts.

I devoted every Saturday to preparation and I spent many weekday evenings in research.
I delivered my lessons every Sunday morning all told for more than fifteen years.

It was during this study that I noticed discrepancies between what I saw in the scripture and what was believed or taught in the church and it was during this time that my soul was awakened to Wicca and to Spiritualism.

My belief system today is comprised of three cords that wrap together to form one strong piece of rope: Christianity of a Universalist and somewhat liberal variety, Wicca, and Spiritualism.

I have the equivalent of a seminary education in Wicca and I am in the process of completing the Morris Pratt training in Spiritualism.

A few years ago, I resolved to go to Lily Dale as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Within one year of that decision my annual family vacation in Ocean City Maryland was canceled.
I took that week and instead of making my annual pilgrimage to the beach, I went to Lily Dale.

In my next entry, I will tell you about Lily Dale.

Much love dear ones,


Eight of Swords

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Eight of Swords


Swords are associated with air.

Swords generally but not always relate to our thoughts or intellect.

The card pictured is from the Rider Waite Smith but I prefer the Hansson Roberts.
I’m using the Rider deck here because it is in the public domain.

In the Hanson Roberts the girl is lovely. She is young, her hair is long, and she is wearing a beautiful red gown. She seems to have everything going for her, youth, beauty, and wealth, and yet she is in despair.

No matter which deck you look at the woman depicted in the cards is bound, blindfolded, and surrounded by swords. One gets the feeling that she is all but helpless, perhaps the unfortunate victim of a kidnapping but there are no kidnappers pictured. In other cards where there is conflict with others the “others” are clearly present. In this card she is alone.

She seems far removed from where she wants to be.

The sky above her is overcast and threatening as if a storm is on the way. Her situation appears at face value to be quite unpleasant.

The eight of swords certainly speaks to us of imprisonment but of what kind?
Swords indicate thoughts, intellectual processes, or paradigms.

Is it not true that we are most oppressed by our own minds, that our thoughts often dictate our reality? Whenever I see this card in a reading I see the person it represents as bound, maybe a prisoner but not by some external agency but by her own mind.

We limit ourselves in so many ways.
Our thoughts and beliefs can trap or immobilize us just as surely as the woman in the card.

How has your mind, your thought process limited you?

If you look closely at this card you will see that her captors, whoever they may be, are nowhere to be seen. She appears to be bound but if you were so bound how hard would you find it to get free? The point I am making, and that I believe the card makes, is that nothing is keeping you bound but your own limiting thoughts.

Did you notice the blindfold?

She can’t see how easy it would be for her to make an escape.
Her mind is not giving her the option.
She is confused and disoriented not by her circumstances but by the fact that she cannot see.

What could you do to expand your mind, create a broader vision for your life, and see yourself and your circumstances for what they really are?

When we feel oppressed are we indeed or are we replaying a pattern of learned helplessness?

How much personal power does each of us really have?

Above all the woman in the card is ignorant, not stupid, ignorant, unaware of true reality, unaware of the fact that she could make her escape as easily as walking forward.

Commenting on this card Rachel Pollack said, “Recognition of ignorance is the first step to true knowledge.”

Change the way you think and you will change your life.

Much love,


My Homemade Spirit Boards

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

My Homemade Spirit Boards

Ouija, more properly called Spirit Boards, are an art form to me.
When something evokes an emotional response inside of you, when you look at it and you feel something, I think that is art.

When I look at a spirit board I feel awe and wonder.
I marvel at the possibilities it represents and the history that it has.

I want to be a part of this legacy and so for that reason I have started to create my own boards.
As I create new ones I will add them to this page so please, if you are interested in my creations, stop back often and have a look.

I am experimenting with every manner of technique and materials I can think of not necessarily to find the best because I’ not sure there is a “best,” but simply to see what effect a particular technique or material might have.

If I were an artist, this would be my art form.

I hope you enjoy my work.

This board I call my Mary Board.
I wanted a board with incredibly positive energy.
I couldn’t think of any image more powerfully positive than the image of the Blessed Mother.
It was my hope that I could encourage Her spirit to be in the board and guide its use.

1 Mary Board

This is a close up of the planchette I made for the Mary Board.
I love it.
It is very Celtic in flavor.
The rose, the cross, and the thorns speak to me of The Christ.
Placed together you have Mother and Son.
I like the set.
I hope you do too.

2 Mary Planchette

This one was originally made from a rough cut of wood but as I tried to finish it, that is apply lacquer, the rough edges never seemed to smooth out no matter how many coats of lacquer I applied so I ended up cutting off the natural rough edges.

Another interesting feature of this board is that I used homemade iron transfers to get the images onto the wood. This method left some rough edges that had to be lightly sanded but even after light sanding they still protruded too much inhibiting the smooth flow of the planchette so I had to apply extra layers of lacquer to get the smooth finish every usable board needs.

3 my small

There is no board like the original Ouija and I very much wanted to use the original design but on wood. This is my attempt to do so with some personal flourishes. For instance I changed the font from the traditional Captain Howdy to an earthier woodsy look. I also added vines and leaves growing out of the letter “G” of the word Goodbye to give the board a more organic, living effect.

4 Mine1

This one is obviously Victorian, almost Steampunk.
My only regret is that I did not mount it on wood.
I do prefer wooden boards.
I think the elements – air, earth, fire, water should be as much a part of every board as possible so I tend to avoid artificial materials.

5 mine2

I experimented with stamps and with aging techniques on this one.
I “aged” the wood with black tea and rusty water.
I don’t think the picture does it justice.
It really looks like a well-aged piece of wood and the stamps allow for some great flexibility in design.

6 11 09 13 001


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


You probably know him as the creator of Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson but did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a physician? He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1876 to 1881 and completed his doctorate in 1885.

Did you know that he was one of the most outspoken champions of Spiritualism of his or any other age?

In 1926, he authored “The History of Spiritualism.” The text is required reading for all Morris Pratt students. I should know I am a Morris Pratt student.

sir author

In the preface of his history he said, “Many of us regard (Spiritualism) as the most important (movement) in the history of the world since the Christ episode.”

I think it is cute how he refers to the birth of Christianity as “the Christ episode.”

Spiritualism has as its mission the demonstration of the continuity of life. In other words, Spiritualists are trying to prove that we never die and that we can communicate with those who have crossed over.

I don’t believe in missionary zeal, and I don’t believe in sectarianism or dogmatism but I do believe in making evidence available when you have some very good news to share and Spiritualism is very good news. Conan Doyle thought so too and he dedicated the later part of his life to research, touring, and speaking on the good news of Modern Spiritualism.

Houdini and Conan Doyle were best friends.
Houdini made it his mission in the later years of his life to discredit his best friend, mediums, and Modern Spiritualism.

Houdini always claimed that he meant no harm to Modern Spiritualism, only to fraudulent mediums but he betrayed the trust that Conan Doyle had in him, he planted evidence of fraud on otherwise honest mediums, and he waged a campaign of propaganda against every medium he encountered. In short Houdini was more interested in the publicity he could generate by creating a scandal than he was in honest inquiry. But this piece isn’t about Houdini. It is about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a champion of Modern Spiritualism and committed friend to even one who sought to discredit his Spiritualist mission.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He crossed to the other side on July 7, 1930.

His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, of Irish decent, was born in England.
His mother, Mary Foley, was also Irish.

Doyle began writing short stories while he was working his way through the many years of education required to practice medicine.

From Wikipedia 
Accessed Saturday, November 02, 2013

“Following the death of his wife Louisa in 1906, the death of his son Kingsley just before the end of World War I, and the deaths of his brother Innes, his two brothers-in-law (one of whom was E. W. Hornung, creator of the literary character Raffles) and his two nephews shortly after the war, Doyle sank into depression. He found solace supporting spiritualism and its attempts to find proof of existence beyond the grave.”

From: PBS
Accessed Saturday, November 02, 2013

“When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902, there was some speculation that the honor was bestowed to recognize his achievement in The Hound of the Baskervilles. But the more seemly prelude was his pamphlet, The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct, in which he sought to; explain the British position in the Boer War.

“Today it is surely Sherlock Holmes for which Conan Doyle is best known. Holmes was an immensely popular creation during Conan Doyle’s lifetime, also — too popular for the author, who wanted his name associated more closely with his other works.

“Conan Doyle wrote several volumes about the Great War between 1914 and 1920; from 1918 on, he became a self-styled authority and promoter of spiritualism, not only writing about it but also opening a spiritualist bookshop and museum.

“In 1922, Conan Doyle was one of the most public advocates of the spirit world….As for his literary output; Conan Doyle preferred his historical romances, with their chivalric adventures and careful historical detail, to his detective fiction….

“Conan Doyle, trained in medicine and with a sharp eye for scientific and logical plausibility, also wrote a number of science fiction stories. The character Professor Challenger of 1912’s The Lost World, about living remnants of the prehistoric world, did not match Holmes in popularity, but he did inspire a large following himself, and he appeared again in other science fiction adventures, including The Poison Belt in 1913, and a collection of stories published posthumously in 1952.

“Upon his death in 1930, Conan Doyle left his family with the conviction that he would surely communicate with them from the spirit world which he held so dear.”

He gave us Sherlock Holmes and he gave us evidence of life after death.

Some of his most memorable quotes include:

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

“I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

“Our ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery

“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”
—Sherlock Holmes
― Arthur Conan Doyle

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

Much love,