Leonora Piper

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

Leonora Piper


At the turn of the 19th century and early into the 20th century Lenora was considered by many of the leading researchers of the time, including William James, to be the finest medium of her day.

It is possible that it was Leonora that Dr. James was thinking of when he said, “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.” In other words, I don’t need to prove that every medium is legitimate, only that one medium is and that one medium was Leonora Piper.

By today’s standards Ms. Piper would certainly be remarkable but a casual research into the careers of our generation’s two leading mediums: Anne Gehman and Allison DuBois will show that both of these contemporary mediums have been subjected to scrutiny far more controlled than Ms. Piper and with far more success.

The age of the medium is far from past and today’s medium, especially those certified by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, are reaching a higher standard of excellence than ever before. But this article isn’t about today’s medium, it is about arguably the finest medium of the Victorian age – Leonora Piper.

From Wikipedia accessed Monday, March 24, 2014

“Leonora Piper (née Symonds; 27 June 1857 – 3 June 1950)…was the subject of intense interest and investigation by American and British psychic research associations during the early 20th century, most notably William James and the Society for Psychical Research.

“Piper grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire where, according to her parents, she first displayed psychic abilities as a child. At the age of 22 she married shopkeeper William Piper of Boston and settled in the city’s Beacon Hill area.

“After the birth of her first child, Alta, she sought relief from recurring pain caused by a childhood accident. Upon visiting an elderly blind man who claimed he could contact spirits that could aid in healing, she said she heard voices that resulted in her ability to deliver a message by automatic writing to a local judge who claimed the words came from his recently deceased son.”

The most convincing “proof” of Ms. Piper’s mediumship came from what is now known as the “Cross-Correspondences.”

Researchers conducted a study of three mediums in 1906 including Alice Holland then operating in the UK, Margaret Verrall, and Leonora Piper. Operating in vastly different geographical regions and isolated from each other they each brought through messages from Frederic W. H. Myers himself a paranormal researcher prior to his death and well known to those conducting the research on the three mediums. Each medium brought through the same or complimentary information from Myers at times in a language known to Myers but unknown to the three mediums.


“On September 19, 1903, Alice MacDonald Fleming, the sister of author Rudyard Kipling, began receiving automatic writing messages purportedly coming from Frederic W. H. Myers, a Cambridge University classics scholar as well as a pioneering psychical researcher, who had died in 1901. Fleming, the wife of a British army officer, was living in India at the time. Because members of her family disapproved of her “dabbling in the occult,” she used the pseudonym, “Mrs. Holland.” The initial messages were short and apparently an attempt by Myers to convince her of his identity. He told her that much of what he would write through her is not meant for her, that she was to be the reporter. She was asked by Myers to send the messages to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London, an organization which Myers had helped organize in 1882.

In a subsequent message, Myers told Fleming not to worry about being made a fool or dupe. “It’s a form of restless vanity to fear that your hand is imposing upon yourself, as it were,” Myers communicated to her. To the SPR (through Fleming), he communicated: “…if it were possible for the soul to die back into earth life again I should die from sheer yearning to reach you – to tell you that all that we imagined is not half wonderful enough for the truth…If I could only reach you – if I could only tell you – I long for power and all that comes to me is an infinite yearning – an infinite pain. Does any of this reach you – reaching anyone – or am I only wailing as the wind wails – wordless and unheeded?”

On January 5, 1904, Myers wrote that he was in a “bound to earth condition,” but it was largely of a voluntary choice. “I am, as it were, actuated by the missionary spirit; and the great longing to speak to the souls in prison – still in the prison of flesh – leads me to ‘absent me from felicity awhile.’”

On another occasion, Myers wrote that “to believe that the mere act of death enables a spirit to understand the whole mystery of death is as absurd as to imagine that the act of birth enables an infant to understand the whole mystery of life.” He added that he was still groping…surmising…conjecturing.

Fleming also received messages from Edmund Gurney and Roden Noel, both unknown to her. A message from Noel said to ask “A.W.” what the date May 26, 1894 meant to him, and if he could not remember, to ask Nora. Not knowing what to make of the message, Fleming sent the message to the SPR in London, where it was recognized that Noel was referring to Noel’s good friends, Dr. A. W. Verrall and Dr. Eleanor (Nora) Sidgwick. The date was the day of Noel’s death.

On January 17, 1904, Fleming recorded another message purportedly coming from Myers for the SPR. He gave the biblical reference I Cor. xvi, 12. He told the SPR that he tried to get the entire wording through in Greek but could not get Fleming’s hand to form Greek characters, and so he gave only the reference. On the very same day, thousands of miles away in England, Mrs. Margaret Verrall, an automatic writing medium who was a member of the SPR, also received the same biblical reference from Myers by means of automatic writing. This biblical passage, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,” was the wording inscribed in Greek over the gateway of Selwyn College, Cambridge, under which Myers frequently passed.

This was apparently the first of what came to be known as the “cross-correspondences” – similar messages through different mediums around the world or fragmentary messages sent through different mediums which in themselves had no meaning until the SPR linked them up and made a complete message out of them. Fleming (“Mrs. Holland”) in India, Leonora Piper in the United States, Verrall and Winifred Coombe-Tenant (“Mrs. Willett”), both in England, were the four principal mediums used by Myers in delivering these cross-correspondences. As Myers was a classical scholar, a number of the messages had to do with the classics.

While complex and very difficult to read, these cross-correspondences are often looked upon as the best evidence of survival of individual consciousness after death. “The intention was obvious – namely to show that one mind was acting on all these mediums,” physicist and psychical researcher Sir Oliver Lodge explained, “each separate portion of the message being so obscure that there could be no telepathy or any other means of communication between them.”

Obviously all I have done in this brief essay is introduce you to Ms. Piper. I would encourage you to study her life on your own. Yes you will find skeptical arguments but the evidence in her favor is overwhelming to any who will examine it with a mind not clouded by ideological bigotry.

Much love,

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