History of Channeling
Learn about the history of channeling, from antiquity to the 19th Century
An obvious place to begin our journey into the long and colorful history of channeling is ancient Greece.
The natural features of the country appealed powerfully to the quality of the Greek imagination. Mountains and valleys, mysterious caves and fissures, vapors and springs of volcanic origin, and groves of trees that were dedicated to the gods.
Dedicated by immemorial belief, there were places where the visible spirits of the dead might be evoked. In the month of March, when the spring blossoms broke through the earth and snowed the trees with white, the Festival of the Flowers was held at Athens, also the Commemoration of the Dead, when their spirits were thought to rise from their graves and wander about the familiar streets, striving to enter the dwellings of man and temples of the gods but shut out there from by the magic of branches of whitethorn, or by knotted ropes and pitch.
Of great antiquity and eminently of Greek character and meaning were the Oracles. For centuries they ministered to that longing deeply implanted in human nature the longing to know the future, and to invoke divine foresight and aid in the direction of human affairs, from those of a private citizen to the multitudinous needs of a great state. Divination and prophecy were therefore the great features of the oracles. This was inspired by various means, by intoxicating fumes natural or artificial, by the drinking of mineral springs, by signs and tokens, by dreams. The most famous Oracles were those at Delphi, Dodona, Epidaurus, and that of Trophonius, but others of renown were scattered over the country.
Perhaps one of the earliest was that of Aesculapius son of Apollo, and called the Healer, the Dream-sender because his healing was given through the medium of dreams that came upon the applicant while sleeping in the temple-courts, the famous temple-sleep. This temple, situated at Epidaurus, was surrounded by sacred groves and whole companies of sick persons lingered there in search of lost health and enlightenment through divine dreams. Famous beyond all was that of Apollo, the Delphian oracle on the Southern Slopes of Parnassus where kings and princes, heroes and slaves of all countries journeyed to ask the questions as to the future and what it might hold for them. The temple was built above a volcanic chasm, amid a wildness of nature which suggested the presence of the unseen powers. Here the priestess, the Pythia, so named after the serpent Pytho whom Apollo slew, was seated on a tripod placed above the gaseous vapors rising from the chasm.
Intoxicated to a state of frenzy, her mouth foaming, wild torrents of words fell from her lips, and these were shaped into coherence and meaning by the attendant priests and given to the waiting questioner standing before the altar crowned with laurel, the symbol of sleep and dreams and sacred to Apollo. Priests and priestesses were also crowned with these leaves, and they were burned as incense; before the Pythias chamber hung a falling screen of laurel branches while at the festival of the Septerion every ninth year a bower of laurel was erected in the forecourt of the temple. One writer has left strange details such as the rule that the sacred fire within the temple must only be fed with fir-wood; and, though a woman was chosen as the medium of the prophetic utterance yet no woman might question the oracle.
The Oracle of the Pelasgic Zeus at Dodona, the oldest of all, answered by signs rather than inspired speech, the rustling of the leaves in the sacred groves, by means of lots and the falling of water, by the wind-moved clanging of brazen-bowls, two hollow columns standing side by side. The three priestesses, Peliades, meaning doves, were given titles signifying the Diviner of the future; the friend of man, Virtue: the virgin-ruler of man, Chastity. For two thousand years this oracle existed, from the time when it was consulted by those heroes of the ancient myths, struggling in the toils of Fate. Hercules, Achilles, Ulysses and Aeneas, down to the latest vestiges of Greek nationality.
The Oracle of Trophonius was also of great renown. Here there were numerous caverns filled with misty vapors and troubled by the noise of hidden waters far beneath. In this mysterious gloom the supplicants slept sometimes for nights and days, coming forth in a somnambulic state from which they were aroused and questioned by the attendant priests.
Frightful visions were generally recounted, accompanied by a terrible melancholy, so that it passed into a proverb regarding a sorrowful man "He has been in the cave of Trophonius." Thus it may be seen that magic in the sense of secret revelations, miraculous cures and prophetic gifts, of abnormal powers, had always existed for the Greeks, the oracles were a purely natural human way of communing with their gods upon earth.
The oracles of Ancient Egypt were as numerous as those of Greece. It must have been due to foreign influence that the oracle, that played so important a part in the Greek world at this time, was also thoroughly established on the banks of the Nile. Herodotus knew of no fewer than seven gods in Egypt who spake by oracles. Of these, the most reliable was considered to give an intimation of their intentions by means of remarkable events. These are carefully observed by the Egyptians, who write down what follows upon these prodigies. They also consider that the fate of a person is fixed by the day of his birth, for every day belongs to a special god.
The oracle of Jupiter Ammon at the oasis of that name and the same deity at Thebes existed from the twentieth to the twenty-second Dynasty. He was consulted not only concerning the fate of empires but upon such trifling matters as the identification of a thief. In all serious matters, however, it was sought to ascertain his views. Those about to make their wills sought his oracle, and judgments were ratified by his word.
In an early state of society, the prophet and shaman were probably one and the same, as is still the case among primitive peoples. It is difficult to say whether the offices of the prophet are more truly religious or magical. He is usually a priest, but the ability to look into the future and read its portents can scarcely be called a religious attribute. In many instances prophecy is merely utterances in the ecstatic condition. We know that the pythonesses attached to, the oracles of ancient Greece uttered prophetic words under the influences of natural gases or drugs; and when the medicine-men of most savage tribes attempt to peer into the future, they usually attain a condition of ecstasy by taking some drug, the action of which is well known to them. But this was not always the case; the shaman often summoned a spirit to his aid to discover what portents and truths lie in the future; but this cannot be called prophecy. Neither is divination prophecy in the true sense of the term, as artificial aids are employed, and it is merely by the appearance of certain objects that the augur can pretend to predict future events.
We often find prophecy disassociated from the ecstatic condition, as for example among the prophets of Israel, who occupied themselves in great measure with the calm statement of future political events, or those priests of the Maya Indians of Central America known as Chilan Balam, who at stated intervals in the year made certain statements regarding the period which lay immediately before them. Is prophecy then to be regarded as a direct utterance of the deity, taking man as his mouthpiece, or the statement of one who seeks inspiration from the fountain of wisdom? Technically, both are true of prophecy, for we find it stated in scripture that when the deity desired to communicate with man he chose certain persons as his mouthpieces. Again individuals (often the same as those chosen by God) applied to the deity for inspiration in critical moments. Prophecy then may be the utterances of God by the medium of the practically unconscious shaman or seer, or the inspired utterance of that person after inspiration has been sought from the deity.
In ancient Assyria the prophetic class were called nabu, meaning "to call" or "announce,"—a name probably adopted from that of the god, Na-bi-u, the speaker or proclaimer of destiny, the tablets of which he inscribed. Among the ancient Hebrews the prophet was called nabhiaf a borrowed title probably adopted from the Canaanites. That is not to say, however, that the Hebrew nabhiim were indebted to the surrounding peoples for their prophetic system, which appears to have been of a much loftier type than that of the Canaanite peoples.
Prophets appear to have swarmed in Palestine in biblical times, and we are told that four hundred prophets of Baal sat at Jezebel's table. The fact that they were prophets of this deity would almost go to prove that they were also priests. We find that the most celebrated prophets of Israel belonged to the northern portion of that country, which was more subject to the influence of the Canaanites. Later, distinct prophetic societies were formed,—the chief reason for whose existence appears to have been the preservation of nationality; and this class appears to have absorbed the older castes of seers and magicians, and to some extent to have taken over their offices.
Some of the later prophets,— Micah, for example—appear to have regarded some of these lesser seers as mere diviners, who were in reality not unlike the prophets of Baal. With Amos may be said to have commenced a new school of prophecy—the canonical prophets, who were also authors and historians, and who disclaimed all connection with mere professional prophets.
The general idea in Hebrew Palestine was that Yahweh, or God, was in the closest possible touch with the prophets, and that he would do nothing without revealing it to them. The greatest importance was given to their utterances,, which more than once determined the fate of the nation. Indeed no people has lent so close an ear to the utterance of their prophetic class as did the Jews of old times.
In ancient Greece, the prophetic class were generally found attached to the oracles, and in Rome were represented by the augurs. In Egypt the priests of Ra at Memphis acted as prophets, as, perhaps, did those of Hekt. Among the ancient Celts and Teutons, prophecy was frequent, the prophetic agent usually placing him or herself in the ecstatic condition.
The Druids were famous practitioners of the prophetic art, and some of their utterances may be still extant in the so-called Prophecies of Merlin.
In America, as has been stated, prophetic utterance took practically the same forms as in Europe and Asia. Captain Jonathan Carver, an early traveler in North America, cites a peculiar instance where the seers of a certain tribe stated that a famine would be ended by assistance being sent from another tribe at a certain hour on the following day. At the very moment mentioned by them a canoe rounded a headland, bringing news of relief. A strange story was told in the Atlantic Monthly some years ago by a traveler among the Plains tribes, who stated that an Indian medicine-man had prophesied the coming of himself and his companions to his tribe two days before their arrival among them.
Among the greatest features of religious life were the mysteries held at periodic intervals in connection with the different deities, such as the Sautothracian, the Bacchic and most famous of all, the Eleusinian. Their origin is to be traced mostly to a pre-historic nature-worship and vegetation-magic. All these mysteries had three trials or baptisms by water, fire and air, and three specially sacred emblems, the phallus, egg and serpent, generative emblems sacred in all secret rites.
The Saraothracian centered round four mysterious deities, Axieros the mother, her children Axiocersos, male, Axiocersa, female, from whom sprang Casindos the originator of the universe. The festival probably symbolized the creation of the world, also the harvest and its growth. Connected with this was the worship of Cybele, goddess of the earth, of the cities and fields. Her priests, the Corybantes, dwelt in a cave where they held their ceremonies, including a wild and orgiastic weapon-dance, accompanied by the incessant shaking of heads and clanging of swords upon shields.
The cult of Bacchus was said by some to have been carried into Greece from Egypt by Melampus. He is the god of the vine and vegetation, and his mysteries typified the growth of the vine and the vintage; the winter sleep of all plant life and its renewal in spring. Women were his chief attendants, the Bacchantes, who, clashing cymbals and uttering wild cries in invocation of their god, became possessed by ungovernable fury and homicidal mania.
Greatest of all in their relation to Hellenic life were the Eleusinian Mysteries. These ware the paramount interest and function of the state religion exerting the widest, strongest influence on people of all classes.
The rites were secret and their details are practically unknown, but they undoubtedly symbolized the myth of Demeter, corn-goddess, and were held in spring and September. Prior to initiation a long period of purification and preparation was enforced, during which the higher meaning of the myth was inculcated, the original meaning having become exalted by the genius of the Greeks into an intimate allegory of the soul of man, its birth, life and death, its descent into Hades and subsequent release there from. After this there came the central point of the mysteries, the viewing of certain holy and secret symbols; next, a crowning with garlands, signifying the happiness which arises from friendship with the divine. The festival also embodied a scenic representation of the Story of Demeter; the rape of Persephone, the sorrow of the mother, her complaints before Zeus, the final reconciliation.
Women played a great part in this, the reason being that as they themselves "produce," so by sympathetic magic their influence was conveyed to the corn, as when crying aloud for rain they looked upward to the skies, then down to the earth with cries of "Conceive!" These priestesses were crowned with poppies and corn, symbolical attributes of the deity they implored. (See article Mysteries.)
Swedenborg, Emanuel (1688-1772)
One of the greatest mystics of all time and a giant of early channeled literature, Swedenborg was born in Stockholm, Sweden. His father was a professor of theology at Upsala, and afterwards Bishop of Scara, and in his time was charged with possessing heterodox opinions. Swedenborg completed his education at the university of Upsala in 1710, after which he visited England, Holland, France and Germany. Five years later he returned to his native town, and devoted much time to the study of natural science and engineering, editing a paper entitled Daedalus hyperboreus which dealt chiefly with mechanical inventions.
About 1716, Charles XII. appointed him to the Swedish Board of Mines. He appears at this time to have had many activities. He published various mathematical and mechanical works, and even took part in the siege of Friederickshall in an engineering capacity. Originally known as Swedberg, he was elevated to the-rank of the nobility by Queen Ulrica and changed his name to Swedenborg. Sitting in the House of Nobles, his political utterances had great weight, but his tendencies were distinctly democratic. He busied himself privately in scientific gropings for the explanation of the universe, and published at least two works dealing with the origin of things which are of no great account, unless as foreshadowing many scientific facts and ventures of the future. Thus his theories regarding light, cosmic atoms, geology and physics, were distinctly in advance of his time, and had they been suitably disseminated could not but have influenced scientific Europe. He even sketched a flying-machine, and felt confident that although it was unsuitable to aerial navigation, if men of science applied themselves to the problem, it would speedily be solved.
It was in 1734 that he published his Prodomus Philosophic Ratiocin-antrio de Infinite which treats of the relation of the finite to the infinite and of the soul to the body. In this work he seeks to establish a definite connection between the two as a means of overcoming the difficulty of their relationship. The spiritual and the divine appear to him as the supreme study of man. He ransacked the countries of Europe in quest of the most eminent teachers and the best books dealing with anatomy, for he considered that in that science lay the germ of the knowledge of soul and spirit. Through his anatomical studies he anticipated certain modern views dealing with the functions of the brain, which are most remarkable.
About the age of fifty-five a profound change overtook the character of Swedenborg. Up to this time he had been a scientist, legislator, and man of affairs; but now his enquiries into the region of spiritual things were to divorce him entirely from practical matters. His introduction into the spiritual world, his illumination, was commenced by dreams and extraordinary visions. He heard wonderful conversations and felt impelled to found a new church. He says that the eyes of his spirit were so opened that he could see heavens and hells, and converse with angels and spirits: but all his doctrines relating to the New Church came directly from God alone, while he was reading the gospels. He claimed that God revealed Himself to him and told him that He had chosen him to unveil the spiritual sense of the whole scriptures to man. From that moment worldly knowledge was eschewed by Swedenborg and he worked for spiritual ends alone. He resigned his several appointments and retired upon half pay. Refreshing his knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, he commenced his great works on the interpretation of the scriptures.
After the year 1747 he lived in Sweden, Holland and London, in which city he died on the 29th of March 1772. He was buried in the Swedish Church in Prince's Square, in the parish of St. George's in the East, and in April, 1908 his bones were removed, at the request of the Swedish government, to Stockholm. There can be no question as to the intrinsic honesty of Swedenborg's mind and character. He was neither presumptuous nor overbearing as regards his doctrines, but gentle and reasonable. A man of few wants, his life was simplicity itself—his food consisting for the most part of bread, milk and coffee. He was in the habit of lying in a trance for days together, and day and night had no distinctions for him. His mighty wrestlings with evil spirits at times so terrified his servants, that they would seek the most distant part of the house in refuge. But again he would converse with benignant angels in broad daylight.
We are badly hampered regarding first-hand evidence of his spiritual life and adventures—-most of our knowledge being gleaned from other than original sources. So far from attempting to found a new church, or otherwise tamper or interfere with existing religious systems, Swedenborg was of the opinion that the members of all churches could belong to his New Church in a spiritual sense.
His works may be divided into: expository volumes, notably The Apocalypse Revealed, The Apocalypse Explained, and Arcana Celesiia; books of spiritual philosophy, such as Intercourse between the Soul and the Body Divine Providence, and Divine Love and Wisdom; books dealing with the hierarchy of supernatural spheres such as Heaven and Hell and The Last Judgment; and those which are purely doctrinal, such as The New Jerusalem, The True Christian Religion, and Canons of the New Church. Of these his Divine Love and Wisdom is the volume which most succinctly presents his entire religious systems.
Andrew Jackson Davis
Known as the " Poughkeepsie Seer" from his residence in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was a prophet, clairvoyant, and mystic philosopher, who commenced his mission to the world about 1844, some time before the Rochester Rappings had inaugurated the movement known as " modern spiritualism." In 1847 he published a volume of trance discourses, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and A Voice to Mankind. In the same year he issued the first number of the Univerccelum, a periodical devoted to clairvoyance and trance phenomena generally, which continued till 1849.
Not until 1850, however, did Davis and his followers identify themselves with the spiritualists. In his Revelations the Poughkeepsie Seer propounds his Harmonial Philosophy, afterwards to be elaborated in many volumes. His mission, revealed to him by Galen and Swedenborg, was the prophesying of a new dispensation, preceded by a social revolution. He was associated, throughout his career, with many prominent spiritualists.
Early American Spiritualism
What is generally regarded as the birth of modern spiritualism took place in America in 1848. In that year an outbreak of rapping occurred in the home of the Fox family, at Hydesville, in Arcadia, Wayne County, N.Y.
The household comprised John Fox, his wife, and their two young daughters, Margaretta and Kate, aged fifteen and twelve years respectively, .and the house itself was a small wooden erection.
On the 3ist March, 1848, Mrs. Fox summoned her neighbors to hear the knockings, which had disturbed the family for a few days past. On being questioned the raps manifested signs of intelligence, and it was finally elicited that the disturbing influence was the spirit of a peddler, done to death by a former resident of the house at Hydesville for the sake of his money.
It was afterwards said that in April of the same year the Foxes, while digging in their cellar at the instigation of the spirits, had discovered therein fragments of hair, teeth, and bones, supposed to be those of a human being, but the statement was not properly verified, and the evidence for the murder was but small.
The neighbors of the Fox family, however, were deeply impressed by the " revelations," and, by way of a test, questioned the spirits on such matters as the ages of their acquaintances, questions which were-answered, apparently, with some correctness. Soon afterwards Margaretta Fox visited her married sister, Mrs. Fish, at Rochester, New York, where the knockings broke out as vigorously as they had done at Hydesville.
Her sister Catherine visited some friends at Auburn, and here, too, the rappings were heard. Many persons found themselves possessed of mediumistic powers, and the manifestations spread like an epidemic, till in a few years they were witnessed in most of the eastern states. Numerous circles were formed by private individuals, and professional mediums became ever more abundant. Mrs. Fox and her three daughters continued to hold the place of honor in the spiritualistic world, and gave exhibitions in many large towns.
In 1850, while they were at Buffalo, some professors of the Buffalo University showed that the raps could be produced by the medium's joints, and shortly afterwards Mrs. Norman Culver, a relative by marriage of the Fox family, declared that Margaretta Fox had shown her how the rappings were obtained by means of the joints. She also alleged that Catherine Fox had told her that in a séance at Rochester where the medium's ankles were held to prevent fraud, a Dutch servant maid had rapped in the cellar on a signal from the medium. This latter statement was hotly denied by the spiritualists, but no refutation was attempted with regard to the other allegations. Many mediums confessed that they had resorted to trickery, but the tide of popular favor in America held to the actuality of the manifestations. These, as time went on, became more varied and complex. Table-turning and tilting in part replaced the simpler phenomena of raps. Playing on musical instruments by invisible hands, direct spirit writing, bell-ringing, levitation, and materialization of spirit hands, are some of the phenomena which were witnessed.
Allan Kardec (1804-1869)
The Father of Spiritism in France. His real name was Hypolyte Leon Denizard Rivail. Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits' Book), which expounded a new theory of human life and destiny, was published in 1856. In 1864 he published Le Livre des Mediums. In it the unpublished portion of the earlier scripts are said to have been liberally used. His next books were: The Gospel as Explained by Spirits, 1864, Heaven and Hell, 1865, Genesis, 1867, Experimental Spiritism and Spiritualist Philosophy.
Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886)
One of the best known of spiritualistic mediums, was born near Edinburgh in 1833. At the age of nine he was taken by his aunt to America, where in 1850 he became a convert to the new doctrine of spiritualism, and himself developed mediumistic powers. The next five years saw him occupied in giving séances in New York and elsewhere. In 1855 some of his friends subscribed a sum of money to send him to Europe.
In England his séances were attended by many notable people, and on the Continent also he was admitted into the highest society. Until 1859 he had subsisted on the bounty of his wealthy friends—for at no time did he take actual fees for his services—but in that year he married a Russian lady of noble birth, young, charming, and possessed of means. But on her death in 1862 his financial circumstances were altered again.
Four years later he was adopted by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Lyon, who made him large money gifts. In a few months, however, she tired of her adopted son and sued him in the law courts for the recovery of her " gifts." The charge of fraud was not proved, and many distinguished persons filed affidavits testifying to the actuality of Home's mediumistic powers, but the court was not satisfied that he had not influenced Mrs. Lyon, and judgment was given in her favor.
During all this time he had largely exercised his faculties as a medium, and in 1870-72 he held a series of sittings with Sir William Crookes In 1871 he married again, and for the second time his wife was a Russian lady of means. From 1872 onwards he lived mostly on the Continent, where he died in 1886, after a long and painful illness.
Home's mediumship presents many remarkable features. His séances were productive of both trance and physical phenomena, the latter including raps and table-tilting, levitation and elongation, materialization, the Fire-Ordeal, and practically every form of manifestation. Unlike other mediums, he was never detected in fraud, though his mediumship was spread over so many years, and his phenomena are among the best-attested in the records of spiritualism. But a more important factor in Home's success was his wonderful personality. Though of lowly birth, he early acquired an ease and charm of manner which fitted him for the good society wherein he was destined to move.
Artless and spontaneous and very affectionate, of pleasing manners and generous disposition, he won the hearts of all with whom he came in contact, and inspired in his sitters an emotional confidence which seems frequently to have over-ruled their judgment. Sir W. Crookes said of him that he was "one of the most lovable of men," whose perfect genuineness and uprightness were beyond suspicion. Whether a medium should ever be "beyond suspicion" to a scientific investigator is, of course, open to question, but the instance shows abundantly that even scientists are not immune from the influence of personal magnetism.
Rev. William Stainton Moses
One of the best known mediums connected with modern spiritualism, and probably, after Home, one of the most successful. He was born in 1839, at Donington, in Lincolnshire, the son of a schoolmaster, and was educated at Bedford Grammar School and Exeter College, Oxford. He made good progress at the University, but before his final examination his health broke down, and he was forced to go abroad. On his return he graduated Master of Arts, and in 1863 was ordained. From that time until 1870 he was a curate, first in the Isle of Man and afterwards in Dorsetshire. Again his health gave way, and he was obliged to abandon parish work, and seek a change of occupation. In 1870 he became tutor to the son of Dr. and Mrs. Stanhope Speer, with whom he resided, and who were henceforth among his staunchest supporters. A year or two later he was appointed English master in University College School, but increasing ill-health compelled him to retire" in 1899.
Towards the close of his life Mr. Moses suffered greatly from depression and kindred nervous disorders. His life as a clergyman and as a schoolmaster was beyond reproach, and his duties were discharged in a way that won respect alike for his intelligence and efficiency. His attention was first directed to spiritualism by the reading of R. Dale Owen's book on The Debatable Land, in 1872. He attended numerous séances, held by such mediums as Home, and soon afterwards he himself developed powerful mediumistic tendencies, and gave séances to the Speers and a few select friends.
The best accounts of his sittings are those written by Dr. and Mrs. Speers who kept separate records of the performances, and there are occasional accounts by others who were admitted to the circle. The phenomena were at first confined to raps and levitations of furniture, but gradually the manifestations became more varied and more pronounced. Toilet articles in Mr. Moses' room moved about of themselves and formed a cross on his bed, "apports" of perfume, pincushions, pearls, and other articles were brought by the spirits, and the medium himself would float about the room. Towards the end of the year " spirit lights " began to make their appearance, and seem to have created a profound impression on the sitters, though to judge from the descriptions they give, it would seem that Mr. Podmore's explanation of " bottles of phosphorus" is not far from the truth. Musical instruments also were heard playing in the air, besides raps, thuds, and other noises.
Perhaps his most important manifestations, however, were the automatic writings published under the title of Spirit Teachings. These purported to come from several spirits, "Imperator," "Rector," and others, and were mostly of a theological caste. Though of a high ethical tendency, they evinced a departure from Christianity, and suggested the religion of spiritualism as the only rational human creed. Unlike many automatic writings Mr. Moses' productions were not written in extravagantly high-flown language, nor were they altogether meaningless. But it must be remembered that he was a man of education and not likely to fail into such errors.
Other work done by him in connection with Spiritualism was his assistance in the founding of the British National Association of Spiritualism, and to serve on the Councils of the Psychological Society, and the Society for Psychical Research. He severed his connection with the latter body, however, because of the position they took up with regard to certain professional mediums. He was also president of the London Spiritual Alliance from 1884 onwards. Among his most popular works, besides Spirit Teachings, were Psychography, Spirit Identity, and The Higher Aspects of Spiritualism.
Why did Stainton Moses become a medium? There are-few questions more puzzling than this to the student of spiritual psychology. That professional mediums, and those private mediums who have anything to gain by their performances, should carry on deception from year to year, is comprehensible. But that a clergyman, who had hitherto led an uneventful and exemplary life, should deliberately and systematically practice a series of puerile tricks for the-purpose of mystifying his friends, is certainly not so. We are forced to admit, then, either that his observers were victims to hallucination and self-deception, or that the phenomena he produced were genuine manifestations from, the spirit-world.
A famous trance medium, whose discourses and writings present the best evidence extant for the actuality of spirit communication. A native of America, it was there that Mrs. Piper first became entranced, while consulting a professional clairvoyant in 1884.
Numerous spirits purported to control her in these early days—Mrs. Siddons, Longfellow, Bach, to mention only the most celebrated— but in 1885, when she came under the observation of the Society for Psychical Research, her principal control was Dr. Phinuit. From that time forward her trance utterances and writings—for after 1890 the communications were generally meriting—were carefully recorded and analyzed by members of the S.P.R., chiefly under the direction of Dr. Hodgson.
In 1889-90 Mrs. Piper visited this country and gave many séances, most of which seemed to display supernormal powers in the medium. It is impossible in a limited space to detail her remarkable trance impersonations.
On his death in 1905 Dr. Hodgson became one of her controls; Mr. Myers and Mr. Gurney also controlled her. But perhaps the most life-like and convincing impersonation or spirit-manifestation—whichever it may have been—was that of George Pelham, a young American author and a friend of Dr. Hodgson, who had died suddenly in 1892.
The information given by this control, his recognition of friends, and so on, were so accurate as to convince many that it was indeed " G.P." who spoke. From that time until 1896 the séances were especially productive, but in the latter year the medium underwent an operation. Phinuit, who often acted as a go-between for other controls and the sitter, now took his departure, and a band of other spirits, led by the "Imperator" of Stainton Moses, took control of Mrs. Piper's organism. The trance writings and utterances became fewer, and the spirits recommended that the number of sittings be cut down on account of the medium's health. Nevertheless some excellent tests were subsequently got with the Piper-Hodgson, Piper-Myers, and Piper-Gurney controls. Mrs. Piper was also one of those who took part in the " cross-correspondences " sittings held in 1906 and onwards, the other mediums being Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Verrall, Miss Verrall, Mrs. Holland, Mrs. Forbes, etc.
It seems clear that in Mrs. Piper's trance phenomena there are evidences of some supernormal faculty, at the best, of telepathy, though to the writer even that hypothesis seems to be inadequate. It would, for example, be a very complicated form of telepathy, that would enable some of these automatic " cross correspondence " scripts to be written, in which, say, two scripts contain allusions unintelligible to the writers, and requiring a key provided by a third script to make them plain. Such a case inevitably suggests that one and the same intelligence directs all three mediums. 'Mrs. Piper's impersonation of George Pelham, again, calls for some explanation, since it would seem that all the information could hardly have been culled from the sitter's minds.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
H.P. Blavatsky was born at Ekaterinoslav Russia, on the 31st of July, 1831. She was the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn, a member of a Mecklenburg family settled in Russia. She married, at the age of seventeen Nicephore Blavatsky, a Russian official in Caucasia, a man very much older than herself. Her married life was short duration as she separated from her husband in a few months.
The next year or so she occupied chiefly in traveling. Texas, Mexico, Canada, and India, were each in turn the scene of her wanderings, and she twice attempted to enter Tibet, on one occasion she managed to cross its frontier in disguise but lost her way, and after various adventures was found by a body of horseman and escorted homewards.
The period between 1848 and 1858, she described as the "veiled" time of her life, refusing to divulge anything that happened to her in those ten years, save stray allusions to a seven year stay in Little and Great Tibet, or in a Himalayan retreat.
In 1858 she returned to Russia, where she soon achieved distinction as a spiritualistic medium. Later on she went to the United States where she remained for six years, and became a naturalized citizen. She became prominent in spiritualistic circles in America about 1870. It was there that she founded her school of Theosophy. The idea occurred to her of combining her spiritualistic "control" with Buddhistic legends about Tibetan sages, and she professed to have direct "astral" communication with two Tibetan mahatmas.
With the aid of Col. Henry Olcott, she founded in New York, in 1875, the Theosophical Society with a threefold aim: (1) to form a universal brotherhood of man; (2) to study and make known the ancient religions, philosophies and sciences; (3) to investigate the laws of nature and develop the divine powers latent in man. In order to gain converts to Theosophy she was obliged to appear to perform miracles. This she did with a large measure of success, but her "methods" were on several occasions detected as fraudulent. Nevertheless her commanding personality secured for her a large following, and when she died, in 1891, she was head of a large body of believers in her teaching, numbering about 100,000 persons.
Back to Channeling Articles
Did You Enjoy This Article? Share It With Your Friends
Shop at the
New Age Store