Direct Voice Seance Phenomena
Photo from the Leslie Flint autobiography Voices in the Dark showing Flint being studied by Society for Psychical Research members using infrared telescopes and microphones.
Arthur Findlay (1883-1964) began the Foreword of Where Two Worlds Meet (1951) with the statement: "During the Second World War, Mr. John Campbell Sloan kindly gave his services from time to time, without charge, at the houses of different people, so that they and their friends might obtain the phenomenon known as the Direct Voice." This form of mediumship might be simply described as unseen people who've made the transition to another realm of existence being able to make themselves heard on Earth in the presence of a human medium.
Findlay reported that Glasgow, Scotland resident Miss Jean Logan Dearie was the seance attendee who took verbatim shorthand records of all that took place. Upon reading the documents she had sent him, he realized the manuscript afforded an opportunity for a valuable addition to the records of the seances he had published in his book On The Edge of the Etheric (1931). Nineteen records of seances were selected for Where Two Worlds Meet and these transcripts used actual names of participants.
In the introduction for the later book, Findlay commented:
There is another world, about and around us, interpenetrating this physical world, into which we pass at death. It has been described to me by those who have spoken to me from it, but only in language suited to our finite minds.
Findlay's explanatory notes about a May 1942 seance included the following passage.
There was no hallucination about what took place, what one heard all heard; in fact this has been proved at other séances, from time to time, by recording what was said on gramophone records or on the dictaphone.
On The Edge of the Etheric included Findlay's perspective of the recurring communicator or seance 'control' named 'Whitefeather': "Whitefeather is recognised at once by his voice, his personality and his speech . . . By the quaint way he has of putting things he can keep us laughing for minutes on end." Other communicators mentioned by Findlay include 'Greentree' and 'Gallacher.' 'Huxley' was heard on one occasion and is quoted with a statement about evolution being "the key to the Universe."
Findlay affirmed, ". . . we find that we are surrounded by an unseen multitude who, under certain conditions, can hold converse [SIC] with us from time to time."
Details of the seances chronicled in Findlay's books were reiterated in his autobiography Looking Back (1955). Similar to what is known about Direct Voice medium Leslie Flint, Mr. Sloan "sat like the others in the circle" as seance communicators conversed with those gathered. Findlay reminded that other phenomena were continuous during the seances. Two trumpets (voice transmission enhancing devices with a simple conical structure) would be noticed to "fly around the room in the dark without knocking into each other, but frequently touching the ceiling and beating on it, the movement being at a great speed, without wires, attachments or any visible contrivances." At times the trumpets would "gently touch, stroke or caress the sitters, and at other times hit Sloan on the head without hurting him, or beat in time on the floor." Fingers were felt "to be passed through the hair of the sitters and over their faces." Lights were observed "to dance about the room" and "any part of the body" would be "touched on request."
Reading Where Two Worlds Meet, one will find consistency in the philosophy conveyed by the seance communicators. This consistency is also reflected in many of the audio recordings that were made at the Leslie Flint sittings. These recordings were the subject of two previous blog posts (1 and 2). The recordings at http://leslieflint.com corroborate Findlay's books and may be heard free of charge.
Taking into consideration the sequence of events chronicled in my published nonfiction case study Testament, I noticed an obvious parallel between the nickname 'Mickey'—whom Flint referred to as "my Cockney boy control"—and the nickname 'Michael' that was used for the being perceived to be the predominant manifesting entity by the family of the Centrahoma 'talking poltergeist' case. In my own life, 'Michael' found ways to demonstrate a guiding Intelligence not restricted by usual notions of 'time' and 'locality.'
Many of the recordings of 'Mickey' presented at the Leslie Flint Educational Trust archive reveal an astute and sympathetic commentator showing great knowledge of the human condition while speaking with a boyish modulation; however, in some recordings of 'Mickey' there may be heard a boisterous Cockney bloke who seems like a different person. Describing a demonstration for a large audience in his autobiography Voices in the Dark: My Life as a Medium (1971), Flint offered an anecdote that suggests Mickey's identity may not have been fully comprehended.
As usual Mickey spoke first, but this time, unusually, he told the huge audience that Mickey was only the name by which he was known in the world of spirit and to his medium. He said that in his life on earth he was called John Whitehead and he had sold newspapers outside Camden Town underground station until he was run over and killed by a lorry when he was ten years old. "I'm a lot happier over here than I ever was on your side," he assured the crowded hall, "you could say kicking the bucket was the best thing I ever did!" This caused a general laugh and tension throughout the hall relaxed noticeably.
Similar to Direct Voice case studies, in some of those cases referred to categorically as that of the 'talking poltergeist,' a variety of unseen communicators were heard. In The Bell Witch of Tennessee (1930) by Harriet Parks Miller, a quotation found in Miller's report of one incident showed an understanding in relation to the nature of the "invisible agency of tangible action" that wasn't so precisely articulated in other accounts.
"You know, as I've said before, I am anything and everything, here, there and everywhere. Just now I'm the spirit of an early emigrant . . ."
Other books chronicling Direct Voice phenomena include The Voices: A Sequel to "Glimpses of the Next State" (1913) by W. Usborne Moore and The Dead Have Never Died (1917) by Edward C. Randall.
In addition to the various modes of seance phenomena, so-called 'platform work' of clairaudient/clairvoyant mediums has also been a successful form of presentation to prove the continuity of human life. Two previous blog posts offer links to videotaped demonstrations of medium Doris Stokes in 1986 and Gordon Higginson in 1990.
Previous post in my Spiritualism series of articles: "Willy Reichel's First Seance with 'Materialization Medium' Mr. C. V. Miller in 1903":