Michael Tymn was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book, The Articulate Dead. For those of you not familiar with Michael, he is vice-president of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc., and editor of the Academy’s quarterly magazine, The Searchlight. So, he certainly knows his stuff!
The main focus of The Articulate Dead is presenting the best evidence for post mortem survival gathered during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Michael presents this information in a clear, easy to read style that made his book an absolute pleasure to read.
Upon reading the various accounts of the scientific investigations of such notable mediums as D.D. Home, Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard, one cannot help but look at the situation today with some disappointment. But that is another topic entirely….
Beginning with the early pioneers of psychical research, the book moves on to a description of how Spiritualism hit France and Allan Kardec’s involvement. We are then treated to an account of how celebrated scientist Sir William Crookes validated D.D. Home’s mediumship.
The seance on April 12m 1871, Crookes recorded, was the most exciting and satisfactory he had experienced, probably because two other mediums were present and added to Home’s psychic force. At first, they had very rough manifestations, chairs knocking about, a table floating above the floor and then being slammed down, loud and unpleasant noises, what Crookes termed “phenomena of a low class”. It was well known by this time that harmony among the sitters was necessary for good results and this harmony could often be achieved by singing. Thus, they began singing in hopes of improving conditions.
After the group song, Home sung solo, what Crookes referred to as “a sacred piece,” after which one of the other mediums “was carried right up, floated across the table and dropped with a crash of pictures and ornaments at the other end of the room”. When Home sang again, both of the other mediums were lifted up by the invisible spirits and placed on the table. Crookes surmised that the other two mediums brought low-class influences with them and Home’s singing drove them away, allowing his good ones to enter.
Sceptics have always labeled scientists as rather gullible and naive in their ability to detect fraud. This may very well be true in certain cases, but as Michael Tymn describes, strict precautions against fraud were by no means lacking:
When the table was levitating, he [CROOKES] would check Home’s legs and feet to be sure that they were not somehow involved in lifting the heavy table. On several occasions, he also measured the foot pounds of pressure on the table as it levitated. Unlike many mediums, Home did not insist upon darkness and so there was no problem in observing him while the phenomena was taking place.
An interesting footnote to Crooke’s investigations and the sceptics’ attitude is also mentioned – and it is just as relevant today as in the last century.
[Alfred Russel] Wallace defended Crookes and Home against attacks by other scientists who had concluded that Home was a magician. One of them, Sir David Brewster, sat with Home and saw a table levitate right in front of him, but still concluded that since there was no natural explanation for what he saw that Home had to be a magician.
James Randi eat your heart out!
Michael Tymn then continues to fascinate us with accounts of Patience Worth, Frederick Bligh Bond’s excavations of Glastonbury Abbey with the alleged help from spirit helpers and much more. While it is true to say that most of the information can already be found in the literature of the time, it is refreshing to have it all to hand in just one volume.
Michael Tymn brings the events of so long ago back in to modern day focus, and his efforts will delight readers interested in the details surrounding some of the most convincing evidence for life after death. As Michael himself says in his preface, his goal was to “resurrect some of the most interesting and credible personalities and cases in the annals of psychical research from the period 1850 to 1940, what might be called the ‘heyday’ of mediumship, or spirit communications.”
Michael Tymns book certainly lives up to this ambition, and will form a valuable part of any book collection on the history of life after death research.
Certainly, an articulate read!
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