Leaves from the Book of Memory (2)
by Ernest W. Oaten (former Editor of Two
Thousands of people will be familiar with the name of John Sloan, of Glasgow, a most versatile medium, who is the central figure of that fine book by J. Arthur Findlay, On the Edge of the Etheric.
I was privileged to have several sittings with John, and cherish happy memories of a direct conversation I had on one occasion with Dr Alfred Russell Wallace, O.M.
The trumpet was at the other end of a large circle of some twenty sitters when, immediately behind me, I heard a voice calling my name. It proved to be the famous Dr Alfred Russell Wallace.
He spoke to me concerning my public work, and when questioned showed a complete familiarity with correspondence which had passed between us when he lived at Wimborne.
The séance ended, we adjourned to another room while Mrs Sloan made some coffee. Some of the sitters had departed, but a few of us still remained and sat round the fire chatting.
When coffee was served William Jeffries remarked, “There is only one thing needed to complete a pleasant evening.”
“What’s that?” asked Galloway.
“A good cigar!”
In a few seconds Sloan was under control and the voice of ‘Whitey” said, “Just dim the lights and wait a minute or two, and I will see what I can do.”
In a few minutes there dropped at the feet of Mr Jeffries a cigar, with a glowing lighted end. ‘There you are, Jeffries,” said “Whitey”, and he picked it up, wiped the end with his handkerchief, put it in his mouth and began to puff.
“Where did you get it, Whitey?” said I. And the reply sent us into fits of laughter.
“A fellow was walking along George Square smoking it, and I took it from his mouth and brought it here. He is still looking for it.”
We were, of course, unable to verify that statement, though the house was only a few hundred yards from George Square. But I have often found myself smiling at the discomfiture of a man who lost a cigar from his mouth and looked for it in vain.
One of the most striking instances of the direct voice I ever heard was during a visit to Cecil Husk, the famous materialization medium.
Husk was confined to his bed for six years before his transition.
In the month of May 1920, I was one of the party who called to celebrate his 73rd birthday.
The party consisted of Mrs Etta Duffas, who had made herself responsible for soothing the last years of Mr Husk’s life, Mr David Gow, then editor of Light, Mr John Lewis, editor of the Psychic Gazette and myself.
We found Husk in bed, a shrunken form, with a full growth of grey beard. He lay restfully between the sheets, his shrunken cheeks testifying to the long suffering he had borne.
His twisted hand was stretched out towards us and there, upon his left wrist, could be seen the iron ring placed there during a séance with Dr Wyld. Despite his emaciated condition it was still impossible to
take off that ring.
He was weak and spent, but after a little stimulant he expressed his appreciation of the kindness of his many friends, and especially of Mrs Duffas.
He still preserved his clairvoyance and clairaudience, and told us of the presence of Dr. Bowie, of “Joey” and “John King,” who was delighted to think that the little party had thought of his medium on his birthday.
Cecil Husk, with a smile on his face, told us he saw Katie King, and she told him that she had met Sir William Crookes, who had expressed his ideas of the great purpose which Spiritualism had in the world.
Mr Husk said that he would presently have the pleasure of talking face to face with his spirit friends and looked forward to it with great pleasure. Then he partially raised himself in bed and burst into song.
He was, at one time, with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Though his voice had lost much of its timbre, his notes and phrasing still gave evidence of the trained artist.
He sung to us one verse of “Scots wha’hae wi’ Wallace bled!” and then sank exhausted on his pillow, and dropped off to sleep.
The little company proceeded to steal away. We passed down the stairs.
I was the last, some of them had reached the hall but I was still on the stairs when the heavy booming voice of “John King” rang through the house.
It was broad daylight. The voice was one of the most powerful I have ever heard, a heavy bass. He said, “I thank you very much for coming to see my faithful medium. Thank you, my friends,”
As soon as the voice was heard, I rushed back into the room. I was standing by his bedside before the voice ceased. Cecil Husk was lying peaceful, and sound asleep.
But that voice was so powerful that the taxi driver had heard it in the street.
A few months later Cecil Husk passed away.
The Swinging Picture
At theInternational Congress (1937), I hadthe pleasure of a sitting for the direct voice with Mrs McCallum.
One of the voices announced, “I am John Stoddard, of Falkirk.” I greeted him, and expressed my pleasure at meeting him again.
In a desire to test his identity, I asked, “Where did I meet you last?” “I communicated with you at a séance some months ago.”
“Yes,” I said, “but where did we last meet in the flesh?” to which the reply was, “I last met you at a District Council meeting at Falkirk.”
I believe this was the last time I actually met John Stoddard some sixteen years before. I questioned him by asking, “Do you remember a meeting at Swords Wynd?”
“Oh yes”, he replied. “I remember, there was a roar and a shout.”
I was unable to elicit any further details, but the incident stands out in my memory.
I was addressing a public meeting, with John Stoddard in the chair. It was a long room and the wall on my left contained three windows.
In the middle of my address I stretched out my left hand to emphasise a point, when one of the large pictures on the wall between windows some twenty feet away from me, began violently swaying to and fro.
Gradually the attention of the audience was drawn to the phenomenon. It was well above the heads of the people.
No-one was within a foot or eighteen inches of the picture, but it still continued to swing to and fro. The
audience rose and stared, and then broke into a roar, so much so that I had to pause.
Pointing to the wall, I calmly said, “Will you kindly stop that?” The picture stopped instantly, and the meeting continued.
I can only presume that there must have been someone sitting near the picture who was a powerful physical medium, and some humorist on the other side of life had taken advantage of his opportunity.
Materialised lights are peculiar structures, which are difficult to explain, and impossible to explain away.
Some years ago, while sitting with Walter Jeune, I devoted a lot of time to observing them, and as far as possible experimenting with them.
They constitute one of the few phases of phenomena for which darkness is an advantage to the observer.
I have seen them in good light, but they then appear as smoky discs, the external rim of which it is difficult to determine.
In some of my sittings with one medium, these lights have appeared six and seven at a time, varying from points of light the size of a pea, to luminous bodies four or five inches in diameter. When sitting with Mr Jeune, these had definite shape, and floated around in space.
They would take any position we asked them to. Now on the floor, now on the ceiling, now over a certain picture, and yet again on the window. They were decidedly under intelligent control.
There seemed to be no radiation of light from them. They were just self-luminous, for I noticed that when I asked them to be carried in front of a picture, there was insufficient light to discern the subject of the picture.
On several occasions I have asked that one of the lights be placed in my open hands. I closed my fingers round it, and I declare that it felt as solid as a cricket ball.
There was no sense either of heat or cold. They seemed the normal temperature of my hand. Closing my fingers around one, I would say, “I am not going to loose my hold,” when the light would gradually float away as though it dematerialised through my hand without losing its shape or luminosity. It is a most peculiar phenomenon.
Sir William Crookes’ description is an admirable one. He says, “I have seen a solid, self-luminous body, the size and about the shape of a turkey’s egg, float noiselessly about the room … not only is science unable to explain them, but unable to produce anything like them.”
I think the largest lights I have seen were with Mrs Duncan, in a series of séances held some years ago in Manchester.
Lights were produced at a number of successive séances, each one larger than the last, until on the final night the light was like a huge Chinese lantern, probably the size of a football.
It was full of opalescent colours, which seemed to be in continual motion, the colours rolling over and over upon one another in ever-changing patterns, and yet they appeared to emit no light. They were just self-luminous bodies.
An interesting series of experiments could be carried out with a suitable medium for the examination of these lights. They may be ectoplasmic, and yet there are comparatively few cases on record of ectoplasm being self-luminous.
As published by Zerdini on the Website: http://www.spiritualistchatroom.forumotion.com
article about Cecil Husk, above, reference is made to a ring on his wrist.
Here is the story of that ring:
One phenomenon that was often produced through Cecil's mediumship was the passing of matter through matter; one of the more unusual features of this activity was the placing of a ring around his wrist. Dr George Wyld provided an oval ring that was so designed that it was too small to be fitted on the wrist by passing it over the medium's hand. Wyld held Cecil's hand and then found the ring had been placed on Cecil's wrist; he subsequently produced a yet smaller ring of solid iron, and once again, while Cecil's left hand was held, the ring was found to have been placed on his wrist.
Cecil was examined by William Crookes, and three others, on 17 April 1885; after careful measurements were taken, it was noted that the internal circumference of the ring was 182.5mm, while the widest part of Cecil's hand, even after 'troughing', was 194mm. However, their conclusion was only that, 'we do not consider these conditions to be those best adapted', and 'we cannot infer that it is impossible that the ring should have come into the position in which we found it by known natural forces'. In sum, this particular exercise did not produce any definite judgement.
In old age, Cecil recorded how, when the feat was accomplished, he 'felt a shock go through my arm, and immediately felt the coldness of the ring encircling my wrist'. He went on to relate how 'I suppose I must have had my arm tugged and pulled at by hundreds of people...who tried to take the ring off, but there was no way of moving it. I am very much thinner now than I was, but it still cannot be taken off'. Cecil wore the ring until he died and indeed, according to Boddington, the ring, 'remained to his dying day a puzzle to conjurers and scientists alike'.
As published by Zerdini on the Website: http://www.spiritualistchatroom.forumotion.com