A Materialisation Séance with Alec Harris
By Isa Gray
"It is all very well for you, who have probably never seen any spiritual manifestations, to talk as you do; but if you had seen what I have witnessed you would hold a different opinion.” W. M. THACKERAY.
Ina, picked me up in her car and we drove off to a suburb named Bramley. I remember remarking to her on the way that it was interesting that so many mediums were of Celtic descent and that most of their names seemed to be Welsh, Scots or Irish.
The Anglo-Saxon races do not seem to be as gifted in psychic matters. We were both full of enthusiasm for this great venture which was about to take place, and excited that in a few hours' time we would have learnt to understand so much of the great mystery of death.
It was a crisp, cold night. As we walked up the garden path to the house, I felt a slight touch of fear when looking at the stark trees traced against the dark sky. We rang the bell and Mr Harris opened the door for us. He gave us a friendly greeting, asking us to step into the drawing-room where some other sitters were already waiting. He was stocky and strong, with a fine face and a head of thick wavy hair. Mrs Harris chatted to us in the cosy drawing-room. I noticed her pretty face and kindly way. My immediate impression was of admiration for their obvious sincerity. I also felt happy to be there with Ina for my first experience, as she is a very well informed Spiritualist.
When all the sitters had arrived, Mrs Harris told us some facts about materialisation: of how it is a very rare form of phenomenon and how the figures build up out of ectoplasm, drawn mainly from the medium but also from the sitters. She explained that it was much easier for our guides to materialise, but if anyone had a loved one come through, they must respond warmly and not be afraid; that one never knows who will come through, and that we must not long for any particular person, as it made too many crossed thoughts if each sitter was anxious to contact some special person. She added that this circle was protected from the other side, and that no one evil had ever come through. We all felt duly reassured, yet I think that most of us found it hard not to be a little tense with the knowledge that for the first time we would witness discarnate personalities who had transcended the grave. It is strange for anyone living in our world of calendar dates, suddenly to find that the other world is timeless. I did not realise what ineffable joy was to come to me in the next few hours. I hope that I have made it clear that materialised spirits are not ghosts, wraiths, spectres or phantoms. Walking along the passage on our way to the little sanctuary, we passed Mr Harris in black pyjamas with the coat loose and open.
We took our seats in two rows, seven of us in the front row and the rest of them sitting close behind. There were infra-red lights above, but otherwise the room was in complete darkness. There was an electric fan, which was later turned on when the room began to get warm, as the window was closed and the door was locked. The temperature was distinctly chilly for the first part of the séance, as if a slight wind was blowing in. There were two black curtains, which met in the middle and one of these, on the right of us, fitted across the corner of the room, where Mr Harris seated himself in this corner, not many feet away from us, behind the curtain. This corner formed a 'cabinet', so that the ectoplasm could be concentrated better in this enclosed space.
Ina sat on the extreme right of the front row, and next to her was a Portuguese gentleman, whose mother I was told was a well-known medium in Lisbon. I sat next to the Portuguese, and on my left was Hyman Klein. Next to him was Mrs Harris, and beyond her a couple whom we did not know, who had been to these séances before. Hyman had known the Harrises for a long time and often attended their séances
Mrs Harris said a prayer then we all said the Lord's Prayer, and holding hands started to sing, beginning with a hymn. By his heavy and regular breathing, we could tell that Mr Harris had gone into trance. A little time passed and then we sang an old-fashioned love song, which Mrs Harris told us was the favourite of the guide who usually appeared first. She said that his name was Rohan or Rowan. Presently we heard a man's voice speaking to Mr Harris from behind the curtain and he answered, and then the curtains parted and Rowan came in. I was momentarily astonished and my heart thumped with excitement; and even after all I had read, and knowing of the medium's complete integrity, I could hardly believe that I was really looking at a spirit. He was an elderly man with a neat beard, and had much dignity of bearing. He seemed to give off a quality of steadfastness and benevolence. His feet were bare. As for his long white robe, I can only describe it as like the 'dazzling raiment' of the Bible.
He said in a rather low voice: "Good evening, friends". Mrs Harris greeted him as an old friend, and we all replied: "Good evening." He spoke with paternal warmth that won my heart. He came forward a step or two and told us not to be afraid, and asked us each in turn to put our hands in his. He felt to me like an ordinary earth person, only I had the impression that his hands felt a little smoother and slightly cooler. He had round his head a veil of ectoplasm, which was snow-white like the rest of his clothing. Being dressed in a long white robe made him look some-what Biblical.
He said: "Look", and a little bit of ectoplasm floated across the room like a tiny, fleecy cloud, eventually to disperse. One is surprised at the solidity of a spirit. He went back once to the medium, telling us it was for him to be 'recharged', and he also held the curtain open once so that we could see the medium 'asleep' in his chair. He said a few more words to us, ending with: "God bless you all", then taking his leave of us departed behind the curtain so we did not see him dematerialise. We held hands and sang again, and not long after this appeared a most attractive young man who is called Jolkim. Apparently he is half British, half Russian, and lost his life in World War I.
He conversed with Mrs Harris and Hyman. Jolkim is so light-hearted and unpretentious that everyone finds him a delightful person. He had on a headdress of the 'Lawrence of Arabia' type, and one could see his features quite clearly. His tall handsome presence and youth made the ladies feel drawn to him. His eyes are gentle and humorous and his curved lips often smile: his speech is precise and well phrased. He has a slight foreign tilt to his eyes, and his features are regular. He asked Ina and me to hold his hands in turn so that we could feel his friendly strong clasp. He then said to me: "May I kiss you?" I naturally consented, and a soft cheek was placed against mine. He did the same for Ina. He told the Portuguese gentleman that he was a medium, and chatted a bit to various people. He concluded by singing a most beautiful duet with Mrs Harris. It was so moving to hear a spirit and an earth person sing together, and his low bass notes blended with her higher voice in perfect harmony.
After the song was over, he remarked to Mrs Harris that the curtain was stiff for them to open. She replied: "I keep telling Alex to fix that curtain!" which made us all smile at the wife-like remark. He then opened one of the curtains and we could half see him as he dematerialised. It was so strange to see his head bend forward and then he slipped downwards until there was nothing left of him.
By now I was enthusiastically beginning to regain my equilibrium. I realised that most of us greatly over-estimate our powers of understanding, which is why one is so surprised to witness this great reality for the first time. We sang again, and then after a transitory pause there were three loud thumps from behind the curtain. I had heard from other people who had been to these séances that a little dwarf called Ginger came and usually did this to herald his arrival. There appeared through the parting of the two curtains a tiny figure who looked about three feet in height but probably was a few inches more. I gulped with surprise at his bizarre appearance.
He chatted away in a Cockney accent and skipped about in front of us. He had a happy, animated face, and reminded me of some jester in a Velasquez painting. He, Ginger, was going to ask the Portuguese to go up to him, but noticed that he had gone into trance, so he asked me to talk to him. I stood up and he took my two hands in his. I am very small indeed but he seemed to come up to my waist. He asked me to put my hand on his heart, which I did, and his heart was beating strongly. His cheery Cockney personality pervaded the room. He then suggested that I tweak his nose, which I did rather timidly, and he interjected with: "Give it a harder tweak from side to side." He had a very flat nose, and told us that his nose was flat, as someone had thrown a tomato at him, but unfortunately it was still in the tin. We had a good chuckle at this. I could not see his red hair due to his ectoplasmic headdress.
Ina then got up and spoke to him and held his hands. He usually prefaces his acquaintance with new women by asking them their names and then replying what a nice name it is. As Ina is extremely tall they made a strange pair. He also asked her to feel his heartbeat. She put both hands round his chest, and told me afterwards that he had a deformed chest and was also a hunchback. Poor little Ginger could not have had such a wonderful life when on our earth, but with his courage and humour I am sure was loved by many. I told him that my husband was also called Ginger, and he said: " 'E must 'ave red 'air too."
He made us all roar with laughter, saying: "I don't know what you all see in Jolkim: it must be 'is legs!" continuing with: "The trouble wiv me is I'm not properly 'evoluted'," which made us all yell with mirth at his use of the word 'evolved'. As he said this - and we could see his little mouth articulating the last words—he dematerialised only a few feet away from us. It was so quick and unexpected that several of us gasped. I was just recovering from this amazing and humorous experience and we were starting to sing, when another surprising event took place. A man appeared, as usual draped in white, and told us all to feel the ectoplasm of his sleeves. It felt fine and smooth yet slightly stiff, and rather dry and firm to the touch.
He said: "I am the healing scientist. Healing comes from our world. I will show you." He was a grave, quiet amiable man with a rather high voice. Then, out of his chest shone a sort of oval of the most wonderful refulgent white light. It had radiations of a slightly green or blue tint. Words are inadequate in describing what we saw. We were astonished when he held up his arms and the same light sparked off the end of his fingers. He then said that he would test us all for healing powers, by our putting our hands in turn in his. When I gave my hands to him, the white light in his chest did not expand much, but when the Portuguese did so, a large ball of light appeared at the contact, and he said to him: "You are a healer: go out into the world and heal."
It was literally quite electrifying to see this magnificent sight. The light from his chest rose and fluctuated at the touch of the various sitters.
We all sat with heads craned forward to watch this incredible sight. When everyone had been to him, he told us that all people had a little healing in them. Our friend Lettie Klein, wife of Hyman, was sitting in the second row, and he remarked to her that her back was giving her trouble, which was true. He requested Lettie to come to him and bend over. This she did, and it was quite amazing to see his hands go up and down her back, with a white sparkling light like fireworks coming off the tips of his fingers.
He bade us all goodnight courteously and went behind the curtains to dematerialise. After this a figure walked in, and a lady in the second row whispered: "Is it a man or a woman?" The figure did not reply, but came forward with a touching dignity, and it was evident that she had heard, for she tipped her head back for the red lights to shine on her face. It was then that we saw that she was a nun, and to our astonishment we saw that she had on spectacles of ectoplasm. She approached Ina, and said in a quiet, restrained manner: "I am Sister Monica of the Sisters of Saint Clare." Ina when a girl had been to a convent, and latterly had been told by a clairvoyant medium that she had 'seen' a nun with her. Sister Monica had the usual quiet bearing of a nun and the gentle softness of voice. She took Ina's hands and talked softly to her for a few minutes. I did not try and listen, feeling that it might be personal. When she had finished speaking, she turned to us all and said: "God bless you all," and made her slow exit.
We held hands and sung some more songs and I noticed that when we sang songs with a lilt, like 'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean' or 'Jingle Bells', the sound waves seemed to help the phenomena. The next to come was a fine-looking Red Indian, with a black band round his forehead and a black feather stuck in it. He said: "I am Pathfinder," but nothing more, and only stayed a few moments. I would gladly have seen more of him, with his long thick black plaits and copper-coloured skin. Then arrived a weird looking man who seemed to be very serious. He opened with: "I am an Indian but not a Red Indian", with the accent on the 'not'. He seemed to be a Hindu with a turban on his head. He talked to a woman who was studying oriental languages. Before departing he intrigued us all no end by holding his arms in front of him and what appeared to be long black gloves up to his elbows came and went.
Shortly after he had gone, there were some psychic lights up in the curtains, and then some ectoplasm, which showed as quite a long vertical shape of filmy substance against the curtains. There materialised a man who seemed to form from ectoplasmic 'clouds', slowly descending. I could not gather who he was, but he had a high white cap as a chef wears with a narrow black band round it. This hat made him look even taller than he was. He came only briefly, and spoke to the married couple in our front row. Hyman also had a short visit from his guide Shalom.
After this we sang some more songs and wondered if any others would come, as there was rather a long pause. Some minutes later, a very tall man draped in white appeared and, unlike the others, stood silently at the curtains. He had a very bright psychic light from his waist, shining up into his face, that unearthly light which is so hard to describe. He stood opposite me, and Mrs Harris said: "He is for you, Mrs Gray, they always stand opposite the person they want." I went up to him, somewhat in awe of his silent presence, and felt two friendly hands grasp mine and draw me nearer to him. He said: "I always call you the small one or the little one." I was very taken aback, as I felt it so extraordinary that this stranger knew me so well. He was so tall that the bright light ended just before his eyes, so I could not check their colour, but I could see his long classical features as clearly as if it were daylight. Being extremely small, I was told by Ina afterwards that my head was at an angle of 90 degrees to be able to see his face. He told me that he was often with me and that I would probably never 'see' him, but that he hoped that I would sometimes feel his presence. Never have I experienced such comfort and goodness as emanated from this man.
He said that he was replacing a man who had tried to materialise, but who was unable to do so as conditions were difficult on their side, partly due to an emotional spirit woman crying. I thanked him and said: "Please could you tell me your name?" He paused for a moment and I could see that he did not want to give it, but also did not want to hurt me. He smiled and said: "What is there in a name after all?" Then he added: "Now you give me a name." Looking up at his beautiful face and his noble presence, and feeling such tremendous comfort from his friendly handclasp, and remembering the days of chivalry, I said: "I shall always remember you as the White Knight."
He laughed spontaneously and replied: "That's a lovely name; I do like that, thank you." This highly evolved spirit guide's touch seemed to charge me with vitality. It pleased me the way he accented the word 'lovely' and squeezed my hands on saying it.
He then let go of my hands, so I knew that he was going to dematerialise. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for coming to me, and I returned to my chair. He appeared to be neither young nor old. I can still recollect this very cultured English voice, just as if we had known each other on earth, in fact more so.
Presently came the slightly lisping voice of Christopher - I had been told that he was a schoolmaster when on earth—speaking in trance voice through Mr Harris, saying: "This is Christopher, Mrs Harris. I am sorry, but although we have a lot of scientists over here working on it, they cannot keep the power going, but we will give you some transfiguration."
A few moments later, the two black curtains parted. What was so incredible to us was that they stayed open on their own, draped like two cinema curtains, yet with no support. We saw Mr Harris 'asleep' in his chair. From the region of his chest, where his pyjamas were open, there came a long 'rod' of ectoplasm, thin-looking and strongly white. It turned into a thick, blobby shape about five feet away from him. Little bits would break off and float about then return to the main piece. This lasted for some minutes then vanished. Shortly after, in the stillness that followed, we saw a very bright psychic light on the medium's face etching his features sharply. In this light we saw a woman's face superimposed on his. The impression gained was that it was similar to when one takes two photographs on one exposure.
Then came two men's faces, one after the other, but none of us recognised them. Immediately after this came Christopher's voice saying: "Goodnight everybody, that is all."
The curtains dropped on their own, Mrs Harris said the closing prayer; someone unlocked the door and put on the hall light. We left the sanctuary dark for Mr Harris to come round in his own time, and we all trooped into the drawing-room At first our amazement was too great for anyone to speak, and we stood staring at each other. Then it burst out like a flood with everyone talking loudly. We sat down and refreshed ourselves with tea, sandwiches and biscuits. Mrs Harris produced two portraits in oils painted by her husband. They were of Jolkim and Ginger. It struck me as so strange that he had never seen them with his eyes but only through his mind. The medium dressed and entered after about twenty minutes and had a cup of tea and a cigarette. I felt like asking him questions, but refrained, as he looked tired.
I thought of the thousands of people who must have pestered him. I also thought that if anyone had any doubts as to the genuineness of the phenomena, their doubts must have been dispelled, seeing that we saw the medium sitting in his chair in trance and the spirit also present. Only that day he had had a letter from some Swedish scientists who wanted to investigate his great and strange powers.
Before leaving, I asked Mrs Harris if the White Knight had ever been before. She replied in the negative, saying that she felt he was a very highly evolved spirit. I felt so grateful to the spirits for appearing with their irrefutable evidence, and radiating loving kindness. We bade these two friendly people good-bye and thanked them for the wonderful evening and told them that we felt our lives could never be the same after this great experience. I felt that my entire sense of perspective had to be altered. It certainly broadens one's horizons. One cannot be lonely in the hours of darkness when one knows that kindly spirits are with one. Whilst driving home, with the cold night air biting into us, Ina and I both felt a feeling of intense elation. We talked over each incident in detail with great happiness and joy. When one has met these beings from the higher side of life, one cannot fear the life, which is to come, on the other side.