During this sťance Montague Keen took
a total of 13 photographs. However, photographs 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11 do not add
anything significant to the account and therefore have been omitted. The most
significant photographs - 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 13 - are included.
THIS IS an account of an unusual sťance at which a variety of movements and
touches, noises and voices were experienced in circumstances which appeared to
preclude fraud. I give in considerable detail the precautions taken before and
during the sťance and conclude, despite reasonable familiarity with the past
history of comparable demonstrations, that the effects were genuine.
The location and set-up [top]
General view of the mediumís chair and the "cabinet". Note the mains-fed
tape recorder in left hand corner, tended by the mediumís wife.
The sitting took place in the home of Denzil Fairbairn (DF) in Chalgrove,
Oxfordshire on Saturday October 25th, 2003. My attendance was consequent on a
personal introduction, supported by a good personal relationship of trust with
Mr Fairbairn, following his important evidential contribution to the Scole
Report (Keen et al, 1999). Together with my wife and myself, and DF, it was
attended by Paul, the sťance leader, David Thompson the medium, his wife Bianca
and about ten or twelve others.
The room was in a small block a few feet from DFís bungalow, and was entered via
an anteroom where all those attending were asked to leave behind loose
jewellery, handbags, watches, pens, wallets, money: indeed anything which could
be detached. For this purpose everyone was searched, although I was allowed to
bring in a notebook and pen, which was left under the chair of my immediate
neighbour, Paul, until he had an opportunity during the sťance to ask whether
permission would be granted by Spirit for me to use it during the sťance (it was
duly granted, but the pen could not easily be found in the darkness; so the idea
was abandoned). I searched David Thompson and ascertained there was nothing in
any trousers pocket or concealed on his singlet, over which he wore a cardigan
which I searched separately before he replaced it. I also checked his
trainer-type shoes to ascertain that the heels and soles were normal and
There was only one door into the sťance room, which had no windows, was
perfectly rectangular except for a recess at one end of the room (4'0"x
2'0"x7'0" high) which formed the back half of the cabinet, and was devoid of
ornaments or recesses. It measured roughly 15'0"x9'6", and at one end carried a
rectangular ceiling rail from which three floor-length black curtains were
suspended by Velcro straps of curtaining material, so that the curtains could be
opened and closed from both sides. This, along with the recess, constituted the
cabinet. The room was seamlessly carpeted throughout. Apart from the entrance
door from the anteroom, there were no detectable orifices beyond five small
vents in the ceiling and three low-level vents along one wall, vented to the
outside. Moulded plastic seats were placed around all the walls save the cabinet
end. Two of the seats blocked the entrance door, and that occupied by my wife
obstructed the door from being opened.
Binding and gagging the medium
The principal objects used during the sťance are seen on a board which, at
the mediumís request, was moved nearer his chair to be more effectively
used by the energies concentrated within the cabinet.
The chair (owned by DF) in which the medium sat was an old-fashioned
upholstered, heavy, wooden construction which I examined carefully, having
regard to a claim by the magician Ian Rowland, when commenting on television on
Thompsonís reputed feats, that this could be done by illusionists when the ends
of the chair arms were not securely connected to the posts, thereby enabling the
medium to raise his arms from the post and slip the cable ties off his arms: a
suggestion I examine later. I could find no loose connections, and was unable to
move the arms or see or feel anything abnormal underneath the chair.
The chair was placed inside the open cabinet, and the medium was strapped into
it by means of plastic tree ties. This was effected by Bianca under my close
supervision. I was invited to examine the ties which were already permanently
fixed to the legs and arms of the chair, both before and after the fixing. The
straps were placed through these permanent fixings, and pulled tight, and then
secured with thin plastic ties with the ends trimmed off, so that the only way
to release the bond was to cut it. The straps were so tightly pulled that I was
unable to intrude even a finger. Indeed, the medium subsequently was heard to
complain that his wife had been so enthusiastic as to cause him discomfort.
Bianca tied a black gag securely round the mediumís head through his open mouth,
thereby preventing recognisable speech. I examined the gag and the knot behind
the head. Finally the several buttons on the front of mediumís cardigan were
tied into the buttonholes with thin black strips of plastic. These are one-way
(self-locking) cable ties, incapable of being untied. They have to be cut before
a button can be released.
Instruments and equipment
The author examining the plastic fixings on the chair. Note the absence of
any cut on his right thumb.
On the floor a few feet in front of the medium there was a black coated piece of
board, about 3í6" by 2í. After I had checked underneath (prompted by Mr.
Fairbairn) to satisfy myself that nothing was concealed below it, the following
items were placed on it: a cardboard trumpet, the end of which was coated with
luminous paint; a mouth organ; a rattle, and two drum sticks, all of which were
to play a part in the sťance. In addition there was a pair of pliers which were
employed by Bianca to cut the ties to release her husband after the sitting, and
two wooden rings which were brought into the room from the anteroom at the
mediumís request by DF after my wife had taken a number of photographs.
A microphone (Optimus 33-3013) was suspended from the wall near the door, the
other end being connected to a Sony personal tape recorder located on a small
table next to DF. The machine was switched on by him and the cassette tape
turned over after it had automatically switched off on reaching the end of one
side. Copies of the tape recording were freely available to any participant
requesting it by sending a blank tape to DF. The only other equipment was a
small flexible table lamp with a red bulb and fixed shade. It was placed on a
small table in the corner on the mediumís left, outside the curtain, together
with a glass of water. In the opposite corner was a large a tape recorder
playing music. The light was controlled by Paul who sat alongside me, while the
music player was the responsibility of Bianca, who had to make frequent changes
in the music played and the volume requested, at the behest of spirit
communicators. Both Paulís hands held my right hand throughout the sťance, save
for about five minutes when they were needed to switch on and manoeuvre the
light during the brief period when ectoplasmic extrusions were being shown.
The medium photographed shortly after the end of the sťance, his eyes
guarded from the camera flash, awaiting release by his wife Bianca, seen
alongside the sťance leader, Paul. The tightness of the feet bindings are
Before the sťance, when all participants were seated on cushioned chairs against
the three walls, Paul enjoined everyone to remain still, not to grasp at
anything unless permission was sought and granted. He explained the dangers to
which the medium was exposed should anyone make an unauthorised grab at any
ectoplasmic extension, and emphasised the importance of keeping our arms still:
advice echoed and amplified by communicators in response to questions later. The
lights were then dimmed to disappearance. The light switch knob was removed from
the wall-mounted dimmer switch, and the remainder of the box was taped over by
The sťance began with a short prayer offered by one of the sitters. This was
followed not by normally rousing music but, rather to my surprise, by
Pachelbelís canon, to which we were invited to sing along, and then, no less
surprisingly, by the distinctly menacing dance of the courtiers from Prokofievís
Romeo and Juliet. Thereafter more popular music was played, but frequently
altered in volume at the behest of one or other communicator.
At the end of the sitting, following the withdrawal of the final communicator,
DF stripped the sealer tape from the light switch and restored the dimmer switch
knob to enable the light to be slowly turned up. It revealed David Thompson
still tied to his chair, and gagged, in the middle of the room, some seven or
eight feet from its original position inside the cabinet. It had been moved over
the top of the black board and its several instruments. When the medium had
recovered sufficiently to face the light, and the gag had been removed and
retied to shield his eyes from the flashes, my wife took a number of
post-sitting photographs. These included one showing the cardigan reversed.
Having checked that the ties were still in place, I watched as Bianca used the
pliers to cut each of the ties fixing the buttons to the buttonholes, and
examined the arm and leg bindings as she cut the ties before the straps could be
The main physical phenomena
I now summarise the physical events which I personally experienced, or else
witnessed with the rest of the participants:
1. The translocation to a different part of the room of the medium bound in his
Bianca, holding the end of the black blindfold (formerly gag) before
severing the ties on David Thompsonís reversed cardigan.
2. The reversal of the mediumís cardigan, with the plastic ties still unbroken.
(see photograph 9).
3. The appearance some time during the sťance of a cut on the lower side of the
base of my right thumb. It was made without my knowledge or awareness, and was
some 2cm in length with congealed blood along the line of what would have
normally been considered to be a scratch. My wifeís pre-sťance picture shows no
sign of any cut on my hand, whereas that taken immediately after the sitting
does. My hand was held firmly by my immediate neighbour, Paul, throughout the
sitting, normally with both hands, save for the few minutes required for him to
adjust the red light. The scar was still faintly visible twelve days later. (see
4. The trumpet, the luminous large end of which was seen to be performing a
variety of patterns and aerobic adornments in the air, was operated at great
speed and with considerable precision, and was pressed quite hard against my
chest at one stage.
5. My head was tapped sharply several times, apparently by the luminous end of
the trumpet during the aerial demonstrations.
The authorís tie, unknotted and pulled from his shirt, was found on the
carpet between his chair and that of his wife.
6. I was vigorously slapped on both knees as an introduction to the first
supposedly materialised entity.
7. My tie was unknotted, ripped off, and thrust with great precision in the
narrow space between the chairs on which my wife and I were sitting. It was
later found on the carpet beneath the chairs. (see photograph 12)
8. The two rings of equal dimensions but different woods were found on the left
arm of Alan, sitting opposite me and alongside Bianca. Towards the end of the
sťance he had reported that someone was trying to force the rings over his
wrist. When I tried to pull them over his hand to remove them he complained that
it was painful, although later succeeded in doing so. He contrasted this with
the relatively gentle pressure experienced when the rings had been were pushed
over his wrist during the sťance. (see photograph 13)
9. While holding my wifeís right hand with my left, leaving my index finger
protruding, we were both touched by a warm, soft and seemingly human hand for
about fifteen seconds.
10. There was tap dancing of an apparently expert kind, as well as extremely
fast drumming on the ceiling during the Irish jig music.
Two wooden rings were slipped over the hand of Alan. They were removed
with some difficulty. Note the cut which has now appeared on the authorís
right thumb, which was not apparent in a photograph taken before the
sťance. (see photograph 4).
11. A silver tie pin surmounted by a cat was apported as a gift to Bianca,
purportedly through the mouth of the medium as he extruded ectoplasm. (see
12. There were very clear, loud and distinctive series of four voices we heard,
all of which answered questions intelligently.
The sťance highlights
The evening was notable for the clarity and fluency of the two principal
communicators, who introduced themselves as William Charles Cadwell, (died 1897)
and Sir William Crookes (OM, FRS) both of whom invited and answered questions.
Two other voices familiar to the regular participants also came through: a
cockney youth named Timothy Booth, and Louis Armstrong. Both had very
distinctive features and claimed to have materialised. Timothy was responsible
for the widespread reports of touches and boisterous noises, as well as the
delicate management of the ectoplasm and the ordering of the correct degree of
red light to enable us to see the medium but not harm him. I produce below an
edited account of the entire sťance for the record. Despite its necessary
length, each virtually verbatim account, based on a tape recording, highlights
interesting aspects of mediumship phenomena and ontological issues. I have
omitted such phrases as "my dear friends," "of course" and suchlike adornments.
How voices are created
Cadwell, who came through very soon after the introductory music stopped, and
who talked in a clear, elderly and precise voice, not dissimilar to that of
Crookes (apart from the impediment Cadwell had in rolling his R's) who spoke
much later, described himself as a guide and mentor to "young David here" and
expressed an interest in me as "some would say, an understanding scientist" (I
expressed modest gratification). They (his spirit associates) would "endeavour
to prove to you that life exists beyond death". He urged us all to follow Paulís
guidelines for the protection of the medium and of the circle itself. He invited
questions. When Paul sought permission for me to use my notepad, he gave
approval provided I held the notebook neatly against my torso; then he withdrew
into the cabinet for a few moments, accompanied by a whooshing sound, and then
proceeded to invite questions.
I asked how the voice was produced, and how far it used the mediumís larynx, or
how far it was direct voice. "Well, I could describe it to you now that I myself
am partly materialised. The ectoplasm is exuded from the mediumís body by
various orifices and is moulded around the young manís voice box to create a
larynx effect, but of course I myself am speaking to you with my own voice:
placing myself within the ectoplasm exuded from the mediumís body by means of
coating the etheric body of the ectoplasm, you understand?" [Yes] "And I am then
able to speak. There is at some point during the sťance when the materialisation
of form is not taking place and it is merely that of independent direct voice.
You understand?" [Yes] "But I myself partly materialise." [Thank you very much].
Q: Do you feel you have moved into the room, or are you still at your point of
A: I hope that I am in the room; otherwise Iím in the wrong place [laughter].
Q: You feel that you have moved?
A: Yes my friend: I feel as solid as solid can be [Thank you] ... So many
people; so few questions...
MK: Well, perhaps I could ask again. You say you feel solid, but you are in fact
a creation of your own mind: is that not the case?
A: If I could describe to you this: due to the vibration of young David that is
emanating from his physical body, I am able to interpenetrate that of the
earthís vibration by means of my etheric body vibration changes. I am then able
to coat myself into a physical ectoplasmic form; then I am able to be here
within the earth environment; but when the energy depletes it is much more
difficult for materialisation and communication to take place, so the need is
for the energy to be produced, so often by yourselves, to help the energy of the
young man within the chair: to substantiate the energy levels and keep them
at such a level that I myself and others are able to commune. You understand?
 "Substantiate" is used in a strictly accurate,
but today unaccustomed, sense here.
MK: In so far as any such communication can make sense of our limited capacity
to envisage a different world, and a different means of communications, as it
does - it is very difficult ...
A: As it is for me to describe absolutely what is taking place: it is quite a
process that is more than what I have explained, of course: you understand.
The voice then urged us to hold hands for a moment.
"I shall show you something. What is your name, sir?
MK: Mine? Montague.
A: Good evening (pause) [I was then slapped vigorously on my right knee].
MK: I was heartily slapped on my ... oh again [on my left knee] with a very solid
feeling. Thank you!
A: You may now release hands. Now you see how ... materialisation within the
earthís vibration by means of ectoplasm? [Indeed]
Q: Why, when we held hands there, did that make it easier for you to demonstrate
A: It helps the energy to be built up to greater levels, but also it is for the
safety of the medium and the ectoplasmic structure. Quite often when people are
touched they feel the need to touch back or flee from whatever: so it may be
safety as well, you understand.
Q: You mentioned the energy being heightened by holding hands. Is that what
would have possibly enabled Mr Webber to work without a cabinet during his
mediumship, because I think they held hands throughout the whole sťance.
 Jack Webber, who died aged 32 in 1940, was a
prominent physical medium who was befriended by the celebrated healer Harry
Edwards. He published many photographed showing Webber, without a cabinet, and
with apparent ectoplasmic emissions from and around him.
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: So it is possible to work without a cabinet ...?
A: May be in time to come, when young David is more developed in his physical
mediumship we aim to dispense with the cabinet, and there have been times in the
past when this would have been possible, but you must understand that any
emotional or psychological change within the medium has an affect upon the
energy levels and also affects that of the physical manifestation. [Right]
Q: So that, therefore, it would be beneficial for those in development to sit
within a cabinet rather than ...?
A: Yes, of course, in the early stages. The cabinet is used to allow us to keep
the energy close to the medium, but also for the ectoplasm to be manipulated far
more easily for materialisation to take place.
Q: Is it going to be possible for the medium here to actually produce physical
phenomena in some sort of light?
A: Recently photographs of ectoplasm have been taken in red light. We donít wish
to disappoint Mr Fairbairn, but we do understand that may there is a little
concern with him (?) regarding the use of other venues in the area, so Denzil
can you hear me? [I can] We shall endeavour this evening to produce ectoplasm
that can be seen in red light. This will be the first time it has been done
outside the environment where the home circle is normally conducted. So it
will be a first: it will be your sanctuary where we wish to do this.
 This was a semi-public sťance as distinct from
one where regular sitters meet privately in a domestic or home circle.
DF: An honour and a privilege, William; thank you.
Use of infra-red photography
MK: May I ask another question: this anticipates some of the inevitable queries
by my more sceptical colleagues who are always insistent that, despite the
elaborate precautions taken to avoid any form of deception, they would still
like to have infra-red photography through a video: we have never quite
understood what the technical objections are to this. Would you be prepared to
A: I understand: any form of electrical equipment that is used for infra-red
photographic images of any sort does exude a type of ray, I believe the right
word is, but of what consistency I do not know, but this type of ray that is
exuded from the photographical equipment has a burning sensation upon the
ectoplasm. It is a little like placing the hand in sulphuric acid. But as
mediumship progresses in time there will be no need for infra-red photography
because all will be seen in spirit-induced light or that of red light if
possible so that, as sceptical as your colleagues may be, they cannot be
sceptical when the medium is firmly strapped in the chair and a materialised
form is seen to be standing in the room.
MK: If I may say so, with great respect, youíd be surprised how far scepticism
is sometimes taken.
A: Of course, there will always be those whom you cannot prove to them no matter
what you do. Within your field you will always have those who believe or wish to
believe, and those who do not. This is a fact of life.
MK: Unfortunately this is too true.
Fear of death [top]
[Veronica then asked whether there was anything she could tell her sister to
help her when she was so frightened of dying.]
A: Convey to her this: to pass into the spirit vibration is a glorious reunion
of souls that have passed before. It is nothing for your sister to be frightened
of: it is a changing of vibrations - that from the earth to those of the spirit
vibrations. Quite often people are retarded because of their religious belief
that they are going to some place of eternal sleep but, of course, in the
initial stages of entering that of the spirit dimension they themselves might
feel the necessity to sleep, and quite often these people wake up and wonder
what they are doing when they have no physical body to sustain them any more;
and when this occurs it is quite often that clergyman of their chosen religion
will go visit them and speak to them and explain that there was certainly [...?]
eternal sleep. Now if I remember right Mr Leslie Flint, who was a direct voice
medium, there was a tape produced by Dr Cosmo Lang who was the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and who returned and said, ĎOf course life goes on, and I was wrong
in my assumptions whilst I was here upon the physical planeí. My great friend Dr Theobald Slawinsky who is a cardio-vascular surgeon and works with young David
in the state of trance for the purpose of healing and psychic surgery, would be
more than happy to visit your dear sister, and if he is able to help, of course
he will [Thank you very much]. Be assured there is nothing to fear.
The reincarnation issue
Q: There some schools of thought who say that the earth plane is a plane of
individualisation. I was trying to sort out in my mind whether this
individuality once established on the earth plane: does it remain in the
personís consciousness once they are in spirit?
A: It depends whether you believe in reincarnation, and David is open-minded as
you may know. I myself wholeheartedly believe in the fact of reincarnation. I
believe this: this is just my interpretation, that when we pass to the world of
spirit we obviously still retain our personality, and upon the transition
through the spheres of living within the world of spirit you start to lose that
identity of the earthís environment and the consciousness that you had, but it
cannot be totally eradicated, and when the time of reincarnation takes place,
there is always an essence of that of what you were, and this is quite often
how, when some people are regressed, they are able to bring forward that of past
memories. It would be, and it is, quite foolhardy of me to say this: that all
thoughts are eradicated, but you must understand that like young David, who is
open-minded about the fact of reincarnation, he himself would find it very
difficult under a state of hypnosis to bring forward that of any past life
experience. This is due to himself being open-minded, but more so of the fact of
being disbelieving of the fact of reincarnation. So it could be firmly embedded
in his sub-conscious mind that it would be detrimental to his thoughts and his
emotions - if you can imagine: quite often people who have had difficult-like
childhoods - they hide from every fact within the recesses of the subconscious
mind, do they not? So much for past life experiences. No matter how hard you
try, you are unable to bring forward that what it is. I hope that answers your
question. [Thank you, chorus] I must go now. A pleasure to have been speaking to
you; may be Iíll speak to some more people at another time. Good evening to you.
Energetic spirit dancing
Music: all join in singing "Jerusalem" after a squeaky voice was heard. This was
followed by an Irish jig, accompanied by clapping sticks in strict time to the
music; then a more vigorous jig to which something appeared to be dancing and
clapping materialised hands. "Banging on the ceiling" said my wife, amid much
noise. The trumpetís luminous tip was flashing around the room and periodically
touching sitters. When the music ceased, amid cries of "well done", another less
energetic tune followed, and a small voice said "Turn it off", at which point
Bianca switched the music off, and Tim introduced himself. After some
light-hearted badinage with DF, Tim explained in a high pitched, artificially
baby-like voice that it was his job to make the ectoplasm come out. He asked
whether he should materialise, which he was encouraged to do. Then he said he
needed a bit more ectoplasm, and urged us to hold on. There was a whooshing
sound of a strangulated type, and a sudden scream of childish laughter. DF said
he had missed the board [with his jump from the cabinet]. Tim complained that it
had been put a long way away [from the medium]. Paul commented, "Just testing
you". DF: mind you don't twist your ankle! Tim: No need to test me, Buzzy
 It is not unknown for ostensible children to
perform quite adult functions in sťances. Mrs Osborne Leonardís principal
control was Feda, whose childish mispronunciation and temperament was allied to
considerable intelligence, as here.
 Paulís nick-name.
DF: Timothy, when you had the trumpet up, it would seem that separate from that
- I donít know whether anyone else noticed - but I did see quite a few sort of
flashes. Is that something you were experimenting with?
Tim: They were spirit lights we were hoping to bring, eventually. Did everybody
see them? [No]. You must be blind, then! [General laughter accompanied by a
high-pitched cackle from Tim.]
DF: It was very, very quick and subtle, rather like a glow of energy rather than
a pinpoint of light, but it was definitely separate from the trumpet.
Tim: Díyou know what weíre going to do tonight? Youíve got choices. If you want
to see ectoplasm in red light we wonít be able to bring in any loved ones. We
havenít quite mastered doing both. [The consensus of opinion was sought by Paul.
Tim assured us that he could always come again and bring through loved ones. Red
light had it.] Tim commented: "We can do most things but we canít work miracles"
- another cackle. He asked whether anyone was frightened. Was my companion my
wife? I confirmed this, and said she was nervous only when he laughed. He urged
her not to be frightened and assured her she would not be hurt - may be a little
bit [more laughter]. He then asked everyone to listen because he had fully
materialised. There were sounds of something walking about; Veronica let out a
short scream as she was touched on the knee. Then both her right and my left
hand, holding one another, were fondled for several seconds by what seemed to be
a small hand, quite soft and warm. Paul, on my left, said that both his hands
were holding my right hand, and the man on Veronicaís left confirmed that he had
been holding her left hand throughout, all the more tightly because she was
clearly nervous. Tim asked whether we had heard his footsteps: "You see, I
materialised partly, then". When he complained that we were a very quiet lot
tonight, I commented that we were awestruck, and Tim remarked that oars were
used for boats [cackle]. He appeared to require more ectoplasm and said we could
release hands for the moment. DF said he could see a fairly bright light in
front of him, but it seemed to have gone. It stayed in the same place even when
he moved his head. Tim explained that they were creating an energy field around
Tim then addressed "Mrs Monty" and asked whether she had a camera - a
new-fangled one. Veronica said she had, and Tim confirmed that, at the end of
the sitting but before the medium was cut out of the chair, she could take a
couple of photographs, if that was all right with Paul. Paul sought further
guidance and suggested it would be better if the pictures were taken when the
medium had been released and had been given some water, but Tim said it ought to
be done when he was still bound. The medium would say when he was awake.
Origin of a purloined apport
A present for Bianca came in the form of an apported silver cat mounted on
a tiepin, and found on the floor after the sťance.
Tim then announced that he would bring an apport for Bianca. (see photograph
10). She promised she
would wear it all the time. Veronica asked where he got the apport from. He said
he would have to seek permission to tell her. There was a short pause, then he
announced that he had been given permission. He said there was a stall half way
down the Portobello Road that sold curios: he thought it was called Jan or
Jane's Curios - or something like that. "We borrowed it off of her" [laughter].
"We asked her mum in the spirit world if she would mind and she said she wonít
even miss it - but she did, you know: she was looking for it to try and find
it!" [cackle] "And just to make it more interesting, when we switch the red
light on, weíll try and materialise it: weíll apport it out of his mouth, shall
we?" [Chorus of assent]. "Weíll materialise it in the ectoplasm and try bringing
it out of his mouth." When DF pointed out that David had a gag in his mouth, and
implied that this might make things difficult, Tim said: "Youíd be surprised.
Heís got a big mouth" [laughter and cackle]. He said they might need music to
enable them to do what they had to do. He would let us know when he was ready.
 A popular street market in West London.
After a brief interrogation about the curtains and lights, and whether the music
should be played throughout, Tim promised to make a bang when they were ready.
He didnít want the red light too low or too high because they (the spirits) had
never attempted this before... They might see the mediumís face contorted a
little. He was asked whether he could knock three times to ensure that we knew
when he was ready, to which he responded, amid laughter by singing Knock
three Times on the Ceiling if you Want me. Music was re-started. We joined
in singing An Alien in New York. Paul then asked for the music to stop
and everyone to remain absolutely quiet. I was asked to turn on the wall switch
governing the red lamp. There followed much manoeuvring while the curtain on my
side was opened and the light, pointing downwards to avoid shining in the
mediumís face, was adjusted. Bianca checked to ensure everyone could then see
the medium. We then saw a white substance stretching from the mediumís face and
across his chest to his lap. After about half a minute Tim asked for the light
to be turned off at the main. The music resumed. Tim explained that the music
and singing were needed to generate the energy, a lot of which was needed for
this sort of demonstration. He asked DF when was the last time he had seen
ectoplasm. DF replied that it was about three years ago in a sitting with
Stewart Alexander. Since then there had been some 300 people attending his
Addressing me as "Uncle Monty" Tim asked for my reactions. I wondered what had
become of the ectoplasm. Tim said it had been dematerialised: it was dangerous
when the ectoplasm was out of the medium. He had kept a little bit for himself
to enable him to talk to us. This was the first time they had brought through an
apport via the ectoplasm with the red light on: it was dangerous. Veronica
described a light she saw in front of her. DF said it was the same as the light
he saw. Tim asked me whether my wife usually saw such things. I said she did,
but I did not. Tim observed amid laughter that if "your missus sees things itís
got to be true" - followed by another cackle. He called for music. It was
switched on. I did not see the apport being produced, but it was on the floor
near Bianca when the sťance ended.
After one song, the music played a Louis Armstrong song, Wonderful World.
Armstrongís voice was heard on the music, and then a voice apparently identical
to Armstrongís accompanied it. It was quite clear. This was followed by the
voice introducing himself thus: "How are all you fine people here this evening?
May I introduce myself? My name is Louis Armstrong" [expressions of welcome],
"known by many as Satchmo. Iíve got to say this is very difficult speaking
through this here voice box" [murmurs of sympathy and encouragement]. Bianca
sought permission to pose a question, "Yes you can ask me a question if you
wish, my dear." She said she had lost a tape with Satchmo singing with a lady,
and she could not find it. "Well my dear youíve got the record at home". Bianca
expressed gratification. "So you didnít have to look that far did you?" (pause)
"Iím just going to materialise." There followed a whooshing noise followed by
the sound of a minor collision. I commented that heíd tripped over something.
"No I havenít my friení. Iím just showing you Iíve materialised." There followed
several knocks and bangs, and it became clear it was some sort of soft shoe
shuffle. "There you are my friends, and I bid you good night". The voice was
loud, clear and highly idiosyncratic, immediately recognisable as Satchmoís
uniquely guttural pronunciation.
After a pause, we heard some heavy breathing sounds, and a very croaky voice,
which shortly became firmer, addressed us: We welcomed him. We were asked to
keep talking to help the vibrations. Paul greeted him, and the voice asked
everyone to sit still. "I wish to fully materialise..." He introduced himself as
Sir William Crookes. "Some of you may know me from my scientific research, but
some of you by means of my communication and friendship with the physical medium
Florence Cook. At no time was there any doubt in my mind of any fraud or of Miss
Cook. [Comment from DF: There are quite a few
photographs showing Florence and Katie (King) separately.] "There are two reasons why I came to this gathering
this evening. One was purely to make my presence felt here and to commune with
people of like minds. One was also because of my interest in this young manís
mediumship. As you have seen this evening, ectoplasm was exuded from this young
man in red light and seen, and as you know I myself witnessed full
materialisation in light, that of the materialised form of
Katie King. Are you
all familiar with this [general assent]? I shall endeavour to move further into
the room. Now I am sure there are those amongst you who may have questions of
me. Please feel free to ask and I shall endeavour to answer."
I asked whether those guilty of unfair opposition and criticism during his
lifetime had now recanted in the afterlife. He replied: "I would not say they
have recanted. I would say their minds have been firmly changed." He asked my
name, and I told him. "Ah, so youíre Keen are you? I have heard words of you, I
can tell you, dear boy. I understand you are going to endeavour to continue some
of the work that I started". [We are] "Well carry on the good work, dear boy". I
commented: "Your work was an inspiration to us and many others". He replied: "I
was not swayed, dear friend, by any means." I then quoted his words "I did not
say that it was possible; I simply said that it happened."
At this point I felt my tie being unknotted. I commented on this, saying that
the hands unknotting it were firm. "My tie is now being pulled out and I think
undone by firm hands. Thank you. Both my hands are being held and - ah! My tie
is being taken off! I hope it wonít dematerialise". "As you can see, my friend,
anything is possible", the voice resumed. "Let me explain something in regard to
external energies being brought into the sťance room. Some of you may know I
myself was a party to developing vacuum tubes which were part of X-ray tubes,
you understand. Do you know of this Keen?" [I do, sir] "Well you will know that
X-ray is something which exudes energy, does it not, which can sometimes be
detrimental to that of the patient in large degrees. Well, within the sťance
room the energy is in heightened state, and bringing into the sťance room any
form of electricity other than that that is compensated for, which sometimes
proves to be quite difficult to work with, can have a disastrous effect on the
mediumship of the individual within the chair. When I witnessed the
materialisation of Katie King, that was the most thought-provoking change in my
life. It was at that time that the reality of life after death really touched my
soul. Then there was no going back. Then I had to bring to the world the truth
of the continuity of life. Now I would say this to you: put away your electrical
equipment of infra-red status for this young man and other physical mediums,
manifestations will be seen again in that sort of light produced either by the
spirit vibrations or by that of your own means, if we allow it in the sťance
room. That is all I have to say."
Q: When working with the medium you worked with, did you witness her materialise
from nothing, or from scratch basically to full form, or did you just witness
her coming out of the cabinet?
A: At one time I was privileged to see ectoplasm exuding from the mediumís body
by means of the mouth and solar plexus, and from this even what seemed to be
ectoplasm on the floor in front of the medium the materialised form began to
arise until there was a full form materialisation before my very eyes.
Q: How long did the process take?
A: About five minutes from nothing to full materialisation.
Q: Do you have a laboratory of some sort now?
A: There is not necessarily a need for a laboratory where I am in the spirit
dimension, but I do quite often visit chemists and such that work in laboratory
environments on this earth vibration to learn new skills. I must go now. It has
been a pleasurable experience to be able to speak to you good people.
Something fell or was pushed between my left arm and Veronicaís right. Veronica
also said she felt it. Music followed, accompanied by bangs, clashes,
rattle-swinging, drumsticks etc without relevance to the music, and amid a good
deal of reports of touches, interspersed with the occasional mild scream from
Veronica. Almost everyone appeared to report touches or minor knocks.
Immediately the music stopped, Alan reported that two rings were over his
wrists. Tim asked for the music to be changed: a nice uplifting one - the energy
was becoming a bit thin.
Bianca expressed renewed gratitude for her apport. There followed a reprise of
Iím an Englishman and a loud farewell from Tim. Then another song,
unaccompanied this time. The music faded out, and the sťance ended as the red
light was slowly restored amid some heavy breathing. The sound of sealing tape
being ripped off the light switch was accompanied by instructions from Paul to
remain completely quiet while Veronica retrieved her camera from the anteroom.
The mediumís eyes were protected from the flashlight for the four or five
pictures taken by Veronica, showing the medium strapped to his chair in the
centre of the room. When the mediumís blindfold, which had been used as a gag
was removed Paul drew attention to the remnants of ectoplasm still on the
Assessment and comments
It is almost an article of faith among many psychical researchers that unless
physical phenomena are capable of being clearly witnessed, or alternatively that
infra-red video recording is available, no persuasive evidence of anything
paranormal is possible. Although the spirit portrayed as Sir William Crookes
explained why an infra-red video camera might be damaging to the medium at his
present stage of development, the general rule of evidentiality may be broken if
the other security measures justify an unambiguous assertion that deception on
the part of the medium was impossible. The nature of the ties would have
prevented the medium, no matter how strong or agile, from escaping his bonds
without first managing to cut the ties. Even had he been able to do so, he could
not have regained his seat and retied the knots unaided, employing a new set of
uncut ties, unless he had been helped by someone able to work deftly, accurately
and swiftly in pitch dark. No-one in the sťance room could have attempted that
without ready detection. Moreover my careful examination of the chair showed no
sign of any movable join. Finally, the reversal of the mediumís cardigan while
he was still bonded to his seat defies normal explanation. The precautions here
were superior even to those employed by Schrenck Notzing on
Eva C, who was sewn
into a single garment, or on the physical medium Jack Webber, where less
sophisticated tying methods, and materials, were used.
During the brief time when the red light was switched on, we could all see, the
medium draped with a white cloth-like foam substance, presumably ectoplasm,
albeit not with great clarity in some cases. It corresponded in appearance with
many of the photographs showing ectoplasmic emissions from past mediums; but the
facilities for overt examination of it contrasted rather strikingly with these
available to Harry Edwards in his supervision of Webber, who was extensively
photographed by flashlight in various stages of ectoplasmic production,
apparently without injury to the medium (Edwards, 1961). For this apparent
anomaly I was given two reasons: Webber may well have been more strongly
developed as a medium; the photographs were all taken with the consent of the
spirit guardians, who had an opportunity to withdraw the vulnerable animation
spirit from the ectoplasm before photographs were taken. There are also the very
large number of flashlight photographs taken by or on behalf of Schrenck Notzing,
and reproduced, albeit poorly, in The Phenomena of Materialization (Schrenck Notzing, 1923).
The voices themselves could not have come from the gagged medium. The only other
"regulars" on whom suspicion might rest were Bianca, his wife, Paul the leader
who was seated next to me, and whose voice and location would have clearly
identified him, and DF, the host, who was seated at the opposite end of the room
from the medium. Any of these possibilities would have easily and immediately
detectable by those present, as well as likely to be defeated by listening to
the tape recording. While the communications did not contain anything which
could be regarded as convincingly evidential, the information was consistent
with what is known of Crookes, and the answers to all questions were
unhesitating, coherent and sensible.
The remaining physical phenomena did not appear to me to be susceptible to any
normal explanation, considering that hand-holding (despite
purported skill in hand-substitution) effectively ruled out those closely
associated with the medium: Bianca and Paul, as well as DF.
Feasibility of deception
Although much of what occurred was expected, save for the use (for the first
time, we were told, in a non-domestic circle setting) of red light to enable
ectoplasmic extrusion to be seen, and in accordance with reports which had
appeared in the Spiritualist press (e.g. Alexander, 2003, Eccles, 2002,
Fairbairn, 2002, Fairbairn, 2003 Hunt, 2000 (and Pearman, 2002), I have listed
above some other remarkable physical phenomena which have little or no
dependence on the frailties of memory or the defects of observation.
Alexander, S. 2003. A David Thompson sťance
reported by renowned physical medium Stewart Alexander. Psychic News,
Eccles. V. 2002. David Thompson gives a sťance at Tumbetin in Australia.
Psychic News, Sept 21.
Edwards, H. 1961. The Mediumship of Jack Webber, The Healer Publishing
Fairbairn, D. 2002. A physical Sťance Report. Psychic News. May 11
Fairbairn, D., 2003. Description of fifth and final sťance promoted by the
newspaper. Psychic News, July 12
Hunt, H. and C. 2001. Report on a physical sťance held at Crawley. Psychic
News. October 6.
Keen, M. Fontana D and Ellison A 1999, The Scole Report, Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research, Vol.58, pt 220.
Pearman, R. 2002. A Star-studied Evening with Physical Medium David Thompson,
Psychic News, Dec 21-28.
Schrenck-Notzing, B. von , 1923. The Phenomena of Materialisation, tr.
Fournier díAlbe 1st English Edition, Kegan Paul, Trubner.
This article is copyright Veronica Keen 2004. It
is published on this website with permission.