medium. S. G. Soal, M.A., a teacher in the Faculty of Science in the University of London reported in
SPR Proceedings, vol. XXXV on a series of experiments and observations carried out during the years 1921-22. He only dwells on mental phenomena; on the remarkable communications he obtained from a deceased brother, from presumably fictitious entities and from a friend, Gordon Davis, whom he believed to have fallen in the war but who was afterwards discovered alive and ignorant of the communications that came through in his voice. The medium, according to Soal's
"does not go into trance and in the intervals when the voice is not speaking she is apparently normal and able to converse with the sitters and sometimes even able to repeat words which the voice has just said. There is, however right through the sittings a certain degree of absent-mindedness and the medium is sometimes slow to respond to questions addressed to her by the sitter. While the voice is not speaking she keeps up a continuous humming noise with her lips, and this humming noise ceases when the voice comes into play. Throughout the period of my own experiments the medium seemed unable to sustain the voice for more than a minute or two at a time and the information was given for the most part in rapid snatches punctuated by periods of silence lasting from a minute up to a quarter of an hour. Moreover, it appeared that the voice could only be produced while the musical box was playing, and only on one or two occasions were words spoken a second or two after the music had ceased. Objective lights were seen at every sitting but these appeared in the silent intervals and were never simultaneous with the voices. These lights varied in appearance from dim amorphous patches to bright bluish discs about the size of a half a crown."
Occasionally dark shapes the outlines of a human hand, of an ear, of a head, were seen in the centre of a patch of light. S. G. Soal was convinced that the names and phrases which Mrs. Cooper gave could not awaken in her subconscious mind anything beyond the mere sound of the words themselves. He believed that his own psychic personality played some part in the results as he was an automatic writer and, at least to some extent, subject to dissociation. He noticed the peculiar feature that:
"questions asked by the sitter are seldom answered immediately in the case when the sitter is holding the correct answer in his conscious mind. In such cases it was usually found that the idea had to pass back into the unconscious mind of the sitter before it could emerge from the automatism of the medium. The communicator, when asked for an answer, would usually reply
'I cannot give it now, but will try to give it later.' Then at a later period of the sitting, when the sitter had quite forgotten the matter in question, the correct answer would be forthcoming. In cases when the correct answer was not known to the sitter a direct question would often result in immediate success."
He could not identify the voice of his brother, but the
"sťance voice" was well developed and preserved certain marked characteristics so that immediately this particular voice spoke he was able to recognise it. In the case of Gordon Davis the tone of his voice, its accent and his characteristic mannerism of speech was more or less accurately reproduced. He described incidents of his boyhood known to Soal and spoke of one or two matters unknown to him. He described his last meeting with Soal and the substance of the conversation. He desired to send messages of comfort to his wife and child, and though he did not give details of the circumstances of his death, acted as a deceased. He gave an accurate description of the environment and interior arrangements of a house which he did not occupy until a year later. Soal only discovered in February, 1925, that Gordon Davis was alive. From his diary it was found that his conscious mind was busy interviewing clients on both occasions on which he was supposed to communicate. Two days before the house was described the living Gordon Davis was occupying his conscious mind with it. He had visited it and gained knowledge of its environment and interior. Certain articles the position of which was described by Mrs. Cooper, were already in his possession.
In the debate over Soal's paper before the SPR, Dr. Wolley suggested that when the future house was described the sitter was unconsciously pre-vising not an event in the life of Gordon Davis, but an event in his own life, i.e., his visit to the house in April, 1925. But Soal rightly objects that on this hypothesis the prevision would have to be extended to the prevision of the substance of his conversation with Davis as on his visit he did not see Davis' little boy but found the information which the voice gave about him correct. The implications of the theory are too wide as almost any piece of information given by a medium and afterwards verified by the sitter might be thought of as prevision by the sitter of the moment in his life when he comes to verify the fact.
Mrs. Cooper had two guides: Nada and Afid. Nada speaks in a girlish whisper. The voice of Afid is gruff and sepulchral. The volumes of
Psychic Science contain the records of many interesting book-tests with Mrs. Cooper, particularly between the years 1923-25.
Source (with minor modifications):
An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).