Spirit Controls

Imperator and Rector

          THE MEDIUMSHIP of Rev. William Stainton Moses, an Anglican minister, began in 1872. According to his biographer, Charlton Speer, who often sat with Moses during his séances, it started with a variety of raps and progressed to the direct voice, direct writing, the trance voice, and automatic writing. Speer wrote that direct voice, in which voices came through in the air above them, was not clear or distinct, while direct writing, in which a pencil untouched by human hands gave short messages, such as that received from the distinguished musician, was rare. Speer further reported that the trance voice, in which the spirits used Moses’ entranced body, came through in a dignified, temperate, clear and convincing tone. Moreover, it was always apparent that the personality addressing the group was not that of the medium. The voices were different and the ideas expressed were often contrary to Moses’. While different spirits came through, the chief communicator in the early days called himself Imperator. Mrs. Speer, Charlton’s mother, did the recording of the trance messages, but she said it was impossible for her to capture the beauty and refinement of the manifestations or the power and dignity of Imperator’s influence.

“I, myself, Imperator Servus Dei, am the chief of a band of forty-nine spirits, the presiding and controlling spirit, under whose guidance and direction the others work,” Mrs. Speer recorded. “I am come from the seventh sphere to work out the will of the Almighty; and, when my work is complete, I shall return to those spheres of bliss from which none returns again to earth. But this will not be till the medium’s work on earth is finished, and his mission on earth exchanged for a wider one in the spheres.”

Imperator added that spirits named Rector and Doctor were his immediate assistants. He had come, he said, to explain the spirit world, how it is controlled, and the way in which information is conveyed to humans. “The ladder between Heaven and earth has always been,” Imperator voiced through Moses, “but man’s unbelief cut him off from the ministry of angels.”

When Imperator was speaking through Moses, the sitters observed a large, bright cross of light behind Moses’ head and rays surrounding it. The lights seemed to culminate in a beautiful line of light of great brilliancy several feet high and moving from side to side. One of the sitters asked Imperator to explain the lights. He responded that the pillar of light was himself, the bright light behind him his attendants, and the numerous lights seen in the room belonged to the band of 49. In all, there were seven circles of seven spirits each. Each circle composed one presiding spirit with a particular mission and six ministers.

On March 30, 1873, spirit messages started coming through Moses’ hand by means of “automatic writing.” This method was adopted, Moses was informed, for convenience purposes and so that he could preserve a connected body of teaching. Initially, the writing was very small and irregular, and it was necessary for Moses to write slowly and cautiously. However, the writing quickly became more regular and more legible. Most of the early messages came from Doctor, but after a time others started using Moses’ hand. Each was distinguished by a different handwriting as well as peculiarities of style and expression. When some spirits found that they could not influence Moses’ hand, they called upon Rector for assistance. Rector even acted as an amanuensis for Imperator. In 1883, Moses compiled his writing into a book entitled Spirit Teachings.

Moses wondered how he could be sure that Imperator and his band were not evil spirits - wolves in sheep’s clothing - attempting to lead him astray. He was continually concerned that much of what they had to say was contrary to Christian dogma and doctrine. Imperator responded, commending Moses for his questioning frame of mind and pointing out that this was one of the reasons he was chosen as their vehicle. “We hail your doubts as the best evidence of our successful dealing with you,” he said, going on to mention that there is a point beyond which it is impossible to provide evidence. He called for Moses to use the standards of Jesus, “By their fruits shall ye know them” and “Men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles,” further telling him that he must consider the whole tenor of their teachings for proof that it is Divine. For definite proof, Imperator continued, Moses must be content to wait until he too stood in their company. The most they could hope for is the gradual establishment of conviction. “We desire that you should apply to us the same law by which the Master judged - the Divine law of judging others as you would yourself be judged.”

Moses continually asked for the earthly identifications of Imperator and the others. Imperator initially resisted, informing Moses that revealing their earthly names would result in casting additional doubt on the validity of the messages. However, Imperator later revealed their names, advising Moses that they should not be mentioned in the book he would write. It was not until after Moses’ death that the identities were made public by A. W. Trethewy in a book, The Controls of Stainton Moses. Imperator was Malachias, the Old Testament prophet. Rector was Hippolytus and Doctor was Athenodorus. Imperator took directions from Preceptor, who was Elijah. Preceptor, in turn, communed directly with Jesus. Other communicators included Daniel, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Solon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Plotinus, Alexander Achillini, Algazzali, Kabbila, Chom, Said, Roophal, and Magus.

Moses died in 1892, but the Imperator band began communicating again in 1895 through the mediumship of Leonore Piper of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Until then, Piper had been controlled by Phinuit and “George Pelham” (a pseudonym for George Pellew). The quality of the messages coming through Piper had begun to deteriorate and there were indications that devious earthbound spirits were able to control Piper’s organism. Deceased writers Sir Walter Scott and George Eliot supposedly communicated directly through Piper’s hand, but the nature of the communication suggested impostors.

Pellew and Phinuit gradually gave way to “Rector,” who told them that Piper’s organism was weakening and needed a rest. While Rector and the band of 49 continued to use Piper’s organism, it was with more care than Pellew and Phinuit could provide. Rector said they were substituting a “softer melody” for the rough, inharmonious and uncultivated dialect, referring primarily to Phinuit. While not “earth earthy,” Rector said that Phinuit was too bound by the attractions of earthly minds. He further cautioned Dr. Richard Hodgson, the chief investigator for the Piper phenomena, not to rely too much on Pellew as he was “too far away,” i.e., too advanced, to be effective. “His spirit is pure, his mind sincere, his whole life here is one of honor and one to be respected by us all,” Rector wrote through Piper’s hand. “Yet, we would speak the truth and say his work in your field is done.”

Some researchers questioned whether Piper’s Rector was the same as Moses’ Rector, even though her Imperator group claimed to be the same one that controlled Moses.

“It is a rather puzzle to me why Mrs. Piper’s personalities should have assumed the same set of names,” wrote Sir Oliver Lodge, the distinguished British physicist and psychical researcher. “In general characters they are similar, but I see no very close resemblance in detail. And hitherto the Piper ‘Imperator’ has not given us the same old earth name as the original ‘Imperator’ to Stainton Moses. So it would appear as if they did not very seriously pretend to be identical.”

Soon after his death in 1905, Hodgson began communicating through Piper. During a 1906 sitting with Piper, researcher George Dorr asked Hodgson about Rector. Hodgson explained that Rector was in complete control and that Rector spoke for him. Hodgson went on to say that Rector reported for everyone, i.e., he reported in the first person for all communicating spirits. He further explained that Rector understood the conditions of spirit better than any individual spirit and that Rector was constantly under the direction of Imperator.


Barrett, Sir William, On the Threshold of the Unseen (New York: E.F. Dutton & Co., 1917).
Holt, Henry, On the Cosmic Relations (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914).
Lodge, Sir Oliver, The Survival of Man (London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1909)
Moses, William Stainton, Spirit Teachings (New York: Arno Press, New York, 1976, reprinted from 1924 edition published by London Spiritualist Alliance)
Moses, William Stainton, More Spirit Teachings
Myers, F. W. H., Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols) (London: Longmans & Green, 1903; reprint, New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, Inc., 1961).

Source: Michael E. Tymn, vice-president of The Academy of Religion and Psychical Research.



Some parts of this page The International Survivalist Society 2005