D.D. Home: possibly the greatest direct-materialization medium of all time
The following was written by Michael Tymn:
Was D. D. Home like Babe Ruth, David Thompson like Nick Swisher?
Posted on 19 March 2012
Daniel Dunglas Home (1833 –1886), a Scottish American, has gone down in the history books as perhaps the best physical medium ever.
His feats included phantom forms, levitations, floating objects, luminous hands, materializations, strange luminous vapors, beautiful music from an accordion with no physical hands touching it, and voices talking and singing.
And while in the trance state, he delivered a number of philosophical discourses. Home (pronounced Hoom in Scotland, Hume in England), was the subject of a thorough investigation by Sir William Crookes, a distinguished British scientist. Although Crookes apparently set out to debunk Home, he became convinced, over some 30 sittings with him, that Home was no charlatan and that some form of “psychic force” was taking place through him. Crookes took every possible precaution in ruling out trickery, even picking Home up at his apartment and watching him dress. “I am, therefore, enabled to state positively, that no machinery, apparatus, or contrivance or any sort was secreted about his person,” Crookes stated, stressing the fact that most of the séances were held in his (Crookes’) home under lighted conditions and that Home had no opportunity to rig anything in the séance room or smuggle anything into it.
“If Home was for real, why don’t we see that type of mediumship today?” the modern day skeptic asks. Applying the same type of reasoning, we might ask why, excluding steroids and a longer season, nobody has topped Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record of 85 years ago.
There have been a number of baseball players who have approached Ruth’s record and there have been many physical mediums nearly as good as D. D. Home. Although the quality of physical mediumship today does not seem to approach the quality of physical mediumship 100-150 years ago, for reasons too involved to go into here, there clearly are a number of genuine physical mediums around today. The evidence strongly suggests that David Thompson, an Englishman living in Australia, is one of them.
Thompson has been criticized by a number of observers, including some who believe in mediumship, because his séances are conducted in complete darkness.They point to the fact that D.D. Home produced phenomena in subdued light and could be seen by everyone in the room. They further point to the fact that other physical mediums have been able to operate under red light. They say that if Thompson is a genuine medium, he should be able to give séances in the light, like Home, or at least in red light, like Alec Harris and Minnie Harrison, two other famous mediums.
But let’s apply the baseball analogy here. If Ruth was to baseball what Home was to mediumship, both daylight “power” guys, then Willie Mays, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Ken Griffey, Jr. – ballplayers who hit 50 or more homers in a season and approached Ruth’s 60 homers in 154 games – might be likened to mediums who produced phenomena under red light. The great majority of baseball players, however, don’t hit even 30 homers a season, so we might liken them to mediums who require darkness. Those players simply don’t have the power that Ruth, Maris, Mantle, Mays and Griffey, Jr. had and no amount of physical training is going to help them achieve Ruthian numbers. But they are major league baseball players nonetheless. Players who make the majors, even those who hit only a few home runs a year, are gifted athletes. They are nearly as rare as people who are capable of producing ectoplasm, the key element in physical mediumship.
Nick Swisher, the man who now plays Ruth’s position for the New York Yankees, is a good, solid, journeyman ballplayer, even an all-star two years ago. He averages around 25 homers a year, but no one says he is a fake ballplayer because he can’t hit the ball as far or as often as Ruth. As I see it, David Thompson is to physical mediumship what Swisher is to baseball – gifted, but lacking the power of D. D. Home.
I have never seen Thompson, but I have never seen many things that scientists claim is true, and yet I accept them based on the credibility of the researchers. There are simply too many reports by credible people to believe that Thompson isn’t the real thing.
One of those credible people is Dr. Jan Vandersande, a retired physics professor who had the opportunity to observe Thompson on three occasions during a recent visit by Thompson to the Los Angeles area. Vandersande witnessed various materializations, objects flying around the small darkened garage, some of them stopping in mid air, felt the hands of a child spirit, and listened to various spirit entities speak in different voices. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that David is a legitimate medium” Vandersande told me by phone recently. “Fraud is not a possibility, even though we had a few people there who simply refused to believe that the phenomena were real. They claimed that David must somehow have smuggled in night vision goggles, and they came up with other far-fetched theories as to how he might have done it. Their minds were made up beforehand and they simply refuse to believe.”
Vandersande, the author of “Life After Death: Some of the Best Evidence,” observed much physical mediumship in South Africa when he was teaching at the University of Witwatersrand, so this was not a new experience for him. Under red light, he saw ectoplasm flowing from the nose of a South African medium named Kitty Gordon. He saw it stretch some four to six feet across the room while still attached to the medium’s nose. He noticed that it was slightly transparent and he saw it reabsorbed by the medium within a few seconds. Scientists have never been able to completely analyze ectoplasm because it must be reabsorbed by the medium, and attempts to capture it can result in serious injury to the medium. A few scientists were able to capture small amounts but it disappeared in their containers before they could analyze it. Observers are warned not to touch it, because of the possibility of injury to the medium.
“Ectoplasm can be very sensitive to unexpected touching or being exposed to white light,” Vandersande said, recalling the cases of Alec Harris and Helen Duncan, both mediums who were seriously injured – Harris when a person grabbed him and Duncan when the lights were turned on unexpectedly. Duncan died shortly thereafter and Harris never completely regained his strength. In fact, Home suffered from ill health most of his life and died of TB at age 53, but it has been speculated that his condition might have been exacerbated by having his ectoplasm exposed to too much light. (Coincidentally, Babe Ruth also died at age 53)
Vandersande completely agrees with the baseball analogy, saying that the ability to produce ectoplasm is greater with some than with others and that some mediums never reach the point where they are strong enough for red light. Some can develop over time, just as a baseball player can get stronger over time. He adds, however, that Thompson has occasionally produced ectoplasm in red light and photographs have been taken showing sheets of ectoplasm stretching from his face across his chest down to his lap or even lower.” And Nick Swisher occasionally hits 400-foot home runs, but not nearly as often as Ruth and certainly not on demand. The conditions have to be just right in baseball and just right in mediumship.
As early researchers came to understand, ectoplasm is used by the spirits to materialize. The spirits project an image of themselves into the ectoplasm and that thought image then takes form. They also use the ectoplasm to form an artificial voice box so that they can speak. At one of the three Los Angeles sittings, the grandfather of Vandersande’s wife, Marlene, materialized and spoke with her. Her mother then attempted to speak but the power was low at that point and the voice was very weak. “It appeared that there just wasn’t enough energy for her to materialize,” Vandersande explained, mentioning that the energy or power, whatever it is called, was low in the first sitting but much stronger in the second and third sittings.
The usual controls against fraud were taken. Thompson was searched by Vandersande and another man, and his arms and legs were secured to a chair with leather straps, while plastic zip ties were pulled through the holes of the straps to ensure that the straps could not be undone. Additionally, zip ties were put through his cardigan sweater to ensure that he could not get out of the sweater. “There is no way that he could have freed himself from those binds,” Vandersande said, “but then you get people who say that Houdini would have been able to get out of it, so why not Thompson. You get all kinds of wild theories from people who just refuse to believe it is real.”
After the lights were turned off and the garage sealed up from the inside, a short prayer was said and music turned on to increase the harmony and vibrations. All sitters were told to hold hands to increase the energy and ensure that no one tried to touch the ectoplasm without permission. After three songs, William, Thompson’s primary spirit control, started talking to the sitters while walking around. “He spoke quite loud, in a distinctive British accent that I found difficult to understand at time,” Vandersande said. “He then started to answer questions about the spirit world.” William’s full name was said to have been William Cadwell and he is said to have died in 1897. Vandersande asked William if his materialized body had a pulse. “He came over to me, took two of my fingers with his hand and put them up against what I assumed was the carotid artery in his jaw area,” Vandersande said. “It felt like rough skin I was touching and I could feel a very, very vague pulse.”
Other spirits communicated, one a young cockney youth named Timmy, who walked around among the sitters, allowing them to grasp his small hands. During each of the three sittings, a friend or relative of one of the sitters materialized and spoke briefly. During the third séance, a man materialized and called out to his mother and father, who recognized him as Jay-Jay, their deceased son. “He walked to them, touched them both and kissed them, then after saying a few words he left. During all three séances, Louis Armstrong, the famous musician, who died in 1971, materialized. “His voice sounded exactly like the very characteristic voice so often heard when alive on earth,” Vandersande said. “He played a harmonica for a few minutes and you could hear him take deep breaths occasionally while playing. After that he left. I always get nervous when famous people materialize but I now have a better understanding why they do it. To prove survival after death, it makes more sense that someone who has a characteristic voice and mannerisms that just about everyone can recognize materializes rather than a no name regular person.”
A trumpet and some drum sticks sometimes flew around the garage, as high as the roof of the garage, nine feet up. They would stop in mid air at times and resume flight. “I am a physicist, but I have no idea how all that happens,” Vandersande concluded. “But I know it happened and there were no tricks involved.”
If Thompson were a charlatan, he would have to be:
1. an expert escape artist, able to free himself in a very short period of time and then secure himself with the same binds before the lights are turned on;
2. an expert at doing different voices, to the extent of imitating the voices of deceased relatives and friends among the sitters;
3. an expert investigator, able to dig up the names of deceased relatives and friends in another country, even when it is unknown who those people will be;
4. an expert magician, able to make objects fly around the room and stop in mid air, even when seated in the corner of the garage against the walls, as Thompson was (skeptics have suggested that he uses a whirly bird of some kind on a stick, which would require him to be in the center of the room);
5. a very stealthy athlete, able to move around a dark, crowded room without tripping over someone and without being heard and to somehow smuggle things into the room after being strip searched, and then hide them before the lights are turned on;
6. able to somehow make sitters think they are holding the small hands of a child rather than adult hands.
7. Although apparently not experienced at Vandersande’s sittings, publisher Jon Beecher reported that when he sat with Thompson in New York a few years ago, his partner’s deceased grandfather materialized. Tatyana, Beecher’s partner, began speaking in English, but was encouraged by Timmy or Timothy, the spirit controlling things at the time, to speak in her native language. She then changed to Russian, after which the materialized spirit answered in Russian. So Thompson must also be a linguist.
Beecher also reported that he and others regularly checked the medium’s ties during the séance and he was always in his chair, appearing to be asleep. He and the others present also observed a trumpet, with luminous tape on it, fly across the room at great speed, stopping at the end of Tatyana’s nose, then touching her five times on her head without harming her. They further observed a harmonica flying around the room, sometimes 10 feet in the air while playing a tune. When it fell to the floor, it continued to play. So add an eighth ability to the seven above. Thompson must be able to play the harmonica in impossible positions.
As a last resort, the skeptic might claim that the medium is doing a mass hypnosis of all the sitters, suggesting that they believe things happened that didn’t really happen. There seems to be no end to the “could have” or “might have” theories for the person whose mind is made up that it is all fraud. As for me, I believe the evidence, if not absolute proof, at least meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.