exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Return to Afterlife main-page
Editor's note: also see the work of direct-voice medium John Sloan featured in item #48.
Direct-voice mediumship allows persons on the other side of life to audibly speak, such that, anyone near the medium, on this side, will be able to hear their voices.
This gift comes in two forms: (1) voices transmitted through the vocal-cords of the medium (who, typically, will be in trance); and, (2) voices coming from anywhere in the room, without particular reference to the medium - such is termed "independent-voice mediumship."
Direct-voice mediums are very rare today; however, there are a few. Below, I feature three notable examples from the last 100 years: Flint, French, and Rickard.
Leslie Flint official website
The following information is derived from the official website:
"I think I can safely say that I am the most tested medium this country has ever produced... I have been boxed up, tied up, sealed up, gagged, bound and held, and still the voices have come to speak their message of life eternal."
"I am a medium, I have a rare gift known as the independent direct voice. I do not speak in trance, I need no trumpets or other paraphernalia. The voices of the dead speak directly to their friends or relatives and are located in a space a little above my head and slightly to one side of me.They are objective voices which my sitters can record on their own tape recorders to play later in the privacy of their own homes. Sometimes those who speak from beyond the grave achieve only a whisper, hoarse and strain, at other times they speak clearly and fluently in voices recognizably their own during life..."
Some of the more ludicrous explanations put forward by some of these so called researchers included suggestions the voices were not real but rather the result of some hypnotic power accompanied by mass hallucinations. This was later disproved when a throat microphone was attached to the throat of Leslie Flint during a sitting such that the slightest sound made through his larynx would be magnified enormously, while the researchers continuously observed him at the same time through an infrared telescope. When Leslie Flint proved them wrong yet again, the best suggestion the researchers could come up with is that he must have the ability to talk through his stomach.
One impartial, open-minded expert who did investigate Leslie Flint very thoroughly indeed was Dr. William R. Bennett, professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University in New York City. As engineers are usually regarded as highly practical and level-headed people, his evidence was widely regarded to be of particular value. Professor Bennett had this to say of his own personal experience during a Leslie Flint sitting:
“My experience with Mr. Flint is first hand; I have heard the independent voices. Furthermore, modern investigation techniques, not available in earlier tests corroborate previous conclusions by indicating the voices are not his. But to be thorough, one should consider the possibility of live accomplices. This suggestion became untenable to me during his visit to New York in September 1970, when, in an impromptu séance at my apartment, the same voices not only appeared, but took part in conversations with the guests.”
On Mr. Flint's website, you will find taped conversations with over 500 afterlife entities. I have listened to many of these, and allow me to offer this. Most of the persons contacted, or coming through, in my opinion, were somewhat immature and selfishly oriented. I heard a lot of, "It's a really good place over here, but I wouldn't want to rock the boat, I don't ask too many questions, I'm just having a good time lolling around." People have liberty to do that - until they tire of narrow interests and want more out of life.
I would say to you, above all things, if you want to discover truth, avoid men of power and position!
But, among the many Flint recordings, there were a small number of spirit-persons, two or three, who deeply impressed me with their wisdom and spirituality. The best of the lot is Elizabeth Fry.
She was a social reformer in England in the 1800s. See her bio on Wikipedia. And she still is doing her best to further the common good. How inspiring! You'll want to hear Elizabeth's taped interview, but I offer the most salient points here:
There is, in a sense, organization here [on the other side] -- there is a feeling that everything is in its place, but there is no conscious organization here… there is always the realization of greater possibilities… because nothing is static here, everything has the opportunity for change; and when a person begins to seek, begins to change in themselves, begins to desire things of a better order, so, automatically, gradually, they will find those things – it’s all a state of being, a state of mind. Every existence in which one might find himself is a state of mind, a state of awareness, a consciousness…
There are no actual leaders [here] as such – we have an organization which is so subtle and yet so natural – because, a person here, for instance, does not, in a sense, ‘give orders’; we have groups of souls who do special work – but we all realize, automatically, within ourselves, what our part is, what work we have to do; and we realize that we are all interwoven, one with another – I think it is [that] we are all very conscious of this oneness of spirit. Here, no one glories in being a leader – whereas in your world [in various organizations] you do get this sort of glorification of the individual [leader]; the first thing a person must learn here, if they are to progress, is to lose this idea of self-importance.
Those who are really progressed on this side never, never, give that impression -- because it is not even in their nature to appear, or want to appear, important. Everything that we talk about, everything that we do, is done in a complete love, in a complete harmony, one with another. No one wants to override another person; all of our influences for good are [done] in love; and therefore we don’t have, on this side, organization, as such. We don’t recognize leaders, in the sense that you do…
Christ himself had no intention, no desire, to found any religious organization. This is completely, absolutely, a man-made thing - which over the centuries has misled mankind; and, indeed, I think it is pretty obvious, that if you analyze the whole of Christ’s teaching, you will find that he was the most humble of souls; that he had no desire to form any kind of an organization; he chose his disciples among the most ordinary of men; he did not try to dictate; he did not suggest, in the sense that some people assume that he dictated that they should do this or do that – he gave them, completely and absolutely, free will -- free will to choose the path that they should follow.
I think that people will only recognize … what Christ really was, when they begin to discount a lot of untoward creeds and dogmas, tacked on over the centuries by men who desired power and position – I would say to you, above all things, if you want to discover truth, avoid men of power and position, because … [they desire] power and position because of their material perception of things - you cannot, surely, build a truly spiritual realization of God on something which is of a material conception – God is not found, in a sense, in buildings or places … God is found within one’s soul, within one’s inner consciousness”
I find Elizabeth's words extremely moving. And I look forward to working with her or others like her. If you do not feel the same inner promptings after reading her words, "then," as my German grandmother might say, "I can't help you!" [smile]
Emily S. French
Mrs. French seems not to have an official site. A favorite book outlining her work is "The French Revelation," by N. Riley Heagerty.
Also, see this webpage for a summary of her life's work.
Michael Tymn wrote an article about French's joint efforts with attorney Edward Randall.
The Voices That Converted A Skeptical Lawyer
Sometime in 1892, Edward C. Randall, a prominent Buffalo, New York trial lawyer and businessman, was asked by a friend to accompany him on a visit to Emily S. French, a Rochester woman who, Randall (below) was told, had strange powers and received messages from spirits. “This was an unexplored world to me,” Randall wrote. “I went, and found there two others, both men of national reputation. We sat in a dark room for two hours, and heard what purported to be voices, though they were only faint whispers. We were not at all satisfied, but could not condemn, because we did not understand…We did not then believe that the whispers came from the great beyond, but, mystified, we determined to know what they were.”
Over the next 20 years, until Mrs. French’s death in 1912, at age 80, Randall would sit with her more than 700 times. “In my investigations, covering many years, in the room in my own home devoted to such work, thousands of men whom I have known personally have talked with me, using their own tongues. I have recognized their voices; they have recalled and related countless facts and incidents of their daily life and have proved beyond question their identity.”
Emily French (below) was primarily a direct-voice medium. Not to be confused with trance-voice mediumship, in which the spirit takes over the body of the medium and speaks through her vocal cords and mouth, the direct-voice method involves the spirit borrowing a psychic substance, usually referred to as ectoplasm, from the medium and sometimes from the sitters, to form vocal organs. They then use this artificial larynx to speak. The voices are usually soft and require a trumpet or cone for amplification, although the voices sometimes come through loud enough that a trumpet is not required. The voices usually emanate several feet above the medium. Skeptics claimed that such mediums were expert ventriloquists, but rigid testing ruled this out with Mrs. French and other credible direct-voice mediums.
“Each voice has individuality,” Randall explained. “When new spirits come for the first time and take on the condition of vocalization, there is often a similarity in tone quality, but this soon passes away, as they grow accustomed to using their voices in this way. The voices of those accustomed to speak never change, and are easily recognized. There is no similarity of thought or words.” Randall further mentioned that the strength of the voices varies greatly, much as they do in earth life.
After satisfying himself that Mrs. French was a genuine medium and that he was hearing from “spirit people,” including his mother and father, Randall turned to asking the spirit people questions about the afterlife. “Hundreds, at my invitation, have participated in the work and with me have heard different voices with different tones, different thoughts, different personalities, and at times different foreign languages,” Randall went on.
a booming voice that might fill a lecture hall
In Randall’s book “Frontiers Of The Afterlife” he comments on the different kinds of voices that were heard:
“The strength of the voices varies greatly. One of our group always speaks with sufficient volume to fill easily a great auditorium, and his lectures ring through the whole house. Another, whom I have in mind, always comes with great courtesy, is careful in speech and considerate; but his voice, while very distinct, has no great volume. The voice of another, who was very near to me in earth life, is as clear, strong and natural as in the days when we discussed this philosophy, or walked in the forest about the cabin, trying to come in touch with the principle of life; and since his going we have talked as much, and with as great freedom, as in the latter years before his going.”
Skeptics claim that direct-voice mediums must be expert ventriloquists. Strict testing controls, however, ruled out this possibility; but, even common sense informs us here. Mrs. French was quite aged and frail, with no ability to fill the house with booming voices.
"I was able to do this work, because of the assistance of Emily S. French, then the world's finest voice psychic, who gave the latter years of her life to this work and to me, without money and without price. She was so deaf that she seldom heard the spirit voices, and during the latter years frail and blind; but in her presence the dead spoke, and all within sound of spirit voices could hear as well as I could, and hundreds at my invitation did so."
Randall was told that a spirit engineer must magnetize his room before he and the others present could hear their voices, and that it was easier for those more advanced to reach them (the communicating spirits) than it was for them to communicate with those on the earth plane.
Speaking with Dr. David Hossack, who had been in spirit life more than a century, Randall asked about the existence of a spirit body. In reply, Hossack said:
“There is an inner, etheric body, composed of minute particles, of such substance that it can, and does, pass into spirit life. Your outer bodies are too gross and material to effect the change. The inner body is but the mind, the thought, the soul of the person. It is in the semblance of the material body, but whether beautiful or ugly, strong or weak, depends upon the inner life of the person to whom belongs that particular spark of the great radiance called life, or God.
“Some there be who build a fair body, and some there be who come into this life with a body so mis-shapen and sickly it takes much effort to effect an upright, clean one. They all come with bodies naturally, as all things have minds, after one fashion or another; but the conditions of these bodies are very different. Naturally, the mind, being the reality of man, is that which lives on – beautiful or disfigured by good or evil thoughts, as the case may be. The only comfort is that every one has opportunity to work out the change in himself, and sometimes those changes are very rapid.”
Another spirit communicated that he was very particular about his wearing apparel when in earth life, but he found himself in “rags” when he arrived in the spirit world. Moreover, his body was distorted. It took him some time, as time goes in his realm, to realize that it was his spirit body and not his physical body, apparently not recognizing that he was “dead.” He further explained that it took him a long time to develop and restore his spirit body.
As Randall came to understand it, the physical body is simply the “housing” or “garment” worn by the etheric or spirit body, which is so refined, intense, and so high in vibration that physical eyes cannot see it.
When physical death occurs, the etheric body leaves the physical body and inhabits one of the spiritual planes, depending on the type of moral life he or she has led.
Randall asked communicating spirits what took place at the time of death. His father, who died at age 76, told him that he felt a weakness come upon him as he was in his horse and buggy headed for a village some seven miles distant. As he arrived at his destination, the weakness increased but he was able to walk in the house and sit down. Then he saw his deceased wife standing there and smiling.
“Startled, I arose to my feet, and my last earthly sensation was falling – and as I now know, I did pitch forward on my face. I do not recall striking the floor, or pain in my death change. When the separation came, I was like one in sleep.
“The next I recall was awaking in the same room, with the leader of your spirit group holding my hand, helping me up. I had heard his wonderful voice many times when I was privileged to come into your work, but it took me some little time to realize what happened to me. I saw my body on the floor. This startled me, for the body I then had was to my sight and touch identical with the one lying so quiet. I saw people hurrying, and heard the anxious talk, not yet comprehending my separation from the physical body.”
Randall was told that in the afterlife everything in the physical world is a poor imitation of what is found in the spirit world, that all things exist first in the spirit world before they can be produced in the physical world. One spirit explained it:
“We have often told you, and tell you now, that your earth and all things of your earth have their exact counterparts in the spirit world, just as real, just as tangible, just as substantial, to the inhabitants of this world, as material things and forms are to the inhabitants in mortal form upon your earth.”
One spirit likened the difference between his plane and the earth plane as much like the difference between living on land and living in the sea, pointing out that people on land could move with greater freedom than life that exists in the oceans because the material conditions become higher in vibration as we ascend the scales of motion, or, to look at it from the other end, there is more resistance the lower we descend. Numerous other spirits referred to the planes or spheres in the afterlife and said that there were seven of them. One had this to say:
“I know what we all know – that there are seven spheres. I have just reached the third. Sometimes a spirit can speak from his sphere to the next higher, as you do while in the body, but only in the same way. I mean that there is no mingling together. When a spirit goes from one sphere to another, it is quite unlike dissolution in earth life. He is warned that the change is near and has time to put his mind into a higher plane of thought so that he will be prepared to meet the new life. He says farewell to all his friends. They join in a general thanksgiving and celebration, all congratulating and helping him on his way by some strong uplifting thoughts. When the time comes, he is put quietly to sleep, with the thought dominant in his mind that he is to make the change. When he awakes, he is in his new home in the next higher sphere.”
The communicating spirit went on to say that each new change is more difficult to explain than the preceding one, but, as she understood it, each one is essentially a higher life in which one better prepares him- or herself for advancement. She (the spirit) added that she had not been to the fourth sphere and only knows of higher spheres based on what teachers from those spheres have told her.
“In the lower sphere, one sees such suffering among those still earth-bound. They, too, are busy working out past faults and they are often heavy-hearted. Generally speaking, the first sphere is the one where restitution must be made, and where the final wrenching away from earth conditions takes place. The second is one of instruction, a period of study, during which the spirit gains knowledge of self and natural laws. The third is one of teaching those in the lower spheres, as I have said. The fourth sphere is one of trial and temptation. The fifth is truth, where error and falsehood are unknown. In the sixth, all is harmony. In the seventh, the spirits reach the plane of exaltations and become one with the great spirit that rules the universe.”
But she was quick to add that she had been informed that in becoming one with the great spirit in the seventh sphere that we do not lose our individuality or personality. However, it was all well beyond her comprehension or appreciation and therefore she could add no more.
Randall wrote that he heard from many earthbound spirits, those in lowest plane or sphere, or the one nearest the earth plane. He came to understand that this sphere has various stages. “There are some in total darkness, others in something of a twilight zone between the spiritual and physical worlds. Some are in a condition of slumber, some in a deep sleep. The majority know that they have left the body, but there are still many who are not conscious of the fact that they are “dead.” While missionary spirits from higher spheres attempt to enlighten spirits in the dark world, these lower spirits are no more open to truth and enlightenment than they were while in the flesh.
During one sitting, Randall heard from an old business acquaintance who had died at the age of 70 some five years earlier. While considered a good citizen, the man, referred to as Mr. W— by Randall, had the reputation of being a “pennypincher.” Both Mrs. French and a visiting clairvoyant could see the man and described his appearance, which fit Randall’s recollection of him. More evidential, however, was the man’s voice, which Randall clearly recognized. Mr. W— told Randall that he was trapped in a wall of money and that it shuts out the light.
Another spirit friend explained to Randall that each sphere is divided into six circles or societies in which congenial people live together based upon the law of attractions. While the members of the circles generally think alike, there are differences, much like there are in different societies on the earth plane. Each society has teachers from higher spheres who impart knowledge, which is in turn transmitted to those on lower spheres.
Still another spirit told Randall that they do not get their light from the sun, but rather it is radiated from the atoms. He explained that their light is very different from sun light and that sun light is grosser than theirs. Their light is soft, radiant and much more brilliant.
Many other spirit messages were recorded by Randall’s stenographer, including:
“At dissolution, each sense is quickened, and all that fills space is visible to the spiritual senses and tangible to spiritual touch and brain. Space must then take form, substance and reality – a world of thought, boundless and endless.”
“Dissolution is a step in evolution, and involves no mental change, adding nothing, subtracting nothing, but simply increasing the opportunities for other observation and learning.”
“The light we have is obtained from the action of our minds on the atmosphere. We think light, and there is light. That is why people who come over in evil conditions are in the dark; their minds are not competent to produce light enough for them to see.”
“There is greater intensity of light as we go up through the spheres, which comes from the blending of the more spiritual minds.”
“Our life is merely the condition of mind which each one has. We create images in thought, and have the reality before us, just as tangible as your houses and buildings are to you. You do not have any conception of the great power and force there is, or may be, in thought. It dominates all conditions and makes us what we are. One who realizes this may control his destiny.”
“Make yourself attuned to the most harmonious vibrations, so that your impulses will be good, and then obey them. They are apt to be the suggestions of a fellow soul working out his salvation.”
“Life would be but a futile thing and all effort useless, if the future did not stretch before us, endless and unlimited in its possibilities.”
“The tendency of all life, wheresoever found or howsoever clothed, is to perfect, improve, increase and extend its sphere of usefulness. This is evolution. It is a fact, a law and not a theory, and its possibilities are as boundless as the imagination.”
“Power is born of desire; no man can earnestly desire to live upon a high plane and yet be compelled to live upon a low plane, since we live in that state of development that we create for ourselves.”
“There are sounds that our ears have never heard; there is light that our physical eyes can never see; there is an invisible world filled with people that few have ever imagined.”
Photos courtesy of N. Riley Heagerty. See his website and information on how to order his book about the mediumship of Emily French at http://thefrenchrevelation.wordpress.com/
Edward Randall’s book, Frontiers of the Afterlife, is available from White Crow Books.
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
W.F. (Rick) Rickard
Official website of Mr. Rickard's primary work
Editor's note: James Webster serves as trustee of what is known as "The Abu Trust." Direct-voice medium, Rick Rickards, over several years, brought through from the other side an ancient Egyptian with the name of "Abu" (father). CD recordings have been made of Abu's teachings. Here is my assessment: I count the "Abu teachings" among the most helpful. As I stated above, many of the "newcomers to Summerland" who offered messages via Leslie Flint struck me as quite naive and self-centered. Upon crossing over, we do not instantly become spiritual giants; this was evident in many of the Flint recordings. However, Abu's discourses are different. His teachings are in line and consonant with much of the best I've come to know; but also, and more importantly, his discourses reflect a certain respect for the dignity of what it means to be human.
James sent this email to me of his personal experience with Rick:
Glad to hear Wayne, that you have been moved all over again by the Abu teachings and discussions and intend to feature them on your site. With all the time of listening, reading and study of them for many years, they really have been at the centre of my understanding and fulfilment from a most reliable and trusted source.
Abu and all the communicators came through Rick whilst he was in trance and unaware of anything. It was Direct Voice mediumship. The spirit entities used his larynx when entering his body with their own voice as near [similarity] it was on earth. This took place in normal daylight conditions with no music or singing. Leslie Flint’s mediumship was Independent Direct Voice – he sat in the dark but remained fully awake consciously whilst a spirit voice-box was setup in the ether some few feet away from him in the circle. The voices came through this box . I knew Leslie Flint and sat twice with him. Both Rick and Leslie were fine and rare type mediums. I don’t think there is much or anything between the two types DV and IDV. Content is of course of prime importance as it is with all communication. No, there was no physical mediumship involved.
The following is from the website:
The Abu Trust was formed in 1990 to promote the profound spiritual teachings of Abu. Many others also communicated from the spirit planes through the fine mediumship of W. F. Rickard, to the Norman Hunt Circles over many years.
The Abu Trust is non-profit making and those who work for it, do so in love and service without payment. Reward comes in the form of satisfaction when those suffering through bereavement, fear of death and dying, and the many other earthly troubles are helped through the love and wisdom of these teachings.
The Norman Hunt Circle
The 'Circle' led by Norman Hunt sat at Tunbridge Wells, Kent for 15 years. Approximately 12 dedicated members met regularly at least twice a week and tape recordings were made during the sittings from which a number of copies were produced from the originals. Rescue work, healing and communication with loved ones took place, but it is the profound teachings and spiritual philosophy which make up the main subject matter on the CDs being issued for general circulation.
The medium W.F. Rickard (Walter Frederick Rickard known affectionately as Rick), was a most remarkable and rare type of instrument. He was able to 'vacate' his physical body in a state of deep trance, to enable the many entities to manifest through him in such way as to identify themselves.
Rick had no idea or recollections of what transpired whilst in trance. To him it just seemed that he had been asleep. His mediumship is described in some of the very interesting CDs on the subject (The Abu CDs).
During the first two years, before suitable tape recorders were available, the communications had to be hand written and fortunately one of the sitters was Frances Attlee, a niece of the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. She was a fine stenographer and made very accurate copies of the proceedings.
The principal teacher was ABU (meaning Father), a name agreed and affectionately known to the sitters. His earthly incarnation allegedly took place 3500 years ago in Egypt, during which time he was a member of the priesthood. He relates his own very moving story and experiences on a remarkable tape now available from The Abu Trust.
Abu comes from a spirit realm far removed from the Earth plane often referred to as the fourth plane or fourth heaven. His teaching is a message of love and he conveys a warmth of love, compassion, tolerance and understanding.
Alfred, the circle doorkeeper, also features on the tapes. On earth he had been a London cockney from the East End and died (passed over) in 1914 whilst serving as a British soldier in France during the war. Another marvelous, interesting, humorous and moving tape to listen to as he recounts his experiences. Alf was residing on a plane closer to the Earth than Abu.
Others coming through to communicate included Mr. Andrews (a chemist concerned with the workings of the circle, the mediumship and communication); Dr. Chang (helped with healing); Bartholomew (a physicist); Black Hawk (a North American Indian when on Earth was involved with rescue work).
Amongst the many subjects covered and questions asked, some are quite complex. Yet always the answers flow with no hesitation in a most intelligent, logical and understandable stream. The listener soon realises the truly spiritual quality.
Editor's last word:
Why aren’t there more first-class mediums today as there were a hundred years ago?
There’s a reason for this, today’s paucity of sensitive spirits. Imagine life before distracting cellphones, computers, televisions, or even electricity. People often spent their evenings in quiet solitude, and this would sometimes lead to fully-blossomed mediumship.
Michael Tymn writes:
In her 1946 book, You are Psychic, Sophia Williams, whose direct-voice mediumship is described by researcher Hamlin Garland in his book The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (available from White Crow Books), wrote that it took her four years of sitting quietly each day while learning the art of relaxation and complete detachment before she began to develop as a medium. Williams went on to explain that the first spirit voice coming through her mediumship was weak and difficult to understand, but the voices became clearer as she continued to sit in silence. She added that the voices came through in many different languages. She stressed the need to achieve absolute relaxation as a first step and then sit in a state of expectancy with the mind cleared of all conscious thoughts and memories. “Conscious thought must be avoided – consciously trying not to think is thinking,” she pointed out.