Posted on 14 August 2017, 8:37
Anyone relying on popular Internet references for information on various renowned mediums from the past will likely conclude that they were all a bunch of fakes. The debunkers have taken control of many of the popular encyclopedic sites and have obviously made it their mission to discredit, disparage, or destroy all mediums. They make out the researchers who concluded that the mediums were genuine to have been dupes and rely on pseudoskeptics for their biographical sketches of the mediums.
Fortunately, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in England is making an effort to offer the true known facts about mediumship and other psychic phenomena with its Psi Encyclopedia. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a dozen or more biographies and subjects at this site, including one just recently posted, the “Book Tests.”
Conducted by Charles Drayton Thomas, (below) a Wesleyan minister and a member of the SPR, the book tests are considered some of the very best evidence for spirit communication. “The primary purpose of these efforts was said [by my father] to be a demonstration that spirit people were able to do that for which telepathy from human minds could not account, a demonstration calculated to clarify the evidence already existing for the authorship of their communication,” Thomas wrote in 1922.
Thomas was especially interested in the popular theory that the medium was reading the mind of the sitter in providing information. He said that it was his father, John Thomas, also a Wesleyan minister, who, posthumously, gave him the idea of the book tests. It was during a sitting with Gladys Osborne Leonard, (below) a renowned British medium, early in 1917, that the father and son on different sides of the veil began collaborating in the experiments.
The senior Thomas, who died in 1903, told his son that the tests had been devised by others in a more advanced sphere than his and the idea passed on to him. At the time, Drayton Thomas (he went by his middle name) had had over 100 sittings with Mrs. Leonard, although later in his career that number exceeded 500. He mentioned that the tests were secondary to other business which he and his father discussed and that his father continually gave other evidence of his own identity.
Drayton Thomas would arrange a notebook on a table with a lighted lamp. Leonard would take a seat several feet from him and after two or three minutes of silence she would go into a trance. Suddenly, in a clear and distinct voice, Feda, Leonard’s spirit control, would take over Leonard’s body and begin using her speech mechanism while relaying messages from the senior Thomas and others in the spirit world. There was no similarity between Leonard’s voice and that of Feda, who spoke like a young girl. Moreover, Feda spoke with an accent and had frequent lapses of grammar.
The idea behind the book tests was to communicate information gleaned by the father from a book in the son’s extensive library. For example, in one of the earliest experiments, the father told the son to go to the lowest shelf and take the sixth book from the left. On page 149, three-quarters down, he would find a word conveying the meaning of falling back or stumbling. When the younger Thomas arrived home that evening after his sitting with Mrs. Leonard, he went to the book and place on the page, where he found the words, “…to whom a crucified Messiah was an insuperable stumbling-block.”
The father explained to the son, through Feda, that he was able to get the “appropriate spirit of the passage” much easier than he could the actual words. However, over a period of 18 months experimentation, he found himself able to pick up more and more words and numbers, gradually shifting from “sensing” to “clairvoyance.” It was made abundantly clear by the father that he was experimenting on his side as much as his son was on the material side. The debunkers don’t seem to have the ability to grasp all that, however, If the wording was not exact, it had to be, in their limited minds, fraudulent.
It was certain that Mrs. Leonard had never visited Thomas’ house and knew nothing of the library of books in it. Realizing, however, that his subconscious might somehow have recorded such detailed information in the book when he read it years before as well as the exact location of the book in his library, Thomas decided to experiment with books in a friend’s house. He informed his father of the plan so that the father knew where to search. In one of the tests there, Feda told Thomas that on page 2 of the second book from the right on a particular shelf, he would find a reference to sea or ocean. She added that the discarnate Thomas was not sure which, because he got the idea and not the words. When Drayton Thomas pulled the book from the shelf of his friend’s house, he read, “A first-rate seaman, grown old between sky and ocean.”
In another experiment, Drayton Thomas was told to look at page 9 where he would find a reference to changing of colors. Upon opening this book, Thomas found, “Along the northern horizon the sky suddenly changes from light blue to a dark lead colour.” In still another test at his home, Feda told Drayton Thomas to go to a book at a certain point on a shelf and he would find words looking like “A-sh-ill-ee” on the cover. Feda explained that she was giving the sound but not the correct spelling. When Thomas arrived home, he went to the exact spot indicated by Feda and found a book authored by Mrs. Ashley Carus-Wilson.
In yet another test, Thomas was first reminded by Feda of some strange knockings in his room recently and then was directed to the top of page 17 of a book on the second shelf, fifth from the left end. Thomas found the book to be a volume of Shakespeare and the words, “I will not answer thee with words, but blows.”
Over a period of about two years, the father and son researchers carried out 348 tests. Of those, 242 were deemed good, 46 indefinite, and 60 failures. The discarnate Thomas explained the failures as his inability to get the idea through the mind of the medium or the medium’s mind somehow distorting the message. However, if you check the references by the debunkers, all you’ll read about is the failures or the so-called researchers who didn’t get results as good as Thomas did. For more on the book tests, go to https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/book-tests
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.