"On the Edge of the Etheric" - by Arthur Findlay
This is an excerpt from a speech based on one of the principles which Spiritualists read from their
hymnal every Sunday morning. I recently read two books which I think beautifully illustrate that
principle. The first book is: "On the Edge of the Etheric." The author is Arthur Findlay.
I'll let you guess for a while as to which principle I refer...
A businessman in 1918 named Arthur Findlay spent long hours in his wife's hospital room in Glasgow,
Scotland during her recuperation from surgery. One Sunday afternoon he felt he needed to stretch
his legs and get some air, so he went out for a walk in the neighborhood while his wife napped.
He came to a Spiritualist Church, read the sign in front, saw the service was about to begin and decided
to step inside and see what it was like. He hadn't known there was such a denomination. He had only
recently read a few pages of a book about Spiritualism that had been given his wife by a friend.
But he had thrown it aside as too fantastic for serious thought.
When the service ended that day, he went to the speaker and said, "Do you really expect me to believe what
you said tonight? It may have gone down with some simple-minded people who were listening, but do you
expect a rational thinker to accept it as truth? Can you prove it to me?" He said he often had accosted
parsons with the same challenge and they always had said that was where faith came in.
He was surprised when the Spiritualist speaker said all claims by Spiritualists could be proved. "How?""
he inquired. "By going to a medium," the speaker answered. "Can you take me to one?" Findlay asked.
He arranged to go with the speaker, Duncan McPherson, to a seance that was held every Monday
evening in the home of a direct voice medium named John Sloan. When he and the speaker arrived
the following evening, the guests were chatting comfortably and a man was playing the harmonium.
No introductions were made. All were complete strangers to him. They were all from
the working class, kindly, decent people who greeted him cordially.
The man at the harmonium (who turned out to be John Sloan), after saying it was time to start, turned off the light.
Hymns were played while they all sang, then a loud male voice spoke in front of Findlay's right-hand neighbor,
and began to speak intimately with the woman indicating knowledge of everything that had happened to her
since they had last spoken and ending with love and the promise to be back again at the next seance.
For three hours this kind of thing went on all around the circle. Thirty different voices spoke, men's,
women's, and children's voices, all discussing intimate family matters, giving advice about how to
handle certain of these situations, comforting and giving hope to the sitters. Arthur Findlay says,
"These voices gave their names, their correct earth addresses, and spoke to the right people,
who recognized them, and referred to intimate family affairs. Never once was a mistake made,
and the darkness really increased the evidence in favor of the genuineness of the whole proceedings.
Difficult as it would be to remember everyone's departed friends and relations and their family histories
in the light," Findlay pointed out, "it would be doubly so in the dark, because fifteen people were present
and the medium would have to remember exactly where each was sitting. The voice on each occasion
spoke in front of the person who recognized the name, the earth address, and the details which were given."
"It was all very mystifying, and the fact that sometimes two or three voices spoke at once did not make
it less so. There must be accomplices," Findlay thought, "and not only that but a regular system of
gathering information. How it could be done in so thorough a manner was the question, but yet, on the
other hand, how could the dead speak? Even if they lived again their physical vocal organs were
certainly buried, and how could the atmosphere be vibrated without a physical bodily instrument? No,
nothing so impossible could happen. I had heard of frauds and impostors, but never of the
dead speaking, so the balance was certainly in favour of fraud."
So ran his thoughts he says, "that memorable night of the 20th September 1918, when suddenly a voice
spoke in front of me. I felt scared. A man sitting next to me said, 'Someone wants to speak to you,
friend.' Findlay said, 'Yes, who are you?'... 'Your father, Robert Downie Findlay,' was the
answer. Then his father proceeded to speak of a private affair known only to Findlay,
his father and one other deceased person."
His father said, "I am very sorry I did not take you into my business. I would have liked to do so but
Kidston opposed it. If you had been with me it would have greatly eased my life, as I found business
a great strain on me. David Kidston is standing beside me and would also like to talk to you about
this matter." The one claiming to be Kidston then said, "I am David Kidston. I was wrong
opposing your coming into our office. I am sorry I did it but now you need have no
regrets. I am glad to get that off my chest at last."
Findlay says: "Now David Kidston was the name of the only other man who knew about this private affair,
"He was my father's partner, and he was my partner after my father's death. Only the three of us
knew about this...and here I was in a Glasgow artisan's house, a complete stranger to everyone,
being told by two different voices about something known only to me and two dead men...
and the voices which spoke claimed to be the voices of these two men.
Findlay writes: "No spy system, however thorough, no impersonation by the medium or by
any accomplices could be responsible for this, and, moreover, I was an entire stranger to
everyone present. I did not give my name when I entered the room, I knew no one in
that room, and no one knew me or anything about me."
The man who took Findlay to John Sloan's that night, Mr. McPherson, died a few years later
and visited a seance in Manchester which Findlay's brother was attending. McPherson, now a spirit
entity, told his brother that he had taken Findlay to his first seance after they met at the Scottish mediums'
Union Church in Regent Street. His brother said the entity was mistaken, that the Spiritualist
Church Findlay had attended first was really the Holland Street Spiritualist Church.
Duncan McPherson, told Findlay's brother to ask Findlay where they had met. His brother later did
ask Findlay where he had first met McPherson and was told that the entity was correct--the Scottish
mediums' Union Church. As Findlay points out, the entity claiming to be McPherson should
have produced the same place name as Findlay's brother if telepathy were the
means by which mediums made correct guesses.
Findlay says, "The Direct Voice is the highest psychical phenomenon yet discovered, and it is the
most convincing besides being quite the most wonderful. All the other discoveries of man fade into
insignificance when compared with this great discovery, the discovery of a direct method of
communication between us and the departed, not by raps or taps, but by the most intimate of all
forms of communication, the human voice...Often I, and others with me, heard two and sometimes
three separate voices of different tone and personality speaking to those present at one and the
same time, on different topics, known only to the person addressed, while the medium was either talking
on some other subject to the person sitting next him, or I had my ear close up to his
mouth and not a sound was proceeding from his lips."
Findlay inquired at the end of his first seance how much he should pay Sloan and was told Mr. Sloan
would be offended if he so much as mentioned money. Sloan held his seances as a duty. Although
Findlay at first suspected some sort of fraud, he finally could not see how a working man making only
a few pounds a week on which to support his family could afford the time and money to search out
all the information he'd need to give to people week after week in his three-hour seances.
He asked if he could come back and was cordially invited to return. Findlay did return and tested the
genuineness of the medium's gift by being allowed to control Sloan's hands during the seances and
sit close enough to him to put his ear up to Sloan's lips to try to determine if any sounds came
from them. No sound ever did in the twelve years he continued this practice.
Findlay was told over the years much about the conditions in the afterlife and many friends
came to speak to him after they died, always bringing personal information to him which nobody
present except Findlay could have known. Over the many years he sat with Sloan in seances and
tested him, Findlay either wrote out pages of description of each seance or had a stenographer
present who took all of it down in shorthand. From these pages and pages of description, he wrote
a series of books about John Sloan and his remarkable direct voice mediumship.
He finally became convinced that things were just as his visitors from the Spirit Side of Life
told him they were and that they continued to live a life much like ours, except that they lacked a
physical body, but that their spirit body was much the same as their former physical body had been.
After many instructional sittings in which Findlay was allowed to ask endless questions about life on the
other side he came to believe that the means by which they come back to visit with us in seance rooms
was by gathering ectoplasm from both the medium and the sitters and fashioning a tube to carry the
vibrational potential of the medium's larynx to those attempting to communicate from spirit side. This
ectoplasmic tube he learned was then used by those from spirit side to speak with the sitters.
The spirit entities, by lowering their vibrations can vibrate our atmosphere
to speak to us and to hear us when we reply.
Trumpets were also placed in the middle of the floor and flew about in the dark, touching people on
the head, the nose, the shoulders, knees, arms, and these could be ordered by the sitters to touch
them whenever and wherever they were directed. Findlay and several friends sat in the dark after one
seance and tried to move the trumpet around and cleanly, gently tap each other on various parts of the
body at will, and found it to be almost impossible to do. How can humans maneuver an unwieldy
trumpet with such finesse in the darkness? They can't, of course. There were also the little
phosphorescent-looking lights that the Spirit people maneuvered around the room which sitters
would try to capture as they passed by them, only to see the lights veer off and away
from the would-be captors just in time to make their escape.
(Scroll down to continue...)
And now I want to tell you about another direct voice medium, Leslie Flint, who held seances in England
from the 40s through the 60s. He wrote a wonderful book, "Voices in the Dark." Leslie Flint's seances
were every bit as impressive as the scotsman John Sloan's, producing the same kind of
evidential proof to his sitters that their deceased loved ones still lived.
Leslie Flint was tested by many researchers in England. In fact as he says, "I think I can safely
say I am the most tested medium this country has ever produced and, I will add, the medium most willing
to be tested whenever I have felt truth would be served by submitting to conditions imposed on me by
those I believed to be genuine researchers. 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 have given sittings
extempore in hotel rooms, in the houses of strangers, in foreign countries, in halls, theatres and
churches, often under conditions where it has been impossible to obtain complete darkness or when the
mental climate has been that of extreme scepticism or even downright hostility and still the voices have come."
During the many tests done by psychic researchers, his mouth was sealed with tape, a sitter on either
side of him held his hands, the researchers watched his every move through an infra-red telescope,
a throat microphone was wired to amplifiers so that any slightest sound made with his own larynx
would be magnified enormously. During these tests with infra-red light, the tube made of ectoplasm
that I mentioned earlier that forms the pathway for the vibrations of the medium's larynx
to be available for spirit entities was more than once seen by researchers
as they peered through the infra-red telescope.
Flint explains that the ectoplasm taken from sitters, is mixed with spirit-side chemicals, then shaped
by those on spirit side into a kind of mask which a spirit entity then steps into, coating his nose mouth,
throat and finally his spirit larynx with this substance. Then by lowering his vibrations sufficiently
to be able to vibrate our atmosphere, each can, in turn, talk to us directly.
A researcher in England named Brigadier Firebrace wrote to Mr. Flint after a test he had done with the medium:
"I well remember the test sitting I had with you and Drayton Thomas. At these sittings, during the seance
we had an infra-red telescope focused on you and you had a throat microphone round your throat.
There was an electronic expert present who watched the instruments which were attached to the
throat microphone. I can well remember that under these conditions we got the direct voice without
any indication on the instruments that it was registered by the throat microphone. But the voices
were fainter than on previous sittings I had had with you. An interesting point was on the final
occasion when with a voice speaking faintly the infra-red telescope suddenly fused (stopped working);
the voice immediately doubled in volume. This indicated to me that infra-red rays weaken mediumship
in some way. I must add you could not possibly have known that the infra-red telescope
was out of action. Altogether an impressive exhibition of mediumistic power."
Mr. Flint notes that he had thought at first that the tests would cause the sceptics to change their
views of life after death. But as years went on and he had passed test after test with flying colors he
learned that most of the so-called researchers were merely sceptics who had wanted to substantiate
their own prejudices. If the test results didn't support their pet theories, then they didn't bother to
announce the results to the public. He came to appreciate greatly the integrity of men like
Dr. Firestone and others who made it a point to announce the success of their tests of Flint.
It is displays and tests like these that have made believers in Spiritualism out of thousands of
people through the years. I, too, experienced a direct voice, or independent voice, seance many
years ago that was one of the most convincing experiences of my life. I, too, sat in the pitch-black
room and after I listened to others being addressed by spirit people who had come that night to
chat with their loved ones, a voice sounded in front of me and to the right side where my
husband sat. The voice pretended to be surprised that Jay didn't immediately recognize him,
announced himself to have been very important in Jay's life and said he knew
how Jay had gotten the initials J.C. when he was born.
Jay spoke with him and hesitantly said that he thought this might be the doctor who had brought
Jay into the world. The voice replied that Jay was correct and that because Jay had been the last baby
the doctor had delivered, he had hoped Jay's parents would name Jay after him. His name was John
Calvin Fulton and he wanted the new baby to be called John Calvin. Jay's parents had been reluctant
to give their child this name and hesitated for quite some time. Finally, they had compromised
and agreed to have the first initials of their baby's name be J.C.
There was absolutely nobody in this room other than Jay and myself who knew this story. I was astounded.
We had come to L.A. from the Midwest and although two of these people were acquaintances the rest
were complete strangers. I sat there hearing the voices and the quiet swishing sound of the trumpet
as it flew around the room touching first one and then another in the utter darkness and I knew
that I would never forget the evening that I experienced these things.
Then a voice spoke to me just as convincingly for me as my husband's experience with the doctor
had been for him. A voice spoke above my head and slightly to the side of me and the sound of
it was so unmistakably my Great Grandmother's that I could hardly believe my ears. She had
a voice that was so distinctive that it would have been difficult for anyone who had known her when
she was living to imitate her, much less someone who had never known her at all. I was astounded.
And her sense of humor was equally unique. She had been a Scot and rather gifted with second sight herself.
From the darkness she said to me, "Is that your husband there beside you?" I answered that it was. She replied
rather dourly, "Doesn't look like your husband." This was a reference to the fact that my first husband, whom
she had known on earth bore no resemblance to my second husband, Jay. I remember being surprised
that she could see him and thought it was both an amusing and educational way of pointing that
out. Then she continued to talk of things about the family sprinkling it all with the dry
wit that had been characteristic of her.
I imagine that some of you may have had some experience similar to this kind that may have started
you on the path to Spiritualism, just as Arthur Findlay's seance with John Sloan proved to his first step in
that direction. If you're anything like me, you probably would agree with Arthur Findlay when he says in
his book, "In concluding this, I wish to say with all the strength at my command that nothing is lost and
life is no exception. Communication between those now living in bodies covered with physical matter, and
those who have discarded their physical bodies is not only possible, but takes place under suitable conditions."
And of course, if you know the Spiritualist principles, you will realize by now that I have been speaking about this
principle, "We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact scientifically proven through Spiritualism."
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