We are publishing a couple of pamphlets from the Spirit World - part of a large collection bought from a major collector who was trying to disprove it all. He was particularly incensed by the spoon-bending Uri Geller and worked back from there. There were books on psychics, seances, the paranormal, spirit messages from famous dead authors like Doyle and Wilde, the inevitable Madame Blavatsky, afterlife experiences, many books with titles like 'There is no Death' and messages from the ether, heaven and hell. This book is a guide to running a psychic event or meeting. There is much practical advice- e.g. ' Do not have a heavy meal immediately prior to a séance.' The author has the same name as the famous post-romantic writer but is known to librarians as Leigh Hunt, 'writer on Spiritualism.' It was published in London in 1937.
No attempt is made in this little brochure to cover the whole ground of mediumistic activity, either in connection with development or with the various phases of phenomena. I have merely indicated by the hints given what I consider to be the best methods for investigators to adopt when holding a circle for psychic unfoldment. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the whole subject calls for careful and serious consideration and investigation, and, therefore, at least a fair acquaintance with the literature of Spiritualism and Psychic Research is necessary if the inquirer is to pursue his quest with the hope of achieving any full measure of success.
The Library of the London Spiritualist Alliance offers exceptional opportunities in this connection, and I would also strongly recommend a perusal of the L.S.A. Booklets, which are sold at 1/- each, affording, as they do, a comprehensive insight into the subject of Spiritualism and its phenomenaL.H.
Start a sitting with prayer. I suggest the Lord's Prayer, for then all sitters can participate. Sometimes, however, a mediumistic person will feel an inspirational impulse to offer up a special prayer; yet, even then, I would advise that the Lord's Prayer be also repeated, as all can voice that prayer in unison.
The use of a table is recommended where only two or three sitters are concerned–a round table by preference–particularly at the beginning of investigation, and the placing of the hands lightly upon the table, palms downward, is advisable. The linking of the circle by joining of hands is recommended at the start of a sitting; this may be relinquished as the sitting proceeds, if more agreeable, unless the guide of the circle requests otherwise.
Sitters should sit in an easy and comfortable position, but the clasping of hands, folding of arms, or folding of knees should be avoided.
Communication may first be attempted by the spirit-operators moving the table, and answers to questions which need only be " Yes," " Doubtful," or "No" may be obtained by the simple code of three movements for "Yes," two for " Doubtful" and one for "No." Any longer communication may be obtained by the tilting of the table–or by rapsto the letters required, in response to the repeating of the alphabet by a sitter. This, however, is rather a laborious method, and is likely to be unsatisfactory at times, so that endeavour should be made to develop any other phases of mediumship which may be indicated, such as clairvoyance and clairaudience–phases that can be much helped by spirit-guides' co-operation. In this connection, it is important that (even with regard to table movements) it should be ascertained which of the which of the sitters is the Medium, so that due attention may be given to any development which may follow.
The term "physical phenomena" is best used, I think, to cover all phenomena extraneous to the Medium's personality, ranging from the movements of a table to the "Independent Voice," and full-form materialisation. All other mediumistic phenomena may therefore be regarded as coming under the head of Mental Mediumship, including Automatic Writing. The latter needs very careful to be at all satisfactory, it being difficult to eliminate–even to the same degree as in other phenomena–the action of the conscious and subconscious mind of the Medium, which is so likely to " colour " the communications received.
I cannot, therefore, recommend the beginner to develop this type of phenomena, unless he or she has a special urge in this direction. In that case, I would suggest sitting with one who has the gift well-developed, and who would, therefore, be able to judge and advise accordingly. Neither can I, from personal experience, recommend the use of any of the several instruments devised for psychic communication, such as Planchette, Ouija, etc. I have known occasions when they have been of assistance in development, but I would caution the investigator against using any of these instruments at irregular intervals, as thereby undesirable conditions may be brought about.
With regard to physical phenomena, should any advanced stages be indicated at a sitting, such as the attempt to speak, with or without the aid of a trumpet, or exteriorisation of luminous ectoplasm from a sitter's body (the first stage of materialisation), it is important to be sure that the spirit co-operator is well acquainted with the modus operandi of such phenomena. The conductor of the circle will also find it of much advantage if he has witnessed such phenomena, and thus become somewhat acquainted with what is likely to occur.
If it is possible to invite a developed physical or mental Medium to at least one sitting of the circle, I would recommend that this be done, as help and advice is thereby often obtained that is suitable to the particular Circle concerned.
It is necessary for one person in a Circle to take charge of the sittings. Any questions that may be asked of the intelligencies communicating may thus be deputed to that person, who should also let spirit-operators know that he (or she) is the head of the Circle. As soon as possible the name of the co-operator who, from the spirit side of life, will take charge of the Circle, should be ascertained, thus enabling orderly development to take place.
I do not recommend sitting more than once or twice a week, unless by special request, which may now and again be made by an experienced and reliable spirit co-operator who may wish to suggest an extra sitting for some specific purpose.
One to one-and-a-half hours is generally quite long enough for any sitting, and this period should not be exceeded in any Circle devoted to development, except by special request of a reliable spirit-guide.
The number of sitters at a Circle should not exceed ten ; a lesser number is sometimes found be best, but three is the minimum I would advise.
A fair proportion of each sex is generally considered best at sittings, but where this cannot be arranged I have found the difficulty is often overcome by alternating sitters of a positive temperament with those who are less positive. I would, however, suggest that a Circle of five should have one, if not two, male sitters and a Circle of ten, three or four if possible.
It may be found that the spirit co-operator will arrange the sitters at any one séance : indeed, where possible, it is wise to ask at the beginning of a sitting whether the sitters are suitably arranged. (This, of course, only applies where communication has been definitely established).
It is not an, unusual thing to find that one of the sitters in a Circle, who may nevertheless be in active personal sympathy with the other sitters in the general activities of life, does not blend fully enough in psychic experiments. Should this be found to be the case, such a person should retire from the sittings, clearly realising that in no wise does this non-adaptability reflect upon companionship and friendship in the general walks of life.
A cordial warm-hearted feeling, one to another, and sympathetic feelings in general, should characterise sitters at a Circle, and the elimination, as far as possible, of "the cares that infest the day" should be a sine qua non where enquirers are sitting for investigation or development, as indeed it should be at any seance.
(The foregoing need not in any way lessen the consideration of all that happens at a sitting from being viewed in the light of reason and kindly judgement. Criticism should be postponed until after a sitting).
I would recommend sitting in a subdued light for the first few times–if not always. Bright white light, besides being somewhat of a deterrent through the increased vibration thus produced, is likely to interfere with that measure of concentration which it is advisable to maintain throughout a sitting.
Do not concentrate attention too fixedly upon the expected manifestations. Engage in cheerful, but not frivolous conversation, avoiding dispute or argument. The singing of suitable hymns or songs, in unison, also aids conditions. Some Circles may find a gramophone or musical box agreeable, but that must, of course, be left to any one Circle to decide for themselves.
I have found that the best period of the day to hold a séance is in the evening. Do not sit when feeling unduly fatigued, nor continue a sitting far into the night, as such procedure is likely to interfere with sleep and the performance of daily duties, etc.
Do not have a heavy meal immediately prior to a séance.
Do not let the séance-room be too warm–a moderate temperature is always advisable. When sitting for physical phenomena, heavy draperies in the room are inadvisable, and it is advantageous for the seating accommodation to be of the cane or rush seat variety.
Sitters in the early stages of investigation should not yield to control by a spirit person until the Circle is well established and experience is gained, and also full confidence in the co-operators on the spirit side of life is justified. It may be found at times that a sitter will feel “overshadowed” by an influence which almost compels him to speak–a kind of inspirational mediumship being thus indicated. In such a case the sitter concerned can judge for himself the quality of the influence felt; and if it does not commend itself to him he need not submit to it; he must always bear in mind that co-operation between sitter and spirit is what is aimed at, and not submission against one's own will to the influence of another. In this connection it is well to remind investigators that psychic influences do not necessarily proceed from any one individual only, be he discarnate or incarnate; experience and general awareness will enable the sitter to determine the nature of such influences.
Should sitters find that unsuitable or unreliable communications are being made or attempted, patient efforts to make matters clear should be tried, and if failure results, it is well to bring the sitting to a close after arranging to sit again another day and time.
In the course of developing any psychic gift, a cardinal factor to be observed should be the cultivation of the ability to control the gift, so that no intrusion shall be made at any time at which it is not desirable. Investigators should ever remember the injunction which it is so necessary to act upon at séances : "Under all circumstances preserve an even mind."
The following extract from an article, "Advice on Psychic Development,” which appeared in Light of October 5th, 1934, is particularly worthy of attention in this connection :–
The best protection a developing Medium can have against undesirable influences is the well-balanced exercise of his own will-power. It is possible for anyone to protect himself from undesirable pressure by visualising himself as surrounded by an external hard transparent shell about three feet from his body. Through this shell, if strongly visualised, it is impossible for the psychic's forces to be drawn upon, and external antagonistic forces cannot penetrate. On the other hand, it will be found that beneficial forces are not debarred from producing their appropriate influence. This protective shell, or envelope, can be created by thought, and equally can it be destroyed by doubts and fears. It is one of those intangible realities which prove the truth of their intrinsic being if they are used with confidence and understanding.
A reverential attitude of mind should always prevail at sittings, but sitters are particularly recommended to preserve that naturalness and brightness of demeanour which contributes so much to the success of any séance. Avoid undue levity, but let a buoyancy of spirit add its full quota to the conditions of the séance-room.
Lastly–at every sitting commend all to the Higher Powers–to God and His Angels—seek to serve and to help, and be helped.