Friday, October 28, 2011

A Random Shot May Strike A Vulnerable Spot (Spiritualist Society of Great Britain)

      “The stronghold of the Spiritualist Society of Great Britain is a large house at 33 Belgrave Square, whose busy counter, where appointments are made, fees paid, and pamphlets bought, resembles the desk of a good small hotel  with a clientele of middle-aged ladies.  It is possible to attend individual sessions, sittings for private groups, and, for a nominal sum, public meetings, some of them double-headers -- two spiritualists for the price of one.  (These are usually scheduled for one evening during each week; phone BEL 3351).


        How effective any one spiritualist appears to be depends, as it does in any religion, on one’s willingness to be convinced.  A random shot may strike a vulnerable spot, and the eager responses will give an astute professional much to work with.  For one observer, ready to fall into devotion, it will be an uncanny, shaking experience; for another, a demonstration of observation.  All the practitoners shed an atmosphere of optimism, leaving the whole group, particularly those selected for a “message,” with a promise of better things to come.  One practitioner does it with her attractive, mobile face, deep-set, glowing eyes, and large, restless movements., exuding a sense of energetic  well-being that is of itself an advertisement for the health-giving properties of spiritualism.  Another, a large confident lady, stands as Pallas Athena:  stolid wisdom and massive power.  All of them, no matter what their strengths, add to that the strength of prayer and assurance, constantly reiterated, that loved ones “who have gone beyond” (“death” is a word that is never used ) are standing by and always will be, with support and love. “

The two plates show the before and after photographs of one of Zollner's [1]  experiments demonstrating the movement of objects by unknown means.

A Spirit Photograph of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle purporting to show the spirit of his son, Kingsley, who was killed in World War I.

Note:  The text here is excerpted from Kate Simon's "uncommon guidebook" entitled "Kate Simon's London Places and Pleasures" (G.P. Putnam's & Sons, New York, 1968).  Ms. Simon, who passed away in 1990, was a wonderful travel writer.  It doesn't matter whether specific  pieces of information in her books are now "out of date;" good books are never "out of date."  

Several years ago, after 55 years of residence at 33 Belgrave Square, the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain relocated to 11 Belgrave Road, London, near Victoria Station.  The upkeep costs on an 175-year old mansion which they did not own in one of London's grandest locations simply proved to be too high, and prudently and hopefully these seers, heirs to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and  other British spiritualists whose exploits and fervor light the imagination, made plans for the long future

[1]  From Johann Carl Friederich Zollner: Transcendental Physics: An Account of Experimental Investigations From The Scientific Treatises of Johann Carl Friederich Zollner, Leipzig, 1882Zollner (1834–1882), a Professor of Astrophysics at Leipzig, embarked on his study of spiritualism after becoming interested in the fourth dimension of space and meeting William Crookes in 1875 (to whom this book is dedicated). This book describes experiments he performed in 1877 with Henry Slade, an American medium. On the run from the authorities in England after being convicted of fraud, Slade convinced Zollner and his fellow séance participants (all respected German scientists) of his skills through the appearance of handwriting on slates, moving of objects and clairvoyance. Zollner believed that these supernatural phenomena were caused by either Slade or spirits working in the fourth dimension. He backed up his claims through reference to work undertaken on geometrical axioms and the fourth dimension by Hermann von Helmholtz. Zollner's work caused the first major controversy in modern German occultism. Significantly, the issues it raised surrounding imagination and the fourth dimension attracted the attention of figures such as Henri Poincare and Ludwig Wittgenstein.