A sample from the beginning of the book "A Walk on the Wild Side" Gary William's encounter with the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who he met in 1965 which started him on the Psychic path, he was about 15 when it happened.
Carl Jung Opens The Door To The Psychic
“What I have to tell about the hereafter, and about life after death, consists entirely of memories, of images in which I have lived and of the thoughts which have buffeted me. These memories in a way also underlie my works; for the latter are fundamentally nothing but attempts ever renewed, to give an answer to the question of the interplay between the “here” and the “hereafter”. Yet I have never written expressly about a life after death; for then I would have had to document my ideas, and I have no way of doing that. Be that as it may, I would like to state my ideas now.”
Carl Jung Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
I started out as a child. I came from a middle class southern Mason Dixon line Virginia family. My father was a newspaper advertising executive, my mother was a housewife. But underneath that veneer was the desire to break out all the time. My childhood was not filled with provocative psychic experiences. In fact, it wasn´t until high school that a milestone occurred in my life that became so memorable that I have carried it with me all my life. My high school biology teacher, Elba Hubbard and her husband John started taking the class on a series of field trips. The purpose, no doubt, was to broaden our view of life. Our first field trip was to the zoo. I was particularly enchanted with the giraffes. With their long necks they seemed to be able to see further than any of us and for that reason I admired them.
Our second field trip was to a Spiritualist Church. For the unenlightened Spiritualism is a religion founded on the principles that there is no death and that the dead can communicate with the living. The church was a modest frame building in an unassuming section of Norfolk, Virginia, the city in which I was born. The service we attended on a Sunday night consisted of the singing of some hymns, the reading of some Bible passages and a short sermon. Then the medium stood up and began delivering messages to people in the audience which we were assured came from our loved ones in the Spirit World. She went from one to another passing messages to this person and that person until she finally came to me.
“I have a man here,” she said, “who died of cancer and he tells me he is your uncle.” My uncle, Lud Garthe, my father´s sisters husband had indeed died of cancer the previous year. “He assures me that this is the first of many contacts and that you will go on to explore this subject with a much wider vision.” The evidential bit was that I only had one uncle and he had indeed died of cancer. The second part I could not validate but it indeed proved to be true considering I have spent the rest of my life investigating this subject.
Then, as we were going out the door of the church, we noticed a blackboard on which was written a notice. “Materialisation séance next Friday. “Medium is Warren Smith”. Mrs Hubbard immediately signed us up. I had no idea what I was in for but as we were filling in the form a rather stout lad approached us and told us that we first must have attended a trumpet séance before we could attend the materialisation séance. I had no idea what a trumpet séance was and for that matter no idea what a materilaisation séance was either. I later discovered that both were forms of something called physical mediumship in which a substance called ectoplasm is drawn from the medium while in a trance. This ectoplasm is then moulded into the form of a deceased loved one in the case of materialisation, or into a replica of the human voice box in the case of the trumpet séance, the trumpet being a cylindrical cone which is said to help amplify the sound.
At this point I should point out the fact that physical mediumship was rife with fraud and for this reason there are hardly any physical mediums around today. Leslie Flint, who I will speak of in a later chapter, was the last genuine direct voice medium. He died in 1994. The reason for so much fraud is simply that this type of mediumship usually takes place in darkness or in a red light, white light supposedly harming the mediumistic process.
In the first two decades of legitimate psychical research scandals involving physical mediumship were legion. The number of frauds in the field produced the unfortunate effect of suggesting that scientists who looked upon any form of psychic phenomena as genuine were indulging in wishful thinking.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century debunkers had a field-day exposing the Fox sisters in America who had produced raps by cracking their toes, and the Italian medium Eusapia Palladini in Britain who fooled no one. In her presence guitars played by themselves, bells rang and lights would appear. Her cheating was so clumsy that all but the most ardent Spiritualists denounced her. Even the notorious Douglas Home was called up and accused on more than one occasion of producing fraudulent phenomena. Home was supposed to have floated out of a second-storey building in London in the presence of witnesses, one of whom was Lord Adare. Later debunkers accused Home of having homosexual relations with Adare.
Then in 1880, Florence Cook was caught impersonating a spirit she called “Marie”. In the presence of not-so-clever sitters in the séance room, “Marie” walked around, seemingly lifelike in every respect. Too lifelike, in fact, for when she passed by the chair of Sir George Sitwell, father of Edith, he grabbed her and held on tight until someone could turn on the light. Then it was discovered that “Marie” was Florence Cook in her underwear. Similarly, in 1873, a man by the name of Volkman had grabbed Florence while she was pretending to materialise a figure who she called “Katie King”. Years later, through the influence of William Crookes, the discoverer of thallium, Florence was cleared. But the damage had been done. These preposterous scandals had the unfortunate effect of spreading the impression that most mediums were such frauds that no sane person would waste time on them.
However on that Friday night in October 1966 I was unaware of any of these things and all I had to go on was what I was told. Namely that the medium would go into a trance and materialised spirits would appear. The room in which we sat was in fact brilliantly lit in a strong red light, so much so that it was possible to see everyone sitting in the room including their facial features. We sat in a circle around the room and I would estimate that there were about twenty people present. After a while the medium, Warren Smith, entered the room. He told us his name and then went straight to the far end of the room and sat in a chair behind some curtains which I later learned was called the cabinet. Then a woman came up and stood before us and gave some instructions. She said we were never to touch the materialisations unless permission was given to do so. Touching the materialisations was about the last thing I wanted to do, in fact getting out of the room was foremost on my mind. I was actually sitting in front of the only door in the room, the only way in and the only way out of that room. I need also mention that the floor was solid concrete. There were no concealed trap doors in the floor as some debunkers have suggested years later. Fraud seemed impossible.
After a while we were told to sing. The explanation for this was that singing created power to build the ectoplasmic figures. And so we sang. The song we sang was “East side, West side, all the around the town, the sidewalks of New York”. We sang this song over and over for about twenty minutes until I began to see a smoky substance begin to pour out from behind the curtain where the medium was sitting. This substance slowly but surely built up into the solid form of a woman. To avoid any possibility of misinterpretation let me emphatically state that this woman did not walk out from behind the curtains. There is no way it could have been rigged. And I was sitting in front of the only door. When the figure became totally solid the woman announced that her name was Firefly and that she was the medium´s Guide. The next thing she did was pull back the curtains to show us that the medium, Warren Smith, was slumped over in his chair, apparently asleep. She then proceeded to walk around the room and speak to every one of us saying she would do her best to try and bring our loved ones in Spirit. At that point I started thinking that there really wasn´t anyone who was dead who I wanted to see.
Fifty years later it becomes clear that there is nothing frightening about speaking with someone who is deceased. The spookiness has derived from Hollywood movies where people sit around a table holding hands and someone muttering in a trance. This scenario was portrayed in the film Séance On a Wet Afternoon. My experience was nothing like this. As a matter of fact my experiences with psychic phenomena of all kinds over the years runs counter to what most people believe is true or would like to believe because they have done no research of their own on the subject and have had no first hand experiences. But at sixteen years of age all I could think about was getting out of that room.
This séance lasted well over three hours. During that time I saw little children materialise solid and run up to their parents who were sitting in the circle. Facial features were easily distinguishable. The most astonishing thing about this exhibition was the way that the materialised figures went away. They literally sank down and disappeared into the cement floor. This was an impossibility but it happened. Perhaps because of my age or perhaps because of the strangeness of the situation I was visibly frightened throughout the entire proceedings. In fact, I was so frightened that I had my eyes closed. I was dreading the moment when my turn would come and it finally came!
The cabinet attendant lady (the woman who was telling me all along not to be frightened) called me to the middle of the room. I stood in the middle of the room and waited and in about a minute my uncle, Lud Garthe, was standing there just as real as in life. This was too much. I nearly fainted dead away! I began a hasty retreat back to my chair. And he, like all the others, disappeared right down into the cement floor. But there was “more to come”, only this wasn´t the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I no sooner got back to my seat when I was called back and told that there was another person, a man who had only recently passed away who wanted to come and speak to me and this was a very important person. It was the medium´s Guide, Firefly, who told me this.
Once again the smoky substance started to build up. Within minutes I recognized the features of a man who looked to be about seventy-five years old. The man came forward and took my hand and shook it. Then he said, “My name is Carl Jung. I am in your band”. What was this supposed to mean? “I am in your band”. What kind of band? “I am one of your guides,” he explained. “Each and every person on the earth has a guide or two and I am in your band of guides and helpers.
Let me assure you that when you are older you will delve deeply into these mysteries of life and death and make many discoveries on your own. For now just know that I am around you.” I was dazed. I still found it hard to believe that this man was standing solid in front of me. So I took a piece of Wrigley´s chewing gum out of my coat pocket and handed it to him saying, “If you´re real, take this and crumple it up and hand it back to me” which he did. I had that stick of chewing gum for three years. I had no idea who Carl Jung was. I had never heard of him. But when I went to school on Monday I went and got a book out of the library and saw his picture and it was that man! There is no way it could have been faked.
Little did I know at the time of the Warren Smith séance that Carl Jung was deeply interested in life after death during his earth life and in fact was a Spiritualist so it is deeply convincing that he would associate himself with this subject. Carl Jung´s doctoral dissertation was not medical research but the investigation of a medium, Helene Preiswerk. His mother, Emile was born into a family that regularly practised Spiritualism, the daughter of a man who held weekly séances with his dead first wife who instructed young Emile to stand behind his chair to discourage ghosts. Jung showed a willingness to take Spiritualism seriously at this formative stage in his life and the early experiences with Helene Preiswerk suggest a credence of Spiritualism as possible evidence of the supernatural. The last chapter of his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections is entitled, “Life After Death”.
Freud and Jung were probably the most famous psychologists in history so why me? This I cannot answer. I know it happened. I was there. On our way home from the séance my teacher tried her best to convince me that it was mass hallucination. She could not bring herself to believe in an afterlife. I felt sorry for her and still do to this day even though she and her husband are both long dead. Years later, when I was in my twenties, I went out to their house and discussed the incident. “Why would Carl Jung come to see you?” she asked. She believed that the only messages about life after death were the messages in the Bible and there was no point in looking further.
My teacher was like the attitude of the SETI organization which ufologist Stanton Friedman calls Silly Effort To Investigate. The letters actually stand for Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence but I like Silly Effort To Investigate better. The organization is using radio telescopes to listen for messages from outer space. But as Stan points out the problem is that the aliens are already here so why would they be sending out messages? And why would they be using outdated technology such as radio signals? Just like my teacher who believed that any current evidence was impossible and that only information which was received two thousand years ago is valid. But as Stanton Friedman has pointed out one can only draw serious conclusions by doing research on your own. People who have done no research or only armchair research are not entitled to an opinion Friedman says. And I agree.
How can we get past the bias that if a person accepts these kinds of phenomena as valid that he is also likely to believe in “six impossible things before breakfast” as Lewis Carroll writes in Alice Through the Looking Glass? I see nothing wrong with healthy scepticism. But there is a difference between being a sceptic and being a debunker. The debunker has such a bias against the subject that even in the face of undeniable evidence he would not admit to its truth. I do not believe that a sceptical attitude contributes in any way to blocking or inhibiting psychic phenomena. A particularly good example of this is found in the case of Sir Osbert Sitwell. Sitwell´s father was a well-known sceptic, and one of his escapades in “unmasking a medium” illustrates the point. His son tells how, just before the First World War, he and some brother officers went to see a famous palmist in London. The woman looked at their hands, and was obviously deeply disturbed. Sitwell went back to her when the others had gone, and asked her what was the matter. She told him: “I could see nothing in their hands”. A few months later, the war started, and these officers were dead.
I visited other Spiritualist churches following the Warren Smith séance but I never again was able to attend a materialisation séance. This kind of mediumship had declined drastically by the end of the 1960s. Probably the most famous materialisation medium was Ethel Post Parrish who held court at a Spiritualist camp called Camp Silver Belle. She became an extremely prominent American physical medium. Her phases of direct voice and materialisation attracted world-wide attention. In 1927 Ethel Post Parrish opened a church and established a school for Spiritualist ministers and the development of mediums in Miami, Florida. To escape the intense heat and humidity of Florida´s summers, in 1932 she opened a summer camp and school for mediumship in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. She named it Camp Silver Belle after her Indian guide. During her life she submitted to numerous tests to prove the truth of her mediumship. A series of infa-red photographs were taken at 50 second intervals of one of her séances which was witnessed by eighty-one people.
Another extremely well documented materialisation medium was Alec Harris from Wales. Harris moved to South Africa where he conducted the bulk of his seances and readings. Harris was known for his ability to materialise more than one figure at a time which many believed ruled out fraud. Spirit forms showed themselves in good red light and held sustained conversations, after having walked about ten feet from the cabinet. At one séance thirty forms materialised during a two and a half hour séance. Harris never charged for his services, deriving his income from government work. A sitter named Alec Hewitt attended one of Harris´s séances. He hung his overcoat in the hall and came into the room. The door was locked and a table was placed against it to reassure Alec Hewitt that nobody could enter. As soon as the light was extinguished something was dropped into Mr. Hewitt´s lap. When the lights were eventually put on he found his keys in his lap. He was puzzled because he had left them in the pocket of his overcoat in the hall. Yet, there they were, transported through the locked and barricaded door. This left him with much to think about and no physical explanation to account for it.
Helen Duncan was another famous materialisation medium. She practiced in the 1930´s and 1940´s. She was tried under the Witchcraft Act and sent to prison. She used paper mache dolls suspended from coat hangers. Following the Warren Smith séance in 1966 I was off seeking new psychic adventures. The name of Edgar Cayce loomed large in my search. Cayce (pronounced Kay-see) was an American psychic who possessed the ability to answer questions on subjects as varied as healing, reincarnation, wars, Atlantis and future events while in a trance. These answers came to be known as “life readings” and were delivered to individuals while Cayce was hypnotized. This ability gave him the nickname “The Sleeping Prophet”. Cayce founded a non-profit organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment at 67th and Atlantic avenues in Virginia Beach.
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