Most often, we focus on methods and techniques to connect our Earthly plane to the spirit world. We don’t realize that the spirits must work to connect from their side as well.
In the book, The Blue Island, William T. Stead describes his process of reaching Earth from the spirt world. He first brings up the issue of time. On earth we are acutely conscious of the passage of time. The Earth’s orbit around the sun creates years. Its rotation divides those years into days and nights. People have subsequently divided days into hours, minutes and seconds.
He informs the reader that the spirit world has no such passage of time. “We have no dark sky,” he said. “only a light one, and we have, for the sake of the present illustration, an unlimited supply of energy. We do break up our time, but it is not your breaking, therefore we can seldom be accurate in telling when a thing did, or when a thing will, happen.”
William Stead wrote of many buildings being present in the part of the spirit world in which he resided. One of those buildings was used to establish communications with the Earth. He said that it was a well-organized, very business-like place. There were hundreds of people there trying to get messages back home to loved ones. He referred to the messages as “heart calls.”
William said he expected the building to be equipped with different instruments to aid their communications but found none. “It was only the human element,” he wrote. Connection was achieved by thought.
On his first visit to the building, he had a long conversation with a mundane looking man. He was told that they had a system of travelers who worked very closely with the Earth. “They had the power of sensing people who could and would be used for this work at the other end.”
William visited the building frequently, trying to get messages home by more than one means. Sometimes he succeeded; sometimes he did not. “The spirit has much to do himself with the success or failure attained; a great deal depends upon him. Every time I succeeded I helped another.” When he did fail, he was given unlimited help by those working there.
He first successful communication was with a group of people holding a séance. “I had to visualize myself among these people in the flesh. Imagine I was standing there in the flesh, in the center of them, and then imagine myself still there with a strong light thrown upon me….Create a picture.”
The first time, none of his family were present and he made only his face visible to them. Later on, William Stead became adept at communication, and through spirit writing, gave us the information contain in the book, The Blue Island.
Reference: Pardoe Woodman & Estelle Stead. The Blue Island. London 1922.
Charles Leadbeater, a member of the Theosophical Society, was the first person to popularize the concept of auras. In his book, Man Visible and Invisible, published in 1903, he illustrated the human aura at various stages of spiritual evolution (one drawing at left). In 1910, he incorporated chakras into his book, The Inner Life, by combining old teachings with his own ideas. Leadbeater’s concepts were later adopted by others such as Rudolf Steiner and Edgar Cayce.
Spiritualists define the aura as a type of electromagnetic energy that radiates from all physical objects. Living beings manifest a personal energy field that reflects their own unique spiritual vibration. As a physical body and spirit change, so does the aura. Some people are born with the ability to see or sense auras without training. Others may learn to develop the ability. It is through clairvoyance that a medium attunes to the spiritual vibrations of others.
Clairsentience can be used to sense a person’s aura either in the physical plane or Spirit World. It may be on an emotional level, where one is determining their state of feeling. Are they happy or sad, or sensitive or aloof? Their mental energy can also be determined. This is the way their physical mind works. Are they intelligent or easily confused, or paranoid or trusting? The condition of the physical body can be determined as well. A healthy body will radiate a completely different energy when it is sick. A well-trained medium will be able to detect subtle changes in the physical body that are not typically noticeable.
Since the aura is a type of energy, specific vibrations are sensed as colors by the human mind. One does not have to see the color, or even have working vision, to perceive the vibrations of the aura. Different colors may have different meanings, but there are basic guidelines one can follow:
RED: Passion or anger, energy and self-confidence, materialism.
ORANGE: Pride, the need for excitement, personal power and control.
YELLOW: Bright and cheery, intellectual and creative, sense of humor.
GREEN: Competitive and individualistic, processes ideas and information quickly, natural healers.
BLUE: Loving and nurturing, balanced, inspirational, noble, intuitive.
PURPLE: Wise, self-mastery, highly evolved and intuitive.
Other colors include pink (loving and gentle), white (pure and spiritual), and gray (dark thoughts).
There are many exercises you can try to develop your ability to sense auras. I’ll describe one you can do at home. Position yourself a few feet away from something that is dark in color, like a curtain or piece of furniture. Hold your hands up, palms facing you, fingers slightly apart. Stare at your hands, letting your eyes go unfocused. After a while, you’ll see a subtle glow around your hands. Once you see that, keep working. You will next see energy radiating from the fingertips. It will flow like wisps of smoke connecting the fingers of one hand to the fingers of the other. That is your aura.
Once you identify your own aura, you can try your ability on others, with their permission of course. It will take time and patience to develop your skills. Keep in mind the colors listed above while practicing. Once a person is adept at sensing the auras of physical persons, the same technique can be used to identify spirit auras. Colors will enable you to describe the spirit in more detail when conducting readings for a client.
William James was born in 1842 in Albany, NY to Swedenborgian theologian Henry James and Mary Robertson Walsh. William was one of five siblings, including novelist, Henry James. All of William’s ancestors were Protestant farmers, merchants, and/or traders, well educated, and highly involved with the church. William’s grandfather went from being a poor immigrant to one of the richest men in New York. After his death, his family inherited his fortune.
William trained as a physician and taught anatomy at Harvard but was more interested in psychology. He married Alice Howe Gibbens in 1878 and they had 5 children. During that time, William wrote on many subjects and became well known as a philosopher, historian, and psychologist. He taught one of the first psychology courses in America and established a school of psychology known as pragmatism.
William was interested in two schools of thought: associationism and spiritualism. An associationist believes that each experience leads to another in a chain of events. On the other hand, a spiritualist believes that events are attributed to the soul. William recommended using the parts of each philosophy that made the most sense. He concluded that each person had a soul in a spiritual universe that directed the person to perform certain behaviors in the physical world.
William was a founding member and vice president of the American Society for Psychical Research when it began in 1884. It is the oldest psychical research organization in the United and maintains offices and a library in New York City. As the chair for the society, he was one of many scientists who convened to investigate the paranormal. The work made him cynical because they identified many frauds, but that did not keep him from believing in the supernatural.
In 1885, the year after the death of his young son, William had his first sitting with medium Leonora Piper. He was convinced that Piper knew things she could only have discovered by supernatural means. He sat for multiple sessions in in her darkened parlor, taking notes as she presented information that only a mother might know. After evaluating sixty-nine reports of Piper’s mediumship, he concluded that Piper was using telepathy, not speaking to the spirit world. William was sure that the existence of telepathy would be proven in the future.
William retired from Harvard in 1907 but continued to write and lecture. Afflicted with cardiac pain, he sailed to Europe in 1910 to try experimental treatments, but they were unsuccessful. His heart failed later that year while he was at home in Chocorua, New Hampshire.
Croce, Paul Jerome (1995) Science and Religion in the Era of William James vol. 1. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Harnett, Emily (2019) “William James and the Spiritualist’s Phone” Lapham’s Quarterly. https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/william-james-and-spiritualists-phone
Haynes, Renée (1982) The Society for Psychical Research, 1882-1982: A History. London: Macdonald & Co.
Alfred Tennyson was born in 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England to George Clayton Tennyson, an Anglican clergyman, and Elizabeth Fytche. Alfred was part of a large family, the fourth son of twelve, and his father was highly involved in their education. The family seemed plagued with serious health issues, including alcoholism and epilepsy. Despite that, Alfred and the older boys began writing poetry in their teens and published a collection of poems when Alfred was only 17. He left home in 1827 to join his brothers at Trinity College, Cambridge, more to escape from his family than to pursue academic work.
By the time his volume of Poems was published in 1833, Alfred was an established poet. The same year, Alfred’s good friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, was struck down by a sudden stroke and died. Alfred’s poetry showed a shift away from his childhood Anglican Evangelical upbringing. In In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849), he wrote, “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.” In “Locksley Hall Sixty Years After,” Tennyson wrote, “Christian love among the churches look’d the twin of heathen hate.”
By 1850, Alfred earned the title of poet laureate. He married the poet, Emily Sellwood, a friend since childhood, and they had two sons, Hallam (1852), and Lionel (1854). Alfred had been interested in the occult all his life. He told his children ghost stories and attempted to contact his father by sleeping in his bed shortly after his death. He was interested in Spiritualism as early as 1854 and was looking for assurance of immortality. Emily wrote in her journal that “The Longfellows and A.T. talked much about spiritualism,” but she was against the practice.
Despite his wife’s objections, Alfred became part of the Metaphysical Society in 1869 with James Knowles, Thomas Huxley, Henry Sidgwick, and others. He attended meetings sporadically, listening but not debating. He attended his first séance in 1869 with Dr. James Acworth and his wife (a medium), where they witnessed table tipping.
Queen Victoria named Alfred the Baron Tennyson in 1884, but that did not protect him from more tragic death. Two years later, his younger son, Lionel, fell ill in India and while sailing home to England died in the Red Sea. After the death of his son, Alfred attended a séance with Laura Trowbridge. The table rapping spelled out letters, but he never received direct contact from his son. Alfred increased his search for the proof of immortality. His poetry of this period is filled with that desperation.
In 1888, Alfred and A.D. Coleridge experimented with table rapping and tipping. In a letter, Tennyson said, “I observed the smile of incredulity playing over your face, but there really is something in spiritualism.” On October 6, 1892, Alfred died at midnight, his finger holding open a volume of Shakespeare and his family surrounding the bed.
Elliott, Philip (1979) “Tennyson and Spiritualism.” Tennyson Research Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 3 (NOVEMBER 1979), pp. 89-100. Tennyson Society
Ratcliffe, Carleen L. M. (2016) The Classical and the Christian: Tennyson’s Grief and Spiritual Shift from “The Lotos-Eaters” to “Ulysses.” Thesis. University of South Carolina
William Ewart Gladstone was born in Liverpool in 1809, the son of Anne and John Gladstone, a merchant from Scotland who made the family’s fortune in the corn trade. Gladstone was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. His family was highly religious, and he originally wanted to be ordained in the Church of England. Instead, he went into politics. He became a member of the House of Commons in 1832 as part of the Conservative Party. He served as both minister and chancellor. In 1839 he married Catherine Glynne and they had eight children.
Over the years he developed his own political doctrine which became known as Gladstonian liberalism. He was popular with the working class and called “The People’s William.” In 1868, Gladstone became prime minister for the first time. He formed his second ministry in 1880 and a third in 1886. He formed his last government in 1892 at the age of 82. He left Parliament in 1895 and died three years later.
Gladstone was known as a controversial figure. His religious views grew more liberal over time, and he was more tolerant of Nonconformists and Roman Catholics. In the early 1850s, he voted to remove restrictions on Jews and opposed the anti-Catholic Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. He moved from being a strict evangelical to a liberal catholic. It is not surprising that he also dabbled in psychical research and seances.
Gladstone attended his first séance run by medium William Eglinton in 1884. Eglinton used slate writing to answer questions. After the story about the event broke in the news, Gladstone downplayed the seance, but he still attended gatherings and associated with Spiritualists. He may have stayed away from actual seances to avoid the bad press, but that did not keep him from reading on the subject. His library contained books on theosophy, spiritualism, spirit rapping, astrology, palmistry, mesmerism, and more.
Gladstone corresponded with many practicing spiritualists. John Francis Hunt sent him communications from the late President Lincoln. Madame Du Guet sent him “autographs” from the spirit world. He also joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1885 and was founder of the Metaphysical Society which collected and shared knowledge of “mental and moral phenomena.”
Quinault, Roland & Roger Swift (2017) William Gladstone: New Studies and Perspectives Routledge, London
Windscheffel, R. (2006) “Politics, Religion and Text: W.E. Gladstone and Spiritualism.” Journal of Victorian Culture, 11(1).
Mary Brodie was born in England in 1842. In late 1860s, she secretly married her cousin Emmanuel Marshall. After the marriage, she attended the seances of her mother-in-law, Mrs. Marshall, an eminent London medium. She also acted on stage under the name, Madame Claire. Beginning in 1867 she worked as a direct voice medium for a spirit called John King. She was assisted by her niece and occasionally by her son. Her husband developed his talent as a spirit artist at this time.
Reports of her seances appeared in the press regularly. An early account was published in Outlines of Ten Years’ Investigations into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism by Thomas Barkas (1862). Some scoffed at her abilities, but Robert Bell, a dramatist who wrote for the Cornhill magazine, was convinced that the phenomena were genuine spirit manifestations.
Marshall’s popularity attracted the attention of Sir William Crookes and Alfred Russel Wallace. Crookes was studying the effects of sending an electric current through a gas in a sealed tube. In 1879, he invented the cathode ray tube. Wallace was a naturalist and philosopher who developed many concurrent ideas with Charles Darwin. Both men and their families were introduced to mediumship and Spiritualism through Mary Marshall’s seances.
Francis Wallace Sims in a letter wrote, “I am very pleased John was convinced, & converted, but it will take some time to feel the ground firm under his feet, you know how long it takes to be perfectly sure of one’s own apparent beliefs. — I have never doubted since the first two names written under Mrs. Marshall’s table, our first séance together…”
Marshall produced many manifestations, including table tipping and levitation, raps on tables and other parts of the room, knotting handkerchiefs under the table-leaf, and writing on glass, similar to slate-writing used later by many mediums. Under her stage name, Madame Claire, she produced spiritual manifestations in daylight, including table levitation and other objects, changes in the weight of objects, rapping at the table floor and other parts of a room, and accordion playing.
In February 1876, she traveled to St. Petersburg at the invitation of A.N. Aksakov, a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg and nephew of famous writer and philosopher S.T. Akaskov. She held a séance during their writers’ conference and continued to stay and hold more seances for the rest of the winter. After her visit to Russia, she returned to England to resume her acting career. Unfortunately, her theater burned down in 1881. She returned to mediumship and died three years later at the age of forty-two.
Barkas, Thomas P. (1862) Outlines of Ten Years’ Investigations into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism. London.
Vinitsky, Ilya (2009) Ghostly Paradoxes: Modern Spiritualism and Russian Culture in the Age of Realism. University of Toronto Press.
Wallace letter https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP400