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A Mediumship Mystery: Who's Sarah?

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A Mediumship Mystery: Who’s Sarah?

Posted on 27 September 2021, 8:31

When, in 1939, Charles J. Seymour, a British journalist, undertook an investigation of mediums, he expected to expose “the quackery” in the field.  As it turned out, however, he discovered that there were genuine mediums and ended up writing about them rather than the fakes.

One of the more interesting cases discussed by Seymour in his 1949 book, Behind the Seen, involved a woman named Sarah.  The first time it came through was on July 24, 1939 at a public sitting with a medium named Miller, who said a woman named Sarah was there for him.  Seymour responded that he could not think of anyone named Sarah in the spirit world.  He reasoned that Sarah is a pretty common name and that it could have been an attempt by the medium to simply fish for a name.  However, the name came through again and again with different mediums, 15 in all.

On August 3, 1939, he had a private sitting with medium Maude Bateman, who said, “I get for you the name Sarah.”  On October 1, 1939, medium Eileen Blaschke said, “Sarah is here.  She is helping you with your work, and I feel, has had a great influence on you for spiritual matters all your life.” At a public meeting on June 9, 1940, Grace Cooke said, “I have a message from Sarah.  She tells me that she has been close to you and has watched your progress all your life, and has noted with great satisfaction the efforts you have made.  She had no children of her own, but her wish was that she could have had a boy.  This is a very beautiful spirit, and she sends you a great deal of affection.”

The skeptic will ask why Sarah simply didn’t give her last name or her exact relationship with Seymour.  Seymour also wondered about that and eventually came to understand that most mediums, at least the clairvoyant types, rely on symbolic pictures for names.  In another book, he explained how the medium struggled to get a not so common name through.  In that case, the medium’s spirit control said she was being shown rice, but the name was not Rice.  She was shown more rice and even more rice, before the sitter realized that it was his old friend, Maurice (More-Rice). Generally, mediums report symbols for more common names, but most surnames are more difficult to symbolize. The clairaudient medium might hear the name, but it depends much on the degree of development by the medium.

“Sarah comes to greet you,” said a Miss Herbert at public meeting on December 22, 1940.  “She has a beautiful face; very fine eyes.”

“Sarah sends her love to you,” said medium Ethel Moss at a Sunday service on January 12, 1941.  She is a very sweet young person with blue-grey eyes.” More than two years later, on May 11, 1943, in a private sitting, Mary Burge said, “A Sarah, who says ‘They used to call me Sally…’ A good soul…in spirit a long time.” Still, Seymour shook his head.  The name Sally meant nothing to him, either.

“A Sarah for you, a very sweet lady,” said Eveline Canon at a public meeting on May 13, 1943. “Sarah is very much in your environment.  You get ‘hunches’ with her help,” said Olive Rutherford at a Sunday service on June 5, 1943. At a public meeting on February 19, 1944, Gertrude Rayner provided Seymour with a series of names, all of which he recognized except for Sarah and one other.

Sometime during 1943, Seymour had a sitting with the famous direct-voice medium Leslie Flint, but his record of that sitting were destroyed when a bomb fell near his home and did some damage to part of it, including the records from that sitting. As Seymour recalled it, however, it was a group sitting and the first voice to speak said, “I am Sarah,” first very softly, then more audibly.  Seymour remained silent and no one else in the room claimed the name.  Flint’s control, “Mickey” then spoke and said, “This is for the man by the fireplace.”  As Seymour was sitting by the fireplace, he said that he accepted the name.  The woman’s voice in spirit then said, “I used to be called Sally.  I have been with you many years, doing my best to help you.”  Seymour replied that he did not know a Sarah or a Sally.  The voice then responded: “You would not know me, dear.  I am your great aunt, on your mother’s side.”

Seymour now had a connection, but everybody on that side of his family had passed on and he had no easy way of confirming the actual existence of this great aunt.  However,  at a sitting with Rose Harley on February 24, 1944, the names Sarah and Alice were given.  Harley said that Sarah was in spirit, but she wasn’t sure about Alice.  “I do not know…this condition…I feel it means that the person has either passed on fairly recently or is still on the earth plane but is nearing the journey’s end,” Harley explained. “I am certain about Sarah, though. She is in spirit, and has been so a long time.”

Seymour recognized the name Alice as one of his mother’s sisters, but he had not heard from her in many years and assumed that she also had passed on.  About two weeks later, he happened upon the wife of a deceased cousin and asked her about his Aunt Alice. She informed him that his Aunt Alice was still alive and in her 80s, and provided him with her address. Seymour then contacted Aunt Alice and was informed that her mother had four siblings, Mary, Joseph, Fanny, and Sarah.  She said she had never met Sarah, because she had died before she was born, at about age 17. 

Seymour continued his investigation of mediums and the name Sarah was given three additional times.  “Mr. Sceptic, what do you make of it?” he asked. “I hope you won’t push telepathy at me here – a matter of fifteen mediums mentally searching around London for Aunt Alice, and then reading her mind when they found her and extracting from it the thought that Sarah, born 90-odd years ago, would have liked to make friends with me, had she lived.” 

Still, Seymour struggled with the problem of getting names.  He wondered why some mediums could get other facts about the person but not names.  He understood the problem with clairvoyants trying to interpret pictographic symbols such as that with “more rice” being Maurice, and he understood that that clairaudient mediums can sometimes hear the name. He encountered a clairaudient-type medium saying, “C-C-Copper,” but it did not immediately dawn on him that the name she was trying to get through was “Cooper,” which sounds more like “Cowper” in the particular dialect of the medium.

I recall John Edward, the clairvoyant who had a TV program some years ago, saying that he saw a picture of St. George when the communicator was trying to get that name through.  My most recent book, No One Really Dies, deals with this problem in Chapter 3.  When Sir William Barrett communicated with his widow through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, he explained that it was much easier for him to get ideas through by thought impressions than simple names or words.  Lady Barrett had wondered why he identified himself as William, when she knew him as Will and why he called her Florrie, when he knew her as Flo.  He explained that it was a matter of being able to get certain names through a medium easier than other names. Much depended on the development of the medium.

In 1917, Charles Drayton Thomas, a psychical researcher, began sitting with Mrs. Leonard. He quickly made contact with his father, John D. Thomas, and his sister, Etta, receiving much veridical information proving their identities.  However, he wondered why they had such difficulty in giving their names and the names of others. “It became evident that the giving of a name involved the overcoming of some obstacle, and that usually the difficulty, whatever it might be, was too serious to permit of success,” Thomas recorded.  “There is unquestionably a difficulty in transmitting names through trance mediums, though some give them more successfully than do others.”

Thomas’s father explained that if he wanted to give the name of a man named Meadow, he might try to insert the idea of a green field, connecting it with the idea of the man himself.  When the father tried to get the name Jerusalem through the medium, it came out “Zion” instead.  His sister said she could not get her husband’s name, Whitfield, through the medium.  “I can feel it, but I cannot say it,” Etta said.  The best she could do was get the medium’s control, Feda, to say “Wh—, Whi—-, Wht—.”

Thomas noticed that Feda could more easily catch a first syllable than the whole name, but sometimes she would catch only the first letter, which he understood was pictured for her by the communicator. When one communicating entity tried to get the word “Greek” through, Feda struggled with “G—, Gre—, Grek, Greg, Greeg.” Thomas further observed that when Feda had latitude in the selection of words, e.g., Zion for Jerusalem, communication was easier. However, when it came to proper names, this alternative was not always possible.

The discarnate Thomas also told his son that when he entered the conditions of a sitting his memory would divide into its former earthly conditions of conscious and subconscious. Thus, the same forgetfulness he might have had when in the flesh with regard to names and other things still existed on his side of the veil.

Table-tilting is a more accurate method of getting names, Drayton Thomas pointed out, as the communicator can dispense with the control and, assuming enough psychic energy, can direct the tilting himself, i.e., so many tilts for each letter of the alphabet or a tilt for the proper letter when the sitter recites the alphabet. But this method is much slower and cumbrous.

As Seymour might have suggested, the skeptics can laugh when a particular medium can’t a name or gets a wrong name, but it only goes to show their ignorance of the subject matter.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow book

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