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The Unobstructed Universe: Resurrecting Betty White

Posted on 03 January 2022, 10:45

Over a period of some 20 years, beginning in 1925, popular author Stewart Edward White (1873 -  1946) wrote 10 books dealing with communication from the spirit world.  They first came through the mediumship of his wife, Betty, (below) and then, after her death in 1939, from Betty through another medium.  The Betty Book, published in 1937, and The Unobstructed Universe, published in 1940, were both top sellers and are today considered classics in the metaphysical field.

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Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, White graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 1895 and in 1903 received his M.A. degree from Columbia University.  His first book, The Westerner. was published in 1901, followed closely by The Claim Jumper and The Blazed Trail, the latter a best-seller and considered the best of his 40 or so non-metaphysical books. He (below) moved to California in 1903 and toured the state with his good friend, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, who referred to White as “the kind of young American who is making our new literature.”  During World War I, White served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of major. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society for his work in mapping German East Africa.

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Elizabeth “Betty” Calvert Grant was born in Panama in 1880, but raised in Newport, Rhode Island by well-to-do parents. She lived in Bermuda, Florida, and Jamaica, before moving to California, where she married Stewart in Santa Barbara in 1904.

The Whites became interested in mediumship in 1919 after Betty discovered her ability to receive messages from purported spirits, referred to by her as the “Invisibles,” by means of automatic writing, trance voice, the direct voice, and clairvoyant sensing.  “I had paid such matters very little attention; and had formed no considered opinions on them one way or another,” White wrote of his attitude before 1919, going on to say that he considered himself a skeptic and that spiritualism had meant to him either hysteria or clever conjuring.

White emphasized that he and Betty were not interested in the usual communication from deceased relatives and friends, as they had suffered no recent bereavements.  Their interest was in exploration, to find out what life was all about and why.  They concluded early-on that the objective of the Invisibles was to awaken them to the spiritual forces about us and to recognize the need for a better balance between the spiritual and the material.

Betty’s development seems to have been very similar to that of Pearl Curran, the St. Louis, Missouri medium for the entity calling herself “Patience Worth,” which took place between 1913 and 1937.  White explained that Betty’s consciousness was not taken from her in the customary deep trance, describing it as more of a disassociated state.  However, she was unaware of her surroundings and went “somewhere else,” still retaining her faculties of thought.  He further noted that when he made a mistake writing down a word he had misheard, he was instantly corrected, even though Betty was lying below the level of the writing table with her eyes blindfolded. As an example, he wrote “attitude of mind” while taking dictation and was instantly stopped by Betty and informed that the correct wording was “altitude of mind.” 

“The pencil moved very slowly, and it wrote curiously formed script, without capitals or punctuation, or even spacing, like one long continuous word,” White explained the automatic writing by Betty.  Betty assured her husband that she had nothing to do with moving the pencil or forming the script, at least consciously.  Moreover, she struggled to understand what was written.  Concluding that it was either an outside intelligence or directed by Betty’s subconscious, they continued to experiment.

After a time, the words began to flow.  Betty blindfolded her eyes and looked away from the paper in an attempt to separate herself from the writing as Stewart sat next to her as an observer. The automatic writing continued for several months before some experimentation resulted in Betty becoming a trance-voice medium with Stewart recording her words in shorthand.  At times, she spoke in her own voice, at other times the Invisibles spoke through her and there was a marked change in voice, diction, and style. Occasionally, words would come through the direct-voice, independent of but near Betty.

Subconscious Coloring

“At present there is often considerable fluency, so that I have trouble keeping up with the transcription,” White recorded.  “On other occasions there seems to be difficulty. Sometimes the direct voice speaks, at others Betty herself reports word by word as through taking dictation, and again describes her impressions and experiences in her own way. Sometimes, if difficulty arises, all three methods are tried.” 

As White understood it, Betty would, through the superconsciousness, be brought in touch with realities which she absorbed directly, and with ideas which came to her in words heard with the “inner ear,” sometimes by mental impression.  These things were transferred down to her habitual consciousness and dictated to him. Betty often complained that what came through her was diluted and a “pale shadow of the actuality.” In effect, she had no vocabulary for them.

Betty further explained that for nearly three years she struggled for comprehension, passing from automatic writing to what she calls “a curious state of freed or double consciousness in which I absorb experiences directly, somehow, and Stewart records them in words spoken through me, or by me at first hand impressions.” 

White continued to wonder what part Betty’s subconscious played in the communication.  If it was coming from her subconscious, he reasoned, it was completely foreign to her usual consciousness and outside her remembered experiences.  “The value of the thing offered must lie in itself, regardless of its source,” he concluded, adding that if it originated in Betty she is more of a wonder that he had supposed.  He also considered the theory that she was tapping into some “universal mind.” He could not completely discount that theory, but saw it as nothing more than a far-fetched hypothesis to avoid accepting the spirit hypothesis.

So much of it was foreign to both Betty and himself that he wondered how it could be coming from the subconscious of either of them. He finally decided “to accept, as a fact, that we were receiving through Betty, from outside, and apparently discarnate, intelligences, a graded and progressing and logically acceptable instruction on how to get along in life.”  He and Betty nicknamed them the Invisibles, primarily because they insisted on remaining anonymous.  They had all the characteristics of a “Group Soul,” a number of spirits speaking as one.

“The balanced proportion, the balanced ration of life is the first thing to impress on the world,” the Invisibles communicated early in Betty’s mediumship. “Balance is the big thing to emphasize.  The world is crippled now because of its withered spiritual faculties.”  They explained that they were talking about the balance between the spiritual and the material, pointing out that overbalance on either side always results in trouble.

“Welcome and accept all natural human instincts, all the savoring of life, but permeate them with the vitality of the spirit,” the Invisibles continued. “Those who savor even the highest forms of life without this permeation of the spirit will stagnate, sink backward, imprison themselves in matter.  With them the spiritual sense becomes atrophied.”

The Invisibles discussed perception, elimination, impetus, assimilation, constructive prayer, personal responsibility, the substance of thought, and other subjects related to bringing the spiritual life in balance and harmony with the physical life or, in other words, stimulating the consciousness to partake of the higher consciousness. “The active life means constant inflowing and outflowing,” they stressed. “You must never, never forget to be constantly giving out…Without this giving out there is no circulation…your outgo must equal your intake.”

No Dead-Ends

Many of the teachings of the Invisibles had to do with showing that causes and effects are not isolated, but smoothly continuous – that there are no dead-ends, not even death itself. When White requested more scientific explanations, the Invisibles told him that they can give reality as they can manage to communicate it to him.  They cautioned him about being one of those “over-sane, over-cautious people who have never sensed intangible verities” and suggested that he escape more often from the limitations of his ponderable mind.

White noted that there were many distortions in the communication, what he called “interruptions from opposing forces.”  Betty learned to discern the “false messages” from those given by the Invisibles.  “The false messages had always been delivered with feverish haste and great force in contrast to the calm and deliberation of other communications, especially those from my father,” Betty explained. “This ‘cutting-in’ haste had the virtue of making me able to recognize instantly and discount anything thus received.” 

White eagerly questioned the Invisibles as to the nature of life on their side, but was informed that explaining the afterlife was not part of their mission.  Moreover, they told White that its detail is so unlike anything he knows about or can conceive of that any approximation on their part would convey false images. “If we gave detailed specifications of our life over here, it would be impossible thereafter to concentrate your attention on broad general principles,” they told him, “on the few simple lines of your effort.  It is painfully difficult to eliminate and economize your attention.  Only by shrouding other things in mystery can we occupy your minds in due proportion to the importance of the things we select.”

It was made clear to White early in Betty’s mediumship that the Invisibles could not interfere with the free will of humans, but he still wondered why they don’t reach out to more humans.  “It is hard for us to foresee here what will be the results of this more general belief and how much we dare reveal,” was the response. “The teachers are all very cautious, for reaction must be carefully reckoned before knowledge can be given out.  There is so much danger in the present situation that it is one of the first things we are cautioned about, when we are allowed to give communications: that is to be very watchful and not go too far, to move slowly and cautiously for the present.  We have to note results carefully.  It is the most intensive and comprehensive campaign that has ever been arranged over here, they say.” 

It was also explained to White that there is an ebb and flow to such revelation. “The flood of the spiritual interest will soon rise to its height for the present,” the Invisibles told him shortly after the end of the Great War, “and then gradually subside – at least the fashion for it will – and then we shall see what really came in with the flood.  Each tide brings a little more and we have to be content.”  They further informed him that they work in rhythm, “allowing the force of each wave of effect to gain the effect of its power, to fall and break, to ebb back in gatherance for a new surge.  The pause is fruitful.  It allows the scum and windrift and jetsam to be floated away, leaving the sands clean for a new impression.”

Their object, the Invisibles said, is not to convince the world of anything except the need for continued conscious spiritual growth. They noted that technical advances, namely radio and the automobile, were already running ahead of what people could assimilate, resulting in instability, and the same would happen if they offered too much spiritual growth to too many.  “The conviction of one thing or another – or another, will come naturally and easily and inevitably to each individual when he rises by his own specific gravity to that point.  It will come to the world generally only when the common consciousness, by its own specific gravity, has also risen to that point.”
   
The Invisibles stressed the need for Betty to develop what they called “habitual spiritual consciousness.”  But they didn’t want Betty to think this meant retirement into a cloistered nunnery.  “It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession,” they explained. “Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influences automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon, to lend a helping hand.”

The objective, they said, is getting to know the higher self “and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized.” Don’t cease the multitude of routine and mundane daily activities, they added, but make the gradual growth and expansion of the eternal self the major business of each day.


 

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