Jump to content

Why Spirit Messages are Sometimes Twisted, Garbled, and Distorted

Recommended Posts

Why Spirit Messages are Sometimes Twisted, Garbled, and Distorted

Posted on 25 April 2022, 9:10

Although the evidence for spirit communication is overwhelming, it seems well established that messages from the spirit world coming through mediums are often distorted by the medium’s subconscious mind.  Moreover, the messages are altered, twisted, and garbled by the inability of the medium to properly interpret symbolic or pictographic messages, or to grasp ideas which are not familiar to her or words not in her vocabulary. The messages are further garbled by the inability of the spirit communicators to lower their vibrations to the earth frequency or to achieve harmonious conditions, not to mention interference by low-level spirits who are closer to the earth frequency than the more advanced spirits. One of the best references discussing the subconscious aspects in such communication is Swan on a Black Sea, first published in 1965.  It involves messages coming from Winifred Coombe Tennant through the automatic writing of renowned Irish medium Geraldine Cummins (below) between August 1957 and March 1960. In all, there were 40 separate messages, or “scripts.”


While in the earth life, which ended on August 31, 1956 at age 82, Coombe Tennant (hereinafter “Winifred”) was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, an art patron, a philanthropist, a magistrate for her district in Wales, and a liberal politician, serving as a British delegate to the League of Nations. Thus, she used the pseudonym “Mrs. Willet” in her mediumship work to protect her privacy. Her mediumship was studied extensively by members of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), including physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, Lord Arthur Balfour, prime minister of England from 1902 to 1905, and his brother, statesman Lord Gerald Balfour. 

The communication with Geraldine Cummins was arranged by William H. Salter, a British lawyer and officer of the SPR. He did not give Winifred’s identity to Cummins and provided only specimens of her handwriting in an envelope to psychometrize by holding the letter to her head. He arranged for Winifred’s two youngest sons, Alex and Henry, to review the messages for factual information and verification. They also had Winifred’s personal diary from which to confirm facts. 

In the first script, on August 28, 1957, Astor, Cummins’s spirit control, instructed her to put the letter to her forehead. “I see her as a very old woman in the eighties, very fragile. She lost a son when he was only a youth. He was killed when he was nineteen or twenty, I think,” Cummins recorded Astor’s words. (Winifred’s first son, Christopher, was killed in World War I.)  Astor said he got the name “Wyn” or “Win,” but he couldn’t get the complete name.  He also got the name “Henry” or “Harry” but wasn’t sure which it was.  He felt that Wyn or Win was too anxious and trying too hard to show him different memories, thus obstructing the communication. 

The following day, in the second script, Astor communicated that “Win” was more at ease and explained that she began to get automatic writing when she was a child, but it wasn’t until years later, after she was married, that the power greatly increased. Astor said others were there and got Cummins’s name, Geraldine, but corrected himself and said it was the male equivalent, Gerald. After some conversation, it was determined that it was Lord (Gerald) Balfour, who had died in 1944.  (Indications are that Winifred and Lord Balfour had become intimate at some point in his study of her and that Henry was their son.)

Astor then relayed the following message from “Win”: “There comes to me from the earth such a feeling of oppression, of worrying, or anxiety, of fear of death, and all is derived from non-belief. If they could only but realize half the glory, even a fragment of the peace of this life I now experience. Oh! If I could only make them accept it, there might at least be some rationality. Rationalists are irrational, and it makes such a confusion, creates so much fear, when death, that deliverer approaches.”

It was on the third script that Astor got the names Fred and Win.  “No, she says, they are not the names of a man and a woman,” Cummins recorded as coming from Astor. “Put these two names together and you will get mine – Fredwin – she shakes her head. Yes, I see, it is Winfred…..” Astor then explained that Winifred wanted to try to communicate directly through her (Geraldine’s) hand (rather than have Astor relay the messages).  Winifred achieved direct communication and explained that the confusion in her first message “was due to my being in a sense compelled to select from your memories while you were selecting from mine.”  She said that confusion between the names Henry and Harry was a result of Cummins’s memory of her (Cummins’s) brother Harry, who was killed in the Great War, being “stirred up” when she (Winifred) attempted to get Henry’s name through. 

“I see now how we can wander and get lost in the memories of the automatist when we so-called dead try to communicate,” Winifred added. “This kind of mutual selection is bound to be what my friend Gerald (Balfour) calls a ‘mixed grill.’ But in the communication of the second message to W.H., whose letter is beside you, I meant what I said. I was clear and collected, as clear as if I was a magistrate sitting on the Bench giving [her] verdict.  I was one, you know, who sat on the hard bench.”  The second script referred to by Winifred included a message to William H. Salter (W.H.) telling him that he had a free hand in publishing from her diary or other references from her earth life. She added: “My memory is still rather in tatters, but I seem to recollect that I left restrictions as to what should be published.  Scrap them. I am convinced – no, I think it is ‘concerned’ – W.H.S. – that people should believe.”

In the fourth script, Astor returned and said that Gerald Balfour was with him.  He explained that Balfour was the leader of a group on their side and that Winifred was acting as a kind of liaison officer for the group.  Balfour communicated that Winifred was extremely nervous and still struggling to adapt to the spirit world.  “As in the case of very old people still in the physical body, those who have experienced the full span of life on earth when they come here recall most easily fragmentary memories of the distant past and fail to recollect near events,” Balfour wrote through Cummins’s hand. “As [Winifred] says quite correctly, we seem to swim in the sea of the automatist’s subliminal mind, and any strong current may sweep us away from the memory objectives we have in view, before we attempt to communicate.” Balfour suggested that Winifred could better establish herself by attempting to write more about her early life.

There was then a change of handwriting as Winifred returned and gave the name “Morgan.” She immediately corrected herself and said to add W. G. on to Morgan, the result being Morganwg, which is Welsh for Glamorganshire, where she lived many of her early years with her husband and sons.  She then struggled to get her husband’s family home, Cadox Lodge, first getting “Cad,” then “Cadre,” “O.” “Ox,” “Cadre Ox,” and finally Cadox Lodge. “How crammed is one’s life with detail!” she communicated. “How difficult to pick out from the mass what signifies in memory. Cadox Lodge presents all that mass to me.”  She recalled Dorothy, Eveleen, and Fred, two of her sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, visiting the lodge.  (Fred was Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research who had communicated extensively through Cummins in prior years following his death in 1901.)

In the fifth script, on September 24, 1957, Astor opened with a comment that “the lady with the darting mind” was with him and was prepared to write.  He said that she identifies herself as “Mrs. Wills.” (the first attempt at getting the name “Willet” through the medium’s mind.) Winifred then took over and said she was directed by a “Group” there –“people who once lived at Cambridge, or were connected with it,” and that the group wanted her to explain that “there is a succession of me’s throughout my life – psychic units all building up.  The outward semblance, the personality varying, as each psychic unit acts its part upon the stage, then passes on. But behind it is one’s real self, fundamental, greater than its personality. That is what the Group here say. It is what is permanent.” 

Given the Cambridge clue, along with the name Gerald Balfour, and similarity of the names Wills and Willet, Cummins began to suspect that it was Mrs. Willet communicating. She had read Lord Balfour’s study of Mrs. Willet many years earlier as well as a 1946 book, The Personality of Man, by physicist G. N. M. Tyrrell, who had devoted a chapter of his book to Mrs. Willet.  However, they did not reveal her true identity and Cummins said she was unaware of it and that she knew nothing of Winifred’s family or personal history.

Winifred continued to provide veridical information, including names, places, and experiences that were confirmed by her two sons or from her diary – information that Cummins could not possibly have known without a team of detectives digging extensively into her history and having access to the diary. Some of the experiences involved trivial matters that no detective could have uncovered. For example, in the 19th script, she recalled her dislike of a prayer asking “to deliver us from sudden death,” going on to explain that she preferred sudden death to a long illness leading to death.  Her son Alex recalled his mother telling him of her dislike of this prayer. 

In the 36th script, Winifred explained that when the messages began two years earlier, the Group had appointed Edmund Gurney as her assistant.  Gurney, one of the founders of the SPR, had died in 1888. “They considered that the difficulties were considerable for me in presenting successfully through G. C. (Geraldine Cummins) anything that would make an impression on an intellectual public….We were to work double harness, as it were, he to provide the force, I to be the actual communicator…He shaped the outlines of certain scripts I have written via G.C.  I provided the memories and was the communicator who directed the pen. But there were occasions when he trespassed on to the territory of my mind. In fact, his mind, in certain instances, blending with mine, may have, as he admits himself, taken away from the revelation of what was characteristic of me. I want to make it clear that occasionally his keen sense of humour, was too flippant and cheap in character. These I disown, and I ask that in any analysis of these writings, due allowance is made for the Gurney blend in the style and approach of certain of the scripts. There is of course a considerable reside of myself in them. Also, on my own I wrote several intimate personal letters [to Henry] that were entirely me. I am glad to perceive in your dear letter, Henry, now before me, that you recognize something of myself in the last scripts received by you.”  (Many of the later scripts involved messages to her son Henry, who did not believe in life after death, in attempt to help him believe.)

“On the other hand,” Winifred continued, “I must honestly say that I, as a newcomer to this level of life, would, I believe, owing to the great difficulties of communication, have almost totally failed, if it had not been for Edmund’s experienced assistance and driving force.”

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 books.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.