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When spirit entities take over the arm

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When spirit entities take over the arm

Posted on 15 November 2010, 20:48

If there is some kind of Guinness world record for the number of books authored in a lifetime, Francisco Candido “Chico” Xavier must certainly hold the record.  A Brazilian who transitioned to the spirit world on June 30, 2002, Xavier produced 458 books with sales in excess of 50 million copies.

chico_xavier.jpg.ba6a563383c5762473f637054df614c6.jpg Chico Xavier

But the record may require an asterisk, because Xavier was not really the author. “…if I were to say these books belonged to me, I would be committing a fraud for which I would have to answer in a very serious way after I left this world,” Xavier is quoted in a recently-released book, Chico Xavier: Medium of the Century, authored by Guy Lyon Playfair, a long-time investigator of psychic phenomena.  (The book is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk)

Xavier, who dropped out of school at age 13, gave credit for the words in his books to various spirit entities.  His books, which included literature, history, science, and Spiritist doctrine, were published with the phrase “dictated by the spirit of…” on the title page.  Moreover, Xavier donated the royalties to charity, living his entire life on a very modest government income and pension.

Most people familiar with mediumship would call it “automatic writing,” but Brazilian Spiritists call it “psychography.”  As Playfair points out, Spiritists make a distinction between the two, holding that automatic writing comes from the subconscious and psychography from a separate entity.
So famous was Xavier in Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking world that he was honored with a stamp on April 2 of this year, the 100th anniversary of his birthday.  In his home state of Minas Gerias, he was voted “person of the century” in 2000 by readers of a major newspaper there, beating out an aviation pioneer, a former president of the country, and the legendary soccer player, Pelé.  More than 120,000 people lined up in a queue over two miles long to file past Xavier’s coffin and 30,000 joined in the funeral procession.

In 1932, when he was just 22, Xavier produced a 421-page book with 259 poems, signed by 56 poets, many of them famous when alive in the flesh. It became a best-seller and convinced many Brazilians that consciousness survives physical death. Playfair mentions that the poems were clearly in the individual styles of the deceased poets.  “Moreover,” Playfair offers, “if you are thinking of faking a Shakespeare sonnet, you must do more than imitate the poet’s style.  You must get across an idea, an image, that elusive ingredient that makes a poem something more than the sum of its words.”  This was clearly the case with the Xavier-produced poems.

Xavier explained that he always felt an electrical sensation in his arm when he was taking dictation and that he felt his brain had been invaded by some indefinable vibrations.  Interestingly, D.D. Home, the famous 19th century medium known for his levitations, wrote that he experienced an “electrical fullness” about his feet when the spirits were raising him from the ground.

“To produce automatic writing, the spirit simply makes contact with the medium’s frontal lobes and right hand, leaving the rest of the brain and body free,” Playfair sets forth his understanding of the phenomenon.

In addition to the books, Xavier also received many evidential messages.  One of them was even accepted in a court of law and a couple of others influenced court decisions.

Patience Worth
A somewhat similar case of automatic writing began in the United States when Chico Xavier was only three years old.  It involved a St. Louis, Missouri housewife, Pearl Curran. First from a friend’s Ouija board, then a pencil, then a typewriter, flowed the writings of a person identifying herself as Patience Worth, a 17th Century English woman.  Over a period of 24 years, Patience Worth dictated approximately four million words, including seven books, some short stories, several plays, thousands of poems, and countless epigrams and aphorisms.

Like Chico Xavier, Pearl Curran had only an elementary school education. In some of her scripts, she used Anglo-Saxon words that are no longer part of the English vocabulary; yet, researchers were able to confirm that these words did exist at one time, although it would have been virtually impossible for Curran to have come upon them.  Critics compared her works to those of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Spencer.

W. T. Allison, professor of English literature at the University of Manitoba, observed that Patience Worth dictated words found only in Melton’s time and some of them had no meaning until researched in dialectic dictionaries and old books.  Allison, who closely observed Curran, reported that in one evening 15 poems were produced in an hour and 15 minutes, an average of five minutes for each poem.  “All were poured out with a speed that Tennyson or Browning could never have hoped to equal, and some of the 15 lyrics are so good that either of those great poets might be proud to have written them,” Allison offered. He went on to say that Patience Worth “must be regarded as the outstanding phenomenon of our age, and I cannot help thinking of all time.”

When a philologist asked Patience how and why she used the language of so many different periods, she responded: “I do plod a twist of a path and it hath run from then till now.”  When asked to explain how she could dictate responses without a pause, she replied: “Ye see, man setteth up his cup and fillet it, but I be as the stream.”
According to Dr. Walter Franklin Prince, one of the scientists who studied the phenomena, Patience Worth’s writing “displayed original genius, enormous erudition, familiarity with literature and history of many ages, versatility of experience, philosophical depth, piercing wit, moral spirituality, swiftness of thought, and penetrating wisdom,” qualities and characteristics which were totally foreign to Pearl Curran.  Moreover, Curran was witnessed talking to people as she took dictation from Patience.
(For a more complete story on Pearl Curran, see The Mystery of Patience Worth in the Features section of this blog.)

Many psychologists and parapsychologists are grounded in materialism and unable to consider a spiritual explanation for automatic writing.  Thus, they contend that the automatic writing is coming from the medium’s subconscious mind.  However, they don’t really address how the information got into the subconscious in the first place.  Television was not yet a reality when Pear Curran lived nor for the first half of Chico Xavier’s life, so it is unlikely that the subconscious absorbed it from television programs.  Radio was in its infancy when Pearl Curran lived and it is highly unlikely she listened to many radio programs or read many books with 17th Century English.

Those who believe in reincarnation might explain Patience Worth as memories from a past life existing in Pearl Curran’s subconscious, but past lives would not explain most of the material produced by Chico Xavier as many of the spirits communicating through Xavier were “living” when he was born.
No doubt the subconscious mind does produce things we are not consciously aware of or thinking about, but to write it all off as coming from the subconscious seems like a real stretch.

william_thomas_stead.jpg.28c997aade9b7124483ab620f40460ff.jpg William Thomas Stead

William T. Stead, a famous British journalist who was a victim of the Titanic disaster in 1912, developed the ability to do automatic writing. In one of his books, Letters from Julia, he wrote that he could not believe that any part of his unconscious self would deliberately practice a hoax upon his conscious self about the most serious of all subjects, and keep it up year after year with the most sincerity and consistency.  “The simple explanation that my friend who has passed over can use my hand as her own seems much more natural and probable,” concluded Stead, who was observed by Titanic survivors serenely sitting in the smoking room and reading his Bible as pandemonium took place all around him.

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.

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