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Maurice Barbanell was born in London in 1902. He was one of six children of Polish immigrants, Manel and Rifka Barbanell. Manel was a barber, so one of Maurice’s first jobs was sweeping hair and acting as a lather boy. When he was a teen, he became an unpaid secretary of the Ghetto Society and Literary Society.

Although his mother was very religious, Barbanell’s father was an atheist. Barbanell was agnostic when the subject of Spiritualism came up within his group of friends. He was challenged to investigate Spiritualism for six months before drawing a conclusion. He took up the offer and joined the home circle of medium Mrs. Blaustein. She was a trance medium who was controlled by various entities. Barbanell was not overly impressed by the seances. During one circle he fell asleep. When he awoke, he was informed that he had gone into a trance state and a Native American spoke through him.

In 1932 Barbanell married Sylvia Abrahams, who he had met at Mrs. Blaustein’s seances. Barbanell formed his own home circle and his spirit guide, Silver Birch, gave regular teachings while he was in trance. Silver Birch said he was only acting as translator. “I am but a humble servant,” he said. “an interpreter for those who have sent me to expound forgotten laws that must be revived as part of the new world that is gradually dawning. Think of me always as a mouthpiece. I represent the voice of the spirit that seeks to make its presence felt in your world and which is succeeding in increasing measure.” He described a group of communicators who harmonized their minds to create the messages that he communicated to Barbanell.

Silver Birch gave few details about his own earthy existence but mentioned that his last lifetime occurred about 3,000 years earlier. While on earth, he said he worshiped many gods, but had learned in the spirit world that “there is only one Great Spirit, who has provided eternal laws for the control of every phase of life throughout the boundless universe.”

He said the spiritual world may take on the trappings of physical existence, including homes, clothing and food. Silver Birch said this was a habit from our physical make-up. The houses are not made of bricks and mortar but constructed out of thought. Desire for food is a mental craving and a spirit can maintain the illusion if it requires it. People are free to express their talents, with no physical limitations. People also speak the same language – thought. Those thoughts are never hidden and lying is impossible.

Barnabell became editor of Psychic News in 1932 and then, The Two Worlds, serving for over three decades. He decided to publish Silver Birch’s messages anonymously because he believed he would be criticized for publishing his own mediumship in Psychic News. The communications became so popular that Barbanell was eventually obliged to make it known that he was the medium.

While editing, Barbanell published a number of books, including Across the Gulf (1940) and Where There is a Will (1962) His book, This is Spiritualism (1959), was a survey of the phenomena and personalities associated with Spiritualism. He frequently lectured across both North America and Europe. He came to know every major British medium. Less than a week after his death in 1981, spirit messages from him were delivered through the mediumship of his close friend, Gordon Higginson.

Additional Reading:

Naylor, William, (1955) ed. Silver Birch Anthology.  Psychic Book Club, London

Pleasants, Helene, (1964) ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.  Helix Press, New York

Psychic News:  https://www.psychicnews.org.uk/articles/contribution-spiritualism

 

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