Honoring Harriet E. Wilson

By Travis Sanders

Someone who is not recognized as they should be, both in American history and Spiritualist history is Harriet E. Wilson. Born Harriet Adams in 1825, “Hattie” was orphaned young and kept in indentured servitude until the age of 18, despite being considered a free woman of color.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.43.57 PM
Photo credit: AAREG

In 1859, Wilson became the first African American in North America to publish a novel with her book: Our Nig- Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, a fictionalized account of her own life.

Education was highly valued by Wilson, and she became a teacher, by 1863 Hattie came into Spiritualism while in Boston and developed as a trance medium, lecturer, and healer. Harriet shared the stage with such prominent figures as Andrew Jackson Davis and Victoria Woodhull. She lectured on children’s education, work reform, and the spirit world and became a powerhouse in the children’s lyceum movement- one of few black women to teach white children of that time period.

Many of Spiritualism’s more conservative members saw her as too progressive, as she often directed the children while under trance control- so she started her own school, and dropped the title of lyceum with The First Spiritualist Progressive School.

Hattie continued to speak at Spiritualist conventions as “The Colored Medium” and worked as a teacher, Spiritualist Nurse, healer, and trance medium as she moved into semi-retirement after being elbowed out of the Spiritualist education circuit by her more conservative white peers.

Many of her peers and admirers referred to her as Dr. Harriet Wilson out of respect.
She died in 1900, and is buried in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.40.57 PM.png
Picture credit: The Harriet Wilson Project

Sources:

Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_E._Wilson

Huffington Post
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/post_b_806805

The Harriet Wilson Project
http://www.harrietwilsonproject.net/

Penguin Random House 
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/288985/our-nig-by-harriet-e-wilson/9780143105763/

African American Registry
https://aaregistry.org/story/author-harriet-wilson-born/

Advertisements

Amy & Isaac Post: The Godparents of Modern Spiritualism

by Travis Sanders

When we think of those who championed the Spiritualist movement, we often immediately think of the Fox sisters, Emma Hardinge Britten, or Andrew Jackson Davis. But if Andrew Jackson Davis is the father of Modern Spiritualism, then surely it’s adoring godparents are Amy & Isaac Post.

Screen Shot 2019-07-06 at 6.51.45 PM

Both born in New York around the turn of turn of the 19th century, Amy and Isaac Post were some of the first to witness the phenomena of the Fox Sisters’ and saw the immense importance of the work that was at hand. Amy and Isaac were Quakers (Hicksite Quakers, a splinter group of Quaker established through Amy’s cousin Elias Hicks) and were highly progressive for their time. When Isaac wasn’t working his local drug store, he and his wife, were both involved several movements of reform- primarily abolitionist and anti-slavery causes, as well as women’s rights. The Post’s Rochester home was a station on the underground railroad and hosted as many as 15-20 runaway slaves, as the freedom seekers headed north.

When the Posts witnessed the phenomena through the Fox sisters, they encouraged the work. In addition to bringing reform to religious ideology which was starting to work it’s way through our young country- as the phenomena progress from rudimentary raps, into phenomena such as trance, spirit writing and direct voice- much of the discourse that allegedly came through from the Spirit world, also championed their causes and confirmed their belief systems about changes needed for mans progress. Isaac himself would eventually develop as a writing medium and pen Voices from the Spirit World in 1852. The Posts also received messages from children the couple had lost, through the mediumship of the Fox’s, which cemented their conviction even further.

It was the Posts’ that arranged the Fox Sisters first out-of-house public demonstration of mediumship, renting the largest hall in Rochester for the event. Four hundred people showed up to witness the demonstration, as Amy stood nearby offering her support and love as the girls demonstrated.  However even more than advertising and events, it was the Post’s sphere of social influence and inner circles that really contributed to the spread of Spiritualism. The Posts were well respected people, and were friends with many prominent abolitionists and women’s rights advocates of the time; including Frederick Douglass, and Susan B Anthony, and exposed them both to the phenomena of Spiritualism.  While it interested Douglass less, it still allowed for the ideology and teachings to spread through the many circles of these movements.

The Posts had genuine friendship and affection for all three sisters, as the sisters did for them, which can be seen in letters exchanged between them. When their own parents weren’t quite sure what to do with the young girls, the Posts truly did take the place of spiritual godparent, and thank God they did, or else 1/10th of the then population of the country may not have become the Spiritualist that they did.

Isaac died in 1872 and Amy in 1889. They are both buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester.

 

Sources: 
Wikipedia
Exploring Other Worlds: Chapin
Ghostly Communication: Kucich
The Spirit Book: Buckland

 

Cartomancy Recommendations

by Travis Sanders

Most people know me as a psychic and a spiritual medium, however one of my passions I don’t often speak on is divination, specifically cartomancy, or card reading.

Even though when I work with clients I don’t use tools, I used to be a card-o-holic. I had more decks than you could shake a stick at. And to be honest with you, most of them didn’t do much for me, save being beautiful and appreciating the artwork.

However I have come to find several decks that I often use for reading for myself, adore and wish to share with you.

The Oracle Playing Cards by Dead on Paper

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.02.36 PM.png

While I do not consider myself an adept in the least with reading traditional playing cards….I try. Plain old playing card decks seem lifeless and personality-less to me. They don’t speak to me, yet I was determined to find playing cards with personality. Thats when I came across the Dead on Paper Oracle playing cards.

Being a Spiritualist I adore the fact that Victorian Style Spiritualist imagery is used in the deck. The inverse black and white color scheme gives the deck an edge and the back of the cards look like a Spirit Board. The attention to detail with this deck is superb and highly recommended, simply to be appreciated or used for divination.

Old Style Conjure Reading Cards

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.03.13 PM.png

Mama Starr is a teacher of mine in the practices of folk magic. Often times playing card reading (along with bone reading) is traditional divination in that practice. It took me awhile to connect with these cards, but once I did they gave voice to the ancestors loud and clear.

These aren’t the type of deck that I find work for me in the sense of using spreads and layouts. They look like playing cards, with a parchment style background adorned with roosters, and on each card is a small blurb or statement of wisdom or spiritual instruction. Two actually, so if a card comes up reversed, there inverse meaning is made clear

I keep these cards on my ancestral altar, and pull one each morning while giving daily offerings to my ancestors and refreshing their altar.

The Universal Tarot

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.11.06 PM.png

It’s been a journey for me to try to find a tarot deck I really connect with. Im a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to tarot. I don’t like many of the contemporary or “themed” decks which often deviate from the traditional symbols, imagery and archetypes put forth by Waite. I think Waite got it right. The traditional color, symbolism, imagery, and archetypes of the tarot are so on point, and can unlock to much information, however I am not a fan of the traditional Rider-Waite deck for one simple reason; the bold outlines and intensity of the colors, mostly the primary colors, specifically the excessive use of yellow, are too intense for my taste and almost assaulting to the eyes as you see in the image below.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.13.14 PM

The Universal tarot, and Universal Waite deck holds the integrity of the traditional imagery and colors without but it a more subdued toned, and are slightly more detailed and overall “prettier” without deviating from the core symbolism.

The Enchanted Tarot by Zerner-Faber

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.40.18 PM

While this deck portrays its own interpretation of the imagery, I do love this deck. It’s small (I hate when cards are too big) colorful, and from an artistic standpoint I love the tapestry-vibe of the artwork. There are slight deviations from the traditional suits, for example the cups in this deck are hearts, and the court cards lack pages, and knights, but instead contain princes and princesses, however, I find these cards communicative in a variety of ways.

Master of Magic Oracle Cards

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.14.58 PM.png

This card deck isn’t very big, in both size and number of cards. But I adore them. They Are simple, each card containing a “master,” symbol and a word. I found these cards at an expo and hadn’t seen them before and haven’t seen them anywhere since. What I love most about these cards is that the ‘masters” they chose are not new agey or what you would expect. There are scientists, alchemists, greek philosophers, ceremonial magicians, and as a Spiritualist I was pleased to see depictions of William Stanton Moses, D.D Home, Edgar Cayce, Anton Mesmer, and Allan Kardec.

Akashic Tarot by Sharon Klingler & Sandra Taylor

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.48.52 PM

The Akashic Tarot is truly one of my favorite decks. A Contemporary take on the tarot; this deck is like a perfect balance between traditional tarot and the more modern oracle card deck. Consisting of both Major and Minor Arcana, this deck deviates from traditional imagery, which usually I don’t enjoy, but with this deck it works powerfully. You can feel how much intention and detail went into this deck, and those familiar with traditional tarot will see the parallels in the archetypes and use of symbolism. Instead of cups, wands, swords, and pentacles, we have 4 suits of Keys, Scrolls, Hearts, and Forces. The artwork on this deck is stuuuuuunnnnniiiiinggggg! These cards speak! They get to the heart of the issue in a user friendly way, and truly have an energy about them you have to experience to understand.

Energy Oracle Cards By Sandra A Taylor

9781401940447_500h

This is my hands down favorite deck. Period. I dont often find oracle cards that I like. Most of them are hokey, themed, or give too much for your own interpretation, or contain stock images and generic words, giving them little life or personality- But this deck gets it right. Even though its not a tarot deck, like its sister the Akashic Tarot, users will find many cards that a reminiscent of traditional tarot. For Example the Lady Holding a Coin is clearly very similar to the Queen of Pentacles, and so on. This deck has beautiful and detailed artwork without being too busy. Each card contains a word or two that gives you enough to know the essence of the card, without limiting your own intuition to interpret and divine. This deck simply makes sense, and anyone learning to read cards should really start with this deck if they are intimidated by traditional tarot.

The last deck I wish to touch on is…

The Ancestors and Angels Oracle by Kyle Gray

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.05.15 PM

I’ll be frank, angel stuff isn’t really my bag. Angel cards don’t do much for me as a whole. However I adore this deck. Working in a metaphysical shop I see all the decks that come and go, and this one actually caught my eye when Kyle Gray started teasing imagery on Instagram before it was officially released. Firstly, Lily Moses’ artwork is stunningly beautiful. Some of the most beautiful hand-paintings I’ve seen in any deck of cards.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.05.32 PM

Secondly, I was hungry to get my hands on this deck (which Kyle very kindly gifted to me) because those who know me know ancestral work, ancestry and ancestral veneration are very important to me on a spiritual path.

Even though, I guess technically you could call this an angel deck, I love that it focuses more on ancestors than imagery of angels or archangels, and the angels that are portrayed in this deck are called “guardians,” which I prefer.

Something about this deck that I truly appreciate and adore is that never have I before seen such cultural, age and ethnic diversity portrayed in a deck. There are depictions of young and old, Arabic, Icelandic, Native American, Egyptian, African, Celtic, and all people of all races and countries and spiritual paths in between; and not in a white-washed way! There are true people of color in this deck! 

The only thing about this deck that I personally don’t connect with very strongly are several cards that look like a circle or drumhead with certain symbols on them like the bee, wolf, or seasons.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.14.10 PM.png

While I find them beautiful, to me they feel slightly out of place. Perhaps if there were more of them, but they were so different and few compared to the stunning portraits that fill most of the deck, that to me they felt slightly out of place, or like a mini deck within a pre-existing deck. BUT THATS OKAY!

As cartomancers you’re aloud to not use every card. You can remove ones that don’t speak to you or even mix different decks together! The only limitation you have are the ones you place on yourself!

So these are my card recommendations! What are some decks that you recommend!? 

Paschal Beverly Randolph

By Travis Sanders

pbr-215x300

One of the most fascinating figures I have come across in the world of Spiritualism and the occult is that of Paschal Beverly Randolph.

Born October 8, 1825, Paschal was a descendant of William Randolph, an early American colonist and politician. Paschal was a free man of mixed raced, his mother, Flora, was said to be descendant of a queen in Madagascar. Flora, died young, leaving Paschal’s half-sister, Harriet to raise him for part of his youth.

In his late teens, Randolph set to sea as a sailor, exploring Europe, Africa and the far east, where he was exposed to, and studied esoteric, medicinal and magical practices of numerous cultures. He even studied under and befriended Elphias Levi, a famous french occultist and ceremonial magician. By his mid twenties, he returned from sea to pursue a career as a writer and lecturer.

Randolph firmly supported abolishing slavery, and even spent time teaching literacy to freed slaves. In the course of lecturing, teaching, writing, and traveling, he was exposed to Spiritualism and adopted the faith, eventually developing as a trance-medium, who demonstrated in halls for many. His numerous books include- Clairvoyance, How to Produce It, and Seership! The Magnetic Mirror.

pb-randolph-20150729

Like many Spiritualist, Paschal Randolph was a progressive thinker, supporting abolitionism, free love, and even birth control as early as the late 1850’s.  He was also known for introducing teachings on sex and the spirituality of sex and sex magick to the western world. He established the First Rosicrucian Order in the United States (Brotherhood of Eulis & Ordo Templi Orientis), a sect of an esoteric brotherhood derived from a 17th century order named for Christian Rosenkreutz, whose aim was to illuminate christian mysteries through an occult lens of understanding. He achieved titles of Supreme Hierarch, and Grand Templar.

While Paschal Beverly Randolph traveled all over the world, he primarily placed roots in New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Ohio, where he founded a publishing company. Randolph died by suicide at age 49, in Toledo, Ohio. His feast day is July 29th.

Sources: 
Conjuring Harriet ‘Mama Moses’ Tubman by Witchdoctor Utu
zeroequalstwo.net
Wikipedia.com
Oto.usa.org
Theosophy.wiki

 

 

The Mediumship of Ethel Post Parish

It’s a shame more people don’t know her name, one of the greatest American physical mediums of the last century, Ether Post (Parish)

EthelPost-Parrish.jpg

I have felt inspired to write a blog about EPP for some time, the difficulty is in information about her life being scarce, with the exception of a few detailed accounts of some materialization seance. However, I will give you what I know.

Known for her direct voice and materialization mediumship, EPP contributed greatly to the world of Spiritualism. In the early 20’s she opened a church and learning center in Miami, FL, and was a regular at Camp Chesterfield, evening owning what is now know as the “President’s house” with her husband, then president Myron Post in 1924.

silverbelle_0004.jpgTrumpet  levitated

Ethel’s Cousin, and powerhouse force at Camp Chesterfield was Rev Mabel Riffle. While Mabel passed before my time, I have had the pleasure of speaking to Riffle posthumously via direct voice in two separate seances. To say “when Mabel speaks, you listen” is an understatement.

In 1932, EPP established Silver Bell Spiritualist Camp in Euphrata, PA. The camp was named for Post’s primary control, a native girl named Silver Bell. 

SilverBelle.jpg
Silver Bell

In one notable seance in 1943, EPP materialized three family members for an attending sitter named Emily Fritch. As the materialized communicators exited the spirit cabinet, Post could be sitting in the chair, still entranced, with Silver Bell standing beside her, and a mound of white that looked like a small snow bank of 1- to 2 ft high. This was not snow of course but ectoplasm. Silver Bell reached into the mass and manipulated it to show sitters how the ectoplasm could be used to form the features and ‘clothing’ of the materialized visitors.

EPP was not opposed to contributing through being studied as well. In one materialization seance, a Native American male manifested. An attending researcher asked this figure if he could be weighed. The total weight of this fully solid spirit totaled 37 lbs. Inside the cabinet, the entranced EPP was weighed and showed a 37 lb weight loss from the time the seance started until that moment.

silverbelle_0003Chapel at Camp Silver Bell

Like all physical mediums, Post was not excluded from claims of fraud. Often seen online or in books are pictures of an alleged materialization of Silver Bell.

07sb.jpgMabel Riffle standing, EPP entranced 1953

While it seems obvious to me that this is a cardboard cutout superimposed photo, many people will argue this as evidence that EPP was attempting to fraud people. And while some people (probably those needing glasses) will argue this as genuine, it clearly to me is not. That being said I don’t necessarily believe this was meant to be anything other than a recreation of happenings during a seance.

Such similar photos are that of Helen Duncan, and the materialization that looks like a puppet…because it was. Not that she was trying to pass those photos off as genuine, but was trying to recreate (for a jury in her instance) the happenings of a seance, during her infamous trial. It was meant to be an illustration, and I believe this to be the case with EPP and this photo as well.

I wish more was known about Ethel Post Parish, she contributed greatly to the cause, and her name deserves to be remembered.

 

Sources:

Seance 101: Kuzmeskus
Chesterfield Lives:

Online Resources:

Wikipedia
gotsc.org
shishigami.com

The Mediumship of Estelle Roberts

by Travis Sanders

Many people hail the late Gordon Higginson as one of the greatest mediums to have ever graced Spiritualism. Higginson, however, held another to such high esteem. He viewed Estelle Roberts as what he referred to as the “perfect medium,” artful and highly skilled in mental mediumship, trance mediumship, and physical mediumship, Roberts has been described by others as “the most versatile British medium of the time.”

e6230a7d59b52147826ff574c5a9a11e

Roberts was born in London in 1889, claiming psychic experiences at an early age. It wasn’t until marrying Arthur Roberts in 1920, that a neighbor invited her to a spiritualist circle. Within the circle, Roberts was told that she was a medium, and that if she didn’t believe it, to go home and sit for Spirit at a small table, which she did for 6 days with no indication or proof or her alleged mediumistic skills. This was until day 7, when exasperated, Roberts stood up and walked away, and the table responded by following her to the other side of the room. It was then she heard a voice saying…

“I come to serve the world. You serve with me, and I serve with you.”

redcloud
Red Cloud

The voice was that her control, or Spirit guide, Red Cloud, who much like Silver Birch, the Spirit guide of Maurice Barbanell, (a friend, colleague, and supporter of Roberts), Red Cloud, would become well-known in his own right.

Roberts was masterful on the platform, and demonstrated all over the UK for thousands of people at a time, including an audience of 6,000 at the Royal Albert Hall. In her book Great Moments of Modern Mediumship Vol. 1, author Maxine Meilleur, describes Roberts “unflappable tenacity” with a brief transcript of one of Roberts’ demonstrations.

8560074

He has brought a Jim with him.
I cant place a Jim.
He’s your mother’s brother.
Yes, thats right.
He’s met Aunt Jinny.
I dont remember her.
She’s an in-law connected with your mother. Her name is Mary Anne Jane.
Oh, Yes!
They have brought Mary with them.
Mary? I cant recall her.
Well, I must help you then. She is your father’s sister.
Oh, Yes! “

est.jpeg

Perhaps Roberts most important work in her career was ushering in the recognition of Spiritualism as a credible religion, and the overturning of the outdated witchcraft act (replaced with the Fraudulent Medium Act) when she demonstrated powerful and convincing clairvoyance in the British House of Commons in the 1950’s.

Estelle, went home to the Spirit World in 1970.

Sources:
The Spirit Book: Buckland
Great Moments of Modern Mediumship: Meilleur
50 Years a Medium: Roberts

Online Sources:
voicebox.com/robertsestelle.htm
insightsfromspirit.com

Transfiguration Phenomena

By Travis Sanders

The medium takes her seat inside the cloth draped cabinet. A dim red light shines from above. The sitters sing a few upbeat songs as the medium lulls herself into a trance state. Suddenly a whitish haze begins to build in front of the mediums face. Sitters are astounded when the facial features begin to change. The middle aged woman now looks like an asian man, a bearded farmer, a young girl…That is exactly what happened to those who sat for transfiguration medium, Queenie Nixon.

Parapsychologist and psychical researcher, Nandor Fodor, defines Transfiguration, a type of physical mediumship, as ‘The metamorphic power of the medium to assume bodily characteristics of deceased people for their representation.”

                  p_queenie_nixon_1
Queenie Nixon

photo_queenie_nixon
            Ectoplasmic Face materializing just above Nixon’s Face during seance

 

Queenie Nixon 1918-1989 was involved in Spiritualism and seances from a young age, attending with her aunties who would later nurture her gifts. It was as a young girl, Queenie fell drowsy at a circle, and attendees saw other faces superimposing over her own. She would eventually become the queen of transfiguration phenomena of the time and inspire other developing mediums such as Diane Elliott (d.2013) who saw Queenie’s feats and decided she would develop the gift herself.

While sitting for physical mediumship development, Diane trained in mental mediumship and platform demonstration with Mavis Patilla, and was even given validation from Gordon Higginson that her gifts were blossoming, in a “Physical Week” at Stanstead Hall, Arthur Findlay College. In all it took 15 years for Diane’s transfiguration to reach full development. Other notable transfiguration mediums of a more modern era include Jean Skinner, and Sharon Harvey.

While it may seem like Transfiguration is a mediumship trick of the era of seance parlors and Spiritualist meetings, many Spiritualist view the biblical Transfiguration on the Mount, as a demonstration of Christ’s unparalleled mediumship.

0_9eckvsav2psyw_gb

Book of Matthew :

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Traditionally, transfiguration uses ectoplasm to form a mask of sorts over the mediums facial features, which might leave some to argue that the transfiguration on the mount, was actually more Materialization phenomena than transfiguration, although as you can see in the above photo of Queen Nixon’s mediumship, that the faces could appear above or to the side of the medium also, being considered a partial materialization. Either way, its a rare form of mediumship few today have been blessed enough to witness.

The last medium I wish to mention is Rev John Lilek.

647495_lyl3imep
John Lilek 1957-2014

The internet yields a lot of garbage in regards to self proclaimed physical mediums. A quick search of transfiguration on youtube yields numerous results of A) well-intentioned but delusional people who clearly do not have any true talent for transfiguration, or B) People using trickery with lighting to attempt to fool others.
However in a video of some photographs of Rev Lilek, notable genuine transfiguration can be seen.

Rev John was a teacher and healer through the Universal Spiritualist Association ordained in 1992. He was the student of regarded Transfiguration and Materialization medium, Rev James Tingley. He was the co-pastor of the Temple of Love & Light Spiritualist Church, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In her book: Mediumship, Scrying & Transfiguration, Diana Palm describes one of the last seances John gave before his passing, where not only did remarkable transfiguration occur, but so did spirit lights, the dematerialization of a spirit trumpet, trance speaking AND direct voice phenomena occurred, where Chesterfield medium, Mabel Riffle came to speak with the sitters.

Sources:

Psychictruth.info
Mediumship, Scrying and Transfiguration for beginners: Palm
revjohnclilek.blogspot.com
The Spirit Book: Buckland