Nuggets of Wisdom from Mediums Past

By Travis Sanders

Over the weekend I had the great fortune of visiting the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft in Cleveland, Ohio.  Now I know what you’re thinking, what does witchery have to do with mediumship and Spiritualism? Ray Buckland was a known figure in the Wiccan world, but also had deep ties to Spiritualism. Being from the UK, where Spiritualism is prevalent, he attended his first seance in adolescence, and has contributed in his teaching and writing to spirit communication and Spiritualism through his adult life.


In addition to the weird and wonderful items in the museum, and it’s gracious staff members, Buckland’s museum also houses a variety of Spiritualist paraphernalia such as Spirit Trumpets, and a plethora of old and unique books on all varieties of occult subject matter- including Spiritualism and mediumship.

It was here that I found a copy of Robert Chaney’s Book, Mediums and the Development of Mediumship.


It was the first time I had seen a hard copy of this gem, and I had to have it. Inside the book, as you can see from the cover, are accounts of the lives of 18 highly regarded mediums of the 20th century.

In addition to a biographical capturing of each medium’s life and development they also share insights, philosophy and guidance around the development of mediumship. So I decided as I read through the book to extract some of the key nuggets of information and tips around mediumistic development and share the bullet points here for you.


  1. Lester Thorne

Thorne speaks of the importance of relaxation and prioritizes it over concentration. He puts emphasis on posture while sitting for Spirit, sitting with a straight spine, with the hands on the knees and back not touching the chair back to endure optimal relaxation. Thorne suggests “Patience and sincerity of purpose are essential.”

2. Bertie Lilly Candler

Candler advises studying under a good teacher. In regards to the development of trance mediumship advises the use of a spirit cabinet, relaxing and imagining sinking into the self to induce trance, while other circle members send energy to the cabinet. She is also a big advocate of rhythmic breathing, especially concentrating on the Solar Plexus center while doing so. Regular exercise and physical activity outside of Spiritual pursuits are also recommended. She advises- “Try to reach the best and highest” in regards to your mediumship.

3. James Laughton

Trumpet medium Laughton suggests that while sitting for trumpet phenomena, members should in the beginning spending time inviting their guides and teachers into the space by name to create a strong energetic rapport. In regards to message work in mental mediumship, he advises practicing giving messages in small groups to build confidence and efficiency before extended yourself to the public.

4. Bertha R Marx

Trance medium Bertha Marx claims that having a strong faith in your Spirit Teacher is essential in trance development. Her preferred method of reaching entrancement is imagining shrinking inside herself, pulling deep within as she breathes. In regards to clairvoyance gives an exercise of visualizing and detailing objects such as flowers and everyday objects.

5. John W Bunker

Known for his apports, Bunker suggests a breathing technique used to generate the energy needed for the “Spirit Team” to conduct apportation. The technique is as follows: Breathing into the Root center for an in-breath of 7 counts, Holding for three while mentally or visually directing that energy up the spine to the base of the throat for a count of 3, and exhaling for a count of 7, then repeating the process 7 times. This usually generates heat, and the same energy can also be used in Spiritual Healing.


6. Carl Horton Pierce

The Reverend Pierce advises that living the most Spiritual life we can, lays fertile soil for the development of Spiritual Gifts. Clean and healthy bodies, a good relationship with our spirit guides, and remembering to ask Spirit to help us is key!

7. Mable Riffle

A force to be reckoned with from Camp Chesterfield, Mable Riffle gives the advise of asking our Spirit Band to always assume the same location in our aura, every time we work with them to create a trustworthy system with our Spirit Team. In regards to developing trumpet mediumship, she suggests that during sitting for physical phenomena, rubbing your hands briskly together to generate energy, and directing that energy toward the trumpet by then extending your hands towards the trumpet(s) in the center of the table. Riffle also suggest the Lords Prayer and a hymn at the start of each circle to set the tone for the evening.

8. Hugh Gordon Burroughs

Burroughs guidance consists of cultivating a selfless attitude, faith and trust, and willingness to be of service. Through a prayerful life and seeing the Divine in everyone, we can begin our unfoldment with sincere intent.

9. Mamie B Schulz

Known for her Billet reading, Mamie Schulz suggest starting that development through psychometrey. As we develop in our psychic link with objects, we can then shift the focus to connecting with Spirit people tied to the owners of the objects. Mamie also advises us not to forget the importance of Spirit Inspiration in our mediumship.

10. Albert Strode

“Medium is God manifesting through mankind” says Strode. Learning inspirational speaking, study and meditation are advised to attract Spirit Guides of the highest calibre. Strode feels that sitting for spirit with joy and love in your heart paired with a desire to learn is a recipe for success. Additionally he also advises us to treat our Spirit helpers with the same respect that we would treat our Earthly friends. and asking them to assist us in soul traveling to the Spirit world (and asking to remember) that we may absorb the knowledge and wisdom from those visitations in ways that we will remember.


11. Clifford Bias

Clifford is one of my personal favorites of Mediums from the past. Bias was known for his many expressions of mediumship both mental and physical. Bias suggests that understanding theory and physical science as well as the law of conservation of energy are foundational before seeking to develop. He also recommends the following books:

Guide to Mediumship by Delta Samadhi
Laws of Mediumship by C.C. Zain
Guide to Mediumship by E.W. Wallis
Biopneumonia by Levi
What Mediumship is by Horace Leaf
Psychic Control by W.W. Kenilworth

In regards to direct voice, Clifford theorizes that sitting with other physical mediums cam activate latent physical potential that exists within us, and encourages us to sit several times with potential teachers. He holds the psychic circle as sacred and advises us to treat that time as such, as well as the importance of keeping a diary of our development. He also conducts development circles in a way that the first half is in light, and the second half is in darkness so that mental and physical development and growth can be worked in the same circle.

12. Nelly Curry

Mrs Curry like Marx earlier suggests visualizing and memorizing objects. When he have gotten good at this, Curry suggests trying to imagine seeing people in as much detail and specificity as possible. When we feel confident in holding the imagery and detail of people, we may ask our guides for a message in regards to those people whose image we hold, and noticing other visuals that come to us. Curry tells us to use our common sense and not get discouraged as we sit to develop.


13. M. Mcbride Panton

Panton is one of the mindset who is against the idea of self development, but encourages it within the safety of a circle with an experienced leader. He also advises an attitude of expectancy over hopefulness and wishful thinking.

14. Geraldine Pelton

Known for her precipitation mediumship and direct spirit art. In the development of such Pelton recommends getting small canvas or paper, and pastels. For several days meditate with the paper and pastels to “charge” them with energy. Afterward, when sitting for the manifestation of phenomena, sit in a darkened room in front of the paper and pastels for 30 minutes, alternating between focusing on the pastels, and then the paper. Pelton recommended sitting no more than 3 times a week for the development of this phenomena.

15. William H. Jackson 

Trumpet Medium Jackson insists that trust in the divine is essential, along with a working understanding of natural law. As you build power and blend with the god of your understanding, discernment develops and your guides will eventually reveal themselves to you.

In regards to trumpet/direct voice development Jackson recommends keeping a vessel of water in the seance room.

16. Maud Fox

Mrs Fox suggest prayer as a starting point. Remember you can pray for the development of your mediumship! Prayer is a form of attunement. Pray for Spirits power to flow through you in your works. In addition Maud feels strongly about the idea of knowing thyself. In regards to demonstration she reminds us to attune to the body language of our spirit contact- this way, as we take on mannerisms of our contact, we not only share survival but show it.

17. Richard Zenor

Mental and emotional self-care are essential in Zenor’s opinion. He also advises staying with one or two earthly teachers in life, because it makes it easier for our spirit helpers to know how we work, and the energies that work with us in an earthly sense. Mr Zenor is also an advocate of the power of positive thinking.


To read the full text of Robert Chaney’s Book, you can download a PDF with the link below.


Mediums of the Past: Leonora “White Crow” Piper

By Travis Sanders


One of the most hailed trance-mediums of the early 1900’s was Leonora E. Piper. Despite being born in 1857, Piper’s psychic experiences didn’t start until around 8 years of age, when a blow to the head induced clairaudient sounds. The sounds produced the name of Aunt Sarah, who unbeknownst to Leonora, and her mother, had passed away the very same moment as Leonora’s injury.

In 1881 Leonora married William Piper, and not long after attended a seance by blind clairvoyant and healer, Dr J.E. Cocke. While Cocke went into trance, Piper did too, simultaneously, and channeled automatically a written message of a profound nature- and of which she had no awareness of.


After that Leonora’s ability as a trance medium blossomed. An American, (Boston) Piper traveled to the UK and was studied by leading psychical researchers of the time, including Sir William Crookes. It was through the agency of her mediumship that the “Faunus” message was delivered in 1915, predicting the death of Sir Oliver’s  son, and consecutive sittings with Mrs. Piper, (along with messages received through table tipping) made a believer out of Lodge in the legitimacy of her Trance Mediumship and the survival of his son’s consciousness.

Pipers primary control was a french doctor named Dr Phinuit (pronounced “Finney”) though her controls changed over the years. It is debated whether the controls were independent beings or aspects of her subconscious, regardless, the evidence of her trances left no doubt that the communications from and about loved ones were genuine spirit-contacts.


Mrs Piper earned the nickname “White Crow” from William James- a researcher with the American Society for Psychical Research, after he was quoted saying “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, it is enough if you prove that one crow is white. My white crow is Mrs Piper.”

As Leonora aged, and tended to her ailing mother, her trance mediumship faded, and by the time of her death in 1950 was limited to mostly automatic writing. Despite this, during the years of 1885 and 1915, she was one of the most tested and impressive trance mediums in the world.

Great Moments of Modern Mediumship: Meilleur
The Mighty Dead: Penczak
The Spirit Book: Buckland