Mediums of the Past: Leonora “White Crow” Piper

By Travis Sanders

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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