by Travis Sanders
American medium, Etta Wriedt, was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1859. She was said to be a remarkable direct-voice medium, and only charged $1 dollar for seances.
Much like the more contemporary Leslie Flint, Wriedt did not enter trance to produce her phenomena, and often was heard conversing with the spirits along with her sitters. Additionally she never tired from producing phenomena as many physical mediums do.
According to her primary control, a Scottish pharmacist called “John Sharp,” he used a collective energy from the sitters more-so than drawing energy from the medium to produce the phenomena. While the majority of her seances were held in the dark, she was known to occasionally produce phenomena in in partial and even full-light conditions.
Like most physical mediums, Etta was not free of accusations of fraud and ventriloquism. Poet W.B. Yeats was dismissive of her seances’ authenticity, and Norwegian scientist Prof. Birkeland claimed to have uncovered use of chemical reactions caused by potassium and lycopodium to produce reactions attributed to Spirit.
However, multitudes of people, including psychical researcher and author, Admiral Usborne Moore, and journalist W.T. Stead attested to phenomena incapable of being produced by trickery. Stead even invited Wriedt to the UK to hold seances, which she did, and where the infamous spirit-control John King, would work with Etta, and take charge of producing even more phenomena that before, such as partial materialization, spirit lights, and movement of objects.
There are numerous accounts of 5 different languages being spoken via Wriedt’s direct voice phenomena, despite the fact that Etta only spoke English. Below is a testimonial from one of Etta Wriedt’s seance attendees, James Robertson:
“The voice of my mother was the voice I was familiar with, the same broad Doric speech, as if she had never gone from us. The Scotch idioms were never departed from for a moment; if we did not see her in the habit in which she lived, we, at least, felt she was unchanged in manner; the girls present were still children to her, and her memory of the earth life and its people quite keen. She spoke to me as if we had but parted yesterday, called me Jeems as she had always done while in the body, and as she had often done since when influencing other mediums to speak to me. Here, it was speaking direct as it were without using another’s voice. Mrs. Wriedt could not by any possibility have given a replica of the Scotch tones I heard, for while my mother was conversing with my daughters the medium was talking in her usual Yankee tones.”