One more post before I go off on holiday.
I believe in the after-life, having had direct evidence not just via Spiritualist mediums, but by messages coming direct to me of a deeply personal nature, which have convinced me that they could have only come from one source - people I knew who have died.
I have described some of the most astounding such evidence elsewhere, but here I want to write about keeping an open mind and maintaining a healthy skepticism, because there are always charlatans out to exploit the gullible. They write books, do demonstrations of supposed mediumship, etc. with the main motive of making money. Trying to distinguish between those with a genuine gift of mediumship, and those who are fakes is very difficult. However you develop a sort of ’sixth sense’, and I am also a good judge of character. If something or someone doesn’t seem quite right, I remain a skeptic until I can be proved wrong. Similarly, if someone is genuine and has a real gift, I can usually tell.
Most mediums are clairvoyants, clairaudients or clairsensitives. This means they see, hear or sense spirits in the next world, and relay their messages to us. These can be very convincing indeed, especially when you are in the presence of a very gifted medium. The fakes will be pretty obvious, as they will say nothing specific, and will just give vague ‘cold readings’ and pick up signs from body language and appearance. For instance, if I were to see a lady in her late 60s looking quite upset, it would be a fair assumption that one or more of her parents had passed over, and that she may have had a bereavement quite recently.
There are also physical mediums, who claim to be able to materialize spirits via a substance called ectoplasm, and they also produce voices which have been recorded on to tape. I have never had the opportunity so far to attend one of these seances, and so I have to admit I remain rather skeptical. I have seen far too many illusionists and ‘magicians’ on stage and on TV to be convinced unless and until I can attend one of these seances, and see/hear someone I recognize and can identify from the spirit world, and whom the medium could have known nothing about.
I have heard recorded voices of famous people who have died, recorded at these seances, and I have to say I am still open-minded as to whether they are genuine. It is all too easy to mimic a voice of a famous person, and this whole area of physical mediumship sits uneasily with me. I cannot say it is all fake done by clever illusionists, but I remain unconvinced to say the least. If I ever get the opportunity to attend such a seance, I can give a more informed opinion one way or the other.
There are also electronic voices recorded on tape and other recording equipment, known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). I have heard some of these too, and though they remain mysterious, not having experienced any such communication myself from someone I knew means I do not feel qualified to judge whether these are genuine voices of spirits who have passed. They all sound rather indistinct and strange, but that may well be expected due to the infancy of the technology. I am less skeptical about these voices, but still am not convinced. I keep an open mind on this and other electronic and most other physical phenomena of a supposed spiritual nature.
The only physical phenomena in this area I have had personal experience of, or know of friends who have had such an experience, is poltergeist phenomena. Pictures and photos have mysteriously moved, toppled or fallen from their frames at crucial moments for no apparent reason, yet the timing and nature of these events indicated a deeply significant meaning, and really gave little doubt as to who or what was causing them. Again, it is evidence such as this of a deeply personal nature which is most convincing.
So I’m afraid hearing voices on tape claiming to be the spirits of people like Oscar Wilde or Quentin Crisp have not yet convinced me that these are genuine physical phenomena. Take Rory Bremner and a good illusionist, and all these effects, including apports (coins, flowers, etc. apparently materializing from the spirit world) could all be repeated by them, and would involve no paranormal phenomena at all.
What remains very convincing are personal communications from people who were not famous and which contain evidence which would be very difficult, if not impossible, to fake. Also genuinely repeatable experiments into physical phenomena under strict laboratory conditions.
This whole area is now being studied scientifically, so I think any fakes will quickly be exposed as such, and we will be left with the genuine phenomena. I remain very hopeful that we will eventually be able to develop sophisticated equipment which can enable us to communicate directly with the ’spirit world’ and possibly other quantum universes/dimensions around us, without the need for people who have developed spiritualist mediumship.
Meanwhile, there is overwhelming documentary evidence that we do survive death acquired via OOBEs/NDEs (out-of-the-body and near-death experiences), from clairsensitive mediumship and poltergest phenomena.
The more physical phenomena need further scientific investigation, but may well prove to be the most convincing in the long term if they can be repeated under strict laboratory conditions.