Albert Wishart was a native of Belfast, Ireland. Born to a teen mother in October 1917, he was informally adopted by the Best family soon after. Albert did not speak much about his childhood, only mentioning that it was difficult.  Although modest and reclusive, he was known for his sense of humor, his love of whiskey, and friendly personality.

Albert recalled having his first spiritual experience at the age of seven in 1925, when he saw the full materialization of a Spirit.  That same year, the Belfast Spiritualist Alliance was established at Central Hall, near his home. The Alliance would later play a pivotal role in Albert’s development.

Albert quit school at the age of 14 after Mrs. Best died. In 1932, he began working as a fitter in the Belfast Rope Works. He also attended the Belfast Spiritualist Alliance Church. It wasn’t long before they recognized Albert’s spiritual gifts. He was invited to sit in Circle for development.

Albert married, and he and Rose had three children.  September 1939, he volunteered to join the 6th Battalion of the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers. He was taken prisoner of war and shot twice; once in the mouth and once in his left hand, which left it paralyzed. After being released from prison camp, he returned to home to find that Rose and the children had been killed during a German air raid in Belfast on May 5, 1941. What remained of the bodies was buried in a mass grave.

Albert was devastated and wouldn’t return to Belfast permanently. Instead, he moved to Scotland and settled in Ayrshire where we worked for the Post Office. He found a development Circle there, and by 1951 started to attend the Spiritualist Church in Kilmarnock.  Utilizing his experience in the Post Office, he was not only able to give the names of visiting spirits during trance, he could also give addresses and telephone numbers as well as information about past lives and events.

One person witnessed the following during one of Best’s demonstrations: “If I had not been in the company of people who I consider sane of mind, I would not have believed my eyes, as the chair, along with Mr. Best, lifted up till the little man’s head was near ceiling height. No sooner had this happened that voices could be heard, which I can say came from no one seen sitting in that room. The chair slowly returned to the floor with Mr. Best still calling out to the invisible forces around him and the session ended soon after. The medium explained that he was unharmed and never in any danger, but he did not like it when they played games like that just to impress people. He said that the spirits who had played this prank on him were men who had been part of his squadron during the war and who had died in Africa in 1943. This was Mr. Best’s account; quite honestly, I, along with the most of my group, even those among us with a background in physics, have absolutely no explanation for what we experienced.”
By the late 1950’s Albert left his job in the Post Office and moved to Glasgow. He joined a new Healing Sanctuary in Thornhill and remained as a Healer in this non-denominational Sanctuary until 1982. Albert traveled the world, visiting places like India and Australia. On his visit to India in 1991, he warned Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to stay out of crowds as he was in great peril. Weeks later, Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber. He also saw the materialization of his children while visiting India.

Both his mediumship and healing ability were legendary. Albert turned down countless offers to appear on television, but mentored celebrity mediums Colin Fry and Gordon Smith. He was a renowned tutor at Arthur Findlay College for years. He was honored for his unceasing work for Spiritualism by being awarded Spiritualist of the Year in 1994.

Albert was hospitalized in Glasgow on April, 2 1996. At one point he saw his wife and children in the room with him. Witnesses said there were tears of joy in his eyes, and he told visitors: “They’ve come, you will have to let me go.” Afterward, he slipped into a coma from which he never regained full consciousness. He passed ten days later and left his body to medical research with a Scottish University. Best is considered one of the most important Spiritualist Mediums of the 21st Century.


Trance, Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, and automatic writing are all techniques used by Spiritualists to communicate with the spirit world.   A number of physical mediums were able to produce the phenomena called Direct Voice at the turn of the 20th century.  The list includes Mrs. Everitt, Mr. Cecil Husk, Mr. CE Williams and George Spriggs, but one person who stands out is Mrs. Etta Wriedt.

Etta was born in Detroit in 1859.   She was a professional medium who only charged one dollar for a séance.   She didn’t sit in a cabinet, and never went into trance. Etta had two spirit guides. One guide was named Dr. John Sharp. He said he’d been born in Glasgow in the 18th century but moved to the US where he became an apothecary farmer in Evansville, Indiana.  The other contacted Etta during her five trips to Great Britain. He was called John King or “Sir Henry Morgan” and he had lived in Britain 250 years before.

During Etta’s visits, John King produced many physical manifestations. Flowers were taken from vases and handed to sitters, invisible fingers touched the sitters, luminous discs as bright as the moon moved around the inside of the circle.  Sitters were also sprinkled with drops of water and wafted with cool air. Heavy objects moved around them. Etta clairvoyantly read names that were shown to her. When she called out the name, if it was recognized by one of the sitters, the name would be called through a trumpet by a spirit.

Etta never went into a trance, so she talked naturally through all of her séances. She would give names and described spirit visitors, and indicate whom they had come to communicate with.   Sometimes she would be interrupted by a spirit voice, and the two would talk simultaneously.   Voices were heard in full-light as well as in darkness.  Two, sometimes three and rarely four voices were heard speaking at the same time about matters unknown to the medium.  On one occasion one voice was singing while the other spoke. Etta only spoke English, but the voices spoke other in languages such as Dutch, French, Spanish, Norwegian and Arabic.

Sir William Barrett said of her mediumship, “I went to Mrs. Wriedt’s séances in a somewhat skeptical spirit, but I came to the conclusion that she was a genuine and remarkable medium, and has given abundant proof to others, beside myself that the voices and the contents of the messages given are wholly beyond the range of trickery or collusion.”

Admiral W. Usborne Moore made detailed records about the extraordinary mediumship of Etta Wriedt. “This American woman has a mysterious gift which enables those who sit in the same room with her to learn of the continued existence of those whose physical bodies have perished. The possession of this strange power is acquired by no virtue of her own; she was born with it,” he said.

Further reading:

An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).

 “The Voices” by Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore.

“This World – and Beyond” by Mrs P. Champion De Crespigny




Usborne Moore spent 35 years in the British navy and commanded six surveying vessels before he retired. At that time, he was agnostic, but he was unfamiliar with beliefs outside the traditional churches. Looking for the truth, he began investigating mediumship in the early 1900s. He observed dozens of mediums in both Great Britain and the United States and reported his findings in two books: “Glimpses of the Next State” and “The Voices.”

Moore said that his study of spiritualism was not the result of the search for a loved one who had passed. He simply wanted to get at the truth. He felt that as a surveyor, interested in detail, he was as qualified to investigate the subject matter. He explored both physical and mental mediumship.

Moore’s first trip to America lasted one month. What he witnessed convinced him that those whom he had thought of as dead were very much alive. Medium Joseph B. Jonson of Toledo, Ohio, initially materialized his father and mother. “In these there was no possibility of error,” Moore wrote. On February 1, 1909, Jonson manifested 10 spirits for Moore, including Moore’s father, mother, and Lola, a deceased relative who appeared to him many times. Etta Wriedt of Detroit was so impressive, that Moore’s book, The Voices, published in 1913 dealt solely with her mediumship.

When Moore returned to England he wanted to persuade others that Spiritualism was not a delusion and could not be disregarded. What he discovered was that many others could not see or hear what he did. Their minds were unprepared. “They were both hostile to the subject, and their eyes and ears were open only to what their minds expected – which was nothing – or fraud,” he said.

Moore did admit there was a great deal of fraud in the practice of mediumship. He said, “The temptations of these psychics are great; whatever powers they possess are sporadic and cannot be summoned at will; they find this out early in their development, and, in order to maintain regular séances, they learn the art of jugglery to ‘help out’ their particular gift at times when they feel they have not got their usual power.”

Moore returned to America in December 1908. He spent two and a half months traveling to the cities of Rochester, Toledo, Detroit, and Chicago. He experienced automatic mirror-writing, materialization, direct writings, pictures precipitated by invisible intelligences, and direct voice. The evidence he obtained in these circles convinced him that he had directly communicated with Lola and with many relatives and friends.

Moore said that communication with the spirit world is a complex process. Spirits may answer questions in a contradictory and misleading manner. He attributed this to the struggle in translating from one world to the next. “The difficulty of our spirit visitors in communicating at all must be enormous,” he said. “We ply them with questions, the majority of which they are not able to answer because they have not yet reached the higher spheres; they make the attempt by stating what they have heard from others, and are, doubtless, often incorrect…”

The spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle described Moore as “among the greatest of psychic researchers.” Moore died March 15, 1918.



Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) began studying reports of past-life memories 45 years ago. They found that cases in children occur worldwide, although they are more prevalent in cultures that believe in reincarnation. Over 2,5000 cases have been investigated.

Ian Stevenson, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry reviewed published case studies in 1960, before starting his own research. He traveled to both India and Ceylon. There, he used a careful, methodical approach to document the phenomena. One of his books was reviewed by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1975. The reviewer said the past-life evidence was “difficult to explain on any other grounds.”

Past-life cases share many common characteristics. Children begin to describe the previous life when they are between 2-3 years old and stop by age 6. Their stories about past lives occur spontaneously, without the aid of hypnosis. Previous lives tend to be like the child’s present life, in similar cultures and life styles. They indicate that there is a time interval between lives. And surprisingly, in 70% of the cases, they died by unnatural means in the past life.

If the child gives enough information, there is an attempt to identify the person of the past life. When cases are investigated, history is obtained from as many people as possible. The previous family is also interviewed to determine how accurate the child is.

Birthmarks and birth defects appear to match wounds that were fatal to the previous person. Stevenson published 200 cases. One example includes a girl with deformed fingers remembering the life of a man whose fingers were cut off. In another example, a boy was born with two birthmarks on his head, a small one in the back and a larger irregular one on his forehead. The person he claimed to have been was murdered by being shot in the head, with wound locations in the areas of the birth marks.

Most children focus on the end of the previous life. 75% give details of the death, especially when it was violent. 20% report memories between lives. Some describe the funeral or staying in the area where they died. One child said, as a man, he stayed for 7 years near the tree where his body was dumped before following his future father home. Others spoke of entering other realms and seeing other entities there.

The children also displayed behaviors associated with the past life. Many had a phobia dealing with the previous person’s means of death. Some acted out scenarios that the person lived. Those who were the opposite sex in past life acted as the other sex when young.

Dr. Jim Tucker, director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at UVA, has focused his research on the United States. Those cases include 57% boys and 43% girls, aged 4 or younger. In 90% of the cases, the person had an unnatural death. In 16 cases where the previous person has been identified, 14 were deceased family members. Tucker’s most recent book, Return to Life, describes some of those accounts.


Statements made by children who seem to be remembering a previous life may include:

“You’re not my mommy/daddy.”

“I have another mommy/daddy.”

“When I was big, I …(used to have blue eyes/had a car, etc.).”

“That happened before I was in mommy’s tummy.”

“I have a wife/husband/children.”

“I used to…(drive a truck/live in another town, etc.)”

“I died … (in a car accident/after I fell, etc.)”

“Remember when I …(lived in that other house/was your daddy, etc.)”

The Division of Perceptual Studies is interested in hearing about cases of young children remembering past lives. Their web page is available here.

For further reading: Children’s Reports of Past-Life Memories: A Review. Jim B. Tucker, MD. Explore 2008; 4:244-248 Elsevier Inc.


According to spiritualist H. Gordon Burroughs, “Every day is a new time; we have all eternity in which to grow, to become, to arrive in fullness and completeness.”

No matter how we arrived into this world, rich or poor, healthy or ill, wanted or unwanted, it is our choice to either hang on to the past and wallow in our condition, or to move ahead with what we’ve been given. Spiritualism teaches that no matter how long we have in this life or how we feel at this moment, we can leave all our mistakes in the past and begin anew.

Dwelling upon our past and present physical conditions often prevents us from doing worthwhile things and creating a better future. When we seek to use higher forces, we can put aside the lower or physical side of our life.  According to Burroughs, “Spiritualism says to the so-called practical ones of earth, forget yourselves; lay aside that part of yourselves to which you have listened so long, that part which says, I cannot; I fear.”

When seeking our spiritual self, our minds awaken to right and constructive thinking. We become receptive to the promptings of the “real” self.  By leaving our ego behind, we can reach higher and perform greater achievements. With training, we can achieve power which removes all obstacles on our path of life. We find that our physical body is in harmony with the world. Ill health, unhappiness, and failure are cast aside. The spirit self knows no defeat and is a part of the All.

Pain and pleasure are part of human existence. Pain is the result of working against nature; pleasure is working in harmony nature. We can endure pleasure longer then pain because it is harmonious, but both too much pain and pleasure can destroy our ultimate spiritual goal. Spiritualism teaches that we should enjoy everything in moderation. It is that moderation that allows for a happy existence on the earth plane and in spirit world as well.

To be successful we should consider perseverance an ideal goal. Burroughs said Spiritualism teaches that “the secret of success lies in seeking high and right ends, and in embracing every opportunity of attaining them, never forgetful of the golden rule in whatever station in life it may please infinite intelligence to place us.” Find what you do well, and do it unselfishly, without thought of reward or fame. Get rid of the ego. Selfish effort in time usually brings only failure.

Spiritualism also says to love and to be loved and respected during our short lives here. The goal is not to attain the most popularity or possessions. When we depart to the spirit world, we should leave behind a well-rounded, useful life. The spark of Divinity that dwells within each of us should give us poise, receptivity, and sympathy. Love and kindness should be part of our daily life. This leads to true success.


In Part 1, I discussed how to use a Mediumship Circle to train a novice medium. Other types of less formal Mediumship Circles can also be used to communicate with the spiritual world.  These include open and closed, and Church and Home Circles.

Closed Church Circles give church members an avenue in which to practice elevating their vibrations to connect with the spirit world. The same individuals attend the circle at regular intervals, usually weekly. It’s important to have a circle Leader who handles the administrative details. Circles should have a qualified Medium, and sitters should enter the circle with a positive frame of mind.

Open Church Circles encourage people to experience Spiritualism outside of a formal church service. Since these circles are open to anyone, the church must have a qualified and capable leader to run the group. The leader should introduce the circle with a few words about the philosophy of Spiritualism. Because there may be individuals who are unfamiliar with the process, the leader should also explain the purpose and expectations of the circle to them.

It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that messages are delivered as briefly as possible so that all may have a turn. Healing should not be offered without permission. Demonstrators should not work in trance conditions so that newcomers aren’t confused. The leader makes sure that no one oversteps their bounds and that the circle is held in a respectful manner.

Home Circles date back to the origin of Spirtualism, when friends gathered in homes to communicate with the spiritual world. Today’s home circles work in much the same way. A group of acquaintances gather at regular intervals to contact the spirit world. These circles can be closed or open.

The Closed Home Circle is composed of a set of regularly attending individuals. They meet with the purpose of expanding their consciousness and improving their ability to connect with the spiritual world. Mediums will be able to improve their ability to unfold latent mental and physical abilities under these conditions.

Open Home Circles are available for anyone who is interested in communicating with the spiritual world, either through mental or physical messages. Because the sitters may change week to week, the consistency of the vibrations in the open circle continuously change, but it allows for the inclusion of new people and encourages discussions of Spirituality.




Natural psychics are much more common than mediums. Many use their abilities without training, but both psychics and mediums can benefit by developing their innate gifts. Therefore, it’s important to have disciplined mediumship circles available to help individual mediums achieve greater awareness and control over their abilities.

Three people may constitute a circle, but to train a medium seven is preferred. The Spiritualist’s National Union suggests that training circles be composed of a Leader, Medium, Circle Recorder, Novice Medium and four Sitters. Each person has their own task to preform while the circle is in session.

Circles should not be held in rooms that are constantly used, because discordant vibrations could be present. Draperies and rugs should be avoided because they absorb power from the room. The idea location would be empty except for a light wooden table and plain but comfortable chairs. The temperature should be moderate so it does not distract, the air well ventilated to maintain an adequate oxygen supply.

The Leader makes absolute decisions about what happens in the circle. This person should have extensive training and knowledge and be able to observe and analyze what’s happening during the session. Other members of the circle must follow the leader’s instructions, unless of course, they are asked to go against their own principles or moral code. The Leader will be given instructions by the spirits through the Medium, but evaluate all directives before proceeding.

The Medium will assist in maintaining communication and cooperation with spirit guides or operators. When a Novice Medium is present, the Medium will advise the Leader about the psychic conditions and help the Novice by inducing mediumistic power. The medium should not be the Leader of the circle.

The Circle Recorder is appointed by the leader to sit outside the circle and take notes on all of the proceedings. An audio or video recorder may be used instead if the spirits have no objections.

The Novice should show some indication that she/he is endowed with psychic ability and spiritual aptitude to begin mediumship circle training. The novice will learn under controlled circle conditions to “tune in” to the spirit frequency level. As the medium learns to respond to the energy forces of a controlling spirit, she will develop a relationship with the spirit, who will eventually become a guide or helper.

The Sitters provide power for the circle. For novice development, four Sitters are preferred. They should be harmonious and healthy, but it is not a requirement that they have special psychic abilities. They must agree to participate for the sole purpose of providing energy to the Medium and Novice. They must refrain from pursuing their own development at that time.




Even though physical mediumship began in the 19th century, it wasn’t until near the end of the 20th century before any long term experimental type investigation was conducted. The Scole Experiment took place between 1993 and 1998 and was led by four core members, Robin and Sandra Foy and Alan and Diana Bylett who were mediums. The trials took place in the cellar of Foy’s 17th century farmhouse located in the village of Scole in northeast England.

The cellar room was about 15 x 30 feet and painted midnight blue. The four would sit around a circular wooden table which held various crystals. All sessions were conducted in complete darkness and participants wore luminous armbands so all could observe their movements.

According to Robin Foy, “What we wanted to do was to provide physical evidence for other people to witness, which would provide actual proof of life after death that could be studied scientifically. In short we wanted to prove beyond any doubt that life goes on beyond death.”

Although the four were experienced mediums, it took meeting twice a week for a year before any results were observed. In October 1993, they witnessed the first of a series of paranormal phenomena, a coin was ‘apported’ out of thin air and materialized on the table.

After that, they witness a variety of lights darting around the room. Objects levitated and floated. Voices emanated from mid-air. This was followed by two-way communications with a team of spirit people through a cheap tape recorder.

The four were informed by spirit entities that the location of the house was a significant factor in helping build a bridge between the worlds. The ability to create this bridge was assisted by what they referred to as “creative energy.”

Over time there was a remarkable range of physical evidence produced, including photographic and video material, numerous apports, levitating objects, spirit hands interacting with observers and spirit voices communicating directly from a point in space.

One apport was a pristine copy of the Daily Mail dated April 1, 1944 that included an article about medium Helen Duncan’s 18-month prison sentence which was handed down under the Witchcraft Act. The paper was found to be genuine and in such excellent condition it would have had to have been in special protective storage for 50 years.

Scientific observers, including David Fontana, Arthur Ellison and Montague Keen, were invited to monitor sessions as well as a professional magician. The highly respected Society for Psychical Research in London conducted a lengthy investigation and published a positive report.




Physical mediumship was fairly common in the early half of the 20th century, but waned over the last 80 years. Recently, it appears to be making a comeback. Mediums are advertising their abilities to communicate with the spirit world and produce physical manifestations during demonstrations.

Physical Mediums provide an interface of communication between our world and the spirit world. They can manifest energies and energy systems created by spirits. The processes results in physical displays, such as loud raps and noises, materialized objects or apports, materialized spirit bodies, or body parts such as hands, legs and feet. Other physical phenomena that can be produced are physical smells, hot or cold drafts, levitation, transfiguration, spirit lights, and direct voice communication.

True physical mediumship is believed to be very rare because of the bodily toll it takes while allowing spirits to materialize. Substances are taken from the medium’s body to form what is called ectoplasm and photoplasm.  Because the process can be draining or even physically painful, physical manifestations were historically created under the direction of groups or circles of people, rather than a single medium.

Another reason for the rarity of physical mediumship is the fact that the development of the process can be a lengthy and tedious, with no materializations happening in a circle for months or years. It requires an extended commitment on everyone’s part and may focus around one or two people providing the necessary energies or vibrations, while others contribute to those energies.

Because physical mediumship is rare and the potential for fraud is high, Arthur Findlay College has high standards and recommends eight points for evaluating mediums and conducting sessions where physical manifestations are expected. They are summarized here:

  1. No seances or circles should be held in total darkness. Subdued colored lights or natural lighting is preferred. The use of infra-red cameras is suggested.
  2. Mediums are required to be tested by the college before claiming to be a physical medium
  3. Rooms used should be prepared and cleaned to remove ectoplasm, clutter and metal.
  4. It is important for sitters to vocally respond to the medium.
  5. No sitters should be allowed to bring electronic devises into the room.
  6. Entrances to the room should be monitored at all times.
  7. Physical mediumship is not entertainment and should be respected as a means of connecting with the spirit world.
  8. The medium should inform the sitters what to expect before the session.

Physical Mediumship can be an important tool to demonstrating the existence of the spirit world, but can be misused as a means of entertainment and financial gain. Silver Birch, spirit guide to Maurice Barbanell, explained it this way:

“Whether manifestation of the spirit is seen or heard does not matter very much. What is more important is the unfolding of your souls’ power, for, as you sit here week after week, so you are attuning yourselves to higher vibrations and becoming more accessible to the wisdom of your ages, which is always waiting to pour itself down into your world of matter, to obey the law of service. But it must find instruments attuned to its vibrations.

“And, as your souls unfold and you rise higher and higher in the scale of vibrations, so you come into closer touch with higher and greater spiritual forces, that are not seen or heard but which belong to the eternal realities of the spirit. That is the reality of your lives. So much of your time is spent in chasing the shadows, in trying to capture the illusion, in trying to secure the ephemeral. In silence, in harmony and in love, your souls unfold all the time. Though it may be slow, it is sure and certain.”

HELEN KELLER: Swedenborg Follower


Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1880. For her first year and a half, she was like any other child. However, at nineteen months, she became ill with “brain fever,” which may have been scarlet fever or meningitis. Helen survived the serious illness, but was left blind and deaf. She described her early years as filled with nothing except “the instinct to eat and drink and sleep.” Her days were “a blank without past, present, or future, without hope or anticipation, without interest or joy.”

She described her contact with Anne Mansfield Sullivan as a transition from “nothingness to human life.” Anne arrived at their Alabama home in March of 1887 and became Helen’s personal tutor. Helen described her realization that the sign Anne was creating on her palm represented water as her first revelation. “It was as if I had come back to life after being dead!”

Helen eventually attended the Perkins School in Boston. It was there that she was introduced to John Hitz, whom she befriended until his death sixteen years later. John brought the spiritual writings of an Eighteenth Century Swedish scientist and seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, to Helen’s attention when he gave her a copy of the book, Heaven and Hell.

Even though Helen’s father was a deacon in the Presbyterian church and her mother an Episcopalian, Helen was baptized but received no special religious training. She described Swedenborg’s book as a second revelation.

“My heart gave a joyous bound,” she said. “Here was a faith that emphasized what I felt so keenly—the separateness between soul and body, between the realm I could picture as a whole, and the chaos of fragmentary things and irrational contingencies that my limited senses met at every turn.”  She credited Swedenborg with giving her a faith that turned her darkness into light. “I believe in the immortality of the soul because I have within me immortal longings. I believe that the state we enter after death is wrought of our own motives, thoughts, and deeds.”

Helen devoted her life to service, not only helping those confronted with blindness or deafness, but working to end ignorance, racism and poverty. She supported the right of workers to strike and women to vote, and was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Harvard.

She saw this new type of belief, not as a matter of doctrine, but as a loving way to understand the world. In 1928, she addressed the national meeting of Swedenborgians in Washington, DC. Her vision of Christianity was universal and all-encompassing. She saw that Swedenborgian ideals fostered true freedom and placed humanity above party, country and race. She said, “I believe that life is given us so that we may grow in love, and I believe that God is in me as the sun is in the color and fragrance of a flower-the Light in my darkness, the Voice in my silence.”

Reference: Light in My Darkness, Helen Keller, 1927.