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.