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Physical Mediumship

What is Physical Mediumship?

Also known as Materialisation. Another rare form of mediumship and one that is controversial, due in the main, to many supposed mediums who were proven to be fraudulent during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unfortunately, this bad press still stigmatises this form of mediumship today and very few mediums are prepared to demonstrate their ability. The few who do, ensure that their séances are held under tight protocols that prevent, or at least reduce the chance of fraud on the part of the medium. (It must be said that this is not always deliberate) And that the sitters or guest can bring nothing into the room that could cause harm to the medium or other people present. These physical mediumship circles tend to be closed groups and the sitters tremendously protective of their medium or link. They are trusted and responsible individuals who are well aware of the dangers that the medium faces and the harm that they may come to if things were to go wrong, for example if someone shone a torch on the medium when they are producing ectoplasm, they could be very seriously burned by the rapid return of the substance to the body. The group will follow the correct procedures to the letter and remain dedicated and loyal to an experiment that will probably last for years with little or nothing to show for it at times. Least of all monetary gain.

All this effort does have a reward, if developed to a level that Spirit entities can use the ectoplasm generated by the medium (and sitters at times) to materialise into the appropriate shape and density required to make up a recognisable figure or part thereof, this can produce the most evidential of experience for the sitters or visitors. The conditions created in the séance room are arguably the closest environment that the realms of Spirit and physical can come together, working as one in harmony.

Not all mediums can produce ectoplasm, although it is believed to be present in all of us and those that do, may not be prepared to allow themselves to be used in such a way. It can be unpleasant to all concerned, medium, sitters and those coming through. Séances are conducted in total darkness, with the exception of low, red or infrared light as directed by the Spirit team working with the group. Total darkness is outside the normal experience of most people and many cannot tolerate being in such an unusual environment. Irrational fear of the darkness and claustrophobia can overtake them. We have seen a tough builder so unsettled that he wanted to leave the room and that was before anyone came to speak with us from Spirit or manifest. When they did, the communicator reassured the anxious gentleman that he had nothing to fear and that “he was no more than an old dead man!” Others may be apprehensive about what will actually take place during the séance. All these concerns are quite natural human emotions and are alleviated by familiarity and building the vital bond of trust and love that forms between the Spirit team and the group.

During a physical séance items are likely to be manipulated around the room by ectoplasmic rods, these articles will usually have small luminous tabs affixed to them so that they can be seen in the darkness and are objects deliberately left in the room as experimental tools. Anything not required in the proceedings is usually removed. Despite the speed in which things can move, great care and dexterity is demonstrated by the Spirit control, avoiding hitting or crashing into the sitters, even in tightly packed rooms.

We personally received what appears to be a communication from Marlene’s grandmother written on the inside of two children’s chalkboards that were taped together. We have experienced physical manifestation and have been shaken by the hand by manifest visitors who displayed small child like hands, then large, manly hands in quick succession. The very first time we sat in a physical séance the very solid form of Marlene’s late uncle came through, took our hands and swung them around. In life he had Downs’ and eventually passed away in his 50’s He was always a great fan of football and was singing “Football, football” when he came shuffling up to us in his usual clumsy manner. He then proceeded to provide evidential information about his life that could not have been known to the medium. At the end of the sitting the medium, who was restrained in a quite heavy fireside chair by plastic cable ties, was levitated out of the cabinet in his chair and deposited with a thump in the middle of the room. No one was touched or had their toes squashed by the movement of the chair, no mean feat in such a very small room.

These are a few of the experiences that we have had, nothing we could say about this would convince the sceptic. Any experience of this nature is only meaningful to those present and in particular the recipients of that evidence or information that may have been given.. At times the most trivial sounding references can provide the most evidential proof of the survival of the human spirit. Most delightful was the ecstasy that a gentle kiss on the cheek brought to a friend, when her departed husband came through for her, provided the most evidential of information, then kissed her in this familiar manner before withdrawing.

Some time ago we were privileged to attend a talk given by Tom Harrison about the physical circle that was formed for his late mother Minnie in 1946, sitting until the mid 1950’s when failing health forced her to stop.. The circle came together in the tiny back room of their friends bakers shop in Middlesbrough, at the time Minnie Harrison was 51. This group is unusual in that they achieved physical phenomena and full materialisation very quickly indeed, they had numerous ‘visitors’ included several deceased relations and a North American Indian, ‘Sunrise`. Many photographs were taken using infrared film in the total darkness and in subdued red light using fast Kodak film with a two minute exposure setting. Some show ectoplasm being generated from the mediums mouth. A photograph of “Aunt Agg” is very convincing as it show the figure of an elderly lady wrapped in what looks like a sheet with and overlarge head onto which a very clear and normal size face is projected. What is really interesting is that the figure becomes less dense towards the floor! As the materialised figures withdrew, they are reported to have melted back into the floor as if going through an invisible trap door, continuing to speak until they had almost disappeared.

Some may scoff at these descriptions and point to some sort of illusion or trickery, but what has to be remembered is motive. What motive would anybody have to collude with theirs fellows to produce these tricks over a sustained period when no one would see them and no financial gain was to be had?

Tom Harrison has produced a small book about the experiences of his mother’s circle entitled “Visits By Our Friends From The Other Side.” His opening words say it all;

“The purpose of this book….. To raise money for those admirable Charities dedicated to the nursing care of long suffering victims of cancer – which ravaged both my mother and my first wife for so many years………

…… It happened as I have recounted it – without any financial or material gain ever being contemplated. My mother would have been abhorred at the very thought. Any motive therefore for deception, trickery or ’having to make something happen’ was completely non-existent.

My personal notes made immediately after each weekly sitting are the major source of information for this book. What you read are Facts not Fiction. Genuine eye – witness testimony.”

Tom Harrison, Visits By Our Friends From The Other Side

Tom is very plainly spoken and we would guess that his words sum up just about everyone’s sincerity and dedication in connection with physical, materialisation mediumship.

The Noah’s Ark Society was the body that represents this branch of mediumship and are “A world wide educational society for the promotion, development and safe practice of physical mediumship” They also produced a periodical entitled The Ark Review. Sadly the Society has closed up after many years of research.

The New Spiritual Science Foundation (Scole Experimental Group) is another group which has been closed. They produced A Basic Guide to the Development of Physical Phenomena Using Energy which was very good. This is a different discipline, but the principles of good working practice are universal and this is a very informative handbook. It is possible that there are used copies around that are worth seeking out. See also ‘The Scole Experiment’ by Grant and Jane Solomon, which is a good overview of their work and ‘Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research’ Vol. 58, part 220. Dated November 1999. (This report runs to 452 pages).

Tom Harrison’s book Visits by our Friends From the Other Side (ISBN 0951453408 – paperback) is available from the Arthur Finlay College at Stansted Hall, Essex. and many other retailers.

Sir Oliver Lodge (1851 – 1940) as a result of his research concluded;

“I have been in touch with the minds of certain people who have parted from their bodies. How can a mind get in touch with us when it has no body? It must borrow some material form; But because Spirits are discarnate it does not mean they have no bodies. They have substantial bodies, not made up of matter, but as I think of as ether.”


We have used the term ectoplasm in the essay on physical or materialistation mediumship and indicated that it a material that is drawn from the medium and at times, sitters to enable work to be do in the séance room or provides the substance with which materialised manifestation can use to form.

Sceptics will often complain that no one knows what this elusive substance is, because no one has ever analysed any of it in a scientific manner. This is completely untrue. There is in fact, an abundance of evidence from top scientists that ectoplasm is real and is the motive force behind many psychic phenomena and materialisation.

One early and very notable researcher was Charles Richet (1850 – 1935) who, in 1913 was awarded the Nobel Laureate in Medicine in recognition for his work on anaphyaxis (hypersensitivity of tissues to a dose of antigen) He was the person that invented the term “ectoplasm” to describe the substance he was analysing and it comes from the Greek meaning literally ‘exteriorized substance’. He found that ectoplasm in its first stage in both invisible to the naked eye and intangible, yet could still be photographed in the infra red spectrum. In its second stage he found that it became vaporous, liquid or solid and produced a smell similar to ozone. We ourselves, have been told by Spirit communicators that it contains high levels of ammonia which also adds to its rather unpleasant odour.

Richet was obviously perplexed by the enigma of his findings and observed;

“There is ample proof that experimental materialization (ectoplasmic) should take definite rank as a scientific fact. Assuredly we do not understand it. It is very absurd, if a truth can be absurd.”

Baron Von Schrenck-Notzing, a Munich physician, showed that ectoplasm is composed of leucocytes, which are white or colourless blood cells and epithelial cells from the various protective tissues of the body. Professor W.J. Crawford found that during a séance the medium, who was his test subject, reduced in weight very considerably. He also found that all the movements within the room where the result of manipulation by ectoplasmic rods. Research into the nature of ectoplasm is still undertaken today by a few who are prepared to risk reputation and ridicule by their peers.
A key feature, or weakness of ectoplasm is it sensitivity to light and physical injury it can cause to the medium if something should go wrong. This can lead to burning, bruising and haemorrhaging of the mediums body, we must be in no doubt that, in the severest case, this could be terminal. We personally know a medium who was left covered in blood and haemorrhaging, when someone tried to enter the door of a temporary séance room that should have been locked. Even after they were cleaned up, it took several weeks before they recovered. The séance room must also be very clean, as there have been cases where fibres and other small pieces of debris have been found inside the mediums body after being inadvertently collected during the return of the ectoplasm.

This article is part of our Mediumship series.






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