article originally appeared in "The Spiritual Scientist" (Winter 2002,
Volume 3: No. 8). It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Robin Foy.
Please visit the Scole website at www.psisci.force9.co.uk
AS THIS is to be the last issue of the Spiritual Scientist Bulletin for the time being, I thought it would be appropriate to examine in depth just what the Scole Experiment meant to me over its five years hectic duration. I am often asked just why we took the time and trouble we did to freely give so much of our lives to the investigation of, and research into physical psychic phenomena over the whole period of the experiment.
Firstly, I have to say that, from my point of view, it was certainly no trouble! It was indeed a great privilege to be a part of such an important experiment which I, and many others - including several intelligent and scientific minds - believe to have provided some of the best proof ever obtained of the reality of life after death, and of the reality of other dimensions which are not yet readily understood.
November this year sees the fourth anniversary of the end of the Scole Experiment. Although the group started off originally with seven participants, five of whom witnessed some amazing phenomena (the two mediums, unfortunately, were almost always in an altered or
trance state and so did not have the opportunity themselves except on rare occasions to witness the proceedings), three of the group left because of personal circumstances. This meant - for the bulk of the five year period - apart from the sessions when the group were joined by visitors, that there were only four of us present including the mediums, who were not conscious.
The primary observers, therefore, were just my wife Sandra and I. We both made the effort to faithfully write down our observations on a regular basis, so that the records may be preserved for future generations and, it is still hoped that before too long, I may be able to present these in book format in a fuller, more detailed and more complete version than is currently available - to be entitled
Witnessing The Impossible.
In the beginning, when the Scole group was first formed at the end of 1992, it seemed to be 'just another of our home circles' to add to the many which Sandra and I had formed and run since we met in 1977 and married in 1979. When we did meet, I had already been involved in intensive research into physical psychic phenomena for some four years, and had been a member of a number of other home circles during that time. Over the years, I was lucky enough to have attended a number of private group sittings with Leslie Flint. It was at a home circle for physical phenomena in Romford (which I started in 1975) that we came together, and helped develop a natural and powerful physical and trance medium called John Squires to the point where his mediumship allowed us to witness levitation and independent voice, similar to that which we still continued to experience at Flint's.
The Romford circle operated in the time-honoured way, with the spirit guides and helpers using ectoplasm. We knew of no
other way that physical psychic phenomena might be produced. But it was at Romford some time in 1978 that one of the guides - a spirit scientist called Dr. Dunn - speaking in an independent voice, told us it was intended that in the future, the 'spirit team' would be able to produce physical phenomena using only energy, not ectoplasm. At the time it seemed like a casual remark, the sort of thing that one files away in one's mind, thinking 'that's interesting', but not paying too much more attention to what was said, as there was very little more reference to that particular subject thereafter.
Sandra and I have had much involvement with physical psychic phenomena from 1979 onwards, as detailed in my book "In Pursuit of Physical
Mediumship". There was the Link Of Home Circles, which we helped re-form and run for four years and, following an independent voice spirit message from Noah
Zerdin, received whilst I was sitting in a physical circle at Ilkeston, Derbyshire in 1990, I personally formed the Noah's Ark Society for Physical
Mediumship, to revive interest in physical mediumship, and to help develop new physical mediums. The society, which is still running, was successful in those first years, making the public aware of physical mediumship by arranging demonstrations through two prominent but then unknown
(ectoplasmic) physical mediums. From its formation, I remained its chairman until August 1994, until specifically requested to withdraw by the spirit team at
Between 1979 and 1989, there were several physical home circles which Sandra and I started, ran and then closed down for one reason or another. Physical phenomena was developed and witnessed in varying degrees in these different circles, but was never sustained over a long period, often seeming like taking three steps forward, only to find we were then taking two and three quarter steps backwards! It was a little like going into a cul-de-sac where we came to an abrupt end; had to retrace our steps and start again. Sitters came and went, as did the signs of phenomena. But, despondent and frustrated with the different situations as we might be, we always tried again, and started
another home circle.
Through our involvement in the psychic scene, we did come across mediums and groups who seemed to be working in a different way. There was a lot of publicity surrounding the physical mediumship of Rita Goold of Leicester in the 1970's and 1980's. Although I once met Rita, we never had the opportunity to sit with her, but a good friend of ours, the late Alan
Crossley, who was a seasoned researcher in the field of physical mediumship, having had connections with Helen Duncan and most of the other well-known physical mediums, did sit with Rita on several occasions, and was adamant that her sittings and phenomena were genuine. Coming from Alan, who was never backwards in exposing fraudulent mediums - that was something of an accolade! Having heard much about Rita's
mediumship, I am convinced that the spirit team working with her were possibly operating at least partially by the use of energy - but it seemed that this was way ahead of its time, and nobody, including the medium seemed to be aware of the fact that the phenomena was energy-based.
Through the Noah's Ark Society, we were brought into contact with a physical circle in South London, when they approached us for advice. When they first approached us, there were definite examples of physical phenomena occurring at the group on a regular basis. They spoke of Independent Voices coming from mid-air, and of solid touches. We were invited to attend the group on several occasions, and were quite amazed at the phenomena we witnessed during those visits. In the beginning, the group were not aware who - if anyone - was the medium. Nobody lapsed into an altered or trance state during the sittings, which could last for up to three hours, with a break for refreshments in the middle. Clearly, there was very little by way of disciplined format in the group sessions, which were held weekly in a drama school in
Streatham, London. Nobody was aware as to who the principal guides and helpers were, and the physical phenomena, although quite amazing, tended to be a little haphazard; in fact not at all properly controlled because, on more than one occasion, levitation of tables and chairs etc. resulted in minor injuries to sitters, and the principal spirit team working behind the scenes never made themselves properly known to the group.
Whilst participating in the group sittings on a regular basis, it soon became apparent that the medium - a very powerful and natural physical medium - was a Frenchman who was lodging with the circle leader. The studio room, complete with stage and curtains for use by the drama school, was right at the top of the building, with a long and dark stairway leading up to it. It was not uncommon (as I personally discovered) to be prodded in the back by a materialised finger as one was climbing up the stairs to the studio and common room across the landing (where the refreshments were served), by way of hurrying you upstairs to meet with the eager spirit operators. When it was time for the break, an independent voice would announce the fact then, when the break was over, it was common for the spirit people to loudly cajole everybody as the door was opened back into the darkened studio "Hurry Up! We're waiting for you". Sitters' glasses would often be playfully removed by spirit visitors. The floor would sometimes shake as the communicators danced or moved around, and occasionally, a solid spirit person would encourage a lady sitter to stand up by holding her hands, and then proceed to dance with her. We witnessed very powerful hands-on healing being given occasionally to sitters by materialised spirit guides. Trumpets would move around, but the communicators never spoke through them - addressing the group in independent voice instead.
Unfortunately the group never did reach its full potential, as there was no formal development for the medium, and new sitters came and went without the passion and dedication needed to stimulate progress, by producing the essential breakthrough with their own spirit team.
However, the reason I am mentioning this particular group is to emphasise the belief we held - both whilst visiting the group, and ever since, that the phenomena the group were regularly witnessing was actually being produced by the spirit operators using energy, not ectoplasm. I am sure that if the sitters had displayed the right attitude, passion and dedication to the development at the time, then the group would have gone on to much greater things, rather than breaking up and fragmenting, as it eventually did, like the majority of other similar groups who start out with the best of intentions. The most important emphasis on a group of this kind is the need for all the group members to have a real desire to be of help to mankind through the work, together with group harmony, plus a real passion and dedication to the work from every group member. In this case, as we were kept informed of the group's negative progress, it seemed that various group members - old and new - tried to 'hijack' the medium, group leader and phenomena for their own greedy ends without a serious thought for the importance of the necessary development. As always, this attitude ends in the self-destructive failure of a badly-run group to take their important work forward.
Moving on, however. As I have already mentioned, it was in late 1992 that the Scole group was formed. We certainly had dedicated sitters. Two group members were prepared to drive 70 miles and back from their homes to Scole on a weekly basis in their own time and at their own expense. Although the phenomena we witnessed in the group was quite amazing, it took over six months of weekly sittings before any significant physical psychic phenomena occurred. Yes, we did experience the usual coldness in the room that traditionally accompanies physical phenomena, and a few random raps and taps around the cellar of our home at Scole where the group sat, but nothing significant until May 1993 when, at one session, the trumpet which we had standing on the central table fell off the table onto the lap of a sitter.
The next week, the trumpet again levitated, but in a more controlled manner, before gently returning to the table top. Following this, there were several more months of relative inactivity where physical phenomena was concerned, although the time was used by the spirit team to introduce a few regular spirit helpers, speaking through the trance state of Diana and Alan Bennett, who went on to become our mediums for trance communication with the spirit team who worked with us.
During this 'lull' in the proceedings between May and October 1993, as communicators became more proficient at speaking through Diana and Alan, the relationship between sitters and communicators became very much a two-way and intimate thing, with continuous and mutual co-operation. At this early stage too, the various spirit communicators went out of their way to bring each of us in turn a profusion of evidential messages, relating to personal and family details not known by anyone else who was present.
These examples of strong evidence of survival given by the spirit team were by way of their need to prove their bona fides and good intentions towards the group, and to establish a mutual trust and respect between the members of the spirit team and ourselves, in which the team were indeed very successful. Another of the main reasons for our success at a later date was the fact that we always did what the spirit team asked of us. I should emphasise
'asked', because the spirit team never made demands of us. They advised, and suggested that we did particular things to help their work (which we always complied with), but the decision to do or not do what they asked for the sake of the group work was always ours, and the members of the spirit team themselves encouraged this attitude.
It is generally acknowledged that the really good, properly controlled phenomena associated with the Scole group began in October 1993, when only three of us were present (Sandra was in bed ill at that time). An apport of a 'Churchill Crown' was received (this dropped loudly onto the central table during the session), and we were told that it was a sign of greater things to come. What a prophetic statement that subsequently proved to be!
The group's development, over the next few months was very rapid and quite amazing. Regular communicators from the spirit team became quickly established within the group, and we were able to have an ongoing dialogue with them all. The atmosphere of co-operation between us allowed the phenomena to develop at a fantastic pace, and spirit personalities such as Manu, Patrick, Raji and Emily Bradshaw soon became so dear to us that they were almost an extension of our earthly families. Certainly we enjoyed a very loving relationship with our spirit friends.
Within weeks we witnessed several strong new instances of physical psychic phenomena. Remember that at the beginning we had no idea that this phenomena was being produced in a new way, and assumed that ectoplasm was the basis of the spirit activity. Initially, as we were later told by the spirit team, they made a great effort to duplicate the types of phenomena that were produced in the more traditional way For instance, in the first few weeks, we were treated to an amazing display of trumpets flying round the room but - it was done in such a way as to show us that the versatility of the trumpet movements was greater than we had ever witnessed before. This perplexed us, and set us wondering how on earth the trumpets could weave through and around chair legs etc, as we knew that this degree of flexibility during levitation was not normal when ectoplasm was being used as, in the traditional way, the trumpets were attached to a physical medium by means of an ectoplasmic psychic rod, which limited their movement greatly.
Having therefore mystified us as to how the traditional type of phenomena we were witnessing had been achieved, it was not long before the regular communicators explained to us that this was a pioneering set of experiments in physical psychic phenomena which we were undertaking together, but which was using only a blend of natural energies, itself producing a creative energy which could be used by operatives in the spirit team to achieve their aims. Indeed, on one occasion, Dr. Dunn, the spirit scientist associated with the Romford circle in which Sandra and I met, came to the Scole group to speak to us and to confirm that the energy now being used was fulfilling his prediction to us, issued back in the days of the Romford circle several years earlier!
Once we had grasped the principles of the new modus operandi, the group's development continued apace at an unprecedented rate. Small, but rapidly moving spirit lights became a regular feature of the sessions, and we were told that these were originally not intentional on the part of the spirit team, but were actually a by-product of other work that the spirit team were undertaking. When it was realised that the lights were visible to us, and that they caused much excitement, then the lights, too, were developed, till they became a permanent feature of the sessions, and were witnessed by hundreds of guests in all during our demonstrations and seminars which took place at a later date.
As the group progressed, many and varied were the different types of phenomena that were developed and demonstrated to us by the spirit helpers. Over the years, the actual number of types of physical phenomena ran to almost 200 - a fantastic variety in anybody's book. In almost 30 years of psychic research - never before had I come across such a large repertoire of phenomena connected with any physical medium past or present. It was not long before we were experiencing the physical presence of spirit people in our midst who, on occasions, would pull up a spare chair to sit in the group with us.
The greatest and most abiding memory of this aspect of the work was the feeling of love which all the materialised spirit personalities exuded as they touched us tenderly, or stood just inches away from us.
This wonderful feeling hit us like a wall whenever these spirit people were present.
In all, over the main five years of the Scole Experiment, there were a total of around 500 sessions by the Scole group. Not one of those sessions, after the phenomena started in earnest, was a blank! Phenomena occurred in every one! I was personally privileged to sit in every one of those sessions except one, when I had to be away on business. The average duration of each session was 2 hours, so we are talking in total about over 1,000 hours of group activity; in itself, a marathon in terms of psychic research. Every session was recorded for posterity. It would be a massive undertaking, but it is hoped that at some future date, we may be able to convert some of the content into transcripted records of the sessions. Please note, however, that it was clearly requested by our spirit team at the time that none of the actual recordings should leave our care or be available to the public as such, so we are therefore unable to distribute copies, which have been asked for by many of our bulletin subscribers and by a number of psychic researchers all over the world.
I will not attempt here to cover the full scope of the phenomena we witnessed in depth, as it would be impossible to do justice to the plethora of impressive results in such a small article. Most of you, I am sure, will already have read the book by Grant and Jane Solomon, published by
called The Scole Experiment, which details many of the different aspects of the physical psychic phenomena which we witnessed over the five-year period of the experiment. (Copies of the book are available from
Scole). The book created lots of interest, and was featured in
The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Eastern Daily Press and numerous other publications. However, the sheer volume of phenomena at Scole made it impossible even for Grant and Jane to cover everything in their book, which has proved very popular, and has introduced many people to the possibilities and excitement that occur when regular contact is established with spirit people who are still very much alive after departing the earthly lives they led here. Amazingly, neither Grant nor Jane had the opportunity to sit with us themselves as we did not meet them until the sessions had ended. But their enthusiasm for the project shines through regardless in the book!
As our work at Scole progressed, the team continued to try out and demonstrate new things. We were introduced to some evolved beings who oversaw the group's development. We witnessed the presence of /angels' as they built up in solid form in the room, then 'floated' around the room, allowing their robes to trail over the hands of group members and guests, just a few inches away from our faces. On one occasion, we even witnessed a miniature UFO flying around the cellar (affectionately known as 'The Scole Hole') where we held our sessions. There were many 'firsts' amongst the phenomena, and we were obliged to coin several new names and phrases for the unique psychic events and objects which we witnessed.
With the blessing of the spirit team we undertook a number of visits abroad, where phenomena was demonstrated to friends and the public in general. Places visited included Ibiza, the USA, Holland, Germany and the Republic of Ireland. These visits were extremely successful, and never did the spirit team let us down. There were several seminars at
Scole, too, where delegates had the opportunity to witness the phenomena for themselves. Three senior members of the prestigious, SPR investigated the group by sitting with us regularly over a 2 year period, and concluded in their subsequent report that all at Scole was genuine and above board.
But at this point, I think it is appropriate to revert to the original theme of this article. What the Scole Experiment meant to me. In many ways, it proved to be the culmination of two decades' thorough research into physical psychic phenomena. From a stop-start situation with many circles over many years, we suddenly discovered what could actually be achieved with the right combination of people at the right time, all of whom had the right attitude of co-operation with our spirit friends.
We experienced unconditional love from these same spirit friends, who always referred to themselves by a pseudonym, although we did know the real identity of many of these loving communicators. The loving atmosphere at each of our experimental group sessions was quite fantastic, and was beyond anything I had ever known before. When spirit beings were in the room with us in solid form - often standing just inches in front of us - it was not necessary to be psychic to sense the love they brought with them. This love beyond all understanding - the key to everything - flowed towards us like a torrent, and we bathed in its wonderful radiance. Even now, I find this fantastic and regular experience very hard to adequately describe to anyone who did not have the privilege of experiencing it first-hand.
Our primary communicators did indeed become just like an extended family to us, and we loved them every bit as much as we might have loved a near relative. When the sessions finished in November 1998, we mourned their passing as much as we might have mourned our loved ones in a major catastrophe. The experiment had gone much further in 5 years than most other groups ever managed to achieve in similar circumstances.
Over the years, we have come to terms with our loss. Although we would have loved to have gone much further in proving the reality of life after death (which was, after all, the main aim of our spirit team), much was nevertheless achieved in that 5-year period.
Through the books, the publicity and our website, many a person has come to understand more about the spirit world and, through our experiences, to have acquired a solid belief in postmortem survival. In conclusion, therefore, it means everything to me if just one person has been helped in a positive way by our research and by the results of the Scole Experiment. Then, when my time comes, I can go home myself to the spirit world with the knowledge that my life here at this time has been worthwhile!