The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult, by Tatiana Kontou and Sarah Willburn (eds.)
From the publisher’s website: Critical attention to the Victorian supernatural has flourished over the last twenty-five years. Whether it is spiritualism or Theosophy, mesmerism or the occult, the dozens of book-length studies and hundreds of articles that have appeared recently reflect the avid scholarly discussion of Victorian mystical practices. Designed both for those new to the field and for experts, this volume is organized into sections covering the relationship between Victorian spiritualism and science, the occult and politics, and the culture of mystical practices. The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult brings together some of the most prominent scholars working in the field to introduce current approaches to the study of nineteenth-century mysticism and to define new areas for research.
Contents: Foreword; Introduction, Tatiana Kontou and Sarah Willburn; Part 1 Haunted Laboratories and Ghosts in the Machine: Spiritualism, Science and Technology: Recent scholarship on spiritualism and science, Christine Ferguson; The sciences of spiritualism in Victorian Britain: possibilities and problems, Richard Noakes; The undead author: spiritualism, technology and authorship, Anthony Enns; The Victorian post-human: transmission, information and the séance, Jill Galvan; The cross-correspondences, the nature of evidence and the matter of writing, Leigh Wilson. Part 2 Occulture: Sex, Politics, Philosophy and Poetics: The evolution of occult spirituality in Victorian England and the representative case of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, J. Jeffrey Franklin; 'Out of your clinging kisses…I create a new world': sexuality and, spirituality in the work of Edward Carpenter, Joy Dixon; Socialism and occultism at the fin de siècle: elective affinities, Matthew Beaumont; William James: belief in ghosts, Christoforos Diakoulakis; The turn of the gyres: alterity in The Gift of Haroun Al-Rashid and A Thousand and One Nights, Mazen Naous. Part 3 Staging the Victorian Afterlife: from Magic Shows to Dinner Parties: The case of Florence Marryat: custodian of the Spirit World/popular novelist, Tatiana Kontou; 'Gentleman mountebanks' and spiritualists: legal, stage and media contests between magicians and spirit mediums in the United States and England, Erika White Dyson; Mirth as medium: spectacles of laughter in the Victorian séance room, Mackenzie Bartlett; 'Eating, feeding, and flesh: food in Victorian Spiritualism, Marlene Tromp; ‘The dear old sacred terror’: spiritualism and the supernatural from The Bostonians to The Turn of the Screw, Bridget Bennett; ‘The sublimation of matter into spirit’: Anna Mary Howitt’s automatic drawings, Rachel Oberter; Viewing history and fantasy through Victorian spirit photography, Sarah Willburn; Bibliography; Index.
The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult. Ashgate, July 2012. ISBN: 978-0-7546-6912-8
From the author: Trevor Davey’s new book – Beyond Reasonable Doubt – is a journey through the many facets of spiritual understanding and the various ways the Spirit Realms interact with the Physical Realms. The aim of this book is not only to provide information and guidance (without being dictatorial or promoting a particular way of thinking) but also to generate ideas and thoughts for students of Spiritual Understanding to consider in their investigations. Everyone is entitled to think in their own way and to question, discuss and change their minds as they progress in their particular Path of Discovery.
The contents include the different ways that people of various (or none) Spiritualist and Spiritism organisations promote their ways of thinking and their understanding. The book looks at some of the many forms of spirit communication that are accepted and may lead to questions to be clarified and answered. It is also designed to assist researchers by providing them with necessary and valuable background information that should be known by all trainee mediums, speakers and those who are already giving their services on behalf of Spirit. The overall objective is to provide a great deal of information in a straightforward manner endeavouring to promote further investigations, as each and every one progresses at their own pace and requirement.
Price: £3-50 plus £1-50 p&p per copy (U.K. rates) – multiple copies for Development Circles/Awareness Groups (at wholesale price plus postage at cost) direct from the author; e-mail email@example.com for details
Beyond Reasonable Doubt. CON-PSY Publications, 2012. ISBN 9781898680598
From the publisher’s website: A thoughtful biography of one of the most polarizing pioneers of alternative spirituality, the occult-mystic Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.
Pioneer. Visionary. Provocateur. Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky — mystic, occult writer, child of Russian aristocrats, spiritual seeker who travelled five continents, and founder (with Henry Steel Olcott) of the Theosophical Society — is still being hailed as an icon and scorned as a fraud more than 120 years after her death. But despite perennial interest in her life, writings, and philosophy, no single biography has examined the controversy and legacy of this influential thinker who helped define modern alternative spirituality — until now.
Gary Lachman, the acclaimed spiritual biographer behind volumes such as Rudolf Steiner and Jung the Mystic, brings us an in-depth look at Blavatsky, objectively exploring her unique and singular contributions toward introducing Eastern and esoteric spiritual ideas to the West during the nineteenth century, as well as the controversies that continue to colour the discussions of her life and work.
Madame Blavatsky. Tarcher, October 2012. ISBN 9781585428632
From the publisher’s website: Throughout the ages, the mystery of what happens when we die and the nature of the human mind has fascinated humankind. In this thoughtful collection of essays, leading scientists and authors contemplate the nature of consciousness, quantum mechanics, string theory, dimensions, space and time, non-local space, the hologram, and the effect of death on the consciousness. Although traditionally considered a matter for philosophical and religious debate, advancements in modern science and in particular the science of resuscitation have now enabled an objective, scientific approach to seek answers to these compelling questions, which bear widespread implications not only for science, but also for all of humanity.
Aspects of Consciousness. McFarland, August 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0786464951
Haunted Girl: Esther Cox and the Great Amherst Mystery, by Laurie Glenn Norris with Barbara Thompson
From the publisher’s website: In 1878 eighteen-year-old Esther Cox arrived in Amherst, Nova Scotia, to live with her sister’s family. Shortly after Esther moved in, the story goes, the house was plagued by unexplained occurrences—something (or someone) knocked on the walls, hid household items, moved furniture around, and set fires. Esther herself was subject to mysterious fevers, prodding and, on one occasion, stabbing. These occurrences followed her when she went to stay with other families in the area. Eventually she was charged with robbery and spent a month in jail, after which the haunting ceased.
Was Esther the victim of paranormal powers or the troubled mind behind a series of elaborate hoaxes? At the time of her alleged haunting, the plausibility of Esther Cox’s claims were hotly debated in newspapers and by fellow Amherst residents. In the hundred years since her death, Esther’s story has been retold numerous times and she remains to this day the town’s most famous historical figure.
Includes 30 photos of key locations in Amherst related to the story as well as Esther's family members.
Please see publisher’s website for further details:
Haunted Girl. Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2012. ISBN: 9781551099071
From the publisher's website: The importance of spiritual and religious frames of reference in making sense of and recovering from mental health difficulties is increasingly being recognized by mental health researchers. This book focuses on a variety of broad existential experiences. These are variously termed ‘religious, ‘spiritual’, ‘anomalous’ ‘extraordinary or exceptional experiences’, or ‘aberrant perceptions or beliefs’ by researchers and health practitioners active in this field. In recognition of the burgeoning work in this area in recent years, this book brings together a broad range of approaches and perspectives to focus on an important set of topics that are important in demarcating this topic area.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1. The role of understanding, engagement and meaning in anomalous experience: A narrative review of the evidence from cultural research (Greg Taylor and Craig Murray)
Chapter 2. Religious visions and voices (Simon L. Dein)
Chapter 3. ‘Sense of presence’ experiences in bereavement and their relationship to mental health: A critical examination of a continuing controversy (Edith Steffen and Adrian Coyle)
Chapter 4. Reflections on researching sense of presence experiences with a bereaved population (Catherine Keen)
Chapter 5. Psychological and mental well-being in palliative care: Needs of patients and caregivers (Mary Oliver)
Chapter 6. Clinical psychology of anomalous experiences: Roots and paradigms (Renaud Evrard)
Chapter 7. Health and well-being benefits of exceptional human experiences (William Braud)
Chapter 8. Psychopathological and psychodynamic approaches to anomalous experiences: The concept of a paranormal solution (Thomas Rabeyron)
Chapter 9. On niches and nutters: An alternative view (Pieter R. Adriaens)
Chapter 10. Anomalous experiences and mental health: the double-edged sword (Kerry L. Schofield)
Chapter 11. Psychosis and religious/spiritual experience: Ethnographic, cognitive and neurobiological perspectives (Simon L. Dein)
Chapter 12. Grief illusions and/or pseudo-hallucinations in children: A “ghost” slips by (Pascal Le Maléfan)
Chapter 13. Humanistic group therapy, mental health and anomalous/ paranormal experiences (Alejandro Parra)
Chapter 14. Musings on anomalous experience in a therapeutic context (Lisa Herman)
About The Authors/Index
Mental Health and Anomalous Experience. Nova Publishers, April 2012. ISBN: 978-1-62100-350-2
From the publisher’s website: This book divides into two parts. The first is a personal narrative of the impact of the death of the author’s son Ralph on him and his family and his efforts to see if there was any evidence for his continued existence (generated largely through visits to mediums) that a thinking person could take seriously. The second is an attempt to evaluate that evidence objectively (based on an extensive survey of current and past scientific research in the UK and the USA). The title reflects the inevitable tension between emotion and intellect in such an enquiry.
Trevor Hamilton retired from his post in higher education at the end of 2006 to write full time. He has degrees from Oxford, London and Sussex Universities. He is the author of a well-received biography of F.W.H. Myers, one of the founding figures of the Society for Psychical Research.
Tell My Mother I'm Not Dead. Imprint Academic, October 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1845402600
From the publisher’s website: The fascinating history of ghosts and the search to prove they exist.
'Is there anybody out there?' No matter how rationally we order our lives, few of us are completely immune to the suggestion of the uncanny and the fear of the dark. The subject of whether ghosts exist has fascinated some of the finest minds in history and it remains a subject of overwhelming interest today.
This is the first comprehensive, authoritative and readable history of the evolution of the ghost in the west, examining, as every good natural history should, the behaviour of the subject in its preferred environment. What did the haunted see? What did they believe? What happened next? Taking us through the famous hauntings that have obsessed the world, from the poltergeist of Cock Lane and the dark events of Borley Rectory right up to the present day, Roger Clarke unfolds a colourful story of charlatans and true believers. His surprising castlist ranges from Samuel Johnson to John Wesley, and from Harry Houdini to Adolf Hitler, and his chapters cover everything from the technology of ghost-hunting to the emergence of the Victorian ghost flash mob. Written as grippingly as the best ghost fiction, A Natural History of Ghosts takes us on a unforgettable hunt through the haunted houses of the last three hundred years.
Roger Clarke is a journalist and film critic who has written for the Big Issue, the Observer and Sunday Times. Brought up in a haunted house, he was the youngest person ever to be invited to join the Ghost Society. His stories were published in the Fontana Book of Ghost Stories when he was just fifteen. This is the book he has always wanted to write.
A Natural History of Ghosts. Particular Books, November 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1846143335
From the publisher’s website: Is there a ‘special connection’ between twins? Can they read each other’s minds? Are they telepathic? These questions are often asked, but have never been convincingly answered until now.
The author became interested in the subject when he was given vivid first-hand testimony of how a man whose twin brother had been shot dead had reacted several miles away at the exact time. This prompted him to embark on a thorough search of the literature and collect accounts of similar examples of apparent telepathy, some dating back to the 18th century, to question numerous twins regarding their own experiences, to compile a substantial file of case histories, and eventually to help set up properly controlled scientific experiments in which telepathy could be seen to take place on a polygraph chart, two of which have now been published in peer-reviewed journals.
As he makes clear in this ground-breaking book, the first ever to explore the ‘special twin connection’ in detail, the answer is simple: some twins are telepathy-prone and some, probably the majority, are not. How can this be, you might wonder? Aren’t all identical twins supposed to be identical in all respects?
They are not. The fact is that, as Orwell might have put it, some twins are more identical than others. What seems to make the difference is exactly when division of the fertilized zygote (egg) takes place. This can take place almost immediately, or up to twelve days later. Without going into detail here, what this means is that ‘late splitters’ develop extremely close bonds after birth, bonds that can last a lifetime, whereas ‘early splitters’ become more independent, and regard their twins just like an ordinary brother or sister. Sure enough, when experiments were carried out in London and Copenhagen, on each occasion it was a late-splitting pair who showed the clearest evidence for telepathy on their polygraph charts. The often heard critical complaint that here is no repeatable experiment for any kind of psychic effect is no longer true.
This new revised and updated edition contains the most comprehensive survey yet written on the history of research into twin telepathy. The author explains why experiments have generally been unsuccessful in the past, and why those that he helped design have been consistently successful, and point the way ahead for future researchers.
He also explains that a better understanding of the special twin connection is of more than academic interest, especially to parents, some of whom already know that it can save lives and has already done so.
Earlier editions of this book were well received by such authorities as psychologist Stanley Krippner, a former president of the Parapsychological Association, for whom it ‘reads like an intriguing detective story’, and Rupert Sheldrake, who has contributed a Foreword in which he states:
‘For many years I have been looking in vain for authoritative research on this intriguing subject. At last I have found it, in this book’.
Colin Wilson, in his Introduction predicts that the book ‘will obviously become a classic of psychical research.’
Twin Telepathy. White Crow Books, March 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1908733443
Okkulte Ästhetik: Wunschfiguren des Unbewussten im Werk von Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, by Timon Kuff
[Occult Aesthetics: Unconscious Desire in the Work of Albert von Schrenck Notzing]
From the publisher’s website: Die vorliegende Studie ist der erste umfassende Beitrag zu einer Neubewertung des Werkes von Albert von Schrenck-Notzing (1862–1929). Ausgehend von den frühen medizinischen Schriften des deutschen Suggestionstherapeuten, wird der Zusammenhang von Suggestion, Hypnotismus und Physikalischem Mediumismus unter bildwissenschaftlichen und sprachkritischen Aspekten untersucht.
Kuff deckt den komplizierten semantischen Status des Bildes in seiner Doppelfunktion als wissenschaftliches Dokument und Abbild eines performativen Ausdruckstheaters auf. Dabei werden die biologischen, philosophischen und ästhetischen Bezüge, die Schrenck-Notzing herstellen wollte, sichtbar. In der Verknüpfung von intellektueller Biografie und historischer Diskursanalyse wird den ästhetischen Entgrenzungen der Bilder nachgespürt und eine exemplarische Analyse jener okkulten Ästhetik vorgenommen.
Okkulte Ästhetik. Psychosozial-Verlag, October 2011. ISBN-13: 9783837921366
In 1951, a young hospital doctor treated a patient suffering from a rare and debilitating skin disease - thought to be incurable - with a single session of hypnosis, unaware that he was about to make medical history. The case caused a sensation. Doctors described it as ‘unprecedented and inexplicable’ and ‘a challenge to current concepts of the relation between mind and body’.
Like many, author Guy Lyon Playfair wondered how on earth the hypnotist did it, and unlike many he was determined to find out. In this lively, provocative and meticulously researched book he attempts to meet that challenge and explain the ‘miraculous’ cure that was fully documented in the British Medical Journal, with its unexpected aftermath, and to open up the whole subject of the role played by the mind in the healing process.
More than two centuries since Mesmer and his pupil the Marquis de Puységur introduced an ancient healing technique into Western medicine, the question of what happens to a person under hypnosis remains to be fully explained. Yet, seemingly unaware of it, the medical profession already has the key to a technique of incalculable potential benefit, the true nature of which it still seems reluctant to face.
Playfair maintains that the unspoken transfer of information between one living being and another, and the ability of the mind to move matter without the use of physical force are important but neglected aspects of the art of healing. Far from being occult superstitions or mere speculations, such natural abilities have been shown repeatedly – in life and laboratory – to be matters of fact. Their suppression in Western society can no longer be justified medically. Nor should the practice of hypnosis be confined, as it tends to be in medical practice, merely to the treatment of minor psychosomatic complaints.
Playfair draws on a wide range of source material, much of it hitherto buried in orthodox medical and specialist literature, to show that it is neglect, rather than lack of knowledge, that is preventing the widespread use of an inexpensive and natural healing process, the full potential of which has yet to be explored.
If This Be Magic is as topical today as it was when it was first published in 1985.
If This be Magic. July 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1907661846
A lively collection of ghost stories from the seventeenth century to the present.
Britain is full of ghostly stories – from the wraith of John Donne’s wife to the Cock Lane poltergeist. Gillian Bennett has collected together the 100 best tales told to frighten and enthral over the last four centuries. Famous hauntings and familiar legends are combined with unusual and long-lost accounts of apparitions, boggarts, black dogs and ‘unhappy houses’ in this new collection.
The 100 Best British Ghost Stories. Amberley Publishing, August 2012. ISBN 9781445606941
From the publisher’s website: When The Flying Cow was first published in 1975, it revealed a world of psychic wonders in Brazil hitherto barely explored by outsiders. Author Guy Lyon Playfair had spent two years as a member of the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP), the first group of its kind to investigate and document the wide range of inexplicable phenomena – from poltergeists and psychic surgeons to trance artists and children who recall previous lives.
He spent several days and nights in a poltergeist-haunted house, managing to record several inexplicable happenings on tape. He watched as a young man untrained in art dashed off a series of portraits in the styles of numerous deceased masters, some in a matter of seconds. He witnessed some of the country’s unorthodox healers at work, and saw them open bodies with their bare hands, eventually finding out for himself how it feels to be on the receiving end of this most bizarre form of alternative surgery.
He also looked into some of the best known cases from the past, collecting new eye-witness evidence for the mysterious abilities of such legendary figures as Arigó, the ‘surgeon of the rusty knife’, colourful and controversial mediums such as Carlos Mirabelli, Peixotinho and Otilia Diogo. He even obtained an account of the rarest of all psychic phenomena – materialisation – from a chief of police.
The Flying Cow was followed by its sequel The Indefinite Boundary in 1976. Material from the latter has been included in this edition, making it the most comprehensive survey available of the paranormal world of Brazil.
The author gave up a secure and lucrative career as freelance journalist and translator to explore that world, and in this book, fully revised and updated, he describes what he found there. Much of it is as surprising today as it was when it was first published.
GUY LYON PLAYFAIR was born in India and educated in England, obtaining a degree in modern languages from Cambridge University. He then spent many years in Brazil as a freelance journalist for The Economist, Time, and the Associated Press, also working for four years in the press section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The first of his twelve books, The Flying Cow, in which he described his experiences investigating the psychic side of Brazil, was translated into six languages and became an international best seller. His most recent book is Telepathy – the Twin Connection. He now lives in London and is a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.
The Flying Cow. White Crow Books, September 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1907661945
Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness, by Chris Carter
From the publisher’s website: Reveals the evidence of life beyond death; examines 125 years of scientific research into reincarnation, apparitions, and communication with the dead showing these phenomena are real; reveals the existence of higher planes of consciousness where the souls of the dead can choose to advance or manifest once again on Earth; explains how these findings have been ignored and denied because they are incompatible with materialist doctrines
In this book, Chris Carter shows that evidence of life beyond death exists and has been around for millennia, predating any organized religion. Focusing on three key phenomena--reincarnation, apparitions, and communications from the dead--Carter reveals 125 years of documented scientific studies by independent researchers and the British and American Societies for Psychical Research that rule out hoaxes, fraud, and hallucinations and prove these afterlife phenomena are real.
The author examines historic and modern accounts of detailed past-life memories, visits from the deceased, and communications with the dead via medium and automatic writing as well as the scientific methods used to confirm these experiences. He explains how these findings on the afterlife have been ignored and denied because they are incompatible with the prevailing doctrine of materialism. Sharing messages from the dead themselves describing the afterlife, Carter reveals how consciousness exists outside the parameters of biological evolution and emerges through the medium of the brain to use the physical world as a springboard for growth. After death, souls can advance to higher planes of consciousness or manifest once again on Earth. Carter’s rigorous argument proves--beyond any reasonable doubt--not only that consciousness survives death and continues in the afterlife, but that it precedes birth as well.
About the Author: Chris Carter received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Oxford. The author of Science and the Near-Death Experience and Science and Psychic Phenomena, he is originally from Canada and currently teaches internationally.
Science and the Afterlife Experience. Inner Traditions, August 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1594774522
From the publisher’s website:
Ghosts & Gallows: Murder and ghosts go hand-in-hand and vengeful spectres seeking justice or haunting the scene of the crime or their killers have adorned the pages of literature since before Shakespeare.
This chilling collection of true-crime tales dating from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day all feature some element of the paranormal. Gathered from across the UK, cases include the discovery of a body by a spiritualist medium, a murder solved by a dream of the mother of the victim, and evidence at a Scottish murder trial provided by the ghost of the victim herself. Featuring visions, psychometry, ghosts, haunted prisons, possessions, and spiritualist detectives, this book is a fascinating look at criminology and ghost hunting.
Paranormal historian Paul Adams has opened the case files of both the criminologist and the ghost hunter to compile a unique collection of crime from British history. No true-crime bookshelf is complete without Ghosts & Gallows.
Paranormal Luton and Dunstable: The paranormal histories of Luton and Dunstable are brought vividly to life in this, the first dedicated guide to the haunted and mysterious sites of these two unassuming Bedfordshire towns.
Paranormal historian Paul Adams opens case files both ancient and modern to compile a chilling collection of supernatural experiences, ranging from apparitions on lonely Galley Hill and the phantom Dunstable hitch-hiker to the haunted corridors of the doomed Alma Theatre and the ghostly knights of Someries Castle. Richly illustrated and full of first-hand accounts, it will fascinate anyone with an interest in the unexplained.
Paul Adams has been interested in ghosts and the paranormal since around the age of eight. He studied the Borley Rectory case for many years, and co-authored the definitive study, The Borley Rectory Companion, with Peter Underwood and Ed Brazil in 2009. He lives in Limbury, Luton.
The History Press, Ghosts and Gallows July 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0752463391; Haunted Luton August 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0752465487