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William James Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity, by Krister Dylan Knapp

Publication Details: The University of North Carolina Press, ISBN: 978-1-4696-3124-0
Publish Date: March, 2017
William James

In this insightful new book on the remarkable William James, the American psychologist and philosopher, Krister Dylan Knapp provides the first deeply historical and acutely analytical account of James's psychical research. While showing that James always maintained a critical stance toward claims of paranormal phenomena like spiritualism, Knapp uses new sources to argue that psychical research held a strikingly central position in James’s life. It was crucial to his familial and professional relationships, the fashioning of his unique intellectual disposition, and the shaping of his core doctrines, especially the will-to-believe, empiricism, fideism, and theories of the subliminal consciousness and immortality.

Knapp explains how and why James found in psychical research a way to rethink the well-trodden approaches to classic Euro-American religious thought, typified by the oppositional categories of natural vs. supernatural and normal vs. paranormal. He demonstrates how James eschewed these choices and instead developed a tertiary synthesis of them, an approach Knapp terms tertium quid, the third way. Situating James's psychical research in relation to the rise of experimental psychology and Protestantism’s changing place in fin de siècle America, Knapp asserts that the third way illustrated a much broader trend in transatlantic thought as it struggled to navigate the uncertainties and religious adventurism of the modern age.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Homo Sovieticus: Brain Waves, Mind Control, and Telepathic Destiny, by Wladimir Velminski

Publication Details: The MIT Press, ISBN: 9780262035699
Publish Date: February, 2017
Homo Sovieticus: Brain Waves, Mind Control, and Telepathic Destiny, by Wladimir Velminski
From the publisher's website: In October 1989, as the Cold War was ending and the Berlin Wall about to crumble, television viewers in the Soviet Union tuned in to the first of a series of unusual broadcasts. “Relax, let your thoughts wander free . . .” intoned the host, the physician and clinical psychotherapist Anatoly Mikhailovich Kashpirovsky. Moscow’s Channel One was attempting mass hypnosis over television, a therapeutic session aimed at reassuring citizens panicked over the ongoing political upheaval—and aimed at taking control of their responses to it. Incredibly enough, this last-ditch effort to rally the citizenry was the culmination of decades of official telepathic research, cybernetic simulations, and coded messages undertaken to reinforce ideological conformity. In Homo Sovieticus, the art and media scholar Wladimir Velminski explores these scientific and pseudoscientific efforts at mind control.
In a fascinating series of anecdotes, Velminski describes such phenomena as the conflation of mental energy and electromagnetism; the investigation of aura fields through the “Aurathron”; a laboratory that practiced mind control methods on dogs; and attempts to calibrate the thought processes of labourers. “Scientific” diagrams from the period accompany the text. In all of the experimental methods for implanting thoughts into a brain, Velminski finds political and metaphorical contaminations. These apparently technological experiments in telepathy and telekinesis were deployed for purely political purposes.
About the Author
Wladimir Velminski is a Head of the Project History and Theory of Media Regimes in Eastern Europe in the Department of Media Studies at the Bauhaus University Weimar. Previously, Velminski worked at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, at the Universität Zürich, and at ETH Zürich.

Review by Tom Ruffles

I Saw A Light and Came Here: Children's Experiences of Reincarnation

Publication Details: White Crow Books, ISBN 978-1-910121-92-4
Publish Date: February, 2017

From the publisher's website:I Saw A Light And Came Here is the result of decades of scholarly research and investigations into past-life memories, primarily of children. The first author, Erlendur Haraldsson, a psychologist, has over two decades of experience behind him, having investigated some one hundred cases in the field. He worked closely with Ian Stevenson, M.D., of the University of Virginia, who began systematic studies of “cases of the reincarnation type,” but soon broke new ground with psychological studies of children who insist they remember episodes from past lives. Haraldsson invited anthropologist James Matlock to join him because of his thorough familiarity with research around the globe. This book deals with various aspects of past-life memory and attempts to answer the questions that will inevitably come up in the minds of thoughtful readers.

Further details are available on the White Crow Books website:

Review by Tom Ruffles

Leben mit den Toten Geisterglauben und die Entstehung des Spiritismus in Deutschland 1770-1900, by Diethard Sawicki

Publication Details: Ferdinand Schöningh, ISBN: 978-3506782793
Publish Date: December, 2016
Cover of Leben mit den Toten

From the publisher's website: Deutscher Geist und Reich der Geister: Das war im 19 Jahrhundert beileibe kein Widerspruch. Beides gehörte zusammen, in einer Zeit, die immer noch als Ära des naturwissenschaftlich-technischen Fortschritts und der Entzauberung unserer Welt gilt.

Der Autor weist nach, daß Geisterglauben und Spiritismus keineswegs als bloße Überreste alten Volksaberglaubens gelten können. Vielmehr boten die Gedankengebäude der spekulativen deutschen Philosophie und regionale Traditionen schwärmerischen Christentums zahlreiche Ansatzpunkte für spiritistische Ideen, von denen auch und gerade die Gebildeten fasziniert waren.

Das Buch schildert erstmals die Weltbilder, Kulte und magischen Praktiken, die sich in Deutschland vom ausgehenden achtzehnten Jahrhundert bis zum Beginn des zwanzigsten mit dem Glauben an Geistererscheinungen und an die Kraft von Totenbeschwörungen verbanden. Es führt den Leser in jene Regionen und an jene Orte, wo Menschen aller Bevölkerungsschichten damals Geister riefen und an Geister glaubten. So entsteht ein farbiges Panorama, das die Zeit und einige ihrer berühmten Köpfe wie Friedrich Schlegel, Bettina von Arnim oder auch Karl May in einem bisher nicht bekannten Licht erscheinen lässt.

Für die Neuauflage wurde der Band durchgesehen und um ein Nachwort ergänzt.

A book except and table of contents are available here: Ferdinand Schöningh 

Review by Michael Nahm

Strange, but True: More Stories of Curious Encounters, by Chris Aspin

Publication Details: Helmshore Local History Society
Publish Date: December, 2016

This third booklet by SPR member Chris Aspin contains further accounts from the Helmshore area of east Lancashire.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Okkultismus im Gehäuse. Institutionalisierungen der Parapsychologie im 20. Jahrhundert im internationalen Vergleich, edited by Anna Lux and Sylvia Paletschek

Publication Details: De Gruyter, ISBN: 9783110466638
Publish Date: November, 2016
Cover of Okkultismus im Gehäuse

From the publisher's website: Where was the locus of parapsychology – the academic involvement with the occult – during the 20th century? In this first attempt at an international comparison, the authors examine various institutional venues, including private salons, academic societies, and universities, while also addressing prominent opponents. Essays on practical applications of parapsychology and cinematic presentations supplement their findings.

Table of contents


Disappearing Object Phenomenon: An Investigation, by Tony Jinks

Publication Details: McFarland, ISBN: 978-0786498604.
Publish Date: September, 2016
Cover of Disappearing Object Phenomenon

From the publisher's website: Have you ever had your car keys or television remote control inexplicably vanish from under your nose, only to reappear months later in another part of the house for no evident reason? Most would dismiss it as absent-mindedness, with perhaps a joking remark about paranormal activity. Yet remarkable circumstances surrounding many such accounts suggest that the mysterious disappearance of objects could be more than “just one of those things.” Examining a large selection of fascinating narratives, this book reviews the “disappearing object phenomenon” (DOP) from a scientific standpoint. Both skeptical and supportive perspectives on DOP are considered, leading to the conclusion that disappearing, appearing and reappearing objects are indicators of a controversial take on the nature of reality.

Review by Robert A. Charman

Portraits from Beyond: The Mediumship of the Bangs Sisters, by N. Riley Heagerty

Publication Details: White Crow Books, ISBN 978-1-910121-65-8
Publish Date: September, 2016

From the publisher's website: Within the little known ‘Century of Wonders’ between 1848 and 1948 in America, the physical phenomena manifesting in the séance rooms of the great psychic mediums baffles description. Two of its most famous mediums and yet, most vilified by the conjurers and critics of that day, were the Bangs Sisters, May and Elizabeth, of Chicago.

In their presence spirits of the departed would manifest and precipitate directly on to a blank canvas in front of the astonished witnesses and, equally wondrous, spirit writing would manifest directly on to blank sheets of paper or slates.

The present work, by author and researcher N. Riley Heagerty, explores through rare source material and eyewitness accounts by people of unimpeachable character, the seemingly “ miraculous ” phenomena that was produced. In a fair and balanced manner, the writer also takes a close look at the most heated and public charges of fraud brought against these Chicago wonder workers.

This in depth, complete work, the first of its kind, unravels the truth of the great psychic mystery of the Bangs Sisters.

About the author

N. Riley Heagerty, has been involved non-stop in research involving Spiritualism and Physical Mediumship since 1985. 

He has, up to the present day, collected and read more than 600 books - mostly rare, on the subject, and has lectured extensively in England and America.  His first published book, The French Revelation, dealt exclusively with the Independent Voice mediumship of Mrs. Emily S. French, of Rochester, New York. 

Mr. Heagerty, considered one of the leading authorities on American Physical Mediumship in the United States has said, “The research of Mediumship and Spirit Communication is just as exciting and enthralling to me in the present day as it was during the first days of my research. It is an ongoing adventure that will never cease.  The subject is vast, marvelous and contains, in this researchers opinion, the most important truths we could ever know.  The heyday of Spiritualism, what I have termed the ‘Century of Wonders,’ existed between 1848 & 1948. Mrs. French along with May and Elizabeth Bangs are just three of the many that demonstrated their wondrous gifts within this time period and I am honored to write about them. “

Further information, and samples of the book, can be found on the publisher's website.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Ted Serios - Serien, edited by Romeo Grünfelder

Publication Details: Textem Verlag, ISBN: 978-3941613461
Publish Date: September, 2016
Cover of Ted Serios - Serien

From the publisher's website: In the 1960s, Chicago resident Ted Serios became notorious for the production of nensha on Polaroid film supposedly using only his psychic powers. His abilities were endorsed by Jule Eisenbud, a Denver-based psychiatrist who wrote a book lauding Serios’ talents called The World of Ted Serios: “Thoughtographic” studies of an extraordinary mind. Serios’ images, which often appeared surrounded by dark areas on the film, were often of typical postcard scenes. Serios eventually was only able to produce his photographs while holding “the gismo” to his forehead. This device has been described as a “short part of a Cylinder, formed from a single piece of photographic paper.“

As Eisenbud’s book readily admits, many of Serios’ thoughtographs were produced while Serios was drunk or drinking alcohol. According to Eisenbud, “Ted Serios exhibits a behavior pathology with many character disorders. He does not abide by the laws and customs of our society. He ignores social amenities and has been arrested many times. His psychopathic and sociopathic personality manifests itself in many other ways. He does not exhibit selfcontrol and will blubber, wail and bang his head on the floor when things are not going his way.”

Most of Serios’s feats were dismissed as a simple hoax by most educated people. Eisenbud’s faith in Serios was extreme, and even as late as the 1980s, Eisenbud claimed that previously unidentified thoughtographs were images of Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. Pictures of Ganymede had only become available a year before thanks to Voyager 2. “Unfortunately,” wrote Eisenbud, “I couldn’t get an astronomer or optical scientist to agree.” Since 1967 Teds ability to produce inexplicable structures on Polaroid vanishes more and more.

Ted Serios died at 30 December 2006 at the age of 88 years due to cancer. The publication Ted Serios - Serien comprises the first time unknown sequences of the extensive collection of Jule Eisenbuds investigation. 

Further information here: Textem Verlag

The Mysterious Paths of Versailles An Investigation of a Psychical Journey Back in Time, by Mark Lamont

Publication Details: Xlibris, ISBN: 9781524592967
Publish Date: September, 2016

On August 10, 1901, two English ladies spending part of their summer together in France decided to visit the Palace of Versailles for what was anticipated to be an ordinary day of sightseeing. However, on that fateful day, the women later believed a series of mysterious encounters had occurred, the results of which have lingered through to the present day. When one of the ladies suggested a visit to Queen Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon, both were later convinced they had stepped back in time to witness people and scenery from the eighteenth century. One of the ladies even believed she had witnessed the queen herself! Were the ladies’ encounters simply a case of mistaken identity and confusion as a result of venturing into an unfamiliar environment? How well do their testimonies support the integrity of such an occurrence? Alternatively, did the women unknowingly step back in time to walk along paths from a bygone era at Versailles?

A short YouTube film advertising the book is here

Dreaming Wide Awake: Lucid Dreaming, Shamanic Healing, and Psychedelics, by David Jay Brown

Publication Details: Park Street Press, ISBN: 978-1620554890.
Publish Date: August, 2016

From the publisher's website:

With development and practice, lucid dreaming can provide a powerful path to greater awareness, heightened creativity and spiritual awakening. Author David Jay Brown draws on his interactions with experts such as Stanley Krippner, Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna, and others to explore the relationship between lucid dreaming, shamanic journeying, visionary plants, and psychedelic drugs.

A detailed guide to mastering lucid dreaming for physical and emotional healing, enhanced creativity, and spiritual awakening

• Offers methods to improve lucid dreaming abilities and techniques for developing superpowers in the dream realm

• Explains how to enhance dreaming with supplements, herbs, and psychedelics

• Explores the ability of lucid dreamers to communicate with the waking realm and the potential for shared lucid dreaming and access to our unconscious minds

In a lucid dream, you “awaken” within your dream and realize you are dreaming. With this extraordinary sense of awakening comes a clear perception of the continuity of self between waking and sleeping and the ability to significantly influence what happens within the dream, giving you the opportunity to genuinely experience anything without physical or social consequences. In this way, lucid dreaming offers therapeutic opportunities for fantasy fulfillment, fear confrontation, and releasing the trauma of past experiences. With development and practice, lucid dreaming can provide a powerful path to greater awareness, heightened creativity, spiritual awakening, and communication with the vast interconnected web of cosmic consciousness.

In this detailed guide to mastering the practice of lucid dreaming, David Jay Brown draws from his more than 20 years’ experience using these techniques and his interactions with dozens of experts on consciousness, physics, dreaming, and entheogens, such as Stanley Krippner, Rupert Sheldrake, Stephen LaBerge, Robert Waggoner, Dean Radin, Terence McKenna, and many others. He explores the intimate relationship between lucid dreaming, shamanic journeying, visionary plants, and psychedelic drugs and how they are used for healing and spiritual development. Offering methods for improving both lucid dreaming and shamanic journeying abilities, he explains how to enhance dreaming with oneirogens, supplements, herbs, and psychedelics and offers techniques for developing superpowers in the dream realm.

Summarizing the scientific research on lucid dreaming, Brown explores the ability of lucid dreamers to communicate with people in the waking realm and the potential for dream telepathy, shared lucid dreaming, and access to the vast unconscious regions of our minds, opening up a path that takes us beyond dreaming and waking to dreaming wide awake.

Ghost Hunting, A Practical Guide: The New Edition, edited by Andrew Green and Alan Murdie

Publication Details: Arima Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1845496876
Publish Date: June, 2016
Ghost Hunting, A Practical Guide, by Andrew Green and Alan Murdie (ed.)

From the publisher’s website: Ghost Hunting – A Practical Guide is the book which every ghost hunter should read. First published in 1973, it was the first book in the world to explain how to go about ghost hunting. It has now been updated for the 21st century by Alan Murdie, Chairman of the Ghost Club.

Explaining the background to serious paranormal research, it covers equipment for the ghost hunter; how to examine a haunted house; investigating the surroundings and history of a site; how to interview people who have experienced ghosts; and how to eliminate the many natural causes – some of them highly unexpected – which can lead people to believe they are being haunted. Importantly, this book does not just emphasise the role of equipment, but also the appropriate mental attitude needed by the serious investigator.

Complete with an extensive reading list and guidance on temperature readings, both the newcomer and the experienced ghost hunter will benefit from the advice and information contained in this classic book.

Andrew Green began hunting ghosts in war-time London in 1944. From the 1970s to until his death in 2004, he actively promoted the scientific investigation of haunted properties and people, publicising many of the techniques routinely used by ghost hunters today. A respected lecturer, he published 17 books on hauntings and saw at least two ghosts himself.

Alan Murdie is a lawyer and psychical researcher. He has investigated numerous cases of ghosts and hauntings in Britain and abroad. He is Chairman of the Ghost Club (founded 1862) and a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.

Review by Tom Ruffles