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Science of the Seance: Transnational Networks and Gendered Bodies in the Study of Psychic Phenomena, 1918-40, by Beth A Robertson

Publication Details: UBC Press, ISBN:9780774833509
Publish Date: November, 2017

From the publisher's website: In the 1920s and ’30s, people gathered in darkened rooms to explore the paranormal through seances. Science of the Seance resurrects the story of a select transnational group and their quest for objective knowledge of the supernatural world, casting new light on empiricism and its relationship to gender, sexuality, and the body in this era.

Drawing on publications, correspondence, seance notes, and photographs from Canada, the UK, and the US, Beth A. Robertson draws back the curtain to reveal a world inhabited by researchers, spirits, and spiritual mediums, including the notorious Mina “Margery” Crandon. Representing themselves as masters of the senses, untainted by the effeminized subjectivity of the body, psychical researchers believed that machines and empirical methods could transform the seance from an isolated spiritual encounter into a transnational empirical project. The laboratory of the spirits that they created, however, opened up a space where mediums and ghostly subjects could and did challenge their claims to exclusive scientific expertise and authority.

This innovative reassessment of paranormal investigation and the transatlantic ties of the seance reveals how science, metaphysics, and the senses collided to inform gendered norms in the interwar era.

This book will be of interest to historians of science, medicine, and religion and technology, as well as feminist scholars and cultural theorists.

Review by Tom Ruffles

The Ghost Studies New Perspectives on the Origins of Paranormal Experiences, by Brandon Massullo

Publication Details: New Page Books, ISBN: 978-1632651211.
Publish Date: October, 2017

From the publisher's website:

You’ve just laid down for the night when suddenly doors slam and the curtains shift. The lights begin to flicker and a white mist forms in front of you. You shut your eyes and keep muttering, “ghosts aren’t real.” But then you open your eyes and realize that “harmless” mist has shifted into the form of a man, staring intensely at you, as he floats above your bed.

What causes ghostly experiences?

Are ghosts real?

Why do certain people report numerous ghostly encounters and others none?

For centuries these questions have intrigued, puzzled, and bedeviled science, skeptics, and even believers. Based on cutting-edge research and new theories, The Ghost Studies provides insight into some of life’s greatest mysteries.

This fascinating book is far more than a compilation of ghost stories. The Ghost Studies provides scientific explanations for paranormal occurrences, including: New and exciting scientific theories that explain apparitions, hauntings, and communications from the dead. The latest research on the role of energy and electricity in hauntings. The role that emotions, bioenergetics, and the environment play in supernatural phenomena. New research into why some individuals are more prone to ghostly encounters.

Brandon Massullo is a clinical therapist and parapsychologist residing in Medina, Ohio. Fascinated by paranormal phenomena for more than 20 years, Massullo has been a participant in and featured speaker at numerous paranormal forums and events. He studied psychology and parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. His research has been cited in numerous parapsychological 
journals, articles, and mainstream books.

Listen to a sample on Brilliance Audio

Ghosts Of Scotland, by Gregor Stewart

Publication Details: Beul Aithris Publishing, ISBN: 9781549859007.
Publish Date: September, 2017

From the publisher's website: Scotland is known as one of the most haunted countries in the world, with many haunted hotspots in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. In this new book, author and paranormal researcher Gregor Stewart, covers both Edinburgh and ventures away from the main cities to explore many of the less well know locations across the country, giving not just details of the ghost stories but also the history behind the haunting.

Hailing from St Andrews in Fife, Gregor has been surrounded by tales of ghosts from a young age. His interest was sparked when his parents subscribed for him "The Unexplained" magazine. He is widely read on the supernatural, and has amassed a substantial library on the topic. He has written a number of his own books, both fiction and non-fiction, including the Witch Hunter series, Haunted Explorer Series, Haunted Kirkcaldy, Supernatural St Andrews and Glasgow Ghost Stories. He is also an active paranormal researcher and investigator, with a growing collection of haunted items. 

The Survival of the Soul and its Evolution after Death, by Pierre-Émile Cornillier

Publication Details: White Crow Books, ISBN 978-1-78677-031-8
Publish Date: September, 2017
From the publisher's website: Pierre-Émile Cornillier (1862-1942), was a renowned artist and the son of the merchant Pierre-Émile Cornillier,  the deputy mayor of Nantes, and Marie-Joséphine Leroux. He was also the uncle of the writer, Mireille Havet.  He exhibited for the first time at the Salon of 1885 and sent his works to the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts until the beginning of the First World War.
 
One day in 1912, he noticed that Reine, an 18-year-old model he had been employing for several months, had psychic abilities of some kind.  Although a student of agnostic philosopher Herbert Spencer, Cornillier had closely followed the psychical research of the time and had been an observer at some séances. On a November afternoon, when it became too dark to paint, Reine asked Cornillier if they could experiment with table tipping, something he had mentioned to her.
 
He somewhat reluctantly consented and they sat facing each other at a small table.  They sat for a full hour and nothing happened.  They were about to give up when they heard cracking noises and the table swayed to the right and to the left, then tapped clearly several times. Familiar with this phenomenon, Cornillier noted that the taps were spelling out letters.  After some confusion and repetition of the message, Cornillier understood that he was to hypnotize Reine.  Although he had never hypnotized anyone before, he had observed the process and decided to give it a try.
 
It was on November 29, 1912 that Cornillier recorded his first real success in what amounted to clairvoyance by Reine. After she was in “hypnotic sleep,” he asked her to visit his apartment, on another floor of the building, and she, never having been in the apartment, provided an accurate description of the layout.  Further experimentation involved communication with some apparently low-level spirits, but a “high spirit” named Vettellini emerged in the ninth séance and continued on as Reine’s primary guide, the 107th and final séance in this book taking place on March 11, 1914.
 
Further information, and an extract, can be found on the White Crow Books website:
 

Review by Tom Ruffles

Wings of Ecstasy: Domenico Bernini’s Vita of St. Joseph of Copertino, by Michael Grosso

Publication Details: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 978-1973739906.
Publish Date: September, 2017
Cover of Wings of Ecstasy: Domenico Bernini’s Vita of St. Joseph of Copertino

First English translation of the life of St. Joseph of Copertino, mystic famous for his ecstasies, levitations, bilocations, mind-reading, miraculous healings, and other extraordinary phenomena. The Vita is followed by a Commentary that details the evidence for these claims, and discusses their implications for human potential and human evolution; offering new perspectives on our understanding of the nature of mind and spiritual life. This book is unabashedly conscious of itself as a challenge to reductive scientific materialism.

Dreaming The Future: How Our Dreams Prove Psychic Ability Is Real, And Why It Matters, by Bruce Siegel

Publication Details: MetaStory Books, ISBN: 9780692855270
Publish Date: August, 2017

From the publisher's website:

Bruce Siegel was a longtime denier of all things paranormal or spiritual, and a passionate one. Then something extraordinary happened. He noticed that many of his nightly dreams were coming true. The predicted events were odd, even bizarre, and happened quickly-often just minutes after awakening.

Reluctant to believe what he was seeing, Siegel conducted an experiment that would ultimately span years and involve hundreds of dreams. The result: fully one in four have proven to be precognitive, anticipating future events with striking precision.

A skeptic no longer, the author explains why, for decades, he failed to take the clues within his dreams seriously, and shows why and how you may be doing the same. To prove his point, he helps you carry out your own dream explorations.

Siegel is particularly interested in the larger meaning of his experiment. He says:

The true gift here is the surprising-and surprisingly friendly-universe such dreams suggest. This more expansive reality is the real subject of my book. By validating psychic ability, dreams like mine shatter the myth that we are purely physical beings, fixed in time and space within a mechanical universe. Clearly, we are more.

Scientific experiment, spiritual odyssey, and how-to manual rolled into one, Dreaming The Future is a remarkable addition to the literature on the paranormal.

Bruce Siegel lives, writes, and dreams in Southern California, where he is also known as a pianist and music educator. His passion is exploring the larger meaning of psychic ability-what it says about who and what we really are. Follow his blog at http://brucesiegel.net; contact him at Bruce@BruceSiegel.net.

Making Sense of Life and Consciousness, by Richard Alabone

Publication Details: Smashwords, ISBN: 9781370940820.
Publish Date: June, 2017

From the publisher's website: The science of DNA has a problem; the book of instructions for life is nowhere to be found. This book suggests that DNA is all passcodes, accepting only the correct instructions to build anything from a fish to an elephant. Information flows from the species and family to build a body and mind, creating instinctive knowledge and behaviour with a control system. That same system occasionally allows information flow from mind to mind, which we call telepathy. This revelation answers unsolved questions relating to heredity, evolution and psychic experiences; making sense of life and consciousness.

About Richard Alabone:

Richard has been studying psychic experiences for more than 60 years, and is a member of the Society for Psychical Research, and the Scientific and Medical Network in the U.K. He is retired from a career as a research and development engineer on radar and television equipment, and also spent nine years as a Civil Service technical manager. During 40 broadcasts, entitled Paranormal is Normal; he spoke to many interesting people who explained the psychic side of life.

UFOs: Reframing the Debate, edited by Robbie Graham

Publication Details: White Crow Books, ISBN: 978-1786770233
Publish Date: May, 2017

From the publisher's website:

IF YOU LIKE YOUR UFO LITERATURE TO CONFIRM WHAT YOU ALREADY ‘KNOW,’ THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU!

The UFO field has produced thousands of dedicated researchers over the years, and reams of literature; but to what end? What can we claim to know conclusively today about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena that we didn’t know in the late-1940s? UFO study has always suffered from major organizational and methodological problems. It has also become dangerously self-referential.

If ever we are to further our understanding of the UFO enigma, we must fundamentally reframe our debate. We must wipe the board clean and fill it with new ideas, new theories, even new language. We must be willing to start from scratch when the field stagnates. We must be critical, sober, and free of dogma—ready to rinse away the residue of our own beliefs.

UFOs: Reframing the Debate is a collection of original essays exploring alternative perspectives on UFOs and how we might more usefully study the phenomenon in the 21st Century. The book brings together some of the most progressive and iconoclastic thinkers in the field for an incisive deconstruction of current popular ideas. Critical but constructive, this challenging volume represents a range of differing (even conflicting) alternative viewpoints on UFOs and related phenomena.

UFOs: Reframing the Debate is a cold, hard, slap in the face for ‘UFOlogy,’ a call to break away from established ideas, approaches, and practices, and to boldly tread a new path in quest of understanding what may very well be the greatest mystery of all.

For more information, including a sample chapter, visit White Crow Books

Review by Chris Jensen Romer

Gef! The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose, by Christopher Josiffe

Publication Details: Strange Attractor Press, ISBN 978-1-907222-48-1
Publish Date: April, 2017
front cover of Gef! The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose, by Christopher Josiffe

 

"I am the fifth dimension! I am the eighth wonder of the world!"

During the mid-1930s, British and overseas newspapers were full of incredible stories about Gef, a ‘talking mongoose’ or ‘man-weasel’ who had allegedly appeared in the home of the Irvings, a farming family in a remote district of the Isle of Man.  The creature was said to have the ability to talk in several languages, to sing, to steal objects from nearby farms and to eavesdrop on local people, such that they became uneasy at the farmer’s seeming ability to be able to tell them their most private goings-on.

Despite written reports, magazine articles and books, several photographs, fur samples and paw prints, voluminous correspondence and signed witness statements, there is still no consensus as to what was really happening to the Irving family.  Hoax? Mental illness? A poltergeist? The possession of an animal by an evil spirit? Now you can read all the evidence and decide for yourself.

Seven years’ research and interviews, photographs (many previously unseen), interviews with surviving witnesses, visits to the site – all are presented here in this new book, the first examination of the case for 70 years.

About the author:

Christopher Josiffe is a regular contributor to Fortean Times and has also been published in Faunus, Abraxas and The Pomegranate. He has presented lectures at (amongst others) the Ghost Club, the Society for Psychical Research, Senate House (University of London), Alchemical Landscape II (University of Cambridge), the London Fortean Society, and the Fortean Times Unconvention.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Legitimacy of Unbelief The Collected Papers of Piet Hein Hoebens, edited by Gerd H. Hövelmann and Hans Michels

Publication Details: LIT Verlag, ISBN: 978-3643908551
Publish Date: April, 2017
From the publisher's website: From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s Dutch journalist Piet Hein Hoebens held a unique position in the controversies between proponents and skeptics of parapsychology and related areas in what today often is referred to as “anomalistics”. While he described himself as a card-carrying skeptic, albeit one with strong “ecumenical” leanings, even many of his nominal opponents, the parapsychologists, deeply appreciated his in-depth knowledge of their field and his penetrating, but always fair and open-minded criticisms. Hoebens’ constructively skeptical influence on the culture of responsible scientific exchange is felt to this day, as can be seen from many recent references to both his popular articles and his publications in scientific journals and books.

For this book, the editors have collected (and in many cases translated) more than 40 of Hoebens’ most significant or characteristic writings, about half of which were never published in English before. Partly based on the so-called “Hoebens File”, they have also added editorial introductions and comments to elucidate the contexts in which these papers were written and to explicate their lasting relevance. Therefore, the book is more than a commemoration of an important author – it provides valuable insights into the history of parapsychology and its skeptical reflections and repercussions.

Divine Intervention, by Raymond J H Spencer

Publication Details: Self published, ISBN 978-0-473-36522-6
Publish Date: March, 2017
Divine Intervention, by Raymond J H Spencer

From the author: This book is set in 5 parts and the author goes into detail about the many and varied psychic experiences and his interaction with spirits over a 20 year period:

Part One: provides details of the author’s early life in New Zealand, and details Raymond’s experience of being shot in the side of the head at Raurimu in February 1997 and the massacre of six others. As a result of this, the author’s life underwent a dramatic spiritual change.

Parts Two and Three: provide details of more than 300 psychic experiences occurring over the period from February 1997 to March 2013, most of which were varied and provided by spirits for him to write about.

Part Four: analyses these experiences and considers them more from the point of view of the life of our spirit self and that of spririts. These are also studied in association with the findings from research in the psychic field, and the operation of the brain.

Part Five: provides details on our spiritual rights in contrast to the rights which humans presently have – being associated more with out material needs. it provides details on where mankind fits into life elsewhere in the greater universe, and how we need to change the path we are on in order to ensure our survival, and out ultimate place in the next realm.

Review by Tom Ruffles

The Boy Who Knew Too Much: An Astounding True Story of a Young Boy's Past-Life Memories, by Cathy Byrd

Publication Details: Hay House, ISBN: 9781401953423.
Publish Date: March, 2017

From the publisher's website: This is a powerful and inspirational story about a young baseball prodigy who, at the age of two, began sharing vivid memories of being a baseball player in the 1920s and ’30s. Christian Haupt described historical facts about Lou Gehrig that he could not have possibly known at the time.

Distraught by their son's uncanny revelations, his parents embarked on a sacred journey of discovery that shook their beliefs to the core and forever changed their views on life and death. The Boy Who Knew Too Much delves into the mystery of life and will inspire even the greatest skeptics to consider the possibility that love never dies.

Review by Dieter Hassler