Reviewed by Melvyn Willin
This is a difficult book to review, since its subject matter is diverse and its use of ‘Lucifer’ in the title immediately suggests the anti-Christ figure that most people either fear or refuse to believe in. The attachment of ‘Noble Stranger’ adds further confusion to the diabolical concept. However, the opening paragraph providing a brief biographical sketch of the author, Eileen Garrett, is followed by praise for the book from such worthies as Stanley Krippner and Chris Roe.
The foreword by Lisette Coly expands upon Garrett’s biography and provides details about the so-called ‘Mystery Boxes’ that contain details that, she claims, Garrett had kept concealed for fear of impending “the progress of the science of parapsychology” (p. xviii). Coly also reveals that it was Nandor Fodor who prompted Garrett, whilst she was hypnotised, to ask the name of her ‘Noble Stranger’, which was answered with the name ‘Lucifer’. Her guide ‘Uvani’ told her that ‘Lucifer’ was in fact Tahoteh – another control from an ancient pagan world. The subsequent conversations that Garrett had with ‘Lucifer’ are presented in two ‘Books’ each with regular sub-headings and an appendix referred to as an ‘Index of Passages’.
‘Book One’ introduces Garrett’s thoughts about her own upbringing as well as the actual conversations with ‘Lucifer’ and her interpretation of them. She reveals that being brought up as a Protestant in a Catholic school led to considerable difficulties when she was described as the “Spawn of the Devil” and she was aware of the fear of hell when she was persecuted for not being a Catholic. Garrett wrote that she first became aware of the ‘Noble Stranger’ when she was “between the ages of three and four” (p. 4) and later suggested that her companion arrived “spontaneously at times chosen by him and, I surmise, excites the cervical nervous system to enable means and ways by which he enters into a dialogue with me” (p. 2). Emilio Servadio asked her whether she thought that the answers to her questions were unexpected to which Garrett replied that she thought his answers derived from unexplained dimensions in her own mind. She spoke of having this invisible friend [as do many children] which stayed with her until she was nineteen. His visits mainly occurred when she was ill, frustrated or needy in some way and always in an emotional state. Garrett stated that she would be very unhappy if he went away believing him to be the “noblest creature I can conceive of” (p. 20), later adding that “No one in my life has offered me as much stimulation” (p. 24).
As to the nature of these conversations, a large amount of philosophizing takes place on a vast range of subjects including:
- The desecration of Nature.
- Sex: “The sex act finally became for me a means and ways of finding a way to God” (p. 27) and the relationship between sex and mediumship.
- Religion and politics.
- Warfare – ‘Lucifer’ warned that the Chinese would become a “terrible menace” in twenty-five years’ time.
- The mysteries of Eleusis.
Garrett had no contact with ‘Lucifer’ for two years after she had last been with him under the sensory deprivation of an LSD experience which she found ecstatic. Other autobiographical statements concerned her problems with the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) and what she referred to as the “Marjorie Crandon affair” (this refers to the medium Mina Crandon, known as Margery). She claimed to be “very upset” by it, without saying why. Her only other comments about it were that her work with Hyslop and Zabriski was negatively affected by the work taking place in Boston with the case. After a period of illness and chastisement from the ‘Noble Stranger’ she started to conceive what eventually became the Parapsychology Foundation, which she established in 1951.
‘Book Two’ is entitled ‘Lucifer’s Compendium of Guidance’ and consists of individually named paragraphs; question and answer sections; and aphorisms. The language is complicated and could be interpreted as ‘profound’ by some readers and ‘rambling’ by others. For example:
You are a spark of the first principle. Believe me, you have come to this stage of knowing and being because you have understood the evolutionary lesson and you have by your own understanding conquered each obstacle or you would not be here … And this life should be struggle with the life that the self, which is the soul, should dominate but dominate in security, not dominate in aggression … (pp. 102-3)
Other sections provide advice concerning the “Technique of Getting Help from the Universe” (p. 110) and somewhat bizarrely “On Soliciting Donations” (p. 120) with advice to “demand of the universe” a suitably “large figure in your own mind”. Another headings states “What seems Right to You, is Right” (p. 127) and one may speculate whether historians would agree with throwing the echoes of the past out into the universe – “The past is past. The things of the past have served their purpose” (p. 129).
A brief list of aphorisms (from ‘Lucifer’) contains thoughts that may (or may not) appeal to the reader. The first on the list reads: “The less time you give to an individual, the more respect he has for you” (p. 125). Really? The final ‘Index of Passages’ is superfluous since it is presented in page number order and not alphabetically. Perhaps a key-word index would have been an improvement.
As previously stated the subject material for this book emanates from the ‘Mystery Boxes’ that were discovered by Lisette Coly, Eileen Garrett’s granddaughter. She found another ‘Mystery Box’ which she stated had laid dormant. It would be beneficial for researchers to know the current whereabouts of these boxes and their availability for scrutiny to further increase their knowledge. I am therefore undecided about the interest of this book to psychical researchers and especially to parapsychologists. Admirers of Eileen Garrett will find it fascinating, as will delvers into the spiritual existence with its thought-provoking ideas. Unfortunately, I do not think it would be of interest to a casual reader and its actual provenance is somewhat open to question.
This review first appeared in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, volume 87(2).