The Spirit World of Daniel Dunglas Home
Written By: Paranormal News
If you haven't heard of him, Daniel Dunglas Home was an extremely curious and disruptive figure to the scientific community in the 19th Century who has never been successfully defrauded, but who exactly was he? What were his beliefs? What did he, himself, think, which gave him the power to move objects and communicate with the departed?
According to his autobiographical work "Incidents in My Life" which was published in 1864, Home was born on March 20th of 1833 at Edinburgh in Scotland. He was adopted by his aunt at the ripe old age of one, and headed off to the United States at the age of nine.
As a child, he was an extremely nervous individual and a bit difficult to handle. He also had a number of health problems and was never very good at sports.
The first experiences which involved Home started while he was still in the cradle. It was noted by his aunt that it would occasionally rock back and forth for some unknown reason. At the age of four, he also told his aunt that a cousin who lived a short distance from them had just died, which was later confirmed.
He never thought much about ghosts or the afterlife outside of the context presented to him by the church until the age of 13 when he was reading his Bible in the forest with his friend Edwin who brought up a ghost story about a Lord and a lady. Home told his friend that he hadn't heard the tale before, but at that point, they both made a pact between one another: the first to die would return and visit the other after the third day of death, and they prayed it would be so--God permit.
A month later, Home had moved to New York with his family. Everyone had gone to bed, and Home, in turn, went to his own room to lay down and rest. The moon was shining bright through the window, illuminating it from wall to wall and he said his prayers while sitting on his bed. When he went to slip under the covers, darkness filled the room, which confused him as the moon was still shining just as bright. He thought, perhaps, a cloud had suddenly blotted it out, but then realized it was the room itself which was darkening. Suddenly, a light illuminated the gloom and standing before him was his friend Edwin who looked the same as he remembered, yet slightly more vivid in color, and with longer hair. He raised his hand and drew three circles in the air, smiled, his arm faded, and then the rest of his body faded away as well. Stunned, momentarily, Home regained his composure and rang a bell which summoned his family. He told them that his friend had just died three days before at the same hour. A letter arrived shortly thereafter, confirming Edwin had indeed died three days prior, of malignant dysentery.
Although he lived with his aunt, a number of members in his family in addition to himself were known for their abilities. Home's mother, for instance was able to foresee events prior to them occurring.
When Home was 17 and living in Connecticut, he was suddenly struck with a powerful urge to go and visit his mother who lived 12 miles away. Without thinking too heavily upon it, he walked the entire distance to meet her, and finally, once they were alone, his mother informed him that she would die in four months. Home asked her how she knew. "Your little sister, Mary, came to me in a vision, holding four lilies in her hand, and allowing them to slip through her fingers one after another, till the last one had fallen, she said 'And then you will come and see me.' I asked her whether the lilies signifies years, months, weeks, or days, and she told me months.'" His mother also told him that she would be away from relatives when she died, which Home thought was impossible since the family was quite large.
The evening upon which his mother passed, Home was sick. "Dan, twelve o'clock' he heard, and when he looked between the window and his bed he saw the bust of his mother. She said the same thing three times, only to fade away in the same manner as Edwin had done long ago. He rang his bell and told his aunt his mother had died that same day, at twelve o'clock, but she told him that his vision was nonsense and probably the result of his fever. Yet, like Edwin's death, it was later confirmed to be true. His mother had indeed died at twelve o'clock the same day, four months after her vision.
A few months later, the knockings began while sitting at breakfast with his aunt. His aunt had recently become angry when he had switched to a different church, so when the table rapped, she yelled at him and said, "So you've brought the devil to my house, have you." And she, in a rage, whipped a chair at him. Her aunt later went to her own church and asked the minister to pray for him to be freed of such visitations. The minister, Mr. Mussey, came to the house later and prayed with Home, but at every mention of God and Jesus, his chair was tapped, or taps were heard from various parts of the room. In Home's mind, the rappings were indications of agreement and, as such, vowed to turn himself completely over to God who had given him such signs--although his aunt and the minister saw it a bit differently and considered it nothing other than the work of the devil. The minister looked upon Home in pity as if he were a lost soul, but this disgusted Home more than anything.
A bit later in the house, chairs began to move of their own accord, and at one point when a table was vibrating, his aunt placed a Bible upon its surface and said, "There, that will drive the devils away," at which point it began to vibrate and shake even more. Home interpreted this to mean the table was "pleased to bear such a burden" which was presented by the inclusion of the Bible. Infuriated, his aunt threw herself upon the table--which promptly rose from the floor.
Looking for someone to understand that he was not one of the devil's legions, he ended up spending some time with a separate aunt who, instead of shying away from such things as moving objects and strange rappings, wanted to investigate and question the activity with him. When the rappings were heard, they attempted to communicate with it. Whatever or whomever was knocking identified itself to be his mother, who informed him that God was with him and it was his mission to convince non-believers of such events, cure those who were sick, and console those who are grieving. After this occurred, he was convinced to leave the house of his other aunt who seemed to be more interested in condemning him for the activity as opposed to doing the more practical thing and discovering how to use it.
It was only within a week that word of his abilities began to spread when he visited his neighbor, Mrs. Force. They had begun to communicate by translating the raps on the table into the alphabet. The name of Mrs. Force's mother was given, as well as information concerning her long forgotten sister who had moved far away 30 years prior. Her mother, through the communication, told Mrs. Force the name of the city within which her sister was residing, and provided an address. Mrs. Force decided she would send a letter to the address, and shortly thereafter received a reply, confirming it was the address of her long lost sister as well as a number of other details which the rappings had provided.
Word of Home's capabilities spread very quickly. He had no idea how the phenomena was occurring, or why, and could not control when or to how great of an extent it would manifest. At certain points his ability to communicate with unseen intelligences—whatever their origin--would leave him completely, only to return at a later date. Between the 10th of February in 1856 up to the 10th of February in 1857, for instance, the ability left him completely. When he later asked why it had been removed from him, he was told it was a form of punishment for doing something that he knew to be wrong.
When questioned, he claimed neither to have a moral superiority nor a moral weakness, only that he was given a gift which he hoped could be used to help others who were in need. As such, he became a bit of a traveler, and ventured into the world at a particularly young age.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS - 1852
In February of 1852, Home traveled to Springfield Massachusetts where, upon arriving, asked to be directed to the residence of Henry Gordon, a medium, who accepted him into his home with open arms and who, as the fates may have it, was to hold a séance that night. During the evening, Gordon had not been very successful in contacting anyone, so at an early hour, he left to walk a few of his friends to their houses, leaving Home with a number of friends who stayed, friends which included Mr. and Mrs. Elmer--the latter being a firm disbeliever. About that time, as the fates would also have it, Home was thrown into a trance and was made to sit next to Mrs. Elmer. Immediately he began name her mother, father, brothers, sisters, and children, all of whom Home claimed was in the spirit world. In addition, he even went so far as to name the last words of both of her two children before they had died. He then turned to the rest of the people in the room and did the same for all of them as well.
Understandably, Home became very good friends with the Elmers and took up residence with them, holding up to seven séances a day. As his fame spread, their house became a relatively busy location, with people traveling in from as far away as South America to have readings of their own.
It was at the Elmer residence where Professor David Wells from Harvard University and William Cullen Bryant of the New York Evening Post attended a table-tipping session along with a number of other individuals, all of whom were so impressed by Home's capabilities that they wrote a letter to the Springfield Republican to testify in support of the claims. The letter went as follows:
THE MODERN WONDER – A MANIFESTO
The undersigned, from a sense of justice to the parties referred to, very cordially bear testimony to the occurrence of the following facts, which we severally Witnessed at the house of Rufus Elmer, in Springfield, on the evening of the 5th inst:
1. The table was moved in every possible direction, and with great force, when we could not perceive any cause of motion.
2. It (the table) was forced against each one of us so powerfully as to move us from our positions—together with the chairs we occupied—in all, several feet.
3. Mr. Wells and Mr. Edwards took hold of the table in such a manner as to exert their strength to the best advantage, but found the invisible power, exercised in an opposite direction, to be quite equal to their utmost efforts.
4. In two instances, at least, while the hands of all the members of the circle were placed on the top of the table, and while no visible power was employed to raise the table, or otherwise to move it from its position—it was seen to rise clear of the floor, and to float in the atmosphere for several seconds, as if sustained by some denser medium than air.
5. Mr. Wells seated himself on the table, which was rocked for some time with great violence, and at length, it poised itself on two legs, and remained in this position for some thirty seconds, when no other person was in contact with it.
6. Three persons, Messrs. Wells, Bliss, and Edwards assumed positions on the table at the same time, and while thus seated, the table was moved in various directions.
7. Occasionally, we were made conscious of the occurrence of a powerful shock, which produced vibratory motion of the floor of the apartment in which we were seated—it seemed like the motion occasioned by distant thunder or firing of ordnance far away—causing the table, chairs, and other inanimate objects, and all of us to tremble in such a manner that the effects were both seen and felt.
8. In the whole exhibition, which was far more diversified than the foregoing specification would indicate, we were constrained to admit that there was an almost constant manifestation of some intelligence which seemed, at least, to be independent of the circle.
9. In conclusion we may observe, that Mr. D. D. Home, frequently urged us to hold his hands and feet. During these occurrences the room was well lighted, the lamp was frequently placed on and under the table, and every possible opportunity was afforded to us for the closest inspection, and we admit this one emphatic declaration: We know that we were not imposed upon nor deceived.
David A. Wells
Considering that David Ames Wells was an engineer, you would assume that he would have been able to figure out how a trick could have been done, given the fact that he was allowed to examine everything to his heart's content, along with the rest of those involved with the séance.
A letter written to express a similar occurrence was sent to the Shekinah in 1952, signed by eleven people, attesting to the same phenomena in which five men with a combined weight of 855 pounds stood on a table that moved 4 to 8 inches multiple times. Each of the men stated that they had made absolutely no movement of their own. The men tried a different experiment in which they measured how much force was required to lift a table, and discovered it varied greatly upon request by the spirits, even though Home wasn't even in the room. "Meteor-like" lights were seen shooting through the room, strange smells were observed, and on one occasion a "spirit light" was witnessed which remained luminous for up to 15 minutes.
Mr. S. B. Brittan relays another tale of Home in a trance who stated, "Hannah Brittan is here!" and began to wander the room, twisting his hands, describing scenes of a great pit and burning fire. Mr. Brittan later claimed that Hannah had spent thirty years in complete fear of hell which had eventually driven her mad. Hannah then informed Mr. Brittan through Home that the stories of hell were not legitimate and that she was at peace. He personally had not thought of Hannah in quite some time, so he felt convinced that Home's capabilities were thus legitimate.
Later, Home visited New York in which he met a number of prominent people including a physician named Dr. Hallock. In Hallock's presence he once again seemed to communicate directly with the spirits of the dead, one which was named Mr. P. who relayed that once he crossed over, bright spirits took him to a happy home, but claimed that it would not be truly home for spirits if they were not allowed to watch over friends they had left behind. "Be upright and kind," stated the spirit, "and it will prepare you for brighter spheres." Further along in communication,it said, "Be patient, as God is. Think of his forbearance, for ages past, with the blindness, the hardness, the perversity of man. If man had possessed His power, he would, in his impatience, long since have annihilated earth and all which inhabit it." And finally, "Think not of the grave. To us, it is past and forgotten. To you, it is but an entrance into a new and more glorious existence. Oft in the silent of the night, when the busy toils of life are hushed and the mind is at rest from cares, we hover around you and watch over you, happy, indeed, at being able to impress our presence upon you."
Home did not charge for his services. Even when offered money, he politely turned them down but met with them anyway. He seemed to accept lodging more than anything, and it was during a stay at the house of Ward Cheney in South Manchester, Connecticut, in which he was observed by many witnesses to levitate.
A circle had been formed with a number of guests around a table which began to vibrate and make the sounds of loud rappings. One guest looked under the table and confirmed there were nothing there to make such a noise. Home had his eyes bandaged over tightly and suddenly seized up into a "magnetic state" in which his jaw locked and all of his muscles went rigid. He then proceeded to give messages to a number of people who were in the room, all of whom declared the correctness of the messages, but instead of speaking, the group held up a 7 x 9 card to home that contained the letters of the alphabet. He pointed to the letters in a rapid fashion while another member of the party wrote everything down, trying with much difficulty to keep up with him. If a word had been spelled incorrectly or a sentence were left unfinished, they would ask for a correction, to which rappings on the table and parts of the room would give them the rest of the letters.
One of the messages concerned two sailors, lost at sea, relatives to one of the group. At the same time, they heard creakings of a ship as if timbers and masts of a vessel fought a raging storm. The sound of waves crashed as the table shook, rocking in motion. Afterwards, the table itself capsized, seemingly representing the destruction of a ship. Home gave the names and ages of the two sailors who had lost their lives, and none of the group could figure how Home had come up with such a set of information which was confirmed.
The table itself began to play tunes, and it lifted off from the floor. The group estimated that the table itself had weighed, on its own, at least 100 pounds. One of the group jumped up onto the table, which sunk briefly, only to rise again and commence rocking back and forth. It flipped the first person off in a perpendicular fashion, at which point two people jumped on top of it at once and struggled to hold it down.
Afterwards, the group went into a darkened room where flashes of light illuminated themselves. Loud rappings rang out from the walls, the floor, the tables. The walls shook, and answers were given to questions which had been asked. A daughter of one of the men who previously had been a firm disbeliever made her presence known. The man requested to feel her hand upon his forehead, to which the spirit obliged. The man later stated he could not deny the thrill he felt at the touch of her hand.
On request that the spirits give everyone undeniable proof of their presence within the room, Home himself raised into the air. One group member had hold of his hand and felt him rise, while two others latched on to his feet. Regardless, he raised both of them upwards. Sweat from Home dripped from his body and he choked and contorted. At the extreme, Home managed to make contact with both his hand and head upon the ceiling.
Describing the sensation, he stated he felt 'an electrical fullness from the feet.' No hands supported him, but his arms usually raised above his head which would then become rigid. At times when he reached the ceiling, his feet would be brought level with his head and, at the extreme, he would be kept at the ceiling for up to five minutes. On a few occasions, he even carried a pencil in his hand and would write on the ceiling. Although any claim to a feat of levitation stretches the mind to breaking point, please make a mental note: apparently, Houdini himself was never able to replicate it. Given, however, that he could affect the weight of objects which William Crookes later confirmed in his lab, it follows that he also could potentially affect his own weight. No matter which way you look at it, cancelling out gravity's influence is one seriously intriguing gift, indeed.
TABLE CLOTH APPARITIONS AND STRINGING GUITARS
In another incident while D. D. Home was visiting in Hartford, another group of people came together to hold a séance. The group decided to try out a new experiment in which they would place a tablecloth upon a table and perhaps a spirit would manifest itself through the cloth itself. They placed a lamp upon it, and the circle drew back far enough so that no one would be able to touch it. A few moments later, the edges of the cloth lifted up on the other side of Home, and in full light of the lamp, something appeared to move beneath the material. Seeming to be a substantial thing, it formed into a hand, and the party took turns shaking it through the cloth. On closer inspection, the cloth was lifted, and upon doing so, the form evaporated and disappeared. Shortly thereafter, the form returned, this time once again manifesting itself through the cloth, at which point it slipped out from beneath it and continued to touch members of the party when there was nothing visible to the eye.
After the hand apparition, a member of the group pulled a guitar from its case and placed beneath the table. As soon as everyone once again seated themselves, the guitar played, evidently by the sound of real, substantial hands. A member of the group pulled the guitar from under the table and walked to the door away from the group and it continued to play, louder than ever. It was then passed from one person to the next and continued to play for several minutes, tunes that no one was quite familiar with as if from some far away land. When they placed it near a wall, eleven feet away, it continued to play and lifted itself out of the position and floated towards the group, bumping into a chair and dragging it for a foot or so, then lifted up and played in the air before everyone. It tapped one member of the group on the shoulder, then flew towards Home and tapped him on the head as well. One member stated that a distinct outline of a human hand could be seen grasping the instrument below the center.
Later, the party observed a disembodied hand writing a message on the table before them. One person lowered his face as close as possible to the hand as it gripped the pen. He attempted to see in as clear of detail as possible what substance formed the hand, but he must have drawn his face too close, destroying the 'electric or magnetic influence' and the hand vanished. On the paper it had written 'dear' which was later confirmed to be in the handwriting of no one else within the room. Following the writing, the hand then reappeared and traveled around the room, shaking the hand of others who had taken part in the circle. The members stated it felt soft and slightly warm, yet most assuredly ended at the wrist.
Although Home had arrived in England alone and suffering from illness, he had been accepted with open arms, and within a month had a full schedule which he was having trouble fulfilling.
During one visit, J. J. G. Wilkinson wrote a letter to the Morning Advertiser, describing his own experience with Home who was residing on Jermyn Street. In the letter he explained a number of experiments which had been conducted with his group.
It was asked of Home at the time why instruments needed to be placed beneath the table, to which Home stated that they only had to be placed there at first meeting, but could be taken out at a later date. Wilkinson describes that Home was also an unlikely trickster and traveled with no companions nor equipment. He was also extremely cordial in all manners. In one instance, Wilkinson explained that the rappings were so loud that Home requested the spirits to please turn it down as he was only a lodger and did not want to disturb the other guests. Many of the men involved had highly skeptical minds, and Home explained that this marred the forces at work. In addition, he explained that the spirits generally accomplish what they do directly through our 'life-sphere', or atmosphere, which contained the permeation of mankind's wills. If the will itself was contrary, the sphere within which we all reside was unfit for the spirits to manifest. Wilkinson truly believed in Home to the extreme, claiming that no magician could do anything close to what he had witnessed in the man's presence.
FRANCE – MOMMA I HEAR YOU
On the 19th or March in 1857, while staying at 13, Rue des Champs Elysees, Madame A. Mavoisin de Cardonne sent Home a letter describing a dream she had in which Home's mother appeared in a dream with her own mother, and her own mother told her to seek out Home to cure her son who had become deaf for years earlier from Typhoid fever. She wrote and told Home she would be arriving the following morning at 10 AM. He had not responded to the letter, but received her the following morning.
She sat down on the sofa with her son and described all the painful procedures doctors had put him through, and although Home did not seem to want to here the gory details, he told the boy to sit next to him and caressed his hair. When he touched his face, he suddenly lifted his head, his voice trembling and said, "Mamn, je t'entends!" (Mamma, I hear you!) The mother looked at her son in astonishment and promptly fainted. On her recovery, the mother asked her son numerous questions just to hear him reply. The boy was able to resume his studies shortly thereafter.
AMERICA – THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA ATTACKS
Upon arriving back in America, Home became aware of rumors which had begun circulating in The New York Herald, which was in Home's words, "a paper better known for its untruthfulness than otherwise", which claimed that he had stolen 230,000 pounds and forever banished from France. The Independence Belge stated that Napoleon had sent him away after the Empress had become too affected by his diabolic scenes. It also reported Home had been paid 40,000 pounds a year to stay at the royal household. Other rumors circulated, claiming he had been arrested and placed in a prison within Mazas.
In order to correct the rumors, a letter was sent by the Bureau du Ministre de l'Interiur on the 18th of July in 1868, which refuted all claims. Prince Murat also sent people to Germany, Italy, and England on his own expense to figure out who had been slandering Home, as well as to declare through his own testimony the untruth of the matter.
Other reports claimed he had summoned Socrates, Frederick the Great, as well as other historical figures during his visit to Europe, all of which Home stated were, frankly, untrue. Referring to the press, "I found it the easiest to let them have their way, for if I had begun to contradict all the falsehoods told about me, my time would have been fully occupied in vain attempts to stop the torrent which seems as if it would never cease to flow."
Home recounted other popular myths about his mediumship which he often found amusing. Many believed, for instance, in Paris, that he carried a trained monkey in his pocket. Another stated his legs had been malformed and he could elongate them. Another belief stated he sent tables to homes before visiting. A few others: he had some strange hypnotic capabilities; he levitated it were merely a gas-filled balloon in the shape of a man; he administered chloroform to those around the table; he performed ventriloquism, he carried electric concealed batteries; rappings were said to be produced by his toes and ankles cracking along with snapping of his own thumbnails; inquiries amongst secretly paid household members allowed him to garner the names of relatives, etc. Home stated all of these were far from the truth, which is something that the scientific minded refused to believe. Home himself found it absurd that so many learned individuals could come up with so many disagreed upon reasonings.
HOME HEALS HIMSELF
In 1859, shortly after marrying his wife Alexandria de Kroll, he fell ill of severe internal inflammation. It lasted for quite some time, and 'friction' was applied to ease the symptoms by his physician. One night, his hands were suddenly seized by a strange influence, and in a frenzy, he began to beat the part of his body which had been inflamed. His wife tried to stop him, but a friend held her back. The violence which he used to hit himself continued for almost an hour, causing the bed as well as the room itself to shake. He felt no pain, and after continuing in this manner for about an hour, he lost strength and fell asleep. When he awoke, his symptoms left, and to the astonishment of his physician, the disease had been eradicated.
SUPPORTERS OF HOME
In opposition to some of the absurd reasonings people put forth concerning how Home did his tricks, in an article found in the "Morning Star", Dr. J. M. Gully, M.D., gave his voice of support towards the inexplicable levitation people witnessed around Home. He stated that, "no trick, machinery, sleight of hand, or other artistic contrivance produced what we heard and beheld. I am quite convinced of this last as I am of the facts themselves." Continuing, "Only consider that here is a man, between ten and eleven stone in weight, floating about the room for many, minute—in the tomb-like silence which prevailed, broken only by his voice coming from different portions of the room, according to his then position—is it probable, is it possible, that any machinery could be devised—not to speak of its being set up and previously made ready in a room, which was fixed upon as the place of meeting only five minutes before we entered it—capable of carrying such a weight about without the slightest sounds of any description? Or suppose, as has been suggested, that he bestrode an inflated balloon, could a balloon have been introduced inflated large enough to hold in mid-air such a weight? Or could it have been inflated with hydrogen gas without being detected by ears, eyes, or nose?" Furthermore, "Let it be remembered, moreover, that the room was, for a good part of the evening, in a blaze of light, in which no balloon or other machine sufficient for the supposed purpose could be introduced, or if, introduced, could remain unobserved; and that, even when the room was comparatively darkened, light streamed through the window from a distant gas-lamp outside, between which gas-lamp and our eyes Mr. Home's form passed, so that we distinctively perceived its trunk and limbs; and most assuredly there was no balloon near him, nor any machinery attached to him. His foot once touched my head when he was floating above."
Turning to other so-called 'rational' arguments, "Then the accordion music. I distinctly saw the instrument moving and heard it playing when held only at one end, again and again. I held it myself for a short time, and had good reason to know that it was vehemently pulled at the other end, and not by Mr. Home's toes, as has been wisely surmised, unless the gentlemen has legs three yards long, with toes at the end of them quite as marvellous as any legion of spirits. For, be it stated, that such music as we heard was no ordinary strain; it was grand at times, at others pathetic, at others distant and long-drawn, to a degree which no one can imagine who has not heard it. I have heard Blagrove repeatedly, but it is no libel on that master of the instrument to say that he never did produce such exquisite distant and echo notes as those which delighted our ears. The instrument played, too, at distant parts of the room, many yards away from Mr. Home, and from us. I believe I am stating a fact when I say, that no one person in the room could play an accordion at all. Mr. Home cannot play a note upon it."
"Let it be remembered," the author exclaimed, "that scurrility and laughter never discovered or disproved anything in the world's history."
In an unrelated séance with six people recorded in the diary of Mrs. P., on February 18th 1962, Home fell into a trance and addressed a skeptical person in the room. "You ask what good are such trivial manifestations, such as rapping, table-moving, etc.? God is a better judge than we are what is fitted for humanity, immense results may spring from trivial things. The steam from a kettle is a small thing, but look at the locomotive! The electric spark from the back of a cat is a small thing, but see the wonders of electricity! The raps are small things, but their results will lead you to the Spirit World and to eternity! Why should great results spring from such small causes? Christ was born in a manger, he was not born a King. When you tell me why he was born in a manger, I will tell you why the manifestations, so trivial, so undignified as they appear to you, have been appointed to convince the world of the truth of spiritualism."
Further in Home's biography, noting the lack of complete names in all instances which he assumed would bother future readers, he writes, "I am sorry that in so many instances I am obliged to conceal the names of my friends who have witnessed wonderful things; but if the reader is disposed to complain of this, let him remember the reason, and take the greater part of the blame on himself. No sooner is the name of some honest and courageous person given in obedience to the call for testimony, than it becomes a target for all the ridicule, jests, and the abuse of the unscrupulous, the sceptical, the orthodox, and the scientific; in fact, of all who are not wise enough to think, and observe, and weigh, and judge, before they decide." As a contemporary reader, given that enough noted individuals had no problem with their names being used, it gives creditability even to the stories included in his autobiography which did not carry a direct name themselves.
Writing in support of Home, Mrs. S. C. Hall, who had no problems with attributing her own self as a witness as well as noting the number of frauds that were beginning to crop up, wrote, "There must be a coin to create a counterfeit, and, doubtless, charlatanism has found its way into 'circles,' whence it has been driven as soon as discovered." Continuing, she stated, "I believe it is sanctioned by GOD, and that therefore it must be for a good purpose; and I content myself, as I must content those who may read what I have written, with expressing my conviction that Spiritualism is TRUTH."
The most notable difference that occurred in people who witnessed Home in person as a medium seemed to have been a very purposeful change of heart when it came to their opinions of the after-life when all other means had failed. Having said that, it was curious to Home that the Royal Society would go out of their way to study gravitation, electricity, and magnetism, but when a new universal law presented itself to them which was equally as valid, they would refuse to accept it on the grounds not for scientific reasons but instead on the grounds that it was blasphemous to attempt to inquire into what were called God's mysteries. Men had their Bibles, they believed, and as such had all the proof they needed. To Home, God had the capability to preserve any mystery, but it was humanity's right and duty to search those mysteries without branding such efforts as the work of the devil. If men were to inquire of the mysteries, new mysteries would present themselves.
It is therefore ironic that during Home's stay in Rome and Paris in 1857, he had converted to Catholicism from Protestantism after meeting with the Pope. When he did so, however, his connection with the spirit world left him for an entire year. Home was under the impression that it was the result of knowingly doing wrong. The spirits informed him, however, that they would return on the 10th of February, 1857. Father de Ravignan who had often heard the rappings and listened disapprovingly when visiting Home while he was ill, told him, "There is no fear of that, my child, so long as you go on as you are now doing, observing carefully all sacraments of our holy church; they will not be allowed to return." All forms of spiritualism that he had performed were denied, and Home attempted to obey the instructions of the church but was unable to do so. Home tried to reason with Ravignan, saying it was no right to deny a gift which God had given, but the argument fell on deaf ears. In Home's mind, his séances and mediumship had caused more converts to the Christian faith than all the churches combined at his time, and as such, he saw no reason to consider it evil.
Echoing similar conditions of today, Home's purpose in life was to prove the existence of immortality, not to himself, but others who were obsessed with the rampant materialism both in and outside of the Christian church. He had no desire to create a sect, nor did he have any desire for riches as he lived the majority of his life in poverty, a servant to his own gifts. "He did not argue, he proved," stated his second wife, in the preface of her own account of his life, edited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
After experiencing the death of his wife to disease at the age of 22, Home published his autobiography and was promptly threatened with a libel suit by Dr. Carpenter, F.R.S., who later attempted to discourage William Crookes from doing any sort of investigation with Home. Carpenter, whose father was a unitarian preacher, had spent the better part of 10 years writing that the table-tipping phenomena had more to do with a shared nerve reflex than anything spiritual. When rumors of the suit surfaced, the publisher dropped the idea of releasing any future additions. A new publishing company did, however, issue a new edition, and Carpenter's libel suit never surfaced in the courts.
Home then made the decision to study sculpting, of all things, possibly after being presented at the death of his wife with a sculpture of her given to him as a gift. Although he was discouraged by many from doing so, he headed to Rome, following his heart. In January of 1864. Seemingly, his decision to leave Catholicism behind caught up to him, and he was questioned by the Roman police and threatened with sorcery. He was told he had three days to leave the city. He submitted a letter, asking for permission to stay by promising neither to perform séances nor talk about spiritualism, but despite his proclamation, there were higher powers at work. The letters sent to Home while staying in the city had been kept from him and read by the authorities. "Is there anything against Mr. Home's character?" asked a high personage who interviewed the Governor of Rome on his behalf. "No," Monsignor Matteucci had replied, "nothing. During the two months he has been in Rome we have had him watched, and we believe his character is without blemish. But he is a sorcerer, and cannot be permitted in Rome; and he must go." As such, he left for Naples.
In 1864, a distinguished electrician named Cromwell Varley, F.R.S., had a séance with Home, and being of a scientific mind, decided to test some of the claims in a way in which Home could have no idea what he was doing. When a spirit manifested, he requested it touch certain parts of his body in succession, but did not speak the request out loud. Despite this fact, the spirit obeyed, touching his coat, his knee, his other knee, his shoulder. After leaving and returning to his own residence, he distinctly heard raps in his room. The following day, Home sent him a letter stating, "When alone in your room last night, you heard sounds. I am so pleased." He mentioned that the spirits had informed him that they had followed him to his house. When accounting Varleys expository to other members of the Royal Society, Dr. Carpenter, published a note in the Quarterly Review in October 1871, stating there were grave doubts about Varley's account. "His scientific attainments are so cheaply estimated by those who are best qualified to judge them, that he has never been admitted to the Royal Society." Carpenter wrote this without being aware that three months prior, Varley had already been made a fellow to the Royal Society. Whoops.
In evidence given before the Dialectic Society which was created to investigate the claims of spiritualism, Mrs. Honywood and the Earl of Crawford described a séance which was given by Home on March 17, 1869. Home, in a trance, took the glass globe off a lamp which was lit and placed it on the table. He placed both hands upon it and asked a lady to touch it. She refused, rightly believing that it was hot. Through Home, a voice said, "Have you no faith? Will you not trust in Dan if he says it is cool?" She said she trusted Home, and placed her hands on the lamp which did not burn. In surprise, she exclaimed that it did not feel hot at all. Two others laid their hands upon the globe as well, who affirmed the same. Home then turned as if talking to a spirit, mentioned that further proof would be required, and asked a man who also attended the séance to touch it next. His hand said it had become hot again, and showed the room the red marks on his finger. By the time the fourth person placed his hand upon it, it raised a blister which he had for quite a few days later.
The same Mrs. Honywood later relayed an instance where Home placed a chimney in a burning fire for a few minutes, took it out with his bare hands, and brought it back to the table where he held a lucifer match to it which instantly caught fire. "The tongue and lips are the most sensitive parts of the body," Home said, and thrust the glass into his mouth, running his tongue over it. Going back to the fire, he grabbed a burning ember and brought it to Mrs. E. and said, "I have a present for you," and shook the burning flames over her white muslin dress. Afterwards he tossed it to Lord Lindsay who could not hold it, who pitched it quickly from his palm into the fire. The white muslin dress of Mrs. E. did not have any markings from the flames. This entire phenomena was repeated during other séances as well. The spirits declared that a person needed perfect faith to do such things so that no injury would be received.
In a more dramatic instance during a séance attended by Lord Adare, Home walked over to a fire and knelt before it, placing both of his hands and finally his head in the embers, rolling in them as if bathing. Home then grasped a coal that was burning hot, apparently twice the size of an orange and walked back to the table. He held it near the faces of two of those in attendance and they could not bear the heat. He then walked to Lord Adare and told him that if he was not afraid, he should hold it in his hand. Adare obliged, and amazing himself, held for half a minute, stating that it was scarcely warm.
During a number of séances, it became quite clear to the members of numerous groups that the spirits which manifested seem to do so with no ill-intentions, and in several instances were heard singing church songs. In one episode, Lord Adare mentioned that they distinctly head the voices singing, "Hallelujah, praise the Lord, praise the Lord God Almighty," although the voice sounded more like an organ than it did a human. Since so many individuals thought that Spiritualism as it became to be known was the work of the devil, these recorded instances make quite a bit of sense in context. The accordion and musical instruments mostly played popular and classical music at the time, such as "Oft in the Stilly Night" and "The Last Rose of Summer."
Of the lights that many witnessed during the séance, both upon Home's head and flighting around the room, none of them were able to be artificially produced in the laboratory by William Crookes who had seen them for himself in several instances. "I have seen," wrote Crookes, "luminous points of light darting about and settling on the heads of different persons; I have had questions answered by the flashing of a bright light a desired number of times in front of my face...I have had an alphabetic communication given by luminous flashes occurring before me in the air, whilst my hand was moving about amongst them...In the light, I have seen a luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side table, break a sprig off, and carry the sprig to a lady." Orbs flitted about the room on several occasions, touching members who described it as a material, electrical sensation.
Lord Adare also witnessed Home perform an obviously painful maneuver in which he elongating himself to a full 8 to 10 inches, and then shrink himself from his regular height by 6 to 8 inches. He had done this by placing himself between Adare and the Earl of Crawford. During both episodes, his feet were firmly by his sides. When measuring the distance, Home had been stretched at an extreme to seven feet in length, from head to toe.
Following the elongation, on December 16th, 1868, Home performed what many considered to be the most startling levitation. Home had been quite agitated during a trance that night and walked into an adjoining room. The group which had gathered heard the window open up. A spirit told one of the members of the group that he was going to go out one window and in another, windows which stood 70 feet up from the ground below. Almost immediately afterwards the group saw Home floating in the air outside a different window where he promptly opened it up and stepped inside. The Master of Lindsay who was attending the séance stood up and shut the window that he had gone through, noting that it had only been opened up by about 1 foot. Lindsay asked Home how he had every fit through such a small gap. "Come and see," he said, and they opened the window once again to make a 12 inch opening. Suddenly, Home shot through the window head first, his body horizontal and rigid, only to return a few moments later, feet first. The group took measurements of the window, confirming they were seven feet four inches apart, and they all noted there was actually nothing which he could grasp to perform such a trick, unless he had legitimately levitated. When Home awoke, he stated he felt afraid, as he had the most horrible desire to throw himself out of the window. Lord Adare and Lord Lindsay both wrote up completely separate and distinct eye-witness accounts of this séance—later confirmed to be in perfect agreement.
As if on queue, Dr. Carpenter, Vice President of the Royal Society made yet another glaring error in his own writing concerning this instant. He latched on to the fact that third witness to this levitation did not come forward, and claimed that if he did, everyone would discover a contradiction in the relayed stories. He was absolutely obsessed with getting his theory of 'unconscious cerebration'--involuntary muscle movements—to be historically seen as the reason behind all of the the Spiritualism phenomena, and would seemingly go to any extremes to disprove the rest. Captain Charles Wynn was a third witness to the window levitation, and despite Carpenter writing an article that said he hadn't come forward and as such the whole account of Home levitating outside of the window could be a collaborated lie, Wynn actually did come forward, in perfect agreement to both Lord Adare and Lord Lindsay. Wynn stated that there was no point trying to convince men such as Dr. Carpenter.
Carpenter later asserted that his lack of faith in the Home phenomena was the result of the 'Lyon Trial', in which a wealthy woman with no relatives had wanted to adopt Home as her own and began to throw money his way, given that he would take on her name as live with her as a son. One morning he had received a check for 24,000 pounds, and afterwards, an additional 6,000 pounds, given that he would accept. Based on his own circumstances at the time, Home had, surprisingly, accepted, only for her to change her mind and sue him afterwards and demand the money back. Home had attempted to live with her, but found it impossible because of her violent mood swings and physical abuse. He returned all of it after the trial, despite the fact that many lawyers claimed he could have kept it. It was perhaps the only instance in which he had accepted money, and it bit him, perhaps by the spirits, just as they bit him when converting to catholicism--further destroying his reputation in the mainstream press. Even though Carpenter respected Home as a person, he did not respect the phenomena.
Curiously, in private letters, Carpenter stated he saw nothing wrong with believing in life after death or spirit communication and believed Home to be an honest man, although in public, he stated the contrary, condemning all spiritualism phenomena as nothing more than a complete fraud. One should add that Carpenter never attempted to witness the phenomena surrounding Home, and personally had never attended a séance.
After marrying his second wife and following advice to keep himself healthy, Home spent most of his time writing and receiving letters from friends, many of whom complained of not being able to witness Spiritualistic phenomena with any other subjects other than Home. Home wrote in his own books and letters, concerning the fraudulent activity with much sadness, knowing he could do nothing to prevent it from occurring. Crookes, for instance, complained in 1876 that he could do no more investigations with spiritualists in England after Home "because the mediums in England are such cheats...if not for the regard we bear to you, I would cut the whole Spiritual connection, and never read, speak, or think of the subject again." Surely, they wondered, Home could not be the only person in the world with such gifts, but try as they may, they struggled to find anyone who had been able to express such power.
All séances, Home later wrote concerning frauds, should be conducted in the light, and not in the darkness where there is a possibility of imposture and suspicion. It seemed to be Home's belief that the reason so many séances failed was the result of them being held in the darkness.
Why, it was once asked during a séance, do not spirits interact with us more frequently and in more ways, to teach us to shun the wrong and seek the right? The answer which was given stated that spirits interact with man in thousands of ways each day, and no one notices. Every day, people ask for a sign, and every day, signs are given, but people do not see. How do spirit bodies appear? Another person asked. "Sometimes we make the actual resemblance to what we were, so that we appear exactly as we were known to you on earth; sometimes we project an image that you see, sometimes we cause it to be produced upon your brain; sometimes you see us as we are, with a cloud-like aura of light around us."
In addition, in the spirit world, likeness attracts, unlikeness repels, but much more strongly in the spirit world than on earth. This last description was spoken by Home multiple times.
Spirits also informed their listeners through Home that in their world, there is peace from the doubts, sorrows, and struggles as those experienced upon earth, and one of the greatest joys in the spirit world is the forgetfulness of the self and the companionship of spirits that are like one another. There is no sense of time, and spirits never grow tired, and they exist in eternity, progressing onward through an infinite state of being. Evil is expressed as darkness, and good is expressed as light. When souls are so different from one another, it is is difficult for them to communicate, much as it is (or was) difficult for people on the planet to communicate over great distances. It was also explained that there are several realms of light above and beyond those currently inhabited by the spirits, providing an ever onward expansion for spirits to continue to grow.
Home died shortly thereafter. After a life of constant struggle with sickness, endless correspondences and endless travel, Daniel Dunglas Home passed away on June 21st, 1886. By request, his funeral did not have any outward signs of mourning, and the priest attending the funeral wore white and gold instead of the usual black. His tombstone, which is a plain white marble cross, reads: "Daniel Dunglas Home. Born to the earth-life near Edinburgh (Scotland), March 20th, 1833--Born to spirit-life: 'To another discerning of the spirits' (1st Corinthians, 12th Chapter, 10th verse): June 21, 1886."
All of whom that had any sort of communication or experience with Home during a séance almost universally walked away from it deeply affected, even when his power was at its weakest. But the question remains unanswered: just what was it that gave him such a powerful connection to the spirit world? He did not claim to morally superior. Were they even really 'spirits of those who had passed' that he communicated with during the séances, or was it something else? Was he a trickster? A hoaxer? If so, how did he fool everyone his entire life? Even Houdini was unable to duplicate Home's feats of levitation.
Were the spirits tricking everyone? Was Home? More serious investigations into the claims of the paranormal are thus required. The Royal Society took it seriously—in private. The mainstream media laughed at it. Times may change, but it seems as if the treatment of the paranormal in public does not. For there to be hoaxers, frauds and counterfeits, there must also be a true coin—perhaps Home, a man mostly forgotten in history, was it.
Incidents In My Life