Oliver and Raymond Lodge

One of the more significant cases of mediumistic communication concerns the many messages received by Sir Oliver Lodge from his deceased son Raymond. An eminent physicist, Lodge pioneered in the development of radio technology, which actually was as much his brainchild as it was Marconi’s, although he did not pursue its commercial development to the same extent as his Italian colleague. Lodge (an SPR founder) was already satisfied with the evidence for survival which had been gathered by Myers and others before his son’s death during a mortar attack on September 14, 1915.

Actually, the story of Raymond’s “spirit communications” begins a few weeks before his death, on August 8, when a message allegedly came from the spirit of Myers through Mrs. Piper in America. Hodgson’s “spirit” claimed to be in control of the medium at the time he delivered a message for Lodge which he claims to have received from Myers. The enigmatic message stated:

Now Lodge, while we are not here as of old, i.e. not quite, we are here enough to take and give messages. Myers says you take the part of the poet and he will act as Faunus. Yes. Myers. Protect. He will understand. What have you to say, Lodge? Good work. Ask Verrall, she will also understand.

In order to interpret this message, Lodge wrote to Mrs. Verrall — a medium, psychic researcher, and wife of a deceased Cambridge classical scholar — asking her to interpret the message. She replied at once referring to Horace (Carm. II. xvii. 27- 30), saying the reference was to an account of the poet’s narrow escape from death, from a falling tree, Faunus, the guardian of poets, lightened the blow and saved him.

On September 25, Raymond’s mother, Mrs. Lodge, attended a sitting with a reputable medium, Mrs. Osborne Leonard. The visit was anonymous, and there was no intention of contacting Raymond; the purpose being, rather, to accompany a grieving friend whose two sons had also been killed in the war. In fact, it seemed as if the spirits of those sons did communicate through Mrs. Leonard. However on that occasion, a message also came through purporting to be from Raymond:

R: Tell father I have met some friends of his.
ML: Can you give any name?

R: Yes. Myers.

Two days later, Sir Oliver himself attended anonymously a sitting with Mrs. Leonard. The voice speaking through Mrs. Leonard was her childlike “spirit control,” Feda, who described Raymond’s condition, saying he was being taught by an old friend, M., and others. Feda also made an allusion to the Faunus message:
Feda sees something which is only symbolic; she sees a cross falling back on you; very dark, falling on you; dark and heavy looking; and as it falls it gets twisted round and the other side seems all light, and the light is shining all over you….The cross looked dark and then it suddenly twisted around and became a beautiful light….Your son is the cross of light.

This message seemed to be perceived symbolically as a thoughtform. One might complain the allusion was too vague to be evidential; although it cannot be denied it is remarkably consistent with the original Faunus message. In many respects this is typical of the complex series of over 3,000 cross-correspondence messages to develop between a number of mediums over the next several decades. Taken as a whole, they seem to weave a pattern indicative of a unifying intelligence.
That afternoon, after seeing Mrs. Leonard, Lady Lodge visited another medium, separately and strictly anonymously. The following is a transcript of Mrs. Lodge’s sitting, with Sir Oliver’s own annotations in brackets:

Was he not associated with chemistry? If ng$, someone associated with him was, because I see all the things in a chemical laboratory. That chemistry thing takes me away from him to a man in the flesh [0. J. L., presumably as my laboratory has been rather specially chemical of late]; and connected with him, a man, a writer of poetry, on our side, closely connected with spiritualism. He was very clever he too passed away out of England.

[This is clearly meant for Myers, who died in Rome.

He has communicated several times. This gentleman who wrote poetry — I see the letter M–he is helping your son to communicate. If your son didn’t know the man he knew of him.

Yes, he could hardly have known him, as he was only about twelve at the time of Myers’ death.

At the back of the gentleman beginning with M, and who wrote poetry, is a whole group of people. [The SPR group, doubtless.] They are very interested. And don’t be surprised if you get messages from them even if you don’t know them.

At this sitting the “spirit control” also made particular reference to a photograph of Raymond with a group of other men in which you could see his walking stick. This puzzled Lady Lodge as they knew of no such photograph. However several months later they received a letter from the mother of one of Raymond’s fellow officers with an offer to send a copy of a group photo which she had.

Two days later, Sir Oliver also had a sitting, anonymously, with the same medium and received material from the “spirit control”:

Your common-sense method of approaching the subject in the family has been the means of helping him to come back as he has been able to do; and had he not known what you had told him, then it would have been far more difficult for him to come back. He is very deliberate in what he says. He is a young man that knows what he is saying. Do you know F W M?
O. J. L. — Yes I do.

Because I see those three letters. Now, after them, do you know S T; yes, I get S T, then a dot, and then P? These are shown to me; I see them in light; your boy has shown these things to me.

O. J. L. — Yes, I understand. [Meaning that I recognized the allusion to F. W. H. Myers poem St. Paul.]

Well he says to me: “He has helped me so much more than you think. That is F W M.”

O. J. L. — Bless him!

No, your boy laughs, he has got an ulterior motive for it; don’t think it was only for charity’s sake, he has got an ulterior motive, and thinks that you will be able by the strength of your personality to do what you want to do now, to ride over the quibbles of the fools, and to make the Society, the Society, he says, of some use to the world.

About five weeks later, Lodge again sat with Mrs. Leonard, who by this time grasped his identity. He asked Raymond, through the control Feda, to describe further the group photograph, which had not yet arrived. Further details were given in terms of the position Raymond took relative to the man behind him who was leaning on his shoulder. These details were confirmed when the picture finally arrived.

Communications from Raymond, filled with evidential material, continued for many years through Mrs. Leonard and also through other mediums. Lodge’s entire family participated in these sittings and all became convinced of the reality of Raymond’s departed spirit. On one occasion sittings were held simultaneously at two different locations and Raymond successfully managed to convey information from one group to the other. The complete account of these many sittings is recorded in Lodge’s book Raymond, published in 1916, which was written to further the cause of spiritualism.

Raymond clearly conveys the excitement which Lodge and his family felt at the time. However Raymond himself never actually seems to control a medium. He either speaks through a “spirit control” or through automatic writing or table-rapping. There was a consistency to his personality, but not with the vividness of the Hodgson or the Pellew controls experienced through Mrs. Piper.

Mrs. Leonard’s integrity has never been called into question. For over forty years her mediumship was the subject of exhaustive study by members of the SPR. Throughout this time, Feda was her only “control,” although with a few sitters she would sometimes allow other spirits to speak directly through the medium. In these cases, the characterizations were brilliant and seemed to go much beyond mere reproduction of mannerisms. For years, one occasional communicator, a person Mrs. Leonard had never met in life, gave message after message to former loved ones without ever speaking out of character or using inappropriate emotional inferences. If one refuses to accept the survival hypothesis to explain such cases, one must at least acknowledge extraordinary ESP capabilities on the part of the medium.

The super-telepathy theory is strained somewhat in dealing with the phenomena of cross-correspondences. The Faunus message which was received by Sir Oliver Lodge and then alluded to by another psychic is a minor example. The idea is creating a kind of jig-saw puzzle in the messages coming through different mediums. Any individual piece, when taken alone, seems to have no meaning. But when the separate pieces are put together, they form a coherent whole, and provide evidence for a constructive mind behind the entire design.

The major messages seem to have been directed by the spirit of F. W. H. Myers who died in 1901. Records show that the notion never occurred to him while he was alive. Other deceased members of the SPR also seem to have originated cross-correspondence messages. The mediums received these messages about the same time in places as distant from each other as London, New York, and India. Often the messages were filled with Greek and Latin allusions which were beyond the understanding of the different mediums. In fact, the messages seemed to contain the type of humor, style, and scholarship which was characteristic of the deceased researchers. The messages were often so complex that the puzzles could only be understood by classical language scholars.