And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.
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Some think this Everest of a novel the greatest ever written. On the surface, it tells a tale of family feuding and parricide, but underneath, it is really a philosophical quest for a spiritual future for humanity and for Russia. Dostoevsky has divided himself into three characters: Dmitry, the passionate and sensual man; Ivan, the brilliant but skeptical intellectual; and Alyosha, the youngest brother, a follower of a Russian holy man. Dostoevsky knows that a novel is only as strong as its villain, so he gives many of the strongest lines to Ivan, who seeks to discredit God on the grounds that even if things work out all right in the future, he cannot forgive God for the suffering of children in the present. The brothers' arguments are really the dialogues of a soul with itself; we can see that the author is risking everything and is not sure where this will all lead. Dostoevsky is arguing with the most powerful of his own doubts, so we find it incredibly moving when, at the end, this author drawn to darkness and violence turns his back on European materialism and cynicism and passionately embraces a spiritual view of life.
“The imagery was designed to reflect important aspects of the real world that the players lived in, and the prominent Christian symbolism in the cards is an obvious reflection of the Christian world in which they lived,” he adds. As divinatory usage became more popular, illustrations evolved to reflect a specific designer’s intention. “The subjects took on more and more esoteric meaning,” says Wolf, “but they generally maintained the traditional tarot structure of four suits of pip cards [similar to the numbered cards in a normal playing-card deck], corresponding court cards, and the additional trump cards, with a Fool.”
No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino–individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well–that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.
The psychologist and psychical researcher Stanley LeFevre Krebs had exposed the Bangs Sisters as frauds. During a séance he employed a hidden mirror and caught them tampering with a letter in an envelope and writing a reply in it under the table which they would pretend a spirit had written. The British materialization medium Rosina Mary Showers was caught in many fraudulent séances throughout her career. In 1874 during a séance with Edward William Cox a sitter looked into the cabinet and seized the spirit, the headdress fell off and was revealed to be Showers.
Just because spirits can come to me doesn’t mean they are in control — I am. I wasn’t so disciplined at the beginning, but then I was more inexperienced and possibly a little naïve. As an example, I do remember one time when I was at a party where no one knew me. I was mingling with the guests when a young man walked in and pushed past me to get a drink.
The fifth, and final, thing you should know before going to a psychic medium demonstration or private reading is a piece of advice my friend John says best before every one of his demonstrations, “Don’t Feed The Medium!” If the psychic medium tells you that your Uncle Charlie is present. Don’t blurt out, “Oh, my goodness, my Uncle Charlie was a police officer who lost his leg in the war and died two years ago in a car accident!” Let the psychic medium tell you these things. If you offer that information yourself, then you miss out on the excitement and validation you could gain if the psychic medium was about to tell you those details.
Mediums obtain messages from the spirit world in different ways. Some receive intuitive information, in which images and words appear as mental impressions that are then relayed along to the living. In other cases, a medium may hear actual auditory messages or see actual images of these messages. Many people who do spirit communication regularly find that the dead can be quite a chatty bunch sometimes. If they've got something to tell you, they're going to make sure you get told. What you choose to do with the information is up to you, but a lot of mediums, it can feel like they've got someone's dead granny screaming in their ears, and if they don't pass that message along to you, she's not going to shut up.
The British medium William Roy earned over £50,000 from his séance sitters. He confessed to fraud in 1958 revealing the microphone and trick-apparatus that he had used. The automatic writings of the Irish medium Geraldine Cummins were analyzed by psychical researchers in the 1960s and they revealed that she worked as a cataloguer at the National Library of Ireland and took information from various books that would appear in her automatic writings about ancient history.
Colin Fry was exposed in 1992 when during a séance the lights were unexpectedly turned on and he was seen holding a spirit trumpet in the air, which the audience had been led to believe was being levitated by spiritual energy. In 1997, Massimo Polidoro and Luigi Garlaschelli produced wax-moulds directly from one's hand which were exactly the same copies as Gustav Geley obtained from Franek Kluski, which are kept at the Institute Metapsychique International.
Some scientists of the period who investigated spiritualism also became converts. They included chemist Robert Hare, physicist William Crookes (1832–1919) and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Nobel laureate Pierre Curie took a very serious scientific interest in the work of medium Eusapia Palladino. Other prominent adherents included journalist and pacifist William T. Stead (1849–1912) and physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930).