Mrs. Leonore E.
Leonore E. Piper -- some record her name as
Leonora E. Piper -- of Boston, is considered the foremost trance medium in
the history of psychical research, absolutely above reproach of any kind.
When eight years old and
playing in the garden, young Leonore
"suddenly she felt a sharp blow on her right ear, accompanied by a
prolonged sound. This gradually resolved itself into the letter
"S" which was then followed by the words 'Aunt Sara, not dead, but
with you still.' The child was terrified. Her mother made note of the date
and time of this occurrence. Several days later, it was found that Aunt
Sara had, indeed, died at that very hour on that very day." This
marked the beginning of Mrs. Piper's mediumship.
Her mother understood that it
would be better to allow young Leonore to have a
"normal" childhood; thus, any occurrences with the paranormal
were kept pretty much to themselves. At the age of 22, Leonore
married William Piper of Boston, her lifelong companion and friend. Soon
after this, she consulted Dr. J. R. Cocke, a
blind clairvoyant who had attracted quite a bit of attention by his uncanny
medical diagnoses and cures.
At that meeting, Leonore fell into a short trance, apparently of little
significance. Later, she attended one of Dr. Cocke's
circles for development. When Dr. Cocke placed
his hands on her head, she saw in front of her "a flood of light in
which many strange faces appeared."
While in trance, Leonore rose from her chair, walked to a table in the
center of the room, picked up a pencil and paper, wrote rapidly for a few
minutes, and, handing the written paper to a member of the circle, she
returned to her seat. That particular circle member was Judge Frost, of
Cambridge, a noted jurist. The message, the most remarkable he had ever
received, came form his departed son.
It did not take long for news
of this event to spread throughout the Boston area; and, in a short period
of time, Mrs. Piper was besieged by requests for sittings.
In the early stages of her
mediumship, a French doctor named Phinuit,
was the exclusive control. Apparently, he had worked with Dr. Cocke, but, now, shifted, if you will, to Mrs. Piper.
Before Phinuit became the primary
control of the mediumship, others communicated through Mrs. Piper; in
particular, a young Native American girl named Chlorine. But it was Phinuit who, more or less, commanded the
mediumship between the years 1884 to 1892.
Shortly thereafter, George
Pelham, who had been a friend of the renowned researcher Dr. Hodgson
and who had died in an accident, appeared and worked with Mrs. Piper,
through automatic writing.
It is interesting to note that
both controls, Phinuit and George
Pelham, often worked together; Phinuit
speaking in trance, and George Pelham communicating in automatic
Then, in 1897, a new
communicator and control came to the scene. They called him the Imperator;
it was a title given not to one guide, but to a group.
This reminds me so much of the
early stages of Rev. Fulton's mediumship, when the communications were
under the control of a group -- speaking as one communicator -- who called
themselves by one name: Elexius.
Once the Imperator came
into the picture, Phinuit, more or
less, disappeared and George Pelham communicated only on rare
occasion. This often happens in a medium's work. Certain stages or phases
of the work are with one Spirit control, while others fall under the
control of other Spirit helpers. I have seen this in Rev. Fulton's
mediumship. Over the past 25 years, various controls have come and gone,
obviously to assist the medium walk through various aspects of his work and
ministry with Spirit.
The Imperator was an
apparently stronger control, in that he was more able to discipline and
focus the communications through Mrs. Piper. Whereas, under Phinuit's control, other spirits often
interrupted the flow of communication, the Imperator would not have
any of that. Under the Imperator's control, the communications were
far more direct and effective. They also assumed a more spiritual and
religious flair. Furthermore, the passing in and out of trance by Mrs.
Piper seemed more easy and natural with the Imperator as the
This should speak volumes to
the inquirer. It is amazing how different Spirit controls have very
different impacts on the communications, as well as on how those
communications come about through the medium.
What is, also, interesting to
note is that, once this group of controls began working with Mrs. Piper's
mediumship, she, herself, became a most amazing spiritual advisor. Her
daughter, Alta Piper, notes in 1929:
"It is almost as if
the cloak of Rector (one of the group) has fallen upon Mrs. Piper herself,
and the good that she has been able to do along these lines, during the
past nine or ten years, is most unbelievable."
Some of the most amazing
communications and evidence of Spirit survival were given through Mrs.
Piper's mediumship. She was hard working, honest,
and a woman of genuine integrity, dignity, and professionalism. She was
investigated in the United States and England by the greatest minds in
psychical research. Never -- except once -- has her work been under any
cloak of suspicion. Many of her researchers were antagonistic to the idea
of Spirit contact and communication and, quite frankly, wanted to see her
mediumship exposed as nothing more than subtle telepathic interaction. But,
they were all stymied by the volumes of evidence presented. The truth spoke
for itself and it spoke clearly: Spirit was able to communicate through
Unlike many of the mediums of
her day, Mrs. Piper did not exhibit physical phenomena, except for one odd
manifestation: she was able to withdraw the scent from flowers and make them
wither in a very short period of time. In order to establish rapport with
her Spirit contacts, she often utilized psychometry, requesting to hold an
object which had been about the person of the departed. The late Douglas
Johnson -- protégé of Eileen J. Garrett and frequent visitor to the First
Spiritual Temple -- an amazing medium, himself, used this technique.
As noted above, Mrs. Piper was
subject only once to the shadow of doubt. On October 20, 1901, the New
York Herald published a statement of Mrs. Piper, advertised as a
confession, in which she was quoted to say that she intended to give up the
work she had been doing for the Society for Psychical Research. She was
quoted as saying:
"The theory of telepathy
strongly appeals to me as the most plausible and genuinely scientific
solution . . . I do not believe that spirits of the dead have spoken
through me when I have been in the trance state . . . It may be that they
have, but I do not affirm it."
Mrs. Piper was infuriated that
the facts of her comments had been so badly twisted and proclaimed as a
confession. On October 25, 1901, she stated in The Boston Advertiser:
"I did not make any
such statement as that published in the New York Herald to the effect
that spirits of the departed do not control me . . . My opinion is today as
it was eighteen years ago. Spirits of the departed may have controlled and
they may have not. I confess that I do not know. I have not changed."
When you consider this statement,
it is very much in line with the views and feelings of so many of this
century's most amazing mediums: Eileen Garret; Edgar Cayce; Douglas
Johnson; Gladys Osborne Leonard; Alice Bailey, to name but a few. One would
think that these incredible channels for Spirit would be the last people to
question from whence came the information communicated through them. Yet,
this very fact is what makes these mediums so astounding.
Furthermore, it is this very
question which has always stood at the center of the debate: is the
information which comes through a medium genuine spirit contact, or is it
telepathic interaction with the sitter? Proponents for both sides of the
debate have been guilty in their proclamations. Parapsychologists have
attributed these communications to just about anything other than spirit
contact, and Spiritualists have been naive and gullible in accepting
absolutely everything which comes from a medium's mouth as originating from
As always, in dealing with
this issue, discretion and balance are key. This is why the pioneer mediums
of the 1880's through the 1940's have given us so much food for thought.
Their approach to mediumship, especially their own mediumship, has been
balanced, levelheaded, far more scientific than that of psychic
researchers, and far more spiritual than that of Spiritualists. Thus, we
must maintain the memory of their work and sacrifice before us.
Nandor Fodor, in his Encyclopedia
of Psychic Science, states of Mrs. Piper:
"Mrs. Piper's work
cannot be sufficiently appreciated. For several decades her powers were
tested to a degree which no other medium had approximated. Psychical
research owes a debt to her which cannot be discharged."
Pioneer researcher, Harry
Price, in his Fifty Years of Psychical Research, says of Mrs. Piper:
"Probably the greatest
mental medium of whom we have any record is Mrs. Leonore
E. Piper, of Boston, Massachusetts . . . Mrs. Piper's successes were due to
the intimate and personal nature of her communications, when in
Well spoken, indeed!
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