Mrs. Leonore E. Piper



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. Judge Frost – of Cambridge and a noted jurist – was at that circle meeting. 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 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, specifically 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 writing.

Then, in 1897, a new communicator and control came to the scene. They called him Imperator, a title given not to one guide, but to a group.

This reminds me so much of the early stages of the late Rev. Fulton’s mediumship, when the trance 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 seems to have 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 in walking through various aspects of his work and ministry with Spirit.

The Imperator was a 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 esoteric flair. Furthermore, the passing in and out of trance by Mrs. Piper seemed more easy and natural with the Imperator as the control.

This should speak volumes to the inquirer. It is amazing how different Spirit controls have 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 both 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 communicated through this woman.

Unlike many 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 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 Ayer Institute – often used this technique of holding an object which belonged to a Spirit contact. We do not feel this is necessary, as Spirit can make a direct impact upon the consciousness of the medium without any extraneous items on hand.

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 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 Spirit.

As always, in dealing with this issue, discretion and balance are key. 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 trance.”

Well spoken, indeed!