Sir Oliver Lodge
Sir Oliver Lodge was a world-renowned physicist and a fearless champion of survival. One could not call him a proponent of the Spiritualist movement, but he was an avid believer in Spiritualist concepts.
Sir Oliver sought to bring together the transcendental world with the physical universe. He affirmed, with great conviction, that Life is the supreme, enduring Essence in the universe; that it fills the vast interstellar spaces; and the matter of which the physical world is composed is a particular condensation of ether for the purpose of manifesting life into a conscious, individual form.
Sir Oliver’s first experiences in psychical research dates back to 1883 and 1884, when he was invited by Mr. Malcolm Guthrie to join his investigations in thought transference in Liverpool, England.
His most notable observations in physical mediumship were made with the famous Italian medium, Eusapia Paladino. He attended four sittings with Eusapia and reported his findings in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, November, 1884. He accepted the reality of the phenomena observed through the medium, and he wrote the following concerning his observations:
“However the facts are to be explained, there is no further room in my mind for doubt. Any person without invincible prejudice who had had the same experience would come to the same broad conclusion, viz., that things hitherto held impossible do actually occur.
“If one such fact is clearly established, the conceivability of others may be more readily granted, and I concentrated my attention mainly on what seemed to me the most simple and definite thing, viz., the movement of an untouched object in sufficient light for no doubt of its motion to exist.
“This I have now witnessed several times; the fact of movement being vouched for by both sight and hearing, sometimes also by touch, and the objectivity of the movement being demonstrated by the sounds heard by an outside observer, and by permanent alteration in the position of the objects.
“The result of my experience is to convince me that certain phenomena usually considered abnormal do belong to the order of nature, and as a corollary from this, that these phenomena ought to be investigated and recorded by persons and societies interested in natural knowledge.”
When Eusapia Paladino was allegedly exposed – I say “allegedly” because I do not think all the facts were taken into consideration – Sir Oliver stood by his convictions of her mediumship, stating that he failed to see any resemblance between the Cambridge phenomena (the ones he witnessed) and the phenomena observed in France.
In the field of mental mediumship, his greatest source of revelation and enlightenment was Boston’s famous medium, Mrs. Lenore Piper. His first investigations with Mrs. Piper took place in 1889, when the medium was tested in England by the Society for Psychical Research. He received many evidential messages from loved ones, in Spirit, which soon convinced him that the “dead” still live. His findings were published in 1890.
Nineteen years later, when close friends and associates – Frederick Myers and Edmund Gurney – communicated through Mrs. Piper, he made the following comments in his book, Survival of Man:
“The old series of sittings with Mrs. Piper convinced me of survival for reasons which I should find it hard to formulate . . . They also made me suspect – or more than suspect – that surviving intelligences were in some cases consciously communicating; though, more usually, the messages came, in all probability, from an unconscious stratum, being received by the medium in an inspirational manner analogous to psychometry.
“The hypothesis of surviving intelligence and personality – not only surviving but anxious and able to with difficulty to communicate – is the simplest and most straightforward and the only one that fits all the facts.”
Admittedly, this is a rather roundabout way of accepting the phenomenon of mediumship, but, nonetheless, accept it he does.
In September, 1913, speaking from the Presidential Chair to the British Association, he declared, “Memory and affection are not limited to that associated with matter by which alone they can manifest themselves, here and now, and that personality does persist beyond bodily death.”
Perhaps the most convincing and challenging communications were those which came from his son, Raymond.
On September 17, 1915, the War Office notified Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge that their son Raymond, (seen below) had been killed in action on September 14, 1915. On September 25, 1915, Lady Lodge had a sitting with the renowned medium, Gladys Osborne Leonard. Raymond communicated and sent this message: “Tell Father I have met some friends of his.” On asking their names, Frederick Myers was mentioned.
Two days later, another medium, Alfred Vout Peters, spoke about a photograph of a group of officers with Raymond among them. Various messages came from different mediums. On November 25, 1915, Mrs. Cheves, a complete stranger to the family, wrote a letter saying that she had a photograph of the officers of the South Lancashire Regiment of which Raymond was second lieutenant and offered to send it to the Lodges. They graciously accepted the offer.
On December 3, 1915, Raymond communicated through Mrs. Leonard’s mediumship and gave a complete description of this photograph. He described himself as sitting on the ground, with a fellow officer placing his hand on Raymond’s shoulder. On December 7, 1915, the photograph arrived and corresponded with the description, given four days earlier, in every detail.
Many other messages came forward from Raymond, all of which were evidential to Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge. Although Sir Oliver had ample evidence of Spirit survival from the past, the series of communications from Raymond was, perhaps, the most meaningful to him; likely because of his personal involvement and sense of loss and bereavement. He was, unfortunately, criticized for his books on Raymond. Researchers felt he was too personally involved to be objective in his observations and assessments.
When Sir Oliver was asked to speak before the Modern Churchmen’s Conference, in September, 1931, at Oxford, he declared:
“If I find myself an opportunity of communicating, I shall try to establish my identity by detailing a perfectly preposterous and absurdly childish peculiarity which I have already taken the trouble to record with some care in a sealed document deposited in the custody of the English S.P.R. I hope to remember the details of this document and relate them in no unmistakable fashion.
“The value of the communication will not consist in the substance of what is communicated, but in the fact that I have never mentioned it to a living soul, and no one has any idea what it contains. People of sense will not take its absurd triviality as anything but helpful in contributing to the proof of the survival of personal identity.”
It is people such as Sir Oliver Lodge who, over the years, have given great credibility to a field of study and experience which has, unfortunately, been plagued by shams and charlatans. To him, we are eternally grateful. Some books (all of which we have in the Ayer Library) written by Sir Oliver Lodge include:
Man and the Universe, 1908; Survival of Man, 1909; Reason and Belief, 1910; Life and Matter, 1912; Modern Problems, 1912; Science and Religion, 1914; The War and After, 1915; Raymond, or Life and Death, 1916; Christopher, 1918; Raymond Revised, 1922; The Making of Man, 1924; Ether and Reality, 1925; Relativity, 1926; Evolution and Creation, 1926; Science and Human Progress, 1927; Modern Scientific Ideas, 1927; Why I Believe in Personal Immortality, 1928; Phantom Walls, 1929; Beyond Physics, 1930; The Reality of a Spiritual World, 1930; Conviction of Survival, 1930; Past Years, 1932; and My Philosophy, 1933.
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