87 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Michael E. Tymn
- Published on Amazon.com
As the prior reviewer suggests, this book will exceed the boggle threshold of nearly everyone. Had I read it 10-15 years ago, before reading the works of Sir William Crookes, Dr. Charles Richet, Dr. Hamlin Garland, Dr. Harry Price, and other reputable researchers who closely observed similar phenomena, I would not have believed it and probably would not have finished the book. But unless one is stuck in the muck and mire of scientism and immediately jumps to the conclusion that all those respected scientists of yesteryear were duped time and time again under strict scientific conditions, there is no reason to assume that the author is trying to put one over on us or that his mother, the medium, was making a fool of him and her friends for many years.
While the author is not known as a scientist, he comes across as a very sincere, intelligent, and credible observer and reporter. After serving as an officer in the British Army during WWII, he began sitting with a circle of friends at seances in which his mother, Minnie Harrison, was the medium. He kept detailed notes of the sittings from 1946 to 1955, and this book is the result. Apparently, it wasn't until a few years ago that he was persuaded to make a book out of the notes and his memories. The Foreword of the book is written by Dr. David Fontana, a highly-respected psychical researcher in Great Britain. Professor Fontana states that he has had many long conversations with Harrison and that his memory of everything that happened is undimmed. Fontana has no doubt as to the sincerity and integrity of the author. There are other testimonials by people still alive who observed some of the phenomena. One of the regular sitters was a senior surgeon in nearby hospital, who ran some tests of the ectoplasm emanating from the medium.
The phenomena included many full materializations of spirits -- spirits who walked around the room, talked with the sitters, laughed with them, shook hands with them, kissed them, had them tug on their beards, and sometimes evaporated before their eyes. There were also many apports -- objects materialized in the room by the spirits. There were spirit voices through the trumpet (direct voice), spirit writing, and spirit lights. There are a number of photos of the materializations and apports in the book.
The skeptic will ask why we don't hear of such mediumship today. Actually, the late Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross tells of witnessing a full materialization about 20-25 years ago in one of her books, but we rarely hear of this phenomenon now. There are apparently several reasons for it, including the fact that such mediumship requires time and patience. Before television, people didn't have that much to do at night, so they sat around, sang, and waited for spirits to communicate or materialize. Harrison indicates that there were many long waits and some of the more impressive phenomena didn't come about until the second or third years of their Saturday night sittings. How many people today have that kind of patience? There are other reasons advanced for the lack of such phenomena today, but this is not the place to go into them.
Although I have never seen a materialization, I simply cannot believe that distinguished researchers like Crookes, Richet, Garland, Price, and many others were duped over and over again by some little old ladies trying to pull off magic acts. Moreover, I cannot see any possible reason why Minnie Harrison would have wanted to dupe her son and friends month after month for some nine years. As Tom Harrison reports, his mother was unconscious or in a trance as the phenomena developed and had to be told later what took place.
If you are in the least bit spiritually challenged, you simply won't believe Harrison's accounts of the amazing phenomena and there is no point wasting your money on this book. If, however, you are completely openminded and are familiar with the research done by Crookes, et al, this book has much to offer. Harrison's reports provide answers for many things that Crookes and the others didn't cover. This is a fascinating read.