Elizabeth d Esperance, Elizabeth Hope,
Medium Elizabeth d Esperance
Medium Elizabeth Hope
Click here to return
Elizabeth d Esperance medium
The mediumship of Elizabeth Hope, who worked under the pseudonym of Madame d Esperance, or Madame Elizabeth d Esperance is not only an example of the quality evidence available through physical mediumship, but also, the problems that occurred in respect of female mediums in Victorian England. Spending her early childhood in London, she claimed to see 'shadow people' that no one else could see, and consequently, she was viewed as mentally ill. Her problems were made worse by having an absent father and a mother who scolded her for the stories that she told about those whom she saw. After consulting a physician and being told of similar people who had been imprisoned in asylums, Elizabeth related how: 'I shivered with fear, and prayed almost frantically that I might be kept from going mad'.(1)
Despite her apprehension, she joined a circle in the
early 1870s, and attempted table-tipping and, 'there seemed to be a tremendous
vibrating movement in the wood of the table-top...which gradually spread itself
to all parts of it'. When the others removed their hold of the table, 'still it
moved'. Elizabeth then experimented with this activity and discovered that a
basic communication could take place with the unseen table-mover. Following
this, she was able to also demonstrate an ability in clairvoyance. Having had
her interest motivated, she began to read about the subject that she found 'all
At this point, she believed it appropriate to mention the 'shadow people' to her friends; receiving understanding and co-operation, she began to feel less anxious. The next stage in Elizabeth's development were the attempts at obtaining automatic writing; this again was successful and she recalled that: 'These unseen correspondents of ours soon became familiar to us'. One was a Walter Tracy, an American who had been at Yale, involved in the American Civil War, and drowned when aged only twenty-two. Elizabeth noted how he: 'very soon made himself a favourite with our circle; he seemed to bring with him a veritable atmosphere of fun, good humour and liveliness'. It is interesting to note how years later, Elizabeth met a man who had been at Yale, and the details that he gave about life in Walter's time, e.g. places, customs, etc, 'were identical with Walter's'.(3) Walter was joined by Humnur Stafford, a philosopher, and Ninia, a young girl, as Elizabeth's controls.
Further progress was made when Elizabeth was able to
draw refined pictures of communicators in the darkness; one of which was
completed in about thirty seconds. When others heard of her ability, she found
herself besieged by requests to witness her mediumship. In time, she travelled
to other countries, e.g. France, Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Germany, due to the
demand for her mediumship.
Continuing the attempt to develop, on first trying to produce materializations, she said that she sensed how, 'the air around me seemed agitated as though a bird was fluttering about'. Nonetheless, she felt a hand upon her that she recorded as having 'the effect of soothing my fear and excitement'.(4) The first materialized form was partial and both Elizabeth and the sitters, saw a man's face smiling at them in the light of the gas lamp; Elizabeth suddenly realized that it was Walter. After this experience, more people were selected to join the circle and witness the events that took place; in the day, they were conducted with some light allowed through the upper window, and in the evening, there was light from gas jets. These seances, with guests, were successful, and Elizabeth recorded how the cost of the seance room, etc, was met through a fund contributed to by the members, with any surplus being given to the poor and sick, about whom she felt very distressed.
There was clear progress in the production of materializations; Walter, a frequent visitor, 'seemed to make himself rapidly familiar with all the company'. At the conclusion of this particular series of seances, one next-visitor who began to make an appearance was Yolande, a young Arab girl, and Elizabeth pointed out that she, 'soon became, as it were, the leading feature of our seances'. Elizabeth also related how on one occasion, Yolande 'gradually dissolved into mist under the scrutiny of twenty pairs of eyes, [her] shawl was left lying on the floor...the shawl would itself gradually vanish in the same manner as its wearer'. During these occasions, Elizabeth did not fall into the usual trance-state and also became aware of the link between herself and the materialized person, and stated: 'There seemed to exist a strange link between us...I seemed to lose, not my individuality, but my strength and power of exertion, and though I did not then know it, a great portion of my material substance'.(5)
Elizabeth's mediumship also fulfilled the purpose of
Spiritualism, i.e. to reunite the bereaved with those who had died, and
demonstrate their continuing existence. She recorded how on one occasion, a
young sailor materialized and 'I heard cries and exclamations of joy'. The boy
had walked towards one of the sitters and 'flung his arms around her'. The
sitter told the circle: 'It is my son...my only child, whom I never thought to
meet again. He is not altered...He is just my boy'. Another instance cited was
when a Mrs Bitcliffe came to one of Elizabeth's seances, shortly after her
husband had died; the seance was almost at an end when her husband materialized.
A statement was drawn up by one of the sitters, and signed by others present,
saying 'Not only did I recognise him, but his wife, my wife, and another lady
present, all knew him immediately he appeared'. Additionally, there were two
more sitters who acknowledged him. At a later seance, Mrs Bitcliffe brought her
two young daughters, and their father materialized for them. The girls embraced
him and and asked questions, e.g. from where had he obtained his 'white
clothes'? Elizabeth also narrated how a woman materialized only days after her
funeral and 'was instantly recognised by several' who had known her.(6)
Requests to attend her seances continued to be made by various persons. One was William Oxley, and in the seance that he attended on 4 August 1880, a magnificent plant of nearly two feet in height was brought to him; it was later found to be an Ixora Crocata, native to India. The production of magnificent flowers into the seance room was a common occurrence. The greatest accomplishment in this respect was on 28 June 1890, when Yolande apported a seven foot high Golden Lily. She explained that she had only borrowed it, and it had to be returned; not having the power to dematerialize the plant, it was kept in the property in the meantime, but 'then vanished in an instant, filling the room with an overpowering perfume'.(7)
During the tests conducted by Oxley, he decided to place
plaster casts on the wrists and legs of the materialized figure of Yolande: this
would demonstrate that Yolande was indeed a genuine materialization as she would
have to dematerialize to exit from the casts. This was, as Inglis noted, 'a test
which "Yolande" passed'.(8)
Oxley wrote a number of books concerning materializations and these included his
observations regarding those produced by Elizabeth.
One of the more curious features of Elizabeth's mediumship were the occurrences when she was found to be missing at the time of a materialization: the immediate response was naturally that the medium was a fraud, but the situation appeared to have been far more complex than this. This was demonstrated when, during one seance, Yolande was seized by a sitter who asserted the figure was the medium herself. But matters were not quite as simple as that, i.e., Yolande's clothing could not be found; moreover, as Inglis remarked, 'nobody who knew her could conceive of her being involve in a deliberate fraud'.(9)
In fact, others had remarked on how a medium would
vanish from sight during materializations: for example, in
p.197), Stainton Moses detailed how, in one seance, materialized forms joined
the circle and were recognized by the sitters, being followed by the male form
of the one of the medium's controls, and yet the medium could not be seen.
Curnow refers to similar occasions, e.g. when Colonel Olcott secured Mrs
Compton, the medium, to prevent movement; when materialized forms appeared,
Olcott found no trace of the medium. The situation became even more bewildering
when he weighed a materialized girl and on request, she even made herself
considerably lighter. Following this, Mrs Compton was weighed and found to be
nearly twice the weight of the materialized being.(10)
The question of the relationship between the medium and those who materialize is
obviously an important one that remains unexplored, and it is regrettable that
despite so much 'investigation' of physical mediums for so many years, so much
Despite the problem that arose from the occasions when she was no longer visible during materializations, Elizabeth was able to demonstrate her separateness from the next-world visitors; in 1893, Nepenthes, a Egyptian, materialized and joined the circle, and both she and the medium were seen at the same time. Another feature noticed was that of partial-dematerialization by Elizabeth. One researcher, Aksakov, believed there was a distinct link of association between the appearance of the materialization and the medium. He investigated the matter, the results of which were detailed in his A Case of Partial Dematerialization; subsequently, he 'had an experience which strongly suggested that, in some cases at least, the body of the medium is entirely absorbed for the production of apparitions outside the cabinet'.(11) Elizabeth's psychic abilities were not limited to mediumship; she described an occasion when she became separated from her physical body, and of this state, i.e., the same that communicators enjoy, said: 'How wonderfully light and strong I felt! For the first time I knew what it means to live...'.(12)
Elizabeth was acutely aware of the duality of her role
as a medium and the unresolved conflict brought her to despair at certain times;
eventually, she developed ideas not in mainstream Spiritualist thinking at the
time. Her book Shadow Land
reveals her melancholic nature, and the distress with which she so often found
herself confronted. In addition to her own problems, she also highlighted the
outrages to which young female mediums in Victorian England were subjected,
invariably by middle-aged, middle-class male academics, saying: 'My blood boils
within me when I hear of sensitive mediums...being subjected to the indignities
and insults of these "investigators"'.(13)
Owen notes how Elizabeth 'spoke, too, of spy holes and surprise strippings; in
addition to the usual ropes, bolts, and screws, as "the investigator of this
class" sought to catch out the unsuspecting medium'.(14)
Boddington commented on how Elizabeth, 'placed herself without fee or reward at the disposal of scientific investigators'; furthermore, how unacceptable behaviour by sitters 'resulted in a broken blood vessel and an illness of a month's duration. At other times, prostration and nervous weakness followed'.(15) Fodor also refers to the occasion when after an incident involving a sitter, Elizabeth fell into ill health for two years and her hair turned grey.(16)
Although Elizabeth had worked with some light present, she decided not to sit in a cabinet so that she could see, as well as hear, what occurred during the seance; she described this as being 'rather uphill work', but was successful. She narrated one incident that she witnessed when a young boy was reunited with his parents, brother and sister. Going to his mother, the materialized child 'stroked her face with his tiny hands and drew himself back to...beside his brother and sister'.(17) Elizabeth continued to demonstrate her mediumship, going as far as allowing the materializations to be photographed in March 1890, the report and photographs being included in Mediums and Daybreak (March 28 and April 18, 1890).
Further progress was made when it was discovered that in photographic practice sessions, faces were seen behind Elizabeth, just as the photograph was to be taken, and these duly appeared on the plates when developed. A number are included in Shadow Land; after this book, Elizabeth wrote Northern Lights. Unfortunately, at the outbreak of war in 1914, she was in Germany and was no longer able to travel; moreover, her notes and records for further writings were confiscated and not returned.
The life of Mme. d'Esperance is an adequate example of
some of the problems faced by gifted mediums, particularly female mediums, in
Victorian Britain. It was through their trials and tribulations that modern
Spiritualism came into being; the price that they paid was considerable, and
surely one that twentieth century Spiritualism should never forget.
(1)E. d'Esperance, Shadow Land (or: Light from the Other Side) (London: Redway, 1897), p.31.
(2)d'Esperance, Ibid., pp.88,89,127.
(3)d'Esperance, Ibid., pp.133,134.
(4)d'Esperance, Ibid., pp.226,227.
(5)d'Esperance, Ibid., pp.245,248,253,271.
(6)d'Esperance, Ibid., pp.275,276,278,280,282.
(7)N. Fodor, Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science (London: Arthurs Press, 1933), p.84.
(8)B. Inglis, Natural and Supernatural (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977), p.385.
(9)Inglis, Ibid., pp.385-386.
(10)W. L. Curnow, The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism (Manchester: Two Worlds Publishing, 1925), p.102.
(11)Fodor, Op. Cit., p.85.
(12)Cit., S. Muldoon and H. Carrington, The Phenomena of Astral Projection (London: Rider and Co, 1951), p.81 (This relates the full account).
(13)d'Esperance, Op. Cit., pp.403-404.
(14)A. Owen, The Darkened Room (London: Virago, 1989), p.231.
(15)H. Boddington, The University of Spiritualism (London: Spiritualist Press, 1947), p.443.
(16)Fodor, Op. Cit, p.85.
(17)d'Esperance, Op. Cit., p.343.
From Shadowland or Light From the Other Side - Elisabeth d'Esperance
INVESTIGATORS I HAVE KNOWN
IN GLANCING over the work of experiment and investigation of the past quarter of a century, I can see into what errors one has unconsciously fallen; errors of judgment in a great measure, but for the most part errors caused by a blameworthy ignorance of the simplest natural laws.
The fact that if we could produce a certain result we must supply materials possessing the necessary qualifications, has been too much overlooked, or perhaps we have taken it too much for granted that those who professed an interest in the subject were able to supply them. It is only after severe lessons, learned by dint of much suffering, that the knowledge has been forced on us. It would be as useless to supply a brickmaker with sand and water expecting him to make bricks, that would stand the test of wear, as to form a circle from the majority of so-called enquirers and expect the spirits to produce manifestations that are beyond all doubt. Like the brickmaker they do what they can with the materials at their disposal, and if the results are of questionable quality it is not their fault, but that of the persons who supplied the material.
Most persons turning, their attention to studies of this nature, have presumably a comfortable conviction that they are specially fitted for understanding and solving the problems pertaining to them, and they conduct their investigation in various fashions. As a rule their manner of investigation gives the clue to the nature of the material they place at the disposal of the unseen workers.
I have come in contact with several classes of investigators, working with a view to establishing some pet 'theory or other of their own. Those phenomena which would give color to, or fall in with, their preconceived theories, are eagerly seized upon to the disregard of all others that have no such bearing, or are contradictory to their ideas. These investigators are generally satisfied with theory, their imagination supplying all the rest. Hence the origin of Spooks", "Shells", "Thoughtforms," "Elementary Spirits" and similar absurdities. But even these abortive productions, of a too superficial investigation are to be preferred to the conclusions arrived at by another class of wise or scientific researchers, who begin their enquiry with the assumption that all persons except themselves are dishonest, all opinions except their own biased or without legitimate foundation, all observation except their own unreliable, all recorded phenomena unfounded unless they have witnessed them; all phenomena obtained under other conditions than those laid down themselves unworthy of credence.
Their verdict shortly summed up amounts to this, "We have found fraud, consequently there is no truth," or in other words they might say; "Our minds can understand fraud but are unable to comprehend truth, consequently it does not exist." Reasoning in the same logical manner one might say, a false coin is a sufficient evidence to prove that there are no real ones. Other minds might argue: "if there were no true coins there would be no false ones," but not so these wise men.
There is another class, but I will do my countrymen the justice of saying I have not found any among them. These act on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief. Pretending the most fervent interest in spiritualism, they make the acquaintance of persons having the reputation of being mediums, beg as for their very lives for the privilege of assisting at a seance for experiment, simulate the warmest sympathy and friendliest feelings towards the medium, and when finally they are permitted to join the circle, take with them a camera or a member of the secret police to assist in unmasking the deception they believe to be practiced.
An investigator of this class urged on by the clergy does not disdain to spy on a medium's privacy through holes which he has bored in the door or wall of his room. Or after cordially inviting a medium to pay a friendly visit to his home, he obtains false keys or picks the lock of the medium's trunk in order to examine its contents. He will induce a medium, by dint of promises and persuasion, to give a seance to a few intimate friends, and then has him or her; frequently the latter; stripped to the skin to satisfy himself that he or she does not carry on their persons, the means wherewith to deceive the innocent and unsuspecting (?) investigator. When he is satisfied on this point he ties the medium up with ropes, fastens him or her with screws or bolts to the wall or floor, and then awaits with complacent self-satisfaction spiritual manifestations.
My blood boils within me when I hear of sensitive mediums, frequently young girls or ladies, being subjected to the indignities and insults of these "investigators," who on the first intimation of something which to their limited understanding appears suspicious, are eager to denounce the unfortunate culprit and spread the damning news abroad, gleefully boasting of their skill as detectives. Knowing what I know; and that is little enough of the conditions necessary for successful manifestations, I cannot but wonder greatly that success ever attends on such experiments. When the material supplied by the investigators is chiefly made up of suspicion, intrigue, and doubt, supplemented in most cases by the noxious fumes of alcohol and nicotine, what wonder that the results produced are such as bring disgrace and shame on the name of the truths they profess to advocate, and ruin to the medium, who is the victim on whom the onus of the scandal is laid?
I have heard it said that there are but few good mediums left to work for the cause. I am not surprised. They have suffered so much at the hands of ignorant investigators, who pride themselves on their special qualifications as enquirers, that they have withdrawn from the work heartsick and discouraged, weary to death of even the very name of the truths for which they have given the best they had; time, health, reputation.
But thank God there is a brighter side. There are some good men and true, men on whom the scientific and detective investigator looks with contemptuous pity; men honest in themselves, their thoughts, and actions, who will not degrade either themselves or their neighbor by harboring a doubt of his honesty, who prefer to believe every man innocent of evil till he is proved guilty. The innate perception of the mysterious power that rules the universe gives such a man, in this enquiry, a point of observation which others could not, by aid of all the earthly sciences, ever hope to attain. They may come to believe in a spiritual existence; he knows it.
He may not he learned in the classics, he may not know Greek from Latin, but compared with them he is as a skylark to a mole. While these whose interests are of the earthly pursue their occupation of pulverizing and throwing up little mounds of the soil in which they find their sustenance, blind to everything on the earth above them, the bird though making his home low down on its surface can mount on light wings into the world of air and sunshine, with his joyful song of praise. Of him and such as he were the words spoken: "The pure in heart shall see God;" for so it is, that only they who have clean minds, clean bodies, and a sincere desire for light" will find the truth. The man whose spirit is held in the bondage of his appetite, who clouds his brain and destroys his nerves by the poison of nicotine, or unduly excites them by the incense of wine, is no fit candidate for communion with those passed on to the world of spirit. Nor is he, who is urged on merely by the desire to substantiate some pet idea or vague dream, to establish a theory, or to aggrandize his reputation as a man "of learning, or as a discoverer, any better fitted for the work. Unless a purer and better motive than these leads him on, let him not embark on the quest for he will fail. And he who seeks only to discover deceit in others, thereby betraying the falseness in himself, will find that which he seeks; falsehood; the truth he will never discover.
But to you, who are weary of life, its never ending toils, its pains, its sorrow, to you whose heart craves for certainty, to you whose dear ones have passed away leaving you despairing and heartsick, to you who hunger and thirst for proofs of a life beyond; to you I say, clean your minds from prejudice, your brain from poison, your bodies from impurities of disease wrought by the indulgence of the appetite, and set out on the search, for be assured you will find what you seek. The ground whereon you would tread is Holy; profane it not with feet soiled with the mire of suspicion, nor regard the instrument by which you must approach it as unworthy of trust. Come, honestly desiring to learn, not of the faults, failings, and shortcomings of others, but humbly seeking the truth, and you will not seek in vain; but if it be not sought with prayerful minds and earnest desire for help and enlightenment then do not waste time on the search.
"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst" said the Great Teacher. Even so in these matters. Where all are met together, having duly fitted themselves for the work, where no element of suspicion is introduced, where medium and circle are seated in the presence of each other, animated by the same desire for truth; there will the manifestations be purer and better than in the old days of cabinets, cages, bonds and tests, that defeated their own purpose.
I have devoted much space to the misunderstandings, mishaps, failures, and the resulting sickness and misery attending many of the investigations. My object in giving these dark shades of the picture, when I had many brighter episodes to select from, is because I think there are more valuable lessons taught by these failures than the most brilliant successes.
There is only one more serious misfortune, at least very serious to me, which stands prominently forward and to which I have not referred. This occurred in 1893 in Helsingfors and caused my hair to turn white and grey during nearly two years of indisposition, when it all came out and with returning health grew again quite dark as it was before the accident. A full description of this remarkable seance may be had from Oswald Mutze, Leipzig, entitled "Ein seltsames and belehrendes Phanomen im Gebiete der Materialisation von Alexander N. Aksakow." (A remarkable and instructive phenomenon in materialisation.) This has also been translated into French and can be had from P G Leymarie, Rue du Sommerard 12, Paris.
I have tried to take you my readers into my confidence and give you the result of my investigation of this strange subject. I have told you candidly my troubles during my childhood and youth as to the mysterious appearance of the "shadow-people" and how the mists of doubt were dispersed when I thought I understood what they were.
Then came our various experiments and the terrible troubles that followed some of them, so serious indeed that on three occasions my life seemed to hang as on a thread.
I have told you what in most cases others have written or published as to the phenomena, so that I do not lay claim to the statements as being entirely my own. I have used them in hopes that my experiences may be all the more easily understood, that my doubts and difficulties whilst treading new paths may be comprehended and appreciated.
I have tried to give you, as it were, an insight into my thoughts, feelings and sensations at the time; if I could have left out a description of the phenomena it is possible I would have done so, but without some record of them my doubts and perplexities would have been incomprehensible.
Much; perhaps too much; has been already written of these things and they may in consequence have fallen into disrepute. My object has not been so much to record phenomena as to use them to show what in my case; in my search for truth; has resulted from them.
I have used the word "medium" in the popular sense as ordinarily understood. This I have done in order that you might all the easier follow me. Now I come to the point where I wish to disclaim the right to that title. If you, my reader, have carefully followed me I think you will have come to the same conclusion as I have done on this point.
Seeing that the manifestations in all cases were in accordance with what the sitters were, it is I think self-evident that the latter were the medium and I only a part.
When the circle was composed of children the phenomena were of a childish character. When scientists were present the manifestations were of a scientific description. When ultimately I threw aside the old idea of mediums and mediumship, and determined to be no longer isolated from the rest and deprived of the use of one of my senses, I consider I took the place I ought to have occupied from the first. Even in the taking of the photographs we incessantly changed places, and had no cabinet or separate medium. We were all the medium.
In a circle of, say twenty, it is utterly absurd to credit one with the manifestations that are the product of other nineteen. When the phenomena depend on twenty why should one of the number be praised or blamed for what is produced through the whole of them?
So long as one of the circle was isolated from the rest, it was more or less assumed that the one thus set apart was responsible for what took place and the others were there to look on and criticize.
In any case what I wish most emphatically to disclaim is that I have been the "medium" when eleven or nineteen other persons were present. It may be right to credit me with a twelfth or twentieth part but not more unless some of the others were unsuitable and a greater share of the responsibility thereby fell on one or more of the other members of the circle.
If these conclusions; the result of many years work and hitter experience; are accepted and followed by; investigators and circle-holders in the future, then it is well that we have tried different methods and found which were faulty. I do not however think we have yet found or tried the best method of pursuing this investigation. Others who take up the work where I have laid it down may find safer and better roads than I have trodden There is so much to learn, so much to understand. Even at the best we but "See through a glass darkly" and grope our way in the darkness. Still, steering our course by the light which shines fitfully through the shadows we may yet reach that fuller light in which "We may know even as we also are known."
Now my task is done. They who come after me may perchance suffer as I have suffered, through ignorance of God's laws. Yet the world is wiser than it was, and it may be that they who take up the work in the next generation will not have to fight, as I did, the narrow bigotry and harsh judgments of the "unco' guid." Still I will not wish them too smooth a road, for it seems to me that, looking backward, I find the troubles that have attended my search; and they have been many; sink into insignificance. Nor do I regret them. They have been the monitors warning me that I had wandered from the right road, and though I knew it not, at the time, were my best friends. Now at last I have found what I have been seeking through these long years; years of hard work interspersed with sunshine and storms, with pleasure and pain; now I can cry aloud in jubilant voice to all who will hear: "I have found the truth; and the same great prize may be yours too, if you will seek it honestly, earnestly, humbly, diligently."
to Mediums of the Past List
Back to Mediums of the Past List
There are other sites on a
similar vein but slightly different pages click on links.
psychictruth.info Click onto
the links BELOW for the other pages on this site.
30 pound Lifetime Business
Aids used in Mediumship
Apports & Asports
Auras , Bereavement
Help , Books
C of E Report ,
Development CDs ,
Direct Voice ,
e Books ,
Electronic Voice Production
Guru, Swami, Holy Men
Healing List ,
Levitations , Lifetime
Materialisations , Meditation
Mediums Bible ,
Mediums and Psychics World Wide
, Mediums Directory ,
Psychics Directory , Mediums
of the Past ,
Mediums of the Present Day ,
Mental Mediumship ,
Near Death Experiences
Out of Body Experiences
, PK ,
Remote Viewing ,
Requested Links for Readings
, Spirit Drawings &
Spirit Photography ,
Spiritual Poetry ,
Spiritual Teachers ,
Tarot Cards ,
Tarot Plan ,
Testing of Mediums
Thoughts to Stimulate
Unlock the Tarot book
, Videos , Witches
Written by and © copyright of
© 1995 - 2013
There are other sites on a similar vein but slightly different pages click on links.
keeways.com mediumshiptruth.info psychictruth.info
Click onto the links BELOW for the other pages on this site.
returngo to the top of the page
Written by and © copyright of
© 1995 - 2013