Tell My Mother I’m Not Dead: a Case Study in Mediumship
Research by Trevor Hamilton
Ia (Imprint-academic.com PO Box 200, Exeter, EX5 5YX). ISBN: 9-781845 402600. £8.95.
Review by Ros Smith
In July 2002, Trevor Hamilton’s son, Ralph, was killed in a car crash. A few days after the funeral he stood outside Ralph’s bedroom and “tried to send him love, great waves of unconditional love to float him onwards,” and at the same time telling him that he would find him wherever he had gone.
While the author had been interested in the paranormal, and read widely, though not too discriminatingly, initially he feared he might be led astray by a mixture of over-imagination and wishful thinking if he started his quest without some guidance and structure. So he joined the Society for Psychical Research and set about reading all he could on the subject, and during this process he decided to write a biography of one of the early leading figures in the Society, F.W.H. Myers.
His wife did not share his interest in the paranormal, but he felt that if something came out of his search she would find some comfort. Also, during the weeks and months after Ralph’s death a number of strange phenomena took place in their house: the TV came on by itself; Ralph’s CD player and radio increased and decreased in volume by itself; and lights outside the bedroom flickered on and off sometimes blazing quite powerfully. It is well-known that electric and electronic devices seem to be affected when a person has died, and these phenomena are fairly well documented.
Trevor also began to experience vivid dreams, and though his wife did not have these she did get an overwhelming sense of their son’s presence at least twice in the house, often being able to smell his cigarette smoke.
While he felt, perhaps intuitively, that Ralph was trying to communicate he wanted to be on guard against any delusion. So his research was extensive, covering the work of early Spiritualist pioneers in the field of paranormal exploration and research, also that of many theologians including their reservations and ‘hang-ups’. He studied the work of mediums such as Leonora Piper, Mrs Coombe-Tennant, Eileen Garrett and, more recently, Albert Best. Even more recently he has communicated and visited many mediums of the present day, including Matthew Manning. He read the automatic scripts produced by Geraldine Cummins, and others: he read the whole of the Scole Report (very lengthy!). He delved into all the literature he could find, determined to get to what he considered to be the truth.
Despite his initial scepticism about going to mediums he eventually went to many, and recorded the sittings in order to evaluate them afterwards. He lists very comprehensive results from ten of these sittings, marking the comments from the mediums with the following: True/Other/Pred (Predicted – later found to be true) and False. In an overall summary at the end of the book the percentage of True to False is on average 75% to 5%.
While he found the personalities of some of the mediums difficult to resonate with, in the main he appreciated their integrity. He found himself surprised at the high level of veridical communication and, “as the years went by and more and more evidence accumulated (patchy though some of it was) from different mediums, a cautious belief in the possibility of survival (no more) began to grow in me.” Not easily convinced, then!
The book is neatly divided into two parts.
Part 1: Experiences – gives a linear understanding of the events between 2002 and 2010, when he had the sitting with the last medium, and describing the devastating early effects on him and his family, their gradual acceptance that, after all, there just might be life after death, and that, perhaps, Ralph was trying to communicate.
Part 2: Reflections – which is a combination of his own thoughts on how mediumship is viewed today, the sort of people who go to mediums (and he didn’t think he fitted into this category at first) and the further research in order to verify his conclusions. He writes about his study of the cross-correspondences, messages or parts of messages set up by the early leaders of the SPR and transmitted to two or more mediums that would only make sense when put together and studied carefully, and the sealed documents left by several well-known psychical researchers, e.g. Oliver Lodge and R.H Thouless to which we are still awaiting the keys to the ciphers.
Hamilton’s biography of F.W.H. Myers was published in 2009. Hamilton seems to have been excessively busy during those years of research, and has provided us with a very good guide to what to investigate and read up for ourselves – without having to purchase great tomes.
It seems strange to me that with all the accumulated evidence for his son’s survival, including detailed descriptions of his character and personality, “his cheekiness, his popularity, his sensitivity, his love of water sports, of travel, his fondness for monkeys, his semi-professional success in music, and his career and situation at the time of his death,” the author still found it difficult to accept Ralph’s continuing existence. Even at the end of the book his conclusion is still ambivalent: when asked if he believes in an afterlife, he says “It’s a definite maybe”.
But there is a very interesting ‘postscript’ which follows and which may well have taken the author by surprise. Coming into the modern era, so to speak, Ralph seems to have been able to communicate by email! And, for me, this was the real evidence.
All in all a very good, and reasonably priced, book for any new (or even experienced) investigator.