A Representative Seance
The seances, in completely darkened rooms, often went on for long periods, with some silence, laughter, and bantering between the sitters and those speaking from the afterlife. The 41 minute seance presented here is representative of what often went on. In this seance, "Rosie" and a "Mr. Rowlinson" and possibly another woman were the sitters with Leslie Flint. A number of people came through, but it all occurred in one session.
A description of the parts of the seance follows the play bar.
Description of the Seance
Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891), Founder of the Theosophical Society
The seance began with Madame Helena Blavatsky ("HPB") speaking from the afterlife. There was some problem with the recorder, so there is silence while the sitters work with it.
Madame Blavatsky was a talented medium who traveled the world. She spent several years in New York, where she founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.
During the time they were apparently working on the recorder, Madame Blavatsky remarks that the conditions are not admirable, and comes back later with the same remark. She then tells Leslie Flint, "Just relax." He laughs and responds, "I almost feel as if I'm in a school, finally." Madame Blavatsky responds, "So you are, learning lessons I hope." After a pause, Leslie Flint yawns.
Then, during the seance, Madame Blavatsky comments about the fact that doctors on the other side have been tending to the sitters, wanting to keep them healthy so they could continue the work of helping those on the Earth plane understand the afterlife. She focuses on the role of the doctors on the other side who watch over the medium to ensure that he isn't taxed too much by the seance. "Sometimes it's very bad for the medium to sit," she explains.
Madame Blavatsky explains the difference between a control and the guides who come to the seances. Controls are intermediaries between the afterlife and the Earthly plan, staying close to the Earth during the medium's lifetime, to provide the link to the afterlife. Guides come to the Earth plane to communicate, then return to the upper planes. They are not always available to the medium.
Other sources explain that the controls are usually young people who have crossed over. They may correspond to what are known as "joy guides" in mental mediumship.
She chides Leslie Flint in good fun. We hear Leslie Flint laughing. She then chides one of the sitters, probably Rosie, about getting overly excited during the seances.
We hear Leslie Flint coughing. He often coughed during the seances because of a tickle he developed in his throat when the speakers spoke through the ectoplasmic voice box.
After a short silence, Madame Blavatsky pokes fun at one of the sitters, saying "Don't worry Mr. Rowlinson. You'll still get your flat." Leslie Flint then asks him, "Were you thinking about your flat then?" After a moment, Mr. Rowlinson says, "I wish your name weren't Leslie so she could call me by my name. Mr Rowlinson is so formal. She could call me 'Cherub.'" Madame Blavatsky retorts that she can't imagine anyone less like a cherub.
There is a moment of silence before another person comes through from the afterlife.
A Dr. Mario comes through because the sitter, Rosie, had asked whether he was one of the physicians tending to her on the other side. He reiterates that those on the other side are watching out for the health of the sitters who are assisting Leslie Flint. He refers to the sitter's ulcer. He explains that he is helping one of the sitters not present with his hearing.
Mickey, Leslie Flint's Control
Mickey, Leslie Flint's Cockney boy control comes through to joke with the sitters. Mickey was a newspaper boy who said he was run over by a truck when he was eleven years old.
A control is devoted to the medium and may stay with the medium during his or her entire life. In other seances, Mickey is described by others as now being a highly evolved soul. When he comes down to the Earth plane and enters the Earth vibration, he automatically takes on the character he had when on Earth, a boyish, fun-loving, teasing boy. At times, however, Mickey's more evolved self emerges and he gives the sitters remarkable insights about spirit and eternal life.
Frederick Chopin (1810-1849)
After a period of silence, Frederick Chopin comes through. Chopin was widely regarded as one of the most famous, influential, admired and prolific composers for the piano. We hear a change in the recorder. Such changes occur frequently in the seance recordings.
Chopin refers to the fact that the conditions are not good for the seance. Rosie, who is a pianist and attends concerts regularly, has spoken to Chopin before; she is delighted to have him come through. He explains that he is helping musicians on Earth, including Rosie. Chopin predicts that a trial she has been caught up in will end soon and she will have more time to throw herself into her music because of something about to happen that will cause her some distress, but she will then be much happier.
After Chopin leaves, Rosie mutters "Oh dear," and Mickey replies, "Did you call me a Dear?" She says, "I call you a Darling."
There is a period of silence. You can hear Leslie Flint sighing on the tape.
Ruth Roland (1892-1937)
The next woman to come through says very little, but the man who comes through after her explains who she is. His voice is identical to that of Lionel Barrymore, who had come through in other seances. He had promised, in those seances, to come through at another time bringing through people from entertainment. Here, he is fulfilling that promise.
The result is a very interesting piece of history. This woman is Ruth Roland, whom Barrymore describes as a "serial queen." That squares with what we know about the historical Ruth Roland. She had her own production company, Ruth Roland Serials, Inc., and produced six multi-episode serials that were very successful:
- The Adventures of Ruth (1919)
- Ruth of the Rockies (1920)
- White Eagle (1922)
- The Timber Queen (1922)
- The Haunted Valley (1923)
- Ruth of the Range (1923)
Males had dominated the silent screen in the early years of the twentieth century. However, in defiance of this dominance, sixty serial-queen melodramas were released between 1912 and 1920 that featured women as the heroic figure. Their emergence illustrates the change occurring in the culture that enabled women to take on stronger roles outside of the family.
Ruth Roland has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6220 Hollywood Boulevard.
Lionel Barrymore Speaks
Lionel Barrymore comes back saying he had promised he would come through with some of his friends, and true to his word, he was doing so. Other theater people come through after him.
There is a silent space in the tape. These silent spaces are very common in the seance tapes. We don't know whether they occurred at the seance, when George Woods and Betty Greene were editing afterward, or when those at the Leslie Flint Educational Trust packaged the recordings.
Will Rogers (1879-1935)
After a brief silence, Will Rogers comes through in his energetic, cordial manner. It is apparent that Lionel Barrymore asked him to come through because the sitters would recognize his name.
Lionel Barrymore Speaks Again
Barrymore returns to explain that he had brought his friends to speak. Then there is silence. Barrymore says, "There's certainly a crowd here tonight."
Unknown Woman Singing
Then, a woman from the afterlife begins singing. The sitters try to figure out who the singer was, but she doesn't return. They ask Mickey, Leslie Flint's control, who it was. One of the sitters joins in with what she believes to be the next verse of the song, probably in the hope of encouraging the woman to come back and sing the rest of the song.
Leslie Flint speaks and the others responded. As often occurs in the seances, the casual conversation is difficult to follow.
Unknown Male Voice
An unknown male comes through briefly saying "Good evening."
Unknown Female Voice
An unknown female then comes through saying "Good evening."
One of the sitters apparently scratched her knee. Mickey asks her, "You got an itch?" They all laugh and there is brief silence. Leslie Flint coughs.
Drayton Thomas ( -1953)
A male speaks, saying "Such a pity." He explains that he would like to speak but will be better at it as time goes on. He says, "Hello Leslie." "Hello" all respond. The person says, "You know who it is," and follows with "Hello, hello, hello, hello." That apparently was a statement the sitters understood because they immediately say, "Drayton Thomas."
Drayton Thomas (died in 1953) was a Methodist minister who had an interest in life after death all of his life. He sat anonymously with Mrs. Osborne Leonard, a famous medium. He was so impressed that he introduced himself and sat in on her seances for some time. He published a long series of books and articles on life after death. After Mrs. Leonard's death in 1945, he worked with Leslie Flint and did a great deal of valuable work with him, so they knew each other well.
Leslie Flint responds warmly to "Drayt," a nickname he called him.
An exuberant woman with a French accent comes through. She says she is very excited to be able to speak with the sitters. "Wonderful, magnificent," she says.
A sitter asked her to tell them about herself. The sitters tried to speak French to her, but she didn't return. They engaged in a brief conversation about her. They called to Mickey to find out who it was. A man's voice comes through briefly.
Madame Helena Blavatsky?
Madame Blavatsky (we assume) comes through again telling them, "I told you it would be difficult," referring to the fact that people were coming through, but briefly, in fragments. The sitters say they thought the evening had been very good, "considering all things." The speaker sounded like Madame Blavatsky, who began the seance. A long period of silence followed as they waited for a speaker.
Another unknown woman comes through, speaking very softly. The sitters asked her to speak up. "We are doing our best," she says. She ended with "Bless you," and left.
A woman named Maria comes through and the sitters seemed to recognize her, although it sounds as though she was calling herself "Marie" rather than "Maria." The sitters ask her if she knows the French woman who came through earlier. Maria says that "it is not so easy" this evening to come through. She did not return.
An unknown male comes through saying, "Peace be with you my son." Mickey interrupts to say, "The power is waning. The power is going." He ends with "Can't hold on, good night." The power was then gone and the seance ended.
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