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Three Materialization Seances with David Thompson by
Jan W. Vandersande Ph. D.

I was very fortunate to have the well-known Australian materialization medium David Thompson and his partner Christine Morgan, a spiritual medium, accept my invitation to come to the Los Angeles area for three séances on February 9, 11 and 13, 2012. Marisa Ryan, a psychic-medium, helped organize the event with me and her large garage was used for the séances. This article will provide a brief background on materializations and describe in detail the amazing events of our three séances. I will describe the events of a séance from beginning to end with events from of the three nights overlapping.

Materialization, especially full-body materialization, is the rarest of all reported paranormal physical phenomena. Portions of human bodies, such as hands, which move, grasp, carry things, etc., or entire bodies which speak, breath and walk like living beings materialize (i.e. form) from ectoplasm. Ectoplasm is a whitish substance which comes from the medium’s body through one or more orifices such as the nose, ears, mouth and/or the solar plexus. When ectoplasm is initially expelled from the medium it looks transparent, like fine silk. This silk-like looking ectoplasm then solidifies into partial or full materializations of spirit entities or into a rod-like shape that moves the trumpet (a megaphone typically one to two feet long). The ectoplasm always returns to the medium’s body after the materializations are finished.

Ectoplasm was given its name by Professor Charles Richet in 1905, when he was president of the Society for Psychical Research. He derived the name from the Greek word meaning “exteriorized substance”. The German authority Baron von Schenk-Notzing, who called it “teleplasma” produced a chemical analysis (around 1913) as follows: “colorless, slightly cloudy fluid with slightly alkaline reaction, traces of sputum, mucous membrane granules, potash, cell detritus, skin discs and minute particles of flesh”. This analysis was similar to that done by Dr. Dombrowski of the Polish Society for Psychical Research in 1916. Because those analyses were done in 1913 and 1916 they could not be as sophisticated and advanced as you would find nowadays. These analyses do however support the fact that ectoplasm actually does come from the body of the medium. I have documented a large number of reports of materializations and these as well as some photographs of ectoplasm can be found in my book titled “Life After Death: Some of the Best Evidence” (Outskirts Press, 2008).

Ectoplasm can be very sensitive to unexpected touching or by being exposed to white light. There have been a few reported cases of serious injury to the medium when a sitter in a séance grabbed or shone white light on the ectoplasm. This has typically happened when a skeptic tried to unsuccessfully expose the medium for being fraudulent. Some of the best materialization mediums have produced full-body materializations in red light (which is of lower energy than white light) and a rare few have even produced materializations in white light (for examples see my book).

David Thompson has been doing materialization séances for approximately 15 years. Most of his séances are done in total darkness but, occasionally, he will produce ectoplasm with red light on. Some of those instances have been photographed showing a sheet of ectoplasm stretching from his face across his chest, and down over his lap down to nearly his feet. Those séances when the red light is turned on are usually only when small groups are involved like at his home circle in Sydney. Full materializations are only produced in total darkness and therefore cannot be photographed. Hopefully one day he will have developed enough so that red light can be used in all his séances.

Given that a materialization medium can be seriously hurt during a séance means that precautions need to be taken to ensure that no sitter grabs the ectoplasm or shines white light on it. During our séances sitters were warned before the séance that under no circumstances could they touch the ectoplasm or full materialization unless the spirit entity allowed it. Also, all sitters were searched before entering the séance room. During the séance all the sitters had to hold hands in order to remove the temptation for any sitter to grab at a materialization.

Similarly, precautions were taken to make sure that fraud on the part of the medium could be completely ruled out. A female and male sitter (called independent “checkers”) were randomly chosen from amongst the sitters to help ensure that all the necessary precautions were taken. David was searched by myself before each séance and before the second séance he even stripped down to his underpants and his clothes were searched by myself and the male independent checker. David sat on a chair (a firm wooden chair) in the corner of the garage and from 24 to 27 chairs were positioned in a circle with the sitters facing the corner where he sat. A curtain rod with two black curtains was situated so that the two curtains could be pulled closed together in front of David (this area behind the curtain is known as the cabinet). David’s arms were tied tightly to the arms of the chair by means of two leather straps. To ensure that the straps could not be undone, plastic zip ties (also known as cable ties or tree ties) were pulled through the holes of the strap so that the strap could only be undone by cutting the zip tie. I checked that David could not pull his hands out from the straps (I found it to be impossible). On one of the evenings one of the independent checkers asked for an additional zip tie to be tied around each of David’s wrists about an inch from the strap. This was done and then an additional zip tie was pulled through the strap and the zip tie around his wrist. It was now totally impossible for him to get his arms loose (only by cutting the zip ties could his arms be released). His legs were tied to the legs of the chair by means of straps. David wore a cardigan sweater during the seances that had five buttons that were buttoned. Five zip ties were used near the button holes to ensure that the only way he could get out of the cardigan was for the zip ties to be cut. The two independent checkers and I searched the garage, especially in and near where David was sitting, for anything that might be used to get out of the bindings and enable him to see in the dark. Nothing was found. The independent checkers and I were convinced that there was no way that David could get out of his chair. Finally, a black gag was secured around his head and through his open mouth so that he could not talk (at least not recognizable speech).

With David securely seated behind the curtains and all the sitters seated, the lights were turned off and the door locked and taped with black tape so no light at all could come into the garage. Christine, the circle leader, now started the séance with a short prayer and then asked me to start the music. I had a CD player next to me on a small table and started the music (I had practiced to be able to operate the CD player in total darkness). Several familiar songs were played and the sitters were urged to sing along to increase the energy and vibrations. All sitters were told to hold hands to increase the energy and to ensure that no one tries to touch the ectoplasm without permission. After three to four songs Christine told me to stop the music because William, David’s main spirit guide (also called his control), had materialized and had spoken to Christine.

David has a band of spirit entities many of whom regularly materialize at his séances. His main spirit control is William Cadwell (who died in 1897) who materializes first at all his séances and appears to control what happens during the séance. After materializing William started talking to the sitters while walking around. He spoke loudly and in a distinctive British accent that I found difficult to understand at times. William stepped on the piece of plywood (approximately two feet wide by three feet long), that we had taped to the floor at the center of the circle, making a distinct sound indicating that he was wearing heavy-soled boots (meanwhile David was wearing sneakers).

He then started to answer questions of a general nature about the spirit world and about life asked by some of the sitters. After answering each question he would walk over to the sitter who had asked the question and asked if he could touch them. After the sitter said that he could, he put his hand on their head. The sitters who had that experience (about 8-10 per sitting) described a very large hand (meanwhile David has very small hands). Some sitters were also touched on the shoulder and in some cases he put his foot gently on the toes of the sitter (everyone had taken their shoes off) to show that he was a full materialization. I had William put his hand on my head (I agree it was a big hand) and tap me on the shoulder three times. In the first séance a female sitter asked William if her dead husband could come through and possibly materialize, to which William said they would try (he did come and it is described below). During the second séance I asked William if his materialized body had a pulse. He came over to me, took two of my fingers with his hand and put them up against what I assumed was the carotid artery in his neck area. It felt like cold rough skin I was touching and I could feel a very, very vague pulse. After he had answered approximately 8-10 questions in each of the three sittings he walked back to the cabinet. During the first sitting while walking back to the cabinet (I was sitting approximately two yards to the left of the cabinet) he said to me: “Dr. Vandersande, you will now get the materializations you have been waiting for so long”. The last time I experienced materializations was back in the mid 1970’s as described in my book.

The next materialization, in each séance, was Timmy (Timothy Booth), a Cockney youth claiming to be nine years old, who had a very characteristic young voice. Christine gave him the trumpet, a megaphone approximately a foot and a half long with a luminous band (approximately half an inch wide) around the bottom so that it could be seen in the dark. Timmy took the trumpet and, according to him, he manipulated the ectoplasm, which had come from David and from which he had formed, to move the trumpet. (Photographs of how the ectoplasm is typically attached to the trumpet can be seen in my book.)

The trumpet flew at great speed and with considerable precision, performing aerobatic patterns such as large and small circles, flying to the ceiling and to the floor and all around the garage while I had the CD player play an Irish jig. Occasionally it slowed to a stop and gently tapped a sitter deliberately on the head, the shoulder, or the knee. It did that to several sitters. Never at any time did the trumpet bump into any sitter or anything else in the garage. In the second séance Timmy was given two drum sticks by Christine, after the trumpet had finished flying around the room. The sticks were approximately one and a half feet long and had luminous paint on their tips so they could be seen in the dark. The two sticks flew around the room just like the trumpet did. At one point both sticks went up to the ceiling (which was approximately nine feet high) and stayed there motionless for a few seconds and then resumed flying around and gently touching a few sitters. There is absolutely no way any human, assuming they could see in total darkness, could move the trumpet (and the drum sticks) in those random patterns, that fast and at that those heights, as all the sitters observed in the three séances. My wife, Marlene, and I saw similar trumpet movements in a large number of séances over an eight year period in the 1970’s. In the second séance Timmy also rang a bell that Christine had given him for about 30 seconds.

Next in the first two séances, Christine gave Timmy a small tablet (approximately three inches square) that was covered with luminous paint so it could be seen in the dark. Timmy would put two or three fingers over the tablet and walked around the circle so that each sitter could see the outline of his small fingers. After that he walked around the circle touching some sitters on their hands so that they could feel his small hands. In the second séance he ran from the cabinet to sitters in the circle across from the cabinet (approximately 30 feet away) and asked a young lady her name. She told him her name was Emily and he said “what a lovely name”. He then touched her hand and the hand of her father (remember all sitters were holding hands during the séance) and both commented how small the fingers felt. In the third séance, when Timmy was near me I asked him when he died and he replied 1902. I then asked where he lived and he replied Stepney Green (in East London). I did not understand what he said so asked him to spell it. Instead of spelling the name he came over to me and put his hands on the arms of my chair (a plastic garden chair) and shook my chair forwards and backwards three times. A few minutes later he came back and shook my chair sideways a few times. I weigh 200 pounds so he showed a lot of strength in shaking my chair. He obviously was not happy about me asking him to spell Stepney Green. After the séance I told David what had happened and he said that Timmy was illiterate during his earth life, which could explain why he was not happy and did what he did.

Another one of David’s regular spirit entities, Louis Armstrong (the famous trumpet player who died in 1971), materialized in all three séances. He sang to one of his well-known songs (Hello Dolly) which I played on the CD player. His voice sounded exactly like the very characteristic voice so often heard when he was alive on earth (a deep distinctive gravelly voice). Christine then handed him a harmonica and he played it for several minutes while tapping on the plywood on the floor. You could hear him take a deep breath occasionally while playing. After that he left. I always get skeptical and nervous when famous people materialize but now have a better understanding why they do it. To prove survival after death it makes more sense that someone who is well-known, has a characteristic voice and/or mannerisms, that just about everyone can recognize, materializes rather than an anonymous person.

A few of the other regular spirit entities materialized during the three séances. During the first séance May, a women with a strong Southern accent, materialized. When asked where she came from she replied she came from Louisiana. She only spoke for a few minutes and then left. During the second séance a person called Harold Bloomsbury materialized and sang a song and then left. Christine and David know very little about him except that he apparently lived in Kentucky and occasionally materializes to sing. During the third séance Quentin Crisp, the British writer, actor and gay icon (who died in 1999), materialized. He had a flamboyant personality and a theatrical voice. He said he had come to prove that your sexual preference doesn’t affect what happens to you when you go to the spirit world (contrary to what many may believe today in our society) but how you live your life. He was asked if believed in gay marriage and replied that he did not believe in marriage of any kind.

During the second séance Maurice Barbanell briefly materialized. It sounded like he never left the cabinet because the voice appeared to come from behind the curtain. Barbanell was an author, editor (of the Spiritualist News Paper “Psychic News”) and medium who died in 1981. He was the trance medium for the very well-known spirit guide Silver Birch, who apparently was an old soul who took on the guise of a humble American Indian. Barbanell said that Silver Birch would materialize at the end of the séance. A short time later there was a large whoosh sound as if the curtains of the cabinet were blown outward. A cold breeze was felt by many sitters. I and others got the impression that someone special had arrived. Silver Birch had materialized and he spoke briefly about the Great White Spirit from the center of the circle. He then sang an Indian incantation or chant (blessing?) and then left. Christine told me afterwards that Silver Birch had come to two previous séances and that in both cases there was that whoosh sound and the breeze of cold air.

During each séance a friend or relative of one of the sitters materialized. During the first séance the husband, Ken, of one of the sitters materialized and spoke to his wife briefly. He said he had been a bad husband but his wife said that he had not been one. He kissed her and then left. Next a man materialized calling for his granddaughter Marlene. He turned out to be the grandfather of my wife Marlene, on her mother’s side. He said he had brought her mother. A weak women’s voice then spoke from inside or near the cabinet and said “I love you” and then she disappeared. It appeared that there just wasn’t enough energy for her to materialize. Actually, the energy in the first séance was the weakest of the three séances. This was evident by how the trumpet flew around the garage. During the first séance the trumpet did perform it’s aerobatics but it was not as energetic as in the other séances. Also, it stayed close to the cabinet while during the second séance the trumpet flew all over the garage and also the drumsticks flew around (which only happened during the second séance). Next, a man materialized right in front of me and said he was Alec Harris, one of the most well-known materialization mediums to have lived (see my book for detailed descriptions of his séances). He had come to thank me for writing about his mediumship in my book and talking about his mediumship. He also said that our two medium friends were there. He was referring to Mickey and Sara Wolf, who Marlene and I sat with over an eight year period in the 1970’s and who themselves sat with Alec. I said “Thank you, you were a great medium” and he then left.

During the second séance Leslie Flint, one of the best independent direct voice mediums ever (who died in 1994), materialized and walked over to the sitter Brian Hurst, a medium himself, and started talking to him. Flint and Brian were friends in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when Flint stayed in Los Angeles. Flint referred to a séance where he got very irritable because Brian went into trance and he (Leslie) got no direct voice. Leslie eventually apologized. Flint also referred to a Mr. Fisher, Brian’s speech coach when he was in school. Brian told me that Flint used the expression “Dear Boy” several times and that when they were friends, Flint always called him that. Flint said a few other things to Brian, which Brian confirmed were accurate to me a few days later. What Flint said was very good survival evidence (names and addresses) that was confirmed by Brian. There is no way David could have known some or any of it.

During the third séance a man materialized and called out for his mother and father, who called him Jay-Jay and asked him to come to them. He walked over to them, touched them both and kissed them. After saying a few words to each other he left.
At the end of each of the séances, after all the materializations had returned to the cabinet, William said good-bye and asked me to play some music. After a few minutes everyone heard a large thud in the center of the circle (approximately 15 feet in front of the curtain). A light was turned on after the tape on the door had been removed and the door opened. We all saw David sitting in his chair, tied up exactly as he was at the beginning of the séance except for the fact that his cardigan had been reversed. The cardigan was still buttoned and the five zip-ties were still in place exactly as when we placed them there. There is no way that David could have reversed the cardigan. In the third séance the cardigan was dropped in the lap of the male independent checker before David in his chair was moved (it sounded like he was dropped) in the center of the circle. The movement of David in his chair for a distance of at least 15 feet shows that the spirit entities have tremendous strength (using ectoplasm from David). While the reversal/removal of the cardigan shows a de-materialization/re-materialization capability (or whatever technology the spirits used) that is way beyond the current laws of physics as we know them. It was truly an amazing phenomenon to have observed.

The male independent checker then gave Christine the cutters, which he had in his pocket throughout the séance (in all three séances), so that the zip ties could be cut loose and David untied from the chair. I carefully examined how David was tied into the chair and I am absolutely sure that there was no way he was able to remove himself from the chair during the séance and then return to the chair and tie himself back to the chair. There is no doubt in my mind he produced the materializations and the other physical phenomena while tied in the chair in the cabinet.

A friend of mine and his daughter came to the second séance. Neither had been to a séance before and I told them in advance that it could be a life changing experience. I spoke to him a few days after the séance and he said that he spent a few hours analyzing what he had experienced (he has two University degrees). His conclusion was that even if David could have untied himself and could have seen in the dark (both of which he thought was extremely unlikely if not impossible) then he still could never have produced the trumpet, drum stick and small and large hand touching phenomena. His only conclusion could be that what he experienced was real and that he experienced something paranormal and it was very likely communication with the spirit world. Both he and his daughter agreed with me that the experience was life changing.