A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife


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Three Materialization Seances with David Thompson in 2014
Jan W. Vandersande Ph. D.

I was very fortunate to have had the well-known Australian materialization medium, David Thompson, and his partner, Christine Morgan, a spiritual medium, come to the Los Angeles area for three séances on February 9, 11 and 13, 2012. The séances were a great success and after numerous requests I asked David to come again. Three séances were held on January 21, 23 and 25, 2014. 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 at least 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 them before each séance. David sat on a chair with arm rests in a cabinet made from PVC (a rectangle about five feet deep by four feet wide and seven feet high with black curtains on either side and two curtains in the front). The back of the cabinet was placed against a side wall and from 21 to 24 chairs (for the first and third séances, respectively) and 11 chairs for the second seance were positioned in a semi-circle with the sitters facing 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). 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 room (a conference room without windows in an hotel), 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 in the cabinet and all the sitters seated, the lights were turned off after the door was taped with black tape and black out curtain so no light at all could come into the room. There appeared to be some faint light coming from the door area so Christine, the circle leader, turned on her red flash light and some more tape was added to block out any light. While this was happening William, David’s main spirit guide (who had died in 1897), spoke briefly from within the cabinet saying that conditions were now fine. He explained later that he used an ectoplasmic voice box formed next to David’s right ear.

Christine 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 chair 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. After four to five songs Christine told me to stop the music because William, David’s main spirit guide (also called his control), had materialized and was heard speaking from the middle of the circle.

I had actually noticed that someone had walked out of the cabinet. Christine was wearing a luminous broach on her shirt and was sitting directly opposite me (on the right side of the cabinet while I was sitting on the left side) and the broach disappeared briefly (1-2 seconds) indicating someone walked between us. This occurred numerous times during the sittings when spirit materializations walked in and out of the cabinet.

David has a band of spirit entities many of whom regularly materialize at his séances. His main spirit control is William Cadwell, 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 (two feet by two feet), that we had placed 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 most of the time 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 (from 4 to 7 per sitting) described a very large hand (meanwhile David has very small hands). After he had answered a number of questions in each of the three sittings he walked back to the cabinet.

The next regular materialization, in David’s séances and in each of our séances, was Timmy (Timothy Booth, who died in 1902), a Cockney youth claiming to be nine years old, who has a very characteristic young voice. Christine placed their 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 and one of the two trumpets (a large one and a small one) I had brought, near the front of the cabinet. Then according to Timmy, he manipulated the ectoplasm, which had come from David and from which he (Timmy) had formed, to move the trumpets. (Photographs of how the ectoplasm is typically attached to the trumpet can be seen in my book.)

The trumpets (two in the first séance, three in the second séance and only their trumpet in the third séance) flew at great speed and with considerable precision, performing aerobatic patterns such as large and small circles, flying to the ceiling (from 10 to 12 feet high), the corners, all around the room and tapping each other in mid-air while I had the CD player play an Irish jig. Occasionally the trumpets slowed to a stop and gently tapped a sitter deliberately on the head, the shoulder, or the knee. The trumpets did that to several sitters. In the first séance I was tapped on the leg by my small trumpet three times and in the third séance I was tapped on the head three times by their trumpet. Never at any time did the trumpets bump into any sitter or anything else in the room.

There is absolutely no way any human, assuming they could see in total darkness, could move a trumpet 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. The smaller of the two trumpets I had brought ended up under my chair at the end of the first séance.

While the three trumpets were moving around the room during the second séance I all of a sudden heard a thud to my left and leaves were all of a sudden touching my head. Then I heard a thud in front of me and then about a minute later a thud to my right. It turns out that Timmy had moved three artificial trees (about 5 feet tall, each in a pot weighing about 6-8 pounds) from three different places in the room to in front of me. One tree was originally behind a large table so the table had to be moved by him in order to bring the tree to me. The other two trees were originally in two different corners of the room. Some sitters in the circle actually heard something fly over their heads. My two trumpets ended up in one of the trees between the branches. After he had moved the trees Timmy told me that from now on he would call me "Jungle Jan".

This phenomenon of moving heavier objects using ectoplasm is extremely impressive and in no way could have been done by anyone in the room in the pitch dark.

In the second séance, Christine gave Timmy a small ball (approximately three inches in diameter) that was covered with luminous paint so it could be seen in the dark. Timmy put his fingers around the ball and walked around the circle showing the ball to each sitter, so that each sitter could see the outline of his small fingers.

Another one of David’s regular spirit entities, Louis Armstrong (the famous musician, known for his trumpet playing, 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 Native American Indian named White Soaring Bird materialized in the third séance, after Louie had returned to the cabinet. He was introduced by Timmy, who said that he was afraid of him and did not like him. Timmy actually sounded tense, even afraid (intimidated). White Soaring Bird came to give a blessing to the sitters. He first spoke in his native Indian language and then in English.

During the first sitting Timmy asked if any one (who was also coming to the second sitting) knew a George. Both my wife and daughter said yes. Timmy then said that he (George) would try to come during the next sitting. During that sitting my wife felt some one gently rubbing her back and arms and speaking to her (but she could not make out what the person was saying). Timmy said it was her father George (who is in the spirit world).

One of the more interesting things that happened during the first séance came unexpectedly. While William was walking in the circle and answering questions, the blackout curtain that had been taped over one of the two doors all of a sudden fell to the floor. We heard William rapidly go back to the cabinet and after several seconds he told Christine to put the curtain back over the door. She had to put her red flash light on so that one of the sitters could re-tape the sheet over the door. Once that was completed William said that Christine with the two independent checkers should briefly look into the cabinet to see that David was still tied up as he originally was. They did that and confirmed that he was still tied up.

This unexpected event clearly shows that it was not David pretending to be William, walking around the room and answering questions as some skeptics have maintained. There is no way David, if he had been walking around, could have rushed back to the cabinet and re-tied himself in such a brief period of time. Also, the only way he could have seen in the dark would have been with night vision goggles and they were definitely not in the room (I checked that myself, as did the independent checkers).

At the end of each séance William asked Christine and the independent checkers to look into the cabinet using her red flashlight to confirm David was still tied up as he originally was and that his cardigan was still on properly. They found that to be the case in all three séances. This checking of David during the séance and just before the end of the séances was not done during the séances three years ago.

After David had been checked, William said good-bye and Christine asked me to play some music. After a few minutes everyone heard a large thud in the circle, approximately 10-15 feet in front of the curtain (in the first and third séances) and to the left of the cabinet behind the row of sitters (about 20 feet) in the second séance (so David in his chair had been lifted over the sitters- an amazing feat).

The red flashlight was turned on and the tape on the door was 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. The movement of David in his chair for a distance of at least 20 feet shows that the spirit entities have tremendous strength (using ectoplasm from David and likely the sitters as well). 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.