HOW TO RUN A DIRECT VOICE CIRCLE
Extracted from John Butler 'Exploring the Psychic World'
(Oak Treee Books London and Melbourne 1947) Chapter 14.
By John Butler
" Now the direct voice is obviously
the most interesting and most evidential of all forms of
mediumship. Comparatively few home circles, however, seriously
sit for it - the reason being that development requires
patience, it frequently being said that six or seven years
is required before the voice is obtained. In my opinion
and experience this is incorrect. If all the rules are scrupulously
observed, direct voice should start within six months, and
subsidiary phenomena such as spirit lights and movement
of the trumpet should be experienced long before that. Where
circles do not develop direct voice for several years it
will generally be found that one or other of the rules is
being neglected. Assuming then that you wish to start a
home circle for the direct voice, here is the way you should
set about it." Read More...
First you must get together a number of
sitters - not less than five nor more than nine. It is not
essential that you keep strictly to these figures but they
are the ones generally recommended. Where you have fewer
than five sitters there is generally not enough “power”
or psychic force unless one of the sitters proves to be
an exceptional medium. Where you have more than nine sitters
you increase the chances of absenteeism, which is fatal
to development. Once you have decided on your circle of
sitters do not vary it.
Having got your circle you must then decide
at whose home you will meet. Once decided, this also must
The room selected for sittings should be
preferably small, with few furnishings. It must be able
to be rendered absolutely pitch-dark without a chink of
light. Because of this necessity for absolute darkness there
must be some means of heating it in the winter other than
by coal fire or stove. Either hot-water pipes or totally
enclosed electric resistances are suitable. The latter are
comparatively cheap to buy and current consumption is not
excessive. The heating of the room may seem a small point,
but in practice it will be found that for six months in
the year it makes the difference between comfort and discomfort.
Moreover the incidence of phenomena frequently
decreases the temperature of the room, making a cold room
noticeably colder. You should therefore decide on some form
of heating and have that installed before the series of
sittings commences. Many circles have broken up because
the question of heating was neglected.
You have now chosen the members of your
circle, the rendezvous, the day and time of meeting, the
room and the heating of the room. Remember that the black-out
must be complete and absolute, especially in the beginning
The members of the circle should sit in
a circle, preferably alternately male and female. In the
centre of the circle should be placed, on a small table
or on a board, the trumpet. The trumpet is merely a kind
of megaphone without handle or lip. It may be made of aluminium,
celluloid, plastic, cardboard, leather, or practically any
light material. It is not used by the spirit operators as
we use a megaphone - to amplify sound - but rather as a
means of concentrating “power.” It should be
dotted slightly in one or two places with luminous paint
so that when it is lifted in the air the sitters will be
able to know.
In some circles the sitters all join hands,
but personally I do not favour this. The object is twofold
- first as a kind of mutual check on each other, and second
because it is supposed to assist in generating “power.”
In practice it will be found fatiguing and unnecessary.
A better check on the sitters is to fill the floor-space
with bowls of water and vases of flowers, so that movement
The sitting should open with a prayer, oral
or mental as you prefer. Many people are shy of public praying
and, moreover, public prayer has a tendency to become more
or less a formula and to lack sincerity. For my own part
therefore I recommend a minute of silent prayer. But why
pray at all, you may ask - after all, it is not a religious
Silent prayer or aspiration is recommended
for exactly the same reason that you are recommended, if
you wish to hear a particular radio programme, to turn the
dial on your set until you are tuned in to that programme.
If you just switch on your set without dialling you must
take whatever programme it happens to be attuned to.
Since that is the one thing which we wish
to avoid in attempting to contact the next world, it is
strongly recommended that the members of the circle, each
in his or her own fashion, express the desire to make only
helpful contacts and to avoid all harmful ones. And that,
whether you like it or not, is prayer. To whom you should
direct your prayer is a matter entirely for your own deciding.
Immediately after the opening prayer there
should be music - either quiet singing in unison or gramophone
music. Radio music is seldom suitable since it generally
consists of jive or swing, and in any case is generally
interspersed with talks or remarks. The type of music used
should be soothing and restful, the object being to harmonise
as far as possible the emotions of the sitters. For this
reason, and not because it happens to have a religious connection,
hymn music is exceptionally good provided it is not allowed
to deteriorate into a slow-movement drawl.
The atmosphere you are aiming to produce
should be harmonious, soothing, smooth and yet alert. For
this reason music or singing should occur at frequent intervals
through the sitting.
The sitting itself should last exactly an
hour, and should end, as it began, with a prayer. A definite
break at the end of a sitting is essential. Never, never
Now I have known many circles observe all
these rules and yet fail to get results, and so eventually
break up. It is because they have not observed the last
and most important rule of all - be harmonious. Harmony
amongst the sitters is the one condition that brings speedy
In our own home circle we got very speedy
results because we purposely set out to cultivate harmony
among the sitters. We saw little of each other immediately
before the sitting so that no controversial conversation
might take place. We did not permit criticism of anybody
or anything. We consciously tried to see the best in each
other, and avoided being irritated by mannerisms. We became,
if you like, a mutual admiration society, but we preserved
harmony. There was not a shred of malice or unkindness or
envy or jealousy, or even questioning amongst the whole
lot of us. Tolerance and harmony reigned supreme.
The controls or operators on the other side
of life who are responsible for bringing about the phenomena
necessary in a direct-voice circle cannot even begin their
work until complete harmony is established. If they see
a sincere and earnest effort on the part of the sitters
to produce this state of harmony, they will do their utmost
to help. But if they see little progress towards this end
they soon cease to co-operate. Remember it has taken them
years to study and master this wonderful phenomenon, and
until they have satisfied themselves that the sitters are
of the class that will persevere, that they are earnest,
with no selfish end in view, and that they are willing to
exercise control of themselves and make whatever sacrifices
are necessary to produce the results, the spirit controls
are not likely to waste their time and efforts.
I will summarise the rules as follows:
1. Decide what form of mediumship
you wish to develop (in this case it is the direct
voice), and do not allow members to give rein to any other
such as clairvoyance or trance. This rule is a MUST. The
only exception is when you are instructed to do so by the
spirit operators, who may wish to give instructions through
some member from time to time.
2. Choose your place of meeting
and stick to it. To alter your meeting-room from
time to time is fatal. Even experienced voice circles sometimes
have a setback if circumstances force them to change their
3. Choose your sitters with care,
and keep strictly to the rule, MEMBERS ONLY. Never invite
non-members whilst the circle is developing—not even
experienced mediums. If you want to consult an experienced
medium, do so by visiting the medium, not by having the
medium with you. And let even that be very exceptional.
4. Be regular. Nothing
whatever should be allowed to interfere with the regularity
of the sittings, save only ill health and summer holidays.
This point should be kept very much in mind when selecting
the original members of the circle. If ill health is likely
to make them frequent absentees or if business is likely
to keep them from attending from time to time (a doctor
in general practice, for instance) your circle will suffer
grave delays in development. The sitters must be sufficiently
interested and eager to be ready to make considerable personal
sacrifices in order to keep up regular attendance.
Remember the spirit chemists are using ectoplasm drawn from
every sitter. If, therefore, from week to week one or other
of the sitters is absent then one or other of the ingredients
will be absent. But in the event of unavoidable absence
on the part of a member see to it that his or her chair
is placed in position just the same.
5. Be punctual. Lack of
punctuality indicates lack of interest on the part of the
sitters. If it is a rush for any sitter to arrive on time,
then alter the time of your sitting accordingly. Punctuality
should be meticulously observed both in starting and finishing.
6. Try to avoid a heavy meal
within two or three hours before sitting, and try too to
avoid smoking for about half an hour beforehand. Light meals
may be taken, and a glass of water immediately before the
sitting is sometimes recommended.
7. Be comfortable. Sit
with knees uncrossed, feet apart, with a hand resting on
each knee, preferably with palms upwards. Inconvenience
through either heat or cold will retard progress. It is
sometimes recommended that sitters should dip their fingertips
in a bowl of water and leave them wet just before sitting,
as this is said to facilitate the flow of “power.”
The bowl of water should then be placed in the circle.
8. The black-out must be complete
and absolute. Even light coming through a keyhole
has been known to interfere with phenomena. Later, permission
may be given by the spirit controls for the use of a red
lamp or some other form of lighting, but during development
absolute darkness is essential.
9. Place the aluminium trumpet in
the centre of the circle, preferably standing on
wood such as a small table or a piece of three-ply. Either
mark with a pencil the exact place of the trumpet, or else
attach to the base of the trumpet a small tab which is so
placed as to cover a marked spot or button. The object of
this is so as to be able to observe after the sitting whether
the trumpet has moved or not. It encourages the sitters
and improves their morale when they find, after six or eight
sittings, that the trumpet has actually moved even though
only an inch or two. It is generally recommended to run
water through the trumpet just before sitting.
10. Open with a prayer, oral or
mental. Then let there be singing, preferably a
hymn or some soothing melody. After two or three melodies
there should be two minutes (not more) complete silence.
Follow with more singing or music from time to time. Light
conversation, if not controversial, is good. You should
aim at inducing a perfectly natural and happy atmosphere,
with laughter and conversation and anything that makes for
harmony. But levity and arguments are fatal. Remember that
you have asked clever and earnest spirits on the other side
to co-operate with you in forming a link, that they have
to work hard and patiently, and that all they ask of you
is to provide the correct conditions.
11. Cultivate harmony amongst the
sitters. I have already stressed this point. It
is the most important of all. Everyone has failings, but
it is essential that the members of the circle should make
allowance for each other. A spirit of tolerance, of understanding,
of give and take, of camaraderie, of complete unanimity
must grow up in the circle. If any member offends against
this rule, get rid of him or her quickly, and start all
over again. It will prove to be much better in the long
run. In our own home circle, when we first started, we had
some sorting out to do. My notes show that we had eleven
preliminary sittings, due to sorting out sitters who didn’t
observe the rules as strictly as we wished. On the twelfth
sitting we started all over again, replacing rejected sitters
with ones more suitable.
Our strictness was well repaid. After we had started all
over again, at our fifth sitting my notes show that the
trumpets (we had two of them) were lifted on three occasions
two or three feet from the floor. There was not, however,
sufficient “power” to hold them long in the
Imagine, if you can, the thrill we had at this result and
how encouraged we were to continue with our investigations.
After that we had no difficulty in getting all the sitters
to observe all the rules.
12. Close with a prayer. Even
if you have had no results remember that the spirit operators
have been working during the whole of the hour that you
have been sitting. Show your appreciation by thanking them.
It is only courtesy to do so. Assure them that you will
continue to give them the best conditions according to your
abilities and knowledge. Leave the circle with thoughts
of gratitude, and full of hope for the next sitting. Tenacity
and patience will receive their reward.
And no one can really describe what a reward
it is when the first faint whispers come from spirits in
the next world. Even when you have yourself experienced
it you will still scarcely credit it.
You will have been granted a great blessing;
receive it with gratitude and humility. And have the courage
to spread the knowledge so that others too may gain comfort
and solace. .