Eileen J. Garrett
(1893 to 1970)
Eileen J. Garrett is, perhaps, the most
respected medium of the twentieth century. Her contributions to the
investigation and understanding of mediumship and allied phenomena remain
As a sensitive, she was very
much aware of people's moods and feelings. As a psychic researcher, she
recognized the need for a scientific and an open-minded investigation of
paranormal phenomena. As an author, lecturer, and publisher, she sought to
share her ideas and experiences with the public. As an administrator, she
had a keen mind and a sense of perception for the more mundane aspects of
Any one of these undertakings
would certainly be a career, in itself, but there was something quite
remarkable about this woman which allowed her to pursue all four with
amazing zest, integrity, and effectiveness.
Eileen Garrett was born in
1893, in Beauparc, County Meath,
Ireland. From the beginning, her life was riddled with tragedy. Her parents
both committed suicide shortly after her birth; she was, then, adopted by
an aunt and uncle. In her autobiography, she writes:
"Once I heard my aunt
refer to them as 'poor Anthony and Anna' in a tone that held both pity and
disapproval, and a sympathy for them stirred within me . . . It was
explained to me later that Anna and Anthony were my dead parents. I was
glad then that I had given their names to many living things that I had
Psychic experiences were a
part of Eileen Garrett's life from the moment she saw an infant for the
first time. She sensed and saw around people, animals and, even plants,
various forms of light and energy which she initially termed
"surrounds". She said that she had imaginary playmates, whom she
called "the children". She claims that their appearance was a
very normal part of her life and that she "did not have to go to them
in any particular place, or make any adjustments" in order to see
One day, while quite young,
she saw her favorite aunt, who lived about twenty miles away, walking up
the path carrying a baby. As the aunt approached, she said to young Eileen,
"I am going away now and I must take the baby with me." Eileen
quickly ran into the house to relate this to her adoptive aunt, who
immediately punished her for making up stories. The following day she
learned that her aunt Leone had died in childbirth, along with the baby.
This unfortunate introduction
to death had its impact upon young Eileen. She had many questions
concerning birth and death, none of which anyone, least of all her aunt,
cared to discuss with her. As a means of protest, and in response to some
undeserved punishment, she drowned some ducklings of which her aunt was
very proud. She recalls, "The little dead bodies were quiet, but a
strange movement was occurring all about them. A gray, smoke-like substance
rose up from each small form. This nebulous, fluid stuff wove and curled as
it rose in winding spiral curves, and I saw it take new shape as it moved
out and away from the quiet forms." Thus she became aware, at a young
age, that there was more to life than the physical form, and that this
"more" separated itself from the body, at the time of death.
Illness plagued Eileen
Garrett's younger years. Tuberculosis and other respiratory conditions
flared up frequently, and, at age fifteen, she left Ireland for the milder
climate of England. She stayed in England with relatives and, very soon
thereafter, was courted by an older gentleman named Clive, whom she married
within a few months. She gave birth to three sons, all of whom died at very
early ages. The eldest and second-born sons both died of meningitis within
weeks of each other. The third died a few hours after birth. Eventually,
she gave birth to her daughter, Eileen. Once again her health deteriorated,
and, by the time she recovered, her marriage had ended in divorce.
During World War I, she opened
a hostel for convalescent soldiers. It was during this period that she met
and married her second husband, a young officer who was immediately called
to the front. She had a premonition that this marriage would be
short-lived. In her memoirs she wrote:
"I knew that my young
husband was . . . suffering. In order to find release from the depression .
. . I gathered several friends together and went out to dine. That evening
. . . I had a vision of my husband, dying."
Two days later, he was listed
as missing in action, and, shortly thereafter, he was stated as having been
killed in Ypres.
Again she fell ill, and, while
recuperating, she became friendly with a young man whom she eventually
married, one month before Armistice. She readily admits, "I drifted
into my third marriage without any thought of its being permanent." It
was at about this time that Mrs. Garrett began investigating psychic matters.
Despite all this unhappiness and tragedy, she was obviously being prepared
for her major role in life: that of a sensitive.
One day, during a table
rapping session, she became drowsy and started falling asleep. When she
awakened, she discovered that dead relatives of others in the room had
communicated through her. In spite of her husband's warnings never to
attend such meetings again, she sought the advice of one Mr. Huhnli who took it upon himself to guide Eileen in her
understanding of what was happening to her. At one such meeting, she was
entranced by an Arab soldier called Uvani
who expressed his interest in helping prove survival.
Mrs. Garrett's mediumship had
finally come to the surface, but fear, ill health, and the break-up of her
marriage delayed its development. Despite this delay, she eventually came
to meet J. Hewat McKenzie, founder of the British
College of Psychic Science. It was under his careful guidance, at the
College, that her mediumship blossomed. Mr. McKenzie and his wife, Barbara,
were keenly aware of the need for mediumship to expand well beyond that of
messages from the spirits. They recognized that mediumship could provide a
tool whereby the investigator could delve into the various dimensions and
levels of perception and consciousness. Mr. McKenzie was probably the most
powerful influence upon Eileen Garrett, as well as her attitudes concerning
the process of communication. She continued studying and developing her
mediumship at the College until Hewat McKenzie's
death in 1929.
Marriage was once again in the
offing, and, once again, after a premonition, it ended in tragedy. Both she
and her fiancé became ill on the same day. He died of pneumonia, and she
barely survived a mastoid operation. Confused about what to do, convinced
that her mediumship resulted from nothing more than a split personality,
and quite fed up with the message game, she decided to come to the United
States and seek help from the scientific community.
In the United States, she was
able to make some astounding connections with many noted scientists and
parapsychologists. She subjected herself to intense physiological and
psychological experimentation, hoping that such testing might shed some
light upon the processes of mediumship and psychism. She traveled to and
from the States, searching, studying, and experimenting. When the Second
World War broke out in Europe, she was in France working with children and
refugees. She remained there until the end of 1940, when in a "wholly
spontaneous and of external origin" flash she knew she should leave
and seek other work. Quite miraculously, she arrived at Lisbon and found
passage on a refugee boat to New York.
Her life now took a definitive
course. Within a few months of her arrival in New York, she started Tomorrow,
a monthly magazine of literary and public affairs. She also started the
publishing firm, Creative Age Press.
Eileen Garrett's greatest
achievement was the founding of the Parapsychology
Foundation, in 1951. Her honesty and acumen for business affairs helped
make this one of today's most respected foundations of its type. Over the
years, the Parapsychology Foundation has published several fine journals,
newsletters, and reports, many under the presidency of Mrs. Garrett herself.
In the autumn of 1952, Tomorrow was re-instituted as a quarterly
journal for the study of psychic science. In January, 1955, the Foundation
began publishing its bimonthly newsletter, followed, in 1958, by a series
of Parapsychological Monographs, and, in 1959, by the very
prestigious International Journal of Parapsychology. In March, 1970,
the Foundation began publishing the Parapsychology Review, a
bimonthly review of articles, news, and books. Unfortunately, the Parapsychology
Review suspended publication a few years ago. The Parapsychology
Foundation has hosted twenty-eight Annual International Conferences on
parapsychology and allied sciences.
Eileen Garrett had four trance
communicators. Uvani, a fourteenth century
Arab soldier, was the control of the mediumship. Abdul Latif, a
seventeenth century Persian physician, dealt primarily with healing.
Speaking very seldom and on more philosophic and spiritual matters, were Tahotah and Ramah. These two
claimed no earthy incarnations.
One of Eileen Garrett's more memorable
communications, as a medium, was the case of the R101. Here is what Nandor
Fodor says about this in his Encyclopedia of Psychic Science:
"In a sitting at the
National Laboratory of Psychical Research on October 7, 1930, two days
after the explosion of the R101, Flight Lieutenant H. C. Irwin, Captain of
the airship, suddenly entranced Mrs. Garrett, announced his presence and
gave the listeners a highly technical account of how the airship crashed.
The narrative was taken down in shorthand and a copy was submitted to the
Air Ministry. According to the opinion of experts, a number of observations
in the message tallied in every detail with what was afterwards found in
the course of the official inquiry. E. F. Spanner, the well-known naval
architect and marine engineer, came to exactly the same conclusions in his
book, The Tragedy of the R101."
Despite the wealth of
information and evidence of survival which came through Eileen Garrett, she
was never quite convinced that her mediumship stemmed from a separate
source; an attitude which, in our opinion, made her mediumship so
profoundly wonderful. She was always searching for more information
concerning the secrets behind the consciousness of the mind and its
relationship to the physical organism. She was a prolific writer and the
author of: Adventures in the Supernormal; Telepathy; Awareness; The
Sense and Nonsense of Prophecy; Life is the Healer; and Many Voices.
In the preface to her
autobiography, she wrote:
"I have a gift, a
capacity - a delusion, if you will - which is called 'psychic'. I do not
care what it may be called, for living with and utilizing this psychic
capacity long ago inured me to a variety of epithets - ranging from
expressions almost of reverence, through doubt and pity, to open
vituperation. In short, I have been called many things, from a charlatan to
a miracle woman. I am, at least, neither of these."
This statement best sums up
Mrs. Garrett's point of view concerning her work. On September 15, 1970,
Eileen J. Garrett passed to Spirit after one final and very painful
struggle with bone cancer.
The First Spiritual Temple is
very proud to have hosted Mrs. Garrett on the following dates, for public
lectures and private sittings: December 2, 1955; May 2, 1956; November 13,
1957; and May 13, 1959. Furthermore, whenever Mrs. Garrett was in Boston,
she would stop in at the Temple to bid her greetings.
We remember her as a fine
medium, an astute researcher, a productive writer, and a hard-working
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