Sir Oliver Lodge was a
world-renowned physicist and a fearless champion of survival. One could not
really call him a proponent of the Spiritualist Movement, but he was,
surely, an avid believer in Spiritualist concepts.
Sir Oliver sought to bring
together the transcendental world with the physical universe. He affirmed,
with great conviction, that life is the supreme, enduring essence in the
universe; that it fills the vast interstellar spaces; and the matter of
which the physical world is composed is a particular condensation of ether
for the purpose of manifesting life into a conscious, individual form.
Sir Oliver's first experiences
in psychical research dates back to 1883 and 1884, when he was invited by
Mr. Malcolm Guthrie to join his investigations in thought transference in
His most notable observations
in physical mediumship were made with the famous Italian medium, Eusapia Paladino. He attended four sittings with Eusapia and reported his findings in the Journal of
the Society for Psychical Research, November, 1884. He accepted the
reality of the phenomena observed through the medium, and he wrote the
following concerning his observations:
"However the facts are to be explained, there is no
further room in my mind for doubt. Any person without invincible prejudice
who had had the same experience would come to the same broad conclusion,
viz., that things hitherto held impossible do actually occur.
"If one such fact is
clearly established, the conceivability of others may be more readily
granted, and I concentrated my attention mainly on what seemed to me the
most simple and definite thing, viz., the movement of an untouched object
in sufficient light for no doubt of its motion to exist.
"This I have now
witnessed several times; the fact of movement being vouched for by both
sight and hearing, sometimes also by touch, and the objectivity of the
movement being demonstrated by the sounds heard by an outside observer, and
by permanent alteration in the position of the objects.
"The result of my
experience is to convince me that certain phenomena usually considered
abnormal do belong to the order of nature, and as a corollary from this,
that these phenomena ought to be investigated and recorded by persons and
societies interested in natural knowledge."
Paladino was, allegedly, exposed -- I say "allegedly" because I
do not think all the facts were taken into consideration -- Sir Oliver
stood by his convictions of her mediumship, stating that he failed to see
any resemblance between the Cambridge phenomena (the ones he witnessed) and
the phenomena observed in France.
In the field of mental
mediumship, his greatest source of revelation and enlightenment was
Boston's famous medium, Mrs. Lenore Piper. His
first investigations with Mrs. Piper took place in 1889, when the medium
was tested in England by the Society for Psychical Research. He received
many evidential messages from loved ones, in Spirit, which soon convinced
him that the "dead" still live. His findings were published in
Nineteen years later, when
close friends and associates -- Frederick Myers and Edmund Gurney --
communicated through Mrs. Piper, he made the following comments in his
book, Survival of Man:
"The old series of sittings with Mrs. Piper
convinced me of survival for reasons which I should find it hard to
formulate . . . They also made me suspect -- or more than suspect -- that
surviving intelligences were in some cases consciously communicating;
though, more usually, the messages came, in all probability, from an
unconscious stratum, being received by the medium in an inspirational
manner analogous to psychometry.
"The hypothesis of
surviving intelligence and personality -- not only surviving but anxious
and able to with difficulty to communicate -- is the simplest and most
straightforward and the only one that fits all the facts."
Admittedly, this is a rather
roundabout way of accepting the phenomenon of mediumship, but, nonetheless,
accept it he does.
In September, 1913, speaking
from the Presidential Chair to the British Association, he declared,
"Memory and affection are not limited to that associated with matter
by which alone they can manifest themselves, here and now, and that
personality does persist beyond bodily death."
Perhaps the most convincing
and challenging communications were those which came from his son, Raymond.
On September 17, 1915, the War
Office notified Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge that their son, Raymond, (seen above) had been killed in action on September 14,
1915. On September 25, 1915, Lady Lodge had a sitting with the renowned
medium, Gladys Osborne Leonard. Raymond communicated
and sent this message: "Tell Father I have met some friends of
his." On asking their names, Frederick Myers was mentioned.
Another medium, Alfred Vout Peters, two days later spoke about a photograph of
a group of officers with Raymond among them. Various messages came
from different mediums. On November 25, 1915, Mrs. Cheves,
a complete stranger to the family, wrote a letter saying that she had a
photograph of the officers of the South Lancashire Regiment of which Raymond
was second lieutenant and offered to send it to the Lodges. They
graciously accepted the offer.
On December 3, 1915, Raymond,
communicating through Mrs. Leonard's mediumship, gave a complete
description of this photograph. He described himself as sitting on the
ground, with a fellow officer placing his hand on Raymond's shoulder.
On December 7, 1915, the photograph arrived and corresponded with the
description, given four days earlier, in every detail.
Many other messages came
forward from Raymond, all of which were very evidential to Sir
Oliver and Lady Lodge. Although Sir Oliver had ample evidence of Spirit
survival from the past, the series of communications from Raymond was,
perhaps, the most meaningful to him, very likely because of his personal
involvement and sense of loss and bereavement. He was, unfortunately,
criticized for his books on Raymond. Researchers felt he was too
personally involved to be objective in his observations and assessments.
When Sir Oliver was asked to
speak before the Modern Churchmen's Conference, in September, 1931, at
Oxford, he declared:
"If I find myself an opportunity of communicating I
shall try to establish my identity by detailing a perfectly preposterous
and absurdly childish peculiarity which I have already taken the trouble to
record with some care in a sealed document deposited in the custody of the
English S.P.R. I hope to remember the details of this document and relate
them in no unmistakable fashion.
"The value of the
communication will not consist in the substance of what is communicated,
but in the fact that I have never mentioned it to a living soul, and no one
has any idea what it contains. People of sense will not take its absurd
triviality as anything but helpful in contributing to the proof of the
survival of personal identity."
It is people such as Sir
Oliver Lodge who, over the years, have given great credibility to a field
of study and experience which has, unfortunately, been plagued by shams and
charlatans. To him, we are eternally grateful. Books written by Sir Oliver
Man and the Universe, 1908; Survival of Man, 1909;
Reason and Belief, 1910; Life and Matter, 1912; Modern
Problems, 1912; Science and Religion, 1914; The War and
After, 1915; Raymond, or Life and Death, 1916; Christopher, 1918;
Raymond Revised, 1922; The Making of Man, 1924; Ether and
Reality, 1925; Relativity, 1926; Evolution and Creation,
1926; Science and Human Progress, 1927; Modern Scientific Ideas,
1927; Why I Believe in Personal Immortality, 1928; Phantom Walls,
1929; Beyond Physics, 1930; The Reality of a Spiritual World,
1930; Conviction of Survival, 1930; Past Years, 1932; and My
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