‘‘Imperator’’
The famous spirit control of the Rev. W. Stainton Moses,
commanding a band of spirits engaged in a missionary effort
to uplift the human race by teachings through automatic writing.
He first identified himself as ‘‘Imperator’’ on September
19, 1872, but later, yielding to entreaties by Moses, he revealed,
on July 6, 1873, in Book IV of his writings that he was the biblical
prophet Malachi. The spirit control charged the medium not
to speak of his biblical identity (except to those intimately associated
with Moses) without his express permission.
Imperator was seen clairvoyantly by Stainton Moses, and his
appearance is described in Book VI of the writings. His communications
were not written by Imperator himself, but by ‘‘Rector.’’
The signature was ‘‘Imperator S. D. (Servus Dei)’’ or
‘‘I.S.D.,’’ preceded by a Latin cross at first, then later by a
crown.
In 1881 a story was circulated from theosophical sources
maintaining that Imperator was a living man, a theosophical
brother whose dealings with Moses had been known all along
to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Imperator, following Moses’
query, branded the whole story as false. Of Blavatsky he added,
‘‘She does not know or speak with us, though she has the power
of ascertaining facts concerning us.’’ Imperator claimed that he
directed the whole course of Moses’ life and had carefully prepared
him for his role as a messenger.
Complaining of Moses’ unquestioning acceptance of all the
spirit said, Imperator summed up the case on January 18,
1874, as follows ‘‘We are real in power over you; real in the
production of objective manifestations; real in the tests and
proofs of knowledge which we adduce. We are truthful and accurate
in all things. We are the preachers of a Divine Gospel.
It is for you to accept the individual responsibility from which
none may relieve you, or deciding whether, being such as we
are, we are deceivers in matters of vital and eternal import.
Such a conclusion, in the face of all evidence and fair inference,
is one which none could accept save a perverted and unhinged
mind; least of all one who knows us as you do now.’’
‘‘Imperator’’ and Lenora Piper
In 1897 Imperator and his band supposedly took over as the
controls of Lenora Piper. Immediately both Sir Oliver Lodge
and William James raised doubts that they were the Imperator
group of Stainton Moses, since these entities could not give the
names that they had given to Moses. Though Piper’s other controls,
the spirits of F. W. H. Myers and Richard Hodgson, endorsed
them, Lodge countered, ‘‘I conjecture, however, that
whatever relationship may exist between these personages and
the corresponding ones of Stainton Moses, there is little or no
identity’’ (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol.
23., p. 235).
Eleanor Sidgwick (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical
Research vol. 28, p. 71) also rejected their claims for identity.
James H. Hyslop was slightly inclined to accept it. He argued
(Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, vol. 16,
p. 69) that Malachi means ‘‘messengers’’ and that this is the very
function that Imperator assumed through Piper and Minnie
Soule (public name, Mrs. Chenoweth), as well as through Stainton
Moses.
A. W. Trethewy, author of The ‘‘Controls’’ of Stainton Moses
(London, 1923), stated that ‘‘. . . the internal evidence points
to the two groups not having been identical. There are, it is
true, slight resemblances, but they are either so vague as to be
well within the sphere of coincidence where two good bands of
controls are concerned, or they are of a nature to suggest an origin
from the mind of Mrs. Piper or her sitter. On the other
hand, the ignorance and the errors of her controls concerning
the earth-lives of the guides of Stainton Moses whose names
they bore, and concerning important features of his mediumship,
are altogether inconsistent with their claim to identity.’’
Richard Hodgson (d. 1905), in the last years of his life, also
received direct communications from the Imperator group.
Hereward Carrington gave the following character sketch of
Hodgson in The Story of Psychic Science (1930) ‘‘He possessed a
keen sense of humour, and was always buoyant and cheerful,
but would become serious when the name of Imperator was
mentioned. It is now realised, perhaps, that this Personality—
together with Rector and the other members of the group—
played a large part in many people’s lives, and that numerous
old ‘‘Piper Sitters’’ (as they were called) prayed to Imperator for
comfort and guidance—as one might pray to any favourite
Saint.’’
Communications by Imperator were received at a later date
through Minnie M. Soule, and in the 1920s Gwendolyn Kelley
Hack also claimed the control of Imperator in her automatic
scripts. (See the account in the 1929 Modern Psychic Mysteries at
Millesimo Castle.)
Sources
Carrington, Hereward. The Story of Psychic Science. 1930.
M. A. (Oxon) [W. Stainton Moses]. More Spirit Teachings.
Manchester, England Two Worlds Publishing, 1942.
Spirit Teachings. 1898. Reprint, London Spiritualist Press,
1949.
Trethewy, A. W. The ‘‘Controls’’ of Stainton Moses. London,
1923.