Automatic Writing
Scripts produced without the control of the conscious self.
It is the most common form of mediumship, the source of innumerable
cases of self-delusion, and at the same time the source
of some of the most interesting and intriguing cases of mediumship.
Between these two extremes many problems of a complex
nature present themselves to psychical research. Spiritualists
consider automatic writing to be performed ‘‘under
control’’—that is, under the controlling agency of the spirits of
the dead—and are therefore not judged to be truly ‘‘automatic.’’
Most researchers, however, have ascribed such performances
to the subconscious activity of the agent.
Both automatic writing and automatic speaking necessarily
imply some alternation of the consciousness from the common
waking state in the subject, though such alteration need not be
pronounced, but may vary from a light state such is common
in day-dreaming to a full trance. When the phenomena are
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127
produced during a state of trance or somnambulism the agent
may be entirely unconscious of his or her actions. On the other
hand, the automatic writing may be executed while the agent
is in a condition varying little from waking and he or she may
be quite capable of observing the writing process in a critical
spirit.
Between these states of consciousness and complete unconsciousness
there are many intermediate stages. The personality,
as displayed in the writings or utterances, may gain only a
partial ascendancy over the primary personality, as may happen
in dreams or in the hypnotic trance. As a rule automatic
speech and writings display nothing more than a revivifying of
faded mental imagery, thoughts and conjectures and impressions
that never came to light in the upper consciousness. But
at times there appears an extraordinary exaltation of memory,
or even of the intellectual facilities.
Cases are on record where lost articles have been recovered
by means of automatic writing. Foreign languages that have
been forgotten, or with which the subject has small acquaintance,
are spoken or written fluently. Hélène Smith, the subject
of Theodore Flournoy, even went so far as to invent a new language,
purporting to be that of the Martians, but in reality
showing a marked resemblance to French—the mother tongue
of the medium.
Automatic writing and speaking have been produced in considerable
quantities, mainly in connection with Spiritualistic
circles, though it existed long before the advent of Spiritualism
in the speaking in tongues of the early ecstatics. Though the
matter and style may on occasion transcend the capabilities of
the agent in a normal state, the great body of automatic productions
show no erudition or literary excellence beyond the
scope of the natural resources of the automatist. The style is
generally involved, obscure, inflated, yet possessing a superficial
smoothness and a suggestion of flowing periods and musical
cadences. The ideas are often shallow and incoherent, and
all but lost in a multitude of words.
Among Spiritualists, the best known of automatic writings
have been the Spirit Teachings (1883) of Stainton Moses, and
the works of Andrew Jackson Davis, which dominated the
movement in the nineteenth century. Possibly more important
have been the trance utterances of Leonora Piper, these last
convincing many of the reality of telepathy. Much poetry has
been produced automatically, notably by the nineteenth century
medium Thomas Lake Harris. Among famous individuals
known to have produced automatic scripts are Goethe, Victor
Hugo, and Victorien Sardou, among other eminent men of letters.
How is the power of automatic writing acquired In describing
his first experience at a séance of Frank Herne and Charles
Williams in 1872, Stainton Moses wrote in Spirit Identity (1879)
‘‘My right arm was seized about the middle of the forearm,
and dashed violently up and down with a noise resembling that
of a number of paviors at work. It was the most tremendous exhibition
of ‘unconscious muscular action’ I ever saw. In vain I
tried to stop it. I distinctly felt the grasps, soft and firm, round
my arm, and though perfectly possessed of senses and volition,
I was powerless to interfere, although my hand was disabled for
some days by the bruising it then got. The object we soon found
was to get up the force.’’
The first experience of William Howitt is similarly described
by his daughter Anna Mary Watts in Pioneers of The Spiritual
Reformation (1883)
‘‘My father had not sat many minutes passive, holding a
pencil in his hand upon a sheet of paper, ere something resembling
an electric shock ran through his arm and hand; whereupon
the pencil began to move in circles. The influence becoming
stronger and even stronger, moved not alone the hand, but
the whole arm in a rotatory motion, until the arm was at length
raised, and rapidly—as if it had been the spoke of a wheel propelled
by machinery—whirled irresistibly in a wide sweep, and
with great speed, for some ten minutes through the air. The effect
of this rapid rotation was felt by him in the muscles of the
arm for some time afterwards. Then the arm being again at rest
the pencil, in the passive fingers, began gently, but clearly and
decidedly, to move.’’
Elizabeth d’Esperance wrote ‘‘I first noticed a tingling,
pricking, aching sensation in my arm, as one feels as one strikes
one’s elbow; then a numb swollen sort of feeling which extended
to my finger tips. My hand became quite cold and without
sensation, so that I could pinch or nip the flesh without feeling
any pain.’’ The insensibility to pain was noticed by William
James, and psychologist Alfred Binet verified this partial anaesthesia
by mechanical means.
In Piper’s case the automatic writing began with spasmodic
violence, with sweeping the writing materials off the table. She
wrote in trance. This returns us to consideration of the phenomenon
that automatic writing may be produced either in the
waking state or in trance. There are many degrees of the two
states and blending is frequent, the important point apparently
being to bar the interference of the writer’s conscious mind.
In conscious writing it is the writer who moves the pencil; in
automatic writing it is the pencil that moves the writer. In the
waking state, of course, the writer is fully conscious of the
strange thing going on but must remain passive. He or she may
watch the flow of sentences, but if the writer is too interested
or anxious, the writing becomes disconnected, words are left
out, or the meaning becomes unintelligible. It is best for the
writer to be occupied with something else, like Moses, who kept
on writing consciously with his right hand while his left was in
control of his ‘‘communicators.’’ All this, however, varies considerably
with different mediums. Nearly every automatic writer
has conditions of his own. Accordingly, the script, which at
first is hardly more than erratic markings on the paper, discloses
many curious features. The medium may have an impression
of the sense of the communication or may not. The
text may be couched in tongues unknown, and the character of
the writing may be his own or a strange one. It may be so minute
that a strong magnifying glass will be necessary for reading
it; it may be mirror writing, if the power is applied from underneath
the hand; it may come upside down if the horizontal direction
is changed to face a particular sitter; the words may be
written in a reverse order, as ‘‘latipsoh’’ for ‘‘hospital’’; and it
may be executed at tremendous speed. The automatic communications
alleged to originate from Philip the Evangelist,
Cleophas, and Frederic William Henry Myers, obtained by
Geraldine Dorothy Cummins, were sometimes delivered at
the extraordinary speed of two thousand words per hour.
Automatic Writing from Living Communicators
A question of paramount importance, especially for Spiritualists,
has been the source of the automatic communications.
Could they originate from an extraneous mind This need not
necessarily be discarnate. There are cases on record that suggest
the contents of the script may emanate from the mind of
a living individual. William T. Stead, who developed the power
of automatic writing, often received such curious messages
from many of his friends for a period of 15 years. He said that,
as a rule, these messages were astonishingly correct and the fact
of such communication with the living was as well established
for him as the existence of wireless telegraphy. He made it a
subject of experimental investigation and found that sometimes
the messages so transmitted even came against the direct
intention of the agent. He called the phenomenon ‘‘automatic
telepathy’’ and asserted that he knew at least ten other automatic
writers who received similar messages.
Felicia R. Scatcherd was apparently one of them. She is
quoted in James Coates’s book Has W. T. Stead Returned
(1913) as follows
‘‘Then came a new phase; I was the recipient of messages
from the living—mostly strangers engaged in public affairs,
and was startled into a perception of the scientific value of these
phenomena. When at a dinner in Paris I met a famous scientist
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128
who, in his after-dinner remarks, expressed the identical sentiments
I had received as coming from him, many months earlier,
in a language with which I was then ill-acquainted. There
was no mistake about it. Knowing I should meet him, I had my
written record with me, taken down in shorthand and copied
in longhand as soon as possible, as was my invariable practice.
I disliked receiving information in this way, but could not help
it. If I refused these confidences, nothing else came. However,
I became more reconciled to it when I found I could often be
of service, in one instance preventing suicide, in others forestalling
various casualties.’’
To Stead’s direct question ‘‘How is it that a person will tell
me things with my hand that he would never tell me with his
tongue’’, his dead friend Julia replied through automatic writing
that the real self will never communicate any intelligence
whatever except what it wishes to communicate, but the real self
is very different from the physical self, it sits behind the physical
senses and the mind, using either as it pleases. ‘‘I find,’’ said
Stead in a lecture before the London Spiritualist Alliance in
1913, ‘‘that there are some who will communicate with extraordinary
accuracy, so much so that out of a hundred statements
there would not be more than one which would be erroneous.
I find some who, though they will sign their names correctly,
apparently in their own character, make statements that are entirely
false.’’ To his question ‘‘if the real self does not communicate
any intelligence except at its volition, how is it that I can
get an answer from my friend without his knowing anything
about it’’ Julia returned the answer that ‘‘the real self does not
always take the trouble when he has communicated a thing by
the mind through the hand to inform the physical brain that
he has done so.’’ In one case the message Stead received from
a living friend referred to a calamity that happened three days
later.
Stead’s theory of automatic telepathy appears to have been
borne out in experiments with the planchette, as recorded in
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (vol. 2, p. 235).
A long series of communications between Rev. P. H. Newnham,
Vicar of Maker, Devonport, and his wife, indicate that Mrs.
Newnham’s hand wrote replies to questions of her husband’s
that she neither heard nor saw.
An even more remarkable illustration is to be found in Frederick
Bligh Bond’s experiences with S., a woman who figures
in the history of the Glastonbury scripts. As Bond wrote in Psychic
Research, April 1929
‘‘I noticed a very curious thing. The communications which
she sent me began more and more to follow the line of my current
archaeological enquiry. And after we had met once in the
summer of that year, this tendency became increasingly obvious.
There was some sort of mental rapport of attunement apparently
present, and this I attributed to the dominance in both
our minds of a very specialized line of interest. On one or two
occasions in 1922 this correspondence became more pronounced
and the communications took the form of answers to
questions which were in my mind, though not consciously
formulated. . . . Finally a very strange thing happened. I had
a letter from S. in which she sent me a writing she had received
automatically in the form of a letter addressed to her by myself
and signed with my name, although not in my
handwriting. . . . I was and am totally unconscious of having
mentally addressed it.’’
Nevertheless, such communications from the living are
comparatively very rare. There is no doubt that, whether the
contents disclose a rambling mind or powers of lucid reason,
most of the automatic scripts represent a subconscious uprush.
Therefore, in judging such scripts the standard of evidence
should be very strict. So much more so as automatic writing is
known to have been produced by post-hypnotic suggestion.
Automatic Writing Through Hypnotic Suggestion
Edmund Gurney was the first to conduct such experiments.
When in trance, his subject was given the suggestion to write ‘‘It
has begun snowing again’’ after regaining consciousness. When
awakened, the subject wrote with a planchette, while his waking
self was entirely unaware of what he was doing, ‘‘It has begun
snowing.’’ Similar experiments were initiated independently by
Pierre Janet in France.
The primary personality will repudiate the authorship of
such scripts and it will also say that they cannot emanate from
it because there are things in the automatic writings it never
knew. Another curious feature of these experimental scripts is
that manufactured personalities, dwelling in separate streams
of consciousness according to the depth of hypnotism, will
sometimes obstinately cling to their fictitious names and refuse
to admit that they are only portions of the automatist himself.
In incidents of multiple personality the case is still stronger.
The unexpectedness of an automatically received message
is yet no proof for its extraneous origin. As Myers suggested,
two separate strata of intelligences may be concerned. Besides,
automatic writing is often obtained by the collaboration of two
people who touch the planchette simultaneously or one touches
the wrist of the other during the process of writing. The
source of the messages in such cases may be found in a combined
fountain of subconsciousness.
The Identity of Communicators
Eugene Rochas recorded a case where the communicator of
the automatic script was found to be a fictional being, a character
from a novel. Extreme Spiritualists would attribute such
messages to lying spirits, the occultist to thoughtforms, endowed
with temporary intelligence. It is very likely, however,
that nothing more than a dream of the subconscious had been
witnessed in the case. Speculative possibilities are well illustrated
by the mediumship of Hélène Smith. If the claim of reincarnation
and exceptional remembrance of a preincarnate state
were to be admitted, both the information contained in the
script and the question of the communicators as preincarnate
personalities would have to be considered in this light.
The difference in the character of the automatic writing
alone does not prove the presence of an outside entity. Charles
Richet proved in experiments, considered classics, that the
new personality he created by hypnotic suggestion completely
transformed the handwriting of two hypnotized subjects.
The reproduction of the handwriting of the deceased is a
much stronger but, in itself, not yet decisive point. Strict evidentiality
requires that this resemblance should not be loosely
asserted and that the medium should not have seen the writing
of the alleged communicator, as hypnotic experiments reveal
uncanny powers of perception and retention on the part of the
subconscious mind. In the Blanche Abercromby case of Stainton
Moses’s mediumship, F. W. H. Myers found every requirement
satisfactory as both the woman’s son and a handwriting
expert found the spirit writing identical to that by the woman
when living.
The analysis is not an easy task as sometimes the handwriting
shows the characteristics of two controls and yet the essential
characteristics of the medium may also be discernible.
Even simultaneously obtained messages are not safe from
the suspicion that they arise from telepathy. Stead’s communicator,
‘‘Julia,’’ often wrote through Stead and his secretary,
Edith K. Harper, at the same time, but not until the idea was
further developed to cross correspondence only by obtaining
broken off sentences in each script so that they should complete
each other, could these scripts be considered exempt
from the influence of living minds.
Psychometry may offer an indirect presumption. If the
script emanates from an extraneous intelligence, its psychometric
reading should result in the presentation of a character
different from the medium’s. There is no way of telling, however,
to what extent the medium’s influence may blend with the
script and garble psychometric impressions.
The difficulties, therefore, are very great if we set out to
prove that a certain message comes from a discarnate mind. It
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should not only be clear that the contents of the message were
unknown to the medium, but also that they were unascertainable
by normal means. And as we do not know the powers of
the subconscious to acquire information, those instances in
which the information may have been acquired from books
should only be provisionally accepted.
Stainton Moses’ control ‘‘Rector’’ could read books and
proved it in many tests. If a discarnate mind can do so, there
is no à priori possibility that an incarnate mind, freed in trance,
may not achieve the same thing.
Another series of difficulties will be encountered if we consider
the influence of telepathy. A rigorous inquiry should be
held into how far the message could have been influenced by
the knowledge contained in a living mind. If every exaggerated
scruple is to be satisfied we will have to narrow down considerably
the circle of conclusive messages. The revelation of the contents
of posthumous sealed letters, of the whereabouts of intentionally
hidden objects, or the sudden announcement of death
unknown to the sitters may offer a prima facie case that the communications
come from a discarnate mind.
A good case of the latter kind was quoted by Alexander N.
Aksakof. A man named Duvanel died by his own hand on January
15, 1887, in a Swiss village where he lived alone. Five hours
after his death an automatic message, announcing the decease,
was written at Wilna by a Miss Stramm, whom Duvanel wished
to marry, but who could have received no news of his tragic
end.
Nevertheless the enumeration of the many difficulties in the
way of convincing evidence does not mean that the message in
question is worthless if it could have been know to the medium.
Every case has to be examined as a whole. Sometimes the display
of extraordinary erudition or educational training revealed
by the scripts is sufficient alone to establish a claim of
paranormal origin. The banality of a message is usually taken
as a proof of subconscious origin. This attitude is not justified
by any means. If you begin to knock on a wall behind which,
unseen to you, people are passing, there is no telling who will
stop and answer. It may be a fool, a knave, or a man of intelligence
and sympathy, bent on helping and teaching. The recipient
of the message may have confidence in the good faith of the
communicator, but no assurance of good faith alone justifies an
unqualified belief in the intrinsic worth of the messages coming
through. Good faith and ignorance, and good faith and presumption
often go together in this world. There is no reason
to rule out their partnership in the beyond.
The question assumes a different aspect after long association
between the automatic writer and the communicator. The
latter may succeed in convincing the writer of his sincerity, erudition,
and high moral purpose. He has his own means of identification.
From the sensation produced in the hand the automatist
recognizes the presence of the well-known control of the
appearance of an intruder.
Occasionally the writing is attributed to preposterous
sources. Victor Hugo received automatic messages from the
‘‘Shadow of the Tomb’’ and the ‘‘Ass of Balaam.’’ And Jules Bois
quoted questions in Le Mirage Moderne to which the ‘‘Lion of
Androcles’’ gave the answers.
The communicator often avails himself or herself of the services
of an amanuensis who appears to have more skill in performing
the psychic feat of communication. In the séances of
Stainton Moses, ‘‘Rector’’ acted as amanuensis for ‘‘Imperator’’
and many others, producing a large part of the automatic
script.
In Leonora Piper’s case, the communicators were often unconscious
whether their messages were delivered by the spoken
word or in automatic writing. The scripts of this famous medium
are in a class by themselves. While she was writing, her voice
was being used by another communicator. To quote from Dr.
Richard Hodgson’s report
‘‘The sense of hearing for the ‘hand’-consciousness appears
to be in the hand, and the sitter must talk to the hand to be understood.
The thoughts that pass through the consciousness
controlling the hand tend to be written, and one of the difficulties
apparently is to prevent the writing out of thoughts which
are not intended for the sitter. Other ‘indirect communicators’
frequently purport to be present and the ‘consciousness of the
hand’ listens to them with the hand as though they were close
by, as it listens to the sitters, presenting the palm of the hand,
held in slightly different positions for the purpose by different
‘direct communicators’ so as to bring usually the region of the
junction between the little finger and the palm toward the
mouth of the sitter.’’
In the old days writing was usually mirror writing, which
sometimes was obtained in an unusual manner, i.e., Piper wrote
a name on paper held to her forehead so that the pencil was
turned towards her face.
With the advent of the ‘‘Imperator’’ group of Stainton
Moses, ‘‘Rector’’ took over the role of the scribe for all communicators
and mirror writing only cropped up occasionally.
Sometimes the letters were spelled in an inverted order. The
writing appeared to be less of a strain than speaking and these
séances lasted for two hours or more.
An extremely interesting intellectual aspect of automatic
writing is given from the other side in Geraldine Cummins’ The
Road to Immortality (1932). The spirit of F. W. H. Myers, on the
second occasion on which he purported to write through Cummins,
wrote
‘‘The inner mind, is very difficult to deal with from this side.
We impress it with our message. We never impress the brain of
the medium directly. That is out of the question. But the inner
mind receives our message and sends it on to the brain. The
brain is a mere mechanism. The inner mind is like soft wax, it
receives our thoughts, their whole content, but it must produce
the words that clothe it. That is what makes crosscorrespondence
so very difficult. We may succeed in sending
the thought through, but the actual words depend largely on
the inner mind’s content, on what words will frame the
thought. If I am to send half a sentence through one medium
and half through another I can only send the same thought
with the suggestion that a part of it will come through one medium
and a part through another.’’
The explanation may have been very true in the case of
Cummins, yet it need not have general application. She was
conscious of the use of her brain by someone else. In the introduction
to The Road to Immortality, ‘‘Myers’’ observed
‘‘Soon I am in a condition of half-sleep, a kind of dreamstate
that yet, in its peculiar way, has more illumination than
one’s waking state. I have at times distinctly the sensation of a
dreamer who has no conscious creative control over the ideas
that are being formulated in words. I am a mere listener, and
through my stillness and passivity I lend my aid to the stranger
who is speaking. It is hard to put such a psychological condition
into words. I have the consciousness that my brain is being used
by a stranger all the time. It is just as if an endless telegram is
being tapped out on it.’’
Like any other mediumistic faculty, automatic writing may
appear at a very early age. Mr. Wason, a well-known Spiritualist
from Liverpool, saw the six-month old son of Kate FoxJencken,
write ‘‘I love this little child. God bless him. Advise
his father to go back to London on Monday by all means—
Susan.’’ Susan was the name of Mr. Wason’s wife. Myers and
Hodgson saw a girl of four write the words, ‘‘Your Aunt
Emma.’’ Celina, a child of three and a half, wrote in the presence
of Drs. Dussart and Broquet ‘‘I am glad to manifest
through a charming little medium of three and a half who
promises well. Promise me not to neglect her.’’
Glimpses into Automatic Literature
The claims of discarnate authorship present a delicate problem.
Angelo Brofferio knew a writing medium ‘‘to whom Boccaccio,
Bruno and Galileo dictated replies that for the elevation
of thought were assuredly more worthy of the greatness of that
Automatic Writing Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
130
trio than on the level of the medium I could cite competent
testimony to the fact.’’ According to Cesare Lombroso, ‘‘Dante,
or one who stood for him, dictated to Scaramuzza three Cantos
in terza rima. I read only a few strophes of this but so far as I
could judge they were very beautiful.’’
Many famous writers wrote in a semitrance, having but an
imperfect recollection of the work afterwards. Harriet Beecher
Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, claimed that she did not
write it it was given to her; ‘‘it passed before her.’’ In like measure
William Blake stated that his poem Jerusalem was dictated
to him. ‘‘The grandest poem that this world contains; I may
praise it, since I dare not pretend to be other than the Secretary;
the authors are in eternity.’’ Again ‘‘I have written this
poem from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty or
thirty lines at a time without premeditation and even against
my will.’’
Parts of the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament) were
received through automatic writing, for example 2 Chronicles
2112 says, ‘‘And there came a writing to him from Elijah the
prophet saying . . .’’ In 1833, the book of the German Augustinian
nun Catherine Emmerich, The Lowly Life and Bitter Passion
of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, was accepted by
Catholics as divinely inspired. The remarkable contents of the
book came to her in visions and were noted and edited by the
poet Clement Brentano.
In America one of the earliest automatically written books
was Rev. C. Hammond’s The Pilgrimage of Thomas Payne and Others
to the Seventh Circle (New York, 1852). The book contained
250 octavo pages. It was begun at the end of December 1851
and completed February 1 of the next year. The following year
Judge John W. Edmonds’s and George T. Dexter’s Spiritualism
was published, which also contains many spirit messages. The
same year saw the appearance of John Murray Spear’s Messages
from the Spirit Life, which was followed in 1857 by a large connected
work, the Educator. A year later, Charles Linton, a bookkeeper
of limited education, produced a remarkable book of
100,000 words The Healing of the Nation, which was printed with
Wisconsin governor Nathaniel P. Tallmadge’s preface. In the
following year Twelve Messages from John Quincey Adams through
Joseph D. Stiles was published.
But all these books pale into insignificance before Hudson
Tuttle’s Arcana of Nature (1862), a volume of broad sweep and
scope comparable to the trance writings of Andrew Jackson
Davis.
Two late nineteenth-century cases of automatic writing still
deserve attention. First, when Victorian novelist Charles Dickens
died in 1870, he left a novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished.
T. P. James, an American mechanic of very slight education,
completed it automatically. According to many critics
the script is characteristic of Dickens in style and is worthy of
his talent. Secondly, a few years later John Ballou Newbrough
received through the process of automatic typewriting the New
Age Bible, Oahspe (1882). This volume remains in print, the
scripture of several small but persistent religious groups. Less
than two decades later, Aleister Crowley received a much
shorter work through automatic writing, The Book of the Law,
which has become the scripture for thelemic magicians. In the
next decade, James Edward Padgett would begin receiving the
writings, four volumes in all, which became the scriptures for
the Foundation Church of the Divine Truth.
In France, in the early days of French Spiritism, Hermance
Dufeaux, a girl of 14, produced two surprising books a Life of
Jeanne d’Arc, claimed to be dictated by the maid, and Confessions
of Louis XI. Allan Kardec vouched for the honesty of the girl.
On the other hand, the Divine Revelations of Geneva in 1854, obtained
by a little group of ministers and professors by means
of the table-tipping ‘‘from Christ and his angels,’’ is, according
to Flournoy, insipid and foolish enough to give one nausea.
In England, J. Garth Wilkinson published in 1857 an octavo
volume of impressional poetry. The first continued a series of
automatically received messages deserving serious attention
that were produced by William Stainton Moses between 1870
and 1880. His scripts contained many evidential messages, but
their main purpose was the delivery of religious teaching.
The Scripts of Cleophas, Paul in Athens, and The Chronicle of
Ephesus, produced by Cummins under the alleged influence of
Philip the Evangelist, and Cleophas, bear signs of close acquaintanceship
with the Apostolic Circle, an early American
Spiritualist group which claimed close contact with Jesus’ apostles
and other New Testament characters. Sir Oliver Lodge
claims to have received independent evidence concerning the
inspiration of The Road to Immortality, Cummins’s fourth book,
with communications said to be from the spirit of F. W. H.
Myers.
The quantity of automatically written books is such that it is
difficult to mention more than a few. W. T. Stead’s After Death
Letters From Julia (1914), was widely read by Spiritualists as was
Hester Travers Smith’s Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde (1924).
The Glastonbury Scripts by F. Bligh Bond have an importance of
their own because of their role in actually guiding the excavation
of the medieval site. Other notable volumes from the early
twentieth century would include Elsa Barker’s Letters from a Living
Dead Man, War Letters from a Living Dead Man, and Last Letters
from a Living Dead Man (the probable communicator being
David P. Hutch, a magistrate of Los Angeles), the remarkable
books of ‘‘Patience Worth’’ produced through Pearl Curran
of St. Louis, The Seven Purposes, by Margaret Cameron (New
York, 1918), which unlies the Betty Book literature of Betty and
Stewart Edward White, the anonymous Private Dowding (1917)
(by New Age movement precursor W. Tudor Pole), and the curious
and interesting automatic scripts of Juliette Hervey of
France, which Eugèn Osty studied.
Automatic writing has continued as a phenomenon through
the twentieth century, though only rarely have it attained any
notice, most scripts being privately printed and circulated.
Many of the UFO contactee writings were so produced. With
the emergence of channeling and audio recording equipment,
automatic speaking (channeling) has become a far more popular
endeavor. Among the few products of automatic writing that
have attained some notice would be the several writings of New
Age author Ruth Montgomery, which she received while sitting
at her typewriter, such as Here and Hereafter (1968), A World Beyond
(1971), and Companions Along the Way (1974).
Sources
Mühl, Anita M. Automatic Writing An Approach to the Unconscious.
New York Helix Press, 1963.
Thurston, Herbert. Surprising Mystics. London Burns &
Oates, 1955.

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