Husk, Cecil (1847–1920)
British professional singer and member of the Carl Rosa
Opera Company. Because of failing eyesight, Husk abandoned
his vocation and—having been strongly psychic from early
childhood—replaced it with professional mediumship.
Husk’s materialization séances began about 1875 and were
well known for the number and varied nature of the phenomena.
‘‘John King’’ was claimed as his chief control and had five
subordinates ‘‘Uncle,’’ ‘‘Christopher,’’ ‘‘Ebenezer,’’ ‘‘Tom
Hall,’’ and ‘‘Joey’’ (the latter apparently the same control as
manifesting through medium William Eglinton). Their voices,
according to Florence Marryat, were heard as soon as the medium
entered the cabinet. The subordinates prepared the
manifestations for ‘‘John King.’’
One of ‘‘King’s’’ favorite phenomena was the demonstration
of matter passing through matter. The threading of chairs or
iron rings on the medium’s arms while the sitters held his
hands was a frequently observed manifestation.
One experiment was carried out by George Wyld of Edinburgh
and is described in his book Theosophy, or Spiritual Dynamics
and the Divine and Miraculous Man (1884). For four years,
Wyld had carried with him a specially made oval-shaped iron
ring of five to six inches in diameter. Wyld hoped that it would
be placed on his arm or on a medium’s while he held the medium’s
hand. The size of the ring did not allow its passage over
the hand. Wyld’s wish was finally satisfied by Cecil Husk in
1884. While Wyld held the left hand of the medium, the ring
was taken from his right; the medium cried out in pain, and
when the light was turned on it was found on Husk’s left wrist.
An hour later it fell onto the floor.
Encouraged by this success, Wyld had a smaller ring made.
This was also put on Husk’s wrist while his hand was held by a
friend. The ring was identified by microscopic markings. The
Society for Psychical Research examined the ring and undertook
to force it off if the medium permitted himself to be chloroformed.
When he refused they brought the verdict ‘‘We cannot
infer that it is impossible that the ring should have come
into the position in which we found it by known natural
means.’’ This verdict was based on experiments conducted on
three other men by etherizing them and compressing their
hands with metallic tape. The ring could not be passed over.
Still the investigators concluded that they might have been successful
in the case of Husk.
In 1890, through Cecil Husk’s mediumship, Stanley de
Brath made his first acquaintance with psychic phenomena.
During the following year, at a public séance with about 20 sitters,
Husk was exposed. In the light of an electric tie-pin he was
seen leaning over the table and illuminating his face with a
phosphorized slate. The ‘‘spirit drapery’’ that enveloped his
head did not disappear. The attempt at an apology by Spiritualists
who suggested that a case of transfiguration was taking
place and that the drapery was apported instead of being
materialized proved unacceptable.
In an article in the July 1906 issue of the Annals of Psychic Science,
Henry A. Fotherby describes an interesting materialization
séance with Husk in which the phantasms appeared to develop
from a sort of phosphorescent vapor in the air, dotted all
over with countless minute points of bright light, like little glow
lamps. They were rendered visible by luminous slates that rose
by themselves from the table and cast a weird bluish light on
the phantom faces.
Gambier Bolton recounted an instance when, in his own
house in the presence of 14 investigators, the medium, while
tightly held, was levitated in his chair onto the top of the table.
When Admiral Usborne Moore sat in an initial séance with
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Husk, Cecil
Husk in 1904 a zither rose from the table and soared above the
circle. Its movements could be seen by the phosphorescent
spots on its underside. After two or three swirls it dashed onto
the floor and apparently went through, for faint music could be
heard from underneath.
In the light of illuminated cards Moore witnessed the materialization
of about 15 spirits. He later recounted that the faces
were about two-thirds life size. ‘‘John King’’ always spoke in an
extremely loud voice. This was not exceptional. When a sitter
asked the control ‘‘Uncle,’’ ‘‘Are you using the medium’s
throat’’ the answer came in a bellowing voice close to him ‘‘Do
you think that this is the medium’s throat If so, he must have
a long neck.’’ The voices spoke in many languages. The singing—tenor,
bass, and all the shades between—went on in astonishing
volume even when Husk had a cold.
Moore sat more than 40 times with Husk and only once suspected
fraud. On that occasion conditions were poor and he
was by no means sure that his doubts were reasonable.
Bolton, Gambier. Psychic Force. N.p., 1904.
Moore, Usborne. Glimpses of the Next State. London Watts,