Inspirational Speakers
Trance mediums who deliver impromptu platform addresses
on various subjects, often chosen by the audience, the contents
of which seem to greatly surpass their normal intellectual
power and knowledge. The degree of difference in knowledge
and erudition between the medium awake and in a trance continues
to be (in the case of New Age channeling) one of the primary
arguments in favor of the spirit hypothesis. The history
of Spiritualism is rich in accounts of inspirational mediums.
Among the most famous mediums in the United States were
Cora Richmond (first known as ‘‘Miss Cora Scott’’ and later as
‘‘Mrs. Hatch’’ and ‘‘Mrs. Tappan’’), Emma Hardinge Britten,
Thomas Lake Harris, Thomas Gale Forster, and Nettie Colburn
(also known as ‘‘Maynard’’). They were joined in England
by William J. Colville, J. J. Morse, Anne Meurig Morris, Estelle
Roberts, and Winifred Moyes.
The first American inspirational speaker who visited England
shortly after the arrival of Maria B. Hayden was Emma
Frances Jay (later Mrs. Emma Jay Bullene). Emma Hardinge
Britten mentions a number of additional inspirational speakers
in her survey Modern American Spiritualism (1870), among them
a Miss Sprague, Charlotte Tuttle, Hattie Huntley, Frances
Hyzer, and Mrs. M. S. Townsend. Trance speaker Henrietta
Maynard had a special claim to fame since her oratory reportedly
influenced Abraham Lincoln on the issue of emancipation.
In recent times the concept of trance speaking has experienced
a remarkable revival as a New Age phenomenon, with
the deviation that the New Age channels rarely allow the audience
to suggest the topic for their regular discourses. Familiar
names from the modern era include Edgar Cayce and Jane
Roberts, who inspired a host of contemporary channelers, such
as Elwood Babbitt, JZ Knight (who channels ‘‘Ramtha’’), Jack
Pursell (‘‘Lazaris’’), and Ruth Montgomery.
It is not always clear whether the trance message is coming
from a real or fictitious communicating entity or whether it
springs from a hidden level of consciousness of the channeler.
It is therefore always wise, as with mediumship in general, to
evaluate the phenomenon of channeling on the basis of the
quality of inspiration and on the accuracy of information and
Garrett, Eileen J. My Life as a Search for the Meaning of Mediumship.
New York, 1939. Reprint, New York Arno Press, 1975.
Klimo, Jon. Channeling Investigations on Receiving Information
from Paranormal Sources. Los Angeles Jeremy P. Tarcher,
Leaf, Horace. What Mediumship Is. London Spiritualist
Press, 1976.
Maynard, Nettie. Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist Philadelphia
R. C. Hartranft, 1891. Reprint, London Psychic Book
Club, 1917.
Moses, William Stainton. Spirit Teachings Through the Mediumship
of William Stainton Moses. London, 1883. Reprint, New
York Arno Press, 1976.
Roberts, Jane. Seth Speaks. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. PrenticeHall,
1972. Stern, Jess. Edgar Cayce The Sleeping Prophet. Virginia
Beach, Va. A.R.E. Press, 1967.