The Barbanell Report
In the 1970s, Paul Beard and Maurice Barbanell
(1902–1981) made a pact agreeing that the one who died first
would attempt to communicate with the other concerning what
he had found in his new existence. Barbanell was the long-term
editor of the Psychic News and Other Worlds, two of British
Spiritualism’s leading periodicals. He was also a medium famous
for his contact with ‘‘Silver Birch,’’ an American Indian,
from whom he channeled messages. Paul Beard was for many
years the president of the College of Psychic Studies, a major
Spiritualist center in London. While the two were acquaintances,
they were not friends, and at times publicly disagreed on
various matters.
Barbanell passed away in 1981. Though several mediums
claimed to have received messages from him, early in 1982
Beard began a series of sittings with Marie Cherrie, a medium
at the college who had never met Barbanell. During these sittings,
which continued for four years, Beard came to believe
that he was communicating with Barbanell, and several years
after the last session, the complete records were transcribed
and published.
While two famous British mediums, Estelle Roberts and
Ena Twigg, made brief appearances in the sessions, as a whole
the conversations adhered to the previously agreed-upon topic.
The expectations were that Barbanell, having been a medium,
would make an easy transition to spirit existence and that he
would be welcomed by Silver Birch. Neither proved the case.
The spirit Barbanell professed some confusion distinguishing
reality and illusion in his new existence and was still not fully
accommodated to his new environment at the end of four years.
Also, while he finally encountered Silver Birch, it was only after
several years had passed. The indication was that with Barbanell’s
death their previous relationship ended, and though he
was close, he did not make contact.
Barbanell did not try to bring through specifically evidential
material. Given the nature of the material, it would leave room
for doubt even from those who knew him. Beard believed that
the process of communication was limited and incomplete and
that unexpected content of the communications would make
an important contribution to the continuing development of
the Spiritualists’ view of the next life.
Sources
The Barbanell Report. Communicated Through Marie Cherrie.
Edited by Paul Beard. Tasurgh, Norwich, UK Pilgrim
Books, 1989.