Turvey, Vincent Newton (1873–1912)
A British seer who refused to be classified as a medium since
he was never entranced or controlled, did not develop his gifts
(which he was born with), functioned not by mental passivity
but mental activity, and instead of being controlled was able to
control others, as a spirit might. Supposedly Turvey saw phantoms
as a child. One such experience was a vision of his father
while singing in church as a choir boy; the father died at the
same time three hundred miles away. At the age of ten Turvey
lost his visionary faculty.
Turvey studied engineering. In 1902, while engaged in his
profession, he suffered a serious accident. For many years, he
lived alone in his garden, in a tent, and spent ten or twelve
hours a day reading, writing, and meditating on occult things.
The result is described in his own words
‘‘After forty thousand hours on one topic, I think I can claim
to be, in a small way, a yogi. My illness and my meditation have
produced, or awakened, my psychic gifts; and all the Yoga,
Vedic and Gnostic teachings which I now read (and much more
besides) seem to be familiar to me. I seem to have evolved them
in my own mind, during meditation from a sort of ‘memory.’
In fact I often pitch a book away and say ‘Why, I know all this,’
and yet I had not read it before. Many Eastern forms come and
argue with me, and, of course, I learn from them; but they do
not come to teach me as a guru would. They come ‘to help you
to teach yourself in this present life.’ In a word, I am ‘Selftaught’;
but I owe a great deal to Eastern forms, many of whom
visit me and give tests of their identity by talking to me in their
own languages; and I get the messages translated.’’
Turvey affiliated with Spiritualism. The Bournemouth Society
of Spiritualists, of which he was vice president from 1908,
gave demonstrations of clairvoyance at the end of their Sunday
service. Turvey announced from the platform the presence of
spirit visitors before the service was over, so that those who recognized
them could stay for a closer communion.
Supposedly these spirits came to Turvey days before and impressed
their appearance on his mind. Once a visitor appeared
by the side of his bed, which was only a few inches from the wall.
Turvey wrote ‘‘Sometimes, they will come at dead of night and
wake me up; at other times they will come when I am alone in
the tent in my garden, or in my drawing room, or, what is still
more obliging of them, they will look in while passing when I
have earthly visitors with me who can bear witness that I described
the visitants to them, before I went to the hall!’’
Turvey’s 1911 book records his experiences in long-distance
clairvoyance, out-of-the-body travel, predictions, spirit seeing,
and a variation of clairvoyance he termed ‘‘phonevoyance.’’
A voucher was printed in the book by four men who
testified to having inspected the original documents and controlled
their reproduction. The journalist and Spiritualist W.
T. Stead, declared ‘‘Mr. Turvey is a man of truth, that his testimony
is trustworthy evidence as to what is within his own
knowledge, and that the witnesses’ letters which are held for
the scrutiny of inquirers are the genuine epistles of credible witnesses.’’
Turvey, Vincent Newton. The Beginnings of Seership. 1911.
Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1969.