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Sir William Barrett FRS - Proof of Supernormal Messages – Communications from beyond the grave



Type of Spiritual Experience


Sir William Barrett FRS

Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science for Dublin from 1873-1910 and one of the distinguished early psychical researchers. In fact, it was Barrett who first initiated the founding of both the American and British Society for Psychical Research.

A description of the experience

Proof of Supernormal Messages

- Sir William Barrett FRS -


I will now cite some further illustrations of the automatic script that came through my friend Mrs. E.'s hand, and in the earlier stages came in the wonderful manner already mentioned; the remarkable point being that Mrs. E. did not know what her hand had written until the paper was turned completely round and the message read. I know of no other case where messages were written in this inverted script, though there may be such. ……..

The following communications are also unlike the usual type, inasmuch as they give us a glimpse,- if they are really veridical of the state of the soul immediately after death. Mrs. E. assured me that these messages were quite foreign to her thoughts, and entirely beyond her ability to compose.

She had lost during the preceding winter a dearly loved brother, who was studying at an Engineering College near London. A friend of his, who had been a sufferer, had pre-deceased him, but no thought of this friend was in Mrs. E.'s mind when one evening her hand wrote:

"I want you to believe your friends live still and can think of you.... On opening the eyes of my spiritual body I found myself unaltered, no terror, only a strange feeling at first, then peace, a comforted heart, love, companionship, teaching. I am     [giving here his full name], and have written this, but your brother     [giving the name] is here and wants to speak to you."

After an interval Mrs. E. felt her hand again impelled to write, and the following message came:

"I am here [giving he, brother's name] and want to tell you about my awakening into spirit life. I was at first dimly conscious of figures moving in the room and round the bed. Then the door was closed and all was still. I then first perceived that I was not lying on the bed, but seemed to be floating in the air a little above it. I saw in the dim light the body stretched out straight and with the face covered. My first idea was that I might re-enter it, but all desire to do this soon left me the tie was broken. I stood upon the floor, and looked round the room where I had been so ill and been so helpless, and where I could now once more move without restraint. The room was not empty. Close to me was my father's father [giving the name correctly]. He had been with me all through. There were others whom I love now, even if I did not know much of them then. I passed out of the room, through the next, where my mother and     were [relatives still in this life], I tried to speak to them. My voice was plain to myself, and even loud, yet they took no notice of all I could say. I walked through the college rooms; much blackness but some light. Then I went out under the free heavens. I will write more another sitting - power too weak now. Goodnight." [His signature follows].

At another sitting, a night or two later, the same name was written, and the thread of the preceding narrative was abruptly taken without any preface:

"I saw the earth lying dark and cold under the stars in the first beginning of the wintry sunrise. It was the landscape I knew so well, and had looked at so often. Suddenly sight was born to me; my eyes became open. I saw the spiritual world dawn upon the actual, like the blossoming of a flower. For this I have no words. Nothing I could say would make any of you comprehend the wonder of that revelation, but it will be yours in time. I was drawn as if by affinity to the world which is now mine. But I am not fettered there. I am much drawn to earth, but by no unhappy chain. I am drawn to those I love to the places much endeared."

Mrs. E. in her normal waking consciousness was convinced she could not have composed them. But the subliminal self, the uprush of which Mr. Myers has suggested lies at the root of genius, has gifts far beyond the power of the normal self and it is possible, though not in my opinion probable, that these communications are only the dramatised products of Mrs. E.'s own hidden and unsuspected powers. This explanation however fails to account for the veridical messages that came through Mrs. E., giving information beyond the knowledge of any persons present; nor can it explain many of the communications that have come through other automatists

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items


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Activities and commonsteps





Automatic writing