THE WEBBER SEANCES
Vincent H. Gaddis
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During a period of sixteen months, from November 1938 to February 1940, the mediumship of Jack Webber in England produced the most comprehensive series of seance photographs ever obtained in so short a time through the phenomena exhibited by one individual. Jack Webber died in March 1940, after a short illness, which, as far as is known, had no relation to his psychic abilities. A former Welsh coal miner, he was 33 years of age when he passed on.
Many phases of physical phenomena were photographed for the first time by means of the infra-red ray. These included the astral body in an exteriorized state the process of dematerialization, the appearance of an apport surrounded by ectoplasm emerging from the medium's body, the levitation of a heavy table, eotoplasmic cables, and a series illustrating the removal of a sewn-up coat from the roped body of the medium -- unique in the history of psychic photography.
One of the most powerful mediums of our time, Jack Webber's work has thrown much light on the mechanism used by spirit operators. The photographs reveal the spirit "voice boxes" attached to ectoplasmic cables, the gripper tentacles for moving physical objects, and the manner in which apports are re-materialized. Rigid test conditions were maintained at all times. Four thousand persons attended Webber seances in 1939.
The photos were taken by official press photographers representing London newspapers who provided their own cameras and plates, and undertook all process work in their own studios. Faking of photos was out of the question as sometimes as many as 500 persons witnessed the phenomena occurring at the time they were taken. All the work was under the observation of English psychical research societies, various members of the British Broadcasting Corp., and newspaper correspondents. The medium never used a cabinet, but, tied by ropes to his chair, was a member of the circle. A red light was used. Mr Webber had eight guides. The three controls were Black Cloud, an American Indian of the Mohawk tribe, Paddy, a young boy who played with various toys during seances, and Reuben, a South American school teacher in physical life, and an exceptional singer whose voice has been recorded by the Decca Record Co. Ltd.
Infra-red rays were used. A powerful flashlight bulb housed in a light-proof cabinet, one side of which was fitted with an infra-red filter, generated from 100,000 to 150,000 watts. The period of the flash and exposure being from 1/50th to 1/75th of a second. The camera, a box type with a fast lens, was loaded with plates sensitive to infra-red rays. It was found that these red radiations are least harmful to ectoplasmic formations which cannot be produced in the presence of ultra-violet rays. Moreover, infra-red permits photographs to be taken in complete darkness. Camera lenses were left open, and when the control signalled, the pressing of the cabinet switch made the exposure.
Mysterious incidents occurred which may throw light on the use of electrical forces by the guides. Several times bulbs refused to flash during seances, although the circuit was carefully checked both before and after the seance. An unexplained light was once observed near the apparatus. The strength of the red light in the room often varied without human contact  with the rheostat. Once the fuse on another circuit in the house was blown out.
Most amazing, however, was an occurrence in January 1940. In the midst of a seance, a flash of bright light was observed emerging from a levitated trumpet, which then fell to the floor. The control at once called for light. The medium was found unconscious and bleeding from the nose and finger-nails. A Mr Herbert Wright, who was in charge of the light switch in the room and not a member of the circle, received a terrific blow in his solar plexus when the flash occurred. As he staggered he managed to switch on the light as the control called, then dropped to the floor unconscious. During the ten minutes that Mr Wright was unconscious, no respiration could be observed, and clouds of steam arose from his body. His clothing was saturated with perspiration, and a mark (psychic burn) encircled his body, red in color, three-fourths of an inch wide, commencing at the solar plexus and travelling round the body to the point where it began. This burn was painful, but greater pain was experienced by Mr Wright in other nerve centers of his body.
The control later stated that the incident was caused "through joining-up of the force created through the mediumship with the positive wire in an electric pendant near the medium's head." Apparently, too, this excess of power was "grounded" to another person (Mr Wright had some mediumistic ability of his own) to prevent more serious injury to the medium. It might be added that the guides also stated that other spirit intelligences were often present making unauthorized experiments of their own with electrical apparatus present during the seances, and several times the guides asked that electrical circuits be disconnected to prevent interference with their plans.
Outstanding features of the Webber mediumship which were photographed include the following:
The de-materialization and re-materialization of the medium's coat while he was bound tightly to his chair. The astral head of the medium separated from his physical head. The levitation of a heavy table. Ectoplasmic structures, including "voice-boxes" with a cable attached which led to the suspended trumpet for amplification. Ectoplasmic tentacles of a hollow tubular nature with sucker-like ends and finger-like grippers, similar to those observed during the mediumship of Rudi Schneider. The appearance of apports from the medium's body.
According to Webber's guides, there is a difference between ectoplasmic arms and rods. Arms are power cables to the trumpet, carrying sounds from the "voice-box" for amplification, or apports to the trumpet for materialization, and they control the levitation of the trumpet itself. They are soft, wet, warm, and usually coarse in texture, and can be photographed; rods, on the other hand, cannot be photographed because they are arms at a much higher rate of vibration and beyond the rate capable of being recorded on a plate. However, they can be observed at times as a dim ray of light by the human eye; they are used in the lifting of very heavy objects.
Apports, according to these same guides, can be materialized as they emerge from the medium's body or in a trumpet, the latter being the most common method. The object to be apported is de-materialized, surrounded by an etheric envelope, transported to the medium's body, surrounded by ectoplasm and then re-materialized at the body or transported to the trumpet as an ectoplasmic structure over the power cable and there materialized. The medium reported that he often felt a tightness  in his abdomen for several hours before apport phenomena were presented. The emergence of the apported object from the body was in this region.
The Webber mediumship exhibited other startling types of phenomena that were not photographed. On several occasions Webber was transported in trance from the chair where he me tightly bound to the shoulders of one of the sitters in the circle. Absence of weight was noted. He would then be returned. More amazing was the complete de-materialization of the medium's head, hands and arms. The cavity beneath-his coat collar and his empty coat sleeves could be felt, then the missing parts of his body would again materialize in a flash. Once he was levitated in full light, describing a somerset as he was visibly returned to his chair before the eyes of the sitters. Trumpet levitations in full light were often observed.
Materialization of forms and faces occurred. The guides once asked that white powder be placed on the floor before a materialization seance. It was found undisturbed after the seance, indicating that although the forms were certainly physical to the senses of sight and touch, they were not subject to the law of gravity. The fact that these forms seem to glide or float along is of common observation. It is certain that the work of the late Jack Webber furnishes us with much food for thought and a foundation for additional research.
The INFRA-RED ray, a powerful weapon against seance-trickery, has, in this case, produced solid evidence for the reality of spiritualistic phenomena.
("The Mediumship of Jack Webber", by Harry Edwards - leader of the Balham Psychic Research Society - was published by E.P. Dutton & Co., in 1941. It contains 36 photos and sells for $2.50.)
Hence is described the Real Self:
This Self alone stands above, below, west, east, south and north; everywhere all is this Self. He who thus sees, thinks and knows, enjoys this Self, plays with this Self, has this Self alone even for a second, finds perfect bliss in this Self, becomes the lord of all, gains access to all worlds and beings.
Those who understand otherwise, betake themselves to other masters, enjoy only the mortal world of conditions, find no access to all beings and all worlds.
- Edwards, Harry. The Mediumship of Jack Webber. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc, 1941. Print. [Re-ed., 1978: <http://amzn.to/1Bql2JS>]
- The Chandogya Upanishad of the Samaveda, 9th Mukhya of the Upanishads (Dashopanishads) in the Hindu scriptural canon. <http://www.universaltheosophy.com/sacred-texts/chandogya-upanishad/>