Direct voice mediumship is the independent speaking of a spirit without using a medium’s vocal apparatus. Instead, the voice issues from a point in space near the Medium, or, as was common during early spiritualist Séances, from a trumpet that appeared to float about the Séance room.
The trumpet allegedly acted as a condenser of psychic energy and an amplifier of the spirits’ voices. Without a trumpet or megaphone, the spirits were said to construct an artificial larynx that was activated by Ectoplasm exuded by the medium. Most early spiritualist mediums employed direct voice communication at one time or another; some specialized in it.
Direct voice was introduced in the 1850s by the spirit control, John King, who spoke through a tin horn at the Séances of Jonathan Koons, an Ohio farmer. Koons said he had been instructed by a band of spirits to build a Spirit Room and provide fiddles, guitar, drums, a horn, tambourine, triangle and other instruments.
During Séances put on by him and his wife, a virtual cacophony of noise erupted from the instruments as they sailed about the room. Besides King, other “unearthly” voices sang songs in an indistinguishable language. King also spoke in direct voice through the mediums the Davenport Brothers.
Medium William Stainton Moses described an out-of-body experience in which he saw a “voice box,” or artificial larynx, near the ceiling of a Séance room. And Mina Stinson Crandon, known as “Margery,” reportedly had an Ectoplasmic mass on her shoulder, connected to her ear and nostrils, that enabled her control, Walter, to speak directly.
Psychical researchers often suspected mediums of speaking through trumpets themselves surreptitiously in the dark, or of using ventriloquism. If investigators suspected the medium used a trumpet, they examined the contents of the spirit communication and considered the similarity in voices.
As for ventriloquism, it is not possible to throw one’s voice to a distant location across a room. Some mediums were tested by being asked to hold water in their mouths while the spirits spoke. Sometimes, the medium and a spirit spoke simultaneously, or several spirits spoke simultaneously from different locations.
Direct voice is rare in modern mediumship. Most mediums receive mental impressions from spirits, which they relay in their own voices. Or, they allow spirits to use their vocal cords.
- Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970.
- Fodor, Nandor. An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1966. First published 1933.
- Godwin, John. Occult America. New York: Doubleday, 1972.