on July 17, 2014
`This book is about Stan Walsh, one of Australia’s most respected and talented physical mediums of the early 20th century’. So begins the Foreword to this biography of Walsh -`an ordinary carpenter’ – written by L.C. Danby, one of the sitters in the séances that Walsh held in Melbourne in the 1920s and 1930s. In the Foreword, written by Danby’s daughter, Jo, she tells us that Danby himself held séances at his home in the 1940s. Expressing reservations about many religions because of the human distortions added to them Jo says: `I especially like the spiritual teachings of the Native American who treat the forests, waterways and the air we breathe with the same reverence as they treat the life force of humans and animals.’ In recent decades we have heard the same sentiments expressed by others, notably by the Catholic priest, Fr. Thomas Berry.
Many of the events recorded here are expressed in language that reflects that of the Bible, though this is a book about spiritualism not Christianity or Judaism. Walsh, a lifelong bachelor, was born in 1891 in the small township of Ararat in Victoria, Australia. He spent his adult life in Melbourne with his parents and a sister, and left his earthly body in 1939. He called himself a spiritualist at first but later, guided by Spirit, abandoned this description because there were an increasing number of dubious practitioners.Early in the story, Danby describes how a sceptical Walsh was introduced to spiritualism by one of his friends, a Welsh bread-carrier called Herbert Jones and his favourite (inspirational) medium, Mrs Beames. At his first full home séance with Mrs Beames, Walsh found himself the recipient of a series of automatic writings. I found this inauspicious and humble introduction of Walsh’s new powers quite engaging.
At a subsequent meeting, Walsh was introduced to his spirit guide – an Amerindian called Malocca. Walsh was now set to become a deep-trance medium. Danby is keen to emphasize the difference between mediumship dealing with spiritual matters and materialistic fortune-telling. Walsh, young and inexperienced, at first used his powers for material gain and was rebuked by Malocca for doing so. There is also an interesting incident described that illustrates the `speaking in tongues’ referred to in the Bible when another of Walsh’s spirit guides spoke to a group of strangers, through Walsh, in their native tongue. And there is a whole chapter given to `the power of thought’ – a subject of great current interest with the number of books describing healing by prayer and intention – and others on apports and materializations, and on inspiration.
It is clear that many people found the information Walsh brought through from so many spirits inspiring and comforting, as it will be to readers of this book who have an open mind. This is an excellent and uplifting book. My only reservation would be concerning the negation of the possibility of reincarnation – contrary to a huge amount of physical evidence that this does indeed occur. But as a heart-warming story of a humble and gifted man, and in its reassuring insights into the afterworld, this book makes fascinating reading. The book has a very human approach to Walsh’s biographical details, which helps the reader to take seriously the sometimes bizarre events in which he was involved.
Howard Jones is the author of The World as Spirit