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Metaphysics & Psychology

On The Side Of Angels: The Life Story of Gordon Higginson

The life of medium Gordon Higginson (1918-1993) is described in the 1993 biography On The Side Of Angels compiled by Jean Bassett.  Gordon served as president of the Spiritualists’ National Union for more than 20 years.  He joined the SNU after World War II and once gave a sitting to Arthur Findlay, who bequeathed his Essex mansion Stansted Hall to the union.  The estate is administered by the union as a College for the advancement of psychic science. Gordon’s mother Fanny had also been a medium.  She had been trained by trance medium Annie Brittain.  Gordon began participating in his mother’s ‘development circle’ when he was five or six years old.  He recalled having once glimpsed “a clear vision” of his Black guide ‘Cuckoo’: “That was not her name: it was the way I called to her, then she would call back.  Because of this she chose to be called Cuckoo . . . Cuckoo had always talked to me and often used to come with me to school.”

I became a boy medium when I was 12 years old and travelled with my mother and a speaker.  I had been trained as a demonstrator so needed a speaker to go with me.  My mother worked to develop my mediumship to the calibre she felt was necessary. I became known before the war for giving full names and addresses.  This was considered quite remarkable and widely reported in the papers in the towns where I worked as well as the Spiritualist publications.

Gordon was 18 when he realized he was a trance medium.  He remembered shutting his eyes when he felt drowsy at a Sunday Spiritualist Church service.

The next thing I knew was that the chairlady stood by my side offering me a glass of water.  I thought I had fainted, apologised and said to her, “Am I to give the demonstration now?”  “Yes, after we have sung the hymn,” came the reply.  I asked if the address had gone all right.  “But you gave the address!” said Mrs. Northall. Of course, I told her that I couldn’t have done as I didn’t do the speaking.  She explained I had given an excellent trance address, and moved down the steps from the pulpit among the people.  The spirit control had then given those present a message to be given to me, the medium, when I came out of trance.

The message was for my mother.  It stated she was to find an envelope in which would be found the name of the spirit control, Light, and that this was also my spirit name. Upon telling his mother about the incident, she went to her room and brought back the sealed envelope enclosing a paper with his ‘spirit name’ written on it by Annie Brittain at the time of his naming (the Spiritualist alternative to Christening) — “Of course, the name on that paper was Light!” World War II resulted with Gordon turning 21 while serving in the army.  He commented, “As a gifted medium, I was able to help so many young men who were troubled.”

I made many friends whom I knew were going to survive the war because a medium is conscious not only of the past and present, but also the future as well.  When mediums are working, they are not conscious of time, but are sharing a consciousness of no time.  We are conscious of an existence that goes beyond the present.

During the post war years, his first appearance in London resulted with a couple who had received messages, Mr. and Mrs. Hiscock, confirming the accuracy of the messages in a letter to Psychic News.  In the 1950s, Gordon consistently sat in a circle to develop his physical mediumship at the suggestion of his guides.

I have experienced burns and injury when my seances had unexpected interruption so you see how important it is to know what you are doing before you embark on this type of development. It was some seven years before we were getting good trumpet and apport phenomena; we nearly always had one sometimes two trumpets moving.  We had spirit lights and the movement of objects quite early on . . .

It was around 1964 when the circle started to observe materializations.

We started our seance with an invocation and then had one short hymn.  I would take that opportunity to go into trance.  Once I was entranced, the proceedings were then handled by the spirit guides. Of course, two of my guides have become so well-known to people through my physical mediumship; they are Cuckoo and Paddy.  Cuckoo, as already explained, has been with me ever since I can remember, a great friend to me over the years.  Paddy usually takes charge during physical seances and is very good.  I have another guide called Choo Chow of whom I was aware, but who did not come forward until the beginning of my trance mediumship and seemed to take charge.  It was through him that I became a trance speaker. I have another guide who only comes to me once a year.  He takes over during my regular Christmas Day trance address, speaking about the world and the current and future situations. This guide is Light.  I am named after him in the spirit world.

Gordon began giving public demonstrations with his circle around 1970 with Paddy usually being Gordon’s chief communicator.  Gordon mentioned that not all of the seances were successful.

Early in 1970 my good friend and colleague, Frank Tams, built a cabinet for me to use in the library at Stansted Hall.  The cabinet is not to conceal anything that is happening, but used to focus the energy around the medium for Spirit to utilize in their work.  Although there are curtains, these are usually drawn back so people can clearly see what is happening.

Photo from “Ectoplasm flowing from the mouth.”

Gordon shared his perspective of Direct Voice mediumship:

There are mediums that have provided the direct voice and can be in the normal state of consciousness while working.  But if you follow them, as I have done, you find that in the early stages of development they were a deep trance medium.

Gordon commented that Direct Voice mediums “have to be developed by the link from the Spirit.  They really do the work.  We really do very little; we provide the conditions.  It is work that is direct from the spirit world.” On The Side Of Angels includes Gordon’s reminiscences of observing other mediums’ seances and there are anecdotes of occasions when he worked in association with ‘psychic artist’ Coral Polge.

Of course, there has always been a Spiritualism because Spiritualism is all about facts.  It is about your being here, coming to the earth, living here, having a soul and about a God, which is not a man, but rather a power, a universal mind. I believe that Spiritualism is the oldest known movement in the world.  There has always been a Spiritualism, not as we understand it today, but never the less contact with the higher forces of the spirit world, going as far back as Abraham. Bernard Shaw was another remarkable man.  He wrote: “I am a medium.  When I take my pen or sit down to my typewriter, I am as much a medium as Daniel Dunglas Home or as Joan of Arc.” Many of the so-called spirit writings produced in the name of Spiritualism have within them as many faults and mis-statements as those of old which are venerated because of their stated source rather than their rational content. We cannot, should not, reduce everything to the rational, but we must apply a certain logic when assessing the work of any medium, be they from ancient times or from this era.

Higginson observed that although he was not widely known as a healing  medium, he had considerable success in that field.  The following  excerpt is from Chapter 26 “Ministry of Healing.”

I was always eager to have Stansted Hall used more as a centre for healing, but it never seemed to take off in that way.  I seldom did any healing at Stansted, but concentrated more on my work in my own church.  Most of my healing took place there in the 1950s.  After that I couldn’t be there as often. Healing is part of any church work, but we were trying in all ways to improve everything that Longton church offered.  I started a group to be run under my leadership.  I had a very good spirit helper called Dr. John, who specialised in healing and was a first class diagnostician.  Frank Tams, a very dedicated medium and an excellent healing channel, was to work closely with me in this project. I arranged that Kath Jebb would be in charge of the organisation.  She was a tower of strength in our church.  It is through her that I am able to recall just a few of the many hundreds of people who were helped through my healing ministry.  Kath also kept all the records of the physical circle which met for year in Longton church.  That was a monumental task in itself. It was decided that Dr. John would see the most serious cases.  In the beginning he also gave me healing, but as time went on he started to run the healing more like a clinic and only came in on special cases. Dr. John would receive patients, diagnose what was wrong and very often tell them just how they had got into that condition.  He prescribed what type of healing was needed, which healer was suitable to give a particular patient healing and where the hands should be placed. Kath recorded these instructions and would arrange it all.  If Dr. John wanted to see any person again, she would make an appointment.  It all depended on how serious their condition was.  We were always very busy, especially after people knew that the healing was being run in this way by Spirit. In 1952 I remember a plea for help from a village about 12 miles from our church.  It was from the mother of a young lady called Jean.  She was unable to walk, was crippled with arthritis and also had TB.  Jean was a lovely person.  She had a great sense of humour, but was so frail it was pitiful to see her. She was so young, so pretty and yet lived her life confined to a hospital type bed where there were facilities to lift her without causing her even more pain.  Her mother had heard of some of the things we were doing.  We were her last hope.  They were a lovely family, so close and so courageous.

A photo from the book: Jean.

Frank and Kath went to visit Jean at first.  For weeks, Frank gave her healing.  In the end, he asked if I would go as he felt Dr. John’s expertise was needed.  I agreed and went not once or twice, but many times in the following months. The guides used to talk to Jean.  So did Frank, Kath and I.  We spoke about Spiritualism, about life and death, about the many things which are important to the spirit self.  Jean seemed to have a tremendous insight and gradually gained hope of a different horizon.  I never promised her she would walk again.  I couldn’t because I knew the eventual outcome. I did promise that one day she would join in with a Spiritualist service.  Then the time came when I realised she had not much time to go.  There was part of me that was sad.  Jean was so young, but had suffered so much.  Even with spirit help, we couldn’t change her destiny. I decided that she would see a service, even though I had to make special arrangements for it to be in her own home.  I spoke to our church members.  Bill Harratt arranged some hymns whilst Frank came along and did a reading.  Kath gave a short address and I a demonstration. It was a proper service, even though there were only a few there.  Some of our church people joined us along with members of Jean’s family.  Two weeks later, her time here on earth ended and she passed into her new home.  We had become very fond of this child yet could not grieve. There was a rather marvellous sequel to this which happened only a few weeks later.  In the physical circle I held regularly in our church at that time the voice of Cuckoo was heard, saying, “I have a surprise for you.” The ectoplasm built up, and a form moved to the outside of the cabinet.  A young person with a swirling gown moved gracefully and confidently out towards Kath.  It was Jean! “Look Kath,” she said.  “I can walk!  Look at my hands!”  She held out her hands.  And the fingers were straight and true; those poor fingers so deformed in this life were straight and supple.  Tears of joy ran down Kath’s face.  Other members of our circle who had not known Jean felt the emotion and responded in turn. Jean thanked Bill Harratt for the hymns played at her own special service.  She moved across the room to Sally Morgan, a member of our church who attended the service at Jean’s home, thanking her for the flowers which she gave to brighten her room.  Lastly she spoke to Frank.  “I enjoyed your reading,” she said.  “Please thank Gordon.  He gave me so much happiness.”  “May God bless him” were her last words as she returned to the cabinet.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Toxic Stress — What We Can Do to Protect Our Children from The Global Epidemic

The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Such toxic stress can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.

Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy child development. When we are threatened, our bodies prepare us to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones, such as cortisol. When a young child’s stress response systems are activated within an environment of supportive relationships with adults, these physiological effects are buffered and brought back down to baseline. The result is the development of healthy stress response systems. However, if the stress response is extreme and long-lasting, and buffering relationships are unavailable to the child, the result can be damaged, weakened systems and brain architecture, with lifelong repercussions.

It’s important to distinguish among three kinds of responses to stress: positive, tolerable, and toxic. As described below, these three terms refer to the stress response systems’ effects on the body, not to the stressful event or experience itself:

When toxic stress response occurs continually, or is triggered by multiple sources, it can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health—for a lifetime. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression. Research also indicates that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress response.

Questions & Answers

Is all stress damaging?

No. The prolonged activation of the body’s stress response systems can be damaging, but some stress is a normal part of life. Learning how to cope with stress is an important part of development. We do not need to worry about positive stress, which is short-lived, or tolerable stress, which is more serious but is buffered by supportive relationships. However, the constant activation of the body’s stress response systems due to chronic or traumatic experiences in the absence of caring, stable relationships with adults, especially during sensitive periods of early development, can be toxic to brain architecture and other developing organ systems.

What Causes Stress to Become Toxic

The terms positive, tolerable, and toxic stress refer to the stress response systems’ effects on the body, not to the stressful event itself. Because of the complexity of stress response systems, the three levels are not clinically quantifiable—they are simply a way of categorizing the relative severity of responses to stressful conditions. The extent to which stressful events have lasting adverse effects is determined in part by the individual’s biological response (mediated by both genetic predispositions and the availability of supportive relationships that help moderate the stress response), and in part by the duration, intensity, timing, and context of the stressful experience.

What Can We DO to Prevent Damage from Toxic Stress Response?

The most effective prevention is to reduce exposure of young children to extremely stressful conditions, such as recurrent abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver mental illness or substance abuse, and/or violence or repeated conflict. Programs or services can remediate the conditions or provide stable, buffering relationships with adult caregivers. Research shows that, even under stressful conditions, supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress response.

When should we worry about toxic stress?

If at least one parent or caregiver is consistently engaged in a caring, supportive relationship with a young child, most stress responses will be positive or tolerable. For example, there is no evidence that, in a secure and stable home, allowing an infant to cry for 20 to 30 minutes while learning to sleep through the night will elicit a toxic stress response. However, there is ample evidence that chaotic or unstable circumstances, such as placing children in a succession of foster homes or displacement due to economic instability or a natural disaster, can result in a sustained, extreme activation of the stress response system.

Stable, loving relationships can buffer against harmful effects by restoring stress response systems to “steady state.” When the stressors are severe and long-lasting and adult relationships are unresponsive or inconsistent, it’s important for families, friends, and communities to intervene with support, services, and programs that address the source of the stress and the lack of stabilizing relationships in order to protect the child from their damaging effects.

Additional Reading

The JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress, a project of the Center on the Developing Child, is committed to reducing the prevalence of lifelong health impairments caused by toxic stress in early childhood. Its work addresses the need to develop rigorous, versatile methods for identifying young children and adults who experience toxic stress.

Tackling Toxic Stress, a multi-part series of journalistic articles, examines how policymakers, researchers, and practitioners in the field are re-thinking services for children and families based on the science of early childhood development and an understanding of the consequences of adverse early experiences and toxic stress.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Experiment Demonstrates the Deadly Power of Social Compliance

In his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram discusses in detail the findings of his now famous experiment. Milgram demonstrated just how easy it is to convince an ordinary person to commit torture and murder under the instruction of an authority figure.

Intrigued by the role of Nazi military personnel in concentration camps during WWII, Milgram wanted to know how much coercion people needed in order to willingly inflict harm on another person.

“He asked volunteers to deliver an electric shock to a stranger. Unbeknownst to the volunteers, there was no shock—and the people they were shocking were actors pretending to be terribly hurt, even feigning heart attacks. Milgram found that most people would keep delivering the shocks when ordered by a person in a lab coat, even when they believed that person was gravely injured. Only a tiny percentage of people refused.” [Source]

The suggested conclusion is that people are inherently unable to think for themselves when given a subordinate role in some authoritarian hierarchy, such as the role of the ordinary citizen in a state-controlled world. A documentary of this experiment can be seen here.

The Milgram study was controversial in that some felt the results were skewed in favor of a predetermined bias. In the fifty-plus years since the experiment, there have been no other major research studies to confirm Milgram’s findings. Nevertheless, the presumption that normal people will go as far as to commit murder if they are relieved of responsibility by an authority figure feels inherently truthful in a world of so many organized atrocities.

The question is:

“Can we be manipulated through social pressure to commit murder?” ~Derren Brown

It’s an important question at a time when the converging technologies of AI and social media are affecting individual and group psychology in not yet understood ways. British illusionist Derren Brown recently conducted a similar experiment, this time in a feature documentary for Netflix entitled, The Push.

“This show is about how readily we hand over authorship of our lives, everyday, and the dangers of losing that control,” says Brown, who organized the reality TV-like experiment in which ordinary people were duped into doing things most of us would never even consider.

At the heart of the experiment lies the powerful effects of social pressure and social compliance, along with the individual’s inherent need to belong and fit into society. It also questions the nature of individuality, while demonstrating that many of us simply don’t have the courage to assert our own moral courage when faced with even a slight amount of authoritarian pressure.

The Push begins with a phony police officer calling a cafe worker on the phone and in a quick minute, without even a face-to-face interaction, convinces this person to steal a woman’s baby. Interestingly, the worker carries out the abduction even while expressing significant hesitance.

The main experiment picks up from there, involving unwitting subjects who are gradually convinced of the need to push another person off of a high-rise building. It’s an elaborate setup, which builds upon one small act of compliance after another until the subject is put into a situation where they are encouraged to kill a man they just met.

It’s a rather theatrical and unscientific presentation, but the results are noteworthy as three out of four participants actually shove an actor off of a building, believing they are committing murder, after being pressured into it by a small group of others. It’s a shocking act of compliance and subservience to the pressures of a peer group and a persistent authority figure.

What we don’t know about society today, though, is just how many people are this extremely socially compliant, capable of doing anything to appease the directives of others. As Brown notes, “the more socially compliant a person is, the more likely they are to look to others for signs on how to behave. And the more people, the greater the pressure to join in.”

This says a great deal about humans. Are we somehow wired to abandon our own morals and sense of self-integrity for the false belief that fitting into a group is necessary for survival?

A trailer for this show is seen below.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article (Experiment Demonstrates the Deadly Power of Social Compliancewas originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to DylanCharles and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

A Teacher Pens an Open Letter to Students Planning on Walking Out Over Gun Violence

Watching the ensuing debate after the most recent mass shooting feels a bit like being on a merry-go-round, as though we’ve been here before and said all this before. And that we’re just not getting to the core of the issue, but instead just using this as another opportunity to remind people of our fears.

Something is missing from this conversation.

I saw this letter today from a veteran teacher of 24 years to students who are planning walking out of school to protest gun violence, and I thought it got closer to filling in this gap than anything else I’ve seen in recent weeks.

It’s something to consider, at least, even if it doesn’t magically solve this problem for us all the way.

“Dear Students,

I know you. I am a retired teacher of 24 years. I have taught you as 7th graders all the way through 12th grade. This is not a tweet or a text. It’s called a letter; lengthy and substantial. Do you really want to make a difference? Are you sincere about making your schools safe? Don’t walk out, read this instead. Walking out of school is easy compared to what this letter will challenge you to do.

First of all, put down your stupid phone. Look around you at your classmates. Do you see the kid over in the corner, alone? He could likely be our next shooter. He needs a friend. He needs you. Go and talk to him, befriend him. Chances are, he won’t be easy to like, but it’s mainly because no one has tried to like him. Ask him about him. Get to know him. He’s just like you in that respect; he wants someone to recognize him as a fellow human being but few people have ever given him the chance. You can.

Next, see that kid eating lunch all alone? He could likely be our next shooter. Invite him to eat lunch with you. Introduce him into your fold of friends. You’ll most likely catch a lot of flack from the friends you eat with because they don’t want him upsetting the balance of their social order. After all, who you hang out with is critical to your status, is it not? If status is important to you, don’t you think it’s important to him also? The only difference being that he has no status because generally, shooters have no friends. Are you serious about wanting to make your school safe? Invite him to your lunch table and challenge your friends to do something meaningful with thirty minutes of their lives each day.

Lastly, are you completely frustrated by that kid who always disrupts your class and is consistently sent to the principal’s office? He could likely be our next shooter. Do you know why he causes so much trouble? He initiates disruption because that’s the only thing he does that gets him attention, and even bad attention is better than the no attention he receives from you and your classmates. You secretly wish he would get kicked out of school or sent to the alternative disciplinary school so that he wouldn’t disrupt your classes anymore, that somehow, he would just disappear. Guess what? He already feels invisible in a school of thousands of classmates, you included. So, before he acts out in your next class, why don’t you tell him you’d be willing to help him with the assignment that was just given? Or why don’t you ask him to join your study group? If you really want to blow his mind, ask him for help on the assignment. He’s never been asked that. Ever.

If you’ve read this far, you probably really do care about the safety of your school. Don’t trust that walking out of school will bring an answer. Gun control or more laws is not, and will not, be the answer. You are the answer. Your greeting, your smile, your gentle human touch is the only thing that can change the world of a desperate classmate who may be contemplating something as horrendous as a school shooting. Look past yourself and look past your phone and look into the eyes of a student who no one else sees. Meet the gaze of a fellow human being desperate to make contact with anyone, even just one person. You. If you really feel the need to walk, walk toward that person. Your new friendship can relieve the heartache of one person and in doing so, possibly prevent the unjustifiable heartache of hundreds of lives in the future. I know you. I trust you. You are the answer.

And teachers, my fellow guardians of our youth, I know you too. I know the desire of wanting to make a difference in a young person’s life. I know the thrill of stepping in front of a classroom of students but simultaneously intimidated by the trust bestowed upon you. I also know the crushing, sometimes unbearable responsibility that your shoulders are asked to carry. But that’s why you got into teaching, because you have big shoulders. And a big heart. You’re overworked (I would add underpaid, but you didn’t get into teaching for the pay, so it needn’t be said), underappreciated and exhausted. May I add one more item to that list? You’re also a miracle waiting to happen in the life of your worst student. He could likely be our next shooter. The next time (and there’s always a next time) he’s ready to wreak havoc in your classroom, I challenge you to pull him aside and ask him if he’s ok, if there is something bothering him and is there anything you can do to help? Your genuine concern for him may be just the miracle he’s looking for. The miracle we’re all looking for. I know you. I trust you. You are the answer.

A former teacher who is as heartbroken as you and trusting you not to walk out on the real answer,

David (yes, teachers really do have first names) Blair

I found this posted at KTSA.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article (A Teacher Pens an Open Letter to Students Planning on Walking Out Over Gun Violencewas originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to DylanCharles and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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