One of the most astounding things I’ve ever witnessed was in a séance led by English physical medium Stewart Alexander. Not only was I able to see a hand made of ectoplasm grow from Stewart’s chest – but it touched me.
Ectoplasm is a cobweb-like white substance that a medium releases, which is then used by spirit to assume a physical form. Think of breath on a cold night. Others have described it as looking like "cheese cloth" and smelling like ozone. Search the Internet – there are several wonderful pictures of mediums releasing ectoplasm.
At a recent retreat at Cober Hill, England, Stewart demonstrated the art of physical trance mediumship. I looked forward to Stewart’s séance for several reasons: his skilful evenings are always a treat, and one of his controls is a spirit named Walter, who was a Canadian – one of my fellow countrymen. I’d met the charming Walter at a previous séance, and he was delighted to encounter another Canuck from across the pond.
At Cober Hill, none of the 60 or so people in attendance were disappointed. Trumpets danced across the ceiling, and spirit made their presence known through sounds and other phenomena. But the highpoint of the evening was when Walter called "Carolyn, ma’m," and two other audience members to come forward and sit with Stewart around a small table in front of "the cabinet": a small, square black-curtained area from which Stewart conducts the séance. The front curtain is able to open and close.
Stewart sat within the cabinet, but his hands joined ours to form a circle on the table, which was lit from below by a soft red light. As we sat quietly in the darkness, a concentrated, thick fog appeared to leak from Stewart’s solar plexus area. Oh, my God, I thought, staring intently as the glowing haze slowly coalesced into a hand with webbed fingers and then into a full hand, right before my eyes!
There were gasps of surprise from those sitting nearby. I’d heard stories about ectoplasmic manifestations – my grandmother was the hairdresser for the psychic of former Prime Minister McKenzie King, and she often grumbled about how difficult it was like to clean the ectoplasm off the dining room chair cushions after a séance.
"Hold still, ma’m," Walter said through Stewart, as this large and well defined ectoplasmic hand crawled over the dimly lit table and gently tapped the top of my hand. "Not bad for a man who passed a hundred years ago, eh?" Walter quipped.
I felt lightheaded, a little fearful and apprehensive, being "touched" by this spirit presence. It was so… otherworldly, is the best way I can put it. The "skin" was warm – warmer than my own hand. Then a sensation of heat flowed up my arm and into my heart. I felt giddy, happy. I began to weep. I resisted an urge to grasp the hand more firmly.
Slowly, the hand began to withdraw back into Stewart’s abdomen; I was sorry to see it go. One of Stewart’s aides helped me back to my seat, and the séance continued. Walter withdrew into the cabinet and the rest of the evening was spent connecting some audience members to their loved ones who had crossed over.
I was in a daze and, later, too excited to sleep. The experience had been profound… and a little sad, as I realized physical mediumship is a disappearing art. So few mediums seem to be practicing it these days. Stewart is starting to pull back on his appearances, and that will be a shame for those of us who have come to know him not just as one of the most reputable physical trance mediums around, but as a good and honest soul – and a true friend.