In my book, WhatsApps from Heaven, I discuss mediums, and my own experiences, both disappointing and amazing. I was lucky, because the amazing readings outweighed the questionable ones. But I write about mediumship cautiously and fully aware that there is a lot of scepticism around. I used to be a sceptic.
The thing is, mediums have a pretty bad press in the mainstream media. The problem, I think, is that the calling attracts charlatans and opportunists, as well as those very special people who have a genuine ability. I have had some amazing readings over the last two years, and these have convinced me that some mediums can indeed access communications from those who have died, but I have had some unimpressive readings too.
This whole area is fraught with difficulty and suspicion. In the mid 19th century there was an explosion of interest in mediums and spiritualism. It was considered a perfectly respectable area of research and drew in such luminaries as Henry Sidgwick, a professor of moral philosophy and one of the founders of Newnham College, Cambridge, my old college. He also was a co-founder of the Society for Psychic Research, which was established in London in the 1880s. I knew that Arthur Conan Doyle, he of Sherlock Holmes fame, had been interested in psychic research, but the list of other members of the “establishment” who also dabbled or researched seriously is long and surprising. And then, some time in the 1920s, support and interest dropped off. I don’t really understand why. Yes, many frauds were uncovered, but of course there were going to be fraudsters working in the area. Was that enough? Who knows? For whatever reason or reasons, studying psi became unfashionable and unusual.
It is only in the last 40 years or so that some brave academics have lifted their heads above the parapet and started to study psi and mediumship again. Mainstream scientific opinion still ignores or belittles the research, but people such as Gary Schwartz have shown that there are indeed mediums who receive information from the dead. If you are interested, I think that the best introduction to the area is Leslie Kean’s book, Surviving Death.
Anyway, I decided, a little while ago, that I would go and see Rachel Rendell again. I had had a wonderful reading with her two years ago, shortly after Patrick had died, and I felt ready for another session. This time, though, the reading did not start well. Instead of Patrick, whom I so wanted to hear from, some woman elbowed her way in. Rachel described her and it made no sense at all. This woman had brown hair and was very forthright. She was a determined and forceful person who insisted on getting her own way. I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who had died and who fitted that description. Rachel said she thought it was my mother-in-law. I had loved my mother-in-law. She was blonde, and a very kind and caring individual who had gently and lovingly looked after all her family. I was heartbroken when she died in 1990. So I denied that it could possibly be her and I continued to deny recognising this person. Rachel persisted and persisted. Then suddenly I had a lightbulb moment. I realised that the woman sounded very like my second mother-in-law, a woman whom I had never met. It just hadn’t occurred to me that someone whom I had never known while alive would try to communicate with me. But then the pieces all fell into place, and it made perfect sense, as did the message she was giving me.
Then yet another woman appeared, and Rachel thought she was my mother, who was trying to thank me for having helped someone with paperwork. Again, this didn’t make any sense to start with, because I was assuming that the person whom I had helped had also died. Then just as we were going to park it, light dawned and I realised that it was referring to someone who was still alive, and once again the communication made sense.
At last we got onto Patrick, and that was lovely. There’s just one thing I will say here. Rachel asked if I had sold an Audi recently. I had just bought an Audi, and I had driven in it to see her, but I had parked some way away from her house, and she would not – could not – have seen it. I said no, I had just bought one, and she said, “aargh, right, I was seeing an Audi and a For Sale sign next to it.” It seems that for mediums the communication is like a game of charades, with the medium trying to interpret the images and scenarios shown. So a confusion between buying and selling becomes quite understandable, I found it remarkable that the message in question (that Patrick approved) referred – accurately – to an Audi, not just any old car, but specifically an Audi. And that is a marque I have never owned before. I was impressed.
I love charades, and always try to play at Christmas. Patrick, on the other hand, hated parlour games and charades in particular. He was extremely articulate and loved words. And I wonder if that’s why he has tried so hard to communicate with me verbally, and has pioneered using WhatsApp to send messages. It avoids him having to play psychic charades with a medium. Suddenly the reason for his WhatsApps makes sense to me. Thank you Patrick!