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Dead Men's Embers

A History of Spiritualism in York until the 1930s

Dead Men's Embers

Dead Men's Embers

By Gerald O'Hara

PRICE: £14.99

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Thirty years among the dead... from the Minute books of a Spiritualist Society, an amazing and extraordinary account, of how an ordinary group of people could experience a huge range of psychic phenomena. With the supernatural being an everyday occurrence the group formed a society to develop and safely practise the paranormal. Vilified by the public and critics, the Spiritualists fought back against those who said they were involved in witchcraft, demons and possession to assert a rugged individualism in matters of the spirit.

Gerald conveys an exciting account. Starting with the origins of psychic practices in the United Kingdom, he uses this local example as a model for what might have been the pattern of development of the 'grass roots' Spiritualist movement elsewhere in the country. This book breaks new ground by looking at how this group empowered women to a spiritual ministry based on their psychic abilities and explores the expanding role that women played in the life of the local Spiritualist community.

For the first time the role of class within the psychic community is examined. The First World War and its impact on the psychic society are looked at and using a wealth of never before published material the author is able to explore, over an extended period, the experience of attending a Physical séance.

The book is packed throughout with long forgotten accounts of people, séances and illustrations of extraordinary phenomena.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Saturday Night Press Publications (4 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0951453469
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 18.8 cm (7.5” x 9.25”)

"Extraordinary...The author has recaptured a past on the verge of being lost for ever."

"So many weird and wonderful events, no wonder the people in the book were devoted to their cause."

"The book will stand for ever as a model and permanent record of what, ordinary people could experience of psychic phenomena."

"Over thirty years’ worth of memorable events and experiences."

About the author

Gerald O'HaraGerald Tubridy was born of uncertain parentage in Middlesborough in 1951. Two years later in 1953 Jack and Helen O'Hara adopted him. The coronation of that year is one of the writer’s earliest memories. Gerald, now renamed O'Hara spent most of his happy childhood in Marske-by-sea then in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Perhaps, television pre-disposed the lad to an early interest in world affairs. Events such as the 1959 General Election, the election of J.F. Kennedy and the Cuba Crisis of 1962, form some of the author's earliest recollections. Being adopted perhaps gave Gerald an interest in origins and beginnings and may have led to a life-long love of history. The writer was educated in the Catholic way in Redcar and soon realised that the doctrines of the church were to him meaningless. He left school at 15 and following a job offer, he left home at 16 in favour of the fun to be had in 1960's Edinburgh. 

At the age of 21, after a sojourn of a year in Industrial Northern France, the writer left Edinburgh and moved to London. Gerald was overseas for much of the 1970’s and travelled in India twice and throughout most of Europe. He obtained 'O' levels and 'A' levels, taking a degree in Sociology from the London School of Economics in 1979. Thereafter he travelled in North America for a year. Gerald spent 16 years as a self-employed Sales Manager for his own company. Today he works in Insurance and lives in York with his partner of 25 years.

Billy Hope at York

Billy HopeThe minute books record that Hope was first invited to give "sittings" in York on 4th of November 1926 to wit, "'Mr Hope be written respecting a visit from him re- lecture on spirit photography". With the customary carelessness for the interest of posterity, we are not made a party to whether or not Billy Hope and his companion Mrs Buxton did actually come to York. We may presume that some time thereafter Hope and Buxton did indeed come to York as the, by now, York Spiritualists' Centre has preserved a photograph album from 1930 and 1932. The Centre did have in its possession three such photograph albums, two of which are now, sadly, lost during a move and these other two albums, it is thought dated from the late 1920's. The existing album with photographs taken in 1930 and 1932 is a visual record and portrait of the community which has been shown through out this book.

The sitters have left behind them a permanent record as to their experiences of the mediumship of Billy Hope. It is their testament that Hope records upon the postcard photographs. And it is the sitters’ witness statements as to the proof of Billy Hope's mediumship that they have recorded through him upon the photographs. The sitters, through their church became the ultimate collective owners of the photograph album. And it is has remained as a collective portrait of what their community looked like and experienced at that time.  It is unknown, though I believe highly likely, that the individual sitters themselves would also have owned copies of the photographs. Of the photographs themselves there are a few images that contain portraits of non-European faces; these may have been understood to be “spirit-guides” of the sitters.

Mr Pollard and non-European face
An example of a Chinese ‘spirit-extra’ with  chinese writing, on a photograph taken by Hope for an “oriental  who called upon him. Translation.
“With a napkin round the face
And to be laid in a field
Is the lot of the generations of the world.” Recorded. by Rev Tweedale in ‘News from the next world’

Mr Pollard and non-European face
A non-european face which was recognised by Mr Pollard in a ‘cloud’ of psychic energy (York Sept ‘32)

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