Voices, Spirit

Voices, Spirit

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The voices of spirits may be heard in different ways. In The History of Spiritualism (1926), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle refers to the spirit voices heard by Joan of Arc and also comments on the many references in the Bible to such phenomena. Doyle also writes of the reports of ancient statues speaking—such as the statue of Apollo at Delphi—and suggests that the priests of the time were voice mediums.

Jonathan Koons seems to have been the first medium of Modern Spiritualism to have displayed the phenomenon of independent spirit voices, in 1852. The voices at Koons’ direct voice séances were usually projected through a trumpet—again, the first recorded use of the mediumistic tool. A short time later, the Davenport Brothers produced spirit voices, as did Mrs. Mary Marshall and others. The production of such voices seems to have depended upon the building of a voice box or artificial larynx from ectoplasm produced by the medium.

Many times at séances, spirit voices will speak at the same time that the medium is speaking. General Boldero of Coupar, Fife, Scotland, described a sitting at his home with Daniel Dunglas Home in 1870, “Voices were heard speaking together in the room, two different persons, judging from the intonation. We could not make out the words spoken, as Home persisted in speaking to us all the time. We remonstrated with him for speaking, and he replied, ‘I spoke purposely that you might be convinced the voices were not due to any ventriloquism on my part, as this is impossible when anyone is speaking in his natural voice.’ Home’s voice was quite unlike that of the voices heard in the air.”

Sometimes the spirit voices are mere whispers and need such an instrument as the trumpet to amplify them enough to be heard and understood. But at other times they can be very loud. Elizabeth Blake, an Ohio medium, specialized in direct voice séances. For these she used a long trumpet, two feet in length. The small end of this would be placed against her ear and the large, bell end at the sitter’s ear. The voices which came from the trumpet were very loud and it has been said that they could be heard from as far away as a hundred feet.

Spirits speaking languages such as Welsh, Greek, Japanese, and Hindustani have been heard and even recorded. The strength of the direct voice can vary considerably. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle compared one voice to the sound of a roaring lion. David Duguid (1832–1907), a Scottish medium, on one occasion had the spirit voice so loud that it alarmed and frightened the sitters and they asked him to go away! George Valiantine’s guides, Hawk Chief and Kokum, always spoke with tremendously booming voices. In relatively modern times, English medium Leslie Flint produced many spirit voices which seemed to originate from the region of his stomach.

Spirit voices are also projected from the throat and larynx of the medium. In fact this is far more common that direct voice. Spirits will speak through the medium, either in the medium’s own voice or in the voice of the deceased.


Burton, Jean: Heyday of a Wizard: Daniel Home the Medium. London: George G. Harrap, 1948
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism New York: Doran, 1926
Flint, Leslie: Voices In the Dark. New York: Bobbs-Mer-rill, 1971
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