Rescue Circles (28) suicides – responsibility in mediumship - rescue work in 1840 - more obsessing spirits.
Derek Acorah recounts a tragic case of his in which the sense of responsibility in mediumship played a great part. In giving a reading to a lady in her thirties, he saw her marriage in difficulty, and foresaw that in about 18 months’ time her husband was going to take his own life and their three childrens’ along with him. This kind of prediction can’t be given to a client, except in the most general terms, and it is difficult to know whether or not such events are fixed and destined to happen. There are many probable futures, and it is not for us to interfere with other people’s lives and choices. So Derek after desperately wondering how he could convey to the lady the tragic events which he saw were likely to take place in her life, he finally gave a prediction in the broadest of terms, saying that “even if a person has their life taken away from them suddenly, either at the hands of another or through an accident, the system remains the same: they go on to live in the heavenly state. Our loved ones never go away; they remain close to us.” The lady accepted most of his reading except for these last remarks which she considered nonsense. However, two years later she wrote Derek saying that 18 months after his reading, her husband had committed suicide by connecting a pipe to the car’s exhaust (muffler), taking the three children with him. She continued: “If it had not been for you, Derek, I doubt whether I would be here today, as I would have brought my own life to an end. I can only thank you for your words and apologize for not understanding. You are a very special man. Long may your work continue.”
Now, could the outcome have been different? Has
anyone on the list had similar dilemmas when spirit
has come through with tragic predictions which
couldn’t be passed on to the client? I have been
present at public readings when a medium has insisted
on given out rather personal information about a
sitter’s marriage breaking up, or other private
information which either should never been made
public, or even spoken about in detail. The medium
would almost force the sitter to accept what she was
saying, leaving them upset and confused.
Sometimes we are given information that we just
can’t impart. Seeing that a person is going to die is
one of them. Possible accidents CAN be talked
about. A person can be warned to drive carefully at a
certain time or place. But to give dire warnings, or
to say that something is wrong with a relationship, in
public, is not the task of a medium. Meher Baba the
yogi teacher was told by a fortune teller that his
blood would be spilt on American soil, and over the
next several years he lived in an agony of
apprehension whenever he was touring the States. He
was eventually involved in a minor car accident, but
that type of prediction is not very useful, and
distracts us from joyful living. General warnings,
yes, or sudden messages from spirit to take another
route, avoid this or that person, or not to eat or
drink this or that, or to tell a person this or that
vital piece of information, that is a direct
instruction from a trusted guide which must be
listened to and action taken at once. Otherwise, we
have to use our discernment, or discrimination as to
what we give out. What do you think?
Now, to go back to the mid-nineteenth century,
and eight years before the murdered tinker started
rapping on the walls of the Hydesville home of the Fox
family, the distraught spirit of a mother who had
murdered her two children was causing similar psychic
disturbances to a family who in the spring of 1840
had just moved into the ground floor of a house in
Moettlingen, Germany. The Dittus family consisted of
three sisters and two brothers, all of whom had
mediumistic abilities. The most psychic was
Theophila, age 25, and she had frequent visions of a
woman carrying a dead child, and the rest of the
family and other tenants heard bangings and shufflings
all around the house. Eventually the parish priest,
Johann Christoph Blumhardt, belonging to the German
Protestant Church, had Theophila removed to another
house, to try and control the situation, but the
phenomena continued at the new location.
Blumhardt’s biographer, Friedrich Zuendel,
describes what happened next:-
“Resolved to end the nuisance by drastic
measures, Blumhardt chose six of the most
serious-minded and responsible men of his parish to
assist him in investigating the occurrences reported.
He himself remained in the bedroom observing
Theophila, while the rest scattered about the building
by twos. Within three hours, twenty-five blows were
struck at a certain point in the bedroom, so violently
as to cause an empty chair which stood there to leap
clear of the floor, the windows to rattle and the
plaster to fall from the ceiling. These terrific
blows which resounded in the street with the
distinctness of the discharge of fire-arms at a New
Year’s celebration, were heard by all the inhabitants
of the village [SO MUCH FOR THE CREAKING KNUCKLE AND
TOE JOINTS THEORY PUT FORWARD BY THE SKEPTICS!]*
The dead woman’s spirit kept returning, wanting
to give her name, and leaving illegible writing on
folded carbon paper [attempts at spirit writing.]
Since Theophila Dittus continued to have fainting
spells, bouts of asphyxiation and high temperatures,
the priest had her kept in isolation at another house,
away from any contact with her family. However, the
uproar recommenced at the new quarters. As soon as
these sounds were heard, she would fall into violent
convulsions, which kept increasing in severity and
duration. Blumhardt and the local doctor, Dr. Spaeth,
visited Theophila more frequently and one day, while
they were at her bedside, her whole body began to
tremble while every muscle in her head and arms
twitched feverishly, although otherwise her entire
frame was stiff and rigid. Meanwhile there were
frequent emissions of foam from her mouth. Suddenly
she awoke and was able to sit up and drink some water
almost in an instant she seemed to have become a
different person altogether.
Day by day Blumhardt grew more convinced that
demoniacal influences [today we’d call it obsessing
spirits] were at work in this matter. As though by
inspiration, therefore on the occasion of one of her
attacks, he stepped up to the patient, forcibly folded
her rigidly cramped hands in the attitude of prayer,
and calling her loudly by name, although he knew she
was unconscious, said: “Fold your hands and pray:
‘Lord Jesus, help me!’ We have long witnessed the
doings of the Devil; now we want to see what Jesus can
do!” After a few moments the girl woke up, and
repeated the words of the prayer; to the great
astonishment of all present, her cramps ceased almost
immediately. But the obsessing spirit kept returning,
causing more violent phenomena. Presently sounds like
finger-tappings were heard all about her, and she
received a sudden blow on the chest which caused her
to sink down backwards. The female shape which she
had seen at her former lodging re-appeared to her, and
this time Theophila revealed the apparition’s name to
the clergyman. It was that of a widow who had died a
few years previously and whom Blumhardt remembered
well in connection with his pastoral activities. Her
manner, while she was alive, had been one of great
dejection, as of one who seeks peace without finding it.
BLUMHARDT Can you find no peace in the grave?
B Why not?
W As a punishment for my sins. I murdered two children and buried them in the fields.
B Do you know of no way in which you can be helped? Can you not pray?
W I cannot pray.
B Do you know Jesus and that he can forgive your sins?
W I cannot bear to hear that name.
B Are you alone?
B Who is with you?
W The worst of them all.
The woman was full of guilt, felt that she was in
the power of the Devil, and had already taken over
Theophila seven times and now she was going to stay.
Blumhardt told her to leave, and Theophila beat the
bed violently with her hands, and the spirit left.
Some days later the obsession returned. At times
it seemed as though hundreds of spirits were issuing
from Theophila in regular relays, whereat on each
occasion the patient’s countenance would change and
assume a new threatening mien. The men who
accompanied the clergyman were pushed about and struck
as though with fists, without being able to see the
source of these attacks. Blumhardt himself was immune
for, as the spirits said, they were not allowed to
touch him. At such times Theophila would tear her
hair, beat her breast, strike her head against the
wall, and do what she could to injure herself. She
would get blisters on her neck overnight, and while
walking in the street, she felt as though someone were
pushing her sides and her head, or her feet were
seized, causing her to fall down; so she suffered
bruises and other hurts.
A few weeks went by uneventfully, then she tried
to hang herself. The next day she was found in a
pool of blood, which however was soon cleared away.
But then the obsessing spirits returned, providing a
chorus of howls and whines:
SPIRITS - Now everything is lost; we have been
betrayed at every turn; you are upsetting everything;
our whole league is broken up; it is all over;
everything is in a snarl; you are to blame with your
everlasting prayers; alas, you will end by driving us
away altogether. There are 1067 of us, and many more
who are still alive. They should be warned. Alas,
they are lost, they have forsworn God and are lost
After this the spirits who appeared showed marked
differences in their behavior. Some were defiant and
filled with hatred for Blumhardt, often uttering words
worthy of being recorded. They felt a dread of the
abyss which they now felt yawned close before them,
and said among other things:
SPIRITS - You are our worst enemy and we are yours.
If we only could do as we liked! If only there were
no God in Heaven!
Most of the spirits who appeared from August 1842
until February 1843 and even later were among those
which fervently longed for release from the bonds of
Satan. They admitted that only they themselves were
to blame for their perdition. Numerous different
languages were spoken by them, for the most part
Reluctantly at first, Blumhardt tried to secure
their release. The widow who had been the first to
obsess Theophila returned and announced that she
wanted to belong to the Savior, and not to the Devil.
WIDOW - That was a terrible fight that you undertook. Great changes have taken place in the spirit world as a result of you recent battles. You resorted only to the word of God and to prayer. Had you tried the
magic or exorcisms currently used among people, I would have been lost. Pray that I may be granted complete freedom from the power of the Devil.
Another spirit, who during his life had robbed
widows and orphans of house and home, came and
requested that he might come and enter Blumhardt’s
garden for a while, in order to obtain a little
After a few more occurrences of phenomena and
communications, Theophila came free of obsession, but
then her half-blind brother and another sister,
Catherine, became obsessed for a while. At one point
toward midnight the girl uttered a series of screams
of despair, each single one of which was maintained
for as much as a quarter of an hour, and which were so
powerful that they seemed to threaten to shake the
house to pieces. Half the population of the village
stood listening in terror to the din. Eventually
even these manifestations died down, and life in the
village returned to normal.
What Blumhardt had experienced were the
manifestations of the low spirit-world through human
mediums. This was a novel experience for the
Protestant priest, and had he not handled the
situation in the traditional way of his church, he
himself would have lost his parish and livelihood, the
family would have been put in the insane asylum, or
they might have tried to commit suicide. As it was,
they all returned to normality.
In modern Spiritualist terms, Theophila Dittus
was a deep trance medium. She would lose
consciousness whenever her own spirit was forced from
her body by strange spirit-beings which then took
possession of her. At the passing out of her own
spirit she would fall down as though dead, and would
be brought back into an erect posture by the spirit of
some person who had entered her body and made himself
or herself manifest there.
The powerful rapping sounds were produced by the
ectoplasm, bioplasm, odic force, prana or whatever
name you like to give it, similar to those produced by
the Fox sisters and other physical mediums, before and
since. [You could say that the birth of Modern
Spiritualism really goes back to the Wesleys and
similar manifestations at Epworth Rectory in the
early 1700s, but I don’t want to start another lengthy
dispute! ] This ectoplasm was surrendered to the
spirit world which used it to bring about those
resounding blows which seemed to be inexplicable to
the observers. The greater the accumulation of
ectoplasm, in the medium, the louder these blows
became, and this ectoplasm was reinforced by that of
the bystanders, as by the sitters in a séance. Since
Blumhardt also, although he was unaware of the fact,
was endowed with considerable mediumistic power, the
manifestations of the spirit world through the medium
were stronger during his presence than they were in
his absence. [This happens, too, in Catholic
exorcisms. The phenomena get more powerful and out of
control because of the very powerful presence of the
priests themselves!] The phenomena of
materialization and the appearance of light also were
brought about by the spirits with the aid of
Theophila’s mediumistic ectoplasm. Her sister
Catherine was no deep trance medium, but went into
part trances only. Consequently her spirit was not
entirely expelled from her body and could hear
everything spoken through her by the strange spirit.
She was able, therefore to remember everything that
had happened, even though she could not prevent the
manifestations themselves, since she was completely in
the power of the strange spirit.
Historically and evidentially contributing to
psychical research, these occurrences with Blumhardt
at their center demonstrate the undeniable fact that
communication with the spirit world exists as a fact.
The events that took place before his eyes were no
delusions and cannot be relegated to the realm of myth
and fable by anyone, since they were enacted quite
openly and could be confirmed by a large number of
witnesses who had seen and heard what went on. The
reality of the occurrences was also the reason why the
church authorities requested Blumhardt to present a
record of the events.
An immediate and practical result of these events
was to motivate the whole village to come to Blumhardt
to confess all the sins of their lifetime. Blumhardt
himself acquired healing powers, and as he prayed and
laid his hands on his parishioners, even the most
chronic diseases were cured. It was wrong living and
thinking that had brought the low spirits to manifest
in this village. The truth of the matter is that
every human being, whatever their religion or belief,
can get in touch with the good spirit world if he or
she is in earnest, and seeking this type of
As the ex-Catholic priest and researcher
Johannes Greber comments on this case: “The one thing
that everyone derives from communication with good
spirits is instruction as to the right path leading to
God. What he [or she] learns is the truth. Whether
or not any further exertions are made on his behalf by
God’s spirits depends in each case on whether the
individual fashions his life in accordance with the
truth imparted to him, and to what extent he does so.
Whoever merely accepts the truth as it is laid before
him by the spirit world but fails to act
accordingly, will receive no further gifts from above.
On the contrary he will lose even what contact he had
at first with the good spirits, which will cease
communicating with him. But whoever receives the
truth within himself and strives to reconstruct his
inner life in conformity with it, will give evidence
of the efforts of the spirits on his behalf, and in
each case, corresponding with the individual’s task
[ ]* Richard’s comments in square brackets!
Sources of information: 1) “The Psychic Adventures of Derek Acorah” by Derek Acorah Element/Harper Collins 2004
2 ) “J. C. Blumhardt: Ein Lebensbild” By Friedrich Zuendel c. 1890 ?
3) “Communications with the spirit world of God: its laws and purpose” by Johannes Greber. Greber Foundation, New York. 1932.
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