"Rain in the Northeast, clear skies to the South, while large portions of the Midwest continue to be blanketed by Shirley MacLaine's aura."
Caption of a New Yorker cartoon ( March 30, 1987) showing a television weather broadcast.
In the halcyon days of spiritualism, a psychic whose vocal cords were seized by a discarnate, or in whose presence the dead were able to speak without using a live mouth--often by talking through a floating trumpet--was called a "direct-voice" medium. In the United States the most gifted direct-voicer was George Valiantine, of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His entities had more than a hundred different accents and spoke in half a dozen languages. One of his controls was Confucius. Valiantine's followers were typically undismayed whenever he was caught in fraud. After a luminous trumpet was found warm on the side and moist at the mouthpiece, doubters were told that spirits couldn't use it without materializing warm hands and wet lips. A thumb print of Conan Doyle, produced in a séance, proved to be a print of Valiantine's big toe.
Today's direct-voice mediums, now called "trance channelers," no longer float trumpets or materialize fingerprints of the dead. Some even speak in their own voices without troubling to acquire strange accents or personality changes. For decades the occult shelves of bookstores have been crammed with volumes supposedly dictated through channelers, notably the popular Seth books of the late Jane Roberts, of Elmira, New York. Roberts liked to fling her thick glasses on the table when Seth, in a deep, booming voice, took over her body. Tam Mossman, formerly her editor at Prentice-Hall, edits a quarterly journal called Metapsychology: The Journal of Discarnate Intelligence, out of Charlottesville, Virginia. (Another channeling journal, Spirit Speaks, is edited in Los Angeles by Mollie Nickell.)
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