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the n i n e m o of W n o i t u l o v The E ld e i F l a m r o Paran

to the daily newspapers and the spiritualist press in a deliberate attempt to provoke her husband and the two doctors into suing her for libel, so that she could counter sue. In 1882 Georgina Weldon successfully sued her husband for the restoration of her married rights, but when he refused to return to the marital home, so after a change in the law shortly afterwards, she went on to successfully sue all those involved in trying to have her committed. After the 1900’s spiritualism then evolved in many different directions. Helen Duncans story, is as sad as it is remarkable. Born in Scotland in 1898, her psychic skills were in demand during 1930’s & 1940’s. Using her special gift of physical mediumship she would hold séances both in people’s homes & spiritual churches, where she would produce a physical manifestation of departed loved ones. Despite claims of fraudulence, there are two instances of her mediumship which remain incredible. On two separate occasions she brought forward from spirit a man serving in the Royal Navy. No one who attended these séances was aware that the

man had passed over, and it would only be some hours later that reports of his ship sinking was announced. Helen was accused of fraud in 1933 and she was found guilty and fined £10. Despite this, she continued her mediumship. Until in 1944 one her séances was raided by police. Despite no evidence of fraud being discovered, Helen along with three others was ordered to appear at Portsmouth magistrates’ court charged with conspiracy. With bail being refused Helen spent four days in prison. The case was transferred to the Old Bailey, where various charges were brought including vagrancy, conspiracy and amazingly the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which caused uproar with spiritualists. The trial lasted 7 days, during which many people testified to Helen’s gift. One being Helen able to tell one of her visitors that a family member had just died, later it was confirmed, the passing had happened just two hours prior. Despite the testimonials, Helen was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment. After serving her sentence Helen once again returned to her spiritual work. Then in 1951 the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was repealed and substituted with the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

In 1956 another police raid took place at one of Helen’s séances in Nottingham. The effect of this interruption caused great distress to Helen, (claiming this was caused by the shock of ectoplasm returning to her body too quickly). A doctor had to be called and she was so ill.5 weeks after the raid she was dead. We may never know if Helen was a genuine medium, but the story reflects how the perception of female clairvoyants and spiritualists was perceived even in recent times such as the 50’s and 60’s. We have certainly turned a corner as to how a woman involved in the paranormal is perceived, yet there is still a way to go. Many positive stories have boosted the acceptance that women take their role seriously. Notable women have made a name for themselves, such as Doris Stokes, who was one of the best known and loved clairvoyant psychic mediums. The stereotypical image of a crystal wearing female clairvoyant clothed in velvet, has been replaced by glamorous, intelligent, witty and gutsy females with many celebrity psychics such as Teresa Caputo, Kim Russo and Sally Morgan. Excellent role models for the next generation, but they are not without their

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critics and still have to face much controversy as to the existence of their gift. Daphne and Velma of Scooby Do have done more more for the credibility of women investigators than the petrified screams of Yvette Fielding of Most Haunted however, it has to be said! The image that male clairvoyants have a camp, showy, flamboyant stage presence, does still remain. The more scientific, technical image of the “serious paranormal investigators” as in Ghost Hunters International and the like, has still been considered a far more a masculine approach. Less and less defined by gender, equality now sees women successfully managing their own paranormal events companies, writing and reporting in the media and conducting investigations with the most up to date equipment, whether this is being involved in serious research, or simply for entertainment,one thing is for certain, we will continue our passion regardless of the small mindedness of the minority, safe in the knowledge that we cannot be tried for witchcraft or locked up in a lunatic asylum like our predecessors!

Claire Barrand 67

Haunted Magazine #16 - Women in Paranormal Special  

Women, women, women, you can't live with them but you can get them to write the features for Haunted Magazine Issue 16, and like a female ve...

Haunted Magazine #16 - Women in Paranormal Special  

Women, women, women, you can't live with them but you can get them to write the features for Haunted Magazine Issue 16, and like a female ve...