REPORT OF EVIDENTIAL
COMMUNICATION THROUGH MONA VAN DER WATT
It seems to be the fashion today to denigrate
physical mediumship and its value to Spiritualism. Many of those who hold
temporary positions of authority within what is loosely called 'The Movement'
have never had what I call convincing evidence of the continuity of life. In
fact, when questioned by the media they are extremely unconvincing and often
fail to put the case across. They invariably disappear from prominence as
quickly as they rose.
Indeed, I recall how one speaker/medium at
Stansted Hall openly boasted that she had never received evidence of survival:
she just 'knew'! How can we ever hope to convince others when we lack conviction
ourselves? With such an attitude is it any wonder that we fail to attract, as we
did in the past, people of intelligent and enquiring minds.
After 35 years of investigation - with nine physical mediums and many first
class mental mediums - it is my contention that, if you are really sincere in
your quest and are prepared to keep an open mind, you will always receive the
evidence you need. I will go even further. You will never lose contact with
those you really love.
In this article I want to discuss the first
two physical mediums who made a tremendous impact on my life, namely Mona van
der Watt and Alec Harris, who will be featured next month. Mona, a Scotswoman,
had emigrated to South Africa in 1954 with her husband, Eben, a South African
psychologist and was living in Cape Town when I first met her.
When I was 16 I started to investigate the various religions which advertised in
the local paper on a Saturday. Christianity had the most offshoots so it took
quite a long time to work my way through them. The last one I came to was the
Spiritualist Church where a demonstration of clairaudience was advertised. I
decided to attend. So it was that on December 2, 1959, I received my first
contact with the spirit world.
As I look back now I realise that date had the same impact on me as the March
31, 1848 had on the Fox sisters. Mona had a gift which I believe was unique in
modern times. While demonstrating or in private sittings you could actually hear
the spirit voices talking to her. Although Mona's gifts unfolded without any
obvious development it was eight years before the voices manifested.
Mona told me that at one stage she was given a choice by her guides: she could
sit in complete darkness and develop direct voice, which would be limited to a
small number of people or reach a larger audience, but the voice would be
weaker. She chose the latter. On one occasion she was tested by six doctors. As Psychic
News reported at the time: 'They examined the medium with a stethoscope.
Wherever they put it, they heard the voice speaking. Yet it was impossible for
them to trace the source.' The guide who was entrancing her said that he would
stop her pulses one by one and asked the doctors to verify it. When he finally
stopped the last pulse in her temple the doctors agreed that by their standards
she would be classed as dead. Her guide then said he would put 'power' back into
one finger which he did - and then placed the medium's finger on the forehead of
one of the doctors who immediately collapsed on the floor as though struck by
lightning. One by one the guide restored the pulses and Mona returned to normal.
The reporter told readers that a
high-pitched voice emanated from Mona's left shoulder. At times the voice would
travel across the audience and speak to people from just above their heads, but
that was exceptional. Usually the voice addressed the guide, who then repeated
the communication through the entranced medium. The controlled Mona 'walked
around the hall without faltering. Her eyes were shut, but the guide knew who
was before him.' Occasionally when demonstrating before an international
audience, such as at the International Spiritualist Federation Conferences, she
would wear a throat microphone so that all could hear the spirit voice which
relayed communications to her. During the demonstration, 'everyone had a good
opportunity of hearing the voice mediumship.' For a number of years I spent six
days out of seven attending the various activities of the church and so had an
excellent opportunity of observing her mediumship at very close quarters.
Thursday nights were usually reserved for research and experiments.
I remember one occasion when I obtained permission to place a microphone as
close to her left shoulder as possible. The spirit voices which manifested
sounded like a record being played at very fast speed. The guide then relayed
what was being said. To my astonishment, when playing the tape back, I clearly
heard my grandmother's voice as well as a guide who had frequently been
described to me. Both relayed very evidential messages. An interesting point
here is that this same guide has given evidence of his identity in private
sittings with Gordon Higginson and Gerard Smith.
What I particularly noticed was that though
the gist of the communication was relayed by the guide it was not necessarily
word for word as said by the spirit contact. Her guide often used African words
which when roughly translated meant 'I'm sorry I didn't quite catch that' or
'Give it to me again' which illustrates the difficulty communicators have of
getting an accurate message across. I'm often amused when I hear alleged mediums
saying with absolute confidence 'they are telling me this or telling me that'
when I know how difficult it is to get one sentence over with any degree of
accuracy. At another time a spirit who claimed to be Nobel Prizewinner, Wilhelm
Rontgen, the inventor of X-Rays, gave a talk on the healing rays used by spirit
doctors and guides and, as evidence of his presence, said he would leave a mark
on the medium which would disappear within twenty minutes.
When Mona came out of trance, clearly visible on her hand was the raised shape
of an X which gradually subsided and disappeared. Mona's guides and helpers
repeatedly demonstrated their ability to produce the spirit voice even when she
was more than 1000 miles away. In transit to the 1960 and 1963 International
Spiritualist Federation's congresses, Mona's guide made a promise. While the
medium was on the ship they would link with us in Cape Town during the Sunday
service and try to make the spirit voice audible.
On both occasions it was clearly heard by the whole congregation at some point
during the demonstration of clairvoyance. Week after week the evidence was so
breathtaking it seemed almost too good to be true, yet it was. No super-ESP
hypothesis could explain away her mediumship. It was with supreme confidence
that I would bring sceptics to her meetings and watch with amusement the look on
their faces as they heard the spirit voices and the evidence of survival. Today
I would be hard-pushed to find a medium of comparable quality.
Many people associated with South Africa's political and religious activities
came for sittings. One of Mona's regular sitters was Professor T.J. Haarhoff, a
Spiritualist, medium, healer and classical scholar whom I met at a healing
conference in the early 60's. Haarhoff, a professor of classics at Witwatersrand
University, told me that at sittings with Mona, not only did he receive
information on ancient, now extinct, languages but much of the evidence
confirmed what he obtained from materialisation medium Alec Harris, then living
On one occasion, Haarhoff took a man to Mona requesting a sitting, saying he
would introduce him later. As usual, Mona quickly became entranced and almost
immediately the spirit voices began. The guide said he recognised the spirit
communicator who was present. It was General J.C. Smuts, a former Prime Minister
and national hero. His opening words were 'Hello, Fagan'. It transpired that the
sitter was the former Chief Justice of the Appeal Court. He volunteered that
though Smuts and he had been friends for very many years he had never called him
by his first name, always by his surname. The conversation that ensued cannot be
disclosed, but it is true to say that as a result of that sitting Fagan entered
politics and became a respected Senator in South Africa's Upper House.
At another time Mona and her husband were invited to address the students at
Cape Town University, at which General Smuts had once been Vice-Chancellor.
Knowing the attitude of some students, I was filled with a little foreboding,
particularly when I saw the poster advertising the meeting which said, simply, 'Seance
tonight.' It wasn't the sort of meeting where you could get away with saying 'I
see a pile of books with you - are you studying?' or something equally ludicrous
as I've often heard in Spiritualist churches since. Dr van der Watt (or Van as
we called him) spoke on 'The mind in relation to Spiritualism' which was well
received and he then briefly explained how his wife's mediumship worked. When
she stood up to demonstrate my sense of foreboding disappeared. As the spirit
voice rang round the crowded hall you could have heard a pin drop. The first
contact was for a young man whose brother had drowned. In an emotional reunion,
evidence of his survival poured forth...and I doubt if there was a dry eye in
It set the tone for the rest of the evening. Indeed many of the students became
regular visitors to her home. The demonstration finished with the guide passing
on a message to all the students from General Smuts. He stated there was a group
of former statesmen working from the Other Side to help South Africa. Great
changes were coming and the day would come when she would regain her rightful
place in the world. I can still remember thinking how far-fetched it seemed, yet
thirty years later...! One of the most moving examples of how helpful her
mediumship could be was illustrated in the dramatic account, front-paged in
Psychic News, of how her guide located a missing boy. I knew the family
concerned and saw the emotional outcome so I cannot do better than quote the
story as published:
"The parent - Psychic News did
not reveal her identity - had a heartbreaking story to tell. While living in the
then Belgian Congo she was legally separated from her husband, but was given the
custody of their four-year-old boy. "Soon after the separation, her
husband's brother stole the boy from the front door of her house. With a false
passport, the father took his son to the USA.
"The wife was frantic because she could not get news of her child. She even
made the journey of thousands of miles to the USA. where she searched without
success for two years. Then she returned to her family in Cape Town.
"Every possible channel for help was tried. In turn the mother consulted
lawyers, clergymen and officials responsible for the administration of the
Congo. Alas, because of internal troubles there, all official avenues of help
were closed. Moreover, none of her legal papers could be traced.
"At this stage, almost at the end of her tether, she was brought to Mona.
Her guide gave the mother a message which indicated that the spirit world was
aware of her plight. He said, guardedly in public, that she had lost what was
very dear to her, but this would be found. On no account was she to give up
hope. The message stated that her problem was linked with the USA. "After
the service, the mother asked for a private sitting with the medium. The guide
discussed her troubles fully, saying he knew that she was looking for a child.
The parent would be helped by the spirit world, he added. The guide forecast
that she would return to the USA. At the right time, guidance would be provided.
During the next 18 months, the mother visited the church at regular intervals.
Always similar encouragement was given. At one private sitting, she asked the
guide if she should leave South Africa and go to Israel, to try and make a new
life for herself without her son. She explained that the strain was proving too
much. "'No, you must not go to Israel' said the guide. 'You will find your
child. Just hold on a little longer.' "At the next seance the guide
volunteered, 'Now is the time that you must write, as a mother, to Mrs Kennedy
because she is the first lady of the land, and ask for her help.' "He
stated again that she would return to the USA and find the boy. The mother
complied with the spirit request and wrote to Mrs Kennedy. Later she received a
letter from the American Consul in Cape Town asking her to call at his office.
This official explained that the letter she had sent to Mrs Kennedy had been
handed to the FBI. "The Consul disclosed that, at the time she wrote to Mrs
Kennedy, her husband had applied for a permit to practise as a dentist in
America. Once more she consulted the medium, who advised her to go to the USA,
which she did with the Consul's help. Meantime, her husband was questioned by
the American authorities.
"Realising that something was amiss, he fled again with the boy. When his
wife arrived in America it was a bitter disappointment because she could find no
trace of either of them. Now strained to the uttermost, she wrote to Mona for
help. "The guide replied, counselling her to stay in America. He insisted
that she should continue with her quest and not return to Cape Town. Once more
he repeated his assurance she would find her child.
"The mother then decided to employ a private agency, but alas with no
results. Once more she asked for spirit help. The reply was that she should
write to Mrs Kennedy again and this would lead to co-operation with the FBI. At
the time Mrs Kennedy was the President's wife. "The medium heard nothing
for a while. Then one day her telephone rang. It was the woman's mother to say
that she had received a cable from her daughter. "She particularly wanted
Mona to know that after four years her little boy had been found. The FBI did
co-operate, as was foretold. They succeeded in tracing the husband in Canada.
"Because all her legal papers had vanished in the Congo troubles, the
mother had to go through the ordeal of another court case in Canada before
obtaining full custody of her boy. "When she saw Mona she said to this
medium, 'You gave back my God, peace and hope - and then you gave me back my
little son'". Those of us in the church who knew of the case were delighted
when the lady brought her little boy to say 'Thank you' for all the prayers that
had been offered for his safe return. Another prominent feature of Mona's
mediumship was healing with the help of a spirit doctor who said that on earth
he had been a hunchback. It was noticeable how, when entranced by him, her body
would change showing a quite definite hump.
Each guide had his or her own
characteristic personality which was evident before they spoke. Over the years I
got to know at least thirteen different guides, each specialising in a
particular aspect of mediumship. Only three or four would demonstrate in public,
the others manifesting in private or research groups. I have deliberately
refrained from giving examples of the evidence and help I received which could
probably fill a book but I can say that my father, a renowned sceptic of things
psychic, was instantly healed through her mediumship. After the healing he
demanded to know where the electric heater was, which he said had been placed on
his back. I explained that she had placed only her hands on his back, a fact he
never really came to terms with.
Mona's healing successes were legion but
the most spectacular case was a 12-year old boy in 1970. Blind from the age of
four, his sight was restored during a public demonstration at Durban's City
Hall. When I left South Africa in 1965, her guide promised to confirm his
identity through another medium. It was 1974 before the spirit promise was
fulfilled. Travelling in a car to Euston station with Gordon Higginson, he
suddenly turned to me and relayed a message from Mona's guide. Again, in 1978,
through the mediumship of Betty Wakeling, at a public demonstration, he not only
stated that he had been responsible for bringing me into Spiritualism, but even
gave the name of the medium. Mona's philosophy was based on the biblical
injunction to 'comfort the mourner, bind the broken-hearted and heal the sick'
all of which I have tried to illustrate. Mona van der Watt passed to the Spirit
World in August, 1980 but within days made her return through Edinburgh medium,
Mary Duffy. At that time news of Mona's passing, in South Africa, had not been
made public. In a trance sitting Mrs Duffy's guide indicated Mona's spirit
presence without naming her, but said she was a medium who came from the same
city as mine does.' Mona's mediumistic career began in Edinburgh.
A little later that year Mona and her guide manifested at a Silver Birch sitting
which I was privileged to attend. She has since continued to communicate through
Betty Wakeling, Mary Duffy, Gordon Higginson and regularly through Gerard Smith.
In fact at a private sitting with Gordon Higginson, both Maurice Barbanell and
his guide, Silver Birch, returned with some extremely good evidence.
Barbanell also stated that he had met Mona on the Other Side, and had recently
had a sitting with her. He explained that very often when they wanted to make
contact with spirits further on they use a medium to make contact between the
Neither Gordon nor I could recall ever hearing of this before yet the very next
day I picked up a book by J. J. Morse, which fell open on a page, which said
that those who had been mediums on this side were often used as mediums on the
Other Side! The latest communication has been through the mediumship of
'Lincoln' at a recent Home Circle when 12 red field poppies were apported (the
first time flowers had been produced) through the narrow end of the trumpet, and
the guide said that Mona was hoping to speak in the direct voice very soon.
NOTE: Thanks to Two Worlds Publishing Co.
for permission to reprint this article, a slightly amended version of which
appeared in Two Worlds earlier this year.