In the last major interview of his career, Gordon Higginson talked honestly and freely about his hopes and aspirations for the future of Spiritualism.
Speaking to Psychic World only a few weeks before his passing, Mr Higginson also addressed the fundamental issues effecting the Movement – and in the characteristic style which earned him so much respect over the years, issued a call for Spiritualism to become better organised.
The former SNU President was never afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly never shyed away from discussing the problems within the Spiritualist Movement. His final interview is a tribute to these facts, and more importantly perhaps, a lasting testament to his aims and ideals.
We publish it with pride, for it shows a man of dedication and passion. Above all else, it provides an insight into the mind of a lifelong campaigner for spiritual truth and learning, who was surely a true champion of Spiritualism.
GORDON HIGGINSON – HIS FINAL INTERVIEW
In a frank and forthright interview with Psychic World, given just before Christmas of last year , Gordon Higginson expressed his optimism for the future of the Movement, but also issued a warning to those Spiritualist churches which aren’t prepared to meet the needs of public demand.
“I’d like to see a lot more changes taking place”, Mr Higginson stated.
The churches have been doing very well indeed, but they’ve still got to shake themselves up a bit. We’re getting a lot of enquiries, especially from younger people who have become interested in the subject, and their ideas are totally different to what many of ours are. Therefore, we’ve got to try and make a Movement that’s acceptable to people.
It’s no use complaining that we’ve got a bad press, or that our image isn’t as good as we’d like it to be. I think that it is up to the Spiritualist Movement as a whole, to look where we are going wrong, and work collectively together in order to do something about it.”
Speaking from the Arthur Findlay College at .Stansted Hall, Mr Higginson went on:
“We need to get ourselves better organised. However, saying this, I do believe that in some respects, we are the victims of our own success. Because Spiritualism is now in such demand from people, we need at least five thousand mediums in order to satisfy their interest. Yet, when you look at the situation, we probably’ only have about a thousand mediums available.
When you realise this”, Mr Higginson continued, “it’s obvious that we’re short of mediums.
Some of them are very fine indeed, but others are not so good. Unfortunately, they go around the country and abroad representing us, when we would prefer them not to do so. Part of the problem, is that any new churches which open up, or churches which don’t look so far ahead, just cannot find any competent mediums around – only the ones that aren’t particularly good and therefore not booked up.”
Asked to identify the underlying reasons behind this, Mr Higginson explained:
“Well churches are prepared at the moment to just take anyone, and that is because the calibre of church secretaries isn’t as good as we’d like. Some of them are excellent, but many churches are having difficulty getting the right people into the right jobs. It’s unpaid work anyway, and it’s practically a full-time occupation, so you’ve got to find someone who doesn’t need paying and who is prepared to give the time. As you can imagine, this isn’t easy.”
In an effort to remedy the situation, he outlined the SNU’s policy:
“We are now turning our attention to developing mediums here at Stansted, and giving them the College’s stamp of approval – so that we can say that this person is a good medium. This can only be done after assessing their ability first, and provides a recommendation to anyone thinking of booking them.”
Mr Higginson also voiced his confidence in the future of Spiritualism, and stated that Stansted Hall will make “a very handsome profit” when the financial year ends.
“I think that the college has helped to establish us all over the world. We’ve had people staying with us from as far away as China and Japan, some even staying for up to a month in order to study Spiritualism. I think that this demonstrates beyond any question that the interest is growing, and the future looks very bright. In my opinion, we’re the fastest growing Movement in the world at the moment.
“In fact”, Mr Higginson continued, “we intend to enlarge the college in the coming years, to rebuild it, and to have our own clinic here eventually.”
The SNU is also welcoming a closer partnership with the scientific community, an attitude which Mr Higginson strongly feels the Movement needs to adopt, in order to promote a more progressive policy.
“We’ve got to co-operate much more with science than we have been doing. We are now turning our attention to it, and are working very closely with Professor Archie Roy, who is the chairman of The Society for Psychical Research. As a matter of fact, we’ve found that because he is a man who has some knowledge of Spiritualism, and has tremendous ability, we are able to work much more easily with science in this area.
I think all aspects of mediumship should be dealt with scientifically. Unless we do, I feel we’re going to get nowhere”, Mr Higginson added.
Acknowledging the importance of modern-day technology, the SNU President spoke about the prospects of actually video-filming a physical séance for the first time in the Movement’s history:
“I think it would be tremendously important. I myself have been involved in an experiment with this very idea in mind. We had a German group here who’d sat in a séance before, and said that they’d love to try and film one. I agreed with their request and said that I would do it. However, it didn’t go according to plan.
“They’d got everything ready, and the video camera was working. At the precise moment the ectoplasm was emerging from my body, a light from the camera suddenly went off. Of course, it caused a whiplash as the ectoplasm rushed back into my body. It left me rather badly burned.
Luckily enough, there happened to be a police surgeon present at the séance, and he attended to me straight away. He said to me, that if he hadn’t have been there, he wouldn’t have believed how such a burn could have been caused. He wanted me to go to hospital, it was as bad as that.
In the event, we all learned a very valuable lesson from it all. What you’ve got to do, first of all, is to ask permission from the Spirit World if you want to try anything of this kind. I hadn’t – and I suffered the consequences. We seem to forget at times, that we need to have co-operation from their side of life, just as much as from ours.
In regard to video film, I think we should realise that it, shouldn’t merely be a case of capturing tables moving about, or trumpets being levitated. We are now realising that this sort of phenomena can be caused through the mind anyway, without any contact at all through the Spirit World.
The public have also seen effects of this nature on television magic shows, so what we have to do is to demonstrate that there is a discarnate mind behind the movement of the objects which are being filmed.
If a materialisation of somebody such as Winston Churchill were obtained on film, wouldn’t this provide even more powerful evidence?
In the first place of course, the idea that Churchill or any spirit person is just waiting around for someone to ‘call them up’ in a séance, just isn’t true. However, under the right circumstances, I’m sure that this can happen.
I’ve got still pictures of materialisations, and they are quite fascinating. I’m absolutely sure that if you had a video recording of such phenomena, it would cause a great deal of interest among Spiritualists.”
No Strings Attached
On the subject of physical mediumship, Mr Higginson defended Stansted Hall’s record on developing this particular psychic gift, and stressed that Arthur Findlay left the college to the SNU with “no strings attached”.
“Of course, we’ve done very well in promoting mental mediumship. On physical mediumship, we’ve endeavoured to hold certain workshops here called Physical Phenomena Weeks, where we pull out all the stops in order to find out if anybody has these powers. One of the problems we’ve encountered, is that we haven’t got people around the country who can help in the development of this form of mediumship.
Arthur Findlay was of course, very interested in this branch of Spiritualism when he was alive, but when he left the college to the SNU he wanted it to be used as a school for mediums. He didn’t specify that it had to be physical mediumship.
I’m the only living medium around today who actually gave him a sitting, so I know more about what he wanted than anybody. Now, to comply with what Arthur Findlay originally intended us to do with the college, would have been impractical and we couldn’t possibly have done it. For example, he only wanted very few people here at a time, which wouldn’t have been financially viable.
All these sort of things were pointed out to him, and so before he passed, he gave it to us with no strings attached, as a gift and said that he hoped we would always use it as a college.
We in turn agreed with his wishes, but we will not specify any one particular thing. What we want to do is to teach Spiritualism, and of course to train people”, Mr Higginson said.
From Psychic World, May 1993