Unsung Heroes – Karl Jackson-Barnes
Karl Jackson-Barnes doesn’t consider himself an “unsung hero”. He describes himself as an archivist and a medium who has just had the good fortune of gaining access to some of the best seance material recorded in the 20th century. Karl is an editor, publisher and medium. In 2013 he published The Edwardian Afterlife Diary of Emma Holden followed by The Russell Connection, then others. His website is named Psychic Book Club Publishing in recognition of the historic publishing house of the same name, which UK Medium and editor Maurice Barbanell started in 1937. We asked Karl about his work and his keen interest in preserving and sharing endangered Afterlife material…
Lately there has been a great deal of interest among the Afterlife community in preserving artifacts (books, tapes, video, apports, websites, etc.) and ensuring that they will not only be preserved, but to the extent possible, available to the public. You have already benefited us all by rescuing the work of Arthur Holden’s ‘Edwardian Afterlife Diary of Emma Holden’ in 2013. How did this come about?
It is vital that we do preserve vintage Afterlife material. In this digital age we have every opportunity to do so, yet much has been lost already. Magnetic video and audio tapes have a shelf life – they degrade over time. So I would ask anyone reading this who has any recorded Afterlife material or seance recordings to get them digitised and shared immediately. As you say, besides recordings, there are hundreds of vintage out-of-print books on the subject, some of which contain the best accounts of mediumship and communication with the Afterlife over the past 100 years. Yet so many of these have been lost to time.
In 2000 I read a friend’s copy of the book “On the Edge of the Etheric” by J. Arthur Findlay. I was so fascinated by the author’s accounts of Spirit communication and even Spirit materialisation, that I sought out a vintage copy of the book for myself. Listed in the book were other vintage titles on the same subject and I began to search for as many as I could. What started out as fascination eventually turned into a small obsession! Years later, after purchasing one vintage book after another, I now have a library of over 800 titles on the subject of Spirit communication. Some are rare, some are not – but in my opinion, they all contain truth.
In 2010 I felt inspired to republish one in particular. In fact, I believe the project was actually directed by the Spirit World.
In one bundle of vintage books that I had purchased online, one seemed to stand out from the rest. The 1913 book Messages from the Unseen was illuminating, but it lacked identity. It was written anonymously and the characters were only identified by their initials. I had already been successful researching my own family tree, so using the same methods of investigation, I began detailed research on the book.
I eventually discovered that the author was Arthur Holden, the father of a UK family of Spiritualists. The book described how his five adult children all took turns to communicate with their deceased mother in the Spirit World. Arthur compiled these weekly ‘messages from the unseen’ into a private journal. Just before his death Arthur had his journal published and his wife Emma’s regular communications from the Afterlife became a testimony to their love.
The book described how Emma Holden acclimatised to her new conditions in the Afterlife, how she learned how to communicate with her family on Earth and how she progressed in her new environment. I felt that this enlightening story deserved a wider audience, but I hadn’t published a book before, so I educated myself on the process and set to work. After ten months of solid research, writing and re-writing, my 2013 version of Arthur’s original was finally in print. I had identified every character, uncovered their history and sourced rare photographs. Besides the inspiring content, the book almost felt like a work of art!
I retitled it The Edwardian Afterlife Diary of Emma Holden and was very happy with my achievement. But, out of the blue, this steep learning curve into the field of publishing, led me to help a lady with some rather unique seance experiences of her own.
Yes, what was your role in publishing The Russell Connection in 2014 (the follow-up to Gwen Byrne’s marvellous 1994 book Russell)?
Gwen Byrne had read The Edwardian Afterlife Diary of Emma Holden and wanted to speak to me. I knew of Gwen from her first book about her communications with her Spirit son Russell, but I had never actually read it, so I had no idea what her experiences really were. When Gwen told me that she had lost her 9-year-old son to cancer in 1963, but that years later they were reunited in the seance room, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. At the time I had no idea how much I would learn from Gwen, her family and her Spirit son Russell.
In 2013 I travelled to visit Gwen at her home near London and was bowled over by her stories. She told me that, if the conditions are right, people in the Spirit World can return to us in solid form through physical mediumship. I had read about such things before, but here was a woman who had first-hand experience of seance room materialisations.
I agreed to help Gwen publish her second book and 400 pages later and after almost a year of work, The Russell Connection was at the printers ready for delivery.
The most surprising part of Gwen’s story for me, was that although she knew her son had survived death, over the years she had only had communications from Russell through mental mediums (those who receive spirit messages telepathically). One day nineteen years later, a phone call came from the seance group of physical medium Rita Goold, that changed everything.
Russell had materialised at this group, correctly given out his parent’s phone number, and insisted they call her.
Gwen and her husband Alfie were dumbstruck when the call came. A week later they nervously attended the circle for the first time and sat hand in hand as they waited in silence. The first Spirit voice they heard was young Russell’s and he sang a song to his mother. Rita Goold’s seances became a regular event for Gwen and Alfie and they were reunited with their son each time. He was still the same silly, loving, clever boy he always was, but he had years of additional experience from life in the Spirit World. Some of these amazing sessions were recorded and I have been given copies by Gwen.
Russell Byrne wasn’t the only Spirit communicator during these seances. The son of the scientist Sir Oliver Lodge, Raymond Lodge, was another regular, so too was the Scottish Medium, Helen Duncan, who can clearly be heard talking to sitters on the recordings.
Gwen Byrne and I are now good friends and we often chat about the news in Afterlife research and how clever her son is as he continues to inspire his family and others with his humour and communications from the Afterlife.
Did you have a role in the Rita Goold seances?
I only came to know of Gwen’s seance experiences years after the medium Rita Goold retired. However, I am actively trying to gather more data on Rita’s work and have been given the backing of her family to create a webpage or two, given enough information, but this work is on-going. If anyone reading this has any anecdotes or data relating to the Rita Goold circle, I would be happy to hear about it.
Where would I go to hear the Goold seance recordings?
So far, I’ve released just one 50-minute audio from the Rita Goold seances, but I hope to release more as time allows. To find the recording and read the accompanying notes, click this link to the page on my website Psychic Book Club Publishing.
What is your primary spiritual/afterlife work at this time? What do you feel is your best way to contribute?
While I’ve spent the past few years publishing books on Mediumship, I’ve also involved myself in various discussion groups online. I was contacted in one group by Jack Andrews, in relation to the work of UK Medium, Leslie Flint.
I knew that Jack had been involved in digitising audio recordings of Flint’s ‘direct voice’ seances, but had no idea how much work he had already put in over the years. Jack has since created an amazing collection of Flint recordings for his Youtube channel and set up the New Leslie Flint Educational Trust Facebook page But my knowledge of the true depth of Flint’s work was about to be expanded !
In 1984 I read ‘Life After Death’ the bestselling book by UK journalist Neville Randall. Randall had begun interviews with two of Leslie Flint’s regular sitters, who had recorded many hundreds of his seances from the early 1950s to the 1970s.
Randall’s book contains transcripts from some of these recordings, so here were the actual words of ‘dead’ people, as captured on tape at Leslie Flint seances. Reading this as a young teenager really blew my mind. A couple of years later I read the biography series of books about UK Medium Doris Stokes, so I was now beginning to formulate a very simple understanding of mediumship and the Afterlife. This understanding grew further at the age of 18, when I first visited a local Spiritualist centre.
So was this where you began to develop your own mediumship?
Yes, but not straight away. I knew there were Spiritualist Churches locally, but had never been inside one. There was one close to my workplace at that time, so one Saturday evening I decided to pay them a visit. The ‘church’ was managed by a lady medium and her Polish husband and when I walked in the door I was greeted by a group of about thirty people. Nervously, I sat down and waited. What surprised me were the number of mediums in that room. There must have been about six people who gave ‘messages’ that night. I had thought that one medium did all the work at these places, but I was corrected when they told me that this was an ‘open circle’ – which apparently meant that anyone who was able, was welcome to give spirit messages to others in the room. It was fascinating!
After many weeks of attending and hearing all kinds of ‘spirit messages’ shared between those present, one evening I was asked if I had anything I wanted to contribute. Strangely enough, I did. I had the mental impression that one older lady in the room had been making apple pie. I thought it was a ridiculous thing to talk about, but I was encouraged to say what was on my mind. Nervously I asked the lady and to my shock, she confirmed that she had indeed been baking apple pies that day. I didn’t know what to think, but the others thought I’d done very well for some reason.
I later learned that this was my first venture into clairvoyance. After the meeting had ended I was asked if I wanted to attend a ‘psychic development’ class on a different night of the week. I had no idea what that meant, but agreed out of sheer curiosity. I expected the same large crowd that first Thursday, but found that I had been invited to a very private class of only seven people. My understanding of clairvoyance and clairaudience during these Thursday evenings accelerated rapidly and, as I began sharing the inspiration that came to mind each week, I learned that exploring the imagination is the first step towards unfolding the psychic faculties of the mind.
Through my own development I was beginning to understand there were two sides to mediumship. I was beginning to see how clairvoyance and clairaudience worked, but I also realized how much of a responsibility Mediums have toward their clients. As a developing mental Medium I knew that giving the correct interpretation of a spirit message is vital for the recipient to understand what is being relayed. I also realized that as the recipient of a spirit message, we should feel comfortable enough to question the medium, when more clarity is required.
These ‘open circles’ and development classes became a big part of my life and helped my mediumship become second-nature to me. Like many mediums, my connection to the spirit world became a part of my everyday life. For me, it is not only something we use in performances for public demonstrations, although I have done some of these in the past.
So how did you became involved with the Leslie Flint Trust?
It was in 1998, ten years after first visiting a Spiritualist group, that I discovered the first Leslie Flint Trust website. It was full of audio recordings of the voices of spirit people – this was not channeled material, but voices created in the seance room, independently of the medium. This was far beyond anything I had found before. Now I was able to hear the voices of those ‘dead’ people I’d read about years earlier in Neville Randall’s boo, Life After Death. It was so exciting to be able to listen to descriptions of the Afterlife – direct from those actually living there.
I was so impressed, I began recommending the Flint Trust website to anyone I thought might be interested. I even bought multiple copies of Randall’s book to give away to friends or to those I thought needed to read it. I really thought this stuff was dynamite!
Then in an online forum in 2015, Jack Andrews asked me if I could assist with the Leslie Flint Trust website. He had seen my work and thought I might be interested. I was such a fan of Flint’s mediumship I couldn’t resist, but I wondered what I could possibly contribute. It turned out that the old Flint Trust website needed replacing, including many of the spirit voice recordings. So after discussions with members of the Flint Trust, I accepted the challenge.
Recreating the look of the original website was easy, but I wanted to streamline it and make it more user-friendly. The audios were the next hurdle. Some were so old and of poor quality that it became clear I needed to start from the beginning and go back to original source material.
With Jack’s help I was given access to Leslie Flint’s original library of recordings, but I also began travelling the country to locate tapes and, thankfully, some were sent to me by people who knew Flint himself. While I am currently negotiating with other agencies to secure hundreds more recordings, all these audio cassettes need digitizing before they can be shared online, so I use equipment and software to digitize and enhance the tapes, before adding them to the new website. I also transcribe some of the audios into text for the website. All of this shared on leslieflint.com or via Jack’s New Leslie Flint Educational Trust Facebook page.
I now have a library of many hundreds of Leslie Flint’s seance recordings, articles and photographs. After a career of almost 60 years, Flint had many thousands of his seances recorded. So aside from those I already have, I know there must still be hundreds of tapes out there in Spiritualist churches or in the family homes of people who took part in a Leslie Flint seance over the years.
It is vital that previously unheard seance material is made available to the interested public while we still have the opportunity to obtain them. Such rare recordings need to be made available now, for posterity, so that researchers in the future can study them in detail. They need collating and digitising as a priority, since tapes degrade over time and, in the past, perhaps due to neglect, similar unique works has been lost forever. Anyone can contact me if they have recordings they need help with.
If I did nothing else for the next ten years I would still be busy working through all of the Flint material available. Yet it is not all historical figures who communicate; many are ordinary family members of those who sat with Flint. Only last week, as I listened to a seance recording from 1966, I was reminded of the current ‘SoulPhone Foundation’ – a scientific group who want to create a device to enable two-way communication between the Spirit World and the Earth. I was routinely transcribing the words of this recording, listening to the voice of wartime army officer Michael Fearon, who was killed in 1944, when I heard him say, “In the future man may yet form some sort of method of communication between worlds, which will give a real insight into the reality of the Spirit World.”
I do want to say that Jack Andrews has been instrumental in my involvement with the Flint Trust and I am glad to call him a friend. I will always owe him my thanks for this fantastic opportunity to learn and be involved in, what I feel is, historical work in Afterlife studies.
Do you work as part of a group of researchers? Are you in the UK?
When I’m not working in my garden at home in Scotland, I’m either concentrating on a publication for Psychic Book Club or spending hours on material for the Flint Trust website. Although, when necessary, I travel the country to obtain Afterlife material and meet those with first-hand experience.
If I had been told, when I first read of Leslie Flint’s Mediumship, that I would later be involved in this work, I wouldn’t have believed it. My only regret is that I didn’t have the courage to make an appointment to meet Flint before his death in 1994. But I am grateful now for the chance to learn about him and do something towards presenting to the public some of the thousands of Spirit communications he was responsible for between 1934 and 1994.
The only issue I face in my work is time. Besides spending months editing manuscripts for new authors, it can take me many hours to simply type out a transcript for a single seance recording; but with the help of volunteers, much more can be done. If any iDigitalMedium readers are interested in helping with this work, I would be happy to hear from them. It is a team effort. In fact Jack Andrews and I were talking about this recently and we decided that Flint Trust volunteers are a great team. Perhaps we should start calling ourselves “Team Flint” !
Thank you iDigitalMedium for your interest in sharing news of this important work. People in the Spirit World only want us to know that they are there and that they are with us through every trial of life and that they share our joys and our sorrows. It is my belief that if we require proof, we need only to ask for it.
Want to read more about the Leslie Flint material from Jack Terrence Andrews? Click Here
On behalf of the community, The iDigitalMedium team would like to thank Mr. Jackson-Barnes for the years of passion and persistence he has applied for the benefit of man and spirit. Thank you, Karl.
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