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Rescue Circles Part 33

By:Richard Rowley
Date: Mon,04 Oct 2010
Submitter:Richard Rowley

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Rescue work in Melbourne in 1920, Conan Doyle present. Terrorism within the church and the torture of witches.

As the terrorist bombings around the world
continue to kill hundreds every week and as our armed
forces sacrifice their lives trying to establish law
and order, while at home innocent children are shot
when disturbed gunmen try to seek revenge for some
past injustice, there is certainly more need than
ever for urgent rescue work, both for those victims
and for the perpetrators. The lack of a sense of
values and balance that brings these events about
shows what a materialistic society can manifest when
no spirit of love, compassion and understanding is
present. I think it is still appropriate to present
past examples of rescue work, as it helps us
understand, and enables us to send out our own energy
to help these poor confused, tormented, disturbed and
lost souls, as well as to provide a stable environment for ourselves, the living.

Since the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has
recently materialized and spoken with Victor Zammit
through the mediumship of David Thompson (visit his
website for a transcript, or
audio clip) I thought it would be interesting to
quote some excerpts from Sir Arthur’s visit in person
to Mr. Tozer’s rescue circle in Melbourne in 1920. He
and his family were touring Australia and New Zealand
and returning via Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), India,
Egypt and France. Here is what he writes about
Spiritualism and rescue work in those days.

“I began at once to endeavor to find out the
conditions of local Spiritualism, and had a long
conversation with Mr. Tozer, the chairman of the
movement, a slow-talking, steady-eyed man, of the type
that gets a grip and does not easily let go. After
explaining the general situation, which needs some
explanation as it is full of currents and
cross-currents caused by individual schisms and
secessions, he told me in his gentle, earnest way some
of his own experiences in his home circle which
corroborate much which I have heard elsewhere. He has
run a rescue circle for the instruction of the lower
spirits who are so material that they can be reached
more easily by humanity than by the higher angels.
The details he gave me were almost the same as those
given by Mr. MacFarlane of Southsea, in England, who
had a similar circle of which Mr. Tozer had certainly
never heard. A wise spirit control dominates the
proceedings. The medium goes into trance. The spirit
control then explains what it is about to do, and who
the spirit is who is about to be reformed. The next
scene is often very violent, the medium having to be
held down and using rough language. This comes from
some low spirit who has suddenly found this means of
expressing himself. At other times the language is
not violent but only melancholy, the spirit declaring
that he is abandoned and has not a friend in the
universe. Some do not realize that they are dead, but
only that they wander all alone, under conditions they
could not understand, in a cloud of darkness.
Then comes the work of regeneration. They are
reasoned with and consoled. Gradually they become
more gentle. Finally, they accept the fact that they
are spirits, that their condition is their own making,
and that by aspiration and repentance they can win
their way to the light. When one has found the path
and has returned thanks for it, another case is
treated. As a rule these errant souls are unknown to
fame. Often they are clergymen whose bigotry has
hindered development. Occasionally some great sinner
of the past may come into view. I have before me a
written lament professing to come from Alva, the
bigoted governor of the Lowlands. It is gruesome

ALVA Picture to yourself the hell I was in.
Blood, blood everywhere, corpses on all sides, gashed,
maimed, mutilated, quivering with agony and bleeding
at every pore! At the same time thousands of voices
were raised in bitter reproaches, in curses and
execrations! Imagine the appalling spectacle of
this multitude of the dead and dying, fresh from the
flames, from the sword, the rack, the torture chambers
and the gibbet; and the pandemonium of voices
shrieking out the most terrible maledictions. Imagine
never being able to get away from these sights and
sounds, and then tell me, was I not in hell? – a hell
of greater torment than that to which I believed all
heretics were consigned. Such was the hell of the
‘bloody Alva,’ from which I have been rescued by what
seems to me a great merciful dispensation of Almighty

“Sometime in Mr. Tozer’s circle the souls of
ancient clerics who have slumbered long show their
first signs of resuscitation, still bearing their
old-world intolerance with them. The spirit control
purports to be a well-educated Chinese gentleman whose
presence and air of authority annoy the ecclesiastics
greatly. The petrified mind leads to a long period of
insensibility which means loss of ground and of time
in the journey towards happiness. I was present at
the return of one alleged Anglican bishop of the 18th
Century who spoke with great intolerance. When asked
if he had seen the Christ he answered that he had not
and that he could not understand it. When asked if he
still considered the Christ to be God he threw up his
hand and shouted violently:

BISHOP Stop! That is blasphemy!
CHINESE GUIDE He stupid man. Let him wait. He
learn better.

“The guide removed him. He was succeeded by a
very noisy and bigoted Puritan divine who declared
that no one but devils would come to a séance. On
being asked whether that meant that he was himself a
devil, he became so abusive that the Chinese control
once more had to intervene. I quote all this as a
curious sidelight into some developments of the
subject which are familiar enough to students, but not
to the general public. It is easy at a distance to
sneer at such things and to ask for their evidential
value, but they are very impressive to those who view
them at closer quarters. As to evidence, I am
informed that several of the unfortunates have been
identified in this world through the information which
they gave of their own careers.” * [See in the
Appendix below how cruelly three or four centuries
ago these bigoted priests treated the mediums, seers
and witches whose contemporary counterparts are now
rescuing THEM! Because of their cruel actions in the
past their souls cannot rest and some are still in
need of rescue.R.R.]

“We were invited to another spiritual meeting at
the Auditorium. Individuality runs riot sometimes in
our movement. On this occasion a concert had been
mixed up with a religious service and the effect was
not good, though the musical part of the proceedings
disclosed one young violinist who should make a name
in the world. I have always been against ritual, and
yet now that I see the effect of being without it I
begin to understand that some form of it, however
elastic, is necessary. The clairvoyance was good, if
genuine, but it offends me to see it turned off and on
like a turn at a music hall. It is either nonsense or
the holy of holies and mystery of mysteries. Perhaps
it was just this conflict between the priest with his
ritual and the medium without any, which split the
early Christian Church, and ended in the complete
victory of the ritual, which meant the extinction not
only of the medium but of the living, visible,
spiritual forces which he represented. Flowers,
music, incense, architecture, all tried to fill the
gap, but the soul of the thing had gone out of it.
It must have been about the end of the Third Century
that the process was completed, and the living thing
had set into a petrifaction. That would be the time
when special correctors were appointed to make the
Gospel texts square with the elaborate machinery of
the Church.

“We attended the great annual ball at the
Government House……….Social gaieties are somewhat out
of key with my present train of thought, and I was
more in my element next evening at a meeting of the
Rescue Circle under Mr. Tozer. Mr. Love was the
medium and it was certainly a very remarkable and
consistent performance. Even those who might imagine
that the different characters depicted were in fact
various strands of Mr. Love’s subconscious self, each
dramatizing its own peculiarities, must admit that it
was a very absorbing exhibition. The circle sits
round with prayer and hymns while Mr. Love falls into
a trance state. He is then controlled by the Chinese
guide Quong, who is a person of such standing and
wisdom in the other world, that other lower spirits
have to obey him. The light is dim, but even so the
characteristics of this Chinese gentleman get across
very clearly, the rolling head, the sidelong, humorous
glance, the sly smile, the hands crossed and buried in
what should be the voluminous folds of a mandarin’s
gown. He greets the company in somewhat laboured
English and says he has many who would be the better
for our ministrations.

MR. TOZER Send them along, please!

The medium suddenly sits straight and his whole
face changes into an austere harshness, and the
spirit speaks.

MATHEW What is this ribald nonsense?
TOZER Who are you, friend?
MATHEW My name is Mathew Barret. I testified in
my life to the Lamb and to Him crucified. I ask
again, what is this ribald nonsense?
TOZER It is not nonsense, friend. We are here to
help you and to teach you that you are held down and
punished for your narrow ideas, and that you cannot
progress until they are more charitable.
MATHEW What I preached in life I still believe.
TOZER Tell us, friend, did you find it on the
other side as you had preached?
MATHEW What do you mean?
TOZER Well, did you, for example, see Christ?
MATHEW [after an embarrassed silence]. No, I
did not.
TOZER Have you seen the devil?
MATHEW No, I have not.
TOZER Then, bethink you, friend, that there may be
truth in what we teach?
MATHEW It is against all that I have preached.
QUONG He good man – stupid man. He learn in time.
Plenty time before him.

Doyle continues “We had a wonderful succession of
‘revenants.’ One was a very dignified Anglican, who
always referred to the control as ‘this yellow
person.’ Another was an Australian soldier:”

SOLDIER I never thought I’d take my orders from a
‘Chink.’ But he says ‘hist!’ and by gum you’ve got to
‘hist’ and no bloomin’ error.
ANOTHER SOLDIER I went down in the “Monmouth.”
DOYLE Can you tell me anything of the action?
SOLDIER We never had a chance. It was just hell.

“There was a world of feeling in his voice. He
was greatly amused at their ‘sky-pilot’ as he called
the chaplain, and at his confusion when he found the
other world quite different to what he had depicted.
A terrifying Ghurka came along, who still thought he
was in action and charged about the circle, upsetting
the medium’s chair, and only yielding to a mixture of
force and persuasion. There were many others, most of
whom returned thanks for the benefit derived from
previous meetings. Between each the old Chinese sage
made comments upon the various cases, a kindly, wise
old soul, with just a touch of mischievous humour
running through him. Two of the ladies present
broke out into the Maori language, keeping up a long
and loud conversation. I was not able to check it, but
the total effect was most convincing. I have been in
touch with some Rescue Circles where the identity of
the ‘patients’ as we may call them was absolutely

[Excerpted from “The Wanderings of a Spiritualist” by
Arthur Conan Doyle. London, 1921.

*APPENDIX Religious Terrorism in the Past.

William Lecky in his history of the rise of
rationalism in Europe, and writing about magic and
witchcraft, mentions that in the Seventeenth Century
while England was breaking loose from her most ancient
superstitions and advancing with gigantic strides
along the paths of knowledge, Scotland still cowered
with a willing submission before her clergy. “They
maintained their ascendancy over the popular mind by
a system of religious terrorism, which we can now
barely conceive.
The misery of man, the anger of the Almighty, the
fearful power and continual presence of Satan, the
agonies of hell, were the constant subjects of their
preaching. All the most ghastly forms of human
suffering were accumulated as faint images of the
eternal doom of the immense majority of mankind.
Disease, storm, famine, every awful calamity that fell
upon mankind, or blasted the produce of the soil, was
attributed to the direct intervention of spirits; and
Satan himself was represented as constantly appearing
in a visible form upon the earth. Such teaching
necessarily created the superstition of witchcraft.
It assumed the most frightful proportions, and the
darkest character. Eagerly, passionately, with a
thirst for blood that knew no mercy, with a zeal that
never tired, did the clergy accomplish their task.
Assembled in solemn synod, the College of
Aberdeen, in 1603, enjoined every minister to take two
of the elders of his parish to make ‘a subtle and
privy inquisition,’ and to question all the
parishioners upon oath as to their knowledge of
witches. Boxes were placed in the churches for the
express purpose of receiving the accusations. When a
woman had fallen under suspicion, the minister from
the pulpit denounced her by name, exhorted his
parishioners to give evidence against her, and
prohibited anyone from sheltering her. The
witch-cases seem to have fallen almost entirely into
the hands of the clergy. They were the leading
commissioners. Before them the confessions were
taken. They were the acquiescing witnesses, or the
directors of the tortures by which those confessions
were elicited.
And when we read the nature of these tortures,
which were worthy of an oriental imagination; when we
remember that they were inflicted, for the most part,
on old and feeble and half-doting women, it is
difficult to repress a feeling of the deepest
abhorrence for those men who caused and who
encouraged them. If the witch was obdurate, the
first, and it was said the most effectual, method of
obtaining confession was by what was termed ‘waking
her.’ An iron bridle or hoop was bound across her
face with four prongs, which were thrust into her
mouth, two of these being directed to the tongue and
palate, the others pointing outwards to each cheek.
This infernal machine was secured by a padlock. At the
back of the collar was fixed a ring by which to attach
the witch to a staple in the wall of her cell by a
chain, in such a manner that the victim was unable to
lie down; and in this position she was sometimes kept
for several days, while men were constantly with her
to prevent her from closing her eyes for a moment in
Thus equipped, and night and day waked and watched by
some skilful person appointed by her inquisitors, the
unhappy creature, after a few days of such discipline,
maddened by the misery of her forlorn and helpless
state, would be rendered fit for confessing anything,
in order to be rid of the dregs of her wretched life.
At intervals fresh examinations took place, and these
were repeated from time to time until her will was
Partly in order to effect this object, and partly
to discover the insensible mark which was the sure
sign of a witch, long pins were thrust into her body.
Excessive thirst was often added to her tortures.
Other and worse tortures were in reserve. The three
principal that were habitually applied, were the
pennywinkis, the boots, and the caschielawis. The
first was a kind of thumb-screw; the second was a
frame in which the leg was inserted, and in which it
was broken by wedges, driven in by a hammer; the third
was also an iron frame for the leg, which was from
time to time heated over a brazier. Fire-matches were
sometimes applied to the body of the victim. We read
in a contemporary legal register, of one man who was
kept for 48 hours in ‘vehement tortour’ in the
caschielawis; and of another who remained in the same
frightful machine for eleven days and eleven nights,
whose legs were broken daily for fourteen days in the
boots, and who was so scourged that the whole skin was
torn from his body. This was, it is true, censured as
an extreme case, but it was only an excessive
application of the common torture.
How many confessions were extorted, and how many
victims perished by these means, it is now impossible
to say. A vast number of depositions and confessions
are preserved. We know that in 1662, more than 150
persons were accused of witchcraft. One traveler
casually noticed having seen nine women burning
together at Leith in 1664, and in 1678, nine witches
were condemned in a single day. The witches were
commonly strangled before they were burnt, but this
merciful provision was very frequently omitted. An
Earl of Mar, who appears to have been the only person
sensible of the inhumanity of the proceedings, tells
how, with a piercing yell, some women once broke
half-burnt from the slow fire that consumed them
struggled for a few moments with despairing energy
among the spectators, but soon with shrieks of
blasphemy and wild protestations of innocence sank
writhing in agony amid the flames.
The contemplation of such scenes as these is one
of the most painful duties that can devolve upon the
historian, but it is one from which he must not
shrink, if he would form a just estimate of the past.”

Excerpted from “History of the Rise and Influence of
the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe” by William Lecky.
Longmans, Green and Co. London. 1884.

[This is not to ignore the centuries of torture
and untold suffering inflicted in England, Europe and
other parts of the world by the Protestant and Roman
Catholic Inquisitions. Particularly horrible were the
Portuguese tortures in Goa, on the West coast of
India, where the guilty were dissected and torn apart,
limb by limb, organ by organ in front of their
families, until just the chest and head remained, the
inquisitors trying to locate and “save” within the
living remnant, the seat of the soul. Of course, they
never could locate and catch hold of the eternal spark
of spirit.
Keeping a body alive on life support in a modern
hospital may be equally painful for the patient. We
must be compassionate and ever watchful that pain and
suffering are not inflicted in the name of Science, or
to ‘conquer Death.’ There is a point of no return,
beyond which we must allow to let go, or be allowed to
let go, of physical life.
Today, 400 years later such tortures and even
worse, with modern technological and psychological
sophistication, continue to be practiced openly or
covertly IN EVERY COUNTRY, whether governed by a
dictatorship, theocracy, democracy or totalitarian
system. We must speak out against this. There can be
no defence for the use of torture. This is not just a
political issue. It is against all laws of ethical
conduct and totally against spiritual law.

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