JH Brennan’s, Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World explores the powerful undercurrents flowing just beneath the surface of the history we’re taught in school. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, spirits, or faeries, is immaterial (pun intended). The fact that various phenomena have been occurring throughout pre-history right up until today is undeniable. Brennan doesn’t set out to prove the existence of ghosts as disembodied, earth-bound entities but rather he examines the effect they may have played on history.

It’s a fascinating book with lots of little surprises. I read the last two sections first and went back to the older histories later. While I love a good ghost story (and Brennan does share two personal experiences), it was some of the research into the phenomena that caught my attention.


There have been many theories put forth to explain all manner of ghostly happenings, but none seem to fully explain everything. Indeed, although we tend to lump everything under the vast heading of the paranormal (or PSI), different phenomena may be different things entirely.

Brennan cites two studies which are fascinating. I’m going to outline the first one here and then take on the second in a follow-on piece.

In 1966, Kenneth Batcheldor (a UK psychologist) published findings in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research concerning the levitation of tables. Recall from the Victorian era, the spiritualism craze which involved spirit contact and various physical manifestations including rappings, materializations, levitation, etc.


In 1964, Batcheldor conducted a series of 200 séances with a small group of sitters. In 120 of the sessions, no phenomena were observed but in 80 of them (40%), physical phenomena was seen. While table movement early in the trials could possibly be dismissed by involuntary muscle movement, by the 11th session, Batcheldor watched as a table rose and floated in the air. At this point he couldn’t rule out fraudulent means so he worked with an engineer to tighten his experimental controls. Once the controls were in place, the phenomena stopped- but over time, the phenomena returned. This was a pattern Batcheldor saw over and over again. Introduced slowly, the sitters appeared to acclimate to the controls and the happenings would start anew. Astonishingly enough, Batcheldor observed not only table movement and levitation, but a whole range of spirit phenomena reported by Victorian spiritualists and witnesses. Amongst the phenomena observed were rapping sounds, breezes, lights, the feeling of being touched, movement of objects including the pulling back of chairs, apports, and holding the table to the floor so it couldn’t be lifted.


The experiments seem to indicate people have the ability, through unconscious means, to produce a variety of physical phenomena. While it doesn’t definitively rule out spirit action, it does point toward interesting avenues for further research. Batcheldor theorized that early movement of the table due to muscle contractions conditioned sitters to expect phenomena and opened them up to actually producing it. This is something later PSI researchers discovered when examining other kinds of phenomena in a lab setting. Belief makes a difference, and in Batcheldor’s case, seeing the phenomena may have led to its manifestation. So here we learn nothing really about spirits, but it does indicate how little we (or science) know about the mind.

The book on Amazon:


Filed under Book Review, PSI


  1. Ally M

    This book seems very great! I’ll definitely check it out 🙂


  2. Followed & on my blog roll!


  3. Reblogged this on Truly Teach Me Tarot and commented:
    This is a very interesting post and certainly gives us much to think about. Well worth a read and beautifully written by Ellis as usual.


  4. Great post! I will have to look into getting this book. I think i’ve heard of that experiment before on some other ‘ghost story’ tv show. Such an interesting and impressive experiment!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You just had to do it? You had to add to my lengthy list of want-to-read books. This really looks interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great story, what I’d do to have the power to levitate dog turds into the trash can, that would fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very nice. I was just writing about this in my course the other day in relation to the power of suggestion and mass hysteria. I was linking it to the phenomena of moving statues in Ireland over the years and how the majority of people will see what they want to see if they are desperate enough. What the mind dwells upon, it tends to adopt. People travelled from far and wide to see the statues move so they were not going to go away disappointed. I also wrote of my own experience when I brought my terminally ill son to a Faith Healer whose touch would immediately make people pass out, so powerful was his ability. When I attended the venue I had to queue for hours to see this Healer and when our time came we were lined up and prepared to receive the touch of his hand on our forehead. Volunteers were organised to stand behind all of us so that they could catch us as we swooned. As I waited for our turn, I watch grown women and men simply fall out of their standing once this Healer laid his hand on them. Somehow or other, I doubted it would happen to me but was secretly excited about the potential of it occurring. Well our time came and went. The Healer touched both of us twice and we remained standing. My son, looked totally bored with the whole thing and wanted to know when we could leave. We stepped over several bodies as we made our way out the door. I am not sure what was happening but I do believe that when the mind holds certain strong expectations it can manifest anything it so wishes. Unfortunately, my mind tried its utmost best for my son but he still lost his battle against cancer. However, maybe it was his mind that was not so convinced.

    The mind is responsible for far more than we give it credit for and I believe that it will take some time to come before our Third Eye and Crown Chakra have fully evolved or that we as physical beings have evolved enough to realise and utilise the vast potential of these Spiritual Chakras. Then there will be no boundaries. Mental travel and telepathy will change the way we live. Distance will mean nothing to us and only but the truth will be possible for we will no longer be able to to hide behind lies and facades.

    For a while after I was first attuned to Reiki, I had the craziest of abilities. My hearing became extremely sensitive, my peripheral vision widened, I could see everything in my room with my eyes closed just as if they were open and strangest of all was my ability to open doors just before I put my hand on the handle. As I walked towards doors or went to open drawers they would simply do what I was intending them to. These phenomena wore off after a couple of weeks but left me in no doubt as to how much we are closed down to our true ability. Did we once have such strong mental powers at some stage of our evolution and if so how did we allow them to shut down? Or is it as I mentioned above that we have not yet reached the stage in our evolution where we can handle and utilise this power wisely and for our highest good?.


    • Fascinating to hear about your Reiki experience. Meditation also opens doors for surprising manifestations and synchronicities in our lives. Brennan’s book also ponders if we’ve had some of these abilities and lost them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. sarahegribble

    Sounds like an interesting read! Added to my Goodreads 🙂


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