Husk, Cecil (1847-1920)

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Husk, Cecil (1847-1920)

British professional singer and member of the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Because of failing eyesight, Husk abandoned his vocation andhaving been strongly psychic from early childhoodreplaced it with professional mediumship.

Husk's materialization séances began about 1875 and were well known for the number and varied nature of the phenomena. "John King" was claimed as his chief control and had five subordinates: "Uncle," "Christopher," "Ebenezer," "Tom Hall," and "Joey" (the latter apparently the same control as manifesting through medium William Eglinton ). Their voices, according to Florence Marryat, were heard as soon as the medium entered the cabinet. The subordinates prepared the manifestations for "John King."

One of "King's" favorite phenomena was the demonstration of matter passing through matter. The threading of chairs or iron rings on the medium's arms while the sitters held his hands was a frequently observed manifestation.

One experiment was carried out by George Wyld of Edinburgh and is described in his book Theosophy, or Spiritual Dynamics and the Divine and Miraculous Man (1884). For four years, Wyld had carried with him a specially made oval-shaped iron ring of five to six inches in diameter. Wyld hoped that it would be placed on his arm or on a medium's while he held the medium's hand. The size of the ring did not allow its passage over the hand. Wyld's wish was finally satisfied by Cecil Husk in 1884. While Wyld held the left hand of the medium, the ring was taken from his right; the medium cried out in pain, and when the light was turned on it was found on Husk's left wrist. An hour later it fell onto the floor.

Encouraged by this success, Wyld had a smaller ring made. This was also put on Husk's wrist while his hand was held by a friend. The ring was identified by microscopic markings. The Society for Psychical Research examined the ring and undertook to force it off if the medium permitted himself to be chloroformed. When he refused they brought the verdict: "We cannot infer that it is impossible that the ring should have come into the position in which we found it by known natural means." This verdict was based on experiments conducted on three other men by etherizing them and compressing their hands with metallic tape. The ring could not be passed over. Still the investigators concluded that they might have been successful in the case of Husk.

In 1890, through Cecil Husk's mediumship, Stanley de Brath made his first acquaintance with psychic phenomena. During the following year, at a public séance with about 20 sitters, Husk was exposed. In the light of an electric tie-pin he was seen leaning over the table and illuminating his face with a phosphorized slate. The "spirit drapery" that enveloped his head did not disappear. The attempt at an apology by Spiritualists who suggested that a case of transfiguration was taking place and that the drapery was apported instead of being materialized proved unacceptable.

In an article in the July 1906 issue of the Annals of Psychic Science, Henry A. Fotherby describes an interesting materialization séance with Husk in which the phantasms appeared to develop from a sort of phosphorescent vapor in the air, dotted all over with countless minute points of bright light, like little glow lamps. They were rendered visible by luminous slates that rose by themselves from the table and cast a weird bluish light on the phantom faces.

Gambier Bolton recounted an instance when, in his own house in the presence of 14 investigators, the medium, while tightly held, was levitated in his chair onto the top of the table. When Admiral Usborne Moore sat in an initial séance with Husk in 1904 a zither rose from the table and soared above the circle. Its movements could be seen by the phosphorescent spots on its underside. After two or three swirls it dashed onto the floor and apparently went through, for faint music could be heard from underneath.

In the light of illuminated cards Moore witnessed the materialization of about 15 spirits. He later recounted that the faces were about two-thirds life size. "John King" always spoke in an extremely loud voice. This was not exceptional. When a sitter asked the control "Uncle," "Are you using the medium's throat?" the answer came in a bellowing voice close to him: "Do you think that this is the medium's throat? If so, he must have a long neck." The voices spoke in many languages. The singingtenor, bass, and all the shades betweenwent on in astonishing volume even when Husk had a cold.

Moore sat more than 40 times with Husk and only once suspected fraud. On that occasion conditions were poor and he was by no means sure that his doubts were reasonable.


Bolton, Gambier. Psychic Force. N.p., 1904. Moore, Usborne. Glimpses of the Next State. London: Watts, 1911.