Morris, L(ouis) A(nne) Meurig (1899-?)
Morris, L(ouis) A(nne) Meurig (1899-?)
Early twentieth-century British inspirational medium through whom an entity who chose the name "Power" delivered religious and philosophical teachings from the platform in a manner analogous to modern channeling. Some signs of Morris's psychic gifts were noticeable at an early age, but they were stifled by an orthodox education. However, she began to develop rapidly after a first séance with a direct voice medium in Newton Abbot in 1922. Within six weeks she went under control. "Sunshine," the spirit of a child, spoke through her, and "Sister Magdalene," the spirit of a French nun, assumed charge as principal trance control. The prediction came through that Morris would be trained for the delivery of teaching by a spirit called "Power."
Under the control of "Power," the medium's soprano voice changed to a ringing baritone, her mannerisms became masculine and priestly, and the teachings disclosed an erudition and sophisticated philosophy that was far above the intellectual capacities of the medium.
In 1929, Laurence Cowen, well-known author and playwright, came in contact with Morris. "Power" convinced him of the truth of survival and filled him with a missionary spirit. Hitherto an agnostic, Cowen became a convert to Spiritualism, associated himself with Morris, and arranged a long series of Sunday meetings in the Fortune Theatre in London for the general public. Wide publicity accompanied the sermons for some time in the press. Public attention was further aroused by the provincial tours Cowen arranged at great personal sacrifice.
Morris's rise into the forefront of inspired orators was punctuated with two publicly attested supernormal occurrences. First, an attempt was made by the Columbia Gramophone Company to make a phonograph record of "Power's" voice. According to the publicly rendered account of company spokesperson C. W. Nixon, at the very commencement of the experiment an incident occurred that by all the rules should have spoiled the first side of the record.
Ernest Oaten, president of the International Federation of Spiritualists, was in the chair, and, being unaware that the start was to be made without the appearance of the usual red light, he whispered loudly to Morris as she stood up: "Wait for the signal." These words were picked up by the microphone and heard by the engineers in the recording room after the apparatus had been started, and it was believed they must be on the record. Later, when the second side of the record was to be made, there was confusion in starting, and towards the end, as if to make technical failure a certainty, Morris turned and walked several paces away from the microphone.
A week before the record was ready for reproduction, Cowen telephoned Nixon and told him that "Power" had asserted that notwithstanding the technical mistakes the record would be a success, that Oaten's whispered words would not be reproduced, and that the timing and volume of the voice would not be spoiled by the later accidents.
This statement was so extraordinary and appeared to be so preposterous in view of technical expectations, that Nixon had it taken down word by word, and sent it in a sealed envelope to Oaten in Manchester with the request that he would keep it unopened until the record was ready, and the truth or otherwise of the prediction could be tested. The record was played in the Fortune Theatre on April 25, 1931. It was found perfect. The letter was opened and read. The prediction was true in every detail.
The second strange incident occurred in the studios of the British Movietone Company where a talking film was made of "Power's" oratory. Seventy people saw the microphones high in the air, held up by new half-inch ropes. The rope suddenly snapped (it was found cut as with a sharp knife) and a terrific crash startled all present. Within half an inch of Morris's face, the microphone swept across the space and went swaying to and fro. A foreman rushed up and dragged the rope aside to keep it out of sight of the camera. The cameraman never stopped filming. Nor did Morris falter. In spite of the obvious danger to her life she never stirred and went on undisturbed with her trance speech.
According to expert opinion the voice registering must have been a failure. Yet it was found that the accident had not the least influence. The record was perfect. According to "Power's" later revelation, everything was planned. The ropes were supernormally severed so as to prove, by the medium's demeanor, that she was indeed in trance (which a newspaper questioned) as no human being could have consciously exhibited such self-possession as she did when the accident occurred.
Sir Oliver Lodge, in his book Past Years (1931), refers to Morris:
"When the medium's own vocal organs are obviously being used—as in most cases of trance utterances—the proof of supernormality rests mainly on the substance of what is being said; but, occasionally the manner is surprising. I have spoken above of a characteristically cultured mode of expression, when a scholar is speaking, not easily imitated by an uncultured person; but, in addition to that a loud male voice may emanate from a female larynx and may occasionally attain oratorical proportions. Moreover, the orator may deal with great themes in a style which we cannot associate with the fragile little woman who has gone into trance and is now under control. This is a phenomenon which undoubtedly calls attention to the existence of something supernormal, and can be appealed to as testifying to the reality and activity of a spiritual world. It is, indeed, being used for purposes of such demonstration, and seems well calculated to attract more and more attention from serious and religious people; who would be discouraged and offended by the trivial and barely intelligible abnormalities associated with what are called physical (or physiological) phenomena and would not be encouraged by what is called clairvoyance."
In April 1932, Morris sued the Daily Mail for a poster reading "Trance Medium Found Out," and also for statements made in the article to which the poster referred. The action lasted for 11 days. The summary of Justice McCardie was dramatically interrupted by the sudden entrancement of Morris and an address of "Power" to the judge. The jury found for the newspaper on the plea of fair comment but added that no allegations of fraud or dishonesty against Morris had been proved. Morris's appeal, after a hearing of four days before Lord Justices Scrutton, Lawrence, and Greer, was dismissed. The House of Lords, to which the case was afterward carried, agreed with the Court of Appeal.