Stokes, Doris (1920-1987)

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Stokes, Doris (1920-1987)

British psychic who established a worldwide reputation for her clairaudience. Born Doris Sutton, January 6, 1920, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, she grew up in poverty. Her father was gassed in World War I and retired on a small pension; Doris's mother was obliged to take in laundry work to augment the family income. Her father died while Doris was still in school. She left school at age 14 and became a nurse. During this period she discovered she had psychic abilities, but they remained undeveloped.

At 24, she married John Stokes, an army paratrooper. During World War II, she was officially notified that her husband had been killed in action. Reportedly, her dead father appeared to her, however, and stated that her husband was alive and would return, which he did.

Later Doris had another vision, in which her father appeared again to warn her that her baby son would soon die but that he would take good care of him after death. Although the child was perfectly healthy, he died at the time and date predicted. Subsequently John and Doris attended a local Spiritual-ist church, where Doris claimed she was told that she would become a medium. She was unwilling at first, but gradually her mediumship developed. It principally took the form of hearing spirit voices.

In her autobiography, Voices in My Ear (1980), she describes the problems and temptations of a young medium. She was often worried about losing continuity with the spirit voices and the members of the audience for whom the messages came. She was advised by a visiting medium to use one of the "tricks of the trade" by arriving at the meeting early, listening to what people said to each other, then slipping away and writing down conversations and names, to be used later to keep contact between the spirit voices and the audience.

It seemed like cheating, she said, but at her next meeting Stokes tried it, and it was successful, until in the middle of a communication that had been "helped out" in this way contact with the spirit voice was suddenly broken. She struggled to continue, but dried up and had to break off. After two more spirit communications, her spirit guide, "Ramonov," supposedly told her to go back to the recipient of the message and apologize.

This happened at two meetings, after which Stokes determined never again to help out spirit communications in that way, in spite of the fear she felt at losing contact. After that, she openly admitted it to the audience if she lost contact with the spirit voices and simply tried to reestablish the link. She warned other developing mediums to be brave enough to admit it if no messages were being received. In 1948 her credentials as a bona fide clairaudient were endorsed by the Spiritualists National Union in England.

In more than thirty years of mediumship, Stokes attracted large and enthusiastic audiences and also appeared on popular radio and television shows in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. She often dumbfounded skeptical reporters and presenters by the accuracy of her spirit messages. Her reputation as a Spiritualist superstar was phenomenal. On her Australian tour, she packed the massive Sydney Opera House three nights in a row, and a private plane was chartered to take her from city to city. A television soap opera was postponed to make room for her.

Yet this international fame came only in later life. Prior to the mid-1970s, she had lived in modest circumstances in Lancaster, working as a nurse, or giving her mediumistic services to Spiritualist churches for no more than modest traveling expenses, sometimes giving private consultations for £1 (two or three dollars).

Stokes moved to London and became well known as a clairaudient medium, but she never ceased to be amazed by her growing fame. She made no showbiz concessions but appeared on stage in a simple frock, sitting in an armchair, and speaking to her audience in colloquial language.

Her fame attracted derisive and often hostile criticism from skeptics, but she met controversy head on and would not be bullied. In 1980 she appeared on a British television show with professional magician James Randi, who denounced her (without evidence) as a liar and a fake. When Doris challenged Randi to appear with her and prove her a fake, he declined.

In addition to Voices in My Ear Doris Stokes wrote several other popular books of reminiscences: More Voices in My Ear (1981), Innocent Voices in My Ear (1983), A Host of Voices (1984), Whispering Voices (1985), Voices of Love (1986), and Joyful Voices (1987). Their combined sales exceeded two million copies. Unfortunately, in her last years, she was quite ill and had to go through several operations. She died May 8, 1987, two weeks after surgery for removal of a brain tumor.