Voices (Paranormal)

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Voices (Paranormal)

Paranormal voices may be objective or subjective. The latter category is covered by clairaudience. The former is on the borderline of apparitions, as in the biblical statement: "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:4, 7).

According to Eusebius, a spirit voice was heard by the crowds at the martyrdom of Bishop Polycarp: "Be brave, Oh Polycarp." St. Francis, praying in a little ruined church, heard a voice from the painted wooden crucifix before which he knelt: "Francis, seest thou not that my house is being destroyed? Go, therefore, and repair it for me."

Joan of Arc was started on her mission by voices. "A very bright cloud appeared to her and out of the cloud came a voice." The sentence of death was based on admission of her monitary voices. She heard them first at thirteen years of age. They came mainly when she was awake, but also roused her sometimes from sleep. They were not always intelligible. She believed in them implicitly. The predictions of the voices were mainly fulfilled: the siege of Orleans was raised, Charles VII was crowned at Rheims and Joan was wounded, all as foretold. The preacher George Fox stated in his Journal:

"When my troubles and torments were great, when all my hopes in men were gone so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, O then, I heard a voice which said: 'There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition.' When I heard it my heart did leap for joy."

Dr. Edwin Ash, in his book Faith and Suggestion (1912), described the case of Dorothy Kerin, who, after a long illness and on the point of death, suddenly heard a voice say "Dorothy." She woke up and saw the bed enveloped in light and a beautiful woman holding an Annunciation lily in her hand, saying "Dorothy, you are quite well," putting the stress on "quite." She became instantly well. For her own account, see Dorothy Kerin's book The Living Touch (1919).

There are various types of clairaudience. As a conscious subjective phenomenon, many writers, from Socrates onward, have claimed that their works were dictated by an inner voice. In automatic writing, psychics and Spiritualist mediums are usually unaware what is being written through their hands. Many Spiritualist mediums go into trance and apparently transmit messages from the spirits of the dead through their own vocal organs, sometimes with the tones and mannerisms of the deceased, but often only an approximation. Inspirational speakers, or channelers, also occasionally speak with the voices of spirit entities, while at other time employing their own vocal mannerisms with only the message being dictated by inner inspiration.

In the case of a clairvoyant, images of the deceased are perceived and described by the mediums, sometimes in conjunction with clairaudient messages. Both clairvoyance and clairaudience are classed as mental phenomena, involving extrasensory perception. In such cases, the voices may be paranormal in origin, but not in manifestation, and sometimes they may be more reasonably credited to unconscious mental activity.

Much controversy has surrounded the phenomenon of " direct voice " in Spiritualist séances, where spirits are claimed to speak independently of the medium, either through a trumpet or through a "voice box" built up from ectoplasm drawn from the medium. Both the use of trumpets and the idea of ectoplasm have been largely abandoned.

In line with modern technological developments, a new type of paranormal vocal phenomenon has emerged" Raudive voices, " or " electronic voice phenomenon. " It is claimed that messages, often individual words or phrases apparently from deceased individuals, have appeared paranormally on audiotape recordings. In spite of much research, the evidence is ambiguous, as some apparent successes might be due to a mediumistic power of the investigator, rather than to some susceptibility of audiorecording to communications from deceased individuals.

A variant phenomenon which has been reported anecdotally in modern times is the "electronic visual (or video) phenomenon," in which it is believed that paranormal images have appeared on videotape recordings. Much research remains to be done before such claims can be valida ted.


Ellis, David. The Mediumship of the Tape Recorder. Pulbo-rough, U.K.: D. J. Ellis, 1978.

Lang, Andrew. The Valet's Tragedy and Other Studies. London: Longmans Green, 1903.

Raudive, Konstantin. Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead. Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe; New York: Taplinger, 1971. Reprint, New York: Lancer Books, 1973.

Smith, Hester Travers. Voices from the Void. London: William Rider, 1919.

Stokes, Doris. Voices in My Ear. London: Futura, 1981.

Swaffer, Hannen. Adventures with Inspiration. London: Kennerly, Morely and Mitchell, 1929.