The highlight of the LLIFS Resource Directory this week is by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Documenting his journey across Australia between 1920-1921, spiritualism advocate Doyle talks about his journeys as well as topics such as mediumship, psychic phenomena and spiritualism.
THIS is an account of the wanderings of a spiritualist, geographical and speculative. Should the reader have no interest in psychic things—if indeed any human being can be so foolish as not to be interested in his own nature and fate,—then this is the place to put the book down. It were better also to end the matter now if you have no patience with a go-as-you- please style of narrative, which founds itself upon the conviction that thought may be as interesting as action, and which is bound by its very nature to be intensely personal. I write a record of what absorbs my mind which may be very different from that which appeals to yours. But if you are content to come with me upon these terms then let us start with my apologies in advance for the pages which may bore you, and with my hopes that some may compensate you by pleasure or by profit. I write these lines with a pad upon my knee, heaving upon the long roll of the Indian Ocean, running large and grey under a grey streaked sky, with the rain-swept hills of Ceylon, just one shade greyer, lining the Eastern skyline. So under many difficulties it will be carried on, which may explain if it does not excuse any slurring of a style, which is at its best but plain English.
The Wanderings of a SpiritualistmOn the Warpath in Australia, 1920-1921
Arthur Ignatius Doyle was born on the 22nd of May 1859 in Edenborough Scotland. His father was an artist and his mother a well-educated woman with a passion for storytelling, it is no coincidence that Doyle is considered to be one of the greatest creative minds in history. While he was expected to follow in his Father’s artistic footsteps, he decided to pursue a career in medicine instead. Surrounded by future best authors such as James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson at University, under the inspiration from his favourite teacher Dr. Joseph Bell, he penned his first piece 'The Mystery of Sasassa Valley' which went onto be published in magazine Chamber’s Journal. The rest as they say is history. He did indeed go on to graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degree, however, most people know him as the author and creator of the iconic character Sherlock Holmes.
While Doyle was a very successful and famous author, it should be noted that he volunteered his services by enlisting in the Boer war, tried his hand in politics, and even had a short legal stint defending those who he felt deserved justice. It was said in some ways he was mimicking his famous character, Holmes. Sadly Doyle also experienced tragic loss as well. His first wife Louisa died tragically on the 4th of July 1906. They had two children together. He did find love and remarried again, however, after World War 1 he suffered more loss. His son, his brother, 2 of his nephews, and his 2 brothers in law were all killed while serving in World War 1. His sense of loss over the years was always channelled through his writing and defending those who were less fortunate than he was. Though people incorrectly state that Doyle was drawn to spiritualism after his son's death, his interest lay in the area long before he was born.
In 1893, Doyle joined the Society for Psychical Research as a self-proclaimed novice in psychical research. At the time it was more like a side hobby where he dabbled with table tipping, mesmerism, and thought transference (which would later be known as telepathy).
In 1894, Doyle was part of a research team consisting of Frank Podmore and Dr Sydney Scott to investigate sounds and disturbances at Colonel Elmore's family home. After spending a few nights and experiencing a 'fearsome uproar' they could not conclude if the house was haunted or if it was indeed a hoax. It was later discovered the body of a 10-year-old child had been buried in the garden. Doyle was convinced that he had witnessed psychic phenomena at the hands of the deceased child.
In 1917, Doyle made his first public lecture on spiritualism. Knowing it could mean the end of his career, he felt it was more important for all of mankind to know. Psychical researchers often disagreed with Doyle and the people he would advocate for. At a time when exposing fraudulent mediums was at an all-time high, Doyle garnered a reputation by being too trusting and having too big of a heart.
In 1925, Doyle and his wife Jean would open 'The Psychic Bookshop', a brick and mortar store that was a book shop, a library, a museum, and a book publishing company based in London.
Doyle remains one of the more controversial figures in the spiritualism community, namely due to his willingness to believe those who were outed as frauds. He was genuine in nature with a big heart and a strong belief in spiritualism.
Just before his death in 1930, Doyle's final written public words were
The reader will judge that I have had many adventures. The greatest and most glorious of all awaits me now.
To read more about Doyle's life and involvement with spiritualism, check out my article:
To read The Wanderings of a SpiritualistmOn the Warpath in Australia, 1920-1921 free by public domain click here
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