All posts by Lo Potter

Antique How To Book: “Spirit Intercourse” (1917)

Just in time for Halloween we have “Spirit Intercourse” by J. Hewat McKenzie from 1917. But actually it was by his wife (?) and he wrote it down and got it published. It is very difficult to find information on her and it seems he fraternized with a number of mediums during his career as a businessman in parapsychology. His book was immensely popular in the United States during and in the aftermath of World War I. He even published pamphlets about what would happen to the spirits of soldiers attempting to make their way home to loved ones.

Who was his wife? We may never know.

Before we go any further, I need to thank the book seller that helped me find and acquire this book. Remember to support your small book stores this year!

Allen was a pleasure to work with, and so helpful. I highly recommend Burkeyme Books for finding rare and unusual books like this one! They’re very talented at acquiring unique special interest items, especially in regards to primary and period literature. Be sure to check them out 🙂

Spirit Intercourse

I don’t mean anything lewd. What the title means is communicating with and documenting interactions with the dead: aka Mediumship.

In 1917 this book would have gained popularity as Spiritualism began to have a resurgence with the rise of The Great War In Europe. With primarily young men and husbands being sent overseas from the United States with many uncertain how to communicate with their loved ones to confirm their living status, spiritualism was an option to turn to, much like earlier versions had been for seamen for a millennia before. This helped this book gain popularity, especially during and after the 1918 Influenza.

The American Spiritualism movement is complicated. I argue that reactions to Southern Religious Spiritism movements, westward expansion, the introduction of new technologies, and the Civil War had a major role to play with its rise in inland America during the 19th century, but that’s just me and an argument for another time. The main thing is it provided comfort and studies show talking to a deceased loved one do help people feel better. This book, though related, is from a Scottish parapsychologist and should not be confused too deeply with the American movement.

It’s important to note that “spiritualism” as a broad category with many forms is an internationally present form of traditional religious belief dating back farther than anyone really knows. There’s extensive crossover with indigenous cultures of all continents, including those conquered by the romans in Europe. The concepts of this differs from Animism and can be considered similar in philosophical concepts.

Anyways, for this Halloween special edition we are going to try out a few of these methods of communicating with the dead. We have some interesting dead people in Missoula, and I have some interesting dead family members and a number of other potential people to talk to since we live between two cemeteries (quiet neighbors!).

The hardest part was choosing what to do! plus, I can’t just leave all these explanations out, can I? So I’ll be doing a special Halloween Twitch stream reading aloud from this book tomorrow, 31 October 2020. We might even do a laser show (we’ll see how our uploading goes).

For today’s post and following instructions we are going to be focusing on chapter 6: First Steps To Spirit Intercourse. For more on the other chapters be sure to check out the Halloween Twitch stream tomorrow!

Chapter VI: First Steps To Spirit Intercourse

For each of these early preparatory sections from this chapter Jacob and I are going to share our comments on what we found most interesting.

Advice To Beginners

  • A recurring meme of antique how to books is how they are all “at considerable expense” – Jacob and I have both noted this in other antique how to books, regardless of their quality of information.
  • The author is salty (Jacob: very) at many people. Especially those in the fields of theology and psychology. But this is a safe thing for skeptics to do. He ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
  • Be polite – being too skeptical directly towards a medium is rude and causes problems…

Dangers

  • “This doesn’t actually say anything about what the dangers are” – I don’t disagree with Jacob on this.

Difficulties

  • Thoughts cause difficulties (Big Mood)
  • “Claiming to be spirits”

On To The How To!

Planchette

Similar to the planchette used for the Ouija board, this was a toy that took a pencil and drew on a piece of paper. First, one must “magnetize” the paper by having all participants rub their hands over it. Because we do not yet have one of the original style planchettes, we balanced the pencil between our fingers with hands flattened and asked a few questions. The suggested questions in the book were about relatives in Australia or the Pacific (New Zealand?), but we opted for Boston and Florida.

“Does anyone have new warts?”

I believe we can take that as maybe a “no” or “try again”

Table Tilting

Sit alternating male and female around an uncovered table and engage in pleasant but not frivolous conversation. Place hands upon the table and after a time the table will start to move and someone will need to take charge as the spirits get rowdy and begin moving things around. No minimum group size is recommended, so we decided to try with two.

It was surprisingly difficult to get this picture with our set up. Jacob kept trying to hit the camera remote with his toe (in the true spirit of Mediumship) and it kept timing out.

Automatic Writing

With attention otherwise otherwise occupied, hold a pencil and let it do its own thing on a piece of paper and see what happens.

I hope you enjoyed this fun jaunt through and antique how to book on Mediumship. Join me tomorrow on twitch.tv/dreaminventor for a livestream of more of the book being read aloud. Happy Halloween Everyone!

Announcement: Twitch Channel

Hey Everyone!

I now have a channel on Twitch so you have an opportunity to hang out with me while I’m reading antique books, editing photographs, researching photographs, writing, and doing historic document research. As a general warning: my research on primary documents from the 19th and early 20th century can be disturbing. I find out information on what society believed during this time period that may be distressing to some individuals, so viewer discretion is advised.

On occasion I would like to also get our uploading capabilities set such that I can play Steam games with friends, or even Among Us.

Each stream will be titled based on what I am doing. I will get side tracked. In my first stream today I got side tracked with a hand-and-cheek tug-o-war vaudevillian style impromptu comedy performance and it was *fun*. Other interruptions you can expect will include Nyxie playing the piano and Jacob popping into chat.

It’s 2020. I need an excuse to start putting on make up and doing my hair. I need an excuse to start speaking aloud to get used to the sound of my own voice again. I need to interact with human beings outside the house in a way that isn’t potentially life threatening.

I haven’t come up with a streaming schedule yet. Most likely it will be for only a couple hours at a time Monday through Friday. Any weekend hours will be a shocking surprise.

As I work to get this set up, I appreciate patience. At this time, I am limited by frustrations with Spectrum internet being our only option and also *the worst*. Don’t know what I mean?

This is my maximum capability right now.

That’s not really great if I want to interact with people or do much on Twitch. So, we’re working on it. I’m looking forward to being able to interact in real time.

My first stream went live and I hope I didn’t scare too many people away as we were discussing John Cowan, M.D.’s 1915 version of his book “The Science Of A New Life” where we examined an example of the intersection early feminism, the Temperance Movement, the American Eugenics Movement, American Spiritism, Mesmerism, and the many other social movements that were going on prior to the U.S.’s involvement in World War I.

A Reflection On Andrew Jackson

JacksoInaug1929.jpg
source: https://potus-geeks.livejournal.com/1055691.html

Andrew Jackson And “Decades Of Division”

Growing up in Virginia the Civil War history unit always started with Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson – the only president we don’t know the true state of birth for because he was born on the border of North and South Carolina. He is best known as the Original Jackass – the reason the Democratic party has a donkey as its mascot. He took office in 1828 “by a landslide,” reported the papers. In reality? It was the same margin as the previous election. He was popular and earned the name “The Peoples’ President.” He used campaign slogans that suggested he was fighting for the “common man” against the “corrupt aristocracy.” He was extraordinarily popular among White Men (the only people that could vote at the time). Especially southerners, frontiersmen, prospectors, and businessmen who saw his election as a financial opportunity.

His opponents were not his fans. They went so far as to call themselves the Anti-Jacksonian Party. They found many of his actions in office excessive uses of executive power, and he avoided foreign affairs to the extent that it became a point of tension and even had a sex scandal. It’s hard to forget that he is the president most responsible for American genocide against the Native American Nations across the U.S with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. There were even hints of heavy foreign influence regarding his treaties given his avoidance of foreign policy. He added supreme court justices that agreed with him to “stack the courts” to keep his interpretation of the executive powers as outlined in the constitution protected. He set off a chain of events that unfolded for the next 23 years following his departure from office.

Does this sound familiar to you at all?

Here, I’ll throw a quote from this J. Michael Martinez article from July at you:

During his initial bid for the presidency in 1824, Jackson had endured all manner of insults and humiliation. He was an uneducated bumpkin, a blasphemer, a fraudulent land speculator, and even a murderer.

Okay. Hopefully, you see where I’m going with this now.

But What About Foreign Interference!?

Hush. Do you remember nothing from history class? Or did I only learn this because I grew up in The South?

Andrew Jackson and France made a treaty in 1831. Here‘s how that played out:

In an 1831 treaty, France agreed to pay claims for Napoleonic depredations on American shipping. Nevertheless, the French Chamber of Deputies refused to appropriate the necessary funds. Jackson finally lost patience and asked Congress to authorize reprisals if the money was not paid. The French government then demanded retraction of this insult as a condition of payment. Jackson responded in effect that what he said to Congress was none of a foreign government’s business. The impasse deepened through 1835: ministers were recalled and military preparations begun. Finally, under British urgings, the French agreed to construe a conciliatory passage in a later message of Jackson’s as sufficient apology. France paid the debt and the crisis passed without repercussions.

Once the British became involved in 1835, they did not disengage. The continued conflict between Britain and France played out on American soil, as did the conflict over land claims between the United States, Spain, and Mexican independence. This foreign interference did not happen in a vacuum and absolutely influenced the war to come.

France, Spain, England and the fight for Mexican Independence were totally involved in propaganda campaigns during the 23 years leading up to the Civil War. During the Civil War, France actively sent insurgents to spread propaganda to ensure the port cities they cared about (they succeeded with Savannah!) surrendered to General Sherman.

England, on the other hand, was Pro-Confederacy for economic reasons and demonstrated this by choosing to recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation state and trade partner. All of the foreign interference was for economic reasons. The United States provided cheap goods and resources from the backs of slave labor that were integral to major international trade routes in its budding Empire.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find hard evidence of these propaganda campaigns anymore besides what was written in letters, printed in certain newspapers, or specifically distributed in port cities. There’s some evidence to suggest Savannah’s case in General Sherman’s account of the interaction based on the individuals he spoke with and their associates. Other diaries also provide the suggestions of international presence in the decision by the city of Savannah to surrender.

“The houses all had a shut up look – but from many French, Austrian, British + some American flags were flying + from others people were putting out flags. A few doors opened as we passed + faces peered from windows.”

As an international port city (and the future Port Of Call for my family once they immigrated to the United States many many years after the Civil War) a heavy foreign influence is not terribly surprising, but it is often forgotten and left out of discussions about the Civil War.

What Does This Have To Do With 2020?

A week from today you have the option to go vote. You will vote for whomever you choose and that is your choice as an American citizen. I cannot say if the pattern above would have happened had Andrew Jackson only served one term. I can’t say that because that’s not what happened. During Andrew Jackson’s second term tragedy befell his life and, to put it mildly, he started acting more extreme than before and his political opponents vowed to behave in kind. This is when The Petticoat Affair happened. Assassination plots and attempts started cropping up. The most famous story being when he beat his assailant with his cane.

We live in “the cool zone” – we have a responsibility to decide how cool we’re going to allow it to get.


Thank you for reading this today! Please remember to go out and vote a week from today if you haven’t already participated in early voting or you haven’t dropped your mail-in ballot off to be mailed. Feel free to let me know if I need to add any additional sources or make any corrections. I try my best to fact-check, but no one is perfect.

Pet Obituary: Freckles

In 2014, I wrote my first pet obituary for our beloved dog, Freckles. She impacted me as much as many of my other human friends and family have and I knew her longer than some of my other friends that had and have since passed. I wrote this obituary as a gift for my family and through this learned that I love writing pieces that capture the beauty a life can hold and share with the world.

Because this piece is so important to me, I requested that my family allow me to post it here (with some minor editing and personal information removed).

Dear Friends and Family,

On the 29th of August, 2014, our family lost their furry daughter, Freckles. She lived a long life of almost 20 years filled with love, adventure, excitement, mischief, and the never-ending need to prove her intelligence to those bipedal creatures around her. Shortly after Joe arrived with another moving truck, Freckles suffered from a stroke, causing her to lose the majority of control over her hind legs and develop severe reoccurring seizures. Our family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to a new family friend and neighbor for finding a veterinarian that would take us on short notice and relieve Freckles of her pain and suffering in the kindest, gentlest, and fastest manner possible while Glenda and Lo held her, kissed her, petted her, and spoke very softly to her until she passed peacefully.

Freckles joined our family when she was 8 weeks old, rejected by her mother, abused, neglected, and scared of the world. Joe and Jennifer went to Winchester, Virginia to pick up her from the Virginia Border Collie Rescue League during January 1996. Since then our family was blessed with the most amazing friendship and companionship.

When this small 8-week old puppy arrived in our hearts and home in Annandale, Virginia, Rebecca convinced the family to name her Freckles because of the markings all over her legs. Unlike most dogs, responding better to distinct “-ee” or other long vowel ending names, Freckles immediately responded and took on her identity. Perhaps this was the first sign that we had gotten ourselves into trouble with adopting a precocious and intelligent dog gifted with unique cognizance and an understanding of the English language.

The powers that be gifted Freckles with a strong herding instinct. She herded everything. On at least one occasion our family was blessed by watching a small puppy corral a group of slugs on a back patio and herd them. Chickens too could not escape her herding instinct. Our former chicken, Chica, constantly engaged in a battle of tolerance and wits with Freckles as she would crouch in the grass and sneak up on Chica to begin herding her again after Chica’s retaliations against her. Other animals that did not escape her herding instincts included the Canadian Geese at the local community college campus, rabbits, many many insects, and anything else she could herd, sometimes including house guests.

In addition to her herding instinct, Freckles was also gentle and loving. As an example, one night Freckles collected two small baby mice and very gently carried both in her mouth over to where Joe slept and deposited the two babies on his chest. She succeeded in waking Joe and insisting on him caring for them as she nudged them to make sure they were still alive.

As a young dog, she accompanied our family on trips to Florida, New England, and Canada. One of her favorite past times were car rides with Joe and the family. A particular memory from these travels includes a hotel in Montreal, Quebec. After a long day of driving, Joe attempted to piece together bits of French and English in order to communicate with the hotel staff tried to get approval for Freckles to stay in the room with our family. The hotel concierge eventually simply asked “No yap yap?” in broken English, and Joe grateful for the language breakthrough responded “No. No yap yap.”

When Joe’s father passed away, she looked for him everywhere, following his scent around the house in Falls Church, Virginia, mourning his death and crying with Joe. She comforted Joe in silence as he dealt with the loss his best friend, father, and role model in life. Freckles also aided the rest of our family during this hard time, comforting each member individually in very personalized ways, and communicating with us through her imitation of the human language. She kept our entire family together and sane during the greatest loss we had suffered at that point in our lives.

Freckles’ exceedingly brilliant intelligence included many talents, such as problem-solving, language comprehension, obedience, her ability to act as an obedience teacher, and playfulness. Shortly after Freckle’s first growth spurt, she began opening the door to let herself outside, as just one example of her problem-solving abilities. Additionally, her talents in the English language are not to be ignored as part of her remembrance. On more than one occasion Freckles answered yes or no questions by nodding or shaking her head. She also regularly imitated the English language when greeting Joe upon his arrival home from work each day. There is no question that Freckles understood almost everything anyone said within her hearing range. Shortly after obedience training, it became clear that Freckles’ obeyed commands only on her own terms, yet she passed her obedience and expectations of obedience on to other family dogs shortly after their arrival in the family.

Her joy and vivacity in play with Joe were incomparable. Three of her favorite games included Tug-Of-War, the Black Drain Pipe, and catching the hand monster. Freckles aged with grace, dignity, and pride for herself and her family.

Our Family was always welcomed home, snuggled, and sought after, sometimes out of herding instinct, but mostly out of love. Our family human children: Jennifer, Rebecca, Lo, and Austin walked protected by her through the yard, and guarded every moment we walked through the streets of the neighborhood. She watched over the safety of all of Joe and Glenda’s children and the friends of their children of which she approved, both furry and bipedal.

Freckles will be cremated and her ashes placed in an urn made of pink granite to match that of our family memorial. At a future date, our family will take Freckles’s remains on a final trip to Savannah, Georgia to visit the family memorial in a small private ceremony.

Our sincerest thanks to all of our friends and family during this difficult time.


Thank you for reading Freckles’s obituary/memorial today. The comments section is reserved for readers to share their own personal experiences and thoughts around pet obituaries. Do you agree with having them written? Disagree with them? Comments are moderated only to prevent spam and middle school style indecency. Once you have one approved comment on the website you won’t have to wait for comment moderation. I try to get comments approved as quickly as possible.