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Simeon Edmunds

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Simeon Edmunds

Post by Candlelight.kk on Sat 22 Apr 2017, 11:34

(originally posted on Mon, 14 Jul 2014, 2:02 pm)

British hypnotist and writer on psychical research, born on April 13, 1917. Edmunds was research secretary of the College of Psychic Science, London, 1956-62, and contributed articles to Light, the journal of the Society for Psychical Research. He became associate editor of Tomorrow magazine in 1962. He also wrote several books.


Edmunds, Simeon. Hypnosis: Key to Psychic Powers. London: Aquarian Press, 1968.

——. Hypnotism and the Supernormal. Hollywood, Calif.: Wilshire Book Co., 1968.

——. The Psychic Power of Hypnosis. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1968.

——. Spiritualism: A Critical Study. London: Aquarian Press, 1966.

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Re: Simeon Edmunds

Post by Candlelight.kk on Sat 22 Apr 2017, 11:35


( from PsyPioneer Journal - Volume 10, No. 06: June 2014 )

Introduction by LP: There are relatively few general surveys of Spiritualism; some are pro, some against and some neutral. Simeon Edmunds claimed objectivity, in the introduction to his survey, but how true was that? After reprinting the introduction to the book, we turn to the obituary of Simeon which appeared in Psychic News.

This quotes from what is perhaps the best review of his Survey, which had appeared in JSPR September 1967 and was written by Muriel Hankey, who had been principal of CPS when Simeon served on its council. It is not our policy to reprint JSPR material because this is electronically available to SPR members, but we should certainly point out that in her review she corrects from her inside knowledge the account of the “exposure” of the physical medium William Olsen given by Simeon.

Below is the introduction to Spiritualism a Critical Survey, by Simeon Edmunds.

On the inside of the cover it states:

FACT, fancy – or fraud?

A well-known member of the Society for Psychical Research conducts this honest, comprehensive and hard - hitting investigation into a controversial subject. He meticulously sifts the evidence, presenting it with neither praise nor condemnation.

The facts tell their own story. Mr. Edmunds outlines the history and background of the spiritualist ‘movement’ and the beliefs and claims of its adherents; considers the evidence for ‘spiritual’ healing; illustrates the effect of suggestion and the will to believe; discusses possible explanations of alleged manifestations, and poses a number of questions which spiritualists — so far — seem to have left unanswered.

Few authors have the specialized knowledge to present this subject adequately; even fewer have the personal background of investigation and experiment to do so with authority. Simeon Edmunds has these qualifications: the result is a book which is both readable and convincing. —



THE first question that arises, of course, is ‘Why?’ Why make such a survey? What is the need for it? I think the answer, in part at least, is elegantly put by W. Whately Carington, one of the most eminent of all investigators of this subject. He wrote:

‘Whether we like it or not, spiritualism is a force in the modern world which cannot be ignored. It may be a Heaven sent revelation, or a peculiarly subtle machination of the devil: it may be wholly a delusion, it may be merely immature: there may be the germ of a new conception of the universe in it, or there may be nothing. But many thousands of people believe in it to a greater or lesser extent, and it is well that the great mass of educated persons who, in such matters, constitute “public opinion” should know something of its true strength, weakness and dangers, should be able to distinguish between the serious elements in it and mere silly accretions, and thus be in aposition to accept, modify or reject it for the proper reasons.’

The sensational articles and reports of so-called investigations, bearing such titles as ‘Enquiry into Spiritualism’, ‘Spiritualism: the Facts’, ‘Is Spiritualism True?’ and so on, appearing with almost cyclic regularity in the popular press, also indicate clearly (assuming that editors know their public) the wide interest shown in this highly controversial subject.

Every year, thousands of people — in the main sane, sensible men and women — their curiosity aroused by such articles, or drawn perhaps to the subject as the result of a bereavement, attempt their own ‘enquiries into spiritualism’ , and endeavour to ascertain the truth about it. But how is this ‘great mass of educated persons’ , as Carington called them, to discover the truth and thus put themselves in ‘a position to accept, modify or reject it for the proper reasons’?

There seems to be a real need for a reasonably comprehensive, unbiased introduction to the subject, and this is the purpose of my survey: to give the intelligent newcomer a broad outline of spiritualism and a true picture of its position in this country today. It is not, as the word ‘critical’ in the title has led some people to assume, in any way an attempt to ‘expose’ or ‘denigrate’ spiritualism, nor is it a statement of my own personal views, which are here unimportant. Where certain of the claims of the spiritualists seem to be true I shall outline the supporting evidence; conversely, where they seem unsupportable I shall leave the facts to speak against them. I certainly do not seek to convert anyone to a belief in spiritualism, but by the same token this book is in no way an effort at ‘debunking’ for its own sake. As I have said, my aim is to set out the facts, dispassionately and objectively, in an attempt to provide the reader with a basis on which to form a reasoned opinion of his own.

In this book I shall try to eschew esoteric jargon wherever possible, but to make the necessary definitions clear and concise where technical expressions are unavoidable. To this end, I have tried to envisage, and sometimes put myself in the place of an imaginary enquirer, a man in the street whose only knowledge of spiritualism is derived from casual conversation and from the sensational type of article to which I have already referred. Let us assume that his appetite has been whetted and he would like to know more. His first problem will be to decide where to turn for the knowledge he seeks. His most likely course will be to approach his local spiritualist society (or if he lives in London, one of the larger organisations) or to study the pages of the various journals devoted to the subject.

A consideration of the psychic press, which the newcomer, rightly or wrongly, can be expected to regard as the voice of spiritualism, leads us naturally to an examination of the various spiritualist organisations which advertise therein. Indeed, the psychic press is a convenient focus for many of our observations, although here it must be stressed that by no means all spiritualists are in agreement with much that appears therein. However, our imaginary enquirer will not know this, though he may well beconfused by the conflicting opinions expressed by writers in the various spiritualist magazines and newspapers.

Much of his confusion will probably stem from the difficulty in distinguishing between spiritualism itself and the branch of science devoted largely to the investigation of its claims, namely psychical research. Furthermore, he will be puzzled by the dissension apparent in the spiritualist press, and he may well wonder if there is any hope at a ll of his achieving a balanced view of the situation as a whole. If, however, our enquirer is a fairly tenacious type of person, he will eventually resolve his perplexity into a number of clear - cut questions: What do spiritualists believe? Is spiritualism a religion? What do their various organisations do and how do they differ? What is the evidence for their claims? How does spiritualism stand in relation to psychical research? How did it all begin? In short, what is spiritualism?



Despite his anti-Spiritualist attitude and refusal to accept that mediumship could prove Survival, Simeon Edmunds ’arrival in the spirit world last week may not have surprised him. He was open minded about an afterlife.

Edmunds, 51, who died from liver cancer, had suffered poor health for two years. He was a vegetarian and a Humanist.

He enjoyed a chequered career in parapsychology. His best work was done in his early days and some of his studies, particularly concerning hypnotism, were useful contributions to the annals of psychic research. But in recent years his biased attacks on Spiritualism damaged his image as a serious psychic investigator.

His books were dismissed, because of his prejudice, not only by Spiritualist reviewers but also by his Society for Psychical Research colleagues. One attack resulted in an apology to Psychic News by “Tomorrow” magazine and Edmunds for his comments about advertisements in our columns.

Ever cautious, Edmunds conceded in his book “Hypnotism and the Supernatural” that it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that “there is some non-material aspect of existence, some extra-physical aspect of man.”

At a College of Psychic Science lecture – he was once its honorary research secretary – he said he agreed with Gladstone’s view that psychic research “is the most important work which is being done in the world – by far the most important.” He said this statement was still true “and it is also my firm conviction that we must look to this branch of science for the key to any possible salvation from the sorry mess in which mankind finds itself at the present time.”

Accused of ‘distortions’

Edmunds was criticised in “Light,” published by the college, when hecomplained about an adverse review of “The Spiritualists” by Trevor Hall. The editor described Edmunds’ letter as containing “offensive phraseology and numerous distortions.”

“Tomorrow” published a verbatim report of a lecture by Edmunds in 1963, in which he referred specifically to a Psychic News advertisement placed by a medium who had given an unsatisfactory stting to a PN reporter. The advertisement continued to appear after the journalist’s adverse report. The magazine, edited by Francis Clive - Ross, had to publish an apology. Edmunds charged that “it seems quite obvious that theadvertisements are not screened or checked in any way, for those by known frauds are freely interspersed with others which may be genuine.”

The apology regretted that “this unwarranted part of Mr Edmunds’ lecture was published ”and agreed it was “a grave reflection on the editorial management of Psychic News and on the advertising manager, Miss Margaret Wilson in particular .” It was satisfied advertisements were screened before publication. Simeon Edmunds personally joined in the apology, said the magazine, “and regrets his mistake.”

His most recent publication “Spiritualism – A Critical Survey” was even more biased than his previous books. Muriel Hankey, an SPR council member, reviewing the book in its “Journal,” said that “it would seem to be a mine of information, rather like the old Bradshaw railway guide, were it not that the reader may find himself occasionally stranded.”

She added that while the author presented himself as a dispassionate investigator “the more discerning reader may well be suspicious that he is not quite so unbiased as would appear.”

Of the same book H. Murton, writing in “Prediction,” said he would not quarrel with Edmunds’ facts “but there is such a thing as bias by selection and omission.”

The SPR was severely criticized for publishing his “Spirit’ Photography.” R.K. Sheargold said the book was offered as a guide for newer members “and the information it contains should be both accurate and free from bias. Unfortunately, it fails in both requirements.”

Sheargold, reviewing the book in America’s “International Journal of Parapsychology,” said Edmunds’ appraisal was disappointing “in the omission of certain evidence which apparently does not accord with his ideas; he has given to his booklet an entirely negative slant.”

Edmunds was an electrical engineer who turned to journalism as a career. He was secretary of the National Union of Journalists’ freelance branch. It is to be hoped that his prejudice against Spiritualism will not prevent himfrom using mediumship to return and prove his own Survival.


This article on Simeon Edmunds can be found in its entirety in PSYPIONEER JOURNAL, Volume 10, No. 06: June 2014

The Psypioneer journal is at present available, complete with all back issues on the web site:

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