British mediums have a stellar reputation, yet British mediums have often been derided too, and debunked by cynics and the “forces that be!” One of our most controversial British mediums was Helen Duncan a “plain, stocky woman” considered highly gifted. Alan Crossley, who wrote a bestselling book about her, states she was a “pure soul” who surrendered to the instructions of her Spirit Guide, and certainly did not merit the terrible accusations directed at her, in fact a lesser person would not have survived ignoble treatment!
Helen was once quoted as saying “if I saw a ghost I would run a mile”. In fact, Alan Crossley states “Most mediums are frightened of their own gifts, and hate talking about them”. Crossley, met this amazing woman in 1947, and considers her, “an innocent victim of her own powers”. Many still perceive the slander of her life as ignoble, a slander that was to plague her till she died. In Crossley’s book he attempts to “set the record straight”, yet the fact remains one of the most commanding British mediums was to be lead into very “dark waters”.
Mother of six, a simple woman with compassion for human suffering, Helen Duncan considered her life “a mission” She was born Helen MacFarlane in Scotland, her family was poor, and everyday existence was a struggle, yet even as a child she shocked people with her accurate visions of the future but when she married Henry Duncan he was supportive of her ultra sensitivity. She was the breadwinner and even worked the flax fields to provide for her family when Henry fell sick. “Adversity” could have been her second name, yet she still connected to Spirit, her most distinct gift being the emanation of ectoplasm from her mouth during sances. Some vouch that the electricity passing through her when the ectoplasm materialized caused her to suffer severe burns to her skin. It has to be said that one of our most tuned in British mediums never sought to earn from her craft and the spiritual organisations that hired Helen’s service often paid her a mere pittance compared to other British mediums of the day!
But Helen’s troubles really began during World War II, when survivors of a sunken ship, the HMS Barham, appeared in her sances. She immediately became a “marked woman”. The information regarding that “sinking” would not have been released until two years later; it was top secret at the time. The Secret Service began to watch Helen’s activities closely. Soon she was being accused of “staging” events, on one occasion even covering herself with a white cloth to prove the presence of spirit. She was arrested for this “crime” under the Vagrancy Act. However, things got even more serious when she was imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act of 1735!
Some say her prosecution was a show trial. As Allan Crossley states this ludicrous accusation was a “smokescreen”, because the British Government was afraid their sensitive military plans would be divulged by Helen during one of her sances. The witnesses for her defence described the most extraordinary events took place during her sances. A Nurse Rust insisted that she had been confronted with her husband during a sance. Nurse Rust had said “is it you dear? So I got up from my seat and went right up to him and said kiss me dear!”
During her trial, Helen had offered to give a demonstration of her powers in front of the Court, yet she was turned down by the judge and the foreman of the jury. There was no doubt that Helen was one of our more maligned British mediums at that stage of the proceedings, because even though many more people came forwards to vouch for her authenticity, she was still sent to prison for nine months. In fact, the jury totally dismissed all the evidence for her defence, and her trial would be considered “prejudiced!” in this day and age Even Winston Churchill wrote to the Home Secretary to lament about the “obsolete tomfoolery” of the charges against Mrs. Duncan!
Allan Crossley states, “she was never rewarded for being the gifted and simple being she was. Instead she was denigrated. Yet Helen just sat back and let her mind blowing gift manifest.” Having been privy to her sessions Allan Crossley still vouches for her authenticity, may be because he saw the reminiscences shared between the grieving and their loved ones from the other side, reminiscences that had been channelled by one of our blessed British mediums and her spirit guide, without a doubt!
A channel Four documentary saw the irony of the case also. They reported that those people who had consulted Helen believed in her powers implicitly yet after her trial and imprisonment she was still maligned as a witch. But Helen was anything but a witch, she was one of the most potent British mediums ever known. The fact is, Helen never really recovered from her persecution and public denigration. But we are certain this simple woman, one of our greatest British mediums, is now in heaven conversing with the angels!