Electronic Voice Phenomena


[Article posted with the permission of the Noah's Ark Society]


Mounting evidence suggests that communication between this world and the next may one day be achieved at the flick of a switch. That is if we are to believe the claims of a growing number of researchers world-wide who are seemingly receiving spirit world messages and pictures through radios, TVs and computers. The breakthrough is called Instrumental Transcommunication - ITC for short - and is the collective term for conversing with the Other Side using electronic instrumentation. This month, in the first of a two-part series, former Psychic News editor Tim Haigh traces ITC's history, which has its roots in the Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP).

Looking back through Spiritualist archives in search of some sign that communication with the so-called dead would some day evolve to fit in with the modern age, it was reading the works of Theosophist Alice Bailey that I found what I was looking for. Bailey was not a Spiritualist - I think she would have shuddered at that description - but nevertheless her writings offer the student of spiritual science a great deal. In 1936 Bailey's great teacher, the Tibetan Master DK, whose words she faithfully transcribed over a 20-year period dictated these words: 'Within the next few years the fact of the eternity of existence will have advanced from the realm of questioning into the realm of certainty. Through the use of the radio by those who have passed over, will communication be set up and reduced to a true science'.
Was this a prophecy based entirely upon inner plane insights? Students of EVP might think so because it was not until 1959 that Swedish film producer Friedrich Juergenson famously captured voices on audiotape while taping bird songs - of which more later.

But if you trawl back through psychical history to the beginning of this century, you will find reference to a little known American anthropologist named Waldemar Bogoras. For it was he who conducted the first known experiment in which voices of 'conjured spirits' were recorded on an electrical recording device.
Bogoras was on a trip to Siberia to visit a shaman of the Tchoutchi tribe when his experience took place. In a darkened room, he observed a spirit conjuring ritual that entailed the shaman beating a drum more and more rapidly while entering a trance state. Startled, Bogoras heard strange voices filling the room. The voices seemed to come from all corners and spoke English and Russian. After the session, Borgoras wrote: 'I set up my equipment so I could record without the light. The shaman sat in the furthest corner of the room, approximately 20 feet away from me. When the light was extinguished the spirits appeared after some hesitation and, following the wishes of the shaman, spoke into the horn of the phonograph. The recording showed a clear difference between the speech of the shaman, audible in the background, and the spirit voices which seemed to have been located directly at the mouth of the horn. All along the shaman's ceaseless drumbeats could be heard as if to prove that he remained in the same spot'.

It was 25 years, however, before there was to be any attempt to record spirit voices in the West. At the forefront of research was the eminent scientist Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the electric light, who together with his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson was busily at work in his laboratory building a machine to achieve spirit communication. In his diary Hutchinson wrote: 'Edison and I are convinced that in the fields of psychic research will yet be discovered facts that will prove of greater significance to the thinking of the human race than all the inventions we have ever made in the field of electricity'.
Yet Edison was to pass before achieving his goal. But as he lay dying he said to his doctor: 'It is very beautiful over there'. A remark from a man of science that he would only have uttered if he'd seen reality with his own eyes, perhaps? (Edison was to return nearly 70 years later as an integral part of the ITC team on earth. His image and that of filmmaker George Cukor, who died in 1983, appeared on a computer in Luxembourg in 1991).

It was in the 1950s that the baton was picked up, albeit unintentionally, in Italy by two Catholic priests Father Ernetti and Father Gemilli. However, you will not find their names in any history of EVP written before 1990 because the results of their 'experiment' were not published until then. The priests were collaborating on a musical research project; Ernetti as an internationally respected scientist, physicist, philosopher and music lover, and Gemilli as President of the Papal Academy. On September 15, 1952, while the men were recording a Gregorian chant, a wire in their equipment kept breaking. Exasperated, Gemilli looked up and asked his dead father for help. To his amazement his fatherÕs voice was heard saying: 'Of course I shall help you. I'm always with you'.
They repeated the experiment, and the voice, even clearer than before, said: 'But Zucchini, it is clear, don't you know it is I?'.

Gemilli was astounded. No one knew the nickname his father had teased him with when he was a boy. It must be my father, he thought, suddenly afraid for as a Catholic priest he had no right to speak with the dead. Troubled, the two men eventually sought an audience with Pope Pius XII in Rome. Gemilli told the Pontiff of his experience, and was to his very great surprise, immediately reassured. According to the 1990 translated text of his meeting, Pope Pius told Gemilli: 'You really need not worry about this. The existence of this voice is strictly a scientific fact and has nothing whatsoever to do with spiritism. The recorder is totally objective. It receives and records sound waves from wherever they come. This experiment may perhaps become the cornerstone for a building for scientific studies which will strengthen people's faith in a hereafter'.
Yet even this papal reassurance was not enough to convince Catholicism that the phenomenon merited further attention. And there the matter lay until the spirit world turned its attention to the man widely regarded as the founding father of EVP, Friedrich Juergenson (a slightly unfair epithet as it was two men from California, the medium Attila von Szalay and paranormal researcher Raymond Bayless who really initiated the modern EVP era. In 1956, they recorded, quite by chance, a series of paranormal voices on magnetic tape, voices that should not logically have been there. Though Bayless reported their experiments in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, not a single person contacted the society or the researchers to enquire about their work).

Juergenson was a film producer in Sweden who, in 1959 while making a documentary, had decided to tape bird songs. As he began recording, little did he realise that what was to follow would change the course of not only his earthly life but of that he would lead in the world beyond after his death. When he played the tape back he was startled to hear, in among the tweeting and chirping, his mother's voice say in German:
'Friedrich, you are being watched. Friedel, my little Friedel, can you hear me?'. In later years Juergenson said that when he heard his mother's voice he was convinced he had made 'an important discovery'. An understatement if ever there was one. Since then, EVP, as it became known, has been investigated by many psychical researchers, including most notably Dr Konstantin Raudive from Latvia, the USA's Sarah Estep, and in the UK Raymond Cass and George Bonner.

Raudive was a Latvian psychologist who had read Juergenson's book, Radio Contact with the Dead, with a great deal of scepticism when it was translated into German in 1967. Nevertheless he was intrigued and over several years carried out hundreds of experiments under laboratory conditions. Perhaps the most memorable from a scientific perspective was that conducted at the German headquarters of Pye Records in 1971.
The engineers at Pye had invited Raudive to do a controlled experiment in the special sound lab that blocked out all external radio and television signals. They taped his voice speaking into a microphone for eighteen minutes - and heard no other sounds. But when they played the tape back they were amazed to find over two hundred voices on it.
In the years that followed Juergenson and Raudive blazed a trail that many others attempted to follow. But constant criticism that the EVP was nothing more than ambient sounds processed by the mind into a semblance of speech, or snatches of police radio, dampened enthusiasm for research in Europe. During the 1970s and early 80s in the United States, however, it continued to evolve with much of the work spearheaded by a retired engineer, George Meek.

Opening a small laboratory with a friend in Philadelphia in 1971 after a lifetime's interest in the paranormal he became immersed in the EVP - and soon realised its limitations. Meek was convinced that for electronic communication with the dead to really make its mark, apparatus more sophisticated than he had found on his travels in Europe would be necessary.
The way to go about building this, he decided, was to contact someone who had passed on and work with him and his team in achieving two-way communication. Meek wrote to the now defunct American magazine The Psychic Observer, which put him in touch with Bill O'Neil, an electronics engineer who was also a very gifted clairaudient and clairvoyant.
Through him, MeekÕs team, later to form themselves into the Metascience Foundation, made contact with a man who had been dead for five years and who was a medical doctor while on earth.

'Doc Nick', as he became known, suggested to O'Neil that the team use certain audio frequencies instead of the white noise traditionally used by EVP researchers. This, he said, would serve as an energy source against which the sounds produced by his vocal cords could be played. It worked. Soon after, a spirit being calling himself Dr George Jeffries Mueller, was recruited to the team - or rather he announced he had come to join them after materialising one afternoon in O'Neil's living room.
Mueller was a dead university professor and NASA scientist. He told Meek and O'Neil he had died in 1967 and gave them numerous facts with which to verify his identity including his security number; the place where his death certificate could be found; and intimate details of his life and scholastic achievements. All of them checked out.
He began communicating regularly; helping to design a new piece of electromagnetic equipment that would convert spirit voices to audible voices. On October 27, 1977, his first words were recorded on the new system Meek called 'Spiricom'.
Tapes of the Mueller conversations were released to the public and make fascinating listening. You can plainly hear Mueller joking with Meek and O'Neil and discussing topics from his favourite foods to the view of time from the spirit world. He gives unlisted telephone numbers asking them to make calls to confirm the identity (which they did successfully) of the people at the other end (usually top-level government personnel); and he gives O'Neil precise directions with which to help build experimental video equipment.

The clarity of the communications is quite astounding - and sometimes amusing: in one conversation, Mueller identifies a problem with a particular device and impatiently barks at O'Neil:
'The fault lies in an impedance mis-match which can be corrected by using a 150 ohm half-watt resistor in parallel with a 0.0047 microfad ceramic capacitor'. But Mueller eventually broke contact after telling Meek and O'Neil that natural law meant he could 'not be here forever'. (He did in fact return once more to a group of ITC researchers working in Rivenick, Germany, led by Adolph Homes. In 1991 they received on a TV screen an image which was unmistakably that of Dr Mueller).
Meek concluded that Mueller's consciousness had expanded to such a point that Spiricom could not be used for communication so exposing one of its flaws. It had become clear that the most limiting aspect of the device was the fact that it depended almost entirely on the operator possessing mediumistic or psychic abilities, like O'Neil.

George Meek fully accepted this and never patented Spiricom in the hope that science would carry on his work and take it to the next step, going beyond what he and O'Neil were able to accomplish.
In 1982 he held a press conference in Washington, USA, and revealed Spiricom's secrets. The conference made little impact on a largely sceptical world; in fact a large section of the media even refused to attend, so the device went largely unreported - except by the tabloids who naturally poked fun. Since then, the focus of attention in terms of results switched to Europe. Nine months after Meek went public, on January 15, 1982, an electronics engineer Hans-Otto Koenig, helped the now defunct Radio Luxembourg broadcast live what was claimed to be a two-way conversation with a dead person. Koenig had invented an ultrasound device after closely following MeekÕs work which, he claimed, could replicate the Spiricom and Mueller/O'Neil dialogues. The equipment was set up under the watchful eye of the Radio Luxembourg engineers. The device, nicknamed 'Koenig's Generator' by programme presenter Rainer Holbe, was connected to a set of speakers and switched on.
An engineer asked if voices came through on request. Within seconds, a clear voice was heard. It said quite simply: 'Otto Koenig makes wireless with the dead'. Understandably pandemonium broke out. Another question was asked and seconds later a voice replied: 'We hear your voice'.
Rainer Holbe affirmed live on air there had been no trickery and later the station issued a statement stating that its engineers had found no natural explanation for what had happened. Soon after, the device was demonstrated to members of the German EVP Association in Frankfurt where Konstantin Raudive, who had died in 1974, confirmed his presence. On the strength of this, one of KoenigÕs associates Dr Ernst Senkowski, a physics lecturer, electronics expert and veteran EVP researcher, persuaded George Meek to fly to Germany.
After a demonstration of the Koenig's Generator, Meek flew back convinced it was genuine and set about raising money to fund future work. But a year later in 1985, the mantle was picked up not by Hans-Otto Koenig, but by a Swiss electronics expert, Klaus Schreiber who, as a result of studying Meek's Spiricom designs had invented an apparatus he called 'Vidicom'.
It consisted of a specially adapted TV, switched on but not attached to an aerial, with a video camera in front of it to capture images that appeared on the screen. One of the first pictures he received was a blurred, fleeting image of a figure. Over the next few years until his death in 1988 faces of deceased relatives also appeared; some of the images were sharp, some not. Schreiber's friend Martin Wenzel continued his work with some success, but as with Spiricom the Schreiber method, to work effectively, needed to be used by someone with the sensitivity of a psychic and strong inner plane links.

Author's Note: I would like to acknowledge Mark Macy of Continuing Life Research (CLR) for his help in compiling these series of articles. To receive his triannual report Contact!, which focuses on the work of INIT or various books, videos and audio cassettes published by CLR, Mark can be contacted at the following address: Continuing Life Research, PO Box 11036, Boulder CO 80301, USA, or by email at: initus@worlditc.org. INIT also has a web site www.worlditc.org.


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