Jock Brocas, author of the newly-published Deadly Departed – great title! – is one of the founders of the American Society for Standards in Mediumship and Psychical Investigation (ASSMPI) and currently its president. He is also an evidential medium in his own right and author of other books in this field, but his new work challenges many of the beliefs associated with spirit communication.
I have been reporting on successful mediumistic communications for decades and have the greatest respect for those whose gifts enable them to comfort the grieving. Receiving evidence that a loved one has survived the transition we call death can be a life-changing experience.
Though many mediums appear to be born with the ability to commune with the next world almost effortlessly, others – wishing to emulate the skilled exponents they see on TV or on church platforms – seek to follow in their footsteps with more enthusiasm than natural talent, and they may need all the help they can get, particularly in recognizing the differences between psychic and mediumistic ability.
Even famous and established mediums had to develop their techniques and hone their skills so that they can accurately interpret what they see, hear or feel and convey that information sensitively to the recipient.
Most will have been fortunate in finding a mentor whose encouragement and mediumistic intuition gave them the confidence to persevere with their development and slowly open channels of communication with the spirit world.
Others, living more isolated lives, may have sought guidance from books that promised to teach them the basics of mediumship, hopefully with good results. But Jock Brocas is one of the first self-help authors to warn novice mediums that their desire to help others might be leading them into dangerous, unknown territory.
There will be mediums who dismiss his claims, insisting that they have never encountered spirits who had the power to damage them physically or spiritually, or even endanger their lives. Brocas’s view seems to be that they have been very fortunate.
The main message of his book (subtitled Dos, Don’ts and Dangers of Afterlife Communication) is: Don’t underestimate the need for protection. Risks that would-be medium might face include possession and obsession, and he warns that novice mediums can experience very real attacks.
Fortunately, as well as giving good advice on the basics of mediumistic development, he also shares techniques for protecting yourself as you slowly progress on your journey.
Some of these methods might raise eyebrows in traditional Spiritualist circles, particularly among veteran mediums who have managed to achieve their high standards by relying entirely on their spirit guides for protection. Brocas, on the other hand, has had a few “close shaves” with evil entities and he tells us that there are tools like crystals, salt baths and angels, which have all made a significant contribution to protection, but not to rely on them alone.
As someone who has no obvious signs of mediumistic ability and even less of a desire to develop it – I take my hat off to anyone with the courage to pursue that path – I was pleased to see that this detailed book is not just for fledgling mediums. You’ll find chapters on the dangers of ouija boards and automatic writing, electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), hauntings, ghosts and, inevitably, fraudulent mediums.
Brocas illustrates these with examples of his own cases, including one titled, “Grounded spirit masquerading as a trusted guide”. There are also contributions And he concludes with a chapter teaching the reader to “Establish boundaries and avoid problems”.
I would like to think that few developing mediums would encounter even a tiny percentage of the paranormal pitfalls Brocas describes, but if I were trying to develop my mediumistic skills, I would certainly want Brocas’s book, and the positive guidance it offers, at my elbow … just in case.