Silver Birch Speaks
Before we begin, here is some background information for two of the main protagonists of this article, not including Silver Birch himself; this is given so you have an awareness of the people concerned and that, whilst displaying an air of eccentrics they were well established people of the time.
Frederick Charles Hannen Swaffer (1 November 1879 – 16 January 1962) was an English journalist and drama critic. His views tended to be left-wing, but worked mostly for right-wing publications, many of them owned by Lord Northcliffe. He was an advocate of spiritualism, and an adversary of capital punishment.
Swaffer was born in Lindfield, Sussex, the eldest of eight children of a Folkestone draper, Henry Joseph Swaffer, and his wife, Kate Eugenie Hannen. He was educated at Stroud Green Grammar School Kent and joined a local newspaper in Folkestone as an apprentice reporter. His first published article was a review of a performance by George Grossmith at the local town hall. His reviews were so insulting that he was banned from the local theatre which became the first of many such bans during his career.
After further experience in provincial journalism, Swaffer joined The Daily Mail in 1902, and worked for its proprietor Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) for the next seventeen years. In 1904 Swaffer married Helen Hannah, daughter of John Sitton, a Clapham grocer; they had no children. They remained married until Helen's death in 1956, although he left her at intervals for various mistresses.
Swaffer was editor of Northcliffe's Weekly Dispatch and then helped develop The Daily Mirror, originally a paper for women, into a mass-market title. In 1913, he initiated ‘Mr Gossip’ for The Daily Sketch. He also started ‘Mr London’ for The Daily Graphic and contributed to the ‘Plays and Players’ column in The Sunday Times. He was appointed editor of The People in 1924 but was unsuited to the duties of editing a paper and held the post for only a few months. In 1926 he became drama critic of The Daily Express and The Sunday Express.
In the 1930s Swaffer became interested in spiritualism, which became one of the causes he promoted, along with socialism and the abolition of the death penalty. He claimed that his spiritualist circle had conjured up the ghost of his former employer, Northcliffe, as well as those of other dead celebrities.
The Manchester Guardian commented on Swaffer's air of self-importance equal to that of Bernard Shaw himself; he raised professional egotism to a fine art. For some years in the 1950s, Swaffer wrote a regular column in the then popular Sunday paper The People headed by an image of his part-profile and trademark hat.
Swaffer died in London at the age of eighty-two, outliving his wife by six years.
Barbanell was the founder and editor of a weekly Spiritualist newspaper, Psychic News, and for half a century devoted his life to spreading spiritual knowledge through its columns and those of other publications with which he was associated.
In his own obituary, which he wrote before his passing at the age of 79 on July 17th 1981, he revealed that he was told by Estelle Roberts' Red Cloud - a spirit guide for whom he had the greatest admiration - that in a previous incarnation he had made a promise to reincarnate and devote his life to spreading Spiritualism. Though he had no knowledge of that life or promise, events certainly conspired to make it possible.
He was born to Jewish parents in a poor area of London's East End. His mother was devoutly religious but his father, a barber, was an atheist so Barbanell heard many arguments about religion during his early years. His father always won, and his son adopted the same outlook but later changed to agnosticism. Yet after hearing about Spiritualism from a speaker at a social and literary club of which he was secretary, Barbanell refused to start the debate by putting an opposing view - one of his duties - because, he explained, he had made no personal investigation and therefore his opinions were valueless.
This impressed the speaker who invited Barbanell to attend a seance in which a medium, Mrs Blaustein, was entranced by various spirits of different nationalities. He was not impressed, and on a second visit fell asleep. Barbanell apologised, believing that either boredom or tiredness had been responsible, but the other circle members informed him that he had not been asleep but had been in a trance and a Red Indian had spoken through him.
With the encouragement of the famous Fleet Street journalist Hannen Swaffer, Barbanell founded Psychic News partly as a vehicle for the guide's teachings. But, because he knew he would be criticised for publishing his own mediumship in his own newspaper, Barbanell did not reveal to his readers for many years who was channelling the wisdom, by which time the guide had a huge following on his own merits.
Silver Birch spoke regularly at Barbanell’s home circle and the proceedings were always recorded shorthand. There were a number of differences in style and procedure between Barbanell's own journalistic efforts and the way in which Silver Birch communicated.
So, now that you have some background information on the two people mainly concerned with the following recording, you can decide for yourself to the wisdom imparted by Silver Birch. Be aware that the recording is about 40 minutes in length, so make time to listen to it all the way through and remember that this was but one of many such sittings that took place.
You can read more about Silver Birch by search for his writings online at places such as Amazon and your local book store. Enjoy and please feel free to comment …