Happy Halloween-time, everyone!
William Mumler is credited with some of the best spirit photos ever taken. He was an amateur photographer in the late 1800s, after the Civil War, when so many Americans were grieving for so many lost loved ones. Mumler filled a void with his work, especially his most famous photo (top left) of the spirit of recently assassinated Abe Lincoln posing with his widow Mary Todd.
So… real or hoax?
Well I can tell you one thing for certain, based on my years of research: Mumler didn’t produce these pictures by himself. Like so many others of his ilk, he had a canny team of covert collaborators.
Let’s figure out the details so we know what was really going on with Mumler’s photography.
As the story goes, he was a jewelry engraver who was captivated by the young art of photography. One of the first pictures he took was of himself, but an apparition resembling his late cousin was said to be posing in the picture with him when the picture developed. That inspired Mumler to pioneer a new field of “spirit photography.”
(More of Mumler’s work can be seen here… and here…. )
There are many articles on the web indicating that Mumler’s work was a hoax, especially articles in that bold fount of skepticism and incrimination toward all things spiritual, Wikipedia, which states flatly, “Today, his photos are considered hoaxes.” And about the Lincoln photo in particular: “Although the image has been dismissed as a fraudulent double exposure, it has been widely circulated.”
And as photography became an art form around that time, with creative exposures, double-exposures, and other creative techniques to manipulate photos, there were indeed many opportunities for and many cases of hoax in the new field of spirit photography inspired largely by Mumler’s work.
But what of Mumler himself?
If you explore objective articles and detailed histories of his work with an open mind and critical eye, you’ll find no proof nor even strong evidence to suggest that William Mumler did anything dishonest with his photographs. Many experts, including experienced photographers of the day, observed Mumler’s process step by step and found no irregularities whatsoever… except for the spirits that showed up in the developed pictures. (Read more here… and here… and here….)
Indeed, his only contemporaries who accused him of fraud were famous professional liars (such as PT Barnum) and closed-minded skeptics who insisted that his spirit photos were a hoax because spirits don’t exist and so spirit photography is impossible… damn any evidence to the contrary. And there was plenty of evidence to the contrary… evidence that Mumler’s spirit photos were for real (as those three linked articles above attest).
So, not much has changed in 125 years. Spiritual researchers keep building good cases for the afterlife through years of diligent effort, and skeptics keep tearing them down with a vengeance.
One thing that doesn’t come up in any of the histories is the notion that Mumler himself was not responsible for the spirit anomalies in his photos… that there was a canny team of covert collaborators who really made the images appear. Even if it has received no attention at all, by anyone, I’m certain that it’s true, based on my research of the past quarter century: the apparitions in Mumler’s photographs were crafted by covert collaborators. I’m absolutely certain that is the case. I’m also fairly certain that just about everyone on Earth will agree with my reasoning, whether during their lifetimes (if they become spiritually astute) or after they die (when they see first-hand what the afterlife is really all about).
I don’t make that claim lightly. I’d stake my life on it… for what that’s worth at age 68. 🙂
So, who were these collaborators?
First and foremost, it was Mumler’s wife Hannah, who was a spiritual healer, or “healing medium” as she preferred to be called.
Anyone who’s intimately familiar with spiritual healing (or healing mediumship) knows that the medium herself is simply a carnal vehicle or instrument for a skilled and finely vibrating spirit team. The spirit team draws on the life energies of the human medium and adapts them into various energies that can make desirable changes on both sides of the veil.
It’s the members of Hannah Mumler’s spirit team who I believe are the real “covert collaborators” who made her husband’s spirit pictures happen so intimately… with the spirits’ hands resting gently on the subjects’ shoulders, or wrapped lovingly around their necks… all posed in a similar, friendly and loving way. I think that was all choreographed by Hannah’s spirit team, who helped each spirit pose correctly for the photos.
I’m sure a similar spirit team was working with me during some of my experiments with the luminator, for example when the face of the late John Denver showed up when I took a picture of Joy Schilling. It was the spirit team who most likely invited John Denver to show up and participate in that conference in Colorado Springs, and who showed him how to move into the Joy’s aura so that his spirit body could become dense enough to appear in the Polaroid photo. Again, it was the canny collaboration of the spirit group who made it possible. It wasn’t Joy or me.
I’ve learned from ITC research that a skilled spirit team is one of several prerequisites for a stable, enduring communication bridge between Earth and spirit. (Unlike EVP, which is basically getting random, recordable thoughts from whatever spirits happen to be around at the moment. EVP sessions might or might not get the attention of a skilled spirit group. If so, then a committed experimenter might eventually become part of a stable, lasting ITC bridge.)
More advanced and reliable communications, like Mumler’s pictures, like my spirit face photos, and like some of the ITC bridges that were established in Europe in the closing years of the 20th Century, have to be choreographed by a knowledgeable spirit team. And that has to come together with another of those prerequisites: a skilled, sensitive medium with an ITC disposition (such as Hannah Mumler or, more recently Maggy Fischbach of our INIT group).
I hope this gives a clearer understanding of what’s really going on in good, legitimate spirit communication… like the work of William Mumler.
A giant thanks!… to Atheria (Carrie Ryan) for the heads-up
on the recent Smithsonian article about William Mumler’s photos…..
And here’s a more recent article that explains the details of how spirit photography works… from the spirit’s point of view! Most fascinating. (2018-07-31)
It must require some effort and work on the part of the spirits to get their images to register, which shows how keen they are to persuade us earth-bound humans that they are often around us. I sometimes sense them, and think I get quick shadowy glimpses but a photograph would be even better. Thanks for the post, and all of them. I don’t often respond, but always interested. Tosca
I’m being told to tell you that if you verbalize that you’d like some of your unseen friends to show up in photos, they will. Focus on having them show up. It’ll “call them” to you.
Thanks Atheria, I haven’t been taking spirit face photos for several years, since Polaroid stopped making its 600 Film. I haven’t been experimenting at all for years, instead spending my time trying to round up what I’ve learned about spirit communication and the afterlife and publishing it, mostly here on this blog. But I’ll keep your suggestion in mind in case things change.
Great article, Mark! I’ll share this! 🙂
Very interesting article and seems to show that even with basic apparatus spirit can communicate if they want to. Robbert Van Den Broeke produces amazing pictures and I’ve seen articles calling him a fraud too. Thanks for the article it helps with my own thoughts as always.
Hi Kate, yes, Robbert van den Broeke does excellent work and gets amazing results.
Like most of the great receivers of invisible spiritual assistance who start getting public attention, he’s come under serious attack by skeptics and others trying to undermine his work and discredit him personally.
The battle between truth and doubt rages on…………
Hi,Mark, that photo appears more like a womans face to me rather than John Denver. It could be possible that everyone sees different likenesses like cloud formations. But the image is fantastic in its self that points toward phenomena beyond our understanding.
Thanks Julian, I suspect that most people who were familiar with John Denver’s appearance, especially in the early years, would immediately see the likeness, without any hints or prompting.
But I could be wrong……