Psychic healing

Psychics & Mediums

Matthew Manning - Psychic Healer ?


Psychic healing. Matthew ManningAlleged psychic and healer, Matthew Manning was born in 1955, and, according to his autobiography, found himself at the centre of inexplicable events from an early age. In February 1967, when Matthew was eleven, the family - his father and mother, sister and brother, were living in a relatively modern detached house in Cambridge. One Saturday morning Matthew’s father discovered a silver tankard, which was usually kept on a shelf above a cupboard, lying on its side on the floor. Though the object was curiously undamaged by the ‘fall’ nothing much was thought of it at the time. However, on the following Wednesday morning the tankard was again found in the same position on the floor. This time the family was a little puzzled and decided to test whether something was causing the object to slide horizontally off the shelf. That night Matthew’s parents surrounded the tankard with a ring of talcum powder. Next morning the tankard was again found on the floor, but the powder ring was undisturbed. It must therefore have risen vertically off the shelf. Soon other objects began to mysteriously move around the house, and the family began to get seriously worried about what they should do.

After contacting the doctor and the police they were put in touch with the Cambridge Psychical Research Society and their expert on poltergeist activity (and author of the book ‘Can We Explain the Poltergeist?’) Dr. George Owen. Though Owen could offer no ‘cure’ for the phenomena, he suggested that, due to his age, Matthew was probably the centre of the activity and that such manifestations rarely lasted more than a month or two. Later, he came to visit the family and was of much help in dealing with the situation.

Meanwhile, according to Manning, the phenomena increased in number and intensity. Various items were moved or disappeared, there were loud knocking and creaking sounds and objects flew violently around the house. As is often the case with poltergeists, no objects moved while the rooms were being watched. As Matthew’s father put it: ‘This poltergeist was a silent operator and not to be caught red-handed. It was teasingly just that much faster and far-seeing than humans.’

In autumn 1968 the Mannings moved to an 18th century house in the village of Linton, about eight miles away from their former home. All was quiet for a while, but in July 1970 the doors on an antique wardrobe in Matthew’s room began opening of their own accord, heralding the return of the poltergeist with a vengeance. Heavy ornaments were moved around, tables and chairs were piled on top of each other, objects disappeared to be found later hidden or in a different place. There were various electrical problems and, in August 1971, apports (objects appearing seemingly from nowhere) began to appear on the landings and staircases, an old bee’s wax candle, fossils, an ancient loaf of rock hard bread and a string of beads were some of the items found. Child-like scribbles materialized on the walls in the house written in pencil, though no one saw them appear - they seemed rather to grow from the walls themselves.

There were also poltergeist outbreaks and other strange happenings at Matthew’s school – chairs and heavy bunk beds in the dormitory were moved around, there were apports such as broken glass, nails and pebbles, table knives were propelled against a wall, pools of water materialized, and odd lights appeared on the walls. The headmaster was at his wit’s end and twice almost expelled Matthew, only relenting at the last minute.

At school Matthew had an out–of-the-body experience where he apparently managed to astrally project himself back into his home; his mother felt his presence and he saw the inside of his house, though physically he was lying on his bunk bed in his school. If he could do this, Matthew reasoned, why not try and astrally project himself into the past? Back at home one weekend he lapsed into a trance-like state. After half an hour he could hear a woman’s soft voice – she identified herself as Henrietta Webb, who had died in 1673 and had lived in the house. Other ‘spirits’ that had lived in the house came through and eventually Matthew found himself witnessing a scene from 1731 when the house had just been built.

Automatic Writing

Shortly after this while Matthew was writing an essay for school, he became stuck for something to write. Suddenly his pen hand went down onto the paper and begun to write incomprehensible sentences in a strange scrawled handwriting, definitely not his own. He later tried this again in the company of six school friends and was soon getting messages from ‘someone’, albeit very confused and unintelligible ones. After this particular experiment in what is known as ‘automatic writing’ there was no poltergeist activity for over thirty-six hours. In fact, every time he practiced automatic writing the poltergeist phenomena would temporarily cease.

Matthew continued to write these messages, the communications becoming more coherent as time went on. Most of them seemed to be from ‘spirits’ who had either died unpleasantly or who did not know they were dead. Matthew also began producing automatic writing in languages completely unknown to him, such as Greek and Arabic.  

Another development was the appearance of signatures on the walls in many different types of handwriting, again seemingly from departed spirits. When pencils were left in a locked room, scratching noises were heard suggesting the action of writing. But this would never take place when anyone was actually in the room watching. In one particular week in 1971 more than five hundred signatures – some dated – appeared on the walls of Matthew’s bedroom. The room had been locked and some of the signatures appeared in extremely inaccessible places such as on the ceiling and even on the lampshade. The signatures apparently represented people from the village that had lived from the 14thth to the 19th centuries, and some of them were subsequently traced through parish registers.

It is not uncommon for writing to be reported in connection with poltergeist hauntings. In Stratford, Connecticut in 1850-51, a Dr. Phelps found the message ‘Very nice paper and very nice ink for the devil’ written on a piece of paper in his study, and in a case in southern India in the 1920s, writing appeared on walls inside the house.  

In a more light-hearted vein, and in an attempt to alleviate the strain of the poltergeist activity, Matthew attempted to ‘contact’ his great-grandfather Hayward Collins – a racehorse owner - and request some names of winning horses at Ascot . The family deliberately did not look at the papers that day to see which horses were running. Hayward gave six names – all of which proved to be running. Of the six given, five finished within the first three and two won. Later Matthew obtained some tips for the Grand National from Collins – he predicted Red Rum to win, Crisp to come second, and advised leaving third place well alone as it was too close. This turned out to be the exact result – third place being a photo-finish.

One evening as Matthew was walking on the school campus he saw a boy approaching him whom he didn’t know. Matthew had drifted off into an almost dream-like state while walking and noticed to his astonishment that the boy was surrounded by a pear-shaped aura of colours that resembled heat waves. These colours then vanished and the boy walked passed. Matthew soon discovered that he could switch himself ‘on’ and ‘off’ like an electric light. If he switched himself on, as if he was going to do automatic writing but didn’t actually do so, he could see auras surrounding people. He found that certain colours seemed to denote a personal trait in the individual – for example a fiery temperamental character showed red as the main colour, but if the person was also kind and generous then this red might be bordered by blue or purple. It seemed that the aura was particularly clear when it surrounded a person with psychic abilities, and weak around those who were ill; he also noticed that a darker shadow surrounded diseased parts of the person’s body.

During the summer of 1971 Matthew spent a lot of time carrying out automatic writing, mainly communicating with a the ‘spirit’ of a man named Robert Webbe, who had built the front of the house where the Mannings lived, in 1731, and had died shortly afterward in 1733. In fact Matthew claimed to have met an ‘apparition’ of Robert more than once in the house. In the written communications Robert seemed not to realize he was dead and still saw himself as owner of the house despite the presence of Matthew and his family. He was also bewildered at modern day (1970s) prices and the presence of ‘horseless carriages’ (cars) and thought Matthew was taking him for a fool.  But there were some discrepancies in dates and personality in Robert Webbe’s communications, and after a time it became clear to Matthew that he was in fact communicating with two people – Robert Webbe senior who died in 1713, and Robert Webbe junior, who built the house. Another prolific communicator, significant in view of Matthew’s later career, was someone called Thomas Penn, who gave extremely accurate medical diagnoses on receipt of a person’s birth date from Matthew.

Some of the inspiration for the signatures on the walls of Matthew’s room and the writings of Webbe must have come from Matthew’s research into his village history for an ‘O’ level history project in 1970, and also from finding the name ‘John Webbe 1731’ scratched into a brick on the outside wall of the house. Matthew amassed a lot of information on the Webbes and attempted to create a family tree for them – but there was a still a lot missing. As soon as he began to write out the notes on the Webbe family, Robert Webbe began his communications, suggesting helpfully that he could fill in the gaps.

Automatic Drawing

In autumn 1971, at the suggestion of his mother, Matthew attempted to communicate with the equestrian painter Sir Alfred Munnings and asked him to draw him a picture. The result was an average drawing of a scene featuring a horse; later that day he drew a camel purporting to come from the early 19th century wood-cutter Thomas Bewick, and later that week a swan, also from Bewick. As time passed Matthew’s ‘automatic’ artistic ability grew and convincing works appeared apparently from artists as diverse as Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and Aubrey Beardsley, despite the fact that Matthew himself had no artistic ability whatsoever. A director of Sotheby’s thought that no one could have copied the style of so many artists, and Belgian art expert Dr. Lambert Jageneau stated that the head of a woman Matthew had drawn ‘automatically’ was definitely from a Matisse. Matthew acknowledged that about 80 per cent of these drawings probably came from his subconscious, but the remaining 20 per cent couldn’t be explained in such a way.

In April 1972 Matthew received an automatic writing message purporting to come from Frederick W. Myers, pioneer psychical researcher and one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research. It read:

You should not really indulge in this unless you know what you are doing. I did a lot of work on automatic writing when I was alive and I could never work it out. No one alive will ever work out the whole secret of life after death. It pivots on so many things – personality – condition of the physical and mental bodies. Carry on trying though because you could soon be close to the secret. If you find it no one will believe you anyway.

Interestingly, Matthew was not the first to claim that he was receiving posthumous messages from Myers (he died in 1901); mediums Leonora Piper and Geraldine Cummins also claimed contact.

Something that Matthew discovered was that if he did no writing or drawing for more than two weeks the poltergeist activity returned. He also found that after automatic writing or drawing for more than an hour his energy began to run out and he felt tired; it then took him a few hours for his powers to revitalize.

Metal Bending

Early in 1974 Matthew and his family, along with millions of other Britons, saw Uri Geller apparently bending metal spoons with his mind on TV. He was persuaded to try it and was successful almost immediately, later progressing onto other metal objects. One scientist, Graham Hodgetts of Cambridge University, was present with other witnesses at a session with Matthew on 8 March 1974, when a tea spoon curled up on the table without anyone touching it. Manning had merely held his hands about six inches away from the spoon and concentrated on it.

Scientists began to take an interest in Matthew’s abilities and in the summer of 1974 he was invited to The New Horizons research Foundation, Toronto, as the main subject of a three-day seminar on psychokinesis, involving twenty-one scientists from various countries. In front of these scientists Matthew was able to demonstrate some of his abilities, but their main interest was in his metal bending and he bent an endless number of keys, spoons and forks until he was tired of the whole thing. One of the experiments Matthew took part in was with Professor Brian Josephson, Professor of Physics at Cambridge University College, Cambridge, and a 1973 Nobel prizewinner at the age of 33. The experiment was similar to the compass experiments with dubious Russian psychic Nina Kulagina (see article on this site). It began with the compass needle completely still, then Matthew moved his hands above the compass and the needle moved around; when he took his hands away the needle, unnaturally, stopped completely dead. Throughout the experiment Professor Josephson experienced a strange sensation,‘as though I was seeing it through a heat haze,’as he told a journalist.

Effects on Electrical Equipment

Psychic healer. Cover of 'The Link' - Matthew Manning's first bookIn Germany to promote his 1974 book The Link, detailing his poltergeist experiences, Matthew underwent a range of tests with varying degrees of success, but at Freiburg his presence allegedly caused the expensive machinery to break down. In fact, Manning records that such was his effect on electrical machinery that when flying he would always ask for a seat at the back of the plane – to be as far away as possible from the flight deck and instrument panel.

Shortly after the publication of The Link, Matthew appeared on the Frost Programme demonstrating some of his psychic abilities to a slightly bewildered David Frost, which included unintentionally causing havoc with the electrical equipment and at one stage bringing Television Centre to a halt. In Barcelona, signing copies of his book, an entire department store blacked out, and when he appeared on Japanese TV there were hundreds of reports of poltergeist activity from all over the country.

According to his autobiographies, it was around this time that Matthew began to attract the unwanted attention of the British security services. A rather mysterious individual calling himself John Steele, apparently connected in some way with the government, made the acquaintance of Matthew’s publisher Peter Bander, and on one occasion brought a pair of Clejuso handcuffs for Matthew to ‘test’. They were German-made and of a very light but absolutely unbendable metal. Matthew tried wearing them for some time but nothing seemed to be happening, so Peter decided to unlock them and take them off. But when he tried he found that the key didn’t fit anymore - one of the bars of the indestructible handcuffs had been bent; it subsequently took Matthew a long time to extricate himself from the misshapen handcuffs. Extensive tests at Brunel University showed no change in the molecular structure of the metal, and X-ray photos proved that no physical force had been used to bend the handcuffs. This was scientifically inexplicable.

The late Lord Rothschild, then head of the security services, also questioned Matthew in detail about his powers. He was asked, among other things, in what countries he would be taking part in experiments in the future, if he could physically affect things at a distance, if he thought he could interfere with radar and how many people he though there were in Britain capable of copying him. According to Manning some people were considering the possibility of him being a security risk.

In 1976 Colin Wilson studied both Matthew and Uri Geller. He noticed that neither had full control over their powers and that electronic equipment in their vicinity would inexplicably malfunction. Wilson spent a morning attempting to record Matthew, but his cassette recorder – which had been in perfect working order until then, and worked fine afterwards – refused to function, consequently the tapes that should have contained conversation with Matthew were blank. Wilson believed, controversially,  that the powers of Matthew and Uri Geller, and psychokinesis in general, were a kind of controlled poltergeist activity.

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