College of Psychic Studies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The College of Psychic Studies (founded in 1884 as the London Spiritualist Alliance)[1] is a non-profit organisation based in South Kensington, London. They are dedicated to the study of spiritual phenomena.


In 1873, the British National Association of Spiritualists (BNAS) was formed at a meeting in Liverpool. By 1882 the group had dissolved due to financial problems and infighting. In 1884, the medium William Stainton Moses and others formed the London Spiritualist Alliance (LSA). The LSA obtained a wider membership including notable figures such as Alfred Russel Wallace and Percy Wyndham. After Moses died, the spiritualist Edmund Rogers became the president. In 1955 the LSA changed name to the College of Psychic Science, and in 1970 it became the College of Psychic studies.[2][3][4][5]

The oldest spiritualist journal in Britain was known as Light. It was formed in 1881 by Moses and was edited by Rogers. It later became issued by the College of Psychic Studies.[6]

In 1886, Eleanor Sidgwick from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) claimed that the medium William Eglinton was fraudulent. The journal Light supported Eglinton and accused Sidgwick of bias and prejudice. Some spiritualist members resigned from the SPR.[7] The spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle was a former president of the college through the 1920s.[8][9] In the 1960s, after a revival in spiritualism, the college associated itself with the Society for Psychical Research, collecting thousands of case files.[9]

In the 1930s the materialization medium Helen Duncan was investigated by the college (then known as the London Spiritualist Alliance). An examination of Duncan's ectoplasm revealed it was made of cheesecloth, paper mixed with the white of egg and lavatory paper stuck together. One of Duncan's tricks was to swallow and regurgitate some of her ectoplasm and she was persuaded to swallow a tablet of methylene blue before one of her séances to rule out any chance of this trick being performed and because of this no ectoplasm appeared.[10] The journal Light endorsed the court decision that Duncan was fraudulent and supported Harry Price's investigation that revealed her ectoplasm was cheesecloth.[11]

According to psychical researcher Simeon Edmunds by 1955 when the LSA had changed name to the College of Psychic Science there was "no doubt that from that time onwards the society was no longer a spiritualist one" as it was accepting non-spiritualist members and held no corporate opinion on the question of survival.[12]

By 1968 Paul Beard was the president of the college for 16 years.[9] The college currently offers twelves courses on psychic abilities.[13] Tony Stockwell is a member of the college.[14]


  1. ^ Cheung, Theresa (2006). The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-00-721148-7. 
  2. ^ Oppenheim, Janet. (1988). The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge University Press. pp. 53-57. ISBN 978-0521347679
  3. ^ Rosemary Guiley. (1994). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 125. p. 334. ISBN 978-0851127484
  4. ^ Fichman, Martin. (2004). An Elusive Victorian: The Evolution of Alfred Russel Wallace. University Of Chicago Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0226246130
  5. ^ Byrne, Georgina. (2010). Modern Spiritualism and the Church of England, 1850-1939. Boydell Press. pp. 60-62. ISBN 978-1843835899
  6. ^ Buckland, Raymond. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-1578592135
  7. ^ Luckhurst, Roger. (2002). The Invention of Telepathy, 1870-1901. Oxford University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0199249626
  8. ^ "Paul Beard". The Times. July 4, 2002. p. 33. 
  9. ^ a b c "Paul Beard Chartered surveyor and President of the College of Psychic Studies who wrote an analysis of the afterlife". The Daily Telegraph. June 15, 2002. p. 25. 
  10. ^ Haynes, Renée. (1982). The Society for Psychical Research 1882-1982: A History. MacDonald & Co. p. 144. ISBN 978-0356078755 "The London Spiritualist Alliance had fifty sittings with her between October 1930 and June 1931; for these sittings she was stripped, searched and dressed in 'seance garments'. Two interim reports in Light were favorable, a third a third found indications of fraud. Pieces of 'ectoplasm' found from time to time differed in composition. Two early specimens consisted of paper or cloth mixed with something like white of egg. Two others were pads of surgical gauze soaked in 'a resinous fluid'; yet another consisted of layers of lavatory paper stuck together. The most usual material for 'ectoplasm' however, seemed to be butter muslin or cheesecloth, probably swallowed and regurgitated. Distressing choking noises were sometimes heard from within the cabinet; and it was interesting that when she was persuaded to swallow a tablet of methylene blue before one of the seances at the London Spiritualist Alliance, no ectoplasm whatsoever appeared."
  11. ^ Hazelgrove, Jenny. (2000). Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars. Manchester University Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0719055584
  12. ^ Edmunds, Simeon. (1966). Spiritualism: A Critical Survey. Aquarian Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0850300130
  13. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (August 7, 2006). "Generation X-Files". New Statesman. 
  14. ^ "Spend an evening with 'The Psychic Detective'". The Citizen. October 29, 2010. p. 7. 

External links[edit]