The Ectoplasmic Hand

After my last psychic development class, one of my students joked that, after working as a medium in Canada for 28 years, there was surely nothing under the sun that truly amazed me.

“Not true,” I told her. In the first place, life itself is a miracle and when you’re into the flow of the joy of living, you notice amazing things all the time. I mean, finding out that Sears was having a 33 percent off sale on refrigerators the very day my refrigerator died – while it doesn’t compare to, say, the miraculous parting of the Red Seas – is worth celebrating!

But in terms of sheer wonder, one of the most astounding things I’ve ever witnessed was in a séance led by English physical medium Stewart Alexander. Not only was I able to see a hand made of ectoplasm grow from Stewart’s chest – but it touched me.

Ectoplasm is a cobweb-like white substance that a medium releases, which is then used by spirit to assume a physical form. Think of breath on a cold night. The Lily Dale Museum, in Lily Dale, New York – the largest Spiritualist community in the world – has several wonderful pictures of physical mediums releasing ectoplasm. Others have described the matter as looking like “cheese cloth” and smelling like ozone.

Last October, at a spiritual retreat at Cober Hill, England, Stewart demonstrated the art of physical trance mediumship. I looked forward to the séance for several reasons: Stewart’s skilful evenings are always a treat, and one of his controls is a spirit named Walter, who was a Canadian – one of my fellow countrymen. I’d met the charming Walter at a previous séance, and he was delighted to meet another Canuck from across the pond.

At Cober Hill, none of the 60 or so people in attendance were disappointed. Trumpets danced across the ceiling, and Spirit made their presence known through sounds and other phenomena. But the highpoint of the evening was when Walter called “Carolyn, ma’m” and two others from the audience to come forward and sit with Stewart around a small table that was in front of "the cabinet", a small square area lined by four curtains, where Stewart sat to conduct his séance. The front curtain is able to open and close. The table was lit from below by a soft red light.

Stewart sat within the cabinet, but his hands joined ours to form a circle on the table. As we sat quietly in the total darkness, a mist – a concentrated, thick fog – appeared to leak from Stewart’s solar plexus area. <it>Oh, my God,<> I thought, staring intently at the glowing haze as it slowly coalesced into a mass, then evolved into a hand with webbed fingers and finally into a fully male hand, <it>right before my eyes!<>

 I heard gasps of surprise from those sitting nearby. I’d heard stories about ectoplasmic manifestations – my grandmother was the hairdresser for the psychic of former Prime Minister McKenzie King, and she often grumbled about how difficult it was like to clean the ectoplasm off the dining room chair cushions after a séance.  

 “Hold still, ma’m,” Walter said and with that, this ectoplasmic hand moved across the lit table and gently tapped the top of my hand. The hand was large and well defined. “Not bad for a man who passed a hundred years ago, eh?" Walter quipped.  

I felt lightheaded, a little fearful and apprehensive, being “touched” by the spirit realm. It felt so… otherworldly, is the best way I can put it. The “skin” was warm – warmer than my own hand. Then a sensation of warmth flowed into my hand, up my arm and into my heart. I felt giddy, happy. I began to weep. I had an urge to grasp the hand more firmly, and really experience the connection to Spirit, but I resisted.  After all, the ectoplasm was coming from Stewart and any firmness could hurt him.

The next few minutes passed in a blur. Slowly, the hand began to withdraw back into Stewart’s cabinet; I was sorry to see it go. One of Stewart’s aides helped me back to my seat, and the séance continued. Walter withdrew and Freda, another of Stewart's controls, took over the evening.  The rest of the evening was spent connecting some audience members to their loved ones who had crossed over.

I was still in a daze and, later, was too excited to sleep. The experience of physical mediumship had been profound… and a little sad, as I realized physical mediumship is a disappearing art. So few mediums seemed to be practicing it these days. Besides Stewart, I can think of Steven Upton, a trance healer in England and, in the States, Anne Gehman, and I’m sure there are others elsewhere. But Stewart is starting to pull back on his appearances, and that will be a shame for those of us who have come to know him not just as one of the most reputable physical trance mediums around, but a good and honest soul - a true friend.

If you’d like to find out more about Stewart Alexander, go to And I’d love to hear from anyone else who has experienced physical mediumship. Write me at carolyn @, and please visit me again!