Thursday, 1 January 2009

Daphne du Maurier: in about 1990, I went to see a medium who appeared to 'connect' with her uncannily

A reader of my blog kindly commented on my last entry, saying they wanted to read about the session I had with a medium who 'brought through' Daphne du Maurier:  here is my account of the really very remarkable (and, for me,unusually convincing) experience....

Many mediums are very sincere and honest (and underpaid!), but I've rarely come across 
anything so uncannily, seemingly accurate as the session I had with a medium which is described below.   This was in about 1990.

I called myself Miss Davies (or 'Davis'), when I first phoned up the medium for a 'sitting', as such things are called.  (I was thinking it was better to err on the side of paranoia: I was writing a column for the highest-circulation magazine of the day - under my own mouthful of a name.  Probably the medium wouldn't know this, or read my stuff, but still... I didn't do TV at the time, so all this made sure I was a very anonymous figure when I walked in.)  

As things turned out, my surname is publicly (albeit not mega-famously) linked with  the sitting below in a way that hadn't occurred to me at all, so my instinct for secrecy about my background turned out to be right.  

This medium, having established a 'link' with someone he said wanted to speak to me, said, 'I'm going to the West Country in my mind's eye, right the way down across England.'

(Well, maybe, I thought.  Because I was partially brought up by my grandmother, who lived in Cornwall.)

'It's a distinguished lady - she's bringing in stacks of paper and a pile of books,' says he.

Yawn-yawn, thinks I,  my gardening-mad, strong-charactered Grannie wrote letters and read books, sure - who didn't, in those days?

'This lady was DEFINITELY born between 1900 and 1910,' thunders the medium.

(No - Grannie was born in 1898.  Possibly he's just a bit out on dates, it's very hard for mediums, think I, patronisingly.)  

'Henry!', he said, 'She's laughing and saying "Henry" and pointing at you. That's a MAN's name!' he yelped indignantly. 

'Yeah, yeah, that's my nickname, short for Henrietta.'   (Not that my grandmother ever dreamt of calling me Henri). 

It got better. He embarked on a series of clues - great fun, and with my mind on my Grannie I couldn't fathom them immediately.  This made the sitting all the more convincing when I finally put the picture together.  

The medium reported that 'this lady' said, 'When I was on earth, I always saw my home, my house, in my mind's eye.'  

Weird comment, I thought.  Wasn't she just living in it?

He then whistled a few bars of a tune - you know how when someone whistles a bit of a song you know, but you can't place it?  'She says it's the title that matters,' said the medium, adding, 'It's not very ladylike that she's whistling, is it? She seems SUCH a lady. Do ladies usually like to whistle?' 

'And she's taking me to the West Indies, to Jamaica,' he added. 'But she always wanted to come home when she's abroad, she's saying.'

He picked up that there's a 'Llewelyn' in my name (Okay, Davies - Welsh - not that I'd spelt it for him).  But the proof of this pudding was nothing to do with me writing high-circulation horoscope columns (which I never did tell him about - they weren't discussed). 

Somewhere round now, I twigged who his 'communicator' was.  He said she was a 'loose link' of some sort. 'But she IS a relative, a cousin. But now she's not saying "My cousin Henri", she's saying "My cousin Rachel" ' , said the medium. 

He went on with many comments - apparently she said that she had 'seen Hitchcock and Larry', 'on the other side'.  By this time I wondered if he knew the story behind all this , which was already in the public domain to some extent. The ' communicator' had died quite recently and no biographical books had come out yet - a fact the medium mentioned.  He swore later on that he knew nothing about the communicator - and even if he had done, including subconsciously, there was no reason he should have linked her to me, sitting in front of him.  

Explanations as follows:

The novelist Daphne du Maurier - the 'spirit communicator' - was my grandfather's first cousin.  I only met Daphne a couple of times, but we corresponded a bit as she was very kind to the young, distant relative who wrote to her aged 14, saying, 'I love your book "Rebecca" '.  The whole tone of the sitting was a little bit impersonal, as befitted that particular relationship.

She was born in 1907.  The medium's dates, as stated originally, did pan out.  And she famously wrote the popular novel 'Jamaica Inn' (as in the earlier Jamaica reference).  She rarely liked leaving her home turf to travel, either - this is a very well-known fact about her.  Another book of hers was 'My cousin Rachel'.   

The unidentified tune that the medium whistled turned out, I realised, to be 'The Road to Mandalay'. Daphne's book 'Rebecca' has an extremely famous first line:  'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again'.  I liked this joke!  

Daphne du Maurier set 'Rebecca' in her own 'dream house',  in reality a house called Menabilly, which she was only ever allowed to rent, not buy.  She was forced to leave this house later in life, and never really got over the loss of it.  Hence what I initially construed as mystifying waffle from the medium, about 'always seeing her home in her mind's eye'. (At this point in the sitting the medium also mentioned that she now had a replica of her beloved house in the spirit world!  Mediums often say this sort of thing, but with Daphne's attitude to her home the comment seemed to carry rather more weight!) 

There was much more that I knew already, or could check was accurate. The medium's view of Daphne was not entirely as I would have seen her (I didn't know her very well, don't forget, a lot of what I knew was family hearsay).  When I finally told the medium who he was talking about, he said, 'Who that?'  (Not his sort of thing, he said, though he did say he remembered seeing  Hitchcock films that I knew were based on Daphne's books). 

Sceptics can knock down almost anything if they want - so often it's not hundred per cent provable.  But I liked this sitting a lot, one of the best I've ever had with a medium (and I've been to scores of not-so-good ones, however honest and well-meaning).  It's nice for me, because I know I fed that medium no information (others must believe what they feel is right).


At 20 April 2011 at 22:03 , Blogger Leatha said...

Dear Henri,

You left us in March 2011. I wish that I had had the opportunity to know you. Just two cordial emails. However, I do feel that I know you a little through Geoff and through Coral's painting which is reproduced on a copy of your memorial program.

In Coral's wonderfully evocative painting, the grace of the ascending spirit, the devoted homage of the cats and the overshadowing protection of the white birds, bespeaks a quality that I know must be so true of your soul. I'm very inspired by "For Henri" is such a treasure.

I often wonder about the longevity of web pages. Can they be accommodated forever on the Internet-an entity that may possibly evolve into something like a universe? I hope your blog is there forever. I still have posts to read after I finish several projects that are hanging fire.

As a teenager growing up in a time, place and way that did not nurture me (an octagonal peg in a round hole as someone once put it), Daphne du Maurier's novels were a saving grace. Sitting in the woods that overlooked the Youghiogheny River, I could read her works and escape to a world brim full of mystery, suspense, romance and adventure. And that is why I was so grateful when Geoff took me to visit Jamaica Inn; my only sadness was that I was not able to walk about the moor.

I enjoy your writing -- it flows with an effortless grace. And I wonder if writing was easy for you. Personally, I find writing a difficult proposition and, although I have been at it since age thirteen, writing fiction is so much more problematic for me than nonfiction. I wish you could have completed your book. Often I wonder how it is that one can have so many dreams--dreams whose completion are interrupted by the travails of daily life. And yet, there are others who do seem to finish their books without sitting up night after night, drinking endless cups of coffee and pacing the floor while anguishing over each construction -- and that after having used up reams of paper! Such a mystery.

Now that you have taken flight and found your own Cair Paravel, enjoy the freedom and joy of new adventures.

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ...." John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

fondly, with admiration,



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