Book Review: An Extraordinary Journey

An Extraordinary Journey – The Memoirs of a Physical Medium
Sue Farrow reviews Stewart Alexander’s new book.

Stewart Alexander

Stewart Alexander is a one-off – not just a physical medium, but a physical medium to whom not a whiff of scandal has been attached. He is also the first PM in many a long year to sit down and write the story from the inside of the cabinet, so to speak.

The book is in two parts. The first – ‘My Journey’ – opens with Stewart’s discovery of Spiritualism via a second-hand copy of Arthur Findlay’s classic On the Edge of the Etheric, purchased on a whim by his brother. “As I turned its first page, I did so knowing nothing of Spiritualism, nothing of mediumship and having given little thought as to the possibility of life after death,” Stewart writes.

Findlay’s book was ultimately to alter the whole course of his life. In his own words: “…it launched me on a serious investigation and a personal journey both inside and outside the séance room, which has now extended for over forty years and which has finally culminated in my determination to write this book.”

Those forty years have seen Stewart develop his innate ability as a physical medium to the point where he has been able to bring conviction of the reality of an afterlife to thousands around the world. But just how difficult was the journey? Reading the book, it’s clear that patience has been a vital ingredient in the process. Chapter by chapter, the reader accompanies Stewart on his long and dedicated journey of development, complete with its joys and frustrations, and is introduced to those mentors and friends (on both sides of life) who have played a significant role in his personal story.

There is perhaps an important lesson to be drawn from Stewart’s lengthy experience, particularly in today’s climate when those running highly profitable one-week courses in trance development seem to convey the erroneous impression that such things can be achieved in a matter of seven days.

Part two of the book – ‘Observations and Deductions’ – is at times strong meat. It moves away from the author’s own story into far thornier territory, opening with a damning indictment of the present-day Spiritualist movement, particularly in respect of what Stewart describes as “a vacuum of self-imposed denial.” He goes further, suggesting that the passing of the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act has in fact led to a situation where “it [the movement] all started to go wrong. Instead of capitalising on its hard-fought victory for legalisation, it turned in upon itself and went into decline. The fighting spirit which saw its leadership, together with its rank and file, present a united front in the face of legal injustice slowly became a memory. The Movement’s central message became fragmented, diluted and corrupted, with the result that gradually it lost direction.”

Neither is Stewart impressed with much of today’s mediumistic work. Describing mediumship as “the very bedrock of the Movement,” he suggests that in recent years it has mainly been “transmuted into mediocrity. As a direct result, Spiritualism has paid a heavy price so that today it bears little comparison to what it once was.”

Stewart moves on to tackle emotive issues such as fraudulent mediumship and sceptics, and brings his extensive knowledge of the history of physical mediumship to bear on two of its more controversial exponents – American mediums George Valiantine and Mina (‘Margery’) Crandon. In the case of Mrs Crandon, he offers the reader “a brief overview of now largely forgotten facts,” in the hope that they may afford “a more balanced insight into the extraordinary séance room world of the Crandons.”

The book closes with a postscript entitled ‘Some final thoughts’ in which the author acknowledges that while perhaps accepting the chronicle of his mediumistic development, some readers will “object, disapprove and reject” some of his observations on the current state of the Spiritualist movement. Nevertheless, he adds that everything he has written “has been infused by ‘truth’ as I sincerely believe it to be.”

All in all, Stewart’s book offers a unique and fascinating insight into the life of a physical medium, and tackles a wide range of issues relating to Spiritualism in general. If you’re looking to settle down with an unusual and challenging read during the festive season, this could well be the book for you.

An Extraordinary Journey – The Memoirs of a Physical Medium (ISBN 978-0-9557050-6-9) is published by Saturday Night Press Publications. Priced at £13.99, it is currently available from with a 70p discount.

7 responses to “Book Review: An Extraordinary Journey

  1. It’s great that you have so much physical medium coverage. Hope we will see even more in the next year. x

  2. Phil Hotchkin

    It is good to hear that we have a physical medium still practicing today without fear of persecution. Helen Duncan was a true PM but was ridiculed & branded a fraud then imprisoned for her beliefs & mediumship only to finally succumb to the harsh treatment inflicted on her by the authorities at the time. If Stewart’s book champions the cause for PM then Helen Duncan will be vindicated & her death will not have been in vain. Well done Stewart keep up the good work.

  3. Great review. Its already on my xmas list so fingers crossed santa will oblige! Merry xmas to all at PN.

  4. I have just finished reading Stewart Alexander’s book: ‘An Extraordinary Journey’ and must say that it is a ‘must read’ for any lay person or truth seeker who is searching for the ‘ultimate truth’, a plethora of evidence for survival after what we call death, based on over 40 years of intensive research and personal experiences as a most highly developed physical ectoplasmic materialization medium. For Spiritualists, and people who have attended demonstrations of physical mediumship as well as being knowledgable about this phenomenon, I consider this to be ‘required reading’. This is a rare opportunity to hear, right from the horse’s mouth, Stewarts views, opinions and insights regarding several pertinent issues within the Spiritualist movement, including well thought out and brilliantly presented theories and explanations regarding highly gifted but vilified mediums of the past, in-depth psychological analysis of hard core pathological scepticism, scientific scrutiny and investigation of physical mediumship and the futility of it – based on its 160 year history, inexplicable seance room phenomena , and wonderfully rational insights into the spirit communicators themselves. The contents of this book epitomize honesty and sincerity and alternatively could be called ‘ The Book of Truth’. I would highly recommend this book as it was written by a man with not only a wealth of knowledge and experience about physical mediumship, but also a man whose honesty and integrity have, without any doubt, never been questioned.

  5. I have been looking forward to this book being published for a long time now, and its been truly worth the wait! It’s been a fascinating read having the insight of the Medium behind the cabinet curtain! Over 40 years of Physical Mediumship is captured in this book! Also hearing stories of other PM’s has been enlightening in this wonderful world of physical phenomena which I hold dear to my heart. This book is called An Extraordinary Journey and it is by an Extraordinary humble man! Thank you Stewart for your dedication to spirit and the public. You are a true inspiration to mankind.

  6. Sheila Upton

    An Extraordinary Journey …… A book full of ultimate truth written with feeling and true experience. A remarkable man who has dedicated most of his life to Spirit and public audience.
    It is an honour to have been able to share just a little of the wealth of knowledge and experiences of this very humble man.
    Thank you Stewart … from my heart !!

  7. Vikki Barkhouse

    A truly remarkable book that has to be read!!
    Over 40 years of Physical Mediumship written in this book. It is full of knowledge and experience of this very humble man who has worked closely with Spirit. His love of Spirit has made this book of truth An Extraordinary Journey.

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