Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

Numerous stories about mediums and psychics are often of a dubious nature, but the story of Florence Cook made people believe that ghosts live among us. Who the famous London clairvoyant really was, and how she managed to achieve such success, we tell in our material.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

The name of Florence Cook has firmly entered the history of spiritualism — all residents of the United Kingdom of the XIX century knew about her experiments, and not only outstanding scientists of that time, but also writers, psychologists and even members of royal families were interested in her activities. We tell the story of a legendary medium who was able to prove to people that death is just an intermediate stage between the past and the present.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

The future legend of spiritualism was born on June 3, 1856 in one of the north-eastern boroughs of London. Her family belonged to the middle class - her father was engaged in construction, and her mother was a housewife. Since childhood, Florence has shown her psychic abilities — according to her mother, the girl had the ability to sense spirits from an early age, which often frightened others.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to GhostsAt the beginning, the girl did not want to take part in the process, fearing possible consequences, but her mother, who supported her daughter, allowed her to prove herself. Sitting down at the table, young Florence was able to establish contact with the ghost in a matter of minutes, as a result of which the table, which was a guide for their communication, began to spin at an unimaginable speed, and then rose into the air with Cook herself.

This incident marked the beginning of Florence's career — since then, she has been regularly approached by residents of London who knew about her extraordinary abilities. However, the more often Cook conducted spiritualistic sessions, the more her strength grew, and the process itself often began to go beyond security.

Once during a session, Florence soared into the air, and the ghosts completely undressed her in the presence of the participants in the process. After this incident, the girl's mother insisted on establishing certain safety rules — from that moment Florence began to receive visitors exclusively in the dining room of their house.

During the sessions, the medium herself was inside a huge wardrobe - the girl tied herself to a chair in order to remain motionless in a trance state, and the clients were outside and communicated with the spirits through a small hole made in the closet door. Very soon, Florence had influential fans - members of wealthy families who turned to Cook asked for help, tried in every way to thank her for the work done.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to GhostsSome simply paid generously for the sessions, others advertised for her, but the lawyer Charles Blackburn turned out to be the most grateful - after contacting Florence, he provided her with an annual allowance, which allowed the medium to fully focus on his own activities and conduct sessions for free, without thinking about the monetary side of the issue.

In 1872, a spirit appeared in Cook's practice that glorified her not only throughout London, but throughout the United Kingdom. During one of the sessions, a ghost appeared in front of Florence, who called herself Katie King. According to her, she was the daughter of the famous pirate Henry Morgan and returned to the earthly world to pay for the sins committed by her during her lifetime.

Since then, Katie has become a regular guest at Cook sessions, and a few months later, more than half of the residents of London were already familiar with her. They described the ghost as a small white spot, which with each new appearance took on more and more human appearance, filling with ectoplasm. Already at the end of April 1872, the clients of the medium could see Katie in the guise of a woman in white clothes, whose image did not give her a ghost in any way.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

Florence Cook during a seance

However, there were also those who did not believe in Florence's abilities and passionately dreamed of exposing her. One of these people was the lawyer William Folkman, who decided to expose the medium at all costs. During his session, he abruptly jumped up from his seat and grabbed the ghost of Katie King by the hand, wanting to prove that she was Florence in disguise.

However, Folkman's plans were not destined to come true — instead of the long-awaited exposure, he saw the enraged spirit literally dissolve before his eyes, and when he opened the closet door, he found Cook unconscious, tied to a chair.

As the assistants of the medium who were present in the house later reported, William Folkman provoked the so—called ectoplasmic shock - a phenomenon in which the abrupt intervention of an outsider in a seance provokes too rapid "absorption" of the energy released by the ghost into the medium's body, which is fraught with serious mental and physical disorders, and sometimes death.

Fortunately, Florence managed to avoid serious consequences — after this incident, it took her only a few weeks to recover, and rumors about the reality of Katie King's ghost only attracted new clients to the Cook house, and also drew attention to her activities of one of the outstanding scientists of that time.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

Florence Cook, Katie King and William Crooks

After learning about the incident at Florence's house, the famous scientist William Crooks decided to cooperate with Cook. He bought an apartment for her in London and became a regular participant in her seances. When he first saw the spirit of Katie King, he immediately checked where the medium was at the time of the appearance of the ghost, and found that she was sitting motionless in her place while Katie wandered around the room.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

Katie with one of the participants of the seance

In addition, some researchers even managed to study the physical data of the ghost of Katie King. One of the observers measured the spirit's pulse, which was 75 beats per minute (while Florence's pulse at the same moment was 90 beats per minute), and another allegedly managed to cut off a strand of Katie's hair — they were golden in color, and Cook was a bright brown-haired woman.

However, the main proof of the existence of the ghost were the photographs that Crooks regularly took during the sessions. The scientist managed to take about 60 pictures, some of which were attended by Florence and Katie at the same time. Unfortunately, only a few of them have survived to this day, and skeptics claimed that the frames were fuzzy and could not serve as real proof of the existence of the spirit.

After that, Florence's life changed a lot. She left her business, got married and moved to Wales, where she was engaged in household work. However, six years later, Cook returned to her old hobby, presenting the ghost of a certain Mary to the residents.

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook, the Woman who Spoke to Ghosts

In 1880, during another seance, one of the participants decided to check the reality of the spirit presented and grabbed Mary by the hand, at the same time opening the curtain behind which Florence was. To the surprise of those present, the medium's room was empty, and the "ghost" turned out to be Mrs. Cook herself.

This scandal became very large-scale, and Florence's reputation was hopelessly damaged. However, most of its supporters believed that the deception on the part of the medium was not intentional — according to them, such a phenomenon may be due to a trance state in which the summoned ghosts have power over the medium's body.

Florence herself was extremely upset by the failure and henceforth conducted sessions only in the presence of an outside observer who was next to her at the time of immersion in a trance state. But it didn't help restore her reputation—people no longer believed that Cook could talk to the spirits of the dead.

Florence Cook

Florence spent the last years of her life in seclusion, communicating only with her husband. She died in 1904 as a result of developing pneumonia. After her death, William Crooks sent a telegram to her husband, in which he expressed his sincere condolences, and also noted her incredible contribution to the development of spiritualism:

Keywords: Conversation | Woman | London | Ghosts

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