A busy day today, so two brief accounts of “astral bells.”
Sir,—A few weeks ago, when I was staying in Bournemouth, a curious thing happened which I think is worth recording.
One afternoon I was sitting in my room reading an occult work called: ‘Amongst the Adepts,’ when my attention was attracted to a loud rustling of paper in the fireplace in which there was no fire but only a lot of paper. Thinking there was a rat or mouse there I laid aside the book and looked across the room at the fireplace, expecting to see an animal of that species emerge therefrom.
After a minute or two, as the noise still continued as if something was rummaging about violently behind the screen which hid the grate, I got up, and pulling back the screen examined the fireplace, which I found to be quite empty except for the paper. There was no rat or mouse there and nothing that could possibly have caused the noise, nor could I find any hole or means of exit by which any animal might have passed. Thinking it rather strange, I replaced the screen and resumed my book. About five minutes later the rustling began again, then stopped, and the clear silvery notes of a bell sounded from behind the screen. It rang three distinct peals with a pause between each and distinctly from the fireplace, though the sound had the peculiarity of being far off. I had never heard anything like it before—a very clear, thin, silvery tone, just like what one would imagine ‘fairy bells’ to emit.
Again I examined the fireplace and the chimney, but there was nothing there to account for it. About eleven o’clock the next night—just after I had got into bed and put out the light—the rustling noise in the fireplace began and went on until I fell asleep.
In the middle of the night I was awakened by hearing the ‘bell’ sounding in the air above my bed.
The next time I heard this sound was two evenings later, as I was sitting writing in my room, when suddenly, without preliminary noise in the grate, the ‘bell’ rang out loudly. Since then I have had no further experience of it.
The book I was reading seemed to have something to do with it, as the noise commenced when I began the book and stopped after I returned it to the Spiritualist friend who had lent it to me. This friend, to whom I related the incident, thinks I heard the ‘astral bells’ which are operated by Oriental adepts. These bells used to sound in the presence of Madame Blavatsky, who understood the secret of their production. Have any other readers of ‘Light’ ever heard them? —Yours, &c.,
Reginald B. Span.
Light 14 May 1910: p. 234
Although he was reading an “occult work” (was it With the Adepts: An Adventure Among the Rosicrucians by Franz Hartmann?) and was well-known in Spiritualist circles, was that a slight dig at Madame Blavatsky, suggesting that she understood the secret of the “astral bells” production? It seems to me that similar rustling noises heralded the advent of Gef or some other mischievous polt.
Elevated though Span’s “fairy bells” were, a correspondent calling him/herself “Radium,” chimed in with the silver bells of Spiritualism.
Sir,—During a recent visit to some friends in Bucks, on the Thames, as three of us (ladies) were at dinner, the sweetest silvery bells were sounded, apparently outside the dining-room window, which was open. Several times the bells sounded. We could not make out how or where they were ringing from, so we left the table and all went into the front garden, when lo! the bells were in the room which we had left, first in one corner, then in another, until my two friends got quite frightened and thought, they knew not why, that somehow I had to do with it, as I was only amused. Then I mentally asked that the bells might be stopped, as my friends were nervous— knowing nothing of the power of discarnate beings—and the sounds ceased.
A few days later I was going with a lady for a long cycle ride, and I was told by a discarnate spirit friend that I was to be accompanied on my ride by friends on ‘the other side.’ I laughingly replied that he had no cycle, &c. He said, ‘You will find that I have.’ In the afternoon, as Miss R. and I were quietly toiling up a hill, and chatting, a clear, silvery bell, but quite recognisable as a cycle bell, rang close to us. We separated quickly to allow the other cyclist to pass in the centre of the road, and for some minutes took no notice, but as no one passed us we both looked round. Not a soul was in sight on that long country road ; and then, and then only, I remembered my invisible cycling companion, and found him, as usual, true to his word.
These are only two of many such experiences, perhaps of little interest to the world, but to oneself of much, and I trust readable to Mr. Span.—Yours, &c.
Light 11 June 1910: p. 283
Bournemouth and Blavatsky; bicycle bells in Bucks… a bit of banality, so often associated with Theosophy and with Spiritualism manifestations. Does tinnitus furnish a plausible explanation? Chiming birds or tree frogs?
I’ve written before on mysterious music, and on fairy music, both of which feature the sounds of bells. Other astral bell mysteries? Give me a jingle: chriswoodyard8 AT gmail.com
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.