Maurice Barbanell

“Who was the medium for Silver Birch?” This question has been referred to as being the best-kept secret in Spiritualism. The answer was not revealed until it was published in ‘Two Worlds’ of 24th August 1957 by the paper’s editor (c1957–1981), Maurice Barbanell, who revealed himself as being the trance medium through whom Silver Birch communicated. 

‘Psychic News’ had begun on May 28th 1932, with Barbanell as founding editor. He continued in this role until 1946, when (following a disagreement with Arthur Findlay) he left. Sixteen years later, on June 20th 1962, Barbanell returned to his previous role and continued as editor of ‘Psychic News’ and ‘Two Worlds’ jointly until his death in 1981. 

Maurice Barbanell, born 3rd May 1902, died on July 17th 1981 at the age of 79.  Barbanell was cremated; the private funeral was conducted by Barbanell’s ex-Methodist missionary friend, Vernon Moore, who was a member of the Hannen Swaffer Home Circle. Maurice Barbanell was a Minister of the Spiritualists’ National Union.  He was in the first listing of SNU Ministers circa 1938; he also stood for SNU President and Vice-President in 1930 but was beaten by John McIndoe. He was the SNU Area Representative for London for numerous years. 

Silver Birch’s teachings would become well-known through the pages of ‘Psychic News’, ‘Two Worlds’ and various Spiritualist media outlets. It was Swaffer who urged their publication, saying the guide’s teachings were being wasted, as they were heard only by a handful of people; today they are still some of the best Spiritualist philosophy of the twentieth century.