(Notes by John Radcliffe
and John McGivering)
A direct attack on the present mania of "Spiritualism" among such as have lost men during the war. It ought to be quoted extensively in the U.S. especially the third verse and the last. It will provoke a great deal of protest and discussion...
The Macdonald sisters in their youth had experimented with table-turning and other spiritualistic practices. From them Trix inherited psychic abilities of more than amateur quality. As a young married woman of twenty-five in India she had discovered that she had a gift for crystal gazing and automatic writing. Now, in her thirties, she again took up automatic writing, with startling results that she reported to the British Society of Psychical Research in London.Adelson writes:
[In 'Table-turning' people sit around a table, place their hands on it, and wait for it to rotate, as a means of communicating with the spirits; the alphabet is recited and the table tilts or rotates at the appropriate letters, spelling out words and sentences. In 'Crystal-gazing' the medium throws herself (or himself) into a trance by looking intently at a bright light, and sees visions or expresses messages which are said to come 'from the other side'. 'Automatic writing' or psychography is writing which the writer states to be produced subconsciously from an external 'spirit' source. Ed.]
Trix's family linked her madness with her psychic interests. When asked whether he thought there was anything in spiritualism, Rudyard Kipling replied "with a shudder": "There is; I know. Have nothing to do with it." He is presumed to have been thinking of his sister.And Andrew Lycett (p. 478) suggests that the condition of Trix in 1917 was very much in Kipling's mind when he wrote "En-Dor".
[Baldwin p. 126.]
... he was uncomfortably aware of the Celtic gift of second sight while disclaiming it in himself – unconvincingly but with good reason – it was present in several of the Macdonalds, including his mother and sister..In 'They', published in 1904, five years after the death of his little daughter Josephine, Kipling had written of a bereaved father finding himself in a beautiful old house, haunted by the ghosts of dead children, including his own lost child, who greets him with a familiar secret kiss on the hand; but he concludes that such things are not for him.
The pressure upon him both from within himself and from friends and acquaintances, and above all from Trix, to resort to mediums after his son was killed in action, must have beem considerable ... his answer was firmly given in the poem "En-Dor".And in Something of Myself (Chapter VIII) Kipling later wrote:
... there is a type of mind that dives after what it calls ‘psychical experiences.’ And I am in no way ‘psychic.’ Dealing as I have done with large, superficial areas of incident and occasion, one is bound to make a few lucky hits or happy deductions. But there is no need to drag in the ‘clairvoyance,’ or the rest of the modern jargon. I have seen too much evil and sorrow and wreck of good minds on the road to Endor to take one step along that perilous track.Despite this personal antipathy towards spiritualism, Kipling was clearly fascinated by the supernatural, and by the mysterious processes of communication across time and space, some scientifically explicable, some less so, which he wrote of in many stories, from his earliest collection to the last. These include:
So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.See also Julian Moore's paper on "The Holy War".