Thomas Ashman in 1978
Thomas Ashman and his role as Medium for St Stephen
had a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. As a child early in
the last World War, he attended a school in London, for Christians and
Jews, the Star-Cross School. He thought of himself as a Jew, but
was without any real belief. He had occasionally attended
synagogue, but was never fully accepted because of his mixed parentage.
He had no tertiary education, leaving school at the age of
sixteen. While at school he received a technical education,
learning no languages there.
(I mention this because Stephen twice spoke in a form of ancient
Greek current 2000 years ago in Macedonia, Thrace and perhaps
northern Asia Minor.) At home he picked up a little Yiddish.
During the Second World War he joined the RAF at 17, in 1943,
and on discharge in 1948, married a Polish refugee in England.
This marriage lasted more than twenty years, and he
some Polish, together with a few sentences of Russian. He earned
a living in business, and also hotel management. (It was in 1974
that he married Olive, a New Zealander.)
There was seemingly little in his life to prepare
him, for the
wonderful way in which Spirit was to use him. Nevertheless,
it was he who made the Stephen experience possible.
One night Olive heard him speak words in Latin while
and conveying words of spiritual teaching. On subsequent
nights Olive recorded his words on tape. It seems that when
Thomas was confronted by what was said, and the profundity
and wisdom of it, he felt compelled to become a Christian.
Discovering what had happened, might initially have been
deeply disturbing to him. One does not change one's
world-view so easily. In any case, Thomas did not fight
At first, his becoming "Stephen" was involuntary,
he found a way of praying and then voluntarily allowing his
personality to be supplanted by that of Stephen.
Thomas had this to say about his feelings when this happens:
"Firstly I feel so small as if I am
surrounded by another being,
enclosed, warm and completely protected as if I am a child in
a womb. I am also conscious of his words. The emotion of love
is all around and through me. Happiness almost to the point
of being unbearable without bursting into fragments. But at
the same time I wish to stay in this state forever. Safe, warm,
and loved, beyond my previous existence. When he is gone
an uncontrollable sadness of great loss comes over me and
I unashamedly weep. A feeling of being left very much alone
and separated from joy and safety comes over me. His
beautiful words still ring in my ears afterwards, and the
feeling of great joy is remembered, but soon begins to fade."
It is true that we could use the word "séance", "channelling"
or "mediumship" here. Yet those terms would not do justice
to the situation. Some of those who were to join in listening to
Stephen's word, were also visited, so to speak by "the library
angel", or were involved in deeply meaningful coincidences
drawing friends in different parts of the world. I am suggesting
that we too were caught up in something greater than we were,
in such a way that we could readily identify with the feelings
Thomas expressed. The evidence of the whole experience
was that Thomas and the rest of us were caught up into the
same experience. The Unseen was expressing itself
simultaneously through each and all of us. For these reasons,
to talk of one of us as being a "medium" conveys quite the
wrong associations. For that reason I prefer to speak of the
whole complex event as "the Stephen Experience", to
differentiate it from other occasions when the Unseen
communicates through a group of people.
Thomas was not always aware of what Stephen was saying.
There were even occasions when he had to ask, "Did Stephen
come?" When he was conscious of the sense of what Stephen
had been saying, he sometimes interrupted him. Then Stephen
would stop in mid-sentence, appear to be listening to the
inaudible voice of Thomas, report Thomas' words, answer,
and then he would carry on speaking from where he had left off.