There are many people who may think that only the strange and weak-minded would manage to fall into paranormal beliefs. It seems to be natural that this should be a fringe area for only oddball nobodies an weirdos hiding in the shadows, but yet there have been many high profile and well-respected people who have embraced this lifestyle and these theories. One very well-known adherent to the realms of the paranormal was a Canadian politician and Prime Minister, who really embraced the world of the unexplained wholeheartedly.
The man known as William Lyon Mackenzie King had an impeccable reputation. A politician and statesman, he would become the tenth Prime Minister of Canada, serving three non-consecutive terms in the position under the Liberal Party over the years of between 1921 and 1948, making him the longest-serving Canadian Prime Minister in history. He is perhaps most well-known for his leadership and steady guidance through much of the Great Depression and the entire course of World War II, increasing his nation’s economy and morale during those dark times, and he has been consistently rated as one of top-ranked Canadian leaders in all of history. What he was less well-known for was the fact that he was a complete occult and paranormal nutcase.
King had always harbored an interest and belief in the afterlife, and this was intensified especially after the tragic deaths of his father, mother, brother, sister, and a close friend. He became intensely interested in the possibility of reaching out past the veil between life and death through the use of mediums and seances, and although he was technically a Presbyterian he had a deep curiosity and interest in spiritualism and talking to ghosts. King attended his first real séance in 1932, at the home of the widow of a Canadian senator, and after meeting and talking with the famous medium Henrietta Wriedt he by all accounts became from then on absolutely hooked, frequently traveling far and wide, to as far away as London, in order to attend séances and becoming involved with various spiritualists and mediums. He also frequently used Ouija boards, automatic writing, and conducted experiments to detect spirits, and by all accounts he was very heavily into all of this.
One of the phenomena that King got especially absorbed in was what is called “table rapping,” wherein the participants will ask a conjured-up spirit and it will supposedly rap out answers by knocking or banging on walls, tables, or other furniture. King frequently held these sessions in his own Ottawa home, and would claim to have used these methods to speak to his dead mother, his brother and sister, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and even his own dead dog. He would also often entertain mediums from all over the world at his home, and over the years gained an interest in fortune telling, numerology, astrology, the reading of tea leaves and even finding messages etched into shaving cream, as well as the interpretation of dreams, though which he believed the spirits of the deceased could contact us. Throughout it all, King kept meticulous diaries of all of his spiritual experiences and theories, as well as meticulous dream diaries, filling up volumes upon volumes, yet managing to keep this all secret from all but his closest friends. Allan Levine, author of the book King: William Lyon Mackenzie King, A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny, would say of all of this:
He looked for ways to communicate with the dead and he found some reassurance and the mediums always told him what he wanted to hear anyway. They came to Ottawa, they visited him regularly and again no one seemed to notice he had these women staying with him in Laurier House in Ottawa and visiting him. No one asked any questions. There was this stream of ladies going up to his room all the time. And the reporters in the lobby were kind of curious as to who these people are. And two of them were, in fact, British [mediums]. It was sort of just, again, not really talked about. He always felt his mother was with him and he would comment in the diary of spirits visiting him in the middle of the night or in his dreams, He would write down all his nutty dreams. It is impossible to comprehend how anyone, let alone the sixty-year-old leader of a political party, could devote so much of his valuable time to scribbling this nonsense. Yet scribble it he did.
Throughout his career no one really knew about all of this strangeness. So secretive was King about all of this, that in the several decades of holding seances, table rapping, using Ouija boards, and traveling all over the place to meet mediums no one really caught on, with most people just sort of not really looking into it too deeply, or just looking the other way altogether. It wasn’t until his death in 1950 that word really got out to the public on the former Prime Ministers eccentric secret life, with an article in Britain’s Psychic News, after which it hit the mainstream big time in publications such as Maclean’s Magazine and various Canadian newspapers. Most people had had no idea of any of this, and it soon fueled all manner of speculation and debate as to how much of his political career and his decisions had been guided by spiritualism and talking to ghosts. The government was keen to sort of brush this under the table, closing up and locking away King’s diaries, where they would remain until they were finally released in 2001.
The weirdness goes on even beyond King’s death. After his passing, there were several mediums who claimed to be in contact with King’s spirit, receiving messages from him, and his ghost has been seen roaming about his old home in life. It is all the cherry on top of the pile of weirdness that is the life of William Lyon Mackenzie King. It intriguing that he was able to get up to all of this oddness even as he was in such an important position, and it is a wild story of higher up people getting involved in some pretty weird stuff.