The following text has been translated from Italian to English by Vivienne Roberts with the permission of the author, Paola Giovetti. The full version in Italian was first published in 1982 as part of Paola’s book Arte Medianica by Edizioni Mediterranee. I would like to thank Paola for her kindness in giving permission for mediumisticart.com to celebrate the art of Gertrud Emde and learn more about this fascinating mediumistic artist. Copyright of the text remains with Paola Giovetti.
Gertrud Emde (1929-2019) lived in Ottobrunn, near Munich, with her husband Dr Gunter Emde, a physicist, and their two children. The family frequently attended local spiritualist groups and had a strong interest in parapsychology, transcendent sciences and spiritualism. They belonged to Imago Mundi, a society of parapsychology directed by Prof. Andreas Resch. Gunter was their vice president before becoming a founder of the associated group, Via Mundi. It was in this environment that Gertrud’s artistic development began in 1979, when she had the idea of trying to write mediumistically. To her surprise, her hand, instead of writing words, began to make rudimentary line drawings, characteristic of automatic productions.
“Since childhood I have had precognitive dreams and I knew it was possible to write and draw mediumistically, but I never thought I could do it myself. At some point, however, I discovered that I was able to use the pendulum and it made me realise that I could be sensitive to non-material beings, and maybe they could guide my hand. So once, when I was alone and quiet at home, I tried and succeeded. I mentally asked a question, but instead of words came drawings: very primitive at first. I looked at my hand in amazement which independently of my will drew one drawing after another at lightning speed. The result, however, did not satisfy me so I prayed and I submitted my will to His and was urged to trust and be patient. So I continued, like a child who writes with the teacher holding their hand. I am now constantly followed by my invisible guides, who help me in writing, drawing and also in my daily activities. If I’m in the right frame of mind, I immediately notice that the work is easily successful. I could do in a few hours what before took me days.”
From the beginning Gertrud’s drawings depicted two themes which in just two or three days of her compliant collaboration developed into technically refined and complex forms. They were highly surprising coming from someone who could not draw and demonstrated an intense and beautiful luminosity radiating otherworldliness which she interpreted as the product of the activity of two separate entities. A male entity that transmits geometric designs to her, and a female one that draws floral motifs. On occasion Gertrud would pose questions to these guides to which she received answers written with calligraphy that was not her own. Gertrud also undertook tests from the beginning to ensure there was independence of this production from her will. She drew with her eyes closed or blindfolded, and she could see that the production was identical to when she worked with her eyes open. This observation gave her confidence and encouraged her so much that she felt urged to continue with even greater faith and knowledge.
Praying helped the religious Gertrud to meet the right disposition of mind, and to ward off negative influences that a couple of times, especially at the beginning, she thinks she has identified in her work. She was also informed by her guides that the drawings were part of a larger programme, aimed at demonstrating the intervention of otherworldly entities, and also to help her, and through her, help the lives of others. Gradually, as well as drawing, she developed the ability to heal others, to write automatically where she would receive messages that helped spiritual advancement, write poetry and to use the pendulum with ever greater precision. With these abilities Getrud devoted many hours a day, free of charge, to those in need of her advice and skills as a healer. And the drawings, she says, they served to confirm her mission and convey specific teachings.
Gertrud considered her mediumship a task and at the same time a grace from heaven which was “a consequence of my decision to serve God with all my strength and with every minute of my time”. She believed her mediumship encouraged her to talk about life after death, to remind people of their divine origin, their celestial kinship and the need to lead a life pleasing to God. This divine purpose explained to her why in such a short time she had been allowed to receive so much from the spirit world.
Her practice began with “a quiet place, a prayer to God, connection with my angel enabling the communication to flow without need for particular meditation”. After every mediumistic activity she felt rested and happy. It could occur at any time, though the guides told her they preferred daylight when her sight is strongest. In the beginning she never knew what she was going to draw and only once did she have a brief vision of the finished painting. The drawings began with biro quickly followed by coloured pencils leading to larger geometric and floral compositions executed with wax crayons on coloured paper or pastels enriched with gold and silver on white paper (42x56cm). These showed symbolically the radiation and movement of all that exists.
Then came watercolours with increasingly complex structures which at the same time were delicate reminiscent of watermarks. In each case, after her prayers, she received instructions about the choice of colours, brushes, size and position of the sheets, and whether the paper would be horizontal or vertical. She always started drawing from the centre, creating the essential lines and then adding thousands of small marks. The designs consist initially of detached parts; for example, first all the red parts, then the green, then the gold ones and so on, and only at the end did the drawing take shape. It was extremely detailed work, very fine, with a filigree structure, which required a lot of patience from Gertrud. Whereas the early simple drawings took only a few minutes, the more complicated ones took over an hour. The execution was much faster than normal and, as always, no corrections or deletions were required.
In 1981, Gertrud started to paint in oils which were technically very difficult to execute. They were extremely decorative, with a recurrence of decorative metal, revealing a very refined structure made even more precious from gold and silver. They looked like lace and damask sprinkled with pearls and jewellery. Photography does not do them justice as only shows them from one angle. With the benefit of shadows and the reflections of gold and silver when viewed from different positions these paintings totally change shape and colour. This difficult technique is, in Gertrud’s opinion, one more reason not to doubt their origin. The entities that guide Gertrud’s hand transmit, through automatic writing, messages about purpose and content of the paintings and explain to her that through her hand they try to transform spiritual matter into physically perceptible forms. The paintings must therefore be understood as gifts in order to help Gertrud convince people of the existence of a higher world. One of these messages stated: “With the paintings I want to show you, manifest this light, this life, this sparkle, this brightness, this radiation. Everything is life, everything is vibration. This light, this splendor of colours you wouldn’t be able to make it appear on paper by itself. I did to shine these crystals for you so that you can enjoy them. You must to testify of us, of the celestial Lord, you must tell of our Father, you have to talk about life after death. You will always have our protection”.
So Gertrud Emde went on in her mission with her guides that filled her with joy, gave her security and serenity. Finding within her family and circle of contacts an environment that was favourable to the expression of this ability. She was a sweet and gentle woman, endowed with practicality and critical sense, who lived a full life with her relationships and human duties, enlightening them by raising awareness of the substantial unity of our existence and the otherworldly: “Veils divide us, not walls”, her guides said.
Later in her journey Gertrud no longer worked fully automatically as she did in the beginning, but could perceive inner visions that she was convinced were not at all a product of her unconscious, but rather the fruit of contact with another dimension. She considered her paintings precious objects commanding attention, respect and love, and to show to those who are able to understand them. They are tools capable of helping to get in tune with higher planes of existence, another reality which in the words of her guides are “a gift from the celestial spheres, given to our brothers who live in darkness and oppression, so that light may be made in your honor and glory of God”.
Copyright © Paola Giovetti
For other mediumistic artists featured in Paola’s book please see our pages on Salomé, Iris Canti and Fritzi Libora Reif.