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After-Death Communication: The Mystery of the Widow’s Mite

Posted on 14 February 2022, 9:46

Sometime during 1894, Dr. Isaac K. Funk (below) borrowed a valuable ancient Roman coin known as the “Widow’s Mite” from Professor Charles E. West, the principal of a lady’s school in Brooklyn Heights, New York to illustrate it in The Standard Dictionary being produced by his American company, Funk & Wagnalls.  Henry Ward Beecher, a mutual friend, had told Funk about the coin and introduced him to West some years earlier.  As Funk was to recall and report in his 1904 book, The Widow’s Mite and Other Psychic Phenomena, he gave the coin to his brother, Benjamin, the company’s business manager, and asked him to return it to Professor West after a photographic plate of the coin was made.  Benjamin then gave the coin, along with another coin, both in a sealed envelope to the head cashier of the company, who placed it in the drawer of a large safe, where it would remain forgotten for some nine years.

funk

It was in February of 1903 that Funk, a member of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR), was told about an apparently gifted medium in Brooklyn.  He arranged to sit with her and her small group. As the medium was strictly an amateur and wanted no publicity, Funk did not give her name in the book.  He described her, however, as a 68-year-old widow “of little school education, refined in manners.”  She had three spirit controls – a deceased son named Amos, the daughter of her brother named Mamie, who died at age 7, and George Carroll, the deceased friend of a member of the circle.

As a guest of the private circle, Funk did not feel he could impose test conditions upon the medium.  “It was all ‘upon honor,” he wrote.  “After considerable investigation, however, and fuller acquaintance with the family, I am morally certain that this confidence in the integrity of the medium and family at the time of this mite incident was not misplaced.”
 
The medium was of the trance, direct-voice type, i.e., the voices did not come from her vocal cords but from somewhere near her through a floating trumpet. “The voices are of a great variety,” Funk observed.  “I counted in a single evening as many as twenty – some apparently the voices of children, and others of middle-aged persons and old men and women; a few of these are the voices of Indians, and one of a jolly, typical, Virginian Negro. Each voice maintains its individuality during the evening and from one evening to another.”  Most of the communications came from deceased members of the family, especially from the brother’s deceased wife and the daughter, Mamie.

On Funk’s third visit to the medium, George Carroll spoke up in “his usual strong masculine voice” and said:  “Has any one here got anything that belonged to Mr. Beecher?”  There was no reply, but Funk, having known Beecher, a popular clergyman and social reformer who had died in 1887, asked for clarification.  Carroll bellowed: “…I am told by John Rakestraw, that Mr. Beecher, who is not present, is concerned about an ancient coin, the ‘Widow’s Mite.’  This coin is out of its place and should be returned.  It has long been away, and Mr. Beecher wishes it returned, and he looks to you, doctor, to return it.”

Funk recalled borrowing the coin, but told Carroll that it had been promptly returned.  “This one has not been returned,” Carroll replied.  Funk pressed for more information.  “I don’t know where it is,” Carroll said. “I am simply impressed that it is in a large iron safe in a drawer under a lot of papers and has been lost sight of for years, and that you can find it, and Mr. Beecher wishes you to find it.”

At his office the next day, Funk questioned his brother about the coin.  Benjamin said that he was sure he had returned it to the owner.  Funk then questioned the head cashier, who also said it had been returned to the owner.  However, they then searched the safe and found two coins, both widow’s mites, in a drawer under a lot of papers.

Upon examining the two coins, Funk concluded that the lighter one was the genuine widow’s mite.  It was the one displayed in the dictionary.  On the following Wednesday, Funk attended the Brooklyn circle.  Toward the end of the session, George Carroll began talking and Funk informed him that he had found the widow’s mite; in fact, had found two of them.  He asked Carroll if he knew which was the genuine coin.  “The black one,” Carroll replied without hesitation.  Funk checked with the Philadelphia mint and found that Carroll was right and he was wrong.  In fact, they had used the wrong coin in the dictionary illustration. The light one was simply a replica.

As a test of Carroll (or the medium), Funk then asked Carroll if he knew from whom he had borrowed the coin.  Carroll responded that it was Mr. Beecher’s friend, but he could not give a name. Carroll further reported, however, that he was being shown a picture of a college, which he identified as a lady’s college in Brooklyn Heights.  Funk also asked Carroll to whom the coin should be returned. “I can not tell you; I do not know; for some reason Mr. Beecher does not tell,” Carroll said.

At a circle with another medium the following week, Funk further heard from Beecher and was told that Beecher was not concerned about the return of the coin. “What he was concerned about was to give me a test that would prove the certainty of communication between the two worlds, and since that has been accomplished in my finding the coin, he cared nothing further about it.” As West had died, the coin was returned to his son.

Funk ruled out fraud, coincidence, and telepathy and concluded that spirit communication was the most likely explanation.  Further reporting on the sitting with the second medium, Funk was told that Beecher was there and wanted to speak with him. “Sure enough, when the curtains were parted, there was the Beecher face, wonderfully life-like,” Funk wrote. Beecher then spoke to Funk in a deep, husky voice, explaining to him that that the efforts on his side were an attempt to put an end to materialism on earth.  “Do you see my face clearly?” Beecher then asked. “It is with great difficulty that we come back into visible form. You have no adequate thought of the nature, the largeness, and the complexity of the difficulties that must be surmounted by the spiritual world in order to return in this way, but we can surmount these fully, so our scientific leaders assure us.  We have surmounted them in part; your side can largely help by supplying the proper thought and heart conditions. Do not smile when we speak of magnetism and vibrations and waves. There is such a thing as mind or soul ether. To this ether your thought and feeling and will and ours are disturbing and controlling forces – very real. You must study on your side these psychic forces and their laws.” 

Funk reported that the image of Beecher, whatever it was, slowly sank to the floor and disappeared. Before it sank, a hand was placed on his shoulder, although no one was beside him. 

“This case, certainly, represents one that has very possible claims to supernormal knowledge, to the say the least of it,” Dr. James H. Hyslop, the Columbia University professor of logic and ethics turned psychical researcher, wrote when he read Funk’s full report of the case.  “I see no way to impeach it positively.  I could imagine a theory to explain it without supposing the supernormal, but I would have no possible evidence in favor of what I can imagine.”  In fact, Hyslop, an ASPR associate, had accompanied Funk to one sitting with the Brooklyn medium and agreed with him that she was genuine. 

Funk died on April 4, 1912.  On October 2 of the same year, he began communicating with Hyslop through the mediumship of “Mrs. Chenoweth” (a pseudonym for a medium later identified as Minnie Meserve Soule).  Funk provided Hyslop with much evidential information relative to his identity and informed him that communication was not as easy as he had expected when alive.  “Thought produces images and unless the thought is concentrated on some particular thing, the image quickly melts into other images, a kaleidoscope movement,” Funk communicated through Mrs. Chenoweth’s hand while she was in trance.

Funk communicated several more times over the next few months, but did not communicate again until nearly four years later, on June 14, 1916, at which time he referred to the time Hyslop had accompanied him to a sitting with the Brooklyn medium.  This was especially evidential to Hyslop as he was certain that Mrs. Chenoweth knew nothing of the visit.

On June 27, Henry Ward Beecher communicated and also referred to the “money” message.  But neither Beecher nor Funk could get the words “widow’s mite” through the mediums mind or hand.  The words came out either “money” or “bronze medal.”  Then, on February 14, 1917, Funk’s mother communicated and said:  “I know that the idea of medals and medallions and all articles which suggest such form is a left-over impression of his most striking evidence, and he is the receiver of so many suggestions of that nature from the living and dead, because of his known interest in the ancient coin, and it always comes with force as he attempts to write.”

In his June 28, 1916 communication, Funk said, referring to the coin, that “the British Museum holds nothing better.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

Next blog post:  February 28


Comments

A little addendum to my last comment.  As I see it, putting the search for God before the search for survival is much like the rail system being built here on Oahu, Hawaii’s largest island. Our politicians decided it would be nice to have a rail system of about 20 miles in order to cut down on the morning and evening traffic to Honolulu.  Little consideration seems to have been given as to who the riders would be during the non travel to work and home hours. It was supposed to be finished last year at a certain cost.  But now they are projecting 2030 to finish it and at a cost about 5 times higher than the original cost. Meanwhile some of the trains and equipment intended for last year’s start are rusting out or are obsolete. 

If our leaders had given more thought and research as to who would be riding the rail beyond going to and from work, including weekends, holidays, evenings, etc., they wouldn’t have approved the plan in the first place.  It’s like searching for God before you even consider the need for God.

Michael Tymn, Sun 27 Feb, 23:13

Stafford and Amos,

Thank you for the clarification concerning the focus of Meyer, i.e., the existence of God.  As I have often asked, what do we gain by knowing there is a God but no survival. I realize that survival is often implied by the authors or inferred by the readers as they treat God and survival as concomitants.  They probably are concomitants, but the point is that so many atheists, nihilists, humanists, whatever they are called, begin with the premise that God must be proven before even considering the survival issue. I see it all the time on the internet.  No proof of God, therefore no afterlife. All I am saying is that if you begin with the evidence for survival (not only that coming from Spiritualism), you get to God much easier and faster.

Michael Tymn, Sun 27 Feb, 21:34

I don’t think that Dr. Stephen Meyer PhD is trying to prove the existence of spirits or life after death.  His thrust of argument is to provide evidence to support intelligent design of the universe and subsequently of living organisms.  He admits that he has a personal belief in a Supreme Intelligence that created and sustains the universe and life in it. I can’t fault him for not knowing everything there is to know about the history of spiritualism. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 27 Feb, 18:03

Dear Michael (Tymn),

Thank you for your appreciation of my view.

The details you give of the reactions of a range of readers demonstrates that “unconscious SELF-deception” was a frequent occurrence amongst those supposedly-scientific, supposedly rational and honest minds who responded to what Funk told them. 12 per cent. One in eight (5 in 42) people showed they were open-minded and honest enough to claim to be decent humans.

What a colossal debt the whole open-minded world of willing readers (even if only 12% of the over-crowded planet’s population) owe you personally, Michael, for publishing and republishing so much truth.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 27 Feb, 10:36

Michael, it is true that Meyer does not mention the evidence and research we are all so familiar with. He’s not acquainted with it. The reason is that for him the question of God’s existence is his chief concern by a large margin. He accepts survival because, first, his anti-materialist research makes it possible and, second, because he relies on his religion to supply the rest. He is very much a believer in survival and excoriates materialists for their resignation toward such a gloomy end, namely extinction. He is extremely critical of philosophy and science professors who rob their young students of their faith, sometimes with tragic results.

Stafford Betty, Sun 27 Feb, 00:38

Eric, thanks for your meaningful comment.  I meant to add that Dr. Funk submitted his detailed story of the Widow’s Mite to 42 scholars in different parts of the world.  On page 177 of his book, he provides their names, position, and most probable theory.

Five gave “spirits” as the most probable.  They were Alfred Russel Wallace, Sir William Crookes, M. Anesaki, William T. Stead, and Minot Savage.

William James theorized “subjective faculties and spirits, while James Hyslop said “possibly spirits,” as did C. H. Parkhurst.

Eight concluded it was all “fraud.”  The remaining 26 were a mix of “possibly fraud,” “subconscious faculties,” “telepathy,” “self-deception,” “coincidence,” “unconscious deception,” “unknown natural laws,” “a jest” “too trivial to be spirits” “extra-mundane,” and “need more information.”

Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Feb, 23:26

Dear all,

Going back for a moment to Michael’s extremely informative blog about the “Widow’s Mite”, it is worthy of remark to say that after the genuineness of the spiritual phenomena involved has been accepted, the most pertinent part of the blog is the passage describing the difficulties of the Hall Effect-like communication across the ‘barrier’ between universes:

******

Quoting Mike’s blog,

Beecher then spoke to Funk in a deep, husky voice, explaining to him that the efforts on his side were an attempt to put an end to materialism on earth. “Do you see my face clearly?” Beecher then asked. “It is with great difficulty that we come back into visible form. You have no adequate thought of the nature, the largeness, and the complexity of the difficulties that must be surmounted by the spiritual world in order to return in this way, but we can surmount these fully, so our scientific leaders assure us.  We have surmounted them in part; your side can largely help by supplying the proper thought and heart conditions. Do not smile when we speak of magnetism and vibrations and waves. There is such a thing as mind or soul ether. To this ether your thought and feeling and will and ours are disturbing and controlling forces – very real. You must study on your side these psychic forces and their laws.” 

*******

If we are going to understand what the discarnate Beecher and the “scientific leaders” on his side are talking about we must first understand that the spiritual beings, the consciousnesses, in the spiritual realms are, in their own experience of themselves and their universe, JUST AS MATERIAL AND JUST AS “SOLID” as our experience of ourselves in OUR universe. That experience of solidity or the lack of it is a matter of the sensitivity of our touch to what we call matter and what we call radiation. (This is all explained for the intelligent layman in Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’, chapter 15.) The “solidity” and “realness-in-experience” of Beecher’s ‘spiritual’ universe is rather like, some say VERY like, the same phenomena in ours. This suggests that the universe “on the other side” is no “higher” than our own, and so explains why it is so often referred to as the other SIDE, not the other LEVEL, ie not a HIGHER level. If we don’t grasp this we shall never get much further towards the objective which the discarnate Beecher states of eliminating materialism. The nanometre-thick barrier of non-communicability between our universe and the one “the other side” (if it is even that thick! - and how could you ever measure it?) has to be bridged by something like the Hall Effect, which bridges impassable barriers inside our own universe. (In picture-language) an electron crashes into the it, ‘shaking the barrier’ on this side, and evaporates, and an electron appears on the OTHER side of the barrier without having passed through it.

Once we really understand that there is nothing material about the material universe (the one in which we live), but not before this understanding dawns, we can see that there is no need for any other inhabited universe to have materiality either (even though it feel to its inhabitants rather like ours). We can then begin to understand the word ‘spiritual’ as merely ‘seemingly-immaterial-to-us’, and we can begin to fulfil the obligation of which Beecher speaks from the universe Elsewhere in which he now lives, having transferred from our universe by a cosmic-scale ‘Hall Effect’ to it. “You must study on your side these psychic forces and their laws.” We must start by applying Einstein’s advice and PICTURE it (without words). Then we shall understand because it will REVEAL ITSELF to human consciousness.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 26 Feb, 13:13

Thanks to Newton for recommending Stephen Meyer’s new book,“The Return of the God Hypothesis.”  I’m only 35 or so pages into it and am finding it very readable.  I was puzzled, however, by the fact that Meyer mentioned a number of early scholars and scientists who did not agree with the mainstream in ruling out God.  There is no mention of Wallace, Crookes, Barrett, or Lodge. So far, psychical research has not entered the picture and indications are that it won’t.  I really find it difficult to understand why this aspect of it is ignored.  I got the impression from the video you recommended that Meyer was taking a more inductive approach to it and perhaps seeing the early psychical research as pointing to survival, which, in turn, suggested a God, but I will have to take another look at that video.

Michael Tymn, Sat 26 Feb, 06:32

A big thanks to Newton for introducing me to Stephen Meyer’s new book Return of the God Hypothesis. In it Meyer presents a powerful, many- pronged argument against an undirected neo-Darwinian evolution (and against materialism) and for intelligent design. The evidence he presents is not religion-based, and the God that emerges is not the loving God of Christianity, though that possibility is not ruled out. For me it has been fascinating reading. The book is ranked number one on Amazon. Incidentally, the hatchet job that Wikipedia does on Meyer is shameful and should be ignored completely.

Stafford Betty, Fri 25 Feb, 20:33

Dear all,

I see that during the past few weeks notifications of comments on Michael’s blogs are again not being received chez moi. <erf678@gmail.com>.

Dear Newton,

I echo Michael’s good wishes concerning your health. I was about to email the same concern directly to you, but will add my voice here.

Dear Michael,

I agree that we need not try to prove there is a God before we can seek and accept the verdicts of CAREFUL and CONSCIENTIOUS science. If something is acceptable as scientific fact we can accept as a direct consequence that it is already and automatically a part of ‘God’, whatever our conception of that Being, and is thereby certified true, trustable. (It is an axiom of our lives that if there is a ‘God’, that Being is infinite and therefore infinitely trustworthy, for ‘He’ would have destroyed ‘Him’self “long ago” during the fictional historical working out of “”“time”“” if ‘He’ had not been utterly without flaw. But that thinking, too, is flawed by limitation, if in no other way, for ‘God’ contains the fiction WE call and experience as ‘time’, so the question of how ‘He’ came into being has no meaning in REALITY, but only in the clunky kid’s PICTURE we call human consciousness.) If we find, as I contend we do, that there is SCIENTIFIC evidence for the belief that we do not cease to be when our physical bodies collapse, we have grounds for trusting a Great Being, ‘God’, Who “continues timelessly” to contain our ongoing Consciousness, and therefore we have logical grounds for trusting that Great Being, (ie we have thus a genuine and valid “religion”, whether ‘established’ or a ‘sect’, or even a ‘concoction of dogmas’ (but I firmly believe we’re better off without any such humanly-devised and utterly unnecessary ‘formal statements of constitutions’). We need NO forms of words, EVER. (They’re useful ONLY to attempt communication of ideas to others. By ‘communication’ understand ‘verbal description laying out for others to see for THEMselves what we ‘see’ OURselves’) ‘Seeing’ (for ourselves) the reality and NOT verbalising it is the best way of conceiving the evidently inconceivable. This leads immediately to . . .

Dear Amos,

I think we need not trouble ourselves on account of our inability to encompass the thought necessary to decide how space and Being-there came into being. And time is only momentarily-experienced space, as Aristotle ‘saw’ but could not explain millennia ago, and Einstein showed more rigorously a century ago. It is surely beyond us to express it in words even if we persuade ourselves that we conceive it all correctly without words. Even Wittgenstein has a few illuminating things to say about the bewitchment of human minds by their own clunky invention, words.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 25 Feb, 11:42

Newton, I hope the health concern is one that lends itself to a quick recovery.  Thanks for sharing the link to the interview of Dr. Stephen Meyers.  I didn’t get a chance to watch all of it today, but what I did see seems to say what I have continually said at this blog, i.e., that the biggest mistake by science and most people is the idea that a personal God has to be identified and proved before considering the evidence for survival. I hope to watch the rest of it tomorrow.

Michael Tymn, Thu 24 Feb, 08:13

Newton,
Not to go off on a tangent here but I think there has been an avoidance of the elephant in the room so to speak when it comes to the origin of the universe and whether or not ‘God’ created it.  What is overlooked, I think, is space.  Was there a space for the “Big Bang” before that occurred?  If so, if there was space, then that space must have had a place.  Where is that ‘place’?  Is the place infinite or is there a boundary?  Or, was space created at the same time as the Big Bang?  This is hard to get one’s head around I think but there had to be a place in existence in which there was space to be filled by the Big Bang—in which creation occurred.  Was that place totally devoid of anything or was there something like energy within it prior to creation of the physical universe?  Was that energy conscious?  If so, was that energy in space God?  Was it that energy in space that created the Universe?  Is that energy God? - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 23 Feb, 19:49

Right now, my health does not permit a long post (to the relief of some readers, I’m sure). But I urge Michael and his congregation to make themselves aware of a new and powerful challenge to scientism from an eloquent Cambridge PHD (Philosophy of Science), whose interviews, presentations, and debates are all over YouTube. He’s attacking scientism, the arch enemy of spiritualism, from within science itself, and here’s just one fascinating interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5iVRIWtIcA

Newton E. Finn, Wed 23 Feb, 17:27

Lee, as one Fellow of the Royal Society, Sir Oliver Lodge, put it:

  “The aim of science has been for the most part a study of mechanism, the mechanism whereby results are achieved, an investigation into the physical processes which go on, and which appear to be coextensive with nature.  Any theory which seems to involve the action of Higher Beings, or of any unknown entity controlling and working the mechanism, is apt to be extruded or discountenanced as a relic of primitive superstition, coming down from times when such infantile explanations were prevalent.”

I believe much the same can be said today.

Michael Tymn, Mon 21 Feb, 03:14

Lee,
Of 1074 Fellows invited to answer the survey, only 248 replied of which 211 (85%)were materialists apparently. I think that might tell us more about people who respond to a survey concerning such an arguable topic?  On other fronts the materialists tend to be very vocal and in-your-face with their opinions so I am wondering if that is what these results suggest?  Perhaps they suggest nothing more. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 20 Feb, 23:54

An interesting 2013 survey of Fellows of the Royal Society (n= 1047)regarding their belief in consciousness survival (God, etc.):
https://evolution-outreach.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1936-6434-6-33#:~:text=Fellows of the Royal Society of London were invited to,survey of attitudes toward religion.&text=Overwhelmingly the majority of Fellows,and to survival of death.

248 responded to the survey and of these 85% did not believe in consciousness survival.

It would be interesting to compare the % of preeminent scientists of the 19th century who believed in consciousness survival with those who believed in 2013 or today (based on polls not limited to Fellows of the Royal Society).

Lee, Sun 20 Feb, 22:54

I wonder, Lee, if materialist reductionism, a/k/a scientism, is finally on the way out. Recent arguments for intelligent design seem suddenly to be winning, even among some formerly hardcore scientists. If you’re not yet tuned into this stuff, check out some of the YouTube interviews or debates featuring Dr. Stephen Meyer.

I also wonder if the success of intelligent design will spill over into psychical research, the history of which Michael has worked so diligently to keep alive. It attacks materialism from a different direction, from above rather than below, and a pincer move combining the two could be checkmate for scientism’s increasingly tenuous position.

What I find most interesting is how the facile and promiscuous multiverse response to the intelligent design argument mirrors the equally facile and promiscuous super-psi response to the findings of psychical research. Do not both involve the juxtaposition of pure speculation to hard facts?

Newton E. Finn, Sun 20 Feb, 17:17

I wanted to post a follow-up to my post of a few days ago asking if people on this forum would be willing to disclose their academic and perhaps work backgrounds. Right after I posted I figured there would be no responses as I should not have asked for such specific personal info. Also, I did not mean to ask for such information to insinuate that someone had to have a certain background to have an opinion on matters of the afterlife. I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer to the question of consciousness survival, regardless of their academic or work background.

What I should have asked was whether anyone posting had a background in hard sciences as I know that, based on polls, only a small % of scientists (in physical sciences) believe in anything related to parapsychology. I was curious as to whether anyone here has a background in a physical science (beyond perhaps just a few university courses); I suspected that there would perhaps be no posters here with such a background but I should have simply asked whether anyone here has a background in a physical science and left it at that.

I should point out I personally know those with PhDs in physical sciences who work in various scientific fields who believe in the possibility of consciousness survival. I had informed them of this forum and suggested that they engage on the subject here but they had all declined, for whatever reason.

Lee, Sat 19 Feb, 18:55

Anthony, it has been some years since I studied the Piper material, but I’m pretty sure that the Piper researchers had doubts about Rector being the same Rector that communicated through Moses. As I recall, Rector was the only one of the Imperator group who communicated through Piper. However, Moses himself communicated and there was much doubt by the researchers that it was actually Moses.  I don’t recall the details and will have to find it all to refresh my memory.

Michael Tymn, Sat 19 Feb, 16:15

Thanks Michael and Amos — I’ll search to see if a past blog post covers the Imperator Band of spirits in depth, but it’s interesting to me that Imperator came through W. Stainton Moses and Leonora Piper (maybe even others?) Do you know if the researchers who studied Piper took it for granted that Rector/Imperator was the same entity that WS Moses knew of?

Anthony, Sat 19 Feb, 02:16

Mike,

Excellent piece. Every time I read these things I keep thinking it would be great if someone did a comparison of Seth and mediums in terms of how reality works. There is so much overlap. One explains it in 21st century science; the other in 19th century scientific understanding. But they both describe the same definition of reality.

Michael Schmicker, Fri 18 Feb, 23:12

Thanks Anthony,
For the link to the book by Stainton Moses.  I have ordered a copy.  I think it provides greater insight into a writing style of Moses (which I prefer) without the influence of Imperator and his group.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 18 Feb, 16:25

I am putting a course in poetry appreciation on my bucket list. Thanks to all who have helped me realize this need. 

As Anthony has indicated, the Abraham Florentine case as detailed by W. Stainton Moses in the link he provided is a very intriguing one. For those not familiar with the case, I very much recommend it.

Michael Tymn, Fri 18 Feb, 12:00

Thank you, Michael — you were right: the story was connected to William S. Moses. When I googled Moses and Kosciusko St, I came across a book by Moses, “Spirit Identity” and discovered the exact address of the “man from Kosciusko St.” His name was Abraham Florentine and he lived at number 119. It’s a neat story, you can read it here starting on page 110.

https://books.google.com/books/about/Spirit_identity.html?id=Lc1MAQAAMAAJ

Anthony, Thu 17 Feb, 22:09

Beautiful poem,Michael. My interpretation is All is one. The oneness of All That Is.

Chris, Thu 17 Feb, 17:50

The poem can be read, I think, in two ways. The first is as a tender expression of the idea that we live on in other than our individual capacities—in our children and other loved ones, in the good effects we have had upon the world, in the beauties of nature and human existence of which we were a part, etc.

The other way to read it, the way I choose to read it, is as an allusion to an afterlife which is more than the sum of these things, yet which, because being beyond time and space, is able to partake of them. Sort of a group soul idea universalized.

Newton E. Finn, Thu 17 Feb, 15:51

For those of you who have lost a spouse or significant other I offer the following poem - AOD

HIDDEN RIVERS

When my hours of emptiness
Ride the waves of chronic discontent,
I find the thought of you only
Can calm the seas of my torment.
And my tormentor never stops;
My mind is tossed upon the stones of solitude
And consciousness drops.


The separation of our love
Only heightens happy days.
The memories of you, your smile,
Your laugh, your liquid voice still stays
Within my heart and makes my spirit
Sing with joy and sheer delight.


I see you, yet I cannot reach your hand
To hold it close to me.
I hold you only in my heart,
My arms too weak to cross infinity.


Only hidden rivers of the heart
Drawn upon in seasons drear
Can replenish me and make my part in life
When less than near to you, a grander play
Because you loved me once
And I remember still.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 17 Feb, 15:22

Michael,
I think the poem could he helped considerably if it were revised to read:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 17 Feb, 14:53

It’s a lovely poem.

Jon, Thu 17 Feb, 13:14

A friend of mine posted this Mary Elizabeth Frye poem on his Facebook page, commenting that it is his favorite.  Many of his friends agreed and said they have found it very comforting when read at funerals, etc. It seems very nihilistic to me, suggesting that consciousness is not independent of all natural things and that’s all there is left, nature.  I may be misinterpreting it and wonder if others interpret it the same way as a I do.  I was going to leave a comment on his facebook page with my thoughts, but I decided to check and see if others might interpret it the way I do.
The poem reads:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Michael Tymn, Thu 17 Feb, 12:43

Thanks to Frank Juszczyk for sharing his experiences with his “Klingon.”  Some of you might be interested in his 2016 book, “Disobliging Reality.” It is about “walking in two worlds” and the “merging of this world with that one.”  Frank is a retired English professor.

And thanks to all others who have offered comments here.

Michael Tymn, Wed 16 Feb, 08:05

Michael, I’m in full agreement that a distinction should be made between personally seeking contact with a departed loved one and learning about the long, well-documented history of communication across the veil. That history supports key aspects of religious faith, yet many believers still shy away from studying it.

They mistakenly believe, I’m afraid, that God would have them stand on faith alone without the aid of reason. Such was a wrong turn taken at the time of The Reformation, one which Imperator & Co. did their utmost to correct. If only these wary believers knew what they were missing….

Newton E. Finn, Wed 16 Feb, 01:36

Elina: “...are there any AUTHENTIC mediums in current “practice.”

Elina:  Mediums exist nearly everywhere. Once you’ve located one, determining whether they are “authentic” or not may be challenging.

This could require considerable time and energy but could also be fun; an adventure.

Seth, channeled by Jane Roberts between 1963 and Ms. Robert’s death in 1984, said:  “You get what you concentrate on; there is no other rule.”

So you could concentrate on finding an authentic medium.

You might also consider simply concentrating on communicating with someone who is no longer physically embodied.

I’ve known both professional and amateur mediums; one of the best, a novelist, hid her abilities from all but close friends—she wanted to be known as a novelist, not a medium or psychic.

I was initially shocked by what she could do (she could convey the thoughts of not just deceased humans, but my own “oversoul,” and in a way that was extremely convincing).

I wasn’t seeking anyone with her abilities when I met her, at least not consciously.

Later, I came across an entire subculture of mediums, a mixture of amateurs and professionals.

I’ve read that an estimated 5% of the population have such abilities but I wonder whether it’s possible for nearly anyone to develop them.

Spiritualist organizations exist in many countries; some have a certification process for mediums.

In my experience, quality varies considerably and can fluctuate even with a single medium.

Bill Ingle, Wed 16 Feb, 01:13

Newton, concerning your last comment, I believe a distinction has to be made between “seeking contact with the departed” and simply becoming aware of the research involving the departed and “knowing” from that, i.e., moving from blind faith to conviction or true faith based on the research of credible scholars and scientists.  Call it “vicarious knowing.”

I really doubt that most of those who choose to “bear the cross” are doing so with that intention in mind.  At least, I am pretty sure that is or was the case with those in that category that I have known. They seem to have been floundering without stopping to consider the alternatives, without focus, without direction, without serious thought or real hope. They strive for escapes in the material world, wherever they can find them.

Michael Tymn, Tue 15 Feb, 23:00

Stafford,

Before the Internet and when still working, I did a lot of travel. Visiting used-book stores to find old metaphysical books was always near the top of things to do while traveling. I must have brought home over 500 books during a 15 year period, many from the English town of Hay-on-Wye, called the “used-book capital of the world,”  It is a town about four hours out of London on the border with Wales.  It had about 30 used-book stores.  I don’t know about now.

Michael Tymn, Tue 15 Feb, 19:44

To respond to Elina’s question about whether there are authentic mediums still around, I can’t be of much help as I haven’t looked for any in over 20 years. As previously mentioned, I don’t feel a need to sit with a medium.  I was initially interested for research purposes or to satisfy my curiosity.  I don’t know what country Elina lives in, but I would recommend reading Leslie Kean’s fairly recent book, “Surviving Death.” If in England, check with the Spiritualist Assoc. of Great Britain.  In the U.S., check with the Lily Dale people.  Both have directories on line.

Michael Tymn, Tue 15 Feb, 19:40

Anthony’s story sounds very synchronistic.  I don’t recall the reference for Kosciuszko St.  It may have been one of William Stainton Moses’s books. I am reminded of my trip to New York in 1989 as coach of the Hawaii team participating in the Ekiden running event.  The day after the event, one of the runners wanted to compete in another event in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and I accompanied him in cab from Manhattan. I was still half asleep and not paying attention to where we were.  We crossed a bridge, although I didn’t know which one (it was the Williamsburg Bridge), got off it and I began to wonder where we were.  I looked out and up and immediately saw the place at 340 Roebling St., where my grandfather lived for 50 years and where I spent some time with him. It took a few seconds for me to recognize it as the same place, but it definitely was.

Michael Tymn, Tue 15 Feb, 19:32

In the prior thread, Michael posed the question of how to understand a religious believer who deeply grieves the loss of a loved one but refuses to seek solace in the ample evidence of the afterlife offered, inter alia, in his books and blog. My brief response alluded to the bearing of the cross, but Myers in his soaring Epilogue to “Human Personality,” as much the bible of spiritualism as “Spirit Teachings,” explains it more fully.

Speaking of the reticence of many traditional Christians to embrace the results of psychical research, even when those results support a good deal of classic doctrine, Myers observes that these Christians “have felt that uncertainty gave scope to faith and courage in a way which scientific assurance could never do. There has been a stern delight in the choice of virtue,—even though virtue might bring no reward.”

In other words, or at least in my interpretation of Myers’ words, he’s saying that grieving the loss of a loved one, and finding solace solely in trusting God and believing in heaven, is preferable, in the minds and hearts of many, to seeking contact with the departed loved one. To seek such contact, or even to read about others who made contact with their loved ones or other spirits, would diminish the depth of religious trust and belief.

I’m reminded of Michael’s favorite story about the departed Luther’s comment concerning the necessity of doubt, how it keeps us plowing in the furrows of life. I’m also reminded of a famous statement of Kierkegaard’s, to the effect that mysticism lacks the patience to wait for God.

None of this will make sense unless somewhere in one’s background, as in mine, this kind of belief in the face of the evidence, as opposed to belief in accord with the evidence, has been embraced in all of its precarious passion. Kierkegaard’s metaphor for this is a lone swimmer on surface of the ocean, suspended over 70,000 fathoms.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 15 Feb, 19:17

Great blog post, Michael.  A number of years ago, I read in one of your books or blogs (I can’t remember which!) about a man who came through a medium and claimed he had once lived on Kosciuszko Street in Brooklyn, NY. It’s possible he may have even mentioned his address. I don’t live too far from Kosciuszko Street, so one day I walked by the place, thinking I’d take a photo and send it to you. I never got the photo off. For some reason over the past week, the man from Kosciuszko Street had been popping up in my mind and I kept thinking I should find that story of yours and get that photo. And then this morning I read your new post ... how strange it was that I needed to visit Brooklyn Heights yesterday. Not my usual hangout, but I had to take care of something there for my kids. On our walk back to the bus, I took a selfie with myself and my son amid snowy Brooklyn ... and what do I now notice deep in the distance of the photo? The location of Henry Ward Beecher’s statue in Cadman Plaza! What might it mean? The man from Kosciuszko Street playing a game with me? Just a coincidence? Whatever it means, it certainly gave me a good laugh.

Anthony, Tue 15 Feb, 04:57

This story has so many twists and turns and detours that any attempt to account for it by a medium’s subconscious wish or by fraud would strike me as absurd. Mike, where do you find such wonderful material?

Stafford, Mon 14 Feb, 22:48

Hi Mike. Wonderful story. Just a nit-picky detail. I could be wrong, but I believe the ‘mite’ refers to a ‘lepta’ which was the smallest coin available in those days. It was minted by Jannaeus, King of Judea, and not by Rome. Given the Biblical story, it’s appropriate that such an impressive demonstration came from such a minor and relatively unknown medium. All the best, Bart Walton

Bart Walton, Mon 14 Feb, 20:40

Fascinating. Thank you.

Paul, Mon 14 Feb, 20:36

The interest inherent in these reports have a lot to do with their antiquated nature. Communication with the deceased is now much more direct and casual. I communicated with my wife (Klingon: parmaqqi, meaning romantic companion) through the medium she had selected for us to use eight years ago. The medium recommended that I read the commentary for the rabbit from the Medicine Cards (a long popular source of advice based on Native American tradition regarding the spiritual significance of animals). The book accompanying the Medicine Cards gives a commentary for a card drawn upright and for a card drawn upside-down. In my case, I have to determine which commentary is meant to apply to my situation.The contrary advice for the rabbit was exactly suited to my situation.

After the session, I asked my parmaqqi if she meant to use this method to give me advice in the future. She had had her own deck of Medicine Cards and used it frequently. After her transition, her deck disappeared, so I had to order my own deck and book. When I posed this question to Jean, I was driving to town in my pickup. She immediately caused the needle of the temperature gauge to swing from cold to hot and back repeatedly, a method she has used before (there is nothing wrong with the cooling system in my truck). In addition, Jean sent a large hawk to swoop in front of the truck and precede it at a height of about fifteen feet for about half a minute. She has also used a hawk frequently to communicate with me.

I live at the edge of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, so there is no shortage of wildlife in the area. Jean routinely will call my attention to a specific animal (or insect) and I then read the Medicine Cards commentary for that animal or insect to receive her advice about my situation. It is always very specific and reflects my situation precisely.

This I take to be the more contemporary method of communicating from “the beyond”, at least for Jean.

Frank Juszczyk, Mon 14 Feb, 18:42

Thank you for this interesting article.
I do have a question, are there
any AUTHENTIC mediums in current “practice.”

ELINA, Mon 14 Feb, 18:24

A great story, well told. Thanks Mike. How evidential do skeptics require? This’ll do for me.

Keith P in England, Mon 14 Feb, 17:12

What a wonderful story indicating both how clear and how difficult communication between the living and the departed can be! And what a succinct explanation for the reason behind it all: that the efforts on the side of the departed “were an attempt to put an end to materialism on earth.”

We’ve heard similar statements before, of course, from other mediumistic voices, and it raises the question whether the goal of this communication, on our side, was the same. Imperator felt it necessary to urge that we avoid the personal as much as possible in this regard and focus instead on the ethical and spiritual teachings.

By the way, Hyslop’s opinion was that it was spiritualism’s failure to do this, to put its primary focus on improving THIS world as opposed to seeking signs and wonders from the next, which led to the movement’s decline. Thank you, Michael, for again giving us much to chew on.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 14 Feb, 17:10

Mike Happy Valentines Day!!!  thanks for all you teach us Blessings Karen

Karen Herrick PhD, Mon 14 Feb, 16:13


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The Orpheus Motif in North America: The Comanche tradition – To give the reader a general idea of the form taken by the Orpheus tradition in North America, I reproduce the version of the Comanche Indians, here published for the first time. It was communicated to me orally by the late Dr Ralph Linton, who noted it down in the course of his field-studies among the Comanche (1933). Particular interest attaches to the Comanche narrative, for it is the first recorded Orpheus tradition from the more easterly Shoshonean groups. No account is given of it in Wallace and Hoebel’s Comanche monograph, which is otherwise a valuable source for the religion and folklore of this tribe. Read here
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