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Awakening ‘In Times of War’

Posted on 04 March 2019, 9:18

An abundance of communication from the “Other Side” suggests that many souls are slow to recognize that they have departed the material life.  That is, there seems to be a “sleep” or “dream” state that precedes the awareness that the consciousness is no longer in the physical body.  “The duration of the state of confusion that follows death varies greatly,” explained Alan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher of the 19th Century. “It may be only a few hours, and it may be of several months, or even years,” Kardec wrote.  “Those with whom it lasts the least are they who, during the earthly life, have identified themselves most closely with their future state, because they are soonest able to understand their new situation.”

If Kardec is right, then the anthology titled In Times of War: Messages of Wisdom from Soldiers in the Afterlife should be required reading for any person who thinks he or she might die at some time in the future. It includes a number of stories in which battlefield victims struggled to understand what happened to them after they were killed. “Realize that those souls in the lower regions of the astral world are actually in a space near the ground of the physical planet,” automatic writing medium Elsa Barker received from the discarnate David Patterson Hatch (1846-1912), a former Los Angeles lawyer and judge (as set forth in one of the chapters of this book recently released by White Crow Books). “Those who hang over the battlefields where they met their fate are still thrilled or horrified by the noise of the battle horns; they can still hear the shriek of shells and feel the shattering force of the explosions. Day in, day out, these unfortunate earthbound ones live over and over again the emotions of war; night after night, they dread the morning when the sounds will begin again. They cannot get away. They are not free merely because their bodies are buried under a few feet of earth, or worse still left unburied.”

Hatch (below) related the story an English friend, an officer in an English regiment who was killed by a German bullet in the early days of the Great War.  Because of his hate for a German living in London, one who had competed with him for the love of a woman, the officer transferred his hate for the man to all Germans.  After being fatally shot, he was unconscious for a time and then “awakened” to the noise of a bursting shell. He immediately returned to the battle scene, saluted a superior officer, but got no response, which he found strange.  He approached other soldiers, even touched one of them on the shoulder, but they paid no attention to him.  “The smell of the coffee and the cooking meats brought temporary satisfaction to my friend,” Hatch continued.  “He tried to drink from brandy flasks tilted to the mouths of men who could not see him or protest; he steeped himself in hungers and despairs. His companions were always changing themselves into the forms of the man he hated and the woman he loved. He witnessed their coarse lovemaking.  Sometimes the simulacrum of the woman turned to him with a friendly word.  He cursed her, but clung to her hand.  But always she vanished when his mouth yearned to hers.”  The man was living a nightmare brought on by his hatred before death and his unawareness of what happens after death.


The anthology begins with the story of Private Dowding, now something of a classic in the metaphysical genre.  Dowding was a 37-year-old British soldier killed on the WWI battlefield.  Communicating through the automatic writing mediumship of Wellesley Tudor Pole, Dowding told of his initial confusion.  “If there is a shock, it is not the shock of physical death,” Dowding explained. “Shock comes later when comprehension dawns; ‘Where is my body? Surely, I am not dead!’”  He recalled that he saw two friends carrying his body on a stretcher and assumed that he had been injured, although he was confused by the fact that he was walking behind them and yet seeing his body on the stretcher. “I seemed in a dream.  I had dreamt that someone or something had knocked me down. Now I was dreaming that I was outside my body. Soon I should wake up and find myself in the traverse waiting to go on guard.”

In another story, a Polish pilot was shot down and killed in the crash.  However, as he remembered it, he got out of his crashed plane, ran to hide from the Germans, and encountered some French peasants.  When he asked them for help, they did not appear to see him.  At some point, he came to realize he was no longer occupying his physical body.  “What you expect here, that you find,” he communicated through a medium. “You build your awakening, it is just as you imagined, at least that is what they told me. I expected nothing, so nothing came. But now I am pulling out of the difficult doldrums and am beginning to feel my strength.”

A British tank officer recalled falling face downwards in a swampy mud and then remaining   unconscious for a time in something of a nightmare.  “It was a time of conscious paralysis,” he communicated. “I hated it, and when something snapped and I was free, I was awfully relieved.”

As times seems to take on a different form in the afterlife, it is never quite clear as to how long in earth time it takes for the departed soul to recognize he or she has given up the ghost.  In the case of Alfred V. (believed to be New York sportsman and socialite Alfred Vanderbilt - below), who was one of many victims on the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7, 1915, it seems to have been more than a year.  On November 5, 1916, he communicated with Dr. Carl Wickland, a psychiatrist, through the trance mediumship of Wickland’s wife, Anna, claiming to be hungry and cold and his clothes all wet. Dr. Wickland then helped him understand his condition.


The Spiritualist classic, Claude’s Book (not included in this anthology), relates communication between Claude, a British pilot killed when shot down by the Germans in World War I, and his mother through the trance mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard (See my blog entry of 29 Oct. 2018 in archives at left).  Early on, Claude explains his passing.  He first felt a blow on his head, a sensation of dizziness and falling, and then nothing more.  “It may have been a fortnight or more later that I became conscious again,” he told his mother through Leonard, further commenting that he had no account of time there, so he could not be sure.

The Preface to this anthology by editor Jon Beecher is a fascinating story in itself as he tells of his own “awakening” to the reality of a spirit world.  Leading a very materialistic life and not believing in life after death, Beecher had a rude awakening in 2000.  “I just banged my head and woke up to a whole new worldview,” he summarizes his 11-page story.  In the book’s Conclusion, Beecher notes the saying, “You are what you eat,” and suggests that after physical death “we are what we think.”  A person’s “moral specific gravity,” or his “goodness” during the earth life, seems to be a big factor in the awakening process, but, from the stories in this book, indications are that a conviction that the soul lives on in a greater reality significantly expedites the awakening process.

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.

Next blog post:  March 18


Thanks for this post, Michael, and for everyone who commented. I ordered the book today and am looking forward to reading. One thing I hope the book addresses is how the deceased combatants view their participation in war and killing in war. Do they carry the same hatred of the “enemy” after death? Or does the next state enlighten them in some way? My hope is that there would be an understanding that any act that engenders killing, destruction, loss and suffering is among the lowest forms of human expression.

Anthony, Thu 14 Mar, 05:05

I hope in earthly trials Judge Hatch presided over he was more tolerant of human frailty than this Beautiful Being.

A lot of us went through an early period of atheism or skepticism about having an immortal soul. If we had died during that stage of our growth, would we have been condemned to sleep for thousands of years after crossing over? I like my sleep but would set my alarm for a few years later at most.

Rick Darby, Thu 7 Mar, 18:17

Amos, what prompted me was Kevin’s interesting comment about soul sleep. Not being a biblical scholar it hadn’t occurred to me before that the idea of soul sleep could well have come from the ‘observation’ that sometimes people who are convinced that the death of the body is the end, experience never-ending nothingness, (if that’s the right word) or so we are told. 

The notion that people sleep in their graves until the trumpet blows has always seemed odd to me and it’s probably spawned a generation of zombie films which even now seem to be more popular than ever.

If there’s any truth in some of the Biblical quotations, when John said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice,” maybe what he meant was, that no-one will remain in that state indefinitely.

Irrespective of all of this, it seems to me there is no downside in knowing, believing, assuming and accepting that after our body is no longer viable we continue in some form. After all, if we are wrong we’ll probably never know.

Jon, Thu 7 Mar, 09:02


Thanks for that comment and link.  If those words actually came from Patterson and were not colored by Elsa Barker’s mind, they say a lot.

Michael Tymn, Thu 7 Mar, 04:56

Michael and Jon,
It has been many, many years since I first read “Letters From a Living Dead Man” transcribed from Judge Hatch by Elsa Baker.  I think it was one of the first books of that kind that I read.  Thanks Michael and Jon for bringing it up to remind me.  As I read what you quoted Jon, and the rest of the article to which you linked, I realize that I understand and appreciate much more of what was said now than I did 20 or 30 years ago when I first read it. (Apparently I have learned a few things along the way.) So I shall have to dig it out of my library somewhere and re-read it. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 6 Mar, 22:50

In “Letters from a Living Dead Man” the deceased Judge Hatch communicating via Elsa Barker discusses with a Beautiful Being (his teacher) the status of people in so-called soul sleep. Here’s an excerpt and a link. 

MANY times during the months in which I have been here have I seen men and women lying in a state of unconsciousness more profound than the deepest sleep, their faces expressionless and uninteresting. At first, before I understood the nature of their sleep, I tried as an experiment to awaken one or two of them, and was not successful. In certain cases, where my curiosity was aroused, I have returned later, day after day, and found them still lying in the same lethargy.

“Why,” I asked myself, “should any man sleep like that—a sleep so deep that neither the spoken word nor the physical touch could arouse him?” One day, when the Teacher was with me, we passed one of those unconscious men whom I had seen before, had watched, and had striven unsuccessfully to arouse.

“Who are these people who sleep like that?” I asked the Teacher, and he replied: “They are those who in their earth life denied the immortality of the soul after death.”

“How terrible!” I said. “And will they never awaken?”

“Yes, perhaps centuries, perhaps ages hence, when the irresistible law of rhythm shall draw them out of their sleep, into incarnation. For the law of rebirth is one with the law of rhythm.”

Continued ...

jon, Wed 6 Mar, 21:39

I wanted to quote William James on my last comment, but I couldn’t find the quote.  I have since found it.  It appeals to reason, I think.

“If religion be a function by which either God’s cause or man’s cause is to be really advanced, then he who lives the life of it, however narrowly, is a better servant than he who merely knows about it, however much.  Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.”

Michael Tymn, Wed 6 Mar, 17:31

Kevin and Bart,

Many thanks for contributing to the discussion with those ideas.  They do seem to apply. I do struggle to believe that a very righteous person would “sleep” indefinitely because he bought into the belief that we sleep until some far off judgment day.  Hopefully, a spirit guide will attempt to bring him or her out of the stupor.

Michael Tymn, Wed 6 Mar, 16:51

Great article Michael. It reminds also me of how throughout history, many Christians (specifically Jehovah’s Witness and Seventh Day Adventists) and Muslims—among many other people—have believed in the idea of “soul sleep”. This is the repulsive doctrine that people sleep, supposedly in their graves, until the “Last Judgment” at which time their corpses come alive and come out of their graves which I can only imagine to be somewhat like the movie “The Night of the Living Dead.”  However, near-death experiences prove how this doctrine is not only false, but is a very harmful doctrine to believe in. The following are NDE insights showing the dangers of believing in this doctrine:

Dr. George Ritchie observed the following in his NDE:  “One of the places we observed seemed to be a receiving station. Beings would arrive here oftentimes in a deep hypnotic sleep. I call it hypnotic because I realized they had put themselves in this state by their beliefs. Here were what I would call angels working with them trying to arouse them and help them realize God is truly a God of the living and that they did not have to lie around sleeping until Gabriel or someone came along blowing on a horn.”

NDEr Arthur Yensen had this to say, “Things change little in the hereafter. Suppose we have the fixed idea that we’ll sleep till the resurrection of the body. Then suppose there isn’t a resurrection of the body. We might sleep a very long time.”

P.M.H. Atwater wrote this about believing in soul sleep: “Those that died believing they would sleep until awakened by Gabriel, reported a black darkness, a feeling of being trapped and alone, stranded. What I’ve finally come to realize is we truly and most literally create our own realities. When we die, the reality we created is where we will live and what we will become.”

The late great NDEr and psychic Betty Bethards has this to say about merely not believing in life after death:  “You will probably be kept in a sleep state for the first two to three day period. You will wake up in a beautiful meadow or some other calm and peaceful place where you can reconcile the transition from the death state to the continuous life. You are given teachings in the hope that you do not refuse to believe that you are dead.”

Psychic automatic writer Ruth Montgomery has this to say about a person who does not believe in life after death:  “He expects to find nothing when he passes through the door called death, and for a long time that is usually what he finds - nothing. He is in a state like unto death for a goodly while, until at last something arouses him.”

Concerning people dying in combat, those soldiers who do cross over in a sleep state may do so because of an atheistic mind set. But I suspect the trauma of combat, of dying in battle, the thousand yard stare, etc.. could cause such soldiers to cross over in a sleep state where there are “afterlife hospitals” for such souls to recover from very traumatic deaths. IO have heard about such “afterlife hospitals” in the NDE literature. My two cents worth.

Kevin Williams, Wed 6 Mar, 07:26


I’m an observer and reporter, not an authority on the subject, so I can’t really answer your questions. At the same time, I doubt that any “authority” on the subject has an answer. 

Although I have read hundreds of NDE accounts, I have not categorized them to the extent that I can recall more than a few of the military experiences.  However, the big difference here, I believe, is that the NDErs are still attached to the body by the “silver cord” while the discarnates reporting through mediums have “given up the ghost.”  How that factors into what they are experiencing, I don’t know.

As you know, there have been many “hellish” experiences reported by NDErs, and those experiences may be similar to the souls who have not awakened to the afterlife environment.  The best reference I have come across on the hellish experiences is “Blessing in Disguise,” by the late Barbara R. Rommer, M.D., published in 2000. 

As many researchers have suggested, we don’t hear as much about the hellish experiences, because people are reluctant to talk about them and they likely do not make for “best-selling” books.  It may also be that people who do not remember NDEs have had hellish types, but have blocked them out.

The simulacrum is another subject on which there seems to a lack of information But take a look at my blog of February 7, 2011 in the archives at the left.  It involves the historic “ape man” materialization.  I recommend the reports and books by Drs. Charles Richet and Gustav Geley for a little better understanding of thought forms.

Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Mar, 21:24

Fascinating essay Michael. Today, when someone dies suddenly, how often we hear people say that at least it was a good way to go, because it was quick and relatively painless. But all the evidence you present suggests quite the opposite; that it’s better to have time to contemplate one’s death and become mentally prepared to leave the Earth plane behind. This view is supported by ancient Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist beliefs that a sudden death in the midst of activity is inauspicious, for the reasons brought to light by your essay. I think this is particularly true for a young person who is deeply engaged in life and has much to look forward to.

The great sage, Brahamananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jotir Math said that we should be ready for death at every moment, like a person with bags packed.

Bart Walton, Tue 5 Mar, 20:30

A very thought provoking anthology and a great review.  As i was pondering this book two questions occured to me: Why are NDE accounts of veterans (I understand from IANDs that 50% of severely injured veterans have had them) seem so different to the mediumistic accounts.  We know that about 90% are positive transcendent experiences.  Does this suggest that the NDErs have a different experience because they were never going to die?
I am also interested in finding out about the concept of the simulacrum spirit, which appears to be a thought form. Are there more indepth references to this in the afterlife literature and could there be a correlation with the Buddhist tulpa or the thought form referred to by Seth in the spirit realm? 
Thank you!!

Maryam, Tue 5 Mar, 13:42


God bless you for helping those who died violently in war to wake up to a benign afterlife. For some of these poor soldiers, it will be the first peace they have known.

Rick Darby, Mon 4 Mar, 21:55

Sounds like a very interesting book.
I’ll look for it.

Michael Schmicker, Mon 4 Mar, 19:11


This book is very much needed in this world since the history of mankind is full of violence and war.

At our spirit sessions we have had innumerable soldiers communicate…from the times of the Romans through the centuries and to those in the present, in war-like conflicts.

How horrible it is to be in the midst of battle and be killed and continue “feeling” wounded but carrying on looking for fellow soldiers on
a battlefield of the spirit’s own construct. Sometimes there are several spirits that band together. They don’t know the war is over, they are looking for their fellows or where to report next.

Some are in terrible conditions not aware the “wounds” they carry were left on their physical bodies which no longer exists.

We speak with compassion and patience, ascertaining the details of their last memories and coax them to awaken to their current
spiritual state of circumstances.

Spirit guides assist us, and come for them in a form these poor ones can relate to and feel comfortable with (ex. older dear relatives, monks, nuns, etc.) to reach out to them and convince them it is time they need to leave the ravages of war behind them to go to a place to find healing and peace.

This type of work is a charity and we consider it a sacred trust.

Respectfully and Sincerely,
Yvonne Limoges

Yvonne Limoges, Mon 4 Mar, 18:59

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