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An Afterlife Story of Undying Love & Devotion

Posted on 12 February 2018, 8:49

Arthur James Balfour (below) is most remembered as a British statesman, primarily as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905, but he is also remembered for one of the most intriguing love stories on record, one documented in what is called the Palm Sunday Case.  With Valentine’s Day upon us, it seems like a good time to recall that case from the annals of psychical research as recorded in the archives of the Society for Psychical Research in England (SPR) and further discussed in some detail by Professor Archie Roy in his book The Eager Dead and by Professor David Fontana in Is There an Afterlife?


The other half of the love story was Mary Catherine Lyttelton, who went by the name May. Arthur and May met at a ball at Hawarden Castle, the home of William Gladstone, then the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at Christmas time of 1871. May’s fiancé had recently died from tuberculosis and, although Arthur was immediately attracted to her, he hesitated to intrude upon her grief.  They became close friends, however, and shared many interests over the next three years.  It was not until about January of 1875 that Arthur declared his love for May. He had plans to propose marriage to her on his next visit when she died of typhus on March 21, 1875, Palm Sunday, at age 24.

While Arthur lived another 55 years, transitioning in 1930 at age 83, he never married, and he is said to have spent every Palm Sunday visiting Lavinia, May’s sister, and her husband in a day of remembrance. 

Balfour, often referred to as AJB, was born in Scotland, received his M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, and was the 1st Earl of Balfour.  He held a number of government positions before serving as prime minister and then as foreign secretary from 1916 to 1919.  He was a fellow of the Royal Society and its president in 1904.  He served as president of the SPR in 1893. His obituary in the New York Times read:  “Lord Balfour was a statesman almost in spite of himself.  By inclination he was a philosopher ... the thinker, the cultural gentleman of leisure, spending his life among the books and music he loved and knew so well.”  He wrote several books or essays on philosophy.  In a letter to a friend whose son had been killed in the Great War, he wrote:

“For myself I entertain no doubt whatever about a future life.  I deem it at least as certain as any of the hundred and one truths of the framework of the world…It is no mere theological accretion, which I am prepared to accept in some moods and reject in others.  The bitterness lies not in the thought that those I love and have lost are really dead, still less in the thought that I have parted from them forever: for I think neither of these things.  The bitterness lies in the thought that until I also die I shall never again see them smile or hear their voices.  The pain is indeed hard to bear, too hard it sometimes seems for human strength.  Yet, measured on the true scale of things it is but brief.” 

As for May, Dame Edith Lyttelton, her sister-in-law, wrote:  “Not an exceptional beauty, but love and sympathy streamed out from her.  She was one of those people who charge the atmosphere with life when they appear.”  She was said to be an accomplished pianist and enjoyed the musical evenings that were a big part of Victorian family life.  She especially took delight in joining those who sang Handel’s oratorio songs or lighter pieces. 

During May’s final moments, Lavinia was present and later reported that during a delirious outburst, May imagined herself at the pre-Christmas Ball at the Gladstone’s house at Hawarden, where she first met Arthur.  “Her fevered brain telescoped that meeting into a confused collage of memories.  ‘Oh, he does interest me more and more…I do wish he had a little more backbone – perhaps it will come with age.  He has so many good qualities but also such peculiarity…Oh to see him in a ballroom is a sight in itself.’”.
May’s dying voice struggled on while she hung on to life.  “I love this exhibition…the people the crowds, the pictures, even the worst of them…But I love everything now for I saw him at Latimer…I know…I know his feelings towards me.”  A look of bewilderment on her face and then she says, “But still he does not speak.”

To Lavinia, it was clear that May and Arthur were meant for each other. She saw that, in spite of his hesitancy to propose, his whole heart was May’s and that May was prepared to return his love. 

Arthur was heartbroken.  He wrote to his friend Edward Talbot:  “I used to dream, knowing the sad story of her life, that perhaps with me her wearied heart might have at last found rest…but God has provided a far more full and perfect calm; and I do feel how selfish are the longings…for the ‘might have been.’  In the meantime, I think – I am nearly sure – that she must have grasped the state of my feelings toward her…and now, perhaps when she watches the course of those she loved who are still struggling on earth, I may not be forgotten.”

It was on Palm Sunday of 1912, 37 years after May’s death, that Winifred Coombe-Tennant, an automatic writing trance medium, received a message indicating that May was attempting to let Arthur know of her continued existence.  (As a magistrate in her county and later as a British delegate to the League of Nations, Coombe-Tennant kept her mediumship a secret from all but a few people, using the pen name “Mrs. Willett” in her automatic writing ventures.)  The communicating “intelligence” writing through her hand revealed that May had unsuccessfully attempted to contact Arthur through several other mediums, as early as 1901.  The other mediums included those well known to the SPR and investigation by SPR researchers resulted in the so-called Palm Sunday Case, one in which fragmentary bits of information through seven different mediums were pieced together, all pointing to attempts by Mary Catherine Lyttelton, referred to as the “Palm maiden,” to communicate with Arthur James Balfour, referred to as the “Knight.”

Most of the spirit communication came from deceased researchers, including Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, and Henry Sidgwick, the three men credited with founding the SPR, in what have become known as the “cross-correspondences” – various messages when pieced together resulted in a complete and sensible message.  The purpose of this, it was explained, was to offer evidence that overcame the telepathy and superpsi theories often suggested to defeat spirit communication.  May was cooperating with them in the experiment and found it difficult to make direct contact through Mrs. Willett. 

When Arthur received word of the communication, he was reluctant to sit with Mrs. Willett and very skeptical.  However, at the urging of his brother, Gerald, he did visit Mrs. Willett and became convinced that it was indeed May who was communicating through her.  Especially evidential was mention by May of a silver case that Arthur had made in which to keep a lock of her hair.  May even cited the inscription on the case, taken from 1 Corinthians about the mortal putting on immortality.  Reference was also made to a photo of May holding a candlestick which Arthur treasured.  Arthur deemed it highly unlikely that Mrs. Willett would know anything about the silver case or the photo.

On February 15, 1958, 28 years after Arthur’s death and two years after the death of Mrs. Willett, Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous of automatic writing mediums, was receiving messages for a couple who had known Mrs. Willett and were familiar with the story of Arthur and May.  Mrs. Willett told them through the hand of Miss Cummins that she had encountered a friend of Arthur’s on that side who was in contact with Arthur and May, who apparently were at a higher level than they were.  “I am free to tell you of their intrinsic inviolable unity,” Mrs. Willett communicated.  “They shared the one anti-self, while consciously separated by her early death.  So many years parted after her passing. An emptiness, a dissatisfaction continually then for him. No joy.  He merely put in time with hard and varied mental work.  Such faithfulness, such patient waiting.  Then at last, after sixty years, or fifty by the clock, the meeting at the other side of death when his old age dropped from him like a ragged garment.  But oh!  It was well worth while to wait so long for that event.  If they had not been parted by her death, he would never have worked with that industry, that brilliance that made a name for him.  Work was his escape from intolerable memory. Oh! He was so idle before she passed.

“If she had lived, she would have been his all-absorbing playmate, life brilliant in the sunshine of just being, instead of doing, instead of a rough path each followed solitarily of struggle, and in his case of fine achievement.  But hers was also fine; they tell me that she remained waiting, waiting at the border for him, returned from the higher level, at what sacrifice!  A world so tempting beckoning, but she ignored it.  She put all that away from her so as to meet an old man’s soul.  Therefore it need hardly be said that she was the first to greet AJB when he came home to her.  A lonely man throughout his life until then.  They have gone to that other level together.  Happiness incomparable for them, they now and then, I am told, they come back, as he feels still a responsibility for Britain.”

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:  Feb. 26



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On Being Prepared for Death

Posted on 29 January 2018, 9:09

As I was midway through Michael Grosso’s recently reissued book, The Final Choice: Death or Transcendence, my wife’s smartphone beeped (I have a dumbphone, so mine didn’t beep), with an emergency text alert from Hawaii civil defense authorities saying that a ballistic missile was inbound and to seek shelter.  It ended with “This is not a drill.”

As widely reported worldwide, it was a false alarm, someone having pushed the wrong button in the civil defense headquarters.  Due to bureaucratic bumbling, it took 38 minutes for authorities to notify the public that it was a mistake. During those 38 minutes, many residents and visitors who received the message reportedly suffered varying degrees of anxiety and panic attacks.

The “fallout,” as reported by the media and more directly by some friends caught up in the drama, brought to mind the words of the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne:  “They come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good.  Yet, when death does come – to them, their wives, their children, their friends – catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries, what fury, what despair!”  In this case, death didn’t come, but many cries and furies were heard, even death threats made against the anonymous button pusher. The State of Hawaii went so far as to establish a Crisis Line for those unable to deal with the emotional distress and in need of counseling.   

All that is not to suggest that those who accept the reality of the survival of consciousness at death would not experience some degree of anxiety at the thought of being annihilated by a nuclear bomb or that they would simply say, “Bring it on!”  It is to suggest, however, that such anxiety might be considerably mitigated by such a belief and that psychological counseling would not be necessary.  The suggestion goes well beyond such a scenario, though, and extends to the way we grieve the deaths of our loved ones.  As August Goforth points out in his recently released book, The Risen: A Companion to Grief, knowing that life continues beyond death makes all things bearable.   

Grosso’s book examines humanity’s attitude toward death – from embracing it, as some mystics have done, to escaping from it, as is so common among the masses today. “Beneath the ceaseless changes of history, death remains a changeless fact of life,” Grosso states in the Introduction. “The fact is constant; the meaning varies from culture to culture and from age to age.  We are at present living through a twilight of worldviews, and nobody quite has the answers, in spite of science, to the perennial questions and great mysteries of life and death.”  He adds that the book is born of the discontent with the materialism of the ruling classes in many places, a discontent that ends “with the core image of nothingness waiting to swallow us up in the last act.”

Grosso further notes that the whole subject of human survival of death seems “unfairly to be ignored and even despised.”  Lacking, he says, is a picture of the world we can live with, one that we can hold onto when death seems near.  “Reductive science smothers us with machines and information,” he offers, “but is useless when it comes to matters of the heart or questions of the soul.”

The author of five other books, including The Man Who Could Fly, discussed in my October 23, 2017 post, Grosso taught humanities and philosophy at Marymount Manhattan College, City University of New York, and New Jersey City University and is affiliated with the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia. 
Grosso notes that while there is an ever increasing abundance of research, coming to us from mediumship, near-death experiences, reincarnation studies, and deathbed phenomena, suggestive of postmortem survival, belief in an afterlife seems to be at an all-time low.  This, he sees, as being the result, in great part, of practical materialism in everyday life leaving little space to encounter the transcendent.  In earlier societies, before all the technological advances we have witnessed in recent decades, consciousness was much more permeable to alternate realities. As I read Grosso’s words, I imagined a scene from 1800s, before electronic distractions, in which the woman of the house was knitting and her husband whittling before a fireplace, both frequently staring into the flames and allowing spirit influence to permeate the consciousness and settle in the subconscious. 
“Brainwashed by mainstream scientistic materialism, we feel constrained by their ideas of what is possible,” Grosso continues.  “Tied to constricted worldviews, we submit to the status quo, however soul-deadening.  Faced with more idealistic possibilities, we respond with passive skepticism.” Materialism, he says, neglects the unseen dimension and serves to keep us distracted and unaware of the Transcendent.

Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of Ivan Ilych is cited as perhaps a typical ending for many non-believers.  A judge by profession, Ilych looked to pleasure, status and power as his gods, until his world began to crumble as he approached death and what he saw as an abyss of nothingness.

The NDE, Grosso opines, is a “metaphysical paradigm-buster,” a phenomenon that points increasingly toward undermining the mechanistic universe subscribed to by mainstream science.  In Chapter Five, he summarizes a number of NDEs, pointing out how the standard debunking theory of oxygen deprivation does not explain them. “Consciousness delocalized suggests the possibility of a prolonged or even permanent out-of-body experience – also known as the afterlife,” he writes, also telling of two of his own out-of-body experiences in which he found himself light, mobile, electric, and ecstatic, at the same time feeling angst over his concern about getting lost in mental space.

Grosso quotes from a paper written by a student in one of his classes, after he had introduced the class to types of evidence for an afterlife. “The greatest problem that death presents, in my opinion, is its finality,” Mary, the student, wrote.  “When I began this course I had feelings of anger, desperation, fear and confusion.  My daughter, age six, is dying of leukemia.  Her fears were hard enough to deal with, but compounded by my own fears the task was next to impossible….[but] now I feel that when the end comes, I will still feel pain but I also feel that my child may go on to another dimension.”  Mary goes on to say that she has conveyed some of the evidence to her daughter and that her daughter now seems more relaxed and her anxiety diminished.  If nothing else, the evidential stories gave the mother and daughter hope that death was not the end. If only our world leaders could understand what Grosso so astutely explains.  I doubt that the counselors answering the Crisis Line in Hawaii will even allude to the “larger life.”  I suspect they’ll tell those victims of emotional distress to “live in the present,” and think about all the good things they still have.  Enjoy a good movie, read a good novel, play games, or escape from reality in the easiest way possible. The wisdom offered by today’s mental health experts is “overwhelming.”

“At a time when everywhere the danger of mass destruction is increasing, we need a new philosophy of life and death, an enriched mythology of transcendence,” Grosso says. “In it, the conscience of science and of consciousness would be firmly intact.”

And to again quote Montaigne:  “To practice death is to practice freedom.  Let us have nothing more in mind than death. At every instant, let us evoke it in our imagination under all aspects.  Let us wait for it everywhere.”

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:  Feb. 5. 

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Researcher explains what the Spirit World is like!

Posted on 15 January 2018, 10:06

Between 1914 and 1917, William J. Crawford, D.Sc., studied the mediumship of Kathleen Goligher, a Belfast, Ireland medium. He reported on his findings in four separate books.  This is the third and final part of my “interview” based on Crawford’s words from those books.  The first two parts part can be seen in the last two posts here. The questions have been tailored to fit the comments. 

Dr. Crawford, I know that your focus was on the physical phenomena, but you seem to have communicated with the operators or spirits, quite often.  Did they tell you much about themselves?
“The operators emphatically declare that the fact of death does not in the least degree alter a man’s character.  He is exactly the same five minutes after the passing as five minutes before it.  So that the next state of existence contains all kinds and conditions of humanity, just as the earth does.  They say that malevolence, envy, hate and all the lower attributes inherent in earth humanity exist also in their world.  There are not the two classes only – good and bad – as theology would have us believe.  They say that the good bears a higher ratio to the bad than is the case here; so that we have an advance, if it is only a small one, so far as moral qualities are concerned.” 

So they are not much different than human beings?

“The inhabitants of the psychic world – at least those in direct contact with us in the séance room – appear to be beings similar to ourselves in regard to all essential qualities.  They possess all the characteristics of human beings.  They are sad, joyful, happy, mirthful, humorous, as the mood seizes them.  In fact, if we say they are human beings living in another world and separated from us by a veil of sense, but that they can communicate their thoughts and feelings to us through this veil, we shall have an exact representation of what seems to the facts of the case.”

Do they have bodies?

“The operators declare that each of them possesses a body, and if asked if it is what we understand by the psychic, they answer in the affirmative.  They declare that they are present in the séance room in the psychic body; that when clairvoyants see them, they see, in effect, their psychic bodies.  They say this body of theirs is not subject to decay or disorganisation corresponding to anything resembling physical decay or disorganisation.  They emphatically state that all humanity possesses two bodies, the physical and the psychical; that death really means the complete and final separation of the two.” 

Have they told you anything about their living conditions?

“I may say at once that the operators at the Belfast circle are unable to explain – even by analogy – the appearance of their world.  And I think this state of affairs holds generally at all reputable circles.  Not that the entities inhabiting it exist within the unsubstantial fabric of a vision, as it were, but simply that they are unable to explain to us in terms we can understand.  There is some reason to suppose that the psychic realm may include a dimension more than ours, i.e., it may be in four dimension, length, breadth, thickness and a something else, which we may call X.  If this is so, we need not be surprised that its inhabitants can tell us practically nothing of it.  We ourselves could give no information to beings living in a two dimensional world which would be understandable to them.” 

Have they mentioned spheres, levels, dimension, or planes as so many other communicators have? 

“The entities communicating say that the next state is not a homogeneous whole, but that it is built up of ‘spheres’ and ‘realms,” and that they themselves do not all belong to one sphere.  Entities belonging to a higher sphere may come down at will to a lower, but not vice versa…The first sphere would seem to be the abode of people whose moral development was somewhat low as they passed from things terrestrial; who need a lot of cleaning up before they can rise into the second and higher spheres; in other words, the spheres next to the earth are the abode of the riff-raff of humanity.  The entities tell me that all our experimental circles are guarded very strictly on their side so that no undesirable shall be able to get near.  As a matter of fact I would not care to be in the Belfast séance room if I had any doubt of the beneficent intentions of those behind the scenes.”

But have they told you what life is like in these spheres?

“The operators say that their world is a bright and happy one, full of vital energy.  Its inhabitants are much more ‘alive’ than when they lived on earth.  This is a point they emphasise particularly.  They say they have no desire whatever to return here – they are far better off where they are.  The broad general fact seems to be that the other state is a more forcible or energetic one than this – energy seems to be the keynote.  Everybody and everything are alive in a degree much beyond our conception of being alive.  Their state of existence is altogether fuller, freer, and of higher capacity than ours.  Moreover, the operators declare most emphatically that they are very happy.”

What about activities?

“The entities communicating say that life is very full, vigorous and keen in their world.  They say that there is occupation for everybody and amusement for everybody.  They declare that many phases of activity in our world have counterparts in theirs; and that in addition they have occupations to which there are no counterparts on earth.  It appears that no one need be idle, but that all can readily find congenial duties. Most duties here are uncongenial so that if the entities tell the truth, the next state is in this respect in advance of ours.  Music and the arts also seem to have higher expression there than here.”

It’s so hard to visualize all that in an etheric world.

“From my experience in the séance room I conceive the next state as being a very material one, or perhaps I should rather say, a very solid one to the senses with which we shall be equipped when we are the inhabitants.  I do not for a moment think it is an ethereal, evanescent, quasi-real world, having no external solidity.  On the contrary, I am satisfied that it presents to those living in it an appearance of reality at any rate as great as this world does to us, and probably greater.  It seems to me to be all a matter of sense perception.  We can be quite sure that the entities existing on the other side of the veil do not possess the material senses that we do. But the peculiar thing is that they possess senses in a general way analogous to ours.”

There is no hell?

“I have been told at direct voice séances that the next stage of existence possesses what are called ‘dark’ spheres – places or states which, according to the entities, are most unpleasant and in all respect undesirable.  The entities say there is no orthodox hell, but that the dark spheres are nevertheless places of retribution whence egress can only be attained by laborious and painstaking effort.  Possibly it is only the worst of humanity who pass into these dark spheres at physical death.  Most of us, who are ordinary folk, and neither demons nor angels, will find ourselves well enough satisfied with the change. But the point I wish to emphasise is that the entities say that in their state of existence there are in reality ‘dark’ places – places which should be avoided at all cost, the way to avoid them, so we are told, being to live a normal life while on earth.”

You refer to them as operators and entities, but some researchers suggest that it is some aspect of the subconscious that is manifesting and that it does not involve spirits of the dead.  What do you say to that?

“That is the alternative I had in mind all through my investigations.  As month succeeded month, as each new phase of phenomena was presented, as each new experiment was done, I always said to myself, ‘Can this very determined work of seemingly intelligent beings be but a simulation after all? Can it be all a fraud? Is it possible that nature holds intelligences belong to ourselves or otherwise, which could so persistently deceive?  What would be the object of it all?  Why should our subliminal consciousness, supposing we possess such a thing, carry out for us phenomenal demonstrations on the lines of reason and intelligence, requiring effort and system, for the object of deceiving us?’ No! It seems most unlikely and repellant to our sense of the fitness of things.  Nobody who has not delved deeply into psychic phenomena can have any conception of its tremendous variety and range.  It includes telekinetic phenomena, apports, materialisation, the direct voice, clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance, etc., etc.  There are, in fact, dozens of phases of psychic action, all consistent in the inference to which they lead, namely that man survives death, and inconsistent on any other hypothesis.”

Is time the same for them?

“I am satisfied from experimental observation that the inhabitants of the next state have a different conception of time from ours.  Even when they approach our world very closely, as they do at good séances, they seem to have some difficulty in getting into our way of computing time, that is, in thinking back to what they knew as time when inhabitants of the earth.  As to what the difference is I do not know.  It is possible that both time and space as we know them here are only components of something else, and the inhabitants of the other world see the resultant, as it were.”

Outside of the operators, are other spirits aware of what is going on in your experiments?

“According to the operators the people on their side are somewhat curious about psychic phenomena.  I have often asked them if there were many looking on at our séances.  Whenever asked the questions they would begin rapping and keep on rapping until we were tired of hearing them.  They wished to indicate by this that there were great crowds of spirit people looking on.  They told me this was the case at all our séances.  They gave me the impression that the séance room and the sitters were surrounded by a huge invisible audience arranged in an orderly and disciplinary manner, perhaps tier upon tier as in a lecture theater.  The séance to many of them would appear to be as novel as it is to us.”

Is there any indication that spirits are all around us?

“Indeed, a tremendous range of evidence shows that we are continually surrounded by those who exist in that other world, i.e., by those who have passed through the process of death.  Whether they are continually conscious of our proximity I think is doubtful.  That they are sometimes conscious of our presence I am sure is correct.  Even many of us here at some time or other have, I think, sensed an invisible presence with us.  But generally speaking we on this side are blind and deaf to all projections from the other state.”

It is my understanding that there are times when nothing happens at Miss Goligher’s séances.  Do you know why this is? 
“It is only by persistence that anything worth having can be obtained in the psychic world.  The dilettante gets nothing.  Many people seem to forget that the entities operating from the next state have themselves to experiment with every circle which is formed before even the slightest phenomenon can be produced, and that sometimes the sitters do not form an ideal combination from this point of view, with the consequences that their psychic emanations have to be mixed and worked up for quite a long time before decent results can ensue.  So that it is only to the earnest enquirer that phenomena come…I have certainly received messages via the table stating that the spirit entities mix the psychic or nervous emanations of the sitters and that sometimes there is difficulty in getting these emanations to blend, this especially being so if the circle is a promiscuous one.” 

So many of these physical mediums, such as Eusapia Palladino and Mina “Margery” Crandon, have been called frauds because the researchers believe they are using their arms or feet to move things.  We are led to believe by more keen observers that it is really a “phantom arm” of some kind originating with the spirit world.  Have you observed this with Miss Goligher?

“That there are very real energies in the next state which have some form of correspondence to the energies we have here, I have no doubt.  I have seen enough in the séance room to convince me of this.  To take only one example:—In the phenomenon of levitation of a table or other article, a psychic arm extrudes from the medium – I do not mean an arm in the sense the human arm, but a projection of some kind from her body.  Now this projection or extrusion is practically invisible and impalpable – it is impalpable except just at its free end, where it grips or presses on the body it is levitating – yet it transmits throughout its length great stresses, as is obviously the case when it sustains at its free end, as it has done, a body weighting between thirty and forty pounds.  Again, this structure seems to contain within it quite a lot of matter temporarily borrowed from the body of the medium.  In what state of condition is this matter that it should be invisible and impalpable and yet be capable of transmitting large stresses?  Certainly in no state which we know here.  A scientific friend has suggested that it has temporarily disappeared into a fourth-dimensional state, which is at any rate conceivable.”

In spite of your efforts to be strictly scientific in your experiments and reports, you’ve received much negative criticism from the scientific world.  Any thoughts on this?

“As the most voluble of the critics fails completely to understand the mechanism of the rap, a comparatively trivial phenomenon, his attempts to explain the higher phenomena, such as materialization or the direct voice, are accordingly more laughable still.  Probably no phenomena in nature have received such bizarre criticism as the psychic. Some people, it would seem, would dictate to nature as to what phenomena should be allowed and what not.  They call those who investigate these things emotional and gullible, whereas of course, the shoe is on the other foot, and it is they who are the lamentably emotional and gullible, inasmuch as they allow prejudice full play and at the same time plane an inhibition to investigate upon the intellect.” 

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 (Part III of the interview): January 15

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Interview with Dr. William J. Crawford – Part II

Posted on 01 January 2018, 10:37

Between 1914 and 1917, William J. Crawford, D.Sc., studied the mediumship of Kathleen Goligher, a Belfast, Ireland medium. He reported on his findings in four separate books.  This is the second part of a three-part “interview” based on Crawford’s words from those books.  The first part can be seen in the last post here.  The questions have been tailored to fit the comments.

During December 1915, Crawford invited Sir William Barrett, professor of physics at Royal College in Dublin, to join him.  At first, they heard knocks, and then messages were spelled out as one of the sitters recited the alphabet.  Barrett then reported observing a floating trumpet, which he tried unsuccessfully to catch. “Then the table began to rise from the floor some 18 inches and remained suspended and quite level,” Barrett wrote.  “I was allowed to go up to the table and saw clearly no one was touching it, a clear space separating the sitters from the table.” 

Goligher table lift

Barrett put pressure on the table to try to force it back to the floor.  He exerted all his strength but was unable to budge it.  “Then I climbed on the table and sat on it, my feet off the floor, when I was swayed to and fro and finally tipped off,” Barrett continued the story.  “The table of its own accord now turned upside down, no one touching it, and I tried to lift it off the ground, but it could not be stirred; it appeared screwed down to the floor.”

When Barrett stopped trying to right the table, it righted itself on its own accord.  Apparently, the spirits were having a bit of fun with Barrett as he then heard “numerous sounds displaying an amused intelligence.”

Barrett further stated:  “I can testify to the genuineness and amazing character of these physical manifestations and also to the patient care and skill which have characterized Dr. Crawford’s long and laborious investigations.”

Crawford brought in a scale large enough to hold the medium while she was sitting in her chair.  He discovered that when a table was being levitated, the weight of the table, usually around 16 pounds, was transferred to the medium through what he called “psychic rods” (ectoplasmic rods).  Most of the time, the transfer of weight would be a few ounces short of the weight of the table.  Further experimentation revealed that the extra weight was being transferred to the sitters in the room, who apparently furnished small amounts of the “psychic force.”  My “interview” continues. 

Dr. Crawford, do these levitations happen frequently in Kathleen’s mediumship?

“I have seen hundreds of levitations under all conditions; standard levitations such as that [just mentioned], abnormal levitations (such as where a stool rose four feet into the air and moved gently up and down for several minutes while we all examined it closely and while the medium was seated on a weighing machine) and freak levitations (such as where the table, being levitated, rocked in the air just like a small boat tossed about on choppy sea).  I have seen the table turn completely around in the air, and I have seen it levitated upside down and sideways.”

Is that the extent of the phenomena?

“[No.] After the exhibition of levitation ceases, the trumpet phenomena commence At the beginning of the séance a couple of thin metal cones which fit telescopically into each other and which we call ‘trumpets’ are fixed together and placed upright on the floor between the medium and her father.  The trumpets now begin to straddle over the floor with little leaps and jerks, remaining in a vertical position until the reach the table in the center of the circle where they fall or are sometimes seemingly pushed over, and are then drawn under the table.  A loud shuffling noise is now heard, for the operators are trying to detach the trumpets, a somewhat difficult process as they fit rather tightly together.  At length, however, the operators succeed in separating the two pieces, which are soon seen floating in the air, with their ends projecting from under the table.  The halves then beat time to time to a tune, like the batons of a conductor, after which a visitor is allowed to grasp the end of either and thus ‘shake hands’ with the invisible entities.  Sometimes the operators press upwards on the under-surface of the table with one or both of the floating trumpets, thus levitating it.  A little handbell is sometimes placed on the floor and this is often lifted and rung…Sometimes raps accompany the ringing of the bell.  The sitters are occasionally psychically ‘touched’ on various parts of the body.”

Some critics have a difficult time believing that spirits would be engaged in what seems to them as tomfoolery.  As I understand it, they are experimenting, just as you are? What do you say to this?

“I have asked the operators why they continue to demonstrate at seances month after month, year after year; does it not get tiring to them?  Would they not be better employed doing something else?  Their answer to this is that the mere fact of being engaged in producing the phenomena and thus doing useful work helps them in their own development.  For this and for other reasons I have rather come to the conclusion that one of the central ideas underlying the activities of the next state is that of service.  The operators say that there are different spheres within their world.  They say that they themselves belong to different spheres, some of them being in the second, some in the third and some in the fourth.”

You mentioned observing all this under a red light. How strong is the light?

“The light is usually strong enough – after the eyes get accustomed to its red color – to see quite plainly all the sitters. It is a subdued kind of light, issuing from a large surface of ordinary gas flame.  The only difficulty in the visibility is where a table or other large body casts a shadow over a portion of the floor. The hands of the sitters can nearly always be quite plainly seen, and it is a simple experiment, while the séance table is levitated a foot or more in the air , to ask the sitters to raise their hands (joined in chain order) up to the level of their heads, so that the observer can be quite sure that the hands have nothing whatever to do with the phenomenon.  The observer at this time may be within the circle, and he may move anywhere inside it so long as he does not get immediately in front of the medium…It is sometimes possible to see completely under it, as I have done, to see the feet and bodies of all present at rest and hands held together in chain order, while the table has been steadily levitated.”

According to Sir William Crookes, light did not seem to affect D. D. Home.

“A few mediums of the past have apparently been able to withstand the effects of the magnesium light fairly well.  At least no untoward results were reported.  But I am satisfied that its use is rather risky for the medium and that it should only be employed after careful thought and preparation and in conjunction with the desires of the operators.  For, whether [one] looks upon the operators as the spirit beings they claim to be, or as sub-conscious nuclei belonging to the medium or sitters, it is certain they are in charge of and produce the phenomena, and that, therefore, they may be trusted to know more about the dangers incurred by the medium than the experimenter.  Miss Goligher is a young woman and possibly her bodily functions are not yet fully developed, with the consequence that exposure to flashlight during the occurrence of the phenomena would be specially injurious to her.  At any rate the operators were always careful that nothing should be done which would in any way be likely to harm her.” 

I gather that the reason one cannot get directly in front of the medium has something to do with the psychic force flowing from her.  But can that space be observed to be sure she is not using her feet or some other form of trickery?

“I have spent many hours within the circle in all places around it, and I have continually worked under the levitated table and between the levitated table and the medium.  I have had complicated instruments below the table.  I have often placed my arm and hand in the space between the medium and the table and felt her feet and legs absolutely still during the course of experiments win which the table was levitated and the instruments were registering below it; and I say finally that if the medium had desired to impose, she could not, no matter how she tried, have kept the table levitated and the instruments registering at the same time, while my hands were on such instruments and I myself close to her feet and working between her and the table.” 

I know that Sir William Barrett, the physicist, was an observer.  Have other outsiders been witness to it?

“A great many people have been invited to visit the circle and witness the phenomena.  I think I can say that not one of all these has come away from it without the assurance that ‘there is something in psychic force,’ be he previously skeptic, believer, or a ‘sitter on the fence.’  Of course, the visitor is not always certain that the phenomena are produced by spirits of the dead; but at least he is sure of this, that they are genuine and in no way due to normal action on the part of the medium or members of the circle.”   

I recall reading in one of your reports that the psychic energy gets stronger as the séance goes on. 

[“True.]  About an hour and a half from the opening, the psychic energy available, to use a common term, is at a maximum and great forces are exerted.  For instance, although a heavy man sits upon the table it moves about the floor with great ease; or the table being levitated, a strong man pushing from the top cannot depress it to the floor; or the table moves to the side of the circle farthest from the medium and an experimenter is asked to lay hold of it and try to prevent its return to the center, but he is totally unable to do so; or the table’s weight can be temporarily so much increased that it cannot be lifted, or on the other hand so much reduced that it can be raised by an upward force of an ounce or two; or the table being turned upside down on the floor cannot be raised by a strong upward pull on the legs, being apparently fastened to the floor.”

As I understand your reports, this psychic energy, psychic stuff, plasma. or ectoplasm, whatever name be given to it, is not really visible to the naked eye, but that you were able to feel it.  Would you mind elaborating on that experience?

“On one occasion, while the table was levitated I placed my hand under it near the top.  As in previous tests, I felt no sense of pressure whatever, but I did feel a clammy, cold, almost oily sensation – in fact, an indescribable sensation, as though the air there were mixed with particles of dead and disagreeable matter.  Perhaps the best word to describe the feeling is ‘reptilian.’ I have felt the same substance often – and I think it is substance – in the vicinity of the medium, but there it has appeared to me to be moving outwards from her.  Once felt, the experimenter always recognizes it again.  This was the only occasion on which I have felt it under the levitated table, though perhaps it is always there, but not usually in such intense form.  Its presence under the table and also in the vicinity of the medium shows that it has something to do with the levitation; and in short I think there can be little doubt that it is actual matter temporarily taken from the medium’s body and put back at the end of the séance, and that it is the basic principle underlying the transmission of psychic force.  The table soon dropped when I moved my hand to and fro in amongst this psychic stuff.”   

Your books show photographs of ectoplasm.  How did that come about?

“Only [during the last six months or so of my investigation was it] possible to photograph the stuff which issues from the medium’s body.  (I call it ‘plasma’ for want of any better word), and from which the psychic structures are built up that produce the phenomena of raps, levitations, touchings, etc.  For about a year I took a photograph each séance night in the hope that success might ultimately be obtained.  The operators informed me by raps that success would finally come if I would be persistent enough.  The chief difficulty seemed to be in preventing injury to the medium.  The operators said it was necessary gradually to work her up to withstand the shock of the flashlight upon the plasma; nor is this to be much wondered at when it is considered the plasma is part of her body exteriorized in space.

Goligher ectoplasm

“After innumerable attempts, very small patches of plasma were obtained in full view between the medium’s ankles.  As time went on these increased in size and variety until great quantities of this psychic stuff could be exteriorized and photographed.  Then the operators began to manipulate it in various ways, building it up into columns, or forming into single or double arms, molding it into different shapes with which I had been long familiar in a general way from previous investigation.” 

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 (Part III of the interview): January 15 

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Dr. William J. Crawford discusses his mediumship research

Posted on 19 December 2017, 11:07

In 1914, Dr. William J. Crawford, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland, began investigating the mediumship of 16-year-old Kathleen Goligher (below). The phenomena surrounding the young girl included communicating raps, trance voice, and table levitations.  In all, Crawford had 87 sittings over some two and a half years with the Goligher Circle and detailed his research in four books: The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1918), Hints and Observations For Those Investigating the Phenomena of Spiritualism (1918), Experiments in Psychical Science (1919), and The Psychic Structure of the Goligher Circle (1921), all published by E. P. Dutton & Co. of New York City.


Crawford (below) died by suicide on July 30, 1920.  Skeptics suggested that his suicide was the result of realizing he had been duped.  However, four days prior to his death, Crawford wrote to David Gow, the editor of Light, the following:  “My psychic work was all done before the (mental) collapse, and is the most perfect work I have done in my life.  Everything connected with it is absolutely correct, and will bear every scrutiny.  It was done when my brain was working perfectly, and it could not be responsible for what has occurred….I wish to affirm my belief that the grave does not finish all.” 


Born in New Zealand, Crawford received his D.Sc. from the University of Glasgow and authored a number of books, including Elementary Graphic Statics and Calculations on the Entropy-Temperature Chart, before undertaking his research of psychic phenomena.

This “interview” is based on the four books mentioned in the first paragraph.  Except for words in brackets, inferred and inserted to permit a flow, the words are his.  The questions have been tailored to fit the answers.  Various English words, e.g., colour, sceptic, centre, etc. have been Americanized.  When Crawford refers to “operators,” he is speaking of spirits.

Dr. Crawford, how did you become interested in psychical research?

“A number of us had been sitting round a small table in the usual way and had obtained the usual tiltings and usual mixed-up messages, when suddenly the table twisted round under our hands and did not stop until it had turned through nearly a complete revolution.  It did this two or three times. The movement, which was so obviously not produced by any of us present and which we did not expect – this simple little turning movement – caused the first glimmer of doubt in my mind that all table tiltings, etc., were due to subconscious actions of the sitters, as I had strongly held up to that time. From that moment – now years ago – I decided to investigate the matter thoroughly.”

I believe you referred to the type of table phenomenon you initially experienced,  where the sitters have their hands resting gently on the table, as “contact” type, while that involving a medium like Kathleen Goligher, when no one is touching the table as non-contact.  Would you mind explaining the contact phenomenon?

“[In the contact phenomenon] the sitters, it is understood, are only touching the top of the table lightly with the palms of their hands or their finger tips.  When the table thus moves about by the true action of psychic force upon it, it seems to possess a peculiar attribute of inherent liveliness and lightness, very obvious to the sitters, who soon become convinced that its motions are quite independent of muscular pressure.  On the other hand, if the psychic force is absent or is not being applied, the table feels heavy and dead.”

What causes the table to move if muscular force has nothing to do with the matter?

“Up to the time of my experiments on table movements without contact, I do not think anyone had much idea.  But I fancy the matter is a little clearer now.  Arguing on the basis of non-contact phenomena, what probably happens is that psychic arms (or rods) – invisible and impalpable – project themselves from the person who is mediumistic, these arms being supplied with energy from the bodies of the sitters.  Briefly, the medium supplies the psychic arm and the sitters the energy required to work it.  If there is no medium present, no psychic arm can be projected and no phenomena can ensue though all the sitters may be able to give forth psychic energy in abundance…These invisible psychic arms probably grip the table by adhesion to its under surfaces or legs and thus bring about the movements which appear so mysterious.” 
Would you mind describing the process involving Kathleen Goligher?

“The members constituting the circle enter the room and each sits down on his customary chair.  They sit around in the form of a circle about five feet diameter and the table is placed in the center.  The ordinary illuminant is turned off and a red light turned on.  The sitters clasp each other’s hands in chain order and the séance commences.  One of the members of the circle opens the proceedings with prayer and then a hymn is sung.  In a few minutes, sounds – tap, tap, tap,—are heard on the floor close to the medium.  These are the first ‘spirit’ raps of the evening.  They soon become louder and stronger and occur right out in the circle space, on the table, and on the chairs of the sitters.  Their magnitude varies in intensity from the slightest audible ticks to blows which might well be produced by a sledge-hammer, the latter really being awe-inspiring and easily heard two stories below and even outside the house.  The loud blows perceptibly shake the floor and chairs. Sometimes the raps keep time to hymns sung by members of the circle; sometimes they tap out themselves complicated tunes and dances on top of the table or on the floor. Besides the ordinary raps the operators can produce various modifications and peculiar variations.  For instance, they can imitate a bouncing ball so perfectly that one would be prepared to affirm a ball was really in the room. They can imitate to perfection the sawing of the table leg, the striking of a match, the walking of a man, and the trotting of a horse.  They give double and treble knocks, i.e., two or three fast ones and one slow one.  In fact, almost every variety and combination of rap it is possible to imagine is heard.”

How long does this rapping go on?

“After a quarter of an hour or so the rappings cease and another type of phenomenon takes its place.  [It should be remembered] that the members of the circle are simply sitting on their chairs and holding each other’s hands in chain order and are only passive instruments in the hands of the invisible operators – whoever the latter may be.  The little table is standing on the floor within the circle formed by the sitters and is not in contact with any of them or with any portion of their clothing.  Suddenly the table gives a lurch or moves slightly along the floor.  After a while it may give another lurch or it may rise into the air on two legs.  These movements – which are executed, as I have said, without physical contact with the medium or the members of the circle – are the preliminary motions which usually take place just previous to the first levitation, i.e., before the table rises completely into the air of itself where it remains suspended for several minutes without visible support.”

Do you know how the rappings come about?

“[As I mentioned earlier], a psychic ‘rod’ (or arm) issues from the body of the medium; a semi-flexible rod, which is moved up and down and strikes the floor or table.  [The operators] say that raps are produced in two ways:  (1) soft raps, bouncing ball imitations, etc. – by beating the side of the rod on the floor, as one uses a stick for beating a carpet. (2) hard raps – by beating the rod on the floor more or less axially.  I asked them the approximate dimensions of a rapping rod used to give a fairly hard blow.  They gave a blow on the floor as a sample and then said that the diameter of the rod used in that particular case was about two inches and of uniform thickness over its length, until just before entering the body of the medium, where it increased to a diameter of about three inches.”

Is Miss Goligher in a trance when the various phenomena are produced through her?

“[No.] The medium was quite conscious during all my experimental investigations, and any fraud presented would therefore be in the nature of deliberate action.  She herself was always keenly interested in the experiments, and has told me she enjoys such sittings much more than ordinary development séances…Many times I have observed the keenness with which she followed what went on, evidently forgetting for the time being that she herself was the prime cause of all the phenomena, and that without her there would have been nothing.” 

So you recognize that there is such a thing as unconscious fraud with some mediums?

“While recognizing that both varieties of fraud exist, I am confident that they have been much overrated.  Even at séances, such as the Golighers’, where everything is above suspicion, where all phenomena can be demonstrated with the greatest ease to be genuine to the last detail, things happen which to a superficial observer might appear fraudulent.  For instance, sometimes the medium’s body, or portions of her body, make spasmodic kinds of movements when heavy raps or impacts are being experienced far out in the circle.  These are simply the reactions due to the raps and are what we might expect.  The seeker after fraud (who by the way is usually a person with no knowledge of science) immediately puts them down to imposture.  My experiments, conducted over a long period of time and more thoroughly than any ever carried out hitherto, have proved to me beyond all question that the medium’s body is either directly or indirectly the focus of all the mechanical actions which result in phenomena.  And not only is it the focus but it also seems to supply a kind of duplicate of portions of her body, which can be temporarily detached and projected into the space in front of her.  Thus, things happen in the séance room which, from the nature of the case, sometimes bears a superficial appearance of fraud, though, in a properly conducted circle it is only superficial, and the true and genuine nature of the phenomena can always be discovered by a little investigation.”

What kind of person is Kathleen Goligher?

“She is an upright and honorable young woman, has received no monetary recompense for what she has done, and has always been willing to give me her services freely in the cause of science.  Her mediumship is absolutely beyond dispute, as many people, some of them well known, are able with certainty to say.  However, she knows it is my duty to set at rest the minds of those who are afraid of unconscious mediumistic action and the like; of those who, not having been able to attend her séances and see for themselves what actually happens, wish to know what precautions have been taken, and what independent witnesses have to say.” 

Do you have an opinion as to whether these “operators” are spirits of the “dead” or some aspect of the subconscious?

“[The subconscious] is the alternative I had in mind all through my investigations.  As months succeeded month, as each new phase of phenomena was presented, as each new experiment was done, I always said to myself, ‘Can this very determined work of seemingly intelligent beings be but a simulation after all?  Can it be all a fraud?  Is it possible that nature holds intelligences belonging to ourselves or otherwise, which could so persistently deceive?  Why should our subliminal consciousness (supposing we possess such a thing) carry out for us phenomenal demonstrations on the lines of reason and intelligence, requiring effort and system, for the object of deceiving us?’  No! It seems most unlikely and repellant to our sense of the fitness of things.  Nobody who has not delved deeply into psychic phenomena can have any conception of its tremendous variety and range.  It includes telekinetic phenomena, apports, materialization, the direct voice, clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance, etc., etc.  There are, in fact, dozens of phases of psychic action, all consistent in the inference to which they lead, namely, that man survives death, and inconsistent on any other hypothesis.”

This interview will be continued at the next blog post here on January 3.  In the meantime, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to all.

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.

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An Interview with EVP researcher, Dr. Anabela Cardoso

Posted on 04 December 2017, 9:38

“The electronic voices received through ITC tell us that they originate ‘in another dimension beyond time, a world where the dead also live’,” Dr. Anabela Cardoso (below) states in the Introduction of her latest book, Electronic Contact with the Dead:  What do the Voices tell us? “My own contacts have been with voices that, overall, assert that they belong to the deceased ... [they] have repeated time and again that they ‘are the dead speaking from another world’.”


Until I read Cardoso’s 2010 book, Electronic Voices: Contact with Another Dimension? I wasn’t overly impressed with the evidence for ITC (Instrumental Transcommunication), EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or DRV (Direct Radio Voices).  In previously exploring the subject, all I had heard were some muffled or garbled “words” that required some imagination, sort of like looking for faces or figures in the clouds.  However, Cardoso’s book offered much more than a few words here and there.  There was actual dialogue taking place in her experiments, some involving philosophical discussions.  Her latest book adds to the evidence

Dr. Cardoso, who speaks five languages, is a highly-respected diplomat, having served as Consul-General for Portugal in a number of countries, including the United States, Spain and France, and as Portuguese Chargé d’Affaires in Japan and India.  She is the founder and editor of the ITC Journal, which is published in English.  I recently put some questions to her by e-mail.

Dr. Cardoso, what prompted your interest in this whole area of electronic voices and survival?

Two things – firstly, an enormous curiosity about life and death; secondly, grief – mine and the deep grief and despair of the friend who started experimenting with me. She had tried to commit suicide twice. 

Would you mind briefly defining ITC, EVP, and DRV and explain how they differ?  There seems to be much overlap and confusion as to how they are used.
ITC is a broad term that encompasses the whole range of electronic communications – computer texts, video images (also called transimages), fax communications, telephone calls, anomalous electronic voices and other electronically mediated contacts. In the scope of the voices it is normally used in relation to the DRV. The DRV emanate directly from the loudspeaker of a radio and allow for dialogues when we are able to understand what the voices say immediately. EVP are the voices that we cannot hear directly but become audible when we rewind the recording. They are normally much shorter and clearer but, naturally, do not allow for a dialogue because we cannot hear them directly.

The term Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) was coined by Dr. Ernst Senkowski, professor of physics at the Technical University of Mainz, Germany in the 1980s when other types of electronic messages, namely images, computer and fax messages, started coming through. Until then and on account of Dr. Konstantin Raudive’s book, Breakthrough, the anomalous electronic voices were called Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) or “Raudive voices.”  Raudive’s book caused furore in Great Britain when it was published by Colin Smythe in 1971, and thousands of people started experimenting with the new method he described, apparently obtaining results; therefore, the term “Raudive voices.” But it was Friedrich Jürgenson, the Swedish painter and singer, who in reality pioneered the existence of these mysterious voices. Dr. Raudive got the information and methods to experiment from Jürgenson himself. Later, in their book, Phone Calls from the Dead, parapsychologists Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless published the results of their investigations of still another type of ITC messages, the anomalous telephone calls. From then on, reports of anomalous messages transmitted via electronic means upsurged all over the world. Some results are truly exceptional, as is the case of Maggy and Jules Harsch-Fischbach in Luxembourg, of Adolf Homes in Germany and Marcello Bacci in Italy, while other reports publicized mostly through the Internet, are imprecise and even doubtful. 

What do you say to skeptics who say that electronic voices are no more than wishful thinking turning a bunch of static into voices?
I say, of course, that they have never witnessed, nor heard, and even less studied, any real anomalous electronic voices. Furthermore, I say that they know nothing about the literature. There are over one-hundred volumes published on this subject. They should study them first and look at the evidence. 

In your 2010 book, you mention a DRV communication of over 2 1/2 hours, but you state that most of it could not be understood.  How much could be understood and what exactly is the problem in that regard?

The contact remained open for all that time but not the voice speaking with me. Although very long, it did not speak all that time. I have never heard of an electronic voice speaking for such a long period of time! The voices do not speak uninterruptedly. They speak, stop for a while, speak again, in the best-cases come back repeatedly, but they never speak for such a long time.
Little could be understood of my September 1998 DRV. The voice was so loud that I had to lower the microphone entry to a level much under the normal microphone entry otherwise it would be damaging to the ear. But it sounded as if spoken from the inside of a metal box with the corresponding deformation, and it was also truncated. It was as if speech bits were missing. It was also very fast (a common characteristic) and seemed glued all together. I understood “[Rio do] Tempo” spoken in a lower tone and by another voice, “Anabela”...”This is what you asked for yesterday”...“It’s very difficult, difficult”... “It’s for Cristina Arruda”...“It’s the father, satisfaction” and other things that I cannot recall. At the time I had a Brazilian researcher staying with me; she had come purposely to watch my experiments. Indeed, the day before I had asked Carlos de Almeida (my main communicator at the time) if they could speak for her the next day.

Interestingly, in most cases, the louder the DRV the less understandable they are. I remember that I cried and cried because of not being able to understand the replies that extraordinary masculine voice gave to my many questions on some transcendental issues that interest me deeply. I took the tapes to a specialized audio shop and the sound technicians there could not understand it, either. They said pieces of speech were missing. I recall an anomalous computer text conveyed via Adolf Homes, which stated that the voices were transmitted from the next dimension in packets of energy and that only around 40 percent of the information sent by them reached our world (I cannot be sure of the exact percentage but it was in this order). Maybe this is what happened. I just don’t know.

Are any of the messages so clear and distinct that there is absolutely no question about them?

Some of the voices in the CD I published with my first book are fully intelligible. Naturally, as should be expected, the only condition is to be fluent in the idiom.

What has been most evidential to you?

Perhaps the fact that the voices identified themselves as the dead, in some cases with their own names and called me by my own name and my family pet name, “Bela,”” and replied directly to my questions. Also that Rio do Tempo identification was clearly provided on many occasions. “We speak from Rio do Tempo Station…”. “Zeitstrom” (Timestream) was the name of the group (station) that spoke both with the Harsch-Fischbach in Luxembourg and Adolf Homes in Germany. Years ago, before me, Carlos de Almeida had spoken clearly in Portuguese with the Luxembourg operators identifying the name of his group in “Zeitstrom Station” as “Rio do Tempo” and telling his own name. His message was addressed to a conference in Brazil where Harsch-Fischbach were going to present their findings.

You refer to group souls in your books.  What exactly are they as you understand them?

My communicators have spoken many times about “our group” and have also explicitly said “I go down to my group, I go to the soul” as you might have heard in my CD. Apart from the mention of their group, they have told me “You belong to Rio do Tempo [the group],” and other remarks I heard them say to each other which implied the collaboration of less-expected beings such as, fish and other animals, besides my own dogs that, obviously, we would expect to be part of the group. They mentioned the most varied beings in the context of playing a part in their projects to accomplish the communications with us. Consequently, my own interpretation of the group-soul is very close to the description Frederic Myers purportedly made of that unit in The Road to Immortality through the automatic writing of Geraldine Cummins. A huge group that comprises minerals, plants, animals, humans, united by affinities, interests, goals and, of course, love. I suppose this group extends beyond our present existence and could relate to many other unknown circumstances.   

Why isn’t it possible to get a number of distinguished scientists to observe an ITC session with you and for them to all agree that it is genuine?

I believe you mean orthodox scientists and that is practically an impossibility because they are not interested. Unorthodox scientists have been present in some of my experiments. Professor Uwe Hartmann and Professor Ernst Senkowski from Germany, Professor David Fontana from the UK, and Dr. Adrian Klein from Israel, were in my house on innumerable occasions and took part in many dozen experiments. They all agreed to the genuineness of the voices I receive and published about them. David Fontana spoke extensively of my ITC experiments in his books, and Professor Uwe Hartmann also published about them, took measurements, etc. However, they were not orthodox scientists and understood that the voices do not happen on command; therefore, they stayed at my house for rather lengthy periods of time. I don’t know if or when the voices will occur, thus I cannot say in advance if a session will yield positive results. We have to wait and see. I very much doubt that an orthodox scientist, particularly a high level one, would stay at my house for a full month, for instance, to see if the voices manifest!  And even if he did, they might not happen in that period. Then what? But if you know of anyone who is in that disposition, please recommend them to come.  However, let me clarify that to fully validate the anomalous electronic voices, we need a specialized scientist, not any scientist. We need an electromagnetic physicist or engineer. Interestingly, I met one of those in 1998 at the beginning of my experiments. I will tell you briefly what happened.

When I started receiving the DRV, voices happened at my house practically on a daily basis. I and my colleagues were amazed and wanted all possible confirmation of the anomalous quality of the voices. The University of Vigo, where I live, is well known for its engineering and telecommunications faculty. I sent a pair of tapes (I used an analogue recorder then as I still do today) to the acoustic experts of the faculty to be analysed. They did not know me and I did not know them. Not a clue about the provenance of the voices on the tapes was given. The whole thing was channelled through my office at the Consulate General of Portugal. A few weeks later, the experts came back to the officer who had made the contact, and told him they were extremely surprised because the tapes contained voices which were not modulated in a usual way. They insisted in finding out how the voices had been obtained but the Consulate officer did not know; thus, he conveyed their message to me and, a few days later, I decided to invite these two academics for lunch at my house.  Their research area was (is) Theory of the Signal and Communications and this is exactly the area credentialed to evaluate the characteristics of any recording. One of these academics is currently a full professor at the same faculty of Vigo University. When they came for lunch they still did not know what the voices were. With great difficulty, I told them about the likely provenance of the recorded voices and immediately their faces showed such stupefaction that I could not hold laughing! As a matter of fact the situation was out of the ordinary, to say the least – a high ranking diplomat telling two orthodox scientists in a highly conservative country that does not accept any discussion of these issues, that she had recorded the voices of the dead! Moreover, they had never heard of EVP. What an embarrassing situation!

To make a long story short - I informed them that my communicators had told me they would endeavour to speak at 8 p.m. of that same day, so they should wait and see for themselves. But some half an hour before the time, they suddenly got up, apologized and said they had to leave immediately. I insisted to no avail. Rio do Tempo did speak that evening at 8.00pm. What a missed opportunity! It was a real shame because to reliably assess the electronic voices we need scientists of the pertinent field, i.e., physicists working in Theory of the Signal. This was my first encounter with orthodox scientists in the scope of the electronic voices. Later, I contacted a few others but the moment I revealed my opinion about the origin of the voices, they ended all contact with me.

Another good example is the report on the highly controlled experiments carried out for a period of two years I published in NeuroQuantology – “A Two-Year Investigation of the Allegedly Anomalous Electronic Voices or EVP” (Cardoso, 2012, 2017). It announced that samples of the voices would be sent to interested scientists and technicians. Nobody applied for this free demonstration.

What do you see as the future for ITC?

ITC, the new method to attempt contact with the next dimension of life announced by mediums in different points of the globe at the beginning of the last century (Cardoso, 2010), will play a still more significant role in the future. If we ponder the manifestations seemingly produced by those we call the dead throughout human history, we easily verify that their recurrent feature is to be in conformity with the [human] epoch of their emergence. This attribute is even more visible in ITC with its technological connections, apart from the fact that the determinant element is electricity, which is supposed to be a very manageable energy for our communicators. Thus, in my opinion ITC will develop hand-in-hand with the new technologies that humans will devise in the future. We just have to wait and see!

Electronic Contact with the Dead:  What do the Voices tell us? is available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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.

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Asking God to take a back seat

Posted on 20 November 2017, 10:04

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, more Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral.  It goes on to explain that 56 percent of U.S. adults have this belief, up from about 49 percent who expressed this view in 2011.

People calling themselves humanists – mostly atheists who claim to subscribe to a moral code – would certainly say that it is not necessary to believe in a god to be moral.  They contend that we can lead lives of love, empathy, service, morality and humility without any belief in a god or an afterlife.  No doubt some of them can do so, but idealism always yields to pragmatism when it comes to the masses, when the lures of materialism become too tempting and give way to hedonism and criminal behavior. The “seven deadly sins” of religion – greed, envy, lust, pride, anger, sloth, and gluttony – kick in for the majority at some point in the pursuit of the materialistic “good life.”  The same materialistic lures are also there for the theists, but many of them consider the fear of punishment in the orthodox afterlife and think twice before giving into the immoral temptations.

An argument can easily be made that the humanist who lives a life of morality is more heroic than the religionist, since his or her morality stems from a benevolent character, not from fear, but there is no reason to believe that an equal number of religionists are not acting out of benevolence rather than fear, perhaps an amalgamation of the two for some. While impossible to measure, it seems like the fear factor contributes significantly to controlling the more criminal aspects of immorality in the pragmatic world, thereby lending itself heavily to religion in its comparison with humanism as a way of regulating morality, at least from a societal viewpoint. 

I am not aware of any measure or gauge to be applied to morality, as it is too subjective a word, but I think most people who have been around this realm of existence for any length of time will agree with me that our moral standards are in serious decline.  I like the way Chris Hedges, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, analyzes it in his book, Empire of Illusion.  “The cult of self dominates our cultural landscape,” he offers.  “The cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity, and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, and manipulation, the inability to feel remorse or guilts.”  Hedges sees this decline as a result of the “celebrity culture” that has risen up around us – a culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. 

To fully grasp Hedges’s words we need only observe how movie stars are much more admired and better compensated than the real-life people they portray, while athletes, who are play or pretend warriors, are more respected than soldier fighting real wars. A football player who falls on a fumbled ball for a winning touchdown is more acclaimed than a combatant who falls on a grenade to save the lives of his buddies in arms. 

Hedges believes that “the moral nihilism of celebrity culture is played out on reality television shows, most of which encourage a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal.”  The mantra for this mindset was perhaps best displayed on a television show from a few years back when the audiences chanted “Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!” 

In his book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, John Shelby Spong, an Episcopalian bishop, contends that we are living in a morally neutral universe. “The death of the God of theism,” he claims, “has removed from our world the traditional basis of ethics.”  He adds that “Some respond with a panicked pursuit of pleasure.  Some seek to escape their fears of moral meaninglessness in the world of alcohol and drugs.  Some sink to the ultimate level of despair and fall into depression or even suicide.  Some try to shield themselves form the unsettling sense of emptiness by becoming hysterically religious, as if shouting certain religious phrases with emotion and a feigned certainty might convince them that everything is still the way it has always been.”  These are signs, Spong continues, “the signs that a loss of meaning has engulfed our world.  We no longer know how to tell right from wrong, and above all else, our confusion reflects the death of the theistic God in whom all these things were once grounded.”

Earlier in the book, Spong dismisses the idea of a personal, humanlike God.  “Theism, as a way of conceiving of God, has become demonstrably inadequate, and the God of theism not only is dying but is also probably not revivable,” he writes, going on to define his new God as the “Ground of all Being,” while wondering if such a God is anything more than “a philosophical abstraction serving merely to cushion our awakening into the radical aloneness of living in a godless world.”

Spong defines himself as “a believer who lives in exile,” in effect believing that there is some higher power and some purpose in life, that it is not all a march toward an abyss of nothingness, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  He comes across as an optimistic humanist, one who is ignorant of the multitude of evidence supporting the survival of consciousness at death, a concern that does not necessarily follow a belief in God. 

As churches continue to empty and the moral compass goes further south, it would appear that many have adopted the same view as Spong, unable to believe in the God of the Bible, a God who would permit bad things to happen to good people and who would be so heartless as to condemn them to everlasting punishment in a horrific hell for even small transgressions from “His” rules of conduct, a God who requires adoration, praise and worship like some egotistical king. 

Considering the decline in morality and the greater acceptance of a nihilistic outlook we are now witnessing, I see reason to believe that there is a significant positive correlation between belief and morality.  However, I would substitute “belief in God” with “belief in life after death,” as it is not necessary to believe in the anthropomorphic God of religion to accept the strong evidence coming to us from psychical research that consciousness does survive death in a greater reality.     

The widespread belief that we have to believe in God and come up with proof of His, Her, or Its existence before accepting the strong evidence for survival, i.e., life after death, is, as I see it, the biggest impediment to understanding the most important concern facing humankind – whether this life is all there is or is part of a much larger life.  It is root cause of most of the chaos and turmoil in the world today.

The problem dates back to the fourth century AD when the Council of Nicaea decided to elevate Jesus to the Godhead, in part because Christians needed a humanlike figure to visualize as God and pray to.  It was too difficult to visualize a panentheistic God, an abstraction.  Many of those who have left religion and adopted a nihilistic worldview have done so because they cannot accept a humanlike figure as God and also cannot visualize a panentheistic God.  If they can’t visualize it, they reason, it must not exist.  Add in the cruel, capricious nature of the God of religion, and it is not something they want to believe in or give any serious thought to. 

Even those who divorce themselves from religion and call themselves agnostics or atheists hold onto the idea that God and an afterlife are concomitants, that consciousness cannot survive death unless there is that “old man in the sky” pulling the strings. The typical militant atheistic diatribe found on the Internet almost always begins by attacking a belief in God while implying that if there is no “big daddy” up there, there can be no afterlife.  The atheists ignorantly cling to the premise that there must be scientific proof of God before the evidence for an afterlife can be considered.  Meanwhile, those who stick with orthodox religion remain steadfast in their antiquated beliefs and invite the disdain of the non-believers with their evangelizing of ways and means that cannot be reconciled with a just and loving Creator.   

If one first considers all the evidence for survival – that coming to us through research in mediumship, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, past-life studies, and Instrumental Transcommunication – and accepts it with some degree of certainty, even if not absolute certainty (call it conviction), he or she doesn’t really need to have a picture of God in mind.  It is enough to picture a spirit world where we are reunited with loved ones and live on in a larger life.  The picture of that spirit world may be very hazy or out of focus, three-dimensional and mostly inaccurate, but it offers a more tangible and sensible construct than does either the anthropomorphic God or the more abstract, non-personal God.  Moreover, it is more meaningful than the limited afterlife provided by orthodox religions, one of angels floating around on clouds while strumming harps and singing praise 24/7 to a narcissistic god.  Nor is it necessary to demote Jesus or whomever one sees as representing the Godhead.  Many people who believe the same way as Bishop Spong, viewing God in a panentheistic way, see Jesus as something akin to Chairman of the Board in that larger life.  Once we accept that so much of it is beyond human comprehension, the difference is one of semantics.

In a way, it is the old chicken and egg paradox, but it really doesn’t require the person to say which came first.  It is simply a matter of recognizing that the evidence for life after death is easier to humanly grasp than the evidence for God and that we can visualize an afterlife somewhat better than we can visualize God. The bottom line is that we have to get over the idea that God must be identified and proved before accepting the evidence for the reality of life after death.  Until we do that, the moral compass will not reverse itself. 

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:  December 4

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To levitate or to be levitated?  That is the question.

Posted on 06 November 2017, 11:22

For those who accept the overwhelming evidence that levitations of humans and objects have taken place on numerous occasions, the question is whether the levitations are triggered by some unknown power of the mind, i.e., mind over matter, or whether spirit entities are lifting the person or object. 

Sir William Crookes, a renowned British scientist who observed a number of levitations with the medium D. D. Home and others, referred to the force giving rise to the levitations as “psychic force” and contended that it can “be traced back to the Soul or Mind of the man as its source.”  Crookes did not attempt to identify “soul” or “mind,” but he did say that he and others who had witnessed the psychic force recognized that it may be “sometimes seized and directed by some other Intelligence than the mind of the psychic.”  When he reported on witnessing Home, he did not say he saw Home levitate himself.  “On three separate occasions I have seen him raised completely from the floor of the room,” is the way he put it. (emphasis mine) 

Home, who recalled a feeling of “electrical fullness” about his feet, was usually lifted up perpendicularly with his arms rigid and drawn above his head, as if he were grasping the unseen power raising him from the floor. At times, he would reach the ceiling and then be moved into a reclining position.  Some of the levitations lasted four or five minutes.

An artist’s depiction of Home being levitated

Lord Adare, one of Home’s biographers, reported with his father, the Earl of Dunraven, on 78 sittings they had with Home between November 1867 and July 1869 (Experiences in Spiritualism with D. D. Home).  Before any phenomenon occurred, Home would go into trance and spirits would often speak through his vocal cords. In the 40th sitting, during December 1868, a spirit began speaking through Home, saying that he would “lift him” on to the table. “Accordingly, in about a minute, Home was lifted up on to the back of my chair,” Adare recorded.  “The spirit then told Adare to “take hold of Dan’s feet.” Adare complied, “and away he went up into the air so high that I was obliged to let go his feet; he was carried along the wall, brushing past the pictures, to the opposite side of the room.”  After Home was deposited on the floor, the spirit commented that the levitation was badly done and said that “We will lift Dan up again better presently….”  However, he was not raised again that night as some other spirit wanted to speak through Home and the spirit who had lifted him gave way to this more advanced spirit. 

Of course, the skeptic would say that Home was a trickster or that Adare made it all up or was hallucinating.  “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to,” said Sir David Brewster, another famous scientist who witnessed a table levitated in the presence of Home.  Michael Faraday, the esteemed physicist, claimed that all such reports about levitations by Home were by incompetent witnesses.  Physicist John Tyndall denounced Home and urged him to confess to his fraudulent actions.

Crookes observed Home under lighted conditions and in his own dwelling. Thus, there was no opportunity for Home to rig invisible hoisting wires as skeptics suggested.  Moreover, there were many other witnesses to Home’s mediumistic phenomena, including biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution. Wallace witnessed the levitation of a table and a floating hand playing an accordion. 

Crookes concluded his report by saying that more experimentation was necessary before it could be determined whether Home and others were somehow defying the laws of gravity by “lifting themselves” or whether they were “being lifted.”  Now, nearly a century and a half later, the question remains unanswered and the fundamentalists of science still reject the genuineness of levitation, seeing all past observers of levitations as having been duped, while clinging to the words of Brewster: “They are the observations of ill-trained faculties, the cravings of morbid and mystic temperaments that have been suckled on the husks and garbage of literature, etc.”

While many parapsychologists today accept the genuineness of levitation, the majority of them seem to subscribe to the idea that the levitation is triggered by the medium’s mind.  Even though that theory defies known natural law, it is a more “intelligent” and “scientific” one, since it does not require one to profess a belief in “spooks” and other religious folly that science has written off as mere superstition and fraud. Though opposing materialistic beliefs, the subconscious theory does not necessarily lend itself to spiritual ones or to the survival hypothesis. 

Nevertheless, it is not all that easy for a person with an open mind to dismiss the records of intelligent and objective men like Crookes, Wallace, Dunraven, Adare, and the dozens of others who witnessed levitations and other psychic phenomenon.  Consider the testimony of Dr. Cesare Lombroso, a world-renowned neuropathologist known for his studies in criminal behavior.  In his 1909 book, After-Death, What? Lombroso wrote that he had made it an indefatigable pursuit of a lifetime to defend the thesis that every force is a property of matter and the soul an emanation of the brain.  For years he laughed at the reports he had heard about levitations and spirits communicating.

But in the spirit of science, Lombroso sat with Eusapia Palladino on 17 occasions during 1892.  He was often joined by other scientists, including Professor Charles Richet, who would later win the Nobel Prize in medicine.  On September 28, Lombroso observed Palladino “being levitated” above the table.  “The medium, who was seated near one end of the table, was lifted up in her chair bodily, amid groans and lamentations on her part,” he recorded, “and placed (still seated) on the table, then returned to the same position as before.” (emphasis mine)

Palladino table levitation

Lombroso was holding one of Eusapia’s hands, as Richet held the other as she was raised off the floor in her chair while in a state of trance.  Eusapia complained of hands grasping her under the arms. Then, her voice changed, and said, “Now I lift my medium up on the table.”  (emphasis mine).  Lombroso and Richet continued to hold her hands as Eusapia and the chair rose to the top of the table without hitting anything.  “After some talk in the trance state the medium (or her spirit control speaking through her) announced her descent, and was deposited on the floor with the same security and precision.”  The doctors followed the movements of her hands and body without at all assisting them. Moreover, during the descent “both gentlemen repeatedly felt a hand touch them on the head.” The voice speaking through Palladino’s vocal cords was said to be that of John King, her spirit guide who reportedly took control of her body during her trance states. 

At a number of the séances, Lombroso observed a mysterious hand move about and touch the sitters. “Nay, sometimes the fluidic hand has been visible in full light, and seen holding objects, picking the strings of the mandolin, beating the tambourine, lifting things from boxes, putting the metronome in movement with a key,” Lombroso added, noting that the hand was much larger than Eusapia’s and distant from her. (emphasis mine)   

By 1903, Lombroso had observed Eusapia many more times, but at a sitting with her in Genoa in 1903, he experienced something new.  Under red light, his deceased mother materialized, greeted him, and kissed him.  Lombroso wrote that his mother reappeared at least 20 times in subsequent sittings. “I am ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of psychic facts – the facts exist and I boast of being a slave to facts.” Lombroso concluded. “There can be no doubt that genuine psychical phenomena are produced by intelligences totally independent of the psychic and the parties present at the sittings.” (emphasis mine)

Dr. William J. Crawford, an Irish mechanical engineer, studied the mediumship of 16-year-old Kathleen Goligher over a 2 1/2-year period and claimed to have witnessed “hundreds” of levitations.  While initially subscribing to the subconscious theory, Crawford gradually changed his mind and concluded that spirits of the dead were responsible for the levitations and other phenomena. In effect, he saw no reason why the subliminal consciousness of so many mediums around the world would create false identities, such as John King and those of spirit “controls” of other mediums, all intent on masquerading as spirits of the dead while attempting to persuade people that there is life after death.  What was to be gained by a deceptive medium, or the trickster personality dwelling in her subconscious, by promoting the spirit world and life after death idea?  Why not make herself out to be wizard with telepathic and telekinetic powers independent of any spirit influence?  It simply didn’t make sense that mediums around the world who didn’t know each – at a time when communication was very slow and difficult – would all collaborate in such a deception.

Crawford may have been influenced by Wallace’s comments. “On the second-self theory, we have to suppose that this recondite but worser half of ourselves, while possessing some knowledge we have not, does not know that it is part of us, or, if it knows, is a persistent liar, for in most cases it adopts a distinct name, and persists in speaking of us, its better half, in the third person” Wallace had earlier opined. 

Lending itself to the subconscious theory is the research done by some Canadians during the 1970s in which they supposedly created a spirit to whom they gave the name Philip.  This imaginary ghost was able to levitate a table.  This and similar studies have strengthened the idea that it’s all in the mind.  But Allen Kardec, a pioneer in psychical research, addressed the imaginary spirit situation a hundred years earlier in his 1874 book, The Book of Mediums.  “Frivolous communications emanate from light, mocking, mischievous spirits, more roguish than wicked, and attach no importance to what they say,” he offered.  “These light spirits multiply around us and seize every occasion to mingle in the communication; truth is the least of their care; this is why they take a roguish pleasure in mystifying those who are weak, and who sometimes presume to believe their word.  Persons who take pleasure in such communications naturally give access to light and deceiving spirits.”

Kardec added: “Just the same if you invoke a myth, or an allegorical personage, it will answer; that is, it will be answered for, and the spirit who would present himself would take its character and appearance.  One day, a person took a fancy to invoke Tartufe, and Tartufe came immediately; still more, he talked of Orgon, of Elmire, of Damis, and of Valire, of whom he gave news; as to himself, he counterfeited the hypocrite with as much art as if Tartufe had been a real personage.  Afterward, he said he was the spirit of an actor who had played that character.

Who is to say that such a mischievous spirit was not playing along with the Canadian group?    There is also the possibility that the doubles, or spirit bodies, of the Canadians were doing the lifting, which gives a different twist to the subconscious theory.  That is, the “mind” is really spirit.  It is all very mystifying and it appears unlikely that science will ever have a satisfactory answer to the question of levitating vs. being levitated.

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:  November 20 

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Did an Italian priest really fly?

Posted on 23 October 2017, 9:14

When I wrote an article about levitation for Atlantis Rising, a popular national magazine, some years ago, I began with one reported to have taken place on the Sea of Galilee two-thousand years ago and then jumped ahead to October 4, 1630, when Joseph of Copertino, an Italian priest, was assisting in a procession honoring St. Francis of Assisi.  It was reported that Joseph was suddenly lifted into the sky and hovered there for some time before a crowd.  Upon descending, he was so embarrassed that he ran to his mother’s house and hid.  It was one of many “flights” that the future saint would experience, apparently while in a trance state, or in a state of ecstasy or rapture.

Well documented reports of levitations observed by some distinguished men of science,  including chemist Sir William Crookes, physicist Sir William Barrett, engineer William Crawford, and biologist Alfred Russel Wallace had led me to conclude that levitation does take place, but my limited research into the life of Joseph left me to believe that while Joseph was likely “levitated” the stories about him were probably greatly exaggerated and that his levitations were not nearly as high or as long or as often as the brief biographies I had read seemed to suggest.  Having now read Dr. Michael Grosso’s very well-done book, The Man Who Could Fly: St. Joseph of Copertino and the Mystery of Levitation, (Rowman & Littlefield,), I am less skeptical about the dynamics of Joseph’s reported levitations.

Grosso was able to locate and draw from some lengthy and detailed early references on Joseph. He stresses that Joseph’s case doesn’t depend on one or a few observations but on 35 years of roughly continuous eyewitness testimony by some very credible people, including popes, surgeons, kings, and ambassadors, much of which was documented by early historians, including one Arcangelo Rosmi, referred to as Joseph’s diarist. 

In one of Rosmi’s diary entries, he wrote that upon arriving in the basilica of Assisi, Joseph observed a painting of the Virgin Mary and “gave a huge scream and flew about thirty meters in the air and, embracing her, said, ‘Ah, Mamma mia! You have followed me!’ It all happened so quickly that those present were filled with sacred terror, marveling to each other, and remaining in a stupor over the Padre’s performance.”  Three other priests witnessed the levitation and confirmed the height of about 30 meters.

On another occasion, the Knight Baldassare Rossi, believed to be insane, was brought before Joseph by others, who asked Joseph to cure him.  When Joseph placed his hands on Rossi’s head, Joseph went into a rapture, rising high off the ground while carrying Rossi.  They remained in the air for some 10 minutes, before descending.  Rossi then appeared to be perfectly sound of mind. 

Francesco Pierpaolo, a doctor who attended Joseph, reported that he observed Joseph “lifted up” on four separate occasions, once while he was operating on him. On one of the lifts, Joseph floated in the air for seven or eight minutes.  However, his most frequent levitations were when he was saying Mass. “During a single Mass, one could verify three or four cases of levitation,” Gustavo Parisciani, one of Joseph’s biographers, wrote. “It would be impossible to narrate one by one the mystical manifestations, which were the daily joy and the daily torment of Joseph.” 

Abandoned by his father and raised by a strict mother, Joseph (1603-1663) grew up as a socially awkward person.  He was given a moniker that translates to “Gapingmouth.”  His younger years were further complicated by a physical deformity, a melon-sized growth on his back, which isolated him and caused him to turn inward.  He emerges as something of a simpleton, his superiors at one monastery referring to him as “absolutely not suited for religion, thickheaded and neglectful, ignorant and unfit for society.”  It was said he was more afraid of women than of the devil. And yet, his spirituality – his love of solitude, fasting, prayer, and meditation – apparently convinced examiners that Joseph should be ordained a Franciscan priest. 

“Once ordained, it was as if had obtained a license to pull out all stops and abandon himself to ecstacy…,” Grosso writes, going on to say that his public levitations and other strange phenomena were very visible, very dramatic, and very disturbing, especially to the Catholic Church.
Joseph had other psychic abilities, including clairvoyance, precognition, the odor of sanctity, “infused wisdom” and healing, all of which Grosso discusses.  He further examines similar psychic abilities with others and even mentions one case of levitation which he himself observed. 

The Church didn’t know what to make of his levitations and other psychic abilities. They were observed fact, but the question was whether they were divine gifts or diabolic influences.  As a result, Joseph was subject to several inquisitions and it was finally decided that he should live segregated from the general public.  In effect, he was under “house arrest” for much of life. 

“ explain the whole mass of reports and claims as pie in the sky, we would have to assume that large numbers of people were having the same illusion, systematically misinterpreting the movements of one friar for thirty-five years, and that grades of people were swearing in public that they saw things they only imagined,” Grosso writes. “We would have to assume that numerous Church authorities were lying or exaggerating and for some unknown reason hiding and shunting around a completely innocent, nonlevitating friar.  One would have posit an incredible amount of mendacity and stupidity on the part of Rossi, Nuti, Bernini, Lambertini, and all the processi deposers who recorded their observations.”

Grosso sees levitation as “just a very spectacular manifestation of mind acting on body,” seemingly rejecting or ignoring the “spirit” explanation of the phenomenon as advanced or implied in the levitation of others, i.e., the individual wasn’t “levitating” of his own free will, but was “being levitated,” or “lifted,” by spirit entities around him. He does allude to this explanation in places and the stories of Joseph’s levitations indicate that most, if not all, were not voluntary, but academics, of which Grosso is one, are usually reluctant to suggest spirit intervention. It is more “scientific” to attribute it all to the mind and avoid the idea of spirits altogether, even if there might be some kind of mind-spirit link. 

Grosso considers the possibility of sexual repression triggering Joseph’s states of ecstasy.  Nothing is mentioned of autism, which seemed to me to fit with much of Joseph’s personality. Nevertheless, as Grosso states in the Introduction, his book is about the possibility of transcendence. “Joseph’s story has implications for the mind-body problem, for the study of extraordinary mental and physical phenomena, for possible links to the new physics, and for new ways of approaching the old debate between science and religion,” he explains, also speculating on the life after death implications. 

“If we hope to mentally grasp these experiences,” Grosso concludes, “a more elastic concept of mind and body seems necessary.”

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:  November 6 (more on levitation)

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Professor works to develop Soul Phone

Posted on 09 October 2017, 11:37

Because the flying machine developed by Wilbur and Orville Wright remained in the air for only 59 seconds and covered a distance of only 852 feet on that first day of machine-powered human flight in 1903, the idea of commercial air travel must have seemed very far-fetched or impractical at the time.  In fact, the Wright Brothers were initially ignored by the scientific community and the media. “But their proof-of-concept experiments at Kitty Hawk clearly showed the feasibility of future human flight,” says Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of psychology, (below) medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona. “Similarly, our soul phone research demonstrates the feasibility of future electronic communication with spirits.”


Little seems to have changed since the days of the Wright Brothers when it comes to thinking outside the box, especially when it involves something not perfectly fitting into a materialistic paradigm. In a day and age when academicians and scientists invite scorn and impeachment from their peers and the mainstream media by daring to even hint at the possibility of a spirit world, Schwartz speaks frankly and without hesitation about the soul phone prototype project (SoulPhone™) to which he is now dedicated.  This project goes well beyond recognizing the existence of a spirit world; it hypothesizes that we can establish regular communication with its inhabitants.

“Currently we are working on developing two practical first generation prototypes,” Schwartz explains.  “One is an optical soul switch (SoulSwitch™), the other is an electronic soul switch.  Each has the potential, in principle, to be developed to produce 98-99 percent accurate ‘yes – no’ binary responses [from spirit communicators]. Our goal is to have a working ‘yes – no’ soul switch in as early as a year from now that can accurately use a ‘twenty questions’ paradigm.”

Schwartz goes on to say that if either the optical or electronic prototype soul switch is developed, as predicted, he anticipates that it will take a second year to produce a working prototype soul keyboard consisting of a minimum of 40 keys using the standard qwerty arrangement.  This will permit “soul texting,” potentially as effective as the everyday texting we are now familiar with.

Such ideas exceed the boggle threshold of even those who believe in a spirit world, but perhaps no more so than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner would have completely dumbfounded or awed people of a century ago. 

Preliminarily, before accepting the possibility of Schwartz’s ideas, one must acknowledge the existence of a spirit world and further accept the abundance of research carried out by Schwartz and other esteemed scientists and scholars strongly suggesting that communication between the spirit realms and this more material realm has taken place and continues to take place.

Schwartz, who received his doctorate from Harvard University and served as professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale before assuming his position at the University of Arizona, where he is also director of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness in Health, carried out replicated laboratory research using double-blinded experiment designs with a number of clairvoyant mediums during the late 1990s and early 2000s, finally concluding that communication with the “dead” does take place, though not without many obstacles, and that human consciousness survives physical death.  “I can no longer ignore the data and dismiss the words,” he wrote in his 2002 book, The Afterlife Experiments, about what he had observed with the mediums he tested.  “They are as real as the sun, the trees, and our television sets, which seem to pull pictures out of the air.”

Much more recently, in the May 2017 issue of The Journal for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, he stated that over the past 20 years, extensive scientific evidence has led to the conclusion that human consciousness survives physical death, and he stressed that much of the information obtained through skilled mediums cannot be explained by fraud, magician tricks, rater bias, experimenter bias, or even by mind reading. “The scientific evidence ... may seem impossible to some readers,” he explained.  “The evidence may challenge your assumptions and beliefs about reality.  The evidence may defy your commonsense and knowledge, and even seem absurd.”  Nevertheless, he went on to say, “the totality of the experimental evidence ... points to a deep and transformative truth.”

Early Scientific Research

Long before Schwartz began his research, well before he was born, during the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, some very distinguished scientists, including biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, chemist Sir William Crookes, a pioneer in x-ray technology, physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, and astronomer Camille Flammarion, founder of the French Astronomical Society, arrived at the same conclusions after extensive research with different types of mediums, mostly trance mediums.  But perhaps the most dedicated researcher of that era was psychologist James H. Hyslop, a professor of logic and ethics at Columbia University before becoming a full-time psychical researcher in 1902 after being introduced to the subject by William James, the esteemed Harvard professor who is considered one of the pioneers of modern day psychology.

Hyslop cautiously moved from skeptic to neutral scientific observer to believer.  After arriving at some conclusions, he was not one to sit safely on the fence as so many other researchers of the time did for fear of ridicule. 

“Personally I regard the fact of survival after death as scientifically proved,” he wrote. “I agree that this opinion is not upheld in scientific quarters.  But this is neither our fault nor the fault of the facts.  Evolution was not believed until long after it was proved.  The fault lay with those who were too ignorant or too stubborn to accept the facts.  History shows that every intelligent man who has gone into this investigation, if he gave it adequate examination at all, has come out believing in spirits; this circumstance places the burden or proof on the shoulders of the skeptic.”

But while Hyslop, Wallace, Crookes, Lodge, Flammarion, and numerous others found strong evidence to support the survival hypothesis, the fundamentalists of both orthodox religion and mainstream science rejected or simply ignored their findings. Religion saw it as demonic because some of the information coming through mediums was in conflict with established dogma and doctrine, while science saw the “spiritual” phenomena of mediumship as a return to the superstitions and follies of religion.  In an age of reason and enlightenment, such beliefs were held only by the uneducated.  Moreover, there were too many charlatans muddying up the “spiritualism” scene.  While William James reasoned that one white crow proved that all crows aren’t black, the general public reasoned that the existence of black crows proved that all crows are black. 

After the death of Hyslop in 1920, the field of psychical research began to fade away.  Seeing the scorn heaped on respected scientists and scholars who had ventured into such research, fewer and fewer men and women dared enter the field,  a field in which there was very little funding. During the 1930s, psychical research gave way to a new field, called parapsychology.  To give the field some respectability, the parapsychologist avoided mediumship as much as possible, as well as the survival hypothesis, focusing their efforts on examining extra-sensory perception (ESP), such phenomena as telepathy,  telekinesis and holistic healing. While evidence of ESP conflicted somewhat with the materialistic paradigm of mainstream science, it did not seriously threaten it as the phenomena of ESP were viewed as not-yet understood workings of the subconscious mind.  Parapsychologists found it easier to get funding if they attributed it all to the subconscious mind, thereby aligning it all with psychology rather than religion. 

Meanwhile, research in the disciplines of reincarnation studies and near-death experiences developed during the second half of the twentieth century and renewed interest in the survival hypothesis.  Not until Schwartz began studying clairvoyant mediums during the late 1990s was there again any serious research involving mediums.  However, the resistance met by Schwartz from his peers in science was just as great, if not greater, than that encountered by the pioneers a hundred years earlier.  The skeptics, more properly the pseudoskeptics, attempted to poke holes in his methodology or to impugn his character.  But Schwartz refused to wimp out, as so many have done, and pushed on in the pursuit of truth – a truth that involves the most important issue concerning humankind.

Soul Phone Prototype

Schwartz says that, over the past decade, he and his team have tested nine different possible methods for detecting the presence of spirit, and all have produced positive “proof-of-concept” effects.  “By ‘proof-of-concept’ we mean statistically significant effects measuring diverse signals ranging from (1) single photons of light in a pitch black environment, through (2) tiny changes in magnetic fields recorded in a completely shielded zero gauss chamber, to (3) subliminal audio signals recorded in a Faraday shielded professional sound isolation chamber,” he explains.  He presented the results of three proof-of-concept Soul Voice (SoulVoice™) experiments at the June 2017 meetings of the Society for Scientific Exploration held at Yale University. 

I asked Schwartz if he anticipates difficulties in getting mainstream science to accept the soul phone if he does develop a working model.  “The answer depends upon the level of accuracy of the soul phone and the kinds of demonstration experiments we perform,” he responded. “I have designed a set of three categories of ‘thought experiments’ – what Einstein and others have historically called ‘gedankenexperiments.’ Taken together, this trilogy of experiments provides convincing evidence that a specific spirit is using the soul keyboard to answer specific questions.

“The trilogy of experiments involve: (1) typing skills tests, (2) content knowledge tests, and (3) identification verification tests.  None of the types of tests are convincing by themselves. However, it is the combination of the three tests that inexorably points to the conclusion that an ‘identifiable spirit’ is using the soul keyboard and is ‘expressing accurate content knowledge’ unique to her or him.”

Schwartz has concluded that mainstream science will come to accept the reality of the soul phone to the extent that the above trilogy of experiments can be replicated.  However, he has also concluded that a number of diehard skeptics will resist the overwhelming evidence no matter how convincing it is to others.

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.

The Survival of the Soul and Its Evolution After Death by Pierre-Emile Cornillier is available from Amazon

Next blog post:  October 23 

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Surgeon says Mortality can be a Horror for the Dying

Posted on 25 September 2017, 9:41

In his best-selling book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and a professor at Harvard Medical School, discusses the failure of medicine to effectively deal with the needs of the aging and dying.  “Our reluctance to honestly examine the experience of aging and dying has increased the harm we inflict on people and denied them the basic comforts they most need,” he offers in the Introduction.  “Lacking a coherent view of how people might live successfully all the way to their very end, we have allowed our fates to be controlled by the imperatives of medicine, technology, and strangers.”

In effect, the first part of the book is about the needs of the elderly as they struggle with the three plagues of nursing home existence – boredom, loneliness, and helplessness, while the second half of the book deals with the needs of the terminally ill, especially the need for them to face up to their ultimate demise without total despair.  “The only way death is not meaningless is to see yourself as part of something greater: a family, a community, a society,” Gawande concludes from his talks with many aging and dying people, including family and patients.  “If you don’t, mortality is only a horror.”

If I am properly interpreting Gawande’s conclusions, it’s the same old plan many others have espoused – live for today, enjoy the grandchildren and the friendships, savor the little pleasures, identify a purpose outside of ourselves, and overall disregard the words of poet Dylan Thomas that we should “not go gentle into the good night.”  In other words, do not rage against death, but accept it as part of life’s journey.

It all sounds so simple and idealistic, but it has been my experience and observation over 80 years of living and seeing many friends and family depart earthly existence that it doesn’t work, at least for a thinking person.  The fact is that nearly all the daily pleasures we experience are for the most part mundane and ordinary, whether reading a novel, painting a landscape, viewing a movie, watching a sporting event, shopping, playing a game of chess or checkers, or just smelling the roses.  So much of our time is spent escaping from reality in fiction and the pretend wars of the athletic arena.  In the great scheme of things, how can any of it really matter to a person on death’s threshold? 

How often can one meet with friends and discuss commonplace things?  What do they talk about – the weather, sports, politics?  As Sophia suggested to her three housemates on the Golden Girls, their best talks had to do with trashing other people. Considering the fact that politics is a means to an end – an end the dying person won’t be around to witness – is such a discussion anything more than a distraction?  And how many grandchildren really want their old-fogey grandparents hanging around and interrupting their more “important” social media discourse? Pray tell, Dr. Gawande, what daily “pleasures” can we truly savor if we believe we will be extinct in a matter of days or weeks?  Let’s be realistic.

As I suspected before reading the book, Gawande avoids the most important subject facing the aging and dying, one that can give hope and a light through the darkness – the survival of consciousness at death, or, for the true skeptic, the possible survival of consciousness at death. The subject is too unscientific and involves too much religious superstition for all except the most courageous men and women of science to even allude to.  It calls for living in the future rather than enjoying the present, seemingly a contraindicated approach.  Gawande’s credibility as a professional man of medicine might very well have been compromised had he dealt with such a “foolish” subject.

To be fair, Gawande does touch upon it in the Epilogue of the book, mentioning that his father, also a physician, wanted some of his ashes spread on the Ganges River in India, which is sacred to all Hindus, as this supposedly assures eternal salvation.  “I was not much of a believer in the idea of gods controlling people’s fates and did not suppose that anything we were doing was going to offer my father a special place in any afterworld,” Gawande states, making it clear that he was simply carrying out his father’s wishes and performing a ritual that both his mother and sister wanted.

I applaud Dr. Gawande’s efforts to effect a change in being more accepting of death and not raging against it as Dylan Thomas would have us do, but I don’t think he said anything more than Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said in her 1969 classic On Death and Dying, or for that matter as much as Dr. Stephen J. Iacoboni offers in his 2010 book, The Undying Soul.  “Never did we look for or try to save the soul of our patients,” Iacoboni, an oncologist, laments. “We were supposedly among the most brilliant medical investigators in the world, and yet we had no knowledge of or interest in that which mattered most.”

Like Gawande, Iacoboni found that many of his patients had unrealistic expectations and didn’t want their hopes dashed.  They pleaded for or demanded a cure.  While trying not to extinguish what little hope there might have been, Iacoboni tried to be more honest with them than other doctors.  Most of the terminal patients were, however, unable to accept the truth of their condition and lived their remaining days in a state of despair. 

In rating Iacoboni’s book over Gawande’s, I can only conclude that I must not be a very good judge of such books, since Iacoboni’s book never approached the best-seller list and has only 14 reader reviews at, compared with 6,540 reviews for Gawande’s book. 

If I were to have the opportunity and privilege to talk one-on-one with Dr. Gawande, my lack of credentials not withstanding, I would suggest to him that he completely dismiss any ideas he has about the afterlife of orthodox religions and consider all that psychical research, near-death studies, and other consciousness studies have given us over the past 170 years. If he approaches the subject with an open mind and with proper discernment, he should find strong evidence turned up by some very distinguished scientists and scholars that prima facie establish that we all have energy bodies, or spirit bodies, that survive death.  Moreover, he should be able to conclude that we have no a priori reason for believing that the physical world is the only world.  With that in mind, he should be able to see at least the possibility – a strong possibility if the cumulative evidence is fully grasped – of a larger life and the hope that it can give to the dying as they deal with death anxiety. In all that he will find his “coherent view.”   

Assuming that Gawande had the patience to hear me this far, I would anticipate that he is aware of the usual theories offered by the fundamentalists of science to debunk the evidence as resulting from either trickery, unconscious deception, or not-well understood workings of the subconscious mind, and that he would then excuse himself and return to his important work.  If, however, he remained and showed any interest, I would quote the words of the great physicist Sir Oliver Lodge: “Science is incompetent to make comprehensive denials about anything.  It should not deal in negatives.  Denial is no more fallible than assertion.  There are cheap and easy kinds of skepticism, just as there are cheap and easy kinds of dogmatism.” 
I would tell Gawande that if he is able to remove the mental blocks of scientific fundamentalism, he should be able to see that our consciousness is attached to those energy bodies and that it survives death in a much more meaningful way than that suggested by orthodox religions.  He will have to recognize that much of it is beyond modern mainstream science and look for a preponderance of evidence rather than absolute certainty.  If he really digs into it and closely examines the arguments of the debunkers rather than just accepting them because they more easily fit into a materialistic paradigm, he might even find evidence that goes beyond a reasonable doubt, more than enough to give hope to all those patients in despair who expect obliteration of the personality or, even worse, an eternity of floating around on clouds, strumming harps, and singing praises to a self-centered, cruel and capricious god. 

If Dr. Gawande thinks that is all too much for him to accept, I would urge him to carefully consider how inadequate his recommendation for dealing with death anxiety are, something he might not fully appreciate until he is a little older, and I would once more point to the advice of pioneering psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, who said that “a man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it – even if he must confess his failure.”  Not to do so, Jung added, is “a vital loss.”  I would further ask that he also carefully consider Dr. Jung’s words that “while the man who despairs marches toward nothingness, the one who has placed his faith in the [survival] archetype follows the tracks of life and lives right into his death.  Both, to be sure, remain in uncertainty, but the one lives against his instincts, the other with them.”  I’d ask Gawande to explain why he thinks Jung was wrong in making such proclamations, but he would likely shrug it off and say it is a matter of opinion, not a matter of science. 

If Gawande really believes that “living in the moment” and savoring all those mundane activities is an effective way to deal with death anxiety and its concomitant despair, there would be no point in going on with the discussion. Perhaps there are some out there who have mastered the ability to repress all ideas of death as they march toward what they see as an abyss of nothingness, but I don’t recall having met any such person.  I have met some who claim they have no fears of falling into that abyss, but, although I can’t be certain, it does come across to me as nothing more than bravado, i.e., false courage.  And if the good doctor were to further suggest that discussing the larger life is best left to ministers and hospital chaplains, I would take issue with him on that and point out that orthodox religions are stuck in the muck and mire of dogmatism and therefore have for the most part not been open to the discoveries of valid scientific research relating to an energy or spirit body.  I’d admit that such science is not exact science, but neither is medicine anywhere close to being an exact science.  Why accept the inexactitudes of medicine and not of controlled research in psychic matters?  Is it simply hubris?

I’d argue that “meaning” is not the strict domain of religion, that religion arises out of the existential search for meaning, and that science can make its own search in that regard, which it has done, even if not fully appreciated by the masses.  I’d end my discussion by calling upon another Harvard professor of some reputation, a pioneer in the field of psychology, William James. 

To quote Professor James:  “Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet. In the practical life of the individual, we know how his whole gloom or glee about any present fact depends on the remoter schemes and hopes of which it stands related.  Its significance and framing give it the chief part of its value.  Let it be known to lead nowhere, and however agreeable it may be in its immediacy, its glow and guilding vanish.  The old man, sick with an insidious internal disease, may laugh and quaff his wine at first as well as ever, but he knows his fate now, for the doctors have revealed it, and the knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all these functions.  They are partners of death and the worm is their brother, and they turn to a mere flatness.” 

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: October 9

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A New ‘Number One’ Book on the Afterlife.

Posted on 11 September 2017, 7:52

In my blog post of December 5, 2016, I listed my “Top 30” old books – those published before 1950.  At the time, I thought that I’d read every significant book before 1950.  However, I missed one, The Survival of the Soul and Its Evolution After Death, authored by Pierre-Emile Cornillier and first published in 1921.  That book is now number one on my list.  It seems to have impressed publisher Jon Beecher, as well, as his White Crow Books has just recently republished it.   

It wasn’t until a few months ago when, while searching in one of Dr. Robert Crookall’s books for some information on a particular subject matter, that I became aware of the book.  I noted that Crookall, a botanist and geologist who authored 14 books on psychical matters during the 1950s and ‘60s, named it as his favorite.  I found a rare copy and plunged into it. 

Books by William Stainton Moses and Allan Kardec offer much as to how the spirit world works, but I think Cornillier has outdone even them with this book. Why it has not survived as a classic in the field, as their books have, is a mystery to me.  My attempts to find anything to discredit Cornillier have turned up nothing.

Cornillier (1862 – 1942?) was a French artist who had an interest in psychical research when, in 1912, he realized that Reine, an 18-year-old model (below) he had been employing for several months, had psychic abilities of some kind.  He soon began some experiments with her and when she was in a “hypnotic sleep” she was able to go out of body and report on things and happenings in other places.  Cornillier, who clearly had a very discerning mind, was able to confirm many of Reine’s out-of-body observations.  Further experimentation involved communication with some apparently low-level spirits, but a “high spirit” named Vettellini emerged in the ninth séance and continued on as Reine’s primary guide through 107 séances documented by Cornillier.


The 107th séance was on March 11, 1914, but the publication of the book was delayed by the Great War, which began several months later, an event that Vettellini continually warned Cornillier about.  “Neither the war, nor the interior trouble can be averted,” Vettellini communicated on June 2, 1913, more than a year before the outbreak of WWI.  “The Spirits are doing all in their power to mitigate this most appalling catastrophe, but the storm is there; it is almost upon us; it is bound to burst.  It will be delayed; but it is inevitable. 1913 was the date…By dint of infinite precautions and compromises, time will be gained.  But to what avail? A simple gesture and the evil will be let loose.”

Cornillier put numerous questions to Vettellini, (below) including the nature of the spirit body, how spirits awaken on the other side, what they look like, their faculties, grades of consciousness among spirits, activities in the spirit world, spirit influence on humans, God, reincarnation, astral travel, difficulties in communication by high spirits, deception by inferior spirits, premonitions, dreams, time, space, animal spirits, materializations, apparitions, cremation, and other concerns that he had about how things work in the spirit world.


“Death is predetermined,” Vettellini communicated in one sitting.  “Sickness and accident are means used by the Spirit-directors for the accomplishment of destiny.  Life sometimes defends itself vigorously against Death, particularly in the case of inferior beings who intuitively dread the mystery. But Spirit-messengers are there, awaiting the release of the soul, and when the hour comes, aid and, if need be, force the escape. The soul is then conducted before an assembly of high Spirits – the white ones – who recognize the degree of evolution.  If this evolution is slight, the soul will wander about in our atmosphere for a longer or shorter period, reviewing his earthly life, taking cognizance of his responsibilities and learning to develop his own conscience by observing, from the other side, the struggle of living beings.  In all this he will at first be guided by the higher Spirits; then alone, or surrounded by those of his own evolution, he will wander through space – indifferently, lamentably or joyfully, as his level determines – until the moment, more or less remote, when the Spirit-directors will send him back to Earth again for a new incarnation, for another beneficent experience. If the disincarnate soul has already attained a superior evolution, he may become a Spirit-director himself, or he may voluntarily accept another reincarnation for a definite purpose – a sacrifice that will carry him on still higher in the scale of evolution.”

Vettellini often responded to Cornillier by telling him that the various modes of life in the spirit world are beyond human comprehension as their concepts do not exist on our plane.  Reine told Cornillier that she understood everything that Vettellini said while she was in the trance state, but, even though she recalled some of them upon returning to her body, she had no words to explain them.

As Cornillier came to understand, the more evolved spirits were at too high a vibration to effectively communicate with humans and therefore usually relayed their messages through less evolved spirits, whose vibration was closer to the human vibration.  These lower spirits then relayed the messages through the medium. However, the messages were often misinterpreted by the lower spirits and/or by the medium, or they were colored by the medium’s subconscious based on her experience or ideas. “Reine – and this must not be forgotten – does not hear in words the substance of what she repeats,” Cornillier explained.  “She translates into words the vibrations that convey Vettellini’s thought, and as her education is extremely meager, and her vocabulary limited, her interpretations may occasionally be inexact.  Conscious of her difficulties, Vettellini, in certain cases, gives her the precise words, which she then repeats to me mechanically, without comprehending.  And this is another source of error.  The rectification is always made in a following séance, but sometimes long after; for, oftener than not, it is an unexpected question which reveals that the transmission has been imperfect.” 
Cornillier’s deceased father and grandfather communicated with him, and his wife received evidential communication through an old friend.  What was especially evidential to Cornillier, however, was that Reine was a “simple child” in her conscious state, with no prior knowledge of the things she related in some detail and without hesitation in the trance state. Of this as well as her sincerity and integrity he had absolutely no doubt.

In the 60th sitting, Cornillier asked if everyone has spirit guides.  “Yes, generally speaking, each person living has one or more Spirit-friends,” Vettellini replied. “But not everyone is able to keep his friends. Often they are rebuffed and discouraged by your incomprehension, or your bad instincts, which attract lower Spirits around you. Each one creates his own astral society; he has around him the friends whom he merits.  As a rule, if a Spirit is to remain the constant protector of an incarnated being, that being must be in the same current of evolution and not too inferior to his Guide; otherwise he could not fall under the influence of the latter nor comprehend his inspiration.”

In his 42nd sitting, Cornillier asked Vettellini whether the individual consciousness becomes absorbed in a universal consciousness as spirits evolve or whether they retain their individuality.  “Monsieur Corniller, Vettellini affirms that individual consciousness can but grow greater and greater as evolution progresses,” Reine relayed.  “All that is gained and conquered by a being, defines and strengthens his individuality.  It is his, – and for himself.  The blue spirits are more individual than the grey; the white spirits more individual than the blue; and above the white, the still higher Spirits are still more themselves.”  (Vettellini had previously explained that lower level spirits are seen as red in color, the more advanced as blue, and those above them as white.)

In a later sitting, Cornillier asked why men of great stature on earth do not manifest themselves after death to give decisive proof of their survival.  “Men of great value on earth – conscientious students, authorities in their specialties – are not necessarily Spirits of high evolution,” Vettellini responded, going on to explain that some of them have a difficult time coming to grips with their lack of importance in the spirit world. He further explained the people with fixed ideas – including religious fundamentalists and the so-called “intellectual elite” of the world who deny psychical phenomena – are generally not highly evolved beings.  When they transition after death to the astral world, they cling to their old ideas and since they are better able to influence those still in the earth realm than more evolved spirits, progress in evolution is obstructed. 

In his Conclusion, Cornillier recognizes that his book will not appeal to the “scoffers,” as his faith in Reine’s character was such that he “refrained from establishing a so-called scientific control over my medium.”  He points out that scientists of the highest reputations have taken every possible precaution, and yet their skeptical peers have questioned their methods and objectivity while heaping abuse upon them.

I recommend that the reader begin with the Conclusion of the book in order to get a feel for Cornillier’s intelligence, if not brilliance, and his scientific acumen.  Be prepared to be overwhelmed, and if you know someone approaching this life’s end, pass the book on to him or her.  It may very well give the dying person some hope while mitigating fears relative to death.

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.

The Survival of the Soul and Its Evolution After Death by Pierre-Emile Cornillier is available from Amazon

  Next blog post:  Sept. 25.

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Should We offer Religion or “Meaning” in our Classrooms?

Posted on 29 August 2017, 14:17

Should public schools put religion in classrooms?  That was the headline given to a feature editorial page article in my morning paper two weeks ago.  It came from Tribune News Services and involved a pro and con debate between Roger L. Beckett, executive director of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, and Max B. Sawicky, an economist.  While Beckett more or less straddled the fence and focused on the history of religion being taught in the classroom, Sawicky was concerned that God, prayer, and worship would be part of the curriculum, something he, being a non-believer, is totally against. 

As I see it, the issue should not involve religion.  It shouldn’t be religion vs. secularism, or theism vs. atheism, or Church vs. State, as the debate seemed to imply.  Nor should it be about God or gods. The issue is whether our children should be exposed to existential thinking or left without defense to be brainwashed and dumbed down by the entertainment industry, the advertising industry, and our scientific fundamentalists in academia.  If our children are led to believe that life is nothing more than a short march toward an abyss of nothingness, that it has no real meaning or purpose beyond pursuing a materialistic lifestyle, as promoted by the entertainment and advertising industries and academia, they are encouraged to make the most of each day by eating, drinking and being merry without restraint.  That clearly is the way things are going, though not just for the young people but for the majority of people. 

“Celebrity culture plunges us into a moral void,” offers Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner, in his book Empire of Illusion.  “No one has any worth beyond his or her appearance, usefulness, or ability to ‘succeed.’ The highest achievements in a celebrity culture are wealth, sexual conquest, and fame.  It does not matter how these are obtained.  These values, as Sigmund Freud understood, are illusory.  They are hollow.  They leave us chasing vapors.  They urge us toward a life of narcissistic self-absorption.”

Hedges goes on to say that this cult of self has within it the classic traits of psychopaths, including “superficial charm, grandiosity, and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, and manipulation, and the inability to feel remorse or guilt.”

In their book, The Narcissism Epidemic, psychologists Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite various studies indicating that young people today are much more focused on “becoming well off financially” than earlier generations.  In one study, 93 percent of teenage girls said that shopping is their favorite activity.  Can there be any doubt that television and Internet commercials have been the primary instigators in this regard? 
We need to get young people out of this hedonistic carpe diem or “seize the day” mindset that humanists and other non-believers promote as a substitute for seeing this life as part of a much larger life.  We need for them to understand that life is not all about “having fun.”  At the same time, we need to get it across to our politicians and lawmakers that religion, or the “Church,” did not give rise to the search for meaning.  The search for meaning gave rise to them.  To put it another way, separation of Church and State does not mean the State must not have anything to do with a search for meaning in our lives. The same argument applies to the removal of monuments with the Ten Commandments from public places.  That is, the Church did not give us the Ten Commandments; the Ten Commandments gave us religion and the Church.  Just because the Church incorporated them within their teachings does not make them the property of the Church and in conflict with the State’s objectives. 

If the State is concerned with the overall welfare of its citizenry, its first concern should be a foundation of meaning.  This includes looking at the strong evidence supporting the concept that consciousness survives death and that the earthly life is but a preparation for a larger life and involves certain trials and tribulations to help us learn and prepare – evidence coming to us from research in the areas of near-death experiences, spirit communication, deathbed phenomena, and past-life studies.  A life of pure bliss would seemingly accomplish nothing in that regard.  Such evidence comes to us from psychical research, a science, not from religion.  In fact, orthodox religion rejects much of it because it does not completely agree with established dogma and doctrine.

Moreover, believing in an anthropomorphic God or belonging to a religion is not a prerequisite to weighing and evaluating the evidence turned up by some very distinguished scientists and scholars that this life is part of a larger life and it does have meaning and purpose.

Carl Jung, the pioneering Swiss psychiatrist, said that most of his patients were non-believers, those who had lost their faith and did not believe in a larger life.  “They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking,” he wrote.  “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon.  Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.”  Jung added that “a man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it – even if he must confess his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss.  If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears. For that reason the idea of [spiritual] development was always of the highest importance to me.” 

Even Sigmund Freud, who was not spiritually inclined, was concerned that one’s attitude toward death has a bearing on his or her psychological health.  “Is it not for us to confess that in our civilized attitude toward death, we are once more living psychologically beyond our means, and must reform and give truth its due?” he asked. “Would it not be better to give death the place in actuality and in our thoughts which properly belongs to it, and to yield a little more prominence to that unconscious attitude towards death which we have hitherto so carefully repressed?”

It has been suggested that sowing brings greater happiness than reaping, and we have reaped so much that we have become bored and depressed. Renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl referred to it as “mass neurotic syndrome” – the result of an “existential vacuum,” a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness. The more one seeks pleasure, Frankl observed, the more it eludes him. “Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect, or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree in which it is made a goal in itself.”  A human being, he continued, is not one in pursuit of happiness, but one in search of a reason to become happy. Self-actualization, he further opined, is possible only as a side effect of self-transcendence.

To answer the question stated in the first paragraph, no, we don’t need religion to be taught in the public classrooms.  We need Meaning to be taught.  Call it Existentialism 101, Cosmic Consciousness 101, or simply Larger Life 101.  However, we are not going to see that until our leaders get over the idea that meaning, consciousness, survival, and psychical research are all subheadings under religion.

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:  Sept. 11


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After Death Communication: The Book Tests - Some of the Best Evidence

Posted on 14 August 2017, 7:37

Anyone relying on popular Internet references for information on various renowned mediums from the past will likely conclude that they were all a bunch of fakes.  The debunkers have taken control of many of the popular encyclopedic sites and have obviously made it their mission to discredit, disparage, or destroy all mediums.  They make out the researchers who concluded that the mediums were genuine to have been dupes and rely on pseudoskeptics for their biographical sketches of the mediums.

Fortunately, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in England is making an effort to offer the true known facts about mediumship and other psychic phenomena with its Psi Encyclopedia.  I’ve had the opportunity to work on a dozen or more biographies and subjects at this site, including one just recently posted, the “Book Tests.” 

Conducted by Charles Drayton Thomas, (below) a Wesleyan minister and a member of the SPR, the book tests are considered some of the very best evidence for spirit communication.  “The primary purpose of these efforts was said [by my father] to be a demonstration that spirit people were able to do that for which telepathy from human minds could not account, a demonstration calculated to clarify the evidence already existing for the authorship of their communication,” Thomas wrote in 1922.


Thomas was especially interested in the popular theory that the medium was reading the mind of the sitter in providing information.  He said that it was his father, John Thomas, also a Wesleyan minister, who, posthumously, gave him the idea of the book tests.  It was during a sitting with Gladys Osborne Leonard, (below) a renowned British medium, early in 1917, that the father and son on different sides of the veil began collaborating in the experiments.


The senior Thomas, who died in 1903, told his son that the tests had been devised by others in a more advanced sphere than his and the idea passed on to him. At the time, Drayton Thomas (he went by his middle name) had had over 100 sittings with Mrs. Leonard, although later in his career that number exceeded 500.  He mentioned that the tests were secondary to other business which he and his father discussed and that his father continually gave other evidence of his own identity. 

Drayton Thomas would arrange a notebook on a table with a lighted lamp.  Leonard would take a seat several feet from him and after two or three minutes of silence she would go into a trance. Suddenly, in a clear and distinct voice, Feda, Leonard’s spirit control, would take over Leonard’s body and begin using her speech mechanism while relaying messages from the senior Thomas and others in the spirit world.  There was no similarity between Leonard’s voice and that of Feda, who spoke like a young girl.  Moreover, Feda spoke with an accent and had frequent lapses of grammar.

The idea behind the book tests was to communicate information gleaned by the father from a book in the son’s extensive library.  For example, in one of the earliest experiments, the father told the son to go to the lowest shelf and take the sixth book from the left.  On page 149, three-quarters down, he would find a word conveying the meaning of falling back or stumbling.  When the younger Thomas arrived home that evening after his sitting with Mrs. Leonard, he went to the book and place on the page, where he found the words, “…to whom a crucified Messiah was an insuperable stumbling-block.”

The father explained to the son, through Feda, that he was able to get the “appropriate spirit of the passage” much easier than he could the actual words. However, over a period of 18 months experimentation, he found himself able to pick up more and more words and numbers, gradually shifting from “sensing” to “clairvoyance.”  It was made abundantly clear by the father that he was experimenting on his side as much as his son was on the material side.  The debunkers don’t seem to have the ability to grasp all that, however, If the wording was not exact, it had to be, in their limited minds, fraudulent.

It was certain that Mrs. Leonard had never visited Thomas’ house and knew nothing of the library of books in it.  Realizing, however, that his subconscious might somehow have recorded such detailed information in the book when he read it years before as well as the exact location of the book in his library, Thomas decided to experiment with books in a friend’s house.  He informed his father of the plan so that the father knew where to search. In one of the tests there, Feda told Thomas that on page 2 of the second book from the right on a particular shelf, he would find a reference to sea or ocean.  She added that the discarnate Thomas was not sure which, because he got the idea and not the words.  When Drayton Thomas pulled the book from the shelf of his friend’s house, he read, “A first-rate seaman, grown old between sky and ocean.”

In another experiment, Drayton Thomas was told to look at page 9 where he would find a reference to changing of colors.  Upon opening this book, Thomas found, “Along the northern horizon the sky suddenly changes from light blue to a dark lead colour.”  In still another test at his home, Feda told Drayton Thomas to go to a book at a certain point on a shelf and he would find words looking like “A-sh-ill-ee” on the cover.  Feda explained that she was giving the sound but not the correct spelling.  When Thomas arrived home, he went to the exact spot indicated by Feda and found a book authored by Mrs. Ashley Carus-Wilson.

In yet another test, Thomas was first reminded by Feda of some strange knockings in his room recently and then was directed to the top of page 17 of a book on the second shelf, fifth from the left end.  Thomas found the book to be a volume of Shakespeare and the words, “I will not answer thee with words, but blows.”

Over a period of about two years, the father and son researchers carried out 348 tests.  Of those, 242 were deemed good, 46 indefinite, and 60 failures.  The discarnate Thomas explained the failures as his inability to get the idea through the mind of the medium or the medium’s mind somehow distorting the message.  However, if you check the references by the debunkers, all you’ll read about is the failures or the so-called researchers who didn’t get results as good as Thomas did.  For more on the book tests, go to

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:  August 28.


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NDE researcher sees progress in overcoming adversity

Posted on 31 July 2017, 7:02

In her latest book, A Manual for Developing Humans, P. M. H. Atwater, one of the pioneering researchers of the near-death experience, points out that life is “inherently paradoxical.”  She defines paradox as “parallel principles that have crossed over.” For example, “the only way you can keep love is to give it away.”  The one in her book that particularly jumped out at me is “the smarter we get, the dumber we are becoming.”

Most people view death as a very negative experience, but as Atwater found out, there’s a paradox here, too, since her three “deaths” served her in a very positive way.  They awakened her to a new reality.  “Once back after my encounters with death, I continued to operate from ‘realms of radiance’ to the extent that everyday events and decisions lost significance,” she explains early in the book.  “The wisdom I returned with became more as stumbling blocks than guideposts (another paradox) until I regained my ability to discern differences – the contrast between ‘here’ and ‘there’ – between a practical application in the physical world and what I knew to be true in the greater worlds of spirit.”

Atwater does not go into much detail about her three near-death experiences during the early months of 1977, the year she turned 40, as she told about those in her 1998 book, Coming Back to Life.  This latest book touches upon all the things she was awakened to during her NDEs and in the 40 years of research that followed.  It seemingly covers every conceivable subject relating to the human experience – intelligence, intuition, dreams, auras, synchronicity, health, nutrition, emotions, fears, pain, parenting, sex, soul mates, science, racism, terrorism, prophesies, planets,  feminism, justice, politics, economics, messiahs, catastrophes, war, solar cycles, free will, death, enlightenment, quantum medicine, orgone energy, you-name-it and Atwater has some very interesting and intriguing ideas and suggestions about it. 

As Atwater told me in an email exchange, her intent in writing the book was to cover all the basics for being/becoming fully human. “Being more spiritual is backwards thinking,” she wrote. “Being all that you were born to be is the real goal in life, as it includes spirituality along with everything else.  If we are fully ourselves, fully human, quite literally we are gods in the making.”  She added that just the day before sending the email, a man who had been told by his doctor that he would never walk again because of a serious leg condition, contacted her and told her that, as a result of reading her manual, rather “using” her manual, not just reading it, he has thrown away his crutches and canes and is now walking perfectly.  She was also recently contacted by a therapist who told her that he is using her manual techniques throughout his practice. 

“The manual is not channeled, doesn’t come from any entity, angel, or spirit-type being,” she explained. “It comes from my third near-death experience and what I called ‘The Voice Like None Other.’ No voice really.  What seemed as if ‘sound’ later turned out to be the shimmer of The Void, entwined within the 80 years I spent testing existence itself.”

Much of the manual has to do with change.  “Sweeping changes are already flooding the earth plane and they will increase,” she continued. “The United States, in its astrological birth chart, has a Pluto return set to occur in 2022.  That ushers in a time of extremes – great strides forward along with what could be equally great disasters.  I tell everyone to expect a four-year span of this patterning – from 2020 through 2024.  My manual is made to order for this, because by showing people how to test themselves, prove to themselves how powerful and creative they are, they can then navigate changing times in a positive manner.”

Dr. Atwater was quick to remind me that there is a paradox involved with all change, so that the “bad” may be for our betterment, while the “good” may really be to our detriment, at least in the short run.  She cautions against “either/or judgment” and is convinced that there is no such thing as good and evil, not as we are taught.  She mentioned Ireland’s new prime minister, Leo Varadkar.  “He represents a break from the past.  He’s center-right who embraces and works with center-left.  In a land that is staunchly Catholic, he is the son of a doctor who emigrated from Mumbai and a nurse from southeastern Ireland.  He is gay, a man who has known since childhood he wanted to be a politician, and he meets everyone at their level – and not just in meeting rooms filled with cameras.  Ireland today is flourishing because of his new kind of leadership, and in ways no one saw coming.  The model he represents, a mixture of races, religions, sexual and political points of view, is beginning to emerge as a global phenomenon that crosses all borders and all mindsets.”

Whether it is paradoxical or not, I am not sure, but Atwater cites a number of seemingly contradictory changes among today’s children.  She mentions that one-third of those children throughout the world who take the standard IQ test now score in the genius range of 150-160, most without genetic markers to account for this.  However, there have been equal jumps in learning disorders.  Moreover, one-third of young people today have little or no sense of living a full life and two-thirds have no intention of ever marrying, going to college, or becoming parents.  One-third are amoral, with many of them too violent to handle.  “These percentages wiggle around somewhat, depending on what source you check,” she explained. “Yet, figures overall have remained fairly close to those I have given, for the last 15 years or so.  This is impossible, clearly impossible, but it is happening consistently.”

As Atwater sees it, many of today’s young people are suffering emotionally due to difficulties in distinguishing between the real world and what they perceive from social media, the entertainment industry, and the advertising industry. “We need to at least acknowledge that there is something going on within the human family that is beyond our present understanding,” she continued, suggesting that it is part of a rhythm, plan, perhaps even a divine plan, God.  “If we can recognize the rhythms here, the patterns of change, then innovation can replace fear.” 

I asked Atwater if she had any thoughts about the tattoo craze among young people.  She responded that she hadn’t given that much thought, “except the obvious signs that humankind is seeking to be more tribal and sincerely desirous of being recognized as part of a chosen mindset, or pattern of mind.”  She further theorized that tattoos are a visual affirmation of one having chosen his or her family, how each individual wants to feel, to respond to life, to be recognized above and beyond whatever seems “fated” from the bloodlines of birth.

I asked her what she would do if she could go back in time to her younger years with what she has learned over the past 40 years.  “I’d go back to my childhood and forgive my mother and myself,” she responded.  “Until we can face our youngest years, all the pain, all the joy, all the mystery, all the confusion, we’re handicapping ourselves [if we hold on to it]. Progress means nothing if it’s hollow, and hollow it is until we can forgive what seemed limiting.  Life reflects thought.  Our ability to love and to forgive marks the difference between thoughts around and within us and what actually has value.”

Back to those “sweeping changes” that Atwater sees from 2020 through 2024, I sensed something of a doomsday scenario from what she set forth in her manual and asked her what she would tell young people now about raising a family, pursuing goals, etc.  “I cannot imagine any reason not to love, dream, plan, try, look ahead,” she replied.  “Knowing about where we are in the grand cycle of time, I believe makes a difference in our sanity, in understanding our place in the world and what’s going on around us.  Like it or not, our world, our planet, is experiencing what is called ‘The Great Shifting’ or ‘The Turning of the Cosmic Clock.’  This massive changeover in energy flow happens every 25,920 years. On top of that, two great ages of time are now on top of each other: The Age of Pisces and The Age of Aquarius.  This ‘overlap’ is crazy in how ideas clash and in how we are called upon to make decisions and take action in ways which are unprecedented.  No matter how wild or unstable things seem, there really is progress; we are moving forward and upward in the Grand Cycles of Time.” 

Atwater’s son once asked her how he is supposed to recognize truth.  Her reply: “When everyone agrees with each other, and there is no dissent, run for the nearest door and get out.  All you have found is illusion.  But when you find paradox of unity in opposition, stay as long as you can and learn as much as you can.  You have found truth.”  Her manual ends with a discussion of life’s greatest paradox, one involving love.

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:  August 14

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Three Amazing English Medium Healers

Posted on 17 July 2017, 6:58

By David Stang

Preface: Outside of my blog post of December 12, 2011 about John of God. I have woefully neglected the subject of healing mediums.  My good friend David Stang offered to help me catch up on this subject by writing this blog.  Dave is a retired Washington, D.C. lawyer.  Also, Keith Parsons, another friend, just happened to post a you-tube dealing with the healing mediumship of George Chapman. It can be viewed on Youtube and you can read about Chapman in “Surgeon from Another World,” which has been published by White Crow Books.  – Michael Tymn

We begin with Mac and Terri McKean, both of whom I got to know in England during the summer of 2009. Mac was then 91 years old and his wife Terri was 83. Mac at that time was spending nearly 10 hours a day doing spiritual healing and he used his dowsing pendulum to assist him. Terri was then a trance medium through whom many a disincarnate being or Ascended Master has found a temporary earthly opportunity to use her voice box in order to convey messages about happenings and insights originating in the spirit realm.

Terri said that while traveling in Beijing with her husband some years ago she heard a spirit voice talking to her and he indicated that he would be working with her from then on. She later learned the voice belonged to an Ascended Master who directed Terri to follow the Spirit Path near the cemetery in Beijing where the emperors of China were buried. At the juncture of where the Spirit Path met the cemetery her Ascended Master then declared that he had been assigned to look after Terri. She said that ever since when he speaks to her he refers to Terri as “my child.”

Terri informed me that “as a child I used to see spirit beings and living shadows but never said anything about what I saw and this ability went away in my early teens, but in my early 50s when I met Mac I’d see an event take place in my mind and then know it would happen. I asked myself how did I know that event was going to happen. When I put this question to Mac he would take my hands in his and hold them saying, ‘Let’s see what we can do together.’ When he took my hands I felt a big force come into the room then it whooshed right out straight through the window into the sky and after that I became much more aware of spirit activities and could again see spirit beings.”

At this point in the conversation Mac intervened: “When Terri goes into a deep trance she is taken over completely by her spirit guides and allows herself to be used by them. Trance mediums don’t usually know what happens when they are in trance. If a person goes into a deep trance and afterwards doesn’t recall what she said this is a clear indication that she realized only what the spirit wanted her to remember to say without interfering with the spirit’s thoughts by injecting other thoughts that came out of her own mind. Some mediums go into a light trance and do not only remember what they are saying. But the danger here is that they’re getting the thoughts of their own minds mixed up with what the spirit being is communicating. Terri’s ascended Master is her control, but he asks for permission from Terri before he speaks through her with information for me.”

I asked Terri the name of her spirit guide and what he looks like. She answered, “His name is Baylam and he is about seven-feet tall and black as ebony, yet gentle as a lamb.” She added that he usually visibly appears when they are in danger and he comes to help protect them. For example, Terri told of the time when she and Mac were working together to get rid of a witch’s coven she said as at that moment in time she was standing next to the window and Mac was working with his pendulum.  “I felt that I was being drawn toward a well and Baylam suddenly appeared and gently pushed me away from the well. There was no cover over the well so it would have been easy to fall into the well. It so happened that this particular well was the entrance to the witch’s coven that Mac was trying to clear.”

I then asked Mac how he relates to Baylam. Mac said “I ask him questions which call for a yes or no answer and if it’s yes Baylam gives me the yes signal and if it was no he gives me the no signal. Also he gives me a “maybe” or “so-so” signal which means that the answer in yes or no terms is unclear. I can tell by the speed, direction and intensity of the pendulum’s motion how emphatic Baylam’s answer is.  Baylam also works mind-to-mind and lets me know what I need to learn.

Mac emphatically insisted that he does not do any healing at all and that it is Baylam who does all the healing. “When I ask Baylam to do the healing my pendulum will usually start swinging and that lets me know what Baylam has started work on healing my patient. Also, I work mind-to-mind with Baylam on what is needed to heal the patient and any special action that is required. Often Terri and I work together in healing a patient and if there is some doubt as to what is wrong with the patient or what needs to be done to help the patient she will ask Baylam for answers just as I ask him.”

Terri and Mac died a few years ago.  They were good friends of Madge Rowe, another English medium who is also a spiritual healer.  It was she who first introduced me to Mack and Terri. Several years earlier I had been introduced to Madge by another English spiritualist healer. Madge, like Terri and Mac, exhibits extraordinary mediumistic skills. She not only worked on my late wife Sarah, but also on two women friends of Sarah’s who had been stricken with breast cancer. Madge was able to help extend their lives for several years. She also heals her clients’ sick pets and is able to locate and determine the physical condition of lost dogs and cats. A few years ago Madge was able to locate the lost dog of Susan Myatt, one of Sarah’s nurses and predict the exact date on which the dog and Susan would be reunited.

Madge’s late husband Reginald was also a spiritual healer and spiritualist. According to Madge, since his death in 1988, he has been a Psychopomp whose function is to escort recently deceased souls from the Earth plane to the spirit realm. His specialty, Madge said, is to help the disincarnate spirits of persons who have met sudden and shocking deaths often as a result of fatal accidents.  Reginald indicated to Madge telepathically that such persons are often unaware that they have died and believe they are still living. Madge explained that Reginald’s function has been to tactfully inform these new disincarnate beings that they are now living in spirit form only and then, having persuaded them of the reality of their disincarnate status, to escort them to facilities in the spirit world where they might stay and receive whatever additional attention they require until they are able to adjust to their afterlife existence.

Madge, like a multitude of other spiritual healers – whether they practice “hands-on” or “distant” healing – prays to her angels and spirit guides to assist and empower her. Madge believes that when she detects areas of her patient’s body needing healing energy that this awareness is amplified by the intervention of her angel or spirit guide. She has a deep confidence that her angel not only knows in advance what is the cause of the patient’s illness, but also where healing energy should be directed to help cure it. Additionally Madge’s angel or spirit guide will inform Madge if there are problems Madge did not discover during her scanning of the patient, such as an underlying emotional problem or block. They will give advice telepathically on herbal supplements or other remedies that can assist in the patient’s healing.

Until a couple of years ago when Madge was treating a patient whom she sensed was demonically possessed she would contact by telephone Mack and Terri McKean to solicit their assistance. She told me that they were powerful exorcists. To this day when Madge is working on a patient filled with dark energy she summons Mack who shows up in spirit form to continue working with her. Madge told me, “Each time Mack comes to assist me I ask him to lovingly take the demon to the Light.” Sometimes if the demon seems to be nearly overwhelmingly resistant Madge prayerfully contacts the Archangel Michael and asks him to come and exorcise the demon.

Similarly, when she feels she needs a powerful energy boost to help heal a chronically ill patient, who is not possessed, she contacts the Archangel Rafael, who, she tells me, is “quite remarkable, very powerful, always kind, responsive, helpful, encouraging and consistently reliable. He never lets you down.”

Sometimes when Madge is feeling exhausted, distraught or burdened with an illness of her own one of her favorite spirit guides, an Arab named Acefi, shows up literally riding on his big white horse.  Madge said that Acefi has remarkable brown eyes. He never gets off his horse but soon after arriving he sends Madge healing energy. When he does her revival occurs instantly. She finds his presence always uplifting and she can feel the power of his love for her and can hear his encouraging tone of voice.

Acefi once informed Madge that he and she had worked together during their past seven lifetimes, before he became a spirit guide. In the first lifetime they came to know one another many centuries ago. Madge lived with her father in Cornwall, located in Southwest Britain. One day two Arabs came and kidnapped her and took her back to Arabia as a slave. When they returned to Acefi’s home she was branded on her right arm.  Gradually Acefi became very fond of his slave, Madge, and he impregnated her. Acefi’s mother disapproved of her son Acefi’s affection for Madge so one time when Acefi was traveling away from home she sold Madge who never thereafter in that lifetime saw Acefi again.  Sadly, she died a few months later during childbirth. In her present life, Madge has had a dark mark on her right arm where she had lifetimes before been branded. Her husband Reginald in this life time, who like Madge, is quite psychic, once noticed that birthmark and informed Madge that it was a brand mark from a prior lifetime when she was a slave.

Terri, Mac and Madge are three stellar examples of the continuing powers of mediums to do good by healing others. Were it not for my late wife Sarah introducing me to spiritual healing and a number of spiritual healers and creating within me a burning curiosity to learn more about that sacred art and the altered state of consciousness that seems endemic to such healers I would have never met Terri and Mac McKean and Madge Rowe.  It has been indeed a very real privilege for me to have met these three people who never held themselves out as being especially gifted or possessing a consciousness capable of communicating with spirit beings ranging from Archangels to Ascended Masters to the disincarnate spirits of family and friends.

Even though the stories I’ve mentioned are anecdotal, the three people in the stories are representative of a breed of sacred mediums who instead of parading their talents on a stage have chosen to remain anonymous because they believe that their gifts are of divine origin, and that it is predominantly the spirit beings they are in touch with who are the power behind the good works they regularly perform out of humility and unconditional love. Ironically, they deliberately “hide their light under a bushel” and avoid the temptation to make a spectacle out of themselves because they believe they have been called to serve and not to become self-important exhibitionists seeking glory.

Next blog post: July 31

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Was Einstein an Atheist?

Posted on 03 July 2017, 8:40

The recent National Geographic television series, Genius, about the life of Albert Einstein, prompted me to do a little research on the great scientist’s beliefs about God and the afterlife.  Over the years, I had read somewhat conflicting statements by him and was never quite sure whether he was a hard-core atheist or an agnostic.  In the eight-part television series, Einstein mentioned God five or six times, leaving me to wonder whether this was fact or the creation of the screenwriters. 

According to various Internet sources, Einstein (below) declared himself an “agnostic.”  However, he definitely did not believe in an anthropomorphic (humanlike) god or a personal one.  His god was more of the cosmic consciousness type, a very abstract one.  “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one,” he wrote in a 1949 letter to a friend.  “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”


According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Einstein viewed fanatical atheists as being “like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’ – cannot hear the music of the spheres.”  Moreover, he did not oppose a belief in a personal God “as such a belief seems to me preferable to the lack of any transcendental outlook.”

As for an afterlife, Einstein was more definite, saying he did not believe in the immortality of the individual. “An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise,” he is quoted, seemingly limiting his view of the afterlife to that of Judaism and other orthodox religions. He considered belief in an afterlife as “childish.”

Einstein seems to have been especially turned off to the idea of an afterlife by the angry God of the Hebrew Bible and the idea of an everlasting reward or punishment.  In my brief research, I did not come upon anything indicating that Einstein was aware of the psychical research carried out by some of his peers in physics, such Sir William Crookes, Sir William Barrett, and Sir Oliver Lodge, or by biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution.  All of those esteemed scientists came to recognize a different kind of afterlife, one of spiritual evolution.  Perhaps such an afterlife would have better appealed to Professor Einstein.

It was interesting to note in the television series that Crookes (below) was depicted giving a talk to an august body of scientists, including Einstein, about the threat of famine in Europe if countries did not add nitrogen to the soil, a development that would soon take place.  As I understand it, Crookes’s research in the area of radiation established some foundation for later discoveries by Wilhelm Roentgen (X-ray) and Einstein (general relativity).


Crookes was one of the first scientists to study mediumship, closely observing the phenomena of mediums D. D. Home and Florence Cook under strictly controlled conditions. There was no doubt in his mind that he had witnessed such phenomena as levitations, apports, and materializations.  However, most of his peers concluded that he had become too friendly with Home and that he had had a romantic interest in Cook, thereby affecting his objectivity and allowing him to be duped. It made no difference to them that Wallace and other respected men of science witnessed the same phenomena under lighted conditions in Crookes’s home, it all defied science and was unacceptable.  “It argues ill for the boasted freedom of opinion among scientific men, that they have so long refused to institute a scientific investigation into the existence and nature of facts asserted by so many competent and credible witnesses, and which they are freely invited to examine when and where they please,” Crookes addressed the many scientists who refused to investigate the phenomena.  “For my own part, I too much value the pursuit of truth, and the discovery of any new fact in nature, to avoid inquiry because it appears to clash with prevailing opinions.” 

Crookes claimed that the phenomena he had observed over some three years of study “point to the existence of another order of human life continuous with this, and demonstrate the possibility in certain circumstances of communication between this world and the next.”
If the television screenwriters are to be believed, famed Russian Leo Tolstoy (below) was Einstein’s favorite author. In one scene, he is shown reading Tolstoy to his young son.  In his book, A Confession, Tolstoy tells of the despair he began to feel as he approached his fiftieth birthday. “I often asked myself, if such a state of utter despair could be, what man was born to,” he wrote. “I sought an explanation of the questions, which tormented me in every branch of human knowledge; I sought that explanation painfully and long, not out of mere curiosity, not apathetically, but obstinately day and night; I sought it as a perishing man seeks safety, and I found nothing.  My search not only failed, but I convinced myself that all those who had searched like myself had failed also, and come like me to the despairing conviction that the only absolute knowledge man can possess is this – that life is without meaning.”


In spite of his success as an author, his 1860 book War and Peace widely ranked as one of the greatest books ever, Tolstoy did not find the usual escape or repression methods available to most people satisfactory, and considered suicide.  “Life cannot be measured by what we possess,” he further wrote of his struggle.  “If we think so, we only delude ourselves…. Is there any meaning in life which can overcome the inevitable death awaiting me?”

Tolstoy looked to science but found no answers. “The problem of exact science is the succession of cause and effect in material phenomena,” he stated. “If exact science raises the question of finite cause, it stumbles against an absurdity…. Experimental science gives positive results, and shows the grandeur of man’s intellect, only when it does not inquire into finite causes; while, on the contrary, theoretical science only shows the greatness of man’s mental powers, is only a science at all, when it gets rid altogether of the succession of phenomena, and looks upon man only in relation to finite causes.”  He went on to say that he saw metaphysics as the most important science of all and that if man is to overcome his despair he must believe in the infinite.  “Without faith,” he asserted, “there is no life.”

If the picture painted of Einstein by the screenwriters is any indication, he was not a particularly happy man in his everyday living. He may not have experienced the despair of Tolstoy, at least in his most productive years, as he was able to find fulfilment and escape in his search for scientific truths.  But he seems to have lived most of his life in a state of melancholy.  One senses that he sometimes, especially in his declining years, wondered to what extent his scientific discoveries would contribute to the overall good and to which generation full fruition. While Tolstoy was able to overcome his despair by discovering in his later years an unorthodox form of Christianity, Einstein persisted in his unhappy march toward an abyss of nothingness, claiming that one life was enough for him.  Whether that claim was out of sincere courage, pure indifference or mere bravado must remain unanswered in this realm of existence.

Another person portrayed in the television series was the pioneering psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. Einstein called upon Jung to help his son overcome some mental problems.  Perhaps Einstein should have given more heed to Jung’s words in his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul:  “As a physician I am convinced that it is hygienic – if I may use the word – to discover in death a goal towards which one can strive; and that shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose.  I therefore consider the religious teaching of a life hereafter consonant with the standpoint of psychic hygiene. When I live in a house which I know will fall about my head within the next two weeks, all my vital functions will be impaired by this thought; but if on the contrary I feel myself to be safe, I can dwell there in a normal and comfortable way.” 

Tolstoy might have responded to Einstein’s comment that belief in an afterlife is “childish” by telling him that you don’t have to be a genius to understand it.  In fact, Tolstoy begins one of his books with the words of Jesus, as quoted in Matthew xviii, 3:  “Except ye ...become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

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:  July 17


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Author-Publisher Tells of Unexplained Transformation

Posted on 19 June 2017, 6:31

In his recently released book, A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, Jon Beecher, (below) who uses the pen name J. R. Archer, has Rosie, an orphaned mongrel, telepathically explain to Seamus McGarry, a dying quadriplegic, that he has nothing to worry about, that death is just consciousness separating from the body.  When Seamus telepathically asks Rosie how she, being just a dog, can know so much, Rosie tells him that she comes from a higher vibration and that her primary purpose is to provide service. 


While Seamus struggles with just existing and dying, millionaire William Roper’s struggle is in becoming “one with his toys.”  That is, until a homeless man and a mongrel named Rags comes into his life.  Dolores Fannon, a recovering alcoholic, copes with everyday trials and tribulations, while Milo McGarry, having been sober for more than 20 years, is struggling to keep the dog shelter he works at from closure. The shelter, being the venue that brings dogs together, also provides the opportunity for the dogs to help unwitting humans in need. 

Seemingly common to the various characters in Beecher’s book is an existential vacuum, a feeling of emptiness, meaninglessness, and hopelessness that pervades so many immersed in the mundane and slaves to materialism.  At some point in the pursuit of comfort, pleasure, and luxury, they lose sight of the “larger life.” They lose their instincts, intuitiveness and spiritual awareness.  However, our canine friends, not being consumed with such materialistic pursuits, have been able to retain these qualities.

This “larger life” is a subject that has captivated Beecher since he had what might be called a near-death experience (NDE) some 17 years ago.  It wasn’t one of those NDEs in which the experiencer floats above his body and watches people attempt to revive him, or tells of meeting deceased relatives and seeing every moment of his life flash before him.  If he did have those experiences, he doesn’t remember them.  In fact, Beecher was given no indication that he was near death.  “I fell over while I was sleepwalking and landed on my face,” he recalls the accident. “I was unconscious.  I almost knocked my front teeth out, my lip was severed and required 30 stitches, and my jaw was broken on both sides and had to be wired up for six weeks. You could just say that I went to bed and woke up on the floor on the other side of the room.” 

While Beecher, a 60-year-old resident of Guildford, England, has none of the usual NDEr recollections, he has experienced something that many other NDErs have reported – a complete change in his outlook on life.  “It wasn’t so much that I became interested in spirituality as one might become interested in a hobby,” he explains.  “Before the accident I was an atheist and a materialist. I had no belief or interest in anything to do with life after death, the paranormal, or religion.  During the next couple of years I felt very different about life. I can’t say prior to the accident I had a fear of death; like most people of that age I never really thought about it in depth. But now I had no fear of death; I’ll go further; I embraced it, not in any morbid way but because now I understood, or at least, came to believe that death is nothing more than a transition from one state to another. I also felt somehow connected, as if I had been plugged into a greater reality. I’ve had plenty of time to think about it and even now I can’t explain adequately how I felt then and how I feel now.”

At the time of the accident, Beecher was CEO of a London-based independent record company. “Within a year or so of the accident, the music business, which had been my life, now felt trivial and unimportant, as did all the Porsches, big houses, expensive clothes, and all the other material stuff I had deemed important and accumulated over the years,” he muses. “It was actually quite depressing at the time because I hadn’t joined the dots and understood that the way I was feeling was connected to the head trauma.  At one point I even thought I was having a breakdown.”

Upon leaving the music business, Beecher founded White Crow Books, which to date has published 165 books, all having spirituality as a central theme.  Most of the books have been republications of old books that Beecher thought should be brought back to life and made available to people today, but 40 of them, including A Dog’s View, are fresh from the writers’ fingers. 

Beecher began noticing the changes in his outlook within a few weeks of the accident. He could not remember dreaming before the accident, but now he was dreaming most nights and remembering them.  “I liked the dreams,” he says. “They were a novelty for me and I wrote them all down. Because I was journaling, I noticed after a while that some of them were precognitive — something, which I thought was impossible.”

Prior to the accident, Beecher enjoyed shooting.  “I used to shoot game every winter during the season, and clays during the rest of the year,” he continues the story. “Two months after the accident my friend called me because we had some shooting days coming up that we’d booked the previous year. I told him I couldn’t go because there was no way I could shoot an animal or even kill a fly anymore. I remember he was puzzled and he said to me, ‘You’ve been killing them for years, what’s changed?’  It was a good question and one I couldn’t easily answer at that time. All I knew was there was no way I would shoot an animal. At the time I didn’t connect this new feeling or the dreams to the head trauma. Since that time I’ve never had the inclination to pick up a gun.”

In 2002, Beecher was journaling and writing about an old friend named Brian, who had died in his house in 1988 from a head trauma.  “I was writing about how if I’d have made a different decision that day, such as taking him to hospital, he might be alive now.  It had been a while since I’d thought about him.”  Beecher then went into the kitchen to make some toast.  When he plugged the toaster in, he blew a fuse and knocked out the kitchen wiring. Nothing more was thought of this until a few days later when his sister, Nicky, called to tell him that she had recently become reacquainted with an old school friend called Johnny and his wife, Michelle (a pseudonym for privacy purposes).  Nicky insisted that Michelle wanted to talk with her brother.  While Beecher found it a very strange request, especially since he did not know Johnny or Michelle, he made the call.  Michelle told him that her grandfather had recently died and she had been to see a medium as a result.  “As I was listening I was wondering what my sister had got me into,” Beecher says. “As I said earlier, I had no interest or belief in anything like that back then.”

Michelle told him that after receiving some evidential communication from her grandfather, someone named Brian came through, saying he had a message for Jon.  While Michelle had never heard of Brian, she thought the Jon being referred to might be her husband, Johnny, and so she took the information. When she got home and started relating the message to Johnny, he interrupted her and said he didn’t think the message was for him.  However, he recalled that his friend Nicky had a brother called Jon and that he had a friend named Brian who had died in his house.

The medium told Michelle that Brian was tall and blonde (correct), that he sold jewelry, (also correct) and that the message was that Brian knew Jon had been thinking about him during the past few days (correct) and that he shouldn’t worry about what happened because although his death looked like an accident, it was his time to leave.  “The conversation went on for a while, and at the end she said the medium also told her there was a problem with the kitchen electrics,” Beecher adds. “Michelle said she was so convinced she called an electrician who went to her home but found nothing wrong. I asked her when she had visited the medium and I told her my kitchen electrics had blown a few days later.”

Beecher couldn’t quite believe what he had just heard, but he was certain that his sister was not into such pranks and was even more certain that his sister knew nothing about his thinking and writing about Brian that week or the electrical problem he had experienced.  In the mean time, he was still trying to understand why he felt so different about everything and started reading life after death literature, including the books of Arthur Findlay and some skeptical books, such as James Randi’s Flim Flam. “I came across an article by Kenneth Ring about people who had had near-death experiences. The article listed a number of after-effects NDEers typically experience and I realized I could tick every one. I came to the conclusion I’d had an NDE but I have no memory of it. I didn’t feel close to death although I was told by the doctor that given the force needed to do the damage I’d done to my face, I was lucky to be alive.”

In 2003, a little over two years after the accident, Beecher decided to find a medium.  He went to the Arthur Findlay College website and saw a listing for one not far from where he lived.  He recalls her name as Brenda.  “On the day of the sitting I wasn’t hoping any particular person would come through, I was just curious to see what would happen,” he relates. “We sat for a few minutes and she told me my father was there, and my uncle on my mother’s side. She said my father’s energy was strong and suggested we should concentrate on him.

Brenda said, “You didn’t live with him when you were growing up.”  She went on to describe what he looked like, his mannerisms, what sort of man he was.  “That meant nothing to me, because my mother and father had separated when I was two years old.  I grew up with my stepfather and I didn’t meet my father until I was an adult.  I met him four times and two of those were just before he died in 2001.”

Beecher vividly recalls that Brenda then said, “He wants to show you something so you’ll know it’s him,” and with that she held her hand out and said that he had put a pigeon in her hand. “That was a big moment for me, because the only memory I had of my father was pigeons, and at his funeral I met my uncle (father’s brother) for the first time. During our conversation, the uncle told me that he and my father used to raise and race pigeons, and there was a pigeon loft in the back garden of the house I lived in as a two-year-old.”

“I couldn’t see how she could possibly know any of this by cold reading or any other materialist explanation,” Beecher continues.  “Up to that point, I’d felt the accident and my subsequent change in worldview had been thrust upon me, but now I decided it was all part of some plan, and that was fine.”

Within the next few years, Beecher got divorced, left his business, became a vegetarian, did voluntary work, stopped buying sport cars, bought a Bible, and met with mediums, remote viewers, priests, parapsychologists, and others associated with spirituality and the paranormal. “People who report having near-death experiences or spiritually transformative events often claim they ‘know’ we don’t really die, and they know this and that. I understand exactly how they feel. I know what I know. That said, my logical brain tells me psychiatric hospitals are full of people who think they know things the rest of us don’t, but nevertheless, I have that knowing. Maybe that’s what faith is. It’s hard to explain.”

Two of the mediums he visited told him that they saw him publishing books about spirituality and life after death, which he had never considered at the time, and one day he woke up with the name “White Crow Books” in his head and went from there.

A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death was inspired by taking care of his parents’ two dogs after they both had strokes and were unable to take care of them. “I was walking the dogs on the beach during March 2016, and at a certain moment a story came into my mind — a story about dogs knowing more than we think they know, and acting as guides, helping humans move toward a state of unconditional love.  A scene came into my mind of a man jumping from a parking lot structure.  Before that moment I’d never had any inclination or desire to write a story — not ever, but I went home and wrote down that scene. The following day I took the dogs to the beach again and another scene came to mind and I went home and wrote it down. This went on for eleven weeks and by then I had the first draft of a story. No one was more surprised than me.”

As for his pen name, J. R. Archer, Beecher explains that Archer is his birth name, and while his father and grandparents were not in his life while they were alive, they’ve helped him enormously since they “died.”  The pen name is to honor them.  He cites a reading he had with a medium from Belgium named Isabelle Duchene a few years ago.  Isabelle told him that she had his “father’s father here,” and he was telling her that he was very interested in Jon’s work and what he was doing.  It was somewhat surprising to Beecher as he had never known his paternal grandparents and they had passed away many years before. He told her that he didn’t even know their names. Within a few minutes, the medium gave him the names Edward and Maria.  Later that day, Beecher checked with a younger half-brother who confirmed that these were the names of his grandparents.  “A few people have said they are common names and it may have been a lucky guess,” he muses. “One name might be a lucky guess, but getting both names was remarkable, especially when you consider I didn’t know their names.”

On another occasion, Isabelle told him his mother’s mother was there, and said she was with her sister Louisa and someone named Bill.  The message from Louisa via the medium claimed Jon’s mother was feeling very negative at that time and not revealing why, adding, “She must have the eye test.”  Beecher was unaware that his maternal grandmother had a sister named Louisa, but, in checking with his mother, found out that the sister’s name was Louisa and that the grandmother’s brother was named Bill. “The suggestion that my mother was feeling very negative didn’t make sense to me because my mother is a very positive person and she hadn’t ever mentioned having any eye problems, but when I contacted her later that day she confessed that some months before she had been diagnosed with cataracts, a condition later requiring surgery but before it could happen she needed to have an eye test,” Beecher recalls.  “She hadn’t told anyone, including my stepfather, about the problem, nor had she had the eye test, because she was afraid to have the surgery.”

When asked if those experiences and a number of others too detailed to go into here have given him a belief in God and an afterlife, Beecher responds, paraphrasing the eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “I don’t need to believe, I know.”

A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death by J. R. Archer is available now from Amazon and other booksellers..

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.



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Nobel Prize Winner Witnessed Materializations

Posted on 05 June 2017, 8:20

Winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Dr. Charles Richet (1850-1935) was a physiologist, chemist, bacteriologist, pathologist, psychologist, aviation pioneer, poet, novelist, editor, author, and psychical researcher.  After receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1869 and his Doctor of Science in 1878, he (below) served as professor of physiology at the medical school of the University of Paris for 38 years.


Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substance.  He also contributed much to research on the nervous system, anesthesia, serum therapy, and neuro-muscular stimuli.  He served as editor of the Revue Scientifique for 24 years and contributed to many other scientific publications.
After attending experiments in Milan with medium Eusapia Palladino (below) in 1884, Richet began taking an active interest in psychical research.  In addition to Palladino, he studied Marthe Bèraud, William Eglinton, Stephan Ossowiecki, Elisabeth D’Esperance, and others.  He served as president of the Society for Psychical Research of London in 1905.


While clearly accepting the reality of mediumship and other psychic phenomena, Richet remained skeptical as to whether the evidence suggested spirits of the dead. “I oppose it (spirit hypothesis) half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory,” he wrote, no doubt concerned about sanctions by his peers.  Publicly, he leaned toward a physiological explanation, but privately, at least in his later years, he seems to have accepted the spirit hypothesis as the best explanation.   
This “interview” is based primarily on Richet’s 1923 book, Thirty Years of Psychical Research.  Except for word in brackets, inserted to provide a transition or flow, the words are his.  The questions have been tailored to fit the answers.  (For more about Richet and physical mediumship, see Keith Parson’s recently released documentary, Can Spirits Materialise?

Professor Richet, your book is dedicated to Sir William Crookes and Frederic W. H. Myers.  I gather, however, that when Sir William was reporting on his research with mediums D. D. Home and Florence Cook back during the early 1870s, you did not have a particularly high opinion of him.

“[True], the idolatry of current ideas was so dominant at that time that no pains were taken either to verify or to refute Crookes’s statements.  Men were content to ridicule them, and I avow with shame that I was among the willfully blind.  Instead of admiring the heroism of a recognized man of science who dare then in 1872 to say that there really are phantoms that can be photographed and whose heartbeats can be heard, I laughed.  This courage had, however, no immediate or considerable effect; it is only today that Crookes’s work is really understood.  It is still the foundation of objective metapsychics, a block of granite that no criticism has been able to touch.”

I would like to focus this interview more on the physical phenomena you observed. Who were the best among these objective or physical mediums?

“To mention Home, Florence Cook, Stainton Moses, Eusapia, Mme. D’Espérance, Eglinton, Linda Gazzera, Slade, Marthe Béraud, Miss Goligher, and Stanislawa Tomczyk is to name nearly all; it is obvious that they are but few.  The number of those who give raps is very much larger, but I have no statistics regarding them.”

With the possible exception of Home and Moses, all of those you just mentioned were accused of fraud at one time or another.
“Unfortunately physical mediums often misuse their powers; they think to enrich themselves and give public séances for profit.  The Fox sisters, the Davenport brothers, Eglinton, and Slade all did this, and from thence to fraud is but a step that has often been taken, so that professional mediums of this class are always to be looked upon with suspicion and the most rigid precautions must always be taken against trickery.  Indeed, this is always necessary, even when there is no possible suspicion of conscious fraud.”

Conscious as opposed to unconscious fraud?

“[Yes,] we have defined metapsychics as the science whose subject matter is phenomena which seem to arise from an intelligence other than the human intelligence.  Mediums are therefore those persons who, in partial or total unconsciousness, speak words perform actions, and make gestures that seem not to be under control of their will and to be independent of their intelligence.  Nevertheless, these unconscious phenomena show intelligence and system, and are sometimes most aptly coordinated.  Therefore, the first thing to be discovered is whether they are due to a human or to a super-human intelligence.”

Many of the materializations that have been photographed look like cardboard cutouts or mannequins.  One can understand why people are so skeptical.

“These materializations are usually gradual, beginning by a rudimentary shape, complete forms and human faces appearing later on.  At first these formations are often very imperfect.  Sometimes they show no relief, looking more like flat images than bodies, so that in spite of oneself one is inclined to imagine some fraud, since what appears seems to be the materialization of a semblance, and not of a being.  But in some cases, the materialization is perfect. At the Villa Carmen, I saw a fully organized form rise from the floor.  At first it was only a white, opaque spot like a handkerchief lying on the ground before the curtain, then this handkerchief quickly assumed the form of a human head level with the floor, and a few moments later it rose up in a straight line and became a small man enveloped in a kind of white burnous who took two or three halting steps in front of the curtain and then sank to the floor and disappeared as if through a trap-door. But there was no trap door.”

You are no doubt referring to the phantom known as Bien Boa who materialized thought Marthe Béraud at the Villa Carmen.  I gather that there is no doubt in your mind that he or it was real.

“I shall not waste time in stating the absurdities, almost the impossibilities, from a psycho-physiological point of view, of this phenomenon.  A living being, or living matter, formed under our eyes, which has its proper warmth, apparently a circulation of blood, and a physiological respiration (as I proved by causing the form of Bien Boa (below) to breathe into a flask containing baryta water), which also has a kind of psychic personality, having a will distinct from the will of the medium, in a word, a new human being!  This is surely the climax of marvels!  Nevertheless it is a fact.”


Of course, it is difficult to understand why a fraudulent medium would think she or he could dupe anyone with something that doesn’t even resemble a human form.

“[True], it is imagined, quite mistakenly, that a materialization must be analogous to a human body and must be three dimensional.  This is not so.  There is nothing to prove that the process of materialization is other than a development of a completed form after a first stage of coarse and rudimentary lineaments form from the cloudy substance.  The moist, gelatinous, and semi-luminous extensions that come from the mouth of Marthe are embryonic formations which tend towards organization without immediately attaining it.”

You actually saw Bien Boa sink into the floor?

“Several times, I saw him plunge himself straight into the ground.  He suddenly became shorter, and under our eyes disappeared into the ground; then raised himself again suddenly in a vertical line.  The head, with the turban and the black moustache, and as it were the indication of eyes, grew, rose, until it nearly reached even higher than the canopy.  At certain moments it was obliged to lean and bend because of the great height which it had assumed.  Then, suddenly, his head sank right down to the ground and disappeared.  He did this three times in succession. I can find nothing better than the figure in a Jack-in-the-box which comes out all of a sudden.  But I do not know of anything resembling that vanishing into the earth in a straight line, so that at one moment it seems as though only the head was above the ground and that there was no longer a body.”

Still, the skeptics say it was all a trick.

“I am very well aware that [the phenomena] are extraordinary, even so monstrously extraordinary that at first sight the hypothesis of immeasurable, repeated, and continual fraud seems the more probable explanation.  But is such fraud possible? I cannot think so.  When I recall the precautions that all of us [took], it is inconceivable that we should have been deceived on all these occasions.”

I recall reading that there was much “cheating that really wasn’t cheating” going on when you studied Eusapia at Ribaud Island. Is this reference to the unconscious acts of the medium?
“[Exactly.]  Trance turns them into automata that have but a very slight control over their muscular movements.  When a medium is nearly or quite insensible, his eyes shut, sweating and making convulsive movements, unable to answer any questions put to him, I do not think he ought to be reproached for anything he may do.  He is not himself; he has not that poised and quiet consciousness which can decided between right and wrong.  He has forgotten who he is and what he ought to do….  As for Eusapia, who has often been suspected of fraud, nothing was ever proved against her.  On the contrary, after some doubtful experiments at Cambridge, I asked [Frederic] Myers to come back to see her.  He came to my house and there was a memorable sitting at which the phenomena were so distinct that I solemnly adjured Myers to declare that there was no trickery, and that the movement of objects at a distance without contact was authentic and undeniable.” 

But, clearly there has been much conscious fraud?

“[No doubt.]  Completely criminal are such acts as preparing paraphernalia for deliberate fraud, hidden in a chair or upon their person; this is radically different from the suspicious movements of an entranced medium.”

Your reports talk about ectoplasmic arms extending from Eusapia and touching sitters or moving objects.

“[Yes,] the ectoplasmic arms and hands that emerge from the body of Eusapia do only what they wish, and though Eusapia knows what they do, they are not directed by Eusapia’s will; or rather there is for the moment no Eusapia.  It is also quite easy to understand that when exhausted by a long and fruitless séance, and surrounded by a number of sitters eager to see something, a medium whose consciousness is still partly in abeyance may give the push that he hopes will start the phenomena….There is a quasi-identity between the medium and the ectoplasm, so that when an attempt is made to seize the latter, a limb of the medium may be grasped; though I make a definite and formal protest against this frequent defense of doubtful phenomena by spiritualists.  More frequently, the ectoplasm is independent of the medium, indeed perhaps it is always so; though I do not mean to imply that the severance or capture of the ectoplasm can be effected without danger to the medium.  The case of Mme. D’Espérance is on record to show that a medium may incur a long illness by reason of such an attempt.”

What exactly is ectoplasm?  The skeptics would say that it nothing but cheesecloth stuffed into some cavity of the medium and then exuded at an opportune time.

“The word ‘ectoplasm,’ which I invented for the experiments with Eusapia, seems entirely justified….  [It] is a kind of gelatinous protoplasm, formless at first, that exudes from the body of the medium, and takes form later.  This embryo-genesis of materialization shows clearly on nearly all the photographs.  In the early stages there are always white veils and milky patches and the faces, fingers, and drawings are formed little by little in the midst of this kind of gelatinous paste that resembles moist and sticky muslin…[I observed] gelatinous projections come from the mouth or shoulders of Marthe.  I saw the arm of Bien Boa formed in this way.  At first it resembled a thin, rigid rod covered with drapery and became a stretched-out arm.  The same phenomenon was very clearly observable with Eusapia.  A kind of supplementary arm seemed to come from her body.  Once I saw a long, stiff rod proceed from her side, which after great extension had a hand at its extremity – a living hand warm and jointed, absolutely like a human hand.”

I’m confused on something here.  Is ectoplasm always visible?

“In their first stage these ectoplasms are invisible, but can move objects and can give raps on a table.  Later on they become visible though nebulous and sketchy.  Still later, they take human form, for they have the extraordinary property that they change their forms and their consistence and evolve under our eyes.  In a few seconds, the nebulous embryo that exudes from the body of the medium becomes an actual being; though the human ovum requires thirty years to evolve into the adult form. Sometimes the phantom appears suddenly, without passing through the phase of luminous cloud; but this phenomenon is probably of the same order as the slower development.  This ectoplasmic formation at the expense of the physiological organism of the medium is now beyond all dispute.  It is prodigiously strange, prodigiously unusual, and it would seem so unlikely as to be incredible; but we must give in to the facts.”

History has not been particularly kind to Eusapia and others you mentioned earlier, treating them as either charlatans or as a mixed mediums (producing both genuine phenomena and fraudulent phenomena).

“Even if there were no other medium than Eusapia in the world, her manifestations would suffice to establish scientifically the reality of telekinesis and ectoplasmic forms….  A powerful medium is a very delicate instrument of whose secret springs we know nothing, and clumsy handling may easily disorganize its working.  It is best to allow the phenomena to develop in their own way without any attempt at guidance…. Mediums have not hitherto been treated with justice; they have been slandered, ridiculed, and vilified.  They have been treated as animæ viles for experiment.  When their faculties faded away they have been left to die in obscurity and want; when rewarded it has been with a niggardly hand, giving them to understand that they are only instruments.  It is time that this inhuman treatment should cease.”

In spite of your standing in the scientific community, mainstream science doesn’t seem to accept the research on ectoplasm and materialization.

“Assuredly, it is possible that I may be mistaken, even grossly mistaken, along with Crookes, De Rochas, Aksakoff, Myers, William James, Schiaparelli, Zöllner, Fechner, and Oliver Lodge.  It is possible that all of us have been deceived.  It is possible that some day an unexpected experiment may explain our prolonged deception quite simply.  So be it! But till it has been explained how we have all been duped by an illusion, I claim that the reality of these materializations must be conceded…. What man of science worthy of the name could affirm that science has classified, analyzed, and penetrated all the energies of immeasurable nature, or could make the strange and pretentious claim that we know all the dynamic manifestations in the world?  To admit telekinesis and ectoplasms is not to destroy even the smallest fragment of science; it is but to admit new data, and that there are unknown energies.  Then why be indignant, when, on the basis of thousands of observations and experiments, we affirm one of those unknown energies?”   

You’ve often used the word “absurd” when referring to the materialization phenomenon. 
“Yes, it is absurd; but no matter – it is true.” 

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:  June 19


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Why the Vanishing Phenomena?

Posted on 22 May 2017, 7:11

“So why don’t we hear about that type of mediumship today?”  That question has been put to me many times over the years by people who have read my books, journal essays, magazine articles, or this blog.  The reference is to various types of mediumship that seem to have been more prevalent a hundred and more years ago than they are today – the direct voice of Etta Wriedt and Sophia Williams, the trance voice of Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard, the materializations of D. D. Home (below) and Minnie Harrison, and many others.  About all we hear of today is the clairvoyant type of mediumship that we see on television.  While much of it is impressive and evidential, it is not nearly as dynamic or convincing as that of yesteryear. 


The debunker has an easy answer for the question:  It was all fraud and people today are not as easily duped as people once were.  However, anyone who has really studied the subject knows that such is not the case.  Many esteemed scientists and scholars offered overwhelming evidence – evidence that went well beyond the reasonable doubt standard of our court system – that such people as Wriedt, Piper, Home and countless others were genuine mediums.  Yes, there were charlatans who clouded the picture, but there is no doubt among those with open minds who have studied the subject that genuine mediums existed then and now. 

In my blog post of November 21, 2016 I set forth 15 reasons why the psychical research carried out between 1850 and 1930 by those scientists and scholars has not been widely accepted.  Those reasons include religious fundamentalism, scientific fundamentalism, media bias and ignorance, fear, machismo, real fraud, semantics, and other explanations which all involve assumptions that the various phenomena should be easily understood and subject to scientific methodology.  While many of the reasons are overlapping, I should have listed a sixteenth reason – “vanishing phenomena.” 

Although there are still some physical, trance-voice, and direct-voice mediums here and there around the world, it does not appear that they are developed to the extent some of the old timers were.  Either that, or we don’t hear about them because modern day researchers are discouraged from studying them.  There is no real funding for such research and for the 15 aforementioned reasons there is a high risk of damaging one’s professional reputation by venturing into such a controversial area.
I suspect, however, that the phenomena of today are not as rich as they were a century ago because today’s fast-paced lifestyle simply does not lend itself to mediumship development.  In her 1946 book, Sophia Williams, (below) one of the best direct-voice mediums of the early twentieth century, wrote that she sat quietly each day for four years to learn the art of relaxation and complete detachment before her own mediumship began to really develop.  Gladys Osborne Leonard, one of the best trance-voice mediums of the last century, wrote that she experienced 26 failures before finally receiving something from the spirit world.  Then it took another 18 months of development after that before she became a proficient medium.  It took 11 months of experimenting and receiving mostly gibberish before Pearl Curran began receiving coherent messages from the spirit entity calling herself Patience Worth.


Hamlin Garland, one of the leading researchers of the early years of the twentieth century, reported that he sat silently in the dark for four hours waiting for some phenomenon to be produced by a medium. With another medium, Mary Curryer Smith, he witnessed some amazing phenomena and arranged for her to travel from Los Angeles to Boston to be observed by a group of scientists.  But in two sittings with the group, she was unable to produce any significant phenomenon and was dismissed as a charlatan.  Garland concluded that she was “trying too hard” and then arranged a sitting with one of the scientists from that group, Professor Amos Dolbear, head of the department of astronomy and physics at Tufts College.  In Dolbear’s home with only Dolbear, his wife, and Garland present, Smith produced some mind-boggling phenomena, or more accurately, the spirits produced it through her.  According to Garland, Dolbear was “dumbfounded” and convinced there was no trickery of any kind, but he declined to discuss it with his peers in science as he knew they would say he had somehow been tricked. 

Who today has the patience of Williams, Leonard, Curran or Garland?  All that was at a time when there were few distractions in life – mostly before radio, telephones, and movies, and definitely before television, cell phones, computers, mall shopping, fitness centers, and other activities occupying our time during the evenings in these modern days. People of that era didn’t have much more to do at home beyond sitting in front of a fireplace and knitting or whittling, or sitting on the front porch and staring off into the stars. There was little “noise” in those days, making it more conducive to achieving the passive state that seems to be required for mediumship, and then developing it. And there was more socializing among the believers in mediumship, so that circles were formed and more people witnessed it and were able to spread the word to others. 

Another possible reason for the vanishing phenomena is electrical interference.  It was observed by a number of researchers that mediums were ineffective during stormy conditions, especially during lightning storms.  Of course, electricity was either non-existent or in its infancy in those early days.  As to how electrical waves interfere is not known but it appears to have some relationship to the fact that light interferes with physical phenomena.  Only the strongest mediums could produce phenomena in subdued light or under red light, while the majority required complete darkness.  This goes to another misunderstanding, the belief by skeptics that all mediums are of equal ability.  As the researchers came to understand, there are many degrees of mediumship and even the best of mediums have their off days.   

Then again, it may be that the decline in mediumship has to do with the spirit world seeing no reason to keep “reinventing the wheel.” Some early communication suggested such frustration.  They gave us all they could over some 80 years and didn’t believe it worthwhile to keep repeating themselves over and over again.

It is clear from some of the communication of 80-160 years ago that spirits of the dead have as difficult a time getting through to us as we do in getting through to them.  Many of them pointed out that they were experimenting on their side of the veil as much as we were on our side.  Seeing that their constant efforts in communicating with us were rejected by both mainstream science and orthodox religion, they may have decided that there was no further point in continuing with meaningful messages. At the same time, many genuine mediums were being disparaged because ignorant observers didn’t understand what was going on and assumed it was all fraudulent.  The spirit world may have to some extent withdrawn so that such genuine mediums would not be further disparaged, but perhaps the genuine mediums gradually withdrew because they were tired of being disparaged. 

There are other possible reasons, one of them being the moral atmosphere.  Consider the mediumship of Daniel Dunglas Home, perhaps the most famous physical medium ever.  Sir William Crookes, one of the world’s leading scientists, had some 29 meetings with Home with varying degrees of phenomena produced at all of them.  However, the least phenomena were produced on May 28, 1873, Derby Day in England.  According to Home, or the spirits communicating through him during the trance state, the gambling and drunkenness associated with Derby Day resulted in a negative moral atmosphere, one that prevented the higher spirits from communicating.  Could the moral atmosphere in London in 1873 be any lower than it is worldwide now?  Is it possible that today’s materialistic, even hedonistic, world has created an atmosphere which the good spirits cannot penetrate?

In an interview about 12 years ago with Dr. Jon Klimo, then a San Francisco professor of parapsychology, I asked for his opinion as to why there has been such a decline in quality mediumship.  As he saw it, we operate within a politics of consciousness involving conscious and unconscious contending of forces vying for the ongoing vote of our reality-created souls. “We all co-constitute the reality we are experiencing, and there is a lot of conditioning, propaganda, suppression, manipulation, and mind control involved,” he explained.  “The homeostasis-maintaining mechanism of the consensus reality and its locally severing mechanism seek to keep most of us on Earth at present from accessing the larger reality so the truth could set us free to ever more consciously move with and as part of God.”

If I am interpreting that statement and others made by Klimo in that interview correctly, he is saying that there is a gradual “awakening” of consciousness taking place today – an awakening that is being influenced by both positive and negative forces.  He calls it a “war on the inner planes.”  The ability to accept the positive and reject the negative, thereby awakening to one’s God consciousness, is an individual thing and is part of the challenge we face in our struggle to regain true consciousness, i.e., spiritual consciousness, something we somehow lost in what is symbolically depicted for us in the Garden of Eden story and called original sin.

But there is still another possible answer to the initial question, one that seems to be related to Klimo’s theory.  When the renowned author Victor Hugo asked a spirit claiming to be the discarnate Martin Luther why God doesn’t better reveal himself, he might just as well have asked why we don’t get absolute certainty relative to the afterlife issue.  The reply from spirit was: “Because doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit.  If the day were to come when the human spirit no longer doubted, the human soul would fly off and leave the plough behind, for it would have acquired wings. The earth would lie fallow.  Now, God is the sower and man is the harvester.  The celestial seed demands that the human ploughshare remain in the furrow of life.”

What it all seems to add up to, as I see it, is that we are not supposed to have absolute certainty with regard to survival as it would curb free will and thereby thwart the divine plan.  When the spiritualism (or mediumship) epidemic took hold in 1850, it was during the Ages of Reason and Enlightenment and, a decade later, the era of Darwinism, when religion was being impeached. Many people, having been nurtured in the religious ideal of this life being part of a larger life, despaired. The period from around 1860 to 1890 has been called the “age of melancholy,” when people saw themselves drifting aimlessly toward an abyss of nothingness. The “death of God,” as decreed by Friedrich Nietzsche in 1882 added to the hopelessness for many, especially the educated classes of the civilized world. The spiritualism epidemic seems to have countered the materialism scourge just enough to maintain some balance, extending to the end of the Great War and winding down during the “Roaring Twenties,” when materialism was restored to the Western world and turned to hedonism. It was apparently time for our free will to be put to the test again, and the spirit world began pulling back.

When the balance tipped back to the nihilistic/materialistic side in subsequent decades, we were given research in past-life studies, near-death experiences, clairvoyance, induced after-death communication, and electronic voice phenomena to counter the negative influences and maintain some balance. 

Absolute certainty may not be desirable, but the old and the new psychical research can help us move from blind faith to conviction, thereby avoiding the despair of the nihilist.  In my opinion, the old research is the best and most neglected, and so I continue to write about it.  That’s my long answer to the short question that started this post.

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:  June 5


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Convincing Deathbed Phenomena

Posted on 08 May 2017, 7:31

The night before my 87-year-old mother died, she couldn’t stop talking. Outside of a few unintelligible mumbles, she had said nothing before that during her five-day visit.  While seemingly asleep, she jabbered away through her last night in this realm. Because of her slurred speech resulting from several strokes, as well as advanced dementia, I couldn’t make out what she was saying.  However, she seemed to be arguing with or desperately pleading with someone. 

My wife and I had brought my mother up from her Berkeley, California rest home several days earlier to spend Thanksgiving 2003 with us at our Oregon home.  We moved a spare bed into our bedroom so that we could better care for her.  It was on the fifth night at our house, Thanksgiving night, that she began talking in her sleep. The next morning, as I was slowly carrying her 90-pound body from the bedroom downstairs to her wheelchair so that I could wheel her out to the car and drive her back to Berkeley, her eyes rolled back in her head and she “gave up the ghost.” 
In retrospect, I suspect that all the “arguing” the prior night was with deceased loved ones who were trying to convince her that it was time to leave the physical world.  Mom seemed very much afraid of dying when she was lucid.  A lifelong Catholic, she no doubt expected to be burning in the “fires” of purgatory for a few decades before being admitted to heaven.  Whether that fear remained with her in her demented state, I have no idea, but I have no other explanation for her all night chatter, other than the possibility that she was pleading with someone to help her disengage her spirit body from her weary physical shell.

I also wondered whether it was an act of providence or whether her higher-self simply found it more appropriate to die while cradled in my arms rather than return to the Berkeley rest home and die there.

A few years later, my mother’s sister passed on at age 81.  My cousin informed me that her mother, my aunt, had many conversations with deceased loved-ones during the last week of her life.  Whether or not my mother and aunt actually communicated with deceased loves before they died, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I do know that there is considerable evidence to suggest that such deathbed visits are not unusual. 

Mediumship, near-death experiences, and past-life studies have all contributed significantly to the cumulative evidence suggesting that consciousness lives on after death.  Deathbed phenomena, including both visions and verbiage, have also contributed to the large body of evidence, but it appears to be the area most in need of further research.  Sir William Barrett’s 1926 book Death-Bed Visions is a classic in the field, while French astronomer Camille Flammarion’s Death and Its Mystery: Before Death, published in 1922, is another important reference.  Others who have contributed to the field since Barrett and Flammarion include Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson (At the Hour of Death) 1997, Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick (The Art of Dying, 2008) and Carla Wills Brandon (One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions, 2010 and Heavenly Hugs, 2012). 

Add to that short list Words at the Threshold by Lisa Smartt, just recently released by New World Library. The book is subtitled What We Say as We’re Nearing Death.  One area of deathbed phenomena that I find especially intriguing is that of “terminal lucidity,” or “sunset day,” as health-care providers call it, according to Smartt.  “People I interviewed described how their loved ones who had been relatively nonresponsive suddenly emerged from their deeply internal and quiet state and spoke words of kindness, reassurance, or guidance for a short time before dying,” Smartt explains.  “Several people described a kind of glow or lightness around their beloved.” 

A linguist, educator, and poet, Smartt was motivated to undertake such research by what she saw and heard in the last three weeks of her father’s life in this realm.  “We are all headed for the afterlife, six feet under,” Smartt quotes her non-believing father before he became terminal.  But during those final weeks he talked about seeing and hearing angels, even stating that an angel told him he had only three days left, which turned out to be true.

Smartt tells of a man dying man who rejected both food and drink during his final weeks.  However, three days before he died, he was awake and talking, asking for some pot roast and pineapple upside-down cake. He sat up with strength to eat it, the first time in weeks, carried on a conversation for some five hours, then returned to his slumber and was gone in a few days.

In another case reported by Smartt, a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease who had not spoken lucidly in years began coherently telling her son about the location of certain files containing financial information a few days before her death.  In still another case, a daughter said that her mother had been in a coma for three weeks. “One day, her eyes popped open.  She looked at me and said, ‘Tell everyone I am okay and that I love them.’” She died five hours later. 

In his 2016 book, When did you ever become less by dying?, Professor Stafford Betty tells of a 1913 case in which a woman named Kathe was retarded from birth and confined to an asylum. She had never spoken a single word during her lifetime, but just before she died, she began singing, “Where does the soul find its home, its peace?  Peace, Peace, heavenly peace!” over and over again.  She sang for about 30 minutes before quietly dying.

In his 2015 book, Afterlife Tracks, author Louis Villalba, M.D., tells of his father’s final “goodbye” during 2008.  The 89-year-old family patriarch had been in a coma for two days when Villalba arrived at his bedside.  On the afternoon of the third day of the coma, the dying man began a gradual awakening. That evening, he sat up in bed fully alert. “His face shone as resplendent as Moses’ might have looked when he came down from Mount Sinai after seeing God,” Villalba reported.  “His eyes were wide open and his newly grown white beard made him look more handsome and younger.  He smiled, recognized everyone.  Happiness radiated from his countenance.  He did not speak a word.  He laughed, assenting with his head and raising his eyebrows.  A soft cinnamon-like scent emanated from his skin.”  Villalba asked his father if he had been sent back (from heaven). “He raised his eyebrows and smiled,” Villalba continued the story. “His eyes scanned each of us one by one.” However, he again drifted into deep unconsciousness and passed away the next morning.

Numerous other cases of terminal lucidity and other deathbed phenomena can be found in the references mentioned as well as in my book, The Afterlife Revealed.  No doubt they represent only a small portion of the actual cases.

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:  May 22


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The Shroud of Turin:  Beyond Science?

Posted on 24 April 2017, 8:45

While watching the History Channel’s Easter special on the Shroud of Turin (The Face of Jesus Uncovered?), I was in awe of the capabilities of science and computer technology; however, I was also reminded of their limitations.  The scientists studying the shroud (below) concluded that it is not a painting or some creative fabrication. They can tell what it isn’t but not what it is.


I have read quite a bit about the shroud and have seen at least a half dozen other documentaries on the relic that many believe covered the crucified body of Jesus of Nazareth two-thousand years ago, but this one went beyond all others, moving me from being “very” skeptical to just “somewhat” skeptical as to whether the shroud is in fact the burial cloth of Jesus.  Prior to this documentary, I was about a 20 percent believer (80 percent doubter) in the authenticity of the shroud, but I am now an 80 percent believer.  My 20 percent doubt is divided between it being the image of someone other than Jesus and some form of fraud that goes beyond modern science. 

Like so many others, I pretty much dismissed the shroud as being authentic after the carbon-14 tests in 1988 dated it to around the fourteenth century. My belief factor was then down to about two percent.  I began reconsidering it a few years later when it was pointed out that the carbon testing was from a small edge of the shroud that was contaminated from frequent handling and from repairs due to fire damage 700 or so years ago.  Moreover, it was reported that pollen from an artichoke plant native to the Jerusalem area was found embedded in the fibers. 

What the scientists in this most recent documentary pointed out that I had not heard before was that a 3-D image analyzer revealed that there are contours in the image – distortions resulting from the cloth being draped over a body – thus strongly suggesting that the shroud was in fact wrapped around a human body.  Such contours are not found in paintings or other art work,  making it highly unlikely that it was an artistic endeavor by Leonardo da Vinci or some other artist from that era, as so many have come to believe. And while the image on the shroud appears to be a man much older than 33, the age at which Jesus is said to have been put to death, a computer graphics artist was able to eliminate the contours and turn the two-dimensional image on the shroud into a three-dimensional figure, the result being a much younger man, one of perhaps 33. 

Add in the fact that the numerous blood stains on the shroud were subjected to testing and found to be real blood with DNA indicating an ethnicity from the area around Jerusalem.  On top of that, the numerous blood stains on the shroud are consistent with wounds resulting from both scourging and crucifixion, including a crown of thorns.  While there is evidence that many others were crucified in Jesus’ time, indications are that scourging was not part of the execution process, and it seems very unlikely that a crown of thorns would have been placed on the victim.  To put it another way, the wounds on the shroud image are totally consistent with the biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus and not consistent with what is known about other crucifixions. 

Another interesting fact mentioned in the latest documentary has to do with the sudarium, a face cloth that is said (John 20:6-7) to have been draped over Jesus’ face before the shroud was placed over him.  The sudarium has long been preserved in a chapel in Oviedo, Spain. Forensic testing has “lined up” the blood on the sudarium with the blood on the shroud.  While carbon-14 testing has dated the sudarium to around 700 AD, the history of this particular sudarium goes back to approximately 570 AD, and the laboratory noted that later oil contamination could have resulted in faulty testing. 

Those involved in studying the shroud cannot offer a scientific explanation as to how the image was imprinted on the 14-foot long linen.  It was explained that diffused light would not make such an imprint.  The bottom line is that it is presently beyond science.  Of course, the religious explanation is that it resulted from some supernatural burst of energy that is called the resurrection. 

While the orthodox Christian belief is that the physical body of Jesus left the tomb and that he visited with his disciples before ascending to “heaven,” the teachings that have come to us in more recent times from the spirit world through credible mediums tell it differently.  I believe the explanation given to Johannes Greber (below) by a seemingly advanced spirit, through the mediumship of a young man, offers the more rational view. “As you are able to convert matter into steam with the aid of high temperatures and even to cause this steam to become invisible to the human eye, so also is the spirit-world able to dissolve matter completely,” Greber, a Catholic priest turned psychical researcher, was informed.  “It too makes use of hot power-currents, by means of which it converts matter into an od-like, etherealized form.  For, as I have explained to you, all matter is nothing but corporealized od which can be dissolved into spiritual od.”


Od was the name given by German chemist Baron Karl von Reichenbach (1788-1869) to an energy that he discovered existing among “sensitive” people – people with clairvoyant, clairaudient, and clairsentient abilities.  It is said to be a “life principle” that permeates and connects all living things and has been likened to the prana of the ancient Hindus, the chi of the Chinese, the astral light of the Kabbalists, the vis medicatrix naturae of Hippocrates, the magnetic fluid of Mesmer, the orgone energy of Reich, and the ectoplasm of mediums.  It is apparently present in all humans, although those with mediumistic ability have it in greater quantities, though not necessarily in greater quality.
Indications are that the misty vapors often observed leaving the body of a dying person are od. It acts as sort of a glue in bonding the physical body with the spirit body, and the more materialistic the person the denser the od and the more difficult the separation.

“Not even of Christ was the natural body raised,” Greber was further informed. “Like the physical bodies of all mortals it had been created from the od of the earth and like them it returned to earth, with this exception, that it was not redissolved into terrestrial od by way of decay, but by dematerialization effected by the spirit-world.”  It was further explained that when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his death, his odic body materialized, and when he departed the odic body dematerialized. 

As I see it, the survival or resurrection message is not affected one iota by accepting that the physical body of Jesus dematerialized rather than believing that it “went to heaven.”  I’m at 99.9 percent on that.

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: May 8

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Dr. Laurin Bellg Discusses Her NDE Research

Posted on 10 April 2017, 8:15

“It is impossible to be so close to the cutting edge of life and death and not be transformed by it in some way.  Our beliefs and opinions about life and death are shaped by what we encounter.”  So writes Laurin Bellg, M.D., in her recent book, Near Death in the ICU.


Dr. Bellg,  (below) a board-certified critical care physician and Chair of Medicine and ICU director for two intensive care units in the Appleton, Wisconsin area, draws upon some 20 years experience in attending to critically ill and dying patients. “Although it was within the hallowed halls of my conventional medical training that I first encountered patient accounts of the unusual and mysterious during near-death moments, extreme illness and trauma, it has only been within the past few years that I have begun to pay serious attention not only to the medical care of my patients but also to their personal experiences as they approach death,” she offers in the book’s Introduction, adding that her own thoughts about life and death have morphed over the years, due in part to the accounts of transcendent experiences.


She begins by telling of her experience with another physician, an 87-year-old dying patient she refers to as “Dr. John.”  He told her that he was not afraid to die and related a near-death experience (NDE) he had during WWII, when the jeep he occupied was hit by mortar fire. Dr. John recalled floating above his body in the operating room and found it strange to be watching his friends and colleagues in such a detached manner as they fought to save him. “He felt completely weightless and peaceful, void of any fear.  The feeling of love was immense, almost unbearable, and recalling it now, Dr. John’s voice became fragile as he paused to fight back tears.”

As Dr. Janice Holden, who has been researching NDEs since the mid-1980s, states in the Afterword of the book, this is not just another “ho-hum” book about near-death experiences.  “To my knowledge,” she writes, “no one has addressed so well the need to offer a helpful response to those reporting an NDE, and the process of reconsidering one’s belief system in light of the evidence from NDEs.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Bellg for The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, Inc. (See and check out details of their June 7-11 conference at A slightly abridged version of that interview is presented here.   

Dr. Bellg, what were your beliefs relative to life after death prior to having the various deathbed and near-death experiences you report in your book? How have they “morphed”?

“It is impossible to be exposed to death-bed and near-death experiences and not be affected by them, but what I can say with certainty is after being privileged to have heard so many accounts of near-death experiences, I’m not afraid to die. What comes next, though, I really don’t know, but I believe something does. And I’m beginning to think that what it looks like to us from this vantage point is heavily influenced by our culture and belief systems.

My Christian patients see a Christian construct. My Hmong and Native American patients see an ancestor-based construct. My Asian Indian patients see a heavily-Hindu-informed construct. I’ve come to the comfortable conclusion that something of us, like our consciousness, survives, but what that is or what it looks like I really don’t know. Even experiencers have a hard time putting it into words. Because we are so very influenced by the lenses through which we are peering to behold an experience, a pure and unadulterated interpretation may elude us. I’ve forgotten who said, ‘What we see is what we believed before we looked,’ but I believe there is a lot of truth in that statement.”

Is there any one patient or NDE that especially moved you?  If so, would you mind summarizing it?

“I will always remember Samuel, whom I spoke of in my book. He was the first patient I’d taken care of who seemed to have had an anomalous experience. This was literally within weeks of me graduating from medical school, so I was still a very new doctor and heavily indoctrinated into a left-brain, science-based way of looking at things. I believe he died because I failed to recognize an out-of-body experience he had during surgery and as a result he refused further operations that he needed to survive. He reported seeing his whole surgery, including his open abdomen, from a vantage point above his body and was able to describe it in detail while feeling no pain. He was so freaked out by it that he refused any further life-saving interventions. I had no context with which to frame what he had experienced and help him deal with it. I had not been taught that in medical school. As I explain in my book, I still hold Samuel’s memory very close as motivation to help patients sort out anomalous experiences that don’t fit neatly into the scaffolding of our current understanding of the physical universe. Samuel’s experience (and mine with Samuel) propelled me on a journey to support patients in their unusual experiences – whatever they may be – and to understand as much as I could about them.”

What about deathbed visions or other deathbed phenomena, such as “soul mist”?

“Even physicians who downplay the near-death experience acknowledge that patients who are dying often appear to talk to relatives who have already passed away that we cannot see but they apparently can. It has become an unofficial metric to inform family members that their loved one is close to passing because they are beginning to communicate with predeceased loved ones. I’ll be honest, I’ve not heard of ‘soul mist’ but imagining what you might be referring to, I recently had a whole team of caregivers, including a doctor and several nurses, speak of a very strange wind that went through the room at the time the patient officially died.”

You state that discussion of these transcendent experiences by patients is not a “safe” topic with your peers.  Have you seen any changes in this regard over your 20 years of practicing medicine?

“Sadly, not really. Chaplains in my healthcare system continue to report accounts that patients have spontaneously shared with them. Spiritual leaders seem to be safe space around such phenomenon. How can we facilitate a culture of presumed safe space as care givers? That is my question to my medical community. And, that is the primary reason I felt compelled to write my book. I thought that I had something important to contribute to the discussion about near-death experiences and how to be able to converse with someone about their anomalous experience of consciousness is a fundamental part of good patient care.”

Have you had much feedback from your skeptical peers about your book?  If so, how do they react to it?

“I have had some feedback, yes, and it has mostly been positive. Those who disagree have politely avoided engaging me in conversation about it, but fortunately it has not interfered with our professional relationship. A couple of doctors I work with have come forward telling me they actually had a near-death experience and that they confirmed it was not safe to talk about in today’s medical environment if you expect to have a respectable medical career. I have to admit I was very reluctant to write this book and once I’d done it there was a part of me that hoped no one would actually read it! Especially people I work with. But now that it is out there and I still have my job, I’m feeling a bit braver about being more open. Conventional medicine is a very powerful machine and strongly founded on evidence-based practices. I understand that and, for the most part, agree with it. As body mechanics we need to be confident that the medicines we give and the procedures we do are not only safe for our patients but that they also are going to work and produce a good outcome. That is being responsible. But there is this whole other side to what it means to be a human patient that involves experiences that we cannot measure or reliably reproduce. We need to cultivate a new way of integrating these experiences that are very real to the patient and honor them. Telling the patient it didn’t happen because we, the measurers of phenomenon, didn’t see it is not only unhelpful, it is very disrespectful. And, as in Samuel’s case, potentially deadly. That is not good patient care.”

What are your views on all the mechanistic theories relative to NDEs, such as oxygen deprivation, hallucinations, stress hormones, etc.?

“Sure, those things happen, but those experiences then become muddled, disjointed and don’t take away a patients fear of death. Patients hallucinate and oxygen deprivation can cause visual disturbance, but there is a distinct clarity around out-of-body experiences during severe trauma and near-death states that patients often recall in exquisite, organized detail. Furthermore, the nature of transformation that patients experience just doesn’t happen during states of delirium, hallucinations or stress hormone surges. Again, my stance remains that we are talking about something that the experiencer can’t prove did happen and the nonexperiencer cannot prove did not happen, so we need to have a different approach to discussing these transformative events in a way that serves the patient we have taken an oath to care for and protect. I’m not sure that at this point in our human evolution we have the science to explain what is happening. Maybe we will never be able to. All the more reason to create a space where we can discuss the phenomenon without shaming the experiencer.”

You mentioned in the book hearing a physician interviewed on the radio tell an NDEr that he was likely hallucinating.  If you, as a director of an ICU, were to overhear a young physician in the ICU offering a similar explanation to a concerned patient, how would you handle it?

“I have actually heard that said in my ICU and have intervened on the patient’s behalf to facilitate a different discussion without making either the patient or the health care provider feel bad. No one should feel uncomfortable or shamed around such an important topic. I am also an ICU attending, so when residents rotate through to work with me for a month at a time, we talk about it and I give them a copy of my book to read as an assignment. I really hope that how I have learned to facilitate this discussion over the past twenty years can offer these young doctors a short cut. Interestingly, a couple of nurses have pointed out that their curriculum often has a brief section to deal with such occurrences and the overriding theme in their training material is to respect it even if you don’t understand or agree with it. I was so impressed when a nurse brought in a textbook from her conventional nursing training program associated with our State university system and pointed out a short section on talking with patients about their near-death experience. My vision is to see that in physician textbooks!”

The NDE has been studied now for more than 40 years.  Aren’t we well past the point of diminishing returns in what we can learn from them?

“Maybe, but continuing to ask the question and hold the phenomenon lighting in curious regard puts us in a better place to eventually understand it. Humans saw fire for much longer than that – millennia even – before they finally sorted out that it wasn’t a god or evil spirit and that they could even make it! It took longer still to uncover all of its uses and applications. The same for electricity and other things that were once so mysterious that we now take for granted as a normal part of our daily lives. I don’t know that we have the right science or even the right sort of brain to yet understand the near-death and out-of-body experience, but that doesn’t mean we should stop asking the question. Another example I give in my book is that for thousands of years early civilizations thought that jars of grain slurries left out in the open air were magically turned into alcoholic beverages by spirits. It wasn’t until many thousands of years later that science was able to inform us that wind currents carried yeast spores that settled into the liquid and did the magical transformation called fermentation.”

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.


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Forever Family Foundation: Practical Bereavement

Posted on 27 March 2017, 7:48

When Bob and Phran Ginsberg (below) joined a support group for bereaved parents following the death of their daughter, Bailey, in an auto accident on September 1, 2002, they were informed that the subject of life after death was not suitable for discussion as it did not relate to coping with grief.  “We found that odd,” says Bob, a 65-year-old semi-retired insurance agent residing in Huntington, N.Y., “as we believed that the only thing that could provide comfort to bereaved parents was the possibility that their child still survived.”


As the bereaved parents gathered in the parking lot after the meeting and shared what they had learned and experienced, Bob and Phran talked about the necessity for an outlet where people could discuss the survival issue “without being stopped in their tracks and without judgment.” And so Forever Family Foundation, an all-volunteer charitable organization, established in 2004, now with approximately 10,000 members and growing, was conceived. 

The organization’s mission statement explains that its purpose is to establish the existence of the continuity of the family, even though a member has left the physical world; to stimulate thought among the curious ...  to support the continued research into survival of consciousness and Afterlife Science; and to provide a forum where individuals and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one can turn for support information, and hope through state-of-the-art information and services provided by ongoing research…”

Bob vividly recalls that terrible day in 2002. “In the early morning hours, Phran sat up in bed, trembling, and clearly shaken.  She said that ‘something horrible is going to happen today.’ Ordinarily, I would not pay much attention to such things, as I was a left-brained individual firmly rooted in my materialistic thinking. However, there were several times in our lives when Phran had similar ‘dreams’ that played out exactly as she had described. 

So, even though I did not really believe in such things, the evidence told me that I should take this seriously.  Of course, the first thing parents think of is the safety of their children, and we checked on our three children throughout the day.  To make a long story short, I let my guard down at the end of the day, becoming reassured that Phran’s feelings were not based in fact.  After leaving a family dinner at a local restaurant, my son and daughter were involved in a horrible accident, and my 15-year-old daughter did not survive the crash.”

Jonathan, Bob and Phran’s son, was critically injured and for several weeks they did not know if he would survive.  “Eventually, when it became evident that he would recover, we moved from a state of shock to utter despair,”

Bob further recalls.  “I did not think it possible for me to survive the loss of my daughter, as I was trapped in a deep chasm of horror and utter hopelessness.  However, what kept me going was the fact that Phran continued to have personal experiences, after-death communication, that I could not explain.  Since the one thing in life I knew was that she would never lie to me, I had to take her at her word.  Outwardly, I kept dismissing these things, which resulted in quite a few arguments, but deep inside the possibility of survival was what kept me going.”

Bob admits that prior to Bailey’s departure from the earth plane, he hadn’t given much thought to survival, going about life “with all of the trappings of success – big house,
nice cars, and lots of toys.” 

Several months later, as Bob thought about Phran’s prediction, he began looking for answers, talking with several scientists and consciousness researchers. Phran, on the other hand, did not require any confirmation of her “inner-knowing.”  There were times, he remembers, when he contemplated meaning and purpose, but none of the answers he could come up with made much sense and often resulted in bouts of mild depression.  “I summarily dismissed the notion of survival of consciousness, as in my view we were our brains, and when our brains died, we died.”

One day, Bob and Phran had some time before a scheduled appointment with Jonathan’s rehabilitation doctors and visited a book store next to the medical offices.  There, Bob noticed Dr. Gary Schwartz’s book, The Afterlife Experiments.  “I bought the book, devoured its contents, and rest is history.  The immediate next step after reading the book was to seek the services of a medium featured in the book as I needed to determine for myself if this was simply a bunch of New Age BS.”

Arrangements were made to sit in a group of about 10 people with trance medium Suzane Northrop.  Initially, Bob thought about how ridiculous the whole thing was, but when the medium turned to him and gave him three pieces of extremely strong evidence, he began to realize that there might be something to it.  One of the three pieces of evidence had to do with the fact that about a week before the session, Phran was alarmed by the smell of smoke in the house, causing her to get out of bed and search the house.  “The medium said to me, ‘Your daughter is telling me that you will know she is around by the smell of smoke.’ Obviously, Phran’s experience was unknown to the medium.”

A second piece of evidence had to do with a little game Bailey (below) had played with her father when she would try to get him to say that she was his favorite child.  He would always reply that he loved them all equally, but Bailey would just wink.  “Dad,” the medium said, “your daughter is making me tell you that she knows she was your favorite.” 


The third piece involved the medium telling Bob that Bailey was glad that all of her writings had been found. The fact was that Phran and their other daughter, Kori, had discovered a storehouse of Bailey’s writing in her computer sometime after her transition and later had it published in a book entitled Hidden Treasures.

After forming the FFF in 2004, Bob and Phran hosted discussion groups, set up a website, began publishing a newsletter, developed a medium certification program, started a weekly radio show, and held various conferences, events, retreats, and demonstrations. Needless to say, unlike the support group they first attended, discussion of the survival issue was encouraged.  They even hosted a talk at a local university about the afterlife, which drew a standing-room only audience of over 500.  They have since discontinued the national conferences, as they have found that they can reach more people with weekly webinars.

“Some question how we are able to run such an organization with no traditional grants and free membership,” Bob remarks.  “Phran, who is the Director of FFF is a savvy MBA, but she will readily tell you that the universe has a hand in our success.  Whenever she has concerns that funds are running low, an unexpected donation or opportunity always presents itself.  The Foundation has a Scientific Advisory Board, an Academic Advisory Board, a Medium Advisory Board, and an Auxiliary Board.”  He adds that the Auxiliary Board is made up of discarnates with whom they seek guidance about running the foundation.  Parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, one of the world’s leading experts on psychic experiences, is currently serving as president of the organization.

Bob is quick to point out that they do not act in the capacity of mental health practitioners or other such professionals, nor are they solely about mediumship.  Their primary objective is to support the bereaved through information, including mediumship, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, reincarnation, instrumental transcommunication, other psi phenomena that show that the mind can act independently of the brain.  “If our consciousness – mind or soul if you prefer – is not dependent upon the brain, surviving after the brain is no longer there becomes not only plausible, but logical,” he states. “Of course, nothing can be more convincing than direct personal experience.  However, many times the foundation of knowledge must come before one becomes open to recognizing personal communication.”

While stressing that the FFF does not provide professional services, Bob is not afraid to take issue with the mainstream bereavement advice that one should get over it and get on with life as soon as possible, with no mention of the survival issue.  “We believe that those who believe in survival do better in their bereavement than those who believe in the finality of death,” he says, mentioning a study by The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, “and professionals in the field are becoming increasingly aware of this fact.”

For more information about Forever Family Foundation, check their website at or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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.


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Reincarnation:  Doing It All Over Again?

Posted on 13 March 2017, 10:06

There was a time when I enjoyed reading books about reincarnation.  I was fascinated by the story of Bridey Murphy from the 1950s and by the research carried out by Professor Ian Stevenson, as reported by in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, and by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. in Many Lives, Many Masters.  I was intrigued by Jenny Cockell’s Across Time and Death, by Dolores Cannon’s They Walked with Jesus, and Marge Rider’s Mission to Millboro.  My library contains about 40 books dealing with reincarnation, but at some point the idea of coming back and doing this all over again did not appeal to me and I stopped reading about reincarnation.

If I could start another life at age 20 or so in a fairly comfortable setting with everything I now know, I’d probably opt for another lifetime in this physical realm, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I fear that I may elect to come back as a severely handicapped child to help his or her parents learn from the experience. It’s something of a Catch 22 situation – hoping to be advanced enough to be so heroic and yet hoping not to be so advanced. 

As much as I don’t want to do it again, the evidence set forth in the recently released book, I Saw a Light and Came Here, by Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph.D. and James G. Matlock, Ph.D. and published by White Crow Books, suggests that I will have to do it again, unless of course, I have reached the point at which we don’t have to come back and we continue the evolution of the soul in another realm of existence.  I feel I still have a lot to learn and so I am not optimistic in that regard. 

I decided it was about time to read another book on reincarnation and this book, subtitled Children’s Experiences of Reincarnation, seemed to be a good choice. The authors offer some very interesting and evidential cases from their extensive research in past-life studies.  The book is divided into two parts – the first authored by Haraldsson and the second by Matlock.  Haraldsson draws from nearly 50 years of field research, including approximately a hundred cases in Sri Lanka, Lebanon, India and Iceland, while Matlock is more of an “armchair” researcher, investigating accounts of reincarnation primarily by email, instant messaging, and Skype.  Both authors frequently link their findings to the research of Professor Ian Stevenson, considered “the father of reincarnation research.”
Haraldsson begins by summarizing several intriguing cases he researched in which children recalled episodes from an earlier life.  In one case, a Lebanese boy named Nazih was just a year-and-a-half old when he began telling his parents about his prior life.  He recalled carrying two pistols and four hand-grenades and being shot and killed.  When he was two-and-a-half, he drew a map of his previous house and said he wanted to go back there to see his children and retrieve his weapons and other belongings.  It was determined that his old home was about 17 kilometers from his present home, and when Nazih was five or six years old, his family finally took him there. He was questioned by his past-life wife and accurately answered a number of questions she put to him. He was even able to point to a cupboard in which he had kept his arms.  He further recalled giving his brother a somewhat rare kind of handgun before his death in the prior life and of building a wooden ladder, which still existed on his visit there.  He was shown a photo of three men from the prior life and identified each one by name. It was determined that he was killed in 1982 at age 57 when serving as a bodyguard for a spiritual leader.  In all, Nazih made 25 statements fitting the person he believed himself to be in the prior lifetime and only one statement that did not fit.

Haraldsson mentions that in a few cases, children spoke of memories from the period after they died and before they were reborn. Some claimed to have engaged in poltergeist activity after they died.  Many have phobias and fears related to their past-life memories.  A large percentage claim to have suffered a violent death.  Birthmarks are found in some cases to seemingly be related to wounds that led to the child’s death in the past life. Most children stop talking about the previous life by the age of six or seven.

Although most of the book is focused on reincarnation, Haraldsson devotes separate chapters to deathbed visions, near-death experiences and mediumship.

Matlock begins the second section with some history on the belief in reincarnation, dating back to Turkish tribal peoples and the Egyptians.  He goes on to note how early Christians, such as Origin and members of the Gnostic sects, believed in pre-existence of the soul and how it was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. He provides details of cases from Canada, India, Brazil and the United States.  I found his chapter on xenoglossy (people speaking in foreign tongues though not consciously familiar with the language) especially interesting, as well as the chapter on suicide cases. 

While both Haraldsson and Matlock address the skeptical concerns relating to reincarnation, they do not discuss the “overshadowing” or spirit possession theories that some believe account for it all.  That is, the past-life memories are really the influence of spirit entities – possibly entities from a common group soul who actually lived those past lives – merging with or somehow influencing the child’s aura or energy field during the developmental stages, as the child’s soul occasionally vacates the body to be nurtured in his or her true home.  This school of thought holds that such influences are mistakenly taken to be the child’s past life.

Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, purportedly communicated through several credible mediums following his death in 1901. One of those mediums was Geraldine Cummins of Ireland, a trance automatist.  Much of what Myers had to say through the hand of Cummins is set forth in The Road to Immortality, first published in 1932.  Among other subjects, Myers discussed the group-soul and reincarnation. 

“While I was on earth, I belonged to a group-soul, but its branches and the spirit – which might be compared to the roots – were in the invisible,” Myers wrote.  “Now, if you would understand psychic evolution, this group-soul must be studied and understood.  For instance, it explains many of the difficulties that people will assure you can be removed only by the doctrine of reincarnation. You may think my statement frivolous, but the fact that we do appear on earth to be paying for the sins of another life is, in a certain sense, true.  It is our life and yet not our life.”

Myers went on to explain that a soul belonging to the group of which he was part lived a previous life and built for him a framework for his own earthly life.  The spirit – the bond of the group soul – manifests, he said, many times on earth.  “We are all of us distinct,” he continued, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.” He further explained that a group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred souls, or a thousand souls.

“When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth,” Myers went on.  “And often a half-truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement.  I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern of karma I have woven for him on earth.”

Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.  He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.

I much prefer to believe Myers’s version, but it is difficult to discount the more orthodox reincarnation belief when considering the birthmark evidence uncovered by Stevenson, Haraldsson and Matlock. One way or the other, survival is indicated and I’m inclined to believe that the truth of it all is somewhere in between the two schools of thought and for the most part beyond human comprehension, at least beyond mine. 

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.


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The Defamation of Eusapia Palladino

Posted on 27 February 2017, 10:46

My good friend Michael Schmicker, the author of The Witch of Napoli, a somewhat fictionalized version of the story of Eusapia Palladino, an illiterate Italian medium (1854 – 1918), and I meet with other friends once a month or so over lunch in downtown Honolulu to discuss our projects.  While Mike and I are of like-mind on most everything, there is one thing we don’t agree on – whether Eusapia cheated in producing some phenomena. 

Mike accepts the historical accounts that say Eusapia was a genuine medium but that she cheated at times when her powers failed her, a theme which Mike advances in his book, now a best-seller at Amazon.  I argue, however, that there is no solid evidence that the acts taken by researchers to be cheating were consciously carried out by Eusapia. I point to the research of those scientists and scholars who observed her the most and claim that the so-called cheating was not conscious on her part, therefore not cheating, per se. That is, she was in a trance state and controlled by spirit entities, who at times used her arms and legs to produce some phenomenon. At other times, ectoplasmic arms and legs were formed and observers assumed they were Eusapia’s limbs.  Mike seems to agree that there were unconscious movements in the trance state, but he also believes that Eusapia consciously cheated at times when her powers failed her.  I do not deny that possibility, but I do not accept it as fact, as Mike does. 

Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist and electricity pioneer, studied Eusapia with Dr. Charles Richet, the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, and two other researchers at Richet’s private retreat on Ribaud Island in the Mediterranean during 1894.  He wrote that she resented the charges of fraud and that he was willing to give her the benefit or the doubt, so far as morals of deception were concerned, referring to her as a kindly soul with many of the instincts of a peasant.  “She wanted us to understand that it was not conscious deception, but that her control (called John King) took whatever means available, and if he found an easy way of doing things, thus would it be done,” Lodge explained.

“Even if there were no other medium than Eusapia in the world, her manifestations would suffice to establish scientifically the reality of telekinesis and ectoplasmic forms,” wrote Richet, who had more than 200 sittings with Eusapia. He reported that ectoplasmic arms and hands emerged from the body of Eusapia and did what they wished, independent of Eusapia’s will, as she had vacated the body while in trance.  While Richet refused to believe in spirits, at least publicly, he referred to a “quasi-identity” between the medium and the ectoplasm that might give “the push that he (King?) hopes will start the phenomena.”

Professor Filippo Bottazzi, who held the chair of physiology at the University of Naples, studied Eusapia on a number of occasions and concluded that “during our sessions neither fraud nor cheating ever occurred.  I can affirm this with certainty, solemnly, also on behalf of other participants.  Although we all differ with regard to studies, temperament, and age, nevertheless we all agreed and were convinced that the phenomena we had observed were never the product of fraud. They were true phenomena, however mysterious and elusive in their nature.”  Bottazzi admitted that there were things happening outside the bounds of scientific observation and that some observers might have assumed that fraud was the only explanation, thereby giving rise to the claims that Eusapia sometimes cheated.

The subject came up again at our latest lunch and another friend joined in to support Mike, saying that he found it difficult to believe that the controlling spirits would be so devious as to make Eusapia appear to be a cheater.  I countered that there is evidence suggesting that such spirits don’t fully grasp what is happening on our side of the veil.  For example, the discarnate Frederic Myers communicated that he didn’t know how his thoughts were coming through the medium, whether by automatic writing or through her voice.  All he knew was that he was projecting thoughts that somehow were turned into words as they passed through the medium to the sitter. 

After my recent debate with Mike, I had a dream.  The year was 2028, the location being the lower regions of Purgatory, otherwise known as “Stuporland.”  Unlike souls below them who are completely earthbound and even unaware that they have “died,” souls in Stuporland drift in and out of consciousness, realizing at times they have died and at other times thinking they are still alive in the flesh.  The soul known as Michael Schmicker while incarnate had recently arrived and had been floundering somewhat in a confused state.  I had graduated some years before Mike and was there to greet him on his arrival. Here is the conversation that took place:

Mike S.  “Who are you?” 

Mike T.  “Don’t you remember me, Mike?  You knew me as Mike Tymn.”

Mike S.  “But I thought you died five or six years ago. And you look so much younger than the Mike Tymn I knew.”

Mike T.  “Yes, I ‘died,’ as you call it, and so have you.  The reason I look younger is that I have evolved back to my prime years.”

Mike S.  “Oh!  I know we talked about that, but I guess I never really absorbed it. Wow!  I’m really dead?”

Mike T.  “Yes, you are.  You died a few days ago and are still awakening.”

Mike S.  “Wow! Wow!”

Mike T.  “It’ll become clearer to you as you awaken.”

Mike S.  “How long does that usually take?”

Mike T.  “As we often discussed, Mike, time is different on this side, but in earth time it can be a few days or even years.  I can see from your energy field that you lived a good life and that means you should fully awaken shortly.  However, I do see a dark obstruction in your field that might delay things just a bit.”

Mike S.  What’s that?  You’re not talking about the library book I forgot to return, are you?”

Mike T.  “No, I’m referring to your having called Eusapia a cheater. You announced it to the world in one of your books.”

Mike S.  “Is that why I seem to be experiencing a nightmare here, continually hearing ‘Cheater! Cheater! Cheater!’ over and over again?”

Mike T.  “Yes, as you drift in and out of consciousness, you sometimes take on the identity of Eusapia and are now experiencing the woe that she experienced from your libellous and slanderous remarks.”

Mike S.  “But everything I read indicated that she did cheat.”

Mike T.  “Don’t you remember that we discussed this at Murphy’s over lunch?  I explained that the best observers questioned whether she was really cheating and believed that in the trance state the spirit controls were merely doing what was expected of them in carrying out certain phenomena.  These were primarily low-level spirits and didn’t really realize that they were making her appear to be cheating.”

Mike S.  “Are you telling me that is what actually happened?”

Mike T.  “Yes, that is what I have verified as fact since being here.”

Mike S.  “But how could you be so certain back then?”

Mike T.  “I wasn’t certain then, but when we don’t know things for sure, we need to be open-minded and not make hasty judgments that defame a person.  Like Lodge, Richet, Bottazzi, and even Professor James Hyslop, who probably understood the trance state better than anybody else, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  You sort of laughed it off and pretended to know more than the distinguished men who studied her under strictly controlled conditions.” 

Mike S.  “What’s the big deal?  She was already dead when I called her a cheater.”

Mike T.  “Death does not exist.  She was very much alive and suffered greatly by your remarks and those of others.  Defaming what you call a ‘dead’ person is no different than defaming what you call a ‘live’ person.  The hurt is much the same.  More than that, though, you misled others and retarded them in their attempts to understand.”

Mike S.  “Oh, I didn’t realize that.”

Mike T.   “I tried to get that over to you when you were in the unreal life, but pride and ego got in the way.  They are now responsible for those bad dreams you are having in which you become Eusapia.”

Mike S.  “Is there any way to stop them?”

Mike T.  “I am going to try to persuade Eusapia to come down here so that you can apologize to her.  I’ll be back.”

Mike S.  “You mean she is still around?”

Mike T. “She’s at a much higher vibration than we are here, but she can drop down here for a short period.  It’s sort of like trying to hold your breath under water when you were in the earth life. I don’t think she can stay long.”

Mike S.  “At what level are you?”

Mike T.  “Between this vibration and the one Eusapia is at.  Because of that I can hold my breath down here somewhat longer than she can.  Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically.”

Mike S.  “You seemed to be a pretty righteous guy when I knew you.  What kept you from advancing to Eusapia’s level?”

Mike T.  “I rented a Blockbuster video one time and let a friend borrow it after I saw it.  I cheated the system – two for the price of one. That cost me.”

Somewhat later:

Mike T.  “Mike, I’m back.”

Mike S.  “Great, but Eusapia has already paid me a visit and said she was not offended by my cheating allegations.  We had a great talk.”

Mike T.  “Sorry to inform you, Mike, but that was not Eusapia.  That was an impostor spirit trying to mislead you into thinking what you did is OK.  You know the old saying, ‘what goes around, comes around’.”

Mike S.  “Really?  So is the real Eusapia going to visit me?”

Mike T. “Not right now.  The Chief says you still have some purging to do, but you can shorten your time in Stuporland by returning to the earth life and making it known to your readers that there was absolutely no good evidence that Eusapia was a cheater. That should get you up to Summerland by tomorrow.”

Mike S. “How can I possibly do that from here?”

Mike T. “As I said, Mike, time is different here, so it has been arranged for you to go back to 2017 and make it clear to your many fans that Eusapia was a good woman and not a cheater.”

At this point in my dream I woke up and so I don’t know what happened after that.

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.


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Guarding Against Premature Cremation

Posted on 14 February 2017, 9:48

After recently rereading the account of Dr. George Rodonaia’s 1976 near-death experience, I paused to remind my wife that she should wait one week before having my remains cremated.  I hope that my consciousness will have separated from my physical body well before one week, within a day or two, but I see no reason to take any chances. 

Apparently, the KGB decided to eliminate Rodonaia, a Russian neuropathologist who had dissident views, and ran him down as he crossed the street. His death was confirmed at the hospital and his corpse was placed in cold storage.  When the autopsy began three days later, Rodonaia regained consciousness.  He first went out of body and saw his physical body lying in the morgue.  On top of that, however, he was able to “see” the thoughts and emotions of his wife, Nino, and of those who killed him.  After being revived physically and when able to speak again, he told his wife how he saw her picking out a gravesite for him.  But he also read her mind and saw that she was thinking about three different men as her next husband.  She even made a list of their qualities, pro and con.  When Rodonaia told Nino, who later confirmed it as accurate, of “seeing” all this, even reciting the list to her, she was totally shocked and kept her distance from him for a year as she felt she no longer had the privacy of her own mind. 

Rodonaia also recalled being drawn to a nearby hospital, where the wife of a friend had just given birth. With x-ray like eyes, he was able to see that the baby’s hip was broken during delivery when the attending nurse dropped the infant. When he came to, he alerted the doctors to the fracture.  They had the baby x-rayed and confirmed his diagnosis. 

The evidential parts are mentioned only to give some credibility to the story that he was “dead” for some three days before being revived, or at least they thought he was “dead.”
Whether he was clinically dead or not is irrelevant; the fact is they thought he was dead.  Numerous accounts of other people having come back to life have been reported, although nearly all of them are within a few hours of the supposed death.

Coincidentally, within a day of rereading the Rodonaia NDE, I was watching a segment of the British Midsomer Murders detective series in which a man was within seconds of being cremated alive.  It was chilling enough that I again reminded my wife to wait seven days. And then that same day, I came upon a Fox News Science item on the Internet, headlined, “2 days after death, some life continues in body.”

In his 1998 book, Light & Death, Michael Sabom, an Atlanta cardiologist, cites an article by Dr. Linda Emanuel, who comments that life and death are viewed as non-overlapping, dichotomous states, whereas in reality there is no threshold event that defines death. “Several scientific observations support Emanuel’s argument that loss of biologic life, including death of the brain, is a process and does not occur at a single, definite moment,” Sabom writes.  He goes on to mention that 10 organ donors diagnosed as “brain dead” showed an average increase in blood pressure of 31 millimeters of mercury and in heart rate of 23 beats per minute in response to surgical removal of the organs. He also refers to a study at Loyola University Medical Center in which it was found that 20 percent of patients diagnosed as brain dead had persisting EEG activity up to seven days after the initial diagnosis.

More recently, cardiologist Pim van Lommel, in his 2010 book, Consciousness Beyond Life, notes that when brain death has been diagnosed, 96 percent of the body is still alive. He further comments that most people are unaware that when an organ is removed from “dead” patients, it usually requires general anesthesia of the individual because of the so-called Lazarus syndrome – “violent reflexes by the certified dead organ donor.”

Of course, the concern here is whether the consciousness has separated itself from the body in spite of the persisting activity within the body.  If it has achieved separation, there seemingly should be no concern.  However, no medical doctor is qualified to say that consciousness has separated.

“The moral state of the soul is the condition which determines the ease, or the difficulty, with which the spirit disengages himself from his terrestrial envelope,” Allan Kardec, a pioneering French psychical researcher, wrote.

“The strength of the affinity between the body and perispirit (spirit body) is in the exact ratio of the spirit’s attachment to materiality; it is, consequently, at the maximum in the case of those whose thoughts and interests are concentrated on the earthly life and the enjoyment of material pleasures; it is almost null in the case of those whose soul has identified itself before with the spirit life.”

Various metaphysical teachings refer to “magnetic currents,” which should not be confused with the so-called silver cord, the connecting link between the physical body and the spirit body.  As I understand it, the silver cord will have been severed at the time of physical death, liberating the spirit body, but the magnetic currents can still keep the spirit body close to the physical body. Moreover, cremation does not undo the gravitational pull of a materialistic life, but it at least mitigates the pull.

As physicist James Beichler sees it in his 2008 book To Die For, when consciousness is less evolved and the mind is more focused on the material/physical world of common four-dimensional space-time alone, those making the transition from this life to the afterlife in the non-material but still physical five-dimensional space-time may be faced with a very big gap, thus not recognizing that they are dead.  If the person had achieved a higher level of consciousness while occupying the material/physical body, “then the mind would already have memories of five-dimensional experience and would then merge with less difficulty into its new state of being,” he explains, adding that this mind can remain stuck in its four-dimensional material reality without any real material existence because it does not have any reference points in the higher-dimensional non-material world. 

I read somewhere that Buddhists monks ask to wait three days before cremation. But when Sir Oliver Lodge, the renowned British physicist, asked his discarnate son Raymond about it, Raymond suggested seven days.  Raymond told his father that the body doesn’t start mortifying until the spirit has left it.  He went on to say that he had witnessed a scene several days earlier in which a man was going to be cremated two days after the doctor pronounced him dead.  “When his relatives on this side heard about it, they brought a certain doctor on our side, and when they saw that the spirit hadn’t got really out of the body, they magnetized it, and helped it out,” Raymond explained through Feda, Leonard’s control.  “But there was still a cord, and it had to be severed rather quickly, and it gave a little shock to the spirit, like as if you had something amputated.  But it had to be done.”  Raymond then suggested that there should be a seven-day waiting period before cremation.  “People are so careless,” he added. “The idea seems to be ‘hurry up and get them out of the way now that they are dead.”
Silver Birch, the eloquent and apparently “high” spirit who spoke through the entranced British medium Maurice Barbanell for some 50 years, was asked if cremation is the preferred method of disposal.  “Yes, always, because essentially it has the effect of putting an end to the idea that the spirit is the physical body,” Silver Birch replied.

“Cremation always means that the spirit entity looses certain chains that might otherwise tie him to earth,” a spirit entity known as White Feather, guide to the medium Thomas Wyatt, replied in response to a similar question put to him during a séance.

“By the use of fire, all forms are dissolved; the quicker the human physical vehicle is destroyed, the quicker is its hold upon the withdrawing soul broken,” medium Alice Bailey recorded what she came to understand from communication received. She added that mummifying, as practiced in Egypt, and of embalming, as practiced in the West, have been responsible for the perpetuation of the spirit body, sometimes for centuries in earth time, especially for those who of an evil nature.

Hopefully, three days is enough, but there is really nothing to lose in waiting seven days, except perhaps for extra storage charges. 

Next blog post: Feb. 27

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.



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Death and the Afterlife: Let us Persevere

Posted on 30 January 2017, 15:53

As a follow-up to my last blog post dealing with philistinism – our tendency to avoid talking about death and to seek a life of pleasure without any search for meaning, thereby leading to existential despair – I am going to let the world-renowned French astronomer Camille Flammarion (below) (1842-1925) have his say on the subject.  His words below are extracted and abridged from his 1922 book, Death and Its Mystery: Before Death.  Not much seems to have changed in the near hundred years since Flammarion penned his thoughts.


“Whether we face it boldly, or whether we avoid the image of it, Death is the supreme event of Life.  To be unwilling to consider it is a bit of childish silliness, as the precipice is before us and as we shall inevitably fall into it some day.  To imagine that the problem is insoluble, that we can know nothing about it and shall only be wasting our time if, with daring curiosity, we try to see clearly – that is an excuse dictated by a careless laziness and an unjustified timidity.

“It is hard not to desire an answer to the formidable question that presents itself when we think of our destiny, or when a cruel death has taken from us some one we love.  How is it possible not to ask whether or not we shall find each other again, or if the separation is for eternity? Does a Deity or Goodness exist? Do injustice and evil rule over the progress of humanity, with no regard for the feelings that nature has placed in our hearts? And what is this nature itself? Has it a will, an end? Could there be more intelligence, more justice, more goodness, and more inspiration in our infinitesimally small minds that in the great universe?  How many questions are associated with the same enigma!

“No thinking man can avoid being troubled in the hours of personal reflection by this question: ‘What will become of me?  Shall I die wholly?’

“There is no valid reason for not studying everything, for not submitting everything to the test of positive analysis, and we shall never know anything that we have not learned. If Theology has been mistaken in pretending that [the study of immortality] is reserved for her, Science has been equally mistaken in disdaining them as unworthy or foreign to her mission.  The problem of the immortality of the soul has not yet been solved in the affirmative, but neither has it yet been solved in the negative, as has sometimes been pretended.

“It is the general tendency to believe that the solution of the sphinx’s riddle of what lies beyond the grave is out of our reach, and that the human mind has not the power to pierce the mystery.  Nevertheless, what subject concerns us more closely, and how can we fail to be interested in our own lot?

“The persistent study of this great problem leads us to believe, to-day, that the mystery of death is less obscure and impenetrable than has been admitted hitherto, and that it may become clear to the mind’s eye by the light of certain actual experiments that were unknown half a century ago.  It ought not to surprise us to find psychical research associated with astronomical research.  It is the same problem.  The physical and moral world are one.  Astronomy has always been associated with religion.  The errors of that ancient science, which was founded on deceptive appearances, had their inevitable consequences in the erroneous beliefs of former days; the theological heaven must accord with the astronomical heaven under pain of collapse.  The duty of all honest men is to seek loyally after truth.

“We once affirmed things of which we were ignorant; we imposed silence upon all seekers.  This is what has above all retarded the psychic sciences.  Undoubtedly this study is not indispensable to a practical life.  Men in general are stupid.  Not one out of a hundred of them thinks.  They live on the earth without knowing where they are and without having the curiosity even to wonder.  They are brutes that eat, drink, enjoy themselves, reproduce their kind, sleep, and are occupied above everything in acquiring money. 

“The deplorable conditions of life on our planet, the obligation to eat, the necessities of material existence, explain the indifference to philosophy on the part of the earth’s inhabitants, without entirely excusing them; for millions of men and women find the time to indulge in futile amusements, to read newspapers and novels, to play cards, to occupy themselves with the affairs of others, to pass along the old story of the mote and the beam, to criticize and spy upon those about them, to dabble in politics, to fill the churches and the theaters, to support luxurious shops, to overwork the dressmakers and hatmakers, etc.

“Universal ignorance is the result of that miserable human individualism that is so self-sufficient.  The need of living by the spirit is felt by no one, or almost no one.  Men who think are the exception.  If these [psychical] researches lead us to employ our minds better, to find out what we are here to do, on this earth, we may be satisfied with this work; for truly, our life as human beings seems very obscure.

“The inhabitant of the earth is still so unintelligent, and so bestial that everywhere, even up to the present day, it is still might that makes right and upholds it; the leading statesman of each nation is still the Minister of War, and nine tenths of the financial wealth of the people is consecrated to periodic international butcheries.

“And Death continues to reign over the destinies of humanity! She is indeed the sovereign.  Her scepter has never exercised its controlling power with such ferocious and savage violence as in these last years.  By mowing down millions of men on the battlefield she has raised millions of questions to be addressed to Destiny.  Let us study it, this final end.  It is a subject well worthy of our attention.”

In his book, Death and Its Mystery: At the Moment of Death, also published in 1922, Flammarion discusses the strong evidence in favor of survival, stating that much discernment is necessary when examining it, but the cumulative evidence is convincing.  He writes:

“There are men who cannot be candid!  They would even be afraid to commit themselves by declaring that castor-oil is a laxative. There are limits to skepticism and incredulity.  Quibbling and the sophistries of the subtlest dialectic do not affect the existence of fact.

“Unfortunately, as a general thing, people of the upper classes – savants, scholars, artists, writers, judges, priests, physicians, etc. – maintain a discreet reserve, as though afraid to speak out.  They are less free, have their own interests to protect, and are silent while others talk.  Such faintheartedness, such cowardice, is absolutely despicable.  What is there to fear?  It is excusable to deny facts through ignorance.  But not to dare admit things seen – a sad state of affairs!

“There are other criminals besides those in prisons, namely cultivated men who know truths they do not venture to reveal, for reasons of personal interest, or for fear of ridicule.  In the course of my career I have met more than one of these ‘men of science,’ extremely intelligent, very learned, who have been witnesses of metaphysical phenomena beyond cavil, or who have grown aware of them – men who have no doubt of the undeniable existence of these phenomena, yet dare say nothing, through meanness unpardonable in minds of real worth.  Or else, from fear of being heard, they whisper, mysteriously, testimony which would be of considerable weight in the triumph of truth. Such men are unworthy of the name of savants.  Several of them belong to what is called ‘high society,’ and believe that they would lose credit by seeming over-credulous, although, on the other hand, they subscribe to debatable beliefs.

“A part of the clergy is hostile to [psychical research] and considers that the Church should monopolize such questions.  This point of view has come down from biblical times. The summoning of the dead was formally forbidden the Hebrews, and Saul violated his own decrees when he went to consult the witch of Endor and invoked the shade of the prophet Samuel.  Perhaps this interdiction was justifiable in the case of incompetent men of the humbler orders, who can so easily fall into the worst stupidities.  But in our day to forbid men who are learned, given to reflection, well balanced, to study these problems; to teach that they are not to use the reason God has given them, that they must humble this reason before the affirmations of a debatable divine revelation; to maintain that the question of the nature of the soul and of its survival, which interests so personally each one of us, must be reserved to a caste of casuists who appropriate for themselves the right to judge and to decide between the true and the false, between God and the devil – such is, indeed, a strange way of thinking, and an anachronism carrying us back to the middle ages. 

“This error is all the more inexplicable from the fact that the phenomena with which we are concerned support the stories of the sacred Scriptures, among other the apparitions of Jesus, unknown or denied by nine tenths of mankind. 

“There are men of worth among the observers: the names of Immanuel Kant, of Goethe, of Schopenhauer, of William Crookes, of Russel Wallace, of Oliver Lodge, of Edison, of Victor Hugo, of Victorien Sardou, of Lombroso, of William James, and of some others, are not negligible; there are observers of all sorts. [However, there are too many] men incapable of being convinced, despite the most evident proofs; worthy men, moreover, from other points of view, learned, agreeable, philanthropic, but whose mental eyes are constructed in such a way that they do not see straight before them.  (Hunters tell us it is the same with hares.)  Their eyes have a prism before the retina in place of the normal lens, and this prism distorts the rays by a few degrees, with refractions, which differ according to type.  This is not their fault.  It is not only that they do not wish to perceive the sun at high noon, but they cannot … Eyes are useless to a blind brain, say an Arabian proverb. 

“To have too much intellect is sometimes a hindrance to the simple comprehension of things as they are.  [In effect], we have against us, in our investigation, three kinds of adversaries, virtually unconquerable:  1) Those who make sport of everything, who are interested in nothing; 2) materialists convinced, on principle, that matter produces everything; 3) human beings confined within a narrow dogma, whatever their religion, sure of their beliefs and satisfied with them.  Those with knowledge of truth have always formed a minority, despite the most persevering efforts of free seekers. Let us persevere, however. The good seed will, at length, germinate.”

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:  Feb. 13      


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Will President Trump make us “One with our Toys”?

Posted on 16 January 2017, 9:21

As the United States prepares for a change of leadership, many people are still scratching their heads and wondering how Donald Trump, a man so seemingly unpresidential, at least in the more traditional or conventional ways, succeeded in the pursuit of the presidency.  The media claims that it is due to the anger of the voters – an anger said to be primarily the result of economic struggles by the working class.  However, I’m convinced that it goes much deeper than that, and it’s not something that presidents or politicians have much control over or understanding of.  It’s really existential despair that is manifesting itself.  To overcome this despair, people want change, but they really don’t grasp what that change should involve. In fact, the change they think they want conflicts with the change they really need.


I believe that Giambattista Vico, an 18th-century Italian philosopher, hit the nail squarely on the head when he wrote that men first feel necessity, then look for utility, followed by comfort, then pleasure, and finally luxury, after which they finally go mad – when “each man is thinking of his own private interests.”  In that pursuit of pleasure and luxury, there is, according to Vico, a certain social disconnection, which involves moral, intellectual, and spiritual decline. 


And that is where we now seem to be. At some point in the pursuit of pleasure and luxury, we became so consumed with our own immediate needs that we lost sight of the larger life.  Vico’s “madness” is really despair or hopelessness that results from a void in our spiritual lives.  In effect, in striving for greater pleasure and luxury, we became philistines – man striving to be “one with his toys,” while increasingly indifferent to matters of the spirit.  “Philistinism tranquilizes itself in the trivial, being equally in despair whether things go well or ill,” the existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard explained it, going on to say that many philistines don’t actually realize they are in despair, or if they do realize it they don’t understand what they are in despair about.  Neither do their psychiatrists, the politicians, or the journalists.   

“Despair over the earthly or over something earthly is really despair about the eternal and over oneself, in so far as it is despair,” Kierkegaard offered.  This is consistent with what anthropologist Ernest Becker had to say in his 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death, in which he asserted that death is the mainspring of human activity. “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” Becker said. To free oneself of death anxiety, Becker explained, nearly everyone chooses the path of repression.  We bury the anxiety deep in the subconscious and busy ourselves with our jobs, partake of certain pleasures, strut in our new clothes, show off our polished cars, jabber on our phones, hit little white balls into round holes, escape into fictitious stories in books, at the movies, and on television, idolize movie actors and athletes (people pretending to be real people and pretending to be real combatants), experience vicarious thrills at sporting events,  pursue material wealth, and seek a mundane security that we expect to continue indefinitely, all the while oblivious to the fact that in the great scheme of things such activities are exceedingly short-term and for the most part meaningless. 

As I infer from it all, when we get too much comfort, too much pleasure, too much luxury, as we embrace Epicureanism and hedonism, we begin to wonder what we can strive for next.  We begin fiddling as Nero did when Rome burned.

It has been suggested that sowing brings greater happiness than reaping, and we have reaped so much that we have become bored and depressed. Renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl referred to it as “mass neurotic syndrome” – the result of an “existential vacuum,” a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness. The more one seeks pleasure, Frankl observed, the more it eludes him. “Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect, or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree in which it is made a goal in itself.”  A human being, he continued, is not one in pursuit of happiness, but one in search of a reason to become happy. Self-actualization, he further opined, is possible only as a side effect of self-transcendence.

Pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote that most of his patients were non-believers, those who had lost their faith.  They were neurotics.  “They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking,” Jung wrote. “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon.  Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.  If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears. For that reason the idea of [spiritual] development was always of the highest importance to me.” 

Even Sigmund Freud, who was not spiritually inclined, was concerned that one’s attitude toward death has a bearing on his or her psychological health.  “Is it not for us to confess that in our civilized attitude toward death, we are once more living psychologically beyond our means, and must reform and give truth its due?” he asked. “Would it not be better to give death the place in actuality and in our thoughts which properly belongs to it, and to yield a little more prominence to that unconscious attitude towards death which we have hitherto so carefully repressed?”

Concomitant with the pursuit of pleasure and luxury is the glorification of the ego and with it a trickle-down narcissism effect.  “It’s not necessary for everyone, or even most people, to be narcissistic for materialism to increase in a society,” offer psychologists Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell in their book, The Narcissism Epidemic.  “Similar to the trends in vanity, narcissistic people begin materialistic trends that raise the standards for everyone else. They show off their possessions and make materialism cool through their charm and outgoing personalities.”  Twenge and Campbell cite various studies indicating that young people today are much more focused on “becoming well off financially” than earlier generations.  In one study, 93 percent of teenage girls said that shopping is their favorite activity.  Can there be any doubt that television and Internet commercials have been the primary instigators in this regard? 

If I am interpreting it all correctly, the conscious self wants pleasure and luxury, but the subconscious (the soul) wants peace of mind, and that comes only with seeing this life as a part of a much larger one.  Therein is the conflict that goes unrecognized by presidents, politicians, and the press. It is much easier for our politicians and the media to say that people are angry than to say they are in existential despair.  If they suggest that people are in such despair, they have to explain what they are in despair over.  It would not be politically, journalistically, or scientifically correct to say that their materialistic lifestyles have detracted from their spiritual values and pursuits and that they have lost sight of the larger life.  At least it would not be proper for our more left-wing subscribers to suggest such a thing, since it would give recognition to totally unscientific ideas.  If the more right-wingers were to suggest it, it would be seen as nothing more than religious fundamentalism and folly. It is so much simpler to blame it on anger over economic deprivations and social injustices than to say it results from the pursuit of pleasure and luxury, the very things we think we want.

It seems very unlikely, therefore, that President Trump will get us back on the right track. 

Next blog post:  January 30
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.


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“Soul Mist” – the Most Popular Subject

Posted on 02 January 2017, 11:05

Of the 160 posts at this blog since it moved to White Crow in April 2010 after several years at another site, the one with the most views was posted on October 4, 2010 and is titled “Strange Deathbed Mist and Light Explained.”  The subject was also dealt with in my post of June 11, 2012 (click here and scroll down).  Based on the comments left at the two posts, I gather that people who have experienced something mysterious at deathbeds begin searching the Internet for some explanation and find their way to those posts, especially that of 2010.  A number of them have told of their experience in the comments section.

As discussed in those two previous blog posts, many people have observed a strange mist over a deathbed, often at the time the person departs the physical body.  “Some say that it looks like smoke, while others say it is as subtle as steam,” Dr. Raymond Moody (below) wrote in his 2010 book, Glimpses of Eternity. “Sometimes it seems to have a human shape.  Whatever the case, it usually drifts upward and always disappears quickly.”  Moody also wrote of people seeing unusual light in the room.


In their excellent 2008 book, The Art of Dying, Dr. Peter Fenwick, a renowned British neuropsychiatrist, and Elizabeth Fenwick also discuss the “smoke,” “grey mist,” or “white mist” which leaves the body at death.  “Sometimes it will hover above the body before rising to disappear through the ceiling, and it is often associated with love, light, compassion, purity, and occasionally with heavenly music,” they write, adding that not everyone who is in the room sees it.

In his 1970 book, Out of the Body Experiences, Dr. Robert Crookall quotes Dr. R. B. Hout, a physician, who was present at the death of his aunt.  “My attention was called…to something immediately above the physical body, suspended in the atmosphere about two feet above the bed.  At first I could distinguish nothing more than a vague outline of a hazy, fog-like substance.  There seemed to be only a mist held suspended, motionless.  But, as I looked, very gradually there grew into my sight a denser, more solid, condensation of this inexplicable vapor.  Then I was astonished to see definite outlines presenting themselves, and soon I saw this fog-like substance was a assuming a human form.”

Such misty vapors and “lights” around the deathbed have been reported by other researchers, including Dr. Bernard Laubscher, a South African psychiatrist.  “I was told by different ‘Tant Sannies’ (caregivers) how while watching at the bedside of the dying one with one or two candles burning they had seen the formation of a faint vaporous body, an elongated whitish purplish-like cloud; parallel with the dying person and about two feet above the body,” Laubscher wrote in a 1975 book, Beyond Life’s Curtain.  “Gradually this cloudlike appearance became denser and took on the form, first vaguely and then more definitely, of the person in the bed.  This process continued until the phantom suspended above the body was an absolute replica of the person, especially the face.”

As Laubscher came to understand it, the vaporous material has the same makeup as ectoplasm, the mysterious substance given off by physical mediums before materializations.  It acts as sort of a “glue” in bonding the physical body with the spirit body, and the more materialistic a person the denser the ectoplasm and the more difficulty the person has in “giving up the ghost.”  Ectoplasm has also been referred to as teleplasm, psychoplasm and psychic force. 

Soul mist and ectoplasm may very well be the same thing that German chemist Baron Karl von Reichenbach (1788-1869) called odic force, or just od, or odyle. As I discussed in the November/December issue of Atlantis Rising magazine, it may have been the most important discovery in the history of mankind – a “life principle” that permeates all living things.  It has been likened to the prana of the ancient Hindus, the vis medicatrix naturae of Hippocrates, the mana of Polynesian culture, the chi of the Chinese, the astral light of the Kabbalists, the telesma of Hermes Trismegistus, the magnetic fluid of Mesmer, and the orogone energy of Reich. 

While Reichenbach was well respected in the scientific world, having discovered paraffin and creosote, and was considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of meteorites, his findings on od were rejected, even ridiculed, by mainstream science when first published in 1845, and they are forgotten or ignored today.

Reichenbach’s research involved studying a number of “sensitives” – people who today might be called clairvoyants or clairsentients – it did not include any kind of “spirit” intervention.  It focused on “mind-over-matter” tasks, such as identifying objects in a dark room, dowsing for water in an open field, and moving the needle of a compass without touching it – activities outside the normal five senses and in defiance of known science, what modern-day parapsychologists refer to as extra-sensory perception or ESP.

If soul mist, ectoplasm, and odic force are, in fact, one and the same thing or are related, they take on, as Moody reported, various densities – from a misty vapor to a foamy or slimy substance looking like shaving soap – flowing from one of the orifices of a so-called “medium” in an entranced state – from the mouth, ears, nostrils, vagina and even the pores.  Some of the photos show what are claimed to be materialized human forms – occasionally just a face or an arm – forming within the ectoplasm.

If we are to believe the debunkers and skeptics, ectoplasm is nothing more than cheesecloth stuffed into one or more of the cavities of the body and then regurgitated at an opportune time, the sole purpose being to dupe those present.  However, it is difficult to imagine cheesecloth being stuffed into the pores of the skin or in the nostrils or ears and then extruded from those orifices, then flowing on the floor.  (See photo of ectoplasm flowing from medium Kathleen Goligher as photographed by Dr. William J. Crawford, below).


It was Professor Charles Richet, the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1913 for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substance, who gave the name “ectoplasm” (exteriorized plasma) to the substance. “The word ‘ectoplasm,’ which I invented for the experiments with Eusapia (Paladino), seems entirely justified,” he wrote, explaining that it is a kind of gelatinous protoplasm, formless at first, that exudes from the body of the medium, and takes form later.  “In the early stages there are always white veils and milky patches and the faces, fingers, and drawings are formed little by little in the midst of this kind of gelatinous paste that resembles moist and sticky muslin.”

Richet mentioned that there are stages in the materialization process.  “[First,] a whitish steam, perhaps luminous, taking the shape of gauze or muslin, in which there develops a hand or an arm that gradually gains consistency.  This ectoplasm makes personal movements.  It creeps, rises from the ground, and puts forth tentacles like an amoeba.  It is not always connected with the body of the medium but usually emanates from her, and is connected with her.”  The flat materializations, which skeptics pointed to as obvious evidence of fraud, came, Richet explained, in the rudimentary phase, a sort of rough draft in the phase of building up.

That ectoplasm is a scientific fact, Richet had no doubt, though he called it “absurd.”  “Spiritualists have blamed me for using this word ‘absurd’ and have not been able to understand that to admit the reality of these phenomena was to me an actual pain,” he explained his position. “But to ask a physiologist, a physicist, or a chemist to admit that a form that has a circulation of blood, warmth, and muscles, that exhales carbonic acid, has weight, speaks, and thinks, can issue from a human body is to ask of him an intellectual effort that is really painful.  Yes, it is absurd, but no matter – it is true.”

A century after Richet’s discoveries, mainstream science still laughs at it all.  How sad! 

Next blog post:  January 16

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.


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Was it really the spirit of President Lincoln?

Posted on 19 December 2016, 18:14

A recent Travel Channel program discussed the purported spirit photo taken by medium William Mumler sometime in 1871, showing what appears to be the spirit of Abraham Lincoln standing behind his widow Mary Lincoln, (below) his hands resting on her shoulders.

There is a very vague image of a second spirit believed to be that of Tad, the Lincolns’ deceased son, standing to the left of his father. The concluding remarks of the television commentator were to the effect that Mumler was likely a fraud, superimposing a negative of Lincoln onto the negative of Mary’s sitting. 


As might be expected, Wikipedia and several other web sites fully support the television commentator in making Mumler out to be a fraud or trickster.  Wikipedia calls upon Joe Nickell as an authority on the subject – a man not born until some 60 years after Mumler’s death.  Nickell and others offer some hearsay “evidence” in support of Mumler being a trickster, no doubt about it. 

I admit to being skeptical, but as I now see it, the evidence favoring Mumler is more credible and outweighs the testimony against him. “Of course, the many believed Mr. Mumler an impostor, but no evidence of this was ever adduced, and now, after a lapse of years, we cannot learn that any one who knows him personally can harbor a doubt of his honesty,” wrote Epes Sargent, one of the leading psychical researchers and authors of the nineteenth century.  He quotes William Guay, an experienced photographer from New York, who closely investigated Mumler, and observed the photographic process from beginning to end.  Guay had his own photo taken and was astonished when he saw two photos come out of the developing process, one of his wife and one of his father.  “It is impossible,” Guay is quoted, “for Mr. Mumler to have procured any pictures of my wife and father.  The likeness of my father is clear and perfect; that of my wife is not.”

According to Sargent, most of the spirits in Mumler’s photos were vague and not always recognized by the sitter.  Such imperfect photos led to the charges of fraud, but as anyone who has studied mediumship with an open mind knows, the quality of a phenomenon varies significantly and is usually due to the inability of the communicating spirit to effectively project his or her thought or image through the veil separating the earth vibration from the spirit world vibration, though at times it is due to the medium not being powerful enough support a spirit’s attempt to communicate or materialize.  In the materialization phenomenon, there were a few who could project near perfect likenesses of themselves into the ectoplasm produced by the medium and many others who failed badly, sometimes looking more like mannequins or carnival dolls than real people.  Many could not materialize at all. It follows that in spirit photography some would be of good quality and others of poor quality, probably most of poor quality. 

“I expressed a doubt of the genuineness of the spirit-photographs got through Mr. Mumler, of Boston,” Sargent wrote.  “My doubt was founded on words of his own, reported to me by hearers whose good faith I could not question.  When taunted with trickery he had replied without resentment in language that left the impression that he was not guiltless.  I am now convinced that the impression did him injustice.  He knew that serious denial would be of no avail, and so he parried the chaffing of skeptics with words that were misinterpreted.”  (Like, “Sure, it’s all a trick, if that is what you want to believe and if it makes you feel better.”) 

Sargent also reported that a photographer named Gurney followed Mumler step-by-step through the whole photographic and developing process and was likewise convinced that no trickery was involved. 

Dr. James Coates reported on a number of spirit photographers in his 1911 book, “Photographing the Invisible.”  He recorded that other reputable photographers were called in to observe Mumler and expose him, but none of them detected fraud. He also mentions that Mr. P.V. Hickey of the New York World attempted to expose Mumler as a fraud and succeeded in having him prosecuted, since the photo he received was “a dim, indistinct outline of a ghostly face staring out of one corner.”  Mumler identified it as the man’s father-in-law, but Hickey claimed it was neither his father-in-law nor anyone else he knew. 

One of many witnesses testifying on behalf of Mumler in the criminal action was John W. Edmonds, former chief justice of the New York State Supreme Court, who said he knew many people who had visited Mumler “with astonishing success in procuring spirit pictures of departed friends.”  Also testifying for Mumler was C. F. Livermore, a prominent lawyer, who said that he saw two spirit figures on a photograph taken of him, one of which he recognized and the other which he did not recognize.  Livermore had a number of other sittings with Mumler, some resulting in failures, some in shadowy backgrounds, but one which he clearly recognized.  Based on the testimony of Edmonds, Livermore and others, Mumler was exonerated.

Coates reports that Mrs. Lincoln went to Mumler anonymously and with a veil over her face, giving her name as Mrs. Tyndall (although it is otherwise reported she gave the name Lindall).  Mumler claims he did not know who she was and even when he showed the print to Mrs. Lincoln he did not recognize the spirit figure as President Lincoln.  But there are many unanswered questions regarding the Lincoln image, including: 

1. Did Mumler even know that Mary Lincoln was visiting Boston at the time?  Could someone have tipped him off to Mrs. Lincoln’s intended visit from her home in Springfield, Illinois, so that he could have somehow acquired a negative of President Lincoln? 

2. Can we assume that Mumler was truthful in saying he did not recognize Mary Lincoln?  Mumler apparently photographed her seven years earlier when she visited Boston while still living in the White House.  However, she understandably appears to have aged more than seven years and is more plump and homely in the 1971 photograph. It needs to be kept in mind that this was for the most part before photo journalism and we cannot assume that people were reminded daily of what a president’s wife looked like, as we are today by newspapers and television.  Portrait photography did not become popular until the 1850s and only a few portraits of Mary Lincoln existed at the time.   

3. Did Mumler have a negative of Abraham Lincoln available to superimpose on the negative with Mary Lincoln?  If so, where did he get it?  This was at a time when such negatives and photos were likely not readily available.  Should we assume that Mumler kept stock negatives and photos of many famous people in case relatives showed up for photographs?  It was reported that Mumler did not do his own developing at the time and Mary Lincoln returned three days later to pick up the photograph, certainly enough time for Mumler to have somehow come up with an image of the sixteenth president.  One must wonder why he did his own developing for William Guay and Gurney, but sent the plates out for developing to an independent contractor with Mrs. Lincoln. Perhaps his business had picked up so much by 1971 that it was more profitable to have others do the developing and printing for him, giving him time for more portraits.   

4.  Has a photo of Lincoln in that particular pose ever been identified?  As near as I can determine, none has.  An argument can be made that it is not clearly the former president and that Mumler had stock negatives of many people, including at least one of a person resembling Lincoln.  Then again, we know from the materialization phenomenon that spirits tend to project more idealized images of themselves and at times don’t recall exactly what they looked like when in the earth life and thus sometimes project images that are not recognized by living relatives.  Several spirit messages coming through credible mediums indicate that spirits had to return to their old homes to view photographs of themselves to remind themselves of what they looked like before being able to project their images into ectoplasm and thereby materialize.  Many people who lived before photography didn’t really have a fixed image of themselves to grab on to in projecting an image for materialization or for a photographic plate.  (Would you know what you looked like at age seven if you had never seen a photograph of yourself as a child?)

5. What about all the quality spirit photos produced by Mumler, as noted by Judge Edmonds and others?  How did Mumler acquire the photos of deceased relatives and friends?  Did he know the people were coming to his studio beforehand, then break into their homes and steal photos from the mantel?  Did he have a portable copying machine to reproduce the photo and return it to its frame so that the customer would not have been suspicious?  Again, this was during the 1860s and 1870s, long before copying machines existed?  (I first saw a copying machine in 1962, and that produced only wet copies that had to be hung up with clothes pins to dry.) 

The Wallace Spirit Photos

Should we also assume that Alfred Russel Wallace, the biologist who was co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, was easily duped?  On March 14, 1874, Wallace visited a professional photographer in England with Mrs. Guppy, a medium and personal friend, in hopes of obtaining a spirit photo.  In the first photo, a half-figure of a man holding a sword appeared.  Wallace could not identify the man.  In the second photo, a full-length figure appeared looking down at him while holding a bunch of flowers. The third plate showed a female figure right in front of him. “I saw all the plates developed, and in each case the additional figure started out the moment the developing fluid was poured on, while my portrait did not become visible till, perhaps twenty seconds later,” Wallace reported. “I recognized none of these figures in the negatives, but the moment I got the proofs, the first glance showed me that the third plate contained an unmistakable portrait of my mother – like her in both features and expression, not such a likeness as a portrait taken during life, but a somewhat pensive, idealized likeness – yet still, to me, an unmistakable likeness.”

Wallace and Mother

Wallace still was unable to identify the swordsman in the first photo, but the second photo, while somewhat indistinct, also appeared to be his mother.  He showed the two photos to his sister and she agreed. “How these two figures, with these special peculiarities of a person totally unknown to [the photographer] could appear on his plates, I should be glad to have explained,” Wallace wrote.  “Even if he had by some means obtained possession of all the photographs ever taken of my mother, they would not have been of the slightest use to him in the manufacture of these pictures.  I see no escape from the conclusion that some spiritual being acquainted with my mother’s various aspects during life, produced these recognizable impressions on the plate.  That she herself still lives and produced these figures may not be proved; but it is a more simple and natural explanation to think that she did so, than to suppose that we are surrounded by beings who carry out an elaborate series of impostures for no apparent purpose than to dupe us into a belief in a continued existence after death.”  Wallace stressed that he was in the dark room when the plates were developed and saw the images take form.
What can we believe?  Can we even believe in evolution as advanced by Darwin and Wallace?  Take a look at Keith Parson’s latest you-tube before answering that one.  It can be found here.

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:  January 2

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Life After Death: If I could keep only 30 books

Posted on 05 December 2016, 9:34

After reading my last blog post about the mediumship and psychical research of yesteryear and why I value it so highly, a friend suggested that I recommend books from that era.  I started to make a list of my “Top 10” books before 1950 once before, but never quite finished it because I quickly realized that the books vary so much that I had to categorize them and come up with several lists.  There are those that offer evidence, those that offer afterlife experiences and some that provide a combination of both.  The most informative books are not always the most interesting books and the most interesting or entertaining book are not necessarily the most informative.  As I started making my lists, I realized that there was much overlap in the categories and wasn’t sure which list a particular book belonged on.  So I abandoned my attempt to come up with several lists.

Recently, however, my wife and I were thinking about downsizing from a house to a condominium.  It became obvious that storage in the condo would be a problem and that there would be no space for my thousand or more books.  That got me to thinking if I had to get rid of all my old books, maybe keeping just 30 of them from before 1950, enough to fill two shelves, which ones I would keep. For what it’s worth, here is my list in order of preference.  Many of these books are still available at such places as, and reproductions of several are available right here at White Crow, as indicated with an asterisk. 

1.  Glimpses of the Next State: The Education of an Agnostic, by William Usborne Moore (1911)*  – Moore a retired British Navy admiral, explores the world of mediumship in both Great Britain and the United States, witnessing some of the best mediums of his time.  He comes to understand why the non-believers don’t get it. 

2. Forty Years of Psychic Research by Hamlin Garland (1936) – It’s really a toss-up between this book and Moore’s book for number one. Garland, a Pulitzer Prize winner, witnessed mediums of all types, physical and mental, and a combination of both, and presents it all in a manner that is quite convincing.

3. The Voices by William Usborne Moore (1913)* – This is a sequel to number one above, focusing on the direct-voice mediumship of Etta Wriedt, possibly the best medium on record.  The person who can’t accept Moore’s accounts of Wriedt will never accept anything.

4.  The Mystery of the Buried Crosses by Hamlin Garland (1939)* – A mind-boggling search, as directed by spirits through a medium, for artifacts buried in California by Indians. 

5.  Psychic Adventures in New York by Neville Whymant (1931)* – The author, a skeptical professor of linguistics who speaks 30 languages, communicates with spirits in 14 different languages, including Chinese.  Short but powerful! 

6. The Case of Patience Worth by Walter Franklin Prince (1927) – This is a comprehensive report on the investigation of medium Pearl Curran and the entity calling herself Patience Worth, who dictated many books, poems, and aphorisms through Curran.

7.  On the Cosmic Relations by Henry Holt (1914)  – Two volumes with 988 pages covering the early research of the Society for Psychical Research, including the American branch, with much focus on the research involving Leonora Piper and the research of Richard Hodgson.

8. Raymond or Life and Death by Sir Oliver Lodge (1916) – A distinguished physicist tells of his many contacts with his son Raymond, who died on the WWI battlefield, through several mediums.  This was a best-seller in its day.

9. There is No Death by Florence Marryat (1891) – A renowned British author reports on her investigation of mediums, mostly physical mediums with many materializations of deceased loved ones. 

10.  Spiritualism by John Edmonds and George T. Dexter, M.D. (1853) – A New York Supreme Court judge and a physician investigate mediumship and become mediums themselves.  Much wisdom comes from the spirits of Emanuel Swedenborg and Francis Bacon in two volumes and more than a thousand pages.

11.  Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature, by James H. Hyslop, Ph.D., LL.D.  (1918) – Professor Hyslop was probably the most knowledgeable psychical researcher ever.  He discusses evidence and the obstacles to understanding and accepting the evidence.

12. The Spirits’ Book, by Allan Kardec (1857) – Much communication from the spirit world as to how things work on their side and how spirits interact with us.

13. Spirit Teachings, by William Stainton Moses (1883) and More Spirit Teachings (1892) – An Anglican priest reluctantly becomes a medium and gives us even more clues as to how things work on the Other Side.

14. The Widow’s Mite and Other Psychic Phenomena, by Isaac Funk (1904) – A famous publisher investigates mediumistic phenomena and turns up some startling evidence. 

15. Dawn of the Awakened Mind, by John S. King, M.D. (1920) – A Canadian physician witnesses some amazing phenomena. 

16. The Road to Immortality, by Geraldine Cummins (1932) – Frederic W. H. Myers, a pioneer of psychical research, communicates via automatic writing as to what he has experienced since his death in 1901.

17.  Experiments in Psychical Science, by W. J. Crawford, D.Sc. (1919) – This book and three others by Crawford explain what physical mediumship is all about. 

18. Science and a Future Life, by James H. Hyslop, Ph.D., LL.D. (1905) – Professor Hyslop’s first book tells of his earliest experiences in psychical research as well as those of Richard Hodgson.

19. Personality Survives Death, by Florence Barrett, M.D. (1937) – Sir William Barrett, one of the pioneers of psychical research communicates with his widow through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, explaining the difficulties he has in communicating and what life on his side is like. 

20. The Betty Book, by Stewart Edward White (1937) – Betty White tells of her development as a medium between 1919 and 1936 and takes excursions into the world of other-consciousness. 

21.  The Unobstructed Universe, by Stewart Edward White (1940) – Betty White transitions and begins communicating from the Other Side. 

22.  Thirty Years of Psychical Research, by Charles Richet, Ph.D. (1923) – A Nobel Prize winner reports on his investigation of various mediums, including Eusapia Paladino.

23. Letters from a Living Dead Man, by Elsa Barker (1915)* – A deceased California judge reports on his new life on the Other Side.

24.  On the Edge of the Etheric, by Arthur Findlay (1931) – A British businessman investigates mediumship and discovers the key to what awaits all after physical death.

25.  From Matter to Spirit: The Result of Ten Years’ Experience in Spirit Manifestations by Sophia Elizabeth De Morgan (1863)  – The author and her husband, Augustus De Morgan, a world famous mathematician and logician, report on their investigation of mediumship and other psychic phenomena.

26.  The Book on Mediums, by Allan Kardec (1874) – Kardec provides much detail on how mediumship works.

27. Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations, by Robert Hare (1855) – A University of Pennsylvania chemistry professor sets out to debunk mediums, only to discover many genuine mediums and become a medium himself.

28.  Perspectives in Psychical Research, by Alfred Russel Wallace (1875) – Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, investigates mediumship and discovers it is real.

29.  Towards the Stars, by H. Dennis Bradley (1924) – A popular British playwright investigates mediums and communicates with his deceased sister and many others.

30.  The Boy Who Saw True, by Cyril Scott (1953) – This one exceeds the 1950 cutoff date by three years, but it is close enough that I have to list it, since it is the most entertaining of them all. 

All that said, we decided against downsizing for now and so I get to keep all my books.

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.

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15 Reasons Why We Keep Reinventing the Wheel?

Posted on 21 November 2016, 10:23

Every now and then, someone asks why I write so much about the mediumship and psychical research of a hundred or more years ago and not more about the research going on today.  I explain that I believe the mediumship of old was much more dynamic than that of today and that the research carried out by a number of distinguished scientists and scholars of yesteryear offers evidence that is far superior to that being developed today.  As evidential as it was, it was pretty much ignored back then and it has been filed away in dust-covered cabinets so that very few people today are aware of it.  Even many modern day parapsychologists are unaware of much of it.

Many who are aware of the old research don’t understand it because of its complexities.  It is like a one-thousand word jigsaw puzzle; the picture doesn’t begin to take shape until about 80 percent the pieces are in place and it is not fully appreciated until the puzzle is completed.  Most people don’t go beyond the marginal pieces before concluding that it is too difficult and then giving up on it.     

That is not to suggest that the little research going on today with clairvoyants or the research in the area of the near-death experience hasn’t added to the evidence or is not of value, only that it is for the most part reinventing the wheel.  The old research produced a solid wheel, but the newer research has tightened the spokes. Further, today’s research is much more meaningful if one first digests and understands the old research. 

So why wasn’t the old research more widely accepted when it was developed and why is it ignored today?  The answer is not a simple one.  As I see it, there are 15 basic reasons for its rejection and the current ignorance of it:

1.  Religious Fundamentalism:  Most of orthodox religion saw mediumship as a demonic practice, based primarily on misinterpreted passages in the Old Testament, such as Deuteronomy 18:12 and Ecclesiastes 9:5.  Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that some messages coming through mediums conflicted with various Church dogma and doctrine.  The position of orthodoxy remains much the same today as it was in the days of the pioneers of psychical research, thereby discouraging people who accept survival on nothing more than blind faith from moving on to true faith or conviction. 

2. Scientism (Scientific Fundamentalism):  The evidence for survival was ignored or scoffed at by “mainstream” scientists and referred to as pseudo science because it challenged the materialistic worldview that had been accepted by so many “intelligent” men and women who had dedicated themselves to scientific inquiry and advancement, beginning with the Age of Reason and later strongly reinforced by Darwinism.  In effect, the acceptance of a “spiritualistic” worldview was seen as a return to the superstitions and follies of religion, and sanctioning it would have destroyed the foundation of the materialistic/mechanistic worldview and leave the majority of respected scientists and rational thinkers, especially professors who championed the materialistic worldview in academic institutions, embarrassed and humiliated.  Little has changed in this regard.  In effect, psychical research, what is left of it, was and still is caught between a rock and a hard place – between Religion and Science, leaving very few independent and open-minded people to examine, consider and appreciate the best evidence. 

3.  Media Bias & Ignorance: Journalists like to think of themselves as intelligent investigators and so naturally align themselves with Science.  At the same time, exposing shams and fraudulent schemes lends itself to sensationalism and makes for good copy.  Then, as now, the media frequently addressed any subject involving spirits as “woo-woo” stuff while putting a humorous or cynical twist of one kind or another on any story suggesting spirits of the dead.  In addition, today’s television producers don’t understand the “balance” issue.  When a researcher validates a medium, the producers seem to think they have to get a debunker involved in the program to counter the researcher, not taking into account the fact that the researcher has already dealt with and discounted the skeptical arguments. 

4. Fear:  Indications are that many scientists and scholars were invited by researchers to observe certain mediums, but some feared for their reputation if word were to get out that they were “dabbling in the occult” and therefore refused.  There were a number, however, who accepted the invitations and observed genuine phenomena, but, with the same fears, they remained silent, not offering support for the more courageous researchers.  Sir David Brewster, a famous nineteenth century physicist known especially for his contributions to the optics field, is said to have witnessed D. D. Home, one of the most famous physical mediums of his time, being levitated (lifted by spirits).  Although seemingly quite impressed at the time, he later concluded that the only explanation was a trick he did not understand, or a delusion.  “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to,” he was quoted.  Such a mindset continues to exist.

5.  Machismo:  Various history books suggest that men of a century ago looked upon spiritual beliefs as a “woman thing.”  Men smoked cigars, drank whiskey, fought in wars, governed countries and managed businesses.  Religion had been impeached and such dreamy foolishness as spirits and angels was best left to the ladies.  A man’s afterlife was his legacy of earthly accomplishments and he was expected to greet his extinction with a stiff upper lip.  While women have significantly closed the gender gap since the Victorian era, machismo still seems to play a part in spiritual beliefs, as various surveys indicate that women are more inclined, generally, to believe in God and an afterlife than men. 

6.  The Causality Dilemma:  The religionist, the scientist, the media and the general public all seem to assume that we must come up with proof of God before dealing with the survival issue.  No God, no afterlife, is the atheist’s illogical reasoning. It is a deductive approach.  The inductive approach of first looking at the evidence for survival might lead one to believe in a God, whether anthropomorphic (humanlike) or some abstract form of cosmic consciousness, but a belief in the survival of consciousness does not require that one begin with a belief in God. 

7.  Too Much Variety:  There were and are many different kinds of mediumship, basically falling in three categories – physical, mental and a combination of the two.  The physical mediumship of yesteryear included full materializations of spirit forms, partial materializations, e.g., a hand only, a face only, apports and levitations, while the mental type included tilting and turning tables, the Ouija board,  trance-voice, direct-voice, direct writing, automatic writing and slate writing.  There were mediums who were proficient at one kind and had no ability in other kinds. There were simply too many variables for the few researchers to deal with.  They focused more on the trance mental mediumship.  It was all just too bizarre and unworldly for most people.  Today’s debunkers claim that the very fact we don’t have or hear about so much variety today is because it was all bunk. 
There are, however, a number of reasons to explain why it is not as dynamic today as it was then, but that is the subject of a future blog. 

8.  Semantics Issues:  A recent Internet news source discussed modern television ghost hunters, people who go around haunted houses and graveyards looking for cold spots and energy fields, as being like the pioneering psychical researchers.  However, there is as much similarity between the two as there is between croquet players and professional baseball players.  Most people don’t know the difference between a psychic and a medium and they lump gypsy fortune tellers, tarot card readers, witch doctors, astrologers, psychics and mediums all together.  If they can’t predict the winner of the upcoming derby or come up with the winning lottery number, they must be frauds.  The only mediums they know about are the clairvoyants they have seen on television.

9.  Fraud: As the Spiritualism epidemic of the late nineteenth century grew, so did the number of charlatans – people pretending to have mediumistic ability by employing various tricks.  Even some legitimate mediums are said to have turned to tricks when their powers failed them in order to not disappoint those present.  Many magicians, including the great Houdini, came forward to explain how certain phenomena “could have” or “might have” been accomplished by clever sleight of hand or other deception. While Professor William James of Harvard said that Leonora Piper was his “one white crow,” the one who proved that all crows aren’t black, the more skeptical mind reasoned the other way: one black crow proved that all crows are black. 

10.  The Roving Subconscious:  A goodly number of the pioneers of psychical research came to believe in the reality of psychic phenomena but remained skeptical on the survival and spirit issues.  They hypothesized that a “secondary personality” buried in the medium’s subconscious telepathically picked up the thoughts of the sitters, somehow processed those thoughts, and intelligently communicated information as if it were coming from a deceased person.  When information came through unknown to the sitters, the researchers speculated that the medium could tap into the minds of anyone in the world, referring to this form of advanced telepathy as teloteropathy.  When that didn’t completely explain it, they further speculated that there is some kind of “cosmic reservoir” from which the medium’s subconscious can access information.  Later researchers bundled it all up and called it superpsi.  But the most experienced psychical researchers ruled it out as there was too much personality and too much volition to dismiss it as anything other than spirit communication. Moreover, the pioneering researchers could see no logical reason why these so-called secondary personalities of mediums from different continents would all pretend to be spirits of the dead.  How did all these secondary personalities collaborate in this worldwide deception? To what end?

11.  Harmony & Impatience: The early history of mediumship clearly indicates the need for harmony in mediumistic settings. Many are the reports in which those sitting with a medium would sing or pray in order to establish the necessary harmonious conditions.  In order to produce phenomena, the spirits are said to have required the medium to be in a passive state, one apparently best achieved with music and prayer.  Some mediums could achieve the required state within a few minutes, but there were times when it took an hour or longer for anything to happen and there were many times when a proven medium simply couldn’t produce at all on a particular night because the conditions weren’t right or she had too much nervous energy holding her back. Negativity by the observers defeated good results.  Some observers who got nothing on the medium’s bad night wrote off the person as a fraud and indications are that many true mediums were so disparaged. 

12.  Too Hokey:  So much of physical mediumship seemed weird and exceeded the boggle threshold of nearly everyone.  Some materializations looked like mannequins or dummies; some were flat; some didn’t look like the person he or she claimed to have been.  Often, there was only a face or a hand.  The fact that most mediums required darkness added to the belief that it was all fraudulent.  Even many of the researchers who accepted mental mediumship had a difficult time accepting physical mediumship.  But those who stuck with it long enough came to understand what the problems are.  So much of it is imperfect thought-projection from the spirit world, while much also depends on the strength of the medium to produce the necessary odic force, or ectoplasm. 

13.  Too Much Gibberish:  Even with the best of mediums, there was much vagueness and ambiguity, even gibberish, in the communication.  Skeptics saw all this as evidence that the so-called mediums were charlatans, as they assumed that if spirits really exist they should be able to communicate in a much more intelligent and effective manner. But, as the more experienced researchers came to understand, the subconscious of the medium is a factor and often distorts the message as it is filtered through her or his brain.  Also, sprits themselves are limited in their ability to effectively communicate.  It takes much practice on their side and development on our side.  Here again, much of the communication was by thought-projection and symbolic, thus resulting in different interpretations.  Often, low-level spirits got involved and completely muddled the communication.

14.  Trivialities:  Many of the early researchers, including William James, wondered why so much of what came through mediums was of such a trivial nature, like what happened to Uncle George’s watch or the location of a birthmark.  Why didn’t they talk about the nature of reality, what it is like on their side of the veil, etc.?  The fact is that much of the early communication did address more profound subjects.  The writings of Judge John Edmonds, Dr. George Dexter, Professor Robert Hare, Educator Allan Kardec, and Rev. William Stainton Moses offer very comprehensive reports on the greater reality,  but it was not evidential.  It was the trivial message that was evidential. 

15. False Assumptions: The assumption seems to be that spirits, if they exist, are all equal in the “heaven” of orthodox religion, and are “all-knowing” and therefore they should all agree with each other. The fact that they disagree on some things, especially on the subject of reincarnation, suggests fraud.  However, as the pioneering researchers came to understand, spirits are at different levels of advancement, some not knowing any more now than they did when alive in the flesh.  Moreover, low-level spirits find it easier to communicate with us because they are closer in vibration to humans than the advanced spirits.  At the lowest levels, the spirits don’t really know how little they know and therefore often give incorrect information.  It has been likened to an alien from another planet landing in the jungles of New Guinea and reporting back home that humans are all very primitive in their ways.

In conclusion, to borrow from Stewart Edward White, a renowned author from the early twentieth century, the spirits showed us much of the landscape they traverse and provided us with a “highway going on for eternity.”  And although we cannot discern the end of the Road, “we are able to make out, through the mists, at the least the lay of the land” through which we will continue our journey.  This life can be so much more fulfilling and enjoyable by recognizing that we are not all marching toward an abyss of nothingness, that life does have meaning and that much of that meaning can be found in overcoming adversity.  It was to that end that the pioneering psychical researchers dedicated themselves, and the primary purpose of this blog is to help in some little way to make their work better understood and appreciated.

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:  Dec. 5

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Amazing Materializations Reported

Posted on 07 November 2016, 9:43

In her 1893 book, There is No Death, now available on Kindle, Florence Marryat, (below) a popular British author, journalist, editor, and playwright, tells of observing numerous séances with physical mediums, including Florence Cook, best remembered as being a test subject for Sir William Crookes, the renowned British chemist.  Various references suggest that Crookes was simply duped by the teenaged medium, but if Marryat is to be believed there is no doubt that Florence Cook was the real deal.  (Yes, both were named Florence.) 


Beginning in 1873, Marryat observed phenomena with Cook on a number of occasions and became a close friend.  During her first visit with Cook, she states that she was sitting at a dining table with approximately 30 people when the table was levitated, the bottom of the table, with everything upon it, rising to about knee level.

At one sitting, Katie King, the spirit who materialized from the ectoplasm given off by Cook, was asked why she could not appear in the light of more than one gas-burner.  Katie explained that she didn’t understand herself why she couldn’t but told the sitters to add more light and to see what happens.  Marryat recorded:

“She took up her station against the drawing-room wall, with her arms extended as if she were crucified. Then the gas-burners were turned on to their full extent ... The effect upon ‘Katie King’ was marvelous.  She looked like herself for the space of a second only, then she began gradually to melt away.  I can compare the dematerialization of her form to nothing but a wax doll melting before a hot fire.  First, the features became blurred and indistinct; they seemed to run into each other.  The eyes sank in the sockets, the nose disappeared, the frontal bone fell in.  Next the limbs appeared to give way under her, and she sank lower and lower on the carpet like a crumbling edifice.  At last there was nothing but her head left above the ground – then a heap of white drappery only, which disappeared with a whisk, as if a hand had pulled it after her – and we were left staring by the light of three gas-burners at the spot on which ‘Katie King’ had stood.” 

At one sitting, Katie King invited Marryat and the other sitters to cut off a piece of her dress, place it in an envelope, and take it home.  They complied, but all reported that when they got home the envelopes were empty. 

Florence Cook materialization 

Marryat’s introduction to mediumship and Spiritualism came in February 1873, when she and a friend, Annie Thomas, had a sitting with a Mrs. Holmes, an American medium visiting London.  They attended anonymously.  It took some time before anything happened, but as they were growing tired of waiting, they saw something white and indistinct, “like a cloud of tobacco smoke, or a bundle of gossamer,”  Marryat reported:

“The white mass advanced and retreated several times, and finally settled before the aperture and opened in the middle, when a female face was distinctly to be seen above the calico.  What was our amazement was to recognize the features of Mrs. Thomas, Annie’s mother ... I had known Mrs. Thomas well, and recognized her at once, as, of course, did her daughter ... Poor Annie was very much affected, and talked to her mother in the most incoherent manner.  The spirit did not appear able to answer in words, but she bowed her head or shook it, according as she wished to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I could not help feeling awed at the appearance of the dear old lady….  It was some time before Annie could be persuaded to let her mother go, but the next face that presented itself astonished her quite as much, for she recognized it as that of Captain Gordon, a gentleman whom she had known intimately and for a length of time ...  All I saw was the head of a good-looking, fair, young man, and not feeling any personal interest in his appearance, I occupied the time during which my friend conversed with him about olden days, by minutely examining the working of the muscles of his throat, which undeniably stretched when his head moved….”

While visiting the United States in 1884, Marryat anonymously attended a séance with Mrs. M. A. Williams in New York City.  The medium said that a spirit was there who had come for a lady named “Florence,” who had just come across the sea.  Before Marryat could respond, her deceased daughter, also named Florence, who had died as an infant but was in spirit a young woman, came running across the room and fell into her arms, kissing her constantly. “Mother!” she exclaimed, “I said I would come with you and look after you didn’t I?”  Marryat wrote:

“I looked at her.  She was exactly the same in appearance as when she had come to me in England – the same luxuriant brown hair and features and figure, as I had seen under the different mediumships of Florence Cook, Arthur Colman, Charles Williams and William Eglinton; the same form which in England had been declared to be half a dozen different media dressed up to represent my daughter, stood before me there in New York, thousand of miles across the sea, and by the power of a person who did not even know who I was.  If I had not been convinced before, how could I have helped being convinced then?”

Marryat added that she witnessed 40 other materializations that night, all speaking distinctly and audibly, more so than she had ever witnessed in England. She concluded that the dry atmosphere of the United States was more favorable to the materialization phenomenon than that of England.

At a sitting with Eva Hatch in Boston, Marryat, also attending under a pseudonym, was astonished when the medium asked if anyone named “Bluebell” was present in the room.  That was the pet name given to her by her brother-in-law, Edward “Ted” Church, who had died some 10 years earlier.  However, Marryat was then greeted by her daughter, Florence. Marryat asked her why she referred to her as “Bluebell.” The story continued:

“She did not answer me, except by shaking her head, placing her finger on her lips, and pointing downward to the carpet.  I did not know what to make of it.  I had never known her unable to articulate before. ‘What is the matter, dear?’ I said; ‘can’t you speak to me to-night?’ Still she shook her head, and tapped my arm with her hand, to attract my attention to the fact she was pointing vigorously downwards.  I looked down, too, when to my astonishment I saw rise through the carpet what looked to me like the bald head of a baby or an old man, and a little figure, not more than three feet in height, with Edward Church’s features, but no hair on its head, came gradually into view, and looked up in my face with a pitiful, deprecating expression, as if he were afraid I would strike him.  The face, however, was so unmistakably Ted’s, though the figure was so ludicrously insignificant, that I could not fail to recognize him.  ‘Why, Ted!’ I exclaimed, ‘have you come back to see me at last?’ and held out my hand. The little figure seized it, tried to convey it to his lips, burst into tears, and sank down through the carpet much more rapidly than he had come up.” 

Daughter Florence explained that Uncle Ted was so overcome at seeing her that he couldn’t materialize better. Two nights later, Marryat returned for another sitting with Mrs. Hatch.  This time, Florence and Ted both came, Ted at full height and with a full head of hair, parted just as he used to wear it when alive in the flesh.  However, Ted was unable to speak, Florence explaining that he was too weak to do so.

There is only a small sampling of the mind-boggling phenomena set forth by Florence Marryat in this book.  While the skeptic may have no alternative but to claim that the book is a work of fiction, like most of Marryat’s other 60-plus books, such a theory seems extremely far-fetched.  There is too much earnestness and sincerity in her writing and too many other living people (when the book was published) mentioned in the book who could have refuted her words to believe that this was anything but a factual account of her experiences. “Every word I have written is the honest and unbiased truth,” she ends the book.  I find it difficult to believe that a woman of her reputation would have had a motive to make it all up or even embellish it to any great extent.  This book as well as a second book on the same subject – The Spirit World, released in 1894 – were published well after she had established herself as a renowned writer. 

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:  November 21


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NDE on the Battlefield: Going Far Beyond John Wayne

Posted on 24 October 2016, 8:53

Sometime during or around April 1969, I was sitting in an open-air theater on the roof of a three- or four-story building occupied by the USO (United Services Organizations) in central Saigon.  Every few minutes, the skies about 20 miles or more away – to the southeast, I think – would light up and we’d hear bombs exploding, as the building we were sitting atop of rattled a little. It was somewhat surreal as the movie we were watching was “The Green Berets,” starring John Wayne. It was about the Vietnam War, the very war that was lighting the skies and shaking our building.  I recall thinking about how strange it was that I was watching a movie about a war that I could see taking place in the distance.  I wondered where reality began and left off. 

As I read If Morning Never Comes: A Soldier’s Near-Death Experience on the Battlefield, recently released by White Crow Books, I wondered if Bill Vandenbush, the author, was seeing and hearing the same thing that I did that very night, because it was during April 1969 that he suffered severe combat wounds and had a near-death experience somewhere south of Saigon, the victim of friendly bombs dropped in the wrong place. Perhaps he had already been air-evacuated to a military hospital in Japan by that time or maybe it was just before his body was torn apart and he had his NDE.  He may have been sloshing his way through some rice paddy on a patrol mission.  My military days were well over by that time and I was in Vietnam in a civilian capacity while visiting some military camps around the country.  The Viet Cong didn’t seem to concern themselves with Americans in civilian clothes and in non-military vehicles with local drivers. 

During his youth, Vandenbush idolized John Wayne, seeing him as the ultimate warrior, even though Wayne never spent a day in the military. “I had grown up in the John Wayne generation, learning about war from the Hollywood perspective where every man was a hero and every soldier was adored by his nation and its people,” he writes.  “I was greatly influenced by John Wayne’s macho image and the respect he commanded.  In the movies, John Wayne was always a hero.”

But after Vandenbush joined the Army in 1968 he began to realize that it was not nearly as glamorous as Hollywood made it out to be.  “The horror, the evil, the violence, the blood, guts, and death of war are so far removed from living and training in the U.S. that it was impossible to fully grasp the significance and long-term effect of that experience without being there,” he continues, adding that it never occurred to him how horrific it would be when he saw his friends die or how traumatic it would be to shoot at a real person.  Nevertheless, there was still a little Boy Scout in him and he expected, at age 18, that it was all part of becoming a man.

Bill having a beer at a Firebase in the mountains west of Quang Ngai

He recalls that on his first patrol his mouth became dry and he began to sweat profusely.  When he couldn’t sweat anymore, it felt like his body was on fire.  “I started to shake and felt like my head was coming apart.  We had only been walking about ten minutes but every step was pure torture ... I was hyperventilating and I had dry heaves; my heart was pounding loudly and I couldn’t control my fear.  I thought I was going to die of fright.  Never in my short life had I felt so much fear.” 

In a matter of time, however, his fear was replaced by a sense of pride, a sense of teamwork, as he worked together with a large group of men in a coordinated effort, utilizing high tech, modern warfare equipment that gave him a feeling of invincibility.
He began to feel just like John Wayne.  It was suddenly life imitating art.

It was while leading a squad on a patrol that things went wrong – that a bomb dropped by an American plane made him a victim of the war. He recalls lying in the dust and dirt of a dry rice paddy, seeing waves of heat rising from the ground, his men safe on the other side of the rice paddy, and the enemy still firing at them.  He took off his helmet and saw his right eye fall into it.  “Once I had accepted death and knew there was nothing I could do to avoid it, all the worry, fear, and pain faded away,” he recalls. “All that was left to do was relax and let it happen.  However, as he curled up on the ground he was “suddenly struck by an incredible feeling of peace and tranquility.”  He felt suspended from time and space, between the here-and-now and the here-ever-after.  He experienced a dark tunnel but felt bathed in a soft light as he continued to glide forward.  As the light washed over him, he felt an incredible sense of calm.  And then he was thrust into a bright white light and he no longer possessed a body.  Everything was beautiful and totally fulfilling.  He felt that he was in a different dimension, one in which he encountered his grandfather, who had died several years earlier. While talking with his grandfather, a “ball of energy” appeared and told him that he must return to his earthly place and fulfill his higher purpose before again coming to the Light.  There’s much more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. 

Vandenbush’s recovery was slow and challenging, and there was much adversity to overcome in continuing on in the earthly life, including two divorces and many job frustrations. His injuries went well beyond his eye, especially affecting his throat and arm. The doctors treating him were not hopeful and even recommended amputation of the arm, but Vandenbush rejected such a procedure.  “The glow from the Light and the guidance from Spirit were so intense and so complete, that I responded to the constant negative prognosis with, ‘They just don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re wrong.  Everything is going to be okay.’”  He writes that the negativity he constantly experienced paled in comparison to the all-encompassing peace and sense of well-being and fulfillment he experienced with the Light.
It was his experience in the Light that kept him going.  I was slowly becoming aware that my wounds were part of my destiny and part of my higher purpose in life,” he muses.  Whenever he encountered hard times, he called upon “Spirit” to get him through them, and he always managed to succeed in overcoming the adversity.

Bill, Shannon, and Luci, at the beach

Vandenbush’s story was originally told in a 2003 book, but he has had another NDE since then, one in which Spirit again communicated with him during the week in which he was in a coma.  He states that this time he went beyond the White Light and was taken on an incredible journey through the universe, observing dimensions and layers that are far more vast than the simple material existence we experience on earth.  Here again, there is much more to his experience than can be covered in this review. 

It is a very inspiring book, especially for the person who doesn’t appreciate adversity and blames all his or her misfortunes on God.  My only concern is that the book begins a bit slowly, the first several chapters covering the 18 years before Vandenbush entered the Army.  It might better have started with his arrival in Vietnam and incorporated bits and pieces of his early childhood here and there as he went on. I mention this only because I tossed it aside after the first two chapters and almost didn’t return to it.  I’m sure glad I did.  It offers so much more than the story of John Wayne might have, although I must confess to never having read John Wayne’s story.

If Morning Never Comes: A Soldier’s Near-Death Experience on the Battlefield by Bill Vandenbush is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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:  November 7

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The Amazing Bangs Sisters

Posted on 17 October 2016, 7:23

Although I had read about the Bangs Sisters here and there over the years, I really didn’t have a clear picture of what they were all about until I read N. Riley Heagerty’s recently released book, Portraits from Beyond. Heagerty draws from all the available references on the two sisters and offers overwhelming evidence that they were unusually gifted mediums in spite of the usual Internet debunkers who claim they were clever frauds.  They are most remembered for the phenomenon called “precipitated paintings” in which portraits of deceased loved ones and friends appeared on canvases with no humans holding a brush to the canvases.  The sisters would each hold one end of the canvas at a window in daylight, as the surviving friends and relative sat and observed the image of a deceased loved one take shape on the canvas, apparently by a spirit artist, the finished product sometimes taking as little as 8-10 minutes, although the average time seems to have been closer to 30-40 minutes.

Bangs in Black, late 1870’s, Elizabeth left, May, right

Consider this testimonial by Dr. and Mrs. E. H. Thurston of Hagerstown, Indiana, as penned on April 5, 1910:

“Desiring a spirit portrait of our daughter, who passed into the spirit life at the age of thirty years, and having viewed some of the results obtained for others through this remarkable phase of the Bangs Sisters’ mediumship, we decided to make a test of it ourselves.

“Visiting Chesterfield Camp, Indiana, we called upon the Bangs Sisters in their cottage and arranged for our sitting, the hour being the following afternoon. At the stated time we again called at their cottage.  Entering the séance room, and finding only three canvases, I selected two of them, took them out in the sunlight in company with one of the Miss Bangs, exposed them for 15 minutes to the strong rays of the noonday sun, examined the surface thoroughly to fully assure myself that they were not chemically prepared, at the same time to secretly mark them for identification. Returning to the séance room, I placed the canvas on the small table before a well-lighted north window, and by examination of the table and surroundings convinced myself that everything was void of any mechanical apparatus.

“The Bangs Sisters, seated on each side of the table, merely supported the canvas in an upright position with one hand, myself and my wife being seated directly in front of, and not more than two feet from them.  After sitting for a very short time, a dark shadow passed over the canvas, followed by the outline of the head and body; then, to our wonderful amazement, the perfect features of our daughter appeared, with the eyes closed; a few more seconds, and the eyes opened and before us was the beautiful spirit of our deceased daughter, perfectly lifelike in every feature, and which has been instantly recognized by all who knew her when in earth life.  When the picture was completed, the identification marks previously spoken of showed that the canvas had not been tampered with in any way….

Queen Victoria, full-length portrait in all her splendor, Camp Chesterfield, precipitated for Dr. Carson of Kansas City

“Being somewhat familiar with photography and photographic processes, especially solar print work, we are fully convinced that the picture is not the product of any photographic process, and we desire to say right here there was positively no evidence whatsoever of any trick, or slight-of-hand performance; everything was perfectly straightforward and honest, as far as the physical eye could discern, and we went away from the cottage at Camp Chesterfield more convinced than every before of the continuity of life after death, and the beautiful philosophy of Spiritualism.”

Lizzie Bangs was born in 1859 and May Bangs in 1862, both in Maine. Their father was a stove repairman and their mother a housewife.  At some point in their early years, the family moved to Chicago. They began to demonstrate mediumistic ability at ages 11 and 8.  Before the precipitated portraits began, both girls displayed the ability to do automatic writing, slate writing, full-form etherializations, the materialization of spirit hands, clairvoyance, clairaudience, direct-writing by typewriter (no human fingers touching the typewriter keys).  However, it was the spirit paintings that made them famous.

Spirit Ethel, Camp Chesterfield

Heagerty’s research turned up a demonstration before a large audience at Camp Chesterfield during August 1908. Each member of the audience was given a ticket with a numbered stub which was put into a vat for a drawing.  The ticket belonging to a Mr. and Mrs. Alford, a prominent family of Marion, Indiana, who then took their place on the stage.  Lizzie and May sat down near them, never touching the canvas.  After a few moments, a thin, vapor-like cloud or shadow swept across the blank canvas and then disappeared.  Another wave of mist seemed to float and pulsate across the canvas and also vanished.  The other-world artist, it seemed, was making preliminary sketches and trying out different color schemes.  Soon the outline bust form of a person began to appear in the center of the canvas, features becoming more distinct along with the hair and face, and slowly, the entire form of a young girl was clearly distinguishable for all to see.  The eyes on the portrait were close, but suddenly, in a flash, the eyes opened and the audience cheered.  The entire process took about 22 minutes.  Mr. Alford, clearly shaken, stood and announced that he and his wife were visiting Chesterfield for the first time and were not Spiritualists.  He said the portrait was the exact likeness of his daughter, Audrey.  Mrs. Alford then opened up a locket around her neck which contained a photo of their daughter and passed it around for others to compare with the portrait. (See black & white photo of color portrait of Audrey Alford below.)

Audrey Alford, black and white photo of color portrait precipitated in 22 minutes at a demonstration in front of a large audience at Camp Chesterfield in 1911, from Photographing the Invisible by James Coates

Some of the portraits were so life-like that they could have passed for photographs, but nearly all of them were produced in color before color photography came into existence. Moreover, there were no brush strokes to be seen. According to Heagerty, the portraits have been examined by experts over the years and they cannot explain them.

A Dr. Carpenter of Olin, Iowa took his own canvas nailed in a box.  The sitting took some three hours, and Carpenter was about to give up.  However, the spirit messenger then told him to open the box.  “We accordingly opened the box and to my great surprise and joy beheld a complete life-sized picture of my wife and child in the spirit world.  The picture is so natural and life-like hat many of my neighbors and friends fully recognize it although they have been in the spirit life for 33 years,” Carpenter stated, adding that he had asked only for a portrait of his deceased wife.  The addition of the daughter was totally unexpected. Carpenter pointed out that he observed the whole process and the box containing the canvas never left his sight.   

Journalist George Lieberknecht reported on the typewriter phenomenon, stating that there was a circle of six men, one woman, and one of the Bangs sisters.  With not one of them touching the typewriter, messages came “with an astonishing degree of swiftness and dexterity.”  The message addressed to him was from his deceased son and was 186 words long.

One of the best known researchers studying the Bangs Sisters was Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore, retired from the British navy where he commanded a fleet of surveying ships.  As such, he was a man accustomed to precision and detail.  He visited the Bangs Sisters anonymously, first receiving nine and a half pages of direct writing on slates untouched by the Bangs sisters from an old friend, referring to facts and happenings of 40 years earlier which only the spirit and Moore had any knowledge of. Moore’s brother accompanied him and received 13 pages of information from three different spirit friends. Moore observed that the Bangs never came in contact with the slates.

In one test, Moore put nine sheets of paper between slates, all clearly marked in order to rule out the skeptic’s theory that the Bangs Sisters had somehow prepared answers beforehand (even though they didn’t know what the questions were) and by sleight-of-hand substituted them.  Further, Moore, at the suggestion of his friend, Sir William Crookes, added lithium to the ink he brought for the test, a chemical not found in ordinary ink.  When Crookes later examined the papers, he found that lithium was present, thus ruling out some deception by the Bangs Sisters, who would have used their own ink.

Of course, the skeptics had their theories. One Rev. Stanley Krebs, theorized that the Bangs Sisters somehow got photos of deceased loved ones beforehand and brought the finished products, some 20 inches by 30 inches, into the room hidden in their long dresses and managed to distract the sitter long enough to substitute the finished product for the blank canvas.  However, this did not explain how they got the photographs in the first place or how they obtained all the evidential information that came through in the slate and automatic writing.  And there were times when nothing was produced, as when researcher Hereward Carrington sat with them, thus leading him to believe that they were charlatans.  Carrington was then just beginning his career as a psychical researcher and prided himself on exposing fraudulent mediums. However, as he gained experience he came to believe in mediumship, though he apparently never again sat with the Bangs.

There is so much more to the story and so many other testimonials discovered by Heagerty that it is difficult to believe these two sisters were anything but genuine mediums, even if modern references write them off as frauds.  Heagerty’s offers around 20 of the spirit portraits in the book, some of them so life-like that one almost senses that they are, in fact, still alive.

Portraits From Beyond: The Mediumship of the Bangs Sisters by N. Riley Heagerty is published by White Crow Books.

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.

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The Medjugorje Apparitions: Real or Not?

Posted on 03 October 2016, 7:16

As a Catholic school student during the 1940s, I read or heard about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Guadalupe, Fatima, and Lourdes.  I even prayed with my parents at the Guadalupe cathedral outside Mexico City.  However, upon parting ways with the Church some 50 years ago, I more or less forgot about all those alleged apparitions and other “miracles” involving various saints.  I say “more or less” because there were times now and then when I pondered on them and tried to reconcile them with the paranormal phenomena I had come to accept as genuine.  I wondered why I should believe that D. D. Home, one of the most famous mediums in the annals of psychical research, could be levitated (lifted by spirits) while various saints who are said to have been levitated could not.  Or to put it another way, I wondered if many saints were, in fact, mediums, even though the Church might not approve of such an “occult” label and reject the idea that non-Catholics might have the same “gifts” as elevated Catholics. 
As the debunkers view it, either the various children who claimed to see the Blessed Virgin Mary (Blessed Mother or Mother Mary, if you’re not Catholic) craved attention and were playing childish pranks, or they were underfed and suffered from hallucinations, perhaps a combination of both.  Where more than one child was involved, it was nothing more than a collaborative prank or a collective hallucination. The pranks and/or hallucinations continued over time, the debunkers reason, because the young “visionaries” cherished the celebrity status accorded them by those simple-minded people who believe they were/are actually in contact with the spirit world. 

As set forth in My Heart Will Triumph, a recently published book, such apparitions of the Blessed Mother are continuing today, in the village of Medjugorje in what was once the country of Yugoslavia.  Author Mirjana Soldo is one of the six visionaries experiencing the apparitions, which began on June 24, 1981, when she was just 16 and a sophomore in high school. The other five ranged from 10 to 16.  According to Mirjana, the apparitions were daily for the first 18 months, but 13 times a year and mostly individually for her after that, on her birthday on March 18 and on the second of every month.  That of September 2, 2016 can be seen on

The messages communicated by the Blessed Mother are primarily petitions to love, forgive, overcome, live in peace, and expect eternal life.  “Our Lady asks us to return the Word of God to our homes,” Mirjana, now 51, writes in this autobiography.  “Do not let it sit in a dusty corner like a decoration, but put it in a place of honor where it will be seen and touched.”  She then quotes a message given to her on August 2, 2015:  With a simple heart accept His word and live it.  If you live His word, you will pray.  If you live His word, you will love with a merciful love; you will love each other.

As recent as March 2, 2016, the message was:  Free yourselves from everything that binds you to only what is earthly and permit what is of God to form your life by your prayer and sacrifice… Seemingly more significant than the regular messages received over the past 35 years, however, are the 10 “secrets” entrusted to Mirjana and the other visionaries. These secrets are yet to be revealed and will not be revealed until the Blessed Mother tells the visionaries that it is time.  As I understand it, the secrets were given individually to the six visionaries over many years and they were instructed not to compare notes or discuss them with each other or with anyone else.  “I can say this much – after events contained in the first two secrets come to pass, Our Lady will leave a permanent sign on Apparition Hill where she first appeared,” Mirjana writes. “Everyone will be able to see that human hands could not have made it.  People will be able to photograph and film the sign, but in order to truly comprehend it – to experience it with the heart – they will need to come to Medjugorje.  Seeing it live, with the eyes, will be far more beautiful.”

Mirjana says that 10 days before each event, she is to tell a priest who is to be chosen for that purpose and he will then tell the world three days before the event takes place, after both she and he fast and pray for seven days.  Mirjana adds that she was very troubled by the seventh secret and asked the Blessed Mother for the event to be lessened.  She was instructed to pray and rallied friends and family members in Sarajevo to pray and fast.  Eight months later, during an apparition, she was told that it has “softened,” but not to again ask for such mitigation since “God’s will must be done.”

A parchment with elegant cursive handwriting setting forth the 10 secrets was given to her by the Blessed Mother at the last daily apparition, Mirjana claims.  In a moment of weakness, she showed the parchment to a cousin and friend, but what they read did not match what Mirjana read.  The cousin said she saw it as some kind a prayer or poem, while the friend saw it as a letter from someone asking for help.

Today, after 35 years, Mirjana often visits with the five other visionaries.  “...we might talk about our families or our missions, but we never discuss the secrets,” she writes.  “The six of us do not even know if all the secrets we’ve been given are the same.” 
What I found especially interesting about Mirjana’s story is the socio-political aspects of the communist regime and their attempts to stifle the visionaries.  Mirjana suddenly became an outcast.  She was frequently interrogated by the police, abandoned by her friends, expelled from her high school and forced to attend a school for delinquents, and her family was threatened.  Newspapers castigated the visionaries, one of them referring to them as “six yokels.” 

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of the Medjugorje apparitions.  I don’t believe they were or are pranks carried out by the six visionaries over some 35 years.  Supporting this belief are various studies by scientists – neurological and psychological, including hypnotic – ruling out deception by the visionaries.  Moreover, there is too much sincerity and earnestness in the writings of Mirjana to give any real weight to the possibility that she has carried on the deception for 35 years because she relishes the celebrity status.  Such deception would be in complete opposition to the truths she is attempting to relay in the book.  If deception, you’d think one of the six would have exposed it all by now. 

To the extent that hallucinations are defined to be perceptions outside of known reality, the apparitions may very well be hallucinations; however, that does not mean they are unreal in a greater reality.  It does mean that they are outside the boundaries of mainstream science.  In the book, Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, authors René Laurentin and Henri Joyeux discuss the state of “ecstasy” observed with the six visionaries. “Suddenly their gaze, already fixed on the location of the apparition, becomes more intense,” they explain.  “There are hardly any movements of the eyelids.  Their faces become almost imperceptibly brighter and turn toward the invisible speaker.  They kneel down very naturally, all at the same moment…. Their lips can be seen moving, but no voices are heard, just as it was with Bernadette at Lourdes. They were not conscious of this and were surprised when we questioned them about this unusual phenomenon. They believe they are speaking normally.”

Close observation by the researchers yielded no indication of play-acting or any attempts to follow a leader in the group or otherwise coordinate their movements. The visionaries seemed to lose contact with the surroundings and remain insensitive to stimulation, even pinching and prodding.  At the beginning of the ecstasy, eye movements ceased almost simultaneously and the eyes remained immobile.
What I have difficulty with are some of the messages – those suggesting worship over works, rote prayer over creative entreaty, and mindless rituals over meaningful tributes.  I find it difficult to believe that an advanced soul, such as the Blessed Mother must be, would urge such mechanistic activities as a way to overcome materialism and return to a greater spiritual consciousness. It may be that I am more spiritually challenged than I had realized, but I am certain that I could never return to such a perfunctory spiritual consciousness as that offered by orthodox religions, Catholic or Protestant. 

Just as mediums are said to be limited by the capacity of their own brains in what can be filtered through those brains by more advanced spiritual beings, it could be that the visionaries are likewise limited in what they can understand and communicate, thus interpreting everything in words and ways that are within their vocabularies and knowledge.  But then one wonders why the Blessed Mother didn’t recognize that her messages would be distorted or oversimplified, unless her primary objective was to reach the masses – those with limited spiritual consciousness who had strayed from spiritual ways to materialistic ways and could only find their way back by returning to pagan-like worship, rote prayer and the rituals of religion.  Better a narrowed spiritual consciousness than embracing materialism and moving into hedonism, as the world seems to have done.

At the risk of being charged with blasphemy and spending eternity in hell if the Catholic Church really has it all figured out, I see another possibility – that of the “group soul.”  According to fairly recent revelation, many souls continue to identify with their earthly religions after transitioning to a certain realm on the other side, and thus there are Catholic communities, Baptist communities, Mormon communities, Jewish communities, etc. in what might be called the lower-middle realms of the afterlife. As the souls continue to evolve, they eventually free themselves from the restricted beliefs of their respective religions while moving to higher realms on their way to Oneness with God.

Combine the group soul idea with the findings of Allan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher who purportedly received messages from John the Evangelist, St. Augustine, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Louis, “The Spirit of Truth,” Socrates, Plato, Fénélon, Franklin and Swedenborg.  As Kardec came to understand, superior spirits, while preserving their individuality, have no need to be identified with their teachings delivered while on earth, but because humans seem to need an identity in order to fix their ideas, spirits who identify with the teachings of the famous personage and belong to the same “family” or “collective whole” may take that famous name to appease us, as it is the teaching, not the signature, that is important. In effect, the Marian apparitions may be of well-intentioned spirits in a Catholic community at some mid-level afterlife realm.  As explained to Kardec, this is not really deception, as it is somehow sanctioned by the famous personage or authorized by him or her.  It’s another area in which we might error in assuming that we can apply terrestrial reasoning to celestial ways and means.

The group soul idea might seem far fetched, but it is the only way I can reconcile it all, unless, as I said, the Blessed Mother is really appearing and trying to reach the masses, not those who have attempted to move beyond the perfunctory ways of organized religions. 

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: October 17 


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The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

Posted on 20 September 2016, 9:48

As discussed in my August 22 post, the person in search of historical truth relative to mediums and paranormal phenomena may very well be confused if he or she relies on Internet references.  In that post, I offered the example of Leonora Piper, made out to be a “clever charlatan” by Wikipedia even though the four primary researchers who extensively studied her trance mediumship, all representing the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) or American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR), were convinced that she was a genuine medium, one relaying messages from the spirit world.

Fortunately, the SPR has now come up with its own encyclopedic entries on mediums and other paranormal phenomena, one offering objective and balanced reporting.  It’s called the PSI Encyclopedia and can be found at

It is a work in progress, edited by Robert McLuhan, a British freelance journalist and the author of the 2010 book, Randi’s Prize, but it’s off to a good start, including a factual and balanced treatment of Mrs. Piper. 

Another good example of the differences in treatment of a medium is the “bio” of Henry Slade.  Wikipedia begins by stating that “Henry Slade (1835-1905) was a famous fraudulent medium who lived and practiced in both Europe and North America.”  It then goes on to say that “according to Joe Nickell,” he produced his phenomena by a variety of magic tricks.  After Nickell, Karen Stollznow is quoted as to how Slade tricked people.  It should be noted that Nickell was born in 1944, 39 years after Slade’s death, and Stollznow in 1976, 71 years after his death.  One is left to wonder if they witnessed Slade (below) in a past life or perhaps from some celestial perch before being born this time around.


The Wikipedia biographer later calls upon Harry Houdini, the great magician, who said he knew someone to whom Slade confessed he was a fraud.  Wow!  Houdini knew somebody who had the inside scoop.  How evidential is that?  What is not said and is drawn from another reference is that Frederick Powell, a fellow magician, told Houdini that he observed a levitation, movement of furniture, dematerialization of an object, and a slate snatched from his grasp by unseen hands, with Slade, and though convinced it had to be trickery of some kind, he could not explain it. 

Striking Psychokinetic Phenomena
The SPR biography begins:  “Henry Slade was a controversial nineteenth century séance medium who was publicly accused of fraud, but who was also reported to have produced striking psychokinetic phenomena under well-controlled conditions.”  Much of the write-up is based on experiments with Slade carried out by astrophysicist Johann Zöllner at the University of Leipzig. 

Professor Stephen Braude, who wrote the SPR entry, notes that Zöllner had more than 30 sessions with Slade, occasionally with the aid of prominent colleagues, including Wilhelm Scheibner, professor of mathematics, Wilhelm Weber, professor of physics, and Gustav Fechner, professor of physics and pioneer of the new science of psychophysics.  Although Slade was most known for his slate-writing (spirit communication on small chalk boards), Zöllner was more interested in the psychokinetic aspects – moving objects with the mind (or spirits moving the objects?) – and reported various phenomena, including the penetration of matter by matter, apports, involving the disappearance and reappearance of objects, the movement of a filled bookcase at some distance, the tying of knots in untouched endless cords, materialized hands, and an accordion playing with Slade holding just one end of it.

But, according to Wikipedia, Zöllner (below) observed Slade on just “several” occasions, and “Slade failed some of the tests carried out under controlled conditions but still succeeded in fooling Zöllner in ‘several’ other attempts.”  My definition of “several” has it at much less than 30 and there is no explanation as to how it was established that Slade “fooled” him.  Clearly, the implication is that such phenomena are not real and therefore it had to be a trick, no other explanation possible.  So much for objective reporting.


The Wikipedia bio also mentions several other people who claimed that Slade was a trickster, but, as with other mediums, many of these “one-time only” sitters who claim fraud apparently jump to their conclusions by assuming that the phenomenon witnessed is not humanly possible and therefore what they saw had to have been a trick, even if like Powell, they didn’t understand it.  Other skeptics explain to them that the deception “might have been” or “could have been” done a certain way, and this reinforces the idea that it was a trick.  All these speculations on how the trick “could have been” or “might have been” carried out become part of the historical record associated with the individual medium and are then carried forward by other biased and ignorant historians.  Sadly, the testimonies of the fly-by-night observers are seemingly given equal or even more weight than those of the researchers who sat with the medium multiple times under strictly controlled conditions. 

Experienced Investigators

As mentioned in the prior post on Leonora Piper, Dr. Richard Hodgson studied her for 18 years, observing her on the average of three times a week for nearly all of those 18 years, while Sir Oliver Lodge, a world-renowned physicist, sat with her 83 times during her first trip to England.  Cambridge scholar and SPR co-founder Frederic Myers and Professor James Hyslop also had numerous sittings with her.  All four were convinced that she was a genuine medium through whom the spirit world was communicating. Yet, Wikipedia dismisses those four men in a few sentences and gives the preponderance of weight to debunkers who never observed her and just speculated on what took place, or those who just sat with her a time or two and had no clear understanding of the dynamics of mediumship. 

While the Wikipedia biographers of mediums clearly embrace the negative reports by the fly-by-nighters, appear to go out of their way to avoid the positive reports, those lending themselves to the reality of mediumship.  For example, Frank Podmore, one of the arch-skeptics of the time, claimed to be “profoundly impressed” by Slade.  He is not mentioned by Wikipedia relative to Slade, although Wikipedia is quick to quote him with other mediums who did not impress him. 

And then there are times when even the best of mediums fail to produce anything.  The one-time sitter sees only failure, which translates to fraud.  The researchers who studied Mrs. Piper for nearly two decades reported that there were many times when she could not achieve the trance state necessary for phenomena to be produced.  Likewise, Slade apparently had days on which nothing happened.  It may be that when nothing happened, he tried to make something happen so as to not disappoint the observers; that is, he cheated.  Once a cheater, always a cheater, is the emotional conclusion in such a case, not necessarily the rational conclusion. 

Then again, so many allegations of cheating seem to have come from observers who have mistaken an ectoplasmic arm or hand, as produced by spirit entities, for the medium’s arm or hand, or have not considered the possibility that the actions of spirits are being construed as cheating by the medium, i.e., whether it is “conscious” fraud or “unconscious” fraud, the latter not really being fraud, per se.

Avoiding Spirits

The whole issue of spirits being involved with the phenomena of the mediums presents something of a Catch 22 situation for the researchers and complicates the biographies, at least for those biographers who want to be “scientifically correct.”  In effect, they can’t hypothesize spirits because the strong evidence that spirits exist is not accepted by scientists, at least the fundamentalists of science.  So spirits, or discarnates, never really enter the discussion.  Even Braude, in his SPR bio of Slade, steers clear of the subject, mentioning the “spirit communicators” that wrote on Slade’s slates, but this phenomenon, Slade’s primary phenomenon, is quickly passed over by Braude without any real explanation as to what went on in the slate writing or whether anything of evidential value came from it.  Other references, not restrained by a need to be “scientifically correct,” do suggest that there was evidential value in the slate writing.

As for the psychokinetic phenomena – the movement of objects without the aid of human hands – the reader is seemingly left to assume that it is either fraud or mind over matter.  “Materialized hands” are mentioned by both Zöllner and Braude, but no attempt is made to link these hands to spirits or to suggest that the spirits are the ones moving things about.  That would be too “unscientific” and might invite scoffs, sneers and sanctions from those fundamentalists of science. While the very word “medium” suggests an intermediary between the material world and the spirit world, the man of science must tread lightly in this area and avoid it as much as possible.  Fortunately, the researchers of old, such as Hodgson, Lodge, Myers and Hyslop were not so restrained in this regard, though they were well aware of the alternative explanations for various phenomena. 

I could find nothing to indicate that Slade was a trance medium, only that he was in a “passive” state when phenomena came about, and therefore it is difficult to say whether unconscious cheating is a defense for him, assuming that cheating, per se, was really involved.  Reading beyond both the Wikipedia bio and the SPR bio though, there appears to be quite a bit more on record about Slade that is not said, probably because it all seems to be opinion or speculation by casual observers who really didn’t understand what was going on.  However, there were more informed people, like biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, and Serjeant Cox, a well-respected London barrister, who were convinced that Slade was a genuine medium, and there were some, like Eleanor Sidgwick, a prominent member of the SPR, who believed he was a fraud.  Such is the complexity of separating fact from fiction in many types of mediumship. 

A small group of professors referred to as the Seybert Commission studied Slade in 1884, five years after Zöllner and his group of professors did.  Slade is said to have left them believing that he had given them ample evidence of his mediumistic ability; however, after receiving testimony from magicians and psychologists, the commission concluded that what they witnessed was nothing but trickery.

It seems only reasonable that the primary references in such cases should be the scientists and academicians who thoroughly studied the person – the Zöllner group in the case of Slade and Hodgson, Lodge, Myers and Hyslop in the case of Piper.  Such men and women are the primary references in the new SPR encyclopedia, not the casual observers or those who never even witnessed the biographical subject.  As I see it, the Wikipedia biographers of mediums are like the teenager who was told by his parents that smoking is bad for his health.  “But grandpa is 60, an old man, and he still smokes,” was his justification for continuing to smoke.   
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.

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No Ferrari for this Doctor

Posted on 05 September 2016, 6:29

One of the effects of the near-death experience (NDE) often reported by experiencers and researchers is a transformation from a materialistic way of life to a more spiritual one. I have read accounts of scores of such transformations over the past 40 or so years, but I can’t recall any that exceeds the transformation experienced by Dr. Rajiv Parti, (below) as related in his recently released book, Dying to Wake Up: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back.


As the head of anesthesiology at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital in California, Parti enjoyed a very luxurious lifestyle.  “My goal was bigger everything – house, cars, art collection, bank accounts,” he tells his story, further mentioning that he looked forward to graduating from a Porsche and a Hummer to one day having a Ferrari in his garage, and that at one point during his 25 years at the hospital he took a nine-month sabbatical in order to trade on the stock market, sometimes making a million dollars in one day, but then losing it just as fast.  He lived in a neighborhood of “mini-castles,” each one designed to match the image the owner wanted to project. 

Driving through his neighborhood, Parti recalls, was like a spin through Disneyland. “The community was hermetically sealed, safe from the outside world, and I had come to believe that meant safe from physical illness as well.” Doctors don’t get sick, he had come to believe. But reality soon hit home, first with a diagnosis in 2008, at age 51, of prostate cancer, followed by surgery and various complications, including incontinence, impotence, and a dependency on antidepressants.  There were five more surgeries and then an infection around an artificial sphincter, filling his abdomen with pus. It was during the surgery, in 2010, to clean out the infection that Parti went out-of-body.  He recalls going up toward the ceiling, then looking down at the surgeons and nurses, and being mesmerized by the scene below him.

Then something happened which Parti did not understand.  “It was as though my field of vision became much wider and my consciousness expanded well beyond whatever it had been before, as though all of my senses had the ability to see, and what they saw could easily be different scenes,” he explains, going on to say that he dropped in on a conversation between his mother and sister in New Delhi.  He later verified the conversation with his mother and the clothes they were wearing.

But the NDE turned hellish and he heard a “voice” tell him that he had led a materialistic and selfish life, something he knew was true.  He recalls seeing his patients as “profit centers,” and having little empathy with them.  When they attempted to talk with him about personal concerns, he cut them off so he could rush home to his computer and play the stock market. “I lived inside my own carefully constructed bubble. I had forgotten about illness and death.  I had forgotten about fate and destiny.”

Ashamed of his self-centered life, Parti prayed for a second chance and was then greeted by his father, who appeared 30 years younger than when he died.  His father accompanied him to a family gathering, the ancestors welcoming his to a different realm.  Advice on becoming a more loving person was given before he was guided toward a “Being of Light,” by two beings he interpreted as “angels.”  One of the angels told Parti that he doesn’t own his possessions; they own him, and that breaking the bonds of materialism will bring him to a higher level.  The Being of Light informed him that he would return to his earthly life and become a “healer of souls.”  Parti was unable to identify the Being of Light as male or female as the brightness of the light kept him from seeing “it.” 

After a feeling of deceleration, Parti found himself in the recovery room, where the fellow anesthesiologist was there to welcome him back to consciousness.  When Parti attempted to tell him of his out-of-body experience, the anesthesiologist appeared disinterested.  As evidence of his experience, Parti told the anesthesiologist that he overheard his off-color joke during the surgery concerning the odor of the pus. The anesthesiologist responded that he must not have given him enough anesthesia.  Having monitored the anesthesia and knowing how much he had received, Parti informed him that he had given him enough and attempted to tell him about other aspects of his NDE; however, the anesthesiologist appeared uncomfortable and excused himself.  The surgeon reacted similarly when Parti tried to relate his experience to him. Other doctors, his colleagues, reacted with similar indifference, even antipathy.

Parti recalled that some of his patients had tried to tell him of their out-of-body experiences and meeting departed family members during surgery, but he was always too busy to hear them out.  Now the shoe was on the other foot and he didn’t like it.  As Parti interpreted it, he was a victim of karma – you reap what you sow.

As you might surmise at this point, Parti gave up his medical practice, downsized his house and cars and began learning to live with less.  His wife, a dentist, supported him in his new pursuit.  “In a matter of months, we had confronted our materialism and won,” Parti states.  “By talking rationally and separating our needs from our wants, we had changed the nature of our egos by 180 degrees.  Rather than needing more to feel good about ourselves, we discovered the wisdom of less….”  Parti is now practicing “consciousness-based healing,” which is grounded in meditation.

There is much more to Parti’s intriguing story, so much more.  Some of it will exceed the boggle threshold of even believers.  Of course, the debunkers will laugh it off as a dream, but it seems well established in NDE research that such transformations are often life-changing and go far beyond the influence of mere dreams, which are generally fleeting and vague.  If they are not fleeting and vague, then it may be a semantics issue, i.e., they are not “dreams.”  Whatever Dr. Parti experienced was very “real” to him and I don’t think any debunker is qualified to second-guess him. As Dr. Raymond Moody, the psychiatrist who did pioneering work in the field of near-death experiences, states in the Foreword of the book, Parti’s story is one of transcendence and transformation.  He calls it “one of the most astounding and complete near-death experiences I have heard in almost fifty years of investigating this phenomenon.”   

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:  Sept. 19


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Why Many ‘Nones’ Believe in Life After Death

Posted on 08 August 2016, 12:16

An Internet release on July 15 by Religion News Service (RNS) asked why so many “nones” – people claiming no religious affiliation – believe in life after death.  The article by Simon Davis notes that the trend in recent decades is toward less religiosity while belief in an afterlife seems to be up slightly over the same period.  Davis notes a study by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture indicating that 72 percent of Americans believe that there is some existence after death.  Surprisingly, at least to Davis, 32 percent of the “nones” said they believed in life after death. He sees this as “bucking the trend.”

The 32 percent belief among “nones” does not seem that much of a mystery to me.  It can be explained by the fact that most people who claim no religion are not necessarily atheists or non-believers in an afterlife; they are simply religion “dropouts” who haven’t taken the time to figure out what they believe or don’t believe.  They are young and so busy pursuing their careers and raising families or just “having fun” in a materialistic and hedonistic world that there has been no time or desire to delve into existential and spiritual matters.  Then again, there are “nones,” myself included, who have taken the time to try to figure it out, but we make up a very small percentage of the “nones” who do believe. 

The proposed explanations offered by Davis for belief in an afterlife include selfishness, incredulity at the finality of death, a desire to believe in infinite possibility, and hope for those without material possessions.  I’m pretty sure that few among the 72 percent believers will consciously admit to one or more of those reasons, but I think Davis is right.  A fair percentage of them believe because of religious indoctrination, but I doubt that more than two or three percent of the “believers” have arrived at their beliefs by examining all the evidence strongly suggesting it.  Of course, I am referring to the things usually discussed in this blog, including credible after-death communication, near-death experience, past-life studies, and various deathbed phenomena all pointing to survival of consciousness at death.

There seems to be quite a wide variance in such studies.  I recall a fairly recent survey putting the percentage of American believers at around 82 percent.  So much depends on the definitions given by those participating in the survey to various words.  Some studies have used “heaven” to be synonymous with “afterlife” and “atheist” to mean someone who doesn’t believe in God or an afterlife.  However, heaven is meaningless to some believers in an afterlife and there are atheists who believe in an afterlife but not in God, at least an anthropomorphic (humanlike) God.   

Davis also cites a recent study in Australia in which sociologist Andrew Singleton, interviewed 52 Australians aged 18-85.  Rather than a “yes” or “no” answer, Singleton queried people on the content and character of their beliefs.  Of the 52 people interviewed, 20 said they believe that “life continues in heaven,” while five said they believe we “continue on” as part of some greater consciousness.  In effect, those five do not believe that individual consciousness survives.  Nine said they believe in reincarnation and consider themselves “spiritual.”  Exactly what they believe happens to the soul between death and reincarnation or if there is a final incarnation and something after that seemed to be very vague and uncertain with most of them.  Two preferred to give no response.  The remaining 16 interviewees saw death as total extinction.

If we lump the heaven and reincarnation believers together, we have 29 of the 50 Australians who voiced their opinion, (58%), believing in some kind of individual survival and 21 (42%) rejecting such survival. 

According to Singleton, all of the 16 who said they do not believe claimed to be “entirely comfortable” in such belief.  He asked one of the 16 if he “secretly hoped” that there is life after death and the person claimed he didn’t.  I doubt, however, that many non-believers would admit to not being comfortable.  As I have observed it, it’s an ego thing, much more bravado (false courage) than indifference or true courage in the face of extinction.  I see it all the time on the Internet, mostly in comments left at some site discussing the subject of life after death. Nearly all of them, I sense, are young and fully engrossed in materialistic, even hedonistic, lifestyles.  They are former religionists who never get much past the point of dismissing a cruel and capricious god who lets bad things happen to people.  No god, no afterlife, they immediately conclude, falling back on their religious indoctrination that one has to identify an anthropomorphic (humanlike) god before taking the next step to believe in life after death.  They fail to see the forest for the trees, or rather they think they see the forest, but they haven’t really examined the trees.

When it is explained to these cynical non-believers that such a god as taught by religions is not required for a belief in life after death they are a bit taken aback as this runs contrary to their Sunday school teachings. When some evidence is offered to them that consciousness does survive death, they know just enough to counter with a theory that the medium was “fishing” for information in a cold reading or the near-death experience was no more than an hallucination resulting from oxygen deprivation.

When the young hedonist watches a sporting contest and see some athlete give thanks to God, he (sometimes she) smirks at such stupidity.  When he attends a Christmas pageant and hears religious songs, he snickers at such foolishness.  When he watches a movie and hears a grieving person mention that a deceased loved one is in a “better place” or “with God,” he sneers at such idiocy.  When someone suggests to him that there is strong evidence that consciousness does survive bodily death, he scoffs in self-righteous indignation.  However, when that same young hedonist first experiences the death of a spouse, partner, or a child, then we may very well see his smirk turn to a look of despair, his snicker to tears, his sneer to anguish, his scoff to downright hopelessness.  When some years later, he is told by his doctor that he has a fatal disease and only so many weeks to live before he falls into the abyss, the bravado turns to the tortured scream of a child.

All that is not to suggest that there are not some more stoic non-believers out there – those who can take the plunge into the abyss of nothingness without shaking in their boots.  My guess is that this person is probably living a life of pain or emotional despair and is in the same state of mind as the person who commits suicide.  To them, nothingness is better than a life of pain and suffering. However, I doubt that most of the 16 Australians are in this category.  As the existentialist Søren Kierkegaard put it, they are likely in despair; they just don’t realize it yet. 

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:  August 22


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Psychologist Matthew McKay Discusses Spirit Communication

Posted on 25 July 2016, 7:25

In his recently released book, Seeking Jordan, Matthew McKay, Ph.D., (below) details his efforts to connect with and communicate with his son Jordan, who had been murdered six years earlier, at age 23.  A clinical psychologist and professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, Calif., McKay began his journey of discovery with an introduction to induced after-death communication and moved on to channeled (automatic) writing and past-life and between-life regressions. 


McKay states that he had more than a hundred conversations with Jordan, (below) who told him of his initial awakening in his new realm of existence, reunions with deceased loved ones, and the life review, while also providing various other insights about life and life after death.


I recently put some questions to McKay by email for an interview featured in The Searchlight, a publication for the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies.

Dr. McKay, what were your views on life after death prior to beginning your search?

“My search to understand death and the afterlife began a half dozen years before Jordan’s death.  I read Journey of Souls by Michael Newton and learned about his hypnotic method for exploring the “life between lives.”  While I had been a dyed-in-the-wool agnostic, everything Newton described about the afterlife, and why we incarnate, resonated with me.  It felt like the truth I had waited all my life to hear.  I learned Newton’s past life and life between lives regression protocol, and used it with people I loved who wanted the experience.  After Jordan died, my search intensified because I was determined to find and make contact with my son on the other side.”

Were you familiar with various forms of post-death communication prior to Jordan’s death?  What was you attitude toward them?

“I knew – prior to Jordan’s death – about Alan Botkin’s “Induced After Death Communication” (IADC) because a friend had given me his book.  I do EMDR with my trauma patients (which Botkin’s IADC is based on) so his discovery that a small variation in the EMDR protocol could help us contact the dead fascinated me. In general, before Jordan died, I assumed psychics and mediums were charlatans.  And I thought most of the “after death communication industry” was bogus, feeding off people’s grief and need for reassurance.”

How long did it take you to master channeled writing?  Did it require much patience?  Were you familiar with it before?

“I had no knowledge of channeled writing before Ralph Metzner showed me how to do it.  He taught me the basic elements of channeled writing in a few minutes: Be in a place where you feel centered and connected to your core self. Have something to focus your attention (like a candle or a bright object). Have an object to connect you to the dead (something that belonged to the person or that they gave you). Use a meditative or hypnotic process to get into a receptive state (for me this is a simple breath focused meditation). Write down your first question (physically writing the question is a necessity for channeled writing). Make room for the answer.  Wait for a word or sentence fragment to show up.  Write it down and await the download of sentences to start.  Accept doubt, accept the thought that your brain can be making things up.  Keep listening for the answer to form in your mind; keep writing down what you ‘hear.’ When nothing more comes, write your next question.”

To what extent were the messages coming from Jordan new or in conflict with previous beliefs or ideas?  If not in conflict, how can you be sure you were not subconsciously providing the answers?  If new or in conflict, can you give an example or two?

“Many of Jordan’s messages have seemed new to me, ideas and concepts that had never before entered my mind.  While they didn’t seem in any way to dismantle the cosmology I’d gotten from Michael Newton and others, they seemed to greatly expand it.  They appeared to burst open these ideas of life purpose and what happens in the afterlife, and take them to a new level.  I knew, for example, that the purpose of life was learning.  But I had no idea that the wisdom each individual soul acquires contributes to the wisdom/ knowledge of collective consciousness (the divine/god).  I had no idea that each lesson in our lives allows – ultimately – collective consciousness (god) to make the next, more perfect universe.”

How do your peers in the psychology field react to your interest in psychic matters and your book?  How about students?

“I’ve shared Jordan’s lessons with very few of my colleagues in psychology.  These are people of science who revere randomized controlled trials and the measurement of human experience.  But many human experiences can only be described, not measured.  They can be given words, but never known in the form of metrics or quantitative analysis.  And for these experiences, we must rely on many, independent observations.  If Michael Newton hypnotized 7,000 naive subjects, and they all described a similar version of the afterlife, that means something.  If thousands of dying people report visits from dead loved ones to help them with the transition, that means something.  If Ian Stevenson, interviewing thousands of children who remembered past lives, discovered evidence of those past lives, that means something.  If Jordan tells me things about the purpose of life and the structure of the spirit world, and this single observation fits with others who report knowledge of the afterlife, this, too, means something.

“A few colleagues in the world of psychology, and particularly those who embrace mindfulness and Buddhist thought, have been very open to what I’ve learned from Jordan.  While committed to science, they can see beyond the limits of our material universe.”

Do you accept or reject the idea that spirits of the dead can influence us in a positive or negative way and even be the cause of extremely deviant or criminal behavior?  If you accept the idea, would you dare to suggest it to your peers, a patient, or to a student?

“I believe that spirits of the dead can only influence us in positive ways.  Once souls leave the physical plain and go through the re-entry process to the spirit world, they have access to knowledge gleaned from all their previous lives.  They know the purpose of life – to learn and gather wisdom – and they are bathed in love.  It is not possible for those souls to harm or damage the living.  These are myths perpetrated by people who do evil and wish to explain it via the supernatural.

“We can be influenced and affected by lessons we haven’t learned from past lives, but never by lost or evil spirits.  Some souls, after death linger because they are not yet aware that they have died.  And their presence may be experienced as a mood, a shadow, a hushed sense of distress.  But these souls have not direct power to hurt the living.”

How are we so influenced?

“Guides from the spirit world, as well as deceased loved ones, exert influence on our choices.  They whisper to us through random and strange thoughts, through sudden feelings or urges, to help us make wise choices.  Their messages are frequent visitors to our unconscious mind.  The ones we love on the other side, as well as masters and guides, are in constant communication.  And much of our work on this planet is to tune into our wise mind, or spiritual short wave radio, so we can hear them.

“Mainstream psychology is already studying the positive impact of meditation and prayer.  Now we need to examine how spiritual practices – and the connection to spirit – impacts human well-being:  When people receive messages from the other side? How does it impact them emotionally and behaviorally?  Do they make better choices?  Do they experience more love?  Do they experience loss differently, and with less pain?  We can actually measure these things, and it would advance scientific and human knowledge.”

Jordan mentioned that certainty is not a healthy state.  Is there a point between the blind faith of most religions and absolute certainty that you feel we should strive for relative to a belief that consciousness survives death?

“We live in a place where certainty is impossible.  Certainty about truth, about right and wrong, often results in holocausts – emotional and societal.  We need to hold every belief lightly – as a tentative truth that may later be modified or disproved.  The belief that there is an afterlife, that souls are immortal and come here between lives to learn, is not absolute truth.  It has been reported by many observers and there is much data to suggest that consciousness can exist outside the body.  None-the-less, nothing is certain about what the afterlife looks like or the eternal life of souls. Those of us who have sought to connect, and who have experienced the flooding sense of love from those on the other side have experiences to support the belief that the relationship between the living and the dead is never broken.

“It’s important to separate religious/moral beliefs that tell you how to act, from cosmologies –a picture of what the universe is and why we are in it.  Moral/religious beliefs dictate ‘right’ behavior – which often turns out to be damaging and hurtful.  Cosmologies (such as what Jordan tells me) describe our place and role in the cosmos.  We can evaluate the usefulness of cosmological beliefs by watching how they affect people – whether they become more loving, more at peace, more connected to all.”

So many people are turned off to the idea of a higher power and an afterlife when they suffer pain of one kind or another.  They claim it is not consistent with a just and loving Creator.  What do you say to them?

“Jordan has been very clear that pain is a necessary environment for souls to grow.  There are lessons we cannot learn without pain.  In fact, we come here to learn how to love in the face of pain.  This planet is a school that teaches us how to make wise choices when we hurt, and everything around us is threatening us with pain and loss.

“Pain is not a sign we are bad or have done wrong.  Our work here is not to seek pleasure and avoid suffering.  Our work here is to ask the question: ‘What can I learn from this pain?  What wisdom, what truth lies at the root of this pain?’  Every choice we make in the face of pain teaches us, and what we learn is uploaded to collective consciousness, to the all, to god.

“Pain is a sacred path through which we grow, and because of us, it is how god grows.”

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: August 8

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Life after Death: Keith Parsons reaches the masses!

Posted on 11 July 2016, 10:25

Imagine, if you will, more than 130,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear the pope speak.  I don’t know if the pope has anything meaningful to say in that imaginary situation; I sort of doubt it.  However, I’m sure that nearly all of the 130,000 people who have viewed Keith Parson’s (below) Youtube documentary on life after death will agree that it is very meaningful.  Oh, there are the fundamentalists of both science and religion who don’t get it and probably never will, at least in this lifetime, but I know that those who do “get it” will agree with me that it is the best documentary on the subject ever produced.


“I was watching a TV documentary in 2008, here in England, that was being sceptical about psychic phenomena, as usual,” Parsons responded by email when I asked him what motivated him to produce the video.  “After it was over, I stormed into the kitchen and declared to my partner something like: ‘They’ve done it again – rubbishing this subject!’ And she said, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’ And that was a challenge that set me to thinking … Having read around this topic for quite some time, I’d wondered about writing a book. But frankly, it would just have been yet another journalistic pot-boiler. There are other authors, far more qualified than I, to write on this topic. And in any case, I think the general public is turning increasingly to the TV and computer screen in their leisure time. Books are for the seriously interested, videos appeal to a general audience, so I went out, bought a camera, and hey, presto – two documentaries!”

In addition to that first documentary, titled “This Life, Next Life,” Parsons has recently produced a second video, “This Life, Past Life,” which deals with the subject of reincarnation.  It should be of interest to many. 

Parsons is a retired radio current affairs producer who spent many years with BBC World Service, London, often traveling the world while making documentaries on international politics and economics.  I recently put some questions to him by email.

When and how did you become interested in the subject of life after death?

“As the years went by, my partner became more afraid of flying, so we discussed this and concluded it was not the ‘flying’ at issue, but the prospect of ‘dying’. So I googled ‘Scientific Proof of an Afterlife’, thinking if I could demonstrate that death is not final this might help her (not believing in this stuff myself, though). I found 29,000 websites popped up in a quarter second back in the 1990s. (I did this again today, and now there are 380,000 sites, which demonstrates the burgeoning interest in this topic). It turned out that this was my partner’s ‘gift’ to me since I became fascinated by the topic and did a lot of reading. Unfortunately, however, it has not helped her!

“One brilliant web site at the time, now archived, was called the International Survivalist Society. Subsequently, having done a lot of reading, I wrote a racy novel in 2004 – both humorous and serious – with evidence for the afterlife built into it as a way of introducing people to this amazing material. Entitled Lucky James? it languished in my desk drawer until this year, when finally, 12 years later, it was published and is available on Amazon both as a kindle and as a paperback for folks in U.K. It’s available in Kobo and iBook, too.”

Did you have any prior beliefs, religious or otherwise?

“I was brought up in the Swedenborgian New Church, but left by age 17. One day the minister said: ‘You know, you’ll never reason yourself into a belief in God, you’ll only reason yourself out it,’ and I thought: ‘Well that doesn’t say much for God!’  and that was it, goodbye Church.”

So, how would you summarize your current beliefs relative to survival and related topics?

“Based on my reading, like you, Mike, I’m 98 percent convinced of the survival of consciousness after death, but I allow 2 percent for continued doubt while I wait for the 100 percent proof that absolutely nobody could deny. If I lived in Brazil when the physical medium Carmine Mirabelli was alive, to witness his materialisations in front of large audiences in broad daylight, then maybe I’d be 100 percent convinced, but currently I am disappointed that materialisation mediums still require to work in the dark. A film of materialisations – where trick photography has been ruled out – is urgently needed, and would clinch the matter. For me ‘evidence’ is crucial, otherwise we can find ourselves accepting speculation as fact. So, although I find for example, the afterlife communications of Frederick Myers through Geraldine Cummins (The Road to Immortality) and the communications of Monsignor Hugh Benson through Anthony Borgia (Life in the World Unseen) to be really interesting (and there are many more such books), I’m not sure how much trust we can put in what they say, since they are not evidential. Is it possible to be authoritative without evidence? I’m trying to get away from belief based only on faith. As a result, I think we should be reserved about any statement beyond this: that there is most probably an afterlife dimension.”

What do you find to be the most convincing evidence?

“In my first documentary, I go very strongly in favour of the Scole Experiments and the mediumship of Leonora Piper. And in the second one, which was launched only on 30th June this year, I go strongly in favour of a couple of evidential hypnosis past life cases: that of Ray Bryant remembering the 19th century life of Reuben Stafford, a soldier in the Crimean War; and that of L.D., remembering the life of Antonia, an innkeeper in Spain in the 16th century (Under the Inquisition by Linda Tarazi, published by Hampton Roads). I also find Professor Ian Stevenson’s photographic birthmark evidence in the remembered lives of children to be as fascinating as it is mystifying.

“The one other case I wish I had included in my documentaries is that of the Kluski wax hand moulds that I understand can be seen at the Institut Metapsychique International, in Paris. These moulds were taken at a séance from a materialised spirit who dipped his/her hands into a bucket of wax, which then solidified. The only way for these fragile moulds to remain intact was for the hands to subsequently de-materialise. The interesting thing is that the wax was mixed with a dye that would have got onto the skin of any live human interloper trying to cheat in the dark. I confess, however, that I have yet to visit Paris to see these moulds for myself. Incidentally, I was also very interested in the mediumship of Daniel Dunglas Home.”

If you had to pick three most convincing cases from the annals of psychical research and parapsychology relative to survival, which ones would you pick?  Why?

“It crosses my mind that the English researcher Sir William Crookes (below) has been criticised far more than he deserves and that his scientific approach to his investigations made them most convincing. It is notable that he never retracted his view that his findings were legitimate, despite being denigrated by professional colleagues. As mentioned above, I also think that the Scole Experiments are also top-notch, and they are so well known there is no need to go into them here. I am also aware of the importance of EVP and ITC, but have some difficulty getting my head round why statements coming from the other side using these techniques should be so incredibly short instead of conversational. However, I wouldn’t be amazed if, in due course, the final proof we seek comes from this direction.”


If you could go back in time and meet three psychical researchers, spending a day with each one, who would you choose?

“Sir William Crookes, Richard Hodgson, and (he’s still alive) Professor Gary Schwartz.”

If you could go back in time and observe a medium at his or her best, who would it be?

“I’m spoilt for choice! Daniel Dunglas Home, Stainton Moses, Mirabelli, Chico Xavier……Just one? I can’t.”

Do you see today’s research as good as that of yesteryear?  If not, why do you think that is?

“In the old days folk used to hold séances as a way of spending a pleasant time with friends, as well as looking for afterlife evidence. So there were a lot of sitters, more mediums and a lot was achieved in terms of evidence. Today, there are far more distractions through the media, and popular interest in spiritual investigation is often ridiculed and has been overwhelmed by materialism. So fewer people are inclined to devote the time and attention needed to get results. Having said that, the work of Gary Schwartz with his double blind investigation of mediums was valuable since it adopted scientific protocols, and others such as Dr Beischel’s Veritas programme continue to do careful work. Another point made by some commentators, and I don’t know if it is true, is that the technological world of today is now more penetrated by electro-magnetic emanations, making contact with the other side more difficult.”

What are your thoughts as to why the research is not better known or better accepted?

“In my recent Youtube documentary This Life, Past Life, I refer to a BBC Wales TV programme examining the research of Professor Stevenson on children’s past life memories. It was made in 1992 – that is to say, 24 years ago. I can’t imagine such an open-minded programme being made today. It seems to me that now the media – both radio and TV – are dominated by materialist scientists with a disproportionate influence on programme making decisions, so psychical research never gets onto the agenda.”

What feedback have you received from your videos (both positive and negative)?

“The hundreds of comments on Youtube reflect the variety of opinions that exist in the world. To begin with – plenty of praise for an interesting job well done, amateur though it is. But I detect positive attitudes are now tailing off even though the number of viewings is not – 130,000 views in the first year with about 2,500 more each month. Perhaps more religious perspectives are being expressed that don’t appreciate my rational approach to the subject.

Thanks, Keith.  I believe you have done a great service.

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.

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An Interview with Judge John W. Edmonds

Posted on 27 June 2016, 8:18

John W. Edmonds, (below) who served as Chief Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, is believed to have been the first true psychical researcher.  Following the advent of the spirit communication epidemic that hit the world with the so-called “Rochester Knocking” in 1848, a number of educated and prominent men and women observed various mediumistic phenomena, but Edmonds carried his investigation beyond a few casual observations.  Beginning in early 1851, he sat with numerous mediums, closely testing them in every conceivable way in search of the truth.


Early in 1852, Edmonds met George T. Dexter, (below) a New York physician, who, like Edmonds, had begun as a doubter, then had become a believer, and then a medium himself.  Edmonds, Dexter, and several others formed a circle that met on a regular basis and received lengthy discourses purportedly coming from the spirits of Emanuel Swedenborg and Francis Bacon through the hand of Dexter. 

Before being elevated to the State Supreme Court, Edmonds (1816-74) served in both houses of the New York legislature, including as president of the Senate.  This “interview” with Edmonds is drawn from his two books, Spiritualism, Volumes I and II, co-authored with Dexter.  Except for words in brackets, inserted to provide a smooth transition, the words are verbatim from the books. The questions have been tailored to fit the answers. 

Judge Edmonds, it is my understanding that you began your investigation of mediums in January 1851, soon after the death of your wife.  Is that the case?

“[Yes,] I was at the time withdrawn from general society.  I was laboring under the great depression of spirits.  I was occupying at my leisure in reading on the subject of death and man’s existence afterwards. I was invited by a friend to witness the ‘Rochester Knockings.’  I complied, more to oblige her and to while away a tedious hour.”

I recall reading that you expected to uncover fraud.

“I was all this time an unbeliever, and tried the patience of believers sorely by my skepticism, my captiousness, and my obdurate refusal to yield my belief.  I saw around me some who yielded a ready faith on one or two sittings only; others again, under the same circumstances, avowing a determined unbelief; and some who refused to witness it at all, and yet were confirmed unbelievers. I could not imitate any of these parties, and refused to yield unless upon most irrefragable testimony.”

What were your religious beliefs at the time you commenced your investigation?

“I had in the course of my life read and heard from the pulpit so many contradictory and conflicting doctrines on the subject that I hardly knew what to believe.  I could not, if I would, believe what I could not understand, and was anxiously seeking to know if after death we should again meet with those whom we loved here, and under what circumstances.” 

What happened at your first sitting?

“My first interview (sitting) was with the rappings (one rap for each letter of the alphabet, so three raps for ‘yes,’ and one for ‘no’), and three things struck me as remarkable.  One was that under the circumstances it was beyond all cavil that the sounds were not produced by the instrumentality of any person present.  Another was that my mental questions were answered, when I knew no person present could know what they were, or even that I was asking any; and a third was, that I was directed to correct a mistake I had made in my written memorandum of what was occurring, when I knew that no one present was aware that I had made a mistake, or what it was.”

Do you recall the mistake?

“A communication was being spelled out by the alphabet, and I was writing it down.  I wrote, ‘No one.  Not wo.’  My mistake was not seen by any of the party, but it was corrected by [the raps] spelling out ‘Number one.  Number two.’”

What did you make of the rappings?

“Of course I was on the look out for deception, and at first relied upon my senses and the conclusions which my reason might draw from their evidence.  But I was at a loss to tell how the mediums could cause what I witnessed under these circumstances … I thought a good deal on what I witnessed, and determined to investigate the matter and find out what it was.  If it was a deception or a delusion, I thought that I could detect it.  For about four months, I devoted at least two evenings in a week, and sometimes more, to witnessing the phenomena in all its phases.  I kept careful records of all I witnessed, and from time to time compared them with each other, to detect inconsistencies and contradictions.  I read all I could lay my hands on, on the subject, and especially all the professed ‘exposures of the humbug.’ I went from place to place, seeing different mediums, meeting with different parties of persons, often with persons I had never seen before, and sometimes where I was myself entirely unknown.  In fine, I availed myself of every opportunity that was afforded, thoroughly to sift the matter to the bottom.”

Were you assisted by anyone in your investigation?

“After depending upon my senses, as to the various phases of the phenomenon, I invoked the aid of science, and with the assistance of an accomplished electrician and his machinery, and of eight or ten intelligent, educated, shrewd persons, examined the matter.  We pursued our inquiries many days, and established to our satisfaction two things:  first, that the sounds were not produced by the agency of any person present or near us; and, second, that they were not forthcoming at our will and pleasure.”     

Would you mind relating a little more about those early investigations?

“At my [second] interview, several things occurred to attract my attention.  None of my questions were asked orally, some were written, and some merely framed in my mind, yet all were answered correctly.  Once I began writing a question which I had thought, and it was answered when I had written only two words of it.  Again was I told to correct a mistake in my minutes – for I was a novice, and did not do the business as well as I might – and we were told of what was occurring in the adjoining parlor with a person who had entered the room since we had left it, and which, on throwing open the folding doors, we found to be correct.”

So, what was your initial reaction to all that?

“I was startled, for here was to me evidence from which I could not escape, that my most secret thoughts were known to the intelligence that was dealing with me.  There was no avoiding the conclusion.  Reason upon it as I would, imagine what solution I might, there was the fact plainly before me, and I knew it.”

I understand that the communication sometimes came through in other languages.

“I have known Latin, French, and Spanish words spelled out through the rappings, and I have heard mediums who knew no language but their own speak in those languages, and in Italian, German, and Greek, and in other languages unknown to me, but which were represented to be Arabic, Chinese, and Indian, and all done with the ease and rapidity of a native.”

In your book, you wrote that one medium told you about the death of your friend, Isaac T. Hopper.

“[Correct], about 10 o’clock in the evening, while attending the circle, I asked if I might put a mental question.  I did so, and I knew that no person present could know what it was, or to what subject even it referred.  My question related to Mr. Hopper [who had been ill], and I received for answer through the rappings, as from himself, that he was dead!  I hastened immediately to his house, and found it was so.  That could not have been [known] by anyone present, for they did not know of his death, they did not know my question, nor did they understand the answer I received.  It could not have been the reflex of my own mind, for I had left him alive, and thought he would live several days. And what it was but what it purported to be, I can not imagine.” 

How about physical phenomena?  

“To detail what I witnessed would far exceed the limits of this communication, for my records of it for those four months alone fill at least one hundred and thirty closely-written pages.  I will, however, mention a few things, which will give a general idea of that which characterized interviews, now numbering several hundred … I have known a pine table with four legs lifted bodily up from the floor, in the center of a circle of six or eight persons, turned upside down and laid upon its top at our feet, then lifted up over our heads, and put leaning against the back of the sofa on which we sat.  I have known that same table to be tilted up on two legs, its top at an angle with the floor of forty-five degrees, when it neither fell over of itself, nor could any person present put it back on its four legs.  I have seen a mahogany table, having only a center leg, and with a lamp burning on it, lifted from the floor at least a foot, in spite of the efforts of those present, and shaken backward and forward as one would shake a goblet in his hand, and the lamp retain its place though its glass pendants rang again.  I have seen the same table tipped up with the lamp upon it, so far that the lamp must have fallen off unless retained there by something else than its own gravity, yet if fell not, moved not … I have frequently known persons pulled about with a force which it was impossible for them to resist, and once, when all my strength was added in vain to that of the one thus affected.  This is not a tithe – nay! not a hundredth part of what I have witnessed of the same character, but it is enough to show the general nature of what was before me.”

I recall reading somewhere that all this tomfoolery was intended by the spirits to prove their existence.  Is that what you understood?

“[It was said at one sitting that] ‘these manifestations are given to mankind to prove their immortality, and teach them to look forward to the change from one sphere to another with pleasure.’… I was satisfied that something more was intended than the gratification of an idle curiosity; something more than pandering to a diseased appetite for the marvelous; something more than the promulgation of oracular platitudes; something more than upsetting material objects to the admiration of the wonder-lover; something more than telling the age of the living or the dead, etc.” 

What was that “something more”?

“[It] was the intelligence displayed by this unseen power.  That was almost always manifested at every interview, and the question that obviously presented itself on the very outset was, whether that was from the mind of any mortal present, or from some other source.  So that, even if it had been established that the sounds and physical manifestations of which I have been speaking were produced by mortal agency, still the question remained, whence came the intelligence that was displayed?  For instance:  What was the power that read the thoughts which I had buried for a quarter of a century in the depths of my heart?  What was the power that knew my interrogatory the instant it was formed in my mind?  What was the power that read the questions which I had written in the solitude of my study?  What the power that revealed my secret purposes to the bystanders, and the purposes to the bystanders, and the purposes of others to me?

But did you ask the communicating spirits what it was all about?

“[Certainly], one of the first of [my] questions was this: What is this which I am witnessing?  Is it a departure from nature’s laws or in conformity with them?  Is it a miracle, or is it the operation of some hitherto unknown but pre-existing cause, now for the first manifesting itself?  The answer I got was:  It is the result of human progress, it is an execution, not a suspension, of nature’s laws, and it is not now for the first time manifesting itself, but in all ages of the world has at times been displayed.”

As you and others have often asked, Cui Bono?

“To that inquiry I have directed my earnest attention, devoting to the task for over two years all the leisure I could command, and increasing that leisure as far as I could by withdrawing myself from all my former recreations … I found there were very many ways in which this unseen intelligence communed with us, besides the rappings and table tippings (automatic writing, direct writing, trance voice), and that through those other modes there came very many communications distinguished for their eloquence, their high order of intellect and their pure and lofty moral tone; at the same time I discovered many inconsistencies and contradictions that were calculated to mislead.”

Calculated to mislead?  I don’t understand.

“The difficulty in all this matter lies in our expecting too much perfection in the spirits, in looking upon them in knowing more than they do, and as being able to do more than they can; in other words in the erroneous conception of the true nature and character of the spirit world … [Moreover] I have good reason to believe that there is in the spirit world much opposition to this intercourse with us, and that a combination has been formed to interrupt and, if possible, to overthrow it, and one mode is by visiting circles and individuals, exciting their suspicions of spirits, and bad thoughts as to their good faith and purity of purpose.”

So there may very well be reasons why some passages in Scripture warn against it?

“Oh, how sad is the mistake of him, who from a superficial examination, ventures to pronounce it all evil!  He may as well enter the dens of iniquity in this great city, and hearing amid its festering wickedness the mingled shout of blasphemy and ribaldry that will ascend before him, thence infer that such is the character of this whole community.”

There was so much wisdom that came through.

“[The] general character has been such as to warrant me saying that I have been struck with their beauty – their sublimity at times – and the uniformly elevated tone of morals which they teach.  They are eminently practical in their character, and not in a sentiment is to be found that would be unacceptable to the most pure and humble Christian.  The lessons which they are those of love, kindness, and are addressed to the calm, deliberate reason of man, asking from him no blind faith, but a careful inquiry and a deliberate judgment … [At one sitting] it was said, ‘Imitate Christ in his humility, in his submission to the will of God, and in his love to man, and you will be acceptable to God.’” 

I understand that that the discourses from Swedenborg and Bacon were received through Dr. Dexter’s hand.  Would you mind explaining a little of that?

“The handwriting of each is unlike the other, and though both are written by Dr. Dexter’s hand, they are both unlike his; so that with ease, when he is under the influence (of spirits), he writes several different kinds of handwriting, and some of them more rapidly than he can write his own.  This he cannot do when he is not under the influence; and I have never seen any person that could, in his normal condition, write with such rapidity, at one sitting, four of five different kinds of handwriting, each distinctly marked, and having and always retaining its peculiar characteristic.”

Although Swedenborg (below) and Bacon appear to be in agreement with each other, one of the difficulties in accepting all of this spirit communication is the fact that there are occasionally various contradictions relative to what is supposedly truth. I take it that this is because the spirits are at different levels of advancement.


“[True], there are at times contradictions and inconsistencies in spiritual intercourse, as all must be aware, but there is one remarkable fact, viz., that amid all these incongruities – through all mediums, whether partially or highly developed – from all the spirits who commune, whether progressed or unprogressed, there is a universal accordance on one point, and that is that we pass into the next state of existence just what we are in this; and that we are not suddenly changed into a state of perfection or imperfection, but find ourselves in a state of progression, and that this life on earth is but a preparation for the next, and the next but a continuation of this.”
It’s often said that the messages are distorted by the mind of the medium.  Are you in agreement with that?

“I know of no mode of spiritual intercourse that is exempt from a mortal taint – no kind of mediumship where the communication may not be affected by the mind of the instrument.  Take my own mediumship as an illustration.  The visions which I have are impressed on my mind as vividly and distinctly as any material object possibly can be, yet in giving them to others, I must rely upon and use my own powers of observation, my own memory, my own command of language, and I not infrequently labor under the difficulty of feeling that there is no work known to me that is adequate to conveying the novel ideas communicated. I am often conscious that I fail, from poverty of language, in conveying the sentiment I receive with the same vigor and clearness with which it comes to me.  So it is also with what I may call the didactic teachings through me.  Sometimes the influence is so strong that I am given, not merely the ideas, but the very words in which they are clothed, and I am unconscious what I am going to say until I actually say it.  At other times, the thought is given me sentence by sentence, and I know not what idea or sentence is to follow, but the language used is my own and is selected by myself from my own memory’s storehouse.  And at other times the whole current of thought or process of reasoning is given me in advance, and I choose for myself the language and the illustrations used to convey it, and sometimes the order of giving it. But in all these modes there is more or less of myself in them, more or less of my individuality underlying it all.  It must indeed be so, or why should I speak or write in my own tongue rather than in a dead or a foreign language unknown to me?”

Before you released your reports to the public, what was the popular view of all this spirit intercourse?

“I was early aware that the world at large looked upon the subject as exceedingly trivial and inconsiderable.  I was not surprised at this, because I saw that what reached the general ear through the common newspapers of the day was almost always unimportant, and frequently absurd and ridiculous.  There were good reasons for this.  The conductors of those journals desired to insert only what would amuse their readers, and were unwilling, and often refused, to open their columns to the graver and more important matters that flowed from the same source.  And then they who received those more serious communications did not often feel themselves called upon to court the scoffs and sneers and persecution of the world, merely for the purpose of giving to that world that which aimed only at the general good.”

What made you decide to go public with your findings?

“I went into the investigation originally thinking it a deception, and intending to make public my exposure of it.  Having from my researches, come to a different conclusion, I feel that the obligation to make known the results is just as strong.  Therefore, it is mainly, that I give the result to the world.  I say mainly, because there is another consideration which influences me, and that is the desire to extend to others a knowledge which I am conscious can not but make them happier and better.”

I know you received much criticism from politicians and the press for making public your views.  Do you have any regrets?

“I knew full well what I should draw down upon myself by speaking out.  I could not mistake all I saw around me: one universal shout of ridicule and condemnation of all who professed to believe, nay!  Even of those who went into the investigation at all, unless they came out of it fiery red in their denunciation of it as an ‘atrocious imposture.’  I knew full well that truth was ever born with many a bitter pang, and most to him who gave it birth.  And I had no right to expect, nor did I expect, to escape this common and apparently inevitable fate.  But I confess that at first I shrank at the prospect before me.”

Why do you think so many people scoff and sneer at what should be welcome news?

“His wisdom is that of the driven sheep, which leaps over an unreal obstacle because another sheep has just done it before him; and of him, at least it can not be truly said, ‘Never does nature open her breast before a worthy mind only that it may behold, and then fall asleep.’”

Thank you, Judge Edmonds.  Any parting thoughts?

[“Let me leave you with the message given to me at one of the sittings]: ‘No one can begin to progress until he has correct ideas of the future existence; and it is only when not in error on that subject, only when knowing our spiritual nature and destiny that we begin to progress.’”

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:  July 11

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Truth or Falsehood, Charisma or Buffoonery?

Posted on 13 June 2016, 8:08

It has become increasingly clear to me over the years that one cannot rely on history books, the media, or Internet references for historical “truth.”  So much of what passes as “history” is subject to the biases or prejudices of the historian or the reporter.  Much of it depends on rumor or hearsay and has been increasingly distorted as it is retold by newer historians and reporters who skew their write-ups to their own predilections.  Semantics plays a big part in the distortion as different meanings are given to different words by different people.


Perhaps the best example of all this is the Bible, which has been subject to various translations and interpretation over the centuries. According to Dr. Robert A. Morey, a professor of Apologetics and Hermeneutics, the word nephesh is used 754 times in the Hebrew Bible, but it takes on 30 different meanings today, ranging from “soul” and “the dead” to “fish” and “dogs,” while the Greek word aion is found in the New Testament 108 times and is given 10 different meanings, including “forever,” “ages,” “occasionally,” and “never.” What we read in the English Bible as “everlasting punishment” meant “age-long pruning” in the original Greek.  Does anyone doubt that the various scribes chose the verbiage that best suited the dogma and doctrine of the authorities they represented or their own personal beliefs? 

A more individual example was discussed in my blog of July 13, 2015 concerning Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of our 16th president.  While many historians have focused more on what they see as Mary Lincoln’s objectionable characteristics – her excessive spending, her mood swings, her outspokenness – a thorough reading of recorded history suggests much exaggeration of the negative and understatement of the positive. Writing in 1887, John Nicolay, who served as secretary to President Lincoln, said that accounts of Mary Lincoln’s bizarre behavior were overstated.  To the objective reader of the many Lincoln biographies, Mary can be seen as intelligent, shrewd, eloquent, affectionate, witty, gregarious, debonair, cultured, frank, and very much devoted to her husband and children. 

Indications are that many of the negative portrayals of Mary Lincoln originated with William Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner and early biographer.  Apparently Mary disliked Herndon, said to be an alcoholic, from the beginning, and avoided contact with him as much as possible. Herndon got his revenge when he wrote and spoke about Lincoln and his wife after the president was assassinated.  It was Herndon who started the story that Ann Rutledge was Lincoln’s “true love,” not Mary, but indications are that Herndon greatly exaggerated Lincoln’s relationship with Rutledge in order to hurt Mary. 

As I see it, the grossest distortions of truth are found on the Internet in the Wikipedia biographies of various mediums.  If we are to believe Wikipedia contributors, all mediums are frauds.  At least, I have yet to find a genuine medium in any Wikipedia biography.  It is clear to anyone who knows anything about mediumship, that the Wikipedia contributors do not understand mediumship or are know-nothing debunkers. If the medium failed to produce phenomena on a particular occasion or if some skeptical observer didn’t grasp what was going on, it was reported that the person was a charlatan, and those reports have survived over the years because of various prejudices and a general lack of information.  It’s as if they were to call Babe Ruth a failure as a baseball player because he struck out twice as many times as he hit home runs.

I know I’ll take some flak for this example of what I’ll call “history run amok,” as so many people seem to believe that the late Muhammad Ali ranks up there with Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Padre Pio when it comes to revered individuals. As an avid sports fan since the 1940s, I would rank Ali high on a list of the greatest athletes I have seen, maybe even in my top 10, but I fail to see his buffoonery as “charisma” or to see him as the “Second Coming,” as the media would have us believe.

To the best of my recollection, the bombastic celebrations of victory in nearly all sports began with Ali and the emergence of television during the 1960s.  Before then, there were very few ostentatious displays of ego.  I can recall no surly displays of emotion, no menacing gestures, no pumping of the arm and fist, no pounding of the chest, no cupping of the ears and beckoning to the crowd for more applause, no punching the sky with a snarl, no shaking of the fist at the crowd, no idiotic end zone dances, no diatribe, before Ali came along, except in professional wrestling, which was not really “sport.”  I remember when athletes celebrated victory with a smile and an appreciative nod or with a tip of the cap.  Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sandy Koufax, and Floyd Patterson come to mind as athletes who knew how to win with grace and humility.  Maybe “class” is a better word.  More recently, I’d put Cal Ripken, Jr., Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, and Tim Tebow in that category of class acts.

After Ali’s recent death, I watched various television newscasters, commentators, and journalists, not to mention our current president and a past president, pay homage to him with a reverence usually reserved for heads of state or great philanthropists.  Some of them were not born or old enough to have witnessed Ali do his act in the prize-fighting ring, but obviously they have bought into the legend – a legend that seems to have been created by a need for sensationalism among journalists, especially television journalists, and one fueled by anti-war activism (since Ali rejected military service).  In effect, the world’s greatest play warrior refused to be a real warrior.  That paradox apparently   contributed to the legend and somehow resulted in buffoonery or tomfoolery being translated to charisma.

As I see it, it is all part of our celebrity-worshiping culture, resulting from our materialistic and hedonistic ways.  Those who no longer have an anthropomorphic God to look up to have a need for some icon, some hero to idolize, and in the search for such a human champion emotion and prejudice prevail over reason.  Those same emotions and prejudices influence the history we read or hear about. 

All that is not to suggest that the truths I accept are absolute rather than subjective and relative.  It may very well be that Ali deserves all that homage, that all mediums are fakes, that Mary Lincoln was really a “witch,” that the Bible is the literal and true word of God.  Or the “truth”  may be in some shade of gray that our senses have difficulty in discerning and which escapes historians and reporters in their efforts to offer a black and white picture we can fully grasp rather than a very fuzzy or abstract one.  If we all had the absolute truth, life probably wouldn’t offer the same challenges and we wouldn’t have the same opportunities to learn and evolve spiritually.  Moreover, I don’t think it would be as much fun and many of us wouldn’t have anything to write about. 

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: June 27   

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An “Interview” with Hester Travers Smith

Posted on 31 May 2016, 7:26

A resident of Dublin, Ireland, Hester Travers Smith (1868-1949) was the daughter of Professor Edward Dowden, a distinguished Shakespearian scholar, and the wife of a prominent Dublin physician. She was primarily a ouija board medium, sitting regularly with a small group of friends, including Lennox Robinson, a world-renowned Irish playwright, and the Rev. Savell Hicks, M.A.  Sir William Barrett, the distinguished physicist and psychical researcher, was a close personal friend and also attended a number of sittings with the group. Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous automatist in history, was introduced to mediumship by Travers Smith, who is referred to in books by Cummins by her maiden name, Hester Dowden. (Below). Travers Smith was also an automatic writing medium.

This “interview” with Travers Smith is based on her 1919 book, Voices From the Void, published by E. P. Dutton & Co.  Except for words in brackets, inserted to permit a flow and the occasional omission of transitional words, the responses are verbatim from the book.  The questions have been formed to fit the “responses.”

Miss Travers Smith, would you mind elaborating a little on your experiences in mediumship?

“[Certainly], I have never attended a séance for materialization; I have never seen a ghost.  Nearly all my experiences have come to me through automatism.  I must confess that for some time past I have been quite clear and decided on one point – in feeling that the subliminal self accounts for much and many things, but not for everything.  I am convinced, in fact, that external influences of some nature work through us, using our senses, eyes, ears, brains, etc., their messages, however, being highly colored by the personalities of their mediums.  I feel sure that hardly any of the communications I have had are entirely due to subconsciousness.”

By “automatism,” I take it you are referring to the ouija board and automatic writing.  Do you use a special ouija board?

“The best ouija board, the one I invariably use myself, is a card table covered with green baize, on which the letters of the alphabet, the numbers from 0 to 9, and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are laid, cut separately on small pieces of cardboard; over this is placed a sheet of plate glass, the same size as the table.  The traveler consists of a small triangular piece of wood, about half an inch thick, shod with three small pieces of carpet felt and having on top a piece of soft rubber material on which the fingers rest.”

Do the words come slowly?
“I think the experimenters, who try the ouija board, will, if they have any psychic power, soon be amazed at the rapidity with which the traveler flies from letter to letter.  The cooperation of two automatists seems best; three seems to create confusion … I can answer for myself, and I believe for my fellow sitters, that never in the course of all the months we sat together did we see the board while communications were coming through, nor did any of us know at the time what these communications were, as they were recorded in silence by a friend, who was obliged to take them down in shorthand, such was the rapidity with which the traveler moved from letter to letter.

I understand that many of your messages came through while you and the other sitter were blindfolded, a third person recording the messages.  Is that common?

“The gift of ‘seeing without eyes’ is certainly comparatively rare.  I have sought diligently for mediums who possess the power of working blindfold, and find they are few in number.  In fact, I have only met four out of the many I have tried who have this gift.  I generally distinguish a blindfold worker by the fact that before he has had any suggestion that we should close our eyes he will close his of his own accord, and prefer to sit without looking at the letters.  Blindfold sitting is very exhausting as a rule.”
When there are two sitters, does one usually supply most of the power?

“The [spirit] control will generally say he requires ‘a negative and a positive.’  What this means exactly it is hard to understand, but from watching many combinations at the ouija board, I have gathered that a ‘positive’ medium receives the message through his or her brain and transmits it to the board, while a negative possesses the driving force.  I mean that, apparently, one sitter supplies mental, and the other muscular power.”

You have stated that results weren’t as good when Lennox Robinson was not sitting with you.

“It seemed that the really marvelous power of ‘seeing without eyes’ rested largely, or perhaps completely, with Mr. Robinson. (Below).  After he had left Dublin and the circle was broken, the Rev. Savell Hicks and I tried repeatedly to get messages blindfolded, but without success.  I have succeeded in getting blindfold work through with other mediums, but none of them have the rapidity and certainty possessed with Mr. Robinson.”


You also mention in the book that results are often slow, uncertain, and cannot be forced. Would you mind elaborating a little on that?

“Indeed, one asks oneself whether time is well spent seeking for the few grains of gold one finds in the huge dust heaps of disappointment and dullness.  The value of these golden grains seems immense when one has wandered about in a Hades of dim trivialities and even absurdities, spending evening after evening receiving messages from known, or unknown persons of a kind which would not do credit to a very mediocre letter writer.  Yet, these communications purport to be what the unknown control has an ardent desire to get through from the world of mystery to those still alive!  Many times I have felt inclined to give up this apparently hopeless pursuit, elusive and as it is.”

What about automatic writing?

“This mode of communication has produced most interesting results without doubt, but there are objections to it. A pencil is held generally between the first and third fingers of the hand of the medium; it touches the paper, and as a rule, after some preliminary flourishes and twirls, the pencil begins to write coherent words and messages.  These messages vary according to the communicator, and the handwriting changes as different personalities appear.  Sometimes the writing is that of a child, then of an old person, etc. One of my objections is that the script is generally difficult to decipher, as the pencil cannot be lifted as in ordinary handwriting, and the manuscript is full of scrawls and hard to read.  This is not my only objections on automatic writing, which, for some unknown reason, leads in certain cases to continual pain in the arm, an irresistible desire to write, nervous upset, and consequent physical prostration. However, without doubt, most interesting and evidential results have been obtained by automatic writing, and my objections to this method do not hold good in all cases.”

Can you generalize in describing a routine case of apparent communication?

“In almost all cases where a discarnate spirit professes to speak, I ask for an account of his passing over.  These accounts vary very little; they all retain the same features, though some are more detailed than others.  In all cases, a period of darkness is described as occurring almost immediately after death.  This darkness appears to be a penance or purgatory for the soul left thus in lonely and silent meditation, and it is evidently a period of considerable suffering.  Yet, during this time of darkness the spirit seems to be permitted to speak to those on earth if such opportunity be offered it.  This state does not seem to last long, not more than a week or ten days, so far as I can judge from communicators who come repeatedly and speak of their present condition.  They frequently say that when the light came, someone was near them, who led them away to the place where their ‘work’ was.  What the nature of this ‘work’ is, they seem unable to explain.”

In your book, you mention some communicators having had a vision of the body before the darkness enveloped them.

“[Yes,] frequently when soldiers killed in battle have spoken they became aware that they had died.  They tell how the battlefield lay below them, with all the horror of its details, and how they saw their own bodies lying on the field. Sometimes the vision extends, and they see the body being carried away and buried.  In the same way, some of those who die in their beds describe the body lying there as when the spirit rose from it.  They can see the nurses preparing it for burial, the coffin, etc.”

Do the same spirits come through again and again?

“From reviewing hundreds of messages from those who have passed away, I gather that the spirit retains its earth memory for a time.  The time seems to vary with the nature of the individual.  The more rarefied and exalted the soul during its earth life, the shorter its span of earth memory seems to be after it has passed through the barrier.  These more highly developed souls seem gradually to rise into a region from which it is perilous to touch the earth atmosphere, except for a few minutes at a time. After this, they disappear altogether.”

Would you mind relating a specific case?

“Quite lately I had an instance of this.  The communicator was a connection of my own, a very refined, gentle, intellectual personality in his earth life.  He came to the ouija board repeatedly for some time while I happened to be in touch with his family, and spoke in a way which was very evidential to them; he appeared to find it impossible to communicate for more than a few minutes at a time.  Then there would be a long pause, and he would come again.  He told us that after a time he would be unable to speak.  He had died very suddenly, and seemed to have passed quickly to a state of great peace and happiness, though he gave us no account of his surroundings or occupations; he said it was forbidden, and would, in any case, be incomprehensible to those still alive.”

Do you have a theory as to how a particular spirit is drawn to your séance room?

“This is a question I almost invariably put to controls and communicators, and their replies to the question are almost always the same.  They state that a bright light attracted them – and the stronger the medium, the brighter the light.  When I am sitting myself, and ask, ‘What attracted you to this room?’ the answer generally is, ‘I saw a woman wrapped in flame.’ Sometimes they describe a brilliant light on the head of the medium, but as psychic strength increases the light seems to envelop the whole body of the sensitive.” 

I understand that you have had several spirit controls.  Can you tell us a little about them?  

“At the second or third sitting of the circle, Peter Rooney made his appearance.  He stated that he was an American Irishman; that he had had a most undesirable career and spent much of his life in jail; that ten days before he communicated with us he had thrown himself under a tram-car in Boston and had been killed.  Sir William Barrett, having made careful inquires from the Governor of the State prison at Boston, Mass., and from the Chief of Police in that city, found Peter Rooney’s tale an entire fabrication.  A certain Peter Rooney had fallen from a tram-car in August 1910, had suffered from a scalp wound but was alive in 1914, as far as could be ascertained.”

So did you confront the alleged “Peter Rooney” about that?

“On being upbraided by us for assuming a name and identity not his own, Peter admitted that he had no desire that we should know who he was, and that he had adopted this name as ‘it was as good as any other.’  He stated that he had been interested in psychical research in his lifetime, and wished to assist investigation of supernormal phenomena now that he had ‘passed over.’ He refused absolutely to give us any further information about himself.  Peter has a burning desire to shine as a ‘test’ control; he prefers us to work blindfold, and he is rashly desirous to attempt experiments. He is most uncertain in results, but, given a quiet room and his own mediums, he can do remarkable things.  He is a rather primitive creature, has very strong likes and dislikes, and is very vain and fond of a display of his powers … He rather despises sittings with open eyes, and unless a medium is present who has the quality necessary for blindfold sitting he seldom comes.”

I understand that Astor is a frequent control.

“[True]. He professes to be the ‘guide’ of an intimate friend of mine, Miss Geraldine Cummins, who lives in my house.  We frequently sit together, and Astor appears invariably and opens the séance. He controls Miss Cummins’ hand most powerfully; all the force, mental and physical, seems to come through her, and I add probably a kind of balance only.  Astor is, of course, chiefly interest in Miss Cummins’ concerns, but in so far as hers are connected with mine, he is deeply interested in me also, and often devotes most of his attention to me at a sitting … Astor is an intelligent creature, not given much to flattery – indeed, often very plain-spoken.

Wasn’t one of them a Hindu spirit named Shamar?

“[Yes]. Shamar has undertaken to conduct most of my sittings lately; she devotes herself to cultivating my powers by sending me genuine communications.  She says she is very fond of sending me messages from living persons who are asleep or drowsy.  In these cases, absolute proof is, of course, possible sometimes.  Twice lately I had conversations with friends who stated they were in a drowsy state, and the information I received through them proved true in every respect.  So far as I know her, Shamar is sincere; she makes no magnificent promises, and she has been very faithful in bringing interesting communicators.”

Thank you, Ms. Travers Smith.  Any parting thoughts?

“I have had some evidence which, if not entirely convincing, points so strongly to the fact that we survive what is called death that it requires more credulity to doubt the fact than to believe it… [However], if I may venture to advise persons who long to speak once more with those they have loved, who have vanished into darkness, I should say it is wise and sane not to make the attempt.  The chances against genuine communication are ten to one; the disappointments and doubts connected with the experiment are great.”

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: June 13

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The Hindu Spirit and the Anglican Priest (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 16 May 2016, 15:35

This is a continuation of the last blog post, dated May 2.  The Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, was introduced to a young trance medium and, after the young man went into a trance state, a voice began speaking in Hindustanee.  According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state.  At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India.  The dialogue, as recorded by Chambers continued:

Chambers: In what way does a spirit’s control injure the person controlled when the spirit is actuated by nothing beyond the mere desire of physical contact?

Answer: In the same way that the stronger mind of a teacher of low moral tone will injure the boy placed under his guidance.  The spirits who control from no motive of love, but only to satisfy a longing for the physical, are low in the scale of moral being; as low, and often far lower, than those they control.  No good can come from such.

Chambers: But how comes it that this longing for the physical remains in anyone who has passed from this world into the Spiritual? Does not the change of the plane of existence obliterate it?

Answer: No.  There are numbers in the Spirit World, who, when living in your world, never lifted their thoughts and desires above the material. In tastes and inclinations they were “of the earth, earthy.”  They entered Spirit life in that state, and, untrained in the Spiritual, it is strange and distasteful to them.  They carried their instincts with them and longed to be back in the physical.  Sometimes they are permitted to gratify their longing, and then there happens that which is recorded in your New Testament – evil spirits control the bodies and minds of men.  Christ, when on earth, could see such spirits and they could see Him, and it was His mission to cast them out.

Chambers: This, if true, is a terrible fact.

Answer: Yes, and it explains a great deal of the awful crime that stains your earth.  If you could see, as we on this side do, you would behold your gin-palaces and drinking saloons thronged with troops of spirits, who in earth life had been drunkards, gamblers, and fornicators.  Earth-bound, and no longer able to satiate their still-existing desires, they seek a gratification in frequenting their old haunts, and inciting others to sin.  Every unrepentant spirit let loose by the hangman is a menace to society.  Have you never noticed that after an execution three or four murders follow in rapid succession?  Can you not see the cause of this?

Chambers: Will you tell me – is there not a great danger in regard to spirit-control?

Answer: Most certainly.  That is why, in olden times, all intercourse with “familiar spirits” was forbidden to the Israelites.  The spirits who were then controlling men were evil.  They were the spirits of men who in earth-life had lived in the grossest vice and impurity.  Nothing but evil could ensue from such control as that, and as the Israelites themselves, at that period of their history, were but little advanced in their knowledge of a Life Beyond, as seen in the earlier books of the Bible, they were forbidden an intercourse with spirits whose earthly surroundings had been of such a character as to make them spirits of low moral type.  Probably you will have noted that the age in which intercourse with familiar spirits is so discountenanced yields a very great deal of testimony in regard to intercourse with spiritual beings of an exalted class.  For instance, angel-visits were frequent, and a servant of God after death – the prophet Samuel – in spite of the existing prohibition, appeared to the women of Endor, and spoke to King Saul.

Later on, you find an apostle of Jesus Christ – who himself knew a great deal about the Spiritual World – showing that he was sensible of the danger underlying spirit-control, while acknowledging the possibilities of good in it.  He wrote, “Believe not every spirit; but test the spirits, if they are of God.”

Chambers:  Then persons who are under the control of low spirits may be deceived?

Answer: Yes.  When the prophets of old, to whom spiritual control was a common experience, threw themselves open to the control of ignorant and lying spirits, they became no longer prophets of God, but false prophets.  What do you imagine the words mean – “A lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets”?

Chambers: Do you assert that persons can be ignorant and untruthful in the Spiritual World?  Does not their entrance into that World at once enlighten them and make lying impossibility?

Answer: Persons enter the Spiritual World with precisely the same character, enlightenment and disposition as that which they leave your world, and go into a sphere for which they are fitted.  And there they remain until, mentally, morally, and spiritually advanced, they are fitted for a higher sphere.  You in your world have persons of all sorts and classes.  So have we in our World; persons depraved, ignorant, cruel; others, not so morally bad, but ignorant of God and truth; some, partially enlightened, but exhibiting good traits of character and desire; others, better, wiser, nobler and so on, until a class of spiritual beings is reached, so exalted in knowledge and excellence that many of us never, as yet see them.

Chambers: Then I gather from your teaching that a person who has but just entered the Spiritual World may not be much better off than in this world?

Answer: As regards his character, on entering our World he is exactly what he was on leaving yours; good or bad; godly or ungodly; ignorant or enlightened; or in any condition that lies between these extremes.  What you call the “act of dying” does not alter the character of a person; he that is unjust will be unjust still; he that is filthy will be filthy still; he that is righteous will be righteous still; and he that is holy will be holy still.  As regards, however, his surroundings, he is better off with us than with you.  Every sphere of spiritual life, even the lowest, is interpenetrated by influences and ministries of good flowing into it from higher spheres.  Consequently, from the lower spheres there is a constant emigration of spirits who are responsive to the good, and these pass to higher planes of life and thought.

Chambers: But this fact is not grasped by great numbers of Christians; how is that?

Answer: Because so many of your teachers are purblind; they read the Bible, and fail to see the truths it proclaims.  What, for example could more plainly assert the truth of spirits progressing than the statement of an apostle that Christ in our world preached to, and reclaimed, a great number of spirits who in earth-life had been godless and debased?  The fact is, the importation of Western ideas into Christianity has acted banefully upon the latter.  Old Roman conceptions have made your theology hard, cruel and loveless; God is viewed as an Almighty Magistrate, instead of a Father, and punishment is vindictive, instead of remedial.

Chambers: Are all in your World readily responsive to the leadings and impulses of good?

Answer: No, any more than persons in your world are.  Some have shaped such characters while in the earth-life that for long after they come to us they remain insensible to good, and only along the highway of bitter experience can they rise to the better.  Some, on the other hand, have developed such noble characters on earth as to start in Spirit-life in a high sphere, and these pass easily onward.

Chambers: Do you assert that all will ultimately yield to good?

Answer: We in this life do not possess foreknowledge any more than you do; but we know that God is supreme, and the ever-widening stream of tendency is towards Him.  But why ask me about this matter?  You, as a clergyman, believe the Bible, do you not? Consult the Book.  Does it not tell you that God will one day be “all in all”; that every will in His universe is ultimately to bow to Him; and that His Christ will not rest so long as one lost sheep has not been found?

Chambers: Yes, that is so; but hundreds of thousands believe in an everlasting Hell. Must there not be a basis for that idea?

Answer: Undoubtedly.  That terrible libel on the power and goodness of God is built up on two words in your Bible wrongly translated.

Chambers: Which words?

Answer: You know them; I have heard you speak about the mistranslation.  (The words referred to are found in Matt. xxv. 46 v.)  Every scholar knows that the Greek of this passage [translates to] an age-long pruning (not everlasting).  “Pruning’ is a discipline with a view to improvement. 

Chambers: Many of the things you have told me appear like familiar truths, and yet I cannot tell when, or where, I learned them.  Is this not strange?

Answer: No; you have been taught them.

Chambers: By whom?

Answer: By several in our world who are guiding you.

Chambers: But am I not controlled?

Answer: Not physically, but you are mentally.  They impress your mind with a thought, and you clothe it with language and ideas.

Chambers: Is this possible?

Answer: Read your Bible for the answer.  Inspiration (or as it should be more correctly termed) “spiritual suggestion” is a fact.

Chambers: Are men, then, still being guided in this way?

Answer: Yes, many are.  Have I not told you that a great wave of spiritual energy is now passing from our World to yours?

Chambers: May we hope, then, that men, as time goes on, will better understand the truth concerning the Spiritual than they have hitherto done?

Answer: Most assuredly.  Have you not, yourself, received the testimony of hundreds that they are craving for clearer light than the schoolmen give?  That craving is the forerunner of enlightenment.

Chambers: Will the Bible be superseded?

Answer: No, but it will be better understood.

According to Chambers, the “voice” coming through the uneducated young man then spoke for about 15 minutes about God and the fact that character finds its highest development when Self-hood is absorbed in love and concern for others.  Chambers said that he had listened to the sermons of many noted preachers “but no one of them has equalled, in sublimity of idea and charm of diction, this sermon.”  When it was finished, the young man fell gently backward in the chair and after about three minutes and several convulsive twitches he opened his eyes, seemed dazed, as if awakening from sleep, recovered himself and asked for water.

Later in the evening, Chambers talked with the young man, but the contrast was marked – only the mind of the ordinary young man expressed itself.  “I leave the reader to explain this incident by whatever hypothesis he may please,” Chambers ended the story. “That of control by some intelligence superior to the medium’s own seems to me to be the most reasonable one.”

Next blog post: May 30

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.

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What the Hindu Spirit Told an Anglican Priest

Posted on 02 May 2016, 12:06

As the Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, saw it, Christian teachers and writers had failed to provide sufficient information about the afterlife. They had “so enshrouded it, as it were, in mental mistiness, that to many it has seemed a vague, inhuman and unreal existence, a veritable ‘world of shadows’.”  Thus, Chambers took it upon himself to further study the subject and report on it, which he did in an 1894 book, Our Life After Death, and again in a 1900 book, Man and the Spiritual World.

Chambers’s studies included sitting with a young trance medium, although he does not use the word “medium” to describe him.  He was simply a young man, the acquaintance of a friend, “who had recently manifested extraordinary powers that astonished himself and upset the ideas of the members of the religious community to which he belonged.”  He was told by those members that the cause of what he had exhibited was Satanic, but Chambers was more open-minded and decided to talk with the young man.  He discovered that “he was by no means a well-educated person.  He dropped his aspirates, made grammatical blunders, and badly constructed his sentences.”  After Chambers talked with him for some time, the young man appeared to faint and remained motionless for about five minutes. 

“My friends had previously seen him in this condition, and told me he was under control, and in a trance-state,” Chamber wrote, taking careful notes. 

The man raised himself in the chair, his eyes still closed, and commenced to speak in a language unknown to Chambers.  A lady in the group who had lived in India for several years said she recognized it as Hindustanee.  According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state.  At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India. The following lengthy conversation was recorded and reported in the 1900 book.

Chambers:  You claim – do you not – to be a spiritual intelligence speaking through the physical organs of Mr. A?

Answer: Yes.

Chambers:  Who are you?

Answer: I am a man who lived in India, when in the earth-life, and spent a great portion of my time in studying the truths that relate to this World in which I now am.

Chambers:  Is Mr. A. conscious that you are speaking through him?

Answer: No.  The controlling power of his material body, which is his spirit-body, is in a state of unconsciousness, and I am exercising the control.

Chambers: If you, as you say, are taking the place of the spirit in Mr. A. in regard to his physical body, has his spirit left that body?

Answer: Yes.

Chambers: Where is it, or rather, where is he?

Answer: In this room, in a state of unconsciousness.

Chambers: But how can that be? Can a man’s spirit leave his body before death?

Answer: Most certainly it can, and does, at times.  But you as a teacher of the Bible should know that truth.

Chambers: Does the Bible then declare it?

Answer: Most assuredly.  Does not an apostle say that he was caught up into the third sphere of the Spiritual World; and yet his earthly body did not die until some years afterwards?

Chambers: Yes, I am familiar with that statement; but St. Paul himself did not seem to be quite sure whether he was in his outer body, or out of it.

Answer: This is quite possible.  Many persons, after passing through what you call “dying,” having left the earthly body behind, do not, for a while, realise that it has been cast off.  They are still, after the change, so really men and women.  The apostle when he had the experience mentioned was out of his earthly body, and the latter was in a state of trance.

Chambers: When the spirit of a person is outside his body, is the connection between the spirit and the body maintained?

Answer: Yes, were it not, the earthly body would die.

Chambers: Would it under such circumstances be possible to break the connection between an external spirit and its earthly body?

Answer: Yes.  A sudden shock might bring it about.  Hence to violently arouse a person in a state of trance – when very often the spirit is absent from the body – is very dangerous.  It may break the connection, and then the body would die.

Chambers:  I have taught and still teach that the separation of the spirit and spirit-body from its earthly encasement takes place shortly after the death.  Am I right in this?

Answer: No: you are wrong.  The separation takes place immediately before
the death of the body.

Chambers: That rather astonishes me.

Answer:  I will explain.  A little while before death, the spirit-body of a person releases itself from the physical form and floats at full length above the latter, with which it is still connected by something not unlike a fine cord.  The physical body, as yet, is still alive, but it no longer contains the man. He is in the spirit-body, but unconscious.  When that fine spiritual cord is snapped, the separation is effected, and the material life expires.  You have the physical counterpart of this cord in the connection that exists between mother and the babe at birth.  The severance of a cord is the preliminary entrance of both the man and the babe into a higher plane of being.

From this point on the dialogue is abridged.

Chambers: What is your object in controlling the body of Mr. A?

Answer: To establish a communication through him with the world I have left.

Chambers: For what end?

Answer: To try and convince men of the fact of a World of Spirit.

Chambers: But surely, that fact is acknowledged, is it not?  We Christians, for example, acknowledge it.

Answer: Yes; in a way.  Your Bible is full of testimony regarding it, and you profess to accept its teaching; but not one in every thousand who attend your churches grasps the truths concerning the Spiritual World that Scripture declares.

Chambers: Is that not too sweeping an assertion?

Answer: No; you well know that many who read their Bible school themselves to think that all the spiritual facts recorded therein actually did take place thousands of years ago; but ask them to believe that like things are happening now; what will they say? Will they not declare it to be incredible and absurd?

Chambers: Are they wrong?

Answer: Why ask such a question! Do you suppose that the Spiritual World is now different from what it was before, and at the time when Christ sojourned on your earth? Nearly all the phases of spiritual manifestation described in the Bible are present occurrences.

Chambers: If that be so, how comes it that the truth is not better realised?

Answer: Because the tendency of men’s minds is too materialistic.  When that is the case, a revelation of the Spiritual becomes more difficult.

Chambers: Why?

Answer: Because of the feebleness, through disuse, of internal faculties by which the Spiritual can be approached.  You have the correspondence of this in the physical world.  Were you never to use your eyes and your ears there would come a time when, although the organs might still remain, it would be exceedingly difficult to get those eyes and ears to perceive sights and sounds which exercised eyes and ears can perceive.

Chambers: Do you imply that many Christians who believe in a World to come fail to perceive the whole truth concerning the Spiritual?

Answer: Most certainly I do. If you doubt this, question them on the point.  Will you find more than one in every hundred, or thousand, who has any idea of a Spiritual World, except as a far off Heaven at a future time?

Chambers: I am afraid your assertion is true. ...Is it granted to all who leave the earth-life to set up – as you claim to be doing – this phase of communication with the physical?

Answer: No; many wish to do so, but are not permitted.

Chambers: Why so?

Answer: In the case of many spirits, the wish does not spring from a desire to benefit you on the earth plane, but from a mere longing for contact with the world they have left.

Chambers: Is this longing wrong?

Answer: It is harmful unless dictated and sanctified by the promptings of love and unselfishness.

Chambers: Explain, please; I do not fully understand you.

Answer: If a spirit, not prompted by love and unselfishness, control a person, he harms both himself and the person he controls.

Chambers: In what way does he harm himself?

Answer: By retarding his progress in the Spiritual World.  The desire to continue in close contact with the physical, for the sake of contact itself, checks his advance on a higher plane of life and thought.  In the case, however, of physical contact being desired only that love and unselfishness may find a field of exercise, the spirit is unharmed, nay more, he is often advanced by the experience.  Thus, the contact of Christ with the physical did not diminish aught from the moral and spiritual excellence of His being. His love and unselfishness grew grander thereby.

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.

To be continued on May 16

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Can Atheists See the ‘Forrest’ for the Trees?

Posted on 18 April 2016, 10:59

There seems to be no doubt that Forrest J Ackerman was a lifelong atheist. “He did not believe there is a God,” Dr. Gary E.  Schwartz, professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona, offers in the Preface of An Atheist in Heaven, a 514-page book just recently released.  “He did not believe there is a heaven.  He did not believe there is an afterlife. He did not believe humans have spirits or souls.”  Yet, Paul J. Davids, (below) the lead author, and co-author Schwartz offer some very convincing evidence that Ackerman survived his physical death.


Whether Ackerman survived in the “heaven” of orthodox religion or was at a more earthbound level of the afterlife spectrum is another question, one on which the reader can only speculate. “We are using the word ‘heaven’ in its more abstract, generic and spiritual meaning – a ‘higher place’ of existence that is typically more loving, joyful and peaceful that what we experience on earth,” Schwartz clarifies.

Ackerman, who like President Harry S Truman had one letter for his middle name (no period after it) and was known to many as “Forry” or “Uncle Forry,” died at age 92 on December 4, 2008, after a long career in which he created and edited Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and became known as “Mr. Sci-Fi.”  Davids, a sci-fi enthusiast during his youth and now an award-winning Hollywood film director, met him in 1963 and remained a friend through Ackerman’s lifetime.  “And I believe I have learned over the past eight years that friendship does not end with death,” Davids offers.

Strange as it may seem, a mere “ink obliteration” on a page printed from Davids’ computer triggers the whole story.  It was not a smudge or a blot, but some meaningful words mysteriously blocked out on the page that was first of many signs that suggested Ackerman was trying to let Davids and others know that he was still around.  And there is something of a paradox connected with this ink obliteration.  It has to do with replication – that part of the scientific method that the fundamentalists of science rely on to reject evidence strongly suggesting the survival of consciousness at death.  These fundamentalists claim that the abundance of psychical research favoring survival is not acceptable because it can’t be replicated under the strictest conditions. In the case of the ink obliteration, however, it is the fact that science has been unable to replicate it that gives it special meaning and lends itself to the survival hypothesis. In other words, the paradox here is that replication of the ink obliteration, something two chemists devoted much time to, would have run counter to the main message of the book, that we do survive death.


Davids, who grew up in a non-religious home, then encounters numerous anomalies, many of them synchronicities, taken by Davids as possible signs from Ackerman.  They include a wide range of weird things, including inoperable clocks chiming, phones crawling along a counter, a very unusual CAPTCHA code on a computer, bowls moving themselves across a room, many disappearing objects, meaningful spider bites, voices from a dead computer, blue jeans dissolving in front of many witnesses, meaningful computer glitches, manipulation of electromagnetic fields, alarms sounding unexpectedly, and “dozens” of other strange phenomena suggesting that an invisible intelligence is causing them. In fact, Davids chronologically lists 142 of them in the Addendum to the book. 

For the skeptic and debunker, including Michael Shermer, the arch-skeptic who was consulted by Davids, all of these little happenings are “mere” coincidences, but the Davids argues “that when you detect patterns in seemingly unconnected events, those patterns very possibly do have meaning, do reveal intention and are the result of some source of agenticity.” 

Jack Kelleher, who had interviewed Ackerman some years earlier, also experienced some strange anomalies related to Ackerman and contributes a chapter to the book.  He mentions telling a skeptical friend about his experiences and friend discounting them all.  “Like many other skeptics, this friend tends to examine each one of the coincidences as a separate entity and dismisses it, without taking into account their collective pattern,” he writes. “While he is a highly competent systems analyst with a scientifically trained mind, and I respect his right to this viewpoint, I am frankly bewildered by the narrowness of vision it betrays.  I felt he was limiting himself by majoring in minor details and should look at this case through a lens of wider focus.  I retorted with the humorous metaphoric pun:  “You can’t see the Forrest for the trees.’  I deliberately spelled it with two r’s, as in Forest J Ackerman.” 

At some point during his many odd experiences, Davids consulted Schwartz, author of The Afterlife Experiments, The G.O.D.  Experiment, The Energy Healing Experiments, and The Sacred Promise, who encouraged him to further document his experiences and write about them.  In addition, Schwartz recommended that Davids sit with two mediums, both of whom provided evidential information suggesting communication from Ackerman.  Schwartz contributes seven very interesting chapters to the book, discussing Davids’ experiences, skepticism, mediumship, and survival research.

Davids concludes “that the inkblot that appeared on my document, though very small physically, is a potent, loud and scientifically profound occurrence that signals the existence of invisible intelligence that can manipulate things in our world.”

I’m not sure that what Davids offers in this book amounts to the “ultimate” evidence for life after death, as the subtitle indicates, but I believe it leaves much to ponder on.  As Davids states:  “To me, the fact that these things happen, and happen repeatedly, demonstrates the extreme limitation of the human brain and human consciousness.  They demonstrate that much greater forces than we can fathom are at work in our lives – or at least in this case, in my life.”

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 forthcoming book Why the Afterlife is Beyond Science will be published later in 2016 by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  May 2

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Another Look at the Margery “Third Hand” Mystery: Believe It or Not!

Posted on 04 April 2016, 8:28

A recent segment of the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” series dealt with the “Margery” mediumship, previously discussed in my January 11 blog.  The television presentation is an example of how history is distorted and mediums maligned by biased historians and journalists who know little of the subject.  The program involved cherry-picking, hearsay, distortion of facts, sensationalism, misinformation, and most of all incomplete information.

Above: The Walter Hand

The program host, Don Wildman, began by saying that Margery, the pseudonym given to Mina Crandon for privacy purposes: 1) claimed that she can communicate with the dead; 2) that Spiritualism was “on the rise” during the mid 1920s when she was demonstrating her mediumship; 3) that she “desperately sought fame” by attempting to win the $2,500 prize offered by Scientific American Magazine for anyone able to prove mediumistic ability; and 4) that she was a mystic.  All four statements are highly questionable, in that:  1) Margery never claimed she could communicate with the dead.  The claim was that the dead could communicate through her with others while she was in a trance condition; 2) Spiritualism had peaked during the late 1800s and had a resurgence during World War I, but indications were that it was in decline during the 1920s; 3) Margery was the wife of a respected Boston surgeon who also happened to teach medicine at Harvard University. Thus, she was living comfortably and had no special need for the $2,500 prize or great fame.  She was persuaded to enter the contest by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to prove the genuineness of mediumship and apparently agreed to give the prize money to charity.  4) True mediums are rarely mystics, although this is a matter of definition.  Margery never claimed to be a mystic.

The focus of the program was an object called the “bell-box” now on display at the Salon De Magie in Loveland, Ohio.  The box had a bell in it and ringing the bell was supposedly one of the ways the spirits showed their presence.  The only person offering any commentary on the television program was a person identified as a “magic historian.”  He explained that Harry Houdini, the great escape artist, sat next to Margery at one séance and detected movement by her, a sure sign that she reached out with her leg and rang the bell in the box.  It was not explained why the box was so close to her feet that she could reach out with her foot and touch it, since the researcher protocol required that it be well out of her reach.  Houdini also detected that when the large dining room table in front of them shook it was due to Margery putting her head under the heavy dining room table and lifting it with the back of her head.  End of story: Trust Houdini.  Margery was clearly a “con artist.”

It was also mentioned, at least implied, that Houdini built the bell-box, which I do not believe is correct. Indications are that it was in use before Houdini even came on the scene.  He built a cabinet to restrain Margery, but I doubt that the bell-box was his idea. 

Missing Information

Here is what was not mentioned in any way, shape, or form on the program:

1) The bell-box was usually at least nine feet away from Margery when it rang, well out of reach of her stretched leg and toes.  In many cases, it was held on the lap of someone sitting at the table some distance from Margery or was on the table in front of the person, clearly out of Margery’s reach. 

2)  While the ectoplasm exuded by Margery was sensitive to light and required darkness,  a red light was frequently used and Margery’s hands were always held by the person sitting next to her for test control purposes.  It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for her to bend over and get her head centered under the table to raise it without the persons holding her hands feeling the movement of her arms and entire body.

3) Various other phenomena were produced, including communicating raps, table-tilting, strange lights, telekinesis, trance-voice, direct-voice, trance-writing, automatic writing, and materializations of spirit forms.  Communication came through in nine languages, including ancient Italian and Chinese.  The most frequent communicator was Walter Stinson, Margery’s deceased brother. Walter would speak through his entranced sister and also independently of her through a trumpet, would carry on conversations with the sitters, joke with them, whistle tunes, and do automatic writing through Margery.  The voice was masculine and in character with the Walter that some sitters had known. Moreover, Walter would sometimes provide information which Margery could not have known.

4) Photographs were taken of various phenomena, including Walter’s hand ringing the bell on one occasion and a “third arm and hand” extending from Margery’s pelvic area reaching out to bring about some phenomenon. (Below)


5) Thumb prints of Walter were taken, one of them matched up with the only print left behind by him (although another thumb print mysteriously turned out to be that of Margery’s dentist, from whom the wax was obtained).

6) Margery was studied by a number of scientists and scholars, most of them testifying to the genuineness of her ability, although some sat on the fence and did not commit themselves, apparently for fear that their reputations would be damaged.  Several had one sitting only and concluded it had to be fraud as what they observed was not possible.  Like Houdini, Dr. Joseph Rhine, who lacked experience in physical mediumship, detected movement by Margery and concluded that she was a fraud, but others understood that slight movements by Margery was natural to such trance mediumship as earlier researchers with Eusapia Palladino and other mediums had observed “synchronies” between the medium and the movement of objects well away from her reach. That is, her fingers, hands, and feet seemed to be moving in harmony with activity producing a certain phenomenon out of her reach, something of a puppet effect, the ectoplasmic “strings” between the medium and the object not being visible. 

7) There were indications that Houdini tried to plant incriminating evidence against Margery.  On one occasion, an eraser was found in the bell-ringing mechanism and was believed to have been planted there by Houdini to prevent the bell from ringing, while on another occasion a fold-up six-inch ruler was found in a cabinet built by Houdini to restrain Margery, apparently a plant by Houdini to frame her by claiming she extended the ruler to reach out and effect certain phenomena.  Jim Collins, an assistant to Houdini, is said to have later confessed to putting the ruler inside the box. 

Favorable Research

T. Glen Hamilton, M.D., perhaps the most competent and experienced researcher to study Margery, sat with Margery on eleven occasions, twice in his own laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, under strictly controlled conditions, and was certain that the phenomena he witnessed were genuine. Margery was thoroughly searched beforehand and restrained during the sittings and several other scientists observed with Hamilton.  “I have no hesitancy in again stating that I am quite convinced that the Margery phenomena are not only genuine but are also among the most brilliant yet recorded in the history of metapsychic science,” he reported.

Dr. Mark W. Richardson, a professor of medicine at Harvard, had dozens of sittings with Margery and even constructed a machine to verify that Walter’s voice was not Margery’s. He was equally certain that her mediumship was genuine.  Dr. Robin Tillyard, a fellow of the Royal Society, called her mediumship the “most marvelous” in the history of psychical research. 

The “Third Hand” Mystery

Clearly, the “third arm” or “third hand” is beyond science and one of the reasons mainstream science cannot accept such mediumship.  It is not acceptable as a starting hypothesis and unscientific as an ending conclusion.  However, there have been a number of respected scientists who have observed it with other mediums.  Dr. William J. Crawford, a mechanical engineer and university lecturer, had considerable experience with physical mediums.  “In the phenomenon of levitation of a table or other article a psychic arm extrudes from the medium – I do not mean an arm in the sense of the human arm, but a projection of some kind from her body,” he wrote of the medium Kathleen Goligher.  “Now this projection or extrusion is practically invisible and impalpable – it is impalpable except just at its free end, where it grips or presses on the body it is levitating – yet it transmits throughout its length great stresses, as is obviously the case when it sustains at its free end, as it has done, a body (heavy table) weighing thirty and forty pounds.  Again, this structure seems to contain within it quite a lot of matter temporarily borrowed from the body of the medium.”  Crawford photographed the ectoplasm emerging from Goligher, both in the flowing stage and as it took shape.


As stated in that January 11 post, many researchers, including Dr. Charles Richet, a professor of medicine at the University of Paris, and Sir Oliver Lodge, a world-renowned physicist and pioneer in electricity, observed “extra” arms with the medium Eusapia Palladino.  They called them pseudopods.

J. Hewat McKenzie, founder of the British College of Psychic Science, reported that such third arms are very common among physical mediums.  He explained that when the ectoplasm is insufficient to create a full form “the spirit operators may solidify only a hand and an arm, or even a hand alone.”  He described such limbs as “stick like” with anywhere from three to five fingers, and protruding from various parts of the body.  “This part-projection of soul is manipulated by the will of the operating spirit, and is not under the control of the medium,” he explained, adding that the limb can extend out several feet and grasp objects, as may be necessary to produce phenomena. 


But all this is above the boggle threshold of most people.  “All just tricks which magicians understand better than scientists,” is the debunker’s usual response.  And so it goes.  I find it much easier to accept the observations of scientists like Richet, Lodge, Hamilton, and Crawford than those of some magician out to add to his fame and ego. It would be one thing if those scientists had observed the mediums only a time or two, but those men had countless sittings with various mediums under controlled conditions. Richet reported over 200 sittings with Palladino and Crawford recorded 87 sittings with Goligher.  Keep in mind that Hamilton studied Margery in his own laboratory, where there was absolutely no opportunity for her to smuggle in objects to use as tricks, and Mrs. Hamilton strip-searched her beforehand. 

“Yes, it is absurd,” said Richet, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substance, “but no matter – it is true.”

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 forthcoming book Why the Afterlife is Beyond Science will be published later in 2016 by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  April 18

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Retired Naval Architect Tells of His NDE

Posted on 21 March 2016, 9:03

When Dr. Alan Hugenot (below) had a near-death experience in 1970, it didn’t have a name and he was reluctant to talk about it.  But he now says “the best thing that ever happened to me was when I ‘died’ in a motorcycle wreck.” 


It wasn’t until 2006, as he approached retirement from his career as a naval architect and marine engineer, that he began seriously exploring consciousness, including mediumship.  Now, 10 years later, Hugenot is an evidential medium, serving as a test medium for the Consciousness Research Laboratory at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where he works with Drs. Dean Radin and Arnaud Delorme. 

After growing up in North Hollywood, Calif., Hugenot served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.  He then studied mechanical engineering at Oregon Institute of Technology and began his career in the design department of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington.  He eventually worked at “nearly every shipyard” in the country, on all three coasts and the Great Lakes.  Along the way, he earned a Doctorate of Science in mechanical engineering.

Although “retired,” Hugenot, who is married to Gale and lives in San Francisco, serves on a number of engineering standards writing committees and as chairman of the Motor Yacht and Service Craft Panel of the Small Craft Committee for the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.  He is frequently asked to write and deliver papers on various aspects of naval engineering for other organizations.  He also works occasionally as an expert witness in maritime cases. 

I had the opportunity to interview Hugenot for the February issue of The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies and i am pleased to offer that interview here. 

Alan, please summarize your NDE.

“It was during May 1970 when I was attending college after serving in the Navy.

Briefly, I was severely injured in a motor cycle accident, lapsed into a coma for 12 hours, traveled out-of-body where I communed on the other side with a Being of Light. After returning to the body, and regaining consciousness, I remained hospitalized for 33 days.

“This was five years before Dr. Raymond Moody published his book, Life After Life, in which he coined the term ‘near-death experience.’ Back in those dark ages, the standard medical procedure was to treat all NDEs as delusions. Consequently, the resident psychiatrist, after attempting to reason with me but finding he was unable to convince me of my error, decided that if I would not conform to his version of reality he would commit me to the insane asylum. This ‘punishment’ was for merely making such insane claims about, ‘having died and then come back to life.’”

I gather you didn’t keep the experience to yourself as so many people do.
“Yes, and one of the questions the psychiatrist put to me was, ‘Just where do you think such a place as the afterlife could exist?’  I didn’t help my case any by responding, ‘Doctor, I respect all your learning and degrees, but it is like I’ve been to Mexico and you haven’t, and I want to tell you about my experience. But, instead of listening to me, and discovering a new country, you are telling me that based on your superior knowledge and training that you’re sure that Mexico is impossible and so cannot exist, and that I must therefore be mistaken.  Isn’t that a little closed minded?’

“Luckily, my orthopedic surgeon, was not so backward in his medical technology, and so discharged me from the hospital a few days early, just ahead of the psychiatrist completing the papers to have me committed.”

Why did it take you some 40 years to start talking about your NDE and writing about it and related topics?

“Early on, after the NDE, burdened with visceral personal knowledge of an inconvenient truth, and being unable to reconcile it with society’s standard model of reality, I quickly learned to be quiet about what I knew. Instead, and unlike the other SET (Science, Engineering & Technology) students, I began to also study philosophy, history, logic, meta-physics in evening classes, beginning a research odyssey which has now spanned 46 years, investigating multiple scientific disciplines, collating data and verifying the science supporting what I knew.

“When an event or experience occurs, which has no explanation within the current scientific framework, it is considered an anomaly. By being killed and coming back I had myself become a scientific anomaly. But, it is such anomalies which stubbornly refuse to go away that eventually act as the catalyst for a new advance in science. Today, I am welcomed as a featured speaker.”

What were your early religious or spiritual views?

“I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist home. My own views were discounted by my parents, and so when I left for the Navy I investigated all the various religions with Navy chaplains.  I later became a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) because they seemed to actually study their Bible rather than carry it around like an anchor without opening it. But, prior to the NDE, if you had asked me what I thought happened after death I would have said, ‘My church believes there is a heaven and a hell, but I’m not so sure what happens.’

“Today, my sister thinks that because I am an evidential medium I have gone the way of the devil. And so she refuses to talk to me. But, while receiving readings from mediums who do not know me, my mother has come through from the other side with excellent evidential information, to tell me that she is sorry for both her fundamentalism, and also for leading my sister astray.”

So how have your views changed?

“The primary lesson I learned while out-of-body was that we are not physical beings, but are instead eternal spirits temporarily occupying physical bodies.

“The NDE moved me toward eastern meditative traditions, the Unity School or Practical Christianity and finally, as I became a medium, into Spiritualism. But I do not believe in a hell or retribution, and I do believe in universal salvation (everyone has eternal life).

“I came to realize that the Newtonian box I had been trained to use in my work as an engineer is only a fragment of the story of the conscious universe.  In a larger sense, I also learned that our 350-year-old paradigm of classical Newtonian physics, limited to three dimensions plus time, did not include everything. In fact, it fell far short and only included a very small corner of a much larger universe. I realized materialist science was deeply flawed in its world view.

“I believe that the only scientific way to understand mediumship is to do it yourself, so I took a correspondence course in mediumship from the Morris Pratt Institute, and then later attended the course in evidential mediumship at Arthur Findlay College in England.  I now know unequivocally that we continue after death in alternative dimensions of existence, but I want to better understand the precise physics and biology behind it all.”

To what extent have you developed your mediumship?

“All I can do is point to the evidence. Once, while working on the platform before a Spiritualist church, I brought through five spirits in a row, related to three sitters.  I gave their accurate names and relationships without guessing. When you look at the statistics just on the names, the odds are 320 billion to one of getting all of them.  But, if you take into account the fact that I also gave their correct relationships to the sitters, with odds of say one in 12, (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, grandma, grandpa, great grandma, great grandpa, friend), the odds become astronomical, roughly 79.6 quadrillion to one.  So, I have to ask…how did I get that information?  How can it not be spirit talking to me?”

Some parapsychologists would say you received it telepathically from the sitter or, if it is information the sitter didn’t have, that you accessed it from a relative or friend of the sitter on the other side of the country.

“I can’t prove that is not the case and there is no science to prove it one way or the other, but it makes much more sense to me that it is spirit talking to me rather than getting it through telepathy or remote viewing of some kind.  I think Occam’s Razor favors spirit communication over telepathy or remote viewing, especially when you are talking about tapping into the consciousness of someone not even present.  How did I find that person and how did I extract that bit of information from his consciousness?”“ 

Your background is in a scientific discipline and you certainly believe in the scientific method. When a scientist says that survival of consciousness at death is impossible, how do you answer him or her?

“I tell them to stop hiding from the data. I point out that materialism which assumes that the paranormal is impossible has itself been proven false by quantum electro-dynamics (QED), fully 90 years ago. I point out that all the “first principles” of materialism are proven false by QED and non-locality. And, that although the religious dogma of materialism is that the paranormal is ‘impossible,’ there has never been any proof whatsoever, so it is just a materialist superstition. I state that any true scientist would look at the data, and anything less is stupid and not science.”

What if the skeptical scientist asks you how consciousness can go on without a functioning brain?

“Same answer. I state that this can only be true for someone who believes the brain creates consciousness. How could a cold dead universe develop life? And how could that life develop consciousness? Isn’t that a miracle that even Jesus could not produce?

Therefore, the universe must have already been conscious. And, everything even those ‘dead’ stones are made of consciousness. This is what materialism can’t quite believe, but it is no problem for QED and biocentrism.”

I understand that you have authored a new book which will be published early this year.  How will it differ from your first book?

“Everyone wants me to talk about the science of the afterlife, which was scrunched into just one chapter of my 2012 book, The Death Experience, so my upcoming 2016 book, The New Science of Consciousness Survival, which has a Foreword by Dr. Gary Schwartz, discusses how the sciences of quantum electro-dynamics, near-death experiences, biocentrism and the sciences of consciousness survival have already replaced Newtonian materialism, at least for those scientists with the intellectual honesty and scientific rigor to examine the extensive and overwhelming data and to pay attention to what it means.

“When we can’t discern 96 percent of what exists in our universe, there is plenty of spare room for all kinds of unknowns – much more than just the afterlife’s ‘undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns,’ but entire undiscovered galaxies, alternative dimensions, multi-verses, etc., etc.

“Hopefully, this book will make all this easily understandable in a simple way, showing how materialism has always been merely speculation based on several untrue presuppositions, and also how the evolving scientific world view based on quantum electro-dynamics allows the existence of psi, the para-normal and consciousness survival, to all be valid.”

Do you sometimes feel like you are preaching to the choir, that no real progress is being made in getting your message across?

“No, actually I see great progress.  Forty-six years ago they wanted to put me in the nut house, but now I am the featured speaker at numerous organizations. Materialism is on its last legs and the meta-paradigm is shifting.”

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 forthcoming book Why the Afterlife is Beyond Science will be published later in 2016 by White Crow Books.

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A President Who Was a Medium

Posted on 07 March 2016, 8:36

The following words were penned in 1910 by a man about to become president of his country.  However, they seemingly apply just as much, if not more so, to today’s world. 

“As for the less evolved spirits who comprise the great majority of the earth’s inhabitants, for the most part they live without thinking of eternal life, ignoring the objective for which they have come into this world.  For such people, evolution is more difficult than for those who know the destinies of the soul beyond death and the reason for incarnation.” 

He also wrote this in the Introduction of his book published in 1911, just before he assumed the presidency: 

“Thus we intend this work for those workers who also have pure hearts, and whose consciences have not yet been polluted by materialism.  Here they will find the foundations of a very lofty philosophy to satisfy their most noble aspirations, and explain the meaning of life, the reasons for their sad situation, and which will show them the law of retribution, open their minds to new and vast horizons, make them understand that our lives do not play out in the miserable patch of an earthly existence, but for time they have Eternity, for space, the Universe; and finally, it will put them in a better condition to sustain their struggle for life, a struggle ever more ferocious given the selfishness of the rich and the ignorance of the poor.”

He was Francisco I. Madero, (below) the leader of the 1910 Mexican Revolution and 33rd president of Mexico, serving from 1911 until his assassination in 1913, at age 39.  The fascinating story of Madero, called the “Apostle of Democracy” in Mexico, is told by C. M. Mayo in her 2014 book Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, which includes her English translation of Madero’s book, Manual espirita (Spiritist Manual).


Born into a wealthy family – one involved in banking and ranching – Madero was educated by the Jesuits in Mexico and further studied in the United States and France.  It was while in France that he was introduced to the writings of French educator Alan Kardec and became a devout believer in Spiritism.  After returning to his home in Mexico in 1893, “his every move was motivated by his Spiritism and even precise messages he received from the dead,” Mayo writes, adding that modern history books gloss over or ignore Madero’s association with Spiritism, “as it simply does not chime that an educated man could be sane and at the same time believe in tables rising from the floor without human agency or hearing messages from invisible entities.”

While adding to his family’s business empire in Mexico and building a personal fortune, Madero found time to study homeopathy and become a healing medium.  He also developed the ability to do automatic writing, receiving messages from his brother, Raul, who had died as a child in 1887.  He dedicated himself to charitable work and, along with his wife Sara, operated a soup kitchen.  When, in 1907, a fellow Spiritist criticized Theosophy, Madero wrote:

“...I believe the only enemy we should take seriously is materialism.  The other religions with more or less zeal, try to encourage good works, and right there, that’s everything we the true Spiritists are about.  It’s the same with Theosophy… .  I have always believed that Theosophy and Spiritism must eventually arrive at the same thing, for they have the same foundations, that is, the soul’s unending progress by means of evolution and the conviction that each is responsible for his acts and only by his acts will he owe his progress.”

According to Mayo, “many of Madero’s followers never imagined that his beliefs were anything but a typical Mexican gentleman’s Catholicism.”  He wrote his Spiritist articles under pseudonyms and otherwise exercised discretion in discussing his beliefs, which he summarized in one message:

“We are not our physical body; we are spirits, and as such we are immortal and we are destined, lifetime by lifetime, not by any ritual intermediated by clerics, but by freely chosen good works, to evolve into ever higher levels of consciousness and so return to God.” 

Between 1904 and 1908, Madero became increasingly active in politics and began formulating a plan to become president and end the autocratic tyranny in Mexico, substituting a democratic rule for that of Porfirio Diaz, who had served as Mexico’s president since 1876.  Much of Madero’s inspiration, according to Mayo’s research, came from instructions from the spirit world, primarily from his deceased brother Raul and from a spirit giving the name Jose.  One message coming from Jose read:

“You bear an enormous responsibility. You have seen…the precipice your country is about to fall from.  A coward you will be if you do not prevent it… . You have been elected by your Heavenly Father to accomplish a great mission on earth… It is necessary that, for this divine cause, you sacrifice everything material, everything earthly, and dedicate all your efforts to its realization.”

Madero’s 1909 book, La sucesiὀn presidencial en 1910 (The Presidential Succession in 1910), the first step in his presidential campaign, was well received by the Mexican populace and paved the way for his election to the presidency. Before the book was published, however, Madero wrote to his father, seeking his approval to pursue the presidency.  Addressing it, “Dear Daddy,” he wrote:

“Although you may be a convinced Spiritist, you have never studied it in more depth in order to discover the mysterious laws it reveals to us, or that we can discover through it.  So: it is good that you know that among the spirits who populate space there is a group that is intensely concerned with the evolution of humanity, for its progress, and every time there is an important event in any part of the world, a large number of them incarnate in order to bring humanity forward, to save this or that people from the yoke of tyranny, or fanaticism, and to give them liberty, which is the most powerful means by which people can progress…”

After much struggle, Madero became president of Mexico on November 6, 1911, but his inability to meld democracy with old guard politics and the ambitions of various military leaders led to his assassination on February 22, 1913, believed to be at the direction of General Victoriano Huerta, who then assumed the presidency.  In spite of the fact that he served as president for only 15 month, Madero apparently was able to achieve certain reforms and is considered a hero to the Mexican people today.

After completing his first book, Madero was told by the spirit Jose, that he should write a second book, Manual espirita.  While the first 150 pages of Mayo’s book set forth the thoroughly researched history of Madero’s life, the last 120 or so pages provide the English translation of Spiritist Manual.  It was authored under the pseudonym Bhima, the name of a Hindu warrior in the Bhagavad-Gita.  No doubt some of his beliefs would have been frowned upon by the mostly Catholic populace, the Church hierarchy and the more educated.  “Mediums, scoffed most scientists, were ‘vulgar tricksters,’ maestros of inflatable bladders, wire dummies, trick mirrors, and muslin painted with phosphorous to create the shiny extrusions of what Charles Richet termed ‘ectoplasm’,” Mayo describes the era.  The Spiritist Manual, published just before his election, was intended, according to Mayo, “to be a beam of light, to heal Mexico and the world with its consoling concepts of nature and meaning of life.” 

Metaphysical Odyssey 

When I listen to the crude, bombastic, and maniacal remarks of the leading candidates for the U.S. presidency, I wonder if the spirits mentioned by Madero – those who are concerned with the evolution of humanity – have been defeated by the lower spirits or if they are just working in different and strange ways.  It would be great if some of those influencing Madero would come out of retirement and become active again.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.


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Are Sports an Escape from Death Anxiety?

Posted on 22 February 2016, 10:18

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
        – T. S. Eliot

A large photo on the front sports page of The Honolulu Star Advertiser before last month’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu showed two military men obtaining the autograph of a football player.  It is a scene I have witnessed a number of times over the years, one that always leaves me pondering on the seemingly insane paradox of it all.  In effect, the real-life combatants are paying homage to the pretend combatants.  The unreal has become the real.


To fully appreciate the situation, one has to keep in mind that sport, or athletics, developed in ancient Greece as practice for war.  Pioneering psychologist William James saw nineteenth century sports as a way to develop “the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings.”  The bottom line is that athletes are just playing war.  And Society has decided that those who play war are to be revered and rewarded much more than those who really engage in it. Isn’t it strange that a football player falling on a fumbled ball, leading to a touchdown, will be heroically celebrated much more than a soldier who throws himself on a hand grenade to save his fellow combatants? Of course, it’s like that in other aspects of life as well when we consider that a movie actor is paid millions of dollars to act like an ordinary person – a person who might not make as much money in a lifetime as the actor made for pretending to be him or her in that one movie. How absurd it all seems!  Our model for military heroism is John Wayne, an actor who pretended to be a soldier in a number of movies but never served a day in the military. Again, it is the unreal becoming the real.

Before the kickoff of the recent Super Bowl, military men and women – the real warriors – were on the field playing musical instruments, looking anything but warrior-like, while seemingly setting the stage for the pretend warriors to enter the arena and display valor, courage, daring, and perseverance, all those qualities so valued on the real battlefield.  All the while, the real warriors continued to pursue the pretend warriors for autographs and selfies whenever the opportunity presented itself. 

I admit to having been a sports fan for most of my life, since at least age 10, when I adopted the Brooklyn Dodgers as my team and Jackie Robinson, Peewee Reese, and Duke Snider as my heroes.  In football, it was Johnny Lujack, Emil Sitko, and Leon Hart of Notre Dame I looked up to most.  I was so avid a Dodgers fan that when they lost a game I would feel depressed the rest of the day.  When they won, my “spirits” soared. 

My fanaticism gradually waned with age, but I still enjoy watching a good game, even though I abhor showboating by athletes, especially end zone dances. I understand a person having a passion for sports, but there is a point at which passion turns to mindlessness and madness, when so many people are affected that our culture and way of life seem threatened with destruction. 

In his book, The Joy of Sports, Michael Novak states that “the underlying metaphysics of sports entails overcoming the fear of death.” He points out that defeat hurts like death.  On the other hand, “to win an athletic contest is to feel as though the gods are one’s side, as though one is Fate’s darling, as if the powers of being course through one’s veins and radiate from one’s action – powers stronger than nonbeing, powers over ill fortune, powers over death.” 

As George Leonard analyzes it in his classic book, The Ultimate Athlete, risk taking and dying are at the very core of sports.  The athlete pushes himself (or herself) to a boundary he cannot cross. “We need no roundabout theories to explain the fascination of death and the salutary effects of calculated risk,” he writes. “We simply must remember that, from the standpoint of embodied consciousness, death provides us our clearest connection with the eternal.”  Leonard adds that in approaching the ultimate boundary, death, we undergo preparation for a larger transformation.  Socrates called it “practicing death.”  Almost always at an unconscious level, it is learning as much about death now so as to facilitate the transition in the future. It is a paradox in itself – both embracing death and avoiding it. 

I “practiced death” for many years in the sport of middle- and long-distance running (see below), although I didn’t fully grasp at the time that the finish line represented death.  To borrow from Sir Roger Bannister, I recall the finish line looming ahead like “a haven of peace after the struggle.”  As Bannister saw it, the greatest part was yet to come – liberation!  “No words could be invented for such supreme happiness, eclipsing all other feelings,” he recalled breaking the four-minute mile barrier, adding that he felt bewildered and overpowered.

“To run, to fall, to merge, to die: such passionate language makes us uncomfortable,” Leonard states. “We are embarrassed by that which stands at the very heart of the Game of Games.  We seek comfort in forgetfulness. We shrink from the inevitability of death.”
If cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker were still alive, I suspect he would view the recent Super Bowl as one gigantic escape from death anxiety.  In his 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death, Becker asserted that death is the mainspring of human activity. “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” he offered, going on to explain that to free oneself of death anxiety almost everyone chooses the path of repression.  That is, we bury the anxiety deep in the subconscious and go about our everyday activities mostly oblivious to the fact that in the great scheme of things those activities are exceedingly short term and for the most part meaningless.  Borrowing from the existentialist Søren Kierkegaard, Becker said that man, in his flight from death, becomes a “Philistine.”  For Kierkegaard, Phistinism was man tranquilizing himself with the trivial.  It is man striving to be one with his toys and his games. Many people, Kierkegaard opined, are so tranquilized in the mundane or the trivial that they lack the awareness that they are in despair. 

“Sport is death-free play, and games shut out death,” writes humanist philosopher Alan Harrington in his book, The Immortalist. “We have the commonly recognized but still quite amazing circumstance that for masses of people around the world the outcome of football, baseball, soccer, basketball and boxing matches can sometimes be far more important than actual wars and revolutions.”  As Harrington saw it, the madness of the spectators and the dedication of the players can best be understood by viewing the games as man-made immortality rites.  “The stadium turns into a pit of the gods in which heroes fight to become divine,” he explains. “And trailing behind them come the legions – all of us fans and spectators – who derive our being, our excellence, and our own worthiness to be converted into gods from the performance of our heroic representatives.”

It is one thing for an athlete to unconsciously “practice death” in a particular arena, but quite something else for those not participating in the game to vicariously join in the death-embracing or death-avoiding activity, however it is interpreted. Based on the fanaticism, mindlessness, and madness we witness with such gala events as the Super Bowl, it does seem that the masses have been brainwashed by the media into thinking the game is really important.  We might call it a “flight from reality,” one apparently brought about by television, consumerism, the isolation of modern living, and the trend toward nihilism.  The Super Bowl might be seen as an excuse for people to congregate and share in the despair and insecurity they feel in their everyday lives, though many of them might not realize, as Kierkegaard suggested, that they are in despair.  It is an escape from death anxiety.  There is strength in numbers and the spectators feel something of a “oneness” as they worship the players, their new gods, and root for one of the teams to emerge victorious, thereby somehow cheating death.  If victory is achieved, they live on, but if defeat is the outcome, the mindset seems to be: let’s all get drunk, hold hands, and march into the abyss of nothingness, the pit of extinction, together.

“Celebrity culture is, at its core, the denial of death,” writes Chris Hedges, another Pulitzer Prize winner, in his book Empire of Illusion.  He goes on to say that religious beliefs and practices are commonly transferred to the adoration of celebrities and that a certain emptiness follows. Hedges devotes several pages to the appeal of professional wrestling, but the same might be said of professional football.  “These ritualized battles give those packed in the arenas a temporary, heady release from mundane lives.  The burden of real problems is transformed into fodder for a high-energy pantomime…. For most, it is only in the illusion of the ring that they are able to rise above their small stations in life and engage in a heroic battle to fight back.”

I like the way David Awbrey expresses it in his book, Finding Hope in the Age of Melancholy: “The culture no longer inspires society, and the bonds of shared experience that once held people together are reduced to TV, pro sports, and plotless but visually spectacular computer enhanced movies.  Unless Americans regain a broad purpose in life, they will remain secluded within their corporate cubicles, sending binary bytes into a cybernetic mist, or sequestered in their living rooms, watching moronic sitcoms in the dark.”  And, I might add, real combatants will continue to pay homage to pretend combatants.

Broad purpose in life?  Can there be any purpose other than seeing this life as preparation for a much larger life? 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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Ectoplasm & Advanced Spirit Communication Explained

Posted on 08 February 2016, 10:49

Soon after William Stainton Moses, (below) an Anglican priest and English Master at University College, London, discovered his mediumistic ability in 1872, he and Dr. Stanhope Speer, his good friend, experienced a cloud of luminous smoke, very phosphorus like, that very much alarmed them.  The next night, Moses asked the controlling spirit, an entity calling himself Mentor, one of the band of 49 spirits operating in the group headed by a spirit calling “itself” Imperator, what it was all about. The following dialogue took place, as recorded by Dr. Speer: 


Mentor: “We are scarcely able to write. The shock has destroyed your passivity. It was an accident. The envelope in which is contained the substance which we gather from the bodies of the sitters was accidentally destroyed, and hence the escape into outer air, and the smoke which terrified you. It was owing to a new operator (spirit operator) being engaged on the experiment. We regret the shock to you.”

Moses: “I was extremely alarmed. It was just like phosphorus.”
Mentor: “No, but similar. We told you when first we began to make the lights that they were attended with some risk; and that with unfavourable conditions they would be smoky and of a reddish yellow hue.”
Moses: “Yes, I know. But not that they would make a smoke and scene like that.”
Mentor: “Nor would they, save by accident. The envelope was destroyed by mischance, and the substance which we had gathered escaped.”
Moses: “What substance?”
Mentor:  “That which we draw from the bodily organisms of the sitters. We had a large supply, seeing that neither of you had sustained any drain of late.”
Moses: “You draw it from our bodies – from all?”
Mentor:  “From both of you. You are both helpful in this, both. But not from all people. From some the substance cannot be safely drawn, lest we diminish the life principle too much.”
Moses: “Robust men give it off?”
Mentor: “Yes, in greater proportion. It is the sudden loss of it and the shock that so startled you that caused the feeling of weakness and depression.”
Moses: “It seemed to come from the side of the table.”
Mentor: “From the darkened space between the sitters. We gathered it between you in the midst. Could you have seen with spirit eyes you would have discovered threads of light, joined to your bodies and leading to the space where the substance was being collected. These lines of light were ducts leading to our receptacle.”
Moses: “From what part of my body?”
Mentor: “From many; from the nerve centers and from the spine.”
Moses: “What is this substance?”
Mentor: “In simple words, it is that which give to your bodies vitality and energy. It is the life principle.”
Moses: “Very like sublimated phosphorus?”
Mentor: “No body that does not contain a large portion of what you call phosphorus is serviceable to us for objective manifestations. This is invariable. There are other qualities of which you do not know, and which not all spirits can tell, but this is invariable in mediums for physical manifestations.”

On another occasion, Imperator communicated: “We have a higher form of what is known to you as electricity, and it is by that means we are enabled to manifest, and that Mentor shows his globe of light. He brings with him the nucleus, as we told you.”

On August 10, 1873, Dr. Speer recorded that Mentor said he would show his hand. “A large, very bright light then came up as before, casting a great reflection on the oilcloth, came up as before in front of me; inside of it appeared the hand of Mentor, as distinct as it can well be conceived. ‘You see! You see!’ said he, ‘that is my hand; now I move my fingers,’ and he continued to move his fingers about freely, just in front of my face. I thanked him for his consideration.”

At a sitting on September 11, 1873, Mrs. Speer recorded: “....the next evening we sat again in perfect darkness, which Mentor took advantage of, as he showed lights almost as soon as we were seated. He then controlled the medium (Moses), talking to us about the lights as he showed them. At first they were very small. This, he said, was the nucleus of light he had brought with him, a small amount of what we should call electricity. This nucleus lasted all the time, and from the circle he gathered more light around it, and kept it alive by contact with the medium. At one time, the light was as bright as a torch. Mentor moved it about all over the table and above our heads with the greatest rapidity.”

Imperator claimed to be from the Seventh Sphere and said that his real name would mean nothing to Moses or the others, nor would the real names of Mentor, Rector, Prudens, Minister, and Doctor, all members of the “band of 49.”

At a later sitting, Prudens, Doctor, and Minister, in a group communication, explained: “The higher spirits who come to your earth are influences or emanations.  They are not what you describe as persons, but emanations from higher spheres.  Learn to recognize the impersonality of the higher messages.  When we first appeared to this medium he insisted of our identifying ourselves to him. But many influences come through our name.  Two or three stages after death, spirits lose much of what you regard as individuality and become more like influences.  I have now passed to the verge of the spheres from which it is impossible to return to you. I can influence without any regard to distance.  I am very distant from you now.” 

Another member of the band of 49, Elliotson, added:  “The exalted spirit, Imperator, who directs this medium (Moses), bathes me in his influence.  I do not see him, but he permeates the space in which I dwell.  I have received his commands and instructions, but I have never seen him.  The medium sees a manifestation of him, which is necessary in his case, not in mine.  The return to earth is a great trial for me. I might compare it to the descent from a pure and sunny atmosphere into a valley where the fog lingers. In the atmosphere of earth I seem completely changed.  The old habits of thought awaken, and I seem to breathe grosser air.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.

His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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Does Dismissing the Afterlife Make Life More Meaningful?

Posted on 25 January 2016, 11:01

Does dismissing belief in an afterlife make life more meaningful?  C. J. Blair, a columnist for The Oberlin Review, tells his or her fellow students that such is the case in the December 4 issue of the college newspaper.  “When I accepted death as the definite end, I was far more excited to embrace things that had previously scared me before, and much less eager to do things I knew I’d regret,” the philosophical student writes in explaining his/her rejection of religion. 

C. J. begins the column by admitting that he/she is afraid of death and saying that this fear was largely responsible for his/her having embraced Christianity as a child.  CJ goes on to say that he/she has now discovered humanism, a belief system that rejects all supernaturalism and says that human matters should be given primary importance.  The bottom line seems to be that CJ feels much happier now and is living life to the fullest.

I’m sure that C. J. is not alone among his/her peers in making a transition from religion to some form of humanism.  As stated in my blog of December 14, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center indicates that “nones” – people who have no religious affiliation – now make up 23 percent of the American adult population, up from 16 percent in 2007.  Some nones are atheists, some agnostic, and some so indifferent or so wrapped up in our materialistic world that they haven’t taken the time to figure out what they believe or don’t believe. The upward trend in nones is due to an increasing number of millennials – those people born since 1981 – turning away from religion.

Here is my response to C. J.:

Dear C. J.,
Like you, I don’t claim to have it all figured out, even though I have had some 60 years more than you to do so.  And, like you, I believe organized religions, including Christianity, haven’t done much to help us figure it out.  In fact, they have led us into very murky waters, even into some muck and mire.  I suspect, however, that you mistakenly assume, as so many people do, that the teachings of orthodox religions represent all there is to consider about the afterlife.

My understanding of humanism is that it is materialism, secularism, and rationalism bundled together with ethical and moral concerns and constraints. Without the ethical and moral added in, it might be called hedonism, possibly Epicureanism, the philosophy being pleasure-seeking self-indulgence or eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.  A century ago, a humanist was called a moralist, someone able to live a life of dignity and morality without subscribing to religious beliefs.  That sounds like a very noble and honorable way of living, one governed by discipline, moderation and courage rather than fear of punishment in an afterlife.  But that should not be taken to imply that the religionist is controlled only by fear and is devoid of discipline, moderation and courage. 

All well and good if humanism gives you the necessary peace of mind and happiness at this time in your life.  It is clear, however, that the ethical and moral concerns and constraints are not observed by a large percentage of young people and that humanism, as idealistic it might be, so often gives way to hedonism, as we see in much of our country and the Western world today.  At least the fear of punishment can curb that tendency to some degree and thereby benefit society.

Beyond that, it has been my observation and that of many friends in my age group that the pillars of humanism erode and crumble as one ages – when a person’s loved ones gradually begin dying off and when the humanist himself begins approaching the abyss of nothingness.  “Living in the moment,” which is what humanism seems to advocate, is much more difficult as we see ourselves nearing “extinction.”  The escape mechanisms we use to repress the idea of death simply don’t work like they did when we were in our young adult years and so occupied with establishing ourselves in careers and raising a family – when there was little or no time to do any real deep thinking about what life is all about and what might or might not come after.   

I infer from your column that you think that a belief in an afterlife means that the focus should be on that afterlife and not on this life.  There may very well be a few religious people who believe that, but I’m sure it doesn’t apply to the vast majority.  I like the way Steward Edward White, a popular author of the early part of the last century, explained it in one of his books.  Believe the source or not, but at least consider the wisdom of it.  White’s wife, Betty, was a medium and a group of spirits dubbed the “Invisibles” by White were communicating with him through her.  They referred to the desired awareness of spiritual matters, including death, as “habitual spiritual consciousness.”  Concerned that White might misunderstand and assume that they were saying that the focus should be entirely on the spiritual world, they explained: “This does not imply any retirement into some state of permanent abstraction, nor any priggish watchfulness to determine that your every move is transcendental.  It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around with you like a treasured possession.  Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influence automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon, to lend a helping hand.”

The Invisibles called “balancing” the earthly life with the immortal life the “art of life.”  They stressed that one must be able to deal with life’s adversities by viewing them from the higher consciousness.

There is much to be said for “living in the moment,” “living in the now,” “living in the present,” “living for today,” “carpe diem,” however you want to put it.  But so many people your age seem to interpret that to mean “have fun at any cost.”  Moreover, they do not appear to make a distinction between fun and happiness.  They don’t know where to draw the line between humanism and hedonism, between self-discipline and self-gratification. They opt for short-term pleasure seeking over long-term peace of mind.   

You seem to assume that because organized religion has gone astray in its search for meaning that it necessarily follows that consciousness does not survive death.  However, there is strong evidence coming to us through various phenomena, including the near-death experiences, credible mediumship, deathbed visions, past-life studies, and out-of-body experiences, all suggesting that consciousness does survive death.  And, you don’t even have to believe in a god, at least an anthropomorphic God, to accept that evidence.

Yes, I know that you can find many “know-it-all” professors around your campus that scoff at such phenomena, finding it more convenient to accept the debunking theories of materialists who claim to have studied it.  But the scientists and scholars who have thoroughly studied the phenomena can easily discount the debunking theories.  Those professors who scoff at it are victims of scientific fundamentalism, just as you apparently were once a victim of religious fundamentalism.  Scientific fundamentalism is a religion in itself and is just as misleading as religious fundamentalism.

The evidence further suggests that the humdrum heaven and horrific hell of orthodox religions is just so much hogwash.  I can’t blame you for turning away from religions that teach we spend eternity floating around on clouds, strumming harps, and praising God 24/7.  How boring all that sounds!  Modern revelation indicates that we build up in this life a “moral specific gravity” that determines what level or dimension we initially find ourselves after death and from which we continue to evolve.  What religion calls hell is really a temporary fire of the mind on the lower levels, much like having a nightmare.  Those who have led a decent life apparently gravitate to a level that is much more pleasant and exciting.  We are told that it is pretty much beyond human comprehension and language, but it is clearly not the monotonous afterlife that various religions teach.   

“Let one realize the absolute continuity of existence and at once life becomes worth living,” was the advice of philosopher Lilian Whiting.  That advice is in complete opposition to what you have suggested.  I suspect that in all your youthful wisdom you will smirk at that advice, as it is so difficult to grasp at your age.  If nothing else, I hope that it will plant a seed and be retained in your subconscious when despair begins to set in during your second half of life, when those loved ones start dying and you, too, begin approaching the abyss. Between now and then, I hope that you are able to make the distinction between “having fun” and “being happy” – happy in spite of the challenges which will provide you the opportunity to learn and advance spiritually.  And I also hope you will keep in mind the sage words of pioneering psychologist William James that one cannot effectively live in the present without some regard for the future.


Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.

His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  Feb. 8

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The “Third Hand” Eludes Catch 22 Science

Posted on 11 January 2016, 14:57

In the annals of psychical research, Eusapia Palladino, an illiterate Neapolitan woman, and Mina Crandon, the wife of a respected Boston, Mass. physician who was given the pseudonym “Margery” to protect her privacy and that of her husband, were perhaps the two most controversial mediums subjected to extensive investigation.  Anyone relying on Wikipedia or other popular sources for information will likely conclude that both Eusapia and Margery were clever tricksters.  But anyone taking the time to really dig into the subject of physical mediumship and study the detailed reports relative to these two ladies of yesteryear will not be so hasty in writing them off as charlatans.

Eusapia Palladino:above

Mina Crandon:above

The phenomena produced by the two women were somewhat similar.  Most of them were physical, including levitations of a table, (as with Eusapia in photo)  apports (objects mysteriously transported into the room), unusual lights and breezes, paraffin gloves purportedly produced by spirits, the ringing of a bell not within reach of the medium, a scale in which the weighted side went up as the unweighted side went down, and other strange happenings seemingly contrary to natural law.  Especially common to both of them was a mysterious “third hand” and arm that materialized and assisted in the production of some phenomena.  Because of the darkness required in such séances – light being harmful to the ectoplasm emitted by the medium to produce phenomena – many of the investigators concluded that the medium had somehow freed one of her hands from the restraint and thereby carried out the trick before placing the hand back into the restraint.  (Margery’s “Walter hand” is shown on the table in the photo above as her two hands are controlled.)

In one study of Eusapia, 23 researchers participated.  In the end, 10 were convinced of the supernormal character of the phenomena, while seven were uncertain but accepted that they could not have been due to ordinary mechanical agency. Thus, 17 of the 23 did not believe what they had witnessed was trickery.  Two were inclined, with certain reservations, to deny the supernormal character of the manifestations, and three concluded it had to be fraud of some kind, even though they couldn’t prove it.  One refused to express any opinion. And so it was with nearly every study of Palladino – some convinced she was a genuine medium, some convinced she was a fraud, and some not knowing what to believe. 

While I could find no such statistics with Margery, the various reports and books about her suggest somewhat similar numbers.  And like Eusapia, some believed that Margery was a “mixed medium,” producing genuine phenomena at times and at other times, when her powers failed her, faking it so as not to disappoint those observing.  There was also a question of whether the fraud was conscious or unconscious, the latter taking place during the trance state and the medium not being aware of what was going on. It was just too bizarre for many of the researchers to process.  To put it another way, it exceeded the boggle threshold of many researchers. 

One researcher who was very quick to call Margery a charlatan was Dr. Joseph B. Rhine, who went on to found the parapsychology lab at Duke University.  Rhine sat with Margery on January 1, 1926 and claimed that he saw the shadow of Margery’s foot kick a megaphone.  That observation plus some speculation as to how Margery “could have” or “might have” deceived him and others led to Rhine branding her a charlatan.  A little over a year earlier, the Great Houdini, the master magician, claimed that he detected Margery’s foot moving when a bell box supposedly out of reach of her feet rang.  Houdini also said that Margery must certainly have had confederates sneaking into the dark room to assist her.  “All fraud – every bit of it,” Houdini is quoted in David Jaher’s recent book, The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, which reports on the fascinating story of Margery and the scientific investigation surrounding her. 

Jaher devotes quite a few pages to Houdini and his quest to debunk all mediums.  He mentions earlier in the book that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous British author of “Sherlock Holmes” and an enthusiastic promoter of Spiritualism, had attempted to convince Houdini of the reality of mental mediumship by having him sit with his wife, Jean, an automatic writing medium.  Lady Doyle is said to have channeled 15 pages of automatic writing purporting to come from Houdini’s mother.  Houdini was apparently stunned, validating every word of it. However, since it came through in English and his mother did not speak English, Houdini concluded it had to be a trick, though he couldn’t explain how Lady Doyle came upon much of the information.  When Sir Arthur tried to explain to Houdini that languages often come through in thought transmissions rather than in languages or by means of a “control” (a spirit guide on the other side), Houdini ignored him.  Apparently, nothing was going to deter him from proving that he was the greatest magician in the world, and no medium – obviously a magician of some kind, he believed – was going to put one over on him. 

On one occasion an eraser was found in the bell-ringing mechanism and was believed to have been planted there by Houdini to prevent the bell from ringing, while on another occasion a fold-up six-inch ruler was found in a cabinet built by Houdini to restrain Margery, apparently a plant by Houdini to frame her by claiming she extended the ruler to reach out and effect certain phenomena.  Jim Collins, an assistant to Houdini, is said to have later confessed to putting the ruler inside the box. 

The “master of ceremonies,” or “control” at the Eusapia séances was a “spirit” calling himself John King, while Margery’s control was said to be Walter Stinson, Margery’s older brother who had been killed in a train accident in 1911.  Walter would speak through his entranced sister and also independently of her through a trumpet, would carry on conversations with the sitters, joke with them, whistle tunes, and do automatic writing through Margery.  Whether by Walter or some other spirit, she even produced script in Greek and Chinese.  With both Eusapia and Margery, the voices were masculine and not totally in character with the medium.  Eusapia’s “third hand” was said to be John King’s hand, while Margery’s extra hand was referred to as her “Walter hand.”

The spiritistic explanation for both Eusapia and Margery was that medium vacated her body when she went into trance, while the spirit control took over management of the medium’s body.  This had been observed earlier by researchers studying the mediumship of Leonora Piper, also a Boston trance medium, although a mental medium rather than a physical medium.  Many of the characteristics of the purported communicating spirit were observed in Piper.  For example, on one occasion, Mrs. Piper appeared to be twirling an imaginary moustache, something the entity supposedly using her vocal cords frequently did when alive in the flesh. 

But the scientific explanation was that these so-called spirit controls were “secondary personalities” or “dream personalities” buried away in the subconscious of the medium and somehow manifesting in the trance state.  When evidential information came through the medium, the scientists theorized that it came by way of mind reading, or telepathically.  When information came through that even those present did not know but which was later confirmed as correct, the scientists theorized that telepathy was more cosmic in nature and the medium could therefore access information from minds not present in the séance room.  As far-fetched as that seemed, it was more “scientific” than spirits of the dead.  With mediums producing physical phenomena rather than mental phenomena, such as with Eusapia and Margery, the evidence was more in the defiance of natural law than in facts communicated. 

The most common debunking theory offered by the various investigators for both Eusapia and Margery was that they were able to somehow release themselves from the restraints and tippy-toe around the room in the dark, ringing bells, touching people and otherwise producing the strange phenomena while disguising their voices, or, in the case of Margery, having a servant or a friend assist her in the deception, somehow crawling into the room and under the table and stealthily exiting before the lights came back on. 
One skeptical theory advanced by Harvard investigators was that Margery’s husband, a gynecologist, surgically enlarged her “anatomical storehouse” so that she could smuggle her “bag of tricks” into the room.  This included the mysterious “third hand” hand that sometimes appeared. 

Dr. Charles Richet, a French physician, professor, and researcher who won the 1913 Nobel Prize in medicine, reported ectoplasmic arms and hands emerging from the body of Eusapia, adding that they appeared to act independently of Eusapia’s will.  At his private retreat on Ribaud Island in the Mediterranean, Richet, along with renowned physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, Frederic Myers, and Dr. Julian Ochorowicz, conducted experiments with Eusapia in 1894.  “I held one of Eusapia’s hands firmly in each of mine,” Richet recalled one experiment.  “I then felt a third hand touch my shoulder, my head, and my face.  This was not in darkness; there was a lighted candle in the room.”  The other three scientists could see what was going on and confirmed that Richet had control of Eusapia’s two hands at all times.

While convinced that Eusapia had supernatural abilities, Richet remained skeptical as to whether the evidence suggested spirits and survival.  “I oppose it (spirit hypothesis) half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory,” he wrote. 

Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, reported on a test involving a spring dynamometer, which, when squeezed, measured hand grip strength.  Lodge recorded that in one test, Eusapia was giving a feeble clutch when she suddenly shouted, “Oh, John, you’re hurting me!” and the men observed the needle go far beyond what any of them could exert.  “She wrung her fingers afterwards, and said John (King) had put his great hand around hers, and squeezed the machine up to an abnormal figure,” Lodge explained, noting that “John King” occasionally showed his hand, “a big, five-fingered, ill-formed thing it looked in the dusk.”

Dr. Filippo Bottazzi, an Italian physiologist, observed a “synchrony” between Eusapia’s hands and feet and whatever displacement or movement was going on away from her.  That is, her fingers, hands, and feet seemed to be moving in harmony with activity producing a certain phenomenon out of her reach.  Like Richet, Bottazzi was convinced that Eusapia was not playing tricks, but he was reluctant to accept the spiritistic explanation, as it would not have been “scientific.”

If the scientists studying Margery some 20-30 years after the Eusapia research had given any consideration to the spiritistic explanation, they might have been able to explain Margery’s movements seen by Rhine and Houdini as evidence of fraud, as well as her “third hand,” without claiming trickery.  But it would not have been “scientific” to recognize the possibility of spirits being involved.  They would have had to hypothesize spirits to prove spirits.  It was a Catch 22 situation.  Is it any wonder that no progress had been made in the research involving physical mediums? 

Jaher recently announced that his book is being made into a movie.  While Jaher leaves the reader wondering if Margery was the real deal or not, I suspect that the movie will have a Hollywood ending with Houdini as the hero.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.

His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  January 25  



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Indridi Indridason: The Amazing Icelandic Medium

Posted on 28 December 2015, 7:52

D. D. Home is often referred to as the greatest physical medium on record, at least the greatest one since Jesus of Nazareth.  But Home may have to relinquish his top spot to Indridi Indridason of Iceland now that we have a record of his phenomena set forth in English by Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson in their book, Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, released recently by White Crow Books.

Born in 1883, the son of a farmer, Indridi (below) was a printer’s apprentice who discovered his mediumistic ability in late 1904 or early 1905, after attending a mediumistic circle at the home of a relative.  When he took his seat, a table reacted violently and when he got home a table there moved violently around the room.  Initially, he was frightened by his ability, but he gradually came to accept it and develop it, his mediumship being at its height in 1909.  He died in 1912, at age 28, after a three-year battle with typhoid fever and tuberculosis.


During his four to five years of mediumship, Indridi was studied and observed by many members of the Experimental Society of Reykjavik, later called the Icelandic Society for Psychical Research. The phenomena reported by the Society included materialization of human forms, dematerializations (Indridi’s arm disappearing), levitations of both Indridi and furniture, direct writing (a pencil writing without a visible hand), automatic writing, direct voice (voices independent of the medium and others in the room), trance voice (voices coming through the entranced medium), musical instruments floating in the room and giving off music, apports, and poltergeist-type activity (shelves being torn from the wall, tables overturned, etc.).  Although Indridi spoke only Icelandic and knew only a few words of Danish, “spirit communicators” came through in various other languages, including Danish, Norwegian, French, Dutch, and English.  A deceased French woman often sang at the séances – sometimes using Indridi’s vocal cords and at other times using the independent voice – with just the right enunciation, while those in attendance who understood French spoke with her.  At times, the researchers could hear two voices singing simultaneously – the soprano voice of the French woman and the bass voice of a man. 

The researchers included a number of distinguished Icelandic scientists and scholars.  The detailed minutes left behind by these researchers make it clear that they were very much aware of the need for strictly controlled conditions in studying the phenomena. They strip-searched the medium, had “watchers” holding his hands and legs, had him surrounded by a large net, attached phosphorescent tape to him and various objects, and carried out their study behind locked doors. 

“Oh, see me and me. . .  You are there below with the body,” Indridi was quoted after going into trance early in his mediumship.  “The body is not me.  I am up here.  There are two Indridis.  Oh, is it not strange to see the nerve [cord], which lies between me and me!  The lips of the body move and they say what I say.  The nerve becomes thinner, the further away I am from my body.”

Indridi’s primary spirit control was identified as Konrad Gislason, the brother of his paternal grandfather, who had died in 1891 after a career as a professor of Icelandic and Nordic Studies in Copenhagen.  During an early sitting with Indridi, the researchers reported a sofa “carried around the séance room by invisible powers, while Indridi lay prostrate upon it,” apparently in a trance state. Speaking through Indridi’s lips, Gislason invited the sitters to stand and inspect the sofa, which was at the height of their chests and to confirm that nothing was holding it up, which they did before the sofa slowly moved down to the floor.  On another occasion, it was reported that Indridi floated over their heads while seated in a wicker chair.

On November 24, 1905, a “spirit” introducing himself as “Mr. Jensen,” unknown to anyone present, communicated and stated that a fire was raging in a factory in Copenhagen (more than 1,300 miles from Reykjavik).  It took a month before news of this fire reached Iceland, but the date and time were consistent with the communication from Jensen.

While the researchers observed some phenomena, including tables moving about during daylight and also observed some phenomena under red light, they discovered that light, even red light, resulted in diminished phenomena.  They would often strike a match to momentarily observe what was going on.  It was noted that light caused Indridi much pain while he was in the trance state.

Dr. Gudmundur Hannesson, a professor of medicine and twice president of the University of Iceland, was highly skeptical when he first sat with Indridi in 1908, but he gradually came to the conclusion that there was no magic or trickery involved. He reported that after Indridi fell into a trance, voices came from all over the room, and that they had their own unique characteristics, each one speaking in its own way.  “They reply unreservedly when spoken to; sometimes humorously, sometimes solemnly, just according to the individual inclination of each one,” Hannesson recorded.  “We may happen to converse with a humorist making fun of everything; or a deceased clergyman may raise his voice and say a pathetic prayer.  It is, however, quite common that the voices of those appearing for the first time are hardly intelligible but gradually become plainer as time goes on.”

While certain that fraud was not involved, Hannesson said he could not bring himself to believe in what he had witnessed. “It is not easy for unbelieving people to accept the theory that inanimate things move about without any natural causes,” he wrote.  He added that he didn’t see much point in discussing what the “spirits” had to say about their living conditions, since proof could not be offered, but he did say that the communicating spirits retained their personality and their happiness was according to their desserts, differing a great deal in each individual case.  While he felt that most of what they described would be acceptable to Christian people, there was also much that clashed with church teachings. 

Apparently, Indridi was not immune to low-level and mischievous spirits. On one occasion, as he was sleeping in an experimental house, he was dragged head first along the floor as two other men attempted to restrain the invisible force pulling him by holding on to his legs. The following night two chairs and a large book were thrown across the room by an entity identified as Jon Einarsson.  The next morning, as Indridi was dressing, he was flung down on his bed and a bowl thrown at him.  As reported by Brynjolfur Thorlaksson, Indridi was putting on his trousers when he screamed for help. “I ran into the bedroom to him,” Thorlaksson wrote.  “But then I saw a sight that I shall never forget.  Indridi was floating horizontal in the air, at about the height of my chest, and swaying there to and fro, with his feet pointing towards the window, and it seems to me that the invisible power that was holding him in the air was trying to swing him out of the window.”  Thorlaksson then grabbed Indridi’s legs and found himself being lifted with Indridi, until a third person ran in the room and helped hold them both down.  Soon thereafter, Indridi’s spirit controls found a way to control Jon, an angry spirit who had committed suicide.
In spite of the reports by the various researchers, scientists who had not been part of the research group, the press, and religious leaders scoffed, certain there had to be some trickery involved, even though they could not understand it, or it was the work of the devil.  More than a hundred years later, nothing has changed.  The scoffs and guffaws are much the same.  Although physical mediumship does not seem to be as prominent as it was 100 to 150 years ago – probably because of all the distractions and “noise” we now have in our lives – there are still some physical mediums producing somewhat similar phenomena, although perhaps not as dynamic as those given off by Home and Indridason. 

For the open-minded person, this story of Indridi Indridason should add to the reports by other credible researchers involving other physical mediums and perhaps convince him or her that there really is something to such mediumship, as mind-boggling as it might be.

Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium by Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson is published by White Crow Books.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  January 11

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A Millennial Tackles the Afterlife

Posted on 14 December 2015, 10:44

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, “nones” – people who have no religious affiliation – now make up 23 percent of the American adult population.  That’s up from 16 percent in 2007.  Some nones are atheists, some agnostic, and some so indifferent or so wrapped up in our materialistic world that they haven’t taken the time to figure out what they believe or don’t believe. The upward trend in nones is due to an increasing number of millennials – those people born since 1981 – turning away from religion.

Cyrus Kirkpatrick, (below) a 29-year-old freelance writer living in Los Angeles, qualifies as both a none and a millennial, but that doesn’t mean he is a non-believer or a nihilist.  His recently released book, Understanding Life After Death, clearly attests to that.  Subtitled “An Exploration of What Awaits You, Me and Everyone We’ve Ever Known,” the book offers a comprehensive review of the evidence for an afterlife, the arguments against it, the nature of the afterlife, and the obstacles we encounter in accepting and realizing that afterlife. 


“To say this is an important topic is an understatement,” he writes in the book’s Introduction with unusual insight for someone so young.  “It is arguably more important than making money, politics, careers and vacation.  Our lives are stunningly short, and very soon – you are going to die – whether from a disease like cancer, an auto accident, or hopefully a natural passing in your sleep.  Given this reality is fast approaching, it makes sense to begin committing time to understand it, so that the moments you have left can be enjoyed without having to worry so much about mortality – because what we understand, we do not fear.”

As Kirkpatrick sees it, some of his generation’s disdain for the topic results from a distrust of religion and its vague dogma.  “As a non-religious, secular person myself – I can perfectly understand this distrust,” he explains.  “but we must be careful not to allow our disillusionment with religion to poison all spiritual concepts, and we must also be cautious in adopting drastic, antithetical philosophies with no benefit to us.” 

After reading his excellent book, I contacted him and put some questions to him by email.

How did you become interested in the subject of life after death, especially at such a young age?

“Sometimes it’s hard to understand the things that appeal to us. It started with an inability to reconcile the concept of death based on what society as a whole (and family members) were trying to tell me. I remember being about 13-years-old and thinking to myself, ‘This is ridiculous. What’s going on here? It can’t be true that there are absolutely no answers to this really fundamental thing that everybody has to deal with.’ That, combined with a general interest in the so-called paranormal, is what started me on a path of exploring the afterlife, and it’s a path I never stopped traveling.”

What motivated you to write the book?

“I’d been involved in publishing for a few years, creating smaller books about mobile income and travel (the ‘Lifestyle Design’ series), but I had yet to release a feature length project. I then decided I needed to create something I could be really proud of before I turned 30. I’d never stepped forward into the spotlight with my life-long interest in the afterlife before, but decided I would do it by creating a comprehensive book in a surprising change of genre from what I normally write about.”

How do you view the growing increase in “nones” among millennials?  Does it necessarily suggest a more materialistic, more hedonistic lifestyle?  More fear of death?

“The good news is that I think my generation tends to be exceptionally thoughtful and concerned with social issues, so we’re not hedonists or even extremely materialistic. However, because there’s so much disdain for religion—perhaps understandably so—there’s a lot of confusion about important, existential topics. Most people are unaware of the secular case for life after death, and they do not realize that completely rejecting the topic is irrational, because data strongly supports the existence of an afterlife. I think the more young people realize that this has nothing to do with religion but is an area of science, they will begin to explore the topic more seriously. And this would be a good thing, because I believe (based on personal experience) that when millennials and the younger Generation-Y are faced with concepts like nihilism and eternal oblivion (that scientists like Stephen Hawking espouse) it causes what I feel is more depression and existential uncertainty than I’ve seen in other age groups, probably due to their thoughtful nature.”

If you were asked to pick three cases in annals of survival research, which ones would you choose?  Why?
“Firstly, the Anni Nanji tapes from the Leslie Flint physical mediumship séances. This incidence was never widely publicized, yet it remains hard evidence of survival that anybody can listen to online. In essence, an Indian doctor communicated via direct voice with his deceased wife, Anni, over the course of a decade. They were able to carry on their relationship, discussing tiny details of each other’s lives which makes the possibility of fraud almost non-existent.

“Next, I always suggest to research the fairly recent Scole experiments out of England. This incidence was really a game-changer because it demonstrated how physical mediumship can occur in modern times, allowing supernatural phenomena to happen under controlled conditions.

“Lastly, for something different, I would suggest the work of Luis Gasparetto from Sao Paulo, Brazil. There is video available where he can paint four masterpieces at one time, with each limb operating a different paintbrush (while blindfolded). His claims that he channels multiple famous artists at once become very believable.”

You wrote that you first started exploring the out-of-body state in 2013.  Did it come quickly?  Please summarize your most dynamic OBE. 

“The OBE state unlocked a lot of doors that were sometimes hard for me to even believe were real due to their fantastical nature. It took a few months of nightly practice, crawling out of my body and trying to get past my doorway before it became easier, at which point a couple of extremely surprising experiences happened, that involved apparent direct communication with astral residents. The OBEs reached their zenith of absurdity when, one morning, I found myself being gently tugged out of my body and visited by the ethereal presence of a snarky old British man who claimed to be the famous occultist Aleister Crowley.

“This was my most dynamic experience because we had a completely regular conversation for around twenty minutes. Although I cannot confirm if his identity was really that of Crowley (I personally believe it was), it gave me a chance to have a real conversation with a so-called ‘spirit,’ which involved a mixture of completely normal, audible conversation alongside the projection of telepathic imagery; often used to aesthetically enhance the communication. 

“Crowley’s visit, he claimed, was a result of the fact that I had been researching him and he ‘detected’ my interest in him; and further the entity claimed that he likes to keep friendly tabs on those on my side with interest in otherworldly affairs (like myself). The whole experience was unforgettable and very exciting.”

If a skeptic were to say that OBEs are nothing more than dreams or products of your imagination, how would you respond to him?

“I would respond sympathetically because I once believed this as well. It’s important to remember the OBE is often a real, ‘physical’ experience with vibratory changes, electrical sensations as you disconnect, and the ability to have full sensory input, and you can even collect verifiable information to further prove to yourself that it was real.”

Do you expect to see much better evidence for survival 50 years down the road than we have now?  If so, in what area of research do you think it will come?

“A lot can change in 50 years. I’d currently place the most interest on the resurgence of physical mediumship. The Scole experiments kicked off highly scrutinized séances that could be confirmed by teams of qualified researchers. If some type of research lab is created where teams of mediums could break down the barriers between worlds in a consistent fashion, with help from the other side in a kind of large-scale organized effort involving many people from both dimensions, then we may see major progress.’

Do you see much interest in the subject of life after death among other people your age?

“In person, yes. As a traveler who stays in a lot of hostels, I meet many people in my age group and younger, and very often these topics arise naturally. I will mention how I wrote a book about life after death, and suddenly people feel like they want to just gush out and tell me about all these experiences they’ve had but were unable to share them with anybody before they met me.

“By contrast to real life, internet communities of younger people skew more closed-mindedly. I think there’s enormous pressure on people to conform to popular opinions; especially on the anonymous internet where people sometimes become meaner and allow their worst behaviors to come to the surface.”

Do your friends and relatives think you are weird?  What do you say to them to justify your interest?

“The ones who think I’m weirdest seem to believe I’m radioactive, and so they steer far enough away from me that I don’t have to worry about justifying anything to them. The truth is, this topic just does not resonate with a lot of people. And that’s perfectly fine. At some point in most people’s lives though, a time comes when they become curious about big questions, and then this subject may be important to them. But there’s no rush.

“That being said, I also know plenty of people who fully support my work, even if they don’t fully understand the nature of what I write about.”

You state that you are a secular person.  Do you think we would have less chaos and turmoil in the world and enjoy greater peace of mind if all churches suddenly closed their doors and ceased to exist?

“Not at all. A religion can still represent a cultural experience that may be important within the range of human expression (from Islamic culture to Japanese Shintoism), while the dark behavior of humans would persist whether it was justified by religion or not. The big problem is when religious people fail to ground themselves in reality; as in cases of extremism; from Westboro Baptist Church to ISIS. What do we do about this? At least with a secular approach to spirituality, we can obtain answers that are grounded in facts and data versus the fallible nature of scripture. But this doesn’t mean we should abandon the positive aspects of religious culture entirely, so long as they are not beliefs that can hurt yourself or others.”

Please summarize your conclusion about this big, mysterious topic known as the afterlife?

“At some point there may come a time to stop calling the afterlife ‘the afterlife’ because that’s not really what it is. I prefer the term ‘multi-planar universe.’ We have to imagine our culture as being very primitive. A more advanced society may have a perfect comprehension of these topics, but for us we are still grasping to advance to that level, and so we misunderstand these concepts, interpreting them through a primitive, narrow lens. The impression I get is that the way life works is that we are constantly moving between different planes—different dimensions—having a myriad of experiences as we meet new people and have new adventures. For the vast majority of people in the universe who live in planes beyond this one, this concept is blatantly obvious and there’s no need to place unnecessary importance on the transition point (death). However, for us on Earth, it’s all this new, crazy, magical thing. At a certain point we need to finally grow up and recognize how the universe works.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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Getting to the Root Cause of World Madness with Lord Dowding

Posted on 30 November 2015, 16:54

As I watch our politicians and journalists discuss all the chaos, turmoil and madness in the world today, I rarely hear or read anything relating to the underlying existential causes, the root causes.  All the discussion has to do with more surface causes, such as economic or political differences. No one dares suggest that the insanity we see in the world these days is the result of an increasing number of humans finding no meaning in life.  Nor does anyone suggest that ultra-materialism or hedonism, as promoted by the entertainment and advertising industries, is a factor.

I like the way Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding (Sir Hugh Dowding, 1882 – 1970), put it in his 1960 book, God’s Magic (recently republished, along with three other Dowding books, Lychgate, Many Mansions, and The Dark Star by White Crow Books).  “The problem of world chaos is linked very closely with the chaos in the mind of humanity,” offered Dowding,  (below) considered the man most responsible for Great Britain’s victory in the 1940 Battle of Britain during World War II.  “Man insists on looking outward for causes instead of looking inward.  As with the individual, so with a nation.  An individual who has an unquiet spirit will have an unquiet environment.”


But politicians and journalists do not want to get into such philosophical issues.  If they espouse the predominant materialistic view of science, they are simply endorsing nihilism and reaffirming that life has no purpose.  The only way that life has real purpose is if there is a “larger life” beyond this one, but that means the politicians and journalists have to tread somewhat in controversial religious territory.  Political correctness prevents the politicians from getting into such areas, while the journalists fear that they will appear unintelligent by discussing such unscientific matters.  Yes, some of our more right-wing politicians now take pride in mentioning God, but their fundamentalist beliefs are in shallow, murky waters and therefore not very persuasive.  They only add fuel to the fire. 

And so we continue to spiral downward, finding ourselves significantly lower than in Lord Dowding’s days in spite of significant technological and materialistic gains since his time. One recent Associated Press story discussed the decline in happiness among Americans, attributing it to growing financial pressures, also referred to as “economic insecurity.”  Another newspaper article stated that middle-aged white American males “are dying in droves,” much more than a few decades ago, as personal and financial stress gives rise to suicides and drug overdoses.  A fairly recent magazine article also mentioned studies indicating that Americans are not as happy as they were 30-40 years ago, apparently because they have reached the point of diminishing returns in realizing materialistic comforts.  It was suggested that the sowing brings greater happiness than the reaping and we have reaped so much that we have become bored and depressed.  We are perhaps nearing the point that Nero reached when Rome burned.

One reporter, Ben Boychuk of Tribune News Service, did dare to go deeper than the others in searching for reasons for the middle-aged mortality problem.  “When you have nothing to believe in but yourself, and you’re life is a misery, then it’s hardly surprising that many men – unemployed, childless, aimless – turn to booze, drugs, video games, porn, or whatever else dulls the pain,” he offered.  “Our problem isn’t just a lack of meaningful work.  It’s the lack of meaning, period.”  He further stated:  “Nihilism is in the very air we breathe.”

Lord Hugh Dowding Statue, St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London

As Dowding saw it, the belief in the survival of consciousness at death is at the core of all concerns and issues facing humankind and the remedy for the ills of the world are to be found in accepting the “overwhelming evidence” that conscious personal existence continues beyond the grave.  The wise man, he said, “will demand to know as much as possible about his future state.  If he believes that he will be snuffed out like a candle, he should believe it because he has carefully examined and deliberately rejected the alternatives, and not because it is the most comfortable thing for a selfish materialist to believe.”

Of course, there are many today who will blame much of the world turmoil on religion and belief in an afterlife, some religious zealots being in too much of a hurry to get there.  But just because various religions have gone astray in their search for meaning doesn’t mean the whole idea of afterlife should be condemned.  Dowding was critical of orthodox religion. “For several reasons the Church is not helpful to laymen in forming their opinions on the subject of individual survival,” he wrote, speaking primarily of Christian orthodoxy.  “The Church anchored its ship sixteen hundred years ago, and the capstan has rusted up. It shirks the issue, and will not openly examine and pronounce upon the mass of evidence which exists on the subject of the future life.”

As Dowding saw it, the “hereafter” offered by religion is much too vague and “deliberately wooly,” so much so that it makes absolutely no sense to the ordinary person.
“The result is that when the time does approach the man is frightened.  He fears death.  And when he wakes up on the other side he often won’t believe he is dead because he feels so much the same as he did before he died.”

As a result of his investigation of mediumship, Dowding became a Spiritualist.  He recognized that there were charlatans attempting to dupe the public, but he was equally certain that spirit communication took place through genuine mediums.  He also recognized that there were many inconsistencies and contradictions coming through these genuine mediums, but he came to understand that this was the result of many factors, including subconscious coloring by the medium’s mind, attempts to explain celestial matters in terrestrial terms, and by misinformation coming from low-level spirits.  However, there was enough consistency in certain areas, such as the many dimensions or levels on the other side, the awakening of the spirit body with the same consciousness with which it left the physical world, and an afterlife of activity and progression, that he believed that it was a subject every intelligent person should study.  “My assertion is that a man who will study what has been made available to us by ancient and modern revelation can build up for himself a picture of the Scheme of the Universe and of the Progress of Humanity, which is perfectly acceptable to a rational intelligence – making allowance, of course, for the fact that there are certain aspects of multidimensional life which are quite outside the scope of our three-dimensional brains,” he explained his view.

As for the oft-heard advice that we should “live in the moment” and not concern ourselves with what might come or not come after death, Dowding countered that the person who has the conviction that he will live on after death in a meaningful way will enrich his life.  “If and when he accepts the overwhelming evidence that conscious personal existence does continue beyond the grave, he will wish to treat his continuing life as a whole, and modify in thought, word and deed the natural and instinctive expression of his personality so as to accord with a long-term policy, instead of thinking only of the little period which he spends on earth,” he wrote.  “This is my definition of Religion, and indeed Religion in its widest sense is desperately needed today.”

Many Mansions, Lychgate, The Dark Star, and God’s Magic are now published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  December 14

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After-Death recovery is like recovery from a marathon

Posted on 16 November 2015, 11:24

As I see it, the biggest failure of organized religion is its teaching of a dichotomous afterlife.  Either you are judged righteous and go to a very humdrum heaven or you are judged wicked and go to a horrific hell.  There is no in-between state, though Catholics recognize purgatory, which is just as bad as hell, except that it is not eternal. Nor is there any period of adaptation or progression in the religious afterlife.  Modern revelation has attempted to correct this illogical and totally unjust thinking, but orthodoxy has ignored it and few have heard it.

As an analogy, relative to the adaptation period, let me suggest that you picture seven people on the starting line of a marathon.  These seven people represent humanity.  The first of our seven starters is an Olympic caliber runner, capable of covering the 26.2-mile distance at nearly 13 miles per hour and finishing in a little over two hours.  The second person is a fitness runner, more commonly called a “jogger.”  While physically fit, he or she will finish an hour or more behind the Olympic runner, covering about 7-8 mph per hour. So great is the distance between them that the Olympic runner will have had time to shower and have a full meal before the jogger crosses the finish line. 

The third person might be called a “plodder,” a somewhat less-dedicated jogger.  He or she is reasonably fit, but will take four to five hours to complete the marathon distance, moving along at 5-6 mph.  Then there is the “walker,” pumping along at a brisk 3-4 mph for the marathon distance and finishing between 6.5 and 8 hours. 

Our last three contestants are in the couch-potato (CP) category.  They do no exercise at all and are totally unprepared for the marathon challenge.  CP #1 is 20 pounds overweight, but he still has enough youthful vitality to endure some physical exertion. Although this person will have to stop and take some breaks along the way, walking most of it, he or she might be able to average close to 2-3 miles per hour and finish in 10-12 hours.

CP #2 is older, much more sluggish and overweight than CP #1, and will meander over the course while taking many more rest breaks along the way.  Sore muscles or joints combined with fatigue may very well result in this person abandoning the effort, but if he/she manages to finish, it will likely take 15-20 hours or more, not much faster than one mile per hour. 

And lastly we have CP #3, the grossly overweight and out-of-shape person who becomes exhausted after walking one city block.  This individual will struggle to cover one mile a day, if that, and may take a month to log in 26.2 miles, assuming his body holds up.    The Olympic runner will have finished when this person is only a mile or so into the 26.2 mile marathon distance.

Now, forget about athletic or physical fitness and attempt to put the range of running fitness to degrees of spiritual fitness.  Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and the more virtuous and humble people take the place of the Olympic runner, while Adolph Hitler, Jack the Ripper, and other serial killers are the spiritual equivalent of couch potato #3.  In between we have various degrees of virtue and vice.  The average person today is probably somewhere between the brisk walker and couch potato #1 – in the 2-4 mph category, not especially virtuous but not full of vice, either.  Computer hackers, shoplifters, embezzlers, and scammers are the equivalent of couch potato #2, not quite down there with the serial killers.

Jump ahead to the finish line and picture the condition of each of the seven contestants, assuming that the couch potatoes were able to finish.  The Olympic runner recovers quickly, within a matter of minutes, breathing normally even in a matter of seconds.  Outside of a little muscle soreness, he or she will have little in the way of after effects. The jogger will take a little longer to feel normal and his/her body will be sore and stiff for up to a week.  The plodder might fall on the ground in complete exhaustion, taking an hour or more to feel halfway normal, and will also feel extremely sore or stiff for a week or more. The walker, assuming he/she held nothing in reserve, will be worn and weary and may struggle to get out of bed in the days following. 

But the couch potatoes may take days, weeks or months to recover, assuming that they gave it their all. Moreover, their unconditioned bodies may leave them with residual physical problems that may linger indefinitely after the race. 

Now, again, forget about the running experience and view this post-race condition as the adjustment required of the individual after death. Substitute spiritual consciousness for physical fitness.  The Mother Teresas and Gandhis of the world make a quick transition after death, quickly awakening and adjusting to the conditions of the spirit world, while, at the other extreme, the Hitlers and Jack the Rippers are so lacking in spiritual consciousness that they don’t even realize they are dead.  It is as if they are having a nightmare in which they are experiencing the pain and anguish which they inflicted on others during their lifetimes.  The nightmare could last years, decades, or even centuries in earth time.

The more average person – the one who developed limited spiritual consciousness while placing a higher value on materialistic possessions, though not doing significant harm to anyone – may flounder for several days or weeks in earth time after giving up the ghost, and may then remain in a stupor and require a period of convalescence before pursuing an active life on the Other Side, but this person’s “earthbound” ties will gradually be severed.. 

It is all a matter of degree, one’s “moral specific gravity” having as many variations as one’s fitness for a marathon.  If only religions would grasp this, they might stop losing members.  As Jesus said, there are “many mansions,” on that side, although “mansions” is a poor English translation for abodes.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post: November 30

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Liberating Jesus

Posted on 02 November 2015, 10:30

While attending a luncheon given by a Christian fellowship of lawyers not too many months ago, I found myself talking with the president of the organization and suddenly being indicted for my “demonic” interests. When the lawyer friend who had invited me to the lunch – which featured Don Piper, the author of the best-selling book 90 Minutes in Heaven, the subject of a recent movie, as the guest speaker – mentioned to the president and another member that I had authored a number of books on spiritual matters, the young female president asked me what they were about.  I hesitated before responding, as I doubted that my answer would be met favorably.  But I gave a truthful answer, telling her that the books are primarily about mediumship.  An expression of shock came upon the president’s face and she then asked me how I am able to sleep at night.  She did an abrupt about-face and stormed away.  The other member standing there reached out for my hand, clasped it between both of his and said he would pray for me, before he too departed, leaving me with my somewhat bewildered friend. 

A little later, while I was engaged in a conversation with two other members, one of them asked me where I worship.  Again, I hesitated, as a truthful answer would be “no particular place.”  In fact, I had to bite my lower lip to avoid telling the person that I don’t believe God wants to be worshipped like some pagan idol.  But the word “worship” can mean different things to different people, and so I responded by saying “I’m sort of an unorthodox Christian and do my own thing.”  That answer puzzled the person and he, too, found it necessary to excuse himself.  Clearly, I was a demon in this holier-than-thou group. 

I should have had Roberta Grimes (below) with me to represent me and offer a defense on my behalf, although I doubt she would have been given the opportunity.  Grimes is a lawyer whose recently released book, Liberating Jesus, would most likely be looked upon as a work of heresy by most members of the organization.  “Christianity is wrong, but Jesus is right,” she offers early in her book. “I felt alone when I first made that discovery, but I realize now as I continue to travel and speak about my death-related books that God is moving in many hearts.  Surveys in western countries find that more and more people are defining themselves as less religious but more spiritual.”


Grimes, whose previous books include The Fun of Dying and The Fun of Staying in Touch, examines the Bible, dissecting many of its passages, while showing how various verbiage can be interpreted in different ways and how orthodoxy, in its translations from the Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, seems to have interpreted so much of it in a way that lends itself to fear-based governing, in effect, distorting much of the Bible.  Her focus is on the gospels of the New Testament.  “...Christians have diluted the message of Jesus by considering the Old Testament and the balance of the New Testament to be on a par with the divinely-inspired Gospels,” Grimes explains.  “The lack of focus on God’s truth as it is revealed to us in the Gospels has stunted Christianity in peculiar ways.”  Basically, she dismisses 1) a human-like God; 2) a devil figure; 3) eternal damnation in a fiery hell; 4) the atonement doctrine; and 5) that being a Christian matters when it comes to one’s initial station in the afterlife. 

“The whole medieval notion of a King on a glorious throne who is apparently meant to be Jesus, and having all the nations bowing before Him and separating the sheep from the goats, and the whole concept of God loving some a lot and others not so much:  all of that is so inconsistent with the rest of the Gospels, the afterlife evidence, and even the culture in which Jesus lived that it has to have been added later,” Grimes states. “Clinching this judgment is the fact that the whole ins-versus-outs storyline helps Church leaders to keep their flocks in line.”

Having done a thorough investigation of more modern revelation, such as credible mediumship, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, deathbed visions, and other paranormal phenomena, Grimes, who grew up as a devout Protestant and then Catholic, is able to reconcile the modern revelation with the teachings of the gospels, finding a Truth that offers a divine plan consistent with a loving creator, not the cruel, capricious, vindictive god of the Old Testament, nor a dichotomous afterlife – one area reserved for the righteous and another area for the wicked. 

I have always wondered how a criminal defense lawyer or a judge who accepts the Old Testament’s form of justice or the Atonement Doctrine as proper justice can possibly advocate or administer justice.  I once hypothesized fictional characters called Ned and Jed for another friend, who is a “born-again” Christian. After many years of murdering, raping, plundering, and pillaging with malice and forethought, these twin brothers were finally stopped by the police. Jed was shot and killed instantly, while Ned was apprehended and sent to prison for life.  During his confinement, Ned “found” God and repented.  The predominant Christian belief is that Ned will spend eternity in heaven, while Jed will burn forever in the fires of hell. Their fates were determined by chance or luck – Jed catching the bullet and Ned avoiding it.  Where is the reason, the compassion, the equity, the fairness, the logic in such “divine” justice?  My “born-again” friend could only answer that “God’s ways are not always apparent to us.”

Drawing from more modern and more sensible revelation, Grimes concludes that “the evidence is overwhelming that neither God nor Jesus nor any other religious figure ever is our post-death judge.”  Instead, we judge ourselves and we gravitate to a vibrational level in the afterlife environment that best suits our spiritual development.  There is no cheating and going to a level higher than that for which we are prepared. 

Others have said much the same thing as Grimes says in this book, but clearly few have heard it and it bears repeating over and over again in the hope that it will eventually penetrate closed minds.  Moreover, Grimes has “special” authority, which she explains in the Appendix, and offers the material in a more convincing manner than other authors have. 

As Grimes sees it, the self-righteous certainty that so many Christians have about their own salvation and the damnation of others may be Christianity’s worst fruit.  Had she been with me at that Christian fellowship lunch, I am sure she would have been shaking her head in disgust.  However, Roberta is hopeful that fundamentalist Christians will eventually see the light.  “God’s Kingdom on earth still is possible,” she says. “But it requires that we leave religious dogmas behind as the spiritual crutch that they are so we can work together to elevate humankind toward God’s level of awareness.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  November 16

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Why Seeing The Dead Isn’t Always Believing

Posted on 19 October 2015, 11:05

In his recently released book, Vistas of Infinity, Jurgen Ziewe (below) gives details of his many out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and exploration of other realms of existence.  “I, personally, have spent many hundreds of hours in full walking awareness outside of my body on the flip-side of physical life and meticuloulsy recorded what I found in my diaries over a period of more than forty years,” Ziewe offers in the Introduction of the book, subtitled How to Enjoy Life When You Are Dead.


During one of his early OBEs, Ziewe visited his deceased mother.  “The only way I recognized my mother was by her aura and the feeling of her,” he writes. “Nothing of her outer appearance was anything that resembled the woman who had reared me and who I had known all my life.  It was as if she had undergone a total make-over, including cosmetic surgery, and redesigned every single detail of her appearance.  I was struggling to find any characteristic at all which reminded me of her externally.”  Accompanying his mother was his aunt, both women old, wrinkled and worn down when they departed this life but both appearing vivaciously young when Ziewe encountered them in another realm of existence. 

“I had met my mother not all that long ago and had grown accustomed to the fact that it was only too easy to change your looks in these post-Earth life dimensions and how difficult it must be to maintain the same appearance in a world which was so much determined by thoughts and the feelings of the people who lived there,” he says of a later visit with his mother.  Later in the book, he mentions that he did not have one meeting with his mother in which she looked the same as in the previous meeting. 

When I further discussed this with Ziewe by email, he added:  “I noticed people on the astral level manifest their states of minds and inner feelings in their appearance as well as their new assumed identity.”  He referred to a chapter in his book in which he describes meeting a horribly disfigured woman during an OBE.  As he was to find out, the woman was a prostitute who had died from a heroin overdoes.  She did not realize she had “died” until Ziewe informed her. In effect, the woman’s state of mind had manifested in her appearance.

“On the higher, positive levels, humans have an angelic beauty and are often mistaken for angels, but that doesn’t mean their appearance does not change with their intent or a shift of inner feelings,” Ziewe further explained.

In reading Ziewe’s explanation of this, I thought about the experience of Dr. C. J. Ducasse, a philosophy professor at Brown University for 32 years, as he reported it in his 1961 book, A Critical Examination Of The Belief in a Life After Death.  For some two hours, under very good red light, Ducasse observed 18 different materializations, all of them recognized by others in attendance.  In some cases, the materialized entities spoke with the sitters and caressed them.  Finally a materialized form came to Ducasse and spoke to him, but he did not recognize her.  When he asked her to identify herself, she replied that she was his mother. “She did not, however, speak, act, or in the least resemble my mother,” Ducasse wrote. “This was not a disappointment to me since I had gone there for purposes not of consolation but of observation.”  The friend who had taken Ducasse to the circle informed him that his mother had materialized on a number of occasions and that the form sometimes looked like her and sometimes it did not.

In his 1952 book, New Light on Survival, Roy Dixon-Smith, a British military officer, told of his deceased wife Betty materializing with two different mediums.  Because of the “ectoplasmic wrapping,” he could not confirm that it was Betty (below) on the first such materialization, although the voice, shape, and features all appeared to be hers. With the second medium, Minnie Harrison, he clearly recognized Betty and kissed her before he observed her form sink to the floor at his feet, where it dissolved with the last wisp of it drawn into the materialization cabinet.


Dr. John King, a Toronto physician who founded the Canadian Society for Psychical Research, reported on mind-boggling sittings with Joseph Jonson of Toledo, Ohio, during 1911, in his 1920 book, Dawn of the Awakened Mind. His deceased wife, May, (below) materialized on three different sittings with Jonson, but King noted that she appeared shorter than her normal height in the first sitting.  In the second and third sittings she appeared at her normal height, while her form, features, voice, and mannerisms were all that he had become familiar with over his 25-year marriage. She spoke of some very personal matters, things which King said were beyond any research by the medium.  Like Dixon-Smith, King observed his wife’s form dissolve and seemingly disappear into the floor in front of him.


In her 1892 book There is No Death, Florence Marryat, a popular writer of that era, tells of a sitting with a materialization medium in which an old family friend, John Powles, communicated but initially declined to materialize.  Peter, the medium’s spirit control, explained that “he doesn’t want to show himself because he’s not a bit like what he used to be.”  However, when Marryat persuaded him to show himself, she saw only a face that didn’t resemble her old friend in the slightest.  She wrote that it was “hard, stiff, and unlifelike.”  Powles then told her to sit with the medium again and he would try to do better the next time.  At the next sitting, Powles appeared as Marryat remembered him. “The face of John Powles appeared, very different from the time before, as he had his own features and complexion, but his hair and beard (which were auburn during life) appeared phosphoric, as though made of living fire,” Marryat wrote.

After dying in the Titanic disaster of 1912, William T. Stead, a renowned author and social activist, began communicating through several mediums. He explained that there were souls on his side who had the power of sensing people (mediums) who could be used for communication.  One such soul helped him find mediums and showed him how to make his presence known.  It was explained to him that he had to visualize himself among the people in the flesh and imagine that he was standing there in the flesh with a strong light thrown upon himself.  “Hold the visualization very deliberately and in detail, and keep it fixed upon my mind, that at that moment I was there and they were conscious of it,” Stead explained the process.

Stead added that the people at one sitting were able to see only his face because he had seen himself as only a face.  “I imagined the part they would recognize me by.”  It was in the same way he was able to get a message through.  He stood by the medium, concentrated his mind on a short sentence, and repeated it with much emphasis and deliberation until he could hear part of it spoken through the medium.

Communicating through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, Claude Kelway-Bamber, a British pilot killed in the Great War, told his mother that he had to concentrate and will his spirit body to stiffen and consolidate before attempting to communicate with her, and it was not until he had absolute mental command over himself in every detail could he even begin. “I had to learn how to locate in my mind the exact place or distance from my mind to where my toes would be,” he explained, “for I must set the mental picture to get exactly five toes on each foot.  I must then switch off and yet retain the idea while I think of what the top of my head looks like.  I do all this because as soon as I get in touch with these atmospheric forces I have to hold myself together strongly to resist them.  Now, if I am not in a hurry to reach my destination, I do not trouble to do anything further than to keep a clear picture of myself in the proportions in which I appear in my own sphere, and I project my thoughts all the time to the place to which I am going, but the first consideration is always my body.  If I were in a great hurry, directly I started, I should get the picture of myself very clear, and then I should quickly but gradually contract my body from within; only an advanced spirit can do this, not a newcomer.  I begin by drawing my whole consciousness within myself, and in so doing I draw upward and onward each part of my body, making myself very self-centered and brining my extremities nearer to my consciousness.  I have told you my body is made of atoms, but because they are minutely fine I can actually consolidate them into very small space; there is so much God-force holding them together.  When I get near my destination, I gradually and consciously expand my body to normal dimensions.  I only contract my body in this way for emergency traveling, and I know spirits who lave been here many years and who cannot do it; it is only intended for those who have serious and special work to do, in which case it is expedient.”

In effect, we have two different situations here – the OBEs reported by Ziewe in which the spirit’s state of advancement appears to govern the spirit’s appearance, and the mediumship experience in which the materializing spirit has to project a picture of himself as he recalls himself looking when in the flesh into the ectoplasm.  The latter apparently isn’t always that easy and takes some practice by the materializing spirit.

The two situations are not in conflict with each other, since the mediumship experience seems to confirm what Ziewe says about appearance – that is, it is not the same as when in the material life.  It is a matter of recalling the image and projecting it so that those present at the sitting will recognize the spirit as a former loved one or friend.  Dr. Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, reported speaking with a spirit and asking him to show himself, but the spirit replied that he could not show himself as he could not remember what he looked like when in the flesh.   

All that may be too much for the debunker or the person who assumes that celestial conditions must match the terrestrial to accept, but for the more open-minded person it helps turn nonsense into sense.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  November 8

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Psychology, the Near-Death Experience, and The Isolation Crisis

Posted on 05 October 2015, 8:43

As a boy growing up during the 1940s, I knew the names of everyone on my city block – at least eight houses in each direction from the house I lived in and on both sides of the street.  As I pedaled my bike up or down the street, the neighbors might be sitting on their porches or working in their gardens and I would greet them by name or they would greet me or wave to me. My mother could often be found on the sidewalk talking with a neighbor from across the street or down the street.  With a couple of exceptions, people on the block knew each other and talked with each other. 

In my present home, in which I have lived for nine years, I know the immediate neighbors on each side of my house, but that’s it.  I don’t even know what the neighbors two houses away from mine look like.  I recall a situation a few years ago when I was leaving my home in my car during a heavy rain.  A young girl from across the street was battling the wind and rain, her umbrella collapsing in wind as she headed for school two blocks away.  Fifty or 60 years ago, I would have felt comfortable in stopping and offering to drive the girl to school, but I dared not stop for her in this day and age as she most certainly had been taught by her parents not to accept rides from strangers, even those who live across the street.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

What changed?  Television, of course.  During the 1950s, when television became popular, people left their front porches and gardens, drew the blinds, and planted themselves in front of the TV set, seemingly never to go outside again unless leaving for work or to go shopping.  I thought about this a few days ago while reading Psychology and the Near-Death Experience, authored by Roy L. Hill, Psy.D.,  (below) and recently released by White Crow Books.  Part of the book discusses what Hill calls “The Isolation Crisis.”


According to Hill, a clinical psychologist, isolation has reached epidemic proportions in Western society, primarily the result of television but also due to other electronic communication.  “Living in the virtual world keeps people from feeling lonely while avoiding social risks,” he explains. “Thus, the over-use of electronic communication and entertainment may be viewed as a trouble-free defense against isolation.  Television has been designed for us to feel as though we are sharing in real friendships and exciting lives.  A laugh track, for instance, helps viewers feel like they are sharing humor with an audience.”

Dependence on television, Hill states, is the single most consistent predictor of civil disengagement – not poverty, morality, education, or intelligence.  With television, there is little time for anything else, except, of course, the Internet.  Hill notes that the typical American spends 2 1/2 hours a day surfing the Internet for personal use. 

This escape into electronic communication and entertainment results in a certain spiritual emptiness.  “From a spiritual perspective, many people in society are steadily abandoning their mission to love each other by doing for each other,” is the way Hill puts it, after citing various studies indicating a significant decline in clubs and organizations, church attendance, volunteer work, public meetings, and other social and civic activities.

While electronic communication involves more social interaction than television, Hill does not see the mundane communication usually associated with texting as a substitute for face-to-face interaction.  “Chatter only creates an illusion of interconnection,” he opines, adding that chronic text users usually feel emptiness as soon as they are done texting.  He sees texting as “a Band-Aid solution that temporarily staves off isolation in order to fill an unfillable void.”

Hill asks why so many people adopt movie stars and athletes as their heroes   As previously observed in this blog, movie actors are no more than “pretend” people and athletes are “pretend” warriors.  Yet, we treat these pretend people as if they are gods of some kind, while giving no special recognition to the people they pretend to be.  I still have a vivid recollection of seeing a number of military men lined up to get the autograph of a football player – in effect, the real warriors paying homage to the pretend warrior.  “From the existentialist position, people create fictional associations with celebrities as a defense against isolation and meaninglessness,” Hill explains it.

In reading Hill’s book, I was continually surprised by his boldness.  Rather than beat around the bush as so many professional men and women do in their efforts to straddle the fence and remain “scientific” when discussing the near-death experience (NDE), Hill keeps nothing secret about his beliefs – more convictions than beliefs – favoring God, an afterlife, and spiritual influences around us, based primarily on the lessons coming from the NDE.  He admits early on that scientifically minded readers will likely groan with discomfort at what he writes.  “To the science materialist, the near-death experience represents just another repackaged religion, although with a low bent,” he offers.  “The central problem is not spiritual superstition, as I see it, but the limited conceptual understanding of the human brain.  There appears to be a scientific hubris surrounding the human aptitude for discovery.  Not everything in the universe is observable or measurable by present day science.”

Hill examines the existential considerations surrounding the NDE, suggesting that NDE research has provided us with a purpose by informing us that this life is just part of a larger reality and not the meaningless march toward nothingness that materialists succumb to.  He examines the empirical support for the NDE, calling upon Dr. Jeffrey Long’s nine lines of evidence, including out-of-body experiences, meeting deceased relatives, life reviews, people blind since birth being able to see, profound life changes and other commonalities reported by NDErs.  While recognizing that the debunker will reject all nine lines of evidence, basing their arguments primarily on certain brain chemicals being released, Hill argues that no one has demonstrated a causal link between chemistry and the NDE.

Still, the “old guard” scientific community resists the evidence. “Adherents of the old paradigm cling to their professional work like a mother clings to her child,” is the way Hill sees the resistance, going on to say that “the field of psychology, pushing toward acceptance in the broader scientific community, has likewise remained silent on the concept of the soul.”  The field still adheres to the old nature and nurture determinants of human behavior, too often ignoring spirituality. 

There was, of course, one major exception, Hill notes, that being the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung.  As Hill interprets Jung, the greater awareness of consciousness creates greater awareness of the soul.  “Increased awareness, in turn, connects a person with the Source,” Hill explains. “From the NDE experience, this oneness means integration with God’s divine nature.” 

Citing a number of NDE cases and often quoting the experiencers, including Howard Storm, Dr. Eben Alexander, Anita Moorjani, Dr. George Ritchie and others, Hill goes on to make a case for the existence of the soul, the interconnection between Spirit and God, oneness of being, unconditional love, communication with spiritual beings, spirit influence on humans and after-death communication. 

As a prison psychologist, Hill is very familiar with the mindset of the psychopath.  He explains that while the average person experiences feelings of guilt and ideas for self-correction after doing something wrong, the psychopath revels in every moment.  “The psychopath is incapable of correcting thinking or behavior because he or she lacks concern, compassion, or remorse,” he states, adding that therapy and counseling generally have no effect on changing the psychopath.  He notes that tattoos of ghoulish creatures are common among psychopaths, an attempt to express symbolically the evil that burns inside. 

As I read Hill’s book, I could visualize his materialistic peers, those belonging to the nature or nurture school of psychology, reading his words with raised eyebrows.  However, I was able to read the book with a smile and a nod.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post: October 19      

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Defying Death in Retirement Homes

Posted on 20 September 2015, 20:20

Based on a television commercial, a certain retirement home in Hawaii is the place to be in your old age.  People who live there are content, happy, and having a lot of fun, fully enjoying their senior years.  When they are not strolling around the beautiful gardens or playing deck shuffleboard, they are probably at the nearby shopping center or playing a round of golf down the road. They’ll likely end the night with some fine dining. Yet, when I visited my in-laws at that same retirement home on a number of occasions several years ago, I found it a somewhat depressing place.  The residents looked like zombies, seemingly not knowing each other, and outside of taking meals in the dining room they were all holed up in their individual apartments. There, they kept to themselves as much as possible. I saw none of the gaiety or merriment depicted in the television commercial. 

It was much the same thing at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. when I visited an old friend there two years ago.  I had expected to see a lot of camaraderie – many old soldiers gathered around in a circle, sharing old war stories, laughing, reminiscing, slapping each other on the back, and otherwise having a ball.  However, I found it much like the Hawaii retirement home.  The residents who were not in their rooms napping or watching TV were just sitting around staring off into space, eyelids at half mast, mouths half open, drool sometimes hanging from their chins.  In the dining room, they, for the most part, sat at individual tables, seemingly not knowing each other.  My friend, now 99 and a World War II veteran who has resided there for some 20 years, usually sat alone in the dining hall and didn’t appear to know most of the other old warriors.  He knew the person in the room adjoining his just enough to nod to him whenever he saw him in the hallway, but he didn’t know much about him.     

More recently, I have observed much the same depressing environment at another Hawaii retirement home as my wife and I visited her aunt.  The building is new, the furnishings fine, the lounge comfortable, the lattes served by the lounge machine especially tasty, but on more than 20 visits to the home I have seen very little of the residents, except at meal time.  They all seem to stay in their small rooms, watching television or sleeping.  A few of them sit in the hallway staring at the walls or sleeping in a sitting position.  They head for the dining room in a parade of walkers three times a day, though they don’t eat much and don’t talk to each other at the table.  They just sit there, looking at the food, seemingly wondering if it is worth the effort to take another mouthful.  After 30 minutes or so, they slowly position themselves in front of their walkers, and shuffle back to their rooms.  The administrators appear to do their best to keep them occupied, encouraging them to engage in such activities as balloon volleyball, in which they sit on opposing couches and attempt to hit a balloon over a coffee table, or an exercise session in which they don’t do much more than windmill their arms, but only a small percentage of them participate.  Most prefer to confine themselves to their rooms. 

The sense I got at those retirement homes as well as others I have visited over the years is one of despair and hopelessness – people just waiting around to die, although not wanting to think about death.  On a couple of occasions I tried to engage some of them – the few who leave their rooms – in a conversation, hoping to get some clue as to what they are thinking about and what their thoughts are on death.  However, the mere mention of death resulted in a look of shock or dismay and I was unable to get any real philosophical musing from them.  The conversations had to be limited to the weather, the tasteless food in the dining room, or the reason their children don’t visit more often. 

As I observed the hopelessness and despair among the retirement home residents on a more recent trip to the “Old Soldier’s Home” in Washington, D.C., I thought about the interview with Julien Musolino, professor of psychology and cognitive science at Rutgers University, I had read recently on the Internet.  Musolino contends that there is no such thing as a soul and the quicker people realize that the happier they will be.  They’ll feel liberated and that liberation will lead to both truth and happiness.  That seems to be the view of so many of the philistines promoting nihilism on the Internet.  They say we should live in the moment, enjoy each day as it comes, and forget about the future.  Nearly all of them come across as young people rebelling against the God of their parents.  They are able to escape into various activities each day – texting, tweeting and phoning each other about their mundane activities, not taking the time to realize how meaningless those activities are in the great scheme of things.  I wonder if they will feel the same way when they end up in a retirement home, when living in the moment means staring at the walls and napping all day, with drool dripping, when it means graying, grunting, grumbling, grimacing, groaning, growling, griping, grieving, groveling, and groping, when the only thing you have to look forward to is the next meal, and when you make it to table you don’t even want to eat. 

Now in my 79th year, I qualify for retirement homes, but I can’t see myself living out my final years in such a depressing environment.  Philistinism – whether it be no belief at all in the survival of consciousness at death, such as that espoused by Musolino, or merely a hope that comes from the blind faith of orthodoxy – doesn’t work for me, and from what I have witnessed it doesn’t work for most others in their declining years.  The non-believers, like Musolino, can pretend to rejoice in their “heroic” march into an abyss of nothingness, but they’ll never convince me that it is anything but bravado.  As Kierkegaard saw it, such people are in despair even though they think they are happy.  “The reason is that his sensuous nature and the psycho-sensuous completely dominate him,” the famous existentialist offered. “The reason is that he lives in the sensuous categories agreeable/disagreeable, and says goodbye to truth, etc.; the reason is that he is too sensuous to have the courage to venture to be spirit or to endure it.” 

To quote William James, the pioneering psychologist and renowned philosopher:  “Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet. In the practical life of the individual, we know how his whole gloom or glee about any present fact depends on the remoter schemes and hopes of which it stands related.  Its significance and framing give it the chief part of its value.  Let it be known to lead nowhere, and however agreeable it may be in its immediacy, its glow and guilding vanish.  The old man, sick with an insidious internal disease, may laugh and quaff his wine at first as well as ever, but he knows his fate now, for the doctors have revealed it, and the knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all these functions.  They are partners of death and the worm is their brother, and they turn to a mere flatness.” 

The believers who rely on blind faith and the teachings of orthodoxy are really not much better off than the non-believers, as strumming harps and singing psalms 24/7 for eternity is hardly more appealing than extinction.  The orthodox believers repress the idea of death by escaping into the same twaddle to which the non-believer clings. They are philistines nonetheless.

I am convinced that one must move from blind faith to true faith, or conviction, if he or she is to live the retirement years with some purpose.  “Too many indeed hold the solemn verities concerning the hereafter in a sort of half consciousness, believing in them, yet nevertheless not fully realizing them,” wrote Dr. Madison Peters, a Christian author of a century ago.  “They must flame within us, setting our whole moral and intellectual nature on fire, sending a life current of energy though every part of our being, arousing us to impetuous action and to sustained effort born of strong conviction.”

Such conviction comes from giving up the 10 G’s for the 10 S’s: seeking, searching, studying, striving, struggling, sacrificing, serving, surrendering, solving and then soaring.

To quote Carl Jung, the renowned psychologist:  “Death is psychologically as important as birth, and like it, is an integral part of life. ...As a doctor, I make every effort to strengthen the belief in immortality, especially with older patients when such questions come threateningly close. For, seen in correct psychological perspective, death is not an end but a goal, and life’s inclination towards death begins as soon as the meridian is passed.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  October 5

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Remembering Raymond Lodge – 100 Years Later

Posted on 06 September 2015, 19:15

Since September 14th will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge (below) on the battlefield near Ypres, Belgium, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at parts of Raymond’s story, as told by his father, Sir Oliver Lodge, a world-renowned physicist and inventor, in his 1916 book, Raymond or Life and Death – a story, along with four others, abridged in my 2014 book, Dead Men Talking, the Kindle version of which is now being offered for a limited time at just $1.99 at


Soon after his death, Raymond began communicating with his parents through two different mediums, but primarily through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard.  While skeptics of his day and today claim that Sir Oliver Lodge (below) was easily duped by charlatans because of his grief over the death of Raymond, it is clear that Sir Oliver came to his conclusions about life after death and spirit communication well before Raymond’s death.  In the wake of Darwinism, Lodge had become a materialist, but his investigation of American medium Leonora Piper 25 years before Raymond’s death converted him to a belief in spirits.


Still, Lodge was aware that there were many charlatans and was careful in his sittings.  Although Mrs. Leonard would later become as tested and as famous as Mrs. Piper, she was for the most part unknown at the time. On September 28, 1915, just two weeks after Raymond’s death, Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge had a table-tilting sitting with Mrs. Leonard, who was primarily a trance voice medium.  As a test of identity, Sir Oliver asked Raymond for his nickname.  Raymond correctly responded by correctly spelling out “Pat” with the table.  Sir Oliver then asked him to name one of his five brothers.  The table spelled out N-O-R-M-A- before Sir Oliver interrupted and commented that Raymond was confused.  He told him to begin again.  The name N-O-E-L was then spelled out, which was one of Raymond’s brothers.  It was not until Sir Oliver later discussed this with his other sons that it began to make sense.  His sons explained to him that “Norman” was a kind of general nickname used by Raymond when they played hockey together.  He would shout: “Now then, Norman,” or other words of encouragement, to any of his five older brothers whom he wished to stimulate.  Sir Oliver saw this as evidence against telepathy, since neither he nor Lady Lodge knew of the name.  He also saw it as an indication that Raymond, who had discussed psychical research with him when he was alive, was attempting to provide veridical information by giving a name unknown to him and most certainly not known to Mrs. Leonard. 

Alec Lodge, one of Raymond’s older brothers, had an anonymous sitting with Mrs. Leonard and put his own test to Raymond, asking him about his favorite music. This was a trance voice sitting in which Feda, Mrs. Leonard’s spirit control, took over her body and spoke through her vocal cords.  Alec noted that after he asked the question, he heard Feda ask Raymond, “An orange lady?”  Still confused, Feda then told Alec that “he says something about an orange lady.”  Alec felt that this was very evidential as “My Orange Girl” was the last song Raymond bought when “alive.”  Raymond also mentioned “Irish Eyes,” another of his favorites. He further tried to get a third song through, but Feda could get only “M” and “A.”  Lionel thought it might be “Ma Honey,” but at a later sitting at Mariemont, the Lodge estate, Raymond was asked what was meant by the letters M and A, and he was then able to clearly give the name “Maggie Magee,” a song unknown to anyone in the family except Norah, his sister, who was not present when the name came through.  This was still another indication that mind reading, or telepathy, was not a factor in the communication. 

In still another test, Lionel Lodge, another brother, and Norah, his sister, drove from the Lodge home, near Birmingham, to London for a sitting with Mrs. Leonard. Knowing that his brother and sister were scheduled to meet with Mrs. Leonard at noon, Alec Lodge asked two other sisters, Honor and Rosalynde, to sit with him in the drawing room and focus on asking Raymond to get the word “Honolulu” through to Lionel and Norah during the sitting.  Lionel and Norah knew nothing of this request.

During the sitting, Raymond said something about Norah playing music. Norah replied that she could not.  Feda, using Mrs. Leonard’s body, then whispered to the invisible Raymond (attention directed away from Lionel and Norah), “She can’t do what?”  Upon getting a response from Raymond, Feda then said, “He wanted to know whether you could play Hulu – Honolulu.  Well, can’t you try to?  He is rolling with laughter.”

On another occasion, Sir Oliver asked Raymond if he knew about “Mr. Jackson.”  Feda struggled with understanding Raymond’s response, but she communicated: “Fine bird…put him on a pedestal.”  This was especially evidential as Sir Oliver was certain that Mrs. Leonard did not know that Mr. Jackson was the name of Lady Lodge’s pet peacock, nor that he had died a week earlier and was in the process of being stuffed and mounted on a wooden pedestal.

Still another evidential communication came when Raymond informed his mother that the memorial tablet which she had put up at St. George’s Church, Edgbaston, had his date of death as Wednesday, September 14, when in fact September 14 had been a Tuesday.  Raymond said it didn’t bother him, but that he thought he should call her attention to it anyway. 

Other evidential information came through convincing the Lodges that they were indeed communicating with their deceased son.  But there were also things communicated by Raymond that seemed absurd, such as when Raymond mentioned that cigars and whisky sodas could still be had on his side of the veil, although they weren’t enjoyed nearly as much and eventually not enjoyed at all.  That statement became the subject of much humor around smoking rooms in England and subjected Sir Oliver to much ridicule by his peers in the scientific community.  But Sir Oliver had already come to understand that so much of the afterlife is a thought world and that in the lower realms, spirits still live is something of a dream world, often not fully grasping that they have left the material world while still desiring earthly pleasures and partaking of them in their “dreams.”

Raymond, Bob, Claude, Thomas, and Rolf – the five WWI victims whose stories are told in Dead Men Talking, all reported that they had not found themselves in some humdrum heaven or in an abyss of nothingness but rather in a world that seemed very much like the material world they had just left.  There was initially some confusion as they awakened to their new reality, and there was a period of adjustment in which they were assisted by guides, sometimes relatives who had transitioned before them.  All were surprised at the nature of the afterlife condition, saying it was nothing like they had expected.  Probably the primary message from all was that the afterlife is made up of many realms, planes, or spheres, and that, upon physical death, we transition to the realm we have prepared ourselves for during the earth life.

“He says he thinks he was lucky when he passed on because he had so many to meet him,” Feda relayed Raymond’s words in the early sittings.  “That came, he knows now, through your (Sir Oliver) having been in with this thing for so long.  He wants to impress this on those that you will be writing for; that it makes it so much easier for them if they and their friends know about it beforehand.  It’s awful when they have passed over and won’t believe it for weeks – they just think they’re dreaming.  And they won’t realize things at all sometimes.  He doesn’t mind telling you now that, just at first, when he woke up, he felt a little depression. But it didn’t last long.  He cast his eyes round, and soon he didn’t mind.  But it was like finding yourself in a strange place, like a strange city, with people you hadn’t seen, or not seen for a long time.”

Sir Oliver Lodge concluded:  “I am as convinced of continued existence on the other side of death as I am of existence here.  It may be said, you cannot be as sure as you are of sensory experience.  I say I can. A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions; he has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ – the dynamical theory of heat, for instance, and of gases, the theories of electricity, of magnetism, of chemical affinity, of cohesion, aye, and his apprehension of the ether itself, lead him into regions where sight and hearing and touch are impotent as direct witnesses, where they are no longer efficient guides.

“I shall go further and say that I am reasonably convinced of the existence of grades of being, not only lower in the scale than man but higher also, grades of every order of magnitude from zero to infinity.  And I know by experience that among these beings are some who care for and help and guide humanity, not disdaining to enter even into what must seem petty details, if by so doing they can assist souls striving on their upward course.  And further it is my faith – however humbly it may be held – that among those lofty beings, highest of those who concern themselves directly with this earth of all the myriads of worlds in infinite space, is One on whom the right instinct of Christianity has always lavished heartfelt reverence and devotion.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  September 21

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An Interview with Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson

Posted on 24 August 2015, 8:29

It seems safe to say that there are very few people living today with more experience and knowledge in psychical research and parapsychology than Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, (below) an 83-year-old resident of Iceland, best remembered for coauthoring, with Dr. Karlis Osis, At the Hour of Death, a cross-cultural study, in India and the United States, of the experiences of dying patients, first published in 1977.  Among other books and papers, he is the author of Modern Miracles: The Story of Sathya Sai Baba  (1986), and The Departed Among the Living (2012).  His latest book, coauthored with Loftur Gissurarson, Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium is due for release during September by White Crow Books.


I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Haraldsson for The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (see for more information about the Academy and its upcoming conference, September 25-27, in Scottsdale, Arizona).  This is a slightly abridged copy of that interview.

After studying psychology at the University of Freiburg and the University of Munich, Haraldsson became a research fellow at the Rhine Institute in the University of Virginia, and then received his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg.  I put questions to him by email. 

Dr. Haraldsson, how did you become interested in psychical research/parapsychology?

“My first and primarily love was philosophy with a thirst to know more about the world around me – and not less – and to know what I was and the nature of that mysterious evasive ‘I.’  I felt I did not understand either.

“When I was around 15, I became like reborn to myself, and became aware of some inner reality that was also mysteriously external, and so immensely greater than anything I had experienced or been aware of before. It started suddenly in heavy rain during the middle of the day, near some banks of pebbles on the seashore that lit up as the sun suddenly shone and reflected on them. Then I had the experience of being filled with light that was immensely delightful and beyond words. After a while this faded away but a vivid trace of it remained with me forever after and would sometimes – especially in my youth – sweep over me again. After that there was never a doubt that there existed a superior/supernatural reality that was sometimes closer and sometimes further away from my normal self. Somehow the two were connected, but how?

“When I was old enough to enter university there was no question as to what to study, namely philosophy, which I had anyway been reading about for a long time, not only the traditional academic philosophers but also the unorthodox: the Danish Martinus, Tibetan texts, Brunton, Ouspensky and theosophical writings, to name some.

“I spent four years on academic philosophy; in Copenhagen, in Edinburgh and two years in Freiburg. By the end of that period I felt I knew how matters stand with philosophy and that it was time to start something new. What philosophy taught me were the limitations to what we can know. Yes, we were homo sapiens, but primarily homo ignorance.”

Did your philosophy education include psychical research?

“Until this time I had not been particularly interested in psychic phenomena though I had experienced my share of them.  In Freiburg I became aware of them as an interesting research area. Professor Hans Bender gave a course on parapsychology that was popular with students. He aroused my scientific interest.

“I returned to Iceland to work and earn money, mostly as a journalist. I edited one book about an Icelandic psychic who was also an influential politician, and got into correspondence with J. B. Rhine at Duke University. After some three years in Iceland I was off again, first to Berlin where the iron wall had just been built. Then I traveled for a year and a half through the Middle East and Asia and wrote my first book – exclusively travel/political/historical – With Rebels in Kurdistan.  That was the beginning of a long association with the Kurds which was a whole world apart from philosophy and the paranormal.

“Late 1963 I returned overland from South India, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, and then took the train from Istanbul to Freiburg. Now the intention was to study psychology. After a few years I obtained a Dipl. Psych. degree in psychology and later a Ph.D. with Hans Bender, whom I came to know personally. In the meantime I had on and off continued some correspondence with J. B. Rhine who invited me over to his Institute of Parapsychology after I had completed my Dipl. Psych. degree. Rhine´s institute was the Mecca of parapsychology at this time. With Rhine I stayed for a year and conducted my first two experiments both of which got published in due time.

“From then on I became more and more involved with research into the paranormal. There followed a year of internship in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia with Robert van de Castle, the dream researcher, and Prof. Ian Stevenson. With Stevenson I conducted my first studies of mediumship. From him I learned a lot. The medium was Hafsteinn Björnsson (1915-1977). Stevenson and Van de Castle became life-long friends and I wrote a tribute to both when they passed away.

“And I was lucky. As my time at the University of Virginia was coming to the end, Karlis Osis, director of research of the American Society for Psychical Research, invited me to join him on a major study of deathbed visions which he was planning. I gladly accepted. For comparative purposes this project was conducted in India as well as in the United States. It involved interviews with over 800 doctors and nurses; it was a highly memorable and interesting experience that had a lasting effect on me.

“Karlis Osis had a deep-seated interest in the question of survival. And what better way to study what may follow when we die – he argued – than to investigate the experiences people have just before they die? That is, when they find themselves on the threshold between life and death.”

Is there any one case you have been involved with that stands out in your mind as especially convincing?

“The case of the fire in Copenhagen in 1905, described by the medium Indridi Indridason (1883-1912) and the Danish communicator Emil Jensen, immediately comes to mind. At this time there was no telephone or radio communication across the wide Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and the rest of Europe. News arrived only by ship. This remarkable case reminds me of Swedenborg´s remote description of the fire in Stockholm when he was in Gothenburg. However, the Indridason/Jensen case is much better documented. Not only that. Over a century after it occurred I was able to trace Emil Jensen (1848-1898) by searching census records and archives in Copenhagen. Everything that Emil Jensen had said about his life in 1905, seven years after he had passed away, was proved correct. Jensen had lived in the Great King Street most of his life and there the fire had broken out, namely close to his home, as in the case of Swedenborg.”

What has been the highlight of your career?

“The study of deathbed visions with Karlis Osis was the first such highlight. After lots of interviews, fieldwork and analyses we wrote At the Hour of Death, which has since appeared in some 20 editions/translations. It was last published in 2012 by White Crow Books. It is still the most extensive study conducted of deathbed visions.

“Deathbed visions are rather common among the dying. Deceased loved ones, friends and relatives appear to some of the dying in their last hours. They express the purpose that they have come to take the patient away into the realm of the dying. And when that happens the dying are happy to go. They experience being received by their loved ones.

“Was it all hallucinatory? We gathered as best we could information about each patient´s medication, temperature, the nature of his/her disease, etc., in short all that might possibly produce hallucinations. The analyses of this great body of data did not support the hypothesis that the bulk of the deathbed visions was caused by hallucinatory factors. That being rejected we were left with the survival side of our model of what happens in deathbed visions.

“My surveys of psychic experiences and apparitions of the dead in Iceland (The Departed Among the Living) is another of my favorite projects. The great European Values Study had revealed that 25 percent of the population of Western Europe had personally ‘felt that they had really been in touch with someone who had died.’  In the USA this figure was 30 percent.  What had these people experienced? We sought answers by interviewing 450 persons who reported that they had experienced an encounter with someone who had died.

“Another highlight was my study of Sathya Sai Baba, whom I first learned about during the study of deathbed visions in India. Equally – perhaps more important – is my research of children’s´ claims of past-life memories that Stevenson encouraged me to conduct. On that I have written numerous papers and book chapters.

“Then – of course – very prominent for me are my studies of the mediumship of Indridi Indridason, about whom I have now written a book. Also my studies and experiments with the mental medium Hafsteinn Björnsson.

“All these major projects are summed up in my autobiography that still exists only in Icelandic. Many of these studies offer challenging evidence for survival of death and the existence of a supernatural reality that have to be considered seriously.”

What did you find most interesting about the mediumship of Indridason?
“Most remarkable were the frequent phenomena of direct voices. And sometimes there were two voices – a female soprano and male bass voice – singing together.  The direct voice phenomena are rare with mediums but were more common with Indridi Indridason than any other kind of phenomena, and were also observed outside his séances and in full daylight. There were also massive movements and levitations of objects and the medium, and frequent appearance of lights in various forms and colors, sometimes with a human form appearing in a pillar of light. All the classical forms of physical mediumship were there in a country where they had never been observed before.
“The group round Indridi Indridason – the Experimental Society – consisted mostly of academics who took all thinkable precautions to prevent the possibility of fraud, which Indridi gladly accepted, and still the phenomena continued.”

We don’t seem to have the same quality of mediumship today that we had in Indridi’s day.  Do you have any ideas as to why this is?
“Some psychic/spiritual phenomena appear epidemic. They have their primary period and purpose and after a while we may only find traces of them. But they may turn up again.”

Are you fully retired now or are you still doing research?

“Formally retired but as busy as ever, writing papers and books, and lecturing frequently in many countries as can be seen on my homepage: Retirement can be a very fruitful and productive time as one is then relieved of all teaching and administrative duties.”

What is the general worldview in Iceland?

“National surveys reveal widespread belief and experiences of the paranormal to about the same degree as in Italy and the U.S., but considerably higher than in the rest of Europe.  About 70 percent of the population believe in an afterlife, which is about the same percentage as in the U.S. and Ireland and considerably higher than in the rest of Europe. Some people go to church but to a much lower extent than in the United States. Funerals are particularly well attended.”

Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium by Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur Gissurarson is published by White Crow Books and will be available in September 2015

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books. 

Next Blog 7th September

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Just Wondering (about death)!

Posted on 11 August 2015, 6:50

While recently accompanying a granddaughter around the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, so much of which sets forth biological evolution as fact, I wondered if fundamentalist Christians – at least those fundamentalists rejecting Darwinism – were among the visitors and how they reacted to it all.  I wondered how there can be such absolute certainty when there is still that “missing link.”  I thought about the comment by Alfred Russel Wallace, (below) co-originator with Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, that the evidence for a spirit world is as good as the evidence for evolution and wondered if the evidence is still as good as it was back then, concluding that it was much greater in both areas. 


I further wondered about the quantum aspect; that is, if there is no such thing as “time,” then how do things “evolve”?  Of course, that question doesn’t help religion, either, since even Creationism involves time, if only seven days. As with reincarnation, I have come to the conclusion that biological evolution is much more complicated than we realize and for the most part beyond human comprehension, and so I don’t concern myself too much with our origins.

I concern myself more with where we are headed than from where we came and wonder why others are not so concerned.  I recalled that when Professor James Hyslop (below) was teaching philosophy and logic at Columbia University, a fellow professor sneered at his interest in psychical research.  When Hyslop published articles that strongly supported non-mechanistic theories, the fellow professor tried to have him fired.  In his defense, Hyslop, noting scientific efforts to find a species of useless fish to support Darwin’s theory, asked “why it is so noble and respectable to find whence man came, and so suspicious and dishonorable to ask and ascertain whither he goes?”  Pondering on that, I wondered why paleontologists are so much more respected than psychical researchers and parapsychologists.


As I further toured the Smithsonian and came upon the displays dealing with space exploration, I wondered why people are so interested in exploring “outer” space and so little interested in exploring “inner” space. I wondered about the benefits of space exploration if life is nothing but a march into an abyss of nothingness, as fundamentalist science would have us believe.  Who benefits and in what way?  Will our descendants find greater meaning in life if we find something out there?  What is the point of it all?  I wondered how Smithsonian officials would react if someone proposed they set aside a building devoted to discoveries in psychical research and parapsychology.  No doubt, they would scoff at the idea. 

The July 28 issue of the Washington Post carried an interview with Harvard geneticist Jack Szostak, who won a share of the 2009 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, about his attempts to create life in a test tube.  “What I hope this will show people is that there is a perfectly natural progression from chemistry to life and that the origin of life is not something magical,” Szostak was quoted, going on to say that a supernatural explanation is not needed.  I wondered about his definition of “supernatural” and further wondered how the world might be better off if he were to succeed in completely ruling out a supernatural explanation.  Would everyone be happier knowing that life is meaningless, nothing but a march into that abyss?  Is life just about making life better for future generations?  I wondered what happens when Utopia is achieved – when some future generation experiences only happiness.  Will it be all eat, drink, and be merry?  What will life be like without challenges and adversity?  To what end the progeny, to which generation full fruition?  Will that future generation go the way of Nero and Rome, and then will the pursuit of happiness start all over again?  Then again, I wondered if creating life in a test tube proves anything relative to the existence of the soul.  Might not a soul attach itself to that life in the same way it attaches itself to a fetus or a newborn? 

I visited a 99-year-old friend at the Old Soldier’s Home in Washington, D.C. and after seeing the pain and misery he seemed to be in I wondered why anyone would want to live to be that old.  As near as I could determine, when he wasn’t sleeping he was in pain, and so he preferred to spend most of his time sleeping.  I wondered if his fundamentalist religious beliefs helped him deal with it all.  He was not in condition to talk about it this visit, but when I visited him two years ago he talked about seeing his family in heaven at some far off date, though he did not seem anxious to join them, seemingly looking forward to making it to 100 and beyond.  Most of the other old soldiers I observed at the retirement home appeared depressed and despondent and I wondered what their beliefs are. 

Going south, we visited Universal Studios in Orlando.  As we toured the new Harry Potter theme parks, I wondered how so many people can get so excited about a fantasy world involving some elements of spirituality while taking no interest at all in a real spiritual world.  I wondered why fiction appeals to so many when there is enough non-fiction concerning a spiritual world to delve into.

On my 11-hour flight home to Hawaii on American Airlines, I sat in the coach section, the seats moved even closer to each other than on previous flights, and wondered why they don’t call it what it really is – “steerage,” and if that is what it feels like to be buried alive.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books. 

Next post:  August 24

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Was Mary Lincoln a Lunatic?

Posted on 13 July 2015, 7:28

“We the undersigned jurors in the case of Mary Lincoln (below) are satisfied that Mary Lincoln is insane and is a fit person to be in a state hospital for the insane – that her age is 56 – that the disease is of unknown duration – that the cause is unknown – that she is not subject to epilepsy – that she does not manifest homicidal or suicidal tendencies and that she is not a pauper.”


So declared the all-male jury in the 1875 trial of Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of American President Abraham Lincoln.  The legal action had been brought by Robert Lincoln, the only surviving son of the Lincolns, believed to be in part motivated by the fact that his mother often sat with mediums and claimed to have communicated with dead people, including her son, Willie, and possibly out of concern that his mother would be duped into giving away his future inheritance to unscrupulous mediums.  Supporting the allegations of insanity against his mother, Robert Lincoln had five doctors, none of whom had examined his mother, testify as to her demented state. 

In my blog of April 7, 2015 (Was President Lincoln a Believer or an Infidel), I mentioned that there is strong evidence that Lincoln sat with mediums, including Nettie Colburn, at the urging of his wife, Mary, and was accompanied in one or more of them by various members of his cabinet.  One of the earlier mediums with whom Lincoln sat was J. B. Conklin, a trance medium from Ohio.  Shortly after Lincoln was elected president, an article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in which he was attacked as a “Spiritualist.”  The only thing false about the article, Lincoln was quoted, “is that the half of it has not been told.  This article does not begin to tell the wonderful things I have witnessed.”

One of the readers of this blog kindly sent me a 1987 biography of Mrs. Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, by Jean H. Baker, a chapter of which details Mary Lincoln’s trial and confinement to the lunatic asylum.  Baker, a professor of history at Goucher College at the time she authored the book, while recognizing neurotic behavior in Mrs. Lincoln, for the most part defends her. “As a beneficiary of modern feminism and the developing field of women’s history, I came to believe that Mary Lincoln was a victim of bias,” she offers in the Preface of the 2008 edition of the book. 

According to Baker’s research, Mary Lincoln did not even know about the insanity charges until the morning of her trial.  She was escorted from her Chicago apartment by two of Robert’s friends to the Chicago courthouse, where she found that her own defense attorney was appointed by Robert.  During a three-hour trial, 17 witnesses, gathered by Robert Lincoln, testified as to her unsoundness of mind.  No defense was offered and she was then confined to the Bellevue Place sanatorium outside Chicago.  There, Dr. Robert Patterson, the head of the sanatorium, examined her and diagnosed a “hysterical bladder” and a nervous debility, both resulting from excessive grief on her brain force, dating back to the murder of her husband and more recently to the death of her son Tad. 

Baker noted that Patterson became aware of testimony that Mrs. Lincoln also suffered from the religious excitement of spiritualism, sometimes referred to as “theomania,” an affliction suffered by as many as 25 percent of the female patients.  As explained by the neurologist Dr. William Hammond, “the false sensuous impressions [conjured up by mediums] force too much blood to the brain and eventually predispose seance seekers to lunacy.”  Some years earlier, Patterson had written that “Spiritualists reject the inspired authority of scripture and regarding the human family as ignorant of their relations to God and their condition in eternity, teach that man by some mysterious unintelligible process may possibly strive at some definite truth.  This error so arouses the passions as to bring on the derangement.”   

As Baker saw it in 1987, a modern psychiatrist would have diagnosed Mary Lincoln with the personality disorder of narcissism. In order to counter the grief she had experienced from the deaths of three sons and her husband, Mary sought to find love and comfort by attracting new friends; however, her self-aggrandizement methods of embracing new friends backfired on her and turned people away, only adding to her grief and uncontrolled mourning.

As others abandoned or rejected her, Mary Lincoln turned more and more to spiritualism.  In addition, she went so far as to begin reading fiction, something a proper woman of the day did not do since it “distracted the female mind from its domestic tasks and encouraged its tendencies toward emotionality.”  So defiant of conventionality was she that she traveled to Europe without a male escort to protect her.  She even meddled in politics, something women weren’t supposed to do.

With the help of friends, especially one Myra Bradwell, who had a law degree but was not allowed to practice law because of her gender, and her husband, Judge James B. Bradwell, both spiritualists, Mary Lincoln was released from the asylum after just three months and three weeks of incarceration.  While Robert Lincoln fought the release, Dr. Patterson apparently wanted to avoid bad publicity and declared Mary Lincoln “competent” enough to be released.  She spent the next year living with her older sister in Springfield, Illinois.  After a year-long battle to recover her assets from Robert, she moved to southern France to live alone for several years, but health problems caused her to return to Springfield to live with her sister. She died of a stroke at age 64. 

Baker’s book makes one wonder how much of written history we can really trust.  Other historians have suggested that Mary Lincoln was the lunatic that her son made her out to be.  And while Baker portrays her as somewhat eccentric with many peculiarities – some of which would be seen as normal behavior today, especially for more liberated women – Baker’s Mary Lincoln emerges as a sane, intelligent, and strong-willed person, though one in constant despair with little to hope for after losing a husband and three sons – four sons, really, since Robert became “dead” to her.  Which historians can we believe?

It is easy to forget that those who lost loved ones in those days did not have all the coping methods that grieving people have today.  They couldn’t escape into a movie or television program, turn on soothing music, or communicate with sympathetic friends by phone or email.  They sat in dark rooms with little more than memories to placate the grieving mind.  While some men might have dealt with such grief by wandering down to the local saloon, women had no such option.  According to Baker, Mrs. Lincoln spent the first 40 days after her husband’s assassination in bed, and then after moving to Chicago, “spent her days contemplating the waves of Lake Michigan, tending to a correspondence made voluminous by sympathy notes, and walking in the park along the water’s edge.” 

It is also interesting to note how the many biographers of President Lincoln treat spiritualism.  Although I have read only a small percentage of them, I gather that most historians see it as a foolish cult involving nothing more than crystal-gazing charlatans, something a man of Lincoln’s stature would most certainly have nothing to do with.  In his popular 1995 book, Lincoln, David Herbert Donald, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, makes only one reference to the subject, stating that there may have been as many as eight seances in the White House following Willie Lincoln’s death and that the president attended only one and was not convinced.  Donald does not cite his source for this information. 
In a 1959 book, The Almost Chosen People:  A Study of the Religion of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. William J. Wolf, a professor of theology at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, makes absolutely no mention of spiritualism.  The few references to Mary Lincoln do not go beyond mentioning that she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in 1852.  If Wolf knew of the part spiritualism played in her life and the extent to which it may have influenced the president’s life, it would no doubt have tainted the book, the main theme of which was that President Lincoln was a God-fearing man.  Most Christians thought spiritualism was the work of the devil and that spiritualists didn’t fear God. 

Baker doesn’t seem to know what to make of spiritualism, seemingly understanding of Mrs. Lincoln’s beliefs at times but buying into the repulsive view of many at other times.  She definitely portrays William Mumler, a spirit photographer, as a fraud, claiming that he “superimposed” a photo of Lincoln on a photo of Mrs. Lincoln, (below) while referring to Mumler’s “sleazy studio.”  Of course, Wikipedia and other debunking sites will support her in such a view, but there was much testimony by credible people in Mumler’s favor – by people who closely observed the whole photographic developing process and were certain that Mumler could not have known about the spirit entities showing up in the photos or have obtained photos of them beforehand.


According to Mary Lincoln, she went to Mumler’s studio incognito, giving her name as Mrs. Tyndall.  Baker wonders how Mumler could not have known her true identity, but she may have overlooked the fact that this was during the late 1860s, before photojournalism, and it is likely that most people did not know what Mrs. Lincoln looked like, especially since the former belle of the ball in Lexington and Springfield hardly resembled her more trim, younger self, even if one could see through the bonnet and veil. 

So what can we believe?  Clearly, recorded history is subject to the preconceived notions or biases of the historian and we left to wonder what the truth of the matter really is.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Note:  As I will be traveling in coming weeks, I will not be able to respond to any questions or comments.  My next blog post will be on August 10.

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What the Advanced Spirits Told a Lawyer!

Posted on 02 July 2015, 18:14

“In conducting my experiments, I have always insisted that they should be done in my own home under such conditions only as I should provide,” Edward V. Randall wrote of his more than 700 sittings with Emily S. French, a direct-voice medium (see my blog of two weeks ago for more about Randall and French).
Randall, a prominent Buffalo, New York lawyer, said he heard from hundreds, if not thousands, of discarnates during the 20 years he studied French.  “Each voice has individuality,” Randall explained. “When a new spirit comes for the first time and takes on the condition of vocalization, there is often a similarity in tone quality, but this soon passes away, as they grow accustomed to speak, never change, and are easily recognized.”  Randall added that the strength of the voices varied greatly, one of them loud enough to fill a great auditorium, others almost whispers.  The voices were in different tones, expressed different ideas, different personalities, and sometimes spoke in foreign languages.
On one occasion, again in Randall’s own house, when a window shade was accidentally raised, there was enough light in the room for him to see the spirit being talking.  “I saw his form perfectly,” Randall recorded.  “Without a break in his discourse, he stepped to one side toward the corner where it was darker, continuing the discussion, simply saying, as the place where he stood became partially lighted, ‘We have promised the time should come when you should see us, but we scarcely expected it would be this morning.’  He stood there in full materialized form, else how could I have seen him?  He was a spirit, for Mrs. French and I were in the room alone, and no other man could have come in without opening the door and letting in the full light of day.  I not only saw him, but I heard his spirit-voice, as I have heard it many times since.  This is a fact: I saw, I heard, I know.”

On another occasion, one of Randall’s friends in spirit told him that his spirit friends wanted to give him a test of their reality and power.  This was in a room in his house with only Mrs. French and himself present.  After the communicating spirit instructed Mrs. French to stand and for Randall to hold both her hands, Randall witnessed flowers coming from every direction.  “I immediately opened the door and hurriedly called for others of my household to see the display,” Randall recorded.  “We found upon the table, chairs, and carpet, upwards of one hundred pure white sweet peas, fresh, with dew sparkling in the petals.  The stems had been twisted off.”

When Randall asked the communicating spirit how that was accomplished, he was told that it involved a physical law that mankind had yet to discover and that it involved spirit people taking the flowers from a garden where they grew in abundance, changed their vibratory conditions, as water is changed into steam, conveyed them into the room, altering the vibration back to the primary stage, thereby restoring the flowers to their original condition and color.

“At other times when alone with Mrs. French,” Randall continued, “I have been told to take both her hands and to hold them firmly, during which time spirit people have come in full physical form, stood beside me, and put their hands on my head.  Their hands are warm and firm, but the touch is strange because they are in a state of intense vibration; they do not tremble or shake, but they seem to pulsate with a rapidity that I have no words to describe.”

Randall heard from many apparently advanced spirits, naming them as Channing, Beecher, Talmage, Ingersoll, Hough, Dr. Hossack, Segoewatha, and others.  While Mrs. French, a widow living with her daughter, was a frail, meek, uneducated, and somewhat deaf woman, the words that came through her mediumship were sharp, vibrant, and eloquent.  “Lectures from such men, speaking in their own independent voices, materialized for the time, leaves no doubt as to what follows death,” Randall wrote.  “I have never heard such matchless oratory, such sermons, such thoughts expressed by the living as I have from the so-called dead.”

Over those 20 years of sitting with Mrs. French, Randall asked many questions of the spirits.  Here is a little more of what they had to tell Randall, as set forth in The French Revelation, Riley Heagerty’s anthology of Randall’s five books about his experiences.

God:  “A God whom limited intellect could comprehend would not be a God; the intellect would be the greater.”

Subconscious Mind: “The sub-conscious, or super-sensitive, mind, which so many people know not, although they possess it, is a fourth dimensional mind, or the mind of the astral body, contained within your three-dimensional physical body. ...The subconscious mind is always right.  From the subconscious mind comes the ‘still small voice,’ that thing which people know as the conscience.  The conscience is a definite manifestation of the subconscious mind, trying to dictate to the conscious mind that it is in some way or other in error.” 

Grief: “I will give you a description of the place in which I found myself when I awoke after what you call ‘death.’ It took me some time to realize the beauty of my surroundings, as my eyes were blinded by the sorrow which my going had caused on earth.  The grief of my people kept me so sad at first that I was not able to see or think of anything but earthly sorrow.  That is why grief for departed friends and relatives is so wrong, and is so harmful, both to those on earth and to those who come over. The longer the grief continues and the more hopeless it is, the more those mourned for are kept to earth. ...Fortunately, the grief of my people on earth was not of this desperately hopeless variety, and I was enabled in time to rise above it and get on with my work of helping others.”

Spirit World: “The realities of the spirit world are beyond description.  I might spend hours telling you of it and not reach your minds with any conception of its glory, its greatness, its grandeur.  It is so vast in extent, so marvellous, that any attempt to give you more than a faint idea would be futile.  Not until you get here and see for yourself can you have any conception of the home of the soul.  We have our mission – to try to get knowledge through to the shore line of your earth.  We are working our best to enlighten the world and prepare its people for the death change.”

The Spheres: “In the lower sphere one sees much suffering among those still earth-bound.  They, too, are busy working out past faults and they are often heavy-hearted.  Generally speaking, the first sphere is the one where restitution must be made, and where the final wrenching away from earth conditions takes place. The second is one of instruction, a period of study, during which the spirit gains knowledge of self and natural law.  The third is one of teaching those in the lower spheres, as I have said.  The fourth sphere is one of trial and temptation.  The fifth is truth, where error and falsehood are unknown.  In the sixth, all is harmony.  In the seventh, the spirits reach the plane of exaltation and become one with the great spirit that rules the universe. ...We are told that the spirits in the sphere of exaltation do not even there lose individuality.  They are embodied in all the beauty and good of the universe. ...It is difficult to understand or appreciate what this last sphere is, the development is so beyond our comprehension.”

Religious Beliefs:  “In the lowest of the spheres, that is, in the earth-bound spheres sectarian strife and religious movement are just as strenuous among the people as they were before these persons left the physical body.  That state of transition is but little removed from the physical, for, while the majority there knows they have left the body, others have such an imperfect appreciation of the change, or have led such immoral lives that they are not conscious of the fact. Here the dogmas of orthodoxy are dominant, and the old religious teachings are promulgated, and the priesthood still holds power.  One would think that an individual having passed through the portal called death and finding nothing as he had been taught, or as he had believed, would give up old notions and try to comprehend the economy of the natural law under which he continued to live; but, strange as it may seem, many even then cling to the old beliefs as if in fear, as if to doubt it were sacrilege, and in many ways excuse their failure to find what they expected.  They go into your churches and mingle with other people, a great invisible host, hear the same old teachings, say the same creeds and continue in the same mental attitude until some condition is brought about them that guides them into the avenue of knowledge, and as time goes on, one by one they break the shackles about their mentalities…”

Other Planets:  “Some of the planets are much higher in vibratory action than in your earth, and if you were to go to them, and could still retain the earth conditions surrounding you, as usual you could not see any life because your vibration would be so much lower.  The need of this condition is so apparent when once one grasps the immensity of the universe and the harmony of its laws.  If you were able to see all the conditions and people beyond you, life would be chaos and confusion – each sphere mixing with another – with no regulation or harmony anywhere.  As it is, each has its own place in the scheme of progression, and this visible wall of vibratory force is the safety guard to continued rational living.”

Living for Today:  “It is well that mortals should live the earth-life in accordance with the laws of nature, and not spend too much time in speculative thought as to the why and wherefore of his being; but good being the desire of all, of the necessary condition of all for achievement, a true knowledge of the future state of the spirit is necessary that errors of life may not occur, through your own unguided actions.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post: July 13

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The French Revelation:  Some Forgotten Treasures Resurrected

Posted on 15 June 2015, 10:17

N. Riley Heagerty, a 53-year-old resident of Buckeye, Arizona, (below) has sat with a number of physical mediums, both in Great Britain and in the U.S. and has witnessed an abundance of physical phenomena, including ectoplasm and materialized spirits.  However, he has not been impressed with what seemed like an almost “circus” atmosphere of physical phenomena with certain mediums.  He says that the physical phenomena were interesting in the beginning but eventually led to a deeper inquiry for communication from those he knew in the spirit world.


As Heagerty sees it, there is nothing even remotely close to the vast numbers of mediums and phenomena that were manifesting within what he refers to as the “century of wonders,” which he places as between 1848 and 1948. The mediumship of that era offered much more in the way of both evidence and wisdom coming from the spirits.  The reason for the decline in the quality of mediumship, Heagerty believes, has to do with the many distractions we have today.  Before radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, etc., people had much more quiet time in which to get in touch with their inner selves.  Just sitting in front of a fire place and staring into the flames, as so many people did before the distractions came along, could prompt an altered state of consciousness, one which could be developed over time and in which the person could experience other realities.  “All of this led to the required passive, calm state,” Heagerty explains.  “If the young mediums especially had sympathetic parents and were surrounded by understanding and love, then all the better.  The world seems to be in such a rush now that although there are certainly physical mediums, they are very rare.” 

A semi-retired professional musician, Heagerty became interested in mediumship in 1985, when a woman very close to him was struck down by leukemia. “Two weeks before her passing, her clairvoyance became evident in the highest regard and her messages involving spirits who were in the room with her, including her own son Bradley, who had passed some thirteen years before, were startling in the extreme and were the very reason I left the music business, to dedicate my life to research involving life after death and communication with spirits,” Heagerty explains his initial interest.  “I first decided to collect every available book I could on the subject, and this in turn naturally graduated into a more refined method of book hunting and collecting.  I have now more than 650 books in my library, many of them rare.”

One medium of yesteryear who especially impressed Heagerty was Emily S. French (1830-1912), (below) an independent voice medium who became the subject of five books authored by Edward C. Randall, a prominent Buffalo, New York trial lawyer and corporate executive. Heagerty has brought those books back to life in an anthology he calls The French Revelation, first published in 2000 and just recently republished by White Crow Books. 


Randall (below) had the first of more than 700 sittings over some 20 years with French in 1892.  After satisfying himself that Mrs. French was a genuine medium and that he was hearing from “spirit people,” including his mother and father, Randall began having Mrs. French sit in his (Randall’s) home in order to further rule out any kind of trickery.  Initially, the voices were just whispers, but gradually, as Mrs. French developed, they became loud voices, the loudest one being that of her primary control, an American Indian known as Red Jacket.  Randall pointed out that each voice had individuality and sometimes spoke in a foreign tongue.  “When new spirits come for the first time and take on the condition of vocalization, there is often a similarity in tone quality, but this soon passes away, as they grow accustomed to using their voices in this way,” he explained. “The voices of those accustomed to speak never change, and are easily recognized.  There is no similarity of thought or words.”  Randall further mentioned that the strength of the voices varied greatly, much as they do in earth life.


While many of the early messages were of the evidential type, Randall considered them a waste of time as he was more interested in the “new philosophy,” including information on the meaning of life, the nature of the afterlife, spiritual evolution, and other higher truths.  “We live,” Red Jacket communicated, “as real lives, more real – on this side than we did when on earth.  The laws that govern life are the same here as with you.  In fact, everything here is so real that many who come over here – die as you call it – do not know for a long time that they are dead.  A great part of the work to be done here is to instruct the dead in the true science of progress.  To the circles held by this medium we often bring dazed and earthbound spirits, so as to be able to reach their consciousness through earth surroundings.”

Randall went on to explain that much of the French circle’s activity involved missionary work, or “rescuing” earthbound spirits – those who did not realize they were dead and seemed to be bewildered.  “Some are in total darkness, some in half-light; all in all, it is at most a twilight zone between the spiritual and physical worlds,” he offered.  “Here old appetites, thoughts, and desires hold sway as before. In this zone a great mass of undeveloped people of the same general character, with a desire for spirituality no greater than when living in the physical body, remain. Their condition is much worse than in this world, for there is not the opportunity for reformation that there was before.”

Randall stated that other spirits would try to help these earthbound spirits, but were unsuccessful because of the difference in vibration rate.  Because the vibration rate of those living on earth is much closer to that of the earthbound souls, it was easier for the higher spirits to reach the lower ones by communicating through Mrs. French and having Randall talk with the earthbound souls and explain their condition to them.
During one sitting, Randall heard from an old business acquaintance who had died at the age of 70 some five years earlier.  While considered a good citizen, the man, referred to as Mr. W— by Randall, had the reputation of being a “pennypincher.”  Both Mrs. French and a visiting clairvoyant could see the man and describe his appearance, which fit Randall’s recollection of him. More evidential, however, was the man’s voice, which Randall clearly recognized.  Mr. W— told Randall that he was trapped in a wall of money and that it shuts out the light.

Randall asked a spirit known as Dr. Hossack about the nature of light.  “The light we have is obtained from the action of our minds on the atmosphere,” Dr. Hossack replied.  “We think light, and there is light.  That is why people who come over in evil conditions are in the dark; their minds are not competent to produce light enough for them to see. There is greater intensity of light as we go up through the spheres, which comes from the blending of the more spiritual minds. Our life is merely the condition of mind which each one has.  We create images in thought, and have the reality before us, just as tangible as your houses and buildings are to you.  You do not have any conception of the great power and force there is, or may be, in thought.  It dominates all conditions and makes us what we are.  One who realizes this may control his destiny.”

One evening, Randall and the others sitting with Mrs. French heard from a stranger who said he was a physician living in Philadelphia.  He was apparently brought in by other spirits who said that the doctor was having trouble separating from his physical body.  “When he finally became fully conscious, he told his name, the number of his residence, and much more about himself,” Randall recorded.  “The papers the next morning had a full account of his death early the evening before.”

Randall wrote that in addition to Red Jacket, he was lectured by Channing, Beecher, Tallmadge, Ingersoll, Hough, Segoyewatha, and hundreds of others.  “Lectures from such men, speaking in their own independent voices, materialized for the time, leave no doubt as to what follows death,” he stated.  “I have never heard such matchless oratory, such sermons, such thought expressed by the living as I have from the so-called dead.  They tell me that we are as much spirit to-day as we will ever be.  We are not all that we can become, but there will be no sudden acquisition. Death itself will add little to present knowledge, nor will it enlarge our opportunities to any marked degree.”

Dr. Isaac Funk, cofounder of the Funk & Wagnalls publishing firm, also studied Mrs. French, at first satisfying himself that there were no confederates, no ventriloquism, no hidden megaphones, or other forms of trickery.  He also noted that Mrs. French did not accept payment for her sittings and that she was deaf.
Funk arranged for Mrs. French to travel to New York City and be observed by him and some friends under strict test conditions. At one sitting, they heard a strange, loud laugh which seemed to emanate about six to eight feet from the medium.  Funk described it as a deep basso to almost a treble and noted that the location of the voice seemed to change to different parts of the room. Red Jacket explained that it was for their benefit in ruling out ventriloquism, the theory most advanced by skeptics.  Funk also had Mrs. French hold water in her mouth during some of the voices to further rule out that possibility.  He also asked her to laugh at the same time as they heard the strange laughs and noted there was no resemblance.

There is so much more to French’s mediumship as recorded by Randall and resurrected by Heagerty.  It will be further discussed in my next blog post in two weeks. 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  June 29   

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Debunking the Debunkers:  Living to Living Communication

Posted on 01 June 2015, 18:25

The annals of psychical research and books about mediumship contain a number of cases in which what was initially thought to be a “dead” person communicated through the medium, but it was later determined that the communicator was still alive.  “Fake!  Fraud!  Charlatan!” the pseudoskeptics were quick to charge in those cases.  Such cases are still cited by debunkers as proof of fraud.  However, these “know nothings” apparently do not consider the evidence suggesting that living humans are able to leave their bodies and telepathically communicate with other living humans.

In the mediumship of Poland’s Franek Kluski, as discussed in this blog of two weeks ago, Colonel Norbert Okolowicz reported the case of a phantom of a living person appearing to sitters at a Kluski séances.  One of them was the father of a sitter at the séance, who appeared to his daughter with a confused expression in his eyes.  The concerned daughter sent a telegram to the family in another town and determined that her father was alive, but was ill and unconscious with a high fever at the time she saw his phantom, ghost, double, spirit body, perispirit, or whatever name might be given to it.

Okolowicz also reported that Kluski received automatic writing messages from about 150 entities, using different handwriting and different styles of expression.  Six or seven of them were identified as being living persons not present but asleep at the time. According to Zofia Weaver, who translated Okolowicz’s book and added commentary to it, the communication usually took the form of a dialogues between a participant at the séance and the entity. Apparently, it was confirmed in some of the cases that the correspondent had “dreamt” the conversation.

Beatrice Gibbes, a researcher who dedicated much of her life to observing and assisting Geraldine Cummins, (below) a renowned Irish automatic writing medium, reported on a case involving Mrs. Napier Webb, an old friend of Cummins’ who was seriously injured in a hunting accident during March 1944.  Brain surgery was performed during May and it was considered doubtful that she would survive it.  On the evening of May 25, Gibbes and Cummins were supposed to go to tea and then a film in London, but Cummins had a sudden urge to write.  After Cummins was seated and went into a trance with pen in hand, Astor, her spirit control, communicated that a strange woman was close by but he didn’t know what she wanted.  Before Gibbes, who was seated at the table, could finish telling Astor to ask her who she was and what she wanted, the pen appeared to be seized and wrote “Tid Webb.”  Tid was the pet name of Mrs. Webb.


Tid Webb wrote:  “My dear Geraldine.  It is strange how my thoughts have gone out to you in this dreadful time.  I am in two worlds.  I am not dead but I may be soon.  I can’t talk to anyone.  I want to tell them things: how I was with B___ (her son killed in Hong Kong early in the war).  He took me into a world so brilliant I can’t describe it.  This is just a little visit to beg you, if you go over to Ireland, not to lose sight of my darling… (her young and only daughter).  The boys are all right but she is so young…The doctor has been here and I could see that he still thinks I have a little chance – that I may struggle back, and I want to so much, perhaps I shall.  If I don’t recover, promise me you will do as I ask.”

Gibbes replied to Webb, explaining that Cummins was in a trance but that she would inform of her of the request as soon as she was fully conscious.  Webb replied:  “Oh, Miss Gibbes.  Of course I see you now.  Thank you so much.  Now that queer cord is beginning to pull at me.” Gibbes asked her if she was in a coma at the time. “I saw my body lying there and I am still bound to it by a silvery cord – a bit frayed, you know,” Webb responded.
Astor took back control and told Gibbes that he did not think that the woman had passed over because he could see the cord of life still there. But he could tell that she was in and out of her body.  A mutual friend later wrote to Cummins and said that Mrs. Webb was still alive but that she appeared to be “half or more than half with the others, and only comes back with an effort when one comes in and speaks.”  She died about three months later.

Similarly, trance medium and clairvoyant Gladys Osborne Leonard reported seeing and communicating with her husband’s spirit body before he actually died.  With a nurse watching over her husband, who had been very ill for a number of days but seemed to be improving, Mrs. Leonard took a walk on the beach outside of their cottage.  She became aware of a vague, shadowy form walking next to her and talking to her.  “Don’t worry, little woman, don’t worry,” her husband told her. Thinking he might have died, Leonard raced home and found her husband in a deep sleep.  When he awoke he told her that he had been out on the seafront and was talking to people, although he did not remember talking to Gladys.  “This experience made me quite certain that my husband’s soul body was loosening its hold on the physical counterpart in spite of the recent improvement in his condition,” Leonard wrote, further mentioning that she had clairvoyantly witnessed the “double” of several other people before their actual deaths. 

Camille Flammarion, a renowned French astronomer and psychical researcher, cited the case of Dr. C. J. Romanes, an eminent English scientist.  Romanes reported that while he was awake in his bedroom, he saw a white form come into his room, grazing the head of his bed as it passed, and then come to a halt at the foot of the bed.  “Suddenly, lifting its hand, the form withdrew the veils which hid its face, and I was able to distinguish the features of my sister, who had been ill for some time in that very house,” Romanes reported. “I called to her, crying out her name, and I saw her vanish instantly.”

Although his sister was ill at the time, her doctor did not consider it serious.  Nevertheless, she died a few days later.  “We may suppose that the subconscious mind of the invalid had a perception of imminent death, as opposed to the conscious personality which did not suspect it,” Flammarion gave his theory. 

The great German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe reported that while he was walking with a friend one day, he was halted by an apparition of another friend, Frederick, who was believed to be in another city at the time.  When Goethe started speaking to Frederick, the person then walking with Goethe thought he had gone mad, as he saw nothing.  When Frederick vanished, Goethe wondered if his friend had died.  Upon arriving home, Goethe discovered that Frederick was there, having a little earlier arrived in Weimar from his town, and then having gone to sleep in an arm chair while waiting for Goethe to arrive home.  Frederic then related a dream he had had while sleeping in the arm chair. He encountered Goethe and described the scene and words used by Goethe when Goethe saw him.   

William T. Stead, (below) a British journalist and author, developed the ability to do automatic writing and asked Julia Ames, the spirit communicating with him, to explain how automatic writing worked. She told him that his mind was not “trammeled by the limitations of matter” and thus he was a good “instrument.”  She further informed him that he could also receive messages from his friends still alive in the earth realm in much the same way.  “All minds are in contact with each other throughout the whole universe,” Julia explained, “and you can always speak and address any person’s mind wherever that person may be, if you more or less know that person.”  She added that “your real self, what you would call your Ego, sits behind both your physical senses and your mind, using either as it pleases.”


Stead decided to experiment by asking a lady in Gloucestershire to sit at 10:30 a.m. and try to make something known to him in London.  They were to immediately post a letter to each other, she telling him what she was trying to communicate and he telling her what he received.  Upon receiving the woman’s letter, Stead was disappointed, noting that he had captured only one of seven distinct statements.  But a few days later, he received another letter from the woman stating, “This is more wonderful than anything.  You know that you have scarcely written anything that I willed you to write, but you have written nearly everything that kept bobbing into my mind without my will at all.  When I was saying to myself, ‘I want to tell you so and so,’ it kept coming into my mind, ‘tell him so and so,’ and I thought, ‘No, that is of no interest to him,’ or ‘that will only trouble him,’ and you have got all the things written down in London that kept coming as it were spontaneously into my mind at Gloucestershire at the time that I was willing to write another set of things.”
The spirit “control” for another medium told Stead that he had a “very loose soul.”  When Stead asked what that meant, it was explained to him that his soul is very loosely connected to his body and thus he was “able to allow other minds to be hitched on” to his hand.  Persons whose souls are closely knit, he was further informed, are not able to be used in that way. 

There are many other cases of such out-of-body travel and telepathic communication that could be cited.  The bottom line is that they in no way nullify the spirit hypothesis. 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog: June 15

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Kluski, Philip, Kardec, and the Scientific Conundrum

Posted on 18 May 2015, 15:23

In the annals of psychical research, Daniel Dunglas Home (1833 – 1886) is sometimes referred to as the greatest medium ever, at least the greatest medium producing physical phenomena.  He is to mediumship what Babe Ruth is to baseball, a legend whose feats stand above all others.  However, after reading Other Realities? The Enigma of Franek Kluski’s Mediumship by Zofia Weaver, I’m not sure I would rank Home over Franek Kluski (below) of Poland.


Kluski’s mediumship included full and partial materializations of both dead and living humans, animal materializations, levitations, apports, communicating raps, paraffin molds of hands and feet of the materialized entities, mystical lights around the room, and automatic writing.  I had read about Kluski before, primarily in Dr. Gustave Geley’s book, Clairvoyance and Materialization, but Geley focused more on the hand molds supposedly produced by “phantoms” dipping their hands into paraffin wax in his laboratory than on anything else. (See my blog of July 25, 2011)  Dr. Weaver’s book goes well beyond the material offered by Geley.  She draws primarily from a 1926 book, Reminiscences of Séances with the Medium Franek Kluski, written in Polish by Colonel Norbert Okolowicz, who was present at most of Kluski’s séances in Poland. Weaver has translated Okolowicz’s 586-page book, offering the highlights along with commentary.

Kluski was not a paid medium.  In fact, he was a somewhat reluctant one, believing his Catholic faith was in conflict with it.  He wanted no publicity, thus used Kluski as a pseudonym, his real name being Teofil Modrzejewski.  However, he consented to be tested for whatever scientific value it might offer.  Most of the experiments with him were behind locked doors.  He was searched before entering the room, and on one occasion agreed to sit naked, his hands and feet being controlled by those sitting next to him. Even though they were certain that Kluski had no way to smuggle his own paraffin wax into the room, Geley and Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, secretly added a bluish coloring agent to the paraffin to rule out the claim that Kluski was bringing his own molds into the room.  As it turned out, the molds were produced with the same bluish tint.

The strict controls applied by a number of distinguished scientists rule out fraud as much as reasonably possible, leaving three alternatives for the phenomena:  1) They were all produced by “spirits” of the dead, or discarnates; 2) They were all products of Kluski’s subconscious, while the sitters may have contributed to the manifestations with subconscious or conscious creations of their own in what is called a “group mind”;  3) They were a mixture or combination of the first two alternatives. 

Like many parapsychologists, Weaver seems reluctant to use words like “spirits,” “discarnates,” or anything else that might sound unscientific in her efforts to evaluate the Kluski phenomena in the final chapter of the book.  Thus, as she does her best to not impeach herself in the eyes of her peers by directly addressing the spirit hypothesis, she seems to opt for the second alternative before hinting at an “other worldly” explanation that exceeds the boggle threshold, thereby suggesting that she secretly accepts the third alternative. I suspect that many readers will scratch their heads in bewilderment as to how Weaver views the phenomena, but some will realize that such is the dilemma of the professional who dares wade into spiritual waters.   

Weaver mentions the case of “Philip the imaginary ghost,” which was supposedly created by a group of Canadian researchers during the 1970s.  Many parapsychologists have concluded from this and other similar experiments that spirits of the dead, discarnates, whatever name be given them, are not involved.  The phenomena, they believe, are all manifestations of the minds of the living humans present.  Allan Kardec’s explanation more than a hundred years before Philip was “created” is not even considered.

Kardec, a pioneering French psychical researcher, discussed the Philip-type situation in his 1874 book, The Book of Mediums.  He explained that mischievous (i.e., earthbound)  spirits are responsible.  “These light spirits multiply around us and seize every occasion to mingle in the communication,” he wrote. “Truth is the least of their care; this is why they take a roguish pleasure in mystifying those who are weak, and who sometimes presume to believe their word.  Persons who take pleasure in such communication naturally give access to light and deceiving spirits.” 

Kardec asked a seemingly advanced spirit if animals can communicate.  The spirit responded that they can’t.  Kardec pointed out that there had been some purported communication from animals.  The spirit replied:

“Invoke a stone and it will answer you.  There is always a crowd of spirits ready to speak for anything.” 

Kardec further explained his understanding of the matter: “Just the same if you invoke a myth, or an allegorical personage, it will answer; that is, it will be answered for, and the spirit who would present himself would take its character and appearance. One day, a person took a fancy to invoke Tartufe, and Tartufe came immediately; still more, he talked of Orgon, of Elmire, of Damis, and of Valire, of whom he gave news; as to himself, he counterfeited the hypocrite with as much art as if Tartufe had been a real personage. Afterward, he said he was the spirit of an actor who had played that character.”

Kardec continued:  “Trifling spirits always profit by the inexperience of interrogators, but they take good care never to address those who they know are enlightened enough to discover their imposturer, and who would give no credit to their stories. It is the same among men.”

Another interesting communication came through the hand of medium Elsa Barker from Judge David Patterson Hatch, as set forth in Letters from a Living Dead Man:  “The ‘deceitful spirits,’ of which the frequenters of séance rooms so often make complaint, are these astral actors, who may even come to take a certain pride in the cleverness of their art,” Hatch communicated after explaining that there are many “actors” in the lower realms. “Be not too sure that the spirit who claims to be your deceased grandfather is that estimable old man himself.  He may be merely an actor playing a part, for his own entertainment and yours.” 

But if a parapsychologist were to give any recognition to Kardec’s explanation and that of Judge Hatch, he or she would invite scoffs and sneers from peers, as it would be most unscientific.  To put it all on the “group mind” sounds so much more scientific, although the scientific fundamentalist would laugh at that as well.  Is it any wonder that psychical research and parapsychology have made no progress relative to the survival hypothesis during the last hundred years?  If spirit life is not even considered as an alternative, the parapsychologist is left with a never-ending conundrum.

All that is not to suggest that the subconscious does not play a part in the phenomena.  It seems clear that the subconscious of the medium can color or totally distort some spirit communication and that even the minds of the sitters can telepathically affect the phenomena.  The problem is that because the parapsychologist is unwilling to consider spirit life or afraid that doing so will damage his or her reputation, the third alternative above is rarely addressed.

In earlier chapters in the book, Weaver mentions phenomena which seem to clearly point to spirits of the dead materializing and communicating, including Okolowicz having reported that 84 persons confirmed recognition of 88 phantoms of deceased persons known to them.  Also, about 25 percent of the messages coming through Kluski’s automatic writing were recognized as the handwriting of deceased persons known to the sitter but not to Kluski.  Moreover, there were evidential messages that gave information apparently outside the knowledge of the sitter or Kluski.  But Weaver does not deal with these in the concluding chapter, focusing more on the “group mind” idea, the one that appeals more to the “intelligent” mind.   

The questions I have yet to see addressed by any parapsychologist have to do with the possible motivation of the subconscious “other personality” – that part of the subconscious pretending to be a deceased human being. 

How is it that so many alter egos want to play this game of leading people to believe they are deceased loved ones and friends?  And how do all these alter egos conspire in this worldwide and never-ending deception? 

Because the researcher is faced with such a stigma in discussing the spirit hypothesis, it does not seem likely that science will provide any definite answers to such phenomena as that produced through Kluski.  As Judge Hatch suggested through Elsa Barker, the individual must decide for him - or herself based on “an instinct in the human heart which will never deceive us, if we without fear or bias will yield ourselves to its decision.”

Other Realities? The Enigma of Franek Kluski’s Mediumship by Zofia Weaver is published by White Crow Books and is available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  June 1

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Remembering the Lusitania and the Hugh Lane Messages

Posted on 04 May 2015, 9:41

Since May 7 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania off the coast of Ireland (below) by a German submarine during WWI, I thought it a good time to recall some spirit communication involving that tragic event, which involved 1,198 fatalities. 


On the evening of May 7, 1915, Hester (Dowden) Travers Smith, (1868-1949), a prominent Dublin, Ireland medium and wife of a respected physician, was sitting at the ouija board with Lennox Robinson, (below) a world-renowned Irish playwright.  Both were blindfolded as the Rev. Savell Hicks sat between them and copied the letters indicated by the board’s “traveler.”  “Pray for Hugh Lane,” was the first message received.  Following the prayer request, the traveler spelled out: “I am Hugh Lane, all is dark.”  At that point, however, Travers Smith and Robinson were still blindfolded and had no idea as to the message.  In fact, they were conversing on other matters as their hands moved rapidly.  After several minutes, Hicks told Travers Smith and Robinson that it was Sir Hugh Lane coming through and that he had communicated that he was aboard the Lusitania and had drowned.


On her way home that evening, Travers Smith (below) had heard about the sinking of the passenger ship by a German torpedo, but she had not yet read the details, nor did she or the others know that Sir Hugh Lane was a passenger on the ship sailing from New York to England.  She said that she knew Lane and had heard that he had gone to New York, but it never occurred to her when she heard of the sinking that he was on board or that he was returning from New York so soon. 


Although distressed by the message, they continued the sitting.  Lane told them that there was panic, the life boats were lowered, and the women went first. He went on to say that he was the last to get in an overcrowded life boat, fell over, and lost all memory until he “saw a light” at their sitting.  To establish his identity, Lane gave Travers Smith an evidential message about the last time they had met and talked, although when Travers Smith asked him for his cabin number on the ship as proof that it was Lane communicating, the number given to her was later discovered to be incorrect.  She reasoned, however, that he was in a confused state and that it is not unusual for people to forget their cabin numbers.

“I did not suffer.  I was drowned and felt nothing,” Lane (below) further communicated that night.  He also gave intimate messages for friends of his in Dublin.  Thirty-nine at the time of his death, Lane was an art connoisseur and director of the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.  He was transporting lead containers with paintings of Monet, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian, which were insured for $4 million and were to be displayed at the National Gallery. 


Lane continued to communicate at subsequent sittings, often intruding on other spirit communicators.  As plans were underway to erect a memorial gallery to him, he begged that Travers Smith let those behind the movement know that he did not want such a memorial.  However, he was more concerned that a codicil to his will be honored.  He had left his private collection of art to the National Gallery in London, but the codicil stated that they should go to the National Gallery in Dublin.  Because he had not signed the codicil, the London gallery was reluctant to give them up.  “Those pictures must be secured for Dublin,” Lane communicated on January 22, 1918, going on to say that he could not rest until they were. (It has been determined that the paintings have gone back and forth between London and Dublin every six years.)

Sir William Barrett, professor of physics at the Royal College in Dublin, had the opportunity to observe and test the ouija board sittings at the home of Travers Smith. In his 1917 book, On The Threshold of the Unseen, Barrett confirmed the procedure as indicated above, including the fact that the two sitters were blindfolded.  He reported that at times the traveler moved so rapidly that it was necessary to record the messages in shorthand.  Although Barrett had no doubt as to the honesty and integrity of Travers Smith and Robinson, he designed special eye patches for them to wear so that there could be no question as to them seeing where the traveler was pointing. On one occasion he turned the board around to see if the results would be the same.  They were.  On another occasion, to satisfy a skeptical observer, who theorized that the blindfolded operators had memorized the position of the letters on the board, the letters were rearranged and a screen was put between the two operators who remained blindfolded.  Still, coherent messages came.

When Barrett asked the controlling spirit if any friend of his could send a message, he heard from a deceased friend, who sent a message to the Dublin Grand Lodge of Freemasons, of which he (the friend) had been a high ranking member.  Barrett was reasonably certain that neither of the board operators was aware of the friend’s Masonic affiliation.

On another occasion, Barrett sat at the board, securely blindfolded.  He reported that he was startled by the “extraordinary vigor, decision, and swiftness with which the indicator moved.”  The only message that came through was one that said Barrett was not suited for receiving.  In other words, he did not have the mediumistic psychic power necessary to adequately receive messages.

Before one sitting, Travers Smith and Barrett discussed how evidential the messages from Lane were to them, although they could understand why the public doubted.  After the sitting started, a man who said he had died in Sheffield communicated first.  Then, Travers Smith recalled, Robinson’s arm was seized and driven about so forcibly that the traveler fell off the table more than once.  It was Lane, who was upset because of the doubts expressed relative to his communication. 

W. B. Yeats, the famous poet, also reported contact with Lane, his close friend, through a medium in London.  He said that the medium told him that a drowned man followed him into the room and then went on to describe a scene at the bottom of the sea.

In the Appendix of his 1916 classic, Raymond or Life and Death, Sir Oliver Lodge tells of a friend bringing one of the Lusitania survivors for a visit to his home. Lodge was fascinated with the woman’s account of the ordeal.  “I found her a charming person, and she entered into the matter with surprising fullness, considering that she was a complete stranger,” the distinguished British physicist and educator wrote.

The woman recalled being sucked down by the ship, then coming to the surface with the feeling of blank surprise at the disappearance of the huge vessel. Lodge found her account so interesting that he later wrote to her and asked her if she would write down in as much detail as possible her recollection of the event so that he could include it in the book. The woman complied, but asked that her name not be disclosed.

“I have always remembered the sympathy with which you listened to me that morning at Egdbaston, and sometimes wondered at the amount I said,” the survivor responded to Lodge, “as it is not easy to give expression to feelings and speculations which are only roused in critical moments in one’s life.  What you ask me to do is not easy, as I am only one of those who are puzzling and groping in the dark – while you have found so much light for yourself and have imparted it to others.”

The woman recalled having a premonition of the tragedy.  “It was not a very actual knowledge, but I was conscious of a distinct forewarning, and the very calmness and peace of the voyage seemed, in a way, a state of waiting for some great event.  Therefore, when the ship was rent by the explosion, I felt no particular shock, because of that curious inner expectancy.”

She put down her book and went to the other side of the ship where many passengers were gathering around the life boats with no panic whatsoever. The ship was listing heavily and it was already difficult to stand.  She returned to her cabin, where a steward helped her put on a life-jacket and advised her to discard her fur coat. “I felt no hurry or anxiety, and returned on deck, where I stood with some difficulty.” 

The woman remembered talking to an elderly man about their chances of survival. “It was then I think we realized what a strong instinct there was in some of us – not to struggle madly for life – but to wait for something to come to us, whether it be life or death; and not to lose our personality and become like one of the struggling shouting creatures who were by then swarming up from the lower decks and made one’s heart ache.”  She wondered if the “grim calmness” was part of some “desire to die” instinct.

“I never felt for a moment that my time to cross over had come – not until I found myself in the water – floating farther and farther away from the scene of wreckage and misery – in a sea as calm and vast as the sky overhead.”  Behind her, she heard the cries of others, the splashing of oars, and the calls of those doing rescue work from the lifeboats. “There seemed to be no possibility of rescue for me, so I reasoned with myself and said, ‘The time has come – you must believe it – the time to cross over’ – but inwardly and persistently something continued to say, ‘No, not now.’”

Continuing to drift away from the pandemonium, the woman observed gulls flying overhead and took note of the blue shadows the sea threw up from their white feathers. She began to feel lonely as her thoughts turned to her loved ones who were awaiting her arrival.  “The idea of their grief was unbearable, and I had to cry a little.”  She recalled the names of books rushing through her brain, especially one titled “Where no Fear is” as representing her feelings at the time.  “Loneliness, yes, and sorrow on account of the grief of others – but no fear.  It seemed very normal – very right – a natural development of some kind about to take place.  How can it be otherwise, when it is natural?  I rather wished I knew some one on the other side, and wondered if there are friendly strangers there who come to the rescue.”

The woman recalled feeling “near the borderline” when a lifeboat came up behind her and two men bent down to lift her in.  “It was extraordinary how quickly life came rushing back; everyone in the boat seemed very self-possessed, although there was one man dead and another losing his reason.  One woman expressed a hope for a cup to tea.”

A minesweeper from Queenstown soon picked them up.  “I am glad to have been near the border,” the woman concluded her remarks to Sir Oliver, “to have had the feeling of how very near it is always – only there are so many little things always going on to absorb one here.

“Others on that day were passing through a Gate which was not open for me – but I do not expect they were afraid when the time came – they too probably felt that whatever they were to find would be beautiful – only a fulfillment of some kind…I have reason to think that the passing from here is very painless – at least where there is no illness.  We seemed to be passing through a stage on the road to Life.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog:  May 18

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Deathbed Phenomena in Hospice Care

Posted on 20 April 2015, 9:04

After reading Ineke Koedam’s recently-released book, In the Light of Death, I am rethinking my somewhat negative ideas about hospices.  As indicated by a couple of prior posts, the last one being on January 25, 2011 (Do hospices promote despair?), I had come to the conclusion, admittedly based on very limited sampling, that hospices discourage any discussion of spiritual matters, especially the whole idea of life after death.  While attending a weekend of hospice training, I was informed that spiritual matters were not to be discussed with residents unless they brought it up and then it was something that should be referred to the hospice chaplain.  Prior to that training, I had attended a lecture in another state by an experienced hospice worker in which she talked all about the need for hospice residents to “live in the present.”  The speaker had absolutely nothing to say about the possibility that consciousness will survive death and that the dying person’s doom and gloom might be better dealt with by discussing such survival.


Perhaps hospice policies vary from one country to another, or possibly from state to state or individually within that country or state.  Koedam (below) served on the staff and as a volunteer at hospice De Vier Vogels in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and at other hospices in that country.  In the book’s Introduction, she states that she attended a symposium dealing with near-death experiences in 2009, the key speakers being Doctors Pim van Lommel and Peter Fenwick, two world-renowned authorities in the field.  That prompted her to carry out a small-scale study into deathbed phenomena in the Netherlands between 2009 and 2011, one in which she interviewed a number of hospice caregivers. She forewarns the reader that her book does not offer scientific statistics, “but real experiences and observations of hospice staff who work on the boundary between life and death.”


It is not uncommon, Koedam states, for dying people, in the days or weeks before death, to talk about visits from deceased loved ones.  “They say that these individuals have come to collect them, or to help them to let go of life,” she explains, pointing out that many people are reluctant to talk about such experiences because they are afraid of being seen as confused and then required to take medication they don’t want.  Also, some of the hospice staff avoid talking about them as they do not want to appear unprofessional. Relatives often shy away from discussing such things for fear of ridicule.

“Those people who are nearing the end find it easy to transit to and from other realities and describe other worlds,” she continues.  “They talk about going on a journey, suddenly stare at a particular point in the room or turn toward the window and express feelings of surprise, joy, or wonder.”

Koedam says that the difference between a genuine “end-of-life experience” (ELE) and a drug-induced hallucination is fairly obvious.  The latter are irritating and annoying and often involve very weird visions, such as insects crawling on the wall or devils dancing, but the true ELE occur mostly when the person is fully aware. They are comforting experiences that seem to help them let go of the physical world. 

One caregiver explained that the dying are often somewhere else for a short while and then they come back.  “You can see it in their eyes.  Sort of looking, but not seeing.  They look through you.”  She further described it as a peaceful, serene, and beautiful atmosphere.  A music therapist named Hilly told Koedam that while playing the harp for people about to transition she could clearly see them going in and out of their bodies.

A hospice volunteer told Koedam about a dying woman who told her that her body wanted to die but it couldn’t because her spirit was not yet ready.  At other times, her spirit was ready but her body wasn’t.  The woman explained that when her body and spirit arrived at the threshold together, then she would depart. 

According to Koedam, many hospice caregivers continue to feel a presence in the room after the person has physically died.  The dying “process,” she says, can take a few moments or several days.  While the atmosphere is often one of love, peace, and calm, they are not always pleasant.  Some caregivers are more sensitive to these “energies” than others. “Some people leave very quickly, others linger,” one caregiver reported.  The usual policy at one hospice is to wait for one day before calling the funeral director to collect the body.

Some people really want to talk about death and ask the caregiver for her or his thoughts as to what to believe.  “Sharing your thoughts can be very comforting and can help them to get in touch with their own beliefs,” Koedam concludes. “Sharing your own faith is not the same as evangelism.  Evangelism is imposing one’s own beliefs on someone else, but sharing your own beliefs is being open about what you believe in, while at the same time being prepared to listen to the other’s point of view.”

The bottom line is that, properly understood, deathbed phenomena can offer comfort to the dying person and help him or her prepare for “transition” while also providing some peace of mind for the relatives and friends of the dying person.   

After reading the chapter dealing with the “lingering presence” after physical death,  I took time out to check my mail and found a new comment at an old blog I wrote about “soul mist” (see blog of June 11, 2012).  A reader found it strange that this mysterious vapor or mist sometimes witnessed by people at deathbeds as the person dies is not witnessed more often.  I wondered if the answer to that question might be that it is more obvious with people who leave their bodies immediately and less obvious with people who linger around their bodies, the “soul mist” just slowly oozing out and therefore less dense and less transparent. As Koedam puts it, that “something” dissipates or slowly lets go. 

Other metaphysical references on this subject suggest that few souls make an immediate departure, most lingering for a time.  The reader might take note of the many comments left at the June 11, 2012 blog and an earlier blog on October 4, 2010 by people who claim to have observed such soul mist.

In the light of death: Experiences on the Threshold Between Life and Death is published by White Crow Books and is available on Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  May 4



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Was President Lincoln a Believer or an Infidel?

Posted on 07 April 2015, 11:55

As April 15 will mark the 150th anniversary of the physical death of President Abraham Lincoln, (below) it seems like an appropriate time to examine the religious beliefs of our 16th president. Historians have not been able to agree as to those beliefs. He has been characterized as everything from a God-fearing Christian to an atheistic humanist.  It seems clear that he did not often attend church services and took issue with some of the dogma, doctrine, and methods of orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, he somehow emerges as one of our most spiritual presidents.


Lincoln was seen by many who knew him as a somber man with a gloomy disposition.  In her book, The Psychic Life of Abraham Lincoln, Susan Martinez states that there was some speculation that Lincoln inherited his mother’s sadness and sensitivity, and his father’s moods, “strange spells,” and fits of solitude.  Martinez examines Lincoln’s “peculiar melancholy” and the events in his life that shaped it, including his mother’s death when he was just nine, a strict and distant father, the death of a sister at age 10, and the death of his beloved Ann Rutledge when he was 26.  Then, in 1850, his son Eddie, a month shy of his fourth birthday, died of diphtheria, and, 12 years later, son Willie succumbed to a typhoid-like diseases at age 11.  Lincoln struggled to reconcile all of his hardships with a just and loving God.

According to Martinez, John Todd Stuart, Lincoln’s first law partner, called Lincoln an “avowed and open infidel” who went “further against Christian beliefs” than any man he had ever known. William Herndon, his junior law partner and friend, also referred to him as an “infidel.”  It is said that the only book authored by Lincoln, referred to as “the little book,” apparently unpublished, questioned the infallibility of the Bible and rejected fire-and-brimstone Calvinism, while defending the idea of universal salvation.  He rejected a God of wrath and punishment in favor of one of justice and loving kindness.  Although his parents were Baptists, he said he preferred the Quaker beliefs of his paternal grandmother.  His “little book” was burnt upon the advice of his political advisors; however, Lincoln continued to scoff at Christian clerics who pretended to be God-fearing, while not caring whether slavery was banished.  Carl Sandburg quoted Lincoln as saying they “have not read their Bible aright.” 

Martinez points out that more than 6,000 books have been written about Lincoln and that it has been said that “there are no important new facts to disclose.”  She takes issue with that comment as the stories about Lincoln’s association with several credible mediums, especially one Nettie Colburn Maynard, (below) while not new, have been pretty much ignored, forgotten, or denied.  Most of Lincoln’s biographers have deemed it below the dignity of such a great man, concluding that it never happened or that it should be swept under the rug.  A number of web sites suggest that Colburn was a charlatan.


There is, however, evidence indicating that Lincoln sat with a number of mediums.  It has been suggested that his wife Mary insisted on his attending séances with her after the death of their son, Willie, but there is evidence that he sat with mediums even before Willie’s death, and that he was accompanied by various members of his cabinet, including, Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, James J. Speed, Attorney General, and Isaac Newton, Commissioner of Agriculture.  Francis B. Carpenter, painter of the famous picture honoring the Emancipation Proclamation and also of Lincoln’s last portrait made from life, discussed Lincoln’s interest in spiritualism in his book, The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln

One of those earlier mediums with whom Lincoln sat was J. B. Conklin, a trance medium from Ohio.  Shortly after Lincoln was elected president, an article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in which he was attacked as a “Spiritualist.”  The only thing false about the article, Lincoln was quoted, “is that the half of it has not been told.  This article does not begin to tell the wonderful things I have witnessed.”

Colonel Simon P. Kase of Philadelphia, a railroad tycoon serving on the staff of the Secretary of War and close friend of Lincoln’s, claimed to have been present at the president’s sitting with Nettie Colburn.  He said that it lasted a full hour and a half and that the spirit speaking through the entranced young woman dwelt strongly on the importance of the emancipation of the slaves, saying that the war could not end unless slavery was abolished.  “The President listened with the greatest attention throughout her discourse,” Kase recalled. “It was a scene that would never be erased from the memory bringing to mind the passage in Scriptures where the head of the nation was being taught by babes and sucklings.”  Kase added that he was fully convinced in his own mind that Lincoln was fully convinced at that point of the necessity of issuing the great Proclamation, which he had prepared well before that day but did not sign until just after the séance.

The same spirits may have been active a decade earlier when Harriet Beecher Stowe penned the popular 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book said to have been very influential in the abolitionist movement.  Stowe claimed that the book was written through her, “I only holding the pen.” 

Joshua F. Speed, said to be Lincoln’s best friend, quoted Lincoln as saying, “I have had so many evidences of God’s direction, so many instances when I have been controlled by some other power than my own will, that I cannot doubt that this power comes from above…I am satisfied that when the Almighty wants me to do or not do a particular thing, He finds a way of letting me know it.”

Clearly, Lincoln was not an orthodox Christian.  He may not have been a card-carrying Spiritualist even if his beliefs were spiritualistic in nature, but he certainly appears to have believed in a Creator and the survival of consciousness at death.  In his 1909 book, Why We Love Lincoln, James Creelman, a prominent journalist and editor, wrote:  “In the upward reachings of Lincoln’s life there was a singular mysticism that sometimes startles one who contemplates the imperishable grandeur of his place in history.  He saw omens in dreams and experimented with the ghostly world of Spiritualism.  He predicted a violent death for himself, dreamed of his own assassination, and discussed the matter seriously, and gave evidence many times of a strange emotional exaltation, alternating with brooding sadness…but behind these eccentricities were sanity, conscience, strength, and far-seeing penetrativeness.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  April 20

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Automatic Writing Explained

Posted on 23 March 2015, 17:08

The so-called skeptics assume that the automatic writing form of mediumship is just so much bunk, baloney, and bosh, nothing more than the imagination playing tricks on the person.  Some parapsychologists believe it is all coming from the individual’s subconscious and unrelated to spirits.  But so much of what has come through automatic writing has been beyond the individual’s knowledge and experience that spirits are a much more reasonable explanation. 

“Automatic writing, I may explain for those unfamiliar with the term, is writing that is written by the hand of a person which is not under control of his conscious mind,” William T. Stead, (below) a British journalist who went down with the Titanic, explained.  “The hand apparently writes of itself, the person to whom the hand belongs having no knowledge of what it is about to write. It is a very familiar and simple form of mediumship.”


Considering the subconscious theory, Stead, an accomplished automatist, wrote that he could not believe that any part of his unconscious self would deliberately practice a hoax upon his conscious self about the most serious of all subjects, and keep it up year after year with the most sincerity and consistency.  “The simple explanation that my friend who has passed over can use my hand as her own seems much more natural and probable.”

William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest, was also an automatic writing medium.  “During the whole time this communication was written, my spirit was separated from the body,” he explained.  “I could see, from a short distance, the hand as it wrote. In my own room I felt an impression to write, such as I have not felt for nearly two months. I sat at my desk, and the first part was written. I presume I then passed into a state of unconscious trance.  The next thing I remember was standing in spirit near to my body, which was seated holding the pen before the table on which this book was placed. I looked at it and the arrangements of the room with great interest. I saw that my body was there, and that I was joined to it by a thin line of light. Everything material in the room looked shadowy, and everything spiritual seemed solid and real.”

Moses added that the communicating spirit stood behind his body with his own hand over his, and he saw other spirits in the room at the same time. “Through the ceiling streamed down a mild, pleasing light, and now and again rays of bluish light were shot down on my body. When this was done, I saw the body jerk and quiver. It was being charged, as I may say. I noticed, moreover, that the daylight had faded; and the window seemed dark, and the light by which I saw was spirit-light. I could hear perfectly well the voices of the spirits who spoke to me. They sounded very much as human voices do, but were more delicately modulated, and sounded as though from a distance.”

It was explained to him that he was seeing an actual scene, which was intended to show him how the spirits operated. His hand was writing, but it was explained to him that it was not so much that the spirit was using his hand as it was the spirit was impressing his mind.  “[It] was done by directing on to the pen a ray which looked like blue light. The force so directed caused the pen to move in obedience to the will of the directing spirit. In order to show me that the hand was a mere instrument, not essential to the experiment the pen was removed from the hand, and kept in position by the ray of light which was directed upon it. To my great surprise, it moved over the paper, and wrote as before…I do not remember the return to my body. I am perfectly certain as to what occurred, and report it simply and without exaggeration.”

Sidney Dean, (below) a member of Congress representing Connecticut from 1855 to 1859 and later a journalist and author, wrote to Professor William James of Harvard describing the strange writing that seemed to be coming from his hand but not from his brain.  “Some of it is in hieroglyph, or strange compounded arbitrary characters, each series possessing a seeming unity in general design or character, followed by what purports to be a translation or rendering into mother English,” he explained to James.  “I never attempted the seemingly impossible feat of copying the characters. They were cut with the precision of a graver’s tool, and generally with a single rapid stroke of the pencil.  Many languages, some obsolete and passed from history, are professedly given.  To see them would satisfy you that no one could copy them except by tracing.”


But this was a very small part of the phenomenon.  “The ‘automatic’ has given place to the impressional, and when the work is in progress I am in the normal condition, and seemingly two minds, intelligences, persons, are practically engaged,” he continued.  “The writing is in my own hand but the dictation not of my own mind and will, but that of another, upon subjects which I can have no knowledge and hardly a theory; and I, myself, consciously criticize the thought, fact, mode of expressing it, etc., while the hand is recording the subject matter and even the words impressed to be written.  If I refuse to write the sentence, or even the word, the impression instantly ceases, and my willingness must be mentally expressed before the work is resumed, and it is resumed at the point of cessation, even if it should be in the middle of a sentence.  Sentences are commenced without knowledge of mine as to their subject or ending.  In fact, I have never known in advance the subject of disquisition.”
Dean said that the writing was coming in chapters dealing with life and life beyond death.  “Each chapter is signed by the name of some person who has lived on earth – some with whom I have been personally acquainted, others known in history…I know nothing of the alleged authorship of any chapter until it is completed and the name impressed and appended…I am interested not only in the reputed authorship – of which I have nothing corroborative – but in the philosophy taught, of which I was in ignorance until these chapters appeared.  From my standpoint of life – which has been that of biblical orthodoxy – the philosophy is new, seems to be reasonable, and is logically put.  I confess to an inability to successfully controvert it to my own satisfaction.”

Dean said that he was certain that it was not coming from his conscious self and had considered the theory that it was coming from his “unconscious self,” but that theory failed him since it was so in conflict with what he knew and believed.  “It is an intelligent ego who writes, or else the influence assumes individuality, which practically makes of the influence a personality,” he went on.  “...It would be far more reasonable and satisfactory for me to accept the silly hypothesis of re-incarnation – the old doctrine of metempsychosis – as taught by some spiritualists today, and to believe that I lived a former life here, and that once in a while it dominates my intellectual power, and writes chapters upon the philosophy of life, or opens a post-office for spirits to drop their effusions, and have them put into English script.  No, the easiest and most natural solution to me is to admit the claim made, i.e., that it is a decarnated intelligence who writes…[As] my pencil fairly flies over the paper to record the thoughts, I am conscious that, in many cases, the vehicle of the thought, i.e., the language, is very natural and familiar to me, as if somehow, my personality as a writer was getting mixed up with the message.  And, again, the style, language, everything is entirely foreign to my own style.”

The anonymous spirit communicating with John Scott of England, as documented in Scott’s 1948 book, As One Ghost to Another, explained it this way:  “I send out my thought to your mind and it fuses with yours, and then you and I produce words together, which you, or rather we, write with your hand. There is no way of describing to you with your present knowledge the intricate process of communication.”

At some point in the discourse, Scott asked his communicator why more spirits do not communicate in such a manner.  “There are a few who at first return and communicate through your mediums, but their experience does not encourage them; in fact they soon despair of effecting any notable good,”  the communicating spirit told him, going on to inform him that it is very difficult to find minds which have the ability to receive such communication.

“I think I may say that most of them become thus absorbed [with their new environment], to the exclusion of all thought of earth,” the communicating spirit further told Scott, also mentioning that absolutely no communication comes through without a portion of error, which further frustrates communication.
Scott concluded the preface of his book with the comment that the product of his hand has been laughed at by family and friends, while doctors have diagnosed him as suffering from a morbid state of schizophrenia. “I have broken into the shadowy abode of the suggested subconscious, seeking ‘compensation for frustration’ and ‘escape,’ thus letting loose an actor to simulate two dead persons, one not known to me at all and the other through hearsay,” Scott wryly summarized one medical opinion.  “Meanwhile, I remain the ordinary human animal of social routine, distinguished from the herd merely by the label.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  April 6

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The Most Awesome Book on Spirit Communication

Posted on 09 March 2015, 11:33

“Just one book, the most mind-blowing, awesome one you know of,” was my old friend’s request.  His brother was dying of cancer and he wanted a book that might give his brother some hope in his final days.

My friend informed me that his brother was a hard-core atheist and had not been open to discussion of spiritual subjects in the past.  “When you’re dead, you’re dead,” was his philosophy.  However, my friend had noticed that on his most recent visits, his brother no longer seemed interested in watching or talking about football, something that had been their primary topic of conversation over the years.  His mood, as he moved toward the brink of the abyss, was now more one of anguish, anger, and despair.  My friend hoped that his brother might now be more open to talking about the possibility that he will survive physical death.  If his brother wasn’t ready to read the book he wanted me to recommend, he (my friend) said he was going to sit there and read the book to him, whether he liked it or not.
I pondered on the request and quickly narrowed it down to two books – The Buried Crosses by Hamlin Garland and The Voices by Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore.  I thought the first book, published in 1939, might be more entertaining for the dying brother, but also more mind-boggling and easier to dismiss than the second one.  We have only Garland’s testimony for the experiences set forth in his book, but Moore, a retired British naval commander, offers, in addition to his own first-hand observations, those of a number of other credible people, including scientists, professors, diplomats, engineers, and business executives. If a non-believer wants to call Garland a dupe, that is one thing, but he is going to have to call many more people than Moore (below) dupes after finishing The Voices, first published in 1913. 


The Voices has to do with the direct-voice mediumship of Henrietta “Etta” Wriedt, (below) a Detroit, Michigan resident.  In 431 pages, Moore sets forth details of numerous sittings with Wriedt in which deceased loved ones, as well as some not well recalled,  communicated with sitters, offering many evidential facts, and in some cases even materialized for sitters.  Most of the cases discussed in the book were in England during 1912 and 1913.  In some cases, the communication was in a foreign language unknown to Wriedt.  According to Moore, Wriedt was uneducated and spoke only “Yankee,” and yet voices came through in “pure English.”


Count Chedo Miyatovich, a diplomat from Serbia, reported a sitting with Wriedt in London in which he was accompanied by his friend, Dr. Hinkovitch.  Miyatovich heard from his mother in their Servian language, while Hinkovitch heard from an old deceased friend, also a doctor, in the Croatian language.  “They continued for some time the conversation in their native tongue, of which I heard and understood every word,” Miyatovich testified.  “Mrs. Wriedt, for the first time in her life, heard how the Croatian language sounds.  I and my Croatian friend were deeply impressed by what we witnessed that day, May 16th (1912).  I spoke of it to my friends as the most wonderful experience of my life.”

After his first visit with Wriedt, Miyatovich arranged for Professor Margarette Selenka, a distinguished German zoologist and anthropologist, to sit with her. Selenka heard from her deceased husband, Professor Lorentz Selenka, and her mother, who died a year earlier, both speaking in German.  A friend of Selenka’s came singing a German song, and asked her to join him, as they used to sing together in the old days, after which a number of spirits came for the other two sitters.

Both Miyatovich and Selenka heard from William T. Stead, a British journalist who was a victim of the Titanic sinking just a month earlier.  “Mr. Stead had a long conversation with Mme. Selenka and a short one with me, reminding me of an incident which two years ago, took place in his office at Mowbray House,” Miyatovich further reported.  After hearing from Stead, Miyatovich heard from Ada Mayell, a close friend who had died just three weeks earlier in his home country.  She made reference to letters sent to Miyatovich by her sister and niece. 

William Jeffrey a business executive, reported hearing from his wife, mentioning that when alive she would usually speak proper English but would sometimes lapse into her old Scotch ways of speaking when talking to intimates.  This she did when she communicated through Mrs. Wriedt’s mediumship.

James Robertson, another business executive, reported hearing from his mother.  “The voice of my mother was the voice I was familiar with, the same broad Doric speech, as if she had never gone from us,” he testified.  “The Scotch idioms were never departed from for a moment…She spoke to me as if we had but parted yesterday, called me ‘Jeems’ as she had always done while in the body…Mrs. Wriedt could not by any possibility have given a replica of the Scotch tones I heard, for while my mother was conversing with my daughters [she, Mrs. Wriedt] was talking [with me] in her usual Yankee tones.”

Peter Reid, an artist, reported that his “sweetheart” communicated and had the same old laugh he recalled from her earthly life.  She first claimed to be his sister, and when Reid asked her why she made such a claim she reminded him that he was like a big brother to her and her family when she was a child.  Moreover, she was concerned that she would not “get in” if she did not identify herself as a relative.

Moore further offers the testimony of one J. Maybank, who, along with his wife, sat with Wriedt on May 20, 1912. Mr. Maybank first heard from Tommy Mahone, a former shipmate on the Rambler whom he at first didn’t remember.  However, Mahone reminded him of several incidents that happened on the ship on the China Station, after which Maybank began to remember him.  The Maybanks then heard from their deceased son, Harold, and recognized his voice.  Mr. Maybank put a test question to his son, asking him if he remembered “poor old Cyril.”  The son replied, “Of course I do, dad; didn’t I tease him, when he went on, and didn’t he growl.”  Harold then let out a loud, angry growl, that of a cat, thereby convincing the Maybanks that it was indeed their son.

At a third sitting, a voice identified herself as “Flossie.”  Mrs. Maybank cried out, “What, my little sister?” when the voice replied, “Little sister indeed! I’m a woman now.”  Mr. Maybank asked Flossie if she remembered what he said to her the last time he saw her.  “Yes,” Flossie replied, “you said, ‘Good-bye, dear, I’m off to China, and when I return you will be quite well.’”

The Rev. Charles Tweedale, an Anglican priest, told of his sitting with Mrs. Wriedt on June 3, 1912 in which his wife heard from Frank Woodward, her former music master.  She had not heard from him in 17 years and was unaware of his death.  Later inquiry by Tweedale revealed the fact that Woodward had died a year previously.

Mrs. Tweedale also heard from her Grannie Burnett, who had died when she was a little girl.  The grandmother told her that “Mary” was with her.  However, Mrs. Tweedale did not immediately recall a Mary associated with her grandmother.  It was only later that she remembered that her grandmother had adopted a girl named Mary under peculiar circumstances and that this Mary had died about three years earlier.

Moore, who had investigated a number of mediums in England, noted that voices came through the trumpet in broad daylight or gaslight, but they were louder in the dark.  Moreover, Wriedt was open to sitting anywhere in the room so that the investigator could watch her and rule out fraud. There were times when several voices were coming through as Mrs. Wriedt, who did not require a trance condition, talked with the person sitting next to her. 

Sir William Barrett, professor of physics at the Royal College in Dublin, also set forth his testimonial in Moore’s book.  After hearing from a number of others, Barrett heard “Sidgwick.”  He then asked for the man’s Christian name and the voice responded with “Henry Sidgwick.”  Henry Sidgwick was a personal friend of Barrett’s and the first president of the Society for Psychical Research.  Barrett asked Sidgwick if he was all right now, not referring to a particular problem he had.  “You mean the impediment in my speech, but I do not stutter now,” Sidgwick, who had a stuttering problem when alive, replied.
“I went to Mrs. Wriedt’s séances in a somewhat skeptical spirit, but I came to the conclusion that she is a genuine and remarkable medium, and has given abundant proof to others beside myself that the voices and the contents of the messages given are wholly beyond the range of trickery or collusion,” Barrett offered.

And yet, if my friend’s brother happens to Google “Etta Wriedt,” the first thing that will pop up on her is the Wikipedia entry, obviously written by a “know nothing,” stating that she was “exposed as a fraud by physicist Kristian Bireland when he discovered the noises produced by the trumpet were caused by chemical explosions induced by potassium and water or by lycopodium powder.”  Exactly how such chemicals produce familiar voices and factual information is not explained, however.  My guess is that such chemicals, if they actually existed, were components of the ectoplasm produced by direct-voice mediums to permit the voices.  But if the dying brother has a will to disbelieve, he’ll probably accept the Wikipedia entry as truth and continue his sad march toward total extinction. 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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Why The Afterlife Is Beyond Science

Posted on 23 February 2015, 17:10

Co-founder in 1882 of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), Frederic W. H. Myers, a Cambridge scholar, is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Psychical Research.”  As Myers came to realize during his lifetime, mediumship is very complex and does not easily lend itself to human understanding or to scientific research.  After his death on January 17, 1901, he apparently found it even more difficult to communicate than he had realized.  “Lodge, it is not as easy as I thought in my impatience,” Myers communicated to Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist and fellow psychical researcher, through the mediumship of Rosalie Thompson, a trance medium, on February 19, 1901, a little over a month after his death.

“Gurney says I am getting on first rate,” Myers (below) continued, referring to Edmund Gurney, his close friend and co-founder of the SPR who had died in 1888.  “But I am short of breath.”  Lodge interpreted this to be a metaphorical shortness of breath. (The ability of a discarnate to lower its vibration to the more dense earth vibration and communicate has been likened to a human trying to hold his/her breath under water. Some are able to hold the breath for just a few seconds, some for several minutes, and so it seems there is a variance with spirits, apparently dependent upon the degree of spiritual consciousness achieved during the earth life and carried over to the real life).


Myers went on to say that he felt like he was looking at a misty picture and that he could hear himself using Thompson’s voice but that he didn’t feel as if he were actually speaking.  “It is funny to hear myself talking when it is not myself talking.  It is not my whole self talking. When I am awake I know where I am.  Do you remember the day I was with you here?  When I went home that day I was ill.  I had such a bad night. It is in my diary. It was in May, I think.”  Lodge recalled it all.  (As explained below, Myers had to enter a dream state in order to communicate and therefore was not “awake” at the time he communicated with Lodge).

Myers mentioned that he had been with Professor Henry Sidgwick, a fellow researcher who had died several months before Myers, and that Sidgwick was still very much the skeptic he had been in the earth life and was hoping Myers could convince him. (As often reported elsewhere, we take our beliefs with us and thus the non-believer, lacking full spiritual awareness, may not immediately realize he has died.  Those who achieved some spiritual consciousness may be in a stupor of sorts, not completely grasping the fact that they have died, living in a dream world of sorts, as if being absorbed in a movie and forgetting it is just a movie. This may have been the case with Sidgwick). 

“Tell them I am more stupid than some of those I had to deal with,” Myers continued, mentioning that he could not even remember his mother’s name.  “I thought I had lost my way in a strange town, and I groped my way along the passage.  And even when I saw people that I knew were dead, I thought they were only visions.  I have not yet seen Tennyson yet by the way.”  (The famous poet, who died in 1892, had also been a member of the SPR and was idolized by Myers.)

Lodge sat with Thompson a second time, on May 8, 1901, and again heard from Myers.  However, the conditions were apparently not ideal and much of the communication was muddled. Moreover, it was apparently easier for Nelly, Thompson’s spirit control, to pass on messages from Myers than for Myers to communicate directly.  Among other things, Nelly referred to an incident with a medium, Miss Rawson, which researchers had deemed fraudulent.  Myers said that “cheating” was not involved, although he couldn’t explain how phenomena which appear to be dishonest are actually genuine.  He said he was still trying to understand it himself. 

Many years later, beginning in 1924, the purported Myers communicated through the Irish medium Geraldine Cummins (below) and explained that for a spirit entity to communicate through a sensitive, the spirit must enter a dream or subjective state. “When we discarnate beings desire to communicate through some sensitive we enter a dream or subjective state,” Myers stated by means of automatic writing, further saying that this dream state often affects the memory in such a way that they forget facts, even names.  However, if the medium or the sitters have certain memories in mind, this can open the door to their own memories.  He likened it to someone still in the flesh trying to remember a casual acquaintance at a tea party 10 years earlier.  He might not remember the person until someone else begins describing the person and discussing the conversation they had had.  “Sometimes, when we are really thoroughly submerged in this dream atmosphere, we can get into touch not alone with one subconscious mind but with the subconscious mind of many thousands,” he explained. “It is like a wide sea stretching out before us.  Much of it is scarcely apprehended.  We can only tap it here and there, but with the assistance of the guide we may draw out of this sea of mind the particular association of ideas that corresponds with a happening, a name, or a place in our earth life.  We recognize it and use it as evidence of identity when we are communicating.”  (Such telepathic mind tapping is seen by some parapsychologists as being evidence against the spirit hypothesis; that is, they believe the medium is accessing the information directly from other minds, even minds not present at the sitting.)


Myers added that they communicate by pictures and images, and by signs which the deeper mind of the medium apprehends, and occasionally distorts.  “It is harder to put through a half sentence than an idea or an image,” he explained.  “...Now these ideas are a little coloured by [the medium’s] deeper mind, but only in so far as she possesses very strong prejudices which might inhibit the thought conveyed by me.”  (Many other communicators have said that they provide the ideas, while the medium’s mind puts words to the idea.  This might also explain why a spirit communicator who did not know English during his earth life can communicate through an English speaking medium who is not familiar with the communicator’s language.)

After Lodge’s son, Raymond, was killed in World War I, he communicated extensively with his parents through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard.  As set forth in my book, Dead Men Talking, Raymond offered much in the way of evidence that he had survived death and was, in fact, communicating from the Other Side.  However, Raymond also made some comments that seemed ridiculous, such as cigars and whisky sodas being available in the afterlife condition.  That particular communication brought much scorn from Lodge’s peers in the scientific community.  Myers touched upon this when he communicated that if a person longed for a superior brand of cigar, he can have it in the afterlife.  “He wanted to play golf, so he plays golf,” Myers continued.  “But he is merely dreaming all the time, or rather, living with the fantasy created by his strongest desires on earth.”  Over time, whatever form time takes in that condition, the “dream” fades and the person or soul awakens to his true condition, Myers said.

Myers also discussed reincarnation, stating, in effect, that reincarnation is a fact, but not in the way most people who believe in it think.  “When I was on earth I belonged to a group-soul,” he communicated, “but its branches and the spirit – which might be compared to the roots – were in the invisible.  Now if you would understand psychic evolution, this group-soul must be studied and understood.  For instance, it explains many of the difficulties that people will assure you can be removed only by the doctrine of reincarnation.  You may think my statement frivolous, but the fact that we do appear on earth to be paying for the sins of another life is, in a sense, true.  It was our life, and yet not our life.”

He elaborated on this, saying that a soul belonging to the group of which he was part lived a previous life and built for him a framework for his own earthly life.  The spirit – the bond of the group soul – manifests, he said, many times on earth.  “We are all of us distinct,” he continued, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.” He added that a group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred souls, or a thousand souls. 

“When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth,” Myers went on.  “And often a half-truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement.  I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern of karma I have woven for him on earth.”

Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.  He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.  (Other spirit communicators have said much the same thing as Myers.  Silver Birch, who communicated through the mediumship of Maurice Barbanell for many years, also stated that reincarnation is a fact but not in the way people think of it.  He said that explaining reincarnation is like trying to explain the color of the sky to someone blind from birth.  It is beyond human comprehension.)

Is it any wonder that science has been unable to get a handle on spirit communication and the way things work on the other side of the veil? 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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From Pop Movie Star to Cloistered Nun

Posted on 09 February 2015, 10:18

While watching the Bill O’Reilly show on Fox News a few weeks before Christmas, I observed an interview with Mother Dolores Hart, now a cloistered Catholic nun but a popular movie actress during the early 1960s, playing the love interest of such stars as Elvis Presley, Montgomery Clift, George Hamilton and others.  Clips of some of those movies were shown by O’Reilly. (See link). I was fascinated by the story, wondering what could possibly motivate a beautiful young woman, called a Grace Kelly look-alike, to leave the glamorous and exciting Hollywood lifestyle at age 24 to become a cloistered nun.  It was puzzling enough that she would want to become a nun, but to become a cloistered nun – one confined to an abbey and shut off from the rest of the world, even unable to socialize with other nuns – made it exponentially more puzzling.

I put “Dolores Hart” (below) into a Google search and found that she was engaged to be married at the time she made the decision to enter the Benedictine order at Regina Laudis Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut during 1963 and that her former fiancé, Don Robinson, continued to visit her at the abbey in Connecticut every year until his death in 2011, never marrying himself.  That added further intrigue to the story and prompted me to buy the Kindle version of the book, The Ear of the Heart, subtitled An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows, by Hart and Richard DeNeut, published in 2013. While most of the writing is done by DeNeut, Hart’s words are inserted in italics.


As I was to read in the introductory remarks, DeNeut was Hart’s boyfriend before Robinson, but they broke up because DeNeut was unable to completely appreciate her Catholic faith, a religion she was converted to at age 10, independent of any parental influence, while attending a Catholic school.  Her grandmother, a non-Catholic, as were her parents, enrolled her in the school simply because it was closer to their home than other schools and didn’t involve crossing too many busy streets.
“When the priest sprinkled me with holy water, it was the greatest moment of joy in my ten years of life,” Mother Dolores writes of her baptism. “I experienced a sensation of acceptance that any child, and especially a child in my circumstances, would find quite empowering…I had found something that was now my own place, above and beyond all that had been cruel and dishonorable in my parents home.”

Having grown up a Catholic and having attended a Catholic school, I couldn’t imagine what there was about that experience that so empowered her.  My own Catholic faith was more fear-based than anything else and I never could get into the ritual and adoration part of the Sunday mass as I couldn’t believe that God wanted to be worshipped like some pagan idol.  At the same time, however, I had two good friends who answered the “calling” to the priesthood, and left for the seminary after grammar school, so I recognized even back then that people respond to different influences. 

Dolores Hart had made the biggest leap from the materialist side to the spiritual side that I had ever heard of – one from the excesses of Epicureanism, as represented by hedonistic Hollywood, to the extreme Stoicism that might be forced upon a person in exile on a deserted island.  To me, it seemed almost like agreeing to go to prison for the rest of one’s life.  But nobody was forcing young Dolores to abandon her comfortable and apparently satisfying lifestyle.  In fact, most of her relatives and friends were opposed to it.  I wanted to understand the inner calling that motivated such a change in a seemingly sane person, and so I continued reading. 

“I left the world I knew in order to reenter it on a more profound level,” Mother Dolores offers early in the book.  “Many people don’t understand the difference between a vocation and your own idea about something.  A vocation is a call – one you don’t necessarily want.  The only thing I ever wanted to be was an actress.  But I was called by God.”  That statement didn’t help me understand; in fact, it further muddied the waters, since it would have been easier to understand the transformation if she had not liked being an actress.

DeNeut didn’t understand, either.  He said that he struggled to grasp the meaning of the term “call,” as used in the expression, “I had a call.”  He even badgered Lady Abbess, the founder of Regina Laudis, in the hope that he could come to grips with Dolores’s decision.  He was told that a “call” can’t be explained any more than one can explain falling in love.

Mother Dolores recollected that even in grammar school she was curious enough about life to record the words of Italian actress Eleanora Duse in her diary:  “When we grow old, there can only be one regret – not to have given enough of ourselves.”  Even then, she remembers thinking that her life was not for her, “that it somehow was something outside of me.”  She further remembers babysitting two cousins – the daughters of her aunt and uncle (her uncle being Mario Lanza, the famous singer), and making sure they understood that “life was about something more than thirty-foot, Saks-decorated Christmas trees and wagons full of toys.”

Sometime during her grammar school years, while living with her grandmother in Chicago, Dolores was injured at a swimming pool and then had an adverse reaction to penicillin.  She remembered feeling that she was going to die. “I couldn’t explain it, but I felt the presence of something that I accepted as the presence of authority – the presence of God,” she explains.  “I spoke – not prayed, but spoke – to God: ‘If you want me to go to You, I’ll go.  I’m not afraid.’”  It was then, she adds, that she found the gift of faith.

I wondered if that experience was something akin to a near-death experience – an out-of-body experience in which she met a “being of light,” as sometimes classified, which she took to be “God” – and if she had remembered only a small part of it.  Many people who have had NDEs report life-changing behavior.  The brain chemistry seems to be altered in the process, or maybe it is a physics thing, the vibration frequency switched to another wave length, one at which they are more closely tuned to celestial realms.  Could that have been the case with young Dolores?

One big draw of the religious life mentioned by Mother Dolores was “continuity.”  Because of discord between her parents and later divorce, she was going back and forth between Los Angeles and Chicago, living with her parents at times and with her grandparents at other times.  This was very unsettling and the cinema lifestyle added to it in that she would make friends with various people while making a movie, then break off those friendships when the movie was wrapped up.  She apparently had hoped to find a stable “family” in the Benedictine order.  “Bonds would form,” she says of making movies. “The film would end, and then suddenly that relationship I trusted would be gone.  It was to me, shattering.  I felt there had to be some centering in my life in which there was continuity.”

Although Dolores clearly recognized that she was joining a contemplative order – one shut up in a monastery with limited interaction among its members – and not an order engaged in teaching or charity work, she seems to have misjudged the extent of the “family” environment in the monastery.    She states that she initially felt a tremendous rapport with the Benedictine Rule’s basic premises – simplicity, discernment and praise of God, but she may have underestimated the amount of “detachment” from the world that was required.

As she described her small “cell,” i.e., her room, five feet by eight feet with a cot and three-inch mattress with no bed springs, a wash bowl with no running water, a small window that looked out at the top of a tree, I could understand why she said she cried herself to sleep every night for the first three years and why she felt a gnawing sense of abandonment, along with confusion, aloneness, and bewilderment in those early years.  “What have I done?” she continually asked herself, wondering why God wasn’t there waiting for her and offering comfort.  While other would-be nuns couldn’t take it and left the order, Dolores persisted. “I was stubborn,” she goes on.  “I believed that I was called to take on this place and to follow Christ in His Passion…I couldn’t leave because deep down I trusted God had to be there and that was what mattered.  I swore that I would wait as long as I had to.” 

I stopped at this point to ponder on what seemed like a paradoxical situation.  I wondered if remaining in the convent because of stubbornness was grounded in pride, one of the seven deadly sins, while also wondering if leaving the convent called for humbleness or humility, a virtue, since it would have no doubt involved many friends and relatives telling her, “We told you so…,” while also having to depend on those same friends and relatives for financial support in starting over again. 

One friend told Dolores that the cloistered life is “selfish and useless,” something several spirit communicators have also said, explaining that life is about learning from our experiences while interacting with, loving, and serving others.  Dolores reacted to that friend by saying that she was finding some real challenges in living in solitude with 40 other nuns and that as a monastic nun she would be a witness to the truth that love is real.  That explanation pretty much went over my head, but I was still hoping to better understand what motivates a young person to take such a drastic leap into a secluded world as I continued reading. 

The changes in the Catholic Church brought about by Vatican II seem to have made the cloistered life a little more tolerable, allowing for more interaction among the nuns and a little more contact with the outside world, but the daily life still consisted of basically three elements – prayer, manual labor, and scriptural reading aimed at bringing a deeper knowledge of oneself, others, and God.  Clearly, such a life has appealed to more than a young movie actress.  As mentioned in the book, the Benedictine order at Regina Laudis now includes two former lawyers, several teachers, three with Ph.D.s, an artist, a former advertising account executive, and a former investment banker.

I finished the book without getting an answer to my question of what motivates a young person to pursue the cloistered life, at least an answer I could understand. The recurring explanation seemed to boil down to “praising God,” but that opens up a discussion as to the meaning of “praise” and “God.”  Reverting to the definitions I had of them as a young Catholic, I still question an anthropomorphic God’s need for praise.  Perhaps it is better understood by more advanced souls. However, there was one other explanation offered by Mother Dolores – learning to surrender.  That lesson may be worth a lifetime of suffering.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

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Next blog:  Feb. 23 


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Is There Marriage in the Afterlife?

Posted on 26 January 2015, 10:26

“Until death do us part” is a pledge in marriage liturgy, but there have been many messages from the spirit world suggesting that such is not always the case. That is, love bonds often continue after death.  “If [marriages in the physical realm] are based in selfishness, they necessarily terminate sooner or later; but if true and well fitted, the spiritual dominating when on Earth, they continue on in our world of spirits,” one spirit communicator is quoted by Miles Edward Allen in his latest book, Astral Intimacy.  “If a husband has had several wives, or a wife several husbands, the tie endures only between the most congenial pair,” another spirit communicator is quoted.


“Until death us do us part” is a pledge in marriage liturgy, but there have been many messages from the spirit world suggesting that such is not always the case. That is, love bonds often continue after death.

In effect, the book is a collection of messages from the spirit world, an encyclopedia of spirit communication about the afterlife as recorded by dozens of mediums, researchers,  and authors between 1852 and 2001.  Love bonds in the afterlife make up only a small portion of the hundreds of messages quoted, but the title of the book and the subtitle, “Fifty Spirits Speak About Life, Love, and Sex After Death” are teasers aimed at drawing attention to the book.  Nevertheless, there are several dozen quotes dealing with astral love and sex.  One message states that sex in the spirit realms is different than in the physical world. “It is more obviously like what sex really means,” the spirit communicator offered.  “Here you actually can enter the whole person.  It is like you are in fact merging.”

Allen has drawn from 50 different sources, many of them well-known researchers, such as Alan Kardec, William Stainton Moses, Sir Oliver Lodge, John Edmonds, and William T. Stead, among the older ones, and Neal Donald Walsch, Martha Barham, Ruth Taylor, and Michael Newton among the more recent. 

I am unaware of any other collection of quotes as comprehensive as this one.  Allen prefaces the encyclopedia part of this book with some discussion of the sources and the phenomena giving rise to them.  This should be a valuable travel guide for anyone expecting to take the ultimate journey. 

Here are some other quotes from the book:

Separation of Body & Spirit:  “When I left my body, I found that I could not free myself from the entanglements of Earth for a considerable period…It seems that every soul must pass through such a condition…With some souls this is only a matter of a few hours or days; with others it may occupy years…Only the enlightened soul can traverse rapidly the spheres of the denser astral.”

Many Mansions: “You ask them which heaven they inhabit, because you have the idea of several heavens, placed one above the other, like the stories of a house, and they therefore answer you according to your own ideas; but, for them, the words, ‘third,’ ‘fourth,’ or ‘fifth’ heaven, express different degrees of purification, and consequently of happiness.”

Earthbound Spirits: “A number of spirits do live and spend most of their time near the Earth, but they are the very unprogressed and find their pleasures in mingling with mortals.”

Heaven: “Some may inhabit [a conventional heaven] until they learn through their own experience that existence demands development and that such a heaven would be sterile, boring, and indeed ‘deadly’.”

Distorted Views: “It is a wondrous land of light, where the beauties of nature, as seen on Earth, are brought to perfection…The great pity is that it is so long before some spirits even begin to see it as it really is. Some of these spirits who have not progressed far enough to see and realize the beauty about them, when communicating with their friends on Earth, give them quite wrong and dissimilar impressions of conditions over here.”

Soul Vibration:  “While you are still on Earth, your thought, your intentions, everything you do, gives your soul a certain rate of vibration…When you die and manifest here, you would go straight to the part of our world that vibrates at [that rate].”

Spirit Body: “There is an inner, etheric body, composed of minute particles, of such substance that it can, and does, pass into spirit life…It is in the semblance of the material body, but whether beautiful or ugly, strong or weak, depends upon the inner life of the person.”

Gender Identity: “Those of us who have lived on Earth or elsewhere usually consider ourselves as male or female in our own thoughts.  We can project our image to another soul in that form. But we have no gender, not really.”

Rest: “The spirit’s need of rest depends on its particular degree of development, diminishing in proportion to its advancement from the material plane.”

Food & Drink: “We eat and drink, but it is not what you mean by eating and drinking.  To us it is a mental condition.  We enjoy it mentally, not bodily; as you do.”

Clothing: “One’s garments here are made from one’s quality of character.”

Aging: “Our aging is different from yours.  Young people here grow much faster than on Earth in body, mind, and spirit until they reach maturity in body that would correspond to healthy, robust Earth humans 30 to 35 years in age.  At that point they maintain that body and continue grow only in mind and spirit.  The reverse is true for people who arrive in their advanced years.”

Life Review:  “There is no compulsion, of course, to review one’s past life on Earth as soon as one arrives and the new life here begins. Some take a long while to tackle the problem.  They dread to see the effects of mistakes and failures.”

Night & Day: “The light we have is obtained from the action of our minds on the atmosphere.  We think light, and there is light.  That is why people who come over in evil conditions are in the dark; their minds are not competent to produce light enough for them to see. There is greater intensity of light as we go up through the spheres which comes from the blending of the more spiritual minds.”

Time: “There are three kinds of time: sidereal or clock time; psychological time; and orthic time…Orthic time is the reality.  Sidereal time, which is a reality to you, is only