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Dissecting the Human Aura

Posted on 08 July 2019, 10:13

Professor Robert Hare, one of the earliest psychical researchers, identified two modes giving rise to the various spirit manifestations: “In the one mode, they employ the tongue to speak, the fingers to write, or hands to actuate tables or instruments for communication,” he wrote in his 1855 book Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations.  “In the other, they act upon ponderable matter directly, through a halo or aura appertaining to the medium; so that although the muscular power may be incapacitated for aiding them, they will cause a body to move, or produce raps intelligibly so as to select letters conveying their ideas, uninfluenced by those of the medium.”


Hare, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and a renowned inventor, further concluded that this aura was some form of electricity or light that was beyond scientific analysis and that it amounted to essentially the same thing that German chemist Baron Karl von Reichenbach called od or odyle in his research a decade or so earlier. Reichenbach first published his findings in a series of papers entitled “Researches on Magnetism, Electricity, Heat, and Light in their relations to Vital Powers,” in the March and May 1845 issues of Annals of Chemistry after studying a number of “sensitives” – people who today might be called clairvoyants or clairsentients.

While Reichenbach focused on “mind over matter” tasks, what modern parapsychologists refer to as extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK), and apparently did not hypothesize or recognize any kind of spirit involvement or intervention, Hare claimed to be in contact with spirits of the dead, including his deceased father and sister, receiving much personal information that could not have been researched by the medium, as well as limited information as to how things worked on their side of the veil.  He was quick to point out, however, that most of it was beyond human comprehension. 

One thing that Hare (below) did grasp is that one’s immediate place in the afterlife is determined by a sort of “moral specific gravity,” which is apparently built up during a person’s lifetime based on his or her good works or lack thereof and manifests itself in the person’s aura, which is an energy field.  Hare called it a “circumambient halo” and was told that it passes from darkness to brilliance based on the degree of spirit advancement.  Moreover, one cannot be dishonest with himself after death as the moral specific gravity allows the soul to tolerate only so much light. If the soul were to try to cheat and go to a higher sphere, he or she would not be able to tolerate the light there.  Nevertheless, the soul can continue to advance from that point.


Hare further concluded that only a few humans are endowed with an aura that allows them to be competent as mediums and that there was a wide range of ability among mediums, only a few of them of the “higher order.”

Seemingly consistent with this moral specific gravity idea is the explanation given to Frederick C. Schulthorp during his early twentieth century astral projections or out-of-body experiences.  Schulthorp was told by spirits that every thought generates an electrical impulse that is impressed upon the individual’s energy field and is stored there.  Every thought, he was informed, has a specific rate of vibration and the combined vibrations over a lifetime determine the person’s initial station in the afterlife environment.  “Upon entry into spirit life, a person will naturally and automatically gravitate to his state in spirit which corresponds to his acts and thoughts throughout life as reproduced by his ‘personal tape record,’” Schulthorp explained his understanding at a time before computers made this comprehensible to the average person.

Sometime in 1892, Edward C. Randall, a prominent Buffalo, New York trial lawyer and businessman, was asked by a friend to accompany him on a visit to Emily S. French, a Rochester woman who, Randall was told, had strange powers and received messages from spirits by means of the direct-voice method of mediumship. Over the next 20 years, Randall sat with French more than 700 times, recording the messages from various spirits.  He pointed out that each voice had individuality and that they varied greatly, just as they do in earth life.  One such voice reported: “Every thought, being material, creates a condition about us and is retained in the brain.  When, therefore, anyone goes out of this life and enters the etheric, where everything, the good and the bad, is intensified beyond measure, the storehouse of the brain is opened and he is confronted with the record made.  Nothing is forgotten.”

Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, the eminent Swiss psychiatrist, told of a near-death experience he had after a heart attack in 1944. “It was as if I now carried along with me everything I had ever experienced or done, everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak.  I consisted of my own history, and I felt with great certainty: this is what I am.  ‘I am this bundle of what has been, and what has been accomplished.’”

While Reichenbach called the energy field od, or odyle, or odic force, other researchers called it psychic force, teleplasm and ectoplasm. 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 orgone energy of Dr. Wilhelm Reich.

Marjorie Aarons, a healing medium, wondered how her ability to heal worked.  White Feather (probably the name of a group soul) explained it to her through the renowned medium Lilian Bailey: “Your aura is like a gigantic spider-web, pulsating with many wavelengths upon which we can transmit the magnetic flow of cosmic rays. You are the machine; we are the batteries, the electricity.  Your batteries are always tuned in whenever we need to transmit cosmic power.  Your hands take the great flow of magnetism.  Through them the power comes streaming, but it can be received by the patient only through his aura.  But remember, if the patient has only a little, thick aura, that means he is very selfish. He will be unable to receive to any great extent that magnetic flow of healing power.”

On another occasion, White Feather communicated: “There is the soul flame, the real YOU which is enveloped by a physical body.  Around the soul flame is the soul aura which, when someone is spiritually awakened, is wide and shimmers with the magnetism that comes to it.  Then there is a vacuum – nothing. Also, there is the outer aura…..your physical aura.  As your thoughts flow through it, we see its colours change. We observe your despair and happiness.”

In his 1964 book, The Light and the Gate, physicist Raynor Johnson, Master of Queen’s College, University of Melbourne,  devotes a section to his mystical friend, Ambrose Pratt.  “He made no secret to me of a faculty which he had possessed as far back into childhood as he could remember,” Johnson wrote, “of seeing an aura surrounding the human form (also around some animals and trees).  He considered the human aura to be partly a quasi-physical luminescence, the nature of which changed considerably with the condition of health of the individual….The faintness or brilliance, transparency or opacity, conveyed to him definite impressions.  He told me that in some cases where he had known a particular disease was present, he had noticed associated changes in the aura, and he had no doubt that he could diagnose such a condition in a stranger.”

In his 1972 book, Blueprint for Immortality, Harold S. Burr, a former professor of anatomy at Yale medical school, advanced his “Electrodynamic Theory of Life,” which held that all living things are surrounded by a measurable electromagnetic field, one that has the ability to organize thoughts and experiences. He designed and devised a “voltmeter” which supposedly could predict when individuals would feel “at their best” or “below par,” and he speculated that his method might someday measure states of grief, anger and love.  However, he doubted that Science would make such progress, “because Nature seems reluctant to reveal her secrets to the intellectually arrogant.”

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 22

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Famous Physicist Explains Spirit Communication Difficulties

Posted on 24 June 2019, 8:47

On October 18, 1929, Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist, delivered the first Frederic W. H. Myers Memorial Lecture to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London.  Myers, one of the founders of the SPR, had died in January 1901. Lodge, a pioneer in electricity, radio, and the spark plug, and former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, had befriended Myers in 1884 and joined him in 1889 for the SPR’s investigation of American trance medium Leonora Piper, who had been invited to England by the SPR.

Like so many other scientists caught up in the wake of Darwinism, Lodge (below) had become a materialist, not believing in anything spiritual.  However, he remained open-minded on the subject and was intrigued by the idea that one person could read another’s mind, something he had observed around 1883 in a stage performer called Irving Bishop.  “The verification of the fact of telepathy, indicating obscurely a kind of dislocation between mind and body, was undoubtedly impressive, so that it began to seem probable, especially under Myers’s tuition, that the two – mind and body – were not inseparably connected, as I had been led by my previous studies under Clifford, Tyndall, and Huxley to believe they were,” Lodge explained his change of mind.  “I began to feel that there was a possibility of the survival of personality.”

Lodge’s carried out 83 experiments with Mrs. Piper during her visit to England in 1889.  “Detailed knowledge of my relations was shown, and in particular an aunt of mine, to whom I have been indebted, either directly or indirectly, for much of my post-school education, ostensibly came and delivered messages,” he told the audience during that 1929 lecture. “My aunt reminded me that she had promised to come and report if she found it possible after her death, but she was a religious woman, with an orthodox faith in survival, though with no knowledge of the psychic side or the possibility of communication.”  Especially convincing to Lodge was the fact that his aunt took possession of Piper for a short period and spoke to him in her well-remembered voice. Over those 83 sittings, Lodge gradually came to accept that he was in touch with the departed and further that it went well beyond mental telepathy. (Much more about Lodge and his study of Mrs. Piper can be found in my book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife)

“I am sometimes asked whether I have had any communication with Myers since his death, or whether he has gone on to some higher grade of existence out of touch with earth,” Lodge continued his lecture.  “My answer is that as far as I can judge, a man devoted as he was to the enlightenment of his generation in spiritual matter, is not likely to shirk his task merely because he has an opportunity of progressing.  He may progress, but it is possible for people from high to return on missionary enterprise.  The lower may have to bide their time before they can ascend to the higher, but I judge that the higher can always descend to help the lower.  I should have thought that that was the essence of the Christian faith, that the Higher did come to the help of the lower.  However that may be, I know for a fact that Myers’ influence and help are still with me, and that when I have questions to ask he is willing and ready to answer.  He does this often through his lieutenant, my son Raymond, sometimes coming himself, to give information of a more difficult character than Raymond could manage.  Most of this has to be done unfortunately through a more or less uneducated medium…” (Raymond Lodge was killed in battle during the Great War.)

Much of the communication from Myers (below) and Raymond Lodge came through the mediumship of British trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, following Raymond’s death in 1915.  When Leonard entered the trance state, her spirit control, named Feda, began using her voice mechanism and communicated in a voice significantly different from that of Mrs. Leonard. It was from Feda that Lodge learned of some of the difficulties spirits had in communicating. He recalled one sitting in which both Myers and Raymond had communicated before Feda again took control of Leonard. “I do not think I have to told you about this before, but there are times when Feda is not really communicating, but her shadow is,” Lodge quoted Feda, who usually referred to herself in the third person.


“Mr. Fred (Myers) can explain,” Feda continued, her grammar often faulty.  “Did you know what a thought-form is, something that you might send a long way off and the thought-form might even speak?  When you go that way you get things you want to say mixed up with other things.”  Lodge asked Feda if she was saying that what she tells him is not quite dependable.

“No, it is like going in a dream,” Feda replied. “You get mixed up not with the mind, but with the subconscious mind of the medium.  When you dream, you dream about things that have been worrying you.” Feda then said that Myers wanted to take over and further explain.

“You talk about secondary personalities when you are in the body,” Lodge quoted Myers for the audience, pointing out that Myers came through in a different style than Feda.  “On our plane, in our condition, we have no secondary personalities, but when once we have established communication with your side and got a mental image of ourselves in your conditions, we may have a secondary personality,  or even a third. It is something that can be called to life by expectation.  Supposing I make a strong mental impression on the mind of a psychically sensitive person while yet I am talking with someone many mile away, that impression of myself which is Number Two, as I heard Feda remark just now, would not be in full consciousness with Number One.  The normal image of myself would be left with Number One.  The record once produced can be fixed on the medium’s mind again.  It requires only a touch to get it going.  I myself have often come into touch with a sensitive whom it has not been my intention to influence, but my proximity seemed to touch a spring in the medium.”

Feda came back briefly, commenting, “Mr. Fred is very interested in this.” But Myers spoke up immediately:  “Lodge, you know in dreams we are not at our best.  I remember dreams in which I seemed to be all the time dodging responsibility, running away from responsibility.  The elements of doubt and fear often enter into dreams. That is apt to be the same in what Feda terms the shadow self.”

Lodge told the audience that his wife, Mary, had recently transitioned and had joined the group with Myers.  He explained that she had overcome her initial repugnance to the subject long before her death.  When she communicated through Mrs. Leonard, he asked her about the so-called secondary personalities of the mediums.  Before she could respond, Raymond broke in and said, “Mother is awfully enthusiastic about all this, Father. I have had to hold her back.”  Sir Oliver asked Mary if she could talk with Phinuit, who had been Mrs. Piper’s spirit control when he first experimented with her in 1889.  “Not very much,” Mary replied.  To which Feda said, “What a funny answer.”  Mary Lodge continued: “Phinuit is not altogether through with me, Oliver.  There is a condition that makes it more difficult to talk to one kind of entity than another.  I could talk to Raymond very fully. I could talk to so many people, but certain people who exist, well they exist, but I do not understand everything about it yet. I understand that later on I shall be able to talk to Phinuit more easily.”

Sir Oliver then asked Mary if she had met John King, who had been the spirit control for Florence Cook,  Eusapia Palladino, and others.  “Yes, very much in the same way,” Mary answered. “I have spoken to the person who calls himself John King.  He presents different masks and calls them John King. Oliver, it is not always the soul that is the personality that communicates. I am beginning to understand it, and it does interest me.”  Sir Oliver commented that there is something odd about the personalities like John King and Phinuit, to which Feda reacted by asking if she (Feda) was odd.  Sir Oliver answered that his wife had not yet discussed her.

“There is one thing I want to explain to you,” Mary Lodge continued. “When people belong to each other through long association through love, through fleshly relationship, there is no difficulty in contact between those people, either from one plane to the other, or between them when they have both reached the same plane. The links exist.  But in the case of controls it is different. If we trace it back we shall find there has been a person, say, John King, and that it was necessary for him to do some good work for people on earth as a kind of compensation for his shortcoming while in the body. He probably chose to work with and through a certain instrument. That brings him in touch with other kinds of controls, for one control cannot work in an isolated way.  Demands are made on him and he may not wish to accede to those demands, and there you get what I call, Oliver, a mask.” 

Sir Oliver asked if by a mask she meant a “personation,” as when actors would wear masks to cloak their own personalities and take on the character of the people they portray. That is, the mask was, so to speak, an impersonation.  Mary replied “yes,” and went on, “As a rule, Oliver, when a conscientious guide knows that there is a mask being made of him he does his best to follow the mask to see that as much good and as little harm comes from it as possible. It is like ensuring a good understudy, or a good locum tenens.”

While the veridical information coming through various mediums convinced Sir Oliver of survival, the “mask” issue, along with the problems of subconscious coloring of messages by the medium, distortions and misinterpretations arising out of the filtering process as the messages passed from communicator to control to medium to himself, not to mention interference from earthbound spirits and the reality of mental telepathy, he remained cautious in everything he received from the spirit world. “…all the communication I receive, I receive with caution,” he concluded the lecture, “and with a consequent need for interpretation; but received in that spirit, I find them interesting and instructive.  I only hope that when my time comes I shall be able to do as well.  I am sure that communication is difficult, and I expect one will find oneself forgetting much that one had intended to say before entering into the dim condition of faculties necessitated by even partial and occasional control.”

Next blog post:  July 8

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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Dealing with the Fear of Death

Posted on 10 June 2019, 8:53

As I recently dealt with the possibility of a terminal condition, a friend asked if my conviction that we live on in a greater reality helped me overcome the fear of death. I’d be lying if I were to say that I don’t fear death, although it’s really more the dying process,  not death, per se, that I fear.  I’m referring to the infirmities, the feebleness, the limitations, the confinement, the pain, the sickness, the boredom, as well as the stresses placed on loved ones who live with the dying person.  The thought of being bedridden and helpless, possibly even requiring assistance in using the bathroom, scares me. 

With two preliminary laboratory tests pointing to the possibility of colon cancer, I did experience such fears not long ago, although it is difficult to separate the fear of dying from the fear of death and just as difficult to measure and compare the degree of the fear of death of the believer with that of the nihilist.  From what I have observed and heard, the nihilist does not have nearly the same peace of mind in the death experience that the true believer has, but it is a very subjective and gray area involving differing mindsets.  Moreover, ego enters the picture in any attempt to get truthful responses to one’s fears. 

Recently reissued by White Crow Books, From Life to Life, by Charles Drayton Thomas, (below) deals with such fears. It involves an aristocratic English family living through the later Victorian period and into the Edwardian years.  The happiness surrounding the family was dealt a serious blow when young Edgar was killed in fighting around Vimy Ridge in 1917.  “The very brightness of their previous outlook made the future appear more desolate by its sharp contrast,” Thomas wrote. “For William (Edgar’s father), there were ruined hopes buried in that grave on foreign soil; for the aunts (Agnes and Helen) came a [void] which nothing they could picture would ever fill. To all three of them, the future years must bring limitations of body and possibly of mind; but the arm on which they had expected to lean and the keen young brain which would have thought and planned for them, and which might have enlivened those later years…Edgar…was dead….The home took on a changed atmosphere.  Depression and resignation reigned unchallenged in each.  Edgar was gone.”


Some joy was restored, however, when Agnes and Helen began communicating with Edgar through the trance mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard. As William held the Christian belief in heaven, he was shocked when his sisters reported that they had talked with Edgar through Mrs. Leonard.  However, some evidential communication eventually brought conviction to him before he, too, transitioned and began communicating with his sisters through Mrs. Leonard.  In one communication he told Agnes how much hearing from Edgar through Leonard had helped him get through his final years.  “One cannot overestimate the value of knowing before one passes,” he communicated. “Why even the most ignorant and stupid person, who intended taking a journey to some strange land, would go out of his way to glean information about the geography, climate and conditions of that land. But the majority of those whom I and Edgar now help have been very badly equipped for this life.”

Edgar explained to Agnes that many do not accept the world beyond death because they will have to face the results of willfulness and selfishness during their earth life and that  
a person’s body (aura?) shows the degree of spiritual development.  “The more one lives in harmony with the Divine Mind, the more fully and perfectly does one live here.” 

Agnes told William that even though she had heard many good things about life on Other Side from both him and Edgar, she still dreaded the idea of death.  “Yes, I know there seems a strangeness about it,” Edgar replied.  “I felt that, too. I was tired of earth, tired of my body and tired of difficulties. I longed to go to Edgar, and yet something in me shrank from it. But when it came [to the time to leave the body] all fear departed. The door opened and I passed through.” 

My recent “scare” began with an annual “wellness exam,” part of my health insurance program.  It included an assortment of laboratory tests, one of which suggested possible colon cancer.  That resulted in my doctor recommending a test called Colordark, now regularly advertised on television.  I pointed out to the doctor that even if this more extensive test indicated colon cancer that I was not prepared to undergo treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.  At age 82, I am more inclined to let nature take its course.  I asked what would be gained by taking the test other than some peace of mind that would come with a negative test.  However, both the doctor and my wife convinced me that it is the right thing to do.  I submitted, and the test came back positive for colon cancer with a small asterisk indicating that there is only a 15 percent chance that it is colon cancer.  I was prepared to live with the 85 percent chance that I don’t have it, but I was further persuaded to take the next step, a colongraphy, which involves much more extensive testing.  Fortunately, that test came back negative for cancer. 

All three tests took a total of six weeks and I had more or less come to the conclusion during that time that death was on the horizon. While watching a baseball game on television, I felt great elation when the pitcher on my favorite team, the Oakland Athletics, threw a no-hitter.  As the last out was made, I jumped for joy, before quickly returning to reality and asking myself, “So what?  You might be dead by the end of the season. It’s just a game, not reality. Who cares?”  I found myself doing that quite often during those six weeks, constantly reminding myself that what little I do in this world really doesn’t matter much at this point.  Contemplating death results in a melancholic outlook on life, at least for me and for the many friends and relatives I have observed deal with it. 

Many doctors subscribe to a policy of no such tests after around age 75, concluding that the risks involved in treating the condition outweigh the risks of doing nothing, or to put it another way, the time remaining while doing nothing is greater than the time gained by doing something.  However, many doctors don’t seem to buy into that policy and in these days when so many of them are reluctant to treat patients on Medicare I worry that they will drop me as a patient and not be there if I need them for some non-terminal condition if I don’t take their advice.

The “dying” part aside, my recent experience allowed me to further test my conviction that consciousness survives death.  There were many times during those six weeks of anxiety that I examined my views on the subject while mulling over the best evidence in support of survival.  My conviction remained strong at the 98.8 percent certainty level.  I frequently went to bed at night thinking it would be best if I transitioned during my sleep and avoided the weeks or months of decay and deterioration.  I reasoned that if I were a bachelor that would be the preferred exit, but I worried about my wife finding my lifeless body upon awakening in the morning.

There were many times over those six weeks that I wondered how I would be dealing with the anxiety if I were a typical nihilist, expecting complete “lights out” when the heart stops pumping. I concluded that contemplating total extinction would be immeasurably more difficult and probably result in difficulty falling asleep each night.  I know that some nihilists claim they are not bothered by the idea of extinction, but, as I have said many times in prior blogs, I tend to sense that such “courage” is mere bravado, or as pioneering psychologist William James suggested, just so much “bosh” and “humbug.” 

To again quote Professor James: “The [moral nihilist] must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well – morality suffices.  But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.”

Back to Agnes and William, in spite of all the good news from William and Edgar, Agnes still expressed her dread of death, to which William said she was passing through a test of endurance.  “All are tested in one way or another,” William explained, “for earth is the testing place for the soul.  It is not meant to be a pleasure-ground, as so many seem to suppose.  God’s purpose is that character should be tested up to the hilt while we are on earth.  Those who escape it on earth get it here, and it is far better to be tested on earth than over here; for when one comes here the soul should have finished its schooling and be ready for wider opportunities and adventures of real life.”

Next blog post:  June 24 

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 “Second Death”  – Going into the Light?

Posted on 27 May 2019, 9:42


The term “second death” is found in the New Testament “Book of Revelation” four times, two of them referring to it as a “lake of fire” and suggesting that it is something experienced by very evil people. Bible scholars seem to agree that physical death is the “first” death, but beyond that interpretations become very convoluted. One popular fundamentalist interpretation puts it that he who has accepted Christ has already died the second death – death to sin.  Therefore, it cannot hurt him.  Another reference states that those who actually experience the second death end up in that lake of fire on the day of final judgment when souls are either admitted into heaven or cast into hell.

Although one might infer from biblical interpretations by fundamentalists that the second death means some kind of condemnation, the more metaphysical interpretations suggest just the opposite – a graduation from a lower state to a higher state, or moving from an earthbound state into the light.
The predominant metaphysical teaching, if I interpret it correctly, is that the second death takes place within hours or a few days for the spiritually advanced, but may take months of years in earth time for the spiritually challenged, those who remain “earthbound.”  In effect, the second death is an “awakening” to one’s condition based on one’s spiritual consciousness in the earth life.  The second death might be equated to the now popular expression, “going into the light” at the end of the tunnel as well as to the “Ground Luminosity” of the Buddhist.

This transition stage – between the first and second deaths – has been referred to as Hades, which is not synonymous with hell, as some religions would have us believe.  In the Hades state there may be great confusion, a “fire of the mind,” so to speak, by materialistic or spiritually challenged souls; hence the belief that Hades is the hell of religion.  In effect, Hades seems to be an intermediate or staging area where the soul must adjust its vibrations to the spirit world.  It is said that even Jesus needed a period of adjustment, or at least wanted to experience it so that he knew what others were going through.  Thus, he initially spent a day or more in Hades and then on the third day “rose into Heaven.”  That is, he apparently experienced the second death on the third day. 

Communicating through renowned Irish medium Geraldine Cummins, Frederic W. H. Myers, (below) one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research, said that he could not generalize as to the conditions in Hades, which he also referred to as the “place of shadows,” because conditions varied so much.  However, he stated that the “average man who has led a well-ordered life” may very well experience communion with deceased loved ones and see fragmentary happening of his earthly life, judging himself, before resting, seemingly in a veil while in a state of semi-suspended consciousness.  He added that three or four days of earth time may suffice for the Hades experience, but also pointed out that many souls “linger a long while in Hades and wander to and fro in its grim ways, encountering certain strange beings who hover near the borders of the physical world, who wake old sorrows and troubles in the minds of men, and who play upon the understandings of certain individuals they would possess while still in the flesh, dethroning the reason, stealing from man his birthright.”


Myers died on January 17, 1901 while in Rome.  The first communication from him came through Rosalie Thompson, a medium, to Professor Oliver Lodge and his wife on February 19, 1901.  However, it was clear that Myers was struggling to communicate.  He told the Lodges that he was confused when he first arrived on the other side, before he realized he was dead.  “I thought I had lost my way in a strange town, and I groped my way along the passage,” he said, adding that when he saw people that he knew were dead he thought they were only visions (hallucinations?).   

“The duration of the state of confusion that follows death varies greatly,” explained Alan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher of the nineteenth century. “It may be only a few hours, and it may be of several months, or even years,” Kardec wrote.  “Those with whom it lasts the least are they who, during the earthly life, have identified themselves most closely with their future state, because they are soonest able to understand their new situation.”

Kardec went on to say that there is nothing painful in this mental confusion for those who have lived an upright life. “He is calm, and his perceptions are those of a peaceful awakening out of sleep.  But for him whose conscience is not clean, it is full of anxiety and anguish that become more and more poignant in proportion as he recovers consciousness.”

One spirit communicated to Kardec that his state was a very happy one and that he no longer felt the pains he experienced during his final days in the earth life.  “The transition from the terrestrial life to the spirit life was, at first, something that I could not understand, and everything seemed incomprehensible to me; for we sometimes remain for several days without recovering our clearness of thought; but, before I died, I prayed that God would give me the power of speaking to those I love, and my prayer was granted.” 

Silver Birch, the spirit entity who spoke through the entranced Maurice Barbanell, said much the same thing.  “This [awakening] depends on the degree of awareness that the newcomer possesses,” he explained.  “If completely ignorant of the fact that life continues after earthly death, or if so indoctrinated with false ideas that understanding will take a long time, then there is a process of rest equivalent to sleep.”

Silver Birch went on to say that the time for realization is self-determined.  It can be short or long, as measured by our duration of time.  For the enlightened, at least those whose actions in the physical world were in accordance with their enlightenment, it is a speedy process.

A very similar message comes from the writings of medium Alice A. Bailey and her teacher, the Tibetan master, Djwhal Khul.  They point out that most people, being focused on the physical plane, experience a semi-consciousness in the period after death, usually one of emotional and mental bewilderment.  The etheric body of the spiritually-undeveloped person can linger for a long time near its discarded physical shell because the pull of the soul is not as potent as the material aspect is. 

The Tibetan Book of the Dead refers to this period of awakening as the “Ground Luminosity” or “Clear Light,” and says that the vast majority of people do not immediately recognize the Ground Luminosity and are therefore plunged into a state of unconsciousness.  As explained by Sogyal Rinpoche, the spiritual director of Rigpa, an international network of Buddhist groups and centers, “consciousness continues without the body and goes through a series of states called “bardos.”  The problem is that in the bardos “most people go on grasping at a false sense of self, with its ghostly grasping at physical solidity, and this continuation of that illusion, which has been at the root of all suffering in life, exposes them in death to more suffering, especially in the ‘bardo of becoming’.”

As I see it, the second death might be likened to the “second wind” of the endurance athlete. Even for the well-conditioned marathon runner, the first 150 to 200 yards of a race involves some stress and struggle as the heart and lungs are asked to suddenly quicken.  However, after around 30 seconds, the second wind kicks in and the body settles down into a relatively effortless rhythm.  It is like a car going through first and second gears before reaching high gear.  Likewise, the spiritually evolved person will experience some stress and confusion as the spirit body is released from the physical body, some adjustments and adaptation to the quickened vibration being necessary.

Going to the other extreme, one might liken the “earthbound” spirits – those taking some time to experience the second death – to the overweight couch potato who attempts to run a marathon.  He might run for 200 yards, but instead of getting a second wind, he is forced to slow to a trot or just walk, and even surrender in frustration.  While the Olympic marathoner will finish the marathon distance in a little over two hours, the couch potato might take two days or longer to cover the 26.2-miles, with many rest breaks along the way.  In between the two extremes, there are many degrees of both spiritual fitness and athletic fitness.      According to those who see more than a single spirit body, there can be a third death and even a fourth death as the spirit sheds the additional bodies or goes to an even higher vibration.

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 Eva C a medium or a fake?

Posted on 13 May 2019, 8:19

If you put the name “Marthe Béraud” (also known as Eva Carrière or just Eva C) into an Internet search, the chances are that the first thing to pop up will be a Wikipedia entry,  and you’ll read that she was nothing more than a fraudulent “psychic.”  If, however, you go on to the second selection, the PSI Encyclopedia, sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), you’ll get a much more complete history on her, one that offers objective reports and from which you might accept that she was a true materialization medium, even if not a particularly strong one.

The Wikipedia “bio”  begins by saying Béraud (hereinafter “Eva”) was born in France in 1886 and was a prominent spiritualist and a psychic.  The biographer does not explain in what way she was “prominent,” if she was in fact involved in the Spiritualist movement, which I doubt.  One might infer that the biographer does not know the difference between a psychic and a medium or between a spiritualist and a Spiritualist (with a capital “S”). 

The biographer goes on to say that Eva (below) claimed to materialize a spirit called Bien Boa, a 300-year-old Brahmin Hindu, in 1905, when living with her father, a French officer, in Algiers. The biographer does mention that Professor Charles Richet, a physiologist, was present at “other sittings” and that he reported that Boa moved around the room and touched him.  However, the article goes on to say that a newspaper revealed Boa to be a hoax and that a photograph revealed Boa was a man dressed up in cloak, helmet and beard.  A newspaper revealed and a photograph revealed?  So much for scientific reporting. As if it is factual or relevant, the bio goes on to say that Eva had a sexual relationship with her elder, Juliette Bisson, with whom she performed during her seances.

The 22 references listed for the Wikipedia bio appear to be mostly, if not all, second-, third- and fourth-hand reports by “skeptics” who never observed Eva C.  Some of the “authorities” cited weren’t even born at the time Eva was being studied by a number of scientists.  Interestingly, the reports and books by the three scientists who studied her the most – Richet, a professor of medicine at the University of Paris and the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, Gustave Geley, a French physician and Laureate of the French Medical Faculty at the University of Lyons, and Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, a German neurologist – are not listed among the 22 references. 

The well-researched SPR entry on Eva is authored by Benjamin Steigmann and extends to about 12,300 words. It appears to touch all bases, and the primary references are the three scientists who studied her the most, all three being convinced that she was a genuine medium. 

Over a four-year period (1909-1913), Schrenck-Notzing carried out 180 experiments with Eva.  His controls were so strict that he required an examination of all cavities of her body, including the rectum and vagina, to rule out anything being smuggled into the laboratory room.  “The productions of Eva C. are undoubtedly genuine, and only a malicious prejudice could doubt the reality of the occurrences,” declared Schrenck-Notzing, who studied a number of other mediums over a 40-year period. It might be kept in mind that Schrenck-Notzing was not a Spiritualist, Spiritist, or even a spiritualist.  In fact, he was a materialist and believed the spirit hypothesis was “unscientific.”  As he saw it, the phenomena all originated in Eva’s subconscious mind.  However, according to one reference, Dr. Gerda Walther, his assistant, Schrenck-Notzing did not entirely exclude the spiritualistic theory.

Schrenck-Notzing reported that materializations usually liquified or evaporated when exposed to too much light or touch. “The mysterious intelligence, which appears to be concerned in this prepatory work, evidently wishes to make face and head types optically visible, but requires a certain time for doing so, which may amount to as much as an hour,” he wrote in his 1923 book, Phenomena of Materialization, further noting that the materialized hands produce by or through Eva sometimes showed no signs of life and at other times showed their living character by grasping objects held out to them, even digging their nails into the skin of his hands.  Since he didn’t believe in spirits, it is not entirely clear what he had in mind as the “mysterious intelligence.”

Richet and Geley collaborated in their study of the young French woman.  Richet explained that the ectoplasm exuded by Eva, usually came from her mouth but at other times from the top of her head, from her nipples and the ends of her fingers, and was initially invisible. “Then one observes a whitish steam taking the shape of gauze or muslin, in which a hand or arm develops, gains consistency, then moves,” he added.

“I shall not waste time in stating the absurdities, almost the impossibilities, from a psycho-physiological point of view, of this phenomena,” Richet wrote of the many materializations he witnessed, with both Eva and other mediums. “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 has also 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.”


Richet,  who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substance, explained that a kind of liquid or pasty jelly emerged from the mouth or the breast of Eva and organized itself by degrees.  The materializations were usually gradual, beginning with a rudimentary shape and complete forms and human faces only appearing later on.  “At first these formations are often very imperfect,” he explained.  “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 appear seems to be the materialization of a semblance, and not of a being.  But in some cases, the materialization is perfect.” 

As for Bien Boa, Richet was absolutely certain that no fraud was involved – no servant acting like a spirit, no trap doors, no hallucination, no hypnotism, no trick of any kind.  “No legerdemain can produce a living hand that melts in the hand that holds it,” he wrote, further mentioning that he saw the arm of Bien Boa take form from the ectoplasm coming from Eva’s mouth and shoulders.  “I have seen the form of Bien Boa disappear into the floor under my eyes, but a visual sensation is not nearly so certain as a tactile one.”  Moreover, he observed Bien Boa five or six times, not just once.  But like Schrenck-Notzing, Richet subscribed to the subconscious mind theory, rather than spirits, although indications are that such was his public and “scientific” position and not his private one, at least later in life. 

The very hokey nature of most of the materializations, as seen in various photographs, lend themselves to fraud, until one asks him- or herself why a charlatan would think that such bizarre manifestations, especially those that appear like cardboard cutouts, would fool anybody.  As Richet and Geley came to understand it, the fact that nearly all the forms and objects produced by or through Eva were crude, rudimentary, fragmentary, amorphous or defective in one way or another did not suggest fraud.  Quite the contrary, they served as evidence, Geley declared, of her good faith.  “How should the medium, ignorant as she was of natural science, have conceived the idea of simulating a rudiment?” he asked, going on to mention that he had seen in certain cases a face appear flat, and then become three dimensional, entirely or partially.

“The most remarkable materializations which I have myself observed are those produced by Eva in my laboratory during three consecutive months of the winter of 1917-1918,” Geley reported. “In the bi-weekly séances in collaboration with Madame Bisson, the Medical Inspector General M. Calmette, M Jules Courtier, and M. LeCour, we obtained a series of records of the greatest interest.  We saw, touched, and photographed representations of heads and faces formed from the original substance (ectoplasm).  These were formed under our eyes, the curtains being half-drawn.  Sometimes they proceeded from a cord of solid substance issuing from the medium, sometimes they were progressively developed in a fog of vaporous substance condensed in front of her, or at her side.”

Geley stressed that the experiments were carried out under strict controls, the curtain necessary to protect the ectoplasm from damaging light.  They were held in his Paris laboratory, to which no one was permitted beforehand.  Eva was completely undressed in his presence and then dressed in a tight garment, which was sewn up the back and at the wrists.  Her hair and the cavity of her mouth were examined by both himself and his collaborators before and after the séances.  Eva was walked backwards to the wicker chair in the cabinet and her hands were always held in full sight outside the curtains, the room always quite well lighted the whole time.  “I do not say merely, ‘There was no trickery,’ I say ‘There was no possibility of trickery,” Geley stated.  “Nearly all the materializations took place under my own eyes, and I have observed the whole of their genesis and development.”

Geley added that the better materialized the forms were, the more power of self-direction they seemed to have.  “They evolved round Eva, sometimes at some distance from her,” he continued.  “One of these faces appeared first at the opening of the curtain, of natural size, very beautiful and with a remarkably life-like appearance.  At another séance, through the curtain of the cabinet, I could feel with my hands the contact of human body which caused the curtain to undulate. (Eva was stretched out in the arm-chair, in full sight, and her hands were held.).”

While both Schrenck-Notzing and Richet (below) publicly rejected the spirit hypothesis, Geley came to accept it, if not totally at the time he studied Eva, after his study of Polish medium Franek Kluski and other mediums who produced similar materializations. “The lights, the touches, the apparitions of faces – all showed a directing intelligence which seemed conscious and autonomous,” he concluded, agreeing with Dr. William Crawford, an Irish researcher who initially rejected the spirit hypothesis and then came to accept it.  “The mouldings (below) showed obvious collaboration between the operating entities (whatever they may be) and ourselves.  For instance, the mould of a foot was given at our request.  Similarly it was on my demand that I afterwards received at Warsaw the moulds of a hand and forearm up to the elbow, free from any of the defects previously mentioned.”



Geley’s more detailed explanation and those of other researchers accepting the spirit hypothesis seem to suggest that while the “entities” or spirits were attempting to project images into the ectoplasm by thought, their ability to do so was limited by the power of the mediums as well as by their own power of projection. The latter has been likened to asking a human to draw a picture of him- or herself.  A few will look like the person, but most will resemble cartoon characters or scarecrows.

Sadly, all that is likely a bit too much for the so-called skeptics to grasp. 

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 27

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Are They Really ‘Signs’ from the Other Side?

Posted on 29 April 2019, 8:30

If I happened to be thinking about my deceased brother, Dennis, and came upon a coin on the sidewalk with his birth year on it, I would be amazed and astonished, even flabbergasted, whatever that means, but I would not assume that his spirit somehow read my thoughts and manipulated matter in order to let me know that he was looking in on me. I would accept it as possibly synchronistic but most likely a coincidence.  That is not to suggest that I don’t believe my brother survives in a larger life, but that my boggle threshold isn’t high enough to believe that he is capable of materializing a coin with the year 1941 on it and depositing it in a place for me to find at the very time I am thinking about him.

However, based on the stories in his latest book, Signs from the Other Side, Bill Philipps, a psychic medium, would likely see it as a sign from my brother. His book is a collection of such “signs” – seeing a license plate with a loved one’s initials and birthdate while grieving his loss; hearing the loved one’s favorite song on a car radio just after reminiscing about him; having a certain number associated with a deceased person come up over and over again in different ways, and other strange coincidences and synchronicities.

I had not heard of Philipps before, and when I searched for information about him I was immediately put on guard when reading a 2015 interview in which he stated he did not see Donald Trump winning the presidency.  While I understand that precognition comes in fuzzy shades of gray and that psychic abilities and mediumistic abilities are two different things, his credibility was immediately in question.  To his credit, however, he apparently foresaw a conflict between the popular vote and the electoral college vote, even though he resolved the conflict against Trump.

Nevertheless, my further research turned up many five-star reviews of his first book, Expect the Unexpected, and indicated that he had many fans, a number of them attesting to evidential readings with him. I decided to read that book first and found it extremely interesting and informative.  His credibility as a clairvoyant medium, if not as a psychic forecaster, was restored, and I returned to the second book.

I found the first section of his second book, about how he became a medium and how he received messages, very interesting, but when I got to the stories about the “signs,” my skeptical side got the best of me and I tossed the book aside, less than halfway through it.  In spite of all I had read about the paranormal and spirit world over the past 30 years, I could not bring myself to believe that spirits can see so clearly into the future, well enough for a person to see a meaningful license plate that would give her the answer to a question on her mind or that they can arrange for a person to hear a meaningful song on the radio at an opportune time, or control birds to act in a certain way day after day.  Perhaps the higher self can arrange it all or maybe it has something to do with a “universal mind,” but those are beyond my comprehension.

I have had many synchronistic experiences during my lifetime. In fact, I experienced one within 24 hours of typing the rough draft of this blog.  While I was reading a report on a baseball game on my tablet, and as I came to the words “right at home,” I heard those same three words coming from the television – not a second before or second after. This happens quite often, although I can never find any meaning to these random word coincidences and am therefore reluctant to call them synchronicities. (Within three or four seconds of typing the last sentence, before I even saved it, we experienced a power outage that lasted for only about five seconds, the first power outage we’ve had in several months.  Unlike other power outages, there were no high winds.  Should I assume that it was a “sign” to suggest that there is meaning to the random word coincidences?)
I had no sooner given up on Philipps’s second book when my wife Gina and I decided to watch a Netflix movie, “Five Flights Up,” about an aging couple who were selling their apartment in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, because the building had no elevator and they were finding it more difficult to climb the five flights of stairs.  The movie brought back memories of my grandfather’s fifth-floor apartment in the same Williamsburg neighborhood.  Specifically, I recalled visiting my grandfather in 1949 and racing my brother, Dennis, up those five flights of stairs on several occasions.  As he was a few years younger, I’d give him a one-floor head start before I gave chase.  I don’t think I had ever recalled those races up the stairs until watching the movie.
When the movie showed a subway scene, I recalled the time Dennis and I took a subway from the Marcy Ave. station in Brooklyn to the Polo Grounds to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play the New York Giants, and I wondered if kids only twelve and seven would ride the subway alone these days. Other fleeting memories flashed in my brain during and after the movie.

The following day, I received an email and did not recognize the email address. The subject line read “Childhood Memories – How times have changed.”  The message simply read, “Aloha, Dennis” and was followed by a dozen or so photos from the 1940s and ‘50s.  As the only Dennis (other than my brother) who came to mind was my wife’s cousin, a former Hawaii resident now living in Ohio, I assumed the email was from him, even though it was not the same email address we had for him.  After determining that it was not from my wife’s cousin, I sent an email to the mysterious sender and determined that it was an old sportswriter friend from Hawaii, also named Dennis, who now lives in Oregon. I had not heard from him in several years.  Since he is not a believer in spiritual or psychic matters, I did not attempt to quiz him on why he thought to send me that particular email at that time.

The possibility that an old friend named Dennis was somehow influenced by my brother Dennis in spirit to send an email to me with the subject line “Childhood Memories” and with pictures from the 1940s and 1950s, within hours of having childhood memories of him from that time period, at the same time being signed simply, “Aloha Dennis,” occurred to me, but it is too much of a stretch for me to accept.  However, it was enough for me to return to Philipp’s book and read it to the end. There were more interesting stories, but I continued to favor coincidence as an explanation for nearly all of them.

“Everything I have discussed and every story you have read in this book comes down to awareness,” Philipps concludes in the book’s Epilogue. “Each of us has an antenna that can pick up energy and information from the spirit world all day and every day. The issue is whether we tune out the distractions of this world, and tune in to and recognize that information and energy the antenna is attracting. We all have the capability to tune in at a deeper level, but we need to have that awareness to do it….”

Apparently, I have to work on tuning in at a deeper level.

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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Why the Titanic Story Fascinates Us

Posted on 15 April 2019, 8:52

As today, April 15, marks the 107th anniversary of the day the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic, it seems like a good time to recall that disaster and examine the fascination we have with it.  No doubt the many movies made of the disaster, especially the 1997 epic film, play a big part in our continuing knowledge of and interest in the story, but that only leads to the question of why movie makers find it so much more interesting than other disasters. The sinking of the Dona Paz in 1987, south of Manila in The Philippines, involved 4,386 fatalities, the worst peacetime maritime disaster in history, almost three times as many as the 1,517 lost on the Titanic, and yet relatively few people remember the Dona Paz tragedy. 

As I wrote in the Introduction of my book, Transcending the Titanic, The Titanic story offers us the opportunity to examine death in a safe haven with the added bonus that, unlike most stories involving death, the parties actually have time to contemplate their deaths, some to escape, some to succumb.  More than any other modern story, the Titanic might be viewed as a microcosm of life, a “community” isolated in the vast reaches of the ocean, one offering wealth and poverty, the opulence of first class and the drabness of steerage class, with a middle or second class in between.  Every type of emotion, mindset, virtue and vice is represented – love and fear, hope and despair, courage and fear, bravery and cowardice, arrogance and humbleness, pomp and shame, selfishness and brotherhood.  To accent it all, the iceberg impacted by the ship was reported as being a rare black berg looming high over the vessel, as if a giant evil predator. More than anything though, the Titanic story represents the struggle between man’s inner self and outer self, a struggle which many people are interested in but prefer to avoid except in books or movies.
One must also consider the era in which the tragedy took place.  It was a time when science was conquering religion and the educated class had not yet been able to reconcile its former religious beliefs with the “truths” provided by science.  Beginning in 1859, Darwinism accelerated the underlying Weltschmerz (despair). More and more educated people began to see life as a march toward an abyss of nothingness, toward extinction, toward obliteration.  Biological evolution had, for many, nullified God, and few seemed to be able to grasp an afterlife without God; thus, it was also dismissed.  Suddenly, life had no meaning beyond what one could leave behind for his descendants or future generations, but even this worthy goal left the reasoning man wondering to what end the progeny or to which generation full fruition.

Whether entirely fiction or not is unclear, but in a 1986 book titled The Secret Conan Doyle Correspondence, author Leslie Vernet Harper quotes her father Samuel Harper, supposedly a Titanic survivor though not listed on the passenger manifest, as seeing the Titanic as a symbol of the times and its fate as a foreboding cosmic message:  “Words are inadequate to convey the awesome impact of that enormous floating palace – the epitome in every respect of the biggest and most lavish the Western world had to offer in material luxury. In an era idolatrously committed to the proposition that science unquestionably could overcome every obstacle standing between mankind and Utopia, the Titanic was living, dynamic proof of this utopian ideal.”

As Harper further viewed it, the disaster changed the world in unfathomably deep ways. “The death of the Titanic tipped the scales in favor of those who, like historian Oswald Spengler, looked for the ‘going under of the West.’  And it fatally shook the confidence of the optimists, those who thought it possible to resolve mankind’s dilemma through science without any moral improvement in man himself…Now, the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic having demonstrated the inadequacy of the science alternative, there remained only what a majority viewed as unworkable – the need for mankind to live the Christian ideal.” 

“We have measured the earth, the stars, and the depths of the seas; we have discovered riverbeds and mountains on the moon,” wrote renowned Russian author Leo Tolstoy.  “We have built clever machines, and every day we discover something new ... But something, some most important thing, is missing, and we do not know exactly what. We feel bad because we know lots of unnecessary things but do not know the most important — ourselves.”

Thus viewed, the Titanic story may represent a search for meaning.

There is one story involving the Titanic, however, that is little known – one of unusual heroism.  It was told by Colonel Archibald Gracie, one of the survivors. He called it a “transcendent piece of heroism that will remain fixed in my memory as the most sublime and coolest exhibition of courage and cheerful resignation to fate and fearlessness of death.”  After the ship plunged to the bottom, Gracie managed to crawl onto an Englehardt raft that was occupied by a dozen or so others. When another swimmer approached the raft, he was turned away by several occupants as it was filled to capacity. In a “deep manly voice of a powerful man,” which Gracie did not recognize, Gracie heard the swimmer reply: “All right, boys; good luck and God bless you.”  The man then swam away. 

To my knowledge the brave swimmer was never identified.  When I first read Gracie’s book many years ago, I wondered if that swimmer might have been William T. Stead, a British journalist who was observed by other passengers courageously facing up to his demise as the ship was sinking. But as I did research for my book, I came upon information suggesting that Stead was hit by the falling funnel, and other information that leads me to believe that the brave swimmer was more likely Robert J. Bateman, a 51-year-old Baptist minister and physician from Jacksonville, Florida. A second-class passenger, Bateman (below) had been visiting relatives in Bristol, England and taking part in a revival. He was returning to Jacksonville with his sister-in-law, Ada Balls, and other members of the revival group.  Ada Balls later recalled: “Brother forced me into the last boat, saying he would follow me later.  I believe I was the last person to leave the ship.  Brother threw his overcoat over my shoulders as the boat was being lowered away and as we neared the water, he took his black necktie and threw it to me with the words, ‘Goodbye, God bless you!’”

As Bateman reportedly said “God bless you!” to his sister-in-law before leaving her, and the rejected swimmer said “God bless you!” before swimming away, Bateman emerges as the best candidate for the heroic swimmer mentioned by Gracie. Moreover, Bateman was a second-class passenger and Gracie a first-class passenger, which could explain why Gracie did not recognize the man’s voice.


Ten days after the disaster, Bateman’s widow received a letter her husband had mailed to her when the Titanic had stopped for more passengers in Ireland.  “I feel that my trip has not been in vain,” Bateman wrote. “God has singularly blessed me. We had a glorious revival… It was the Time of My Life.”  His nephew, Tom, also received a letter mailed from Ireland. “Tom,” he wrote, “if this ship goes to the bottom, I shall not be there, I shall be up yonder. Think of it!”

Later, when the family opened up Bateman’s locked roll-top desk, a poem he had written was found on top of his papers. It read:

Do you shudder as you picture
All the horrors of that hour?
Ah! But Jesus was beside me
To sustain me by His power.
And He came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread
And with Jesus’ arm to cling to
Could I have one doubt or dread?

Bateman’s body was recovered three weeks later by a cable-laying vessel.

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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My Exploration of the Deepest Part of Hell

Posted on 01 April 2019, 7:59

I had an unbelievable experience recently, one in which a spirit guide gave me a tour of hell.  We passed through a number of realms of hell and I witnessed souls who had committed varying degrees of vice and corruption. At the very lowest realm, I had expected to find mass murderers, serial killers and the like, but I was in for a big surprise. The primary occupants in that realm had committed no statutory crimes, but there they were. 

The guide, who goes by the name Hans, said that he belonged to a group soul representing the essence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the physician turned mystery writer best known for his creation of Sherlock Holmes. Hans explained that he had been instructed to give me a tour of the lowest realms, so that I would have a better understanding of it all and be better able to report on it.  He said most people do not properly understand what hell is.  It’s not nearly as horrific as orthodox religions have made it out to be, nor is it eternal.  Nevertheless, it is extremely dark, depressing and challenging. 

Hans warned me that it would be a fast tour as the vibrational rate in those lower realms makes it feel like one is holding his breath under water.  “You can stand it for only so long,” he said, adding that he would later take me on a tour of higher realms, but, for the same reason, I could go only so high.  I’m not advanced enough to withstand the higher vibrations.  He likened that experience to a person climbing Mt. Everest and experiencing oxygen depletion.  One has to gradually adapt to the higher vibrations in his or her spiritual evolution and thus, after death, settle in at the vibration he or she has developed during the physical life. 

“Take a deep breath and follow me,” Hans said, as he dove into what looked like a swamp of muck and mire.  I hesitated but followed.  I found myself in a dark environment where everyone seemed to be in a stupor of some kind.  Hans explained that they still had not awakened to the fact that they had left the physical world.  It was as if they had fallen asleep and not yet awakened to their new reality. I had expected to be among murderers, rapists, and others of that kind, but the first person or soul I noticed was in a wheelchair on a treadmill, going nowhere at a fairly fast pace, seemingly gasping for air.  I asked Hans what happened to him.  He asked the soul’s guide standing nearby with arms folded and was told that the soul was not convicted of any crimes during his earth life, but he didn’t play fair.  After his disabled father died, he continued to use his father’s handicap placard in his car for preferred and free parking, thereby cheating the system and others.  “Wow!” I reacted.  “He was a reasonably good person when alive in the flesh,” Hans explained after further communicating with the soul’s spirit guide, “so he won’t be here long.  He’ll awaken and move up to the second sphere soon.” 

Then I noticed another person, or soul.  He wasn’t on a treadmill, but he was holding a medium-sized suitcase and continually pumping it over his head. He appeared exhausted.  I asked Hans what was going on with him.  “He was one of those baggage buttheads you often run into when traveling,” he replied.  “He always brought an oversized bag with him as a carry-on, along with a large mountaineering pack that he called his handbag, then when he got on the plane, he threw them both in the first overhead bin before continuing to his seat in the back of the plane.  The airlines let him get away with it, but he cheated the system and was inconsiderate of those who properly checked their bags. He’s now dealing with his self-centeredness.”

I shook my head in dismay at such seemingly trivial transgressions resulting in a place in hell.  “It’s not really hell,” Hans explained. “That’s just a word people in the material life have been given by the churches.  It’s a learning experience and more like a bad dream, although you could call it a nightmare in the very lowest realms, which we will get to.  You might call it a ‘fire of the mind.’  It’s a state of mind that they brought on themselves and for which they now have to deal with and learn from.”  Hans further mentioned that there was no judgment by God or any celestial tribunal.  Souls just “make their own beds” in this regard. 

As he was communicating, I noticed a woman standing over an upside-down shopping cart while spinning its wheels with her hands. “What’s that all about?” I asked Hans.  “She is one of those people who push grocery carts off the store premises and just leave them on the street, never returning it to the store property,” he remarked.  “In effect, she was a thief and is now coming to understand that.”

A man sat in front of a television set watching an old Bette Davis movie.  Hans asked the man’s guide what was going on with him.  The guide explained that he was a copyright infringer during his lifetime, illegally copying many movies and enjoying them at no cost to himself.  Now, he is watching the same movie over and over again.  “He’s watched it 417 times and must watch it 522 times before he is allowed to move to a higher vibration,” the guide explained, adding that 522 is the number of videos he had pirated during his earth life.  I recalled seeing that Bette Davis movie once and couldn’t imagine what it would take to watch it even a second time.

Hans could see that I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath much longer, so he told me that we would quickly dive to a lower realm.  “Would that be murderers and the like?” I asked him.  “No,” he responded, “that’s somewhat lower, but the stench at the next one is a bit much, so hold your nose.”  When we got down there, I observed souls sitting zombie-like at computers while picking and pecking away.  I looked at some of the computer screens and saw nothing but nonsensical gibberish.  I asked Hans what they did wrong.  “They were computer hackers,” he said with a nod and a shake of his head.

I told Hans I didn’t think I could hold on much longer, so he said we’d best skip the next realm, where some of the mass murderers and serial killers were, and go to the very bottom, what he referred to as the “pit.”  “You mean there are souls at lower levels than the murderers,” I reacted.  He nodded in the affirmative. “Who were these souls?” I wondered.  I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when we reached the pit.  The inhabitants had their heads spinning around and around while spewing vomit that engulfed them up to their necks.

“My God, Hans, what did they do?”  Hans explained that many of them were people who wrote and edited the Wikipedia and Rationalwiki entries dealing with spiritual and paranormal matters on the Internet.  “They ignorantly and maliciously disparaged good people, intentionally distorting the truth and robbing many people of the hope they looked for in overcoming times of despair,” Hans explained. “These demented souls acted out of self-righteous viciousness and vituperation. They’re not here for eternity, but it may seem like that to them now.”   

The stench on that realm was beyond human senses and comprehension.  I couldn’t take it any longer and signaled to Hans that I had to ascend.  We pushed off and shot upward.  It was then that I awakened and realized it was only a day dream, my subconscious having run amok with wishful thinking. 

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.

Happy April Fools’ Day!!

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Dealing with ‘Doubting Thomas’ Syndrome

Posted on 18 March 2019, 9:06

Even though I have long followed the sport of track & field, I shake my head in disbelief when I look at the eight-foot ceiling in my house and try to visualize someone jumping over a bar that high.  Yet, I know that the world record in the high jump is eight-feet, one-half inch, by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, set on July 27, 1993.  I didn’t see that world-record jump, but I can believe it, as I’ve seen other humans jump three or four inches under that height and I am familiar with the high standards of officiating in the sport. I don’t have to see it to believe it.

However, I have encountered countless skeptics who refuse to believe in certain psychic phenomena because they can’t do it themselves, because they’ve never witnessed it, or because it defies the laws of materialistic science.  They suffer from “Doubting Thomas Syndrome,” so-called because the apostle Thomas refused to believe in the resurrected Christ until he could touch his wounds.  I’ll admit that many things in the psychic realm which I’ve read or heard about exceed my boggle threshold and so I am skeptical to some degree or another. But when I read the testimony of distinguished scientists and scholars who have witnessed it countless times under controlled conditions, my skepticism begins to erode toward belief. Then again, when I see illusionists pull off amazing tricks on television, such as on “The Carbonaro Effect,” I begin to wonder if somehow those researchers were victims of some very clever illusionists. I’ll also admit to be being a pretend illusionist about 55 years ago (see photo).


I’ll usually reason my way back to a high degree of belief in the phenomenon by concluding that there is manipulation of some kind going on with the photography that the home viewer can’t see, but I continue to wonder how the victims of the trick on television are so easily duped. While I can accept that even world-renowned scientists, such as Sir William Crookes, who claimed to have witnessed floating accordions, levitations, and other amazing phenomena with medium D. D. Home, could have been duped a time or two, I struggle to believe that he and so many intelligent men and women could have been fooled dozens, even hundreds of times.

Professor Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, claimed to have witnessed medium Eusapia Palladino more than 200 times.  “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,” said Richet, who also observed phenomena with many other mediums.  “Yes, it is absurd; but no matter – it is true,” Richet asserted.  It should be noted that even though Richet was certain no trickery was involved, he still refused to believe in spirits.  He saw it as some kind of subconscious workings of the medium’s mind. 

My friend Doug is also a long-time follower of track & field and has even written books about “unbelievable” feats in the athletic arena. He has no difficulty in accepting an eight-foot high jump, but he refuses to believe that anybody can bend a spoon without applying physical force.  He believes that all reports of such a phenomenon are just so much hooey. Doug is a big fan of James “The Amazing” Randi and recalls that Randi supposedly exposed British psychic Uri Geller’s sleight of hand in spoon-bending on television some years ago.  As I recall, there is another side to that story, but I don’t remember exactly what it is and I am not interested enough to research it.
About 15 years ago, I attended a conference in which a medium (I think it was Anne Gehman) gave a spoon-bending demonstration and then had forks and spoons distributed to all in the audience, around a hundred people. I don’t recall the ritual that the medium led us all through, but I believe it was something like closing our eyes and gently rubbing the neck of the spoon or fork between the thumb and the forefinger while visualizing it bending.  However, I do recall that more than half the people in the audience, including my wife, Gina, had spoons and forks curl up on them without physical force being applied. Several people, including the woman sitting to my right, had the four prongs on the forks they were holding curl up into tight knots.  I confess to being one of the failures that night.


When I told Doug about what I had observed at that conference, he still refused to believe it possible. The closed eyes and the light finger rubbing suggested fraud to him.  He asked that Gina demonstrate the next time we visit his neck of the woods.  I told him that she really hasn’t tried to bend a spoon since then, but I’m pretty sure that if she were to try it again in front of him that she would fail.  Doug saw my reply as an admission that we were somehow duped, even though we don’t know how we were duped.  When I told him we still had the spoon (see photo), he suggested we have a metallurgical test done on it and we would discover that it was a special cheap metal that bent from the friction generated by the heat from the light rubbing.
If you put “spoon-bending” into an Internet search, you’ll get the skeptic’s view on how it is done while also finding a few explanations suggesting real telekinetic or psychokinetic powers, or mind over matter.  One such site states that you have to “be one with spoon” and feel the energy between your fingers.

I don’t know how the spoons curl up, but I am more inclined to accept some mind-over-matter explanation, possibly greatly enhanced by the group energy, over cheap metal.  The four prongs curling up on the fork held by the person sitting to my right is ten times more mind-boggling to me than the curling of the spoon, especially since the woman’s fingers were supposed to be rubbing the neck of the fork and not the prongs. The skeptic will likely conclude that the woman was a “plant” by the medium.  If so, there were many such plants in the audience.

I can’t explain it, but I do know that Gina was not trying to trick anybody and I am reasonably certain that the woman sitting next to me was not part of an act.  I’m not a Doubting Thomas.  If I were a Doubting Thomas, here are the questions I would have regarding that eight-foot high jump:

• How come Sotomayor never replicated that world-record jump?
• How come nobody has replicated it in more than a quarter century?
• How do we know the officials weren’t bribed by the Castro regime of Cuba?
• Did each of the officials have proper training in measuring techniques?  Did at least one of them have a Ph.D. in mathematics? 
• How do we know that the officials weren’t drugged and weren’t hallucinating?
• Could the officials have been hypnotized to think they were seeing 96.5 inches on the measuring device? 
• How do we know that the measuring device wasn’t ‘doctored’ beforehand and off a few inches?
• Is the measuring device still available for calibration?  If it is, how can we be sure it is the same one used 26 years ago?
• Was Sotomayor tested for performance-enhancing drugs?  If so, could he have used one of those drugs that defies testing?
• Did anyone check Sotomayor’s shoes for hidden springs?
• Could an illusionist have been employed to make it appear that he cleared the bar when he actually went under it?

Is there anything we can accept as absolute truth?

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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Awakening ‘In Times of War’

Posted on 04 March 2019, 9:18

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

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Is There a Heaven in Judaism?

Posted on 18 February 2019, 9:10

In her recently released book, Changed in a Flash, Elizabeth Krohn (below) laments the fact that her Jewish faith did not prepare her for her near-death experience and had no answers for her after it took place. She didn’t begin to get answers for it until some 25 years later, after corresponding with Dr. Bruce Greyson, an NDE researcher at the University of Virginia, and then meeting John Price, an Episcopalian priest who works with people who have had NDEs.  “This priest lent credibility to my near-death experience, something I had searched in vain for when I tried to speak to my own clergy about my experiences,” she explains, stating that her attempts to speak to four different rabbis at her synagogue were mostly dismissive and seemingly uncomfortable for them.


Krohn’s NDE took place in 1988, when she was 28, in the parking lot of her synagogue. After being stuck by lightning, she found herself in a garden that “is beyond description” and she immediately came to understand that time is not linear.  Knowledge came to her in the voice of her beloved grandfather, although she now doesn’t think it was her grandfather.  When she returned to the earth life, she was not the same person she had been.  “The new Elizabeth would see life in varying shades of gray,” she explains.  “Nothing would be black and white ever again.”  Among the aftereffects were the ability to see auras, precognition, and synaesthesia, the latter described as a neurological phenomenon in which a person might “hear’ colors, “see” music, and “taste” shapes. She also claims to have received a phone call from her deceased grandfather in the middle of the night, her bedroom being filled with “odourless smoke” as her grandfather spoke with her. 

As she now sees it, the experience was to help her understand that death is not the end of life.  The lightning strike was, according to her grandfather or whoever the guide was, “in the contract” before she was born.

Raised in Reform Judaism and still actively attending services in her synagogue in Houston, Texas, Krohn devotes several pages to her disappointment with her faith.  She opines that Reform Judaism “has become so heavily focused on social justice that it doesn’t even matter if you maintain Jewish mores, observe the Sabbath, or probably even believe in God…”  Reform Judaism, she says, has become a political organization with not much of a spiritual component.  The rabbis she consulted about her NDE apparently had no clue as to what she had experienced and made no effort to comprehend it.

On the same day I was reading Krohn’s words, Annie Karni, a New York Times correspondent, criticized President Donald Trump for saying, during his State of the Union message, that “They came down from heaven” when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau.  Karni attempted to blast Trump by tweeting that “Jews don’t believe in heaven.”  Karni apparently met with much criticism from the Jewish community for her tweet, but her tweet no doubt represents the belief of many practicing Jews, who are taught to focus on the earthly life and give no heed to what comes after, if anything. 

According to a website called Judaism 101, “Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence.  However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much of a dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion.”

As Dr. Carla Wills Brandon, the author of several books dealing with deathbed visions and other spiritual phenomena, sees it, much of this loss of spirituality in Judaism has to do with the Holocaust.  “Previous to World War II, most Jews were still very religious,” she explains in an email exchange on the subject. “…The losses after World War II were great.  The question that was asked was where was God while my relatives, parents, and children were being slaughtered by the Nazis.”  She goes on to say that initially those who survived the Holocaust didn’t want to talk about it at all.  She heard nothing about how her father’s family survived it all.  The unresolved feelings about tragedies in the past, Wills Brandon points out, travel from one generation to the next.

Krohn mentions that Hasidic Judaism, a more conservative and stricter branch than Reform Judaism, seems to be more aware of matters of the soul than Reform Judaism or other sects of Judaism. However, she is unable to accept some of its more fundamentalist principles, especially with regard to women and how to live in the modern world, and therefore she sticks with Reform Judaism in spite of its failure to embrace the spiritual.  “And I don’t foresee Reform Jews ever giving the attention and credit to spirituality that would allow me to feel comfortable there,” she continues, adding that she knows “that sharing the knowledge and messages from the Garden that death is not final would bring immense comfort to so many bereaved and frightened fellow humans.”

But is that any different than Christianity?  I frequently see comments on the Internet by atheists, many of them former Christians, suggesting that all the misery, pain, turmoil and chaos in the world would not be permitted by a loving God, and therefore God must not exist. They have been indoctrinated with the idea that God is an anthropomorphic being who demands worship, and if “He” doesn’t get it, well, woe are they.  And, no God, no afterlife. They then subscribe to the hedonistic philosophy that we should live in the present, live for today, live in the moment, have fun, etc.  They don’t seem to grasp that the message of Christ was not worship of God but that consciousness survives death.  “No one can begin to progress until he has correct ideas of the future existence,” was the message that New York State Supreme Court Justice John Edmonds received from the spirit world, “and it is only when not in error on that subject, only when knowing our spiritual nature and destiny that we begin to progress.”

Renowned psychiatrist Victor Frankl, (below) who endured four Nazi death camps, recognized what he called an “existential vacuum” in the civilized world – a mass neurosis that is a form of nihilism, or a feeling that life has no meaning.  He believed that religious conviction in a greater reality is very therapeutic in overcoming this neurosis.  He recalled speaking with a rabbi, who had lost his wife and six children in the concentration camp of Auschwitz and had just found out that his second wife was sterile. The rabbi was in a state of despair over not having a son who would say Kaddish for him after his death.  He considered himself a sinful man and did not believe himself capable of achieving the same place in heaven as his innocent children.  “Is it not conceivable, Rabbi, that precisely this was the meaning of your surviving your children: that you may be purified through these years of suffering, so that finally, you, too, though not innocent like your children, may become worthy of joining them in Heaven?” Frankl put to him. “Is it not written in the Psalms that God preserves all your tears?  So perhaps none of your sufferings were in vain?”  According to Frankl, the rabbi had not previously considered this viewpoint and he found much relief from his despair in it.


“In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has meaning up to the last moment,” Frankl offered, “and it retains meaning literally to the end.  In other words, life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the potential meaning of unavoidable suffering.” 

The non-believers, whatever name they give themselves, think such a belief implies that we must be focused on the afterlife and not really be concerned about this life.  Outside of a few people on their deathbeds, I can’t recall ever having met any such person. The vast majority of religious people I’ve met over my 82 years are more concerned with “worshipping God,” whatever that means to them, and have given no real thought to an afterlife, beyond angels strumming harps and praising God twenty-four/seven.  The Christian churches have not offered their faithful much more than Judaism has relative to “meaning” or surviving the earth life.

To again quote another renowned psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung: “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.  For the question that is posed to him is the age-old heritage of humanity: an archetype, rich in secret life, which seeks to add itself to our own individual life in order to make it whole.  Reason sets the boundaries far too narrowly for us, and would have us accept only the known – and that too with limitations – and live in a known framework, just as if we were sure how far life actually extends.”

What the non-believers don’t get is that when you fully grasp the wisdom of Frankl and Jung you can more effectively “live in the present” and more effectively deal with the adversity, all of which is part of the progression plan.

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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Beware: This Blog Could Encourage the Activity of Demons

Posted on 04 February 2019, 10:08

A friend of mine, a born-again Christian, is concerned that I’m going to hell if I continue believing in things I write about at this blog, and to the extent that I am passing on some of it to innocent readers of the blog, it could very well be the deepest recesses of hell in which I find myself.  He cites Galatians 5:20, the ninth book of the New Testament, a letter from Paul to some early Christians, which says, according to my friend’s version of the Bible, “spiritism” is an “act of the flesh” which will prevent me from earning the Kingdom of Heaven.  Other versions of the New Testament use the words idolatry, witchcraft and/or sorcery, rather than spiritism, but apparently spiritism is widely accepted by many Christian teachers as being the same thing as idolatry, witchcraft and sorcery. According to one biblical reference, spiritism involves “encouraging the activity of demons.”

Although spiritism and spiritualism are sometimes used synonymously, they are given different meanings by those really familiar with the subject matter.  In its broadest sense, spiritualism is the opposite of materialism, meaning that any believer in a spirit world, including a Christian, is a spiritualist. However, in a much narrower context, spiritualism is the belief that spirits of the dead can and do communicate with those still alive in the flesh and that the afterlife consists of many realms through which souls evolve, not just heaven and hell or heaven, purgatory and hell.  Spiritism is usually associated with the spirit teachings sets forth by French educator and pioneering psychical researcher Allan Kardec; it is very similar to spiritualism but with a more definite acceptance of reincarnation. 

Even though my friend is a retired lawyer and judge, he is deaf to my argument that neither spiritualism nor spiritism is related to idolatry, witchcraft or sorcery. There might be a few common characteristics, although many of those characteristics can also be found in religions, including Christianity. Nor will my friend hear my argument that various words in the Bible have been given different meanings over the centuries by different translators and interpreters.  If Dr. Robert A. Morey, a professor of apologetics and hermeneutics at Perry Bible Institute, is correct, the word nephesh is used 754 times in the Old Testament, but it takes on 30 different meanings, ranging from “soul” and “the dead” to “fish” and “dogs,”  in modern translations, while the Greek word aion is found 108 times in the New Testament 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.

My friend has, in the past, also cited Deuteronomy 18:10-13, which says we shouldn’t talk to the dead and Ecclesiastes 9:5, which says the dead know nothing.  I have countered with 1 John 4:1, which says “to test the spirits whether they are of God” and have asked him how we can test them if we shouldn’t be talking with them and if they know nothing.  I throw in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, which says “to test them all and hold on to what is good,” along with 1 Peter 1:5, which tells us to add “knowledge” to our faith. 

When my friend cites Revelation 22:18, which seems to say that God will punish anyone who adds or takes away anything from the Bible, I ask him how to reconcile that with Joel 2:28-29, which indicates that more revelation will be coming to us and with 1 John 16:12-14, which says we have much more to learn but we are not ready for it.  Are we to assume that we will never be ready for it?

Although I have not been able to verify this with a Hebrew scholar, it is my understanding that word “dead” in the Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes references noted above referred to the “spiritually dead” in the original Hebrew.  Thus, the earthbound or low-level spirits know nothing and we should avoid communicating with them. That makes much more sense, as to say all dead know nothing is to suggest that even advanced souls are pretty ignorant. 

And what about the “Seven Deadly Sins,” which include pride.  Isn’t pride often held to be a good thing?  We’re told to take pride in our good works, that the military instills pride, etc., etc.  Did the original English translators really mean to say arrogance or hubris rather than pride?  Or has the meaning of the word changed over time?

Clearly, words take on different meanings over time.  I can remember when a “hero” was someone who risked life or limb to save another person, but today, according to the media, a hero can be someone who rakes leaves off the grass for his elderly neighbor.  It was not too many decades ago that a “propagandist” was someone who promoted an idea with great zeal, but now he or she is someone who distorts truth and spreads “fake news.”  A “skeptic” was once someone who had doubts or reservations about something, but today a skeptic is someone who “knows” it all, no doubt about it.

As mentioned in prior blogs here about the spirit calling herself Patience Worth who communicated through a St. Louis, Missouri housewife named Pearl Curran, Patience dictated words to Curran that involved sixteenth century English.  In one such dictation, Patience communicated, “I wot he fetcheth in daub-smeared smock.” Even in the early 1900s, the word “fetch” was rarely used, but when used it meant to “go and get” someone or something. Patience used it as synonymous with “came” or “cometh,” which philologists confirmed as the word’s original meaning.  As philologists apparently had a hard time verifying this, it seems extremely unlikely that Curran, who had only an eighth-grade education, would have been so familiar with language from Shakespeare’s time.

If truth is based on the meaning we give to words, there seems to be little hope that we will ever have the truth on anything or ever agree on anything. In today’s political and social arenas, words are subject to different interpretations and one person’s truth is another’s untruth. Asylum” means escape from persecution to one political persuasion and escape from poverty to another.  “Arms” means automatic rifles to one and muskets to the other.  “Nationalism” means putting one’s country first to some and complete isolationism to others.  There are so many shades of gray in various words, but we tend to want to polarize them for political or personal gain.  More and more, truth seems to boil down to a 5-4 vote by the U.S. Supreme Court.  If nine men and women can’t agree unanimously any one thing relative to the intent or meaning of words or verbiage, what are the chances that the masses will?  Moreover, words in the Bible have been subject to misinterpretation, distortion, bias, twisting, embellishment and other change for some two-thousand years, while those from the time of Patience Worth only 400 or so years and those in the Constitution for not much more than 200 years.

My lawyer friend refuses to believe that the Bible was handed down to us through mediums of one kind or another and that what they received was all the “word of God” and there is no room for error.  And so it goes with orthodox religions, stuck with dogma and doctrine based on likely misinterpretations and emotional coloring as it passed from one mind to another. 

So, what can we believe?  I like the way the spirit claiming to be St. Augustine put it to Kardec when Kardec wondered if low-level spirits were attempting to deceive him with false information.  “The purest light is that which is not obscured by any cloud; the most precious diamond is the one without any flaw,” came the response from Augustine.  “Judge the communications of spirits in like manner, by the purity of their teachings.  Do not forget that there are, among spirits, many who have not yet freed themselves from their earthly ideas.  Learn to distinguish them by their language; judge them by the sum of what they tell you; see whether there is logical sequence in the ideas they suggest, whether there is, in their statements, nothing that betrays ignorance, pride or malevolence; in a word, whether their communications always bear the stamp of wisdom that attests to true superiority.”  He went on to say that if our world were inaccessible to error, it would be perfect, which it is far from being.
Kardec also asked why inferior spirits were permitted to interfere in the first place.  Couldn’t God or the superior spirits prevent it?  “God permits it to be so to make trial of your perseverance and your judgment,” came the reply, “and to teach you to distinguish truth from error; if you do not, it is that you are not sufficiently elevated, and still need the lessons of experience.”

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:  February 18




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Catching Up with Professor Stafford Betty

Posted on 14 January 2019, 15:10

When I interviewed Professor Stafford Betty for the June 2006 issue of The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, he commented that some of his colleagues in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at California State University, Bakersfield, would be happy to see him retire.  That was because he dared discuss such subjects as mediumship, near-death experiences, past-life studies, death-bed visions, and other psychic phenomena in his classes – what some of us would consider the “meaningful” subjects.  Unfortunately and paradoxically, most of our institutions of “enlightenment” remain in the dark and consider those subjects taboo.  “My departmental colleagues are embarrassed by my interest in the paranormal,” he said in that interview, adding that he felt like one of James Joyce’s fictional characters – “a giraffe cropping high leafage among a herd of antelopes.”

Now in his 46th year at CSUB, Betty (below) is teaching only part-time, continuing with his favorite course, “The Meaning of Death.” In cutting back on teaching, he has found more time for writing.  He is the author of 11 books, his most recent being Ghost Boy. “It is the story of a clairvoyant 12-year-old boy who sees spirits, especially a girl his own age, and pays a heavy price with his friends and his dad for his suspect ‘gift’,” he explains.  “This paranormal love story is full of youthful adventure that will appeal to a ‘young adult’ reader, but the subject matter is adult.”  He adds that he is now looking forward to the publication of another novel, a political thriller entitled The War for Islam, due out in June 2019. The book is set a hundred years in the future and offers some interesting paranormal moments.


Betty earned his BS in Math and English at Spring Hill College (1964), his MA in English from the University of Detroit (1966) and his Ph.D. in Theology from Fordham University (1975).  I thought it about time to catch up with Professor Betty, so I recently put some questions to him by email.

Do you still meet with the same resistance on the part of the college administration and your colleagues?

Though physically housed with members of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, I’m not allowed to participate in departmental affairs, though there is a movement afoot to bring me back into the fold, led by our new dean. Sadly, though I have more seniority then any faculty member on the campus, and have many publications (eleven books), emeritus status has been denied me two years in a row. But it would be a mistake to think I’m moping. My writing brings me deep satisfaction, and my students keep me hopping.

As I recall, your course, “The Meaning of Death,” was pretty popular in 2006.  Are students still interested in such courses?

There is no drop-off of interest. Fundamentalists of every kind (religious and “scientific”) still refuse to take seriously the research, but this is to be expected.

I don’t know if it is possible to generalize in this regard, but do you see students today as being more interested in spirituality, especially the survival issue, than those of 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

It’s about the same. Typically most come into my Death course with very little if any serious thinking about their own death. All they know is that it horrifies them. And it’s that horror, I suspect, that makes my course so popular. Perhaps they hope to get medicine for it, and in fact they often do. By the end of the course it becomes pretty clear that there is powerful evidence for survival and that the afterlife scenarios of the world’s major religions, which we survey, have very little currency with researchers like me. Their favorite books are usually Tuesdays with Morrie and my own book The Afterlife Unveiled.

Has your approach to teaching changed at all over the years?

I no longer teach the courses growing out of my graduate school training. They were my courses on Asian religions, which a younger colleague has taken over. My continuing interest in the great philosophical questions—Does God exist? Are we immortal beings or destined for extinction? Are we accountable for our actions in a world beyond death? To what extent are we free to choose our actions?—don’t get as much play as they used to. That’s because the department deleted Philosophy of Religion from the curriculum—an immensely unwise move designed to silence the answers I would give if the course continued to exist. We have about 20 philosophy majors out of an enrollment of 10,000, a pitifully low figure. It’s not any better in religious studies. That’s because no one dares to wrestle with the Great Questions. They just say what the religions believe without ever asking if there is any evidence for the beliefs. Ours is a thoroughly post-modern curriculum, with anyone’s claim to truth automatically suspect and not worth taking seriously.

Of all the phenomena you discuss in your classes and have written about in your books, which one has influenced you the most? Any particular author or title you’d like to mention?

Without a doubt the descriptions of the world to come in channeled literature have most influenced me. Most summers my wife and I do a walking tour in a foreign country. Two summers ago it was Japan. This past summer it was Ireland. Before taking off I study up on these countries; I want to know what to expect, and I enjoy this prepping. It’s the same with the world to come, except that it’s more important. The trip will provide more adventure, and the duration of the trip will be longer—much longer! People think me odd because I am so fascinated with this trip, while I think them odd because they apparently have so little interest in it. I wrote my three books on the afterlife to drum up interest in it and get them better prepared for it.

Which guidebooks have I found most helpful? There are so many! Three come immediately to mind: Cummins/Myers’ The Road to Immortality, Graves/Banks’ Testimony of Light, and Moses/Imperator’s Spirit Teachings. Such a great harvest of insight and inspiration come from books like these.

Do you receive much feedback from readers of your books?

The feedback from my books comes mainly from the reviews posted on and But I also hear from people who write me out of the blue, both to my school email address and to my account. It’s surprising how much correspondence I get from people who are bothered by spirits of a dark nature. That’s probably due to the chapter on spirit attachment in my book When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying?, but also to the article I wrote on possession around the world that I posted on five years ago. It’s received over 16,000 hits!

What’s ahead for you?

Fiction. My three nonfiction books—the two mentioned above and Heaven and Hell Unveiled—contain enough of what I have to say about the afterlife to satisfy me. Mission accomplished. But how does one make all this information come alive for the masses? In 2011, I published a novel The Imprisoned Splendor about an atheist philosopher who dies in a plane crash and discovers to his amazement that he’s still alive and unprepared for what is to come. I enjoyed writing that novel, as I had enjoyed writing others on a different subject years before.  Now I’m at it again.

What’s this one about?
The Afterlife Counselor, the title of the novel I’m close to finishing, tells the story of a man who was a counselor in earth life and continues along the same path in the afterworld. He works in the trenches of the Shadowlands, helps fundamentalist Christians and Muslims adjust to their surprising new environments, and participates in the construction of an afterworld for an exoplanet with a primitive population. These and many more adventures keep him busy, but there comes a time when he has to look out for his own interests. Will he continue working in the delightful astral realm he found himself in when he died (in Chapters 1 and 2), or will he “graduate” into a higher world, or will he “repeat the grade” and reincarnate on Earth? I haven’t quite made up my mind yet! I have loved writing this book, but what is to follow I can’t say.

Any chance you’ll return to non-fiction?

That’s a possibility. Quite by accident I befriended a woman with vivid memories of a so-called “imaginary friend” whom she played with when she was a little girl. Again, by accident, I discovered that one of my colleagues has a three-year-old boy whose best friend is just such a ghost. They play together constantly, and his mother is taking careful notes. Since then I’ve begun asking questions on the topic of adult friends. Did they have such a friend when they were little children. About half of them did! The only book on this subject was written more than fifteen years ago by a University of Oregon psychologist who assumed that all these friends were hallucinations. I don’t believe they were. I think they were real spirits who came down to play with lonely children for their mutual happiness. I think this because the six people I got positive answers from told me they felt as real as their parents or regular playmates. I think their story needs to be told free of bias. If I can get access to fifty or more people with such stories, I owe it to the world to write such a book before I die. Incidentally, somewhere between 37 percent and 70 percent of American children experience “imaginary friends” at some point in their young lives according to estimates I’ve come across, and they are the lucky ones. They do better in school and socialize more easily. Their “imaginary” friends usually depart when kindergarten begins. If any of your readers have a story to tell on this subject, please ask them to share it with me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For more information on The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, see

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 28


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What does being “Happy” in the New Year mean?

Posted on 29 December 2018, 13:23

Like many other people, I have been wishing numerous friends and acquaintances a “Happy New Year!” as we approach 2019.  But how many of us really stop to think what we are wishing for the person?  What does it mean to be “happy”?  Is the kind of happiness we are wishing for someone the same as that Thomas Jefferson and other authors of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they wrote that among our inherent and inalienable rights are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

According to James R. Rogers, a professor of political science at Texas A & M University, the “happiness” that Jefferson and the others had in mind does not refer to a subjective emotional state.  “It meant prosperity or, perhaps better, well-being in the broader sense,” Rogers states. “It included the right to meet physical needs, but it also included a significant moral and religious dimension.”  Rogers cites a 1786 letter between James Madison and James Monroe, the fourth and fifth presidents of the United States, in which Madison comments that “nothing can be more false” than to assume that happiness refers to the immediate augmentation of property and wealth.  Rogers further notes that the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 affirms that “the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality…”

Rogers goes on to say “that the upshot of those references and many others from that era suggest that happiness should be understood as a sort of “virtuous felicity,” although refined by Christian sensibilities. He observes that modern liberalism conflicts with the pursuit of happiness in that it seems to assume an objective moral order from which a person may not alienate himself.  If I am reading Rogers correctly, he is saying that the element of “liberty” is paramount for the secular progressives, the result being limited moral constraints.

No doubt our more “progressive” leaders, as well as our academic philosophers thoroughly indoctrinated in materialism, would resist all that, while leaning toward a much more Epicurean view of it, perhaps substituting the word “fun” for happiness and understanding it as “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”  The humanists among the progressives would be quick to say that morality is important, then making a failed attempt to argue that the masses can achieve high moral standards without religion’s idea of a “larger life” following the earthly life.

As I see it, the root cause of all the chaos in the world today is that people have been brainwashed by the entertainment and advertising industries to believe that life is all about “having fun.”  Carpe Diem! Seize the day!  Live in the moment!  It is the philosophy of the secularists and others who reject the idea that consciousness survives death. 

In his book The Immortalist, humanist philosopher Alan Harrington showed himself to be a rare exception to the usual closed-minded, humanist mindset, writing, “An unfortunate awareness has overtaken our species.  Masses of men and women everywhere no longer believe that they have even the slightest chance of living beyond the grave.  The unbeliever pronounces a death sentence on himself.  For millions this can be not merely disconcerting but a disastrous perception.” As Harrington viewed it, when people are deprived of rebirth vision, they “suffer recurring spells of detachment, with either violence or apathy to follow.”  Harrington saw mass-atheism as responsible for most, if not all, of society’s ills, including misplaced sexual energy.  “Orgies, husband and wife swaps, and the like, more popular than ever among groups of quite ordinary people, represent a mass assault on the mortal barrier.” 

Erich Fromm, another realistic humanist philosopher, agreed with Harrington. “The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness and insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death,” Fromm wrote, “represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody.”

Philosopher and pioneering psychiatrist William James rejected the nihilistic or humanistic approach to life.  “I can, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist’s attitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and scientific laws and objects may be all,” he offered.  “But whenever I do this, I hear that inward monitor which W. K. Clifford once wrote, whispering the word ‘bosh!’ Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and the total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds.”

While recognizing that their philosophy dooms them to eternal nothingness, the humanists, atheists, nihilists, skeptics, rationalists, secularists, materialists, reductionists, whatever handle they proudly hang on themselves, rationalize that their “truth” combined with on-going science gives meaning to life.  That is, life is all about providing a better world for future generations.  However, in all their altruism, they stop short of explaining to what end the progeny or to which generation full fruition.

If a future generation experiences a world of peace with unsurpassed comforts and conveniences, what will then give meaning to their lives? In effect, life remains short-term and meaningless for all generations under the non-believer’s repressed awareness.  Our founding fathers apparently realized this in stating that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right, not happiness itself.  That is, if a future generation were to achieve pure, unconditional, unbounded happiness, one in which there is no adversity and all comforts are fulfilled, that generation would have no incentive to pursue anything and may very well find itself where Nero was when Rome burned.  It is the pursuit that gives life purpose.

And with that, I wish all the readers of this blog a Happy New Year!

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 14




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Finishing like Bush 41

Posted on 10 December 2018, 10:04

When former President George W. Bush (Bush 43) ended the eulogy for his father, former President George H. W. Bush (Bush 41 below), last week by saying something to the effect that his father was looking forward to a reunion with his beloved wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, I could envision thousands of nihilists sitting in front of their television sets and reacting to the comment with a self-righteous snort, snarl, or sneer.  I could hear their words, such as “How absolutely ridiculous!” and “How unscientific for men of that stature to believe in such religious superstition!”  I wondered how a nihilist would end the eulogy. Perhaps, “And now that my father is totally extinct, his personality completely obliterated, we need to forget him and get on with life, no matter that our lives are totally meaningless.” Rather than being a “send-off,” as one newspaper headlined the Bush ceremonies, such a memorial service would be a dreary and depressing reminder that life is simply a march into an abyss of nothingness.


So many of the nihilists I encounter in person or on the Internet seem to be young people brainwashed by academia.  Death is too many years down the road for them to have any anxieties about their extinction.  I admit that when I interviewed Horatio Fitch (below) in 1984, I hadn’t given much thought to dying.  I was 47 at the time and still had both feet fully planted in the material world, working two jobs – my day job in insurance claims management and my weekend job as a freelance reporter for the morning daily and a columnist for a national magazine.  In between and around those jobs there were family responsibilities and training up to 100 miles a week in failed efforts to outrun Father Time. Life was all about living and there was little time to think about dying and death.  It was too far in the future, but Horatio’s situation got me to thinking about it.


Horatio was 83 at the time, living alone in a desolate cabin in the mountains of northwest Colorado, his wife having died a few years earlier.  He was snowbound at the time of my telephone interview and his nearest neighbor some distance away. While his phone worked, he had little or no television reception and his eyes were so bad that he was unable to read.  He said he spent most of his time listening to classical music. As I talked with him, I pictured a man dying alone in the middle of nowhere. 

Two years earlier, the movie Chariots of Fire had won the Academy Award as the best picture of 1981.  The movie was about two British runners, both sprinters, who were hoping to win a gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.  But one of them, Eric Liddell, a divinity student from Scotland, refused to participate in the 100 because the race was on a Sunday, a day that was sacred to him.  Instead, he entered the 400-meter run.

Representing the United States, Horatio, an engineering student at the University of Illinois, had broken the world record in his 400-meter heat earlier that day and shaped up as the favorite.  However, Liddell gloriously won the race with Horatio taking the silver medal.  But then, even more than now, a silver medal didn’t count for much.  Between 1924 and 1982, Horatio was asked to speak about his Olympic experience on only two occasions, once in 1928 and again sometime in the mid-30s. While he secretly cherished his silver medal and had fond memories of his Olympic participation, he got on with life and seldom mentioned what he had done that July afternoon in Paris. “It wasn’t that big of a thing until after the movie,” he told me with a hearty laugh.

The actor playing Horatio Fitch in the movie had a very small part – a few seconds on the ship to Paris and then a few seconds in the race itself – but it was enough for people to start contacting him for talks at various community and church functions.  And there were interviews, like mine, preceding the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, 60 years after Horatio’s Olympic effort.  “I enjoy talking about it,” he said. “Heck, I don’t have that much else to do these days.”  He also found some humor in the ironical, even paradoxical, aspect of the situation – losing the race had brought him a little fame, even if 60 years later.  Moreover, if he had won the race, he would have robbed the future screenwriters of a story and the movie would not have been made. 

When I heard that Horatio died the following year, I wondered if he died alone in his mountain cabin. I tried to put myself in the same situation and felt certain that I would really struggle with such solitude, especially if not able to read.  Now that I am nearly as old as Horatio was when I interviewed him, I again wonder what it would be like to live alone and die alone in such a desolate place, no human being within shouting distance.  Fortunately, Bush 41 was at the other extreme in this respect, having all of his large family around him when his spirit body left the physical body.  Bush 41 appears to have had the ideal departure. 

I interviewed Horatio for the sports page and so I didn’t ask him about his beliefs, but I can’t imagine being 83 years old, living alone in the wilderness, unable to read, and with nothing to do but listen to records without a belief that consciousness survives death.  I know some people say that such finality doesn’t bother them, but I always suspect that it is nothing more than bravado to cover up for their inability to grasp things that don’t easily fit nicely into their “intellectual” paradigm.  To quote William James: “The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well – morality suffices.  But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.”
Carl Gustav Jung, one of the founders of modern psychiatry, said that the majority of his patients were those who had lost their faith.  “They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking,” he explained. “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.”  He referred to the reality of most people as “a submission to the vow to believe only in what is probable, average, commonplace, barren of meaning, to renounce everything strange and significant, and reduce anything extraordinary to the banal.”

Jung recalled that while in medical school he was fascinated when he read about psychic phenomena as observed by such noted scientists as William Crookes and Johann Zöellner, but when he spoke of them to his friends and classmates, they reacted with derision and disbelief, or with anxious defensiveness. “I wondered at the sureness with which they could assert that things like ghosts and table-turning were impossible and therefore fraudulent, and on the other hand at the evidently anxious nature of their defensiveness.”

Concerning the whole idea of an afterlife, Jung stated he was convinced that it is “hygienic” to discover in death a goal toward which one can strive and not to do so 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,” he wrote, adding that it is desirable to think of death as only a transition – one part of a life process that is beyond our knowledge and comprehension. Apparently, Bush 41 had that mindset and hopefully Horatio did, too.  It’s unfortunate that the nihilists don’t get it.

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 or Transcendence as viewed by Dr. Michael Grosso

Posted on 26 November 2018, 10:00

“Brainwashed by mainstream scientistic materialism, we feel constrained by their ideas of what is possible,” Michael Grosso states in his 1985 book The Final Choice: Death or Transcendence, recently republished by White Crow Books.  “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 goes on, neglects the unseen dimension and serves to keep us distracted and unaware of the Transcendent.

Now an independent scholar, writer, and painter, Grosso, (below) a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1971.  He has 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. He has authored five other books, including The Man Who Could Fly and Wings of Ecstasy:  Domenico Bernini’s Vita of St. Joseph of Copertino, both published last year. 


I recently interviewed Grosso for the October issue of The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, Inc. ( and now post it here. 

What prompted your interest in things paranormal and/or spiritual?

Well, the two are closely linked.  I think in my case your question is easily answered – in a word, experience.  I was a boy when my mother described what later I would call a “crisis apparition” of her brother at the time of his death.  I also recall a story about a ghost in the family lore who made herself known by nicking the odd handkerchief and folding it into an intricate, complex pattern. I witnessed the impact on my older brother of an unexplained fragrance he ultimately connected with Padre Pio.  Meanwhile, from my early years until the present, I have myself had direct experience of many kinds of paranormal experience—sporadically.  I have also made it my business to meet reseachers and experiencers, and read widely in the literature.  All this has helped to make me receptive to ideas that are treated as suspect in the mainstream, dominant materialist culture.

Would you mind summarizing your worldview now, especially with regard to survival and the meaning of life?  Has your worldview changed over the years? 

As for survival of consciousness and the meaning of life, I would say this.  There are rational reasons to support the belief in survival; most compelling is to have direct experience—as, for example, the near-death or mystical experience.  Despite what I know and have experienced, I agree with Plato that belief in an afterlife is kalos kundinos—a noble risk.  As for the meaning of life, that is purely a personal matter; each of us finds, follows, creates our own meaning: aims, ideals, virtues.  Each of us is forced to create our own ship of meaning from the raw materials of our experience. My worldview has evolved in the sense that philosophical and empirical events have led me to an interesting speculative conclusion: when we try to assemble all the supernormal powers into a coherent picture of human potential, it looks as though the next possible stage of human evolution is toward the appearance of a new human species that resembles ancient Greek gods and goddesses.

You said you have had some direct experiences of your own?  Would you mind summarizing the most significant ones and your conclusions regarding them?

In 1971, I (with two other people) witnessed a UFO from my sixth-floor window in Greenwich Village while we were listening to John Coltrane’s “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”  The UFO then flew to the dome of Our Lady of Pompei just down the block, and beamed at us—then took off and vanished over the Empire State Building.  In 1981, I had three detailed dreams in a row of President Reagan being shot—two weeks before he was shot (having shared the dreams in advance with my class).  In the early 1990s, in a group setting, I successfully conducted a levitation experiment with a two hundred pound ex-marine.  The joint effect of just these three incidents was enough to explode my established ideas about terrestrial life, time, and gravity—a good start, I’d say, for a metaphysical breakthrough.  The meaning of my life is in part based on trying to figure out what all my strange encounters signify. I am convinced almost all mainline views of reality, scientific or religious, are only partly correct – the big picture and what is all means remains for me an engaging mystery.  I think life would be horrible if we had it all figured out.

In your 1985 book, you wrote that people were at an all-time low as far as inner sources for coping with disaster and mortality.  Do you think any progress has been made over the past 33 years?  Why or why not?

I really don’t know how to answer that.  Those were grim times in 1985 with the nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over us, but they seem even grimmer now with a pathological liar leading the most powerful nation in history.  We may not be better equipped today with inner resources but I do believe that in moving toward social, climate, and nuclear catastrophe there may be an increase of psychic and spiritual awakenings, possibly en masse—the species mind awakening as does the individual when confronting death or even the heightened risk of death. 

When psychical research changed to parapsychology during the 1930s, researchers pretty much divorced themselves from mediumship and the whole idea of spirits.  Parapsychologists still seem to avoid those subjects.  Aren’t researchers just reinventing the wheel over and over again with such an approach?  To put it another way, how can you arrive at a spirit world without hypothesizing spirits in the first place?

In my view, the basic claims for the reality of psi have been established and we should go beyond just trying to prove the stuff is real. Let the research take us to the outermost limits of the possible, to survival after death and the immortality in life.  I believe we’ve barely begun to explore ways of emancipating human sensibility and agency.

Many parapsychologists accept the reality of psi, but remain skeptical or non-believers in survival. Do you think a career in parapsychology can be meaningful without some degree of acceptance of survival?  Or, to what end is a belief in psi along helping humankind?

Is there such a thing as a career in parapsychology?  I think it may one day happen that everybody will believe in survival, perhaps after a new technology makes us all clairvoyant seers.  Until that happens there will be differences of opinion on this and all matters of great importance.  Progress is to explore all sorts of ways to awaken and exploit our otherwise neglected psychic abilities—for health, for the creative arts, for community—and for the sheer adventure of exploration.  Parapsychology should not be confused with normal science; maybe that’s part of its appeal.

Some of your early writing had to do with apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  What do you make of such apparitions, especially those continuing to take place at Medjugorje?  (See my blog of October 3, `‘Levitations Explained”, 2016 in archives for a summary of the Medjugorje apparitions)

Curious you should mention Medjugorje, I’m half way through a new book on the subject by Daniel Maria Klimek.  Klimek points out that scientists studied the ecstatics during their actual encounters with the appearance of “Mary,” perhaps a first in the history of science.  The results, according to their data, prove that none of the visionaries showed any sign of pathology.  They also seemed focused on one external reality—what that reality is remains unknown.

Regarding these appearances, I find of great interest what seems like signs of the return of the goddess, an unconscious revolt against the repression of the feminine.  The UFO visitors I saw seemed to be dancing with Trane’s music and on to the Dome of Our Lady!  Uncanny connections that leave me clueless. 

Considering that the scientific studies of the ecstatics, or visionaries, suggest no fraud or deception on their part, do you think it is actually the Blessed Virgin Mary communicating with them over the past 37 years?

Whether the appearances of the alleged Virgin are of the actual mother of the historical Jesus, it’s impossible to know, and even Klimek states that is a matter of faith.  I myself don’t believe it.  If I was one of the visionaries I might.  In my review – accepted by the Journal of Religious Studies – but not yet submitted – I focus on the scientific discussions (ignore all the theology), and play up the critique of reductive materialism and the critique of constructionist theories of mysticism.  All that is solid stuff – and I’m happy to admit there are features of the phenomena that are genuine scientific mysteries. I think I’ve done the book justice without committing myself to anything I don’t believe in.

You said earlier that it would be horrible if we had it all figured out.  I take that to mean that “absolute certainty” of the survival of consciousness is not something we should have or even desire.  Would you mind elaborating on that?

This question is very interesting.  Let my try to answer.  First off, is absolute certainty of survival possible?  What comes to mind are near-death experiences; here, the absolute certainty results from the belief that one has died and consciously entered into a postmortem world.  But you don’t have to be near-death to have what might seem like self-certifying encounters with another world.  Being physically assaulted by a ghost in a haunted house, which I experienced, is a case in point.  No facile arguments can dislodge the certainty of my experience.  Direct experience of one or another sort is one way to achieve at least a robust certainty. But other routes also exist.  For example, by comparative study of all the relevant data, some might reasonably infer that survival was a fact of nature, and in a manner virtually certain. This would be so, theoretically.  Needless to say, the theory needs to be tested before wholly certified.

But now for your second question.  Is absolute certainty desirable? Doubt it.  Back to Plato’s comment that immortality was kalos kyndinos—a “noble risk.” It is not our highest concern.  Speaking for myself, I don’t crave absolute certainty about anything.  In all the big questions, of God, of love, of immortality – of how to live – there is always uncertainty, unpredictability – the risk intrinsic to just being.

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 Final Choice: Death or Transcendence by Michael Grosso is published by White Crow books.
*This book was originally published under the title, The Final Choice: Playing the Survival Game.

Next blog post:  December 10


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Profiling the Atheist

Posted on 12 November 2018, 9:35

During my lifetime of more than four-score years, I have met many people who call themselves atheists.  Usually, when they find out about my interest in afterlife studies and the fact that I have authored six books dealing with the subject, not to mention a hundred or more magazine and journal articles and more than 200 posts at this blog, they react with some surprise – often with a puzzled smirk, occasionally with a self-righteous sneer or a scoff, as if to say, “You don’t really believe in that stuff, do you?”

Not one to shy away from discussing the subject, I usually counter with a comment that I do believe in an afterlife, if not with absolute certainty at least with a conviction that meets the preponderance of evidence standard of our civil court system, and even goes well beyond that to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal justice system.  There is still about a 1.2 percent doubt there, so I say that I am a 98.8-percent believer and 1.2-percent doubter, meaning I am still a skeptic to some small degree. 

However, I point out that by the standards of most religions I might be considered an atheist.  That is to say that I doubt the existence of an anthropomorphic (humanlike) God, even though I call myself an unorthodox Christian and see Jesus as chairman of the board, or at least one of the directors, on the Other Side, assuming it is possible to give terrestrial names and imagery to celestial beings and matters. 

Like so many other words today, “atheist” is subject to different meanings and interpretations, but for lack of an accepted word that means a person does not believe in the God of orthodox religion but believes in an afterlife, I’ll stick with it in this post. 

“I believe in science,” is often the smug reply by the atheist, to which I respond that I also believe in science.  If the person pursues the science road, I sometimes stress that I am familiar with the scientific method and probably have more experience applying it than anybody he or she knows.  In fact, I might even claim the Guinness world record for applying it.  No, I never wore a lab coat outside of a couple of college classes, I explain, but I had more than 40 years experience in insurance claims and litigation management, which involved weighing evidence and making decisions in countless claims and law suits as to whether to settle a claim, and for how much, or proceed to court.  It’s referred to as courtroom science and not laboratory science, but courtroom science is more applicable to psychic phenomena than is laboratory science.

I must have applied the scientific method to at least 50,000 automobile accidents, products liability claims, industrial and commercial accidents, malpractice claims, construction accidents, and sundry other injury and damage claims over those 40-plus years.  If there was nothing else I learned from those many years, it is that the science involved in most disciplines is far from exact.  The plaintiff’s attorney would get a doctor, engineer, toxicologist, metallurgist, psychologist, whatever discipline was involved, to give his take on the evidence while the defense attorney would get an expert of equal standing to dispute the plaintiff’s expert.  If there can be such inexactness in medicine, engineering, psychology and other disciplines in which they fancy themselves scientists, why can’t there be inexactness in psychical research?  In response to this question, the atheist simply shrugs. 

If the atheist shows some interest, which is rare, I try to get across the point that the afterlife I have come to accept is not the humdrum heaven and horrific hell of orthodox religion, but involves a much more active lifestyle than that espoused by the churches.  But it has been my experience that most atheists are stuck in the muck and mire of scientific fundamentalism and will have none of it, just as much as evangelicals are stuck in religious fundamentalism. Over the years, I have developed a profile of the typical hard-core atheist. He or she may not have all of the characteristics indicated below, but here are 21 fairly common characteristics I have observed.

The atheist:
1) was likely brought up in a religious family, quite often in an evangelical family;

2) had problems with parental authority when young and was often rebellious;

3)  while in school, adopted science teachers and professors as substitute parent figures and quickly divorced religion in favor of the “intellectual” reductionist approach of the teacher or professor;

4) cannot now believe anything that can’t be replicated and validated by science;

5) believes that it is necessary to prove the existence of God before considering the evidence for an afterlife;

6) believes wars, famine, poverty, premature death, etc. are evidence that there is no God, as a benevolent God would not permit such things.  No God, no afterlife;

7) had an inferiority complex most of his or her life, but now sees his “intellectual” atheism grounded in science as making him/her better and smarter than all his/her friends who still suffer from religious superstitions;

8) has never really studied the evidence for the survival of consciousness but finds it convenient to parrot people like James “The Amazing” Randi and Michael Shermer by saying it is all fraudulent;

9)  assumes that celestial ways and means must meet terrestrial standards, thereby further assuming that science has it all figured out;

10)  attempts to put on a courageous front in his or her belief that life is nothing more than a march into an abyss of nothingness, but is really shaking in his or her boots, especially in his/her old age, when the courage turns to bitterness and despair, i.e., the pretend courage is really bravado;

11)  doesn’t fully grasp the difference between evidence and proof;

12) assumes that the afterlife is nothing more than angels floating around on clouds and strumming harps for eternity;

13)  fails to recognize that the evidence coming to us through psychical research and parapsychology is not always consistent with religious dogma and doctrine;

14)  thinks that television “ghost hunting” programs are what psychical research and parapsychology are all about;

15) accepts the debunker’s explanation that all psychical phenomena are the result of fraud, hallucination or self-delusion;

16)  believes everything he/she reads concerning paranormal phenomena at Wikipedia is the straight scoop;

17) assumes that psychics, if real, should be able to pick winning lottery numbers and be totally correct in everything he or she says;

18) stresses the “misses” in the testing of psychic phenomena, while ignoring the “hits,” even though they are far beyond chance;

19) assumes that if spirits exist, they should be all-powerful and able to more effectively communicate;

20) says we should “live for today” and not concern ourselves with what happens after death;

21) fancies him- or herself as a self-appointed guardian of truth in the war on superstition. 

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 26


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War Victim: “Great Scot! You don’t mean I’m dead!”

Posted on 29 October 2018, 10:10

With the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I coming up on November 11, it seems like a good time to remember one of the victims of the “The Great War” – Second Lieutenant Claude Herschel Kelway-Bamber, whose plane was shot down by a German fighter pilot as they engaged in a dogfight near the Flanders region of Belgium. Claude was just 20 years old and attached to the Royal Flying Corps at the time of his death.  Coincidentally, he was killed on November 11, 1915, exactly three years before Armistice Day, although there is conflicting information suggesting he was killed on November 15.


Claude is one of five WWI victims I wrote about in my last book, Dead Men Talking, the others being Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge, Second Lieutenant Robert Boylan, Private Thomas Dowding, and Private Rolf Little.  All five of them are said to have communicated after death.  Claude’s more complete story was set forth in Claude’s Book, first published in 1918 by Methuen & Co., with a sequel, Claude’s Book II,  published two years later.  The “editor” of the two books is shown as L. Kelway-Bamber, his mother, who apparently preferred the name Liza to her given name, Eliza.  Most of the messages came through the trance mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, one of England’s most-tested mediums.

In the Introduction to the second book, Dr. Ellis T. Powell, a renowned British barrister and journalist, states that he believes that Claude (below) was being used as an intermediary by higher spiritual sources, and that he (Claude) was “not fully alive to the full purport of that which he was transmitting.”  Such a theory is consistent with other teachings suggesting that advanced spirits find it more difficult to communicate with those on the earth plane than lower spirits because of the difference in vibration; therefore, they “employ” the spirits at a lower vibration to relay the information on to those in the earth frequency.  This seems to tie into the “group soul” idea discussed at this blog on Sept. 30.


While Claude does provide some evidential information to let his mother know that it was indeed her son communicating (at least as part of the group soul), most of the two books deal with the way things work in the spirit world, as best as he or the group soul could explain them.  He talks about the various realms in the afterlife, reincarnation, Christ, activities, time, clothing, communication, and other aspects of different dimensions of reality. 

“I was rather depressed as I went out to my machine that last November morning,” Claude communicated to his mother.  “I don’t know why.  I certainly had no presentiment of evil; but, once started, my spirits rose as usual, and I felt quite cheery and singularly free from nervousness.  Many men here have since told me this rather curious fact, that on the occasion of their last fight, whether in the air or in the trenches, nervousness left them.  I don’t know whether the spirit instinctively knows its fate and braces itself to meet it, or if one’s spirit friends are able to make their presence and comfort felt at that supreme crisis, but probably it was the only occasion on which I was absolutely free of all fear.”

Claude went on to explain that when he and his accompanying observer were attacked by two enemy planes, his feeling was one of complete irritation as they were on their way back after finishing some work over the enemy lines.  “I felt harassed, too, as I climbed and turned and dived here and there to attack.  My observer said something and I remember getting the nose of the machine down to get below one of our opponents, when I felt a terrible blow on my head, a sensation of dizziness and falling, and then nothing more.” 

The observer, later identified as Lieutenant J.E.P. Harvey, was quoted in the March 22, 1916 issue of the Calgary Daily Herald as saying that they were at about 10,000 feet when Claude was hit in the head and killed.  They went into a “death plunge” for about 5,000 feet, during which time Harvey was able to maneuver onto Claude’s lap, take the controls, shut off the engine, and land safely, after which he was taken prisoner by the Germans. 

“It may have been a fortnight or more later – we have no account of ‘time’ here, so I can not be sure – that I became conscious again,” Claude further communicated to his mother. “I felt dizzy and stupid but was not in pain, and on collecting my thoughts and looking round found myself in bed in an unknown room. Before thought took definite form I felt I had been passing through space.  My body seemed to have become light.  I wondered if I was in hospital, and if anyone had written to tell you I was wounded. Nurses moved about the room; if I attempted to talk or ask questions a doctor came to my side, and putting his hand on my head soothed me to silence again.”

What seemed like several days later, a doctor came to Claude’s bedside and explained to him that he had passed out of the physical body.  With much confusion, Claude replied,  “Great Scot! You don’t mean I’m dead!” 

“We will use that term simply as it’s the only one you understand just now,’ the doctor responded.  “You are alive and are starting the fuller and more beautiful life.” 

Shortly thereafter, Claude was guided by two other spirits through the astral plane to earth and found himself standing at the foot of his mother’s bed.  It was then that he realized that he was indeed “dead.”  He observed his mother sitting up in bed in an agony of grief. “I bent forward and called as loudly as I could, ‘Mummy, I’m here; can’t you see or hear me?’  You made no reply.  I went to your side and put my arms round you, and though you were not conscious of my presence I seemed to be able to soothe you, for you became calmer and lay down.” 

As he began to lose consciousness in the earth realm, his two guides took him back to the hospital. “I felt, however, that your love was mine still,” he continued. “I could feel its power. I understood it and realized it better than ever before.  It was a spiritual caress, and I felt it through every fibre of my body, and was full of thankfulness.  I knew, too, that in all my life your love had never failed me, and that even now, you would find a way, if it were possible, to bridge the gulf between us – you would never let me ‘drop out.’  When I realized this, I knew the worst was over, and the bitterness of death had passed.  Worn by my emotions, I slept and woke later in quite a different mood.”

As Claude adapted to his new environment, he was able to better communicate with his mother, although he pointed out several times that so much of what he was experiencing was beyond his ability to explain. “There is so much that is so difficult to put into words at all, especially to have to imprint on another person that which to us is a great shining light – the truth.  We feel it, we move in it, we breathe it; but it’s too great and vast a thing to explain in an hour or so, for no sooner do I start to explain one phase, than I find it leads me to have to explain another, and then another, and so on. We are nearer the Infinite than you are, and are therefore more naturally conscious of the power of the Infinite, and do not require to have it manifested in detail or in finite form to the same extent as you do.”  He added that the bias of the medium’s mind, impressions from the sitter’s subconscious self, and unconscious telepathy from other minds also distort the   messages. 

As his guides, including his deceased grandfather, escorted him around, Claude observed homes, gardens, fountains, and woods similar to those on earth.  He asked his grandfather if it was a “thought-world” he was now in. “It is more real and permanent than the one you have left,” his grandfather replied.  Claude added that he bent down and poked his finger in the soil and found that it left a hole, while the soil stuck under his nail. 

Claude told his mother that he did not think of death very often when alive in the flesh, even though he faced it every day in combat, because it seemed so indefinite   He considered the possibility that he would be killed and hoped he would find himself in heaven, but heaven did not sound very appealing to him as he did not think of it as anything more than sitting on a throne on a cloud in a white robe, while playing a harp.  It sounded terribly boring to him. “I know now the whole mistake lies in looking upon death as the end of ‘activity,’ with a renewal at some indefinite date, whereas as a matter of fact it is an incident only, though a very important one, in a continuous life,” he explained. “Your feelings, your memory, your love, your interests and ambitions remain; all you have left behind, and even that which one cannot at first realize, is the physical body, which proves to be merely the covering of the spiritual to enable it to function in a material world.  Man truly is a spirit and has a body, not vice versa.”

Initially, Claude was engaged in assisting other soldiers who had been killed on the battlefield. “We are united for the work, having ourselves endured the horrors of war.  Spirits unused to it cannot bear the terrible sights and sounds. We bring them away so that they may return to consciousness far from their mutilated physical bodies, and oh, Mum, I feel quite tired sometimes of explaining to men that they are ‘dead’! They wake up feeling so much the same; some go about for days, and even months, believing they are dreaming. Death works no miracle, and you wake up here the same personality exactly that left the earth-plane.  Your individuality is intact, and your ‘spirit body’ a replica of the one you have left, down to small details – even deformities remain, though, I am told they lessen and disappear in time.”

One of the more evidential facts related by Claude through Leonard was that his spirit body was initially just the same as his physical body “right down to the wart on my finger.”  Mrs. Kelway-Bamber recalled suggesting to Claude that he see the doctor and have the wart removed.

“People with narrow, set, and orthodox beliefs are puzzled by the reality, the ‘ordinaryliness,’ if I may coin a word, of the spirit world,” Claude continued.  “If it were described to them as ‘flashes of light,’ ‘mauve and sapphire clouds,’ ‘golden rivers,’ etc., it would more readily approximate with their preconceived ideas.  They require ‘mystery’ about the future life.  I often laugh when I hear them complain they can’t believe in ‘solid’ things like houses, and gardens in the spirit-world…”

Claude went on to say that he was doing less and less battlefield work as he was being trained to be a teacher.  “I realize enough even in this short time, to know that the more one learns the more truly humble one becomes, because it is only then possible to know of the vast untouched fields of knowledge yet to be explored, and it is only very ignorant people in these days who say anything is ‘impossible,’ because it happens to be beyond their particular understanding.”

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 12


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Levitations Explained?

Posted on 15 October 2018, 8:05

The reports of levitations – of both humans and furniture – were abundant in the early research on mediums.  Sir William Crookes, a world renowned chemist and physicist, reported seeing medium Daniel D. Home levitated (lifted) on three occasions, while also witnessing several other people levitated in Home’s presence.  The Home levitations took place under lighted conditions and in Crookes’s home.  Crookes even went to his knees and ran his hand under Home’s feet to rule out some kind of invisible wiring.

Biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, was present with Crookes at a sitting with Home on May 22, 1871 when a table was levitated several times.  Crookes and Wallace went to their knees to verify the levitation and the fact that Home’s hands and feet were in no way involved, as skeptics claimed they must be.

Well before Crookes studied Home, William Makepeace Thackeray, an esteemed British author, told of his observations of some Home phenomena, including Home floating in the air above the heads of those in the room at a dinner party and of the heavy dining room table, covered with dishes, decanters, and glasses, rising a full two feet above the floor.


Lord Adare, one of Home’s biographers, reported with his father, the Earl of Dunraven, an archeologist and member of the Royal Society, on a number of 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 of 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. 

Home, who recalled a feeling of “electrical fullness” about his feet when being lifted, 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, it was reported, lasted four or five minutes.

But Home was not the only medium in whose presence the spirits lifted people or furniture.  Dr. Cesare Lombroso, a world-renowned neuropathologist known for his studies in criminal behavior, reported that on September 28, 1892, he was seated on one side of medium Eusapia Palladino and holding her hand (for control purposes) while Professor Charles Richet, later a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, held her hand on the other side.  As Lombroso explained it, Palladino, while in a trance state, complained of invisible hands grasping her under the arms.  Then her voice changed and said, “Now I lift my medium up on the table.” Palladino was then raised in her chair to the top of the table amid groans and lamentations on her part. The researchers then observed her deposited back on the floor with the same security and precision. 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.

A similar levitation was reported to have taken place on May 25, 1900 with Enrico Morselli, a neurologist and professor at the University of Genoa, controlling Palladino’s hand and foot on one side and Professor Francesco Porro, a world-famous astronomer, controlling on her other side. Morselli reported that Palladino was raised to the top of the table “in such a way that her feet and two front legs of the chair rested on the surface of the table,” after which she groaned, as if intensely frightened, and then asked (apparently John King) to be placed back on the floor.  As she was descending, she “was carried up again,” before being lowered to the floor.  This all took place under dim but adequate lighting. 

Of course, the closed-minded skeptic would say that Home, Palladino, other mediums producing levitations were all tricksters or that everyone present was hallucinating or had been hypnotized.  “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. Brewster claimed that it had to be a trick, although he had no idea as to how the trick was performed. 

In 1914, Dr. William J. Crawford, a mechanical engineer, began carrying out experiments with Irish medium Kathleen Goligher. 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 “psychic rods,” apparently formed by the ectoplasm given off by the medium, what Crawford referred to as “psychic force.”  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. 
Crawford pointed out that he continually worked under the levitated table and between the levitated table and the medium and conducted many of his experiments in adequate light, although it became obvious to him that light affected the rigidity of the rods, i.e., the rods could not be made stiff if strong light was playing upon them.

During his 87 sittings with Goligher, Crawford made a number of other observations, including that the psychic rods could extend only about five feet from the medium’s body and that it often took a half hour for the psychic energy to build up.  He further observed that the psychic energy often caused the medium to make slight involuntary motions with her feet – motions which might suggest fraud to a careless observer. “I have come to the general conclusion from the results of my experimental work, and from observations of the circle extending over two and a half years, that all the phenomena produced are caused by flexible rod-like projections from the body of the medium; that these rods are the prime cause of the phenomena, whether they consist of levitations, movements of the table about the floor, rappings, touchings, or other variations,” Crawford wrote. 

In his 1874 book, The Book on Mediums, Allan Kardec, a pioneering French psychical researcher, told of a conversation he had about levitations with the spirit of St. Louis. Whether it was actually St. Louis or a “group soul” identifying itself as St. Louis (see prior blog post on group souls) is not clear, but the explanation appears to be consistent with what Crawford and other researchers later came to understand about levitation.

The spirit communicating with Kardec referred to a “universal fluid” as the elementary principle of all things and explained that the spirit carrying out the levitation “combines a portion of the universal fluid with the fluid exhaled from the medium suitable to this effect.”  The spirit went on to say that “when a table is moved under your hands, the spirit evoked draws from the universal fluid that animates the table with a factitious life….When the mass he wishes to move is too heavy for him, he calls to his aid spirits who are in the same condition as himself.  By reason of his ethereal nature, the spirit proper cannot act on gross matter without an intermediary, that is to say, without the link that unites it to matter:  this link, which you call perispirit, gives you the key to all material spirit phenomena.”

It was further explained to Kardec that those who produce such physical phenomena are inferior spirits who are not entirely disengaged from all material influence. Being “inferior,” however, did not seem to imply that they were evil spirits, only that they had not yet advanced enough to be free of material vibrations. But it was further explained that the more advanced spirits can make use of the inferior spirits just as humans make use of porters.

When the Spirit told Kardec that the spirits do not use their hands in lifting a person or an object, Kardec wondered why materialized hands were sometimes seen in connection with various phenomena, including the playing of a piano.  “You can understand the nature of spirits and their manner of acting only by comparisons, which give you an incomplete idea, and it is wrong to always wish to assimilate their processes to your own,” the Spirit replied.  “Their processes must bear relation to their organization. Have I not told you that fluid of the perispirit penetrates matter, and is identified with it, that it animates it with a factitious life?  Well, when the spirit rests his fingers on the keys, he puts them there really, and even moves them; but it is not by muscular force that he presses the keys; he animates it as he animated the table, and the key, which obeys his will, moves and strikes the chord.  There is one thing you will have trouble in comprehending; it is this:  that some spirits are so little advanced, and so material in comparison to the elevated spirits, that they still have the illusions of the terrestrial life, and believe they act as when they had their body.  They can no more give a reason of the true cause of the effects they produce than a peasant can give a reason for the theory of the sounds he articulates; ask them how they play the piano, they will tell you they strike on it with their fingers, because they believe they do strike it; the effect is produced instinctively with them, without their knowing how yet by their will.  When they make you hear words, it is the same thing.”

Kardec asked why science doesn’t better understand all of this.  “It is because man is far from knowing all the laws of nature,” was the response.  “If he knew them all he would be a superior spirit.  Every day, however, gives the lie to those who, thinking they know everything, presume to set bounds to nature, and they are none the less haughty.  In constantly unveiling new mysteries, God warns men to down their own lights, for the day will come when the science of the most learned will be put to confusion…Poor men, who think yourselves so learned, and whose silly vanity is every instant disconcerted, know you are still very small.”

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:  Oct. 29


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When Famous Spirits Collaborate in a Group Soul

Posted on 30 September 2018, 16:42

Much of the early mediumship, from around 1850 until about 1930, involved communication from what has been called a “group soul” – a number of discarnates speaking as one, or different discarnates taking turns communicating through a particular medium.  One of the earliest reports of such a phenomenon involved the famous trance medium, Daniel D. Home.  At a sitting on June 28, 1871 at the home of renowned British chemist William Crookes, Home (below) went into a trance state and a voice began speaking through him. One of Crookes’s guests asked who was speaking.  “It is not one spirit in particular,” came the reply through Home.  “It is a general influence.  It requires two or three spirits to get complete control over Dan.  The conditions are not very good tonight.” 


The communicating spirits were then asked to explain what the conditions should be. “That is a matter in which we cannot help you much,” the spirits responded.  “There are comparatively few spirits who are able to communicate at all with you.  They are constantly working and experimenting to try and render the communication easier.  They practice on some of you when you are asleep and in that way your dreams are influenced.  Sometimes they think they have found out some of the conditions which will lead to success, and the next time something occurs which shows them that they know scarcely anything about it.”  Crookes noted that voices were sometimes heard in which one invisible being seemed to be instructing another invisible being on how to effect a levitation with Home.

The communicating spirits went on to tell Crookes that it was like trying to get a wayward child to do what one wishes, but they continue to experiment.  They added that some spirits cannot do anything because even though they have the desire they don’t have the knowledge.  “There are two standing here now who would like to communicate, but it would be quite impossible for them to make the slightest manifestation to you.  They will be obliged to get others to tell what they wish to say.  You, William, should not have had that [arc lamp].  It hurt Dan’s head, and we were obliged to entrance him to calm him…It was too dazzling for Dan.”
Crookes was further informed that two spirits, both well-known when in the body, were there helping with the manifestations.  They were Augustus De Morgan, a renowned British mathematician, who had died on March 18, 1871, and Robert Chambers, a Scottish journalist and naturalist, who also had died that year.  Crookes was also informed that Dr. John Elliotson, who had died in 1868, had been there, but had to leave for some unexplained reason.  All three men had been interested in psychical research when alive. 

Allan Kardec, a pioneering French researcher, 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.  They answered questions on every conceivable subject, including God, pantheism, universal space, biblical accounts of creation, reincarnation, relationships beyond the grave, possession, the fate of children beyond the grave, spirit influence, war, capital punishment, slavery, dreams, free will, suicide, and fear of death, to name just some.

Victor Hugo, the famous French author, claimed to have communicated with many famous names of the past through a medium on the Isle of Jersey, including Socrates, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Galileo.  One communicating spirit identified itself as “Death,” another as “Angel of Light,” and still another as the “Shadow of the Sepulcher.”    Hugo wondered if these were devious spirits posing as wise men, which reportedly was a common occurrence in séances, but he apparently had also heard that the essence of advanced souls can come down through lower spirits and that “group souls” can take on a fictitious identity for want of a specific identity. Whatever the explanation, Hugo was impressed by much of what they had to say and wanted to keep the sittings going. 

Teenager Cora Scott Richmond (below) befuddled scientists, scholars, ministers, lawyers and journalists during the second half of the nineteenth century when she gave, (while in a trance state) extemporaneous hour-long lectures on many different subjects. In 1854, Professor James J. Mapes, a chemist and inventor, traveled to Buffalo, New York to observe and study the then 14-year-old girl.  Mapes asked her to speak on “primary rocks,” to which she replied with a discourse on geology that left Mapes awestruck.  “I am a college educated man, and have been all my long life an investigator of scientific subjects and associated with scientific men,” he reacted, “but I stand here this afternoon dumb before this young girl.”


It was estimated that by age 18 Cora had given over 600 lectures on social, political, scientific, religious and reform matters, including the emancipation of the slaves, many to standing-room only crowds.  During the winter of 1856, when she was just 16, she spoke to audiences of more than 5,000 in Philadelphia.  It is said that President Abraham Lincoln, at the urging of Mary Lincoln, attended, with several congressman, one of her lectures on the abolition of slavery, in Washington, D.C., and that they were very much impressed by what they heard.

One theory offered to explain Richmond’s ability was called “psychological absorption,” which held that by merely putting her hand on a book or passing through a well-stocked library, Cora could absorb all knowledge stored in the book or in the library. At the same time, she would have had to discern it, organize it in her mind, and deliver it in a coherent and persuasive manner.  Another theory was that she was mind reading, drawing from the minds of all those present.  Still another far-fetched theory held that she was en rapport with the minds of eminent living men.

The skeptics were prepared to buy into anything but spirits of the dead, the explanation given by Cora, herself, or more accurately, through her lips while she was entranced.  It was explained through her vocal cords that there were 12 spirits having different gifts or phases of knowledge controlling her.  Some of these spirit guides were said to be from an ancient period and went unnamed, but several of them were from more modern times and were named.  They included Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Thomas Paine, Daniel Webster, and Thomas Jefferson.  According to witnesses who had known Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, the utterances coming through the young girl in trance were much like those of the men when they were alive in the flesh. (My more complete discussion of Cora Scott Richmond appears in the just-released issue of Atlantis Rising magazine.)

During the 1870s, William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who developed into a medium, was said to be controlled by a band of 49 spirits under the direction of a spirit called Imperator. Some of Imperator’s subordinates had names like Rector, Mentor, and Doctor. Apparently, Imperator was too far advanced and had to relay messages through some of the 49, who were closer in vibration to the earth vibration.  When Imperator was asked about his name and the other strange names in his band of 49 spirits, he explained,  “These names are but convenient symbols for influences brought to bear upon you.  In some cases the influence is not centralized; it is impersonal, as you would say.  In many cases the messages given you are not the product of any one mind, but are the collective influence of a number.  Many who have been concerned with you are but the vehicles to you of a yet higher influence which is obliged to reach you in that way.  We deliberate, we consult, and in many instances you receive the impression of our united thought.”

After his death in 1901, Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, communicated through several credible mediums, including Geraldine Cummins of Ireland, a trance automatist. 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 communicated through Cummins.  “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 communicated that a group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred souls, or a thousand souls and that the Buddhist’s idea of reincarnation is but a half-truth.  “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.”

As Kardec came to understand, the distinctive character of a spirit’s personality is in some sort obliterated in the uniformity of perfection, and yet it preserves its individuality.  “This is the case with the superior and pure spirits,” Kardec related.  “In this condition, the name they had on earth, in one of their thousand ephemeral corporeal existences, is quite an insignificant thing.  Let us remark again that spirits are attracted to each other by the similarity of their qualities, and that they thus form sympathetic groups or families … but as names are necessary to us to fix our ideas, they can take that of any known personage whose nature is best identified with their own. … It thus follows that if a person’s guardian angel gives his name as St. Peter, for instance, there is no actual proof that it is the apostle of that name; it may be he, or it may be an entirely unknown spirit belonging to the family of spirits of which St. Peter makes a part; it also follows that under whatever name the guardian angel is invoked, he comes to the call that is made, because he is attracted by the thought, and the name is indifferent to him.”

But why so much of it during the nineteenth century and so little of it in recent years?  Imperator told Stainton Moses that they (the superior spirits) overestimated their ability to communicate.  “It is true that Benjamin Franklin did discover means of communication by raps, and that he was greatly aided by Swedenborg in awakening interest among spirits in the subject,” Imperator communicated.  “At the time of the discovery it was believed that all denizens of both worlds would be brought into ready communion. But, both on account of the obstinate ignorance of man, and of the extent to which the privilege was abused by spirits who assumed well-known names and personated them and so deceived men, that privilege has been greatly narrowed.”

In effect, the superior or elevated spirits seem to have withdrawn because they had given as much as humans could absorb over a period of some 80 years and they weren’t getting through.  At the same time, inferior spirits were interfering or distorting the messages.  Who today would believe any medium claiming that Socrates, Jesus, Goethe, and Jefferson were all communicating through her or him?  “And Cleopatra, too?” would be the likely response, even mine. 

But that doesn’t mean they gave up completely.  From time to time over the last century, there have been a number of spirit communicators offering enlightenment for those open to it, such as with the Course in Miracles, Seth, and Stephen the Martyr.  I suspect that they involve group souls communicating rather than individual souls. And, as the pioneers of psychical research were told, it was the message that counted, not the messenger.  Of course, all that is simply way too much for the scientific mind.

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 15

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Shakespeare: Genius, Impostor, or Medium?

Posted on 17 September 2018, 7:43

Much has been written about the possibility that William Shakespeare (below) didn’t author the works credited to him, that he was, in effect, an impostor.  The subject is dealt with most recently in September/October issue of “Atlantis Rising” Magazine, in an article entitled “The Men & The Women Who Put Shakespeare Together,” by Steven Sora.  “William Shakespeare did not write the works attributed to him,” Sora asserts, going on to say that strong evidence now indicates that a handful of much more educated men and at least one woman penned the sonnets and plays.


In making the case against Shakespeare, Sora points out that Shakespeare could not write and that even his children and grandchildren were illiterate.  When he died, there was no indication that he owned any books, notes, correspondence, or copies of plays. Sora adds that Oxford scholar James Wilmot moved to Warwickshire, near Shakespeare’s home, during the 1780s to collect stories and write a biography on him, but came up with nothing and eventually came to the conclusion that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of the works credited to Shakespeare.  Unlike Shakespeare, Bacon was well educated, versed in languages, and wrote many historical and philosophical essays. 

Sora also mentions other candidates, including Roger Manners, the Earl of Rutland, Christopher Marlowe, a leading literary figure of the day, and Mary Sidney Herbert, the second Countess of Pembroke. Various websites suggest as many as 80 other candidates, including Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, and William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby.  But why wouldn’t these people claim credit for themselves?  According to Sora, writing for the stage in Elizabethan England was considered beneath the dignity of the elite class. In fact, playwrights were often arrested for satire and possibly treasonous works.


If Wikipedia is to be believed, only a few Shakespeare scholars and literary historians give any weight to the possibility that Shakespeare did not write the works credited to him.  The vast majority see it as a fringe belief.  It is mentioned there that the lack of documentary proof of Shakespeare’s education is often part of the anti-Shakespeare arguments, but that the free King’s New School in Stratford was only a half-mile from Shakespeare’s boyhood home and could have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar, the classics, and rhetoric at no cost.

So the majority see Shakespeare as the genius history has made him to be, while a minority claims he was an impostor.  However, there is a third possibility that is likely much too fringe for scholarly consideration – that is, Shakespeare was an automatic-writing medium and took dictation from the spirit world.  In fact, in his 1917 book, Spirit Intercourse: Its Theory and Practice, psychical researcher James Hewat McKenzie states that information derived from spirit sources holds that Shakespeare was a medium and received the works from Euripides, the Greek tragedian, and that Francis Bacon collaborated with Shakespeare in the endeavor.  McKenzie does not provide any information as to the spirit sources or the medium through whom these alleged spirits communicated, nor does he explain how Bacon collaborated with Shakespeare.  Thus, his explanation is hardly evidential or convincing.

However, when we consider the cases of both Patience Worth and the Glastonbury Scripts, the spirit explanation does not seem all that far fetched.  And there are many other cases of mediumship and “overshadowing” that contribute to a belief that much creativity comes through the minds of humans from the spirit world. 

Over a period of some 24 years, from 1913 to 1937, Patience Worth would produce approximately four million words, including seven books, some short stories, several plays, thousands of poems, and countless epigrams and aphorisms. She would be acclaimed a literary genius – her works compared with Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Spenser. She was called a wit, a poet, a dramatist, and a philosopher by literary experts of the day. 

Of her book, Hope Trueblood, a reviewer for Lady’s Pictorial of London offered:  “[This book] will stand as a landmark of fiction by a new writer, who will take a prominent place among great writers.” A New York Tribune review of Hope Trueblood called it a work “approximating absolute genius.” A Chicago Mail reviewer referred to the author as a “master word builder.”

Patience’s most celebrated work, The Sorry Tale, a 644-page, 325,000 word novel about the last days of Jesus, was released in June 1917. In its review of the book, The National wondered how the mysterious story-teller became familiar with the scent and sound and color and innumerable properties of Oriental market places and wildernesses, of Roman palaces, and halls of justice. The New York Globe stated that it exceeded Ben Hur and Quo Vadis as “a quaint realistic narrative.” The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch opined that no other book gives one so clear a view of customs, manners, and character of the peoples of the time and place.

Some readers of her books may have thought that Patience Worth was alive in the flesh, when, in fact, she had been “dead” for several centuries.  Her words were dictated through the mediumship of Pearl Curran, an American housewife with only an elementary school education, living in St. Louis, Missouri and never having traveled beyond Chicago. 

As journalist Casper Yost, who was present when much of The Sorry Tale was dictated by Patience Worth, explained, the story was begun without any previous knowledge on the part of Pearl Curran of the time and conditions of Palestine beyond what is revealed in the New Testament. Yet, the story goes far beyond what might be gleaned from the New Testament. “In one evening, 5,000 words were dictated, covering the account of the crucifixion,” Yost reported.

Professor Roland Greene Usher, dean of history at Washington University, called The Sorry Tale “the greatest story of Christ penned since the Gospels were finished.” He pointed out that the book was written in seventeenth-century English with no anachronisms.  It was noted by Prince that Pearl Curran was not raised in a religious family, and although confirmed in the Episcopal Church, she claimed that she had never read the Bible through and through.

W. T. Allison, professor of English literature at the University of Manitoba, observed that Patience Worth dictated words found only in Melton’s time and some of them had no meaning until researched in dialectic dictionaries and old books. Allison, who closely observed Curran, reported that in one evening 15 poems were produced in an hour and 15 minutes, an average of five minutes for each poem. “All were poured out with a speed that Tennyson or Browning could never have hoped to equal, and some of the 15 lyrics are so good that either of those great poets might be proud to have written them,” Allison offered. He went on to say that Patience Worth “must be regarded as the outstanding phenomenon of our age, and I cannot help thinking of all time.”

Curran’s limited education and travel were totally inconsistent with theories of conscious fraud or subconscious memories. English scholars struggled with some of the archaic Anglo-Saxon language. In one of her novels, Patience dictated, “I wot he fetcheth in daub-smeared smock.” Even in the early 1900s, the word “fetch” was rarely used, but when used it meant to “go and get” someone or something. Patience used it as synonymous with “came” or “cometh,” which philologists confirmed as the word’s original meaning.

So if Pearl Curran actually took dictation from Patience Worth in the spirit world, why couldn’t Shakespeare take dictation from Euripides?  The significant difference here is that Pearl Curran did not take credit for the books.  Patience Worth was listed as the author even though she had died several centuries earlier.

As for the “collaboration” aspect involving Bacon, it should be kept in mind that much of the research in mediumship indicates that the medium and/or the person sitting with the medium must be en rapport with the spirit communicator.  There must be a “sympathetic link” of some kind between them.  Such a link must have existed between Pearl Curran and Patience Worth but not between Captain John Allan Bartlett and the spirits of Glastonbury.  Bartlett, an automatic writing medium, received little or nothing from the spirits of the Glastonbury monks until Frederick Bligh Bond, the excavator of the Glastonbury ruins, placed two fingers on top of Bartlett’s hand as he wrote, thereby adding either psychic power and/or a sympathetic link.  In this way, Bartlett and Bond “collaborated” in receiving message from the early inhabitants of Glastonbury Abbey as to where to dig and in giving them the layout of the old abbey foundation.  Whether this “combined psychic energy” is the “collaboration” Bacon had with Shakespeare is a matter of speculation, but it seems like a reasonable possibility, at least reasonable to the open-minded person who is familiar with the research in this field.   

Consideration should also be given to the case of Rosemary Brown, a widowed London housewife who, beginning in 1964, purportedly received compositions from the spirits of many great composers, including Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, and Debussy.  Although Brown had taken some piano lessons, she had no real talent and was unacquainted with the technicalities of writing notes.  Mediumistic since her childhood, Brown received a message from Liszt via automatic writing in which he said that a group of composers from the spirit world would be using her to dictate new compositions through her by means of automatic writing.  “You have sufficient training for our purposes,” Liszt told her.  “Had you been given a really full musical education it would have been no help to us at all.”  He further explained that a full musical background would have been an impediment to them as she would have had too many theories and ideas of her own that they might not have been able to overcome.

Applying Liszt’s explanation to Shakespeare and Bacon, we might conclude that Euripides required a less-educated mind than that of Bacon in order to get his words through without distortion, and Shakespeare filled the bill. 

Yes, that calls for even more speculation, but it makes as much or more sense to me than does an uneducated man with no library at all writing the works attributed to Shakespeare, or Bacon or some other educated person writing all the “works” and passing it all on to Shakespeare to take credit for.  I’m not sure where that leaves Shakespeare.  If it was his hand but not his mind, does that make him an impostor?

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 1

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Facing Death with Hope

Posted on 03 September 2018, 12:43

Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level – Ernest Becker

As Hurricane Lane approached Hawaii, where I live, with 170 mph winds on August 23, I began having visions of my departure from this realm of existence.  Our governor announced that there are not enough evacuation centers for the majority of the population and suggested we stay in our homes, even though it is obvious that most of the single-wall frame dwellings in the state cannot resist such torrential winds, probably not even 70 mph forces.  I had visions of our roof flying off as my wife Gina and I hovered under the heavy mahogany dining room table before we too experienced “lift off” and went flying off yonder.  As Lane moved closer and closer to the island with some “scientific” projections showing a direct hit or the center of the hurricane being at least close enough to cause disastrous winds, I began to feel like a prisoner on death-row must feel while awaiting execution the next day.  My biggest fear, however, was not that I would die but that I would survive it.

Although I have come to view death itself as a transition to a larger, more real life, the dying part of it all has never seemed especially easy or appealing.  I thought that if I were alone it would not be too traumatic, but I was concerned about Gina being able to handle it all.  To put it another way, I was more or less prepared to “go west,” as they used to say about death, but I felt much anxiety about my wife and other loved ones following me at the same time.  Fortunately, Lane decided to “go west” from its path toward our island, about 150 miles short of impact, and we lived to see another day.

It was the third time this year that I thought my time remaining in the physical world was very short, the first being the false ballistic missile alert here in Hawaii during January when someone at the civil defense headquarters pushed the wrong button.  For some 38 minutes, there was considerable anxiety as the people of Hawaii ran for shelters and braced themselves. After the initial alert, I flipped on the television and saw a basketball game still in progress and programs on other channels also in progress, leading me to believe that it must be a false alarm.  But, still, it was an anxious time and I tried to mentally prepare myself for the worst, while hoping I would not survive a nuclear blast.

The second time was just two weeks before Hurricane Lane.  My A-Fib (atrial fibrillation) condition was acting up and resulting in some very shallow breathing. It was the worst I had experienced and I went to bed that night thinking that it was about 50-50 that I would wake up the next morning.  Such are the trials and tribulations of old age.

The closest to death’s threshold I can recall being at before this year was on May 13, 1969 when living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and getting caught up in the middle of the Sino-Malay riots, with bolo knife and machete-wielding rioters headed in my direction less than 15 seconds from me.  Around 200 people – some estimates put it at closer to 600 – were slain on the downtown streets that night, but somehow I managed to survive that one.  There was no time to think about death on that occasion.  My focus was strictly on getting my two young daughters under cover.  My recent experiences suggest that having time to really think about one’s impending demise is not a particularly good thing – unless, of course, the person survives, in which case it might provide food for reformed thought.   

“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation,” wrote anthropologist Ernest Becker (below) in his 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death, “but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”  As Becker explains it, if I am reading him correctly, all our fears, neuroses, phobias, depressive states, however they are classified, are rooted in a fear of death, even if we don’t recognize them as such. To free oneself of death anxiety, nearly everyone chooses the path of repression.  That is, we bury the idea of death deep in the subconscious and then busy ourselves with our jobs, our families, and our toys, escape into fictitious stories in books, at the movies, and on television, and otherwise 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.  “We enter into symbiotic relationships in order to get the security we need, in order to get relief from our anxieties, our aloneness and helplessness; but these relationships also bind us, they enslave us even further because they support the lie we have fashioned,” Becker goes on. “So we strain against them in order to be more free.”  In effect, Becker states, “the essence of normality is the refusal of reality,” or to look at it another way, all “normal” people are neurotics and most of those called neurotics are in touch with reality.


Becker refers to this “secure” person as the “automatic cultural man.”  He is “man confined by culture, a slave to it, who imagines that he has an identity if he pays his insurance premiums, that he has control of his life if he guns his sports car or works his electric toothbrush.”  Becker borrows his “automatic cultural man” from Søren Kierkegaard’s Philistine – man fully tranquilized with the trivial.  As Kierkegaard, referred to as the “father of existentialism,” saw it, most people are so absorbed in philistinism that they don’t even realize they are in constant despair from their fear of death, all the while using repression as a defense mechanism to overcome that despair.

“...human meanings are fragile, ephemeral; they are constantly being discredited by historical events and natural calamities,” Becker continues. “One Hitler can efface centuries of scientific and religious meanings; one earthquake [or hurricane] can negate a million times the meaning of a personal life.”

Becker explains that one’s basic narcissism is increased when one’s childhood experiences have been securely life-supporting and warmly enhancing to the sense of self.  “We might say that [a man’s] repression of the idea of his own death is made easy for him before he is fortified against it in his very narcissistic vitality.”  He mentions an increase in anxiety neuroses in children living in Southern California as a result of a number of earth tremors there.  “For these children the discovery that life really includes cataclysmic danger was too much for their still-imperfect denial systems – hence open outbursts of anxiety,” he writes, adding that adults display this same manifestation of anxiety in the face of impending catastrophe.

Although I am not aware of any study resulting from the false missile alert here in Hawaii during January, there were certainly indications of such anxiety reported in the media following the incident, and I suspect that Hurricane Lane has served as an eye-opener for many, perhaps getting them to wonder what life will be like if they have no electricity and no smartphones to play with 24/7 and thereby escape from death anxiety. However, as with the tragedies of September 11, 2001, such an awakening seems to last only a few weeks or a few months at most before people return to the ways of the Philistine. 

I can’t imagine being close to death without a conviction that my real self would survive.  Being blown into oblivion by a nuclear blast, falling asleep into oblivion as my heart gives out after more than 80 years of faithful service, or flying off into oblivion with the winds is a bit more than my psyche can handle or endure.  I know there are some nihilists who claim the idea of total extinction doesn’t bother them because there will be no consciousness to realize that one is extinct, but I suspect that such stoicism is just so much bravado (pretend courage) designed to protect the ego. 
As Becker saw it, when Science replaced the Church during the nineteenth century, it extinguished the ideas of soul and God and threw man back hopelessly on his own resources, on himself and those around him.  “Even lovers and families trap and disillusion us because they are not substitutes for absolute transcendence,” he wrote.  “We might say they are poor illusions….”  Becker saw religion as the best of all solutions for death anxiety, pointing out that it meets the two ontological motives of the human condition – the need to surrender oneself in full to the rest of nature and recognize some higher meaning, and the need to expand oneself as an individual self-sacrificing personality, “Finally, religion alone gives hope, because it holds open the dimension of the unknown and the unknowable, the fantastic mystery of creation that the human mind cannot even begin to approach, the possibility of a multidimensionality of spheres of existence, of heavens and possible embodiments that make a mockery of earthly logic – and in doing so, it relieves the absurdity of earthly life, all the impossible limitations and frustrations of living matter,” he offered. “...Religion takes one’s very creatureliness, one’s insignificance, and makes it a condition of hope.”

Becker recognized that the answer was in finding “an all-embracing and all-justifying beyond,” one that was more sensible than that subscribed to by orthodox religions.  And yet, Becker was a non-believer, at least an agnostic. He makes no distinction between religion and a non-religious belief in survival based on the research carried out by many credible scientists and scholars, and there is no indication that he was even aware of such research.  He died at the age of 50 in 1974, the year after his prize-winning book was published, and just before the introduction of near-death studies by Dr. Raymond Moody.  Nor did Becker appear to recognize that the anthropomorphic God of religion is not necessary for a belief in survival. They come across as concomitants in his discussion. He clearly struggled with his own despair and lack of hope, and surely envied Kierkegaard who was able to make a “leap of faith” into the belief of a larger life.  “What characterizes modern life,” Becker wrote, referring to the early 1970s, “is the failure of all traditional immortality ideologies to absorb and quicken man’s hunger for self-perpetuation and heroism.”

All I can end with is that I am glad to have found an ideology that Becker couldn’t find.  Moreover, it goes beyond Kierkegaard’s “faith” to “conviction” and provides hope to overcome the despair that Becker and many others have experienced in dealing with man’s greatest fear.  And now to prepare for the next hurricane, already headed in this direction.

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. 17. 

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Afterlife Teachings from an Advanced Spirit

Posted on 20 August 2018, 8:46

After Lord Adare’s 1869 book, Experiences in Spiritualism with DD Home about the amazing mediumship of Daniel Dunglas Home was released, William Stainton Moses, (below) an Anglican priest, referred to it as the “dreariest twaddle” and just so much “stuff and nonsense.”  Little did Moses realize at the time that within two or three years, he would develop into a medium with abilities similar to those of Home.  In fact, Home and Moses have gone down in history as the most influential mediums of the first 80 years of the nineteenth century. 


Born on November 5, 1839 in Lincolnshire, England, Moses, who went by Stainton, his mother’s maiden name, earned his master’s degree at Oxford in 1863 and served as a curate on the Isle of Man for five years before being appointed English Master in University College London, a position he would hold until 1889.

In Moses’s biography, Charlton Templeman Speer, a renowned musician, recorded that Moses and his father, Dr. Stanhope Speer, frequently discussed religious matters and both were gradually drifting into an unorthodox, almost agnostic, frame of mind.  Mrs. Speer had taken an interest in spiritualism and persuaded her husband and Moses to attend a séance with medium Lottie Fowler.  During that sitting, on April 2, 1872, Moses received some very evidential information about a friend who had died.  His curiosity aroused, Moses attended other séances, including some with D. D. Home. 

On March 30, 1873, spirit messages started coming through Moses’s hand by means of “automatic writing.” This method was adopted, Moses was informed by the spirits, for convenience purposes and so that he could preserve a connected body of teachings. However, the spirits also communicated in the direct voice and trance voice when a small circle of friends, including Dr. and Mrs. Speer, Serjeant Cox, a barrister, and several others gathered at the Speer’s home.  The teachings coming through Moses were compiled in two books, Spirit Teachings, published by Moses in 1883, and More Spirit Teachings, collected and published after his death in 1892 by Mrs. Speer. Mrs. Speer recorded the teaching coming through the direct voice and the trance voice. 
Many of the messages conflicted with Moses’s beliefs and with Church dogma and doctrine.  “It is certain that the mass of ideas conveyed to me were alien to my own opinions, were in the main opposed to my settled convictions, and, moreover, that in several cases information, of which I was assuredly ignorant, clear, precise, and definite in form, susceptible of verification and always exact, was thus conveyed to me,” he explained. 

The teachings came from a band of 49 spirits under the direction of one called Imperator, who said that he had come to explain the spirit world, how it is controlled, and the way in which information is conveyed to humans.  “Man must judge according to the light of reason that is in him.” Imperator voiced through Moses when asked how anyone could know if what was being taught was actual truth.  “That is the ultimate standard, and the progressive soul will receive what the ignorant or prejudiced will reject.  God’s truth is forced on none.”

Spirits named Rector and Doctor were the most frequent communicators, although indications were that they were merely relaying teachings from Imperator, who was at too high a vibration or frequency to effectively communicate directly with Moses. That is, Rector and Doctor were at a level closer to the earth frequency and better able to get through to Moses.

“I remember mentally wondering how such spirits spoke English; and, in reply to my thought, several addressed me one after another in different languages,” Moses explained the phenomenon. “They were not intelligible to me, but were interpreted by Imperator. He also showed me how spirits commune with each other by transfusion of thought.  Imperator explained that the sounds could be made in the same way, without any aid from anything material.”

Moses further explained that as his hand was writing, his spirit was separated from his body.  He recalled standing in spirit next to his body and observing the writing taking place. Rector held one hand on Moses’s head and the other hand on his right hand, which held the pen.  “Through the ceiling streamed down a mild, pleasing light, and now and again rays of bluish light were shot down on my body,” he said. “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.”

According to Charlton Speer, Moses (or the spirits working through him) could, by simply placing his hands on it, levitate a large mahogany table which otherwise required the strength of two men to move it an inch.  The spirits levitated Moses at least three times, on one occasion raising him on the table and then lifting him from the table to an adjacent sofa. 

Other phenomena reported by Charlton Speer included a great variety of communicating raps, numerous lights, luminous hands, musical sounds, direct writing (no hand holding the pencil), apports, and the passage of matter through matter. 

“I can only say that they were delivered in a dignified, temperate, clear, and convincing tone, and that though the voice proceeded from the medium, it was always immediately apparent that the personality addressing us was not that of the medium,” Speer explained.  “The voice was different, and the ideas were often not in accordance with those held at the time by the medium.  An important fact, too, was that although many spirits exercised this power of control, the voice which spoke was always different; and in the case of those spirits which controlled regularly we came to know perfectly well which intelligence was communicating, by the tone of the voice and method of enunciation.”

Here are some of the teachings coming from the Imperator band:

Imperator & Spirit Names:  “These names are but convenient symbols for influences brought to bear upon you. In some cases the influence is not centralized; it is impersonal, as you would say.  In many cases the messages given you are not the product of any one mind, but are the collective influence of a number.  Many who have been concerned with you are but the vehicles to you of a yet higher influence which is obliged to reach you in that way.  We deliberate, we consult, and in many instances you receive the impression of our united thought.”

Barrier to Spirit Influence: “The busy world is ever averse from the things of spirit life. Men become so absorbed in the material, that which they can see and grasp, and hoard up, and they forget that there is a future and spirit life. They become so earthly that they are impervious to our influence; so material that we cannot come near them; so full of earthly interests that there is no room for that which shall endure when they have passed away.  More than this, the constant preoccupation leaves no time for contemplation, and the spirit is wasted for lack of sustenance. The spiritual state is weak; the body is worn and weary with weight of work and anxious care, and the spirit is well-nigh inaccessible.  The whole air, moreover, is heavy with conflicting passions, with heart-burnings, and jealousies, and contentions, and all that is inimical to us.”

Evidence: “There is a point beyond which it is impossible for us to present evidence.  Of that you are aware.  We labour under one great disadvantage, as compared with human witnesses; we are not of your earth, and cannot produce for you the kind of evidence which would weigh in your courts of justice.  We can but state for your acceptance the evidence on which we ground our claims to your hearing and acceptance, leaving to your own mind in fairness to decide upon the points which we cannot clear up by evidence.”

Truths: “We can only dimly symbolize truths which one day your unclouded eye will see in their full spendour.  We cannot speak with clearness when the spirit of our medium is troubled, when his body is racked with pain, or his mental state vitiated by disease.  Nay, even a lowering atmosphere, or electric disturbance, or the neighborhood of unsympathetic and unfavorable human influences, may colour a communication, or prevent it from being clear and complete.”

Jesus:  “You inquire from us what position we assign to Jesus the Christ.  We are not careful to enter into curious comparisons between different teachers who, in different ages, have been sent from God.  The time is not yet come for that; but this we know, that no spirit more pure, more godlike, more noble, more blessing and more blessed, ever descended to find a home on your earth.  None more worthily earned by a life of self-sacrificing love the adoring reverence devotion of mankind.  None bestowed more blessings on humanity; none wrought a greater work for God.” 

Literalism:  “Friend, you must discriminate between God’s truths and man’s glosses.  We do not dishonour the Lord Jesus – before whose exalted majesty we bow – by refusing to acquiesce in a fiction which He would disown, and which man has forced upon His name.  No, assuredly: but they who from a strict adherence to the literal text of Scripture – a text which they have not understood, and the spirit of which they have never grasped – have dishonoured the Great Father of Him, and of all alike, and have impiously, albeit ignorantly, derogated from the honour due to the Supreme alone…The holding of a narrow, cold, dogmatic creed, in all its rigid lifeless literalism, cramps the soul, dwarfs its spirituality, clogs its progress, and stunts its growth.  ‘The letter,’ says your Scripture, ‘the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.’ Hence we denounce such views of God as are contained in the fable of a material hell; and we proclaim to you purer and more rational ideas than are contained in the orthodox notions of atonement and vicarious sacrifice.”

Faith:  “Faith to be real must be outside the limits of caution, and be fired by something more potent and effective than calculating prudence, or logical deduction, or judicial impartiality.  It must be the fire that burns within, the mainspring that regulates the life, the overmastering force that will not be at rest.  This is that faith that Jesus spoke of when He said of it that it was able to move mountains. This is that which braves death and torture, braces up the feeble knees for long and hard endurance, and conducts its possessor safe at last through any perils that may assail him to the goal where faith finds its reward in fruition.” 

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.  

Spirit Teachings and More Spirit Teachings by William Stainton Moses are available from Amazon.

Next blog post:  Sept. 3

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Suicide or Murder? Clairvoyance or a Mother’s Intuition?

Posted on 06 August 2018, 9:26

The key issue involving the death of James Sutton, (below) a 22-year-old newly commissioned second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, was whether or not he had committed suicide. The other possibilities were that he was murdered by fellow officers, that he was shot in self-defense by the fellow officers, or that he accidentally shot himself while engaged in a brawl with one or more of the other officers.  The case grabbed national headlines around the country, from the New York Times and Washington Post to the San Francisco Chronicle and Portland Oregonian.  It involved politicians, the Secretary of the Navy, America’s only Catholic cardinal, high-ranking military officers, and distinguished lawyers and doctors.


Sutton’s death took place on the grounds of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, then the basic school for marine officers, in the early morning hours of October 13, 1907.  As he returned to his barracks with three fellow marine officers, after a night of socializing and drinking, Sutton was involved in an argument with one or more of them and an altercation resulted with shots being fired.  It all ended with Sutton being shot in the head as one or two of the fellow officers reportedly pinned him to the ground.  The statements made by the three fellow officers and others who came upon the scene were confusing and conflicting, but the board of inquest concluded that all the evidence was reliable and pointed to death by suicide, even though the trajectory of the bullet into the side of Sutton’s head above the right ear would likely have required him to pull the trigger with his thumb, unless, as one expert testified, he had been a contortionist.  The possibility that he tried to shoot the person pinning him to the deck while using his thumb to pull the trigger also looms as a very reasonable possibility.

Sutton’s mother, Rosa Sutton, (below) had another reason to believe that “Jimmie” had not committed suicide. “Mama I never did,” Rosa recalled Jimmie’s words, when his apparition appeared to her some 12 hours after his death at his parents’ home in Portland, Oregon, just after they received a telegram advising of his death by suicide. “My hands are as free from crime as they were when I was five years old.  Oh, Mother, don’t believe them.  Adams struck me in the head with the butt of a gun and stunned me.  I fell on my knees and they beat me worse than a dog in the street.  Mamma dear, if you could only see my forehead you would know what they did to me. Don’t give way, for you must clear my name.  God will give you the men (means?) to bring those men to justice.”


On October 16, three days after his death, Jimmie again allegedly appeared to his mother and said, “They put a bandage around my forehead and around to the back of my neck to try to hide what they had done.  My face was all beaten up and discolored and my forehead broken and a lump under my left jaw.  They put my body in a basement and left it there.  Utley managed and directed the whole affair.” As Jimmie’s apparition spoke, his mother noted that he had his overcoat on and that he kept looking around for something.  She asked him what he was looking for and he said that his shoulder knot (epaulet) was missing.  Jimmie also told his mother that his watch had been broken with a kick as he lay on the ground. He added that he did not realize he had been shot until he “woke up in eternity.”

And so began Rosa Sutton’s two-year legal battle with the Navy Department to clear her son’s name.  Indications are that there was a deeper reason for her crusade than simply setting the record straight and erasing the stigma of suicide. “As a Catholic, Rosa Brant Sutton believed suicide was a mortal sin,” author Robin R. Cutler explains in the Prologue of her book, A Soul on Trial, published by Rowman & Littlefield.  “If the navy was correct, Jimmie would spend eternity in hell with no chance of being reunited with his loved ones.”  Moreover, Jimmie’s admission to purgatory and then heaven, rather than hell, required, in Rosa’s mind, a priest to consecrate his grave at Arlington National Cemetery, something a priest was not allowed to do in the case of a suicide.


It seems strange that Rosa, described by an investigator as “shrewd” and a woman of “unusual intelligence,” would assume that a celestial judge would render justice based on the verdict of a terrestrial board of inquest.  Seemingly, a celestial judge would most certainly know the true facts and direct Jimmie to the proper station in the afterlife without regard for the terrestrial finding.  But Rosa, like many others of that time, apparently did not question Church dogma and doctrine. 

Even before Jimmie’s death, and considering the three-hour time difference between Annapolis and Portland, Rosa sensed something was wrong with Jimmie.  At about the time of his death, or shortly before, she felt as if a knife had struck her in the heart and cried out to her husband and two daughters that something had happened to Jimmie, after which she retired to her room and prayed.  Rosa reported Jimmie coming to her in different ways in the weeks following his death. 

Was Rosa Sutton delusional or was she really seeing and hearing from her discarnate son?  In 1910, three years after the death of Jimmie and after his remains had received a proper Catholic burial, Rosa contacted Professor James Hyslop, who headed up the American Society for Psychical Research, and requested help in understanding what was going on with her visions. Hyslop sent an investigator, George A. Thacher, who lived near the Suttons, to determine if she actually had psychic or mediumistic abilities. Family members, including her husband and daughters, confirmed her visions and words on the night of Jimmie’s death and the next day as Jimmie told her of his innocence.  Thacher reported that the family members, including two of Rosa’s sisters, had been accustomed to Rosa’s premonitions and visions over the years and had shrugged it all off as just so much “happy-hearted nonsense and chaff,” while Rosa, herself, didn’t know what to make of it.  Moreover, as good Christians, all members of the family saw anything resembling Spiritualism as repugnant to them.

Rosa told Thacher that when she lived in Los Angeles, some 20 years earlier, her mother, who lived in Vancouver, Washington, appeared to her several hours before she received a telegram notifying her of her mother’s death. Before that, in 1884, she had a “knowing” that something had happened to her 18-year-old brother, Albert.  As it turned out, Albert had died that day.  That night, Albert came to her while she was sleeping and told her that her house was on fire.  She assumed it was nothing more than a dream and attempted to go back to sleep.  She then felt a touch on her shoulder, heard some noise in the house, and realized her house was actually on fire.

Rosa had a number of other visions and premonitions over the years, but they were nothing more than curiosities to her and irritations to her husband and some of her family members. James, her husband, saw it as simply a “mother’s intuition” of some kind, even though she had such visions not involving her children. Perhaps the most veridical vision came on December 16, 1910 when Thacher arrived at the Sutton home to interview Rosa Sutton.  She told him that she had a dream or vision that very morning in which she saw a coffin.  As she stepped up to the coffin, she saw the smiling face of Sister Dorothy (actually, Sister Dorothea), who had been her teacher, as well as her sister’s teacher, in Catholic school in Vancouver more than 30 years earlier.  Her sister, Mary, was especially close to Sister Dorothy.  Both Mary and Rosa were under the impression that Sister Dorothy was dead, and the purpose of the vision was unknown.  But then, nearly three weeks later, on January 4, 1911, the Portland Oregonian carried a notice and photo of Sister Dorothea, reporting that she had died the previous day, on January 3.  Thacher concluded that this was some kind of premonitory-type vision and that there was absolutely no deception on the part of Rosa or her sister.  Rosa attended the funeral of Sister Dorothy and told Thacher that the coffin and room corresponded with those she had seen in her vision. 

When Jimmie’s personal belongings arrived back home in Portland in a trunk, his watch was there with the crystal shattered.  It had stopped at 1:15, believed to be the time of his death. As Rosa held the watch, it began ticking and stopped after three minutes.  “Jimmie says that’s how long I suffered,” Rosa told her daughter, Rose, who replied, “Mamma, you have lost your mind.”  The watch started up again and ran for two minutes.  “That’s how much longer I lived,” Rosa relayed Jimmie’s words.  The watch was taken to a jeweler, who had a difficult time restoring it to working order.  It was given to another son, who reported that it stopped at 1:20 every day for about a year before being further repaired. 

In addition to the shattered watch, Rosa’s visions were given some credence by the fact that the autopsy showed that Jimmie’s face was badly beaten, including the forehead and the lump under his left jaw, independent of the gunshot wound to the right side of his head, and the epaulet was missing from his military overcoat. Also, his head had a large bandage wrapped around it before his first burial.

Needless to say, Rosa’s visions were not admissible in the military court of inquiry that took place in 1909 in Rosa’s extensive efforts to have the suicide verdict overturned. Thacher and Hyslop concluded that they were veridical to a certain extent, but there was no way to tell how much her memory and those of family members had distorted the visions.  Hyslop gave considerable weight to the possibility that the two names, Adams and Utley, were filled in by Rosa and family members to fit facts later developed.  Her words, agreed to in substance by family members and others interviewed by Thacher, were not likely verbatim and only recalled and recorded in general at a later date.  If those two names actually came through on the first and third days following Jimmie’s death, before the Sutton family had become aware of the circumstances and the other officers involved, it would certainly have added some strong evidence for psi or extra-sensory perception, even if not admissible in court.  Of course, a defense counsel would likely argue that Jimmie had mentioned those names in the many letters he had written to his family, possibly even commenting on differences he might have had with his two fellow officers, thereby leading Rosa to associate those names with her visions.

The head injuries not associated with the gunshot wound, the bandaged head, the damaged watch, the missing epaulet, along with Rosa’s many other experiences attested to by others but not taken seriously by them, or even by Rosa, all suggested that Rosa had clairvoyant abilities of some kind.  Although it is not a particularly strong case for such ability, it is certainly a very interesting and intriguing one.

It should be noted that the Catholic Church has changed its position on the fate of the suicide in the afterlife in recent years. According to the Catholic Education Research Center website, fear, force, ignorance, habit, passion, and psychological problems can all impede the will of the person and therefore the person may not be fully responsible or responsible at all for taking his or her life. Thus, it is in God’s hands as to how the person is judged and only He can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance.

I think Cutler should have been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her efforts in researching this case and writing about it, clearly a long-term and laborious undertaking. (See her website and special deal on the book at  Considering the likelihood that the court’s decision would not have affected Jimmie’s fate in the afterlife one way or the other, one has to wonder if Rosa Sutton’s crusade, which reportedly cost the family $10,000 or more, quite a sum in those days, was worth it all, but in the very end Jimmie communicated to his mother what it was all about, and it does, in fact, seem that there was a bigger picture to it all.  It was, Jimmy communicated, “to purify the Navy, Mamma.”

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 20

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Wealth & Spirituality went hand-in-hand with John Fetzer

Posted on 23 July 2018, 8:55

I have friends and relatives who think I have gone too far in my spiritual quest – that I am too unorthodox, too unscientific, too gullible, too delusional, even too unhinged in my pursuit of existential, metaphysical and spiritual truths.  I sometimes wonder if they are right, and so now and then I’ll make an effort to focus more on mundane matters.  However, I find it difficult to sustain that focus when I stop to think how utterly trivial most of our daily activities are. Moreover, it becomes increasingly difficult to find new, exciting toys to play with when one is in his 80s, and so the tendency is to revert to the esoteric.  It was thus with some justification and vindication that I just read about a man who seems to have been more “unhinged” than I am, even though he found time to become one of the richest men in America. 

John E. Fetzer was ranked by Forbes as one of the 400 richest Americans. His quest is set forth in a book titled John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, (below) published by Wayne State University Press and due for release August 6 (although available for pre-order by book sellers).  I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy from the publisher.  My initial reaction upon seeing the cover and the title was one of disinterest, but I noted in the promotional material that Fetzer was owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1956 to 1983, and, being an ardent baseball fan, that fact prompted me to open the book. I’m glad I did, as it turned out to be a very interesting read about a very intriguing man.


Born in 1901 in Indiana, Fetzer (below) was brought up in the Methodist Church, but, following his mother’s conversion to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he joined that faith sometime during his teens.  He went on to graduate from Emmanuel Missionary College, an Adventist institution, before taking graduate classes in physics and mathematics at the University of Michigan. Sometime around 1930, Fetzer gave up on Adventism and explored Spiritualism, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, UFOlogy, New Thought, and Buddhism, adopting something of an amalgamation of all those belief systems as a worldview, at the same time clinging to his Christian roots while attending a Presbyterian church. 


Along his journey, Fetzer read the works of Alice Bailey, Frederic Myers, Edgar Cayce, Arthur Findlay, Carl Jung, Charles Leadbeater, George Meek, Jane Roberts, and countless others. He was especially enamored with The Urantia Book, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, the Seth material, and A Course in Miracles.  He seems to have been very discerning in what he held on to and what he rejected.

“Spiritualism and divination had a decided impact on Fetzer’s spiritual quest,” author Brian C. Wilson, professor of comparative religion at Western Michigan University, writes, “but it was only the beginning of his investigation into metaphysical traditions and techniques.  After his experience with [Adventism], never again would Fetzer be tied down to one belief system, and indeed, from this point forward, a fundamental pattern developed in his spiritual quest in which Fetzer acted as the consummate bricoleur, sampling many spiritual traditions, accepting some of their elements and rejecting others, all in the attempt to create a worldview that would work for him.  In this sense, Fetzer’s worldview was always a work in progress, with one discovery leading him on to another and new discoveries continually enriching his approach to life, the universe, and God.”

All the while, Fetzer was pursuing a career in radio.  After buying radio station WKZO in Kalamazoo, Michigan, while in his 20s, he expanded to WJEF in Grand Rapids, and then, during World War II, accepted an appointment by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as assistant director for broadcast censorship, then later an appointment from General Dwight Eisenhower to survey the state of radio in postwar Europe.  After the war, he moved into television and gradually built a media empire.  Various other investments along the way apparently gave him enough wealth to buy the Tigers baseball team, as an investor in 1956 and then outright in 1961. 

All of Fetzer’s business ventures and successes do not seem to have distracted him from his spiritual quest.  He attended many Spiritualist activities at Camp Chesterfield in Indiana.  Through one medium there, he heard from his deceased younger brother and father, reinforcing in him the idea that family bonds are eternal.  According to Wilson, Fetzer found in Spiritualism, Freemasonry, Hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism “a [spiritually] monistic cosmos composed of conscious energy; the conception of the body as microcosm; the reality of psychic powers and the possibility of scientific discovery of spiritual laws; the operation of karma and reincarnation; the continuing centrality of Jesus; the contemporary relevance of ancient wisdom from past civilizations such as Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu; the divine destiny of the United States under the watchful eye of a brotherhood of secret masters; the harmony of science and religion; and the impending global spiritual transformation leading to the New Age.”  However, it was, Wilson suggests, Theosophy that wove them all together in a comprehensive cosmic scheme for Fetzer.

During the last decade of his life, an interviewer asked him about his thoughts on life after death.  “I don’t believe that man comes into this life to have a shallow experience, make some improvements and developments, only to fade away to nothing,” he responded. “There’s something more.  Five minutes after man discards his material body in this world, he could assume another body, another form.  He could be operating on another channel, a new frequency, a new plane of existence. I think that every person will transfer to that new plane, but he or she will be precisely in the same place of life status as when the person was in the previous plane….” 

Fetzer transitioned at age 89, while living in Honolulu, but the John E. Fetzer Institute exists today in Kalamazoo to encourage spiritual development for all people, while supporting inclusive communities and institutions around the world that are grounded in spirit and exploring the relationship between science and spirituality to support a fuller understanding of our existence.

In the Hall of Records of the Fetzer Administration Building there are eight busts done in bronze.  They represent Socrates, Ramses II, Francis I, Joseph of Arimathea, Louis XIV, St. John of the Cross, Henry II and Thomas Jefferson – men who Fetzer believed brought humanity to a new level of awareness and potential. 
The “New Age” label in the title also discouraged me in the beginning, since as Wilson points out, the New Age movement “has devolved to the point that many contemporary observers see it as a shorthand for shallowness and reject the label outright.”  However, Fetzer accepted it before it began to devolve and saw it as signifying “the path of attainment and complete personal fulfillment.”

So many people react to such a spiritual mindset by saying “one life at a time for me” or something to that effect.  They don’t grasp the fact that seeing and embracing the larger picture can make this life more meaningful and fulfilling.  There is no indication in the book that Fetzer read the works of Stuart Edward White, a popular author on spiritual matters during the 1930s, and ‘40s.  I suspect he did, and, if he did, I’m sure he would have agreed with White and his wife Betty that “habitual spiritual consciousness” is the key to enjoying this life.  As it was explained to Betty, a medium, by the spirits she was in contact with, the objective is getting to know the higher self “and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized.”  Habitual spiritual consciousness does not mean retirement into some cloistered nunnery.  “It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession.  Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influences automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon to lend a helping hand.” 

In finishing this book, I saw Fetzer as the personification of “habitual spiritual consciousness.”  That said, it’s back to the mundane for me.  It’s time to watch baseball. 

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 23

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Life After Death: the Many Faces of Skepticism

Posted on 09 July 2018, 9:03

As Brian Inglis explains it in his 1986 book, The Hidden Power, recently republished by White Crow Books, the pioneers of psychical research realized that no single case would be convincing in itself as the skeptic could always find some reason to question it; thus, they believed they could make their case by combining many cases that would give all the single cases “the strength of a faggot” – an analogy that holds that while a single twig can be easily snapped, a faggot, composed of many twigs bound together, is not so easily broken.  But the skeptics countered with the analogy of the “leaking buckets.”  No matter how many buckets you have, if each one has a hole in it, water will not be conserved.


Inglis asserts that there are similar holes in the bucket called “neo-Darwinism,” but mainstream scientists seem to ignore them   He goes on to point out that reliance on any single case is contrary to the established scientific method.  “Science relies on cumulative evidence,” he writes. “...Anybody who claims to be waiting until a single absolutely conclusive bit of evidence turns up is in reality a man who is not open to conviction, as he would realize if he were a logician, because in logic single facts can never be proved except as part of a system.” 

In Part 3 of his book, “The Case Against Scientism,” Inglis sets forth a number of syndromes or afflictions affecting many scientists, or, more properly, the pseudo-skeptics or the debunkers.  Walter Franklin Prince, in his book, The Enchanted Boundary, also deals extensively with the different types of skepticism. It seems like a good time to pull all these afflictions together from those two references and others to summarize them. Adding a few ideas of my own, I came up with the following:

Doubting Thomas Disorder:  Just as the Apostle Thomas refused to believe in the resurrected Christ until he could touch him and feel his wounds, there are many skeptics who say they will not believe anything that exceeds their boggle threshold until they see if for themselves.  This is most basic type of skepticism and is often a disorder of the common man – the one who has no scientific dogma to cling to and is still subconsciously smarting over being duped by his parents about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Manichean Heresy Syndrome:  In a nutshell, this affliction results from a belief that creation is divided into two forces – good and evil and that the afterlife is a very black and white one, i.e., heaven and hell.  This might also be called Frozen Dualism Syndrome or God Betrayal Syndrome.  Most victims of this condition begin by viewing God as an anthropomorphic (humanlike) being, and after suffering a serious loss conclude that “He” must not exist, as no loving God would permit such bad things to happen to them or such evil to exist in the world.  They assume that a humanlike God is necessary for a spirit world.  They lose their faith and become skeptics or non-believers.   

Saul of Tarsus Complex:  Just as Saul knew nothing about Christian beliefs, he reasoned out of emotion that Christians were a bad lot and should be persecuted.  Likewise, the mainstream scientist or academician, unable to accept facts that conflict with his long-standing materialistic worldview, adheres to his own dogma and condemns anything that threatens it, even if he knows nothing about it, claiming that psychic or supernormal facts are “impossible” and opposed to accepted scientific laws.  It is nothing more than superstition.

Medawar’s Syndrome:  Sir Peter Medawar held that scientists tend not to take anything seriously until they can at least see the rudiments of answer. Medawar’s Syndrome may just be another name for the Saul of Tarsus Complex; however, those afflicted with Medawar’s Syndrome do not necessarily say various phenomena are impossible; they simply say that it is beyond scientific inquiry. 

Festinger’s Syndrome: This affliction has to do with the psychological distress (cognitive dissonance) experienced by people who struggle to reconcile conflicting facts or viewpoints.  Social psychologist Leon Festinger is credited with much research in this area.  As it relates to psychical research and parapsychology, Festinger’s Syndrome kicks in when skeptics or debunkers witness something that defies natural law as defined by orthodox science. They begin questioning what they observed and come up with various ways that they “could have” or “might have” been tricked or duped.  They “might have” even been victims of a mass hypnotism or something was put into the drink they had that night to make them hallucinate. What they observed was simply not possible and so it has to have been a trick that was beyond detection. If that doesn’t work completely, they throw out ad hominem arguments, finding fault with the person rather than the research.  The researcher must have had an affair with the medium. Or the researcher must have had a “will to believe” and unconsciously distorted the results.   

The Faraday Flout:  Michael Faraday, one of the leading chemists of the nineteenth century, was asked to investigate the mediumship of Daniel Dunglus Home, but asked what the point of it all would be since the purported spirits who had communicated and acted through Home were so “utterly contemptible.”  Like Faraday, many people seem to assume that if spirits were to exist, no matter how ridiculous that seems to them, they are all enlightened spirits and further that all mediums must be saints of some kind.  Moreover, if they are “of God” they should be able to communicate with much more clarity and wisdom.  Indications are, however, that there are many levels of spirits and that the lower-level spirits are better able to communicate with those of us on the earth plane, because they are at a lower vibration or frequency than the more advanced spirits.  Also, it is clear that people with mediumistic ability are not necessarily highly spiritual people. They come in all degrees of spirituality.  Those who don’t grasp this are victims of The Faraday Flout.

Browning Brashness:  This form of skepticism clearly arises out of emotion and not reason.  The best example is that of famous poet Robert Browning, who witnessed some amazing spirit phenomena with medium D. D. Home and initially attested to it.  However, he apparently became upset because his wife, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was so enamored of Home, that he, seemingly out of jealousy, called Home a cheat and impostor, writing a disparaging poem about a Home-like medium called “Mr. Sludge, the Medium,” in which he portrayed the medium as a psychopath and fraud.

Huxley Hubris:  Like Michael Faraday, Thomas Huxley was one of the leading scientists of the nineteenth century.  When asked by the Council of the Dialectical Society to cooperate with a committee for the investigation of mediums, he declined, commenting that he had no time for such nonsense and that it did not interest him.  “If anybody would endow me with the faculty of listening to the chatter of old women and curates in the nearest cathedral town, I should decline the privilege, having better things to do,” was part of his written reply.  Even though the question of eternal life far exceeds anything mainstream science has dealt with, most scientists seem incapable of thinking that deeply.  While James Hyslop was still teaching logic and ethics at Columbia, James Cattell, a fellow professor, sneered at Hyslop’s interest in psychical research.  When Hyslop published articles that strongly supported non-mechanistic theories, Cattell 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?”  That was more than a hundred years ago and the question is still a very valid one.

Brewster Bravado:  As bravado is a form of false courage, it seems more kind to label the form of skepticism displayed by Sir David Brewster, still another renowned British physicist, as Brewster Bravado rather than Brewster Spinelessness.  After praising medium D. D. Home, Brewster was criticized by his scientific colleagues and quickly retracted his testimony, calling Home a fraud, and saying that he must have hidden something under the table, and that nobody was allowed to look under the table. “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to!”  Brewster snarled.  After Brewster’s death, however, his daughter published his memoirs, inadvertently including a letter in which Brewster disclosed that he had been invited to make an inspection under the table and in which he implied that it was all beyond trickery.

Houdini Hoaxery:  Researchers have been known to plant evidence or otherwise cheat in order to be certain that nothing would be produced to conflict with known science or their own beliefs.  With the great Houdini, however, it seems to have been more a matter of someone not producing greater magic than he could.  Houdini was part of a team investigating the mediumship of Boston medium Mina Crandon, aka “Margery,” during the mid-1920s.  “All fraud – every bit of it,” was Houdini’s verdict, without hesitation, further calling it the “slickest ruse” he had ever uncovered.  However, when asked to explain, Houdini couldn’t really explain it and reasoned that she “must have had” an accomplice.  On one occasion, a fold-up six-inch ruler was found in a cabinet built by Houdini to restrain Margery.  It was later revealed by Jim Collins, an assistant to Houdini, to be a plant by Houdini to show she was a cheat. 

Polanyi’s Syndrome:  As Michael Polanyi, a chemist and philosopher of science, reasoned, “any contradiction between a popular scientific notion and the facts of experience will be explained by other scientific notions; there is a ready reserve of possible scientific hypotheses available to explain any conceivable event.”  Perhaps the best example of this had to do with the mediumship of Leonora Piper.  When information came through her said to be from spirits of the dead, it was reasoned that a “secondary personality” in her subconscious was telepathically picking up information from the sitter. When information came through that the sitter did not know, it was reasoned that the secondary personality could search the minds of people anywhere in the world for such information or tap into some “cosmic reservoir” for the information.  Even that explanation was rejected by the more fundamentalist scientists, since telepathy itself defies natural law as certainly a cosmic reservoir does.  Thus, the fundamentalists stuck with fraud as the only explanation, while the more open-minded scientists were able to reason that the subconscious had powers as yet unexplored and unexplained and went on to hypothesize Super ESP, sort of an amalgamation of telepathy, telepathy at a distance, and the cosmic reservoir.  Anything but the ridiculous notion that spirits of the dead were communicating.  Even today, while Multiple Personality Disorder, the modern name given to secondary personalities, is recognized as a real affliction, no recognition is given by mainstream psychology to the possibility that spirit possession is involved.  It is more scientific to believe it is all in the brain.  The tendency for scientists to accept the reality of certain phenomena but to twist the evidence to fit their preconceptions or to make it sound more scientific is also referred to as The Gregory/Mayo Syndrome.   

Debunker’s Mindlessness Syndrome:  The primary reason science has been resistant to studying mediumship over the past 90-100 years is that science begins with a priori assumption that there are no such things as spirits and therefore that everything produced through mediumship of one kind or another must be explainable by known scientific laws.  However, those who have studied mediumship the most understand that such is not the case. Early researchers accused mediums of ”fishing” for information from the sitters, when in fact they were fishing for interpretations of the symbolic pictures they were receiving.  They often couldn’t get names because many names do not have symbolic pictures to depict them.  Spirit materializations often looked weird because the spirits producing them lacked the power or the ability to project a more accurate picture of themselves or whatever was being materialized in the ectoplasm.  The know-nothing skeptics scoffed as they assumed the imperfections all pointed to fraud.  They expected the mediums to produce on demand, not understanding how harmony factors into the success of a mediumistic test or how discord discourages results. 

“Science can be a security system, a complicated way of avoiding anxiety,” said renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow.  “It can be a way of avoiding life.”

The Hidden Power by Brian Inglis 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.

Next blog July 23

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Catching Up with Medium Suzanne Giesemann

Posted on 25 June 2018, 8:01

When a business client heard about Suzanne Giesemann’s first book, The Priest and the Medium, he was taken aback and asked somewhat cynically if she was really into that “stuff.”  She responded that she surely is.  “If he’d asked me the same question a couple of weeks earlier, I might have waffled,” Suzanne told me in a November 2010 interview, explaining that she was concerned that some people might think she had lost a few marbles since her retirement from the Navy seven years earlier.

Now, a decade or so and seven metaphysical books later, she’s still very much into it.  In fact, she is one of the most sought-after speakers on the spirituality and consciousness conference circuit, not just as an author but as a highly regarded medium.  “My life has become an ongoing exploration of a greater reality,” she states in the Preface of her latest book, Still Right Here: A True Story of Healing and Hope, going on to explain that it all started with the 2006 death of her stepdaughter, Susan, who was struck by lightning.  It was Susan’s passing that led to her search for the truth of life after death, meeting Anne Gehman, the medium in that first book, and ultimately to the discovery of her mediumistic abilities.

Before that, Suzanne (below) had a pretty “straight-laced” background, serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, including as a commanding officer, a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, and aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Along the way, Commander Giesemann earned a master’s degree in National Security Affairs, taught political science at the Naval Academy, and traveled to 56 countries.  Her husband, Ty, is a retired U. S. Navy captain.


She began developing as a medium after meeting Gehman and several other mediums who provided evidence of Susan’s survival.  That prompted her to take several classes in mediumship and an intensive course on the subject at Arthur Findlay College in England.  It was while meditating on her sailboat one day in 2009 that she felt the need to pick up a notebook and start writing.  Words started flowing without her thinking.  “They came so quickly that I didn’t have time to think,” she further explained in that 2010 interview.  “I just kept writing and realized, ‘They’ve sent me a poet!’”  She filled page after page without opening her eyes.  She could tell it made sense, but she had no sense of the content as a whole, and she was certain the words hadn’t come from her conscious mind. 

A year or so later, while in an altered state, Suzanne began bringing through messages from an entity named Sanaya, who identified “themselves” as a collective consciousness of minds with both feminine and masculine energy from a higher dimension than our own.  Sanaya has delivered thousands of messages to date (see

While Sanaya has continued to provide wisdom, Suzanne has continued to lecture and provide both evidence and higher truths in her books, at conferences, and in both individual and group meetings.  I recently had the opportunity to again interview Suzanne for The Searchlight, a publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, Inc.  This is a slightly abridged version of that interview.  (note: See for information on the Academy’s 2018 conference to be held in Raleigh, NC., Oct. 4-6.) 

Suzanne, are you aware of what you are saying while in this altered state?  Do some of the ideas expressed by Sanaya differ from your own?

I channel Sanaya from an altered state, but I am still somewhat aware of the concepts as they come through me, if not each word.  Yes, they have definitely shared information that was contrary to my personal belief system, and I have subsequently changed my views based on their teaching. By the way, it was several years after Sanaya instructed me to call them by that name that I learned Sanaya is an Arabic girl’s name meaning “flash of lightning.”  This is amazingly ironic, considering a flash of lightning is what killed my stepdaughter Susan and the young man I wrote about in my book, Wolf’s Message.

Psychologists and many parapsychologists would say it is all coming from your subconscious mind.  How do you respond to them?

Sanaya has taught me that there is only one Mind projecting consciousness through multiple realities.  I believe their words come from a superconscious level of mind and are filtered through my subconscious mind.  It is a cooperative experience and I have stopped asking if it is real or unreal.  The only question that matters to Sanaya and to me is, “Is it useful?”  Those who experience the energy and the words during these sessions are uplifted and they learn new perspectives, resulting in greater love and compassion in our world.  Some have even been healed of physical ailments during the channeling sessions.  I can’t prove where this is coming from, but it is highly useful to the Whole, so I continue the practice.

I understand that clairvoyance/clairaudience and trance mediumship are two different types of phenomenon and that you experience both.  Would you mind explaining the difference?

When I merge my awareness with that of a discarnate being in a mediumship sitting, I experience their presence through visual images (clairvoyance), hearing words or thoughts (clairaudience/claircognizance), as well as feeling their emotions and their presence (clairsentience).  In the deeper altered state from which I channel Sanaya, the words simply flow without time or need to interpret the information.  I experience a seamless blending without images or any seeming separation, yet I most certainly feel the power of their presence.

I would like to point out that I no longer need to be in a deeply altered state to access Sanaya’s guidance.  These days I merely shift my focus with the intention of connecting with my Team and I instantly become aware of them.  This kind of connection with guides is possible for anyone, since we are all expressions of Consciousness, just as our guides are.  Once a person comes to know how it feels to be in a state of focused awareness, anyone can shift their focus and gain a higher perspective on our human issues.  The reason I enjoy the channeling sessions so much more than simply checking in with them throughout the day is that once I enter into the deeper states of awareness, I can maintain that connection with Sanaya without the distractions of the physical world.

The “collective consciousness” calling itself Sanaya seems to be what was called a “group soul” with other mediums.  Imperator and his band of 49 who communicated through William Stainton Moses a century ago immediately comes to mind, as does Jane Roberts’s Seth.  Do you think we are talking about the same thing?

I do.  I have read and listened to the channeled materials of Jane Roberts and others such as Paul Selig and Esther Hicks.  Just as a sensitive person can feel the energy or level of consciousness of an author when we read books written by contemporary authors, the channeled works of these well-known channelers all have a similar “energy” or feel to me. 

The basic messages coming from Sanaya seem to be about love and forgiveness.  How much is there to say about those subjects?  Is what “they” are now saying different than what they said seven or eight years ago?

There is no change at all in their teaching.  In fact, they have told us many times that there is nothing new under the sun in this regard and that we cannot hear these messages of love and the soul’s evolution too often.  All we have to do is read the headlines each day to see that there is still plenty of learning to be had in this Earth School.

Given all the chaos and turmoil in the world today, do you think we are making any progress in overcoming our materialistic and hedonistic ways?

I believe that ever so slowly, we are making progress.  Sanaya repeatedly tells us not to be discouraged.  They point out that we have progressed from the Dark Ages to our current era, which they jokingly refer to as the “Dim Ages.”  In the grand scheme of things, this is an improvement, but we have a long way to go until the majority of humans understand that we are here to learn to extend not fear, anger, and hatred, but love.

Do you have a preference between channeling Sanaya and mental mediumship?
I love them both.  Thanks to the Internet, channeling Sanaya helps us to send ripples to a large number of people around the world, but there is nothing like being one-on-one with someone in my private sittings and providing them with evidence that their loved ones who have passed are right there with us.  The kind of verifiable information that those in spirit are able to get through in those sessions is wondrous and can be incredibly healing.  I’ve seen people’s grief be transformed in one hour when family members go from despair to the stunning awareness their loved ones live on across the veil.

You’ve come a long way since our interview in 2010.  You now lead webinars and classes and host an online radio show on Unity FM with the same name as your memoir, Messages of Hope (see  Did you foresee any of this when you wrote your first book about mediumship?

I truly did not, and it’s the greatest honor I can imagine to serve in this way.  When I interviewed Anne Gehman for The Priest and the Medium, I didn’t have any idea that I would one day be a medium myself.  Because my waiting list for readings is over three years long now, I offer classes, workshops, webinars, online courses, and CDs to help others connect across the veil themselves. I work harder these days than I ever did in my Navy career, even when I was assigned to the Pentagon working what my husband calls “half days” (6 AM to 6 PM) as aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs!  Honestly, though, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I have the most supportive husband in the world, and I love my life with Ty and our two longhaired dachshunds. 

What does the future hold?

I have no idea!  I used to be a big goal setter and I had to have everything planned out in great detail, but Sanaya has taught me how much better things turn out when we allow ourselves to be guided moment to moment by Higher Consciousness.  These days, I’m very happy to simply follow orders from Spirit.  Of course, I still exercise my free will, but it’s a very peaceful, freeing way to live once you stop striving and allow yourself to be guided.  I want to help as many people as possible to know the peace and joy that come from awakening to the fact that we are never alone and that what connects us all is 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:  July 9

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Suicide and the Life After Death Factor

Posted on 11 June 2018, 8:23

Following the recent suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and travel show host Anthony Bourdain, there has been much in the media about the alarming increase in suicides in the United States, especially in the 45-64 age group.  Considering that both Spade, 55, and Bourdain, 61, seemed to have had everything going for them, materialistically, at least, the media has been searching for answers

In a USA Today report, Maria Oquendo, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, is quoted as saying the trend among middle-aged adults is puzzling because people in that age group are more financially secure and have more experience in solving life’s problems.  She further stated that the opioid epidemic doesn’t explain it all.

At least two reports referred to a popular book, Lost Connections, in which author Johann Hari opines that the suicide rate is up because modern living has resulted in people being isolated from friends and relatives, which leads to loneliness and depression.  Hari, who has battled depression himself, states that such depression is most often viewed as a chemical imbalance in the brain and treated with medication.

I believe the answer to the “puzzle” is obvious, but since mainstream science and medicine refuse to recognize the strong evidence suggesting that consciousness survives death, it is never considered.  The root cause of many suicides is most likely an existential one – a failure to find any real meaning in life. A Time Magazine report by Belinda Luscombe points out that happiness is not the end result of a sum of accomplishments, quoting Bourdain, “What do you do after your dreams come true?”

In his popular 1969 book, The Immortalist, humanist philosopher Alan Harrington expressed it this way:  “An unfortunate awareness has overtaken our species.  Masses of men and women everywhere no longer believe that they have even the slightest chance of living beyond the grave.  The unbeliever pronounces a death sentence on himself.  For millions this can be not merely disconcerting but a disastrous perception.”

As Harrington viewed it, when people are deprived of rebirth vision, they “suffer recurring spells of detachment, with either violence or apathy to follow.”  Harrington, an atheist himself, saw mass-atheism as responsible for most, if not all, of society’s ills, including misplaced sexual energy.  “Orgies, husband and wife swaps, and the like, more popular than ever among groups of quite ordinary people, represent a mass assault on the mortal barrier,” he wrote. 

“The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness and insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death, represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody,” wrote Erich Fromm, another humanist philosopher. 

As Carl Jung, a pioneer of psychology and psychiatry, saw it, critical rationalism eliminated the idea of life after death. He noted 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,” he wrote. “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon.  Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.” 

Jung, who had a convincing near-death experience in 1944, went on to counter the mainstream view by saying 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.”  He added that the man who does not grasp the idea of life after death despairs as he “marches toward nothingness,” while the person who believes that he will survive death, though he may be uncertain, “follows the tracks of life and lives right into his death.” 

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 proclaimed, is possible only as a side effect of self-transcendence.

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?”

The non-believer will immediately interpret all that to suggest that we should live for the afterlife and not for today.  However, that is not what Jung and Freud were saying.  William James, another pioneer in psychiatry, may have summed it up best when he said,
“The luster of the present hour is always borrowed from the background of possibilities it goes with.  Let our common experiences be enveloped in an eternal moral order; let our suffering have an immortal significance; let Heaven smile upon the earth, and deities pay their visits; let faith and hope be the atmosphere which man breathes in; and his days pass by with zest; they stir with prospects, they thrill with remoter values.  Place around them on the contrary the curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular-science evolutionism of our time are all that is visible ultimately, and the thrill stops short, or turns rather to an anxious trembling.”

Jung, Freud, James, and Frankl were not suggesting that we live for the afterlife, only that we keep the larger picture in mind as we go about our daily activities.  Otherwise, we risk succumbing to the Epicurean motto, “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” while striving to be one with our toys and eventually wondering what to do after we accumulate enough toys. 

I think 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 a certain social disconnection, which involves moral, intellectual, and spiritual decline.

“Despair over the earthly or over something earthly is really despair about the eternal and over oneself, in so far as it is despair,” existentialist Søren Kierkegaard offered, referring to the person in despair as a philistine.  “Philistinism tranquilizes itself in the trivial, being equally in despair whether things go well or ill,” he continued, 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.

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 25



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When the “Dead” are Alive

Posted on 28 May 2018, 9:34

In the history of mediumship there have been cases in which the “spirit” communicating through the medium turned out to be still alive in the flesh.  Such discoveries provided good laughs for the self-righteous debunkers, who accepted it as clear-cut evidence that the medium was a fraud.  The possibility that telepathy can take place between living humans or that mediums can pick up messages from other living humans does not seem to have been given any consideration by the militant “skeptics.”

John Edmonds, chief justice of the New York State Supreme Court and one of the first psychical researchers, told of an old friend – one he had not heard from in 15 years – communicating with him through the trance mediumship of his (Edmonds’) daughter, Laura.  Edmonds assumed that his old friend was dead, but was surprised to learn later that he was still among the living.  “I have known since then many similar manifestations,” Edmonds wrote, “so that I can no longer doubt the fact that at times our communications are from the spirits of the living as well as the dead.” 

As mentioned in the last blog post here, Eddie Rickenbacker, (below) a highly decorated World War I fighter pilot, was working for the Secretary of War during WWII when a plane on which he was a passenger went down in the Pacific Ocean.  Indications were that nobody survived.  However, two weeks after the plane’s disappearance, medium Eileen Garrett received a telepathic message that read, “Tell Adela I’m sorry I made her get out of the taxi and walk – but I’d do the same thing all over again.”  Although Garrett didn’t know who the message was from, she knew an Adela – Adela St. Johns, a renowned journalist – and passed the message on to her, mentioning that she could tell that the person who sent the message was alive.  The message made perfect sense to St. Johns, Rickenbacker’s friend, who recalled having to walk two miles as a result of the taxi ride with Rickenbacker.  A week or so later, Rickenbacker and six others were found alive in a life raft.  After returning to New York, Rickenbacker told St. Johns that he didn’t know who Eileen Garrett was, but he did admit to thinking about the taxi incident while adrift.


Beatrice Gibbes, a researcher who dedicated much of her life to observing and assisting Geraldine Cummins, a famous Irish automatic writing medium, reported on a case involving Mrs. Napier Webb, an old friend of Miss Cummins’ in a 1945 issue of Light magazine.  Webb 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.  She 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 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 after the sitting.

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.

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 friend 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.

Prior to his death in the Titanic disaster of 1912, William T. Stead, (below) a British journalist, learned to do automatic writing, receiving many messages from an old acquaintance, Julia Ames.  Curious as to how Julia could write with his hand, Stead requested an explanation. “She told him that his mind was not “trammeled by the limitations of matter” and thus he was a good “instrument.”  She further told 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.  Those whose souls are closely knit, he was further informed, are not able to be used in that way.

Back to the Rickenbacker case, one might wonder why the message came through to Garrett that Rickenbacker was sorry about the taxi incident when he later told St. Johns that he recalled laughing about it and said that he would do it again.  One might surmise that Rickenbacker’s “higher self” was in fact sorry but his ego got in the way of admitting it.  It was his “higher self” – his “spirit” – that somehow found Garrett and communicated, not his “lower self.” 

All that is no doubt too much for the militant skeptics to absorb in their tightly knit souls, but there is much more evidence, including some more recent in the area of out-of-body experiences, lending itself to such an explanation. 

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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Adela Rogers St. Johns , A Famous Journalist, Explored Mediumship

Posted on 21 May 2018, 8:29

Grieving the World War II death of her son Bill, Adela Rogers St. Johns (1894-1988), a renowned American journalist and screenwriter, contacted Eileen Garrett, the most famous medium of the day, not telling her why she wanted to meet with her.  Shortly after the grieving mother entered Garrett’s Manhattan apartment, the medium said, “Well, here’s Bill.”  As far as St. Johns (below) knew, Garrett did not know she had a son named Bill.  Clairvoyantly looking high up at the otherwise invisible figure of Bill, Garrett said he appeared to be wearing a British uniform.  In fact, Bill, who stood 6-7, was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States entered the war.


St. Johns told of her experiences with Garrett in her book, No Goodbyes, published in 1981.  She stated that Garrett probably had the most “commanding presence” she had ever encountered in a woman.  And, she had known many dynamic women, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Wallis Simpson, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Jeane Dixon, Ethel Barrymore, and Gloria Swanson, to name just some.
Through Garrett, Bill asked his mother to stop grieving for him so that he could get on with his life.  “Pray for me, Mama.  Pray for all of us here.  It helps us advance,” Garrett transmitted.  St. Johns noted that Bill was the only one of her children who called her “Mama.” A debunker would say that Garrett had prior information, but St. Johns did not think so.

Before St. Johns left Garrett’s apartment, Garrett (below) told her that the person waiting downstairs in the lobby for her had mediumistic abilities and could further contact Bill for her, if necessary.  In fact, St. Johns’ adult daughter, Elaine St. Johns, was waiting in the lobby, but she did not know how Garrett knew that, nor did St. Johns have any idea that her daughter had such a gift.  Elaine, also ignorant of her ability, was brought upstairs to meet Garrett, who explained automatic writing to her.  She further mentioned that it was Bill who told her that his sister had the faculty for automatic writing.


Until her visit with Garrett, St. Johns’ interest in psychic matters had been casual.  She recalled that when Elaine was only four years old she shocked her by telling her that Ross wanted her (St. Johns) to tell his mother that he can’t come to the attic.  Ross was identified as Ross Snyder, the son of the mayor of Los Angeles, where St. Johns lived and worked at the time.  He had been killed on a World War I battlefield.  Although Elaine had never met Ross, she provided other evidential information about him, and St. Johns felt compelled to invite Mrs. Snyder to tea and tell her about the messages. 

Upon hearing of her son’s message concerning the attic, Mrs. Snyder fainted.  When she came to, she explained to St. Johns that she had for months kept Ross’s room as he had left it before he entered the Army.  However, his belonging were eventually moved to the attic and she would go in secrecy to try to get a message from Ross. She told nobody, not even her husband, about her attempts to communicate with Ross.

There had been no other indication over the next 20 years that Elaine had any kind of psychic ability, and Elaine was somewhat reluctant to give automatic writing a try. However, at her mother’s insistence, Elaine made an attempt, failing several times before finally establishing contact with her brother.  Concerned that she was imagining the responses, Elaine asked for something evidential.  The pencil wrote, “The lady in the picture is my bombardier’s mother.”  Neither Elaine nor her mother knew what picture Bill was referring to.  Some days later, St. Johns received a letter from Bill’s commanding officer, explaining how Bill kept his damaged plane flying while ordering his crew to bail out before crashing into some farm land. She also received a letter with a photo from Bill’s navigator.  It was of Bill’s flag-draped casket with his crew standing around at attention.  There was also an attractive matronly woman in the photo.  St. Johns wrote to the navigator to thank him and request the identity of the woman in the photo.  The navigator wrote back that it was the bombardier’s mother.

Word of Elaine’s gift got around.  One day, a German refugee, who had been a writer in her homeland, approached St. Johns at a press club meeting in New York and asked her if Elaine might be able to get a message from her deceased husband, who had been a successful surgeon.  The request was passed on to Elaine, who, with pencil in hand, gave Bill the man’s name and asked her brother if he could contact the man and get a message from him for his wife. Shortly thereafter, the pencil took off, writing page after page, initially in English but then in German, complete with umlaut marks over certain vowels.  “Bela, my madonna, I made such a mistake,” the writing began.  When St. Johns passed the writing on to the grieving widow, she was informed that her husband had frequently referred to her as his Madonna, and had committed suicide.

Still another interesting experience involved Billy deBeck, the artist who created the “Barney Google” cartoon.  After deBeck’s death from cancer, his wife Mary was heartbroken.  While having lunch with Mary, St. Johns told her friend about Elaine’s ability.  When Elaine was asked to see if she could get a message from Billy, the pencil didn’t write.  Instead, it began to sketch.  It was a drawing of a woman walking a dog on a leash.  However, the woman had no feet. When the experience was related to Mary deBeck, she excitedly explained that Billy had some kind of mental block against drawing feet and would always have an assistant draw the feet of his cartoon characters.
When Mac, Elaine’s adopted brother, heard of her automatic writing, he called it all nonsense and demanded that Bill, his best friend as well as his older brother, give him some evidence.  Elaine sat down at the table with pencil and received a lot of gibberish.  Elaine sensed that Bill was laughing, after which Bill asked Mac to put out his hands.  Mac did so and watched his fingers curl up into a fist and then begin to shake, all outside of his control.  It was apparently enough to convince Mac that Bill was there. 

After marrying Paul Gallico, a famous writer, Elaine and her husband traveled in Europe. They struggled with language differences in every country, except Germany.  Somehow Elaine communicated fluently in German, although she didn’t realize she was hearing or speaking German until her husband commented on it and asked why she had never told him that she spoke German.  She informed him that she wasn’t aware she could speak or understand German.  It all seemed like English to her. Upon leaving Germany, she could no longer speak or understand the language. 

St. Johns also recalled a strange communication coming to her through Eileen Garrett from Eddie Rickenbacker, a highly decorated World War I fighter pilot.  When in New York City, she and Rickenbacker frequently dined together and attended various functions.  On one occasion, as they were on their way to a hotel in a taxi, Rickenbacker told the taxi driver to stop and let them out, that they would walk the last two miles to the hotel.  The long walk angered St. Johns and she made no secret of it.  Some time later, after the start of World War II, Rickenbacker was doing defense work for the Secretary of War when the plane he was a passenger on went down in the Pacific. Indications were that nobody survived the crash.

Two weeks after the plane’s disappearance, St. Johns received a telephone call from Garrett, telling her that she received a message that read, “Tell Adela I’m sorry I made her get out of the taxi and walk – but I’d do the same thing all over again.”  Garrett said she did not know who the message was from, but she was sure the person is alive. After 23 days in a life raft, Rickenbacker and six others were found alive.  When St. Johns next saw him she asked him about the message.  He said he didn’t even know who Eileen Garrett was, although he recalled thinking about the taxi incident and how annoyed St. Johns had been while adrift in the ocean.

“It is understandable, I suppose, that there should be so many skeptics,” St. Johns concludes the book.  “We live in an age when people question everything.  Often, however, people are unwilling to accept the answers.  This is particularly true in the area of psychic experience, especially with the experience of contact with someone we regard as dead.  Most people believe that there is an existence of some kind after death, but the confusion sets in when they try to define that existence and its relationship, if any, with those of us who are living. Either people become too simplistic or too mystical, and one result of this can be doubt.” 

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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Were the Las Vegas shooter and Austin bomber possessed?

Posted on 07 May 2018, 10:04

Authorities involved with the investigation of the Las Vegas shooting massacre and the more recent Austin bombings are mystified as to what motivated such deviant, insane behavior.  Neither the shooter nor the bomber seems to have had anything in his past to suggest he was capable of such a horrendous act.  There is, however, a possible explanation that no authority dares mention, as the person would be ignorantly laughed out of his profession if he or she did.  I’m referring to possession, or even lesser influence by devious “earthbound” spirits.

In her 1999 book, Freeing the Captives, the late Louise Ireland-Frey, M.D. (below) discussed various degrees of attachment or influence by dark souls, beginning with the most mild, temptation, and continuing on through shadowing, oppression, obsession, and possession.  Possession, as she defines it, involves the invading entity taking over the body of the host completely, pushing out the host’s own personality (soul) and expressing its own words, feelings, or behaviors while using the host’s body. 


In his 2003 book, Healing Lost Souls, William J. Baldwin, Ph.D., a pioneer in regression therapy, says that, based on many sessions, he is convinced that “past-life trauma and spirit interference are the primary causes in many cases of mental and physical illness.”  He explains that within six months of starting his past-life regression therapy practice, more than half his clients showed signs and symptoms of “spirit attachment.” 

The terminology differs among various practitioners, some seemingly holding obsession and possession as much the same thing, others referring to spirit interference, influence or attachment.  As for driving off the negative spirit entities, some refer to spirit releasement, others to disobsession, and still others to deliverance or exorcism.  However, they all appear to be talking about the same phenomenon.

As Ireland-Frey and others who have recognized the attachment phenomenon have pointed out, like attracts like and so a deceased alcoholic may look for a living alcoholic to feed off of, while a sex addict when alive will likely look for someone with a similar tendency. 

Brazil seems to be much more open-minded and advanced in this area of healing than the United States, as evidenced by the book Spiritism and Mental Health, edited by Emma Bragdon, Ph.D.  In this 2012 publication, subtitled “Practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil,” Bragdon reports that there are 50 Spiritist psychiatric hospitals in Brazil.  In addition to the more standard treatments, including various medications, the Spiritist hospitals include disobsession, “and healing at a distance where mediums liberate patients from the influence of negative spirits.” 

According to Bragdon, the doctors practicing in the psychiatric hospitals of Brazil do not believe that the brain is the home of the mind and the spirit, and therefore cannot endorse the notion that chemicals are the primary means of treating mental disorders.  “They believe that vast aspects of the mind and spirit reside outside the physical brain in the ‘perispirit,’ a subtle body that envelops the physical body and holds the blueprint of the body and the seeds of illness,” she explains.  “The perispirit changes as it is worked with in Spiritist therapies – seeds of illness are dissolved and the receiver becomes spiritually uplifted.”

In Chapter 3 of Bragdon’s book, Alexander Moreira-Almeida, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of São Paulo medical school, states: “Obsession ultimately originates in the moral imperfections of the patient. The patient’s own negative feelings, thoughts, and behavior allow the obsessing spirit to mentally tune into the individual, as well as make the patient accept its influence.  The obsessing spirit is motivated most of the time by a vengeful feeling against the victim.” 

Moreira-Almeida further explains that most of the Spiritist approach to the treatment of such cognitive disorders grew out of the research carried out by French educator Allan Kardec (1804-1869).  He quotes Kardec:  “Obsession one day will be recognized as a cause of mental disorders, just as is accepted today the pathologic action of microscopic living creatures whose existence nobody even suspected, before the invention of the light microscope.”

Kardec cautioned against confusing pathological madness with obsession, pointing out that the latter is not a result of brain damage but “derives from the subjugation that malevolent spirits exert over certain individuals even though the obsession often has the appearance of madness itself.”

Joan Koss-Chioino, Ph.D. is identified in the book as a professor emerita in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and also visiting professor of psychiatry and neurology at Tulane Medical Center.  She states that recent neuroscience research is determining why some persons are vulnerable to being overwhelmed by spirit intrusion or autonomous complexes in the way (pioneering psychiatrist Carl) Jung proposed.”  She adds that “Jung recognized the meaning and relevance of widespread experiences of spirits framed by a theory that accounts for the sharing of psychological processes – between those who are ‘normal’ and able to exert control over the disruptive effects of either spirit visitations or autonomous complexes, and those who cannot.”

Andrew Powell, a British psychiatrist, tells of a patient called Pat, who had suffered from depression for many years, apparently because her mother often mocked and belittled her.  Things did not improve after her mother died, as she could feel her mother’s presence all around her.  She felt that her mother was possessing her and she became suicidal.  In soul-centered therapy session, the mother communicated and explained that she had become pregnant at age 17, thereby ending her hopes and dreams, and that her daughter thus became the life-long target of her resentment.  After Powell convinced the mother to “walk towards the light,” Pat appeared to be at peace.

Doctors Roberto Lucio Viera de Souza and Jaider Rodrigues e Paulo tell of a patient named “Ernesto” who suffered from thoughts of murders and destruction, as well as self-destruction and other negative acts. He underwent 12 electroconvulsive therapy sessions with little progress.  After clairvoyants detected that he was dominated by a group of “spiritual villains,” he received magnetic therapy (chakra cleansing and energy transmission).  “Response to this therapy was clearly positive and fast,” the doctors reported. 

In the Foreword of Bragdon’s book, James Lake, M.D., a California psychiatrist, states that “the Spiritist movement in Brazil is a truly integrative model of mental health care that addresses the core issues of mental illness taking into account patients’ medical, social, cultural, and spiritual needs.”

“A new breed of therapist is healing the mentally ill not with talk and drug therapy, but by releasing troublesome or malevolent spirits who have attached themselves to their victims,” says Dr. Stafford Betty,  (below) professor of religious studies at California State University at Bakersfield.  “I am not talking about religious healers like Francis McNutt, but secular healers, some of them licensed psychiatrists or psychologists, who have discovered, often by accident, that this new therapy works better than what they learned in medical or graduate school.  They tell us that too often drug therapy only masks symptoms, and talk therapy reaches only as deep as the patient’s conscious mind can go.  But ‘spirit release’ usually heals, often permanently.  Not only does it heal the client; it heals the attached (or ‘possessing’) spirit.” 


In an article for the Journal of Religion and Health (“The Growing Evidence for ‘Demonic Possession’: What Should Psychiatry’s Response be?), Betty notes that M. Scott Peck, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and author of the best-seller, The Road Less Traveled, startled the psychiatric community in 1983 by describing his participation in two exorcisms, while stating that the mental state of the two patients was dramatically improved.  “Before the voices were in control of me, now I’m in control of the voices,” one of the patients was quoted by Peck. 

Betty’s research suggests that genuine cases of possession are rare, perhaps applying to extreme cases like Charles Manson, and that most people are merely “oppressed” by the earthbound spirits, although using Ireland-Frey’s terminology they might be “obsessed.”

Since it is “unscientific” to even acknowledge the existence of a spirit world, it doesn’t seem likely that mainstream American mental health practitioners, mired in a materialistic paradigm, will ever accept the idea that mental illnesses originate anywhere but in the brain.    Nevertheless, Professor Betty says he has seen some progress in the psychiatric community, although usually not publicly.  He adds that his 2005 article, which is posted on has received over 14,000 views and over 550 downloads.  So there is a little hope that American mental health experts will eventually see the light.

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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Pope Francis and the Atheist: What is Hell?

Posted on 23 April 2018, 7:58

Although the Vatican denies that Pope Francis (below) recently told Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian newspaper publisher, that hell doesn’t exist, my guess is that the pope actually beat around the bush on the subject and likely implied that very thing in the private interview, which was not recorded by Scalfari.  I suspect that the pope really does question the reality of hell, at least the hell of orthodox Christianity, and that he would like to see it undergo a complete makeover.


Clearly, the hell of orthodoxy – one of fire and brimstone in which sinners go for eternity – just doesn’t fly with rational people, as it can’t be reconciled with the fair, just and compassionate God the churches have passing judgment on those supposedly cast into that horrific place.  No matter how the churches try to justify their strict biblical interpretations of it all, God still comes out of it as cruel, capricious and vindictive, much like one of the “hanging judges” of the Old West. 

The religious message, though varying among denominations, is that a person will spend eternity in hell if he or she doesn’t choose the right savior, or if he or she doesn’t repent in a very timely manner.  A person might lead a virtuous or “righteous” life, but if he worships the wrong savior or commits a grievous sin just before his death, with no opportunity to repent, his fate in hell is sealed.  On the other hand, a person can lead a very wicked life but can be “saved” on her or his deathbed by “finding” the right God and properly repenting. Much depends on luck or being in the right place at the right time. How just is all that? 

Of course, heaven needs a complete overhaul as well, since floating around on clouds, strumming harps, and praising God 24/7 for eternity simply is not all that appealing.  To many, total extinction seems preferable to such a humdrum existence.  This dichotomous black and white afterlife preached by the churches has to be the biggest obstacle to believing in life after death.  I think the pope realizes all that, but for him to say that the Catholic Church had it wrong so many years is for him to say that all his “infallible” predecessors were actually fallible, and it would undermine the authority and other teachings of the Church.  In effect, he is caught between a rock and a hard place.

In defense of the pope and the horrific hell subscribed to by the Catholic Church and most of Christianity, The Tablet, the International Catholic News Weekly, stated, in a March 31 release, that the pope “is heavily influenced in this regard by a novel featuring the Antichrist,” which confirms the existence of hell.  It is difficult to believe that the pope or Church authorities would let on that a novel influences his thinking, but the article identified the piece of fiction as Lord of the World, authored by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, (below) the son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury.  Benson was an Anglican vicar who created quite a stir when he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1903.  His novel was published in 1907.


I doubt that the pope knows the rest of the Benson story, that involving Anthony Borgia, a British medium who purportedly recorded many after-death messages from Benson, who died in 1914.  As Benson explains it through Borgia, he found that after his death many of the views he expressed in his books, including The Necromancers, published in 1909,  gave a distorted view of the spirit world, including spirit communication, and he was hoping to set the record straight through Borgia’s mediumship. 

“The whole fantastic doctrine of hell-fire – a fire which burns but never consumes – is one of the most outrageously stupid and ignorant doctrines that has ever been invented by equally stupid and ignorant churchmen,” Benson communicated through Borgia, describing the lower realms as nothing but a cold, dank atmosphere, its inhabitants seemingly listless and lost in the darkness.  They are not being punished by the God they mocked, he reported, but rather they are punishing themselves.

The skeptics and the fundamentalists of religion scoff at the whole idea of such mediumship and claim that it is all fraud, the work of the devil, or perhaps the creation of Borgia’s subconscious mind.  There is no way to prove it came from Benson.  However, it is consistent with scores of messages that have come through various other mediums and mystics since the time of Emanuel Swedenborg, the great scientist turned mystic and clairvoyant, during the 18th century, and it is the same kind of mediumship and mysticism that gave us the Bible in the first place, even if it is more convenient for church authorities to claim it all came from God. (Did God really say to stone adulterers and adulteresses to death as set forth in Leviticus 20:10? Come on!)   

Perhaps the most significant discovery by Swedenborg was the “world of spirits,” a vast intermediate region between the heaven and hell of the Protestant theology he had subscribed to, but unlike the purgatory of Catholicism, which is, or at least was before the Catholic Church backed off the subject a few decades ago, much like hell.  The conditions of the spirit world that Swedenborg explored were very similar to earth, so similar that many newly arrived souls had to be told that they were no longer living on the earth plane. 

Edgar Cayce, the famous American “sleeping prophet” of the last century, also told of taking a tour of many realms during one of his out-of-body experiences.  He described how he encountered a stream of light he knew he must follow.  In the lower or darker realms he saw “forms” that were floundering or lost and seeking the light.  As the light grew stronger and stronger, he arrived at a place where individuals appeared much as they do today. 

Almost without exception, the more modern revelation tells of progressive spheres or realms or planes.  It is often reported that there are seven basic planes, giving some credence to “Seventh Heaven” mythology, but many of the spirits communicating claim they do not know how many planes there are because they know only of the plane on which they exist, and those below.  It is further reported that the souls in the lowest realms, what might be called “hell,” are not there forever.  They are able to progress to higher realms, usually with help from those in higher realms or through the prayers of those still incarnate.  They eventually “see the light.”

The more modern revelation suggests we develop what has been called a “moral specific gravity” in the earth life and that determines the level at which we find ourselves after death.  This moral specific gravity has also been referred to as “spiritual consciousness.” Those who fail to develop any significant spiritual consciousness during the earth life will, it is said, find themselves in the lowest realm of the afterlife and may not even realize they are dead.  They likely will experience a “fire of the mind,” or an ongoing nightmare as they exist in something of a dream world.  It is understandable that this “fire of the mind” became a symbolic physical reality when early artists tried to depict it and that the churches found it the easiest way to explain it all to the uneducated masses and use it as a weapon to keep them in line. 

Those who developed a modicum of spiritual consciousness would, it was reported, find themselves a little higher in the realms and in sort of a stupor, in and out of a dream world, much as a person can be during a light sleep or even while absorbed in a movie.  That person will likely drift in and out of the “dream” while gradually awakening. Some have referred to this second realm as the “borderland.”  Above that realm we reach an existence similar to that we have in the material world, one in which there is much activity, and beyond that it begins to exceed human comprehension.

“Those of us who have returned to earth to tell about our new life are faced with the difficulty of trying to describe in terms of the earth what is essentially of a spirit nature,” Benson communicated. “Our descriptions must fall short of the reality.  It is difficult to conjure up in the mind a state of beauty greater than we have experienced upon earth.  Magnify by one hundred times the beauties that I have told you about, and you would still be far short of a true appraisement.”   

Johannes Greber, (below) a Catholic priest living in Germany during the 1920s, began receiving communication from a spirit speaking through a young peasant boy.  “If you had the complete and unamended text of Christ’s doctrines, many a load imposed by man in the name of religion and Christianity would be taken from your shoulders,” it was communicated to Greber.  “Many a precept which you are expected to believe, even though it seems out of all reason, would be discarded because it would be recognized as being wrong, and you, as God’s children could again breathe freely.”  The same spirit had previously told Greber that the teachings of Christ are no longer to be found in their original purity and clearness, that entire chapters have been omitted and that what we have now are “mutilated copies.” 


And so what can we believe?  Are all these modern day spirits “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” as orthodoxy claims?  Surely we must heed the words of John to “test the spirits to find out if they are of God” (1 John 4:1) as well as those of Paul that we should be “discerning of the spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10). But neither John nor Paul tells us how to test or discern the spirits.  Seemingly, the best test or best discernment would be to ask if the spirit communication is consistent with an all-loving and all-just Creator.

By going beyond the self-imposed limits of orthodox religion, by testing and discerning the teachings of the spirits, we find a much more logical, more sensible, more appealing environment – one that can be reconciled with a loving and just God.  We discover a Divine plan – one of attainment and attunement, of gradual spiritual growth, of evolution of spirit through progressively “higher” (in vibration) planes.  I believe Pope Francis gets that, but he simply doesn’t know how to correct things.

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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Did Stephen Hawking Fail to See the Forest for the Trees?

Posted on 09 April 2018, 8:46

The militant atheists were running wild on the Internet recently. The death of physicist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking unleashed quite a few of them.  “He was the most brilliant man in the world and he was one of us,” they all seem to be proudly ranting and raving in their usual cacophony at various websites, the implication being that if Hawking (below) didn’t believe any of the religious rubbish then you can be certain that it is all bunk.  However, I’ll go with another great scientist, physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, who said, “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 scepticism, just as there are cheap and easy kinds of dogmatism.”


The militant atheists seem to assume that if God can’t be seen in a telescope or microscope that He, She, or It, whatever God happens to be, can’t exist. They further assume that any God must be the anthropomorphic (humanlike) God of religion and that an afterlife can’t exist without such a God. They seemingly don’t stop to consider that an afterlife might exist without the anthropomorphic God of religion.

Ask the militants to forget the question of God and closely examine many cases suggesting survival, such as those set forth in One Hundred Cases for Survival after Death, edited by A. T. Baird, and they’ll just guffaw and say none of it is scientific. They claim fraud, delusion, hallucination, wishful-thinking, anecdotal, whatever works best for them, or they refer you to a Wikipedia page which is usually written by another militant atheist who claims that the particular person or case is just so much hogwash. They’ve been brainwashed in scientism and are at the other extreme from the fundamentalists of religion. 

Yes, the cases set forth in Baird’s book, which was published in 1944 and has now been republished by White Crow Books, are anecdotal and holes of one kind or another can be poked in each case, leaving some room for a doubt, but as Professor Lodge said, it is the cumulative evidence that provides conviction.

Consider Case No. 60 in Baird’s book, having to do with Lodge’s investigation of Boston medium Leonora Piper.  When Piper visited England in 1889-90, Lodge carried out 83 experiments or sittings with her, including one in which he invited Dr. Gerald Rendall, principal of University College, Liverpool, to sit with Piper.  He told her nothing about Rendall and introduced him under a fictitious name.  After Piper went into her self-induced trance state, Phinuit, her spirit control, began speaking through her voice mechanism and provided much veridical information.  Rendall reported to Lodge that everything was “quite correct.”  Phinuit named his four brothers, Charlie, Fred, Arthur, and Arnold, gave statements about his mother’s death and that of his eldest brother, and talked about a woman named Agnes, a relative by marriage who had died of consumption 21 years earlier.  Phinuit stated that Agnes was quite fond of his brother, Arthur, and that she had a close friend named Louis.  “Regarding my two sittings,” Rendall recorded for Lodge, “I am quite convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena; there was no opening for concerted fraud…”

The militant skeptic would say that Piper somehow investigated Rendall beforehand, and there is no way to prove that she didn’t.  The young militant might not appreciate how difficult it would have been to come upon such information in those days before computers and even telephones, especially with an ocean between them.  Even today, it would not be that easy to come up with the name of a friend of a relative’s wife.  But the militants would further theorize that Piper was “fishing” for information and doing “muscle reading.”  They’d have us believe that Lodge and Rendall were dupes taken in by a clever trickster, that Lodge, one of the greatest scientists of his day, was duped 83 times. 

Some references on Lodge suggest that he was all too willing to believe in survival because his son Raymond was killed in World War I.  However, they overlook the fact that Raymond’s death was some 25 years after he first investigated Mrs. Piper and some seven years after he defied the materialistic mindset of the day and professed a belief in survival after having admitted to being a materialist. 

Further, consider case no. 67, involving Professor Herbert Nichols of Harvard University and Mrs. Piper.  He also received names, places, and events from his past.  One particular piece of evidence involved a ring which his deceased mother gave him and which he had lost.  He asked the communicating spirit what the inscription inside the ring was and was given the exact word, a very peculiar one.  In a letter to Professor William James of Harvard, Nichols wrote, “As you know, I have been a Laodicean toward her heretofore.  But that she is no fraud, and that she is the greatest marvel I have ever met, I am now convinced.” 

The militant skeptics would not suggest telepathy or mind reading in the Nichols case, because even telepathy defies the laws of mechanistic science. Nichols must have been delusional; there can be no other explanation, the militants reason. 

Jump back two cases to no. 65, several years before Piper was tested by Lodge and Nichols.  This test was carried out by Dr. Minot Savage, a Unitarian minister, and was arranged by Professor James. In that sitting, Phinuit, speaking through Mrs. Piper, told Savage that an older man was there and was referring to Minot as “Judson.”  Phinuit also said that the man had a peculiar bare spot on his head.  Savage understood this, explaining that Judson was his middle name and the name by which his father called him, even though everyone else called him Minot.  Also, his father had suffered a bad burn at an early age, which left a large bare spot on his head, something he tried to disguise by brushing his hair over it.  (It should be noted that spirits generally show themselves in a manner that they will be remembered, not as they are in spirit life.)  “I was therefore naturally struck and surprised by suddenly hearing one who claimed to be my father giving me once more my old boyhood name,” Savage reported to James. “I was not consciously thinking of these things, and I am convinced that Mrs. Piper couldn’t have known anything about them.” 

During the same sitting, Phinuit also said, “Here is somebody who says his name is John.  He was your brother.  No, not your own brother, your half-brother.”  This brother also related personal facts from his life, including how he died, all of which Savage confirmed as true. “Many other things occurred during the sitting,” Savage related.  “But I mention only these, because, though simple, they are clear-cut and striking, and because I see no way by which Mrs. Piper could ever have known them.”

The militant skeptic will tell you that mediums of the day knew each other and Mrs. Piper tapped into the medium “message board” for information about Savage before he sat with her, even though we are told that his name was not given to her beforehand.  There is no end to “might have” or “could have” theories that the debunkers come up with.  When those don’t work, they point to the medium’s failures, discounting all the “static” and “noise” that interfere with clear communication. They seemingly assume, as some religionists do, that if there is an afterlife that people become all-knowing and all-powerful and that the communication should be as clear as talking on a good telephone line, when, in fact, it is more like prisoners of war tapping out messages between cells. 

One more Piper case, that of Professor N. S. Shaler, a renowned Harvard geologist.  In Baird’s case no. 66, he reported that he and his wife sat with Piper and she began by making true statements relating to his wife’s deceased brother.  “Certain of the facts, as, for instance, those relating to the failure to find his will after his sudden death, were very nearly and dramatically rendered,” Shaler reported. “They had the real life quality.  So, too, the name of the man who was to have married my wife’s brother’s daughter, and who died a month before the time fixed for the wedding, was correctly given, both as regards surname and Christian name, though the Christian name was not remembered by my wife or me.” 

A few other cases among the 100 offered by Baird have to do with Mrs. Piper, but there is a wide variety of cases not involving her.  Some have to do with veridical apparitions and deathbed visions, some with other mediums.  Some are more convincing than others.  Baird added another 100 cases in a second book, Case Book for Survival.  I could add 200 cases to his 200, many more involving Leonora Piper as set forth in my book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper.  But the militant skeptic would shrug them off as anecdotal and unscientific.  All of those intelligent men and women were simply duped as they had a “will to believe,” they would say with much hubris.  There can be no other explanation because it all defies the laws of nature and science. 

My guess is that Professor Hawking was too busy studying the cosmos to ever look at such evidence.  He was likely focused on the trees and never saw the forest.  Some believers might say that Hawking now knows better, but I wonder if he does.  There is considerable spirit communication suggesting that we continue to believe as we did when we parted the material world.  The Catholics remain Catholics, the atheists stay atheist, etc., until they have fully adapted to the spirit world and are prepared to grasp the reality of it all. This seems to suggest that the non-believer, at least the militant one – the one who has taken pride in his insolence while trying to influence others toward his belief – will not even realize he is dead for some time after death and will live in some kind of dream world for a time, however time plays out there.

To again quote Sir Oliver Lodge:  “I tell you with all my strength of the conviction which I can muster that we do persist…I say it on distinct scientific grounds.  I say it because I know that certain friends of mine still exist, because I have talked with them.” 

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:  April 22

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Dead Doctor Continues Practice After Death

Posted on 26 March 2018, 10:15

Is it possible for a deceased surgeon to continue treating and operating on humans after his or her death?  It sounds unbelievable and the militant skeptics no doubt find it laughable, but the story of John of God, a Brazilian healer, certainly lends itself to such a belief (see my blog of 12/12/11 in archives at left).  However, George Chapman of England was doing much the same type of healing when John of God was just a toddler.  I was unaware of Chapman until reading his story in the book Surgeon from another World, authored by George Chapman and Roy Stemman and recently republished by White Crow Books. 

Chapman (1921 – 2006) was a medium who is said to have partnered with William Lang (1852 – 1937), an English surgeon, in the practice of spiritual healing. Chapman had never met Lang and had never heard of him before Lang started controlling him shortly after he discovered his mediumistic abilities in 1946.  Research revealed that Lang had been an ophthalmic surgeon at the famous Middlesex Hospital in London between 1880 and 1914 and continued in a limited practice until the late 1920s. 

After a self-induced trance, which Chapman (below) learned to easily enter, Lang took control of Chapman’s body for up to six hours.  “In order to operate effectively on patients’ spirit bodies, Dr. Lang needs a medium whose etheric and physical body he can use for a period of time, and so, although my physical body plays no part in the treatment, it makes all the movements that Dr. Lang is making and I seem to be operating with invisible instruments,” Chapman explains, pointing out that Lang is unable to see inanimate objects, although he can often sense them.  “But he sees the patents’ spirit bodies very clearly and that is all that is necessary for him to achieve his results.”  The operations were not invasive of the physical body as reported to be the case with some spiritual healers, but scars would appear for a brief period on the part of the physical body corresponding to that part of the spirit body operated on. 


While in the trance state, Chapman was unaware of the procedures and knew nothing about what took place after he recovered awareness.  He would initially feel a strong pulling sensation at the base of his skull and would then experience many dreams, but those were the only memories he had of the procedures.

As Chapman came to understand it and explains it, we all have three bodies – the physical, the etheric, and the spirit.  The etheric body is a go-between the physical and spiritual bodies and supplies energy to the physical body. At death, the etheric body clings to the spirit body like a magnet for a short time, until unsuited to the vibrations of the next world, and having completed its purpose, it also dies. (“Second Death”)  The spirit body is an exact replica of the physical body and it is on the spirit body that Dr. Lang (below) operated.  Further, we are all surrounded by an electro-magnetic field of energy called the aura.  It reflects the patient’s health, and Dr. Lang could diagnose health problems from this. This aura also reflects a person’s spiritual nature.


The book includes stories of a number of seemingly miraculous healings by Dr. Lang.  Although he was unable to help everyone, it is reported that those not healed physically often felt uplifted spiritually. Chapman had clinics in England, France, and Switzerland. 

A number of doctors referred their patients to Chapman and gave testimony to his (or Lang’s) healing powers. Robert W. Laidlaw, M.D., a member of the American Society for Psychical Research, studied the Chapman-Lang phenomenon.  “I fully believed then, and I believe now, that I was conversing with the surviving spirit of a doctor who had died some thirty years ago,” Laidlaw is quoted.  “His whole manner was simple, warm, and sincere…I am convinced that the voice I heard which was transmitted through the medium, Mr. George Chapman, was generated by the deceased but still very much alive Mr. Lang, and my memory of him is as sharp and as real as if I had been sitting by him talking to him in the flesh.”

A Swiss psychiatrist who preferred not to give her name is quoted as saying she had known Dr. Lang since 1975 and he had her complete trust.  “Dr. Lang’s diagnosis does not depend on the questioning of the patient,” she states. “It is an instantaneous diagnosis.  Even before one is able to tell him how one suffers, he is able to say what the problem is.  He says it with precision, with a surprising accuracy and with details which would need X-rays and modern laboratory tests for them to be known by any other doctor.”

Dr. Yves Marcel, a French physician, observed Chapman/Lang perform surgery on one of his patients.  Since Chapman had no recollection of what had taken place, he asked Marcel to record what he saw.  “I had the privilege of being present the third time Dr. Lang operated through you on M. L’Haridon,” Marcel wrote.  “Dr. Lang operated three times in all.  The patient was lying in his bed.  You entered the bedroom, sat down on a chair, and went very rapidly into a trance. Then you stood up and bent over the patient.  Your features were altered, and so was your voice; even your English was different.  You were no longer the Mr. Chapman I had seen entering the room a few minutes before.  You moved your right hand first over the patient’s liver, then over the whole abdomen (your hand remaining at a distance of about ten centimeters from the patient’s body, stopping here and there at different places.  I noted a curious clicking of your fingers.  During that time your ‘other voice’ also had some words of encouragement for the patient; it enquired, too, about his state of health.  ‘Does he suffer? Does he take his meals? Does he vomit? Are the motions black?’ Finally, your hand remained still for a short time over the left iliac (hip-bone) fossa and over the forehead, with no clicking of the fingers this time.”

Marcel added that most psychologists would conclude that Dr. Lang is a “secondary personality” of Chapman’s.  “But for most psychologists today the term ‘secondary personality’ is a misused one and means only some sort of fancy and unreal personality, unconsciously created by the medium out of bits and pieces of recollections soldered together by his imagination,” he continued.  “This is not a satisfactory explanation, either.  It is, at best, an a priori hypothesis which demands verification in each case, and I must say that in Dr. Lang’s case the hypothesis is quite irrelevant.  How could such a fancy personality make a reasonable medical diagnosis and relieve the physical ailments?”

Marcel concluded that the only safe and simple way of viewing the matter is to adopt a new model of the universe where death, far from being an annihilation of existing entities, represents only a change of state for them, whatever the nature and magnitude of that change may be.” 

As Marcel further explained his conclusion, Lang had to merge with Chapman’s personality, the result being a “new psychological complex” in which Lang constitutes the active part and Chapman’s personality the passive part.  The bottom line, as Marcel saw it, life continues beyond the grave and Dr. Lang is who he claims to be.

Lang’s daughter, Marie Lyndon Lang, and his granddaughter, Susan Fairtlough both conducted their own investigations of Chapman and were certain that it was their father/grandfather.  “To my great horror, or rather stupefaction, the man who was in this room was indisputably my grandfather,” Fairtlough wrote. “It was not him physically, but it was his voice, his behavior.  It was unquestionable.  He spoke to me and evoked precise events of my childhood.  And I was so impressed that all I could say was, ‘Yes, grandpa, No, grandpa.’”  Likewise, the daughter reported that his speech, mannerisms, and detailed recall of events in their lives convinced her that her father had survived death and was able to communicate with her through Chapman and treat patients through him.   

As Chapman saw it, his relationship with Lang went beyond the healing of physical bodies.  “The real purpose of Dr. Lang’s spirit return, I am convinced, is not solely to cure sick people,” he is quoted by co-author Stemman, a well-known journalist. “It is to touch the soul and to give us a new, convincing insight and understanding of the spiritual reality which surrounds us.”

Since the book is primarily an autobiography, the skeptic might question the accuracy of it, but it is noted that other books have been written about Chapman and Lang, including The Return of Dr. Lang, by S. G. Miron, Heaven on My Doorstep by Elma M. Williams,  and Healing Hands by Bernard Hutton.

Surgeon from Another World is available from Amazon and other stores.

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: April 9


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English Professor Discovers a Different Reality

Posted on 12 March 2018, 9:54

Brought up in the Catholic Church, Dr. Frank Juszczyk, (pictured below with wife, Jean) a professor emeritus of English at Western New Mexico University, has explored Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Quakerism, Unitarianism, Swedenborgianism, various Protestant Christian sects, Christian Science, and other faiths and disciplines of a metaphysical nature.  Moreover, he holds the rank of black sash in Chinese boxing (Kung-Fu), which he has taught for some 40 years, and which he believes has instilled in him certain insights, especially how to overcome fear.  He calls the worldview he finally adopted as multidimensional. “Once I discovered what I considered the metaphysical implications of quantum physics – what I call ‘mysticism with legs’ – I felt that I had finally discovered a view of ultimate reality that was, in so-called ‘real’ terms, provable and yet remained open to further interpretation as more became known,” he explains in response to an email I sent him.


I had read Juszczyk’s recently released book, Disobliging Reality, and was curious about some of his beliefs and ideas.  For one, I asked him to elaborate a little on his advice that we should “walk in two worlds.”  He corrected me on that, saying that it is actually “walk between the worlds,” pointing out that this happens when a person is finally able to anchor “that” (the non-physical reality) in “this” (the ordinary physical reality he or she is used to).  “You come to understand that reality has a dual nature that is both physical and non-physical at the same time,” he points out.  “As I say in my book, ‘It will feel like being on a tour of an exotic locale.  You will appreciate the scenery, be entertained by the locals, bargain at the shops, listen to music, and enjoy the local festivals, but you do not live there….’ You are not completely committed to either reality because your consciousness has moved to a higher level that encompasses both at the same time.” 


As Juszczyk sees it from his understanding of quantum physics, our perceived “reality” is an illusion created by our limited sensory abilities and by programming imposed upon each of us by our cultures, education, religious instruction and parental influence. “There are other ‘worlds’ or dimensions, which exist in other frequencies that we cannot ordinarily perceive because their frequency is incompatible with that of our accustomed reality,” he further explains.  “There is bleed-through from time to time from these other frequencies that we interpret as paranormal experiences. They are every bit as real as the world we take to be our everyday standard of reality.”

A resident of Silver City, New Mexico, Juszczyk, who will turn 80 on July 13, says that he has always been a “seeker.”  Defining moments in his search for truth came during the 1980s, when he had two separate UFO encounters. “I have conducted extensive research into the UFO phenomenon since my encounters and have concluded that, as UFO researcher Jacques Vallee contends, they are not interstellar craft traveling across vast reaches of space, but interdimensional phenomena, which interact with the consciousness of the observer,” he states.  “This does not mean that they are not real. I believe that they are somehow connected with a momentary receptivity on the part of the observer who has been selected (or an unconscious part of him- or herself has elected) to receive an experience of a non-ordinary reality. The result is usually either an expansion of the observer’s awareness, or an emotional trauma that creates fear and confusion for the observer who cannot completely trust his or her reality afterwards. I believe my metaphysical search had something to do with my receptivity to this kind of experience as in ‘nothing is really what it seems’.”

Juszczyk’s first book, Our Gal Someday, is a novel involving a self-centered young man who works for an agency that investigates reports of UFO sightings. While investigating a UFO landing, he meets a young woman (the Someday of the title) who seems to have paranormal abilities and becomes his mentor. His adventures with Someday alter the man’s belief in his former reality. Eventually, a UFO lands and the young man and Someday communicate with the alien pilot of the craft, who is unlike any of the stereotypes with which they are familiar. The entire experience changes the young man in profound ways and he returns to his home without resolving his relationship with Someday.  But with his new perspective on reality, he is optimistic about an eventual reunion with her on a higher, more extra-dimensional level.

Another defining point in his search for truth came in 2009 when he encountered his double.  He had been undergoing chemo and radiation treatment for prostate cancer when, along with his wife, Jean, and her sister, Kathy, he attended a Matrix Energetics seminar in Albuquerque. “We had been practicing the “two-point,” which is a way of creating a weak un-collapse of quantum wave function so as to ‘re-boot’ one’s consciousness and open it to the limitless possibilities of quantum potential,” Juszczyk recalls, going on to say that his sister-in-law performed a two-point on him.  During the procedure, he saw a “ghostly composition” that was also seen by his sister-in-law, who described it as “another you.”

From what Juszczyk has learned in Matrix Energetics, there are multiple versions of ourselves in other dimensions who do not share our specific conditions. “Therefore, a version of me who never had prostate cancer can exchange that condition with my own, but without having to suffer my cancerous condition himself,” he elucidates.  “This is pretty routine stuff for Matrix, and can be initiated at will, using intent and immediately letting go without having envisioned a specific outcome. The outcome is left to the universe of possibilities that arise from an un-collapsed state.”  To this day, he has had no recurrence of the prostate condition.

Jumping ahead to 2014, Jean, his wife of 40-plus years, transitioned on Christmas day.  About two weeks later, Juszczyk began receiving many messages from her.  “During the first two years of my grief, she was close by and created a variety of poltergeist-type phenomena that surprised and delighted me with evidence of her presence,” he further recalls. “Perhaps two months or so after her passing, two friends of ours who had attended Matrix Energetics’ seminars informed me of a conference to be held by The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies in Scottsdale, Arizona. Seeking diversion from my sorrow, I decided to attend. The first workshop I attended on the first day of the conference held another surprise. While I was awaiting other attendees to take their seats for the workshop, a middle-aged woman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, ‘I’m a medium. I’m getting messages, and I don’t think they’re for me.’ She proceeded to inform me that my wife wanted me to know that she had ‘got her waist back.’  I knew immediately that it was Jean because she had passed from cirrhosis of the liver caused by autoimmune hepatitis. This had caused a distension of her abdomen, which annoyed her considerably. The medium repeated other information from Jean that confirmed her identity for me.”

The following day, as he was having lunch in the Embassy Suites’ restaurant, a young woman sitting nearby approached him and declared, ‘Your wife is practically dragging me over here to talk to you.’  “She sat down with me and reported a number of very specific details involving Jean’s passing that convinced me that Jean was again transmitting messages. One message in particular hit home. The medium said that Jean wanted me to thank her sister, Kathy, for keeping me sane after her passing. This was true as Jean’s sister had immediately driven to Jean’s and my home to help and console me as soon as she learned of her sister’s transition.”

Although Juszczyk had no doubt before those contacts that consciousness survives death, he still grieved.  “We both knew that death is an illusion and that our consciousness is eternal. However, if this understanding lessened my grief at her passing, it did not prevent me from experiencing the kind of loss that most people endure when someone you love moves on to another reality,” he explains. “I went through an emotional cataclysm beyond anything I ever could have imagined. I had parted with my best friend and heart’s companion, at least in the physical sense. Yet I knew that I would rejoin her when my own passing took place. She was not long in reassuring me of this fact. I believe that her reconnection with me from the Other Side certainly mitigated the duration of my grief. As severe as it was, it was tempered by certain knowledge that she is still with me and does what she can to help my progress both in reuniting with her and in gaining greater awareness from the experience of being on my own. This knowledge recast my grief into a far greater context than it otherwise would have had. There is a purpose and a plan to our severest trials, and this awareness makes them more bearable.”

Jean continues to communicate.  “There is usually a three- or four-week interval between her ‘signs,’ Juszczyk mentions.  “She often plays pranks on me by switching channels on the TV, stopping the digital clock on the TV’s program guide, and once even disconnected the ignition switch on her car as I was trying to start it after I had purposely asked her for a sign. After I accused her of playing this little prank, she allowed me to start the car. It had never happened in that car before, and it has not happened since. I am convinced that Jean’s and my shared awareness of the illusory nature of this reality has enabled us to establish a vital connection between our two worlds.”

As he prepares to enter his ninth decade of life, Juszczyk, who lives alone in a somewhat isolated forest area nine miles outside of town, can’t help wonder if there is a plan for the rest of his life.  He was told by Jean, through a medium, that they are both part of a plan and that he will know in time what the plan is. It was also communicated that he is to be a “conduit” for information about the afterlife and circumstances beyond our space-time. “I willingly accept this role,” he concludes.  “At my age, I am not overly sensitive about how people react to what I tell them. Yes, there is an afterlife and, even more, there are many other dimensions or real ‘worlds’ that we may experience. We are not limited to the supposed eleven dimensions of String Theory. There was no Big Bang. We do not live in a closed-system universe that will destroy itself through entropy. What’s more, evolution has never been conclusively proven. Einstein made some mistakes. He wanted to hold onto some element of physical reality to justify his theories, but nothing is physical. There is only consciousness, local and non-local, and it is infinite and eternal. We are infinite and eternal. Just accepting that awareness would make our experience here a lot more pleasant and fruitful. But we (other people) become ‘stuck.’  We cling to limited conceptions of who we are and what is possible for us. We become entangled in scenarios that we make up out of fear, anger, guilt, envy, resentment, etc. What an unnecessary waste of our potential! So I will search the bushes for that hundredth monkey who will wake up to the true nature of existence, and who will teach all the other monkeys about it. I am the Monkey-Rouser. Wake up and open your eyes! Spread the word! You are not merely who you have been taught you are! You are God (the Source, the Infinite Consciousness) incarnate! Live up to your birthright!”

Juszczyk’s website can be found at and his books at He can be contacted at .(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.

Next blog post: March 26

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The Key to Overcoming Grief

Posted on 26 February 2018, 15:15

As I understand it, today’s “grief counselors” encourage people to get over their grief from losing a loved one by putting the past behind them and living in the present.  Less nicely put, it means pretty much forgetting the loved one as quickly as possible and getting on with life. Based on my survey of a number of websites dealing with grief counseling, the survival of the deceased loved one in another realm of existence is a taboo subject.  If the grieving person brings it up, he or she should be referred to his or her pastor for guidance.  But the “heaven” of orthodoxy usually seems more like a punishment than a reward, at most a very boring fantasy land, so that does little to mitigate the grief. 

Over some 80-plus years, I have seen many friends and relatives struggle with the grief that follows the death of a loved one, and it is not nearly as simple as the mental health “experts” who make up the grief counseling rules seem to want to make it. Underlying the grief of nearly all of those in deep despair at the loss of a loved one is what author August Goforth calls an “existential bleakness” – the inability to find any real meaning in death…or in life.  Moreover, living in the present, as the grief counselors advise, so often unfolds as hedonism – eat, drink, and be merry. It involves escaping into seemingly meaningless and mundane activities in order to overcome it all and move on. 

Goforth’s recently released book, The Risen: A Companion to Grief, opposes the mainstream approach of avoiding talk about the survival of our loved ones.  “Achieving awareness of our immortality will lift our minds above the temporary chaos of humankind and connect us with a greater reality that is infinite, and which means there is no final ending,” he explains, going on to say that we should be able to find comfort with grief rather than from it. 

In addition to being a New York psychotherapist, Goforth is also an intuitive-mental and psychophysical spirit medium who knows with certainty that this life is a small part of a much larger life and that we will be reunited with out loved ones again.  There is no reason to bury them in the deep recesses of our mind as garden variety mental health experts would have us do.  Once we have the conviction that we will see them again, we can overcome the grief by embracing them rather than by forgetting them.

After reading Goforth’s 2009 book, The Risen, I had the opportunity to interview him for a publication I then edited.  He informed me that Timothy Gray, a co-author of that earlier book as well as this book, was a New York City writer, editor and photographer who transitioned to the spirit world during the early 1990s, and then, about two years after his physical death, began communicating with him, providing his own experiences in the afterlife as well as information given to him by “The Risen Collective,” a group of more advanced spirit entities who use Timothy Gray to relay information to Goforth.

As Goforth explains it, the members of the Risen Collective once lived on this Earth and much of what they advise comes from emotional states they experienced when incarnate as well as from emotional insights they have discovered in their present state of existence. As they see it, grief is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a doorway that is meant to be passed through.  The key to getting through that doorway, Goforth says, is to surrender. 

“Surrender is getting into a neutral zone after letting negative momentum subside,” he further explains.  “Once in the neutral zone – or mid-pendulum – we can begin to consciously choose to raise our vibration higher and higher by looking for better ways to use our mind, such as focusing on the miraculous fact that our Risen Loved Ones are still alive and moving about in ways that are certain to overwhelm but then soothe our old ways of thinking.” 

A message that has come through many mediums over the years is stressed by The Risen.  That is, our grief is disturbing to our discarnate loved ones.  “If we continue to feed our grief and maintain limiting beliefs about it, the resulting feeling will reach out and connect to our Risen Loved One but in discomforting ways – usually by exerting a feeling of pulling them back to the Earth,” Goforth offers.  “This pulling feels shadowy and substandard to them because the Earth is no longer their natural habitat.” 

The Foreword of Goforth’s book includes a short story from a 1918 book, The Light Beyond, by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who won the 1911 Nobel Prize in literature.  He told of visiting an old friend, a widowed woman, who had lost her son in one of the battles of the Great War.  He hesitated as he knocked on her door, expecting to find his friend in a state of hopeless grief and impervious to any words of comfort that he might attempt to offer. “To my great astonishment, she handed me her hand with a kindly smile,” Maeterlinck wrote. “Her eyes, to which I hardly dared raise my own, were free of tears.”

The old friend continued the reunion in a cheerful tone, and it seemed to Maeterlinck that her voice had grown younger.  Maerterlinck said that he had heard of her sorrow and was about to offer his condolences when the friend interrupted him and said that “he is not dead.”  Confused, Maerterlinck sought clarification.  The old friend showed him a picture of her son’s grave and went on to explain that she had been in communication with her son since his battlefield death. 

“Yes, his body is over there; and I have even a photograph of the grave.  Let me show it to you,” the old friend continued.  “See that fourth cross on the left, that fourth cross; that is where he is lying.  One of his friends, who buried him, sent me this card and gave me all the details.  He suffered no pain.  There was not even a death struggle. And he has told me so himself. He is quite astonished that death should be so easy, so slight a thing.”

The old friend noticed the puzzled look on Maerterlink’s face and said she had assumed he would understand, since he had written extensively on the evidence for survival and spirit communication, his 1913 book, Our Eternity, which has become a classic in the field of survival, consciousness, psychic phenomena, and mysticism. “I do not explain the matter to the others,” she went on.  “What would be the use? They do not wish to understand.  But you, you will understand.  He is more alive than he ever was; he is free and happy.  He does just as he likes.  He tells me that one cannot imagine what a release death is, what a weight it removes from you, nor the joy which it brings.  He comes to see me when I call him. He loves, especially, to come in the evening; and we chat as we used to.  He has not altered; he is just as he was on the day he went away, only younger, stronger, handsomer.  We have never been happier, more united, nearer to one another. He divines my thoughts before I utter them.  He knows everything; he sees everything; but he cannot tell me everything he knows. He maintains that I must be wanting to follow him and that I must wait for my hour. And, while I wait, we are living in a happiness greater than that which was ours before the war, a happiness which nothing can ever trouble again.”

Maeterlinck understood completely.  His surprise had to do with the fact that his old friend had so perfectly converted and adjusted to his way of thinking.  His sympathy now took on a different form. “Those about her pitied the poor woman; and, as she did not weep, as she was gay and smiling, they believed her mad.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

Next blog post:  March 12




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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, 10:14

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, 12:37

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, 10:41

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, 8:52

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, 15:17

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, 8:37

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, 8:02

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, 7:58

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, 9:40

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, 7:31

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, 9:20

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.


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Why the Vanishing Phenomena?

Posted on 22 May 2017, 8:11

“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, 8:31

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, 9:45

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, 9:15

“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.


Next blog post: April 24


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Forever Family Foundation: Practical Bereavement

Posted on 27 March 2017, 8:48

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.


Next blog post: April 10


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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.


Next blog post: March 13


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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.

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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.

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NDE on the Battlefield: Going Far Beyond John Wayne

Posted on 24 October 2016, 9:53

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.


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The Amazing Bangs Sisters

Posted on 17 October 2016, 8:23

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, 8:16

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, 10:48

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, 7:29

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, 13:16

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, 8:25

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, 11:25

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