home books e-books audio books recent titles with blogs
From Treasure to Trash, or What Was, “Was”

Posted on 28 September 2020, 8:38

It seems somewhat selfish to die and leave one’s worthless personal possessions for someone else to sort out and discard. Thus, I took advantage of the pandemic lockdown to rummage through memorabilia stashed in nine large boxes in the closet of a spare bedroom with the objective of trashing most of it so that my wife Gina would not be burdened with it all after I die.  I failed badly, as, after many hours of sorting, selecting and sifting, I have eight boxes remaining. Many of those hours were spent reading, remembering, reminiscing and reflecting.  Disposing of a lifetime of keepsakes is a challenging task. 

Included in those nine boxes were hundreds of family photos going back to the early 1900s, elementary school class pictures, yearbooks, school report cards, numerous action shots from my competitive running days, scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, group shots with old friends now mostly deceased, military mementos, programs and scorecards from events during the 1940s and ‘50s, a dozen or more certificates and diplomas, hundreds of articles I had contributed to various newspapers, magazines and journals over the past seven decades, going back to my high school newspaper, a lock of hair from my first haircut, a bill for $1.50 from my first visit to a dentist, and sundry odds and ends. 

One of the photos has Hawaii’s Diamond Head, an extinct volcano, almost perfectly framed by tree branches as I race down Mount Tantalus (see below).  It was one of many photos I tossed in the wastebasket but then retrieved and placed back in the box.  It seemed as if I were discarding memories as well as objects.  Moreover, one of the things I’ve learned in life is that as soon as I throw away something, a need for it develops within a month.


I had already sorted out some of the family photos a few years earlier and gave them to my two daughters and brother.  Still, there were hundreds left over that they didn’t have the space or need for. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them in the trash then and was hoping to be less materialistic this time. Several years before that, I had dumped 50 or more trophies, including one about two-feet tall from the New York City Marathon. I struggled to dispose of those trophies, as my ego conflicted with Matthew 6:19, which reads, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…”

I did not want them to be dust-collecting ego pacifiers, but, at the same time, they served as symbols of memorable experiences.  I have forgotten much over 83-plus years and didn’t want to forget those experiences.  Many were already buried in my subconscious before being raised above the threshold of my consciousness by the trophies and photos. 

Those running souvenirs were especially difficult to part with.  Years of running helped me learn to commit myself to a goal; to discipline myself to the demands of that goal; to develop and adapt; to pace myself for the short term and long haul; to cruise, to struggle, to push on, to slowly die; then to be reborn (after crossing the finish line).  The lessons learned were applied to more serious endeavors and seemed to work. I wondered if I could hold on to those memories without the materialistic symbols. The trophies went into some big trash bags and came out again, but Matthew and Gina finally prevailed as I reluctantly put them in the trash can.  I did keep three from the Honolulu Marathon that appeared to be works of art, possibly collector’s items (see below). I talked my younger daughter into taking one of them, but the other two remain unclaimed.


I gave a grandson my old autograph book with some legendary signatures like Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Ernie Lombardi, Larry Doby, Luke Easter, Billy Martin, Cookie Lavagetto, and many other baseball stars from yesteryear, but he isn’t much of a baseball fan and so I held on to some old scorebooks and other sports memorabilia.  Someone suggested I could sell them on e-bay, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort or the postage. Besides, I couldn’t bring myself to sell them no matter how many dollars they might fetch.

Outside the closet with the boxes are shelves and shelves of books, maybe 700, that will overwhelm Gina when the time comes for her to move to a smaller abode. There’s one signed by “Patience Worth,” no doubt by Pearl Curran, her medium, with a long inscription to a friend, another by medium George Valiantine, still another by Lou Zamperini, subject of the hit 2014 movie Unbroken.  I should get rid of them now, but it is difficult to give them up before it is absolutely necessary.  When that “absolute” time comes, it’s too late. It’s a very ambivalent “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation.  I feel especially selfish holding on to the books and leaving them for Gina to get rid of, but the books still provide interest, information, inspiration, and intrigue in leisure times, which are more abundant these days.  I’d rather read them than play games or watch some second-rate television program.   

So much for our worldly treasures!  They fade, tear, rust, stain, tarnish, or end up in boxes stored in a closet or in the attic before eventually being tossed in the trash or sold for fifty cents at a garage sale. I recall once browsing at a garage sale and seeing framed family photos, the attire of the photographed subjects suggesting that they were taken during the 1940s or ‘50s, in boxes and being sold for a dollar each, subject to negotiation down to fifty cents, no doubt for the value of the frames.  I wondered if the only thing remaining of those people in the pictures might be some mention on  A few generations down the line, some distant progeny might look at his or her family tree on the Internet and wonder who the ancestor with the funny haircut and old-fashioned attire was.  The ancestor will be just a name with his or her dates of birth and death listed.  Then again, cyber wars might eliminate all electronic records by that time. It will then be as if the person never existed. Hopefully, whatever love and service the person was able to contribute during his or her lifetime will have filtered down and have had a positive effect on some descendants.

In effect, all those worldly “treasures” remaining in the eight boxes are meaningless in the long run.  They are worth nothing to anybody but myself.  Shame on me for holding on to them. Even more shame on me when I think of all the people who in recent weeks have lost all material possessions, including photo albums and other keepsakes, to wildfires, hurricanes, and floods.  They’ll be deprived of their mementos for many more years, while I had mine for nearly all my years. 

As I see it, there is only one effective way to live, and that is “to live in eternity,” which means living in the present, past, and future all at the same time. The present should dominate one’s consciousness, but the past and future must be factored in, I believe, if one is to have proper perspective.  Viewing some old photos and odds and ends from the past every now and then does serve as a reminder of how adversity can be overcome, while pondering on what comes after death can brighten the future. 

As for those eight remaining boxes, I’ve asked my wife not to bother sorting through them after I’ve departed this realm of existence, and to simply trash them.  Before that time comes, I might do a little more sorting and reminiscing. 

Next blog post:  October 12

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in February 2021.

Read comments or post one of your own
‘Life Eternal’ Explained by “Titanic” Victim

Posted on 14 September 2020, 8:28

Before writing my 2012 book, Transcending the Titanic, I read everything I could find by or about William T. Stead, the famous British journalist who was a victim of the Titanic. I recently discovered that I missed an important reference, Life Eternal, a 1933 book just republished by White Crow Books.  It is the record of afterlife communication said to be coming from Stead through the mediumship of Hester Dowden, aka Hester Travers Smith, and organized into a book by Estelle Stead, William’s daughter.

Stead was on his way to New York to give a speech at Carnegie Hall on world peace when he met his end on the infamous ocean liner.  His career as a journalist and author began during the 1860’s when he became a reporter for a newspaper called the Northern Echo, advancing to editor in 1871.  In 1880, he accepted a position as assistant editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, then became its editor in 1883.  In 1890, he founded the Review of Reviews.  He has been credited with having introduced the interview technique to British journalism while inventing the “New Journalism,” bringing important topics in bright, colorful prose to the man in the street.  Stead (below) was also well known in psychic circles as the founder of Borderland, a quarterly journal devoted to psychical matters, and as an automatic writing medium. 


In a story written by B. O. Flower, the editor of Arena, a popular American publication, Stead is referred to as a cosmopolitan journalist “with a rare blending of intellectual force with moral conviction, idealism with utilitarianism, a virile imagination, and a common sense practicality that strove to make the vision a useful reality.”  Those qualities and characteristics apparently remained with him in the afterlife. 

Dowden, (below) an Irish medium, was the daughter of Professor Edward Dowden, a distinguished Shakespearian scholar, and the wife of a prominent Dublin physician. She was primarily an automatic writing and Ouija board medium, sitting regularly with a small group of friends, including Sir William Barrett, a renowned physicist and psychical researcher. Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous automatist in history, was introduced to mediumship by Dowden.


“[Dowden] is not a credulous or hasty investigator; on the contrary, the trend of her mind is healthily skeptical, and hence the opinions at which she has arrived cannot be dismissed as the product of morbid curiosity or the mere will to believe,” Barrett wrote in the Introduction to her 1919 book, Voices from the Void.

It was on April 15, 1912, when Dowden received a very rapid message stating: “Ship sinking; all hands lost. William East overboard.  Women and children weeping and wailing – sorrow, sorrow, sorrow.”  She had no idea what the message meant and no more came through at that sitting.  Later that day it was reported that the Titanic had sunk. As a spirit claiming to be Stead communicated at subsequent sittings, Dowden concluded that because of the rapidity of the message she got the last name wrong in that very first message. 

It is not clear from 1933 book when Dowden received the later communication, but indications are that it was many years after the Titanic went down, apparently during the 1920s or just before the book was published. “I have never been so fully conscious of the presence of a communicator as in the W. T. Stead case,” Dowden wrote in the preface to the book.  “I feel that he is entirely outside my personality, using me as an instrument with infinite skill. I find myself conversing with him exactly as I should if his bodily presence was beside me, discussing difficult problems and often arguing with him.”  She further noted that Stead communicated at about 3,000 words an hour, which prohibited any thinking process on her part. 

Stead communicated that his early attempts at communication were not very successful, because although he knew pretty much what to do, he didn’t know how to do it.  Initially, he could shoot only short messages.  “When we communicate with you, we have in a sense to form a body, a body that will compress the soul again to the dimensions it had before it cast off the body,” he explained. “The whole thing is a strain.  When we speak to you, we are in an unnatural condition.”  He added that the initial efforts were so difficult that he gave up on it for a few years (in earth time) before he tried again. 

Here are some of the comments made by Stead through Dowden:

Language: “I am going to use the language of the inhabitants of the Earth, although here in my sphere language is no longer a necessity. Therefore, allowances must be made, if what I describe at times seems grossly material…If I speak of food or drink, houses, poverty, wealth, you must not take it that what I speak of is precisely the equivalent of your poverty and wealth, your food and drink, your houses, etc.”

God: “In the sphere where I am now, we can still only speculate who and what ‘He’ is.  We look on God as Life, the source of life and being, and we know that he is responsible for the universe and all that it contains.  But whether he has a form similar to the human form, where he is a single personality or a vast group of personalities acting together in accord and harmony, we do not know and we can only get as far as the threshold of His house.”

Christ: “Christ came forth from God as a manifestation of God.  He was a Son of God in deed and in truth.  After His manifestation He entered into God and remained as a personality in His teachings only.  Christ as a person does not exist in any of the seven spheres, but His image can manifest there as a symbol of the personality that has passed into the Greater Life.”

Jesus: “Jesus was the vehicle through which Christ worked.  Jesus was a man, was not more divine than other men, but He was possessed of the power to give manifestation of the Divine which is not given to the ordinary man.  Jesus passed into the creative spheres after He left the world, and now He has passed into the Greater Life.” 

Devil: “We know of no devil in the universe, but we do know that certain forces work for retrogression.”

Death: “After death, the soul shoots out of the body, inflicting a terrific strain on itself.  The cord uniting the soul with the body, which resembles the cord between the mother and the child, is not always severed at the moment of death; as a rule it is, but there are exceptions, and the term of severance depends to a certain extent on the knowledge the soul possesses of its conditions. With sudden death, the shock being great, the term of severance may be delayed for a long period, but this is the exception not the rule; in most cases of sudden death the cord is severed at once.”

Subconscious: “The soul, being the whole personality, has a knowledge of the purpose for which it was created; it has also a knowledge of the development that is before it, but this knowledge is subconscious.  And by subconscious, I mean that it does not take this knowledge into the part of the its consciousness that is active.  While a man is on Earth, he only needs a fraction of his personality.”

Corrupt Souls: “When he dies, he remains in a dream or rather in a nightmare condition until the desire to grow returns to him, the desire to have another chance and to forget the past.”

Spheres: “We speak of seven spheres, seven different states, and in each of these there are seven planes.  The spheres are of different quality, and the duration of the soul’s sojourn in each is of a different length.  The state which I call a sphere, is a mental condition.  In each of the spheres we retain ‘form.’ Our bodies become more ethereal as we ascend, or if our choice prompts us to descend, we have more material bodies.”

Education: “After the fourth sphere is passed, your education is complete.  You have arrived at a stage where you no longer learn, you create.  The last three spheres through which you pass are spheres of creative activity.”

Group Soul: “Here, in the fifth sphere, you begin to pass into the Group, to create out of yourself, with the strengthening power of the Group that is behind you.  There are no incongruities here.  Quite naturally, you fall into your Group, or place, and do your work with its support.”

Spiritual Evolution: “When it reaches the seventh sphere, the soul has full realization of itself.  It understands its purpose, and then it is free to choose its destiny.  It is no longer hampered by the laws which compel it to take the next step.  It can choose its own road.  But before that, free will is limited.”

Reincarnation: “The first question you ask is: does the larger proportion of souls who come over from the Earth Sphere return to it? No, by far the larger proportion continue their development on our side, and do not enter the restriction of the physical body again.” 

While stressing that it is for the most part beyond human comprehension, Stead elaborated on much of the above and discussed other subjects, including time, afterlife relationships, activities, appearances, music, animals, and religion, in the first section of the book.  In the second section, he discusses various types of mediumship and explains many of the difficulties encountered in spirit communication, including the possible distortion of messages by the medium’s subconscious mind and “invasions” by low-level spirits stuck in the “Shadow Plane.” 

Next blog post:  September 28

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in February 2021.

Read comments or post one of your own
Professor of Religious Studies Survives Career in Exile

Posted on 31 August 2020, 9:07

After Stafford Betty read my recent Amazon review of Bob Gebelein’s book, Dirty Science, he commented that “the book explains as well as any what happened to me in the suffocating academic environment I lived in. I’m lucky to have survived until retirement, which will be official by the end of this month.”

Betty, a professor of religious studies at California State University at Bakersfield since 1972, dared to go beyond the limits of both orthodox religion and materialistic science in his lectures, discussing with his students credible research in such areas as near-death experiences, reincarnation, mediumship, and deathbed phenomena.  “My departmental colleagues are embarrassed by my interest in the paranormal,” Betty (below) explained when I interviewed him in 2014 “I have tried to share it with selected members, but none has ever shown any interest.  James Joyce once described one of his fictional characters as ‘a giraffe cropping high leafage among a herd of antelopes.’ That’s me.  No doubt several of my colleagues would be happy to see me retire.” 


Gebelein’s book discusses the resistance to paranormal phenomena and the research carried out by many esteemed scientists and scholars over the last century and a half – research strongly suggesting that consciousness survives death in a greater reality. This resistance results from the materialistic mindset which holds that there is no reality beyond the physical, all of which can be detected by our five senses.  It has been called “physicalism,’ “scientism,” ‘reductionism,” or “materialism.”  “…as long as physicalism dominates the academic community, it dominates the whole culture,” Gebelein offers. “The academic community defines that culture. The academic community decides what is ‘established’.” The academic community decides what the culture recognizes as ‘knowledge’… If the academic community is dominated by dirty science, so is culture.”  As he sees it, physicalism dominates the academic community as if it were a hypnotic command. 

Dirty science, Gebelein continues, is that resulting from bias toward psychic phenomena by mainstream scientists – a bias that results in misinterpretations, distortion, twisting, misrepresentations, and ridicule of everything outside the scope of the five senses, including scientific studies by open-minded scientists and academicians who have been brave enough to defy their colleagues and venture outside the limited boundaries of the mainstream.

In my earlier interviews and talks with Professor Betty, we talked about this very bias that has polluted academia.  I again discussed it with him last week.  He explained that impatience over his interests in psychic matters had been mounting over the years, but it was not until 15 years ago, when, as a senior member in his philosophy and religious studies department, he was in charge of hiring two new faculty, that it crested.  “There was fear that I would hire somebody with interests similar to mine,” he further explained by email. “A cabal of Betty haters rose up and began arguing, never to my face but behind my back (as I later learned) that the way I related to women in my department made them ‘uncomfortable’.”

The principle of academic freedom protected Betty from a frontal attack. “The only way to silence and eventually remove me from the department was to assail me (I later learned to my astonishment) as someone who was racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, religiously bigoted, and ageist.”

For the remainder of his career, Betty was banned from the department but continued to teach, not to philosophy or religious studies majors but rather to those majoring in other subjects, including many business majors.  He reported directly to the dean, not the department chair, and wasn’t even allowed to enter the building where his department was housed until the dean discovered such exclusion was illegal.  “The philosophers became increasingly concerned that I was lending respectability to a dualist metaphysics that contradicted the materialist worldview they all hewed to, and wanted their students to hew to,” he lamented. “Their leader swore to remove me from the department any way he could.  The department even removed my courses in Asian philosophy, philosophy of religion, and philosophy and religion in literature from the catalog.”

In spite of his banishment, Betty’s course, The Meaning of Death, became one of the most popular courses in the university. “Its popularity soared after I converted it over from a course more concerned with the sociology of death to one that deals more with metaphysics, especially with life after death,” he told me in the 2014 interview. “It is the latter that many of our students want reassurance about. They are like me thirty years ago.”  When Betty began using his book, The Afterlife Unveiled, in that course, his colleagues found that especially embarrassing. 

“For years, I asked deans and academic vice-presidents – they came and they went – to set up an impartial panel of faculty to investigate the allegations against me, clear my name, and restore my position in the department,” Betty continued. “No one would do it.  Everyone knew the charges would not stand.  To this day I have not been given the chance to face my accusers. I don’t know what they would say or how they would defend their lies. In the end, they got off scot-free.  And the real reason for this persecution?  I believed in a spiritual world and that we are spiritual beings, and I ‘poisoned’ the minds of my students with my ‘pseudoscience.’ They tolerated my teaching of my signature course, The Meaning of Death, as long as none of our majors took it.

“In the final analysis, my colleagues thought I had failed to outgrow the Catholic religion I grew up with.  It never occurred to them that I had outgrown it, too, but had from that point on gone down a different road.  To put it simply, I had felt an emptiness when I lost my faith, and they apparently had not.” 

In my earlier interview with Betty, he explained that his faith in Catholicism began to deteriorate after he returned from a stint in Vietnam as an Army engineer officer, primarily the result of reading Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and not being able to counter his arguments.  While pursuing his studies at Fordham, Columbia, and Union Theological, he concentrated on Asian religious thought, especially Hinduism.  It was not until he had been teaching at Cal State for three years that he read Raymond Moody’s Life after Life, about near-death experiences, and that pieces started to come together for him. Not only did it reassure him that survival is highly probable, but it also led him to explore other paranormal phenomena.     

In retrospect, Betty sees his exile as the best thing that ever happened to him, professionally.  Shut out from departmental activities, he used the extra time to study in depth the books that really interested him – spirit accounts of their world, the one we all enter at death.  In 2011 he authored The Afterlife Unveiled, which is nearing 20,000 in sales.  That was followed by Heaven and Hell Unveiled (2014) and When did You Ever Become Less by Dying? (2016) A novel set in the afterlife, The Imprisoned Splendor, was also published in 2011. 

His new novel, The Afterlife Therapist, published by White Crow Books, is due in September 2020. As described at the White Crow web site, the protagonist, Aiden Lovejoy, a family therapist in earth life, picks up in the afterlife where he left off.  He encounters hellish zones where disfigured characters choose to live, and their suffering calls out to him. But he has troubles of his own, and souls from higher worlds inspire him to reach higher. Betty refers to it as a “more mature fictional adventure” than his earlier novel.  The novel is based on his research. 

“I have no evidence that any tenured professor in my (former) department other than my lone courageous supporter ever read a page of these books, either fiction or non-fiction,” he wrote.  “Instead of seeing me as a pioneer bringing distinction to the university, they regard me as an odd duck whose interests suggest, as one of them put it, an unfulfilled life at a physical level, which is entirely untrue.”

I asked Betty if he sees any hope that academia will move away from the materialist worldview it is now stuck in.  “Plenty of hope, but nothing like compelling evidence,” he responded. “My books produced a lot of correspondence, but not from philosophy professors.  I tell myself it’s okay.  There are many inquisitive minds out there that have not been shuttered by the requirements of a philosophy curriculum.” 

Any plans for his retirement?  “I’ll have time to set up a web page and bring together my writings into one place – also more time to market my books.  I’m just finishing a semiautobiographical novel about life at a state university – aha! – but what then? I don’t know.  For me, that’s a strange feeling.  One thing is certain, I’ll be spending more time with my three children and four grandchildren and helping my busy wife, an English professor, with the cooking!”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in January 2021.

Next blog post:  September 14

Read comments or post one of your own
Hitting the Wall, then Oblivion?

Posted on 17 August 2020, 8:50

With Hurricane Douglas on a direct path toward Hawaii, where I live,  during the last week of July, I had doubts about making it to my next age milestone of 1000 months on August 2.  Hurricanes are fairly new to us, apparently the result of global warming, and the homes here are not constructed to resist such strong winds.  We have few shelters – just enough for the homeless – and we can’t jump in our cars and flee from it as people on the mainland do.  Thus, as Douglas moved closer and closer, I had visions of flying off with our house while grasping the leg of the heavy oak table in the dining room and embracing my wife.

A much greater fear was that I would survive the hurricane with no house and all worldly goods strewn over the nearby mountain range.  I could envision living my final days in this realm of existence in a grass shack much like the one in the accompanying photo.  If my house were to survive the hurricane winds, I thought about the good possibility that we would be without electricity for weeks, if not months, and I recalled the time a few years ago when less-than-hurricane winds left us without electricity for the better part of a day, during which time the temperature in the house, with windows boarded up, rose to an almost unbearable 115 degrees.  Those fears of living far outweighed the fear of death.


The conviction that I will survive death in a greater reality does much to mitigate the fear of death, whether from a hurricane or bodily functions shutting down.  Many of my friends share such a conviction, but I have encountered a number of nihilists who say they do not fear death because they’ll never know it when they are dead.  They think like Lucretius, the Epicurean poet, that death is a restful sleep. “Personally, I’ve never been persuaded by the argument that ‘oblivion’ is a terrible fate,” lawyer David Niose, a past-president of the American Humanist Association, expressed this humanist view in Psychology Today a few years ago. “Sure, given the choice of living or not – to be or not to be – I’d really prefer the former, but sooner or later we must all come down to the homestretch in life, and to many humanists the non-existence that awaits at the finish line is nothing to be feared.”  Niose added that he expects non-existence after death to be much like it was before birth, which he didn’t mind at all. 

Niose’s seemingly fearless approach may very well work for some, especially those still fairly distant from what they see as the abyss of nothingness.  I recall a friend with somewhat the same heroism, if it can be so called, until he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  As I tried to console him in his final days, his fear manifested as severe trembling and a paralyses that prevented him from even talking.  “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,” wrote William James, one of the pioneers of psychology.  “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 Jung, another pioneer of modern psychology, took something of a Pascalian view.  He wrote that “death is an important interest, especially to an aging person.”  He added that everyone should have a myth about death, “for reason shows him nothing but the dark pit into which he is descending. Myth,  however, can conjure up other images for him, helpful and enriching pictures of life in the land of the dead.  If he believes in them, or greets them with some measure of credence, he is being just as right or just as wrong as someone who does not believe in them.  But while the man who despairs marches toward nothingness, the one who has placed his faith in the 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.”

Jung likened life’s energy flow to that of “a runner who strives with the greatest effort and utmost expenditures of strength to reach his goal.”  Sooner or later, however, the striving ends.  “With the same intensity and irresistibility with which it strove upward before middle age, life now descends; for the goal no longer lies on the summit, but in the valley where the ascent began.”  As psychologist Herman Feifel noted, Jung stressed the point that the rationalistic view of death – that of the nihilist – tends to isolate man from his psychological self and underlines the need for psychology to digest certain parapsychological findings.  Many nihilists, however, are successful in repressing the idea of complete extinction, of obliteration, by engaging in mostly meaningless world activities – reading fiction, playing golf, watching ball games, whatever, until death comes knocking.   

Jung’s runner analogy, Niose’s metaphorical reference to the “homestretch,” and James’s to the “athletic attitude” all bring to mind the marathon running experience.  If I accurately recall the physiological aspects of running the 26.2-mile endurance challenge, the runner depends on carbohydrates in his or her body for energy and then somewhere around 20 miles, when the “carbs” are depleted, he or she switches over to fat burning to avoid “hitting the wall,” as it is called.  The runner not properly conditioned to switch from carbs to fat burning will hit that wall and painfully struggle to make it to the finish line.  As I see it, the nihilist is much like that unconditioned runner.  As he approaches life’s homestretch, his heroic approach dissipates and he begins to flounder.  His early courage is now seen as nothing more than bravado.  There may be exceptions, but I don’t recall having met one. 

Most of the nihilists I have encountered over the years are rebels against religion and have little or no understanding of the survival evidence gathered outside of orthodox religion.  When such evidence is called to their attention, they’ll check Wikipedia and parrot the debunker’s view of whatever phenomenon is being cited. They apply terrestrial standards to celestial matters of which science has no clue.  They assume that it is necessary to prove an anthropomorphic God before considering the evidence for survival of the consciousness at death.  They further assume that the afterlife is nothing more than strumming harps and praising an angry God, something that seems inconceivable for an eternity.  They are victims of scientism, scoffing and sneering at all those subscribing to “religious” superstitions.   
Alan Harrington, author of the 1969 book, The Immortalist, seems to have been a more objective humanist, or nihilist.  “An unfortunate awareness has overtaken our species,” he wrote. “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,” he opined.  If Harrington were alive today, I suspect he would see much of the turmoil and chaos in today’s world resulting from nihilism. 

“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.

The nihilist usually interprets all that to suggest that those who are interested in an afterlife are not making the most of this life.  Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist, was asked about this after devoting much time to psychical research.  “It is no doubt possible, as always, to overstep the happy mean, and by absorption in and premature concerns with future interests to lose the benefit and training of this present life,” he responded.  “But although we may rightly decide to live with full vigour in the present, and do our duty from moment to moment, yet in order to be full-flavoured and really intelligent beings – not merely with mechanical draft following the line of least resistance – we ought to be aware that there is a future, a future determined to some extent by action in the present; and it is only reasonable that we should seek to ascertain, roughly and approximately, what sort of future it is likely to be.”

Hurricane Douglas took a little turn and missed Hawaii by a hundred miles or so, allowing me to make that 1000-month milestone.  With other hurricanes expected to follow and with bodily functions gradually shutting down, I don’t know how many months I have left in this realm of existence, but the conviction that my consciousness will survive my physical death permits a certain peace of mind, one which I am pretty certain I would not have as a nihilist.  As the great philosopher and poet Goethe put it, “When a man is seventy-five he cannot help sometimes thinking about death. The thought of it leaves me perfectly calm, for I am convinced that our spirit is absolutely indestructible…it is like the sun which only seems to sink and in reality never sinks at 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.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in January 2021.

Next blog post:  August 31

Read comments or post one of your own
Quoting Distinguished Scientists and Scholars on Survival

Posted on 03 August 2020, 17:04

It wasn’t long after the birth of modern Spiritualism in 1848 that scientists and scholars began investigating the phenomena.  Many of them started out with the intent of showing that all mediums were charlatans, but one by one they came to believe in the reality of mediumship and related psychic phenomena.  A few of them sat on the fence when it came to professing a belief in the spirit world, but others were more courageous.

Here are testimonials from the earliest researchers.  More recent researchers will be quoted in future posts:

Judge John W. Edmonds (1816-1874) – After serving in both houses of the New York legislature, including president of the Senate, Edmonds was elevated to the New York State Supreme Court and became its Chief Justice.  He began his investigation of mediums in 1851, assuming that he would expose them as frauds.

But all this, and much, very much more of a cognate nature went to show me that there was a high order of intelligence involved in this new phenomenon – an intelligence outside of, and beyond, mere mortal agency; for there was no other hypothesis which I could devise or hear of that could at all explain that, whose reality is established by the testimony of tens of thousands, and can easily be ascertained by anyone who take the trouble to inquire …

Governor Nathaniel P. Tallmadge (1795-1864) – Educated as a lawyer, Tallmadge served as a United States Senator from New York and as Governor of the Territory of Wisconsin. He initially considered mediumship a “delusion,” but was prompted to investigate by the testimony of Judge John W. Edmonds. He soon began communicating with the spirit of his old friend, John C. Calhoun, former vice-president of the United States.  On one occasion, Calhoun asked him to bring a guitar.

I have received numerous communications from [Calhoun] from the time of my commencing this investigation.  They have been received through rapping, writing, and speaking mediums, and are of the most extraordinary character…I have heard the guitar played by the most skillful and scientific hands, but I never could have conceived of that instrument being able to produce sounds of such marvelous and fascinating beauty, power, and even grandeur as this invisible performer that night executed. 

Professor Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871) – Considered one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the 19th Century, De Morgan became chairman of the mathematics department at University College in London at age 21.  He introduced “De Morgan’s Laws” and was a reformer in mathematical logic.  He began sitting with mediums in 1853.

…I have seen in my house frequently, various persons presenting themselves [as mediums].  The answers are given mostly by the table, on which a hand or two is gently placed, tilting up at the letters…I have no theory about it, but in a year or two something may turn up.  I am, however, satisfied of the reality of the phenomenon.  A great many other persons are as cognizant of these phenomena in their own houses as myself.  Make what you can of it if you are a philosopher. 

Professor Robert Hare, M.D.  (1751-1858) – An emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and world-renowned inventor, Hare denounced the “madness” being called “Spiritualism” and set out in 1853 to prove that the raps, taps, and table tilting purportedly bringing messages from the dead were either hallucinations or unconscious muscular actions on the part of those present.

I sincerely believe that I have communicated with the spirits of my parents, sister, brother, and dearest friends, and likewise with the spirits of the illustrious Washington and other worthies of the spirit world; that I am by them commissioned, under their auspices, to teach truth and to expose error.

Professor Johann K. F. Zöllner (1834-1882) – A professor of astronomy at Leipzig University, he contributed to measuring the brightness of the moon and of stars that could be seen.  His book, titled Transcendental Physics, was published in 1880.

We have acquired proof of the existence of an invisible world which can enter into relation with humanity.

Professor James J. Mapes (1806-1866) – A professor of chemistry and natural philosophy at the National Academy of Design in New York and later at the American Institute, Mapes is best remembered for his inventions in sugar refining and artificial fertilizers. He set out around 1854 to rescue his friends who were “running to mental seed and imbecility” over the mediumship epidemic. After investigating many mediums, Mapes changed his views. Moreover, both his wife and daughter became mediums.

The manifestations which are pertinent to the ends required are so conclusive in their character as to establish in my mind certain cardinal points.  These are:  First, there is a future state of existence, which is but a continuation of our present state of being…Second, that the great aim of nature, as shown through a great variety of spiritual existences is progression, extending beyond the limits of this mundane sphere…Third, that spirits can and do communicate with mortals, and in all cases evince a desire to elevate and advance those they commune with.

Biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) – Co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, Wallace, a naturalist who provided Darwin with his parallel theory before Darwin went public with their two theories, was a hard-core materialist until he began investigating mediums in 1865.  He soon became one of Spiritualism’s greatest missionaries. 

My position is that the phenomena of Spiritualism in their entirety do not require further confirmation.  They are proved quite as well as facts are proved in other sciences.

Sir William Crookes (1832-1919) – A physicist and chemist, he discovered the element thallium and was a pioneer in radioactivity.  He invented the radiometer, the spinthariscope, and a high-vacuum tube that contributed to the discovery of the x-ray. He was knighted in 1897 and served as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.  He set out in 1870 to drive “the worthless residuum of spiritualism” into the “unknown limbo of magic and necromancy.”  However, after thorough investigations of Daniel D. Home and Florence Cook, he changed his views. 

[The phenomena] 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.

Sir William Barrett, FRS (1844-1925) – Professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin for 37 years, he developed a silicon-iron alloy important to the development of the telephone and in construction of transformers.  His research on entoptic vision contributed to the invention of the entoptiscope and a new optometer.  He was knighted in 1912 for his contributions to science.
I am personally convinced that the evidence we have published decidedly demonstrates (1) the existence of a spiritual world, (2) survival after death, and (3) of occasional communication from those who have passed over.

Professor Camille Flammarion (1842-1925) – A world renowned astronomer, Flammarion founded the French Astronomical Society and was known for his study of Mars. He was a pioneer in the use of balloon to study the stars. He investigated psychic phenomena, including mediumship, for more than 50 years.
I do not hesitate to affirm my conviction, based on personal examination of the subject, that any man who declares the phenomena to be impossible is one who speaks without knowing what he is talking about; and, also that any man accustomed to scientific observation – provided that his mind is not biased by preconceived opinions – may acquire a radical and absolute certainty of the reality of the facts alluded to. 

Frederic W. H. Myers, M.A.  (1843-1901) – After graduating from Cambridge in 1864, he became a lecturer in classical literature there while also serving as inspector of schools at Cambridge.  Although not educated as a psychologist, he developed, independent of Freud, a theory of the subliminal self. University of Geneva psychology professor Theordor Flournoy opined that Myers name should be joined to those of Copernicus and Darwin, completing “the triad of geniuses” who most profoundly revolutionized scientific thought.  He was one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research.

I will here briefly state what facts they are which our recorded apparitions, intimations, messages of the departing and the departed, have, to my mind actually proved:  a) In the first place, they prove survival pure and simple; the persistence of the spirit’s life as a structural law of the universe; the inalienable heritage of each several soul; b) …they prove that between the spiritual and the material worlds an avenue of communication does in fact exist; that which we call the dispatch and the receipt of telepathic messages, or the utterance and the answer of prayer and supplication; c)…they prove that the surviving spirit retains, at least in some measure, the memories and the loves of earth…”

Sir Oliver Lodge, D. Sc., FRS  (1851-1940) – Professor of physics at University College in Liverpool, England and later principal at the University of Birmingham, Lodge achieved world fame for his pioneering work in electricity, including the radio and spark plug.  Lodge was knighted in 1902 for his contributions to science. He became interested in psychical research in 1884 and sat extensively with Leonora Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard.

I tell you with all my strength of the conviction which I can muster that we do persist, that people still continue to take an interest in what is going on, that they know far more about things on this earth than we do, and are able from time to time to communicate with us…I do not say it is easy, but it is possible, and I have conversed with my friends just as I can converse with anyone in this audience now.

Professor Charles Richet, M.D., Ph.D. (1850-1909) – Professor of physiology at the University of Paris Medical School, Richet was considered a world authority on nutrition in health and in disease. He won the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his work on allergic reactions. While convinced of the reality of mediumship, he remained publicly agnostic toward survival. 

It seems to me the facts are undeniable.  I am convinced that I have been present at realities.  Certainly I cannot say in what materialization consists.  I am ready to maintain that there is something profoundly mysterious in it which will change from top to bottom our ideas on nature and on life.

Dr. Richard Hodgson (1855-1905) – After earning his M.A. and LL.D at the University of Melbourne, Hodgson moved to England and entered the University of Cambridge as a scholar studying moral sciences.  Upon graduation, he taught poetry and philosophy at University Extension, then the philosophy of Herbert Spenser at Cambridge before becoming a full-time psychical researcher in 1887.  He had hundreds of sittings with Leonora Piper over 18 years.

I had but one object, to discover fraud and trickery. Frankly, I went to Mrs. Piper with Professor James of Harvard University about twelve years ago with the object of unmasking her…I entered the house profoundly materialistic, not believing in the continuance of life after death; today I say I believe.  The truth has been given to me in such a way as to remove from me the possibility of a doubt.

James H. Hyslop, Ph.D., LL.D. (1854-1920) – After receiving his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1887 and his LL.D. from University of Wooster, Hyslop taught philosophy at Lake Forest University, Smith College, and Bucknell University before joining the faculty of Columbia in 1895.  He authored three textbooks, Elements of Logic (1892), Elements of Ethics (1895), and Problems of Philosophy (1905) before becoming a full-time psychical researcher.

Personally, I regard the fact of survival after death as scientifically proved.  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 of proof on the shoulders of the skeptic.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
D. D. Home: Divine Music from a Moustache?

Posted on 20 July 2020, 9:47

In the August 1860 edition of Cornhill Magazine, Robert Bell, a journalist, reported on his attendance at a séance with the famous medium Daniel Dunglas Home.  He wrote of seeing a large hand floating before him.  “Somewhat too eager to satisfy my curiosity, I seized it, felt it very sensibly, but it went out, like air, in my grasp,” Bell explained, going on to report on a floating accordion playing music.  “We listened with suspended breath. The air was wild, and full of strange transitions, with a wall of the most pathetic sweetness running through it.  The execution was no less remarkable for its delicacy than its power.  When the notes swelled in some of the bold passages the sound rolled through the room with an astounding reverberation; then, gently subsiding, sank into a strain of divine tenderness … Our ears, that heard it, had never before been visited by ‘a sound so fine.’ It continued diminishing and diminishing and diminishing, and stretching far away into distance and darkness, until the attenuated thread of sound became so exquisite that it was impossible at last to fix the moment when it ceased.”

Some people thought that Home (pronounced Hume in England, Hoom in Scotland) was a talented musician, but it seems to have been the spirits overshadowing him who deserved the credit.  Sir William Crookes, (below) a world-famous chemist and physicist who discovered the element thallium and was a pioneer in x-ray technology, reported seeing an accordion, its keys untouched by human hands, play beautiful music in the presence of Home on several occasions.  Home would hold the end of the accordion with his fingertips, allowing the instrument to hang.  Apparently, the “psychic force” required for the spirits to play the instrument was transmitted through Home’s body and fingers.


In one of the experiments, Crookes enclosed the accordion in a cage, while Home (below) held the end of it from outside the cage.  “It then commenced to play, at first chords and runs, and afterwards a well-known sweet and plaintive melody, which was executed perfectly in a very beautiful manner,” Crookes reported, mentioning that he had purchased the accordion himself, not allowing Home to handle it before the experiment so that there could be no possibility of a trick or self-playing instrument.


Biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, was present in Crookes’s home at one such experiment.  “The room was well-lighted and I distinctly saw Home’s hand holding the instrument, which moved up and down and played a tune without any visible cause,”  Wallace reported, adding that Home took away his hand and the instrument continued to be played by a “detached hand” that clearly did not belong to Home.

On another occasion, the accordion floated across the room, clearly free of Home.  “A phantom form came from a corner of the room, took an accordion in its hands, and then glided about the room playing the instrument,” Crookes wrote.  “The form was visible to all present for many minutes, Mr. Home also seen at the time.  Coming rather close to a lady who was sitting apart from the rest of the company, she gave a slight cry, upon which [the phantom] vanished.”

According to Wikipedia, magician/debunker James “The Amazing” Randi has a simple explanation for it: Home had a mouth organ hidden in his thick moustache.  Randi apparently knew someone who told him that a harmonica was found among Home’s personal belongings after his death in 1886.  Such evidence!!! 

When I read Randi’s theory, I immediately thought of the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, the author being the late Oliver Sacks.  Perhaps Randi could author a book about Home titled The Man who played Divine Music from his Moustache.

Other skeptical “authorities” – most of them not even born until well after Home’s death – are cited at Wikipedia, one theorizing that Home had a music box tied to his leg, another suggesting that he used hooks and black silk which were not observable in the candlelight of the day to make it appear that the accordion was floating. Still another suggested the semblance of a keyboard concealed on his coat sleeve.  Another suspected an accomplice hidden in the room while playing another accordion.  There are many “might have” or “could have” speculations as to Home’s “conjuring.”

“It is idle to attribute these results to trickery, for I would [point out] that what I relate has not been accomplished at the house of a medium, but in my own house, where preparations have been quite impossible,” Crookes wrote.  “A medium, walking into my dining room, cannot, while seated in one part of my room with a number of persons keenly watching him, by trickery make an accordion play in my own hand when I hold it keys downward, or cause the same accordion to float about the room playing all the time. He cannot introduce machinery which will wave window curtains or pull up Venetian blinds eight feet off, tie a knot in a handkerchief and place it in a far corner of the room, sound notes on a distant piano, cause a card-plate to float about the room, raise a water bottle and tumbler from the table, make a coral necklace rise on end, cause a fan to move about and fan the company, or set in motion a pendulum when enclosed in a glass case firmly cemented to the wall.” 

As Crookes recorded, the phenomena produced by or through Home were not limited to music and luminous hands.  Home is said to have produced (or the spirits produced through him) a variety of phenomena, including levitations, materializations, and philosophical discourses delivered while he was in a trance state.

The most comprehensive account of Home’s mediumship was written by Viscount Adare, the fourth Earl of Dunraven, also known as Windham Wyndham-Quin (1841 – 1926), in an 1870 book titled Experiences in Spiritualism with D. D. Home (available from White Crow Books), which details 78 sittings Adare had with Home beginning in November 1867. In the Introduction of Adare’s book, his father, the third Earl of Dunraven (Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin), an archaeologist and Fellow of the Royal Society, tells of his observations of Home. “To those who are familiar with mesmeric trances, the genuineness of Mr. Home’s is easily admitted,” Dunraven wrote. “To me they are among the most interesting portions of the manifestations which occur through his mediumship.  The change which takes place in him is very striking; he becomes, as it were, a being of a higher type. … At first sight much might appear to be skillful acting, but after having so frequently witnessed these trance states, I am fully convinced of their truthfulness. … That he is possessed by a power or spirit, not his own, and superior to himself, a very little experience will suffice to render manifest.” 

On November 23, 1867, Dunraven recorded that the table in the room began to vibrate and move toward Home It tilted up at an angle of about 30 degrees and the piano moved away from the wall on its own accord.  The floor vibrated strongly and five raps then indicated that the spirits wanted the alphabet.  “You are over anxious, and not sufficiently prayerful,” came the message, suggesting that the spirits were having difficulties. It was followed by a message telling them that in seeking physical phenomena, they are losing sight of God. “It was very remarkable that the indications for the word ‘God’ were made, not by common raps, but by the table giving sudden movements, whilst it was either partially or wholly off the ground,” Dunraven recorded. “At the end it was clearly so, and it made the sign of the cross by moving forward and backward, and from side to side.”

On February 9, 1869, Sacha, Home’s deceased wife, materialized for all to see.  “Her form gradually became apparent to us,” Adare wrote.  “She moved close to Home and kissed him.  She stood beside him against the window intercepting the light as a solid body, and appeared fully as material as Home himself.  No one could have told which was the mortal body and which was the spirit.” 

In another sitting, Home (more likely the spirit talking through him), then began talking about God.  “I cannot remember the exact words,” Adare continued his report, “but the substance of it was, that it was impossible for us to comprehend it; that nearly every man had really in his mind a different idea of God; that whether our conception of Him was as a unity, duality, or a trinity, it could not be of much consequence, provided that we recognized Him and obeyed His laws. He spoke much of the immensity of God, and our almost utter ignorance of Him and His works.”

Crookes reported seeing Home levitated (lifted by spirits) on three separate occasions.  In another experiment, a table was levitated and both Crookes and Wallace, the evolutionist, went to their knees to confirm that the legs were well off the floor.  What Crookes called the “most exciting and satisfactory meeting” with Home took place on April 12, 1871 at his (Crookes’s) home.  One of his guests, Frank Herne, was lifted out of his chair, “floated across the table, and dropped with a crash of pictures and ornaments at the other end of the room.”  After Herne returned to his seat, both he and Charles Williams, another guest,  were lifted by unseen forces and deposited on the table.  There is no mention of this at Wikipedia

At a sitting on June 28, 1871, Home 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 explained that few spirits were capable of communicating at all and said something to the effect that they were experimenting on their side as well.  Crookes noted that voices were sometimes heard in which one invisible being seemed to be instructing another invisible being on how to carry out the levitation.

According to one debunker cited at Wikipedia, the vibrations and moving furniture at the Crookes’s home might best be explained by the fact that there were train tracks not far from his home and that the trains passing by caused the movement. Some of the other “tricks” might be explained by Home having holes in his socks and manipulating objects with his toes.  Wikipedia seems to give more credibility to people who weren’t even alive when Home was than to the intelligent people, like Crookes, Wallace, Adare, and Dunraven, who witnessed the phenomena time and time again. Crookes carried out 29 separate experiments with Home over a three-year period, again, most of them in his own home and under lighted conditions.  Randi would likely explain it by saying that it takes a magician to understand it all and Crookes was a scientist, not a magician. 

Sir David Brewster, a physicist known for his contributions to the optics field, is said to have witnessed Home being levitated.  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, especially with Wikipedia writers.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
10 Lessons Not Offered in Sunday School or Science 101

Posted on 06 July 2020, 10:13

Upon discovering my book, The Afterlife Revealed, at an Internet bookseller, a long-lost friend sent an email to me, informing me that his wife was dying and that he was looking for a good book about dying and the afterlife when he came upon my book.  He asked what I could possibly “reveal” to him about the afterlife that his brand of Christianity hadn’t already offered him.  He also asked about the sources of the “revelations” in my book. I responded by explaining that the sources included psychical research and afterlife studies in mediumship, near-death experiences, past-life recollections, instrumental transcommunication, and various other paranormal phenomena over the years.  After a little thought, I boiled it all down to 10 lessons, none of which I was taught in my Catholic catechism classes or in college science courses.  They are:

1. Faith vs. Conviction:  There is compelling evidence that consciousness survives death.

All I ever got in my catechism lessons relative to evidence are the Bible and miracles performed by a number of church saints that defied natural law.  While some of those miracles really impressed me and provided a foundation for a belief in paranormal phenomena, belief was still more a matter of faith than it was conviction based on evidence.  My science classes ignored the subject matter and left the student with a nihilistic worldview, but psychical research and related afterlife studies provided some solid evidence and filled in the blanks left by orthodox religion and mainstream science while also providing some explanations for the miracles taught by the Church. 
2. The God Factor: Proof of God is not necessary to accept evidence that consciousness survives death.

Everything I was taught in religion classes began with the a priori necessity to accept the existence of an anthropomorphic God, and everything I heard from the atheistic side began with debunking the existence of that same God.  The survival of consciousness, or afterlife, issue was always secondary and contingent upon proof of God. Not until I began studying psychical research did I realize that it is not necessary to have proof of God before examining and accepting the evidence for survival.  One can accept survival and infer some kind of Creator or Higher Intelligence without believing in a humanlike God or subscribing to the whole “worship” side of religions.  To put it another way, the evidence for survival leads to God, not the other way around.

3. No Humdrum Heaven:  The Afterlife is much more dynamic than that taught by religions. 

Religions teach a Heaven in which we don’t do much more than praise God 24-7 while strumming harps and floating around on clouds or suffering torment in a pit of fire and brimstone. The Catholic Church teaches a middle ground in Purgatory, but it is just as bad as Hell, though not eternal.  Psychical research tells us that there are many planes, spheres, dimensions, levels of vibration, whatever name be given to them, and that they are much more dynamic than the afterlife offered by religions.  As Jesus said, there are “many mansions” in his Father’s house. At the most populous level, the spirit world is much like our earth world, or, perhaps more accurately, the earth world is a replica of the spirit world to some extent.  It is a thought world, but it is much more real than the physical world.

4. Spirit Body:  We have a spiritual body, the outer rim of which is called the aura.

Different names are given to it – etheric body, astral body, celestial body, odic body, radiant body, ghost, double, phantom, subtle body, perispirit – and this body is joined to the physical body by a “silver cord,” an astral umbilical cord, and threads, which are severed at death.  The so-called aura, the outer edge of this spirit body, is an “electrical” field that connects us with the larger life. At the time of death, the silver cord is severed after the threads slowly break and the body emits a vaporish or misty substance, sometimes called soul mist, that forms a spirit body above the physical body.  The personality continues to exist in that body at a different vibration in a different dimension of reality.

5. Hades:  There is an adjustment period immediately after death.

There is a transition stage immediately following physical death in which we shed earthly habits and adapt to the spiritual environment before experiencing what has been called the “second death.” This is a staging area of sorts where the soul must adjust its vibrations to the spirit world. There may be great confusion in Hades, a “fire of the mind,” so to speak, by materialistic or spiritually-challenged souls; hence the belief by some religions that Hades is another name for Hell. It is said that even Jesus needed a period of adjustment.  Thus, he 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.” 

6. Awakening:  We awaken on the Other Side with the degree of consciousness at which we left the material world.

Many religions would have us believe that we become all-knowing angels of some kind upon entering the spirit world, but indications are that we awaken on the Other Side with the same consciousness we had as we departed the material life.  Enlightened souls awaken quickly, while more average souls awaken in something of a stupor for a period time and more depraved souls are “earthbound,” not even realizing they are dead, as if in a dream world. The “awakening” depends on the degree of spiritual consciousness achieved during the earth life. While time takes on a different meaning there, it may take just a few days in earth time for the developed soul but hundreds of years in earth time for the undeveloped soul to fully awaken. 

7. Judgment:  There is no Judgment Day, per se.  We judge ourselves.

In my catechism classes, I was taught that I could lead a virtuous life, but then make one big mistake, i.e., sin, before death and that would result in spending eternity in Hell.  On the other hand, I could lead a life of sin, then repent on my deathbed and eventually make it to Heaven after spending a few-hundred years in Purgatory.  However, psychical research and afterlife studies suggest that we judge ourselves and settle in at a level based on what has been called a “moral specific gravity” – which is a melding of all our positive and negative moral acts during our lifetime. We can’t cheat in judging ourselves because we cannot adapt to a level in the larger life for which we are not prepared. 

8. Reunion: There is a reunion with departed loved ones and friends.

There have been countless reports coming to us through credible mediumship and near-death studies indicating that we are greeted on the Other Side by deceased loved ones and that there is a happy reunion of some kind before one of those loved ones or an independent spirit takes us under his or her “wing” and guides us, explaining how things work in that realm, while also giving us a tour of the afterlife environment and then guiding us in further development there. 

9.  Rebirth: After the adjustment period, we settle in and spiritually evolve from there.

Whether reincarnation involves a rebirth of the total personality over many lifetimes or something much more complex in which fragments of the soul are reborn as the “higher self” remains in the spirit world in a Group Soul is unclear and apparently beyond human comprehension, but one way or the other there is a spiritual evolution taking place in which the soul learns to deal with adversity and gradually perfects itself, moving to higher and higher realms.   

10. True Oneness:  We retain our individuality as we spiritually evolve.

The ultimate, according to some beliefs, is the attainment of Nirvana, at which all souls become One with the Creator. While this implies a loss of individuality, various advanced spirits have informed us that it is just the opposite – we become more of an individual.  We develop latent gifts, acquire greater knowledge, become stronger in character, and never lose ourselves.  Complete perfection is never attained, although there is a constant striving toward it.  At some point, we succeed in finding ourselves, and in the process we find greater unity with others. “You do not lose your individuality in a sea of greater consciousness, but that depth of the ocean becomes included in your individuality,” the group soul called Silver Birch explained. 

As I tried to explain in the book and to my long-lost friend, by going beyond the self-imposed limits of orthodox religion and mainstream science, we can find a much more logical, more sensible, more inviting environment – one that can be reconciled with a just and loving Creator, and a Divine Plan not based on fear. At the same time, the basic tenets of the Bible and other good books – Do unto others…, Love thy neighbor…, and You reap what you sow…remain the guiding principles in the latest revelations.

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

His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Next blog post: July 20


Read comments or post one of your own
The Mystery of Soul Mist Unsolved

Posted on 22 June 2020, 9:38

In his 2010 book, Glimpses of Eternity, Raymond Moody, M. D., Ph.D., who is known primarily for his pioneering work in near-death experiences, mentions a strange mist having been observed at deathbeds.  “Some say that it looks like smoke, while others say it is as subtle as steam,” Moody explains.  “Sometimes it seems to have a human shape.  Whatever the case, it usually drifts upward and always disappears fairly quickly.”

A hospice psychologist is quoted by Moody as saying that the misty clouds which form above the head or chest seem to have an electrical component to them. Moody also tells of a nurse seeing a mist rising from many patients as they die, including her father, with whom she saw it emanate from his chest “as if off a still river,” then hovering for a few seconds before dissipating.

Such a phenomenon can be observed in the accompanying photo which was taken by the dying man’s wife, Beverly, on January 17, 2009, in Prescott, Arizona just five minutes after her husband, Ronald, passed. For privacy reasons, Beverly prefers not to give her surname.  She provided the information to Bob Krieckhaus, who passed it on to me with Beverly’s consent. Beverly told Bob that neither she nor the hospice helpers saw the twisting semi-translucent “smoke” at the time.  The purpose of the photo was to capture the cat, which appeared to have tears in its eyes. The misty vapor was not noticed until the photo was printed. (See below.)


In their 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.

The Fenwicks quote a woman named Penny Bilcliffe, who was present when her sister died:  “I saw a fast-moving ‘Will ‘o the Wisp’ appear to leave her body by the side of her mouth on the right.  The shock and the beauty of it made me gasp.  It appeared like a fluid or gaseous diamond, pristine, sparkly, and pure, akin to the view from above of an eddy in the clearest pool you can imagine…It moved rapidly upwards and was gone.”

Such misty vapors 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.”

Laubscher further wrote that these caregivers, some of whom were apparently clairvoyant, reported seeing a ribbon-like cord stretching from the back of the phantom’s head to the body below and that the phantom would begin to glow as it was fully formed.

“They noticed that some were more luminous than others and there was a light all around the outline of the [phantom], which I could only compare to a neon tube,” Laubscher added, going on to say that as the phantom righted itself the connecting cord thinned out as if it was fraying away.  Sometimes these clairvoyant caregivers would report joyous faces of other deceased gathering around to welcome the person to the spirit world before the “silver cord” was severed and the visions ceased.

As Laubscher came to understand it, the vaporous material has the same makeup as ectoplasm, (below) 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.”


Beginning in 1840, Baron Karl von Reichenbach, a German chemist,  carried out research with an invisible energy he associated with a number of “sensitives” – people who today might be called clairvoyants or clairsensients, although he did not recognize it as being spirit related.  He called it odic force, or just od or odyle.  Some scientists have likened Reichenbach’s odic force 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, and the magnetic fluid of Mesmer, while others, like Laubscher, have concluded that it is the same “life force” referred to as ectoplasm, or teleplasm, by researchers investigating the physical phenomena of mediums.

Od might be best described as a “mostly” invisible energy field often associated today with the human aura and with holistic healing. It is believed to somehow interact with the physical body through what are called the chakras, the vital energy centers in the spirit body, to govern higher consciousness and spiritual awakening.

When Judge John Edmonds, of the New York Supreme Court, investigated mediums,  he asked a communicating “spirit” for an explanation as to what the “forces” involved in various manifestations were all about. “It is an electricity, but more perfected than that which you are familiar, that which you term electricity,” the communicating spirit responded, telling Edmonds that his knowledge of nature was too imperfect to permit him to understand the phenomena.  He was referred by the communicating spirit to Reichenbach’s Dynamics of Magnetism for a better grasp of the subject.  There, Edmonds read about odic force, Reichenbach describing it in his book as “an exceeding subtle fluid, existing with magnetism and electricity, found in fire and heat, and produced in the human body by the chemical action of respiration and digestion and decomposition, and issuing from the body in the shape of a pale flame, with sparks, and smoke, and material in its nature, though so much sublimated as to be visible only to persons of a peculiar vision.”

During the 1870s, William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who developed mediumisitic abilities, carried out various experiments.  In one such experiment, with Dr. Stanhope Speer, his good friend, and several others in attendance, the group witnessed a cloud of luminous smoke, very phosphorus like, that very much alarmed them.  The next night, Moses asked the controlling spirit, apparently Mentor, one of Imperator’s band of 49 spirits, what it was all about. As set forth by researcher Ernest Bozzano in The Annals of Psychical Research, Feb. 1905 issue, the following dialogue too place:

Mentor: “We are scarcely able to write. The shock has destroyed your passivity. It was an accident. The envelope in which is contained the substance which we gather from the bodies of the sitters was accidentally destroyed, and hence the escape into outer air, and the smoke which terrified you. It was owing to a new operator (spirit operator) being engaged on the experiment. We regret the shock to you.”

Moses: “I was extremely alarmed. It was just like phosphorus.”
Mentor: “No, but similar. We told you when first we began to make the lights that they were attended with some risk; and that with unfavourable conditions they would be smoky and of a reddish yellow hue.”
Moses: “Yes, I know. But not that they would make a smoke and scene like that.”
Mentor: “Nor would they, save by accident. The envelope was destroyed by mischance, and the substance which we had gathered escaped.”
Moses: “What substance?”
Mentor:  “That which we draw from the bodily organisms of the sitters. We had a large supply, seeing that neither of you had sustained any drain of late.”
Moses: “You draw it from our bodies – from all?”:
Mentor:  “From both of you. You are both helpful in this, both. But not from all people. From some the substance cannot be safely drawn, lest we diminish the life principle too much.”
Moses: “Robust men give it off?”
Mentor: “Yes, in greater proportion. It is the sudden loss of it and the shock that so startled you that caused the feeling of weakness and depression.”
Moses: “It seemed to come from the side of the table.”
Mentor: “From the darkened space between the sitters. We gathered it between you in the midst. Could you have seen with spirit eyes you would have discovered threads of light, joined to your bodies and leading to the space where the substance was being collected. These lines of light were ducts leading to our receptacle.”
Moses: “From what part of my body?”
Mentor: “From many; from the nerve centers and from the spine.”
Moses: “What is this substance?”
Mentor: “In simple words, it is that which give to your bodies vitality and energy. It is the life principle.”
Moses: “Very like sublimated phosphorus?”
Mentor: “No body that does not contain a large portion of what you call phosphorus is serviceable to us for objective manifestations. This is invariable. There are other qualities of which you do not know, and which not all spirits can tell, but this is invariable in mediums for physical manifestations.”

On another occasion, Imperator communicated: “We have a higher form of what is known to you as electricity, and it is by that means we are enabled to manifest, and that Mentor shows his globe of light. He brings with him the nucleus, as we told you.”

On August 10, 1873, Dr. Speer recorded that Mentor said he would show his hand. “A large, very bright light then came up as before, casting a great reflection on the oilcloth, came up as before in front of me; inside of it appeared the hand of Mentor, as distinct as it can well be conceived. ‘You see! You see!’ said he, ‘that is my hand; now I move my fingers,’ and he continued to move his fingers about freely, just in front of my face. I thanked him for his consideration.”

At a sitting on September 11, 1873, Mrs. Speer recorded: “... the next evening we sat again in perfect darkness, which Mentor took advantage of, as he showed lights almost as soon as we were seated. He then controlled the medium (Moses), talking to us about the lights as he showed them. At first they were very small. This, he said, was the nucleus of light he had brought with him, a small amount of what we should call electricity. This nucleus lasted all the time, and from the circle he gathered more light around it, and kept it alive by contact with the medium. At one time, the light was as bright as a torch. Mentor moved it about all over the table and above our heads with the greatest rapidity.”

All that and much more, but mainstream science has shown no interest in odic force,  ectoplasm, or soul mist, or the possibility that they are one and the same life principle. 

Note: This subject was earlier dealt with in my blog posts of October 4, 2010 and June 11, 2012, available in the archives at left.  Numerous readers have left comments of similar experiences at the 4 October blog.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Next blog post:  July 6

Read comments or post one of your own
Getting to the Root Cause of America’s Madness

Posted on 08 June 2020, 8:29

In a talk given to a church group on June 1, a well-known American politician proposed that police could cut down on killings by shooting the bad guy in the leg rather than in the upper body.  Such a comment suggests that the politician has watched too many cowboy movies and has no real experience with guns.  He might as well have suggested that the cop shoot the weapon out of the bad guy’s hand.  Anyone with any marksmanship training knows that things are not nearly so easy as Hollywood makes them out to be. 

If some madman is rushing toward you with a knife, you don’t have time to line up your target in the sights of the gun and gently “squeeze” the trigger.  If you were to shoot for the legs, you would likely, in your haste, jerk the trigger and miss the leg completely.  To be accurate, you’d want to point the gun at the madman’s center, being his manhood area.  In that case, jerking the trigger might result in a shot in the leg. Then again, you might actually hit his manhood or miss him completely.  I wouldn’t bet on either Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid hitting the legs more than 50 percent of the time under rushed conditions at 10 paces. 

Ideally, or idealistically, we don’t want to kill anybody, and nobody should be toting a gun, but practically, or pragmatically, such inaction may very well result in more deaths, violence or harm in the long run than shooting the bad guy in the heart and killing him. Idealism or Pragmatism?  Therein seems to be the major issue in our political wars. As I see it, the entertainment and advertising industries are responsible for much of the current chaos in the United States and in the world by painting a much too idealistic picture of the “real” world – a world, according to them, of great comforts, luxuries, and hedonistic pleasures. Envy and greed kick in and then many who aspire to such unreality become frustrated and angry when they are unable to achieve the Utopian dream, which both Hollywood and Madison Avenue say they deserve.

I don’t know how many times in recent years I’ve heard the “You deserve it” enticement. I’ll sometimes ask the person what I’ve done to deserve it, but most people seem to agree that they deserve anything they can get, whether or not they’ve put any effort into earning it.  I may very well be wrong, but I see this as the mindset of many young people.   

Looking for votes and power, politicians respond to the demands for comforts, luxuries,  and hedonistic pleasures with entitlement programs.  The entitlements often approach or exceed the incomes of working people, thereby playing havoc with the work ethic of the masses.  A new government comes in and cuts back on the “free stuff” in hopes of restoring the work ethic and increasing productivity. Frustration and anger reach a boiling point, fears surface, the media polarizes and sensationalizes the issues which are otherwise in various shades of gray, protests begin, and soon there is complete mayhem. 

Renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl referred to it as “mass neurotic syndrome” – the result of an “existential vacuum,” a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness in their lives. 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.

“Neither a person nor a nation can exist without some higher idea,” wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the renowned author of Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.  “And there is only one higher idea on earth, and it is the idea of the immortality of the human soul, for all other ‘higher’ ideas of life by which humans might live derive from that idea alone.”

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.” 

William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, put it this way:  “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 gilding vanish.”

I like the way Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding (Sir Hugh Dowding, 1882 - 1970), put it in his 1960 book, God’s Magic.  “The problem of world chaos is linked very closely with the chaos in the mind of humanity,” offered Dowding, considered the man most responsible for Great Britain’s victory in the 1940 Battle of Britain during World War II.  “Man insists on looking outward for causes instead of looking inward.  As with the individual, so with a nation.  An individual who has an unquiet spirit will have an unquiet environment.”

If I am interpreting Frankl, Dostoyevsky, Jung, James, Dowding and other great thinkers correctly, the conscious self wants the comforts, luxuries, and hedonistic pleasures of Hollywood and Madison Avenue, but the subconscious (the soul) wants peace of mind and enlightenment, and those things come 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 media.  It is much easier for them to say that people are angry about social or economic conditions, than to say they are in existential despair.  If they suggest that people are in such despair, they have to explain the reason for the despair. It would not be politically, journalistically or scientifically proper to say that the pursuit of unreasonable comforts, luxuries, and pleasures as promoted by Hollywood and Madison Avenue have detracted from their spiritual values and pursuits and that they therefore have lost sight of the larger life.  It is so much simpler to blame it on anger over economic deprivations and social injustices than to explain the deeper underlying causes. 

If politicians and journalists had the wisdom and courage to tackle the existential issues, they’d suffer relentless attacks from people like Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, who recently said that “belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier.”  Some of our more right-wing politicians now take some pride in mentioning God, but their fundamentalist beliefs are in shallow, murky waters and therefore not very persuasive to rational people.  They only add fuel to the fire. 

I don’t know what the answer is as long as the Hollywood and Madison Avenue influences continue to encourage young malleable minds to pursue unreasonable comforts, luxuries, and hedonistic pleasures while telling them that they deserve them and need not apply any effort in achieving them.  Perhaps that is what the pandemic is all about – helping them to lower their expectations. 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Next blog post:  June 22






Read comments or post one of your own
Before Huxley & Seth:  “The Master”

Posted on 25 May 2020, 15:24

It was in early 1897 that George Wright, then living in Titusville, Pennsylvania and teaching chemistry at nearby Meadville High School, began studying paranormal phenomena by sitting in mediumship circles. On November 6, 1897, George wrote to his brother, Jay: “… I have seen enough and heard enough and felt enough to not only make me believe in the continuity of life and conscious existence after the change you call death, but to make me know its reality and to demonstrate to me the fact that communication can and does take place between those who have experienced this change and those who have not.” 

After a year or two, George began displaying mediumistic abilities of his own – abilities which would soon lead to some profound teachings from an apparently advanced spirit through George’s hand while he was in a trance state. In the absence of any identifying name, the advanced spirit was referred to initially as the “Master-Mind” and later simply as the “Master.”  The teachings were compiled between 1900 and 1912 in an unpublished green leather journal referred to as “The Green Book.” It was not until some 60 years later that Theon Wright, George’s son, told the story of his father and the teachings in a 1970 book, The Open Door.

Michael Prescott, at his popular blog, mentioned the book in his April 29 post, stating that Paul Smith, has done a reconstruction of The Green Book (Reconstructing the Green Book)

“What I find particularly interesting is that the metaphysical teaching of the ‘Master,’ as given in the Green Book, precedes by decades any generally accessible comparative teaching in the West,” Smith commented in an email to me, mentioning that it closely parallels Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy, which was published more than 30 years after the last of George Wright’s scripts.  Others have suggested it resembles the teachings of Seth, which began around the time The Open Door was published. However, it would be more proper to say that the Seth teachings resemble the teachings of the Master.

Author Theon Wright served as a colonel in the U.S. Army during World War II and later as an executive for several corporations. His best-selling book appears to have been Rape In Paradise, a true story of mistreatment of native Hawaiians. “We now have a generation coming into active participation in life and world affairs with little or no faith in what has been learned in the past, and even less for the future,” Theon Wright offers in the first chapter. “Religion and philosophy have defaulted, and scientific materialism has failed to fill the void.  And yet the question persists: what happens to us when we die?”  He says that the book is an effort to help fill the void and explains that it is a narrative of experiments carried on by three generations of his family, seeking to establish communication between the living and the dead. 

While he was in a trance state or even while sleeping, messages would come through George Wright’s hand in peculiar handwriting.  He explained that he experienced being something apart from his body. “My body there on the chair is writing words as fast I formulate the idea, but it is only a machine obeying my will, and if it has consciousness I know nothing about it,” he recorded, further explaining that this separate consciousness was devoid of any element of space and that his ordinary consciousness seemed “cramped and absurd” compared with this broader consciousness. Many of the things he wrote about were unfamiliar to him and not in his style of writing.  In some cases, the handwriting was entirely different.

Before George married Nella Stowell on August 19, 1900, after a courtship of less than a month, he received an appointment as an instructor in chemistry at Allegheny College in Meadville.  Nella was quite surprised to find that the “young professor” was a medium, but she adapted quickly and became the primary historian of all that took place in the family circle, which included George and Jay’s parents, while maintaining The Green Book. 

Until Nella joined the family circle, the phenomena had been primarily physical and evidential, including voices and floating objects produced by lower-level spirits. However, Nella’s presence apparently brought some higher spirit links to the circle and during September 1900, after members of the circle had joined hands, a deep voice, identified as Lone Feather, an Indian who was one of a band of spirits who had been communicating with the circle members in the preceding months, informed them that someone new was there to provide “knowledge.” This new spirit was identified as “Akasta,” said to be one of Nella’s guides, and it was explained that Akasta would be an intermediary for a more advanced spirit, one at too high a vibration to directly communicate with the circle.  The circle member began referring to “him” simply as the “Master.” (The pronoun “he” is given to the advanced entity for language simplification.)

The Master explained that he was no “Savior of Man,” but simply a friend, brother, and “humble tool,” attempting to help mankind understand the bigger picture. He was drawn to them because his individualization was similar to theirs.  His teachings, he said, embodied the messages of the Master-Mind called Jesus, the Christ – “not the man, nor the God that has been created by churches for worship – but the Intelligence which manifested through Jesus, and on account of which received the reputation of a God.”

The first message from the Master extended to about a thousand words, and began: “My children, Back of and beyond the Universe you know, permeating and transcending it, there exists an Underlying Reality, the nature of which you cannot conceive or express in terms of your ordinary everyday experiences or language. It is a Cosmic Consciousness that is aware of its own Being.  It is intelligent, universal, integral in its essence and in its manifestations.  It is coherent, indivisible, and a complete Whole that expresses its potentialities in a diversity of individual manifestations….

“And in your functioning on this plane and these levels of manifestations, you gain wider and wider experience, express more and more the potentialities inherent in your particular individualization of the Underlying Reality, and thus by your specialized activity, you enrich the Whole and participate in its unfoldment …..”

The Master explained that progress toward self-realization and fulfillment is represented by different planes of development, “from the crudest, densest physical expressions through graduated and overlapping levels of consciousness to the highest spiritual individualizations.”  He further explained that on the higher levels, consciousness becomes so expanded and merged that it approaches unification with the Universal Self, the Cosmic Consciousness of the Underlying Reality. The physical universe, he said, comprises the lower, denser levels of manifestation.

The Master further communicated that below the physical plane is a sub-material world in which Cosmic Consciousness first appears under conditions that are difficult for us to comprehend because they are outside the scope of our experience.  Similarly, there is a “world” of consciousness and manifestations above our plane of existence.  He referred to it as the “Psychic Universe,” the next step in our progress and unfoldment, adding that it is superimposed upon the physical world, interpenetrating and overlapping it. It is keyed to rates of vibration and dimensions which few in the physical world can perceive.

“The condition that you know as consciousness is one of the personal attributes that man possesses while passing through a human experience,” the Master said.  “It is that which measures limitations, making everything finite and commensurable. Now I, who am outside of consciousness, must become conscious whenever I take upon myself the conditions of limitations, and while manifesting through an instrument (a medium) I am personally conscious in the ordinary sense.”  He added that normally he exists in a hyperconscious state, which bears the same relation to the conscious that the infinite does to the finite.”

The realization of “Oneness,” he continued, is the highest form of hyperconsciousness, or universal self-realization.  Nevertheless, he added, the individual spirit continues to exist whenever there is spirit activity along the particular line of their individualization.

While George and Nella moved from Pennsylvania to California, Nevada, and then Hawaii, the messages continued during their evening hours.  Upon finding that others showed no interest in the messages, they continued for their own self-knowledge.  There was apparently no thought given to making the contents of the Green Book into a published book until Theon visited his mother at her home in Honolulu in 1946, following the war and the death of his father in 1944. 

The Master further communicated that souls on the psychic plane are entities as real and as positive as the humans they meet in everyday life. “These souls have the power of exerting force in the form of influence, and can direct it upon either mind or body.  They have the power of penetrating and occupying your bodies at the same time as the permanent soul that is you.”  While much positive influence comes from them, there are “undesirable influences,” which can be overcome when the strongest self-assertion is maintained.  Other teachings of the Master:

Truth:  “As there are different degrees of knowledge, so are there different degrees of truth, different grades of steps in the approach to the Underlying Reality.”

Discord: “Discord always arises out of the attempt to make others see the truth as you see it before they are ready for it.”

Good Works: “The purpose of activity lies not in the accomplishment, but in the process itself.”

Obstructions: “Tonight I will tell you of the three chief fetters to development.  These fetters are Fear, Doubt, and Hate.”

Fear: “Fear is the shrinking of the ego from all that is objective, a terror lest in some way its individuality be lost or merged into the universe, when in reality such merging would not be a loss but a vast gain.”

Christ: “Christ’s mission, as symbolized by the Cross, was one of service to humanity, a service that tried to unite the severed bonds that once linked the inhabitants of the Earth in peace and love.”

Evolution: “When we view the process of Being in the light of future enfoldment and relate the ultimate to the process in the light of cause under the domain of Time, we call it ‘evolution.’ When the ultimate is looked upon as the effect, of the process of Being and Becoming, or better, the manifestational activity, we call this ‘involution’.”

Other Realms: “It is difficult to convey to your minds any idea of the conditions on the other plane, simply because there are no conditions as you know them.”

Warnings: “Our activity is in the realm of the abstract.  We think and act in broader and more general terms than those which enter into your limited and finite lives; thus, we cannot give you the specific information you seek, because we ourselves do not know in detail the facts of your concrete and material environment.”

Ebb & Flow: “The whole universe is one vast and mighty tide, whose ebb and flow marks cycles as it does seconds. And there is associated with this ebb and flow an attractive force that seems to draw things together, while an apparently repellent force seems to drive them apart.”

Repulsion:  “In its actual nature, so-called repulsion is only another form of attraction – the attraction that draws away toward something else.”

There is so much more in the way of teachings offered in the book, teachings which appeal to reason and are consistent with other teachings coming to us from the spirit world over the last two centuries. And yet, they were and are still buried away and ignored while Harry Potter type books become best sellers.  It is very strange. 

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
Scientists Who Don’t Know That Earth Exists

Posted on 11 May 2020, 9:28

When it comes to the subject of life after death, some people are content to shrug it off and flippantly comment, “Well, we’ll all know some day, won’t we?”  My response to that is, “Maybe not as soon as you think.” 

As discussed in my book, The Afterlife Revealed,  there have been numerous messages and signs from the spirit world indicating that many spirits are slow in recognizing that they are “dead,” some floundering in an “earthbound” stupor for a long time, however time is measured in that apparently low realm. This phenomenon was popularized in the hit 1999 movie, The Sixth Sense, when the Bruce Willis character apparently didn’t know he had died.

A somewhat different twist on afterlife awareness is offered in a 1954 book, Through the Psychic Door, by Dr. Frederic H. Wood, a professional musician and composer, who heard from a number of departed souls in the afterlife through the mediumship of a woman given the pseudonym Rosemary (to protect her privacy). In one message, around 1950, Wood’s deceased brother Dennis, who had died in 1912, told Frederic that after he (Frederic) dies and joins him in the spirit world that he is going to arrange for him to give a lecture to a group of scientists on his side about the reality of the earth world.  Dennis explained that many scientists on his side do not believe that there is such a place as Earth.  Apparently, these are the same scientists who refused to believe in a spirit world when they were in their physical bodies. 

Whether or not Dennis Wood was jesting is not clear, but it does seem clear from many messages coming from the spirit world that the consciousness we awaken with on that side is based on the spiritual consciousness we take with us from the physical world.  In effect, we continue in the larger world with the same beliefs we left this world with, or, otherwise stated, perhaps with the same open- or closed-mindedness we leave the physical world with.

Allan Kardec, the distinguished 19th Century French educator and psychical researcher, likened the “earthbound” condition to somnambulism, as in sleepwalking, when the somnambulist thinks he is awake.  “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,” Kardec explained. “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.”

Silver Birch, the spirit entity who spoke through the entranced Maurice Barbanell said the same thing.  “The higher your consciousness, the less the need for adjustment,” he communicated.  “You must always remember that ours is a mind world, a spirit world where consciousness is king.  The mind is enthroned and mind rules.  What mind dictates is reality.” Silver Birch added 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. “In the case of the [spiritually] undeveloped person, the etheric body can linger for a long time in the neighborhood of its outer disintegrating shell because the pull of the soul is not potent and the material aspect is,” we read in Death: The Great Adventure. “Where the person is advanced, and therefore detached in his thinking from the physical plane, the dissolution of the vital body can be exceedingly rapid.”

As set forth in No Death: God’s Other Door, Edgar Cayce, the “sleeping prophet,” said that “many an individual has remained in that called death for what ye call years without realizing it was dead!”  Cayce further explained that the “entity” becomes conscious gradually and that this is contingent upon “how great are the appetites and desires of a physical body.”

One of the leading psychical investigators in the United States during the early part of the 20th Century was Carl A. Wickland, M.D., whose wife was a trance medium.  Wickland recorded the information coming from the spirit world through his wife for some 40 years.  “In the case of the open-minded, unbiased individual there is no protracted death sleep, for as transition from the physical draws near he will often discern the presence of waiting friends from the Unseen, bidding him welcome into the new life…,”  Wickland wrote, going on to state that others may awaken from the death sleep entirely oblivious of their transition and remain in such oblivion for many years as “vagabond spirits.”

Much more recently, in his 2013 book, To Die For, physicist James Beichler concludes that when mind is much more evolved than consciousness, those making the transition from this life to the larger life may be faced with a very big gap, thus encountering “boarding” problems.  He opines that an enlightened person would merge with less difficulty into his or her new state of being. “In such a case where mind – one rich in rational thinking – significantly exceeds (spiritual) consciousness, the mind might be “stuck” in its four-dimensional reality and not even realize that the body is dead,” he adds. Or this “handicapped mind,” still expecting input from the five senses, might experience a total blackness or “nothingness” because of the lack of consciousness.

Beichler’s model explains many of the characteristics and properties of the near-death experience. For example, noting that not all experiencers undergo a past-life review, he concludes that those who have a highly-developed consciousness – one that has kept pace with the development of the mind – may not need a life review as they probably reviewed their lives when alive in the flesh.  At the other extreme, there are those not advanced enough in their conscious evolution to appreciate a life review, and still others who may not accept a life review because they deny their death and sense nothing at all.  “In other words, people’s minds seize upon the most familiar surroundings when they enter the new environment of the five-dimensional universe, but can still reject the experience completely depending upon their mind set and mental priorities at the time of death,” Beichler states.

If I am interpreting various metaphysical teachings correctly, there are “magnetic currents” keeping the individual in the earthbound condition. These currents should not be confused with the so-called silver cord, the connecting link between the physical body and the spirit body.  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.

But back to the Wood brothers.  Dennis cautioned Frederic about word tests, pointing out that Lodge, who died in 1940, had, while alive, arranged to communicate a secret word after his death in such a way that the recipient would know that he had survived death.  However, it was apparently unsuccessful.  “Nothing passes so quickly from the memory on This Side as the form and construction of mere word-phrases!” Dennis communicated, further explaining what many others have said, that theirs is a thought world, one in which ideas, not words, are communicated. “Lodge is very sorry, now, that he chose that particular form of test. It is not easy or natural for us to communicate with your side in this way.”

The bottom line here seems to be that the more you come to understand about the spirit world and spiritual matters in this life, the better off you will be when you first enter that life, assuming you lived in accordance with such enlightenment.  If nothing else, you will understand that you are no longer in the physical world, and you will understand that there really is an earth world.     

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
Where is God in the Pandemic?

Posted on 27 April 2020, 8:29

The pandemic has ignited another battle between the philistines of atheism and those of evangelical religions.  The atheists – more properly, the nihilists – see the God of religion as a mad puppeteer, amusing “himself” by pulling strings and pitting man against nature.  These nihilists ask the evangelicals, “Where is your great god now?”  “Why is ‘he’ permitting so many people to die?”  “What good is such a god if ‘he’ can’t protect you from such hardships?”  Indications are that most of these nihilists are former religionists who left their faith because they could never find answers to those questions.  They never looked outside of orthodox religions.

The evangelicals respond to the nihilists by saying that God’s ways are not understood by man, that adversity is necessary for us to learn and earn a place in heaven, that we always come out of such adversity better than we were before it, even if there is a price to pay. That’s just the way it is.  The nihilists, expecting a life of hedonistic pleasures with absolutely no adversity, don’t buy it, and the battle goes on. The evangelicals add fuel to the fire by constantly using the “W” word – worship, suggesting that their God is like some narcissistic king of ancient days, requiring constant praise and adoration while rewarding only those who totally idolize him. 

I’ve heard or read about a number of such exchanges over the past two weeks, the latest coming from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was quoted as saying, “The number is down because we brought the number down.  God did not do that.  Faith did not do that.  Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that…That’s how it works.  It’s math…”  Meanwhile, the evangelicals protested hither and thither over not being able to gather together in worship services. 

During my youth, I attended obligatory Catholic mass every Sunday out of fear that if I didn’t and died before I could confess my sins that I would spend eternity in hell.  Of course, the fact that my mother expected me to attend with her was also a factor.  I recall watching the priest bowing, kneeling, petitioning, and praising God while wondering why such a benevolent and loving God would condone such pagan-like ceremonies and demand such adoration. It never made sense to me.

At some point, after my emancipation, I tried a few Protestant churches, but they used the “W” word more than the Catholics did and that turned me away from them.  Moreover, they stressed “faith” more than “works” and had no middle ground between heaven and hell, as did the Catholics. It made absolutely no sense to me that salvation would depend on what we believed or whom we accepted as God rather than how we lived our lives. Nor did it make sense that we would be judged either righteous or wicked after death, when nearly everyone seemed to be in a gray zone between the black and white of those extremes. 

I was looking for something more than a God who wanted to be worshipped incessantly. I was looking for evidence of a dynamic eternal life, not one in which we strum harps and float around on clouds for eternity, praising God twenty-four-seven.  If there is a God or Being of some kind overseeing it all, great. If it’s Jesus, well, that’s even greater. From what I had learned from the churches, he seemed like somebody I could look up to and be further taught by. However,  the Christian Bible tells us to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:25:33)  It doesn’t say to first look for God and then look for his kingdom. No doubt the fundamentalists can come up with their own interpretation of that, just as they can come up with a broader definition of the word “worship” than the one I and so many others give to it.   

The Catholic Church did something for me, however, that I don’t think the Protestant churches would have done had I stayed with them long enough.  It introduced me to the more mystical side of religion – apparitions, levitations, healings, and other miraculous events that defied natural law. Many of them seemed to go well beyond delusional minds and the parameters of science.  While I couldn’t accept the worship part of what the Church had to offer, the miracles provided a link to the mystical and eventually to psychical research where I got many answers. At some point in my early pursuit, I began to realize that I shouldn’t be searching for God but for the survival of consciousness at death. 

Proof of God, if there can be such proof, does not necessarily mean proof of an afterlife.  On the other hand, evidence of survival does suggest a God of some kind, perhaps not an anthropomorphic (humanlike) one, but a creative force or intelligence that is beyond human comprehension.  I was able to find that evidence in studying the research carried out by the pioneers of psychical research during the period 1850 to 1935. It provided a scientific approach to the mystical.  I know the nihilists don’t see it, because they have never really dug into it and rely on references like Wikipedia to be “informed.”  It is clear to most who have thoroughly studied the old research that Wikipedia writers have a will not-to-believe and really don’t understand the subject matter.  At the same time, the evangelicals don’t see it because there are certain things coming out of it that they can’t reconcile with church dogma and doctrine.  Therefore, they conclude that it must be demonic.

The teachings of the group soul called Imperator, an assembly of 49 advanced spirits, that communicated through William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who became a medium during the latter part of the nineteenth century, make much more sense to me than what I learned during my church days.  When Moses asked the Imperator group who they were, the reply came: “We are they who preach a definite, intelligible, clear system of reward and punishment, but in doing so we do not feign a fabled heaven, a brutal hell, and a human God.”

I suspect that the Council of Nicaea, under Constantine, decided to elevate Jesus to the Godhead in AD 325 because its members realized that most people need something to visualize.  Praying to an abstract picture of atoms and electrons that might constitute a creative force just doesn’t do it for most of us. We need to visualize the recipient of our prayers.  When Moses asked about Jesus, the Imperator group replied:

“You inquire from us what position we assign to Jesus the Christ.  We are careful to not 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.” 

I have no problem visualizing Jesus as the “Chairman of the Board” on the Other Side, while not recognizing him as God.  And I have no problem revering him or petitioning him in prayer, but I refuse to believe that he demands or wants worship. To again quote Imperator: 

“The outcome of the Revelation of Christ, which is only now beginning to be seen amongst men, is in its truest sense the abolition of death, the demonstrations of immortality.  In that great truth – man never dies, cannot die, however he may wish it – in that great truth rests the key to the future.  The immortality of man, held not as an article of faith, a clause in a creed, but as a piece of personal knowledge and individual experience, this is the keynote of the religion of the future.  In its trail come all the grand truths we teach, all the noblest conceptions of duty, the grandest view of destiny, the truest realizations of life.”

As I see it, the animosity toward religion will continue until the churches do away with the “W” word and realize that they must first seek the Kingdom of God, not God, per se.  Unfortunately, there is no indication that such will happen in the immediate future, and so the nihilists will likely continue with their savage attacks.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
Musings on the Pandemic, Grief, and Death

Posted on 13 April 2020, 18:55

While watching the movie The Lost City of Z on Amazon last week, I pondered on the “adversity” we are experiencing with the current pandemic quarantine and thought about how much worse conditions could be.  The movie is about Percy Fawcett’s exploration of the Amazon during the early 1900s. It left me appreciating the comforts of my home and wondering why Fawcett would leave his comfortable home in England to endure the hardships of the Amazon jungle, not once but three times, the first two expeditions lasting around two years each. He had to deal with extreme heat, starvation, wild animals, snakes, piranha, deadly insects, and attacks by primitive natives in his search for a lost civilization.

The movie producers did a good job in depicting what life was like in England before electricity. Even though Fawcett lived in a nice home in the English countryside, it was dark and dreary during the nights, with only candlelight and not much more than a book to pass the evening hours.  It was nearly as dismal during the day, as the sun, when it occasionally peeked through the overcast, offered little light in the home. It seemed just as gloomy in the office and boardroom of the National Geographic Society in London as Fawcett discussed his expedition plans with board members. And there were many days and nights he endured in trenches in France during the Great War.  Pondering on all that, I could begin to understand why Fawcett chose adventure and light in the treacherous jungle over monotony and darkness in his home. 

Many of us are guilty of not appreciating how soft our lives have become over the past century.  Think about how our ancestors lived before electricity. There was little to do during the leisure hours beyond sitting in front of a fire place or on the front porch while knitting, whittling, or staring at the stars. As I have suggested here before, I believe there was better mediumship back then than there is now because they had so much quiet time.  I can recall sitting in front of fires on quiet evenings 70 or so years ago, before television and computers, and experiencing something of a hypnotic effect, and I can remember gazing at the stars in the still of the night while wondering what life is all about.  I have no difficulty in believing that a more sensitive person can go beyond that hypnotic effect and open him- or herself to another dimension, to the spirit world. 

In her 1946 book, You are Psychic, Sophia Williams, (below) whose direct-voice mediumship is described by researcher Hamlin Garland in his book The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (available from White Crow Books), wrote that it took her four years of sitting quietly each day while learning the art of relaxation and complete detachment before she began to develop as a medium. Williams went on to explain that the first spirit voice coming through her mediumship was weak and difficult to understand, but the voices became clearer as she continued to sit in silence. She added that the voices came through in many different languages. She stressed the need to achieve absolute relaxation as a first step and then sit in a state of expectancy with the mind cleared of all conscious thoughts and memories.  “Conscious thought must be avoided – consciously trying not to think is thinking,” she pointed out.


“I am certain that much of the information and phenomena I receive comes through intermediaries, those personalities who exist in another space dimension or function at a higher rate of frequency,” she wrote.  “It is apparent to me that when these personalities pass into the next dimension they carry with them all of the habits, faults, and ideas, which they retain until they learn to progress.”

While thinking about the “hardships” of my confinement, I also thought about Mary Lincoln, the widow of our sixteenth president.  After his assassination, and following the death of her son Tad, she lived in a downtown Chicago hotel for $45 a week, including meals.  Think what it would be like sitting in a dark hotel room day and night before electricity and electronic gadgets.  What does a person do to avoid complete boredom?  Mary found something of an escape from it all by browsing in nearby shops. Being gregarious, she probably got to know some of the merchants fairly well and felt obligated to make purchases now and then, even if she had no need for the item at the time. Shopping was a way to assuage her grief and despair.  While a man might choose refuge at a local saloon, that option was not available to respectable women. 

Indications were that Mary was living within her annual income of $8,000, a significant sum at the time. However, her only surviving son, Robert, had her confined to a lunatic asylum after testifying in court to her unsoundness of mind, the primary focus being on her unwise spending, including sitting with some mediums. With the help of friends, especially one Myra Bradwell, a Spiritualist friend who had a law degree but was not allowed to practice law because of her gender, and her husband, Judge James B. Bradwell, Mary Lincoln was released from the asylum after just three months and three weeks of confinement. 

Picturing Percy Fawcett (below) in his dark, dreary home and visualizing Mary Lincoln in a bleak hotel room with little to occupy themselves, I was able to better appreciate my current confinement. It made me wonder what life would be like without electricity and electronic gadgets to entertain ourselves.  It made me think how it might be if we are ever hit by a hurricane and lose electricity for weeks or even months. I’m living in luxury now compared with how bad it could be.  Moreover, we have no fireplaces in Hawaii.


Before writing the last paragraph, I took time out to read Bob Ginsberg’s blog, Beyond the Five Senses.  Bob mentions that Chris Cuomo, a popular CNN newsman, was doing his show a few nights earlier from the basement of his home while in the deep throes of the Covid-19 virus.  Cuomo related that he was running a consistently high fever, causing him to shiver so much that he cracked a tooth.  He then reported that during the night he saw his deceased father sitting on the bed next to him, and even engaged in some conversation with him.  However, Cuomo dismissed it as nothing more than a hallucination brought on by the high fever. 

Ginsberg, who with his wife, Phran, heads up the Forever Family Foundation, thought of an alternative explanation.  He wondered if the deviation from normal brain process might have opened Cuomo up to reception of information that was normally filtered and never made it to his consciousness.  After all, the true definition of “hallucination” is “an experience that does not exist outside known reality.”  Just because mainstream science cannot grasp that other reality does not mean there is not overwhelming evidence supporting its existence. 

Consideration was given by Ginsberg to reports by near-death experiencers, mediums, and meditators who have had clear and lucid thoughts of talking with deceased loved ones while in an altered state of consciousness, experiences that went beyond the norms of lucid dreaming.

All that brought to my mind the fact that so many of the renowned mediums of the past reported developing as mediums only after suffering a serious illness, one that probably involved a high temperature.  I have not kept a record of them, but I recall that both Etta Wriedt and Leonora Piper, possibly the two best mediums of the past, were in this category.  Of course, there were many more diseases around then than there are now and that may contribute, in addition to the greater quiet time, to an answer as to why there were more good mediums in the past than there are now.  The bottom line here is that Cuomo may have heard from his deceased father, but since science doesn’t recognize spirits or spirit communication, it couldn’t have been “real.”

It is especially sad that so many of our mental-health “experts” subscribe to such a mindset.  In her March 30 column for The Atlantic, psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb tells of the great grief she experienced at the recent passing of her 85-year-old father. The grief was compounded by the fact that she opted not to visit him on his deathbed because she had a cough and was concerned it could be the coronavirus.  Her grief was so painful that she saw her own therapist to help overcome it.  Nowhere in her column is there any indication that she believes that her father’s consciousness survived his physical death. I inferred from her words that she is a total nihilist in that regard.

When I read about such grief, I wonder if I should feel guilty about not more seriously grieving the deaths of my father, mother, brother, and other loved ones.  I don’t know how grief can be measured, but my grief was minuscule compared with that reported by Gottlieb, and I doubt that it has anything to do with loving the person less than she loved her father.  With each death I have experienced, there has been a conviction that the person still exists and that I’ll see him or her again some day.  Such conviction significantly mitigated the grief.  If I’m wrong, which I’m confident I’m not, I’ll never know it and my false conviction saved me much grief and the cost of a therapist. 

Next blog post:  April 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.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

Read comments or post one of your own
On Being a Deluded Moral Nihilist in 2020

Posted on 30 March 2020, 9:30

Below was to be read only on April 1st

The year was 1969.  I was living and working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, managing an office for an international insurance company. I was invited to join a friend to participate in a weekly run by the world-famous Hash House Harriers, a group of mostly British and Australian businessmen who gathered for a four- or five-mile run through the nearby jungle, after which they enjoyed a beer bust.  A mile or so into the run, I told my friend that the pace was much too slow, so slow that I didn’t feel I was getting any cardiovascular benefit from it and therefore had to pick up the pace. He warned me that the others would brand me a show-off if I did so, but I felt it was a waste of time to proceed at such a slow jog. I lengthened my stride and passed plodder after plodder, hearing a few mumbles about the “bloody, insane Yank” before I found myself leading the pack and drawing away from them. My sudden independence was short-lived, however, as I soon found myself ankle-deep in a pool of quicksand.  When I tried to lift my right leg and extract myself, I realized I was in trouble. I was sinking.


Thirty seconds or so later, as the others caught up with me, one by one they circled around the mud pool, none of them saying anything or offering any assistance. I could see smirks on each of their faces.  By the time the last harrier, my friend, passed me, not saying a word, I was up to my knees in the thick mud and began to realize that I was in serious trouble. It was six years before Dr. Raymond Moody coined the term “near-death experience” for what I was about to experience.  As I continued to be swallowed by the mud hole, I was suddenly above my helpless body, looking down at it, and then found myself talking with someone who identified himself as one of my spirit guides.  He gave the name Milo and chastised me for my impudence, commenting that I was very selfish in my motives.  I had an instantaneous life review, seeing many other selfish acts of which I had been guilty, including a time when I was using my father’s car with a handicap placard and took a parking spot reserved for handicapped drivers. I also saw a time that I hid the ice cream in the back of the freezer so that no one else in the family would see it and finish it off before I could. 

It was then that Milo asked me if I wanted to continue living and warned me that there were rough times ahead. “How rough?” I asked.  “I’m going to take you 50 years into the future and show you what life will be like then,” he said. “I’ll begin with what it will be like if you choose to die now.”

I then found myself looking down at a table in a coffee shop.  There were two people sitting at the table and my focus was on the young male with purple hair tied back in a pony tail and with green streaks on the sides.  He was adorned with many tattoos and jewelry, including earrings and nose and lip rings. “What am I looking at?” I asked Milo.  “That’s you in the year 2020 if you choose not to return now,” Milo responded.  “You’ll be reborn in the year 1995 and you are seeing your 25-year-old self.”  I shook my head in shock and dismay.

“Is that a goat on the floor next to me?” I asked.  “Yes, that’s your emotional support pet,  Milo explained.  “Having him next to you helps you deal with life’s everyday stresses.  You look at Charlie, your goat, and unload your troubles on him.  He’s a good listener and never argues with you.  He accompanies you everywhere, even on the plane when you fly home to ask your parents for more money.”  My mouth was agape. 

The person sitting next to me appeared to be a young woman, although she had more of a male haircut than I did. She was also covered in tattoos and adorned in facial jewelry.  She had a peacock next to her, apparently her emotional support animal. She wore jeans that were all torn up, both knees with large holes in them.  “Is she destitute?” I asked Milo.  “Oh, no, that’ll be the style in 2020,” Milo said with a laugh. “It means that the person is a carefree, happy-go-lucky person, not tied down to the materialistic society of her parents.”

I asked Milo to elaborate.  “Look,” he said, “you grew up with the idea that you had to apply effort to achieve something and that you had to deal with a certain amount of adversity along the way.  At the same time, you were taught that there is a larger life for which the material life is but a preparation.  However, you won’t view that in the same way in the life you are now looking at.  The person you are in 2020 has been nurtured in a philosophy of materialism, more than that, hedonism, and with an entitlement mentality.  And, he has been sheltered from adversity.  Your president in 2020 will call your kind a ‘snowflake’.”

“How did that happen?” I asked Milo. “It’s very complicated, but in a nutshell it has do with science and technology progressing much faster than people could adapt to the changes; it’s humans looking for new powers when they haven’t adjusted to those they already have,” he responded. He went on to explain that it all started with the impeachment of religion by Darwinism and the growth of critical rationalism.  It stalled somewhat during the first half of the last century because of the two world wars, people not wanting to believe that loved ones killed during the wars were totally extinct, but then it gained steam again during the 1960s, as television came into its own and offered an easy escape from reality.

The primary culprit, Milo said, is academia, since it rejected all things spiritual as “unscientific,” thereby misleading fertile minds – minds which were at the same time being indoctrinated by the advertising and entertainment industries into thinking that life is all about pleasure seeking.  “You know the Seven Deadly Sins from your Catholic upbringing – greed, lust, sloth, wrath, envy, gluttony, and pride,” he said.  “Those negative characteristics will be turned into positive attributes by Madison Avenue and Hollywood by 2020.  Instant gratification and having fun will replace long-term fulfillment and happiness as motivators. People will become slaves to the five senses and there will be a significant moral void. You can see it now in 1969, but it will be ten-fold of what you see now in half a century.”

Milo added that by 2020 nihilism will be the philosophy of many, including an increasing number of young people. “Your heroes will be movie actors – people pretending to be real people – and athletes – people pretending to be real warriors,” he said. “The unreal will become the real for most people and that will result in a flight into self-delusion. You’ll live in a fantasy world.  Salvation will be a secular matter and dependent on government entitlement programs. You, like so many others, will live from payday to payday.  ‘Seize the day’ is your philosophy.  The American dream is no more.”

Young people will have so much in the way of material goods and toys in 2020, Milo further explained, that they’ll become bored and lonely and rebel against materialism. “They’ll become angry, arrogant, apathetic, anxious, apprehensive, alienated, and aimless, and they’ll begin to consider a more socialistic government,” he said. To overcome the loneliness, he continued, they’ll join groups to promote causes they don’t really care about; their primary objective is to socialize with other humans, no matter the cause.  “They’ll be out marching in the streets, carrying signs and protesting things they know nothing about or really care about. They’re looking for some kind of meaning in their lives even though it makes no sense to them.  Some of them trick themselves into thinking their cause makes sense. Most of them are in deep despair, even though they don’t realize it.”

I noticed that my friend and I, as well as all those around us, were occupied with some small object we were holding.  Milo referred to them as portable phones, but he said he hadn’t quite figured out what they were doing with them. He believed it to be some sort of finger flexibility exercise as he could make no sense of them otherwise. 

I asked Milo if I’ll have a job in 2020.  “You had one as a ripper,” he replied. “You were on the production line that makes those jeans your friend is wearing, and it was your job to rip them up as much as possible.  However, you came to realize that you could make more from government programs, so you spend a lot of time in the coffee shop.  You do make a few extra dollars every month from being a sperm donor.”

“Didn’t I get an education?” I reacted. “Yes, you got a Ph.D. and did your dissertation on the advantages of moral nihilism,” Milo answered.  “You had hoped to teach that subject at the local university, but like so many of your generation you trained for jobs that no longer exist or for which there is a surplus of educated people.  Yours was the latter. Technology moved too fast for the academic world, diminishing the appeal of the liberal arts and the humanities.  Most people in 2020 should be going to trade school, not college, if they are to find meaningful employment.  Incidentally, your friend there, who has a master’s degree in music, is on the production line after you.  She’s a shredder.  After you rip, she shreds, and the end result is what they consider a perfect piece of clothing. Such will be the world of 2020.”

Milo said that a big “cleansing” was going to begin in 2020 and things would gradually change.  “But it’s going to be rough going for some years,” he warned.
I told Milo that I preferred not to die and face that future, but I wondered what was ahead if I managed to free myself from the mud.  “You’ll face a lot of adversity,” he said, “but you’ll take it in stride and learn from it.  You’ll find love and meaning in life, a meaning that will totally escape you in your life as a snowflake.”  Milo then disappeared and I was back in my lower self.  My friend had returned and extended a frond from a palm tree to me, and I was able to pull myself out of the quicksand (see photo).  I feel certain I made the right decision in returning to my body in 1969.  Better to have only days, weeks, or months left in this lifetime while believing in a larger life than another 50 or 60 years in my snowflake life as a deluded moral nihilist. 

Note:  This blog was prepared to be posted April 1, but it could go up a day or two early.  I did manage to free myself from the mud before it was above my ankles.  Happy April Fools’ Day.


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.





Read comments or post one of your own
Famed British Physicist Communicated After Death

Posted on 16 March 2020, 9:24

During his 50 years of studying psychic phenomena, Sir William Barrett observed nearly every type of mediumship.  In his reminiscences, read at a private meeting of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) on June 17, 1924, less than a year before his death, Barrett said:  “I am personally convinced that the evidence we have published decidedly demonstrates (1) the existence of a spiritual world, (2) survival after death, and (3) of occasional communication from those who have passed over… It is however hardly possible to convey to others who have not had a similar experience an adequate idea of the strength and cumulative force of the evidence that has compelled [my] belief.”

A physics professor at the Royal College of Science as well as a renowned inventor, Barrett (below) was one of the pioneers of psychical research.  It was his idea to form the SPR in London in 1882.  However, since he was living and teaching in Dublin, Ireland at the time, he was not able to take an active part in managing the Society.  He left that up to three Cambridge scholars, Henry Sedgwick, Frederic W. H. Myers, and Edmund Gurney. Barrett also encouraged Professor William James of Harvard to organize the American branch of the SPR in 1884.  He edited the SPR Journal from 1884 until 1899 and served as president of the SPR in 1904.


Barrett began to take an interest in psychic phenomena in 1874 after hearing of the research of chemist William Crookes (later Sir William) with mediums.  “In fact I began the whole investigation of these phenomena convinced that [mal-observation or hallucination] was their true explanation, and it was not until after stretching this hypothesis to illegitimate lengths that I found the actual facts completely shattered my theory,” Barrett explained his early views.

Then 29, Barrett began experimenting with hypnosis, more popularly known as “mesmerism” in those days.  He observed a young girl under hypnosis correctly identify a playing card randomly taken from a pack and placed in a book that was put next to her head.  He also observed another hypnotized person correctly identify fourteen cards taken at random from a pack.  As a scientist, he found such results very disturbing.  However, while many of his scientific colleagues simply scoffed at anything paranormal, Barrett was open-minded and determined to find some rational and scientific explanation. As he explained his 1917 book On the Threshold of the Unseen, his prior theories really began to fall apart sometime in 1876 when a prominent English solicitor (lawyer) named Clark spent the summer at a residence near his in Dublin.  Clark’s 10-year-old daughter, Florrie, produced various paranormal phenomena, including levitations and spirit “raps” that spelled out messages from an “intelligence” calling himself “Walter.”

As a result of his experiments in hypnosis and his investigation of Florrie Clark, Barrett prepared a paper to deliver to the British Association for the Advancement of Science.  The Association rejected the paper as well as Barrett’s request to present it orally to the group, such was the materialistic mindset of the organization. After Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, William Crookes and Lord Rayleigh protested the Association’s action, Barrett was allowed to deliver the paper but not publish it.
Barrett continued his investigation with other mediums, including Hester Travers Smith, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Etta Wriedt, Kathleen Goligher, and Geraldine Cummins.  In his 1917 book, he recalled the sitting with Goligher, who was being studied then by Dr. William Crawford of Queen’s University.  He observed a table rise from the floor some 18 inches and remain suspended in the air.  “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,” Barrett explained.  “I tried to press the table down, and though I exerted all my strength could not do so; then I climbed up on the table and sat on it, my feet off the floor, when I was swayed to and fro and finally tipped off. 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.  At my request all the sitters’ clasped hands had been kept raised above their heads, and I could see that no one was touching the table.  When I desisted from trying to lift the inverted table from the floor, it righted itself again on its own accord, no one helping it.  Numerous sounds displaying an amused intelligence then came, and after each individual present had been greeted with some farewell raps the sitting ended.”
Barrett said that he could not imagine how the cleverest conjurer could have performed what he experienced, especially since it was clear to him that there was no elaborate apparatus in the room.  Moreover, Dr. Crawford had been observing the Goligher circle for six months or more before his observations and had detected no trickery. “That there is an unseen intelligence behind these manifestations is all we can say, but that is a tremendous assertion, and if admitted destroys the whole basis of materialism,” Barrett added.

Barrett is also remembered for his study of dowsing and deathbed visions. His book, Death-Bed Visions, first published in 1926, the year after his death, is still popular today. It offers a number of intriguing reports in which a dying person appears to see and recognize some deceased relative or friend, some of them involving instances where the dying person was unaware of the previous death of the spirit form he sees.  “These cases form, perhaps, one of the most cogent arguments for survival after death, as the evidential value and veridical (truth telling) character of these visions of the dying is greatly enhanced when the fact is undeniably established that the dying person was wholly ignorant of the decease of the person he or she so vividly sees,” Barrett stated in the Introduction.

Several weeks after his death, Barrett’s wife,  Dr. Florence Barrett, (below) an obstetric surgeon and dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, began receiving very evidential messages from Sir William through the mediumship of Mrs. Leonard.  Over the next eleven years, she sat with Leonard every few months, taking verbatim notes as Sir William communicated and explained how things work on his side of the veil.  Lady Barrett also received evidential messages from several other mediums. This book, Personality Survives Death, published in 1937 by Longmans, Green and Co. of London, and recently republished by White Crow Books, resulted from these sittings. 


Lady Barrett asked Sir William how she might satisfy people that she was really talking to him.  He replied that it depends on the type of mind, commenting that reference to a tear in the wallpaper in his old room might satisfy some people and not others.  Lady Barrett noted that a month before his death he had pointed out a tear in the wallpaper in one corner of his room.  Sir William then said that some higher minds have gone well beyond the need for such trivial verification, mentioning another distinguished British physicist, still in the flesh, Sir Oliver Lodge.  “Lodge is nearer the bigger, greater aspect of things than most,” he stated.

Sir William reported difficulties in communicating with his widow, explaining that in the earth body we have the separation of subconscious and conscious and that when we pass over they join and make a complete mind that knows and remembers everything.  However, when he brings himself back into the physical sphere, the conscious and the subconscious again separate and he forgets much. “I cannot come with my whole self, I cannot.” He went on to describe other obstacles to communication between the material and spirit worlds. 

Sir William further explained that his objective in communicating with his wife was not simply to add to the mass of evidence already given concerning the survival of consciousness at death but to help find a working philosophy to guide those on earth who are struggling with finding a purpose in life.  “It seems to me from where I am most people are not even struggling but meandering on purposelessly, blindly, because they have no definite philosophy as a starting point,” he communicated.  He went on to say that knowledge of the afterlife opens the gates of inspiration and makes the intuition keener.  With that comes greater enthusiasm, greater understanding of the beauties of life, even the perceiving of beauty where ugliness had appeared to exist.

“Life on my side seems so extraordinarily easy compared to earth,” Sir William offered in a 1929 sitting, “because we simply live according to the rules of love.” 

Next blog post:  March 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.



Read comments or post one of your own
How They Dress in the Afterlife

Posted on 02 March 2020, 9:55

The idea of spirits wearing clothes provokes humor among the skeptics and doubts among the believers. However, if those same spirits were to appear naked, it would likely result in more humor and more doubt. Would it be more believable if they appeared as blue flames or white orbs? 

“Can you fancy seeing me in white robes?” Raymond Lodge, a battlefield victim of World War I, asked his mother through British trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard on November 26, 1915. “Mind, I didn’t care for them at first, and I wouldn’t wear them. Just like a fellow gone to a country where there is a hot climate – an ignorant fellow, not knowing what he is going to; it’s just like that.  He may make up his mind to wear his own clothes a little while, but he will soon be dressing like the natives.”

Raymond, (below) a second-lieutenant in the British army, had been killed in action in Flanders on September 14, a little more than two months before he communicated with his mother.  He went on to tell his mother that he was allowed to have earth clothes until he got acclimated.  “I don’t think I will ever be able to make the boys see me in white robes,” Raymond added, apparently jesting.


Raymond’s father, Sir Oliver Lodge, a distinguished British physicist and pioneer in electricity, radio and spark plug ignition, recorded the communication in his popular but controversial 1916 book, Raymond or Life and Death.  Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge began receiving messages from Raymond on September 25, 1915, 11 days after his death.  A number of them were very evidential, offering facts which Mrs. Leonard could not possibly have known, thereby convincing the Lodges that they were in fact in touch with their youngest son.

As a world-renowned scientist, Lodge took much flak from his fellow scientists for his interest in such “occult” matters.  One current reference suggests that Lodge had no interest in the subject of life after death until Raymond’s death, but the fact is that he had joined the Society for Psychical Research a year after its formation in 1882 and had 23 sittings with Leonora Piper, the famous American trance medium, in 1889.  His book, The Survival of Man, dealing with life after death, was published in 1909, six years before Raymond’s death and before he met Mrs. Leonard, and makes it clear that he accepted survival well before Raymond’s death. 

Sir Oliver continued his interest in psychical research until his death in 1940 and often heard from Raymond.  On March 11, 1932, Raymond attempted to further explain conditions on his side of the veil.  “Father, we are obliged to create conditions, and what you might call things, on our plane,” Raymond stated through Mrs. Leonard’s vocal cords. “They’ve only got a temporary life.  They are illusions, something to the same extent as a materialization is an illusion.  On your side, you have something material for the time being.  It’s something natural in appearance, in feel, apparently in every way it appeals to the senses of this body (the entranced medium touching Sir Oliver).  On our side we are bound to create certain things, houses, clothes, partially for the time being, in order to make a satisfactory harmonious and suitable setting for the soul to live in and work in.  And they become a medium of expression…It’s one of the necessary illusions of our life.”

When Sir Oliver (below) asked Raymond if he was saying that he lived in a world of illusion, Raymond said that he was in an extension of the illusory world in which his father was living.  “We are in touch with a world of reality because we are in the outer rim of the world of illusion,” he explained to his father.  “We’re more sure of the world of reality than you are.  Father, the spirit universe is the world of reality.  Spirit and mind both belong to the world of reality.”

Mr and Mrs Lodge

Sir Oliver pondered the situation in writing:  “I know that its inhabitants say it is extraordinarily like the earth, that they have flowers, and trees and houses, and can get anything they want by merely wishing for it, which seems rather strange, “but I was not prepared to think of it as a world of illusion wherein all such objects of sense were illusory.” 

In further discussing the matter with Raymond and Frederic W. H. Myers, his old friend and fellow psychical researcher who had died in 1901 and who also communicated through Mrs. Leonard, Lodge concluded that it was a temporary environment for spirits who had recently crossed over and were still making adjustments before going on to realms of higher vibration, which become less and less illusory and more and more real as a soul advances in the spirit world. “We are not transported to the full blaze of reality all at once,” Lodge surmised, pointing out that a table that feels solid and substantial is really a multitude of whirling electrons with great spaces between them and that when we stand on the floor we are bombarded upwards and supported by a great multitude of little blows delivered by the atoms beneath our feet.  “As none of this is apparent to the ordinary senses, it can be considered illusory even though we choose to interpret it in a way that appeals to our coarse-grained sense organs.”

Through another medium and to another person, Myers communicated: “We were accustomed to wear clothes that belonged to our particular period. The images of these are deeply marked in our subconscious memory. So our first instinct is to appear to those we love as we were on earth. Our minds, though unconscious of the imaginative act, fashion out of this amazingly plastic ether every thread, every inch of the garments which we habitually wore during our earth life. Naturally, after a while, we come to realize the change in ourselves and, aware at last of the creative powers of imagination, devise strange and lovely coverings for our etheric bodies. But as these fancies are largely drawn from it they are limited by the subconscious memory in character and kind. …”  Myers added that this applied primarily to souls who had just passed through the gates of death and were still in the lower realms or spheres.

The Rev. Charles Drayton Thomas, a Wesleyan minister and psychical researcher, carried on detailed conversations with his deceased father and sister through Mrs. Leonard.  He wrote that his father wanted him to understand that he now lived in a body which, to him, was as real and substantial as the body he had inhabited on earth. “Instead of the vapourish form which I had imagined to be the dwelling place of the departed soul, he described a replica of his former body, but one which possessed powers of movement, and an extension of the senses, far surpassing anything familiar to earth,” Thomas wrote. “He spoke of being suitably clad in garments, and not, as I had supposed, draped only in a cloud of light.”  His father further explained that his spirit body was built up by the character formed while in the flesh.

At a different sitting, Thomas was told that he often visits with deceased relatives when he is sleeping.  His deceased father told him that he could see Drayton’s soul leaving the body from his solar plexus during sleep, although at death it would leave from the head. He would watch the soul come out and form a sort of clothing for itself.  “That is because of one’s intuitive sense of the need of clothing, the soul naturally seeks to clothe its body (i.e., the spiritual or psychic body),” it was explained.

Many spirit communicators have stated that spirits tend to move from traditional clothing in the lower realms to robes and gown in the higher realms. After transitioning to the spirit world, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson began communicating through the hand of Anthony Borgia.  He told of being able to visit one of the higher realms. “I observed that most of the people waiting in the gardens were not habited in their earth clothes,” he communicated, “and I assumed that most of them had been in spirit for some considerable time.  Such was not necessarily the case, Edwin (their guide) told us. They had the right to wear their spirit robes by virtue of the fact that they were inhabitants of this realm we were now in.  And the robes they wore were eminently suited to both the place and the situation.  It is difficult to describe this costume because so much rests in being able to give some comparison with a particular earthly fabric.  Here we have no such materials, but by the kind and degree of light that is the essence of the spirit robe. Those that we now saw were in ‘flowing’ form and of full length, and the colours – blue and pink in varying degrees of intensity – seemed to interweave themselves throughout the whole substance of the robes.”

Emanuel Swedenborg, an esteemed 18th Century scientist and inventor turned mystic, reported on his clairvoyant visions of the afterlife in his 1758 book, Heaven & Hell.  Referring to spirits as angels, Swedenborg said that angels live together as people on earth do and “they have clothes, houses, and many similar things.”  He explained that clothes correspond to their advancement in the spirit world.  The more advanced have clothes that gleam as if aflame, some radiant as if alight.  The less advanced have shining white clothes without radiance, while those even lower in advancement have clothes of various colors. 

A spirit calling himself Johannes communicated through medium Hester Travers-Smith to H. Dennis Bradley, a British playwright. “Now you ask me about clothes and appearance…Every soul has its own form.  It has formed itself during the earth life, and it comes to us as it makes itself.  We seem to each other to be men and women as you are; and as to our garments, we do wear garments which convey the same impression as yours.  There are merely veils for the mental part, something that gives clothing and appearance to the mental form; but you need not believe that when you pass on you live so differently as you expect.  These garments are not made in the market as yours are; they really proceed largely from the idea of the individual.  They help to demonstrate the mind as yours do.”

On September 12, 1945, Phillip Gilbert, a sailor in the British navy killed in WWII, communicated with his mother, Alice Gilbert. “You want me to tell you more of conditions here,” he communicated by means of automatic writing.  “It’s not easy to explain how one can be solid and yet not solid.  Still, anyone who knows anything about physics and electrons knows that all earthly matter is just that – seeming solid and yet really a mass of vibrating particles.  We are the same, I think, the body I use now looks to me very like my old one, but there are no organs, as you know.  I think I function through my thought, somehow. I can will myself into any clothes I want. I usually get myself into my tweed coat and flannels…Some people go about seeing themselves in the most fantastic outfits.  They are dressed as their inner nature builds them up. That is why, at first, Grandpa so often showed to mediums in a sort of black cassock, like a clergyman.”  Phillip went on to say that people in higher planes become more and more luminous and that Christ is seen as a mass of violet golden light.

The bottom line seems to be that we are our own tailors and are weaving our afterlife garments now whether we know it or not. 

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 16





Read comments or post one of your own
Exploring the Psychology-Spirituality Link with Dr. Matt Welsh

Posted on 17 February 2020, 10:41

How does a clinical psychologist avoid conflicts between science and spirituality?  That was the first question I had after discovering Spiritual Media Blog, a website that features articles, interviews, reviews, and other posts about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment by Matthew Welsh, J.D., Ph.D., (below) a clinical psychologist practicing in the Chicago area. (


According to the website, Welsh created the blog after graduating from law school, his objective being to provide a source of inspirational content, media, and entertainment.  He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, and then worked as a trial lawyer in Indiana before he decided to pursue his calling to become a psychologist. “My initial objective was to raise awareness for emerging conscious entertainment,” he explains.  “I started it after I left Hollywood, working for a major entertainment agency, because I felt like there were a lot of inspiring movies about consciousness and spirituality being made that were not getting the attention they deserved from Hollywood filmmakers and producers. I wanted to create a blog to raise awareness for these inspirational films. Over the years, after leaving my job as a lawyer at a law firm to become a clinical psychologist, my interest has expanded to psychology. Now, part of my blog’s objective is to also provide practical information people can use to help them develop spiritually and psychologically, as well as to raise awareness for inspirational movies. I do this by featuring guest posts, reviews, and interviews with some of the thought-leaders on topics related to psychology, spirituality, and inspirational entertainment.”

I recently put some questions to Welsh by email and he graciously replied:

How did you become interested in the subject of spirituality?

I was about 20 years old studying in college and very stressed and burnt out from life. I had been putting an extreme amount of pressure on myself at the time to make the best grades so I could get a good job after I graduated. That led me to experience a lot of anxiety, stress, anger, and unhappiness. So, I began to look for something else to find happiness, purpose and peace in my life. I started reading a lot about psychology, spirituality, philosophy, and personal development. One of the most powerful and helpful materials I found was a William James essay on four signs of a mystical experience and other teachings about connecting to God, our Higher Self, or some Ultimate Reality through meditation and our intuition. I began to practice meditation on a daily basis and listen to my intuition (which I believe is the voice of our Soul). Meditation and paying more attention to my intuition really helped me to become more connected to God and my soul/spirit. Since then, I have continued to read spiritual literature and incorporate a variety of spiritual practices into my daily life. When I connect with my spirituality, I feel a deeper sense of peace, purpose, practical guidance or inner knowing even if I am going through highly difficult external circumstances I don’t understand.

How do you define “spirituality”? In your introductory “10 practical tips for finding and living your calling” at your website, you refer to intuition, synchronicity, inspiration, internal values and other character traits.  I’m sure a humanist would agree with all those.  Does your definition go beyond what humanists accept?

I define spirituality as our connection, experience, or personal relationship with our Higher Power or some Ultimate Reality. Some may refer to this Higher Power as God or Spirit. So, yes, my definition of spirituality does go beyond what a humanist would accept. A humanist would likely define spirituality as a search for meaning and connection in our life. I respect that definition and people who have that definition of spirituality. But, for me, spirituality is a belief in something that transcends this physical or material world such as the soul, afterlife, or God / Ultimate Reality.

Let me reword the question I opened with:  Can one be “spiritual” and find meaning or purpose in this life without believing in a spirit world or a larger life beyond this one? 

I do believe a person can find meaning or purpose in this life without believing in a spirit world or larger life beyond this one. For example, love, connection to others, appreciation of beauty, a sense of adventure, personal growth, family, friends, work, or living a life of integrity may provide anyone with meaning or purpose in this life even though they do not believe in a spirit world. While these values and goals are noble and can provide meaning and purpose, I do not believe they are necessarily spiritual because in my opinion spirituality includes a belief in the spirit world or a larger life beyond this one.

You’ve quoted Carl Jung in some of your writing.  Jung 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 have done so is a vital loss.”  Is such a belief acceptable to today’s mainstream psychology?  If not,  are you able to o incorporate it into your clinical practice without inviting professional sanctions or peer disdain? If so, how?

That belief is probably not acceptable in mainstream psychology. However, I can still incorporate Jung’s belief into my practice as I help my patients accomplish their goals by respecting, incorporating and working with their values and beliefs without imposing my values and beliefs on them. For example, psychological problems (e.g., depression, PTSD, anxiety, relationship problems, substance use, etc.) can be successfully treated without a belief in life after death or any spirituality. My goal as a psychologist is to help patients relieve their suffering, grow and develop as a person, or accomplish whatever goal they are hoping to achieve. It is not necessary to have any spiritual beliefs for me to help my patients achieve their goals.

However, even though it is not necessary to have any spiritual beliefs, I do believe incorporating my patients’ spiritual beliefs and practices into psychotherapy is helpful. Mainstream psychologists may not specifically endorse spiritual beliefs. However, most mainstream psychologists would encourage therapists to understand a patient’s values and religious or spiritual practices and then work with these beliefs and practices to help the patients achieve their goals.

I do this by asking patients if they have a religion or spiritual beliefs. If they say no, then I do not try to impose or incorporate spirituality into my work with them. However, if my patients do have a spiritual belief system, then I work with the patient to help them draw upon these beliefs to find greater peace, meaning, purpose, motivation, or relief. For example, if someone is grieving the death of a loved one and believes in an afterlife, then I may ask them if they believe their loved one is watching over them. Then, I may ask them how they can live their life to honor that loved one or bring their loved one peace in the afterlife, knowing their loved one is still watching over them. Further, I will also talk to many of my patients about how their faith, religion, or spirituality can help them cope with anxiety, depression, or trauma in their life. For many, their spirituality and religion provide helpful coping skills to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, decrease substance use or find more strength and resiliency during tough times.

The humanist claims that one can lead a fulfilling, productive, balanced, and mentally hygienic life while not believing that there is anything beyond this life, but William James didn’t agree.  As he put it,  “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.”  Does your experience disagree with Professor James?  

I disagree. I do believe that it is possible for someone to lead a mentally hygienic life while not believing that there is anything beyond this life. I think spirituality and a belief in the afterlife does help someone lead a fulfilling and mentally hygienic life, but it is not necessary.

Back to Jung, he said that most of his patients were people who had lost their faith and could no longer find meaning in life.  I suspect that a clinical psychologist today would not want to dig that deeply.  Does a modern-day clinical psychologist get into this at all? Is it possible to explore spiritual matters without getting into religion?

Yes, many psychologists attempt to incorporate meaning and purpose into their therapy and explore spiritual matters without getting into religion. For example, Victor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who eventually founded existential psychology and wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. Many psychologists incorporate his teachings about existential psychology to help their patients find more meaning in their life. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask patients what their values in life are or what gives their life meaning and purpose. Further, if the patient says that spirituality is one of their values or gives them meaning or purpose, then it can be very helpful to have a conversation with them about their spirituality. That can be especially useful for patients who are thinking about suicide, have experienced trauma, or have lost loved ones.

Does your clinical practice involve treating people grieving the loss of a loved one?  If so, what is your basic approach to this?

Yes, my basic approach is to give them the space to experience, express, and process their emotions. This may range from guilt, regret, anger, depression, or anxiety about their own death or their loved one’s death. One helpful exercise is to ask them to write a letter to their loved one expressing any thought or emotion they would like to communicate. Or, I may ask them what their loved one would say to them now.

Giambattista Vico, an 18th-century Italian philosopher, 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. Do you think such a mindset might account for the chaos and turmoil in today’s world?

Yes, it is often difficult for people to find a balance between self-care and making a contribution towards others. When we are too focused on helping others, we often neglect our basic needs, such as sleeping or taking time for ourselves. However, when we are overly focused on our own wants and needs, we risk trying to take other people’s energy, money, power, etc., and that does cause social disconnection.

How do you integrate spirituality and psychology into your life?

For me, spirituality and psychology compliment each other and have both been helpful throughout various challenges and stages of life. Psychology helps me stay grounded by better understanding and expressing my authentic emotions in a healthy manner, or identifying unhelpful thoughts or behaviors and replacing them with more helpful ones. However, my spirituality provides me peace, faith, purpose, and direction when I am facing circumstances I don’t understand or asking questions that transcend psychology and the material world. Without spirituality, my life would lack peace, faith, and purpose. But again, psychology helps me stay grounded and deal with my human emotions, needs, and experiences in a healthy manner.

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 2

Read comments or post one of your own
Titanic Victim Reported on After-Death Experiences

Posted on 03 February 2020, 9:35

William T. Stead is not listed among the 334 victims of the Titanic whose bodies were recovered as they floated in their lifejackets.  Indications are that he was struck on the head, possibly by a falling ship’s funnel, and sent to the bottom of the ocean.  However, the evidence strongly suggests that Stead did “survive,” though not in the flesh, as he began communicating through a number of mediums in the weeks and months following his physical death.

Stead, (below) a renowned British journalist, editor, author, social reformer and pacifist, was on his way to New York City to give a speech on world peace at Carnegie Hall when he became a victim of the Titanic.  On May 6, 1912, some three weeks after the tragedy,  Stead communicated with his daughter, Estelle Stead, at a sitting in Wimbledon with direct-voice medium Etta Wriedt.  Retired British naval officer turned psychical researcher Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore was present and reported that Stead talked with his daughter for at least 40 minutes.  Moore described it as the most painful but most realistic and convincing conversation he had heard during his investigation of mediumship. (In the direct-voice, the voice comes through independent of the medium.)


A week or so later, General Sir Alfred E. Turner hosted a private sitting with Mrs. Wriedt at his home, reporting that Stead spoke in a voice that was unmistakably his while telling of the events just before the giant ship sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic. (More about Stead and his early contacts from the Other Side can be found in my 2012 book, Transcending the Titanic, published by White Crow Books.)

At the time of the disaster, Estelle Stead was on a tour with her own Shakespearean company.  One of the members of the touring group was a young man named Pardoe Woodman, who apparently had psychic abilities.  According to Estelle, a few days before the ship went down, Woodman told her over tea that there was to be a great disaster at sea and that an elderly man very close to her would be among the victims.  Some five years later, in 1917, Woodman developed as an automatic writing medium and began receiving messages from William Stead, who told of his initial experiences on the Other Side.  Estelle Stead noted that Woodman wrote with his eyes closed and that the writing was very much like her father’s.  Moreover, the writing would stop at times and go back to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” a habit of her father’s which she was sure Woodman knew nothing about.

Stead also had the ability to do automatic writing when in the physical body.  In 1909, three years before his death, he authored Letters from Julia, a series of messages coming through his hand from Julia T. Ames, an American newspaperwoman, intended for her friend, Ellen, during 1892-1893.  “Automatic writing, I may explain for those unfamiliar with the term, is writing that is written by the hand of a person which is not under control of his conscious mind,” Stead explained in the 1909 book. “The hand apparently writes of itself, the person to whom the hand belongs having no knowledge of what it is about to write. It is a very familiar and simple form of mediumship.”

Considering the research suggesting that some of the information recorded by automatic writing mediums is “colored” by the medium’s subconscious, Stead wrote that he could not believe that any part of his unconscious self would deliberately practice a hoax upon his conscious self about the most serious of all subjects, and keep it up year after year with the most sincerity and consistency.  “The simple explanation that my friend who has passed over can use my hand as her own seems much more natural and probable.”

The messages coming through Woodman’s hand, as Estelle Stead sat with him to provide a sympathetic link with her deceased father, were set forth in a 1922 book, The Blue Island, just recently republished by White Crow Books. 

In his initial communication through Woodman’s hand, Stead recalled the “indescribably pathetic” scene he witnessed after the ship went down, as hundreds of souls hovered over their floating bodies, some of them not comprehending their new state and concerned with having lost their valuables.  After what seemed like a few minutes, they all seemed to rise vertically into the air at a terrific speed. “I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how fast from the Earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival,” he communicated to his daughter through Woodman. “It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky. There, all was brightness and beauty.”

Nevertheless, Stead continued, the presence or absence of contentment among the new arrivals was based on the quality of the individual’s earth life.  He referred to what is today called a “life review,” in which the individual judges himself based on the character formed, the opportunities taken and lost, the motive of his or her actions, the help given, and the person’s overall mental outlook. “To sum all these up,” Stead explained to his daughter, “it is the quality of mind control over body versus body over mind.  Mind matters and body matters; it is in your keeping entirely and is in whatever state you have made it by your life.  On your arrival here the degree of your happiness will be determined automatically by the demands of your mind.” 

Stead added that everything seemed to have a blue tinge to it, as if it were a blue island. He later referred to it as a “blue atmosphere” and explained that it was a temporary rest spot where adjustments were made before moving on to the “Real World.”  He stressed that it does not resemble the earth life; rather, the earth life is a reflection of it. 

The initial objective, he further explained, “is to get rid of the unhappiness at parting from earth ties, and therefore, for the time being the individual is allowed to indulge in most of earth’s pleasures.”  He said that that there are libraries, music halls, and athletic arenas, that one can ride on horseback, and swim in the sea.  The clothing, he said, was practically the same as people were accustomed to on earth.  Thought, he dictated, is the force that drives everything and everything has to be mental before it becomes physical.

The mysteries of life, Stead communicated, are not revealed to the person upon arrival.  “I want you first to realise that by the change of death you do not become part of the Godhead immediately,” he cautioned his daughter. “The mysteries of life are not revealed to you as a kind of welcoming gift on your arrival here. You must not think that I, or any, have full knowledge on all subjects, profound and trivial, the moment we come to spirit life.”  Understanding, he said, comes slowly and it is difficult to communicate because the conditions are so different than those experienced in the material life.  “I am only a little way on my journey, but just far enough to grasp the intense beauty of life, and in life.” 

“We are only a very little way from Earth, and consequently up to this time we have not thrown off Earth ideas,” he went on.  “We have gained some new ones, but have as yet discarded few or none.  The process of discarding is a gradual one …We get to the state of not desiring a smoke, not because we can’t have it, or think it not right, but because the desire for it is not there.  As with a smoke, so with food, so with many a dozen things; we are just as satisfied without them.”

Stead eventually moved on to a higher (in vibration) realm, but he was able to tell very little of it because it was even more beyond human language. “It is a land of freedom – a land of happiness and smiles,” he communicated, adding that they can be in close touch with loved ones still in the physical environment and can try to influence them.  “In saying we can and do influence people on Earth, I do not propose to go into the precise process of how we work,” he explained. “It is near enough to say that you know how you influence each other on Earth; here the result is the same, although the process is quite different…”  However, he stressed, while spirit friends can attempt to guide a person, they cannot act for him. “He sets his own destiny in motion and he alone can alter it.”

Stead concluded by emphasizing that the physical world is a training school.  “…you are there to learn the truth about your own character, and how to control and develop it, to make full use of all Earth’s beauties and pleasures,” he ended, “but you must be master and not allow them to master you.”

Next blog post: Feb. 17

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.

Read comments or post one of your own
Thirty Reasons Why the Afterlife Evidence is Ignored or Rejected: Pt. 2

Posted on 20 January 2020, 10:21

As discussed in the last blog post here, I see 30 reasons why the strong evidence in support of spirits and survival has been ignored or rejected.  Here are reasons 16 through 30. 

16.  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 spirit and survival 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.  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 more experienced psychical researchers concluded that 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 and saw no way they could have all collaborated in this worldwide deception. 

17.  Sheep-Goat Effect: The early history of mediumship clearly indicates the need for harmony in mediumistic settings. 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 passive state in a minute or two, 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. Also, 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. Researchers now refer to it as the “sheep-goat” hypothesis, wherein believers (sheep) in psi get results and non-believers (goats) come up empty.

18.  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 miniature 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 see the flawed manifestations as being the result of imperfect or incomplete thought-projection from the spirit world, or the inability of the medium to produce the necessary odic force, or ectoplasm.

19.  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, they concluded that sprits themselves are limited in their ability to effectively communicate and that it takes much practice on their side and development on our side.  Most of the communication was by thought-projection and symbolic, thus resulting in different interpretations.  Indications were that low-level spirits often got involved and completely muddled the communication.

20.  The Bifurcation Fallacy: Occasionally, the supposed discarnate communicator turned out to be alive, seemingly clear evidence to the debunker that the medium was a charlatan.  However, research suggests that living humans are capable of out-of-body travel, often while asleep, and further supports telepathic communication between humans. In the study of the near-death experience, debunkers argue that similar experiences can be had under LSD and other drugs, completely rejecting the idea that bifurcation of mind (soul) and body (brain) is not limited to death or a near-death experience.
21.  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 the Rev. William Stainton Moses offered very comprehensive reports on the greater reality,  but it was not evidential and much of it, according to the reporting spirits, was beyond human vocabulary and comprehension. It was the trivial message that was evidential and which the Society for Psychical Research focused on beginning in 1882. 

22.  The Omniscient Myth: The popular 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 apparently don’t realize 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 earthlings are all very primitive in their ways.

23. Varying Degrees of Ability:  As with most gifts or talents, mediumistic ability came in varying degrees. In physical mediumship, there were a few who were strong enough to produce manifestations under good light and some under red light, but the majority required darkness, as light affected the odic force or ectoplasm exuded by the medium and could be injurious. The researcher set on debunking the medium would see darkness as a cover for fraud, reasoning that if one medium could produce under lighted conditions then all should be able to do so.  If one medium was capable of producing a full materialization, then all should be capable of doing it. 

24.  Sainthood Expectations:  It was assumed by many that mediums should be especially holy people, candidates for sainthood. However, this was not the case. Most of them were very common in religiosity and many of them charged for a sitting, which was considered sacrilegious.  Indications are that there is no significant positive correlation between spirituality and mediumistic ability. One might result after the person recognizes his or her ability, but it does not necessarily originate with such a mindset. 

25. Historical Omissions & Distortions:  Much of the early physical phenomena was recorded following the observations and consequently lacked in detail, leaving many questions unanswered.  While much of the mental phenomena was recorded in shorthand, the reports were often abridged or highly condensed in order to avoid superfluous verbiage and wearisome reading. Moreover, researchers reported that some of the very best evidence was too personal to document. The same applies to some degree with more current research.  The net result is that much of the reporting is subject to the interests and biases of the researchers.  Second- third- and even fourth-hand summaries of the research over time by historians and pseudo-historians further abbreviate and distort much of the original research.  This is often observed today in various on-line references, especially at Wikipedia, the primary reference for many people.
26. Refocused Research:  Because psychical research conflicted with materialistic science, there was little support and funding for such research.  As the dedicated pioneers of psychical research died off, few came forward to replace them. Moreover, psychical research appeared to have reached a point of diminishing returns and was replaced during the 1930s by the field called parapsychology.  In order to attract funding, parapsychologists steered clear of the survival and spirit issues, focusing on extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.  Associating such paranormal phenomena with survival was and still is looked upon as professional suicide.

27. 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.

28. Vanishing Phenomena:  While there are mediums still producing the same kind of phenomena observed by the pioneers of psychical research, the quantity and quality of such mediumship seems to have significantly diminished.  There have been many theories as to why this is, but the most accepted one seems to be that modern technology has resulted in too much “noise” in the world.  Before radio, television, computers, smart phones and the like, people had more quiet time.  They sat around fireplaces or on porches and knitted or whittled, being more open to altered states of consciousness and spirit influence, while also having more time to develop their inner selves.  Instead of playing with their devices at night, they gathered together and experimented with contacting the spirit world. In addition, many of the trance mediums developed after a serious disease, sometimes being near death, just as modern-day near-death experiencers frequently develop psychic abilities.  But science has eradicated many of the diseases that resulted in trance abilities.

29.  Absolute Proof Fallacy:  While the debunker and lay person demand “absolute proof,” the true scientists realizes that proof is subjective and a matter of evidence.  The evidence developed in psychical research is not within the domain of pure or exact science. Nearly all the phenomena are spontaneous and not subject to replication.  It is more “courtroom” science and therefore more subject to a “preponderance of evidence” standard, although some would say it goes far beyond that and meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. 

30. Necessary Doubt: When the great author Victor Hugo asked a spirit why God doesn’t better reveal himself, the reply came: “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.” In effect, absolute certainty is not in our best interest. 

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. 3.

Read comments or post one of your own
Thirty Reasons Why the Afterlife Evidence is Ignored or Rejected

Posted on 06 January 2020, 10:36

To any open-minded person who has thoroughly studied the psychical research that took place between 1850 and 1935, the evidence suggesting that consciousness lives on after death should be overwhelming. The evidence developed in recent years, primarily in the areas of near-death experiences, clairvoyance, past-life studies, instrumental transcommunication, electronic voice phenomena, and deathbed phenomena, has added significantly to the “old” evidence, which was primarily in the area of trance mediumship. The old research produced a solid wheel and the newer research has tightened the spokes, but the prevailing materialistic mindset in the modern world resists both the old and the new.

In my blog post of November 21, 2016, I identified 15 reasons why the evidence has been ignored or rejected.  In giving the matter further thought, I realize I missed many and there are at least 30 reasons, the first 15 of which are set forth below and do not match the numbering in the 2016 post.  While some of them overlap with each other, they are distinct enough to be listed separately.  Numbers 16 through 30 will be discussed in my next blog post here.

1. Fear of Death:  “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human mind like nothing else,” wrote anthropologist Ernest Becker in his 1974 Pulitzer prize-winning book, The Denial of Death. Becker explained that to free oneself of death anxiety, nearly everyone chooses the path or repression. That is, we bury the idea of death deep in the subconscious and do our best to escape from the reality of it while avoiding any discussion of what might come after, whether it be total extinction, a horrific hell, or a humdrum heaven. No consideration is given to the more dynamic and progressive afterlife suggested by modern revelation.

2. Philistinism:  In escaping from the reality of death, we concern ourselves with mostly meaningless activities – reading and watching fiction, playing games, idle chatter and texting, etc. – what Søren Kierkegaard, known as “the father of existentialism,” called philistinism.  A philistine was man fully tranquilized with the trivial.  As Kierkegaard 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.  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 explained. “Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon.  Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning.”  In effect, a philistine, even one who subscribes to a religion, becomes increasingly indifferent to matters of the spirit. 

3. Carpe Diem Syndrome: Being a philistine is one thing; going beyond that mundane state to “seize the day” in a pleasure-seeking life of Epicureanism (below) or hedonism is something else.  Believing in an afterlife involving punishment for our misdeeds, especially an eternity of torture in the hell of orthodoxy, conflicts with having free rein in pursuing a life of pleasure and comfort. If we are to “seize the day” in a hedonistic way, we should have no restraints, no fear of punishment after death.  Those subscribing to this philosophy find it convenient to dismiss the whole idea of an afterlife.


4. Religious Fundamentalism:  Based primarily on self-serving or misinterpreted passages in the Bible, most of orthodox religion saw the mediumship studied by psychical research as a demonic practice.  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. 

5.  Scientism:  At the other extreme from religious fundamentalism is scientific fundamentalism, also called scientism, a belief that nothing can be accepted as truth unless subjected to testing by application of the scientific method, including replication.  The scientific method begins with a materialistic/mechanistic a priori assumption that brain and mind are one in nature and that no cause shall be invented when known causes can explain the facts. When no natural cause can be found, either deception or unexplored subliminal activity must be invoked. Since deception or unknown subliminal activity trumps spiritistic explanations, the spiritistic/survival hypothesis is defeated before it begins. It is a Catch 22 situation.

6.  The Causality Paradox: The religionist, the scientist, the media and the general public all assume that we must come up with proof of God before dealing with the survival issue.  No God, no afterlife, is their illogical reasoning. It is a deductive or a priori approach.  The inductive, or a posteriori approach, of first looking at the evidence for survival does not require identifying a Supreme Being, whether anthropomorphic (humanlike) or some abstract form of cosmic consciousness, but most people, even atheists, continue to cling to religious indoctrination that one must find and fully identify God before even considering the survival of consciousness at death.  Those stuck in the mindset that an anthropomorphic God is pulling the strings and is very cruel and vindictive in permitting all the evils we witness in the world, even allowing small children to die of diseases, are among the most steadfast deniers. 

7. Media Bias & Ignorance: Journalists like to think of themselves as intelligent investigators, and so they 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 believe 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.  It’s a “no-win” situation.

8. Hubris:  “Dabbling in the occult,” as some referred to it, was seen as a return to 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.  They would have to rethink all they had taught and would not have answers for many things that go beyond known science.  Intellectual arrogance was and is characteristic of many leading scientists, while guerilla atheism has become very common in modern social media.  “We expect to prove our sanity by laughing where we are ignorant,” Dr. James Hyslop, professor of ethics and logic at Columbia University, once opined.   

9.  Fear of Peer Rejection: Many scientists and scholars were invited by pioneering researchers to observe certain mediums, but some feared for their reputations if word were to get out that they were showing interest in such “foolish” matters,” and they 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 a D. D. Home levitation.  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.

10. Conflicting Objectives:  With reductionist science at one extreme and the new philosophy of Spiritualism at the other, psychical researchers attempted to remain objectively on the fence between the two as they searched for an explanation for phenomena that appeared to defy natural laws. Since the most fertile area of study was with mediums associated with Spiritualism, the researchers struggled to convince Spiritualists that strict controls, such as complete body searches and tying up the mediums, were necessary.  The Spiritualists saw such controls as counter-productive to good phenomena, as the discomfort of the medium as well as the anxiety created by the controls affected his or her ability to relax and achieve the necessary passive or receptive state.  Such discomfort and disharmony resulted in “off” nights for many mediums, who were then written off as frauds. 
11.  Too Many Variables: There were and are many different kinds of mediumship.  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 the Ouija board,  trance-voice, automatic writing, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience.  The direct voice, direct writing and table turning were a combination of the physical and mental. 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, too complex, too unworldly and too unscientific for the average person to grasp. 

12.  Semantical Issues:  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, ghost hunters, 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 today are the clairvoyants they have seen on television and they are led to believe they succeed well beyond chance because the clairvoyant is fishing for information or has made a lucky guess.

13.  Actual 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 and duping the public for money. 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.

14.  Unconscious Fraud:  The spirit hypothesis held that while in the trance state, the medium’s body was controlled by a spirit or spirits and that various actions carried out by the medium’s body, which appeared to be fraud to the skeptical observer, were not consciously performed by the medium, hence not actual fraud.  If an ectoplasmic arm, sometimes referred to as the “third arm,” was produced by spirit agencies to effect certain phenomena, it was deemed fraud, whether conscious or unconscious, since spirits don’t exist under the mechanistic paradigm.  Here again, it was a Catch 22 situation.

15.  Undetectable Magic: The Great Houdini is said to have exposed a number of charlatans during the early decades of the last century, at the same time disparaging many true mediums with allegations of fraud and theories as to how they “might have” or “could have” duped many people, including men and women of science. Today, with mind-boggling tricks and illusions witnessed by tens of millions on television, such as with David Copperfield and Michael Carbonaro, no spiritual phenomenon seems outside the scope of human magic.  Moreover, “photoshopping” and other digital enhancements have calloused the senses to the extent that every visual abnormality is considered by many to be a trick of one kind or another. 

Next blog post: January 20 (reasons 16-30)  

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.

Read comments or post one of your own
Caught in the Middle: Renaissance Man Charles Richet

Posted on 23 December 2019, 9:37

There were three schools of thought relative to mediumship and other psychic phenomena during the early years of psychical research. The predominant school, that of scientific fundamentalism, held that it was all fraudulent – just so much trickery or tomfoolery. Most belonging to this school did little or no research, choosing to form their opinions on the non-scientific nature of the various phenomena and the belief that it represented a return to the pre-Darwinian religious humbug.

A second school, one including many esteemed scientists and scholars who thoroughly studied the phenomena, held that genuine phenomena existed and that it strongly suggested a world of spirits and the survival of consciousness at death. This school recognized that there were many charlatans and even some genuine mediums who didn’t want to disappoint observers and occasionally cheated, consciously or unconsciously, when their powers failed them. Many in this school had hundreds of observations on which to base their conclusions.

The third school agreed with the second school as to the reality of psychic phenomena but did not see it as suggesting spirits or survival. Rather, they opined that it was all a product of the mind not yet understood by science. One of the leaders of this school was Dr. Charles Richet, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Medicine. A Frenchman, Richet (below) was a physician, physiologist, chemist, bacteriologist, pathologist, psychologist, inventor, philosopher, explorer, aviator, poet, novelist, playwright, editor, author, and psychical researcher. After practicing medicine for about 10 years, he served as professor of physiology at the medical school of the University of Paris for 38 years. He 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. He was referred to by writers of his time as an ideal European, a visionary, and a Renaissance man.


Richet’s interest in psychical research began around 1872 when, as a medical student, he observed phenomena later classified as extra-sensory perception (ESP). His real research in the field seems to have begun in 1892 when he observed the mediumship of Eusapia Palladino, an illiterate Italian woman. He would go on to study a number of other famous mediums, including Marthe Béraud of France, Leonora Piper of the United States, and Franek Kluski and Stefan Ossowiecki, both of Poland.

Many of Richet’s studies were under strictly controlled conditions, including the medium being strip-searched in a laboratory and behind locked doors, there being no possibility of confederates or hidden material smuggled into the room. “When I think of the precautions that we have taken, twenty times, a hundred times, a thousand times, it is unacceptable that we were all twenty times, a hundred times, a thousand times, misled,” Richet wrote of his research in psychical matters, further stating that all possible psychological explanations had to be exhausted before considering the idea of discarnate, or spirit, activity. 

An excellent introduction to Richet’s research and views was just recently released by White Crow Books. Titled Charles Richet: A Nobel Prize Winning Scientist’s Exploration of Psychic Phenomena, the book is authored by Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado, probably the most knowledgeable person in the world in the fields of psychical research and parapsychology. In this 218-page book, Alvarado focuses on Richet’s psychical research and his views, describing his book as “a reference work presenting many summaries of studies, bibliographical sources, and evidential claims about psychic phenomena for the pre-1922 period.” (Further discussion here is not necessarily from Alvarado’s book, as I draw from my own study of Richet.)

Metapsychics, as Richet referred to the study of psychical matters, was something to be approached in a purely scientific manner. “We must remain on the earth, take all theory soberly, and only consider humbly whether the phenomenon studied is true, without seeking to deduce the mysteries of past or future existences,” Richet wrote in his 1923 book, Thirty Years of Psychical Research. At the same time, Richet admitted that the “discarnate agency” explanation – one holding that there are intelligent beings intervening in our lives while exercising some action over matter – was the simplest explanation for some cases.

Many researchers of the day were convinced that Palladino was a charlatan, at best a mixed medium, sometimes producing genuine phenomena and other times cheating. However, Richet, who had more than 200 sittings with her, defended her. “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,” he wrote, going on to explain that in her trance condition “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.”

One of most interesting and intriguing stories about Palladino, involving Richet, was reported by Dr. Cesare Lombroso, a renowned Italian neuropathologist. As set forth in his 1909 book, After Death-What? Lombroso wrote: “On the evening of the 28th of September (1892), while her hands were being held by MM. Richet and Lombroso (referring to himself), she complained of hands which were grasping her under the arms; then, while in trance, with the changed voice characteristic of this state, she said, ‘Now I lift my medium up on the table.’ After two or three seconds the chair with Eusapia in it was not violently dashed, but lifted without hitting anything, on to the top of the table, and M. Richet and I are sure that we did not even assist the levitation by our own force. After some talk in the trance state the medium announced her descent, and (M. Finzi having been substituted for me) was deposited on the floor with the same security and precision, while MM. Richet and Finzi 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 and invisible hands referenced by Lombroso were supposedly those of John King, Palladino’s spirit control. However, since recognizing the presence of spirits was not “scientific,” John King was to them only some kind of secondary personality emerging from Palladino’s subconscious. Moreover, while those accepting the spirit hypothesis saw much of the so-called cheating as movements by John King controlling Palladino’s body, those not accepting the reality of spirits could only conclude that Palladino was pulling off some sleight-of-hand, whether called conscious or unconscious fraud. 

Marthe Béraud (given the pseudonym “Eva C”) also impressed Richet. With her, Richet witnessed many strange materializations, some of them appearing like cardboard cutouts. While many laughed at the photos of these materializations, wondering how any scientist could take them seriously, Richet responded: “The fact of the appearance of flat images rather than of forms in relief is no evidence of trickery. 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 formed from the cloudy substance.” This cloudy substance was otherwise referred to as ectoplasm by Richet.

Richet pointed out 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, he explained, came in the rudimentary phase, a sort of rough draft in the phase of building up. Often the materializations stalled in the rudimentary stage, apparently due to lack of power by the medium or by the spirits (assuming spirits), thereby resulting in bizarre manifestations that only invited more scoffs from the fundamentalists of science.

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.”

While clearly accepting the reality of mediumship and other psychic phenomena, Richet remained skeptical as to whether the evidence suggested spirits and survival. He said he would not allow himself to be blinded by rationalism and that he opposed the spiritist hypothesis only “half-heartedly” because he was unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory. “In very many cases the spiritist hypothesis is obviously absurd – absurd because it is superfluous – and again absurd because it assumes that human beings of very moderate intelligence survive the destruction of the brain,” he stated his position. “All the same, in certain cases – rare indeed, but whose significance I do not disguise – there are, apparently at least, intelligent and reasoned intentions, forces, and wills in the phenomena produced; and the power has all the character of extraneous energy.”

Is mortality vs. immortality really a superfluous matter? One can only wonder how such a brilliant man could have come to such a conclusion. Certainly, there is a paradox involved there. Also, Richet’s comment about humans of a very modest intelligence surviving death suggests that he was influenced by the religious belief that all spirits are omniscient or at least of a very high order, giving no heed to revelation of the time indicating that we transition with the same consciousness we had in the material life.

Sadly, the same “intellectual” mindset continues today. It is the “scientific” approach.
Then again, if, as Victor Hugo was supposedly told by a spirit, “doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit” (see blog of 11-11-19), we should be thankful for Richet’s wisdom. Truth is so abstract, so paradoxical.

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 7


Read comments or post one of your own
What Do We Remember After Death?

Posted on 09 December 2019, 9:47

When my wife said not long ago that I should try to communicate with her after I die, I pondered on what I might be able to do or say that would be evidential to her.  I told her that I am not sure how much I’ll remember or how much of that I would be able to get through a medium or otherwise.  Based on psychical research, it’s usually a matter of the communication being by ideas and symbols and then converted into language by a medium. The ideas and symbols are often misinterpreted. 

A few days after my wife made the request, I was attempting to clear much of the clutter in a closet, some of it old photos and papers inherited from my parents after their transitions.  I came upon a letter I wrote to them in 1958 from Quantico, Virginia.  I told them of attending a football game with two friends and then finding my car would not start after the game, requiring a new coil to be installed by a mechanic dispatched by Triple A. However, I have absolutely no recollection of the game, the friends, or the car problem.  I attempted to dig into my subconscious for some recollection of them, but I was unsuccessful. There were many other things in that and other letters my parents had saved that I could not recall.  However, I do have flashing memories of little incidents here and there, many of them seemingly as insignificant as that football game and car problem.  Why remember some and not others?  I searched for an emotional aspect in those I could remember and found little or none in most of what I do remember.

During my youth, I attended dozens of baseball games, from New York to San Francisco.  Yet, there are only two memories in my brain from all those games – two very vivid mental pictures.  One is getting the great Jackie Robinson’s autograph as he approached the clubhouse from the parking lot.  As Robinson was a boyhood idol, I can understand recalling that one.  However, the other memory has long mystified me and suggests some kind of precognition.  It involved another player from the Brooklyn Dodgers, Don Newcombe.

It was a hot July day in 1949 at the old Polo Grounds in New York with the Dodgers playing the New York Giants. I was 12 at the time and was seated in deep centerfield with my seven-year-old brother. Newcombe had just been called up from the minor leagues by the Dodgers a week or two earlier and I had never heard of him until that game, which, I believe, was only his second game in the majors.  When he left the game about the seventh inning, he departed through the centerfield exit to the clubhouse, right below me.  I remember reacting with a thought, “Wow! What a big guy he is.” For some mystifying reason, I took a mental snapshot of him, one that I can still picture very clearly and sharply, more than 70 years later. 

I was up close to many other standout ballplayers during my youth, filling an autograph book with 50 or more names, some now legendary.  But I have retained no such mental snapshot of any of them, only Newcombe, who, unlike Robinson, was not one of my favorites. That snapshot of Newcombe resurfaced in my consciousness every now and then over the next 45 or so years,  and then around 1994, a friend called me at work. Knowing that I was an old Dodgers fan, he said he was accompanying Don Newcombe to a talk he was giving to a local Alcoholics Anonymous group and wanted to bring him by my office the next day.  Newcombe and I had a long talk about the old Dodgers and I told him about remembering that 1949 game, which he did not seem to have a particular recollection of. We met again on another occasion to continue our discussion.

I remain mystified as to why the mental snapshot of Newcombe (below with me) on the field is the only one from so many games of baseball that I held on to. If it had not resurfaced in my consciousness over those 45 years before meeting him, I might understand it, but it was a recurring picture over those 45 years, a dozen or more times, and precognition is the only thing I can come up with.


Just a few days before writing this, a friend invited me to a pre-Christmas luncheon and his email invitation to me and several others asked that we come prepared to relate a memorable Christmas story.  While I’m reasonably certain I enjoyed every Christmas of my youth, I could recall no particular moment and had no particular mental snapshots of anything worth relating.

All that makes me wonder how effective I would be if, after death, I try to communicate something evidential through a medium.  What might I remember that would be very evidential to my wife?  If I do remember it, will the idea be properly interpreted and symbolized by the medium? Will I remember our unusual bank account password?  If I do remember it, will I be able to somehow get it through to the medium?  There is no symbol for the password.

After his death in 1925, Sir William Barrett, (below) a distinguished British physicist and a co-founder of the Society for Psychical Research, began communicating with his wife, Florence Barrett, a physician and dean of the women’s college of medicine in London, through several mediums, including trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard. He told her that he had to learn how to slow down his vibration in order to communicate with her.  “Sometimes I lose my memory of things from coming here,” he continued.  “I know in my own state but not here.  In dreams you do not know everything, you only get parts in a dream. A sitting is similar; when I go back to the spirit world after a sitting like this I know I have not got everything through that I wanted to say. That is due to my mind separating again.”


Sir William went on to explain that in the earth body we have the separation of subconscious and conscious and that when we pass over they join and make a complete mind that knows and remembers everything.  However, when he brings himself back into the physical sphere, the conscious and the subconscious again separate and he forgets much. “I cannot come with my whole self, I cannot.”

When Lady Barrett asked him to elaborate, Sir William pointed out that he has a fourth dimensional self which cannot make its fourth dimension exactly the same as the third.  “It’s like measuring a third dimension by its square feet instead of by its cubic feet,” he continued, “and there is no doubt about it I have left something of myself outside which rejoins me directly I put myself into the condition in which I readjust myself.”

At a later sitting, Sir William explained that when he was in his own sphere he would remember a name, but when he came into the conditions of a sitting he could not always remember it.  “The easiest things to lay hold of are what we may call ideas,” he communicated.  “A detached word, a proper name, has no link with a train of thought except in a detached sense; that is far more difficult than any other feat of memory or association of ideas. If you go to a medium that is new to us, I can make myself known by giving you through that medium an impression of my character and personality, my work on earth, and so forth.  Those can all be suggested by thought impressions, ideas; but if I want to say ‘I am Will,’ I find that is much more difficult than giving you a long, comprehensive study of my personality.  ‘I am Will’ sounds so simple, but you understand that in this case the word ‘Will’ becomes a detached word.”

Lady Barrett had wondered why he had identified himself as “William,” when she knew him as “Will,” and why he had called her “Florrie,” when he knew her as “Flo.”  He explained that it was a matter of being able to get certain names through a medium easier than other names. Much depended on the medium.
Sir William added that if he wanted to express an idea of his scientific interests he could do it in twenty different ways.  He could begin by showing books, then giving impressions of the nature of the book and so on until he had built up a character impression of himself, but to simply say “I am Will” was a real struggle for him.

Initially, Lady Barrett was skeptical and asked for proof that the communicator was her late husband. Sir William responded by mentioning a tear in the wall paper in the corner of his room and a broken door knob, both of which they had discussed a month or so before his death, and the fact that they had now been repaired.  This was especially evidential to Lady Barrett.

For further verification, Lady Barrett asked Sir William to tell her the circumstances of his death.  He accurately responded that he had died in the armchair in the drawing room as Lady Barrett accompanied a visitor to the front door downstairs.  She discovered his lifeless body upon her return.  Lady Barrett was certain that Mrs. Leonard could not have known such detail. Sir William added that when he passed over he had no pain at all and that he was at once met by his mother and father and others.

Not being able to think of anything that a medium might be able to properly interpret or symbolize, I told my wife that I might be at too high a vibration to effectively communicate with those at the earth vibration…or I could be at such a low vibration that I might not even realize I am dead, in which case I probably won’t be able to communicate at all.  If, however, I am at the right vibration and am able to remember the password and get it through, the skeptic will conclude that the medium successfully fished for it or even telepathically picked it up from wife’s brain.  So best not to even try.

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

Next blog post: Dec. 23  

Read comments or post one of your own
On Not Wanting to be a “None”

Posted on 25 November 2019, 11:33

Several times during the past 15 years I have had to sit in front of a hospital admissions clerk and answer questions – full name, address, date and place of birth, spouse’s name, doctor, insurance, prior surgeries, blood type, etc., etc.  I rattled off the answers each time until the clerk asked for my religion.  The first time I was asked the question I was stopped in my tracks as I didn’t realize that religion was a pertinent question for a hospital admission. It quickly dawned on me, however, that they needed my religion in case things go awry and they have to call in a pastor of some kind to administer last rites or whatever it is they do.  However, understanding the reason did not help me answer the question on the first admission or on subsequent admissions. I have had to ponder on my answer each time, because I refuse to be a “None.” 


According to a recent Pew Foundation report, 26 percent of Americans are “Nones,” which includes atheists (4%), agnostics (5%) and “nothing in particular” (17%).  The report further indicates that 68 percent of those surveyed believe in God.  The math suggests that 32 percent don’t believe in God.  Thus, there are some who declare a religion but don’t believe in God (6%), no doubt some Buddhists among them.

While I’m probably overgeneralizing, my stereotypical None is a cynical know-it-all wise guy (or gal), usually someone still wet behind the ears.  In more cases than not, Nones are former fundamentalist Christians who, with the help of their biology teachers, suddenly saw the light and realized that their parents had pulled the wool over their eyes and had duped them all those years about some big guy in the sky called God.  In dismissing an anthropomorphic God, they have automatically dismissed survival.  If someone brings up the overwhelming psychical research supporting survival, they turn to Wikipedia and then espouse the debunker’s view of it all, seemingly unable to grasp the fact that there is no a priori need to identify and prove God before weighing the evidence for survival.   

To the extent that I doubt the existence of an anthropomorphic (humanlike) God, I might be considered an atheist or at least an agnostic.  But you don’t have to believe in an anthropomorphic God to believe that consciousness survives death, and that is, or should be, the governing factor behind the question in the first place.  If there is a God but no afterlife, what is the point of believing in God?  I may be an atheist by a broad definition of the word, but I am not a nihilist.

On the other hand, not believing in an anthropomorphic God but believing that consciousness survives death does provide life with meaning, although one might see God as some kind of Cosmic Consciousness or Creative Force.  “Neither a person nor a nation can exist without some higher idea,” wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky, (below) the renowned Russian philosopher and author of Crime and Punishment. “And there is only one higher idea on earth, and it is the idea of immortality of the human soul, for all other ‘higher’ ideas of life by which humans might live derive from that idea alone.”


In effect, we can go on and on trying to prove God and never get anywhere, as it is all circumstantial evidence.  As pioneering psychologist William James put it in his classic, The Varieties of Religious Experience, “…so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term.”  As I interpret that, we should look at the evidence coming to us from studies of mediumship, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, and other psychic phenomena suggesting the survival of consciousness and forget about trying to find evidence of God. 
If I were asked by a Pew researcher if I believe in God, I wouldn’t know how to answer the question. I’d have to request clarification.  “Do you mean an anthropomorphic God or some kind of Creative Force that is beyond human comprehension?” would be my question.  Complete silence would likely be the immediate reaction.

I can imagine the perplexed reaction of the admissions clerk if I had hit her with my concerns or questions.  I’m pretty sure her job description doesn’t call for analyzing a person’s philosophical views and condensing them down to one word.  All she wanted was that one word to fill in the blank. I could have simplified things by declaring myself as a None, but I just couldn’t bring myself to such a label. 

I considered telling the clerk that I am a spiritualist, making sure that she understood that I am a spiritualist (with a small “s” and not a capital “S”).  That is, I don’t belong to a Spiritualist church of any kind; I’m a spiritualist to the extent that I am not a materialist.  But a spiritualist (with a small “s”) is not really a religion, so that would not be a proper answer.  It might be as confusing as telling her that our 33rd president was Harry S Truman, not Harry S. Truman, i.e., no period after the S.

I still have a very vivid recollection of the time I attended a luncheon sponsored by a “lawyers for Christ” group and when the president of the organization was told by a friend that I authored a few books dealing with mediumship.  She asked me how I could live with myself before she did an immediate about-face and walked away in disgust, no doubt wondering how such an agent of Satan could be in their midst.

I also considered telling the admissions clerk that I am a panentheist, but that is more a philosophy than a religion and I might have to explain how a panentheist differs from a pantheist. I doubt that I would be up to that, even if she were interested in an explanation. 

I further considered that not wanting to be a None was a display of egoism on my part – wanting to be something rather than nothing.  A truly spiritual person would bask in the humility of being a mere nothing; only a proud person would insist on being something. 

I recalled the words of the “Master” in the classic Zen in the Art of Archery that one must become “egoless” if he is to hit the target.  That led me to the wisdom of Shivas Irons in Golf in the Kingdom, when Shivas told Michael, “Ye try too hard and ye think too much…Let nothingness into your shots.”  In spite of those flashing thoughts, pride got the best of me and I refused to declare myself a None. I could accept being a simple None, but I didn’t want to be a cynical wise-guy, know-it-all None.

Although all those thoughts took less than a second or two on that first admission, the pause was long enough for the admissions clerk to look away from her computer screen and at me in anticipation of my answer. As the hospital was run by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, I wondered if the clerk might be of that denomination and further wondered if she might conclude that I am a heathen of some kind.  By dictionary definition, I probably am a heathen, but, here again, my ego prevailed and I did not want to be thought of as such.  Being a heathen might be worse in her eyes than being a spiritualist.

I couldn’t take up any more of the clerk’s time, so I had to come up with an answer.  So I told her to put “Christian” without denomination.  Even though I don’t believe in the atonement doctrine, the bodily resurrection, the inerrancy of the Bible,  and some other Christian beliefs, I do believe in the basic principles taught by Christ and set forth in the New Testament, e.g., Do unto others…, Love thy neighbor….,By their fruits you shall know them….etc., and I look to Jesus as the “Chairman of the Board” on the Other Side. 

I accept the words of the group soul known as Silver Birch, who said, “There has never been on earth anyone through whom the manifestation of the spirit has been greater than through the Nazarene.  There has never been any through whom the laws have revealed themselves as so great an intensity as the Nazarene.”  So even if a garden-variety Christian priest or minister shows up on my hospital deathbed, I am prepared to welcome him or her. It’s probably best, however, that I not mention my “demonic” beliefs derived from psychical research.

Next blog post:  December 2

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.



Read comments or post one of your own
Why Doubting the Afterlife is a Good Thing

Posted on 11 November 2019, 9:46

One of the arguments made by so-called skeptics in opposition to the belief that consciousness survives death is that if there is an omniscient God behind it all “He” should be able to do a better job of providing proof of “His” existence and that of an afterlife. They ignorantly assume that there is no reason not to know with absolute certainty that this life is part of a larger life.

When Victor Hugo, (below) the renowned French author and poet, asked a spirit claiming to have been Martin Luther when in the flesh why God doesn’t better reveal himself, the reply came:  “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.”


As I interpret those metaphorical words, it would not be to our benefit to know with certainty that this life is part of a larger life as the lessons learned from our free-will choices would not be as meaningful if our actions are based on the promise of reward or the fear of punishment in that larger life.  It might be likened to parents wanting to teach their children moral excellence based on kindness, love, and sympathy rather than out of expectation of reward or fear of punishment.

“Man, do not complain about the fact that you doubt,” Luther further advised Hugo. “Doubt is the specter that holds the flaming sword of genius above the gateway of the beautiful.”

Similar messages have come to us through other credible mediums. Communicating through the trance mediumship of Dr. George T. Dexter during the early 1850s, the famous scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg said: “What would be the benefit conferred on man by opening to his comprehension all the mysteries of spirit life and all the beauties of the spheres – revealing the truths belonging to his material and spiritual nature, if we were not able to teach him how that life on earth should be directed; how to govern his passions, how to progress, how to live that his death may be productive of life everlasting in happiness?”

French educator and researcher Allan Kardec received this message: “The wisdom of Providence is seen in this progressive march of human conviction in regard to the continuance of our existence beyond the grave.  If the certainty of a future life had been permitted to man before his mental vision was prepared for such a prospect, he would have been dazzled thereby, and the seductions of such a certainty, too clearly seen, would have led him to neglect the present life, his diligent use of which is the condition of his physical and moral advancement.”

I like the way Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck, (below) the 1911 Nobel Prize winner in literature, put it: “We need have no hope that any one will utter on this earth the word that shall put an end to our uncertainties.  It is very probable, on the contrary, that no one in this world, nor perhaps in the next, will discover the great secret of the universe.  And, if we reflect upon this for even a moment, it is most fortunate that it should be so. We have not only to resign ourselves to living in the incomprehensible, but to rejoice that we cannot get out of it.  If there were no more insoluble questions nor impenetrable riddles, infinity would not be infinite; and then we should have for ever to curse the fate that placed us in a universe proportionate to our intelligence.  All that exists would be but a gateless prison, an irreparable evil and mistake.  The unknown and the unknowable are necessary and will perhaps always be necessary to our happiness. In any case, I would not wish my worst enemy, were his understanding a thousand-fold loftier and thousand-fold mightier than mine, to be condemned eternally to inhabit a world of which had surprised an essential secret and of which, as a man, he had begun to grasp the least tittle.”


As I see it, absolute certainty means a person is 100-percent sure of something, that there is no doubt in his or her mind that consciousness survives death.  Below that 100-percent plateau are various degrees of faith, ranging from blind faith to true faith, or conviction.  Conviction seems to be best applied to those who have at least a 97.5-percent certainty that consciousness survives death based on evidence that has come to us through research in such areas as trance mediumship, clairvoyance, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, deathbed visions, past-life studies, and other psychic phenomena as carried out by men and women of science under controlled conditions. I put my conviction at 98.8-percent certainty, or 1.2-percent doubt. 

While no single case can stand alone as proof of survival, the cumulative evidence from them all strongly suggests survival.  It can be said to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal justice system.  If not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it most certainly meets the much lower standard of a “preponderance of evidence,” which is applied by our civil court system.  Of course, many who subscribe to a religion and proceed on blind faith would say that they know with absolute certainty that life goes on because their “good book” says so.

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

All well and good if humanism – morality without religion – influences enough non-believers and further provides the necessary peace of mind and happiness, especially in times of trial and tribulation.  However, based on the hedonism we are witnessing in today’s world, humanism clearly fails the masses. “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, a humanist philosopher.  Younger generations may find all that difficult to comprehend as the real trial comes during old age.

To again quote the pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung: “Leaving aside the rational arguments against any certainty in these matters, we must not forget that for the most people it means a great deal to assume that their lives will have an indefinite continuity beyond their present existence.  They live more sensibly, feel better, and are more at peace. One has centuries, one has an inconceivable period of time at one’s disposal.  When then is the point of this senseless mad rush?”

The group soul known as Imperator which communicated with William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest, during the latter decades of the nineteenth century, told Moses that there is a point beyond which it is impossible for them to present evidence.  “We have frequently said that God reveals Himself as man can bear it.  It must needs be so. He is revealed through a human medium, and can only be made known in such measure as the medium can receive the communication.  It is impossible that knowledge of God should outstrip man’s capacity.  Were we now to tell you – if we could – of our more perfect theology it would seem to you strange and unintelligible.  We shall, by slow degrees, instill into your mind so much of truth as you can receive, and then you shall see your present errors. But that is not yet.  Indeed, since the conception which each frames for himself is to him his God, it cannot be that revelation can be in advance of capacity. It is in the nature of things impossible.”

Next blog post:  November 25

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.

Read comments or post one of your own
Does “Oneness” in the Afterlife Mean Loss of Individuality?

Posted on 28 October 2019, 22:03

For those who accept the strong evidence that consciousness survives death, there remains a very big question relative to the nature of that consciousness – namely, does the soul retain its individuality or does it merge into some kind of Oneness with the Creative Force and in so doing lose its individuality?  If the soul does lose its individuality, is such a state any more desirable than total extinction at physical death?

Based on an abundance of spirit revelation coming to us over the past two centuries, it appears fairly clear that we awaken on the Other Side with much the same personality as that we had in the earth life.  We are not suddenly transformed to angels or devils, as orthodox religions teach.  There are many realms or planes in the afterlife, not just the heaven and hell, or heaven, purgatory and hell, of major religions.  But the question then becomes whether we gradually lose that individuality as we spiritually evolve to higher and higher realms.  If such is the case, then the survival of consciousness at death is just a matter of extending consciousness until a more distant obliteration.

“….you will never lose your identity,” said the spirit claiming to be Emanuel Swedenborg, the eighteenth-century scientist and mystic who communicated through the mediumship of Dr. George Dexter (as recorded by John Edmonds, of the New York State Supreme court during the early 1850s). “ If God designed to absorb all souls into himself, there would have been no necessity at first to give off from himself distinct identical germs, possessing all the characteristics of independence.  Therefore, as every spirit is independent in his mind and its exercise, how could God contravene his own institutes?  That is impossible, and from this I reason.”

Silver Birch, the name taken by the apparent group soul communicating through the mediumship of British journalist Maurice Barbanell, put it this way:  “The ultimate is not attainment of Nirvana.  All spiritual progress is toward increasing individuality.  You do not become less of an individual, you become more of an individual.  You develop latent gifts, you acquire greater knowledge, your character becomes stronger, more of the divine is exhibited through you.  The Great Spirit is infinite and so there is an infinite development to be achieved.  Perfection is never attained, there is a constant striving towards it.  You do not ever lose yourself.  What you succeed in doing is finding yourself.”

Silver Birch went on to say that such conditions are beyond human language and that we cannot understand it until we attain it.  “You do not lose your individuality in a sea of greater consciousness, but that depth of the ocean becomes included in your individuality,” Silver Birch added. 

In their 1920 classic, Our Unseen Guest, authors Darby and Joan, received communication from a Stephen L., a casualty of the Great War, who seemed to be an advanced spirit.  When Darby asked Stephen if Nirvana is the goal, Stephen replied that the Western World misunderstands the concept of Nirvana, believing it to be a doctrine of oblivion. “True Nirvana,” he said, “is consciousness at its height.”

Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, is said to have communicated through several credible mediums following his death in 1901. He communicated that he belonged to a “group soul,” one with common bonds.  “ We are all of us distinct,” he said through medium Geraldine Cummins, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.”  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.

As pioneering French psychical researcher Allan Kardec came to understand, this distinctive character of a spirit’s personality is in some sort obliterated in the uniformity of perfection, and yet it preserves its individuality.  The same might be said of humans, as one’s personality at age 75 is likely not the same as it was at 15, or even 25 or 35.

When William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who developed mediumistic abilities, asked the group soul known as Imperator about “absorption into the Source of Life” and said that such absorption is not especially appealing to him, Imperator harshly replied that no finite mind can grasp existence on the higher realms.  “Lower your eyes lest you be blinded,” Imperator cautioned him. “Trust us, the knowledge gained by the journey of life throughout its vast extent, will amply compensate for the toil of having existed.”

Perhaps Carl Jung, one of the pioneers of modern psychology and psychiatry, summed it up best when he 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.”  People who do this, Jung said, “live more sensibly, feel better, and are more at peace.” However, he added, “if there is something we cannot know, we must necessarily abandon it as an intellectual problem.” 

Next blog post:  November 11

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.


Read comments or post one of your own
Hooey, Humbug, Hocus Pocus: Not God’s Way?

Posted on 14 October 2019, 8:42

Some of the physical mediumship observed and reported by credible investigators of psychic phenomena during the latter half of the nineteenth century, even the early twentieth century, was so bizarre, so weird, so mind-boggling that even people who today accept the reality of clairvoyance and other psychic phenomena refuse to believe that it was genuine.  They agree with the so-called skeptics that it was just so much hooey, nothing more than what the skeptics called humbug, twaddle, bosh, or just plain rubbish.  I met a clairvoyant at a conference some years ago and she was of that mindset, reasoning that if she, a “medium,” couldn’t produce that kind of phenomena, then it couldn’t be real. 

I’m referring to the kind of mediumship discussed in my last blog here, that of the “Brothers Davenport,” who gave exhibitions throughout the United States and around the world in which they were securely tied and handcuffed and then freed themselves within a few seconds, and in which musical instruments floated around the room giving off popular tunes of the day.  There were also reports of levitations of tables and of the brothers themselves being raised high off the floor while upside down.


It all sounds so vaudevillian, just some very clever illusionists or magicians as we see on television today with David Copperfield or Michael Carbonaro. Still, so much of it was witnessed by renowned men and women of science, Nobel Prize winners included, under strictly controlled conditions, some of them calling for the medium to be stripped and her or his private parts to be thoroughly examined for hidden objects, and for the phenomena to be produced in a room foreign to the medium and for the medium’s hands to be held throughout the séance, the doors locked behind them.  Conditions could not have been more “scientifically” controlled.  As Professor Charles Richet, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in medicine, wrote, “Yes, it is absurd, but no matter – it is true.”

Another popular indictment of the phenomena was that if it were the work of God, or of high spirits, “He” or they most certainly would offer something more sacred, sensible and respectable than floating people, tables, and musical instruments.  Surely, they would provide something more pious or virtuous.  But would they?  Could they? Or can they? 

In San Francisco, during 1869, a reporter asked the spirit controlling the Davenport Brothers why spirits involved themselves with such trivial pursuits, such as musical instruments flying about and escaping from chains and ropes.  The reply came:  “Is it trifling to convince the world of the existence of the invisible universe, in which and by which alone all things subsist? To the Spirit world Truth is an actual entity, and it is the only important thing, and the search after it is the principal and most fascinating occupation of Spirits.  Truth is not measured, as to its value, by the same criteria as men measure it; that is, not by money utility, but by its ability to make Spirits and men more happy by adding to their means of enjoyment.  If the moving of guitars through the air without hands or human direct agency is a fact, it is just as useful a truth towards establishing the fact of communication between the spiritual and physical world as though a million of dollars were created from the ultimate gaseous substance from which gold was originally condensed in nature.”

Much the same question was put to the Imperator group communicating through the mediumship of William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest.  “Such phenomenal manifestations are necessary to reach men who can assimilate no other evidence,” Imperator responded through Moses.  “They are not any sort of proof of our claims, no evidence of the moral beauty of our teachings; but they are the means best adapted to reach the materialist.”

Imperator cautioned against applying terrestrial methods and standards to celestial matters, communicating, “You must remember that those of us who operate on the plane of spirit rather than of matter, do so on your earth under conditions that are very delicate and precarious. Matter has faded from our gaze, and when we return to the material plane, we see nothing of it.  All we see is the spirit.”

Imperator added that they could not present themselves for a photograph, but that they might commission other spirits to present an image of them.  Imperator further explained that physical manifestations were produced by the lowest and most earthly spirits.  “It would be absurd and foolish to you if the progressed spirits of humanity were to be put forward as the agents in what you contemptuously describe as a moving of furniture,” Imperator continued.  “The mighty ones, who even in the flesh were spirits sent from God to enlighten your world, are not the agents who can be used in bringing home evidence of the kind needed by your materialist.  They no longer have any power over gross matter, and would be unable to act.”

As discussed in the last post here, research suggests that the more advanced spirits are at too high a vibrational frequency to communicate directly with humans, and if and when they do communicate with humans they must have lower-level spirits relay the messages on to humans. These “lower-level” spirits are not necessarily morally corrupt spirits; they are simply not spiritually advanced and are closer to the earth frequency and therefore better able to reach us.  However, there apparently are devious low-level spirits who are more “earthbound” and capable of deception and tomfoolery. 

“These phenomena, though executed by inferior spirits, are often prompted by spirits of a more elevated order, for the purpose of convincing people of the existence of incorporeal beings, of a power superior to man,” explained pioneering French psychical researcher Allan Kardec, who communicated with many spirits. It was explained to Kardec by the spirits that the coarseness of the spirit body of the inferior spirits gives them more affinity with matter, making them more fitted for physical manifestations.  “It is for the same reason that a man of the world accustomed to the labor of intellect, whose body is frail and delicate, cannot carry a heavy burden like a porter,” he was told.
Johannes Greber, who left the Catholic priesthood to become a psychical researcher, also asked a communicating spirit about it.  “You ask to what purpose the low spirits hold such ‘a carnival at modern spiritistic seances,’ or why indeed they are allowed to do so,” the spirit responded to Greber.  “To this I can only reply that low spirits have the same latitude of conduct as low and wicked people.”  The communicating spirit went on to say that this “high carnival” often has a good effect in that it compels those who do not believe in God or a spirit world “to think of these matters, to relinquish their skeptical attitudes and to make a beginning of trying to discover the truth.”

The communicating spirit told Greber that materializations were also in this category.  “Even if the only interest in these things springs from a craving for new sensations, it often happens that many people do retain the impression that ultra-mundane forces must exist, and if this result is not all that could be desired,  it is at least better than if those individuals had not had their attention called at all to the Beyond.”

Dr. William Crawford, who taught mechanical engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, wrote that he witnessed hundreds of levitations and many other strange physical phenomena in his research of mediums. He referred to the spirits as “operators” and noted they seemed to be experimenting on their side as much as he was on the material side. “I admit that it is very difficult for the ordinary person to bring home to his consciousness the fact that these unseen beings can possibly be like himself in their make-up,” he explained. “There is an ingrained feeling in humanity that the beings inhabiting the after-death world must be far removed from us in mental qualities and characteristics – we feel that there should be a great advance in intellectual equipment over what they possessed here; that they should be, if not quite angels, at any rate not far removed from them.  Of course this instinctive feeling we all possess is due to centuries of religious instruction behind us; we feel that the next state must of necessity be either heaven or hell.  Hence it is rather a shock to us when we find the inhabitants of that other state not to be angels by any manner of means, not to exceed us appreciably in intelligence, but to be, in fact, only good-natured beings of much the same capacity as our familiar selves.” 

Crawford specifically asked the operators why they were involved in such séances and was told that such work helps them in their own development and that there were great crowds of spirit people looking on during the experiments.  “They told me this was the case at all our séances,” he added. “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.”

The earlier research by renowned British chemist Sir William Crookes with Daniel D. Home, who also produced floating musical instruments, levitations, and other strange phenomena suggested the same thing.  At a sitting on June 28, 1871, Home went into a trance state and a voice began speaking through him, informing Crookes and the others present that the conditions were not very good that night. When asked what the conditions should be, the reply was, “That is a matter in which we cannot help you much. 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….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.” 

Still, the skeptic asks why we don’t see such phenomena today. According to Imperator, it was the discarnate Benjamin Franklin, assisted by the discarnate Emanuel Swedenborg, who discovered the means of communicating with the material world by raps, i.e., so many raps for each letter of the alphabet or a set number of raps for “yes” or “no.”  “At the time of the discovery it was believed that all denizens of both worlds would be brought into ready communion,” Imperator explained. However, they assumed wrong, not taking into account the obstinate ignorance of man and the extent to which the lowest-level spirits would interfere with their efforts.  This ignorance and interference resulted in the disparagement of mediums and discredit to the cause.  Therefore, they then backed off.  The focus turned more to evidential trance mental mediumship and later to clairvoyance.

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. 28

Read comments or post one of your own
Were the Davenport Brothers Mere Humbugs?

Posted on 30 September 2019, 9:06

Any person who has dug deeply and objectively into the history of physical mediumship will likely recognize that the seemingly unnatural phenomena emanating through some people referred to as “mediums” went well beyond the limits of trickery or fraud.  No doubt there were some actual fakes, but there were too many credible investigators attesting to the strict controls surrounding the production of the phenomena as well as the integrity and virtue of a number of apparently genuine mediums.  Some esteemed men and women of science observed a particular medium on hundreds of occasions under conditions completely ruling out deception of any kind.  And yet, other scientists concluded that fraud was the only explanation, primarily because everything they observed defied known natural law.  Their careers would have been endangered had they subscribed to an unnatural or “unscientific” explanation.  Most of this was at a time when science was vanquishing religion, when Darwinism had seemingly shown the falsity of the Biblical accounts of creation and had brought other religious beliefs into question. 

In some cases a magician was called in to debunk the supposed medium, and usually these magicians came up with ways they “could have” simulated the phenomena.  To admit that the “medium” was capable of an illusion or “trick” beyond the capability of the debunking magician was, as with scientists and academicians, to imperil one’s reputation, not to mention his strong ego. 

Journalists and historians, wanting to appear intelligent and scientific, not as gullible fools buying into ridiculous “religious” superstition and folly, usually aligned themselves with the debunkers, completely ignoring the controlled studies by some researchers and recording only the verdicts of the debunkers.  Modern historians have further distorted the accounts in favor of fraud.  Such appears to have been the case with Ira and William Davenport of Buffalo, New York, known as the “Brothers Davenport.”

If we accept Wikipedia as a reliable source, as so many people do, the Davenports “were exposed as frauds many times.”  The stage magician John Nevil Maskelyne supposedly discovered how their spirit-cabinet illusion worked and demonstrated to an audience how he could recreate, without supernatural methods,  the brothers’ claims of being able to contact the dead. The Wikipedia entry further notes that showman P.T. Barnum included the Davenport Brothers in his book, The Humbugs of the World, and that Ira, the older of the brothers, confessed to Harry Houdini, the great illusionist, that he and his brother William had faked their spirit contacts. Several other debunkers are given as authorities,  including one not born until 1896, long after the death of William, and another born in 1944, long after the death of Ira. 

It is difficult to reconcile all that with the first-hand accounts gathered by N. Riley Heagerty in his most recent book, Wizards of the North: The Brothers Davenport

“The Davenport Brothers, above and beyond any other mediums in all of recorded Spiritualism, put their gifts to the ultimate test, traveling thousands and thousands of miles, including many cities of Europe, to demonstrate the reality of spirit power,” offers Heagerty, possibly the most knowledgeable person in the United States on the history of mediumship. “At their own expense they rented public halls and challenged the world at large to come and witness phenomena which passed the bounds of ordinary belief.  In so doing, they gained the admiration of the majority, but aroused the vile poison of the medium-hating thugs, and they were everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to condemn.”


If not mediums, the Davenports must have been greater illusionists than even Houdini, as they apparently pulled off their “tricks” much faster than Houdini did many years later.  One has to wonder why the Wikipedia writers preferred to offer only the arguments for fraud but then not recognize that the alternative was that they were perhaps the greatest illusionists or magicians of all time.

Ira was 16 and William 14 when their mediumistic abilities were first recognized in 1855. Their sister Elizabeth (Libby), only 10 at the time, is said to also have had the gift.  As recorded by two contemporary biographers of the brothers, Pascal B. Randolph and T. L. Nichols, M.D., various thumps, loud noises, cracks, and raps were heard around the Davenport house in Buffalo as early as 1846, before the advent of Spiritualism with the Fox Sisters of nearby Rochester, NY, but it wasn’t until after 1855 that the family began to recognize that some “invisible intelligence” was behind it all.  Once they recognized this and learned to communicate with the invisibles, there were many messages from deceased loved ones coming by means of both raps and automatic writing.  But it was the physical phenomena that seemed to impress everyone the most, including levitations, one in which Ira was seized by the unseen power and “was placed first upon the table, and then floated over the heads of all present, all around the room, coming in contact with the ceiling at the east end of the room, and in the twinkling of an eye, with the western end.  He floated nine feet clear of the floor, and every person in the room was offered the opportunity of feeling him while thus suspended in the air.”  Then, suddenly, both William and Libby were raised, “flitting hither and thither” in the air.

As their abilities developed, word spread of the “wonder boys” and people came from all over the country to witness the phenomena.  A Dr. Carter, who lived in their town, convinced them to tour the country and give exhibitions.  Unfortunately, entertainment was given priority over more evidential mediumship and the primary phenomena demonstrated at the exhibition involved the brothers being securely bound with cords or handcuffs, being placed in a cabinet, sometimes in a sack and nailed to the floor, and then freeing themselves almost instantaneously, seemingly something similar to the later “magic” acts of Houdini, although apparently much faster than Houdini. 

Another feature called for floating musical instruments, as many as six at one time,  playing popular music of the day.  Although audiences were amazed and awed, many assumed it was very clever conjuring, the work of illusionists. Newspaper reporters didn’t seem to know what to make of it.  “Independent of the high scientific mystery that attends this phenomena, there is a fund of amusement to those who do not aspire to look deeply into spiritual matters,” a reporter for the National Republican of Washington, D.C., wrote. 

“Their exhibitions have puzzled the brains and upset theories of some of our wisest men, and many have been constrained to admit that no human power could give such marvelous demonstrations, as have been witnessed the past week at Willard’s.”  So read the Washington, D.C. Chronicle in 1864 following their exhibition in the nation’s capital.

Their exhibitions took them as far west as San Francisco, south to Cuba and Puerto Rico, and then east to England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Egypt,  Saudi Arabia, India, and Australia.  They were touring in Australia when William died on July 1, 1877 at age 36.

The Brothers Davenport preceded more formal psychical research, but one of the scientists attesting to the genuineness of their phenomena was Professor James Mapes, a renowned chemist of the day and early investigator of psychic phenomena, who said that he conversed with the spirit John King, said to be a “control” for the brothers, for a half an hour through the mediumship of the brothers.  Mapes also claimed that his hand was seized in a powerful grasp by an invisible hand and that he observed a table levitated and carried over the heads of the sitters, then deposited in a distant part of the room. This information won’t be found at the Wikipedia entry on the brothers.

Drawing from Heagerty’s book and from several other references, I came upon the following information, none of which is mentioned in the Wikipedia article:

*Ira Davenport wrote the following to Houdini near the end of his life: “We never in public affirmed our belief in Spiritualism.  That we regarded as no business of the public, or did we offer our entertainment as the result of sleight-of-hand, or, on the other hand, as Spiritualism.  We let our friends and foes settle that as best they could between themselves, but, unfortunately, we were often the victims of their disagreement.”  (By no stretch does that statement translate to “faking their spirit contacts.”)

*Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the great mystery writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, befriended Houdini and exchanged many letters with him.  In one letter, Houdini wrote: “I was an intimate friend of Ira Erastus Davenport.  I can make the positive assertion that the Davenport Brothers never were exposed. I know more about the Davenports than anyone living….I know for a fact that it was not necessary for them to remove their bonds in order to obtain manifestations.”  (It should be noted that Houdini was born in 1874 and was only three-years-old when William Davenport died and their exhibitions came to an end.)

*Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, considered the “father of modern magic,” and the person who initially inspired Ehrich Weiss, aka Houdini, said: “The phenomena [of the Davenports] surpassed my expectations, and the experiments are full of interest for me. I consider it my duty to add they are inexplicable.”

*English scholar and explorer Sir Richard Burton said that he had been present at the performances of the clever conjurers Anderson and Tolmaque, but that they did not approach what he had observed with the Davenports.  “I have read and listened to every explanation of the Davenport ‘tricks’ hitherto placed before the English public,” he continued, “and, believe me, if anything would make me take that tremendous jump ‘from matter to spirit,” it is the utter and complete unreason of the reasons by which the ‘manifestations’ are explained.” (I assume he meant how they are explained by the debunkers.)

*Magician John Maskelyne, who, as noted above, supposedly simulated their methods to debunk them, is quoted as saying: “The Brothers Davenport did more than all other men to familiarize England with so-called Spiritualism, and before crowded audiences and under varied conditions they produced really wonderful feats.”

*A committee of four Harvard professors studied the Davenports in 1857, apparently with the intent of exposing them, but the committee never issued a report, probably because they were dumbfounded.  However, Dr. Silas Loomis, professor of chemistry and toxicology at Georgetown Medical College, also investigated them and wrote a long report saying that their manifestations were issued through some “new unknown force” with which he was not acquainted.

*The brothers were jailed at least twice, once for 30 days, for failure to obtain a magician’s license before their exhibitions.  They argued that they were not magicians and so didn’t require a license.  Heagerty wonders why they would be so principled.  If magicians, why not admit it?  Their exhibitions would likely have drawn just as many people, if not more, if they had advertised themselves as magicians. The idea that spirits of the dead were involved invited the disdain of the fundamentalist of both religion and science and likely discouraged many people from attending their exhibitions. 

There were also those who wondered why God, if “He” was attempting to offer evidence of a spirit world and man’s immortality, would choose such weird, bizarre and absurd methods as escaping from tight bondage and floating musical instruments in a vaudeville-like setting.  Couldn’t “He” come up with something more sensible and respectable?  That question will be discussed in the next post 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: October 14

Read comments or post one of your own
How the Eiffel Tower is Like the Spirit World

Posted on 16 September 2019, 9:48

“Why can’t a medium find out what happened to Flight 370?”  That was the question asked not long ago by a reader of one of my books. He was referring to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members presumed dead.  To this day, the final resting place of Flight 370 remains one of the greatest air mysteries of all time.

The reader was suggesting that someone should be able to go to a good medium and make contact with one of the pilots or passengers to find out what happened to them.  I inferred from our discussion that the reader assumed that spirits are omniscient, or all-knowing, which psychical research reveals, is clearly not the case. Some spirits, we are told, don’t know any more than they did when in the material world.  Nor are they sitting on some heavenly perch able to peer down and see all events taking place in the physical realm.  Quite a few don’t even know they are “dead.”  As I understand it, the spirit world is shaped something like the Eiffel Tower, (below) having a broad base and gradually narrowing to the top. As spirits advance toward the top, it becomes more and more difficult for them to communicate with the physical world.  This is because such communication is a matter of vibrational frequency.  To put it another way, the less-advanced, or less-evolved, spirits are closer in vibration to those of us in the physical world and therefore can communicate more effectively with us than advanced spirits.


If the Eiffel Tower is a valid simile, most spirits, or souls, it seems, are hovering, not far above the esplanade at ground level.  Earthbound souls are in something of a stupor, struggling to keep their feet on the ground, while slightly more developed souls are striving to make it to the first-floor observation deck at 187 feet. Those who are have reached the first deck have a better view of things than those below them, but it is mostly a local view and certainly does not extend to the Indian Ocean. They are within shouting distance of those still on the esplanade, but it requires a loud voice and harmonious wind conditions for those on the ground to hear them.  Only a few of them have voices strong enough to be distinctly heard by those on the ground and often those on the ground catch only a few words and just get the gist of the message. 

The more evolved souls – those who have reached the second observation deck at 377 feet – have an even better view of things but it is still far short of the Indian Ocean, and they are well beyond shouting distance from those on the esplanade.  Indications are, however, that they are sometimes able to communicate with humans on the esplanade by using souls on the lower deck as intermediaries, i.e., having the lower-level souls relay the messages to humans. It often happens that the soul on the first deck does not completely grasp the message from above and the person on the ground receives a distorted message or even a completely different one.

“All should remember the parlor game in which a few words are whispered into the ear of the one near you and from him to a third and a fourth person and so on, to find at the end that there is no resemblance to what was started,” explained Professor James Hyslop, one of the foremost psychical researchers of the last century, referring to the game charades.  “The same is likely to take place in spirit messages. The control (spirit intermediary) must put the message through and it will take the color of his or her mind.  Then it is doubly colored by the subconscious, sometimes by the normal consciousness of the medium as well. The fact that the incidents prove the personal identity of a deceased person and are not known by the medium suffices to justify the spiritistic hypothesis, though this origin does not prove the purity of the message, or that it came from the communicator directly.  It may have been subjected to all sorts of modifications, phonetic, visual, or interpretative.”  Hyslop (below) further explained that much communication between spirits and as received by human mediums is by means of thought-transference, or “pictographic” in form, not in language as we know it.  Such pictographic communication is subject to frequent misinterpretation.


The lessons of psychical research suggest that the very advanced, or high spirits – those metaphorically on the highest deck of the Eiffel Tower, at 907 feet – see much more of what is going on in the physical world than those on the lower decks.  They have easy access to the antennae above them and can tune in to pretty much anywhere. Their focus, however, is no longer on individuals, as may be the case with lower-level spirits, but on humanity as a whole.  While they apparently try to influence humanity in a positive direction, they are not permitted to interfere with our free-will challenges and lessons, fully recognizing that overcoming adversity is the best way to learn and spiritually evolve. 

“It is necessary that afflictions come,” said the obviously advanced spirit with the name Imperator, who communicated through the mediumship of William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest, during the latter part of the nineteenth century.  “Jesus knew and taught that. It is necessary for the training of the soul.  It is as necessary as physical discipline for the body.  No deep knowledge is to be had without it.  None is permitted to scale the glorious heights but after discipline of sorrow.  The key of knowledge is in spirit hands, and none may wrest it to himself but the earnest soul which is disciplined by trial.”

Moses was told that Imperator headed up a “band of 49 spirits” – apparently a “group soul” – and that his messages were actually relayed through lower-level spirits making up the group soul.  We might infer that Imperator was on the top deck of the Eiffel Tower, while others in his band, elevated but not so advanced, were on the middle deck, perhaps some on the lower deck in order to facilitate communication with those still on the esplanade.  It may also be that Moses was able to raise his vibration rate to something approaching the lower deck of the Eiffel Tower, thereby receiving communication directly from the middle-level spirits.  The messages handed down through the Imperator group were not bits and pieces of information coming from a recently departed loved one to a human, as is more common in today’s clairvoyant-type mediumship; they were teachings aimed at helping humans better understand the meaning of life and see the bigger picture.

The group soul called “Silver Birch,” which communicated through the mediumship of Englishman Maurice Barbanell, said much the same thing as Imperator:  “You do not develop the spirit when everything is easy and smooth, but when you have difficulties.  But there are times when we feel justified in interfering with your judgment.  I would interfere if a very vital principle were involved.  If it meant that my work through my medium would be interrupted, then I would interfere so that the channel would still be free.  But when the problems only involve my medium’s own evolution, then they are his responsibility and he must work them out for himself.”
The afterlife hierarchy described above does not suggest that the lower-level spirit is earthbound or evil in any way, only that he or she is not all that spiritually evolved. On the other hand, there are indications that advanced spirits can temporarily come down to a lower vibration to do missionary work with those who those who have “spiritual ears” and to assist in communication. It has been recorded that a spirit coming down from a higher level is much like a human trying to hold his/her breath under water.  The spirit can hold on to the lower vibration for only a short period. 

Back to Flight 370, the research indicates that even a gifted medium cannot simply dial up a deceased person. There must be a sympathetic link of some kind – a living loved one or some person with a special connection to the spirit present with the medium in order to make contact.  However, if such a link were made between a victim of Flight 370 and a living person, there is no reason to assume that the communicating spirit, especially if just a passenger, would know where the plane went down.  Why would we expect the communicating spirit to know the coordinates of the final resting place of the plane or how the plane went astray?  If a pictograph message were to come to a medium (or to a psychic) showing a body of water, it would be meaningless.  It is not nearly as simple as the skeptics think it should be.

To again quote Imperator:  “We are not permitted to interfere in the chain of cause and effect; to save man from the consequences of his sin; to pander to idle curiosity; to change the world from a state of probation.”

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. 30

Read comments or post one of your own
Explaining the Death of a Parent to a Child

Posted on 02 September 2019, 8:56

When my friend Dave was asked by his nine-year-old granddaughter what happens to us when we die, he struggled and stumbled in his response, realizing that it required an answer that went beyond the trite, “we go to heaven and live with the angels.”  Fortunately, Dave’s daughter came to his rescue and explained that people have many beliefs about the afterlife, leaving the door open for her to learn about them and explore her own understanding of what happens when we die, at which point Dave told his granddaughter that he would be happy to talk to her about the subject anytime. 

My discussion with Dave was prompted by a movie in which a young girl, about five, lost her mother to an auto accident and was told by her grandmother that “she will live on in your heart.”  I had heard that hackneyed expression more than a few times before and wondered how a child is to interpret it.  It does not necessarily imply that the parent had survived death in a larger life and was still with her, and it might well be interpreted to mean that the parent was now totally extinct and nothing more than a fading memory.

I can still remember the anxieties and fears I experienced 76 years ago when my step-grandfather died.  My parents didn’t know what to tell me, and I, just six at the time, didn’t know what questions to ask.  It was all hush-hush. The trepidation multiplied 100-fold when we visited the crematorium and I struggled with grasping that what was left of my grandfather was now contained in a little metal box, one surrounded by hundreds of other little metal boxes with “people” in them. 

Is there a comforting response concerning death for a child? After discussing it with Dave, I decided to put the concern to other friends and to limit it to children under seven (the generally accepted age of reason), leaving the older children for another discussion.  I hypothesized a situation in which my friend could go back in time with his or her present experience and knowledge and attempt to explain to a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son the death of the other parent in a traffic accident. 

I began with my most skeptical friend, Dale, who rejects all the psychical research suggesting survival that is often discussed at this blog, as “unscientific.”  “Kids, I’ve got some really terrible news,” Dale thought out his reply. “Your mommy was killed in a traffic accident. I don’t understand how or why it happened but it did. Come here and let’s hug. (We would all break down and cry). I’d answer that Mommy wouldn’t want us to see her and how she was hurt as it would only make us more sad. We will cremate her body as those were her wishes. Nobody really knows what happens when you die; maybe she’ll go to heaven and we’ll see her again some day. Meanwhile, remember all the nice things she did.”

Dale said that such reflects his belief and he doesn’t see it as giving the children false hope, like telling them there is a Santa Claus. Moreover, he would want them to think about all the good things their mother did and not dwell too much on the loss, at the same time realizing that thoughts of their mother would come back to them from time to time, when they’d just have to be strong and be grateful for the time they had with her.

Dale’s approach seems in line with that of mainstream psychology, as I was able to gather from the Internet. It avoids any discussion of consciousness surviving death.  “Kids this young often have a hard time understanding that all people and living things eventually die, and that it’s final and they won’t come back,” we read at “So even after you’ve explained this, kids may continue to ask where the loved one is or when the person is returning. As frustrating as this can be, continue to calmly reiterate that the person has died and can’t come back.”  More bluntly, as I interpret it, tell the child that the loved is extinct and to get on with life.

Keith remembers that when he was about four-years-old his great-grandfather died and he was told that it is like “falling asleep.”  He feels that this euphemism is still effective with the younger children.  “You know your mom was in her car, don’t you?” he provides his possible explanation.  “On the way a lorry did not stop at the traffic lights, and it hit your mom’s car and she was knocked out.  That is like falling asleep when you get a bang on the head.  By the time she arrived in hospital she had gone to sleep forever.  We all do that sooner or later.  So now she is at the hospital and won’t be coming home again, so you won’t have the chance to see her until you also fall asleep forever, when you are very old.”

When the children are a little older, Keith, who does not subscribe to any accepted religion nor accept the standard Christian version of heaven and hell, would use the word “died” instead of falling asleep and would explain that death is not the end of us, and that Mom is quite possibly living with her family on the other side and waiting patiently for her children to join her.

Glenda recalls the time she was working as a hospice social worker and made a call to a home where a young father fatally shot himself.  The man’s three-or four-year-old son kept asking what was wrong and was told by the police and others that everything was fine and not to worry.  “I thought it was doing a disservice to the child to lie to him and make him distrust his own observations and fears,” she says, adding that her advice in that case was not accepted and she was not allowed to follow up on it. 

“They also need assurance that they will always be cared for and safe,” Glenda continues. She does not agree with Keith in suggesting that death is like falling asleep, as it might cause the child to fear wanting to go to sleep. 

“My answer is pretty simple,” Mike replies.  “If they haven’t reached the age of reason, and assuming they still have the other parent, I would say to them, ‘God called Mommy home to help Him in Heaven. She still loves you and thinks of you and watches over you from Heaven; and you can talk to her every night before you go to bed when you say your prayers. And she will hear you. And you’ll will see her again when you someday go back to Heaven. In the meantime, I will take care of you   Talk to me any time you want. I always have time to listen to you, and help you. And I love you very much.’”

Like Mike, Norm does not accept the humdrum heaven of orthodox religions, but he believes in keeping it simple for children of that age and expanding on it when they become a little older.  “[I would] explain that an accident is like falling down and scraping your knee, but sometimes more serious because the person will not get better,” Norm states. “God wants her to live with him to make her feel better until all of us can be together again and happy forever.  Meanwhile, she sees you and knows what is happening to you, and she will be at all your birthday parties.”

When the children do indicate that they can comprehend a somewhat more complex idea, Norm would expose them to the evidence for survival as developed over the past 170 years by psychical researchers.  “In other words, I would guide them along the way as far as they might want to go, not indoctrinate them. If they chose a traditional religious faith after all that, I would not attempt to proselytize them. However, I would be happy to discuss the ridged dogmas of both organized religion and materialistic science.”

Getting back to Dave, he would tell the children that their mother has gone to a very special place where she is living with God, who is taking care of her.  “In her new home, she lives in a Spirit body that we can’t see, but she can see us, and she will be living with us and watching over us to give us all her love,” he explains it.  “It’ll be sad for us because we can’t see her anymore, but anytime you want to talk to her you can and she will hear every word you say and she will try to find a way to answer you.  When we die, we will all go see and live with God and Mommy forever.”

Like Norm, Dave would later introduce them to the evidence “that explains and reinforces this belief, educating them on the context of the world’s major religions, including reductionism and the role of science in explaining our unknowns.”

Lewis would tell the children that their mother “had gone to a better world, a happier world, the place we’ll all go to when we leave this one.  I’ll tell them she did not want to leave early and that she had no control over what happened, and that she’ll miss them and think about them for as long as they are alive. And they should talk to her, for she will pay them visits from time to time even though they probably won’t be able to see her.  She will always love them and help them in every way she can.”  Lewis adds that he would be in steady contact with his deceased wife, “sending her my love and assuring her that we love her and wish her every happiness where she is.”

Richard would explain to the children that their mother was killed in a terrible auto accident.  “She can no longer be with us,” he would continue, “but she would want us to be very strong and help each other understand.  She is actually in a ‘wonderful place’ called heaven and her “spirit’ is watching over us every day.  She loves and misses us very much.”  To support his statement, Richard would familiarize them with the stories of Colton Burpo (“Heaven is for Real”) and Akiane Kramirik’s “Portrait of Jesus.”  I would add Karen Herrick’s “Grandma, What is a Soul,” to the list of books that might help children understand death. 

All of my friends had more to say on the subject, including how they would explain it to the children at an older age, but space does not permit more here. Readers are invited to share their thought on the subject in the comments section below.

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:  September 16

Read comments or post one of your own
Choosing Truth over Fact and Holey Jeans

Posted on 19 August 2019, 8:33

When, during a recent presidential campaign speech, former American vice-president Joe Biden said that he chooses “truth over facts,” it was assumed that he blundered and meant to say that he chooses “fact over fiction.” I’m not so sure it was a gaffe.


A number of facts do not necessarily add up to truth.  We have to consider all the facts, including facts science has yet to recognize. In effect, truth may often be greater than the facts.  “The spiritual theory is the logical outcome of the whole of the facts,” said biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, (below) co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution.  “Those who deny it, in every instance with which I am acquainted, either from ignorance or disbelief, leave half the facts out of view.  That theory is most scientific which best explains the whole series of phenomena; and I therefore claim that the spirit hypothesis is the most scientific, since even those who oppose it most strenuously often admit that it does explain all the facts, which cannot be said of any other hypothesis.”


As set forth in the 2017 book, Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments,  Justin P. McBrayer, a professor of philosophy at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, laments the state of morality education in our schools, noting that the majority of college freshman view moral claims as mere opinion – true or untrue only relative to a culture.  He explains that our public schools now teach that all claims are either fact or opinion, and that moral claims fall into the latter camp.  Moreover, all facts must be tested and proved before they can be accepted as truths.

“Things can be true even if no one can prove them,” McBrayer counters the current mindset in our educational system. “For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it.”  Conversely, he adds, many things once “proved” turned out to be false.  McBrayer does not go so far as to consider the maze we get into once we ask about the nature of “proof.”  Are we talking about evidence that provides “absolute certainty,” that meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt,” threshold,  or even the much lower standard of proof based on a “preponderance of evidence”?  Then again, it could be “proof”  based on personal experience.

The bottom line, as I interpret it from what McBrayer and others offer in this book, is that that there are no moral facts, and thus there are no moral truths. To view it another way, if it is only an opinion that murdering someone is morally wrong, if it is only an opinion that all men are created equal, if it is only an opinion that copying homework assignments is wrong, then there are no real truths about what is right and no one should be held accountable.  At least that seems to be the message young people are being indoctrinated with in our schools these days, according to McBrayer.  To be politically correct, the “truths” once set down in “good books” of various religions are no longer facts, just opinions.  That being the case, should we be surprised at all the moral chaos in the world today?

McBrayer applauds our educators on attempting to teach students to act humanely and with integrity, but he sees the curriculum as setting up student for “doublethink” in that “they are told there are no moral facts in one breath even as the next tells them how they ought to behave.”

Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French at Princeton, offers an interesting observation in suggesting that many Americans born after around 1980, particularly middle-class Caucasians, live “ironically.”  If I am interpreting her correctly, she is referring to Socratic Irony, which means pretending to be ignorant, or admitting one’s own ignorance, in order to expose the ignorance of another or perhaps of the establishment.  As Wampole sees it, these younger generations seem to be suffering from an “existential malaise” and participating in some kind of “competition to see who can care the least.”  As I further interpret it, this existential malaise is in great part a result of old facts now becoming opinion and the younger generation not knowing what to believe.  This non-belief leads to cynicism and attachment to the frivolous and the kitschy.

A recent poll carried out in the UK has 89 percent of people aged 18-29 saying that their lives are meaningless and without purpose.  For those over the age of 60, the number was “only” 55 percent.

Since most young people appear to be “one with their phones,” I have not had the opportunity to interact with many of them in recent years; but when Wampole mentioned that they often attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or ugly, I wondered if I finally had an answer to what has been for me one of life’s greatest mysteries – why so many young people wear raggedy and frayed jeans with holes in the knees and why they put pearls in their tongues and camouflage their bodies with ink. Those things now make some sense, I think. That is, they have not been able to find any meaning in life and have made a “preemptive surrender,” one that takes the form of reaction rather than action.  Actually, I’m still not sure I get it.

I believe we are seeing what renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl referred to 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.

Peg O’Connor, a professor of philosophy and gender, women, and sexuality studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, contributes a very interesting essay to the book while drawing from William James and what he called “world sickness.”  O’Connor calls the first stage of world sickness “pleasure diminished” and the second stage “pleasure destroyed.”  The final stage she names “pathological melancholy.”  In this stage, the person is no longer able to recognize joy and happiness.  “This melancholy leads to a kind of utter hopelessness about the particular condition in which one lives and the meaning of life in general,” she explains, adding that at this point “nothing is worth anything.”

Many of the other 56 philosophers and deep thinkers contributing to this book discuss the connection, or lack of, between a belief in God and morality and ethical behavior.  Unless I missed it, they all seem to assume that finding God is a prerequisite to finding meaning in life.  Not one of them considers the strong evidence supporting the survival of consciousness at death independent of the existence or non-existence of a God, god or gods.   
As biologist Wallace recognized, the inductive approach of psychical research is scientific.  It involves looking at all the evidence coming to us through various paranormal events and closely examining this evidence to see if it suggests a spirit body and survival of the consciousness at death.  The evidence can never amount to absolute proof.  Very few things addressed by science have absolute proof.  The best we can hope for is evidence that strongly suggests survival. 

If “God” exists, but consciousness does not survive bodily death, so what?  Where does that get us?  As with atheism, humankind is still marching toward the abyss of nothingness and there is no purpose in life beyond making it better for the next generation, which will also fall into the abyss.  When we stop to ask, to which generation full fruition, it seems pretty pointless.  In fact, making things easier and better for future generations only appears to rob life of its challenges and learning experiences – things which psychical research suggest are the reasons for the detour from the real life.
On the other hand, if consciousness survives in a spirit world, then there is something to hope for, irrespective of whether there is a “God” behind it all.  Meaning in life is derived from a belief in life after death, not from the existence of a God.  It is the larger life that Christ came to announce, not the reality of a father figure sitting on a throne while demanding worship and threatening to flog anyone who dares not bow in reverence to his dictates.

Psychical research gives real meaning to the words of the Bible and helps us move from blind faith to conviction, or true faith.  True faith is not the blind faith of orthodox religion.  It is based on many facts and a strong conviction that those facts add up to truth, even if we can’t comprehend some of the facts.

Next blog post:  Sept. 2

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.

Read comments or post one of your own
The Horses that Defied Science

Posted on 05 August 2019, 8:08

There have been many stories of very intelligent and otherwise gifted animals over the years, but I’ve not heard of any more mind-boggling than that of the Elberfeld horses (below) of Germany (then Central Prussia). As the well-documented story goes, these horses could figure out square roots, cube roots, even fourth-power roots of numbers with six or seven figures. They could also communicate in German and French.  Professor Edouard Claparède, a distinguished Swiss psychologist of the University of Geneva, called the phenomenon “the most sensational event that has happened in the psychological world.”


As the story goes, in 1900, Wilhelm von Osten of Elberfeld taught his horse, Hans, a Russian stallion, mathematics.  He would place skittles, or bowling pins, in front of Hans and count, then ask Hans to strike as many blows with his hoof as there were skittles in front of him.  “The results were astonishing,” Dr. Claparède reported.  “The horse was capable not only of counting, but also of himself making real calculations, of solving little problems.”  But Hans was more than a mathematician.  He was a musician, able to distinguish between harmonious and dissonant chords.  And he had an extraordinary memory, able to tell the date of each day of the current week.

However, following Claparède’s investigation,  Oskar Pfungst, representing a committee of 24 professors appointed to study Hans, reported that the horse merely obeyed visual clues given by von Osten, whether conscious or unconscious. This became known as the “Clever Hans effect,” a term still used by animal trainers today.  It was later revealed that of the 24 professors on the committee, only two of them actually observed Hans.  Science was apparently satisfied with the committee’s conclusion and that pretty much put an end to all the excitement concerning Hans.

After von Osten’s death in 1909, Hans was acquired by Karl Krall, a wealthy merchant, who also brought two Arabian stallions, Muhamed and Zarif, and began to train them in the same manner von Osten had taught Hans.  Within a matter of weeks, Muhamed was doing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and before four months had passed he was able to figure square and cube roots.  Krall then taught Muhamed spelling and reading. Zarif was a little slower in learning, but was eventually able to do almost everything Muhamed was capable of, as the aging Hans went into retirement. 
Having heard much about them, Maurice Maeterlinck, (below) a world-famous Belgian author, playwright, and Nobel prizewinner for literature, decided to visit Elberfeld and observe the horses for himself. After he was introduced to Muhamed by Krall, the horse was asked to spell Maeterlinck’s name (so many taps of the hoof for each letter of the alphabet).  Muhamed began by lifting his hoof and tapping out an “H,” followed by an “E” and an “R.”  The two men suddenly realized that Muhamed was spelling Herr, the German equivalent of Mister.  But Muhamed then struggled with the surname, first spelling M-A-Z-R-L-K.  When told by Krall that it was incorrect, Muhamed tried again, tapping M-A-R-Z-L-E-G-K.  Krall then repeated Maeterlinck’s last name and after two more attempts the horse spelled the name with one small error.  The two men concluded that it was close enough.


“I assure you that the first shock is rather disturbing, however much one expected it,” Maeterlinck wrote in his 1914 book, The Unknown Guest.  “I am quite aware that, when one describes these things, one is taken for a dupe too readily dazzled by the doubtless childish illusion of an ingeniously-contrived scene.  But what contrivances, what illusions have we here?” 

Concerning the math tests, Maeterlinck wrote that “what strikes one particularly is the facility, the quickness, I was almost saying the joyous carelessness with which the strange mathematician gives the answers.  The last figure is hardly chalked on the board before the right hoof is striking off the units, followed immediately by the left hoof marking the tens.  There is not a sign of attention or reflection; one is not even aware of the exact moment at which the horse looks at the problem, and the answer seems to spring automatically from an invisible intelligence.  Mistakes are rare or frequent according as it happens to be a good or bad day with the horse; but, when he is told of them, he nearly always corrects them.  Not unseldom, the number is reversed: 47, for instance, becomes 74; but he puts it right without demur when asked.”

Maeterlinck carried out experiments of his own in the absence of Krall. Since the horses performed without Krall’s presence and gave some answers to questions that Maeterlinck himself did not know the answers to, he discounted the Clever Hans effect. 
Another theory advanced was that of telepathy; that is, the horse was mind-reading. To test this theory, Maeterlinck took some large cards with Arabic numerals on them, shuffled them and placed them in front of the horse without looking at them himself.  “Without hesitation and unasked, Muhamed rapped out correctly the number formed by the cards,” Maeterlinck wrote.  “The experiment succeeded, as often as I cared to try it, with Hänschen, Muhamed, and Zarif alike.”  Since Maeterlinck was the only person present and did not know the numbers, there was no mind present to be read for the answers.
In one test, Maeterlinck wrote a surd – a number which had no square root – on the blackboard, not realizing that it was a surd.  Maeterlinck looked to Muhamed for a square root.  The horse lifted his hoof, paused, looked back at Maeterlinck and shook his head.  This little test also opposed both the Clever Hans effect and the telepathy theory.

One day, Zarif stopped in the middle of a lesson by Krall.  The horse was asked why and replied, “Because I am tired.”  On another occasion he stopped again and explained, “Pain in my leg.”
Maeterlinck also reported on tests run by a Dr. H. Hamel while Krall was on a trip. Hamel began by giving Muhamed simple math problems and ended with asking Muhamed for the fourth power root of 7,890,481, which Hamel himself did not know until after checking Muhamed’s correct answer of 53, which took about six seconds before he began striking out the answer. 
On another day, Krall and a Dr. Scholler decided to make an attempt to teach Muhamed to express himself in speech. The horse made several feeble efforts before stopping and striking out the message, translated from the German to read, “I have not a good voice.”  They then asked Muhamed what was necessary for him to speak.  He replied, again in German, “Open mouth.”  They asked him why he didn’t attempt to open his mouth, and the reply came, “Because I can’t.”

On another occasion, Zarif was asked how he talks to Muhamed.  “Mit Munt” (with mouth), he replied.  Krall asked Zarif why he didn’t tell him that with his mouth, to which Zarif replied, “Because I have no voice.”

Maeterlinck was clearly flabbergasted:  “You rub your eyes, question yourself, ask yourself in the presence of what humanized phenomenon, of what unknown force, of what new creature you stand,” he wrote.  “…You look around you for some sort of trace, obvious or subtle, of the mystery.  You feel yourself attacked in your innermost citadel, where you held yourself most certain and most impregnable.  You have felt a breath from the abyss upon your face.  You would not be more astonished if you suddenly heard the voice of the dead.”

At least 10 other respected scholars and scientists were reported to have studied the horses, all ruling out fraud and the Clever Hans effect, but not having any answers.  In the absence of a scientific explanation, the Clever Hans effect has gone down in recorded history as the probable explanation. 

If not the Clever Hans effect, if not some other type of fraud, if not telepathy, if not true intelligence on the part of the horses, then what other explanation is there?  Maeterlinck considered the possibility that the horses were mediums, much like human mediums, through which some higher power was working. As to why it was necessary to teach the horses in the first place, he opined that it would be like asking an automatic writing medium to do her thing without knowing how to write.  “Unconscious cerebration, however wonderful, can only take effect upon elements already acquired in some way or another,” he explained. “The subconscious cerebration of a man blind from birth will not make him see colors.”

Maeterlinck had studied the reports of psychical researchers like Frederic W. H. Myers, Richard Hodgson, and Sir Oliver Lodge, and accepted the reality of mediumship.  However, he struggled with the spirit hypothesis as he believed that if spirits actually existed they would be in a much more enlightened state, not “groping and groveling” as so many reports from the psychical researchers suggested.  In concluding, Maeterlinck admitted that he had no answers other than that a “spiritual” or “psychic” epoch was taking place.

While not suggesting there is any precedent for animal overshadowing or control by spirits, Archibald Campbell Holmes, a spiritualistic phenomena historian and author of the day, believed that spirit influence was the most logical explanation for the Elberfeld horses.  He reasoned that if spirits can take control of tables by tilting them and levitating them, and, at the other extreme, take control of human mediums, there was no reason to believe that they couldn’t influence or control a horse.  As to why they would do that is an unanswered question, although spiritualism teaches that there are many low-level and mischievous spirits hanging around the earth plane.  Then again, it could have been a mathematically adept spirit who was experimenting or just having some fun.

My more comprehensive report on the Elberfeld Horses can be found in the book, “Paradigm Busters,” edited by J. Douglas Kenyon, an anthology of 30 mysterious events.

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 19

Read comments or post one of your own
Ruling out Telepathy:  “Mudder” for Mother

Posted on 22 July 2019, 8:46

It was considered “unscientific” for early psychical researchers to conclude that they were hearing from spirits of the dead through mediums. Although telepathy, or mindreading, was also considered unscientific by the fundamentalists of science, and still is to this day, it was preferred to spirits as an explanation for the messages coming through the medium.  That is, the medium, must have tapped into the mind of the sitter for information. As it was not as unscientific as spirits of the dead, psychical researchers were therefore always on guard for telepathy.  One such researcher was Lydia W. Allison, a member of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). 

As reported in the February 1925 issue of the Journal of The American Society for Psychical Research, Allison (1880 – 1959), the widow of Edward Wood Allison, M.D.,  arranged for an anonymous sitting with medium Hester Travers Smith while visiting London, England during June 1924.  A resident of Dublin, Ireland, Travers Smith (1868-1949) was the daughter of Professor Edward Dowden, a distinguished Shakespearian scholar, and the wife of a prominent Dublin physician. She was primarily an automatic writing and Ouija board medium, sitting regularly with a small group of friends, including Lennox Robinson, a world-renowned Irish playwright, and the Rev. Savell Hicks.  Sir William Barrett, a distinguished physicist and psychical researcher, was a close personal friend and also attended a number of sittings with Travers Smith, attesting to the genuineness of mediumship. Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous automatist in history, was introduced to mediumship by Travers Smith, who is referred to in books by Cummins by her maiden name, Hester Dowden.


In her 1919 book, Voices from the Void, Travers Smith states that she had begun experimenting with automatism six or seven years earlier to see what it was all about and if it really was evidence of survival after death. She began with the belief that automatism was, as many scientists of the day believed, merely a method of studying ourselves – that everything coming through the board and automatic writing was coming from the subconscious.  However, she came to the conclusion that there is more to automatism than the subliminal self and that disembodied souls were indeed involved, even if some of the messages were colored by the medium’s subconscious.

Allison (hereinafter “Lydia”) first sat with Travers Smith on June 27, 1924.  As instructed, she brought along several articles that belonged to her husband, who had died in 1920, including a gray suede tobacco pouch. The pouch was placed close to the Ouija board pointer and Travers Smith instructed Lydia to ask questions.  She first asked to whom the pouch belonged, and the board spelled out E-d-w-a-r-d.  She then asked by what name Edward was called.  The response came N-e-d (correct).  Lydia then asked who had been recently married. There was no response. A second try and still no response.  She then asked who gave him the pouch.  “A-n-i-t-a” was the correct reply.

At this point, they changed from the board to automatic writing and Ned was asked where Anita had given him the pouch.  “Londan” was the reply, although the second “o” in London appeared to be an “a.”  However, London was the correct answer.  He was then asked for his surname and “All——” was written in a scrawl.  Asked for his middle name, he correctly gave Wood.  Although Lydia did not ask for her name, the pencil wrote “Lydia.”  They then returned to the Ouija board.

Lydia then asked Ned who had communicated with her in a sitting she had had with another medium (Gladys Osborne Leonard) not long before. “James Hyslop” was the correct reply. Hyslop, the former director of the ASPR had also died in 1920.  “Whose name did he mention?” Lydia next asked, to which the reply correctly came “Prince.” (This was apparently a reference to Walter Franklin Prince, who was a research associate with the ASPR.)  Lydia asked who else was mentioned and the name “Bruton” was given. That name was unknown to Lydia, although she does recall that Hyslop had mentioned a number of people unknown to her and Bruton could have been one of them. As Lydia saw it, this name was opposed to the telepathic hypothesis, since it was not a name with which she was familiar and not “on her mind.”

She next asked Ned his sister’s name and he correctly replied with A-n-n-a.  When asked for his other sister’s name, he again gave the correct name, M-a-r-y.  When again asked for his surname, he slowly spelled, A-l-l-e-s-n…A-l-l-i-s-n…and finally A-l-l-i-s-o-n. 

Lydia again sat with Travers Smith on July 3.  Travers Smith rubbed the pointer of the Ouija board against the tobacco pouch and addressing her spirit guide, Johannes, asked him to call Ned to the table.  He returned with both Ned and James Hyslop.  Lydia noted that Travers Smith turned her head away from the board and closed her eyes, maintaining that position for the rest of the sitting.  Lydia had both hands free to take notes.  She first addressed Hyslop, asking him if he knew someone who just arrived in London.  Hyslop responded with T-u-b-b-y, the reference being to Gertrude Tubby, his former associate at the ASPR in New York.  Lydia noted that she had just arrived the prior afternoon and was certain that no one besides herself was aware of her arrival.

There was some further communication with Hyslop but nothing of evidential value.  She asked that Ned return to the board.  To again test him, she asked if he remembered Gretchen.  He responded that he did remember her, after which he was asked the name of Gretchen’s sister.  With Travers Smith continuing to look away and with eyes closed, her hand guided the pointer to E-l-s-a, followed by E-l-s-i-e.  Lydia noted that her baptismal name was Elsa but she was called Elsie.
Lydia then asked Ned if he remembered Jack and Marian and if he could give their last name.  He correctly spelled M-a-c-k-a-y.  She then asked for the name of her mother.  The board spelled P-a-u-l-a, which was correct, although Lydia had Polly on her mind, as that is the nickname her mother went by.  She then asked Ned for her mother’s nickname, expecting Polly, but the board spelled out M-u-d-d-e-r.  In fact, Ned always referred to her as Mudder.  As it had been some 15 years since her mother passed, she had more or less forgotten about Ned’s name for her.  When she asked Ned for her other nickname, he responded with “P-o-l-l-y.  Now do you think it is I?  You are very amusing to me.”  (hyphens omitted for clarity.)

Lydia’s third sitting with Travers Smith was on July 9.  She again asked for the names of his two sisters and both Anna and Mary were named.  She then asked for the name of his niece.  He correctly identified her as T-h-e-l-m-a.  This was the name she was looking for when she asked about someone being recently married in the first sitting. Strangely, the report ends there and there is no indication that Lydia then called Ned’s attention to the fact that Thelma had just married and if he was aware of it.

In commenting on the case, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince, ASPR Research Officer, wrote that the most surprising thing about the record is it transmission of proper names, which are usually difficult to produce.  “Did the names come from spirits or from the mind of the sitter?” he asks. “I am far from thinking that a definite conclusion can be drawn from one brief case like this.  But there are certain logical implications which ought to be stated.”  He points out that Lydia got “Paula” when she was thinking “Polly” and “Elsa” when she was thinking “Elsie, but most impressive to him was that “mudder” for her mother’s nickname when she was expecting “Polly.”  He saw this as lending itself to the spiritistic theory rather than the telepathic one.

“Finally, there is a singular fitness to the spiritistic theory in the failure of Edward to give the name of the person lately married,” Prince concluded, “though it was later given when the name of his sister’s daughter was demanded. For he would remember the name of his sister’s daughter but could not be expected to remember what had happened since his departure unless on the unreasonable assumption that spirits must know all that takes place on earth. But Mrs. Allison had the name ‘Thelma’ as definitely in mind when she asked who was married as when she asked who was the sister’s daughter.  Why should telepathy between the living observe the consistencies appropriate only to a spirit consciousness?”

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 5

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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.



Read comments or post one of your own
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.


Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  June 9

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  May 13

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  April 29


Read comments or post one of your own
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!!

Next blog post:  April 14


Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  April 1

Read comments or post one of your own
Awakening ‘In Times of War’

Posted on 04 March 2019, 9:18

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Next blog post:  March 18

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  March 4



Read comments or post one of your own
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




Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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




Read comments or post one of your own
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.


Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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. 

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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



Read comments or post one of your own
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.
Next blog post:  June 18  

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post: June 4

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post: May 21

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Next blog post:  May 7

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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


Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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




Read comments or post one of your own
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



Read comments or post one of your own
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. 

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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 

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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 

Read comments or post one of your own
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)

Read comments or post one of your own
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 

Read comments or post one of your own
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

Read comments or post one of your own
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.

Read comments or post one of your own
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.  Th