Author-Publisher Tells of Unexplained Transformation
Posted on 19 June 2017, 7:31
In his recently released book, A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, Jon Beecher, (below) who uses the pen name J. R. Archer, has Rosie, an orphaned mongrel, telepathically explain to Seamus McGarry, a dying quadriplegic, that he has nothing to worry about, that death is just consciousness separating from the body. When Seamus telepathically asks Rosie how she, being just a dog, can know so much, Rosie tells him that she comes from a higher vibration and that her primary purpose is to provide service.
While Seamus struggles with just existing and dying, millionaire William Roper’s struggle is in becoming “one with his toys.” That is, until a homeless man and a mongrel named Rags comes into his life. Dolores Fannon, a recovering alcoholic, copes with everyday trials and tribulations, while Milo McGarry, having been sober for more than 20 years, is struggling to keep the dog shelter he works at from closure. The shelter, being the venue that brings dogs together, also provides the opportunity for the dogs to help unwitting humans in need.
Seemingly common to the various characters in Beecher’s book is an existential vacuum, a feeling of emptiness, meaninglessness, and hopelessness that pervades so many immersed in the mundane and slaves to materialism. At some point in the pursuit of comfort, pleasure, and luxury, they lose sight of the “larger life.” They lose their instincts, intuitiveness and spiritual awareness. However, our canine friends, not being consumed with such materialistic pursuits, have been able to retain these qualities.
This “larger life” is a subject that has captivated Beecher since he had what might be called a near-death experience (NDE) some 17 years ago. It wasn’t one of those NDEs in which the experiencer floats above his body and watches people attempt to revive him, or tells of meeting deceased relatives and seeing every moment of his life flash before him. If he did have those experiences, he doesn’t remember them. In fact, Beecher was given no indication that he was near death. “I fell over while I was sleepwalking and landed on my face,” he recalls the accident. “I was unconscious. I almost knocked my front teeth out, my lip was severed and required 30 stitches, and my jaw was broken on both sides and had to be wired up for six weeks. You could just say that I went to bed and woke up on the floor on the other side of the room.”
While Beecher, a 60-year-old resident of Guildford, England, has none of the usual NDEr recollections, he has experienced something that many other NDErs have reported – a complete change in his outlook on life. “It wasn’t so much that I became interested in spirituality as one might become interested in a hobby,” he explains. “Before the accident I was an atheist and a materialist. I had no belief or interest in anything to do with life after death, the paranormal, or religion. During the next couple of years I felt very different about life. I can’t say prior to the accident I had a fear of death; like most people of that age I never really thought about it in depth. But now I had no fear of death; I’ll go further; I embraced it, not in any morbid way but because now I understood, or at least, came to believe that death is nothing more than a transition from one state to another. I also felt somehow connected, as if I had been plugged into a greater reality. I’ve had plenty of time to think about it and even now I can’t explain adequately how I felt then and how I feel now.”
At the time of the accident, Beecher was CEO of a London-based independent record company. “Within a year or so of the accident, the music business, which had been my life, now felt trivial and unimportant, as did all the Porsches, big houses, expensive clothes, and all the other material stuff I had deemed important and accumulated over the years,” he muses. “It was actually quite depressing at the time because I hadn’t joined the dots and understood that the way I was feeling was connected to the head trauma. At one point I even thought I was having a breakdown.”
Upon leaving the music business, Beecher founded White Crow Books, which to date has published 165 books, all having spirituality as a central theme. Most of the books have been republications of old books that Beecher thought should be brought back to life and made available to people today, but 40 of them, including A Dog’s View, are fresh from the writers’ fingers.
Beecher began noticing the changes in his outlook within a few weeks of the accident. He could not remember dreaming before the accident, but now he was dreaming most nights and remembering them. “I liked the dreams,” he says. “They were a novelty for me and I wrote them all down. Because I was journaling, I noticed after a while that some of them were precognitive — something, which I thought was impossible.”
Prior to the accident, Beecher enjoyed shooting. “I used to shoot game every winter during the season, and clays during the rest of the year,” he continues the story. “Two months after the accident my friend called me because we had some shooting days coming up that we’d booked the previous year. I told him I couldn’t go because there was no way I could shoot an animal or even kill a fly anymore. I remember he was puzzled and he said to me, ‘You’ve been killing them for years, what’s changed?’ It was a good question and one I couldn’t easily answer at that time. All I knew was there was no way I would shoot an animal. At the time I didn’t connect this new feeling or the dreams to the head trauma. Since that time I’ve never had the inclination to pick up a gun.”
In 2002, Beecher was journaling and writing about an old friend named Brian, who had died in his house in 1988 from a head trauma. “I was writing about how if I’d have made a different decision that day, such as taking him to hospital, he might be alive now. It had been a while since I’d thought about him.” Beecher then went into the kitchen to make some toast. When he plugged the toaster in, he blew a fuse and knocked out the kitchen wiring. Nothing more was thought of this until a few days later when his sister, Nicky, called to tell him that she had recently become reacquainted with an old school friend called Johnny and his wife, Michelle (a pseudonym for privacy purposes). Nicky insisted that Michelle wanted to talk with her brother. While Beecher found it a very strange request, especially since he did not know Johnny or Michelle, he made the call. Michelle told him that her grandfather had recently died and she had been to see a medium as a result. “As I was listening I was wondering what my sister had got me into,” Beecher says. “As I said earlier, I had no interest or belief in anything like that back then.”
Michelle told him that after receiving some evidential communication from her grandfather, someone named Brian came through, saying he had a message for Jon. While Michelle had never heard of Brian, she thought the Jon being referred to might be her husband, Johnny, and so she took the information. When she got home and started relating the message to Johnny, he interrupted her and said he didn’t think the message was for him. However, he recalled that his friend Nicky had a brother called Jon and that he had a friend named Brian who had died in his house.
The medium told Michelle that Brian was tall and blonde (correct), that he sold jewelry, (also correct) and that the message was that Brian knew Jon had been thinking about him during the past few days (correct) and that he shouldn’t worry about what happened because although his death looked like an accident, it was his time to leave. “The conversation went on for a while, and at the end she said the medium also told her there was a problem with the kitchen electrics,” Beecher adds. “Michelle said she was so convinced she called an electrician who went to her home but found nothing wrong. I asked her when she had visited the medium and I told her my kitchen electrics had blown a few days later.”
Beecher couldn’t quite believe what he had just heard, but he was certain that his sister was not into such pranks and was even more certain that his sister knew nothing about his thinking and writing about Brian that week or the electrical problem he had experienced. In the mean time, he was still trying to understand why he felt so different about everything and started reading life after death literature, including the books of Arthur Findlay and some skeptical books, such as James Randi’s Flim Flam. “I came across an article by Kenneth Ring about people who had had near-death experiences. The article listed a number of after-effects NDEers typically experience and I realized I could tick every one. I came to the conclusion I’d had an NDE but I have no memory of it. I didn’t feel close to death although I was told by the doctor that given the force needed to do the damage I’d done to my face, I was lucky to be alive.”
In 2003, a little over two years after the accident, Beecher decided to find a medium. He went to the Arthur Findlay College website and saw a listing for one not far from where he lived. He recalls her name as Brenda. “On the day of the sitting I wasn’t hoping any particular person would come through, I was just curious to see what would happen,” he relates. “We sat for a few minutes and she told me my father was there, and my uncle on my mother’s side. She said my father’s energy was strong and suggested we should concentrate on him.
Brenda said, “You didn’t live with him when you were growing up.” She went on to describe what he looked like, his mannerisms, what sort of man he was. “That meant nothing to me, because my mother and father had separated when I was two years old. I grew up with my stepfather and I didn’t meet my father until I was an adult. I met him four times and two of those were just before he died in 2001.”
Beecher vividly recalls that Brenda then said, “He wants to show you something so you’ll know it’s him,” and with that she held her hand out and said that he had put a pigeon in her hand. “That was a big moment for me, because the only memory I had of my father was pigeons, and at his funeral I met my uncle (father’s brother) for the first time. During our conversation, the uncle told me that he and my father used to raise and race pigeons, and there was a pigeon loft in the back garden of the house I lived in as a two-year-old.”
“I couldn’t see how she could possibly know any of this by cold reading or any other materialist explanation,” Beecher continues. “Up to that point, I’d felt the accident and my subsequent change in worldview had been thrust upon me, but now I decided it was all part of some plan, and that was fine.”
Within the next few years, Beecher got divorced, left his business, became a vegetarian, did voluntary work, stopped buying sport cars, bought a Bible, and met with mediums, remote viewers, priests, parapsychologists, and others associated with spirituality and the paranormal. “People who report having near-death experiences or spiritually transformative events often claim they ‘know’ we don’t really die, and they know this and that. I understand exactly how they feel. I know what I know. That said, my logical brain tells me psychiatric hospitals are full of people who think they know things the rest of us don’t, but nevertheless, I have that knowing. Maybe that’s what faith is. It’s hard to explain.”
Two of the mediums he visited told him that they saw him publishing books about spirituality and life after death, which he had never considered at the time, and one day he woke up with the name “White Crow Books” in his head and went from there.
A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death was inspired by taking care of his parents’ two dogs after they both had strokes and were unable to take care of them. “I was walking the dogs on the beach during March 2016, and at a certain moment a story came into my mind — a story about dogs knowing more than we think they know, and acting as guides, helping humans move toward a state of unconditional love. A scene came into my mind of a man jumping from a parking lot structure. Before that moment I’d never had any inclination or desire to write a story — not ever, but I went home and wrote down that scene. The following day I took the dogs to the beach again and another scene came to mind and I went home and wrote it down. This went on for eleven weeks and by then I had the first draft of a story. No one was more surprised than me.”
As for his pen name, J. R. Archer, Beecher explains that Archer is his birth name, and while his father and grandparents were not in his life while they were alive, they’ve helped him enormously since they “died.” The pen name is to honor them. He cites a reading he had with a medium from Belgium named Isabelle Duchene a few years ago. Isabelle told him that she had his “father’s father here,” and he was telling her that he was very interested in Jon’s work and what he was doing. It was somewhat surprising to Beecher as he had never known his paternal grandparents and they had passed away many years before. He told her that he didn’t even know their names. Within a few minutes, the medium gave him the names Edward and Maria. Later that day, Beecher checked with a younger half-brother who confirmed that these were the names of his grandparents. “A few people have said they are common names and it may have been a lucky guess,” he muses. “One name might be a lucky guess, but getting both names was remarkable, especially when you consider I didn’t know their names.”
On another occasion, Isabelle told him his mother’s mother was there, and said she was with her sister Louisa and someone named Bill. The message from Louisa via the medium claimed Jon’s mother was feeling very negative at that time and not revealing why, adding, “She must have the eye test.” Beecher was unaware that his maternal grandmother had a sister named Louisa, but, in checking with his mother, found out that the sister’s name was Louisa and that the grandmother’s brother was named Bill. “The suggestion that my mother was feeling very negative didn’t make sense to me because my mother is a very positive person and she hadn’t ever mentioned having any eye problems, but when I contacted her later that day she confessed that some months before she had been diagnosed with cataracts, a condition later requiring surgery but before it could happen she needed to have an eye test,” Beecher recalls. “She hadn’t told anyone, including my stepfather, about the problem, nor had she had the eye test, because she was afraid to have the surgery.”
When asked if those experiences and a number of others too detailed to go into here have given him a belief in God and an afterlife, Beecher responds, paraphrasing the eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “I don’t need to believe, I know.”
A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death by J. R. Archer is available now from Amazon and other booksellers..
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
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Nobel Prize Winner Witnessed Materializations
Posted on 05 June 2017, 9:20
Winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Dr. Charles Richet (1850-1935) was a physiologist, chemist, bacteriologist, pathologist, psychologist, aviation pioneer, poet, novelist, editor, author, and psychical researcher. After receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1869 and his Doctor of Science in 1878, he (below) served as professor of physiology at the medical school of the University of Paris for 38 years.
Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on anaphylaxis, the sensitivity of the body to alien protein substance. He also contributed much to research on the nervous system, anesthesia, serum therapy, and neuro-muscular stimuli. He served as editor of the Revue Scientifique for 24 years and contributed to many other scientific publications.
After attending experiments in Milan with medium Eusapia Palladino (below) in 1884, Richet began taking an active interest in psychical research. In addition to Palladino, he studied Marthe Bèraud, William Eglinton, Stephan Ossowiecki, Elisabeth D’Esperance, and others. He served as president of the Society for Psychical Research of London in 1905.
While clearly accepting the reality of mediumship and other psychic phenomena, Richet remained skeptical as to whether the evidence suggested spirits of the dead. “I oppose it (spirit hypothesis) half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory counter-theory,” he wrote, no doubt concerned about sanctions by his peers. Publicly, he leaned toward a physiological explanation, but privately, at least in his later years, he seems to have accepted the spirit hypothesis as the best explanation.
This “interview” is based primarily on Richet’s 1923 book, Thirty Years of Psychical Research. Except for word in brackets, inserted to provide a transition or flow, the words are his. The questions have been tailored to fit the answers. (For more about Richet and physical mediumship, see Keith Parson’s recently released documentary, Can Spirits Materialise?
Professor Richet, your book is dedicated to Sir William Crookes and Frederic W. H. Myers. I gather, however, that when Sir William was reporting on his research with mediums D. D. Home and Florence Cook back during the early 1870s, you did not have a particularly high opinion of him.
“[True], the idolatry of current ideas was so dominant at that time that no pains were taken either to verify or to refute Crookes’s statements. Men were content to ridicule them, and I avow with shame that I was among the willfully blind. Instead of admiring the heroism of a recognized man of science who dare then in 1872 to say that there really are phantoms that can be photographed and whose heartbeats can be heard, I laughed. This courage had, however, no immediate or considerable effect; it is only today that Crookes’s work is really understood. It is still the foundation of objective metapsychics, a block of granite that no criticism has been able to touch.”
I would like to focus this interview more on the physical phenomena you observed. Who were the best among these objective or physical mediums?
“To mention Home, Florence Cook, Stainton Moses, Eusapia, Mme. D’Espérance, Eglinton, Linda Gazzera, Slade, Marthe Béraud, Miss Goligher, and Stanislawa Tomczyk is to name nearly all; it is obvious that they are but few. The number of those who give raps is very much larger, but I have no statistics regarding them.”
With the possible exception of Home and Moses, all of those you just mentioned were accused of fraud at one time or another.
“Unfortunately physical mediums often misuse their powers; they think to enrich themselves and give public séances for profit. The Fox sisters, the Davenport brothers, Eglinton, and Slade all did this, and from thence to fraud is but a step that has often been taken, so that professional mediums of this class are always to be looked upon with suspicion and the most rigid precautions must always be taken against trickery. Indeed, this is always necessary, even when there is no possible suspicion of conscious fraud.”
Conscious as opposed to unconscious fraud?
“[Yes,] we have defined metapsychics as the science whose subject matter is phenomena which seem to arise from an intelligence other than the human intelligence. Mediums are therefore those persons who, in partial or total unconsciousness, speak words perform actions, and make gestures that seem not to be under control of their will and to be independent of their intelligence. Nevertheless, these unconscious phenomena show intelligence and system, and are sometimes most aptly coordinated. Therefore, the first thing to be discovered is whether they are due to a human or to a super-human intelligence.”
Many of the materializations that have been photographed look like cardboard cutouts or mannequins. One can understand why people are so skeptical.
“These materializations are usually gradual, beginning by a rudimentary shape, complete forms and human faces appearing later on. At first these formations are often very imperfect. Sometimes they show no relief, looking more like flat images than bodies, so that in spite of oneself one is inclined to imagine some fraud, since what appears seems to be the materialization of a semblance, and not of a being. But in some cases, the materialization is perfect. At the Villa Carmen, I saw a fully organized form rise from the floor. At first it was only a white, opaque spot like a handkerchief lying on the ground before the curtain, then this handkerchief quickly assumed the form of a human head level with the floor, and a few moments later it rose up in a straight line and became a small man enveloped in a kind of white burnous who took two or three halting steps in front of the curtain and then sank to the floor and disappeared as if through a trap-door. But there was no trap door.”
You are no doubt referring to the phantom known as Bien Boa who materialized thought Marthe Béraud at the Villa Carmen. I gather that there is no doubt in your mind that he or it was real.
“I shall not waste time in stating the absurdities, almost the impossibilities, from a psycho-physiological point of view, of this phenomenon. A living being, or living matter, formed under our eyes, which has its proper warmth, apparently a circulation of blood, and a physiological respiration (as I proved by causing the form of Bien Boa (below) to breathe into a flask containing baryta water), which also has a kind of psychic personality, having a will distinct from the will of the medium, in a word, a new human being! This is surely the climax of marvels! Nevertheless it is a fact.”
Of course, it is difficult to understand why a fraudulent medium would think she or he could dupe anyone with something that doesn’t even resemble a human form.
“[True], it is imagined, quite mistakenly, that a materialization must be analogous to a human body and must be three dimensional. This is not so. There is nothing to prove that the process of materialization is other than a development of a completed form after a first stage of coarse and rudimentary lineaments form from the cloudy substance. The moist, gelatinous, and semi-luminous extensions that come from the mouth of Marthe are embryonic formations which tend towards organization without immediately attaining it.”
You actually saw Bien Boa sink into the floor?
“Several times, I saw him plunge himself straight into the ground. He suddenly became shorter, and under our eyes disappeared into the ground; then raised himself again suddenly in a vertical line. The head, with the turban and the black moustache, and as it were the indication of eyes, grew, rose, until it nearly reached even higher than the canopy. At certain moments it was obliged to lean and bend because of the great height which it had assumed. Then, suddenly, his head sank right down to the ground and disappeared. He did this three times in succession. I can find nothing better than the figure in a Jack-in-the-box which comes out all of a sudden. But I do not know of anything resembling that vanishing into the earth in a straight line, so that at one moment it seems as though only the head was above the ground and that there was no longer a body.”
Still, the skeptics say it was all a trick.
“I am very well aware that [the phenomena] are extraordinary, even so monstrously extraordinary that at first sight the hypothesis of immeasurable, repeated, and continual fraud seems the more probable explanation. But is such fraud possible? I cannot think so. When I recall the precautions that all of us [took], it is inconceivable that we should have been deceived on all these occasions.”
I recall reading that there was much “cheating that really wasn’t cheating” going on when you studied Eusapia at Ribaud Island. Is this reference to the unconscious acts of the medium?
“[Exactly.] Trance turns them into automata that have but a very slight control over their muscular movements. When a medium is nearly or quite insensible, his eyes shut, sweating and making convulsive movements, unable to answer any questions put to him, I do not think he ought to be reproached for anything he may do. He is not himself; he has not that poised and quiet consciousness which can decided between right and wrong. He has forgotten who he is and what he ought to do…. As for Eusapia, who has often been suspected of fraud, nothing was ever proved against her. On the contrary, after some doubtful experiments at Cambridge, I asked [Frederic] Myers to come back to see her. He came to my house and there was a memorable sitting at which the phenomena were so distinct that I solemnly adjured Myers to declare that there was no trickery, and that the movement of objects at a distance without contact was authentic and undeniable.”
But, clearly there has been much conscious fraud?
“[No doubt.] Completely criminal are such acts as preparing paraphernalia for deliberate fraud, hidden in a chair or upon their person; this is radically different from the suspicious movements of an entranced medium.”
Your reports talk about ectoplasmic arms extending from Eusapia and touching sitters or moving objects.
“[Yes,] the ectoplasmic arms and hands that emerge from the body of Eusapia do only what they wish, and though Eusapia knows what they do, they are not directed by Eusapia’s will; or rather there is for the moment no Eusapia. It is also quite easy to understand that when exhausted by a long and fruitless séance, and surrounded by a number of sitters eager to see something, a medium whose consciousness is still partly in abeyance may give the push that he hopes will start the phenomena….There is a quasi-identity between the medium and the ectoplasm, so that when an attempt is made to seize the latter, a limb of the medium may be grasped; though I make a definite and formal protest against this frequent defense of doubtful phenomena by spiritualists. More frequently, the ectoplasm is independent of the medium, indeed perhaps it is always so; though I do not mean to imply that the severance or capture of the ectoplasm can be effected without danger to the medium. The case of Mme. D’Espérance is on record to show that a medium may incur a long illness by reason of such an attempt.”
What exactly is ectoplasm? The skeptics would say that it nothing but cheesecloth stuffed into some cavity of the medium and then exuded at an opportune time.
“The word ‘ectoplasm,’ which I invented for the experiments with Eusapia, seems entirely justified…. [It] is a kind of gelatinous protoplasm, formless at first, that exudes from the body of the medium, and takes form later. This embryo-genesis of materialization shows clearly on nearly all the photographs. In the early stages there are always white veils and milky patches and the faces, fingers, and drawings are formed little by little in the midst of this kind of gelatinous paste that resembles moist and sticky muslin…[I observed] gelatinous projections come from the mouth or shoulders of Marthe. I saw the arm of Bien Boa formed in this way. At first it resembled a thin, rigid rod covered with drapery and became a stretched-out arm. The same phenomenon was very clearly observable with Eusapia. A kind of supplementary arm seemed to come from her body. Once I saw a long, stiff rod proceed from her side, which after great extension had a hand at its extremity – a living hand warm and jointed, absolutely like a human hand.”
I’m confused on something here. Is ectoplasm always visible?
“In their first stage these ectoplasms are invisible, but can move objects and can give raps on a table. Later on they become visible though nebulous and sketchy. Still later, they take human form, for they have the extraordinary property that they change their forms and their consistence and evolve under our eyes. In a few seconds, the nebulous embryo that exudes from the body of the medium becomes an actual being; though the human ovum requires thirty years to evolve into the adult form. Sometimes the phantom appears suddenly, without passing through the phase of luminous cloud; but this phenomenon is probably of the same order as the slower development. This ectoplasmic formation at the expense of the physiological organism of the medium is now beyond all dispute. It is prodigiously strange, prodigiously unusual, and it would seem so unlikely as to be incredible; but we must give in to the facts.”
History has not been particularly kind to Eusapia and others you mentioned earlier, treating them as either charlatans or as a mixed mediums (producing both genuine phenomena and fraudulent phenomena).
“Even if there were no other medium than Eusapia in the world, her manifestations would suffice to establish scientifically the reality of telekinesis and ectoplasmic forms…. A powerful medium is a very delicate instrument of whose secret springs we know nothing, and clumsy handling may easily disorganize its working. It is best to allow the phenomena to develop in their own way without any attempt at guidance…. Mediums have not hitherto been treated with justice; they have been slandered, ridiculed, and vilified. They have been treated as animæ viles for experiment. When their faculties faded away they have been left to die in obscurity and want; when rewarded it has been with a niggardly hand, giving them to understand that they are only instruments. It is time that this inhuman treatment should cease.”
In spite of your standing in the scientific community, mainstream science doesn’t seem to accept the research on ectoplasm and materialization.
“Assuredly, it is possible that I may be mistaken, even grossly mistaken, along with Crookes, De Rochas, Aksakoff, Myers, William James, Schiaparelli, Zöllner, Fechner, and Oliver Lodge. It is possible that all of us have been deceived. It is possible that some day an unexpected experiment may explain our prolonged deception quite simply. So be it! But till it has been explained how we have all been duped by an illusion, I claim that the reality of these materializations must be conceded…. What man of science worthy of the name could affirm that science has classified, analyzed, and penetrated all the energies of immeasurable nature, or could make the strange and pretentious claim that we know all the dynamic manifestations in the world? To admit telekinesis and ectoplasms is not to destroy even the smallest fragment of science; it is but to admit new data, and that there are unknown energies. Then why be indignant, when, on the basis of thousands of observations and experiments, we affirm one of those unknown energies?”
You’ve often used the word “absurd” when referring to the materialization phenomenon.
“Yes, it is absurd; but no matter – it is true.”
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
Next blog post: June 19
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