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

Posted on 29 October 2018, 10:10

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next blog post:  November 12


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Levitations Explained?

Posted on 15 October 2018, 8:05

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Of course, the closed-minded skeptic would say that Home, Palladino, other mediums producing levitations were all tricksters or that everyone present was hallucinating or had been hypnotized.  “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to,” said Sir David Brewster, another famous scientist who witnessed a table levitated in the presence of Home. Brewster claimed that it had to be a trick, although he had no idea as to how the trick was performed. 

In 1914, Dr. William J. Crawford, a mechanical engineer, began carrying out experiments with Irish medium Kathleen Goligher. Crawford brought in a scale large enough to hold the medium while she was sitting in her chair.  He discovered that when a table was being levitated, the weight of the table, usually around 16 pounds, was transferred to the medium through “psychic rods,” apparently formed by the ectoplasm given off by the medium, what Crawford referred to as “psychic force.”  Most of the time, the transfer of weight would be a few ounces short of the weight of the table.  Further experimentation revealed that the extra weight was being transferred to the sitters in the room, who apparently furnished small amounts of the psychic force. 
Crawford pointed out that he continually worked under the levitated table and between the levitated table and the medium and conducted many of his experiments in adequate light, although it became obvious to him that light affected the rigidity of the rods, i.e., the rods could not be made stiff if strong light was playing upon them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next blog post:  Oct. 29


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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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