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Life & Death Before Electricity – More Misery than Merriment

Posted on 20 December 2021, 10:03

During a recent power outage, the result of stormy weather and high winds, I wondered what it would be like to live permanently without electricity.  I wondered how it was for people a hundred or more years ago, living in darkened homes, even during the day – no artificial lighting, no radios, no televisions, no computers, no phones, no artificial heat or cooling devices, no refrigerators, no bidets, just the very basics. 

My thoughts wandered to Mary Lincoln, (below) the widow of our sixteenth president, who, having lost her husband to an assassin’s bullet and three sons to childhood maladies, resided in a Chicago hotel room around 1870. I pictured a dreary hotel room with basic furnishings and lighted only by whatever sun rays penetrated the window, then only a candle after sundown. I imagined her sitting at the window on a winter day in a very melancholy state, watching a horse and buggy go by every now and then wondering about the purpose of it all, whether there was any end to the monotony. 


With no family to care for and no domestic duties common at the time, Mary Lincoln likely had little with which to occupy herself beyond browsing in nearby shops. Being gregarious, she probably got to know some of the merchants fairly well and felt obligated to occasionally make purchases, even if she had no need for the items.  Based on historical reports, I imagined her going to mediums in the hope of communicating with her deceased loved ones, thereby giving her hope that there is some purpose behind all the adversity she had experienced. Going to the nearest saloon and numbing the pain like the men in similar despair was not an option for a proper woman.

Apparently, Robert Lincoln, her only surviving son, didn’t see her shopping habits or interest in spirit communication as a way of coping with her grief and boredom, as he had her declared insane by a court of law and committed to a lunatic asylum.  Fortunately, one Myra Bradwell, who had a law degree but was not allowed to practice law because of her gender, and her husband, Judge James B. Bradwell, both spiritualists, appealed the lower-court decision on her behalf and Mary was released from the asylum after just three months and three weeks of incarceration.

Mary Lincoln’s Chicago residency came at a time when Darwinism was impeaching religion. “Never, perhaps, did man’s spiritual satisfaction bear a smaller proportion to his needs,” Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, said of that period. “The old-world sustenance, however earnestly administered, [was] too unsubstantial for the modern cravings. And thus through our civilized societies two conflicting currents [ran].  On the one hand, health, intelligence, morality – all such boons as the steady progress of planetary evolution can win for the man – [were] being achieved in increasing measure. On the other hand this very sanity, this very prosperity, [brought out] in stronger relief the underlying Weltschmerz, the decline of any real belief in the dignity, the meaning, the endlessness of life.”

Myers added that there were many who were willing to let earthly activities and pleasures dissipate and obscure the “larger hope,” but some, like himself, were upset and searched for a serious remedy.

As historian Donald J. Mrozek recorded it, the late nineteenth century was an age that emphasized energy and activity and in which “death became a special horror” especially for those who aimed at establishing power over nature. The liveliness and energy of that period, he stated, “necessitated that its ‘search for order’ would be accompanied by a search for meaning.” 

My pondering on the era brought to mind movies showing much gaiety, frivolity and mindless happiness during the late 1800s, extending through the first decade of the 1900s.  I recalled a movie with scores of smiling, carefree, innocent people all leisurely strolling down Main Street after attending church in their Sunday best – the men cheerfully tipping their hats to each other, the women smiling with delight and hope, giving no heed to their marital bondage, the children hopping and skipping while anxiously awaiting an ice cream treat at the corner fountain, all the while the tails of parked horses wagging and keeping beat with a cheery tune and the rhythmic strides of the contented people.

Was that an actual portrayal of the way it was, or was it really a doom and gloom scenario – empty streets, darkened homes, uncontrolled heat and cold, long hours of backbreaking labor, rat infestations, stench from the outhouses, the horse tails swatting swarms of flies, widespread diseases resulting in many premature deaths, teeth extracted with plyers and no anesthetics, poverty, hunger, grief, distress, and, if the new science was to be believed, total extinction, or oblivion, after it was all over? 

Perhaps the true picture is somewhere in between those two extremes, but my best guess is that it was much more misery than merriment. If there is any truth to messages purportedly coming from the spirit world through seemingly credible mediums and discerning researchers, the spirit world also took note of the misery and at least some of them in that world concluded that they should attempt to provide some relief, some light – a different kind of light than that aiding the eyes – to help those in the material world overcome the despair. Robert Hare, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and a renowned inventor, reported that his investigation of mediums during the mid-1850s resulted in communication stating that there had been “a deliberate effort on the part of the inhabitants of the higher spheres to break through the partition which has interfered with the attainment, by mortals, of a correct idea of their destiny after death.” 

Hare was informed by his father, in spirit, that a delegation of advanced spirits has been appointed to carry out the mission and that low spirits were allowed to interfere in the undertaking because they were, in effect, closer in vibration to the earth plane and therefore more competent to make mechanical movements and loud rappings. “Thus, it appears that at the outset, the object was to draw attention, and in the next place to induce communication,” Hare explained, adding that the manifestations quickly changed in character and that superior spirits replaced inferior ones as they experimented on their side and learned to manipulate matter. 

The phenomena went from raps, taps, and table tilting spelling out messages (so many raps, taps, or tilts for each letter of the alphabet) to the levitation of humans, musical instruments playing without human hands touching them, messages written without a human hand holding the pencil. They soon learned how to penetrate the veil in other ways, even to materialize their bodies, to control human hands to write messages from them, to take possession of human bodies to talk with us, to speak directly with us. They were experimenting on their side of the veil and their efforts often failed. When they did succeed, it was too mind-boggling for most people and especially for educated people grounded in science. It was opposed to natural law and so it was ignored or rejected as fraud. They called it humbug.

Judge John Edmonds, who began his investigation of mediums in 1851, said he was told at one sitting that “these manifestations are given to mankind to prove their immortality, and teach them to look forward to the change from one sphere to another with pleasure.”  Edmonds also said that he was “satisfied that something more was intended than the gratification of an idle curiosity; something more than pandering to a diseased appetite for the marvelous; something more than the promulgation of oracular platitudes; something more than upsetting material objects to the admiration of the wonder-lover; something more than telling the age of the living or the dead.” 

Edmonds further stated that he had “good reason to believe that there is in the spirit world much opposition to this intercourse with us, and that a combination has been formed to interrupt and, if possible, to overthrow it, and one mode is by visiting circles and individuals, exciting their suspicions of spirits, and bad thoughts as to their good faith and purity of purpose.” He did not explain the reasons for the opposition, but I can think of two possible reasons: 1) those opposed were unadvanced spirits who still clung to religious indoctrination that such communication is demonic; 2) our free-will decisions are tempered by the certainty of a larger life, thereby retarding our spiritual progress, i.e., the greater the adversity, the greater the lessons and the advancement. 

When Nathaniel Tallmadge, another researcher from the 1850s, asked John C. Calhoun, (below) his good friend in the earth life while also vice-president of the United States, the purpose of the manifestations he had witnessed, Calhoun replied: “My friend, the question is often put to you, ‘What good can come from these manifestations?’ I will answer it. It is to draw mankind together in harmony, and convince skeptics of the immortality of the soul.”


Tallmadge had put the same question to W. E. Channing, with whom he was communicating through another medium at an earlier date. The response was: “To unite mankind, and to convince skeptical minds of the immortality of the soul.” However, as Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest and medium, was told, very low-level spirits, what are sometimes called “earthbound” spirits, were interfering with the communication of higher spirits and the desired results were not being obtained. The advanced spirits overestimated the ability of those in the material world to discern the messages, to separate the positive from the negative, and thus they began to withdraw.

When people today comment that the phenomena observed by Hare, Edmonds, Tallmadge and others were probably all bunk because we don’t have them today, I suggest that it may have been better then, at least more dynamic than now, because people of that time needed it more than we do.  They had rougher and tougher lives and much less in the way of luxuries and escape mechanisms than we do.  Things were especially traumatic for them when science pulled the carpet out from under their religions.  Their church was their only refuge, and there was no other place to turn.

With all the comforts and escape mechanisms we now have, the spirit world apparently doesn’t see the need to intervene, and the resistance in the spirit world may be even greater now, as they see how lowly spirits interfered with what the more advanced spirits were trying to accomplish a century and more ago.  Moreover, the world is much more skeptical today than it was a century ago.  Some medium producing genuine phenomena would be labeled a fraud without any real investigation, and if an investigation were to take place the researchers would be looking for a materialistic explanation. A spiritual explanation will lack “proof” as the alternative is always something that science does not yet understand, i.e., super-psi, living-agent psi, the cosmic reservoir, etc.  A spiritual explanation will always elude science.   

My further guess is that, absent all the “noise” we now have in the world from our electrical gadgets, the people of the nineteenth century were more open to spirit communication.  They sat in front of a fire knitting or whittling, or on the front porch looking at the stars,  and their minds were more receptive to such communication.

Electricity has provided much light, but it is in some respects a “darker” world.  Searching for and receiving the right kind of “light” is the challenge.  Here’s wishing everyone more “light” for Christmas and in 2022.

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 latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

Next blog, 20, December.

Next blog post: January 3


Dear Stafford,

I note that you have not yet explained to me how my words have produced fascination. The word ‘fascination’ itself suggests that your mind is near to perceiving that there is an intriguing conception to be unearthed if sufficiently-attentive reading of my comment is granted, but that it is eluding you. It is also possible, of course, that your fascination at my choice of words shows that my world-view is in fact NOT understood (which will be because it is NOT the same as other writers’ conceptions, as it would not fascinate if it were the same). I choose my words with blood-sweating effort to avoid ambiguity, but find that almost impossible to achieve; perhaps they fascinate because they seem strangely-oblique, intriguing choices, and readers are puzzled by my choices, and perhaps they seem strangely chosen because I am trying to express a conception that is NOT the more frequently-met world view at all. After all, it is obvious that there has been opposition to, and even ridicule of, my believing that Relativity does explain how heaven can be right here but itself be a totally separate equally “”“solid”“” universe, so I doubt anyone’s belief that the world-view is the same. And neither you nor anyone else has given me a response demonstrating full understanding of the view I hold and try with such extreme effort to force words to define unambiguously for the minds of others. Newton seems to have come the nearest to grasping what I am getting at.

I have to add that I hate the situation of seeming to disagree with true friends who certainly have the same interest in our future wellbeing etc. It would be far more comfortable to have a cosy friendship with everyone who reads Michael’s blogs. However, Heidegger suffered similar miscomprehension from his own students, and told them so during lectures, and most people do not persevere until they understand HIM, but turn to the instant dismissal of his thought by the infantile silliness of accusing him of being a Nazi. I have a personal letter from one of the translators into English of Wittgenstein’s ‘On Certainty’, whom I met frequently, years ago, who told me I need not bother with Heidegger, and gave as his reason the completely irrelevant (and factually-doubtful claim that Heidegger was a Nazi.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 4 Jan, 10:16

Dear Stafford,

You wrote “As I suspected, you and I, and almost all the writers who follow Michael’s wonderful blogs, share a common worldview.”

Our world-views being similar, I am wondering why or how my choice of words about it had produced fascination:

“I was fascinated by the vocabulary you used to distinguish the soul from matter.”

However, my world-view does differ from some as assessed by reading what other commenters write. Almost no-one sees the relevance of Einsteinian Relativity, by which one can understand how beings in another world can be close, but not even touchable. And no-one apart from myself expresses apprehension that the interest in the survival of conscious being that we all share necessitates and commands reverence and huge gratitude towards the Great Being Who contains all timelessly, and also implies duties to that same Great Being as we microbes struggle up towards Her/Him with largely unappreciated unseen helpers all around us. In short, there IS some difference in world-view since most of us are curious and relieved to be alive, but apparently not grateful enough for what the church has called salvation yet has failed to give for millennia. The matter is not just one for curiosity or intellectual amusement, as Imperator continually points out. It’s a good thing God is apparently very patient with our failure to give Him/Her credit where it is due.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 3 Jan, 09:09

Thank you, Eric. As I suspected, you and I, and almost all the writers who follow Michael’s wonderful blogs, share a common worldview.

Stafford Betty, Sun 2 Jan, 14:43

Dear Stafford,

At last we have some personal contact, via, as so often, Mike’s wonderful blogs.

Attentive readers have already received the following knowledge of me, in occasional snippets, but I hope none of them has ever thought the information significant. One’s thoughts matter more, surely, than biographies. I am a self-taught, rather thoughtful, but also active, human. I wish I were a former human. I attended Professor David Walford’s classes on Heidegger, informally, for a year or two, by his personal favour, a decade ago - but I think for myself.

I am the author of slightly more than half the words (and many of the graphics) in Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’, of 2010. You can read my mind clearly with careful attention to many of its pages, not only the chapter that is specifically my own. Even that began from some text Maureen had already drafted about Jung when she decided her own decades of experience had not equipped her to handle the needed section on science and philosophy. Credit for all else goes to Dr Lockhart. I need not detail the gestation of books, need I? You are totally familiar with that. I need not criticise a publisher neither I nor Dr Lockhart found we could esteem - but Ervin Laszlo had recommended our book to them, and no other publisher was available, so we accepted. The whole 5000 copies sold out.

I believe the best basis by far for any ‘religion’ that will be a guide reliable to even the slightest degree for humans, is science rather than philosophy, and certainly not verbal philosophy. Science is part of ‘God’, and God contains as one of “His” potentials every statement claiming to be scientific, ie claiming truth. ‘He’ also contains the potential for the fact of erroneous statements, of course, but that does not invalidate the distinction between truth and untruth, so WE have the responsibility to be careful, but ‘He’ will not blame us for genuine error. ‘He’ will not mark iniquity, but wants us to stand. It is ‘His’ good pleasure to give . . . Therefore, meticulously careful science must be a better basis than ancient human fantasies from the eras of man’s even greater ignorance than the present (when he is still woefully ignorant, of course). Spirit Teachings says this clearly at many points. (Of course, the ‘word of prophecy’ is mediumship under another name - but we often fail to discriminate the spiritual sources well, and must be conscientious. Imperator stresses that too, and Stainton Moses wonders why ‘God’ tolerates such a situation.)

I think that tells you something of myself, and therefore responds favourably to your request for information. I will answer further queries, if you have any; but I have tasks ahead, today, so I shall let the foregoing suffice for the present. None of us is another’s judge.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 2 Jan, 10:49


I just finished reading (skipping around) Jeffrey Mishlove’s splendid essay. His approach to the evidence is the same I use. I was fascinated by the vocabulary you used to distinguish the soul from matter—different from the more philosophical way of speaking that I am familiar with. If you don’t mind, tell us a little about yourself.


Stafford Betty, Sun 2 Jan, 01:36

Dear all,

I am just beginning to read Geoffrey Mishlove’s winning Bigelow competition article on the evidence for life after death. Straight away, his first short “footnote video”, a short discussion with Huston Smith, speaks of the same matter I have been boring you all with for a year or more. The topic is the reality of the soul, despite most scientists finding no evidence for it. Of course they can’t find evidence for it: Huston Smith is correct in saying that the scientists have no instruments capable of sensing the presence of the soul, (though there are aspects of the matter Huston Smith himself does not yet understand fully).

I dealt with a closely analogous matter with reference to Tonomura’s experiment of 1986 in my part of Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’ of 2010. The problems of sensing entities that are BEYOND/OUTSIDE/ABOVE/BENEATH/ie EXTERNAL TO OUR UNIVERSE were dealt with at great length. You will find the matter dealt with on pages 272 to 274 and the surrounding pages. We can only detect entities outside our universe by detecting the changes they cause WITHIN our universe, changes that we can THEN detect using our THIS-WORLD instruments. (This is even true of ‘God’; think about it.)

I hope this rapid exposition is easy to follow. Tonomura’s experiment did exactly this to detect the totally-hidden underlying scalar-wave field of the physical universe that we sense with our five sense organs. The point is that the soul is NOT in the physical universe (never was, never will be) except in the gross sense of being trapped in it (in the body). (It is present as a kind of non-physical clathrate in (amidst, permeating, distributed through the molecules of) the physical body). As in Tonomura’s experiment you can see the EFFECTS of the soul, such as the results of its actions in the physical universe, but you cannot see the soul itself. Evidence that this is the correct understanding is that a body pronounced “dead” does not make changes we can see in the physical world around it. It has become inactive. (Incidentally, this ‘structure’ of our reality is strong evidence of our dual constitution, ie of body/mind dualism, despite the protests of philosophers and scientists.

I shall now continue reading Geoffrey Mishlove.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 1 Jan, 18:32

Dear Chris,

I think you have the attitude we should each bring to the new year precisely right. I hope the Great All-Being will grant each of us the gifts we need, and that we each respond with the inner heart and mind we should show.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 1 Jan, 10:39

Happy New Year everyone!

Jon, Sat 1 Jan, 10:24

I wish everybody a happy and healthy 2022. May this year be the year of the big revelation, where everybody respects the other and find their path to the divine within theirself and outside them . Hopely we see that everything is connected and one with the divine and it’s our task to live along that knowledge.

Chris, Sat 1 Jan, 08:31

I find myself agreeing with Newton yet again. There are indeed some worrying passages in many of the records we have. I hope we can resolve them, or that no such problem will stand between us and the Deity Whose truth we seek.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 31 Dec, 21:17

Now might be a good time, as this thread nears its end, to express concern about another spiritualist “revelation” similar to “Solar Man”—this time, found in “More Spirit Teachings.” We tend to put this sequel into the same category as the original but should keep in mind a crucial distinction between them.

“Spirit Teachings” was published by Stainton Moses as a connected body of instruction directly imparted by Imperator & Co. “More Spirit Teachings,” on the other hand, was based largely on notes (“not continuous…mere extracts”) taken by a frequent attendee at Stainton’s sittings.

Perhaps this puts into context, as I hope it does, the following statement made in the sequel: “many worlds are in a much higher state of development (than earth); and some are in process of formation. Mercury is on the lowest plane, Jupiter the highest.” Will all spiritualists join me in saying OUCH?

By the way, the thing that most impressed me about Chico Xavier, knocked me on my backside, was not the mind-blowing panoply of signs and wonders that came through his mediumship, but the unwavering ethical principle, the compassion for others, especially for “the least of these,” with which he lived the entirety of a most challenging life.

Should not the living of such a life be the most important sign and wonder to us all? And isn’t THAT the ultimate spiritualist revelation?

Newton E. Finn, Fri 31 Dec, 19:16

Dear Mike (Tymn),

It sounds as if Betty White is describing the same “structure” I have been trying for years to show people: How one universe can be present (nanometre-close) to another without contact or communication. If you “see” the simple mathematical necessity for this that is INHERENT IN Einstein’s Relativity it becomes obvious. I DO mean obvious - but there’s a moment of “seeing” that comes first.

Perhaps the new year will be a year of new “seeing” for us all.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 31 Dec, 10:59

I’ve been rereading all my Stewart Edward White books, seven of them, including “The Betty Book” and “The Unobstructed Universe,” and they are much more meaningful to me now then when I read them 25 or so years ago. In fact, I think I’d put the latter book in my top three.  I’ll be discussing Betty White (the medium, not the actress who just turned 100) in the next few blogs, but one thing really jumped out at me in “The Unobstructed Universe.” It was this comment by Betty (communicating through another medium after she transitioned in 1939): She said that her purpose in communicating was to “make reasonable the ‘hereness’ of immortality rather than the ‘thereness’ of it, the one most people subscribe to.”

Michael Tymn, Fri 31 Dec, 05:16

Thanks Jon, for the link to the web-site of English translations of some of Beatrice Brunner’s trance communications.  I too find them very interesting especially when compared with communications from Imperator through William Stainton Moses.  There seems to be a consistency between Brunner’s spirit communications with what is transmitted by various non-German mediums. One has to make allowances for the translation of course but even though the translations may seem somewhat shallow at times, if one intuits the intent of the communication, it is easier to feel the depth of what is being communicated in the original language and the congruence with that communicated by others from the ‘other side’ whether they transmit in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian or Portuguese.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 Dec, 21:37

One of the quotes I like from Chico Xavier in the Bigelow essay about Xavier concerning mediumship and contact with the deceased is that the “‘phone only rings from there to here’ and not ‘from here to there’”  and explained by the essayists “on the grounds that the deceased themselves used Xavier to transmit the messages and it was not up to Xavier to evoke them.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 Dec, 19:51

She was born five weeks before Chico!

Jon, Thu 30 Dec, 17:56

Thanks, Amos. I hadn’t heard of Beatrice Brunner. I found a short video bio of her here.

Very interesting.

Jon, Thu 30 Dec, 17:54

Thanks Michael and Jon for your additional comments about Chico Xavier. I think it is important to be aware of mediums from countries other than the United Kingdom and the United States. Beatrice Brunner was a prominent German medium for 35 years who I don’t see discussed on non-German sites.  I wonder if there are any comparable mediums in the history of China or India? -AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 Dec, 13:43

I agree with Amos.
While he was alive, Chico might well have been the most researched medium in the world, if only in Brazil.

Guy Playfair spent years in Brazil researching mediums and psi and because he spoke and could write Portuguese, had been one of the few researchers outside of Brazil writing in English about Chico, certainly in the UK, I don’t know about elsewhere.

This is what Guy wrote summing him up in his book,” The Flying Cow: Exploring the Psychic World of Brazil”:

“Although Chico deserves, and now has, a book to himself, no survey of the Brazilian psychic scene can be considered complete without mention of this remarkable medium who, on his death in 2002 at the age of 91 was described by no less than President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, as ‘a great spiritual leader who touched the hearts of all Brazilians, who over the years have learned to respect his deep commitment to the well-being of his neighbours.’ In 2010 the Brazilian post office issued a special stamp to mark the centenary of his birth, and two million cinemagoers paid to see the feature film based on his life, entitled simply Chico Xavier, within a month of its release. He had, in short, become a national hero who had even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, no mean feat for the barely educated son of a lottery ticket seller who had dropped out of school at fourteen and done various menial jobs before obtaining regular employment with the Ministry of Agriculture, where he stayed until his retirement in 1961.

“How had he done it? The answer is simple – he was a medium, and an exceptionally gifted one. While still in his teens, he began to write poems, which he always insisted were not his own work but were dictated to him by some of the best known Brazilian and Portuguese poets. He became an overnight literary sensation in 1932 with the publication of a selection of these in Parnaso de Além-Túmulo (Parnassus from Beyond the Grave), and over the next seven decades went on to produce a total of more than 450 books, all of them by ‘spirit authors’. They included novels, both contemporary and historical, stories for children, a history of Brazil, works on Spiritist doctrine, a couple of scientific treatises and a steady flow of poems. With sales nearing the 50 million mark in his lifetime, Chico could have been a rich man. Yet he never accepted payment for anything he wrote, donating all his royalties to an estimated two thousand charitable projects and living on his modest government pension.

“He also brought comfort to many who had lost loved ones prematurely in the form of messages allegedly from the deceased, who would give not only their full names and those of their relatives, but detailed accounts of their cause of death and assurances that they had survived it. One such message became legal history, when a statement from the victim of an accidental shooting was accepted as evidence in court and led to the acquittal of the accused. A follow-up survey of forty-five such communications revealed that they contained not a single statement that was untrue.

“When Chico died, some 120,000 people filed past his coffin, and the governor of his home state of Minas Gerais declared three days of mourning. He was indeed a medium like no other.”

Jon, Thu 30 Dec, 10:35


I meant to add to my last comment that I was very disappointed to see that the authors of the Xavier essay accepted the supposed debunking of Mina Crandon, aka “Margery,” by Houdini.  After a more in-depth study of the Margery case, I am at 92.7% certainty on her.  I have discussed her in prior blogs, but I I’ll get back to her again in a future blog.

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Dec, 21:34


Thanks for suggestion on the essay about Chico Xavier.  I just did a very fast read of it and agree with you for the most part. I was familiar with Xavier and have several of his books.  My blog of November 15, 2010 even linked him with Pearl Curran and Patience Worth.  I’ll have to go back and do a slower read of the essay, but my first thought was that it was presented too scientifically.  The first 11 pages do not even mention Xavier. It’s all about the scientific method, etc.  I was nearly asleep by the time Xavier’s name was first mentioned on page 11.  A more journalistic approach might have resulted in it being a top three winner, i.e., Begin with the highlights of Xavier’s mediumship with a bullet list to draw the lay reader into it and save the scientific aspects of it until later in the paper.

The other problem, as I see it, is that we are told nothing about the researchers and their research is not quoted.  The reader is left to accept the facts as relayed from others by the authors. It is hearsay, not direct evidence.  However, I need to go back and do a slower read of it.  That was my impression after a speed read. It may very well have been too fast a read.  I need no convincing, however, that Chico Xavier was right up there with Pearl Curran and Cora Scott Richmond for that type of mediumship. I would have discussed Pearl and Patience in my essay if allowed more than 25,000 words, but I had already used all 25,000 words by the time I got to the year 1900.  They were in the “icing on the cake” category, as was Chico.

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Dec, 21:18

AOD: Thanks for prompting me to re-read the Bigelow essay about Chico Xavier. It reminded me, like it surely reminded you, of the Patience Worth phenomenon. But as far as either case being proof of an afterlife, how do we get around Walter Prince’s conclusion: that such a body of evidence could point to this-worldly “potencies” yet to be discovered and explained, as easily, perhaps more easily, than it might point to other-worldly influence? To paraphrase Frederic Myers with regard to a table that moved on its own, how does thinking that my deceased grandfather somehow did it get us any further than thinking that I (or others still alive) somehow did it? Michael strives mightily to remove faith and the God question from afterlife evidence, but I submit that an element of faith, a will to believe (if not in God, then in a spiritual world) inevitably colors one’s interpretation of such evidence. In his Lincoln post, Michael observes that “(a) spiritual explanation will always elude science.” I would add reason and logic into the mix—indeed, all of our efforts to obtain conclusive objectivity. Thus Kierkegaard insists that truth is subjectivity, that making a possible truth a personal truth requires a leap of faith, a choice in the midst of uncertainty, uncertainty even as small as Michael’s miniscule percentage of doubt. Without a leap of faith, or, at least a small but definitive step, a risk understood and assumed, won’t we forever be standing at Walter Prince’s crossroads, desperately looking for that final piece of objective evidence to seal the deal?

Newton E. Finn, Wed 29 Dec, 18:09

All I can say is, “Wow”!  I don’t know how many commenters here have had the time or inclination to read some or all of the Bigelow contest winners but I recommend that everyone should read a winning essay by Drs. Rocha, Weiler, and Casseb titled “Mediumship as the Best Evidence for the Afterlife: Francisco Candido Xavier, a White Crow.”

What an exceptionally well-written essay, easily readable and understandable by anyone, even those unfamiliar with the enormous evidence for life after death. As an effort to provide new evidence of life after death as the goal of the Bigelow contest this essay regarding Francisco Candido Xavier, “Chico Xavier”, even ‘out-white-crows’ the more well-known ‘white crow of English readers—-Leonora Piper.  Loaded with facts, clearly presented with examples, the essay fulfills the criteria for presenting new information to anglophile readers rather than just a collection of old material usually well-known to most people interested in paranormal reports. I don’t know how anyone who reads this essay could not agree that it provides good evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that communication from the deceased through a medium can occur.

Clearly presented and not incumbered with philosophical or religious references, I think it should have been one of the top three winners.  It’s that well-done. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 28 Dec, 21:06

You might be interested in a book by Jeffrey J. Butz, with a forward by biblical scholar James Tabor, called “The Secret Legacy of Jesus”.  It has a sensational title, but it is full of scholarship.

The oversimplified short version of what Butz proposes, where it concerns Islam, is that Jesus’ family (i.e., his brothers, etc.) continued the Jesus movement in Jerusalem after his death, eventually coming into conflict with the Apostle Paul.  In 70 AD, after the death of Jesus’ very popular brother James and the coming of the Roman invasion, they evacuated to the East.  Since Paul’s writings appealed to gentiles, and the Jewish communities were scattered, it is Paul’s version that overtook the Jesus’ family story, and it is the one we know today.

The descendants of Jesus’ family and close entourage became known as the Ebionites several centuries later, whose stories eventually, among other things, influenced the prophet of Islam (God rest his soul - although I would guess Mohammed, like all prophets, is not resting but quite active right now, I like to be as respectful of other people’s religions as I can!).

There is considerable scholarship to support this Ebionite version of Christian history.  Books by people like James Tabor and Keith Akers are also worth reading in this regard.

Note:  Akers has a vegetarian agenda about Jesus, that his demonstration in the temple was aimed primarily at stopping the animal sacrifices, in addition to stopping the rip-off of the poor by the priestly establishment. Although I am not, at this point anyway, vegetarian, I find his analysis makes a lot of sense. A neighbor of mine who is a retired professor of ancient history noted that not many ordinary people had much access to meat in the Roman mediterranean, below the latitude where the olive trees stopped.  In fact, some ancient writer had commented on the barbaric meat-eating habits of those northerners!

As always, I am enriched by your blog and the community of people who respond to you.  Thank you, and may you all have a wonderful 2022.  It is easier to deal with all this stuff in the world knowing what we know, isn’t it?

Lloyd, Mon 27 Dec, 20:14

Newton wrote:

“Paul, virtually every take on Jesus imaginable was in play in the first few centuries, from madman to prophet to messiah to mirage to divinity. That much historical scholarship has made plain. The Koran was thus a latecomer in this regard, which has no bearing, of course, on its being right or wrong. Personally speaking, I don’t put much stock in interpretations of Jesus that deny the crucifixion, which seems to be the hardest fact about him that scholarship can recover.”

I completely agree. So good to see folks thinking like me!  Stafford

Stafford Betty, Mon 27 Dec, 18:41

Paul, virtually every take on Jesus imaginable was in play in the first few centuries, from madman to prophet to messiah to mirage to divinity. That much historical scholarship has made plain. The Koran was thus a latecomer in this regard, which has no bearing, of course, on its being right or wrong. Personally speaking, I don’t put much stock in interpretations of Jesus that deny the crucifixion, which seems to be the hardest fact about him that scholarship can recover.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 27 Dec, 16:56


I just watched your latest doc on seances in the White House during Lincoln’s tenure. As always, it’s very informative and well worth a watch for anyone who’s interested in the subject (link below). It goes way beyond whether or not he was a “Spiritualist” or not and I’m not sure that matters. It just a label.

Keep up the good work!

Jon, Sun 26 Dec, 18:30

Stafford, I tried to email you my address but don’t think it went through. My computer’s screwed up and driving me nuts. I’ll try again, but if it doesn’t work, Michael has my email address which he can share with you. I look forward to further conversation.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 26 Dec, 17:20

Dear Stafford, regarding our mutual regard for “Testimony of Light”, I was recently reading your essay, “Why an Investigation of Paranormal Experience Should Be an Essential Component of a Course on Death,” and was highly amused by your nickname for the book, which your students read at the end of your curriculum: “we finish with what I call ‘the bomb.’” (p.265)

Dear Newton, a thought for you to consider.  Is it possible that both Imperator, in “Spirit Teachings”, and historical biblical scholarship were largely preceded in their essential points - particularly regarding both the vicarious atonement and divinity of Christ – by some thirteen centuries in the Qur’an, which strongly challenges these very teachings?  I offer this as an open question requiring further study.

Paul, Sun 26 Dec, 16:58

Newton,you and I have had similar experiences in our religious education. I too was taught the “higher criticism” and found it entirely plausible. I’ve been guided by it ever since. Our favorite sources are also similar, in particular Imperator and William James (as channeled by Jane Roberts).he came n

Your wrote: By the way, are your readers aware that “Spirit Teachings” anticipates in uncanny fashion the painstaking results of historical biblical scholarship that developed only in the 20th Century? Imperator’s approach to scripture is what I was taught in college and seminary a hundred years later. Is that not a sign and wonder in itself?

I give a lot of attention to Imperator (Stainton Moses) in my book The Afterlife Unveiled. Imperator writes: “The drama of Calvary was of man’s not God’s devising.It was not the eternal purpose of God that Jesus should die when the work of the Christ was just commencing. That was man’s work, foul, evil, accursed.” He is saying that the atonement theory is man’s work. I agree.

Let me know your email address if you don’t mind. I’m at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thank you.

Stafford Betty, Sun 26 Dec, 07:11

To lend further credence to the themes of Paul’s Christmas meditation, let me add that a significant number of biblical scholars believe that Philippians 2:6-11 is a hymn of the early Jesus Movement, quoted (not written) by Paul in light of its use in worship during the decades immediately following the crucifixion and resurrection (however the latter is to be understood). If so, this hymn would be among the earliest pieces of the New Testament, perhaps THE earliest. Please note the theology/Christology that is in this apparent hymn (dovetailing with Paul’s themes) and that which is NOT in it, including any notion of atonement by vicarious sacrifice to appease a vengeful God.

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 25 Dec, 16:16

As a kind of Christmas reflection, one way of understanding the nativity of Christ is as being in a sense also his crucifixion.  Of course, this is not what we understand from the Gospel accounts, where the crucifixion lies many years in his future.  It is certainly possible to, as it were, ‘telescope’ the crucifixion onto the nativity, as one finds in the lyrics to the beautiful carol “Bethlehem Down” [; (lyrics)].  But the crucifixion I am gesturing to here is that of the descent of the spiritual or celestial Christ into matter, into the ‘earth plane’.  It is no accident, I would suggest, that symbolically, Christ’s nativity historically falls upon the winter solstice, quite literally the darkest day of the year, or that his ‘earthly death’ came upon a ‘cross of wood’, the cross long being symbolic of the earth through the cardinal directions – or ‘cross’ – established by the use of the gnomon, and ‘dead’ wood being symbolic of ‘prima materia’ or matter.  Thus, Christ’s birth into this world was also his crucifixion upon the cross of matter.

But, of course, as it was with Christ, so it is with us.  We too, having descended into this world through our birth, have in turn been ‘crucified’ through our taking on the challenge and struggle of the limitation of embodiment in matter.  As the pop singer Sting – who, curiously, also recorded “Bethlehem Down” – once crooned, “we are spirits in the material world.”  Just so, for that is our destiny during our sojourn here.  Of course, seeing the truth of our situation also converts the meaning of the crucifixion, one already present in the Gospel accounts, for Christ’s death, for all its agony, is the means to his ascent and return from whence he came.  And so also is it with us.

Of course, rather than speaking of crucifixion, we may – somewhat more appropriately – speak of exile.  Just as the sojourner exiled from his homeland is never at ease, never truly ‘at home’, as when, in Paradise, Dante’s ancestor Cacciaguida prophesies his future exile from his beloved Florence:

“You shall leave everything you love most dearly:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others’ bread, how salt it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
descending and ascending others’ stairs.”
[Paradiso, Canto XVII, lines 55–60, tr. Mandelbaum]

Even more keenly felt is the exile of the spirit, which Rumi expresses in the opening couplets of his poetic masterwork, the Masnavi:

“Listen to the reed and the tale it tells,
how it sings of separation:
Ever since they cut me from the reed bed,
my wail has caused men and women to weep.
I want a heart that is torn open with longing
so that I might share the pain of this love.
Whoever has been parted from his source
longs to return to that state of union.
At every gathering I play my lament.
I’m a friend to both happy and sad.
Each befriended me for his own reasons,
yet none searched out the secrets I contain.
My secret is not different than my lament,
yet this is not for the senses to perceive.”
[Masnavi, Book I, verses 1-7, tr. Helminski]

Here also is a kind of presentiment of the many accounts from NDEs.  Bruce Greyson has commented in his recent book, “After: A Doctor Explores What NDEs Reveal about Life and Beyond” that “difficulties like anger, depression, and a sense of isolation can frequently arise after NDEs.”  He cites a typical example, a woman named Cecilia, who speaks of her return into matter following her NDE as follows:

“My journey back into the real world began. My recovery proved slow and tedious. My body was healing, but I regretted that I had not died. The magnificent peace that I had experienced was something I could not shake. I went through weeks of depression. Everything became such an effort: dressing myself, tying shoes, chewing food, swallowing, driving a car, turning the wheel, walking up stairs, turning doorknobs, walking, walking—everything, even talking! Carrying around the physical body just seemed like too much effort. I remember thinking I might have to wait another twenty years before I would have another opportunity like that. I knew of course that death must come naturally in order for me to enjoy such peace.”

And yet, is this the whole truth of our situation, spirits, like Christ, born here into matter and exile?  Surely not, for the Real is no less present here than in any celestial, discarnate realm.  We are in the midst of the Divine everywhere and always.  It cannot be otherwise, for there not true reality but the Real, “whose center is everywhere and whose bound (or circumference) is nowhere,” [Liber XXIV Philosophorum] in which “we live and move and have our being.” [Acts 17:28, KJV]  The condition that the discarnate William James speaks of:

“…everywhere I sense a presence, or atmosphere, or atmospheric presence that is well-intentioned, gentle yet powerful and all-knowing. …I can point to no one place and identify it as being there in contrast to being someplace else. At the risk of understating, this presence seems more like a loving condition that permeates existence and from which all existence springs.” [William James in Jane Roberts, “The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher,” pp.162-3]

is the condition that pertains here and now – as the great mystics have borne witness to – could we but know it.  How may we live from this understanding?  That is the challenge of our situation.  And here, we find the necessary corrective to the lyric previously quoted, for our being spirits in the material world is only a proximal truth, not an ultimate one, for the ‘material world’ is ultimately a ‘Divine world’, shot through with God’s presence and being.

Having begun with the nativity and crucifixion, let me conclude with the ‘gospel’ (Grk. euangélion) – literally, the ‘good news’ – of our situation: a) the Divine is ever-present, within and without, and b) we are immortal souls upon a journey of ascent and return to the Divine, from which we are never truly separate.  Might that be enough to sustain us, here and now, in the midst of our apparent exile?  Let me quote once more from Dante, from his encounter with the blessed soul of Piccarda Donati, who – expressing her contentment with her ‘placement’ in one of the lowest levels of Paradise – advises him with the words that T.S. Eliot once said were the most profound in all of literature:

“And in His will there is our peace: that sea
to which all beings move…”

Dante, hearing these words, is struck by the same essential insight I have attempted to express above regarding the created order – including the so-called ‘material’ world:

“Then it was clear to me how every place
in Heaven is in Paradise, though grace
does not rain equally from the High Good.”
[Paradiso, Canto III, lines 85-90, tr. Mandelbaum]

Merry Christmas.

Paul, Fri 24 Dec, 22:56

I look at the pictures of the football players on the internet and imagine that none of them probably have ever thought about life after death.  They don’t know who Frederic Myers was, or William Stainton Moses and Imperator, Conan Doyle, Geraldine Cummins, Gladys Leonard, Leonora Piper, Chico Xavier or any other well-known medium or psychic investigator and could not begin to understand the beauty and meaning of poems and novels by Patience Worth or any other written communication transmitted to mediums from another reality.  Automatic writing would be a speech recognition computer program to them.

They have never heard the stories of people who have had an NDE nor would they ever consider reading any of the prize-winning essays in the Bigelow contest if they were able to.  They would probably laugh in disbelief and ridicule of any validated accounts of reincarnated spirit entities. Free from morbid thoughts of death they live a life of opulence, wine, women and song until they crash, in a drug-induced stupor, their Lamborghini into a tree.  And they don’t care!

These are the American gladiators, the heroes of our time who some young people try to emulate and others envy.  Maybe this is the way it should be. Maybe one should just live the life in front of you and not think about the possibility of anything else to come in a future life. Just focus on the moment.  It is kind of an eat- drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-may-die philosophy of life.

Is this all there is? - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 24 Dec, 21:53

Dear Amos,

Your example strikes me as sufficiently absurdist as to require no more than a perfunctory reply.  What you are pointing to is not some failure of religion, but rather the failure of secular, liberal modernity to be able to properly discriminate regarding the entire question of religion, given its overwhelmingly horizontal metaphysical limitation of view.  What you describe is quite evidently an inversion of religion attempting to nevertheless claim religious legitimacy.  In other words, it is a grab at cultural influence and authority through an appeal to secular liberal universalizing sentiments.  Consider a comparative case, that of Communism.  In the twentieth century, the exemplars of Communism – those looked upon as representing the highest ideal and worthy of greatest respect – were Lenin, Stalin and Mao.  All three were effectively, and quite deliberately, ‘canonized’ both during and after their lives: huge portraits – deliberately evoking traditional Orthodox icons – were hung prominently in all significant locations, while Lenin’s mausoleum – again, deliberately evoking that of an Orthodox saint – became a place of mass pilgrimage in Red Square, just as Mao’s mausoleum was to later become in Tiananmen Square.  Even the careful and ongoing chemical preservation of Lenin’s, and later Mao’s, body was a calculated evocation of the incorruptibility of the body as a mark of sanctity, as readers of Dostoyevsky will recall in the scandal of the putrefaction of Alyosha’s beloved and saintly staretz, Father Zossima, in “The Brothers Karamazov”.  Of course, to an Orthodox Christian, all this is, quite rightly, viewed as an abomination.  All three of these ‘exemplars’ were to be counted as among the greatest mass murderers of the twentieth century.

Paul, Fri 24 Dec, 20:32

Thanks, Michael, for wanting to comment on my little blog. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong with the process, but it’s of small account, the blog being largely inactive. I’d love, however, to hear your reaction to “The Answer of Christmas,” so maybe shoot me an email when time permits.

One thing I was able to do with the blog before I got sick was to put up a short series of essays which said things I really wanted to say. Someday, I may get my alternative account of the Jesus story (“Life of Truth”), currently available only as a Kindle e-book, up there on the blog as well.

Unlike a channeling, my Jesus story is entirely synoptic with the canonical gospels; i.e., based upon the sayings, parables, and actions of Jesus as best “higher criticism” can recover them. Like in all mediumistic communications, there’s a lot of bosh to strain out.

By the way, are your readers aware that “Spirit Teachings” anticipates in uncanny fashion the painstaking results of historical biblical scholarship that developed only in the 20th Century? Imperator’s approach to scripture is what I was taught in college and seminary a hundred years later. Is that not a sign and wonder in itself? 

Right now, my focus is right here on this amazing blog, where you keep coming up with one informative and inspirational post after another. Is there a better time than now to ponder the spiritual meaning of Christmas so beautifully expressed in “Spirit Teachings?”

Newton E. Finn, Fri 24 Dec, 18:48

I wonder what Julia Ames would have thought about the display of the Satanic religion currently on display in the Illinois State Capitol rotunda? (She was born in Illinois.)  A swaddled baby version of the deity Baphomet sits alongside a Christmas tree, the Nativity scene and a menorah in the Illinois Capitol.  According to the Satanic Temple’s director of campaign operation, Erin Helian, “Many religions present symbols of their faith at the Capitol. Rather than view these as competing displays, we want the community to appreciate the rich diverse tapestry of beliefs and cultures.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 24 Dec, 17:44


Thanks for the link to your website.  Well stated. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too.

I tried to leave a comment at your website, but it wouldn’t take.  It kept asking for my URL. I don’t think I have a URL.  Do most people have URLs?  Where do I get one?

Michael Tymn, Fri 24 Dec, 07:08

Hi Eric,

Perhaps a posthumous rebuttal is in order?  From Julia Ames, “After Death” (p.158): “The best and loveliest truths in all religions are true, only more true than you at present venture to hope.”

Paul, Thu 23 Dec, 18:27

Dear all,

I’d like to acknowledge gratefully, and approve, what Chicagoan tells us in his comment of a couple of days ago.

If any true statement is a statement of fact within the huge wholeness of the Great Being, ie within God, it is a true statement of science because that huge wholeness (God) contains everything, as the Indic sages realised perhaps about 4000 years ago. God contains science. This being so, there is such a thing as a “religion based on science”. As religion based on human fantasy, ignorant myth, human cruelty, etc has been such an enemy even to itself, a denial of peace, love, joy, trust, and all we recognise as good, I feel we all have more than sufficient reason to base our trust in God (ie our “religion”) in scientific fact wherever we can. In our age, increasingly one of science, perhaps God Her/Himself might like us to find Her/Him in the world we have made for ourselves, and live in due regard for the fact that we have found Him/Her there.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 23 Dec, 12:40

Eric, I so love your words about God; they touch my heart and lift my spirit. He surely can live up to your words about Him, but I, my friend, can’t begin to measure up to what you say about me. For you and for all in Michael’s congregation, a small X-mas gift from a time when I was unaware of spiritualism:

Newton E. Finn, Thu 23 Dec, 03:40

Another fine excursion into your extensive knowledge of the matter at hand Michael.  The quotes are so good and relevant.  Thanks!

gordon phinn, Thu 23 Dec, 00:49

“And Jesus said, ‘The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 23 Dec, 00:31

And I totally forgot to say Newton is surely totally right in what HE says.


Eric Franklin, Wed 22 Dec, 19:30

Dear all,

Newton’s latest comment is surely wise. It is very similar to the words of Imperator to Stainton Moses (for instance section 25 of ‘Spirit Teachings) regarding the authority or lack of authority to be granted the early legends such as the creation myths of Genesis.

Seeing a way that non-contacting inter-penetrating universes might allow the astonishing possibility of Beings living in the sun does not prove that hypothesis true. It merely proves that what astonishes us or causes us ribald mirth can sometimes be true. But then independent proof must be shown. Without independent evidence for that astonishing idea we would ask WHY there should ever be Beings alive in the sun. If they are in another universe (another set of space-time-like dimensions) why should OUR sun be relevant to their dwelling place at all? We have to use our intellects, and always be ready to be wrong, or leave a matter undecided, or to give up what has been DISproved (Popper’s test of scientific reasoning) and go humbly on in our researches. One thing looms out of this line of thought as self-evident: God, by whatever name, however conceptualised, CANNOT be both loving and insistent that we believe certain doctrines or lose His/Her blessings (as I was brought up to believe). And this gives us a clue to the real nature of God (whatever the early creation-myth and pre-science legend-makers may have claimed). And, following that negative proof that God CANNOT be as some have insisted, then, as I have said before, we are “shut up to trust”, having no alternative to trusting, and if God is truly a loving and parental Being, as from time to time our miraculous experiences suggest, we have sufficient reason to do just that, with joy (and not just at the time we call Christmas, of course). Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man [and woman]. And, talking of women, let this not be taken literally, as if I want to peremptorily utter the last comment on another excellent Michael Tymn Blog, please let us hear what many more spiritually-minded ladies think.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Wed 22 Dec, 19:26

When we strain and stretch to put a thin veneer of scientific cred onto “Solar Man” and similar strange and dated spiritualist ideas, aren’t we falling into the same trap that Christian fundamentalists fall into; namely, the sacrificing of reason and common sense in a desperate effort to validate literally our own “sacred” writings? I’m reminded of those fossils God supposedly put in the ground to test our faith in the Genesis creation story, itself a blend of conflicting accounts. Let me quickly add that what I’m NOT talking about is something like Eric’s creative attempt to bring relativity theory into relationship with spiritualism. There is no defensiveness there at all but rather purely progressive thinking, whether it turn out to be right or wrong.

Newton E. Finn, Wed 22 Dec, 16:49

Dear Amos,

You are right in saying that credit should go to the Curies. I did wonder whether to make my comment longer than necessary by mentioning them, and, yes, so far as I know the not-quite-appropriate word (as it later turned out) ‘radioactive’ was given by Madame Curie, but the RADIATIVE activity they studied, and others too, for some years following the ‘death’ of Myers was fission, not fusion, the emission of particles from very large scarcely stable nuclei, not the combination by stages and under huge external forces of the smallest nuclei that exist (hydrogen) to form the next smallest nucleus (helium) with the emission of even more huge energy. That’s how the sun works. Myers rightly mentions SMALL atoms ceasing to be what they were, does he not? This is what the hydrogen atoms do, just as Myers’ account via Cummins claims, despite neither of them knowing the yet-future theory, and they do it by stage-by-stage fusion to become atoms approximately four times as heavy as the originating hydrogen atoms. All ideas have their antecedents, which become traceable only long after the initial research that makes people dishonestly say the ultimately emerging theory had been obvious to them all along. That’s always been the dishonest human mind’s way.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 21 Dec, 23:45

After reading Amos’s account of Gladys Osborne Leonards’s dental procedures, I was prompted to floss earlier than usual. Coincidentally, while looking for something else in a box of old family memorabilia this morning, I came across a 1940 receipt for what was likely my first visit to a dentist.  The charge was $1.50. (My parents saved everything, receipts included. I can’t bring myself to trash them.)

Unable to find what I was looking for and digging into another box of memorabilia, I also came upon the June 19, 1939 issue of LIFE magazine, with Payton Jordan on the cover. He was America’s top sprinter at the time and was supposed to be captain of the U.S. team at the 1940 Olympics, which were canceled after the outbreak of WWII.  Payton went on to become a famous track coach at Stanford University and was coach of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team.  Inside the magazine was a letter dated June 24, 2007 that Payton wrote to me when he was approaching his deathbed. I had clipped the letter to the inside of the magazine after reading it.  After telling me of his cancer issues, Payton ended the letter with: “Crazy, for a guy that always kept fit, ate properly. One needs a few challenges, ‘Right?’ God is always there, thus I am at peace and all will be well. In time, I’ll be with my beloved Marge for all eternity.  Best Always, Payton.”

Michael Tymn, Tue 21 Dec, 09:38


Seth comes to mind as the most dominant “voice” since the mid-60s, while Silver Birch spanned the period from the early 1930s to about 1980. I’ll try to think of others, but I’m pretty sure they would be the top two.

Michael Tymn, Tue 21 Dec, 05:21

Dear Stafford,

I need to add one more to my mini-stack of recent works derived from automatic writing:

Harry Homewood, “Thavis Is Here” (1978)

I have had occasion to mention this before, if not recently.  Despite being originally published as a mass market paperback, it seems to be hardly known in the general posthumous literature.  I’m quite fond of it (although not nearly as fond as I am of “Testimony of Light” or “Road to Immortality”).

Paul, Tue 21 Dec, 04:47

You’ve done it again, Michael!
Another well-thought-out commentary on both the past and present, pros and cons.
It should make us appreciate the fact that we can have it all now, incredible comfort and entertainment/learning opportunities plus convincing evidence of a beneficent afterlife and a community of like-minded, intelligent communicators.
I am soaking in gratitude after reading this.
Suzanne Carter

Suzanne Carter, Tue 21 Dec, 02:44

Dear Stafford,

“Testimony of Light” and “Witness from Beyond” are, of course, wonderful, particularly the former, which I have reread from time to time and marked up extensively.  Three automatic writing favorites of mine that might be sufficiently close to your cutoff to fit your criteria are:

Grace Rosher, “Beyond the Horizon” (1961)
Jane Sherwood, “Post-Mortem Journal” (1964)
Charles Fryer, “A Hand in Dialogue” (1983)

There’s definitely more recent material of note as well, but as I have been thinking about automatic writing (automism), these have stood out in my present mind.

Paul, Tue 21 Dec, 02:36

Mike, I read your latest blog carefully. Here are my thoughts. I have just watched for the second or third time a three part series titled “Ancient Skies.” I have preserved it on my DVR since it first appeared on public television, KHET, on 7/24/19. The first hour long show is titled ” Gods and Monsters” The series takes viewer from the earliest history about 40,000 years ago when some humans left cave dwellings and other artifacts which described their beliefs about the sky above (heavens) and the fire below/volcanoes(hell). The evolution of beliefs based on supernatural to science based explanations is outlined. In the third episode. The clash between the Catholic order based on a flat earth versus Galileo is brought up to the present based on thirty years of feedback from the Hubble telescope. No turning back to superstition, dogma and persecution of those who follow science.
Description of the light bulb example reminded me of my great grandmother. I still have her diary from 1871 in which she describes some of the challenges she faced living in Chicago. She wrote a line about her plans to attend a sermon by Reverend Moody. Her daughter, my grandmother was born in 1890 in Chicago when my great grandmother was 40 years old. She had married for the third time after the first two husbands died early. Granny was raised in 1890s in real poverty. Her father was an Irish immigrant who worked in a steel mill. She lived through the same conditions as Mrs. Lincoln.
I recommend “Ancient Skies” to extend thoughts about life before light bulbs to this attempt to explain the complete evolution by humans of beliefs 1) based on superstition, religion and dogma to 2) beliefs based primarily on scientific method.
Please keep me posted on your future blogs. I will try to keep up on your thoughts and research.

Chicagoan, Tue 21 Dec, 02:30

This mind-blowing interview of Robin Foy by Jeffrey Mishlove offers, like the entirety of Michael’s work, that most precious and increasingly rare “commodity” called HOPE. Is ever-advancing technology, apparently on both sides of the veil, about to enable us to establish, even to the hardest core materialist, the existence of the spirit world? Will all human beings be graced with the desire to discuss and debate, like we here in Michael’s congregation, the niceties and complexities of transcendent realms, especially the impacts they have or should have on this one? If this strikes you as a long shot, let me suggest that it’s likely the ONLY shot we have to bring about a better, more beautiful world before this one collapses or blows itself apart.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 20 Dec, 23:46

More and more books by Chico Xavier are being translated from Portuguese into English with a number of them available on Amazon. These books are finally becoming available to English-only readers. It seems that it would take a lifetime to read and study all of them.

During a period of 60 years Chico wrote over 490 books and several thousand letters claiming to use a process known as “psychography” otherwise known as automatic writing in the English world. I think his primary spirit communicator was “Emmanuel”.  Maybe the English translations will encourage more people who do not speak Portuguese to study the enormous library of these works.
Francisco C. Xavier received books dictated by spirits until he died, a national hero, in 2002. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Dec, 23:29

How you knock these very varied and imaginative blogs out so consistently and quickly, Michael, appears very impressive to me. So no surprise you won a big prize in the Bigelow competition. This blog gives me the opportunity to give a plug to my own latest youtube documentary: 
‘Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist?’
The link is here:

Keith P in England, Mon 20 Dec, 22:01

Another fine blog. Thanks, Michael.

I wonder, however, if more recent times are altogether lacking high-quality communication from the Other Side. Right off the bat I can think of two exceptional reports because I covered them in my book The Afterlife Unveiled. They are Frances Banks’ communication through Helen Greaves in 1965-67, available in Testimony of Light, and A. D. Mattson’s communication through Margaret Flavell in 1971-73, available in Witness from Beyond and, in a later book, Evidence from Beyond. I find these thrilling accounts of the world beyond, and highly consistent with earlier classics like Stainton Moses’ Spirit Teachings and Geraldine Cummins’ The Road to Immortality, featuring communications from Frederic Myers.

I would love to discover other credible, high-quality, book-length communications reaching us through mediums since 1965, even better over the last twenty years. Perhaps we can compile a top-ten list. Judging by titles on Amazon, there might be more than we think! But who has the time to go through all this material?

Please share here what you’ve discovered.


Stafford Betty, Mon 20 Dec, 21:22

One of the things you mentioned that maybe wasn’t so great about the late 1800s and early 1900s was “teeth extracted with plyers and no anesthetics”.  I cannot forget English medium Glady Osborne Leonard’s account of having her teeth pulled in the early part of the 1900 (1913 and 1925).  She wrote about it in her autobiography “My Life In Two Worlds.”  Apparently, she had some serious toothaches which prompted her to have a couple of teeth pulled in 1913.  The dentist apparently could not get the roots out and left “stubs” of the teeth.  By 1925 she developed some serious pain in her teeth with many abscesses which disfigured her whole face.  She subsequently had 19 teeth extracted while under chloroform and ether, lying on her living room couch. (Perhaps that is why one never sees pictures of Mrs. Leonard smiling.)

Here is Mrs. Leonard telling of her ordeal:

“For several days my face had been gradually swelling and discoloring.  By then the left side of my face had swollen to the size of a football and was green, red, purple, and most of the other colours of the rainbow.  One eye was completely closed and I could hardly open my mouth.”

A neighborhood dentist came to her house, examined her and said, ” You have nineteen teeth that must come out as soon as possible.  Some of them are broken off in the gums and will be difficult to dig out, but don’t fear, I shall get them out, but you will have to have chloroform and ether, so you must either go into a nursing home, or I must bring a doctor whom I know down here and perform the operation in your own room”

Mrs. Leonard chose the latter to be done on her living room couch.

She had a problem with becoming unconscious with chloroform and ether and the doctor kept saying “can you still hear me speaking to you?” “And I kept on answering ‘Yes—-I can—-unfortunately—-I wish I couldn’t’ until I really began to think I was never going to ‘go under.’  Then just as I felt like saying, ‘For goodness’ sake, give up trying this—-it’s no good, I can’t become unconscious, I heard a man’s loud voice issuing from my own lips, and knew that I was being controlled by some strong discarnate influence.”

“I think it must have been a very peculiar and trying operation for the dentist and his friend, because during the operation they were being literally bullied into doing this or that, and at one period, when it seemed as if I were regaining consciousness before the extractions were finished, my spirit friends shouted, “Give her some more.”  The doctor looked inquiringly at Mrs. Passy, who knew what was happening and that I was being “controlled” and she felt impressed to say, “Doctor, do give her some more—-please—-at once.”  Well, said the doctor, “she’s already had sufficient for three people, but here goes,” so that I had some more; in fact, I had all the spare stuff they had brought with them, as well as what they expected I might require!”

“[T]he gums had grown right over some of the stumps, entirely concealing them, he [the doctor] had not lanced the gums, but seemed to find the teeth by instinct gently and quietly drawing out each with apparently no effort whatever.” Mrs. Passy told her that in her opinion the doctor was being guided by “somebody who could see the hidden stumps.”  However, “My dentist friend who prides himself on being a stout materialist maintains that he was simply being a little more brilliant.”  “Mrs. Passy and I have our own ideas on the subject and at the back of his mind I believe he thinks as we do but he won’t admit it.”

Mrs. Leonard continues, “Towards evening the poor gums began to rebel against the cutting they had had, and the pain grew worse and worse.  Mrs. Passy told me it was bound to be so, and that if one had only a couple of stumps extracted, one must expect pain afterwards, but after the removal of nineteen, one would certainly have to ‘go through it.’  I did ‘go through it’ and to such an extent that I almost wished I had never had the teeth out, as it was as bad as the most violent toothache.  [T]he dentist showed Mrs. Passy the teeth as he extracted them, and there was an abscess on nearly every one.”

After the dentist and the doctor left, Mrs. Passy’s husband, “who was killed early in the war and who is often near her, controlled me, and spoke to his wife in a clear and evidential way for about ten minutes.”

Various “healing treatments” were provided by friends of Mrs. Leonard and she recovered thanks to the treatments, her Guides and the Guides of others on the Other Side “who work as a team in spiritual things and are always satisfactory and successful.”

Without today’s antibiotics, I am surprised that Mrs. Leonard survived her operation.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Dec, 19:53

I often lose track of time too and forget that a ‘hundred years ago’ was 1922. Happy new year! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Dec, 14:25

Thanks Michael, I also wish you and all the visitors on the blog a lot of light,love, joy and good health in the coming year.
I think it is difficult to know how the people in the time before electricity really felt in the twilight, because they didn’t experienced the ‘light’ alternative. If we think of a world without TV, computers, smartphones ,...many of us would be in panic. To go back after you experienced the alternative seems to be a difficult step.
It is not electricity that causes the darker aspects of our world. It is mankind that does not know to adjust himself to the new technology: who is the master and who is the slave? It takes time and I hope that 2022 will bring us a more connected and loving world…between humans, not between man and his smartphone.

Chris De Cat, Mon 20 Dec, 13:09

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Fallen Soldier Convinces His Famous Father of Life After Death – On September 14, 1915, Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge, the youngest of six sons of Sir Oliver Lodge, a distinguished British physicist and pioneer in electricity and radio, as well as the former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was killed in WWI action in Flanders. Read here
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