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Why Seeing The Dead Isn’t Always Believing

Posted on 19 October 2015, 12:05

In his recently released book, Vistas of Infinity, Jurgen Ziewe (below) gives details of his many out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and exploration of other realms of existence.  “I, personally, have spent many hundreds of hours in full walking awareness outside of my body on the flip-side of physical life and meticuloulsy recorded what I found in my diaries over a period of more than forty years,” Ziewe offers in the Introduction of the book, subtitled How to Enjoy Life When You Are Dead.


During one of his early OBEs, Ziewe visited his deceased mother.  “The only way I recognized my mother was by her aura and the feeling of her,” he writes. “Nothing of her outer appearance was anything that resembled the woman who had reared me and who I had known all my life.  It was as if she had undergone a total make-over, including cosmetic surgery, and redesigned every single detail of her appearance.  I was struggling to find any characteristic at all which reminded me of her externally.”  Accompanying his mother was his aunt, both women old, wrinkled and worn down when they departed this life but both appearing vivaciously young when Ziewe encountered them in another realm of existence. 

“I had met my mother not all that long ago and had grown accustomed to the fact that it was only too easy to change your looks in these post-Earth life dimensions and how difficult it must be to maintain the same appearance in a world which was so much determined by thoughts and the feelings of the people who lived there,” he says of a later visit with his mother.  Later in the book, he mentions that he did not have one meeting with his mother in which she looked the same as in the previous meeting. 

When I further discussed this with Ziewe by email, he added:  “I noticed people on the astral level manifest their states of minds and inner feelings in their appearance as well as their new assumed identity.”  He referred to a chapter in his book in which he describes meeting a horribly disfigured woman during an OBE.  As he was to find out, the woman was a prostitute who had died from a heroin overdoes.  She did not realize she had “died” until Ziewe informed her. In effect, the woman’s state of mind had manifested in her appearance.

“On the higher, positive levels, humans have an angelic beauty and are often mistaken for angels, but that doesn’t mean their appearance does not change with their intent or a shift of inner feelings,” Ziewe further explained.

In reading Ziewe’s explanation of this, I thought about the experience of Dr. C. J. Ducasse, a philosophy professor at Brown University for 32 years, as he reported it in his 1961 book, A Critical Examination Of The Belief in a Life After Death.  For some two hours, under very good red light, Ducasse observed 18 different materializations, all of them recognized by others in attendance.  In some cases, the materialized entities spoke with the sitters and caressed them.  Finally a materialized form came to Ducasse and spoke to him, but he did not recognize her.  When he asked her to identify herself, she replied that she was his mother. “She did not, however, speak, act, or in the least resemble my mother,” Ducasse wrote. “This was not a disappointment to me since I had gone there for purposes not of consolation but of observation.”  The friend who had taken Ducasse to the circle informed him that his mother had materialized on a number of occasions and that the form sometimes looked like her and sometimes it did not.

In his 1952 book, New Light on Survival, Roy Dixon-Smith, a British military officer, told of his deceased wife Betty materializing with two different mediums.  Because of the “ectoplasmic wrapping,” he could not confirm that it was Betty (below) on the first such materialization, although the voice, shape, and features all appeared to be hers. With the second medium, Minnie Harrison, he clearly recognized Betty and kissed her before he observed her form sink to the floor at his feet, where it dissolved with the last wisp of it drawn into the materialization cabinet.


Dr. John King, a Toronto physician who founded the Canadian Society for Psychical Research, reported on mind-boggling sittings with Joseph Jonson of Toledo, Ohio, during 1911, in his 1920 book, Dawn of the Awakened Mind. His deceased wife, May, (below) materialized on three different sittings with Jonson, but King noted that she appeared shorter than her normal height in the first sitting.  In the second and third sittings she appeared at her normal height, while her form, features, voice, and mannerisms were all that he had become familiar with over his 25-year marriage. She spoke of some very personal matters, things which King said were beyond any research by the medium.  Like Dixon-Smith, King observed his wife’s form dissolve and seemingly disappear into the floor in front of him.


In her 1892 book There is No Death, Florence Marryat, a popular writer of that era, tells of a sitting with a materialization medium in which an old family friend, John Powles, communicated but initially declined to materialize.  Peter, the medium’s spirit control, explained that “he doesn’t want to show himself because he’s not a bit like what he used to be.”  However, when Marryat persuaded him to show himself, she saw only a face that didn’t resemble her old friend in the slightest.  She wrote that it was “hard, stiff, and unlifelike.”  Powles then told her to sit with the medium again and he would try to do better the next time.  At the next sitting, Powles appeared as Marryat remembered him. “The face of John Powles appeared, very different from the time before, as he had his own features and complexion, but his hair and beard (which were auburn during life) appeared phosphoric, as though made of living fire,” Marryat wrote.

After dying in the Titanic disaster of 1912, William T. Stead, a renowned author and social activist, began communicating through several mediums. He explained that there were souls on his side who had the power of sensing people (mediums) who could be used for communication.  One such soul helped him find mediums and showed him how to make his presence known.  It was explained to him that he had to visualize himself among the people in the flesh and imagine that he was standing there in the flesh with a strong light thrown upon himself.  “Hold the visualization very deliberately and in detail, and keep it fixed upon my mind, that at that moment I was there and they were conscious of it,” Stead explained the process.

Stead added that the people at one sitting were able to see only his face because he had seen himself as only a face.  “I imagined the part they would recognize me by.”  It was in the same way he was able to get a message through.  He stood by the medium, concentrated his mind on a short sentence, and repeated it with much emphasis and deliberation until he could hear part of it spoken through the medium.

Communicating through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, Claude Kelway-Bamber, a British pilot killed in the Great War, told his mother that he had to concentrate and will his spirit body to stiffen and consolidate before attempting to communicate with her, and it was not until he had absolute mental command over himself in every detail could he even begin. “I had to learn how to locate in my mind the exact place or distance from my mind to where my toes would be,” he explained, “for I must set the mental picture to get exactly five toes on each foot.  I must then switch off and yet retain the idea while I think of what the top of my head looks like.  I do all this because as soon as I get in touch with these atmospheric forces I have to hold myself together strongly to resist them.  Now, if I am not in a hurry to reach my destination, I do not trouble to do anything further than to keep a clear picture of myself in the proportions in which I appear in my own sphere, and I project my thoughts all the time to the place to which I am going, but the first consideration is always my body.  If I were in a great hurry, directly I started, I should get the picture of myself very clear, and then I should quickly but gradually contract my body from within; only an advanced spirit can do this, not a newcomer.  I begin by drawing my whole consciousness within myself, and in so doing I draw upward and onward each part of my body, making myself very self-centered and brining my extremities nearer to my consciousness.  I have told you my body is made of atoms, but because they are minutely fine I can actually consolidate them into very small space; there is so much God-force holding them together.  When I get near my destination, I gradually and consciously expand my body to normal dimensions.  I only contract my body in this way for emergency traveling, and I know spirits who lave been here many years and who cannot do it; it is only intended for those who have serious and special work to do, in which case it is expedient.”

In effect, we have two different situations here – the OBEs reported by Ziewe in which the spirit’s state of advancement appears to govern the spirit’s appearance, and the mediumship experience in which the materializing spirit has to project a picture of himself as he recalls himself looking when in the flesh into the ectoplasm.  The latter apparently isn’t always that easy and takes some practice by the materializing spirit.

The two situations are not in conflict with each other, since the mediumship experience seems to confirm what Ziewe says about appearance – that is, it is not the same as when in the material life.  It is a matter of recalling the image and projecting it so that those present at the sitting will recognize the spirit as a former loved one or friend.  Dr. Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, reported speaking with a spirit and asking him to show himself, but the spirit replied that he could not show himself as he could not remember what he looked like when in the flesh.   

All that may be too much for the debunker or the person who assumes that celestial conditions must match the terrestrial to accept, but for the more open-minded person it helps turn nonsense into sense.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  November 8


Hi Tom,

I like what you are saying:

>>“When Jurgen is out of body, and having experiences of alternate realities, is he experiencing a reality that exists external to him, is he creating these experiences on his own, or are these experiences purposely fed to him from some outside source?”<<

You could say the same thing about our physical reality, we create our experiences and at the same time they are also “fed to us”.

It is absolutely true, the people who make it into our higher dimensions of reality in full waking consciousness will only ever experience what they are programmed to experience via their cultural background, individuality and temperament, just as we do here in our physical reality.

I am always surprised when Near Death experiencers come back from their ten minute trip to heaven and make statements about the reality of the afterlife as if their experience was all there was to it. I personally am not even sure whether I have even got close to the first rung of the ladder Tom, let alone standing on it. I would call the hundreds of hours spent there an insufficient period to make absolute statements. That is why I limited myself to reporting what I found and experienced first hand, whilst there is an infinity of knowledge that still remains unexplored and shrouded in mystery.

Jurgen Ziewe, Tue 27 Oct, 13:52

I can identify with Leslie’s comments. There have been times in my life when I “knew” more about what is real than I know now. For example, in the late 60s through the early 80s, as a psychologist specializing in brain function, I knew the brain was the source of all human behavior. In the late 80s and early 90s, as a student of A Course in Miracles, I knew that God is the only reality, and the experience we are each having of a material world is a mistake from which we must each awaken and return to our oneness with God. Then I read all of Michael Newton’s books and was certain that I understood what the afterlife was like, followed by numerous other books on the afterlife as experienced through NDEs and those who had died and communicated their experiences through mediums. Along with all of this, I have read Tom Campbell’s My Big TOE, and his theory of everything, based on his OBEs covering a time period similar to Jurgen. Now there are Jurgen’s extensive and detailed experiences describing a reality, I assume, somewhat different from, but in other ways similar to, that described by all of the previous sources that I have mentioned.

I have come to the conclusion that the only reality is the one we each know through our experiences. But then I have to ask, what is the source of our experiences? When Jurgen is out of body, and having experiences of alternate realities, is he experiencing a reality that exists external to him, is he creating these experiences on his own, or are these experiences purposely fed to him from some outside source?  This, of course, applies to each of us and the experiences we are each having right now, as well as the experiences during an NDE and of those who have died. Are there actual material and spiritual realities, or does all of this that we are experiencing, along with those who have died, exist only as thought?

Like Jurgen, I have yet to reach the bottom rung of the ladder.


Tom D, Mon 26 Oct, 20:52


I have asked a lot of questions over many years of people who claim expertise in this area; answers vary widely, few of which carry any credibility.  (Michael has always been one of the few exceptions!) 

It has deeply concerned me when luminaries in this field appear to shrug off anomalies and inconsistencies.  To me, their credibility plunges as a result.  I have to ask myself what else they choose to ignore and why. 

I am an engineer and I have come to recognize over a very long engineering life that, if you don’t understand the anomalies and inconsistencies, you don’t understand the core problem.  Skirting around any small factor is an impediment to solving the problem itself. 

Your reply is a stand-out exception, for which I am most grateful.  In particular, you have confirmed that many communicators, by believing that they know everything when in fact they know next to nothing, actively detract from people like me achieving a batter understanding.  I have your books but have yet to read them – I am always WAY behind in reading! – but they have now been elevated to the top of the list.

Many thanks for your informed comment and explanations.

Leslie Harris, Thu 22 Oct, 23:57

Hi Leslie,
My personal experience is that the so-called Summerland is basically an environment which corresponds to a positive state of mind for the people who have passed on and it can be a million different things to a million different people. In fact each individual, after passing on, will find their way into a region which corresponds with their state of mind, whether positive or negative.

Dead people aren’t any wiser than us or more intelligent. They are just dead. During my astral travel excursions I talked to people who didn’t even know they were dead and had no concept that they could progress to more elevated levels. If such people were to communicate to mediums there would be very little of any value.

Often people who had a NDE, went to “Heaven"and reported their experience back on their return believe they know the truth when in fact they haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve spent many hundreds of hours in full awareness on the non-physical realms, the after-life regions, and feel I haven’t even stepped fully on the bottom rung of the infinite ladder of consciousness. Despite that my two books will clear up many misconceptions and hopefully provide a clearer picture for people who want to know, because they are actual firsthand observations and investigation conducted over a long period of time, not one-offs or quick glimpses.

Jurgen Ziewe, Thu 22 Oct, 12:33

Thank you, Michael and Jurgen, for your further explanations in this matter. 

My initial readings in this field were rather discouraging due to the many anomalies that I encountered.  It was a long time before I realized that many communicating entities had limited knowledge but simply were not aware of it.  The result was that many made definitive statements, not a few of which were nonsensical and contradictory.

Many aspects trouble me not a little.  The whole matter of Summerland is one of them.  Combining the essence of many reports, it is a paradisiacal place in which the residents (individuals, couples and families) swan about endlessly.  The purpose of the whole place, if any, appears to be rather obscure.  There are reports that this level is created by higher level entities.  Whether accurate self-visualization is a component is not clear.  In any event, it appears to be a construction.

There is a logic to advancement to higher levels via learning / enlightenment but the means of such advancement is very ill-defined.  There is vague reference to ‘helping others’ but what assistance residents of a paradise might need is never made clear.

This is one of those situations in which, the more I learn, the less I know!!

Leslie Harris, Thu 22 Oct, 00:50

As mediums, our group has seen the same spirit (one who has self-identified or we see or sense who it is) can present themselves in many different ways.
What we call ignorant spirits can present themselves as animals or strange creatures.
We have found throughout the many years, the spirit’s level of morality (most important aspect), intelligence…as well as their knowledge of an afterlife all play a role.

Yvonne Limoges, Wed 21 Oct, 20:46

Thanks for including my observations in your article. With regard to Leslie’s question, “How do discarnate entities appear to each other?”, I would like to say the following. In my experience I found generally speaking people settle into some state of consistent appearance, but it can and does change. So in a way what you are saying “people revert to their peak physical condition” is generally accurate.

On the Astral level mental communication as well as recognition of the inner person is much more prevalent. People recognize each other more readily than they would do here. As soon as I hugged my mother I had the whole feeling and recognition of her beyond any doubt, despite the fact that she looked so different. It is helpful to consider the Astral plane to be just as solid there as we perceive our physical reality here, but with additional sensory and extrasensory perceptions added and also the world is far more dynamic in many ways as things and objects are materialized without much effort and people’s expressions can change, especially for “newcomers” who are still very much subject to sudden emotions and haven’t managed to adjust to their conditions and control them.

I found in spiritual literature this has not been adequately explored, but when seeing it first hand, during astral projection, this always has a powerful impact on visitors like myself, and can confront you with some bizarre scenarios.

In my book, “Vistas of Infinity”, I describe various dramatic personal changes and situations which are quite fantastic, but achieve the status of normality to the permanent residents there.

Jurgen Ziewe, Wed 21 Oct, 14:20

Enjoyed this one particularly. Thanks a lot Mike. Plenty here that I did not know about the plasticity of appearance.

Keith P in England, Tue 20 Oct, 22:57


In my contacts with the discarnate version of Chopin over the years, I’ve always been disappointed and frustrated not to be able to see his face clearly. I assumed that this was due to my own weakness as a medium.  Yet, I’ve easily seen (in my mind’s eye) the highly detailed clothing that he has put together in order to appear to me.  Now, I’m thinking, maybe it’s because he himself can more easily visualize the costuming than his own face!

Elene Gusch, Tue 20 Oct, 22:11


It is my understanding that discarnates don’t “appear” to each other; rather they “perceive” each other.  Here again, I believe it pretty much goes beyond human comprehension, although spirit communicators often express it in words that we might understand.  It may also be a matter of the level at which the individual finds him/herself, i.e., in the lower levels, we resemble our human selves, but as we progress to higher levels we become more beings of light. 

Considering the fact that there are virtuous people in this life who are not physically attractive and that many attractive people have low moral standards, I find it difficult to believe that the same standards of attractiveness apply in the afterlife.

Michael Tymn, Tue 20 Oct, 20:43

Absolutely fascinating, Mike.  Thanks so much for your blog which, as always, is a marvelous exploration of psychic phenomena.  You and your excellent research are deeply appreciated.  John

John F. Miller, Tue 20 Oct, 06:13

Another very interesting, thought-provoking post.

Mike Schmicker, Tue 20 Oct, 00:47

These remarkable reports raise a question in my mind.  How do discarnate entities appear to each other?  Does each discarnate entity have a natural state of appearance or do they have to manufacture an appearance in the way described in these reports?  Everything else that I have read over many years suggests that everyone reverts to their peak physical condition during their earth life.  Or is everything, as I often suspect, just a mind construct?

Leslie Harris, Mon 19 Oct, 22:40

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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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