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Remembering Patience Worth 100 Years Later —An Interview with Her Foremost Fan

Posted on 17 June 2013, 14:08

It was 100 years ago, on July 6, 1913, that Patience Worth first announced herself to three St. Louis, Missouri women experimenting with a Ouija board as their husbands played pinochle in another room.  She told them that she lived “many moons ago,” but did not want to talk about herself, even though the three women pressed for more information about her.  She wanted to provide knowledge and wisdom, which she did.  Over the next 24 years, she would dictate approximately four million words, including seven books, some short stories, several plays, and numerous poems, many in archaic English.

She received worldwide acclaim in English-speaking countries and was called a literary genius by reviewers from Los Angeles to London.  Her works were compared with Shakespeare and Chaucer. Her most famous work was a 644 page book titled, The Sorry Tale, primarily about the last days of Jesus, which was released in June 1917. Containing some 325,000 words, it was dictated one letter at a time. A reviewer for The New York Globe stated that it exceeded Ben Hur and Quo Vadis as “a quaint realistic narrative.”

It was determined that Pearl Curran, one of those three women first hearing from her, was the actual medium.  She was a 31-year-old housewife with no more than eighth grade education.  Many scholars and scientists studied Mrs. Curran and were completely stymied as to her ability.  It was not scientific to suggest that Patience Worth was a spirit and so the majority opinion was that Patience was s secondary personality in Mrs. Curran’s subconscious.  However, as to how all the knowledge and wisdom got into her subconscious nobody seemed to have any answers.

W. T. Allison, professor of literature at the University of Manitoba, said that Patience Worth “must be regarded as the outstanding phenomenon of our age, and I cannot help thinking of all time.”  And yet, Patience Worth is all but forgotten today, though she still has a few fans around.  Perhaps her foremost fan is Amos Oliver Doyle, (below) who recently started a web site about Patience at  I recently put some questions to Doyle and he graciously responded. 


How did you become interested in the Patience Worth story?

More than 50 years ago I read an article about Patience Worth in a small dusty book in a rural public library. There was only a paragraph or two about her but over the years the story of Patience Worth and Pearl Curran continued to present itself to me.  I bought Irving Litvag’s book Singer in the Shadows when it came out in 1972 and became fascinated by his easily readable story of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth.  Other books followed including   Casper Yost’s book Patience Worth: A Psychic Mystery, Herman Behr’s Light from Beyond , Walter Franklin Prince’s book The Case of Patience Worth and a recent book by Prof. Daniel Shea, The Patience of Pearl.  All of these books helped to keep me fascinated with the story of Patience and Pearl.  I managed to read most of the writings of Patience Worth as well as her original notes stored with the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis.”

What keeps you interested in the story?

“Well, I’m an old man and I would like to know if there is any validity to the hope of mankind for life after death.  I think that the story of Patience Worth and Pearl Curran may provide an additional clue to the answer to that question.”

Do you have any favorite books, poems, or sayings by Patience?

“Wow!  It would take a book to answer that question. It is difficult to select a favorite but several things immediately pop into my mind.  Perhaps I am most appreciative of her poems.  That’s not to say that I find all of them memorable or that they are all gems, but there are many that stick in my memory. 

“When I married my wife, I selected the poem by Patience Worth, ‘Knowing Thee’ to be read as part of the ceremony. The last stanza is ‘Beloved, I might not hope—-had I not heard thy pledge!  Nor could I have believed, save that I had believed in thee!  I could not believe that I might comprehend eternity, save that I had known thy limitless love!  Surely, thou art the symbol of my New Day—-wherein I might read the record of my eternity!’

“There are many favorites but the titles would be meaningless to your readers unless they have access to her work.  I especially like the lines in ‘Predestined Love’ the last of which are ‘Thou, who are but the essence of my song’s wine hast blossomed long before, within its very grape, and ripened with my season’s heat and cold.  Who then denies that from my first voiced crooning, thou hast been the vibrant chord?’

“I find this a beautiful way to write about soul mates. Of course there are many others.  While The Sorry Tale has received the most notoriety and I believe that it is perhaps the most impressive work of Patience Worth, I think that Telka is the most evidential work.  According to Dr. Prince, who investigated the case of Patience Worth in 1925-1926, ‘. . . .  it is a most extraordinary production, deserving to be called a masterpiece.’  This is the work that has many obsolete English (Anglo-Saxon) words once in good usage and many archaic and rare words.  I believe that this work provides the best evidence that the writing of Patience Worth was not coming solely from the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran (below). Dr. Prince documented more than 170 proverbs and aphorisms of Patience.  Several of my favorites are: ‘Some folk, like the bell without a clapper, go clanging on in good faith, believing the good folks can hear them.’ (I think of this when I encounter pseudoskeptics.) ‘Should’st I present thee with a pumpkin, would’st thou desire to count the seeds?’ (I think this is similar to ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ but Dr. Prince had a different interpretation.) ‘A pot of wisdom would boil to nothing ere a doubter deemeth it worth tasting.’  (Again, I think of pseudoskeptics.)”


Many of the learned men who studied Pearl Curran concluded that Patience was a secondary personality buried in her subconscious.  Do you recall having heard or read of any of them venturing an opinion as to how all that archaic language, wit, wisdom, philosophy and knowledge got into her subconscious mind?

“Well, yes, everybody has an opinion about Patience Worth, I suppose.  Unfortunately those who speak the loudest, publish the most or have impressive credentials are often looked to for an explanation of the source of knowledge of Patience Worth. And of course they all have an opinion, but their opinion is just conjecture; they have no facts to support it.  Unfortunately, their opinions are referenced over and over again in other publications as if they were fact.

“Casper Yost wrote a rather comprehensive article, The Problem of Knowledge, concerning Patience Worth.  He was present from the very beginning of the Patience Worth transcriptions and researched the language found in the writing of Patience Worth.  He was also a close friend of Pearl and John Curran and knew Pearl Curran (and Patience) rather well.  I would refer readers to his dissertation in Prince’s book.  I think that ‘problem’ is the biggest stumbling block for most people claiming that Patience Worth was the dissociated secondary personality of Pearl Curran. Perhaps that is why one does not find a lot of vociferous challenges to spiritualistic theories proposed as an explanation of the knowledge of Patience Worth.”

So what is your take on who or what Patience Worth was?

“I guess that my opinion is that I don’t believe that there was a spirit or group of spirits floating around somewhere just waiting for Pearl Curran to contact them at her leisure. The spontaneous repartee from Patience was just too available to Pearl, on cue, as it were. That knowledge evinced by Patience Worth may have been coming from someplace within Pearl, someplace that is variably called the unconscious mind, or subconscious mind , or to use F.W.H. Myers’  term, the subliminal mind. But I can just as well call it her “soul mind.’

“Simplistically speaking,  I think that Pearl Curran may have been the reincarnation of Patience Worth and/or, Telka, or Theia, or Hope Trueblood. Perhaps as proposed by some spiritistic theories, Pearl Curran may be part of a “group soul” an “oversoul, if you will, containing all of those other personalities. An often used analogy is to compare these various identities or personalities to facets in a gem stone. With the current personality being the foremost facet in the current life but the soul entity is not the facet; it is the whole gem stone.  Perhaps what we see in Pearl Curran /Patience Worth is the whole gem stone, that is, the eternal oversoul that contains all of its life experiences.”
You’ve no doubt discussed the Patience Worth story with friends.  What is the usual reaction to the story?

“No, I rarely discuss the Patience Worth story with friends:  Family, yes!  Friends and acquaintances, no! I think I am too reticent to discuss Patience Worth with most people. I like to think that I respect their belief systems and I have no wish to convert anyone to a new paradigm.  It takes a special kind of person to be receptive to Patience Worth.  My wish is to find people interested in literature and to help them to know how good the writing of Patience Worth really is. On the rare occasion that I do bring up Patience Worth, most people don’t react at all.  Well, no, that’s not exactly true; some of them seem receptive but do not follow through by reading any of her writings.”

I recall reading that you did a little genealogical research in an attempt to identify Patience Worth.  What did you find out?

“Well, I am still pursuing that research.  It is not easy to trace the genealogical history of a young unmarried woman with no property purportedly living more than 300 years ago in England.  Patience Worth said that she was from England.  Casper Yost and others, after playing a cat and mouse game with Patience about where she was from, deduced that she must have been from Dorset England.  I think that Patience led them along in this belief but Patience never said she was from Dorsetshire.  After all, the ‘House of Worth’ was in Devon and a major port of debarkation to America from England was Plymouth England in Devonshire not Dorset.

“There is documentation of at least two Patience Worths born in America .  One was the daughter of William Worth and Faith Patterson born in 1681 in New Jersey.  Her brother, William Worth, born in 1682, named his first child Patience Worth also. She later married Benjamin Lawrence in 1742. Neither was the Patience Worth of Pearl Curran; however it wouldn’t surprise me if someone eventually finds that Pearl Curran’s Patience Worth was somehow related to the William Worth family in New Jersey.”

Have you found much interest in the Patience Worth story today?

“No, not really.  Some people say her writing is ‘not understandable.’ They don’t want to make the effort to understand it. Others are interested but need some guidance.  I have had sporadic emails from people who are interested, one of whom wanted to sell me some copies of Pearl’s later efforts at writing for $10,000 but, while I would have liked to have had them, I could not afford them at that price.

“To wind this up, your readers might be interested in one of those ‘Intimations of Immortality’ that happened to me recently.  My stepdaughter started going to a hypnotist for migraine headaches and my wife went along for one session.  The hypnotist has an ex-son-in-law who is somewhat psychic and he did a short reading for my wife.  During the reading, he said ‘Pearl sends her regards.’  Now my wife didn’t know who ‘Pearl’ was, as there is no ‘Pearl ‘ in our family, living or dead, until she remembered that I had an interest in Pearl Curran and Patience Worth and that I had put together an amateur web site of the poems of Patience.  Perhaps that message from Pearl was for me.  I like to think so.  It makes me feel better about everything.”

Patience Sayeth

Many scientists and scholars sat with Pearl Curran and tested Patience Worth by asking her to comment on various subjects.  She would usually respond without hesitation.  Here is some of what Patience had to say:

On how man is to know God:  “Alawk! Thy heart is packed afull o’ Him, brother. Aye, and thou knowest.  Then speak so, and say ‘tis well, for sure as sun shall rise, thy dust shall rise and blow unto new fields of new days.  Thou hast walled up thy heart o’ words and yet it showeth although the patches o’ thy words.”

On wisdom: “Experience bein’ the rootin’, setteth man upon the roadway unto new wisdom and that wisdom is tenuous as moonlight, evasive as smoke, aye, or as mist, all-encompassing as air, sustaining as bread, inexhaustible, ever-reaching, infinite.  Man may take this unto him according to his inclination.”

On hope:  “The seine each man flings to the water of the day, and ah, the motley catch!  And yet, and yet each morrow men do cast and cast, and e’er shall cast and cast and cast.”

On comedy: “The fingers of wit tickling the fat side of wisdom”

On death: “Cheap pence paid for eternity and yet man whines!”

On life: “Life is but a jest – and Death, why Death laughs at the jest.”

On immortality:  “How can I say this thing called Immortality, the ever-is? When it is, there be nae sic a thing as aught else.  The hope of man be in symbol, answered each day – And he will not read.”

On conscience: “Conscience is the wailing of ego o’er its own consciousness.”

On the Golden Rule: “The law of living, and egad, how oft doth man remember it?”

On New York: “ A gaudy bubble paused, reflecting the motley day; A tenuous thing, a magic thing, the culmination of man’s desire, the pinnacle of his attainment, A gaudy bubble.” 

On London:  “Well, I’m sayin’ you, ‘tis a sogged puddin’, Heavy o’ wit, smug in honor, yea, honorable with age.”

On Goethe:  “What a song – and what an understanding! What harmony, what magic trick was his! Behold! he hath made his tongue holy, through his use in utterance of it!”

On Abraham Lincoln:  “Behold, how humility, faith, and simplicity write with sure hand a luminous script ‘pon the page of the day!”

On the doctors of her day:  “A sorry lot, eh? Aye, and they did for to seek of root and herb;—aye, and play ‘pon the wit, or the lackin’ o’ it!”

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. 

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Patience Worth: A Psychic Mystery is available from White Crow Books.

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The Mystery of Od Explained to Catholic Priest by Spirits

Posted on 03 June 2013, 16:28

If there is any book that explains the meaning of life, the spirit world, and communication with the spirit world better than Communication withThe Spirit World of God, authored by Johannes Greber, and published in 1932, I haven’t come across it.  It is as if all pieces of the puzzle are joined together in this 432-page book.

Greber (below) was a Catholic priest in rural Germany when he met a young city boy who went into a trance and was taken over by an apparently advanced spirit who offered an abundance of profound material.  “If you had the complete and unamended text of Christ’s doctrines, many a load imposed by man in the name of religion and Christianity would be taken from your shoulders,” the voice coming through the boy told Greber.  “Many a precept which you are expected to believe, even though, it seems out of all reason, would be discarded because it would be recognized as being wrong, and you, as God’s children could again breathe freely.  As it is, millions of people feel that much of what is being taught today as a part of Christian faith, cannot be true.  From force of habit, they may conform outwardly but there is no true inner conviction.” 


With Greber taking shorthand notes, the spirit went on to explain how several passages in the Bible have been misinterpreted or distorted by scribes.  He pointed out that when the Bible says “God spoke,” it was not God but his spirit messengers. The spirit speaking through the entranced boy told Greber that he would encounter mediums in his parish who would further enlighten him. Not long thereafter, in 1923, Greber was making a sick call on a member of his parish when one of her sons fell into a trance and began writing some profound messages.  Another son began turning his head from side to side against his will.  As it turned out, one son was an automatic writing medium and the other son a trance-speaking medium.  Greber was bewildered.  “The fact that spirits could use human beings in full possession of their faculties as instruments, and especially, that they could cause them to speak and write, was quite outside of my previous experiences,” Greber wrote. “Above all, I was completely at a loss to understand what was taking place…”

As Greber further sat with the two boys and received messages from apparently high spirits, he became convinced that they were advanced spirits, not devious spirits or   wolves in sheep’s clothing.  He eventually took “leave” from the Church, which he left after moving to the United States in 1929. 

Among the many Bible distortions, the spirits told Greber, were those references in the Old Testament which forbid “inquiring of the dead” and saying the “dead know nothing.”  It was pointed out that the word “dead” in the modern versions of the Bible originally meant the “spiritually dead,” and referred to “spirits of the lower spheres” or “inferior spirits.” 

What I found most interesting in this book is the chapter on Od or Odic Force, the name given to ectoplasm (below) years earlier by German scientist Karl von Reichenbach.  (1788-1869). “The body is nothing but od condensed into substance, and this is true of all bodies, not only those of human beings, but of those of animals, plants, and minerals,” Greber was informed. “Their growth and their taking material shape are subject to those self-same laws of odic condensation.”


The spirit went on to explain that in every terrestrial being there are three forms of od – that which has become solid matter and which we call the body, the od of the spirit, and the somewhat more condensed but invisible form referred to as the vital force. “At the death of terrestrial bodies, the odic force remains vested in the spirit, for those bodies possess no independent odic force of their own; it is only the spirits which have taken possession of the bodies which have that power.”

Greber was further informed that od flows through all parts of terrestrial bodies and radiates beyond them to a certain distance.  This radiation has been referred to as the aura.  “It is not visible to your corporeal eyes, but these odic radiations or ‘odic bodies’ can be seen by the so-called clairvoyants endowed with the gift of seeing spirits.” the discourse went on.

“The spirit is the source of life but the shaping and the scope of your lives are determined by the odic force associated with the spirit, and hence called vital force,” the communication continued through one of the two peasant brothers.  “This force manifests itself by vibrations of the od.  Every manifestation of the intellectual life, every manifestation of all life about you in nature, all natural forces are odic vibrations.  All thought and all volition are expressed in the corresponding odic vibrations, set in motion by the spirit, as the bearer of the od.”

Harmony in odic vibrations stands for beauty, health, happiness, peace, and good fortune, Greber was told, while discord in vibrations is the cause of ugliness, sickness, suffering, and unhappiness. “Discordant odic vibrations of the spirit are the diving-rudder of spirit-flight’ harmony, the elevating- rudder.  To banish this inharmonious attitude of its spiritual life is the most important task of every living being.”

What the spirits next told Greber supports my theory about many famous baseball players who leave their teams and go to another city for more money, only to fail in the new city. Examples are numerous.  The communicating spirit informed Greber that the odic vibrations of an individual are influenced by the thoughts and moods of others   In effect, if I am correctly interpreting it and applying it,  the negative energy directed at the player by the fans he “deserted” in his former city of play is absorbed in his odic field and the disharmony results in sub-par performances, at least until his old fans forget about him.

“Od is among the most wonderful things in God’s Creation,” the spirit went on.  “The odic band not alone connects you with everything with which you come into contact in life, but it also reflects your entire existence – every act, every utterance, every thought of yours is reproduced by it as in a film.  It is a ‘Book of Life,’ into which everything is entered.  It is a phonographic record which retains and reproduces everything.  It is a film which does not lie, and whose revelations cannot be denied.  And it is the evidence by which in the end you will be judged by your Creator.”

However, the communicating spirit went on to inform Greber that everything is not predestined.  “Most of it results from the acts of your own free will.  Only the general part is predestined. What you do while traveling the path and how you act at those turning points , is for you to decide.  For that much you are responsible.  Your life has one purpose only: to raise your spirit to a higher level on the road that has been mapped for you and to bring it nearer to God.  Your path through life is one of tests.” Its nature and length are fixed in advance , beyond your control and these you cannot change, do what you will.  The turning points on that path are stations at which you have to pass those tests, and at the end, corporeal death awaits you.  Whether or not you do your duty as you go, depends on yourselves.  Whoever passes the tests, his spirit will continue to progress in the Beyond until it reaches the final goal: union with God.  Whoever fails to pass must take the tests over and over again until he can meet them successfully.  Passing or failing are not predestined, but depend on your own merit or shortcomings.”

The process of materialization and dematerialization was also explained to Greber.  “As you are able to convert matter into steam with the aid of high temperature and even to cause steam to become invisible to the human eye, so also is the spirit world able to dissolve matter completely.  It too makes use of hot power currents, by means of which it converts matter into an od-like etherealized form.  For, as I have explained to you, all matter is nothing but corporealized od which can be dissolved into spiritual od.  Matter which has been converted into od penetrates all substances without meeting resistance, as does all other od, and can be transported to any place whatever, there to be condensed anew into matter.  You speak of this dissolution of matter as dematerialization and of the condensation of od into matter as materialization.”

Greber was informed that the condensation of od in the presence of heat and in bright daylight is not entirely impossible but requires a quantity of od far greater than that available, except in the rarest instances.  “It is therefore childish and a sign of your profound ignorance to such matters, to ridicule the fact that many spiritistic phenomena can be produced successfully only in the dark.  Some of your scientists even assert that darkness is insisted upon only because its facilitates the concealment of ‘spiritistic humbug.’ It would be as reasonable to demand of the photographer that he develop his plates in broad daylight instead of in a dark-room and to call him a fraud because he can do his developing in the dark only.”

It was further explained that there are many degrees of odic condensation or materialization, from that visible only to a clairvoyant to the complete materialization of spirits.  It all depends on the amount of od available to the spirit world. A complete materialization requires so much od than no one medium is capable of supplying it, and the spirits must draw od from others in the room.  This is why partial materializations, such as a hand only, are more common. 

“It was in a form fashioned of materialized od that Christ appeared after His resurrection, and in a similar form that He stood before His disciples, on the Day of the Ascension,” the spirit communicated.  “They saw his odic body dissolve into a cloud of od before their eyes and when the cloud itself had become invisible by further attention, Christ had disappeared from sight.  The general belief that it was an ordinary cloud which hid Christ from His disciples is utterly wrong.” 

More on the enlightenment of Father Greber in a future blog.

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. 

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World Madness and Nihilism go Hand-in-Hand – The madness, craziness, and turmoil we see in the world today seems to have slowly developed in line with the growth of mass communication during the twentieth century, reaching an unimagined deep crater in recent years. As Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding (Sir Hugh Dowding, 1882 – 1970), put it in his 1960 book, "God’s Magic," “The problem of world chaos is linked very closely with the chaos in the mind of humanity.” Dowding is considered by many as the man most responsible for Great Britain’s victory in the 1940 Battle of Britain during World War II. “Man insists on looking outward for causes instead of looking inward. As with the individual, so with a nation. An individual who has an unquiet spirit will have an unquiet environment.” Read here
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