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Suspense Novelist Michael Prescott Explores the Non-Fiction of Life After Death

Posted on 18 January 2021, 10:40

Although Michael Prescott is best known as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 22 suspense novels, he is also known for his blog dealing primarily with paranormal and life after death subjects.  Over the past 20 years he has produced more than 1,600 blog posts with more than 50,000 comments by readers.

The end result is a departure from his fiction writing with his just-released The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death, published by White Crow Books.  He begins the book by examining some of the best evidence coming to us from psychical research and parapsychology over the past 138 years, since the organization of the Society for Psychical Research, then asking why, if it is so good, it is not more widely known and accepted. He offers four models of after-death consciousness, discussing each one in separate chapters. “In all four models, the space-time universe rendered by our subjective perception is the tip of the iceberg, with the other nine-tenths hidden from sight,” Prescott explains. “Vast expanses of reality and vast realms of consciousness lie submerged beneath the surface, difficult for us to access. Difficult, but not impossible, as mystics, shamans, mediums, and psychics have attested throughout history.”

As anyone who has thoroughly studied the evidence knows, much of it is vague, abstruse, convoluted, and often inconsistent with established religious dogma and doctrine, as well as with mainstream science. A very abstract picture of the afterlife emerges, one requiring much discernment. In effect, so much of it seems beyond human comprehension.  Nevertheless, enough of it is discernible that the open-minded investigator can begin to see intelligence and clarity in the abstractness. Prescott (below) masterfully makes sense out of what seems like so much nonsense to many.  As he states, it need not be “a baffling anomaly,” but it can be seen as “a logical extension of our experience of reality here and now.” 


I recently put some questions to him by email.

I know you explain this in the book, but can you just briefly summarize how you became interested in the subject of life after death and what keeps you going on it?

The main thing was a kind of early midlife crisis in 1997 when I was 36 years old. Prior to that time, I’d been a complete skeptic with no interest in the paranormal or the afterlife. The only reading I’d done on the subject consisted of books by Martin Gardner and James Randi. I was also influenced by the skeptical opinions of Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, among others. I probably would’ve been a good candidate for membership in CSICOP, as it was then called, had I been more interested in the subject. But in ’97 I began to question my entire worldview. This was, in part, because of an experience I had when trying to come up with the idea for a novel.

I’d hit a brick wall on the book, was very frustrated and depressed, and had pretty much given up, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt an intense urge to sit down at my computer and start typing. I proceeded to type out a ten-page synopsis of an entirely new story that was, in effect, being dictated to me. That synopsis turned into the novel Comes the Dark, the most esoteric and “literary” thing I’ve written.

This experience deeply intrigued me. It got me interested in the subconscious and the idea that the two hemispheres of the brain operate, to some extent, independently of each other. This, in turn, got me to look into the nature of consciousness, which led me in a somewhat spiritual direction. Probably as a result of this, I began to feel that my outlook on life was cramped and shallow – that I was missing the big picture.

And so I began to take the paranormal little more seriously. I proceeded gradually and cautiously, because at first I felt almost foolish reading about this stuff. I started with Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields, went on to evidence for ESP, and eventually crossed the Rubicon by looking seriously at life after death. That is something I never thought I would do.

On a percentage basis, with zero being total disbelief and 100 being absolute certainty with regard to consciousness surviving death, where would you put yourself 30 years ago and where are you now?

30 years ago it was zero. These days it’s probably about 90%, or maybe 95% on some days.

What will it take to get you to 100%?

It will probably take actually dying! Or at least a near-death experience. There’s only so far you can go by reading about a subject or talking with other people, or visiting mediums, or recording dreams, synchronicities, and premonitions, or meditating. I’ve done all those things, and they’re certainly helpful, but they’re not quite enough to get me to 100%.

If you had to pick three cases from the annals of psychical research, parapsychology, and consciousness studies, as most convincing, which ones would you choose?

I think the Bobbie Newlove case, involving the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, is quite compelling. So is the R-101 case involving Eileen Garrett. A more recent case is the Jacqui Poole murder mystery. All three of these cases are covered in my book.

On a more general level, the cross correspondences provide very good evidence of mediumship that goes beyond so-called super-psi, but this is a whole series of cases, not just one. I don’t talk about the cross correspondences in The Far Horizon, though, because the subject is too complicated to be quickly summarized.

Do you see a growing interest in this subject matter or has it pretty much flatlined, maybe even going in reverse?

My personal interest has somewhat flatlined, just because I’ve investigated it for so many years and it’s no longer fresh to me. My book is kind of a summing-up. I wouldn’t have written until I felt I’d gone pretty much as far as I could go.

For society, I think interest is increasing quite a lot. Unfortunately, there’s not that much new research being done. As you know better than almost anyone, the heyday of research into the afterlife was the late 19th century and early 20th century, when there were some very prominent people involved, notably William James. I don’t know of anyone today of similar prominence who is willing to stick up for this type of work.

Worse, there is very little funding. The quickest way to short-circuit your career in the sciences is to decide to study the paranormal, especially life after death. Very few people want to commit career suicide. I don’t think this will change any time soon because the “scientific-government complex” is implacably hostile to such ideas. And most scientific funding, as well as publication in mainstream peer-reviewed journals and tenure in academic institutions, is controlled by that complex. I’m talking about the US. Perhaps in other countries, there’s more open-mindedness. I don’t know.

Why so much resistance on a subject that seemingly should be welcomed by the masses?

I don’t think the subject is resisted by the masses. When I bring up my interest in the paranormal and the afterlife with regular folks, I often find they’ve had experiences of their own that they want to share. But they keep these accounts to themselves unless they feel comfortable opening up.

The whole idea, however, is strongly resisted by the elites, who are thoroughly materialistic in their philosophy. Even very creative, intelligent people in the establishment – for instance, Elon Musk – seem boxed in by materialistic thinking. For instance, when Musk talks about the universe as a virtual-reality simulation, he appears to see it as being literally a program run on some extraterrestrial computer. That’s a purely materialistic, and rather naïve, interpretation of an idea that can be interpreted in much more spiritual terms.

In my book, I go into the simulation hypothesis as one model of reality, but I make it clear that I’m not talking about a literal computer program. Instead, I’m speaking of an informational matrix that exists in a realm beyond the space-time universe we experience. It’s essentially the same thing as Immanuel Kant’s noumenal realm, as distinct from the phenomenal realm of direct experience. Or it could be compared to Plato’s world of Forms, the true reality that we perceive only as shadows on a wall.

Unfortunately, materialistic tendencies intrude even into afterlife studies. We’ve seen attempts by people over the years to build a machine that can communicate with the dead. One such device, dubbed Spiricom, was the subject of John Fuller’s book The Ghost of 29 Megacycles. While you never know what might work, I don’t have a particularly high opinion of such efforts. For me, it’s not about building a better mousetrap. We need to learn to adjust our consciousness, not improve our technology.

You’ve been self-publishing lately. Why did you decide to go with White Crow Books for this title?

Originally I was going to put it out myself, something I’ve been doing since around 2011 after my twenty-year traditional publishing career petered out. I’ve done well with ebooks. For a while I was making more money in that marketplace then I ever made with Penguin. But lately sales have dropped off. So when Jon Beecher of White Crow Books said he’d gotten wind of my project and was interested in it, I was happy to talk to him. He’s a really nice guy with a fascinating life story, and his company has put out many high-quality books, including yours. I felt he could do more with The Far Horizon than I could do on my own.

What is the key message of your book?

The key message is that life after death doesn’t have to be compartmentalized in our thinking. We don’t have to use one set of concepts or metaphors to understand the universe around us, and then come up with a whole new set of concepts and metaphors to make sense out of the afterlife. We can see both types of existence – our incarnational existence and our postmortem existence – as part of a continuum.

To do this requires grasping one essential fact, namely, that all experience is subjective. While I argue that there is an objective basis for our experience, this doesn’t change the fact that experience itself is, by its nature, subjective. You can’t have an experience without an object to apprehend and a subject who apprehends it, something to perceive and a mind that perceives. And as far as experience per se is concerned, perception is reality. It is impossible to detach one’s perception of the event from the event itself, because the event exists, for us, only in our perception of it.

If we see reality in these terms, then postmortem reality simply involves a shift in focus — we redirect our attention from one level of experience to another. Or we alter our consciousness from one degree of perception to another. It amounts to the same thing.

We need to get away from the idea that, in dying, we are physically traveling to some other physical location that we call the afterlife. It is more like a change in perception – a broadening or widening of perception – which is why mind-expanding drugs can bring about experiences that have a lot in common with NDEs and OBEs.

In other words, it’s all about consciousness, and if we see consciousness as existing along a spectrum of frequencies, then dying is no more than dialing up to a higher frequency. Which, of course, is another of the models I explore in The Far Horizon!

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 forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.

The Far Horizon: Perspectives on Life Beyond Death by Michael Prescott is published by White Crow Books.


Next blog post:  Feb. 4.







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Opera Composer Tells of Psychic & Mediumistic Experiences

Posted on 04 January 2021, 9:40

In his 1929 book, A Curious Life, George Wehner (1890-1970) offers much food for thought relative to clairvoyance and trance mediumship, especially the speaking of foreign languages through a medium.  Although I could find little else about Wehner, he does mention being studied by researchers representing the American Society for Psychical Research and comes across as a very sincere and credible person.

My internet search for Wehner turned up a report in the archives of the New York Public Library, describing him as an “eccentric, but prolific artist.”  He was a composer, actor, writer, painter, and spiritualist who “who led an extraordinary varied, yet strangely productive life.” He produced many hit opera scores and his paintings were exhibited in various galleries. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Wehner grew up in Detroit and Newburgh, New York. 

According to the archives report, Wehner began composing music at age five.  Inspired by his interaction with an encampment of Ojibway Indians, he composed a four-act opera, which earned him a scholarship to the Michigan Conservatory of Music in 1908.  He studied composition, theory and piano and later taught at the conservatory before moving to New York City during the 1920s.  “His musical output became even more prodigious during the last two decades of his life, when he composed the music and wrote the librettos for fourteen operas,” the report states. 

The first few chapters of Wehner’s book relate many psychic experiences during his childhood, including what today might be interpreted as encounters with “grays” those little beings often associated with UFOs. “[The strange creatures] were sometimes four or five feet in height, and they wore no clothing, being sort of halfway between human and animal,” he wrote.  “They had rather short legs, long arms, and wide frog-mouths in their clumsy ill-shapen heads.  Their eyes were also froglike and faintly luminous. In color, their skins, if they can be so called, were gray like the bark of the tree from which they came, or pale yellow, and sometimes greenish.”  Wehner’s experience would have been around 1900, before other reports of grays, at least any I am aware of.

Wehner’s description of observing his mother’s death, when he was in his teens, is especially interesting.  “A misty blue-white form, the counterpart of my mother’s, but radiant, like a blue-white diamond’s flame, was slowly rising from her body in the bed,” he wrote. “This form lifted at an angle, the feet rising higher than the head.  The form now seemed to try to free itself, and after several tugs, the misty head separated from the body’s head, and the freed form righted itself in the air exactly as a log rights itself after it has been dropped into the water.  For a second, I saw several arms and hands materialize in the air and reach downward to welcome the new-born soul.  Then, like a shadow, the spirit-form of my beloved mother glided rapidly upward through a corner of the ceiling – and she was gone into the everlasting life of the Beyond!” 

Of his music ability, Wehner explained that it came from inspiration, not study. In fact, when he began studying piano, theory, and harmony at the conservatory, he struggled with reconciling what came to him “inspirationally” with what he was being taught.  While still a student, he was made assistant teacher of harmony and gave lessons to others on the piano.

It was while still attending the conservatory that Wehner suffered a strange illness, one involving many dizzy spells and which was diagnosed by a doctor as a nervous breakdown. The illness lasted for several months and the doctor told him that his recovery was doubtful.  However, one morning he heard a loud voice telling him not to pay attention to the doctor and to resume his studies. He immediately began to recover. It wasn’t long thereafter that the parents of one of his students, both spiritualists, suggested to him that they believed him to be a medium.  Until that time, Wehner had never associated his childhood clairvoyance with mediumship and had only a vague idea what a medium was.

While attending a séance with the student’s parents, Wehner observed the medium, Mrs. Marion Carpenter, speak in trance and at the same time found himself drifting off and seeing spirits. “A group of them were gathered behind the medium gazing fixedly at her as if concentrating upon her work,” he remembered. “Directly behind her stood the spirit of a man who appeared to be literally speaking into and through the back of her head.”  Wehner then realized that his past experiences were similar and that he, too, must be a medium. He was then persuaded to give trance mediumship a try. 

“I began to feel very drowsy,” he recalled his first experience. “We had said the Lord’s prayer and were singing hymns.  It seemed churchy and monotonous to me, and as I saw nothing, and nothing seemed likely to happen, I decided to yield to my drowsiness. I went to sleep.” When he awoke, he was told by his friends that he had been in a trance and that many veridical messages had come through for his friends.  An old Indian, White Cloud, had spoken and said he was Wehner’s guiding spirit and had been with him since birth.  His mother also spoke, sending messages for her sisters and telling her son that his curious illness was a result of chemical changes in his body and were necessary for him to work as a trance medium.

Many trance sessions would follow.  “We would sit for a short time in darkness, then in a subdued light.  In those days it used to take quite a while – sometimes three-quarters of an hour before I would become entranced.”  Wehner’s Aunt Lillian was part of their Saturday-night circle and was also mediumistic, producing etherealizations and partial materializations.  “As a rule, these astral forms would emerge from the cabinet, although sometimes a misty mass would appear near Aunt Lillian and gradually rear or build itself up into the semblance of a human form,” Wehner recalled. “This always frightened Lillian very much.  We never saw any distinct features, but the forms appeared to be men and women, and sometimes children. Often the forms of animals, usually cats and dogs, birds, and butterflies, would appear.  We could see straight through the ethereal forms, but the materializations were more solid.”

Wehner added that only rarely could they distinguish the clothing worn by the spirits, but when they did, it was always plain ordinary clothing. “There were times too, when we did not bother to put up the curtains of the cabinet, and the forms would appear just the same, emerging from the corner where the cabinet should have been.  Rapidly, we were becoming spiritualists.”

During a sitting with a medium referred to as Mrs. Tixier, Wehner observed mist-like substances floating around the room. “A few of these wraiths showed remarkably clear features, but most of them were indistinct and full of ghastly holes caused by lack of power to draw themselves a sufficient quantity of atoms from the mediums and the sitters,” he explained. “None of them appeared to linger, but passed rapidly through the walls, ceiling and floor, and many seemed to disintegrate in the air before our eyes.” He noted that not everyone in the room saw these manifestations with the same degree of plainness.

When World War I began in 1914, Wehner tried to enlist, but was rejected because his physical condition was not up to the required standards. “During these war years we had great difficulty with our Saturday night circles,” he recorded. “Our seances were besieged with the spirits of soldiers who had just passed over and who did not know that they were ‘dead’!  Many believed they were still fighting, others sought their relatives, and some screamed or moaned in their suffering. We could not make them believe they were no longer on the earth. Spirits told us just how long the war would last, and their prophesies proved true.”

According to what Wehner was told upon coming out of trance, spirits spoke through him in German, French, Hebrew, Hindu, Yiddish, and an American Indian dialect. “In speaking foreign languages through me, spirits are not often able to speak them fluently, or for any length of time,” he explained his understanding of it. “But they are able with words and more or less broken phrases to make their ideas clear. The reason for this difficulty is, that I, the medium, do not know these languages. Therefore, before they can pronounce a word they have to create that thought in my brain, for the brain is their seat of control. But when they are speaking my own language they have but to touch the brain-cells already charged with the desired word-thoughts. It is like playing upon the keys of an organ. In reality spirits do not need to speak their own language at all. When they do so it is only to prove that they can, or to prove identity. Thought is a universal language, and spirits have but to think their thoughts into the medium’s brain and the ideas will automatically be expressed in the medium’s native language. Spirits have often sung their native folk-songs through me in the voices of both men and women.”

Wehner pointed out that he did not need to go into trance to receive messages, but his guides preferred it, explaining to him that in the unconscious state there is less chance of his own mind or subconscious mind coloring the messages.  “With conscious clairvoyance, the medium hears what he is saying, and it is almost impossible for him to keep his mind from forming conjectures about what he is repeating for the spirit,” he further explained. “I know this to be true from my own clairvoyant readings.”

Asked about White Cloud, his chief guide, or control, and why so many American Indians filled that role, Wehner replied that his understanding was that they lived so close to the earth’s great currents and before contamination by the forces of civilization they had few real vices and natural psychical faculties that were not dulled.  “In passing from their earthly bodies Indians did not at once progress to other planes,” he went on. “They remained near, and even on earth, constituting a spiritual part of the nature-forces they had loved and worshiped.”

As for music, Wehner claimed that the rhythms of jazz, with its dissonances and often primitive noises, create an atmosphere that too often attracts the undesirable kind of spirits.  “It awakens the primitive instincts of the listeners and is too apt to stir the animal propensities…”  One can only wonder what the yelling and screaming that passes for music today attracts or awakens.

Wehner concluded the book with a story related to him by his aunts relative to the passing of his 91-year-old grandmother.  His aunts informed him that they heard his Grandmother Haslett exclaiming “Light-light-light.” They gathered in her room and found her sitting up in bed. “Look,” she said, “the beautiful light – can’t you see it filling my room?” But the aunts did not see it.  The grandmother then stretched out her arms, one which had been paralyzed for eleven years and cried out joyously, “Oh, can’t you see them coming for me – mother, father, Ben?” (Ben was her husband.)

The grandmother then greeted her children and other relatives who had preceded her in death years before.  “All my loved ones are here waiting,” she told the aunts. “It is the happiest hour of my life.  At last I am going to them.”

Next blog post: January 18

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 forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is released on January 26, 2021.

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Ukraine War: A Story of Survival, Sacrifice, and Service – If charitable service to those in need is the ultimate in spirituality here in the physical life, this book most certainly deals with spiritual matters. The author, Amber Poole, an American woman and her husband, Paul, from Scotland but with Polish roots, operated an educational center in Poland when the Russians attacked Ukraine in 2022. As many Ukrainians fled to Poland, they turned their center into a home for as many as 40 refugees. The author kept a very interesting “war diary” over the first 18 months of the war, discussing everything from the cultural adjustments required by both the Polish and the Ukrainians to her own reactions and adjustments, as well as philosophical concerns and conflicts that often surfaced. In spite of the adversity and distress, she embraced the adversity. Read here
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