You gather round the table. A time to celebrate they say.
With thanks to Cyrus Kirkpatrick for permission to reprint his article. Cyrus also has written a book about “Understanding Life After Death” available through Amazon, Book Depository, links below.
Those of us who’ve read any amount of spiritual literature will find more than a few contradictions. Among the most noticeable relates to the conditions of our existence immediately post death. There are two camps:
The first camp believes that when we die, we more or less retain things like our individualities, personalities, and level of knowledge before we died. In other words, “the journey continues.”
The second camp believes we are instantly transformed into Beings of Light. Any flaws or issues we had in this life are immediately purified. You may hear this camp say things like, “Everything in this world is a stage when we die the play ends, and we return to Source.”
And, there’s a reasonable third “grey area” that may be a mix of both elements.
The first camp is supported, in particular, by researchers of direct spirit communication. That includes information presented through physical mediumship sources (such as David Thompson, Scott Milligan, Leslie Flint, and others) as well as most information from Spiritualist sources dating all the way back to Swedenborg in the 1700s. This opinion is also commonly supported by out-of-body practitioners who have experienced leaving their bodies and communicating with the deceased – often discovering people from this world living surprisingly similar lives as before they crossed over – within a different, albeit modified or enhanced, version of our current universe.
These are not the only sources. Another example is Paramahansa Yogananda, the Indian yogi/guru who penned “Autobiography of a Yogi.” This highly influential spiritual teacher from the early 20th century famously recounts what the astral realm is like – and it matches up in a consistent way. He describes the other side as amazingly similar to our world. According to Yogananda, this is because the astral plane is also a bodily incarnation (and counts as a realm that one may reincarnate into). He teaches his followers to be mindful of their journey and their karma, because death will not provide instant spiritual attainment, but is merely a continuation of another physical existence. No matter what, we must walk the path of spiritual attainment ourselves, no matter how long it takes.
The Instant-Enlightenment Camp
The second camp is primarily reinforced by literature from near death experience books, pop mediumship, and channelers. It’s also part of an overall culture in various pop-spirituality circles.
As an example, the popular “Channeling Erik” community has included alleged communications from highly negative people in this life, such as Hitler. In the Channeling Hitler video, a medium suggests that Hitler was an “angelic” entity; and apparently suffering no great consequences in the afterlife. The Channeling Erik community also published an alleged channelling of the San Bernadino ISIS-affiliated shooters; who lost their lives during a 2015 terrorist attack. Going by the narrative that all who die are transformed into Beings of Light – there was no mention of consequences for their actions.
Another site that proposes this theory is Afterlife 101. This highly singular perspective of the other side proposes all who cross over enter a purely non-physical domain as Light Beings, that our individualities blend and dissolve, negative emotions do not exist, and we each become spiritually omniscient. In this view, there is no physical element to the afterlife and the dichotomy of mind influencing matter dissolves into the afterlife being pure “mind.” This creates a common interpretation that the afterlife itself is a dream-like, insubstantial realm (this is in conflict with the reports by direct spirit communication).
(To be fair, I am uncertain what the Afterlife 101 alleged channellers say about negative consequences for actions in this life. I find their work to be unbearable to read—but they may, in fact, warn about negative consequences of actions somewhere in their essays. I haven’t seen it, though.)
Today, this point of view is commonly associated with the New Age movement and sprinkled throughout metaphysical books, TV shows and communities.
Why the Instant-Enlightenment Idea is a Philosophical Nightmare
Now, at last, I am going to editorialise about this subject. The second camp—the Instant Enlightenment people—have been drawn in by a seductive, albeit highly limiting, point of view.
What this philosophy teaches is that no matter how messed up your life is—all you have to do is die and all your problems are instantly solved, because we are each a “Being of Light” waiting to emerge.
You can be utterly useless in this life—not lifting a finger to help people around you—in fact, you could even be a murderous monster—and you will STILL become a “Being of Light” as, after all, life is just a stage and we are its actors.
There is the very little conception of what we even do in our Light Being form. Literal descriptions of the afterlife from this camp are often negligent and devoid of details. As our imaginations are left to wander, most of us conceptualise a form of the religious imagery of sitting on top a cloud—basking in only positive emotions for eternity.
Nonetheless, the heavenly cloud concept where we all become angels is a fun way to completely alleviate oneself of responsibility. It’s also an extremely marketable message. It’s the pinnacle of the pop self-help movement; where adherents of “The Secret” believe they can visualise chocolate cake making them thin—and now they can indulge in whatever they desire. Now, their endless issues, addictions and personality problems too can be alleviated through the simple act of dying.
I am absolutely amazed by the stunning lack of critical thinking in this community. No proponent of this point of view that I’ve met has stopped to think, “You know, if there are no consequences and we all become angels, this means life can be spent in an utterly nihilistic fashion. I could rape, murder and pillage without consequence because every action is pre-determined as part of God’s plan.”
This point of view also makes our individual existences highly transient; that we essentially dissolve who we are at death.
This point of view is ultimately what some in the afterlife community have dubbed McSpirituality, where instant enlightenment is handed out with the same level of discrimination as a fast food clerk handing out cheeseburgers. In this view, we do not need to practice a path of service to others to raise our vibrations—nor a path of raising our own consciousness—because we automatically become All-Knowing.
What Spirits Actually Say
All reputable spirit communication warns against the mythology of death alleviating all problems. Mature spiritual information, like that which is taught by Silver Birch (brought from the highly reputed medium Maurice Barbanel), is that we are inexorably linked to our actions in this life, that the afterlife is only one step above the world where we live now and higher realms must be earned. Far from all souls becoming Beings of Light, if we perform cruel actions against others we will fall back into dismal, dark planes and conditions—such as the horrific realms described in Anthony Borgia’s seminal work “Life in the World Unseen” (written through the channelled spirit Monsieur Hugh Benson).
Through my own experiences in out-of-body states (as I describe in, ” Understanding Life After Death”), I’ve interviewed those living on the other side of the veil who describe their lives as being similar to before they died. Many have jobs, friends and interests—dwelling in physical existences, often at the prime of their lives (28-32) and in perfect health. While this condition is less physical than how we are now, it’s far from existence as an orb of light devoid of human characteristics.
As this realm closest to us in the astral is more like a continuation, it also means a realm filled with varied personalities and interests, with both a negative and positive spectrum. This astral existence is consistent with reports throughout the long history of spirit contact, including the concept that many of us go on to work in “rescue teams” to assist people trapped in dark, dismal or even hellish conditions.
The denial of the existence of the negative spectrum flies in the face of centuries of contact with the other side. Essentially, it’s like throwing out libraries of knowledge and replacing it with some New Age authors who appeared once on Oprah.
Where Some of this Information Comes From
My personal theory about this philosophy is that it’s a gross mistranslation of sporadic reports stemming from channelled spirits of a higher density (keeping in mind that channelling is one of the least reliable ways to glean spirit information).
It’s safe to say the astral plane is a real density we transfer our consciousness to at death—due to an endless amount of reports of physical realms similar to our own Earth. However, there’s a smaller but relevant amount of reports (especially in NDE literature) of cosmic or celestial realms where our individual minds connect to our Higher Selves.
These realms are often beyond description, and are certainly not dismal existences on clouds, but are realms where the individual soul is completing a timeless journey of self-refinement and knowledge, coming into being in a realm where they have merged almost entirely with a “divine” level of their existence commonly known as the Higher Self.
I think at times a person has incarnated on Earth who is an extremely “old” soul. Such a soul may belong naturally to these celestial realms, and during an NDE for instance—they glimpse such a realm and report their experiences.
(As a side note, these types of realms are generally “beyond” the scope of an incarnated existence, which includes both this realm and the astral—which as Yogananda described is also an incarnation. However, just because a soul may journey beyond physical incarnation does not mean the inhabitants of those realms are disconnected from incarnated realms and exist forever floating on some cloud. In fact, it would seem even exalted spirits attuned to their Higher Selves and originating in such realms can appear as physical humans in not only the astral dimension—but even as incarnated persons on this planet.)
The mistake occurs when “the masses” read these accounts but fail to apply critical thinking. They come to the incorrect conclusion that these celestial realms are accessible by everyone—even the most dismal or cruel souls. In a desire to avoid the responsibility of spiritual progression (a long, hard process) they reaffirm their belief system by convincing themselves that even an entity as dark as Hitler is just as progressed as Buddha—that everyone is on the same page, and everyone is instantly enlightened.
Finally, I believe this point of view is heavily influenced by Western Christianity infused into our ways of thinking. Since the rise of the New Age movement, we’ve found a convergence occurs between Christian thought and Spiritualist thought. In some cases, people cling to the ideas of theological merging – that our individual existences are forfeit in the light of God. They may also cling to the imagery of “angels” and the idea of becoming perfect or exalted merely through being “saved.” The idea of death creating instant enlightenment is reminiscent of Christian theory that a cruel, dark person can merely renounce Satan and praise Jesus at the end of his life – and instantly go to heaven and become an angel.
It’s nothing short of wishful thinking.
Link to Cyrus Kirkpatrick’s book from:
What a delightful novel, J R Archer’s, “A Dog’s View of Love, Life and Death” is to read. Those of us who enjoy the company of our best friend would not be surprised that they have a greater purpose than just remind us of and give unconditional love. Rosie and Rags while going through their doggie days are not only interacting with an attractive small cast of humans and other canines but manage to sprinkle lightly some seriously valuable advice and information.
The story set in New York dog rescue unit which has its interesting sub-story, of course, involves humans and dogs who are linked together by circumstances that invite consideration from the interesting perspective of this novel. Rosie and Rags are extraordinary characters who not only are fountains of knowledge regarding spiritual matters but also endearing teachers, to human and canines alike.
From the publisher’s website:
In A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death, human beings, content they know the answers to life’s big questions, continue making the same mistakes time and time again. Dogs, being their closest non-human companions and knowing a little more than humans think they know, assist them discreetly with their evolution of consciousness.
After spending twelve years paralysed from the neck down, Seamus McGarry can’t quite believe he’s communicating telepathically with a dog named Rosie.
Millionaire Will Roper is living the life and feeling in control of his destiny. But his anger issues are landing him in hot water. If that isn’t enough, Saddam Hussein, his dead mother’s dog, and a man living in a doorway have all crossed his path. Things will never be the same again.
Old-timer Lennon, a Harlequin Great Dane, New York, born and bred, feels life is passing him by. That is until a dog shows up at the shelter and helps him understand his existence here isn’t quite what it seems.
Dolores Fanon, a recovering addict, has been clean and relatively serene for 3 years. However, life’s just dealt her a low blow. She’s struggling to cope, and when a psychic working for the N.Y.P.D. appears in her life, secrets from the past come flooding into the present.
With great imagination and spiritual insight, J. R. Archer imbues his beloved animal characters with enlightened personalities and telepathic abilities stemming from their unconditional love. Through a profound connection to human beings, these dogs teach us about the real nature of life and death. Anyone who has ever felt close to an animal companion will gain a new understanding of this relationship by reading Archer’s novel, and all of us will benefit from the wisdom the dogs provide about the human journey through the school of life.
~ Leslie Kean, New York Times bestselling author of UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Go on the Record and Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife
In his debut novel, J.R. Archer offers a warm and whimsical meditation on life’s meaning and the soul’s journey, as understood by the more advanced souls among us – our canine companions. I only hope that someday I can be as wise as the four-legged heroes of A Dog’s View of Love, Life, and Death.
~ Michael Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of Skin in the Game and The Street.
Generally, I read for enlightenment, not entertainment. Thus, I rarely read fiction. However, because I know the author and also because I was intrigued by the title, I decided to read this novel. I’m glad I did, and I can honestly and objectively say it is both enlightening and entertaining. In fact, it is the most entertaining book I can recall reading.
~ Michael E. Tymn, Editor, Journal for Spirituality and Consciousness Studies, and author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die
If like us, you feel that your dogs were brought into your life to teach you spiritual lessons, you will absolutely love this wonderful book. J. R. Archer takes us on a roller coaster adventure through New York with a cast of characters across the social spectrum who are dealing with everything that life can throw at them. Supporting them all with brilliant spiritual advice are two fur angels, Rosie and Rags, who are able to connect telepathically with the humans, and other dogs, who cross their paths. Fast-paced and full of action, this is a book that will resonate with lovers of animals and all those who have ever wondered if there is anything beyond this life.
~ Victor and Wendy Zammit, co-authors of A Lawyer Presents the Evidence for the Afterlife and The Friday Afterlife Report.
… a metaphysical brain teaser and an indictment of excess in all its forms.
~ Publishers Weekly.
About the author
J. R. Archer incarnated somewhere on the planet during the latter half of the twentieth century. He spent his life living as someone else until he wrote this story. At the time of writing, Rags and Rosie are in the body and enjoying this incarnation.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published June 2017
Size: 203 x 127 mm
Maurice Barbanell (1902-1981) was an accomplished journalist and superb medium for the Teachings of Silver Birch. The description of “life after life” in his book “They Shall Be Comforted” is well worth sharing.
If you are currently grieving the passing of a loved one, you are urged to read this extract.
One day after “death” you will be the same individual as you were one day before it, except that you will have discarded your physical body. You will express yourself through your etheric body, which is a replica of the physical one. It does not, however, reproduce any of its imperfections.
All disease and infirmities will be left behind. The deaf will hear. The dumb will speak. The blind will see. The cripple will be a cripple no longer.
You must try and understand that life in the spirit world is not dreamy or nebulous. It is full of activity. It is just as real as the life that each one of us lives here. We are accustomed to thinking of the material world as being real and solid, although actually, this is not so, as the science of physics proves. The things of the mind, or the spirit, seem to us shadowy and vague, but to those who live on the Other Side, the mental is the real and the physical is the shadow.
This doubtless will be hard for you to grasp, but you will find a perfect analogy if you think of your dreams. When you dream, all the things that you encounter are real at the time of their happening. They only become dreams when you wake up. If you never woke up, and dreaming was the perpetual state of your existence, then that state would become your reality.
The spirit world is round and about us. Some people see it and hear it because they can tune into its vibrations. It is not situated in some far-off continent. It is a part of the universe, blending and intermingling with the physical world.
You must dismiss from your mind the old-fashioned theological idea that, after “death,” there is an undisturbed eternal sleep. There may be, at first, a short time of rest to enable the newly-arrived spirit to adjust himself to his new life. This usually takes a little time. Then he meets those who have preceded him. Families are reunited. Old associations are re-established. Friendships are renewed.
I know the question you will ask is, “How will I be able to recognise those who have gone before?” This is not a real difficulty. They will know you, having watched over you and kept in constant touch with you. Then, because the spirit world is a place where thought is the reality, they will be able to show themselves to you as you knew them.
There is, however, one great factor always operating in the spirit world – the unalterable law of attraction. Only those of like spiritual qualities can meet on the same plane in the new life. The husband and wife, who were only held together on earth by a legal tie, and between whom no real love existed, will not be together in spirit life.
Sometimes, people are puzzled because they learn that there are houses on the Other Side. You must remember, though, these are not houses made of bricks and mortar but constructed out of thought. This applies also to the clothing that is worn.
The instinct to clothe oneself is deeply rooted and has become habitual. No one would dream of walking through the streets unclothed. This habit is part of our mental make-up. That is why it persists on the Other Side where mental states are the reality.
“What about food?” you may ask. “Do they eat?”
As long as there is a desire for food, this mental desire is mentally satisfied. As long as the individual craves for food and drink, he can obtain the illusion of what he requires – and it satisfies him. You may call this material if you like, but it is far more sane and logical than pearly gates and golden harps!
In the spirit world, there are no language difficulties. All people of all nations speak the same language – thought. There are no words to be mouthed, for ideas are conveyed telepathically, from one person to another. Words, after all, are but clumsy substitutions for thoughts. They are artificial means by which we communicate our ideas to one another. But words can never adequately express the thoughts one is trying to convey.
One day, when the human race has evolved, language will be abolished. We will have learnt how to send our ideas to each other telepathically. Then, many of our international difficulties will disappear.
In the spirit world, each person’s thoughts are known and cannot be hidden. There can be no deception of pretence. Every individual is known for what he is. He cannot deceive anybody, for lying is impossible.
“What about age?” you may ask. “What happens to old people who pass on?”
Physical age and mental growth do not proceed at the same rate. We rashly judge a man’s mentality by the age of his physical body here. On the Other Side of life, it is the mind which survives, and mental growth consists of progress towards maturity. Little children will grow older. The old people grow younger in spirit.
What work do they do? Each person seeks to express his natural bent. In this earthly life of ours, there are thousands of singers who have never sung; actors who have never acted; painters who have never painted; poets who have never written a line of poetry; musicians who have never composed a note of music. All these talents have never had an opportunity of being expressed, because through economic circumstances usually, the owners had to follow some other occupation to secure their bread and butter.
On the Other Side, they can express their talents. There are no square pegs in round holes in that world. For them, life is one continuous road of progress, each person striving to eliminate the dross from his nature and perfecting his own being. In that striving for perfection, there is no limit. It goes on for eternity.
The spirit world will not be so unfamiliar as we think because … most of us visit it in our sleep state. Unfortunately, few of us remember what transpires. When, however, we pass on, the law of association of ideas will recall our nocturnal experiences.
Of course, it takes some time for the newly arrived spirit to acclimatise himself to the conditions of life on the Other Side. This process of awakening differs according to the knowledge of spirit life that the “dead” man had before his passing. The more ignorant he was, the longer it will take him to familiarise himself with his new conditions.
Then, too, those who were trained in very orthodox ideas, with rigid conceptions of after-“death” states, experience a great difficulty, because the next stage of life being a mental one, they live in the mental world they have created, until they have evolved sufficiently to dispel this illusion.
When we pass on, we do not enter Heaven through “pearly gates”, neither do we descend to Hell through lakes of “fire and brimstone”. Nor do we sleep forever.
Each one of us naturally gravitates to the spiritual sphere for which we are fitted, according to the life we have lived and the character we have evolved here. We cannot occupy a higher sphere than the spiritual status we have reached, nor will we desire to occupy a lower one. Automatically, we shall go just to that plane of spirit life for which we are fitted. We shall not be able to pretend that we are better or worse, for stripped of our physical body we shall be revealed and known for what we are.
People who have lived normal lives will not find anything to disappoint them when they arrive in the spirit world. It is the selfish man who has to face great difficulties, due to these earthly habits which act as a barrier to be overcome by progress before he is fitted to associate with those he loves. If by virtue of life he has lived upon earth, he has cut himself off from those who love him, that will be his hell.
What is heaven? It is the reward of a life wisely spent on earth, for it will mean that automatically we reach those we love … heaven and hell are mental states. Of course, those who dwell on a higher plane can, if they so desire, visit spirits on relatively lower spheres. This they often do. But it is impossible for those on lower planes to visit those on higher.
In many cases, those who “die” go through a difficult period of stress, due to the fact they cannot reach the ones they love on earth. When they have awakened to an understanding of their new life, they naturally return to their loved ones to try to tell them of their survival. They find it hard to understand that while they can see the earthly members of their families, the bereaved are unable to sense the presence of those for whom they are mourning.
This is a very poignant sorrow that thousands of spirits experience. They do all they can to attract the attention of earthly friends, but too often they fail and have to leave them disconsolate.
By some law which we do not understand, those on the Other Side know a little beforehand when somebody is going to pass from this world. They make the necessary preparations to greet them and to help them with their passing. This explains the fact that on hundreds of occasions people before they “die” have named “dead” relatives they said they could see in the room. Sometimes these spirit relatives have been seen by those in attendance on the “dying” person.
Clairvoyants who have witnessed the “death” of an individual tell us that they see a replica of the physical body gradually rise, connected for a while by a thread (it is what the Bible describes as the “silver cord”) which is attached to a vicinity near the brain. When the thread is snapped, “death” takes place. This etheric body is then seen to rise upwards until it disappears from view.
The one thing that brings the greatest sorrow to those who have passed on is our excessive grief. This, curiously enough, acts as a deterrent to their getting close to us. They do not like the constant visits to the graveyard as they know they are not there. Most Spiritualists make a habit of placing flowers near the photograph of the one who has passed on, particularly remembering anniversaries. This serves to perpetuate the idea that the spirit is constantly in the home.
Spiritualist also indulge in the habit of mentally communicating with those who have passed on by sending them messages, treating them as if they were actually present in the room. I know that these messages are received, for again and again I have heard spirit return thanks for this communion and give evidence that he has received it by repeating to the medium some of the ideas expressed.
Spirit life is not a state of vagueness or eternal sleep, but one of activity and labour. Idleness and unemployment do not exist there. There is plenty for all to do, although I know it is difficult for us who are immersed in material affairs to appreciate the activities of the spiritual world.
Apart from labour, there is the opportunity for recreation and enjoyment. There are means of education and instruction in all branches of life – in just that particular form of knowledge which the spirit desires.
Of course, many of them are engaged in tasks which mean co-operation with people in this world. Some of them are hard at work helping to make communication between the two worlds easier.
Others, attracted by people in our world who are following similar lines of research, industry, art or reform, naturally return to inspire those efforts, although often people in this world are unconscious of spirit interest.
(from “They Shall Be Comforted” by Maurice Barbanell,
published by the Psychic Book Club, London. Not dated.)
Thank You ~ A Sincere Word of Appreciation…
For the people who contributed so that iDigitalMedium can have the funds to incorporate as a non-profit – we say thank you.
I personally guarantee that your trust in us was not misplaced, as we will show in the remainder of this year and beyond. We’re working stiffs – just like you, and we are proud to partner up with you for the greatest challenge of our age.
A total of $875 was raised from all sources (online and offline). The reason the fundraiser shows a goal of $380 is because a few donors had given prior to the creation of the GoFundMe.
This fundraiser was a success – thanks to YOU! Did you know the cost of just filing with the IRS alone as a non-profit is $400? And when GoFundMe takes their 8% fee we’ll likely have just enough to get started out on the right foot with the rest of the official filings.
And for that, we thank you. Stay tuned as we revamp the website to be exactly what you – “The People” have you demonstrated you want it to be:
A place that will make it EASY to find information regarding life after death, a team that will SEEK this information out, as well as SAVE it for our children and our children’s children.
Keith, and The iDigitalMedium Team
I have found a fantastic site that is doing an incredible job in bringing spirit into the open and making information freely available for all. The mission of this organisation is to: Advance Knowledge of Life After Death, Research & Development of Communication with Spirit, Preserve History, Provide Inspiration, Promote Teamwork, and Build a Network. The organisation is IDigitalMedium and can be found on this link: https://idigitalmedium.com/
As a grieving mother, I have spent thousands of dollars attempting to get “messages” from my daughter, and there was more than one person happy to relieve me of my money especially those early dark days of mad grief. At IDigitalMedium there is just so much information for free I just had to share, and I wished I had known about earlier. One page that I am like a kid in the lolly shop is the books page. Amazing people have put up books that are helpful, many have led to books that are free, so many aspects of spirit life I still have not got to the bottom of the first list. Here is a link to that page: https://idigitalmedium.com/books/
However the next close second oh okay, sometimes I go here first is the page of websites. On this page is a list of websites all with some link to the spirit in some way. Some are historical, some are about research happening now, some help us to help ourselves to begin our communication with our children, research from yesterday. Honestly a plethora of information I cannot begin to tell you how much there is. The link to that page is here: https://idigitalmedium.com/websites/
IDigitalMedium has a project happening at the moment that I will tell you about. They are coordinating a global thank you effort for Mr Bacci. I first heard of and watched Mr Bacci when I began looking at how to communicate with spirit. Mr Bacci is now an elderly man and no longer is working due to ill health, but for decades and decades from a humble, simple room filled with grieving people he would tweak his old valve radio and bring through the voices of spirit. In all that time he did not charge. He has been studied, watched by researchers and cynics, and no one can claim any issue with what he does. He is truly a pioneer. How many times do you mean to say thanks to someone but put it off and say oh I will do it next time I see her, or want to say something but that time never comes. This is an opportunity to thank a man who has been selfless in his service to grieving people, and I was proud and privileged to be able to participate because he showed to me that it can be done. Details of Mr Bacci and his work and some films can be found here: https://idigitalmedium.com/
After reading N. Riley Heagerty’s book “The French Revelation” about Emily French I was quick to purchase his latest book Portraits from Beyond: The Mediumship of the Bangs Sisters. I was not disappointed. I thank White Crow Books for their excellent review which is reproduced below.
Within the little known ‘Century of Wonders’ between 1848 and 1948 in America, the physical phenomena manifesting in the séance rooms of the great psychic mediums baffles description. Two of its most famous mediums and yet, most vilified by the conjurers and critics of that day, were the Bangs Sisters, May and Elizabeth, of Chicago.
In their presence, spirits of the departed would manifest and precipitate directly on to a blank canvas in front of the astonished witnesses and, equally wondrous, spirit writing would manifest directly on to blank sheets of paper or slates.
The present work, by author and researcher N. Riley Heagerty, explores through rare source material and eyewitness accounts by people of unimpeachable character, the seemingly “ miraculous ” phenomena that was produced. In a fair and balanced manner, the writer also takes a close look at the most heated and public charges of fraud brought against these Chicago wonder workers.
This in depth, complete work, the first of its kind, unravels the truth of the great psychic mystery of the Bangs Sisters.
About the author
N. Riley Heagerty, has been involved non-stop in research involving Spiritualism and Physical Mediumship since 1985.
He has, up to the present day, collected and read more than 600 books – mostly rare, on the subject, and has lectured extensively in England and America. His first published book, The French Revelation, dealt exclusively with the Independent Voice mediumship of Mrs. Emily S. French, of Rochester, New York.
Mr. Heagerty, considered one of the leading authorities on American Physical Mediumship in the United States has said, “The research of Mediumship and Spirit Communication is just as exciting and enthralling to me in the present day as it was during the first days of my research. It is an ongoing adventure that will never cease. The subject is vast, marvelous and contains, in this researchers opinion, the most important truths we could ever know. The heyday of Spiritualism, what I have termed the ‘Century of Wonders,’ existed between 1848 & 1948. Mrs. French along with May and Elizabeth Bangs are just three of the many that demonstrated their wondrous gifts within this time period and I am honored to write about them. “
In the Christian Bible there are detailed accounts of communication with spirits by clairvoyance; seeing spirits in their minds and then describing what they had seen. The medium is the connection between the living and the dead.
Many methods were used to contact the spirit world. The most outstanding example was Moses receiving the Ten Commandments written by the fingers of God. This was a fine example of psychography or more commonly known as slate writing in spiritualist language. In the mid 19th century, spirits produced knocks or raps on walls, floors, tables and ceilings. This phenomenon was refined by the Fox Sisters, Kate and Maggie on March 31, 1848 when a system of two way communication was established from the spirit of Charles Rosna. This date is known as the advent of Modern Spiritualism. Later developments brought slate writing, automatic writing and artwork; all were a means of communicating with spirits.
The Bangs Sisters, Elizabeth and May, were two of the most well-known physical mediums of the later 19th century and early 20th centuries. The sister’s phenomena started when they were young girls quite unexpectedly when furniture would move and levitate and coal would appear in the room they were in from unseen forces. Later in their young lives they were caught up in the Spiritualist movement and began to experience and produce slate writing, automatic writing and art work—precipitated portraits that would appear on a blank canvas of the deceased during a séance. The portraits first appeared as a drab black and white image then, with practice, and as their powers increased, appeared in brilliant colors. The Bangs Sisters traveled from their home town of Chicago, Illinois to Chesterfield Indiana, and Lily Dale, New York across the United States to every major city and into the European Continent. The Bangs Sisters have been remembered most for their Precipitated Spirit Painting mediumship.
N. Riley Heagerty; spiritualist, author, researcher and friend, has compiled research from all known and obsolete journals, newspapers, books and archives across the United States and Europe to arrange all the available information concerning the Bangs Sisters that has ever been placed in one book. This work has been a work of obsession and love for the Religion of Spiritualism and the complete and fair evaluation of the Bangs Sisters. This book, the following pages, should be considered the definitive research book concerning the Bangs Sisters and related Spiritualist phenomena.
Ron Nagy, Historian,
Lily Dale, NY
Whatever the humblest men affirm from their own experience is always worth listening to, but what even the cleverest of men, in their ignorance deny, is never worth a moment’s attention. ~ Sir William Barrett
It is an honor to have written this book concerning the Bangs Sisters and their phenomena. They have been a part of my life for many a year. My first published work about them was a lengthy serialized article within the British publication of the late Noah’s Ark Society, The Newsletter, which ran in consecutive instalments from January to November, 1997, and also later on in 2006, a lengthy article I did on the Bangs was published by The Zerdin Buzzsheet, the premier publication concerning physical mediumship, also in England. On the complete cover of two of the issues of the Newsletter and the one Buzzsheet, which was 8 x 12, were color photos of spirit precipitated portraits by the Bangs Sisters. I was truly honored. I have lectured in both America and England on the Bangs phenomena and the reaction from the audience is always the same: complete wonder and astonishment at the phenomena itself, then an amazed confusion at how they could not have known about these seemingly miraculous events before and, of course, the automatic response from some that it must be fraud because it is far too incredible to be true; simply too much for them to comprehend.
Historic American Spiritualism, the heyday of which this researcher would place between 1848 and 1948, does not reside within the mainstream of contemporary thought but, if we were living in Chicago or, better yet, the famous Spiritualist towns of Camp Chesterfield, Indiana, or Lily Dale, New York, in the year say, 1909, we most certainly would have heard of the famous Bangs Sisters but alas, we are not. An in-depth look at the lives and phenomena of these two mediums was necessary. This is, in my opinion, the only way that a fair, intelligent and reasoned balance can be attained in understanding the authentic records of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship. Just peeking below the surface with these matters is not enough. One must dive deep to find the pearls.
My first book, The French Revelation, was a rescue operation, saving from a certain march into obscurity and oblivion the séance records contained within the rare, out of print books and unpublished material of Edward C. Randall and his work with one of the greatest American independent voice mediums, Emily S. French. That work was published as a complete edition. Mrs. French’s mediumship was without controversy, with the exception of a report filed by Dr. Isaac K. Funk (1839-1912), and this was, in turn, recanted by himself when he, predeceasing Mrs. French by one year, manifested of all things, at one of her last séances, speaking in his own voice. The Bangs Sisters story, which is also a complete work, is more complicated and their phenomena of independent writing and most notably, their precipitated spirit portraits, were prone to attacks, some from individuals with names of distinction, such as Hereward Carrington (1880-1958) the British psychic investigator and author, and David P. Abbott (1863-1934) the amateur magician, inventor and author. One need only read the well-researched but amplified-article by Teller and Todd Karr: “ David P. Abbott and the Notorious Bangs Sisters” to understand how the press of the day, around 1905-1909, mainly the Chicago Daily Tribune and the Washington Post, were openly hostile towards these mediums. Within my own research, I have found that the highly evidential reports of the Bangs phenomena, when looked at closely and balanced within the court of common sense, by far and away, outweigh the negative, jaundiced reports. The reports of fraud, were somewhat boisterous and rabid, but few—pale in comparison with eyewitness reports of individuals of unimpeachable character that crush those negative theories and accusations, no matter how aggressive or intellectually elaborate they were, into dust. Scandalous character assassinations, just as much now as then, generate more headlines. David P. Abbott, early on, referred to the Bangs precipitated spirit portraits as: “The most remarkable mediumistic performance ever given to the world,” but naturally assumed, like most of the conjuring fraternity, of which he was an amateur, that if any form of physical phenomena manifesting in a séance could be duplicated by magic, then it conclusively proved fraud on the part of the mediums. These belligerent, crass assumptions, stated publicly—and which did, I am sure, unmask fraudulent mediums in certain cases, and all the better for it—were the standard mode of operation for the critics of the day. Like a terrorist who throws a rock, then runs like a coward, we have examples such as Mr. Abbott who wrote: The Spirit Portrait Mystery: Its Final Solution, but, did Mr. Abbott actually sit in the presence of the Bangs Sisters for a precipitated spirit portrait and actually witness what he said and what he based his theories on? We shall see. This has been examined in total within this work along with another “sensational expose” published in 1901 by an English investigator of psychic phenomena, Reverend Stanley L. Krebs, entitled: A Description of Some Trick Methods Used by Miss Bangs of Chicago. Also, the necessary reports of Hereward Carrington, mentioned above, have been included.
The book is illustrated, with numerous photographs of Bangs precipitated spirit portraits I have located, and many black and white photos of others from rare books. Many portraits and photos, knew what he witnessed with Mrs. French was highly evidential and genuine, but left loop holes in his findings. He stated at that séance (speaking from the spirit world) with Mrs. French after being told by Edward Randall that he had failed at the crucial moment to publish the truth which could have helped humanity: “I realize that now more than ever. It is a fact that I was afraid of the criticism of men of science. I now regret very much that I did not fully publish my conclusions. In my own mind there was no doubt.” unfortunately, had no written history with them to give us an idea of when or where they were precipitated, and for whom. There were, over the course of the Bangs career, hundreds and hundreds, better yet, thousands of precipitated portraits done. Many have been lost to the ages, or could be sitting in attics or basements, collecting dust and, I am sure, many have been unknowingly and sadly, consigned to the trash heap. In one astounding instance, which took place in January 1910, the Bangs Sisters had put on an exhibition in Kansas City of over one hundred precipitated spirit portraits and allegorical scenes of the spirit world. Dr. C. H. Carson, who arranged the announcement, said: “Nothing before seen can compare with the marvelous beauty of these psychic pictures and creations from an unseen world.” (See Chap.3) I am looking out the window as I write this, shaking my head in wonderment at where those portraits could be and trying to imagine what it must have been like to witness: the easels, a hundred of them situated throughout the hall; the colors of the event, and the turn of the century vernacular and dress. I have traveled far and have corresponded with experts to obtain photos, including England, California, Wisconsin, Indiana and New York. My friend, Ron Nagy, the historian and researcher at Lily Dale, New York, knows and understands the great mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Bangs portraits. His important work is discussed in the Appendices and is quoted at certain times throughout this book. As far as this work, I had to conclude my search so I could get the book published otherwise I could probably have spent the rest of my life searching for these elusive gems. For someone like myself who never likes to give up, this was tough, but necessary. Coincidentally, a beautiful Bangs Sisters spirit precipitated portrait turned up from Pennsylvania, while I was putting this book together. It was of James A. Stone and I am honored to include a photo of it. I would also like to say that I encourage everyone who reads this work to take the time to go and see for yourself the Bangs portraits at Lily Dale and at the Hett Memorial Art Museum at Camp Chesterfield. Knowing something of the history of them makes seeing them all the more incredible and you will know exactly what I mean when you see them up close.
I am compelled to do research on the great, early mediums because I feel that the modern world, thanks to outdated religious concepts and scientific bias, has been kept woefully unaware of phenomenal events that have happened within the great century between 1848 and 1948 which, in thousands of reported instances through mediumship, positively prove life after death and spirit communication. My so-called mission statement (if there ever was one) of why I do this research was instigated in many respects by the following facts. In certain instances involving reports of the Near Death Experience (NDE), the individual who has temporarily died and has gone to the world of spirits is met by a guide who, after hearing the plea by the person to continue in their new life in spirit rather than go back to the earth again, simply states to the individual, “Now that we have talked about your ongoing need to keep going here in this wondrous new life, tell me…” the guide now asks, “What have you done for mankind?” Many individuals do not know how to answer that simple but profound question and then decide that the only reasonable thing they can do is go back to earth and exact some kind of change, on whatever level, that aids to the moral or physical uplifting of humanity. This affected how I saw doing this research work and publishing the results. It is something, to me, that just might help humanity, however great or small, and possibly raise its spiritual consciousness. The world should be allowed to have access to the past records of what took place with so many of the great pioneer mediums. It is part of history and should not be consigned to the dark hole of obscurity. Truth always finds its way and, in this case, I don’t mind helping it do so.
By compiling this material, and editing it into one all-inclusive edition (everything available that I could find), it will make accessible to the reader an abundance of rare spirit precipitated portraits, all of which are more than 110-120 years old, and authentic eye-witness accounts and reports of one of the most stupendous events that has ever manifested within the records of Historic American Spiritualism: the phenomenal Bangs Sisters. What was once hidden in obscurity can now live again. The night brings forth the stars.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published September 2016
Size: 229 x 150 mm