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Last revised: 9 September 2008

Contents

The Darkness of Death is a Path of Light to Us

Death is Nothing More Than a New Birth
Death is Merely the Casting off of the Garment of Flesh
The Joy, the Ecstacy of Dying
We Laugh at Death
We Rejoice When an Old Friend Joins Us

Pre-Transition Circumstances Vary

The Moment of Death is the Severance of the Silver Cord
Circumstances Vary
Death is Painless; Most People do not Suffer
For Most People, Death is a Brief Sleep Following a Gradual Decline
Some See a Tunnel and a Light
Transitions Accompanied by Experiences of Enlightenment
For Some, Death is a Sudden or Violent Transition
Some Leave Their Body Before Death
Most Transitions are Attended
Some are Met Before or After Death by Loved Ones
Spirits Intimate that Their Deaths Were Planned
Some Realize They had been Prepared by Sleep Visits
Case Studies: The Moment of Death
A Transition that Results in a Stage of Enlightenment (Cosmic Consciousness)

Mass Transitions

Wartime Deaths
Multitudes Arrive at Once in Times of Disaster and War
The Case of W.T. Stead and the Titanic



The Darkness of Death is a Path of Light to Us

Death is Nothing More Than a New Birth

Death only exists for the living, not for us. (Julia Ames, AD, 84.)

What you call death … is really the entrance into life. (Julia Ames, AD, 64.)

Death, as [you] call it, is nothing more than a new birth. … We are even more alive than before. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 66.)

Death to you is a darkened way; to us it is a path of light. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 91.)

The change from the shadows into the sunlight, from night to day, is not greater than that between your world and ours. (John Heslop, SABL,119.)

There should be no fear of death for the death of the body is but a gentle passing to a much freer life. (Frances Banks, TOL, 121.)

We do not die and there is nothing to fear when the change comes. If I had known what I know now, I should have had no fear. (Grace Rosher’s grandmother in TR, 93.)

Believe me, Dad, it is ten times more dangerous and unpleasant to be born into your world than it is to leave it! Being born is a painful, risky process and none of us contemplate it with any degree of pleasure. And yet all of you people on the earth fear death. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 51.)

Death is but an incident. Parting is only for a moment. And heaven is right at hand. If only this could be comprehended, we feel that life there would be more nearly one of contentment and happiness. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 97.)

Never be afraid of death. It is only the final sleep of the mortal mind, and has no power to affect the spirit mind. That grows stronger and brighter and more active from the moment of separation, until it becomes so educated and balanced that it is the all-in-all of spirit life. I found it so, for I went to sleep in the mortal mind, and discovered at last that I was more vividly awake than ever. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 92.)

Take no thought nor anxiety for the future life. Have no dread of death, which is only a coming, a rebirth, into this life. Do what you can to help others into an understanding of the immortal life of the human soul, and live in happy contentment and confidence of your future, now and ever. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 92.)

Leaving the earth in the common act of ‘dying’ is a perfectly natural and normal process, which has been going on continuously, without intermission, for thousands upon thousands of earthly years. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 13.)

Death is a freer state that does not limit the soul to time and place as you know it. It enables him to see more clearly the things he has gained during his last incarnation on the earth plane. It provides a better understanding of self and all those who were with him during that incarnation. Often he can look more objectively at himself and others, seeing the mistakes he made and where he was able to improve during his earth experiences. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 3.)

If you could have clear perceptions of what the changeover you call death is, you would know that there is no need to be unconscious at the time of the cross-over. It would be looked forward to. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 10.)

I’m a newcomer in a land that is never the same to a soul, even though we pass along this way after each earthly incarnation. We are different each time we come through the open door again. We have formed new patterns of thought and new ideas about what to expect and, since thoughts are definitely things, we are the co-creators with God of what we find for ourselves here. (Arthur Ford in WB, 16.)

We have seen the shadow of ‘death’ and the ‘grave,’ those two ogres that frighten so many good souls, filling them with a dread that is utterly and completely unwarranted. Man was never intended to go through his earthly life with this monstrous dark shadow forever hanging over him. It is unnatural and thoroughly bad. It has been raised by men upon earth in remote periods of the earth’s history and it has so continued for the generality of earth’s dwellers for generation after generation of the incarnate.

It is but natural that, with the opportunity presenting itself, we should visit the earth and, by bringing with us a little of the light of knowledge, we should be able to dispel the fears of death of the physical body that haunt so many people and, in place of those fears, give some knowledge and information of the superb lands of the spirit world wherein we now live and wherein you yourself will one day come to join us.

In place of fears of a speculative ‘hereafter’ we try to show you something of the brilliant prospect that lies before you when that happy moment arrives for you to take up your true and undoubted heritage in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 128.)

Death is Merely the Casting off of the Garment of Flesh

Death is merely the casting off of the garment of flesh, which you bury out of sight and which passes into dust. You, the real Ego, with its personality, pass at once into the intermediate world. (1) (Therold, FMABL, 95.)

(1) The intermediate world = Probably the Near-Earth Plane.

Death is [a] transition which every soul who incarnates into a physical body must make. It is nothing more than leaving the physical vehicle (the body) behind in preparation for higher teaching, which all souls undergo. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 3.)

Death is a change in the rate of vibration. As you go to sleep at night, and your consciousness leaves the physical body, you are experiencing the same thing as death. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 3.)

Your personality, your memory, everything you consider to be you will leave with this energy [upon death] because you are energy.

Once your work is accomplished there is no longer any need to stay in the physical vehicle which you are using on the earth plane. The body is as dust and will return to dust. It takes the energy force of the etheric body, living within your physical vehicle, to produce a being. At death the being leaves, and you could [not] care less about the physical vehicle which is a hindrance, like a prison. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 4.)

We imagine that life, our life, ends with the death of the body. What you learn here is that the span of life spent in the earth-body is but a small segment of the great circle of existence. You go on. You never stop. Sometimes you sleep, but you always wake. (Julia Ames, AD, 160.)

Everything about you on earth is corruptible. There is, then, a palpable state of impermanence. However much the decay may be arrested, you still have the certain fact of the eventual termination of your earthly life, which in itself sets the seal upon mundane impermanence. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 52.)

The spirit-body, your real self, has clothed itself for a time with atoms of matter which are in a state of perpetual change. When the process of earth education is complete, these changeful atoms are cast aside, and your resurrection takes place. The rising - an instantaneous vivifying of a confined individuality; a bursting of the bud, a releasing of a prisoned and hampered spirit - at no distant period, after a sleep in the unknown, but instant, immediate. (“Doctor” [Athenodorus] in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.>

The Joy, the Ecstacy of Dying!

There comes to me from the earth such a feeling of oppression, of worrying, of anxiety, of fear of death, and all is derived from non-belief. If they could but realize the glory, even a fragment of the peace of this life I now experience. (Winifred Combe Tenants in SBS, 11.)

Here that core of self laughs at the episode of mortal death and seeks and finds life, more life. (Winifred Combe Tenant in SBS, 49.)

I had a good night of refreshing sleep on my last night on earth and, when both of you came to see me, I was in a state bordering upon pleasant relaxation. Every part of me seemed to be switching off gently, and, when the last switch was pressed, I suddenly found I was floating above my body. I made instinctively for the window.

Mother was there, but I couldn’t see her. She said my first words were: ‘Thank God that’s over – I never thought I should have lived through it,’ whereupon she burst out laughing and that was the first etheric sound I heard. I looked round and saw only you and Lorna. Obviously the laughter did not come from you. But in a few moments I could feel her arms round me and recognized her voice.

Nothing in life comes up to the immense joy of dying.

Death has been made such a bogey that it is only through suffering and great discomfort that we are persuaded to let go and co-operate with death. The body fights to retain life on any terms: it is inborn instinct of the body brain, so we have to re-educate this body brain to the point when it will accept and relinquish its power without waiting for the spirit to be wrenched away through pain and disease. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 99.)

You will find that more and more people just die in their tracks, which is the ideal way of leaving.

I told you that I had experienced a strange feeling of power that seemed to be drawing me out of my body during the last few days of my illness. I was hopelessly ill and I knew it, so I welcomed this inrush of new life and let go very willingly. That was why I did not linger.

You must realize that, when you have joined the ‘Club,’ the passing cannot be very long delayed and be ready to receive the power that draws you quite painlessly out of your body. It’s the most beautiful and glorious thing. I see so many are prolonging their life quite unnecessarily. If you give up the reins, as it were, to the great Creator, expressing your readiness, then life is withdrawn gently and lovingly and the dossier of your earthly effort is closed.

We are not meant to suffer death. … We … say relax and let life do with you what it will. Life commands; you agree and co-operate. (Si Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 100.)

My death was beautiful. Everything became still. It changed to a quiet, calm sea after a blustering storm. The final experiences as a man were part of this storm. Then came the smooth waters of liberation. … It was a blessing to have been freed without illness, without extended pining away. (Sigwart, BOTR, 29.)

Being of melancholy mind, I anticipated my own death so often, however, and built such dire forebodings of dissolution and decay that the fact of death came as an intellectual and emotional revelation of unspeakable degree, whose brightness dimmed all other events of my life, so that by contrast my death became the crowning achievement of my life. (William James, ADJ, 21.)

I remember feeing rather peculiar, I suppose it would be the night before I passed over. I did not think I was going, but felt less clear in mind than usual. About dawn I had a sinking feeling and the daylight seemed to go. I seemed to be swaying about in the dark and felt suddenly giddy.

I am still rather puzzled as regards the actual events before my decease. I just remember the great darkness swooping down on me like a bird. How close, how suffocating it was.

Then at last there was relief, expansion, a sense of being freed from an intolerable weight. When I came out into a strange clearness, I did not believe that I had died. … My memory isn’t quite the same, at least so far. It is as if a curtain had been rung on a play. I know it has all happened, is, perhaps, still there in its setting behind that curtain. But I can’t quite visualize it. (E. Bozzano in Paul Beard, LO, 62.)

I had been shut away in pain and darkness, my illness had separated me from all healthy creatures until I felt a pariah. I knew that the time must come [to die]. And when it did it was like waking up after a nightmare. …

[Dying] was infinite peace. No more efforts to keep back my tears, no more agonizing planning for my children and no more having to face their disappointment when I ceased to play my part in the family. No, the cards had all been played and I was outside the game, and so happy. It was worth it all to have that wonderful feeling, that I had finished. (Barbara in AL, 32.)

I am still! Thank God for that! To rest and listen and no longer to be afraid, to feel safe; it is wonderful! (Major P in PD, 58.)

We Rejoice When an Old Friend Joins Us

Do remember that, to us, your coming over here is no cause for grief – why should we interfere [with the course of an illness], in normal circumstances? (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 235.)

We on this side rejoice when the soul of an old friend comes here. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 56.)

When anyone from the old world joins the family circle we get a great thrill. (Grace Rosher’s mother in TR, 87.)

If people really believed what they profess to believe, they would rejoice when a loved one is born into the higher life by death, and not mourn as they do. (John Heslop, SABL, 119.)

Pre-Transition Circumstances Vary

The Moment of Death is the Severance of the Silver Cord

When the soul detaches itself from the body, the silver cord is severed completely. This is the beginning and the end of the mechanics of death. (Mike Swain in FMW, 50.)

Those who have clairvoyance will see that the parting is finally accomplished when the cord connecting the spirit body to the physical one, after being extended as the spirit body gradually moves away, is cut. When that severance takes place, death occurs. There is nothing and nobody in your world who can by any means / enable the physical body to live again. (Silver Birch, LSB, 30-1.)

The only difference between the death state and the dream state is that the silver cord, which is much like an umbilical cord connecting the soul with the body, is severed in death. This cord allows the spirit to travel in the various realms and planes beyond the physical at night, and to receive higher teachings. In the state of so-called death, the energy – your spirit – leaves the body and does not return. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 3.)

Now death is merely the severing of the psychic cord which unites the two bodies. (John Heslop, FMABL, 67.)

The spirit body exactly coincides with the physical body, and during waking hours the two are inseparable. When sleep takes place the spirit body withdraws from the physical body, but the former is attached to the latter by a magnetic cord. I call it a magnetic cord for want of a better name. It is a veritable life-line. Its elasticity is enormous since the spirit body can travel either throughout the earth during sleeping hours or throughout the spirit world subject to special conditions and limitations.

However vast the distance between the sleeping physical body and the temporarily released spirit body, the magnetic cord can span the distance easily and perfectly and without any diminution of its active agency, which is to sustain life in the earthly body. The life-line will, as its length increases, become exceedingly fine and almost hair-like in appearance.

Just so long as the magnetic cord is joined to the earthly body, just so long will earthly life remain in the physical body. But the moment that dissolution takes place the life-line is severed, the spirit is free to live in its own element, while the physical body will decay in the manner which is perfectly familiar to you upon earth.

The death of the physical body, then, is simply the severance of the magnetic cord, and, as far as the physical body is concerned, it is closely akin to ordinary sleep. There does not seem anything very dreadful about this straightforward process if a little thought is given to it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 14.)

When sensation ends, death of the body begins. (Julia Ames, AD, 156.)

The snapping of consciousness between the soul and the tenement, if I may so speak of it, is usually not felt by the soul. With some it is different. They feel as if it were the slow breaking, one by one, of the threads which connect the soul with its tenement; but the process is not painful, even when it is protracted. I have spoken to many on the subject and the majority tell me that their experience agrees with mine. They could not even say that they could remember the exact moment when the body parted company with their soul. (Julia Ames, AD, 162.)

“She fell asleep,” says one of the messages which describe the passing of such a spirit: “she fell asleep, and the cord of life was severed by our watching friends, and then softly they awoke her, and she looked up and smiled very sweetly into the face of one who leaned over her.” (H.W. Engholm in LBV, 5-6.)

The earth cords … evidently play an important part at the time of death. (Wellesley Tudor Pole in PD, 90n.)

3.15 p.m. Two figures have appeared and stand one on either side of [Major P.’s] bed against the wall. …

3.55 p.m. The two figures swoop down over the bed and seem to break off the ‘cords’ at points close to the physical body. Immediately I see that the form or double [of Major P.] rises about two feet from its original position, but remains horizontal, and at this same moment Major P.’s heart stops beating. (Wellesley Tudor Pole watches the death of Major P. in PD, 84.)

Circumstances Vary

There are many ways of passing from your side to ours. Of these the most general is painless waking up and the first sensation is one of rest, of relief, and of peace. (Julia Ames, AD, 159.)

There are three ways of moving into our world from yours. The first is to come as I did, with the violence of an abrupt end. The second is to come as a result of the body breaking down; for example, from illness or old age. The third way, the logical way, is to come to us with full and conscious understanding of why it is happening. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 48.)

Unfortunately the moment of transition sometimes seems to be very full of pain and dread. With some [the time of quitting the body] lasts a comparatively long time. … With some it is momentary. The envelope opens, the letter is released, and it is over. But sometimes the deathbirth is like childbirth and the soul labours long to be free. ... I do not know why some should pass so much more easily than others. That it is a fact is true. But, after all, the parting of soul and body is but an affair of moments. There is no reason to regard it with so much alarm. The tranquil soul that prepares and knows need not feel even a tremor of alarm. The preliminaries of decease are often painful; the actual severance, although sometimes accompanied by a sense of wrench, is of small account. (Julia Ames, AD, 66.)

Circumstances diversify individual cases to such an extent that it would require many volumes to recount even a part of the experiences of others in the matter of arrival in the spirit world alone. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 42.)

There may appear to be a great similarity between one normal transition and another when viewed by earthly eyes, but from our point of view the variations are enormous. They are as great, in fact, as the variations in human personalities. What to the earthly beholder is the end of life is to us and the person chiefly concerned the beginning of a new one. It is with the personality that we have to deal, and, according to the personality, to the knowledge or ignorance of spiritual matters of the passing soul, so is our especial task governed and our course of action regulated. In short, every ‘death’ is treated and served with strict regard to its essential requirements. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 12-3.)

Death is Painless; Most People do not Suffer

With me the change [i.e., death] was perfectly painless. (Julia Ames, AD, 64.)

I feel sure if people were to know that the actual moment of passing is not even noticeable, the fear of death that haunts so many people would vanish. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 60.)

Death is … a mere episode which we regard with a certain tenderness and not with any pain. … There is contained in it a time of stillness, of sinking gloriously into rest. (F.W.H. Myers in LO, 57.)

They do not suffer, these people, in their passing. I think sometimes their friends suffer more, when they see the body writhing in apparent agony, while in reality the spirit is already tasting the first freedom from pain, or lies in a blessed insensibility. (John Scott in LO, 56.)

The last minute was terrible, but only for a moment and then it passed, which means the sleep of death relieved me of all pain. (Sigwart, BOTR, 10.)

Death is no more than the passage through a beckoning door. It is so brief, so transitory as scarcely to be noted for it is what lies beyond the door that counts. The body, let us say, is tired and weakened. At a certain point the heart stops, not merely because the body mechanism will not function, but also because the soul has slipped off through the opening door. Some go gladly, some reluctantly, but all in answer to the universal urge for peace and tranquility. (Arthur Ford in WB, 15.)

The whole process of transition which is so much feared by the folk on earth is a natural, normal, and painless process. It is as natural and painless as removing your outer garment when you have no further use for it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 127.)

Since my own advent into spirit lands, I have talked with many friends upon the matter and not one of them was aware by any internal or external incident that their magnetic cord had parted from their physical bodies. In this respect the actual process of dissolution is painless. Whatever suffering is endured by the person whose transition is imminent is purely physical. That is to say, it is the cause of physical death, from disease, for example, or accident, that may bring pain and not the actual death itself. If doctors can relieve the pain, and there is no reason why in all cases they should not, then the whole course of dissolution would be entirely painless. Why should the severance of the magnetic cord be a painful operation? If it were, it would surely suggest that there were some fault in the heavenly scheme of things. But there is no fault and ‘death’ is painless. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 16-7.)

It was the first death that I had witnessed. Immediately after her heart had ceased to beat, I distinctly saw something in appearance like smoke, or steam as it rises from a kettle in which the water is boiling, ascend from her body. This emanation rose only a little distance and there resolved itself into a form like that of my friend who had just died. This form, shadowy at first, gradually changed until it became well defined and clad in a pearly-white, cloud-like robe, beneath which the outlines of the figure were distinctly visible. The face was that of my friend but glorified, with no trace upon it of the spasm of pain which had seized her just before she died. (Joy Snell, MA, 18.)

Whether the deaths I witnessed were peaceful or painful, preceded or not preceded by the recognition of someone from the other world, always, immediately after the physical life had ceased, I saw the spirit form take shape above the dead body, in appearance a glorified replica of it. However painful might have been the last hours, however protracted and wasting the illness, no trace of suffering or disease appeared upon the radiant spirit face. Striking, at times, was the contrast which it presented to the human features, pain-distorted and deep-furrowed by suffering. (Joy Snell, MA, 40.)

There is no darkness for us as we watch our loved ones coming across the little dividing line. We think that the close of life should be lifted out of its sorrow and fear and regarded only as a peaceful sleep, with a blessed and bright awakening. This of course refers to those who have cultivated their spirit life when on earth. Death may indeed be a darkened path for those who have no fitness for this life— and yet it is not the death, but the awakening which is so dreary and oftentimes terrible for those whose lives have not been just or merciful or spiritual. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 92.)

When I [died], I found that the most foolish mistake in my life was my long, long terror of death. Year after year I was afraid of it when I needn’t have been in the least afraid. I had much illness and suffered a great deal from worries, fears, anxieties and bodily pain in my life. But at the moment of death there was no pain.

When I knew I was dying, I was just able to say: “Take care of little Tough.” He was my darling baby grandson. But I wasn’t unhappy or frightened or lonely; for I saw my fathers, my sisters, my brother whom I had thought of as dead – and by dead, I mean asleep till Judgment Day.

But they weren’t asleep, they were quite close to me. I could see them through a pale mist. So if anyone talks to you about the loneliness of death, tell them it is all nonsense. I was never less alone than in those few minutes – I suppose they were minutes. I wasn’t in a state to take the time when I was dying. I was quite helpless. I couldn’t move hand or foot, but I wasn’t in the least afraid.

So my message to the world is that, for me, one of the happiest moments of my earth-life was the moment of death. Of course it was much longer than a moment, but the wonderful freedom from pain, the feeling of peace and security when I saw my loved dead alive, smiling, waiting for me, drive away loneliness, fear, and, for a while, all the grief of separation from my two boys.

Other people may die differently – I don’t know. I can only tell you that the word “death,” judging from my experience, should have its definition altered in the dictionary to “the first human experience of a peace that passes understanding.” (Hilda to Geraldine Cummins, TS, 139.)

For Most People, Death is a Brief Sleep Following a Gradual Decline

It’s not true that people die. They just go to sleep and wake up to a much more vigorous life. (Grace Rosher’s sister Phyllis in TR, 89.)

Everything intruded upon me and I was conscious at once of what had happened to me, that is, that I had stepped through the portals of death, as you so rightly call it. … The shedding of matter proceeds in a condition of sleep; consciousness returns gradually and then the enjoyment of freedom begins, if one has not been a novice in these things. (Sigwart, BOTR, 5.)

Nature wraps you in a blanket of sleep a person, even if he is terrified of dying, merely falls asleep. In his sleep, he dreams that he is still in the same room; but actually he is passing to our Golden World. (Mike Swain in FMW, 51.)

When I passed, I don’t remember anything except … that I was asleep and woke up in this other state of life. I was not interested in what happened to my body or what my friends were doing about it. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher, TR, 46.)

The actual act of dying is as simple as dozing off after lunch. A drowsy feeling fills the whole of your body with relaxing comfort. You can still see, with your earthly eyes the room about you. Then you notice that there are all kinds of new people standing around your bed, people that you once knew, such as parents, a favorite uncle, a friend who passed over many years sooner. The joy of seeing them again takes your mind off everything else.

They take you by the hand and lift you to your feet. This invariably causes you to look back at the bed and to your surprise you or your mortal shell is still lying there. You say aloud: ‘But how can I be here with you people and yet still be lying there on the bed?’ Only then do you realize that this is death. (Mike Swain in FMW, 50.)

Most people who in normal times live completely through their earth cycle, merging into the more detached unemotionalism of old age – at least that is what should happen, but does not always! – soon find their bearings and begin to study the technique of thought control – very slowly for the average. They are like children going to school. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 24.)

With the approach of earth-life’s natural ending – so [spirit control Abdul Latif] says – the etheric body alters. It becomes stronger and more easily detached (old people fall asleep easily, don’t they?), and the act of death takes place easily and without shock to the etheric body so that, at any rate, except in exceptional circumstances, they are not hampered with the results of nervous strain, fear and suspense, as with the soldier in battle or people in air raids or prison camps. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 206.)

[Sudden or violent transitions] are not what could be considered in any way normal had other conditions prevailed. Normal transition, from the point of view of the spirit world, is that wherein the spirit body becomes gradually and easily detached from the earthly body in a slow and steady process of separation. The magnetic cord, in such cases, will become detached from the earthly body gently, it will fall away naturally, just as the leaf falls from the tree in autumn. When the leaf is in full life and vigour it requires a strong action to dislodge it from the tree. And so it is with the spirit body. In the young, the cohesion is firm, but it gradually lessens as age increases. When people on earth reach the autumn of their lives, like the leaf of the tree, the spirit body is less firmly attached to the physical body. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 46-7.)

When you die a change takes place that differs so much in different cases that I think I had better begin by describing as clearly as possible what is felt by the person who dies. In my letters I have told you how I felt. There was no pain, no shock, no sensation at all save that of waking up out of a deep sleep, perfectly well. That was my experience and it was a very happy one. It is a very common one, but it is not universal. (Julia Ames, AD, 159.)

Some See a Tunnel and a Light

As regards his death, as far as I could gather, it was very rapid. He said everything went inky and black and he seemed to be travelling a long time down a tunnel and when at last his feet touched the bottom and he thought “I’ve parachuted safely in to solid earth,” he found himself floating in space. That was a pretty unpleasant experience. It was lonely and it was dark. After a while a queer unearthly terror got hold of him and he called and called to his pals for help. That was the sensible thing to do because one of our chaps called Irvin or Irwin found him and helped him out of no-man’s-land. He has got on famously since then. He has no recollection of agonizing pain – only for one awful searing moment, a blaze of light and then the tunnel. (Nigel Gibbes of Flying Officer Ian Maclean in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 31.)

Normally, as they leave the body at the very beginning, [people] will go through what appears like a dark tunnel or dark tube which has a very bright light at the end. Most entities are drawn to the light without anyone saying “go to the light.” They somehow know this. It’s a past soul memory of having left the body many times that will project him into the God light.

At that time, this is where the loved ones are, in the light, there to meet him. There is a celebration, welcoming him home, giving him the love and the pat on the back, so to speak, of a job well done, to encourage him to let go of the past and not feel the pain of what he has left behind. He’s gently trained and brought into the higher concepts and understanding as he is interested. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 43.)

Look for the brightest light around you and walk towards that. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 43.)

The light is the higher astral levels which he has earned. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 43.)

Q: Is there any fear either in this gray state or going through this tunnel?

A: Many times there is. But if a person understands that he is to go through this, there would be no fear. He will see pathetic-looking souls in the darkness if he chooses to stop. But souls normally will just project right into the light without looking to either side.

There is really nothing to fear. There’s no way one can be harmed. He will only be loved as he crosses over. The soul’s negative state will determine how free from fear he is. You have only to look at the people on your earth plane. These people are in the light and yet they have fears. Just because one leaves the body in death does not mean he’s going to lose those fears. The fears are within man.

As man grows to the point where he no longer needs those fears, he is released from them. It is each soul’s job to police himself for if you have them in the body, you’re going to have them out of the body. If there is no fear in the body, there will be no fear out of the body. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 44.)

Transitions Accompanied by Experiences of Enlightenment

Ed. Such experiences upon passing over, a more senior example of which occurred for Julia Ames and John Heslop, are rare.

The ecstacy of dying is something I can never express. It is suddenly like becoming light itself. It is so wonderful. It is heat and coolness. It is warmth in the mind. It is clarity of vision and understanding. It is like a clap of divine thunder and, hey presto! there I am, out of my old tiresome old body, leaping about in the glorious ether; and you’ve no conception of what dying is like…. It is a Communion, a Sacrament of living on a higher level – this is the most transforming experience that any mortal can attain. I am overcome with joy, pure joy. …

The pain grew suddenly so bad that it seemed to burst or break something inside me – and I was suddenly free – free in the strangest sense. I felt for a moment inert and without power, as in a walking trance. I was above my body but still attached to it. I was sorry for it, it looked so helpless, almost like a child, and Gordon tried so hard to reawaken life in me again. Then I saw in his face that I had finished and, as you say, ‘dropped in my tracks.’ Well, fair enough. I had tried to finish the course but no matter. So I accepted death and, as I did so, the whole world changed. The room blazed with light. The books on the table, the chairs, even the carpet and the curtains, everything in the room was alive with love power.

I stayed quite still, quite close to my body, but I couldn’t see it any longer; perhaps they had taken it away. It did not seem to matter to me any more.

I was at this time alone with God … I had often tried to feel this at-oneness with the Divine, but never succeeded to this overwhelming extent. I felt like a piece of blotting paper that was being saturated with light. I waited in an ecstacy – every moment was beyond words. Had I been able to hold this in my body, I could only have done so for a moment, but now I seemed to have gained a certain resilience. I became tireless in my power to receive. / How long it lasted I have no idea. But when I touched down again, as you would say, I found all quiet and everyone in bed. Some were praying for me or thanking [God] for my release. They made me feel very humble as I passed from room to room blessing them all in turn, not as I used to, but with a power quite outside my knowledge and experience. (Father Andrew Glazewski in AL, 83-4.)

I came over unhappily, not as the old who die easily and fall like ripe seeds matured and ready for the soil of spirit life. I came through the dark valley – but, oh, nothing in all my lives can touch the beauty of awakening…. In misery I lost myself in unconsciousness, but I awoke to a glory beyond the morning sun…. I had forgotten ecstacy, but it was waiting for me with a fullness of perception that breaks through every fancy and escapes my pen – the feeling of absorption into the very Godhead itself is the only way I can describe it.

This is what happens to use who suffer: Christ, in the fullness of his divine sympathy, embraces and endows us with a power to merge and literally to cease our individual consciousness so lovely, so profound, that I knew no loss of self, but I became just one more sentient part of the Christ consciousness, knowing and feeling only the greatness of love, and within that overwhelming ecstacy I hung poised between life and life, until the broken particles of the suffering me had grow together in this love solution. As the time grew near for me to become again just / Barbara, I found myself not less but more, far more than I had ever imagined possible. (Barbara, a young writer who died after a long and painful illness in AL, 31-2.)

I should like one old friend to hear from me. … Tell her – oh, tell her – that I’m free - thought carries me on an ever beyonding reach. (Barbara, a young woman who died after a long and painful illness in AL, 31.)

For Some, Death is a Sudden or Violent Transition

The easiest form of sudden death is the way I came – one minute happy, normal and in good health, and within five minutes: away from the earth plane. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 206.)

[Philip Gilbert:] There was a crash. I was going fast down that slope. There was a crash and a blackness and then I opened my eyes and saw trees glowing, illumined in an ivory golden light – they seemed alive….

I opened my eyes again. I was surprised that I had no bruises after that fall, and I sat up and felt myself all over. … Then I saw a car coming, and I jumped up to get out of its way, and I saw it brake, pull up and push something along the road. I looked and it was my body. I looked at myself and saw my own body seeming quite real and solid. But there were streams of light coming from my finger ends. Suddenly I saw Grandpa, stand/ing smiling, all lit up, and I knew I was killed. I said at once: ‘Then Mother was right – I have got an etheric body.’ (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 89-90.)

In my case, … the betwixt and between stage … only lasted a couple of hours. I seemed almost at once to get my power to think objectively, though for some hours I felt confused. I cannot recall any ‘plane of illusion.’ I was conscious of myself from the first as an entity able to enter your room at will and I was attracted also by your glow. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 140.)

A good deal depends, in the first place, on whether a person realizes he has died. I think in ordinary times most people do – at least that is the intention of the natural law. People should really live to old age and gradually, as the physical body weakens, see a little through the “veil” into the next phase, and have relatives there to greet them.

Unfortunately, very frequently, this does not happen. Many people die prematurely of illnesses which are short and sudden or in accidents like mine, and their physical link is strong. Others, even when old, have not learnt much and are so obsessed by earthly predilections that they continue to live in them afterwards, in a complete illusion, created by their own strongly woven thought images. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 12-3.)

There was a bit of ground mist and an approaching car dazzled me. I didn’t realize I was so near the culvert and pulled over to the side to avoid an oncoming car and, of course, headed right over the side into the drain. It all happened so quickly. The next thing I knew, I was standing there looking at the mess of the accident. I was jolly worried about it and wondered how the dickens I could get the jeep out of that darned hole.

It wasn’t until I noticed that I was apparently there as well that I realized that I must be dead. But I couldn’t accept that either and I decided it was probably a nightmare and that I would wake up and find I had dreamt the whole thing. (Cliffy McLean in LFM, 78.)

The mutilation of the body does not harm the spirit, except by the rude shock. And that would stir it into action rather than lull it into repose. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 149.)

If there be shock, it is not the shock of physical death. Shock comes later when comprehension dawns: ‘Where is my body? Surely I am not dead!’ (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 15.)

There are some who suffer violent deaths, who seem, as it were, stunned when they come here and do not recover consciousness until the funeral rites are over and they are forgotten among men. (Julia Ames, AD, 161.)

I have talked to Maclean. … He has had to have a long rest as he passed from his body so suddenly. He simply slept and dreamt while his etheric body gradually emerged from the chrysalis. That’s how it’s explained here. (Nigel Gibbes of Flying Officer Ian Maclean in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 31.)

In talking with a man who had died from an accident, we asked if he could tell us of his passing. Immediately Sis's hand and pencil were shaken violently. She experienced a cramping pain, and an impression of gloom. After a little the pencil wrote with emphasis:—

"That is awful to remember even now. It happened so suddenly, and I was alone and helpless. It was so terrible that the suffering came with me to this side. But it is all over long ago. My spirit finally came into peace, and I was met and cared for with great tenderness, and my life now is so happy that I forget the rest. But the suffering I endured made me the special care of friends who tried in every way to blot out the memory of the pain and agony and lead me into peace and happiness.

You have asked of the occupations of the angelic ones here. Can you not see here one more service in caring for such spirits? The earth memory still clings to them for a time and therefore they are the more tenderly cared for and led away from all painful thoughts."

'Is there compensation for such suffering?'

"All pain is lost at last in the final peace. But if there are those who cause the pain - I mean the deliberately cruel ones - their atonement here is sometimes through much pain and suffering."

'I meant compensation for accidental suffering?' /

"The suffering of earth is so short compared with the eternity of bliss, that all thoughts of compensation are lost in the very reality." (Unnamed spirit to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 132-3.)

I have been able to do what you so much desired—to find the boy who came out accidentally by drowning.

As you looked at his photograph, I saw it through your eyes, and carried away the memory of the face. I found him wandering about, quite bewildered. When I spoke to him of you and said that you had asked me to help him, he seemed surprised.

I was able to give him a little aid, though he has a friend here—an old man who is nearer to him than I could ever be. He will gradually adjust himself to the new conditions. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXIV.)

How is a person affected whose death is sudden and perhaps violent as well, which would include the person who is precipitated into the spirit world without warning or that, knowing the end of earthly life is imminent, yet undergoes a violent transition? How would such a person fare?

It calls to mind the phrase…: launched into eternity. What dreadful images this stupid phrase must have conjured up in the minds of so many people. The awful tragedy of ‘death’ which all men must face. The terrible uncertainty of what was to happen after they had ‘departed this life.’ The fearful prospect of being marched before the Great Dread Judge. Most of them having been told that they were ‘miserable sinners,’ the best that could be hoped for would be ‘mercy,’ provided that they ‘believed in’ something or other that was so obscure in meaning that they could not make heads or tails of it, but which nevertheless possessed some magic means of ‘saving’ them. Which was it to be – Heaven or Hell? Most probably the latter, from their obvious failure to reach the impossible standard set by their religious ‘teachers.’ Of what is there to be frightened in eternity? …

In speaking of people passing into the spirit world suddenly, you no doubt will recall where, for example, failure of the heart’s action is the cause and where accident or some deliberate action causes an instantaneous transition. In the latter instance you would be forcibly reminded of what takes place during the evil times of war upon the earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 46.)

It is when we come to transitions where the physical body is literally disintegrated, blown into fragments in a second of time, that the greatest distress and discomfort are caused to the spirit body. The magnetic cord is snapped off or wrenched away, almost as though a limb of the physical body were torn from its socket. The spirit body finds itself suddenly dispossessed of its earthly tenement, but not before the physical shock of disintegration has been transmitted to the spirit body.

Not only is there extreme bewilderment, but the shock has something of a paralyzing effect. The person so situated may be incapable of movement for the time being. In many instances sleep will intervene. He will remain in the place of his dissolution, but we come to his rescue and carry him away to one of the rest homes specially provided for such cases.

Here he will receive treatment from experts and ultimately the patient will recover his full health beyond any shadow of doubt. There is no such thing as a relapse or recurrence of the indisposition. Perhaps the most difficult part of the treatment comes when a full consciousness is restored and the patient begins to ask questions!

What effect, you might ask, does maiming of the physical body have upon the spirit body? None whatever, as far as the full complement of limbs and organs is concerned. Disintegration may be sudden or it may take a number of earthly years through the normal processes of decomposition. Whichever way it may take place, the result is the same – a complete, or almost complete, disappearance of that physical body. The physical body is corruptible, but the spirit body is incorruptible. And what applies to the whole in the latter also applies to the limbs and organs; in fact, to every part of the spirit body. The loss of one or more limbs of the earthly body, the possession of diseased organs, physical malformations, any subnormal or supernormal conditions of the physical body, any or all of these states leave the spirit body entirely unaffected. Whatever has happened to the physical body, the spirit body will always maintain its complete anatomy. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 47-8.)

The shock which is sustained is not exactly the same as would be the case of a shock merely to the physical body, though it is nearly enough like it for your understanding. But the results can be entirely dissimilar. In the rest homes of the spirit world a cure is certain to be brought about without any possibility of doubt and upon full recovery the victim of the shock is not one whit the worse for the experience. The memory of it remains, though only perhaps dimly, without any recurring reactions upon the mind of an unpleasant nature. And there are no resulting fears implanted in the mind such as would be the case with the physical body. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 22-3.)

Many people have passed into the spirit world in what the earth would call a dreadful manner – and dreadful it might be in earthly eyes – yet, when they have come to tell me about their rapid transition, their ‘sudden death,’ they have treated the whole episode with a light heart, and often are perfectly ready to joke about the matter. Indeed, I have heard friends remark that they entered the spirit world in a most undignified manner! And that, I think, demonstrates the precise difference in the way in which ‘death’ is regarded by us here in the spirit world and by you still upon earth. The ‘death’ of the physical body is a tragedy to the earth world. To the spirit world it is the operation of a natural law unattended by any mournful solemnities. While the physical body is being consigned to its earthly abode accompanied by all the ceremonial trappings and dismal black habiliments of minister and mourners, the spirit body containing the real and everlasting substance of personality has gone to its proper abode in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 23.)

Some Leave Their Body Before Death

Some [whom I have spoken to] say that they left the body before it ceased to breathe. (Julia Ames, AD, 162.)

He lost control of the car and went out of his body before the [fatal] accident. (Spirit control Quan Tse to medium Doris Heather Buckley, SC, 38.)

“I see a black car coming towards us. As it approaches us, I see this other car coming behind it. I can see this other car clearly, because it is in the middle of the road, trying to pass the black car.”

Nina [Merrington, the medium channeling Mike Swain] paused a moment, and then said: “The sun is glaring on the windscreen of the black car, and reflecting back into my eyes. I can see nothing but a bright silver radiance. It is blinding me.

All of a sudden, the radiance changes from silver to gold. I am being lifted up in the air, out through the top of the car. I grab little Heather’s hand. She too is being lifted up out of the car.

“We have been lifted thirty feet above the Mini. And in one horrifying second, I see the little Mini and this large car collide head-on. There is a noise like the snapping of steel banjo strings. The little Mini bounces right off the highway, right over into the gravel verge. It is finally brought to a halt in a cloud of dust when it hits a giant anthill….”

Nina stopped, obviously too agitated to continue.

What impressed her listeners was the fact that [their son] Mike [who is speaking through Nina] had never seen the other vehicle until after the silver light had changed to gold. He and Heather had felt no sense of impact. They had suffered no pain. Just a gentle ascent into the air. “We feel vaguely sorry that this thing should have happened to them. And we both fully understand that we are, now, so far as mortals are concerned, dead.

“We are also both aware that a lot of people have begun to gather round us. They are dressed in glorious colors. We recognize familiar faces, the faces of friends who passed beyond the earth before us. We are still hand in hand; now, guided by the one who first lifted us into the air, the two of us sweep towards the skies. We drift above the two round hills known as the Breasts of Sheba.”

In heartfelt joy, the [parents] listened, transported by the fact that the passing had involved neither fear … nor suffering. (Jasper Swain listening to his transitioned son, Mike, speak through a medium, in FMW, 21-2.)

My actual passing I have already described to you. Both Heather and I were lifted out of our bodies before the collision. There was no pain, no shock. This process is the same in all and every form of violent death. It appears violent from your end; believe me, it is only from your end; never from ours! (1) (Mike Swain in FMW, 51-2.)

(1) We can see form Philip Gilbert’s violent end in the last section that spirits are not always lifted out prior to a violent end, but it appears to be valid to say that the departing spirit does not suffer.

When [the transition guides] are given a case where two cars are about to collide, for example, we lower our vibrations until that soul can actually see us: thus his attention is diverted from the violence about to engulf him. Once we are sure that nothing more can be done to avert his death, we take him by his hands and lift him out of his earthly body. (Mike Swain, FMW, 57.)

Heather and I have specialized in this kind of ‘first aid’ for about four months of your earth time. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 57.)

Do you recall the young high school boy who was killed in Durban in circumstances similar to mine? Dad, we were there; it was us who helped him over. He and I had known each other casually while we were both alive so he was relieved and, believe you me, delighted to see me! He knew that I had already passed over, but it still took him a little while to realize the significance of it, when I showed him the mess made by the two cars after they had collided!

Most Transitions are Attended

A good man or woman, kindly, unselfish, seeking God during life, yet without knowledge or understanding of survival, has nothing to fear, His good deeds have already attracted those who can guide and help him to adjust to these new conditions. (Frances Banks, TOL, 135.)

When the loveless soul comes here, as much care taken to welcome it as when the soul of love arrives. But the selfish soul is blind and dark, and shudders in the dark. (Julia Ames, AD, 39. Online edition.)

Oddly enough I [could not see] my own family owing to their having gone further into Spirit Life and having shed the lower body. (1) (Charles Bonham Carter in AL, 15.)

(1) Probably shedding the astral body upon entering the Mental Plane.

When my astral sight was opened, on leaving my body, I was rather perplexed and very reluctant to leave all my dear ones. As I looked up, I saw the smiling faces of my dear father and mother who were waiting for me…. Behind them I saw the happy faces of my friends and relatives who had gone over long before, and they assured me that my travails and troubles were over. I was approached by three entities, dressed in gleaming white…. They assured me that the family would be cared for, guided and protected. (Donald Macleod in HT, 13.)

When I first arrived here, I felt no sudden jar at my passing. As I told you, we were lifted in the air and I took Heather’s hand and together we saw the cars collide. Then Uncle Mark was suddenly standing beside us. He explained that we had been through such a terrible collision that we were no longer in the land of the living. I was too surprised to ask him how he knew, although I did have a hunch I was dead and it seemed perfectly natural that he had come to take charge of us. (Mike Swain in FMW, 54.)

One of the elders always tells [the transition guides] by telephathy who to help and . This is usually ten to fifteen minutes before the final moment occurs; then we have enough notice to meet the soul and escort him to wherever he is meant to go. (Mike Swain in FMW, 56.)

[The newly-departed soul] may not know that we are with him, but the Great One gives us the power to comfort and console, which we then transmit to the soul we are protecting. (Mike Swain in FMW, 56-7.)

Always when you’re coming over, [your loved ones] know ahead of time. There are no accidents. They are prepared and waiting for you. They are all joyous and happy that you have been released.

And all of your teachers gather together upon your crossing over. Whether you have meditated or not, there will be teachers there. People from past incarnations also will be there to greet you. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 42.)

The knowledge that a transition is about to take place, together with its precise location, is the result of a remarkable conveyance of information, passed from one to another, commencing with the important functionary, the individual’s personal spirit guide, and terminating with us who undertake the work of escorting folk from the earth world to their homes in the spirit world. Between the former and the latter there is a clear concatenation of minds, if I may so express it, an exchange of information carried out by thought transmission, accurately and rapidly. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 15-6.)

In the city there is an immense building which exercises the function of an office of records and inquiries. (In the earth world you have your multifarious offices of inquiry. Why should we not have ours?) …

Among its many important duties … is that of knowing beforehand of those who are about to come into this realm. This information is accurate and infallibly reliable. It is collected through a varied process of thought transmission, of which the inquirer sees little or nothing. He is merely presented with the required information. The value of this service can be readily imagined.

In normal times upon the earth-plane, when transitions maintain a fairly steady level, it is valuable enough, but in times of great wars, when souls are passing into the spirit world in the thousands, the advantages of such an office are almost incalculable. Friend can meet friend and together can unite in helping others who are passing into spirit lands. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 180-1.)

Some are Met Before or After Death by Loved Ones

All day on August 28th Horace [had been] very low-spirited. He had been brought in from the veranda but was now absolutely radiant. ‘Look, look, Flora, quick, quick, he is going!’ ‘What, where, Horace, I do not see anyone.” ‘Why, just over the rock, Walt appeared, head and shoulders and hat on in a golden glory; brilliant and splendid. He reassured me, beckoned to me, and spoke to me. I heard his voice but did not understand all he said: only “Come on.”’ All the rest of the evening Horace was uplifted and happy. …

On the night of September 3rd Horace was very low. Then he said: ‘I hear Walt’s voice, he is talking to me.’ I said: ‘What does he say?’ He said: ‘Walt says: “Come on, come on, come on.”’ After a time he said: ‘Flora, I see them all about me, Bob and Bucke and Walt and the rest.” (Horace Treubel in Paul Beard, LO, 59-60.) On the last night, about 3 a.m., [Horace Treubel] grew perceptibly weaker and his eyes opened, staring towards the further side of the bed, his lips moved, endeavoring to speak; his eyes remained riveted on a point some three feel above the bed. My eyes were at last drawn irresistibly to the same point in the darkness. Slowly the point at which we were both looking grew gradually brighter, a light haze appeared, spreading until it assumed bodily form and took the likeness of Walt Whitman, standing upright beside the bed, a rough tweed jacket on, an old felt hat upon his head, and his right hand in his pocket, similar to a number of his portraits. He was gazing down at Treubel, a kindly reassuring smile upon his face, he nodded twice as though reassuringly, the features quite distinct for at least a full minute, then gradually faded from sight. (Colonel Cosgrave in Paul Beard, LO, 60.)

Then the atmosphere seemed to become light around me and I heard voices, but they were not the voices of the people on earth. They were the voices of my two dear boys, the voices I had not heard for many long years. I did not feel impatient. I knew they were there and that I should not lose them again. I was content to wait until I should be able to speak to them.

I did not feel that wild joy, that great elation, that I had always expected to feel. I was not in the state for it, but felt heavy, stupid and sleepy, yet at peace and full of confidence and quiet happiness knowing they were round me. Now and again I heard the voices of people actually in the room with me. The nearer voices were those of my boys.

After a time of unconsciousness I seemed to have become clearer quite suddenly. It was like a burst of sunshine and I looked. I seemed able to move my eyes quite suddenly and in the burst of sight and light I saw my boys, my brothers, and many others round me. I think this was only for a moment or two and then I must have gone to sleep again. I knew nothing more then and so suppose that it was just before leaving my body that I had that burst of light. I remember waking gradually on this side and hearing my sons say: “Be quiet and don’t try to think.” (Rev. C. Drayton Thomas in Paul Beard, LO, 60-1.)

It was about six months after I began to work in the hospital that it was revealed to me that the dying often really do see those who have come from the realms of spirit life to welcome them on their entrance into another state of existence.

The first time I received this ocular proof was at the death of L-, a sweet girl of seventeen, who was a personal friend of mine. She was a victim of consumption. She suffered no pain, but the weariness that comes from extreme weakness and debility was heavy upon her and she yearned for rest.

A short time before she expired I became aware that two spirit forms were standing by the bedside, one on either side of it. I did not see them enter the room; they were standing by the bedside when they first became visible to me, but I could see them distinctly as I could any of the human occupants of the room. In my own thoughts I have always called these bright beings from another world, angels, (1) and as such I shall hereafter speak of them. I recognized their faces as those of two girls who had been the closest friends of the girl who was dying. They had passed away a year before and were then about her own age.

Just before they appeared the dying girl exclaimed: “It has grown suddenly dark; I cannot see anything.” But she recognized them immediately. A smile, beautiful to see, lit up her face. She stretched forth her hands and in joyous tones exclaimed: “Oh, you have come to take me away! I am glad, for I am very tired.”

As she stretched forth her hands the two angels extended each a hand, one grasping the dying girl’s right hand; the other her left hand. Their faces were illumined by a smile more radiantly beautiful even that that of the face of the girl who was so soon to find the rest for which she longed. She did not speak again, but for nearly a minute her hands remained outstretched, grasped by the hands of the angels, and she continued to gaze at them with the glad light in her eyes and the smile on her face.

Her father, mother, and brother, who had been summoned that they might be present when the end came, began to weep bitterly, for they knew that she was leaving them. From my heart there went up a prayer that they might see what I caw but they could not.

The angels seemed to relax their grasp of the girl’s hands, which then fell back on the bed. A sigh came from her lips, such as one might give who resigns himself gladly to a much needed sleep, and in another moment she was what the world calls dead. But that sweet smile with which she had first recognized the angels was still stamped on her features.

The two angels remained by the bedside during the brief space that elapsed before the spirit form took shape above the body in which the physical life had ceased. Then they rose and stood for a few moments one on each side of her, who was now like unto themselves. And three angels went from the room where, a short time before, there had been only two. (Joy Snell, MA, 41-3.)

(1) Here Snell acknowledges that she uses the term “angels” for “these bright beings from another world,” not necessarily “angels” in the sense of being beyond the human rung of evolution.

I noticed that often, irrespective of the physical conditions or frame of mind of the dying, just before the end came they would seem to recognize some one who was not of those at the bedside and was by the latter unseen. I have seen a woman who had been in a comatose state for hours, suddenly open her eyes with a look of glad surprise, stretch forth her hands as though to grasp invisible hands outstretched towards her, and, then, with what seemed like a sigh of relief, expire.

I have seen a man who had been writhing in agony suddenly grow calm, fasten his eyes with an expression of joyful recognition on what to those observing him was only vacancy, and uttering a name in tones of glad greeting, breathe his last breath.

I recall the death of a woman who was the victim of that most dreadful disease, malignant cancer. Her sufferings were excruciating, and she prayed earnestly that death might speedily come to her and end her agony. Suddenly her sufferings appeared to cease; the expression of her face, which a moment before had been distorted by pain, changed to one of radiant joy. Gazing upwards, with a glad light in her eyes, she raised her hands and exclaimed: “Oh, mother dear, you have come to take me home. I am so glad!” And in another moment her physical life had ceased.

The memory of another death which occurred about the same time comes back to me. It was that of an old soldier who was in the last stages of tuberculosis, brought on by exposure while fighting his country’s battles. He was brave and patient but had frequent paroxysms of pain that were almost unbearable, and he longed for the relief which he knew death alone could bring him. One of these spasms had seized upon him, and his features were convulsed with agony as he fought for breath, when suddenly he grew calm. A smile lit up his face, and, looking upwards, he exclaimed, with a ring of joy in his voice, “Marion, my daughter!” Then the end came. (Joy Snell, MA, 38-9.)

[These visitations] are not, as some suppose, a phantom creation of their own imagination on which they gaze so gladly just before death occurs, but a ministering spirit – an angel (1) – and more highly endowed with life and vitality than those who have not yet undergone the change wrought by death. (Joy Snell, MA, 39-40.)

(1) Snell is not using the word “angel” here always to mean a being from the angelic spheres, but is often using it simply to mean a spirit from the astral or higher human planes.

About an hour before [another friend of Snell’s, who was dying of pneumonia,] died he called [his wife] by name and, pointing upwards, said: “Look, L-, there is B-! He is waiting for me. And now he smiles and holds out his hands to me. Can’t you see him?”

“No, dear, I cannot see him,” she replied, “but I know that he is there because you see him.”

B- was only a child who had been taken from them a year before, when between five and six years of age. I could plainly see the little angel with curly flaxen hair and blue eyes, garbed in what I call the spirit robe. The face was just that of a winsome child, but etherealized and radiant as no earthly faces ever are.

The father had been greatly weakened by the ravages of his disease and the joyful emotion occasioned by seeing his angel child seemed to exhaust what little vitality he had left. He closed his eyes and sank into a placid sleep. He remained in that state for about an hour, the angel child meanwhile staying poised above the bed with an expression of glad expectancy on his radiant face. Occasionally he looked lovingly at his mother.

The breathing of the dying man grew fainter and fainter until it ceased altogether. Then again I witnessed what had now become a familiar spectacle to me – the formation of the spirit body above the discarded earthly body. When it was complete the angel child clasped the hand of the now angel father, each gazed into the eyes of the other with an expression of the tenderest affection, and with faces aglow with joy and happiness they vanished.

It was indeed a glorious sight! It made death, which nearly everybody regards as something awesome, enshrouded in dark, impenetrable mystery, appear beautiful and beneficent, indeed as the crowning proof of the infinite mercy and unfathomable love of the Heavenly Father. Had it not been for the presence of the weeping widow I could have clapped my hands and have sung for very joy. (Joy Snell, MA, 46-7.)

My turn to make what some believe is a long journey. But for me it was such a short journey. Oh, it was so incredibly easy and painless. There was only one very brief nightmare, when I wanted to get back into my body in order to return to you. An instant’s bad dream. That’s all death was to me. After it, almost immediately, there came the unimaginable moment – a welcoming mother and father. You can’t imagine what a feeling of safety they gave me. Freedom at once from that inert thing, my body – freedom from the fear of the Unknown. …

In the past, we, you and I, have wondered what our arrival to this level would be like. But nothing we supposed came up to that beautiful, surprising, homely feeling I had with these two protectors waiting for me. That’s why I have called it the unimaginable moment.

Death’s exit is so simple and all our lives we have made it intrinsically complicated. (Helen Salter in Paul Beard, LO, 58-9.)

3:15 p.m. Two figures have now appeared and stand on either side of the bed. … These forms seem … to be of some finer form of ‘matter’ than the ‘double’ that is hovering above the bed.

3:40 p.m. This ‘double’ has become still more distinct. … The life-force is steadily ebbing out of the body and is apparently passing into the form above.

3:55 p.m. The two figures swoop down over the bed and seem to break off the ‘cords’ at points close to the physical body. Immediately … the form or double rises about two feet from its original position, but remains horizontal, and at this same moment Major P.’s heart stops beating.

4:30 p.m. The dead man seems to be asleep within … [his] new garments and is totally dissociated from the body on the bed. (Wellesley Tudor Pole of Major P. in PD, 84.)

Every one is tenderly cared for. Some are worthy, some are unworthy. But they are received gently and lovingly in every case. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth, LHH, 42.)

The rule is that all souls passing to here shall have some measure of attention. It depends upon themselves how much attention they shall have. Some are sunken so spiritually low as to preclude any approach to them that would be effective. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 179.)

It is a safe rule to say that no person passing into the spirit world at dissolution does so unattended. There is always someone there. But in so many cases we are prevented from giving any help by the spiritual state of the soul we are approaching. In fact, approach becomes impossible and so we can do nothing but watch the soul depart upon its way into darkness. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 35.)

No transition is left unattended, no matter where it may be, or in what circumstances, or howsoever caused; whether it be upon land, beneath the land; on the sea or under it, or in the air above the earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 36.)

We (1) talk together so I will be there when you come home. (2) But, if I had not ever talked with you, it does not mean that you would arrive without welcome. There are many of us here – many souls – who have chosen to serve as welcomers for returning souls. All souls who come home are welcomed with a great outpouring of love and care. (Thavis, TIH, 35.)

(1) Thavis is referring to himself and medium Harry Homewood. He is referring to the bond between himself and Homewood as a result of their spirit communications.
(2) I.e., make the transition from earth life to spirit life.

I use my "wings" to become a "Christmas-card angel" to a dying youth who would be surprised at seeing only a man like his old Rector when he "died." And I leave aside my wings when a swearing, cursing, valiant atheist is thrust into the unseen. The "wings" would be regarded as "darned flummery." So I assume a sober clerical garb and mien — I am giving you a fact of experience — and my atheist says, "I always said parsons would find themselves in the hottest part of hell, and here if the first person I see is not a 'holy Joe'! Old chap, I am sorry for you, and I'm real grieved to see a decent old gent like you here." We became friends, and that man will race me, and perhaps outrun me, in the spiritual contest. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 11.)

Let us assume that an average, not very instructed, basically good-hearted person comes over after a serious illness which has given him warning of approaching death. … One way in which the Law brings help – the Law of the Inevitable Consequence – is that an act of service or help must be repaid, sometime. If our average person has helped anyone and has not been repaid whilst on earth, then that entity over here must repay it somehow and an easy way is to give help after death, for many people need it badly.

Similarly, anyone who has injured our average man and, in the next life, realized his folly, must make reparation.

That is how it happens that really decent people, the above average, do enter “heaven,” in that they find themselves at once surrounded by a crowd of eager helpers, extending upwards even to the advanced People and everything here is smooth sailing.

But the reverse also applies. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 15-6.)

If [the recent arrival is] a fairly decent sort of chap, there is always someone he’s helped, or some good turn owing to him, and he may link for a flash with one of the advanced people – just a glow of blinding light. Once he’s done that. He is in the way of knowing. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 17.)

Suddenly I saw Grandpa, standing smiling, all lit up, and I knew I was killed. I said at once: ‘Then Mother was right – I have got an etheric body.’

I felt terribly muddled and confused, but then came the thought of you – frightful worry about you. Grandpa seemed to melt away – he told me afterwards it was he who came and suggested your taking that milk. (Philip addressing his mother through automatic writing in PTW, 90.)

Case Studies: The Moment of Death

Spirits Intimate that Their Deaths Were Planned

No soul can ever pass over into these worlds unless it has given its consent; and here I don’t mean a conscious consent, because the conscious mind is only a minor extension of the soul. The conscious mind may assume that death is approaching, but it is the soul itself that must give its consent before the process can take place. (Mike Swain in FMW, 50.)

My death [was] part of a plan. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 212.)

My destiny had to be worked out. It was all fixed. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 115.)

I have brought about my own death because here I have greater works to do. (Sigwart, BOTR, 3.)

I had not been destined for an old age. (Sigwart, BOTR, 29.)

I departed from you because I had greater tasks to fulfill. Everything was prepared for me. Therefore do not grieve for me because I have been chosen for a holy work. I have been called upon to create a part of it. This has to do with music. Seven heavenly symphonies are being composed! One of them I have composed. It is the purpose of these works to guide the impulses on earth into purer channels. The music will accomplish that. It will act upon humanity indirectly. This is our strongest medium for influencing mankind. (Sigwart, BOTR, 23.)

This was waiting for me and was the reason for my early death. (Sigwart, BOTR, 13.)

Although my conscious mind didn’t know I was about to return here, my soul did. Three days before the accident, I knew somehow, subconsciously, that my earth life was coming to a close. (Mike Swain in FMW, 51.)

I woke one night out of a sound sleep to find the room filled with light, although there was no light burning in it, and standing by my bedside was my dearest girl friend, Maggie. Addressing me by name, she said: “I have a secret to tell you. I know that I am going over to the other world before long and I want you to be with me at the last and [to] help … comfort my mother when I am gone.”

Before I had recovered from my fear and amazement to make any response she vanished and the light slowly faded from the room. …

A week later I was summoned to my friend’s home. I found her suffering from a feverish cold, but there was nothing in her condition to cause alarm. She had no presentiment of impending death. And it was obvious to me that she had no remembrance of the visit she paid me in her spirit form. Therein lies a mystery of which I can suggest no explanation. In the course of my life, I have seen several apparitions of people who were still living on the earth-plane of existence. To some of them I have spoken, and some of them have spoken to me; but subsequently I have always found that they themselves, in the body, had no knowledge or remembrance of such communications with me.

Maggie’s mother was called away to see a sister living at some distance who was seriously ill, and she asked me to stay with her daughter while she was absent. I had been with Maggie only about three or four days when, one night, she was suddenly taken very ill. She expired in my arms before the doctor, who had been summoned, could reach her. (Joy Snell, MA, 16-8.)

Some Realize They had been Prepared by Sleep Visits

I know now that I had often visited this plane of life in my sleep and you will be surprised to know that you all come here on occasions. It is hard for us to realize that you have no conscious memories of these visits, for, when you are in your astral bodies, you can see, hear and speak to us quite normally. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 27.)

I am glad to have known before my passing something about this life and the possibilities of communication with you. Before finally leaving I seemed to be dreaming and yet it was not wholly a dream. It seemed as if I had come here before the final separation from my physical body. I was only partly conscious towards the last, only half within the body; for my soul was already freeing itself. Nor did it seem wholly strange to me when I found myself here. I must have frequently come during sleep; for I could now remember that I had been here previously. (Winifred Combe Tennant in Paul Beard, LO, 65.)

A Transition that Results in a Stage of Enlightenment (Cosmic Consciousness)

I was ill for a long time before my terminal illness and, during this time, I started to draw closer to the Godhead. As I lost power of my limbs, I had to develop my mental faculties to compensate. Following my sixth stroke, I lost the use of my tongue and was shut off from communication with the material world. I then started to get clairaudience and visions from the other side, but could not communicate these to my family.

Then came the day of joyful release from my troubles, when my spirit body could once again fly loose and free as a bird. As I felt the pain of the stroke, I remember the knowledge permeating my conscious mind: “At last I am going to die.” I did not, as many people on your plane of existence believe, feel any sensation of terror. I felt at peace with the world, relaxed and mildly curious as to the outcome of it all. I felt as if I / was drifting on a cloud of cotton wool, a beautiful, languid feeling: released from all pain and sorrow.

Gradually the process of dissociation of mind and body was complete and I found myself drifting in space a few feet above my body. The feeling of gracious release, the knowledge that at last I was free of my body, is too beautiful a sensation to describe and mere words cannot adequately record these feelings; the sensation of utter bliss and the utterly delightful vibrations and colours on this plane of life [sic].

I looked at my family who were grieving for me, for as you know, we were a close knit family indeed. I thought, “Do not cry for me; only for yourselves, as all my earthly trials and tribulations are over and done with.” It was then that I realized with crystal clarity that, although I still retained my memories, my personality and traits of character, I was dead to the material world but alive to the spiritual world, in fact, more alive than I had ever been before.

The mist rolled away and I experienced what I now know to be “cosmic realization,” that is, understanding of the fact that I am as one with god, that I am more alive than ever, enjoying a fuller, more joyous existence and, moreover, that all my physical disabilities are left behind me in the grave. Silently I gave thanks to the Lord of all, who has blessed me so richly for my traumatic experiences, upon the plane of spirit. (Donald Macleod in HT, 10-11.)

Mass Transitions

Wartime Deaths

In these times, (1) … there are so many, so many who have been shot over here suddenly, in full earth vigour, hot-blooded, resentful in many cases, or wracked by hideous memories, all their emotions going strong and to be subdued. All these constitute a great mass of the “earth-bound” at present and we work amongst them. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 24.)

(1) Philip is referring to the Second World War and the years immediately after it.

Those who are killed quite suddenly … come over with the feelings and thoughts which they had just before. Often it is those who still think they have to go on fighting and have to be calmed; often they think they must have suddenly gone mad because the scene has changed. That is not surprising if you can imagine in what a tremendous state of tension, almost like madness, the actual fighting is carried out. Then they often think … they are now in a base hospital.

We have to humour them at first and only gradually explain to them what the hospital means. Sometimes they are profoundly glad, those who have come to the limit of endurance and rejoice to be free from the world of wars. Sometimes, with those who have very strong home ties, we have to let them realize as gently and gradually as possible; most are so weary in spirit that they worry very little and are soon ready to settle down to their rest.

Others have foreseen that they must be killed. They have seen the shell or bomb about to explode and have known that when it explodes they must be gone. (“Joe’s Scripts” in Paul Beard, LO, 64.)

I was in an oil tanker and we were all drowned when she was hit. It was very quick and I did not suffer any pain but tremendous surprise at finding myself possessed of the most wonderful strength and able to heave away all kinds of wreckage. I was making my way through the debris when I realised that we were moving through deep water. It was so still that it was just like a dream. I remember feeling it was quite easy to move and there was no difficulty in breathing (if we were breathing), but now I come to think of it, it was a different sort of breath. Anyhow I got free and so did some of my friends and we moved away without quite knowing what we were doing.

We found a stranger had joined us, his clothes were quite dry and he walked through the water without it seeming to touch him. I noticed this and after a time I said something to him about it. (From a sailor, the son of an old friend in Lord Dowding, MM, 29.) I was put on to a stretcher and taken to hospital, but [the Germans on Crete] did nothing for me except to give me a bed to lie on and my wound got septic and very painful. I got delirious, I suppose. … Anyway, after ages and ages of suffering I seemed to pass into a timeless sleep, and when I woke up there was no pain and I was out of doors so I thought I had escaped and I wandered about glad to be free, but I couldn't make sense of it all. I seemed unable to walk properly, I couldn't keep on the ground, and though I didn't fall it was extremely difficult to move along, and then the whole place would grow misty. I would see places and people one moment and the next I saw something quite different. I thought I was delirious again.

Now I know that I was seeing two planes at once, and I hadn't learnt to manage my spirit body, it all worried me a lot and I got quite hopeless. People would come up to help me, and just as we were beginning to understand each other I would see the outline of Crete, and be overcome by the desire to hide away from the Germans. It was a sort of torture, and then at last they got through to me and I was able to sleep - the real sleep of death - the putting off of one life and the taking on of another. (A Highlander taken prisoner on Crete in MM, 31.)

Yes. I am shot down and out. I have survived many flights but not this one. I am wounded, I cannot control the aircraft, it was my leg, you feel the pain, I could not move the controls and I fall, I cannot leave the aircraft, I fall quite consciously. I get up without any pain, I see my observer and gunner, he is hurt too but not so much. The Germans come to find us, they do not see me, I run and hide, but they do not look for me, my friend they take away. I wander about. I feel well and cannot think how I came to crash the aircraft. My leg is healed.

I wander about. I go to the French peasants and ask for help, but they do not see me and I begin to wonder. I am neither hungry nor thirsty, nor particularly tired. I begin to see things changing. I see colours everywhere; it is sunset or sunrise and it looks as if the colours were reflected in the earth as well as in the sky. I lay and watched the colour take form. It was like a cinema when one picture fades out and another takes its place.

I was astounded. I do not know where I am. I ask, I pray, I forget that I have no faith in religion. I pray for help and it comes to me. Someone looking very strange, and yet quite like ourselves, comes to me. He tells me not to mind the change, that it is best for all and that I shall be happy in this land. I am very confused. I think I am taken prisoner. Then he explains that there are no prisons or prisoners and I feel free again. He took me away and he told me to sleep. He touched my eyes and I sleep at once. When I wake he is still there and I am on Earth again in the occupied territory with Germans all round. I have come back to my body. I find it difficult to leave it.

I see no colours, but my new friend is there too, and he talks to me, but I can't see him well. They are doing something to my body. I am miserable so my friend tells me to think very hard of some place outside the war so I think very hard of the last time I see family life with you at H ---. I see you all quite easily, and I wake you and you feel me near and you talk to me. I ask you to let me stay and just sit quietly in your house far from the battle until I can go on, and you say "Yes," so I stay. Now I begin to feel sleepy again. I am between the worlds. Help me to throw off this one and to go on. I want to go on - I want to go on - I think I can, please help me. (S.Z., a Polish pilot who spent his last leave with Dowding in MM, 31-2.)

I prayed for help when we stuck in the sand and fire broke out, and prayed with all my soul and I know we couldn't escape, but prayer seemed to strengthen me and I felt that nothing really mattered so desperately, excepting the feeling of evil, and that had receded; I could not name it or explain it in words. It seemed to meet us from the sand and hang all around the tank battle. I felt sick and miserable, and then it passed off and I found myself standing outside the tank talking to my Colonel. (A WWII tank officer in MM, 33.)

I always thought it might be so, (1) but until I was picked off by a Jap sniper, I was never certain.

I fell face-downwards in the swampy mud of the jungle, and I lay unconscious for some time in a sort of nightmare, my body was trying to reassert itself, and my spirit to get free. Never think that when people seem unconscious that they really are so, at least I wasn't. It was a time of conscious paralysis, I have it, and, when something snapped (2) and I was free, I was awfully relieved. (American GI felled by Japanese sniper in MM, 32.)

(1) That we survive bodily death.
(2) Probably the silver cord.

I got back to our fellows and I soon realised what had happened when they didn't see me; but I was so interested in finding myself unchanged that I hadn't time to think of anything else. I wanted to tell them not to fear death and all that, but I couldn't. After a time I began to see the Jap dead, they were helping their own fellows, and the living Japs could sometimes see and hear them, and they used all the information given, and this made me feel that we should be able to do the same. I tried awfully hard, but I couldn't warn or suggest anything which could be accepted by the brains of our fellows, so I wandered off wondering what to do next.

I didn't exactly want to leave them to it, but there didn't seem to be any alternative, so I did. I wandered off into the forest, and for a time forgot all about the war, and all that my friends were going through because I was fascinated by the life that I saw all around me. I know the jungle well, I have lived in it alone for months on end, and I came back to it seeking rest and peace after the turmoil of war, and I found all I sought and more, much more. I suddenly found that I was seeing things that had been hidden from me during the whole of my physical life. I cannot describe the beauty of the life around me. The jungle is always rich in colour, sound and beauty of trees and flowers but now behind every thing that I knew so well lurked a hidden meaning, and some beautiful ray or sound seemed to permeate the very texture of the jungle life.

I can't explain. I was superbly happy, and entirely myself, but that self had grown in comprehension, and in power to experience contentment and bliss.

Then a voice came to my ears, and gradually I sensed a beautiful shining figure that said to me: "Here you see the land of pure content but you have left behind a land of passionate unrest. Do you not wish to help others to find the key to this place of joy?"

I was so overcome at never having thought of any one else for ages that I must have blushed like a schoolboy, but the Shining One didn't seem to notice. So I stammered that I really hadn't grasped my whereabouts yet, and could he help me? He said: "No, you found the way, and the rest you must discover for yourself, but others may not be so fortunate and need helping."

I didn't want to turn my back on this glorious place, but the Shining One promised to come with me and not leave me. He explained that I could always return just by recalling this place vividly and wishing myself here, and now equally you and I must see ourselves in the battle zone.

I did most regretfully, and away we seemed to pass, or rather there was no passing, one surrounding faded out and another took shape. The jungle moved or dissolved and its place was taken by another sort of jungle full of men shouting orders and screaming in pain. I felt unable to bear it at first, but the Shining One said: "Come and stand by this man. He is about to pass over to our side."

A second later and a bullet had ripped through his stomach and he lay groaning at our feet. The Shining One bent down and touched his head and eyes and instantly the groaning ceased and I saw his spirit leave his tortured body, and looking dazed and pale joined us both in the deep foliage of the jungle. Before I know what had happened we were back in the wonderful jungle; it was a delicious experience.

The man who had joined us was one of our own men. A dull, quiet looking fellow. I hardly knew him. He took no interest in games and was always reading. Now he brightened up suddenly upon catching sight of me, and said: "Hello, Sir, I didn't think you'd be here. I thought I'd seen you killed some days ago." I said: "Yes, and I saw you killed some minutes ago." The Shining One looked at me and I knew I shouldn't have broken the news so swiftly. But Burrows didn't seem to mind. "Oh, well, I've copped it have I? Well, I don't care, it's awful fighting here and not much chance of getting out," was all he said. But "What's it like here?" he continued.

I told him it was splendid, and that he had nothing to fear, and we walked about through the jungle clearing while the Shining One explained things to us. Soon we had both recovered from the shock and he took us back to the firing line to fetch more of our people and introduce then to this life. That is where we are now, and I wanted to get further and learn how to impress my thoughts upon the men in charge. I'm grateful to you for my first lesson; it doesn't seem to have gone too badly, but I'm tired now and I'll wish myself back in my jungle home of refreshment. I see there are no separate places, all are moods within ourselves, just like what we were taught as children. "The Kingdom of God is within you." (American G.I. felled by Japanese sniper in MM, 33-4.)

We came abroad in the Spring. I was one of the Snodbury lot. I'll give you my name soon but you likely don't remember me. We was all split up and I got sent to Egypt. … I didn't think that dying was like this. I thought it was all over and finished; and sometimes we seemed to go through such a gruelling I didn't see as how we could stand any more, and then, all of a sudden, it ceased and I was feeling upright as a trivet. A moment before I'd been dead beat and hot; oh, hot and thirsty with the most awful headache. The noise of battle fairly shattered me to bits, but then all of a sudden I was cool and fit and fresh as a daisy, and perky as could be, just looking on and hearing the noise, but not feeling shattered by it. I couldn't believe I was a "gonner." I saw my body just holed all over, and yet I couldn't believe it. I think I tried to pull it away from the gun, but there were others on top and beside me all in a heap. We'd got a direct hit all right.

The rest weren't there, that seemed queer to me, none of them, until I saw the officer. He come up to me and I pointed to where his body lay. He gave a kind of gasp and said: "Oh, well, I suppose that's that.” (Johnson, a British soldier from Libya in MM, 35-6.)

Multitudes Arrive at Once in Times of Disaster and War

“We were killed in the earthquake in Japan [c. 1926], and so many came, we wonder if any were left?”

'Were you Japanese?'

“We were Americans, resident in Yokohama. We came as suddenly as if shot out of a cannon. I cannot describe the awfulness. We were not the first to come, and so had the terror, the horrible scenes of prevailing death, before we ourselves were killed.”

'How were you killed?'

“Falling walls, opening ground, and tidal waves all seemed to combine for the one unendurable moment in which we found our destruction. Then all was blank, all silence — knowledge faded — fear departed — leaving a sense of deep and quiet rest.” (Unnamed American spirit in LHH, 29.)

After a severe earthquake, in which Gordon, with others, had been helping those who had suffered sudden death, I asked, “Do these catastrophes shock you?”

“They cause a lot of work, but we know these people are safe and spared the suffering of those left behind in the devastated areas.” (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher, TR, 38.)

I know you are wondering why in the world and throughout the world you are having so many catastrophes.

Don’t you see the answer?

The world has gone completely, or almost completely, materialistic. They worship money and power on this plane and on the lowest level and so to break their mad rush, groups of people have to be withdrawn suddenly so as to shock those who remain into some sort of fear or a questing state of mind. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 51.)

[The mother in the building on fire] had felt the burning, suffocating power of the fire, but her intense agony over the child had made her indifferent to it; and then it suddenly ceased, and she was free and following a trail that only her finer body could detect. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 51.)

The fire was roaring over our heads and, as we reached the entrance, a great beam or block of concrete fell on us. It was so sudden I was knocked out instantly and so were the children. The next thing I knew I found myself standing outside on top of the wreckage. It was burning furiously but it didn’t touch me and one by one the children joined me and cowered close together. We were all standing on the glowing embers, but we weren’t being burnt.

I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t dare to move as there was fire all / round us and the children were terrified. I wasn’t somehow, this was all so strange. Some queer draught, I thought, had taken the heat from the spot where we were and, if we could only stay quite still until the fire might burn out, or rescuers reach us, [we would be OK] so I told the children to stay quite still and wait.

We did so – the fire blazed and we were all caught up in a strange way by the beauty of it and, out of the fire seemed to come shapes, and forms, and living people. Others joined us, seeing that we were unhurt and we became quite a large group.

Then suddenly we heard voices calling us, “Don’t be afraid, walk out. Lift yourselves. You are free of the fire.” We took no notice at first – how could we lift ourselves out of the fire? Then a girl of about fifteen came up to me and said, “This is exciting. It’s like the astronauts walking in space. Have you tried it?”

“Well, no,” I said, “how can I?”

“Like this,” and she took my hand and seemed to be stepping into the air. Quite unconsciously I followed her and so did the children who were clinging to me. We were all a bit light-headed when we found ourselves walking in the air over the fire and looking down into it. “Don’t look down. Look up.”

I did so and saw a whole mass of people like ourselves, actually walking on air! I thought: this is the strangest phenomenon. No doubt there is some quite natural, physical explanation of a gap in the gravitational pull caused by the fire. I was still very wary. I thought it might close in suddenly and we should all fall down among the blazing ruins so I told the children to hold on to me and we would move as carefully as we could while this strange pocket of air held us. …

The current, as I supposed it was, seemed to be bearing us gently upwards, It was a very pleasant sensation. I was quite enjoying it and so were the children. Then a stillness came upon us. The roar of the fire and the screams and shouts of people died away and we were alone in space. … This was rather terrifying. What should I do next? …

Whenever I tried to drop down, my efforts were firmly resisted. I was growing desperate. Were we sailing off to the moon on some strange current of air? Then I began to hear voices telling me not to worry. I could see no one at / this stage and I thought I must be imagining things or getting delirious. The children were quiet and looked confident.

“Let yourself go. Relax. You are in safe keeping,” was shouted into my ear and a short time after that I began to see we were in a large party being escorted, if you can call it that, on and on, into another layer of ether. I longed desperately to feel firm ground beneath my feet. “You will soon,” said the same voice and then my hand was seized by a firm grip and, before I knew what was happening, we were among trees and flowers and standing, as I’d hoped, on firm ground in a sort of garden.

“Where on earth have we got to?” I asked.

“Well, you’ll see,” said the voice. “It’s not exactly on earth any more.” …

Then suddenly, in front of me, I saw the form of a man. He seemed to grow into my vision. At first only a blurred object, which crystallized into a human form.

“Who are you and where am I?” I asked in amazement.

He was still gripping my hand. “Take it easy, son,” he said. “You’ve passed over. You and the children have reached the next stage of living. You are now what the world calls dead.” (Unnamed spirit communicator in AL, 52-4.)

In ancient days great plagues would send thousands of souls into spirit lands in most distressing conditions. In modern times one has no need to point to the devastating wars that cast people loose into the spirit world with shocking suddenness. In many cases such sudden dissolution is a great shock to the spirit body undergoing it. But here again the spirit world has risen to every contingency. Homes of rest exist here especially for the treatment of people who have undergone a sudden transition. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 22.)

As the earth world progresses in civilization – in its own estimation – the means and methods of waging war become more devastating and wholesale. In place of hundreds killed in battles in ancient times, the slain are now counted in hundreds of thousands. Every one of those souls has finished with his earthly life - though not with the consequences of it – and, in so many cases, the earth world has finished with him too.

The individual may survive as a memory to those whom he has left behind him; his physical presence is gone. But his spirit presence is unalterably with us. The earth world has passed him on to us, oftentimes not really caring what has befallen him. He will leave behind him those whom he loved and who loved him, but the earth world – so it thinks – can do nothing for him, nor for those who mourn his passing. It is we, in the spirit world, who will care for that soul. With us there is no shifting the responsibility on to other shoulders and passing upon our way. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 115.)

The earth world, in its blind ignorance, hurls hundreds of thousands of souls into this our land, but those who dwell in the high realms are fully aware long before it happens, of what is to take place upon the earth-plane and a fiat goes forth to the realms nearer the earth to prepare for what is to come. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU 116.)

They say there never has been in all man’s history such wholesale precipitation of souls into our world – very ordinary, unevolved people, too, not really bad, but not evolved enough to attract strongly advanced help by the operation of the Law. It is felt over here that these people did not have a fair chance as, had they lived out their complete earth cycle, they might have found themselves better off here and so we try to seek them out individually and to help them. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 235.)

There is much to do here to help the multitudes who come. With every second some soul arrives on this side. Sometimes in great catastrophes they arrive by hundreds. Can you not see how often we are called to help? (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth, LHH, 42.)

What you hear are the first mutterings of a conflict which will be long and arduous. Such are of periodical occurrence. If you could read the story of the world with the spirit-sight, you would see that there have always been periodic battles between the evil and the good. There have recurred seasons when undeveloped intelligences have had predominance. Especially are such seasons consequent on great wars among you. Many spirits are prematurely withdrawn from the body. They then pass before they are fit; and at the moment of departure they are in evil state, angry, bloodthirsty, filled with evil passion.

They do mischief great and long in the after-life. Nothing is more dangerous than for souls to be rudely severed from their bodily habitation, and to be launched into spirit-life, with angry passions stirred, and revengeful feelings dominant. It is bad that any should be dismissed from earth-life suddenly, and before the bond is naturally severed. It is for this reason that all destruction of bodily flesh is foolish and rude: rude, as betokening a barbarous ignorance of the conditions of life and progress hereafter; foolish, as releasing an undeveloped angry spirit from its trammels, and endowing it with extended capacity for mischief. (Spirit leader Imperator [Malachi] in Moses, ST, 29.)

The Case of W.T. Stead and the Titanic

I was still so near the earth that I could see everything going on there. Where I was I could see the wrecked ship, (1) the people, the whole scene; and that seemed to pull me into action—I could help! ...and so in a few seconds—though I am now taking a long time to tell you, it was only a few seconds really—I found myself changed from the helpless state to one of action; HELPFUL not helpless—I was helpful, too, I think. (W.T. Stead, BI, 38.)

(1) The wrecked ship is the Titanic.

I pass a little now. The end came and it was all finished with. It was like waiting for a liner to sail; we waited until all were aboard. I mean we waited until the disaster was complete. The saved—saved; the dead—alive. Then in one whole we moved our scene. It was a strange method of traveling for us all, and we were a strange crew, bound for we knew not where. The whole scene was indescribably pathetic. Many, knowing what had occurred, were in agony of doubt as to their people left behind and as to their own future state. What would it hold for them? Would they be taken to see Him? What would their sentence be? Others were almost mental wrecks. They knew nothing, they seemed to be uninterested in everything, their minds were paralyzed. A strange crew indeed, of human souls waiting their ratings in the new land.

A matter of a few minutes in time only, and here were hundreds of bodies floating in the water—dead—hundreds of souls carried through the air, alive; very much alive, some were. Many, realizing their death had come, were enraged at their own powerlessness to save their valuables. They fought to save what they had on earth prized so much.

The scene on the boat at the time of striking was not pleasant, but it was as nothing to the scene among the poor souls newly thrust out of their bodies, all unwillingly. It was both heartbreaking and repellent. And thus we waited—waited until all were collected, until all were ready, and then we moved our scene to a different land. (W.T. Stead, BI, 38-40.)

When the Titanic went down, Estelle, Stead’s daughter, was on a tour with her own Shakespearean Company. One of the members of the touring group was a young man named Pardoe Woodman. According to Estelle Stead, a few days before the disaster, Woodman told her over tea that there was to be a great disaster at sea and that an elderly man very close to her would be among the victims. In 1917, shortly after being discharged from the army, Woodman began receiving messages from William T. Stead by means of automatic writing. Estelle Stead then started sitting with Woodman and observing. She noted that Woodman wrote with his eyes closed and that the writing was very much like her father’s. Moreover, the writing would stop at times and go back to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s,” a habit of her father’s which she was sure Woodman knew nothing about.

Stead informed his daughter that there were hundreds of souls hovering over their floating bodies after the big ship [the Titanic] went down, some of them apparently not comprehending their new state as they complained about not being able to save all of their valuables. After what felt like a few minutes, they all seemed to rise vertically into the air at a terrific speed. “I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how far from the earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival,” Stead recorded through Woodman’s hand. “It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky. There, all was brightness and beauty.” (“William Stead,” WS, n.p.)

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