A Review of Psychical Research - Part Six. More psychic experiences, heart attacks, NDEs and the return of Dr. Peebles.
Before continuing with a few more accounts of psychic and spiritual experiences collected by Frances Banks from answers to her questionnaire, I will mention a description of an N.D.E. which was included in Sanjay Gupta's medical show on CNN television on Sunday, October 18th, 2009. Towards the end of the programme, which dealt with heart attacks and how modern technology has greatly increased the recovery rate in cardiac arrest cases, there was an interview with Laura Garrity, a grandmother from North Attleborough, Massachusetts, who had a near-death experience after suffering a heart attack outside the school where she worked as a bus driver. A de-fibrillator was applied by the school nurse and an assistant without result, and she was taken to the emergency room of the local hospital. She had no pulse, was not breathing on her own, and had no blood pressure. After 57 minutes in this state, with three last-minute attempts to revive her with electro-shock, she finally regained consciousness, and came back to life, miraculously with no brain damage.
What she experienced while she was "out" was no dream, she said. "I know I went some place else. I know there's a different place than here. My body was here, but I just floated away right out of my body. I saw white. It was very peaceful. I saw people, but I kept going. I wanted to see my Mum and my ex-husband, and they both came, and it was very peaceful, so peaceful, and bright. It was beautiful. I remember trying to reach out for my ex-husband, trying to touch him, but he moved back, and then they floated away. I was just there. I remember this massive energy, very powerful energy. When that was happening, there were pictures of my son, my daughter, and my granddaughter. Every second there were pictures flashing in my mind, and then that must have been when I came back. I am not a religious person. I didn't see God or Jesus, but I was there. I know what it was like."
Now, compare that account by Laura Garrity of her near-death experience with what happened to the author Don Pendleton during open-heart surgery back in 1979. Here is a conversation he had with the spirit of Dr Peebles, through the mediumship of Thomas Jacobson sometime between 1987 and 1989. Many interesting transcripts are contained in “To Dance with Angels” by Don and Linda Pendelton. Zebra Books. 1990.
DON PENDLETON - I had open-heart surgery in 1979. During that process, I experienced something similar to what others have described as a near-death experience. Could we talk a little bit about that?
DOCTOR PEEBLES - Yes, of course. It was a death experience, Don. Wasn’t near-death; it was death. And if you had not chosen to come [back] to the body, you just would have kept going right where you were, with what you were experiencing, and there were spirit beings coming closer to you – and there was the enormous, enormous power of light through every fiber of you being; you became aware of the voices behind you, that it would be wise to return……We did not insist that you had to come back. That’s how you remembered it, perhaps; but it was your choice….the reason you did so was because you changed your priorities - here on the spirit side. You said….”I’m going to help humanity – of the western hemisphere, in particular, to redefine the male so as to allow gentleness instead of fear….to revere sensitivity rather than hide it or pretend it’s not there. That’s exactly what you are, extraordinarily sensitive and gentle, in a very strong male – and that is a very high spiritual teaching that you are going to bring forward – and, of course, of the spiritual philosophies and psychologies you are going to be a forerunner, and it is you, Don, who is going to be thrust into the public eye, in the years ahead, as a spokesperson – and you had to decide if you really wanted to do that or not. [This is true. Don and his wife Linda have brought out several books of spiritual teachings, the title above and ‘Three Principles of Angelic Wisdom,” “Whispers from the Soul,” and “A Walk through Grief.”]
Because when that option became clear to you here on the spirit side, you were shown pictures; you saw little movies of other lifetimes where you did something similar and you regretted it, because life tried to hurt you, and sometimes loved ones turned against you, and sometimes it appeared that your choice created pain for loved ones…..But you met that, and you said – Ah, I see. All right, well, everyone around me is the creator, too, as well as am I, and I must speak my piece, I must express it to the world and then allow the world to respond as they will. …All right, I’m ready, let’s go – and you clapped your hands together and dove right back into that body. You understand me”
DON - Yes thank you, Dr. Peebles. I’d like to close on that note. Thank you very much.
PEEBLES - God bless you, my friends…Go your way, we love you – both of you, all of you, go your ways in peace, love and harmony – we’re with you and when we leave this channel, remember, we’re still here. God bless you each and every one.
For those who have difficulty in believing that past life reviews can be received during an NDE, you could say that these are somehow reflections of spiritual experiences of lessons previously learned on the spirit planes. If, however, there is no belief in the pre-existence of the soul before conception and birth here on this planet, we do all come into some difficulty, which we also have in trying to grasp the concept of the spirit living beyond the dimensions of time, space and motion. These are all topics about which we can postpone further discussion until the “time” we meet again on the other side, where we may have more insight and information, and a wider perspective. Meantime, we can just continue to record our experiences, and share and compare them with others, which is the reason for participating in these discussion groups here and now! So here it would be timely to return to some more of the responses to the Psychic Research Questionnaire devised by Frances Banks.
“Sometimes when praying just before going to the pulpit, the sermon one had prepared would seem wrong and a new one would flash into one’s mind. Some would say sermons should be better prepared. I remember the senior curate telling me my sermon was not sufficiently prepared, and the next Sunday congratulating me on a well prepared one. The first one had given me much trouble, the second had come with a flash just before preaching it, and the thoughts came along as I spoke. Sometimes one has a strange feeling that one is standing beside oneself, amazed at the thoughts, and the words with which they are being transmitted to the congregation. One feels that this is not me.” Anglican priest.
[This is identical with one of the levels of trance address given by spirit guides through their mediums. Lay preachers, and generals addressing their troops have at times been recorded as being inspired beyond their normal capacities].
“In my youth, about 20 years of age, when on military service in the Libyan desert, I lay in my tent asleep. I saw from outside the tent [out-of-body] my own body and saw someone go near it and take something from behind my head. That this took place was confirmed by a third party who saw the second person from outside the tent, and asked me [later] if I had missed anything. I had no idea at the time that my experience was other than a dream. The REALITY is to me certain.” Former serviceman.
“A crucial event occurred during my time as an army chaplain abroad, at a difficult time of decision, and altered the course of my life’s work. Two lorries collided and one mounted the pavement, hitting me with such force that it seemed as though my back was broken. While waiting for the ambulance, suddenly I heard a voice – inside me, yet not any part of me that I had ever heard before – saying slowly and deliberately ‘This is very unpleasant but it had to happen; you are not to worry, everything will turn out all right. And this voice was like a command, not to worry; for with it came the most wonderful feeling of complete peace, flooding over the whole of my body.” Anglican priest.
“Once in my youth and in very great trouble, I was agonizing in prayer at night in my room – and I distinctly felt a hand on my shoulder and I was filled with peace.” Woman parishioner.
“The only religious experience I can claim to have had was after the death of our daughter, 20 years ago. At that time while praying I felt a hand pass over my head, and all my anguish left me immediately.” Middle-aged Christian.
“Yes, I’ve seen fairies – in Kensington Gardens – ‘little green men.’” A medium
“Yes indeed. I have watched fairies in Ireland many times working in garden and fields.” A medium.
As for being able to see auras, Frances Banks commented that there is an indication that either the one who sees them must have some special gift or training; or that the one whose aura is manifest has some outstanding quality or function as in the following three replies:
“I look for the halo now; at first and for a long time I thought it was a trick of light. Usually seen when looking UP as towards a pulpit – but also on platforms when speakers are not known to me to be religious, or even speaking on those subjects.”
“Twice I have seen a deep violet light behind Dr. [Leslie] Weatherhead – when he was preaching after recovery from illness.”
“Only once saw an aura – very radiant sapphire blue light, round the figure of the healer – Brother [Mandus]. Dazzling and extending widely around him as he entered a hall, and stood on the platform.”
“Once a holiday was almost spoiled for me by a hotel bedroom which threw a blanket of gloom round me each time I entered it – a blanket so strong that it was almost vocal: ‘Life is passing you by. The others are having fun and you are left out.’ I finally discovered the building had been a medieval monastery. Another building, on the far side of Canada, as loudly proclaimed: ‘Welcome!’ I just wanted to sing when I entered it. It had been built by an old sea-captain whose hobby was seeing young people happy, and who had designed it as a centre for entertaining them.” Lady journalist.
“A few nights before a motor journey in India, I dreamt we were travelling very fast. The car suddenly swerved left, jumped the bank, turned a somersault and bumped along to a standstill, right way up. The dream was very vivid and I remembered clutching my husband’s knee in fright. A few days later this actually happened – except the somersault. I remembered my dream and realised we were safe - and we were.” A colonel’s wife.
“During the war, while we were living in India, and Denmark was occupied by the Germans, I woke one morning on my verandah in Madras, sat up in bed and said to my husband, ‘Anna (my sister in Denmark) has given birth to her baby. It’s a girl and her name is K----.’ I knew that my sister was expecting a baby. We checked on my ‘communication’ when we could, and it was found to be correct.”
“On September 12, 1954, at Orillia, Ontario,[Stephen Leacock’s home town] Dr. Rolf Alexander demonstrated the disintegration of cumulus cloud by psychokinesis.” The Power of the Mind. Rolf Alexander, MD. Werner Laurie, 1956. [Since then similar feats have been performed by shaman Rolling Thunder, Uri Geller and Ted Owens].
There are several accounts of out-of-body experiences:-
“Floating deliciously down the stairs and out of the house through the garden.”
“Floating among the tree-tops just outside my bedroom window, with a rosy dawn breaking. I woke, and looked through the window at that rosy dawn.’
Some go abroad, to France, Italy, Turkey, and “a river bank in China.” One English school-girl in Brussels rose from bed and saw her sleeping body, and went home to England, trying to get her family to notice her, until she realised they couldn’t see her, and returned to her physical body in a great state of agitation, perspiring freely. Others are more general in their scenic descriptions, and speak of diverse places, pleasant places, magnificent country (as if flying), stupendous views outside their life experience, wonderful scenery, sometimes in a monastery, in beautiful grounds on lawns with wonderful lilies in them, in beautiful country with unsurpassed colours. Meeting friends. A few stress the indelible memories of such experiences. Some revert to childhood: “As a child I very often dreamt of rising off the floor and floating round the ceiling or down the stairs with just the tips of my fingers on the banisters and my legs straight out in front more or less at right angles to my body. When I made for the ceiling I rose by treading with my feet. Occasionally one or other of my brothers seemed to be there too and the youngest one would try to catch my feet but I could always elude him as apparently he couldn’t leave the floor. I remember when doing it in the hall I always felt I must be careful not to go out of the front door as I doubted my power to stop rising once my feet were off the floor if there were no ceiling to stop me.”
“On occasion I felt myself coming down horizontally chiefly to the left of my body. I slid in and it seemed something like putting a hand into a glove; on both occasions this was accompanied by a rather frightening feeling in my head something like a violent electric shock. The second time I was not so frightened as I realized what was happening and recorded my sensations.”
“Have projected out of my body in sleep and found myself unable to stand upright and have moved forward like a fish, head first, always wondering if I would hit my head on a wall or obstacle but nothing happened. Landed in same position outside some village unknown and could see it in the distance. Then woke up.”
“After going to sleep one hot-weather afternoon in India, when I was about 23, I suddenly found myself suspended at about arm’s length, over my own body which I could clearly recognize and touch. I was terrified, thinking I might be dying, and struggled frantically to get back; eventually succeeding in doing so. There was a feeling of gradual blending with my body and then I woke up.”
“One wonderful experience while awake of returning to bed traveling through the walls and doors of my own house and on to bed still fully awake and with a vivid remembrance. This remembrance however was of worlds beyond the terrestrial.”
Frances Banks writes: “Leaving these earthly encounters, we pass on to excursions into astral, mental and spiritual regions, with destinations variously described in such terms as: ‘some unknown place of beauty and light’; ‘ a good, happy place’; ‘Heaven’; ‘homes, buildings and scenes of the most intense colour and beauty’; ‘a roof which was studded with gems of every colour’; ‘a landscape with mountains and paths and the atmosphere all carved out of a shining white light like transparent gems; ‘an enormous sheet of golden light’. All this suggesting that some at least experience even in this life the reality of those thing of which the hymnals tell.’
A few years after Frances Banks passed, Alister Hardy started his own investigations in the very same area of spirituality and the paranormal and in 1969 founded the Religious Experience Research Unit at Manchester College, Oxford. This now continues in Lampeter, at the University of Wales. In a future article I will take a look at his work, and compare it with what Frances Banks achieved.
The folk tales, myths and legends of every region and country handed down to us over the ages must have originated as the direct personal experiences of our distant ancestors and so the personal stories over more recent years from the fields of spiritualism, mediumship and psychic research will one day form a vast compendium of the lore of spirit communication and spiritual philosophy and psychic science. The sheer volume and vastness of human experience of the spiritual realms outweighs the fakery, the hoaxes, the charlatanism, the chicanery and the eternal bickering as to who and what is authentic, legitimate and real.
This controversy as to what is genuine often takes up more space than accounts of the happenings and hoaxes themselves. But there is no smoke without fire. I prefer to focus on what appears to be genuine in examining the information presented by responsible mediums, witnesses and researchers whom I can trust. Rather than waste precious time over these issues in our relatively short lives, for the rest of my writing and compiling, I will assume that the stories and communications I select and use are authentic, and as real as what I have personally experienced, and let time and the reader's personal assessment winnow out the dross, so that what remains will embrace the essential truths of the spiritual reality of life. I am confident in using the material I have selected, because it has already been endorsed by investigators I respect, of the caliber of Lord Dowding, Sir Victor Goddard, Roy Dixon-Smith and Reginald Lester, for example, former service-men who devoted their later years to psychical research as well as by the many other journalists, professionals and academics, and the mediums themselves.
However, researchers tend to patronize mediums, or take them for granted, employing them rather like in a doctor-nurse relationship, or hired by the hour for their assistance without due acknowledgement of the true value of their gifts and talents. In earlier times, mediums suffered the indignity of being strip-searched, tied and bound to a chair, their mouth filled with water to test direct voice, and blindfolded or locked in a cabinet. Police might break in and interrupt a physical séance, and cause severe shock or the death of the medium. Even recently Colin Fry has been tied to his chair, and yet has been levitated out of the circle, and had his jacket turned inside-out by spirit influence. Some modern mediums are a little put off by the way they are used in double blind tests and reported on in the investigators’ books.
In order to put that situation back in balance and emphasize the most important element contributing to our spiritual knowledge, I am presenting this series of articles. After all, without mediums and spiritual healers, researchers would be out of work. However, to give them their due, researchers themselves have risked losing their academic status when they dedicated their lives to psychic research and to Spiritualism. Catholic priests like Johannes Greber had to leave the church because of his support of a local medium, and Frances Banks herself chose to leave her spiritual community because the information she was receiving was not compatible with orthodox beliefs.
Over the past twenty-five years I have had personal evidential communications, through different mediums. from family members, friends and colleagues who have passed, and I have also collected or loaned as many books and reports I could locate on the subject from around the world, which corroborate my own direct experiences. Robert Egby the Spiritualist minister, medium, author and researcher kindly gave me copies of some Journals of the British and American Psychical Research Societies from the 1920s and 1930s which record very competent investigations at the time, which I shall continue to refer to in order to confirm and supplement the material and topics in these articles.
A near death experience in childhood had already prepared me for the more recent experiences, enabling me to assess the work of mediums and psychical researchers without being discouraged by debunkers and sceptics, neither naively accepting everything that has been related without carefully assessing its reliability.
That being said, I will continue to pick out stories and communication which I find interesting and link them together in the same way that James Burke used to present scientific discoveries and inventions on his "Connections" programmes on television. At risk of being labelled unscientific as a mere provider of anecdotal material, I will continue to present what interests and intrigues me in what I have managed to collect.
Although much of this early literature is in the public domain, some publishers and authors are rehashing it wholesale, putting it under copyright in their version. I will continue to review the more recent as well as the older publications, and direct the reader to the originals for the complete texts. Many are available online, through libraries and bookstores, and from Spiritualist and Spiritist organisations and Research societies. As an educator I enjoy presenting the thread of ideas and information given by past and present mediums and researchers. These are my lesson and seminar notes, so to speak,as I do not have the means and energy to travel far on lecture tours.
To be continued. Richard R
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