A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife


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19. Apparitions and after death contacts

“Like the Ancient Greeks I had designed a psychomanteum, to which people could come to consult with the spirits of the deceased. It was clear that given proper preparation, people could see apparitions of departed loved ones... instead of telling a therapist how they feel about losing a spouse or child they could talk to the loved one directly.”
Raymond Moody

Seeing an apparition—a form of a person not physically present—is consistent with the argument that we all survive physical death. Objective evidence for apparitions is by way of case studies and laboratory induced apparitions.

A very common phenomenon

Apparitions are a recurring theme in the literature and folklore of all countries and over all of recorded history. They have been scientifically studied since at least 1882 and the results have consistently showed them to be very widely experienced (Currie 1978: 17 Bayless 1973: 17).

The first systematic inquiry into apparitions was instituted by the English Society for Psychical Research in 1882. The result was embodied in Phantasms of the Living by Myers, Podmore and Gurney. A further, far more detailed international study, was commenced in 1889. Thirty-two thousand cases of sightings of apparitions were received, 17,000 in English. The report published in 1894 fills almost the whole of Volume X of the Society for Psychical Research Proceedings.

Further studies by the American Society for Psychical Research and by the French researcher Camille Flammarion who compiled thousands of cases in his books The Unknown (1900) Harper and Brothers London and New York and Death and Its Mystery (1925) also found that after death communications were a very widely experienced phenomenon.

In 1973 University of Chicago sociologist asked a sample of 1,467 Americans if they had ever felt they had contact with someone who had died. Twenty seven per cent answered that they had (Greenley 1975). A similar survey in Iceland (Haraldsson et al 1976) found that thirty-one per cent said yes.

Dr W.D. Rees, a British physician found that of a sample of widows in Wales, forty seven per cent had experiences—often repeatedly over a number of years—that convinced them that their dead spouses had been in contact with them (Rees 1971: 37-41). An earlier British experiment by Dr P. Marris (1958) had found a figure of fifty per cent.

This study was repeated in Canada by Dr Earl Dunn (1977: 121-122) who also found that fifty per cent of widows and widowers had contact experiences. Many of these people had thought that they were 'going crazy' and had not previously told anyone of their experiences as they expected to be ridiculed.

Children who die usually make contact

Several studies have found that a very high proportion of parents of children who die can expect to see or hear them and experience great consolation within a few months of the child's death.

Dr Melvin Morse, a pediatrician who has done extensive studies of death and dying, claims that they are so common that it is rare for someone to lose a parent or child and not see them again in a death-related vision (Morse 1994: 135).

Not hallucinations

There are many reasons why these apparitions cannot be regarded as hallucinations, wish fulfillment or the product of the unconscious mind.

1. The normality of the witnesses.

In most of these cases the person was in a perfectly ordinary state of mind, free from shock stress or elation. Also the experiences were totally unexpected and took place in familiar surroundings. Nor were the witnesses mediumistic or telepathic—it was rare for witnesses to state that they had more than one or two such experiences in a lifetime (Tyrrell 1963: 23). In many cases the witnesses were scientifically trained people of high credibility.

2. Objective phenomena.

The appearance of an apparition often involves tangible physical phenomena such as the movement or breakage of objects and sounds such as footsteps that have been recorded on tape. Apparitions have been observed to cast a shadow, be reflected in a mirror, overturn furniture, leave a scent, ask for a lift, in short, demonstrate all the qualities of a real entity.

In some cases the apparitions even leave behind samples of their handwriting. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a gifted doctor who pioneered the study of death and dying, claims that a former patient of hers appeared to her when she was thinking of giving up her work. The woman, Mrs. Schwartz, got into a lift with her and accompanied her to her office where she told her not to give up her work on death and dying. Kübler-Ross thought that she must be hallucinating because the woman, Mrs. Schwartz, had died ten months earlier. But when she asked her to write date and sign a note the woman did so before disappearing (Kübler-Ross 1997: 178).

3. Seen by more than one person

Many of the recorded cases have been seen by more than one person. For example in a case investigated by the Society for Psychical Research, nine people resident in a house in Ramsbury, England saw the apparition of a man who had died ten months previously, both separately and as a group, from February until April. He invariably was seen beside his dying widow's bedside with his hand placed on her forehead and was visible for up to half an hour at a time (Holzer 1965: 52-56).

Professor Hart in his book The Enigma of Survival (1959) claims that between one third and two thirds of all apparitions are seen by more than one person, and are seen differently by each viewer according to the correct perspective.

4. Conveying information not known to the observer

In many cases the person who appears conveys to the observer information about how they died, their place of burial or other information not known to the observer. In one famous case accepted by the American Courts—the Chaffin Will case—a father who had died appeared and talked to one of his sons and gave him details of how to find his will.

In some cases people appear apparently with the express purpose of saving loved ones from danger. This happened to Elaine Worrell who lived with her husband Hal on the top floor of an apartment building in Oskaloosa, Iowa. One day she saw a young man in her hallway who led her downstairs into the apartment of a young widow whom she barely knew. She found the young woman collapsed on a bed after having slashed her wrists. After she recovered, the young woman showed her a photograph of her late husband; Elaine recognized it immediately as the young man who had led her downstairs and into the apartment (Holzer 1963: 138-141).

Apparitions at the time of death

A very large number of apparition cases involve a person who has recently died appearing to one or more loved ones to announce the fact of their death. In many such cases the death was unexpected and was later confirmed to have occurred immediately before the apparition.

Several documented and confirmed examples from various studies include:

• the case of Second Lieutenant Leslie Poynter who was killed in action. At 9pm on the evening of his death he appeared to his sister in England, walked into her bedroom, bent over and kissed her and then, smiling happily, faded from view. It was not until two weeks later that the family received a telegram informing them of his death earlier in the day on the same date ( McKenzie 1971: 116-117 )

• the case of Mrs. Pacquet whose brother Edmund appeared to her six hours after he had drowned at sea and acted out how he had been caught around the legs by a rope and dragged overboard (Cited in Rogo 1974: 16-17)

• the case of Mrs. Gladys Watson who was awakened from a deep sleep by someone calling her name. On waking she saw her paternal grandfather who told her 'Don't be frightened. It's only me. I've just died.' When she woke her husband he refused to believe it and telephoned the family home only to learn that the grandfather had died unexpectedly a few minutes before (Spraggett 1975: 45-46).

Death compacts

According to Bennett (1939: 282) about one in twenty of the cases on the files of the Society for Psychical Research involve 'death-compacts' where two people promise that whoever dies first will endeavor to appear to the other. From the evidence a large number of these agreements have been fulfilled including:

• the case of Lord Brougham, an English peer, who was traveling in Sweden. He suddenly saw an apparition of a university friend he had not seen or thought about for years. Later he received a letter confirming that the friend had died in India at the exact time of the apparition. While at university the two had often speculated on the question of survival and had drawn up an agreement written in their blood that whichever of the two died first would appear to the other (Cited in Johnson 1971: 198-199)

• Mrs. Arthur Bellamy of Bristol who made a similar agreement with a school friend whom she had not seen for years. A night after the friend's death a lady was seen by Mr. Bellamy sitting on the bed beside his sleeping wife. He later identified her from a photograph as the same friend (Bennett 1939: 131-132).

Laboratory induced apparitions

Dr Raymond Moody, who became famous for his pioneering studies of Near-Death Experiences, worked on ways of inducing facilitated apparitions in a controlled setting. He took as his model classic works from Ancient Greece which suggested that when people wished to contact a deceased loved one they consulted with an 'oracle' at a psychomanteum.

A psychomanteum is a specially built laboratory using mirrors to help facilitate the psychic process. Part of the actual psychic process includes the sending of telepathic messages, sending vibrations, to the selected recipient in the afterlife.

Moody has reconstructed the process with astonishing results—85% of his clients who go through a full day of preparation do make contact with a deceased loved one—but not necessarily the one that they are seeking to meet. In most cases this occurs in his specially build psychomanteum but in 25% of cases it happens later in their own homes—often the client wakes up and sees the apparition at the foot of the bed (Moody 1993: 97).

The psychomanteum phenomenon is still in the early stages but is spreading steadily in the United States. People are being trained to become psychomanteum facilitators. One of the most exciting aspects of this is the opportunity to continue to objectify the results. According to Dianne Arcangel, an associate of Dr Moody, in some cases when contact is made the person seeking contact is given information that they did not previously know (Arcangel 1997). The potential is enormous and the process is being refined all the time.

All of Moody's clients insist that this contact is not hallucination—there is clear two-way communication, in some cases physical touch. Moody himself expresses amazement that:

It became clear that the visionary reunions were being experienced as real events, not fantasies or dreams. So far almost all of the subjects have asserted that their encounters were completely real and that they had actually been in the living presence of loved ones lost to death (Moody 1993: 97).

He also notes that all the indications are that the person is experiencing a paranormal event which, like the Near Death Experience, changes the subject's outlook on life and leads them to become 'kinder, more understanding and less afraid of death' (Moody 1993: 98).

Moody gives full instructions on how to create your own psychomanteum in his book Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones (1993 Ballantine Books New York by Raymond Moody with Paul Perry).


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