Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a strong interest in the field of “afterlife studies” and other mystical topics. My mother once told me that my father had visited a psychic in Venice, California. This woman predicted that he would meet my mother and have two children; she described everyone in accurate detail. When I was in my early twenties I visited a psychic who was referred to me by my therapist at the time. The psychic made a lot of generalizations about me and while they were fitting, she did not tell me anything that would give me chills. She definitely did not convince me that she was channeling from a higher realm. I felt disappointed, but I didn’t lose hope that someday I could locate another medium with more advanced talents.
As a child, I felt a strong belief in a ethereal world beyond ours that gave me the shivers…in a good way. Sometimes I’d have a vivid glimpse of this world; it was usually triggered by a beautiful image in nature. I never discussed these moments with anyone, but later on I discovered a similar-sounding depiction of these otherworldly glimpses in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books. Montgomery, author of “Anne of Green Gables”, wrote a trilogy featuring a young Canadian writer named Emily Byrd Starr. Her first book, “Emily of New Moon”, begins with little Emily losing her beloved father. The book also introduces its readers to the remarkable phenomenon of the flash that Emily experiences from time to time. Montgomery writes:
“It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside–but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond–only a glimpse–and heard a note of unearthly music.
This moment came rarely–went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it–never summon it–never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her for days. It never came twice with the same thing. To-night the dark boughs against that far-off sky had given it. It had come with a high, wild note of wind in the night, with a shadow wave over a ripe field, with a greybird lighting on her window-sill in a storm, with the singing of “Holy, holy, holy” in church, with a glimpse of the kitchen fire when she had come home on a dark autumn night, with the spirit-like blue of ice palms on a twilit pane, with a felicitous new word when she was writing down a “description” of something. And always when the flash came to her Emily felt that life was a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty.”
My flashes never lasted days like lucky Emily, but I treasured them just as much as she did. As I grew older, the flashes disappeared – I have no idea why that occurred. In any case, I am grateful that these flashes were a part of my life.
Aside from psychics and flashes, I’ve been intrigued for years by an expert on life after death: Dr. Raymond Moody, author of the bestselling book “Life After Life” and a psychiatrist. He has written many other books about death-related topics. He’s also known as the father of the NDE, or near death experience. His most recent book is “Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife”, a fascinating read whether you believe in the afterlife or not.
I was shocked to learn that this acclaimed author and doctor was placed in a mental hospital by his family for his work with a psychomanteum. Often called “mirror gazing”, a psychomanteum is a mirrored room designed to communicate with the spiritual realm. I don’t recall what the outcome of that family dilemma was, except that Dr. Moody was released from the hospital after a short while. I was very alarmed that he was hospitalized for his beliefs – perhaps there is much more to the story than what he brought up in the interview in which he mentions this personal incident.
Moody wrote about the psychomanteum in his book “Reunions – Visionary Encounters with Loved Ones”, which I read with great interest after my father passed away. I found Moody’s accounts of his clients’ interactions with their departed loved ones utterly compelling. I would have to “see it to believe it”, and if I lived a lot closer to his office in rural Alabama, I would be tempted. However, Dr. Moody does warn prospective clients /readers at length that this process is not to be taken lightly. His professional reputation proves to me that he is not a charlatan. (I’m not sure what the family members who hospitalized him thinks of him today, but that’s another story!) To learn more about this process, check out:
Over the years when I was deeply depressed, I glommed onto books about the afterlife as much as I could. Most of them assured me that even if my depression didn’t improve in my lifetime, after leaving this existence I’d find happiness again. (That sounds a little bit macabre, perhaps, but I took a great deal of comfort in those words.) These days I haven’t felt drawn to the afterlife genre as much, which I feel is a positive sign of my recovery and of my wanting to take part in the here and now. However, since I believe my Dad is in another realm, and I know that I will lose other beloved people, I will always be interested in afterlife studies.