Last weekend I posted my article from the latest Darklore (Amazon US and UK), "Death Before Life After Life", which looked at accounts of near-death experiences from before the phenomena became well-known through Raymond Moody's book Life After Life (you can read the article in its original format as a PDF at the Darklore website). I was therefore very interested to read a new blog post this week from Michael Tymn - who's a fair expert on afterlife-related literature - titled "A Near-Death Experience to Die For". In his posting, Mike looks at an NDE first published in 1917, in Fanny Ruthven Paget's book How I Know that the Dead Are Alive, which I didn't cover in my article.
Paget's account of what happened to her when she 'died' is a very detailed one, and includes many elements that you don't find in the 'vanilla' NDE report. However, it does contain a number of the standards, including the OBE, the guide, meeting loved ones, and the life review. I had some chills though when I read her description of the "city of light", which she said was constructed of a material that had "the transparency of glass of a variegated whiteness, into which colors, harmonizing in the most delicate way, were coming and going, ever changing". Not only did I touch on this aspect of "transparent architecture" in my article (when discussing the NDE of Leonora Piper), but I have previously written about this in detail in my 2004 article "Cities of Transparent Gold".
Curiouser and curiouser....
There's a few fascinating books on afterlife research starting to come out which readers might like to check out. Here's the quick rundown:
- David Fontana, author of the popular overview Is There an Afterlife?, has written a new book discussing descriptions of the 'summerlands' from NDErs and mediums titled Life After Death: The Nature of the Afterlife, which is available from Amazon UK.
- A more personal story of the history of research into the afterlife can be found in Trevor Hamilton's Immortal Longings: F.W.H. Myers and the Victorian Search for Life After Death. Fred Myers is an interesting character, and his story of contact with a 'lost love' through various mediums would make for fascinating reading.
- Lastly, on the near-death experience front, later this month The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences will be released. It's got Dr Bruce Greyson's name attached to it, one of the world's leading authorities on the phenomena, so it should be a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf. I've contacted Dr Greyson asking for more information about it, so if I find out anything new I'll let y'all know.
Interesting to see these books about afterlife research coming out, on the back of recent releases of Deborah Blum's excellent Ghost Hunters, Mary Roach's Spook and Archie Roy's The Eager Dead. I'm actually working on my own book regarding afterlife research at the moment, which I'm hoping to have done before the year is out - so stay tuned for that.
A nice little summary on why the Near Death Experience (NDE) is worthy of scientific research, by Dr Bruce Greyson - probably the world's foremost expert on the phenomenon:
For those that might have missed it, I wrote about how NDEs have been reported through history - as well as discussing some of the strange, common elements found in the experience - in the latest Darklore release. You can read my article as a 'free sample' at the Darklore website.
Previously on TDG:
There are few people as respected in the field of 'paranormal research' than Stephen Braude. A long-time field investigator, and the author of books such as Immortal Remains and The Gold Leaf Lady, Steve is also Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and somehow also manages to find time to be editor of the most excellent Journal of Scientific Exploration as well. Oh, and he also had an article in Volume 2 of Darklore, which you can read on the website as a free sample article ("The Fear of Psi").
So this clip is well worth viewing - it's a 15 minute interview from UMBC's 'In the Loop' program, with Steve discussing various aspects of his 'weird' interest. Not only does it offer some insights into his thinking, but there's also footage inserted in there of the 'Gold Leaf Lady' herself, and the strange phenomena associated with her:
It's all too easy to lose people's character when reading academic essays and scientific investigations, so it's nice to be able to see Professor Stephen Braude discussing paranormal phenomena in a relaxed setting as just a 'regular guy'.
If you found the clip interesting, there is more video of Steve at the Closer to Truth website, discussing the topic "What Would an Immortal Soul Be Like?". It's well-produced, both in video quality and the interview questions (and answers) themselves.
Steve's most recent book The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations is available from Amazon US and UK. You can find an excerpt from the book, regarding his investigation of the 'Gold Leaf Lady', on the University of Chicago Press website.
Previously on TDG:
It is said that one in every five people will, at some stage, experience the terrifying phenomena that accompany 'sleep paralysis'. One of the most authoritative and fascinating books on the topic is David J. Hufford's The Terror That Comes in the Night (Amazon US and UK - preview available at Google Books). Here's a good video of Hufford discussing his research on (and personal experience with) sleep paralysis:
That clip is from a new documentary, Your Worst Nightmare: Supernatural Assault, which looks well worth checking out (and at $9.95 for a DVD, is pretty affordable). Experiencers and experts are interviewed, and advice offered on how to live with these waking nightmares, which in some cases come to dominate the lives of those experiencing them:
Victims wake to find that they are paralyzed and unable to move or speak. Many experience frightening visions of demons, shadows, or an old woman known as "The Hag". For others there is simply the unmistakable presence of evil. In extreme cases, these potentially supernatural attacks can occur for decades. Overwhelmed, exhausted, and entirely alone, victims can lead shattered lives dominated by the fear of social stigma. Those who seek medical advice are often misdiagnosed and labeled psychotic or schizophrenic.
The DVD's website has further video excerpts available for viewing, and also a forum for discussing the phenomenon. Worth noting as well is that Tim Binnall interviewed the guys behind the documentary - Andrew Barnes and Paul Taitt - last month on BoA Audio. At over two hours, it's a good, detailed discussion on all aspects of sleep paralysis and the associated supernatural aspects of the experience.
Any TDG readers suffer from sleep paralysis? Would be good to hear from you, what it is you experience, and how you deal with it.
Popsci.com.au currently features an interview with Stacy Horn, author of the new book Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory (Amazon US and UK). Amazon's blurb for the book reads:
Rain barrels that refill themselves. Psychic horses. Mind-reading Cold War spies. For many, these phenomena are evidence of an unseen world just beyond the grasp of our five senses. For a group of scientists at Duke University, such mysteries demanded further investigation. From 1930 to 1980, under the leadership of Dr. J. B. Rhine, often considered the Einstein of the paranormal, the scientists at the Duke Parapsychology Lab attempted to test the bizarre, the frightening, and the unexplainable against the rigors of science.
In Unbelievable, Stacy Horn reveals the strange, lost history of these first attempts to prove—or disprove—the existence of the paranormal, bringing to light a half-century's worth of ghost stories, poltergeists, and paranormal activity. The Duke scientists were queried by the likes of Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, and Helen Keller; the U.S. Army and blue-chip corporations such as IBM and Zenith seized upon their findings.
Investigating telepathy, clairvoyance, ghosts, poltergeists, and the myriad other strange phenomena that people claim to have experienced, the scientists did find proof that the human mind can exhibit telepathic powers—but their discovery would put them at odds with both the scientific community and the community of believers at large, beginning a multidecade battle among unyielding critics, die-hard believers, and scientists themselves. Yet Horn reveals that between the power of belief and the promise of scientific investigation, there is room for everyone to acknowledge that the truth is out there.
Horn also has a blog devoted to the topics in the book on her website, on which she's posted plenty of interesting material - some really fascinating looks back in history at what was going on at Duke all those decades ago. For instance, the latest entry looks at J.B. Rhine's stance on the 'Jim Crow' laws and the 'Little Rock Nine':
In 1957 Rhine wrote a letter to the editor of Life Magazine in response to pictures they’d recently published of the Little Rock Nine...“The desperate courage of the storming of the Bastille and the riots of Poznan burst spontaneously from the ignition of group emotion. But these children have to walk calmly and coolly out to meet tormenting and humiliating attacks that hurt to the very soul. I cannot recall that there has ever been a more inspiring demonstration of courage by the children of any race, any age … Salute them and I think others will take heart and go over and stand beside them. It may help us to believe this is the home of the brave, perhaps more than it is the land of the free.”
Plenty of other interesting entries, covering topics from ectoplasm and exorcisms, to psi under the influence of drugs. Can't go wrong with that really, can you?
Skeptiko is currently featuring an excellent hour-long podcast interview with Dr Peter Fenwick, one of the leaders in research into the possibility of the conscious survival of death. Skeptiko's Alex Tsakiris asks some great questions, and Dr Fenwick provides plenty of information in a calm and rational manner - covering everything from Near Death Experiences (NDEs) to death-bed phenomena and his own recent book, The Art of Dying (Amazon US and UK). Dr Fenwick is a part of the very exciting AWARE project, which aims to study the brain and consciousness during the dying process.
If you want to discuss (or read discussions about) the topics covered, you can also head to the Skeptiko section of the Mind-Energy Forums. I recommend this podcast interview wholeheartedly - one of the best I've listened to for a long while.
Previously on TDG:
A new poll! 2012 is soooo 2008, so I've archived that poll. Here's something completely different: which area offers the best evidence for an afterlife? Mediums? Near Death Experiences? Reincarnation? It's a fairly long list, so let us know which area you think research should be concentrated on if we're to settle the question of life after death. Or perhaps there is no evidence, and this life is it (there's an option on the poll for that too). I'll be interested to see how this one turns out.
I regularly link to Michael Tymn's blog in the weekly blogscans, as he posts fascinating entries on the topic of the afterlife. Mike's an expert on the history of the field of afterlife research, and he's also contributed articles to our anthology Darklore (both Volumes 1 and 2). So I'm very happy to announce that Mike has now written a book, sharing his thoughts on the most interesting facets of the investigation of the 'spirit world'. It's titled The Articulate Dead, and you can pick up a copy from Amazon US. Here's the blurb from the publisher's website:
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were dynamic and evidential forms of spirit communication. A number of distinguished scientists and scholars studied some of the best mediums and concluded they were genuine. Unfortunately, there were also many charlatans and it was difficult for the general public to distinguish between the real mediums and the frauds. Scientific and religious fundamentalists along with a cynical press, were constantly on the attack, driving the genuine mediums underground or forcing them to abandon their gift.
In The Articulate Dead, Michael E. Tymn examines several of the best mediums of yesteryear and the scientific research surrounding them. A number of very intriguing stories unfold, including spirits directing an archaeologist in the uncovering of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, spirits leading a researcher to crosses buried by American Indians, a deceased author completing his books through a medium, a Titanic victim coming back to tell about his new environment, and an afterlife researcher continuing his work after dying, to name just a few.
I have a copy of the book, and it's certainly chock-full of fascinating evidence. For more information, Michael Prescott has reviewed the book on his blog, and also Alex Tsakiris interviewed Mike on his Skeptiko podcast. Lastly, Mike has written a new blog entry explaining his reasons for writing the book ("Make Dr Death Your Friend in 2009"), which also is worth a read.
Dr Bruce Greyson is one of the world's foremost experts on the Near Death Experience (NDE), having researched and written about the phenomenon for a few decades now. In October last year, he spoke at the IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies) Fall conference in Durham, N.C., and his hour-long presentation was recorded to video. Here it is for those interested:
Alternatively, there's better quality video of Greyson's presentation on YouTube, though it's broken into multiple parts as is YouTube's want - however, this might suit some of you more, and this page should allow you to track all the pieces down easily enough. Information *plus* options - we take good care of y'all here on the Daily Grail!