that is the perfect antidote to all the crap I've been trying to read lately. It was published in 1914, and written, exactly, one hundred years ago. It's in the public domain, and thanks to the industry of Google (who embarked on a mammoth task of scanning and digitizing old, obscure books back in the mid-aughts), it's free to download from Google Books. It's called "Letters From A Living Dead Man," purportedly channeled by a minor author of the time, Elsa Barker. I can't find out much about Ms. Barker, but there's a good Wikipedia article on her, and, interestingly enough, the Wikipedians don't bother to debunk her story. (As always, when I run across "channeled," "received," or otherwise unofficially obtained information, I seek out the debunkers--to see if they can successfully deconstruct the story.)
This book impresses me on a number of levels. First, the writing and philosophy is surprisingly contemporary (allowing for the fact that I'm a bit of an old fogey). It lucidly and succinctly sets forth a number of clear metaphysical ideas, and it does a better job of it than all the New Age drivel that you have to pay good money for nowadays to assaulted by. It answers a couple of questions that have been raised (but not answered) by contemporary New Age tomes... Specifically, something that I've noticed in both "Seth Speaks" and "The Key": that certain souls are "pulled" unconsciously from the non-physical world, back to the physical, to be reborn. (I had always assumed that reincarnation was a deliberate, carefully planned choice. Apparently, it's not, in many cases, and this book explains why.) There are specific warnings against invoking spirits, and the real dangers involved. There is a wealth of detail about how the non-physical world interacts with the physical, all very interesting, and much (but not all) of it consistent with everything I've read from authoritative modern sources.
As Theosophy and Spiritualism fell out of favor in the Modern and Post-Modern era (not to mention the excellent debunking work by prominent skeptics like Harry Houdini), much of this psychical research has been forgotten. I think that the "channelers" of the past few years are simply picking up where the Edwardian thinkers left off... But in many respects, they are retracing the same ground, and not doing as thorough a job of it as the Edwardians did.
The question is, is modern "channeling" (when it's valid) a continuation of the same investigation into real phenomena, or is it simply a revival of pseudo-scientific and discredited Nineteenth Century ideas? I lean toward the former, but I am open to being proven wrong.