Monday, December 5, 2016

The death of Michael Newton and the rehabilitation of Melvin Morse

Michael Newton passed away in September; something motivated me to check, which led me to his Wikipedia entry, which led me to the obituary. He wrote several seminal books about the afterlife, compiled from his own method of regressive hypnosis. The use of hypnosis as a diagnostic tool for recovering hidden memories is controversial. I am not informed enough, medically, to have a firm opinion on it, except to argue that if hypnosis is used, it should be used by a licensed medical professional, for obvious legal and ethical reasons. This is where Newton fell into a gray area. Several online critics questioned Newton's credentials. I did a cursory search and couldn't find any proof that he had a "real" PhD, as he claimed, but this is not unusual. I don't know how to find out if anyone has any degree, without contacting the candidate's school--and in Newton's case, I never could find out. The online obits did not identify the schools, except to say that he "graduated from the University of Arizona (1953) and later earned advanced degrees from California colleges."

So, unless someone embarks on a Michael Newton biography, we may never know.

Today I was surprised to receive an email from Dr. Raymond Moody's email list updating everyone on a new collaboration between Dr. Moody and Dr. Melvin Morse, who has recently been released from prison on a "misdemeanor" (though if he has been in prison for more than 364 days, it's likely a felony charge). This of course led me to Wikipedia (my one-stop shop for the current conventional wisdom), which is updated with new info on his recent child endangerment conviction. The current Wikipedia edit seems to suggest that Morse's actions were overblown and not as heinous as early reports suggested (specifically, that he had waterboarded his stepdaughter to induce an NDE).  Again, I'm really not sure that I have an informed opinion on this case. Despite claims that it was all overblown, however, I'm not sure that Americans are being routinely sentenced to prison on trumped-up charges just yet. (This may soon change, however.) For now, anyway, a felony is a felony.

My basic opinion still stands, however... if we are presuming to instruct people on what to believe on spiritual or metaphysical matters, we (and our research) should be beyond approach, even in our current post-fact reality.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Delving into the NDE skeptical perspective

Lately my reading has taken a turn toward NDE research primarily. After circling the subject for several years, I've finally decided that research into near-death experiences provides the "best" hope of bridging the gap between our material consensus reality, and the "paranormal"--those experiences that fall outside the consensus.

So I was surprised to discover that there is a growing body of "skeptical" studies that examine NDEs from a medical/scientific perspective.  These skeptical studies tend to focus on a few well-documented NDE cases and attempt to find psychological or medical analogues that explain the paranormal experiences. The intent seems to be to dispel, disprove, or invalidate "supernatural" explanations.

This approach has some merit. A well-know (and possibly apocryphal) superstition held that sailing past the horizon caused one to fall off the planet. This belief was subjected to rigorous experimentation by a number of mariners, and ultimately was disproved (or so the story goes).  And thus died a popular superstition.

To dispel superstition and unreasoned belief is a noble endeavor and one of the greatest achievements of science. Any budding paranormalist ought not gainsay it. To argue, "Yes, the scientific method is good at determining the laws of genetic inheritance with pea plants, but it won't quite work with Aunt Sally's NDE," will neither invalidate the scientific method, nor "prove" Aunt Sally's NDE.

At the same time, arguing that the numinous effects of an NDE are "probably" the result of brain chemicals may be just as wrong.  The effects may be caused by something that, at our present level, we don't have the tools, or intellect, to comprehend.  Just because something *seems* to be something, does not mean that it really is.

The thinking paranormalist, then, defaults to the argument that, lacking a medical explanation for the NDE, it seems logical to assume that the NDE is what it purports to be: a "supernatural" experience of unknown origin or cause.

Not everything needs to be explained to be understood.  It doesn't bother me that I can't explain, or trace the origin, of an NDE. This fact does not make the NDE not-real for me. Unfortunately, science is not wired that way. Science seeks to deconstruct a phenomenon until it is understood or explained.  As it stands now, I don't think that science has succeeded in achieving this with the NDE. And I'd be more comfortable with the scientific approach if science were simply to admit, "What causes NDEs?  We don't know."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Donald Trump, and the Mexican problem

I don't really like to blog about politics--most minds are made up, and those that aren't, won't be persuaded by anything I have to say--but I do have a small contribution to the subject that (to my knowledge) no one else has mentioned... it's part of a broader area of inquiry that many paranormal researchers (except UFO abduction partisans) overlook: the subject of dreams. Years ago I stumbled upon a small book entitled "The Third Reich of Dreams: The Nightmares of a Nation, 1933-39."  The book is long out-of-print and difficult to find. But it's a fascinating window into the psyches of ordinary Germans as their country fell under totalitarian control. German fascism (as all totalitarian movements) sought not only to control peoples' actions and lives, but also their thoughts, and ultimately, their dreams. But does this same principle work in "ordinary" political situations, in nominal democracies?  Is it possible for politicians to tap into subconscious and subliminal fears and exploit them?

To partially address this question, I submit the following, snippets of dreams that I've recorded and mostly forgot about, until recently. I did a simple search of my dreams beginning in 1991, and nowhere is there any reference to, or discussion of, Mexican nationals, until 2010. And then, suddenly, this appeared:

I went to the parking lot and saw that there was a fancy red '50s car was parked near my truck. I thought that it was driven by my brother or my father but discovered instead that it was owned by some menacing Mexicans.  I left the truck to go back to the building and when I returned a while later I found to my horror that my vehicle (which became a black van) had been stolen by the Mexicans. I raised my keys, however, and floated through the air to where the van had been dumped, which was over some hills in a wooded alcove.  The van was turned over on its hood, and people were crawling out of it.  I said that I would insist that the vehicle be totaled so that I could get full value for it.  (November 14, 2010)

I dreamed that I was returning from a visit to some place.  I visited a sort of enclave that was filled with Mexicans.  It looked a bit shabby, filled with booths selling goods.  I was also looking for my blue camping cooler, which I was obsessed with locating.  It had the blue ice bricks in it.  I asked one of the Mexicans about it, and he showed me a blue cooler, but I recognized it as not being mine.  I was staying at a family's house.  The whole dream had a strange feel to it.  (December 16, 2010)

And then, in 2015:

This morning I had a series of dreams about moving into a house. Some men from that area came to the kitchen door of the house, which opened to the street. One of them was soliciting for a contribution. He said the he and several with him were trying to raise money to travel back to Mexico. I said that I would give him money if he promised to share it with his friends, and he agreed. I gave him five dollars and he promptly said that he would keep it for himself. I chided him for this, but I got the impression that these weren't bad people. I saw a menacing person approach and I got my Magnum and put it nearby. A bit later, I was talking with one of the men and they admitted that they were "dead."  I thought that having a pistol, then, was unnecessary.

At the time that I transcribed the dreams, I thought little of them (I do tend to have strange dreams), but now I wonder: Where did they come from?  I do not consciously harbor any prejudice against Mexican citizens. My personal experience with Mexico has always been positive.  But the stereotype of the "menacing" or shabby Mexican surfaced in my dreams long before it became a political issue. Is this a subliminal image that I somehow picked up from the universally negative coverage of Mexico by the American media?  If so--who has a vested interest in its creation, and exploitation?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dream about Proxima Centauri

I went to sleep last night pondering the "men-in-black" phenomenon, and generally thinking that the overall UFO experience is unlikely to be material craft piloted by biological entities from other planets--for reasons apparent to many students of the same. Basic common sense (and a rudimentary understanding of science) is all you need to have.  Even assuming that biological life is universal--a reasonable assumption--intelligent life would be rare. We have evidence that it's evolved only once in the billion-or-so years on Earth (although I suspect that it's happened more than once), and sapient, biological life would probably have a short life span--a few thousand years--before it self-destructs, or evolves out of the physical plane.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that an intelligent biological species--one that is "intelligent" enough to manipulate the material of the host planet sufficiently to leave the host--has a life span of ten thousand earth years, with maybe one thousand years, max, of space travel, before it evolves out of the physical, or gets blasted by the Romulans. Such a species would require several hundred million earth years, under ideal conditions, to evolve from unicellular life, to a developed, space-faring biological entity, only to flame out (or leave the physical system) at the end.

(These limitations, by the way, is probably why intelligent life did not evolve on Mars--there simply was not enough time for it to do so, during the relatively brief period during which Mars was habitable.)

Now, these are very simplistic assumptions, and they are quite possibly incorrect--we simply do not have any data about the evolution of life on any planet other than Earth--but they are reasonable ones.

So, within (say) a one-thousand-lightyear radius of Earth, let's assume that intelligent life has evolved ten times, somewhere, on a habitable planet.  Or maybe twenty times.  It doesn't really matter.

Let's say that such a species developed a warp drive and could beat the speed of light, so that they could even travel to Earth quickly if "they" wanted to.  There is still one insurmountable barrier, and that barrier is time.... Not distance, as we might assume, but time. Assuming that an evolved biological species has a lifespan of several thousand years, their period of high technological development may have been several million years ago, or one hundred thousand years in the future. Such a species visiting Earth would have encountered either homo erectus preparing for an ice age, or the remnants of a nuclear holocaust or (more likely) a planet made less habitable by a runaway greenhouse effect. They would not encounter "us," "now."

It is still possible for such a species to visit us and harass UFO experiencers with non-disclosure threats, but only if they are proficient at time travel... And they would have to locate us, out of the vast expanse of the universe, not only "here," but "now."

Vast expanses of time as well as distance separate us, now, from any intelligent biological species that may have evolved elsewhere.  The casual ET hypothesis believer has a mental picture of hundreds, maybe thousands, of intelligent biological species, all existing "now" and all visiting Earth, in our time, in our space, to conduct experiments that superficially resemble our scientific method. While it's possible, it's not likely.  Any beings visiting us "now" are likely doing so in a form that is incomprehensible to us, and are only appearing as physical simply because we have no other way (yet) of perceiving them. They have evolved beyond our limited physical form.

Again, all of the above is based on very primitive assumptions based on a rudimentary understanding of physical science, and are probably "wrong"--but they are not unreasonable.  They are more reasonable than the assumptions of those who argue that UFOs are physical craft built by biological entities, somewhat like us, from nearby planets.

These are my beliefs and assumptions, and I am constantly turning them over and examining them as I read the various (and intriguing) accounts of UFO experiencers, of which I am one.

So it was very strange this morning to have an elaborate, vivid dream informing me that there exists an intelligent physical species on a planet around Proxima Centauri--not Alpha Centauri, but the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, 4.2 lightyears away. With a warp drive, they could get here in a month. The dream flies not only in the face of everything I assume, but also of what I know.... We all know that the two primary alien races visiting Earth are the water-based evolved beings from the Pleiades, and the evil grays from Zeta Reticuli--NOT Proxima Centauri.

So, I await further contact, and will revise my assumptions accordingly.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wrapping up Richard Dolan's book and starting two others

I have been reading Richard Dolan's "The Coverup Exposed" on my lunch hour (on those occasions when I get a lunch break), and I've been able to enjoy it by keeping a couple of thoughts in mind... First, Dolan seems to lean toward the extra-terrestrial hypothesis. I'm not sure that I do, but that's okay.  Neither one of us knows for sure. Still, I have to filter his analysis through a different lens. Whereas Dolan sees physical-seeming craft engaging in all sorts of tricksterish behavior with an implicit goal of monitoring or engaging our technological state, visible to anyone who stumbles upon them, I see apparitions of craft appearing to specific individuals; or, more possibly, specific (select) people who are somehow able to peek behind our physical curtain, and see things outside our consensus physical reality that most usually can't.  Second, some of the cases that are cited as authoritative have problems, and I've gotten into the habit of checking them out to see if they have been "debunked."  (A handful apparently have been.)  But I don't fault Dolan. He has created a monumental study of hundreds of cases, but they were compiled BG (before Google).  Since I haven't done the research myself or written my own UFO book, I can't gainsay anything of Dolan's.

So I'm now on to Timothy Green Beckley's "Mystery Of The Men In Black" and "Humanoid Encounters" by Albert Rosales. I actually think that the MIB phenomenon is more interesting than the UFOs it purports to represent, but I haven't found many serious studies on it. Cross-discipline paranormalists spend much energy wondering if MIB and various humanoid sightings are "connected" somehow to UFOs, and what it all might "mean"--but I wonder why, if it's a physical phenomenon, it's not more universally observable.  It seems like it should be, if, in fact, it is physical.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Kindle is a terrible thing to waste: books being read, various and sundry

It's that time again where I prattle on about books that I start (and often finish) in what can be generally called the paranormal or related vein.  I haven't had many original thoughts lately, so this will be a sort of space-filler.

Before commencing, I searched online to see if Jeff Ritzmann has a podcast. I don't think that he does. Since podcasts are very labor-intensive (and generally not profitable), I can't blame him for not having one, even if the "paranormal" is much diminished without it. But in a world where the host of a very well-known podcast has taken to begging for money to meet his most basic living expenses, what hope does an ordinary sincere and talented truth seeker have?  I say this to preface the fact that I'm finally reading Richard Dolan's "The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991 (UFOs and the National Security State Book 2)," which I downloaded a million years ago when I was actively following the UFO field. And I'm enjoying it. The historical period under examination is one where I had my own UFO "experiences."  I remember many of the cases he discusses from the time--that being the era when UFOs were still mentioned without ridicule in the mainstream.  Dolan has taken a historical approach to the matter, which is certainly one way of doing it... Though if you wonder, like I do, whether the UFO enigma *might* be part of a longer, larger sociological process, then looking at the events from a narrowly historical vantage point might cause you to miss something. But I can't fault Dolan for his approach. Someone has to do it, and as far as I know, no one else has. When I read UFO sighting accounts now, however, I'm struck by how vaguely two-dimensional the phenomenon appears to me. They do not strike me as "real"--almost like these lights and seemingly-material craft are a display of some sort. Generally, they show up, put on an aerial light show for a few minutes, then vanish. In most cases, even the military doesn't bother chasing them. Buried in Dolan's accounts, however, are several extremely strange and fascinating incidents that suggest that there is more than "just" a coverup going on; and that whatever *is* going on is related somehow to totalitarian thought-strain that is slowly infiltrating the world. I'm careful how I phrase this, since I well know much certain right-wing extremist thinkers enjoy the subject of UFOs more than they should. (Indeed, it's the main reason that I *don't* enjoy it much anymore.)  Almost doest Dolan persuade me to be a conspiracist. But not quite. Not sure what I think about this, yet. But Dolan is making me think.

Next up is a book that I purchased last night, but it's turning out not to be what I had hoped: "Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr," by Michael Cocks. It's a channeled book, but I researched it a bit before I got it, and I let myself be persuaded by the five-star reviews on Amazon.  I had really hoped, against hope, that it really was Stephen the Martyr from the First Century coming through, and that he might teach me something I hadn't read in the dozens or so other channeled books along this vein. But, I'm convinced, it's not.  To wit:

The acting is the understanding of where we are, to appreciate the moment. The disappointments always come from the actions we feel that we might wish to take. All of these things are not possible and it is just as impossible for this earth to change place with another planet. In the course of our destinies we tend with the use of our physical minds to create a path which differs from what we are to follow and will follow. It would be easier to step off this earth than to change one moment of what our lives will be.

In other words, "Stephen" argues that the events of our lives are predestined; we cannot change them. I actually re-read this several times to make sure that this is what is being argued. I personally reject the doctrine of predestination (and would, if I had the time or inclination, hope to persuade my readers to reject it also).  Actually, it appears that predestination might be historically appropriate for "Stephen," since the Essenes might have believed it, but that doesn't make it correct. In 2000 years, Stephen (if it really *is* Stephen the Martyr) has not evolved beyond his initial belief system. And that was not what I was expecting to read.

So, what might be happening here?

The provenance of channeled material is paramount, in my opinion. We should not automatically embrace a channeled text just because it purports to come from the "beyond," and we should maintain a healthy skepticism when a historical figure is claimed to be the source. (Seth, to his credit, never claimed to be anyone other than Seth, though several channelers have claimed to be "Seth" since Jane Roberts' death.)

It's possible that this really is Stephen the Martyr speaking, but that he's still stuck, philosophically, in the first century. If so, does he have anything to teach us now?  Maybe, maybe not.

It's more possible that the source is someone, or something, else, and the material might be a series of teachings from "somewhere."  I actually believe that a lot of channeled material exists, in completed form, somewhere--as a book, or series of teachings or ideas--and the channeler translates the material for a contemporary audience. This would explain how large volumes of detailed information are channeled seemingly out of thin air.

However--as a general rule--channeled material (including a lot of contactee literature) is not philosophically complex, enlightening, or revelatory. It's still often interesting, and it might actually be useful and beneficial... But it is not what it purports to be. And for me, this is a deal-breaker.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Ingo Swann now on Kindle

I just noticed that several of Ingo Swann's books are now available on the Amazon Kindle platform for a reasonable price. This is notable because all have been out of print for some time.  I managed to download some bootleg PDF scans a while back, but paper copies of "Penetration"--his most intriguing book--were selling for over $100.  The Kindle version is at my impulse-buy threshold of $.99.

Remote-viewing ET is regarded as fringe even within the fringey UFO field, but I think it's a more valid pursuit than, say, using regression hypnosis to recover various UFO "memories."

I haven't read "Penetration" in a while, but I'm inclined to think now that it's *probably* mostly fiction, for several reasons--a main one being that Swann argues that the moon has an atmosphere, which is demonstrably false. But I suspect that he weaved in some elements from his personal experience. Swann probably remote-viewed several "alien" targets at various times and come back with some anomalous data, so I've just never been able to completely dismiss the book as entirely fiction.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Minor gods

I ran across an interesting Seth remark in Book 7 of "The Early Sessions" regarding "minor gods."  Seth indicates that these gods were actual psychological entities connected to our "identity."  Rather than being mythological stories or imaginary beings (or even psychological projections or archetypes), these "gods" are described as "real":

There are also portions connected with your identity, however, within other systems, and these are more advanced than your own psychological self. Again, I am speaking in your terms.  These can be compared in this context, you see, to minor gods, and your mythologies are full of these. They are also obviously in contact with All That Is. 
Some of these have been within your system, in your terms of continuity, and are now beyond it. They also represent your personal connection with All That Is. At times these personalities do aid their own and give instructions.

Seth mentions this in the context of an unusually cogent discussion of where "we" (as physically-focused consciousnesses) fit in the universal scheme; Seth reiterates a point that he makes throughout the books--that our individual human consciousness is a small part of a greater personality gestalt... That parts of us exists on many levels in many different realities.

I think that this point is validated in many (if not most) NDE accounts--the experiencer is suddenly overwhelmed by a realization that we are tangibly connected to beings that are "greater" than our human consciousness realizes. These beings--"angels," "guides," "helpers"--seem able to probe our innermost thoughts and know us better than we know ourselves.

I've always believed that ancient man was not so stupid as to worship beings that weren't "real."  Seth suggests an intercessory function for these beings: they are our personal connection to "All That Is" (God); they also provide aid "to their own."  Obviously, multiple generations of prehistoric humans would not waste all this worship on something that did not work, at least occasionally.

So does it still work?  Probably so. I have a hunch that many of the Marian visions--which are well documented--might fall into this category. And maybe--perhaps--some of the space "visitors" might be minor gods in contemporary garb. Obviously I'm oversimplifying the phenomenon.  There's probably an infinite variety of beings, consciousnesses, and personalities that interact with us in our physical world, and we should keep an open mind to stories of their interventions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A note regarding "earthbound spirits"

Dr. Assante devotes a chapter in "The Last Frontier" to refuting the notion of "earthbound spirits".  The "earthbound spirits" idea supposes that upon death, survival personalities of "lower" development cling to an astral level near the physical plane and are unable to escape... And they linger there for a while, confused, lost, and occasionally causing trouble with physical people. Dr. Assante does not agree with this idea. The notion that some discarnate personalities become trapped and "earthbound" violates the principle of a "safe universe," according to her, and belies the "powerfully transformative effects of death."

She's not the only researcher who has argued this... But it's a contemporary concept that I intuitively disagree with. For one thing, it's not falsifiable--it's impossible to prove the nonexistence of a thing. And we can't take an instant poll of the recently deceased to ascertain where exactly they are at--even if their "at" bears any relationship to the physical universe. It sounds trivial, but it's not. The "where" of where we ultimately go is unknown, and unknowable, because--by most accounts-- the "afterworld" can't be physically mapped; there is no place that we can point to in the physical universe and say, "That's where the afterworld is."  When survival personalities are asked--"Where are you?"--they're unable to say. The closest human analogy that I can think of is the dream universe. We've all visited vivid physical landscapes in dreams, but whenever we try to drag a part of this world into the physical as a token of our visit (I've tried), it vanishes when we wake up.

Even in the physical world, concepts of location and distance can only be approximately described, because every object exists only in relation to other objects--it does not absolutely exist at a set point in the universe. When you remove yourself from the three-dimensional consensus universe, with its relative reference points, you lose even that--you have *no* reference points.

Still, we instinctively try to frame the afterlife with physical reference points that hypothesize different "levels" that exist "closer" to the physical world, such as an "astral plane," or further away, where God "is."  (And, for all I know, this may be the best approximation we can make.)

Despite all this--I still think that there's evidence for a "lower" astral level that--for lack of any other way to explain it--is not too "far" away, and that quite a few discarnate personalities linger there.

For one, there are simply too many accounts of a dark, vast "gray" level that the newly dead pass through on their way out of our physical system. The prolific OOBEr Robert Monroe talks about this level in some detail. Ancient historical accounts--probably derived from ancient OOBE and NDE stories--uniformly mention a purgatory-type level that traps the unwitting and unworthy. This level pops up in a number of contemporary NDE stories.

Secondarily, the whole cottage industry of "soul retrieval" and rescue--which some people claim to practice on a nightly basis--is predicated on the assumption that some souls can become "lost" immediately after death. Indeed, the Christian concepts of sin, salvation, and of becoming "saved" versus being "lost," may describe something that is literally true... When you "sin," you cut yourself off from God, and you might become "lost" after death in some lower astral level.

All this, of course, is a vast oversimplification and probable distortion of a process that we can't yet comprehend. Mankind has grappled with these concepts and codified them in religious beliefs through the millennia, without much success.  It's not likely that we--using a metaphysical vocabulary that's hundreds of years old--will do much better.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Was not able to finish "The Afterlife Of Billy Fingers"

I probably should explain why. To read *any* book regarding mediumship requires, for me, a deliberate suspension of disbelief--because a part of me wants to believe that it's true, and I know that many books on this subject aren't. I've learned to be skeptical.

I was curious about "The Afterlife Of Billy Fingers" after the author recently appeared on a well-know paranormal podcast; I think that the host said that he sensed Billy "buzzing around the room" during the interview. So I was intrigued.

As always, I first sought out any critical information that I could find about the book.  I found a few critical reviews online, and the arguments made boil down to two major observations: The author discloses too little of her personal life experience to establish a sense of validation and credibility to the reader; and the process that the author uses to speak to "Billy" seems too perfect.  (Another critic noted that the evolved and philosophical afterlife "Billy" did not seem to be the same person as the real-life troubled Billy, a life-long substance addict who created turmoil among those around him.)

To me, the process that the author used to communicate with Billy is the most problematic part of the account. The author presents to the reader a series of lengthy, coherent, and philosophical paragraphs that she states were audible dictated to her by Billy. These were not the usual mentally impressed thoughts and images that are commonly experienced by mediums, but actual audible sounds.

I'm not arguing that this did not actually happen--it may have--but if it did, it's highly significant. Practically all audible traces left by the "dead" are short and succinct. And they are usually recorded, to establish the legitimacy of the communication. These audible traces are highly variable and seem to require a great deal of energy from "the other side" to manifest. Sometimes voices are physically heard but not picked up by the recorder; other times, they are recorded but not heard.  This suggests to me that it's not a trivial matter for the "dead" to communicate verbally, nor is it guaranteed to work.

(Not to mention--many examples of "recorded" voices, such as the Spiricom, have been credibly debunked.)

Okay. So maybe Billy created the *illusion* of an auditory voice but was actually using mental telepathy. That's possible. But again--the communications are verbally sophisticated, lengthy, and coherent. This is unusual. Even mediums with years of experience seem to struggle to produce a few paragraphs, and these communications contain "translation" errors, as information is passed through several channels and then mentally reconstructed into human language.

So I wasn't able to make the leap on this story. I wished that I could. Billy seems to be quite a character--someone I'd like to know (and I've known a few "Billys" in this life).  So if I'm missing something essential, feel free to point it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Currently reading...

"The Last Frontier" by Julia Assante. I think it's a good book, particularly as an introduction to the topic. Although she does not emphasize it, I detect a distinct Seth influence upon her philosophy--which can be good or bad. (As much as I am always quoting Seth, I don't necessarily agree with "him" on several things.) The book is divided into logical examinations ("The Evidence For Survival," "The Social Construction Of The Afterlife," etc.).  Some parts can be skimmed--particularly if you've read a lot of Jane Roberts. There's a very good summary of the development of the religious notions of the afterlife among the major religions through the millennia.  It all caused me to wonder, "What are gods, and who is God?"  In my opinion, the correct answer to the later is, "No living person knows with certainty, or can say with authority."  The answer to the first question is knowable, and discoverable and, I think, important.

Unfortunately, the fact that Dr. Assante has to even discuss the subject of religion in a book on the afterlife is because we as a society relegate the entire topic to that of religion and belief.  Our beliefs in, and notions of, the afterlife are largely wrapped up in our notions of divinity--along with ideas of moral worthiness ("if I'm a bad person, I won't go to heaven").  Dr. Assante tries to decouple this association, for good reasons--many of our beliefs on the "afterlife" are simply not accurate, just as our notions of "God" are probably inaccurate (or flat-out wrong, as is the case with some).  And these erroneous religious beliefs contaminate our ideas of the afterlife--not only now, but in the hereafter.

Which brings me to something that Dr. Assante has observed, which, to my knowledge, no one else has addressed:  Primarily, accounts by survival personalities (via mediums) never talk about the wondrous being of light that is common in NDEs. Also, there is no past-life flashback review described in these communications.  (These descriptions are also absent from hypnotic past-life regressions.)  I've wondered about this for years, even to the point of causing me to doubt the authenticity of much of mediumship material.  Over time, I've developed my own theories of why this might be, but Dr. Assante has some interesting ideas on this.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ring out the old, ring in the new

I have had some unaccustomed free time, so I've been reading quite a bit. I'm re-reading a book that I bought in 2012: "Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11," one of the more evidentiary books on the subject (though some reviewers at are less than impressed).  I'm not sure if I blogged about the book (I think so, but 2012 is a bit of a blur, and I almost never go back and read my old posts), but the one aspect of the "premonitions" part of the experience is that most of the victims "knew" that a significant event was to occur about three months before September 11. Back when I was beginning my dream research, I noticed the same pattern: Most of my precognitive dreams were three months prior to the event. Anyhoo, the author quotes Tennyson, which I thought was neat.

On an unrelated subject, I still somehow keep getting regular emails from a well-known paranormal forum that I registered with back in the days that I was listening to that stuff. The related podcast used to be good (albeit a bit dry) until it ditched its mercurial but entertaining co-host, and subsequently went more mainstream and became subsumed with commercials. The show's focus was primarily UFOs, but occasionally it touched (skeptically) on other subjects. I thought it was much better than "Coast To Coast" (although it's possible to find some defenders of George Noory out there). My current perspective on the paranormal can best be compared to that of one of this show's best guests, when he was alive: Jim Moseley. I see the cultural obsession with UFOs (which waxes and wanes) as a sort of barometer of mass consciousness; it is an entertaining sociological sideshow to the phenomenon itself. I still enjoy occasionally going to the various forums and reading about alien structures on Mars and whatnot. (And I'm sure that they will eventually be found.). In my opinion, however, it is very easy to go off the deep end with the paranormal and become dangerously obsessed with dark side topics, such as "shadow civilizations," Nazi infiltration of American institutions, alien-human breeding programs, and the like. My quibble with "Coast" (and other shows) is that it seems to traffic in that sort of pot-stirring, which, IMHO, is dangerous. The aforementioned podcast (now show) never seemed to do that. But I still have one major problem with this show: its primary host has a pathological habit of begging his forum and email subscribers for money. Regularly. To live on. I find this offensive, and so do many others. Each time I get a forum update, it's there. And people are actually giving him money.  So I'm constantly reminded of it.

I know why, from a financial standpoint, this is happening. The paranormal (particularly the UFO field) is nowhere near as profitable as it once was, when UFO contactees (and later, abductees) stalked the world. Even the "Coast" audience has shrunken to a few thousand. "Fate" magazine surprises me by still continuing to be published, and I doubt that they make any more money than it costs to print the semi-regular edition. All this is due to significant upheavals in information dissemination, and a mass-cultural shift away from the subject. (Though two of my posts concerning the Psychic Twins continue to get hundreds of views, to my puzzlement.)  So you really can't do a paranormal show and expect to make an honest (notice, I said "honest") living at it. And filling your website with a bunch of Prepper ads will only do so much. In this context, begging subscribers personally for money may seem the logical thing to do, but it will never be right.