I wrote this back in 2016 for the Skeptiko website. It’s a theme that has come up regularly in subsequent years, so its time to repost it. I may have changed a few ideas since, but none to the extent that a rewrite is necessary.


We live in a spirit filled reality in which there is continual two-way communication between the ‘I’ of our physically known self and other selves whose nature is metaphysical. Now and then that communication crystalizes into an intentional discourse. But we do not know this because it is not an accepted part of our cultural discourse, which is dominated by materialism. As a consequence, instances of communication with spirit are treated with suspicion, are mishandled and misinterpreted. What should be an integral and valued part of our intellectual understanding of our reality is instead riddled with error and confusion. Opportunities are lost and needless perils are encountered.

Part 1 – An unexpected introduction to an inner plane teacher

Sometimes, unintentionally it seems, we do something that sends a signal – and spirit comes looking for us.

The meeting

In the late 1970s my girlfriend [I’ll call her Carol] and I performed our first magical ritual in her lounge room. Our guide was a friend, already experienced. It was one of those very makeshift affairs. We were adorned with bed sheets because we lacked ritual garments and going sky clad [naked] wasn’t offered. We weren’t believers, but curious and open-minded: happy to suck it and see. The ritual went well enough in that we got through it without any dramas. After the friend left Carol and I sat on her bed reviewing the experience. We were sitting on her bed after a very strange occurrence. I was sitting in the lounger while Carol went off to the bathroom. After a time, I heard a loud crack and I instantly thought that Carol had fallen against the dining table. I rushed to her aid, but she was nowhere to be found. She called out from her bedroom. She had no idea how she had gotten there. Neither had I. Last thing she knew was that she was standing at the door to the dining room, and in an instant was on her bed, about 8 metres away.

As we talked Carol started to moved, as if to keel over and I reached out to stop her from falling. And then things got seriously weird. If you have ever been out on a day of intensely hot sun [no humidity and 100+F or 40+C] and felt the pressure of its radiation you will understand – only this wasn’t hot for me, just the pressure as an atmosphere that enveloped the bed. I struggled to stay focused on what was going on. I observed Carol swaying and waving her right arm in the air as if writing something. On an impulse I grabbed a notebook and put a pen in her had. Fortunately, the paper was the old foolscap size, larger than A4. I watched as she scrawled, in a barely controlled manner, efforts at words. Initially what was scrawled was incomprehensible, but, as I flipped, the writing became clearer – but still barely controlled and crude. While this was going on Carol seemed to be in a kind of trance.

When I could make sense of Carol’s efforts to write I could see that some kind of entity was attempting to introduce itself. The scrawled writing said “I am [name]. I am Carol’s teacher.” I haven’t given the guy’s name for good reason. There is a chance that some clown reading this will decide to try to contact him and get into all kinds of trouble. This why I haven’t given a fake name either. [Why it’s not a good idea to try to contact this or other entities is not a good idea is subject I can’t go into just yet.]

I don’t know how long this all went on for but after a time she started to attempt to speak. What was said was strained and over-emphasized and unclear, but then, progressively that attempted introduction was also verbal. When it was all done, we were both exhausted and slept. In the morning the trouble began. We were both rational and sceptical people confronted with an outrageous and unprecedented encounter with what? Carol’s unhinged psyche? A real entity? We did not know and while I, the observer, was filled with passionate curiosity, Carol, the experiencer, was filled with alarm and dread.

We both dimly comprehended that contact with entities and agencies was said to be possible, but neither of us had inquired into that area. We had no need to, and besides, it all sounded a bit flaky. I had long been an experiencer of seriously weird stuff, but nothing like this. It turned out that Carol also been experiencing weird things, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that she had an interest in esoteric stuff, and that was what drew us together. But I was supposed to be the person who was having the weird things happening. Now suddenly the table had flipped, and I was the witness, the interrogator and the recorder – and the researcher.

This event spurred us into action. We had been casually talking about joining a group to get some more formal training in ritual magic –something we both took an instant liking to. Fairly quickly we found a quirky little group who had its own inner plane teacher and got some helpful advice on how to handle things. We were advised to ask the entity for a Qabalistic number. A lower-level entity would not know Qabala and would not be able to provide a valid number. I didn’t know Qabala either, at that stage, and so had no appreciation of the importance of a number. The head of the group did know Qabala and was able to confirm the number given had meaning, and, when combined with the name given, gave us an assurance that we were in touch with a entity of some sophistication. Qabala is a system of Jewish mysticism that was adopted and adapted by Western esotericists who incorporated into their magical philosophy. Hebrew letters have assigned numerical values, and from this numbers could be allocated letter combinations to be interpreted. It’s not a method about which I have any knowledge, or confidence.

I was ejected from the group for dissent, and Carol quit in sympathy. We then came across an international occult order, which is still going strong after all these years. It also had its own inner plane teacher who spoke through a woman involved the group’s leadership.

I witnessed instances of communications in both groups, with both teachers. One included deeply insightful observations about my strengths and weaknesses, which I recorded verbatim. They are still pertinent after more than 35 years. The other delivered the same kind of energetic atmosphere and mind fogging influence I had experienced with Carol’s initial contact. In this instance the mind fogging was so strong when I had set up my tape recorder [with permission] I neglected to switch it on, despite possessing what I thought was a clear memory of doing so. I had recorded over 30 sessions with Carol, and I knew what I was doing. Sometimes the atmospherics around a session can be really intense and just staying focused can be a struggle. The session occurred before a large group, and I have forgotten what was said. Carol told me that her contact with the inner plane teacher was discussed, described, and confirmed. She also said there was a comment made to the effect that I was “rude”. To be honest, that was probably a pretty fair comment back then.

Over the ensuing few years Carol struggled with the fear that she was making it all up. We continued to experiment with the phenomenon. We agreed to act as if it were real and we had regular sessions in which she allowed the entity to speak through her and I engaged him in conversation, recorded our sessions and transcribed some of it. In the meantime, I researched channelled communications intensely.

Making sense of it all

From my perspective, as the witness with way less skin in the game than Carol the experiencer, her doubts, and how we went about exploring them, added a compelling dimension to my own inquiry. In essence I wanted to know how I could tell whether what appeared to be a communication coming from some entity or agency was real and of value. From the outset I had more confidence that here was a real entity than Carol had. But a persistent sense of doubt drove me on. I had years of strange experiences that were explained or interpreted by other people, usually in ways that left me deeply suspicious of their ideas and their motives. I didn’t know enough to be sure here. More inquiry was necessary.

I gave that inquiry a lot of energy for about 3 years, and then it remained an active interest for almost a decade. Now it is an ongoing forensic interest. Now and then I pull out the few transcripts I have preserved, and my old diaries, to mull over what happened, and what was said. I still doubt, in a sense, as I read back over those awfully naïve questions and look again at the response to see if there is any new insight to be gained. It is an interesting exercise to review old records and reflect on whether there is more to learn from them – there always is.

Every now and then, over the past few decades, I will focus on some source of ‘communicated’ ideas in depth. I listened over 40 hours of taped channelling by one woman just to ensure that I had a decent picture of the patterns of claims and ideas that came out of her mouth. Language and discourse analyses are essential. The frauds and fakers have their limitations. Content analysis is the crucial thing. Remarkably a lot of channelling is content free. Beneath the bluster and hyperbole and the admonitions there is no actual content – no singular insight, no penetrating critique, no new idea.

The content must fit a pattern. Ancient ideas, newly expressed, still harmonize with the ancient sources. Genuinely novel [to me at least] ideas do not jar or clash with the background traditions. They tend to be evolutions and not revolutions, even if the mode of expression seems to be revolutionary. Enduring wisdoms are expressed in new language, using new insights. For example, a spiritual truth from long ago can be affirmed and expressed in the language of contemporary psychology. I have yet to encounter an instance of contemporary psychology contradicting ancient wisdom

The ideas and language of contemporary science, philosophy and critical thought make it possible for new truths to be communicated, or old wisdom articulated to greater depth and sophistication. But often this means that what is expressed can seem to be awkward and implausible. It can be certainly hard to read and comprehend with confidence and clarity.

Reliance on outmoded language and old ideas tends to indicate either the channeler’s own fabrication of a spirit or low-level spirits engaging in deception. In fact, I can’t think of a single justification for that kind of claimed communication being valid. Enduring wisdom should be expressed in contemporary idiom and thought, not employing archaic language, references, or settings.

Part 2 – Fitting the idea of spirit communication into an intellectual context

It is important that we recover an intellectual framework that accommodates spirit and communication with it in all its forms – this is animism – at least an evolving understanding of it.

Our forgotten legacy

Communication between non-physical and physical beings is not remarkable. There is a continuum that starts at the quiet hints we get to do this, or read that, and goes all the way up to what amounts to formal communications of an educative or even leading nature given by an entity with an acknowledged title and status. But this is only the good stuff. Outside that there are liars, manipulators, maddies, and the downright nasty and evil.

Communion with the other side is as old as human history. The spirits of the dead have been friends and guides and dangerous nuisances to the living for as far back as we can know. Settling down the departed and keeping them causing grief has been a long-time human practice. These days we mock ‘ancestor worship’ because we take it to be some kind of superstitious silliness – even the name degrades the serious intent and fundamental importance of managing relations with the dead. Our senses and minds are dulled to this vital maintenance of relationships, so we disdain it.

Other spirits have interacted with humans, whether from the natural realm associated with the material world or higher agencies like angels or gods. In short the interaction between humans in the physical realms and a variety of agencies in the metaphysical realm has been an integral part of the human experience for a far back as we can find evidence.

Our Western culture doesn’t handle such a notion very well at all because Christianity stamped out acceptance of contact with any spirits not approved of, and mediated by, its agents. That is a sensible thing to do if you are setting up a monopoly faith. The faith denied the liberty of the deceased to contact the living, because permitting such communion would disrupt the authority of priests. Who could tolerate some dead guy contradicting words of the official agents of the dominant religion? When my father passed, Carol convulsed with laughter at his funeral as she watched as he tried in vain to interrupt the minister’s speech, saying “No, no Neville, it’s not like that!”

Both my parents stayed around after their physical deaths to say the farewells they did not get to say before, and to affirm their continuance. I spent time my mother in her garden hours after the funeral – to which she did not come – as observed by one of my sisters. It was an awful Pentecostal affair because that was my stepfather’s faith. The rest of us were lapsed or pagan. My mother came back on the first anniversary of her death, which was the eve of my birthday. That was a powerful thing. My father visited me a week after his passing, along with his wife who had passed a month before. They ‘dropped in’ to say they were together and fine.

There is a long tradition of guides and teachers interacting with humanity, with various consequences. Our ancestors were animists – they saw reality as the result of the interplay spirit rather than the mechanisms of stuff in motion. Being so, reality was comprised of agencies with whom one had relationships. Different levels of sensitivity and competence marked some people as better suited to being agents of communication with different classes of spirit. But all people had, in a sense, a duty to be sensitive to the essential background of spirit, as well as to specific ones related to them. This, to me, is the proper root of religion.

I have been an animist since some time in 2003. That’s when I discovered the word and realised that it articulated an understanding of life experiences that had been plaguing me since I was a child. If animism is a true and useful notion, then the essential insights and precepts of animism should be discernible universally. If we accept that all humans possess the same essential psychological and spiritual architecture, differing only in specific content, we can see that we are innately animistic. The myth that animism was the domain only of the primitive excused ‘civilized’ people’s loss of sensitivity. The distortion of religious and intellectual dogmas culminated in the absurd conceit that reason alone as the supreme manifestation of humanity at its best. No wonder materialists are aghast at the uses to which we turn our finest computerized technology – making movies like Avatar, the Harry Potter franchise and the many other magical and fantastic tales that delight children and adults alike. There is no rational counterpart to Halloween, no festival in which children dress up in Einstein or Galileo costumes and go door to door. Sports teams are not named for scientists or philosophers, but animals and forces of nature. Culture and civilization may be important to us, but our souls sing to a deeper note.

Animism is the very opposite of mechanism – the logic of materialism. If animism is real then it not only permeates our religion, it must also permeate our culture, contradicting the precepts of materialism. If animism is real, it must be consistent, pervasive, rational, comprehensible, and secular. We cannot have a model of reality that has limited application. It is a case of all or nothing – one thing or the other. Consciousness, which is utterly unlike mechanism, is considered by materialists to be a by-product of mechanical processes. There is a fundamental discontinuity between the two. Consciousness is fundamental to animism. It is the root and essence. The animistic model embraces consciousness as the root condition – not an accident and not a by-product. Put simply, animism and materialism are mutually exclusive as valid ways of knowing. It is important that the reader understands this, and where my set my intellectual ground.

Framing a disciplined approach to spirit communication

Aside from what is an essentially political passion for animism I have an equally political passion for secularism – not as a religion free zone – but the meeting ground where we humans share our understanding in language that has no insider terms or ideas. The secular is hard work. It makes us think beyond our conceits of belief and faith to offer our comprehension of truths in a way others can comprehend as deeply as possible. The secular should be scientific – in the spirit of the methodology rather than in the guise for the dogma of scientism. I don’t believe in Science, only in sciences as methodologies – and scientists. To call data or knowledge Science is deceptive or hubris-ridden laziness. This is an important distinction because we are all capable of being scientific – at least in spirit and aspirationally – as we strive to develop our own relationships with ideas. Here I understand science to be a disciplined and systematic inquiry through observation and experimentation, and something we can and should all aspire to in our own efforts to make sense of the reality we inhabit. Specific fields of inquiry, such as physics or chemistry, have evolved sophisticated methods and accumulated agreed knowledge which are bundled together and called specific sciences.

Thinking about communion with spirits, or Spirit, is best done inside an intellectual framework that allows for it. Hence, for me, animism is an essential way of thinking. It is a long way from being a mature way of knowing in our culture yet. The idea that there’s peril in belief and safety in non-belief is confused and misguided. The peril lies in uncritical belief, and, in fact, in uncritical non-belief. By uncritical belief I mean an unwillingness to allow that what one believes might be in error. To allow that to be a possibility one needs a courageous capacity for self-reflective awareness that is prepared to destroy the conceits and delusion we craft for ourselves.

That is a perilous place to go to, because when we begin to strip ourselves of conceits and delusions, we expose ourselves to the unknown potentials of human knowing. Too much faith in, or denial of, spirits expresses an extreme sentiment that has not come to terms with the simple reality that spirits are all around us, and we have been interacting with them since the inception of being human. There is nothing remarkable about the fact of spirit, and that is something we need to come to terms with.

This is a strange thing for a contemporary [usually urban] member of a western culture. We live in a spirit filled reality. That’s the evidence of the overwhelming majority of humans from as far back as we can hear their voices. You cannot inhabit a materialist cosmology and accept spirits, and you cannot live in an animistic cosmology and deny them. And yet most of us try to live in both and dance between the two as it suits us. We pick and mix materialism and animism as it serves us because our culture is a fusion of both – but one is rational [sensed with the mind alone] and the other sentimental [sensed with mind, instincts, emotions, and body] One is the hope of humanity and the other its scourge – but we don’t know which is which.

We allow this illusion of contradictions because we know both are true, but we are confused by the politics. Even our high technology gives us a global capacity for drone strikes and 3D movies about magic. Geopolitics meets consumer marketing revealing its animistic heart. There is no either/or about science and religion. There is, and there can only be, both/and. Overwhelmingly that is the evidence of most of the community – only saying so is hard because confusion still reigns. There is an idiot rump at either extreme of the poles of unreasonableness, but unfortunately idiot rumps are highly organized, motivated, and cashed up. They will perpetuate the illusion of conflict to their last cent and/or breath.

There is no need to be conflicted about the is/is not of spirits and human communion with them. Should you be concerned about the spirits and the nature of their communication with us? You will not be surprised that this is neither a simple or easy question to answer. What you need is a willingness to inquire, and a courageous spirit.

Part 3 – Dangerous guides and dangerous expectations

Communication with spirits is not without risks – any more than interacting with other humans is – some are dangerous. So, we need to know how to behave properly.

The allure of hungry ghosts

Joe Fisher exemplifies that courageous spirit. In the foreword to Fisher’s most compelling book, The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts [2001] (originally published as Hungry Ghosts in 1990), Colin Wilson says he immediately saw this book was a classic. It is. It’s a riveting read. Fisher details how he and others became deeply enmeshed in relationships with non-physical humans, who singularly objected to being called spirits. They were humans, but without physical bodies. They were guides. That was not a good sign to begin with. But the attraction of such a close relationship was made very plain as Fisher described his own evolving relationship with Filipa, a past lover with a persistent strong connection with him.

Fisher contacts the first medium, called Aviva, as a researcher writing a book on spirits. This is important, because he goes into a situation in a state very different to the others who are already members of a group interacting with their guides through Aviva. He says:

When the opportunity arose to meet my spiritual guide I was hardly a novice in metaphysical matters. I had interviewed many leading practitioners of occult science and had written copiously about prophecy and reincarnation. Moreover, I had worked for years as an investigative reporter and was practiced at distinguishing truth from falsehood. 

Despite this armory of intellectual and experiential weapons he describes his state of mind thus: I must confess to a certain insensibility – an entranced fascination – that left me unprepared for the Odyssey which unfolds in the course of this book. In fact Fisher had published books: one on prediction [1980] and two on reincarnation [1984 and 1988], with the Dali Lama writing the preface for one of them. Here is no novice, and yet he is drawn into a web of deception and manipulation. He describes his past experience and skills as about as useful as a swim-suit on the moon.

 I read The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts knowing it would end badly because I had the opportunity to read the end of the book first. Ordinarily I would not do such a thing, but without reading the end first I would not have known the book existed. That meant I could have read it with a certain smugness, imaging I’d not be such a fool. The danger signs were clear even to Fisher from the outset, and yet he fell into peril.

He noted, early on, telling contradictions. The guides professed a philosophy of non-interference, yet developed close and manipulative relationships with their physical subjects. For the members of the group the allure of that intimacy clouded more sensible evaluations of their interaction. Fisher, decently educated in matters spiritual and esoteric, also reacted against the guides’ characterization of people into souls [emotional beings] and entities [rational beings]. It was an unfamiliar system of classification. Innovation is a suspect thing among truths reckoned to be enduring. Why here and nowhere else?

The reader can witness Fisher’s capture by the guide Filipa, and we can sympathize. She seems like a fantasy lover, perfectly attuned to Fisher’s vulnerabilities. She was impossibly near perfect, lacking only the physicality needed to make the ideal a reality. Or so you’d think. Sadly, such ideals have no life outside the imagination or the spirit world, but we can become entranced by them nonetheless. Most of us have fallen for our fantasy of a lover to some extent. Having that fantasy shattered is always painful, and sometimes catastrophic. In the end Fisher walks away from Filipa, but even so he is not certain she is wholly unreal, just a pretense.

Fisher is achingly honest when he admits that; Like many other spiritual aspirants who accept non-physical existence, I longed for personal contact with a disembodied source of love, wisdom and intelligence. But let’s put that into perspective. The same thing happens to spiritual aspirants dealing with physical promises of love, wisdom and intelligence. If we are honest most of us have been suckered one way or another by some relationship.

Alarms – and when not to hit snooze

Fisher knew and ignored two warning signs. The development of intimate influence and manipulative relationships, and the expression of an innovation that served no purpose beyond defining classes of people in a way that allowed manipulation to occur. Crude binaries are a dime a dozen, usually following the lines of; “There are two kinds of people in the world – [insert the A and B or your choice].” Fisher is well read in spiritual and esoteric literature, and here was a novel classification. A novice, without his depth of knowledge, might be forgiven for thinking it sounds okay. But Fisher’s mind is fogged by Filipa’s allure. He suspends critical judgment – for if he rejects the innovation, he must also reject those who support it.

As limited as my esoteric training was, I was aware of the perils of deceptive spirits, and the steps we needed to take to defend against them. When you learn magic, if you are taught well, at some stage you get seriously scared and become aware of your vulnerability. That’s one thing that can be said for even rudimentary initial training. Every situation involving spirits [humans or not] is potentially dangerous.

I grew up sensitive to spirit presence, but I had no idea what it was about because such a thing was not part of my family’s Protestant outlook. As a child I had nightmares and other strange experiences when the lights went out. I feared the dark, I think because I instantly employed other senses to compensate for the loss of vision, and there was always something, someone, there. I can now look back on my early years and understand that it was full of interaction with spirit, and not all of that interaction was with benevolent agents. Back then I at least knew that some sensed presences were malign and others benevolent. I grew up in Tasmania and I often took myself off into the bush alone, from age 11 or 12. I struggled with impression of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ places to go or stay, but I always felt safe. As I grew older, I was influenced by rational awareness: geology [which I studied from age 12], maps and aerial photographs when I went into wilderness, but I was always finally guided by intuition. If I sensed malevolence or inhospitality I did not stick around. Long before I learned methods of defence I learned to run away. Running away is an essential survival strategy.

The interesting thing about reading Fisher now is that I have a profound sense of empathy for him. I would have been vulnerable to Filipa’s charms to some degree. Would I have succumbed the way he did? I hope not. The point here is that what Fisher recounts is what ultimately becomes a misadventure. He exposed himself to a field of risk not out of any flaw the rest of us can claim to be immune to or insulated from. His was not a failure of reason or virtue. It could be argued that he was more soul than entity, more emotion than reason, despite the fact that his guides declared him an entity, and hence fit for their instruction and guidance. Souls, by this scheme, are not suited to the privilege of having an intimate personal guide. But that system of distinction is invalid, so he was just being human. By his own admission he sought personal contact that was a source of love. We might do that in the privacy of our own imaginings and longing fantasies without too much peril but opening up that kind of vulnerability to the spirit world is profoundly perilous.

Response to mediums, or channellers, requires a combination of factors, usually the absence or ineffectuality of inhibitors. Disbelief, disinterest, religious aversion, and scepticism blend with lack of opportunity, or motive to seek opportunity, to eliminate most people. But this is hardly a good thing, because it closes out the real as much as the fake. This conservative and risk averse state of being shut down to spirit can sound like rational virtue, else why perform it? But it is not. It is not quite the polar opposite of the quick-to-believe kind, who believe, despite the bucket loads of rational evidence that such belief is not well-founded.

A desire for success and certainty will ward off any sense of risk. The quick-to-believe will court delusions that by-pass risk by ignoring it. Fisher is a strange mixture of risk taking guided by a strong intellectual passion matched by a vulnerable sensitivity to the emotional allure of a romantically manipulative guide.

Truth and lies and verification

When Fisher goes in search of truth, he is stung by two realities. There is no consistency between mediums about the details of his guide. And when he goes to confirm the historic details guides provide there is a mixture of partial truths and lies that does not make any sense.

When Carol and I were exploring her contact with an inner plane teacher I asked whether what Carol was doing was mediumship, and was assured it was not. To demonstrate the difference we were invited to try mediumship as a methodology and quickly made contact with an amiable American who cheerfully gave us details of his life, and death. He gave us an address in a city whose name I have long forgotten, but we checked it out and the street did not exist in that city. He could not be tracked down with the aid of the American embassy. We had been warned that spirits contacted via mediumship were unreliable, and this was swift confirmation. We didn’t bother beyond that.

The astute reader will ask how we knew our inner plane teacher was on the level. And that’s a fair question. Because we had recently joined a group training in ritual magic we were advised to demand a number. The premise was that this should mean, but at that stage we didn’t know enough to test that for ourselves. Those who knew better said the number was good. From an certain perspective requiring skill with Qabala that may have been a sufficient test.

Early on Carol’s teacher was clear that his purpose was not to tell us stuff but help us to learn how to learn. I did ask him questions and got answers that were brief and very much to the point. He was content to refuse to answer some questions on grounds the answer would make no sense to me. There was never any hint of flattery or going soft on me when I asked stupid things, which, I have to confess was rather more frequent than I’d like to admit. If he intended to create dependence and adulation, he did a poor job of it. I have looked back, over the years, on my diary notes and transcripts of sessions and have discerned a character who kept his distance and maintained what I’d call a professional relationship. In fact, I felt more like a kid going up before a headmaster.

I have had contact with three inner plane teachers, and this characterization is consistent. They are not guides. They are not involved in our personal lives. What they communicate is often terse and oblique, so that we have to struggle to comprehend. That is, they will often make a statement that triggers intense interest and not elaborate on it. Just enough to get you thinking, and never enough to deliver the conclusion or answer. There is no chance to form an emotional dependence on what they say.

Standards and principles remain the same

Of course, not all spirits or non-physical entities perform this role. Some deliver quite detailed ideas that are intended to transform the way an audience thinks about things. But there’s a distinction between the bona fide teachers and the manipulators and deceivers. The teachers establish and maintain a relationship that never becomes personal, never reaches or strays into areas that would these days constitute a ‘conflict of interest’. I am fortunate in that I work in an environment rich in well-developed notions of good behaviour, formalized in codes of conduct and legal duties under various acts of parliament. That boundary between professional and problematic conduct is generally pretty crisp. The nature of my job is such that awareness of duty and obligation tends to be a daily concern – not only in terms my own conduct but in relation to many others.

Despite the protestations of the entities who speak through the mediums Fisher encounters, they are amateurs who would be considered to routinely breech an imagined code of conduct by forming inappropriate relationships with the people they say they are guiding.

In contemporary terms, there is a power imbalance between us and the invisible agents. They can know things about us that we are not aware of. They have us at a disadvantage. They can say things we cannot assess for truth through any evidentiary process available to us, other than gut feeling, and that can be derailed easily enough. Fisher encountered guides who made statements about a person’s past lives that cannot be verified, and which are of no actual use, other than to impress and manipulate. They also provide seemingly accurate statements about an individual and provide direct advice in a way that demonstrates power and fosters dependency. Fisher observed that some were masters of psychological manipulation. These guides knew the buzzwords that create the illusion they are supporting independence and free choice, while actually doing the opposite.

It may be that these spirits or entities are sincere in their desire to help, but they lack the intelligence and skills to do so. We demand that our psychotherapists, counsellors, social workers and the like are trained and accredited for good reason. Well-intentioned efforts at guiding others often end up in unintended grief, conflicts of interest and even criminal acts of fraud and abuse. Without specific training many do not see how well-intentioned efforts to help can be abusive and corrupt. In fact, a lot of corrupt conduct is fogged by sincere self-justification that makes it not only okay, but a good thing. It is not uncommon to come across an abuser who is absolutely certain they are acting in the best interests of another party. A combination of self-serving delusion and poor mental health can explain the conduct to all but the perpetrator.

There isn’t one standard for this physical world and another for the metaphysical world. If it isn’t okay in the material realm, then it isn’t okay beyond it. There are fundamental power differentials and communication challenges between the two realms, but not ethical or moral ones. In fact, those power and communication disparities place a great moral burden on the non-material agents. There is no assurance that the moral duty will be fulfilled by the simple intoning of prayers. Prayers have no innate power. They are incantations that must be backed by force of will and focused intent. Several of the mediums Fisher encountered commenced their sessions with fine sounding prayers to assure good conduct. No chance!

The illusion of status and privilege

Fisher several times makes the point that participants in mediumship sessions he attended felt themselves to be privileged to be communing with the other side. That’s understandable. It is easy to feel that. But it’s also a point of vulnerability because it articulates the power imbalance and allows corrupt celebrity the opportunity to exploit it. My three encounters with inner plane teachers had that same sense of privilege. In two instances there were limited opportunities that made them rare and special events, so that sense of privilege was appropriate. In the third, as the person conducting the conversation with the teacher, the sense of privilege was balanced a daunting sense of comparative idiocy. There was no opportunity to bask in any self-deluded glow of being special when your comparative inequality was patently evident. These were sobering experiences, humbling more than uplifting. Now I don’t want to create the impression that anything abusive was going on here. Where Fisher’s guides insisted that they were merely humans without bodies and nobody particularly special the inner plane teacher made it abundantly clear that there was a gulf of difference between he and me. He was not a guide. He was a teacher. I was an undergraduate and he was a professor.

There is another fundamental difference between the guides and the inner plane teachers. Fisher was eager to commune with Filipa, and others shared his eagerness to connect with guides with whom they had formed close bonds – strong emotional connections that were promoted and fostered by the guides. My experience of inner plane teachers is quite the opposite. They were relatively remote emotionally, and very hard to grasp as a personality. The closest I can come to describing this is a bit like how I would imagine having a chat with the Dali Lama or the Pope. You are never going to connect on a personal level, as peers, because you are not, on an actual or symbolic level. Humans of equal dignity; yes. But in terms of knowledge, status and power there is no equality. On the other hand the guides Fisher describes are essentially just humans without bodies talking to humans with bodies and using the power differential not having a body gives them to establish their status as guides.

In essence, if these guides were still enfleshed they’d have no status and no credibility as guides at all. Being ‘dead’ is their gimmick really. You might encounter such a guide in the flesh one day, and even think him interesting, and maybe worth listening to. You’d not likely make a weekly commitment to visit an untrained and uneducated life guide under normal circumstances – unless they were dead. Dead makes a difference because talking to the dead is remarkable and special. But that does not make the dead person you are talking to remarkable or special, and that’s the nub of the problem.

Among the dead, as among the living there are those who possess large attributes of personality, intellect, and personal power. And they can be potent and seductive representatives from the other side until they are exposed as the frauds they really are. They see an opportunity for a con and go for it, and sometimes they get lucky and pull off a spectacular trick for a time. There are a lot of dead criminals, hucksters, shysters, liars, deceivers who do not change when they die, and for whom the opportunity to continue to practice their craft would be seized with alacrity.

Inner plane teachers are a different class. For starters they need to know a lot of stuff – metaphysical, esoteric, magic, religious and so on. Their audience does too, so to be credible they must demonstrate more knowledge and deeper insight. This is not usually a field that attracts a lot of fraudsters and conmen. I am not saying there are none. The instances of naughty yogi make it clear that you can run a dodgy business in spiritual enlightenment in the material plane, so there’s no real impediment to keeping up the misconduct afterwards.

Ah! But how do we know these inner plane teachers are not demons with a lot of knowledge, or claiming to have such? There are probably some that are. There is a principle in esoteric lore that you get tested on your vulnerabilities. In a community the risk is spread and ameliorated. Alone the risk is condensed. Any spirit, any agency, may be evil. The Satan of Christianity is the apex of evil, but in fact he is a tester of virtue rather than a doer of evil. But powerful deceivers do exist. The angels the Elizabethan mages Dee and Kelly engaged with seemed to me to be deceivers. The simple fact is that we should never abdicate responsibility for judgment and go on trust and faith alone.

There is essentially nothing different in essential character between a presently incarnate teacher and one no longer in the flesh. Whatever attributes you esteem highly in a teacher of high standing in the physical life will apply to those on the other side, but with one caveat. It is a technical one. Mostly we connect with our esteemed teachers in a fairly comfortable physical situation, and maybe the relationship is friendly but still formal. An inner plane teacher projects from a remote place into a physical human agent and speaks through them. There are difficulties involved that make any interaction less than relaxed. In any case this isn’t have a chat time. Inner plane teachers don’t do small talk, in my experience. It is a strain on them to maintain the focus on their agent of communication. It was explained to me in a way that conveyed a sense of having to enter an unsavoury environment, and this was difficult, as well as unpleasant. As a country person I imagine this as having to meet somebody in downtown Sydney. I will do it because it is necessary, and I can, but I will not enjoy it and I will feel battered and drained afterwards [my apologies to inner city readers, but that’s how it is].

Types of communication

I will not insist that inner plane teachers are the perfect ones. I cannot claim this. They all work through humans I know to be flawed – and they are humans themselves too. But communication is via a method called mediation in which the agent of communication consciously stands aside to allow their vocal mechanism to be taken over by the projecting agency. There is no trance. The take-over involves more than just the vocal chords, so we get gestures as well, and facial expressions. The agent of communication is fully aware of what transpires, unlike with mediumship. Frank DeMarco’s Intuitively Linked Communication [ILC] is something else. The distinction between the various forms of communication via a physical human is important because the differences are not just pedantry. Those who communicate via mediumship cannot be upgraded to mediation or ILC.

In essence the chief distinction seems to be that in one instance [mediumship] the human host is in a trance and unaware of what transpires and in the other [mediation] not in a trance and fully aware of what happens. This aware/not aware boundary does seem to mark the difference between two risk states – the skilled and unskilled or the amateur and professional. There are skilled and professional crooks and conmen, so there is no assured safety based on appearances. However, it does seem that mediation requires a more skilled and deft touch that rules out the guides who are drawn to mediums.

Fisher was given a pretty decent set of guidelines by a person who either did not know he was on a con or who figured he was good enough to handle any challenges. This was from a guide:

You must proceed into this field of work—if you intend to proceed with it—with a deliberate amount of scepticism, a large amount of knowledge and a vast amount of accurate questions that will indeed single out reality from that which is basic belief, mysticism, falsehood. Do not accept at face value. Question! All the time, question! And if questions are not answered satisfactorily, question and question again.”

Of course, that’s okay to say that, if you retain control over the conversation, and you assume you have wherewithal to handle objections and questions. Fisher’s guides don’t do this well at all. The bubble of illusion burst precisely because Fisher obeyed this injunction, but then he was always going to do so. The frailty of the guide’s fantasy was that it did not accommodate Fisher’s ultimate objective tenacity. Fraudsters do not build anticipation of their denouement into their operational plan.

Many words, nothing said, and then a lie

It is important to appreciate that spiritual fraudsters are routinely discovered. Channelers who initially attract interest in their claims that they are a conduit for wisdom from Alpha Centauri, or whatever, do loose adherents. From my experience their communications are ranting admonitions that are either content free or pointless unprovable assertions. It is a kindness to say that these delusions spring from well-intentioned efforts performed by less than entirely sound emotional states. There are vulnerable people who will remain enthralled even so.

I am not, as you may have gathered, a fan of new age channelling. I have examined a lot of it, applying a ‘discourse analysis’ approach. This is essentially looking at what is actually said – what is the actual content? A lot of words are uttered, but most of it is intellectual white noise designed to render the listener stupefied, and susceptible to suggestion, to sentiment rather than actual ideas. I listened to 40 hours of Elizabeth Claire Prophet’s recordings, vainly seeking any actual content. Her voice was so hypnotic I ran off the road just south of Grevillia on the way to Kyogle. I was listening to tapes as I drove, entered a stupor, and I ran off on a flat bit just before a right-hand turn, and stopped before I slipped over an embankment. I was lucky. I had spirits paying attention, I think.

No instance of channelling I have investigated has proven to exhibit attributes that merit deeper inquiry. A channeler of the Archangel Michael slipped into ye olde English, unaware of actual accepted pronunciation. And he invented a novel interpretation of colours that made no sense and served no purpose. A devotee of the Ascension Movement had Jesus talk emotive drivel for ages – all admonitions and complaints like some whining impotent commentator on world events. I have tried to forget the misery of reading delusional nonsense about folk from the Pleiades who seemed to perpetuate the habit of complaint and admonishment without actually having anything useful to say. There’s no insight offered, nothing to think on, just complaint and assertions that cannot be verified or ‘information’ that has no use.

We can all let ourselves go and write emotive outburst in the mistaken anticipation it reflects wisdom and insight. But most of us have the good sense not to seek to publish it. The awful thing about reading this nonsense is getting to the end and realising that absolutely nothing of any consequence has been communicated. Yes, the Pleiadeans are in a lather about what we are/are not doing as we should be – and are not. It doesn’t take ET to tell us what we should know, but perhaps we might listen to ET, and pay attention.

As Fisher confessed very early on, he wanted love, wisdom, and intelligence. Don’t we all? We seek it many ways – through our studies and our entertainments, and in our relationships. We are looking for meaning and justice as well. And we seek as we are able, according to our character and circumstances. Relying on spirits to deliver is, however, a bad idea.

At the end of the 2001 edition of the book Fisher included a long letter from a woman who had read an earlier edition. She was a practicing medium and was now devastatingly disillusioned. It is a profound lament and warning. We should trust no agency that seeks to speak through us. This is further than Fisher dares to go. He sees the perils of New Age channelling along with its precursor form of mediumship, but he holds out hope that the higher teachers are worthy of our respect, and our trust. His late contributor would not agree. Fisher’s friend, Alexander Blair-Ewart had seen enough mediums in his forty years to be thoroughly sceptical of all channelled voices and maintained that a genuine guide or teacher would never commandeer a physical body in order to make personal contact. “Truly spiritually aware entities,” he said, “have better things to do than hang around incarnate beings who are not impeccable in their spiritual development.” Alexander also said; Anything is suspect that disarms, or attempts to disarm, the individualized consciousness. A passive relationship with the spirit world is old-age, not New-Age.

Neither mediation nor ILC involves commandeering the physical body, and neither is passive engagement.

These are strong claims, backed by strong emotions; but they are opinions shaped by experiences and beliefs. The assertion that none are to be trusted is safe, and if followed nothing can go wrong. The alternative is to dare believe there is a chance some may be okay, and to dare to test out that proposition. The spirit of scientific inquiry is not furthered by the assumption that no investigation will yield useful results. Fisher included opinions that did not align with his own in fairness and balance. I will leave the last word to the author himself, before he gets to his Epilogue with those other opinions:

I have never given up believing that there are wise and benevolent spiritual intelligences who are watching over us. I am simply less naive than before and more aware than ever that the search for truth and greater awareness is fraught with tests and temptations. As the Odyssey continues, I can only reflect that the learning has been invaluable and…… Whoever is really looking after me out there, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Joe Fisher died in 2001. He jumped off a cliff. In one of his last communications, Fisher is said to have observed that spirits were still pursuing him for having written his last book.

Part 4 – Intuitively Linked Communication

There are opportunities to gain new insights and knowledge through interaction with spirit – if we take the right approach.

My introduction to Frank DeMarco

Some years ago I came across the writings of Stewart Edward White who was a popular novelist and writer on spiritualism from 1901 to 1947. The Betty Book (1939) provided thoughts from across the veil delivered by his deceased wife (Betty) via the wife of a family friend. The second book, The Unobstructed Universe(1940), expanded on ideas delivered by denizens of the other side, referred to as ‘the invisibles’. Both books are a comparatively hard read these days. The content can be difficult to grasp as the invisibles strive to render ideas that make perfect sense in a realm with neither time nor space in our realm of time and space. The thinking is hard to translate, but White does a good job of it. White’s 70-year-old style now requires effort too. But it is effort that will be rewarding to any serious inquirer.

I heard Frank DeMarco interviewed on the Mysterious Universe podcast in April 2016 promoting his most recent book, Rita’s World. Rita is/was a friend and colleague who passed over and was now talking back over the divide between this and the other dimension of our being, with Frank as the reporter. That sounded familiar and interesting to me, so I hoovered the book in no time, promising myself to go back for a rerun. The Sphere and the Hologram is an earlier book that involved sessions in which Frank was the intermediary and Rita the interviewer/reporter. The source was a group of entities Frank and Rita refer to as the Guys/Gentlemen Upstairs (TGU).

Frank also writes novels, so very quickly the connection between him and White struck me. I am not suggesting there is a direct link, but the similarities were enough to make me pay attention very quickly. I was particularly struck by the fact that the invisibles and TGU seemed to have a similar mission – to convey ideas that make easy sense in their domain to ours, where they have to be translated into ideas that we are not familiar with. Both struggle to convey their thought. We are so accustomed to thinking time and space [what Frank calls 3D] as well with as classes of ideas that naturally flow from a mentality steeped in 3D reality. We don’t yet have the language to convey what TGU convey easily. There is nothing astonishing here. The common idiom of 1966 will not serve to describe the reality of 2016 – and time is the only variable here. White and DeMarco seem to share a common purpose with their immaterial allies – to stimulate new ways of thinking.

Now I am not a reflexive believer [not all such content has merit], but I know when I have content that demands I pay attention and honour the challenge to think things through. TGU are challenging. If I go back to ‘sceptical’ objections that would assert TGU are figments of DeMarco’s fevered imagination I have to say Frank would have to have engaged in pure genius level research to fabricate these conversations. I have over 40 years inquiry into spiritual and philosophical themes, and that’s at least 35 years after my first encounter with Carol’s own Guy Upstairs. What I have encountered is coherent and consistent with decades of research and inquiry. If Frank had fabricated the content of his books, he would still have to be one of the best spiritual philosophers of our age to come up with the content in such a coherent manner. I couldn’t invent this stuff to this degree of complexity, coherence, sophistication, and fluency. I do not believe Frank did either.

In any case I remind myself that the most spiritually and psychologically insightful writers of our culture is Shakespeare, who wrote fiction and yet embodied profound truths in that fiction. Has Frank written fiction? If he has, I tip my hat to him. The intellectual and philosophical integrity of his works transcends most of what is available today. Rationally the odds that this stuff is the real deal are very good. But the manner of obtaining the ideas, and the source? This is confronting. It will be a deal breaker for many. The curious and the courageous may be rewarded – but maybe not. If you persevere you may still conclude it a waste of time.

What value are messages from the dead?

I am not building Frank up because I think his case is weak and needs my support, but because I think it is powerful to those who grasp the risk of confronting what he has to say, and I want the reader to be one of those folks. Is it reasonable that a person has such easy and fluid contact with those who are not in physical form? Our habituated cultural conditioning may say it is not. But what does it know?

Rational and reasoned inquiry, when the evidence is properly assessed, allows spirit may be real. That’s enough. That must rearrange the rational model of the real. Jeff Long’s God and the Afterlife pushes the standard scientific method to go beyond not just the idea that temporarily dis-embodied humans can converse with not only other disembodied humans, but to allow a sense of agency that is way beyond being human – at least as we understand the term. NDE research places before us the fact of persistence of life after death and how the dead and the NDEr can communicate. To the extent that the standard materialistic scientific community has enquired into living –dead communication it has tended to conclude this is a form of hallucination, fabricated by a compassionate brain. Otherwise, it’s just an invention of a mind that has slipped its moorings.

On the first anniversary of my mother’s death, elegantly on the eve of my birthday, she visited me and told me something that transformed my life. On that evening I was intent on writing, but she intruded and captivated my attention. Her birthday gift to me was an insight, by way of explanation, into something that had plagued my life since childhood. It evaporated in an instant on the revelation. I was dogged most of my life by an impinging sense of wrongness about me. It was a background sense that never went away. On this evening my mother reminded me that my father used to try to manage my less than obedient nature with the threat that “God will be angry” with me. So even when I was standing up for myself rightly this mantra began to haunt me. It became a contamination that poisoned my sense of self, and it did great harm to me. And then, suddenly, on that summer evening before my 48th birthday, I felt liberated, and redeemed. That evening I wrote story called ‘The Boy and the Angry God’ as memories flooded in. There was no invention here. No fabrication. I was not fretting over my mother’s passing. The symmetry of her dying the day before she gave birth to me seemed compellingly elegant, and I paused to acknowledge that with a sense of gratitude that now my anniversary had become a kind of ouroboros. That liberating thought transformed me because I believed it was true and real. The how and why hardly seems to matter – and this will become important.

Wrestling with DeMarco

I have been reading books purporting to be communications from the other side for years. Frank DeMarco’s work stands out to me as being particularly stimulating, interesting, challenging. Unlike the authors of the other books, Frank remains, as yet, present in material form. He kindly assented to respond to questions [Part 5]. I have not met Frank in the flesh. I contacted him by email, and he responded in the same way. Our medium of exchange is electronic, immaterial, and it linked two physically remote locations. I mention this obvious matter to make a not so obvious point. I assume that email is an interchange between two physical locations and that it is near instant connection across a spatial distance no physical medium could traverse in the same time. This is a technological analogue to telepathy. We don’t have a problem with this. Near immaterial communication across space is no longer radical.

TGU say that our sense of relative isolation as individuals inhabiting the physical world leads to an illusion that what ends up in our heads is stuff we think up for ourselves. They claim there is a constant stream of communication going both ways. It can develop into a conscious and intentional relationship, but mostly we experience it as dreams, intuitions, and internal dialogues. Not only are we not alone down here, we are in continual communication with deeper levels of who we are and those we relate to.

Now that is an interesting idea, but what evidence is there for it being so? You have to examine your own lived experience to answer that for yourselves. If you think it is not true then you contract the spectrum of probabilities that it is, because you desensitize yourself to subtle signs it is true. You can take the position of standing back and demanding that ‘they’ prove their presence and influence to you. They won’t – and you can take evidence of absence as absence of evidence at your own risk. In the scheme of things, it’s about us opening up to opportunity and possibility, rather than us being passively spoon fed by agencies fretting to be known. We need to know this. Those on the other side sense a duty to participate in a relationship that we do not yet value, let alone understand. But they are not so anxious that they are eager to do what it takes to make us believe. The onus of belief remains with us – and all the risks that entails. They will shock us into considering possibilities, but not force the issue.

The alternative is that you can play with the possibility of something valid and valued happening. But this ‘play’ is a vehicle for developing sensitivity and awareness. It’s not pretend play. You have to commit to the ‘as if’ – acting as if it is real and true. Dare to believe! This is not a suggestion that you abdicate critical awareness. Far from it. You can’t play games or act to the highest standard unless you commit to the truth and reality of the game or role at the time. It’s the spirit of scientific experimentation. At a later stage you stand back from your experience and review it honestly, courageously.

I have read 3 of Frank’s books, in the wrong order [as I am putting this together I downloaded a 4th -Rita’s World 2] I wanted to give him every chance to communicate notions about how it works between him and TGU. Try this from near the end of The Cosmic Internet:

In the final analysis, we believe a thing because it resonates with something within us – or we don’t because it doesn’t. In psychic matters, get used to acting and believing provisionally, trusting your best judgment but remembering that you may be wrong. Just because you’re dealing with the other side doesn’t mean that you can safely assume that you (or they) are infallible.


Don’t fall into Psychic’s Disease, thinking that if you feel it strongly, it must be true, and don’t fall into the opposite error of thinking that if you don’t have a logical explanation, what you’re feeling or what you perceived must be false.


Input may come in many forms: images, ideas, words, lyrics, association, memory. Or you may just get a knowing, or a hunch. Sometimes you get just cloudy, vague impressions, and maybe none of it immediately makes sense. But while you’re reporting, remember three don’ts: Don’t judge. Don’t guess. Don’t use logic. This process isn’t like collecting data. It’s closer to empathy. In the initial stage, that of perception, thinking is not only useless, but detrimental. Analysis is totally the wrong track. Only empathy destroys the illusion of separation, the illusion of distance between us

Let it flow. Get it down. And then analyse. Frank is talking about experimentation. Our minds are so contaminated with notions of faith and belief we struggle to engage with ‘the other side’ in a sensible scientific manner. By that I mean engaging in sober rational examination, rather than becoming seduced by the ludicrous proposition that we are innately disposed to delude ourselves or clambering delusions born of profound existential dread drive us to self-deception because we cannot handle the ‘truth’ of the awful void of non-existence that awaits us.

This is of fundamental importance to us. Anxiety about two-way communication across the veil is a fusion of Christian Protestant spiritual reductionism, and its natural outgrowth, materialism. The reality is a chaos of interchange over which neither religious authority nor formal intellect and reason have any control. Here is the risk of moral and intellectual anarchy that no controlling power can or should tolerate. The supreme manifestation of Western intellectualism in the latter part of the 19th century simply declared the sensitivities of animistic awareness were the delusions of the primitive expression of human consciousness – riddled with error and ignorance. Personal experience is invalidated, sacrificed on the altar of intellectual conformity because, thereby comes benefit and profit. The authentic is thrown to the ravening wolves of dogma whose master is intellectual conformity to dominant beliefs and spiritual abdication of self-awareness.

We can call the dimensions of reality beyond the physical many names to reflect the knowledge, ignorance, romance or fear we attribute to them. To the materialist there is a silent void. All knowing arises from within, and the human is the author of all. It is a lonely hubris that provokes desperate and fantastic invention against a simple reality. But in reality we commune and communicate horizontally in our material reality and also vertically in our multidimensional reality. Our human experience is the intersection of the two – a unique and creative mingling.

The history of civilization is the history of the curtailing of liberty in both vectors, crystallizing consciousness into formal structures, perhaps leading to an intensification of experience, but also generating moral, intellectual and spiritual challenges that did not otherwise exist. In an evolutionary context this could be a good thing because it drives us to will and realise a deeper level of consciousness.

TGU talk about the ‘thinning of the veil’. It is an idea that has been around since the late 19th century, but little remarked upon these days. I was surprised to encounter the idea in this context, but it was immediately familiar and meaningful to me. It is an analogical expression of a necessary zone of discontinuity between this and other dimensions of reality. Dreams, for example, can be absurd representations of what is otherwise experienced on a deeper level as perfectly lucid and rational. The application of esoteric discipline and learning can turn those representations into symbols, converting the absurd into a language that can be interpreted. Some claim to be able to interpret dreams but absurd images arising from particularly personal experiences and contexts cannot be reliably translated into decipherable depictions. We have to learn a language – or become conscious on the other side of the discontinuity.

But because we are conscious on both ‘sides of the veil’ we do know at some level the truth of the dream. The ‘thinning of the veil’ means that the zone of discontinuity and distortion is less intense, and the business of becoming lucidly aware of deeper knowledge and communication is easier. It also means we are more exposed to peril, but that’s another matter entirely.

Part 5 – An encounter with a collective

How do we accept what comes to us? We struggle to make sense and fret over meaning and implication until we are moved to think differently or walk away. 

An Interview with Frank DeMarco

Here is the text of email interview with Frank after I had read all of Rita’s World and most of The Sphere and the Hologram. What follows are my questions and Frank’s responses in full, followed by a some questions Alex Tsakiris posed.

MP: Communication between those in the physical and those in what I call the metaphysical is popularly called channelling or mediumship. The more sophisticated styles I know as mediation and you as Intuitively Linked Communication [ILC]. The basic art is practiced by people of varying degrees of competence, and they may or may not be aided by non-material agents of degrees of integrity and competence. That is to say sometimes it is all their own work. We will use your term ILC for legitimate, rather delusional, communication. Do you want to add any observation?

FD: Shakespeare says that a rose by any other name will still smell as sweet, but names do make a difference. The reason we use ILC is twofold: First, it was suggested to us 15 years ago by The Guys Upstairs; second and more important, why it was suggested. ILC reminds us that communicating with the disembodied is not inherently different from communicating with others in the physical. In each case, the communication is much more intuitive and less logical and sensory than we usually suppose. And this is communications between peers, not between lordly spirits and lowly worms. (“Too much respect,” we were told at one point, “is as distancing as contempt.”) The guys have uniformly said that we are the same thing functioning in different terrain, we in 3D and they in non-3D, and the differences in terrain result in us appearing more different from each other than is actually the case. And this misperception, again, causes difficulties by giving us the wrong idea about the relationship.

MP: For openers can you give me quick bio and your excuse for getting into writing books rooted in ILC.

FD: In 1992 at age 46, I did a residential program at The Monroe Institute and began to acquire access to the abilities and perceptions that I had always thought must be there but had been unable to activate. In late 2005 I suddenly went from dealing with the somewhat amorphous Guys Upstairs to specific individuals. (This is detailed in my third book, Chasing Smallwood.) I engaged in such conversations on a frequent basis, writing questions and answers in my journal, then typing up the entries day by day and sharing them on my blog, and a select mailing list. When you do something long enough, routinely enough, it isn’t difficult to wind up with enough entries to fill entire books. Thus, The Cosmic Internet, Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway, The Sphere and the Hologram, and others. Then in December 2014 my old friend Rita Warren (by then eight years deceased) announced that she and I had work to do and began weeks of discussions of what her life was life now. Thus, Rita’s World, Rita’s World Vol. II and two more volumes to come.

MP: Works that promote ideas obtained using ILC tend to be somewhat niche because of the problems folk have with allowing that this means of gathering information and wisdom this way. Have you had to defend the integrity of the method? How have you done that?

FD: From long experience I have concluded that many people hamper their own ability to receive such information because they become distracted by what I call the useless questions: “How do I know I’m not just making this up? How do I know who I am talking to? How do I know that this person is who he or she claims to be? How do I know s/he is telling the truth, or knows what s/he is talking about?” It is natural to wonder, but I don’t think it is helpful, because such questions cannot be answered! I encourage people, instead, to receive freely, not judging the material, and then look at it later. (You can’t perceive and judge at the same time. Both are necessary, but the processes have to alternate, or they will cancel each other out.) The only questions I think are helpful are: “Does this resonate?” and “What can I do with the information?” Material that resonates today may cease to resonate tomorrow, but while it does resonate, use it and see where it brings you.

MP: From my own direct experience I know that not everything that is communicated from the other side has integrity and merit. My response was to research like crazy and doubt like mad. How have you handled the self-generated doubts about whether you are deluded or mad?

FD: I never thought I was mad, but I often enough wondered if I was being led down the garden path. The only way I know to proceed is, as I said above, to begin by freely accepting whatever comes, and criticizing it later. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them,” and that rings true to me. I don’t think research and logic will provide you with a definite answer, because if they indicate that what you got was true, you’ll still have room to doubt; and if they say it is false, well, you have to do your own discerning to see which rings true: What came to you or what you concluded. Parenthetically, I might mention that the guys more than once said that one reason I am qualified for this kind of work is that I have a high tolerance for ambiguity. I can rest easy without knowing, without proving [ital. originally].

MP: You observed in an earlier email exchange that ILC is something that is natural to humans. On one level being here in physical reality is a kind of ‘joint’ endeavour, with communication between the physical and metaphysical dimensions as a matter of course – only not usually conscious. And to the extent there is any conscious awareness it mostly gets drowned out by the constant chatter of our ‘monkey minds’. Besides ILC can seem to be a bit like cheating. Quite apart from the risk of not knowing the merits of the information, it can be like getting something for nothing. Our history with religion has put a lot of folks off what seems like revelation. Can you offer some insight [assurances as well as cautions] into the practicalities and benefits of fostering ILC?

FD: I don’t know that it is the monkey mind that drowns out this communication as much as it is the tendency to dismiss what comes in unbidden as “only me making it up.” Once people learn to not dismiss, but consider, and engage, it all opens up.

As to specific cautions or reassurances – I don’t think they are needed. Just as in the rest of life, participate, but don’t check your common sense at the door. Receive, but then reason about it. Thus, you will treat it as you treat the rest of life.

Communication between two or more beings in bodies is one thing; between beings some of whom are in bodies and some not is another thing in some ways, but in essentials is the same.

When speaking body to body, so to speak, speech and gesture help us get our meanings across. But speech and gesture sometimes distract and confuse as much as they focus and clarify. Speaking mind to mind allows for direct conveyance of thought prior to language, which means we can sometimes convey or receive gestalts, not just logical sentences.

MP: One of the things about quality ILC ideas that excites me is the articulation of very deep ideas that might fall into our familiar categories of metaphysical, religious, spiritual, mystical but expressed in language that is very secular and largely devoid of jargon. Both Rita and TGU seem to be intent on communicating deep and complex ideas using plain English. I want to describe this as secular language in the sense that it largely devoid of in-group conceits, delusions and jargons, and constitutes a more difficult shared task of rendering deep ideas in plain speech. How do you place your ILC output in the context of our passion for both scientific [rational] and spiritual [less rational] ideas?

FD: I hardly know how to answer this question, as this is not the way I see things. I see science as much more of a belief system than scientists themselves think it. I don’t think it is nearly as rational in practice as they describe it in theory. Nor do I see religion as non-rational; I see it as a different belief system, as rational within its premises as science, and as limited.

 Religion – if it is going to be anything more than a very restricted sect – has to be able to communicate its truths to people at all levels of personal development. This is why religions use symbols. Thus, mythology is always part of religion, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there is nothing for us today in any religion that insists that its adherents believe without understanding. The only way to belief is through experience. At least, that’s my belief.

MP: I was confronted by the message from TGU that ‘All is well. All is always well.’ We are so used to thinking that some things, indeed many things, are not okay at all. It takes no time to make a long list of things that cannot possibly be okay. It is an idea I am still struggling with. I can see that it’s not a suggestion that I shrug my shoulders and ignore outrages and injustices – because, by the same logic, passionate struggles for justice are also okay. It is okay to be outraged and angry about crimes and abuses. So I was intrigued when precisely the same idea was expressed several times in Jeffrey Long’s new book, God and the Afterlife. It’s not a unique point of view. I am curious to know how you reacted to the idea, and how you processed it. Are you comfortable with it now?

FD: I was comfortable with it from the moment I heard it coming out of my mouth, even though I too am far from reconciled with the way things are. I understood it to mean that, since everything is connected, and there are no accidents or coincidences in the universe, and everything is conscious (including synthetic fibres and radioactive waste and clouds and, you name it) – where is there room for injustice or tragedy except in the most local of senses. I like your saying “passionate struggles for justice are also okay. It is okay to be outraged and angry about crimes and abuses.” After all, those are part of life too.

MP: As a practical demonstration of the usefulness of ILC would you be prepared to deliver a few thoughts from Rita or TGU on the theme of materialism and its impact on our culture? Alex and I share a political passion to challenge its influence. It seems anomalous, irrational, and maybe a wee bit mad.

FD: Materialism is a belief system that follows logically from the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, and we live among the results of both of these. Materialism is not irrational within its own premises, and perhaps it was a necessary detour so that people could explore first-hand what happens when you restrict first your experimentation and then your ideology and then your awareness to the things that can be sensed and measured, and no more. Yes, it’s mad in its own way, but it is, shall we say, instructively so. And it freed Western culture from the political and intellectual domination by the Church. If in so doing it through the baby out with the bathwater, still it did get rid of the bath water. You task, should you choose to accept it, is to help it broaden its range so that it realizes that what quantum physics is finding mathematically irrefutable is also true. That will take some doing!

MP: Rita’s World and The Sphere and the Hologram are for me incredibly rich sources of provocative and confronting ideas. These are not ideas swathed in religious tones that beg belief, but starkly articulated rational propositions that deeply unsettle habituated intellectual and moral conceits. In Far Journeys Robert Monroe recounts his reaction to a version of human life on Earth conveyed to him by an entity from a remote locality. He went into an existential crisis for a time for, if true, what was told to him had to profoundly alter his sense of identity and meaning. I am a huge fan of both books, not because I agree with or believe the content, but because the business of confronting and responding to the ideas has been immensely rewarding. I’d like you to talk about your reaction to the ideas – encountering them and then engaging with them.

FD: Well, you know, it is a feature of ILC that whatever comes out of your mouth, or your pen, appears at first blush like your own thought. It is only later, sometimes, that you re-read what seemed so matter-of-fact and obvious and say, “where did that come from?” So, I can’t say that there has been any big jolt so far. Of course, tomorrow is another day, and who knows.

MP: Any final thoughts by way of wrapping up?

FD: Only this: Nobody can accurately judge ideas by hearing about them second-hand. I would say to people, if the ideas you hear about interest you, go to the source material and wrestle with it, make it yours. You can’t judge Seth by what you have heard about the Seth books. You learn to judge Seth by reading the material and weighing it, seeing what is true and useful for you. Nobody else’s opinion is worth anything except as a finger pointing toward the moon, saying, “have a look. This may interest you.”

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about all this.

Alex’s questions

AT: I am interested in your/TGU’s perspective on other well-known ‘channellers’ such as J.Z. Knight/Ramtha, Neale Donald Walsch/ Conversations with God and Darryl Anka/Bashar.

FD: Bear in mind that there is a distinct difference between practitioners of ILC (regardless what they call it) and trance channelers. ILC is very much an active collaboration between conscious and unconscious minds. Trance channelling seems to involve a deliberate setting aside of the conscious mind so as to facilitate the conveyance of material that perhaps contradicts the individual’s conscious attitudes That seems to have been the case with the only trance channelers I feel competent to discuss, Edgar Cayce and Jane Roberts (Seth). In both cases, over time the access to material seems to have come closer to the surface – presumably because in reading transcripts of the material they had brought forth, their conscious mind to a great degree changed its opinions, so that the separation because less necessary. However, this is only my speculation. The Edgar Cayce and Seth material remains the gold standard for trance channelling, in my opinion.

As to the three individuals you cite, my opinion is that anyone practicing ILC is going to have his or her own mentality thoroughly mixed with the source of the material. That’s what we were told is the “temporary group mind” intrinsic to such communication. Farther than that I am not qualified to comment. 

AT: What about Jesus? You/TGU reference him quite a bit but there’s a lot of controversy as to whether he was he a real historical figure. When you mention Jesus who do you mean?

FD: You might ask yourself how someone who didn’t exist could have so changed the men around him that they in turn started a process that changed the world. I don’t have any patience with the (somewhat desperate) argument that he never existed.

As to his presence in our lives today, is it so hard to imagine that his presence in our group unconscious mind would be less evident than others of far less impact such as Lincoln, Carl Jung, etc.? 

AT: Ok, let’s say one is convinced that you (or someone else) might have the ability to venture into these extended consciousness realms – should they? There seems to be a lot of warning against doing so. One is that it’s dangerous and you could do harm to yourself and/or others. Another is that ultimately it is a distraction from your soul’s spiritual journey.

FD: There isn’t any “should.” People will either be drawn toward expanding their range in this fashion or they won’t. My suspicion is that any individual who fears doing so should take that fear as a warning that it is not for them. I do not understand how learning to connect with other parts of our group mind would be a distraction, so I can’t respond to that.

Part 6 – Connection and disconnection

Communication with spirit is a natural human heritage that has become distorted and debased in western European culture through the machinations of religion and a materialist philosophy. It’s time we reclaimed that heritage.

Medium and the message

It seems paradoxical that we should fear what is inherent in our being. The idea that spirits and humans communicate is universal and ancient. If we knew that as part of the mother’s milk of cultural conditioning, we would never be surprised. But we don’t, so we are. This is a problem because we inflate the wrong aspects of the phenomenon. We think it violates the norms of knowledge and understanding about how the world works, so the phenomenon is ‘wrong’.

If the actuality of spirit communication is problematic, the content becomes a test of the validity of the phenomenon itself. Its meaning and value are pushed aside, often under assessed. That’s like using the content of a book as a basis for testing the validity of the book as a thing. You can’t say you will believe in books only if you find their contents agreeable. Well, you can, but it would be silly. And then, having decided books are real things, their content is assumed to have merit.

Let’s look at this as a challenge in two parts – the medium and the message. They are two distinct things with distinct attributes. Is spirit communication real? If so, does it have any use or value to us? If your answer to the first question is ‘No’, then the second question has no meaning or value. If the answer is ‘Yes’, then the second question grows in importance, and the first diminishes. We do not continue ponder whether books are real or good when we engage with their content.

‘Maybe’ is not an acceptable answer here in the sense that you cannot go on to the second question in any useful manner, because you will find yourself taking answers from the second question to answer the first question. That pathway leads to confusion, grief and wasting time. If you allow yourself to think that the message can validate the medium, you enter a zone of profound risk. Your ability to evaluate the message is weakened and distorted. If validating the medium matters when you engage with the message ‘your heart will not be pure’. This may seem dramatic now, but the sense of this assertion will become plain through life experience.

DeMarco could be suggesting ignoring the medium and attending only to the message. Does that resonate with you? There is a sense to this. Attend to the gift and not the giver. Is this gift a good thing for me? Would we accept a rose from an ugly person? There are many ways in which the messenger can induce us to accept or reject a message with no regard to its virtue. Kings can be disguised as beggars and demons can appear as the beloved.

We largely come from a culture that accepted divine revelation only provided the sources were approved. Prophets have been ignored and visionaries tortured before their messages have been incorporated. Materialists are fond of citing Galileo as the persecuted truth speaker par excellence. But he was an intemperate man who ignored good advice and was sent to his room. We accept or reject knowledge and ideas largely based on what authority we have been taught to accept. There is a spiritual and romantic fascination for the messenger – exemplified by Jesus – and all the popes, bishops and priests who co-opted him. The evils done in the name of the faith are now measureless. The Nuremberg defence does not hold water. We cannot abdicate our duty of care to the status of the messenger. And the obverse passion for the radical and non-conformist thought hero? Does the messenger matter at all? Is it all about the message?

Let’s suppose it is. Then it’s all about us as individuals and how we engage with the message. Our choice. But does that mean that we stand by and let the naïve, ignorant, and stupid fall prey to the liars and manipulators? Not at all, but we must get our question of personal responsibility answered first. That way we do not impose on others our morality fashioned from an incomplete consideration of our own duty.

A final thought

We do not exist in isolation as discrete selves. We think we do, and we act as if we do because this is what we have been induced to believe. It does not take much to demonstrate that the separate self is a conceptual illusion. We are profoundly connected. The divine ‘I’ is self -caused. The ‘I’ that you and I employ to express our sense of self owes something essential and fundamental to that primal sense, but mostly we articulate a sense of self that dwells in, and is dependent upon, community –from family outwards. Injure that and we are crazy – mildly or in extremis. Our cultural cult of individuality confuses this intensely. The development of the individual in the West is the fundamental determinant of what we loosely call modernity. It is taken to be a destination rather than a phase on a pathway of transition from unconscious membership of a group to consciousness membership. This is seen in some respects in the breakdown of the old forms of belonging and the emergence of new forms of intentional community – all transitioning to a destination yet a long way off.

When our sense of self is in balance, in harmony, we enter a state that is unfamiliar. It is special as sacred and magical. We function on the horizontal axis of physical competence and the vertical axis of metaphysical competence in a harmony that is rarely manifested. Those who do manifest it we consider deep spiritual/religious/magical heroes.

Conscious and intentional communication with the ‘dead’ is an essential extension of sense of being human in its full spiritual context. History hammers that home to us. It has been only in the past 500 year so or so that this has been an offensive notion. Reason and science have not dispelled the reality. Neither have they adapted to accommodate the consequent proposition that it is okay. That’s a problem that contaminates our whole culture. In the 21st century the fact that we collectively assent to a culture that denies reality should be a concern. The notion that our knowledge is progressed only via intellectual endeavour alone is absurd. Few thinkers of renown were/are atheists or materialists. Science was ‘invented’ by deeply religious folk who wanted to know the handiwork of the divine in an intimate and intellectually disciplined way. Our ancestors have relied upon communion with the other side to express that balanced and communal sense of being in a reality that had its physical and metaphysical aspects, and it is only a modernist hubris that finds no place for it.

Throughout his books Frank DeMarco remains alive to the problem of how we can know whether those ‘on the other side’ are real and useful sources. In Rita’s World 2 he says:

Of course, anyone exploring the question of life on “the other side” is soon presented with difficulties. It is difficult to envision. How do beings there spend their time? What is it they do, and why do they do it? What if anything is their relationship to us? What light, if any, does their existence shed on our life here? Can such questions be answered?

 Of course, they can. The world’s scriptures have been answering them for centuries. But that doesn’t mean we understand what’s written. New ears can be dead to old words, and so sometimes old truths have to be re-stated to be heard. What’s more, sometimes new perspectives make old words more understandable.

But it’s not just old words, but old thought, old wisdom. We need to use our present knowing to reaffirm things that are eternally true. While it is true that our intellectual disciplines that are loosely bundled under the big idea of Science are generating new insights, we are largely unaware of the extent to which old truths are being re-affirmed. This is particularly true in the Human Sciences. It is said that there are 7 basic story plots that are endlessly retold. This is important if we recall that the human experience is at the centre of any human endeavour. The same essential story can be set in a Neolithic village or on The Enterprise in 2nd gen Star Trek. The tech changes radically over the span of history, but the moral drama does not as much. What I call a moral drama is essentially relational – human-to-human [living and dead], human-to-other than human [spirits, plants animals and the ecology of their being], human-to-stuff [things of utility, decoration, symbolism, and the ecology created]. The moral dimension is fundamental and recurring and must be constantly restated, reimagined, reasserted. That is of mutual concern to the dwellers in the physical and metaphysical aspects of reality.

We rely on sources of knowledge, insight and wisdom that are found in the living and present [through the various media, and in the flesh], the dead and present [books, movies, the internet, and so forth], and the dead and other than here. There is no dispensation for the dead and other than here – no rock status that exempts them from critical assessment. Frank is very clear on this. He says [in Rita’s World 2]: 

That doesn’t mean that we can know for sure that we aren’t just making it up, nor that we know just who we are interacting with, nor that the information we receive is true. But those are the wrong questions. A message has to stand on its own, to resonate with you or not, rather than lean on someone’s presumed authority. The only thing we can know, and the only thing we need to know, is: does the material resonate? In other words, is it useful to think that way? Explorers by definition move into poorly mapped or unmapped territory. They cannot be required to always know what they are doing, or where they are going.

If we think back to Joe Fisher, this is an echo of advice Fisher had from an abuser guide. What is true here is true whether your source is physical or metaphysical. The scope for abuse is expanded when we focus on the attributes of the medium and not the message. Advertisers of drugs on television used put white lab coats on actors because they understood that we have a reflexive impulse to defer to power and authority. We still have to struggle against this reflex, and we even we are engaged in rational struggle it remains easy to submit or acquiesce to authority when it seems to confirm what we believe.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance but that does mean that flat out denial is a virtue any more than paranoia is a useful expression of vigilance. In the end it is about taking responsibility for our actions and choices and the extent to which we are prepared to take risks so that we can learn new and deeper things.

Michael Patterson, Katoomba, 27/12/16