A reflection on Ancient Apocalypse


In May 1997 I moved into a house on the Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania. I had gotten a job as the Community Recovery Officer, a role created in response to the Port Arthur shootings the year before. The house was isolated in bushland.

One night, soon after I moved in, I went to bed and was unable to sleep. I lay in bed in a dark room with eyes closed for over 4 hours. Around 2.00am I heard a car approaching. It was my brother arriving very late from Hobart. I got up to go downstairs to turn the outside light on. What happened next stunned me.

I looked out the window and saw a night sky awash with light, but there was no moon. The intensity of starlight was so intense my eyes reacted. Instead of darkness filling the background it was light of varying intensity – from a soft glow to strong patches. The most compelling memory was however the sense of proximity of the presence of stars and light. It was so close I felt almost oppressed, and distinctly uncomfortable. Despite my awe I had to get downstairs, and I felt relieved to go.

I grew up in the country and was walking in wilderness since I was 15. Laying back and looking at the night sky, campfire nearby, was a common experience. but we always had light – the fires or torches. This was the first time my eyes had been fully deconditioned.

The struggle with perspective

Since then, I have seen images of the night sky that have been impressive, but they have not replicated my experience.

All this matters, I believe, because we look back on our ancestors with our eyes. Graham Hancock noted, in Ancient Apocalypse, that our ancestors were pre-occupied with the sky. In the context of a post-apocalypse hyper vigilance, that makes sense. But I wonder what weight that anxiety should be given, relative to other motives.

My experience forced me to think of the night sky not as a deeply distant place, but an immanent place – close but just out of reach. It was also a place that had regular and erratic movement. So, like any part of the human environment it should be observed to be understood, risks assessed, and opportunities weighed.

It made sense, then, that climbing a mountain might get you closer – higher was nearer. 

I recently bought Richard Carrier’s Jesus from Outer Space. Carrier has a doctorate in ancient history. I came across his work in David Fitzgerald’s Jesus Mything in Action where there was a discussion about the idea that earlier than 2,000 years ago folk thought heaven was a material place, and gods were actual ‘people’ with bodies and appetites. Hence the resurrection of Jesus in the flesh made more sense to folks than the idea of a spiritual body.

Our minds are schooled by light years and light pollution makes the heaven seem sparsely populated. Remoteness, vastly distanced, is our measure.

We can assume our ancestors were stupid and ignorant or allow that their sense of what was was fairly and reasonable formed. We can think they were thinking literally in the way we mean that word, or we can allow that myth and metaphor served a purpose.

Because of how we think now, we cannot understand how our ancestors thought – and a good measure of modesty is in order if we want to be fair.

Our animist foundations

My main interest is in animism – a once apparently global way of knowing. My awareness of animism is conditioned by modern thought, so it is unlike how a native animist understands things – more so if they are free from any modern thought as well.

Human child development includes an ‘animistic’ stage out of which we develop into proper rational and abstract thought. But what if such ‘development’ was not always as harsh as now? I see relational modes of awareness (myth, metaphor, symbol) as different from the kind of abstract rational mode we have come to champion, not entirely a precursor or primitive mode. It could be that advancing abstract rational thought is an evolutionary development that should embrace its foundational modes – not denigrate and reject them. It something we are not doing well, if at all. Maybe the healthy evolution is toward a holistic way of knowing?

I came to animism after my night sky experience, so I have been trying to develop a sense of relational engagement with the night sky – the sky generally in fact. ‘Night and day’ has a yin/yang sense to it. The Egyptian goddess Nuit makes more sense this way.

The Celtic symbol, the Awen, expresses the solar positions on the horizon at the solstices and the equinoxes. The night sky, being more complex, is symbolised in astrology. The relationship between the complexity of night and simplicity of day seems to be incorporated into monumental structures around the world.

Earth and sky have their mutual complexities. The complexities of Earth are stimulated from the complexities of sky. There is a moral dimension in ancient thought that suggests there is also a reciprocity – a balance to be kept.

What was that way of knowing?

We are disposed to see the monumental works of our ancient past as products of a now past present without grasping the precursor conditions – which demand a far more complex and sophisticated culture. The idea of a ‘lost civilization’ makes so much sense. But we then must ask how this civilization thought. Was it a holistic culture which developed thought and technologies that evolved in high complex forms very different from our own?

If our science and technology retained a grounding in myth, metaphor, and symbolism (a presumption of relatedness) from the outset they may not have developed the toxic processes that now beset us.

We are locked into assuming that high intelligence is exclusively expressed by abstract rational thought alone. That means that generating toxic consequences is an inherent feature of intelligence – and that doesn’t seem to be a sensible thing to think.

One thing that struck me more than anything else about the Ancient Apocalypse series was the sense of urgency to construct these monumental structures (they are all dated around the same time) – to restore a capacity to connect with the sky? The effort that went into them was extraordinary. The perceived need was powerful – maybe to scan for more danger and to plug back into a sustaining way of knowing.

Operating complex systems of knowing that involve building and maintaining massive structures takes people and time. It seems to me that the agents to drove the making of these structures were restoring, not inventing, and so also restored agriculture – a necessity when many people stay in the same place for a long time.

I think the lost civilization hypothesis is sound. It fits the facts and offers sense to things that seem otherwise odd. It certainly changes the narrative line of history that our culture tells itself – and aligns more with myth – as it should.


Graham spoke of what the users of Gobekli Tepe intended when they buried the site – to preserve it for future generations? Did they sense a need to do so, and why? To memorialise what had happened or as a signal to take care, lest it happen again?

This is from 14 February 1979. I recorded a session with a discarnate agent who spoke through a close friend. Here is part of the transcript. The voice was not always clear. The difficulty is that man this time is not evenly evolved but is made up of many groups from past civilizations all incapable of cohesive action. The cataclysms will be in the earth system (time not clear) If the spiritual level of mankind does not raise itself dramatically within (time not clear) all things which are at present useful and beautiful will be taken away.

As with all such things, do be careful in how you assess them. I include this because of two ideas that link to the theme of Ancient Apocalypse.

The first is that humanity is not evenly evolved – something that seems to have been the case a long time ago as well. In our language ‘advanced’ and ‘primitive’ people share the same landscape. But who is who? That may depend on what we measure.

The second is that our future depends upon our “spiritual level”. That theme was present in the flood myth accounts.

The theme of harmony between Heaven and Earth is persistent. My sense is that restoring harmony was a task the post-apocalyptic flood heroes took on for themselves -to go out and build new centres of connection with Heaven and get things back to some kind of order.

Whether you believe this was a meaningful act or not it does seem true that our civilization is built upon that foundation. We are heirs of a restoration effort, but we may also be heirs to a collective existential trauma. Those who have been raised influenced by the Jewish tradition have two traumatic acts at the foundation of our spiritual thought – an expulsion from paradise by a God whose later genocidal intent was to drown our ancestors. 

What has been passed down to us is the need to be redeemed from an inherited sin. Our culture carries the residue of an ancient trauma that injures our relational capacity to this day.

In an animistic consciousness reciprocity between humanity and Heaven is a reality. This idea is present in our religion traditions, though expressed in ways that often make the idea rationally offensive. It is a deeper and far more subtle way of thinking, but you can’t explore it and keep your materialistic inclinations. It is a deep relational, not a wholly rational, way of knowing. 


As climate change continues to force us to accept that our world is changing in ways that are increasingly detrimental to our collective interests it may be a good time for a collective re-assessment of the post-apocalyptic structures in terms of their intent and the motives behind their construction.

The idea that we are the highest manifestation of humanity is alluring, save that it may be unbalanced. After centuries of championing reason and science we have come up the idea of the ‘mad scientist’ who wants to take over or destroy the world. That is our worst nightmare of Enlightenment thinking.

But we know now that expressing ‘advanced attributes’ of humanity includes emotional and spiritual attributes as well as cognitive prowess. By spiritual I mean that capacity for holistic and integrative awareness, not religious or metaphysical thought or belief – though it could be also expressed in those ways. It can be expressed in scientific terms with a little help from our mythic, metaphoric, and symbolic mind elements – if we allow them.

Animism at its foundation, is a relational way of knowing. Studies on trauma show that this way of knowing is deeply injured through traumatic events. The idea of moral reciprocity requires a balance that demands a mature sense of realism, not a romantic religious sentiment or a disconnected objectivity – both injured states.

Around the world indigenous people have been traumatised when they are invaded, subjugated, and abused by modern thought. In western civilisation, our capacity for relational ways of knowing – amongst our own, between others and with the non-human – is impaired, sometimes gravely so.

Where to from here?

Note: Ancient Apocalypse is an 8-part series only on Netflix. It is one of Netflix’s highest rated shows ever.


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, ofmyownknowledge.com 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

The Future of Humanity Spirituality 3


The word psychology is derived from the Greek – psyche is breath, soul, mind. So, it should be rational that psychology, as a scientific pursuit, would have something to contribute to our thoughts on spirituality.

It is true that psychology and psychiatry have hardly covered themselves in glory in this regard, with an excessive focus on animals (behaviourism), physicality (mind as brain) and materialist guesses about the nature of reality that became a dogmatic blunt instrument for such a ling time.

Generally speaking, psychologists have not been informed by the reports on out of body experiences, so they do not, openly at least, go all in on our non-material dimensions. But they have been moving toward a greater sense openness toward spirituality as at least a valid and valuable experience, even if the foundation of it remains disputed or uncertain.

I read popular books on psychology. These are works by serious and respected researchers. They are written for the interested non-academic reader, so they are accessible and entertaining while maintaining intellectual rigor. My reading follows no plan or logic – if I come across a book that sounds interesting, I buy it and read it.

For the past few decades, I have had a professional focus on management and organisational psychology. This is what started to stir my curiosity about a psychologically validated sense of morality. This stemmed from thinking on how to treat employees well and manage organisations effectively. There was a focus on maintaining a viable business – keeping good staff meant keeping them happy. That meant promoting psychological maturity and self-awareness.

In essence, psychologically healthy people made the most productive workers. That meant ensuring that managers were up to the task. Okay, I can hear some readers tittering. I didn’t say we have ended up with psychologically healthy organisations. The research points to their value – and things are improving in many areas.

I have an interest in Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging. This is usually about how to address exclusion and discrimination in organisations. The psychological research is strong and going in the same direction as other areas of research focused on organisations.

In the past decade I can count the books I have read on what we’d normally call traditionalspirituality on two hands. Most of these have been academic inquiries into Gnosticism and early Christian thought. That’s been a problem area for me, and one I wanted to settle.

Gnostic and early Christian thought reflected their times – what was known and what was believed then. We have moved on a lot in the past 1600 odd years. Why should we rely on ideas at least 1600 years old to instruct us? Can we now not mine what is known and believed now, and develop ideas about how things are from a spiritual perspective?

In part this is an issue of authority and the source of knowledge. The term Gnostic should be a clue – in contrast with asserted dogma. Experience trumps dogma, lore and tradition.

Do we know enough now to develop a decent spiritual theory?

I think so. I have mentioned in the early essays in this series the two sources I esteem – selected ‘communicated’ writings and accounts of sojourners out of the body. These sources are direct experience based and are not coloured by adherence to any tradition. They are ‘scientific’ in their perspective. By that I mean they are founded upon disciplined rational inquiry.

I have had multiple non-ordinary experiences that leave me in no doubt that standard religious and scientific narratives are insufficient. Dogma rejects experience that challenges its certainty. The formation of the Christian church crafted a dogma that was designed to exclude non-conforming experience. The Gnostic way of knowing (as imperfect and chaotic as it was) posed a threat to conformity and order.

I happen to suspect that the positive qualities of Christianity needed conformity and order to flourish on a societal level. There were evils that benefitted from the same – but that’s how it goes – cooperation and competition spring from the same soil. So, I am not arguing for a wholesale end to conformity and order – just the evolution of discernment that helps us see the good plants and the weeds and know which to reduce. 

Because what I am arguing for is contemporary knowledge there is a lot of work to be done to discover it and assess it. The lead up to the Council of Nicaea was around 300 years of a free for all – full of exploration and innovation. We can look upon Christianity now as a well settled, even moribund, faith. If we heed the New Testament, we can be fooled into imagining it was orderly and structured from the start. 

That near 3 centuries of passionate exploration and inquiry has been almost eradicated from the history of the faith. And yet this was probably the most exciting period as a few seminal ideas became the trigger for an explosion of inquiry and experimentation we now know best as Gnosticism. I suspect we really have no idea what happened – because, like now, formal records were not kept, and groups formed and split as ideas were explored.

Now, as I write this in 2022, we are in a similar situation. The old established ways are found wanting. Inquiry and experimentation abound. There’s a lot happening – in pockets – and nobody has a comprehensive overview.

If you went looking for a fully formed modern spirituality that owed nothing evident to the past, you’d not find it. It doesn’t exist as a ‘ready to eat’ product. A lot of people are part of developing it. The content is there to develop an early version – but not a mature one.

I suppose this may be an issue for those who want to find something settled and sure. There are efforts at hybridising the old and new ways with varying degrees of success – mostly not much – from my perspective. I tried doing that for over 30 years, and the best I could do was to validate some of the things I learned and believed while tossing out considerably more. 

Quite simply, you have to work at a contemporary spirituality. What seems certain is that we exist independent of out physical bodies unconditionally. What we call ‘Love’ seems to be the foundation of a moral code.

Secular morality

It has been argued that we need God for morality. To be blunt, religions have been long on the dogma but short on the practice. So, no, we don’t.

As communal creatures, we humans in physical form are naturally disposed to want to live in mutually beneficial harmony with others in our community. Problems arise when we create sub-groups that exclude those who do not meet our criteria. This becomes a risk when our communities become large enough to splinter into sub-groups. The story of human civilization has been an evolutionary drama about how we expand our sense of inclusion. That is still going on. However, it is easier now to find a large sub-group with membership benefits that make further inclusion unattractive. We can all find points where we can quit and be content with where we are.

This is similar to the early Christian challenge to ‘love thy neighbour’ – sorted by making that neighbour a member of the sub-group we belong to, or a member of a sub-group we do not belong to. Does it mean love only those who are like us, or all people? The principle seems simple, but what and why we choose is not. Self-awareness, psychological health, and psychological maturity are the variable factors.

Morality is built into our biology and psychology. It can be run through a religious system for want of another explanation – but it is not dependent upon it. Myth became the explanatory system for experience-based knowledge. It used metaphor because what we call rational thought hadn’t evolved – our ancestors didn’t have our science – just their intelligence and experience – a different way of knowing.

There are compelling experiments showing that animals have a sense of right and wrong – fair and unfair. We don’t need a conception of the divine to activate a moral sense. That does not mean that a conception of the divine is not a good and valid thing to have – or that what is moral is not finally dependent upon the nature of the divine. It may be that a moral force permeates our reality from a divine source.

My argument is only that a belief in, or concept of, God is not necessary for moral values. They seem hardwired into our reality. I am making no comment on their nature or source – that’s for future rational inquiry.

The other aspect of moral conduct that we struggle to comprehend is the extent to which we can exploit ecosystems. That’s a whole separate conversation. Here I want only to acknowledge it is a component of our moral thought and conduct – and one that has a rational and scientific foundation. It is not a matter for dogma or gods. A passage in a book granting humans the right to plunder cannot be a foundation for moral conduct or thought. And yet we seem to have made it so.

Conceptions of the divine

I have never liked atheistic materialism as a way of thinking. Just because Christian theology makes no sense doesn’t mean you toss out the whole idea of the divine.

Contemporary thought about consciousness being the foundation of reality is sympathetic to mystical thought that regards the divine as beyond imagination and description. To the extent that theism concerns an imagined and described deity, it has no rational merit.

Early efforts to characterise large forces/ideas using metaphors to describe a quality of consciousness, rather than an abstract ideas, have left us a legacy of confusion. The Greek goddess Themis has been converted into our idea of Justice. Even now the image of justice being a blindfolded woman carrying scales and sword can be seen outside courts. But no lawyer or judge would believe there is a literal goddess.

Themis means order and may be connected to the Egyptian goddess Maat. Order is no simple notion, despite some passion for the simplistic political dream of law and order. Justice, as an aspect of order is a massive idea by itself. Consider the effort our society invests in the idea and ideals – and how often they appear to be thwarted. Maat has a cosmic dimension to her. On one level we could be talking physics, on another life systems, on another at a species level – and so on down through the cultural level to the individual.

Order or Justice, or Love, are mere fragments of a vast complex conception – as a form of consciousness which can be expressed via metaphor and symbol or as a set of rational ideas. But with vast ideas we need to condense our representation into something manageable. The idea of Justice serves, like Love, as a neat encapsulation of an idea beyond description. We cannot with confidence assert that these words are not representations of the divine – especially if we assert that consciousness underpins all reality.

But we can ask whether an image of Themis is a better representation. It triggers, via metaphor and symbolism, a more complex array of responses. The word Justice activates our rational awareness – but that is not the exclusive form of awareness we use. People do not sacrifice their lives for a solely rational ideal.

The point I am making is that while we must reform our notions of the divine and deity – gods and goddesses etc – we are not under any rational pressure to discard them. Transition to new language may be necessary, however. Thomas Campbell deals with this extensively in My Big Toe.


Direct experience and competent rational reporting make it clear that the idea that we exist independent of our physical bodies is sound. This alone opens a vast potential to reimagine what we know. There is allied evidence that what we call Love is an essential quality of our vaster consciousness of our being.

These 2 ideas alone constitute the ground to radically re-imagine being human – in physical form and beyond it. This is not a departure from the religious and spiritual ways of the past – because both ideas are fundamental. What is a departure is how we know.

Pretty much since The Enlightenment secular rational thought has been evolving. The scientific method is its present expression. If we lay aside the dogmas of materialism and theism, we have access to ideas that are corrosive of the dogmas.  Those ideas are beginning to affirm the core of ancient spirituality, but they are updated to employ the best knowledge we now have – beyond reliance on myth, metaphor and symbols and the dogmas that have encrusted them.

Contemporary psychology and neuroscience provide experience and evidence-based guidance for understanding our behaviour and values. This is work in progress, but it offers us a sounder basis for just and loving action than any religious dogma can. 

The so-called Gnostic Gospels were of value because, when they were written, they expressed the best experiences and thought of the inquirers and explorers of the day. Over 1600 years on we must heed what the best inquirers and explorers of this day are telling us.

There is always a lag between experience and the formation of knowledge based on it. Sometimes that is because of a devotion to rigorous thought. But, as Thomas Kuhn asserted in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, dogma infests science as well.

We are naturally disposed to being dogmatic and relying on lore and tradition. There is always a tension between that habit and new thinking and experience. For me, religions represent the worst, but not the sole, manifestation of that negative impulse to impede change and growth. Authority based on lore and dogma is easier to gain and assert than that based on experience and rigorously acquired knowledge. This isn’t what spirituality is about, rather it’s about the evolution of understanding who and what we are.

The Future of Human Spirituality 2


I finished listening to the 3rd book in Thomas Campbell’s audiobook trilogy – My Big Toe. As so often happens, the concluding arguments offer a neat summation of the overall proposition that would benefit a well-informed reader ahead of reading the book. Campbell suggests that having finished the book, the reader should go back to the beginning and start again. That’s good advice that should be applied often.

Campbell is a physicist and wrote in greater detail than I needed. I understood that, and he admitted that this might be the case for some readers. His wider point is that we have progressed as a culture to the point that we can reframe our notion of spirituality to embrace science as a justifying logic. It is this that I want to reflect on here.

The sticking point 

Experience that does not conform to cultural norms is either elevated as a revelation or rejected as a violation of accepted norms. This applies to both religious and scientific experiences and authorities.

What makes Campbell’s work of value is his experience of getting out of his body. In fact, without that experience his work becomes mere speculation rather than interpretative.

Religious experience is generally not, these days, subject to critical analysis and evaluation. I think things were different in the now distant past, but things changed post the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. This established dogma as dominant, thus making obedience and conformity superior to inquiry and empiricism. It was a watershed in our culture’s history.

I want to make a point that mysticism and magic are grounded in experimentation, based on experience. But any such tradition can become bogged down by conformity to old knowledge and old ways. Traditions must be refreshed by inquiry as an act of renewal. The old ever yields to the new in healthy culture. The old isn’t invalidated, just superseded. In effect knowledge is constantly refreshed and what endures is wisdom.

Campbell is one example of ‘religious’ experimentation and inquiry. I have put ‘religious’ in quotes because many readers will have an idea of religion that does not fit here. Religion is, for me, the shared experience of interpreting existential awareness of being in an animate reality and developing behaviours that enhance individual and collective wellbeing. Whether than is done competently is another question. What we call ‘spiritual’ is the individual experience.

I am making this distinction because it saves having to be forced to make an awkward distinction between religion and science. We started using the word ‘science’ around 1884. There’s a useful Wikipedia article on the subject. However, while it acknowledges that ‘science’ goes way back to Ancient Egypt, it ignores the fact that experimentation and the development of disciplined knowledge goes much further back to our ancestors – at least 80,000 years. It also ignores the fact that our ancestors were animists and what we see as paranormal or supernatural were part of a way of knowing that was no less disciplined and experimental – and normal. 

Humans are, in essence, scientific in all our activity. We are also disposed to habit and inertia, allowing lore and tradition to become dominant. This is often accompanied with desires for power and prestige. We can and will corrupt inquiry into conformity and comfort.

Campbell, like Robert Monroe, is what amounts a modern religious experimenter. His personal ‘spiritual’ experience has become, via My Big Toe, a shared ‘religious’ experience. But this is true to the old way of focusing on personal experience, method, inquiry, experimentation, and a rejection of any expectation to conform to dogma.

The foundation of experience

Robert Monroe recounts his introduction to out of body experiences in his 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body. He also talks about his experience on YouTube.

This is perhaps the most compelling and credible foundation of experience leading to a radical change in beliefs available to the contemporary reader. There are several reasons for this. Monroe had no spiritual/religious background and was a pragmatic, curious and scientifically minded person. The Monroe Institute has remained, in my view, as a credible ‘neutral’ body.

I should point out that I have no association with the Monroe Institute beyond being on a mailing list for a time.

A few years back I was a regular participant in a forum associated with Skeptiko.com. Skeptiko is a podcast that had a particular focus on near death experiences (NDEs). There was good reason. NDEs had been well-studied by credible researchers. In effect, NDEs are crisis-induced OOBEs.

Skeptiko’s motto was, for a time, ‘Science at the tipping point.’ That made sense. I was attracted by the passion to move beyond materialism and accept the experience-based reports from credible experiencers and witnesses. However, I quit my engagement with Skeptiko when it became apparent that it was not prepared to progress from NDEs to OOBEs. At the time I found this resistance puzzling and frustrating. It seemed like a lost opportunity to progress the conversation with a focus on a scientific approach. I no longer esteem Skeptiko as a source, though I do acknowledge that there is gold to be found in the online back catalogue of shows.

Getting out of one’s body is a compelling experience once the possibility of self-deception has been eliminated. It opens up possibilities that transgress against materialistic and religious dogma.

The difference between a NDE and an OOBE can be one of clarity. Many NDEers report an experience in the context of one’s belief system, or beliefs more generally. On the other hand, an OOBE is a transition to awareness of an ‘ordinary’ reality that is distinguished by the fact that it is simply not material. Reality extends beyond the material and can be experienced as such in a fairly mundane way – once you get over the fact that being out of one’s body is astonishing.

The belief trap

We have beliefs because we are human, and because they work for us much of the time.

A few months ago, I struggled to write an essay on what a belief is. I have to go back to rewrite the essay because it is a mess. The best I could do was come up with a mixed metaphor. A belief is something you anchor yourself to, and it creates an atmosphere. I still can’t do better than this.

That it is a set of fixed ideas is evident. It is tempting to compare such fixed ideas with ‘objective reality’ – which is our belief set essentially. However, to the extent that ‘objective reality’ is a real thing, it will not conform to our beliefs about it. It will always be other than what we believe. Nobody is objective. The best we can be is aware of our biases and conceits, and be modest in our self-assessments.

Monroe and Campbell both describe a non-physical region to which people, on their physical deaths, gravitate in conformity with their beliefs. This is consistent with NDE reports in which Christians (for example) have a Christian-themed experience. Even materialists, who believe there is nothing after death become trapped in their self-imagined nothingness – until the absurdity of their situation forces a modest confession of their folly.

I recall objecting to my brother-in-law that his idea of heaven would be intolerable. I wanted more than eternal and relentless insipid niceness. We are so often victims of our own naïve idealism. Pervasive niceness eliminates any need for character. It’s not that we want evil in paradise, just not the eradication of the vital dynamic of competition and cooperation. The ideal must surely embrace both. It may not result in what we may think of as ‘nice’ or ‘good’ but it will be at least bearable and prevent boredom. My brother-in-law’s vision of heaven permitted no growth or evolution, just a comatose eternity without respite.

Campbell describes what he calls a ‘belief trap’ in contrast with what might be, relatively speaking, a rational objective awareness of post-mortem existence. I think it important to not mistake the opposite of a ‘belief trap’ for a ‘belief-free’ state of awareness. We can’t avoid having beliefs, but we can avoid being trapped by them. 

Here Campbell is clear that what is necessary to avoid a trap is a preparedness to be self-responsible as opposed to seeking a comfortable, and comforting, set of ideas. This is, in effect, a maturation process.

Here I want to quickly explore the idea of ‘initiation’. In a belief system it is about being granted access to otherwise restricted knowledge and practices. In traditional cultures it may be some of that, but it is also a (usually) painful encounter with the hard reality of being a grown up. 

An ‘initiation’ is a demarcation between to states of relative awareness and responsibility. It can be little more than a formally sanctioned conceit within a belief system. As such it is usually accompanied by some kind of ceremony to celebrate and affirm the new status. But it may also be the dawning awareness that one is inside a belief trap, and it is time to escape. This time without celebration and embrace by the parent culture.

The point I want to make here is that what can feel like a singular moment of reward for effort can be, in fact, moving deeper into a belief trap. And what can seem like a singular moment of trauma can an act of liberation.

Belief traps are woven by any system of thought, not just religions. Actually, it is important to think of ‘religion’ more as a form of belief than about the content of the belief. The term ‘secular religion’ hints that we are dealing with a system, and not the content.

So, it is useful to think of Campbell’s belief trap as being content focused rather than system related. The ‘trap’ component concerns content (ideas, information, and beliefs) that impedes an individual’s ability to see their reality in a more objective or rational manner.

What kind of experiences count?

Anyone growing up in our culture will be exposed to traditions and beliefs taught formally in schools, in religions, in cultural heritage. Our experiences will vary greatly in content and intensity. 

Cultures tend to be all-embracing, offering members a complete package of ideas, values, and beliefs. This is true, regardless of size. However what works for a small tribal community will be less and less effective as the community grows in size and complexity. Today a western culture is so diverse that what constitutes shared values and beliefs can be contestable and demands for conformity can be confined to institutions and sub-communities (religious, cultural, historic, intellectual, political, or geographic).

Discontent with what is perceived to be a belief trap may be triggered by many things. A friend described to me how she abandoned her religion after being sexually molested by a pastor. Another simply found the assertions made by priests to be intellectually and morally unpalatable. 

We will all have our individual triggers that initiate our revolt against the belief traps that surrounded us, and maybe even have held us captive for a long time.

I had grown up with a steady stream of non-ordinary experiences that made adherence to my family’s religion impossible, and compliance with materialistic science unthinkable. But I found no refuge in alternatives. Over decades I found and sampled other ways of knowing. All lacked what I had loved my whole life – a scientific foundation. Although my non-ordinary experiences have been a definitive part of my life, I was also a science nut from early on. An inability to be passionate (and competent in) about maths cruelled any hope of science being a grown-up ambition for me. Still, I had a passion for reasoned inquiry.

Encountering an offense against reason and/or justice is experience enough to trigger a revolt against the belief trap.

But what is spirituality?

We have out of habit couched talk of spirituality in religious terms and, in so doing, have done ourselves a disservice. The religious have tried to put a proprietary stamp on the human spirit.

Monroe and Campbell have compellingly demonstrated that not only do we exist independent of our physical bodies, we persist in some form well beyond the death of those physical bodies. We have, it is asserted, a nature of consciousness inherent in that enduring presence. We can argue about what it may be called according to belief systems, but it is safe to assert that it is generally fine to call it the human spirit.

We can define spirituality as that which pertains to that enduring presence as it expresses through our physical and post-physical existence. 

We can then consider that such a theme embraces religion, psychology, values and morality, intellect, rational thought, all the sciences, beliefs, passions, and instincts. In fact, anything that we embrace under the notion of being human – and in whatever mix and proportion may be expressed.

In western culture religion crafted a distinction that enabled those who saw themselves as virtuous to separate themselves from those they thought were not. This was no moral divide, but one predicated upon commitment and obedience to dogma – the greatest of all belief traps.

This led to us believing that spirituality was about being obedient and conforming to beliefs – as values and ideas – rather than the experience of being human. At a deeper level, spirituality is essentially about the evolution of consciousness, human or not. But for the moment our focus is on the human experience.


Knowing that we, as conscious beings, exist and persist beyond our physical bodies is foundational knowledge that can frame how we see being human. For some it arises from direct experience. For many it remains necessary to receive and evaluate reports from experiencers.

It has ever been thus for us. We either know directly or we trust reports from those who know directly. However, we so often find ourselves reliant upon, and hence vulnerable to, those who have no direct knowledge. They have only lore and dogma and opinion so often tarted up as authority.

The possibility and risk of deception and error is always present. There is a difference, however, between being a child who cannot evaluate what is told to them, and an adult who can develop the ability to discern and evaluate. Some do that well, and others do not. There are, then, two spiritual paths for adults – one is operating within a belief trap because there is no capacity (thus far) to employ effective evaluation and discernment that can facilitate escape beyond the trap. The other path begins when discernment is activated and discontent with the status quo kicks in.

It is said that the ancient mystery schools of ancient Greece taught that great mystery that humans persisted beyond physical death. The central mystery of Christianity was that of life beyond physical death – though ultimately distorted into a dogma trap that captured, rather than liberated, those who accepted the idea. 

This idea has been present in human consciousness since humans began, but it was incomprehensible to the many for whom the experience of being human in physical form was their essential experience. Now the potential of post-material reality has become potent and crucial in moderating human behaviour – in the physical and the non-physical dimensions.

As we move away from dogma and toward experience and reason we are reforming our culture and our way of knowing.

The future of human spirituality?


We are in a transition phase – between the spiritual as we knew it, and what it is becoming. The ‘facts’ have not changed. What has changed, and is changing, is how we talk about and describe those ‘facts’. We are moving from narratives, myths, and metaphors to data-driven observations and theories. The former is rooted in history and tradition, the latter in rational scientific inquiry.

Like any transition, it is impossible to draw a line in the sands of time and declare a beginning. The emergence of deism in the 17th is a key feature of the transition. That led to the easy option of atheism and then materialism. Both opposed theism, albeit in crude ways. Nevertheless, the assertion of reasoned inquiry over dogma and theology was an important step.

For many the false dichotomy between religion and science created an irreconcilable polarity between the two, epitomised by Stephen Jay Gould’s assertion that they were “nonoverlapping magisteria”.

In my view what does not overlap is the way we think and talk about either. The genuine religious experience is objectively valid, so it is amenable to scientific examination. That doesn’t mean that such examination is done as well as it could be. As scientific methods evolve, we are discovering more. Perhaps best example is the brain research done with meditators.

Over the past few decades, the ardent materialism of the past has stepped aside and allowed a more sensitive inquiry into matters spiritual. There is a quiet revolution underway. It is, in fact, a huge change that seems to be upon us without much comment. That’s probably because not a lot of people are looking at the overall change.

The essential animistic nature of reality is being affirmed by rational inquirers while it remains rejected by materialist and theists.

In this essay I am not going to attempt a comprehensive survey of the changes. I have become aware that I am in that transition phase on a personal level – and I think many folks are. I want to reflect on elements of my experience in the hope it might stimulate the reader to look at their own journey.

Away from religion as we know it

In the west Christianity has been steadily declining in influence over the past century. Some commentators cite the first World War as the time when that slippery slope tilted sharply down. The church allied itself to the crown to induce so many young men to shed their blood on the brutal battlegrounds in France. Spiritism became popular as many sought contact with their dead kin – and many of their dead kin sought contact with them. The church did not, however, support contact with the dead. Experience trumped dogma.

The decline in engagement with the faith has continued. Atheism has been growing and degrees of confidence in the existence of God has been declining. This is true in European countries. Elsewhere, in Asia, Africa and South America Christianity remains strong or is growing. There are complex reasons for this.

What does not appear to have been assessed is whether a professed atheist is also a materialist. This is a pity because the two are not the same. Of course, a materialist is an atheist, but an atheist is not necessarily a materialist. Atheists, in any case come in a variety of forms. In short, no simple binary applies.

These days there is a smorgasbord of alternatives to Christianity for the disaffected, but still keen on finding a belief system. There is a growing group described as Spiritual But Not Religion (SBNR) and Spiritual But Not Affiliated (SBNA). This group has abandoned mainstream religion for mostly DIY alternatives.

Abandonment of a mainstream faith does not mean an abandonment of the spiritual impulse.

But what is religion?

Religion has become a dirty word. For me it has meant the shared and collective response to existential awareness of being in an animate reality. For others it an organised and controlling body of theologies, dogma, sanctions, and rewards imposed upon a community. It is intimately linked with politics and social control. It is frequently hypocritical and corrupt.

Here I will accept the latter definition.

What is God?

Among the religious there are degrees of confidence in the proposition that God exists. Christianity asserts that God is the creator of the universe, and one can have personal relationship with him – as a member of a group or an individual.

Deism more or less asserts that the divine is real, but beyond the Christian definition and not amenable to direct concrete personal apprehension. This is closer to the mystical sense that the divine is incomprehensible.

In effect the god of the monotheists is a residue of polytheism – when a creator god was a named part of a hierarchy of divine agents. The transition from polytheism to monotheism in the Old Testament was a fraught business. Back then it had the function of uniting a people under a common theology.

The usual interpretation of the Christian God will be used here, contrasted by the ‘divine’ (neither knowable nor describable).

These days there is talk among serious thinkers and scientists about the idea that consciousness may underpin all reality. This is closer to the idea of the All, or the One of some mystical traditions – the divine as fundamental, not made, with no beginning or end, and the source of all. Calling this God is just confusing. It’s a term best surrendered.

But notions of non-material beings of great scale are claimed – gods? In a sense – but only a confusing one for now. 

The fundamental pervasive consciousness of being, ‘the One’ is vast beyond comprehension. Intelligent agents function as beings ‘of the One’, not ‘as the One’. 

In a very real sense, the God of Christianity fits into this group – if he exists, which is doubtful on the evidence.

The faithful, possessing only that erroneous conflation of their God with ‘the One’, engage in persistent errors of misattribution. All communication and revelation come from God Almighty. It cannot be any other way. All else is evil.

It is time to let it go

Christianity established itself as an immensely powerful, but flawed, instrument of political, social, intellectual, and moral evolution for around at least 1200 years. It is tempting to be just flat out down on Christianity, citing a laundry list of crimes as proof it did no good. But that would be to deny history.

Western civilisation’s virtues are substantially courtesy of Christianity. That is not to say that Christianity is creator of those virtues – just the conduit.

As the faith cemented as social force it supplemented the essence of the Christian mystical message with a moral ‘get out of jail free’ card – the Old Testament. This is poorly explored in my view.

This is Matthew 12: 28-31 – One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Wikipedia notes – Most Christian denominations view these two commandments as, together, forming the core of the Christian religion. The second passage is considered to be a form of the Golden Rule.

From a mystical perspective this core value might be the foundation of a faith, but the presence of so many alternative sources of guidance meant it could be side-stepped without much trouble.

In fact, I have found few Christians able to quote ‘the greatest commandment’. One evangelical Christian I knew left his heavily highlighted Bible after he quit the faith. Matthew 12:28-31 was not among the highlighted passages.

I doubt if Christianity could have spread through Europe without the Old Testament. But in so doing it also carried the potent influence of the mystical ideals. This is the problem with history. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

So, it is obvious that our culture is sloughing off the Old Testament trappings of the faith – which is essentially the theology, dogma, power structures and hierarchies.

The surprising persistence of Love

Love is a focal theme in what is the Future Spirituality. If anything has transferred from Christianity it is this. It does not, however embrace the personality cult of Jesus – just that one simple theme.

Love per se is not a mystical affair. It is an attitude of mind and spirit. The Buddhists call it compassion. There is some hair-splitting as to whether Love and Compassion are the same, or Love is a step up. Personally, I think that is a pointless distinction.

The sad thing is that Christianity has so ill-served the theme of Love it is an awkward conversation topic these days. Yet it has endured the sleights of the faith’s hypocrisy and persists.

The new spirituality applies the term without sentimentality – as a fundamental human attribute needed in our spiritual evolution.


This is a much-vexed word for the obvious reason that it can be claimed with no foundation other than ardent belief. Hence it is mostly a garble of theology, dogma, and moralising.

Revelation is, obviously, what is ‘revealed’ to an individual via some form of communication with a non-material agent. To the faithful this must be God, directly or via an angel, or a saint. If what is communicated is unwelcome for any reason the source must be demonic.

While we don’t use the term these days, there are revelatory communications in abundance – usually described as ‘channelling’. Channelling can be pure bunk or immensely valuable – if you know how to tell the difference. Another source is direct experience from out of body encounters with non-physical beings.

Revelation has been a constant companion to humanity for a very long time. Because it can be evidence-free it can be a source of misinformation masquerading as truth. Lies are intentionally told by the agents influencing the channel. When done ineptly what is conveyed can be distorted beyond value – no more than projected self-delusions. When done competently it is an entirely different affair. Just not everything that comes from the ‘other side’ is true or good.

Competent revelation

I am suffering through Thomas Campbell’s second audiobook in his My Big Toe series at the moment. There is one more to go. Groan. The print version is only one volume (2007).

Campbell is espousing a Theory of Everything (TOE). His source is out of body experiences.  The content is very good, which is why I will endure to the end of the 3rd audiobook. It is a mixture of ideas drawn from tech, science, and psychology blended with a singular insight drawn from engagement with non-material beings. 

A lot of the content is surprisingly familiar to me. Maybe this is because I read Monroe first. It is fascinating to find it put together in this manner. So far, I have come across nothing that suggests to me that there is any fakery. In fact, Campbell appears to be delivering on his promise of a TOE in a compelling and sophisticated way.

I spent a few years researching ‘communicated’ teachings, including doing style and content analyses. Campbell’s work isn’t ‘communicated’ in the way that term is applied to channeled material. His content comes from his own OOBEs and the agents he met – so it has the same essential attribute of not having come from a material source. Campbell is ticking all the boxes so far. 

What I don’t enjoy is Campbell’s style. Maybe it serves other readers who have little or zero exposure to these ideas well. But being put off good content because of style is being a bit petty in my view. I am keen to get into audiobook #3.

Campbell was one of the originals with the Monroe institute. I recently revisited Monroe’s Journeys Out of the Body (1971), and his Far Journeys (1895). I then listened to Ultimate Journey (1995). 

I like Monroe at lot. He is methodical and rational to a high degree. Shortly after reading Journeys Out of the Body I had my own brief but utterly compelling OOBE. 

A few years ago, I discovered Frank DeMarco. Frank is also associated with the Monroe Institute. He produced several books with Rita Warren, who later died (2008) and became the source of information from ‘the other side’ in company with several non-physical agents known as The Guys Upstairs (TGU) who were introduced in the first couple of books. 

The content of DeMarco’s books is challenging on an intellectual and an emotional level. It is rigorous and coherent and demanding. No comforting homilies to be found. The best of DeMarco’s book may be a matter of taste. I like Its All One World (2019), Awakening From the 3D World (2017) and The Spere and the Hologram (2010).

For the sake of balance here, I must acknowledge that DeMarco also published Afterlife Conversations with Hemmingway (2012) which has awful reviews on Amazon. From what I can see few readers seem to accept the validity of the idea, or the content. They may or may not be right. I haven’t read the book or Hemmingway, so I can offer no opinion. DeMarco is a novelist and there is a chance the exercise was ill-advised and flawed. In any kind of ‘communicated’ writing the risk of personal distortion is real. It is a vulnerable art, the more so if personal investment creeps in. I was firmly told I was no good at it many years ago – my ego got in the way. I can see that DeMarco’s personal attachment to Hemmingway could have coloured what he wrote – but whether it did or not I do not know. I mention this only to affirm perfectly competent actors can still screw up – and that conveying ‘communicated’ ideas is no easy business.

In my earlier inquiry into ‘communicated’ content I discovered Stewart Edward White. White was a prolific novelist who wrote between 1900 and 1947. White and his wife, Betty, produced 2 early books on communicated material (1925 and 1928). 

Between 1939 and 1947 they produced 7 more books of communicated work. The two most important books were The Betty Book (1939) and The Unobstructed Universe (1940). I have not read the others. Both books are rigorously rational and intellectually and emotionally challenging. Like DeMarco’s work we are introduced to assisting agents – the Invisibles. 

What is interesting about Campbell, Monroe, DeMarco and White is they are not evidently religious, and all have a rigorous rational intellectual approach, with a scientific bent in the case of Campbell and Monroe. None conveyed any interest in spirituality or mysticism as a belief system. White clearly had an interest in communicated teachings and Monroe, Campbell and DeMarco were all connected with the Monroe Institute (est. 1974), which was set up as a research body.

A new canon?

Taken together these authors articulate a series of highly coherent ideas that convey precepts already cemented in spiritual traditions, but in a language that is distinctly modern, secular, and rational.

There are no exhortations to belief, expectations of faith. The content is conveyed with confidence. The reader can do with it what they will. 

None set up a movement. I don’t call the Monroe Institute a movement. Apart from book sales none appear to have profited from their content. To be fair, I have really drilled down into Campbell. I just don’t expect his content would induce a fan base to form – at least not one that wasn’t nerdy. 

The contents of these books open up a novel take on human spirituality in that it is laid out in a disciplined rational and secular fashion. 

They are by no means the only sources. These are just the ones that spoke to me most powerfully. Readers may be aware of others.

The truths that form the foundation of human spirituality have not been transformed. If anything, they have been given greater depth and complexity. What had changed is the manner of thought – a full transition out of mythos, metaphor and narrative into structured and reasoned reportage and analysis. 

Is it a journey worth taking? 

Most spiritual seekers remain anchored in mythos, metaphor and narrative – the old ways. Stepping away will be neither easy nor comfortable. 

If there is any anxiety about the unfamiliar style and content, it can be easy to find an excuse not to continue. 

I didn’t get into this material intentionally. I was quite happy swaddled in the old ways, while also being discontented. I discovered White because I was researching a problem, not because I was yearning for something new – well, not consciously at least.

My first-hand encounter with ‘channeling’ convinced me there was something to it, but only after many months of critical evaluation.  I had the opportunity to have conversations with a non-physical agent for several years. At one stage, after being expelled from several occult groups for not being subservient, I asked what was going on. I was told that wasn’t my path. I can see now why that is the case. I couldn’t at the time. 

My issue with the occult groups was a lack of intellectual rigour. I found the same complaint when I got involved in Wicca. The rituals and the lore were just not enough. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the rituals. In fact, I loved them. I left these ways for something other – nothing I could define – just a hankering.

Now I see there always an alternative – when I was ready to grasp it. But that awareness dawned on me slowly and painfully. I was heading in the right direction all the time like a man feeling his way in thick fog. Now that fog is thinning.

Is it worth the effort and the risk? That’s a personal choice.


Western culture has been shrugging off mythos, metaphor, and narrative in favour of reason and science for centuries. Reason freed from the conceits and dogmas of materialism has brought many back to the spiritual, and has this led to hybrid movements being formed. We have seen this early on with Theosophy and Wicca. Affirmation of the reality of the spiritual dimension has led to an attempt to revive and reform the old ways. The Gold Dawn is a good example. Theosophy, the Gold Dawn and Wicca were movements that attracted the well-educated as they struggled to find an alternative to Christianity.

But that hybridization is transitional, and as we move forward those old transitional ways and styles will be less and less useful – and new ones will be developed.

For some there is an opportunity to take a bold step and sever connection with how things used to be thought of and done. They may become pioneers in the next steps of this transitional phase.


I use links to Amazon only because they provide the most comprehensive information on publications. Because of a grip disability I prefer audiobooks and kindle – which are mostly only available on Amazon. Please support your local independent bookstore if possible.

  • Robert Monroe’s books
  • Thomas Campbell books
  • Frank DeMarco books
  • Stewart Edward White books
  • The Unobstructed Universe and the Betty Book are available as downloadable PDFs from Project Gutenberg:
    • The Betty Book here
    • The Unobstructed Universe here

On the dreaming path


In the late 1970s I was introduced to ritual magic and was promptly motivated to question the assumptions that were made about practices developed in the northern hemisphere and their application in the southern hemisphere.

I am a long-time, but futile, campaigner against how the Australian Christmas was celebrated – at the wrong time of the year and with symbols that did not fit. I have long craved an authentic Australian spirituality in which our place here is acknowledged and owned as a real presence in a real landscape and a proper season.

I have been reading on Indigenous culture and tradition for many years – out of a need to better understand the Indigenous inhabitants of a land white people decided they should settle on. As a teenager who went bush in Tasmania as often as I could I had a profound sense of being embraced by the spirit of the island. There was no sense of adopting archaic and traditional ways. They were too alien to me. I needed to craft my own sense of relationship and connection. But my psyche was filled with the lore of the UK, and I had to disrupt that.

An Aboriginal friend alerted me to Paul Callaghan’s (with Uncle Paul Gordon) The Dreaming Path, released as an audiobook on 1 July 2022. I finished it yesterday (6 July). Here I want to reflect on that book.

The author and the book

Paul is a Worimi man with a diverse professional background who now runs Callaghan Cultural ConsultancyWorimi country extends from Foster/Tuncurry south to Port Stephens on the New South Wales coast.

Paul had a nervous breakdown and part of his recovery involved reconnection with country and culture through his relationship with Uncle Paul Gordon. This book reflects strongly on that process of recovery.

The Dreaming Path is centred on Indigenous culture, tradition, and beliefs, but Paul refers a far wider, but predominantly European, array of sources – spiritual and philosophical. In doing so he did two important things for me:

  1. He anchored Australian Indigenous law and lore within a shared heritage of Indigenous peoples (of which we white people remain heirs – if we understand our pre-Christian cultural roots.
  2. In so doing he made it possible to think the ideas he presents as a common heritage, rather than a matter of cultural appropriation. He offers nothing that would encourage such appropriation in any case.

The truths are shared but culture is particular

I have read in many traditions. I developed a particular affection for Taoist and Zen thought, but never felt even slightly motivated to adopt either as a belief system or lifestyle. I am flat out of Irish stock, with maybe a wee taste of Scottish. But I live in neither culture.

My parents arrived in Australia with me and my twin sister in 1955. Some time in 1956 I had an experience that anchored my spirit in this country. We were living on a sheep station in western Victoria, and I wandered away from the adults up a track. The country had been eaten down to bare earth by sheep. Their dung was everywhere. The sun was hot. I remember the call of crows and the smell of a sheep carcass somewhere on the wind. There was a pond or pool with a fringe of grass. In the pool 2 snakes swam. I gazed upon them in wonder, transfixed. My mother’s frantic voice cut through my trance. History? I don’t know. But that memory has been with me ever since. It was the day my spirit was joined with this land. It changed me.

I was who I was. I had my history as a stranger in this very strange land. I have never wanted to be anything else other than a white fella in this place – owning who I was, and the history of the culture that brought me here. My culture’s history makes me feel conflicted. I have needed to stare it in the face and acknowledge what it is – and how it has shaped me.

Learning about, and practicing, Wicca was a huge growth for me. I could trace my present passions and sensibilities back to my own genetic and cultural heritage. As I listened to The Dreaming Path I heard stories, values and practices that were familiar.

As Paul observed – if you have connection with country, and you rely on country to sustain your life, your values will be the same.

Universality of message

The Dreaming Path is a handbook on how to live well as an individual, as a community member, and as one living on country. It cuts through historical and cultural baggage to remind the reader that humans were once all dependent on country and, as such, shared a common ethos expressed in spiritual and culture laws and lore. Specific cultural traditions will vary, but they all have that common foundation.

What The Dreaming Path does most potently for me is remind me that the foundation of the values to live well are a common human heritage, and that they were here in this country when we arrived here. Why look elsewhere?

We in the ‘advanced’ west are forever looking backwards for our spiritual values. Christianity is 2,000 years old. Buddhism is older, as are other Eastern philosophies and traditions. The Western Mystery Tradition harks back to Ancient Egypt. Wicca goes back to pre-Christian times in Europe.

Paul Callaghan reminds us that what we can find in those sources we can find in Indigenous Australian lore and law. We can find what we need in our own country.

But we have to be fully here. We can’t tap into what we need if we insist on enacting rituals and ceremonies that are out of synch with place and time. We can honour our European roots, but we must equally honour our antipodean realities, if not more so. We can bring memories of elsewhere with us, because they are part of who we are, but we must knit them into landscape, climate, season and culture of where we are now.

In 1997 I travelled back to my birthplace in Northern Ireland. When I left Australia in 1996, I happily, if not proudly, proclaimed myself Irish. Thirteen months in the UK taught me I was not at all Irish. I may have been born there, but not an atom of my physical body was Irish. Nothing of my cultural upbringing was Irish – it was way more British. I was, in fact, completely and utterly Australian – physically, mentally and spiritually. I had to leave to discover that.

In Northern Ireland, on the righthand side of Tullygandary Road as it snaked out of Newtownards, I sat on a pile of stones on a February night under a crisp clear sky. I sent my spirit into the earth, questing. This is what I found in my imagination – a nest of 3 dragons. One stirred languidly and said “What are you doing here? There is nothing here for you. Go home.” That confirmed what I was sensing. I had no purchase here. Home was Australia.

The message of spirit is not dependent upon place or time or culture or tradition. I am not saying these things may not matter, just that they do not have to do so.

The Dreaming Path is a universal message. It just happens to have an Australian theme. It is, thus, Indigenous without being specifically Aboriginal. True, the Aboriginal theme is present, but there is no hint of cultural adoption. 

Time to get real

It is important to set the record straight. The deep age of Aboriginal culture is distorted in the eyes of The Enlightenment mentality as a failure to evolve through mental and moral failings. Rather than seeing a highly sophisticated lifestyle, what we saw was, in the language of the day, the primitive lifestyle of “savages” tens of millennia old. But over scarcely 2 centuries later, we newcomers have done incalculable harm to country and its inhabitants.

It is clear that the early ‘settlers’ saw this land as a distant version of England, one that required no significant adaptation. We imported plants and animals and cultural traditions and beliefs. In the south we clung to northern ways. I recall a Christmas in western Victoria. We sat on a stifling summer’s day in a kitchen with a wood fired stove to eat a northern baked meal. Our neighbours were outside under canvas, to ward the sun off. They had a southern light meal. The kids my age had a paddling pool. All I had was sweat.

I want to be here wholly. I do not want the sentimental trappings of Europe hanging here. That much I think I owe the indigenous spirit of this land. Christmas on 25 June with no fools in Santa suits. No reindeers, no snow, no yule logs. Of course, what is seasonal on that date is okay. But no Christmas on December 25! It’s a seasonal festival, not a birthday. The birthday colonised a seasonal festival. So, it can surrender it just as well. 

And Easter in September too. This fertility festival celebrating the arrival of the northern spring became host to the drama of the resurrection because the theme of a ‘rebirth’ suited both. This a universal theme as a seasonal festival, though in some climates that ‘rebirth’ is less dramatic. Likewise, the spiritual ‘rebirth’ is universal. It’s just that not all traditions treat it the same.

Christianity is riddled with pagan festivals and traditions, celebrating place and time and season. Christianity has colonized pagan festivals, gods and heroes. We who are not Christian need not abide by old habits. We can create new ones that more fully acknowledge our debt to, and dependence upon, this country. We owe it truth, surely.

I do not have an antithesis toward Christianity. It’s just not my faith. That’s it. The fact that many of its major festivals are aligned to northern pagan seasonal festivals means that can share equinox and solstice times of celebration, each on our own terms, and in our own ways.

But I do have an antithesis toward the unwillingness to formulate a clearly southern hemisphere spirituality that is aligned to our seasons and uses our symbols and images. The degree to which our religious/spiritual beliefs are rooted in country and the natural world is little acknowledged.

North v South

We from the north cannot abandon our traditions utterly. Our psyches are too attuned to them. We cannot surrender the reside of our pagan past for Aboriginal traditions and symbols. But we can intentionally move toward being more fully here. That doesn’t mean ‘going native’, and certainly not engaging in cultural appropriation, but it does mean being more fully open attuning ourselves spiritually to where we are – and allowing ourselves to being changed in an adaptive way.

I have no doubt that some people are doing that in various and individual ways. But I am not seeing evidence of successful melding, just a sympathetic leaning in the desired direction.

We of northern extraction must be more fully conscious of living south. For example, we think of clockwise as a particular direction without being aware that it is derived from the direction of the sun in the sky in the northern hemisphere – it is sunwise. In the south the sun moves across our sky in a direction we would call, with our northern condition,anticlockwise – antisunwise.


The Dreaming Path was a liberating experience for me. Paul opened up a perspective on Indigenous spiritual lore and law I was unaware of. Yes, it is universal, but it is also Indigenous. We can be specifically Australian in our spirituality in a way that links us to Aboriginal culture and tradition (but without risking cultural appropriation), to the Indigenous people across the planet, to our own deep cultural traditions – and in a way that accords with contemporary aspirations. We are able to link the deep past (epitomised by Australia) with the present.

And the strange thing? There’s nothing astonishing, nothing that taxes us mentally in the book. We may be taxed by the demand for personal authenticity, however. There isn’t a mystery at this level. That’s not to assert that there are not levels of mystery, just that they are not necessary to living a good life – which must be the foundation of anything before we go beyond.

My first reaction, as I listened to the book, was who is this for? Aboriginal people who had lost connection with culture, country, and law? White folk in need of spiritual reconnection?

At the end, I decided the answer is ‘most of us’ – if we have the humility to be open.

Paul straddles the north/south boundary. He opens up an opportunity for a dialogue through which the law keepers of the Australian Indigenous tradition may offer what is okay for northern oriented people to adopt and adapt from southern and Australian Indigenous thought.

It’s a conversation I’d like to be a part of it. It is the root of any serious effort at what we call ‘reconciliation’, but more importantly it is about laying the foundation for an Indigenous southern spirituality. Yes, this is universal in essence, but we need to evolve a culture which has traditions and symbols that are wholly present here.

The Betty Book Revisited Part 3


This last instalment centres on the theme of conscious spiritual connection by looking at the essential elements of personal aspiration.

The Excerpts

The backbone of consciousness

  • “Experiment! Experiment! And live in constant association of mind with the tremendous power of spiritual force until it becomes the backbone of your consciousness.
  • It’s life giving quality is the richest gift you can pass on.
  • It is second-hand inspiration. The main thing is to help people to get it first hand. 
  • But sometimes you can’t – it is too unaccustomed.”


The cultivation of habits of thought, and association with higher ideas and ideals, will create a strong ‘backbone’ to character. Encourage the same in others.

Spiritual stamina

  • “Now we show you the condition,” they concluded, “take hold of it. Construct your plan of action. Take hold with boldness. Fortify against yourself, your weaker self.
  •  Breathe life, determination, enthusiasm into this plan. 
  • Hold your forces clearly vibrant not enervated with diluting thoughts. The main danger is apt to be loss of stamina. 
  • Maintain your vigor. Your strength is your concentration on your spark of enlightenment. Fan it into a flame.”
  • That is what you work with. You cannot let that die, or smoulder. Keep fanning it; that spark is your spiritual energy. 
  • What’s your foredetermination, particularised foredetermination, not just hazy? Work over it carefully as you would an architect’s blueprint. that is vitalised thinking, a creative thinking.
  • There’s substance to it. Make a start of materialising to yourself, analysing, grasping, taking hold of materials at hand, and fashioning something out of them. 
  • Thought is the material, but not speculative thought, positive building. It seems to be all grasp, taking hold of a few things you’ve got, and grasping them in holding onto them, and bye and bye, you’ve shaped something.
  • Constantly uphold the strength of an unconquerable spirit.


The challenge is to be focused in the right way, to maintain the best commitment you personally can. It isn’t easy. It takes real effort.


  • “The whole thing is the matter of Attention. All sorts of things are always swarming around you as thick as can be, but less you give them your attention, they can have no point of contact with you. 
  • Anything you give your attention to is magnetically yours.
  •  So the only way to reorganise yourself is to regulate your attention. That maintains your altitude of mind.”
  • “This sort of attention is exactly the same as looking at things. It is only the things you look at that really register.”
  • “If you had to copy a thing you would look at it long and hard; a glance wouldn’t do you any good. 
  • So if you want to become anything, you must keep looking at it, not just vaguely and generally, but fixedly, so you can reproduce it. That is Attention.
  • “I wish I could find a bigger word than Attention; It is so important.”
  • In the external as well as the mental world, the same principles obtain.
  • “They’re not asking me to give up all the little dinky- drinks I have to do,” said Betty at one time. “They don’t care WHAT WE DO, IT’S HOW WE DO.”


Choosing what we spend our time on – thinking about, or doing, shapes our capacity to grow spiritually.

Intelligent cooperation

  • That brings us back to the specific instance: the development of Betty as a station.You remember the explanation of the slow and difficult progress as an attempt to get away from “spontaneous or spasmodic” phenomena to an “intelligent cooperation.”
  •  If on the basis of seventeen years’ experience I were to indulge in prophecy I would say that the future of both fluency and accuracy would depend on: 
    • (a) development of the station’s sympathetic receptivity so that he will catch the impressions as rapidly as an engine receives the two or three thousand sparks a minute that drives itself smoothly and untiringly; 
    • (b) the extension of the station’s equipment so that the translation will be both instantaneous and accurate;
    •  (c) the strengthening of the Invisible’s veto power, so that it, to, will act instantly and smoothly to depress all the words that rise to the magnitude of an idea save the one desired. Then we should have true communication. 
  • The lnvisible may then be said to control directly, in the same sense that we control directly the forming of words with a pencil. WE Do not drive the pencil: the hand does it, controlled by and obedient to ourselves


This is about the development of the ability to ‘channel’ communications. It begins with a ‘spontaneous’ contact in the first instance. It can never be something sought out. One can only makes oneself fit for purpose. This idea of intelligently cooperating with spiritual agents is difficult, yet if we wish to become conscious of deeper knowledge and insight that is not distorted it is necessary.

Genuine contact

  • Incidentally this automatic action seems to be a law that follows all effort, putting forth of volition. 
  • Whenever a thing is desired enough (and is responsive) to calls and (the) outgoing of determination automatic action begins.
  •  Thus on each act of will depend many things. 
  • That is outside the scope of our present discussion: but later in these pages the working with the law will recur many times: so its just as well to get the idea now.


The desire for spiritual, contact seems to be obedient to a law, part of which concerns the character and nature of act of will intended to bring about that contact.

Do not strain

  • This is a slow process, many times it will seem foolish to you, and the hope for any results will appear fantastic. 
  • Remember that this must be not only a gradual natural growth, but also often requires stimulation to overcome arrested development of dormant facilities. 
  • Do not anticipate results.
  • Take the rewards as they come; and there are such rewards every step.
  • One more warning repeated before going into the first effects of establishing spiritual contact. DO NOT STRAIN.
  •  “The moment you try to create, to pump up, to reach for definite things, you are in grave danger. 
  • You may get almost anything. 
  • Better to stay asleep on earth, far better. You’ll never get anywhere if you are thinking of what you’re going to get. In that case you will be just a curiosity seeker. 
  • It is deadly hopeless to try that. 
  • You’ll be led to a blind alley and left there. That is done with so many people!”
  • “Belief in the attainability of higher powers is a legitimate ambition, but they must be grown into faithfully. 
  • The amateur method of seeking growth or spiritual freedom is by terrible concentration of mind, but this must also be replaced by an expansion of the heart.”
  • “How can I bring you strongly enough to this first principle. It is to expand in spirit, not intellectually. 
  • The spirit is usually like a desiccated fruit inside the brain. Let your spirit soak up in a simple and pleasant fashion until it is a fitting mate for your brain. 
  • Lay bare your problems to the influence of the great expansion which will bring your solution. 
  • This is the only real channel which will bring permanent wholesome psychic influence.
  •  It is the safe and open highroad.”


It is by effort of heart, not brain that the object is attained – and that is not a thing that can be forced or strained at. It is a natural unfolding of love, essentially, that is required.

The Great Formula

  • “Do not forget how you do it; through strength of desire to serve, through vigorous encircling action, through overflowing faith, through vision of reality, through union with spiritual law and purpose, through understanding of temptation and resistance, through magnifying to each his own soul. 
  • Through all these you find your way to the comprehension of the divine life.”


The language is maybe hard on modern eyes, but the message clear enough. 


In my original reading of The Betty Book I found confirmation that spontaneous inducement to speak or write as a means of communicating the direct thought of non-physical agents was real. The idea itself was not alien to me. Back then my girlfriend and I had started moving within a community in which such ideas were readily accepted – but often uncritically. In fact, the content of this book would have been challenging to many of our peers. They favoured a magical, rather than a spiritual, orientation. That is to say they favoured head, rather than heart, stuff – knowledge and techniques that promised access to power. Ultimately, we abandoned that path, because it lacked a deeper moral compass.

Back then I was by no means a paragon of virtue. I had profound psychological growth to undergo – and that took a few more decades. But I had a deep sense that the knowledge/power path was not right for me. It was intellectually stimulating for a while, but then I started to ask questions about purpose and meaning that were not welcomed. 

I think that when I first read this book, I was not capable of seeing the deeper narrative. It served my immediate purpose, and that was enough. Over the ensuing 40 odd years the book has retained a hold on me. One part of me knew it had more to offer. Now I see a simple clarity, a little tangled up in language and style. It is important to forgive that and see it only as the dross of ages concealing a real enduring gem.   

I am now motivated to read the book again. As I reviewed these essays, I recalled that all they were was a sampling of the deep thoughts of the original book, not a complete exposition of the ideas offered by the Invisibles. My goal was summarising some key ideas that might excite a reader to read the whole thing.

If the reader is interested in reading the Betty Book and has difficulty in finding a copy, I do have a PDF version. If you want a copy contact me – [email protected]

The Betty Book Revisited Part 2


This second instalment focuses on the mechanisms of self in the world, leading to greater self-awareness. It considers the motive forces of desire and will, and then how they can be marshalled to lead to a balanced and harmonious life.

It also addresses the idea of an enduring self, and how it may more effectively be the guiding influence in life in the material world.

The Excerpts


  • You get nowhere at all unless you desire. You do not move your little finger unless you have a definite wish to do so; you do not swallow, look, shift position, speak, understand, perform any activity whatsoever, physical or mental, unless you have first sent out from within yourself a self-originated impulse that starts the machinery. 
  • The force used, the mechanism employed, maybe altogether an outside thing. It is possible for a child’s hand on a lever to accomplish mighty results, but the origin of it all is desire for something, on the part of one man or many. That is the thing that is born within the human being, mysteriously, out of nothing
  • Now according to this philosophy every desired, when it is a definite outgoing desire, produces an impetus. This is true whether or not that desire produces any apparent effect. 
  • Before it can result in an action it may be inhibited, or it may encounter opposing forces that nullify it. 
  • But in the substance of thought – an idea we have examined – an impetus is produced – that proceeds on In its own direction and according to its own laws until its forces exhausted or until it is destroyed or deflected by other influences.
  • It may be likened a child’s mechanical toy that runs when you place it on the floor, until the power of its mainspring is exhausted; or the ripples from a stone cast into water. 
  • The strength and vitality of that impetus depend on the intensity and vitality of the desire and the clarity of the perception.
  • That proposition, then, is simple enough in its initial statement. In its ultimate results it becomes complicated beyond present human understanding. 
  • The billions of crosscurrents that setup of impetuses, old and nearly spent or new and vigorous; feeble in their inception or powerful; solitary or united; running with or counter to one another, make for a bewildering tangle. 
  • The ultimate effect is probably under some law, but that law we did not now at present


Desire is a force – a impetus – not an abstract notion. As to whether it is finally effective depends upon the intensity and vitality of the desire and the clarity of perception. But in a world of billions of desires we are in the midst of a bewildering tangle that constitutes the foundations of much of our complex human activity.

For Buddhists, desire is the source of suffering – and if we identify with the energies of desire that we send forth, vesting our sense of meaning and worth in them, it is easy to see that that can be the case. 

However, here desire is the foundation of action, and the issue is not desire per se, but its quality (in terms of intent and execution).

Spiritual Impetus

  • Each person has his own individual spiritual impetus which he makes from whatever genuine aspirations and desires he may possess. 
  • “The will” they told us, trying to define this out-reaching desire that results in impetus, “is separate from either the mind or the brain, it is the driving force of the being, that makes you decide for or against. It is what you build with. Is the conscious part of your soul. Will is a poor name for it, but we have no better. 
  • You measure growth against it as you measure a child backed against a door. It is like a number you are labelled with, what you amount to, your measure.” 
  • By this inner and individual thing, that is yours personally and can be set in motion by no one else, you build your personal impetus.” 
  • You get yourself a certain individual power formula: it produces a certain result. That is impetus.
  • “Unless something happens to stop that impetus or deflected, it will carry you along its appointed route until the force is spent.”
  • Thus a very large percentage of your present life is made up of unspent impetus brought into being by the desires of your past life. 
  • Only a small percent is fresh impetus. 
  • In that fashion you are increasingly a slave of your past, unless by new and strong desire you create new impetus that shall override the old.
  • “But,” say they, “You can change the formula you have made for yourself. The development quality it can put forth in new impetus is exactly according to the inspiration with which you combine it.”
  • Therein lies man’s control over what he calls destiny.
  • “Destiny,” they define it,” is the spending of impetus unarrested by spiritual consciousness.”


Here a deeper spiritual impetus (will) is contrasted against desire, whose roots are shallower (driven by more facile motives?). It seems we have two sources of impetus that we must strive to fuse into one.

Spiritual contact through prayer

  • Next, as the first contribution to its meaning, assemble under it all that you have come to understand as the process of seeking spiritual contact and permeation. 
  • This process constitutes the first step in ALL constructive prayer. “In that phase,” said the Invisible, “It is an assembling and offering up of your best self for union with the Overstrength. 
  • Only when this has been made habitual are we ready to proceed further.
  • “It is only by the strength of this contact that you gain the courage for the second step; to plumb the depths and know yourself. It is the inspiration that quickens your perception. 
  • You cannot plunge all at once into a knowledge of your spiritual lacks, because that MUST come gradually.”
  • “These two levels of prayer we must learn to perceive and use before they can give us more.” Betty ended.
  • When the subject of prayer was first presented to us as such, the first step -the spiritual contact step – was re-expressed in terms which might be illuminating to quote here. In essence, they told us, it is merely a spiritual association approached with human warmth of desire; And amounts in the long run to a great lifelong companionship.
  • “I don’t understand that,” said Betty, “I’ll review it.” “I approach divine companionship in prayer as I reach for warm friendship,” she went on after a pause, ”only with greater expectation.”


The foundational idea of prayer here is first to offer your ‘best self’ in seeking companionship, and then dare the journey of self-examination and awareness. When that has been attained there is more to come.

The spiritual body

  • The spiritual body, we are assured, is indestructible. It may be, as Betty saw it, crippled, embryonic, incomplete; but such as it is, it endures.
  • Furthermore, whatever we may add to it in the way of development is an everlasting possession. 
  • We may go our ways deliberately blind, deliberately neglectful, willfully procrastinating, self centered, even antagonistic.
  • These things may form over our real selves a crust that will stop growth. They may act on us, and on others about us, in unguessed ways through long vistas of time. 
  • Their effects we will have to liquidate, with compound interest. 
  • Their iron construction we will have to dissolve before again we can expand. 
  • But they cannot destroy. 
  • Whatever of the spiritual body is in ourselves-even in crudest embryo-is ours forever, on which sometime or other, when we have resolved ourselves free, we shall build


Our true nature is indestructible, but in our developmental stage we can find ourselves with intended and unintended self-imposed limits, from which we must eventually escape.


  • “So few people have any grand plan,” said the Invisible. “they can’t make any form for you because they haven’t any. That is what character is, SHAPE.”
  • “This is like those confusing maps where they colour the water and leave the land blank. It is reversed. The intangible unfleshed things, honour, character, confidence, all such things, should be visualised with shape, a substance.”
  • “That is the way our lenses actually perceive you,” answered they, “we cannot see you, as you see yourselves, without your physical eyes. 
  • Our eyes are for the enduring different kind of body. Our eyes make real to you the intangible qualities which you call spiritual. 
  • Only strainingly do we perceive the material.”


Here character is described as Shape – something that can be perceived from ‘the other side’. It’s a useful way of thinking about character in general – since we already tend to use visual metaphors – like colourful. 


  • “You see, everybody really wants stability; and they always recognise a person who has it. If you have something they haven’t, but want, they’ll pay attention to you. 
  • And if they haven’t it and DON’T want it, but you make them feel it, then they’ll begin to want it. You make your stability by spiritual contact. Then somehow the response to that contact must be shared.”


Here I see stability as the absence of extremes -a kind of centredness – a calmness of spirit – peacefulness.


  • “The balanced proportion of life is the first thing to impress on the world,” they said. “Balance is the big thing to emphasise. 
  • The world is crippled now because it has withered spiritual faculties.
  • “That should be,” they explained further, “a certain working proportion between what we call the material and what we call the spiritual. If that proportion is overbalanced ON EITHER SIDE trouble always results.”
  • By attainment of the right proportion we shall in one way or another gain all things worthwhile in this life and the next.
  •  In fact, on the whole, the problem of successful living can be expressed in that one simple formula: attain actively the proportions of life.
  •  “The rounding out of proportion is the foundation of everything.” they told us. As a general proposition that sounds broad and simple enough.
  • But when we approach the problem in search of detail, then we find ourselves in face of the greater mysteries. how’s the proportion wrong, as to the world; how is it wrong as to me? How was the balance to be struck?


Here it can seem that our propensity for materialism has unbalanced our ways of being in the world. The solution is not the abandonment of the material, but the restoration of spiritual influences to tip the balance toward attainment of the proportions of life.

The habit of spiritual thought

  • “It is an HABITUAL SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS they are after,” Betty reported one time. “the gaining of this does not mean straining or striving; 
  • It is more a matter of how frequently you think of it, just leave it calmly and comfortably. Walk your days as a creature with folded wings, conscious of the position of another element and the ability to enter it.
  • When worries in the world annoyances come, you can rise strongly indeterminately, spend a few moments in calm, and at once descend reinforced to the object in hand
  • “The thing is not to settle down into yourself, but to be always dependent on the companionship of your spirit, that seems to be just above the surface, like a mooring, or buoy.
  • The soul has to live in the body, ordinarily; but in this way you make your body live with your soul.”


Nothing says it more clearly than the last 2 dots points – banish the illusion of self-alone and dwell in a companionship – a partnership of aspects of one’s own consciousness.


For me these excerpts focus the essential attributes of a balanced and harmonious sense self in the world – of being in the material and the spiritual dimensions at the same time. They articulate a coherent sense of self – one that endures, even beneath the distractions, suffering and delusions that can blight and individual’s life.  

Revisiting The Betty Book – Part 1

New Introduction

Back in January 2019 I posted 3 essays based on The Betty Book by Stewart Edward White. The book is a classic of communicated writing, containing ideas of great sophistication. The key character, Betty, and began communicating in company with a body of more advanced entities, called the Invisibles.

On my reread, in 2018, I was struck by the remarkable similarity with Frank DeMarco’s works – his series of Rita books. Both White and DeMarco present challenging ideas ‘from the other side’.

Unlike much ‘channelled’ writing the content is mentally taxing and often confronting. Engaging with it, in my experience, is often difficult because I have found myself reacting to the content in ways that making staying focused hard.

Quite a lot of ‘channelled’ content I have explored has been hypnotic and emotional, with no real content of value. Most of it has been admonition only – something the ‘channeller’s own psyche has either completely made up, or so interfered with an original message it has been rendered useless.

New ideas, or new takes on familiar ideas, are a different matter. In this case, as with DeMarco, there is an acknowledged difficulty in translation – putting into words ideas formed where no words, such as we know them, exist. So not just new notions, but a challenge in expression as well.

White represents a further challenge as well. The Betty Book was published in 1937. The writing style has changed a great deal since then, and it will seem a lot out of date to many readers. 

I have reformatted the original text as dot points re make reading easier.

Do I believe what is written? Not necessarily. I don’t think it is a matter of belief. It is whether the content resonates with the reader – and it resonated with me.

Some mental and emotional effort is required in engaging with the text and the ideas it contains. For some, it may be rewarding.

Original Introduction

Back in the late 1970s my then girlfriend started to channel a discarnate entity (see earlier posts for more on this). She freaked out and thought she was going mad. On the other hand, I set out to do some research on the phenomenon. That’s when I encountered Stewart Edward White’s 1937 classic, The Betty Book. It was an account of another instance of the spontaneous development of the ability to convey thoughts from ‘the other side’.

I last read The Betty Book in the mid 1990s, and recently I decided to write a post on in it, for reasons that were not clear even then, just an urge. But as I started, I paused. It had been a long time, so maybe I should have a quick look to refresh? That was a good thing to do. It was nothing like I remembered! So, I reread it in its entirety, no skimming or skipping.

It was not an easy read. White is an accomplished author – his extensive body of works endure on Kindle. Maybe part of the problem is simply that, 70 years on, writing styles have changed and I am habituated to what is, for me, a more fluid style. However, another thing seems to be commonplace with writing that introduces new ideas – the thoughts need to be chewed over, and not simply swallowed. The reader has to work at the task of consuming the book’s content.

This time I made notes. Actually, I imaged the Kindle app’s page on my iPad, and used OCR to turn the quotes into Word docs, albeit with some persistent formatting issues. What I want to do here is provide a list of the captured quotes plus some commentary.

The reason I want to do this is that The Betty Book seems to me to lay out a perfectly coherent articulation of a vision of human spirituality that confirms understanding in the deeper esoteric tradition – and contradicts many other claims. The ideas merit re-engagement.

This exercise will be undertaken over 3 posts.  There seems to me to be 3 distinct phases in the book. I encourage readers read the words of the quotes deliberately and stay reacting to them while reading. Of necessity, a lot of material, that may elaborate on what is quoted, is missing. If you want to read the who text, you can buy a copy of the book or download it from sites like https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301111.txt

There are 3 voices in the text excerpts below – the author’s, Betty’s (as a participant in the process of communication) and “the Invisibles” (the present but unseen informants).

The excerpts

Uneven progress

  • Furthermore, the degree of our ability to deal with it is a pretty good indicator of how far we have travelled. 
  • For we have by no means come all the same distance. In evolution we do not advance in company front, but string out irregularly like a crowd going to a ball game.
  • “You all live together on earth at different levels – levels of consciousness, we mean.” the Invisible expressed this. “Certain prerogatives pertain to each level of capacity. 
  • Your voluntary capacity or the level you attain, contains certain growths, senses or prerogatives peculiar to that element, altitude, substance or level. This of yours is the level of dawning perception.”
  • In the course of our development, they went on, we progress from one level to another, like going upstairs. And each step must be lived out to the full before we can go on to the next.


It is, to me, a critical insight that our human family comprises people at different levels of development – or spiritual maturity. This has nothing to do with delineation by race or culture, but within cultures and communities. It means that some folk are motivated by high ideals and others by more fundamental imperatives, and neither is inherently better or worse than the other.

There is an implicit suggestion that each individual has to meet the challenges of their ‘level’ before moving on. This can be interpreted to mean there is an essential ethos, or morality, that guides human life.

There is no basis for judging another person as inferior – we are just at different stages on our own journeys.

The value of material experience

  • “There is so much leisure of mind and soul and time for your attitude toward people,” explained Betty, “none at all for getting things two cents cheaper at another store, and all those dinky-dinks. 
  • It’s like the difference in size between the fingers on a moving picture screen and human beings in the front row. I argue that I can’t live in the material world without doing many little things, and THEY argue that it is just what we are sent here for, to find out what things are worth doing and what are not. 
  • They have great respect for the material labour and necessities and such things; but they are only so important. 
  • They are not asking me to do what the big idealists have done, like Buddha or Confucius; throw humanity aside and walk with fixed gaze; but they ARE asking me to approximate that freedom. 
  • It’s a case of focus as near as I can come to it. 
  • You must change your focus so that all the little things near you will not look sharp and important.”


I am struck by the notion that we are sent here to find out what things are worth doing and what are not. It seems like such an innocent statement – until you think on it. Things are worth doing – but only up to a point. Where is that point? What do we invest in our material being as a priority – and when do we turn our energies inward and ‘upward’? 

Mind and body are one

  • Both mind and body are human manifestations of one reality, the human consciousness. 
  • The body is a material manifestation of the sort of consciousness that is human. 
  • The mind is a link between body and what we call spirit, or cosmic germ. 
  • Spirit or cosmic germ, the actual I AM of the individual, itself has a definite body, with weight, form count, colour, substance.


What we call mind, as we know it, arises as a node in our consciousness that is situated in relation to our physical being – it is aware of time and space and the necessities of being in material existence. While our consciousness operates in a larger domain, our present awareness (as mind) has a particular material angle only. 

The limits of the brain

  • We over here cannot work through the brain very well because of its great educational and perceptual restrictions. 
  • Don’t be so OFFENDED in your intellect. Give us a chance.
  • We won’t do more harm than present your precious intellect something for it to work on for the rest of its natural life. 
  • Leave it in to soak and keep it flexible, and we can go on. It’s bound to be satisfied later. 
  • When this becomes the leader of your intellect, it MUST immediately react on it; it MUST, just as the blood goes through your body to nourish all the parts.
  • I thought maybe I could make you see the point; it’s always a great stickler. That’s why I came. 
  • Working only in the limited knowledge of the brain is slow business. It takes generations to develop new respectable symbols.


The brain, as a physical thing, is shaped and configured by ‘education’ and experience. That means it is either responsive to, or unresponsive to, certain information or experiences. There’s a suggestion here that in consequence to exposure to some BIG IDEAS it will take quite time before desired effects manifest. This is an argument for developing habits of exposure to fine or noble notions, as opposed to base input (like porn or violence) if you want to change your mindset.

On the other hand, we are exposed to enriching ideas that register with our non-brain-based awareness – so we may end up in a kind of inner tension – of ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ kind. 


Heaven forbid that I should decry the human brain, but it should be proportioned. 

  • The eternal self must be developed as a fit controlling power.
  • In trying to act DIRECTLY on the highest – call it organ – possessed by man, his eternal spirit, we are constantly interfered with by the more developed, the more easily developed side of him which clamors, INSISTS on translating every instinct into its own language and limiting it to its own experience and comprehension; insists we should go no further than the facile ready-made symbols its world education sanctions. 
  • We have to ignore it as much as possible, keeping it quiet by systematically baffling its efforts at restriction.
  • Meanwhile, under this anaesthetic we work directly, stimulating the enduring part, trying to develop it. It should be the dominating part of man.
  • When this has been developed to its proper proportion, then the intelligence will have its innings again. 
  • The intelligence is an essential part of the whole, but it simply must be quieted down and made flexible in any way possible, in order that we may give insight beyond its comprehension.


It seems that efforts to stimulate us spiritually are often thwarted by our insistence on translating everything into physical terms – emotional, instinctual intellectual. You can see this as an explanation as to why religions turn out the way they do – converting high spiritual ideals into sometimes shameful brutalities, disgraceful enmities and mind numbing dogmas.

The higher faculty of perception isn’t framed in intellectual terms – and scarcely in language. If we are conditioned to internal dialogue (self-talk) as our norm it will be hard to escape the merely intellectual.

Perception beyond reason

  • An animal dwells in his equipment of instinct, sensation, emotion and habit; with fragmentary incursions into an adumbrated faculty of reason. 
  • Man uses these also; but he has moved the centre of his being more into the mental field, so that, as he develops, more and more intellect dominates his life.
  • But reason is not the end of the line. Beyond it lies perception. 
  • And, again as he develops, more and more will he transfer control, until eventually it will hold in his life the same dominant position he now accords to intellect. 
  • This thought, we are told, is not fantastic – as the ultimate possibility. 
  • Probably we, as individuals, in this present life, shall not reach any such attainment. 
  • But how many of us have got even as far as complete intellectual control? However, we can move along that path. We can increase, little by little, our use of perception in the management of our daily affairs.
  • And if we do so easily, normally, without forcing, without strain, we may astonish ourselves.
  • Mistakes? Of course! But, the invisibles pertinently remind us, what is our batting average of correct decisions of pure intellect.


I like this notion – that beyond intellect (which is a processing thing) is perception (which is awakening into knowing) – though I think there is some refinement in the definition of perception needed here.


This first instalment deals with some basic, but essential ideas:

  • We are at many different stages in our evolution as spiritual beings – so expectations and judgements must be tempered accordingly.
  • There is value in physical existence – it fosters a capacity for discrimination in action and desire.
  • Our minds are not our highest sense of awareness but are attuned to physical existence.
  • By education and experience our brains are configured in ways that can impede our ability to assimilate spiritual ideas.
  • As a result, spiritual ideas are translated into renditions that can debase and distort the intended meaning.
  • There is value developing refined habits of mind – of ‘soaking’ the brain in finer ideas so that the rigidities of education and experience will eventually soften.
  • The intellect is transcended by the capacity for perception.
  • Our goal should be to inhabit a state of perceptive awareness.

UFOs /UAPs a question of national defence? No


Over the past 12 months the USA government has been obliged to make public comment about UFOs. Its preferred term is UAP, which is even more non-specific – Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

This necessity has a risen because of the leaking of footage of UAPs taken by US military jets using probably the most sophisticated sensing hardware and software on the planet.

The US government, while insisting it still has no idea what a UAP is, asserts they are a potential (and unresolved) threat to national security. If that is a credible assertion, we can infer a threat to all of us.

However, it is not a credible assertion. Here I want to discuss why I think this.

The Report

On 25 June 2021 the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report titled Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. It was a surprisingly short document for such a monumental theme, running to only 7 pages, with 2 pages of appendices.

There was a flurry of public comment, but the report seemed to have disappointed popular media, and it soon disappeared from public consciousness. 

The essence of the report’s findings was:

  • There’s stuff happening.
  • We don’t know what it is.
  • We need more research, and more money to do it.

According to Wikipedia, “On 17 May 2022, members of the United States House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation held … the first public congressional hearing into UFO sightings in the US in over 50 years.”

The hearing perpetuated the national security threat theme. So, two public events in 12 months. Interesting.

The problem with this is…

UAPs have been in the public consciousness since 1947 when Kenneth Arnold introduced the term ‘flying saucer’. The US government has been involved, with some degree of public acknowledgment, in trying to figure out what UAPs are for at least 75 years.

The idea that they represent a possible threat to national security now, and more funding is required to do more research is so absurd it is either not true, or it is grossly incompetent – or a blend of both. I prefer not true.

The fog of the national security blanket

You can use the term ‘national security’ like an anaesthetic and put public opinion to sleep. It is also an excuse for saying nothing, revealing nothing and be as vague as all get out.

The inference is that UAPs constitute a potential military threat. However, that is nowhere explicitly stated. The audience is left alone to infer that – which it has done readily.

The absurdity of a military threat

The recent publicity re UAPs has come courtesy of leaked footage from military aircraft because this is compelling evidence that ‘something’ is going on. It does appear that UAPs have been intentionally engaging with US military aircraft and ships with increasing frequency in the past few decades. This may also be the case with other nations as well, but they are not saying so openly.

However, engagement with the civilian population has been reported for around 70 years as well. It isn’t unusual for an enemy to engage with an opponent’s civilian population to enlist them as allies in a possible invasion. But such action is predicated on a need to do so – as might be the case between near peer opponents. Not in this case.

The technological disparity between US military hardware and UAPs is stark. It has been over the past 75 years – and there is no evidence there has been any meaningful improvement in that difference.

It is a fair conclusion that if there was to be a ‘hot war’ between the US military and UAPs it would be short and catastrophic for the US military. This is an important consideration for two reasons:

  1. If UAPs were the product of peer, or near peer, nations like Russia or China, why would they ‘toying’ with the US for years, and not pressing their advantage in an effective geo-political manner?
  2. If the operators of the UAPs had hostile intent, why spend decades ‘toying’ with military forces while being friendly to civilians? At what stage would the plain military advantage be pressed – if that was the intent?

I have spent a few months on the unpleasant task of catching up on military hardware and method. I grew up with a passion for World War 2 war games, so I had a set notion in my head about capability and tactics. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have realised my understanding is utterly out of date.

What became apparent to me was that the evolution of our power to destroy continues in a disturbing fashion. If what is imagined comes to pass it will be far worse. However, looking at the disparity between our military capacity now and 75 years ago makes it apparent that the disparity between us and UAP operators is even greater. If they wanted to ‘invade’ we would be defenceless.

It is certainly not comfortable for any nation to be aware that it has no capacity to defend against a technologically advanced adversary – a situation most nations are in when considering human adversaries. It is far harder for a nation like the US, acknowledged as having the most advanced war fighting technology on the planet, to face this realisation.

Sticking to the idea of a ‘security threat’ as a military threat is convenient because it distracts attention from a far more challenging idea.

An existential threat?

We must ask what is the ‘security’ that is perceived to be under threat. It is not military or territorial so much as the conceit we are the superior beings on this planet, and we will stay that way.

In effect, our ‘normal’ is under threat. This is arguably our ‘security’.

There is no evidence I am aware of that the operators of the UAPs intend to change things any time soon. If they have an intent, it seems like a long game that appears to be about evolving attitudes and behaviours – rather than shifting them via radical disruption to our norms on a collective level. It is, however, certainly true that individuals have had their norms radically disrupted by encounters with the operators of the UAPs.


The US report mentioned above declined to talk about ET or aliens because, fair enough, there is no evidence ET operates the UAPs. This is true, so even if inferring ET operates them is on the money – and we confirm this in the future – we can’t say this is a fact now. There is no evidence peer war fighting nations operate them either. We do not know who does.

The term ET usually means beings not of this Earth, but from elsewhere in our realm of physical space – space people. But if we understand ET to mean just beings not of the Earth, without any assumptions, that can also mean elsewhere from other planes of existence as well.

Our habits are to imagine reality as an extension of the plane of existence (horizontal) we are on – unless we have cultivated an imagination that allows for other equally real planes of existence beyond our own (horizontal). The horizontal vector has been confined to religion, mysticism and shamanism, fairy tales and fantasy/sci fi. It exists in science also but hasn’t entered our shared imagination as a form of reality we can grasp. We haven’t yet developed a cultural narrative that blends science and technology with extra-dimensional realties.

ET as spacemen/women who come from elsewhere in our physical space may be a limiting idea we must abandon. However, we do not know where the UAPs come from, and so can make no firm opinion about who they are – unless we have direct knowledge.

There are claims made by people who insist they are in touch with ET. Most of the ones I have read are, I believe, delusional. The others are intriguing but without confirming content. There are tantalising hints – but nothing is being given away.

I do think people have been in contact with ET, and maybe they do know who they are and where they are from – and why they are here. But it’s not public knowledge yet.


The US government’s action over the past year seems like a watershed of some kind. There are a lot of YouTube videos exploring how real the UAPs are. They seem to have been prompted by the report. It is hard not to conclude that here are real phenomena whose nature and origin are not presently knowable – and about which we must pay attention.

The big question of intent is the problem. Takeover by force does not seem to be a goal. Nor does turning up to ‘rescue’ us or provide environment saving energy technologies. The intent is not evident, but can, I believe, inferred to some extent.

There is no concrete evidence about who operates UAPs. If the US military evidence is taken in isolation trying to imagine that peer war fighting nations may be responsible can seem plausible. But placed in a wider, and more appropriate context, we must imagine that ET is a plausible explanation as well.

I do not favour the peer war fighting nations argument because it does seem deeply implausible in the wider context. Better informed critics say the same thing. It is implausible because the technology gap is way too wide. It is deeply improbable that China or Russia would have obtained such a scientific and technological advance on the US without giving any clue. And the conduct of UAPs is not consistent with comprehensible conduct of an adversary. This conduct seems to be a lot of ‘messing with’ military assets, rather than being provocative in a military sense.

I favour the ET option because it makes the most sense.

What appears to be happening, from my perspective, is a stimulation to foster growth in awareness of what it is to be human. This isn’t always benign. ET can be a risk to us as individuals at times. Nor is there any assurance that all ET are ‘good guys’.

The theme is deeply complex, but many will try to render it as simple and concrete – ignoring it all is the easiest option. As an old sci fi devotee I am more disposed to see this in terms of potential benefit, as part of our shared evolution. As such, I do not expect it can, or will, be explained in neat and easy to digest ways. However, there may be signal events whose significance becomes apparent after the fact. I think US report and the hearing in the past 12 months are in this category.