Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive By William Dudley Pelley


Chapter I


Books on the conscious survival of the human soul after death are as old as Pythagoras. Pythagoras, just in case you have never heard of the gentleman, was a celebrated Greek philosopher. He was born on the island of Samos some six hundred years before Christ.

When I say that books on the conscious survival of the soul after death are as old as Pythagoras, I by no means write conventionally. Probably no man who ever lived, unless it be as an expert in matters of physical life and death and the capabilities of the soul fort functioning above morality than this celebrated Greek who traveled down into Egypt in his’ teens, put himself under the tutelage of Nilotic mystics and emerged in middle life to found the memorable colony of Crotona, in southern Italy.

Among the extraordinary doctrines that Pythagoras gave to the centuries were: Numerology—that numbers are the principles of all things—that the universe is a harmonious whole, that the heavenly bodies by their movements cause sounds, which produce the Music of the Spheres, that the soul is immortal and passes successively into many bodies and that the highest aim and blessedness of man is likeness to the Deity. Of course, little brainstrapped theologians of his day couldn’t see him for snakebite and had his colony raided in the most approved modern fashion. His buildings were burnt and his colony scattered. What actually became of Pythagoras himself was never found out. Some say he dematerialized. Some say he ascended, not unlike Christ. Some even go so far as to declare that he knew so much about the secrets of life and death that he had been able to keep himself alive since the fifth century before Christ and is going up and down the world as an apparently normal human being in garb of the present. Anyhow, Pythagoras applied himself systematically and scientifically to the great business of finding out precisely what the human soul is capable of doing under any and all conditions —even the conditions of vacating the moral body and losing it—and compiling a great library of lore for exceptional students who were by no means reluctant to explore those avenues of research. So when I remarked that books on the


Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

survival of the soul after death are as old as Pythagoras, I am really harking back to survival of the soul after death have been published with a fair degree of steadiness and consistence ever since—and doubtless they will go on being published till types and eggshell papers are no more. The reason for this lies in the fact that when a given person has actually started exploring for himself in valid mystical “dead” people have apparently conversed with him, his immediate reaction is to stumble wildly from the psychical laboratory and make for a typewriter with maximum speed. He wants to shout his discoveries to the universe on the somewhat naοve notion that he is the first man—or woman—in Cosmos to make them. Frankly, I set down in these opening pages of this personal testimony that I have been no exception to the impulse.


HAVING, up to the year 1928, lived nearly fort decades of entirely normal existence, raised as a lad in Methodist parsonage—as I shall doubtless have cause to refer to again—and embracing the calling of nondescript newspaper-man until I graduated into the more affluent vocation of magazine writer and novelist, I looked upon all attempts to prove communication with the so-called dead as the screwball futilities of manifest maniacs. My father’s orthodoxy had taught me ever since I left kilts —kilts being the substitute for rompers when I was very young—that “there is no voice or knowledge in the grave where thou goest.” In another place the Hebrew authorities said, “The dead know not anything.” That settled the matter. Who was I, or my father’s relations or colleagues in orthodoxy, to challenge the pronouncements of experts in Theology? As a matter of fact, I was far too busy being an ordinary young American with my own way to make, to give the slightest time or thought to exploring into what some call the Eternal Verities and settling the matter one way or another.

Thirty-eight years, to be exact, I was complacently oblivious to these vast fundamentals. True, a lot of things had occurred from time to time in my life for which I had no explanation, and some had fecundities to make my flesh crawl. But I had never awakened in the moonlight of early morning and seen a spook trying to stand on its head in my bedchamber. I had never been present at a single funeral where the deceased had suddenly sat up in his casket and cried with blinking eyes, “Hey, what goes on?” in fact, I had been inclined to think that ghost-layers and spiritualists of all breeds were the acme of fakers who should be dispos ed of upon demise in the conventional manner of drowning cats in bags. Put ’em in s sack, tie the top stoutly, drop ’em well weighted with stones in the nearest millpond, and then taunt ’em with the invitation to come back and haunt one.

Only once in my life had I been adequately terrified by supernatural phenomena—or what at first I took to be such—and that was a June night up behind the campus of Syracuse University, when I elected to stroll with a sweet young ca-ed through a moonlit cemetery. Believe it or not, while lisping fond


Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

nothings into her ear, mine eye caught sight of one of the gravestones moving. I stopped lisping my fond nothings and stared glassy-eyed. The gravestone was moving and there was no mistake about it. It was moving towards the pair of us, and when Cassie beheld it likewise she emitted a shriek and looped my neck crazily.

I aver that the gravestone levitated sown towards us in the moon glade, and when it got within ten feet of us, it emitted a most relieving and bovine “Moo!” it was an old white cow that had been cropping the cemetery’s sweet grass with its head down. All the same, I might add that I got the ’ell out of that cemetery by leaping all gravestone that were stationary—with Cassie clutched behind me in a smear.

Real supernatural phenomena, I repeat, had left me alone. It wasn’t until thirty-eight summers of wasted young career had fled, that I actually came to grips in California—and later New York—with Facts of Life that brought me up short and bashed me in the forehead.

But when they DID happen, it seemed that I couldn’t bawl about them loudly enough. I was like the usual human infant who makes the stupendous discovery that each foot on each ankle totals five toes per foot. I not only regarded this discovery as something never stumbled upon by the human race before, but I wanted to publish it in Gath and tell it raucously in the thoroughfares of Ascalon.

I did publish it in Gath and tell raucously in the thoroughfares of Ascalon. And after a time, as I continued to go from experience to experience and from experiment to experiment in various types of psychical research, I fear me that I acquired quite a bit of a notoriety about it. Back in 1941, when I was engaged in the bitterest kind of a political battle with predatory Marxists, I constantly met people who said: “We follow you in all your political and economic theories, and think you’ve done the country a splendid service by your publishing. But why have you ever let yourself become messed up in all this spiritualistic and psychical research tommyrot? Delving into such alchemistic nonsense, discounts and depreciates all the fighting you’ve done to save the Republic from the Communists.”

Well, it would take a long time to enlighten such critics as to why I may have done s o, and ten chances to one that they wouldn’t accredit me anyhow. But here’s the thing I’m getting at...


I FANCY that I’m growing a bit mellower and more rational, as the years rockalong, about all this psychic and mystic lore—and I can write about most of what I’ve experienced, now, in a relieving retrospect. As a matter of fact, I’ve reached the point in the compilation of my philosophy where there actually aren’t any “dead” to me, at all. Death simply isn’t much of a factor in my psychology. True, some of my most intimate friends frequently decide to embark upon Sabbath afternoon motor fides, approach grade crossings without nothing signal lights, and spatter


Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

generous consignments of their personalities over the pilots of locomotives. They are brought home in sections, even with sundry portions missing, and three days later I am summoned to follow my gift of flowers to some mortuary where a parson laments that Joe or Fred or Mabel has been “cut down” or “cut off” in his or her prime and that the ways of Providence are too abstruse to follow. There is not the slightest chance of arguing successfully that they are not “dead”, because one look in the box is all that is necessary to prove that they will never climb out of it and order another cheeseburger in a neighborhood Toddle House. Physically, of course, I must concede that what was moral of Joe or Fred or Mabel is more or less an exhibit of mundane debris. In that sense there is “death”. But spiritually speaking, I am finding myself no more impressed about all of it than I am impressed by the fact that the elm trees this autumn shed their summer leaves and will wave gaunt boughs to the American skies ’til about next April 10th.

If so be it I am in a psychical laboratory some night in the weeks succeeding, and Joe or Fred or Mabel “comes though” and cries through the lips of the Sensitive, “How’ya, Chief?” I’ll not be upset in the slightest. Ten to one I will respond: “How”ya, Joe”—or Fred or Mabel as the case may be, “—how’s the blooming temperature where you’re working from now?”

I don’t mean to be callous. I’m asking you, skeptic though you may be by reason of never having had my experiences with the “dead”, to accept for the moment that whether a person has got a body or hasn’t got a body, doesn’t alter my attitude toward him in the slightest. Why all this pother over physical bodies?

A body to me is an instrument, a mechanism, an overcoat, that the human spirit put on by birth and occupies and functions in, for a handful of years, in order to get results of a material nature in a world of concrete substances. Otherwise it is an annoying “hunk o’ lard.”

It takes a long time to get this viewpoint—to arrive at the subconscious acceptance that the physical body is merely something of material convenience and utility, and that it has no more to do with the motivating spirit than the President of the United States has to do with the price at which the corner grocer sells cheese in Madison, Wisconsin…

Of course, having pursued such “studies” to some length, I’ve likewise accepted as a Fact of Life that such moral spirits, previously known to me in flesh, have the option of coming back into new and unspoiled mechanisms and starting the mortal tenancy all over. They have the option of doing it as many times as they have the courage and reasons for doing it. After all, it’s their business.

All of which is saying indirectly that I’ve likewise gotten the business of so-called Reincarnation somewhat securely established in my mind. Surely I accept that mortals come back onto this earth-plane more than once. Not to be ribald, some of them whom I meet in the day’s experience never could learn to be so dumb in one lifetime, anyhow. And the same thing goes for sagacity.


Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

I don’t fight them great fundamentals of life any more. I just call a truce with the dominies and take the findings of the sιance room—and my own psychical fecundities—as I receive them. After all, fighting them isn’t going to get me anywhere, and if Truth is Truth, what I’d better be about is a recognition of it, and a patterning of my daily career after it, and let the Almighty deal with the stupid.


SO WHAT I’m going to write for you now is merely a catalogue or chronology of “how I got that way,” and what peculiar—and at times hair-raising—experiences came to me after the year 1928, convincing me that there is actually no such thing as “death” and that the loss of one’s enhousing mortal overcoat is by no means the gravest misfortune which one’s family or the world may lament. Right now the United States poises on the brink of a devastating war with certain nations of Asia. If the plans of the predatory and designing Marxists carry out successfully, millions of fine young American will be impressed into military service shortly and before the brawl is over, have their brains bashed out by a lot of Chinese pig iron. Presently they will be back here in America, and demonstrating all over the place that they are no more dead than the people in mortal bodies are dead. The pedants will give it out that “a great wave of spiritist demonstration” is visiting afresh upon humanity. They will say it, of course, out of the depths of their abysmal ignorance.

What I simply wish to do is put down in black and white some of the outstanding adventures I have had—or contacted—or heard about—contributing to my psychology that “death” is a sophistry. I’ve got to predicate much of what I say upon the Reincarnational Hypothesis, of course, and for the moment, likewise, I’m asking that you ride along with me and try to get my angle. Now then, heat how the whole business started with me—bewildered, struggling, aspiring, purblind mortal exactly like yourself—suddenly plunged into all sorts of evidence that from the time I first arrived in my father’s Methodist parsonage somebody had been spoofing me about losing my identity simply because I might take a motor ride some Sabbath afternoon and engage in an argument with a Baldwin locomotive.

But before we get down to tacks, I propose to talk a few pages about Pythagorean metaphysics.