Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive By William Dudley Pelley


Chapter III


I HAD been in a strange state of stupefaction, as it were, in the days immediately following my nocturnal experience in my Altadena bungalow.

I knew that I had “been somewhere” and met and talked in a baffling way with entities that the world would consider as “dead”. And yet, to go out in the street and proclaim it would only get me branded, as am idiot or liar. What had happened to me, so long as I had n o way of checking up on it through others, or proving it to others in the developments of circumstance, must always remain as a personal experience, a personal illumination. I had no mind to take anyone into my confidence about it. In fact, I came out of seclusion with the idea of keeping it forever to myself. I was too upset philosophically, from what I had seen and heard, to do much more than ponder it and try to assimilate its astounding significance. True, something had happened to me physically as a result of it, because I had a small office staff of employees in a Pasadena business in which I was interested, who immediately began exclaiming at some elusive alteration in my personal appearance. But autosuggestions arrived at in sleep, might easily be responsible for such bodily enhancement, so I let them exclaim and applied myself to business.

Finally, I decided to get away from California and go to New York. I wanted a perspective on myself and my environment—not to mention the possibility of talking with students of such phenomena and finding out whether or not they could give me interpretation of some phases of Cosmology I seemed to have had relayed to me from the Other Side which I believed I had visited. If other people had undergone similar visitations that checked up with mine in detail—as to procedure and the environment visited—then I might begin to credit that my cognizance of Reality had not bee self-delusion. Once during an attack of typhoid fever, I had known the seeming reality of delusions and illusions, and was not minded to hoax myself when my whole future career might depend on the validity of the episode.

THE morning before starting for New York, however, a strange thing happened

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

which I have already mentioned in previous writings. I was standing in the living room of my bungalow with briar in one hand and tobacco-tin in the other. As I started to fill my pipe, something struck the tobacco-tin, seemingly from beneath. The can spun an arc in the air just above my hands and spilled broadcast along the rug. At the moment of this uncanny happening, I heard my first clairaudient voice. It said—“Bill, give up your smoking!” I looked at the spilled can lying neat my feet and felt a weird thrill of fright. Later in the day, when I essayed to draw forth a package of cigarettes, I heard a repetition of the first beseechment. But this thing was notable: the following evening I commenced to have a strange aversion to the taste of tobacco. By the next morning all desire for it had gone and for the ensuing eight months I had not the slightest hunger foe it in any form. I might interpolate here that one evening in Manhattan, eight months later, the same Voice that had appealed to me to give up my smoking came to me in the same manner in the same course of a psychic message and instructed me to dent out to the corner drugstore for a packet of cigarettes.

“We think you had better resume smoking.” The instruction came. “It seems to open up your subconscious mind by relaxing your nerves and thus you are a better receiving organism. But don’t dissipate in nicotine or we will kill the taste for it in you again!”

Leaving Pasadena finally, on rout for New York, I was riding across New Mexico the second night out when my third dramatic experience occurred in the club car.

I WAS alone in the club car about 10:30 at night. All the other passengers had gone back to their berths. Only fairs closed up for the day. I had put a copy of Emerson in my bag and happened at the moment to be reading his “Over-Soul” I was not asleep, not even drowsy. The car clicked monotonously westward, eastward.

Suddenly as I turned a page, something happened!

I seemed to be bathed in a deluge of pure white light on that moving Pullman. A great flood of Revelation came to me out of which a Voice spoke to me such as I had never heard before. What it said, I prefer to keep permanently to myself. But in that instant I knew that my bungalow experience had not been a dream, or even hallucination.

Particularly I knew of the reality of that Entity whom the world now designates as Jesus of Nazareth!

I knew His ministry and career had been a literal actuality and that I had once seen Him when He was thus in His flesh!

I MAKE this statement guardedly and in full realization of its dramatic import. I knew in those moments in that empty club car that all the emotional reactions I had known during my life up till then about Him had not been delusions of grandeur, nor superiority complexes. Jesus of Nazareth was not afar on some

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

distant golden throne. He was here in a modern world of Pullmans and Negro porters, radio and tabloids, chain shirt shops and talking movies.

I remained inert in that club car till long after the Negro porter was snoring in his berth toward the front of the coach. When I got to my feet and went back to my own berth, I had an entirely new concept of my future.

THIS sounds, I know, like a Messianic complex. Perhaps many a character since the Palestinian incarnation of the Master, who has been able to give humanity a new interpretation of that splendorous Personality, has also been dismissed into the Messianic complex classification. No matter! I knew what I knew! And I was calmly content from that night onward to let events take their course, for I had a strange feeling that all would be well if I but kept my pact. This, I might say, has come out literally in fact!

All that had happened, however, had happened to me privately. Still there was nothing that I could present to scientific-minded persons in proof of these two phenomenal episodes. Not that it was necessary to convince others. But all the some, having been a practical newspaperman with a practical newspaperman’s outlook on strange fads and “isms”, I had no mind to go skewed in my thinking and develop a crack in an otherwise serviceable intellect. I rode the rest of the way to New York not doing any reading, for reading was impossible. I watched the landscape in a stupefied daze. Then, going across Indiana on the New York Central two days later, which happened to fall on a Sunday afternoon, I heard the Clairaudient Voice a third time. Understand, it did not come to me at my own behest or invitation. On none of the previous occasions had I expected it. So now, when I had reached the place where I dared wonder consciously about the phenomenon in New Mexico, my thought was answered with an audible sentence.

AGAIN it serves no purpose to tell what the question was which I was cogitating upon, or the answer I received. But it was a direct confirmation of the fact that there was a greater significance to my vivid concepts of Jesus throughout childhood and adolescence than mere delusions or Messianic complexes.

I got to New York appalled by what was occurring to me and to the work which I seemed bidden to do in interpreting phases of Messianic doctrine, which up to that time had been as abstruse to me as to any purblind ecclesiastic. But the last thought in my mind was to tell anyone of these private communications, or make any claims about having contact with the Entities I was being forced to credit from overpowering contact. Neither did I expect at that time that events in circumstance would begin to beat out these prognostications that appalled me. I got a room at the Commodore and called a lady friend whom I knew to be almost an adept in psychical research and a particularly devout and lovely soul. I apprised her of my arrival in town and asked if I could visit her in her apartment that evening. The phone conversation ended by her promising to come to the

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

hotel and have dinner with me first.

SHE kept the appointment. But here again, I got the outward evidence of queer things afoot when she confronted me in the Commodore’s foyer. Her face went white. She exclaimed—

“For pity’s sake, what’s happened to you? You’re not the same man who went to California a few months ago!”

I smiled away her temporary wonderment and we had out dinner. She persistently questioned me about my experiences since we had last seen each other. Finally, out in the ladies’ lounge, I was cajoled into telling her of my nocturnal experience.

“My dear boy,” were her well-remembered words, “You got out of your body—unhinged something—and went somewhere.” “How do you know?” I demanded.

“In the first place,” she said, “the technique of the whole experience checks up perfectly with similar experiences which hundreds of other persons are constantly having. Secondly, I’m psychically aware at this moment of a discarnate entity of particularly beautiful character of it in complete impressions which I understand perfectly.”

YOU mean I actually died, that night in Altadena, but returned after death to my physical body?”

“Something of the sort. Have you ever done any automatic writing?”

“I’ve heard of it in a vague way,” I said. “But I never saw it actually performed> “Let’s go up to my apartment,” she suggested. “Let’s prepare to take an automatic message and see if anything confirmatory comes.”

A half-hour later we settled in a beautiful room in the West Fifties with a cheery fire going in the grate and the New York noises shut out b y heavy curtains. My friend had drawn a small low table over close to her knees. Now she invited me to sit down on the divan at her right, beside her. Sharpened pencils and a generous pad of paper had been provided. She turned back the cuff on her tight wrist and bade me grasp her hand just below her palm. “Hold it tightly,” she instructed, “as though to keep me from writing, but leave your elbow working freely so that my whole hand and arm in conjunction with yours can make swing penmanship.”

I did so. She rested the sharpened pencil point on the pad and leaned back in easy relaxation.

Suddenly our two hands started to move in unison. The pencil before us began making rhythmic swings and circles!

IT SEEMED at first as though my friend was deliberately making the geometric figures, which followed with acceleration as our combined grasp became more and more elastic. Then to my amazement, a long, round, flowing script began to form beneath the pencil, reaching the end of the line and coming back with a

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

flourish to begin a new one.

This is what was written:

“Memory is not memory if we make new thought=bodies when we give up our material bodies. Man will some day know the truth and then we will make real bodies in the image of God.

“Make no mistake, we are those who are now in the light and we have much to tell you. ‘Music of the Spheres’ is no idle phrase, but the very center of the mystery of the creation of this, your universe!”

“Where there is Harmony, there is Life, and all discord is Death. We of the more harmonious plane which is next above the plane of earth, make this statement to you because you are of that company whose bodies are yet of earth but whose eyes are opened to perception of the Truth. Many of us are with you, not alone at this moment but in many moments when you are unaware of our presence. We will endeavor to make more power for you in all that you undertake if you will endeavor to open yourselves more completely to our touch.”

That was all! Wait as we would, no more writing appeared on the pad. Yet I knew that from the bodily position of my hostess, as well as from my own grip on her wrist, that she could not have consciously fabricated and written what lay before us on the paper. Moreover, there was so much we both wanted to know that had it been a subconscious effort, we most certainly would have gone no writing for an indefinite period.

NOTHING happened all the next day. But I was back in my psychic friend’s apartment promptly at 7:30 the ensuing evening, prepared to try the strange writing again. All this time no other manifestations of the clairaudient voice had come to me personally beyond those reported.

Promptly that we got into working posture that next night, however, the sharpened pencil point started off with vigor. Following is the literal lengthy message we got on the second evening of out experimenting, without a word or punctuation mark changed. I might say that I carefully preserved every scrap of paper, and for years have taken care of every word of Intelligence which has Come Over thus—or in any sitting at which I have been present—transcribing it carefully and filling it for future reference.

I HAD no intimation in any of these nightly writings as to what was imminent over the pencil. After my first awe at the phenomenon wore off, I found courage to interject questions. The flowing script would halt at any time and those first evenings of communication, I sat more or less dumbfounded beside my friend and watched the words compose an intelligent and ofttimes profound exposition beneath her hand.

That she was not composing the material from the storehouse of her subconscious mind was indicated by the fact that she also was as interested and curious as myself

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

After a few preliminary swirls and swinging designs, this is the second message we received—

“MANY are the ways in which we approach those we are to help. Many of your most important acts are upon you when least suspect our presence. We are in the very cores of your hearts, as it were, and from there we control your thoughts as the circulation of the blood is controlled by that organ. We are in your very midst and all you need to do is to unbolt the door.” “Memory is the very essence of what you know as Life. We know that Memory is only phase of life, and that the more vital aspect of living is in the creation of new memories, which in turn will be replaced by others. We are of particularly value to you in this, because the new memories must be finer and more beautiful than those you have outgrown.”

“Many are the lessons of a dversity and few there be who find their true meaning and are ready to pass on to the next.”

THERE is in all the universe no force but that of love. All hatred, all evil and all ugliness, are merely the absence of the position pole, which is Love. Many of the evils, so called, are not even the result of the absence of this force but are the result of its operation on a plane beyond your limited comprehension.” “So be always sure when you complain of trouble that it is not a blessing in another guise. When you are distraught with the world’s complexities, pause a moment in memory of us and of what we have told you, and we will speak to you in the reality of Silence. When you feel there is someone who guides you, always know that it means we are with you. Trust us, no matter how steep the path up which we lead you. There is nothing to be learned in the pleasant pads of dalliance that lead smoothly through the valleys. The higher the hilltop, the broader the view, whether to eyes of body or of spirit.” “Sometimes your feet may falter, but remember then that only those who go on in spite of the faltering win through to the goal. Most of the world’s present generation is incapable of this high enterprise. That only makes the obligation the more vital for those who are ready for it…”

“SINCE there is only Love in the universe, there is health and joy in the perception and appreciation of the fact. There can be no situation so grave or no situation so trivial that this law is not operative. Business is not business unless it be also Love. We are not working for the material benefit of those who serve us except as that material benefit will free them for wider and finer service. When you have served your apprenticeship in tribulation, either in this life or in an earlier one, you are ready for the freedom, which comes close on the heels of financial independence.

“Know that in the world of True Reality obligations are only privileges! Now is the moment of fulfillment, which was planned from the beginning. We have been with you because we all make up a company that will carry on what has

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

been begun in all ages since first man made an image and Art was born.”

“It is a goodly company, this fellowship of those who love Beauty and therefore open their hearts to Truth. They have not always been conscious of their high destiny and some of them have dropped the chalice from hands made weak with selfishness or paralyzed with hate. And yet even these lesser ones had flashes of truth more vital than all the organized religions of the world in their lust for power.”

NOT theology but Art is the very handmaiden of God, and the chosen priesthood of the Temple is recruited, not from the clergy in their frocks but from the ranks of artists, clad in the humble smocks which are the mark of their trade. Not that only the painter is the priest; we liked that figure of speech and so made one branch of Art stand for all the rest.

“No matter how far Man may go along his destined path of evolution, the artist must still in imagination blaze the trail which the world of men will follow, with the scientist well toward the rear and the theologian struggling along behind. This does not include all scientists or all theologians; occasionally one of them is also an artist. And just insofar as he is an artist, he is a force foe the good he preaches or the knowledge with which he would enlighten the world. “For Art is the grandest of all the Mysteries.”

“As we have no formulate for the creation of the thing we call Life, so we have no definition for the thing we call Art. Words are only symbols and when you apply them to the eternal verities they become only symbols for the limitation of the human concept.”

“So Art is to each man the highest good he is able to conceive, and the deepest beauty he is able to p erceive, in whatever aspect of Man, Nature or God he is at the moment contemplating.

”If his conception is in its essence true, if his perception is in its essence accurate, and if in his heart the forces of love are operative, then he has what we call the Creative Instinct and the thing, which he produces, is worthy to be called Art.

“Only remember…that there may be Art in the simplest act of the humblest creature’s day.

“Art is spirit, and they that worship her must worship her in spirit and in truth. Many of the greatest artists have known the truth and shut their hearts to her because the price was too heavy to pay.

“They did not know that all the price was the relinquishing of the bonds of limitation, and that only in paying the price could they taste the very joys for which they refused in!”

I SUBMIT that this sort of thing, exactly as I have reprinted it above, with scarcely a punctuation mark altered, would cause any reasoning person to credit its origin. Of course it could have been composed in the lady’s subconscious and the fact that we had received it in the context of the foregoing

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

did not prove that the “dead” were alive and were giving it to us. Nevertheless, I accepted it as post-modern communication for the time being and waited to see what more would develop. It is physically impossible I the space at my command to go on reprinting the messages that continued to come over in the fortnight that now ensued. At least it is impossible to continue reprinting the matter within this series of narratives of my own experiences, which finally convinced me that discarnate intelligence was an actuality. Over a period of 26 years I continued to receive these patters, and my original purpose in founding a publishing house was to reprint the most interesting and vital of them. For two weeks, however, I was in almost constant evening attendance on my Unseen Mentors in my friend’s apartment. Then my private affairs necessitated my return to the Pacific Coast. My going, nevertheless, was marked by its bit of psychical drama.

WE WERE writing together one evening on an expositional message when the pencil stopped suddenly. For some moments it lay inert. Then it started up suddenly and said—

“Leave New York, William! Go at once to California. You have planned to stop off in Chicago. We advise you is urgently needed out there for reasons that will become apparent to you on your arrival.”

This directive disrupted plans I had made to stop off in the midland city and do some fiction work for a group of magazines published there. I demurred at going through to the Coast at once. The pencil wrote— “If when you get to Chicago you feel a strong impulse not to tarry, obey it. You will know that it is we guiding you, because of events in California climaxing in such a way that you will be sorry if you miss them.” I had no intimation of what those events might be. Nonetheless I returned to my hotel that final evening, packed my grips, and made reservations on a train leaving late the following night.

But all through the night I had a queer presentiment that I had taken reservations on the wrong train. I could hear nothing clairaudient in support of this impression; still it bothered me. I got up next morning determined to ask my friend if she could arrange to sit with me that afternoon and find out if I were being warned away from some sort of catastrophe. She complied during the forenoon and we got this message—“ Of course what you are feeling is our influence directing you. We do not want you to take the train you have decided upon. Go upon the Century at one-forty this afternoon. You will see the reasons for this later. You will also find that reservations on the Century will be readily obtainable for you.”

AT THE time I fully supposed that some sort of accident was due to happen to the train I had first selected. Later I discovered the reason to be something entirely different but no less vital.

I bade good-bye to my companion, got reservations on the Century as indicated, and left Manhattan for Chicago. Whereupon this thing occurred—

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

Increasingly I felt that I should not tarry, but get to the Coast at once. I alighted in Chicago around noontime next day and made immediate reservations for the California journey via the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe train however, did not leave until 8 o’clock that evening. So I went wandering about Chicago “killing time.” If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was on Thanks-giving Day, 1928, that I thus went wandering about the Windy City—either Thanksgiving day or a Sunday, for the streets in the downtown section were deserted of traffic. Up one street and down another I strolled; with a queer feeling that my footsteps were being directed. I wondered if I were being led to meet someone who might have an important bearing on my affairs. But I encountered only strangers and began to be a bit disappointed. Finally I saw a movie house down a side street and directed my steps thither. I will not record what film what film it was that I paid admission to see. But this is notable: the film story had a plot so analogous to my own affairs at the moment that the similarity was uncanny. And the denouement of the drama sent me out of the theatre and over to the LaSalle Hotel where I composed a letter to someone back East to whom I had not written for months. While this incident is too personal to narrate in detail, I discovered when I got to the Pacific Coast—because of unopened mail waiting there for me—that had I not witnessed that photoplay in Chicago and written that resultant letter the exact hour that I did, I would have become involved in a particularly ugly and expensive lawsuit.

PERHAPS it is rationalizing to say that my Unseen Friend altered my train route, walked me about Chicago and into that particular movie house to see that specific film and write the ensuing letter, in order to save me that lawsuit. Rationalizing or not, that is what happened all the same, although one wonders why they could not have told me directly over the pencil in New York to write the letter and save myself the lawsuit. In fact, on asking later shy the latter course was not pursued, the answer came—

“Had we told you how things stood with the person to whom you wrote the pacifying letter, you would have gotten in contact with him personally while New York and your personal contact would have aggravated, not mitigated the situation. We took that method of guiding you also, to get you accustomed to obeying such ‘hunches’ in order that in future affairs you might the more readily have confidence in us.” Whether this was discarnate direction or not, the incident is of interest. It happened and had a beneficial result. At any rate, I took the Santa Fe for California at 8o’clock and three days later alighted in Pasadena without incident en route. Going to my office I discovered nothing there of sufficient import to hasten me West from Manhattan and again I wondered if it had all been subconscious mind. On seemed to give a different aspect to the trip.

In California I had another lady acquaintance with whom some real estate that we were subdividing, but I had not heard from this friend during my absence in New York. I assumed she was following her vacation of trained nurse in the

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

Pasadena Hospital. This message awaited me—

“ Mother is very ill and not expected to live. I am down in Pomona caring for her. If you wish to see me for any reason, communicate with me there. I shall stay with her until she either recovers or passes.”

Extremely concerned for the health of my friend’s mother, I got out my car and made the hour’s trip down to Pomona that same afternoon. Arriving at the home, I found I had not come a moment too soon. The mother was not expected to live through the night.

SHE DID not live through the night. And in that circumstance I saw the reason why I had been brought West in such a hurry, for the death of this elderly lady—whom I had known more or less intimately—later had a direct and vital bearing on my own psychic work.

She passed over at five minutes after six o’clock that same afternoon. And at her passing, this thing occurred—

All of her children had been called to her bedside and were with her when the end came. I did not go into the death chamber, feeling it an intrusion on the privacy of family of which I was not a member. I sat in the living room trying to read a magaz ine, from time to time overhearing low-voiced comments of nurse and doctor by the bedside in the next room. Once, a moment or two after six o’clock my nurse friend emerged and said in tearful tones “She’s almost gone; we can hardly detect any pulse.” Then she entered the sickroom again. At exactly five minutes past six o’clock, trying to apply myself to my magazine under such distressing circumstances, I suddenly felt a strange rush of cold exhilarating air. The day was warm; no doors or windows were open. Where could it have come from? What could it be?

I experienced a swift, sharp tensing of every nerve and muscle in my body as though the current from a galvanic battery were holding me for an instant in its grip. And with it was an “impressing” of the sick mother’s personality so strong that it seemed as though I must address her!

Instantly a sharp, despairing wail sounded in the adjoining chamber. A general sobbing followed. One of the sons came out of the sickroom. “Mother’s gone!” he stated simply. And he went out upon the veranda. But I knew his mother had gone, I had known it at the electric instant of her passing. She seemed to have gone directly through me in her transition! Anyway, that is how it felt.

THE HOUSEHOLD was of course upset for the rest of that evening. It was after eight o’clock, when the undertaker’s wagon had left with the body, before my nurse friend was ready to accompany me back to Pasadena for the interim until the funeral.

To comfort her, on the way back I recounted to her my psychical experiences in Manhattan and the messages that had seemed to come from the Unseen. “We’ll be back in Pasadena by nine o’clock,” said I . “As the hour isn’t so very

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

late, suppose we drive up to the bungalow and try the automatic writing together exactly as it was done in New York, only I’ll hold the pencil.”

We drove to my Altadena bungalow and prepared materials for automatic writing after the methods I had followed with my adept friend in Manhattan

I had no idea of what might come over. It was honest experimenting in the hope that we might receive some word about the status of my companion’s mother who had made the great transition that night at six o’clock. We sat at the desk in my living-room, our only companion my big police dog. This dog stretched out before the hearth fire. The evening hilltop was strangely silent. Suddenly the dog gave wince as we waited with the tip of the pencil poised on the pad. She came up o her haunches with an uneasy growl; the hair arose on the scruff of her neck, and ears like steel shells seemed to be watching someone or “something” that had come into the room, invisible to my companion and myself.

Almost at once, the pencil began to move of its own volition!

WHAT IT was writing, at first I could not decipher. The penmanship had a queer right-handed slant that at times leaned over so far as to appear nearly horizontal. All the words were joined together to the end of the line. Meanwhile the dog drew back toward a corner with a surprised, uneasy look and cocked her head curiously in ht vicinity of the desk as though unable to figure out exactly what was happening.

Suddenly my friend gave a startled gasp and relaxed the hold on my wrist.

“It’s writing in German!” she cried. “And I recognize the penmanship! It’s my Grandfather S……’s, who died twenty years ago!” Personally I knew scarcely a word of German. Certainly if my subconscious mind had anything to do with the phenomenon produced, it could not be accused of writing German sentences in a penmanship recognizable as that of a man dead for two decades.

“What does it say?” I asked.

SHE replied: “It says, ‘your mother is now with us and will be quite all right. Do not grieve for her. She is much happier now that she is delivered of her load of physical pain.’”

The hand continued to write and my companion continued to translate—

“’Do not expect any word from her directly for several weeks and perhaps months. She has a long period slumber ahead of her in which she must recover her strength.’”

There was more, much more, but the material was private to my friend and appertained to her family affairs.

“Are you sure this is your grandfather’s writing?” I asked in an interval for rest. “It would be impossible to forget his writing, as you see,” she replied. “It compares with his writing in our family Bible.”

To test out the truth of the grandfather’s identity I began to ask questions, where

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

he was born, the names of his children, other details of his life, which my friend could corroborate or contradict.

In practically every case the pencil replied in German giving the true facts, even to spelling out the name of a town in Germany of which I had never heard!

Of course cryptothesis, or subconscious mind reading, might have accounted for it, but from later developments in New York I had cause to be convinced that we really had made contact with the grandfather. I will chronicle them later. My friend was overcome. Here seemed to be evidence enough to convince any reasonable person that we were in contact. But more startling revelations were in store.

SUDDENLY, almost between sentences, the handwriting took a veer and altered in character. From leaning to the right, it now tipped abruptly backward and leaned toward the left—a wholly altered penmanship. Here were the words produced—

“Hello, Dud, you old son of a gun! … I’ve been a long time trying to get through to you and now that I’ve got to you, I’m not going to give you up!” My companion asked, “Who could be addressing you in any such manner?” It was my turn to feel surprise. Outside of my immediate family, all members of whom were still alive, the only person who had ever called me by a contraction of my middle name was the brother-in-law, Ernest, mentioned in the second chapter of this book.

But more than the salutation gripped me. Ernest and I had been in business together the last few months of his life, enough so that from day-to-day contact I recognized his penmanship. He was left-handed and had a most peculiar manner of forming his capital letters.

Before me on the pad were letter-perfect samples of Ernest’s peculiar handwriting, unmistakable in formation.

Accepting that he was present therefore, I went on to ask him question about himself. Not only did I get sensible answers that seemed accurate on the face of them, but he told me things about certain members of the family—all of whom were residing on the other side of the continent—that I afterward found to be accurate when I came East and made inquiry

MEANWHILE my police dog was acting most peculiarly.

She was not exactly fearful or angered, so much as excited. She paced around the room, hitting taborets and chairs, and knocking books and magazines off upon the rug. Finally she began a series of short, excited barkings—taking up her position in the hallway door and peering around the fireplace corner with more choppy barkings. Again and again I called to her to be quiet. Suddenly the pencil wrote, “Do not scold your dog. She merely sensed or sees our presence.”

It was not Ernet’s handwriting. It was the same penmanship in which my other friend and I had received our communications in that New York apartment, two

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

weeks before. Before we ended the experiment that first evening one other remarkable incident occurred. The pencil continuing to write in the latter penmanship started voluntarily giving me information about my past incarnations.

OF THESE, I cannot write. They are personal and private to myself alone. But they constitute some of the most remarkable phases and aspects of this whole enlightenment.

“On a certain day in the year 1913 you were in B…” wrote the pencil. “You were reading an inscription on that monument. You were reading your own inscription!”

lest the accusation of a superiority complex arise here, let me say that the persons designated ad my own former impersonations during the past 2000 years have not been people that would ever have emanated from my own subconscious of my own election. They have been people who kicked up more of a rumpus on the human stage than humanity especially liked at the time, and always in some proselytizing capacity that wrought alterations in the mode of humanity’s living.

I have been few famous soldiers, poets, statesmen or potentates. The persons that I now am convinced that I have been were philosophical personages —somewhat unfamiliar to the public in their historical lives—and not until I hunted out their little-known biographies did I realize with a strange sensation up and down my spine that the incidents set forth in those biographies coincided to the letter with weird presentiments and recurrent dreams which I had experienced all through childhood and adolescence.

IN MY “Seven Minutes” episode I had plenty of evidence to justify belief in the reincarnational hypothesis. But it had never occurred to me to wonder what other lives I had lived or how I had arrived at my present status of consciousness. I simply accepted the fact that I had lived other lives as I now accept the fact that I am living this life.

But over the entire year that now ensued, the most dramatic confirmation of these identities began to creep up in my affairs until I finally threw aside my skepticism and adopted an attitude of “Well, what of it?”

Let me add, however, that I am not one of those believers in reincarnation who hold that they have been famous persons in every life. Many of the lives with which I am reasonably familiar now, were quite “unwept, dishonored and unsung”—thank God for that!

THAT evening with my nurse friend was the first of a series, which we spent together; taking soen communications that could have had no reasonable source within our subconscious selves. For the o\pencil soon began to branch out into illuminatory discussions of metaphysics and treat of matters of which I had never heard. Months later in the East I was to discover that the papers I had

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

begun to take thus in distant California constituted the fundamental premise of the whole esoteric doctrine known as Soulcraft.

We had been writing thus for a matter of three weeks, however, when in the middle of a profound discourse, the pencil began to cut strange capers. It started to write irrelevant material. It made curlicues and pictures. It would “go dead” to start up again with queer jerks and dashes.

“Hurry down to your office tonight. You have received an important check in the mail today that at present lies on your office rug where it became separated from the afternoon mail. Unless you rescue it, the night janitor may sweep it up in the rubbish.”

I had an office at the time in a Pasadena business block and the message bore all the earmarks of friendly solicitation. As it was nearing time to deliver my companion at her home five miles away, we got into my car and went down to search for the missing check.

We aroused the night janitor, went up to the third floor of the building and unlocked the office.

No check was on the rug.

WE SEARCHED diligently. The janitor declared he had not swept the suite and no one had entered it since the employees had left. Going into the inner room. We sat down before my business desk and resumed out position with pencil and paper, asking explanation of the strange occurrence. The pencil responded jerkily but finally wrote—

“Sorry, old man. We made an error. It was not on your office floor that we saw the letter with check lying but on the floor of the post office. Better get over there at once and make inquiries.”

Wit this explanation we went across town to the post office and gained the attention of the night clerk. Without informing him of the source of out information, we asked him to make a search and ascertain if such a letter had come to me that day from the East—for the sender of the letter and the size of the check had been indicated.

The report was negative.

I was puzzled and not a little troubled. What on earth was the matter?

Back to the office we went and made demand for another explanation, although the time was now nearing midnight.

“In the morning.” Wrote the pencil, “go to the post office immediately the postmaster himself, Mr. Black, is in his office and make him show you the contents of Lock Box 1736. He will turn out the missing letter to you from it—where it had been picked up and put by mistake.

I LET the matter go for the night, took my companion home and returned to my own. Next morning I went to see the postmaster. Here was a strange angle of the case, by the way. In the message the pencil had designated the postmaster as Mr. Black. Personally at that time I did not

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

know the postmaster’s name. Making inquiries for him next morning, however, I found his name to be Mr. Knight. The idea was there, but had not been correctly interpreted.

No matter, I asked him to look in Lock Box 1736, which the pencil had declared was rented to a Mr. Slocum.

“That couldn’t be possible,” Mr. Knight said to me at once.

“We have only two hundred lock boxes in this post office.”

Postmaster Knight at Pasedena will doubtless recall the incident although he knew exactly hat sort of a puzzle I was working out. “Is there a Mr. Slocum who rents a box in this office?” I asked him.

“There is,” Mr. Knight replied, giving me more courtesy than I have ever had at any post office before or since.

“Will you look in his box then, and tell me if there is a letter there for me tossed in there by mistake?”

He would and he did.

There was no letter at all in Mr. Slocum’s box!

I WAS now fully convinced that some sort of hoax was being played on me, but was also determined to learn how far it would go. As soon as I could contact my friend to write more with her, we got another alibi. “Of course Mr. Slocum came in while you were on the way to the post office and emptied his box. He has carried your letter with check away with him. But he is an honest man and he will return it to you with apologies when he sees his error. You will find that it will turn up in your other post office box in Altadena.” I waited a day and made inquiries at Altadena.

No letter appeared.

I went to the Western Union office and sent a wire East, asking the person from whom the check was said to be coming, if he had ever mailed me any such check.

The answer came back:


The thing was a hoax from beginning to end.

I went back to the pencil and asked for explanation. The pencil stayed “dead”…

Up to this time I was unaware that there were such entities in existence as makers of mischief in the affair of psychic persons, and that the levels just above mortal life held “unclean spirits who delight to confuse.”

I assumed, as most people assume when they are convinced of the continuity of life, that anything given from the Unseen Dimensions must necessarily be truthful because of the sources and methods from which it is derived.

I had been brought up in the good old Methodist notion that when people died whey immediately became heaven-like, or if they were “wicked” they were consigned to a Pit where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth —certainly not

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

possessed of much chance for hoaxing and baffling mortal folk going about their honest affairs.

It took me several weeks to come into recognition of my own people —the truth-tellers and bona fide instructors whose word could be more or less relied upon—by the technique of recognizing their “rate of vibration.” I had opened up nerve centers in my body by my Seven Minutes experience, which enabled me to sense this vibration caused by the presence of people near me, either in flesh or out of it. But I had not learned that each person has a different vibratory rate depending upon his identity, cosmic age, and the immortal “group” to which he belongs.

I had not become aware of the difference in these rates of vibration that would identify helpful, constructive, sympathetic persons from those whose only desire was to get expression by influencing whomever they were allowed to influence when psychical conditions on both sides were complied with. I believe then, and I still believe, that the major portion of my early communications were simon pure and came from the individuals they affected to come from. I am convinced of this not only from the nature of the material transmitted to me, but through the vibratory discrimination I soon developed at the cost of great spiritual tumult and torment.

Every person who essays to investigate the machinery behind life must pass through this period and learn the bitter lesson of experience.

It is typified I Christ’s career by His Forty Days in the Wilderness there He was “tempted of Satan,” taken to an exceedingly high mountain and shown the kingdoms of the world, taken to the heights of the temple and told to dash Himself down.

In the mystic studies of the East, the period is known as the time of Pledge Fever. Immediately the novice has pledged himself to study and expound these great constructive doctrines that will free the human race from its bondage of error and ignorance, he at once invites all manner of confusion and bafflement in his affairs. Decadent, malignant entities who can operate out of unseen areas of time and apace precisely like the inspirational, constructive people, appear to do everything possible in their powers of darkness to weaken the resolve and turn the pupil back into the fogs of doubt, distress and piteous timidity. Wise teachers of the mysteries know that this will come to every bona fide worker with great potentialities for constructive good. But I had no teachers. I was learning by the good old method of trial and error. And I learned.

People constantly ask me why this sort of frustration of goodly works is “permitted”. They seem to think that such activities should be prohibited or controlled by divine fiat. They forget in their indignation that mortal beings, in bodies or out of them, are absolutely free spirits who can do whatever they please, or be whatever they please.

If this election were not possible, the Almighty could make the universe “good” between now and midnight by speaking the Word. The does no such thing

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

because the spirit of every man and women is a literal cell of God developing in its own way as it chooses to develop. If it chooses to develop in Light and constructive Love, it goes on by the nature of its own activities into higher and higher forms of spiritual evolution. If it chooses to retrograde into darkness and confusions, it simply commits a sort of identity-suicide and extinguishes its own life, returning ultimately to the great ocean of universal spirit with its identity lost forever.

There are millions of souls who evolve to a certain point, then lose that inspiration to go onward because of some great temptation, shock or mental experience in one of their lives. They become recalcitrant and vicious, and instead of taking finer forms, life after life, they reappers as grosser and grosser persons, more and more ugly, more and more stupid, till in their moribund spleen and vengeance they become mass antagonists of those who have not defaulted but are developing and mounting steadily upward.

THESE are the “demons”—and the only demons —of Scripture and legend. But their power for mischief is incalculable when they find a newly awakened person who is not yet wise to their purpose and antics. They lose no opportunity to discredit the advancing soul by throwing monkey wrenches into his affairs and frightening him away from further constructive effort. That is why so much stamina is required to push on in spite of the adversity and bafflement, which they introduce, and win through to correct methods for overcoming their functioning and mass activities.

AGAIN and again we got messages—or what purported to be messages—about my intimate affairs, which continued to be inaccurate. I was sorrowfully angry that such behavior should be allowed. I had gone on blind faith that somehow, somewhere, I had unseen friends who would not let that sort of thing happen. Finally this came—

“You are urgently needed in New York. A very dear friend of yours intends to commit suicide and you must halt it. Go east at once as soon as you can settle your affairs. Talk with this person. You will find that what we say is true.”

“I’ll go nowhere,” said I flatly, “until you give me concrete proof that you are what you say you are and that you are telling me the truth. I refuse to be hoaxed into a cross-country trip. I can’t afford it.”

“You may have this proof,” the pencil answered. “Next Tuesday at half past three in the afternoon, a man will walking into your office and without any solicitation from you, volunteer to loan you a certain sum of money. If he does so, it should be prima facie evidence to you that we are not hoaxing you.” “All right,” I answered aloud, “if anyone puts real money into my hand for a New York journey, I will accept the message as bona fide and act upon it.”


TUESDAY came. During the lunch hour four men came into consult with me about a real estate deal. We lunched together and returned to my office. I left

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

orders with my secretary that she was to call me out at once if anyone entered at 3:30 who especially wanted to see me. Then I continued my business. At half past three we were still discussing the deal. No stranger had appeared and did not appear. I was sour about “unseen friends” and automatic writing in general. At four o’clock our conference broke up and one by one my friends withdrew. Finally one man was left. As he, too, arose to go, he straightened into his chair and asked with puzzled frown,

“Bill, do you especially want money for a trip east?” “Maybe,” I said, startled, “but why do you ask?”

“I ask because for three hours I’ve been sitting here feeling funny about things. I’ve felt that I ought to offer you the loan of a sum of money. It’s a real distress to me. How much do you want to borrow for the trip?” here was I, confronting a man in my office at the indicated time, who of his own volition stated that he felt he should loan me a sum of money for some purpose that he could not define. And how much did I want?

“Five hundred dollars,” I replied to him, somewhat experimentally, wondering how consciously he was aware that he was being used.

He leaned forward without a word, drew out his checkbook and wrote me his check. He did not even want a promissory note. At the door he said, “It’s funny, Bill, but now that I’ve done that, I feel strangely relieved.” He closed the door and went out to the elevators. I glanced at his check. It was made out for $750.

I HAD received then, an apparently bona fide message, requesting my return to Manhattan. The day and hour had been accurate although instead of entering

my office at 3:30 my man had been in it all the time!

I felt that I had to keep my part of the pact, and immediately arranged my affairs to go back to New York and halt a suicide. I took the Sante Fe east, the following afternoon.

IT WAS now the first of December.

Reaching Grand Central station after an uneventful five-day journey across America, I went through the concourse and secured a room at the Commodore Hotel. At once I phoned the women friend with whom I had done my first automatic writing, telling her of strange developments on the Coast and asking that she come over and have lunch with.

I recall that I had enjoyed a bath while awaiting the luncheon hour, and was crossing my room in a state of undress, when I suddenly stopped short in the middle of the floor.

I was being addressed by someone invisible!

It was not exactly a voice that persons present might have heard. It had a queer muffled quality, as though it were being spoken inside my head. “Put a s\pencil in your left hand,” it ordered, “and sit sown at a table with paper before you and the tip of the pencil on the paper.”

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

THIS WAS not only weird, it was something of a bother. I had a luncheon engagement to keep. I was som ewhat distressed by the prophesied nature of my trip to New York—that I was wanted in Manhattan to restrain a close friend from committing suicide. Nevertheless, still in dishabille, I did as I was asked. I got out a pencil and poised it on a sheet of hotel stationery. The pencil commenced to write, practically of its own volition, from right to left, and kept on until the script had filled the sheet. I had to hold it up to a mirror subsequently, in order to read it.

Now I am not left-handed and have never written left-handed. Moreover, all my writing in conjunction with the two women friends previously reported had been done in the usual manner from left to right. I had never seen this new process performed before, and had not believed that it could be done until I actually held the pencil in my own hand doing it.

This is the substance of the strangely inverted script—

“You are to become a Mentor in a world of bleak science that is slowly undermining faith in things spiritual, and you will be the means of stopping much of the faithlessness of the present generation by your advice and teaching.”

Sensing that this was not all of the communication that was intended, I came back from the mirror where I had deciphered the above, took a clean sheet of paper and saw the following written—

“You are to help men and women get a clearer and closer understanding of their places in the divine scheme of things, and help them to an understanding of eternal truths. You are thus favored because you have opened your heart to beauty and to truth.”

Twelve o’clock came and I was still filling pages with the writing, which I continually had to carry across the room to the mirror in order to read. By the time I halted, I had barely time to dress myself for my luncheon. But I carried some of the sheets downstairs to show to my friend when she arrived. She took her small mirror from her purse, as we sat across from each other at the luncheon table, and used it to decipher the penmanship. “This is the clearest mirror writing I’ve ever seen!” she exclaimed. “I want you to loan it to me and let me take it down to the Society for Psychical Research as an exhibit.”

I DEMURRED at this. I didn’t want myself researched. But that night, alone in my room after the events of the afternoon I am presently to chronicle, I gave the whole evening over to the strange backhand script. And I began to learn matters about myself that by no stretch of the human imagination could ever be the vaporings of my own subconscious mind.

These matters were of a nature so private and peculiar to me alone that I could easily discern why they might have been withheld until that time and not “sent across” to me until they could be given without any second person present to

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

learn of them.

With the luncheon out of the way, however, I had the afternoon’s ordeal ahead of me, of searching for the person who was about to end his life—according to the warning I had received in California.

THIS PWESON lived in uptown New York. I took the subway to his street, for my previous instruction had declared that I would be led to find him at home. I went to his apartment hotel and asked the girl ant the switchboard to send up my name.

I might have said in previous paragraphs that the original warning about this person’s imminent deed had implied that he would murder himself by illuminating gas because of a “jam” he was “in” with a person of the opposite sex. When the girl at the switchboard rang and rang without getting any answer, I became alarmed. Had I really arrived too late? I was on the point of asking that the apartment door be forced when the elevator operator came down from above stairs and declared—

“The party you’re trying to get had gone out to the movies and won’t be back until seven o’clock. I brought him down about ten minutes ago and he left a message for………because he was expecting a call.” This expected call, however, had nothing to do with myself.

I DID A whimsical thing to see if it would “work”. I went out to the corner newsstand and bought a newspaper. Its margins afforded me space foe writing a message. I went into an alcove of the near-by building out of the wind, took a pencil from my pocket and poised the tip on a margin of the newspaper as I stood there out of sight of pedestrians. I asked, what was the status of the affair, and what was I to do next?

Even on a public street, with the roar of New York traffic about me, the pencil wrote without slip or falter—

“He will not take his life today, but if you want to intercept and meet him, go back down to Grand Central Terminal, Gate 28, and you will find him there, waiting to meet a friend on an incoming train.”

“Then he hasn’t gone to the movies?” I asked.

The pencil wrote, “No!”

I WENT BACK downtown again intrigued to see how far these instructions would carry with accuracy. I could not believe that I had been furnished with funds and brought “way across the continent to repeat such a performance as I had undergone with the missing check purported to have been mailed me earlier from New York. I was proceeding now in a studious mood, or a researcher’s mood. I knew that strange forces were operating and engineering all this phenomena and I determined to probe to the bottom of the activities. Somewhere in it mist be something that was constructive.

Arriving in front of Grand Central Terminal I felt such a twitching and pulling and

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

jabbing in my supersensitive left arm, that I turned into the terminal and went to the designated gate.

The gate was unlighted. The bulletin of incoming trains was blank. There were no people, known or unknown to me, lingering in its vicinity. Demanding an accounting, I drew back out of sight, as I had on the street uptown, and gave the entities motivating all this “monkey business” another chance to explain themselves.

“We made a mistake about the gate,” came the mirror-writing answer. “Go over toward the cigar stand and you will see him standing there.” I went.

YOU’VE got the wrong cigar stand,” was the next explanation—or alibi—that come over the pencil; I tried once more to follow directions. Nothing came of it. I went back to my hotel, called the person uptown whom I had crossed the country to meet, and in due time got connection with him. “Are you all right?” I asked.

“Of course I’m all right,” came his hearty response.

“What about So-and-so?’ I asked, mentioning the name of the person because of whom he was to have taken his life.

“I haven’t seen that party for a year and a half,” came his assurance.

The next day I met the would-be suicide personally, talked at length with him, found that he had no more idea of taking his life than I had of taking mine. Mischief and hoax, all of it!

And I had taken a 3,000-mile trip across America, obligating myself for a $750 loan, to do it.

CLOSETING myself in my hotel room that night, I proceeded to let the mirror-writing go where it would. I wanted to see what would come over, in the hope of gaining some clue as to the possible identity of the one responsible for it.

For two or three hours I filled sheet after sheet with mirror-script, pausing at the end of each page to transcribe it in regular penmanship on a side pad of paper. And instead of any definite directions about my practical affairs, instead of alibis and explanations of the antics of the afternoon, the Script wrote in clear, forceful, positive handwriting a little more profound exposition of cosmic doctrine than I had received hitherto, either in New York or Altadena. I almost forgot the mischief of the week and day in following these intriguing solutions and interpretations of great Behind-Life riddles and processes, as they came over line after line.

Of curse, as the same method had been responsible for writing me mischievous directions, I had no license to assume that these solutions and interpretations were any more authentic or responsible or correct, that the worldly directions had been. But this thing happened—between ten and eleven o’clock, when I was becoming slightly exhausted mentally and physically wit

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

the writing, the pencil began behaving strangely. The writhing grew weak, wavering, and uncertain. These were scrawls and lapses in the discourse. Then it picked up again as before.

But now the tone and motif of the writing had altered. What was coming over to me was a lengthy dissertation on the intimate private character of some of my dearest, closest acquaintance.

FOR AN hour and a half I sat writing, or recording, the most elaborate and “juiciest” bits of scandal and slander about these friends that could be imagined. Intimate details of their private lives were laid bare to me. I was warned that this person was a private pervert, and that person was a rogue. These details, rich in gossip and malign implications, reached a point where I halted the taking of them in disgust. Some of the persons involved, which I already knew about, but which on the surface of them seemed harmless enough, that the whole communication was as disgusting as it was diabolical. I had no one to advise me what to do, what “force” I was toying with, what parts of the communication I could believe—if any whatever—and what not. I fought a stiff battle with myself that night, whether or not I would continue to lend myself to his sort of perversion and irresponsible nonsense. The next day, I recall, was Sunday. Sleeping until noontime, I arose and called the women with whom I had done my first writing. She was one of those who had been most generously belabored in the previous evening’s material. “I’ve received a lot of communication,” I explained over the phone, “that I want your counsel on. May I come up this afternoon and show it to you? Perhaps you can give me a cue as to whether I should continue or stop it altogether.” She generously assented and at two o’clock I was again in her apartment. She read the “messages”…

“Do you know anything about the activities of people on the astral planes?” she demanded.

“Have you gone thus far in this dangerous business without being informed that the discarnate octaves immediately above—or outside of—the mortal are crammed with ‘people’ who want to interfere with the affairs of physical life and run them according to their own notions?”

“Where would I obtain such information?” I asked her.

”Well, they are,” she instructed me. “This idea that when men and women ‘die’ they immediately proceed to some far-off place where they wither w ander about in coma or ‘sleep in Jesus’ till the Judgment Day, doesn’t stack up at all with what we find demonstrated in seance rooms. Those discarnates simply lose their bodies, and being earth-bound, or held by habit to their former environments, they proceed right along to interfere with the life-situations of their former intimates and try to direct their careers from the astral. It’s a pernicious and mischievous business but nonetheless it happens. Mortals in flesh get the directions and think that ‘God’ or ‘guardian angels’ are counseling them—being that must be infallible. They’re really only the discarnate souls of

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

relatives who have lost their bodies. And they know no more what they’re talking about than they have known in mortality. Suppose we get out the writing materials and let’s try to contact supernal and ‘graduated’ beings who can give us some counsel on what to do in your present predicament.” I agreed eagerly and she brought forth her writing board.