Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive By William Dudley Pelley


Chapter VIII

I NOW come to the most intriguing, and—to my way of thinking—the most convincing phase of my personal experience, attesting to me beyond all doubt that there is no such thing as Death or blotting out of the personal consciousness.

It is one thing for a person to claim that he has had some sort of sojourn in another octave of time and space, and quite another foe him to prove it. It is one thing to claim that he has “hearing” so finely attuned to Thought Speech that he can pick up message from the higher realms of life and still another to demonstrate scientifically that he is not subconsciously composing what he “hears”, though he may not be consciously aware of it. But in the winter of 1929, in New York City, and on into the spring and summer of 1930, I had a series of experiences which there seems to be no refuting, rationalizing of, or explaining by any other method than that I was actually talking with the souls of people who have gone Beyond the Veil. It will take several chapters for me to relate in detail all that happened. But the first experience happened while I was writing my esoteric novel, “Golden Rubbish

I HAVE mentioned that while writing this book it seemed to me that whole pages, and even chapters, were being dictated to me faster than I could record them on the typewriter. I was making no effort to “think up what I was writing”, but the words poured into my brain in such connected, logical, and artistic fashion that all I had to do was put them down, and I had my story. Whereat I cried: “Is anybody dictating this narrative to me?”

The answer came back distinctly: “Yes! You have so much work to do that you are being helped in composition—,” naming a celebrated author who had “gone over” during the past decade.

As I recently stated in these pages, I was skeptical that any such personage should be devoting his world-famous talents to aiding me. Why should he do it? And yet beyond a doubt, whole sequences of the story were his, in his style and filled with his idioms. I had read much of this author and admired him much. But

I had never become so imbued with his style that I had subconsciously copied it;

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

in fact, my style in my three other novels and scores of short stories was about as far removed from his as two author’s style could possibly b e.

This was borne out so graphically in the story itself that many people have since refused to believe the novel was mine when it appeared in print. It was in fact, a curious hodge-podge of two men’s literary styles and is a curious exhibit of what can happen when this type of clairaudience is practiced consciously.

TO CONVINCE me that I was indeed taking the dictation of another brain in my story, this strange episode occurred:

I had reached a place in the narrative where I wanted to describe Louise Garland’s resentment at her early life—or at life in general—because it had denied her social advantages. She was furious at the way she was bested time and again in the social comities, and her lack of childhood training brought her social handicaps that maddened her.

I struggled with the right word to describe her plight. Suddenly my famous author’s voice said gently in my ear: “Use the word ‘interclusions’ William!’ “Interclusions!” I cried aloud. “There’s no such word; at least I never heard of it.” “Oh yes, there is, “ my discarnate helper returned. “Consult your dictionary and you’ll find I’m right.”

I recall that I walked into the front living-room where my big dictionary was kept, and hunted for the word. I found it! And it meant exactly the thought I had been struggling to get over.

Little ‘proofs’ like that can sometimes be more convincing than spectacular seance-room manifestations. In the seance room manifestation there is always the wonder as to whether or not the Sensitive has put over a trick or illusion. I went back to my machine and used the word. But I did much thinking the balance of the day. More dramatic things had happened to me, and were slated to happen to me still, convincing me that those in the Higher Dimensions can communicate with people in mortality at will. But the ‘speaking’ to me of this utterly strange word—a word I had not known as existing—made a profound psychological effect on me. There was to be still more concrete proof of this author-discarnate, however.

That week I made the acquaintance of that very remarkable psychic, George Wehner.

I DO NOT know whether you have ever chanced to see, much less to read, George Wehner’s autobiography, “A Curious Life”. It was published by Dutton, I think, back in 1930. In it he told exactly how he came to recognize and develop his peculiar talents.

George was a commercial artist, about 30 years old, a bachelor, who had shown the remarkable faculty from childhood of separating his soul-mind from his physical body, vacating the latter, and handing it over to “disembodied souls from a higher level of life who wished to use his organism for a brief visit to earth conditions. In other words, he abandoned his own physical mechanism

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

with which he had been born and gave it over to the temporary use of some “dead” person, allowing its spirit-soul to come into it, take possession of it and use it as though it were his own. George got out of his own bodily vehicle, in other words and loaned it for a couple of hours to souls who had lost their own bodies by the process we commonly know as “death”, thus permitting them to converse with their former relatives or friends precisely as though they had ad their former bodies restored to them.

An interchange of souls took place, and on a score of nights I saw it happen. George “went off” with his mother—so he told me once—for en evening with her in the discarnate octave, and permitted discarnate or bodiless spirits to inhabit his physical self until his return when mortal ‘visiting’ was over. He would arrive at my apartment, where I always had friends gathered to witness the phenomenon, about 8 o’clock in the evening. The room would be closed and heavily curtained; it was usually lighted by one floor lamp. George would relax himself in a chair with his head thrown back comfortably and those of us in a semicircle about him would recite the Lord’s Prayer to tranquillize all of us. Then I would turn the dials of my radio until I came on some selection of dreamy music that aided the medium in falling into a trance. George would at first appear to drop to sleep. His eyes would close; his head would droop. Next it would seem as though his eyeballs sank into his skull. His face took on a waxy corpse like hue; his mouth fell open and his tongue filled it. It seemed to those of us who were watching that a dead man say in the chair before us!

The breathing became phlegmatic, them seemed to stop altogether; the hands grew cyanotic. Eight or ten minutes of this, with the radio finally shut off and silence in the room where all the doors had also been shut. Then suddenly it would appear to us that our “dead man” was in distress! The breathing resumed, signs of vitality came in his face, but his head would start jerking and rolling in his collar. His hands would come up and claw at his throat. A moment of this and then he would start whistling.

AT FIRST sittings it was all rather terrifying. But I soon got used to it. When the whistling came, I learned that George’s spirit had left his body and it had been taken possession of by the soul of a young musician, who told us one night that he had been killed in an accident in Detroit some years before. He always rendered us an obligation of his own composition before the real work of the evening commenced with the entities.

Frank stayed with us for about ten minutes and then the transition took place as before. George’s body went through another period of distress and then the deep bass voice of an American Indian would issue from the medium’s lips with a salutatory “How!”

THE question is repeatedly asked by the novitiate why so many mediums have these American Indian “controls”—or souls who act as guards and protectors

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

while the rightful soul is out of its body, to see that it does not become permanently possessed by entities who have no right to such permanent possession.

The answer seems to be that our American Indians lived so close to nature that they are still vibrating in what might be called the “elementals”. That is, having always lived in close earthly conditions throughout their mortal lives, they are more conversant with work of this nature, and it gives them an opportunity for service peculiar to their earthly capacities.

Be that as it may, the voice of an aged Indian issued from George’s lips and greeted us each in turn. He gave his name as White Cloud and persisted in singing us a ditty in his own language. The rendition over, he addressed me personally.

“You like my people?” he asked.

I said that of course I liked his people.

“You make words walk on paper,” was his manner of describing my vocation as an author.

I assented to this, also.

“You make words walk on paper about my people,” he informed me next. “You make words walk on paper about old chief. You are good man. You make words walk on paper about your people who are good men. They help old chief who is good man,” and he waited for me to confirm this.

I SEARCHED my memory. What was he talking about? Then it came to me. Twelve years bygone I had traveled for a time with a Wild West Show outfit to get some first hand material for a series of stories that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. There had been many Indians with out outfit. One sedate old Ogallalah chief had intrigued me by his size. I had become acquainted with him and written a yarn about him. And White Cloud knew about it and was recalling it to my attention. Not another person in the room had known I had written such a story. I asked White Cloud to suggest more details about the pot of the story. He did so! He was quite correct.

Perhaps he read my subconscious mind to accomplish this. I cannot say and the matter is unimportant.

What is of importance is, that on this particular night White Cloud had no sooner finished his comment on my Saturday Evening Post story about the old Ogallalah chief, than we beheld Wehnre’s body sinking into its “dead” aspect again and we knew that a substitution of souls was taking place. When the substitution had been made, and the body in the chair had shown signs of reanimation, I beheld the muscles of the face altering till the expression of a celebrated author of English sea stories had become so plain that the identity might be recognized. This author, by the way, “went over” in 1923. When this entering spirit-soul had oriented himself to the Wehnre mechanism, he started a strange motion with his right hand, while his elbow rested on the

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

chair-arm. After wards I grasped that the motion of the hand and wrist was really the capricious swinging of an invisible monocle … “Good morning,” he greeted me and my companions.

“Good morning,” I replied, properly awed if this was indeed the speaking soul of the world-famous literary-man whose books are known in every quarter of the globe.

“This is—,” giving the name of the famous author who had addressed me clairaudiently several days before.

Continuing to swing the invisible monocle, he turned to me, seated on his left and asked whimsically as if identifying himself— “Well, William, have you learned the meaning of the word ‘interclusions’ yet?” Here was a double-check on the incident of the previous afternoon when I had been alone in my apartment and heard obviously this man’s thought-speech in my ear only. Wehner had known nothing of the dictionary reference. I certainly had not been expecting either the famous author’s advent into George’s mechanism nor any allusion on his part to his dictionary suggestion. How to explain it?

It was easier and saner for me to accept the obvious and concede that the clairaudient speech was bona fide than it was for me to figure out the hocus-pocus in it—if the episode were fabricated.

It might have been cryptothesis, or subconscious mind reading. I grant anew—if the incident had comprised allusion to the word and nothing else. But I forthwith proceeded to have a lengthy conversation with this particular author about the book we were jointly engaged in writing, about literary work in general, about incidents in his own writing career that were not generally known and which were not in my subconscious mind at all.

Not only did he confirm his precious contact with me by discussing audibly through George’s larynx, points of story development which we had previously debated clairaudiently, but he gave me information about his own work while in mortal life that would be priceless if the public could only be convinced that I had actually talked with his “departed” soul.

I recall that I said to him: “It seems a little bit unfair for you to dictate literary productions for me out of your own fine mind and experience, and by your skilled technique, giving them to me for publication as my own. I feel that in putting out such material over my own signature, I am masquerading under false colors.”

Smiling indulgently he answered: “My dear William, you will discover as you go along in this work that such is the procedure. In aiding you I am but paying my debt to others who in my own mortal writing career, aided me. I got all my own books psychically, from another dimension, exactly as every author does, whether he is conscious of it or not. And when you return to us after your own work is completed, you will repay not me, but some other craftsman who needs higher supervision.”

“Are you still writing?” I asked him.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

“Certainly,” he answered.

“What disposition do you make of your writings when done in the higher realms of consciousness?

“We have great libraries over here,” he replied, “whose size and contents your mind could not grasp. We write for people in the higher dimensions exactly as we wrote in life for those in the three-dimensional world. More often we compose, however, for transmission to some mortal author to aid him in his career, although he may accredit our help only in the sense of ‘inspiration.’” “But why were you especially drawn to help me?” “First, because I had read and admired your work before I made the Transition, and was able to get close to your character mentally and spiritually when I had shed the husk of my physical self. Second, and the more important, I am interested in you for the greater work of spiritual revelation which you are attempting.”

“You mean psychical work?”

“I mean the candid way in which you are telling the public the truths about what each person actually encounters on passing through the change called Death. It would make such a cast difference in mortal psychology, and the inter-relationships of men everywhere, to have actual facts of common knowledge—abolishing all fear of Death and thus making life itself more beauteous—that we all want to assist in such revelations. You would scarcely accredit the identities of some of the souls who collaborate to gibe you the messages which you receive and pass on to the public.”

MY CELEBRATED author-friend stayed with us almost a half-hour, discussing literary methods, technique, careers of other famous authors whom he claimed he was living among on a higher plane—material which by no stretch of the human imagination could have been in the subconscious brains of either George or myself. Then he bade us a polite adieu and we beheld George’s physical body in the process of devitalization and gradual moribund coma. We sat discussing among ourselves some of the precepts we had just heard—for one of my friends present was a prominent New York magazine editor—when sudden vitality appeared to seize hold of George’s body and a woman’s voice issued forth from his lips.

“Hello, Bill” came the clear, surprised greeting. “How long have you been interested in this sort of thing?”

“Who is it?” I inquired.

“June!” came the answer in a tone that seemed exasperated that I did not grasp it at once. “June Mathis!” in a flash I adjusted myself. I was talking with the soul-personality of a famous Hollywood scenarist who had “gone over” some two years before on sudden demise while at a play in a New York theater.

Looking backward over ten years of the most dramatic of experiences in psychical research, I am forces to assert that no other one incident has since

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

furnished me with more conclusive and irrefutable proof that there is survival after mortal death, than the appearance of this woman in George’s physical instrument, and the conversation which consumed the next half-hour between us. Talking “face to face” with people who have made the passing is always a hair-raising experience

I had known her on and off for a three-year period on the West Coast while I had been out there, making movies prior to my “awakening.” She had at one time been story-editor for one of the big film companies and I had sat in her office for lengthy period and discussed prospective screen material with her. Here was a person whom I had definitely known in life in recent years, of whom I could ask questions, the answers to which were known only to myself—thus proving the survival of personality irrefutably.

“Haven’t you heard of my Seven Minute in Eternity article in the American magazine?” I bantered.

“Yes,” she replied, “only just tonight. But the world over here is a dozen times the size of the world of mortality, although contacts are pretty much the same. I heard about you tonight through your English author-friend and came along to be present because of my great admiration foe him.” I had a way to check up on this woman—unquestionably. It was a way that George Wehner could never fabricate, if all this were a phenomenon of his subconscious mind.

“Do you recall where I last met you in earth life?” I asked.

Just before she “died” in the National Theater in New York, June had married one Balboni—an Italian gentleman of parts who I understand became head of Mussolini’s state movie of their own from a script called the “Vienna Melody.” But they had decided this name not to be a good box-office “pull” so they ad—wittingly or unwittingly—purloined the name of my first novel “The Great Glory” for their picture. I had required to sue them in the California courts for this bit of appropriation, and had won a decision. They had recompensed me $2,500 foe this use of my title. In consequence, my first pleasant contact with June had terminated in a legal coolness. However, tonight—occupying George Wehner’s body for the moment, she seemed to have recovered from it. But I recall definitely where I had last seen her in the physical flesh—a meeting that was known only to the two of us. I had been out to the First-National-Warner studios in Burbank, just before quitting California, and had inadvertently come face to face with June at the flowered gate just behind the administration building. None but the pair of us had been around. I had opened the gate for her and spoken to her pleasantly. But the memory of our recent lawsuit over the “Great Glory” title had still rankled and she had given me only a perfunctory nod. No matter! She had come through to New York the next fortnight, gone to the National Theatre to witness a play, and dropped dead of heart failure I one of the aisles between the acts. Now I wanted the June Mathis spirit-soul in Wehner’s body to tell me where we had met face to face for the final time in California. The spirit in Wehner “thought” for a time.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

“Yes,” she responded. “Out in the rear of one of the executive buildings at First National Studios in Burbank, California. We met at the gate over one of the walks that led to the stages.” This was absolutely accurate, but how could George, the medium, know it—if it was George masquerading as June?

Come on, you materialists and skeptics who declare that “death ends everything” and that there is “no device not wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.” If June Mathis’s discarnate but perfectly conscious and remembering spirit were not located in George Wehner’s organism that night in New York, how did whatever personality WAS in George Wehner, know how to reply to me accurately in the matter of this last spot and place in which June and I had ever come face to face?

Try and explain it by your fantastic theories of Cryptothesis if you can! I say you can’t do it—or rather, that our “explanations” must be three times as fantastic as the one made obvious by this Mathis -Wehner-Pelley episode. If you want more positive proof than this that personality and consciousness endure after physical demise, I’m afraid I can’t give it to you.

I CANNOT report in detail the conversation that followed, because it appertained to private contacts, relationships, and business associations that June and I had experienced in screenland. But here is the absolute proof on which I rely, that I was talking to June, and that she is very much alive in her new phase of consciousness.

She made intimate statements about her contacts and business associates while in life, and confided data to me about the personal affairs of people in movie-land, that I had to check up on then I was next in California, and which I proved to be absolutely correct!

Here was information about this woman’s activities while in mortal life, and her trade and professional relationships, that in a manner of speaking were secrets “buried with her.” By no chance could they have been known to anyone present, either the medium or myself. Yet here she was, telling them to me. And they turned out quite correct when I made inquiries in Hollywood months later. She told me what certain Hollywood officials were doing in the business at the moment, what future plans they had for the industry, which were to be trusted and respected in future dealings, and which were untrustworthy and to be avoided.

Incidentally, she confided that she in turn had become a great screenwriter while in mortality through having a thorough knowledge of psychics. She said that a world famous movie star, in whose career she assisted, had been clairaudient as I was clairaudient. They had shut themselves away in a Hollywood room together time after time and gotten story material from others in a higher dimension, which she had sold, to Hollywood producers without the slightest difficulty. All her professional life and affairs were guided by instructions received in this manner.

It was a half-hour’s talk with an old friend just as graphic and real as though she

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

was there in her own physical body. And yet in Hollywood during her earth-life it had been “touch and go” between us. She was no intimate of mine. We had met in trade contacts as fellow authors and nothing more. There was no especial tie between us, impelling her to look me up.

The visit ended and June withdrew/

It was a perfectly gorgeous time that I enjoyed with “deceased” literary celebrities on this particular evening of which I write. June had no sooner vacated the Wehner mechanism than a soft, beautiful and obviously cultured spirit-soul took possession of the Wehner mechanism. “Robert Louis Stevenson!” it announced.

THIS was pretty “tall”…

Were all the famous authors of Eternity crowding into the Wehner body that night, intent on honoring me with their felicitations? Frankly, I was a bit skeptical at first. But not after Robert Louis started talking.

He began to tell us —myself, and the group that was present that evening—of his “explorations” on the bottom of the Pacific in the discarnate condition, since he had been living in the unobstructed universe. “Why are we thus honored?” I wanted to know.

“Authors,” he explained gently, “are a special family unto themselves in the Higher Dimensions. Their mutual profession unites them together. We who have been over on this plane foe a time have come to identify the Great Souls who are incarnate in the bodies of unknown people of the present earth-period, and we want to do that we can to facilitate their present worldly labors. As for my researches, I wish that I could prevail upon you to take clairaudiently the result of my Pacific Ocean researches since my demise in Samoa. I have been down to unbelievable depths. You have no idea of what is hidden by that great body of water. I was not only impressed by the submerged Lemurian cities but by the forms of animal life that exist on the deep floor of the Pacific. For instance, there are worms down there that never have seen the light of day, that measure thirty to a hundred feet in length. They are tremendously scaled, to withstand the water pressure at the depths at which they live. Occasionally a submarine volcano or earthquake precipitates them to the surface, and when they appear at the top of the water, sailors behold them and take tales of ‘sea-serpents’ into port. But actually they aren’t serpents —they’re worms!” The description of the submerged Pacific life that the spirit purporting to be Robert Louise Stevenson gave us that night made us forget that we were present at a sort of spiritualistic seance.

“Will you take a manuscript clairaudiently which I have written?” he requested.

I was “snowed under” with literary work at the time, and yet didn't wish to appear impolite.

“You come to me clairaudiently as you can,” I said, “and if I can get your ‘voice I’ll transcribe your manuscript.”

It was a couple of months before we actually made the contact, however, and I

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

only “captured” one chapter of the Stevensonian manuscript. I still have it in my books of “scripts.”

I HAVE never had much patience with the type of investigator in psychical research who passes over the obvious explanation for phenomena simply because it is obvious and frantically hunts for causes of unusual happenings on the principle: “—if something ain’t wrong, t’aint rigtht.” Such a type is not an investigator, anyway. He is not interested in getting at the truth. He is perpetually witch-hunting fraud. If he cannot find fraud, he is subconsciously disgruntled. He does not accredit that in failing to find fraud he may have confronted new and startling discoveries. He says: “If I have failed to find fraud, it doesn’t prove that fraud does not exist; it merely indicates that I have not been smart enough to detect it.”

All this is viciously negative.

No engineer would go about investigating the possibilities in electricity by first assuming that electricity does not exist. Yet that is precisely what happens in the matter of psychical researchers of the type who try to convince themselves of the truth of survival, negatively

ENTERING into this subject with the serious attention it deserves, we find people disposed to accredit only that which they can perceive with their physical senses. They fail utterly to take into account that those with whom they are establishing contact are operating from a dimension where all the laws of procedure applicable to the mortally finite do not maintain. Consequently when they do not get the same kind of proof in manifestation that they get in the material world, they are either disgruntled or skeptical. It is a childish attitude, but one that often worked incontestable harm, inasmuch it leaves the researcher open to constant doubtings, and these doubtings in turn reduce the investigator to that state where all sorts of misrepresentations occur from the dimension being investigated.

Now the alternative to all this is not to cast all phenomena aside and say that it is falsehood and fabrication, but to take into consideration the handicaps and limitations which people on the Other Side are under in forming contact with This Side, and appreciate in a way that our problems are their problems as well, inverted or turned about.

They want to form contact with us and convince us of their existence, but they have just as much difficulty in manifesting in the conditions of our dimension as we have in manifesting in theirs. So we have to look for proof of their existence to the kind of manifestation that is reducible to the medium in or from which they perform.

This is not rationalizing, but the truest part of truth, as thousands of sincere and positive investigators have discovered to their profit.

Which is all another way of saying that people on the Other Side give evidence of their survival via the mental senses —mentality being the medium in which

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

they function—whereas we on this plane give evidence of our survival via the physical senses. And the wise constructive investigator has to correlate the two.

Now and then this is done successfully, as in the incident I am about to relate.

ONE EVENING in the Wehner sittings, a person who identified himself simply as “Frank” came through and talked with one woman member of our group that I shall refer to hereinafter as “Minnie”. He claimed that just after the Spanish War he had been killed in Detroit in a streetcar accident. Succeeding to occupancy of George’s mechanism for the moment, he conversed with Minnie about himself and his ante mortem adventures in a way that allowed Minnie absolutely to identify him. They chatted as old friends, because Frank had reduced himself, as it were, to the physical by being allowed to use Wehner’s mortal mechanism. I was auditor to the conversation that went on. They referred to childhood pals and outings together which by no manner of coincidence the medium Wehner could have known about. If the claim is made that the medium might have possessed himself of all this knowledge beforehand, I want to ask two questions: How did he know that Minnie was going to be present that evening, so as to prepare himself and acquire al this information in advance, and how could he possibly acquire a plethora of such information that he had a ready and absolutely accurate answer foe any reference which she made to past acquaintances that came to her mind at the moment?

It would have been necessary for the medium to spend weeks running down the information and get it in such perfect form that he knew the “ins and outs” of Minnie’s life as adequately as she knew it herself, in order to carry on such a conversation as we listened to between them, that evening.

I AM PERFECTLY aware that a great library of information exists among charlatans, which they exchange among themselves for a consideration, informing them of the past histories of those coming to sittings. But here was a case of a woman who was an utter stranger to the medium, whom he did not know beforehand was going to be present this particular night, and who asked questions on the spur of the moment as they came into her head about people who could not possibly have been known to any others than herself and the friend who had died at the time of the Spanish War. The streetcar accident in Detroit she had not known about.

If there is a simple and reasonable explanation for such happenings, why not accept it in preference for one that is so involved and preposterous that it exceeds in phenomena the obvious one of survival and contact?

Minnie and Frank talked together as old friends, and not in one single reference or allusion was there a flaw in the information, an evasion, or a hesitancy, in carrying on the complete conversation.

But Frank was only a precursor of the much greater evidence that was

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

presently coming, proving survival definitely in an episode that stands out in my own thinking and acceptance, higher and clearer than almost anything else that has happened to me within recent years.

A few nights later we were in seance with wehner and the same moribund conditions of his body were evident as before. Suddenly after one of his phys ical revivifications, the voice of a little old lady—feeble as became her years—sounded from the mouth of the medium. She was not talking in English, however. She was talking in German …

It was Minnie’s grandmother directly addressing her, with the intonation, accent, and idioms of that particular woman’s speech, which no one could have duplicated without knowing her personally.

And Minnie’s grandmother had been on the Other Side something like forty years!

It was a somewhat poignant reunion. I sat to one side and witnessed the whole of it.

Haplessly, however, I do not understand German.

THEY discussed different members of the family, details concerning the last illness of Minnie’s mother—who had Gone Over a few weeks previously—idiosyncrasies of friends and situations, domestic and financial, which prevailed among them.

After recalling little intimacies between them which had occurred four decades before, and which Minnie had well nigh forgotten, the grandmother gave as near-perfect evidence of positive survival as I have thus far confronted. She proceeded to sing a droll little German folk song to Minnie, with which she had rocked Minnie to sleep as a child.

HERE was no medium asking for cues and headlines on another’s life, fumbling and evading, suggesting and fabricating, making slips and mistakes, and generally groping to present the illusion of a discarnate person sending a message. Here was all the evidence of a grandmother and granddaughter meeting after a forty-year separation and chatting about life as they had lived it in intimate contact in a little Iowa town among people long forgotten. It was not invited, the medium could not have known who was to be present that evening—in fact, he knew almost nothing of Minnie or her association with me or the work at that time.

Even a little dachshund named “Tip” was brought into the conversation, and Minnie had to search her memory to recall that when she was about three years old her family had owned such a dog for a time, but that her mother had been forced to put it out of the way because a neighborhood puppy afflicted with rabies had bitten it. Her mother was fearful that the dachshund might develop hydrophobia and bite the young children with whom it romped. Her grandmother declared that the soul of that long-forgotten pet was now with her mother in the Higher Level of conscious life, and was her incessant

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive


THE whole session was one of the highlights of my psychical experiences. Other manifestations I have had—from my own “dead” relatives and others—but none were quite so clear and convincing as the rendering of that pathetic lullaby in German, which by no reasonable chance could have been fabricated under the circumstances. The medium would have had to be possessed of the entire life-knowledge of those who were functioning in this peculiar mental-physical manner, and there was no source or sources of such information in existence outside of the brain of Minnie herself! In the face of such evidence is it gullibility to accept the obvious explanation: that Minnie’s grandmother was alive and was functioning—conclusively proved to both mental and physical senses—through George’s organism? The claim is often put forth that persons trying to identify themselves from the Higher Levels us e too peculiar allusions to accomplish it. They call to mind descriptions of persons, scenes, or episodes, which the one on the physical side thinks frail, insignificant, or to which they do not have ready mental access in memory. But suppose that a friend you have not seen or heard from for twenty years suddenly calls you up on the telephone from a distant city and says: “This is Joe Smith. Don’t you remember me? We went to school together twenty years ago in Oshkosh. Don’t you recall the picnic at Watson’s Glen? I was the boy with the red hair.” You may have forgotten any specific picnic at Watson’s Glen, for you went to a score of them while you lived as a child in Oshkosh. And scores of companions might have had red hair. On the other hand, Joe Smith with the red hair s aw that picnic through wholly different eyes and remembered you distinctly. Furthermore, it may have been the only picnic he ever attended at the Glen. The episode stands out in his memory and he uses it to identify himself. But because it has not remained with equal clearness in your memory is no proof that Joe Smith is a hoax, or that the man at the other end of the line is an impersonator. He may be, of course, but the chances are twenty to one that he isn’t, because he would know that sooner or later he could recall something to you that would rather irrefutably identify him or expose him. So it is in identifying those who have been graduated from mortality over a period of time. Giving them the benefit of the doubt leads to other contacts that gradually prove they are bona fide acquaintances of other years. Whereas to slam down the mental receiver on the hook and assume impersonation and hoax as a policy, can result in nothing but total termination of any contact whatever.

Results depend entirely on proper cooperation!

I ARGUE along these lines, not because I am over-eager to establish contact with those who have gone and therefore seize on such phenomena as reasonable proof, so much as because I have found this psychological attitude to be productive of the most astounding and convincing results.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

Minnie’s German grandmother talked to her for half an hour on the most intimate phases of their family relationships, referred to happenings back over forty years in a little city in southern Iowa, and then terminated the visit finally with the singing of the lullaby.

How could George Wehner ever have gotten that detail concerning Minnie’s family into his subconscious mind in a million years, without having been a member of Minnie’s family himself? How could he have known what the lullaby was, which Minnie’s grossmutter had sung to her, nearly a half-century in the past? Minnie had practically forgotten it herself. The voice which came from Wehner’s throat was not his own, but the old lady’s personal voice—something it would have been difficult to fabricate. True, it was produced audibly by Wehner’s vocal chords, but the pitch or tone of anyone’s voice is largely determined by the tension or “frequency” of his own individuality.

How could the whole feat, I demand, have been accomplished by other methods than those indicated—the interchange of spiritual personalities in the one body? The whole thing was done in a fully lighted room and without the slightest preparation have been made in regard to who would be present. I have had plenty of cause to learn all about the breed of psychic renegade who makes appointments to give some student—seeker private “readings” of a phenomenal nature, and who reads up on the innocent and gullible victim—eccentricities, experiences and family complications—or gets such information from colleague scoundrels, and equipped with such information merely turns it back to the victim as psychically acquired. None of this could have happened at the Wehner sittings, evening if he had been that kind of Sensitive—which emphatically he was not. In the first place, George almost never knew who was going to be present at these groups in my apartment until he had arrived there and been introduced. Sometimes I did not know who was to be there, myself. Many of my group’s members would bring in friends unannounced. But George—or whatever spirit-souls came into his organism—would converse with these last minute arrivals quite as intimately as Minnie’s grandmother talked with her about their family life back in Iowa. Another phase of the strange business was this — Lest it be argued that Wehner as a “sensitive” could read the subconscious minds of such sitters, how explain the fact that time and time again throughout the balance of that summer of 1929, as we held the gatherings one eveining a week, the “occupying” souls would impart information—later found to be absolutely correct—that had not been in our subconscious minds at all? June Mathis did this several times.

She chatted with me about Hollywood and movie-colony affairs as if she might have come on from the West Coast within the week, and when I next went through to California and checked on what she had told me, I discovered she had been right, to the hair.

It’s merely a rationalization of something that can’t be otherwise than the obvious, to call all such phenomena “the action of subconscious mind? What

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

sort of action, and just what part of subconscious mind? The rationalization in scores of instances was far more unlikely and even bizarre or fantastic than accepting the fact of consciousness-survival.