A Psychic in the Heartland: The Extraordinary Experiences of a Small-Town Doctorby Bettilu Stein Faulkner
A thoroughly entertaining and yet profoundly affecting account of the life of the author's uncle, a respected small-town doctor who, from the 1930s through the 1970s, experienced a wide range of spiritual phenomena: regularly journeying out of body and channeling his spirit guide, George. Through the records and journals of Dr. Riblet B. Hout, or "Rib" as he was… See more details below
A thoroughly entertaining and yet profoundly affecting account of the life of the author's uncle, a respected small-town doctor who, from the 1930s through the 1970s, experienced a wide range of spiritual phenomena: regularly journeying out of body and channeling his spirit guide, George. Through the records and journals of Dr. Riblet B. Hout, or "Rib" as he was known, we are made privy to what he learned about the connection between the healer and the healed, our individual missions on earth, free will, and our relationship with God. He also paints a vivid picture of the afterlife and provides a beautifully graphic first-person account of the actual moment of death, as the soul transitions away from physical life.A Psychic in the Heartland goes a long way in dispelling our fears about the process of dying and of what happens after death. It also offers history and insight into Spiritualism and the "spiritualist camps" of the day (as Dr. Hout was a frequent visitor and sought-after speaker). Previously sold only through a very small new age catalog, the self-published edition of this title was consistently one of the top two bestsellers, along with The Four Agreements. The catalog owner attributed this to the book's title: "They can't resist it." Now edited and "polished up," it will prove irresistible to fans of John Edward (Crossing Over), James Van Pragh (Heaven and Earth), Sylvia Browne (Adventures of a Psychic), and Echo Bodine (Echoes of the Soul).
About the Author:
Bettilu Stein Faulkner was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana during the Great Depressiona time when her Uncle Riblet's visits provided a bright spot for her and the entire family. Bettilu is now a retired registered nurse and the mother of three grown children. She lives in Pennsylvania where she continues her studies of health, healing, and the metaphysical.
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A Psychic in the Heartland
The Extraordinary Experiences of a Small-Town Doctor
By Bettilu Stein Faulkner
Moment Point PressCopyright © 2003 Bettilu Stein Faulkner
All rights reserved.
The Boy Who Was Different
On the last day of September, 1902, in the small farming community of Middlebury, Indiana, Cora Riblet Hout gave birth to her second child. Christened Riblet Brisbane, this boisterous infant was cause for great joy in the Hout household. Already the parents of a five-year-old daughter, Cora and her husband, Solomon, had long yearned for another child—preferably a boy. Had they known they were welcoming a psychic medium into their midst, they may well have greeted their newborn son with apprehension.
As it was, surrounded by Amish farms and within hiking distance of the Elkhart River and Michigan border, Rib let spent an idyllic childhood in a village in northern Indiana, playing in the village square across the street from the home where he was born. Self-sufficient Hoosiers, born of pioneer stock, Sol and Cora were politically conservative, God-fearing English-Lutherans, the embodiment of turn-of-the-century, Midwestern ideals. Séances, spirit materializations, and out-of-body experiences were as alien to the Houts' Christian tenets as Hinduism would have been. Belief in the supernatural was deemed an aberrant psychological affliction, and anyone holding such beliefs was considered "different." As one Middlebury native describes it, "Folks who practiced mysticism kept their beliefs to themselves or risked being ostracized—maybe even sent to an asylum." So, early on, Rib, a naturally gregarious, outspoken youngster, strove to keep his peace.
"I saw strange beings on a regular basis as a child," he recounted. "They appeared in many forms—fairies, elves, angels, gnomes, sylphs, and salamanders. Finding that the little people mostly liked to be around growing things, I often climbed my favorite tree and played with them. My psychic force must have attracted these playful spirits to me— afforded them energy, perhaps. It was dear from their antics that these phantoms reveled in the fact that I could see them."
Afraid of what mischief the spirits might unleash in the dark of night, Rib pleaded, "Mama, tuck in the bedclothes and leave the lamp lit." When Cora questioned why this bedtime ritual was necessary, five-year-old Rib explained, "The little people might climb up and get me while I sleep."
Assuming, perhaps, that Rib was just experiencing normal childhood "boogeyman" fears, Cora didn't argue her small son's logic or even inquire as to who these "little people" might be. Years later, Rib was unable to recall whether or not he openly discussed the antics of the little people with his family. He did remember, however, that as a five-year-old he informed a neighbor of what he saw and was scolded for his tale of "seeing a goblin."
Another neighbor recalled Riblet as an ordinary little boy growing up in the early 1900s. In a charming letter sent to my mother in 1964, the neighbor whose family, including their daughter Mabel, had been close friends with the Houts, wrote:
You folks were our best neighbors. I have a picture of Mabel and Riblet going to Sunday School. Riblet had a white suit on trimmed in blue. Mabel had a white dress on trimmed in blue. They were holding hands. I don't think they were over five or six years old. Your mother and I had go-carts for them. One Sunday we went to the cemetery for Memorial Day. While we were [there] it started to rain. So we went back to the church. Your mother and I had to sit in the aisle and hold the children. When we got home your mother came over and said, 'What do you think I did?' She said she took Riblet [into church] without any pants! She had hung them on the oven door and forgot to put them on!
But although he shared typical childhood experiences with his little friends, Rib was learning that he wasn't quite the same as they. Being different isn't easy for any child, and Rib was no exception. He was, by all accounts, an outgoing child, but whose principal mainstay was Cora. Whether or not she approved, or even shared her son's psychic precociousness, is a matter of conjecture. It is known, however, that she seemed more tolerant of psychic phenomena than most people of her day and did little to dissuade her son's budding interest in it. Indeed, it was Cora who reported her own supernatural experience to Rib when he was older.
"Mother enjoyed weaving fabrics of her own design," Rib recounted years later. "An artistic and intuitive person, she'd take a lantern out to the barn at night, to work over a large loom. She'd hang the flickering kerosene lamp on a hook overhead and, with no evidence of a breeze or disturbance in the barn, the heavy lantern would sway gently, back and forth, the entire time she worked. When she told me about the lantern's movement, it was clear that she considered it something out of the ordinary."
Rib also explained that his mother accepted New Thought, a mental healing movement whose philosophy includes the idea that man is a manifestation of God, and therefore possesses the power to create and heal with the mind. Cora also regularly read Nautilus magazine, whose religious articles clearly did not correspond with any established religion. Nautilus, which ceased publication in 1953, was edited by Elizabeth Towne, a prolific New Thought writer, and included articles on science, psychology, telepathy, auras, clairvoyance and natural healing, among other topics. The fact that Cora subscribed to this magazine may provide a clue to her interest in mysticism.
Sol, on the other hand, tolerated none of what he termed, "Rib's shenanigans." "Because of the psychic energy that I had no control of," Rib explained, "I got in trouble more with my father, who was always threatening me. My worst fear as a child was my dad coming after me. All of a sudden, I would see flashes of color around myself, feel something like a vortex whirling me into nothingness. It was very intense and most unpleasant. Those episodes were the unhappiest times of my childhood, but fortunately, as I grew older, they disappeared."
"My father was a fair, but stern man," Rib allowed. Sol was a lean-muscled, no-nonsense taskmaster, a telephone-company employee who worked from dawn till dusk selling telephone service and installing phones to new subscribers across the Indiana countryside. Later, he moved his family from Middlebury to the nearby town of Goshen, where he bought and operated a grocery store.
"When I was in my teens," Rib said, "poltergeist activity was a real problem. Not understanding it, I didn't have very good control of the pent-up psychic energy; and Dad often accused me of being deliberately disobedient, when I hadn't been. I remember he once asked me to pump a pail of water which then tipped over on him without my touching it. He was enraged, yelling, 'You're going to take my foot'—a vernacular expression he used when he was angry—and started toward me. Of course I got punished. I remember another time I was at the top of the basement stairs, and he was at the bottom. Suddenly a small board that was standing on the top step, leaning against the wall, went hurtling downstairs of its own accord. I hadn't touched it! But of course Dad thought I was responsible."
A habitual sleepwalker in his teens, Rib sometimes roamed the house at night. Accustomed to encountering spirits in the corridors, his typical reaction was nonchalance, but one incident in particular disturbed him. Waking thirsty late one night, Rib wandered downstairs to the kitchen for a drink. Standing at the sink, he tried to draw water from the well and was startled to see his hand go right through the pump handle. Pondering the episode later, he realized he had been out of his body. "I was astral projecting, trying to get a drink of water, and I couldn't because I'd left my body upstairs!" Another time, Rib nearly collided with an apparition. "This gave me pause. Usually the spirits were misty in appearance, but this one looked mortal. It didn't dawn on me until much later that, when I was in my astral body, the spirits looked solid, but when I was in my physical body, the spirits were semitransparent."
A popular youth who amused his chums with poetry readings, impromptu plays, and magic shows, Rib gained a reputation for being the class down.
"A a kid," he admitted, "I was a blatant showoff and did a lot of dramatic, hocus-pocus stuff, but it was all in fun. I was performing sleight of hand one afternoon, with my sister and some neighbor kids for my audience. The nearby French doors leading to the empty parlor were dosed, but there was a rug under the doors that was partly in the room where we were. I was standing on it but when I stepped off the small carpet, before I could say abracadabra, the rug flew under the door, clear into the next room. All us kids tore out of the house screaming. I didn't try any more magic tricks for a long time."
Despite his sleepwalking and strange sightings, Rib succeeded in school. "Teachers seemed to understand me somehow; they were kind. I don't give myself credit for super intelligence, but in grammar school and throughout high school, I got As and Bs without really trying. Lessons came easy because, in examinations, I would write answers to questions I didn't know. I guess someone up there was helping me."
Conscious of his guardian angel since childhood, Rib said, "I couldn't see his face, just the outline of his body. He never spoke a word and, to this day, I have no idea who he might have been, except that I knew he was my protector, my buffer. He had a regalness about him and always stood at my right side, but behind me. I accepted him as casually as I accept you—as casually as any trusting child. He was with me all through high school and when I no longer detected his presence, I realized I had taken his devotion for granted."
Much later, Rib came to rely on his spirit guides in much the same way he had his guardian angel, but, he said, "I never had any doubt that this, my first protector, was special—different from all those that followed."
In addition to the gradual departure of his guardian angel, two events occurred in Rib's senior year that would determine the direction of his life.
Able to discern auras surrounding the ill and infirm, Rib felt a keen empathy for the sick and suffering. When his grandmother Riblet became seriously ill, his only consolation was the fact that her aura did not indicate death. "Her colors weren't muddy," he explained, "they were bright."
Worried nonetheless, the family called in a respected female osteopath. Gradually, the grandmother's condition improved and Sol and Cora, impressed with the doctor's diagnostic skills and her powers of healing, voiced their gratitude. When the doctor commented that Rib had all the necessary requisites to become a physician himself, the family discussed the possibility. Cora and Sol had fancied the ministry for their son, but they were soon swayed by Rib's enthusiasm for a medical career. And so, with his parents' consent, Rib applied to the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri.
It's important here to understand the difference between a traditional American medical practice and osteopathy. Developed in the late nineteenth century, osteopathic medicine is a unique form of American medical care that focuses on the unity of all body parts and recognizes the body's ability to heal itself. Osteopathy also stresses preventive medicine, eating properly, and keeping fit. In effect, osteopathy is responsible for the modern-day concept we call wellness.
An osteopath, in practice, evaluates patients' personal health risks and then acts as a teacher to help them take more responsibility for their own well-being by changing unhealthy patterns. In other words, osteopaths practice a "whole person" approach to medicine rather than treating specific symptoms or illnesses only. And incorporated into the osteopath's practice is the osteopathic manipulative treatment—known by patients as, simply, a "treatment"—in which physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage the body's natural tendency toward good health.
It is not surprising, then, given Riblet's psychic experiences, in his youth and throughout his life, that he would have been drawn to osteopathy. In fact, as we shall learn, it is precisely Riblet's psychic abilities and his ability to heal by touch, that allowed him to bring such profound relief to his patients.
In the same year that Riblet applied to medical school, he discovered, on a routine visit to the library, a very special book. There, on a dusty shelf, he came across a dog-eared volume by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle entitled, Wanderings of a Spiritualist. Rib enthusiastically read accounts of ordinary people experiencing supernatural visitations and occurrences similar to his own.
"I'm not the only one," he excitedly told his best friend, Charles Brennan. "There are other people who see what I see." Charles, a chum Riblet met when they both took part in little theater productions, was a methodical, prudent person. Although not as outgoing as Riblet, he was a loyal and supportive friend. In fact, it seemed meant to be that Charles would be the one who would help Rib understand his mystical experiences. It so happened that in Charles's home was an entire collection of books on psychic phenomena—and Charles kindly asked his parents' permission for Rib to borrow them. The collection was actually a small library that belonged to a group of his father's friends.
As it turned out, Charles, who'd never so much as hinted that his father was a devotee of spiritualism, regularly attended séances, meetings where people attempted to receive messages from the spirit world. Rib was ecstatic when he was invited to join the group in a session with a medium who specialized in materialization—that is the ability to produce a spirit in a form visible to the human eye. As he recalled it, "I remember the séance took place in semidarkness in the medium's home. She sat behind a curtain, which opened and closed, according to the whims of the spirits, who appeared one after another." Rib saw them all, but recognized none until, standing before him, was the image of his loving grandfather, John P. K. Riblet, who had died five years earlier.
"Everyone in the room saw Grandpa," Rib recalled, "but no one reacted like I did. It frightened the life out of me! He stepped toward me and tried to touch me. Terrified, I backed up—too frightened to speak. His long white beard and facial features were just as I'd remembered him. There was no doubt in my mind who this was." Despite this apprehensive reunion, Rib was overjoyed that the medium had contacted his beloved grandfather. And with this experience, the terrible loneliness and fear of ridicule with which he had suffered in silence for so long subsided somewhat. He had compatriots—fellow pilgrims voyaging into unorthodox realms. He saw mysticism as a gift to be explored and celebrated. Poring over textbooks, periodicals, and literature, Rib pledged to dedicate his life to studying this thing called spiritualism.
Early Messages from Beyond
After high school graduation, Rib took a year's hiatus and worked alongside Sol and Cora in the grocery store, saving every dollar he earned. In the autumn of 1921, waving goodbye to family, friends, and his high school sweetheart, he set out for the long journey to Missouri and medical school. As the train pulled away from the depot, he knew he was heading too far from home to return for weekend visits, but he arrived in Kirksville determined to apply himself to the studies needed for entrance into the healing profession. While he wasn't active in the school's extracurricular programs, he learned, through some women students from a nearby teachers' college, about a little theater group and was invited to participate. He was pleased to find he enjoyed the stage.
During his college years, Riblet also met, through correspondence only, the sister of a classmate, and fell in love. Although he longed to meet her in person, this was not to be. The young woman suddenly fell ill and died shortly after an operation. Because he felt that she was the only girl for him, this was a devastating blow to the young student. But while he grieved, he kept up his work, realizing the need to remain true to his goal. The seasons and semesters flew by, and, in June of 1925, Riblet was graduated from medical school, being awarded the degree, Doctor of Osteopathy. Shortly afterward, he took and passed the state medical boards, and was granted a license to practice.
Diploma in hand, he returned to Goshen and was greeted at the station by his parents, my mother, my sister, and me. The house, his mother's large flower garden, and even Main Street, looked the same, yet so much in Riblet's young life had changed. His best friend, Charles, had accepted a job in Chicago, his high school sweetheart was now married, and Sol and Cora had sold the grocery store.
Shaking off the unexplained loneliness that haunted him since childhood, Rib purchased a few essential pieces of medical equipment and sent out announcements that he was starting a practice. "My equipment and shingle very nearly got cloaked in cobwebs," Rib laughed. "It seemed the townsfolk balked at consulting a twenty-three-year-old doctor for their medical problems. If I had been renting an office, I would have had to give up sooner."
Excerpted from A Psychic in the Heartland by Bettilu Stein Faulkner. Copyright © 2003 Bettilu Stein Faulkner. Excerpted by permission of Moment Point Press.
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