Contact the Other Side: 7 Methods for Afterlife Communicationby Konstantinos, Joanna Willis (Editor)
The reasons are manyproof of survival, descriptions of the afterlife, words of love, resolution of conflict; a farewell never spoken-but the search for communication with those who have died is as old as the human race. Maybe just reading about these conversations between the worlds is not enough for you. Maybe you want to experience these life-changing
The reasons are manyproof of survival, descriptions of the afterlife, words of love, resolution of conflict; a farewell never spoken-but the search for communication with those who have died is as old as the human race. Maybe just reading about these conversations between the worlds is not enough for you. Maybe you want to experience these life-changing exchanges for yourself. If so, Contact the Other Side is the book you are looking for.
This is not just another collection of stories describing other peoples' experiences. It is filled with simple, clear instructions that will give you a range of methods for seeing, hearing, and speaking with the dead. In recent times, technology has given us powerful new tools for making these contacts. Using things you probably already own like a camcorder, computer, or tape recorder, you can contact departed loved ones or other spirits, record their images and voices, and establish two-way communications between the worlds. The more traditional methods of seance, trance, and scrying are also detailed. Best of all, you don't have to be an "techie" or an occultist to use any of these techniques-they are written so any ordinary person can simply choose whatever technique feels best.
The benefits to be gained from communicating with those on the other side are wide-ranging, and are unique to each of us. But there is one thing that is of great interest to most people-the departed are the only ones in a position to definitively answer the age-old question "What happens to us when we die?"
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Read an Excerpt
The civilization of ancient Egypt, the world of the “Two Lands” united by the shining strand of the Nile, was a place that exuded magic and mystery at every turn. Every breeze, every flight of birds, even the random arrangement of lotuses in a temple pond or the movements of a sacred bull as he wandered in his paddock, all of these reflected the divine presence that pervaded the land.
With wisdom, these revelations of the divine will could be interpreted so that one could live peacefullyin accord with Maat, the divine rightnessso that the heart was clear and light, and life itself was balanced and filled with beauty and sacred awareness. To live in Egypt was to live in the temple of the world, a divine land whose inspired temple servants had mastered all the many arts of magic, divine communication, and divination. By words of power, or hekau, like gods themselves they could command the elements, contact the gods, and bring forth new creations.
For the average person living in Egypt, the temples themselves were forbidden places, whose high pylon gates would rarely open and whose innermost sanctuary was only open to the high priest or priestess and one or two other exalted god-servants. Once a year, on a festival for a high holy day, the divine statue would be brought out of its sanctuary and exposed to both the life-giving rays of the sun and the adoration of the folk who worked the fields, fashioned the goods, and served the god-king, the pharaoh. On these occasions, the movements of the holy image might be interpreted as the answer to a heart-spoken question, or a query could be posed directly to the priests carrying the divine statue.
Would the statue shift slightly for yes, or tilt another way for no? Temples with renowned oracles drew huge crowds for these festivals. The Nile would be busy with brightly decorated boats sailing up to dock at the temple quay, where everything, even the mooring post adorned with the head of a goddess, was imbued with the magical power of the temple beyond.
But the human need for sacred guidance couldn’t be compressed into one or two moments a year, and then, as now, divination belonged both to the highly trained clergy and to the inspired folk magician. Outside, in the cooling shadow of the temple walls, arts of divination might be offered anytime in exchange for a piece of cloth, a sack of onions, or a little jar of oil.
Closer to home, Grandmother might know a bit of magic, using a lump of wax, a piece of thread, a few grains of sand scraped from a temple stone, or even a symbol to draw in ink on a scrap of linen to make a request or attract the benevolent attention of a deity. Some of these pieces of folk magic have survived for millennia. Even today, Egyptian women press together balls of dough on the eve of Lelat al Nuktah, Night of the Drop, the ancient Egyptian Gerekh en Haty, the holy night when the tears of Isis began to cause the Nile to swell against its banks. Making one for each member of the family, the women set them by the threshold to dry overnight. In the morning, the pattern of the cracks is carefully inspected. A ball too smooth means few years remain for its owner; one filled with many strong cracks presages a long life, long enough to earn many more wrinkles through the passage of years.
Many methods of divination involved children, believed to be naturally pure and closer to the divine world they had inhabited before their recent births. Their information, whether psychic or mundane, was considered reliableeven Isis, looking for the body of Osiris, sought the advice of children to guide her on her journey. Elaborate rites required a young person to scry in a pool of ink in a darkened room, and give the report of what they saw in the shining surface.
A less ritually inclined person with an important question could wander by the outer walls of the temple at lunchtime, when young scribes would be playing near the gates. Passing the happy, shouting children, a question would be repeated in the mind. The next random words heard as the children played their games would serve as the divinely inspired answer. In the beliefs of Kemet, the “Black Land” made livable by the dependable return of the fertilizing Nile, everything vibrated with living magic, and so anything might show the divine will. A question or request would be formed, and then anything that caught the attention could indicate the divine answer, or at least divine attentiona bird crying out, the waving of temple banners in the breeze, and even the flights of scarab beetles sparkling in the sun were subject to excited scrutiny.
Khepera, the Divine Scarab
of the Sun
With a large scarab beetle serving in place of a head, the human form of the sun and creator-god Khepera is strange to behold. Even in his beetle form, the wings are sometimes falcon wings rather than those of the beetle itself. Beetle or bird, Khepera’s multicolored wings were believed to provide the brilliant colors of both the dawn and sunset skies, and he grasped the round globe of the sun and pushed it into the sky, where he rolled it all day and then guarded it all night. Khepera was the Sun God, supreme long before Ra, Amun, or Aten, a self-creating and constantly transforming deity whose very name came to mean “becoming, transforming, and creating.” But how did a beetle, and a dark one at that, become a symbol of the all-creating Sun God?
The answer lies in the mysterious habits of the Scarabeus sacer, one of several species of beetles in Egypt that caught the attention of the inhabitants. These beetles gather their favorite food, the dung from oxen and cattle, and roll it into huge spheres, which they push around and fight to keep safe from the predations of jealous beetles. Female beetles laid their eggs in a similar ball, providing food for the young beetles when they emerge. All positive attributes were assigned to the beetlesthey were creative, protective, and they seemed to prefer to roll their movable feasts from east to west, like the movement of the sun. The small beetle easily rolling its huge dung ball may have even inspired the invention of the wheel, a great gift to lighten the labors of humankind. Early observers believed that all beetles were males. In this view, like gods, they sprang self-generated from the rich mud of the Nile. In the heat of the day, when all other creatures took to the shadows, brightly colored, metallic-bodied beetles took to the sky in flight. In evening, like the sun setting, they would find a safe, hidden place for the night.
With all this magical potency, the scarab became the supreme symbol of life to the Egyptians, far surpassing even the ankh as a magical amulet and symbol of life. In the preparations for the afterlife, Yves Cambefort believes that the process of mummification and the diagonal wrapping of many mummy bandages may have been done in imitation of the larval form of the beetle, decorating the human body in hopes that the spirit would enjoy the same seemingly magical transformation the beetle achieved, changing from worm to pupa and then to winged being with full powers of flight. The wrapped body swathed in linen strips does resemble the pupal stage of the beetle, when the hard outside shell conceals the fluid rebirth taking place inside as the wormlike grub gains its wings. Carol Andrews cites a view held by some Egyptologists that even the structure of Egyptian tombs was based on the vertical shaft and horizontal chamber the female beetle constructs to safely hold her pear-shaped egg ball.
Physical and spiritual transformation and the freedom to assume any desired form was a crucial part of the many rites contained in the Book of Coming Forth by Day. The deceased initiate could follow the divine instructions to become a swallow, a falcon, a lotus, or the winged beetle itself. As divination tools, the scarabs once again bring that same power of personal transformation.
The Scarabs in Egypt
For the Egyptians, carved or molded images of scarab beetles served several purposes and can be divided into four different types. These are scarabs for identification, scarabs that honor or commemorate an important event or person, funerary scarabs, and scarabs used in jewelry and as amulets. The identification scarabs bear a name, sometimes with an inscription or symbol. As the Egyptians often sealed objects and doors with knotted ropes over which a clay lump was pressed, the scarab was an easy-to-carry sealing object that could be pressed into the wet clay. If anyone broke through the seal, the assault was unmistakable. The sealing scarabs, since they were distinctive, assured that the door or object could not be simply resealed after the theft. Letters were sealed by rolling up the papyrus, tying it with cord, and then pressing a sealing-stone into the wax or clay seal.
Many scarabs bear the name of pharaohs, sometimes those of dynasties many centuries older than the tombs in which they were found. The Egyptians, like us, were fascinated by ancient times and would sometimes try to re-create the art and images of past golden ages. It is believed that scarabs bearing the names of long-past pharaohs were part of this desire to honor and restore the “good old days.” Sometimes a single scarab would contain the name of the current pharaoh paired with one from a past dynasty, rather like modern American politicians posing with an image of Lincoln or Washington in the background.
In some cases, the presence of a king’s name on a scarab is the only individual record we have of his existence, which has enabled archaeologists to correct and expand lists of kings. Always holy, deceased pharaohs were considered to be especially divine, so carrying the name of a pharaoh on a scarab may also have functioned as an amulet designed to attract the attention of the new god.
Although only a few types exist, the so-called historical scarabs were issued to commemorate and publicize important events. In essence a durable form of press release, these big scarabs were carved with tales of the prowess or accomplishments of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, made in many copies, and distributed throughout the country and to vassal states beyond the borders. This custom died out after his first son, first known as Amenhotep IV and then as the “heretic pharaoh,” Akhenaten, issued his own commemorative scarabs. Future pharaohs shunned the practice.
Scarabs were carried as good luck pieces and exchanged as gifts, usually with formulaic good wishes, like “Happy New Year”making them a durable form of an early greeting card. Others bore the name of a god or goddess, such as “Amon Is My Strength,” intended to bring the energy and particularly the protective powers of the deity to the person who carried it.
While scarab seals were worn as rings, they were also incorporated into other jewelry. Necklaces were formed of different-colored scarabs strung together, protecting the neck of the wearer and, perhaps, ensuring the continual renewal of beauty.
Most of the early funerary scarabs produced were tiny, often only about half an inch long. One exception was the heart scarab, a much larger scarab that was placed on the throat or chest of the mummy. Sometimes called “The Heart of Isis,” use of the heart scarabs arose during the tumult of the Hyksos Period, apparently under King Sobekemsaf of the Seventeenth Dynasty. When so much of Egyptian culture was at risk, thoughts of rebirth in a better place were even more important to the Egyptians, and so yet another protective amulet was created.
The heart scarabs are usually inscribed with a magical spell known as Spell 30B, expressing the wish of the heart’s owner that no obstruction to salvation would emanate from the heart itself.
Even during Ankhenaten’s reign, when many funerary customs were forbidden as heresy, scarabs were still placed with mummies. They were often inscribed with the “nefer” sign for happiness, accompanied by a fish symbol.
One papyrus document shows the proper distribution of the various funerary amulets that were placed on the body or within the mummy’s bandages. In addition to the heart scarab and pectoral scarab, eight or nine other scarabs were laid within the wrappings, providing their powers of protection and regeneration for the parts of the body beneath them.
Different areas produced very distinct scarabs, even though the kilns were only a few miles from each other. Tanis provided schist scarabs of poor quality and decayed glazes but nearby Nebesheh created clay scarabs sparkling with a light-green glaze. Scroll-bordered scarabs were the special creation of Abydos, ancient center of Osirian worship. Fashionable styles changed from dynasty to dynasty, resulting in a wonderful variety over time. Some experts on insects can discern the different types of beetles used as scarab models.
Scarabs were exported to other countries, and local imitations soon sprang up as the bugs became popular additions to funerary customs. They are found at many sites in the Holy Land that were under Egyptian control, and further east into western Asia. Their small size made them perfect souvenirs, and they were carried to many places, often ending up incorporated into local burials. Scarabs found their way into tombs and gravesites throughout the Graeco-Roman world and beyond, into the “barbarian” lands. Even then, the allure of ancient Egypt and the fame of its sacred magic made many who may not have ever heard the names of the Egyptian gods still want to possess their token in the underworld . . . just in case things worked out differently than they expected.
As with many things Egyptian, earlier examples are mysteriously of higher quality than many of the later versions. Pioneering researcher Flinders Petrie notes that Khufu’s Fourth Dynasty (c. 2630–2510) scarabs are small and beautifully made, with fine, durable coloring, but only two kings later, by the time of Khafra, the finer points of the art of glazing were lost. This loss of quality continued until the Eleventh Dynasty, when permanent, hard glazes of good color enjoyed a revival. By the next dynasty, these advances were already slipping away again, and the colors were not as permanent. The common brown scarabs excavated in great numbers began their magical lives as bright green beetles, and a similar transformation occurred with most white scarabs, which started out as blue.
Petrie was one of the first to seriously study scarabs, though he was afflicted with a curious blind spot regarding forgeries. Despite working in a time when local entrepreneurs had seen the foreign passion for scarabs, and were reproducing them on a vast scale with increasing cleverness, Petrie insists that, “Generally speaking, forgeriesexcept of one or two obvious kindsare very rare, and there is nothing like the amount of doubt in the matter which is supposed to exist.”
T. G. Wakeling devoted twenty-eight pages to tales of forged scarabs, including those that had fooled experts. He writes, in Forged Egyptian Antiquities (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1912), that “it is now extremely difficult for even well-known Egyptologists to give a definite statement concerning the genuineness or otherwise of a specimen submitted to them.” He adds that forgery is nothing newwe have no way of knowing if the “re-issued” scarabs made a thousand years after the reign of the king they commemorated were passed off to unsuspecting Egyptians as the real thing. Think about this if you are tempted to spend several hundred dollars to buy a “genuine” ancient scarab for your collection!
Forgers with consciences sometimes would go to the extent of making new scarabs out of the ground-up paste of unattractive ancient ones, or glazing them with chipped-off glazes from damaged or less desirable antiquities. Or small gemstone scarabs were created out of beads found in tombs. Facing a gullible buyer, the seller could happily swear that the scarab is genuinely old.
In some cases, the newly made scarabs make a visit that would please real-life beetles, who rely on the nourishment provided by the dung of animals. To age these modern re-creations, the completed scarabs are buried in a dung heap, then oiled, covered with dirt, and finally carried around by the forger to give them convincing signs of wear.
Modern Egyptian scarab manufacturers are said to feed their scarabs to penned turkeys, who later deposit them, suitably aged, for the benefit of their keepers. Since the scarab beetle deposits its own eggs in a ball of dung, this method of creating new scarabs also has an odd resonance with the original beetle! Before this method grew in popularity, a good aged patina was obtained by burying them in wet sand, earth, and ashes.
Most of the scarabs made today are too obviously of modern manufacture to be confused with the real thing. Present-day scarab dealers find a ready market for reproductions. Most gemstone scarabs used in jewelry are cut far away from Egypt, in Hong Kong or other parts of Asia. Hieroglyphic inscriptions are reduced to a few suggestive scribbles, scarcely recognizable and almost invariably unreadable or without meaning.
The Magical Beetle
The special attention granted the beetle was not limited to Egypt. Over a quarter of a million types of beetles are known, ranging from the infinitesimal to huge specimens the size of toy cars, sporting horns like rhinoceros. Many of them are important in creation stories, perhaps because of the worldwide myth of the creation of humans by a deity forming us out of damp clay. The many dung beetles who live their lives seeking moist excrement may have been thought appropriate companions for the creation deities, and sometimes took their places in the myths. One of these is Aksak, a South American beetle deity who formed the Chaco tribespeople out of clay. Tales from Southeast Asia and India tell of a scarab who dives through the swirling waters of primeval time, grasps some earth from under the waters, and uses it to form dry land, creating the stage for the emergence of land animals and humans.
The English word “beetle” comes from the Old English bitela, meaning “biting.” While most beetles don’t prey on humans, some of them can deliver a nasty bite. They are often classified in literature with the so-called noxious creatures, such as the spider and scorpion. Shakespeare includes them when the fairies sing asleep their queen in Act II, Scene II of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.
Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Elsewhere, the bard presents a more sympathetic beetle:
Darest thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
(from Act III, Scene I of Measure for Measure)
In modern times, scarabs are often incorporated into necklaces and rings, and imitation heart scarabs are carved from soapstone and used as paperweights. Something of the old magic still clings to scarabs. New Age folklore credits the faience scarab with the ability to absorb stray radiation from computer monitors. The quartz in the clay is supposed to draw the emanations into the body of the scarab, thus protecting the computer user. Nearly two thousand years ago, Roman writer Pliny wrote that the green color of scarabs was believed to be restful to the eyes, and noted that the gemstone carvers kept them nearby to prevent eyestrain. Modern scientists have found that the human eye is best adapted to see green, so gazing at a green scarab may in fact be good for the eyes. Whether or not they are effective against radiation is another question.
Before low-radiation monitor screens became commonplace, a bright turquoise faience scarab stood guard for me. Whether it was psychology or magic, its presence seems to make a difference, and though I don’t consciously use it as a radiation amulet anymore, it still decorates my desk. As an ancient symbol of the sun, which constantly consumes energy, perhaps the scarab is an appropriate choice to also consume harmful rays. And perhaps the Egyptians used scarabs as amulets because they, too, found they made a difference.
Meet the Author
Konstantinos is a recognized expert on occult, new age, and paranormal topics. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and technical writing from New York Polytechnic Institute. He is a published author of articles and short fiction which have been featured in numerous publications including Popular Electronics, The Spook, and FATE Magazine. Konstantinos is a popular lecturer on the paranormal at colleges and bookstores in the New York City area and he has appeared on CNBC's After Hours and The Ricki Lake Show.
A Dark Neopagan, Konstantinos has been researching the occult and practicing magick for over fifteen years. Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Konstantinos now devotes his time to writing, singing Gothic rock music, and exploring nocturnal life in New York City and around the country.
Konstantinos is also the author of Vampires: The Occult Truth, Summoning Spirits: The Art of Magical Evocation, Speak with the Dead: 7 Methods for Spirit Communication, Gothic Grimoire, Nocturnal Witchcraft,Nocturnicon: Calling Dark Forces and Powers, and the forthcoming Werewolves: The Occult Truth (September 2010).
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