Read an Excerpt
Thousands of people, many of them currently on earth, contributed to this book. There are the spirits and ghosts around the world who’ve been kind enough to show up and tell me their stories for the last half a century or so. There are the 2,014 visitors to my Web site who had the courage and generosity to e-mail their experiences to me, some of which you’ll find in the pages that follow—and let me make it clear right now, I read every single one of those e-mails. Those 2,014 brave people were on the receiving end of some fascinating appearances by spirits and ghosts, some of them deeply comforting and some of them terrifying. There’s a victim of an unsolved murder who told me the name of her killer, and there’s a Spirit Guide who left her voice on an audiotape, repeating a single word that gave a woman the key to her husband’s criminal life. There’s a woman who was given strength by a visit with an ex-boyfriend on The Other Side who she didn’t know had passed away, and a man who would never have found out he had a stillborn baby sister if her spirit hadn’t come to introduce herself when he was four years old.
To the thousands of us collaborators on this particular book, and the many millions who don’t question any more than we do that of course there’s an afterlife, there are those who will always be ready with a list of handy explanations for what we “think” we’re seeing, hearing, and feeling. “Grief hysteria,” “oxygen deprivation,” and variations on terms for both “mental illness” and “scam” are among the most popular. What these skeptics and “experts” are usually insisting on, though, is the same cynical demand, over and over and over again, which boils down to:
“Prove that there’s life after death.”
I’m sixty-six years old, and I’ve never spent one instant doubting that there’s life after death. The thousands of us who contributed to this book, on earth and beyond it, don’t doubt it. The millions we represent don’t doubt it. God certainly doesn’t doubt it, since He’s the One who told us it’s true in the first place, and we take His word for everything. We’re not the ones who are having a problem with this. You are. So why do we keep knocking ourselves out trying to prove something we already know with absolute certainty?
Here’s my suggestion to the skeptics and “experts,” for a refreshing change of pace. We’re done proving that there’s life after death. We’ve proven it well past our own satisfaction. From now on, let’s do it this way: You prove that there’s not.
THE TRUTH ABOUT GHOSTS AND SPIRITS
I believe in ghosts, and in the real and magnificent presence of spirits among us from The Other Side.
I believe because, like so many of you, I’ve seen them, heard them, been startled by them, even smelled the faint familiar fragrance of a lost loved one, urging me to notice, to embrace their assurance that they’re not gone at all, they’re right here, not some trick of my imagination or wishful thinking, if I’ll just open my eyes, ears, mind, and heart and pay attention.
I believe because, surrounded by so much overwhelming evidence of their existence during my sixty-six years on this earth, I’d be insane not to believe.
Most of all, I believe because I know to the core of my being that the majority of the world’s great religions are right—we are all eternal, every one of us, as our birthright from God who created us. Our spirits always were and always will be. Our physical bodies are only temporary housing for the essence of who we are, that divine part of us that feels joy and sorrow and love and reverence and holds our truth and our timeless memories and our wisdom intact. Death will take our bodies sooner or later, but it can never, ever destroy us. God promised us everlasting lives, and He doesn’t break His promises.
And it’s precisely because I take God at His word that I can’t imagine not believing in the existence of ghosts and spirits among us. If our spirits really do transcend death, if they’re immortal as we know they are, that means they never cease to exist. So why on earth would we disbelieve the existence of something we agree never ceases to exist? In fact, why not recognize that the presence of ghosts, and of spirits from Home, is actually comforting, even worthy of celebration, proving as it does that eternal life is a beautiful, sacred, God-given certainty?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the unexpected appearance of a ghost or a spirit can’t be scary. You’ll read stories throughout the book in which many of you have been frightened, and I’ll openly admit to moments of fear during my own stories as well. Some combination of surprise, a cultural insistence that anyone who sees ghosts and spirits is either crazy or lying, and a lack of understanding of what’s happening can add up to very real jolts of panic in even the most rational among us.
But please take my word for a few important truths about ghosts and spirits:
For one thing, knowledge really is power. The more I’ve learned and the more I continue to learn about the spirit world, the more my fear has been replaced by curiosity and fascination, and you’ll find the same is true for you; I guarantee it.
For another thing, as so many of you are already aware, it’s not just us psychics and other “weirdos” who routinely have perfectly valid encounters with ghosts and spirits. “Normal” people in every corner of every country on earth have come face to face with visitors from the afterlife. These people know what they’ve experienced, they know they’re not crazy, they know the experience was real, and they don’t need me or anyone else to validate it for them. And they’d agree with me on this, I’m sure. Just as any scientist would be a fool to get the same result from the same experiment over and over again and refuse to believe it, all of us who have seen, heard, and felt the presence of the spirit world would be just as foolish to refuse to believe what our five physical senses, our minds, and our hearts would swear to.
Finally, as momentarily frightened as I’ve been by some of my encounters with residents of the afterlife, I can assure you, I’ve never met a ghost or spirit who could do a fraction of the physical and emotional damage human beings can do. Give me a choice between a confrontation with the world’s orneriest ghost or the world’s most cunning human sociopath and I’ll choose to take on the ghost every time. So while this journey into the spirit world we’re about to take together will lead us into territory we might occasionally find scary and unnerving, don’t spend one instant wondering whether or not you have enough courage to take the trip. You were brave enough to choose another lifetime as a human being on this rough, confusing, beautiful earth, which makes you brave enough to meet ghosts and spirits, especially since we’ve all been those ghosts and spirits before and will be again when this lifetime ends.
THE SPIRIT’S JOURNEY
In order to understand what spirits and ghosts really are and where they come from, it’s essential to understand what happens to our spirits when our physical bodies die. I’ve written about this in great detail in previous books, particularly Life on The Other Side, so rather than repeat myself at length, I’ll limit this discussion to a few relevant specifics.
When the spirit leaves the body that’s provided it with temporary housing for another visit to earth, there are basically three different places it might go. And make no mistake about it, which of those three places the spirit travels to is our decision, not God’s. He never stops loving us, never turns away from us, and would never condemn any of us to an eternity of banishment from His presence. It’s only when we stop loving Him and turn away from Him that we take such foolish chances with the health and well-being of our souls.
The vast majority of us, who love God by whatever name we call Him and try our best to honor His love while we’re here, immediately transcend to The Other Side, that sacred, exquisite, perfect world we came from, where we live joyfully among the Angels, the messiahs, our Spirit Guides, our soul mates and loved ones from an eternity of lifetimes both on earth and at Home. Residents of The Other Side are called spirits, and their appearances in our midst on earth are called visitations.
A much smaller percentage of humankind, those dark, remorseless souls who choose evil over God, travel to an unspeakable unholy void called the Left Door, from which they horseshoe right back into an earthly womb, to be reborn into another Godless incarnation. The Dark Side, as we call those travelers through the Left Door, don’t communicate with us or appear among us while they’re in vitro.
And then there are those poor trapped souls who, for their own often confused reasons, refuse to acknowledge the very real tunnel leading to The Other Side, illuminated by God’s brilliant white light, and remain earthbound. Earthbound souls are called ghosts, and their appearances in our midst are called hauntings.
Understanding the differences between spirits and ghosts, between visitations and hauntings, can help turn an unexpected encounter with the afterlife from frightening to comforting. It can help us tell an earthbound intruder from a beloved visitor from Home. It can answer questions about where a departed loved one went after leaving their body, how they are, and whether or not they’re happy. And it can certainly give us fascinating glimpses into the possibilities that lie ahead for us when our current incarnations are complete.
But before I go into any further detail about the brilliant, complex spirit world we’re about to explore, I want to address an issue that came up in several of the hundreds upon hundreds of letters my clients and readers were kind enough to send. Antonio, for example, wrote, in the midst of a description of coming face to face with a ghost in his house, “I was especially confused because I knew what I was looking at was absolutely real, but I’d been taught all my life that ghosts and spirits and things like that came from the devil and were to be dismissed.” And after telling me about a really gorgeous visitation from her deceased father, Cynthia added, “I confided in my aunt about it, and she admitted that a lot of people in our family have had similar experiences, but she didn’t want to talk about it because this sort of thing is evil and it’s conspiring with the devil to believe in spirits.”
If you know anything about me, you know that I’m passionate about my religion, Gnostic Christianity, and about religions throughout the world, which I’ve studied all my life. My faith in God is as essential to me as the air I breathe. It empowers me, comforts me, inspires me, sustains me, brings me joy, and diminishes my fears. There’s not a doubt in my mind that God wants our reverent devotion to Him to come from adoration, not from intimidation or terror of His wrath, and there’s also not a doubt in my mind that nothing He created is or ever could be evil. Evil is a creation of humankind, not of God. Since God, not some mythical devil, created us with souls that are eternal, and ghosts and spirits are manifestations of those eternal souls, the illogic of equating the spirit world with evil really mystifies me.
In fact, depending on which of the twenty-six versions of the Bible you read, Jesus Himself appeared on earth in spirit form between six and ten times after He ascended. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, for example, in the Revised Standard Edition, Chapter 15, verses 3–8, reads, “... that Christ died for our sins ..., that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day ..., and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time.... Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.... He appeared also to me.” With these and other Biblical accounts of the earthly appearances of a Spirit who had very definitely transcended to The Other Side, how and why would someone get the idea that encounters between humankind and the afterlife are evil? I’m certainly not about to give credit to a supposed “devil” for Christ’s visitations to this world after His crucifixion, are you?
So, please, whatever your beliefs, whatever you’ve been taught, whatever you’re told, by me or by anyone else, don’t accept anything as truth that doesn’t make sense in your heart. Just because we don’t understand something, or something frightens us, doesn’t make it “evil.” Think. Learn. Knowledge really is power, don’t ever doubt that.
All that having been said, and thanks for letting me get it out of my system, let’s explore the worlds of spirits and ghosts who, by their very presence among us, prove our God-given eternity to be an absolute, indisputable fact.
As I mentioned earlier, when our bodies die, most of us experience the brilliantly lit tunnel, not descending from some faraway place in the sky but actually rising from our own bodies and leading much more “across” than “up,” at about a twenty- or thirty- degree angle. We travel with gorgeous, weightless freedom through this almost sideways tunnel, never for one instant feeling as if we’ve died but instead feeling more thrillingly alive than we could ever imagine here on earth. All our worries, frustrations, anger, resentment, and other negativity melt away, replaced by the peace and all-loving, unconditional understanding we remember and are about to reunite with at Home. God’s sacred white light waits to embrace us at the end of the tunnel, along with loved ones from every lifetime we’ve ever lived. Even our pets from every lifetime are there to greet us, so eager with the joy of seeing us that the human spirits have to wait their turn to get to us. And once we’ve arrived on The Other Side, we resume the busy, active, exquisite lives we temporarily left behind to further our spiritual education in the tough school earth provides.
There’s a simple, logical reason that the legendary tunnel takes us more “across” than “up”—our destination, The Other Side, that paradise for which we’re Homesick from the moment we leave it until we return, is another dimension located a mere three feet above earth’s ground level. This very real, idyllically beautiful place exists at a much higher vibrational frequency than we do here, which is why we don’t perceive our intimate proximity to it, any more than the normal human ear can hear the extremely high- frequency pitch of a dog whistle. If you’ve had encounters with spirits from The Other Side, or talked to or read accounts from those who have, you’ve noticed that very often the descriptions include the impression that the spirits were “floating” a few feet above the ground. While that’s often exactly what it looks like through our eyes, what’s really happening is that the spirits are simply moving on their ground level at Home, three feet higher than ours.
To truly understand how to recognize a spirit visitation, and how to distinguish it from other experiences with the afterlife, you have to keep in mind that by the time they’ve come back to say hello and let us know they’re still very much alive, they’ve already transcended to and been living in a place of emotional and spiritual bliss, not to mention perfect physical health. Any unhappiness they experienced during their latest lifetime on earth, any negativity they carried around, any illnesses or infirmities or injuries they suffered, have all been resolved. What that means is that any entity we encounter who seems to be sad or angry or mean or negative in any way, or who shows any signs of wounds or pain or disease, is something other than a spirit from The Other Side. What it also means, by the way, is that we never need to spend a moment wondering if our deceased loved ones at Home are well and happy. In the blessed perfection of Home, they can’t possibly be anything less.
Spirits at Home live in a world unobstructed by our earthly limitations, so there are qualities about them that set them apart from any other kinds of visitors. Because their minds and thoughts are so powerful they can communicate brilliantly with each other, and with us on earth, through the use of telepathy—the immediate transference of information from one entity to another without the use of any of the five physical senses. One of the most common observations you’ll hear from people who’ve had visitations from spirits is that the spirit talked to them without using words or even making a sound.
Another talent spirits have that we’ll often experience from them, and that we have to look forward to when we’re spirits again, is that they can bi-locate, i.e., be in two places at the same time. It’s not unusual for family members or others who were close to a deceased loved one to receive simultaneous visits from that loved one on opposite sides of town or opposite sides of the world, with both visits being completely real and completely unique.
Spirits are invariably eager for us to recognize exactly who they are, which means they’ll either appear in a form that’s familiar to us, they’ll create a scent we’d associate with them, they’ll offer a light touch to our hair or the back of our neck or our shoulder that was their habit during their lifetime, or they’ll manipulate an object that will offer hints to their identity. They’ll repeatedly move a framed photograph of themselves so that it’s facing a different direction or lying flat on a table or dresser, play with the flame of a candle we’ve lit in their honor, superimpose their face on a painting or snapshot, rock their favorite rocking chair, play a music box they gave us—the possibilities are as limitless as the imaginations of our loved ones themselves, and all we have to do is be receptive and pay attention.
Because spirits have to cross back into our dimension in order to visit us, they often attach their energy to such powerful conductors as electricity and water in order to help with their “reentry.” Eager to make their presence known, they’ll create bizarre behavior in TVs, appliances, telephones, and other objects and electrical devices, and they’re especially active between the hours of 1:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M., when the night air is at its dampest and the dew is at its heaviest. Please don’t misunderstand should you experience your telephone chronically ringing with either no one or static on the other end when you answer, or your television set suddenly doing a full rotation of all its channels while its remote control sits idle on the coffee table. Your belongings are not “possessed,” any more than they’re “possessed” when you use them yourself. Instead, it’s very possibly a spirit, simply manipulating something tangible that you’ll be sure to notice, to say, “I’m right here, watching over you.” (I’m too much of a realist not to add that the spirit world is hardly responsible for every malfunction around the house. Sometimes all you need is a good repairman.)
And speaking of “possessed,” don’t ever believe that a spirit from The Other Side, or any other entity from anywhere else, can possess you without your awareness and permission. I promise you, it’s impossible, no matter how entertaining exorcist legends, books, and movies might be. As many of you know, I sometimes allow my Spirit Guide, Francine, to occupy my body for short periods of time. It’s a matter of pure practicality, and another distinguishing characteristic of spirit visitations—because of the significant difference between The Other Side’s vibrational frequency and ours here on earth, Francine’s voice, like all other spirits’ voices, sounds to our ears like an audiotape played at fast-forward speed. Frankly, it’s annoying, hard to understand when you’re not accustomed to it, and probably why the majority of spirits communicate telepathically. But when Francine has a lot of information to share, rather than put myself and everyone else through what might resemble a performance by one of the Chipmunks, I’ll essentially “step aside” through trance and allow Francine to use my body, or more specifically my vocal cords, for the duration of what she has to say. Without my knowledge, permission, and cooperation, it couldn’t happen. Should you hear a high- pitched, tinny, rather distant voice that seems to be coming from out of nowhere, though, as I know so many of you have, you can count on it that someone from Home has stopped by to say hello.
Finally, just as spirits from The Other Side are incapable of negative thoughts and actions, they’re also incapable of visiting us for anything but the most positive of reasons. Even though it can be startling to see or hear them when you’re not accustomed to it, spirit visitations are never intended to frighten or intimidate or threaten or chase us away. All they want is to love us, comfort us, reassure us that they’ve never really left us and never will, and most of all to try to prove to us by their very presence, no matter how subtle, that by God’s grace, eternal life is a simple, sacred, indisputable fact.
There is one tragic quality shared by every ghost in every corner of every country around the world: Not one of them has the slightest idea that they’re dead. Unlike most spirits who, when their bodies die, eagerly proceed through the tunnel that will take them Home, ghosts turn away from the tunnel, refusing to acknowledge its existence for reasons of their own and, as a result, remain earthbound, desperately confused and lonely, often angry, sometimes aggressive and petulant, trapped in a futile effort to make sense of an existence that by definition makes no sense at all.
Of course, ghosts do leave their bodies like all of us do when our bodies stop functioning, and by leaving their bodies they also leave this earthly dimension. But by rejecting the tunnel and God’s loving, healing white light on The Other Side, they don’t transcend to the higher-frequency dimension of Home, either, which means that their spirits are left quite literally “neither here nor there.” That fact alone makes them very different from spirits from The Other Side in a number of ways:
• Living in neither earth’s dimension nor the dimension of The Other Side, ghosts are typically more visible and distinct than spirits. I’ve used this analogy several times, but it seems effective enough that I’ll unapologetically use it again: The easiest way to picture the three dimensions we’re talking about—earth’s dimension, ghosts’ dimension, and the dimension of Home—is to visualize an electric fan. At its slowest speed, the fan’s blades are well defined and easy to see. That represents the dimension on earth, the one we all function in and are accustomed to. At the fan’s medium speed, the individual blades begin to blur into each other and are harder for our eyes to distinguish. That represents the dimension in which ghosts are trapped. Turn the fan to its highest speed and its blades seem to disappear completely, creating the illusion that the blades aren’t there at all, as false an illusion as the idea that The Other Side and its resident spirits don’t exist just because we can’t readily see them. The fact that some people are able to see and hear ghosts and spirits while others aren’t doesn’t prove that some people are crazy while others aren’t. It just proves that some people’s physical senses are more finely tuned than others’.
• Because they haven’t yet experienced the love and healing of The Other Side, ghosts will bear visible signs of any injuries or illnesses or deformities that were present when their bodies died. You will never see a spirit from Home who’s wounded or sick or in any kind of physical or emotional pain.
• When spirits are among us, their ultimate motivation is their love for us, and their efforts to get us to notice them are meant to express that love. Ghosts, on the other hand, are much more complicated. Their reasons for turning away from the tunnel and refusing to accept the fact of their death on this earth are widely varied. Some stay behind out of a confused sense of deep loyalty to a loved one or a property or a job for which they felt responsible during their lifetime. Some stay behind for revenge. Some stay behind to search for or wait for a lost love. Some stay behind out of fear that God is too displeased with them to embrace them into the blessed joy of Home (which is impossible, by the way—He embraces all of us who let Him). Whatever their confused purpose for rejecting the truth that they’re dead, they’re among us out of a distorted sense of reality. The world through a ghost’s eyes is locked in a time warp of their own disturbed creation. From their point of view, we are the intruders in their world, not the other way around. So we shouldn’t be too surprised that in their encounters with us, they’re sometimes angry, desperate, resentful, cranky, or annoying. Occasionally, when they realize that someone is seeing, hearing, or acknowledging them in any way, they can be appreciative and even playful, especially with children. But overall, like most unhappy, chronically disoriented beings, they can be unpredictable, not to mention depressing.
• By not transcending to The Other Side, ghosts deprive themselves of the ability to bi-locate. There are no simultaneous appearances of a single ghost as there can be with a single spirit. In fact, by their own design, ghosts are usually too attached to whatever place they’re frequenting to wander far away from it anyway.
• Also, having not transcended, ghosts exist in our dimension, not in the dimension of Home three feet above our ground level on earth. That’s why, while spirits appear to be “floating” as they move along the ground level of The Other Side, ghosts accurately appear to be functioning on exactly the same level we are.
• As we discussed earlier, spirits, because they’re so eager for us to know it’s them, will appear in a form that will help us recognize them. Ghosts, on the other hand, couldn’t care less whether we recognize them or not, since they’re among us out of desperate confusion having nothing at all to do with comforting us. They might show up as very distinct images of their own earthly bodies, they might appear rather faded and unformed, or they might even present themselves as balls of heavy mist, almost as if they were smoke rings with the centers filled in. They have neither the divine skill nor the self- control of spirits from Home, so the physical appearance of ghosts is simply one more way in which they can be frustratingly unpredictable.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how and why most souls become spirits and a relative few become ghosts when their bodies die, and the basics of how to tell spirits and ghosts apart, you might think that’s pretty much all you need to know to prepare yourself for dealing with any unexpected visitors from the spirit world who come along.
The fact is, though, that we’ve only just scratched the surface.