Last week I was sure this week’s blog would be on John Dee. I’ve read several books about the Elizabethan alchemist, queen’s spy, and magus. But John Dee is a complicated subject, and well, I got sidetracked in a synchronistic sort of way. Consulting Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experiences, I was shocked to find John Dee not included, but stumbled on a fascinating little entry on Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh? THE Lindbergh? Yup!
I suppose some of you may have heard of John Dee, but I’m sure all of you recognize Charles Lindbergh. The twenty-five year old, unknown air mail pilot became an overnight, worldwide household name in 1927 when he completed his non-stop transatlantic flight. You might even remember the tragic loss of his son in 1932 in what was called “the crime of the century”. And there are a few of you who are mulling over the tag Nazi sympathizer, but I suspect few of you (including myself) are thinking … mystic.
The mystical experience happened in 1927 during the thirty-three plus hour flight over the Atlantic. During the long and lonely flight, Lindbergh experienced an altered state of consciousness. In this state, he became aware of three parts of himself. His body, his mind, and his spirit existed as separate entities. He was not afraid. The plane was filled with ghostly beings which were transparent and weightless. Lindbergh described seeing with “one great eye” the beings around him without having to turn around. These beings consoled and reassured him in friendly human voices. As things progressed, Lindbergh lost the sense of his physical body, something reported in many mystical experiences. He recognized that although he was still attached to life, the beings were not. Furthermore, the famous transatlantic pilot seemed to experience a shift in his view of death. Death no longer seems the final end it used to be, but rather the entrance to a new and free existence which includes all space, all time (Lindbergh The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953).
So what are we to make of this? In his first book describing the transatlantic crossing published in 1927, Lindbergh remained silent on this issue. It wasn’t until 1953 with the release of The Spirit of St. Louis that readers first learn of this incident. More follows after his death with the publication of Autobiography of Death (1977). Unfortunately, my library has none of Lindbergh’s books, not even The Spirit of St. Louis. On face value, it’s easy to dismiss the account. Lindbergh could easily have been hallucinating due to fatigue, boredom, or maybe even fuel fumes. But Lindbergh himself doesn’t seem to dismiss the incident. I’m inclined to think Lindbergh must have viewed the experience as personally significant and important enough to risk ridicule for by coming forward publicly with the account. This is another one of those areas in which readers will have to decide for themselves what the incident means.
Any or all of Lindbergh’s books
Lindbergh- A. Scott Berg (one paragraph on p. 124 about the mystical experience)
The Mystical Side of Life- Michael Murphy (audio; this is hard to find)
Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience- R.E. Guiley, see Lindbergh entry
Cemetery John- The Undiscovered Mastermind Behind the Lindbergh Kidnapping-
Robert John (new release, profiled in newspaper), nothing mystical here but the latest on the Lindbergh case.