CHARLES A. LINDBERGH- Mystical Experience

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.

 Further reading:

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.


Filed under Books

46 responses to “CHARLES A. LINDBERGH- Mystical Experience

  1. reanolanmartin

    wow! thanks for the illumination, ellis! knew nothing about this. but I did know that anne morrow lindbergh was very mystical, so it makes sense.

  2. Reblogged this on Supernal Living with Dana Taylor and commented:
    Here’s an interesting piece from Ellis Nelson about a mystical experience during the famous first flight across the Atlantic. Sounds as life changing as an NDE.

  3. I haven’t read the books about Lindbergh, but did research the kidnapping of his son. As one other poster mentioned, I also had a negative view of him because of the way the investigation was handled. Not sure how I missed the news about his other children. Enjoyed the post.

  4. The mystical side sounds very interesting. I haven’t read much about Lindbergh since reading “The Spirit of St. Louis” (in grade school) and about the Lindbergh kidnapping. And, of course, watching the Jimmy Stewart movie. I may need to re-read his book.

    (Thanks for liking a post. It’s very much appreciated.)

  5. unclerave

    Interesting post. I wouldn’t completely dismiss the mystical aspect of his experience, but there were a lot of physical factors going on that would have affected his perception. You mentioned the fumes, fatigue and boredom, but there’s also the effects of an unpressurized cabin and the altitude.(less oxygen) Knowing the vastness of the Atlantic, and that he was doing something no one had ever done, I’m sure his adrenalin levels, and other brain chemicals, were in overdrive. Add to all that a couple of more mundane possibilities, hunger and he might’ve had to go real bad, and it’s no wonder he had such an experience.

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my posts! I appreciate it. — YUR

    • Most of his flight was at low altitude making waves more of a danger than storms. Crossing the Atlantic had been done before but this was the first non stop flight. He had food with him. The physical deprivations should be examined but in the end, Lindbergh did not dismiss the experience or put it off to any or any combination of physical hardship. He could have said, “Man, I was trippin BUT… I was tired, had to pee, had a whomping headache…” It was a subjective experience and the subject did not choose to discount it. I think that’s pretty powerful given his reputation and legacy were at stake.

  6. Thank you Ellis, for stopping by our blog–I appreciate the ‘like.’ I followed that trail and I am enjoying your posts very much (I am kind of a Buddha girl myself). I will stop by again as myself, when I am not wearing my industrial company garb/avatar. You are a talented writer and I look forward to reading more!
    Thanks again!
    KIm Mingledorff Stebbins

  7. May I suggest one other book? “The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible” by John Gieger. He explores Lindberg’s experience. Also goes into a series of events involving climbers, sea-faring explorers, a family stranded on a boat. You get the picture. All of them experiencing a presence that helped them pull through a physicial crisis. Rivoting.

  8. The books you suggest sound very interesting. I believe there are several aspects that involve the human mind and spirit that science cannot explain as of yet. Indians learn that before they learn to walk or talk :). Your new novel is going on my must-read list–anything to do with the Himalayas is hard for me to resist.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. Lindbergh was suspended in between one continent and another, with the ocean below and empty space around, Some of his contemporaries would have said that in a situation like that images out of anima mundi would be bound to pass across his mind as if across a polished mirror.

  10. I’ll admit embarrassingly that I’d never heard of Lindbergh or his amazing experience but having read your great review I may also have to read his book. What an experience, must have changed his life.
    Thanks for liking my recent post about the creative process. I appreciate it!

  11. Interesting. Yeah, I’ve always primarily thought of Lindbergh in the negative. Hard to get over that. Good post.

    • unclerave

      He was a national, and international, hero! I might understand secondary negative thoughts, but primary? You’ve got to be kidding.

      • Quite a bit came out alleging Lindebergh was a Nazi sympathizer and racial purist. And then fairly recently, it was discovered that he kept three secret families and fathered between 5 and 7 illegitimate children. I suspect these things could alter his image.

  12. Judy Willgoss

    He just had a glimpse. It amazes me how we think our reality is the only reality.

  13. Reblogged this on skatingthru2012 and commented:
    For Judy . . .

  14. Thanks for your post. Because I also have mystical experiences, I never question what anyone says about their own–as those who have not might do. Congratulations for your book.

  15. This is really interesting – I always have trouble with the idea of separating the mind and the spirit – I can separate the mind and the body easily but to take the mind away seems to leave the spirit slightly empty. I obviously don’t grasp the idea in its entirity. Great post though. I also love anything about John Dee.

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  17. Very interesting, especially Lindbergh’s view of death.

  18. Totally fascinating! Thank you for posting such interesting material!

  19. Totally fascinating!! Thank you for posting such interesting material!

  20. You probably could call it an NDE, although he never thought he died or “crosssed over”. These kinds of experiences have been reported by mystics for thousands of years.

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  22. It takes a lot of courage to come forward with a story like this and I believe he must have been convinced that it was real. I believe that we “go on” and an experience like this would certainly change us.

  23. That was really interesting. Thanks for that tidbit.

  24. I’m currently reading a fascinating book called “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer – he makes reference to Lindbergh’s experience too and what happens in the brain when all this happens. I hope to blog about it when I’m done.

  25. Great post – look forward to more.
    I’ve always ,loved this description from a man so grounded that i have to believe what happened to him. Similarly on one of Shackleton’s expeditions when they were at the end of their strength, they always had ‘ the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted’. TS Eliot uses this incident in ‘The Waste Land’.

    • Interesting. I’ve read about the “second man phenomena” thing before. It happens when we’re faced with life or death situations. Some people are accompanied by guides who help them through the difficulty. Interestingly, children oftten have animals who appear. Is it a splintering of consciousness or a spiritual experience?

  26. Funny, I was just mentioning ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ to my wife the other day. Your article might get me to re-read it, though I did so the first time when I was very young. To make a note of the ‘Nazi’ issue–he sympathized with the strides the germans had made, but when it became clear to him ‘what rough beast at last’ it was there was no question of his sympathies or loyalties from then on. KB

  27. This was very interesting; although I have to admit that I too believe his experience was probably caused by sleep deprivation and solitude. But who am I to say. I have an open mind and believe anything is possible. But the scientist in me always looks for a plausible explanation first, then the supernatural.

  28. nzumel

    I did not know this. Thanks for sharing! And I look forward to a John Dee post, too 🙂

  29. A fascinating account of a great aviator’s experiences in flight. Sounds like a book worth checking out.

    Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, also wrote about this phenomenon of the separation of the self in Stranger to the Ground

    Much has also been made of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s flight from Australia to Hawaii. There have been movies and documentaries made about ‘Smithy’. Then there is the American aviatrix. Amelia Earhart who disappeared over the pacific. She has featured in one movies about the last days of her life, a Star Trek;Voyager episode, and was made into a fun character in the sequel to Night in the Museum.

    • Yes, had the discussion with my husband about Richard Bach. Don’t know if the others experienced this. A corollory exists when you look at extreme sports and those experiences. Read a fascinating book awhile ago about that.

  30. yomicfit

    That sounds like an interesting read!

  31. Hi,
    Even though I have read some things about Charles Lindbergh and also seen some historical films about him, I did not know this. It is interesting and has awaken my interest to read The Spirit of St. Louis.
    Thanky for an interesting article.

  32. Nice post– and thanks for visiting my blog,

  33. This is a fascinating topic. I have always been intrigued by the Lindberghs and I see that further investigations may be in order!

  34. Hello Ellis, thank you for following my blog 🙂 I’ve read the excerpt from your book. It starts very interesting 🙂 I don’t know if it’s available in Ireland. But I’ll have a look. Thank you for the books info. Also very interesting 🙂 much love Justyna

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