Category Archives: Books

AFTER

By Bruce Greyson

Greyson is a psychiatrist who has been studying near death experiences (NDEs) for decades. He brings his research and a plethora of stories together in this book as he walks the reader through his process of discovery. The stories are fascinating (especially the ones where someone learns about someone’s death during an NDE only to return to life and find out that person has died). If you are familiar with NDEs, he will plow well-known ground for much of the book. You must remember that Greyson took up his work when scientists didn’t even agree on what the term NDE even meant. How far we’ve come!

The book suffers (for me) because he refused to date any of his material apparently thinking that it would make the cases sound old and trivial, but it makes it difficult to get a sense of the whole timeline. There is also a grating repeat of his insistence of his scientific perspective throughout. I get it! You’re an MD and want to be accepted by peers. (You told me that! Move on.) It’s hard not to draw a sharp contrast to the mettle of an Ian Stevenson and the constant lack of confidence Greyson reveals. Enough of my personal pet peeves though. Does the book hold value? Of course, it does.

Greyson tackles some difficult and little covered areas. Most NDE stories are positive with positive outcomes. But there are people who have negative NDEs. There are also the lesser-known downsides to NDEs. These effects and stories are covered in the chapter aptly named, Hard Landings. Grayson would also like to shift the focus of the NDE discussion away from what happens after we die to how NDEs can help people live better, more fulfilling lives. Research suggests just learning about NDEs can help people make meaningful changes in how they live. All good points.

I think this is the kind of book where the take-away message is really going to depend on who YOU are. Are you questioning the reality of NDEs? Then the linear approach of Greyson’s scientific method will appeal and do much to answer your questions. Are you already convinced of the legitimacy of the NDEs? Then, maybe, the stories and the way people are forever changed by these events will speak to you. For me, it’s always been more about what NDEs say about our understanding of reality that makes the phenomena not only intriguing- but important. Lessons from NDE research supports the idea that consciousness does not spring from the brain, but rather that the brain acts as a receiver that filters information. Science has a lot of work to do to figure out how the mind and the brain function to explain all the intricacies experienced in NDEs. These understandings will have far reaching consequences on the whole way we structure our paradigm.

Some points to ponder:

*5% (approx..) of the population has experienced an NDE. (They are COMMON!) 1in 20 Americans have had one- means you probably know someone who has.   

*NDEs happen to all genders, ages, religions, ethnic groups.

*Most experiencers are convinced some part of us continues after death.

*Studies of the brain, reveal that memories of NDEs look like memories of real events (NOT like how the brain remembers fantasies or imagined events).   

* NDEs REDUCE the fear of death (overwhelmingly!!) regardless, if the NDE was positive or negative. It also reduces the fear of living allowing more risk taking and enjoyment of life.

*Experiencers who see those who have died when no one knew they had died, may suggest a form of continued consciousness after death. THE BIG QUESTION!!!

*NDEs point out flaws in the current brain-based model of consciousness.

Added Sep 3, 2021

UPDATE: Research published in 2017 on NDEs.

https://www.iands.org/news/news/front-page-news/1060-aware-study-initial-results-are-published.html

“The AWARE study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) is a multi-hospital clinical study of the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest, including testing the validity of perceptions during the out-of-body part of near-death experiences (NDEs). Dr. Sam Parnia is the principal investigator. The initial results, from the first four years of the study, were published last December in the medical journal Resuscitation (PDF). 

Of the 2,060 cardiac arrests during the study, 140 patients survived and could be interviewed for the study. Of these, 101 patients had detailed interviews, which identified 9 patients who had an NDE. Of the 9 NDErs, two had detailed memories with awareness of the physical environment. One NDEr’s experience was verified as accurate;…”

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The Haunting of Alma Fielding (NF)

By Kate Summerscale

I actually put this book on hold before it was released thinking it was a fictional tale, so I was a bit surprised when it arrived. This is the true story of a Hungarian ghost hunter researching phenomena in England prior to WWII. Nador Fodor worked for the International Institute for Psychical Research, when in 1938, he encountered Alma Fielding, an average, middle-class housewife. Alma’s life had been turned upside down by poltergeist activity including objects flying through the air and various sorts of items appearing as apports. The case became famous in England as multiple papers vied for the story. Fodor had his own suspicions and worked diligently to discover how Alma might be producing some of the happenings. He does catch her doing some things, but others remain completely inexplicable.

Nador Fodor

This was the era of Freudian psychology, and the UK was gripped by fears of a second, paralyzing war, no one wanted. The author does a wonderful job centering Alma’s case in its historical setting. Fodor takes up the trail of Alma’s deeper, hidden consciousness. What was hidden behind her everyday appearance? A lot as it turns out. How does a person’s unprocessed trauma, grief, and unacknowledged loss mix in the psyche and materialize in daily life? And what does that mean for all of us?

Kate Summerscale worked with Fodor’s original case notes and interviewed some who knew  Alma. The case is fascinating but what is even more so, is the impact the case had- although not many realize it…

Freud

Eventually, Nador Fordor sought out and received a letter from Sigmund Freud supporting the likelihood of his conclusions about Alma’s case. Fodor went on to practice psychoanalysis in New York. In 1951, he coined the phrase, “poltergeist psychosis”- where  a mental shock can release a poltergeist personality. Fodor felt that the objects leaping into life were caused by Alma’s feelings where the poltergeist acted as her agent. (Hey folks- this is mind over matter…) Fodor’s account of Alma’s case was published in On the Trail of the Poltergeist (1958). Fodor acknowledged that from a clinical point of view, BOTH Alma’s hoaxes and authentic poltergeist activity pointed to a real human who was suffering.

This new understanding of poltergeist phenomena would emerge in the culture through books and movies. Fodor served as a consultant on the movie for Shirley Jackson’s book, The Haunting of Hill House (1959). Jackson was familiar with Fodor’s theories and used them in her portrayal of Eleanor Vance. Eleanor was portrayed as sane, experiencing weird things around her. Modern portrayals of hauntings from Carrie to The Babadook, allow for many interpretations- often combining real and imagined, psychological and supernatural.

Decades after Fodor’s work, his ideas on trauma have become commonplace. Central to Alma’s story, was the idea that a horrific trauma could be wiped from her consciousness.  Today, the recovery of traumatic memory remains problematic, but acknowledged. The book provides an interesting window into the power of the subconscious and the time period Alma’s story emerges.        

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THE SIN EATER:

A NOVEL by Megan Campisi

I’ve been intrigued by the notion of sin-eaters since I saw a movie concerning the topic years ago (The Last Sin Eater, 2007). Recently, I spotted this YA historical fiction work on the theme. It’s an intriguing book with a nice murder mystery at its heart.

But what is a sin-eater? Sin-eaters are designated individuals within a community who consume ritual foods thereby taking on the sins of a deceased person. The foods symbolize (or absorb, depending on your perspective) the sins and through ingestion, the sin-eater acquires the sin thereby absolving the deceased, and paving the way for entry into heaven. Historically, the practice is associated with Wales and the English counties bordering Wales.  

In the book, The Sin Eater, 14-year-old, May, is made a sin-eater after stealing a loaf of bread during the reign of Elizabeth I. Marked as a sin-eater and shunned by society, May eventually seeks out an older woman in the same situation. This woman mentors May in this hard life through example because verbal communication is forbidden. Sin-eaters are well fed and outcasts who are redeemed only upon death, having faithfully served their purpose—or so May is led to believe. Things are turned upside down when the older sin-eater refuses  to consume a deer heart for a royal governess who’s died. Refusing to do so costs her life. May loses her teacher and ends up center stage in a mystery of death and intrigue involving the royal bloodline.    

I enjoyed the book because it is an imaginative tale about something very little is known about. And yet, it did exist culturally, and the legacy carried on to some extent in areas including western England, Wales, Bavaria, and 17th century Dutch America. Campisi’s novel is now available in paperback.    

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THE FASHIONABLE GHOST

This is the time of year of ghosts, spooks, specters. Americans love a good ghost story, don’t we? I’ve always thought so. This week, I found a few statistics that surprised me. A Harris Poll (2013) found 43% of us believe in ghosts and 20% (according to the Pew Research Center) report an encounter with a ghost or presence. All I can say is really? That all? Actually, I suppose the number is quite high given the prevailing material paradigm.

When writing my ghost tale, I stuck to the notion of the white, insubstantial energy form portrayed in many traditional stories. Annika in Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds appeared this way but also took solid shape when Lydia time traveled back to the 17th century. My portrayal of a ghost had both wispy and life-like appearances. Not unlike stories that have come down to us from ghost lore. While many spirits have appeared in flimsy diaphanous, white apparel—some haven’t. Some have donned colorful clothing they’d be comfortable wearing in daily life. Specters fitted out in armor, monk’s robes, or silken gowns are common enough. Some of these appear solid and fully fleshed out. Real, in fact. There are reports of people shaking hands or trying to, with some of these ghosts. Naked ghosts are rarely reported, cultural propriety prevails even for those stuck between worlds.

As we approach Halloween and the veil thins, it’s good to keep an open mind. I’ve had a few experiences that leave me highly suspicious of our understanding of reality. One of those instances is highlighted in the dedication of Timeless Tulips, the others I’ll save for another occasion.

I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.

When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost!

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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THE GHOST STORY

IN LITERATURE

This time of year as the days grow short and the air crisp, Halloween lurks just around the corner, my thoughts turn to those creepy tales told before the fire. Ghosts figure in many of them and the traditional ghost story has a long history. Every culture produced oral and/or written stories of ghosts.

Among the earliest written examples, Homer’s Odyssey depicts a journey into the underworld where the hero finds ghosts of the dead. A haunted house was portrayed by Plautus, the Roman playwright in his work entitled, Mostellaria. The ghost bound in chains was perhaps first described by Pliny the Younger in another haunted place tale. The Roman writer, Seneca was also fond of using ghosts in his tragedies. These classical examples would start to set the stage for the development of ghost stories in our own culture and day.

In celebration of the deep roots of this tradition, I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.  

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

E- book available: https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS- A GHOST STORY

When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease. When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost.

E-book: sale $2.99 https://amzn.to/2l7LhHP

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MORE MIRACLE THAN BIRD

by Alice Miller

(Spoiler Alert)

The strange book title comes from the poem “Sailing to Byzantium” by WB Yeats. This historical fiction tale addresses the life of a young socialite. During WWI, Georgie Hyde-Lees breaks free from maternal control and arrives in London to nurse soldiers. Through her mother’s connections she meets WB Yeats, the famous poet many years her senior. Interested in the occult, Georgie enlists Yeats’ help in securing an invitation into the Order (The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn). The author’s descriptions of a young woman trapped by conventional society’s rules and expectations are well drawn. Georgie falls for Yeats, but the reader remains hard pressed to understand the attraction Georgie exhibits. Certainly, he treats her poorly throughout their relationship. At the time of their meeting, WB struggles with his professional writing career faltering.   

Georgie

Presented with the option of another suitor, an officer who is her contemporary and a suitable match, Georgie sends him packing. Regardless that her mother and friends warn her that Yeats still loves a woman from his past (Maud Gonne), headstrong Georgie doggedly pursues Yeats. Yeats strings her along through his reconnection with Maud and then Maud’s daughter, Isesult.

Maud Gonne

Georgie’s stubbornness eventually pays off. Turned down by everyone else, Yeats finally marries Georgie. Neither are happy in the marriage but to keep Yeats’ attention (at least for a while), Georgie takes up automatic writing. Very keen to engage in all things esoteric, Yeats focuses just enough on his wife. That satisfies Georgie even though she knows she’s perpetrating a fraud. Eventually, Yeats’ poems benefit from the pursuit of the greater unknown.

WB & Georgie

Having read the reviews on Amazon after reading the book, most people agree the writing is exceptional, although the pacing suffers in a few places. The depiction of the period and societal constraints are interesting and well done. My biggest gripe is that the book is basically a very sad, one-sided romance. I had hoped for a journey into a mystical world of secret societies where Georgie actually had some PSI ability. At least on that level, she might have shared a connection with the older poet. Apparently not, she duped her husband for years if this fiction reflects reality.    

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CONTEST TIME!

Sept. 14, 2020:

CONTEST WINNER: Cornelia Weber! She will receive a print copy of INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS. Congrats Cornelia!!

Enter to win a free print copy of INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS.

What’s it about?

Glad you asked!!

A troubled, sixteen-year-old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake off the mountain. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey which will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.

Interested?

Leave a comment below to enter. Blake is traveling in the Himalayas, where would you travel if anything was possible right now? I’ll draw one winner from all those who comment and mail the book to a US address. (Sorry everyone out of country. I’ll try an e-book contest later, so check back.) Contest closes Sept. 14, 2020, noon MT.

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THETA HEALING (2010)

by Vianna Stibal

This is a book I’ve had sitting on my shelf for some years and only recently began reading. It offers insights into healing that seem to resonate with Reiki and with the work of Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief). It offers an intriguing underlying framework but while researching a few things, some alarm bells sounded as several lawsuits have surfaced involving the author and the practice. Since there are many books out on Stibal’s patented method of healing and many who offer these services in the US and abroad, I think it’s at least worth surveying the overall process to foster an understanding of what it is. All accounts of its efficacy are in the form of testimonials and one small study indicates practitioners couldn’t generate the theta state (*).

The Theta Healing technique involves a process by which the practitioner uses techniques to enter a deep, relaxed state of theta brain waves. Everyone passes through the theta state before we sleep so this shouldn’t be seen as exotic. People who practice meditation can achieve this but whether what the book describes is sufficient to eventually produce consistent results, again is open to question. But let’s assume with enough practice and understanding, it is. In this state, the practitioner is at a level Stibal calls the “Seventh Plane of Existence.” From here commands to the “Creator” can be made to change health and belief systems. Crucial to the healing is that the Practitioner witness the healing or the change in the belief system. Once this has been done, the healing is complete and energetic separation is made. This witnessing aspect is reminiscent of quantum mechanics where the wave function requires a witness.

Photo: Chris Hope

The Theta Healing technique can be used for physical or emotional healing and a large portion of the book is devoted to describing how beliefs can be changed or released. Beliefs can be held at four different levels and each needs to be addressed in order for the belief to be fully addressed.

     Core level- (held in the frontal lobe) beliefs instilled during childhood

     Genetic level- (stored around physical DNA) beliefs carried from ancestors or added in this life

     Historical level- (held in auric field) beliefs from past lives, deep genetic memory, or collective consciousness

     Soul level- (held at heart chakra and outward) beliefs encompassing all that the person is

Counseling as well as muscle testing methods are used to uncover beliefs that form negative programs and hold an individual back. Each belief needs the client’s permission for removal or change. All negative beliefs must be checked on all four levels. Practitioners can remove or change negative programs by accessing the theta state and using a command protocol similar to what was outlined above. Stibal repeatedly addresses ethical questions on respecting clients wishes and differences throughout the book.

Theta Healing is a complicated system where the practitioner takes on a lot of responsibility. Stibal has written many books that expand on the basic techniques. She teaches workshops around the country and abroad. There is probably a practitioner near you if you live near a major US city. The technique is available and it’s interesting. Whether or not it’s effective, is hard to say. To use the technique, I think a degree in counseling psychology would be minimum because it involves so much client interaction. Of course, more research on the method and into the theta state itself would be helpful.    

*https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/pseudoscience/thetahealingr-money-youll-spend-never-existed

REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog. Anyone interested in receiving a Reiki distance treatment can contact me at: ellisnelson@gmx.com. I will provide additional information via email. To honor the exchange practice of Reiki, you will be asked to make a $25 donation to your favorite charity.      

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MEMORIES OF HEAVEN

By Wayne Dyer & Dee Garnes

Out of the mouths of babes—

Kids say the darndest things! Known for their blunt honesty and jaw dropping lack of filters, we adults sometimes shake our heads or laugh. Every once and a while, these articulations make it into family history and are re-told for generations. But what if your little darling starts talking about an experience BEFORE he/she ever knew you?

This happened to Dr. Wayne Dyer and his friend, Dee Garnes. Sharing their experiences, they wondered how many others had similar stories to share. Memories of Heaven is the book that resulted from parents, grandparents, and others contributing their tales. These real-life stories are fascinating in their detail, sophistication and yet— simplicity of language. Almost all the utterances happen spontaneously and without coaxing. There is a certainty exhibited by these young ones in what they are telling. Often these remembrances of a time before are shared as soon as language emerges. Can we dismiss them as fanciful talk of children? I suppose, the most cynical can. But then there are the patterns.

What kind of things do kids talk about?

Memories of the time before now: This often includes where they came from and what it looked like. They may also recall specific activities they miss doing. Some can describe their feelings while in the before place and some miss it terribly still. This other place may be thought of as the real “home”. Children may engage in language and use concepts like God even when there has been no formal religious education in the home. Youngsters may speak about viewing family members from this other place and relate information they don’t have normal access to. Some children have spoken about being with siblings or other relatives who have died. There are some interesting stories about miscarriages. Later born siblings may know all about the miscarriages and have met those babies.

Memories of past lives: Some children will talk about living in another time and another place. They may share details of family life or even circumstances of their deaths. It’s not uncommon for a child to say, “You’re not my real mother.” In some instances, they know their names and the names of others from this other lifetime. It doesn’t appear that any of the cases in the book were ever substantiated but those familiar with Dr. Ian Stevenson’s work know that many similar cases have been verified.

Memories of choosing parents: Children describe a process of choosing their mothers and fathers. It seems to be a deliberate process that they have a lot of control over.

Memories of family reincarnation and role reversal: A commonly shared phenomenon was one in which souls returned to the same families. Children reported things like being a grandmother or grandfather in a previous life recalling specific memories or details. Instances where a child talked about being the parent were classified as role reversal and they were viewed as a subset within family reincarnation. These may involve a needed healing of the parent-child relationship. The authors are quick to point out that not every child born is an ancestor.

Memories of connections to spiritual source, precognition, & mystical wisdom:

Children may spontaneously speak of another realm where light, love, and compassion are expressed as primary memories.

Sometimes young children utter mysticlike wisdom. These stories oftentimes involve knowing about medical conditions, pregnancies, and impending death before anyone else.

Memories of invisible friends, spiritual visitors, and angels:

It has been reported that up to 65% of children have imaginary friends. But who are they? The book contains tales of children talking about these encounters. Many times these stories involve deceased relatives the child never has met. Oftentimes the youngster knows specific information about the individual that no one has told them. Children can sometimes identify the person from photos without prompting/coaching.  

Children also talk about seeing angels. They offer vivid descriptions with simple language.     

Photo: Ilya Heykinson

This book is a constant reminder that we must listen to what children are saying. That simple openness allowing them to communicate what is happening in their world is crucial to developing trust and safety. If we can put aside our adult, preconceived notions, a whole other world of possibility may emerge for us.     

REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog. Anyone interested in receiving a Reiki distance treatment can contact me at: ellisnelson@gmx.com. I will provide additional information via email. To honor the exchange practice of Reiki, you will be asked to make a $25 donation to your favorite charity.      

To find my books, follow the link below.

https://amzn.to/33TcrTh

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MAGICK OF REIKI

by Christopher Penczak

This is not a traditional book on Reiki. It’s an intriguing and empowering book unifying the concepts of Reiki and magick from a practitioner’s point of view. The book compares and contrasts the two disciplines and encourages areas of crossover. Although many shy away from the word magick because it evokes negative associations, most of us are comfortable with the use of language involving the power of intention. The conscious use of intention can manifest inwardly or outwardly, both affecting our reality. This is magick. Most of us recognize magickal practices including spells, rain dances, healing songs, and protection blessings. But magical practices also include affirmations, prayer, creative visualization, positive thinking, and the biggest buzz word of all— co-creating. Shockingly simple and… unifying.

photo: queeselreiki

Although the author points out that the roots of Western magick and Eastern Reiki may seem like a wide gulf to bridge, they are really two disciplines providing paths up the same mountain. Both use symbols, initiation (called attunement in Reiki), spiritual lineage, energy work, and the mystical path of personal experience. Magick does differ from Reiki in how it creates change. Magick releases a well-considered intention into the world whereas Reiki practice does not focus on outcome. Reiki energy is understood to be intelligent and works for the higher good. The energy flows where it is needed.

Mikao Usui, Reiki Founder (1865-1926)

The book includes a brief history of what we know about the history of Reiki. Many of us realize there is a lot of misinformation floating around. Stories and legends about the founders proliferate. A really good history of Reiki can be found in Penelope Quest’s, Reiki for Life. The three levels of Reiki are outlined in subsequent chapters of Penczak’s book. Most fascinating was the description of the entire ritual for attunement found in Chapter 5. The author is a firm believer that once you have your first attunement, the door to Reiki is open. Use of symbols and even doing attunements is possible.

The remaining chapters of the book explore healing with symbols, working with Reiki spirit guides, using crystals, and plant magick. There is also a chapter on some of the new lineages and practices emerging post-Usui. Overall, a creative, empowering and helpful book.           

REIKI DISTANCE HEALING TREATMENTS: I’d like to offer my services to readers of the blog. Anyone interested in receiving Reiki distance treatment can contact me at: ellisnelson@gmx.com. I will provide additional information via email. To honor the exchange practice of Reiki, you will be asked to make a $25 donation to your favorite charity.      

Follow the link below to find my books.

https://amzn.to/33TcrTh

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