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Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil, by Douglas Charles Hodgson

Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil: What Humanity Can Learn from the Near Death Experience, by Douglas Charles Hodgson
O-Books, 1803413409, 152 pages, January 2024

In his beautiful tribute to life on the Other Side, Douglas Charles Hodgson highlights experiences from people who have had near death experiences (NDEs) in Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil: What Humanity Can Learn from the Near Death Experience. This book not only recaps these experiences, but also catalogs what he learned from over 500 interviews from the International Association for Near-Death Studies and its website.

Douglas Charles Hodgson is a retired lawyer, dean, and professor of law, who has focused on human rights, religious discrimination, and religious fundamentalism. Following his forty-year legal career in Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand, he began a study of twelve religions, as he searched for the meaning of life. After this exploration, he wrote a book called Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue. Hodgson has also written four other books.  Born in Canada, Hodgson now lives in Perth, Australia and has dual citizenship.

In his preface, Hodgson presents the concept for his book and how he came to be interested in NDE experiences, following the publication of his book on transcendental spirituality. He made use of information from the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and the hundreds of accounts from people who experienced NDEs. He asserts that he “decouples spirituality from a religious context”1

“Indeed, numerous IANDS authors declared that before their near-death experience, they had no religion and did not believe in the existence of God or an afterlife, while others who were adherents to a particular religion or faith declared that after their experience, their particular religion was of less importance to them and henceforth aspired to be more spiritual in their outlook on life and in their dealings with others in the natural environment.”2

He hopes that this book will “provide comfort and assurance to those who have fear or uncertainty about the eventual demise of their physical bodies. It is to reassure them that their souls are eternal and that there is a beautiful afterlife to be enjoyed within the higher spiritual realms (our true home).”3

Hodgson takes care to let the reader know that all accounts were anonymous, and that no identifying information is shared. He also points out that while no two NDEs are the same, there are similarities and accounts that “tend to corroborate one another.”4 Within this book, Hodgson takes the accounts from people who have experienced an NDE and arranges the comments into nineteen categories.  

Starting each chapter with the name of the topic, Hodgson provides a brief explanation of the NDE information that he will include.  Then, he lists the comments or experiential narrative from each NDE that fits in this category. 

For example, the first chapter is entitled “God/The Source”, and it includes what various NDE authors “have described concerning their encounters with God and God’s supra-human qualities and attributes as well as any messages or revelations which were imparted to them either by God or higher spiritual beings.”5

Here are just a few of these comments:

“God exists as well as an afterlife beyond our earthly life.”6

“God is our creator and our soul returns to him.”7

“God is the center, and we are all spokes of the universal wheel.”8

My favorite chapter was one entitled “Loving Yourself”.  In this chapter, Hodgson shares the importance of loving oneself, “not in a narcissistic sense but in a compassionate sense.”9 He goes on to share revelations on self-love from those who experienced an NDE, including the following comment:

“My life review taught me that before we can let God’s light and love in,  we must forgive ourselves.”10

Hodgson’s book is written in a very conversational, clear style. The information is presented in a very open and objective way, and one that does not include any bias or religious connotations. I am impressed by the time and work that went into researching, cataloging, and writing this chronicle of NDEs. The organization of all of this material, from over 500 accounts of NDEs, is truly remarkable. He also includes a few sources for learning more about NDEs. 

What I like best about Hodgson’s book is the way that I can use this information for daily encouragement or journal prompts.  For example, in the chapter called “Our Earthly Life Purpose and Meaning”, I saw these thought-provoking prompts that I want to use for daily affirmations:

“Life is meant to be lived in abundance.”

“Do not be concerned over what others may think of you. “

“There is meaning in everything.”

Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil would be great for all interested in what happens after we pass on, including anyone who needs encouragement after a loss, someone at a crossroads or someone asking “why?” in a general context.  In Hodgson’s own words:

“For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and for those who feel lost and confused about the meaning and purpose to their lives and what lies ahead of them, it is hoped that this book will provide comfort, peace, solace, assurance and direction.”11

My husband and I work with grieving people, giving mediumship readings, and providing resources for life after a loss. Hodgson’s book will provide us with even more information to share with our clients, family and friends.

Mediumship, by Kerrie Erwin

Mediumship: Your Guide to Connect, Communicate and Heal Through the Spirit World, by Kerrie Erwin
Rockpool Publishing, 978- 1925924985, 160 pages, June 2021

“Mediumship is the practice of mediating communication between living humans and the spirits of the dead. It has been documented from early human history, gaining its popularity during the nineteenth century when Ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Natural mediums are born with the gift, although they may not become aware of it until later in life. Every person who walks this path has their own individual gift to offer. Once you embrace mediumship as your life purpose it becomes an enormous responsibility, as you are helping people to cope with their grief. Despite the highs and lows it is very rewarding.”1

Author Kerrie Erwin is an Internationally recognized medium whose work includes spirit rescue and connecting loved ones to those who have passed. There is often a distinct difference in being able to impart the body of what gifts the individual may have in a live setting versus being able to translate that information and teaching into book form. In the case of this title, Mediumship: Your Guide to Connect, Communicate and Heal Through the Spirit World, I would say that Erwin has done a wonderful job of bridging that disparity.  

Although this may seem like an aside and irrelevant, I am going to comment on the visual appeal of the book. We, as humans, are very visually driven, storing memories and feelings from the catalogue of what we have seen and then experienced as a result. This book is a soft powder blue paperback with a lovely piece of cover art depicting a white outlined pseudo Ouija pointer centered between gold text for title and author.

Upon opening the book, the reader is greeted by blue line drawings of eyes in various states of gaze and opening and scattered throughout are assorted blue lined drawings representing certain aspects of the content included in a particular chapter or paragraph. The attention that went into the design of the book itself immediately engages the reader in a gentle “pulling in closer” manner to subject matter that may be frightening or fraught with skepticism.

Mediumship is separated into thirteen chapters, each providing the reader with multiple aspects of consideration when exploring the role of the medium and finding your own style of communication. The Introduction offers a look at Erwin’s life as a medium and how the work came to be. She describes being called by the spirits at a very young age and how a near-death experience in her twenties allowed her first hand experience of the spirit world. Her descriptions are comforting and are filled with hope and joy at reuniting with those within your “soul group” who have passed before you. 

As part of the Introduction, Erwin also speaks of love and its power to act as a point of connection between the living and the departed. This is the connection achieved, as the medium becomes the conduit of that eternal connection…

“Love is the most powerful emotion in the world as its energy in its higher form, can create healing, miracles and magic in our world. When a loved one dies there is no ending but rather a new beginning, a journey back to the spirit world as spirit lives on, connected to us eternally.”2

Chapters 1-3 provide the reader with the basics of what mediumship is and how it may be defined. It was very interesting to have a definition of the types of mediumship, ranging from channeling and transfiguration. Then there is a concluding section on working with the police. 

“Chapter 4: Suicide: A Difficult Subject” was a much needed inclusion in the book for understanding another aspect of the work of mediumship, albeit one that is shied away from publicly….

To lose someone from suicide is incredibly painful, as you never understand why they took their own life and wonder if there was anything you could have done to prevent it.3

Some very thought-filled questions Erwin poses and answers are:

  • If you kill yourself are you punished and sent to hell?
  • Is it harder to make contact with a spirit who has committed suicide?
  • Do people really mean to kill themselves?

Additionally, there is a checklist of signs others can look for in individuals who may be inclined towards suicide and a listing of Australian help lines and agencies that can be called upon for help. 

“Chapter 7: Protection From Negative Energy” provides a reminder of the need to learn protection techniques and the attention that should be given to exactly what and where the spirits you may encounter are coming from:

“One of the first things I learned when I was developing as a medium was the power of protection and how to utilize it, which is mandatory in my profession. There are many different spirits and energies or different vibrations out there that are not always from the light.”4. 

As Erwin states, not all spirits have the best interest of their living connections in mind. Some can be tricksters and others downright baneful in their intentions. Psychic attack is included as a topic and the author also provides exercises in awareness and protection that are useful for those living energetic predators as well as those from the spirit realms. 

“Chapters 9: Meditation” and “Chapter 10: The Chakra System of Mediumship: Your Guide to Connect, Communicate and Heal Through the Spirit World” provide techniques for opening psychic awareness and self reflection through contemplative practice as well as the energetic anatomy that works collaboratively within the individual as the skills of mediumship are developed. Erwin makes use of nine chakra centers, beginning with the Earth Chakra and moving through the Transpersonal Chakra above the crown chakra at the top of the head. Each chakra is defined by its purpose, color and etheric location and the chapter concludes with a visualization exercise for Empowering with the Middle Pillar (another name given to the line of chakras along the etheric central column):

“The nine chakras are the energy centres in your body through which energy flows; they ground and protect you. Blocked energy in your centres can often lead to illness or dis-ease and can be projected onto your clients, so it is important to understand what each chakra represents and what you can do to keep this energy flowing.”5

“Chapter 11: Psychic Links” explores the tools of mediumship used to hone the skills of inner sight and continually build upon your abilities. Topics include flower readings, jewelry readings, pendulums, and Ouija boards to name a few.  Specific exercises to try out these tools are included, as well and provide the reader with a variety of experiences. 

I really enjoyed “Chapter 12: My Spirit Team”. Erwin talks about those guides she has for her work and I found this to enable a point of resonance between the reader and the material presented in giving a very concrete example of how these guides out-picture and what aid they offer.

“Chapter 13: Ethics for the Professional Medium” offers a lengthy and very concise list of the ethical considerations in acting as a medium for another. There is also a listing of what the client can expect from the medium. Again, very useful to ensure that if you choose to work with a medium you are placing your vulnerability and emotions in their care and keeping.  

Erwin sees life as a contract of experiences to be learned from and resolved. And, the compelling reason to seek out the expertise of a medium or to develop your own skills in connecting with those who have been part of your contract is that of healing and being able to move on to the next lifetime. She sums it up nicely in “The Afterthought”:

“I have tried many types of healing, and the most powerful would have to be simple forgiveness on every level. You don’t have to actually like the person, but once you have forgiven them you release yourself from the contract, cutting the energy connection that is no longer needed, learning the lesson and mobbing on to a life of love without fear.”6

Mediumship is a very user-friendly read that demystifies what mediumship is and the healing that can occur from those gifts being used with integrity and loving intention. I also found it a timely read given how many souls have passed over from COVID-19 and other horrific events. As I stated previously, there is definitely a message of hope and the comfort of knowing that physical death is just another state of Being.

Exploring the Divine Library, by Richard Rowe

Exploring the Divine Library, by Richard Rowe
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 9781940265803, 240 pages, March 2021

Exploring the Divine Library by Richard Rowe is a continuation of the journey outlined in his first book, Imagining the Unimaginable: A System’s Engineer’s Journey into the Afterlife, detailing his personal spiritual journey after having a near-death experience as a result of a blood clot in 2004. This experience set Rowe on a quest to deeply analyze and question death, suffering, and how people’s lives often play out in unfair ways. Finding success in a very methodical and analytical style of questioning, the questions became bigger and deeper in their intention and Exploring the Divine Library was written.

Rowe uses a unique format based on personal experience, trial, and methodical reasoning, which sets it apart from the standard fare of books focused on this subject matter. This is not surprising given that his perspective comes from a strong scientific foundation as an inventor with degrees in Avionics Systems Technology and Computer Science, along with an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. The result is a purpose-filled fusion of spirituality, research, and science that informs the contents of Exploring the Divine Library.

This book is separated into twenty chapters, six appendices, a robust six pages of references, as well as an additional listing of references by chapter. The Introduction provides the reader with clarity of reference as to how Rowe defines the term “Divine Library” and the alternate nomenclature used:

“From ancient times to the present day, many names have been used to refer to information existing somewhere beyond our three-dimensional universe. These names include Akashic Field, Heavenly Library, the Book of Life, Hall of Two Truths, Library of Light, Cosmic Mind, the Matrix, Universal Library, Collective Subconscious, Holographic Library, and others.”1

The entirety of the book is founded upon questioning, researching, experimenting, experiencing, and finally drawing your own conclusions. Exploring the Divine Library reads much like a technical manual and may feel less mystical in its offerings. It is complete with sketches that also bring to mind lab experiment journals. The intention however is clearly one of analysis and organization that leaves room for both skepticism and belief.

“The focus of my exploration continues to be driven by questions that deeply resonate with me. I research a variety of first hand experiences and my own experiences to search for insights. This process is very similar to the approach I have used throughout my career as an inventor to invent, describe, and document systems systematically.”2

“Chapter 2: The Divine Library” lays the groundwork for deepening the readers understanding of what its purpose and nature is. Rowe uses his own findings as well as those who have used hypnotherapy and past-life regression with clients who have reported similar settings and attributes of a storage center (“a multidimensional spiritual data cloud”3) that records all human experience, words, thoughts, actions and the workings of consciousness.

Chapters 3 – 7 take the reader on a journey through the mechanics of the Divine Library. Rowe gives attention to structure, access and the effects of patterns and life cycles on the information stored not only for the personal, but on a collective webbing as well.

Chapters 8 – 13 explore the underpinnings of exploring the purpose and interconnections between the individual and the information contained within the Divine Library. Rowe takes the reader through the processes of formulating the questions, intention, problem solving, and connecting through meditation and prayer.

“Chapter 12: Life Purpose” explores the quintessential question of all humans at some point of their existence: what is my purpose? Rowe explains the importance of asking that and other “big questions” as part of the life experience. The reader learns the value of this movement through life by questioning, and its value when applying this same approach to accessing and co-creating within the Divine Library.

“A significant life event can be the perfect opportunity to ask big questions and evaluate life… Whatever the scenario, asking what is my purpose usually comes along with waves of emotion, confusion, and an off-balance feeling…”.4

Chapters 14-19 provide the reader with practical application of what has been revealed through personal research and analysis of the function of the Divine Library. How to access the records and the interconnectedness of all energetic beings is discussed, as well as ways to exercise manifesting the energy needed and expand the boundaries of individual consciousness to reach into the Divine Library’s resources.

Finally, “Chapter 20: Lessons Learned” is a summary of what Rowe (and perhaps the reader) experienced in his explorations of the Divine Library. I think this was a necessary way to conclude the book and doing so left no loose ends for the reader to try to interpret.

This book is not, by any means, an intuitive or easy read. It is user-friendly only if you have a curious and methodical mind that enjoys the minutia of dissecting whatever your focus is applied towards. That being said, I think it is a necessary and well-founded approach since the goal for the reader is one to know more about his/her/their self and the ultimate purpose of this particular lifetime. If you are willing to put in the work and pay attention to the details, you will find that the gifts of outcome are well worth the time spent in dissecting and analyzing. Exploring the Divine Library provides the access card to enter into the universal data of the Divine Library.

The Last Ecstasy of Life, by Phyllida Anam-Áire

The Last Ecstasy of Life: Celtic Mysteries of Death and Dying, by Phyllida Anam-Áire
Findhorn Press, 9781644112656, 175 pages, June 2021

Death plays such a huge role in our lives. It is something that a lot of people would rather not think about even though it is all around us every day. Though some may call it morbid, I have an interest in learning about how different cultures view death. Seeing how communities treat those who are dying can reveal so much about them. Ireland in particular has such a fascinating culture, steeped in rich history. I wondered what insights I could glean from reading more about how a person from that culture would view topics such as death and grief. Thanks to Phyllida Anam-Áire and her book The Last Ecstasy of Life: Celtic Mysteries of Death and Dying, I have the answers to that question.

To say that Phyllida Anam-Áire is intimately familiar with death would be an understatement. Throughout her life training as a nun and then as a therapist where she trained with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, she learned to view death in a unique way. To her death is not a looming spectre waiting menacingly off in the distance. Death is a constant companion that she has embraced with love. Having found the sacred nature of what it means to live while facing one’s own mortality, she passes on this wisdom through flowing poetry and thoughtful prose.

The first chapter introduces us to some core topics and important information about the author’s beliefs about the nature of life itself. An overarching question of this section revolves around the concept of identity and just what really is the “I” that we speak of when we talk about ourselves. What parts of us can really be considered the true expression of our ‘self’? She shares the Celtic belief that “creation came about by the out-breath of life force and so it was”. This breath that gives us life does not belong to us, but it is something to savor while we get to experience it. She chooses not to question the specifics of what this “breath” might be, instead she surrenders to the mystery and encourages us to do the same. Pondering the unknowable will distract us from living out the fullest expression of life. At the same time she states that it is important to make some personal sense out of what we can observe about the nature of life around us.

With references to works by others in the scientific community, she speaks about the natural energetic field within and around all living organisms. Anam-Áire states that to her the life force that fills and balances all things is a force of love. “This Love does not judge or condemn as its core is the Universal Heart, the heart of compassionate energy.”1 This Universal Heart can act as a source of love of life in the world. It is a beautiful way to view life. Viewing things with compassion and empathy in mind leads to a kinder, more understanding world.

From there the author spends the majority of the book discussing the types of processes we undergo as we die. The energy within us starts to weaken and eventually is released from us as we die. She uses sprinklings of poetry throughout the book to help highlight the emotional themes she brings up. Even the prose she writes reflects her poetic spirit. While the words she uses are not overly complex and the tone very conversational, Anam-Áire weaves together beautiful sentences that evoke certain deep feelings throughout the book.

There are a number of blessings and visualization exercises written throughout the book. Trying those exercises for myself I felt myself more at peace as I went through them. It was interesting to explore these types of thoughts and feelings from the safety of my home. One of the exercises that I found the most impactful was located at the end of chapter three. This exercise, entitled “Let Love Heal…Now”, led me into a deep meditation of healing and self love. The text went on for a few pages, the experience diving deeper as things progressed. I felt the sacred nature of my own divinity and the healing power of love from the Universal Heart. Afterwards I felt at peace and relaxed, having healed bits of myself that required it. Luckily this was near the end of that chapter, which gave me time to reflect.

At the end of each chapter the author leaves a list of questions for the reader to ponder. Taking a few moments to digest and reflect on what I had just read, I found those questions enlightening. They cause us, as readers, to reevaluate our preconceived notions about ourselves, divinity, and the nature of life and death. Taking time to think on these questions, I was led to some interesting personal conclusions that I had not previously considered. With that in mind I was able to sit with a more complete knowledge of myself. Contemplating those questions has given me a greater understanding of what I want from my life as well as my death.

Reading The Last Ecstasy of Life was a journey of self discovery. Led by a guide who speaks with wisdom and a clear reverence for life, the reader is led to examine themselves. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn to approach death with compassion and have a deeper appreciation for life. This is an excellent book that was a pleasure to read. Anam-Áire has managed to breathe such a vibrant sense of life and love into a book all about the topic of death and dying. She has left me with questions to ponder for the remainder of my life as I try to shape what that life will look like. Though when death finally does come for me, I believe I will be more prepared.

When We Die, by Kenneth J. Doka, PhD

When We Die: Extraordinary Experiences at Life’s End, by Kenneth J. Doka PhD 
Llewellyn Publications, 0738762937, 216 pages, November 2020

I never really thought of when my father might die (his father had died young in his sixties), but one special night a couple of years ago while I was walking in the snow in the forest, I heard a train and went towards it. A thought crossed my mind: perhaps the number of box cars on the train will be the age of my father when he dies.

I counted – it was 80 – and then I thought, he can live longer if I grant him extra years, so I added 8, to get 88. A couple of weeks later he said to me, out of the blue, I will be happy if I can live to 88. As he is now 80, we will have to wait and see if our shared premonitions of his death at 88 will prove to be true.

Have you had a premonition about someone’s death or communications from the deceased? Have you ever felt an invisible presence, seen a ghost, or received a prophetic dream with a message from a deceased loved one? What do you make of these experiences? What would you make of it if others have had similar experiences?

Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, a professor, minister, and counselor, who has written and edited numerous books on death, dying, and bereavement, offers a rich collection of unusual stories surrounding death, dying, and the dead in his book When We Die: Extraordinary Experiences at Life’s End. He recounts a plethora of paranormal experiences he has gathered during his half a century in the field of thanatology, including several stories of his own life. Doka invites us repeatedly to consider what gifts such experiences could bring to us.

The book is comprised of chapters that group stories into various categories, such as Premonitions of Death, Near-Death Experiences, Messages and Mediums, and Ghosts and Apparitions. The book concludes with an essay “We All Live at the Edge of Forever When We Die,” which explores his worldview about our very deep needs relating to death. “Edge of forever” is an evocative phrase threaded throughout the tapestry of this book, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. For now, it is a koan, inviting active meditation into uncharted territory.

Here are two stories of the book that stand out for me. One is when Doka feels the presence of a dear friend by an experience that he remembers as feeling like “every cell in my body was being individually hugged.”1 Another tells of when all five children felt the kiss of their deceased father on their foreheads after his death, as he used to kiss them when they were children.2 These felt particularly poignant because they are experiences of a palpable experience of love from someone who has died. It matched my personal experience that consciousness, love, and even palpable experience survive physical death. I did not know I was so hungry for this validation until I received it. 

More broadly, what could be the gifts of sharing such stories of unusual experiences surrounding death, the dying, and the dead? One gift, as I mentioned already, might be validation of one’s own experience by learning that they are shared by others; another gift could be to invite one to be more open having such experiences. Yet another gift might be that having personal experiences or even just sharing stories of death somehow fosters us to live more deeply, happily, meaningfully.

 “Encounters with death inevitably affect the way survivor’s experience life.”3

Doka notes as he discusses near-death experiences (NDEs). He continues that such effects are also seen in survivors of disasters, illness, or accidents — even without NDEs. Intimacy with our own mortality or others’ often makes us re-greet our lives with more joy, gratitude, and commitment. Who doesn’t want more of that? 

I was drawn to read this book because I wanted to learn more about the possible range experiences related to death. What I discovered was much more than I expected in one way  (there is such a range of experiences!) and less than what I expected in another way (each story is described briefly, as a vignette, not an extended plot).

Because this book is such a rich repository of so many kinds of anecdotes, it would be a good introduction to those who wanted a survey of the range of paranormal experiences that could lead to more reading and exploration of whatever is of deeper interest. By reading this book, I got to narrow and articulate my deeper interest. That is, when younger, I used to wonder, “Is there life after death?” Now I realize my curiosity is about what kind of life or consciousness is there after physical death.

In contemplating the true gifts of When We Die for me, it is that one’s personal experience is the truest guide to what is real about death and that having an open heart and mind is crucial in navigating the mysterious territory of death and of life.