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World War I Victim Tells of Afterlife Experiences

Posted on 31 January 2022, 7:58

The spirit communicating through the mediumship of a Chicago woman named Joan provided his full name and enough details for Joan and her husband, Darby, to confirm that he had existed and that he was a casualty of the Great War, even the details of his death, which they were able to verify. However, for privacy reasons they provided only the name Stephen. Moreover, because of their professional standings in the Chicago area and their need for privacy, both Joan and Darby wrote under pseudonyms, their 1920 best-selling book titled Our Unseen Guest, authored simply by “Darby and Joan.” While Joan was the medium, Darby did the recording of the messages that came through her in the trance state and put questions to Stephen.


The skeptic can haughtily discount the entire book based on the fact that true names are not given. However, renowned author Stewart Edward White, the subject of the last two blog posts here, met Darby and Joan over a 20-year period, sat with them, and referred to Joan as “one of the greatest psychics, if not the greatest, in the world.”  He explained that she worked blindfolded from a state of trance, into which she entered instantly and completely as soon as Darby touched her wrist. White had no doubt as to the genuineness of Joan’s mediumship.  Initially a disbeliever in mediums, White was converted when his wife Betty developed into a medium beginning in 1919.  As a result, White wrote six books about the wisdom coming through Betty from a group of spirits referred to as the “Invisibles,” and then, after her death in 1939, about communication coming from Betty through Joan (see blog post of January 17, 2022).

Like the Whites, Darby and Joan were initially very skeptical as to the source, both subscribing to the subconscious hypothesis, i.e., it was all coming from Joan’s subconscious, even though she had no recollection of the names and other information coming through her.  Moreover, she didn’t understand much of it. To claim that the information was coming from spirits of the dead prompted scoffs and sneers from the “intellectuals” of the day, so it was best not to mention such a theory or to have their true names associated with such “bunkum.”   
Darby explained in the first chapter of their book that their first experience with psychic phenomena occurred on December 7, 1916, by way of a Ouija board which they came upon at a boarding house where someone else had left the board sitting on the table.  Curious, they began playing around with it, when after about 10 minutes, a message was spelled out from Stephen, who identified himself as an American soldier killed in the war.  He provided his full name and details of his death, but said that he did not want his true name made public as it would disturb his family.  Both Darby and Joan thought the other was making it all up, and when that was eliminated they concluded that it was somehow coming from Joan’s subconscious.  However, upon further investigation, they eventually came to accept that Stephen and several others communicating through Joan were who they said they were.  That explanation made more sense to them than the alternatives. 

Stephen explained that immediately following his battlefield death he was lost in a strange world. “Aimlessly I wandered, seeking I knew not what, dazed, mystified. I did not know I was, as you say and as I used to say, dead.”  Stephen communicated, adding that when death comes naturally there are always deceased loved one there to meet them, but, his death being sudden and premature, there was no one to meet him, to explain that he had graduated into a new plane of consciousness. He was eventually met by a woman who explained it all to him and because of his experience he chose such work there – that of meeting fallen soldiers and explaining the simplicity of their own mortality.

Darby asked if all persons survive death. “They become as I,” Stephen answered. “Still possessed of a degree of my own I am part of the great consciousness. I am only a part of the whole, yet the whole is I. You do not understand; later this will be made more clear to you. But don’t use the word ‘death.’ Man has read into this word so much that is somber, so much of unhappiness and despair. The earth term that corresponds to our thought here of what you call death is graduation. And as I did not die, but rather graduated into a new mode of consciousness, so be assured that graduation, not death, awaits you.”

Stephen went on to explain that he did not graduate into a higher consciousness and that his present state was much the same as that of Darby and Joan. However, there was a difference. “Here we do not see through a glass darkly. We recognize ourselves here as a whole, and perfection is the end.”

In one of his sittings with Joan, White asked Stephen about his method of communication. “I utilize a force which man does not yet understand,” Stephen replied, “but which in time he will….” White asked if it involved electricity. “But surely,” Stephen answered, “but not electricity as you now understand it. The atomic force of which I speak might be called magnetic consciousness.”

Stephen cautioned against letting their preconceived ideas and prejudices color his messages. “Keep your mind free,” he advised, “especially when I say something which you do not agree. Darby, you are the conceiving station. Remember that Joan could not communicate alone wholly successfully, nor could, I think, any one else. You can differ from me as much as you will; in fact, I rely on your questions to clarify the communication. But above all you must alleviate Joan’s prejudices. You must prevent her own opinions coloring my words. And you must also be on the watch for a form of color that is likely to result, not simply from Joan’s opinions, but from all that mass of thought and memory, her own experience, that lies dormant in her subconsciousness.” 


When Stephen went on to say that “a part of the whole is constantly reborn,” Darby asked if he was referring to reincarnation. “The transmigration of thought is but a guess at the truth,” Stephen responded, “a theory in some measure correct, yet highly colored by emotional reasoning.”  Darby was confused and asked for clarification. “I am sure to be born again – it cannot be otherwise – yet not all of me as I knew myself before,” Stephen replied. “But you do not understand. For the present accept the thought that consciousness is constantly reborn. Then accept this fact: The individual, once graduated from earthly experience, never again returns as an individual. As an individual he goes on and on; ever nearer he approaches and ultimately reaches supremacy. These two thoughts may now seem contradictory. The contradiction will disappear when you understand what I mean by rebirth.”

Stephen later explained that what he referred to as rebirth is not in any sense what Darby knew as reincarnation.  “It is true, as I once told you, that in the reincarnation idea there lies a glimpse,” Stephen communicated.  “But this Buddhistic thought is on the whole an emotional hypothesis.  Dismiss once and for all any possibility of my meaning by rebirth what the world has meant by reincarnation.”  Darby took that to mean he had never individually lived a prior life and would not live another one.  Stephen said his understanding was correct, that “part” of his consciousness would be reborn many times, but not his individual self.

Darby struggled to understand. Stephen further explained that Darby is familiar only with quantitative development of consciousness and the process of qualitative development goes beyond language, so that he could not offer words to help him understand.

To Darby’s question about God, Stephen replied that, “God is consciousness. Consciousness is God. Consciousness is within you. The germ of supremacy is yours and is mine and is in all things animate and inanimate. Consciousness is. It is all there ever was or will be, without beginning and without end.”  Darby then asked about Christ and whether he was just a man. “What else should he have been?” Stephen responded. “Yet he was in your world as the result of the rebirth of a degree of quality approaching the supreme. And he so fulfilled his quantity that his earth graduation was his last. He passed directly into supremacy.”

When Darby asked about the appearance of souls in the afterlife environment Stephen replied that all consciousness has form. “When you come here and your eyes are unsealed, those who meet you will seem quite natural and quite human, as, indeed, we are.  In fact, we are more human than you, as you now know yourself, ever dreamed of being.  We are humanity intensified many times.”


Darby asked how they recognize one another. “We recognize one another not facially, as men recognize each other, but by the individual degree of quality,” Stephen replied, adding that those on earth also have the same recognition ability but they fail to note the fact. “I have never been to what an Oriental, in his hypothetical way, might call the seventh heaven,” Stephen continued. “From it, I, like you, am many graduations removed.  Therefore my information is limited to that which I have been told here by those nearer supremacy than my myself, and to those things I have learned out of the very nature of my qualitatively free existence. And such knowledge of supreme attributes as I have I cannot make clear to you; earth lacks terms for conveying my thoughts.” 

Although Stuart Edward White said he had no need to hear from Betty, Betty communicated through Joan during his first evening with Darby and Joan after Betty’s death. Betty began by speaking of intimate matters known only to her husband.  “Here, in this first evening, she literally poured out a succession of these authentications,” White wrote in The Unobstructed Universe.  “She mentioned not one, but dozens of small events out of our past, of trivial facts in our mutual experience or surroundings, none of which could by any possibility be within Joan’s knowledge. Many of them, indeed, were gone from my own memory, until Betty recalled them to me.”

Betty, speaking through Joan, stressed what the Invisibles had communicated through her when she was still in the flesh. “All that was meant two-thousand years ago was that people who mourn seek after the truth of immortality for the sake, first, of those they mourn, and, second, for their own sakes…If your life on earth is all, why bother with it? Why bring children into the world? Why plan ahead for coming generations? Fundamentally, you know that the I-Am of man is evolution, and must go on. But man has become so engrossed in the wonders of his own obstructed universe – allowed himself to become so confused and overawed by things outside himself – that he has broken away from that simple, early faith. The world is mourning now. And it is going to mourn. It is losing much that it has valued, emotionally and materially. It is only when people who have become stiff-necked and proud in their own self-sufficiency are forced by sorrow to take time to seek after truth – when they themselves want truth – that truth can comfort them or again make them free.  If you search, you will find many such stepladders to a clearer understanding of the things I have been permitted to tell you.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

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