The following is excerpted from Reunions: Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones published in 1993. It details Dr. Moody’s extensive work with mirror gazing, and particularly his use of the psychomanteum, a small chamber, modeled on the Oracles of the Dead, where Ancient Greeks traveled to communicate with their departed loved ones and the experiences people have had using these techniques. Learn more about the book here.
THE VISIONARY EXPERIENCE
The powerful and vivid quality of apparitions made me think they fit into the category of paranormal experience known as visions. Saint Paul’s vision of Christ on the road to Damascus is one such example, as are the voices of angels that Joan of Arc heard that eventually led her to the command of the French army. These occurrences are called spontaneous visions, which means people experience a vision without conscious effort. One moment everything seems normal, and the next moment a vision occurs.
A surprising number of spontaneous apparitions of the deceased are seen in mirrors or other reflective surfaces. Many others are seen in the night or against backgrounds such as a blank wall or in the dark outdoors. For example, a woman told me that she had seen an apparition of her grandmother emerge from a mirror at the end of a hallway. As the amazed woman watched, the apparition walked down the hallway toward her, then vanished through an open doorway to another room.
Another woman told me that she happened to look up at a crystal chandelier in her dining room and saw people talking to one another in one of the hanging crystals. These visions have occurred throughout history to a variety of people. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, saw a double image of himself in a mirror at his home in Springfield, Illinois—one image as he was lying on a couch, the other looking ghostly and pale, like a dead or dying person. What amazes me is not the visions President Lincoln had but the fact that he was willing to talk about them. For a president of the United States to talk about such an experience today would surely doom his political career, but Lincoln spoke freely about his dreams and visions.
Anatole France tells how his great-aunt saw a mirror vision of Robespierre dying at approximately the same time he was shot in the jaw. On the night of July 27, 1794, she was looking in a mirror when she shouted, “I see him! I see him! How pale he is! Blood is flowing from his mouth! His teeth and jaws are shattered! God be praised. The bloodthirsty wretch will drink no more blood but his own.” Then she cried out and fainted.
On occasion collective mirror visions of the deceased have been reported. Most of the best documentation of these cases has come from researchers into the paranormal who are meticulous in their fact gathering. One such investigator was Sir Ernest Bennett, the first secretary of the Society for Psychical Research in England. He was intrigued by the unexplainable nature of many paranormal phenomena, especially those that happen spontaneously. He wrote extensively about the paranormal for scientific journals and carefully documented case studies of paranormal events. Among his case studies were examples of collective visions, ones in which more than one person sees an apparition of the same person at the same time.
THE NATURAL LINK
There are many forms of visions and many ways of facilitating them, yet visions remain among the most extraordinary phenomena of the human mind. Perhaps an odder phenomenon still is that they are seldom studied by psychologists. Many of us have grown up in an atmosphere charged
with tales of biblical visions. Who among us familiar with the Bible has not marveled at Ezekiel’s wheel within a wheel, or at Jacob’s ladder, or the entire book of Revelation? No wonder many of us consider these ancient visionaries to be uncommon individuals with rare and
mysterious powers to commune with the divine. These days many tend to pathologize visions. They assume that people who say they have visions are schizophrenic, or delirious, or even sociopathic.
This perception is changing now, since a growing number of demographic studies show that the visionary experience is a common one in the normal population. Legions of people have been having visions all along. They were simply reluctant to mention them for fear of being labeled insane. Since apparitions of the departed are a form of visionary experience, we need to consider some of the common forms of visions, especially those that can be facilitated by known methods.
Raymond Moody, M.D., Ph.D. is the world’s leading authority on the near-death experience. For nearly 50 years he has researched, interviewed, written and lectured on the subject of what lies beyond this life and what happens to those left behind.
He is also the bestselling author of eleven books which have sold over 20 million copies.
To read an excerpt of another of Dr. Moody’s works, please see our previous post Past Lives and Living Again