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The Afterlife Unveiled: What the Dead are Telling Us About Their World, by Stafford Betty

Publication Details: O Books, ISBN-13: 978-1846944963
Publish Date: June, 2011
The Afterlife Unveiled, by Stafford Betty

From the publisher’s website: What happens after we die? Spirits speaking through mediums know. They want us to know. This book unveils their world.

Stafford Betty earned his PhD in theology from Fordham University, teaches religious studies at California State University in Bakersfield, and has gradually evolved into a world expert on afterlife studies. Originally a specialist in Asian religious thought and the philosophy of religion, he branched out into paranormal research when he found the big questions about life's meaning unanswered in the safe, tidy world of academic orthodoxy. "Paranormal studies is the next frontier for philosophers and scientists to venture into," Professor Betty says. He has published five books of fiction, his latest "The Imprisoned Splendor" (November 2011), which has as its setting the afterlife. When not writing and teaching, he tries to guide his children, enjoys watching BBC drama with his wife in the evenings, and golfs once a week. He lives in Bakersfield, California.

See Review by Ted Dixon

Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, by Charles Colbert

Publication Details: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN-13: 978-0812243253
Publish Date: May, 2011

Spiritualism emerged in western New York in 1848 and soon achieved a wide following due to its claim that the living could commune with the dead. In Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, Charles Colbert focuses on the ways Spiritualism imbued the making and viewing of art with religious meaning and, in doing so, draws fascinating connections between art and faith in the Victorian age.

Examining the work of such well-known American artists as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Sydney Mount, and Robert Henri, Colbert demonstrates that Spiritualism played a critical role in the evolution of modern attitudes toward creativity. He argues that Spiritualism made a singular contribution to the sanctification of art that occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The faith maintained that spiritual energies could reside in objects, and thus works of art could be appreciated not only for what they illustrated but also as vessels of the psychic vibrations their creators impressed into them.

Such beliefs sanctified both the making and collecting of art in an era when Darwinism and Positivism were increasingly disenchanting the world and the efforts to represent it. In this context, Spiritualism endowed the artist's profession with the prestige of a religious calling; in doing so, it sought not to replace religion with art, but to make art a site where religion happened.

Charles Colbert teaches American art history at Portland State University. He is the author of A Measure of Perfection: Phrenology and the Fine Arts in America.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Altering Consciousness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Etzel Cardeña and Michael Winkelman

Publication Details: Praeger. pISBN-13 978-0-31338-308-3; eISBN-13 978-0-31338-309-0
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: This authoritative, multidisciplinary overview of altered states of consciousness (ASC) shows how their study is necessary to gain a fundamental understanding of human culture, history, and biology.  From prehistoric caves to current raves and virtual reality technology, humanity has always sought to alter its consciousness. Altered states of consciousness can be achieved through dreaming, drumming, dancing, meditation, hypnosis, fasting, sex, and a number of other human activities. These strategies affect consciousness by mimicking the natural responses of our nervous system.

Altered consciousness is one of humanity's most mystical and life-altering aspects. These remarkable changes in mental state have understandably been a topic of general interest and scientific inquiry across time. Beyond simply satisfying our curiosity, however, studies focused upon altered consciousness can also bring valuable insights into our experience, biology, and culture.

This unprecedented two-volume set will intrigue anyone interested in psychology, biology and neurology, science, history, arts and the humanities, and literature on consciousness, from general readers to scholars and researchers. An impressive collection of international contributors address altered states of consciousness from the perspectives of history, evolution, psychology, culture, literature, human biology, contemporary science, and society, seeking to illuminate the causes, effects, and meanings of altered consciousness. The first volume provides an introduction and centers on the importance of altered states in history, culture, and the humanities, while the second volume presents biological and psychological perspectives on altered consciousness and examines their potential for healing and pathology. 

Between Two Worlds: The Diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant 1909-1924, by Peter Lord

Publication Details: National Library of Wales. ISBN-13: 978-1862250864
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Between two worlds: the diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant 1909 – 1924 reveals the inner thought of the life of a woman who combined high politics, campaigning and love during a troubled historical period.

The diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956) is an extraordinary document. Its daily entries (1909-55) amount to one and a quarter million words. They document the writer’s intense inner life alongside her acute observation of the outside world through a period of unprecedented upheaval.

Winifred struggled all her life with a tension between her metaphysical beliefs and the practicalities of changing the social order. She was the most closely studied spiritual medium of her time, and the lover of Gerald Balfour, cabinet minister and brother of the former Prime Minister. Subsequently she became an intimate of Lloyd George and a frequent visitor to 10 Downing Street, where she witnessed momentous events such as the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. She was a suffragist, stood for parliament, and was the first female British delegate to the League of Nations. As a patron of young painters, she became a central figure in the Welsh art world.

This annotated edition of the diary presents the most intense and eventful years of both her public and private lives. It may be read as literature, for the story of a spiritual journey taken against a background of personal tragedy and public endeavour. For the academic community, it reveals important new information and personal insights into events affecting the fields of women’s studies, political and social history, and psychology.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Less Incomplete: A Guide to Experiencing the Human Condition beyond the Physical Body, by Sandie Gustus

Publication Details: O Books. ISBN: 978-1-84694-351-5
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: This, the first book to summarize the work of Brazilian consciousness researcher, Waldo Vieira MD, for a general nonacademic audience, has the backing of some of the world’s most eminent academic and medical researchers of life after death. Based on two new sciences proposed by Vieira, this book provides a comprehensive understanding of the human condition beyond the physical body, offering readers a profound opportunity to increase their self-awareness, self-confidence, balance and maturity, and fulfil their potential. Readers will learn how to - master their energy and use it as a tool to experience conscious and controlled out-of-body experiences, increase their psychic abilities, protect themselves energetically and heal themselves and others; have more positive helpers (spirit guides) and people around them; facilitate the recollection of past lives; identify their purpose in life; become more mature and more (cosmo)ethical and thus improve their karma; be more consistently good-natured; exercise more control over their lives; lose their fear of death; take the maximum opportunity of what this life offers to develop and evolve. . . . be a little less incomplete. 

Shamanism and Psi: Imagery Cultivation as an Alternative to the Ganzfeld Protocol, by Lance Storm and Adam J. Rock

Publication Details: Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research. http://www.aiprinc.org/ ISBN 9780987077202
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: The new book Shamanism and Psi by Dr. Lance Storm and Dr. Adam Rock describes an alternative approach to producing paranormal effects in the laboratory. Many parapsychologists are convinced that popular picture-identification techniques are the best ways to elicit Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP), but the authors have their doubts.

In their innovative monograph, Storm and Rock summarize the major findings and problems involved in several areas of ESP research (i.e., relaxation, dreams, hypnosis, meditation, and ganzfeld), they take issue with the so-called ‘noise-reduction’ model, and they present their Imagery Cultivation Model which is based on shamanic practices. The book also details the successful results of the very first experimental tests of the authors' new Imagery Cultivation Model.

The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, by Michael Tymn

Publication Details: White Crow Books. ISBN 978-1-907661-90-7; e-book ISBN 978-1-907661-91-4
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: At the very foundation of religious faith and hope is a belief that consciousness will survive death and that we will live on in another dimension of reality.  But that foundation easily crumbles when scientific minds are unable to wrap their brains around an afterlife, when they are unable to visualize a non-material world.  As the foundation gives way, the philosophy of materialism takes hold and gives rise to moral decadence, egocentricity, hypocrisy, hatred, disorder, flux, strife, chaos, and fear. Such seems to be the state of the world today.  There is so much to be found outside the highly guarded boundaries of mainstream science and orthodox religion for those willing to open their minds to it, for those willing to recognize that the dissemination of Truth did not stop with the good books of organized religion and cannot always be found in the laboratory.

Beginning in 1848, a number of sensitive people began developing as mediums, bringing forth communications from the spirit world.  One of the skeptics investigating the “popular madness” was Professor Robert Hare of the University of Pennsylvania.  Intending to debunk it all, Hare would, after extensive research, become a believer.  When he asked an apparently advanced spirit what it was all about, he was told that it was “a deliberate effort, on the part of the inhabitants of the higher spheres, to break through the partition which has interfered with the attainment, by mortals, of a correct idea of their destiny after death.”  Unfortunately, both orthodox religion and mainstream science, acting out of ego and fear, have rebuked the efforts of those inhabitants of the higher spheres to enlighten us, thus permitting the foundations of both faith and hope to further crumble.

In The Afterlife Revealed, Michael Tymn sets forth some of the most credible messages from the spirits relative to the nature of their world.  Instead of a heaven-hell dichotomy, we are told that there are many levels, or as Jesus is quoted, “many mansions,” and that we cross over to the “other side” based on what might be called a “moral specific gravity.”  We discover a Divine plan – one of attainment and attunement, of gradual spiritual growth, of evolution of spirit through progressively higher planes. We see how we are really souls occupying bodies rather than bodies housing souls and how our souls are progressing in finding their way back to Oneness with the Creator through the challenges, the adversities, the trials and tribulations offered us in a particular lifetime.  

Investigating the Supernatural: From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853–1931, by Sofie Lachapelle

Publication Details: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN-13: 978-1421400136
Publish Date: April, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Séances were wildly popular in France between 1850 and 1930, when members of the general public and scholars alike turned to the wondrous as a means of understanding and explaining the world. Sofie Lachapelle explores how five distinct groups attempted to use and legitimize séances: spiritists, who tried to create a new "science" concerned with the spiritual realm and the afterlife; occultists, who hoped to connect ancient revelations with contemporary science; physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, who developed a pathology of supernatural experiences; psychical researchers, who drew on the unexplained experiences of the public to create a new field of research; and metapsychists, who attempted to develop a new science of yet-to-be understood natural forces.

Lachapelle examines the practices, aims, and level of success of these five disciplines, paying special attention to how they interacted with each other and with the world of mainstream science. Their practitioners regarded mystical phenomena worthy of serious study; most devotees—with notable exceptions of physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists—also meant to challenge conventional science in general and French science in particular. Through these stories, Lachapelle illuminates the lively relationship between science and the supernatural in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France and relates why this relationship ultimately led to the marginalization of psychical research and metapsychics.

An enlightening and entertaining narrative that includes colourful people like "Allan Kardec"—a pseudonymous former mathematics teacher from Lyon who wrote successful works on the science of the séance and what happened after death—Investigating the Supernatural reveals the rich and vibrant diversity of unorthodox beliefs and practices that existed at the borders of the French scientific culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Sofie Lachapelle is an associate professor of history at the University of Guelph.

The Phoenix Point: The Quest for the Science of the Paranormal, by Geoffrey Crockford and Nigel Hughes

Publication Details: Biolocation Services. ISBN-13: 978-0956292117
Publish Date: April, 2011
From the authors: A new scientific paradigm clearly demonstrates that humans have a sixth sense. We live our lives immersed in a sea of magnetic energy that originates from the matter of the Earth and from the stars, the planets and their moons. This magnetic energy contains an enormous amount of information that can be read using a powerful analytical process called Biolocation. The sixth sense is particularly attuned to a point in an electromagnetic wave where its energy field dies and regenerates as it travels - the 'Phoenix Point'. Linking our sense to this Phoenix Point has resulted in many major discoveries.

Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There, by Richard Wiseman

Publication Details: Macmillan. ISBN-13: 978-0230752986
Publish Date: March, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Bestselling psychologist Richard Wiseman unravels the science behind our beliefs in telepathy, clairvoyants, mediums, ghosts, and more...

Professor Richard Wiseman is clear about one thing: paranormal phenomena don't exist. But in the same way that the science of space travel transforms our everyday lives, so research into telepathy, fortune-telling and out-of-body experiences produces remarkable insights into our brains, behaviour and beliefs. Paranormality embarks on a wild ghost chase into this new science of the supernatural and is packed with activities that allow you to experience the impossible. So throw away your crystals, ditch your lucky charms and cancel your subscription to Reincarnation Weekly. It is time to discover the real secrets of the paranormal.

The Lonely Sense: The Autobiography of a Psychic Detective, by Robert Cracknell

Publication Details: Anomalist Books. ISBN: 1933665513
Publish Date: March, 2011

From the publisher’s website: THE LONELY SENSE  is the unique story of ROBERT CRACKNELL who underwent a harrowing childhood, came to terms with his growing psychic powers, and ended up assisting the police and people around the world with his uncanny ability to see back into the past…and forward into the future.

“Robert Cracknell must be the least typical psychic in the world,” writes COLIN WILSON in his foreword to this electrifying autobiography. “To encounter Cracknell is a refreshing, or possibly a traumatic, experience…He is totally down-to-earth, blunt, aggressive and impatient; he is also intelligent, honest, and obsessively, almost self-destructively, devoted to his own vision of the truth. The fact is that, as a psychic, Cracknell is a total Outsider… the alienated man who has to learn to turn his powers of development inward… Cracknell represents something completely new in this strange field of the paranormal... He has a natural vitality and frankness that makes his book absorbing reading. His is a voice that needs and deserves to be heard.”

This book is an expanded and updated version of Clues to the Unknown originally published by Hamlyn in 1981. 

Review by Tom Ruffles

Consciousness and the Source of Reality: The PEAR Odyssey, by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne

Publication Details: ICRL Press. ISBN-13: 9781936033034
Publish Date: February, 2011

From the publisher’s website: When Robert G. Jahn and Brenda J. Dunne first embarked on their exotic scholarly journey more than three decades ago, their aspirations were little higher than to attempt replication of some previously asserted anomalous results that might conceivably impact future engineering practice, either negatively or positively, and to pursue those ramifications to some appropriate extent. 
 
But as they followed that tortuous research path deeper into its metaphysical forest, it became clear that far more fundamental epistemological issues were at stake, and far stranger phenomenological creatures were on the prowl, than they had originally envisaged, and that a substantially broader range of intellectual and cultural perspectives would be required to pursue that trek productively. 
 
This text is their attempt to record some of the tactics developed, experiences encountered, and understanding acquired on this mist-shrouded exploration, in the hope that their preservation in this format will encourage and enable deeper future scholarly penetrations into the ultimate Source of Reality.