Psi Encyclopedias

Opening Heaven's Door

Patricia Pearson is a Toronto-based author and journalist who has written a book called Opening Heaven’s Door: What the Dying Tell Us About Where They’re Going. It was mentioned here in a recent post and sparked some admiring comments. Having had a chance to read it now, I must say I too am impressed. (There's also a good interview with the author here.)

It’s fair to say that most people who get interested in psi and survival come to it from a personal experience, and that’s the case here. Pearson’s sister, the single mother of teenagers, fell ill with aggressive breast cancer. One night she woke to experience a profound vision of joy and healing. Was it the effect of people praying for her, she wondered?

The next day she learned that their father had died during the night. It was natural to link the two events, and Pearson’s subsequent journey of discovery revealed how common it is for people to have experiences of all kinds in relation to their own deaths, or the deaths of loved ones.

This reminded me of a book I read a few years ago by a British journalist Justine Picardie, who likewise embarked on a personal inquiry following the death of her sister from breast cancer. Justine seemed keen to believe her sister had survived death, if she could find convincing evidence. However her subsequent encounters with researchers and mediums were somewhat clumsy and half-hearted, and she encountered only silence.

By contrast Pearson started out with personal experience. She describes Katherine on her deathbed being pleased and interested by what she seemed to be observing, ‘as if she were engaged in a novel and pleasant adventure.’

She looked gorgeous, as if lit from within. Sometimes, she would have happy whispered conversations with a person I couldn’t see. At other times, she’d stare at the ceiling of her room as a full panoply of expressions played across her face: puzzled, amused, skeptical, surprised.

She just couldn’t find the words to describe it.

When one day Katherine announced she was leaving, she could have survived for weeks or months, but in fact died two days later. Pearson discovered that this is very common – patients can be crisply precise about when they will die, and far more accurate than doctors. (My father on his deathbed suddenly said, ‘I’m going to die tomorrow’, in the same tone as he might have said he was going to the dentist – and he did, even though there was nothing to suggest he couldn’t have gone on for a while longer.)

Yet more interestingly, Pearson also learned that the dying often use the language of a journey to convey the imminence of their departure, quizzing those around them about what arrangements have been made with regard to passports and tickets, and so on.

The book essentially covers Pearson’s research into all kinds of dreams, visions and intimations, from Nearing Death Awareness (termed Death Bed Visions in the early research), psi dreams and visions, apparitions coinciding with death, NDEs, and so on. I was particularly engaged by a chapter on Third Man experiences, where people in situations of great danger find themselves accompanied by an invisible yet somehow tangible presence, who guides them to safety.

Some of the material is published and may be familiar to readers, for instance the account by Yvonne Kason of her dramatic air crash into a frozen lake and the near-death experience it led to. But there are many similar anecdotes culled from Pearson’s own research. All of this is skilfully interwoven with surveys and scientific findings of various kinds, cultural, historical and religious references, and intelligent musings.

Several things make this book stand out. One is the lightness of touch. As a journalist Pearson knows how to present topics in an engaging way, with the eye of the novelist. There is a serious intent, though – in fact the book can be seen as a patient reproof to the response, ‘couldn’t you just have been imagining it?’ Always calm and equable, one nevertheless senses a certain steely impatience with the pretence that such things don’t really have any significance, and that to talk about them as if they do is a sure sign of credulity.

Professional experts like Peter Fenwick emphasise that hallucinations resulting from illness and drugs are unpleasant and fragmentary, whereas these are coherent and meaningful to the highest degree. But unless the point is driven home it remains easy for an agnostic to dismiss it as ‘something that happens in the brain’. That is dealt with in gratifying depth here. Pearson presses experiencers to reveal just how strongly they distinguished the event from anything else that had encountered, and to say why it reassured and sometimes changed them.

I also think that Pearson is absolutely right to emphasise the primacy of subjective experience. A book full of anecdotes is reassuring to sceptics, who tell themselves that anecdotes aren’t science. But theirs, if they only knew it, is the science of a dead world inhabited by zombies and robots. We need to share what we feel and experience, in order to communicate.

People like me bang on about scientific evidence and how it is to be interpreted. Her approach is to quietly layer experience on experience, to show just how completely normal all this really is and how absurd to repress it. Comfortingly, the book hints that more people are willing to speak up – the doctors and medical staff who observe death-bed phenomena, the hospice carers and relatives who witness it, and even on occasion share in the visions themselves – and leaves one with a sense that the mood is slowly changing.

Yet in a rather poignant coda, Pearson learns that she is as much subject to the general reticence as everyone else. She hears a medium in a public meeting say things that clearly come from her sister, but keeps quiet, and only afterwards confesses to him privately that she knew the statements were meant for her. Breaking a taboo is hard, even for those of us who would love to see it happen.


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Her approach is to quietly layer experience on experience, to show just how completely normal all this really is and how absurd to repress it.

I know what Pearson means when she brings up the Enchanted Boundary. More crudely put, the boggle threshold. Dr. Piero Calvi-Parisetti admits to having experienced what he calls "morning-after scepticism", and so have I. It's all a variation of the same tension.

Take all of the NDE's, ADC's, mediumship studies, reincarnation verifications, and any of the paranormal/spiritual experiences out there and throw them all together. What do we really know? Consciousness continues after death? There are squillions of experiences reported, but so many of them are radically different. It's as if there's nothing solid to grab on to.

I guess that's the point. We live in what appears to be a perfectly solid material reality. and it works, most of the time. Sure, science tells us time is an illusion, but some spiritual traditions tell us life is an illusion. That's all well and good, but the last time I looked, I was actually HERE. Banged-up shin and all.

I've had a medium tell me things she could not have possibly known, only to later wonder about her skills with the internet. But some of the information was too personality oriented for an online search. Maybe she...hell, I don't know. I had to look at the fact that a Profound Unknown I couldn't control somehow scared me.

My biggest takeaway from Opening Heavens Door is that I walked away confident of the reality of the spiritual dimension of life, while feeling comfortably sane because of my hesitations. I'm not alone. I'm sure one day, when the Enchanted Boundary is lifted, it'll all make sense.

Why should it all have to make sense? Nothing else in life does. :)

Yep Julie, billions of people with billions of different worldviews. Senseless wars and famine, breathtaking wealth and scientific breakthroughs on the same planet. It doesn't make sense.
In my darker moments I think NOBODY knows what they're talking about, then I cheer myself by thinking that perhaps everybody does.
Ultimately, maybe we're all just tiny fragments of perspective evolving into a yet unseen (from our present perspective) seamless whole. :)

Nice comment, Rabbitdawg! My understanding is that we have our origin in that seamless whole you refer to (otherwise known as God). We leave it, and keep returning, in endless cycles.

Several things make this book stand out. One is the lightness of touch. As a journalist Pearson knows how to present topics in an engaging way, with the eye of the novelist. -Robert

Couldn't agree more Robert. I read the book in a day. She presents many cases that are commonly known to many of us but reframes them in well thought contexts.

I like her bringing up the charges that "mind is a product of brain" proponents are engaing in a form of animism i.e. "the brain thinks this", or "the brain perceives that".

All in all a good read. I am going through a family death at the moment and can resonate with her inner dialogue.

Rick Stuart

I've been fascinated by Death Bed Visions et al since they were covered briefly in one of Chris Carter's books, and the story of Elizabeth Kubler Ross more extensively in Steve Volk's Fringe-ology. I find the written accounts entirely persuasive and my awareness of the phenomenon coloured my perceptions - and expectations - of my own mother's seemingly approaching death after being hospitalised with sepsis at the age of 83. Except....

To cut to the chase, in the first 18 months going in an out of hospital with repeated UTIs, and now with undeniable dementia, nearly all of the reported death bed phenomena I've read about occurred. REported visits from dead loved ones (my dad and her mum. Never ever the living.), often sitting silently in a chair...almost always in the past tense I should say.. Witnessed silent but facially animated conversations with some invisible someone. Talk of going home of elsewhere. Even terror one night at a man dressed all in black appearing out of nowhere standing silently at the foot of her bed just watching her.
Figuring death to be inevitable given her age, and imminent given her health, I wanted these things to be evidence..I reported them on online forums, not seeking reassurance it was imagined, but rather that it was real and a sign. If she had to go it would be comforting after all to have witnessed this evidence life goes on.

Well she's 86 now, not been in hospital in over a year, and is seemingly indestructible. So what should one make of that? I have to assume "real" DBVs are qualitatively different..but its hard to see what was missing. There was no take home conversation its true, nor last minute lucidity. But as I say always the dead, never the living.

By far the most compelling - personally - such reported encounter of hers was at home. For the first, last, and only time she reported my grandmother - my dad's mother - had been there (she died before I was born), standing in the doorway of her bedroom. She lived in her own little house now. She looked after my mum, she said. She had to go as there were all these other people behind her....

As ever my mum never mentioned anything to indicate an awareness that the individual was dead or there was any extraordinary happening.

It actually coincided, within a week I think. of my personally most compelling paranormal experience. But I'll save that for later... :P

“Well she's 86 now, not been in hospital in over a year, and is seemingly indestructible.”

We had something similar with my late mother, whose demise (from ovarian cancer) was expected at virtually any moment – for a period of many months, although she didn’t display any of the signs mentioned by Pearson (and also Penny Sartori in her recent book), until the days immediately prior to her passing.

About six months before my mother actually ‘went’, I happened to have a sitting with a local (to me) medium who, although he did know that my mother was ill, had no detailed knowledge of her general state, or the prognosis. He said that there was a relative of mine ('a funny, angry little old man' with a ‘foreign’ accent) who was saying that he and a number of other relatives had been on notice for ages waiting to collect my mother, but they’d ‘bloody well given up waiting’ for now because my mother had ‘typically’ ‘dug her heels in’ and was ‘refusing to go’, not even acknowledging the presence of the reception committee. He said that they’d all be back when my mother had decided to be less ‘stubborn’ and that she was ‘only making things worse for herself’.

Not especially evidential, in the strictest sense, but the description of the communicator that the medium gave, pretty much, fitted my unreconstructed Geordie grandfather, who never made the slightest concession to people who did not understand the full Geordie dialect – which he used all the time. What I found rather amusing was that I remember many extremely long (and tedious) rows between him and my mother in life, where each was accusing the other of being stubborn.

That's an intriguing detail...the idea the person has a great deal of say in the matter. There are obvious correlations with the part of NDE's where someone is either told they have to go back as its not their time, or else are offered the choice, but realise they have more to live for. The idea of a prealloted life span and preordained hour of death which otherwise litters this kind of stuff always struck me as a problem, otherwise...since surely you have to ask why people in some parts of the world are allotted a life of 30 or 40 years and people in rich western countries are allotted 80 or 90, and ever increasing with medical breakthroughs. Which celestial committee arranged such disparity? (But then again if it is a choice it doesn't entirely resolve the problem...because you could then ask why group X choose to go and group Y choose not to, en masse.)

Another question that arises, if we take the medium's explanation at face value, is (assuming your mum made no conscious waking reference to the debate) where and when did this discussion with her about going take place? As ever every solution produces more riddles.

As a slight aside the one odd happening around my father's death(beyond my mum having a dream of him comforting her..which happened immediately after she was told of hsi passing, so would be dismissed as irrelevant no doubt) was that I was givent he task of putting the acknowledgements notice in the local paper, thanking people for their care and well wishes etc. I quoted the agreed text down the phone to the lady at the newspaper office.

"Brennan. The wife and family of the late Gerry would like to thank..." etc. The woman on the phone read it back and offered a suggestion. The wife sounds a bit formal. Would you not prefer it said "Sally and family". Yes, yes, that's better I agreed...before hesitating and asking a simple question. "How did you know her name is Sally?"

The woman paused, laughed and said she didn't. It had just popped into her head. My mum's name is Sarah, which her own sisters still call her. My dad had changed it to Sally.....

(This is not my aforementioned best tale by the way. That one is a long one. As ever. :) )

"It actually coincided, within a week I think. of my personally most compelling paranormal experience. But I'll save that for later... :P
- Lawrence B

Okay Lawrence, it's later. Now what happened? Or were you kidding? I can't sleep 'til I find out. :-)

Well I actually meant another time. I was hoping for a bigger audience than hidden in the comments section. Haha. But now I'm building it up far too much.

I find it rather difficult to give concise accounts of experiences like these, Lawrence. Whatever yours is, it would be great to hear about it, though.

Incidentally, in answer to your question: my mother played no conscious part in the ‘debate’, as far as I’m aware. Or at least if she did, then she did not tell me about it. She did have very powerful reasons (which I won’t go into), for sticking around, though. And she wasn’t the sort of person that would back down for any reason, no matter what the situation, or the odds. She succumbed to the inevitable in the end, but I imagine that if she had been aware of anyone (even a discarnate close relative) hanging around expecting her to do this, that, or the other (anything other than what she wanted), then her second or, maybe, third word in response would have been ‘off’. My grandfather, and everyone else, would have known that, so I find it very difficult to imagine that he would have found it necessary to hang around. If there was anything at all in what the medium said, then it I think that it was probably more the case that my grandfather was merely commenting on the situation in his usual mock-grumpy, wry fashion.

If we do take the medium’s statements at face value, and a literal debate did really happen, then I think it would have been between my grandfather and others. Of course we can speculate that my mother may have taken part in it on a subliminal level. All I do know is that the incident with the medium happened in June when we’d been told that my mother only had weeks. She actually passed away in late December, but seemed to have a change in attitude a few weeks before that. In the hours before she went, we had a lot of the stuff reported in Patricia Pearson’s book. One thing that I witnessed was her talking to her mother, who had only passed away in May.

For me too, the concept predestination, as it appears to be understood by most, has always been a huge weakness in the survivalist/paranormalist argument.

I emailed my account to Robert today, but its not as gargantuan as I imagined in length, so I suppose there's no reason not to copy and paste it here. I've put it on boards elsewhere previously.

The Sign Of The Cross

2003, 18 months after my dad had died.
My father's name was Gerry. Short for Gerard. He'd given my mother a cross to replace a previous one on a necklace chain. She knew it was still around her neck when in her bedroom but became suddenly aware in the living room that it had vanished from the chain, and she was distraught. She's wheelchair bound so there were only 3 rooms in which to search for it. And I searched every inch of floor on my hands and knees, including her bedroom. It was not there. I did something unlikely...having read of such things recently I privately addressed the air and "them" requesting "they" please return the cross. A few minutes later I walked back into her bedroom and there it was right slap bang in the middle of the empty bare small plain tiled floor. This abbreviated version cannot convey the absolute certainty that this was not a case of just not noticing, like the glasses on top of your head or the pencil behind your ear, but that something truly startling had occurred with all the spectacle of a parlour trick. It remained for many years my most startling fortean experience to have witnessed.

A Monday in December. Two things happened. My mum, seemingly recovered from the confusions of another bout of urinary tract infection a few days earlier was suddenly fully back in a state of rambling dementia bordering on delirium and referred, cheerfully enough, to my dad having been standing by her bedroom door and saying nothing. Secondly, that day I received in the post a book which I'd ordered (Synchronicity And The Other Side, by Trish and Rob MacGregor) on a very specific subject that had intrigued me lately...the claim that synchronicity and multi-layered coincidences are organised and arranged by the "spirits" to show they live on and to guide you. (I was interested by the claim because I drown in such synchronicity, especially in recent weeks, and its never appeared to have any meaning at all, much less involve the dead!) I was only a few pages in when I read this paragraph:

"Jeri Gerard recalls an encounter with a lost or trapped spirit in a house where she was living: 'It was something very heavy and annoying that wanted my attention. One day, my favourite pen disappeared, a Cross pen, a gift from my mother. I knew that I had left it on the made bed, but it was no longer there. I searched the bed, then the room, then the house, Finally, I turned to the living room and fiercely ordered my pen to be returned. When I went back to the bedroom, it was precisely in the middle of the bed'. "

It took a couple of reads for all the layers of this startling parallel to sink in. The incident, the location, the search, the process, the resolve...the emphasis on the pen being a "Cross" and the woman's name Jeri Gerard. And all in a book about synchronicity.

To me startling in the extreme. I wrote it all down to Ian Rubenstein, the doctor – cum – medium, whom I'd been corresponding with on the subject in the previous few days, and who had first drawn my attention in his own book to the concept that these things are arranged by the deceased. Within half an hour of doing so.....

My mum - who knew nothing of this - became agitated and started demanding "the tin box". There's a tin box in her bedside drawer, but she'd not have seen it for months, I keep nothing in it but old near empty tablet packets like Rennies or Paracetamol, and her state of mind being what it is she oughtn't even be aware it's there so surely was either rambling or meant something else, but she got more and more agitated and demanding so only getting this particular box out would placate her. She started rummaging through the packets and things as if searching for something and pulled out with an expression that appeared to say "see!" ...the chain with the cross on it. No explanation, but now satisfied and becalmed we could now return the cross to the box and the box to the drawer.

Make of this what you will.


And there ends the tale. But there are thoughts to be expressed about it, and the inference I think people would naturally draw. That it was a complex sequence of random coincidence beggars belief. But if we were to imagine the spirit of my own dead father was behind it, consider what that would involve – the number of things he would somehow have had to make happen, the number of minds needed to be influenced, is no less insane. Are we to say he was behind the experience of this Jeri Gerard woman, or even responsible for her name! Or did he just spot the link from some celestial vantage point and draw it together across time and space? That’s not a ghost surely, but a god. And if any such entity could do such things how much less effort do we imagine might be needed to simply move a pen across a piece of paper and write a coherent message in plain English? So the answer to what all this means isn’t as plain at it first seems. But that it meant something I’m fairly certain.

Steve and Lawrence, those were great descriptions of events that seem to happen in nearly everyone's life (if they they attention), although few people want to discuss them publicly. One of Pearson's main points. Thank you for sharing yours.

I've had experiences of my own, but they always involve deeply personal events for myself or other people, and would seem mundane to describe. But it was real to me and them, both objectively and subjectively. 'Ya had to be there' kind of things.
For instance, Bunnycat had a dramatic poltergeist experience, but I still can't figure out a way to accurately describe it without giving out too much personal information about her online, and risking holding her up to ridicule. Sure, this is a safe forum for the paranormal, but the internet has lots of eyes.

Cultural shaming. Therein lies the rub.

when my father was dying, he was in the hospital and talking to my mom about being on a train, it seemed at the time he was reliving the doctor zhivago movie, the train scene, the door opens to a beautiful wilderness of I'm not so sure it was the movie...My mom just passed away at 98 last month, she died at home, she kept saying she would be better when she got home..I would tell here, mom, you are home, she said oh, I keep forgetting that. I wasn't aware that this is common to the dying experience. the journey....

One account begets another. The reference I made earlier to my mother seeing her late mother in law standing in her bedroom doorway etc (not reported as a ghostly encounter I should repeat, but rather as a guess who came to see me jumbled anecdote) happened either a few days before or after the main event described above with the book and the cross. I included the detail that she had to go because there were all these other people behind her. This was very evocative and suggestive to me, because the mental image in my mind has a surpernatural familiarity whose origin has only just occurred to me....

The impression in my mental reconstruction is of some ethereal doorway to another world imposed over the physical doorway of my mum's bedroom, and the people milling around or jostling in some other way behind my grandmother inevitably imagined by me as other souls waiting their turn at the portal. Drawing out this inference so explicitly, comparisons to someone else's tale, told to me many years ago, suddenly dawned on me.

Many,many years ago the topic of ghostly encounters on the messages boards of another, unthemed, website lead me to privately message some young student aged chap to tell me his story, which I teased the details out of. At this distance you only have my word and recollection, as the original source is obviously lost to memory. But it went like this: lying or sitting up in bed, in the day time/morning, but he insisted he was awake and alert, the door of his room opened and standing in the doorway was his deceased mother.

He recounts feeling utterly calm and unperturbed. She on the other hand was upset - whether she looked it or said it I can't recall now - and when he asked her why she replied "because you think I'm dead".

That line has stuck in my memory and imagination ever since.

I asked him questions about the doorway and what was going on behind her etc and, again from my fading recollection, he indicated she was looking behind her as if there were other people back there and she had to go.


Still working my way through it. I am enjoying it so far however one thing I find a bit frustrating is the lack of references to follow up.

By that I mean there are a lot of quotation and referral to other sources but, so far (p80, no references to the original sources which can be followed up.

I would very much like to find someone who has had the experience of knowing when another person is going to die - particularly when that person is not expected to die. Three times I have had the experience of others telling me, through a special kind of eye contact, that they are soon to die. The 'message' I get is that they are calm, happy, accepting and even cheerfully anticipating their death. They seem to know that I will understand where they're going and why they can face the prospect with such equanimity. But I'm equally certain that they're not conscious of what they're telling me. It's not a message that comes in words.

One such experience happened during the summertime a couple of years ago. While walking my dog one morning I met along the path, as I often did, Cyril, an old man who was well-liked and respected locally for his kind nature and his physical robustness which he maintained by two walks each day around the canal towpaths that surround this beautiful rural part of West Lancs. We stopped and chatted for a few moments about the glorious weather we were having at the time, then our eyes met and I 'knew'. He smiled and we went our separate ways. Later that afternoon I told my friend and neighbour, Linda, of what I'd sensed (I'd told her in the past of similar experiences) and said that I 'knew' that Cyril would die soon. She seemed very doubtful because she had seen him recently too and he looked every bit as robust as ever. Nevertheless I knew he would soon die.

Two or three weeks later, whilst on holiday, I spoke with Linda via telephone. She told me that Cyril had taken ill suddenly and that he died within a matter of a week or so. He told his family not to grieve for him as he'd had a good life and harboured no regrets.

The first time ever I had this experience was some thirty years ago, just before my father died suddenly. The second was when an old family friend died equally suddenly. When I cast my mind back over these events I wonder how I can ever doubt the reality of the afterlife. But, since no man/woman is an island, we forever seek confirmation of others with similar experience who might be able to shed more light on the phenomenon.

The immediate example of that kind of thing that I'm aware of is the late comedian and writer Michael Bentine who claimed that gift/curse of seeing who was going to die...specifically, as I recall, during the second world war in the RAF. He would see a skull superimposed upon the face of the individual he was looking at. I'm sure a copy of his account should be easy enough to find online, I'll have a look.

Here you go: "In his autobiography, The Long Banana Skin, Bentine claimed whilst in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War he had visions through which he was able to tell whether his comrades would live or die. If he saw a skull super-imposed over their faces, he then knew they would not return from their next mission. Not the kind of talent to win friends and influence people, but certainly one to impress others with in later years, as he did when he recounted such tales on chat shows.

If it was all true, then it was most certainly a curse, as Bentine foresaw the death of his son, who was killed in a plane crash; and foresaw the death of his friend, the Tory politician, Airey Neave, who was blown-up by the IRA."

Yes, I can recall hearing something like that about Michael Bentine. What I'm wondering now is whether those soon-to-die aviators were subconsciously sending forth the message in exactly the same way that the soon-to-die individuals 'told' me. The information definitely came to me from them and not the other way around.

animals seem to have that may be a normal thing most of us are not tuned into.

Yes, I suspect you're right, Brian. One could say that animals are probably better at reading body language and, thereby, spotting weakness. But the thing that resides most clearly in my mind is the sense of acceptance the individuals transmitted to me, joy even, of what was happening - or, should I say, about to happen.

There was a distinct feeling of recognition and - for want of a better word - homeliness about it all.

Ps. And I'm also wondering whether the 'skull' superimposition was a reflection of the negative feelings the airmen had about the enforced, early (and unnecessary?) termination of their lives. But I think I might be getting ahead of myself here.

Julie - bear with me - I wonder if your experience wouldn't explain the Evil Eye, where many ancient and primitive cultures literally believed that a certain look could kill. It isn't the look that kills at all. It's really the observer sensing the imminent death of the observed and calling them on it.
The eyes truly can be a window of the soul, ask any unbiased detective or pair of lovers. The detective's gut instinct won't fly in court, and the lovers don't give a rats what anyone else thinks. They just know what they know.

As far as animals sensing the death of humans, remember Oscar the cat?

Every instinct tells me that you are wholly wrong in your 'evil eye' postulation. There is nothing in the experience I describe that is in any way sinister. In fact, quite the opposite.

Ah, no Julie, a sinister affect in your case was not what I was implying at all.
My point was that the Evil Eye is a perversion of a psychic-style perception of the immediate demise of someone. Spiritual insight and experiences have always been vulnerable to being twisted by individuals and institutions seeking power. Just look at history. This was not the situation with you.

To give a completely different example of my point, imagine a psychically gifted person sensing that someone was about to have a windfall of good fortune, he/she could inform them of it, or they could try to convince the client that he/she made it happen after the fact. It's all a matter of motive.

Your experiences had no motive, therefore I have no doubt that it was spiritually and evidentially pure. :)

That's the important aspect of the experience; the undeniable feeling that it's communication at the soul level - communication in a wholly different dimension, if you will. It feels as if everything else is a game; a game of as little consequence as tiddlywinks. I think that's the best way that I can describe it.

That aside, yes, I can see how one might get accused of witchcraft for revealing such insight. But what I'd really like to know is why me? Why do they tell me?

Ps. And it is a direct communication; not something picked up like, for instance, a look of shiftiness or guilt. It's a clear and personal message.

@Rabbitdawg I'm not sure that's what the evil eye is per se. My understanding is not that its a look that kills but rather that a glance or gaze of envy in particular, perhaps anger, can cause misfortune. I see your point....that people credited with possessing it are simply being noticed to have gazed oddly at the already doomed. But I have reason to wonder if it's not exactly what it says on the tin...some people, or all of us sometime, can unconsciously cause harm by their negative thoughts.

I know we're going off topic and I seem to be an endless repository of personal anecdotes for every psychic subject! But bear with me....

15 or 20 years ago I went to Melbourne, my host being a friend of a friend. Well nothing terrible happened but it immediately seemed like a bad idea, finding myself wandering around hte city on my own the first full day full of resentment, disappointment and self pity for various reasons I can barely recall. During the course of this solitary day lost in negative thoughts I slowly noticed the sheer number of times the same thing kept happening.

At the time I saw it as some mysterious power causing me to constantly be in the position or obliged to help people. But in fact the other way of looking at it is that people who stood next to or walked past me kept having accidents or misfortunes. It happened at least 6 or 7 times that I was aware of.

The tram into the city centre, I alight and the woman in front of me forgets her purse. I have to grab it and call after her. I get off the tram, cross the road and an elderly woman crossing in the opposite direction buckles and falls to the floor next to me, I have to help her up. I stop in MacDonalds and watch, unwittingly till it was over, another elderly woman get distracted and her bag stolen..I have to explain to staff what happened. By this time I'm aware of this badluck/help out pattern. Sitting on a bench waiting for the train or tram home and thinking about it when a small kid messing about falls down the gap between the bench I'm sitting on and the wall behind me. I have to pull him out. On the tram back to the house, just as I'm standing at the door ready to get off, the only other passenger by this point is a woman with a bag of groceries further down the length of the vehicle..her bag bursts and the apples come rolling to my feet. I have to pick them up.

Were all these things related to me giving off negative energy in my immediate vicinity by my negative or dark thoughts? and is that not the evil eye?

In Palermo, Sicily, last September (gosh, I'm well travelled. :P) We were involuntarily joined at our table on the street by a 10 or 12 year old bangladeshi urchin selling roses, who was the cutest funniest thing in the world..for 10 minutes. I was delighted by his cheeriness and cheek but he outstayed his welcome and was annoying my friends. Eventually I lost patience too and my smile dropped. I noticed him, perhaps not expecting a tourist to understand it, give me the horned finger gesture as he carried on smiling...a protection against the Evil Eye.

My understanding is that the horned finger gesture is of ancient Italian origin and that if the fingers are tilted upwards it is meant to ward off evil but if the fingers are tilted downwards towards the target then it is supposed to "curse" them.

So were you being cursed or contained, Lawrence? ;)

BTW, like you I begin to feel like "an endless repository of personal anecdotes for every psychic subject". But the truth is that I've had more psychic experiences that I can easily recount. They tend to return clearly to mind when others speak of related issues.

Ya weren't off topic at all Lawrence. The book is about paranormal/spiritual experiences of everyday people, and that's what has been discussed all the way through this comment thread.

I know what you mean about days having patterns, although what you describe sounds like you experience it as cause and affect. Sometimes days take on an eerily consistent pattern with me, but I experience them as something I don't control. I try to look at days like this objectively, but I can't, because it's such an subjective perception.

I know the difference between coincidental events like running into an unusual number of folks with blonde hair on the same day, and uncanny events like getting blocked by a train four times in the same day in different parts of the city. The train stoppage seems especially odd because I can go all year long without getting stopped once.
But there's no convincing other people of mundane synchronicities because they sound so...mundane. You had to be there.

Like Julie's personal and prescient eye contact, most paranormal/spiritual experiences are uniquely personal, with varying degrees of intensity. That's what makes them so hard to prove.
My mind-blowing experience with a medium had little to do with the accuracy of the data, it was the personal touch that grabbed me. Information can be gleaned in a number of ways, from cold reading techniques to the internet. But a privately shared pet name, or a personality-specific inflection of voice hits home deeply.

Telling other people about our experiences and perceptions doesn't prove anything to them, so we keep quiet. I'm hoping that books like Opening Heavens Door is a sign of a wider loosening of the social 'shame' barrier to discussion.

Doesn't that gesture mean 'cuckold' as well?

Sorry to lower the tone.

Still making my way through the book - it's a good read, gentle but there's a lot in it and I I like the structure. I'm enjoying it.

It does indeed mean cuckold, which is the insult/"curse" Julie referred to. But in the context of reacting to a suddenly disapproving glare I'll assume it was defensive!


I have just finished the book. I ought to start with a correction regarding indexing - although there isn't any indexing in the body of the book as far as I can see, there is a great deal in the "Notes" section and it's actually very easy to cross reference with the appropriate page. I didn't see this explained in the preface but I may have missed it.

Basically I think it's a great book. I don't think it will convince someone with a fixed idea that survival isn't possible, but then again I don't think it's really aimed in that direction. For everyone else I'd recommend it because a) there's a lot of interesting material in it and b) it is written (as someone else commented) in a very digestible way. It's a great book to have on the shelf and I think it could be equally easily read by someone recently bereaved or by those with a more academic interest in the subject of survival.

It isn't a textbook or a scientific treatise but it was for me a genuine pleasure to read. It is one I think I will read again from time to time and the references are useful for follow-up.

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