May 6, 2005
Communicating With the Dead: Reach Beyond the Grave
By Jeff Belanger
Publisher: New Page Books (April 2005)
Pages: 251 - Price: $15.99
Interview by Lee Prosser - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghostvillage.com author interview
An honest researcher, you always aim for the high road, and that is the trait of a first-rate writer. Let me ask you: What do you see as the future for writers researching communication with the dead?
Anyone researching spirit communication must acknowledge that truth and spirituality are individual in nature. No two people can have an identical sense of spirituality, and one personís truth is another personís fiction. I believe spirit communication is possible not because I myself have had a profound contact with what I believe was the ďother side,Ē but because I have spoken with people who believe with their every fiber that they have made meaningful contact. Whether they truly did or not is impossible for me to prove and is actually irrelevant, because for the witness, the experience was real and life-changing. Because this event seems to be happening to so many, researchers must understand that there is a genuine phenomena occurring and to even remotely understand it, we must break the subject down to the individual level.
Can one ever be totally cognizant about encounters of a ghostly nature, or does an element of the surreal cloud some aspects when it comes to detailing an actual encounter? Does not each encounter require a different mental approach, since all ghosts are not the same and have different communication needs with the living?
In researching the supernatural, I have found very little that is ďblack and white.Ē For example, I can recall a few dreams Iíve had about my grandfather since he passed away several years ago. In these dreams, we donít speak, but he smiles at me with such warmth and love that I wake up feeling very emotional Ė like I just got a hug from this great man whom I miss so much. Was that a ghost encounter? Some would say definitely. For me, Iím not sure, but that doesnít take away from the profound nature of the experience. Youíre definitely correct that not only is each person different, but so is each experience. One mistake I think paranormal researchers can make is to assume theyíve heard it all before. No one has in this field of study. We receive evidence of the supernatural every day. My dream may be an example of evidence Ė how much evidence is required to become proof is up to each individual. For me, I think Iíll need to be tapped on the shoulder and told, ďHello, Iím a spirit from the other side and Iím here to tell you to stop doubting.Ē
Do you find more people coming to your work and recognizing it?
I work very hard at remaining objective when approaching any topic I write about. I never judge the content or the witnesses, and Iíve been told over the years that the approach is appreciated. I canít imagine doing this research any other way than to explore all sides with an open mind. I would hope that all of my readers can have their own ideas on these subjects challenged, gain a new perspective, and then ultimately decide for themselves what to believe and what to dismiss. If that approach keeps someone coming back to my work, then Iím blessed.
What is the effect you hope to have on readers of your writings?
With Communicating With the Dead, I want to challenge my readersí ideas as to what spirit communication is all about. For example, some people in this field believe the Ouija board is an evil tool, but I donít think they know why they feel that way other than they were told so. I would never tell someone not to believe the device is evil, but at least understand its real history before passing judgment.
Were you at times overcome with the numerous avenues of investigation open on the Ouija board and tarot cards? There always seems to be so much information out there floating about! Your index and bibliography is superb!
My chapter on tarot cards was definitely one of the most difficult to write. With so many different decks, over five hundred years of history, and so many esoteric uses of the deck, pinning the story down was certainly a challenge. I intentionally avoided covering how to interpret the cards and spreads Ė there are many books written on that subject and entire books are definitely needed! Instead, I focused on the true history of the cards, who is using them and how are they using them today, and who is creating them.
Your chapter on Thomas Edison was fascinating and highly revealing. Why was the element of supernatural interest in Edison's personal life downplayed by those in power?
Edison was a true inventor and person of science. He wasnít formally educated -- he simply saw challenges and tried to solve them. As a child, he didnít understand how the telegraph worked, so he picked the device apart until he did. As many know, Edison had over 1,000 patents to his name by the time he died. He saw problems and applied himself to understand them. Edison brought the same approach to spirit communication. His gift was that he didnít care what people thought of his pursuit, and he was ready to accept any outcome of his experiments into spirit communication. I believe if Edison found the task impossible, he would have moved on without any hesitation. I also think he wouldnít be surprised if he did make contact. That was Edisonís approach to everything he studied. In the 1920s and Ď30s, a scientist who was interested in Spiritualist studies was certainly not fashionable. After Edisonís death in 1931, his peers and some in his family viewed his research into spirit communication as a blemish on an otherwise fantastic life of achievement. I disagree. I think Edisonís many experiments in the field showed him to be a true man of science willing to explore any territory no matter how uncharted or unpopular.
Dowsing is a chapter that has many delightful insights into this unique form of finding water. What attracted you to this subject most?
What surprised me about dowsing was not so much finding water. I had known about dowsing for finding water since childhood Ė I never thought the practice was even remotely esoteric. What surprised me was how many other ways people are using dowsing, from searching for gold, oil, or minerals, to ďghost hunting.Ē Dowsers are looking for anything they focus their intent on. In my own experiments with dowsing using the L-rods, I can tell you that the rods did react when I was looking for detrimental energies around my computer monitor. Spirit communication devices are a lot like a musical instrument. Anyone can push the keys on a piano, and anyone can pick up dowsing rods. But the specific instrument/device speaks to some individuals more than others.
I think anybody who reads your book will come away no longer a skeptic about the subject matter. What are your thoughts on this?
I never set out to convince anyone of anything. My goal was to present the facts and as many sides of each spiritual question as possible. If someone is willing to open themselves up to the possibility of spirit communication, and then conduct their own foray into the idea, I believe they will get results. Proof always has to come from within.
The interviews in your book are well-conceived. Each one seemed straight-forward and the person being interviewed seemed willing to share thoughts freely and honestly. Were the interviews as much fun to do as they come across in the book? I found all of them fine reading and enjoyed Edain McCoy's interview, among many.
I have a deep admiration for anyone who studies and explores spiritual matters. I was fortunate to have many productive and intriguing conversations with some of the leading experts on this subject. I tried to bring the reader into those conversations.
In your book you discuss a lot of audio and visual clips of reported spirit contact. Obviously those things can't be included in a book. How can people see and hear those clips so they can judge for themselves?
I'm definitely a show-me person, so I knew it was important for people to be able to experience every piece of audio and visual evidence I discussed. I built a Web site to act as a companion to the book so readers can experience the kinds of things I discuss for themselves. The Web site is: www.ghostvillage.com/spiritcommunication.
What is next for you? And here comes the trick question: Why that? What can you share with us on your next project concerning hauntings and haunted places?
My next project comes out this August and involves a lot of paranormal investigators and a lot of haunted places from all over the world. Maybe some haunts from your own backyard!
What is unique about you is your ability to share information with the reader in an entertaining fashion, honestly, and with a loving dose of vim & vigor! Was this caused by something in your childhood?
Iím a Leo and an entertainer at heart. Though spirit communication is a serious topic, and I do take it seriously, I still have fun with it as I do with anything Iím doing. Itís important not to take ourselves too seriously.
Thank you for the interview. Is there anything you wish to share in conclusion with the reader?
Thank you, Lee! My hope for everyone is that they recognize the individual nature of spirituality and pursue their own spiritual answers with vigor. And by all means, let me know what you find -- Iíd love to hear about it.
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