Afterdeath communication

From “The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher, The World View of William James”, by Jane Roberts - and thanks to Rob Butts & Laurel Davies, et al

Wednesday afternoon
March 9, 1977

Communications between the living and the dead must always be translations at best; we cannot directly intrude. The knowledge, experience and insights of the dead are everywhere available, for they are part of the ever-changing lines of consciousness that crisscross the universe. There are, of course, divisions and here I must again use analogies that are familiar to t you in that my main lines of communication are “above” your own mental atmosphere – not implying superiority on my part, but suggesting the separation necessary. So there is a “distance” to be crossed in such communications; one that makes direct apparitions most unlikely.

Such appearances are more like projected images, of transitory nature that cannot “take” in space-time for long – mental traces not filled in with consciousness or flesh – but outlining spatial patterns in response to a communicator who naturally exists in a different kind of psychological medium.

That kind of encounter is difficult for the communicator, for he must adopt a smaller personage or identity than the fuller one he accepts after death, and squeeze himself into a personal context too small, relating to the living in ways familiar to them, but which he has outgrown. Not that love is outgrown, only the small context in which it is experienced, and the details often sought out after by the bereaved relatives have lost their sharpness for the dead, while the patterns of the relationships have been experienced in deeper ways than the living can understand.

The dead can grow impatient in such cases, and thus may prefer informal dream encounters in which the living do not clutter the mental air with requests for proofs and details that are, to the dead, beside the point and a waste of opportunity. For certain conditions must occur before even dream encounters can happen, and the dead are usually satisfied with a less direct but also less troublesome communication. This is often accomplished by the maintenance of a general, distant, but lively concern and by mental messages of comfort, support, or inspiration sent anonymously, usually delivered exactly when the recipient expects it least, in sleep or when the mind is otherwise occupied. Otherwise the startling effect of such encounters often blots out the message, overstates it, or distorts it in one way or another.

The dead still love those they loved in life, but they understand the emotion far better than they did before, and in a way again too difficult to express, they do not miss the living. They do not feel absent from the living, only present in an entirely different fashion than the living can fathom. In this, of course, they have the advantage and it is to relieve the loneliness of the living that the dead communicate, even while knowing that such communications themselves can make the living only more anxious.

The dead in their way are jealous of their freedom, and sometimes their communications take the form of hasty, “Yes, I’m all right” messages, shouted over a mental shoulder. Some people forget to send letters when they travel, caught up as they are in new experiences. Similarly, the dead are so involved in their own adventures that sometimes they ignore the nagging of the living of the living, whose thoughts rise up like mental kites with reminders, saying, “Why haven’t you written?”

And the adventures of the dead can be quite concentrated. After death, for example, I learned tricks of perception that I now take for granted. I can experience any season of my life in an expanded fashion, using a heightened memory that actively recreates events, giving me an awareness of an event as I once experienced it – but expanded to include all of those personal details that escaped me at the time, the subconsciously perceived events that couched the physical one. Or I can telescope the same season, experiencing, say, one given autumn which suddenly becomes a point of action in which the actions of in all of my other experienced autumns are contained. These perceptive “tricks” apply only to private events, not to world history.

My position, if that word will do to describe my present psychological stance, is the result of my own interests, idiosyncrasies, and tendencies. In your terms I am still scholarly, given to my studies, where others for example are concerned with emotional relationships and would be involved in different kinds of encounters both within their own environment and yours.


What an amazing passage, I love his somewhat 19th century description of his new abilities. To elaborate on the first part…the difficulty of translation…I believe he employs an analogy elsewhere of the medium climbing up a ladder from a high peak in a storm, and the dead climbing down ladders or ropes from the clouds. At the point where they meet there is communication. The stormy atmosphere in the analogy communicates the unavoidable distortion. Just recall yelling across a field to a friend on a windy day…what did he say again?!? :slight_smile: