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The following words were spoken beyond the grave by Julia to her friend Ellen as part of a series of letters, Letters from Julia, channelled by W.T. Stead. Published for the first time by the Borderland magazine between 1893 and 1897, Julia’s letters were subsequently published in a single volume called After Death, Enlarged Edition on Letters from Julia, by Stead’s Publishing House, London, 1914.
While my hand was writing a letter to Ellen I thought, “I wonder if the new life
surprised Julia much.” Instantly she wrote –
Yes, I was not prepared for such oneness in the life on both sides.
When the soul leaves the body it remains exactly the same as when it was in the body;
the soul, which is the only real self, and which uses the mind and the body as its
instruments, no longer has the use or the need of the body. But it retains the mind, the
knowledge, the experience, the habits of thought, the inclinations; they remain exactly
as they were. Only it often happens that the gradual decay of the fleshy envelope to
some extent obscures and impairs the real self which is liberated by death. The most
extraordinary thing which came to my knowledge when I passed over was the
difference between the apparent man and the real self.
It gave quite a new meaning to the warning, “Judge not,” for the real self is built up
even more by the use it makes of the mind than by the use it makes of the body…
Thought has much greater reality than you imagine. The day-dreamer is not so idle as
you imagine. The influence of his idealizing speculation may not make him work, but it
may be felt imperceptibly by more practical minds. And so, in like manner, the man
who in his innermost heart gives himself up to evil and unclean thoughts may be
generating forces, the evil influences of which stir the passions and ruin the lives it may
be of his own children, who possibly never knew that their father had ever had a
thought of sin.
Hence on this side things seem so topsy-turvy. The first are last, the last first…
Then there is another thing that surprised me not a little, and that was or is the
discovery of the nothingness of things. I mean by that the entire nothingness of most
things which seemed to one on earth the most important of things. For instance,
money, rank, worth, merit, station, and all the things we most prize when on earth, are
simply nothing. They don’t exist anymore than the mist of yesterday or the weather of
last year. They were no doubt influential for a time, but they do not last; they pass as
the cloud passes, and are not visible anymore.
I want to ask you if you can help me at all in a matter in which I am much interested. I
have long wanted to establish a place where those who have passed over could
communicate with the loved ones behind. At present the world is full of spirits longing
to speak to those from whom they have been parted, just as I longed to speak to you,
but without finding a hand to enable them to write. It is a strange spectacle. On your
side, souls full of anguish for bereavement; on this side, souls full of sadness because
they cannot communicate with those whom they love. What can be done to bring these
sombre, sorrow-laden persons together? To do so requires something which we cannot
supply. You must help. But how? It is not impossible. And when it is done death will
have lost its sting and the grave its victory. The apostle thought this was done. But the
grave has not been so easily defeated, and death keeps its sting. Who can console us for
the loss of our beloved? Only those who can show us that they are not lost, but are with
us more than ever. Do you not think I have been much more with Ellen since I put off
my flesh than I used to be? Why, I dwell with her in a way that before was quite
impossible. I was never more with her than I have been since I came to this side. But
she would not have known it, nor would you have heard from me at all but for the
accident of your meeting.
What is wanted is a bureau of communication between the two sides. Could you not
establish some sort of office with one or more trust-worthy mediums ? If only it were to
enable the sorrowing on the earth to know, if only for once, that their so-called dead
live nearer them than ever before, it would help to dry many a tear and soothe many a
sorrow. I think you could count upon the eager co-operation of all on this side.
We on this side are full of joy at the hope of this coming to pass. Imagine how grieved
we must be to see so many whom we love, sorrowing without hope, when those for
whom they sorrow are trying in vain every means to make them conscious of their
presence. And many also are racked with agony, imagining that their loved ones are
lost in hell, when in reality they have been found in the all-embracing arms of the love
of God. Ellen, dear, do talk of this with Minerva, and see what can be done. It is the
most important thing there is to do. For it brings with it the trump of the Archangel,
when those that were in their graves shall awake and walk forth once more among men.
I was at first astonished to learn how much importance the spirits attach to the
communications which they are allowed to have with those on earth. I can, of course,
easily understand, because I feel it myself – the craving there is to speak to those whom
you loved and whom you love; but it is much more than this. What they tell me on all
sides, and especially my dear guides, is that the time is come when there is to be a great
awakening among the nations, and that the agency which is to bring this about is the
sudden and conclusive demonstration, in every individual case which seeks for it, of the
reality of the spirit, of the permanence of the soul, and the immanence of the Divine. I
said: “But how can I help?”
She wrote: “You are a good writing medium. If you would allow your hand to be used
by the spirit of any on this side whose relatives or friends wished to hear from them,
you could depend almost confidently upon the spirit using your hand. At any rate, I
could always explain why they could not use your hand.”
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In 1892, William Stead discovered he had the gift of automatic writing and it was then that a discarnate entity claiming to be Julia Ames began to write using Stead’s hand. “Sitting alone with a tranquil mind, I consciously placed my right hand, with the pen held in the ordinary way, at the disposal of Julia, and watched with keen and skeptical interest to see what it would write.” Stead wrote at the time.
Julia Ames was a professional journalist who also edited the The Woman’s Union Signal of Chicago. Ames had passed away during December 1891 and she and Stead had been friends. Her closest friend was a woman named Ellen who Stead also knew. Julia told Stead she wanted to relay her experiences from the ‘other side’ so as to help Ellen understand that death, far from being the end, was an event to be worked toward and that although her body had died ‘she’ hadn’t really died at all. Explaining the process of her death Julia wrote; “I did not feel any pain in “dying;” I felt only a great calm and peace. Then I awoke, and I was standing outside my old body, in the room. There was no one there at first, just myself and just myself. At first I wondered I was so strangely well. Then I saw that I had passed over. She added in another communication, “There is no death… Death is only a sense of deprivation and separation which the so-called living feel – an incident of limitation of ‘life.’ Death only exists for the ‘living,’ not for us.”
The letters were dictated during a period between 1892 and 1893 and during this time Julia asked Stead to set up a ‘Bureau’ — a sort of facility where, with the use of mediums, spiritual communications between the living and the spirit world could take place. Julia expressed great importance in our knowing more about our true reality stating; “you may think it strange that the verification of another life should increase the importance of this. But such is the fact, and you can never understand the importance of your life until you see it from this side. You are never, for one moment, idle from influencing eternity. You may think this a figure of speech.
But it is not. You are, far more really than you imagine, making this world of ours in that world of yours.”
The content of the letters included the law of spiritual growth, the mourning of the ‘dead’, life on the other side, and numerous other subjects she felt those living in the physical should be aware of before passing over.
In1893 Stead launched a publication called Borderland, a quarterly psychic magazine that ran until 1897, in which the “Letters from Julia” were published for the first time. The book containing the letters entitled After Death was published in 1905 and was great success with many copies being sold in the UK and the USA.
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