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War Letters From A Living Dead Man
(Mr. "X" is David Patterson Hatch 1846-1912, a former judge)




The Return of "X"
II. A Dweller on the Threshold
III. An Assurance
IV. The Way of Understanding
V. Astral Monsters
VI. The Archduke
VII. The "Chosen People"
VIII. Spectres of the Congo
IX. Unseen Guardians
X. One Day as a Thousand Years
XI. Many Tongues
XII. The Beautiful Being
XIII. The Body of Humanity
XIV. The Foeman Within
XV. Listening in Brussels
XVI. The Sixth Race
XVII. An American on Guard
XVIII. A Master of Compassion
XIX. The Rose-Veiled Stranger
XX. Above the Battlefields
XXI. A Soul in Purgatory
XXII. Peace Propaganda
XXIII. The Mystery of Desire
XXIV. The Scales of Justice
XXV. For Love's Sake
XXVI. A Master of Mind
XXVII. Invisible Enemies
XXVIII. The Glory of War
XXIX. A Friend of "X"
XXX. The Rose and the Cross
XXXI. A Serbian Magician
XXXII. Judas and Typhon
XXXIII. Crowns of Straw
XXXIV. The Sylph and the Father
XXXV. Behind the Dark Veil
XXXVI. The "Lusitania"
XXXVII. Veiled Prophecies
XXXVIII. Advice to a Scribe
XXXIX. One of These Little Ones
XL. The Height and the Depth
XLI. A Conclave of Masters
XLII. A Lesson in the Kabala
XLIII. The Second Coming
XLIV. Poison Gases
XLV. The Superman
XLVI. The Entering Wedge
XLVII. The New Brotherhood
XLVIII. In the Crucible
XLIX. Black Magic in America
L. Things to Remember





            In the spring of 1914 there was published in London and New York a book of mine called “Letters From a Living Dead Man,” being automatic writings from an American Judge and teacher of philosophy who had been known to his intimate friends as “X.”
            There were circumstances connected with the writing of that book, explained in some detail in the Introduction, which made any other hypothesis than that of genuine communication from the other world seem untenable to me. It began, for instance, some days before I knew in Paris that my friend had died on the Pacific coast of America.
            In that first book of “X” I did not state who the writer was, not feeling at liberty to do so without the consent of his family; but in the summer of 1914, while I was still living in Europe, a long interview with Mr. Bruce Hatch appeared in the New York Sunday World, in which he expressed the conviction that the “Letters” were genuine communication from his father, the late Judge David P. Hatch, of Los Angeles, California.

            For the benefit of those who have not read the former book, I wish to say that “X” was not an ordinary man. He came nearer than any other Occidental of my acquaintance to the mastery of self and life which has been called Adeptship.
            After the “Letters” were finished in 1913, during a period of about two years I was conscious of the presence of “X” only on two or three occasions, when he wrote some brief advice in regard to my personal affairs.
            On the fourth of February, 1915, in New York, I was suddenly made aware one day that “X” stood in the room and wished to write; but as always before, with one or two exceptions, I had not the remotest idea of what he was going to say. He wrote as follows:

            “When I come back and tell you the story of this war, as seen from the other side, you will know more than all the Chancelleries of the nations.” 

            This letter I confided to two friends who had been much interested in the former book, Mr. and Mrs. Vance Thompson; and it was arranged, with the cordial consent of “X,” that they should sit with me about once a week, to make a better “focus.” Their loyal faith was a great support to me during the first half of a trying labor.
            The writing was not confined to the days when we three sat together; but about a third of the first half of the book was written in the presence and in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Thompson. Then they went to California, and I continued the work alone.
            It may be of interest to some readers if I describe the process of this writing, which has changed gradually from a violent and mechanical seizure of the hand from the outside, as in the beginning of the first book, to a quiet impression on the mind within.
            If the reader will imagine a well-known friend of vivid personality present with him, then subtract from that impression the seeing of the physical eye, leaving only the subtle vibration of the actual thinking and feeling presence, then add the indescribable “inner sight,” he may begin to realise how I know that “X” is in the room.

            It is probable that Helen Keller knows when her friends are near her, and can tell one from the other, though she is deaf and blind.
            When made aware of the presence of “X,” I take a pencil and a notebook, as any other amanuensis would, and by an effort of will, now easy from long practice, I still the activity of my objective mind, until there is no thought or shadow of a thought in it. Then into the brain itself come the words, which flow out without conscious effort at the point of the pencil. It is exactly as if I heard the dictation with a single auditory instrument, like a small and very sensitive sphere, in the centre of the brain.
            I never know at the beginning of a sentence how it will end. I never know whether the sentence I am writing will be the last or if two thousand words will follow it. I simply write on, in a state of voluntary negativity, until the impression of personality described above leaves suddenly. Then no more words come. The writing is at an end for that time.

            The question will naturally arise in the mind of the skeptical reader (it has in mine), whether my own subconscious mind has not itself dictated the following “War Letters from the Living Dead Man,” in the attempt to explain a world tragedy which would have seemed impossible two years ago.
            But from my long experience in writing for “X,” and from the fact that during two years I had not written for him except on two or three unimportant occasions, though often thinking of him, and from my acquired habit of minute observation of supernormal phenomena, I now feel safe in assuming that I know the difference between the actual presence of “X” and my own imagination of him, my reminiscence of him, or even the suggestion of his presence from another’s mind.
            No person who had had even a minute fraction of my occult experience could be more coldly critical of that experience than I am. I freely welcome every logical argument against the belief that these letters are what they purport to be; but placing these arguments in opposition to the evidence which I have of the genuineness of them, the affirmations outweigh the denials, and I accept them.

            This evidence is too complex and much of it too personal to be even outlined here; but the Letter XXXVI, written one hour after the sinking of the Lusitania and nine hours before I knew of it, is merely one incident out of dozens. Also it may be considered at least an interesting coincidence that at the very time I began writing this book, three occult students, in different countries, wrote me that they felt that “X” had come back and would write again through my hand. Since then several other persons have so expressed themselves by word or pen.
            Many of the events of this war I myself have seen “astrally” at the time of their occurrence. I was a wide-awake astral participant in the first action in which the British army was engaged on the Continent, and related the experience to a British officer in England before it was reported there, my narrative being verified the following day by a French newspaper brought over from Paris by a friend.

            I saw in New York the shelling of Scarborough at the hour when it occurred, and related the incident to a friend some hours before it was reported in the newspapers; though I did not know the name of the English coast town where I had seen the assault.
            Nevertheless, I cannot read what is in the mind of “X” even when I am conscious that he is actually present in the room. I know only what he dictates, and have no idea how much or how little he knows. He has stated in one of the letters that he should tell me only what his judgment approved from time to time.
            There is one point where I myself do not quite follow “X.” Sometimes when he says that the German people are so and so, had I been writing I should have said the Prussians. I have many German friends, and I cannot hold them individually accountable for the awful conditions into which their government has plunged the world.
            I must emphasize that I do not assume personal responsibility for what “X” writes, but merely record his words.
            It did not occur to me until several days after his last letter was written, on July 28th, that he had finished the war book exactly one year from the date of the first declaration of war, that of Austria against Serbia, and on the very day when the Pope sent out his great appeal for peace.

            In his former writing, which began more than three years ago, “X” requested that I should never summon him, and later advised me not to ask questions. I have therefore generally refrained from doing either; though the temptation has often been great to ask him as to the final issue of this war by which I have been so profoundly affected. But I knew that such questioning might stimulate the action of my own objective mind and becloud my receptivity. I have recently shrunk from seeking for such answers even in my hypnogogic visions, lest I should see something which would make me less negative in the reception of these letters.
            This situation seems to have cured me forever of curiosity; it has made me feel detached as a comet and almost as lonely, and strong enough to be willing to remain so. But, by a strange paradox, as my hatred for the brutalities of this war grew deeper and deeper, my love for all those struggling human souls in every camp grew with it, until I came to feel that each one of all those millions who died and suffered on those battlefields was my brother and my friend. Love is a miracle that touches the brutal facts of life and makes them divine.

            In the third letter of this book, dated March 10th, “X” said that the forces of good had overpowered the forces of evil and that peace would return to the world—though he did not say when. Before I learned of the Lusitania sinking, but one hour after it had actually taken place, he wrote that the demons whom the workers out there had driven back had rallied and returned to the assault, and that he ought to have known that the very Law of Rhythm would drive them forward again after they had generated another supply of energy.
            In the light of rhythmic law, that letter is to me the most interesting part of the book. It illustrates what he has said so often, that even the “living dead” do not know everything, and that the reason why they know so much more than we do is because they have a wider vision and a greater fund of data on which to base their conclusions.
            In regard to that second onslaught of the powers of darkness, it is perhaps significant that the letter describing his first conversation with the “dark-veiled one” was written next before the Lusitania letter.

            Aside from his narrative, two major ideas seem to dominate “X” in this writing: the mystery of good and evil (love and hate), and the brotherhood of man.
            Through his soul-changing exposition of the conflict between good and evil, both in the human heart and in the universe, a man might learn to protect himself against his own evil as well as the evil outside him.
            In pursuit of this end “X” has revealed certain mysteries to which the attention of the common man has not heretofore been effectively called.
            That there is an “astral world” permeating and extending beyond the world of dense matter has been stated in Theosophical and other literature; “X” makes his readers realize the fact. The astral world is said to be the world of feeling and desire; and it is through a man’s astral, feeling or desire body, made of a tenuous kind of matter invisible to untrained eyes, that he connects with and functions in that world.

            Within and beyond this again is said to be the thought world, and the theory is that man has also a thought body through which he contacts with and functions in it. And so on, plane after plane, till man reaches the formless and universal, in other words pure divinity.
            The evil astral beings described by “X” are beings dwelling in the astral world. Some of them have no physical bodies in the material world; others are the more or less independent astral selves of men, which during sleep go here and there in the world invisible to our open eyes. They have been active in this war.
            There are also said to be beings of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, who are evolving along a line different from that of man. Some of these are amiable, some are malicious. Much information about these elementals can be found in the writings of Paracelcus. They also have been active in this war.

            Other and superior beings work on all three planes, physical, astral and mental, and in still higher worlds beyond our cognizance. But for the beneficent activity of some of these, mankind would destroy itself or be destroyed.
            “X” says that the feelings of hatred and the sufferings engendered by the great war have made the astral world at this time a very unpleasant place of sojourn. The purgatory of the Roman Catholics is the same thing as the place of post-mortem trial described by “X”. The Church has great knowledge.
            Good and evil may be called opposite and complementary forces, one working in harmony with the Law of the Universe (otherwise called the will of God), the other working disharmoniously with the Law.
            Some readers may be shocked by what “X” says of black magic. He is not writing to shock them, but to protect and instruct them. Superstition has been called the dark side of religion; but superstition is to be understood, not dismissed with the lifting of superior eyebrows. All things are to be understood. The great psychologists, scientists, do not now consider these subjects beneath their investigation. Refer to Professor William James, to Sir Oliver Lodge, to Dr. Baraduc. The names of recognized scientists who are now investigating occult phenomena would fill a small directory. When I admit that I am seeking to chart the unseen world, I am modestly enrolling myself in good company.

            “X” speaks of the “dark-veiled one” who inspired Nietzsche in the misleading of young Germany. Perhaps behind every powerful man or woman whose work has told in the world there has been an invisible one, either light or dark-veiled. The question is not without interest, both practical and theoretical. Inspiration, like magic, may be either black or white.
            The “voices” of Jeanne d’Arc would in our day be called clairaudient phenomena. History declares that they rendered her more, not less, efficient as the saviour of France. Martin Luther threw his ink-pot at “the devil”; but the Reformation was no less ably engineered because Luther had visions. Saul of Tarsus also had a vision, if we may credit the reporters.
            “X” speaks of his own Teacher, a “Master.” When I compare the California Judge whom I knew with most of the men and women with whom I prattle about commonplaces, I do not find it difficult to admit the possibility that man may progress even further than “X,” given the resolution so to do. If “X” became what he was in a little less than seventy years, there is hope for us who look forward to eternity.

            The second major idea of these “War Letters” seems to be the brotherhood of man.
            The world has progressed thus far through a series of well-marked periods, and by means of a series of predominant races which stamped their time with their own peculiar color. “X” says that a new race, the Sixth Race so-called, is about to arise now in the United States.

            If America would accept this idea as a working hypothesis—not another “Deutschland über Alles,” but say “America for (not over) all”—she might build a peace-machine as Germany has built a war-machine. If she should go about it with the same thoroughness, postulating the ideal brotherhood as Germany has postulated world-dominion, she might make a demonstration in the next generation. In the mixture of races in America she has all the materials for any kind of spiritual experiment. Asia and Europe would look on with interest. England, Germany, and France, even Japan who is spiritual underneath and material only on the surface, perhaps Russia above all, would respect such an avowed purpose. It may be that the world will have suffered enough by the end of this war to be ready to welcome universal brotherhood.

            Already there are movements in America which would gladly fall into line. “X” speaks of the Woodcraft movement, a loosely organized body of perhaps a hundred thousand men and boys and a few women, who in their playtime have gone back to Nature and the campfire for that fraternity which cities do not give.
            “X” says that he has another service to perform in the future. I do not know what that service is, nor whether I have any part in it; but if he should one day declare to me that it was in connection with the Woodcraft purpose, I should not be surprised.
            But after living for months with this war book, I cannot yet see it in perspective nor gauge its value. I give it to the world because it seems to belong to the world, and because among the thousand letters which I have received from the readers of “Letters From a Living Dead Man,” so many have asked for further writings of “X.” The first book is now being translated into four European languages, and other translations have been offered.

            I want to thank all those persons in many countries who have written me so kindly about the book. It was more for them than for myself that I embraced the offered opportunity to hear what “X” had to say about the Great War. To receive genuine communications from the other world (assuming as I must that such communication is possible) involves sacrifice on the part of the amanuensis, even in the protected quiet of a country home. To do it in a great rushing city like New York, amidst the distractions of a complex social life, and during a war like this by whose horrors the “sensitive” is especially buffeted, and in a clashing pro-German pro-Allies environment, has been an education in self-control.

            But the war cannot last forever, and some day joy will come back to the world.

New York, Sept., 1915.      Elsa Barker.



Letter I. The Return of "X"