In the last W.P. I mentioned that all living human beings had an invisible sheath, or aureole, surrounding them. In this number, I should like to quote from the book by George Ritchie, entitled “Return from Tomorrow”. 1978. Kingsway Publications. In 1943 Ritchie was serving in the army as a young man, and at Christmas time he died of double lobar pneumonia. But nine minutes later, armed with an unforgettable experience of eternity, he returned from the dead. He had walked and talked with Jesus through a series of teaching experiences, some of which were terrifying, others enthralling. In 1978, as a practising psychiatrist, he finally, and somewhat reluctantly, put pen to paper to tell the world of his adventure during those nine minutes. The following extract relates specifically to his experience in a bar, where he witnessed the opening of the sheath.
“Gradually I began to notice something else. All of the living people we were watching were surrounded by a faint luminous glow, almost like an electrical field over the surface of their bodies This luminosity moved as they moved, like a second skin made out of pale, scarcely visible light.
At first I thought it must be reflected brightness from the Person at my side. But the buildings we entered gave off no reflection, neither did inanimate objects. And then I realized that the non-physical beings didn’t either. My own unsolid body, I now saw, was without this glowing sheath.
At this point the Light drew me inside a dingy bar and grill near what looked like a large naval base. A crowd of people, many of them sailors, lined the bar three deep, while others jammed wooden booths along the wall. Though a few were drinking beer, most of them seemed to be belting whiskies as fast as the two perspiring bartenders could pour them.
Then I noticed a striking thing. A number of the men standing at the bar seemed unable to lift their drinks to their lips. Over and over I watched them clutch at their shot glasses, hands passing through the solid tumblers, through the heavy wooden counter top, through the very arms and bodies of the drinkers around them.
And these men, every one of them, lacked the aureole of light that surrounded the others.
Then, the cocoon of light must be a property of physical bodies only. The dead, we who had lost our solidness, had lost this “second skin” as well. And it was obvious that these living people, the light-surrounded ones, the ones actually drinking, talking, jostling each other, could neither see the desperately thirsty disembodied beings among them, nor feel their frantic pushing to get at those glasses. (Though it was also clear to me, watching, that the non-solid people could both see and hear each other. Furious quarrels were constantly breaking out among them over glasses that none could actually get to his lips.)
I thought I had seen heavy drinking at fraternity parties in Richmond but the way civilians and servicemen at this bar were going at it beat everything. I watched one young sailor rise unsteadily from a stool, take two or three steps, and sag heavily to the floor. Two of his buddies stooped down and started dragging him away from the crush.
But that was not what I was looking at. I was staring in amazement as the bright cocoon around the unconscious sailor simply opened up. It parted at the very crown of his head and began peeling away from his head, his shoulders. Instantly, quicker than I’d ever seen anyone move, one of the insubstantial beings that had been standing near him at the bar was on top of him. He had been hovering like a thirsty shadow at the sailor’s side, greedily following every swallow the young man made. Now he seemed to spring at him like a beast of prey
In the next instant, to my utter mystification, the springing figure had vanished. It all happened even before the two men had dragged their unconscious load from under the feet of those at the bar. One minute I’d distinctly seen two individuals; by the time they propped the sailor against the wall, there was only one.
Twice more, as I stared, stupefied, the identical scene was repeated. A man passed out, a crack swiftly opened in the aureole round him, one of the non-solid people vanished as he hurled himself at that opening, almost as if he had scrambled inside the other man.
Was that covering of light some kind of shield, then? Was it a protection against . . against disembodied beings like myself? Presumably these substance-less creatures had once had solid bodies, as I myself had had. Suppose that when they had been in these bodies they had developed a dependence on alcohol that went beyond the physical. That became mental.Spiritual, even. Then when they lost that body, except when they could briefly take possession of another one, they would be cut off . . . from the thing they could never stop craving.”
The impact of this account will be left to my readers. In the next bulletin I’ll take the study one step further, because Ritchie’s experience was not the only case on record. There is no way in which the experiences Ritchie had could be attributed to hallucination (which dead people don’t have) or the influence of drugs. Therefore the facts must be faced, and an understanding gained, rather than brushing the whole thing under the carpet because it doesn’t fit some preconceived theology.