Stead’s Folly

WT Stead

Socialist reformer W.T. Stead was fascinated by spiritualism and psychic phenomena, so much so that when a medium told him he must not, under any circumstances, travel by sea, he went and booked passage aboard an ocean liner for her maiden voyage.

He died aboard the Titanic, April 15, 1912.



Mario Bocca could speak with the dead. Or, at least, so he claimed. The Italian researchers who gathered around him on a night in 1950, in the small city of Camerino, Italy, wanted to verify, for themselves, if that were indeed true.

Sometimes, of course, the dead do not rest easy. Something draws them back, again and again, to the scene of their tragic, final act, the time when they, quite literally, “gave up the ghost.”

In this case, however, the ghost never gave up.

“My name is Rosa Spadoni. I was put into my casket alive! Please, so that others can be spared this terrible fate, please, DIG UP MY BODY AS PROOF.”

The medium, presumably through his “control,” vocalized the desire of the departed Rosa. Attendant was the intrigued doctor, Dr. Guiseppe Stoppolini, a distinguished professor of anatomy at Camerino University. Under his direction, it was a short order of work to demand the exhumation. The problem being: they could find no “Rosa Spadoni” in the town of Castel-Raimondo, where the spirit had purported to have died and been interred.

Further communications revealed, of course that she was buried under her married name of MENICHELLI, and had been so buried on September 4th, 1939, after apparently dying of an infection. She was 38.

It was grim work, exhuming the body. But, how much more macabre could the condition of the corpse have been, when the lid of the casket was finally opened?

Imagine the terror of being trapped in the dark, coming to consciousness, being unable to turn over, and putting your arms out to feel a hard, unyielding surface of solid wood. Screaming!–but there is NO ONE to hear your screams.

You writhe in terror, your mind cracking, knowing that you have been delivered into a trap from which there is NO escape–that you have quite literally been BURIED ALIVE. Perhaps you gnashed your teeth, bit through your tongue. The blackness was pervasive and all-encompassing. In the darkness and despair, you might have hallucinated the face of your own dear mother. Or Jesus. A saint, an angel, or Lucifer himself might come to greet you! It is hot, stifling, and the air is getting thinner and thinner…

Breathe in, breathe out…not many breaths left.
The condition of the body proved that, like Poe’s sister character in “House of Usher,” Rosa Spadoni Menichelli did, indeed, show signs of having been interred too soon. Her spine was arched in agony, her skeletal hand affixed to the lid of her coffin, as if in a hopeless attempt to push it open. She might have prayed for a miracle at this point, but, most probably, she just went mad until the oxygen ran out.

A general reform in burial practices across Italy and all of Europe are said to have followed in the wake of this strange, supernatural event. If so, we find no record of association, between one and the other.

So, did this prove the power of the medium, and survival after death? YOU DECIDE.

Mind Power (Excerpt 3)

Believe It, See It, Feel It, Touch It, Taste It

Sense the power all around you., the flickering spark within. Do you never consider the one miraculous fact of your own existence? Alive, vital, and able to cast the heavy burden of your thoughts upon the rippling water of time. Out of the millions of shifting possibilities, reality gathered itself together, woven together like a fabulous quilt, to fabricate the divine patchwork that is YOU. Incarnate in this earthly vessel, you are adrift upon a vast, churning ocean of possibility. Anchored in the Here and Now, but ETERNAL. Your soul Journeying the far journey through dimensional space and limitless Time.

You may find yourself encumbered by physical existence–but this is false. Only the illusion of encumbrance enfolds you — the free man realizes he is driving the chariot. Only a fool or a wastrel lets the chariot drive HIM. Hence, yielding to physical temptation or addiction is illogical, as the mind is the master of the physical vehicle which contains it.

Possessions will not in any wise fulfil whatever deep and internal longing you happen to have. The possession itself is fine, the having of it is fine, but finally it will fade in importance as your awareness is fixed further and further afield.

A truly wise man looks only to tomorrow as his greatest possession–the sun rises, the sun sets, like a blinking eye, and, in a twinkling of that pure and ravishing orb of all-sightedness, a year and then a decade is gone. How will you define your being in that space of time? How will the secret, deepest desires at the core of you, define that being? Will the sun smile upon you? Will time, like a gurgling brook, pass at your feet, laughing merrily to see you tripped along the path of your progress? What does the soul seek to understand? Can you reflect back, like the polished surface of glass, an image of you–pure, resolute, fulfilled, wholey and completely made in the image of God?

Remember: You are what is SEEING, and what is SEEN, the Infinite and the Mundane.

Personality chained to a fragment of dust, floating, floating in the sphere of Time. And this emanation of you, this ensouled self-aware monad, this individuality that contains, like a blossoming flower, all possibilities and infintte truths–this self-same YOU will continue to transmit the same signal it is receiving. Because, in an infinite arc of self, we are both the sender AND the receiver mechanism–the Seer and the Seen.

You have been made manifest in the corporeal reality of materialistic entropy. Born, as it were, to grow old (in a sense of linear time), to experience the recurrence of birth, cycle of entropy and decline, putrefaction, and finally, Phoenix-like, to be reborn into a new, “redacted” state; free, to borrow an allegory from Ben Franklin, from niggling “errata.”

The deep. liminal spaces of your cerebral cortex are alive with electrical points, power grids of inifinte wonder and neural pathways that send, receive messages in less time than the blink of an eye.

Your very chain of being, the atomic particulates that make up the totality of the physical YOU, are appearing and disappearing so rapidly into other spaces that we cannot even quantify their comings and goings–but merely speculate, as if through a glass darkly, at the IS/WAS/WERE/IS-TO-BE represented by the shifting image, the prismatic mirror of universal conscious awareness. We see ourselves but darkly in the glittering diamond surface of that mirror–imagining in our ignorance, that, in that reflection, WE HAVE SEEN ALL THAT THERE IS TO SEE.

We have not. Instead, we see only the flat image, lacking in depth. Lacking int hat sense of depth, it only suggests one possibility to us, out of a myriad of them.

Mind Power (Excerpt 2)

Believe in the awesome abilities you can call forth, for, in toto, everything is YOU, a reflection of you. The cosmos is like a vast cloth, and you weave the cloth of your dreams as you go.

Spin a garment fit for a king, or a shroud. This is entirely up to you, and is your doing. The golden threads of your personal loom will spin you a garment Seven Leagues Deep –alternately, you may become lost in the myriad folds of your wn cloth, unable to break free from the suffocating blanket of your expectations, doubt, and desires.

Take a moment to assess what I am saying–this universe is the springboard of your wants and desires, the veritable crystalline pool or looking-glass wherein is reflected the clay image of ourselves molded in the perfect echo chamber of our MIND.

The Mind is a Mirror, or a Labyrinth, a Cradle, or a Holding Cell

Truly, the mind is all of the things listed above. A collection of warring atoms is at bottom of all of our physical, tangible existence. Everything, from that which has ascended to the loftiest pinnacle, to the lowest, basest thing, has struggled to attain mastery over itself, over those predators and competitors who would thwart the right of this self-contained conscious monad to exist and even thrive–to manufacture symbiotes, to extend itself outward into the perpetual worlds of space and time.

Thwarted, an individual can either succumb–and be devoured. Or, alternately, adapt, evolve, and SURVIVE.

This can only be achieved by the ensouled monad manufacturing for itself EGO IDENTITY. A sense of place, purpose, values, esteem…a SELF. EGO.

But the mind begins to manufacture duality out of fear–saying to itself, I MAY NOT SURVIVE. The ensouled monad is thus busily reflecting the inner fears that manifest as outward objective reality–for nothing exists but that it has first been created and acknowledged from the storehouse of the mind–a reflection of our small doubts, wants, fears, failures, and egoistical beliefs, born from the cradle where the baby is rocked, a baby who could very well be named THE NEED TO BE.

The Need to Be

Eventually, ensouled consciousness becomes the prisoner of itself–paired to the frequency field of its own fears, putting up the impenetrable walls and barriers that keep man searching for himself in an ever-shifting continuum of false passages, dead ends, cul-de-sacs, blind spots, and doors that open into NOTHING.

We are the sender and receiver of our own special visions. We are the mind that manufactures the man–and we are also the man (non-generative use).

We are what we see, and what is seen. We are both the sender and the receiver, the message, the messenger, and the words imparted. And the word became FLESH.

Holy Family Orphanage

During the middle of the Nineteenth Century, the most notorious tenement in the Five Points section of New York was referred to as the “Old Brewery.”

It was a teeming, filthy, squalid place of darkness, a place where poor blacks and Irish immigrants dwelt in disease-ridden rooms, unsafe conditions, crowded into a reeking misery that few people could ever imagine.

It is said (most notably by author Jay Robert Nash), that the unwanted children born in this stinking hellpit sometimes never saw sunlight or breathed fresh air for years…if they managed to survive at all.

It is also said that the place averaged a MURDER A DAY, for an entire year.

Crime was endemic there, as was poverty, prostitution, drunkeness, violence and want. A mother is reported to have left her infant child to rot in her home after it died. She finally managed to dig a grave for the poor toddler on the premises, with an old spoon.

We could go further with the sickening details, but, really, we think you begin to understand.

The building is long since gone, having been razed over a century ago to make way for an orphanange. It is easy, though, to imagine the hideous wail of ghostly infants, the strange, empty, cold feeling of the presence of those who lived and died most miserably within the decrepit walls of the Old Brewery. That is, if the building had stood until present day, which it hasn’t.

One building that HAS, reportedly experienced ghosts is the site of the former Holy Family Orphanage in Dublin, Ireland. But, to tell the tale, one must TELL IT.

The Holy Family Orphanage was a great, bleak place of massive grey stone walls, and bellies that were frequently empty, hungry. The discipline was severe, and the lives of the children who lived (and sometimes died) there, were sad and full of want. The place was finally shut down in the middle sixties, and stood empty and vacant for a long, long time.

It was in the 1980s that it was finally decided that SOMETHING should be done with the frightening old abandoned building. After all, it was just rotting there, attracting vandals and homeless people, wild animals and graffiti artists. Couldn’t it be renovated, converted into something more useful?

The answer, to a local business magnate was: of course! Why, it is simplicity itself. To that end, this businessman purchased the property, with an eye toward turning it into an upscale apartment complex.

“I plan on fetching high prices for my rentals. After all, considering the history of the building, it’s a real conversation-starter!” he told a reporter from one of the city’s morning papers.

Soon, he hired work crews to come in and start the renovation. It was not long after, however, that strange, even troubling events began to occur:

The workmen started reporting bizarre cries, whispers, laughter–and what sounded like the scampering of children’s feet. Of course, the halls were vacant.

Also, they began to experience the strange malfunction of electrical equipment, the disappearance of tools “into thin air” (often, they would find these later in the most bizarre place), and cold spots.

(One workman reported that tea that had just been brewed became ice cold, suddenly, for no discernible reason.)

Grim shadows appeared where none should be seen, and the workmen began to grumble that they felt as if they were being watched. One or two actually walked off the job and refused to return, with little in the way of an explanation.

A local spiritualist medium was finally brought in. She walked about the halls for an hour, finally pronouncing that the place was “teeming with restless spirits.”

Would anyone now care to rent an apartment in an orpahanage that was declared to be “teeming with ghosts”? The new owner of the property seemed to think–YES!

“Are you kidding me? I’m overjoyed! It’s the best news I’ve heard all day! Why, they’ll be fighting and kicking to get in here now! The publicity will be great for business!”

To that end, he called up the local news station. Since things had been rather slow lately, they decided to air a special on the alleged “haunting,” sending a camera crew to document any evidence of the ghosts–if any should happen to appear.

“I think it’s silly season, and a waste of time, but our viewing audience is declining, and this might bolster our ratings.” said the television producer.

So off the news team went.

And the rest of the story we can summarize as this:

Bill was setting up his camera to film a dark corridor. The sound man had gone to get himself a cup of coffee and a bag of sandwiches, so Bill was there alone.

He could hear the drip-drip-drip of water coming through the old, patched ceiling. Every footfall in here seemed to echo. He fancied he could hear his own heart beating like a drum.

There’s something about this place, he thought. At first, you don’t notice it, and it doesn’t really bother you. But, after awhile, it starts to close in. A feeling of being trapped, suffocated.

Indeed, Bill felt like he might like to go outside to get some air. To that end, he decided to leave his camera and make his way back out the front when all of a sudden, a little voice said, “Sir? Pardon me sir…”

Bill looked around, and then looked down. There was a young boy standing beside him.

He felt confused. What was this kid doing in here? Who had let him in?

“Yes?” said Bill, almost automatically.

The boy hesitated a moment, then said, “Well, sir, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, I do wish you’d tell my sister Mary McLeary that I miss her, and I’ll be waiting for her right here.”

Bill was shocked to hear the name of his producer come from the boy’s lips. Why, Mary McCleary was past sixty years old if she was a day. How on earth could she have a brother that was only around eight years old or so?

Suddenly the kid turned and bolted down the hall. Bill stood there speechless for a moment, then called out “Son. Hey, son! Come back here!”

He quickly made to follow him, then was shocked, as he turned a corner, to see that the boy had seemingly disappeared. He wiped his tired eyes. Perhaps he had imagined the whole thing. He had been working awfully hard lately.

Still feeling the chill of creepiness in his bones, he went to a payphone and dialed his producer, Mary McCleary.

The tired-sounding woman picked up the phone.


Bill paused for a moment, unsure of how to proceed, then said, “Yeah, Mary, it’s me, Bill. I’m calling from the Holy Family Orphanage. Listen, I’ve just had the…weirdest thing happen to me. I, I met this young boy, couldn’t have been more than eight years old, I’d guess. Anyway, he really shook me, because he claimed to be, get this: your brother! Asked me to say hi to you, and tell you that he’d be here waiting for you.”

There was a long silence at the other end. Bill wondered if they had somehow been disconnected.

“Mary? Hello, Mary? Are you still there?”

Suddenly, in a choked voice, one that sounded a million miles away, Mary said, “Yes, Bill, I’m still here. Bill, it appears you really have met my brother.”

“What?” asked Bill, incredulous.

“Yes, you heard me correctly, Bill. That was my brother Declan. Declan McCleary. You really did meet him. He’s been there a long time. You see, he died in the orphange, fifty-three years ago.”

Values and Identity (Excerpt)

The true test of courage is the ability to remain resolute in the face of uncompromising fear, or circumstances unbecoming to the encumbered physical vessel or entity. being a vehicle, a body fleshly clothing a spirit, encumberances are certain to dog your path. However, these foibles of fate, cloaked as they are in the mundane miasma and certitude of earthly existence, are the prime movers and motivators of man along the upward pathway of his particular soul journey.

His evolution, dependent upon the stuggle for realization, for self-actualization, is as wholley dependent upon the certitude of human, earthy foibles and encumberances as a babe is dependent on its mother’s milk.

In time, progress onward and upward is a certainty for the individual that. forthwith, realizes the struggle along the arduous and twisted path – though the brambles beset his way, is the penultimate purpose toward the realization of his earthly quest. His burden should not be quite so heavy then, and he shoudl prepare to take on himself the heavy load, bearing it like a coolie, for it is in this regard, and this regard only, that the lonely wanderer gains sufficient strength to cope with the arduous toils and tasks appointed him.

Take for a momet an instance of the egg–the tough exterior on the surface, the little outside world encompassing the golden yolk of possibility INSIDE.

Crack the tough shell, and the contents spill into the earth–and potential is lost. But nurture that which is within, and soon a being of new growth emerges, the chirping, cawing reborn YOU at the center of the firm, universal whiteness, the stellar toughness covering. This new consciousness, born of a new spirit, seeded by the firm, guiding hand of a loving God, will exact plentitude from a world eager to see it stretch wings, to fly and feather above the foaming waves, timeless and reborn from toils and brambles of existence. One more tiny wihite speck amidst a flock, beating their wngs against the onrushing winds of TIME.

Values and Identity (Excerpt)

Ego develops slowly over time as a defense mechanism against the outrages of the world. We identify with the image of ourselves most conducive to personal defense. Orr psychology is a fragile thing; our mentality is elastic.

The ability to stretch–to make huge intuitive leaps in our idea of meaning and purpose is the hallmark of every right-thinking and sentient individual.

A mind can be shattered like a mirror– or, can reflect, like a pool, whatever is projected into it. It can rationalize any action ‘for the greater good.’ It, again, can make those intuitive leaps concerning duty and the will to a single-mindedness of purpose. It can both create prosperity, and foster pain.

Yet, as much as it is IN US, it is NOT US. We are something immutable, everlasting, apart–a consciousness encumbered in a physical shell–encumbered by the burden of the physical form–located in the confines of dimensional space–yet, apart from it. Waiting, growing; like the golden yolk of an eternal egg, waiting, for the moment to be hatched; to return to the bright Elysium shores of our Eternal Now–to be One again.

Heaven is wholeness; completion. Our psychology is like a withering stain, the ugly coat or cloak covering the brilliant body beneath. And when we cast off the old garment–do we put on another?