This was an important moment in Carl’s development. What Huxley had
attempted and, with the aid of mescalin, achieved piecemeal, Carl
now aimed at achieving by developing and controlling his own psychic
Thinking back, as he sometimes did, about the vision he had had as a
boy in his father’s study, he now saw that vision as a foretaste of
what he could and should achieve: a perception of spirit, a
participation in spaceless and timeless existence reached by a
parapsychological path. The aim of all Olde’s instructions now
appeared to Carl to be simply a liberation of the mind and will from
any involvement with sensory experiences and material trammels. It
was no wonder that Wanola’s disappearance from his personal life
gave him no sense of loss. In effect, she would have had to go, he
concluded. There was no room in his life now for a personal
attachment that would involve emotions and the physical presence of
another human being.
Although Carl’s study of parapsychology had begun in 1953 through
his association with Olde, it was about five years later that this
interest took on a consistently religious character. After two years
of study and research in Europe, he returned to the United States at
the end of 1957 in order to take up a post as lecturer in the
Midwest at the beginning of 1958.
It was an attractive appointment for Carl: it gave him a good deal
of latitude for research. He found a small apartment not very far
from the campus and was given perfect space for his professional
needs in the department of psychology. There his life would be
centered. He had a reception room, a study for himself, and, opening
off his study, there was a room large enough for seminars, private
lectures, and experiments.
By the following year, Carl was well settled and had attracted a
small and enthusiastic
group of assistants from among his better
One evening, quite unexpectedly and while alone, Carl had the first
of what he and his associates later called “trances.” He had just
returned to his office from dinner at a colleague’s house. It was
about 7:30 P.M. He had a great sense of tranquillity and confidence.
When he entered his study from the reception room, his eye fell on
the window facing west. The sun had not yet set, but there were
incandescent patches and streaks to be seen in the sky. The whole
window space looked like a two-panel canvas painted in reds,
oranges, blue-grays, gilded whites.
Carl crossed to the window, and as he gazed at the sunset, there was
a gentle but rapid transformation in him. His body became
motionless, as if held painlessly immobile by an unseen giant hand.
He was frozen, yet without any sensation of cold or paralysis.
Then the living scene outside took on the same odd aspect of
immobility and frozenness for him. Next, parts of the scene started
to disappear. First of all, everything in the intervening space
between the window where Carl stood and the sunset disappeared:
quadrangle, buildings, lawns, the road, the trees and shrubbery. It
was not as if they just remained on the periphery of his seeing.
They altogether ceased to be there for him. If he were to look for
them, he knew at that moment, he would not be able to find them. All
seemed to have been plucked out of sight. And their disappearance
seemed to him to be more normal than their permanency there in front
of his eyes. For a moment he felt very much at ease, for all the
bizarre nature of what was happening.
And, of course, the distance between him and the sunset was now a
formless vacuum after the disappearance of the objects on his
landscape. There was nothing “between” him and the sunset, not even
a gap, not even emptiness. He was no nearer to the sunset
physically, yet now he was knowing it intimately.
Finally the window itself faded. Carl, meanwhile, had been looking
less and less at the colors and hues of the dying sun; and, when the
window frame faded, he was “looking merely at the sun,” although he
cannot express clearly in words the difference between those two
sights or the obvious importance it had for him at that moment.
Finally the viewed-what he was viewing-seemed to loom larger and
larger in his consciousness, but he himself seemed to be diminishing
correspondingly. Smaller. Smaller.
A sudden panic arose in him that he, too, might “disappear” from his
own consciousness, just as all the landscape had disappeared. That,
he was sure, would mean nothingness for him. And, as the viewed
loomed larger and more gargantuan in its weird nonphysical way, the
more miserable and expendable he felt.
At this low ebb in his feelings Carl experienced the initial
stirrings of what he later came to call “my friend.” He always
insisted that this “friend” was personal-a person, but not a
physical person. “It was a personal presence,” he maintained. It did
not seem to “come” to him, but to have been there all along; yet it
was unexpected, and he had never noticed it before that moment.
No words passed “between” Carl and his “friend,” and no concepts or
images that he was aware of. But he knew with absolute certainty he
was being “told” that, unless he “nodded” or “gave approval,” his
progress into nothingness would be a fact.
The anguish this possibility caused him was awful. Still, some
aspect of that personal
presence seemed “deficient,” seemed to leave him with an option to
say no. He had
one brief, strange impulse to challenge the absolutist demand for
consent now being
made upon him. But a rapid confusion as strange as the whole
incident dulled the
impulse to fight: he did not know how to issue the challenge. In the
name of what power would he “speak”? In whose name would he bear the
consequences, and how could he survive them? He says now for a long
time he had nourished no idea of aid or help or salvation, and he
had “no one or nothing to turn to or call upon.” He had been brought
to nearly total aloneness, indeed, to the brink of nothingness.
Easily, therefore, and with relief, he “nodded.” He gave his
interior approval. He still did not know exactly what this approval
Immediately the sense of being reduced to nothingness ceased. Relief
flooded his consciousness. Almost simultaneously he heard a voice
calling from a great distance.
“Carl! Carl! Are you all right? Carl!”
The window “reappeared” and the landscape. The sunset “withdrew,”
and his vision was normal once again.
He stirred and looked around. Albert, one of his young assistants,
had a hand on his shoulder. Neither of them said anything for the
moment. They waited until the sun was completely down. Then, while
Albert listened, Carl sat down and dictated into his recording
What now emerged surprised even Carl. He spoke of the entire trance
as God-manifesting, as a religious experience. Turning to Albert at
one stage, and still dictating, he declared that he now saw his
life’s work to be the finding of true spirit-life and an accurate
knowledge of God and his revelation-all by means of
Carl’s course was set. For the next five years he would work
steadily and methodically, building his theories, testing and
developing his own psychic powers, nourishing a group of students
and assistants around him.
In 1963 Carl became acquainted with the second person in his
university career who remained “opaque” to his psychic perceptions.
Father Hartney F. came into Carl’s orbit almost ten years after
Wanola P., almost eleven years after Olde.
It was in the fall semester. Carl had just been made a full
professor. Father Hartney F. (or “Hearty,” as he was called by his
friends) was the one member of the new class whom Carl could not
quite understand or “grasp” psychically. As had been the case with
Wanola P. a decade before, Carl’s inability to get any “inner
perceptions” of Hearty intrigued him.
Hearty, however, looked completely normal, even innocuous. A large,
bony man rapidly going bald at that moment of his life, and wearing
thick-lensed spectacles, Hearty sat in the second row, looking at
Carl intently and taking notes from time to time. He always wore a
Roman collar and an impeccably clean black suit. During lectures he
rarely stirred, looked around him, or asked a question.
After Hearty’s first term paper, which was no better and no worse
than average, and would not normally have provoked special interest
in Carl, Carl took the occasion to interview his “opaque” student.
He found the priest to be at heart a very simple man with a better
than average memory, robust health, thorough grounding in the basics
of psychology, and an ambition to study parapsychology for what he
called “pastoral purposes.” Apparently he had convinced his bishop
that a knowledge of parapsychology would be particularly helpful in
working with his co-religionists and for understanding some of their
Offhand and, as it were, by the way, Hearty mentioned to Carl some
cases of diabolic possession. And he also spoke of Exorcism. At the
time it seemed to arouse very little interest in Carl’s mind. He
brushed the topic aside into the back of his mind, so to speak, with
some remarks about the need of updating beliefs and rites in the
Apparently having observed as much as he could or cared to after a
fairly short time, Carl ended the interview with a brief criticism
of some technical points in Hearty’s term paper.
But Carl remained intrigued, and he was not unsympathetic when two
of his students, Bill and Donna, who were later to go with Carl to
Aquileia, suggested that they bring Hearty into a special study
group Carl had formed. Their argument was that the group needed a
trained representative of some Christian community because one of
the group’s deeper objectives was to experiment with Carl’s psychic
powers and gifts in order to probe the past of Christianity. Now,
Hearty was the only student in the department at that time who was a
cleric and who was trained in theology.
Carl decided to have another interview with this opaque cleric
before inviting him into the study group. He asked his two
assistants, Albert and Norman, together with the student members of
the special group, to be with him.
Hearty was a very easygoing man, very affable, a little slow to make
up his mind. As Albert and Norman listened to Carl’s questions and
Hearty’s answers, they had a growing persuasion that Carl was
getting nowhere. Hearty was not resisting. He was not even being
evasive or vague. It was just that, in spite of his perfectly frank
answers to all the questions put to him, Hearty seemed to be immune
to Carl’s persuasion. And the reason for this was not any mental
opposition on Hearty’s part or any verbal clashes between the two
men. It was something else.
All present would probably have put the problem down to a
fundamental difference in temperament between the two if it had not
been for one unfortunate turn in their conversation, when Hearty
seemed to take over the direction of the interview. Hearty wanted to
understand what basis there was for assuming, as Carl seemed
obviously to be doing, that psychic knowledge and psychic activity
inevitably led to spirit.
Albert conceded that it was a presupposition, but an acceptable one.
Then Hearty wanted to know if that meant that psychic knowledge and
psychic activity were under the direction of the spirit?
Again, the answer was yes.
Well, then, it seemed Hearty had still another problem: unless they
claimed prior knowledge-which they didn’t (of course not, they all
acknowledged; wasn’t that, after all, why they had study groups: to
find out what they didn’t know?), how could they be sure they were
under the direction or influence of a good spirit? Or did they
presume that all spirit was good? And if so, on what basis?
These questions represented such a fundamental doubting of the
position Carl shared with his group that the peace of the meeting
was shattered. As one of those present recalled, up to that moment
in the meeting “we had not known how pervaded our minds were with
one outlook [Carl’s].” It felt, for Albert and Norman, as if some
accepted guest or some presence accepted among them had been
insulted and had started to grumble in resentment.
All of them started to question Hearty at one and the same time.
Carl held up his hand for silence. He was perfectly calm, but his
eyes were glittering and his face was very pale. Hearty’s
“opaqueness” had become transparent to Carl, for only that time and
only for those moments. Hearty was deeply opposed, Carl now
understood, to all that Carl stood for.
But Carl was cool; he was composed and self-controlled. All
students, he admonished his assistants, were free. And all points of
view were allowed. Moreover, Father F. (he stressed the “Father”)
had a professional basis for his opinion.
Hearty quietly broke in to add that Carl, too, had a professional
basis for his position.
There was an unexpected silence. For that moment, some of the
opaqueness of Hearty’s psyche had been dispelled, but
Carl could not quite make out what he perceived dimly in Hearty.
Then Hearty “closed” ‘up on him. He was “opaque” once again.
Carl gave a deprecating smile and made a little gesture, as if to go
on to explain the professional basis of Hearty’s opinion. But he
stopped and knitted his eyebrows. Every member of the group felt a
new tension in that silence. Hearty looked steadily at Carl.
Carl recomposed himself and looked pleasantly at Hearty. “And what,
Father,” Carl finally said, “is your professional basis? In short, I
“Jesus. Jesus Christ, sir. As God and as man.” Then, without
pausing, Hearty asked lightly: “And yours, Professor?”
Carl dismissed the query. Perhaps, he said, Father F. would become a
subject for group study some day as he, Carl, had already become. In
the meantime, they would table for the time being the motion of his
entry into the special study group.
The tension was gone.
From time to time during the remaining two years of Hearty’s
studies, Carl racked his brains as to the “opaque” character of
Hearty’s psyche. What did Hearty and Wanola P. have in common?
Suppose, indeed, that there was both good and evil spirit? But no
sooner would he put himself that question than the entire panorama
of his life would flood his mind; and always he ended with what was
for him an unacceptable alternative. A doubt of the fundamental
point as to what kind of spirit was leading him would mean a total
revision of his work. How could he do that? It could even mean
resigning his professorship and renouncing his parapsychological
In June 1964, after his final exams and thesis, Hearty had a short
farewell talk with Carl. He said he would like to stay in touch. It
was a pleasant moment for both of them. Carl felt good about his
departing student, in spite of his failure to pierce Hearty’s
When Hearty departed, Carl found he could not work any more at that
moment. Something Hearty had said or, perhaps, done-Carl could not
quite tell-had struck an unaccustomed chord in Carl. He sank his
face in his hands and found himself crying unaccountably. He
remained sobbing for about ten minutes, and felt intense relief.
Then a slackened wire in his mind suddenly jerked tight and stiff
again. He sat up straight in his chair. His tears dried. The old
mood was back. There was work to be done.
It would be almost ten years before Carl and Hearty met again.
In the next eight years Carl experienced an almost permanently
altered state of consciousness. He received a similarly permanent
perception of what he called the “non-thing” aura (what Huxley had
termed the Non-Self aura) surrounding all objects. He had various
trances. And, above all, he underwent his “exaltation.”
The first few times that Carl noticed the alteration in his
consciousness, he put it down to a complex of physical causes. The
atmosphere of a particular day when he sensed some change had been
very clear, he thought; it had rained for four days previously, and
there was a strong, blustering wind. On another occasion, he felt,
the new sensation was due to a great physical well-being and deep
satisfaction over the way some experimental work had gone. On still
another occasion, he put it down to an exhilarating discussion with
Gradually, however, he acknowledged quietly to himself that some
deep alteration was taking place within him.
First of all, it had to do with what he sensed-saw, heard, felt,
smelled-but the newness
and surprise of what he felt really lay in the fact that it seemed
to originate and reach
“beyond” his senses. It was “trans-sense.” Second, it concerned
people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects. And, most
importantly for Carl, it was theophanic. He maintained it was a
manifestation of deity. (Carl in those days never spoke of “God” or
of “the deity,” but only of the “divine” and of “deity.”)
The earliest stages were simple, but very perplexing. Walking in the
street during the daytime crowd of shoppers, for example, or in more
solitary walks away from town, he would somehow switch his
consciousness away from eyes or hands or trees or- the ground. Some
totality of individual traceries and patterns and meanings emerged,
instead, and became the center point of his consciousness.
In the street crowd he would suddenly stop seeing eyes or faces or
clothes; he would see, instead, a sort of pattern all the people
traced as their heads bobbed and moved toward him, or receded behind
him, or passed in the same direction as he was going.
But the sensation was quick, subtle as mercury. At first, when he
tried to seize it by his full attention, he chased it away, instead.
Then, when he went about his business again, it thrust itself back
into his consciousness.
After a number of experiences, Carl began to realize that the
traceries he saw were not bobbing heads or swaying tree branches,
and he was not seeing with his eyes. He was watching something with
his unaided consciousness. And what he saw was the buoyancy and
fluidity and free-streaming verve of spirit. Just spirit,
untrammeled by the chains of physicality.
After one of these experiences, Carl rushed back to his laboratory
and scribbled an
excited record of the event: “It’s theophanic! I’ve done it! I’ve
found the relation
between psyche and spirit, between consciousness and belief, between
human beings. I’ve found it! I’ve found it! It’s theophanic!” This
entry in his notes is
In the following two years, the frequency and intensity of such
experiences increased. Sometimes it was the eyes of people,
sometimes it was the onward movement of their feet, sometimes it was
their heads. The meaning in each case was different; yet all the
meanings coalesced into an awesome totality.
Eyes were of a particular pattern. Over and above their color,
brightness or dullness, shape, individual expressions, every pair of
eyes seemed to constitute one reflection of a total seeing, an
enlivening and quickened sight. And all the pairs of eyes he saw
were a unified reflection of that totality, and at the same time
The pattern they traced was not of one huge eye, but of one sight,
It was in the same manner that in the onward movement of feet he saw
the power of that one being-he now called it “spirit” in his notes.
In the working of hands-holding, gesticulating, waving, pointing-it
was the spirit’s subtlety. In the sound of voices it was not the
accent, the pronunciation, or the pitch of the voices that struck
him. It was what he called the “tonality.” Each voice reflected a
certain total harmony, as water, without becoming light, reflects
light; or a valley wall, without becoming sound, reflects the sound
of a shout; or colors, without becoming a mood, reflect a mood;
smells, without being touchable, reflect surfaces and substances we
At the beginning of the following year Carl began to notice two new
elements in his
constantly altering state of consciousness. There was a great sense
of “being with,” of
“being together with.” What he was “with” or “together with” on
these occasions he
dared not think out too clearly, because he knew that would be the
death of it all. But
it was a personal “being with.” What he was “with” was intelligent,
free, supreme in
some awesome but not frightening way. Slowly, over a period of time,
when note-taking or recording on his machine, he came to refer to
The second element was that the fits and starts of his experiences
were over. Now all was coalescing. All the traceries and patterns,
all the aspects of meaning and significance and existence seemed to
come as one. He realized after a brief spell that all the traceries
had always been one. But, he also realized, he could have started to
know that oneness only through those initial fits and starts.
Theophanic happenings thus became a theophany, and everything now
was seen by him as united. Everything was an aspect of the one
Then subtly, simply as a suspicion at the beginning, Carl started to
feel some basic differences between what he called “my friend” and
this one being, this all-pervasive, free-moving, and independent
spirit in which all things were, but which was not itself just one
of all other things.
Whenever he “perceived” the slightest smidgeon of difference between
the “friend” and the “one,” some sadness he could not control
entered him. He felt again as if he were going to be deprived, as he
had been at sixteen when his first vision had ended. He took even
more copious notes and made long recordings in order to catch and
retain everything he could.
In the last days of 1965 Carl began to perceive what he called the
“non-thing” aura of all objects and people around him. Until that
moment, and even when he was absorbed by that totality of being in
which all things were now bathed for him, Carl still did always see
them as things. Their “thingness” still was a basic characteristic.
Very early one morning he was walking the short distance from his
apartment to his office on campus. There was still some of the night
chill in the air, but a brisk wind moving the trees and rifling the
grass promised one of those zesty, sunny days Carl liked so much.
The last stretch of the walk was a path lined on the west side by a
row of poplar trees. On the east side there was a wide expanse of
grass sweeping away for about 200 yards to a row of buildings used
by the agricultural department. Behind the buildings there was a
ridge of high ground.
As he walked, Carl glanced eastward at the ridge, his eyes traveling
leisurely over the trees, shrubs, buildings, and grass, taking in
the fresh light that was creeping over everything.
He was so attuned and attentive to his own perceptions that he
immediately noticed a qualitative change. Each thing had something
more than mere thingness. It was that each one existed on the edge
of an abyss all its own, a vast chasm of “non-thingness,” of what it
This experience was far more absorbing than even Huxley had
intimated in his lyrical description of the “Non-Self”; and its
beauty was more authentic and filling than anything expressed in
each physical object. This “non-thingness” was an actual aura around
every object. It was dim and shallow and pale nearest to the object,
but as Carl’s eye drew away from the object and into the object’s
aura, the aura deepened and heightened in appearance and meaning.
Nothing, no object, Carl felt, would ever be banal anymore: it would
never again be merely itself, have only its own self, for him. The
aura of its non-thingness, its “Non-Self,” glowed always and made
the thing possible. Carl made the quiet discovery that in the aura
of each thing there was no difference between appearance and
As his eye traveled and the “non-thingness,” the “Non-Self,” of each
and signified for him, he began to hear a vaster and vaster choir of
and to see a greater and greater multitude of participants in
worship. Each blade of grass chimed its silent “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Every tree bowed and
swayed in obeisance to the supremacy of all existence, and each
building stood in reverence before the mystery of allness.
All this produced no shock in Carl. He did not even stop walking. He
seemed to be ready for it all. As he swung into the pathway to his
office, he felt in his mind one desire: that he be once and for all
exalted-even if just for a short time-to see and know that supreme
existence of all things and to see the holiness of its mystery that
gave all things meaning.
That exaltation would eventually come for him, but only four years
It was in May 1969 that possession seemed to have been extended
further and deeper in Carl’s life than ever before. That possession
was effected through his professional interests. His attention for
about two years previous to this date had concentrated on two
aspects of psychic development: astral travel and reincarnation.
Both were in direct relationship to Carl’s all-absorbing aim of
“finding out” the “true and original Christianity.”
By astral travel he hoped to transcend the boundaries of space and
time, and thus to “revisit” the locales where Christianity existed
before it was corrupted. By his researches in reincarnation-he
believed fully in it-Carl hoped to relive some ancient experiences
of his own, possibly even around the birth of Christianity.
In his researches, studies, and experimentation into astral travel,
Carl had by 1969 some proficiency in this psychic capability, but
his achievements had remained within traditional bounds. He usually
remained in sight of his own inert body and of locales known to him
in his physical life. And in some definite way he remained tied to
the time frame of the present moment. His immediate goal now was to
find a way out of that time frame. There must be, he maintained,
some “gate” through which he could pass to freedom.
With his two closest associates, Albert and Norman, and the student
members of his special study group, he now proceeded to launch a
series of experiments. He himself was the guinea pig; and, each
time, one of his trances became the starting point for an
experiment. Carl had apparently an enormous fund of psychic energy
and was immune to the injury that others sustained in such
The experiments took place in the audition room of his campus
offices. There he had had installed various machines for recording
voice and actions, and for monitoring his vital functions-heart,
pulse, respiration, and brain activity.
Albert functioned as chief monitor, with Norman as his immediate
assistant. Albert would interrogate Carl at key points in each
experiment. Until the last stages of this series of experiments,
Carl answered only direct yes-or-no questions put to him by Albert.
The other members of the group took on various assignments in
operating the machines.
Carl’s optimum time for “trancing” was in the early morning, an hour
or so before sunrise. At the end of each trance session, the
assistants withdrew on Carl’s instructions, and he was left alone to
recover his normal composure. Recovery periods lasted for any length
of time between ten and forty minutes depending on the length of the
session and Carl’s psychic condition. When the assistants returned,
they usually found Carl sitting at the table recording his memories-
sensations, thoughts, feelings, intuitions.
By repeated experiments, starting always with one of Carl’s trances,
they found that
astral travel was not to be accomplished in one step. It was not a
question of one, but
rather three “gates.” These he termed “low-gate,” “mid-gate,” and
had to pass through them all in order successfully to achieve full
freedom of astral travel.
Low-gate was, more or less, the initial condition of trance: an
absence of all sensory reaction and feeling on Carl’s part. Mid-gate
implied that Carl himself felt no relationship to his body; but,
nevertheless mid-gate still implied “immobility” on the part of his
psyche. High-gate, Carl figured, would mean that his psyche escaped
from that peculiar “immobility” of mid-gate and depart “freely” on
astral travel. The rest was discovery and revelation.
The verification of Carl’s passage to low-gate and mid-gate
positions was accomplished by a series of laboriously conducted
experiments, repeated and repeated, until they were all satisfied
that objectively Carl could be said to have reached these different
positions. To help our understanding of how these experiments went,
we have the films, tape recordings, and the minutes of the
laboratory log, together with Carl’s own recordings made after each
session. Some members of the group have also contributed their
recollections of what happened.
Once Carl was in a trance and all physical feeling (say, a pin stuck
in the sole of his foot) was negative for him, the assistants
proceeded to change the objects around Carl’s inert body. They
introduced objects he had never seen-usually placards inscribed in
another room by one of the assistants. They placed them face up and
face down; they moved them around. They proceeded thus through a
series of experiments, testing Carl until they were sure that his
responses identifying the objects previously unknown to him were
accurate and were coming from the low-gate position.
As Carl recorded it, in low-gate position he was perfectly
conscious, but not through his senses. And he was observing from a
position outside his own body, at every side of it as well as
beneath it and above it and the couch upon which his body lay.
Mid-gate was the next goal. In all low-gate positions there always
persisted in Carl some instinctual relationship to his own inert
body, as he viewed it from “outside.” They understood that this
instinctual relationship was a “given” of normal human conditions.
The aim was to get rid of it.
All knew that there was a risk involved in shedding something so
basic and instinctual as the feeling for one’s own body. What
guarantee was there that one could resume it, how could one “return”
to normal body living? Did one just escape from the relationship,
leaving it intact, and then return to its bonds? Or by leaving it
did one destroy it? No one knew. “But we must find out,” insisted
In late 1968 Carl had the beginnings of mid-gate: in his trances
now, the relationship
to his body was weakening; and, as the weakening progressed, a
dimensionless condition of mind and will began to fill his
caution was exercised by the assistants and by Carl at that stage.
Carl allowed a
certain degree of weakening of that instinctual bond, then returned
again to full
immersion in his bodily senses. He then repeated the operation
several times, until he
felt sure of his psychic energy and resources to help him back to
psychic normalcy and then, down past low-gate, back to physical
Eventually, in the early summer of 1969, he fully attained mid-gate.
At the end of the summer it was decided that they should aim for
high-gate. It was a Saturday morning. All proceeded in the orderly
and controlled manner adopted from the beginning. Carl passed into
low-gate and, without much delay, into mid-gate. At this point,
according to the plans made at the previous night’s preparatory
meeting, there was a three-minute regulatory pause while they waited
for Carl to attain control of his psychic energy for the next and
When the three minutes were up, they started again. But quickly
Albert found he could get no answers or reactions from Carl. After a
sudden racing, pulse, heartbeat, and respiration had slowed down to
the pace “normal” for mid-gate. Physically Carl was “in normalcy.”
Norman and Albert looked at each other and at the rest of the group;
there was nothing to do but to wait and keep monitoring Carl’s vital
signs. It was a risk Carl had insisted be taken, and they had all
When Carl had reached mid-gate and Albert’s interrogating voice had
ceased for the regulatory pause, Carl’s progress had not stopped.
The diminishing relationship to his body had melted into nothing.
And he was suddenly within another ether or state: neither far from
nor near his body, neither light nor heavy, his whole self wholly
transparent to himself, desirous neither of death nor of life,
neither remembering anything nor forgetting anything, neither
realizing anything new nor ignoring anything old. In that state he
had neither past nor future. He was past mid-gate and into the
Albert, Norman, and the others were seriously worried at first when
the monitoring machines ceased to record any brain activity in
Carl’s body. But Carl had forewarned of this also and told them that
perhaps on the threshold of high-gate, and most probably in the
high-gate position, there would be no apparent brain activity,
certainly none that could be picked up by machines. But Carl had not
been able to predict anything more. His assistants had no inkling of
Carl’s experience at that moment.
Quickly and simultaneously he surveyed an entire panorama. As he
tells it, it was a medley of faces and places and animals which he
had seen before either in real life or in books, faces such as the
Ramses II colossus at Abu Simbel in Egypt, a Minoan goddess from the
sixteenth century B.C., a lute player from ancient Tyre; places such
as the Nike temple in Athens, the baths of Mohenjo-Daro, the early
buildings of Jericho, sheets of ice-capped land, swamps, swirling
gases, deeps of blackness; objects such as a sycamore tree in
Pharaonic Thebes of the eighteenth century B.C., the high places of
It was not a question of images or pictures; it was the actual
places and objects themselves. And an added peculiarity was that to
Carl they did not come singly, one after the other or separated in
space and time. He was ranging far above them, and they were
simultaneously present to him.
The recordings taken during this portion of the session are silent
except for the whispers of his associates. Carl was silent
After 25 minutes Albert and the others were beginning to become
alarmed, when the pulse and heartbeat monitors began to record a
faster pace. Carl must be “returning,” reviving, they knew. He was
beginning to respond to Albert’s direct commands and suggestions. In
another ten minutes it was all over. Carl opened his eyes slowly and
blinked in the electric light.
They all filed out, leaving Carl his accustomed time to recover.
When they returned some 15 minutes later, he was dictating into the
recording machine as much as he could recall of that high-gate
astral travel. The elation of the group as they listened was
understandably high. They still had to devise some method of
verifying the data of his high-gate travel, but they had full
confidence that such controls could be devised with repeated
Albert, Norman, and Carl were the last to leave the audition room.
Their path lay
across the campus to the dining room. As they walked, they discussed
points of Carl’s trance. There were two or three aspects of Carl’s
astral travel that
Norman was sure were unique, even in the low-gate and mid-gate
mentioned especially the peculiar time frame within which Carl
seemed to move
during the trance, and he remarked on the bodiless experience of
Carl at certain moments of his experience: not only had Carl felt as
if he was looking at his own inert body; he felt as if he had been
definitively separated from it.
As they continued to talk, Albert and Norman were what they now call
“taken over” or “totally dominated” by some psychic dimension of
Carl was just explaining the absence of distance during astral
travel. They both recall his saying: “Take, for example, that ridge
over there.” He indicated the high ridge that flanked his favorite
walk. “You see it as a vertical dimension, some distance from you,
on your horizontal plane.”
At that point, their perception of the ridge itself was no longer as
of an obstacle on their horizon. The ridge was as much there as it
had been the moment before this peculiar change. But now they were
neither distant from the ridge nor near it, neither level with it
nor lower in level, nor above it. They had, in other words, no sense
of distance. In their description of it, the experience seems
something like Carl’s experience the evening when all distance had
disappeared between him and the sunset outside his study window.
And the same change affected their relationship to each other and to
Carl. Without any perception of distance or space between them, they
were “with” him, “with” each other. The only material relationship
that remained was that of presence: they were present to each other.
They were also aware of another change, this time in Carl. He was
present to them and they, to him. But he was more present to, more
“with,” something or someone else. And they were not so present to
or “with” that something or someone else as Carl was. They witnessed
his “meeting” with that other being, as it were, and heard strange
words of conversation they did not understand. At times it seemed
Carl was “talking” with more than one, with two or three “persons.”
They could not make out exactly how many. And, while the dominant
emotion of both Norman and Albert was one of fear and of nostalgia
for a normal physical stance and posture, Carl seemed to be in
ecstasy and wholly absorbed in his “meeting.”
Their memories become jumbled at this point. They remember speaking
but in a wholly undeliberate way, as if some power in them was
producing the words they pronounced. Several times they were saying
the same things in chorus together; at other times they were talking
almost at cross-purposes. They do remember hearing each other say:
“Surely, we must make a special place here for Carl and his
companions.” And they have only the dimmest memories of who or what
those companions of Carl’s were during these experiences. They have
no recollection of human forms.
At a certain point, they remember, their vision was obscured by a
blackness they could not understand or see through. Their hearing
grew fainter. After that, Albert and Norman say, they seemed to
become numbed or drowsy, and that numbing seeped through them both,
lulling their senses.
Then they each felt a hand on one shoulder and heard Carl’s normal
“Albert! Norman! Do you hear me! Wake up!”
Albert describes himself as opening his eyes. Norman’s description
is of blackness melting from his vision. Both of them saw only Carl
standing between them, a hand on the shoulder of each, and looking
as normal as always. He was smiling at them and telling them by that
smile that he knew what they had experienced. Nobody said anything.
But Carl pointed to the ridge.
They looked over. The ridge was now flooded in sunlight, and so were
the buildings at its base and the green expanse of grass between
them and the ridge. They looked back at Carl.
He only said: “This exaltation is something people will not easily
They both nodded. They would themselves spend many hours discussing
and trying to understand what had happened.
This experience made a huge difference in Carl’s life. After some
discussion, it had been decided to communicate to all the members of
the special student group what Albert and Norman had experienced
that morning. All now accepted Carl as a guide and guru. They
referred to his guruship openly when speaking to others of their
studies, although it was agreed that no public mention of Carl’s
“exaltation,” as he called it, should be made until all their
findings were published. But from then on until after the Aquileia
incident, Carl was revered by each individual of his special group
not merely as a parapsychologist but as a personal guide in their
progress of spirit and in true religious belief.
Inevitably word spread beyond Carl’s in-group. And before long, Carl
had a much greater following. He attained particular notoriety
following a lecture he gave shortly after his “exaltation.” It
concerned religion and Christianity. In it, Carl announced the goal
of his studies and research to be a rediscovery of what Christianity
truly meant, what Jesus had wanted it to be before Jesus’ message
had been corrupted by other men.
As time went on, Carl’s following grew fairly large. More people
began coming for guidance in their personal spiritual growth. But
even as the group grew in number, Carl’s influence over the group
became more profound. He imposed very severe exercises on each of
the participants, disciplining their imaginations and schooling them
in control of their mental processes in a way and to a degree quite
beyond anything Olde had put him through many years before.
Carl began to lead special spirit-raising sessions for his growing
group. They were held in the large room off his private study where
he also held seminars and did so many of his experiments.
During these sessions, Carl stood at one end of the room, while all
the “participants” sat on the floor in a semicircle around him. He
spoke slowly and deliberately, instructing his listeners. His
psychic abilities seemed to be at their most powerful during these
sessions. With every sentence his control seemed to become more
concentrated, and everyone gradually fell into a very quiet, yet
alert state of body and mind.
Finally they all seemed to feel not only a special presence “with”
them, but an overwhelming inclination within themselves to “bow”
(or, as some said, to “annihilate” themselves) before that presence.
A few participants withdrew from the group at one time or another
because, they said, they felt the strange presence that was “with”
them to be “unloving” or “cold” or “nonhuman.” Most, however,
persevered. The few who talked with me about that presence which
they felt during Carl’s spirit-raising sessions stressed the
peculiar control or “grip” which they found holding their inner
feelings. It did not frighten, but it gave no impression of being
benign or loving. It overawed, as one of them commented; but it did
so much as an enormous skyscraper might overawe somebody standing
close to its base and looking up its entire length. Overawing, it
numbed the feelings. And, as it numbed, it seemed to control.
It was at the very end of one of these spirit-raising sessions in
September of 1971 that
the first signs of possession became outwardly apparent in Carl.
Nobody, however, in
Carl’s immediate entourage was equipped to read these signs for what
they were. They all took them as awesome manifestations of what they
called Carl’s “other and more real world.”
On that particular occasion, Carl had just finished his commentary,
and the participants in the session were all returning to a normal
state of consciousness, slowly being set free from that numbing
As they returned to ordinary perception of things around them, they
became aware that Carl was having difficulties in breathing and
standing up straight. He was in a peculiarly bent position. With his
soles still flat on the ground and his knees bent, the upper part of
his body up to his shoulders was being bent precariously, as if he
was falling backward. His chin was sunk in his chest in his effort
to straighten up. Only his head moved in that effort.
The rule at all sessions had always been clear: no hands on Carl
during the session. So nobody moved to help, but everyone watched.
Norman and Albert, who knew Carl more intimately than the others
did, felt that Carl was in some unusual difficulty. Something was
wrong. Glancing at each other in agreement, they moved quickly about
the room and whispered to the participants to rise and leave them
alone with Carl. When they had all gone, Norman opened the shutters,
letting in the light of day.
Carl’s face was clearly full of pain and rage. He was muttering some
words such as “Latter,” “truly,” “won’t,” “will,” “faithful,”
“forever,” “prime.” But they could make out only a jumble of words
that conveyed no sense.
Gradually Carl straightened. He took one or two deep breaths, then
stumbled to a chair, sat down, and covered his face with his hands.
“Leave me be,” Norman and Albert heard him say in a muffled voice.
“I’ll get to you later.”
They left him alone.
The next day, when all three met, Carl was composed, smiling, and as
masterful as usual, until Albert mentioned the previous day’s
happenings. Carl’s face clouded over. He would not look at either of
them. He only said: “We too have our enemies. Our enemy. The Latter”
(he gave a special emphasis to this word) “would disturb all harmony
of psyche and reality, of mind and body.” He repeated these phrases
over and over as if repeating a ritual recitation, until he began
shaking and perspiring.
When Norman suggested that they put off that afternoon’s session,
Carl was vehement. To delay was to give in to the Latter. They must
at all costs keep on, Carl said. They were on the brink of a
The “breakthrough” took place in the late autumn of 1972.
Once Carl attained the first proficiency in astral travel, his next
aim was to use that skill in order to attain at least one of his
Reincarnation, for Carl, was a very definite reality. He believed
that the psyche of each person had multiple “layers” or “tiers.”
Each “layer” or “tier” was evolved during one of several successive
lifetimes, and every human being was composed of such “layers.” He
also believed that the unifying factor for all such “layers” was one
particular “layer” in which the person in question had received a
direct light from “divinity.” For, at that precious moment, the
reincarnating psyche became perfectly human. And, for Carl, to be
perfectly human was to be indestructible. He called this unifying
“layer” the “alpha layer.”
Carl theorized further that, in the freedom of astral travel, that
alpha layer would come
to the fore; but only the forceful action of one’s will, prodded by
interrogation of a monitor, could help bring it out. If there never
had been an alpha
layer in the evolution of a psyche, then such a psyche would merely
enjoy astral travel, but obviously never attain a reincarnation in
the full sense of the word.
Carl’s progress in reaching his alpha layer or principal incarnation
was relatively slow. He began by studying the audio and visual tapes
of his astral-travel sessions. He was searching for clues in words
and actions. A special language, specific names and places, gestures
that had a cultural, ethnic, religious, or even geographical
connotation- these could be clues to the emergent alpha layer he was
From looking at fragmentary shots of his assistants taken
occasionally and accidentally by the cameras as they panned over the
entire scene at the sessions, Carl detected traces of what he felt
was an astounding phenomenon: at times one or another of his
assistants unconsciously made a gesture or took up a momentary
attitude which corresponded to his own words and/or actions at that
particular point in the session. Some of his own psychic ambient was
obviously affecting those witnessing and assisting at the session.
He did not know what this meant, but it all helped, with fresh
indications of where to search for his alpha layer.
It was by the coordination of all these clues that Carl finally
uncovered his own alpha layer: an incarnation back in the early days
of Christianity in Roman times. His own mind and memory were like a
sieve through which bits and scraps of perception were being shaken
and sifted; they all concerned scenes, names, objects, actions, and
events which, during the group review of the sessions, were
determined to be identifiably of Roman and early Italian origin.
Most of the jumbled words and phrases he used in session were
The name Petrus kept returning again and again. At first, they
thought that this referred to Peter, the Apostle and Bishop of Rome.
But, although Roma (Rome) did come up in connection with Petrus,
together with other names historically connected with Peter, it
became clear that the Petrus in question had something to do rather
with Roman Italy, with the East, and with the sea.
What intrigued Carl and the others as they went over the tapes after
each of the sessions was that, whenever the name Petrus was
mentioned by Carl, one of his assistants would-apparently without
realizing it-do one of two things. Either he raised his hand
momentarily in the old Roman salute: outstretched arm, upraised
hand, fingers together and pointing upward, palm turned outward. Or
he would crouch momentarily, as if he were about to get down on all
Bit by bit, Carl and his associates honed and refined the method of
conducting the sessions. Albert, the chief monitor, developed a
technique of interrogation. Carl’s power of recollection subsequent
to each session increased. They became more expert in reading the
tapes of the sessions. It was only a matter of time and of the right
occasion, Carl kept telling them. One day they would hit the target.
An offhand remark by a colleague who inquired how his work was going
gave Carl a small but valuable clue. At the end of the conversation,
the colleague quipped that, if his sainted Irish grandmother were
alive, she would tell him to hold special sessions on the feast day
of All Souls. She had always said that the souls of the dead
returned to earth on that day. Carl always considered his friend’s
remark as a “message” from the world of spirits.
On November z, 1972, Carl held an unusual session of his special
student group. With the help of Albert and Norman and his closest
associates, he was going to make another astral bid to reach one of
his reincarnations-the one he always seemed to be striving for but
had never successfully achieved.
As was customary, the group met in the audition room an hour before
seemed in fine form. He was tranquil and happy-looking as he greeted
each of his
group affectionately. He was in full command of the situation. He
lay down on the leather couch and was connected to the various
monitoring machines. The audio and visual recorders were started.
Then all recited together the prayers Carl had written.
Carl’s speech throughout this session was almost completely in Latin
with an occasional Greek word or phrase and some expressions in a
language they ascertained later to be a form of Coptic.
Carl apparently had no difficulty in attaining the high-gate
position for his astral journey. Once he passed into high-gate, the
anticipation among the onlookers became extreme. They sensed that
this was one of the rare occasions in their lives when they might
witness a genuine scientific breakthrough. They knew by now that in
his former reincarnations, Carl had belonged to the ancient Roman
world in early Christian times. But he had not, up to this point,
found out where he had been living, the identity he had assumed in
that reincarnation, and the events that had marked his life in those
As Carl had continued over the months searching for his alpha layer
by means of high-gate astral excursions, levitation of his inert
body began to occur, but only in association with the ancient Roman
incarnation for which he was now purposely searching. His body
lifted off the couch ever so slightly; it remained suspended in
midair without touching the couch, and returned by itself to the
surface of the couch as Carl returned to normalcy. There was no
regularity to the occurrence of this phenomenon of levitation,
except as it was associated with his chance excursions to Roman
Italy, and there were never any side effects apparent in Carl’s
The videotape made on this particular occasion shows Carl lying
motionless on the couch. Donna and Bill are sitting at the foot of
the couch; both have an intent look most of the time. But the same
changes pass over their faces as over the others around the
couch-Albert and Norman sitting at the head of the couch, Keith and
Charlie at the far side, and the two technicians attending the
monitoring machines. If one did not know better, one would be
tempted to say that all present were brothers and sisters. For the
intensity of the emotions portrayed on their faces produced such a
similarity in looks that it is as though an invisible wash painted
on them mysteriously had made all one family.
With Carl’s passage beyond high-gate, everyone leaned forward, eyes
wide open, faces drawn, completely absorbed in and concentrating on
Carl’s face and words. As Carl’s body, still supine, rose slightly
from the couch, all sat back in their chairs, a gaze of awe and
reverence sweeping across their faces.
Albert’s voice took up the interrogations. “Who are you?”
There is a small pause. Then Carl answered. “Peter, a Roman
“Where do you live?”
“What day is it?”
“The feast of Lord Neptune.”
“What are you about today?”
“We are celebrating the mystery of salvation.”
“Who is with you?”
“Those of the sacrament.”
“This is where the Tortoise confronts the Rooster.”
“In the secret oratory.”
“How do you celebrate the mystery?”
“We adore the Tortoise. We curse the Rooster.”
“The Rooster has corrupted the salvation.”
There was no answer from Carl, but the expression on his face
changed several times. What looked like indignation, pain, anger,
fear, joy skimmed across his features. His pulse and heartbeat
quickened. Albert waited for five minutes, then tried again.
“Where are you now and what is happening?”
“Beside the Rooster facing the Tortoise.”
For the first time Carl’s body stirred-ever so slightly, still in
levitation. Donna noticed it immediately. She glanced at Norman, who
shook his head: no need for alarm, he was indicating. Carl’s body
then began to vibrate all over. The look on his face was one of
Albert reflected a moment, then made up his mind.
“Are you continuing with the rite of the sacrament?”
Carl made no answer. He was going limp and quiet. His pulse and
heartbeat were back to normal. His body lowered gently,
imperceptibly back onto the couch. He was returning to high-gate
obviously, and the session had to be almost over.
When this much was clear, they all acted out their parts. The
monitoring machines and recorders were turned off. As usual,
everyone stood up then and filed out. Norman, the last out the door,
paused to switch off the light, then stepped outside and gently
pulled the door to.
He had closed it and was about to join the others when his nerves
were jangled. They all heard laughter, a sardonic cackle, a peal of
mockery and vicious amusement coming from the audition room.
They looked at each other incredulously, fully persuaded that it
could not be so, that there must be some explanation. The tone of
the laughter was so outrageously out of keeping with their mood of
reverence and gratitude that everyone grimaced with disgust and a
little grain of fear.
As the last notes of derision and sneering amusement died away,
Albert turned the handle of the door and opened it. They all looked
at the blackness of the open doorway. Donna, nearest to Albert,
craned over his shoulder. There was no sound, no light. Dimly,
Albert made out Carl’s inert form. He was still asleep. Albert
shrugged his shoulders in puzzlement and pulled the door closed
Donna said nothing. But while the door was open, she had noticed a
strange smell in the room. She looked at Albert, then finally asked
him if she was crazy or if anyone else had smelled it, too.
No need to be alarmed, Albert told her. He and Norman had noticed
the smell after several experiments and had discussed it with Carl.
They did not understand it yet. But that, he said, was why they were
scientists-to find out what happened and why it happened.
Donna still has a clear memory of that smell. It was not unpleasant.
It was strange. Neither of any animal nor of any plant nor of any
chemical she had ever known. A deep sense memory of it remained with
her for many weeks.
Between this moment and Carl’s exorcism one year later, Donna was to
experience that smell again and again. Part of her later distress
came from the fact that, by the time of the exorcism, she had come
to like it.
From the data of the sessions two things became obvious: Carl’s
former incarnation had been localized at some special place in the
Italian town of Aquileia; and the high point each year in that
former life had been the feast of the ancient Roman god, Neptune.
This feast day in modern calendars would be July 23. They resolved,
therefore, to be in Aquileia on July 23 of the following year.
During the intervening months between the All Souls session and
their July trip, Carl took to wearing the two emblems of Neptune,
the dolphin and the trident, on a chain around his neck. He also
became more abstracted than ever before from his physical
surroundings and spent a great deal of time listening repeatedly to
the recordings of his trances. He tried on several occasions to
write about it all, but he never got beyond a few paragraphs. The
word spoken to him in his teenage vision, “Wait!” seemed to be his
Meanwhile, he made one further advance in his psychic
accomplishment. He claimed several times to have acquired a new
power: to be able to be in two places at the same time because, he
said, of a psychic “double” he could project forcefully into visible
reality some hundred miles from where he was.
During these months Carl’s directions for the personal life of his
associates got much more dogmatic and absolutist in tone. They were
always given in gentle terms. It was merely that, as one of them
remarked, Carl no longer gave them any alternatives. There was no
“either/or.” They all had to be “purified,” Carl said. They must be
cleansed of any stains attaching to their minds and wills, stains
which came from previously accepted lies about Jesus and
Most of his followers found the regimen Carl established for them to
be a healthy one. They slept better, studied with deeper
concentration, and ceased to be disturbed and distracted by
Now and again, some of them felt that they were abdicating some
secret part of their being. Some felt vaguely disturbed, but it was
hard to pin that disturbance down. And, anyway, the whole venture
with Carl was exciting and new, and promised to lead them beyond the
matter-of-fact horizons of ordinary daily existence.
Carl put no difficulty in their way when Christmas 1972 came; and
they all went to their own homes to celebrate. But when Easter
approached, he insisted that they spend it with him.
They did not attend any church or religious service. Instead, on
Easter Saturday evening they all met beneath the ridge overlooking
Carl’s favorite walk. From there they watched the sun go down while
Carl maintained a running commentary on “true spirit.”
He had chosen as his subject the eternity of spirit. And, using the
symbols of the tortoise for spirit’s eternity and of the rooster for
the rising and setting sun of man’s intellect, he preached
vehemently against “the mental corruption that destroyed the beauty
of God’s word.” The sun, he said, would rise on the morrow and set
on the morrow. So with every human resurrection. It was a constant
rising and falling. Only spirit remained forever, like the ocean,
like the tortoise, like the sky, like man’s will. There was much in
the same strain, all very mystical and exultant.
Afterward, he left them and returned to his office. Nobody dared go
with him. He was in one of those “states” which they all venerated.
On July 15, their plans as carefully mapped out as possible, the
small group left the campus by car for the airport.
About an hour after their departure, Hearty arrived at the
psychology department. He was looking for Carl. No, he told Carl’s
secretary, he had no prior appointment with the professor, but he
had a vitally important message for him and his companions.
It took some time before he learned the news of Carl’s departure and
about the proposed visit to Aquileia. He sped by cab after Carl’s
party to the airport, but arrived as the plane taxied for takeoff.
Hearty looked for some time into the evening sky as it swallowed up
Carl’s plane. He could only guess at Carl’s condition of mind. But
he knew rather exactly how the whole Aquileia venture would end. He
was not guessing.
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