In the words of: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

16th February 2024. Reading Time: 6 minutes General, In the words of:. 899 page views. 0 comments.

Through the eyes and words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this is what he believed life was like on the other side.

"The subject of psychical research is one upon which I have thought more, and been slower to form my opinion about, than upon any other subject whatever ..... I have not been hasty in forming my opinion.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Ignatius Doyle was born on the 22nd of May 1859 in Edenborough Scotland.  His father was an artist and his mother a well-educated woman with a passion for storytelling, it is no coincidence that Doyle is considered to be one of the greatest creative minds in history.  While he was expected to follow in his Father’s artistic footsteps, he decided to pursue a career in medicine instead.  Surrounded by future best authors such as James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson at University, under the inspiration from his favourite teacher Dr. Joseph Bell, he penned his first piece 'The Mystery of Sasassa Valley' which went on to be published in the magazine Chamber’s Journal.  The rest as they say is history.  He did indeed go on to graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degree, however, most people know him as the author and creator of the iconic character Sherlock Holmes.

Image Source: Public domain

While Doyle was a very successful and famous author, it should be noted that he volunteered his services by enlisting in the Boer war, tried his hand in politics, and even had a short legal stint defending those who he felt deserved justice.  It was said in some ways he was mimicking his famous character, Holmes.  Sadly Doyle also experienced tragic loss as well.  His first wife Louisa died tragically on the 4th of July 1906. They had two children together.  He did find love and remarried again, however, after World War 1 he suffered more loss.  His son, his brother, 2 of his nephews, and his 2 brothers in law were all killed while serving in World War 1.  His sense of loss over the years was always channelled through his writing and defending those who were less fortunate than he was.  Though people incorrectly state that Doyle was drawn to spiritualism after his son's death, his interest lay in the area long before he was born. 

In 1893, Doyle joined the Society for Psychical Research as a self-proclaimed novice in psychical research.  At the time it was more like a side hobby where he dabbled with table tipping, mesmerism, and thought transference (which would later be known as telepathy).

In 1894, Doyle was part of a research team consisting of Frank Podmore and Dr Sydney Scott to investigate sounds and disturbances at Colonel Elmore's family home.  After spending a few nights and experiencing a 'fearsome uproar' they could not conclude if the house was haunted or if it was indeed a hoax.  It was later discovered the body of a 10-year-old child had been buried in the garden.  Doyle was convinced that he had witnessed psychic phenomena at the hands of the deceased child.

In 1917, Doyle made his first public lecture on spiritualism.  Knowing it could mean the end of his career, he felt it was more important for all of mankind to know.  Psychical researchers often disagreed with Doyle and the people he would advocate for.  At a time when exposing fraudulent mediums was at an all-time high, Doyle garnered a reputation for being too trusting and having too big of a heart.

In 1925, Doyle and his wife Jean opened 'The Psychic Bookshop', a brick-and-mortar store that was a book shop, a library, a museum, and a book publishing company based in London.  

Doyle remains one of the more controversial figures in the spiritualism community, namely due to his willingness to believe those who were outed as frauds.  He was genuine in nature with a big heart and a strong belief in spiritualism.

Doyle spoke passionately about spiritualism which was heavily influenced by his religious beliefs. Some felt that Doyle believed a little too much, while others admired his resilience to believe.  Through his eyes, let's explore some of the things he believed it was like on the other side.

The New Revelation

In his essay published in 1918 titled 'The New Revelation', Doyle spoke about information he had come to learn about the afterlife through seances. Here are some of his musings detailing what he believed it was like for spirits in the afterlife.

spirits prayed and they died in their new sphere before entering another; they had pleasures — music was among them. It was a place of light and of laughter. She added that they had no rich or poor, and that the general conditions were far happier than on earth.

Duration of life in the next sphere was shorter than on earth. Spirits lived in families and in communities. Married people did not necessarily meet again, but those who loved each other did meet again.

All agree that life beyond is for a limited period, after which they pass on to yet other phases, but apparently there is more communication between these phases than there is between us and Spiritland. The lower cannot ascend, but the higher can descend at will. The life has a close analogy to that of this world at it its best. It is pre- eminently a life of the mind, as this is of the body. Preoccupations of food, money, lust, pain, etc., are of the body and are gone. Music, the Arts, intellectual and spiritual knowledge, and progress have increased. The people are clothed, as one would expect, since there is no reason why modesty should disappear with our new forms. These new forms are the absolute reproduction of the old ones at their best, the young growing up and the old reverting until all come to the normal. People live in communities, as one would expect if like attracts like, and the male spirit still finds his true mate though there is no sexuality in the grosser sense and no childbirth. Since connections still endure, and those in the same state of development keep abreast, one would expect that nations are still roughly divided from each other, though language is no longer a bar, since thought has become a medium of conversation.

Doyle travelled the World writing and lecturing about his findings and communications with the other side.  During his Australian tour, he told an audience in Melbourne:

I know what I say is true. The soul, which is the spiritual body and the exact image of the present body, emerges from it at death, an absolute likeness down to the smallest hair and dimple on the cheek, and passes on to the other world: There, minus the lime—the age-forming property of earthy existence—man resumes his normal strength and woman her normal beauty. That information we have received in incontrovertible terms from the departed. I have spoken repeatedly with eleven of my own relatives, and received messages whose intimate personal character, conveyed in the characteristic voice of the speakers, left no room whatever for doubt as to identity. The materialisation of my son, Kingsley, was in the presence of witnesses whom I could trust. I felt the pressure of his hand upon my head, his kiss upon my brow, and his voice, in a tone of great intensity, 'I am so happy, father.' 

The departed are trying by every conceivable means—automatic writing, direct voices, photography and absolute materialisation —to convey to us a knowledge of the conditions of the other life."

Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 - 1929), Monday 11 October 1920, page 2

Many of the things Doyle has said above are things that have been repeated to me over the years by people who have received similar information supposedly through spirit communication.  We can speculate, but we will only ever truly know when it is time.

Just before his death in 1930, Doyle's final written public words were

The reader will judge that I have had many adventures. The greatest and most glorious of all awaits me now.


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