Dowsing and dying (or at least an appreciation of the process of passing over) are two intertwined interventions into the non-physical world.
The late Hamish Miller was probably not the first to be opened up to the potential of our ancient craft by a Near Death Experience (NDE). A deeply rational, articulate and intelligent man, Hamish was convinced that he had spent a while in a world beyond this world after experiencing an NDE in the aftermath of major surgery. The event, described in It’s Not Too Late, and retold in A Life Divined, explains how a hard-nosed businessman and engineer exchanged his worldview to become one of the UK’s most revered dowsers.
He is not alone. Around the world and across a variety of cultures, millions of people down the ages have recalled NDEs – and at least some of them have subsequently embraced dowsing. Miller’s brief sojourn through the veil left him a profoundly changed individual, quite fearless of his own death – to the extent that he even regarded the imminent end of this mortal coil as a ‘rather exciting’ prospect, to which he was ‘quite looking forward’!
The first half of the presentation by retired bereavement counsellor and Death Café organiser, Anne Hughes, was a deeply personal account of the passing over of her late husband, John – an experience that started her out on this particular part of her journey. The lengthy process – John lived for 10 years after his first heart attack – brought her into extended contact with what death means to both the participant and to their immediate community.
The full account, from which she sampled extracts, has been self-published as a short book, The Consciousness of Ash.
Anne is someone who has mingled and worked with numerous people who have been through the dying process, either in person, professionally, or as a close friend or relative of the one going through the transition. Although a solidly-grounded person by nature, her experiences have led her to question the current level of understanding about what it is to leave one’s body behind, and to appreciate that the present scientific explanation is – at best – incomplete. Science has brought us huge benefits and great knowledge, yet the interpretation of that data sometimes seems at odds with our own personal experience.
Anne’s story of how a member of the TDs passed over in 2015, during a celebration walk to acknowledge the Summer Solstice – in the presence of both Anne herself and several fellow dowsers – was both moving and reassuring. While it can be slightly academic to hear the accounts of other people and their friends, here was one of us, passing over in full view and broad daylight – undeniably real world, real people, real experience.
The next step in the AH journey has been to be part of a group of Cornish collaborators, who have established a not-for-profit organisation entitled Confortia. Their aim is to provide help, information and support to those approaching death – and to those left behind, who are dealing with the consequences of the death of another.
Their involvement has included the establishment, in Liskeard, of an occasional Death Café (think cyber café, but with added significance) – a pop-up environment for small groups, enabling individuals to open up in safe and convivial surroundings. Although based on the national Death Café template, this is very much a local initiative, with a number of other market towns and villages in the area already interested in learning from Anne’s experience.
Confortia is as earthy and factual as it is unavoidably esoteric. One of many topics currently in focus is the problem of funeral poverty. As people live longer on reduced means, and with ever more dispersed families, an increasing number of those about to leave us are unable to pay for their chosen mode of departure. Anne pointed out that many of the assumed necessities for burial or cremation are anything but – and that an expensive exit in the hands of a private company or a religious institution is a considered choice, not a statutory requirement.
Confortia not only seeks to demolish a few myths in this respect, but is seeking to put pressure on the custodians of unclaimed estates within the Duchy (which have wealth but no recipients), to fund a charity to provide for those who have reasonable requirements but no money.
The afternoon ended with members of the group exchanging experiences about the deaths of friends and relatives that they had witnessed or heard about. Everyone seems to have a cameo tale concerning death or dying. Even the most materialistic of us will discreetly share an unexplained feeling, sensation or experience in the presence of fellow travellers.
The cycle of lives is always a hot topic in dowsing circles. Quite apart from those who routinely deal with dowsable information from the spirit world, the whole concept of consciousness and self-awareness goes right to the heart of how – and perhaps more importantly why – dowsing exists at all.
If our whole interpretation of the world around us is just our way of comprehending the information field of which we are an integral part, then (to misquote Shakespeare) death truly has lost its sting.
Many thanks to Anne Hughes for giving such a warm, personal and quietly engaging introduction to a topic, which can be so difficult for so many. Thanks, too, to all those who helped to stage this important event.