Letters from a Living Dead Man

Letters from a Living Dead Man

Certain people among us have the gift of automatic writing, sometimes known as channeling.  Author, Elsa Barker had this ability and one evening in 1912, while living in Paris, she was inspired to write a message from a spirit at first identified only as Mr. X, but after sharing what she had written with a close friend, the friend said, “Why don’t you know who that is?  It turned out to be her friend, Judge David Patterson-Hatch. Thus began a series of letters from the other side describing Judge Hatch’s adventures in the afterlife. The letters were compiled and published in the book titled, “Letters From a Living Dead Man” in 1914.

Unbeknownst to Ms. Barker, at the time of the first message, Judge Hatch had just recently died six thousand miles away in California. This was confirmed by letter a few days later. She said at the time, “In that first book I did not state who the writer was, not feeling at liberty to do so without the consent of his family; but in the summer of 1914, while I was still living in Europe, a long interview with Mr. Bruce Hatch appeared in the New York Sunday World, in which he expressed the conviction that the “Letters” were genuine communication from his father, the late Judge David P. Hatch, of Los Angeles, California.” After that Elsa felt it would be OK to reveal his true name later on.

Who was Elsa Barker? Elsa Barker, poetess, novelist and writer, was born in 1869 in Vermont. Her father had been interested in the occult and she shared this interest. She became a member of the Theosophical Society and she was also initiated into the Rosicrucian Order. She was a teacher for a short period but moved on to writing articles for newspapers and syndicated magazines.  Somewhere along the line she met Judge Hatch and they became friends. The irony of her life is that she never became very well-known for her own books.

Letters from a Living Dead Man is a hopeful, inspiring after-death communication and which at the time in 1914, gained widespread popularity. It was hailed for helping remove the fear of dying. The book describes life after death in minute detail, including the consequences of suicide, how loved ones find each other, and the relationship with higher beings.

Judge David Patterson-Hatch

Judge David Patterson-Hatch

Who was Judge Hatch?  David Patterson-Hatch was born in 1846 in Maine to family of farmers. He obtained a law degree from Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor in 1872.  In 1875 he moved to Santa Barbara, California where he had a respectable practice. In 1880 he was elected Judge of the Superior Court.

Judge Hatch Was No Ordinary Man. He had a life-long interest in Metaphysics and Eastern Religions. And he would spend long periods of time in Nature, meditating in the woods. He was also a published author whose subjects included philosophy and the occult. When Judge Hatch died in 1912 the Los Angeles Times called him “a remarkable man” who was “exceptionally versed in the deep philosophies of life” and who had “obtained a deep knowledge of universal laws, which, although natural to himself, appeared as mysticism to those who had not followed his great mental strides”.

Here I’d like to share some excerpts of the letters which demonstrate the insights of this man and what he experienced on the Otherside.  The stories I share will, I feel, provide a range of contrasts which should demonstrate why it is so important to take your spiritual journey here on Earth seriously.

(Note that the following excerpts have been edited to remove redundancies and to make them more readable.)

LETTER XX – THE MAN WHO FOUND GOD  There seems to be no way in which I can better teach you about this life, than by telling my experiences with men and women here. One day I was walking on a mountain top. I saw a man standing alone. He was looking out and far away, but I could not see what he was looking at. He was communing with himself, or with some presence of which I was unaware. I waited for some time. At last, he turned his eyes to me and said, with a kind smile:  “Can I do anything for you, brother?”

I was embarrassed for a moment, feeling that I might have intruded upon some sweet communion. “If I am not too bold in asking,” I said, “would you tell me what you were thinking as you stood there looking into space?”

He looked at me in silence for a moment; then said:  “I was trying to draw near to God.”

“And what is God?” I asked; “and where is God?”  He smiled. I never saw a smile like his, as he answered:  “God is everywhere. God is.”

“What is He?” I persisted; and again he repeated, but with a different emphasis: ”God is.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.  “God is, God is,” he said.

“When you were on earth,” I said, “did you think much about God?” “Always. I thought of little else. I sought Him everywhere, but seemed only at times to get flashes of consciousness as to what He really was.  Finally, one day when I was alone in the woods, there came the great revelation. It came in a wordless and formless wonder, too vast for the limitation of thought. I must have lost consciousness, for after a while, I awoke, and got up and looked about me. Then gradually I remembered the experience which had been too big for me while I was feeling it.

“I could put into the form of words the realisation which had been too much for my mortality to bear, and the words I used to myself were, ‘All that is, is God.’ It seemed very simple, yet it was far from simple. ‘All that is, is God.’ That must include me and all my fellow beings, human and animal; even the trees and the birds and the rivers must be a part of God, if God were all that is.

“From that moment life assumed a new meaning for me. I could not see a human face without remembering the revelation that the human being I saw was a part of God. When my dog looked at me, I said to him aloud, ‘You are a part of God.’ When I stood beside a river and listened to the sound of its waters, I said to myself, ‘I am listening to the voice of God.’  Life became unbelievably beautiful.

Then the saint turned and left me, with all my questions unanswered, but he was gone. And he has given me something which I in turn give to you, as he himself desired to give it to the world. That is all for tonight.

The following story demonstrates what life might be like for those who enter the Afterlife unprepared.

I found this story to be non only very instructional but humorous as well!
The other day I met an acquaintance, a woman whom I had known for a number of years, and who came out about the time I did.  I asked Mrs. (Smith) how she was enjoying herself, and she said that she was not having a very pleasant time. She found that (people) did not want to talk with her. This was the first time I had met with such a complaint, and I was struck by its peculiarity. I asked her to what cause she attributed this unsociability, and she replied that she did not know the cause; that it had puzzled her.

“What do you talk to them about?” I asked.  “Why, I tell them my troubles, as one friend tells another; but they do not seem to be interested. How selfish people are!”

Poor soul! She did not realise here, that our troubles are not interesting to anybody but ourselves. “Suppose,” I said, “that you unburden yourself to me. Tell me your troubles. I will promise not to run away.”  “Why, I hardly know where to begin!” she answered. “I have found so many unpleasant things.”

“What, for instance?”  “Why, horrid people. (Such as) boarding-house landladies and their careless hired girls; but they are just as bad here—even worse.”

“Do you mean to tell me that you live in a boarding-house here?”  “Where should I live? You know that I am not rich.”

Of all the astonishing things I had heard in this land of changes, this was the most astonishing. A boarding-house in the “invisible” world!  Surely, I told myself, my observations had been limited. Here was a new discovery!

“Is the table good in your boarding-house?” I asked. “No, it is worse than at the last one.”

“Are the meals scanty?” “Yes, scanty and bad, especially the coffee.”

“Will you tell me,” I said, my wonder growing, “if you really eat three meals a day here, as you used to do on earth?”  “How strangely you talk!” she answered, in a sharp tone. “I don’t find very much difference between this place and the earth, as you call it. “I never know in the morning who will be sitting next me in the evening. They come and go.

“And what do you eat?” “The same old things—meat and potatoes, and pies and puddings.”

“And you still eat these things?”  “Why, yes; don’t you?”

I hardly knew how to reply. Had I told her what my life here really was, she would no more have understood than she would have understood two years ago, when we lived in the same city on earth.

So I said: “I have not much appetite.”  She looked at me as if she distrusted me in some way, though why I could not say. “Are you still interested in philosophy?” she asked. “Yes. Perhaps that is why I don’t get hungry very often.”  “You were always a strange man.”

“I suppose so. But tell me, Mrs. (Smith), do you never feel a desire to leave all this behind?” “To leave all what behind?”

“Why boarding-houses and uncongenial people, and meat and potatoes, and the shadows of material things in general.” “What do you mean by ‘the shadows of material things’?”

“I mean that these things, which you eat and do not enjoy, are not real. They have no real existence.”  “Why!” she exclaimed, “Have you become a Christian Scientist?”

At this I laughed heartily. Was one who denied the reality of astral food in the astral world a Christian Scientist, because the Christian Scientists denied the reality of material food in the material world? The analogy tickled my fancy.

I puzzled for a moment, trying to find a way by which the actual facts of her condition could be brought home to the mind of this poor woman. “Do you realise,” I said, “that you are only dreaming?”  “What!” she snapped at me.

“Yes, you are dreaming. All this is a dream—these boarding-houses, et cetera.” “If that is so, perhaps you would like to wake me up.”

“I certainly should. But you will have to awaken yourself, I fancy. Tell me, what were your ideas about the future life, before you came out here?”  “What do you mean by out here?”

“Why, before you died!” “But, man, I am not dead!”

“Of course you are not dead. Nobody is dead. But you certainly understand that you have changed your condition.” “Yes, I have noticed a change, and a change for the worse.”

“Don’t you remember your last illness?”  “Yes.”

“And that you passed out?” “Yes, if you call it that.”

“You know that you have left your body?” She looked down at her form, which appeared as usual, even to its rusty black dress rather out of date. “But I still have my body,” she said.

“Then you have not missed the other one?” “No.”

“Now you mention it,” she said, “I do recall having some trouble a year or two ago. I was quite confused for a long time. I think I must have been delirious.”

“Yes, doubtless you were,” I answered.  “Still,” I said, “I can take you to heaven now, perhaps, if you would like to go.” “Are you joking?”

“Not at all. Will you come?”  “Are you certain that I can go there without dying?

“But I assure you there are no dead.” As we went slowly along, for I thought it best not to hurry her too swiftly from one condition to another, I drew a word-picture of the place we were about to visit—the orthodox Christian heaven. I described the happy and loving people who stood in the presence of their Saviour.

“I have often wished to see Christ,” said my companion in an awe-struck voice. “Do you think that I can really see Him?”  “I think so, if you believe strongly that you will.”

“And what were they doing in heaven when you were there?” she asked.  “They were worshipping God, and they were happy.” “I want to be happy,” she said; “I have never been very happy.”

“The great thing in heaven,” I advised, “is to love all the others. That is what makes them happy. If they loved the face of God only, it would not be quite heaven; for the joy of God is the joy of union.”

Thus, by subtle stages, I led her mind away from astral boarding-houses to the ideas of the orthodox spiritual world, which was probably the only spiritual world which she could understand. But for this gradual preparation she could not have adjusted herself to the conditions of that world.

When we stood in the presence of those who worship God with song and praise, she seemed caught up on a wave of enthusiasm, to feel that at last she had come home. I held out my hand in the old way and said good-bye, promising to come again and visit her there, and advising her to stay where she was. Heaven has a strong hold on those who yield themselves to its beauty.

This story shows us one of the higher levels which is available to us.
Yes, I have seen angels, if by angels you mean spiritual beings who have never dwelt as men upon the earth. Shall I tell you of one whom I call the Beautiful Being? One night I seemed to be reclining upon a moon beam, and ecstasy filled my heart. For the moment I had escaped the clutches of Time, and was living in that etheric quietude which is merely the activity of rapture raised to the last degree. I must have been enjoying a foretaste of that paradoxical state which the wise ones of the East call Nirvana. I was vividly conscious of the moon beam and of myself, and it was the nearest I ever came to a realization of that supreme declaration, “I am.”

The past and the future seemed equally present in the moment. I heard a voice say, “Brother, it is I.” Standing before me was the Beautiful Being, radiant in its own light. Had it been less lovely I might have gasped with wonder; but the very perfection of its form and presence diffused an atmosphere of calm. I marvelled not, because the state of my consciousness was marvel. I was lifted so far above the commonplace that I had no standard by which to measure the experience of that moment.

Imagine youth immortalised, the fleeting made eternal. Imagine the brilliancy of a thousand lives concentrated in those eyes, and the smile upon the lips of a love so pure that it asks no answering love from those it smiles upon.

But the language of earth cannot describe the unearthly, nor could the understanding of a man grasp in a moment those joys which the Beautiful Being revealed to me in that hour of supreme life. For the possibilities of existence have been widened for me, the meanings of the soul have deepened. Those who behold the Beautiful Being are never the same again as they were before. They may forget for a time, and lose in the business of living the magic of that presence; but whenever they do remember, they are caught up again on the wings of the former rapture.

It may happen to one who is living upon the earth; it may happen to one in the spaces between the stars; but the experience must be the same when it comes to all; for only to one in the state in which it dwells could the Beautiful Being reveal itself at all.

Letters from a Living Dead Man was started in 1912 and published in 1914, just before the First World War broke out. After the publication of that book, Judge Hatch took a tour of the Celestial Realms and was going to write about his experiences there, except that when he returned he thought that it was more important to describe the effects that the War was having upon the Astral Realms, since they were so closely tied to the Earth. Judge Hatch went on to write two more volumes through Elsa Barker.  In 1915 – War Letters from the Living Dead Man, and in 1919 – Last Letters From the Living Dead Man.  Elsa Barker passed in 1954. All these books are available for free on the internet.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I and millions of others already have!

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting article. I didn’t know about Elsa Barker and her Letters. Thanks for sharing.
    My best thoughts,