In contact with the Side Beyond
The objects with which we maintained contact with the Side Beyond were called a cross and board.
The cross was a hoop; in the middle of it there was a stick pointing downwards with two crossed strips of wood.
The participants held the cross loosely and if an intelligence now wanted to have a word with us, it made the cross move using its powers and with the stick, it tapped the letters which were on the board in alphabetical order.
In this way words were formed, from which whole messages emerged.
We always prepared ourselves seriously for the séance evening.
We never started without praying first, father also often read a passage from the bible.
In this way we did everything in order to let the séance take place in a harmonious atmosphere.
Nevertheless, you must not think that the messages which the Side Beyond passed on to us were always high-principled and spiritual.
Only all too often we were shocked by the coarse, sometimes vulgar language, which the spirits passed onto us and as a result of which we felt as though we were in the rough end of Amsterdam.
We then felt close to wanting to throw the cross and board into a corner.
After all, we were not there for sensation, nor to hear dirty language, or to be presented with lies and deception.
But the wise, elevated lessons which reached us, the times that a master revealed himself, stopped us from putting an end to the séances.
Father usually asked the questions.
One evening when there was a solemn atmosphere and we were completely ready to give ourselves, a master revealed himself.
His words and sentences came across powerfully and clearly.
“May we know who you are?” father asked.
The answer came immediately.
“What does a name matter, friend of the earth.
What difference does it make to you whether I give you my name, after all, you will still not know me, will you?
But if you still wish to have a name, then call me Johannes.”
“Johannes!” father said surprised.
“But ... are you my dead brother then?”
“No, my friend, if I was, then I would already have told you that.
Did you think that I could have kept that to myself?
That I would have been able to control myself if I was your brother who had passed over and I was in contact with you again?
Know then, that we continue to love our relations and friends, even if we have finished our earthly life.
Death does not change anything, my friends, we also retain all our feelings after this life.”
“We are very grateful to you, good spirit”, father said and continued with: “May we ask you some questions?”
“Do that, I am waiting for them.”
Father asked: “Do you think that there will be a war?”
(footnote in first edition: These seances took place before the outbreak of the world war 1914-1918.)
“Yes, there will be a war, but your country will not be part of the war.”
We were greatly surprised to hear this stated so explicitly.
At the same time the terrible implication of the prediction got through to us.
So the world was faced with a new war again, which would mean fear and terror for millions of people.
“Why have new wars come to exist constantly?” father asked sadly.
“The meaning of the war for the earth can be traced, but only by us, who live on the other side of the grave.
If you knew the purpose of those wars, you would also know the reason for life on earth.
Volumes could be written to explain this mighty problem, but that is not our intention.”
“Would you not like to try anyway?”
“No, because I would not achieve anything by doing so.”
“Why not, if I may ask?”
“Because we would be constantly interrupted anyway.”
“But could you not make sure that there were no more disturbances?
Tell us what we must do about it, we will do anything for it.”
“It would still not be enough to release us from disturbances at the séances.”
And the following words which were spelled out already proved that the good spirit was right.
Because suddenly the cross tapped out: “Your mother is here”, and at the same time the cross went to my father.
Surprised, he answered:
“Are you not mistaken?
My mother is still alive!”
There was no answer, but the cross continued to turn violently.
Gradually, however, it became calmer.
Then it spelt out:
“Are you ready, because we are also ready.”
“Did you just say that my mother was here?” was father’s first question.
“I didn’t, friends.
That was a disturbance.”
“Is there no way of preventing them at all?”
“We are doing our best.
However, there is a lot to it.
Have you any more questions?”
“Will you tell us something about your life, good friend?
Is your life like ours; I mean, can you think and feel like on earth?”
“No”, was the immediate reply, “our life is very different to yours.
We have finished with the material part, our life is astral, it is spiritual.
There is nothing left in us which connects our life with your world.
But we can perceive, experience everything in your world if we want to, even if people on earth with you think that we are dead and have therefore dissolved.
Accept that there is no death and that life is eternal.
And that God, the Creator of all life, is love and does not know hatred.
Accept from me that He does not damn people and that He is not the one, who brings about wars.
The proof of His Love is visible to everyone who wants to see.
No one in the spheres of light will witness to this any differently than I do, because all of us live in and through His Love.
His Love emanates to each of His creatures and one day everyone, with no exceptions, will be taken up into His bliss.”
“We thank you for your words.
You make us very happy.”
“What I am telling you is the sacred truth.
I try to convince people on earth of eternal life.
If I achieve that and if they change their views, they will start to reflect and they will begin a higher life, then my world will also change as a result of this.
Because then I will serve, then I will work on a spiritual task and that will bring me more light and a higher heaven.
I advise you, also work on yourself, work on other people, serve them, tell them what you heard from me, and you will also gain light.
And God’s blessing will radiate upon you.”
“We are so grateful to you, master Johannes.
May we ask other questions?”
“No, friend, it is enough for this evening.
However, I will come back to you.
Greetings to you all, but now first pray and then leave it.”
Father prayed aloud and the rest of us prayed with him in serious and respectful gratitude.
This evening went really well, in this way we could learn a lot.
But if only every séance was like that!
The next time we sat down to a séance, more tense and longing than ever.
Master Johannes immediately came to the cross.
He spelt out:
“Greetings, my friends.
Life on our side is great, deep and sincere.
If there is light in you and you wish to learn, you can master a lot of things, one day our worlds will also open to you.
Then you can go where you like.
We have finished with our bodies.
We float through the universe, which belongs to us.
Everything which is to be found in our sphere and in the spheres underneath belongs to us, they are our reward.
And that is not so very small.
The further we are in spirit, the greater our knowledge of God’s mighty laws, the more beautiful our life and surroundings will become.
Why am I telling you this and why will I keep telling you this?
In order to inspire you to work on yourself, so that you will soon enter this glory.
Because know that these earthly pleasures, earthly life, are all only temporary; our happiness, our life, on the other hand, is eternal!
So do not despair, but work without stopping on increasing your love with regard to the life of God.”
“Can you tell us about life in your heaven?”
“Of course, my friend.
But in order to tell you about that, I would have to have ten evenings without interruptions.
Only then could I give you an idea of the sacredness of our side.”
“But that is possible, isn’t it, master Johannes?”
“That is what you think, but it is not that simple.
You will experience that, because disruptions will not stay away.
But continue to believe in me, even if I am forced from the cross, and my powers do not appear to be capable of controlling the disruptions.”
“No, master, we will always believe in you!”
Deeply convinced, father spoke these words on behalf of all of us.
“No one on earth knows himself, my friend”, was spelt out on the board, to our surprise.
“What do you mean now, master?”
“I mean to say that one day you will give up carrying on with the séances, anyway.
And that is probably the best thing as well, at least, for you.
Then why am I still here and why do I make an effort to pass on my lessons?
Because you will never forget them and you will be grateful for them in the future.”
Those words sounded mysterious.
Father did not know what to say to them.
It was silent for a moment and then – in order to steer the conversation in a different way – father asked the question which had already occupied us for some time and was often discussed by us:
“Have you already seen Christ?”
“I was allowed to have a glimpse into His holy Life, but to see Him means something entirely different, after all.”
“But we are taught on earth that if we have led a good life, after this life we will be with Christ?”
“Those who teach you that do not know about Eternal Life.
Yet we can admire God’s Holy Child, you and I, and when we want to.
This sounds strange, doesn’t it?
If I want to see Christ, my friends, then I tune into His holy Life, I will then see Him passing over the earth, I will see Him talking and meditating, I will see Him on the cross at Golgotha and I will then bow deeply.
You can also do that, His life on earth is familiar to you.
But ‘to see’ Christ, as He now is, to be with God’s son, no, that is not possible for you and me.
The thought alone is mocking His Holiness.
And to believe that we, you and I, can receive the Body and Blood of Christ in our state, as you learned on earth, is a terrible sacrilege.
But which one of us is worthy of this?
No, see Christ in His life on earth, reflect on its sacredness and bow deeply to it.
And then He will be with you, because you will follow Him in His holy Life.”
The cross floated for a moment above the board, as if to give everyone the opportunity to allow the words to be absorbed.
Then master Johannes continued with:
“Go to Golgotha, people of the earth, climb Mount Calvary and pray for strength in order to be able to look up at God’s Child, hanging on the cross.
Try to understand what kind of love must have moved Him to let Himself be nailed to the cross.
At Golgotha you will not be asked to drink His holy Blood, but to learn lessons, which He, descending to earth from the highest heaven, wanted to give humanity.
You and we, for our part, will then be connected through Christ with God and His laws.
‘I am the way, the truth and the life’, Christ said.
‘No one comes to the Father than through Me.’
By following Him, we, you and I and all people, will one day be with Him.
But then we, like He, will have to give everything, we will have to be completely like Him!
If we are to possess His Divine Love, His Divine Wisdom and His Divine Power!”
Deeply impressed, after these solemn words, we carried out master Johannes’ request to pray.
For a long time we sat quietly together and reflected upon his message.
Filled with gratitude, we thanked God that we were gifted with maintaining such contact with souls who had passed over, people like us, who thought and worked, and in all their happiness did not forget the souls who still plodded on in the sphere of the earth in order to master a higher life.
At the next séance, the first question which father asked was:
“Is there a purgatory and a hell, master Johannes?”
“A hell and a purgatory”, the answer immediately and clearly came from the master, “not as you were taught, no, we do not have that here.
There are hells here and there is a purgatory, but different, entirely different than you were told.
Do you really believe that a God of Love can approve that His Life will burn eternally in a hell?
That will never be possible!”
“So eternal damnation does not exist?”
“But the church says that, after all, and millions of people accept this on its authority, however terrible and contradictory they find the existence of that hell.”
“One day everyone will know that an eternal hell does not exist, that God does not damn His own Life, cannot damn.”
“Can you tell us more about this?”
“Friends of the earth, how I would like to tell you everything I know about God’s laws.
But you would not understand me, anyway.
Perhaps in the future, wait patiently.
Now just hold on to everything which I tell you these evenings.
Think about it, serve and do good.”
“It is often difficult, master Johannes, to know what is good and what is evil.”
“You have to learn to sense it yourself.
Test everything you do with love.
Test everything with pure Divine love and you will no longer be able to do wrong.
You will then learn to sense what is good and what is wrong.
I am with you, I will follow you and help you.
He who searches for the light, will get help from those who already possess the light and want to be a beacon.
These are laws and powers which work for everyone who seriously wants to start a higher spiritual life.”
“It is wonderful what you are giving us.
And the way it is going during the last séances, without any disturbances at all.
How can this suddenly be the case?”
“Do not clap your hands too soon, friend.
By talking in this way alone, you can be the cause of the disturbances.”
“I don’t understand, master.”
“The way of asking questions is of great importance to how the séances go.
But now I cannot go into this any further.
Have you any more questions?”
“Yes, one question, which has occupied us more than once and which no one has answered.
You told us that a new war would break out.
Can God not stop this war?”
“No, it is not possible for Him!” master Johannes’ answer came quickly and decisively.
“But you yourself kept calling God a Father of Love.”
“Exactly, good friend, but God has nothing, do you hear, nothing to do with your wars.
We people and only we are to blame for the coming war, remember this.
We wanted this war, all of us, who live on earth and here on the side beyond.
Can you accept this?”
“No”, father said hesitantly, and he frowned deeply.
“No, we do not understand that.”
“I am speaking the sacred truth.
But there is a good side to the war.
As a result of all the misery, we learn that we cannot progress further with hate and violence and that only love for one another can bring us happiness and peace.”
“And are all these terrible things necessary for this purpose?”
“Terrible things, my friend, which we bring upon ourselves!
Humanity and humanity alone is the reason for the misery in the world, because anyone who lives according to God’s laws does not create any misery and so does not have to fear any misery!
But it is God’s gain, because precisely as a result of these terrible things, the masses will learn, the individual will learn, as I already said, to cast aside evil and to search for good.”
“But, how, master?”
“Hold your tongue, dopehead!”
We got a terrible fright.
We had to accept that a mocking ghost had forced master Johannes off the board.
With regret we came to admit that disturbances could not be avoided.
Even a spirit of the light, a master could not prevent them!
Father asked hesitantly: “Are you still there, master Johannes?”
“Yes!” was the answer, which was spelt out.
“But ... why did you change so much?”
Distrust could clearly be heard in father’s voice.
“I have not changed, idiot.”
Slowly, hesitantly, the cross tapped out the letters.
From this it could also be seen that another influence was controlling the cross.
Not really knowing what to do, we followed the uncertain, wavy moments of the cross.
Suddenly it addressed the board again and now wrote with force and without hesitation:
“Stop now and pray.
Go dancing with your wife, give her that.”
Were these the final words again of master Johannes?
Or was it still the mocking spirit who spelt them out?
But how could it be that they came through so clearly and without mistakes or uncertainty and without any swearing, as in the previous sentences of the interrupter?
Holding séances was difficult, after all, everyone thought.
We departed with mixed feelings.
It was especially difficult for my father, finally the advice written down was his concern, to adjust purely to the strange event.
He blamed himself that he had not asked any good questions, so that the disturbance was caused by him.
“Everything was going so well”, he complained on the way home, “and then suddenly that mocking spirit!
Is there nothing at all that can be done about it?
And what should I make of that last part, Theo, was that really master Johannes who came to the cross?
If that is the case, and it is possible after all, did I behave wrongly towards mother then?
Should I have gone with her?
Was it not wrong then what she did?
Was it wrong of me to agree to the divorce?
Should I have kept her with me precisely and moved heaven and earth to give her better thoughts?
Is it not actually cowardly of me to just accept that she has left our lives?”
I did my best to remove his depressing thoughts, but I did not succeed.
What happened at the séance would not leave him alone, in all seriousness, he said to me a few days later that he was thinking of going back to mother.
The words of the intelligence had made it clear to him that he was still responsible for mother.
At least that is how he felt.
“But what if it was not even master Johannes who said those words and we were involved with a mean trick from the mocking spirit?” I asked him.
He then shrugged his shoulders in despair, if the last part was true, what could you believe about the séances then?
If even a master is not capable of preventing such a mean disturbance ...
But surely an angel has power over a devil?!
Was it not all deception and so were all the opponents of spiritualism not right, when they called this carry-on the work of the devil, which decent people should keep well away from?
Yes, father was already at this point ...
I saw only one salvation and suggested to him to hold a séance together, it would perhaps clarify things as a result of which his depressing thoughts would disappear.
He immediately accepted my suggestion and we soon had contact.
“Why do you allow yourself to become so unbalanced, friend?” the cross wrote.
“Can you not distinguish truth from deception, good from evil then?
Did I not already warn you beforehand that there would be disruptions?
You told me then that you would always believe in me.
How can you listen to the beings who represent lies and deception?
It does not credit your personality that a few pathetic words can rob you of your certainty like that.
Your wife has chosen her own path.
She did not want to be changed by you.
You did what you could.
Now she will have to learn for herself that she is searching for the wrong thing.
Life alone can still teach her, not you.
So you are not to blame, my friend, accept this from me.
Do not interfere in her life anymore, and do not immediately believe the nonsense which mocking spirits want to present you with.”
Ashamed, and in a soft tone my father answered: “Thank you, master Johannes, can you forgive me?”
“Let this be a lesson to you.”
“But may I ask you this: Can you tell me where those mocking spirits suddenly came from like that, how could they suddenly overcome us like that?”
“It was you yourself who attracted them.
The misery of your married life still lives in you, even if you were not thinking about it during the séance.”
“But how could those spirits know that at that moment?”
“That is very simple, they read it in your aura”, master Johannes answered briefly and severely.
“Am I so bad then?”
“That has nothing to do with bad, my friend.
At the time when you hold a séance you are completely open to the Side Beyond.”
“Also to bad beings?”
“Unfortunately, yes, also to darkness.”
“Can nothing be done about it then?”
Father asked this, in despair.
“No, not for the moment.”
“And can you not prevent the demons from disrupting our evenings either, master Johannes?”
For that matter, they are not demons, a demon does not come to you, dear friend.
A dark spirit is not a demon.
They are unfortunate people, if you wish to know.”
“And would they be able to read our auras then, master?
It is difficult to accept.”
“Yet that is the way it is.”
Quietly but strongly the cross tapped out the letters, steered by the spirit of the light.
It was a pleasure to see the sentences being constructed.
“When you hold a séance, your inner life is completely open.
So you still live on earth amongst the darkness.
But you possess light.
Is it so difficult to understand then that the unfortunate people on our side, who are destined to darkness and cold, come here to warm themselves by you and others?
If one of you has even a single thought tuned into them, then a connection will already take place, and it is as a result of this that the higher being disappears.
Then you experience that nonsense is spelt out.
They cannot cause any more misery, these beings who are not demons.
Demons have animal poison in them, achieving a connection with them can mean insanity for you.”
“Will it therefore always remain difficult to get good séances, master?
Is this environment not good for holding séances?”
“Different dark influences indeed live here, but it is the same everywhere.
Of course, every room, every house has its own harmony, which is created by those who live there.
But imagine that you hold a séance in the open, that your room is therefore open to every spirit, whether it is in the light or in the dark.
I will now advise you of the following: Always try to empty your mind during the séances, it will never be completely possible, for this is too great a skill, but at least do the best you can.
I have to disengage the thoughts and emotions of you and the other people present in order to at least make it difficult for the interrupters to get through to you.
After all, the emptier your mind, the less the lower beings can read into your emotions and the easier it is for me to control you and absorb you into my life.
It will be for the good of what I have to tell you.”
“We will try to do what you say.
But may I ask another question?
Perhaps I am asking it inadequately, but ...
Do these spirits also know my wife?”
“Of course they know her, they can follow her, after all.
Do you not understand it yet at all?
The astral being reads the longings in her aura, which are present in her.
It is a person himself who opens wide the doors of his soul and lets the lower beings in.
And the dark ones keep on coming back, after all, they want to experience things on earth.”
“How awful, master.
So they have a good time through her?”
“That is the way it is, my friend.
Only when she sees the wrong of her actions and starts to resist her low-life longings with all her strength and finally conquers them, only then will she be freed from these beings, which she now attracts herself, after all, they will leave her, because there will be nothing more for them to experience through her.”
The words which the cross now tapped out, surprised me and also father.
Master Johannes wrote:
“Your son must try to write one day.
I will then try to record through him what I have to say to you.
It will be quicker this way.”
The cross became still.
I fetched some paper and a pencil and sat down, full of excitement, waiting for the things which were to come.
We did not have to wait long, soon my hand started to move without me doing anything and it wrote letters, words and sentences.
“My child, I want to try to write through you.
Empty your mind, if you want to give yourself completely I will be able to give you spiritual nourishment.
Do not think for yourself, it will be me who ...”
But we were greatly disappointed because suddenly a mocking spirit forced master Johannes away, he made himself master of my hand and wrote:
“So, brat, do you too have to start?
Do they want you to be a spirit?
Go to school instead, monkey, or throw caution to the winds.
What are you doing here anyway?
Let your mother make you some porridge and then go to bed.”
I threw away the pencil, but at father’s insistence, who said that we had to persist, I picked up the pencil again anyway.
Then my hand wrote:
“You have to be patient, friends, because there are disruptions.
I cannot do anything about it, you have to get through it, if you want to have good séances.
Patience is needed for this.
It is not easy to become a good medium, you have to give everything for that.
Neither you or anyone in the universe gets anything for nothing.
This is the writing medium gift, but as a result of inspiration.
The following will happen: I will connect my feelings to your feelings.
You may not think, I already told you, because then you will disturb me.
So you must release yourself from your earthly worries.
I will push my thoughts through you, so you will know beforehand what your hand will write down.”
“It is wonderful, master Johannes”, father said, when he saw that my hand was still and he had read what was written.
“May I ask you a question?”
“No”, my hand wrote, and it was remarkable that I did indeed already know what would come, “it is enough for this evening, your son would become too tired and that must not happen.
I do not want to exhaust him.
Now I bid you good night, I will go but I will be back.”
My hand remained still, now that the powers which controlled it had disappeared.
So I had the gift of a writing medium, the spirits could reach me and pass on their messages through me.
Father’s face was radiant, he was so happy with the possibilities, which this method of communication offered in order to convince other souls of eternal life.
But it was strange, I myself could not be happy with it.
It was impossible for me to express the feeling I had, but I was not keen to write ...
However, so as not to temper father’s enthusiasm, I remained silent.
He kept bringing the subject up again.
“How wonderful it is, Theo, that you are allowed to write.
How many people are able to do that and are allowed to do that?
We will shake them awake, make them wiser, convince them that there is no death, but only life.
Master Johannes will help us.
He will give us spiritual nourishment for all those people who long to be able to know.
We must do our best, son, perhaps we will get good séances.
So let’s do exactly what master Johannes said, empty our minds, not think and tune ourselves into the higher things.”
At the following séance we were with the others again.
The cross lay with the point upwards on the board, we had laid our hands loosely on it.
Suddenly it started to move, it went upwards and came back.
However, while the first letters were being tapped out, I started to feel sleepy, but it soon went away again.
Then my hand reached for the pencil lying ready and it started to write.
“If there is light in you, why are you still in despair?
Why do you keep thinking of the war which is threatening?
But you were supposed to tune into the higher life, weren’t you?”
Father read what was written with surprise.
“Can you follow our thoughts so sharply, master?” he asked.
“I already told you that before.
Put those bad thoughts out of your head.
Otherwise, you know that, you will draw wrong influences towards you.
Tune into us and banish earthly misery from your thoughts.
Only follow those things which give you joy and peace.
And now, ask your questions, if you have any.”
“Did you pass over long ago, master?” father then asked, who had already remarked to us before that he would like to know a bit more about master Johannes, his personality and his life.
“What is long, what is time, my friend, if life is eternal?
We do not know time here in the spheres, life here is eternal, even if the spheres will dissolve one day.”
“But does that not mean that there is an end, after all?”
“Yes and no.
In the sense that you mean, yes, but as far as we know, no.
We have earned the spheres, the heaven, in which we live, it is our reward.
However, we do not stand still, we work on ourselves more and more powerfully, our love for the life of God becomes more and more spiritual, greater and greater, our knowledge of His Laws becomes more conscious and in this way we go higher and higher, we penetrate God’s World deeper and deeper, just as long as until we have reached the All, the Divine Spheres.
Then the underlying spheres will dissolve, but nevertheless they will not disappear, and this is because they are our reward, and we can build them up again for ourselves by simply tuning into them in order to be in complete unity with them.
Can you feel this?”
“Not completely, master, but we will think about it.”
“Try to master love and you will build a sphere of light.
The happiness which awaits you there will be great.
So great that it cannot be described.
I would like to tell you many things about our world, the world which awaits you.
But ask me.”
After a slight hesitation, father asked: “Are you a man or a woman, master?”
“Didn’t I know it, that you would ask me this question sooner or later?
But, friend, what does it matter if you know?
In the sphere we feel neither like a man or a woman.
We feel like both.
Does this surprise you?”
“Yes, very much even, after all, we have never heard of that.
I have not read anything about that yet in the books either.”
“I was following you when you were reading.
It was in the books.
However, you did not feel this depth.”
“Can you tell us more about this, master?”
But we would not receive any more that evening.
I got the feeling that disruptions were threatening, because my hand suddenly wrote: “Perhaps at the following séance, you must stop now.
Greetings and leave after the prayers.”
Father and I held a séance the following evening, we did not need to wait long, my hand soon started to write.
“I am in your midst again, friends of the earth, children of eternity, in order to bring you spiritual nourishment.
I greet you.
You are connected to eternal life.
On the way here your love and longing for spiritual help already came to me.
I am grateful for your feelings.”
“Do you want to tell us more now, master, about ‘being a man and a woman’ in the spheres?”
Immediately after this question, my hand began to write.
“In order to let you understand everything properly, I would have to give you a cosmic image; however, then you would not be able to follow me.
I will do my best to explain everything as simply as possible, so that it will at least be clear to you to a certain degree.
Of course, we are not genderless in the spheres, we are of course either a man or a woman.
But there is a difference between your situation and ours, namely, an earthly person who is still material and is not spiritually tuned, feels like either a man or a woman, he only knows the feelings which belong to his or her gender.
However, we, who have discarded the earthly body, feel universal, our emotional life is tuned to the universe.
We feel like both man and woman, feel like both father and mother.
We mastered the feelings of both, which was only possible after much conflict.
We started to feel universal and love universally!
So we feel like neither man nor woman, because we feel like both.
And accept this from me as well: also God, the Creator of all life, is father and mother.”
Deeply impressed with what master Johannes wrote down, father allowed himself to take in the words.
But before he could ask another question, a terrible disturbance destroyed the sacredness of the moment.
While we thought about the words of the master, my hand lay quietly on the paper in expectation of a new question.
Then I suddenly felt a severe cramp coming into my hand.
Thinking that master Johannes wanted to start writing again, I let my hand go.
However, we got the fright of our lives when we read:
“How people can search, can’t they?
Yuck, what pathetic creatures you are.”
“Are you a mocking spirit?” father uttered.
“Mocking spirit, mocking spirit?” was written down and we felt the sarcasm in the words.
The hand continued: “But what are you searching for in our world?
Is there not enough to experience where you are?
But search for it in your own world, there is such a lot to be had there.
A nice drink, women.
You are the living dead, you are not alive.”
I threw the pencil away.
But father convinced me to take it up again.
“Perhaps it is an unhappy person, whom we can help.
We can do good work”, he argued.
I took up the pencil again and sentences were immediately formed.
“I can tell you a lot.
There is the mother, for example, one person searches for it with the mother, but he is father.
If you have nothing from either of them, you feel really cheated.
Then you are genderless, so to speak.
You are really dopey, say.
I looked at father.
“Do we have to continue with this?” I asked him.
Against my will I released my hand.
“I am just saying, you either like a drink, or you don’t.”
“Who are you?”, father asked.
“Piet Hein, but I miss my silver fleet and that is a great pity.”
Father and I had to laugh for a moment.
“So you are a mocking spirit, aren’t you?” father asked.
I wanted to stop, put the pencil aside, but my hand held it tightly.
So they wanted to continue writing.
“No, do not stop.
You have to let me finish.”
“Then tell me who you are”, father started to say.
“I will tell you, but then believe me and do not laugh at me.
I am Napoleon, that small, but extremely powerful man, that Corsican, you know.
It is wonderful to talk to you.”
“Surely you are not trying to maintain that you are Napoleon, are you?”
“No, I am just kidding.”
“You are unhappy.
You must start a different, better life.
A life like this is nothing, it is cold and empty.”
“Is that what you think, wretch”, was the immediate reply.
“Do you think that you know it, iron king?
That you could help me?
I will sort that out myself, I do not need you for that.
You will just help me from the frying pan into the fire anyway.
And I do not like your faces.
You should have dealt with your wife better.
Then she would not have run off.”
Father got a fright.
“Where did you get that from?”
“You see that I know that!”
“I have no reply to that nonsense”, father said and continued: “I am asking you, can we help you?”
“Yes, but not with a little bit of praying.
Downstairs in your hardware store there are things which make me shiver.
I am drawn to them and have to keep looking at them.
Will you get rid of them?”
“What is annoying you there then?”
If you knew me, you would run off.”
“Are you so dangerous then?”
“I am only dangerous when I see axes.
Otherwise I will eat out of your hand.”
But my hand immediately wrote: “Do you have to laugh at that?
It is pitiful enough.
I hate axes.
You can murder people with them.
And every hit strikes home as well.”
Father shrugged his shoulders.
“You would be better to ...”
Before father could finish, my hand wrote: “Just stop your moaning.
Instead do what I ask.
And now just go to sleep, do you understand me, gentlemen?
Sleep – and I will lie down amongst you – the peace which comes over me ...
I will sleep for eternity, and ... forget.
Sometimes I would like to write poetry.
Where does it come from?
I do not know.
Listen ... your housekeeper is no good.
You should have hired a different one.
Then I could have felt some warmth.
This one is too dry, much too dry.
This one does not want anything.
I am at home here and I have rights as well.
Your own wife was a darling.
She loved it, she was of use to me.
Will you do it, will you hire another one?
It is boring here, you know.
I have been living here for so long.
I have to live here, even if I wanted to leave.
It is deadly serious for me.”
“Did you commit suicide?” father asked tensely.
“Something like that.
I killed and you may not kill.
Take care of the axes later.
They are going to drive me mad sometime.
I have to live here.
But damn it, if you...”
I threw away the pencil and went to wash my hands.
My reluctance to write had grown into antipathy.
I would not be a part of that nonsense, I decided.
Father was not very keen on it anymore either.
It was a pity about the wonderful séances with master Johannes, but at the end of the day you were never certain that it was him and only him who addressed us.
A person who had committed suicide lived in our house.
It had to be dangerous to hold séances there.
We decided to stop the séances completely.
Father wanted to leave the house.
He thought that here he would never be released from the misery which he had had to endure through the years.
We moved to Rotterdam where father bought a shop.
I managed it mainly, while he rested and read.
If the longing to renew contact with the Side Beyond overcame us now and again, the horrible memory of the countless disruptions was enough not to proceed.
However, we did read and kept thinking about the beautiful, often deep words of master Johannes.
In this way a number of peaceful years passed.
Father became quieter and quieter, his health deteriorated.
I did not believe that I would have him with me for much longer.