I pondered including some sort of reference to earth-bound spirits in the title of this post, but the words selected also work. For an earth-bound spirit is in a state of deception, either self-imposed or from general confusion, usually locked in by a deep-seated connection to some physical object or person.
In this post I will share some generalities about the rapidly declining belief in the LDS community of the true nature of the spirit world around us and attempt to relate a personal experience of one such spirit who has come to me many times over the years. She is earth-bound and has been since 1858.
The doctrine this post is based on can be found in this quote from the prophet Joseph:
“One great evil is that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government, intelligence &c., and imagine that when there is any thing like power, revelation, or vision manifested that it must be of God … is there any intelligence communicated? are the curtains of heaven withdrawn, or the purposes of God developed? have they seen and conversed with an angel; or have the glories of futurity burst upon their view? … A man must have the discerning of spirits, before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors: for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit, when they think they have the spirit of God.”
Source: “Times and Seasons, 1 April 1842,” p. 744, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 18, 2021, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/times-and-seasons-1-april-1842/10
Appropriateness in Sharing Testimonies
A few years ago, I got tired of being constantly visited by a spirit who seemed to be somehow growing in her capability to make her presence, and her wishes known to me. I would never share this in a testimony meeting (not allowed anyway). To me, it is sacred and impossible to relate properly unless you too have had a similar experience.
When I served in the Bishopric, we sometimes discussed the words of individuals who shared what might be considered “inappropriate” or “misguided” statements in their public testimonies. A member of the bishopric would sometimes be assigned to talk to “brother so-and-so” about the way he expressed his thoughts or feelings publicly.
The Church Asks we Focus on the Basics
For example, one brother would often say, “I’m supposed to say to you …” or “I’ve been told to tell you …” The Bishop would shake his head. In one particular ward, the boundaries which included a state mental hospital, it got to the point where we discussed the idea of physically blocking certain individuals from coming to the stand.
We had witnessed too many cringe-worthy moments as these individuals expressed their thoughts in ways that were not considered orthodox, and in fact, are now judged as heretical. The thing is, their expressions, in my view, conformed with early Mormon beliefs. However, what they shared goes way beyond the five basic points expected.
Don’t Talk About Spiritual Experiences
In particular, two individuals living in this state-run mental institution would share stories of being visited by various spirits and what the spirits would say to them. Their testimonies made others uncomfortable, at which point the bishop would arise, thank them for their comments and escort them off the stand. This happened more than once.
This always fascinated me because I could tell when the individual was sharing something based on reality and when it was clear they were simply a bit delusional or “off their meds.” No matter, the important thing was it caused members in the pews to squirm, some to even walk out to the growing “church of the foyer.” It was problematic.
This is Not Some Strange Doctrine
I was assigned to be the home teacher to one such individual and enjoyed wonderful conversations with him in the halfway house. Most of the time he was lucid and you would think you were chatting with a friend who happened to be in town for a short visit. Other times, he seemed hesitant to share, as if he wasn’t sure he could trust me with what he was really feeling.
Over time, he opened up a bit more when he saw I did not lose interest as he told of yet another visit from the spirit world. I believe the man was born with an uncommon sensitivity (a gift) that is not shared by 99% of the people you and I know. Because of these experiences, and perhaps from the responses of others, he suffered from medically-controlled paranoia.
There Are Still a Few Who Understand
At the end of this post, I’ll include links to some previous posts I have shared on the subject in case you are interested. In particular, I have been educated and enlightened by comments and writings shared by Doug Mendenhall, Dr. Edith Fiore, Jan Graf, Dr. Wesley Craig, Dr. Mel Fish, Dr. Brad May, Dr. Bradley Nelson, Dr. Christopher Palmer and many others.
The topic is well documented but it simply no longer fits in with the contemporary LDS way of thinking about life and the influence of the spirit world around us. For the most part, most members have no clue about the spirit world, are afraid to bring it up and truly frightened by what they discover when they dig a little.
Spirit Attachments More Common Than we Think
It seems we no longer truly believe the Lord’s statement that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” I can tell you from personal experience such is the case. However, if your spirit is susceptible to the influences of these earth-bound spirits, they return often. It’s as if they are attracted to a magnet or a moth to a flame.
My goal has always been to help them move on and join family and friends who are awaiting them. I wish I could share some of the many examples I have collected from others who practice casting out that clearly illustrate this point. But I am hesitant as they still practice and I have not asked their permission to quote.
I am Not the Only One With This Gift
Perhaps my own experience will suffice. I do not have permission to share some of the others, even though you can read similar examples in books from Doug Mendenhall and Mel Fish (See page 205 from Mel’s book The Search for Light and Truth for example. He refers to a woman whom he names Martha (not her real name). Sadly, both Mel and Doug have recently passed and for some reason,
I can find no valid site where Mel’s books can be purchased anymore.
Correction: Thanks to Russell Anderson for the following: The Mel Fish books are still available. But you have to look for Melvin Fish.
Update: Better yet, Mel’s site is back up and books can be ordered online again: https://drmfish.com/
A few years ago, I awoke from yet another dream about this woman, whom I shall name Elizabeth. She was a young woman, from England and was travelling on a steamship to America. Once again, I saw her sanding on the deck, wind in her hair, a shawl around her, looking happy and expectantly toward the front of he vessel, which was journeying to America.
The Dream Turns Into a Dialog
I was intrigued. I knew she was not alone. She was pregnant, but I was not aware of where the father of her child was. He never appeared in my dreams, only Elizabeth. I also did not know exactly where she came from, or what year it was until I asked her. By this time I was fully awake. I had experienced this scene before.
Please don’t think this weird. It is uncommon for me to converse with the subjects of my dreams except when I am asleep. In this case, the dialog took place immediately upon awaking. And no, I didn’t “hear” verbal answers in my ears, only in my mind. Again, please don’t judge unless you have experienced it – yes, I “hear” voices.
My Conversation With an Earth-Bound Spirit
“What is your name and where are you from?” I said.
“My name is Elizabeth. We are from around Southampton, but did not live in the town proper.
“What do you mean, we?”
“My mother kept the bar downstairs. I hardly ever saw her.”
“So, you spent most of your day alone upstairs?”
“Nathan lived with us until he went to sea with the Hamburg line.”
“So, Nathan is your brother?” I said.
“No. A man my mother lived with at one time brought him to live with us.”
“So, Nathan is not your brother. Is he the father of the child you were carrying?”
“Yes. Nathan was very kind. He taught me to read. He loved me.”
“So, he went away to sea, but you arranged to meet him to go to America.”
“Yes. My mother did not want me. She had all her boyfriends from the tavern.”
“I think I get it. What year did you live and when did you leave for America?”
“I think I was born in 1843. We sailed for America in 1858.”
“In my dream, you are alone but always standing on the deck and looking to the West. Where is Nathan?”
“Nathan has gone on.”
Nathan has Gone to the Light
“What do you mean?” I said.
“He does not like to come here. He is in a different place.”
“I’ll bet he has gone to the light to be with his family.”
“I’m his family.” Elizabeth sounded angry. “He shouldn’t have left me.”
“Why didn’t you go with him?” I said.
“We were on our way to America together. We were going to have our family together.”
“I do a lot of family history research. You’re obviously not one of my ancestors.”
“No. I told you. We came from Southampton.”
“What happened. Did the ship capsize? Did you drown?”
“It was horrible. Nathan was working below deck. He worked for the steamship line. That was his job.”
“What do you mean?”
“The fire. He was near where the fire broke out. I could not get to him. It all happened so fast.”
“Wait. You’re telling me you died by fire on a steamship travelling to America in 1858.”
“Yes. Don’t you believe me?”
“You realize you died almost one hundred years before I was born? And you’ve been coming to visit me in my dreams for almost fifty years. I should have asked you this long ago. You also realize I should be able to look all this up.” Obviously my intent was to ascertain if this was a lying spirit sent to deceive me.
And I did. It did not take long to find exactly the name of the ship, the SS Austria, and what happened. The ship came from Hamburg, but picked up passengers in Southampton where Elizabeth embarked (Nathan was already on board). I can tell you at this point I was feeling a little shocked by my verifiable discovery.
Apparently the ship’s doctor had a member of the crew fumigate the “steerage” area of the ship (where the poor folks traveled). He did so by dipping a red-hot chain into a bucket of hot tar. Unfortunately, he dropped the chain and the ship caught fire. Nearly 450 passengers and crew drowned or were burned.
The Purpose of the Dream
I’ve asked the Lord many times about the purpose and interpretation of this dream. As far as I can tell, no message was delivered. She did not say or even intimate she had a message. She confirmed she is not a relative. I have had additional dialog with her in which I asked why she keeps coming to me. She says I remind her of her Nathan.
I’ve tried to reason with her. I’ve tried to teach her. I’ve told her where Nathan is and that he is waiting for her. But her mind seems to be made up, stuck even, on the fact that she is coming to America to have her baby. She is angry at times, tells me she feels cheated, that life isn’t fair and that somehow, someday she will “wake up” in America.
I am convinced this is a stuck spirit. She is earth-bound. Her heart and mind are fixed on the idea, the hope, the dream that she will arrive in the land of opportunity (think of the America in 1858, not today). If I can’t get her to move on to the light, to be with Nathan, she will find someone else to come to in their dreams even long after I pass on.
The Only Solution is Forgiveness
I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had her convinced she needed to forgive the ship’s doctor, the crewmember who dropped the hot chain which started the fire and especially to forgive Nathan for moving on. I think that’s where she is stuck. She continues to look for Nathan in this mortal world. Engaged in self-deception, she qualifies as a false spirit.
Perhaps I need to share with her Joseph’s statement from the King Follett sermon about mothers being able to raise their children who died in infancy. But how to help her understand? She was probably in her first trimester. She and Nathan were probably not married (yet). Young, barely educated poor folks often did not marry. It seems to me they eloped.
“A question may be asked—“Will mothers have their children in eternity?” Yes! Yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life, for their debt is paid. There is no damnation awaiting them for they are in the spirit. But as the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead, and be for ever living in the learning of God. It will never grow [in the grave]; it will still be the child, in the same precise form [when it rises] as it appeared before it died out of its mother’s arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God. …”
Sources for the story of the SS Austria:
A third: https://ltwilliammowett.tumblr.com/post/624103310338785280/the-sinking-of-ss-austria-1858-by-eugene
One more: http://wp.ripernet.com/heur-rieper-fireman-on-the-ss-austria-1858-572/
Original clipping: https://digital.libraries.psu.edu/digital/collection/pabooknews/id/761