“If anyone is going to teach us the value of life and how to live it, it’s going to be the dead”
Exploring the afterlife with dr. Julia Assante: an interview by Femke Wijdekop
Julia Assante is a social historian of the ancient Near East. She is a well-established scholar with a PhD from Columbia University who lives in Germany and considers ABC Amsterdam one of her favourite places in the world (!). She is also a professional intuitive and medium with more than 30 years of experience in the field of remote viewing, healing arts, afterdeath communication, remembering the future and reincarnational recall.
Combining her scientific knowledge, spiritual insight and experiences as a medium she has written one of the most fascinating books I have read in years: The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death (ebook availablere here).
Julia, what made you decide to write a book about the afterlife?
Well, the immediate thing was the death of a very beloved friend of mine. I watched his death, I watched him leave his body, I watched the problems he was having getting out – because they kept trying to resuscitate him – and it was the frustration he had trying to get through to me afterwards. I had so many problems – electronic problems – in the house. For 11 days I had these problems: fax machines twittering and the phone ringing, and even the door of my New York City apartment was open in the mornings – that’s scary – lights blinking all that kind of thing. And I knew what it was but I kept avoiding it. I was so busy with his funeral and everything else. And finally I was in the kitchen and he stood there – huge, larger then life. There is a transparency to the dead when you see them that clearly – usually you don’t see them clearly at all. And the look of sorrow and panic that he couldn’t be heard. And finally I acknowledged him – and then the relief, the gratitude, the spread of love – little sparks came of his aetheric body. And we started conversing – I mean really conversing. He was so ‘newly dead’ that you could hear it word for word. It was amazing. It went on for one hour and it was passionate, there was laughter, there was argument, explanation – it was amazing. It was that moment when I vowed to write the book.
So there is a difference between ‘newly deads’ and those who’ve crossed over for a longer period of time?
Well first of all, Michael, the man I’m speaking of, is what I call a ‘loud mind’: he is a good communicator and a terrific telepath. And he was still very orientated towards our side. He was still thinking in sentences, in a way. He was delivering information in sentences. When people are over for a longer period of time, they are delivering telepathic packages, but they are not word packages. Sometimes you can pick out certain words, but in general it’s just that you know what they are saying. It’s a sort of hearing, but not quite.
So if I understand you correctly, you wrote The Last Frontier as much for the living as for the dead?
Man – you are great! You got it. After-life communication offers tremendous benefits for us, but what it can do for the dead who are trying to reach us is devastating. I work a great deal with people who have died from suicides. And their need to tell their parents, family members or wife or whatever, what happened is extraordinary. The remorse they have, the pain that they caused is extraordinary. And not paying attention to them is a dismissal.
Even with Michael. At that point I was psychic for 35 years. I was in the strength of my academic career then, too. I knew what I was doing. I certainly had the telepathy – I had been tested for that and I was ridiculously off the charts for the telepathy. I knew what to do. And even I at that point was ready to push him off, to assign him to an imaginary world.
I think it was the pain. And I was also cleaning up a lot of stuff with his estranged family and I officiated his funeral as a reverend. In those days I was so massively busy, I worked 18 hours a day. For all of these reasons, but it was mainly the pain. And once that breakthrough happened, it was absolute ecstasy and I recognized at that point that we can all do this. And what it can do for a mother who has lost a child is unbelievable. I mean I worked so intensely with people, training them how to do after-death communication, or they work with me by teleconferencing and we do it together.
What really strikes me in your book is this sense of wonder. If we let go of fears, and of these limited ways of looking at life and the afterlife informed by our ego and scientific materialism, instead there come a feeling of adventure and wonder and freedom.
It’s not always playful or joyful. A lot of people who pass over and who don’t adjust, who are troubled, will ‘come in’ and ask help to reach another dead person who’s in trouble. This I see quite frequently now. And sometimes we’ll have four or five dead people showing up at the same time – and animals!
Have you always been in touch with the other dimension and the afterlife or did you develop this later in life?
Well many children have it. Many children have visitations and sometimes it scares them because of the way our culture regards these events. I was born in deep mourning, so I think I was set up for this. My mother’s baby son died just before I was conceived, followed by her father.
So the theme of life and death was already present when you were born?
It was very strong. It destroyed the family, really. And I overreacted to anything that died for most of my life. I was constantly overreacting. An insect or especially something that was tiny, and I inherited it from my mother’s mourning while she carried me.
In your book you scrutinize some concepts that are really mainstream in the New Age scene, like karma and the idea of spiritual evolution; that you should become a better person and spiritually develop.
(laughs) There are people in Northern California who actually tick off the good things they do in one day!
This is what they call ‘spiritual materialism’: the ego uses spirituality as another scorecard and to get ‘spiritual status’.
Yes, beautifully said. And the fear of not having unconditional love. That’s a big one. You know, I’m all for unconditional love, but it’s something that’s a process of unveiling the Self and then unconditional love just happens. It’s not about forcing it or faking it. But the whole spiritual scene, in particular in the States, is big industry now and very competitive. It’s gone the way of everything else: commercialized.
Yet according to your findings, we don’t ‘discard’ the ego when we cross over. The ego can stay and still have a function in the afterlife.
Right. Just from my observation, because I work so intensely with dead people, I am beginning to recognize too that just because your body has died, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are number 1 in the afterlife. First of all, the whole idea of an afterlife is wrong. It’s a non-physical dimension, certainly. But there are people who die and who don’t enter it. They don’t cross that border; they don’t change that frequency. They stay somewhere close to us, and I think that they often are the ones who reincarnate without ever really having an after-life experience, so in that case, that is when the personality is exactly the same as the one before and it comes back in, and very often with full memory. I’m beginning to realize just how elastic all of this is, and that our definitions of ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ are wrong, of ‘here’ and the ‘afterlife’ are wrong.
At the same time, people who are in clinical death certainly are not in the afterlife. Because they perceive these borders; they know that if they cross it, they can’t return. That signal of the border is a frequency signal. Once that border is crossed, the change of focus is complete, and can not be projected back to physical reality.
You also use scientific tools to explore the afterlife dimension.
Science is coming closer to the idea of simultaneous time and the infinite number of virtual realities. We are really not here as much as we think. There are other versions of ourselves that our blooming out from the matrix that our consciousness creates.
Do you think that movies such as Avatar, that talk about projecting our consciousness into another reality, are expressions of our evolving understanding about all of these things?
Absolutely. But all this started with the telephone! That was the first time technology mimicked telepathic contact. Talking to a disembodied voice. When Alexander Grant Bell presented the telephone for the first time to the public, the public was in a state of shock and fear that he was conjuring a ghost. And of all things, the conversation at the other end of the line was Hamlet talking to Yorick’s skull in the graveyard scene. So the recognition of the telephone as an analogue to after-dead communication was quite strong then, and it’s been going strong to today, with the cell phone, computer emails, twitter, composing the majority of the imagery for communication.
You write about the afterlife beliefs in the ancient Near East. You’re a social historian, and you say that the concept of the afterlife is a social historical construct that served those in power as a way to control the population or benefit the dominant religions. What most surprised you while doing this research?
I’ve been a social historian for the ancient Near East for a very long time. But as I was working through the biblical material, which for me is very late – my material is a good 1500 years earlier – it was a shock to see death and afterlife, first of all almost not at all represented, and secondly, what is represented is inconsistent. And thirdly, the fact that in the early stages of the Jahweh cult, in the building of Jerusalem as a cult center under king Josiah the afterlife was more or less stamped-out. It was eliminated; and that’s when the idea got hold that necromancy was a bad thing. Necromancy being communicating with the dead or ‘conjuring’ the dead. And they believed in all of this; this was firmly entrenched in the ancient Near Eastern traditions. All of these cultures had very constant and consistent contact with dead family members. But this was contrary to the cult which demanded only loyalty to one divine figure. And the dead were also considered divine, in the sense that they are immortal. Under the Jahweh cult, necromancy became punishable with death by stoning. This inheritance is completely alive in the Christian traditions; it was always forbidden to make this kind of contact, up until recently.
You say the lack of proof for afterlife existence is not due to technology; it’s due to the ideology of scientific materialism. And this scientific materialism is tied into the ego’s fear of death.
Yes – and that’s a real slap in the face of scientists, but it is an ego-problem (laughs). But nevertheless, I think scientists can’t ride this wave without diving in at some point. We see more and more of them coming into the dialogue and it’s just a matter of time.
I work with a machine in Austria that can pick up the dead. It’s a frequency-wave machine and it just picks them up when I see them coming. I turn the machine on and it starts to screen. I hope to get around designing clinical trials for this soon to show it can be a measurable phenomenon, and it can be replicable to a great extent. But I think it will always need the “mediumistic juice” to make the connection. But once this machine gets launched, I think there is going to be a tremendous amount of research in this area (check out www.juliaassante.com for updates about this miraculous machine).
“Death is not what separates us from the departed. Fear is.” Why is that?
I already talked about the historical basis for this fear. If you are afraid of being stoned to death when you make contact, that’s pretty much going to shut contact down. There are so many other kinds of fears. One is that it’s just your imagination, another is that you’re not deserving. Another is not disturbing the dead in their peaceful rest.. but the dead don’t rest! They are just as alive as we are. We are never more dead then we are now.
But there is also the social collusion around the fear of death – much more so in the US than in Europe. The medical, pharmaceutical side of it. They are always bombarding us with death threats and panic around dying. Education teaches history according to wars; according to massive deaths, whether it is from natural disasters, famine or whatever it is. We mark early history according to weaponry: the bronze age, the copper age, these are not about little buckets or forks, it’s about weapons. Even the constant growth policy of our economics is based on a fear of death, and of course the media which bombards us with the horrors of death and dying. I can’t think of anything that isn’t. We’ve put so much on death. The dying process itself, corpses, graves, these are all words that bring up very dark and gruesome connotations. But this side of death is actually never represented when you talk to the dead. Your uncle Harry is usually smiling and buoyant and can’t believe how free he is, and to have these super-perceptual abilities. It is all about our medieval mentality.
That sounds like the living are often more ‘dead’ then the dead are!
You bet. First of all, the fear of death is gone (laughs). That in itself is enormously liberating. If we could do that in our own lives now, not wait to die to be immortal, this world would transform in a matter of seconds. There would be no striving. There would be no struggle like we have all the time for money and power. I think all of that would go. I think we would have a perspective that is extremely futuristic and incorporates everyone. We would relax and be more playful. I have always said: if anyone is going to teach us the value of life and how to live it, it’s going to be the dead.
What’s the biggest lesson you get from communicating with the dead?
I think it’s the childlike spirit. It’s living in wonder, the recognition of a loving, luminous presence that enfolds all of us. And that experience can be achieved in the body as well!