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File: 1551340486848.pdf (13.18 MB, Seven Minutes in Eternity ….pdf)

b1549 No.92174

>William Dudley Pelley

>He came to prominence as a writer, winning two O. Henry Awards and penning screenplays for Hollywood films. His 1929 essay "Seven Minutes in Eternity" marked a turning point in Pelley's career, earning a major response in The American Magazine where it was published as a popular example of what would later be called a near-death experience. His experiences with mysticism and occultism drifted towards the political, and in 1933 Pelley founded the Silver Legion of America, a fascist, para-military league. He ran for president of the U.S. in 1936 as the candidate for the Christian Party.


>"Seven Minutes in Eternity" by William Dudley Pelley (1929):

But between three and four in the morning-the
time later verified-a ghastly inner shriek seemed
to tear through somnolent consciousness. In despair-
ing horror I wailed to myself:

"I'm dying! I'm dying!"

What told me, I don't know. Some uncanny
instinct had been unleashed in slumber to awaken
and warn me. Certainly something was happening
to me-something that had never happened in all
my life-a physical sensation which I can best de-
scribe as a combination of heart attack and

Mind you, I say physical sensation. This was
not a dream . I was fully awake and yet I was not.
I knew that something had happened to either my
heart or head-or both-in sleep and that my con-
scious identity was at the play of forces over
which it had no control. I was awake, mind you,
and whereas I had been on a bed in the dark of a
California bungalow when the phenomena started,
the next i was plunging down a mystic depth of
cool blue space not unlike the bottomless sinking
sensation that attends the taking of ether for
anesthetic. Queer noises were singing in my ears.
Over and over in a curiously ·tumbled brain, the
thought was preeminent:

"So this is death?"

I aver that in the interval between my seizure
and the end of my plunge, I was sufficiently pos-
sessed of my physical sensfs to think: "My dead
body may lie in this lonely house for days before
anyone discovers it-unless Laska breaks out and
brings aid."

Why I should think that, I also don't know-
or what difference it would have made to me, be-
ing the lifeless "remains"-but I remember think-
ing the thought as distinctly as any thought I ever
originated consciously and put on paper in the
practice of my vocation.

Next I was whirling madly. Once in 1920 over
San Francisco an airplane in which I was pas-
senger went into a tail-spin and we almost fell in
the Golden Gate. That feeling! Someone reached
out, caught me, stopped me. A calm, clear, friendly
voice said close to my ear:

"Take it easy, old man. Don't be alarmed.
You're all right. We're here to help you."

Someone had hold of me, I said-two persons in
fact-one with a hand under the back of my neck,
supporting my weight, the other with arm run under
my knees. I was physically flaccid from my "tum-
ble" and unable to open my eyes as yet because
of the sting of queer opal light that diffused the
place into which I had come. ·

When I finally managed it, I became conscious
that I had been borne · to a beautiful marble-slab
pallet and laid nude upon it by two strong-bodied,
kindly-faced young men in white duck uniforms
not unlike those worn by internes in hospitals, who
were secretly amused at my confusion and chagrin.
"Feeling better?" the taller of the two asked
considerately as physical strength to sit up un-
aided came to me and I took note of my sur-

"Yes," I stammered. "Where am I?"

They exchanged good-humored glances. "Don 't
try to see everything in the first seven minutes,"
was all the answer they made me then.

THEY did not need to answer my question. My
question was superfluous. I knew what had hap-
pened. I had left my earthly body back on a
bungalow bed in the California mountains. I had
gone through all the sensations of dyi ng and
whether this was the Hereafter or an intermediate
station, most emphatically I had reached a place
and state which had never been duplicated in all
my experience.

I say this because of the inexpressible ecstacy
of my new state, both mental and physical.

For I had carried some sort of a physical body
into that new environment with me. I knew that
it was nude. It had been capable of feeling the cool,
steadying pressure of my friends' hands before my
eyes opened. And now that I had reawakened with-
out the slightest distress or harm, I was conscious
of a beauty and loveliness of environment that sur-
passes chronicling on printed paper.

A sort of marble-tiled-and-furnished portico the
place was, lighted by that soft, unseen, opal illu-
mination, with a clear-as-crystal Roman pool diag-
onally across from my bench on which I remained
for a time striving to credit that all this was real.

Out beyond the portico everything appeared to
exist in a sort of turquoise haze. . . .

I looked from this vista back to the two friends
who had received me. There were no other persons
anywhere in evidence in the first half of my expe-

Somehow I knew those two men-knew them as
intimately as I knew the reflection of my own
features in a mirror. And yet something about them,
their virility, their physical "glow," their strong
and friendly personality sublimated as it were, kept
me from instant identity.

And they knew a good joke about me. They con-
tinued to watch me with a smile in their eyes when

I got down from my marble bench and moved
about the portico till I came to the edge of the

"Bathe in it," came the instruction. "You'll find
you'll enjoy it."

I went down the steps into delightful water. And
here is one of the strangest incidents of the whole
"adventure" … when I came up from that bath


b1549 No.92175



I was no longer conscious that I was nude. On the
other hand, neither was I conscious of having
donned clothes. The bath did something to me in
the way of clothing me. What, I don't know.

But immediately I came up garbed somehow by
the magic contact of the water, people began com-
ing into the patio, crossing over it and going down
the southern steps and off into the inexpressible
turquoise. As they passed me, they cast curiously-
amused glances at me. And everybody nodded and
spoke to me. They had a kindness, a courtesy, a
friendliness, in their faces and addresses that quite
overwhelmed me. Think of all the saintly, at-
tractive, magnetic folk you know, imagine them
constituting the whole social world-no misfits, no
tense countenances, no sour leers, no preoccupied
brusqueness or physical handicap-and the whole
environment of life permeated with an ecstatic har-
mony as universal as air, and you get an idea of
my reflexions in those moments. I recall exclaim-
ing to myself:

"How happy everybody seems!-how

Every person here conveys something that makes
me want to know him personally." Then with a
sense of shock it dawned upon me: "/ have known
everyone of these persons at some time or other,
personally, intimately! But they're sublimated now
- physically glorified-not as I knew them in life
at all."

I CANNOT make anyone underst and how natu-
ral it all seemed that I should be there. After that
first presentment of dying-which experience had
ended in the most kindly ministration-all terror
and strangeness left me and I never felt more alive.

It never occurred to me that I was in "heaven"
or if it did it occasioned me no more astonishme nt
that I should be there than that at some period of
my adolescent consciousness it had occurred to me
that I was on "earth" . After all, do we know much
more about the one than the other?

I had simply ended a queer voyage through
bluish void and found myself in a charming place
among affable worthwhile people who saw in me
something that amused them to the point of quiet
laughter. Yet not a laughter that I could resent. I
had no mad obsession to go off at once in search
of Diety or look up Abraham Lincoln or Julius
Caesar. I was quite content to stroll timidly in the
vicinity of the portico by which I had entered this
harmo]J.ious place and be greeted with pleasant nods
by persons whose individualities were uncannily

They were conventionally garbed, these persons,
both men and women. I recall quite plainly that
11ome of the latter wore hats. The big, broad- .
shouldered, blue-eyed fellow in white duck who
had first received me with his hand beneath the
nape . of my neck always hovered in my vicinity,
I recall, and kept an eye on my whereabouts and
deportment . . . .

I pledge my prestige and reputation that I talked
with these people, identified many of them, called
others by their wrong names and was corrected,
saw and did things that night almost a year ago
that it is verboten for me to narrate in a magazine
article but which I recall with a minuteness of de-
tail as graphic as I see the keys of my typewriter
now under my fingers. Regardless of the fact that
imagin ation is the chief asset in one of my vocation,

I am not given to particularly graphic dreams. Cer-
tainly we never dream by the process of coming
awake first, knowing that we are suffering some
kind of heart or head attack, swooning and coming
abruptly conscious again in the arms of two kindly
persons who reassure one audibly that everything
is quite all right. Nor do the impressions of a
dream stay with us-at least they have never so
stayed with me-that after a year such an experi-
ence is as vivid as many of my experiences in Si-
beria during the late world war.

I went somewhere, penetrated to a distinct place
and had an actual physical experience. I found
myself an existing entity in a locality where per-
sons I had always called "dead" were not dead at
all. They were very much alive.

The termination of this journey-my exit so to
speak-was as peculiar as my advent.

Instantly, instead of real biliousness, I was
caught in a swirl of bluish vapor that seemed to
roll in from nowhere in particular. Instead of
plunging prone I was lifted and levitated. Up, up,
up I seemed to tumble / eet first despite the ludi-
crousness of the description. A long, swift, swirling
journey of this. And then something clicked. Some-
thing in my body. The best analogy is the sound my
repeating deer-rifle makes when I work the ejector
mechanism-a flat, metallic, automatic sensation.
Next I was sitting up in bed in my physical body
again, as wide awake as I am at this moment,
staring at the patch of window where the Cali-
fornia starlight was visible, and a reflexion of
physical exhaustion through my chest, diaphragm
and abdomen that lasted several minutes. Not any
digestive distress, you understand. Simply a great
weariness in my torso as though I had passed
through a great physical ordeal and my heart must
accelerate to make up the lost energy.
"That wasn't a dream!" I cried aloud. And my
voice awoke Laska who straightened to her

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