Early in 1974, a small group of religious friends began gathering periodically at the modest home of Thomas and Olive Ashman in Christchurch, New Zealand. “We would reverently pray for protection, and be silent,” says the Rev. Michael Cocks, an Anglican priest from Christchurch. “Tom would sit upright in a chair, relaxed. After two or three minutes he would begin to pale and to breathe deeply. Then his body would give a slight jerk as Stephen seemed to take over.”
In effect, Tom Ashman was a trance medium and was entering an altered state of consciousness as his body was being “taken over” by the entity called Stephen, who would then speak to the group using Ashman’s vocal cords. Stephen would dialogue with the group, which, in addition to Cocks and Ashman’s wife, Olive, also included a Liberal Catholic priest, a Buddhist, and other curious observers. But this was not just any Stephen; it was Saint Stephen, the first Christian Martyr.
Cocks states that normally Stephen spoke through Ashman in a “rather curious English,” but that he twice spoke in an ancient Greek dialect, which apparently was for the purposes of confirming his identity.
“For myself, I do not speak [English] and I never have,” Stephen related in one of the sittings. “I activate these words that are in Thomas’s memory and are known to him. Occasionally there is a little ‘magic,’ when I join together sounds and symbols that are in Thomas’s mind so that words may be spoken that are not known to Thomas.”
After one of the early sittings in which Stephen spoke in Greek, Cocks consulted a lecturer in Greek at a University about Stephen’s Greek words. “She reported my request to the then bishop, who called me for a chat,” Cocks recalls. “To him, I denied being interested in spiritualism, as was definitely the case in those days.”
In one philosophical discussion during 1973, Stephen offered an analogy in explaining why humans do not fully comprehend the physical life. He likened God to a surgeon. “…think how a surgeon would act if, when he had to operate, he had to keep the patient conscious, adjust mirrors so the patient could see the operation that would be beyond his understanding in any case. Should he perhaps have each patient undertake advanced studies before an operation? Or would it perhaps not be better only to operate on a surgeon?” Stephen went on to say that the complexity is such that the patient must trust his surgeon.
Some of what Stephen had to say:
Purpose of life: “Remember, that in the beginning there was the coming away from the Source, for the correction of many disorders…Acquiring a physical body is only one stage in the corrections…It seems a contradiction in itself, unless you understand, that it is for this reason each and every one of you is in the position that you are, for the reason that you may develop; that disorder may be corrected. Each is in the situation where he must learn, develop and correct disorder.”
On the afterlife: “Think not that when you are without your body, you are going to be much different, for your needs are different. Except through feelings there is little association, for your tasks and your needs are no longer what they were, and the tasks and needs of them that are still in the body are different. These are the first things you learn.”
On reincarnation: “The answer is most difficult. The understanding of the phenomenon is sometimes beyond even myself, but hear me now. Even as I speak through this body, I am Stephen and reincarnate possibly a thousandfold. The confusion is not in the reality of this. It is on the concept of your conscious mind where it can but think of one body.”
About the Author
All my forebears were early immigrants into Canterbury, New Zealand, between 1840-60, one a Scottish farmer, another a German businessman, another an owner of a stock and station firm, another, great-grandfather Bromley Cocks, was an early Anglican clergyman. My grandfather John, my father Maurice and I, have also been devout but open-minded parish clergy. (The last five years of my ministry were as British Chaplain in Gothenburg, Sweden.) Three generations of us have honours degrees in philosophy, my father and I belonged to the UK Modern Churchman's Union, and have been interested in the mystics of all religions. I read theology at Oxford, at St Catherine's, and at Ripon Hall, a Modernist theological college, and in vacation time, lived with its former principal, Canon Dr H D A Major and his wife Mary. An incident in 1932 may have started my intense interest in the psychic: a pine plantation around our vicarage at Mount Somers caught fire. One of those helping to fight the fire, died. At the height of the fire my grandmother in Christchurch, a hundred miles away, put in a toll call to ask what the trouble was. For whatever reason, throughout my childhood, adolescence and as a young man, I was obsessed by the belief that psychical research was the way to prove the reality of Spirit. I was aided and abetted by a great-aunt whose guiding light was the work of Emmanuel Swedenborg. In 1973 I was the Anglican vicar of a parish in Christchurch, New Zealand, when one day an acquaintance knocked on the door. She had come down from the North Island partly to deliver to me a hand-written book of prophecies, the product of a woman unknown to me who once had belonged to the Plymouth Brethren. There were about a hundred pages of these prophecies, largely based on the Book of Revelation, casting me in the role of one of the Two Witnesses in Chapter 11 of the book. She had plainly taken immense pains with her prophecies and my acquaintance had incurred the loss of time and money to bring them to me. I hope that I received the gift graciously and acknowledged the caring and depth of belief which prompted it. All the same I could not regard it as other than the product of irrationality. And yet, on the other hand, I found out later that the gift was almost simultaneous with Stephen the Martyr's first words to my friend Olive Ashman, through her husband, Thomas, who, although not previously aware of his mediumistic abilities, was in trance. They were living at the time in Sevenoaks, Kent. Three months later, the strangest circumstances were to have me talking with Stephen in New Zealand. In the meantime the Ashmans had come to live in Christchurch and I had met Olive in a psychic library that I on a whim had visited. She talked to me about Stephen and I was interested to find out more. When I eventually learned that Stephen and the prophecies had come together in time, and had reflected on how I had come to talk with him myself, multidimensional reality appeared more and more strange, for many of those weird prophecies had close parallels with Stephen's teachings. A private group with varying membership, meeting almost 200 times over a period of eight years, asked him many questions, some of which can be read in Afterlife teaching from Stephen the Martyr. Concurrent with these conversations, were complicated and overwhelming synchronicities, which seemed to underline and reinforce what Stephen was saying. The whole Stephen experience brought many of us to view reality in a very different way, and indeed from the point of view of the mystics. Of course, the Stephen experience has only intensified my interest in psychic research, and research into the nature of the reality to which the world's great religions point. For the past eight years I have been editor of an e-journal, The Ground of Faith: www.thegroundoffaith.net . Every two months I republish articles from the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc. including articles from Michael Tymn; also from The Christian Parapsychologist, Victor Zammit's weekly newsletter, and from many other sources. To subscribe, and be notified when the next issue is uploaded write to email@example.com .