Born in France and trained as a nurse, Josiane Antonette had a near-death experience in 1966 when she became aware of her ability to “communicate with the other side.” For over 30 years, she has worked with the dying and the living, in hospitals as a chaplain, universities as a teacher, as a spiritual counselor, healer and ceremonial leader. Her understanding of living, dying and the spiritual realms has touched many people. The following are short excepts from her most excellent book,, Whispers of the Soul: Journeys to the Other Side of Life. It is a book I highly recommend.
My near-death experience shattered my world. It shook me into remembering spirit and other dimensions of life, which I had known as a child but had forgotten so that I could fit into society.
I feel the jerking of the ambulance as it rushes me through the dark streets of Marseille to the hospital.
Twenty-four hours have passed since my underground abortion with a feuseuse d’anges, an “angel maker.” Abortion is illegal in France now, and many women die because of the unsanitary conditions of the procedure. I am only twenty-four years old, a young nurse.
Am I dying? Am I outside myself observing? I see my body and its pain. I look at my feet; they are pale and lifeless. My legs cannot move. My face is white and drawn.
I watch as the walls of the ambulance dissolve. I see the lights of the city speed toward me. I can see the stars! What am I doing up so high? Why does everything look so small all of a sudden?
Memories pass before my eyes as in a movie.
[Josiane Antonette then momentarily returns to her body.]
I see family members at the foot of my bed through a haze. Suddenly they disappear. From where they stood I see faces rushing toward me with incredible speed. They race toward my face, expanding then dissolving. Face after face washes over me! I am terrified. I’m drifting. I’m unable to keep my eyes open.
Who are these people? Some I recognize as people I’ve known who have died. Others I do not recognize.
“Stay away! Where is my family?”
Now the whole room is filled with spirits! They hover near me and look into my eyes. I try to push them away. I fight them. The experience seems to go on forever. These are spirits who are restless. Their faces are twisted with pain. They seem lost. It’s frightening to see them walking back and forth around my bed.
And now – spirits with glowing faces come close to me. They reflect a gentle and powerful light, reminding me of the pictures of beautiful angels that I love so much. I feel nurtured and loved by them, and enveloped by their luminescence. These beings are made of light, and even though their brilliance is intense, I am not blinded. Tremendous compassionate love surrounds me!
Now, I am filled with the essence of love and compassion. This magnetic power is filling every atom of me. I have never before experienced such depth and power of love. I am the power of love! Merging into an intimate dance wherein all boundaries have disappeared, I feel myself one with these beings of compassion.
No words or sounds are being exchanged, and yet communication is happening.
A strong presence assures me, “Yes, you are dying to the world of men. But to us you are being born. Do not be afraid. You have always been with us; we have always been with you. We know you. You just fell asleep during your time on Earth and forgot who you are. Now you are remembering.”
Revelation fills my awareness – of course, yes! I am of the Beings of Light and they are of me!
What is this new surge of energy? It begins as a very gentle vibration rising through the length of my body, from my feet to the top of my head, but now my whole self is vibrating. I hear buzzing. It is growing louder, and now the vibration and the buzzing are becoming one.
I feel such a wonderful release! I’m free! I can’t resist this new and wonderful tide of energy sweeping my body upward.
Now I’m on the hospital room ceiling gazing down! Everything appears so small: I see my bed; my body looks small and colorless; the people around the bed are tiny.
Overwhelming grief and sorrow fill the room, and yet I feel completely disconnected from the scene below me.
I hover nearer and look at the strange form lying on the bed. I feel compassion beyond words.
I understand everything, but I have no feeling of attachment to anyone. I look at each person standing at the bedside and feel tremendous love. I want to say to them, “I’m all right. You don’t have to worry. I’m all right. Look at me! I’m fine!”
I am love; I am understanding; I am compassion!
My presence fills the room. And now I feel my presence in every room in the hospital. Even the tiniest space in the hospital is filled with this presence that is me. I sense myself beyond the hospital, above the city, even encompassing Earth. I am melting into the universe. I am everywhere at once. I see pulsing light everywhere. Such a loving presence envelops me!
I hear a voice say, “Life is a precious gift: to love, to care, to share.”
Questions race through my awareness: Why is there so much pain in the world? Why are humans made of different colors? Why with different creeds? Why with different languages?
A vision appears. I see our world from the vantage point of a star, or another planet. Earth appears as a sphere cut in half. The surface of the planet is flat and colorless. The ground is bare. No living plant grows from the Earth. Tree branches are naked. There are no fruits, no flowers, no leaves. The barren hills are obscured behind a gray veil. It is a passionless place where no one rejoices at the sunrise, and no one knows when night comes. Naked phantom-like people stand on what seems to be a stage. All the actors are puppets animated by an invisible force. They move in unison and stop all at once.
On one side of half of the sphere, a sun attempts to shine upon the stage, but no one pays attention or makes a sound. Even the birds in the dead trees are silent and motionless. The other side of the half sphere is in darkness. I watch as the darkness grows with frightening speed and covers the whole planet. No one pays attention. Now the darkness covers the sunlight, and now it covers all the bright planets in the universe.
“This is the world with the absence of light, love, and free will,” the voice states. “It is the people’s choices that created the world you have just seen.”
With these words, the nightmarish world begins to dissolve and is replaced by the other half of the planet – a place of vibrant, breathtaking beauty. I perceive how the Earth, the sun, the moon, the darkness, the light, the planets, and all forms of life – plants, rocks, animals, people – are interconnected; they come from the same source of light. Everything is united by a transparent net, or web, and each thread shines with great radiance. Everything pulses with the same luminosity – a magnificent light of unparalleled brilliance.
“From the light we have come, and to the light we all shall return,” continues the voice.
I realize now I have been standing in the middle of the two worlds. And with this understanding, an image of the path I have been walking appears. It is narrow and rocky; I have the sensation of losing my balance. I grow afraid of falling into the darkened planet. Free will! With the remembering, I gaze at my invisible feet. The narrow path changes into a wide road. The darkness is replaced by light.
“Never, never forget.” I hear the voice say.
Merging with the light, I am so overcome with gratitude and overwhelmed by the love that fills me that I cry.
Suddenly, time and space are different again, and I am momentarily aware of my body. I am aware that the window to the left of my bed is filled with vibrant, powerful light. It seems to be calling me and pulling me toward it like a magnet.
I hear the buzzing again, and … Whoosh! I’m zooming through the window!
I merge with the light! I am the light, and the light is me.
“From the light we have come, and to the light we shall all return,” repeats the voice.
What a joy to bathe in this incredible all-knowing, all-loving…
I can travel through walls, ceilings, and space at amazing speed! I visit my son, Philippe, who is only four.
A tremendous power moves me. I am boundless, formless, no longer controlled by my emotions. I am everything. Everything is me!
I’m back in the hospital room. A mist coming from the door facing my bed attracts my attention. In the middle of the vapor is a being with the most heavenly smile. Jean Pierre! It is my cousin, Jean Pierre! I am overwhelmed with joy. As I gaze at Jean Pierre, the hospital room disappears. We are suspended in midair.
There are no windows or doors, no ceiling or ground. A brilliant radiance fills all space. He slowly approaches my bed and bends to kiss me. I feel the moisture of his lips on my face, the weight of his body against mine, the gentle touch of his hands on me.
Jean Pierre is the brother I never had. After a long and painful battle with lung cancer, he died two years ago when he was only twenty-two. I am still grieving his passing. How wonderful to see him again! And what is this? He is wearing his butterscotch jacket. This jacket has been the subject of many discussions. He loves it; I hate it.
“How did you know I was here?”
My question is a thought not yet put into words as Jean Pierre answers, “We know everything about you, and we welcome you.”
Such a warm feeling of peace! I am complete – whole! I am free of pain and fear. There is no past or future – everything is! There is no need to speak to be understood or to communicate. I feel serenity beyond anything I have ever known. And joy of joys: I can fly! I swirl easily and with great speed around my cousin in a playful way, expressing the ultimate joy that is me. Everything is the way it should be. Never have I felt so clear, so complete, so loved.
I gaze at myself: I am whole and healed! I can interact and play with Jean Pierre with my natural vigor. Familiar Beings of Light are here, too. I immerse myself in their loving presence. It’s as if they are protecting me and carrying me. We are all interconnected.
I relax into the timeless joy. What a glorious feeling! I want to be here forever.
Jean Pierre is gazing at me now as the other beings begin to depart. His dark eyes are filled with great tenderness and purity. He turns to leave with the others, and I plead with him to take me with him. His eyes fill with sadness.
“Not now,” he responds. “There is much, much work for you. You have to go back and tell them. Life is a precious gift. Each moment is filled with great opportunities. Don’t waste your time on Earth. Spread love and understanding. We will always be with you – guiding you, protecting you, awaiting the time when we will be reunited – when your work on Earth is over.”
I watch as Jean Pierre dissolves into the same brilliant light with which he had entered. The light is fading away, too.
The room is empty now. My grief is intense. I start to cry out of desperation and loneliness.
Suddenly, I’m back in the hospital in bed. I am fully aware of my surroundings and my physical state of being. Tubes are implanted in my body. The pain is overwhelming. My sadness is intense. I am so weak I cannot speak. I have lost my voice, and the doctors are alarmed by the tears which are using up the strength I need to recuperate. Crying is all I want to do! My body feels like a suit that is too tight; the room is confining; the smell of sickness surprises my senses; the human condition saddens me.
“Josianne, you’re back!” I recognize my sister’s voice. I see her careful gaze. “You’ve been in a coma for three days. We didn’t know if you were coming back.”
I cried for ten days and then gradually regained my voice and began to relate my strange experience to an audience of family members gathered around my bed.