Annekatrin Puhle, Dr.phil. / PhD

Philosophie, Gesundheitsberatung, Bücher / Philosophy, Health Consulting, Books

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Book: Light Changes


Annekatrin Puhle

Light Changes. Experiences in the Presence of Tramsforming Light. With a Foreword by Dr. Peter Fenwick and an Afterword by Barbara Bunce. Guildford, UK: White Crow Books.

Praise for the book

“Light Changes is a scholarly examination of exceptional experiences involving light, ranging from ghostly apparitions, to strangely comforting balls of light, to halos and beyond. These experiences can be dramatically life transforming, but they are rarely discussed or taken seriously by scholars. Annekatrin Puhle surveys this remarkable phenomenon in historical context and in contemporary reports, and she succeeds admirably in illuminating the light.”

Dean Radin Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences,

Petaluma, California, USA

 “The word enlightenment says light changes. While some of the most dramatic encounters with light occur during Near-Death-Experiences, lesser known is that they occur in a variety of circumstances. The author brings the first stage of science to these important experiences area by cataloguing the types and frequency of light encounters. With her background in professional philosophy she is able to show how meaningful light experiences are for those reporting them and that they do appear to lead to lasting and positive changes.”

– Professor Adrian Parker, Professor of Psychology,

University of Gothenburg, Sweden

 “This is a timely and illuminating book based on the study of over 800 reports of unusual light phenomena that Dr. Puhle has selected from a wide range of historical and current sources.  The importance, meaning and impact on experiencers, among other findings, will be especially interesting to experiencers as well as to psychical researchers of today.”

– Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., Director of the Rhine Research Center,

Durham, North Carolina, USA

 “Numerous accounts throughout history describe the experience of an encounter with a personified light. The light seemed to be as alive as a living being. This is only one example of many different types of exceptional light phenomena experienced by human beings in all cultures, all ages and of all religions. Confident atheists and others locked into the thought world of present day secular materialism will dismiss all these experiences as fairy tales or fantasies. Reading this sane, scholarly and well researched book by Annekatrin Puhle should make them think again. Annekatrin’s book is a readable and fascinating study of one of the most significant and extraordinary dimensions of human experience. The full and extensive bibliography makes abundantly clear that the evidence on which the book is based is neither fairy tale nor fantasy.”

– Alexander Wedderspoon Very Revd, President of the CFPSS (Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies)

North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK

Book review

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2016, 80(2), 99-102

Light Changes: Experiences in the Presence of Transforming Light By Annekatrin Puhle PhD. Guildford, UK. White Crow Books, 2013. 254 pp. £9.99. ISBN 978-1-908733-18-4

Dr Annekatrin Puhle, Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, has collected 811 personal accounts of “experiencing a light which is perceived as being different, i.e. stronger, brighter, or more intense and powerful than the light we see in nature or indoors. Some percipients even describe the light as having a kind of personality, or radiating from a person or a being. It is completely unlike daylight and sunshine. Just the experience of such an unusual light in itself has determined the inclusion of cases in this collection”. These cases have been selected from collections of such experiences found in German and English books, the SPR Journal, the Psi Researcher, and the Paranormal Review, as well as 51 accounts related personally to Dr Puhle. Each case is numbered and the source given at the end of the account with the full reference contained in the extensive bibliography. The book opens with a Foreword by Dr Peter Fenwick, has a Prologue by Guy Lyon Playfair and carries endorsements by Dr Dean Radin, Professor Adrian Parker and Dr Sally Rhine Feather. Dr Puhle’s research was financed in part by a grant from the SPR’s Tate Fund.

In the Prologue, Playfair presents the very unusual experience of a married Czechoslovakian couple who had become lost on a local mountain they had climbed before. The following paraphrases the wife’s account (slightly abbreviated) when interviewed by Playfair, with details confirmed by her husband. Early that morning they had commenced climbing in good clear weather but around 1:30 p.m. the weather suddenly changed with the arrival of a strong wind and driving heavy snow resulting in complete disorientation as to which way to descend. Suddenly the wife felt a warm wind blowing onto the left side of her face and turning she saw a ball of blue light about 2 metres in diameter and some 5 metres away. Her husband could see nothing but falling snow and admits that he became disbelievingly angry. Turning left at right angles to their previous uncertain path the wife started to walk downwards towards the ball, which slowly rolled along the ground keeping at a steady distance. With her husband trailing behind her, she followed the ball down the mountain, feeling its warm wind steadily blowing in her face. They continued like this for some three hours and around 15 kilometres until, quite suddenly, the ball and the warm wind disappeared as they saw a roof below them and knew they were now safe. After discussing this case, Playfair concludes that the couple were saved by a “non-human intelligence at work”, adding that the substantial database of experiences presented in this book provides further evidence for “the existence of an extra dimension and our survival of bodily death”.

In her Introduction, Puhle presents an overview of the importance of light, both natural and in visionary manifestations throughout recorded history in myths and folklore, religion, philosophy, science and — of course — psychical research. She describes her criteria for case inclusion as well as her method of classifying these 811 experiences under different headings. A major category is the experience of perceiving a light in the absence of natural light, sometimes as a ball of light, a beam of light, a figure composed of radiant light, a halo of light, light apparently rising from the body of a dying person, or the room being illuminated by light as a person dies, and so on.

Sometimes two or more people witness and describe the same unexpected light phenomenon and sometimes the light results in a spontaneous healing, as in the following case. Elizabeth Lange was suffering from agonising viral facial neuralgia, with one half of her face paralysed. One night the pain remained particularly severe despite taking analgesics. While lying in her darkened bedroom listening to her radio in an attempt to distract herself from the pain, the room was suddenly “lit up by a shine of light of a calibre that I thought quite simply did not exist … I believed it was the light one sees when one dies, and I thought I was going to die of pain”. The radio programme ended and she simultaneously fell into a profound sleep. When she awoke the pain had gone, and when she looked in the mirror she saw that her facial paralysis had fully recovered. Later that morning her daughter phoned to ask how she was feeling, and told her mother that she and some friends, together with another group, had sent her distant healing at the same time that she saw the light (Case 799, first-hand account, pp. 123-4). Whether the occurrence of the “shine of light” and the sending of distant healing was coincidental or causal there is no way of knowing. Accounts of OBEs and NDEs often mention experiencing a light that is often of far greater clarity and intensity than everyday sunlight.

The flickering on and off of room lights is often taken as signalling the continued presence of someone who has recently died but wishes to communicate that they are still alive, and this leads us to the most remarkable story in the book as recounted by Beverley, the mother of 33 year old Tom. Despite entreaties by Beverley and his brother Tim, who feared for his safety, Tom insisted on going out during a New York snow storm on the night of February 4th, 1995. Next day homicide detectives called to tell Beverly and Tim that, on checking a white van abandoned near Brooklyn’s 88th Precinct, they had found Tom’s stabbed body stuffed tightly behind the front seat. There was no blood outside the van and very little inside, indicating that he had been killed elsewhere. With Beverley and Tim now in floods of tears and asking God who could possibly have done this to Tom, and with the detectives still present, the chandelier started to blink on and off over several minutes. Six days after Tom’s death, and with the murder still unsolved, Beverley was awakened by hearing Tom’s voice loud and clear telling her to “Wake up, Wake up”. She could not see him but heard him say “Mom, go to Washington Avenue and St John’s Place. You’ll find my blood still locked in the ice and snow. Go now before it melts”. Despite her family’s protests that this was just an hallucination brought on by her intense grief, she insisted on going, so they drove to the area and saw a mound of snow saturated with blood near a payphone with large drops in the surrounding sidewalk and street. The detectives soon found eyewitnesses who had seen the murder and identified the murderer — whose nickname happened to be ‘Light’. The flickering chandelier was then interpreted by Beverly and Tim as Tom symbolically indicating his murderer’s nickname. ‘Light’ had robbed him, chased him round the van while repeatedly stabbing him, bundled his body behind the front seat and had then driven four miles before abandoning the van. He was duly arrested and convicted.

This truly astonishing story does not end here. Some four months later Beverley was taking Baby, the late Tom’s Pit Bull/Staffordshire Terrier, now “some 80 lbs of pure muscle”, for a walk round the block. On passing the empty lot where Tom used to park his car, the dog suddenly went wild, barking and whining, and violently pulling on the lead as he tried to get to someone on the distant corner who was wearing a pale blue shirt and dungarees. Being short sighted and putting on her glasses with great difficulty while restraining the excited dog, Beverley saw that it was Tom smiling at them. He was wearing his familiar blue shirt with new dungarees that he had bought but had not yet worn and were still in the dresser drawer. They both ran towards Tom with the dog pulling Beverley as hard as he could, with Tom’s figure gliding slightly off the ground some 30 feet ahead of them. After running fast for 3 blocks, they rapidly approached four schoolgirls who were in line across the sidewalk. Tom glided effortlessly around them and Beverley lost sight of him as she ran up to and then around the girls only to find that his apparition had disappeared. As Beverly said, “I realised that we were not seeing an earthly Tommy, but Tommy as an angel spirit” (Case 435, pp 56–59; Arcangel, 2005, 66–73). Presumably the schoolgirls did not see who Beverley and Baby were running after in such frantic haste.

It would be interesting to see how psychologists wedded to the non- paranormal concepts of Anomalistic Psychology would interpret these three accounts, let alone many of the other of the 811 accounts, without recourse to accepting the possibility that there may be more to our experiences than imagination, misinterpretation and sensory-based neurophysiology (including in this case canine physiology as the rather inappropriately named Baby was the first to ‘see’ Tom as an apparently solid external manifestation), but I doubt if we will ever know.

In the final chapter, headed ‘Results’, Puhle analyses her own case collection and others including the results of Gallup poll surveys concerning such unusual experiences. She analyses the frequency of occurrence of twelve core aspects of near-death and non near-death experiences (including unusual light, acuity of visual perception, hearing voices, feelings of peace, etc.) and the life-changing meanings that these experiences have for the experients, especially the belief that they have been in contact with a Greater Reality and — for many — a new certainty that life continues after bodily death. These data are ranked and tabulated in a series of nine tables. As to the source of such intensely personal experiences of a light distinct from ordinary light, there is no definitive answer. It can be interpreted as somehow originating from within the experient’s own visual centres in the hour of intense need, or as the entry of light into the experient’s mind from an external source to which they are momentarily connected. Those who, like this reviewer, have never had such an experience will interpret them according their prior belief as to the possible.

As for the organisation of the book, a major frustration for the reader is that the cases grouped under different headings have remained numbered as, presumably, they just happened to have been numbered during collection, so Case 90 could be followed by similar Cases 131, 3 and 15. It would have been more helpful if they had been renumbered to run consecutively throughout the text. The index merely lists the pages on which, say, ‘reincarnation’ or ‘western mystic’ is mentioned but not the case numbers. Many of the types of experiences described in this book will be familiar to readers who are conversant with psychical research literature but there is the advantage here of being able to compare like with like within the context of an extended discussion and analysis, as long as you remember to note for future reference the page on which any particular Case is presented.

Robert Charman

9 Mountbatten Close, Cardiff CF23 5QG


Arcangel, D. (2005). Afterlife encounters: Ordinary people, extraordinary experiences. Charlottesville, Hampton Road Publ.

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