Pioneer | adventurer | edge-walker | risk-taker | curious


PMH Atwater

My lot in life has been exploring the “in-between.” This has taken me from discovering earth’s Spirit Keepers as a child, being traumatized by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, winning a County Fair Blue Ribbon for Burnt-Sugar-Cake, facing-down parent/teacher groups who did little else but socialize, initiating Idaho’s first non-profit metaphysical corporation called “Inner Forum,” raped/pregnant/miscarried/died three times in three months, became a researcher of near-death states, wrote 18 books on or related to the subject. Today: 44 years and counting. Clearly, I have more to do.

These are my ten best books, and I consider ALL OF THEM SPIRITUAL, in the sense that the allness of spirit is spirituality made real.

DR. P.M.H. ATWATER  is an international authority on near-death experiences and spiritual transformations. “Different” since childhood, she conducted her first double-blind study with a control group at the age five. This led to extensive studies in altered states of consciousness and the transformational process, leading her to initiate Idaho’s first non-profit metaphysical corporation, Inner Forum.

Active in public service, writing, secretarial positions, and analysis, she began training in bank management when she was raped, miscarried, and “died” three times in three months. She had a near-death experience with each death. During her third, The Voice Like None Other said: “Test revelation. You are to do the research. One book for each death.” She was shown what that meant.  Initiating what The Voice told her to do, she quit her job, gave away or stored everything she owned, sold her home, and left Idaho. That was 1978. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross told her about the phenomenon when they met in Chicago, and named her a near-death survivor. She began her work after that, using the police investigative techniques she learned in childhood as her protocol.


The author of 18 books on or related to NDEs, some of her findings have been verified in clinical studies, among them the prospective study done in Holland and published in Lancet Medical Journal (12-15-01). Her The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences brought the entire field up-to-date and was featured in an online version of Newsweek Magazine.

In 2005, she was awarded the Outstanding Service Award from the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS); Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Transpersonal Hypnotherapists (NATH); honorary Ph.D. from a school in Sri Lanka.  She has presented twice at the United Nations, been a guest on many TV and radio shows – including George Noory and Art Bell, and her books have been translated into over 12 languages. Anyone can subscribe on her website for her famous Free Monthly Newsletter FOR THE CURIOUS, as well as peruse many features.

My 10 Best

(In no order of suggested reading or importance)

Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes


Ernest discovered what thought is and how to think. He discovered that what lies at the crux of life itself reveals how to live the life you have – with purpose and with meaning and with the knowing that confirms “you are on track with all that is worthwhile and spiritually true.” His deep insights into cause and effect do more for me than any therapist or preacher ever could, or any spinner of tall tales. No matter the question, his understanding of what works and what doesn’t is right-on. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Ernest also wrote two other books that encapsulate his message. Both are much smaller and easier to read if you’re in a hurry and want a shorter but still powerful message. They are This Thing Called You and This Thing Called Life.


The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran


I go back again and again to this book. More an artist of the soul than a poet, Gibran’s words flow through your mind and body, caressing you, showing you what truth is, illuminating what breathes the air we think we do—in concert with the life we think we have. Contains the true magic of all things spiritual.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach


This book so stunned me when I first read it that I walked around in a daze long after. Everything I saw, everything I did, everything I knew to be true and worthwhile was now subject to redefinition. When this book first came out, it didn’t just stun me, it upset just about everyone. I grew up in Idaho; my dad was a police officer. No kidding, the FBI, Montana Branch, held special classes for lawmen everywhere, teaching them how to handle a public that may no longer obey their church, their family, even common sense, after reading this book. Jonathan Livingston Seagull challenged the very underpinnings of society itself, and was considered “a threat” to the safety of this country. Years later I met Richard and told him what law enforcement did after his book hit the best-seller list. He didn’t believe me, but it was true. I can understand why some people reacted that way. The book certainly changed me.

Illusions by Richard Bach


This book was the next step in redefining life. Through the clever interaction between a bush pilot and a savior-type, all who read it learned real clues as to what life really is all about and who we really are. The little “Sayings from the Messiah’s Handbook” that appear throughout I actually copied on an office copy machine, bound them together, and made my own personal Handbook for Messiahs that I put in my purse and read from time to time – no matter where I was or what I was doing. This “food for thought” helped me grow and change with a confidence of “rightness.” Today, a clever publisher has come out with a book filled with just those sayings. All of us can now have our very own Messiah’s Handbook.

Living with the Himalayan Masters
by Swami Rama


Here is the true story of a man who decided when young that more than anything else in the world he wanted to be a Swami and to live with the Divine all the days of his life – to be perfect in mind, body, and soul – no matter what. There was a time when I thought this type of story was rather silly and far-fetched, but not after reading this book. Nothing was held back. You got the good and the awful together. You got to walk and starve with him, live in a cave filled with tricksters of the mind, learn what he did. When I finished the book I felt as if an old friend had taken my hand and led me beyond sight. I read the book several times, then searched for the truth behind it. Yes, Swami Rama was indeed one of the first to bring a meditative lifestyle from India to the United States. He founded a large school of meditative and yogic practices, and made a lot of mistakes tripping over his own ego, yet, by remaining true to his vision, proved that his vision was true.

by Elisabeth Haich


Bamm! A young German teen, hiding out in a basement-like shelter to avoid certain death by the bombings of World War II, with fragments of her safety flying all around her, explosions that nearly deafened her, suddenly found herself back in ancient Egypt preparing for her “initiation” by the High Priest Ptahhotep. The gravity of this moment, the utter fantasy-truth that both filled and defied this moment in time grabs your heart and won’t let go. I was held until the final word on the final page. What appears to be a super-imaginative tall tale of one woman’s memories of how the Law of Karma works, of the esoteric doctrine of reincarnation, of a life back in Egypt that has haunted her since childhood and holds her still, is absolutely true. No one can find a hole in her story. What can be confirmed has been. She left Germany and immigrated to Egypt as soon as she could, becoming an expert with yoga, dream analysis, esoteric lore, reincarnation, and Egyptian history. Her work in archaeology and the study of Egyptian history defies known scholarship. She has proved right again and again. At her death, she was officially recognized as an expert with Egyptology, language, customs: and the actual location of sites others had either ignored or simply could not find. Her life and how she lived it proved her book.

Runes of the North by Siguard F. Olson


One of my first discoveries after I died three times in three months in 1977, and each time had a near-death experience, was runes. Sounds a little strange, granted, but absolutely true. At a “Welcome-to-Boise-Idaho” party for a troupe from California, during a full-moon, I saw for the first time runic stones thrown in the air to seek the answer to a questioner’s question. Nope, not the Nordic Runes, but a far older set with historic roots in the region of the Black Sea and Upper Volga. These were group runes that worked in concert with each other to present a “picture” not only of the question asked, but of the energies around it. True, I was raised by Norwegians in this life, but no one nowhere ever mentioned that strange word “runes.” Yet I instantly “knew them.” For several years, I practiced with a set, writing diligently question/ results, then wrote several books about them, first The Magical Language of Runes, later on, Goddess Runes.  I journeyed three times to Turkey – each time finding out this set/method was commonly used and had been for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until I read this book by Siguard Olson that I learned what real runes are and why they are so powerful, especially the group runes I use. Runes are magical moments in time when one’s heart merges with the power of presence, where creation becomes itself. Siguard, in simple words, shows us the wonder of life, of rivers and lakes, of saunas and snowflakes, of storms and the swaying of tall grasses while ducks play peek-a-boo with what can kill as well as uplift. If you want to know about the passing of life’s moments, what a real “rune” is, read this book. It’s a simple treasure I adore.

The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn


I had never heard the word “psychic” before. Never. Employed by the State of Idaho Commerce Department, a young mother always on the go, I ate my brown-bag lunch under a tree on the Capitol grounds … devouring this book with each swallow of food. It was so new to me then, I could only read a few paragraphs at a time, maybe a page, then I would have to put the book down and for the next while, days, or months, I would have to prove what I read. Did this stuff called intuition, psychic knowing, revelations from on high, really work? During proof-time, I’d set up experiments, go to the library and check out more books, actually do what Cayce did. If any of this was true, really true, then I’d have as much of a chance of “doing it” as anyone else. It took me a year to read this one book; then “I became the book.” Through the trust I gained from believing in myself and the outcomes of my experiments, I joining an Edgar Cayce Study Group. That was 1966. Soon after, I took classes in hypnotherapy specializing in past-life regressions, took classes in astrology and became an astrologer, took classes in numerology and became a numerologist … and so on. To understand something, reading was never enough. I had to do it, prove it through trial and error, find out what it was and how it worked and why. The works of Edgar Cayce were my key to an honest search for truth.

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel


You gotta admire this woman. Jean took classes in how to be a cavewoman, how to do what researchers said our ancestors once did and why. This is her first book about Ayla. There are others which followed – all of them huge books—all of them so detailed with fact and feeling you are right there, you are Ayla—a girl the Cave Clan found and took in to be part of their group— even though she was decidedly different, fair of face and body, unusually curious and intelligent. To the Clan she was ugly, hardly more than scrap and terribly mistreated. But she was useful to the one who healed with herbs. Thus she was able to live and grow up. Later on, she dared to leave the Clan and strike out on her own, finding her own cave, fashioning her own utensils and clothes, learning by experimenting how to keep clean and advance in learning and memory. She meets the man who later becomes her mate—only on her terms. Through experiments and due diligence, she learns which herbs do what, how conception really works, makes her own musical instruments and jewelry, and eventually becoming valuable for what she helps others to accomplish and know. Her understanding of animals, plants, emotions, defy what we were taught in school as what “primitive” could know and do—yet today’s scientists have now proved was true: cavemen and women were not as dumb as we thought but were actually a few steps away from modern people—you and me. Historical fiction? Well, yes. Yet Jean Auel’s books convey truth in such detail and feeling, that you know, absolutely know, that all her books may indeed be her own past-life memories, aka “Initiation” by Elisabeth Haich. I felt as if Ayla was Jean the whole time; she was me in the sense of my own trek through time and space.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

How can anyone describe the power of this book? Can’t be done. On the surface it builds around a trip Robert took with his son on a motorcycle from their home in Minnesota to California. Along the way, he delivers an old-timey series of in-depth stories meant to improve the mind and bring culture and entertainment to the ears and minds of the hearer. It is a search for “what is best” with the creation of a philosophical system that reconciles science, religion, and humanism. The ghost of Robert’s “forgotten tomb of his past” comes to visit, and he calls him Phaedrus. Phaedrus becomes as if a narrator as Robert and his son visit places where they once lived. Interwoven into the storyline is Robert’s deteriorating relationship with his son as his own awareness of “self,” while the subject of mental illness creeps into the story. Zen has been and still is my favorite way of being in the world and enriching the self I am. Yet how this is handled in the book, where everything leads, is shocking. I was totally unprepared for the ending. Nothing in the book prepares you for where this book leads. How the “slam” happens, the shock of it, eventually led me to better understand the after-effects of near-death states, spiritual transformations, and the mystical experience. What is the mind? How can we better understand what can never be fully understood? I did a lot of “peeking under the covers” as per what happened in this book. Surprise! All of it is true. This is not a story. Reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is real