Father Nathan Castle graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio and entered the Dominican order in 1979. He received MA and MDiv degrees from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.
He was Director of the Catholic Communities at Stanford University, and Arizona State University. He believes the Holy Spirit has given him a “night job” of helping souls who died suddenly and violently find afterlife peace.
He is the author of “And Toto, Too: The Wizard of Oz as a Spiritual Adventure” and “Afterlife, Interrupted (Books 1 and 2): Helping Stuck Souls Cross Over.”
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 062
Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show Father Nathan Castle. How're you doing Father Nathan?
Father Nathan Castle 2:20
I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.
Alex Ferrari 2:21
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've was very interested in your work and the kind of work that you do. And I've never come across the kind of work that you do before. So before we get started, how did you begin your spiritual journey?
Father Nathan Castle 2:37
Well, I started in Texas when I was born in Southeast Texas and 56 and 86. And I was raised in the Catholic home. And I often tell people, I didn't just learn the rules and regulations, the externals of the faith, but I had parents and two Dominican aunts who were first grade teachers on the Dominican also. And I learned the spirit. You know, they taught me not just the externals, but they taught me spiritual practice from early on, and it's really followed me throughout my life.
Alex Ferrari 3:09
Now you can you tell the audience, the kind of work that you do now currently.
Father Nathan Castle 3:17
I live on the campus of the University of Arizona, and I'm not a campus minister, by profession any longer I did that for 25 years, I help out here and I do some work at a local church that's without a pastor. I do some online courses. I love teaching scripture to people that never really learned it, except maybe, as you know, in little jog spots here and there. But the work that we'll be talking about today is with people that died suddenly and tragically, violently. They start they started about 25 years ago coming to me in a dream. And then I am showing me something that's a little like a video, you know, dreamscape. Usually it has, you know, it tells me what happened to them. Without it being horrifying. To me. It's sort of buffered. And I, I later get with a prayer partner. And we record this session that we do I allow them to borrow my voice long enough to talk to my partner and explain what's happened to them and what they've been through and they're vetted. They're ready to move from one level to the next in the afterlife, and they just need a little assistance doing that.
Alex Ferrari 4:29
So I have to ask you, when this first happened to you in 25 years ago, you said, what was that? Like? What was that first experience like for you when this first started happening? How did you react to it? How did you handle it? What did you think?
Father Nathan Castle 4:46
Well, even from childhood, I had the practice of consecrating my sleep before I went unconscious. If you could imagine your consciousness being a ball or an object, like a ball, that you could hand to God and say Here take care of this While I'm not using it, because I'm going to be unconscious if you if there's anything you'd like to do, in my unconsciousness with me, I might even be more receptive that way. So feel free. So I had that practice from childhood and it was reinforced in religious life, there's prayer called compliment at the end of the day in a monastery that completes the day and it hands over consciousness to the Holy Spirit, so that you can be available in the night. So that's some of the background.
Alex Ferrari 5:30
So that so, but when you got the first one, what did you What did I mean? I'm assuming this is not normal, when you when it first happened, so it wasn't like a normal occurrence. So what was your reaction? And how did you feel when it first happened to you?
Father Nathan Castle 5:44
It was analogous to being awakened by a pager in the night. Many priests have the experience of being on some sort of rotation if they live near a hospital. And it's your turn on Tuesday to take the pager in case there's a emergency call. And then I so I've had many of those over the years where you're suddenly awakened out of asleep, you're talking to somebody at the nurse's station, you need to rally yourself and write down a patient's number and room number and all that. It felt like that it felt like being called into ministry in the night because of an emergency need.
Alex Ferrari 6:22
Now, what exactly is a stuck soul?
Father Nathan Castle 6:25
Well, I have two books called afterlife interrupted the first one, we use the subtitle helping stuck souls cross over. And it seemed to me that some of them were in a trauma loop, they had died in trauma. Are you familiar with a trauma loop?
I am not please explain?
Well, people that have been through some usually violent trauma sometimes can't get it out of their mind. And the last scene of it replays again, and again, particularly plagues, people coming back from war, where the horrors and somehow some little scene just won't calm down, you know, you just, you involuntarily find yourself stuck in it, replaying it kind of like Groundhog Day, you know, over and over again. Some of them were like that, and needed to in the afterlife, they needed some assistance from a team of people in the afterlife, helping them regain agency control of their own thoughts. That's part of it. So sometimes, sometimes they're stuck that way. Sometimes they had they formed a thought that kind of painted themselves into a corner. It's all my fault to the accident happened and you know, other people died because I did the wrong thing. And you know, now I don't deserve anything good. And so it's, it's, it's not unfamiliar to your audience, if most of us have had at least a period of time when we had some way of thinking that, in the end was unhelpful, and maybe even not that true. But we lived out of it for a time. A lot of people that suffer with addictions are stuck in something like that.
Alex Ferrari 8:13
So it's kind of like that. It's a kind of vicious circle, though, I think we've all experienced at one point or another where there's a thought that, like, I'm not good enough, I can, I can't lose weight. But my mother doesn't love me, whatever that is, it just keeps it keeps, you just keep you get stuck in it, and you can't get out of it.
Father Nathan Castle 8:30
And there probably is a kernel of truth in it. But it gets all, you know, made out of proportion, or whatever it is, it ends up moving away from the truth even though there might be some little kernel of truth in it someplace.
Alex Ferrari 8:46
So what is so can you go through the process of what happens from the beginning to end in a quote unquote, typical eight typical session?
Father Nathan Castle 8:57
Well, and they aren't typical after my wife. So anything that you've done for 25 years has something typical.
Alex Ferrari 9:03
I put it in the air quotes.
Father Nathan Castle 9:08
I go to sleep. And maybe about one night out of the week, I'll have what I call a contact returning. It's not my regular psychobabble of whatever's going on in my psyche. It's, it's from without it's good. It's, it's. And it usually is, as I said earlier, some sort of scene of somebody dying or being in a precarious situation that might cause a death. Lots of car crashes, for example. Not only that drowning, shooting, stabbings, plane crashes, different things. But anyway, I'll have this scene that I'm receiving in a dream. I wake up from it I write it down in a journal that I keep on the nightstand say a quick prayer for the person introduce myself and say good job this. I you know, you've you figured out how to if me and do the thing you just did, I hope I got it right. I'll be in touch with you, you know, sometime soon. Then I have a team of prayer partners, we scheduled regular meetings like you and I had to schedule a time to be on a podcast. And it might seem strange, but we're all busy. And this is not the only thing that I do or that my partners do. So we just scheduled each other. When we're together, we first go into what I call protective prayer. I would not do Weegee boards or talk to just any old spirit, I don't think it's safe to pick up hitchhikers here or hereafter. So I make sure that St. Michael, the archangel, Holy Mary, a lot of that I have a whole different cast of Saint an angel characters that I first asked to surround us and keep us safe. And then I just asked the Holy Spirit to help us be in touch with the person that brought the dream, because it's their turn today. These can be done on Zoom during the pandemic, that you know, being in person was so impossible a lot of the time. But what I record them, and then I get them transcribed. I allow I allow we say we're ready. And a lot of times I'll ask for the guardian angel, the person to give clarity. And just to do something like a mic test. Know that at the beginning of the podcast, you know, can you hear me clearly? You know, do? Do we is there any are any little questions that we need to clarify before we get started? Sometimes, for example, a dream might have a lot of characters in it. And I'm not absolutely sure who's the one we're helping. And that sometimes more than one person crosses at the same time because they can sort of be in a group. So sometimes I'll ask about that. Sometimes something like that gender wasn't clear, somebody died at the wheel of a car. But in the telling of the story, I really couldn't tell whether they were male or female. So their guardian will kind of come on and we'll have a little bit of a chat. And then they'll slide out of the way and say, okay, the one I guard in law is ready to do this thing. And so I'll be right here praying with you that I'm going to slide to the side so that they can talk.
Alex Ferrari 12:13
Now, is it kind of like a channeling? Do they talk through you?
Father Nathan Castle 12:16
They do I avoid that word, because in the Catholic Church, it's radioactive. I don't know that it needs to be necessarily, but that's the state of things. And so I'd prefer to use the word prophesy to describe it. Any anyone that's been raised in mainline Protestantism or, or the Catholic Church would be familiar with a reading at a public service like a mass from one of the prophets like Isaiah. And in in the section that might be read at public worship, there might be a narrative, the prophet Isaiah went from this town to that town. And then when he got there, he ran into this guy, right? Well, then the Prophet then might speak in his own voice, and then move from his voice to someone else, or God using his voice. So there might actually be three speakers in the same block of text. So I think of it that way, my voice doesn't change very much, because it's the same vocal cords with air going through them. If I gave you a violin, would you know what to do with it? Right, you know, it could be a fiddle, you know, it could make the country music or it could be classic. So this, the sound that will come out can vary a little bit. According to coos who's using it, but not an awful lot. It's pretty fixed violin is not going to sound like a tuba, regardless of who plays it.
Alex Ferrari 13:35
Exactly. So then when that person comes through you, they're talking to your prayer partner and explaining what's going on what happened
Father Nathan Castle 13:43
What I call co conscious, I'm not entranced, alert to everything. And my vocabulary is available in terms of a phrase, sometimes people will use a word that they've never used before, but it was available in my vocabulary. So it's, we're partnering sorted that I tried to be pretty much out of the way and just let the person say what they need to say they have to stay in English because that's my only functional language. Although they don't have to have spoken English before they can be from another country and speak foreign their thoughts, as they always have, but they come out in English.
Alex Ferrari 14:22
Now, so when they're talking, what are they saying? And what like so let's say they come in and they speak through you there. There's your recording it and obviously talking to your prayer partner, at what point does, like what's the process after that? Are they just telling their story?
Father Nathan Castle 14:41
Are they I skipped over a point that I should have made clear. When when we're when we after we go into our protected prayer. The first thing I do is read the dream as I wrote it down. And many times they're only a paragraph long. So Sometimes not sometimes they have a lot of detail, but sometimes they'll just be maybe a sentence or just a few ideas. But I'll, I'll read that, I usually pause the recording because it costs money to get it transcribed. So I pause it, we go into prayer a little deeper, we read it a second time, just let it kind of soak in sort of like a tea bag, you know, just just to be still in the story and allow it to to move in us. And then when I'm when I'm, when we've done that, that's when I say, Okay, could we have the Guardian, please, of this person? Or the person themselves? And let's get started.
Alex Ferrari 15:35
And then there's and they're basically just describing their story.
Father Nathan Castle 15:39
Yeah, they're they're usually comment upon, because we just read the stream story, as they related it, they usually comment on it, because it's the last thing we were just talking about. And the prayer partner might say, did we get this right? Do we understand clearly, sometimes they'll be symbology that you didn't quite understand, and they'll make it clear. And then they'll sometimes remark about the process. They've never done this before, either. And they'll talk a little bit about what it was like, I'm told that my consciousness looks like a green sparkly River. Okay, okay. That one guy said, they bring you there, but you still got to launch the boat, you know, like you got, they bring you to the edge, but you still have to get in it. And something like current, you know, it's funny the way we use the word current to talk about money, currency. It's something that flows, we talk about electric current, what you and I are communicating the occurrence right now. And then at the subatomic level, that's what we are, you know, our body has energy, electricity, and energy field. Yeah. And so anyway, that's what they say.
Alex Ferrari 16:51
So at the end of that, that's that session, what happens? Do they go, okay, I'm good. Now, how does it how to continue,
Father Nathan Castle 17:00
They are the session normally doesn't take more than half an hour to 40 minutes, tops, maybe a little bit longer if they're chatty. But usually we when we schedule, we plan on doing two in a row in a couple of hours time with a little break time in between. So the we just listen to their story, they often tell us what it was like to leave the body, you know whether sometimes they're conscious during that process. And other times not. Sometimes they are they woke up in a new place. Many of the ones that we deal with because they went through trauma, trauma or through in something like a health care continuum in the afterlife. Similar to what would happen if you or I were in a wreck on the freeway, and weren't able to care for ourselves, someone would come in and take care of us and take us where we needed to go to heal. And then even in a healthcare setting, you move from maybe the ER to surgery to ICU to a step down room all the way to the end of the line, that I think of myself and my prayer partner says like the discharged staff, the day you leave the hospital because you don't need this any longer. You know, gathering up yourself, you know your meds, do you understand when your physical therapy appointment is Dean, who's coming for you. Partly we supply the ride, we help them figure out who's going to take you they're going someplace they haven't been before. So a guide is necessary. And they understand that. So we help them oftentimes choose a person they'd like to have come for them.
Alex Ferrari 18:33
Now, with all these experiences, how many of you've done in your career? More than 400? So with all of that interaction with stuck souls, and souls that are needing help to get to the other side, what have you learned about the afterlife?
Father Nathan Castle 18:51
One, that one, one thing that we do is before we tell any of their stories in public, we go back to them and ask their permission, which doesn't seem like the right thing to do. Right? When you're in it, you know? Oh, and before you leave, I'm writing a book or you know,
Alex Ferrari 19:06
Can you say can you sign right here?
Father Nathan Castle 19:08
Yeah, that just doesn't seem appropriate. But when, when it comes time to I have two books, and there's 26 stories that have been told publicly, I'm starting a podcast soon. I want to be have that to be another forum where I can introduce a new story, but not until after we've gotten their permission. But toward the end, we we asked them, can you think of someone who loves you who died before you did, who might be willing to come for you? Early on, I asked. I coached my partners to do that all the time. And then I found out that over time, people that are led to mine on it kind of briefed. This is the way these people operate. If you do it this way, they're going to want they're going to ask you this question. So they come prepared to answer that question anymore. And it's either somebody that they knew in their lifetime that they opted for Sometimes they'll take luck of the draw, they'll just say, I don't care. Whoever is the right person, sometimes they'll guardian angels already there. So they'll say, well, the back garden is already here, I don't really need anybody else. Other times, they'll just take the luck of the draw, and the funniest people show up somebody from your first grade class. Some kid you played with, you know, once upon a time, or, you know, most of us in high school had at least one person die while we were in high school, and there was an assembly and maybe we planted a tree. And their honor is I've had that show up, you know, it could just be lots of times it's grandparents. Once in a while, it's celebrities. That can just be just about anybody
Alex Ferrari 20:54
I have to ask you. I mean, this isn't I mean, I was raised Catholic, so I am familiar with, with Catholicism and went through the whole the whole gambit through my teens. What do your contemporaries say about this work your colleagues say about this work?
Father Nathan Castle 21:15
Well, it depends the folks that I live with, I live in a mixed community of four men and three women, and some of them are interested in it and asked about it, and others just don't. We all have our work to do. And we casually keep each other informed about what went on today. But we don't necessarily Delve. So it really depends on the level of the person's interest. I do get some pushback once in a while, you know, get disinvited from a speaking engagement on another topic when they learn about this topic. And I sometimes I'm in the process right now of getting some help from some volunteers about building a body of literature and stuff about people that I've helped. After a show like this one, I might get stuff through my website, or people that want to talk about something spiritual, a lot of people a lot of it is grief support. I didn't write these intended to be Grief Support books. But the pandemic has made death and grieving even more difficult than it was before because a lot of it's happening in isolation, or you couldn't really have a proper funeral. And there's a lot of suicide and a lot of drug deaths that leave people really wondering about their loved one. And are they say,
Alex Ferrari 22:40
What drove you to this kind of work? I mean, this this work is not easy. It's about Well, I mean, just being a priest is not an easy path to walk. What drew you into into this kind of work in general, not the stuck soul work, but just the religious path?
Father Nathan Castle 22:59
Well, as a child, I was raised to believe that I could be anything I set my mind to. A lot of people have had that kind of parenting, I wish more did but you know, what, and they made educational resources available and encouragement and so on. And I remember asking, I went to Trinity in San Antonio. In Austin, I just thought college was a candy store. There's this was everything there the whole universe, you know, on one block of land at the university. And I eventually I asked this question to God, what does the world need one more of that I could be, could I morph into the cut, I think of myself as a pluripotent stem cell, you know, those are running around in your blood system. And if you cut the tip of your finger, there are cells in your bloodstream that know how to become a fingertip. And I just thought I could become what I needed to be what it helped to make the world better and, and being a priest turned out to be my path.
Alex Ferrari 23:59
Now, how does how is time perceived in the afterlife? Because I read that some of the souls that you work with are recent, and others could be hundreds of years. Quote, unquote, 100 years old, they civil war, that kind of stuff. Decades ago, or Yeah, decades ago, how is it perceived? And how is time perceived in that afterlife? From your perspective?
Father Nathan Castle 24:28
At first, I thought that it must be uniform that there must be one way everybody perceives time or doesn't. And I learned over time that it really depends that it for people that want to pay a lot of attention to events on earth. That's, that's a possibility open to them and then they become more conscious of the passage of time. Others look away from it, and they can reenter it. Like for example, if you ask a person what year did you die, you would think they'd have that at their fingertips. Right? But they don't Not always, sometimes they and I, early on I started asking Americans, can you remember the last president? That was, you know, who was the last president you can remember. And that, you know, would put me in a frame of reference. Yeah. One thing that's important as these, these souls might have been stuck or moving slower than others is they're not made to feel like the dumb kids. You know, there's not a one size fits all sort of chronology, you ought to have this accomplished by this amount of time since your death. It's nothing like that they, they just work at a fast pace or a slow pace, depending upon what they want to do. There's still, there's still sequence even if it isn't happening in time. We're used to things happening one after the other after the other, and we keep track of that with a clock. But in the in the afterlife, there's still things that happen as a consequence, and subsequent to other things, even if it isn't measured in time.
Alex Ferrari 26:00
Got it! So, I mean, I'm assuming you've heard of the near death experiences and people that go through that, how is that? Have you met any souls along those paths that have come and gone come and gone, or anything like that?
Father Nathan Castle 26:15
Not that big mentioned, I'm a member of ions, the International Association for near death studies, and I'm around a lot and experiences, I haven't had a near death experience of my own. They have I've had what they call a spiritually transformative experience in Ste. So they're conferences, they always ask everybody in the room who's had an NDA, everybody raise your hand, who said an Ste and my handbook go up there. I haven't run across the people that I've helped in this forum. I haven't had people that said, this is the second time I died, or I nearly died once. And then I did I did die this time. I haven't had that happen. Was that your question?
Alex Ferrari 26:52
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Father Nathan Castle 26:54
No, I haven't run across that.
Alex Ferrari 26:56
Now. The one thing I always found interesting, you know, growing up in the in the cat and Catholic school, is that when they told you, you have an all loving God, but he's also built this torture chamber called hell. Even in first grade, I was like, This doesn't make sense.
Father Nathan Castle 27:16
We're going in the same classroom, because I was sitting there soaking the same thing. I'm like, kids around me, you know, the other kids were doing the same thing.
Alex Ferrari 27:23
We're just like, what is that? What I don't understand that concept. Like, how can you be all loving and then yet torture people for a mistake?
Father Nathan Castle 27:31
Well, I'll tell you right now that some of your listeners are disagreeing with you this second? Oh, I'm sure people feel very impassioned about that. There's another way of looking at that, at what I call the outer darkness, there's that people can still choose to be belligerent, and they can still choose to inflict harm, and not to play well with others, all of that. And they can still do that in the afterlife. And I believe that they have to move off on their own. They're not, they're not allowed to stay in a like company, if they're going to behave that way. I do believe that there is something of the hell with the idea that God created in order to have a place for his enemies. Jesus taught us not to even have enemies. He taught us if you have an enemy love them. Right. And so I believe there's that there's security, you I don't believe you're going to have to lock your doors in the afterlife. I believe that that, that the people that I deal with have all made that choice that they want to be a part of the light and pursuit of truth. And, and there are others that are not doing that yet. But does that have to be does that mean God wanted to create such a place or that it's it's inescapable? Some of this stuff is theologically the proper object of ongoing speculation and mystery. It's really not my my wheelhouse anyway, I'm not dealing with that. I'm dealing with folk that Catholics would call it purgatory. And sometimes I'm asked, why don't you just call it purgatory? And I say, well, that's language that only Catholics use, and not only Catholics die, and I'm not. I'm not dealing with only Catholics. But purge purgatory purge means to cleanse and some of the people I've dealt with, absolutely use that as their main metaphor for what they need to do. They feel they feel like they need to get cleaned up.
Alex Ferrari 29:37
It's so fascinating talking to you, Father, because you you as you speak you you're almost clinical in the way you speak about this. It's just very matter of fact about it, which I find almost refreshing in the way that you are approaching this like it's just like I went, I got up, put on my pants, went to work, did my thing as opposed to others that Just look at it. Like, I can't believe you're doing this kind of work. But you're so as a matter of fact about it.
Father Nathan Castle 30:06
Well, I've been doing it for 25 years, and we're just some commonalities in it. And I'm only my my orders. I'm a Dominican, our orders motto, is there a toss, which is just Latin for truth. And I'm only telling the truth. And whenever people do want to confront me or something, I at least have that as my comfort. I'm, I know that I'm telling the truth. And if it is upsetting to you, Well, I'm not in charge of your response, where your reaction to what I have to say, I'm only saying, the truth is I experience it.
Alex Ferrari 30:47
Now, there's so many things going on in the world today. Oh, there's there's, I mean, climate issues, political issues. We're in the middle. We're on the brink of a possible world war three, for God's sakes, the weapons. Yeah, exactly. So all of these things are happening to the world that feels like there's a shake up there is some sort of rising of consciousness in the planet. There's definitely things changing things that were bedrock before are not bedrock anymore. Even in my lifetime. I've never seen anything like this. I don't think in yours as well. What do you what's your opinion on what's going on? And where do you think this is going to lead for the consciousness of the planet?
Father Nathan Castle 31:32
Well, let me let me describe my response to it. Because there I've not lived through a time that has as much going on all at when you didn't even mention the pandemic.
Alex Ferrari 31:45
At the very end, I said pandemic Yes, but
Father Nathan Castle 31:48
It just really does seem like that piling on, hasn't been out enough. I just believe that I'm here to receive love, growing love, give love. And I can do that on my deathbed. I can do it on my best day on my on my worst day. I just tried to stay focused on that. If everything falls apart around me, they'll still be people to love in fact, there'll be more need of it then perhaps and I like to think that I was put here on purpose at a specific time in place and that if I end up in a place where there's lots and lots of calamity and whatnot well okay, I'll I'll do the best I can to receive love. Magnify love, give love
Alex Ferrari 32:40
Do you Do you see humanity shifting?
Father Nathan Castle 32:45
I'm around a lot of thinkers that that see both all of the the painful stuff, but also sense some growth in human consciousness. There's it's even the object of study here at the University of Arizona there's consciousness studies, programs, and mediumship is being studied here. spirit communication I'm still optimistic I believe in the cosmic happy ending. And man do I see it in spades and working with these people who had horrific deaths. Nobody would like to die the death that these people do, but they end up with a beautiful story to tell afterwards. Not without struggle and effort. But that's the way I'm living I'm I'm playing around with the title joyful Friar for my podcasts because St. Dominic has named him that was his nickname. And it's why I joined this order I didn't want to be a part of any of the ones that had blood and and crosses and grounds of thorns and stuff. I just thought why it's hard enough without kind of making it a theme and so anyway, I just I just tried to be if I can't be joyful this second I can wait there's a prayer in the middle of the mass you know that? I don't know if you've been to one in a while you said you
Alex Ferrari 34:03
Probably not No it's been it's been a few decades
Father Nathan Castle 34:05
Well do you know that that prayer when we're praying the the Our Father together at a mass thanks to a stop at a deliver us from evil. And then the priest says deliver us Lord from every evil grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin that'd be good because it hurts people and protect us from all anxiety. That'd be good too. As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ and I try to live in joyful hope even if I'm not joyful. Just a second. I'm gonna wait a minute now. You're just wait and see.
Alex Ferrari 34:40
Now, can you because I'm ignorant to what fryers are can you explain to the audience what a fryer is as opposed to a priest? Because I mean, and please don't take offense. The only fryer I know is in Robin Hood, and fried duck. So I know of the man I know what a monkey but what is a fryer specifically?
Father Nathan Castle 35:00
The word is from. In French, it would be frère or fraud tear in I live across the alley from a fraternity. It just means brother. Okay, oh, we join a family of brotherhood. But within that some of us most of us become priests. And we're the title that we use as father. But I'm also within the order I'm brother so fryer is just a word for brother.
Alex Ferrari 35:27
Okay, so So is there is that a this is that a subset of Catholicism or religious life?
Father Nathan Castle 35:34
We were the first US and the Franciscans were the first Catholic organizations to leave the monasteries. Monasteries go all the way back to really well, the aeromedical movement going out into the desert with predates Christianity. But Benedictine ism is from way back from like the three hundreds we go back to the 1200s. But we were among the first to have the spirituality, the prayer life of a monk, but not behind the walls out doing things in the world. Got it. Okay. We're called semi contemplative. So at my best, I'm supposed to have the contemplative quietude of a monk, but the availability to you and to other people outside the walls.
Alex Ferrari 36:18
Fair enough. That's a great definition. I wanted to ask you what is pre death visitation.
Father Nathan Castle 36:27
That's I was just talking to somebody the other day, I'm doing a funeral soon for a woman that just had one. Pre death visitation is that experience of a person, especially people that in hospice, where their death is, is approaching. And it's, it's understood that it's coming, where people start having, you might be in the room visiting your loved one, and they start talking to their mother, who died 30 years ago, where there begins to be an overlap of worlds of visits from people that are on the other side, kind of getting the dying person ready to leave and come with us.
Alex Ferrari 37:13
Got it. And that happens. I've been I've had experiences in my family where, you know, a relative is dying or dies. And we don't know about it till the morning. But you have a dream with that relative that night, something that happened as a child, I personally have never had that happen to me. But I've had relatives who've told me like, I had a dream with Aunt, whoever, who was at the edge of my bed last night. And then when I woke up this morning, I found out that she she had passed, we knew she was going, you know, she was it was like, you know, either cancer or something that was she was going but it just happened that that so that those kinds of visits it and I had my grandmother talk about it. My you know, my other family and a handful of family members have had that happen.
Father Nathan Castle 38:00
I've always, that wouldn't be a pre death visitation because it sounds like the person already left the body and visited, you know,
Alex Ferrari 38:08
Maybe it could have either been that or it could have been the Yeah, I guess I don't know. It wouldn't be a pre death visitation. But I have heard of like that. Exactly. That example that you gave was likely to start talking to their mother who died 30 years ago.
Father Nathan Castle 38:23
But there's also another genre and other set of stories about like, grandchildren knowing that Mama passed during the night. Nobody, you know, oftentimes, elder elders will somehow visit a grandchild on their way out say goodbye or something like that.
Alex Ferrari 38:42
The kind of work that you do. Is there a history of it? There? Is like how, how far back? Is there any recorded any recordings about this kind of work?
Father Nathan Castle 38:54
Yeah, the ancient Greeks had a word for it called psycho pomp. A person that did this kind of help. I haven't really researched it, you think I might, but I just stayed. I'm doing I've read. I've read very lightly around that. And, and I know that it shows up in different religious traditions and cultures and so on. And since I've been public about this for about the last three years, I routinely get contacted by people who also do this kind of work, but they do it in very different ways and styles,
Alex Ferrari 39:29
Right and different either Judaism or Hinduism or or
Father Nathan Castle 39:32
No religion at all. It does it while she quilts. Something about she gets very calm when she's quilting. And then quilting I guess involves layers of different kinds of fabrics that you're putting together and surfing or moving somebody from one level to the next happens while she quilts and I sometimes talk with people because some of their spiritual experiences feel sort of intrusive, and I just coached them into saying if you if you have spiritual Gifts that that you believe that you're to use, you are the you're in charge of you, you get to say when you do it and when you don't, you don't have to be open 24/7 You can, you can lead a life with a spouse and kids and a job and still do this by choosing when and where you want to employ you don't, it doesn't have to be random.
Alex Ferrari 40:33
Now, in a lot of Eastern philosophies, meditation is really heavy, it's very it's having in the practice of what they do on a daily basis, to reach the inner, the inner self, the higher self, what what do you do in your practice to touch the touch the higher self within you,
Father Nathan Castle 40:51
I I do contemplative sits where I tried to think of nothing and be still and be then eventually, anybody that meditated for a while you, you can begin to look down on yourself and see yourself from another point of view. Sometimes that's called the observer. And once you get used to observe in yourself and contemplation, you can see a lot of foolishness and see a lot of reactivity. You know, somebody? Well, I get you know, people get angry at me because of things I said on a podcast, and then write me an ugly email. While do I have to react to that, not, I don't have to I could go into my higher self. Because my meditative practice has taught me how. And I can just say God bless them. And go on to the next thing and not have my consciousness. All roiled about that kind of thing.
Alex Ferrari 41:49
So these contemplative sets are a form of meditation, if you will.
Father Nathan Castle 41:53
Yeah, I distinguish between meditation and contemplation, I was taught that meditation can involve active symbology. And image, I have a guy, I've wrote a book on the Wizard of Oz. And I have a Wizard of Oz based meditation. At the beginning of the film, Dorothy is dismissed by everybody, by Yachty. By being told, you're always wearing yourself into her forever, that they go and find yourself a place where there isn't any trouble. So I have this meditation, that's called the place where there isn't any trouble, where you use each of your five senses and ask the Holy Spirit to bless them, and take you to this place within That's trouble free, that's unique to you. And anybody that wants that, I can send them a copy of it. That that would be full of imagery, which would be the opposite of contemplation, which is trying to think of nothing.
Alex Ferrari 42:46
Now, can you tell me a little bit about that book, The Wizard of Oz book?
Father Nathan Castle 42:50
Yeah, let me get a copy of it. I got one sitting right here, I should have put it on the desk where I wouldn't have to leave. But here you go. It's my first book, I came out in 2011. So it's more than a decade old now. But here's a picture of it. To the Wizard of Oz is a spiritual adventure. Well, I mean, so many people, like yourself that have some childhood training in for an organized religion, but who are disaffiliated from that. And one of the one of the consequences of that is we begin to not have common stories, because we don't come together to hear them. And part of the kind of, I think social fragmentation in the US is partly a consequence of the depopulating of the religious bodies. There aren't as many people that go to church, or mosque or synagogue or whatnot, on a weekly basis, as there were when I was a youngster. So we're losing some common story and some common language. But one common story that most of us have is the Wizard of Oz. And in my childhood, you know, it only came on once a year, and you had to watch it, you know, you couldn't record it. And it brought people together, across generations. And it was a Super Bowl party before there even was the Super Bowl. People talked about it for weeks in advance where they were going to watch and what they were going to eat. And so I just watched it create community. So I, some years ago, thought, let's take this book and walk through it, kind of contemplatively and I was asking, why is it been seen by more people than I've ever seen any movie ever made? You're a communicator, you're a podcaster you're trying to reach an audience. Why is this got a wider audience than any movie ever made?
Alex Ferrari 44:47
Why did why? That's a good question. Because I mean, I come from the film industry. So I've studied film and I've been a filmmaker and so on. So I mean, of course, I've seen the Wizard of Oz many times. But you're absolutely right is probably one of those films that has been watched more times than any other film ever made, almost I mean, I've gone with the wind, but that it's still a little bit older. For its time, it was big. You could argue Star Wars has been seen by so many people around the world affected, affected billions of people around the world, there are certain films but Wizard of Oz is just one of those universal films that almost everybody has heard of, at one point or another.
Father Nathan Castle 45:30
Yes. And oftentimes, if you sing the first few notes of a song, they I liked that because I'm very big on the incarnation, the Christian and Catholic idea of God living inside us, living all around us and being within us. And the Wizard of Oz story is incarnate inside of people. You don't have to tell them about it from outside, they already have it inside, and you're just reminding them of something that's within.
Alex Ferrari 45:55
So So what is it? What is it about that story that rings so true? Because I mean, look, in today's world, the visual effects and the the the pageantry of what it was in the 30s, when it was made, doesn't hold up in the same way. But yet, there's still something about that story that connects on a primal level. What do you think that is?
Father Nathan Castle 46:18
Well, do you know Joseph Campbell's work?
Alex Ferrari 46:19
Of course, he had his journey. Yes.
Father Nathan Castle 46:21
Yeah. And, and the monomyth he believed that underneath all the major stories in the world, especially origin stories, how the world came to be, and heroic, individual stories, right. follow a similar circular pattern. And and the odds story follows that pattern of a somebody minding their own business having something in a rough ordinary world, and demanded the extraordinary world where they meet the the allies and the Nemesis, around I think that have gone on clockface. By the time you get to around six o'clock, six and seven, you're fighting a battle that could kill you. You finish that battle, only to find there's another one after that, when you're exhausted. Now you've got to do the next thing
Alex Ferrari 47:06
It's the point of no return to like there's a point where you can't go back to your ordinary world, you have to keep going all these
Father Nathan Castle 47:12
And if you were to go back and look at the at at the Wizard of Oz, think of the story just before she clicks her heels together. She said she knows she's leaving here. You know, the thing with that balloon took off, but now she's definitely gonna get to go home. And that's like a deathbed scene. She's saying goodbye to all these people, and she'll never see them again. But I don't belong here. And I need to go like that. Did you ever have to tell somebody, Mom, it's okay. You know, you can go now, that happens a lot in hospice work. She's told it's time to go and she can go and it's not a bad thing. But I have to say goodbye. And then she wakes up in her bed with another with the same people. They're just looking a little different. All the characters that she just said goodbye to are at her bedside in Kansas.
Alex Ferrari 48:00
So would you so would you consider the hero's journey and specifically Wizard of Oz and analogy for our experience here on Earth, because it seems it seems that way that you, you go your ordinary world is let's say the other side, you come here, you incarnate, you go through life. And then you say goodbye. And you're back to where you started. But a little different.
Father Nathan Castle 48:26
And not only different, but um, Campbell called it greening the place of origin, the elixir of life or whatever, something that knowledge, all the knowledge and experiences that you've just had enrich the new world. And it's, it's not the world that you left. You maybe you and I do a retreat based on it. I have one already to go on Zoom. But for people that love film, walk through it together and pondering it. Yeah, because I mean,
Alex Ferrari 48:56
I mean, contemporary, The Wizard of Oz for my generation and Star Wars. I mean, that's that's the movie that it follows the hero's journey so perfectly, because George Lucas actually spoke to Joseph Joseph Campbell about it and worked with it and is as perfect of an example of every point in the hero's journey that has ever been made. And that movie, obviously had spectacle, also, but there's very few films from the 70s that hold the same way that Star Wars does, maybe Rocky, which also has a hero's journey, you know, but like there's, you know, Easy Rider doesn't hold the same taxi driver, the great but doesn't hold the same. It doesn't have that kind of general feeling that everybody just adores it. Rocky and rocky and Star Wars are the only two from that era that hold in that same way and even Rockies dated where Star Wars, not as dated. It doesn't feel as dated. There's something so primal about that story that we all I can feel and the Wizard of Oz was an earlier incarnation of that.
Father Nathan Castle 50:04
And it never really goes away. It keeps being refashioned or so this. This is the 100th anniversary of Judy Garland's birth. Now, there are all kinds of festivals that are all you know about Kansas towns with yellow brick roads. Anywhere that Frank Baum, the author or Judy Garland ever lived, there's a festival and so on. It never really goes away. And Halloween mean those chases showing up all over the place.
Alex Ferrari 50:32
Wicked I mean, the whole the whole wicked Broadway show. I mean, yeah,
Father Nathan Castle 50:35
I would love to see wicked the film, they tried making it into a film. And I don't know why the project collapsed, but it
Alex Ferrari 50:41
Tollywood that's why.
Father Nathan Castle 50:46
But for I'm 66 years old, I met and anybody my age and older has that shared experience of crowding into a living room and watching Wizard of Oz every year in a crowd. So there's still a group of people that are now later in their life, for whom it really is a good vehicle for self reflection, and pondering my whole life story. And I do retreats asking, Where are you in this circle? You know?
Alex Ferrari 51:12
Right! Where are you in the hero's journey right now? Because there is. I mean, I've I've studied Joseph Campbell's work extensively throughout my career, and not just by watching movies, but reading his books, and I have his book one of his power of myth right behind me as we speak. Have you ever talked to him? No, I was not. I've only spoken to somebody who was friends with him. I've never had the blessing of talking to him before he passed.
Father Nathan Castle 51:36
I mean after
Alex Ferrari 51:38
No, not after either. I don't have your skill sets.
Father Nathan Castle 51:46
You can always say hey, remember how to do this. No, free sky. Your buddy Father Nathan, it, they hear you and they can be part of your team.
Alex Ferrari 51:59
Well, it's really it's fascinating because that his work, you and you start analyzing your life. We all go through many hero's journeys throughout our lives, you know, whether it's at a job through a relationship, there are no points of return, you have your ordinary life. So let's say I'm living in this one time, like, I'm gonna move, you're leaving the ordinary world to go on an adventure to a new place or, like Austin. Oh, exactly. I lived in Los Angeles for you know, over a decade. That was my comfort zone. Before I lived in Los Angeles. I was in Florida. So leaving Florida as a young man going to Los Angeles, not knowing anybody was completely unknown. And there was moments where just like, Could I go back, I never thought of that. But you know, there's, there's, I love the point of no return, which is about 12 minutes. 12 o'clock on the six o'clock on the on the clock, if you're doing the hero's journey as a clock, around six o'clock halfway through the story, there is something that happens that after that moment, there is no returning back to where you you are either changed, or something has happened. so dramatic that the bridge has been burned, you have to move forward. Up until that point at any moment, you could have chosen to go back. And that's a really interesting concept when it comes to your own storyline in your own life.
Father Nathan Castle 53:24
While on the retreat. Sometimes, if especially if I get people for like a weekend, I love to do residential retreats or a weekend course during the pandemic those going away. But maybe they'll come back when you get to have have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the same people and kind of leave your ordinary world for a while. Maybe even turn the phone off. If you dare not check your stocks or whatever it is that people are doing when they're on their phones. You get to be in a in a in a small world with people. And you can start talking about what are some circles that have come full circle, what are parts of my life that already have resolved. And as you get older, you can look at some of those resolutions. And you can apply the lesson to the one that's unfinished right now. You know, you might be in the middle of something right now. But you can say you know, now that I think about it, it reminds me a little bit about this earlier part of my life. And that didn't come out so bad. Or even if it did, I survived it.
Alex Ferrari 54:21
It's interesting because I look at a life's journey as a storyline in a movie, where there's the overarching arc of the entire story, right? But within it, there's subplots that are constantly going around and these like little mini journeys. And each mini journey is essentially a scene in a movie. So that scene has a beginning, middle and end. So you go through a hero's journey, even in these little scenes. So that's why throughout your life, there's like a relationship. You know, you have kids, a new job and a career change. Something happened steer your body, you shifting your body when which loved ones, deaths of loved ones, all these kinds of things that are constantly shifting you. But there is an overarching arc. And you can only look at that from the observers point of view as you get older. So I'm, I'm 47. So I've, I've been around the, around the block a few times. And now you, you start getting to the point where you start looking back at your own journey, and you just like, what I thought was the worst thing could have ever happened to me, was actually, I'm really blessed that it did happen, even though it was a horrible experience. But I thought if we co lead a retreat like that, we can have a conversation about it. That'd be interesting.
Father Nathan Castle 55:44
Yeah, I'd love to come to Austin.
Alex Ferrari 55:46
That would be it'd be a very interesting conversation without without question. Now, I'm going to ask you, father, a couple of questions, that I ask all my guests, what is your mission in this life?
Father Nathan Castle 56:01
It's to receive love, magnify, love, give love.
Alex Ferrari 56:07
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Father Nathan Castle 56:11
I believe that's it. Same thing. I believe that we, I believe were created, I don't believe we're accidental. And I believe that we're fashioned, where everything I'm looking at on your screen was designed. And it The Aquinas and an Aristotle taught that nothing comes to be actually until it first existed in the mind of its creator. And I believe that the universe existed in the mind of its creator. And you and I were part of that. Imagine to have work. Even in the Bible on page one. When the curtain opens, you meet God. And the first thing God's doing is creating a creative die. And so am I. I think we're just chips off the block. We're doing what comes naturally because we came from a creator, and were given the opportunity to create so and then I just think, you know, Didn't your parents teach you to try to leave live leave the world better than you found it?
Alex Ferrari 57:12
Very much so very much.
Father Nathan Castle 57:15
I just think you can do that every day of your life. You did that on a deathbed if you have to. You can smile at the nurse.
Alex Ferrari 57:23
Smile as the nurse and you're absolutely right. That doesn't take a lot. Doesn't take a lot. It doesn't take a lot but I agree with you without question. Now where can people find out more about you your books your work in in the work that you're doing?
Father Nathan Castle 57:38
The easiest places through my website, which is my name, nathan-castle.com so the website's nathan-castle.com. If you go to the upper right of the homepage, there's different icons for social media, the YouTube one, during the pandemic, I've had the leisure to get it all cleaned and organized. It's not a mess anymore. It used to just be kind of this digital dump. Now it's it's really organized. I do a lot of stuff that's not related to the afterlife work as well. I teach them scripture and I teach meditation and different things. Those are probably the best. And I would if you want to contact me and get a reply, go to the website and on the upper left, there's one of those little envelope icons that gives you an email. So it's info at nathan-castle.com I'm very responsive to that I don't like Facebook Messenger. And I don't you know, I sometimes I don't even think to check all these other websites for stuff. If you really wanted response out of me. Send me an email because I'm one on that all the time.
Alex Ferrari 58:47
Father, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's I appreciate the work that you're doing. And and thank you for for everything that you do. And thanks for being on the show.
Father Nathan Castle 58:56
Well, it's been a joy. Thanks for having me.
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