The Saint Stephen the Martyr Experience

An account of teachings received from the spirit of Saint Stephen the Martyr between 1973 and 1980, together with an account of the accompanying synchronistic experiences. (The medium was Thomas Ashman).

The Reverend Michael Cocks, MA (NZ), MA (Oxon), has been a priest in the Anglican Church of New Zealand for 65 years and has served in Canterbury, New Zealand and Gothenburg, Sweden, in the Diocese of Europe.

Thanks to the support of my publisher, Jonathan Beecher of White Crow Books.

You may also want to read the Rev Michael Cock's The Ground of Faith Journal: Proving human experience and scientific studies

The Ground of Faith Journal features semi-monthly issues going back to 2003, all readable online, covering the world of afterlife communication and near death studies and other similar subjects at the intersection of science and religion.

Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr

Into the Wider Dream

Book 1: The Teaching

Afterlife Teaching
from Stephen the Martyr:
Conversations about the Spiritual Life

Book 2: The Accompanying Synchronicities

Into the Wider Dream: Synchronicity in the Witness Box

Published by White Crow Books, October 2011

Published by White Crow Books, April 2015

Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr records seven years of conversations, through a trance medium, with a spirit person identifying as Saint Stephen the 1st Century Christian Martyr. 

The conversations took place between 1973 to 1980 in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the medium was Tom Ashman.

Stephen's Prayer

Lord let me forget that I am me
Let me know that I am with thee
Let me not separate myself from thee
Because I am me

Associated with the Stephen experience was much meaningful coincidence, or synchronicity.

Into The Wider Dream surveys what theoretical physicists and psychologists have written about this phenomenon, as well as recounting an extended series of personal meaningful coincidences which occurred before, during and after the Stephen Experience.

Much involved, over several years, in these synchronistic scenarios, were:

 Prof. Mary Rose, Dept of Religion and Philosophy, Baltimore, Maryland; Professor Steven Rosen, Staaten Island College Suny, NY, Philosophy and Psychology, now Vancouver; Dr David Bohm, Birkbeck College, London; Norman Kjome, Astronomy and Physics, University of Wyoming, USA; The Rev Prof. Sjoeard Bonting,  Biology, University of Nijmegemn Netherlands, and adviser to NASA on extraterrestial biology; Dr John Moss, Dept Physics, Middlesborough, Cleveland UK; The Rev Joakim Thoreson, Gothenburg, Sweden; Hyacinth Osterlin, Gothenburg and Vienna; and several of the group actually questioning Stephen in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Recently, Bruce Scott-Hill, Nelson, NZ, who received a literary award for his book The Paranormal Is Normal. (A demonstration of the reality of reincarnation). He has produced many articles and his website deserves careful scrutiny.

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(This is the revised and expanded second edition of a book formerly published in a small print run in the early 2000s as The Stephen Experience).

Purchase on (paperback)

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(This book was also published in the 2000s in small print run as Into the Wider Dream, and has now been revised and expanded).

Was it really Saint Stephen? What did he teach?

Many kinds of internal evidence, and the very spirituality of the teachings, have led some linguists, scientists, theologians, and philosophers to affirm that the teaching is genuinely Stephen's.

Saint Stephen's teaching is in line with that of the Sermon on the Mount, the Perennial Philosophy, the Stoics, and the thinking of some leading modern theoretical physicsts. It is also very similar to modern Franciscan theology. It relates to the main themes of Christianity: the Fall, the Cross, the Atonement, Salvation, Life in Christ, the Communion of Saints, Grace, Holy Spirit, Guidance, and Love.

Stephen turns our normal thinking on its head, seeing all things from the point of view of the universal world of spirit. His theology is close to that of St John. Yet his Christ is universal, and not confined to Christianity. This Christ, while revealed in organised religion, is in all, through all, and above all. Stephen focuses so much on Christianity's heart, that Evangelicals, Charismatics, Catholics, and Liberal Christians alike, could accept his spiritual guidance, and be led ever deeper in life in Christ.

That Stephen made himself known, and taught, in itself speaks volumes about the resurrection, and the reality of life in Spirit.

Hear Stephen speak

Most of the Stephen conversations were tape-recorded in the 1970s but only typewritten transcripts have survived. However the last two conversations - one in 1980, and one in 1993 - have been archived to computer media and you can hear Stephen (via Tom Ashman) speak here.

(MP3 file - 45 minutes of recording. Audio clarity improves after first couple of minutes.)

These two conversations are described in Afterlife Teaching:

S. 139, May 31, 1980 p. 223
S. 140, May 3, 1993, p.226

About Thomas Ashman

Thomas Ashman and his role as a medium for Saint Stephen

A Celtic Essene Follower of Jesus

On one memorable occasion, Stephen (through Tom) spoke a short phrase in a dialect of Koiné Greek spoken in Macedonia and Thrace.

"Karno dioti, dieta dioti, karno dioti, boro zelai lenaika mela diesta"

which, after twenty years of linguistic detective work, Michael Cocks believes translates as:

"For this Celt [literally: carnyx], the sacred wine must now be diluted with water"

Michael's translation has been checked by two classical Greek scholars. They agree that the words are genuinely of that time and place. (Read what these scholars wrote in detail).

Michael believes this phrase was one Stephen spoke at his initiation as a teenager into the Essene community, a significant event in his life. The detective work seems to show that Stephen's parents were born in Thrace and although Jews, saw themselves as Celts; that Stephen was born near Ancyra (modern Ankara) in Galatia. Stephen claimed to have been born across the river from Ancyra in a small village called Seletar, which he said meant 'the fourth landing place' (which is indeed a possible translation).

Stephen's Greek words make good sense if we accept his statement that they were spoken to Joseph the parent of Jesus, who was a leader in the Nazarene sect of Essenes in Galilee. Stephen would have completed two years as a novice and was about to be admitted as a full member through participation in the Nazarene Messianic Communion service. From this background he preached the gospel of Jesus. He was neither identified with the Jerusalem church, nor with St. Paul.

The War Trumpet

Stephen called himself a Celtic War Trumpet - a Carnyx.

(Listen to the sound of a Carnyx)

(Read Wikipedia on the Carnyx and Celtic music)

A Carnyx or Celtic War Trumpet

Reviews for
Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr

Reviews for
Into the Wider Dream

The Rt Rev Edward Holland

former Assistant Bishop of Europe, former Bishop of Colchester

"– I have been very affected by it.   What comes to mind immediately is:  

1. the sense of life after death being very close, very normal and not very intimidating;  

2. Stephen’s experience of being at first after his death very tied up with his identity as Stephen but later leaving that behind and only picking it up again in order to communicate with Thomas and the others;  

3. the way in which individuality becomes much less important but that nevertheless the ‘ego’ is not something to be avoided but something which contributes to this experience of being part of the whole." . . . . .

"It has to be said that most people do not really believe in God at a rational level, though probably most do at an emotional level.   This is why almost everyone fumbles over the resurrection of Jesus.   For most it's an impossible

What Stephen confirms for me is that it is an entirely natural event, which if only they believed should surprise no one.   As Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, the great Russian Orthodox leader in this country who died a year or so ago said -  I paraphrase him:   'How strange to believe that life can die and not believe that life can live!' "

Aug. 2004

The late Professor Mary Carman Rose

formerly professor of philosophy at Goucher College, Towson Md., former editor of The Journal of the Academy of Religion and Psychic Research (now Journal of the Academy of Spirituality and Consciousness Studies), and taught in a seminary for Catholic priests.

"all my life I had been having experiences which I thought of as "meaningful and significant coincidences." Thus, the correspondence about synchronicity with Michael Cocks became a turning point in my interest in synchronicity..."

Mary Carman Rose had written a long evaluation of Into the Wider Dream long before it was finally published.  She and the author had corresponded for ten years on synchronicity, many experiences with her featuring in this book.

(Read full review)

The Rt Rev Dr David Coles

former Bishop of Christchurch. His doctorate was in Inter-Faith studies.

"Michael is a retired priest in this diocese and has for many years explored alternative religious experiences. The book is certainly not mainstream but for those who wish to explore "other dimensional" spiritual experience through the eyes of an Anglican priest focusing on the Communion of Saints, it will be of considerable interest."

Professor Steven Marc Rosen

Steven Rosen was involved in  the Stephen experience, with a number of jaw-dropping synchronicities.

"I thoroughly enjoyed this enchanting book and recommend it to all readers interested in the phenomenon of synchronicity."

(Read full review)

The late Professor Mary Carman Rose

formerly professor of philosophy and religion at Goucher College, Towson Md., former editor of The Journal of the Academy of Religion and Psychic Research (now Journal of the Academy of Spirituality and Consciousness Studies), and taught in a seminary for Catholic priests.

"A wondrous book!  St Stephen is a fine spiritual director. I am grateful for the gaining of new insights into some centrally important Christian beliefs. My own gift of faith in eternal life has been given wonderful support in this volume."

Dr Howard Jones

Howard and Jenny Jones maintain a website called Spirit of Oneness

"The central question that this book explores is: Are these events simply the result of chance, or do they represent earthly consequences of Fate, karma, or predestination ordained by a Higher Power?"

(Read full review)

Professor Richard Cocks

Dept. of Philosophy at  Oswego State Univ. NY.

 "Probably the most compelling aspect of this book is the warmth of his personality, his consistently loving attitude, and the gentle humour that pervades what he says."

Bruce Scott-Hill

Former New Zealand Telecom engineer, author of  The Paranormal is Normal, the Science Validation to Reincarnation. (Winner of the NZ Ashton Wylie 2016 Mind, Body and Spirit Literary Award.)

" a serious and important contribution to the subject."

(Read full review)

Dr John Moss

scientist, and lifelong student of communicators like Stephen

“St. Stephen is a mystic and a philosopher. His viewpoint is from that of the Whole, the One, the eternal order.”  

Nate Cull

a member of Michael's church for the last 15 years, technical support and occasional writer for The Ground of Faith, Nate has recently begun a blog on the subject of Christian theological themes in the Spiritualist and New Age movements: Matched With Love Secretly

"a record of an intriguing piece of history which deserves a wider audience."

(Read full review)

Leslie Price

founder of The Christian Parapsychologist

“Biblical characters have a long history among the psychic pioneers, notably in a group around Stainton Moses and in the Scripts of Cleophas written by Geraldine Cummins. But the unusual feature of the present case is xenoglossy, (speaking in a foreign language.) ‘Twice,’ Cocks recalls, ‘Stephen spoke a little in the language he used 2000 years ago, the form of Greek spoken in Macedonia and Thrace.’ The book traces the attempts to understand this. Cocks comes from a line of priests, and has a background in both philosophy and theology, and in Liberal Christianity.”

Victor Zammit

Dr Zammit has been a Supreme Court laywer in Australia, who together with his wife produce a widely read weekly e-journa. He has written an Amazon Best seller, "A lawyer presents the case for the afterlife, Irrefutable Evidenc

What would you do if you were a Christian minster with a Master's in theology from Oxford and you had the chance to speak face to face with one of the early Christian saints through a deep trance medium?

Fortunately for us Rev Michael Cocks had a deep and long standing interest in psychic research and was open minded enough to listen to the spirit who claimed to be St Stephen the first Christian martyr. He found the medium to be of impeccable character with no knowledge of early Christian history and certainly no knowledge of ancient Greek. So when research revealed that the Greek spoken by the spirit was a version of Attic Greek of 2,000 years ago as spoken in trance where St Stephen' s parents had lived his interest was intensified.

(Read full review)

Michael Tymn

Michael has been editor of the Academy  of Religion and Psychical Research journals, and written many widely read book relating to the afterlife. Many of his books are published by White Crow Books Guildford,, UK

"The "Stephen" referred to in the title is St. Stephen, the Christian martyr of nearly 2000 years ago. However, this fascinating book is not about St. Stephen and his times. It's about the meaning of life and death, as communicated to the author, a retired Anglican priest, and several others by St. Stephen through a New Zealand trance medium, Thomas Ashman, during the 1970s.

Author Michael Cocks explains that Ashman's wife, Olive, heard her husband speak in Latin while he was sleeping one night, and on subsequent nights she recorded his words on tape. They turned out to be profound messages on spiritual matters. Ashman soon developed into a trance medium, as the author and a few friends gathered periodically at Ashman's home to hear St. Stephen's discourses and to ask questions of him.

(Read full review)

A story of synchronicity from December 2017....

Hyacinth Österlin was a much loved member of the Anglican church in Gothenburg  Sweden, when I was British chaplain there. Some time after the death of her husband, she moved to Vienna, to be near her brother. In Vienna there is a great cathedral dedicated to St Stephen.

On 26 December 2017 - the Feast of Stephen - I wrote a piece on my White Crow blog about the martyrdom of Stephen.

Completely unknown to me, on that very day Hyacinth in Vienna was visiting the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, hearing its great Pummerin Bell tolling (which only rings on very special occasions - such as Easter, Christmas Eve and the Feast of Stephen) - and also was able to see a very precious relic of Stephen which the Cathedral holds, which is not normally available to public display.

When she returned home that day, Hyacinth was much surprised to read my blog entry on the very same subject!

Read Hyacinth's story here

See my February 2018 issue of The Ground of Faith, telling the story of this synchronicity from both sides.

Watch video taken by Hyacinth of St Stephen's Cathedral, with the Pummerin bell tolling

A photograph of Hyacinth holding the precious Stephen relic

Dr Howard Jones

School teacher in North Wales, authof several books on spirituality, contributor of articles in the Journal of the

"I clearly cannot do justice, within a review of a few hundred words, to the wisdom presented here in more than 300 pages of questions and profound responses. Many answers are given in enlightening but thought-provoking metaphors. This is not a book to be skimmed through – it is an intense wisdom teaching about how and why we should live our lives the way we do. Although there are many references to Jesus Christ, the underlying messages are relevant to those of any religion – or none."

(Read full review)

Roy L Hill

Author of Psychology and the Near Death Experience; Journey with God, and many other titles

As someone somewhat skeptical of medium work, I was skeptical buying this book. However, the theological meat was without precedent. Not standard Evangelical Christian fair, Stephen's words respected Biblical teachings but more from a near death experience point of view. In other words, what he was saying was consistent with people who had interacted with spiritual beings while in heaven. Yet, in some ways, Stephen goes further in explaining some of the biggest theological questions in a coherent manner. For these reasons, I became a believer. Even if one is not, the content in this book will give any spiritual seeker much to ponder. This is one of the most intriguing spiriitual books I have read - and I have read many. Thus, I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to go deep

Bruce Scott-Hill

Former New Zealand Telecom engineer, author of  The Paranormal is Normal, the Science Validation to Reincarnation. (Winner of the NZ Ashton Wylie 2016 Mind, Body and Spirit Literary Award.)

I believe there is justification to consider St Stephen’s teachings an important valid adjunct and modern update to Biblical teachings.

Having read many “teaching” mediumistic type books over the years, of which the Rev. Michael Cocks’s ‘St Stephen book’, is a good example - never have I encountered such a book as this. Having now read it multiple times, I believe it to be nothing other than what most of us have always hoped for, namely an update and adjunct to the Bible, but appropriate to today’s world.

While it obviously could never be regarded as a replacement for the Bible, its coverage as a single book and teaching source, is suitably vast (with 5 parts, some 149 teachings/chapters, within a book of 322 pages). It also has merit for a reader - in that it comprises a comprehensive unambiguous consistent teaching - compared with the multiple sources of a notable variable quality and provenance one encounters in the Bible.

(Read full review)

Elene Gusch

This is a truly extraordinary book. I think it gives the clearest explanations I have seen anywhere of the knotty problem of free will vs. predestination. It also makes greater sense of the meaning of Jesus' death and its aftermath than most anything else I have seen. Stephen's perspective is that of a multidimensional entity with long and broad experience, but also someone who was present at the very earliest beginnings of Christianity, before the layers of myth and dogma had a chance to accumulate and obscure its essence.

The entity who presents himself as Stephen has a wonderfully charming, gentle combination of wisdom and humility. I feel ennobled by spending time with his words. The only problem is that I can only read a little of this book at a time. It is so packed with profound ideas to consider that I have to put it down and go off to let it sink in for a while. Sometimes the language is a bit dense, but it is also beautiful and lyrical

Nate Cull

a member of Michael's church for the last 15 years, technical support and occasional writer for The Ground of Faith, Nate has recently begun a blog on the subject of Christian theological themes in the Spiritualist and New Age movements: Matched With Love Secretly

This book is the public record of an extraordinary event that occurred in my home town in New Zealand in the 1970s: a series of conversations, through a medium in deep trance, with an entity identifying himself as the Christian Saint Stephen. These conversations happened over a period of about ten years, tailing off by the late 1970s. Tapes of the sessions were recorded and transcribed; 'Afterlife Teaching' is an edited, condensed summary of these transcripts, organised by thematic chapters.

(Read full review)

About the Author

Michael Cocks, fourth generation Anglican priest in Christchurch, New Zealand, has honours degrees in philosophy in NZ and theology at Oxford. He studied for the ministry at Ripon Hall, Oxford, and in vacation time lived with a leader of English Modernism, Dr Henry D.A. Major. He was ordained in 1953.

Perhaps influenced by his father, whose thought focused strongly on the great Christian mystics, Teihard de Chardin, Baron von Hügel, Simone Weil, an important theme of Michael's childhood was the thought of the psychic as a means of demonstrating the reality of the spiritual. Also influential was a great aunt who was much read in the writings of Emmanual Swedenborg.

In the early 1970s Michael became increasing gripped by the urge to penetrate what seemed to him to be a veil between physical and spiritual. This culminated in his surrendering at a much deeper level to Christ. Michael began to be actively "psychic", with precognitive dreams, clairvoyant experiences, and being guided by direction to passages in books that he had not read.

An early example of these was when he attended a performance of chamber music. He found himself envying the musicians, and scolded himself for thus spoiling a spiritual experience. When he returned home, an inner voice directed him to find a dusty book under a bookcase, and to read a certain page. It was Gray's Ode for Music, which spoke of not spoiling a spiritual experience by envying the musicians. Thus Michael had demonstrated for him, that there was a level of mind, beyond the brain.

In 1973 a number of prophecies were delivered to him from a stranger, via a mutual friend. On that day on the other side of the world in England, Stephen first spoke through Thomas Ashman, then an agnostic Jew. Olive Ashman, Tom's wife, taperecorded Stephen's words, and began to converse with Stephen through her husband, who was usually deeply in trance, and not conscious.