There are usually some typical components involved in the sighting of what investigators describe as an apparition. A historical location tied in with a sighting of a person (often dressed in period clothing) that at the time is mistaken as a very real person. In fact, it isn't until after the fact that people come to realise that there was no real person there at all. Whenever I visit a new location, I will usually have a chat with the tour guide or historians that work there. One of my questions is always, "have you seen any ghosts?" There is usually at least one person that will tell a similar story to the above. At work one day they have a sighting of a person in period dress, only to find out there was no living person around dressed like that or even on the premises at all. While we can't ignore the fact that in some cases it could very well be a real person, most people make the assumption that they are witnessing a form of apparition or in simple terms: a ghost. These kinds of sightings are not new, they have been documented for over a century (possibly longer!). While we often try to determine between a real person or ghost, there are some other options to consider as well.
I guess this is the part where I add my own experience. It isn't quite my own experience, however it is something that I was there to witness. It occurred an investigation at Black Rock House where my brother and I volunteer to run tours once a month. My brother in a lot of ways is like me when it comes to the paranormal. He definitely doesn't like to jump to conclusions and when we are running a tour, he makes a point that he doesn't like to talk about anything he sees or feels to the people attending because they could just think we are having them on or trying to create an atmosphere. We have all seen the 'Do you feel that?' narrative, so we make sure we don't play into it. When he does say something, I personally take notice because I know in that moment that he genuinely has no idea what is going on. When you have a certain amount of investigations at the same location under your belt, you begin to become one with the location. You know every noise the house makes. You know where the cold pockets of air come in through the cracks or where cars driving past can cast shadows. It means that if you see someone who knows the location like the back of their hand like we do with Black Rock House get excited, you know they think that something is going down.
We were all sitting in the drawing-room of Black Rock House and my brother was in the doorway. It meant he had a view of the hallway. At the end of the hallway is a door with a glass window. Behind this door is the back entrance to the house where there is an external door. All night, various guests felt that they were picking up on a little boy. Myself nor my brother are psychic mediums so it is not something we were picking up on ourselves, but it seemed to be where the night was leading. Suddenly I heard my brother yell out. "Hey kid!". I asked him, "oh are you seeing this boy everyone is talking about?". His response was "No I saw a real living kid in the window to the hallway door!". He yelled this as he took off running with one of the regular guests that attends our investigations as a backup. The back entrance door to the outside was closed. He opened it and ran outside. He went around every inch of the perimeter of the building to see if he could find this kid that he saw. He eventually came back in around 10 minutes later confused and a bit startled. There had been no trace of anyone on the grounds. You see if he had seen a real boy in the window when he spotted them, they would have ran outside as soon as they realized there were people inside. In order to do this, they would have had to of opened the door to the back entrance. If they were in a hurry, would they have carefully closed the behind them so that it didn't make a noise? If it was slammed, we would have heard it wouldn't we? I asked him how old the boy was. He guessed around my eldest son's age which was 10 at the time. Would a 10-year-old be out alone at night staring at us through a window in the door inside Black Rock House at 10 o clock at night? It is certainly possible but the more we started to look at things rationally, the more it seemed like maybe it wasn't a real-life boy he saw.
Now of course we can't rule out for certain that it wasn't a real boy. It is a historical location that is now known for the local ghost stories and there are always local kids hanging around the grounds. They usually just hang around outside during the day and sometimes they climb the big fig trees out the front to sit on top of the castle wall. They are often a bit older, in their teens. Local security patrols the area. We have never had an issue of someone entering the building while we have been doing an investigation, but that doesn't mean they may not have tried. We have been there 7 + years and only recently we have been interrupted and it was by the security to verify we were supposed to be there. We also make sure that we have our banners outside so that people know we are there (and more so the local neighbours know that we have an event on as they also act as security). The only way we could definitely know if it was a real kid would be if we had CCTV footage which unfortunately there is no camera on that doorway. We were also not filming that night. The one and only night we didn't film because we had forgotten the camera, ironic isn't it?
A lot of the evening, we had been talking about this boy. At an unexpected moment, my brother saw a boy. Was he having a vision of the boy that the group had been talking about? Was it his brain playing tricks on him playing on the narrative that there was a little boy following us? What if he was having a retrocognitive vision of a past event? Just one week prior we had a working bee at Black Rock House. I was there along with many others cleaning the house as it had sat for 12 months gathering dust during COVID lockdowns. In attendance one of our regular couples came along and brought with them their two children. Both were boys who were around 11 and 9 from memory. At one point, they were cleaning the windows with one of the maintenance workers. They were possibly even cleaning that very window. There were several points where one of them was standing in that spot. Was my brother getting a vision of this event from the past? We talk often about precognition, but not so much about retrocognition. Maybe even the vigorous cleaning unlocked some sort of residual energy?
Retrocognition is the ability to read or pick up on events in a person's past by using psychic ability. It is also referred to as 'Backward Knowing'. This ability can be accessed through different areas.
Déjà vu is a common phenomenon that I have written about before. Some people associate it with precognition (visions of the future) and even parallel universes where suddenly you may see a place and suddenly you have this feeling that you have been there before. A lot of psychic mediums link feelings of déjà vu to retrocognition.
It can also be a form of memory phenomenon. Often things are right in front of us, but we take no notice of them unless they are relevant to us. For example, if you start talking about a red car, you will suddenly notice every single red car on the road. Some people believe this is what causes us to feel déjà vu. I could unknowingly be flicking through a magazine and see a picture of a house with detailed information. Months later, not remembering that I have seen this in a magazine I may find myself suddenly 'knowing' information about this house as I visit it or drive past it. I feel like I have been there before like maybe I lived there. I may remember an event that happened there, but I know that it didn't happen to me. In reality, my brain is triggered because it has remembered that I know something about this house and it gives me a sense of familiarity. In some ways, it could feel like a form of retrocognition or even precognition because of the feeling of knowing something about this place that I have never been to or visited before.
Unlike a lot of other psychical abilities, retrocognition has not been tested much in the field of parapsychology mainly due to the fact that it is impossible to prove that a person was not aware of a past event consciously or subconsciously. As mentioned above, even reading a piece of information that may seem trivial at the time remains deep within our subconscious. This information may become relevant at some point and our brain will remind us of it. It will feel like it is completely new information that we must be receiving. It may even feel like déjà vu. This is where it is difficult to determine if a person has received this information through the ability of retrocognition, or if it is something deep within our subconscious.
Of course, we don't know the extent of the information that is in our subconscious and what it is capable of. Some believe that consciousness does not conform to the laws of space and time. If our subconscious has the ability to access information from our unconscious mind and it is not bound by time, is that how people get visions of the future or even the past?
I have written often about the concept of psychic projection. You have likely read about the Philip experiment where parapsychologists were able to create their own ghost through the power of thought. So with this in mind, if we change our thought process can we change the environment around us? I think about a lot of self-help ideals and affirmations that immediately come to mind. A lot of it is about changing your mindset in a way that you are consciously in control of your thoughts in order to make positive changes in your life. While the figures vary depending on the research, it is said that we have up to 60,000 thoughts in one day. Around 80% of these thoughts are supposedly negative. They are at a subconscious level. Affirmations are positive things that you consciously tell yourself. Things like "I am successful, I deserve happiness, I am strong and confident, etc". When you affirm these things to yourself you are becoming more conscious of your thoughts and you start to believe the things you are telling yourself. Just by changing your thought process, you are making things happen.
When I look at it from a paranormal perspective, I often use Black Rock House as an example to get my point across. We take our guests into a room and explain that this is Annie's room and she was around 56 years old and passed away in her sleep. She was a servant and liked to cook bread etc. I have a room now focused on her story. We start asking questions like "Annie did you bake some bread today?" Is the activity we are receiving because Annie is in the room or is it because we are so focused on her story we are unknowingly making it happen? So with all this talk of the boy over the course of the evening, did we create our own ghost of a boy just by collectively thinking about it?
Of course, we will never really know for sure what happened that night. It is interesting however to expand our way of thinking beyond a sighting being either a real boy or a ghost. It is not necessarily one or the other. While I mentioned above the common elements that seem to occur in a typical sighting, there is one common component that is the most important of all for it to occur. The component is us.
In the same light, I have to wonder, if we are not there to experience it, would it happen at all?
If you enjoy LLIFS, consider buying me a book (otherwise known as buy me a coffee but I don't drink coffee and I LOVE books). Your donation helps to fund the LLIFS website so everyone can continue to access great paranormal content and resources for FREE!Follow LLIFS on Facebook
Don't forget to follow the Facebook page for regular updates
Join the mailing list to receive weekly updates of NEW articles. Never miss an article again!
Buy the latest and past issues Haunted Magazine
Check out the books written by LLIFS