I was recently doing some research on Peter Underwood who is a famous paranormal researcher from the UK who sadly passed away in 2014. I came across a quote from one of his books that really stuck with me and then inspired a thought process about the memory of our loved ones and how we 'live on' through the hearts of our family and friends.
Oh, is there life after death, you ask? Well, to tell you the truth I don’t know, but I do know that to live in the hearts and memories of those we leave behind is not to die.
No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost Hunter (1983)
While we can speculate and argue about what we believe and what we have found in our own path of investigating the paranormal, the truth is that we don't know for sure what happens to us when we pass. Does our energy remain behind? Does our consciousness live on? Is our spirit able to come back and communicate? Generally, we tend to believe in some ways all of these to be true, but we don't know for sure. We do however know that the memory of us lives on. This in itself is something that has changed immensely as time and technology has progressed.
In today's society, we have smartphones in our pockets ready to catch significant moments in our lives. We have a permanent platform on the internet where a photo or a post about our lives remains. Digitally we will now not be forgotten. Our Facebook pops up with anniversaries and memories reminding us of things that we seemed to have forgotten. In a lot of ways, it makes us lazy with having to remember things because technology does it for us. When I was a child, a video camera was a luxury a lot of people could not afford and it was something we would 'hire'. Photos were taken on cameras and we had to process them at the local photography store. We couldn't see an instant picture of what was taken, we had to wait days, sometimes weeks for it to be developed. We learned to cherish our memories a little differently. When you go even further back, when photography was still a very new concept, it wasn't a portable device that everyone had. Most of the time you had to go and sit in a studio for a portrait photograph. Because of the cost involved, often people only had a photo taken a couple of times if that in their life. It also meant that people would use post mortem photography as a way to keep a memory of a person. Some people would even wear jewellery like lockets or rings that would contain locks of hair of the deceased to help remember them.
Memento Mori - Remember you must die
Different cultures mourn and celebrate death differently. In the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos, families create an altar dedicated to the deceased. Their picture is placed on what is called an 'Ofrenda' along with offerings of food. In Chinese cultures, they celebrate the 'Hungry Ghost' festival and offer food and money as a way to appease the spirits and also come together to remember those who have passed away. In almost every culture, when a person passes away, family and friends will come together in their own ways to honour and remember their loved ones. But what is next?
Sometimes we feel like their energy is around us. Other times we wish we would see or speak to them one last time and we wonder why they haven't come back to visit us. While the hurt and the grief slowly heal, the love never goes away, nor do the memories. Whether there are festivals or get-togethers to remember a person or not, the memory of them still remains. It then makes you wonder, how powerful are our memories?
We know that the human mind is capable of so many things - psychic projection potentially being one of them. Could the simple act of a group of people remembering a person or an event spark some sort of paranormal event? Look at the Philip experiment for example. A group of Canadian parapsychologists came together in the 1970s and created a fictional backstory on a character they called Philip. By focusing on him and what he would have looked like and the things he liked and didn't like etc, they received what they believed to be intelligent responses by paranormal means from this fictional character called Philip. It seemed that they created a ghost with their own mind. It was so successful in their eyes they went on to complete this exercise again and again with other characters.
I have to wonder about the times that I have felt I have had a loved one who has passed away around me. It has always happened during a time that I was thinking about them or wishing they were around. Maybe it was something as simple as seeing something they would have liked or just looking at their photo. Maybe it is a special occasion. Anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, or special places seem to be times when we have an experience or feel they are around us. Besides of course the obvious that we could be reading too much into things, what if the reason these things are happening at these times is that we are making it happen just by remembering them? I am constantly using the example of what we do on paranormal tours because the more I think about it and witness it, the more it makes sense to me in a lot of ways. You are on a paranormal tour and you are taken into a room. The group of 10, 20, or 30 people are told the story of the person that is significant to the room. You may talk about what they looked like or how they passed away or what it was that makes their story special. The group focused on the story they were just told to attempt to communicate with this spirit. Are the responses they feel they are receiving due to the fact that there is some sort of spirit there communicating with them or is it that the collective focus and energy of the group focused on this one story is unknowingly projecting and causing things to happen? It is really something to at least consider.
It makes you wonder what we could be potentially capable of in many years to come. Technology is now such a prominent fixture in our society. Everything is on the internet and you can literally Google anyone these days and return some sort of record. There is talk of Artificial Intelligence and essentially living on as some sort of computer. If things like psychic projection really are possible, what does this mean we would be capable of in many years to come with so much information available to us? It could go a few different ways. If we are not forced to use our memory anymore, does this mean our subconscious also becomes lazy and doesn't have as big of a reference to work with? If this is where psychic projection comes from, does this then mean we will be less capable than perhaps we are now of projecting our thoughts? On the other hand, with so much information available to us, if enough people are focused on one thing at the same time, could this make it somewhat easier? The internet means that you can have a much wider group of people doing the same thing at the same time. It reminds me of the concept of the World's Largest Ghost Hunt, where at the same time across the entire World, people participate in a paranormal investigation asking the same question using the same sort of methods and controls, etc. I feel like this is a great start to really understanding just how important WE are as a part of the equation.
I don't have any answers to the above of course it is really just me thinking about different possibilities here but I feel like these things are worth at least a discussion. What are your thoughts?
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