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 Peter Underwood(1983)
While we can speculate and argue about what we believe and what we have found in our research, 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 anything for certain. We do however know that the memory of us lives on. This in itself is something that has changed immensely as time and technology have 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
Photo by Irina Anastasiu:
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. Families may celebrate or light a candle for their loved on a special anniversary. Sometimes they use social media as a platform to express their grief and just put out into the universe how much they cared for and miss their loved one.
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.
You can read more about the Philip Experiment in my article: The Philip Experiment.
When we are experiencing grief, it is all-consuming. I remember when my grandfather died unexpectedly, I was in deep grief for a few weeks. I couldn't even get in the car and go to the shops without hysterically crying. Everything reminded me of him. I felt like I was drowning and I didn't feel like I would ever come out of it. When you are in such deep grief, especially in those early days, it is pretty much all you can think about. With all of your energy and emotion focused on this grief, could the overwhelming feelings cause a person to unknowingly cause their own paranormal event?
Last year after coming home from my sister's funeral, and walking into the hall of her home, a hat that was on the clothes rack jumped off and hit me in the face. I had not touched it. I turned to my brother-in-law and said 'It must be Mabel's; she wants us to know she is with us. My brother-in-law was so full of grief I don't remember if he replied. I too was in a strange state of mind. I just cannot explain it.
There were no vibrations of the floor or from any other source, or I would have noticed it. The hat had been there for days with people passing by it, and had not fallen off the hook. My wife did not go to the funeral as her health was not good. When I got home and walked through the doorway into the small hall, a hat that belonged to me also jumped off its hook and hit me. I turned to my wife and told her that a hat did the same thing when I walked into the hall at Harold's. She thought it was strange, and then we both forgot about it as we were so sad about the death of my sister.
Excerpt from ESP in Life and Lab by Louisa E Rhine
In the above excerpt, a particular focus is put on the person's state of mind as an essential point here. In each instance where the hat 'flew off the hook" and hit the subject. On both occasions, the subject or experiencer was feeling deep grief over the loss of his sister. Instead of focusing on it maybe being a message or a way of his sister Mabel making her presence known (which was the initial assumption), both times this was quickly forgotten due to the overwhelming feeling of grief. All the experiencer and the witnesses could focus on was the immense grief that they were feeling at the time. Could this overwhelming feeling of grief have caused the hat to move? It could be caused by an act of psychokinesis.
Known as PK for short, the word psychokinesis comes from the Greek words ‘mind’ and ‘motion’. It was coined in 1914 by Henry Holt who was an American author in his book “On the Cosmic Relations”. Psyche refers to a person’s mind or soul and the word kinesis refers to movement or motion. It is the concept which basically combines mind and matter. You will have heard the phrase “Mind over matter”. This is telling a person to use their mind to overcome the physical situation they are in. Using your mind to influence matter means that a person is using their mind to physically make an object move without touching it. In the above case, they are unaware that they are doing this. In fact, many believe that this can be an explanation for a lot of reported poltergeist activity. Emotion in these situations also seems to be significant. Often a person is dealing with some sort of emotional trauma which they are unknowingly projecting outward mentally, causing objects to potentially move.
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 when 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 them 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 is quite common for paranormal investigators to use photographs as a trigger as a way to focus their energy in an attempt to make contact with a particular spirit. You don't have to visit a 'haunted location' to engage in spirit communication. Often for example, at a seance, a person will bring a photo of the loved one they are wanting to hear from and try to invite them to come and communicate to them. Could it be that we are the ones causing the responses just by remembering or focusing on the person? I think immediately of someone like Marcell Bacci. In 1949, Bacci attended a medium sitting that would change his life and have a huge impact on a paranormal investigation. Using similar methodologies that Jurgenson used, Bacci developed his own technique to retrieve spirit voices using a vacuum tube radio. In 1960's using his radio, Bacci would tune the radio into the white noise which was band-free. He would slowly adjust the knobs of the radio to reach the correct frequency which he found was between 7-9 megahertz. Witnesses claimed to have heard loud and clear spirit voices that would often refer to the listeners by name and would communicate for a period of between 10 seconds to almost 4 minutes. At the end of the session, the radio would return to simple white noise. While Bacci's methods were being investigated, Professor Festa removed two of the valves from the vacuum tube radio meaning the radio should have been disabled. The spirit voices supposedly still came through. Many argued that it was Bacci's psychical ability rather than the radio itself that was responsible for the spirit voices.
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 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?
ESP in Life and Lab by Louisa E Rhine (1967)
No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost Hunter Peter Underwood(1983)
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