Tulpa, Poltergeists and Thoughtforms

31st May 2019. Reading Time: 12 minutes Stuff paranormal investigators need to know, General, Famous Paranormal Cases, Paranormal Theories. 7342 page views. 2 comments.

You will have heard about Poltergeist hauntings, but have you heard of a Tulpa? Tulpa is a common yet widely unknown term in the paranormal field. Are a poltergeist and a tulpa the same thing? What is a thoughtform? Let's look into all of this and more!

You will have heard about Poltergeist hauntings, but have you heard of a Tulpa? Tulpa is a common yet widely unknown term in the paranormal field. Are a poltergeist and a tulpa the same thing? What is a thoughtform? Let's look into all of this and more!

What is a Poltergeist haunting?

A 'classic' poltergeist haunting consists of things like knocking, objects being moved, open and closing of doors, bed shaking, putrid smells, objects being thrown, stone and rocks being thrown at windows, puddles of water appearing mysteriously on the floor, fires starting from nowhere, scratching and physical assault. It usually starts slowly with knocking or stones being thrown and seems to amplify over a period of time. It is quite common in these accounts and stories for the activity to occur at night when the individual is in bed causing them to lose sleep.

Poltergeist is a widely used (and often misused) term to describe paranormal phenomena where physical items are moved or manipulated or a person is physically assaulted by an unseen force. It is probably one of the most faked areas of paranormal phenomena, particularly on the internet. Claims of genuine poltergeist activity are few and far between, and one could argue that there has never been a proven case of genuine poltergeist activity. The same however could also be said about paranormal phenomena in general so it depends who you talk to as to what they consider a genuine account of activity. There have however been famous cases throughout the years. The first reported account was thought to be in 1661 in the 'Drummer of Tedworth' which I have written about previously. In more modern-day society, the Enfield haunting is also controversial yet probably one of the most popular cases of supposed poltergeist activity known all over the world.

Photo Credit: Graham Morris of the Daily Mail

Can poltergeist activity be attributed to psychokinesis?

While quite a lot of cases are faked or can essentially be debunked, there are people that feel genuinely threatened in their homes and claim to have witnessed this activity. I myself know of investigators who have told me they have seen this phenomenon with their own eyes and they are people I trust. It is also information that they don't make public to boost their following so I believe them. So what could be causing it? A popular belief in parapsychology circles is that poltergeist activity is actually caused by a form of psychokinesis in pre-teens (usually females). It is put down to a physical expression of trauma and who has more trauma than a hormonal pre-teen? I am going to extend this further to look at the people that are usually reporting this kind of activity and asking for help from investigators. Usually, when you are dealing with a private case, there is always more to the story and more than meets the eye. Sometimes there has been some sort of breakdown in the family, a death, someone is depressed, the house is in disarray - the list goes on but they all have one thing in common. They are usually suffering from some kind of psychological trauma. So is it possible that being in this negative headspace is projecting the energy outward and causing these things to happen through an unintended act of psychokinesis? This brings us to thoughtforms.

What is a thoughtform?

A thoughtform is a mental image that you are consciously creating in your mind. In spiritual circles, it is thought to exist in both the mental and astral planes. They are generally placed in three categories:

  • The image of the thinker is simply the appearance of an individual in two places simultaneously
  • An image of a material object associated with the thought
  • An independent image expressing the inherent qualities of the thought

People often will use meditation or even hypnotherapy in order to create a thoughtform. It is thought however that a group of people can also manifest a thoughtform when you have a group of people concentrating on the same thing. A thoughtform is not something you can see physically. The person manifesting it can see it in their mind as they have created it. Spiritually, as it is said to exist in the astral plane, some psychics or clairvoyants are said to be able to detect this thoughtform in the form of energy as it is said to present itself as energy waves within a person's aura.

A thoughtform is a more temporary manifestation of this 'created' item or person and in a lot of ways is still controlled by your thought as it doesn't have its own will. A more permanent version that has its own will is known as a Tulpa.

What is a Tulpa?

A Tulpa comes from Tibetan Buddism where it is a consciously created being or object. In the same way, it is consciously created, it is thought again that a person can unknowingly create a Tulpa. When you look at the meaning of the word Tulpa, it means to build or construct. It is thought to be a much more complex version of a thoughtform that develops its own sentience and its own will. In modern-day society, people commonly will use lucid dreaming in order to 'create' their own Tulpa. They think of it almost as an imaginary friend they can communicate with at will and help them through certain things in life. The Tulpa is thought to always be growing and learning. In the same way our dreams can turn bad, so can a Tulpa. There are many people who report their Tulpa has turned on them and caused a lot of trouble in their life and it has taken them in some cases years to get rid of them.

On an interesting level, when you think of a group of people somehow manifesting a form of Tulpa just by thinking about it, some people believe that a lot of religious figures or creatures are actually forms of Tulpas. A famous creature such as Bigfoot could in fact be a type of a Tulpa. Sightings of 'Nessie' the Loch Ness monster again could in theory be a form Tulpa. One of the more popular theories at the moment is that of Slenderman. It is a figure that was created on creepypasta, yet people claim they have seen this fictional figure. Could it be a case of a Tupla? If you have people going to a location thinking in detail about what something looks like and how it moves, could you actually manifest it into existence? To test this theory, there was a parapsychology experiment in the early 1970s which set out to do exactly that.

The Philip Experiment

In 1972, a bunch of Canadian Parapsychologists conducted a pretty cool experiment. Their aim was to ‘create’ a ghost to prove that the human mind could conjure a spirit through expectation, imagination and visualization. It was based on the very concept of a thoughtform. There was even a movie made inspired by this case called 'The Quiet Ones'. The experiment was led by a world-renowned self-proclaimed expert on poltergeists, Dr A.R.G Owen. His goal was simple. Create a group of people (none of which were mediums or sensitive to the paranormal) and have them use their collective thought to see if they could conjure a ghost to appear. And so Philip was born.

Initially, the group put together to conjure Philip would meet on a regular basis in an informal setting. They would sit around, with the lights on and talk about Philip. They had his picture and notes about his life and talked about him. They used his picture and focused on it. They used meditation techniques and tried to imagine Philip in their mind to see if they could make him 'appear. They tried this for a full year starting in September 1972. This brought no results apart from a couple of members saying they felt a presence.

Not willing to give up, Dr Owen decided to change the approach of the group as after a year of sittings, their methods were clearly not working. They decided to incorporate elements of the 'Singapore Theory' to bring him forward. Each member would bring in a trigger object of an item that they think Philip might have liked. They brought in pictures of a castle and imagined that this was the Castle that Philip might have lived in. They sang songs that they thought Philip may relate to, the most notable being '99 Bottles of Beer'. One of the most important changes they felt was successful to the experiment was that they duplicated what would be a typical ‘séance’ atmosphere, dimmed some lights, lit some candles and called upon Philip to come forward. It seemed this new method worked. Whilst Philip did not come forward as a full-bodied apparition that they could see, what they did receive appeared to be intelligent knocking responses (known as rapping) on the seance table they were using. They used the one knock for yes and twice for no method. So how did they know it was Philip responding to them? Their evidence was that they asked 'Is this Philip?' and received one knock meaning yes.

After the initial contact, it seemed with every session, Philip's communication became stronger. They felt they learnt a lot of about Philip from his knocking responses. What they found to be interesting was that Philip did not seem to know the questions to answers that they did not know - which convinced them that it was indeed Philip they had conjured from their collective consciousness. Simply put, if they didn't know the answer, Philip wouldn't either. As Philip became stronger, he was able to start moving the table and was apparently capable of levitating the table. Sitters reported seeing a mist over the table that they would see move across the room when someone entered the room as if it was greeting them. He was also capable of dimming the lights on command. In order to 'prove' this to the world, there was a final seance held in front of a live audience of 50 people and a documentary was broadcast on National television. Supposedly the table levitated during this session but it was not caught on camera. The experiment itself has been heavily criticised for relying on spiritualist techniques which can be manipulated by a person such as table rapping and table-turning. Dr Owen however, felt it was a success. So much so that more experiments followed. A new group of sitters and new fictional characters were created. There was Lilith a French Canadian spy, Sebastian a medieval alchemist and Axel a time traveller from the future. All were successful in their minds.

Does this mean a Tulpa is a Poltergeist?

Poltergeist activity itself is speculated to be a form of unintentional psychokineses. I have read reports from a few different people that state in cases they have worked on or researched that in almost all of the poltergeist cases they have studied when the victim became aware that they in fact could be the cause of the paranormal phenomena, that the activity suddenly ceased. One would take this to mean that they realised it was coming from them so it stopped. In the case of a Tulpa, it is also a manifestation of the mind, but some will argue that the Tulpa stays in a person's mind meaning that the only person who can interact with it is the person who has created it. It is very real to that person, but only to that person. If this were the case, there would be no activity to document. I believe over time that people have sort of taken the concept of a Tulpa and a poltergeist and merged them. The thought process is sort of the same as they are both manifestations of the mind on either a conscious or non-conscious level, however a Tupla in its true origins cannot physically hurt a person - yet a poltergeist in theory can. A Tulpa can almost act like a voice in your head and could potentially make a person harm themselves, but it cannot physically hurt you. In my own mind, I believe a Tulpa and a poltergeist to be different things but stem from the same cause - being a manifestation of our own mind. I of course could be completely wrong here, there are a lot of similarities, but to me, they are a little different.

Are spirits Tulpas?

This is a very difficult question to answer in such a general widespread area but in my opinion, I do believe there is some merit to it. I have often argued that from my research and own experiences, I do believe to some extent that hauntings are perhaps a manifestation of our own minds. A Tulpa is something that is very real to the person who has manifested it. They can have conversations with it almost in the same way that a medium would communicate with a spirit. Maybe a person experiencing some form of haunting could in theory actually be experiencing a form of Tulpa. When we look at paranormal investigating, perhaps just walking into an investigation thinking about the spirits we wish to talk to is enough for us to unknowingly manifest some sort of energy. It is one of many different theories when it comes to the paranormal. We, of course, don't know the answer to this with any certainty, we can only speculate, but this is the area that I tend to lean toward which is why you see this sort of content mentioned throughout the blog. If you read the blog, you may also remember an article I wrote about questioning it is naive to think that there is only one explanation. Perhaps there is not just one explanation for paranormal phenomena. It could be many different things. This is one of the many mysteries that we as paranormal researchers love diving into. I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you think a spirit could be a thoughtform? Are we creating our own hauntings, tulpas or poltergeists without knowing it?

If you enjoy this article, you will enjoy my book Stuff Paranormal Investigators Need to Know Volume 2: My brain is the key that sets me free.  It covers topics just like this, looking at what the human mind could be capable of!

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  • Nan 5 years ago

    Thank you! This is definitely an awesome website!

  • Joycw 5 years ago

    This is the first time that I've heard of the term Tulpa, this is very interesting to me because I've always thought that many "urban legends" and creatures such as Bigfoot and Mothman are the result of thoughtforms. Perhaps even some religious figures could be too?