On a rainy Sunday here in Melbourne, I spent my day meal prepping for the busy week ahead, writing, cleaning and folding washing. Glamorous I know! In the background I had TLC running with a plethora of paranormal television to keep me entertained in the process. During an episode of Haunted Scotland, famous psychic and paranormal investigator Chris Fleming explained his take on spirits using devices to communicate with us. He explained that most paranormal investigators believe that spirits use their energy to manipulate the devices to communicate with us. I know I have said that before! His take was that they aren't manipulating the devices to communicate, more so they are projecting their thoughts out into the ether to try and communicate with us. He said the reading on the equipment is the devices picking up on this frequency rather than spirits using this as a way to communicate with us. I thought it was an interesting take and certainly different to the normal explanation offered. Sure, nothing groundbreaking you may say. Maybe you already thought this way, but by sharing our ideas that our outside of what we normally digest in the mainstream, we can spark thoughts and theories and talk about the paranormal in new and exciting ways.
It got me thinking about other popular paranormal theories and how we can look at them from a different perspective and change the way we think about the paranormal. Here are two to get us started.
The Singapore Theory is a popular technique used by many paranormal investigators. Otherwise known as Paranormal Stimuli’ or theTheory of Familiaristion, it is recreating some sort of act or environment that may be ‘familiar’ to the spirits and therefore may induce some sort of response. Commonly people may reenact an activity in costume or play a song true to the time period of the spirit they want to communicate with. Maybe they will use certain trigger objects like cigarettes in an old prison etc. Something they feel may be familiar to a spirit to encourage them to come forward. Typically, investigators tend to think that they are receiving some sort of response as they are doing something that resonates with a spirit. What if however, it is us projecting our expectations? I have spoken many times about psychic projection and the infamous Philip Experiment.
In 1972, Canadian Parapsychologists conducted an experiment to ‘create’ a ghost to prove that the human mind could conjure a spirit through expectation, imagination and visualization. They created a back story of a fake spirit called Philip, and gathered regularly to talk about him and will him into existence. During their sessions, each member of the group would bring in a trigger object of an item that they thought the fake spirit of 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'. This is the kind of technique you would expect to see during a regular paranormal investigation. Instead here it was used in a psychic projection experiment and seemed to be successful.
In the experiment above, the investigators used fake objects just like you would during a real investigation to encourage a response. Now remember, Philip was not a real ghost. He was an experiment to see if humans could imagine ghosts into existence. What if paranormal investigators using objects that may be personal to the spirit they want to connect during an investigation with are actually projecting their own expectations and creating their own activity? Maybe the Singapore Theory is more about us than it is about the spirits?
Divination methods such as using a pendulum or even the controversial Ouija board, are often challenged due to the human element involved. One of the arguments against the legitimacy of the results that come through is what is known as the Ideomotor effect. This term was originally coined by William B. Carpenter in 1852. He used this as an explanation for the movement of dowsing rods, pendulums, sticks, or even a planchette on an Ouija board. He wasn’t at all claiming that people were being deliberately deceptive but were completely unaware that their slight muscle movements were causing these items to move. One of the examples he commonly used to demonstrate this was that of dowsing rods. When using dowsing rods to track water, if you were to tell someone who hasn’t used the rods before that there is water at a certain point in the ground when they reach it, their rods will cross. They aren’t doing this deliberately. It is because subconsciously they know where the water is so their subconscious is controlling the muscle movement. The same applied to Ouija boards. Often it seemed people were unknowingly moving the planchette to spell out the names of people or words that were significant to them.
One thing investigators commonly do with Ouija board sessions to try and rule out any subconscious influence is to place a blindfold over the participants on the board. When they cannot see, they cannot unknowingly move it to the correct letter. An argument I have heard from people is that the spirits use your body and need to be able to see so this is why when people use a blindfold it doesn't seem to work. The obvious argument here from a more rational perspective is that when the person using the board can't see, they can't manipulate the results. What if however it is explained by the subconscious mind?
A theory to consider is that while we are accessing information from our subconscious that is causing these involuntary muscle movements, what exactly is in our subconscious? Do we hold the genetic memories of our ancestors that provide us with answers to questions that consciously we couldn't possibly know? When we think we are receiving an answer from a loved one who has passed away, is it because we have their genetic memory stored in our unconscious? Carl Jung referred to this as the collective unconscious.
My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical
in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
The Concept of the Collective Unconscious
If we go with this theory, when we are communicating with what we believe is a spirit of a family member, are the answers we are receiving because we are indeed communicating with this spirit, or are we simply accessing the answers via our genetic memories? Can we psychically project these memories and create our own spirit?
The two theories I have spoken about above have been flipped all with one common theme. Projection. Forms of telepathy if you will. Whether it is spirits or us, projection is that common denominator and one that should not be discounted. Are we the ghosts? Are the spirits communicating, or does it all just fall down to a form of consciousness that somehow survived and evolved past that of a physical body? These are the questions we spend our lives investigating and researching and the questions we will likely never get a firm answer on, at least until we ourselves are ready to take that leap.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments. What is your different take on a popular paranormal theory?
Cover Photo by Cottonbro studio
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