The Stone tape theory
One of the first things that we learn about as paranormal investigators is the different types of hauntings. While new categories seem to be added to this all the time, for me there are really only 2 I am interested in. Intelligent and Residual. If you want more information on the different types of hauntings, you can read all about it here. We know that residual hauntings don't even seem to be aware that we are there. Sometimes we wonder if it is like the movie 'The Others' where the ghosts are living their life as they know it and think that we are the ones who are the ghosts. They are stuck in their time and going about their own business. I love this theory and will elaborate more in another post. A different theory however is that a residual haunting is caused by what we call 'The Stone tape Theory'.
Where does the Stone tape theory come from?
It is a concept that has been around for centuries in different cultures, however it got it's name specifically from a 1972 movie 'The Stone Tape'. The synopsis of the movie is a team from a electronics company all move into a house. During renovations a stone stairway is revealed where strange things seem to be happening. One notable point from the movie is that one resident seems to see the apparition of a girl who keep falling to her death. They try to use all of their technical equipment to record the apparitions etc that only one of the residents is seeing, but as is true to all investigators, nothing is ever caught on tape. The movie itself was working with the notion that stone materials can store sounds and images from the past and then someone who is sensitive to the paranormal in some sort of way can receive the 'playback' when the conditions are right.
What is the history behind this theory?
It is hard to pinpoint exactly who came up with this theory as it is something that is not exactly exclusive to one person. Over time different concepts of the theory have surfaced. The idea itself was put forward publicly in the form we know it by Thomas Charles Lethbridge. He was an archaeologist who became a self proclaimed parapsychologist and in 1961 he released a book 'Ghost and Ghoul'. The term 'Stone Tape' had not been created yet, however his theory was that ghosts themselves are not a supernatural phenomena. His theory was that traumatic events such as a murder or suicide could be absorbed by it's surroundings most specifically a kind of moist rock or stone. After having an experience where he saw an apparition near a stream a water, he also believed that the water, forests, earth and mountains could record imprints as they were charged by the ions in the air which allowed them to record these memories. Certain environmental conditions could release these 'memories' or someone with the right level of paranormal sensitivity could see this 'playback'. It was thought that the stone acted like a tape and could record and playback sound and images in the same way the magnetic tape does. The stone just doesn't have a 'play button'. It is widely thought that the movie 'The Stone Tape' was directly influenced by Lethbridge's theory.
Throughout time dating back even further, there have been other claims of similar theories all with the notion that somehow some sort of inanimate object was absorbing memories, words or energy.
Is there any truth to this theory
Scientifically, no one has been able to prove that stone or rock can absorb these images or recordings. As paranormal investigators, we are often thinking of new ways to try and work with these theories. With stone tape, it seems the popular thing to do is to experiment with sound. By making loud noises, can the vibrations of the noise we make release this residual energy from the walls to force this playback to start? I have tried this on many occasions with an EVP recorder to see if I can capture an EVP after a large amount of noise has been made. For myself, this has been unsuccessful, however there are others who say this works really well for them. Other investigators also believe that water can be a significant factor as well, and by having a stream of water nearby, like in Lethbridge's theory, it can help to power the atmosphere so that the surroundings can store and playback this information. We talk about the environment and conditions a lot when investigating with claims that 'lighting and thunder charge the atmosphere making it more likely for activity or that activity is at it's peak 3 days after a full moon'. These assumptions are likely to be based partly on this theory as well.
I personally have not done a large amount of work with this theory other than EVP work. I am going to change that in the next few months and will try and look at techniques and avenues to use to incorporate this theory during investigations. So I need your help. Have you used this theory? What has worked for you? Tell me in the comments below.
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