Psychics – Why Do We See What We See?

calendarWhy do psychics see what they see? That’s (mostly) a rhetorical question.

For a long time, I’ve wondered why we “see” things about ghosts when the ghosts seem to reject our help. Most seem to want us to roll back the clock, and we can’t do that. It’s frustrating. It’s why — in recent years — my focus has been on more tangible evidence related to hauntings: documented history, readings on measurement devices, and so on.

This week, the other side of that issue was on my mind. (No pun intended.)

I wondered why so many of us see the future, as well.  It seems equally pointless.

Almost exactly five years ago, I visited Gavin Cromwell at home. He was living in the United States at the time. On that day, he stumbled out from his bedroom, clearly under lingering effects of the medication he’d taken for an illness. So, I’m not sure he’ll remember the conversation we had.

On that day five years ago, he was distraught. He talked about a ferry that was going to capsize. He thought it was in Asia, and he was sure hundreds of young people were on board and would be lost. He described them traveling from the mainland to a small island, not vice versa. He talked about the ship turning onto its side for no apparent reason, and doing so, quickly. Gavin also mentioned the crew telling the young people to stay where they were because moving around could be unsafe. (At the time, I thought he’d borrowed that from a dramatization about the Titanic.)

Gavin kept asking why he was seeing something like that when he couldn’t do anything to prevent it. He asked me if I knew a way to prevent it, but I wasn’t picking up on that event at all. I had no answers.

Now, as the recent (April 2014) South Korean ferry disaster unfolds, every detail echoes exactly what Gavin said five years ago.  Not just what I listed, above, but far more details, as well.

The problem is: That information wasn’t specific enough to be helpful. Gavin “saw” more than most psychics (including me) might have sensed, but not enough to say, “In five years, on such-and-such a date, a South Korean ferry carrying hundreds of students, en route Jeju, will be involved in a disaster.”

The vision upset Gavin… a lot. He was extremely emotional about it, and almost frantic to prevent the tragedy.

But, even with as many details as he “saw,” there was nothing anyone could do. He didn’t have a specific date or location.

If he recalls that prediction — and I’m not sure that he would, since he was taking medication and was barely awake when he conveyed that vision — I’m sure it would upset him to see that it really happened.

What I’m pondering today is why psychics see what they do. It’s rare that we can help spirits. It’s unnecessarily traumatizing to see a tragedy that can’t be prevented.

What’s the point of that kind of “gift”?

Rhetorical question, sort of. I’m not sure anyone can answer this.

But, as I watch details emerge in the South Korean ferry story, I can’t help recalling the accuracy of Gavin’s prediction and wondering why psychics “see” things like that.

Advice for Sensitives

book-with-penToday, I received a very interesting email from a woman who thinks that she may be sensitive.  Her questions and comments were sensible and showed considerable insight.

Ordinarily, and especially at this time of year — getting ready for “ghost season” (Halloween) — I’m unable to answer emails. However, this email seemed important enough to answer and to post information about.

The woman had discovered that many ghost-related website copy from each other. Several make ridiculous claims. She was looking for an honest response to her questions, and she hadn’t found them… yet.

She asked about understanding, gauging and developing skills as a sensitive.

Here’s an edited version of what I said to her:

You’re not rambling.  You sound like a sensible person with a healthy level of skepticism.

You’re right. You’ll find many copycat websites online.  They’re fun for some people. I’m okay with that.  If all people want are a few “good scares” or they want to pretend they’re ghost experts, it’s fine, as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Serious researchers can spot those websites within seconds. After a few chuckles, we click to the next possible resource.

In my opinion, and from what I’ve read in your lengthy email, you’re not deluding yourself.

Don’t let age be an issue.  If anything, age brings lots of “older but wiser” knowledge.

The best way to gauge how sensitive you are, and to develop your sensitivity is to:

1. Observe what you sense, carefully.
2. Observe your reaction to it, with some sense of distance from it all.  Be as objective as you can, as you evaluate everything about your experiences.
3. Keep a diary or journal, recording your impressions.  Re-read it every few months, to see how much you’ve learned and achieved.

Classes are available in many communities. Few seem to teach anything helpful.  I advise people to be very, very careful about the people they trust, and especially those who may be misguided, themselves.

In addition to my advice, above, check your baseline physical and emotional state every day before you get out of bed, and at least once or twice during the day.  That will help you identify what’s coming in from the outside, as opposed to external, spiritual activity.

Before you go to sleep at night, write in your diary or journal.  It may be helpful to close each entry with an affirmation about what you plan to accomplish the next day, especially in terms of better understanding your sensitivity.

As you’re learning about being sensitive, keep your boundaries firmly in place.  Opening yourself to perceptions can leave you vulnerable.  Use spiritual protection (if you believe in that) and reinforce your defenses if something uncomfortable seems to be intruding.

Never brush it off as “all in your mind” or “being too nervous.”  Err on the side of caution.

Don’t expect to become an expert at this — or even have a vague idea of how it works for you — overnight.  You’ll probably need months of work before you’re comfortable saying, “I’m beginning to understand this.”  Expect years before you’re able to confidently share with others your insights about sensitivity.

I’m very interested in what others would say to someone who thinks he or she might be sensitive, a psychic, or a medium.  Please share your comments and questions, below.

Can a Ghost Read Your Mind?

Can a ghost read your mind?  That’s what Maddy from Santa Monica asked me, today.

That’s not a simple question to answer.  It depends on the context.

First, we’re not sure what ghostly phenomena are.  Are they all spirits of the dead… really?  I’m not convinced of that.  The more I work in this field (over 30 years), the certain I am that some (not all) of what we’re encountering aren’t “dead people.”

That includes such a wide range of possibilities, it all depends on what’s real for you:  Pranks by humans (people who are alive), angels, demons, aliens, faeries, the person’s imagination, or… well, I’m sure there are another dozen or more explanations that could work equally well, depending on your beliefs.

My personal view: I believe that at least 50% of what I encounter in the field is actually someone alive and well and living in his or her own time stream.  In some cases, that time stream is our past.  And, I think that moments of intense emotion convey across the barrier between our worlds — the veil, or the membrane that separates us — more clearly than when someone is having a ho-hum normal day.

I also believe that some ghostly phenomena are caused by other paranormal entities… things outside our current definition of “normal,” but they may turn out to be not-so-weird, after all.

However, I don’t expect most people to agree with me.

For many ghost hunters, 100% of what they encounter will be spirits of the dead.

But, let’s consider the possibility that ghostly phenomena aren’t always caused by people who’ve died.

If it’s a demon or something malicious, I think it’s been well documented that demonic incidents include the ability to read the victim’s mind, as well as the minds of almost everyone who attempts to help remove, banish, or exorcise the demon.

Also, I wouldn’t rule out deliberate, mind control techniques by malicious entities, or by those who don’t fully understand how unguarded we can be, working in this field.   Though reports of that kind of problem are extremely rare, each ghost hunter should be aware of this, even before you leave for an investigation.

To be blunt, if you feel like something is trying to connect with you, and you’re uncomfortable with that — as you should be, if something is reaching out beyond the physical confines of the haunted site — it might be wise to stay at home and alert others who are going ahead with the investigation.

By contrast, many people who communicate with angels (and other benevolent entities) will assure you that angels are given many spiritual gifts, and often know your own thoughts and wishes better than you do.   Of course, that’s more empathic than mind-reading.

Other entities, including faeries and aliens… it’s anyone’s guess about their ability to use telepathy as a one-way or two-way communication stream.

Ghosts – It’s all about me?

So, let’s get back to the subject of ghosts.  The next thing to consider is the question: Why do people haunt?

If we assume that they’re stuck here for some reason, those reasons become important to them and to us.

  • Maybe the person refuses to believe he or she has died.
  • Perhaps the person recognizes the death, but has unrealistic expectations about what’s supposed to happen next.
  • The ghost may have unfinished business or a story to tell, before letting go of this existence.

In almost every possible scenario like that, the ghost’s attention is on him- or herself.  Why would the ghost want to read your mind… even if that were possible?

So, if a spirit that’s haunting for those traditional reasons, mind reading is unlikely.

Guardian spirits and rapport

The second most likely situation is where a family member, friend, or other benevolent and caring spirit is visiting from the other side.  That’s a lot like an angel.

He or she is interested in you.  That’s the opposite of a ghost with a personal agenda.

It seems reasonable that a guardian spirit would have empathic gifts, at the very least.  So, if the spirit is someone who cares deeply about you and wants to know how you’re doing, and perhaps how he or she can help you… yes, I think mind reading is a possibility.

Remember, this is all speculation.  However, if you start with the idea that ghosts are real and most spirits you encounter will be from “the other side,” you can use logic to decide whether or not a ghost might want to read your mind.

If it’s a ghost with a very personal agenda — something he or she needs help with, urgently — the ghost is less likely to care what you’re thinking.  He or she is focused on getting help.  Mind reading is unlikely in that situation.

If it’s a spirit visiting from the other side, checking to be sure you’re okay, an empathic connection (aka, mind reading) is not only possible but likely.

Psychics and Mediums – What’s the Difference?

Moon and Eta Aquarids
Image courtesy of Gabriella Fabbri, www.i-pix.it

In ghost hunting, many people use the words “psychic” and “medium” to mean the same thing.

The words are alike in popular use. However, they mean two very different things.

Psychics

The word “psychic” comes from the Greek word meaning of the soul, or of life. (Paul uses it in the Bible, I Cor ii,14.)

“Psychic” can relate to the spirit or the mind, depending upon the context.

When someone is a psychic, he or she can perceive — and sometimes influence — things that are outside traditional physical laws and perceptions. For example, some psychics can bend spoons or make objects move without personal physical contact.

Moving objects at a distance can be called telekinesis or psychokinesis (PK). Tests for this usually include attempts to influence the roll of dice.

That can be amusing, but this proven ability has far wider implications.

For example, it may explain some poltergeist phenomena. There’s a pattern to many poltergeist incidents. They almost always happen in proximity to someone who is experiencing roller coaster emotions. Most often, this is a female adolescent, but there are exceptions.

Could someone unconsciously and remotely cause poltergeist activity? I believe that’s happening in some — but not all — cases.

During a ghost investigation, a psychic may be able to:

  • Tell you what others (including ghosts) are thinking.
  • Describe areas of residual energy.
  • Detect high EMF levels without a meter, and so on.

Psychic abilities can be tested and measured in many ways. Early in the movie, Ghostbusters, Bill Murray’s character holds up cards, one by one. Each card has a specific symbol on it. The test subject — who cannot see the face of the card — guesses the image on the card.

Some psychics’ correct guesses exceeds the odds of random chance.

A wider range of psychic abilities is shown in the Cyndi Lauper movie,Vibes. Her character communicates with a spirit guide. The guide transmits messages to her, sometimes from people on the other side. Other messages pertaining to locations, the character’s personal safety… and which horse will win the race.

Mediums

The word “medium” indicates something thats in the middle. In terms of size, a medium is between a small and a large.

In ghost research, a medium is able to communicate between our world and the other side.

One early 21st century medium is John Edward of TV shows such as “Crossing Over” and “Cross Country.” He’s shared messages between people who’ve crossed over, and those who remain in this world.

Does he also receive communications from ghosts? Is there a difference? I don’t know. Some mediums have strong connections to one category of spirits but don’t communicate with other entities.

Technically speaking, most mediums are also psychics. They perceive things outside our usual physical laws.

However, not all psychics are mediums.

Some psychics can bend spoons or identify the owner of a key simply by touching it. The same psychic may not perceive anything ghostly at haunted locations.

Gifts, abilities and skills

Different people perceive psychic abilities in different ways.

Some people believe that these are spiritual gifts, as mentioned in the Bible and other Scriptural references.

Others are convinced that these are inherent abilities that some people have. Or, perhaps everyone has them but some don’t realize it yet.

Most agree that psychic sensitivity can improve with practice, so it can be described as a skill.

For some people, psychic gifts are part of their spirituality and/or religious beliefs.

In other words, these terms — psychic and medium — can mean different things to different people.  They may disagree based on their individual backgrounds and beliefs.

In ghost hunting groups, remain flexible about words like “medium” and “psychic.” It’s fine to explain the difference to someone who’s genuinely confused.

However, treat the subject lightly.  Instead, focus on our common interests.

Helping Spirits – My Advice

In the past, I’ve talked about time limits for helping ghosts during routine investigations.

Of course, someone has to help spirits if they’re ready to be helped.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from helping… if they can.

Here’s the problem: Many ghosts seem to be  lingering for reasons that aren’t especially healthy.  They want to turn back the clock and relive their lives.  They want sympathy, or at least attention for their own poor decisions.

Giving them attention only compounds the problem. I don’t think it helps them.

I’ve related this to working with a toddler.  If all the child wants is attention, you have to be smart about it. You’ll reward good behavior and gently guide the child towards healthier choices.

However, the first step is to understand what’s going on with the spirit.  Rapport must be established, but — unless you’ve trained to safely interact with spirits — it may be safer to set time limits. That’s especially true if the rest of your team is there to investigate and collect data.

Time limits as protection

In my opinion, it’s good to set the time limit ahead of time.  Then, everyone knows what to expect and when to say, “That’s enough.”

Later, the psychic/medium may not be the best person to draw the line.   He or she may need to be reminded that you’d already said you’d stop after 10 or 20 minutes, or whatever the time limit was.

Remember, entities aren’t always what they seem. A malicious entity can put you at risk if — in pursuit of rapport — you drop your guard and allow that entity access to your thoughts.

I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but this must be said: What may seem like rapport to you, may actually be an attempt to gain control over your mind, your body, or your soul.

That’s why psychics/mediums should never be left alone, and may need assistance from the team.

You’re probably not the first person to try to help the spirit.  Some sites — such as Edinburgh’s vaults or the Myrtles Plantation — have been visited by tens of thousands of people.  Some of them tried to help the ghosts.

If the spirits could be helped at those kinds of sites, surely someone else would have succeeded by now.

Everyone wants to feel unique and gifted. You might like to say, “I succeeded where thousands couldn’t.”

That’s bordering on pride, and it’s one of those “deadly sins” that can lure you into dangerous territory, spiritually and psychically.

Could you be the one to help that spirit?  Maybe.  I suppose it’s worth a try.

Keep your guard up, especially at sites with a reputation for being dangerous.

If you can’t, be sure your team knows when to come to your rescue, and acts quickly.

From the start, know your talents and set clear goals

I’m not sure that anyone can help a spirit that’s determined to remain at a site.   That’s something ghost hunters have debated for over a century.

We can agree that every paranormal investigator has unique talents.

Identify yours.  Put them to good use for the benefit of this field, and set clear goals in those areas.

If your goal is to help spirits find comfort and cross over, focus on that.  Don’t dilute your efforts by trying to be the EVP expert, and the EMF genius, and the person who pre-screens sites and… Well, you get the idea.

Remember that being good at something doesn’t mean it’s your calling.

I’m a good psychic.  So are a lot of people.  (I’m also a fast typist and I bake amazing chocolate chip cookies.)

However, what I do uniquely is:  I find unreported and under-reported haunted sites, and I explore innovative research techniques.

Those are my most unusual gifts.  That’s where my attention is, now.

Know where you shine, and focus on that.  If you’re called to help ghosts, one-on-one, that’s wonderful.

However, if it’s not, don’t feel guilty.  Each of us has something to contribute to this field.  Discover what it is, and share it with the paranormal community.