Chapter 10. Paranormal phenomena


Some say belief is a prerequisite to their powers. Others need to believe in them, and they need to believe in themselves. However, I know people whose powers are not voluntary, who discover them accidentally, and whom others actively discourage. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that Merlin’s powers came from his birth by a moral woman sired by a non-human incubus. Paranormal powers take many forms, but all are some kind of ability to cause, control, or perceive things that cannot be scientifically explained.

Extrasensory perception

ESP includes mind-reading and telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition of future events. There’s something odd about people who have ESP because they’re never able to scientifically prove it. Their ability must be linked, maybe genetically, to an evasive and contrary spirit in the orbitofrontal cortex.

Astral projection

After a near-death experience people report floating above their bodies looking down on the doctors in the room or seeing someone discover their bodies. Some people say they have learned how to control this phenomenon, so they can travel anywhere, bodiless, even outside our solar system. If we can take these claims seriously, astral projection does not require brain injury, Alzheimers, schizophrenia, delusion, vivid dreaming, or hallucinogenic drugs.


People say ghosts are disembodied spirits, but I don’t understand why they say that, because we have an instinctively negative reaction when encountering ghosts, but we don’t have the same reaction when encountering people or animals who have their spirits still inside them, at least not most people. Of course the separation—when a spirit is without a body or a body is without a spirit—maybe the separation is shocking in and of itself. But I suspect ghosts aren’t animal spirits but projections of another dimension, echos of a hellish other world, intended only to fool us. Because if a ghost looks like a person or speaks like a person, but it is not the person, it suggests more that the ghost can imitate a person, not that it is derived from the person. Otherwise, how can ghosts appear to wear the clothing of a dead person? Do spirits wear clothes? No, ghosts are only illusions and deceptions.


You’d think, considering the myriad forms of psychic readings and their ancient roots there’d be something to it. You’d think there’d be something to astrology, even though it began before people knew the stars and the planets followed Newton’s laws, so it seemed perfectly reasonable to think the positions of the planets at your birth relative to their positions today affect your individual emotions, finances, and other practical affairs. You’d think there’d be something to palmistry given its roots in ancient Hindu astrology. Why shouldn’t lines and bumps on my palm be fair guides for making important decisions? At least palm-reading is more respectable if not more believable than bibliomancy (opening a book and blindly selecting a word), cartomancy (reading random arrangements of a deck of cards, often a Tarot deck), ceromancy (reading wax drippings), cleromancy (casting lots to choose a reading from a book such as the I Ching), haruspicy (examining entrails), pyromancy (reading flames), molybdomancy (reading molten metal), nephelomancy (reading clouds), tasseography (reading tea leaves), ureamancy (reading froth on urine), or using a Magic 8-Ball, which people use for amusement. Or how about scrying, where people go into a trance or pretend to go into a trance in which they see things, or pretend to see things in crystal balls (crystallomancy), or smooth bodies of water (hydromancy), or looking into mirrors (catoptromancy), or into glowing coals (anthracomancy), or rising smoke (turifumy), or opaque rounded stones (peep stones), or even whatever’s going on inside the scryer’s eyelids? You’d think these diviners were doing more than looking at you with cold eyes and interpreting your reactions to general and contradictory mumbo jumbo. Your professional diviner today should be regarded not as a mystic but as an entertainer.


You shall see when we add up the numeric values of the letters of your name your importance in the universe. Each name, each number has a mystical significance from before the Pythagorian ideal unto the present time. Just as 666 is the number of the beast of Revelation, so then 888 is the number of Christ the Redeemer. These numbers show the divine origins of the alphabetic order of Hebrew, Greek, and English letters, and the infallibility of base ten. Your number is a sum of your past and your future, whether to be grateful, regretful, hopeful, or dreadful.


A good curse is the result of a proper ritual. We are talking real serious here, including, possibly: a circle enclosing a pentagram with candles, display or creation of sacral symbols, blood and flame, also shadows, a witches’s cauldron, eye of newt, and all that, an invocation of lesser demons or compromised angels, repeating certain words sacred and profane, manipulation of certain objects sacred and profane, performance of dance, song, or sacred mumbo jumbo, or a custom-made voodoo doll with sharp pins. God and Jesus are exceptions; they issued curses without rituals. God cursed the serpent for convincing Eve to eat the apple, and he cursed Cain for murdering Abel and the earth where Abel’s blood was spilled. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was barren. The best curses have the best justifications: retributions of wrongs such as murdering your brother, social ostracism, relentless bullying, financial ruin (where someone else is to blame), misappropriation of a throne, any of the seven deadly sins, or desecrations, such as grave robbery, or opening King Tut’s tomb (which was grave robbery). However, accidentally stepping on a crack should not break your mother’s back. Cursers are either outcasts or tyrants. Fugitives, gypsies, witches, and sorry loners lamenting their fates curse because they want to punish those who brought misery upon them. Tyrants curse to exercise their arbitrary and cruel power. A curse could be a metaphor for something unmentionable (which we won’t mention), or for something universal (such as random bad luck), or a plot device because some plots just don’t work without them. But all curses rely on guilt, the power of suggestion, and confirmation bias, essentially where stupidity validates superstition.

Con artists

The father of spirit photography (a well documented fact) deliberately doctored his photographs and relied on double exposures. He was exposed as a fraud because some of his ghosts were living people who could be identified. So many séance mediums were debunked that today séances are seen as a form of entertainment, not as a means of communicating with the dead. Harry Houdini was well-known for exposing the cheap tricks of mediums and psychics, but Arthur Conan Doyle exposed Houdini; Doyle said that Houdini possessed paranormal abilities that he used in performing his own tricks, and in preventing others from proving themselves. Furthermore, Houdini’s wife after his death hired mediums to communicate with him. Even if many mediums were frauds, it doesn’t mean that all of them were. If voices of the dead cannot be heard in a darkened room, if the dead cannot answer questions by rapping on tables, if they cannot rotate or levitate hair or tables, then they probably cannot testify against either frauds or debunkers.

Stone tapes

People say during a traumatic event mental and emotional energies are projected into rocks and other hard objects, and these energies can be replayed in the presence of a sympathetic soul. Our Native American ancestors spoke of something different; they said that the stones themselves speak to us but in a metaphorical sense, not literally. They elicit a reverence from shared love and belonging.