Today I’m glad to present interview with Annalisa Ventola. I first got to know her through her blog, Public Parapsychology. These days she’s the Executive Director of the Parapsychological Association. This interview was taken over email.
Annalisa, could you please tell our readers about yourself.
I am a the Executive Director of the Parapsychological Association, an associate member of the Center for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology at Lund University, Sweden, and the founder of Public Parapsychology, a web log devoted to promoting public scholarship in the fields of parapsychology and anomalous psychology.
I'm also a composer, performer, and music teacher. I have a small, private studio of 20-30 young pianists who see me once a week for tutoring. I also perform original piano/vocal music around Columbus, Ohio and have an EP album in development (http://www.annalisaventola.com/).
Could you describe the Parapsychological Association, how does it differ from other psi research associations (SPR, for example)
The Parapsychological Association is a professional association of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or 'psychic') experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The PA is similar to the structure of other kinds of professional academic associations, but unique in the types of members that it attracts and the programs that it offers.
Our professional membership is primarily made up of college and university professors, clinicians, counselors, and independent researchers who engage in psi research. The PA supports their work with publications like the Journal of Parapsychology and the Mindfield Bulletin, research grants, yearly awards and annual conventions. Additionally, the PA publishes a set of ethical standards by which our professional members abide.
What do you do at Parapsychological Association?
I am responsible for implementing the PA Board's plans and policies, managing general operations, recruiting and supervising staff and volunteers, conducting the official correspondence of the PA and communicating with PA membership and the general public.
What about your own research?
Lately my personal research efforts have taken a back seat to the PA's administrative needs, but prior to working for the PA, I was doing field research on haunting and poltergeist experiences. I assisted Devin Terhune and James Houran in a large-scale study that was funded by the Society for Scientific Exploration's Young Investigators Program (http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_21_1_terhune.pdf). It was a double-blind field study that investigated the physical characteristics of a reputedly haunted residence compared to the thoroughly "unhaunted" residence next door. Positive results from that study had me spending several years pursuing the question of how to evaluate photographic anomalies and work with expert consultants (The Parapsychological Association, Inc. 52nd Annual Convention Abstracts of Presented Papers – page 23).
More recently, I've worked with fellow parapsychologist Bryan Williams on several self-published primers created to assist paranormal enthusiasts in adopting parapsychological methods in their own field investigations. Each of our primers contains a thorough literature review on the topic under study followed by tips on how to put the knowledge from previous research into practice. So far we've covered temperature, magnetism, apparitional experiences, and poltergeist phenomena. The primers can be downloaded at http://www.annalisaventola.com/research/.
Please tell about the PA conferences. Who is the target audience? What interesting events or lectures took place at previous ones?
The annual convention of the Parapsychological Association – now in its 56th year – is where the parapsychological community comes together to present and discuss the latest research developments taking place in universities and private laboratories around the world. The target audience is generally academic, though the event is always open to the public.
At our last PA convention in Durham, North Carolina, two events come to mind as particularly interesting. One was a workshop chaired by Dr. Athena Drewes titled "Understanding and Responding to Child and Adult Psi Experiences". The workshop focused on the recognizing the differences between healthy and unhealthy paranormal experiences and how clinical parapsychologists can assist the mental health system in "de-pathologizing psi".
The other event was the annual J.B. Rhine address, which was given by Prof. Thomas Robisheaux of Duke University in Durham. Prof. Robisheaux is a historian and an engaging storyteller. In his address, he used the story of Psyche and Eros as an allegory for the major turning points in the study parapsychological phenomena. The way he weaved these threads together was quite brilliantly done.
Duke University history professsor Thomas Robisheaux, Ph.D., discusses ‘Looking for Psyche: Historical Reflections on Parapsychology, Psychical Research, and the Anomalous Experience’ at PA’s Annual Convention.
What do you look forward to in the upcoming conference in Viterbo?
Right now what I'm looking forward to most is the accommodations and the food! I've been tracking Ora Domus La Quercia on Facebook and their food pictures make me salivate. I love to eat new foods when I travel and I can't wait to sample their fare.
The PA program Committee is still at work on the program, and until they are done I won't be able to say much more about what is happening at the Viterbo convention. However, Dr. Simon Thorpe has been invited to deliver the J.B. Rhine address this year. He is the research director of the Brain and Cognitive Research Center (CerCo) at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Toulouse, France. He will be speaking on the possible implications of psi for cognitive neuroscience and thinking about the nature of mind and consciousness. This should be a very interesting talk.
What do you wish that people knew about parapsychology?
I wish that more people understood that parapsychology is an academic discipline and that in some parts of the world it is fully integrated in the university system. For example, in the United Kingdom there are 16 universities involved in teaching and/or researching parapsychology or anomalistic psychology. Anomalistic psychology is on the pre-university (A-level) psychology syllabus. And in 2010, the government-funded Higher Education Academy (HEA) organized a meeting for academics teaching parapsychology, which helped to firmly establish parapsychology and anomalistic psychology as legitimate sub-disciplines of psychology within UK academia.
Why does psi research have a hard time to be accepted in the mainstream science, in your opinion?
I would argue that psi research has already been accepted into mainstream science, even if its results remain controversial. The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliated organization of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science since 1969, which gives parapsychologists a forum to present their research findings to the larger scientific community. And as recently as 2011, the AAAS hosted a symposium titled "Quantum Retrocausation: Theory and Experiment" where several PA professional members were invited to speak.
2011 also saw the publication of Daryl Bem's "Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect" in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – a paper that presented positive evidence for precognition in a high impact journal with a circulation of over 1300 subscribers.
Mindfield: The Bulletin of the Parapsychological Association hosts a regular column by PA Vice President Gerd Hövelmann titled "Articles Relevant to Parapsychology in the Journals of Various Fields." The latest installment of this bibliography has brought the total number of references to 715 articles since its inception in 2009.
These kinds of developments suggest to me that when it comes to mainstream science, parapsychology has already been given a seat at the table. However, science is far from an objective enterprise. Just like any system that attempts to establish truth or knowledge, scientific research is vulnerable to one's self-limiting beliefs, cultural assumptions, and organizational politics, as well as governmental and general socioeconomic concerns. Despite all that, scientists can -and should – at least aspire to objectivity, and many of my colleagues do this exceptionally well.
What do you think about the discussion that took place on TED site regarding the talks of Rupert Sheldrake?
The TED-Sheldrake controversy was heart breaking for me because prior to that I was a huge fan of TED talks. My husband and I recently purchased a smart TV with an app that brought TED talks directly to our television, and when all of that went down, I was positively addicted – watching at least 4-5 TED lectures per day. Since then, mine and TED's "bad breakup" has been a running joke with my friends.
Previous to the controversy, I had been under the impression that TED had a balanced approach to popularizing scientific and scholarly research, not just from the my initial engagement with their Sheldrake and Hancock talks, but after seeing excellent talks by people like Jeffrey Kripal and Cassandra Vieten among others. But there came a point when TED Conferences, LLC attempted to demonstrate that they were in the position to demarcate between science and pseudoscience. Their boilerplate criticisms – which had very little correspondence to the actual content of Sheldrake's talk – suggested to me that they were not up for the task. Fortunately, the incident has only shed more light on the valuable work of parapsychologists and consciousness researchers around the world. This has resulted in even wider support for the work that we do.
Where do you see parapsychology 10 years from now? 50 years?
Information technology is changing quickly and professional organizations like the PA have had to adapt to keep up. More and more, consumers of scientific research are demanding that organizations provide free and open access to their resources online. However, maintaining the quality of those resources requires a staff – editors, managers, proofers, etc.- and those resources are generally require funding. Just about every academic organization is facing this problem right now. Those who can effectively navigate the transition will be leading the organizations that flourish 10 years from now.
I'm encouraged to find students who are organizing their efforts to fill in some of the gaps as information technology expands. Recently we've seen freely available publications like Paranthropology and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology emerge – publications founded by PA Student Members – with PA Professional Members occasionally contributing. The youth of the field are shaping new digital technologies and making them available to more established professionals. It may sound cliché to say that the youth are our future, but I see something unusual happening here.
The digital age is also bringing together the Western/Eastern and Northern/Southern hemispheres, and as researchers from different continents continue to network with each other, new terminology and new metaphors for understanding consciousness and explaining psi phenomena will emerge. At this point, parapsychology is very much a Western science – which is rooted in Western ways of thinking and Western concepts of self. But over the years, more and more Asian and South American researchers have been joining our ranks. Just recently, the PA has welcomed its first Arabic-speaking Professional Member. And for the last two years, the PA has been guided by our first South American President.
Fifty years from now, we can look forward to parapsychology developing into a multi-cultural science – less encumbered by limitations of a single worldview and thus more aware of our own assumptions. This blending of worldviews will bolster our aspirations toward objectivity – even if the results of our studies suggest that there may be no such thing.
My sincere gratitude to Annalisa for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure to take a look at her blog, the PA web site and its conference.
Skeptiko podcast host, Alex Tsakiris had started his public journey into the world of psi research in January 2007. I had the opportunity to interview him about 5 months after he had started.
Six years and about 200 fantastic episodes later, Alex has agreed to a follow-up interview.
Despite starting the podcast without taking a position, just 5 months later you seemed to side with proponents of psi. I've got the feeling that in the following years you've established even firmly in the proponents camp. Is this where "following the data", as you love to say, led you?
Short answer — yes. My biggest surprise was discovering how weak the skeptical arguments against psi were. You hear these skeptical talking points like, "100 years of nothing", "pseudoscience", "lack of experiential controls", and it sounds like there's a raging scientific debate. But when I drilled into it I found very, very little substance to the Skeptical position.
Revisiting our previous interview reminded me that back then you had this initiative called Open Source Science. You wanted to duplicate some psi experiments, starting with the famous "Dogs that know" experiment of Rupert Sheldrake. I know you've done some work on it, but the project seems dead now. Even the web site redirects to Skeptiko.com. What happened to this initiative? Do you plan to conduct any experiments in the future?
I guess this kinda gets back to question 1 in that when I started out I thought there was a real scientific debate. I naively thought that more data would make a difference. Over time I came to understand that for most folks it's not about the data, it's about preserving their worldview.
Also, on a practical level, I found out how hard it is to do decent research. I spent a couple years and several thousand dollars on the "Dogs that Know" experiments. I even teamed up with some researchers at the University of Florida. We definitely observed some dogs that knew when their owners were coming home, but turning that into a viable research project was much harder than I expected.
You also had an idea to do a movie. What happened to that?
The good thing about movies is that you can always say you're still working on it… yea, I'll go with that 🙂
The podcast touched on many subjects related to parapsychology, including NDE research, nature of consciousness, ESP research, mediumship, religion, and even UFOs. Today, what do you firmly believe in regarding these topics. What you don't believe is true? Where are you still truly skeptical?
That's what Skeptiko is all about… so you gotta listen to find out 🙂
In some of the older episodes you told about your personal experience with medium readings and even an OBE (am I right?). What did these personal experience teach you?
My personal experience with medium readings demonstrated the reality of anomalous communication. As to the source of that communication, the simplest expatiation is survival of consciousness. I never was able to make it out of my body — lucid dreaming is as far as I got 🙂
I wonder how all that you've learned in these 6 years affected your personal life, your beliefs about the world, your relationships with friends and family. Can you share any of this?
The shift has been quite dramatic. I've become convinced that the evidence for survival of consciousness is overwhelming. I try to live that reality every day. Of course, "try" is the operative word… not sure my wife and kids think I try hard enough 🙂
Are there any people whom you wanted to interview but couldn't?
There are some Skeptics I would love to talk to, but these guys only do science interviews with folks that agree with them. I've found fundamentalist Christians are more open to debate than Skeptics.
You loved to talk about the "paradigm shift" in science, in which the mainstream scientific community will accept the existence of psi and divert more resources into the research and understanding the implications. Do you notice any such shifts in mainstream science in the last years?
Not really. Maybe a little more openness, but that's it. I don't think a system like the one we have that is totally enmeshed in materialism can bootstrap itself out of it.
Related to the previous question, from time to time there'll come out some books or some really interesting cases that reach the mass media, like "Proof of Heaven" book by Dr. Eben Alexander, whom you interviewed twice. the book was a bestseller and the person appeared all over mass media in the US. Yet again, it doesn't seem to move the scientific community interest in this topic. Why is that? What will it take to bring this paradigm shift?
I think most people are quite comfortable with this artificial, and fundamentally bizarre, divide we've created between "science" and "religion".
While the scientific community still remains mainly skeptical, it sometimes feels that there is much more openness on these topics in the general public. Perhaps the recent controversy over the TEDx talks of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock is a good example. It appears that the public reaction to the banning of these talks, as could be seen on TED's discussion forums on them, was not one-sided. In fact, the number of commenters in favor of these talks was impressive. What does this teach us?
That the wrongheadedness of this biological-robot silliness is self-evident to anyone willing to look with an open mind.
You seem to have succeeded to create quite a vibrant community over the Skeptiko forums. Discussions between proponents and skeptics are usually conducted in a civilized manner. And if not, moderators take care of it, bringing the discussions back on track. Personally, reading fascinating accounts of the personal experiences of different members of the community makes me wonder why some people still have doubts in the validity of psi and extended consciousness. What have you learned from the community?
I learned a lot from this wonderful community that you've been so much a part of creating… thank you by the way 🙂
What podcasts do you regularly listen to?
What are your plans for the future of Skeptiko?
In some ways I feel like a bit of a slow learner 🙂 I mean, a lot of the stuff I've learned through Skeptiko has been out there, and in many cases known to me, for quite some time. So, why did it take me so long to come around? Maybe I'm more like the skeptics I rail against than I'd like to admit… married to a worldview… unwilling to give up my illusion of control.
I guess the future of Skeptiko will be driven by the misconceptions I'm willing to let go of? I guess we'll find out together.
Any closing words
Thx for doing this interview Jacob. And thx for being such an important part of Skeptiko… from the very beginning.
I’ve recently published my review of a documentary called “Something Unknown is doing we don’t know what”. The film researches the evidence behind the “Big Five” psi phenomena and I liked it greatly. Take a peek at my review for some more info. Today I’m glad to present you my interview with Renée Scheltema, the filmmaker and producer of Something Unknown (link to my review of the movie). Despite this being my 15th interview that I publish here on the site, this is the first one that I did live, using Skype. Please excuse our accents and non-professionalism. Also, I’d like to remind you that Renée and I opened a forum to discuss "Something Unknown" and its topics. Renée is going to be there as well to discuss it with you. In fact, she had already posted a short welcome message there. So come over and join us at forum.mind-energy.net. It’s right near the Skeptiko podcast forum, which you should also participate in, in my opinion. We had a very conversational tone with Renée and the interview starts right in the middle of a sentence.
You can read the redacted transcript below or listen to the audio using the player below or download the MP3 directly.
Renée Sceltema: …I hear what you’re saying because Professor Tart, he told me there’s actually – you could call it the “Big Seven.” But then there are two in the “maybe” category. And one is mediums, you know, talking to dead people which – that’s scientifically you can’t prove that. I investigated it but somehow there’s a reasoning that goes in circles. So I didn’t complete it. And then the other in the “maybe” category is near-death experiences.
Jacob: I actually wanted to ask you about these, as well.
Renée Sceltema: I researched it a little bit and then because Professor Tart said it’s in the “maybe” category I decided not to include these – the film was already very full as it was with information. Couldn’t get that in, as well.
Jacob: I see. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and why you decided to make this film?
Renée Sceltema: Okay, that’s in the film. I had those psychic experiences and I wanted to know whether I was deluding myself. I sort of knew that parapsychologists were doing research on this kind of stuff, but I hadn’t kept up. I’m not a “woo-woo” kind of person who believes all this stuff. Actually I don’t believe a lot of it.
But on the other hand, the first experience with my father was very strong. I guess in scientific terms you call it “crisis telepathy.” It happened when I was studying at the University of California, Berkeley, during the day. I would call my parents every three months. I had just phoned my parents a few days before. While I was with my nose in the books, there was this strong force that told me that I had to get up and phone them again. I remember walking down the street thinking: ‘This is weird. Why am I walking to the phone booth? There’s no reason for this. It’s the wrong time of the day.’
Then when I phoned, my brother picked up the phone, which is very unusual because he had left home and would never even pick up the phone. Then he told me my father had had a stroke and was fighting for his life at the intensive care. So that seared into my mind because I just picked up something there that was real and I guess it’s part of our survival instinct, no?
In Christianity, all these psychic experiences they call it “from the Devil” and it’s not been too long since they burned witches. And so according to this belief system all these psychic things are all thrown into one corner together with the witches and the weird soothsayers.
Long before that time, when we were living as Bushmen or Aboriginals, there would always be the Shaman who was capable of reaching beyond our minds; capable of doing these kinds of things. For them it was normal. So it’s only been in the past couple of centuries that psychic experiences have been suppressed.
I read a book long ago about Mutant Message Down Under, a beautiful book about an American woman who lives with the Aboriginals. She notes down what they experienced. They could heal; see remote view kangaroos, etc, just because it was just the only way to go.
So I guess it’s part of our survival instinct. So I didn’t regard it as abnormal when I had this experience with my sick father. I just thought, ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.’
Also I guess, I’m at a certain age where I felt confident enough to tackle this kind of subject. I don’t think I would dare to make this film 25 years ago.
Jacob: Okay, it is also written there that you started to work on the film about 10 years ago. Why did it take so long?
Michael Tymn has a very interesting blog at his gaia page. Michael often writes about the issues of survival after death, such as mediumship and NDE. Recently he published a short interview with Dr. Charles Tart.
Tart is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California (Davis campus), where he served for 28 years and is now a core faculty member of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, Calif. He has authored more than a dozen books, including Altered States of Consciousness (1969) and Transpersonal Psychologies (1975). He studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before deciding to be become a psychologist. He received his doctoral degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963, and then received postdoctoral training in hypnosis research with Professor Ernest R. Hilgard at Stanford University.
Michael Tymn starts with generic questions about how Dr. Tart came to parapsychology and about his latest book, The End of Materialism
. But later focuses his questions on the subject of survival. I must say that Dr. Tart had some really interesting answers. He definitely holds his own opinion about things. He also thinks that the basic 5 ESP types, such as telepathy and precognition were proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Read the full interview with Dr. Charles Tart.
Canadian Psychic Medium Barb Powell, nicknamed the “Sixth Charm”, is sought out for her skills in Paranormal Investigations as well as psychic/medium readings. A popular psychic who has been in the fore front of the media for the past 10 years. You may have heard her on Darkness Radio with Dave Shrader, Sirius Radio’s Living Successfully or her interview on The Kevin Smith Show. Barb was the only one in the history of The Kevin Smith Show that pulled in so many listeners and tipped audience ratings. She can also be viewed on TV and read about in Magazines.
Could you please tell the story of discovering your intuitive abilities?
I always knew I was ‘different’. I never quite fit in, even if I were in a crowd of people. It was like I was always observing everything instead of being a part of a group. I would see ‘colors’ around people, which I now know to be a person’s energy or aura. I could see spirit, those who have passed on and I would talk about them to people. You learn very quickly as a child what to say and what not to say. I learned to keep my mouth shut about certain things that were out of the ordinary. I tried to make myself fit into society and be like everyone else. I didn’t want to be different.
When I was a young girl there was an incident where my grandfather had passed away unexpectedly. It was my first experience with someone passing away let alone someone who was close to me. A few days later he appeared to me and began to speak to me. I remember it rather clearly. My brother came into the room and I do remember hearing him yell to my mother that something was wrong with Barb. It was like hearing his voice through a tunnel, it was hollow sounding. I was somewhere else at that point, I could not even feel my own body, nor did I have control over my body. My mother came into the room and began to ask me questions and I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see my grandfather. I remember feeling happy and he wasn’t dead. That perhaps everyone was mistaken. No one in my family knew what was happening, they figured I was stressed and no one talked about it again….ever. I have always been different. As an adult I knew what it was I could do as a child. But it was more shunned then because I lived in a small community. It wasn’t talked about as much as it is now.
In your bio I’ve read about an incident with the church, where you and your husband were thrown out of it because you wouldn’t agree to take your site down and abandon the practice. How do you see today the relations between established religion and psychic abilities?
My husband worked as a youth pastor at the church we belonged to. I was asked to take my website down and to become a ‘prophet’ to the church. My husband calmly told them that only Jesus Christ is the true prophet. Needless to say I did not take down my website, nor discontinue my work. We are all made in the image of God and we need to be our truly unique selves and be ok with who and what we are as long as we are being true to ourselves and living the best life we possibly can.
I do not have an issue with religion, religion has an issue with me.
People need something to believe in and as long as it’s good for them, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do have an issue with those individuals and organizations that tell people what to do and how to do it. There are many religions and churches that do use their intuition, which they state is from God. I’ve been to churches that the Minister stands up and relays messages of health and emotional well being. I try not to worry myself over what someone else is doing, or what religion thinks of me. I know that I’m trying to do the best I can for myself, my family and for my clients. Living by that rule has helped me to stay grounded and free.
On your site you list skills that you work within. Some of them are: Psychic Intuitive, Medium, Angel Reader, Pet Communicator, Spirit Guide Messages. Some of these concepts require a very special and uncommon world view. I would like to know how you see the world, especially the “unseen” part of it.
I love the world. The world is mysterious and beautiful! Just like the world that has areas such as forests and ocean that has not been explored, so too is the human mind! I truly believe that one day the art of psychic abilities will have the proof needed to show that this intuition is real and accessible to anyone. There will always be those who do not agree or feel that it’s wrong. I’m not here to prove anything, nor to try and argue with someone.
My world is like walking into a busy shopping mall. You can hear people talking, all the conversation and words are bumping into each other and not making sense. This is my world 24/7. When you go to a mall you are not overcome by the noise because you don’t always pay attention to it. Sure it can be overwhelming to you, the crowds, pushing and the business of everything. But you are at the mall to do or get something. Therefore you ignore all this external stimuli. That is what I do. I ignore it unless I’m in work mode. When I’m in work mode, I then pay attention to it. I may not always understand it, but I’ll pay attention to it. The spirit world is very close to our world, there is a very thin thread between worlds is the best I can describe it.
You describe yourself also as a paranormal investigator. What does a “paranormal investigator” do? Could give an example?
A paranormal investigator is simply someone who goes into a place of business or home in order to investigate unexplained phenomena. It’s not always caused by spirit or something unexplained. There have only been a few occasions that I can honestly say that a house or place of business is truly ‘haunted’ and I have been doing this type of work for years full time. I am usually called when people are scared or they fear that business is being affected by what the believe to be spirit. I never go alone and I am usually accompanied by a team. There are those in my team who use equipment such as an EMF reader, Infrared Thermal Scanners, compass and other such tools. Obviously I can pick up any spirit or energy changes in an environment.
One of the services that you offer is “Corporate Psychic”. What is this? How common is it in business to use the skills or psychics?
A corporate psychic is a psychic who uses intuitive skills in order to help a business succeed. This type of psychic is like a consultant who looks at the employees listed and can tell who are the trouble makers and who needs to stay and who needs to go in order to make a business run better and succeed. This psychic can help hire new employees and look at the business to see where things may be going wrong and how to correct it. This type of psychic is also good in picking jury selections as well. I think people would be very surprised to learn just how many businesses use a corporate psychic! It’s quite popular.
You also write that you help with Strategic Planning, Employee selection and hiring etc. How being a psychic make you suitable for performing Strategic planning for corporations? How do you help with employee selection?
It’s all about the energy of someone. A psychic can detect who are the trouble makers and who are better workers. They can tell who will cause issues down the line and hopefully save a business some trouble. I’ve had business owners call me up to ask me about their business. That’s all I need to know from them. From there I can usually tell what the business is about and where things are going wrong and hopefully be able to offer some solutions of how to get things back on track.
You know, mediumship has not been accepted by established science as a fact. Same for other psychic effects and skills. How do you think it would be possible to prove the whole world that there is indeed truth to it?
I learned a long time ago that people will believe what they want to believe and that it isn’t up to me to prove anything to anyone. That is how I choose to live my life. I’m not living for other people or what other’s may think of me and I am now ok with that. It took a long time to get to that point in my life, but I’m there. That doesn’t mean certain things do not bother me…but I’ve learned to deal with them in a more positive way instead of allowing negative thoughts and comments affect me.
There have been many mediums/psychics who have ‘proven’ their skills and there are still people out there that give this work a bad name because they do not work in an ethical way.
Do you ever have any doubt regarding the messages that you relay to your customers through you psychic gifts? In general, what makes you certain that your abilities are real and that the world as you see it?
Because I’m human there is always doubt in our lives. One of the most common questions I get from students is how can they be sure that it’s intuition and not projecting fears or hopes. How can you tell when a hunch is intuition that is valid and not something simply made up or a random lucky guess. My response to them is that you don’t know. That’s the entire challenge of using intuition. I’ve been doing this work for years and have been able to put aside my own fears, ego and personal opinions when doing the work that I do. It’s highly unlikely you will see me crying with a client. I’m very blunt and honest with what I do. Basically with a reading, don’t ask if you don’t want to know the answer. I won’t relay what I know a client wants to hear. I will relay the information I receive, which is one of the reasons I do not like to do criminal cases or cold cases with family members. I will usually only work with police because it’s difficult to tell a family member all the details I receive when working on a case.
How do you think the world will change in the next 10 years?
Things change day by day. In 10 years I believe we will hear more health news in regards to cancer and AIDS. AIDS will change, meaning mutate and there will be another catch to this disease that will cause more panic and fears. But there will be good news in regards to cancer and cures. On a spiritual note, I see that people will become more accustom to hearing and believing in the spiritual realms. However, TV will take it to another level and play off the fears of people. Making things unbelievable and more difficult for those in this line of work. Someone quite famous in the paranormal world will be outed. Meaning there will be bad press for them as there will be those who are on a mission to out spiritual workers and frauds to make their point.
How do you see your mission in this world?
I see myself as getting by in the world. I’m trying to live the best way I possibly can while helping where I can. I’m not out to prove a point or to create a mission plan for myself. My theme is to be me and for me to travel down that road of self discovery and figure myself out. I wasted too many years trying to figure others out and ways I could fit into their world. I’ve set myself free to be who I know I am and that’s a person who is no longer afraid of what others think. Setting your soul free will allow you to sore to heights you never knew existed! Release those limits you set upon yourself. Anything and everything is possible. Don’t worry about the how to and the why. Focus on the goal, don’t focus on how to get there.
My thanks to Barb for taking the time to answer my questions.
Robert Waggoner is the author of the recently released book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self . An experienced lucid dreamer for more than thirty years, he has logged approximately one thousand lucid dreams. Waggoner is also President-elect of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
Could you describe to the people not familiar with Lucid Dreaming what it means?
When you consciously realize you are dreaming, while in the dream state, you are lucid dreaming. So, lucid dreaming requires conscious awareness of dreaming while in the dream. Normally it occurs after a sudden insight like noticing an impossible event, and you realize, “This is a dream!”
Once you realize that you are dreaming, you can think about what you want to do, make deliberate choices and act on your decisions. It’s like your own magic kingdom – you can fly around the room, ask the dream figures to explain the dream symbols, make items appear or disappear, and other incredible things.
By contrast in a normal dream, you usually accept whatever happens. If you are riding a horse, which suddenly becomes a bicycle and then a skateboard, you just unthinkingly accept it.
Can anyone achieve the ability to have lucid dreams?
Almost anyone can learn to lucid dream. Scientific surveys of college students around the world have shown that 47% to 92% claim to have become consciously aware of dreaming while in the dream state at least once. So the lucid dreaming experience seems relatively widespread, especially among the college age population.
Source: The Incidence of Lucid Dreaming within a Japanese University Student Sample
Daniel Erlacher, et.al., International Journal of Dream Research, Vol 1, No 2 (October 2008)
In my book, I provide a number of simple tips and techniques to help people become consciously aware in their dreams. Often people will have a lucid dream after simply hearing about it for the first time. Some people have emailed me about their first lucid dream after reading the first fifty pages of my book.
Children, who suffer from recurring nightmares, sometimes naturally learn how to become consciously aware in their dreams. They realize that the bogeyman only appears in their dream, and so then the next time they see the bogeyman, they conclude, “Hey, this must be a dream” and become lucidly aware. Some of the most prolific lucid dreamers are those who learned it as a child.
What is your personal experience with lucid dreaming?
I taught myself how to lucid dream in the spring of 1975 after reading Carlos Castaneda’s book, Journey to Ixtlan. In the book, don Juan suggests to Carlos that he ‘find his hands’ in the dream state and become consciously aware. So each night before sleep, I sat there looking at the palm of my hands for a few minutes while mentally suggesting, “Tonight in my dreams, I will see my hands and realize I am dreaming.” After a few nights, I dreamt that I was walking through my high school, and suddenly my hands appeared right in front of my face. I thought, “My hands? This is a dream!”
In many respects, this technique reminds me of Ivan Pavlov’s operant conditioning of dogs. Whenever he would bring food, he would ring a bell. Soon the dogs associated the presentation of food with the ringing of a bell, and would salivate whenever they heard a bell ring. In much the same way, I taught myself to associate seeing my hands with the conscious thought, ‘this is a dream,’ and mentally conditioned a lucid response.
In your book you state that through the use of lucid dreaming techniques one can achieve "paranormal" abilities, such as telepathy, clairvoyance etc. This is a bold statement and I’d like to review this subject in more detail.
Actually in my book, I state that 1) experienced lucid dreamers have numerous reports of seeking out and receiving valid telepathic and precognitive information while consciously aware in the dream state, and 2) scientific experiments could be easily set up to test the validity of these claims.
In my book, I show many examples of experienced lucid dreamers (some with PhD’s), who have actively sought out unknown information in lucid dreams, awakened with it and later discovered its validity. In the case of precognitive information, they often had to wait for the information to appear before confirming it.
Lucid dreamers did this to disprove the idea that lucid dreaming involved merely expectation and mental models, while others wished to determine the limits of awareness, when conscious in the subconscious of dreams. In seeking unknown information, these experienced lucid dreamers learned that lucid dreaming provided access to a broader field of awareness. Though Carl Jung proposed the idea of a ‘collective unconscious’ with internalized, biologically based ideas, forms and archetypes, lucid dreaming may allow science to experiment with Jung’s idea and expand it to include much more.
Why do you think gaining such inner abilities in lucid dreaming state is better than in the waking or meditative states?
Since recorded history, much of mankind has experienced precognitive and telepathic dreams. Dreaming naturally seems to ignore ideas of linear time and space. In a dream, we may be in our childhood home with our present day friends, and then hear an odd comment, which someone repeats in the waking world tomorrow. Dreaming may be a natural state of consciousness for the receipt of precognitive and telepathic information. Moreover, when you are consciously aware in the dream state, you have the capacity to pursue telepathic and precognitive information, and actively seek out the Muse.
Not all lucid dreamers will attain the level of proficiency and conceptual openness needed to gather unknown information, however. In those capable, lucid dreaming provides another means to investigate inherent, exceptional human abilities and to do so scientifically. Lucid dreaming may not be ‘better’ than waking or meditative states; rather, lucid dreaming may be another natural state that gives access to extra sensory information and capabilities.
In my book, I recount a story of a lucid dreamer who had a number of painful plantar warts on her feet. For months, she had tried visualizing and suggesting them away, but to no effect. Finally, she became lucid in a dream, recalled her painful plantar warts, and then placed a ball of light on each foot in the lucid dream along with her healing intent. In the morning, her plantar warts had turned black. Within a week, they all fell off and never returned. I read that a Buddhist lama said that a suggestion made in the lucid dream state was nine times more powerful than one made in the waking state. Lucidly aware in our subconscious seems surprisingly amenable to suggestion.
How one would know that what he perceives is not a dream. As I understand this, lucid dreams are still dreams and the remarkable events that may happen during this time are still the results of dreaming.
If a person becomes consciously aware in a dream, seeks out unknown (but verifiable) information, wakes with it, hands it to a scientist or impartial observer, who discovers that the information has validity, then the dreamt information has validity in the realm of waking consensus reality.
A lucid dreamer realizes that he consciously exists in a dream. He or she knows it. The question revolves around the validity of dream information; can a lucid dreamer, knowing that he or she is dreaming, discover unknown but verifiable information about waking reality? In my book, I share numerous anecdotes from many experienced lucid dreamers that show the answer appears to be, ‘yes.’ Now on occasion, the information comes metaphorically, but more frequently it comes literally. Experiments could be devised to focus on non-metaphorical responses.
Is there any scientific proof for this? Many would say that existence of telepathy, precognition or other such phenomena still needs proof. It’s not a widely accepted fact, you know, and one would find it hard to prove these are real phenomena. Why go as far as to use lucid dreaming, which by itself a little known phenomena, to prove the existence of this abilities.
Scientific proof for lucid dreaming dates back to the late 1970’s. Keith Hearne at the University of Hull in England devised a sleep lab experiment in which a lucid dreamer would signal that he was consciously aware and dreaming by moving his eyes left to right eight times in a row.Hearne knew that in dreams, we have REM (rapid eye movement), so he deduced that the REM polygraph pad would capture any intentional eye movement signal. In April of 1975, his lucid dreaming associate, AlanWorsley, became lucid in the sleep lab and moved his eyes left to right to signal that he was consciously aware. Hearne, watching the REM polygraph in a nearby room, deemed the event scientifically and philosophically “mind-blowing.”
Unaware of Hearne’s work, Stephen LaBerge at Stanford, performed a very similar experiment a few years later by lucidly signaling his conscious awareness from the dream state through eye movements.LaBerge published his results in a widely read scientific journal in 1981, and has done much research on lucid dreaming since that time.
In my case, I taught myself how to lucid dream in 1975 before this scientific proof was published. Later I discovered that Buddhists have been teaching lucid dreaming, or dream yoga, for more than a thousand years.
Why use lucid dreaming? Again, the dream state seems naturally conducive for telepathic and precognitive information. Scientific studies of dream telepathy were conducted at the Maimonides Hospital sleep lab by Montague Ullman, M.D. and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., in the 1960’s and ‘70’s with very significant, positive results. Using lucid dreaming, you can directly seek out the information as part of a scientific experiment, wake with it and provide it to the scientist. Lucid dreaming may be the revolutionary tool that provides the convincing evidence for these abilities.
Could you shortly tell the most compelling evidence you have to back your claims regarding these psychic abilities being gained while in lucid dreaming state?
In researching various books and articles and in talking with a wide range of experienced lucid dreamers, I discovered assorted evidence for lucid dreaming as a means to obtain unknown information that later proved to be valid. Some lucid dreamers would get information, then write it down, date it, seal it in an envelope and show it to others, once the event occurred. They felt convinced in advance that they had lucidly discovered future information.
Because the scientific proof of lucid dreaming only goes back thirty years, and most of the research has focused on the neuro-physiological experience, the ‘compelling evidence’ to date involves personal experiments by talented lucid dreamers.
For example, a college student wrote me to ask if I truly felt a person could discover unknown information in the lucid dream state. I encouraged him to conduct his own experiment and find out for himself. So he and a young woman in his dorm devised an experiment. She told him that she had a “bizarre freckle” on her back, and he should become lucidly aware in a dream to discover where it was. In his next lucid dream, he remembered the goal, and headed off to her dorm room to discover the bizarre freckle. Oddly, acquaintances (that did not believe in lucid dreaming) appeared and told him this was crazy, and he suddenly found it hard to move forward, and woke up. Apparently, these ‘distracters’ represented his own lingering doubts made manifest.
So he tried again in another lucid dream. This time he lucidly intended for the young woman to come to him. Suddenly, she was at the door, and he asked her to show him the bizarre freckle. She turned around and he could see it right above her rump. He felt shocked, since he believed that she had hinted it was on the side of her back – but he saw it right above her rump. He decided to wake and recall the unexpected information. Later, he went down to her room, knocked on the door, and announced that he lucidly dreamt the location of her bizarre freckle. When she turns around, he puts his finger on the spot. She pulls up her shirt, and ta-da, the bizarre freckle is directly under his finger.
Obviously this is not a scientifically devised experiment, but it does show some of the challenges, e.g., overcoming doubts, and some of the promise of lucid dreaming as a revolutionary tool to investigate time, space and unknown non-local information.
Back to your book, who’s the target audience for your book? Whom would you recommend to read it?
Though my publisher would exclaim, “Everyone! The answer is everyone!”, this book is for those interested in the nature of mind and consciousness, serious lucid dreamers who want to become better at lucid dreaming and conduct their own experiments into the far reaches of lucid awareness, and those involved in Buddhism and dream yoga.
Besides the chapters on getting unknown information, I also have chapters on lucid dreamers who have apparently healed themselves in lucid dreams, sought out conceptual information from the ‘awareness behind the dream’ and seemingly encountered other dreamers in the dream state. Most importantly though, I recount what happened when I decided to go beyond lucid dreaming. Years later, I discovered how that experience apparently connected to the Buddhist tradition’s ultimate goal in dream yoga.
Lucid dreaming is a revolutionary tool to explore the nature of the unconscious mind, which Freud called, “the true reality of the psyche.”
My thanks to Robert Waggoner for this interesting interview
JJ Lumsden is a UK based experimental parapsychologist who has just released his debut book “The Hidden Whisper” (See my review of The Hidden Whisper). Centring on a fictional poltergeist case in Southern Arizona, the book seeks to explain various aspects of parapsychology and where paranormal research currently stands. Lumsden gained his PhD at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit (University of Edinburgh), before moving into independent research.
Could you please start by telling about how and why you became a parapsychologist?
As a youngster, I was curious as to how things ‘worked’ in the world, and naturally intrigued by paranormal phenomena. This intrigue grew stronger as I got older; if telepathy and precognition, for example, were real – there were serious implications for our world view and how the universe operated. I didn’t enter the field because of any personal paranormal experiences, or because I wanted to prove or disprove anything. I just wanted to look into things for myself.
What do the studies of parapsychology in the Koestler Parapsychology Unit include?
Things have changed now, but when I attended (2000-2003), there was a buoyant set of research programmes in place. These were conducted by full-time staff, postgraduates working on their PhD studies, and undergraduates doing final year projects. We had a full Ganzfeld suite in the unit, so (as you can imagine) there was a fair amount of research into Extra Sensory Perception. In addition, there was Psychokinesis work, investigations into ‘haunted’ settings, and DMILS (Direct Mental Interaction with Living Systems) studies.
Between 1984 and 2003, almost two dozen people gained their PhDs at the KPU, but in recent years, following the untimely death of Professor Robert Morris in 2004, the unit has been substantially downsized. Nowadays, there are only two permanent members of staff, the laboratory space has been given up, and very few students are taken on. Today, Edinburgh University seems to prefer to focus resources on other areas of psychology.
What specific areas of parapsychology did you concentrate on?
I primarily investigated emotion and its bearing on Psychokinetic functioning (the idea that your mind can influence events in your environment).
Using ‘Random Event Generators’ to generate random data-streams of ones and zeros, (akin to lots of coin tosses with perfectly balanced coins) I looked at how highly emotive states like anger, sadness and happiness impacted on the behaviour of these devices.
Later on, I began to examine psychic healing (still using micro PK protocols), and spent time in Zululand, South Africa – working with indigenous healers (izangoma).
*The REG approach is a measure of so called micro-Psychokinesis. With micro-PK, we rely on statistical analyses to see if the behaviour of a measuring system (e.g. the REG) can be accounted for by ‘chance’ (i.e. the ones and zeros are summed, and compared with mathematical probability). This is in contrast to macro-PK events like levitation, where you can see the event with the naked eye.
What are your thoughts on the state of parapsychological research these days? After the PEAR has closed, there are not much research institutions left in the academia in the field. Why is that? Should it be different?
There’s little doubt parapsychology is going through a tough time right now, with a lack of funding and a lack of institutional support being the primary reasons.
In academia, particular research areas often come in and out of favour. Certain fields might find themselves lavished with resources one moment, and conversely, starved of them the next. I hope that parapsychology is simply experiencing a cyclical dip in appeal (and support), and that we are not witnessing any long term decline. Whilst the funding environment remains difficult, it will inevitably be more of a challenge to advance research programmes, and we should expect the field’s progress as a whole to slow.
Nonetheless, despite these tough times, parapsychology perseveres. In recent years, for example, Professor Deborah Delanoy has done sterling work at the University of Northampton, at the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes. Deborah has built up a unit of very capable and accomplished researchers doing valuable research. In turn, there are individual researchers dotted around various Universities who have an interest in parapsychology and who quietly work on their own experiments when they get an opportunity.
To return to the funding point, it should be pointed out that there remain a number of organisations who continue to support and promote parapsychology. These include, amongst others, the BIAL Foundation from Portugal, Trinity College, Cambridge (via the Perrot Warwick grants), and the Society for Psychical Research in the UK.
What areas of parapsychology are well researched, in your opinion, and which need much more effort?
Good question. I don’t think we’ve reached a point with any area of parapsychology where we can step back and declare: “aha – we’ve got it”. Psi (an umbrella term that’s often used when referring to ESP and PK together) is an elusive animal, and has a habit of tripping you up when you think you understand it. As I’m not holding my breath for a definitive experiment any time soon, it remains the case of patiently putting more evidence onto the pile.
Having said that, certain areas have been carefully researched for many years, and there comes a point when a sensible decision can be made as to whether more and more replications are needed, or whether we can move on – to new avenues of enquiry. The literature and meta-analyses from micro-PK research suggest the micro-PK is a valid, low order, but replicable effect. So the question that follows is how can we move things forward? Can we think of fresh methods to ramp up effects? Can we utilise new technologies to better measure the phenomena and the processes that underpin them? If a large cheque came though my letter box, I would love to instigate some MRI studies. In turn, I am always fond of experiments that try to break new ground with creative approaches. In recent years I’ve followed the Global Consciousness Project with great interest.
What are the most promising research areas in parapsychology in terms of establishing the fact that there’s something to it?
In terms of positive results, the Ganzfeld has shown itself to be an effective means of generating supposedly paranormal effects, as has the micro-PK/REG based research already mentioned. Of course, there is always the argument that these laboratory based investigations have limited crossover to the real world – which ultimately is something we need to address. But, once phenomena are established in the lab – it’s pretty likely they exist outside the lab in some way.
Some of the DMILS work has also enjoyed good results, and I’d like to see more of it, as I believe it should help us understand how psi might operate in the real world. If psi is real, it probably didn’t develop to enable us to influence the electrical current of Zener diodes (these form the basis of many Random Event Generators).
Going to your book, The Hidden Whisper, why did you write it? What was your goal in writing it? Do you think you’ve achieved this goal?
When people find out what I do, I get a whole spectrum of responses. Some smile and change the subject, others tell me it’s all nonsense, and others instruct me at great length on esoteric and quite unique universal theories.
In between, there are a lot of people who are unsure as to what parapsychology is, and what parapsychologists do. They would like to know more without enduring a lecture. So, The Hidden Whisper is for them.
Who is the targeted audience for the book?
I tried to write a book that could be picked up and enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their knowledge of parapsychology. I wanted to keep the book accessible and easy-going, and not get bogged down with lengthy didactic explanations. I also hope that people who enjoy mystery stories get a kick out of the narrative.
How much is Luke Jackson, the main character, based on yourself or perhaps other parapsychologists that you know?
Luke is a mix of real life people and fiction. I originally thought the book would take about a year to write, but it took three. Over that period Luke’s character morphed quite significantly. Luke Jackson (Mk.1) was very different to the one we see today.
Why did you select the case of poltergeist for the subject of the book. I would not consider poltergeist as a central aspect of parapsychology.
I wanted to write a book that hooked people into an interesting fast-paced story, and reckoned that mystery fiction – something with a central puzzle – was a good way to do so. I wanted to have an interesting plot which I could frame the science around. Poltergeists seemed to fit the bill.
How was the book accepted so far, by critics and by general audience?
So far, the reviews have been very pleasing… which is reassuring. A lot of time and effort was spent developing and writing the book, and if it had gone down like a lead balloon – I’d be in a right old grump. The ‘mix’ of fiction and expanded endnotes has been received especially well, which is good, as that was the riskiest part. A number of publishers I spoke with, advised me strongly against it.
One of the reviewers on Amazon suggested you write a series based on this character. Is this something you might want to consider?
There is another book, circulating in the back of my mind, but it is very different to The Hidden Whisper. I have no immediate plans to bring Luke back in any sequel, but you never know.
What other books on parapsychology could you recommend to people who are genuinely interested in it?
There are a number of good introductory books out there, including:
Irwin and Watt’s “An Introduction to Parapsychology”, Dean Radin’s “The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena”, and “Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence” (edited by Cardena, Lynn & Krippner).
Then, when you start to drill down into specific areas, there are numerous specialised titles. “Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine” (edited by Jonas & Crawford) is one I can recommend.
If people want to stay abreast of the latest research, the best thing to do is get hold of parapsychology journals, such as the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Parapsychology, the European Journal of Parapsychology, and the Journal of Scientific Exploration.
At the end of the book, you write about the skeptic-believer debate and how both sides need to consider that they might be wrong. What are your thoughts on the state of this debate today?
The broad ‘uninformed’ debate will tick along regardless of the facts. You find people on both sides who hold views that appear to bear no relation to the evidence. The debate between informed critics and advocates of the paranormal is more interesting in many ways, because it is one of interpretation. Informed critics are aware of the experiments and the positive results generated – it’s now a question of what they mean…
At the end of the day, I simply suggest that people form their own opinions by looking into parapsychology for themselves, from a fair and impartial starting point. It is up to both sides of the debate (proponents and sceptics) to put across their positions convincingly. They should do this backed up by evidence, not rhetoric or conjecture.
Let me thank JJ Lumsden for this great interview. I wish him best luck both in his parapsychology research and his writing career.
I’m glad to finally publish my interview with Miroslaw Magola, also called the Magnetic Man. Miroslaw possesses a unique ability to “stick” objects to parts of his body. I have already written an article about him in last October, see for an introduction Miroslav Magola the Magnetic Man. Since then I saw more references to him, including references from people skeptical of his ability. I am glad that Miroslaw has accepted my invitation to interview him. Note, that Miroslaw was born in Poland and now lives in Germany. Yet, his English is quite poor and he preferred to be interviewed over the email, since his reading and writing skills are better than his talking skill. Since most of my interviews were conducted over the email, I saw no problem with that.
Obviously, the claims of Miroslaw are quite extraordinary. There are very little people even claiming to have the ability to attach objects to them without adhesives, even rarer is when the objects are not metallic. Miroslaw himself proudly writes that he has been examined by several scientists or researchers in various fields and his website lists them. I have asked Mr. Magola, even before I sent him the question, to provide me with some references to these researchers, if which Miroslaw has sent me four contacts: Prof. Dr. Konstatin Korotkov, Dr. Alexander Imich, M.D. Dobruskin, Jack Houck. I’ve decided to check these four references for information about Magola.
Dr. Konstatin Korotkov seems to be a researcher and an inventor. He is a Professor of Physics at St. Petersburg State Technical University in Russia, published over 70 papers in leading journals on physics and biology, and he holds 12 patents on biophysics inventions (from his website). He seems to be researching what he calls bioelectrography, research of human’s energy field. He developed a technique known as the Gas Discharge Visualization technique (GDV), which should be better than Kirlian photography. I’ve sent an email to the email address at his webpage but unfortunately got no reply to this day.
Miroslaw gave me a phone number in New York for M.D. Dobruskin who seems to be related to Kirlian photography. Yet, on this phone number he was not available anymore and I couldn’t find any additional information on this person on the internet, except for some pictures where he tests Magola, on the following website (at the bottom): http://members.aol.com/mmagola/experiments.html.
Jack Houck is well known for his PK party. He also understands in metals, I think and he worked as an engineer for Boeing for many years. I wrote to Jack twice using the email supplied on his webpage but never got reply, too.
The only person who actually replied was Dr. Alexander Imich. I wrote about Dr. Imich twice here, in the articles An unusual voice mail and Dr. Alexander Imich is in financial need. I also mentioned him as one of the people reseraching Magola in my original article on the Magnetic Man. Dr. Imich is now almost 105 years old but he is still active in the world of parapsychology. So, I talked to him over the phone and he asked me to write him an email which I did. His reply was as follows:
Some years back, during an informal demonstration, I have seen various objects – metallic and non-metal – weighing probably up to 1 kg, sticking to palms and/or to the front of Miroslaw Magola’s head, and lifted by him this way from the floor.
To my knowledge, this is rather a rare human capacity of paranormal nature. Described for the first time in Russia and exhibited by Miroslaw Magola.
Alexander Imich PhD., President
Anomalous Phenomena Research Center
In another interview of Dr. Imich (July 2005) he is also asked of Magola and answers the following:
Miroslaw Magola is a Polish citizen living in Germany. Together with Dr. Barbara Koopman, we have observed a phenomena first described in Russia. Various metallic and non-metallic implements, some weighing more than a pound, sticking to his skin. Not many people are producing this, ostensibly paranormal phenomenon that, in the very inadequate parapsychological nomenclature, has to be classified as psychokinetic.
So at least there seems to be some credibility to his claims although I don’t know of any real scientific papers that were published about Mr. Magola. Neither does he know.
Miroslaw was also kind enough to send me a lot of high-quality photographs of himself. He mailed me several dozens Megabytes of photographs and other material. He was also kind enough to email me scanned pages of the interview with him in the “mysteries-magazin”. The magazine is in German and I don’t understand German that much. If anyone who understands German is willing to translate parts of all of the interview from the journal I’ll be happy to email him the pages and publish it here (if copyright allows). You’ll see some of the photographs he’s sent me below the interview.
And now to the interview itself. I allowed myself to edit his answers a bit for spelling and punctuation for the best of my ability.
Could you please describe your ability to attach objects to yourself, is it only about metal objects?
My ability is like a „magnetic power“ ( not in the physical sense ). It is holding – but of course – without glue, adhesive-tape or similar things. The ability works to all materials : metal, plastic, wood, ceramic. See link http://www.magola.com/English/welcome.html
When and how have you developed this ability in yourself? How long did it take?
Today is another interview, this time with Laura Bruno. Laura Bruno is a Life Coach, Medical Intuitive, Animal Communicator and Reiki Master Teacher. She has lived and taught across the U.S. and now resides in Sedona, Arizona, where she enjoys the beauty with her husband Stephen, a photographer. Laura offers classes and phone consultations and writes fiction in her spare time. In addition to over twenty articles on natural healing, Laura also authored the soon-to-be-released eBook, . You can visit her website at www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com.
Could you please tell the story of discovering your intuitive abilities.
I grew up as an empath (meaning I could feel other people’s physical and emotional pain), but I had no context for that “gift.” Everyone called me over-sensitive, and I learned to view intuition as something inconvenient, weird or shameful. Despite efforts to suppress it, people still sensed my ability. While I earned a Masters in English at University of Chicago, strangers often approached me for health or life path advice, which I quietly gave. To my embarrassment, these same strangers later hugged me in front of my friends, thanking me for the insights. Secretly, I felt led to a more spiritual career than academia, but I resisted.
Instead, I chose the corporate world. My first sales job required twenty-five cold calls per day. Twenty-five cold calls supposedly equaled seven call-backs, which translated to three sales appointments, which became one sale, which (funneled throughout the month) equaled or exceeded quota. I hated viewing conversations as statistics—not to mention all the “no soliciting” jabs. But I couldn’t live on my base salary: I needed to hit quota. Desperate, I started praying. Before each cold call I would silently ask, “Let them see your Light in me and, please, give me the right words to say.” Instead of kicking me out, business folks suddenly welcomed me as a long lost friend! Yet after seven cold calls, I still needed a vanilla milkshake and a two-hour nap. I requested extra guidance: “Please, take me to the right places today. Then, let me radiate your Light and use your words.” With my terrible sense of direction, I developed an uncanny knack for getting “lost” exactly where and when someone needed exactly what I had to sell. I continued to make or exceed quota each month, averaging about two cold calls per day.
This effective prayer only intensified that nudge toward spiritual work. One day I “accidentally” cold called a nun and she took my hands: “Child, you have such Sweetness in you! You will go far when you embrace your gifts.” Disturbed, I reapplied to doctoral programs, vowing to teach a Literature and Spirituality class. I found a cushy sales job with established accounts—no more cold calling nuns! Then I prayed, “If academia’s not my path, don’t let me do it. Otherwise, I’m going!” The scholarships and stipends flooded in: “Wow!” I thought, “That was easy! Here I expected some big, dramatic thing. One course on Literature and Spirituality? Guess I’m not so intuitive after all …”
But on May 19, 1998 (three months before I planned to start fully funded doctoral studies in English Literature) an on-the-job car accident destroyed the life I knew. A brain injury shut down my rational side for years. I suffered visual impairments leaving me unable to read longer than five minutes per day. Florescent lights caused migraines, dizziness and disorientation, and my short term memory all but disappeared. Without my rational mind, intuition suddenly unleashed itself. Carefully developed filters no longer worked. I suddenly “knew” someone had a thyroid problem or emotional blocks leading to cancer. Even worse, I’d get the insistent urge to tell them and if I didn’t, my head pounded louder than usual. The more I resisted, the stronger the migraines became until finally I contacted each person and shared my insights. Then the pain subsided. Medical tests and conversations continued to confirm my intuition, but it took a long time for me to feel comfortable sharing information—even under duress.
Summer 1999, I spent eight weeks in Seattle in a final push to attend graduate school. (Yep, I’m stubborn, and Northwestern let me defer enrollment for a year.) One day, my holistic vision and brain injury specialist said, “If grad school doesn’t pan out, come back to Seattle. I’m old and I need to give my practice to someone.” “OK, where did that come from?” I asked. “I’m an English major!” He explained that he and his assistant had noticed “the next three patients after” me “always made amazing progress.” “Great,” I said, “What’s that got to do with me?” He answered, “For weeks we’ve purposely mixed things up and no matter which three patients follow you, they always make amazing progress. You leave an energy residue in the room that lasts at least three hours. Seriously, if grad school doesn’t pan out, come back and work with me.”
Well, graduate school didn’t pan out. My head imploded under florescent lights and if I ever managed to read, I immediately forgot the content. Meanwhile, my intuition and energy continued to grow. In August 2001, I returned to Seattle for more treatment. That specialist eventually hired me as his Medical Intuitive Consultant—my first job after brain injury. With no other career options and a strong sense of Fate, I started to embrace my healing gifts instead of running from them. I opened my own business and made a full recovery. Now, I love my intuition, and I love that it helps so many people heal and find their path!
You are a Reiki Master teacher. What do you find Reiki helpful for?
Reiki translates to “universal life force energy” or “divinely directed healing energy.” As such, people find Reiki helpful for all kinds of things! In the last 10 years, many hospices and hospitals (including the esteemed California Pacific Medical Center, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, St. Luke’s Hospital in Pennsylvania, and Tucson Medical Center in Arizona) have valued volunteer or paid Reiki practitioners alongside their cancer programs because patients report vastly decreased pain and fear, and increased peace, positive attitude and relaxation.
Personally, I’ve found that Reiki works well for headaches, stomach pain, and insomnia. When I first learned Reiki, I was still recovering from my brain injury. Daily self-treatments and a number of “healing attunements” allowed me to wean myself completely from pharmaceutical migraine pills. I also find Reiki useful for empowering goals, because the energy just flows through situations and events. Hallmarks of Reiki include increased serendipity and a bubbling sense of joy.
Describe some of the more interesting cases from your practice, where Reiki was helpful.
Today I’m proud to present my interview with medium Marcel Cairo. I’ve known Marcel for several months now through his active involvement in the internet community on the topics of mediumship and skepticism. Marcel also hosted an internet radio show called AfterLifeFM.
As a disclaimer I must say that several months ago Marcel performed a short reading for me over the phone. In this reading Marcel had a hard time of establishing a confirmation for the spirit that appeared to him. After we dropped this and focused on the message instead, I found it to be more to the point about what was going on in my life. So, although I wouldn’t consider this reading as overly successful from my point of view, I’ve heard positive testimonials from Alex Tsakiris and Science is a method, not a position blogger, Matthew. Of course, one or even three testimonials can’t substitute for controlled testing, but they do give you a small window into the type of work Marcel does, and so hopefully will this interview..
I hope this interview will give you a better look into Marcel’s character and plans for the future of his shows.
Good day, Marcel. I want to concentrate on three things in this interview, if you don’t mind. One is your own mediumship. Second is your radio/podcasts on the internet (AfterlifeFM) and third the interaction between skeptics and mediums and what can be done about this. Is this OK?
Please tell what being a medium means to you? What kind of a medium are you?
Good question. Most people assume that you become a medium because you somehow are driven or asked to help others. For me, choosing to be a medium is primarily an attempt for me to understand myself in a deeper and more profound way, and somehow elevate my own personal struggles beyond my own ego… if that makes any sense.
To answer the second part, I am an evolving medium. At this point in my life, I would like to be the equivalent of what Richard Wiseman is to social psychology… a spokesperson and a researcher. I am far from this dream, but I am projecting that at least to myself.
So, have you learned this skill or did it just “appear” in your life?
Being a father of two amazing little imaginations, you learn not to make these type of distinctions. Where does creativity really come from? What is the origin of curiosity? I don’t know, but observing my kids, I see how little conscious control we have over becoming ourselves. I can remember as a child just being in touch with this incredible source of creativity and inspiration that was a playground for whatever it was or is that I am to become. More importantly, I was never discouraged or criticized as a child. I just played. To me, this freedom was and is everything.
But being a medium is not just “curiosity”. I am, too, curious about this subject yet this doesn’t make me a medium.
You’re right and you are wrong. There is no way you can become a really good medium without curiosity. Curiosity is a cousin to trust. Curiosity allows you to peek into the dark room knowing that there is a chance you may get swallowed up. Somewhere on the path, I met a traveling angel. I feel that I was hand picked to be mentored. Not because I was gifted in anyway, but because I exhibited a willingness to struggle in my curiosity.
My mother is really the key to everything. If anyone can claim any credit to nurturing this skill in me, she is the one who wins the trophy. She is a doctor and a great mind. Though I often disagree with her conclusions, she embodied what the scientific method and the skeptical mind should be – open observers and willing participants in the quest for truth.
My mom created an environment in my house which many family and neighbors criticized – a circus of geniuses and freaks constantly streaming in and out of my house.
Some of those people would sit around the dinner table talking about consciousness, magic numbers, UFO’s, Atlantis, spiritual contact, etc… I wanted to be like these people… aware of mysteries.
My curiosity and desire, magnified by my environment, unleashed a flood of spiritual contact that almost drove me mad as a 9 year old child.
How does mediumship affect your own life? Whether and how do you use these abilities for you own good?