The Shared Diary of a Novice Paranormal Investigator, aged 52 and Three Quar

When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer.

(Stevie Wonder)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.


Ri fol ri fol tol de riddle dee.


Psychometry: up close and personal.

There can be no less appetising food than the traditional buffet.  Pork fat dyed pink and wrapped in greasy pastry.  The fatty remains of factory farmed chicken.  Woolly white bread with plastic cheese.  Cosy Local strikes again.    One quiz, one buffet and two hours after the meeting had begun, we were given opportunities to try some activities.

Today was psychic circuit training, with a different activity in each part of the room.  I began with psychometry.  We were told to work with a stranger and exchange a possession.  We had to take the object in the hand we did not write with, transfer it to the hand we wrote with, then try to sense something.  I made the exchange with a jovial bald chap.  Straight away, I blurted ‘Hot, hic’.  He was bemused.  ‘It is ‘hot’ and a hiccup or a sound like hic or ick.’ I said, having no idea why I was saying it.  ‘Well I do often feel hot, I’m a hot person,’ he mused, ‘but I don’t know what ‘hic’ means.’

Then it was his turn.  Rolling his fingers round my worn and somewhat misshapen wedding ring, he told me he could see a nice, clean bed in an attractive bedroom. Dream on.  At home, our untidy bedroom is inhabited by an ill-tempered cat with digestive ailments. 

We tried our watches next.  As soon as I held his, I said ‘itchy.’  He was very surprised.  He called out to his wife. ‘What’s that rash called that I got this morning?’  Men of a certain age do not take personal responsibility for their bodies; they have staff to do this for them.  His wife looked slightly irritated.  ‘Prickly heat.’ she said.  This was certainly one for the diary.  I had said ‘hot, hic, itchy’ to a man with prickly heat hidden beneath his shirt.  I have super powers!  Perhaps he does also.  Consider the images he saw.  From my little bits of experience so far, it seems to me that these nebulous extra senses feed into our image making, poetry forming selves.  They do not provide our carpet measuring, car driving commonsense selves with useful, factual information we can transfer straight on to an organised list.  Instead, fragments slip in via the imagination, clawing hold of whatever sound, shape or picture will represent some content to the thinking, speaking mind.  If I were holding a wedding ring, I think a pleasant, clean bedroom would be a fine symbol for a stable, long established partnership.   Of course, the tenuous, symbolic quality of information gathered in mysterious ways is precisely what makes it almost useless, which is possibly why humanity developed language as a more efficient communication system.

I next made the exchange with a very kindly lady.  We had been chatting earlier, and she had told me she suspected I had a Native American spirit guide.  I wondered if being aware of another person’s spirit guide was considered impolite in these circles, a bit like reading someone’s post.  The popularity of Native American spirit guides stems from spiritualism’s origins in nineteenth century USA, and the romantic view of the skilled hunter and tracker, able to guide the novice through the wilderness.  I did not want to mention this, for fear of seeming churlish.  

‘I still think you have a Native American guide,’ she frowned, concentrating.  This just felt wrong.  I could not think why spirits would waste time trying to guide people who were oblivious of their presence and who, what is more, ought to be grown up enough to cope on their own.  I still think it presumptuous to assume the living should be so served by the dead.
‘I don’t think I’m important enough to have a spirit guide.’ I replied.
She looked truly shocked.  ‘My dear!’  she said, ‘You are a spark of the Divine, of course you are important enough.’

To my horror, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.  Her kindness and reassurance had shifted something deep inside me.  I felt terribly vulnerable, and rather foolish.  I had no idea I was so needy.  ‘You should look for messages.’ She told me.  ‘Your spirit guide will leave you little signs and signals.  It might be the name of a book, or a piece of music and if you find a white feather, your guardian angel is close by.’  

From my ring, she had an impression of open spaces, and of trees in the garden.  Those were both appropriate images for me, but I guess they would also have fitted most people in some way.  Her next comments surprised me.  She related images of Africa.  ‘You are seeing my past.’ I told her.  She shook her head.  ‘Are there pyramids in your past?’ she asked.  I said there were not.  ‘I think that is your future.’ she said.  I do not have any plans to travel to Egypt.  I do wander, these days, chasing butterflies and drifting on the tide, but – Egypt?  Very unlikely, and not particularly attractive to me right now. 

Then it was my turn.  Again, words by-passed my brain to fall directly from my mouth.   ‘Water, blue.’ I said.  She told me she lived by a reservoir.  There was a bit more.  ‘A cute animal, but not a real one.  Something like a panda or a teddy bear.’  She said she had a toy Pooh Bear. 

So, there seems to be mileage in psychometry.  Glancing through a few websites, it did not take long before I had found several wonderful explanations of how it worked.  Everything has an aura, which we can learn to read.  Objects vibrate with the stories of their past.  We absorb information from the mind of the object’s owner.  Events of the past and the mind of the seer are simultaneously present in a hazy quantum otherworld.

None of that, of course, makes it very practical for us.  The slight snippets and flavours we sensed when exchanging property would not have helped us in the workaday world.  Psychometry would not make the trains run on time.  It did make us feel closer to each other, though.  In a few short minutes, I gained a small sense of the essence of those two people: a process normally requiring time and a good deal of tentative effort.  Similarly, I was at once both happy and alarmed to know they had been aware of me.  Letting down the guard to allow some human contact is a dangerous action when a person is among strangers, but sometimes it does feel good. 

If this capacity for sensing something of a person through their property has always been latent in all of us, it has certainly been suppressed.  Perhaps that is why it is usually bad manners to handle other people’s property, or to move into their personal space unless they are intimate friends.  I know I inhabit an exclusion zone almost a mile wide, and I once almost fainted with shock when a colleague picked up my handbag for me.  What if this is not just due to shyness?  Physical wariness might be a barrier our ancestors learned to erect in order to maintain some privacy, and it then became encultured to varying degrees in different societies.   It was obviously particularly important during my formative years.  I did not look directly at anyone until I was thirty -four.

After psychometry I proceeded to the next activity with a little confidence.  We were going to practise dowsing, and I knew something about that!  This activity was run by one of the leaders, a pleasant man I now knew to be addicted to peanuts.  He had put a row of three envelopes at one end of the table.  If you wanted to play, you had to run your hand over the envelopes and try to guess which one had a picture in it.  I guessed it was envelope ‘A’.  Saying the first thing to enter my mind had just been quite successful for me, and I had no other resources.  Next, Peanut Man put another three envelopes in front of me.  One of these had a corresponding picture, and I had to use rods to dowse for it.  He said I did not really need to use both rods, but I asked if I could.

‘Show me yes!’  I asked.  These rods were satisfyingly sturdy and they crossed beautifully for me.  I held them over envelope ‘A’.  ‘Is there a picture in this envelope now?’  I asked.  The rods crossed.  I tried the same with the other two envelopes and the rods did not cross.  I told PM I thought the picture was in ‘A’.  One look at his face told me I was wrong.  Oh, dear.  Back to the drawing board.  I guessed the rods had crossed at ‘A’ because I thought it was the answer.  The rods, I am informed, move in response to tiny muscle twitches in the hands holding them.  Having told myself the picture was in envelope A, I then twitchily told the rods as well.  The paranormal is a complicated place for the novice.  I asked Peanut Man what it was in the  picture.  ‘Casper,’ he said.  You cannot help but like Cosy Local, even when you fail in public.

I moved away so someone else could have a turn.  The final activity was, yet again, the fingers on the glass routine.  Our glass remained stubbornly uncommunicative.  I only mention this part of the evening because, a few minutes after I joined in, I thought a tall man was behind me and I glanced over my shoulder.  Towards the end, Peanut Man came up to see if anything was happening.  ‘You often pick up a man here,’ he said. ‘He stands over there, by the fireplace, but he doesn’t say much.’  I was, of course, just in front of the fireplace.  As usual, little, meaningless things happen...

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