The Nightshirt Sightings, Portents, Forebodings, Suspicions

Psi’s Big Guns: Sleep Paralysis and Astral Time Travel

Jacek Malczewski - Meduza

A year ago I wrote at length about out-of-body experiences (OOBEs) in the context of alchemy and the hermetic tradition. I confessed that I was a fence-sitter on the question of what they are—lucid dreams that just feel more real than most (i.e., corresponding to real physical environments) or actually what they feel like, some kind of dislocation of consciousness from the physical body in a “subtle” state. The latter is the doctrine and assumption of the Theosophical tradition and its modern heirs, including Robert Monroe and numerous other writers: Consciousness really leaves the body, they say, in some kind of etheric or astral envelope composed of a “fine” substance in between matter and energy. It’s a belief with ancient roots in Egyptian and Greek mysticism and European folklore, in the form of the detachable feminine spirit double.

baSubsequent experiences have deepened my perplexity and raised further doubts for me about whether they really represent a detachment from the physical body. I have been led to think more about their connection to my favorite topic, precognition, as well as to psychokinesis (PK).

I have been particularly scratching my head over an OOBE I had a year and a half ago and that received “confirmation” of its veridicality almost exactly a year later, last August. It is thus far my only deliberately induced OOBE … and maddeningly, it opens itself up to multiple interpretations. Superficially, it does seem to confirm the “precognitive hypothesis” that I have been advancing in these posts. But it would be easy to read it in standard Jungian terms too, and in fact none of the readings can fully encompass the strangeness. It also has a possible mind-over-matter dimension.

It feels like a good opportunity to solicit the opinions and insight of my readers—crowdsourcing a “read” on my experience. So … readers, have at it!

The Backstory

I had been studying the literature on astral projection for the better part of a year by the time I achieved my first success at intentionally inducing one in late August, 2014. My favorite book on the subject is Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington’s 1929 classic The Projection of the Astral Body, an excellent collaboration between a frequent experiencer (Muldoon) and a psychical researcher (Carrington) who was able to put the young man’s numerous astral adventures in a theoretical and scientific context. (There are other fruitful collaborations between practitioners and theorists in the paranormal studies, the latest being Whitley Strieber’s collaboration with Jeffrey Kripal, The Super Normal, which I hope to discuss in a future post.) Other fascinating books have been written on the subject, particularly from the early and mid 20th Century. A few modern guides are also useful: I find Robert Bruce’s updated Theosophical metaphysics a bit iffy, but his guidebooks like Astral Dynamics have a lot of original and effective tips and tricks that show he knows what he is talking about from a practical point of view.

Precognition’s lack of familiar context would be the basis for the “uncanny” or “unhomely” that has always been associated with the paranormal: The future is the one source of information that really has no “home” for us.

My success in August 2014 was not my first OOBE—I had had one spontaneously 16 years earlier, before I was really even aware of the concept, although I did record it in detail in my dream journal (more on it below). I also had at least two OOBEs in my late teens or early twenties that were unfortunately unrecorded and I think were less detailed—just (amazingly and bafflingly) flying around the ceiling in my bedroom. Bruce would say, however, that we’re having these experiences nightly but just don’t remember them—and I think he’s probably correct.

Although I’ve consciously logged only a minute or two total of astral flight time in my life, I am no stranger to sleep paralysis, the universal precursor to OOBEs. I experienced sleep paralysis episodes frequently (and terrifyingly) as a young adult and periodically over the years since. My year of attempts at bringing on an OOBE produced several such episodes and also, on a couple occasions, pleasurable energetic or even “Kundalini”-type sensations traversing my body. Those alone confirmed that the guidebooks were not leading me astray. Typically these experiences led into standard lucid dreams, often in astonishing environments but without any veridical content that I could detect afterwards.

oobeThere is clearly something special about the OOBE state, and about sleep paralysis as its doorway; all the sources concur on the latter. The universally fearful aspects of sleep paralysis, or what used to be called “astral catalepsy,” only abate with experience and especially with reading experience, the ability to say “OK this is just sleep paralysis and nothing is really going to harm me.” The fear becomes a doorway to be pushed through, either into a lucid dream or, evidently when the stars align just right, something more.

A Heavy Cat

My OOBE in August 2014 was preceded by a sleep paralysis episode, but it did not follow the typical pattern. Usually in such episodes it seems very much like my eyes are open (even though they usually really aren’t) and I am in my bed or the couch, or wherever I have fallen asleep, and cannot move. In this case, although I was in fact in bed, “I awoke” to find myself (or at least, my point of view) fixed down near the floor in a small closet next to the bedroom where my wife and I keep our vitamins, medicine, and miscellaneous toiletries, and where my wife stows several pairs of shoes. My gaze was facing a bunch of those shoes, of all things, and I felt I was being weighed down by a heavy cat that was on my back and that I could not see. I could not move or do anything, but felt initially immense fear that only gradually abated.

Jacek Malczewski - Poet & ChimeraFeeling like you’re being weighed down by an unseen presence is very typical in sleep paralysis experiences—in some cultures, there is the belief that an “old hag” is sitting on your chest—but I had never actually interpreted my immobility as being “sat on” before, and never by a cat. It also felt like this weird and undignified situation was summoning some scary ESP power, some dark energy; I wrote in my journal afterward that it felt like the “other side” or like “black magic to complement my white, Zen practice.” I will come back to this weird and scary little prelude to the main show later. Actually, while I thought it was a prelude, it turned out to have much more significance in hindsight.

The sleep paralysis phase abated, replaced by what I considered to be the OOBE proper: I suddenly was hovering, very lucidly and clearly, without fear, up near the ceiling of my study, about ten or twelve feet down the hall from the medicine closet. The scene was totally realistic: It was dark, only illuminated by the streetlights outside, and I was gazing down over my desk through the window, past some tree branches, at the cars parked on the quiet street below. I was immediately aware that this was what I had been attempting for months—an actual full-on OOBE—and I felt jubilant. Following the instructions of Robert Bruce, I “kept my flight short” to ensure remembering it after I awoke, and thus turned and started to “fly” back toward the bedroom. As I turned away from the window, the visual experience faded and froze, almost like a glitchy videotape coming to an end (a strange peculiarity I have also noted when waking from lucid dreams) and then my wife shook me awake because, she said, I was “snorting” loudly.

That detail of “snorting” is significant, because my last, spontaneous OOBE, in 1998, also ended with my then-wife awakening me because I was, as she said (and as I recorded in my journal), “snorting like a pig.”

The 1998 OOBE too—although I did not at the time really know about OOBEs and just thought it was a strange nightmare—was set in the study of the house I then lived in in Atlanta. In that experience, I or my “astral body” was “sitting” in front of the study window, at night, able to see the trees outside, and I was holding in my left and right hand respectively a red and a white grease pencil. Somehow because I knew it would summon a dark, sorcerous power, I touched (I think) the tip of the white pencil to the tip of the red one, which seemingly caused an energetic short circuit that opened up a doorway to some kind of malevolent, possessing presence. The vibrations of it terrified me and that is what woke me up. The detail of the grease pencils (albeit not their terrible power to summon dark forces) was correct: I did have such grease pencils on or near my desk. In hindsight, this was clearly also an OOBE, as every other detail was totally realistic, which never occurs with standard dreams or even lucid dreams.

dalispellboundOn the more recent astral trip into my study in 2014, just one detail seemed odd: Outside the window, somehow hovering in empty space between the window and the cars below, were two green points of light, right together, almost like eyes but stacked vertically or at an angle. I immediately had the sense of being watched by some kind of surveillance camera, but could see no box or device the lights were attached to. I thought there was a slightly ominous quality to these lights, almost like something disembodied and alien peering in at me. On waking, I recorded this feeling, along with a description of the whole experience, in my journal, and noted that the green lights cast a shadow of doubt over the veridicality of the experience, because they did not correspond to anything that was there in reality. The next night I looked out the window at the cars on the street to see if there was some dashboard light that I could have misinterpreted, or some electrical box affixed to a light pole or the tree, but saw nothing of the sort.

So, while excited to have finally achieved success at deliberate “astral projection,” and intrigued by the similarities to my experience in 1998, it didn’t answer any questions in my mind. It certainly “felt” real, felt like my consciousness had separated from my body and I was hovering in my study, but there was no way to prove this to myself, and the detail of those green lights lent a slightly dreamlike quality to the otherwise realistic scene. As for the prelude, the sleep paralysis episode-slash-lucid dream “set” in the medicine closet, I interpreted that as merely symbolic of the fact that, just before bed, I had consumed a cocktail of over-the-counter nootropic supplements that I frequently took to aid in bringing on lucid dreams. I thought no more of that part, because it didn’t seem significant at the time.

The true significance of this episode did not become apparent until a year—almost to the day—after the fact.

Astral Eyes

One night in late August, 2015, I found myself standing on a chair in my study, changing the light bulb in the late evening. I happened to look down toward the window, over my desk, and saw … a double green light. It was a reflection of my laptop power cord, which has a diode that glows green when plugged into the computer and charging. The reflection would have been invisible from any lower angle; it was doubled because of the double panes of glass. My point of view, high up on the chair, was identical to where my “astral eyes” had been positioned a year before in my OOBE.

magrittepleasureprincipleThis was stunning: I immediately recognized this as “verification” of my OOBE. I had to check my journal to find the date, and was stunned, again, at the fact that it was just three days shy of a year since that experience.

But immediately I also knew that there was a second possible interpretation: Was this really a confirmation of an OOBE or was the OOBE in fact “just” a precognitive experience of standing on a chair in my study and looking down at the green diodes reflected in my study window? If I had been a worthy paranormal researcher, of course, I might have photographed the scene initially after the OOBE, and that would have been able to confirm whether my laptop was charging on my desk that night a year earlier, potentially clearing up the ambiguity. Of course, no such luck—it never would have occurred to me.

Out of parsimony, but also admittedly partly because of vanity (I like my precognition hypothesis), I opted to side with what I consider to be the simpler of the two interpretations: The OOBE was indeed purely a vivid precognitive experience, not an actual journey out of my body. It raised the question for me whether many reportedly veridical OOBEs and near-death experiences are not in fact vivid (but misinterpreted) precognitive dreams of a later “scene of confirmation” in which the person happens to duplicate in real life the physical situation or scenario in the dream—perhaps precisely in the process of confirming their experience (in other words, the time-loop feedback effect I have discussed in several articles). Even with the 1998 case in Atlanta, I remember sitting down at my desk the next day and idly touching two grease pencils together, mimicking what I’d done in the dream, just out of curiosity … so that “OOBE” also could be interpreted in these terms.

Astral travel, in other words, seems to me more likely a form of time travel, not space travel.

But there are more layers to the weirdness, which add to its ambiguity.

A Very Bad Weekend

The weekend in 2015 when I happened to be changing the light bulb in my study was an emotionally very eventful one for my wife and me. A couple days previous, I had groggily awoken in the night to pop a couple of Advil, which we keep in the aforementioned closet down the hall from the study. In the process, I dropped one, and then couldn’t locate it amid my wife’s shoes.

I became increasingly desperate to find the pill, because one of my two cats will eat anything she finds, including medicines. She has done so before, resulting in expensive calls to the poison hotline. Unfortunately, she was indeed hanging out right behind the open door to the closet, and since I couldn’t locate the Advil in the closet, my immediate thought was that it had gone under the door and my cat had promptly swallowed it. A quick trip to my computer in the study, googling “advil” and “cats” confirmed that the former is poisonous to the latter. Increasingly frantic, I searched every inch of carpet in the hall outside the closet, but finally gave up.

Jacek Malczewski - Pokusa FortunyLong story short, I threw on some clothes and drove her to the 24-hour veterinary hospital and they admitted her. Unable to get her to vomit anything up, they put her on IV fluids to flush her system and try and prevent kidney or liver failure if she had indeed swallowed the pain reliever. The next two days, her condition was stable, but on her second night in the hospital, she had multiple life-threatening seizures. My wife and I were miserable—especially I was miserable, because I thought my carelessness had put my beloved cat’s life in jeopardy and she was now having to stay in a bedlam-like vet hospital with a lot of other screaming cats and dogs. Not to mention the fact that this fiasco was hemorrhaging our savings.

Here’s the thing: On the Monday morning I spoke to the vet and learned of our cat’s seizures and their decision that she couldn’t yet be discharged, I had a funny feeling about that Advil. It prompted me to return to the medicine closet and look one more time for the missing pill.

You guessed it. Unbelievably, there it was: not on the floor or in any one of my wife’s shoes, as it should have been, but sitting up on a narrow black binder or case standing against the wall of the closet. Its position made it look like a button on the case itself, and thus it would have been easy to overlook in my nocturnal panic two nights earlier. Somehow, it had bounced, probably off my shirt, and landed in a nearly impossible spot.

My first thought, I’m ashamed to say, was “Just don’t tell anyone.” Really, I felt bad enough already, and now it was clear that my cat had been hospitalized for nothing, and I felt like a fool. That thought passed in seconds, and I called the vet and told her frantically that I had found the Advil. The vet was silent for a second—she possibly thought I was crazy—and calmly reiterated that my cat would need to remain in the hospital and be monitored at least for another day, as she had had seizures. If she hadn’t actually swallowed something, then it meant she would need to go on anti-seizure drugs as she was clearly epileptic.

We brought our cat home the next day, I defied the various doctors and tapered her off the anti-seizure pills, and she’s been fine ever since. I don’t know what happened to her at the vet hospital, and I hope my carelessness with over-the-counter drugs never again results in such an awful and (for me) expensive misadventure.

It wasn’t until a few months later that the Advil episode and its possible connection to my sleep paralysis episode a year before dawned on me. Like I said, that part had been overshadowed by my successful OOBE, and I had written the “closet sleep paralysis” off as a prelude, “symbolic” of my having taken some supplements beforehand. But in hindsight, it proved to be the more significant of the experiences that night. Thank goodness for dated journals. I had clearly—there is no way of avoiding this interpretation—precognized the Advil affair: In the sleep-paralysis episode, my head was down by the floor, looking at my wife’s shoes, which is exactly what I did in fact do a year later, on the night I dropped the pain reliever. Moreover I had felt like “a heavy cat” was weighing me down; the cat in question, as it happens, is a bit plump (unlike our other cat). Feeling “weighed down” by her would certainly also correspond both to my anxiety over her possibly having eaten the pill and to my guilt that my negligence resulted in her miserable and seizure-inducing hospital stay.

That this part of the experience was clearly, unmistakeably precognitive supported the precognitive interpretation of the OOBE too. Other dream/visions in the context of sleep paralysis have confirmed for me quite strongly that sleep paralysis is a powerfully precognitive state. The terrifying mood or sense of an evil presence must be dissociated from the actual content of what you are seeing, doing, or trying to do in the dream. (Another more recent sleep paralysis experience also proved precisely veridical, although of a situation about 30 seconds after the dream, not a full year.)

Apports

After working with dream precognition for a few years, the precognitive nature of sleep paralysis and OOBEs surprises me not at all. But additional details lend this episode—or these linked episodes—a further paranormal twist, specifically opening the door to a topic I have avoided so far on this blog because my knowledge of the literature is admittedly much more limited. In my focus on precognition over the past couple years, I have mostly put off dealing with psychokinesis or PK phenomena, including poltergeist phenomena as a subset of those. But there may be a PK dimension to this “OOBE.”

The terror/feeling of “evil” in sleep paralysis phenomena may be the sleeping brain’s erroneous attempt to interpret information arriving from the future.

The shelves in my study contain numerous crystals and other rocks, not because I attach conventional mystical significance to them but simply because I like them and can’t help buying interesting items at rock shops whenever I return home to Colorado. A month before my OOBE, I had purchased a small slab of specularite (AKA specular hematite) in Estes Park, CO, and set it on a bookshelf in my study. Two days after the OOBE, I happened to discover that it had a crack running through it. I asked my wife about this, and she explained she had actually found it one morning on the floor at the base of the bookshelf, where it had evidently fallen in the night. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember exactly which morning it was, but it had to be either the morning after my OOBE or the subsequent morning.

The only non-paranormal way that slab of specularite could have fallen on the floor is if one of my cats had knocked it off. But my mind obviously went to the stranger possibility that perhaps my “astral body” had dislocated it, perhaps when I whirled around to head back to the bedroom in my hurry to record my successful deliberate OOBE. I would have “flown” right past it on my journey. But of course, not knowing for sure which night it had fallen, I was again unable to come to any firm conclusions. But if my OOBE was “really” a vivid precognitive experience, as I later came to believe and as the more unmistakably precognitive experience with the Advil affirmed, then any involvement of the specularite at the time of the OOBE would be senseless. Right?

But … there is also the Advil itself, almost a year to the day later. Although I’m a PK believer, my skeptical side kicks in big time around certain phenomena such as “apports,” or objects that mysteriously just appear or change their location, as though teleported. Yet I am forced to admit, the mysteriously disappearing-and-reappearing Advil is awfully suggestive as an apport. I would like to think I just didn’t see it when I searched among my wife’s shoes, where I thought it must have landed (according to all laws of physics I know). Instead it landed somehow on a the spine of a narrow nylon binder, exactly in the middle, where it could easily look like a button or rivet.*

Or else, it vanished completely when I dropped it and it reappeared on that binder two days later. As with the specularite, there is no way to know for certain.

“Come play with us, Danny”

Here’s where the final baffling piece of this mystery comes in. I don’t even want to admit this part, because it points exactly to the Jungian stuff I keep doing my best to challenge on this blog. But here goes.

jacktorrance2On the weekend in question, while my cat was in the hospital and the day before I found the Advil I had wrongly thought she had swallowed, my wife and I had some good friends over to watch The Shining. My friend is an astrologer and writer, and since both our wives were pregnant, we thought it would be fun to watch this movie about the supernatural horrors of writing and fatherhood.

It’s one of my favorite films, and I’ve always been struck by Kubrick’s sophistication around the topic of the paranormal and possession. The most interesting scene, I think, is Jack Torrance’s terrible nightmare, from which Wendy has to rouse him. In the dream, he says, he was attacking and trying to kill their boy, Danny, and then her. Just then, Danny, in a kind of fugue or daze, his sweater ripped, wanders into the room where Wendy is consoling Jack. Wendy rushes to him, sees bruises on his neck, and then blames the bewildered Jack for attacking him. Later it turns out that the mysterious woman in room 237 had attacked the boy—presumably, exactly during the time Jack was having his dream.

Whether deliberately or not, this scene reflects the European folkloric belief I discussed in my earlier post: that our feminine spirit double can detach from our body when sleeping and perform actions and even make mischief on our behalf. Implicitly, it is Jack’s spirit double (the “old hag” in room 237) that attacked Danny, unbeknownst to either of them. Yet at the same time, Jack’s dream is also precognitive of what he will attempt to do to his family later in the film.

The detail that I uncannily keyed in on during this viewing was what immediately precedes this scene: Danny is playing on the carpet in the hallway, when from nowhere a tennis ball rolls toward him. It seems to come from room 237, the door of which is ajar, inviting him in. But the alert viewer will note that this is the same tennis ball that Jack hurled down the hall and out of sight days earlier, after working out his aggression by tossing it against the wall in the Overlook hotel lobby. In other words, it’s an apport. I had been thinking of this scene the next morning, and it is partly what prompted me to go look for the Advil again. The pill seemed to duplicate that tennis ball: disappearing and then reappearing, significantly.

shiningtennisballOur decision to watch The Shining that weekend was not spontaneous—we had prearranged this movie date weeks in advance—thus I cannot chalk it up to a “precognitive inspiration” on my part. The connection between the movie and the real-life emotional events of that weekend felt unmistakeably synchronistic in the standard, Jungian way. I’ve discussed synchronicities with my friend on several occasions and he would certainly have felt comfortable with the Jungian reading, whereas I think these experiences reflect misdiagnosed precognition—but admittedly, this one strained such an account. Even if I had indeed simply missed the Advil the first time, we could just say it was the tennis ball in the movie that inspired me to take a second look … but in that case, still, the fact that I had overlooked the pill days earlier again links weirdly to the movie.

And then there’s the specularite. I had purchased it on one of my regular visits to the Ore Cart Rock Shop in Estes Park, CO, about a half mile from the Stanley Hotel, which inspired the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

The Uncanny

I am left with many questions, obviously. Was the Advil an apport or did I just miss it on my first look? What about the specularite—did it just fall from the shelf or was it pushed … by a clumsy cat, or by my clumsy astral foot as I excitedly whirled around to head back to my sleeping body? Why do I always snort like a pig when waking from these experiences?** Does sleep apnea (which I do suffer from) help elicit them?

sleepparalysisWhat about the “fat cat” weighing me down in the context of summoning evil power; was this just a sort of symbolic elaboration of my future guilt at putting my cat unnecessarily in the hospital because of a stray pain reliever, or was there a more precise significance: Was it actually my cat’s “spirit double” attacking me in the past (in pre-taliation, you might say, for putting her in the hospital), sort of the way Jack’s feminine spirit double attacks his son?

What does not seem to be in doubt is the precognitive nature of these experiences. Whatever else is going on, the sleep paralysis episode was like countless other precognitive dreams I have experienced, except it was unusually vivid visually and its target was a full year in the future, not a day or two as is typically the case. It also targeted a more emotionally vivid episode in my life. If the target episode was specifically my finding of the Advil (versus my frantic search for it two nights earlier), then there was a distinct emotional trope or turning, a gradient from frustration to relief (but overlaid with other complex emotions), which is nearly always the case with precognitive dreams: They seem to be about not just strong emotions, but strong emotional turnings (usually, frustration or guilt to relief or excitement, or vice versa).

Jacek Malczewski - MelancholiaThis experience left me with the suspicion that sleep paralysis and OOBEs are the “big guns” of precognitive dream phenomena. If most precognitive dreams about the sink backing up, the smoke alarm going off, or some piece of news on Twitter the next morning are like little insignificant Derringers, a sleep paralysis episode or a full-on OOBE is like a Howitzer, with much longer range and relating to events with bigger emotional impact. That the most gifted psychics (Pat Price, Joe McMoneagle, etc.) have traced their abilities to facility with OOBEs is no accident.

I think there is something important about the terror/feeling of “evil” in sleep paralysis phenomena: I suspect it may be the sleeping brain’s erroneous attempt to interpret information arriving from the future. Such information would lack the context and reassuring signal of past-ness and familiarity that our memories carry with them. Their lack of familiar context would be the basis for the “uncanny” or “unhomely” that has always been associated with the paranormal: The future is the one source of information that really has no “home” for us—it lacks any place in our life experience because it hasn’t happened yet. The semi-awake or sleeping brain may naturally interpret this real unfamiliarity as an evil or sinister presence. (The association of sleep-paralysis-type experiences and undeniable precognition in Whitley Strieber’s massively documented accounts of his experiences also leads me to this conclusion—more on this in a later post.)

Going forward, I am going to operate on the assumption that any feeling of fright/terror in a dream or similar experience may be a “tracer” or signal of incoming precognitive information. We’ll see where that leads.

NOTES:

* Oh yeah, one more odd, probably not significant detail: That black binder that the Advil magically landed on, at the side of the closet behind my wife’s shoes? It’s a binder that contains my wife’s extensive, near-complete collection of David Bowie CDs (including many rarities, imports, etc.). The entire past year, for both of us, was weirdly Bowie-themed, including some odd precognitive experiences around his death. (For instance he appeared to me in a dream a week before he died, staring significantly at me, like he was trying to tell me something, but he wouldn’t open his mouth.) Was Bowie’s spirit double somehow involved in relocating my Advil?

** After my 1998 OOBE, when I awoke in terror and “snorting like a pig,” my initial thought was that this episode reflected some attempt at spirit possession or witchcraft, possibly instigated by a healer/shaman I had met in Papua New Guinea several years before. The “pig” connection, and the possible symbolism of “grease” (the grease pencils) and the anthropologically significant idea of mixing red and white, blood and milk, somehow all pointed to this admittedly farfetched possibility of Melanesian sorcery. Pigs are a big, big deal in Papua New Guinea, and for mundane but personal reasons I’d rather not elaborate, I suspect I was not a particularly popular character in the village I’d stayed in for a few months.

Jacek Malczewski - W tumanie

About

I am a science writer and armchair Fortean based in Washington, DC. Write to me at eric.wargo [at] gmail.com.

17 Responses to “Psi’s Big Guns: Sleep Paralysis and Astral Time Travel”

  • Thanks for including your recommended readings on the subject of OOBE’s Eric.

    Having had quite a number of lucid dreams, some of which might have been OOBEs, this topic fascinates me. While I remain agnostic as to what is going on, I do wonder about the possibility that we’re somehow rending a veil of time and entering varying degrees of timeless perspectives. That would easily include having precognitive experiences, and in general experiencing any variety of smeary states of time.

    Perhaps too, one’s state of identity, or lack thereof, have an influence on moving from different perspectives of time or timelessness? I say this because it occurs to me that in a more ordinary dream state, I never question the waking world at all. My identity is less in tact, although upon waking I will easily apply my waking identity to the dream experience. In lucid dreams, and maybe this is one of the distinctive qualities, my identity between dreaming and waking states is very much intact. Just some thoughts here.

    I recently read a great book by a lifetime experiencer of OOBE’s and wonder if you have crossed paths with this guy. His name is Don deGracia and has a blog in which he offers all of his writings free as pdf downloads. His book on OOBE’s can be read or downloaded here: http://www.dondeg.com/metaphysics/do_obe.pdf The book is a great collection of OOBEs written by Don who has had a lot of experience with them. He also has done experiments to try to verify whether or not he could leave objects during an OOBE and find them in waking states.

  • Thanks, Debra. Personally, I very much suspect that most of what has been called “astral projection” in the past — when it doesn’t transpire in terrestrial environments — is really just lucid dreaming. I say “just” but lucid dreaming, or what the Buddhists call dream yoga, is phenomenal for self-exploration, and really fascinating and empowering. So even though my months of attempting OOBEs mostly “just” produced lucid dreams, I was not really disappointed.

    As for dreams rending the veil of time … interestingly, JRR Tolkien seems to have believed in such a possibility. He and CS Lewis and their Oxford buddies were fascinated by JW Dunne’s explorations in precognitive dreaming (in An Experiment With Time), and Tolkien started a novel (never finished) called The Notion Club Papers, about modern explorers using dreams as a doorway through time, to travel back in time to his kingdom of Numenor. Tolkien also did most of his writing in a dreamlike state of semi-trance, evidently. A true English shaman.

  • I was dreaming of being in a field with many people. There were small flying objects in the sky and a man was shouting a warning to whoever was launching them that they were too close to the people. Suddenly, I see one of these objects getting closer to me. It was dipping down in the sky towards us and landed right in front of me. It bounced up and I caught it. Exactly as I caught it, my alarm clock went off which woke me up.

    Upon waking, I immediately thought of the precog question. Did the dream end with me catching the object because the alarm went off, or did the dream time image of catching the object predict the alarm going off? Or? I don’t know.

  • Yes, this is a common type of experience, which dream researchers have always attributed to a memory distortion: the dreaming brain quickly concocts a story to explain the interruption in sleep, which it then “back dates” in time to before the stimulus. There are other phenomena in neurocognition that also apparently require a convoluted “back-dating” of our subjective timing of events in order for our experience to synchronize with reality (I’m thinking of Benjamin Libet’s fascinating discoveries), but I feel sure that precognition is going to solve all these issues.

  • A good post, Eric! You seem to be gradually expanding your scope – not only you discuss psychokinesis, but also mentions the possibility of a telepathy-type “distant influence” (your remarks about the possibility of being hexed by a tribal shaman).

    I suppose this is a positive influence of mine (and, to a lesser degree, of the participants of Skeptiko discussion thread). Or is such suggestion is a sign of my disproportionate pride and excessively high self-evaluation? 😉

    Anyway, I think that one who dwell into the anomalous and immerse oneself in the mystical, is bound to start treating seriously the “excluded middle” – the Third Way (or Mind, or whatever). What I mean is moving from monism through dualism to trinitarianism; toward a recognition of Convergence beyond Immanence and Transcendence; that is, of the Social as a third, transitory element beyond the Vital and the Cultural; a boundary zone between “objective” and “subjective”, serving as link between them.

    Let’s look at the “Boundary Violations” by Hakim Bey (Peter Lambourn Wilson), a mystical anarchist:

    http://www.gyw.com/hakimbey/bound.html

    I suppose this is a crucial characteristic of anomalous and spiritual – the violation of boundaries. The telepathy – or, more properly, teleconnection – is a violation of a “normal” social separation between individuals; a wider, psychically intensified form of interpersonal convergence (with precognition being a higher intrapersonal transcendence and psychokinesis being a deeper suprapersonal immanence). Since, as much as we build an artificial wall of “literary” and “artistic” discourse and distancing between ourselves and our semiotic creations, to prevent them acting magickally, we construct the illusive fence of etiquette and formalities to dampen and weaken our interconnection to the level of “proper” and “respectable” social organisiation.

    But, as any fence, this one may also be broken. The multiple participants of Ganzfeld telepathy experiments appear to have felt a glimpse of such possibility: being in an induced state of deep relaxation, with common social anxieties not working, they reported to experience the seeming conflation of their “stream of consciousness” with the one of the people who tried to send them a message from the distance. And veridical part of these experiments – the quantifiable guessing of a picture being sent – is in accordance with these subjective impressions…

  • Thanks, Vortex. Actually I hope this reflects a “narrowing,” rather than an expanding! (It is only by narrowing that our thought gains traction.) The shamanic hex interpretation was me circa 1998 — I’ve learned a lot since then. The universe is a far, far weirder place 🙂

    My every experience working with psi over the past few years, be it remote viewing, spontaneous telepathy experiences, synchronicities, etc., has revealed tracers showing these to be precognitive of the future moment of confirmation, not connections across space (or some kind of nonlocality). I think this is not only more realistic in terms of what cutting-edge physics is revealing to be possible but also, when you actually confront it, frankly more mind-bending than other interpretations … which is why I keep pushing people to just “check for themselves” (as the Buddhists say). If the psi path should do anything, it should radically warp our reality, and retrocausality/precognition is more efficacious as an intellectual high than rehashing old communications-technology and field metaphors. Those are “easy to think,” but I don’t think they explain much.

    How can anyone who feels like they are in telepathic contact with another person know they are not actually in contact with themselves in a future moment of actual, real-world contact with the other? I think the bridge to the other is the future, which is the only truly “occult” (/occulted) place (or hyperspace).

  • “How can anyone who feels like they are in telepathic contact with another person know they are not actually in contact with themselves in a future moment of actual, real-world contact with the other? I think the bridge to the other is the future, which is the only truly “occult” (/occulted) place (or hyperspace).”

    Eric, there is big difficulty for your interpretation: the distant connection is much more than just a subjective feeling. There is an abundance of objective physiological evidence that supports it.

    While I used this link in our Skeptiko forum discussion before, I will use it here again, since this data is critically important. I mean the Dean Radin’s “Selected Peer-Reviewed Psi Research Publications” page, the “Physiological correlations at a distance” section:

    http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm

    There is a lot of works which found a precise objective harmonisation between the physically observable functioning of the brains in people who were subjectively connecting with each other at the moment of the measurement. The level of demonstrated precision is strong enough to make the “synchronised precognition” hypothesis highly implausible. There seems to be an actual – not just perceived – distant connection.

    Another difficulty is not as strong and obvious as the correlative physiological evidence I have mentioned, but also important: the conditions of precognition/presentiment experiments are directly opposite to the conditions of Ganzfeld telepathy experiments.

    During the precognition experiments, highly emotional or erotic pictures are shown to the subjects in an ordinary psychological state to induce agitation and arousal in them, and let their reaction and tension become detectable before the picture itself is shown.

    To the contrary, telepathy experiments using Ganzfeld procedure are relaxation-centered: the subject must be put in a deeply tranquil and steady state of mind to ensure the success of the experimental procedure. The pictures used are also affectively and sexually neutral, not to break the relaxed mentality of the subject.

    It is unlikely that the very same phenomena would manifest under the opposite circumstances. I think, it is predictable that the former situation (specific, person-centered noise induction) is conductive for the intrasubjective precognitive insights, while the latter (general, “impersonal” noise reduction) is optimal for intersubjective telepathic linkage.

  • Eric, very interesting and thought provoking piece. Apologies for this long entry! Our 13 year old son Cameron died unexpectedly in his sleep in July of 2014. I’ve had a number of quite profound coincidental/Synchronistic experiences prior to and following his death many of which could fit your premonition hypothesis. 1) Just prior to his passing we were vacationing in Europe and I couldn’t shake a profound, persistent but very odd and unlikely sense that I was going to “bump into” someone I knew while walking the crowded streets of Paris and London. This caused me to constantly gaze around searching for a familiar face. I eventually resolved to just be “Zen” about it… if I bumped into someone- great, if not… oh well chalk it up to one of those “funny feelings”. In the weeks and months after Cameron died I found myself frequently distracted by a vivid, video tape like recollection of our vacation playing in the backg of my mind while engaged in something else. Whenever I became aware of this I would immediately focus on these vivid, episodic memories and search for my son. Frustratingly, since I had no control over my point of view, I rarely caught a glimpse of him because he was always walking at my side or slightly behind me. This persisted for quite some time and then it dawned on me- could the strong (and unlikely) sense of searching for someone I knew while walking the streets of Paris and London been the intrusion of my future self looking for my son? 2) On the day of my sons death I drove around to several work appointments and personal errands all the while listening to the entire CD “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison on my Ipod. (I am something of a Music Fanatic with a very eclectic collection of well over a thousand CD’s, most of which are ripped -lossless- to an Ipod in my car.) That I selected that Album, on that day, from the enormous array of other choices (including Satellite Radio) still stuns me- it could reasonably be considered one of the most “Spiritual” Classic Rock works of all time. Unbeknownst to me, my wife or my daughter Cameron had died in his sleep from an Asymptomatic, un-diagnosed Cardiomyopathy. He still lay in his bed well into the afternoon as we were all badly jet lagged having just returned from Europe. I could go on but those are two good examples.

    In reading your work I stumbled on this- “My question in this post is: Would revelation of extraterrestrials on earth be enough to bring a president to tears?”. I pondered this for a bit and then had a thought. Jimmy Carter is a man of strong Moral Character born of a pretty traditional(albeit liberal)Christian Faith. Whatever Carter saw, could those tears be due to the “revelation” challenging, shifting or profoundly re-defining his somewhat traditional Christian Belief? Lot’s of ways that could be true- 1)There are Extraterrestrials and thus intelligent life throughout the Universe. Man’s “special creation” status- not so true. 2) That Extraterrestrials are actually from another dimension thus completely challenging our normal space/time awareness and understanding of reality 3) That Extraterrestrials are more Intelligent/Advanced than us yet have no better understanding of cause/purpose to creation than we do. Many ways to play this thought experiment which could all bring a man of strong Moral Character/sense of shared humanity to tears of joy- or despair. I leave you as I continue on my lifelong quest for Spiritual, Metaphysical understanding; ever respectful of but outside traditional Religious belief, with a great love for Science but not “scientism”! Peace and Love to us ALL.

  • Thanks very much for commenting, Hugh. Your experience around your son’s death is very reminiscent of other premonitory phenomena that frequently surround family tragedies and losses. But also, the link with memory — experiencing your future self trying to search your memories of your trip as an uncanny or sought-for presence — fascinatingly links to so many things. Just off the top of my head, the “third man” factor made famous by TS Eliot in “The Waste Land” but based on the experience of some of Shackleton’s men, that there was an extra (actually fourth) member of their party. This phenomenon is reported often in extreme survival situations and traumas, and is usually interpreted as a guardian angel or Christ figure, but I think your interpretation is far more interesting and probably correct: It is being on the “receiving end” of a personal desperate memory search, which would make perfect sense given that reconstructing memories after trauma is so much a part of the working-through that occurs afterward. Traumas really bend psychic spacetime, creating time loops. It reminds me also of some experiences reported by Phil Dick — apparitions of presences as a child which made sense years later when he dreamed of those scenes and realized they were about him; he was in some sense “visiting himself.”

    As for President Carter, yes, who knows what the revelation could have been, but as a deeply Christian and spiritual person, his reaction is all the more intriguing.

    Cheers,
    Eric

  • Thanks, Vortex. I’ll look at the papers you recommend — the physiological correlations stuff is a literature I’m not up on, admittedly.

    Regarding the difference between presentiment and ganzfeld paradigms, that’s really a difference between psi information raising or not raising to conscious awareness. To become conscious of psi (of whatever type, regardless of the nature of the information) requires relaxed states I think, hence we’re only going to potentially be aware of it in trance, hypnagogia, or when reflecting on dreams. (My guess would be that presentiment data would be stronger when the subjects are relatively relaxed at baseline, although I don’t know that for a fact.)

  • I had a memorable and deeply affecting childhood nightmare where I was in a steep stadium-style movie theater. I was sliding down the aisle into the movie, which was of a roiling sea with a monstrous-looking whale. Recently I went to a discount showing of Jurassic World – only to realize midway through that a scene involving a Jurassic whale was, almost to a tee, exactly what I saw in my dream as a child. I thought about your musings of precognition and media. What was interesting to me was that the emotional center of this linked experience was in my childhood self. The “actual” adult experience of the scene I may have been anticipating as a child didn’t have much emotional impact (except for the link back to my emotional experience as a child).

  • Thanks for sharing this story, Reece. It’s very interesting. I saw the movie, and if I remember correctly the Sea World-style mosasaurus show is watched by the two boys. Were you, by any chance, the same age as either of those kids when you had your dream? Is there any way in which you see yourself in one of those characters?

    Eric

  • Hi Eric, this was a very thought-provoking and exciting read. I am also currently exloring OOBEs and my feeling tells me that astral projection is a literally out-of-body experience and not a cognitive state, and it occurs in a dimension where time is non-existent, it’s just information, all mixed up – past, present and future. In my so far only one successful at-will OOBE I exitted from a lucid dream into a past setting where I appeared in my room furnished as it used to be about 10 years ago. It was a short experience and I couldn’t explore the possibility of teleporting myself into a real-time moment above my physical body, but I have an inner assuredness that it would work exactly like that. I will definitely keep track of your posts and will also share with you anything useful that I might experience.

  • Thanks, Hope! Yes, OOBE’s are fascinating (and difficult) to explore. How long did yours take to achieve?
    Cheers,
    Eric

  • I have always been having flying lucid dreams, since childhood. This ability was somehow lost with lots of stress and routine adding up in life, and I also didn’t quite understand that this was something special and that not everyone actually experiences LDs. But at some point I lost a dear friend and it was a trigger for me to try and revive this ability of mine as well as explore astral projection. It took me about 2 months to achieve the WILD OOBE, my next target is to achieve OOBE from a fully awake state to compare the environments and the time aspect. Will share my findings regarding time in particular, if I find out anything substantial!

    Best,
    Hope

  • Good luck — let me know what you find! My first OOBE took the better part of a year. It’s not easy, although I suspect it might be easier the younger you are.

  • Thanks! I’m currently exploring how AP-aptness is related to Pythagorean psychomatrix. It’s interesting how I started working on raising my energy-levels and developing intuition (AKA third eye) without knowing that according to my psychomatrix these are my weaknesses. Some indicators on this matrix do relate to levels of lucidity in dreams, clairvoyance, intuition etc But certainly age and moreover the ‘experience baggage’ seem to affect OOBEability.