Studies: Unexplained

06Oct

Stonehenge Facts

The most impressive of over a thousand stone monuments in Britain and North West Europe, Stonehenge is on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. Consisting of an inner horseshoe arrangement of stones surrounded by a circle of standing stones topped by horizontal lintels, some of the inner stones came from the Preseli Mountains in Wales. Others, at over twenty tonnes, presented immense engineering difficulties for what were supposed to be a primitive people.
There is evidence of constant stone building at the site between 3500BC and 1100BC. A great deal of veneration seems to have been placed on Stonehenge. And in trying to understand just what this form of veneration was, we find an expression of one of the most enduring prehistoric mysteries.
In 1740 the clergyman Dr William Stukeley noted that Stonehenge seemed to be aligned to the rising sun at dawn on the summer solstice. This was later confirmed by British astronomer Sir Norman Lockyear. Beginning in the 1930s, Scottish engineer Alexander Thom spent forty years surveying some 600 similar sites and claimed to find astronomical alignments in many of them; a finding confirmed in 1965 through the computer analysis by astronomer Gerald S Hawkins.
Usually aligned to the rising and setting sun on key dates, many scholars disagree with the wider astronomical alignments, but today monuments the world over have been proved to align with the midsummer sun.

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06Oct

Grail Facts

The mythology behind the Grail says that it was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea. The earliest believed site for it is Glastonbury, confirming the location’s spiritual heart. The word, grail, comes from the French ‘graal’, and as Medieval Christendom got under way, Grail Romances appeared.
The most famous writer of the romance was Chretien de Troyes, who wrote adventures involving quests for the Grail. As well as being adventurous, the quests were spiritual and moral, and through them, the chivalric code emerged, giving rules of chastity, courage and loyalty to Medieval society.
If we look closely at the legendary King Arthur, certain factors become clear. He was a boy who rose to kingship through the magic of Merlin and his sword, Excalibur. The world was a Wasteland and he, and his Knights of the Round Table, made it pure once more. Those Knights attempted the quest for the Grail, but only the most pure could succeed. Eventually, Arthur died to save us, and he lies in Avalon waiting for when he may again be needed.
In this myth, there are many similarities to an earlier mythology of the wounded Fisher King, but also to Christ. Although Arthur is a warrior, he is Christ-like in the insinuations of his life. The Grail seems to be a repeating iconic situation, through which man gains knowledge and becomes spiritual, as if reborn. Indeed, if we go deeper into the concept, we can see why the Catholic Church has always been suspicious of the Grail – and not because of the knowledge of Christ’s survival.
The Grail is a cup associated with wine and rebirth of spirituality. Earlier, similar, myths are known, such as Bacchus, who’s cup of wine led to orgies and spiritual rebirth. Indeed, the story exists in most pagan myths. Its most common pagan representation is the cauldron, said to be used by the witch.
This outs the reality of the Grail. It can be a vessel in terms of ceremony, but the true reality of the Grail is a representation of knowledge causing rebirth. It is symbolic of the most important spiritual reality, and reaches across all religions. It is a fundamental truth of an iconic moment of life-change. And the success of the Da Vinci Code tells us that, even in a supposed secular society, this basic religious impulse still fascinates.

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07Feb

Coincidence

The world is full of coincidence. Scientist Camille Flammarion wrote about when an essay he was writing about the wind blew out of his window and was lost. It actually fell in front of a print worker who took it to work and printed it off for him.
Actor Anthony Hopkins once found a novel of a film he was about to work on on a bench. It turned out to be an annotated version by the writer of the novel.
From a policeman who answered a phone in a factory he was checking, only to find his friend on the line, to the man who ended up carrying out the exact first aid on a policeman that the policeman had carried out on him years earlier, coincidences are the spice of life.
Arthur Koestler put them down to puns of destiny, whilst Charles Fort put them down to the Cosmic Joker. Paul Kammerer, on the other hand, suggested that life naturally provides congregations of related events in a process he called seriality.
Coincidence is a process whereby events become linked in some meaningful way without meaning behind it. Chance, it seems, throws up situations that imply meaning, but this is only our mind grasping for answers and order when they don’t exist.
At least, that is the rational answer. Applied to the unexplained, meaning can so easily be grasped, suggesting telepathy or premonition at work, when in reality, it is inevitable that groupings of events will happen, with nothing paranormal actually occurring.
Another way of looking at it is to say that chance, itself, is ordered. As such, the universe conspires to produce fortuitous, or disastrous, coincidences while attuned to your mind. Good or bad luck can be the outcome, with runs of linked events.
Carl Jung devised the term ‘synchronicity’ to pinpoint such meaningful coincidence. But if a theory can ever be devised to put real meaning into coincidence, then much of the paranormal could be explained in a stroke.

Bermuda Triangle

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06Feb

Rennes le Chateau

In the 1970s a new Grail chapter was opened by the publication of Grail mysteries concerning the events in Rennes le Chateau in the late 19th century. A local priest is said to have uncovered a treasure or secret knowledge, and from this point on he was immensely rich.
Many think he came across a secret concerning Christ’s survival of the Cross and marriage to Mary Magdalene, through whom he had children. A mythology has grown, recently capitalized upon by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, that a child of Christ formed the Merovingian Dynasty of French kings, eventually usurped by the Carolingians. One Carolingian was Charlemange, who formed the Holy Roman Empire.
Based on Catholicism, the central tenet of faith is that Christ died, and was Resurrected in Heaven for us. If this is untrue and he survived the Cross, then Christianity is a lie. Hence, this knowledge was buried, kept alive only by the mysterious Priory of Sion, who guard the secret, waiting for the time when it can used again in a reborn true Christianity.

Holy Grail

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19Jan

Atlantis

We first hear of Atlantis in the ‘Timaeus’ and ‘Critias’; dialogues by the Greek philosopher Plato, written about 350BC. Claiming to have heard the story from Solon, who heard it from a priest of ancient Egypt, Atlantis was a fantastic island beyond the ‘Pillars of Hercules.’
Existing in the deep past, it had an ideal government and boasted immense wealth and power. Having superior technology, the Atlanteans were the ultimate of humanity, but eventually their growing corruptness led to their destruction, the island eventually sinking below the sea.
Derided by later Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, the story was seen as a simple myth until 1882 when US Congressman Ignatius Donnelly took an interest. Donnelly was fascinated by the similarities between ancient Egyptian culture and that of Central and South America.
Arguing that both cultures had a single source, he theorised that they were the products of the survivors of the destruction of Atlantis which, to him, was located in the Atlantic Ocean.
About the same time, the medium and founder of the Theosophical Society, Madame Helena Blavatsky argued that the Atlanteans were a psychically developed people known as the Fourth Root Race. A previous evolutionary stage of man, they were an expression of the assent (or descent?) from celestial beings.
Occult philosopher Rudolf Steiner advanced the psychical nature of the Atlanteans by describing them as physically weak but with immense intellect, memory and psychic powers that enabled them to control the universal life force that permeated all things.
Descended from the fabled Lemurians who communicated telepathically, the At1anteans had a greater grasp on the physicality of the wor1d, and devised the first languages.
American medium Edgar Cayce was the next to enter the Atlantis debate. From the ‘life readings’ of 1,600 people, he realised that many individuals were reincarnated Atlanteans. He, himself, had been an Atlantean in a previous life, as well as a high priest of Egypt 10,600 years ago.
To him, the Atlanteans gained power through the use of crystals, but their increasing materialism and self-indulgence led to their destruction. As to the location of Atlantis, he cited Bimini in the Bahamas, close to the Florida coast.
In 1940 he predicted that part of Atlantis would rise up from the sea in 1968. This did not occur, but in that year strange, geometric ruins were discovered on the sea bed close to Bimini. Controversy reins to this day whether the structures are natural or man made.
It is easy to dismiss the ideas of Blavatsky, Steiner and Cayce as wild speculations, and in the late 1960s this seemed to be confirmed with the theory of a Greek archaeologist who offered a logical and almost certainly true foundation to the Atlantis myth.
Around 1500BC a huge volcanic eruption destroyed the island of Santorini, laying waste coastal regions of eastern Greece and northern Crete. Practically destroying the pre-Greek Minoan culture, survivors went on to populate Greece and laid the foundations of Greek society.
The Minoans were known to be advanced for their time, and when added to the known sinking of Santorini, it is attractive to see this as the genesis of Atlantean mythology.

Lost Civilization

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19Jan

Telepathy

Explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins once went on an Arctic expedition in which he co-operated with researcher Harold Sherman. Over 68 nights he would spend a little time trying to communicate the events of the day by thought to Sherman in New York. Records of the test show that Sherman wrote some incredibly accurate notes.
This was one of the most celebrated cases of telepathy, the believed ability to receive messages in the mind from another mind. A term coined by Frederic Myers in the 19th century, it is usually called extrasensory perception, or ESP, today; although the latter also takes in clairvoyance and precognition.
Classic examples of telepathy which most people have experienced include foreknowledge of someone about to phone you, or thinking about someone then seeing them. Sceptics deny this is telepathy, but merely coincidence.
J B Rhine began the first ‘scientific’ analysis of telepathy in the 1930s. Using packs of 25 cards with 5 sets of five symbols, subjects would try to guess which symbol another person had turned over. The number of guesses above chance suggested ESP.
By the 1970s, the Ganzfeld became popular, where a person is placed in sensory deprivation and asked to speak his thoughts whilst another person concentrates on sending images of a picture he is looking at. Evidence has been patchy.
Theories to explain telepathy have included the idea that messages are carried on radio-like waves, or are a product of pheromones, or airborne hormones. All such ideas have been discounted.
Others opt for more esoteric explanations, such as Carl Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’; a level of mind below the personal and arguably connecting minds together. Quantum mechanics allows spontaneous action, suggesting an answer may also exist here.

Telepathy or Inner Perception?

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19Jan

Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman is elusive. He came to western notice in 1832, when B H Hodgson – British Resident at the Court of Nepal – talked of natives being frightened by a ‘wild man’ covered in long dark hair. Later, in 1889, while exploring the Himalayas, a Major Waddell came across huge footprints in the snow at an altitude of 17,000 feet. Numerous similar incidents occurred, and then, in 1951, the Everest explorer Eric Shipton returned from the Menlung Glacier clutching a photograph of a footprint 18 inches long and 13 inches wide.
This is all part of the known history of the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti. Many stories have been built up about the creature. It is hard, now, to work out whether we are dealing with fact or myth in such tales. For instance, we have the story of Zana, a wild woman who was taken in by a Himalayan tribe and had several children by various tribesmen. Unfortunately, Zana died about 1890 and no proof can be forwarded that she was a Yeti.
As with Nessie, the Yeti has many cousins, including the Sasquatch – or Bigfoot – of the Americas, and the Russian Alma. In 1967 Bigfoot is said to have appeared on a movie film taken at Bluff Cove by ex-rodeo cowboy Roger Patterson. This is just one of hundreds of sightings; if, of course, it wasn’t a clever hoax. So again we have creatures covering many cultures, and while Nessie frequents most remote lakes worldwide, the Yeti frequents snowy, rocky uninhabited regions throughout the world.
Sherpa Tensing – of Everest fame – described the Yeti as some 5 feet tall, bipedial with a conical head and covered in reddish brown hair. From this and other sightings we get a picture of a creature with teeth like a man’s but larger; with no under layer of hair, skin can sometimes be seen, and they often grasp things but without using the thumb. They climb trees, swim and run as fast as a horse. They shelter in holes, travel in breeding pairs, throw stones, eat small animals and vegetable roots and have a distasteful smell.
With many human characteristics, Dr Myra Shackley has suggested that he is the last vestige of Neanderthal Man. Others have suggested he is the missing link, while still others have put sightings down to the Tibetan Blue Bear.

Nessie & Yeti

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19Jan

Psychokinesis

Psychokinesis, or PK, is the supposed ability of the mind to affect matter. Best known through the spoon bending antics of Uri Geller, a spontaneous form of PK is believed, by some, to be behind the poltergeist phenomenon.
For research purposes the phenomenon is split into micro and macro PK. Micro research began proper with the help of random number generators, devised in the 1960 by physicist Helmut Schmidt. Here the subject attempted to affect the random nature of the process. Since then, a whole range of similar tests have been devised by scientist Robert Jahn at Princeton.
Research into PK began with J B Rhine and his dice throwing experiments in the 1930s. He attempted to get subjects to affect the statistical rate of the dice landing on particular numbers.
Macro PK research attempts to affect matter on the scale above the statistical. Since the 1960s, groups of people have gathered regularly to produce phenomena in ‘mini-labs’, hermetically sealed glass boxes containing objects, first devised by William Cox. Previously, a team of enthusiasts known as SORRAT had attempted to use concentration to levitate tables and other objects.
Occasionally movement of objects has been recorded in such boxes. A further macro PK test was the Philip Experiment, where researchers met to produce a fictional entity to levitate a table. They claimed success. But in the main, results from both micro and macro PK have been disappointing.

Emergence

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19Jan

UFO Sightings

UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, and, according to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, is a sighting of a space vessel piloted by visitors from another planet. Usually known as a flying saucer, the image has become iconic.
The modern UFO epoch began in 1947 when an American businessman, Kenneth Arnold, sighted a number of strange lights in the sky from his aircraft. Reporting it on landing, the next day flying saucers filled the front pages.
This media frenzy led to popular sightings that last until the present day. Many involve sightings from aircraft, including fighter jets. Military authorities have kept an eye on the phenomenon and sometimes they even appear on radar.
To some, the phenomenon is more fundamental. Beginning with George Adamski, certain people claim to have met and talked to aliens. Alien entities regularly ‘possess’ space age prophets – known as channellers – to impart their superior wisdom.
J Allan Hynek was so fascinated with the UFO that he devised three categories of ‘close encounter.’ The term became famous with the film ‘Close Encounters Of the Third Kind,’ where alien entities are said to be seen.
Much supposed evidence of UFOs comes from photographs, yet many of them have been shown to be fakes. In the mid-1990s, however, sightings in Mexico – known as the Mexican Wave – led to some 4,000 videos of strange lights in the sky.
Sky Watching became a hobby for many enthusiasts from the 1980s onwards, groups of people meeting at night to stare at the sky. Lights were often seen, but just as likely, the watchers ended up having a party under the moonlight.
Recently, the US authorities have suggested that much of the phenomenon was down to dis-information on their part. New aircraft had to be tested, and the military wanted a blanket crack-pot explanation for the phenomena they produced.
This aside, many reasons can be given for sightings. These include clouds, insect swarms, aircraft lights, planets and laser light displays. Even retinal images can appear ‘strange’ if you don’t know you’re experiencing them.
Another interesting phenomenon is known as the BOL, or ball of light. These are known to appear occasionally above geo-physical disturbances. Lights that seem to ape the antics of the UFO, they are increasingly seen as an explanation.
Looking deeper into this phenomenon, geo-physical and atmospheric disturbances cause electromagnetic, or EM, anomalies, possibly related to the BOL. It is now known that pulses of EM to the brain can cause hallucinatory effects.
The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis aside, research into UFOs usually discounts 95% of sightings as identified phenomena, with 5% remaining.

Ufology

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19Jan

Spiritualism

Florence Cook used to attract large audiences in 19th century America. She was a Spiritualist medium who, as well as offering evidence of dead people, also had a spirit guide called Katie King who would take over her body.
Equally fascinating was Helen Duncan who died in 1956. This Scottish woman became famous during World War Two and was even prosecuted for her work. At one point she gave out information about a sunken warship during a seance. It was still a secret.
Spiritualism is a form of mediumship which first appeared in the 1840s following the antics of the Fox Sisters, who claimed to contact a dead pedlar through a series of knockings. Publicity from the case caused an explosion of such mediumship.
Soon, people throughout Europe and America began to gather in front rooms for a séance, where attempts were made to contact the dead. A medium would go into a trance whilst people held hands around a table. A spirit guide would then take over the person and communicate with the dead.
In its heyday, physical manifestations were said to break out, including spirit hands, table tilting and the appearance of ectoplasm. However, as methods of recording such phenomena appeared, the ability declined, suggesting fraud was involved.
Typical of this was Eusapia Palladino. Researcher Hereward Carrington became convinced she was genuine, offering strong evidence of mediumship and table tilting. But at other times, she was a clumsy fraudster, easily caught out.
At one stage, researchers looked at Spiritualism in the hope of finding proof of life after death, but fraud and delusion led to disappointment. Today, Spiritualist churches have cleaned up much of this fraud, but evidence is still illusive.
Mediums are often said to use ‘cold reading’, where the questions they ask provide hints as to what the client wants to hear. Others, such as 1940s medium William Roy, used apparatus from telescopic rods to fake levitation, to hidden microphones in the anteroom. Even where genuine phenomena is said to exist, telepathy between medium and client could be the cause.
Many mediums seem to have a traumatic childhood and turn in on themselves. This could suggest that their spirit guides could be related to multiple personality, where the mind can fragment into other characters who take over the host. Medium Eileen Garrett admitted she wasn’t sure that her spirit guides were who they claimed to be. Such a phenomenon could also explain why sometimes they appear genuine, and at other times cheat.
Mediumship is, infact, very ancient. In tribal societies a ‘shaman’ would commune with animal spirits to cleanse the tribe. Similar ‘spirit guides’ are used to this day, whilst other mediums have become ‘channellers’, said to be contacting discarnate entities. However, no medium was more famous that Daniel Dunglas Home.
During the 1840s he was famous throughout America and Europe for his small seances where he levitated people, large objects and himself. Witnesses often spoke of the fleetingness of what they had seen.

Afterlife

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