Paranormal and Psychical Research
The phenomena of spirit possession can be viewed and reviewed through the lens of differing fields of study including and most notably religious studies, psychology and anthropology. When reading in this area of research one would expect to encounter discourse giving examples from within the realms of the main world religions such as exorcism, or the more recent practices of the séance within the spiritualist churches. Here we will engage mainly with this phenomenon as presented through shamanic practices and within this conduct a study of the related context including physical space and ritual. Although there will not be a discussion around the use of the term shamanism, engaging in this particular account of spirit possession will undoubtedly highlight some of its core traits.
The theme of this chapter arose through a strange coincidence and a dream, which I shall briefly relate. Some time ago a friend introduced me to the work of Michael Newton, and I spent a session with my MA students discussing the question of regression therapy and spiritual encounter in relation to Hermetic texts and the mundus imaginalis of Henry Corbin. Shortly after this, I received an email, quite out of the blue, from Michael Newton himself. He was looking for a university department where he could develop his client work into a doctoral thesis, and this initiated a flow of personal communication on the subject of life between lives (LBL) therapy.
Scrying has been variously defined as “the faculty of seeing visions in a smooth surface or clear deep, or both”;“an occult method for obtaining oracular visions in water, glass or crystal;” and “the deliberate act of perceiving events that lie beyond the range of the physical senses by using the agents of the unconscious mind”
Prophecy (from the Greek prophemi meaning “to say beforehand, foretell”) can be defined as the ability to foretell future events or conditions through an innate supernatural or paranormal ability to speak from a viewpoint of divine authority. Prophecy is therefore similar to mediumship or channeling in its purported ability to receive emanations from a divine being or higher intelligence, and convey these revelations to others.
In this chapter I argue that a Platonic perspective would benefit a trajectory of paranormal research which seeks to gain some hold on the ontological status of observed phenomena, through establishing a framework for modes of perception beyond the rational.
In this chapter, I explore the phenomena of visual apparitions of daimons and spirits, and how in the neoplatonic traditions they have always been seen as lights.