here is a quixotic, teasing element in paranormal phenomena similar to the “poltergeist” or playful spirit event. In Crack I summarized parts of Leonard Fineberg’s report of fire-walking in Ceylon. I did not include Fineberg’s report of the aftermath of that strange night. It is apropos here and worth relating.
Among the European contingent present at the fire-walking there in Kataragama’s temple yard was a solid, reality-adjusted British lady of pronounced practicality. All that they had witnessed, she proclaimed, was trickery or illusion. No fire-walking had taken place and the nonsense about a local god, Kataragama, was native superstition. Her protests ran overly long as they all got into their cars for the drive back to the city.
It was a lovely, sunny morning as they set out, caravan style along the single-track dirt road. Suddenly an enormous downpour of rain fell without warning, but only on the single car driven by the critical English lady. Immediately her part of the road was a quagmire and she veered off the track into the ditch. As suddenly the rain stopped, the sun shining serenely. The other drivers, untouched, leaped out and with joint effort got the car back on the road, the no-nonsense driver apparently unhurt.
A medical checkup on their return showed no damage except that she had, right on her behind, in the conventional spot for correctives, a large black bruise, the shape of a hand. The god, Kataragama, as any of his followers will tell you, is a good-natured, whimsical god, but absolutely powerful within his small domain.
Praying for a Sign from Above
In the early 1930s, when Black Elk, the Sioux holy man, was very old, he asked his white biographer, Neihardt, to drive him back to his boyhood camping grounds at the head of the Badlands, where his first great vision had been given him. There the old man prayed to his grandfathers for forgiveness. He had failed, he felt, to sustain the faith and cohesiveness of his people through their conquest by the whites. Black Elk prayed for a sign, a token of divine acceptance of him in spite of his shortcomings.
They were in the middle of an extensive drought, Neihardt reported, and a dry, cloudless day it was. After a long time of the old man’s steadfast prayer, a mist formed about the group. Finally a thin, steady rain fell on them, and Black Elk wept with joy.
The world is, as don Juan insists, a very mysterious place. We encapsulate ourselves in an equally strange shell of sameness, but we rob only ourselves, not the world. The “playful spirit” phenomenon occurs frequently in all countries and follows certain patterns. The activities are “paranormal” with objects appearing and disappearing; levitation is frequent; there is occasional light damage and small fires; loud noises are frequent. Mostly the activity is in the form of playful, whimsical tricks.
Poltergeist activity is nearly always associated with a pre- or early-adolescent boy or girl, and particularly one having severe difficulty with reality adjustment. There are exceptions, but this is the pattern.
In the early sixties a poltergeist occurred in Clayton, California, a tiny hamlet just outside Walnut Creek. A Mexican boy of thirteen, abandoned by his parents, was living with his grandmother when the activity began. Graduate physics students came from Berkeley, complete with infrared film, recording devices, and equipment to “expose the fraud.” (The editor of the local Walnut Creek paper was on hand and was the source of my account.)
Loud explosions occurred in the middle of the room where they sat, late into the night, long after the boy involved was asleep. No concussion was felt from these noises, nor was there any detectable source. Objects moved about and were attributed to earth tremor. Finally, after a quiet spell, a plaster Madonna from the family shrine in the corner rose gently into the air, moved to the center of the room, and hung suspended there. No hidden devices were detected.
In the fifties, the family of a young Irish girl of twelve moved to Glasgow looking for work. Left behind were the girl’s pet dog and all her friends. Lost in the strange new land—they hadn’t even a yard—she grew morose, silent, and withdrawn. There then began a poltergeist activity of remarkable duration and intensity.
Several researchers arrived and spent time in the crowded home. The activity grew more intense after the girl went to bed in the evening. The activity then centered around her bedroom. The standard ripping off of the bedclothes and the bed moving off the floor were followed by the lid of a linen chest starting to bang up and down. Unable to hold the lid down, several of the men sat on it, and it lifted them easily without pause, continuing to bang away without damage to lid, chest, or men.
Poltergeist activities would fill volumes. I have given this brief survey to relate the activity to other paranormal phenomena, and to suggest the origin of all this activity to be in the “shadow side” of mind. “Autistic” seems to fit the poltergeist well since there is a childish, playful element in it.
Consider that the most crucial point in our “reality adjustment” occurs at puberty. At this stage, as Piaget outlined, logical development firms up, and the last vestiges of childhood autisms fade. Hildegarde of Stanford found that the average person loses a certain flexibility of mind at this point. Cultural logic takes over at this stage, and dependence on the cultural context becomes complete. Peer-group reliance extends and the drive for authenticity and identity begins.
Identity, or placement of self in a stable context, is at stake. Until genital sexuality the preadolescent is not quite male or female. With development of genital sexuality, the “subdominant” gender splits off from the developing socially oriented ego. This follows the transfer of language to the major hemisphere of brain. The semantic universe with its constricting logic is taking over. Roof-brain chatter begins to crowd out the “still small voice.” The self is being decentralized, thrown eccentric, giving over to a semantic context outside itself. The mute, creative mind, the connecting link with the life flow, is losing out, being damped down.
The reality adjustment of the pre-adolescent is always rough. Should it get extremely rocky at this point, if the rewards of reality modification do not offset the uncertainties of decentralization, and if the autonomous inner life maintains strong connections within the total mind system, then the ordinary cultural dominance system of mind may get out of phase. At that point there may be physical displays similar to the psychic displays of delirium tremens.
In delirium tremens, the alcoholic’s waking and dreaming stages of mind get out of phase. Ordinarily our sleep and wake stages act by mutual inhibition, and on a fairly regular cycle. Alcohol in quantity prevents those sleep cycles in which dreaming occurs. The mind’s need for dreaming grows intense, and since the alcoholic is never quite asleep or awake, the ordinary balance goes haywire. Dream sequencing starts firing in on “ordinary reality.” The two modalities get mixed in the cognitive system. Waking nightmare results.
Spontaneous Paranormal Events Could Represent a Psychic Frustration
In poltergeist activity the mind dominance gets out of social phase. Then reality sequences may occur as shaped in the nonverbal mode of mind. Once the restrictive activity of semantic-cultural logic is bypassed, the possibilities are not restricted to causal sequencing. Then reversibility thinking can structure events.
Separation does not exist for that silent aspect of mind. The poltergeist, and other paranormal events of spontaneous sort, might represent a psychic frustration. Our ignored processes tug at us, saying, in effect, “Look, it doesn’t have to be the way you think it is.”
One can, suspending criteria, entertain any possibility in a continuum of possibility as being equal to any other possibility. The poltergeist is propositional logic at its most open, but out of phase.
The Individual's Inner Self Protests Being Constricted
The poltergeist activity might well be a “sign” for us. It may be that the individual’s inner self, connected with the life flow, protests the constricting sentence being placed upon the unfolding life.
The performance occurs occasionally in adults. Carl Jung related such an incident in his memoirs. He and Freud were involved in a heated debate concerning paranormal phenomena. Freud had ruled such out and was disturbed by Jung’s interests. They were sitting in Freud’s study, and as the afternoon wore on, Freud grew agitated over the uncanny nature of Jung’s talk. Suddenly Jung felt a band of heat about his midriff, a tight tension. Immediately there was a loud explosion—without concussion—in the area of the bookcase. Both men leaped up, startled, and looked for damage or cause. Finding none, they settled down to their discussion again.
Jung realized that they had been given a “sign” of the very phenomena in question. This observation caused sincere agitation in Freud, who demanded the conversation be stopped. Again, though, Jung felt the broad band of tight heat about his middle and called out to Freud that another demonstration was in the offing. Sure enough, another loud explosion followed immediately, terminating the discussion and lending to the rift between the two men.
Impish Qualities or Neglected Unique Gifts?
The principles of the world surely tend toward order, an order rather upset by the impish qualities of the poltergeist. And yet such events suggest a relationship for reality different from those we hold. The phenomena displayed by a Geller, an Arigo, or an Edgar Cayce might well be a unique gift occurring regularly within the larger body of man, and for our well-being. These gifts are seldom discovered and even then never unfold because there is no milieu for their flowering. They are seeds dropped in shallow soil. Such gifts are not accepted and opened to but are capitalized on by those who desire to duplicate the phenomena and incorporate them into the cultural circle of prediction and control.
The longing for black magic, levitation, telepathy, moving objects by thinking is a surface projection of a very genuine longing and need within. The need is for unity with the Flow. And paradoxically, as poltergeist activity shows, the longing for magic is correct in a wrong way. “Paranormal” phenomena do express a connection between all things, an avenue beyond our constricting cultural conditioning.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Park Street Press, an imprint of Inner Traditions Inc.
©1974, 2014 by Joseph Chilton Pearce. www.innertraditions.com
Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Split Minds and Meta-Realities
by Joseph Chilton Pearce.
About the Author
Joseph Chilton Pearce is the author of several books, including The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, and The Biology of Transcendence. Since the early 1970s, he has been teaching at universities throughout the world about the changing needs of our children and the development of human society. Joe (as he prefers to be called) lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is on the Board of Advisors for The Monroe Institute, a worldwide organization dedicated to expanding human potential.
Watch an interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce about: Play, the Ultimate Lightness of Being