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Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) was a psychic of the 2...

Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) – Photo credit: Wikipedia

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) was an American who claimed to be trance prophet, psychic and healer. He also believed in reincarnation. Cayce claimed, among other things, to have lived in the fabled Atlantis, ancient Egypt, Persia and Troy.

He believed he was able to absorb information from books just by holding them near his stomach.

Cayce gained quite a following. He rubbed shoulders with the elite of the psychic world and had prominent clients like Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. A workaholic, his own readings warned him that if he did more than two readings per day he would deteriorate. He responded by doing four to six readings per day and eventually collapsed in 1944. His alleged healing techniques involved restoring patients’ equilibrium through natural methods.

Several organizations devoted to his work and ideas continue to this day, although some critics see him as eccentric and possibly fraudulent.


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Extrasensory perception (ESP)

Example of a subject in a Ganzfeld experiment.

Example of a subject in a Ganzfeld experiment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is a type of alleged psi phenomena. ESP is sometimes used as an umbrella term for many types of alleged paranormal phenomena but it properly refers to the ideas of telepathy (reading another’s thoughts) and clairvoyance (‘seeing’ without the eyes).

Some Fundamentalist, Protestant and Catholic Christians have a knee-jerk reaction to this idea, saying ESP is the workings of Satan, a delusion or evidence of mental illness. However, in Catholicism some of the more advanced saints claim to have been given similar gifts, usually called the reading of hearts. Indeed, some Catholic mystics claim to know another’s thoughts and/or feel their emotions near or at a distance with no observable cues.

Reading of Hearts. The knowledge of the secret thoughts of others or of their internal state without communication is known as reading of hearts. The certain knowledge of the secret thoughts of others is truly super-natural, since the devil has no access to the spiritual faculties of men and no human being can know the mind of another unless it is in some way communicated. But knowledge of the secrets of another’s heart may be conjectured by the devil and transmitted to a person, or they may be surmised by a deluded individual who takes his conjectures to be supernatural illuminations.¹

From the above it should be clear that Catholics – or, at least, sane Catholics – are cautious when it comes to mysticism. Central to Catholic mysticism is the idea of discernment or “the discernment of spirits.” Discernment is said to be a gift and acquired ability that enables one to differentiate supernatural experiences and abilities that come from God from those that do not.

¹ AUMANN, J. “Mystical Phenomena.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 105-109. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

Relates Posts » Alien Possession Theory, Paranormal, Randi (James), Psychokinesis, Remote Viewing, Sheldrake (Rupert)


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Empath

The Empath

The Empath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An empath is a person who apparently recognizes, understands and possibly feels the emotions of another person or possibly living beings and organisms, such as animals and plants. Different schools of thought variously try to explain the phenomenon of empathy.

Psychologists say that the empath physiologically copies another person’s emotions based on observable cues. Religious perspectives believe the empath feels another’s emotions due to a mystical connection among all people (some mystical schools would extend this to all living beings, organisms and even inorganic material like rocks, gems, and stones).

In contrast to the psychological explanation for empathy, some mystics claim to know another’s thoughts and/or feel their emotions – called the reading of hearts in Catholicism – near or at a distance with no observable cues.

Reading of Hearts. The knowledge of the secret thoughts of others or of their internal state without communication is known as reading of hearts. The certain knowledge of the secret thoughts of others is truly super-natural, since the devil has no access to the spiritual faculties of men and no human being can know the mind of another unless it is in some way communicated. But knowledge of the secrets of another’s heart may be conjectured by the devil and transmitted to a person, or they may be surmised by a deluded individual who takes his conjectures to be supernatural illuminations.¹

Estimating the prevalence of the gift of empathy is difficult for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that many people wouldn’t want to talk about their empathetic abilities for fear of ridicule. Not surprising then that the psychiatrist Carl Jung said that most individuals are unwilling to talk about their experience of the paranormal because of potential repercussions.

Empaths are differentiated from psychopaths. Apparently psychopaths often can sense another person’s feelings but try to use that ability to manipulate and exploit. Empaths, on the other hand, try to use their perceptions for the common good.

The idea of empathy has been thoroughly explored in science fiction and fantasy. At top right of this entry we see a scene from the 1968 Star Trek episode called The Empath.²

¹ AUMANN, J. “Mystical Phenomena.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 105-109. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

² Fair dealing / fair use rationale of this low-res copyright image.


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Urban Legend

Urban Legend

A kind of modern folk tale of highly questionable veracity but told as if true.

Urban legends often invoke strong emotions and are passed on by word of mouth, through the print media or via the internet.

Ghost stories, vampire tales and the fanciful idea of creepy things living in city sewers would be just some examples.

Urban legend is said to differ from mythology, especially urban myths, in that myths usually carry some kind of supernatural connotation, along with the contemporary understanding that they are essentially untrue.

And unlike myth, urban legends apparently linger in the imagination as if they may be true, however exaggerated they might become.

But this distinction seems spurious when we consider that many Hindus, for instance, really believe that the myth of Krishna is not myth but reality, as do many Christians take literally aspects of the Bible which arguably are mythic.

» Ticket

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Vampires

Vampires

Legends about vampires or vampire-like beings have flourished throughout world folklore, to include the regions of India, China and Greece.

The current incarnation of the vampire is usually traced back to Eastern European myths and superstitions that inspired several vampire novels, the most enduring being Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).

In the eighteenth-century, Eastern European reports of vampirism ran high, taking two sometimes related forms of

  1. Physical vampirism – robbing another person’s vitality by drinking their blood.
  2. Spiritual vampirism – psychic possession of another person’s free-will and theft of their vitality.

Traditionally, vampires are said to reside in or around graveyards, having a strong aversion to daylight. They rise only at night to freely select their victims.

Repelled by the cross, these agents of darkness are known as the ‘undead.’

In the 1970s and ’80s moviegoers dressed up as characters and recited lines from the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps entering into a state of consciousness which anthropologist Lévi-Bruhl called participation mystique.

A more recent newspaper report of alleged vampirism in Toronto tells of a man who forcefully cut and drank the blood of a young woman.

At first the woman was horrified and pressed charges, resulting in the aggressor’s imprisonment. Over time, however, she began to feel united and in love with him, visiting him in prison on a daily basis.

Paranormal researchers and psychics generally explain vampirism in terms of a restless earth-bound spirit or so-called ‘tramp soul’ that gains control of psychologically weak and vulnerable individuals.

By way of contrast, vampire nightclubs seem to be harmless, non-violent and socially acceptable outlets for individuals seeking to experience the numinous aura of the Jungian shadow.

A comparable situation might be the upstanding priest who enjoys horror movies during his off-hours.

But clearly not everyone can keep a mature, adult perspective on vampires. Violent murders have been committed by teens in vampire cults who take the Goth lifestyle to its tragic extreme.

» Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula, Lycanthropy, Swedenborg (Emanuel), Transmigration, Werewolf

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