How to be supernatural and mysterious without being occult or x-file

Paranormal Questions > > Paranormal Phenomena: what do they mean?

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Paranormal: A Big Deal?

Most of these mysterious things we call 'paranormal' aren't really such a big deal. Yeah, they're 'mysterious' and 'numinous' -- sorta. And most of these can be explained without recourse to the occult (though they rarely are). But what good is it even if they are legit?

For instance, levitation. So a body gets to lift off the ground. Do they use it to get to work, saving gasoline? Or to feed the poor? Or to clean the environment? (When you're with someone you love, it only feels like you're floating on air.) The historians of the Saints added levitation to their histories in order to make the saints seem even more special. Francis of Assisi, Gerard Majella, Philip Neri, Dunstan, Ignatius Loyola, and Thomas Aquinas were levitators in legend only. There are a few cases which are slightly better-grounded, such as Catherine of Siena.

Christian history's main levitator was Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663). He had been reported to lift off the ground during his devotions, breaking other peoples' concentration on their own devotions so badly that he was ordered to do his devotions only in private. He was also ordered to stop leading worship because whenever he would pray he went flying over the altar (which made him instantly famous). He accepted these orders as being in accord with Paul's restrictions on gifts. Because he was mentally handicapped, he may not have been able to control his levitating when deep in prayer. His innocence about levitation, as indeed about his whole life, is what made his levitation into a gift instead of a power.

It is exactly that innocence about levitation which is most lacking in modern reports of it.

Or, take the moving or bending of objects by mind power. Perhaps it can be used to hide the car keys or to pretzelize a spoon. But can they mentalistiscally move the stuff in a room to help serve their dying parents? Has anyone stopped the dictator's bullets with it?

Again, Joseph of Cupertino is a prime Christian example. With his mind's assistance, he was able to toss around heavy stones and beams and such during church construction. All he was trying to do was to give the work crews an ordinary helping hand, and it just happened.

Or, try auras. It seems that angels aren't the only ones with halos. Something seems to be there, but what? Whatever an aura is, it is affected by overall health. Yet there are so many explanations, ranging from life-force glow to soul seepage to heat effects to having had too much garlic. Attempts to use auras as a primary medical treatment have had no consistent success. Why are aura measurements and photographies used more to track the ghosts of the dead than to help the living?

Or, mental time travel. I doubt the possibilities of this; it seems to be more of a mind game than a reality. But, let's say it's real: has it taught us even one provable thing about history? Or given us even one medicine from the future? Or recovered even one lost form of music? You'd think that historians would flock to it so they could know where the evidence is.

There are many other different types of mind-traveling. One is remote viewing, in which someone can see or visualize what is happening at that time in another place without being there. It's like the view from a remote camera, without the camera. (Technology can now do much of what had been thought of as 'paranormal'.) Sometimes the place is somewhere they'd never been, but usually it is somewhere they had been in the past, or where a familiar person is, especially one who may be in danger. It is even reported that the remote viewing is following a person (usually a loved one) around as they go places, like a mental bugging device. Such an ability would be great for private-eyes and spies, but the gross inaccuracy of much modern intelligence suggests it's not being successfully used that way. Many of the times it has been tested, it has been found to be some sort of projection : the imagination combines with knowledge of a place or person, creating a visual image. That would only be as accurate as the knowledge is. But it does not explain reports of people 'seeing' what is happening when, say, a missionary is in trouble. If it really exists, it would be in brief instances rather than an ongoing ability.

The big question on most of these mysterious works is 'why bother?'. Even if these mysterious works are real (something I doubt, but am open about), they are usually done without even the intent of a lasting benefit. They amount to mysterious entertainment. If so, then they are no more meaningful than pro wrestling or 'Gilligan's Island'; it's just a game that you play. If so, they are not a part of the spiritual search, and worse, they take us away from it. Worse, if they are real, we are witnessing a trivial use of some very deep, potent, and hazardous (even toxic) powers which are not to be toyed with -- this is not Beelzebub Bingo. The toxicity comes in the idea that we can have these things at our command. We can then become as masters, not only of our own fate, but of the fate of others. It's another form of the original temptation, being tempted to desire powers that are at least equal to those of the All-Powerful. Yet, the Bible says that God calls us to serve, not to control. When Paul spoke of gifts, he says they're given to build up other people. When the Gospels speak of miracles, it says they were provided, at least in part, to show that God was at work causing the world to become like the Kingdom. Now there's a purpose for you!
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What is a "magic spell"? Well, it's word origin time again, folks. Magic is, originally, that which is done by those who know about things (the 'magi'). An English translation of 'magi' is "wizard" (which comes from the word 'wise'). Both "magi" and "wizard", from the start, had a sense of mystery, for the wise know what others don't. The word 'spell' simply means 'word' - words were believed to have powers of their own (or, at least, could be used to manipulate the forces that have such power). Stripped of the layers of legend and superstition that have been stuck to it, a "magic spell" is thus what a wise person says in order to influence or control a person or situation. Some mystery, eh? Wise people are doing this all the time, and it has nothing to do with special powers. And if you're wise enough to say something that really matters, the only wizardry involved is the 'magic' of speaking the truth in love (or perhaps, the 'magic' of speaking a deep lie in order to destroy or control). It is supposedly tied to being in some sort of harmony with the natural world. However, turning to such sources rather than the real Almighty is a form of idolatry.

The "magic act", as a form of entertainment, is something very different. Beneath all of the hocus-pocus flourishes, it is merely a way to amaze people by making them think they're seeing what they aren't seeing. The older English term for that is 'sleight-of-hand'. And as long as both the performer and the audience know that's all it really is, there's no evil in it, even with the quasi-occultic and mysterious trappings. It relies on the same temporary suspension of disbelief which allows people to enjoy plays, novels, stories and movies. When someone takes the trappings seriously, or tries to make more of it than what it is, then there's some danger. The term for them is 'charlatan'.

Simon of Gitto, the Magician

The New Testament speaks of a specific magician named Simon (often referred to as Simon Magus), of the town of Gitto in Samaria. He was locally famous in Samaria for being a great sorcerer. This was at the time that Christians were fleeing Saul's persecution. The deacon Philip fled into Samaria, preaching and casting out demons. Simon saw all this amazing power and was dazzled. He himself was baptized, and followed Philip around. The apostles got word of what was happening in Samaria, and Peter and John were sent there. Simon saw that the apostles laid hands on people and sent them the Holy Spirit. Amazing! Simon had to get that incredible power for himself! So he offered to buy that power from Peter. What he received instead was a stinging rebuke for even thinking that the power of God could be bought. That apparently shook Simon up badly at the time, so much so that he begged for forgiveness.

If only Simon had left it at that. If only Simon had put aside his sorcery, his thirst for acclaim, and his craving for power. But history reports otherwise. He is one of the better-attested side characters in Acts, for many things are said of him. According to Irenaeus and Tertullian, Simon would soon use his money to buy a Tyrian servant girl named Helen, who would become his consort. Origen reports that Helen was later worshipped by some as a great teacher. Tertullian wrote that Simon pursued magic even more, directly against the faith of Christ, so that he might be seen as a god. Justin Martyr reports that Simon took his tricks to Rome, getting much fame and awe from certain segments of the populace. (One report, in case you come across it in history readings, incorrectly said that the Roman legislature authorized a commemoration or statue to Simon as a god.) It is reported that Peter had several dramatic encounters with Simon in Rome, though that report is heavily colored by legend. In his day, Simon's mastery of the art of manipulation likely made him more famous than Jesus (whose followers were still few in number). In addition to Helen, we know of Simon's young Samaritan right-hand man, Menander, and from a generation later, Saturninus. Their magic held peoples' attentions, but usually only for a short time. Once the wow of it was over, the crowds sought other thrills. By 200 AD, Simon and his team had become just a footnote to the Acts of the Apostles, and people were putting their lives behind someone whose only 'magic' was God's love : Jesus Christ.
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We could use a version of the Roach Motel for demons.

Come, Sit a Spell...

A reader asks :

<<I was wondering if you know of a place
where I can find spells that many different witches use?

Yes, but I won't lead you there.

Life isn't about spells, but about following Christ and serving others in love. No matter how one rationalizes it, the use of spells isn't about service but about mastery.

Pray on it.

Contacting the Dead

> I was reading your website about contacting the dead. I was
> thinking of finding someone to do this for so I could talk to
> lost loved ones, but you seem to not think its a good idea.
> I would be very interested to hear from you.

No, it is not a good idea. One of the consequences of the fact of death is that we lose the ones we love, and eventually the one that most of us love most dearly -- one's self. We need to deal with it by accepting it. The Devil dangles the promise of contact with the dead, but can only deliver to you those he has, and he has to fake the rest. Either way, his stuff can only do you harm, filling your ear with lies and half-truths. If there is something noble or godly about your loved ones, bring new life to that nobility through living it yourself.

Please, put the dead behind you and go on with your life.

>Does using a spirit medium contravene God's will?

I believe it does. It was expressly forbidden in the Old Testament : , Leviticus 20:6. It relies on a power God expressly did not grant you. If God didn't, then who is giving it? Relying on that source is idolatry, a rejection of the one true God. Even worse, that source is the father of lies, so you can't trust what you see or hear from it, including a fake father telling either bland generalities or subtle lies. Even real stuff gets twisted to evil purposes. As bad as even that : you have to deal with the fact that he's dead, really dead, not here anymore. You will be, too, eventually. Our lives are chock full of denial of death; the healthiest thing a person can do is own up to it, and say, "Lord, I keep whistling in the graveyard. Help me to really live life. Help me with my fear of death just as you help people with their unbelief. Help me to live from drawing on what my parents and loved ones put into me, and what You put into me. Amen."

(See more at the page on .)
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Crystals have properties, not powers.

Being Crystal Clear

The power of crystals is a hot craze. Yet, the idea that crystals have paranormal powers is as old as human history. It's this belief that led to jewelry (neck, ear, nose, and finger ornaments that contain protective power crystals such as emeralds, rubies and diamonds), and to birthstones. The ancients believed in the power of all sorts of stones, which held the power of earth. Crystal stones were seen as having the additional powers of the sun, due to what crystals do to light, reflecting it back in blinding beams or tiny sparkles, or even breaking up the light into colors as a prism. Crystals of beryl or quartz rock can be extraordinarily clear and can create interesting light effects. Crystals are the most orderly structures in all of nature, and their unrivaled purity, hardness and refractive properties come from this rigid interlocking order. Lava from inside of earth can crystallize under pressure into granite, which has long been prized for its strength as a building material. Nature's layered crystals are used for writing or for floors and tables. Even something as basic as water has unique properties as a crystal. Water crystals come in two forms (hexagonal and cubic, or snow and ice), and float on top of the liquid form because the molecules are spaced further apart, making them less dense. Some crystals can also produce an electric charge when compressed; it's called the 'piezoelectric effect', and it's part of what made record players work. Crystals are also used to focus light into tight, high-energy laser beams, used for reading CDs and DVDs or performing surgery. When we talk about being 'well-grounded' or 'having roots', it is dirt that the roots sink into, and dirt is partly made of sand crystals, along with organic matter.

Crystal Legends

From these simple ancient and modern observations of scientific fact, there grew sweeping legends about crystals, about hypnotic sway over minds, about the energy behind the casting of spells, or clairvoyance, or about "seeing through" crystal balls (or shew stones or palantirs) into the future, as the ancient Druids were said to do. (It is said that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon with the help of several such stones.) Or, about sudden surges of natural power that turn someone (momentarily at least) superhuman, or making a protective energy shield. It's mind-blowing imagery, turning our energies way up as only dreams of power can do. Power crystals have the image of something thrilling, and crystal balls as something mysterious. It's great for works of fiction. Yet, no special power over natural energies has ever actually been found, just physical properties that are explained well through science. In fact, a long history of observations point to there being no such powers.

Thoughts, especially spiritual ones, are also said to be governed by stones, especially the amethyst. The stone is said to help balance and integrate all the different stuff that's constantly pouring into one's self. But the same is true with spiritual thought (or non-thought) that's true with power: the stone itself can do nothing for the person going into spiritual self-deception and spiritual insanity.

Crystalizing The Main Point

Yet some of us want such power in our hands, under our control. And we can hold a crystal. We want to believe that something can make miracles for us. As we pant for such goodies, we're not going about doing that which pleases the One who gives us what's worth having. It's easier to deal with a neutral Nature which doesn't care about your deeds of power than with a righteous God who created and gave order to all of nature. It even seems easier to deal with God's strong opponent, who loves evasion and dreams of power, and loves it when you love them too.

The real power of crystals is as a symbol -- the power of the human mind to bring about the reality it dreams of. Of course there is some truth to that -- you're unlikely to better yourself if you don't imagine or dream it first. But neither dreams or imagination alone, nor hope alone, nor the projection of power onto a powerless stone, can make reality change. That takes other kinds of change -- changes in character and action and values, changes that sink firm roots into a real world that you do not control, and putting your trust in the real Source of spiritual power in this universe. A real Source that really wants you to grow, and who sent the Holy Spirit to bring about that growth. That Source does not use crystal balls to bring that about.

We have many reasons to be thankful for what crystals do, from special drugs and structural strength to candy treats to rings that symbolize the durability and value of love. But don't thank the crystal itself or some mysterious supernatural power within it. Thank its Maker.

Eh! Visualize DIS!

Just As I Visualized It...

Visualization is a form of concentrative meditation that is a video-style use of imagination - turning a thought or emotion or expectation into visual form or images. This is not quite the same as a dream, in that it is intentionally directed - your mind thinks it and wills it. Like with so much else that people see as 'paranormal', there's really not that much that's unusual about visualization once the malarkey is stripped away.

One of the best uses of visualization is to picture something you're about to do, taking yourself through the steps, anticipating the problems before they occur, and testing out what you could do. Say, you're a basketball player. You're headed for the big game, and your main task is to defend against the other team's scoring star. You've watched endless videotapes to learn how that player acts and reacts. You also know the way you play. By focusing your imagination on it, you can do the brain's version of a computer simulation game, picturing how you'd play in order to succeed. You might even visualize this while you're asleep, while dreaming, if your focus is strong. The result is that you'll know and anticipate the opponent's moves, and be ready to make your own moves, making you a more effective player.

Christians throughout the ages have used concentrated visualization to set themselves into the stories of the Bible, so that they can feel and sense and 'see' what went on as if they were there. This form of visualization can be very vivid and exciting, and can open up many sides to Scripture that you might otherwise had missed. Sometimes, you're a disciple hearing Jesus teach, or you're someone in the crowd. Maybe you envision it as Baruch delivering a real Jeremiad to the king, or as the one who cuts each piece of that scroll and throws it into the fire. Maybe as a child watching a battle from a hilltop. Maybe as Jacob when he first lays eyes on Rachel. Maybe as the eunuch Elnathan who asks the king to take Jeremiah out of the well. Maybe as the rich young man as Jesus tells him to sell all he has. Maybe as the Samaritan woman at the well, or as Paul making his escape from an angry town. The human mind is packed with the ability to do this. It's a wonderful way to draw from the riches of Scripture.

There are, unfortunately, harmful versions of the same process. It happens when the information that goes into the visualization is a lie : garbage in, garbage out. Most often, it's a lie you tell yourself over and over again. It can be something you're trying to convince yourself, for your own self-image. You play the movie in your head, with scenes that show how awful your spouse treats you, how generous and kind you are, how great you look. The movie does not show that you live more like a two-timing con man with a beer gut. Go back to the basketball game for a moment. Let's say, the player does not do the game's disciplines (such as study his opponents, think through his moves, keep in shape, practice, etc.), and projects a sop opponent that he beats with ease. What happens? His confidence will be laid waste by any disciplined opponent. What he pictures is a mere fantasy which deceives him. Visualization is no short cut; only the truth will do. Life's not about fantasizing. It's never the whole story; it can be a good part of it.

Sometimes, the lie is told to you by someone else. Cults and self-styled gurus especially use visualization this way. You are told to concentrate deeply on the word/lie, as a "spiritual technique" to get in touch with your supposed inner self. The lie gets taken down deep when it's used this way. Even a seemingly innocent word or image can become the highway for a collapse of resistance. Which is exactly what the cult wants.

It's in vogue right now to use visualization as a mind-over-matter concentrative technique. For instance, a cancer patient pictures the tumor, then pictures and directs the natural defenses or the drug rushing to it. Advocates of this kind of visualization believe that envisioning the healing process helps to bring it about. Lying behind this is the idea that the mind has the power to mentally direct the body's healing activities. The research on this is mixed, and is mostly done by those with an interest in showing its benefits. This kind of visualization, at least, does no harm as long as it's done with other treatments, and can help the patient feel like more of a part of the healing process, which itself may be of help. Mind-over-matter theories take a small truth (frame of mind affects overall health) and make a vastly overblown claim (that the mind can determine and direct one's health and bodily condition).

Others of a new-age sort think you help attain world peace by visualizing it. Get large numbers of people to visualize, they say, and it will sway the vast unity of all things that lies behind what exists. It's far better than visualizing war or terrorist attacks. (Sometimes visualization can become hostage to our fears.) But there are those who are hell-bent on making us think with hate and fear, and you won't visualize these guys away. You can't just pray them away, either. We not only have to pray for God to take action, we ourselves have to live right and live together as Jesus has taught us, in a way that responds directly to their challenge. And we can do that in unity with the visualizing new agers and anyone else who stands against terror.

Here's a page for learning about other techniques used as part of spiritual disciplines.

If I could only figure out why I keep visualizing watermelon...

What Is a Psychic?

psychic [ Greek psukhikos (soul-ish, of the soul) ]

  1. As a noun : a psychic is a medium or channeler through whom the dead or the other inhabitants of the spirit world are supposed to speak. As to what good comes from psychics, why is so much of what the supposed spirit beings say so shallow, trivial, and forgettable?
  2. Also as a noun, colloquially : a mind-reader or mentalist entertainer.
  3. As an adjective : paranormal matters of the mind are described as 'psychic' phenomena.
  4. Also used for those dial-up psychic services seen on TV. Those are (according to the fine print legal disclaimer) for entertainment purposes.

Found on line :
>>>> I almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met.

You can also check the dictionary for psychic things, or Wikipedia.

psychokinesis : mind over matter. It's when someone wastes their mental effort and time on bending forks instead of helping provide food for people who have no forks and have nothing to put on them if they did.

telekinesis: mind over matter. Moving some object solely by use of concentration of thought. See psychokinesis (above).

If I could only figure out why I keep envisioning bacon...