Most people have experienced that eerie feeling of déjà vu which literally means ‘seen before’. For example, part-way through a conversation everything that’s being said seems strangely familiar. It’s like watching a film then suddenly realizing that you’ve already seen it. Except this is life. You’ve felt that lived these moments once before. It’s all happening again.
The psychic ability to see the past is called Retro-cognition. Also sometimes called postcognition, retrocognition is the psychic ability to ‘see’ an event has happened in the past. (The ability to see the future is called Precognition.)
FLIGHTS IN TIME
A classic example of déjà vu, where a person feels that they have witnessed or experienced a situation before is an example of retrocognition. Usually the sensation lasts only a few seconds but there are pathological cases on record where the subject has prolonged or even a constant feeling of déjà vu. The phenomenon is experienced occasionally by the majority of normal people usually under conditions of fatigue or heightened sensitivity.
Science still can’t adequately explain it this form of retro-cognition. One theory says that it is caused when one side of the brain receives messages a fraction of a second after the other. Or it may be that the déjà vu experience is a memory mix up caused when repressed memories surface. Some say that is simply that the experience reminds you of real part-recalled events like the infuriating act of trying to recall a name that’s on the tip of your tongue.
But how does science explain-away the experiences of people such as David Martin from Southsea in Portsmouth who told me about his déjà vu experience in Singapore? Whilst travelling through some unfamiliar terrain in a jeep with his friends he had a profound sense of déjà vu and soon realized that he ‘knew’ the unfamiliar terrain “At the cross-roads I said ‘Turn left here because just down the road is a lovely tea house. It has a large red sign and a large stone dog outside. When we approach a Malaysian girl dressed in black will wave to us.’
CRAIG DEMONSTRATES RETRO-COGNITION ON TV
“Everyone in the car laughed and reminded me that none of us had ever visited the area before. We turned left and there was the tea house exactly as I described it with the, red sign, stone dog and the Malaysian girl stood outside waving to us.”
David’s déjà vu, like thousands of similar reports, includes information about the future, a future that was to unfold only moments after he had made his prediction.
Similarly many people have told me how they’ve seen back through time and witness events from the past. These spontaneous uncalled for glimpses may explain some of the strange and consistent accounts of ghostly sightings.
I have been sent many convincing, strange stories that I’m beginning to believe that popular television programs such as Goodnight Sweetheart no longer as daft as they seem. Is it possible for ordinary people, who make no claim to psychic powers, to ‘see’ both the past and future?
Psychologist Dr Keith Herne is a member of the Society for Psychical Research and heads the BBC’s prediction bureau for the program Out of this World. “Premonition exists even though it defies the known laws of the universe.” says the eminent scientist, “Everything in the universe may happen all at once and our lifetime is but one segment of this wholeness. I predict that one of the most important questions for the science of the next millennium will be concerned with the illusion of time.”
It could be that precognition is an ancient instinctive warning signal and this may explain why it’s the threatening events ahead that are the most easily perceived. And for some people unwanted visions of the future can be very worrying. “I kept having terrible repetitive nightmares of a nuclear disaster by a tall tower” says Mrs Feist of Winchester “I would thrash in my sleep and was heard to call out ‘The Russians! The Russians!’
“The meaning of my nightmares was revealed on the television some weeks later. I saw on the News a picture of the very tower that I had just been dreaming about: The Chernobyl power station in Russia.”
But one of the most chilling stories of precognition was sent to me by Mr Lizakowski from Shipley in West Yorkshire. “In the early 1960’s I attended Cottingley Manor School and I remember how a schoolboy was describing a dream in the school playground to every boy or girl present there. ‘Peter will commit murder’ he said convincingly. ‘And it will be horrible! horrible! horrible!’ In distressed tones he said the words over and over.”
Nobody believed the boy’s terrible prophesy about their classmate Peter Sutcliffe.
CAN YOU SEE THROUGH TIME?
Over the years I have trained many people to unlock their powers of prophesy. At first my students believe that they have no special powers but with a little practice they quickly get sometimes quite startling results.
The most important key to predictive power is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Trust your intuitive insight. Don’t censor your thoughts. Allow your intuition to tell you what it already knows. You can see through time and soon you’re going to prove it.
The truth is, you already have the power to look into time. But you are unaware of it. With a little help and some deliberate experimentation you will see how easy it is to trigger these extraordinary powers.
First, you need to ask yourself the specially devised questions printed opposite. If you can answer yes to most or all of them you are already a long way down the path to seer-ship. Afterwards try the simple experiments printed at the bottom of this page to test just how right your powers to see through time are.
THE POWER OF PROPHESY?
Simply answer yes or no to the following questions:
- Have you ever dreamed of a future event and it’s happened?
- When visiting a strange place have you had a sense that you’ve been there before?
- Have you applied for a job and just known you’re going to get it even though the odds were stacked against you?
- Have you known, despite their abilities, that some childhood friends would do well in life and others fail?
- Do you ever know what somebody’s going to wear before you meet them?
- Have you ever cancelled a journey because of a gut feeling that something bad was going to happen?
- When playing card games have you ever anticipated which card will be drawn next?
- Have the News Headlines ever reflected your own misgivings about what will happen?
- Are you lucky with the National Lottery?
- Have you ever felt that a friend will unexpectedly get into trouble and they do?
HOW DID YOU SCORE?
If you answered no to every question, you’ve got a long way to go before being able to see the future. In fact, you may never experience precognitive thoughts because you’re resisting them.
If you answered yes to one to four questions, you have an average precognition ability. Given time, you could develop it.
If your score was between five and eight, you really do have a gift. Your mind is definitely receptive to future events.
Between eight and 10? You’re a regular Madam Za Za and can see the future but then you probably know that already!
Can you ‘see’ the past?
Many psychics and mediums believe that a stream of vibration emanates from everyone and is absorbed into the environment. When you visit an ancient building such as a cathedral you may become aware of these vibrations and feel this as an ‘atmosphere’. You can feel the holiness and peace of the place in your bones.
Most people use this sensitivity to the past when they buy a home. A place has to ‘feel right’ before you buy it. A ‘gut’ feeling tells you whether it ‘feels like home’ or has a ‘horrible atmosphere’. You are reading the vibrations of good or ill that once occurred in that place.
In the same way vibrations can be absorbed into objects like jewelry or a watch and can unlocked by a psychic technique called psychometry. An object held in the hand has the history of events that once took place around it.
Here’s a retro-cognition experiment to try:
1. Ask a friend to lend you a small object such as a watch or ring, belonging to someone they know. The history of the object should be known by your friend but unknown to you. You’re going to describe the life and character of the object’s owner.
2. Close your eyes, relax and allow your intuitive thinking to flow. Believe in yourself don’t worry about making mistakes. Say exactly what comes to you and don’t censor or interpret the images that you see. What is the first thing you feel? Is this a warm person or a cold, insensitive person? Is this person a worrier? Are they happy or sad? Shy or out going?
3. Now dig deeper. Describe any scenes and pictures that come to mind. Can you describe their childhood. What significant events have happened in their life. What countries have they visited? Do any other locations come to mind? In short describe a short history of their life. Let it flow. But don’t make predictions. Psychometry is all about reading the past.
5. When you dry up, ask your friend to tell you what percentage you got right. Ask them also about specific things you may have said. Psychometry is a psychic ability that most people can develop with practice and you may really surprise yourself with your accuracy!
Many ordinary people claim to have had spontaneous glimpses of the past. For some it is more than sensing an atmosphere, they see a whole series of events unfold just as if they are experiencing these things first hand. It may be that they glimpse into some other level of reality that is beyond time and space as we understand it. When I suggested that people write to my newspapers columns about their glimpses of history I was surprised not only at the size of my mailbag but the amazing vividness of the experiences described. The casebook that follow have had to be abridged but the detail reveals more about the writers’ reactions. Often they are puzzled or frightened by what happened and its clear that these bizarre stories are not made up. Something certainly happened but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if these people really are time travelers or just tricked somehow by their unconscious. The scale of the response to my request makes me marvel at just how commonplace these glimpses of history are. There’s an awful lot of time travelers out there.
Here’s a few fascinating examples from people who’ve written to me together with my comments in reply that explain what’s happened to them:
‘”I’ve just seen a lovely dinner service on a stand near the shop over there” said my husband as we looked around the local market’ says Beverley from Portsmouth. ‘”If we’re quick we may just be able to buy it in time.” As we rushed over to the stall, he told me that a strange old woman with long grey hair tied back ran it. The stall had the oddest collection of things for sale most of them from the 1950’s.
‘But when we got to the stall it was empty. Only seconds ago it had been full of wares. Perplexed by what had happened, my husband asked a man, who sat nearby selling his paintings, if he had seen the old woman and her stall. “I couldn’t understand why you were looking at an empty stall” said the man “And who were you talking to?”
‘Further inquiries revealed that the site of the stall was once owned by a little old woman with distinctive long grey hair. She had stopped trading in the 1950’s. Did my husband have a vision of the past?’
Beverley’s case is typical of the letters sent me on this intriguing subject of looking into time. Of course Beverley may have seen a ghost but strikes me as more like a ‘time slip’ It sounds like science fiction but there are also many well authenticated examples. For example, some visitors to the palace of Versailles near Paris have suddenly found themselves transported to the time of Marie Antoinette. Remarkably, the scenes these psychic time travellers have described could be checked and proved to be historically accurate. The details described by them about the palace’s layout are only known to the most knowledgeable historians.
Another explanation may be that these are not ‘time slips’ but unconscious memories of past lives. We’ll come back to this subject in a chapter later. Meanwhile consider Len Rodney’s story. Was this a time slip, clairvoyance, precognition or perhaps he’d once lived in Russia centuries ago? How would you react if this happened to you?:
‘While sightseeing in Russia fourteen years ago, I came across a large ornamental monument in a public garden.’ says Len Rodney from Manchester ‘As soon as I set eyes on it I had a strange feeling that I had seen it before. I stood for some time before I remembered. I had dreamed about it , in every detail: The black and white marble squares, the little arched wooden door at the top flanked by two colorful dragons that spouted water from their mouths to the row of white marble statues on either side of the monument.
‘In my dream I slid down the tiles and past the dragons. I wondered if I lived there in a past life and slid down those familiar banisters as a child? How on earth could I have dreamed in such detail of a place where I have never been before?’
Certain places give me an eerie feeling as if I’ve known the place before but can’t for the life of me explain when. Perhaps it’s caused by dim memories of our past lives that are trying to awaken since we crossed the river of forgetting or maybe we are picking up vibrations left recorded in the environment. Whatever the explanation an experience of this sort can shake even the most courageous of men:
‘While working for the Fire Brigade we were called to extinguish a fire at an old stone building that had long ago been used as a lodging house.’ says Harry MacMillan from Edinburgh in Scotland. ‘When we returned to the station we realized that we had left a shovel so I returned alone to get it.
‘As I stood in the silent, smoldering building I noticed an old wooden structure that must have been the serving area where the owner would have allocated the beds for the night. Suddenly I was transported back in time and actually saw the lines of flotsam and jetsam queuing up. I also heard many different dialects being spoken. Soon I became aware of the drudgery that these poor people lived with and sensed their presence all around me and felt a great sadness for these ghostly figures. The scene so engrossed me that I couldn’t even remember picking up the shovel that was now in my hand. This vision of despair was so powerful that it has stayed with me all of my life. I believe that somehow I had seen through time and I still shudder when I think of it.’
Harry’s experience reminds me of the well-known story from the West Country. In 1936, a sixteen year old, named Stephen Jenkins was exploring in Loe Bar in Cornwall where King Arthur is said to have met his death. He was astonished to see a host of medieval warriors in chain mail appear before him. Thirty eight years later he returned to the same spot with his wife and the same vision reappeared to both of them.
Some people claim that places such as Loe Bar are situated on the intersection of Ley-lines and are places of great psychic power. Ley-lines are lines of natural energy that allegedly run through the earth and connect ancient monuments. Maybe the building the Harry McMillan visited was also a place of great psychic energy.
Many Scottish people have written to my columns and I’m convinced that they are a very special people with a unique psychic heritage that stretches back way before the times of the Celts. Many great mediums were Scots but also many of my best letters came from the ordinary folk of Scotland. One of my favorite casebook letters takes us back to the early history of wild Scotland when witches, elves and fairies roamed the land:
‘In 1966 my wife and I decided to holiday at the Isle of Skye.’ says Earnest Rowe from Glasgow. ‘It was a late evening in August when we approached the bridge near Dunvegin. We came across an enormous number of cats. They were everywhere and there was even some jumping on to the bonnet of our van. I have never seen so many cats gathered together at one time, the road the bridge, everywhere was swarming with them. I said to my wife “We are surely reaching civilization as there are plenty of cats around!” Later we stopped at the local Inn and asked about the bridge. The landlord told us that it was nicknamed the Fairy Bridge and also known as the Bridge of Cats. Not many of the locals own cats today but years ago the bridge was the haunt of a witch. What we saw has been described by many a frightened traveler. Legend says that the mystical bridge is haunted by the spirits of the witches cats!
The sample casebook you have read suggest that it is possible for ordinary people to have glimpses of history. But far more often reported are reports I receive of people’s glimpses of the future. Of course my work, and the work of my wife Jane, often involves prophesy and there a great many cases I could quote where we have predicted the future with startling accuracy. However, what I’d like to show here is that the gift of prophesy is much more widespread than you may expect. All the stories that now follow are told by ordinary people who make no claim to having special powers. The casebook that follow are again just a small part of a huge mailbag that I’ve received on this subject. At the end of this chapter I’ve included a simple experiment that you can try for yourself to see if you too have the power to see the future.
Mediums are not in the prediction business but any information that is given them by the spirit world about the future is guided by the love of those who you know on the other side. Psychic predictions are not protected in this way and not usually as correct as those that come via mediumship. Untrained psychic powers can cause upset and I know of many professional psychics who make very frightening predictions for people. I fail to see what spiritual purpose this sort of undisciplined work has:
‘I called in on my best friend for a cup of coffee and a chat.’ says Elsie from Hampshire, ‘As I carried the empty cups out to the kitchen for her she said with a startled tone “I have just seen a funeral cortege follow you into the kitchen, but there’s no coffin, just mourners carrying wreaths at their sides!”
‘Oh Dear’ I replied and left it at that.
The next day my husband, who we assumed was perfectly fit, had a massive heart attack and died. Ten years before he had made arrangements for his body to be donated to science which meant that no coffin was needed. A memorial service was held and as the premonition had predicted, there was a line of mourners carrying wreaths but no coffin.’
Unfortunately it’s usually the bad things that spontaneous, uncontrolled clairvoyance reveals. Dreams are also a rich source of precognitive material but again tend be uncontrolled. Often the unconscious will tell you the gist of what’s going to happen but miss out essential components. Dreams speak to us in symbols, puns, metaphors and allegories and they use these same methods when they tell us about the future as the next casebook reveals:
‘I awoke from a vivid dream and told it to my husband so that I could put it into my diary later.’ says a woman writing under the initials R.D., ‘The dream was not pictorial; it was auditory. I had heard a name, NEVILLE, not that unusual, but I didn’t know anyone by that name. I had also dreamed of the poem ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’ by the poet William Wordsworth.
Three months later I joined a discussion group and was introduced to a NEVILLE WESTBRIDGE. We became good friends and his ideas had a very important influence on my philosophy of life. My husband has always been very skeptical about precognition but the accuracy of this dream has made him change his tune.’
I am always pleased to hear from the older generation who often come forward with some amazing psychic stories to tell. This is mainly because they’ve had a lot more experience, known the tragedy of bereavement and devoted time in their later years reflecting upon the meaning of life and what follows after death. I enjoy hearing of how psychic powers played a part in their lives during WW2:
‘At 9 years old I read a story book called ‘Poland- Land of the Rainbow’.’ says Sydney B. ‘I was transfixed and my imagination roamed the country as if I was there. For years afterwards the same strange name ‘Posen’ kept coming to my mind. I often heard the words ‘Posen, Posen, Posen’ being called out to me. I heard it in my mind but it was as clear as a real voice.
‘During the war I fought in Norway but was captured in 1940 and spent 5 years in various P.O.W. camps. In 1945 I was on the 1,000 mile death march from Poland through Czechoslovakia to Moosburgh Stalag 7A near Munich. During my imprisonment the Germans put us on a train to do a propaganda march around a town. The towns name was Posen.
From Posen we were taken to a near-by camp called Fort Winiary. I befriended a Polish girl in the kitchens who would give us extra food. One day she was able to get us an English book. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she gave it to me: ‘Poland- Land of the Rainbows’ – the very book that had triggered my obsession with Posen all those years ago!!’
It makes you wonder if our future is already planned. Even as a child of 9 something told Sydney that Posen would have a monumental impact upon his life. I’ve always believed that we have free will and that we’re given glimpses of the future so that we can avoid an adverse destiny. From an evolutionary point of view this makes sense as it would help the survival of our species. Whether there is free will or an unalterable destiny will always be a subject of debate and perhaps we’ll never know the answer for certain. The next two casebook are interesting examples of this dichotomy.
Joan M from Dundee wrote to say: ‘A couple of months ago, my husband woke up and told me that an old red Indian told him that ESHA NESS meant the “eye of the storm”. My husband guessed that Esha Ness was a race horse so we scanned the papers for days to see if it was running. We’d almost forgotten about the dream, when we discovered Esha Ness was running in the Grand National-so naturally we backed it. We stood to win almost £5,000 but that was the year that the Grand National was abandoned because of a false starting signal. Some of the horses ran unaware of the mix up and even though Esha Ness won we lost out.
‘My husband firmly believes that because he backed the horse, things happened the way they did. Can a person control fate in this way or is this just a bizarre coincidence?’
Many psychic people have spirit guides from the North American Indian tradition and I wonder if Joan’s husband’s guide was proving his reality by giving him the winner of the Grand National! I’ve certainly found that my spirit guides can play tricks in this way. For example I can sometimes stand in front of an audience and tell a string of people what six numbers they choose every week for the lottery. The odds for doing this are of course billions to one but can I predict the numbers for next week? No, not a single one. I can be very infuriating but I think that this says something about the nature of spiritual gifts: They cannot be used solely for material gain.
Perhaps what’s meant to be will be as the next casebook, sent to me by Miss Dolores G Edinburgh, may prove:
‘I dreamed of looking at a pools coupon and saying to my daughter “Oohh look at the strange way the draws have come up. They’re all at the bottom of the form!”. I told my daughter about the dream but nonetheless did my usual numbers that week. Then, yes you guessed it, the result was that there were 11 draws in the last 12 entries. I was upset of course but not for long. Two weeks later my regular numbers came up and I won £1,510! I believe that despite not following my dream I was meant to win.’
Maybe, if Dolores G had paid attention to her dream she may have won the pools twice! We’ll never unravel all the mysteries of destiny but I’m sure she deserves her good-fortune.
Of course prediction is one of the areas of Jane and my work that the newspapers are eager to tap although as I try to explain it is not the most important part of our work. When Princess Diana met Dodie the Sunday Mirror asked me to make some predictions about what would happen. I told the journalist various things that came yo me and said ‘But none of this may happen because Prince Charles is going to be involved in a serious car accident that will change the course of events.’
The journalist said that she couldn’t print this and I got it wrong. But a car accident did of course change the course of events but I’d seen the wrong person involved. Prediction and all the psychic gifts are so easily miss-seen or miss-heard. Here’s an excellent example sent to me that shows just how subtle clairvoyance can be:
‘I often have premonitions about events that I read about later in the paper.’ says Mr DP from Hampshire, ‘The most disturbing experience happened recently and while I was wide awake. All day long I kept hearing in my head ‘The Queen is dead. Long live the King!’ It ran over and over in my thoughts like a catchy song that you can’t get out of your mind. I was beginning to wonder if the Queen was going to die.
‘The next day it was announced that Diana had died in a car crash. Across Buckingham Palace was soon draped a banner saying ‘Diana- Queen of Hearts’. The Queen had died- but not the one I expected.’
Now try out another test and see if you too can see into the distant reaches of time :
Can you ‘see’ the future?
There’s a state between sleeping and waking that psychologists call hypnagogic dreaming. These ‘dreams’ are a flow of vivid but brief mental images and can occur just before you fall off to sleep. The images can sometimes have an overwhelming sense of reality, with much detail and supersaturated color. Some psychologists have pointed out a similarity between the images seen in a crystal ball and the experience of hypnagogic imagery. And, like the crystal ball hypnagogic dreams contain potent omens and visions of the future.
Harness their power and you can use your dreams to see the future. You can become the psychic newscaster.
Here’s a dream experiment to try:
1. First you must choose a target subject to dream about. Select something that you’re interested in but not emotionally involved with so that your inner hopes and fears don’t influence your insights. For this experiment we’ll try to dream about next week’s main news stories.
2. Put a copy of a newspaper by the side of your bed before retiring. Touch it so that you focus your attention as you prepare to go to sleep. Now ask yourself “What important news headlines will be in this paper over the coming week?”
3. As you drop off to sleep you will try to stimulate hypnagogic mental imagery and manipulate the visions. To stimulate this awareness it is important to completely relax but don’t let yourself fall to sleep straight away. The knack of hypnagogic dreaming is to hold your awareness between waking and the onset of sleep.
4. As you teeter on the brink of sleep watch your thoughts but don’t follow them. Be the observer of yourself. Instead of thinking in words, try to think in pictures. For example, you think “I ought to do the gardening tomorrow.” Convert this into a picture see the garden, the flowers, the sky. Gradually you’ll stimulate a flow of visual imagery. Many scenes and pictures will flash before your mind’s eye.
5. Now imagine a blank copy of the newspaper is in front of you. Next transfer the stream of imagery onto the white pages. By linking the images you are encouraging your subconscious mind to associate the images it throws up with the future headlines. You trigger your precognition.
6. Then imagine the images changing to printed words. Try to read them. At first you may just pick up one or two words. You may only see “Politician” but the next day you read “Politician in sex scandal with vicar” Now pull yourself back from your reverie and frantically write your predictions before they fade. .
7. If you see nothing let go, drop off to sleep and instead write your dream down in the morning. By programming yourself to dream of future events you most probably will. You may find an accurate prediction are contained in next morning’s dream as symbolic allegories of future events.
Retrocognition (also known as postcognition), is a term coined by Frederic W. H. Myers from the Society of Psychical Research. It comes from the Latin retro meaning “backward, behind” and cognition meaning “knowing,” and describes “knowledge of a past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.”
References and Works Cited
- Hamilton-Parker, Craig (1999) The Psychic Casebook Blandford/Sterling ISBN 0-7137-2755-1 (Languages: English, Turkish)
- Myers, F. H. W. (1903). Human Personality and its Survival of Death. London: Longmans.
- Gurney, E., Myers, F. W. H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living. Vol I and II London: Trubner.
- Emily W. Kelly and Carlos S. Alvarado. Images in Psychiatry: Frederic William Henry Myers, 1843–1901 American Journal of Psychiatry, 162:34, January 2005.