Thursday, January 25, 2007
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Although I’ve used the word “psychic” as a catch-all for the nature of these accounts, I’m also including those improbable events we call “coincidences”, which many believe are not accidental.
I very much hope that readers will contribute their own stories.
First, to cite a common psychic experience, I’d be surprised if anyone reads this who has not thought of calling someone on the phone, perhaps even gone to the telephone, and then heard the ring as the other person calls. It's happened to me, I’ve watched it happen to people, and I’ve often been told about it – beginning with my mother and her mother, back in the years when a long distance call was a rare and expensive event.
For a start in the “coincidence” department, please read Rob’s comments on my previous post, which tell that a year after he’d last seen his former girlfriend, he encountered her on a shop’s fire escape! Don't miss his story.
I had a personal experience like Rob’s. I was teaching at a university in Ohio when I was in my mid-twenties. I became interested in one of my female students, and she seemed to reciprocate, but because I was married the attraction did not progress beyond conversations in the classroom area. It was frustrating because there were clear signs that my marriage would end in divorce. At the end of that semester my wife and I spent several summer weeks in Europe, including Denmark, where we went to the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen one evening. Amidst all the beautiful lights and crowds and even a witch on a wire shooting by overhead, we decided to go our separate ways for awhile and meet at a landmark. My wanderings took me to a narrow footbridge over some water. Halfway across I stared and almost lost my balance: My student from Ohio was walking toward me from the opposite side of the bridge. Isn’t that incredible? To meet not just someone I knew, but that particular student, on a particular continent across an ocean from mine, in a particular country on a particular little bridge at just that time. What came of it? Nothing. That’s a puzzling thing about this kind of event: Why does it so often lead to nothing more? One would think that it is a flashing green light saying, “Do this!” Maybe it is, and some of us just don’t obey.
Now, some psychic events.
I was on a British ocean liner with my then-wife when we took part in the grand prize final bingo game of the voyage. Before each bingo game the participants would go to the front of the room and file by, each picking up his card for the next game from the stack on a table. I suddenly had a strong feeling and said to my wife, who was already walking toward the table, “Get the next card! Go, go, go!” She managed to get that card. It won the grand prize.
A lesson in paying attention to psychic “flashes”: My wife was with me in the casino section of a cruise ship. She was neither a gambler nor a devotee of psychic phenomena, but as she looked at the spinning roulette wheel, onto which the croupier had just dropped the ball, she said, “17 is going to win.” I said, “Well, bet on it! Quick!” She kept hesitating, chips in her hand. She was very cautious with money. The wheel passed top speed. I almost pushed her toward the roulette table, but she thought it was “silly” . . . and then it was too late. The ball came to rest on number 17. You can make a lot of money betting on the exact number.
In the casino at Baden Baden a stranger tried to sell me his roulette system. To demonstrate, he stood with his back to a roulette table as the wheel was spun, and said, “36”. The number 36 won. I did not pay him to reveal his system, but I’ve always wondered how he did that. It’s possible, of course, that he conspired with the croupier, who could somehow “fix” the spin, but those large casinos are reputed to be honest.
In the casino at Oostende, Belgium, the first casino I ever entered, I witnessed one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. In the roulette area was a striking man who looked like something out of a comic opera – a bit short in stature, slightly stout, wearing the formal attire of a diplomat or a Russian count from czarist times, complete with sash and cummerbund and colorful decorations on his chest. He was playing roulette while a woman I took to be his wife sat at a table close by – stacking his winnings into piles. The man would stand close to the roulette table looking down at the wheel each time it was spun. He would lean over, staring at the wheel, his handful of chips poised, and at the last possible moment would slap the chips down. Believe me, he never lost! The croupier fairly often stopped him from betting because the ball’s orbits of the turning wheel had become too slow, and sometimes he simply backed away, but every time he did bet, he won. Of course he was betting on any of the varied bets one can make in roulette, which pay quite varied odds, but his success was so great that his wife’s once tidy table overflowed with chips. Because neither the count nor the woman displayed any particular emotion during the forty-five minutes I watched them, I got the impression that they did this regularly and regarded it as routine. No wonder he could afford such lavish eveningwear and she such jewels. Of course I assumed he was psychic, but I have also wondered if he had some physical gift of being able to see the numbers on the motion-blurred wheel when no one else could, along with the gift and of calculating where the bouncing ball would stop. I think the psychic explanation is less improbable than the physical explanation.
A few days ago my wife held up a newspaper picture of a house and said, “Guess how much they got for that?” I said the numbers that popped into my head: “425 thousand.” Exactly correct.
I will repeat: When I tell of an incident like that (and it’s not uncommon), I am not implying that I have some kind of special gift. I’ve always assumed that other people get the same “flashes” but that most people don’t recognize or pay attention to them.
When Carl Fletcher , a “spiritual medium” from England, visited Cassadaga I was so impressed by his public appearance and readings that I went to him for a private reading. He worked by listening to spirits which apparently conversed with him as he was speaking to me. Lest you have the image of a trance medium in a dark room, Carl and I sat in a sunny front room with the door open to the warm breeze, Carl wearing shorts, sandals, and a colorful shirt as befitted a visitor from the north of England in Florida. His eyes closing from time to time, he related at one point that “they” were telling him that I had some kind of problem with my refrigerator, with outside air getting in. “They’re saying that the door is open.” Well, Carl didn’t know it, but there were two refrigerators in my life – one in my new home in Deland, and the other in the former home in nearby Lake Helen, which was for sale. Although the house was on the market, the refrigerator was still in use. When summarizing my opinion of the accuracy of Carl’s work, I told him that the gasket on the Lake Helen refrigerator had been damaged and deformed on one corner, and that it might be letting air through. Carl said, “No, it’s not the gasket. They’re quite definite; they’re insisting that the door is open.” I went by the deserted Lake Helen house on my way home and found that the refrigerator door was standing a couple of inches open, spilling cold air into the kitchen. Some real estate agent who showed the house must have left it that way. Neither my wife nor I was aware of that situation when Carl’s spirits informed him, and so he was not “mind reading”. To say that I was impressed is an understatement.
I do hope that readers will send accounts of their own true experiences to this blog. If there are enough comments I’ll turn them into a post of their own. If you don’t want to be identified, be anonymous.
Please note: The comments on this post may turn out to be more interesting than the post!