“Question of Astral Projection of Non-Believer”
March 14, 2014
I recently got the following email with the subject line, "Question of Astral Projection of Non-Believer." Due to my workload and the volume of e-mails I get I often can't address everyone who contacts me, but when possible I try to give a personal response, especially if I might help the person or spread some critical thinking. Often the queries I get provide insight into the psychology of eyewitness experiences of the paranormal.
Here's one example, and my reply.
"Here is a question for you. When I was 9 years old I used to get very sick. Many nights I thought I dreamt that I was getting out of bed and going to the top of my stairs in my house late at night. I would stand there and float down the steps and just hover at the bottom of the stairs. I would say to myself back, and in seconds be back at the top of the stairs, then repeat the float down again and again.
In later years I read Robert A Monroe's book, "Journeys out of the Body" where he describes how he 1st learned of it after also having many experiences doing the same thing. In later years while living in Philadelphia I woke up early looked at the clock, closed my eyes and got up out of my body. While looking at my body on my bed I said to myself, I want to go see where my stepbrother Alex lives in California. I then said I want to fly there. After several seconds of seeing that I was above the clouds I slowed down to hover above this hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Marin County California.
Later that summer I physically drove out to see my step bother and when my car approached the same hill I got out of my car completely astonished. It was the same exact place where I had astral projected to. I had never seen pictures of the place or had it described to me at all. After spending a few days there I was hiking with Alex for 2 hours down to the ocean in mid afternoon. On our way back to his house we saw a large barn owl fly into the top of a barn. He said to me why don't we get the owl to come out and talk to us. I asked how. He said just look at the barn and concentrate on the owl coming out and talking to us. We stared at the barn for a half hour so that everything became a blur. After an hour I said ok it didn't work, let go back to your house. He said ok. Just as we turned our back we heard this loud screeching and looked above us to see the owl hovering over us screeching loudly at us. It must of stayed above us for a minute and then it flew off. - It was the most amazing experience I ever had. And just to be clear we were neither intoxicated or high on drugs. So what do you think of both of these experiences?"
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I replied, "Thanks for getting ahold of me... To be honest I'm not quite sure what to make of your experiences. I wasn't there, and it's hard to know.... You don't say what Alex's house looks like, and of course many hills in that area can look fairly generic and similar (my grandfather lived in Mill Valley, and I spent a fair amount of time in Marin County). Unless you wrote down the description from your dream/astral projection and compared it to the actual site to verify its accuracy, it sounds a lot like the otherwise common phenomenon of deja vu, which is fairly well understood by psychologists and non-paranormal.
As for the owl, I'm really not seeing anything unusual in your account... you waited for an hour for the owl to move, and it just happened to move when you were getting ready to leave. I don't see any evidence of any astral projection or telepathy in that, but instead a normal coincidence. You should also realize that if the owl had been responding to your thoughts, presumably it would have emerged during the hour you were mentally encouraging it!
I'm certainly not dismissing your account or story, but that's the best I can offer without much more information. If I haven't answered your question hopefully I've given food for thought...."
He never replied, so I don't know if it helped or not, but I hope so.
#1 robert (Guest) on Monday March 17, 2014 at 2:14pm
The psychologist D. H. Rawcliffe included a chapter on alleged astral projections in his book “Occult and Supernatural phenomena” (the book was originally published in the 1950s) such experiences have been around for a long time, but there is nothing paranormal about these experiences. He wrote they could be explained by delusions, hallucination and vivid dreams amongst other psychological factors and as other writers have pointed out people end up believing in such things due to confirmation bias and coincidences.
I think it’s mostly a case of people looking for meaningful patterns when they are not really there. Richard Wiseman covers this in his book “Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There”.