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St Matthew and the angel

Her Sweet Murmur: Exploring the Aural Phenomenology of Paranormal Experiences

This article is excerpted from Darklore Volume 1, which is available for sale from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

There are many exceedingly strange experiences which happen to humans, from interactions with paranormal entities and unidentified objects, to near-death encounters. These are often grouped together under the title of ‘boundary experiences,’ sometimes ‘Forteana,’ and sometimes simply as ‘the paranormal.’ But this grouping is generally one of convenience, and each element of this group is, for the most part, considered to be a separate area. However, this may not necessarily be the case, as a scan of the literature, and individual experiences, will attest.

In order to explore the topic with some precision, I would like to concentrate on one particular aspect of boundary experiences — the sounds heard by experiencers which accompany the phenomenon. Cross-referencing these seemingly disparate experiences via their aural aspects yields surprising results, with implications that are quite staggering for our modern conception of reality.

What Dreams May Come…

Let’s begin at the end, so to speak, with the near-death experience (NDE). Perhaps the man most responsible for the modern fascination with NDEs is George Ritchie, whose experience inspired Raymond Moody to write his seminal book Life After Life in the mid-1970s. Ritchie begins his account by telling of a sound:

I heard a click and a whirr. The whirr went on and on. It was getting louder. The whirr was inside my head and my knees were made of rubber. They were bending and I was falling and all the time the whirr grew louder. I sat up with a start. What time was it? I looked at the bedside table but they’d taken the clock away. In fact, where was any of my stuff? I jumped out of bed in alarm, looking for my clothes. My uniform wasn’t on the chair. I turned around, then froze. Someone was lying in that bed.

In surveying others who had undergone strange experiences when flirting with death, Raymond Moody found that certain elements were recounted over and over. From these accounts, he constructed an ‘archetypal NDE’ which contained all of these common elements — one of which was the sound component:

A man is dying and, as he reaches the point of greatest physical distress, he hears himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He begins to hear an uncomfortable noise, a loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time feels himself moving very rapidly through a long dark tunnel.

A survey of experiences shows Moody to be correct in including this as part of the NDE (though not ever-present, it certainly is prevalent). Beyond the whir/buzz/hum mentioned above though, there are also other sounds reported. Consider the following two examples:

I heard what seemed like millions of little golden bells ringing, tinkling; they rang and rang. Many times since, I’ve heard those bells in the middle of the night. Next I heard humming and then a choir singing. The singing got louder and louder, and it was in a minor key. It was beautiful and in perfect harmony. I also heard stringed instruments.


Vicki Umipeg also began to hear sublimely beautiful and exquisitely harmonious music akin to the sound of wind chimes. With scarcely a noticeable transition, she then discovered she had been sucked head first into a tube and felt that she was being pulled up into it. The enclosure itself was dark, Vicki said, yet she was aware that she was moving toward light. As she reached the opening of the tube, the music that she had heard earlier seemed to be transformed into hymns and she then “rolled out” to find herself lying on grass.

Similarly, the phenomenon of ‘astral projection’, often termed ‘out-of-body experiences’ (OBEs), is said to be heralded by sounds such as buzzing, roaring, humming, music, singing and voices. For example, one out-of-body experiencer related his ‘astral flight’ in these words:

I was in a meditative state, flat on my back, focused on my solar plexus. Suddenly there was a loud buzzing sound and what I perceived to be a rapid increase in my pulse rate; to a ridiculous degree. There was also a sensation of a rapid rushing wind that sort of rocked my awareness out of my body. I literally thought I was having a heart attack. When my awareness actually separated from my body and somewhat chaotically floated on the rushing wind to a corner of the room I was certain that I had died.

Any suggestion that these sounds have become associated with NDEs or OBEs through the spreading of modern NDE folklore (ie. via suggestion) can be discounted, as there are historical accounts of this experience, such as in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which explains that after the soul of the deceased separates from the physical body, it is likely that roaring, thundering and whistling sounds will be heard. The ‘practical’ exploration of the transition into the state of death was not peculiar to the Tibetans though, and we find another example in a passage from a Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri, in which the dying subject is attempting to ensure immortality or regeneration:

When you have spoken in this wise [magical names], you will hear thunder and rushing of the air-space all around; and you yourself will feel that you are shaken to your depths. Then say again: ‘Silence…’; thereupon open your eyes and you will see the gates open and the world of the gods within the gates; and your spirit, gladdened by the sight, will feel itself drawn onwards and upwards. Now remain standing still and draw the divine essence into yourself, regarding it fixedly. And when your soul has come to itself again, then speak: ‘Approach Lord!’ [magic words]. After these words, the rays will turn towards you; and you, focus your gaze on the center. If you do that, you will see a god, very young, beautifully formed, with flame-like hair, in a white tunic with a red mantle and a fiery wreath.

This passage obviously follows the archetype of the NDE — the hearing of strange noises, the feeling of the spirit being drawn upwards, and an experience with a divine light or being. However, the magical schema in which the above passage is rooted begs the question: is the NDE an experience unto itself, or part of a much wider catalogue of mystical journeys, available via other methods such as magical ritual, shamanic journey and even unwanted ‘intrusions’ from an external source?

To an explorer, a ship

To recap the sounds of the near-death/out-of-body state, we have specific, repeated accounts of:

  • Buzzing/Humming
  • Bells Tinkling/Chimes
  • Thunder/Rushing of wind
  • Stringed instruments
  • Choir/hymns

Any person that has studied border experiences in general should recognize these sounds as being common to multiple phenomena. Turning to shamanism, we readily find a number of examples. For example, consider Terence and Dennis McKenna’s description of the onset of a ‘magic mushroom trip’, from the book True Hallucinations:

But it was definitely at some point in time near to that conversation that I first heard the sound, immeasurably distant and faint, in the region between the ears, not outside, but definitely, incredibly there, perfectly distinct on the absolute edge of audible perception. A sound almost like a signal or very, very faint transmissions of radio buzzing from somewhere, something like tingling chimes at first, but gradually becoming amplified into a snapping, popping, gurgling, crackling electrical sound.

Terence McKenna also made much of ‘the Logos’: what appears to be an external voice, sometimes heard while under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. It is interesting to note some research done on the prevalence of this phenomenon, conducted by Horace Beach, Ph.D. In his paper titled “Listening for the Logos,” Beach notes that “one of the most interesting findings of this study is that in over 45% of participants’ total experiences with a voice(s) and psilocybin, sounds other than voices were present.” He goes on to list the words used by participants in describing these sounds: “high pitch, high tone, humming, buzzing, whirring, ringing, rustling, rushing water, howling, vibrations, whooshing, crinkling, insect-like, drumming, whirling-circular.”

Dr Rick Strassman, in his research into the potent hallucinogen DMT (dimethyltryptamine), catalogued repeated instances of ‘entrance’ sounds. “There was this loud intense hum,” said one research volunteer. Another, ‘Sara’ — who claimed to have been visited by an ‘angel’ once when she had a high fever as a child — said “there was a sound, like a hum that turned into a whoosh, and then I was blasted out of my body at such speed, with such force…there are sounds: high-pitched singing, like angel voices.”

Anthropologist Michael Harner described the onset of a shamanic journey via the DMT-containing brew ayahuasca with these words: “the sound of rushing water filled his ears, and listening to its roar, he knew he possessed the power of Tsungi, the first shaman. He could now see…” Cognitive psychologist Benny Shanon, recognized as one of the world authorities on ayahuasca, notes Harner’s description in his ground-breaking book The Antipodes of the Mind, and also relays his own insights about the archetypal nature of these sounds:

There are also specific auditory effects that drinkers of Ayahuasca commonly report. One effect, usually described as most annoying, is the hearing of a continuous buzzing sound inside the ears. Another effect is that described by many as ‘the sound of running water.’ This very phrase has been articulated by several of my informants and is also used by Harner; curiously, the ‘noise of great water’is also mentioned in the most spectacular vision described in the Bible, the Divine vision opening the book of Ezekiel (1:24).

It should also be noted that Shanon cites Goldman (1979) in saying that during the ayahuasca trip one may hear “music, the sound of people singing, and the sound of flowing water.” Shanon points out that the hymns of the ayahuasca-using Santo Daime Church are ‘received’ music — either via the intoxicated individual spontaneously composing, or alternatively actually copying music heard during the experience. He even relates a personal experience in which he was accompanied by “a grand choir of angels”.

Reichel-Dolmatoff says of the yage (ayahuasca) experience: “The hallucination has several phases, and during the first the person feels and hears a violent current of air, as if a strong wind were pulling him along.” Usage of Heimia salicifolia (sinicuiche), a plant that appears to have been used in Aztec rituals which contains the alkaloid cryogenine, is reported to sometimes be accompanied by a ringing in the ears which turns into orchestrated music — two sounds that are common to our investigation. Meanwhile, Paul Devereux, in his book The Long Trip, tells how during opium intoxication Reverend Walter Colton heard “harps and choral symphonies”. Interestingly, Devereux also relates that “the locations of oracles were often “hallucinogenic” in that they had roaring water or wind at them.”

Prophets, Mystics and Visionaries

Returning to Shanon’s off-hand comment regarding Ezekiel’s Biblical vision, we encounter yet another area to explore — the sacred ground of religious visions. This topic is often left out of paranormal investigations, though we are left to wonder why when there are so many parallels (Ezekiel and the ‘UFO’ is perhaps one of the more popular). Turning to the New Testament, we find this narrative during Pentecost:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1)

Enoch’s shamanic-like transformation also notes sounds:

As soon as the Holy One, blessed be He, took me to serve the throne of glory, the wheels of the chariot, and all the needs of the Shekhinah, at once my flesh was changed into flame, my tendons into a fire of glowing heat, my bones to glowing juniper coals, my eyelids to radiance of lightning bolts, my eyeballs to torches of fire, the hair of my head to glowing heat and flame, all my limbs to wings of burning fire, and my bodily frame to scorching fire. On my right were hewers of fiery flames, on my left torches were burning. There blew around me wind, storm, and tempest, and the noise of earthquake upon earthquake was in front of me and behind me.

Interestingly, considering the prevalence of the buzzing sound in multiple experiences, esoteric scholar Manly P. Hall cites Thomas Inman as saying that Beelzebub, “…which the Jews ridiculed as My Lord of Flies, really means My Lord Who Hums or Murmurs” (in the Bible, Beelzebub was an oracular deity of the Philistines).

Turning to Islam, we find the traces of these sounds in the very inspiration behind the faith, in the revelations to Mohammed from the Archangel Gabriel:

The Prophet heard at times the noise of the tinkling of a bell. To him alone was known the meaning of the sound. He alone could distinguish in, and through it, the words which Gabriel wished him to understand.

This is interesting — Mohammed hears the tinkling of a bell, but he “knew the meaning of the sounds”…distinguishing “in, and through it” the revelations from Gabriel. There may be a curious parallel here with the “Virgin Mary apparition” (and I use the term very loosely) of Fatima. In their book Heavenly Lights, Joaquim Fernandes and Fina D’Armada devote a chapter to the buzzing sounds heard by witnesses to the event. In particular, witness Maria Carreira relates that the buzzing seems to have coincided with the conversations between Lucia and the ‘Lady’:

We would follow the children and kneel in the middle of the field. Lucia would raise her hands and say, ‘You bade me come here, what do you wish of me?’ And then could be heard a buzzing that seemed to be that of a bee. I took care to discern whether it was the Lady speaking.

Maria subsequently described this phenomenon, from the June apparition, to another investigator with these words: “Then we began to hear something like this, in the manner of a very fine voice, but what it said could not be comprehended or put into words, for it was like the buzzing of a bee.” A month after the first event (the Fatima apparitions occurred on the 13th of each month from May to October 1917), another person witnessed the same effect:

After this question, she (Lucia) waited in silence for a short period of time, the time of a brief response. And during this silence, he (the witness) heard, as if coming from the oak tree, a faint voice, similar, he says, to the humming of a bee, but without distinguishing a single word.

Another witness described it as “the buzzing of a fly inside an empty barrel, but without articulation of words”, and on another occasion as an indefinable sound, heard throughout the duration of the experience, like that which is heard next to a hive, but altogether more harmonious. And another witness: “I thought I heard at that moment, a little wind, a zoa-zoa sound. While Lucia was listening to a response, it seemed there was a buzzing sound like that of a cicada.”

Buzzing was not the only sound heard at Fatima though. Fernandes and D’Armada point out that witnesses likened the sounds “to thunder, to rumors, to rumbling, to the clapping of hands, to the detonation of bombs, to the hiss of rockets.” For instance, one witness recounted that “when Lucia said, ‘There She goes,’ I heard a roaring in the air that seemed like the beginning of thunder.”

So what of other ‘Marian apparitions’? Consider the case of the “Virgin of Guadeloupe”, as related by Jacques Vallee:

[T]he apparition took place on December 9th 1531 in Mexico. it began with the ‘sweet sound of singing birds’ followed by a voice which came from the top of the hill. The source of the voice was hidden by ‘a frosty mist, a brightening cloud’. The technology of the BVM was at work!

And while speaking of Virgin Mary apparitions, perhaps the best known case is that of Lourdes. The seer who experienced the visitation in that case — the young girl Bernadette — mentions these sounds in her own testimony:

Hardly had I taken off my first stocking, when I heard a sound as though there had been a rush of wind. I looked around towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still. So I continued to take off my shoes. Again I heard the same noise. I looked upward towards the grotto. I beheld a lady dressed in white. She wore a white dress a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot…”

It’s interesting to note, in regards to this common ‘rush of wind’ sound, that there was an instance of this in the Fatima case also. In 1915, two years before the ‘famous’ apparitions, Lucia and her two cousins were said to have been taking shelter from rain in a small cave when they heard the rumble of a powerful wind and then saw a “youth of admirable beauty” who called himself the ‘Angel of Peace’. Jacques Vallee has pointed out the similarity of this particular apparition (and other ‘entity’ visitations) with the description in the Biblical Apocrypha of a young child appearing from a ‘bright cloud’ within a cave.

Before moving on to the next section, there is one final aspect worth noting. Both the Pentecost account, and the Fatima event, yielded ‘group’ hearing…that is, more than one person present ‘heard’ the sounds. This is suggestive of some objective source, and is something we will return to.

There’s Nothing New…

The phenomena discussed so far — NDEs, entheogenic experiences, magical ritual — largely suggest that these sounds herald the onset of an altered state of consciousness. This appears to be confirmed when we survey mystical traditions from around the world, most especially those from the East, which are already well ahead of us in describing these sounds in connection with altered states.

Beginning with the literature on kundalini, according to Sat Chakranirupana, written more than five hundred years ago by the Bengali yogi Purnanada:

The sleeping kundalini is extremely fine, like the fiber of a lotus stalk. She is the world-bewilderer, gently covering the “door” to the central Great Axis. Like the spiral of a conch shell, her shiny snake-like form is coiled around three and a half times; her luster is like a strong flash of lightning; her sweet murmur is like an indistinct hum of swarms of love-mad bees.

From the classic treatise on Hatha Yoga, Shiva Samhita, we learn of the ‘sounds’ that a practitioner is likely to experience:

The first sound is like the hum of the honey-intoxicated bee, next that of a flute, then of a harp; after this, by the gradual practice of Yoga, the destroyer of the darkness of the world, he hears the sounds of the ringing bells, then sounds like roars of thunder.

Another of the classic yoga texts, Hatha Yoga Pradapika, also describes sounds:

In the beginning, the sounds resemble those of the ocean, the clouds, the kettledrum and Zarzara (a sort of drum cymbal); in the middle they resemble those arising fromthe Maradala, the conch, the bell and the horn. In the end they resemble those of the tinkling bells, the flutes, the vina, and the bees.

Such examples are not limited simply to Eastern mysticism however. Peter Kingsley notes that the ancient Greeks also noted sounds during the transition between states of consciousness:

Ancient Greek accounts of incubation repeatedly mention certain signs that mark the point of entry into another world: into another state of awareness that’s neither waking nor sleep. One of the signs is that you become aware of a rapid spinning movement. Another is that you hear the powerful vibration produced by a piping, whistling, hissing sound.

And moving to Sufism we find this extremely accurate description of sounds heard during the induced altered states of that particular mystical tradition, as described by the Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan:

An adept who practices Shaghal, after some time will have an experience of that Shaghal during times when he is not practicing. He will hear sounds of the sphere in ten forms: in the form of the buzzing of the bees, in the form of the bells ringing in the ears, in the form of whistles blowing, in the form of the fluttering of the leaves, in the form of the running of the water, in the form of the sound of Vina, in the form of the cooing of the wind, in the form of the crashing of the thunder, in the form of the music of the spheres, in the form of the song of the angels.

It pays to revisit this final passage after reading the complete essay — Hazrat Inayat Khan obviously knew his topic!

UFOs and Aliens, oh my!

Surveying the topic of UFO sightings in regards to the sounds heard is problematic, not least because many UFO proponents will argue that the phenomenon has nothing to do with the paranormal, and that genuine (ie. unexplainable) UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin. Beyond that point, there is also no doubt many UFO sightings are actually of conventional or ‘secret’ (Earthly) craft. Therefore, roaring, buzzing and humming sounds could well be due to the propulsion systems of these craft (whether Earthly or otherwise). However, it is still worth surveying some of these sounds, especially considering the ‘high strangeness’ aspect of many sightings, which do suggest a paranormal origin. Researcher James McCampbell identified five distinct types of sounds emanating from UFOs in his survey of close encounters, which are strikingly familiar to the sounds we have been discussing:

  • Violent (roar, explosion)
  • Low Pitch (hum, buzz)
  • Rush of Air (whoosh, swish)
  • High Pitch (shrill, whistle)
  • Signals (beeps, pulses)

One such encounter, which featured two of the above sounds, is the UFO sighting of Charles Early. Early was raking leaves at his home in Greenfield Massachusetts, under a clear sky, when he heard a “swishing noise” as if a wind storm was coming. He looked up and saw two rings parallel to each other, one on top of the other separated by a distance of about 4 feet. He estimated the diameter to be about 30 feet and described them as “bright, like polished chrome” and tubular…Early said that when the double ring was directly over him it made a “humming” sound similar to the hum heard when standing under electrical wires.

In his book Forbidden Science, Jacques Vallee discusses the well-known ‘Affa’ case of 1954: A ‘contactee’, Mrs Frances Swan, told how she was in telepathic communication (via automatic writing) from the commanders of two alien spaceships (Affa and Ponnar). Vallee recounts that whenever Mrs Swan was in contact with the ‘aliens’, she would get a buzzing sound in her left ear “to indicate that they were ‘on the line’.” While this is interesting enough in itself, there was also apparent confirmation from the CIA and Naval Intelligence officers who interviewed Mrs Swan, who told of hearing these same buzzing sounds in their ears (though they did not receive any actual communication). Furthermore, when the officers asked to see one of these alien spaceships, Affa (through Mrs Swan) told them to look outside — and when they went to the window, saw a circular object in the sky.

John Keel recounts the tale of Mrs Malley, who was driving home along Route 34 to Ithaca, New York, at around 7pm, when she saw a red light following her — “a disk about the size of a boxcar, with a domed top and square red and green windows…and it made a humming sound, something like the vibration of a television antenna in the wind.” Describing the experience in more detail, Mrs Malley says “a white twirling beam of light flashed down from the object…and I heard the humming sound. Then I began to hear voices. They didn’t sound like male or female voices but were weird, the words broken and jerky…it was like a weird chorus of several voices”.

In a UFO and humanoid sighting report from 1914…

…the witness was at a local trash dump looking for old discards when he suddenly heard a “musical” humming sound. Turning around he then saw a strange craft hovering above a fence and partially above the street in front of a church. The object was gray in color with a high dome on top and a slight dome on the bottom. An opening, like two sliding doors, then appeared. Then two short figures emerged and took positions each on one side of the object, more came out until there were eight abreast.

Introductory sounds are especially the case with alleged ‘alien abductions’, an area which has already been associated with what John Mack called “intrusions from the subtle realms.” Karl Pflock described one of the original ‘abduction’ cases — that of Betty and Barney Hill — as being preceded by a sound described as a “buzzing vibration”. Brad Steiger too has mentioned the prevalence of buzzing and ‘rushing’ sounds in both UFO sightings and ‘entity’ encounters. He also compares the sound to that heard in poltergeist activity:

A number of revelators and UFO contactees have since mentioned to me that just before the appearance of an entity they were aware of a strange buzzing sound. Witnesses of unexplained aerial phenomenon have also referred to a buzzing or rushing sound shortly before the ‘flying saucer’ appeared over them. I am also reminded that great deal of poltergeist activity produces a preparatory ‘signal’ of a buzzing, rasping, or winding noise.

In their book The Unidentified, Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman also say that many contactees have reported a bee-buzzing sound that introduced and ended their encounters.

In the aforementioned book on Fatima, Heavenly Lights, Fernandes and D’Armada also recount a number of UFO/alien sightings which were preceded by a buzzing sound (often explicitly described, as at Fatima, as the ‘buzzing of bees’.) John Keel also notes the variety of noises heard, in his book Operation Trojan Horse. He points out that the well-known ‘high strangeness’ case of Joe Simonton consisted of ‘humming’ sounds and the sound of ‘wet tyres on pavement’.

Jacques Vallee has been perhaps the most instrumental in focusing ufological research on the fact that there are significant parallels with UFO/paranormal events and folkloric tales from around the globe — suggesting that this is a phenomena intrinsically linked to human existence. We also find more examples of these same sounds…

The Good (Bad, and Ugly) Folk

Entity ‘contact’ experiences certainly come with their share of paranormal sounds. For instance, consider this Mothman report. Journalist Rick Moran tells how he interviewed…

…an older woman who said she had encountered Mothman in her backyard. Her property was close to the boundaries of the TNT area and, hearing a buzzing or humming sound coming from the back of her home, she went out to investigate. It was mid-afternoon, and when she opened the back door she found herself face to face with Mothman, hovering about 10 feet in front of her. Her description was detailed, suggesting something more like a machine than an animal.

Consider too these other reports of entity contact: Near Croton Falls, New York, it was reported that “dwarf-like hooded beings” emerged from a shimmering circle of blue that appeared in an outcrop of rock “following a buzzing sound.” In a humanoid entity report from 1975, “Angelica Barrigon Varela and co-worker Remedios Diez were on their way to work at a local factory along the wall that divided the railroad tracks and the street when they heard a loud buzzing sound coming from the area of the tracks. Looking in that direction they beheld a bizarre creature floating and balancing itself above the railroad tracks. It appeared to be wearing a monk-like smock or coat, dark green in color that emitted intermediate flashes of light under the light rain.”

Another strange phenomenon which features ‘entity contact’ is ‘Old Hag’ syndrome (also known as ‘Night Terrors’ and by other names around the world). These reports, in which an experiencer feels a terrible sense of dread along with the realisation that someone is in the room with them – perhaps even on them – have been related to the condition of ‘recurrent sleep paralysis.’ This too is introduced by the same certain sounds:

A buzzing/ringing/roaring/whistling/hissing/high-pitched screeching sound in the ears sets in and becomes louder and louder to the point of becoming unbearable.

In the 17th century writings of the demonologist Fr. Sinistrari, we find this example of entity contact which happened to a young lady:

During the following night, while she was in bed with her husband and both were asleep, she found herself awakened by an extremely fine voice, somewhat like a high-pitched whistling sound. It was softly saying in her ear some very clear words: ‘How did you like the cake?’ In fear, our good lady began to use the sign of the cross and to invoke in succession the names of Jesus and Mary.

Turning our attention to the British Isles, there are a number of similar cases, and one particular (relatively) modern tale which may have profound significance for our investigation.

In Fortean Times #31 we find Janet Bord’s article on the curious case of the “Wollaton Park Fairies”, which occurred in Nottingham at the end of October 1979:

Several children returning home after playing, heard a sound like a bell and saw coming out of the wooded area about 60 little gnome like men with wrinkled faces and long white beards, they were about 2-foot tall and were riding small bubble-like vehicles. The beings rode over the swamps near the lake and some chased the children towards the gate of the park. Some of the humanoids wore red hats and green pants and seem to be laughing in a peculiar way. The children ran from the area.

Furthermore, in describing the Wollaton fairy event, Bord adds this seemingly innocuous footnote, based on its similarities to the Wollaton sighting:

Over six years before the Wollaton fairies were reported in the media, I had corresponded with Marina Fry of Cornwall, who wrote to me giving details of her own fairy sighting when she was nearly four years old, around 1940. One night she and her older sisters, all sleeping in one bedroom, awoke to hear a buzzing noise (one sister said ‘music and bells’). Looking out of the window they saw a little man in a tiny red car driving around in circles’. He was about 18 inches tall and had a white beard and a ‘droopy pointed hat ‘…he just disappeared after a while.

This sighting stands out particularly because of the detail that one sister heard a different sound. Different, but still part of the subset which we have been examining (and in view of this, adds some legitimacy to the story). This has the curious effect of making the sounds a ‘subjective’ experience (due to different perceptions of it), while seemingly coming from an objective source (as a number of people all heard a sound). Further to that, why did the sisters see the same thing, if it was a subjective experience? Interestingly, there are other accounts of groups of people subjectively hearing ‘paranormal’ noises, which are not to do with ‘entity’ contact. They are to do with death.

The Circle is Complete

In his books A Casebook of Otherworldly Music and A Psychic Study of the Music of the Spheres (both published by Anomalist Books), D. Scott Rogo recounts a number of situations which have a similarity to the fairy story above — in that the sound (in this case, music), is heard subjectively. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the tale of the final hours of the German philosopher, Wolfgang Goethe.

Rogo tells how two hours before Goethe’s death, the great German writer was visited for the final time by a ‘Countess V.’, who upon entering the house was dismayed to hear music being played at such a somber time. However, the music was not actually coming from anyone in the house:

“So you have heard it too?” replied Frau von Goethe. “It’s inexplicable! Since dawn yesterday, a mysterious music has resounded from time to time, getting into our ears, our hearts, our bones.” At this very instant there resounded from above, as if they came from a higher world, sweet and prolonged chords of music which weakened little by little until they faded away.”

However, the account tells how each person hearing the music disagreed with another on what it consisted of. The Countess described it as “a quartet playing fragments of music some way off”, Frau von Goethe “the sound of a piano, clear and close by”, while others heard “an organ, for the other a choral chant” and another a concertina.

There is a similar account in Sir William Barrett’s Death-Bed Visions, in which a husband and wife heard music/singing at the time of death (of the wife’s brother):

Mrs. Allen says the sounds she heard resembled singing — sweet music without distinguishable words — that she went upstairs directly she heard the music, which continued until she reached the bedroom. Mr. Allen’s impression is that the sound resembled the full notes of an organ or of an aeolian harp.

Rogo’s keen eye also recognized another similar example, though this time in the annals of mediumship. D.D. Home, one of the first mediums to be scientifically tested — and one of the ‘stars’ of the history of mediumship — was said to have encountered ‘psychic music’ throughout his life. One case in particular parallels the anecdotes we have mentioned above, and is recorded in Lord Adair’s book Experiences in Spiritualism with D.D. Home:

Almost immediately after we had gone to bed and put the lights out, we both heard the music…Home said that the music formed words; that, in fact, it was a voice speaking and not instrumental music. I could hear nothing but the chords like an organ or harmonium played at a distance.

Lord Adair’s account sounds extremely similar to the accounts of Mohammed, and Lucia at Fatima. Mohammed heard Gabriel’s words ‘through’ the tinkling of bells, while Lucia appears to hear the Virgin Mary through a buzzing sound. It is almost as if the strength of ‘signal’ varies from person to person, and only those with the strongest signal get the intended message…the others get the psychic equivalent of static.

Accounts of Home’s séances also mention the ‘rushing of wind’, with almost exactly the same results as those of the Pentecost (which I mentioned earlier):

Lindsay and Charlie saw tongues or jets of flame proceeding from Home’s head. We then all distinctly heard, as it were, a bird flying round the room, whistling and chirping, but saw nothing, except Lindsay, who perceived an indistinct form resembling a bird. There then came a sound as of a great wind rushing through the room, we also felt the wind strongly; the moaning rushing sound was the most weird thing I have ever heard. Home then got up, being in a trance, and spoke something in a language that none of us understood; it may have been nonsense, but it sounded like a sentence in a foreign tongue.

Note that here, like in Reichel-Dolmatoff’s description of the ayahuasca experience mentioned earlier, the ‘rushing wind’ is both heard and felt.

And to finish things off, here’s another example of the ‘rushing wind’ associated with contact with the dead which I recently came across in Archie Roy’s The Eager Dead. It was written by Jean Balfour as she sat at the bed of the former Prime Minister of England, Arthur James Balfour (A.J.B.), in his final days. The account of her death-bed vision was written in March, 1930:

A.J.B. had been a little better the last two days and was, I felt, when I glanced at his attentive face, deeply contented and absorbed in listening to the music he loved with his whole heart. The nurse, having fixed in the records, had gone downstairs.

I had, at first, simply an odd sort of feeling of expectancy, as though anything might happen, and presently I became aware with a sensation of a mighty rushing wind (which was entirely subjective, as nothing around me was even stirred), that the room was full of a radiant, dazzling light. This I felt rather than saw, as a blind person might do, and I started trembling. Now it seemed to me that there were people there too; they had no concern with me, they were invisible; but I knew that they were clustered about A.J.B.’s bed, and that their whole attention was concentrated on him.

In the words of Alice…curiouser and curiouser.

The Mystery Remains

What are we to make of this? We have numerous ‘boundary’ or paranormal experiences, all which appear to consist of definite sounds (enumerated previously in mystical literature, as above). What’s more, these ‘sounds’ appear to be subjectively perceived, but sometimes originate from some objective source, as evidenced by the group experiences.

There is some evidence to suggest that these sounds are caused by stimulation of certain parts of the brain. For instance, it is known that sufferers of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) also experience a remarkably similar set of sounds:

Simple auditory phenomena such as humming, buzzing, hissing, and roaring may occur if the discharges arise in the superior temporal gyrus; and olfactory sensations, which are usually unpleasant and difficult to define, can signal the start of seizures in the Sylvian region or ento-rhinal cortex.

The comment about olfactory sensations should not go unnoticed either, considering many paranormal encounters also involve smells (from sulfurous to the sweet smell of roses). Most readers will also be familiar with the research of Dr Michael Persinger, who claims to have elicited ‘entity contact’-like experiences via magnetic stimulation of the temporal lobes — in fact, Persinger’s modified motorcycle helmet, fitted with magnetic induction devices, has been nicknamed ‘The God Helmet’.

At face value then, it might be surmised that all of the experiences listed in this essay are simply hallucinations, created by a malfunction of the brain. But a closer examination prompts more questions. How do we explain the ‘group hearing’, such as that of Fatima? Persinger would have it that some electromagnetic field was present, affecting the brains of all that were in the vicinity, although varying depending on the exposure. But then how do we explain the Wollaton fairy report, or the tale of Marina Fry, who with her sisters saw the little man in the tiny red car. In both events, the sound was heard by a group, but the same thing was also seen — and in the case of Marina Fry, we have the added complication that the sound was heard differently.

Furthermore, the reports of celestial music at the time of death — again, heard subjectively — confound the hallucination explanation, and also Persinger’s EMF theory. Apart from some over-construed physicalist explanation (describing a state of group catalepsy or similar), there is a real possibility here that the explanation we must face is that there is another facet to the death experience (and also, obviously, to paranormal events in life) which is thus far unexplainable.

Such experiences lend weight to the idea that the brain is certainly involved in these border phenomena, but that it is mediating or receiving the experience, rather than creating it (as a hallucination). If so, we are faced with a real mystery — what is the origin of these various phenomena? Whatever it is, it appears to be connected to everything from UFOs and mystical experiences, right through to our fate after death. We would do well to pay more attention to the crossovers between the various branches of paranormal research in future.

  1. Altered States
    The last time this excellent article was posted I commented about my experiences since I was around 7 years of age that occur while I’m in the relaxed state either before going to sleep or upon waking from sleep. These include the vibrations affecting my entire body that feel as though I am bouncing up to 7 inches off my bed accompanied by a warm relaxing almost euphoric sensation that seems to enevelop and permeate my entire being. Sometimes these feelings are accompanied by a buzzing or one time loud pops as energy shot up and down my spine – similar to descriptions of Kundalini passing through the chakra centers. For many years these sensations scared me, eventually I became informed by the writings of Robert Monroe among others and accepted and embraced the experiences though they would come and go without control by me, disappearing for months or years in between.

    Here I’ll elaborate on 2 related experiences – I am waiting for the 3rd which is inevitable unless the first two were coincidences. The first was in 1995 or so – I was lying semi- awake during the early morning hours when the vibrations and euphoric fluid like sensation enveloped my body. It was different than any prior time by the addition of high pitched high frequency violin like notes within my skull – also included was low pitched grinding sounds. During these experiences I cannot move my physical body without the abrupt termination of the experience, yet I am aware of my physical surroundings through touch and sound at all times. My then girlfriend now wife was asleep beside me in our bed. As I lay there relishing this new element of the experience I felt the entire bed begin to rock and shake – separate from the vibrations I was experiencing internally. I knew instantly we were experiencing an earthquake but in my relaxed and heightened state was not concerned at all and did not react but rather stayed perfectly still so as not to interrupt the experience. I felt and heard my girlfriend waken and upon her realization we were having an earthquake she began telling me to wake up that, “we are having an earthquake.” I ignored her, but she persisted and eventually I sat up and said, “I know we are having an earthquake.” Of course the experience stopped instantly. It was around a magnitude 5 quake – not serious for southern CA natives.

    I thought about the association between the experience and earthquake and deduced my mind might have tuned into the harmonics or waves caused by the tension in the plates and translated that into sound – the violin notes and grinding within my head. I did not have a repeat of the specific combination of elements until several years later when the exact same elements occurred during the experience: vibrations, euphoria, high pitched notes and low pitched grinding – however no earthquake at the time. This was at night before going to sleep. The next day I told my coworkers about the experience and the prior one and said jokingly if we have an earthquake today I predicted it. Well later that evening we had another 5 point earthquake. So I presume my mind again picked up on the building tensions locally within the crust.

    Since that one we have not had an earthquake of 5 magnitude or larger where I live north of Los Angeles. I have no idea if I will have the another experience prior to our next big one, but if I do have another similar experience I can assure you I’ll get my wife and kids out of the house for the next 24 hours as a precaution with the big one long over due. I’ll also shoot off some emails of my prediction if I am forwarned just to document it…big if I know.

  2. A Ringing Success!
    Wonderful stuff, Greg – this’s your single most important piece of work, (in my estimation).

    It’s like Hamlet’s Mill – which I’ve read and reread god knows how many times yet always find something new to electrify me.

    In the future, thanks to ever more astounding revelations from technological innovations as yet undreamt of, people’ll still be plundering this thing long after you’ve started oscillating at a more ethereal range of frequencies than at present.

    I suspect the Frau Von Goethe quote about frequencies “resounding” in her bones’s may be a clue to some of this.

    Light and sound’re both regions on the spectrum of wavelengths, of course; but whereas light tends mainly to engage the eyes, (enthralling the brain and drawing the mind up, as it were, to higher, less physical realms), sound’s far more visceral, physical and can be felt pulsating through every part of the body, especially – in my experience – the bones.

    Maybe the one’s the the ‘higher powers’ taking us up to THEIR ‘higher’ order of existence, the other’s the ‘higher powers’ coming down to OUR ‘lower’, more matter bound order of existence?

    I’ve always been struck by how in Germano-Scandinavian mythology the guy who’s in charge of accessing the three world levels Heimdall’s famed for his phenomenal hearing but has the rainbow as the means of performing his office – it’s almost as if back then they too had the understanding the colours of the rainbow represented a rising or descending scale of frequencies.

    Maybe Heimdall was also a synaesthestic.


  3. Brilliant work
    Thank you for this, it was a very enjoyable read. I have seen strange things in my dreams and felt the vibrations, just not as often. I seem to have a strange connection to the other side. when I was a very very young child i remember playing with an old women on Christmas day. Several years later when I asked my mother about the women, she had told me it was my grandmother (her mom), who had died several years before I was born. There are many people I have met in my life, specifically in recent years, who I can clearly say were not “human” if you will. I seem to be able to tell if you have a higher spiritual power/spirit/essence than the ordinary individual. No I’m not a psychic, or whatever, but I seem to be able to sense the presence of these frequencies before and during their occurrences.

  4. Just to be fair
    While this is a wonderfully compelling subject, I feel it must be stated that none of these auditory phenomena preclude these experiences being purely the result of psychological processes.

    The fact that certain specific auditory aspects accompany these experiences might well, in fact, belie that they are emanations of the conscious and unconscious mind.

    It is quite possible that one way to tell experiences of genuine qualia (outside interactors) and internally generated perceptions (hallicinations, visions, etc…) is by the presence of these auditory phenomena.

    As well, the fact that most of these stories stem from devoutly religious people whom are experiencing a physical manifestation of their enculturized beliefs also points to a neuro-physiological origin.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stating anything unequivocally. I’m just saying that the data is empirically insignificant in either direction, but that Humans have an innate tendency to attribute readily unexplainable physical phenomena to metaphysical origins.

    The history of science is rife with these sorts of things. Still, this is a fascinating subject.

    1. Physical Phenomena or Metaphsycial Origin
      Where exactly does the physical end and metaphysical begin? Our definition and understanding of science is limited to what we know at any given time – the boundaries presumably ever expanding. It seems the more we learn in science today the more it leads us back to metaphysical phenomena and the spiritual.

      Part of the problem with research into this area is the lack of open-mindedness and preexisting belief systems. The physical world does not have to preclude the metaphysical or spiritual realm. And any insight or experience into the spiritual can only be had by us through our physical bodies resulting in the information being filtered and interpreted by us according to our predetermined belief systems, religions, desires, etc…explaining why a Christian and Buddhist may both receive the same information and yet perceive it quite differently due to it being filtered and interpreted through their physical senses and mind.

      Evidence for these experiences being more than mere visions, delusions or psychological manifestations exists in third party corroborations or repeatable results as is done in science – e.g. if I experience for a third time the musical notes and grinding sounds immediately prior to a localized large magnitude earthquake and am able to document it ahead of time. Evidence also exists in the obtaining of information unknowable through any other means such as has occurred in near death experiencers many times over. This of course still does not prove the spiritual OR it could be the result of the quieting of the physical and awakening of the spiritual that happens to be able to receive such types of information.

      Non-experiencers of these types of phenomena mostly write it off as delusion or fraud, as I do of most stories I hear told by others. It is hard to remain open-minded with all the baloney that exists alongside the sincere stories. Yet I come back to the question – why does the physical and metaphysical have to be separate and divided with a physical explanation disproving any metaphysical element or part? Even with my many experiences I still struggle to believe in the spiritual – clearly open to the possibility there are purely physical explanations for all that has occurred. But the difference is I choose to stay open-minded and to pursue the truth knowing that we all discover it in the end – one way or another…

      1. I agree. Speaking for myself,
        I agree. Speaking for myself, I’m a pretty diehard monist. However, a monist view is counter intuitive. It’s not natural. It’s a discipline that has to be developed. Our intuitions tell us that there is a wall between the explainable things and the unexplainable, and that this wall is fixed somehow. Meaning there are things which are beyond the physical, that science cannot explain, and I disagree. There is indeed a wall between the explainable and unexplainable but that wall has been constantly pushed back since humanity first came to be. What was metaphysical 2000 years ago is now understood as physical. nanotechnology, just a mere 20 years ago, would have been considered the realm of metaphysics – that which we can imagine to be, and what we postulate to be, but what we cannot verify empirically. That’s the job of science, and for the most part it has done a pretty god job. Even with those phenomena that lie outside the accepted paradigm. Evidence eventually builds up and the paradigm shifts. Vis-a-vis, Thomas Kuhn.

        Right now there is a lot of emerging scientific study of phenomena like the above article, and other aspects consciousness. The work that’s been done with NDE’s, much of which I’ve seen posted here, is quite astounding. And what’s even more amazing is that much of what NDE, and the noetic transformative, research is discovering lines up with advances in neuroscience and the discoveries of the mainstream academic empirical approach to the science of consciousness.

        All that being said, however, the fact remains that the observational, empirical, methodology of science is still our best tool for determining the nature of things, and my original post was just an attempt to be fair to the data presented. I certainly wasn’t trying to ridicule or to mock the ideas presented. Yet, I saw a weakness in the data provided that I thought worth mentioning. That’s all.

        Now, to answer your question: I don’t think there is an actual barrier between the physical and metaphysical. It’s a barrier of perception and intuition. From a philosophical standpoint I would argue that our universe is panpsychic, and that, as David Chalmers also says, consciousness is a fundamental aspect of the universe. In the same way matter and magnetism are. Whether or not we choose to call that fundamental conscious energy our soul, and the entire universal mass-consciousness as God, or Logos, or the Divine Source, etc… makes an important difference. When we start labeling what that unknown is, before we understand anything about it, we make the mistake of creating a false paradigm. It’s as if starting a simple algebra problem with the idea that X = 2, before even attempting to solve it. And this is exactly what the Cartesian materialist approach has done for us. A phenomenon that philosopher Dan Dennett refers to as “Cartesian Theater” – the “persuasive image” of consciousness that continues to haunt our culture. Anything metaphysical has been turned over to the realm of philosophy and religion and is scoffed at and derided by the empirical sciences. Yet, times are changing, and it was never the scientific method that was the problem, only the scientific paradigm.

        1. Interesting points.
          I like

          Interesting points.

          I like the note on the Cartesian theatre. What do you think are the implications that OBE and NDE possibility has for the location of the processing of information? If people are experiencing visual and auditory sensations without the visual and auditory cortex’ then to me it implies that information processing ability has been carried along elsewhere. In this case we seem to be led down the argument that the region that processes this information is not the brain, or at least if the consciousness is information processing insitu then we are doubling up on features if the brain does it as well. I’m just wondering how close we are getting to a doubling up on features argument here if people ever want to go down the road of ‘yes, it’s the brain doing the work, but some type of ‘soul/consciousness energy’ can survive outside the body’. Where is the information processing occurring?

          Especially if you consider that the argument that the brain is doing a quick ‘super-processing’ of all this experience at the point when the person comes back to life (heart starts pumping again etc) is refuted and it is being claimed that the experiences are definitely happening during bodily death. I wonder what the implications for the site of information processing are in this hypothesis. (im thinking about quantum consciousness here).

          I like some of the NDE experience, but I am a little cautious. That book that was written using the online study of peoples experiences; I went and looked over the study questions. When I was in my late teens a friend of mine was driving and we had quite a nasty car accident. The car left the road and was flipped at motorway speeds (70mph) over a hedge. We rolled about 6 times or so. Time slowed down, I felt calm and was able to move around inside the cabin as the car rolled to avoid the hedge that we dragged with us, which kept pushing through the missing front window space as we went from roof to wheels and back again, and from light to dark as we were left staring at the street lights or the muddy field. I did feel a sense of peace and calm, not on the first flip, but it settled in after the second or third, even though I completely expected to die (your sort of programmed that if you have an accident above 70mph your going to). Going through the tick box’s and description box’s I could have ticked quite a bit that was being used as suggestive evidence of NDE’s and I was left sort of feeling like although he was gathering data he wasn’t actually showing very much.

          This post is long enough now – I’m trying to cut down. Just to say that I think your right, there is no barrier between the physical and metaphysical, just between language and how people use it to justify what they want. So if you take postmodernist language you find trends of self justification that are independent of the evidence, for example, even though there are evidences we can agree on, such as germ theory.

          1. this is interesting by itself,
            [quote=daydreamer]Interesting points.

            When I was in my late teens a friend of mine was driving and we had quite a nasty car accident. The car left the road and was flipped at motorway speeds (70mph) over a hedge. We rolled about 6 times or so. Time slowed down, I felt calm and was able to move around inside the cabin as the car rolled to avoid the hedge that we dragged with us, which kept pushing through the missing front window space as we went from roof to wheels and back again, and from light to dark as we were left staring at the street lights or the muddy field. I did feel a sense of peace and calm, not on the first flip, but it settled in after the second or third, even though I completely expected to die (your sort of programmed that if you have an accident above 70mph your going to). [/quote]

            I was 19 when I had a very nasty accident at 110mph in an old car with no seatbelts. What I find interesting is the assumed slowing of time. I personaly feel that the time is normal but our preccessing of the experience has spead up. The enitial impact and the second after is like a reprogramming time for us and then we are in this kind of super speed proccessing. When I was in this mode I did not feel pain although I was injured badly. From the outside this accident would of looked very bad and would off happened in a moment but to me it seemed like 5 to 10 minutes. When the windscreen smashed, It looked very strange as it took quiet awhile to do so, and it wasn’t laminated.

            The calm thing was interesting, like it was happening to someone else but your in their body looking out.

            It would be good to get other peoples experince in accidents to see if we have similar thoughts.

  5. Time Slowing
    I too experienced the extreme slowing of time during a perilous momeent while driving – back when I was 18 years. Driving too fast on winding Mulholland Dr, 2 lane road, shear cliffs on either side – one up one down, two friends in the car with me. Lost control ended up spinning and ultimately stopping facing reverse with the tail of the car up against the up side of the cliff.

    From the moment I started to lose control the speed slowing began. My fear was replaced instantly with overwhelming calm and mental clarity, time slowed so that probably 15 to 30 seconds seemed like a minute or longer. First the car skidded toward the cliff side, so close that I was looking out the open window over the edge of the cliff with inches to spare. I spun the wheel and my little Datsun B210 with razor narrow tires spun the other way taking me back toward the cliff before spinning 180 to end up facing the way we’d been traveling before stopping. After another moement time returned to normal and the silence was broken by our nervous laughter of relief and we continued on our way.

    My thoughts on the perceptual phenomenah of slowed time is that obviously time does not slow – rather our perception of time speeds up so intensely in times of great stress that our ability to perceive, analyze and process information is many times greater than normal. I’ve often wondered how cool it would be to achieve that state at will, but clearly one would probably burn out their brain if this temporary and extraordinary condition were sustained beyond a few moments. What is of more interest to me is the calm that accompanies these most terrifying moments – replacing the fear that precedes the calm. Clearly some type of hormone reaction the body has developed similar to the fight or flight syndrome. In the end I am grateful for this evolutionary development and find it fascinating.

    1. very similar Greg H
      I have had the same thoughts as you about this speeded up ability. It does show us one thing, we are capable of intense processing of data when we need to. Super strenght is another capability that many have showen in situations. If we can do it then, we can do it now, just need to find the trigger.
      If the brain is capable to process information in such a way that our perception of time is changed then if there was a drug or something similar we could achieve a lot of things. Certainly would create a super soldier but better it would be used for, say surgery.

    2. I agree Greg. I think i’ve
      I agree Greg.

      I think i’ve read somewhere that the reason it is so hard to swat a fly is because their neural frequency (so to speak) is higer than ours.

      There are a few examples of ‘super-abilities’ like these. As mentioned super-strength is one.

      From what i’ve read about the super strength it also occurs at times of mental duress, though of course we could also say that mental duress is also physical duress since the physical stimulae (sound, sight, touch etc) are resulting in physical changes in the brains processing.

      Our muscles can operate with greater strength than they normally do, much like operating hydraulic equipment with the safeties turned on or off. You can often push machines harder than they are normally designed to go. Our brain seems to be able to do the same. With super strength it can turn off the normal safety system and let the muscules operate at full strength, but risk pulling themselves apart doing it. So occasionally we do hear stories of people lifting their cars off of their children, but the journalists are typically pretty poor at checking up later on whether the person suffered serious muscle pain, time off work, back damage etc etc. So i don’t think a drug or meditation to enable us to do this would be a very good idea!

      People sometimes report seeing only in black and white during car accidents and periods of ‘slowed time’ and the brain seems to direct processing power to only those places needed at the expense of others during these periods of near death crisis.

      This gives us an opportunity to propose a hypothesis. That the calmness being felt is due to the shifting of processing power rather than some sort of inherent calmness in the experience.

      Perhaps their was an evolutionary pressure on the appearance and use of this ability. I can imagine that in the brief few seconds that you have a window on survival and the altered processing patterns to maximise your chance of survival it would be un-beneficial if you were to spend the time panicking. So i can imagine that evolutionary pressure would select for genes that coded for shutting down the bits of the brain responsible for panic.

      If the system is well enough evolved to power down colour vision then i imagine it has had the time and evolutionary space to play with many other features as well.

      I did struggle to imagine that this might occur often enough to provide a real evolutionary advantage in survival, but given the number of deadly circumstances our distant elders (over the past 2 million years) probably had to endure the recent use of this neurological feature in car accidents is a rather recent advantage i would imagine.

      Still, all that offers a possible explanation for the calmness felt during these circumstances.

  6. Intellecutal musing vs practical mysticism
    “Drinking tea and talking about drinking tea are not the same thing”
    – Lao Tsu

    Intellectual analysis of phenomenon like this is great, but has such an obvious built in limitation that I wonder why people indulge in it without devoting at least an equal amount of time to developing their own ability to have such. Half the amount of energy spent on theorizing could be spent in self development exercises that would bring on the direct personal experience of what they seek to understand intellectually.

    I’m not at all suggesting that Greg does this, but many of my friends do:

    Claim to know better the experiences of other men that they have never had for themselves! This is the height of arrogance. They claim “objectivity” as their shibboleth and excuse for not developing themselves psychically, but really it is an avoidance mechanism. A fear of learning that there may actually be more to their consciousness than their precious neurons.

  7. And that is the ultimate
    And that is the ultimate challenge – to learn to manifest and experience the phenomena yourself. Who doesn’t want that experience – at least of those who are regular readers of this site? Clearly we all share a common interest in phenomena on and beyond the border of accepted science. Yes – I’ve spent my lifetime (I’m 43) dabbling in all matters of psychic phenomena. I’ve been drawn to it as long as I can recall, and of course as my first post indicated have naturally experienced the vibrations and sounds since I was around 7 years of age on an intermittent basis. At first bewildered by them, then in fear, then discovered Robert Monroe and Journeys Out of Body and through that book found an explanation that satisfied me of their source and nature. Since the vibrations came only intermittently, unexpectedly and spontaneously it took years to undo my learned reflex of shutting them down, culminating eventually in what I believe was my one true out-of-body experience.

    I wrote of that one time previously – I rolled out during the vibrations and in contrast to my expectation of floating upwards and being able to see I fell, in blackness unable to see. Eventually the falling stopped and I found myself in a room I perceived to be my apartment – though it was different. I moved to a mirror and looked at my reflection and saw I appeared to be surrounded by an an iridescence of colors – like a butterfly’s wing in the sunlight. I pressed against the wall expecting to be able to push through but found it solid to my surprise. I surveyed the room and saw at the end my then girlfriend (now wife) sitting up in bed doing something. As I moved to go to her two unseen figures unexpectedly restrained me from both sides and I immediately blacked out. I awoke the next morning perfectly remembering the experience up to the point of blackout – as I was always acutely aware of my physical surroundings through feel and sound during the vibrations (not asleep)and the out of body experience was an extension of those – so not a dream or lucid dream. (I also regularily had lucid dreams all through my teens and early twenties where I’d awaken inside the dream and manipulate it – a totally different experience than the vibrations or this one OOBE.)

    Since that time, the vibrations have been rare – making me wonder if maybe my restrainers didn’t do something to keep me from returning to that state as though possibly I was not supposed to be there or interfere with my wife in her condition – that condition being the concept that while asleep she/we all leave our body in astral (or preferred term?) form to continue our experiences/education before returning to the physical and waking. Yes – though I believe there is primarily a physical explanation for slowing of time during critical moments such as car accidents, I also believe – or rather choose to believe we are far more than our physical bodies and that the physical is the fallacy, the dream, the inconsequential ephemeral experience and that what lies beyond the physical is the true nature of humans or rather our soul inhabiting our human body and true purpose of our existence. It is rough that learning to manifest and control the glimpses into this realm beyond our 3-dimensional reality is so difficult, time consuming and the results so fleeting. I’m open to any suggestions anybody has to expedite the educational process of initiating and controlling these experiences – but for me until now they are intermittent, unexpected and fleeting.

    1. her sweet murmur
      Just one Near Death Experience from Ireland and an Irish source to begin with.

      One of my cousins have cardiac problems, once while on a visit to his family doctor, he had a heart attack in the doctor’s surgery. ( best place to have one outside of a hospital!) He was a recovered alcoholic and did not have a particularly happy life, divorce and all the rest.

      Well before the ambulance arrived he was standing outside his own body and the overwhelming sensation that he felt was not fear but peace. He had accepted the fact that he was dead and that was it! When the ambulance arrived ( Hospital a half hour away) he watched himself being stretched on and also went in where he watched the attempts to bring him back to life.

      He objected in rather colorful language but could not get through. His body still in a coma he see this unloaded and rushed into theater, there he again objected to attempts to revive him…… or destroy his new found peace as he see it!

      After a short while he became aware of the ‘tunnel of light’ although all there seemed unaware of it, he knew he should enter and did. As he went in he began to review his life, the lost drinking years, the problems he caused his children and what he did to help each get their own houses etc. to make up once he got sober. These were things that he had come to terms with in his AA program prior to this anyway.

      A waiting figure had appeared at this stage and as he moved towards still experiencing total peace he thought of his grandchildren, he was had not been there for his children but he could for them. For the first time he hesitated and had doubts about his death. Immediately the figure, that he felt was loving, raised a hand palm extended in a ‘stop sign’.

      He went back and was hit by a feeling of intense sadness regret and sadness as he did so. He then ‘blacked out’ as he described it and came to awareness in his body on the operating table.

      Shortly after he was released from hospital we had a long talk about it. For him all fear of death was gone. While he has no doubt that he did the right thing a decade ago to return to earth life, he is still haunted by the perfect peace he then experienced. To quote himself, ” dying is easy, it is living that is bloody hard “!

      This is but one of a number of Near Death experiences that I have heard of first hand and it is one that I believe the recipient experienced exactly as related to me.

  8. Hearing voices in relation to hearing sounds
    While this thread focuses on ‘sounds’, a related recent book should prove interesting to all who have chimed in on this blog entry; “Muses, Madmen and Prophets, Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination” by Daniel B. Smith, Penguin Press, 2007. Smith’s father heard voices all his life and this book is the author’s attempt to research and understand the phenomenon that he lived with growing up. A good review of the book can be read at:

    1. Thanks
      [quote=tmckamey]While this thread focuses on ‘sounds’, a related recent book should prove interesting to all who have chimed in on this blog entry; “Muses, Madmen and Prophets, Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination” by Daniel B. Smith, [/quote]

      Thanks for the tip – that looks fascinating.

  9. Auditory Phenomenom or Hallucinations?
    tmackamey recommended the book: “Muses, Madmen and Prophets, Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination” by Daniel B. Smith – I read the review on the link, does seem like an interesting and fitting read for regulars of daily grail. I do question though the title and implication in referring to the phenomenon as “auditory hallucinations”.

    Hallucination generally refers to a an experience caused by a disorder and is an illusion or delusion – meaning it does not exist and has no foundation in existence except for the imagined event. This is most likely true for a percentage of experiences. However if one excepts that only auditory and visual experiences stimulated by accepted physical causes are real and the rest are hallucinations – than you automatically eliminate any possibility of paranormal phenomenah, physics beyond our current understanding that may explain these phenomenah, any spiritual realm, the existence of our uncounscious and it’s ability to work out problems and influence and commincate with our conscious mind, and also you eliminate the possibility our brain of which we use a fraction of its resource has the potential under certain conditions to tune into different energy levels either within our own body or outside our body and interpretate those to our conscious mind. Having experienced not voices, but the sounds and other experience described in my prior entries on this subject – I can assert I was not hallucinating as these only occur under certain physical conditions while my body is relaxed yet my mind is alert and the commonality and repeatability of the experiences over 30 years indicates a consistent underlying cause that my conscious mind interprets as vibrations, popping sounds, rushing sounds, music, etc… The point is there is a source beyond misfiring neurons in the brain for these experiences that simply because science cannot yet identify or understand does not automatically disqualify them as a disorder, illusion, delusion – meaning hallucination. Rather they are currently unexplained phenomenah that are as real as the sound of a hand knocking on a door, just not yet understood.

  10. This is a very interesting
    This is a very interesting article. I am not sure whether I should really place it as a near death experience (as I do not believe I have been close to death), but I have experienced something similar to what has been described here.
    Throughout my life whenever I have a fever of 102 or higher, I have the same recurring dream. It’s a hard thing to explain, but I get this feeling that there is something so large that I can’t comprehend it, yet extremely small at the same time. Almost like a telephone wire. There is such an incomprehensible amount of information flooding through the wires, yet the wires themselves are very small. There is also a wooshing sound and I get the feeling that I am traveling inside the wire towards something. Whenever I get near the end I hear my name being called. Sometimes it is urgent, other times it is a very soft voice. At that point I usually become very confused and instead of traveling through a wire, my consciousness is back in my room just floating around and I eventually start feeling a little less confused as my consciousness drifts back into my body.
    I have asked others if they’ve ever experienced this when they have had fevers, but the only one who has every described anything similar to this is my oldest brother.
    I do hope that this phenomenon can someday be explained, as it has been puzzling me for years.

      1. The Voice
        [quote=red pill junkie]When you hear your name being called, can you determine the gender of the voice?[/quote]

        You should first and more importantly identify whether it’s a “good” voice or a “bad” voice. Not all Voices should be obeyed and listened too. In fact I have never had my named called by my consciousness, I’d say I have a more Socrates-like daemon 😉

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