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PARANORMAL  GLOSSARY
PAGAN            Someone who doesn't conform to mainstream religions but prefers to follow a more polytheistic religion. Often the word is used in a derogative manner to describe someone who has no religion, a non-Christian, a hedonist, heathen or a Neo- Pagan. The term is also used derogatively to describe idolaters and persons who worship false gods. However, the term has assumed a new meaning among the practitioners of witchcraft and magic and those who worship nature.     PARAPSYCHOLOGY            A controversial discipline of paranormal research related to psychic abilities, such as telepathy and extrasensory perception, and spiritual phenomena. Term was coined in German by Max Dessoir (1889) and adopted by J. B. Rhine in English to refer to the scientific study of paranormal or ostensibly paranormal phenomena.     PARANORMAL        Term applied to any phenomenon which in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible on current scientific assumptions.     PAREIDOLIA          Steven Goldstein first coined the term Pareidolia (payr.eye.DOH.lee.uh) in 1994 to describe a psychological phenomenon that involves vague and random stimulus, usually visual or auditory, that is perceived as being significant. Examples of this are mirages, seeing animals, symbols or faces in clouds and in the paranormal arena, in orbs. Pareidolia is a blend of the prefix "para" which means something faulty or wrong and "eidolon" which is a phantom-like or ghostly image.     PARALLEL UNIVERSES         Thought to be universes that exist alongside that of our own. They could be very similar in nature to our universe or they could in fact be very different. For example somewhere out there in a different time, place or space, Germany won the second world war or the North Pole was hot! Although it may appear to be a curious notion, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that the idea may be closer to fact. Quantum Theory, which successfully describes the world of the atom, shows us that everything may not be as it first seems. A nice example of this, is when one single atom has been shown to exist in many places at once!     PAST-LIFE REGRESSION        A process in which a hypnotized person is mentally “taken back” (or “regressed”) by the hypnotist to one or more apparent previous life-times, thus suggesting reincarnation.     “PHILIP”            An experimental ghost created by Iris M. Owen and members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research, Canada, who wanted to test the connections between living individuals and paranormal phenomena. In September 1972, the Toronto experimenters began meditating on "Philip," a deliberately created ghost with a personal history, idiosyncratic characteristics, and even an appearance consciously worked out by the group. Within only a few weeks, the group elicited raps from the table and communications from "Philip".     PENDULUMS        A divination device. Small pendulums are often used in dowsing and related divination systems instead of divining- rods. Questions can be asked, and the clockwise or anticlockwise rotation of the pendulum gives an answer, rather like the raps in Spiritualist séances.     PHANTASMAGORIA        Term generally used for a shifting series of imaginary or fantastic images as seen in a dream or fevered imagination.     PLANCHETTE              A planchette is a triangular or heart-shaped board supported by castors which moves to spell out messages, or answer questions. Paranormal advocates believe that the planchette is moved by some extra-normal force. The most common use of the planchette is with a Ouija or spirit board. In this instance, it is sometimes referred to as an "indicator" or "pointer".     POLTERGEIST          The name of unexplained rappings, noises, and similar disturbances. The term poltergeist (Polter Geist, or rattling ghost) is indicative of the character of these "beings." It is believed poltergeists rarely cause serious physical injury, but can cause much damage by breaking fragile objects and occasionally setting fire to pieces of furniture or clothing. Supposedly a person may be pulled out of bed or levitated.   POSSESSION        A phenomenon reported by members of religions which believe that evil spirits can take over the body of a person and attempt to dominate the person in various ways. There are several degrees of possession, according to traditional Christian belief, reflecting the seriousness of the case. In this modern age priests are more reluctant than they once were to declare a person to be possessed and will carefully examine the sufferer before coming to any decision on his status. Exorcism  is nowadays rarely carried out by the mainstream churches, but newspapers still publish horror stories of exorcisms that went wrong and harmed the sufferer. These are most often carried out by smaller, independent churches, sometimes with an admixture of animist beliefs. PRECOGNITION        The paranormal ability to foresee events before they happen, and before there is normal evidence that they are going to happen.     PREMONITION         A paranormal impression warning of a future event. Premonitions may range from vague feelings of disquiet, suggestive of impending disaster, to actual hallucinations, visual or auditory. Dreams are frequent vehicles of premonitions, either direct or symbolical.     HARRY PRICE          Prominent British psychical researcher. Price was born January 17, 1881, and was educated at London and Shropshire. At the age of fifteen, he conducted his first scientific investigation of poltergeist phenomena, staying until midnight in a reputed haunted house with photographic equipment. Price also attracted attention for his investigation of Borley Rectory, Essex, "The Most Haunted House in England". Price published many books and pamphlets concerning his research and other experiences in the Spiritualist and occult community. After his death, Price was accused (probably falsely) by fellow psychical researchers of helping out or faking some of the Borley Rectory phenomena.     PROPHECY        Something that is foretold by or as if by supernatural means. In pre-modern society, prophets appeared both informally as gifted individuals with a sudden prophetic insight or as functionaries identical with what Western scholars in the nineteenth and twentieth century called witchdoctors, priests or shaman.     PSYCHIC        The term Psychic is commonly used in popular culture to refer to someone with the ability to perceive things hidden from traditional senses through means of extra-sensory perception. The term is also used to refer to theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation and cold reading to produce the appearance of having such abilities. People said to be sensitive to, or able to use, psychic forces are referred to as being psychics.     PSYCHIC ART        A medium, who may or may not have artistic training or skills, produces a portrait under the influence of a spirit. Sometimes the subject is the spirit themselves, sometimes a spirit guide.     PSYCHIC DETECTIVE        Many mediums have claimed over the years to have provided information to police forces to assist in manhunts or the location of murder victims, but few police forces admit to having received such help. Some psychic detectives seem to have genuinely worked with the police, while others have been exposed as making fraudulent claims of involvement in cases. In some cases, too, help offered leads nowhere or produces false leads that waste police time.     PSYCHICAL RESEARCH        Scientific inquiry into the facts and reports of paranormal and mediumistic phenomena. Psychical research's first concern has been to establish the occurrence of the claimed events. If such events are not due to obvious mundane causes, including fraud, observational error, or the laws of chance, the next stage of the inquiry is to establish a reason for their occurrence—whether known natural laws are sufficient to explain them or whether there is reason to assume action by an unknown force.     PSYCHOKINESIS        The ability to move objects at a distance by mental power. The term "psychokinesis" or "PK" was proposed by psychologist J. B. Rhine and his associates at the Psychology Department, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, in 1934 in relation to experiments with influencing the fall of dice by mental concentration.     PSYCHOMETRY              Term coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan (1893) to refer to the practice in which sensitives hold an object in their hands and obtain paranormal information about the object or its owner.     QUALITATIVE METHOD        A research method that relies less on numbers and statistics but more on interviews, observations, small numbers of questionnaires, focus groups, subjective reports and case studies.   QUANTITATIVE METHOD        A research method that relies less on interviews, observations, small numbers of questionnaires, focus groups, subjective reports and case studies but is much more focused on the collection and analysis of numerical data and statistics.     WILLIAM RAND            William Rand, prominent teacher of the Reiki system of healing and founder of the Center for Reiki Training in suburban Detroit, Michigan, was a professional astrologer and hypnotherapist living in Hawaii in the 1970s at the time that the existence of the Reiki healing system became known.     JAMES RANDI            Pseudonym of stage magician James Randall Zwinge who has developed what amounts to a second vocation as a co- founder and leading spokesperson of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and debunker of both psychics and their paranormal claims and religious claims of supernatural occurrences.     RAPPING        These noises may accompany a haunting, but are also one of the phenomena traditionally associated with the early Spiritualistic experiments of the mid-1800s. Using different numbers of raps for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ was a common way of getting a communicator to respond to the questions put by the medium during séances.     REIKI          Reiki is a form of therapy that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and visualization techniques, with the goal of improving the flow of life energy in a person. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) means "universal life energy" in Japanese, and Reiki practitioners are trained to detect and alleviate problems of energy flow on the physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Reiki touch therapy is used in much the same way to achieve similar effects that traditional massage therapy is used—to relieve stress and pain, and to improve the symptoms of various health conditions.     READING            The statements made by a sensitive (or as a result of the process of divination) in the course of an attempt to obtain paranormal information or “messages.”     REINCARNATION        Reincarnation is the belief that a human soul is reborn in another body an indeterminate time after its death. It is accepted as fact by members of some religions, e.g. in Hindu tradition, where a number of western authors have carried out investigations into cases where a child has recognized places or members of a ‘previous’ family. In Tibetan Buddhism priests travel far and wide to identify the child in which the soul of a past lama has reincarnated. Eastern tradition has influenced other belief systems in the west, and a surprising number of people now believe in reincarnation, to which support is lent by hypnotic regression into past lives.     REM (RAPID EYE MOVEMENT)            The rapid, periodic, jerky movement of the eyes during certain stages of the sleep cycle when dreaming takes place. Initials stand  for "rapid eye movement," a physical phenomenon during which the most active, visually rich, and bizarre dreaming occurs.     REMOTE VIEWING        The ability, generally after considerable training and practice, to see a remote object that has been selected as a target by a third party. During the Cold War the USA and the USSR spent large amounts of money training potential remote viewers to spy on each other’s military facilities. Some successes were reported by the US projects, but these are generally regarded as inadequate returns for the amount of effort put in.     RESIDUAL HAUNTING            Probably the most common type of haunting: this is best described as an imprint on the environment. A moment in time, imprinted into the atmosphere of a specific location: playing out roles and situations over and over again for varying periods of time. The "entity" shows no indication of awareness of its surroundings or those present, but appears to be a "re-play" of an event or action that occurred in their lives. Such hauntings are not necessarily restricted to visual phenomena, but my also include (or be limited to) auditory or olfactory phenomena.     RETROCOGNITION        Term used in psychical research and parapsychology to indicate a form of extrasensory perception in which the subject obtains knowledge of some event in the past by paranormal cognition.     RHINE RESEARCH CENTER            The Rhine Research Center is a nonprofit organization devoted to parapsychological research and education. Established as the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man in 1962 by J. B. Rhine and renamed in 1995, the RRC comprises two subsidiaries: The Institute for Parapsychology and Parapsychology Press. As the designated successor to Rhine's famous Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory, the institute maintains access to all records and other properties acquired by that laboratory during its three decades at Duke.     WILLIAM ROLL          Roll, a prominent parapsychologist, was born on July 3, 1926, in Bremen, Germany. He grew up in Denmark and studied at the University of California, Berkeley (B.A., 1949) and at Oxford University, England (B.Litt, 1960; M.Litt., 1961). While in England, he was president of the Oxford University Society for Psychical Research (1952-57). His Oxford researches covered the effects of hypnosis and the correlation of ESP with personality traits. He also authored more than 100 scholarly papers on parapsychological topics, edited eleven volumes of research in parapsychology for the Parapsychology Association, and authored thirteen books.     SASQUATCH          In southwestern British Columbia, on southern Vancouver and nearby islands, live some five hundred speakers of Halkomelem, a Central Salish language in the Salish language family. And there is also said to be, somewhere in the mountains and woods known to the Halkomelem, a creature called in their language Sasquatch, or "hairy man." The name Sasquatch made its English-language appearance in an article in the Canadian magazine Maclean's in 1929. Since then it has spread far beyond the Halkomelem, so that today it is often used as the generic name for the "bigfoot" of North America. Around the world, other names for elusive wild men include Tibetan yeti, Mongolian almas, Chinese yeren, Vietnamese ngui rung, Sumatran orang pendek, and Australian yowie.     SATANISM            Worship of Satan, or the devil, the personality or principle regarded in the Judeo-Christian tradition as embodying absolute evil, in complete antithesis to God. Cults associated with satanism have been documented, however sketchily, back to the 17th century. Their central feature is the black mass, a corrupted and inverted rendition of the Christian Eucharist.   SEANCE            A major structure of Spiritualism, the séance is a gathering of a small group of individuals who sit together to obtain paranormal manifestations or establish communication with the dead. At least one member of the group is usually a medium or at least possessed of some mediumistic powers.     SENSITIVE        The term "sensitive," often interchangeable with "psychic," refers to a person with psychic powers, but eschews communication with the dead. Sensitives ordinarily believe that their psychic abilities are a natural ability that they possess to a greater degree than most, either through natural endowment or a process of psychic development.     SHADOW PEOPLE            An entity that manifests itself as a dark form. The phenomena of the shadow person is still subject to speculation within the paranormal community. Whether these "beings" are human or non-human in nature has yet to be determined, but it is speculated that both forms exist to some degree. They appear to move quickly and have been reported to pass through solid objects, i.e. walls.     SHAMAN            A shaman is a person with exceptional powers over nature. A person who uses magic to cure the sick, divine the unknown, or control events. Both men and women can be shamans. They are the magicians or "medicine people" of primitive tribes, with powers of healing, prophecy, or paranormal phenomena. The term is thought to derive from Tungus shaman and Sanskrit sramana (ascetic). As distinct from priests, shamans have no ritualistic knowledge, but operate rather as occult adepts. Their primary ability, at least in their Siberian setting, was the power of astral travel. The gift of shamanism is often a hereditary function, and its nature is communicated orally from one shaman to another.     Signs          At various moments in history and in times of great stress, suffering, and persecution, reports of paranormal signs (believed to portend great events) frequently emerged. Under these conditions it was not unusual for ecstatic states to become epidemic, prophecies to be uttered, and unusual physical phenomena to appear. Many of these reports appear to be a mixture of mis-observation of mundane if unusual occurrences and hallucinations.     SIXTH SENSE        A power of perception seemingly independent of the five senses; keen intuition. More recently the sixth sense has been given prominence as Charles Richet's comprehensive term for the phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychometry, premonition, prediction, crystal gazing, and phantasmal appearances. They were, in Richet's view, manifestations of a new unknown sense that perceives the vibrations of reality.     SPELLS       A word, formula, or incantation believed to have magical powers. The spell can be used for evil or good ends; if evil, it is a technique of sorcery. Many authorities believe that the spell was the precursor of prayer. In Teutonic lore, the spell was a form of exercising occult power and was sometimes used to summon the spirits of departed heroes to give prophetic utterances. Once cast, the spell was supposed to remain in force until broken by a counter-spell or exorcism.     SPIRIT            That which is believed to be the principle of conscious life and the vital principle in humans. The English word "spirit" comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning "breath", but also "soul, courage, vigor".     SPIRIT GUIDE        In Spiritualism, a spirit guide is an advanced soul who has passed to the Other Side and helps a person still in this world. A non-psychic person may not be aware that he or she is being watched over or guided, but a medium may be able to sense the guide psychically.   SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY            The production of photographs on which alleged spirit forms are visible. When the plate or film is developed there sometimes appears, in addition to the likeness of the sitters at a séance, a shape resembling more or less distinctly the human form, which at the moment of exposure was imperceptible to normal vision.      
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