Home Archives Retrocognition at Mission La Purisima Concepcion

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Richard Senate Is it possible to look back in time? It is one of the paranormal phenomena I had longed to experience. Pioneer psychic researcher Frederick Meyers coined a word to define this unique event: retrocognition.

There are several famous encounters in the literature of the paranormal where individuals and even groups have seemingly gone back in time. Most of the encounters are brief with a few lasting for hours. Many times these happen in locations linked to dramatic and traumatic events in the past. In the United States one such place is Gettysburg, where for three days in July of 1863, a bloody battle of the Civil War was fought.

I had tried to meditate and somehow bring on such an event without success. Once, and only once, did I have something that I now believe was retrocognition happen and it was at a place where traumatic events have occurred.

It happened at the restored Spanish Mission La Purisima Concepcion, near Lompoc, California. I have visited the place many times over the years, but only once did I have something like this occur. Since then I have tried to duplicate the event at the site several times, without success. When it happened, I had to wonder if I had just imagined it all. After years of research and reflection, I now believe it was a brief example of retrocognition.

I was visiting the restored mission with a group at the time. I left the party and went into the old church. There was no one there at the time. As soon as I entered I felt something was different. It was a sort of uneasiness. I sat on one of the benches in the church and meditated for perhaps three to four minutes. Then, I got up and started to walk down the center of the church. As I drew close to the altar rail, I saw something out of the side of my right eye. I turned my head and saw three figures I had not seen before.

They were small in stature, almost the size of children; they were kneeling on the floor. They were wearing rags, and one I recall had a blanket around him. They had long hair that was dirty and stringy that hung down to their shoulders. One of the three, the one closest to me, turned and looked up at me. I saw he had scars and red sores on his face. There was a pleading quality in his expression. I also saw behind them a bright mural painted on the wall. It was red, yellow, and green, depicting a sort of decorative vase and swags of flowers. Then, as quickly as it came, the whole thing vanished and I was once again left in the church with a sick feeling in my stomach. I was positive I saw Native Americans, but my vision was nothing like the paintings and depictions of the happy, white-clad mission converts found at this mission and in books. The three I saw were starving, sick, dirty, and miserable. The mural I saw was almost garish and nothing like the paintings that now adorn the restored walls.

What had I seen? It didn’t last long, just a few seconds, but what I saw was detailed and stark. I researched the event and found there were times in the 1820s when the Natives were starved and epidemics of small pox did take many lives. Once there was even a revolt that took many Native American lives and Spanish as well.

If I had imagined it why, would I not have conjured up something that resembled the stereotypical image of the Missions of old California? Why would I have imaged the faces of the Natives marred by pox? Why would I have come up with a colorful mural and not the simple, muted colors depicted in pictures?

Upon reflection I now believe it was an example of retrocognition. I had gotten my wish, and for a few seconds seen the true image of life at the Missions. It was a vision that haunts me still. Over the years I have learned that others have seen and heard things at that Mission. Maybe, like Gettysburg, this place that witnessed tragedy is somehow scared and when conditions are just right-the past and present dissolve into one.

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