“We know very little about the universe, and it may well be a much queerer place than most of us think.”
– Henry Habberly Price, Oxford, Parapsychologist and Professor of Logic
In the middle of the 18th century, a farmer and his son from Glenary, Scotland, had a profound paranormal experience that still baffles researchers today. Archibald Bell documented the story, which was related to him in great detail by his father and grandfather, the actual eyewitnesses to the event.
Here is the riveting account as told by Archibald Bell:
On the morning in question, my grandfather, wishing to transact business in the nearby town of Glenshiray, set out with my father. They crossed a hill into town, finished their business and were on their way home by midday. No sooner did they approach [Old] Garron Bridge and turn towards Inveraray upon the high road, than they beheld a vast concourse of men marching towards them.
The foremost ranks had then advanced only as far as Kilmalieu in regular order, packed close, and they stretched from the point of the New Town near the Quay where Captain Gillies’ house now stands, along the shore and the high road and across the River Aray near the Town, about the spot where the new bridge has since been built.
The army stretched so far into the distance that the rearguard could not be seen. As it advanced, they walked slowly towards it, my grandfather noting that it had 15 or 16 pairs of colors and that the men marching nearest to them were walking six or seven abreast.
With them marched, as was the custom at the time, women and children, both above and below the road, carrying cans and other cooking utensils. The men were clad in scarlet and the sun glinted on their muskets and bayonets, dazzling the two [witnesses] who watched this colorful array.
And somewhere in the middle distance was a large animal amid the ranks, the soldiers prodding it on with knives and bayonets.
My father had never seen an army before, for large bodies of armed men did not often venture into the remote Highlands; but my grandfather, who had served in the Rebellion of 1745, assumed that they had come from Ireland, landed at Cantyre, and were making their way south to England.
One peculiarity struck my father. “Why,” he asked my grandfather, “are the rear ranks constantly running to catch up with those in front?”
My grandfather explained that when on the march there was always some confusion in the middle of an army – for armies in those days proceeded like mobs – the rear ranks were constantly being delayed and consequently forced to hurry to keep their positions.
“If ever you get forced into the army,” my grandfather advised, “always try to join the front ranks, which march at a leisurely pace and are never held up.”
The army was now some 150 yards from them, and they observed a body of some 40-50 men led by an officer on foot, some little way in front. A few paces behind rode an officer of Dragoons – or so they concluded from the trappings of his horse. He wore a gold-laced hat and a blue Hussar cloak with wide-open sleeves lined with red, as well as boots and spurs. My grandfather observed him so intently as to swear later that he would know him again instantly if they met.
At that period all able-bodied men went in fear of press gangs, for men were forced not only into the navy, but into the army as well, so my father felt it inadvisable to linger on the road, as he had little wish to spend years in some foreign land.
So both scaled a stone dyke behind some thorn bushes, and only when they felt safely hidden did my father look at the road to see the army march by.
The road, which a few moments ago had been thronged with humanity, was deserted!
My father rubbed his eyes and asked my grandfather to look, but never a sign of a uniform could they see!
Then it occurred to my grandfather that there had been no cloud of rising dust, which on those broken roads was always created by men, horses and vehicles. They clambered over the dyke again and onto the road as an old resident from Glenshiray named Stewart came towards them driving a horse.
“What has become of all the soldiers?” they asked.
“I’ve seen none,” said Stewart. All the information he volunteered was that as the heat had made his horse sag from fatigue, he had dismounted and was driving it.
To his dying day, my grandfather believed that their vision was a peep into the future, but my father said that the uniforms and arms of the soldiers belonged to a past period.
They made guarded inquiries from people who must have seen an army if in reality an army had marched, but no one had. Nor, when they examined the road for footprints, could they find any.
A Complex Enigma
Was this a chapter of the past unfolding itself, and if so, to what purpose, and why to only two men? The Bell account may represent a residual haunting, one in which a past event is somehow “imprinted” on the environment and then experienced by eyewitnesses (via retrocognition) at a later time — sometimes even decades or centuries later. The imprint theory proposes that environments with traumatic emotional histories — and specifically the physical elements that make them up such as rocks, trees, water sources, man-made dwellings, etc. — act as recording devices, somehow absorbing and then replaying events that those with a sixth sense or keen intuition can experience via visual, auditory, olfactory and/or other sensory perceptions.
Loyd Auerbach, director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations and author of numerous books on the paranormal, emphasizes that residual hauntings involve the recorded activity of the living, not the dead. Although the subject(s) of the recording may be long dead, the activity was impressed upon the environment when they were alive,” he says. “This is analogous to videotaping a person doing something — you can’t really do that when the person is dead. They kind of just lie there.”
Residual hauntings are most commonly referred to as “place memory” by parapsychologists and academic researchers. In less formal circles it is called “cinema of time” and often is associated with Stone Tape Theory. Andrew Nichols, Ph.D., professor, author and founder of the AIP (American Institute of Parapsychology), points out that paranormal phenomena often share similar characteristics, which makes it difficult to create clear lines of distinction. For example, he says, a probable relationship exists between retrocognitive experiences and psychometry, or object reading, which is the ability to perceive information about the history and owners of an object as practiced by psychics. “In fact,” he adds, “they are very likely to be very similar, if not identical, phenomenon.”
Auerbach agrees that place memory seems to be an extension of psychometry. One interpretation is that the object — and what is a house but a big object — becomes a focal point for retrocognition. However, an alternative interpretation is that something about the object, building, land, etc., essentially “records” information as it exists. “Human beings are capable of picking up on these environmental recordings and essentially play back bits of the information in their own perceptions/consciousness,” he says. “Most often, emotional events (or emotions themselves) are behind the more likely perceptions/recordings, although on occasion the recordings seem to be of very mundane activity.”
To muddy the waters further, similar phenomena are also referred to as time slips or time warps, depending on the specific characteristics associated with them. It remains a highly debated topic within the paranormal research community, yet one that offers an incredible opportunity to learn a great deal not only about paranormal mysteries, but history itself. For example, in the Bell incident, even greater detail of the soldiers’ uniforms may have provided researchers with an opportunity to corroborate the encounter from a historical standpoint. Could this have been an imprint haunting of English Civil War soldiers marching to or from a battle an entire century earlier? And if so, could the Bells have provided researchers with details of a specific time period or a particular battle that historians could never piece together from ancient artifacts and/or the written record?
The Bell account isn’t an isolated incident, as encounters with phantom ghost armies, discarnate soldiers and other elements from the past have been documented at length thanks to the dedication of paranormal researchers such as the late Andrew McKenzie. McKenzie, who was vice president of the Society for Psychical Research and author of numerous books on the paranormal, was a serious student of spontaneous cases in which protagonists find themselves in surroundings that no longer exist. His task was not a simple one. Alan Gould, a colleague of McKenzie and former professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, professed that such cases are “fascinating, exceedingly rare and very hard to evaluate.”
One thing McKenzie learned from his research was that characteristics associated with these phenomena are similar but not always the same, which raises the question of whether a past event has been imprinted on the environment for those with psychic sensitivities to experience at a later date, or whether some type of time slip has occurred, where a person, or group of people, travel through time through supernatural means.
Consider the adventures of two respected schoolteachers, Charlotte Anne Elizabeth Moberly and Eleanor Frances Jourdain. While visiting the Palace at Versailles in 1901, they decided to go in search of the Petit Trianon. While walking through the grounds they both were impressed by a feeling of oppressive gloom. They claimed to have encountered, and interacted with, a number of people in old-fashioned attire whom they later assumed to have been members of the court of Marie Antoinette and to have seen a figure that may have been Marie Antoinette herself on the day in 1792 when she learned that the mob had stormed the Tuileries Palace.
In a widely publicized case from 1979, two English married couples driving through France on their way to a holiday in Spain claimed to have stayed overnight at an old-fashioned hotel and decided on their return journey to stay at the same hotel but were unable to find it. Photographs taken during their stay, which were in the middle of the roll of film, were missing, even from the negative strips, when the pictures were developed.
A telling characteristic of these phenomena has to do with whether those experiencing them can take an active part in the event, interacting with the time being “visited.” In the Versailles case, the two women were apparently seen, and spoken to, by people they saw. The English couples on holiday in France went further, staying in a hotel and eating dinner and breakfast in the course of the experience. Both of these incidents represent unusually prolonged experiences, taking place over at least several hours. These cases are more likely associated with some sort of time slip as opposed to a residual haunting, where the subject is merely a passive observer of the past scene — one that plays out like a movie, imprinted on paranormal celluloid.
More Than A Feeling
Another characteristic associated with these phenomena is an “altered state of reality” that’s very difficult to describe. For example, many witnesses report that, at the start of their experiences, their immediate surroundings take on an “oddly flat, underlit and lifeless appearance, and normal sounds seem muffled.” This is sometimes accompanied by feelings of depression and unease.
In a case from Yorkshire, England, in the 1980s, an eyewitness described: “What I remember is a brilliantly sunny day with lots of other people around, but as we made our way down, it just suddenly seemed as if no one else were there but my wife and me. An old woman appeared on the footway opposite us. It became cooler and duller.”
Another account from a recent Liverpool, England, case mentions similar effects: “The street also seemed unusually quiet; there were sounds but they appeared quite muted,” and “As she sat down, she noticed that the sun did not seem as bright as it had been moments before, in fact looking back in later years she described the light as similar to when the area had a partial solar eclipse.”
Jenny Randles, a British author and former director of investigations with the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), invented the phrase “Oz Factor” to describe this strange, seemingly altered state of being felt by witnesses of paranormal events. She defines the Oz Factor as “the sensation of being isolated, or transported back from the real world into a different environmental framework… where reality is but slightly different, as in the fairytale land of Oz.” Randle speculates that the Oz Factor points to consciousness as the focal point of these encounters.
I, too, experienced this Oz Factor just before hearing rebel yells in the Triangular Field at Gettysburg a few years ago. I distinctly remember the atmosphere becoming very still and quiet just before hearing the shrieking “whoops” and “yips” that terrified Union soldiers more than 140 years earlier. Oddly enough, I also remember thinking this is what it must feel like just before one goes missing in the Bermuda Triangle.
Extensive volumes have been written regarding the relationship between paranormal phenomena and the non-traditional scientific possibilities that might validate them as part of the natural and known universe. Quantum physics explores the realities of life at the sub-atomic levels, and this has paradoxically had consequences in terms of our own consciousness and experience, and our relationship to the universe around us. Quantum theory suggests there are interconnections and influences between the subject and object, which according to traditional scientific theory cannot exist. This opens the door to alternative explanations of consciousness and challenges us to explore them with an open-mindedness that goes against a societal belief system still entrenched in superstition, fear and skepticism.
As it relates to encounters with the past, how might quantum physics explain these phenomena? How can two men see the “imprint” of an army that marched on the Scottish landscape more than a century earlier? How can two women in France suddenly “transport” to an earlier era and interact with its inhabitants? How can we hear the sounds of battles already fought? Can we experience history first-hand, as a result of some universal law of physics scientists haven’t discovered yet?
For more than a century, the greatest minds on this planet have studied paranormal phenomena and their implications on our understanding of the universe and human consciousness. Theories associated with time slips or time warps can be traced to Albert Einstein, who proposed the theory that time and space form a continuum that bends, folds or warps from the observer’s point of view, relative to such factors as movement or gravitation. A time slip, therefore, might be a perceived discontinuity in time, either one that allows something to travel backward or forward in time, or an area of space that appears to travel through time at a different rate from the rest of the universe. If we assume these discontinuities are possible, it might explain how two English couples on holiday in France spent the night at an “old-fashioned” hotel that in fact hasn’t existed in our perceived reality for more than 100 years!
Mathematical developments associated with the superstring theory, considered by some scientists to be the most outrageous theory every proposed, may help theoretical physicists explain encounters with the past as well. Research suggests that disruptions and warps can occur naturally in space, resulting infrequently in theoretically possible random time events. These warps or disruptions might allow for any action or event to transcend time and space — and be seen, heard or felt at any point in time. Superstring theory attempts to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory, or a Theory of Everything. The implications of superstring physics are radically changing our ideas about the nature of space, opening up the possibility that extra dimensions, rips in the fabric of space and parallel universes actually exist.
Theoretical physicists also are excited about the existence of the Zero Point Field (ZPF), which may explain how everything that exists in the universe is connected to everything else. The ZPF is made up of Zero Point Energy (ZPE), virtual particles whose electromagnetic fluctuations fill every corner of space and are never at a state of absolute zero momentum, but instead vibrate at the most minute rate of oscillation allowable by the laws of quantum physics. Marie Jones, in her book titled PSIence: How New Discoveries in Quantum Physics and New Science May Explain the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena, describes this vibration as “a tiny, residual jiggle.” Jones explains that by virtue of the ZPF, reality is one big spider web with an infinite number of fine strands criss-crossing, intersecting and creating a wholeness that extends throughout time and space.
What implications do the existence of the ZPF and ZPE have on the validity of residual hauntings? According to Jones, the supposed recording of the energy of an event could take place in the ZPF, which can be compared to the Akashic Records of Edgar Cayce, upon which every memory, action, thought and thing was written. These imprints, or recordings, could have found a way to exist intact upon the ZPF, and those who see replays of past events could have found a way to tap into them.
Theoretical physicists remain very busy in laboratories seeking answers to these quantum enigmas, but can paranormal field investigators document tangible evidence that can help validate these theories as they relate to hauntings? If so, what do they need to be looking for, and what tools should they be using?
Implications and Applications
Paranormal investigators such as Joshua Warren, author and president of LEMUR (League of Energy Materialization and Unexplained Phenomena Research), approach paranormal field research in such a way as to best contribute to scientific inquiry. Warren’s goal is to accumulate well-documented cases and create a database of hard evidence. “If ghosts are non-physical entities that aren’t restricted to the known laws of physical matter,” he supposes, “then by using the scientific method and creating a collective database, we may one day have enough data to isolate the patterns and correlations that will finally realize the essential conditions for spectral interactions to occur.”
Obtaining this type of hard evidence motivates hardcore scientific methodologists like Nichols, who for more than 25 years has stressed to both his students and lecture guests the importance of taking as many environmental readings as possible when conducting field research. In fact, his basic arsenal of field equipment includes geomagnetic field meters, electromagnetic field meters, temperature gauges, ion detectors and more. Given the strange atmospheric conditions that seem to manifest when witnesses experience imprint hauntings and time slips, it seems only prudent to follow the advice of both Nichols and Warren: Go to great efforts to measure environmental conditions in an attempt to isolate the patterns and correlations associated with these phenomenon.
When conducting paranormal investigations, however, the best opportunities often occur when you least expect them, which is why being prepared at all times remains critical to the success of field research. For example, two years ago while doing a field investigation on the Gettysburg battlefield, a team psychic appeared very excited as she approached me in the Wheatfield. She said a portal had opened up in the Rose Woods (which is right next to the Wheatfield), but that she couldn’t find me in time before it closed. Apparently, one of her psychic abilities includes being able to see these portals appear, and she describes it as a disruption or ripple in the atmosphere. It’s during these fleeting moments when she feels it would be advantageous to take many environmental readings, photographs and recordings because this is when paranormal activity occurs on our dimensional level.
I immediately thought it would be a great idea to walk around the battlefield with her, for hours or even days if necessary, until this phenomenon occurred again. It seems well worth the effort to be able to measure the particular vibrations, frequencies or electromagnetic fluctuations associated with these anomalies.
I consider her experience a profound one and am still deeply disappointed I wasn’t in her general vicinity when this supposed portal opened. Could these portals represent the “rip in the fabric of space,” the discontinuity in time, the warps or disruptions associated with superstring theory, or the manifestation of the Zero Point Field?
We can’t know that for sure, but my intuition tells me that whatever this psychic detected is very important, and somehow these ripples in the atmosphere are the key to explaining at least some of the paranormal phenomena documented at Gettysburg and other battlefields across the globe. The answer is there, in front of us; we just need to know how to tap into its source, or essence, if you will.
Having said this, paranormal field researchers should remain cognizant of the following:
- Keep an open mind regarding quantum theory and the general laws of physics. You don’t have to be a physicist to be a good paranormal investigator, but you should read the equivalent of Quantum Physics 101 in order to gain a basic understanding of the physical laws of the universe and how they might relate to paranormal phenomena.
- Have a broad array of environmental measuring tools, including geomagnetic field meters, electromagnetic field meters, temperature gauges, humidity gauges, barometric pressure gauges, radiometers, ion detectors, etc.
- Document every minute detail of the landscape in question. Note the topography including rock types and formations, and take latitude, longitude and elevation readings to create an accurate grid of the area being investigated. These topographical details might play a role in triggering the phenomena.
- Research as many cases regarding place memory as possible in order to create a model on which to build an investigative strategy. For example, many imprint hauntings are proceeded by a palpable change in atmosphere. By knowing what to look for, you can be prepared when environmental fluctuations occur.
- Understand that consciousness plays a factor in these phenomena; therefore, it’s important to utilize a good psychic during field investigations in order to localize paranormal energies and document the effects these environments have on sensitive individuals.
- Interview eyewitnesses beforehand in order to determine optimal focus areas. For example, many incidents that fit the profile for imprint hauntings occur in the Triangular Field at Gettysburg. Knowing this, you should focus on conducting particular experiments and taking specific readings in this area. Compiling large documentation at a specific location can be beneficial to future research.
- Ask experts in particular disciplines for ideas on what they might want documented at a particular location or investigation. By doing so, you can accumulate data potentially beneficial to other researchers moving forward. It will also help you develop strong investigative techniques and protocols, and you will end up with solid research as a result.
- Share your research with others! In order to make progress in any area of study, a clearinghouse of information must be made available to all researchers. The sharing of thoughts and ideas is the fastest way to enlightenment.
In the end, all we can do as paranormal field researchers is use our investigative skills, our intuition and the proper equipment to best obtain and document a body of evidence that may someday assist physicists, psychologists and other researchers as they attempt to answer life’s most profound questions. And along the way, we should enjoy the journey of exploration.