While I do not watch the paranormal shows on television with the hope of having anything proven to me, I do enjoy them for their entertainment value and as occasional fodder for this blog. I was recently watching some episodes of Ghost Lab on Netflix and thought I would comment on an idea that seems to come up a lot on this show and others that I have watched: the idea that paranormal occurrences need an energy source.
This concept made me scratch my head a little at first since it is so self-evident but, thinking further on the idea, it is wise to consider what fuels a paranormal event. Even in the mechanistic world of Newtonian physics, a worldview that is least conducive to anything smacking of the paranormal, actions do not occur without energy being utilized in some way. When one moves into the mind boggling world of quantum mechanics, I am not sure that we can say the same thing since everything seems to be about probabilities and observation. Someone with more math/physics savvy than I would need to address that issue.
I can speak though for the world of magical practitioners. It is a common saying amongst those who delve into the Ars Magica that one does not get something for nothing. Whether we are talking about an act of high magical invocation, a sorcerous evocation or a simple spell to get rid of warts, it is widely recognized amongst the magically inclined that wand waving and word saying by themselves do not have much effect. Critical to any piece of magic is intent, the focused will of the mage moving toward a specific goal. In Newtonian terms, this would be the energy that powers a spell and I can say from experience that, if done correctly, magic can “take it out of you”.
If we extend this idea a bit, we come to the natural conclusion that, in order for a paranormal incident or incidents to occur, energy must be available from some place. Here are three examples off the top of my head:
* In the case of residual or imprint hauntings, for example, the energy source might be the extreme emotions that provoked the imprint in the first place fed by the fear or shock emotional reactions that are engendered by interaction with the “ghost”.
* Lightning has been named as an energy source in some paranormal cases, as in the Phantom of Black Dog event in Bungay, Suffolk, England in 1577 in which a PBD appeared in a church during a lightning storm and allegedly killed some of the parishioners.
* Poltergeist activity often seems to be linked to pre-pubescent children with emotional issues and the suspicion is that the phenomenon are either caused by “wild talent” psychokinesis (fueled by the teen’s angst) or by spirits attracted by same.
Where things get really interesting is when we begin to discuss things like “intelligent hauntings” where the spirits seem to have a life and will of their own. The popular explanation for these events is that some part of the soul complex of a human being or beings has remained in a particular place due to an attachment there. That is all well and good – I can see why Horace Grumpalot might choose to hang on to the old house where he fussed and fiddled for 50 years – but what I want to know is what is keeping Horace together? It seems to me that even ghosts have to “eat” in order to maintain some coherence and especially if they are (pardon the pun) ghosting around doing little things to make people aware of them. What is Horace’s energy source?
It’s always possible that Mr. Grumpalot’s home happens to sit on a conjunction of ley lines (energy meridians of the earth) or under a set of power lines that supply endless amounts of EMF. It is also quite likely that Horace is moving the kid’s toys around and scaring the bejabbers out of Mom when she goes into the basement after laundry in order to provoke emotional energy upon which he can feed. Hauntings often seem to “ramp up” – one experience causes a fear reaction and then more follow in an ascending spiral as more emotional energy is poured into the area. I would love to see what would happen in one of these hauntings if you took the entire family off to a Zen monastery for week, got them well schooled in meditation and then placed them back in the house with a commitment to meditate every day for 20 minutes. I rather suspect that the cycle would be broken and, while Horace might still mess about, he would not have near the power he had before.
Note that I am not talking about the Intruders in this piece. Those beings are able to use magic on their side of the veil in order to come through just as we use magic on this side to walk in their world and to call entities through. There is still energy involved but it is more a matter of opening a door than of keeping something coherent in this world.