Lethbridge, T C - A Step in the Dark – The difficulty of testing for psychometry
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
T C Lethbridge – A Step in the Dark
ONE of the better-known facets of parapsychology is the art of psychometry. This is one of the more spectacular functions of the wise woman, or seer. The medium, or, as it is now called, sensitive, holds some object or other and pronounces information about a former owner of the object, which may refer to events either in the past, or in the future.
Now one's natural reaction is to disbelieve this entirely. It seems completely absurd that anything could be locked up in an inanimate object in this way. In fact, as I described some years ago in Ghost and Ghoul, I thought I had demonstrated that it was not correct. I thought that although the sensitive clearly had the faculty of obtaining unusual information, yet this was only obtained from the other person's mind by using the object as a link in the process of concentration.
What bothered me in the long series of experiments I made with a sensitive, a very good amateur one, was that I frequently detected scraps from my own memories in what appeared to be stories derived from various ancient objects. In one case the memory was so recent as to have happened in the last half-hour.
Where I was wrong was to assume that nothing at all could be projected into the field of an inanimate object. This was a mistake of considerable importance, but, as I always say, I do not trust my own reasoning and I am completely unabashed to say that I was wrong in my inferences at that time.
It seems probable now that some of the descriptions obtained from the sensitive were just thought reading from my mind; however the possibility remains that others were genuine impressions from the past stored up in the fields of the objects themselves. I was right too, I think, to suggest that each object was a link. It was; but not the kind of link I had thought.
What happens? The sensitive seems to me, and I think I obtained evidence of this, to experience the equivalent of a dream when holding an object. There is this tiny cinema film which is evidently difficult to appreciate clearly. But this film, although perhaps more often representing scenes far back in the past, may at times also show events which have only happened a few minutes ago and others which have not yet happened at the time the statement is made.
Anyone with a critical mind can see at once flaws in the psychometrical performance of a given sensitive. You can tabulate hundreds of cases in which the sensitive has told the truth. Still I very much doubt whether in any single case you can show that this truth is unmixed with some feature, which does not really belong to the story. I have had one of these people when handed an old family object describe my great great-grandfather and grandmother receiving their guests at a house, which can only have been their home at Sandhill Park, in Somerset. As far as I could see it might all have been correct.
The sensitive was terribly thrilled. As I remember her words, she said: 'This is wonderful. I have never seen anything like this. This is the money.' Although a little disgusted, I let her go on and she became even more enthusiastic. 'There they are on the steps receiving their guests. What a handsome pair they are,'and so on. Now she may have seen this. She may-have got it out of the field of the object, but why? Could she not have got it just as well out of my memory of what life was like in a big country house before the Kaiser’s war? Not only that, but there were a couple of prints of Sandhill hanging on the wall in our house where she made this oration. I did-not believe a word of it, yet it was very impressive. If I had had no critical faculty, I would have accepted it as a kind of miracle. I think most people would have done so. It seemed so complete. You see how difficult this study is. So much may be true and yet the source of it can be entirely different from what it appears to be.