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Observations placeholder

Rayner Garner and the matchbox technique



Type of Spiritual Experience


Rayner Garner experienced this effect after he had been practising a technique he ascribed to Ron Hubbard, which involved him holding objects and mentally preventing them from 'getting away'.  On this occasion it was a matchbox, but he did it with other objects and that worked too.  The technique is in effect a form of befuddling as reason will be saying matchboxes do not move, but the will is saying 'stop it getting away', so the two are confusing each other.

He mentions that after he returned to 'normal', and again practised the technique of holding objects and preventing them from 'getting away', he found that it now had the effect of enabling him to re-live certain traumatic incidents of his childhood.

A description of the experience

Mysteries - Colin Wilson

The effect that it had on me. . was to notice that if I stared at an object for more than a fleeting glance, I would begin to see superimposed, or rather underimposed, another picture. On this occasion, I was staring at a light plug and saw a picture which appeared to be people in a factory, which I took to be the place where it was manufactured. If I continued to gaze, a further series of pictures, rather more hazy, would appear -scenes which appeared to be the places where the raw materials of the plug were mined or extracted. I found this to be true of just about everything that I looked at for any length of time.

I was aware that this could have been an illusion, but when I discovered that the phenomena still took place when I was out of doors, it was possible to subject this to some form of test. I visited my mother who had lived in Harrow for most of her life and knew the surrounding countryside before it had been built on. With her, I walked around Harrow and its surrounds, describing, to her astonishment, the landscape with its farms, streams and fairly small pockets of dwelling places in existence before I was born.

According to her memory I was very accurate. I cannot, of course, discount the possibility that I had at some time heard her describe what it was like in the past . . . all I can say is that I cannot consciously remember anything of the sort.

I also noticed that, as with the light plug, if I continued to look at one area, earlier dwellings would appear, then scrub or forest only; finally, in one case, earlier types of primitive dwellings such as I imagine a Stone-Age settlement would look like.

As to myself, I noticed that I appeared to be somewhat insubstantial.

As I walked, everything, including my own body, appeared to be shimmering - at first I thought that I would have difficulty negotiating stairs and kerbstones. . . The whole universe seemed to be unreal, shimmering with energy. The only real thing was 'l'.

For the first time in my life, I felt myself to be totally real. The observer was really 'here', and observing; everything else was an illusion. I could see particles which, for some reason, were slowed down. What a change from my usual state - in which 'l' felt insubstantial and the rest of the universe too horribly real.

This state lasted about three weeks, during which time I lived in a curiously placid emotional condition, rather like being in a mild state of shock, not unpleasant, but oddly unreal.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps