Haunting The Past
Written By: Jeff Behnke
Cognitive processes are not wholly confined ‘in the head.’ When you depend on an external item to aid with cognition, such as using a calculator or writing directions down on a piece of paper, the depency on the external element creates a coupled system, one external to you and one internal to you, which together can be seen as an extension of your consciousness into the environment itself. This coupled system may, in fact, be the reason why houses are haunted. Coupled systems from the past may create ‘hauntings’ where external elements of cognition linger long after the coupled system was severed by the onslaught of death. It is thus up to the paranormal investigator, not to find blips and beeps on a recording device without context, but to uncover these external cognitions still at work and learn more about the context, almost as if they were archaeologists discovering bones--left over pieces of people’s active beliefs and culture--in a long forgotten tomb.
Just as a book can encapsulate the inner-workings of a consciousness that has passed on, so too can the environment itself, and the environment’s encapsulation may be a bit more interactive thanks to the extended mind hypothesis. Expressions of hostility, anger, love, or the simple act of making a loaf of bread or going about your daily chores, can linger and become a part of the site itself. As such, you are not simply surrounded by matter while in a ‘haunted location’ but instead, you are surrounded by active decoupled extensions of people’s minds still at work.
Beliefs are what originally coupled external and internal cognitive resources together. If one believes that by following a recipe, the right product will be created vs. just going off of memory, it will couple the recipe with the internal workings of the mind, creating a larger mind which has been extended outside of a person’s head through a belief. Belief, therefore, can be seen as a glue which binds and creates these cognitive systems throughout time. In this context, uncovering a ‘haunting’ is the equivalent of uncovering a still-active belief at work. And if it is culture that divides belief systems from one another, then perhaps removing ‘cultural barriers’ between us and a disembodied spirit is the proper way to more effectively communicate and gather more evidence. But what are these cultural barriers, and how does one break them down?
Most investigators see the barriers as technological in nature while disregarding the cultural barriers. Both may be at work. Ghosts, they say, must be consciousness that has switched frequencies, so by developing the proper technological equipment which can sample these frequencies (infrared, thermal, etc.) enables proof of continued existence to come flooding through. Sure, recording devices help gather data, but does the data come with any context? Does the data actually say anything? Not really, especially if the ghosts are trying to use their own cultural elements to communicate. And if the investigator is not a part of the culture expressed by the ghost, he will not know when or how any sort of ‘communication’ has really occurred. So, the investigator has to enter into that culture to help draw out further information.
External and internal elements work to form a larger system through belief, and as a result it may externalize the memory itself so that it can be recalled by others even when a portion of that mind has passed on.You’ve probably heard before that the universe doesn’t “forget” anything, that the state it is in right now contains all the information required to recreate all previous states. Whether or not one can ‘re-experience’ a past state through some technological and cultural means is obviously up for debate, just as it is up for debate on whether or not “hauntings” are in fact real, or simply ‘created’ by the participants in a paranormal investigation. Is it externalized belief from the dead that is being reinstantiated, or is the haunting something that is being actively created in the here and now?
John Sabol Jr, in his writings, believes the trick is to ‘participate’ in the past, almost as if you are a ghost from the future haunting the past by performing a ritual of sorts to get in contact with it and learn about their context. The more context one understands, the more effective the evidence becomes. By bringing in equipment just to measure temperature variations doesn’t create the required link or teach anything--it could be merely setting up a cultural barrier which distinguishes the investigator as an outsider that should be avoided. In addition, you can’t, for instance, read a hard drive made in 1975 unless you have the correct connections. If you are using a computer that is running 64 bit windows 7, you very well may be unlikely to uncover the hard drive’s content at all. You have to go back in the past and find a way to link to that older hard drive by becoming one with the past and use their technology and their culture, not necessarily your own. You yourself have to ‘haunt’ the past utilizing trigger objects and participation. This is his concept of doing a ‘ghost excavation’ and it is not something that modern day paranormal groups readily appreciate.
Participation allows you to become one with the extended mind of another and enables the externalized system to be connected and recallable through you. It is a confusing proposition however, because how is participation any different than ‘re-enacting the past’ like they do at Gettysburg? Sabol distinguishes the two by stating excavation is an immersion where you become one with the past, whereas reenactment is a re-creation of the past. Excavators ‘tap in’ to the past and actively communicate with it, whereas reenactment just goes through past motions over again as if you were performing a scene in a play.
If we utilize the hard drive example again, one can ‘recreate’ a hard drive that resembles the one written in 1975, but it will not allow you to ‘tap in’ to the contents of the 1975 drive itself and interact with it. Even if you recreate the zeros and ones, if there is a technological (or cultural) barrier to the encoding mechanism, you still may not be able to read it at all. It ‘looks’ like what occurred in the past, but you are not actually communicating with the extended mind that has been encoded there. Also, screaming at a hard drive from 1975 by asking ‘is anyone there?’ doesn’t immerse you in the drive’s contents. The trick is to rig yourself up to the past internally as a willing participant that can backtrack themselves and indicate a willingness to adapt to an outdated environment, not simply as an external observer to something foreign. This extreme immersion is the key to unlocking the doorway which is being expressed through such things as poltergeist activity and phantom voices.
Most people would say that we cannot communicate with the past, and if we could, then we ourselves would also be receiving messages from the future. And since both are silent, it’s all bullshit. Well, we have both a memory and also an ability to project possibilities of the future which can change where we will be in ten years. In your own mind, you communicate with your child self when you recall what happened way back when. You are also communicating with your future self when you set goals. Haven’t you ever spoken to the memory of yourself as a child? Have you ever heard a response back? I have, and it has changed my course of action. And since we can communicate with ourselves from the past, why can’t we communicate with others from the past as well while they attempt to communicate with us?
If we began to view beliefs themselves as conscious entities unhindered or trapped by time that have been extended into the environment--beliefs being what we perceive as ego--we may begin to more readily appreciate what is occurring at haunted locations. If you desire to communicate with a belief from the past, try developing a rapport with it as opposed to just having the ‘right’ equipment.
The Extended Mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Extended_Mind
C.A.S.P.E.R (John G. Sabol’s Website): http://www.ghostexcavation.com