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Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was an occult writer and spiritual explorer in the nineteenth century. She is often credited as the mother of the modern mind-body-spirit movement. In her pioneering work Isis Unveiled she describes the phenomenon of perpetual lamps. These lamps were discovered hanging in ancient sepulchres scattered across the world. Blavatsky explains that the lamps ‘burned for several hundreds of years, and would have continued to burn maybe forever, had they not been extinguished, or the vessels broken by some accident.’ The ancient Egyptians believed that the immortal soul remained close to the mummified body of the deceased. The soul only departed when the sepulchral lamp’s flame was extinguished. Alchemists identified a number of materials which, treated in the right way, could cause a fire to burn for decades or even hundreds of years. In Isis Unveiled Blavatsky chronicles other strange phenomena including the preternatural abilities of Indian ascetics to cause an image or text to appear on a flower’s petals by sheer force of will. She also reported the discovery of a rare species of rabbit, whose males were able to suckle their young.
Investigations of the fantastical are not confined to the spiritual explorers of the nineteenth century. In 1973, the author and anthropologist Lyle Watson rocked the spiritual and scientific worlds with the publication of his book Supernature. In this work, Watson details a number of investigations into unusual phenomena including how changes in the earth’s magnetic field can determine the gender of a foetus; the increase in violent crime when the moon is full; how a blunt blade left inside a model of the Great Pyramid will sharpen again in the space of one night.
Today one only has to surf the internet to uncover further examples of the bizarre. There is the infant who described how he had been brutally murdered in a past life then accurately identified where his body was buried. Photographs of the landscape of Mars showing what appear to be fragments of human bone. Lightning that occurs inside volcanic eruptions and the spontaneous human combustion of a young man in Canada.
There is an element of the fantastical in everybody’s lives. The fact that we are self-aware is extraordinary given that science has so far failed to produce a reasonable explanation of the nature of consciousness. We have hunches or bad vibes that turn out to be astonishingly accurate. When we sleep we travel to a place beyond the realms of the material world. Yet despite its daily occurrence in our lives, there is very little written about the dream state even in esoteric literature. In many ways we turn our attention away from the fantastical. We choose to focus on the mundane. Perhaps this makes us feel safe, secure and certain of our world. Yet the fantastical is always there, often in plain view. Next time you might decide to stop and take a closer look.
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