Friday, June 28, 2013

I've Seen THE{?} LIGHT{s}?

Preliminary comment: Tough topic today. Very complicated. The core realities here are probably many different unrelated things. What I'm going to do is to walk into this subject, throw some facts and ideas around, which will, hopefully, illustrate the complexity, and then let it go to your hands.

The general subject revolves around the belief that some lightform phenomena have a source which is "alive" in some sense, and that source is at a minimum conscious with a spiritual foundation of some kind, and that interactions with this "whatever" have been transformative for some humans.

It is quite possible to view the first parts of the hypothesis in the paragraph above as truly related to some reality external to ourselves, but that the transformative aspect of interacting with that reality is entirely our own "invention" following an encounter of astonishment. This is part of the complexity.

The inspiration for my blundering into this topic came from someone  pointing towards the book on the left. This book, a very interesting thing en toto, was written by the fellow pictured above. He is Mark Fox, a lecturer in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Joseph Chamberlain College, Birmingham, UK.

Fox was doing a study of an unusual, to say the least, scientist named Alister Hardy {pictured below}.

Hardy was a biologist who had a speciality in zoology and evolutionary theory. Unlike most bio-evolutionists however, Hardy was an actively religious and spiritual man, who believed that there was no reason to suspect that Science and Religion should be in conflict, and plenty of reason (in his mind) that ultimately there would be no conflict at all.
Hardy, not content merely to keep these thoughts in silence, began a quest, external to his laboratory and fieldwork, for possible evidence of the spiritual world manifesting in Nature.

He wrote several books about his ideas of God, Spirit, and Nature, getting the nickname "God's Biologist". But these books [pictured below] were not the source of Mark Fox's interests in the "spiritual encounters" ideas nor my own.

What Hardy did, almost as a hobby [like a much nobler form of my own chosen UFO research "hobby" while I was a prof, and closer to the work "outside" their fields by the great late 19th century scientists who founded the Society for Psychical Research], was to begin collecting grass roots peoples' spiritual encounter stories.

This gathering of "real world narratives" about "other worldly things" evolved into something called the Religious Experience Research Centre {RERC}. RERC was originally located at Manchester College, Oxford, and is currently in the University of Wales at Lampeter. The fact that the Lampeter college is the smallest university in the UK, yet willing to house possibly the most important research concept center, is an irony and a modern social/academic buffoonery that I'll drop with no further comment here. Lampeter/Wales IS, by the way, a very well thought of small university, so the quality of the place is first rate, thankfully.

When Mark Fox learned of the RERC depository of "spiritual encounter narratives", he was excited. There were over 6000 on file. Reading through these, he became impressed with the number of the reports which featured an interaction with light in some way, and a [as William James would say] "variety of religious experiences". Fox, absolutely rightly in my humble opinion, felt that these "data" needed an audience, and went about the work that led to the book originally mentioned.

To compose this thing, Fox culled the RERC files [some of this was forced due to how available some of them were to be read {the minority apparently}]. He selected 700 cases, later trimmed to 400, to illustrate the varying themes that he felt that he was discovering. In the book, many cases are thumbnailed, and Fox does the academic thing of surrounding them with comments derived from opinions as diverse as persons buying into old-style mediumship, to "modern orb" speculators, to Michael Persinger's tectonic-stress-makes-our-brains-go-crazy, to UFO lightfield watchers.

Although persons coming after Alister Hardy tended to use his data in a debunking way [a la Persinger], Hardy went to his own reward believing that the lightforms were manifestations of a spiritual presence occasionally showing itself in our own "physical" spacetime --- as, with regards to some portion of them, so do I. Fox, for his part, is careful not to speak too strongly, but at the very end of the book seems to end in this same place as well.

So..... what have we to deal with?

The early part of this post was a no-brainer... just "history/biography" clearly known. From here on is a Great Swamp of Possibilities, some of which is doubtless Swamp Gas. I, as I sit here staring at that wonderful Olde Print of...???... Will-o-the-Wisp, have no good path on which to proceed. What I'm going to begin with is a list of hypotheses that different theorists have tossed into the Swamp to see if they'll illuminate anything. Further blundering, pixy-led no doubt, will commence from there.

Hypotheses {An Incomplete Set}:
1). Such things are complete baloney {I have urges to shoot such "theorists" but my Catholicism forbids};
2). Such things are the products of natural physical processes, such as those which produce Marsh Gas "candles" and other natural luminous phenomena;
3). Such things are indicators of some still-unknown mechanism whereby the Earth, probably via geological strains, creates surprising lightform phenomena. These lightforms have much less intensity than Ball Lightning, but somehow persist longer. They are a novel natural discovery waiting to go into the science textbooks if we can ever figure them out;
4). Such things are one of the many aspects of extraterrestrial technology related to the UFO core phenomenon. They are therefore intelligently guided and can have purposeful interactions with humans;
Above this line are physical reductionist theories; below it are "paranormal" theories.
5). Such things are manifestations of God's Will in the world, and are therefore to be regarded as moments of revelation, transformation, guardianship. This action may be regarded as directly issuing from God, or via an angelic intermediary;
6). Such things are manifestations of the Spirit World. By this is meant whatever the source of "common" experiences of "hauntings" or apparitions of a non-religious figure type may be. Such olden-style events as the auguries communicating the death of friends or relatives [glowing figures coming out of the forests et al]. Such incidents are usually connected to "meaning" of some kind;
7). Such things are manifestations of the "Faerie" world. Faerie here would include folkloric entities from all cultures differing from the High God/Creator and his loyal angels;
8). Such things are generated by some powers within ourselves, usually latent unless trained by deep "monastic" commitment, but occasionally released by unusual circumstance. This theory does not view this as some physical [normal energy] release in analogy to a Persinger earthlight. The released light has a spiritworld foundation.

As said... incomplete. Add your own.

I'm going to continue my blunder with something that I know a little more about than some of the others: earthlights// lightfields// BOLs. Let's thrash about a little there, and see if it leads anywhere.....

BOLs and Lightfields: These things are, of course, all over the UFO scene and in the casefiles. Some of the reports are from "consistent" locations {like Goldhill, NC above}, and some are seemingly unique encounters {such as many of the "Stalking BOL" incidents, some of which have been discussed several times on this blog}. The big question is, of course: Are all these sorts of reports about the same things?? Some could be natural phenomena of a diffuse plasmaball type, some a type of UFO technology, some denizens of Faerie, some so far Out Proctor we haven't even labeled them yet. And folks.... this is one upon which I haven't a clue.

But I'm going to ramble anyway. My ramble says this: SOME of this pile of mystery IS "intelligent" in some sense of the word. Why??

When we meditate upon the famous lightfield areas [Hessdalen at the top and bottom above, and Marfa in the middle, as examples], it's a pretty comfortable hypothesis that these things are going to ultimately be some sort of physical textbook phenomenon. Look at the bottom picture, for instance: one of the Hessdalen research groups was able to get a fairly spectacular spectrum of the lightform, which looks like a good old physics-in-the-universe type of reading. To my mind, it would be easy to insert some high-technology "underneath" that physics result [i.e. make it a UFO], but going beyond that into the paranormal takes some extra theoretical dancing --- do spirits emit lawfully physical light??? Maybe they do, but there's suddenly a greater discussion to be had.

But maybe we'll be forced to have such a discussion regardless.

An Italian physicist [I have potential to butcher this name], Massimo Teodorani, became interested in the Hessdalen phenomenon, and went there all powered up with hightech equipment to study the lights. Many results were obtained. This positive experience fired Teodorani up for more. He trekked to several other locations around the planet, again harvesting many results. He came to the strong conclusion that these "traditional" lightfield areas DID produce or harbor light phenomena, the debunkers were full of swamp gas, and any serious scientific observers could see it for themselves. BUT..............

He began to get the creepy feeling that these lightforms were not merely some kind of inert albeit dynamic plasmas, but were, in some way inconceivable, intelligent. Well.... WHOOPS.

One can imagine the Olde Folk chuckling in their Mead. Yep, those youngsters, takes them a long time to see these things doesn't it?? And, therefore, is Folk Tradition and its imagery making an inroad into the sacred ground of textbook science?

Mark Fox, RERC, and Alister Hardy would second that.

But whereas Fox and Hardy would like the intelligent lights in the lightfields idea, the RERC files don't seem to include much of this sort of material. A case which vaguely fits our current category is the following:

1968: Irish Hills, MI. Two couples were vacationing in a rented cottage. One couple was sitting in their car, drinking beer [other activities not mentioned], and.....

"Suddenly she got very tense and nervous and said there's something out there. About this time the other couple had come along and asked what was wrong and she told them the same thing. My friend and I said we would go up the road and see if we could see anything. My girlfriend became very upset and insisted that we both stay with them in the car. There were absolutely no noises of any kind from insects or other wildlife whatsoever, which was most unusual as it was a rather warm summer night.

{{ Note, my fellow travelers, the OZ Effect we see so often in these really strange experiences}}.

"As he and I approached the road to the cottage area, I noticed a pulsating light down the road at a distance, that was the shape of a surfboard and appeared to be hovering about a foot off the ground. Knowing that I was not drunk or hallucinating and not wanting to sound crazy, I said nothing but was greatly relieved when he asked me if I saw that light, and being relieved, said, yes.

"As I stated, the light seemed to pulsate, first dimming and then growing brighter. My friend who was a good deal braver than I, started walking towards the light in spite of my suggestion that we return to the girls and the car. As we approached, or rather tried to approach the light, it would recede from us and only return when we would backtrack our footsteps. Several attempts were made to approach and each time the light would recede."

{{ Also note that this is classic light behavior for many lightforms which manifest in regular locations --- i.e. repeaters}}.

This "dance" with the lightform ended when the two guys heard a sound coming towards them through the brush off the road to their left. This sound approached; then it too seemed to back away. The respondent's friend wanted to penetrate into the bush after it, whatever "it" was. Perhaps fortunately the brush became too thick and pretty much impenetrable, so they quit that idea. They returned to the road and turned towards the car.

Suddenly the noise erupted again much closer. They stopped.

"Suddenly from a bush directly in front of us came a single loud expulsion of air as if someone's dying breath. I was petrified and the knife literally fell from my hand and I couldn't move. I don't know how long I stood there but vaguely remember ... my friend pulling my arm and leading me back to the car.

"Upon our return to the car, both girls themselves were in a state of terror, and stated that they felt as if they were being watched and heard heavy breathing. It was at this point that the experience was just too much for me, and I broke down and started crying due to the terror that I had felt".

This incident has features that we have seen before in the great basket of BOL encounters, but is, of course, rather more dramatic [especially on the sounds and terror side] than one gets in those cases. It is also more terror-filled than the typical incidents reported by Fox in his book [which much more often are uplifting and/or consoling in nature]. This one seemed to be included by Fox, 1). because it was there, detailed, and illustrative of variety; and 2). was an impetus for the respondent to open up his mind to both wonderment and to exploration of spiritual practice [he chose Hatha Yoga]. Correctly or not, the respondent connects the shocking encounter as propelling him into a different awareness of and orientation to a larger world.

I'm going to pause here. [Sorry. Typical small gas-tank behavior by me nowadays.] I'll try to pick this trail up when I have something to say.... maybe in a day or two?? ... with luck.

Peace, and may all your BOLs be Christmassy.


  1. I've had what one might call a "light" experience in the course of a questioning prayer. There was nothing of what one might call a physical, sensory experience, and yet I "saw" a manifestation of light, and of a kind of unitary order. The place was the crypt at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here in DC, and specifically before an image of the Infant of Prague. The impulse for the prayer was the death of someone I had known very well.

    The conclusion one might draw was: All is one, all is well, there is no death. But the feeling is essentially incommunicable.

    1. Thank you... most interesting. Your experience is precisely like one of the categories of "light" experiences that Fox is talking about. I'll try to locate a similar one for you in the next posting when I'm up to it.

  2. Hi Professor,

    In any of these cases, have you seen any reports of witnessing bright flashes of lights inside a closed environment? My mother and I have both had experiences where we witnessed bright lights in places where there where not any sources of light present. As in a closed bedroom or closet. With my experience, I did not feel any religious attachment but I couldn't come up with a logical explanation for it. I would describe it as perplexing.

    Thank you for the mention of the books regarding this interesting subject, I will be adding them to my reading list.

    1. Hi Elsie.

      Yes, I believe there are things like that which Fox categorizes as a type of light experience, meaning he has read more than one. When I'm feeling up for it, I'll look at the cases more closely and see if I can "publish" something similar next time.

  3. Professor:
    Stumbled upon your blog via, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not sure what to make of all this, but I'm open to just about any explanation on your long list. I wrote a book a decade ago called "Best Evidence" which among other paranormal phenomena explored the scientific evidence for ghosts and poltergeists. I came away convinced by the evidence that the phenomena are both real and "paranormal." After my mother died I also observed a light orb myself under odd circumstances. Still haven't figured out if it was nothing or something.
    I will look for the book you featured, and thanks for blogging the subject. Mike Schmicker

    1. Thank you for the comments. Unless centuries of "close encounters" with lightforms are entirely mistaken, we seem to be getting glimpses [of some kind] of a paranormal reality "next door". Everything that I've blogged about in this general area of anomalies seems to end with that as the primary hypothesis. If so, your own observation/encounter fits right in. {A small "distance" back in the blog the entry "The Mists of Death" seems to reside in this same cluster of experiences.}

    2. An odd photo I saw was posted on a bigfoot site. It was taken in the woods with a trail cam but it caught a weird light. It looked somewhat human in profile but glowing. I just assumed it was another photo shop but it is similar to this topic.

  4. I take pictures for our local paper of the events that go on in our community. This Memorial day (May 31 2010) I took them like every year where they hold the Memorial day parade.

    I can't mention who this man is but he owns and directs a Funeral parlor. The night before this picture was taken his God Daughter was killed in a motorcycle accident. She was very young and close to him.

    He had to take care of the arrangements. You can see in the pictures the emotion as he was giving his speech for Memorial Day. The pictures were taken 20 seconds apart. I blew up photo 2 to show of what I think is a spiritual sprit. That is the only way I know how to describe it. Please let me know what you think.

    I would also like to Post your thoughts on this web page. I will only use your First name or initials. The only editing I did was remove a person on the left side of photo 1 because I didn't have permission to post Her. If you would like a copy of the originals just Email me.

    The web page for Ghost or Spiritual Spirit.

    1. 1). I have not the expertise to have earned an opinion on something like this;
      2). You should be talking to a camera expert on internal and external reflections;
      3). There is a lot of light hitting the subject; note the reflections on the flag's red stripes;
      4). The subject alters his stance slightly between photos, changing the angle of his glasses lens to the camera;
      5). The anomalous lightform roughly contours with the lens of the glasses;
      6). There is a slight blurring in the picture, thereby slight motion;
      7). One should explore the possibility of this alternative hypothesis or similar ones, even if they turn out to be wrong;
      8). You are welcome to print this, though my thoughts on the subject are surely worthless.

  5. i wish mr Jerome Clark would add here his personal close encounter experience with BoL on a strecth of highway (famous for a BoL manifestation) , including him chasing the BoL and in turn get chased by the BoL.

  6. Hello, I had an encounter with a "light" in 1991. I was in a hospital emergency room being x-rayed following a minor car accident. A young man was brought in with multiple gunshots who died shortly after his arrival. The doctors were in a such a hurry to tend to him that they failed to close the curtains which would have separated our rooms. I was upset by what I saw and heard and when the young man died I began to cry. I then heard a voice distinctly ask me why I was crying but adding that I did not even know him. I was so astounded to hear this that I wiped my eyes and opened them wide and saw a large ball of light floating near the door of the room. Then the voice said that he was going to show me where he was so I would not be sad for him. At this point, the ball of light, shape shifted and became an outline of a doorway, a doorway which opened from a small crack to a large opening and light beams came shooting out of it. When this occurred I was suddenly filled with a rush of happiness as I have never known, it was like pure ectasy flowing through my body. The answer to every question I ever had was within reach. Then suddenly the "door" closed and the ball of light reappeared. It said, See this is where I am and you should not be sad for me. I was further instructed to tell his mother that he loved her and that his brother had not meant to kill him. I asked hospital personnel for this boy's name. But they would not provide it due to privacy laws. It took some investigative work but I later learned a 17 yr old boy had been shot by his brother in an argument and had died. The brother served time in prison. I have tried for years to find this family but been unsuccessful. I know his name was Tyrone McCoy and he had a 2 year old daughter at the time. As technology has improved, I have located some who knew the family but never been able to find the mom. My experience was documented by near death researcher Dr. Penny Sartori.

    1. Spectacular story. I am fairly certain that nearly every human being hopes that such occurrences are true.



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