Tales from the Psychic Toolbox ----------------INTUITION

Intuition is perception via the unconscious. Carl Jung

What is your gut telling you right now? No, really. Sure, you’ve heard that you should listen to your “gut feelings” but while intuition is something everyone has, it’s not something we all pay attention to. And while most people accept the existence of intuition, you might not think of it as a psychic ability or tool.

So what is intuition, exactly?

The dictionary defines intuition as immediate understanding without reasoning or thought. In other words, if you have a problem, intuition jumps directly to the solution without passing Go or collecting $200. You don’t have to think about it, you suddenly just know what the answer is. Think about Ben Kenobi talking to Luke Skywalker: “Trust your feelings, Luke.”

Of course, many of us are afraid to trust that inner voice. The rational mind gets in the way, causing you to doubt and second-guess yourself. Later, you’ll probably hit yourself in the forehead and utter a loud Homer Simpson “D’Oh!”, wishing you’d listened to that feeling you had.

Is intuition a form of psychic ability then? A sixth sense? Perhaps. Alexis Carrel said: "Intuition comes very close to clairvoyance; it appears to be the extrasensory perception of reality."

Reality is in the eye of the beholder – or the mind. Intuition is said to come directly from the subconscious mind, which has the ability to “clue in” to reality as it is. On the other hand, the rational mind is constantly under the influence of past experience, emotions, ideas and countless other things. The rational mind can be focused on a single thing to the exclusion of all else. The rational mind can also be distracted. In contrast, the subconscious mind is constantly and consistently taking in every tiny detail of your surroundings, every nuance of every conversation, even the subtle body language of people in your vicinity. This means that the subconscious mind knows things that the rational or conscious mind does not!

Examples abound. You might walk into the office one morning and immediately sense that something is wrong. You haven’t talked to anyone or consciously noticed a problem yet you know something is not right. Or you might meet someone who is friendly, interesting and attractive – yet you have a nagging feeling that all is not what it seems. Conversely, you might run into someone who appears gruff and rough. Yet your gut tells you this person can be trusted. Your subconscious mind has picked up on things your rational mind doesn’t see.

Still, intuition can go above and beyond simply registering clues in your immediate vicinity, and this is where intuition appears to cross over into the realm of the paranormal. (In fact, almost all types of psychic ability and ESP can be grouped under the general heading of intuition.)
One of my older daughters called me last night to share a couple of her experiences, which she said I could share with my readers:

Three years ago, she lived in a small town and could only access the nearby big city by a winding coastal highway. She was SO excited to plan a shopping expedition to the city to find a costume to wear to a party. The morning of the trip, however, brought something different.

“The second I was conscious of being awake, there was a huge thought in my head: Don’t go anywhere because you’ll be in a car accident today. It was as strong as I’ve ever felt anything in my whole life.”

Many of us would have passed it off but my daughter had had enough experiences to know that she needed to listen to her intuition, even though it meant missing something she’d been looking forward to for days.

“That day at the time I would have been on the highway, there was a big car pileup and seven people died. It was a four-lane highway, and the accident was so bad that it was closed for nine and half hours.” My daughter has no doubt that she would have been involved in the terrible accident somehow if she had stuck to her original plan.

A year later, she and her husband were traveling by snowmobile to a tiny and remote town in the mountains, a place they had never been. When they got to the summit of the road and stopped to rest, she jumped off the snowmobile and declared that they were going to buy a house in the town.

"Everything was so beautiful, the snow was sparkling. We hadn't even gotten to where we were going but I had such a powerful feeling that I was getting closer and closer to home." They did indeed buy a house there and are very happy.

By the way, many people report a physical sensation that accompanies this intuitive sensing. For some it may be a prickling of the skin or scalp, or even goosebumps; for others it might be a peculiar sensation in the stomach or heart region. One woman reported that her cheeks got very hot when she was experiencing this heightened perception.

As with most psychic tools, practice makes perfect. The more you listen to your intuition, the more you’ll be able to hear it.

So was there a time YOU listened to your intuition --- or wish you had?

Dani Harperhttp://www.daniharper.com/

Tales from the Psychic Toolbox -------------------------- THE OUIJA BOARD

“The magic is inside you. There ain’t no crystal ball.” Dolly Parton
Crystal balls, Ouija boards, tarot cards, etc. --- objects like these have become clich├ęs in our culture, objects to play with at parties or decorate with at Halloween.

But perhaps there’s something more to them.

If psychic ability exists, then why not psychic tools? Because that’s what these really are. If I’m examining my finger in search of a splinter, I might use a magnifying glass in order to see it more clearly. It certainly focuses my view on minute details. I’m thinking that psychic tools might be used in this way as well. Some people use them to focus their abilities. The power is not in the tools themselves but in the persons wielding them – or perhaps in the energies they connect with.

Did you know that the topic of psychic tools causes controversy even among psychics? Apparently there are two schools of thought. One, the intuitive camp, maintains that only the gift itself should be used. Others feel that whatever helps the psychic to access and express their gift is as acceptable as a plumber using a pipe wrench or an artist using a brush.

Over the next few blogs, let’s explore these psychic tools one at a time.


Ouija (wee-JA or wee-GEE) as we know it today is likely made by Parker Brothers and marketed as a game. (Hands up if you got one for Christmas or giggled over one at a slumber party! Is there any girl who hasn’t asked who she was going to marry?) It consists of a rectangular board on which the alphabet is printed, and a planchette – a small wooden triangle or heart supported on castors or wooden feet. The participant rests his fingertips lightly on the planchette and it glides over the board, pointing to various letters and numbers to spell out a message or answer questions.

Also called a spirit board, talking board or witch board, the planchette on its own was a popular psychic tool and widely used in the Great Spiritualist Movement of the mid-nineteenth century. Sometimes the wooden planchette had a pencil affixed to the pointer so that messages could be physically spelled out on paper. A teacup with a handle was often used as a planchette in a pinch, or a pendant necklace gently swung like a pendulum. Either would point to letters of the alphabet or basic yes and no answers on a piece of paper. The idea of having a preprinted board to use with a mass-produced planchette wasn’t patented until 1890.

By the way, no one had heard of the name Ouija until the board and planchette were marketed as a set. In fact, no one really knows to this day what the word means or who exactly came up with it. The name itself is not patented – it’s long since passed into the language of pop culture.

So how does it work? Is the Ouija’s planchette guided by the person’s subconscious mind, or does it tap into their psychic energy? (And if you’re psychically inclined, is there a difference?) As a writer I can visualize ideas coming to me just because my mind is quiet and focused – but some people have written entire books using an Ouija board! Of these, most claim to have “channeled” the work from an unseen entity.

Mediums suggest that the Ouija board can also be used to channel messages from beyond. Does it work? I read recently that renowned psychic Sylvia Browne strongly recommends against the use of an Ouija board. Her analogy is that it’s like throwing open your front door to absolutely anyone and everyone – and not everyone is friendly. Certainly there is no shortage of scary anecdotes about the device.

When I was fifteen, a group of us (all nerdy members of the library club) held a candlelight session with an Ouija board in a very old house on the outskirts of town. We each took a turn with the planchette. The more outgoing of us would embellish what the board was “saying” for the entertainment of our friends. The shyer ones would pass it to the next person quickly.

Then it was Cliff’s turn. He was the nerdiest of all of us and uncrowned king of the skeptics. He hadn’t wanted to play with the Ouija board in the first place, but agreed finally. He worked the board, delivering witty little answers to our questions – and then he got very quiet. The planchette slowed.

“Someone’s here,” he said.

We thought he was playing. Joanna asked the board to spell out who was here, but it didn’t get a chance. Cliff began speaking, slowly but steadily. He felt a presence and identified it as Grey Squirrel, a native man who claimed to have once lived near where the old house now stood.

This was a great tale! We watched Cliff’s face in the flickering candlelight, as he described the man’s features, his life, his home, his family. Then in mid-sentence, he screamed out “Smallpox!” and jumped into the middle of the circle, rolling and flailing. It would have been a great prank, an expertly-delivered fright at the end of a scene-setting story...

Except it wasn’t. We turned on the lights and our 6’2” skeptic was ashen-faced and huddled on the floor, clutching a blanket around himself. Crying. “What was that?” he asked repeatedly. “What was that?”

We didn’t know.

Later, after he’d settled down and caught his breath (and had a stiff drink), Cliff revealed that at first he’d been intrigued as words and descriptions seemed to “just come” to him. That ended abruptly as complete terror took hold with a single word, a word that had struck fear and death into the hearts of many in centuries past. “His family all died,” he said. “And Grey Squirrel too. All of them. I just suddenly knew it. I knew it. I’ve never been so f---ing scared. What the hell was that?”

I still don’t know. Did our friend tap into residual energy of a long-ago occurrence? Was there a ghost still wandering the area who just wanted to be heard? Or had we all taken a step into the Twilight Zone? One thing I do know – Cliff didn’t make it up. Believe me, I’d seen him onstage in theatre group and he just wasn’t that good of an actor.

So now it’s YOUR turn. Did you have an Ouija board as a kid? (By the way, there are PINK ones now, apparently designed for little girls!) Do you have a story of your own to share? Or you could suggest a topic for a future blog – what paranormal object, creature or occurrence do YOU want to learn more about?

Dani Harper

Got Psychic?

“Eenie Meenie, Chilly Beanie, the spirits are about to speak!” Bullwinkle J. Moose

Although I adored the supernatural from Day One, my childhood experience was pretty much limited to Halloween, sci-fi and monster movies, and old episodes of the Twilight Zone on TV. It was a nine-day wonder when a classmate brought a Magic 8 Ball to school. When I was fifteen, some friends and I scared ourselves silly with an Ouija board at a party. And there you have it -- the sum total of my exposure to psychic phenomena as a kid. I mean, there weren't any books in our small town library on the subject. No internet either (my god, how did I LIVE?) and nobody was talking about psychic visions at the beauty shop.

Things are very different now. There’s been a worldwide upsurge in interest in psychic phenomena, particularly in what some call second sight. Check the movies for instance. Next (Nicholas Cage), The Gift (Cate Blanchette), and Suspect Zero (Ben Kingsley) all deal with psychic abilities. Television fiction includes Medium, Ghost Whisperer and The Dead Zone. Television non-fiction has John Edwards Cross Country and Psychic Detectives. There are countless books on the subject, many of which have hit best seller lists. Across the country, you can take courses and seminars in developing your own psychic gifts. And by conservative estimate, there are a gazillion internet sites devoted to the subject...

No doubt about it, the concept of psychic ability has become almost mainstream. Nearly respectable. If you had visions, dreams, feelings or intuitions about something, you’d find at least a few people in your immediate circle of friends, family and co-workers who would take you seriously. Even the highly popular spiritualist movement of the 1800s, which flourished in the United States and Britain, produced only a scant fraction of the psychic interest we're seeing now.

There are even pet psychics. One was in the news recently when a 6-pound chihuahua was carried away by 70 mph winds at a Michigan flea market in late April. Many volunteers searched for “Tinker Bell”, but without success until Tink’s owners consulted a pet psychic. They credit the psychic with helping them to locate the little dog about ¾ mile away in a wooded area. (Tinker Bell’s all right, by the way.)

I’ve had occasion to witness psychic ability in unexpected places – even in my own kids. For instance, there was the time that my youngest daughter, Sammy, then age 3 or so, had disappeared. We turned the house upside down, but my second oldest daughter – Jaime, age 14– ran outside. She went straight to a strange car that was parked in the driveway and flung open the door. Sammy was locked inside! Somehow our toddler had managed to get in the vehicle but couldn’t open the door to get out again. The heat in the car was intense and another few minutes would have had dire consequences. Jaime said that it just came into her mind where Sammy was. This wasn’t the first time such things had popped into her head either. She found someone else’s lost child in the mall not long after. She overheard the parents panicking, and again, the knowledge simply came to her where the child was. So she went to that location, collected the child and brought him back to his folks.

Are there fake psychics? Of course, just like there are charlatans in all walks of life. But while I'm not ready to pay for advice from an alleged psychic on the internet, I have a very healthy respect for true psychic phenomena. And some people are now theorizing that psychic abilities have a sound basis in science. After all, according to Einstein, the future already exists. Is it so far-fetched that some people can plug into it? Perhaps we all can, if we just knew how.

How about you? What do you think of psychics or psychic ability in general? Have you had any experiences with it?

Dani Harperwww.daniharper.com/

Do ghosts observe Daylight Savings?

We’ve all heard them – urban legends about ghosts that show up at a certain time of day – or rather night. It’s a regular part of many campfire stories, like the spirit of the Hook-handed Killer who haunts Lovers Lane at exactly midnight. In fact, when the clock strikes 12 a.m. in any story, TV show or movie, you automatically know things are about to get scary.

But what about real ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, apparitions and manifestations? When you read accounts of recurring paranormal events, they also seem to take place at very specific times. For example, one of the most recent stories I’ve come across concerns the spirit of a young girl who was said to appear in her former room at exactly 11:30 p.m. Another person reported that her pantry cupboard was opened at exactly 12:34 a.m. every night by an unseen hand.

Why 11:30 p.m.? Or 12:34 a.m.? Or ANY particular time? Nobody knows.

It isn’t hard to understand why human beings have associated the dark (and therefore the night) with scary or odd things. And if there are spirits to connect with – or seeking to connect with us -- it stands to reason that night time may offer more opportunity. Our brains are less busy, the surroundings are quieter, and we may be far more sensitive than we are in the daylight hours. But what about a specific hour?

The idea of a connection between paranormal events and time is not new. Just read Hamlet, for example. The ghost of Hamlet’s father, the king, appears at midnight each night and leaves as the cock crows to signal dawn. In the same play, Shakespeare draws a connection between the paranormal and a certain hour: "Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.” Since Shakespeare’s works reflected the culture of the time, does that mean that the general populace assigned supernatural attributes to certain hours?

In trying to research this intriguing topic, I quickly discovered that “prime paranormal time” may be in the eye of the beholder. The so-called witching hour – allegedly the best time to connect with the supernatural, work spells, and perform rituals – varies from source to source, and encompasses pretty much anytime between dusk and dawn. Some accounts claim that spirits are at their most active between the hours between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Curiously, midnight seems to take a backseat to 3 a.m. as prime time for encounters with paranormal forces.

Even Hollywood is aware of this strange wee hour. “The Amityville Horror” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” both refer to 3 a.m. as being some sort of activating signal to supernatural forces (to be accurate, it’s 3:15 in Amityville). Is life imitating art or the other way around? Has pop culture influenced people to expect supernatural occurrences at that time of night?

I wondered if heightened paranormal activity had anything to do with time of death. If someone died at 3 a.m., would their spirit be more likely to show up at that time? With so many ghost stories (real ones, not Hollywood ones) reported as happening at 3 a.m., I thought for sure that 3 would be the most common time of death. However, there’s a persistent rumor that more people die around 4 a.m. than any other time. Recent hospital stats are tough to come by, but some sources declare that the most common time of death from all causes is 8 a.m., and the second most common time is 6 p.m. Guys under 65 are most likely to die at midnight. A gal in that age bracket would be most likely to go an hour earlier at 11 p.m. Three a.m. doesn’t get a single mention. So much for my time of death theory...

Time isn’t always measured by the clock face, however. An ancient astrological system of planetary hours exists, where day and night are divided by dusk and dawn. Each section is then divided into 12 “hours” (not the sixty-minute variety) and each hour is ruled by one of seven “planets” (actually the five planets visible to the naked eye plus the sun and the moon). For instance, the hour influenced by Mercury would be particularly good for writing – I’ll have to remember that – and magic spells are often worked at the hour most compatible with their goal. A love spell would naturally be done during the hour ruled by Venus, for example. But a spell for fertility would be best done in a Moon hour. Some sources point to the hours influenced by Saturn or Jupiter as potentially good times for paranormal phenomena. Yet phantoms, spirits and specters don’t seem to restrict themselves to those times.

Overall, it looks like ghosts can show up any time they darn well please. And I have no idea why spirits would be concerned with time anyway – aren’t they beyond that now? (I sure hope I’m not checking my watch when I’m on the other side!) As you can see, my research so far has left me with more questions than answers. But overriding them all is this one:

Does the netherworld observe daylight savings time? If a spirit usually shows up at 3 a.m., does it make adjustments to its schedule when we turn the clocks forward or back?

I’m afraid that one is going to be stuck in my head for a long, long time…

Dani Harper http://www.daniharper.com/

What do YOU think? Are some times of the day or night more prone to supernatural activity? Or are we more susceptible to the suggestion of it then? Why do ghosts seem to care what time it is?