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James McClenon, Ph.D.
1045 Back Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322 USA
Introduction: The ritual healing theory provides an evolutionary scenario pertaining to anomalous experience, shamanism, and consciousness (McClenon, 2002, 2018). Hypotheses derived from this theory are evaluated through a group psychokinesis (PK) experiment.
Ritual Healing Theory: Ancient aquatic worms (sleeping), reptiles (dreaming), and mammals (dissociative animal hypnosis) show evolutionary progression regarding consciousness. The ritual healing theory hypothesizes that pre-linguistic hominids, around fires perhaps a million years ago, engaged in dissociative proto-rituals involving repetitive voice modulation, a stress-reduction strategy. This led to communal chanting, singing, dancing, advanced dissociative states, symbolization, and eventually language. Selective mating, based on singing, dancing, and language, probably expedited this process. Dissociative processes facilitated anomalous experiences (ESP, PK, OBE), resulting in shamanism. Shamanic healing, effective due to hypnotic/placebo effects, further shaped religion’s genetic basis.
Hypotheses: The ritual healing theory argues that anomalous experiences (apparitions, waking and dreaming ESP, out-of-body and near-death experiences, PK, synchronicity, spiritual healing, and miscellaneous anomalous experiences) are correlated with dissociation and other shamanic variables (dissociation-anomalous experience hypothesis). These experiences generated beliefs regarding spirits, souls, life after death, and magical abilities, the ideological foundations for shamanism. Shamanism was launched by Paleolithic OBE, ESP, and group PK (experiential source hypothesis). Shamanic healing offered humans survival advantages due to hypnotic and placebo effects (shamanic effectiveness hypothesis). As a result, shamanic healing selected for dissociative/absorptive alleles, further shaping the genetic capacity for religiosity (genetic basis hypothesis).
Psychical research theories pertain to this process. Batcheldor (1984) argued that fear of psi, witness inhibition, and ownership resistance thwart group PK. He hypothesized that artifacts (normal perceptions that seem paranormal) induce belief in PK, facilitating authentic paranormal events. Lucadou (2015) argued that quantum observation governs psi, often thwarting it. The ritual healing theory builds on these ideas, using Hobson’s model of consciousness. Anomalous experiences involve special combinations of waking and dreaming chemical systems. They deviate from typical sleep-wake cycles, modifying waking “reality production” (figures 1, 2). As a result, psi has dream-like, transitory, creative, trickster qualities (trickster hypothesis).
Experiment: This report describes an ongoing field experiment, designed to shed light on Paleolithic shamanism (McClenon, 2002, 2018). The experiment was not designed to prove that specific experiences are paranormal but to observe artifact-belief-experience relationships. A weekly on-line Zoom group, the reconstituted Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT), began meeting in August 2019, with the goal of eliciting group PK. Most participants had extensive histories of paranormal experience.
Results: Participants experienced increased levels of anomalous experience outside the sessions and heard unexplained sounds during sessions (similar to electronic voice phenomena). One participant’s mother died, launching a series of life-after-death PK and synchronistic experiences (experiential source hypothesis). In June 2020, the group experimented with three pinwheels, under a mobile (sensitive to air currents). The pinwheels were monitored during sessions by a cell phone camera in a closed room. The group observed the pinwheels turning while the mobile remained stationary. The pin wheels, and mobile, did not turn when the group was not meeting. During later sessions, the center pinwheel turned while the other two pinwheels, and mobile, remained stationary. The group found that the pinwheel would not turn when covered by a glass jar (trickster hypothesis). Attempts to determine the “entity” causing turning were not conclusive. Pinwheels seemed to respond to participants’ verbalizations and emotions. Participants regarded “spirits” or “group consciousness” as logical explanations (experiential source hypothesis). Edited videos of pinwheel movements are included in this presentation. Video documentation seemed to inhibit the phenomena (trickster hypothesis). Attempts at spiritual healing were considered beneficial (shamanic effectiveness hypothesis).
Conclusion: Study findings supported the experiential source hypothesis, trickster hypothesis, and shamanic healing hypotheses.
Fig. 1 Hobson’s (1994) model of consciousness
Fig. 2 Hobson’s (1994) model of the rapid-eye-movement (REM) cycle
Hobson, A. (1994). The Chemistry of Conscious States: How The Brain Changes its Mind. Boston: Little Brown.
Batcheldor, K. J. (1984). Contributions to the Theory of PK Induction from Sitter-Group Work. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 78: 105-132.
Lucadou, W. v. (2015). The Model of Pragmatic Induction (MPI). Pp. 221-242 in Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Vol. 2, edited by Edwin C. May and Sonali Marwaha, Santa Barbara, CA: Prager.
McClenon, J. (2002). Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.
McClenon, J. (2018). The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery. San Antonio, TX: Anomalist Books.