If there is an Unknown Power that interacts with us, it often does so by means of light. Strange lights turn up in spiritual visions, in near-death experiences, in dreams, in encounters with unidentified sky entities (UAPs), in works of art (Rembrandt, Caravaggio), and in other unpredictable circumstances. See, for many fascinating examples, Annekatrin Puhle’s (2013) Light Changes: Experiences in the Presence of Transforming Light.
I don’t know but it’s not inconceivable that an outside UAP intelligence is playing light games with my head. My first encounter occurred many years ago when I first got my Ph.D., in the form of lights in the sky that danced to the tune of music I was listening to in my apartment with my girlfriend in Greenwich Village. The message then seemed to me—“Got a Ph.D.? Figure this out, wise guy!”
I’ve in fact been having some queer celestial light effects very recently. Sometimes, after dark, I get the urge to step outside and look up into the night sky. Once I did that about a month ago and immediately noticed what looked like a star that was moving, so I assumed it was some kind of satellite. I kept watching it when suddenly it was somewhere else many miles away and sailing in a new direction. I observed all this and began to doubt it was a satellite but something hanging out with us and decidedly from elsewhere. Satellites, as far as I know, don’t carry on that way in the sky, quantum leaping from space to space.
The lamp that turned itself on four times. This next item in my little narrative about paranormal lights is again one from the previous month, early November. I was in a state of excitement over certain ideas about how to free up some of the more esoteric powers of the mind, sitting at my downstairs desk on a gray morning. Suddenly, the table with my computer becomes like brilliant daylight, just for a split second. Wow! What was that? How does it suddenly light up like that? Strange. Then it happens again, but this time I realize it’s the lamp beside me. Lights going on in haunted houses may indicate the presence of spirits. So I’m pondering this when the phone rings, and it’s my friend and colleague, Ed Kelly, who is radically open to the mysteries of the mind, and a serious scholar that explores them.
Well, after our telephone talk, I get back to my computer, and almost immediately my overhead lamp flashes on twice, very quickly. And that was it. The light never behaved like that before or since. The lamp is new and sturdy, all the wires and connections intact; and I have to press hard to turn the lamp on. In any case, there was no visible or tangible cause for those flashes of light that seemed to resonate with what I was thinking at the moment.
Light figures in my psychic life by it connection with painting, a visual art that depends on light. Without light there would be no color. Painting has always been a part of my life; one reason may sound surprising. When I neglect to paint she does two things to bring me back; she, the anima of my art, makes me nervous, and I get despondent and irritable, but at first have no idea why I’m feeling out of sorts. The second thing she does is haunt my dreams.
When I was a graduate student of philosophy, I was immersed in the intoxicating world of words and concepts, powerful abstract ideas and thinkers. After a while I starting having dreams of painting, big luminous paintings floating in space, and my dreams became an art gallery. Then one morning I said to myself: “Hey! Those amazing paintings! I created them—my subconscious, at any rate.” It then occurred to me that my subconscious self was telling me that I should resume painting.
And so it went, I painted and have rarely let up, though recently for a long stretch had grumpily withdrawn my attention from the anima of my art, and quite recently had a dream that beckoned me back, but it was pretty strange, and I’m not quite sure exactly how to take the message. I dream I’m in the presence of a bunch of paintings, mostly flat, hard-edge patterns of color (not my style). But the paintings were not the important part of the dream; the more I looked at them, the forms and color would change and give off flashes of light—not unlike the flashes of light given off by my lamp.
One more example of a dream encounter with the Light. But this one goes back a ways. It was a long complicated dream that culminated in a conversation with an old friend, an artist, whom I had not seen for some years. Then, in the dream, I experienced a heart to heart flash with the very Being of Light that near-death visionaries, shamans and mystics claim to encounter. Not that long after, I decided to look up my old friend, the painter, Mark Whitcombe, but sadly discovered that he had passed into the Unknown.
Michael, the ‘light experience I’m about to describe has happened to me twice, both times during the day, while sitting on a chair meditating. The setting was different each time, once at home late one morning and once at school in my office very early in the morning when there was no one around. The meditation consisted of simply ‘watching’ my breath, the technique I had been using on a regular basis for some months. The first time the experience occurred I had my eyes closed whereas the second time my eyes were just slightly opened. Both times, as the meditating session was progressing, my consciousness started to ‘drift’ into a very relaxed state resembling sleep, except I don’t believe I was falling asleep as I was very much on point focusing on my breath. Then, suddenly, at some point, say 10-15 minutes into the session, I experienced a very intense flash of light lasting just a fraction of a second; it was like an electric shock traveling through my entire body that shook me right out any grogginess or deep relaxation I was experiencing. The intensity of the light kind of felt as an actual bolt of lightning had struck very close to where I was sitting, except that, obviously, there was no thunder and the light was much more intense and it was strikingly ‘white’. Needless to say, I was mildly frightened to the point that I could not quite get back to my meditation session. Over the years, I have tried to rationalize what happened during those two occasions. The only thing that comes remotely close that I can think of is that I was, in fact, drifting into sleep, and that the flash of light was the brain’s version or visual system’s version of a myoclonic jerk as I was going into a hypnogogic state and back into wakefulness. The problem with that explanation is that I don’t recall having ever experienced anything like that ‘lightning strike’ even though I have awaken countless times when trying to fall asleep.
All these are expansive comments on my idea. Many thanks for your additional ideas, Miguel. This post is meant to suggest that parapsychology can help us understand some traditional ideas related to religious and shamanic experience, the eternal human quest to break through to new realms of power and consciousness that presumably lie within us.
Michael, you and Miguel speak my thoughts, and my language better than I do. I started to say we are "on the same page", but better said, we are accompanied from time to time by the same mysterious Light. The Light is infinitely talented, playing the role needed for the moment. I've enjoyed a number of different encounters, but the one I will tell here is combined with a spiritual presence, as close as I've come to a "ghost" encounter. I had an allergist doctor/friend who seemed often troubled by I know not what. We often shared briefly interesting conversations, but never got to the center of our discussions. I went to a scheduled appointment. His nurse asked me to wait in his office. Still and silent, I had a strange feeling. I, for unknown reason at the time, looked behind me and up. In the far corner of the ceiling was a group of multi-colored lights, each only inches in diameter, all nestled together in a group perhaps 20" in diameter, all seeming to quiver gently. Beautiful, brief, and very strange. Then gone. The nurse came in and told me with shaking voice that Dr. blank shot himself the night before. Dead - but not quite. He without doubt just dropped in to say hello, and goodby, for now.
Rip (great name!), many thanks for your comment and fascinating story. I never tire of the unexpectedly weird stories I come across. Light is a phenomenon associated with ghostly, mystical, and UFO phenomena. I have a paper planned, possibly a book germinating, on the central role of light in phenomena of transcendence. Light would seem to be the essential symbol and medium of consciousness.
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