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Psychic Science - Glossary of Terms in Parapsychology
Category: People and society > Parapsychology
Date & country: 17/09/2007, UK
Words: 415

Cipher Test
A coded message left by a person who intends to communicate the cipher after death.

Christian Science
A religious healing movement founded by Mary Baker Eddy. Rejects orthodox medical practice.

A spell or object possessing magic power.

Cerebral Anoxia
Lack of oxygen to the brain, often causing sensory distortions and hallucinations. Sometimes used to explain features of the near-death experience.

Random, unpredictable influences on events.

Receiving messages and inspiration from discarnate entities. See also medium.

A Brazilian spiritist religion. See also Umbanda, Voodoo.

Card Guessing
An experimental test for ESP in which subjects guess the identity of a set of cards (e.g., playing cards or Zener cards).

Fortune telling using cards. See also tarot.

A box or curtained enclosure in which a physical medium is secured and from which various phenomena may manifest (e.g., lights, objects moving, instruments played). Certain stage magicians can simulate this procedure with great effect.

Response made by a subject in a card-guessing or other ESP test.

Book Test
(a) A communication in which the sitter is asked to look at a specific book and page in order to receive a significant message. (b) An effect in which the psychic or mentalist divines the words written on a particular page of a book.

Blind Matching (BM)
An identical procedure to open matching, except that the key cards are unseen by the subject.

Black Magic
Magical spells or rituals practiced with the intention of harming others. Cf. white magic .

An experimental control in which subjects are not informed of certain key features of the experiment. Also used to refer to a procedure where a judge is asked to compare targets and responses without knowing which responses were made to which targets. See also double blind.

Black Art
Conjuring technique of concealing objects using black covers against a black background. Also used by fraudulent mediums.

A general term for techniques that involve giving a person information about their current physiological state (e.g., heart rate, EEG). Biofeedback is used to enable people to control consciously their physiological processes.

Being (or appearing to be) in two different places at the same time. See also autoscopy.

Psychokinetic effects on biological processes. See also DMILS.

(a) In experimental parapsychology a procedure undertaken in order to ensure that the experiment is conducted in a standard fashion and so that results are not unduly influenced by extraneous factors. See also control group, artefact. (b) In spiritualism, a discarnate entity who communicates with a trance medium and who generally controls the trance state.

A person who secretly provides information to a fraudulent psychic or mentalist.

Using trickery to simulate paranormal effects, generally for the purpose of entertainment.

Contact Mind Reading
A technique simulating telepathy, in which the 'mind reader' (who generally holds a hand or arm) responds to slight muscle movements produced unconsciously by the person whose mind is apparently being read. Also known as muscle reading, Cumberlandism or Hellstromism.

Collective Unconscious
Concept put forward by C.G. Jung to refer to a level of unconscious thought and experience shared collectively by humans.

In mediumship, a message purported to be from a discarnate entity.

A discarnate entity from whom the medium receives messages. See also drop-in communicator.

Billet Reading
Procedure in which a question is secretly written on a piece of paper which is folded or sealed in an envelope, and handed to the psychic who attempts to answer the question. Various trickery can be employed by fraudulent psychics and mentalists.

In Tibetan Buddhism, an intermediate state of existence, usually referring to the state between life and rebirth.

Basic Technique
Term used in card-guessing tests of clairvoyance, in which the top card of the deck is placed to one side after each guess.

I Ching
Ancient Chinese 'Book of Changes'. It describes 64 hexagrams (patterns of 6 broken and unbroken lines) which are used in a divinatory practice involving the throwing of yarrow stalks or coins.

A corpse that has been partly brought back to (soul-less) life by magic. See also Voodoo.

(a) Seeing one's 'double'. See also astral body. (b) Looking back at one's own body from a position outside of the body. See also out of body experience.

Ancient Egyptian concept of a person's essence, believed to be be immortal. Cf. Ka. See also Soul.

In Gaelic belief, a female entity who heralds a death by groaning and screaming.

Physical activites (e.g., arm movements, writing, drawing, musical performance) that occur without the automatist's conscious control or knowledge. Also known as motor automatism. See also automatic writing, dissociation.

Religious philosophy originating in India. It advocates the use of physical and psycho-spiritual techniques to lead the person to higher consciousness. See also meditation, siddhis.

Zener Cards
Set of 25 cards (5 each of circle, square, Greek cross, five-pointed star, three wavy lines) designed by the perceptual psychologist Karl Zener for use in card-guessing tests of ESP. Also known as ESP cards.

A medicine wo(man) or shaman.

The ability to speak or write in a language that has not been learned. See also glossolalia.

Folk magic. See also wicca.

System of witchcraft, especially as practiced today in western countries.

Someone who practices witchcraft.

Automatic Art
See automatism.

Automatic Writing
The ability to write intelligible messages without conscious control or knowledge of what is being written. See also automatism, dissociation.

White Noise
A hiss-like sound, formed by combining all audible frequencies. See also ganzfeld.

White Magic
Magical spells or rituals to produce beneficial effects. Cf. black magic.

A person who has been magically transformed into a wolf or other dangerous beast. See also lycanthropy, therianthropy, shape-shifting.

A spiritist and ancestor religion, originating in Africa, and now found predominantly in Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba. Magical rites, trance states and possession all play a major role in Voodoo. See also Candomble, Pocomania, Santeria, Umbanda, zombie.

A religious apparition.

Information or experience that is confirmed by facts and events.

Veridical Dream
A dream that corresponds to real events (past, present or future) that are unknown to the dreamer.


A field of energy believed by some to surround living creatures. Certain clairvoyants claim to be able to see the aura (generally as a luminous, coloured halo). See also Kirlian photography.

Re-emergence of ancestral characteristics; a genetic throwback.

Astral Projection
A term used by occultists, spiritualists and theosophists for the out of body experience. It is believed to result when the astral body separates from the physical body.

A theory and practice which attempts to identify the ways in which astronomical events are correlated with events on earth (e.g., with an individual's personality and biography, or with social and political trends).

Up Through Technique
An experimental test for clairvoyance in which the subject guesses the order of a stacked series of target symbols (e.g., cards) from bottom to top. Cf. down through technique.

Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)
Unexplained sightings of lights or objects in the sky, often taken to be evidence of extraterrestrial visitations.

The study of UFOs.

A Brazilian spiritist religion. See also Candomble, Voodoo.

A conical tube (often luminous) used in seances to produce direct voice communication.

In psi tests, a single attempt to demonstrate paranormal ability (e.g., one attempt to guess a card or one attempt to influence the fall of the dice).

See altered state of consciousness.

Astral Body
A term used by occultists, spiritualists and theosophists to refer to a supposed 'double' of the person's physical body. The astral body is believed to be separable from the physical body during astral projection (out of body experience) and at death. See also Ka.

Travelling Clairvoyance
(a) An early term for the out of body experience. (b) Clairvoyance exhibited when a subject travels in imagination to another location.

Transpersonal Psychology
The study of experiences, beliefs and practices that suggest that the sense of self can extend beyond our personal or individual reality. The subject matter of transpersonal psychology overlaps to some extent with parapsychology, but the two disciplines tend to have different approaches and emphases. Parapsychology is primarily concerned to investigate evidence for and against the reality of paranormal phenomena. Transpersonal psychology, on the other hand, is more interested in investigating the transpersonal significance of such phenomena (i.e., the ways in which they may give people a sense of connectedness with a larger, more universal or spiritual reality). See also mysticism.

Transmigration of Souls
See reincarnation.

Transcendental Meditation
A technique of meditation taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, involving the repetition of a sound (mantra).

A dissociated state of consciousness, generally involving reduced awareness of surroundings and external events.

Trance Medium
A person who enters a state of trance in order to produce mediumistic phenomena.

Paranormal ability to produce images on photographic film (e.g., by concentrating on a mental image). Most famously demonstrated by Ted Serios. See also psychic photography.

Thought Transference
See telepathy

The supposed ability to change from human to animal form and back. See also lycanthropy, shape-shifting, werewolf.

Magical practices which aim to contact and communicate with the gods.

Quasi-religious and philosophical system of the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky. Its paranormal claims were controversially and damningly reported upon by the Society for Psychical Research in 1885.

Temporal Lobe Activity
Electrical activity in the temporal lobes of the brain. Often associated with strange sensations, time distortions and hallucinations. Sometimes used as an explanation for seemingly paranormal experiences such as apparitions and alien abduction experiences.

Paranormal transportation of objects to a distant place. See also apport, deport.

Paranormal awareness of another person's experience (thoughts, feelings, etc.). In practice it is difficult to distinguish between telepathy and clairvoyance. See also ESP.

Paranormal movement of objects.

A special deck of cards (usually 78) used in fortune telling.

See table-tilting.

The object or event which the subject attempts to perceive (ESP tests) or influence (PK tests).

A term used by C.G. Jung to refer to coincidental events that are meaningfully but not causally connected.

Mysterious movements of a table, usually occurring in a seance when a group of people place their hands on the surface of the table. Often the movements are interpreted as spirit communications. Also known as table-turning or table-tipping.

The belief that some aspect of the person (e.g., consciousness, mind, personality, soul) lives on after death of the body.

A method of data collection that involves interviewing (or giving questionnaires to) a representative and often large group of people.


Subliminal Perception
Perceiving without conscious awareness.

Super-ESP Hypothesis
The suggestion that people are capable of unlimited ESP. The super-ESP hypothesis is often presented as an alternative to the survival hypothesis in explaining mediumistic phenomena (the medium is believed to obtain information using super-ESP powers and not directly from the spirit of a deceased person).

Subjective Psi Experience (SPE)
See subjective paranormal experience.

A person whose psi ability is being investigated.

Unexplained markings on a person's body that correspond to the wounds of Christ.

See target.

In parapsychology, false evidence of paranormal phenomena, due to some extraneous normal influence.

Mathematical techniques for analysing and interpreting numerical data.

Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC)
Refers to cases in which a badly burned human body has been discovered in circumstances suggesting that the fire originated spontaneously in or on the body of the victim.

Spontaneous Cases
Paranormal phenomena that occur in everyday life, unsought and unexpected.

Spiritualism (Spiritism)
Religious doctrines that advocate communication betwen the living and the spirits of the dead using a medium as intermediary.

See spiritualism.

Spirit Photography
Photographs of figures or faces, believed by some to be those of deceased persons. These photographs are generally revealed as fraudulent.