by Marinus Jan Marijs
The term apparition implies that some element of the human being survives death and, at least under certain circumstances, can make itself perceptible to living human beings.
Attempts to apply modern scientific or investigative standards to the study of apparitional experiences began with the work of Edmund Gurney, Frederick William Henry Myers and Frank Podmore. Their motive was to provide evidence for human survival after death. For this reason they had a particular interest in what are known as ‘crisis cases’. These are cases in which a person has a quasi-perceptual experience of someone at a distance at the time of that person’s death or other crisis. If the temporal coincidence of the crisis and the distant apparitional experience cannot be explained by any conventional means, then the presumption is made that some as yet unknown form of communication, such as telepathy (a term coined by Myers) has taken place. (Wikipedia)
The characteristics of an apparition are:
1.The perception of an apparition is different from normal memory or imagination;
2.They fade away slowly;
3.They look and act conscious;
4.They do not look transparent, they tend to be coloured;
5. They seem to pass through solid objects, and they tend to appear and disappear in closed rooms;
6. Subjects who perceive apparitions are by certainly not always frightened by the experience;
7.It is unusual for an apparitional figure to engage in any verbal interaction with the percipient.
A team of 48 collaborators from 12 countries compiled a report called ”Six Theories About Apparitions”. This study concluded strongly in favour of life after death: “Since full-fledged [apparitions] have been shown to be genuine occurrences…… it follows that some of the most frequent types of apparitions of the dead presumably carry with them the memories and purposes of the personalities which they represent, and that they thus constitute evidence of survival of personality beyond bodily death”.
In one case, the apparition even bore a scar on her cheek corresponding to one the mother had accidentally caused while dressing the corpse, unknown to the percipient. See illustrations below ↓
It should be taken into consideration that there are several distinct forms of extrasensory or other visual perceptions of which the above mentioned is only one. Other forms are:
Hallucinations: which are perceptions in the absence of an apparent stimulus which have qualities of real perceptions. They are distinguished from the related phenomena of dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness; purely private visual imagery.
Optical illusions, which involves distorted or misinterpreted real perception;
Imagery, which does not mimic real perception and is under voluntary control;
Visions, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or while awake, that conveys a intuition, a deep insight or revelation. Visions generally have more clarity than dreams. Visions normally use visual images that are stored in the personal memory, but its expressed content is trans-rational and can provide a deep insight into human nature and reality. This however can also be expressed in a symbolic/allegorical way.
Extrasensory visual perception, also called clairvoyance, refers to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses.
Localised apparitions, these are different from the above mentioned apparitions, because they are localised in a specific location, while mostly human in appearance, these apparitions act mechanical, repetitive and unconscious. These are not conscious spirits but are mental images which are non-physical objects in a higher ontological space. These are modulated three dimensional repetitive patterns in a subtle energy world.
An extensive cross-cultural research relating to apparitions has been done by parapsychologists involving thousands of surveys. This gave the following result: apparitions appear to follow the laws of perspective and parallax the same as one could expect physical bodies do in three dimensional space. One study did show that many of the apparitions were collectively perceived, that is to say by two persons or more at the same time, and the apparition was seen according to the position one has in space, one sees the front of the face, the other the profile. Sometimes the apparition of a person appeared at the time when this person had just died.
Some apparitions where determined by the time and culture in which the perceiver had grown up. For example one sees an apparition which looks like a painting of a painter whose work one knows. In that case the apparition is based upon information which has been stored in one’s personal memory and is not on a perception of a non-physical being.
The phenomenon of apparitions has played a central part within Christian culture. One of the arguments in favour of the idea that there is life after death, is that Christ after death appeared and that his apparition meant that he continued to live on after death, and if this is possible for one human being, than it could be possible for all humans. The most important data that could point that apparitions are evidence for life after death are:
- The simultaneousness of the apparition with a crisis- or dying, without the perceiver being aware of the fact a person is dying or in crisis.
- Collectively perceived apparitions. When more persons are present at the same location during an apparition. In one third of the cases the apparitions are also seen by others.
- Verifiable details, that where unknown to the observer during the apparition.
- Purposeful and conscious act of the apparition.
- A similarity between the introspective perceptions of someone who is in an out of the body state perceived as apparition, whereby the observations relating to the perceived environment as well as the point of time correspond.
Literature: ‘Hart, H., & Collaborators. (1956). Six theories of apparitions. Proceedings of the Society for PsychicalResearch50,153-239.
In the bible some 300 apparitions are described. The idea of the possibility of an apparition has had an extraordinary influence on western culture. Many have become Christians because this gave a faith in a life after death and the specific apparition of Christ was adduced as evidence for life after death.
The illustration on top of the page is by George Roux – Spirite (1885)