Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional Experiences

By Jane Henry | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Second sight

Shari A. Cohn-Simmen

Second sight is the name of a special psychic ability which is believed to be an inborn natural faculty of mind. For some it is believed to be a spiritual gift from God, for others, a hereditary gift which runs in particular families. There has been a long tradition of second sight, especially in the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, but it is also known to be experienced in other parts of the United Kingdom as well as in other cultures (Martin 1703, Schmëing 1950, Grober-Glück 1973, Shaw 1987, Virtanen 1990). There are many expressions pertaining to the faculty in the Gaelic language spoken by people indigenous to these areas (Maclnnes 1989). The most common is An Dà Shealladh which literally means 'two sights'. One is the normal sight and the other is the ability to have prophetic visions.

Accounts of second sight from the seventeenth century onwards are consistent with modern-day accounts and reflect the cycle of birth, life and death. Though most visions are experienced in an awake state, some are experienced in a hypnagogic or dream state. The prophetic visions are experienced through various forms of imagery and usually concern sad events. Many classical accounts of second sight experiences reflect the burial customs of the time and can take the form of a direct representation of a person's fate. For example, a person literally sees a funeral procession at night and, by recognising the people carrying the coffin, knows who will die. Alternatively, the accounts can take a symbolic form. For example, a death shroud is seen on a person before that person dies. How much of the body is covered may be taken to indicate how soon the person will die. Other visions are of a person before, at the moment, or after they have died. For example, a woman saw a huge wave engulf a fisherman before he and his crew were drowned. In another case a woman had a vision of her neighbour in solid form in front of her house, and only later found he had died many miles away at the same time as she saw him. Some visions can involve people seeing their own doppelgänger, and tradition suggests this means you will soon die. Many accounts concern foreseeing accidents. For example, a man had a vision of his colleague falling off a roof on to spiked railings below. Although the man warned his colleague to be careful, his

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Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional Experiences
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • About the Authors ix
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Introduction 1
  • Parapsychology 5
  • Chapter 1 - Parapsychology 7
  • Chapter 2 - Methodology 28
  • Chapter 3 - Meta-Analyses 42
  • Chapter 4 - Psychological Factors 64
  • Chapter 5 - Scepticism 80
  • Paranormal Cognition 91
  • Chapter 6 - Second Sight 93
  • Chapter 7 - Extrasensory Perception 99
  • Chapter 8 - Precognition and Premonitions 108
  • Chapter 9 - Animal Psi 114
  • Paranormal Action 123
  • Chapter 10 - Psychokinesis 125
  • Chapter 11 - Healing 137
  • Chapter 12 - Shamanism 149
  • Anomalous Experience 165
  • Chapter 13 - Coincidence 167
  • Chapter 14 - Apparitions and Encounters 175
  • Chapter 15 - Out-Of-Body Experiences 188
  • Chapter 16 - Near-Death Experiences 196
  • Chapter 17 - Imagery 204
  • After-Life Associations 213
  • Chapter 18 - Survival 215
  • Chapter 19 - Reincarnation 224
  • Chapter 20 - Religion 233
  • Appendices 243
  • Appendix 1 245
  • Appendix 2 248
  • Index 254
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