Extraordinary Knowing

I read Elizabeth Mayer’s book when it first came out. Since her untimely death, much weirder stuff has been happening in the world. Her book deserves a deeper read that I was able to do back then.

Some are calling this new field of study Contact Modalities. Precognitive dreams, UFO sightings, NDE, OBE, Remote Viewing are anomalous mental events, that have overlapping boundaries. This is an ongoing exploration, and Elizabeth shares a weird event, which inspired her research, that is worth reflecting upon.

A century ago, the popular imagination, was introduced to the 4th Dimension. When I was a kid, back in the 60’s I watched Rod Serling introduce the idea of a 5th Dimension on a black and white TV. Currently, in this Internet Age, with flat screens everywhere, our relationship to Time is changing rapidly. We may have entered into multidimensional psycho-somatic landscapes that none of us have figured out yet. When the Astral and the Virtual become so deeply entangled, what happens next?


Thanks, John.


Happy New Year, John! Wonderful little clip.

For me, one of the key statements in here is from her statistician colleague: the odds are greater that dowsing works than this was mere coincidence. Once again, the mainstream has it bass ackwards. Good for her that she didn’t get over it.

We need to reconsider what we mean by anomalous. We need to give more thought to just how reality may be configured. Just to take one example: remote viewing is so anomalous that the US government spent high triple-digit millions researching it, and Mr. McDonnell of the aircraft company fame contributed a huge portion of his personal wealth in support of it. (At least that’s what I was told at a briefing back in the mid-90s for a bunch of us who were being tested to see if we were worthy test persons for some upcoming research.) Just how anomalous is that?

The (so-called) “advances” in technology since then may have shifted the definitional boundaries, but the fundamental questions still remain. Personally, I don’t think the Astral and Virtual are as entangled as you may think because that entanglement pretty much presupposes consciousness, which the virtual, technologically speaking, lacks.

It would seem that we agree that the current models of reality-explanation are inadequate to account for the phenomena involved in the clip and the ones you intimate, so we need to give closer consideration to models that might move us along more productive paths. My current read is Bernardo Kastrup’s The Idea of the World which speaks directly to the matter at a very fundamental level. I’ve been kicking around the idea of organizing a kind of reading group/CCafé series that would use his text as a focal point but allow for a wider range of participation that is more flexible than what we’ve done so far. Maybe I’ll think even harder about that, in light of this wonderful little clip.



I am a big fan of Bernardo and open to studying his book together.

The techno doorway to the astral has always struck me as hyperbole. What entangles us is our language. I doubt that the cyber astral or the trans-human are anything but more elaborate language games that add layers of distortion and hyperbole to an already inadequate vocabulary. As the story of the lost and found harp indicates there is a lot more going on in the astral than are found in the pseudo-dreams of soft ware developers. How did the dowser get such detailed information? Certainly not in the way that some techno pagan does, when she puts on a pair of google glasses . Mayer’s book is extraordinary as she attempts to sort through many anomalous events and seek for patterns that connect. I am hopeful that those of us who are moving through the deficient mental swamp may make it to the other side.

I am of the opinion that the Astral and the Virtual are distinctly different but what difference does knowing that make? I live on a planet with a wide range of practitioners who are making lots of big claims about our future. I do my best to seek out enough variety but variety of the right kinds. Technology mimics variety ala algorithms but I am also hopeful that we can catch the rhythms of a new kind of intelligence as we play with different kinds of modelling, making good reports as we oscillate between experiments and experiences.

Happy New Year, Ed, and look forward to the next phase of our collective inquiry.


I am Grateful for the Few who are Interested in Engaging in the Wonder/ Vulnerability of this Extraordinary Knowing…


We few, we happy few…actually I imagine there are a lot of us but the research of many persons is hung out to dry…and is left on the line…forgotten…flapping in a breeze…

I find so much research seems random and uncollected, has not been folded properly into the future or the past…remains untouched by a collective big enough to make a difference…there is no warm data… research that is without a discourse can’t find the patterns and meta-patterns. There are thinkers that are also performers…who can get on the wire and walk across it …one step at a time…balancing motion with mind…and do so without falling into the abyss…

And how does the dowser who finds the lost harp do it?

And how do we find the contours, the shapes and sizes, the form of a knowledge claim, amongst so much noise, as the dowser from Arkansas does?


When I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ for my military-occupational-specialty (MOS) training (as it was called then), a couple of us decided it would be “fun” to go prospecting for gold. Of course, we had no idea where to even look. One of the four of us told us his uncle was a dowser and besides water, he could locate gold and silver. All he needed was a map (sound familiar). So we sent him a fairly large scale map of the area south of the fort where we had access to the countryside. About a week later, he sent it back with various color-coded spots marked with numbers representing the depth below the surface where we’d have to look. We got all organized for our big weekend, but inevitably ran into logistical problems and never got far enough up into “them thar hills” to cash in, so the precious metals are still there, unless the nephew decided to go back later and get it.

According to my comrade-in-arms, his uncle was “sensitive” to those substances, whatever that means. If, as the Hermeticists tell us, everything vibrates, then every “thing” (or substance, or even idea) would have, for lack of a better word at the moment, a vibrational signature; that is, it’s own, unique, expression. If you can “tune your receiver”, so to speak, to that channel, you would “sense” it. Now, I realize that this is hardly a well-formed scientific hypothesis, not even close to a working one, but it helps me “understand” what may be at play here.

What amazes me most about this little vignette is that it never once crossed my mind to think it was strange that he could do that; it seemed – to me, but certainly not everyone in our foursome – the most natural thing in the world. I still don’t find such abilities odd. As you intimate, John, and I agree: I think all of us have the ability, but almost all of us have had it beat/shamed/educated out of us. Given the environments in which we find ourselves, though, it can be burdensome for the bearer of those skills, which is unfortunate, but we haven’t yet developed a culture to allow for them.


I am in agreement with you, Ed, and this seems to me a sign or a signal or a vibe of something under the dominant deficient mental structure demands that we ignore. This is not so of the efficient mental structure, as demonstrated by Elizabeth Mayer, as she put aside her doubts and allowed a different channel to influence her approach to an impasse. These impasses and obstructions are produced by self inflicted wounding of our own culturally sustained bias to favor the rational in a narrow way. We can still keep the rational way of figuring things out without the narrow, external focus that breaks up our attention into inside/ outside, here/ there, without appreciation for the observer-participant who can register a different kind of vibration. It is very uncomfortable for most of us who have a history of being told to shut up, pick a number and wait to be called upon, to fight the system. We play dead, we numb ourselves and get with the program. We have, I sense , gathered a lot research in Cafe episodes and study groups to register some of the cognitive dissonances and perhaps rehearse new kinds of combinatorics. I think Mayer was one such thinker as is Bernardo Kastrup, who are working with these different vibes and perhaps we are moving towards a post-tragic world, where looming catastrophe of nation-states run amok is not the only vibe we give attention to. While Putin and Trump dominate there continue to be unheard and unnoticed explorations in our informal and sometimes invisible convocations that can re-direct our attenuation to another time signature.


That’s a doozy of a dowser, and a good bedtime story. I will be closing my eyes thinking about information theory—how do we know what we know? The information is, in some sense, just there. We may just need some framework to relate it, like a map or a language. We are sensitive to it. We can then share what we know. However, if others (say, a culture) is not sensitive to the same information, the knowing will appear to be extraordinary.

What is so funny is how ordinary the dowser from Arkansas sounds—not your typical shaman, but a red state salt of the earth type, it sounds like. There is a sub-narrative of social reconciliation in Elizabeth Mayer’s story.

And I shut the screen wondering… what we know that we don’t know that we know. What do we know but keep the information to or from ourselves? What knowings are only waiting for their time?


I agree with this, Marco. The hick from the sticks informs the sophisticated lady therapist from the Bay area where her lost harp can be found. This odd juxtaposition of character and place has a weird charm. The city slicker has her cummupence as they say down south in rural zones, but she does this surrender to a new set of facts in a whole heated turn around. Her book is full of such odd anecdotes, and meta-theories, as she struggles with her perplexity in a compelling way.

With eyes open or closed, information and how we come by it, seems to be a major theme, in many of our meetings. As new sources of information are available to us, as the weird gets even weirder, we will need to find frameworks that work, learn how to translate better between astral and virtual, rather than lump them together, in a distorted mixture, that can lead us seriously astray, Learning how to model a shared reality, through an investigation of our language games, helps us re-center when we get off center. This kind of modelling is a new art form. And a New Rationality, informed by healthy Magic and Mythic performances, is happening. Let us co- create safer public spaces to hold these creative tensions. I do not believe the para-normal will ever become normal and attempts to optimize the para-normal for profit or power are doomed. This tragic lesson seems to be what happened in the CIA attempts to train psychics for military purposes. The para-normal is extremely non-linear and trickerish. We are in the midst of a huge shift happening.


And for this to express itself we also NEED to learn to work with our S.O.S (Survival Operating System),which I am taking a Leap & a Flip about; has tentacles in the Magical & Mythical, maybe there’s healthy lessons to be learned about the S.O.S aspect of Consciousness?


I think extraordinary knowing, in its basic definition, is knowing which we see as beyond what is usual. Knowing that is beyond the ordinary. Who or what defines the ordinary? We have pointed to language, what we value; the arts and sciences; traditions and rituals; what is shared at the table; our values…aka culture.

Dowsing is something that was likely valued in the past, is still practiced by some (we located a leak in a pipe with a local dowser here in KY a few years back…I just thought it was…part of the culture), and is no longer valued in mainstream culture. Why not?

When dowsing is subjected to scientific testing, it fails … it is easily explained away in terms of sensory cues, expectancy effects, and probability. Strangely, most all paranormal or extraordinary activity, when tested in a lab, cannot be replicated. All accounts seem to add in the subjective state that just cannot be fully understood. Think Stuart Kauffman’s personal “flip” reported in the interview/essay by John Horgan. This is a highly personal, emotional and traumatic experience.

When Elizabeth Mayer speaks with her clients who report these extraordinary modalities of knowledge, there are levels of disavowal: doctors must hide their paranormal methods; scientific writers feel that their reputation would topple before their eyes; families would be torn apart if a member shared an experience. With little culture to back up their reports, denial is rampant, pushed further into unconscious knowledge that we Westerners seem to have difficulty tapping into in order to extract gems. What does turning a blind eye cost us as a culture?

But who or what determines culture? Our eyes here and in sister projects are frequently turned, our ears tuned into, the frequencies often reserved for the odd, shunned or sub-standard kin. More and more professionals and pedestrians are identifying with the extraordinary, alternative culture…or at least it seems this way. I am reminded of Jeffrey Kripal’s The Flip; High Weirdness by Erik Davis also identifies this Weird culture as fringe work, with hidden gems ripe for picking within the “trash spectrum”. Weird Studies scholars put on their divining hats and explore recent and past archaeologists of the weird. In reality, once you trace the path back far enough, the extraordinary knowing has been quite ordinary during certain periods along the human timeline.

Other cultures seem to have defined what some see as extraordinary as standard knowledge. Eastern modes of knowing….already know; they have a solid cultural history grounded in the connection of mind and body, the internal realities. They have already caught the rhythms. In almost all reports of OBEs, lucid dreaming, telepathy, dowsing, remote viewing, NDEs, channeling, the same techniques for accessing these modalities are used for meditation and mystical experiences. To begin meditation one needs to relax, tune out the ordinary reality and tune into a certain frequency that allows for alternate ways of knowing. Psi, meditation, creativity: all have overlapping boundaries. Western culture likes to identify with terms such as madness, schizophrenia, childishness. But how do they (the Western model) know this? And how do we know that a few (understatement) wrong turns were taken in the course of history? And where are we going with this?

I think a Café is what needs to happen :coffee: Great to see everyone waking into “the next phase of our collective inquiry” …


I think this theme is a good one to think through together. I would like to disentangle the Virtual from the Astral to get clearer about how they are different and- what kind of difference does knowing that make?

The dominance of the digital over the analogue is an ever-present danger in our hyped up, algorithmic driven mania. Surfing the web ( which I do often) is much less interesting than an OBE, which I do on occasion. I have heard some claim that the cyber-astral is a new category and that the astral will be absorbed by technology. I think this a mistake and an arrogant mistake.

I imagine that those who can activate psi capacities can use the technology in artful ways if ethical standards are high. But if you deny the para in the para-normal and then try to package the status quo as a novelty that supports the Military Infotainment Complex, we should expect some serious hick ups. Predict and Control, the hallmark of deficient mental, is so pervasive that it will take more than a Village of discontent magicians to change course.

For me, weird+queer=magic. I have been working, with many others, under the shadow and beyond the rainbow for many decades, seeking to decode the bird’s code, which has been imprinted in my crown chakra. A very, strange sensation.

You can’t have a signal without noise…and sometimes the noise is the signal. But you have to have eyes that can hear and a touch that can taste in the other worlds that are emerging. The human biosensor is a multidimensional communicating device. Much of our pop culture draws upon these capacities.

Perhaps revisit the Law of Requisite Variety? Create conditions for a cybernetic ontology. Metaphor and art, dance and song, hand and eye, reading and writing, toruses and Klein bottles, crows and cracked nuts-

We can work with the technology to distribute new kinds of variety. The Para-normal invites novelty and variety. All of this is very different from typical predict and control strategies.


This is one of the most interesting groups I’ve found in a while, where people are discussing things I’m interested in. I very much like the title of this thread, Extraordinary Knowing. It reminds me of this from an essay I found on aeon.co, by Kieran Setiya:

"Life seems profoundly flawed. Is there meaning to it all? Historically, the question of life’s meaning comes into focus through the anxiety of early existentialist philosophers, such as Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, who worried that it has none.

“On the interpretation that this context suggests, the meaning of life would be a truth about us and about the world that makes sense of the worst. It would be something we could know about life, the Universe and everything, that should reconcile us to mortality and loss, suffering and injustice. Knowledge of this truth would make it irrational not to affirm life as it is, not to accept things as they are. It would show that despair, or angst, is a mistake. The idea that life has meaning is the idea that there is a truth of this extraordinary kind.”

It seems I’m often looking to learn and to know extraordinary truths. Since I haven’t posted here before, I will introduce myself briefly. I’m a long-time student of (Jungian) synchronicity, specifically of anomalies that are astrological in nature. Primarily due to this fascination on my part, I ended up having a long and varied career as a software developer that began with writing astrological software. An MSPH in Biostatistics (1980) and MS in Comp Sci (1991) were earned along the way, and I spent quite a few years in mainstream corporate software work as well. That is behind me now, and I spend time reading philosophy of mind and of the numinously anomalous. My bookshelf has been weighed down for many years with Edmund Husserl, Edith Stein, various Husserl scholars, a couple of Heidegger’s (that I don’t read), and other philosophers of that period like Ernst Cassirer, W M Urban, and Jacob Klein. In other words, I have been pretty much stuck on early 20th century phenomenologists except that I more recently acquired Jean Gebser’s massive tome. Now I am more engaged with the writings of James Hillman and Eugene Gendlin. And in a different vein, getting to know Bernardo Kastrup’s ideas.

I love the story of the dowser and the stolen harp, and it reminds me that not all anomalies are equal. The dowser should never, ever have been able to lead her to that harp. This wasn’t just rare, but so wildly improbable that it belongs to a class of events we might call the numinously anomalous. Except that doesn’t easily roll off the tongue.

At some point I will have a few case study findings to offer, that are more variable in terms of how striking they seem to different readers. These are studies of life parallels in notable persons who share a certain configuration of planets at birth. It is an open question what the significance of these symbolic “kindred births” might be. I hope to bring questions like this to the forum.

achronon wrote: We need to reconsider what we mean by anomalous.

I very much agree, and I look forward to more.