14 April 1912, the luxury liner, Titanic, went down on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg. In 1898 Morgan Robertson had written a novel, futility, in which a similar ship had met a similar fate.
Just a few years before the disaster, journalist W T Stead warned of a coming tragedy here because of a lack of lifeboats. Consequently, when Titanic sailed, many of the passengers and crew were too frightened to turn up.
Perhaps the owners of the Titanic made a big mistake describing their ship as unsinkable. Why? Was it tempting fate? Or could it be that the public’s lack of faith caused unconscious decisions in the crew that led to the disaster? For instance, what caused the crew to go too fast in iceberg territory? Did they feel they had something to prove?
Psychiatrist Dr John Barker theorised the existence of the self-fulfilling prophecy, where your mind actually causes something to come true. Many cases of supposed precognition could fall in line with this idea - itself just a simple variation of a possible mechanism behind astrology. However, this is far from a complete understanding of our ability to affect the future.
There are problems with prophecy. And the problems intensify when we look to a similar discipline, divination. Typical is the ancient Chinese system of I Ching, thought to have been devised by the emperor Fu Shi, but unknown in the west until relatively modern times.
An off-shoot of Taoism, there is no past, present or future within the system. There is just the lifeforce, ch’i, and its complimentary forces of preservation and destruction, yin and yang. By consulting the ‘book of changes’, the diviner can toss 50 yarrow sticks or three coins three times.
The way they land produces a ‘hexagram’, consisting of patterns of solid and broken lines. The result is seen as a guide to how you should continue your life.
Another system is the Tarot, from the Italian ‘tarochi’, meaning trumps. A pack of cards in two parts, the Tarot is split into the Major Arcana with 22 cards representing death, wisdom, etc, and the Minor Arcana with 56 cards representing the suits wands, swords, cups and pentacles (there is an additional picture card in each suit, the page).
Thought to have been brought to Europe by gypsies, the earliest known pack of 17 cards is kept in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The modern pack was created in 1910 by occultist Arthur Edward Waite.
The pictures are said by some to be ancient images from the Egyptian Book of Thoth, whilst others think they can be traced to the Hebrew alphabet.
Carl Jung saw them as archetypal images from the human psyche. But to many dabblers, shuffling them and laying them out in chance order can hold predictive qualities.
How viable is it that random fluctuations of sticks/coins or cards can lead to real knowledge of the future? Could any ’success’ be simply down to coincidence, for instance?
The Oxford Dictionary defines coincidence as a ‘ … notable concurrence of events of circumstances without apparent causal connections.’ This reminds me of Chaos Theory. For instance, could it be simply that our interpretation is too reductionist to understand the causes?
Could coincidence be an off-shoot of chance, with predictability leading to order? For instance, when a study was carried out into the number of dog bites in New York, each bite appeared random, but the annual percentage of bites hardly varied from year to year.
If we take a radioactive isotope, the decay of a particle is totally unpredictable, but an isotope has an exact half-life. Even physicists such as Paul Dirac could think of only one word to explain the unique balance that led to the formation of the universe and life. Coincidence.
However, Carl Jung was also fascinated with coincidences, evolving his theory of ’synchronicity’, where he argued that coincidences were so extraordinary that perhaps the mind had a role to play in the world to bring them about.
Indeed, such a mind/disaster scenario has been with us for centuries, ignored by science because it comes under the heading of Curse.
There are many famous curses and evil eye cases, ranging from the events following the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, to those associated with Voodoo. And we can see a specific socio-psychological ‘mechanism’ at work in them.
Consider how people involved in the excavations in Egypt would have felt as more and more people seemed to be affected by the curse. Rationally, they would no doubt seem to ignore it, but could their unconscious mind have played an effect in their actions?
If so, then we can see the odds increase above chance, causing a synchronistic action that could lead to injury, or affect the person’s health. And I would argue, good reader, that as in the Titanic, and the practices of divination, above, a culture can be created in which the mind could well direct you towards your own destiny.
For centuries such a power has been placed in the ‘evil’ adept, and was called the ‘evil eye’. I suspect a ‘belief’ in his powers could cause you to place the ‘evil eye’ upon yourself.
(c) Anthony North, March 2008
The evil eye is a folk belief that the envy elicited by the good luck of fortunate people may result in their misfortune, whether it is envy of material possessions including livestock, or of beauty, health, or offspring. The perception of the nature of the phenomenon of evil eye, its causes, and possible protective measures, varies between different cultures.
Forms of belief
In some forms, it is the belief that some people can bestow a curse on victims by the malevolent gaze of their magical evil eye. The most common form, however, attributes the cause to envy, with the envious person casting the evil eye doing so unintentionally. Also the effects on victims vary. Some cultures report afflictions with bad luck; others believe the evil eye can cause disease, wasting away, and even death. In most cultures, the primary victims are thought to be babies and young children, because they are so often praised and commented upon by strangers or by childless women. The late UC Berkeley professor of folklore Alan Dundes has explored the beliefs of many cultures and found a commonality — that the evil caused by the gaze of evil eye is specifically connected to symptoms of drying, desiccation, withering, and dehydration, that its cure is related to moistness, and that the immunity from the evil eye that fish have in some cultures is related to the fact that they are always wet. His essay "Wet and Dry: The Evil Eye" is a standard text on the subject.
||In many forms of the evil eye belief, a person — otherwise not malefic in any way — can harm adults, children, livestock, or a possession, simply by looking at them with envy. The word "evil" can be seen as somewhat misleading in this context, because it suggests that someone has intentionally "cursed" the victim. A better understanding of the term "evil eye" can be gained from the old English word for casting the evil eye, namely "overlooking," implying that the gaze has remained focused on the coveted object, person, or animal for too long.
While some cultures hold that the evil eye is an involuntary jinx cast unintentionally by people unlucky enough to be cursed with the power to bestow it by their gaze, others hold that, while perhaps not strictly voluntary, the power is called forth by the sin of envy. In Jewish religious thought, it is sometimes asserted that the one who looks upon another with envy is not always at fault, but that the envy may be perceived by God, who then may redress the balance between two people by bringing the higher one low. It has been suggested that the term covet (to eye enviously) in the tenth Commandment refers to casting the evil eye, rather than to simply desire or envy.
Liked it ? Want to share it ? Social Bookmarking
Discuss and comment on article |
Article Link |
Source : Website
Return to Unexplained Mysteries