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Premonition

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Premonition

A paranormal impression warning of a future event. Premonitions may range from vague feelings of disquiet, suggestive of impending disaster, to actual hallucinations, visual or auditory. Dreams are frequent vehicles of premonitions, either direct or symbolical, as well as veridical dreams. Spiritualists do not know if the warning comes from an external intelligent source such as a knowledgeable spirit being, from claivoyance (precognition), the intuitive projection of the outcome of presently existing trends, or coincidence or self-fulfilling prophecy, a form of autosuggestion.

 A premonition differs from prediction. Reportedly the latter has a degree of precision and tends to detail the basic who, what, when, where, and how questions. When the event foreseen is not precisely outlined or is too insubstantial to prompt a prophetic utterance, ‘‘premonition’’ is the more appropriate term. For vague future events of a personal nature, ‘‘presentiment’’ is employed.

 Richet’s Conditions

According to psychical researcher Charles Richet, premonitions should have two fundamental conditions:

‘‘1. The fact announced must be absolutely independent of the person to whom the premonition has come.’’

‘‘2. The announcement must be such that it cannot be ascribed to chance or sagacity.’’

Richet did not employ the term ‘‘presentiment.’’ He also ruled out personal premonitions. It was believed subconscious perception or suggestion is possible if sickness or death were announced. Richet claimed a photograph taken of a person suffering from a slight attack of fever may show signs of a rash or eruption on the face invisible to ordinary sight. The photograph ‘‘foresees’’ the sickness. However, Richet accepted personal premonitions (‘‘auto-premonitions,’’ to use his term) in cases when accidental death figured in the paranormal perception.

According to legend, the Earl of Hartington’s dream illustrates pseudo-premonitions. In good health, he dreamt of a skeleton that looked like him; it raised the coverlet bedclothes and slipped in bed between him and his wife. He died fifteen days later.

Premonitions where the subconscious is ruled out may be received under hypnosis, in trance, or accidentally in the dream or waking state. The Seeress of Prevorst (Frederica Hauffe), claimed while in hypnotic sleep she saw a spirit anxious to speak of misfortune threatening her daughter. Reportedly a few weeks later, the girl was almost killed by a tile falling on her head.

If the percipient is positive the event in question is about to happen, the term ‘‘precognition’’ is used. If it takes visual form, ‘‘prevision’’ is the appropriate label. When predictions involving the fate of larger units, countries, or nations are made, ‘‘prophecy’’ is the appropriate term. Premonition may be conceived of as the lowest degree of prophecy. Whether the premonition comes in the waking state or during sleep, it is believed the impression is usually deep and lasting. The recipient may write it down or narrate it for later verification.

In the 1880s, the Society for Psychical Research collected 668 cases of death premonitions; 252 more were added in 1922. Camille Flammarion collected 1,824 cases. From time to time, cases were registered in English, German, French, and Italian psychical periodicals. Ernesto Bozzano collected 260 cases in his Des Phénomènes Premonitoires. Count Cesar Baudi de Vesme analyzed premonition in games of chance (Le Merveilleux dans les jeux de hasard, Paris, 1930). An earlier work of William MacKenzie (Metapsichica moderna, Rome, 1923) related experiments in the same field with mediumistic intervention.

In L’Avenir et la Premonition (1931), Richet referenced Julien Ochorowicz’s experiment (Annales des Sciences Psychiques, 1909–10), stating a telekinetic explanation in stopping the roulette ball at the announced number should be considered. 



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