A special place where one consults with or contacts the dead. The term “psychomanteum” refers to oracles of the dead that were popular in the ancient Greek world.
Modern interest in, and use of, the psychomanteum has been stimulated by the work of Dr. Raymond Moody, who coined the term NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE (NDE) and pioneered research into the otherworldly visions of people who come near death. Moody became interested in mirror- gazing in 1986 during a visit with his friend, parapsychologist William G. Roll. Moody asked about a crystal ball that Roll kept on a table in the living room. He was intrigued with Roll’s explanation of the history and purposes of crystal gazing but took no action on the interest. Evidently he was supposed to, for about a year later, he received a synchronistic nudge from the universe. He was browsing in a bookstore when a book fell off a shelf and landed at his feet. Its title was Crystal Gazing.
Moody paid attention to the message. He began a firsthand investigation into ancient oracular practices and folklore about mirrors as portals to other dimensions. He especially saw a therapeutic potential in using mirrorgazing for grieving. The MIRROR, as a portal to the dead, could help bring closure.
Moody initially considered the visions in the mirror to be hypnagogic imagery, the kinds of things seen on the borders of sleep. But as his research deepened, he saw that the mirror literally accesses the “Middle Realm,” another dimension that mediates between the physical realm and other realms. DREAMS also are a Middle Realm.
To experiment with mirror-gazing, Moody constructed his own psychomanteum out of a walk-in closet at home. Moody realized that a psychomanteum does not have to be in a specific geographic place, but it can be constructed right in one’s home.
The idea of the psychomanteum is to eliminate as much outside distraction as possible and provide a conducive environment for the inner eye to see in the mirror. Moody covered the floor, walls and ceiling in black carpet. He propped a large mirror against one wall, with its bottom edge resting on the floor. Across from the mirror, he placed a comfortable armchair with its legs removed, so that the body of the chair rested directly on the floor. Behind the chair was a tiny lamp with a dim bulb. Thus, a person sitting in the chair could look into the mirror without seeing any reflection of himself, the chair or the lamp. Thanks to the black-covered walls, the mirror was a pool of infi nite darkness. In this way, the mirror became the gateway through which the inner eye could see the unseen. One then need only relax and hold a steady gaze into the mirror—and allow whatever is meant to be seen to appear. If one tries too hard to have a vision, most likely none will come.
Moody called his psychomanteum the “Theater of the Mind.” He spent several years conducting research involving contacting the dead in this manner as a way of resolving grief. People reported a wide variety of experiences, from seeing visions of the dead to holding conversations with them. He published his work in his book Reunions.
He has inspired other therapists to use a psychomanteum in working with grief issues.
FURTHER READING :
- Moody, Raymond. Reunions: Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones. New York: Villard Books, 1993.
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