Psychometry is the ability to obtain information about a person, place, or event by handling an object such as a ring, piece of clothing, or other item.

Psychometry is considered a psychic skill; anyone can learn how to do it. Impressions come through all five senses and may use a full range of psychic abilities, including Clairvoyance, telepathy, Retrocognition, and precognition. Psychometry is sometimes used in MediumsHIP and Paranormal InvestigationS.

The best “psychically conductive” materials are metals, followed by stone and crystal. If an object, for example an antique, has been owned by more than one person it may convey information about all owners.

The term “psychometry” comes from the Greek words psyche (the soul) and metron (measure) and was coined in 1840 by Joseph R. Buchanan, an American professor of physiology. Buchanan saw psychometry as a means to measure the “soul” of objects and “grasp and estimate all things which are within range of human intelligence.”

Buchanan conducted successful experiments in which students identified drugs in vials by holding the vials. He published his findings in 1849 in his book Journal of Man.

Buchanan’s work interested a contemporary, Professor William F. Denton, an American professor of geology, who conducted his own experiments in 1854 with his sister, Ann Denton Cridge. When Cridge placed wrapped geological specimen to her forehead, she experienced vivid mental images of their appearances. Denton, who did not consider the possibility of telepathy between himself and his sister, recorded his experiments in a book The Soul of Things. He defi ned psychometry as a “mysterious faculty which belongs to the soul and is not dependent upon the body for its exercise.” Denton optimistically saw many applications for psychometry, including geology, healing, mining, astronomy, art, history, and more. None of these materialized to any significant extent; psychometry remains in the shadow of the paranormal.

Psychical researcher Gustav Pagenstecher conducted more than 100 psychometry experiments from 1919–22 with a medium identified as Sr. Maria Reyes de Z.

Given an object, Maria would fall into a cataleptic trance and produce information from the present and past that involved all physical senses. Pagenstecher did not believe telepathy was at work, but only the medium’s ability to pick up vibrations that were condensed in the objects. The vibrations, he said, were imbued by the thoughts of the objects’ owners, thus Demonstrating the Eastern metaphysical concept that “thoughts are events.”

In Spiritualism, mediums have used psychometry at Séances. One technique is billet-reading, in which the medium handles a letter in a sealed envelope and reveals the contents.

British medium Geraldine Cummins called psychometry “memory divining,” and used it in conjunction with automatic writing. Cummins would hold an object and concentrate upon the word “stillness,” or visualize a dark pool, until an inner voice or images prompted her to begin writing. She was not aware of what she wrote; she described the process as taking dictation. Sometimes the images made her feel as though she were in a theater watching a play.

In paranormal investigations psychics may handle objects at a haunted site in order to learn about the site’s history and the ghosts who may be present. Photographs also can be psychometrized. (See KARL PETRY.)

Psychometry is used in psychic criminology to help locate missing persons and bodies and in psychic archaeology to learn more about past history.

Magical talismans and charms are created with psychometry. The individual holds the talismanic object while building up an intense, vivid emotion concerning the talisman’s purpose, such as healing, good luck, or protection. The emotionally charged power is imbued into the object, which is kept wrapped in silk when not is use.

See Also:

  • Luminator
  • Possessed Possessions

Further Reading:

  • Cummins, Geraldine. Unseen Adventures. London: Rider & Co., 1951.
  • Denton, William. The Soul of Things: Psychometric Experiments for Re-living History. Wellingborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1988.
  • Pagenstecher, Gustav. “Past Events Seership: A Study in Psychometry,” ed. by Walter Franklin Prince, Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. XVI, Part I (Jan. 1922): 1–107.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007

psychometry Psychometry is the apparent ability to discover facts via clairvoyance (a type of extrasensory perception) by touching or being near an object. This link between touch and clairvoyance has been suggested by several laboratory studies. For example, in the 1960s, researchers in what was then the Soviet Union conducted a series of tests on a girl named Roza Kuleshova, who apparently demonstrated the ability to “read” text and “see” colors while blindfolded simply by running her fingers over printed words or touching colored objects. The most common use of psychometry is in the work of a psychic detective. According to some surveys, more than 40 percent of America’s urban police departments admit to having used psychic detectives at least once, with varying degrees of success, in order to help them solve crimes. In some cases, police allow the psychic detective to visit the scene of the crime in the hope that the psychic detective will receive a vision. In other cases, the psychic gathers information by touching an object associated with the victim but not with the crime scene. In the 1980s psychic investigator Lawrence LeShan conducted tests on a noted psychic, Eileen Garrett, who appeared to be skilled in psychometry. He gave her three identical boxes and told her what was inside of them: a girl’s lock of hair, a dog’s tuft of hair, and a rosebud. He then put the boxes behind a screen and mixed them up. Garrett could reach behind the screen to touch the boxes, but could not see them. Nonetheless, she was able to identify the contents of each box correctly, and to provide detailed information—about the girl, the dog, and the source of the rosebud—that LeShan believed she could not possibly have known. While skeptics dismiss such results as lucky guesses, believers have various theories regarding how and why psychometry works. The majority say that psychometry is most likely to occur when an upsetting event has left what they call a psychic residue on any people or objects in the vicinity. This residue, believers say, is what enables someone skilled in psychometry to reconstruct the event later on. Most cases of psychometry seem to deal with a past event, which suggests to some that the psychic residue can only be created in the past. Sometimes, however, psychometry will reveal an image from the future. This has led some people to say that the future, the present, and the past all exist simultaneously, and that psychic residue can enable certain psychics to glimpse other points in time. Other people, however, have said that psychics who are gifted in psychometry might not just be clairvoyant but also precognitive, which means that they have the ability to predict the future. Under this view, the future that psychometry reveals can be altered.

SEE ALSO: clairvoyance; extrasensory perception; precognition;


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning

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