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.



  • 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

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