Lethbridge, T. C.

Lethbridge, T. C. (1901–1971) was an English archaeologist, psychical researcher, dowser and explorer. T. C. Lethbridge is especially known for his experiments with pendulum dowsing and his ideas on Ghosts, DREAMS, and the nature of time.

Thomas C. Lethbridge was born in 1901 in London. His family came from England’s west country, and he could trace his roots to the 12th century. His ancestors included soldiers, explorers, members of Parliament and churchmen. He was educated at Cambridge University. After graduation, he became an archaeologist, beginning as a volunteer digger. Eventually he became the keeper of Anglo-Saxon antiquities at the Archaeology Museum, an honorary post. He remained in Cambridge until 1957, except for one year spent elsewhere.

Lethbridge became acquainted with historian Margaret A. Murray, who promoted the theory that witchcraft was an unbroken, pre-Christian religion of fertility worship. Her theory was very popular for a time—and Lethbridge supported it—but it was eventually disproved. His interest in Murray’s work led him to make an important discovery. Lethbridge heard that a giant figure was supposed to be cut into the turf at Wandlebury Camp, an Iron Age fort near Cambridge. He reasoned that the turf outlining the figure would be deeper than the surrounding turf. He set about poking an iron bar into the turf and soon discovered the figure of a woman on horseback with a sun god on one side and a sword-wielding warrior on the other. A symbol of the moon was behind her. Lethbridge concluded that prehistoric England worshipped a moon goddess, Magog, and her husband, the sun god Gog. He wrote a book about his findings, Gogmagog, the Buried Gods (1957).

Lethbridge’s support of Murray made him unpopular at Cambridge. In 1957 he and his wife, Mina, moved into Hole House, near Branscombe in Devon. Until that time, Lethbridge had had no marked interest in the supernatural. At school, he had encountered an icy presence known as “the ghoul” and had had other experiences of unpleasant sensations that were attributed by others to hauntings. He had also experimented with dowsing. A witchy neighbour in Devon who said she could astrally project out of her body renewed his interest in dowsing, parapsychology and the supernatural.

For the remainder of his life, Lethbridge explored other dimensions of reality. He came to see the world of nature as full of energy that can be picked up by the human brain. The pendulum, he said, makes a contact between ordinary consciousness and a part of the bain that knows a bigger picture. The experience of “the ghoul” at his school could be explained as a projection from the subconscious mind of a person afraid of a ghost that reputedly haunted the corridor where the ghoul was sensed. Earlier humankind, he argued, possessed a greater awareness of these powers of consciousness than do contemporary people.

Lethbridge’s continuing work with the pendulum led to the revelation that different lengths of cord from which a pendulum hangs responded to different objects and even abstract concepts, such as love. Everything has its own “rate”: the length of cord that resonates with it, and the number of swings the pendulum makes. The pendulum can reveal realities on the Other Side of death.

He experimented with his own dreams and believed that dreams fall into two categories: from within the dreamer (the type that interests psychologists) and from beyond the control of the “earth mind.” The second type of dreams contain future memories. We have grossly mistaken ideas about the nature of time, he said. When we dream the future, we are beyond the point of sleep and death.

His work led him and his wife to have unusual experiences, many of which he wrote about in his books. Lethbridge said he felt “reasonably convinced” about the existence of ghosts. In Ghost and Ghoul (1961) he stated:

They are pictures produced by human minds. They are not spirits of departed persons from another world. That some of them are produced by persons living on another plane of existence seems to be reasonable enough, but it also seems clear that the vast majority of ghosts must be produced by minds which are still using human bodies on this plane where we are now living. To me they appear to be no more and no less than television pictures. The television picture is a man-made ghost. Fortunately man has yet to produce a ghoul, but it is the same kind of thing. A person does not, I think, perceive a ghost with his senses. He sees it on the screen of his mind, where it is produced by the force of ‘Resonance,’ which has yet to be extensively examined. All the other phenomena, known variously as clairvoyance, psychometry precognition, psychokinesis and so on, are produced in a similar manner and resonance is the force employed.

Lethbridge also said that some people may always be transmitters and others may always be receivers. Thus may hauntings be perpetuated.

Lethbridge died in 1971.

Lethbridge wrote nine books dealing with the paranormal, and several others on subjects dating to his Cambridge days. His occult books, besides Gogmagog and Ghost and Ghoul, are Witches: Investigating an Ancient Religion (1962); Ghost and Divining Rod (1963); E.S.P.: Beyond Time and Distance (1965); A Step in the Dark (1967); The Monkey’s Tail: A Study in Evolution and Parapsychology (1969); The Legends of the Sons of God (1972); and The Power of the Pendulum (1976). The last two titles were published posthumously.

Further Reading:

  • Graves, Tom, and Janet Hoult, eds. The Essential T.C. Lethbridge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.
  • Lethbridge, T.C. Ghost and Ghoul. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1962.
  • ———. The Power of the Pendulum. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976.


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