F.W.H. Myers, poet, classical scholar and psychic researcher of the Victorian era, knew the power of naming things. He valued words so highly that he chose to start, rather than merely end, his magnum opus Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death with a glossary, which is studded with his own coinages. This essential work sits on a shelf at my right hand, its home for many years.
Every time I open these pages, another word jumps out that was invented by Myers. Some are part of our common vocabulary, like telepathy. Myers defined telepathy as the communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another, independently of the recognized channels of sense.” The term literally means “feeling at a distance”; he chose to emphasize the emotional tone, the importance of feelings in telling you that a message is coming through. This takes us to the wisdom of the body and the emotional charge between people who are connected and/or in crisis.
Many of Myers’ coinages have not entered common English or even the technical lexicons of parapsychology; many will almost certainly never do so. Yet there is inspiration here for whole books:
His quest to find evidence that consciousness survives the body deepened after the suicide of a woman he loved but could never have. He carried it with him to the Other Side. Before his death he promised that he would seek ways to send back reports of his experiences in the afterlife. He appears to have kept that promise in remarkable narratives recorded in sessions with the remarkable Irish medium Geraldine Cummins.
I dreamed a decade ago that I discovered a rich trove of materials from Myers. The materials were both manuscripts and recordings. Some of the transcriptions were faulty and needed to be revised; some of the recordings sounded as if the speaker had a cleft palate. But there were riches here quite unknown to the informed public. Walking and talking with a friend about how I would honor the dream, I played with the idea that I could reenter the dream space, bring back materials and produce corrected and finished versions. I sensed a stir of supernormal activity around me as I talked, of spirits fluttering like birds or bats. There was nothing sinister about these lively shades; their presence added to my enthusiasm for my project. However, this is one of many ventures that are still in my pending box.
I do honor Myers by trying to come up with new words to describe interesting supernormal phenomena One of my recent coinages is kairomancy, the art of divination by special moments, or navigating by synchronicity.