What the heck is Psychometry and Retrocognition?
If you would have asked me when I was growing up what these terms meant, I would have stalled you and ran off to look to it up in my handy-dandy encyclopedia set. I wouldn’t have found the terms in those old volumes, but I am one those people who wants to know everything. I couldn’t stand not knowing the answer to any question. Secretly, I was convinced I was a reincarnated Druid because of it. But, that’s another story altogether.
Here are the official definitions according to Wikipedia:
“Joseph Rodes Buchanan coined the word “psychometry” in 1842. A form of psychic reading in which an individual claims to obtain details about another through psysical contact with a possession.”
“Retrocognition (also known as postcognition), from the Latin retro meaning “backward, behind” and cognition meaning “knowing,” describes “knowledge of a past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.” The term was coined by Frederic W.H. Myers.”
I didn’t ever have an official definition of what it was I could do; I simply called it “place memory” – reading the residual energy left in a particular location. I also had the ability to hold an object and get traces of mental images of the person who owned it, complete with a picture of where it had been located when they owned it. Certain items “felt” different. For me, they contained remnants of emotions. They had the ability to make me feel happy or sad.
These abilities were natural to me. I couldn’t help it. The knowledge just came to me. I would start babbling about who lived in a house previous to the current occupants, or where an object came from, where it was located, who wore it before they owned it, etc.
Remember – I grew up in a religion that believed psychics, like witches – were evil. There were far more skeptics out there than during this more, enlightened age. I was told I was outright crazy. The kinder people chose to believe I suffered from an unusually active imagination.
So, like any good people-pleasing Empath – I learned to shut it out to some extent. This only meant blocking the lesser-energy, really. The stronger residual energies still made themselves known, which in turn, scared the hell out of me.
As I matured, the ability grew stronger. Eventually, it stopped being so scary, but I had to be really close to someone before I would trust them enough with my visions.
This is one of my best personal experiences of place memory:
My dad used to own a second house in Hayfork, California. It’s a tiny town in Trinity County and it takes hours to get there on a terrifying, winding road through steep mountains. I hated the car ride. Anyway, several ago, my parents needed some work done on the house because they were putting it on the market to sell. Sandy and I drove down from Washington. I’m not going to lie, Sandy did the work, I was just there for the visit! It’s important to note that while he owned that house for years and my grandpa before that – the only history I knew of Hayfork was one – that it was a bitch to get to, and two – it used to be a lumber town before the laws protecting the spotted owl shut the mills down. The next closest town is Weaverville, which used to be an old mining town.
One day, my dad piled us in the car without telling us a destination. This wasn’t unusual for him, my papa loves to drive and explore. He drove us through the Trinity National Forest. The trip was horrific, up, down and around dirt roads barely wide enough to travel on. I could look out the window and see we literally had an inch before we fell off the side of the mountain to our deaths. My stomach was in knots.
We pulled into a very small picnic area whose attraction was a stunningly unique natural rock bridge. I felt odd when I got out of the car, but I chalked it up to the scary ride, and we walked over to the rock face and small caves.
My parents watched Sandy climb the rocks while I was drawn in – under the natural bridge – to the small pools of water and limestone tunnels. I heard a sigh come from behind me and I turned around. No one was there. I heard giggling then singing, but couldn’t decipher the words. Again, I was the only one inside. I wasn’t scared – I realized I was hearing echoes of the past. I could see a slice of life. I walked through the area, soaking it in.
I perceived a group of Native Americans. There was a fire to the left of the entrance, women washing clothes and bathing in a small rock pool on the far side, children were laughing, running and playing. Men were sitting on top of the largest boulder, watching me. It was awesome and unnerving at the same time.
Apparently, I was gone a long time, and Sandy had to come look for me. I told her what I saw. I pointed out the different scenes while chills ran up and down my spine. (When we visited, the water wasn’t flooding the cave like it is in the picture, there were only small rivulets and standing pools.)
When I turned my back to the caves, and while I was walking to where my parent’s waited, the scene changed – and although I couldn’t see anything anymore, I smelled smoke and heard screaming. I kept looking behind me; trying to understand why the idyllic memory changed so drastically. My heart felt heavy and tears ran down my face.
My dad looked at me oddly after I told him what I experienced. I insisted a lot of people died here in very tragic circumstances. In truth, I think I scared him just a little.
All he could tell me at that moment was there had been a massacre in this location, but he didn’t know the details. It wasn’t anything that the locals in Trinity County were proud of.
The first thing I did when we got back to the house was to jump online and look it up. On the 23rd of April, 1852 – an entire tribe of Wintu Indians, numbering 150 – were murdered in the exact location of my vision. It is known as the Bridge Gulch or Hayfork Massacre. I was heartbroken to read of the horrific tragedy, and I felt the lingering energy for days.
But, at the same time, I was validated. It was the most powerful and concrete evidence of my gift that I had come across to date. That experience gave me permission to believe – in me. It was liberating to finally convince myself that I wasn’t crazy and making things up.
Since then, I give my vision more credit. Do I always get the details correct? No. Because the images I receive are open to my perception of an event – colored through the lenses of my life’s experience.
I love writing about the psychic side of life. My current work in progress, the second book in the Sisters of Spirits Trilogy, features our second paranormal investigator, Tiffany Curran, who has psychometric abilities.
But she’s insisting I be sure and tell you that she’s much better at it than I am!