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The History of Retrocognition

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 26 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
Retrocognition Psychic Clairvoyance Psi

Shopping around for a new home you are greeted at the door of one enticing prospect by the smiling owner and led inside. Everything seems perfect from the number of rooms to the large garden out back and your favourite colour paint on the walls. You are certain you’ve found the ideal home when suddenly you are hit with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The room around you is swiftly replaced with another scene; outside the house, men in uniform loading a sheet covered stretcher into the back of an ambulance and just like that you know - someone died in this house. As the room and puzzled home owner come back into view, you thank your retrocognitive abilities and prepare to ask some tough questions.

What is Retrocognition?

Retrocognition is the ability to see, sense or experience events that have happened in the past. The name comes from the Latin words retro (behind) and cognito (getting to know), and the term postcognition is often used interchangeably. Gaining any information about the past is considered a form of retrocognition, where as specifically being able to read the history of an object is considered Pschometry.

Retrocognition can take many forms, such as when the “retrocog” gains sudden knowledge about events that have happened, but has no understanding of where the knowledge comes from. A retrocog who meets someone and immediately knows they lost a child, for instance, would be using this form of the ability.

On the other hand if that same person shook hands with someone and saw images of the person crying at a funeral and snapshots of the child, the retrocog would be coming to the same conclusion using a different form of the ability. Some claim their entire world vanishes and they experience the past as an invisible observer, as if stepping inside a movie.

Isn’t Retrocognition the Same as Clairvoyance?

Many people would lump these two abilities together, or simply not understand the difference. A clairvoyant gains information in a manner outside the five senses, as does a retrocog, but the clairvoyant is getting information that is happening in the present. A clairvoyant may also be a retrocog, but the abilities are considered different.

Past Lives

The concept of past lives and reincarnation is closely related to retrocognition. The ability for a psychic to “tap into” a past life in order to gain knowledge otherwise unavailable to them would certainly qualify as retrocognition. A man with little to no medical knowledge able to perform an emergency medical procedure by accessing the knowledge of an ancestral doctor, for example.

Retrocognition and Popular Culture

The idea of seeing the past is not as romantic as seeing the future, it would seem, as there are far fewer examples of it in popular culture. Steven King’s novel Dead Zone (and the movie adaptation) utilise retrocognition, as does the Canadian TV show Seeing Things, but the number of precogs in literature and film trump the retrocogs every time.

Final Thoughts

Retrocognition may be one of the hardest psychic abilities to “prove” due to the perfectly normal ability for a person to research the past with readily available materials and the difficulty of disputing an anecdotal claim that a person is seeing something when it can’t be seen by someone else.

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