Monday, February 10, 2014

One Small Trip with Ivan

I was putting things in slightly better order the other day and focussed on the notebook above. It had been "seen" before of course, but without any consciousness. That day the thought occurred: "Ivan doesn't seem to have been at all 'spiritual' really. Wonder why he even bothered to have a notebook on ghosts?"

The page-through look inside showed quickly that indeed he was NOT much interested. The notebook is relatively thin and has little that I, at least, consider substantial. The main thing there was his draft of a book chapter he later published in More Things, which is worth retelling shortly "down the page".

The intriguing "Spectral Ships" consists of only a chapter from a book, and the articles that were published by Larry Arnold in PURSUIT are at least as good [and have been covered here already]. The "doppelgänger" section was one letter from a reader and a reply sending it to Berthold Schwarz.

Generally speaking, what interested me was that not everything in the notebook was put there by Ivan. I always viewed these as his files and his alone, but I have to revise that a bit. I know this because there ARE a couple of handfuls of paste-ins about ghosts/ poltergeists BUT they are almost all in the couple of years after he died. The way that I'm going to rationalize this is to believe that once Ivan founded SITU, he "transferred" his files TO SITU as one of the resource foundations of the organization, and for a brief while during his illness and after someone [probably Marion Fawcett] might glue some incoming things in there. This may seem trivial, but it is worth keeping in mind for the researcher. These posthumous add-ins were uniformly low credibility articles out of the National Enquirer.

But there were, as I said, a thing or two else wise in the file which might be interesting to you, both in itself and because Ivan placed it there.

The main thing will be about the event associated with the chapter that Ivan wrote to conclude the book More Things.

It concerns a time well before the SITU dream, when Ivan and his first wife were in Haiti collecting biological specimens on a grant. They lived in a nice residence nearby Port-au-Prince with a friend who spoke the Haitian dialects, and had housekeeping people looking out for their welfare, most important of whom was a lady who took matronly concern for Ivan's wife. This was a fine lady who happened to be a practitioner of Vaudun, a benign strain of what we call Voudou, aimed mainly at healing. None of that Ivan gave any credence to, but the lady, as he said, tolerated him because she liked his wife.

This lady seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing if Ivan and his wife would be home for dinner when they were out on one of their field trips or an excursion into the city. When they arrived "on time" for supper, supper would be there on the table. When they would be seriously late, supper would have long been put away and the house ready for retirement. [and the supper actually shared and eaten by the house servant group]. Ivan never thought much about this except for being amused.

There came a time when Ivan and his wife and their friend were on a trip into the sort-of-nearby desert, driving their car, when it got quagmired in a basin filled with rapid run-off and mud from a flash storm. There was nothing to do but get out and walk. This had two dangers: local people hated "different" people, and often bad things happened for seemingly no reason when interactions occurred. Secondly, they were a very long walk away from getting any help. Some of the first happened, but their friend talked the locals away. That left just the grind.

The friend was more fit, and walked well ahead to intercept any new local group to attempt to dissuade them from mayhem. Ivan and his wife trudged behind. Thoroughly exhausted and just putting one foot in front of another, Ivan saw up ahead what seemed to be a town. As he approached, it resolved to be something very much like a street in late medieval or renaissance Paris. He stumbled into the street between the buildings when his wife remarked her surprise and said something to the point of: "How did we get to medieval Paris?"

There was no one else in the street, but they sat down on a benchstone or low wall to rest and marvel. Sometime later, their friend turned back to come look for them. He came and sat next to them and offered them a cigarette. When his lighter struck and then extinguished, the Sandersons found themselves sitting on the desert sand with their friend with no 500-year-old Paris anywhere. The friend had seen none of it.

This event haunted Ivan a bit all his life. He never came to any grips whatever with this, what he called, "shared hallucination." Unbelieving in any spiritual element to the mind, the idea that this could be "psychic" refused to gain any foothold. His later buddy, Berthold Schwarz, however, would have immediately gone right there.

The aftermath of this anomaly had its own oddness. After quite a delay getting back the rest of the way home, the Sandersons found that their housekeeper/Vaudun lady had precisely anticipated both the time of their arrival and the needs of their unusual conditions --- soothing baths, clean clothes, and a very late supper were all waiting. Ivan tried to press the lady on how she "knew", but she wouldn't say anything.

All he ultimately got was a comment from a younger man who worked with the lady as part of the staff. He said: "You saw things didn't you? You don't believe it, but you could always see things if you wanted to. We know, and we were watching you. We have always watched you, and, although you are foreigners, we feel you are good people." {these, Ivan said, are his condensations of the younger man's words}.

Ivan fought the possibility of belief in the psychic/ spiritual world. I think that it was because he just couldn't allow himself to get involved with paths of thinking which [by definition] could never have any chance of "physical proof."

He had a long insightful talk with Richard Grigonis in about 1970 or so, which is published on Grigonis' website. In that transcript Sanderson says: "{Charles} Fort does not deal in mystical things: The Occult, ghosts, all this kooky stuff. Rather he deals with things like this ashtray, which you can get your hands on." He said that he doesn't doubt people's honesty or their stories about things like that, they just don't interest him. As to SITU: "We're not against science on the one hand, and we're not against the mystics on the other. We're right in the middle. We're a different group of people. We're entirely pragmatic."

.........well, maybe. The entirety of SITU certainly wasn't, so that comment was only clearly accurate if Ivan was using the "Royal" we.

.........and even for Ivan...... he DID have a "Ghosts" file [thin as it was], and he DID put a walloping good mysterious personal event in there, which probably 90% or more of his readers would have interpreted as either "psychic" or "no conceivable explanation."

Stuck late into the file, a National Enquirer article from just about the time of Ivan's death, spoke of an Irish village which believes that its lake has an island that emits ghostly lights when someone dies. On that island are the ruins of an ancient abbey, fallen down since the 1600s. Lights allegedly come from the monastery, float across the lake, pass homes, and then return. 250 people allegedly were on record as having seen them between about 1920 and 1970.

Would "they", if true, be tangible enough for Ivan?

Why cannot such matters be "Fortean" like any other mystery?

Peace and Warmth. .....  and Wonder.


  1. thanks for the story, so mr ivan sanderson was able to 'see' psychic stuff ? that desert illusion sounds like a glamour casted by someone/something, i was thinking of faerie lore type illusions, if i recall the wilderness are their domain.

  2. The most unusual aspect of this is that the friend did not see the medieval city while both the Sandersons did.

    Time-slips have been one of the rarest types of anomaly reports, but have been showing up with some frequency on Reddit's "Glitch in the Matrix" section. (Link is to top stories. The 2nd line of links on the page: "hot", "new" etc. give recent reports.) Doppelgangers and teleportation cases are almost common there. Reports of large-scale reality shifts, often following an incident that should have been fatal for the person giving the account, are very common.

    A few hundred earlier reports of varying impressiveness can be found at Cynthia Sue Larson's Realityshifters site.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Whacky computer behavior required me to delete comment above --- leprechauns "slipping" into Space-Time?

      Thanks for the links. I've visited Ms. Larson's site and despite the fact that I find the material fixating. I haven't found time to digest it at all. My "romanticism" makes me intuit that there is something extremely important here. Maybe if I ever get my scanning-files project started and "in", I'll find that time. In some way, these "slips" or as another researcher calls them "jottles" [when on a very small scale] could be playing roles in certain UFO cases [ex. the OZ effect] and even paranormal "experience anomalies" a la Jerry Clark. ---- hmmm.... that came out wrong. Jerry's not an anomaly. Well... maybe he is

  3. this "shared hallucination" situation, do you think is it similar with the miner who saw and entered 'tubular cloud' in the northern canada (from your blog) ?

    1. on the surface it doesn't seem so, but if there is a larger model of these "interface" experiences which makes sense to unite them, maybe so.

  4. Reading into mr sanderson and wife's experience in the desert , i was reminded of prof's post about his family members picking an old lady and entering a town with no one inside , like a mirror image of the reality. Now for me it is easier to explain to my mind that maybe , just maybe the lady who took a liking to ivan's wife gave them some kind of protection charm , that may induce the so called event , to let them rest comfortably maybe..

    Personally i think this is very similar to the OOBE research (Monroe) , where your physical body is lying on bed in physical plane , but your mind / soul / spirit experienced 'feels real' environment..

    forgive the musing ..