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Psychometry: Do Objects Have Souls?

Anonymous writes: “My friend is involved in something she calls psychometry. It sounds demonic to me. I begged her to talk to a priest about it. She kept saying ‘this is a gift, I pray every day, I don’t know a priest.’ Shed some light on this, please.”

Your friend is involved in a form of divination which is considered to be an occult art. The fact that she believes it’s a gift doesn’t make it so; the devil is very good at counterfeiting “gifts” and she has fallen into one of his many traps.

For those who never heard of it, psychometry is an alleged psychic ability that enables a person to “read” the history of an object simply by touching it. As this website explains, “Such a person can receive impressions from an object by holding it in his/her hands or, alternatively, touching it to the forehead. Such impressions can be perceived as images, sounds, smells, tastes and even emotions.”

The assertion is that objects have souls and contain vibrations that were imbued into them by emotions and past actions.

The practice is somewhat comparable to scrying which is a form of fortune telling that is practiced by gazing into a crystal ball, mirror, bowl of water, or other shiny metal object from which the scryer claims to be able to see visions of the past, present, or future. In the case of psychometry, these readings are performed through touch.

“A person who has psychometric abilities--a psychometrist--can hold an antique glove and tell something about the history of that glove, the person who owned it, or about the experiences that person had while in the possession of that glove,” the site explains. “The psychic may be able to sense what the person was like, what they did, or how they died. Perhaps most important, the psychic can sense how the person felt at a particular time. Emotions in particular, are most strongly ‘recorded’ in the object.”

This “gift” was the brainchild of a man named Joseph Rodes Buchanan (1814-1899) who asserted that all things gave off an emanation that would enable mankind to explore the history of man and the earth, and that this discovery would supercede empirical science.

Typical of the age, in this article, written on March 17, 1878,  Buchanan gave a presentation on psychometry which involved an experiment in which members of the audience were given pieces of paper that contained specimens of various medications. Participants were asked to hold the paper between the palms of their hands for several minutes and report any sensations that might be caused by the medications.

As expected, a few participants believed they felt something such as drowsiness, and were immediately applauded as “good psychometers.” Perhaps some of the medication penetrated the skin and entered their blood stream, or it was just the power of suggestion, but it did nothing to prove Buchanan’s theory that it is the energy force in matter that causes effects, not the matter itself.

But this didn’t stop others from trying to prove the validity of psychometry. An American professor of geology named William F. Denton (1823-1883) also conducted experiments, one of which involved his sister Ann. After wrapping specimens in cloth so that Ann could not see them, she was told to place the packages to her forehead and was allegedly able to accurately describe the specimens through mental images.

Over the years, other scientists tried the same type of experimentation. Although all claimed to have successfully proven that objects have souls and retain a memory, these tests were conducted by methods considered to be primitive by today’s standards and proved nothing beyond the power of placebo which is why psychometry remains in the realm of pseudoscience.

The belief that all things have souls is based in animism which is a pagan belief system that is not compatible with the Christian worldview. Dabbling in these kinds of activities opens the door to demonic entities such as the one who is convincing Anonymous' friend that what she's doing is a "gift" rather than what it truly is - a ruse of Satan designed to tempt her away from the Truth.

For more information on the dangers of divination, see No. 2116 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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