Do any intuitives perch in the branches of your family tree?
What about your own offspring? And what about you—do you consider yourself psychic or not? I’ve sometimes thought about disseminating a survey.
Last week, I read about a project of the Institute of Noetic Sciences doing, in part, just that. Researchers will explore a possible genetic component in people born with “extended human capacities”—more commonly known as psychic ability. Presumably they already have, on board, subjects with one or more family members having this trait because now they only still need a control group comprised of those in families in which no one apparently possesses this ability. Reading about it, I had to smile. I mean, if it’s really becoming more challenging to round up a sampling of subjects who are not able to claim a couple of highly intuitive relatives, we’ve come a long way, baby. In my view, it’s just another sign that we humans are on an evolutionary roll.
Decades ago before I had children, I hadn’t a clue that these “extended human capacities”—not unlike musical or mathematical abilities, I suspect—could also be passed along to and through subsequent generations. In circumstances that prevent access to mentors or training, in a world where such capacities have been dismissed, doubted, decried, and thus often lie dormant, that spark nonetheless still exists. It’s why I’m enthusiastic about a middle grade fantasy I recently devoured.
The book is “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by fellow Minnesotan Kelly Barnhill. It just won the coveted Newbery Medal, honoring the best work of children’s literature published in 2016. And author Neil Gaiman’s wise counsel definitely applies to this story: Those of us who write fantasies for a living know that we are doing it best when we tell the truth.
I was struck by how recognizable and reassuring elements in the story could prove to be for real children—and grownups—who are actually attuned to the unseen, to the “magic” in our midst. In this work of make-believe, whether intended by the author or not, there are parallels for some individuals to real-world experience.
My favorite three sentences in the novel are: Luna thought she was ordinary. She thought she was loved. She was half-right.
This beloved child is definitely not ordinary because she has magic in her: “It filled the gaps in her tissues. It lived in the empty spaces in her atoms. It hummed in harmony with every tiny filament of matter. Her magic was particle, wave, and motion. Probability and possibility. It bent and rippled and folded in on itself. It infused the whole of her. For me, as Barnhill describes how this magic manifests in Luna, she also poetically shows how this gift might be encoded in DNA.
Luna’s Grandmama, Xan, also has magic in her. She knows the trouble that can arise from being this kind of different. So in order to keep Luna safe and to prevent her from misusing her gift, she cocoons the tiny seed of magic directly behind the center of the girl’s forehead. This is—again, coincidentally or not—historically and spiritually the position of the “third eye” chakra, known for centuries as the gateway leading to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. But Luna doesn’t know about “the hard, tight seed of magic readying to crack open inside her.” Only occasionally does the magic seep out and show itself.
Even Xan develops a kind of amnesia about the existence of this extended human capacity. She convinces herself that Luna’s an ordinary girl. But ultimately the girl senses that there’s… something missing. A gap in her knowledge. A gap in her life. Luna could feel it. She hoped that turning twelve would solve this—build a bridge across the gap. It didn’t.
My children, it turned out, were clairvoyant, could see things. Ghosts. Angels. God—preschooler Kai once insisted. Also an old man in the basement of our house in St. Louis Park. I recall their surprise the day they realized that both had separately and repeatedly seen him, always sitting in a chair, they agreed, next to the washer and dryer. The grandchildren who came along have seen the “unseen,” too. Their sensitivity to other realms, especially when they were young children, knocked my socks off. They’ve learned, as my own kids did, to store much of the “magic” away, though as some of you know, daughter Liv later reclaimed the gift as part of her calling. She now makes her living using this extended human capacity in service to and for the good of others.
Imagine the comfort Grandma Xan’s wise and encouraging words provide for those readers who recognize in this mostly make-believe story important truths about themselves and so-called reality: Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Some of the most wonderful things in the world are invisible. Trusting in invisible things makes them more powerful and wondrous. You’ll see.
Here’s a link to the IONS survey, in case you and yours are not psychic and you’re curious enough to take it. I’ll be interested in their findings about a possible genetic component, for sure—though as you probably can guess, I’m feeling pretty darn sure about the outcome.
Introductory image is from the cover of “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill, design by Carla Weise.