One of the central questions in our book on precognition, Sensing the Future, is whether the future you experience in a precognition can be changed. The book begins with this story:
A few years ago, we were driving on a narrow mountain road in the Andes, outside of Quito, Ecuador. A wall of rock rose on our left and a cliff plunged several hundred feet on our immediate right. There wasn’t any guardrail. Just ahead, a sharp turn was visible. As Rob tapped on the brakes, we both experienced a powerful feeling that we should stop. It was an illogical thing to do on this narrow road, but the feeling was nearly overwhelming. Rob slammed on the brakes and seconds later, a car barreled around the curve, swerving well into our lane. If he hadn’t taken the action he did, we would have been in the car’s path, and possibly plummeted into the abyss.
This is how precognition usually works. The warning signal was involuntary, unexpected, and thrust suddenly into our awareness. We had motored around numerous curves on this road without stopping. But in this instance, we somehow had pierced the veil of time and glimpsed the future. By taking the action we did, we changed the future.
Dr. Bernard Beitman, one of the people to whom we sent a PDF of the book, is a visiting professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia and the author of a fascinating book on synchronicity – Connecting with Coincidence. He’s also the first psychiatrist since Jung to undertake a serious study of synchronicity – what it is, what it isn’t, what it may be. He asked a provocative question: Is the future “fixed?” Are only some future events fixed? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
He feels this is an essential problem surrounding precognition. And he’s right. On that road in the Andes, did we change our future by pulling off the road when we did? Or were we meant to survive and the precognition was a visceral reminder of that?
Sometimes, the future SEEMS fixed. You have a dream, experience a synchronicity that appears to point to a particular event or experience that’s headed your way – and then something else happens instead. I think this is where free will and choice enter the picture. Even when I do people’s natal charts, I can clearly see an event headed the person’s way – and then it doesn’t happen. But something else does. Or when I’ve gone to a psychic – not all predictions come true, but the ones that do are the ones that are MOST PROBABLE at that moment in time.
In Carl Jung’s 1949 introduction to the Richard Wilhelm translation of the I Ching, he wrote that “whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him, the hexagram was the exponent of the moment in which it was cast – even more so than the hours of the clock or the division of the calendar could be inasmuch as the hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin.”
In other words, when you ask a question of the I Ching and toss coins or yarrow sticks, a moment in time is frozen. The hexagram you get, as Jung said, is “the exponent of the moment in which it was cast.” It depicts the pattern most prevalent in your life at that instant. When changing lines create a new hexagram, it tells you how the situation may evolve in the future.
Could that second hexagram be the equivalent of a precognition?
In the example of our experience in the Andes, our “hexagram,” our pattern, changed rapidly and dramatically because of the strong impulse to pull to the side of the road. But not all precognitions are warnings. In the dreaming chapter, I recounted a precognitive dream I had that took some digging to understand:
From Sensing the Future:
In the early 1990s, we experienced several changes in our careers that resulted in a search for new publishers. Since we write full-time, this sort of change meant that no income was coming in. We were scrambling.
Our agent was sending out proposals, but no one had made an offer. One of the publishers considering Trish’s proposals was Hyperion, a Disney company. Trish felt increasingly anxious about the situation and asked for a dream that would shed some light on the situation. On January 16, 1992, she dreamed she was floating to earth in a hot air balloon or on a parachute, she wasn’t sure which. She realized she was actually looking at a photo taken by a reporter. It was one the front of a magazine and said NIKE in big red letters.
The next morning, Trish did some research on Nike. She was the Greek goddess of victory, known specifically as the Winged Goddess of Victory. In some references, Nike and Athena were supposedly once considered to be one and the same. Trish took this to mean that she would be “victorious” in finding a new publisher, a comforting reassurance. But which publisher?
She looked up Hyperion and discovered that in ancient Greece, he was known as Helios Hyperion, the sun god. Over time, he gradually became identified with Apollo, the god of light. Trish reasoned that since Athena and Apollo were two of the twelve Olympian gods and were allies, she had a good shot at selling her proposal to Hyperion.
Sure enough, Hyperion made an offer five weeks after she had this dream. Even though the dream was metaphorical and complicated and required some research to understand, it qualifies as precognitive. It also illustrates what can happen when we incubate a dream—direct our dreaming self to answer questions posed before falling asleep. This practice dates back to the ancient world.
I knew the dream was important and precognitive because of the emotional intensity I felt about it (and because I had requested a dream). But if I hadn’t bothered researching it, it would have flown right past me – and maybe the outcome would have, too. Precognitions also aren’t always clear cut – I mean, why couldn’t that hot air balloon have said HYPERION on it?
So what do you all think? Is the future fixed? Are only some mass events (911, for instance) fixed? How’s this all work, anyway?