The Stone Tape Theory
One of the first things that we learn about as paranormal investigators is the different types of hauntings. While new categories seem to be added to this all the time, for me there are really only 2 I am interested in; Intelligent and Residual. If you want more information on the different types of hauntings, you can read all about it here. We know that residual hauntings don't even seem to be aware that we are there. Sometimes we wonder if it is like the movie 'The Others' where the ghosts are living their life as they know it and think that we are the ones who are the ghosts. They are stuck in their time and going about their own business. I love this theory and will elaborate more in another post. A different theory within the paranormal field however, is that a residual haunting is caused by what is called 'The Stone tape Theory'. It is one of those things that we just sort of accept as fact, but does anyone really know much about it?
Where does the Stone tape theory come from?
It is a concept that has been around for centuries in different cultures, however it got it's name specifically from a 1972 movie 'The Stone Tape'. The synopsis of the movie is a team from a electronics company all move into a house. During renovations a stone stairway is revealed where strange things seem to be happening. One notable point from the movie is that one resident seems to see the apparition of a girl who keep falling to her death. They try to use all of their technical equipment to record the apparitions etc that only one of the residents is seeing, but as is true to all investigators, nothing is ever caught on tape. The movie itself was working with the notion that stone materials can store sounds and images from the past and then someone who is sensitive to the paranormal in some sort of way can receive the 'playback' when the conditions are right.
What is the history behind this theory?
It is hard to pinpoint exactly who came up with this theory as it is something that is not exactly exclusive to one person. Over time different concepts of the theory have surfaced. The idea itself was put forward publicly in the form we know it by Thomas Charles Lethbridge. He was an archaeologist who became a self proclaimed parapsychologist and in 1961 he released a book 'Ghost and Ghoul'. The term 'Stone Tape' had not been created yet, however his theory was that ghosts themselves are not a supernatural phenomena. His theory was that traumatic events such as a murder or suicide could be absorbed by it's surroundings most specifically a kind of moist rock or stone. After having an experience where he saw an apparition near a stream a water, he also believed that the water, forests, earth and mountains could record imprints as they were charged by the ions in the air which allowed them to record these memories. Certain environmental conditions could release these 'memories' or someone with the right level of paranormal sensitivity could see this 'playback'. It was thought that the stone acted like a tape and could record and playback sound and images in the same way the magnetic tape does. The stone just doesn't have a 'play button'. It is widely thought that the movie 'The Stone Tape' was directly influenced by Lethbridge's theory although we don't know for sure.
Throughout time dating back even further, there have been other claims of similar theories all with the notion that somehow some sort of inanimate object was absorbing memories, words or energy. It was theorised, but not given a specific name.
Is there any truth to this theory
Scientifically, no one has been able to prove that stone or rock can absorb these images or recordings. As paranormal investigators, we are often thinking of new ways to try and work with these theories. With stone tape, it seems the popular thing to do is to experiment with sound. By making loud noises, can the vibrations of the noise we make release this residual energy from the walls to force this playback to start? I have tried this on many occasions with an EVP recorder to see if I can capture an EVP after a large amount of noise has been made. For myself, this has been unsuccessful, however there are others who say this works really well for them. Other investigators also believe that water can be a significant factor as well, and by having a stream of water nearby, like in Lethbridge's theory, it can help to power the atmosphere so that the surroundings can store and playback this information. We talk about the environment and conditions a lot when investigating with claims that 'lighting and thunder charge the atmosphere making it more likely for activity or that activity is at it's peak 3 days after a full moon'. These assumptions are likely to be based partly on this theory as well.
Is this the cause of residual hauntings? There is no evidence to support it. It can be difficult for an investigator first of all to determine if what they are dealing with is intelligent or residual in the first place. Especially when most investigations are only one night in the one location. In order to really test this theory, I believe you would have to investigate the same location at the exact same time on a certain day. You would have to record all of the atmospheric data, what was the temperature what was the humidity all the factors that are supposedly involved to make the right mix to 'unlock' this energy. If you were using infrasound for example to see if you could make something happen, you would need to measure again the frequency you are using and if that correlates to any changes within the atmosphere. It is not something that can be decided after only 1 investigation. You would literally need to do hundreds of investigations to even see if there was some sort of pattern and even then, your chances are probably quite low of finding enough evidence to be able to support the claim.
There is however a lot of investigators that have said they have success in 'unlocking' this energy' through methods they have used during a paranormal investigation. A lot of the time they are using sound. Is sound the key that unlocks the residual energy from it's surroundings or is it just the sound by itself? I have been at investigations on several occasions where an investigator will get a group of people to loudly yell HELLO at the same time. This has been very successful in capturing what would be considered a potential EVP. It also seems that other activity happens shortly after as well. I wonder if perhaps it is not a case that it is unlocking this energy from the walls but it is more to do with the sound itself. Tesla himself said :“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Maybe it isn't the stone we need to be looking at, I believe it is sound. Frequency I believe is a lot more powerful than we know.
The thought has always been there over time that items can absorb memories, energy etc. How else would we have all those haunted dolls? I know a lot of mediums that can pick up an object and feel the imprint of energy left behind from it's previous owner. I don't believe it has anything to do with stone recording things. I think that we can leave an imprint of energy. How or why I don't know. You look at a person's aura for example. The Klinge brothers used to talk about an experiment they did using an Aura camera. Brad I believe it was started yelling and screaming as he does best, and the colours around him changed. When he left the room, this coloured energy stayed around for some time after he had even left the room. I find this really interesting but not surprising. I think the concept behind the Stonetape theory has some interesting points to look at, but in reality, the theory has been inspired by a movie. One of the more significant factors for me is that a supposed residual haunting can happen in any place - not just one in a building made of stone. I feel it is more about the imprint of energy and not so much about a material object 'absorbing it'. Some people feel (again because of the movie) that a residual haunting is only triggered by a traumatic event. I personally don't believe it to be limited in such a way. I feel that if a person was to walk through the same hallway every single day at the same time it will still leave behind this residual imprint of energy. As investigators we need to ask more questions and not take things at face value. A movie is not solid paranormal fact. It may have some ideas in there, but at the end of the day, without any sort of data to back it up, it remains just a theory.
I would love to hear from someone that has really done the hard work with proper documentation over a period of time at location to see if this has any results.
What do you think of the StoneTape theory? Have you experimented with this? Did you have good results? Tell me your thoughts below!
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