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  • Writer's pictureChristine Skolnik

A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Reviews reposted from booktopia. Available in paperback and on Kindle June 9, 2020.

A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal.

Our Secret Powers: Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Precognition

The book on the paranormal, endorsed by consciousness experts as the best introduction to psychic phenomena, offering the latest scientific research as well as highly compelling anecdotes.

  1. About the Author Terje Gerotti Simonsen is a Norwegian writer and historian of ideas, who teaches and writes predominantly on the esoteric traditions - hermeticism, occultism, mysticism. His works include the introductory essays to the Norwegian editions of The First Book of Enoch and Martin Buber's I and Thou in two prestigious series (The World's Holy Scriptures and The Cultural Library). The first edition of A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal was published in Norwegian in 2013 to rave reviews. "Superb survey of the paranormal ... Although serious in content, it is written in a light, often humorous, style which is a delight to read. As someone who has myself made a lifelong study of the paranormal, I cannot recommend it highly enough." - New York Times bestselling author Herbie Brennan [ . . . ]

Industry Reviews "As an encyclopedic introduction to the psychic side of the fascinating but puzzling domain knownas the paranormal, there is no better choice than A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal." - Dean Radin, PhD, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Author of the award-winning The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds and Supernatural "This is an outstanding book and it deserves all the attention it can get. Not only is Our Secret Powers a book for all seasons, it is a book for all reasons!" - Stanley Krippner, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University, Co-editor, Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence "Our Secret Powers is a sprawling work, meticulously researched, in which the author deftly, and with engaging wit, pulls together the various strands of "psi"--telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, and healing--and presents them for our consideration.(...) If you are not convinced, well then, he hopes that you will be at least entertained. I was." - Teresa Carpenter, Pulitzer-prize winner, and author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Without a Doubt "Superb survey of the paranormal (...) a veritable cornucopia of odd facts and fascinating information stitched into a much-needed survey of a vitally important subject. Although serious in content, it is written in a light, often humorous, style which is a delight to read. As someone who has myself made a lifelong study of the paranormal, I cannot recommend it highly enough." - Herbie Brennan, best-selling author New York Times book list, The Faerie Wars and other titles "Terje Simonsen is a remarkably balanced and insanely well-read guide into a literally impossible subject." - Jeffrey J. Kripal, PhD, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion, Rice University, Houston, Texas, author of Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred "Engaging and informed." - Stephan A. Schwartz, PhD, Fellow, William James Center for Consciousness Studies, Sofia University, Palo Alto, California. Author of The 8 Laws of Change "Highly captivating, jovial and easy to read." - Adrian Parker, PhD, Clinical psychologist. Tenured professor at Gothenburg University, Sweden, researcher into lucid dream-states and exceptional experiences amongst twins


Paracultures review by Christine Skolnik

A Short History is a remarkable and indispensable addition to Paranormal Studies. Though it may appear a little daunting to casual readers because of its length (480 pages), it is a joy to read, partly because Simonsen has a knack for storytelling and a wonderful sense of humor, and partly because one recognizes, almost immediately, that the author is a reliable source and expert guide to the world of the paranormal. Simonsen seems motivated by general curiosity and a broad range of scholarly questions, rather than any particular agenda within the field. See a summary of the work here.

Reflecting on the book I came to realize that its scope serves important rhetorical and disciplinary purposes. The sheer number of examples of paranormal phenomena, from various times and places, and including individuals from various walks of life, is an overwhelming argument for taking psi seriously. Also persuasive are the references to philosophers and scientists who have been intrigued with psi questions. In addition to discussing James, Jung, and Pauli, Simonsen notes that paranormal phenomena engaged Socrates, Kant, and a wide range of twentieth-century scientists.

The disciplinary value of the work is at least threefold. Firstly, it provides a common curriculum for individuals seriously interested in the paranormal. Secondly, it places psi phenomena in socio-cultural context. Thirdly, and this may be its greatest value, the book presents patterns of human experience, over large swaths of time and place, that will undoubtedly give rise to new theories and research agendas. The book is like a complex system that gives rise to new thought forms.

In reflecting on the book I’ve come to think of Paranormal Studies as a kind of a bridge. It’s a bridge to future knowledge: a way to ask questions and to research phenomena that cry out for explanation, and the understanding of which may very well revolutionize human ways of knowing and being in the world. It is also a bridge to the past, helping us to contextualize and learn from historical cultures for whom the world was sacred and alive in ways we can only begin to imagine. It’s also a path to understanding contemporary cultures we have misunderstood, marginalized, and degraded for far too long.

Paranormal Studies is a bridge to the unconscious and our own latent capacities as individuals. It’s also a way of connecting individuals with interest in paranormal phenomena who may feel alienated by both standard Western cultures and New Age excesses. (Simonsen’s work is a prime example of a capacity to connect because it combines scholarly research with a reader-friendly prose style.) Paranormal Studies is also a bridge for human beings to other communities of living beings in an ecological context.

The paranormal has been marginalized as a threat to political power for millennia. Today it may also pose a threat to the status quo. Given what has recently been revealed about that status quo, in the context of the world’s former “superpowers” at the very least, the paranormal may be a bridge to a future in which life is valued in ways that a wide variety of materialisms seem to have foreclosed.

See excerpt following review, originally published here.

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