A Haunted Man

Peter Hough
Magonia 20, August 1983

Most people are now familiar with the term ‘astral projection’, or its more modern version: ‘out of the body experience’ (OOBE). This describes the phenomenon where the mind, or ‘astral double’, is projected from the physical body to wander around our world, enter another time or plane of reality. Here is one such case from here, in England, although I feel that OOBE cannot account for the whole of it.
After hearing of Mr Keith Sefton’s [pseudonym] claims through a friend, I became intrigued, and agreed to investigate them. Mr Sefton, a healthy looking 68-years-old, served in the Lancashire Fusiliers, but now retired, lives in a quiet backstreet in Wigan.

His experiences began suddenly in the summer of 1980. Before then there were no paranormal incidents in his life at all. This in itself is unusual, as most percipients of OOBE phenomena have a history of bizarre events to narrate – what started this great surge of happenings was something very sudden.

It occurred around 12.30, as Mr Sefton was sitting in the front room of his house, having lunch. Opposite, across the narrow road, lived an elderly lady who received a daily visit from the meals-on-wheels service. While he was eating, Mr Sefton glanced across expecting to see her standing in the bay window, waiting for the delivery van to arrive. In her place, and staring across at him, was an apparition of his dead mother.

She stood hands on hips, rigid like a statue, wearing a shawl which in life had been her favourite. Unbelieving, he moved closer to the window of the sitting room before fear overcame him and he turned his head away. Slowly he looked forward again, but his mother’s stony expression still stared across the intervening yards. The image lasted for about eight minutes. Finally she turned away, and magically resolved into the familiar features of the old lady.

This phenomenon occurred a second time, two weeks later under similar circumstances. Following this, Mr Sefton was to have an altogether different experience. Having been divorced for fifteen years, imagine his surprise early one morning, upon hearing the voice of his wife calling out his name.

It was unlike a voice ‘heard’ in a dream, he explained, but it was a perfectly natural auditory sound. Having received the strong impression it had come from outside, through the letterbox, he pulled on his dressing-gown and went downstairs. The door was unlocked, but there was no-one about. So convinced was he that he had heard his former wife calling out his name he ventured out onto the pavement and looked up and down the road.

This experience was also repeated two weeks later. Unfortunately, because of their poor relationship, he failed to contact his former wife to see if anything was wrong, to provide a possible explanation for this happening. What happened next was the penultimate episode before the main series of OOBE related events.

At eight o’clock one morning he was woken by the alarm clock. Preparing to rise, he suddenly heard footsteps outside the house and children’s voices – voices which had a familiar ring, forcing his mind to drift back to his own childhood, picking up lumps of coal from the surrounding pits, during the 1926 General Strike.

Slowly his attention was brought back to the room. His eyes focused on a spot two feet above the bed, and the intense feeling that a ‘presence’ hung there, came over him. Then a voice spoke into his mind.

“Yes, and you will hear them again,” It said enigmatically, “You didn’t die you know.” The voice reminded him of his mother’s.

From then on until November 1981, Mr Sefton claims to have had twenty to thirty experiences. Many of these displayed ‘Out of Body’ characteristics. Most occurred upon reaching the point of falling asleep. They usually began with a tiny blue light, no bigger than a pin-head, hovering about nine inches from his head.

After several nights it began to pulsate and expand to the size of a pea, becoming multicoloured. Eventually the light would suddenly vanish to be replaced by the vivid image of a full moon, dark clouds scudding swiftly across its surface. These clouds thickened until only a halo remained. On these occasions Mr Sefton was drawn towards the bright ring, and through it.

While recounting the bizarre episodes which followed his journeys through the ring, Keith Sefton was at pains to convince me of the lucidity, the realness, of his adventures. On his first and second visit he found himself looking up a long tube, or tunnel. At the other end was an eye, staring down at him. On the second occasion he saw enough of the face to conclude it belonged to a man. He received the intimation that the man was observing him under the lens of a microscope.

Visions of the moon continued to manifest in the darkness of the moon, and when the clouds obscured all but its aura, he felt himself being drawn upwards and through it. Exotic landscapes spread before him – on one occasion a beautiful pastoral scene of trees and flowers set around a lake. In the centre of the lake was a small rowing boat with a figure seated in it. It seemed the man was observing Mr Sefton, who in turn was observing him.

Once he travelled to a barren desert, strewn with rocks. A man inhabited this scene also, seated on a boulder, staring intensely in his direction. These figures were to crop up many times in various guises. They all shared similar physical characteristics and behaviour – always alone, they never spoke or moved, but seemed very aware of his intrusion. They had a ‘foreign’ look, possibly Grecian, with olive complexions, beards and hair of short, tight curls.

There were a few exceptions. The man in the desert, for instance, wore a long robe and was completely bald. He seemed to be travelling at tremendous speed through an intense blackness. He described how one night he was taken on a journey through the galaxies. One moment he was lying in bed, then he seemed to be travelling at tremendous speed through an intense blackness. Bright spheres rushed towards him then quickly away into the distance. He described this as highly invigorating.

Not all these experiences occurred whilst waiting to fall asleep, sometimes he would wake up in the early hours of the morning. On seven or eight occasions at around six o’clock something roused him. A few times he saw a man dressed in glittering trousers and tails rather like a circus ringmaster [1]. The man would silently wave a white stick at him, as if to emphasise a point. Usually he was only clearly visible if one eye was covered. The last vision of that nature was in November 1981.

Then there was a gap of almost a year. In September 1982 the visitations resumed. He was awoken at 4am, and described seeing a “little white lady in my eye”. The image remained there for two or three minutes. This too reminded him of his mother, wearing a long nightdress. Suddenly the image burst from his eye into the form of a vaporous cloud, reforming into a four inch high figure at the bottom of the bed. [2] The ‘white lady’ walked around in a circle holding something resembling a broom handle. As he put out a hand to touch her she told him with a smile that it was forbidden. Then she passed out of sight as if she had slipped behind a black curtain. 
Time seemed suspended and inconsequential. This was illustrated one Saturday afternoon in the down-to-earth surroundings of Wigan market
I questioned Mr Sefton carefully about the physiological and psychological effects before, during and after these experiences. I also encouraged him, during our two meetings and subsequent correspondence, to air his own views on the matter.

In answer to my question of whether he could be experiencing very vivid dream imagery, he reminded me they had only begun in 1980, and went on: “I have dreams, but these are not dreams – when I dream there are no colours, things are not clear. During these events I receive the most inexplicable panoramic views, and throughout I sense that something is feeding information into my mind. If only more people could experience it…”

He went on to explain that often he felt that he was in two places at once: the ‘here’ of the bedroom, and also in another ‘reality frame’. Time seemed suspended and inconsequential. This was illustrated one Saturday afternoon in the down-to-earth surroundings of Wigan market. The aisles between the stalls were crowded with shoppers, stocking up with meat and fresh vegetables for the weekend. As Keith Sefton picked his way through the crowd, suddenly all the noise diminished, and he felt his “consciousness was partially lifted from our plane”. Then out of this unnatural silence a lone child began calling. He focused hard on a stallholder serving a woman with apples, and the noise and bustle of the marketplace returned.

This cross-references nicely with the sensations reported by people witness to close encounter UFO experiences. Many have noted that all sounds, such a birds singing or traffic noise on nearby roads, disappeared.

Why Mr Sefton’s mother should feature so prominently in these events is open to conjecture. He is not particularly religious, and has sought out books and people who would give him a logical scientific explanation for all this. The tunnel through which he passes on his journeys is a common component of out-of-body experiences, and by those relating accounts of an ‘afterlife’ during near-death experiences.

During questioning it transpired that just prior to many of these events he found himself breathing unnaturally deeply. Could Mr Sefton have unwittingly put himself into a trance? The heavy breathing would involve a degree of hyper-ventilation; flooding the body with oxygen and depriving the brain of sugar. Practitioners of yoga are adept at this, believing that it charges up the etheric double.

Also of interest is the phenomenon of hypnogogic and hypnopompic imagery, under study by psychiatrists. This refers to the state of mind when one is about to fall asleep or awaken, respectively. Something very strange can happen when the brain is neither fully asleep or awake, but ‘in neutral’, as it were. Very vivid hallucinations sometimes occur. This condition is known to effect something between half and three-quarter of the population. Although the sensations generally are visual or auditory, they may also involve heat, cold, odour or touch.

But the question remains – do these states of altered consciousness cause exotic imagery to manifest, or is the brain merely put into a mode where it is receptive to contact from an objective, exterior source? I know of one northern gentleman who would be interested in the answer to that one.

Meanwhile, the experiences have begun again. I quote from a recent letter:

“I have had a few visions on waking in the morning, since last I saw you. I suddenly found myself in a monastery. The entrance and surrounding walls were in dark colours, but the centre was beautifully lit. There were about twelve girls in a ring who were dancing holding the hems of their long white frocks, moving into the ring and out of it. I also saw the faces of two men, whom I did not recognise…”

  1. This rather incongruous Image has a almost identical precedent In the case of ‘Miss Z’, Investigated by John Rimmer and Peter Rogerson, and reported In MUFOB. Other members of Miss Z’s family had reported hypnogogic and hypnopomplc experiences, Including her father “On another occasion there were about a dozen figures wearing ‘glittery’ silver suits… [they were] normal looking human figures and the suits of a normal style, resembling ‘glitter’ suits worn by show-business personalitles” (MUFOB, new series 4, p.4).
  2. This also echoes the experience of Miss Z’s father, who on one occasion awoke to find a number of tiny figures lust a few inches high running about the room – some on tiny horses!