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If Walls Could Talk, The Stone Tape Theory

The stories of “haunted houses” are always the same, aren’t they? Fleeting apparitions, disembodied footsteps, out-of-place voices, witnesses remembering a sort of “moving picture” that vanishes when approached.  Time and time again, we hear the story of a phenomenon that seems random in nature; an apparation seemingly unaware of the living, going about its busines, walking through walls, slipping in and out of reality with no contact or intelligent behavior toward the startled witness.

Perhaps you or someone you know have been such a witness.  Perhaps you were imore intrigued than terrified — your line of questioning the phenomenon more along the lines of “how is this happening” than “why is this happening”?

British director Nigel Kneale was certainly not the first person to speculate on science behind the manifestation of ghosts, but he did suggest that these “concentrated patches of a haunting” in his 1972 British horror-drama film The Stone Tape were nothing more than “ideas imprinting on the environment”.

In essense, there is no actual “ghost” in the room (i.e. the dead trying to talk), but that the space itself “holds an image…a trace of what happened…and [people] act as recorders, amplifiers” (Kneale, 1972). 

Stone Tape Theory was born.

But to further understand and appreciate the significance of Stone Tape Theory, we must take a multidimensional approach to dissecting this complex phenomenon, starting with the very basic nature of reality as we know it: the atom.

According to world-renowned psychophysiologist and biomedical engineer Dr. Barry Taff, our bodies are nothing more than a “collection of organized groups of atoms that are themselves composed of even more highly ordered cloisters of protons, neutrons, and electrons” (2011).  Acknowledging the world as an “arrangement of molecules or atoms or intra-atomic particles” of which our entire physical reality is the foundation for understanding Stone Tape Theory (Hill, 2017).

We already know we are made of microscopic clusters of stuff.  Advances in technology have allowed scientists to realize that atomic particles may not be particles altogether, but “waves of reverberating and overlapping energies” (Wilcock, 2011).  As we will see throughout this article, the implications of a reality of overlapping energies have a profound effect on how we continue to understand not only the flesh and blood world, but how we should hypothesize the supernatural world. 

Everything we know of is made of energy – our laptop, our brain, our mom’s tuna casserole. Energy and matter have always been in constant motion, and we know from The First Law of Thermodynamics that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be changed from one form to another (my italics) (Wilcock, 2011; Danielson, 2014).  So if matter is nothing more than empty space with energy running through it, and that energy is never destroyed, can an energetic “imprint” be left behind after the physical stuff is no longer physically there?  Does an environment keep memories and influences from its previous lives?

With that notion in mind, we further dig into the depths of Stone Tape Theory (hereafter designated as STT).

While there is limited evidence to scientifically prove emotion can directly create electricity, paranormal researchers speculate emotions may impact the environment on a quantum level we have yet to fully understand (Hill, 2017). Author and filmmaker Mike Ricksecker discussed the heart’s magnetic field (toroidal energy) in his 2020 book A Walk in the Shadows: The Complete Guide to Shadow People. Research conducted by the HeartMath Institute proved that the heart’s magnetic field is not only the “strongest rhythmic field produced by the human body”, but can extend around our body for several feet as indicated by researchers’ magnetometers.  “These same rhythmic patterns also can transmit emotional information via the electromagnetic field into the environment (my italics), which can be detected by others…” (Ricksecker, 2020).

Furthermore, experiments with DNA molecules by Russian quantum geneticist Dr. Peter Gariaev in the late 1980s proposed that DNA “acted like a light sponge”, pulling in photos from an “unknown source” and only releasing them when the DNA was destroyed (Wilcock, 2011).  When DNA was stored in a quartz container and blasted with lasers, liquid nitrogen, and microwaves, the strand was obliterated but an “energetic duplicate” remained in the container for up to thirty days, “spiraling along…like a disembodied spirit” (Wilcock, 2011).

The implications of a heart-rhythm synchronization between people and the environment and the possibility that DNA produces a duplicate light version of itself is nothing short of astounding.  It certainly leads credibility to the notion that when we transition from our physical body to our soul (i.e., die), that energy could still exist – just not in the form of our “personality” or something we can “be or use” (Roach, 2011).

For decades, sound engineers have manipulated magnetized particles of energy, imprinting them on plastic tape coated with iron oxide powder (MacProVideoDotCom, 2020). This ability to convert an electronic signal into a magnetic charge (and vice-versa) is the very basis for how a cassette tape works.  The stronger the electronic signal being fed into the recorder, the more magnetized the particles become, and the quality of the recording is enhanced (GlevoTec, 2016). 

It seems as though certain geolocations act as storage batteries or tape recorders, recording emotionally-charged occurrences and then playing them back under certain conditions. The circumstances surrounding why a place will discharge an event is inconsistent, and some researchers think this residual activity can be triggered on command.  For example, playing period music may trigger an apparition of a dancing couple, while tearing down walls or uprooting flooring may stir up energies or memories that were imprinted in its structure (Williams, 2022). 

It is speculated that certain elements – in particular quartz crystals, limestone, iron oxide and magnetite deposits – are able to capture the emotional “energy” that is released during, for example, a violent death.  Quartz has been consistently scientifically proven to absorb and amplify circuitry (like the microprocessors in your watch or cell phone) (Danielson, 2014). Perhaps such an element shaped by the interplay of atomic and electrical forces creates a primitive recording mechanism, a “variation of a digital crystal [containing] imprints of extreme emotional terror” (Kneale, 1972).

Studies in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Minnesota-Winona hypothesize that geological and hydrological attributes of an environment could facilitate the manifestation of paranormal activity.  Weather patterns, too, were speculated to “influence the storage and retrieval of place memory” (Danielson, 2014).  Interestingly their 2014 study indicated that haunted locations were 53% more likely to be “within suitable proximity to faults” and that limestone “had the highest positive correlation with the haunted location,” suggesting some validity to what paranormal researchers have speculated for decades.

By this point, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that the iron atomic particles making up a slab of stone could have the same effect a primitive tape recorder, essentially “recording” an electrically-charged event and then playing it back under the right conditions. “Iron is the best metal we have for creating naturally-occurring magnetic fields,” writes author and researcher of consciousness David Wilcock (2012). The stone particles inherent in the architecture of a building could cause a “haunting” because the iron in stone acts like a sort of magnetic tape, and the energy of that environment acts like a kind of energy reservoir that can be stored and later “accessed” by the human brain (Hill, 2017).

It’s worth noting that not all residual hauntings are tragic in nature. STT can also account for the most mundane of hauntings, images of what Dr. Barry Taff labels a “bio-holographic animation” which operates on an audio-visual playback mechanism, creating a “holographic display of previously recorded information” (Taff, 2011).  Apparitions merely repeat patterns of past repetitive behavior (walking down hallways, opening doors, whistling in the bathroom) and pose little threat to those who encounter them (albeit initial fright or annoyance) (Fitzgerald/Pari, 2009).

But how do we account for individuals who are sensitive to interpreting this energy and others who are not?  If you have ever traveled to an old castle or even walked into a room where an argument had occurred and noticed that something didn’t feel right – that the energy of the room was heavy, it just “felt off” – you are likely considered “sensitive” in the paranormal community. Indeed, some environments seem to be “charged with the energy of human consciousness” and can “infect” certain individuals who are sensitive to such energy (Taff, 2011).  Such people, writes Dr. Barry Taff, “activate and facilitate a three-dimensional reconstruction and projection of what came before” (2011). 

In other words, certain sensitive people can “pick up” on the history of the environment; the environment isn’t necessarily projecting anything, but a sensitive person “tunes in” and experiences the building’s memories.

Stone Tape Theory could potentially be debunked through research conducted by science journalist Mary Roach (among others) who have recreated the feelings of a “sensed presence” in a laboratory. Electro- and geometric energies can be detected by a simple EMF meter which “spikes” when the person holding it claims to be standing in an area which “felt haunted” but was really being artificially manipulated (Roach, 2011). “There is a correlation between geomagnetic activity and mild hallucinations […] It could be that people are physically affected by EMF fields and then applying their own cultural overlay (ghost!) to explain the experience,” she writes in her New York Times-Bestseller Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

The presence of infrasound can also mimic the effects of being in the presence of a so-called “spirit.”  Infrasound can produce physiological reactions in test subjects of feeling cold, nauseated, agitated, or even triggering a fight or flight response (Roach, 2005). In other words, the energy given off by the geology of the environment itself can generate visceral reactions in those who are sensitive to it.  No ghosts required.

Continued experiments in molecular biology, quantum physics, meteorology, and parapsychology can help lend further credibility to those who claim to have experienced unexplained phenomena.  Additionally, we must further explore the abilities of our own bodies and learn how we interpret, perceive and experience the phenomenon. We cannot deny that our blood contains iron, our nervous system creates electricity, our cells contain water (a conductor), and our hearts create magnetic waves. We are made up of the same stuff as the phenomenon, we just don’t yet have the technology to understand its operational properties.

Perhaps we need to rethink our classification of “haunted houses” as not truly haunted at all, but an “environmental recording” of images, sounds, and emotional outbursts of occupants past.  Stone Tape Theory suggests we’re not a body with a soul, but a soul with a body.  We may not yet understand the why of the phenomenon, but technological developments of the last century have certainly put us closer to comprehending the how.

If our atomic structure is in essence made up of photons and atoms which appear simultaneously as particles and waves, this further implies that the human body can exist in a parallel reality as an unconscious energetic duplicate. Under the right conditions, we can not only project our energies into the environment, but the environment in and of itself can support these electromagnetic waves and “playback” our occurrence at random, under certain atmospheric conditions, or in the presence of an intuitive person.

Or not at all. 

The truth of the matter is, the walls do talk.  We’ve only just begun to understand their language. 

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Kjersti Beth
Always on the lookout for the next weirdest thing to add to her obituary, Kjersti (Instagram: @kjee83) goes through life with her heart on her sleeve, her head in the clouds, and her cat on her lap. Her essays and photos have appeared in American Paranormal Magazine (2023), Haunted Magazine (2023), Paranormality Magazine (2023), The Feminine Macabre (2021), and The Quarterly Press: Myths, Fables, and Folklore (2020). Kjersti is also the 1st place winner of the Wisconsin's District 35 State Toastmasters "Tall Tales" Competition. With a foot in both worlds, Kjersti advocates for the continued research of the paranormal and leaving the world a little weirder than you found it.

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