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TALES FROM THE PAST; Flash back A Christmas Vision.

Byline: Tom Slemen

ONE of the most neglected areas of psychology is the subject of visions.

Most psychologists would class visions as hallucinations, yet the majority of people who experience a vision are of perfectly sound mind.

We all have hallucinatory impressions from time to time in the hypnagogic state - that period of drowsiness just before we fall asleep, when we may hear phantom music and voices, or see flashes of odd images.

We may also occasionally experience transcendental sensations, images and sounds in the hypnopompic state - that surreal period between sleeping and waking, when we emerge from unconsciousness but do not open our eyes straight away.

A vision, however, differs from hallucinations and dreams because of its clarity, and they feature in most of the world's religions, where they are always the medium of a prophecy.

In secular life, here in our neck of the woods, everyday people have reported visions to me, and here are a few of them.

On Christmas Eve, 1955, a young Dovecot housewife named Harriet was shopping in Bunney's, that long-vanished emporium that stood on the corner of Whitechapel and Church Street. It was a Saturday, and being Christmas Eve, chaos was the order of the day.

That thin veneer of civilization had been stripped away by now, and Harriet felt as if she was in a rugby match as she fought her way through the scrums of ruthless shoppers just to get out into the fresh wintry air. Someone shouted that the store was closing soon and there followed a crescendo of panic.

Harriet got onto Church Street with the last of the shopping done now, and trudged through the snow of Paradise Street feeling a bit faint. To her right, in mid air, a circle of light appeared, and within it smiled the cherubic face of what looked like a one-year-old girl with pink bows in her curly golden hair.

The circle widened, and now Harriet could see that the little girl had a pink cardigan with the letter N on one side. Then the strange spectacle vanished.

When she got home, Harriet told her husband and mother about the ghostly image, and they all said it had been caused by her being flustered by the last minute shopping slog, but Harriet thought there was more to it than that.

In January 1956 she discovered she was pregnant, even though she had been told by several specialists that she would never have children. Bella was born in August of that year with a head of blonde hair - inherited from her grandfather because her parents had dark hair.

When she was one and a half, Harriet's grandmother, Doris, visited and presented her with a pink cardigan she had knitted - with a letter N on one side, because Doris had thought the child had been called Nelly. Harriet saw the funny side and put the cardigan on Bella anyway, and then suddenly remembered the Christmas Eve vision on Paradise Street, for Bella now had two pink bows in her curly golden hair and was wearing the exact same pink cardigan.

A similar thing happened in the 1960s when a woman in her 40s named Maureen was praying in St Anthony's Church on Scotland Road. Maureen had tried for many years to have children and had now given up, but during an afternoon visit to her church she saw the stained-glass face of the Virgin Mary move, and heard the words: "You shall have a child, Maureen."

Maureen later became pregnant and believes she witnessed a vision.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2013
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