"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Slip in Time

“Time-slips,” the most common name for the alleged experience of “visiting” another period in history, are one of the most intriguing forms of paranormal experiences. Probably the most famous example comes from Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, two English women who, while touring Versailles in 1901, claimed to have briefly seen it as it was at the dawn of the French Revolution.

Assuming time-slips are a genuine psychic adventure, no one has any idea what exactly they are, or what might trigger them. Most people, of course, deny they truly happen at all.

Recorded episodes of time-slips come in varying degrees of credibility. To my mind, one of the most convincing accounts comes from biologist and author Ivan T. Sanderson. Sanderson was rationalist enough to bring a clear-headed, facts-driven approach to his experiences, while remaining open-minded enough to acknowledge that during his life, he saw many things that simply couldn’t be explained.

His time-slip story (related in his book “More ‘Things’”,) has a convincing simplicity that cannot be easily dismissed, particularly as he stated flatly that occult matters had never interested him: “I have only one life to lead (that I know of) and I’ve been far too busy trying to catch up with the more pragmatic facts of it.”

His story took place in Pont Beudet, Haiti some years ago, where he, his wife, and his assistant Frederick G. Allsop were engaged in a biological survey. One evening, the trio were driving down an old dirt road that quickly engulfed the car in mud, leaving them stranded. They attempted to walk back to their home, but after traveling most of the night, they became exhausted. They encountered a car driven by an American doctor, but he was on his way to an urgent case, and had no room for all three of them. He agreed to try to pick them up on his return trip. The three of them grimly slogged on, until Sanderson looked up and suddenly noticed that everything around him was transformed. In the brilliant moonlight, he saw that he was surrounded by houses of various shapes and sizes—and all of them “casting shadows appropriate to their positions.” Their previously dusty road was now muddy, with patches of cobblestones. The homes appeared to be of the medieval or Elizabethan period, and he somehow immediately knew he was in Paris. It was not a static scene, as would be the case in a mirage. He saw the flickering glow of candlelight in some windows, and hanging lanterns were gently swaying, as if in a breeze—a breeze he did not feel. Otherwise, the scene before him appeared utterly real.

While still trying to grasp what he was seeing, his wife, who had been walking behind him, suddenly stopped and let out a gasp. When he asked what was wrong, she was speechless for a moment, but then began describing the precise scene he was experiencing.

At that point, wrote Sanderson, they both had a hard time finding speech. His shock only deepened when his wife blurted, “How did we get to Paris five hundred years ago?”

They continued to examine everything around them—apparently they were in perfect agreement with every detail—but a strange weakness began to descend upon them. Sanderson called to Allsop, who was some distance ahead. They tried to catch up to the assistant, but became so dizzy they both had to sit—on what they both saw as a tall, rough Parisian curbstone. Allsop came back to them and tried to find out what was wrong, but the Sandersons did not know how to answer. Allsop gave each of them a cigarette. Staring into the flame of his lighter somehow brought the Sandersons “back” to reality. When they looked around again, 15th century France had vanished, replaced by the familiar Haitian surroundings.

By the time the doctor had returned and brought them home, it was close to dawn. They were stunned to find their house servants, all of them local residents, had not departed for the night as usual, but had a freshly prepared meal and hot baths waiting for them. The next morning, their housekeeper, Margo, whom Sanderson described as a “’guider’ of tradition,” someone that “stupid, or even sensible” outsiders would call a “priestess,” refused to say how she knew exactly when they would return. He had the impression that she also knew of their very strange experience, but that was never explained, either. Later, however, a young Haitian man told Sanderson, “You saw things, didn’t you? You don’t believe it, but you could always see things if you wanted to.”

That last line has haunted me ever since I first read Sanderson’s book some years ago. Just how much could we all see—or know—if we really wanted to?

[Note:  Here is another account of Sanderson's odd experience.]


  1. Very strange! Had never heard of "time-slips" before.

  2. As an amateur historian, I'd love to experience one of those, though I'd probably try to stay where I found myself. I'd heard of the two ladies 'visiting' Versailles. A short television movie was made of it, and starred Hannah Gordon and the great Wendy Hiller.

    1. Yes! That's the one form of psychic phenomena I'd love to see for myself.

  3. Having been to Haiti I will happily confide to anyone who cared to ask the if this sort of thing could happen anywhere, it is surely there.

  4. It was not in Haiti, but it was a historic location in Northern California where I experienced a time slip. It's a real phenomenon.

    1. Really? I'd love to hear any details, if you have no objection.

  5. Several years ago I read of an incident involving a middle-aged British couple from London in, I believe, the 30's. They went outside a shop to behold a scene of a time many years in the future, in which the streets were filled with strange vehicles which "hummed". While that might conceivably refer to a time just ahead of our own in which electric vehicles are ubiquitous, I remember feeling when I read the account that it referred to a time even farther in the future, but I can't remember any specifics. Is anyone familiar with the event I describe?

    This is a true Time Slip story that happened to my son 17 and my daughter 19, at the time in 2014 in New Jersey. At this time they were living with their mother (my ex) in Fairfield, NJ, and one day they were driving to visit me at my apartment in Lyndhurst, NJ about 14 miles away, they took Rt.46 to Rt.3 to the Rt.21exit, my son was driving his 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, they made this simple trip many times, they were not drinking nor on any type of drugs, my daughter never even believed in anything paranormal at all. As they got off the Rt.21 exit around 5:30 PM (rush hour) and waited to make a left to cross the Nutley/Lyndhurst bridge, the light turned green, they turned and we're now headed west towards the bridge, as soon as the trucks front tires hit the metal grating of the bridge, instantaneously the immediately realized they were now headed the complete opposite direction (East) approximately 3 blocks away from the bridge in Nutley, the both looked at each other and stopped the truck in the middle of the two lane traffic, cars behind began to beep in anger, they were totally befuddled and quickly pulled into the first lot they saw, which was a parking lot for a small Park for baseball and soccer. They both said to each other, what the hell just happened? They knew that in a nano second they somehow were transported a few blocks away in the opposite direction, they then got out and we're just utterly confused, when out if no where a man with a strong British accent asked if everything was OK, I assume since he noticed their total and sheer panic stricken faces! They just said everything is fine because they knew he wouldn't believe them. The later thought that was also odd, but at any rate, they said let's go to dad's and tell him because he will definitely believe us since he's into the paranormal. They came straight over and burst into my apartment muttering you're not gonna believe what just happened to us, so fast I had to say slow down and tell me first, they kept repeating it's so unbelievable but they told me the whole story. I absolutely believed them, the looks on their faces was one I have never ever seen before, they we're completely horrified and really scared! I felt terrible and yet a tad jealous because this never happened to me before. My daughter distinctly said to me I cannot believe this happened to me because I never believed in this kinda stuff until now! So I immediately took them back to the spot and we all tried to recreate exactly what they did hoping I could experience this too, but after several attempts nothing unusual happened. When we got back to my apartment I Googled all sorts of paranormal things linked to that bridge but I could find nothing. So if anyone that is reading this happened to see a white Jeep Cherokee disappear that summer day in 2014, please contact me at: frankfresh@mail.com. This is a completely true story, contact me if you have had a similar event occur to you, or if you have any questions about this brief time slip incident. Frank Fresh of Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

  7. I am very fascinated with the time slip phenomena. I believe it does happen to people, but I also believe it is rare. I'd like to experience that myself.


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