___________________________________________________A Lesson in PSI : PSI Basics and How it Relates to the Mother Fandom
Psychic power is a prevalent force in the Mother/Earthbound series. It is the main constituent in all three games, but it has come to my attention that not much is known about it among the fandom, other than how players can best use it to destroy swarms of crows, hippies, and other-worldly bosses. Psychic phenomenon, or Psi, is a very real concept, and has been used and studied for centuries-- increasingly so since the start of the 20th century. In this essay I will explain the very basics of what Psi is and how it works.What is Psi?
Psi is a term used to describe and classify different areas of psychic ability. Technically speaking, Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and looks sort of like a three-pronged Y or a trident. The word literally means "breath" or "soul," which makes sense considering that our psychic ability comes from within us. By now, you're probably thinking about the fact that the Mother games included Greek letters with their Psi attacks (ie. PK Rockin alpha, beta, gamma, etc).
The term Psi, in relation to psychics and the study of them, was coined in the 1930's by a man named J.B. Rhine, who had a strong interest in psychic ability and was one of the driving forces behind the development of the lesser-known field of science, parapsychology. His experiments, published works, and contributions to research and education in this field have helped launch it and its subjects into the future.What's the difference between Psi and PK?
The simple answer is, there is no difference! While these terms are not exactly interchangeable, one does seem to beget the other. Psi is actually a broad category of paranormal science. Some people expand its meaning to include strange, unexplained events such as alien abductions and UFO sightings, but to be more accurate, Psi is just an encompassing term for both PK and ESP.PK and ESP?
PK is psychokinesis-- literally, "movement with the mind." In the past it has also been referred to as telekinesis, or TK. They are both the same idea: the ability to move things at a distance with the power of your mind alone (think of spoon-bending). Most of the offensive psychic attacks in the Mother games are forms of PK, but greatly exaggerated. It is highly unlikely that any normal person with psychic ability, however talented, could shoot fire or cause earthquakes.
ESP is extrasensory perception, or the ability to "know" or receive information by some means other than the five senses. Indeed we have more than just the five senses we learned about in school (some experts think we have well over twenty!). You are probably familiar with the term "sixth sense," and that is related to our psychic abilities. Ninten gives us a great example of ESP in Mother 1, with his use of telepathy. Telepathy is actually one of the sub-categories of ESP, along with clairvoyance (and the other 'clairs,' which I will explain in a moment), and precognition or foreknowledge-- knowing something before it happens.
Perhaps an easier way to think about ESP and PK is to imagine them in terms of receiving and transmitting messages. People who use ESP are receivers-- they bring information in-- and people who use PK are transmitters-- they send energy out.
As I have already said, the games do exaggerate things a bit, not that this is bad. Their outlandish, fantastical qualities are part of what we enjoy about them. But let me make one thing clear...PSI AND MAGIC ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!
The difference? Magic is fantasy, parlor tricks, and illusions. Psi is something we can really tap into and experience. Am I saying that there are some people out there who can actually use PK Fire? Of course not. That is all part of the fantasy element of the games, but however outlandish they are, there is some very real knowledge being put to work.How does Psi work?
Very much like a lot of other matter in our universe. It is all energy and vibrations, and we are subject to them constantly, whether or not we realize it. Have you ever been somewhere and gotten a terrible feeling or a "bad vibe"? Or maybe you were around someone once, who never said anything or acted out in any way, but you could just tell
they were in a bad mood. That's your psychic "sixth sense" or intuition at work. But how? The mental vibrations you were receiving. There are many varieties of mental matter and each has its own appropriate vibration. Our bodies are constantly emanating waves of energy, either from metabolic activities or from our own thoughts and mood swings.
Everything comes to us by means of vibrations-- light, color, and sound, for example. Rays of light or waves of sound vibrate and cause us to hear or to see, but we are also able to see and hear with our psychic senses as well (clairvoyance and clairaudience). Some of these rays or waves vibrate at levels much higher or lower than our eyes and ears can detect, such as ultraviolet light and supersonic sound. We may not be able to detect them, but they still exist. We can use machines to help us experience them. There is no need to use a machine to catch the higher, finer vibrations of the astral plane, though! One simply needs to learn how to tune into them properly.
Remember, the First Law of Thermodynamics (which Jeff could probably recite in his sleep): energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only change form, and everything, including our own thoughts, has energy. 1973 Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Josephson stated that some people with psychic abilities may be able to "direct random energy on subatomic levels." He has written articles about parapsychology and telepathy, which were subject to harsh criticism by colleagues, yet he believes that quantum physics may, in the future, be able to tell us more about the workings of Psi.
It is true that some people are born naturally gifted psychics, such as the characters in the Mother games, and they tend to be more skillful with it than others, but we can all learn to develop and utilize Psi. There are many different ways of receiving information psychically. Understanding these methods and identifying which one is your strongest can really be beneficial.The Four 'Clairs'
Most of you are probably familiar with clairvoyance (literally "clear vision"), which is a way of seeing with more than just your eyes; but there other ways of receiving information, and they are called: clairaudience, claircognizance, and clairsentience. Each of the 'clairs' provides us with information in a certain way, sort of like tuning in to a different television or radio channel.
Clairvoyance: also called "second sight." It can be precognitive (visions of the future) or retrocognitive (visions from the past). Because it is associated with sight, the psychic information received by a clairvoyant comes in the form of images, symbols, omens and oracles. Clairvoyants tend to be drawn to the visual arts, fashion design, and other such like-minded professions.Fun fact!
Many people do not dream in color. Those that do, especially if it is vibrant, lifelike color, may have some natural talent in clairvoyance. What about you?
Clairaudience: psychic hearing, which operates outside our normal range (or what we can usually hear with our ears). People who are clairaudient may be sensitive to loud sounds and avoid places that most people tend to enjoy (ie. rock concerts), or they may hear sounds in their ear that cannot be attributed to any disease process, mental or physical.
It should be noted that hearing voices through clairaudience is not the same as hearing voices as part of a mental disease, such as in schizophrenia. Schizophrenics suffer from delusions and auditory hallucinations that are destructive and malevolent ("the voices are telling me to kill you" and that sort of thing), and will often display very bizarre behavior. Clairaudients receive real, beneficial information, not part of a hallucinatory process.
Claircognizance: also called "clear knowing." It comes to its recipient as a sudden thought or idea, as if they all of a sudden know something. Unlike the previous two 'clairs,' it does not come in the form of a vision, image, or sound. It is as if a thought has suddenly popped into your head, completely unrelated to whatever you may have been thinking about or doing at the time. I have experienced claircognizance several times in my life. It is always very striking, so pay close attention if anything like this happens to come your way.
People who are claircognizant tend to be logical, the type that needs to analyze everything in every situation, and they may be very inventive and hard-working. Although Jeff had no Psi abilities in Earthbound, he fits this description exceptionally well and may have great talent in claircognizance!
Clairsentience: a type of psychic "feeling." You may have heard of people who are empaths and can absorb emotional energies and vibrations, thus taking on the feelings of others. They are incredibly sensitive to suffering and this may manifest itself physically-- in other words, they may start to feel pain in their bodies just from being around people who are suffering emotionally. Many clairsentients can learn about your emotions by holding an object that belongs to you. Lucas is likely very clairsentient, and his segment of the series seems to focus a lot on emotional burdens. There are a lot of recurring scenes in Mother 3 that involve finding and touching objects, and gleaning some sort of information from them, including the seven Needles.
On another note, clairsentients can be highly sensitive to certain waves of light, such as fluorescent lighting, and may become dizzy, tired, or develop headaches from them.What else is there to know about Psi and psychics?
Well, a lot, really. Much more than I'm going to say here, so if you are interested you can look into it on your own time, but here are a few more things to think about...
Not all psychics receive information in the same way, as you can already tell. Being more proficient in one 'clair' and less in another is just like being good at art, but terrible at math. And, on that same note, being skilled with your psychic abilities is no different than being a good doctor, or a good chef, a good painter, and so on. It is something you can learn, practice, become better at, but certainly does not make you perfect. But wait! Don't psychics know EVERYTHING?
Absolutely not. If you knew everything, that would make you omniscient (all-knowing), and, therefore, not human. Psychics are just as human as anybody else. They make mistakes, they have good days and bad days, and they're sometimes wrong-- same as you and me. The ability is dependent upon how the person is feeling, whether they are healthy or ill, sleepy or awake, sober or inebriated, and so on. Would you care to have a doctor operate on you if he is running on two hours of sleep, or a good night's rest? The same idea applies here.
When it comes to predicting the future, keep in mind that time is not stagnant. We all have free will, the ability to shape our destinies, and, as we all know, our life changes in the most unique ways. Psychics can "see" or "feel" something happening in the future, but the future is never set in stone, and it is up to you whether to take any advice they offer you.
Keep in mind that everything we experience is processed through our own personal filter. Not everyone views things the same, and that goes for psychics, too.
Another common thought is that psychics ought to use their gift to get ahead-- predict lottery numbers, the outcome of cards in a gambling game, and so on. But to do this is immoral. Using your talent for selfish, personal gain will ultimately result in a loss of the gift. Can Psi be helpful in your life? Most definitely, and developing it will open up so many doors, but be mindful of it and use it to help others, not cheat the system. Think of it this way: would you rather someone with great psychic talent be more like Lucas or Porky? That's what I thought.
Are there fakes out there? Certainly, and they give those with real talent a bad name. They are no different than those online scams looking to get your money and credit card numbers. Most often, a fake will tell you things you want to hear, rather than the things you need
And now, to relate some of this back to the fandom...Other Psi-related process seen in Motherbesides the attack sets, of course...
-Connections to the Astral Plane or to Spirits:
seen in both Mother 1, where Ninten meets with Maria, later revealed to be already dead; and in Mother 3, where Lucas interacts with the spirit of his deceased mother.
-Astral Projection (Out-of-Body Experience):
a very memorable theme from Mother 2/Earthbound, in which Ness passes out and his spirit enters the realm of Magicant. Also may be related to events at the end, where Dr. Andonuts puts the Chosen Four's souls into the robots.
based on the idea that our thoughts, actions, and events leave impressions on objects. It can be a way of learning about someone or uncovering past truths simply by holding an object. A relation to this idea is seen with the Egg of Light in Mother 3, which contains memories and helps the characters to remember themselves. This idea may also be related to retrocognition.
receiving knowledge of an event before it happens. The most notable occurrence is in Mother 3, when Wess and Alec are visited by the late Hinawa in a dream, and told to pile up hay at the bottom of a cliff-- a move that later saves Lucas's life.
-Uses of Clairvoyance and Clairaudience:
seen in Mother 3, where Lucas has visions of his mother. At the end of the game, her voice is heard by Claus.
a psychic perception of the emotional energy field surrounding people. There is no clear mention of auras in the games, but the Magypsies in Mother 3 say that they feel very strong Psi from Lucas and Claus, which suggests they may be able to see auras.
teleportation of an object, or the paranormal transference of an object from one place to another. Likely related to the teleport move used in Mother 1 and 2. This idea is sometimes associated with poltergeist activity.
-Biofield Energy Healing:
healing by channeling a form of energy. Unlike other forms of psychic healing, this is more of a hands-off approach. A similar idea is seen in all three games.
-Telepathy and Thought-Transference:
used in Mother 1 by Ninten, and also used in Mother 2 by Paula to contact the other protagonists. Porky also mentions it briefly at the end of the game. Telepathy does not appear to play a major role in Mother 3, though Lucas seems able to read animals' thoughts.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the examples of Psi in the Mother games, nor are they completely accurate representations of the real thing. I just picked out examples that are most easily remembered and relatable, which will hopefully make things clearer for the reader.
Finally, you may be wondering how proficient your Psi is. Children tend to be more adept at sensing different things, but can be treated unfairly or told not to believe in these abilities when they share them with others. The way we think and act affects how open we are to receiving information from sources outside our usual five senses. Below is a short, easy quiz containing yes-or-no questions. Answer them truthfully, never lie or kid yourself about any of the answers because doing so will certainly not make them a reality. If you are unsure about a question, the answer is probably no.
1. Do you see shadowy figures at night?
2. When the phone rings, do you "know" who is on the other end?
3. Do you have dreams that come true?
4. Are you a good judge of character?
5. Do you sometimes get "bad vibes" in crowded places?
6. Do you see auras or color fields around other people?
7. Are you easily affected by the moon or planetary changes?
8. Do you have an exceptionally good sense of direction?
9. Can you tell if someone is lying or being untruthful?
10. Are you good at finding things that are lost or hidden?
11. Do you have a lot of coincidences occurring in your daily life?
12. Have you ever heard voices when no one is in the room with you?
If you answered yes to 7 or more questions, you could have very strong Psi abilities. But that you will have to discover on your own. I encourage you to learn more on the subject if you are truly interested, to check out my sources list below, and perform some of your own research. You have nothing to lose and a whole world of enlightenment to gain.
It is my hope that this essay has both educated you on Psi and encouraged you to look at the Mother series in a whole new light.
"Clairvoyance and Occult Powers" by Swami Panchadasi
"The Human Aura, Astral Colors and Thought-Forms" by Swami Panchadasi
"The Astral Plane, Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and Phenomenon" by C. W. Leadbeater
"Clairvoyance" by C.W. LeadbeaterPsychic abilities quiz and other information obtained from:
"Psychic Intelligence" by Terry and Linda Jamison