The Soul of Things

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Can an object retain memories and impressions left by a person, environment or event? If so, can these memories and impressions be released onto those who come into contact with the object? The Soul of Things  written by Geologist, William Denton in 1863 attempts to answer these questions and more.


Through research and study Denton concluded that what makes this happen is a radiation of influences. “Great grief, great fear, great gladness, or intense activity of any one or all.” He maintained that the soul is not dependent upon the body, but transcends beyond the body.

“Love, hate, revenge, and even frenzy; all these are thus communicated, and each one thus influenced becomes in turn a center to radiate these influences to those around. When the number affected is large, and the feeling intense, it consumes like a furnace, and transforms into its own nature whatever it comes in contact with. Radiant forces pass from us continually and though they may be unseen, they are by no means unfelt.”

“Houses become so imbued with the influence of people that live in them that sensitive persons can feel that influence as soon as they enter; and if it is unpleasant, they have a feeling of uneasiness, or positive unhappiness, as long as they are subject to it. Many persons feeling this are entirely unaware of its origin and suffer the consequences of their ignorance.”

Denton believed that images were stronger when formed by the light of day. “As light passes through the retina of the eye, images are admitted into the inner chamber of the soul. It seems then that this photographic influence pervades all nature; nor can we say where it stops. It may imprint upon the world around us our features and thus fill nature with photographic impressions of all our actions that are performed in daylight.”

I see Denton’s point. If an incident occurs in the dark of night or in a room with no light source, what image or visual impression is left behind? The imprint left would likely be that of the senses and emotion, not visual.


Denton decided to test an object’s radiant force or “soul” through Psychometry (soul-measurement): The ability to touch an object and receive images from or sense its past. This may include sound, smell, taste, pain and emotion. Psychometry was introduced in 1842 by American professor of physiology, Joseph R. Buchanan. Those who had this ability were called psychometers.

Denton considered his sister, Anne Denton Cridge, to have this ability. “Women are much more susceptible of psychometric impressions than men, probably in the proportion of five to one.”  He placed unopened letters in her hands for which she was able to accurately describe the image of the writer and his surroundings.

As a geologist his experiments with psychometry included quartz, fossils, and other mineral deposits. When placed in the hands of a psychometer the object’s previous location and surrounding environment could be described.  Denton thus concluded that all materials retain an imprinted history. “All past to the psychometer becomes present.”

Denton warned that: “Some forms of insanity may be produced by intense sensitiveness, resulting in the overpowering of the mind by surrounding influences. The individual ceases to be himself, becoming a tool for those influences unconsciously to use. The individual supplying the power, but the influences directing and spending it, instead of the will of the individual. Images are not recognized because they do not originate from his brain, but from the object’s surrounding him. Some manifestations considered to be spiritual come under this head, and may be accounted for in this way.”

“You cannot walk into and out of a room without leaving a portion of your influence in that room, which will continue as long as the bricks and mortar endure. You cannot sit upon a chair but the chair receives from you that which can convey to some sensitive persons the idea of your presence and mental peculiarities. Sensitive persons can and frequently do recognize, and are affected by, without being aware of the source from which it proceeds.”

“Thousands of such experiences might have been recorded, if a feeling of shame had not prevented parties to whom they occurred from making them public. Many persons who have made public statements of what they have thus seen, have been rewarded for their candor by being supposed insane, or suspected of being drunk.”

Denton concluded: “Our researches and discoveries have been made in but a small portion of a great and unexplored domain. The very difficulty we have found, in explaining what has come before us in the course of these experiments, convinces me that we have been but coasting along some headland in an unknown ocean, and that great continents yet lie beyond, to be discovered by future explorers.”