Adventures in the Fine Art of Changing the Past
By Cynthia Sue Larson
FIRST PRESENTED AT THE TWENTY-THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON THE STUDY OF SHAMANISM AND ALTERNATIVE MODES OF HEALING
Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, California
September 2 - 4, 2006
Conference Coordinator and Editor
University of California, Berkeley
© Cynthia Sue
RETROCAUSAL REALITY SHIFTING:
ADVENTURES IN THE FINE ART OF CHANGING THE PAST
Retrocausality, sometimes referred to as 'backwards time
causality' or 'reverse time causality' is defined as the future influencing
the past, with effects preceding causes. This view adopts a symmetrical
treatment of time which allows causal movement in two directions, rather
than only from past to future. Physicists Stephen Hawking and Thomas
Hertog's concept of a 'top down cosmology' views the universe as having
begun in every possible way, with the most probable pasts being determined
right now. In contrast with the assumption that time must always flow in
one direction from past to future, this new
cosmological model depends on
the retrocausality idea that effects can precede causes on all levels of
reality, not just in the quantum realm.
The'double standard fallacy' of thinking about and treating the past and
future differently is but "a projection of our own temporal asymmetry." 
One-directional causality leads us to feel hope for the future, but not for
the past. Rather than viewing time from a narrowly constrained point of
view, theoretical physicists are now adopting the Archimedean 'view from
nowhen' to better comprehend how two-directional causality easily resolves
long-standing paradoxical problems in quantum mechanics. 
We find a large body of evidence for retrocausality, from recent research
results as well as from thousands of years of anecdotal evidence describing
incidents in which cause has followed effect. Through experimental studies
we see that people can perceive future events before they occur, as well as
influence events that have already occurred in the past. Historical
accounts describe how people often experience time-reversed phenomena, such
as: precognitive dreams, miraculous spontaneous healings, manifestations,
synchronicities, meeting their future selves, and recalling memories of
past lives from future times.
Concerns about the possibility of contradictory causal loops, in which it
might be possible to undermine one's own existence if one's ancestors are
harmed, appear to be unfounded.
RETROCAUSALITY THEORIES & EXPERIMENTS
The concept of retrocausality plays a prominent role in developing a
unified 'Theory of Everything' which describes everything from the largest
cosmological bodies to the smallest quantum
particles/waves through all
time.  The concept of retrocausality first sprang into public view
following discoveries in the field of quantum physics in the 1940s.
Retrocausality was acknowledged as part of the theoretical concept of
bi-causality, which appeared necessary in order for the universe to
function as elegantly as it tends to operate.  Physicists are interested
in finding graceful theories that describe space and time consistently and
symmetrically, with a minimum of special requirements to accommodate when
or where a given mechanism operates. The quest for symmetry was such that
eventually physicists noted the long-standing bias toward assuming a
one-way arrow of time from past causes to future effects.
One of the strongest objections to backward causation is that it might
include 'paradoxical' or contradictory causal loops. Such concerns appear
unfounded upon closer examination. Oxford philosopher Michael Dummett
established logical requirements for a process by which reverse causality
could transpire, which philosopher Huw Price amended so that when A causes
E, it can be possible to detect whether the event E occurs before the time
that event A occurs:
"... what is crucial is not merely that E should be detectable, but that
it should be detectable
without disturbing the circumstances under
which A is claimed to cause E." 
The very nature of quantum mechanics is such that these requirements can be
easily met, since, for example, if the state of a photon is influenced by
the next polarizing filter it encounters, the only way to tell for sure
whether the state of polarization in the future affected the photon in the
past is to put another polarizer in the path of the photon, before it gets
to the future polarizer in question. This automatically means that if we do
that, the future polarizer is no longer the very next polarizer... so there
is no problem with contradiction.  The phrase "a watched pot never
boils" could then be said to apply to the field of retrocausality, where
success depends upon allowing events to transpire undisturbed by those
wishing to observe what's going on.
The experimental science of retrocausality made a significant leap forward
in 1976 when German-born parapsychologist Helmut Schmidt conducted an
experiment that focused on peoples' abilities to influence previously
generated random numbers.  A long sequence of previously recorded
numbers ranging from one to four was stored on a paper punch tape which was
read by an electromechanical paper tape reader which would light one of
four lamps after the test subject pressed a button, working with the
instructions to make the number four lamp light with increased frequency.
Whereas the sequence of numbers on the tape outside the range of the
subject's influence had the predicted equal distribution of numbers, the
test subjects significantly increased the number of times lamp number four
was lit, indicating they had retroactively influenced the outcome. Schmidt
published results from further retrocausality experiments in 1993 with
theoretical physicist Henry Stapp, working with subjects who were able to
retroactively influence the rate of decay of radioactive isotopes.
Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp presented an explanation for what had
happened in Schmidt's experiments, proposing that human consciousness had
interacted with the numbers in such a way that they altered the past when
the numbers were first recorded.
"... it would appear that in certain experimental situations willful
human acts, selected by
pseudorandom numbers generated at one time, can shift, relative to the
randomness predicted by
normal quantum theory, the timings of radioactive decays that were detected
and recorded months
earlier on floppy discs, but that were not observed at that time by any
human observer." 
'Handshake' Between the Future and the Past
Physicist John Cramer published a transactional interpretation of quantum
mechanics in 1986 , which described a two-way contract between the
future and the past in a non-local fashion. While we normally observe
retarded waves that move outward away from emitters in a past-to-future
causality direction in much the same way as ripples move away from a pebble
tossed into a pond, Cramer described that there also exist advanced waves
which transfer energy, momentum and other information from the future to
The symmetrical beauty of Cramer's transactional interpretation is that it
most elegantly provides meaning for quantum equations in such a way that
can be confirmed by observing the polarization and behavior of entangled
pairs of quantum particles. Cramer's use of retrocausality at the quantum
(very, very small) level of reality was a giant step forward for
In 1998, physicist Fred Alan Wolf offered a quantum physical resolution for
Libet's "delay and antedating" hypothesis/paradox, in order to explain
certain temporal anomalies that Libet had noted in which humans had been
shown to physically respond to external stimuli before their brains had
time to register awareness of those events. 
TOP DOWN COSMOLOGY
The theory of "top down cosmology" presented by physicists Stephen Hawking
and Thomas Hertog describes how the universe can be viewed as having had no
single unique beginning, but that it actually began in every possible way.
 Hawking and Hertog suggest that countless alternative worlds existed
at the time of the creation of the universe, meaning that we can now
picture the universe in its first moments as a superposition of all
possibilities, something like watching an infinite number of movies playing
simultaneously. Referring to quantum experiments that have consistently
shown how quantum particles exist in both wave and particle form,
essentially covering all possible paths, Hertog clarifies:
"Quantum mechanics forbids a single history" 
When we consider how only a small number of possibilities could have
blended together to create this universe, it's much easier to understand
how it can be that we live in a world that seems so statistically unlikely.
Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose determined through analysis of entropy's
relation to probability that our universe is uniquely special to the
mind-boggling point that it's one in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of
123.  The relative smoothness of our universe in its earliest days was
such that it is extraordinarily exceptional, as entropy was statistically
at an extremely low point. This gives us a sense of normalcy of things
tending to move outward, like ripples on a pond moving outward in
concentric circles around the place where something entered or exited the
water, or like smoke particles dissipating into the air.
Physicists look forward to testing the top down cosmology theory by seeking
trace elements of other possible realities, which this theory expects to
find built right into our universe, as some alternative universes are
expected to have left their imprint behind on ours. According to top down
cosmology, the present selects the past, and the questions we ask right now
are already making a significant difference in the various alternate
histories in our past. This top down view helps explain why many of the
so-called constants of nature are perfectly tuned to precisely what's
required for life to exist here on Earth. By looking back to the past with
the conditions we require now, the universe can most easily select the
histories that best lead up to this present situation.
PREMONITIONS AS COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FUTURE
It's not only entirely possible, but it seems highly likely that many
intuitive hunches and insights come from our future selves, who with 20:20
hindsight enable us to avert disaster. Institute of Noetic Sciences
laboratory director Dean Radin has conducted numerous experiments that
clearly establish the existence of presentience, working with experimental
subjects who consistently show physiologically measurable responses in
advance of viewing emotionally charged images. The significance of the
research Radin has conducted and reports is worth taking a moment to fully
"When you step back from the details of these studies, what you find is
a spectacular body of
converging evidence indicating that our understanding of time is seriously
studies mean that some aspect of our minds can
perceive the future. Not infer the future, or
anticipate the future, or
figure out the future. But actually perceive it."
We refer to "premonitions" without concern that another way to consider
these previews of the future is as our future selves taking an active role
in sending information back to the past. Indeed, many of the seemingly
strange quantum behaviors such as Schrödinger's cat , whose life
or death seems impossible to determine with certainty until such time as it
is actually observed, and Bell's Theorem, which presents the nonlocal
behavior that Albert Einstein referred to as "spooky action at a distance"
become much more comprehensible. From a retrocausal standpoint,
Schrödinger's cat is alive or it is dead, even when nobody looks. The
observer effect then becomes a matter of one's future viewpoint influencing
what has already transpired.
I have felt some premonitions with tremendous clarity, complete with sounds
and sensations... that it was as if I had already lived through an
experience before. On one especially memorable occasion, my boyfriend began
to park his car at a corner of the block across the street from my
apartment and I got a clear and certain sense that there would be a
terrible crash at this precise location. "You've got to move your car away
from here," I insisted. I was relieved when he moved his car, and yet
saddened to later hear the sound of a terrible crash from that parking spot
a while later from my upstairs room facing the street below. 
I look back on this premonition as communication from my future... from a
possible future in which my boyfriend's car actually crashed, and an
experience of knowing that I could make a choice in present time that would
redirect my future to a different path. While it was most unfortunate that
another car was damaged, the fact that it was damaged provided me with
information that I had correctly perceived the future.
We can think of the relationship between premonition and retrocausality in
terms of Cramer's transactional interpretation of quantum physics, in which
there is a kind of hand-shake between future and past, with an "offer" wave
meeting its "echo." The closer the attunement and alignment between future
and past, the more clearly we may expect to encounter situations in which
the past has been altered by the future.
MANIFESTATION, SYNCHRONICITY AND SPONTANEOUS HEALINGS
Because time and space are so closely connected, to the point that there is
a word and a concept for both together, "the spacetime continuum," we can
also expect that many cases of manifestation, synchronicity and spontaneous
healing can be considered to also be cases of retrocausality. When we see a
parking space open up when we need one, when a cancerous tumor goes away,
when someone calls who we haven't heard from in years but were just
thinking of, we have engaged a future end point in a way that has
influenced the past. Our intentions act as targets for the future we wish
to invoke, and this desired future immediately begins working on changing
both our present and our past.
Physicists are now pointing out that the very questions we ask in this
moment have the power to shape our past. Taking this theoretical concept
into a practical more mundane context, these ideas support the notion that
we can miraculously observe physical changes as a direct result of our
The director of research at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology,
William Braud, has reviewed hundreds of experiments that examine a wide
range of retrocausal phenomena, such as mental influence of previously
generated random numbers, selecting which picture targets will be selected
in the future, and being aware of other events that have yet to have
occurred. Braud points out that there exist strong theoretical rationales
for and an ever-increasing body of empirical evidence consistent with the
notion that our intentions can have direct, observable influences on the
"A thorough report of several hundred instances of 'spontaneous remission'
cancer is available. Is it possible that at least some
of these spontaneous remissions are the
result of time-displaced
healing intentions on the part of patients, their loved ones, or health
Indeed, this appears to be true. Studies conducted to determine the
effectiveness of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer for patients with
a bloodstream infection have found that such intercession was associated
with a shorter hospital stay for the prayer recipients and reduced physical
MEETING MY FUTURE SELF
I've experienced direct communication from my future self. On an otherwise
typical evening in 1978, I was amazed to vividly experience a dream of an
older version of myself stepping out of my mirrored closet and into my
room.  What happened next has intrigued and puzzled me for decades.
That shimmering older version of me spoke some soothing words to me as she
moved toward my roll top desk where she opened the lower left drawer and
retrieved some papers. I felt her love for me, and I spoke aloud... asking
her about why she had come and what she was doing... but mostly I was just
amazed to see her. Her wise, poised, confidence contrasted strongly with my
shy, awkward, teenage nervousness. The next morning, I was shocked to see
that the first letters I'd ever received from my high school sweetheart
were missing from my desk.
I had a distinct impression of being inspired by my future self one day in
November 2000 to spend lunch hour with my daughters while they were in
grade school. "You'll be glad you did," she said, and she was right. My
memories of having communicated with my future self give my life a sense of
purpose, as I am inspired by knowing what I will later care about and what
will mean the most to me. Messages I've gleaned from my possible future
selves continue to provide me with tremendous inspiration, and a clear
sense of my ability to positively influence both the future and the
The implication of retrocausality on a cosmic scale is that each of
us is continually engaged in the creation of this present moment by
negotiating paths forward to our possible futures and back toward our
possible pasts. Considerations of the past and the future present us with a
dazzling array of alternate universes, as some of the world's most renowned
physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, seek out firm physical evidence to
confirm the reality of those other possibilities. With new models for
understanding how the future can affect the past, it becomes clear that the
various alternate histories of the universe that have already occurred
depend on the exact questions we ask right now.
On a more personal level, retrocausality encourages us to redefine our
sphere of influence. We may begin to hold as much hope for a positive
history as we do for a positive future, knowing we are capable of
At a recent symposium of physicists assembled to discuss retrocausality,
physicist Daniel Sheehan of the University of San Diego commented, "To say
that it's impossible for the future to influence the past is to deny half
of the predictions of the laws of physics."  Indeed, as physicists
consider the possibility of time being as symmetrical as space, we are
reaching a point at which it becomes increasingly evident that we have a
great deal more ability to influence historical events than most of us have
ever imagined possible. It will be up to us to learn how best to ask the
questions that provide us with the healthiest future and the healthiest
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