Recently on my twitter I posted a poll asking people to share what age they were when they first experienced something paranormal, strange, fortean, or otherwise unexplained. The poll got over 600 votes and nearly 90 responses. Many people shared fascinating and often touching stories from their childhood. You can read through the responses here: poll.
I tallied up as many of these responses as I could to get a sense for what age was most common as the starting point for peoples’ forays into the world of the weird. Many people knew the exact age, but there were also a number of responses between two years (like between age 3-4 or 8-9 for example). I first tallied up the former group then did a second count adding the responses from people who with an age range of up to two years. I did not include the responses from people who had a more vague idea of their age to keep the data a bit more reliable, but their stories are all valuable and worthy of being considered.
The reason I am sticking primarily to exact (or almost exact) ages is to see how the results show up with an ancient astrological technique known as Annual Profections. This technique is actually quite straight-foward: basically all twelve houses of one’s natal chart are used as a sort of clock throughout one’s life. When you are born, your 1st house of body/mind/personal adventures is activated. When you turn one year old, your 2nd house of personal belongings is activated. This is around when we start to say “MINE”. When you turn age two, your 3rd house of short trips is activated, and this is often when we all start learning how to walk around. Once you get to age 12, the cycle starts up again with house one being activated once again, and it continues on from there.
I was very curious to see what annual profection everyone was in when they had their very first experience with something paranormal or mysterious because I wanted to see if this Hellenistic technique could provide insight regarding the major themes at play during these formative encounters. The results were striking!
The range of ages given in the responses to my poll was between zero and twenty six. Instead of going over the age in this article we’re going to focus instead on the HOUSE activated. So looking at the pie chart above, we can see that house “5” has the highest number with 18.6%. This is not age five, but house five. So that includes ages 4 and 16. If you are like me and benefit from having a handy chart that lists what ages are attributed to each activated profection house, you can see that here.
The fifth house in astrology is related to play, creativity, children, games, performance, and pleasure of all kinds. I was very surprised to see this house be the most popular for first paranormal experiences because at first glance it doesn’t seem like its significations are all that related to fortean mysteries. Data is data however, so what can we learn here?
Several of the responses from age four and sixteen – the two 5th house profection years represented in this set of data – involved stories that were more lighthearted and even playful. My own experience falls into this category. When I was four years old I was playing in the woods behind my grandparents house and accidentally seemed to end up bilocating to a mountainous region that did not exist behind my grandparents suburban house. Another response from someone who was sixteen was hanging out with their friends when the group saw, “two expansive columns of green light coming out of the mining lake.” The vast majority of the responses for this profection year were from people who were four, so I wonder if “The Phenomena” is fond of play, and that’s why children in particular seem much more likely to experience it.
The next highest number of experiences seemed to occur with people who were in 4th house profection years. This result was not as surprising to me because this house is related to the land (nature and land spirits) as well as the end of life (human spirits). This profection year includes responses from people who were age three and fifteen. Stories from these years include: reincarnation, out of body experiences, and seeing a bright ball of light outside. The story from this profection year that most floored me was from @Pentecost2Pagan on twitter: “I distinctly remember a face in my bedroom window that looked like the Green Man.” How’s that for a nature spirit experience occurring during a year activating the land!?
The next most common distribution occurred between first and seventh house years. This is significant because they are two of the most important houses in a chart. The first house, as mentioned earlier, has the most to do with YOU – your body, mind, and anything dealing with you personally, and your physical embodied vessel through space-time. The seventh house is directly opposite to the first, and therefore deals with the “other” – people you have any sort of one-on-one dealings with. The ages represented in first house years are zero, twelve, and twenty four. Experiences shared from these ages include: initiation into magical orders that acted as the catalyst for strange encounters, precognitive dreams, and out of body experiences.
Now here’s something that really surprised me about these results: You may have noticed in the above pie chart that there are no results for 12th house profection years. That’s because out of nearly ninety different responses, not a single person shared an experience from a 12th house year (age 11 and 23). The twelfth house in astrology is traditionally attributed to seclusion, self undoing, hidden enemies, and “bad spirit”. I had expected there to be some responses from these years because of the 12th’s association with “hidden” things and the phenomena seems to often be just that. That was not at all the case however! Even when I added the responses from people who had a range of two years, still not a single one of them included these ages. Does that mean no one ever experiences weird stuff during age 11, 23, 35, and so on? Probably not, but it apparently isn’t nearly as common. Much more to learn there!
Overall, the most common time for people to have their first encounter with The Unexplained seems to be between zero and five years old, especially around age four. This could be due to the playful nature of the phenomena (5th house year) or perhaps due to the emphasis on nature/human/land spirits (4th house year). The least common ages to first encounter something mysterious seems to be after age sixteen, especially rare for ages eleven and twenty three (12th house “unseen” years) as well as 10th house years (age nine and twenty one). I think it’s particularly telling that 10th house (public and reputation) years are strikingly underrepresented as these experiences are often shushed or otherwise encouraged to be kept private. Rarely are young people told to be public about their unusual experiences. The 10th house is also opposite the 4th house of privacy and home, and we can see that 4th house ages three and fifteen have an abundance of stories.
What do you think of the data? How old were you when you first experienced something strange? Are you one of the odd ones out who has had your first weird experience during a 12th house year? Let me know in the comments here or on the original poll on twitter! I always love hearing your stories so keep em comin’!
Maighdlin M Kelly 2022