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Michael Daw on the connection between Psi and Diet

Psi Saturday guest speaker, Michael Daw, has been kind enough to contribute a guest blog post to us! Here he describes his work on the connection between Psi and diet, something which he has been studying academically for years. 

Click below to join Michael at Psi Saturday (1st July). Please remember that places at this event are highly limited and book in advance to avoid disappoinment. 

A Diet for Psi and Spirituality?

It’s pretty normal these days to think about diet with respect to sports and exercise. But is what, when, and how you eat also important if you’re pursuing a spiritual path or trying to develop a psychic connection?

Many religions and spiritual traditions emphasise the importance of practices related to food. For example, shamans fast before entering a trance state, and fasting is a feature of each of the major monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and particularly Islam. Many Hindus and Buddhists are vegetarians, and in Jainism the avoidance of harm to animals is seen as especially important.

One of the co-founders of Theosophy Helena Blavatsky, and twentieth century psychical researcher Hereward Carrington both believed that eating meat represented an obstacle to attaining what they described as ‘occult powers’ or psychic development, and Rudolf Steiner advocated both fasting and vegetarianism to enhance a connection with the spiritual realm.

But is there any evidence to support these beliefs that diet plays a role in psi and spirituality?

Despite this history of ‘soul food’, hardly anyone until now has examined whether a person’s diet might affect spiritual and psychic experiences. My PhD research is seeking to put that right. So far I’ve interviewed professional psychics, conducted surveys on people who fast or who are vegetarian, and run precognition experiments to compare the performance of vegetarians and meat eaters. It’s early days but my preliminary findings intriguingly suggest that food may play a role.

Want to know more?! Then come along to the Centre’s Psi Saturday on 1st July where I’ll be presenting a session on this topic.


Blavatsky, H. P. The key to Theosophy. Theosophical University Press 1889.

Carrington, H. Vitality, fasting and nutrition. Rebman Company 1908.

Lamb, R. Yogic Powers and the Rāmānanda Sampradāy. In Yoga powers: Extraordinary capacities attained through meditation and concentration. BRILL 2011.

Spencer, C. The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism. UPNE 1996.

Steiner, R. Problems of Nutrition. Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib 1909. 

Walsh, R. (1994). The making of a shaman: Calling, training, and culmination. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 34(3), 7–30.

Winkelman, M. J. Shamans and other “magico-religious” healers: a cross-cultural study of their origins, nature, and social transformations. Ethos 1990; 18(3), 308–352.

Wright, R. M. Mysteries of the jaguar shamans of the Northwest Amazon. University of Nebraska Press 2013.



joan frew at the sir arthur conan doyle centre

About Michael Daw

Michael is a doctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Northampton, with the aim of qualifying for a PhD in 2023.

His main focus lies in parapsychology, which involves the scientific investigation of apparent phenomena such as telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, and reincarnation. Those interested in delving deeper into research in these areas and more could find valuable information by exploring the following link: https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/categories.[1]

Michael’s current research revolves around examining whether dietary practices, particularly fasting and vegetarianism, are linked to spiritual development and psychic experiences and abilities. He has conducted interviews with professional psychics to explore the role of food in their abilities. Furthermore, surveys have been carried out to assess any potential associations between spiritual and paranormal experiences and the diets of vegetarians and individuals who fast. Michael has also conducted an experiment to investigate whether vegetarians outperform meat eaters in tests of precognition, often referred to as ‘seeing the future.’ Interviews and talks given by Michael about this research can be viewed.

Apart from his work in parapsychology, Michael has actively participated in the environmental movement for over 30 years. He stood for parliament for the Green Party in 1992 and currently serves as a trustee of Climate Action Ilkley, while also being a founding member of Transition New Mills. Michael holds a particular passion for restoring and enhancing nature, exemplified through his involvement with Mossy Earth, and advocating for more plant-based diets due to considerations regarding the environment, personal health, and animal welfare.

In his professional career, Michael has held roles in university senior management and provided support for academic research. Most recently, he worked for the Bragg Centre at the University of Leeds. Prior to that, he was a software engineer and a high school mathematics teacher. Michael holds a Masters in computation and a degree in social science.

Originally hailing from the south coast near Brighton, Michael spent most of his adult life in Manchester. He currently resides in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. In his leisure time, he enjoys playing the piano and chess, trying his hand at cooking and baking (with a focus on vegan recipes), and indulging in long walks in the countryside, preferably in more natural surroundings.

Michael is a member of scientific organizations such as the Galileo Commission, the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, and the Vegan Researcher Network.

You can find out more about Michael and his work on his website: https://michaeldaw.net  



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