Ideograms are a part of Ingo Swann’s methodology. There are different views about the function and execution of the ideogram in Remote Viewing. Even if we restrict it to the core – that is, Stage I of the CRV protocol – the 30-year history of use has produced various assumptions on this. This should give an overview.

First contact with the signal line

The term “ideogram” refers to a mark on paper, a spontaneous drawing that is the involuntary physical expression of the viewer’s first kinesthetic encounter with the target area. The ideogram arises involuntarily as a physical expression of a sensory experience below the perceptual threshold of consciousness. This first impression contains the compact information about the main “gestalt” of the target, which the viewer tries to capture in stage I.

Definition by Ingo Swann:
The spontaneous graphic representation of the major gestalt, formed in response to the impact of the signal line on the viewer’s nervous system and the reflexive transmission of the resultant nervous energy to the muscles of the viewer’s hand and arm, through pen, onto paper.

For a better understanding, it is worthwhile to first make an excursion into the history of the development of the ideogram.

During the time that Swann, together with Puthoff and Targ, was doing basic research at SRI, curious people were always visiting the institute, mostly out of journalistic or scientific interest. Naturally, everyone was eager to have a demonstration of remote viewing. The problem, however, was that even if the results were excellent, the visitors weren’t completely convinced. There was always a residual doubt as to whether they had not somehow been tricked. The solution came in the form of the First-time effect, which had already made a significant impact in the remote viewing studies. In short, it is the fact that, as a newcomer, you get unusually good hits in your first and perhaps second session, statistically speaking.

So paper and pencil were thrust into the hands of the visitors and they were left to experience for themselves what Remote Viewing felt like, with a mostly excellent hit on the first try and combined with the confirmation that you really couldn’t know anything about the target beforehand except a sequence of digits. As was customary at the time, these experiments were so-called “outbounder” experiments, in which the unknown location of a “beacon” person was to be described by the viewer who was somewhere in the vicinity at the same time.

Extract from the SRI report “Special Orientation Techniques” from April 1984

Over a short period of time, more than 140 sessions of visitors were collected at SRI. Upon evaluation, it was noticeable that most people drew small squiggles or spontaneous doodles as they attempted to make contact with the target area. Swann recalled a book from his college days that discussed how children start to draw (Rudolf Arnheim: Art and Visual Perception ), and after a comparison with the illustrations there, the idea then arose that this must be a form of general human behavior that is called upon unconsciously.

Hal Puthoff, Russell Targ, and Ingo Swann then conducted a series of further experiments, totaling more than 1000 sessions, to further explore this and other theses. One of the results of this series of tests is the integration of the ideogram as a central component in the CRV protocol.

Its function at the physical level can be well explained by now. The reflexive drawing of the ideogram is an ideomotor response to the perceptual process involved. It is important that it is an automatic, not a conscious, process.

Although Ingo Swann thought at the time that this movement was triggered by the autonomic nervous system, it is now understood that this cannot be the case. The autonomic nervous system controls all involuntary, automatic functions such as heartbeat, digestion, respiration, etc., but the so-called “autonomic reactions” are controlled by the central nervous system, just like all movements that muscles require. Nevertheless, in this case they are unconscious processes that result in an automatic movement response. Well-known examples of such autonomic actions of the body are reflex movements or trained autodynamics.

Anyone who has had a driver’s license for a while is familiar with the phenomenon: while the conscious mind is busy with something else, trained movement patterns function on their own without conscious awareness and attention, practically in the background. Such processes, like many habits, are carried out below the threshold of consciousness.

The conscious and the subconscious mind

What can also be seen well in these examples is that the body – or rather bodily reactions – is the only connecting element between consciousness and subconsciousness. Because these two don’t usually speak the same language. But both, consciousness and subconsciousness, have a connection to the body and can control it. So it makes sense to take advantage of this and use the body as a “translation module”.

Paul H. Smith brings the following comparison to this: The ideogram functions like a seismograph, which indicates whether the viewer has connected with the target – or with the signal line. The seismograph now deflects and a mark is made on the paper.

This mark itself does not contain the information, but it is the connection needed to make contact with the process that made it happen. Roughly speaking, this process is the translation of a global, comprehensive, multidimensional perception into a two-dimensional image without going through the four-dimensional thought structure of human consciousness. The mind, which was excluded in the meantime, now comes in and tries to decode the information that has been “packed” in the process. There is agreement that the processing of the ideogram leads the viewer to establish permanent contact with the signal line and that the progress of this phase – Stage I – has a major impact on how well the rest of the session can go.

The processing of the I / A / B sequence (or with Morehouse I / A / B / C sequence) itself takes barely 1–2 minutes for experienced viewers before they can move on to Stage II. This has led some self-taught viewers to underestimate the function of the first stage or even to skip it, but this risks hitting the target inaccurately or not at all as it progresses. Lori Williams said this in her presentation at the 2015 IRVA conference “Phase I is really the foundation of every remote viewing session. … You describe in the rest of the stages what you found in Stage I.”

As Ingo’s students, we were taught that this small amount of analysis was permissible in Stage 1 because it happened virtually instantaneously and then was over, before the full analytical faculties of the conscious mind could go to work on it. However, hesitating or trying to think too much at that stage almost inevitably would lead to AOL.

(Paul H. Smith: Reading the Enemy’s mind)

Just a line on the paper

So the idea is to read out of the “squiggle” of the ideogram, to extract everything that was put there in compact form at the time when the ideogram was created as a manifestation of the contact. It is important to distinguish: This information is not in the drawing itself, even if this impression could arise, because the viewer rehearses the ideogram with his pen, but in what it represents. What caused the stroke is densely packed information, the squiggle itself is an epiphenomenon, a concomitant, of this process.

The decoding of this two-dimensional mark now is what divides the minds.

In the I / A / B sequence, the “I” initially stands for the ideogram.
The “B” is best defined as: “The best one-word description of the major gestalt of the target.”
The “A” is the part at issue in the ideogram controversy.

The original and older version of this is decoding by “feeling/motion”, i.e. the viewer tries to pick up the general nature of the target by calling up the feeling he receives when drawing or tracing the ideogram line.

With “Feeling” what is meant here is not a tactile feeling of the surfaces, but rather the sensory perception of what the inner nature of the target is, its consistency, what it is made of. The ideogram itself does not have to represent the shapes of the target, but one may still feel a dimensionality or aspects of it when scanning it, even if one does not see it at all.

Ideograms are always unique, not only different from target to target, but even ideograms for the same target can look different. One reason for this, for example, is that the viewer may have a different angle of entry for each contact; another is that viewers in Stage I have neither spatial orientation nor reference.
In a talk on this topic at the 2015 IRVA conference, Paul provided an amusing example here by displaying the cover of the book “Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets and Highways” , which humorously deals with the identification of types of roadkills. (Since the audience arched with laughter, it stuck in our minds well and should therefore not go unmentioned here.)
What this is supposed to illustrate is that the “inner nature” of the ideogram cannot necessarily be read from its shape. For example, a smooth horizontal line can feel wavy and ascending.

There is also the reverse case, in which a viewer always draws his ideograms in the same way. In this case, Ingo Swann insisted on retraining, because the drawing should in any case remain a reaction to the target and not just a ritual action. Likewise, he took great care to ensure that the creation of the ideograms was not influenced by reflection or other conscious processes.

The “motion” component of feeling/motion is the experience of movement or dynamics that the viewer experiences while tracing the ideogram. What is interesting here is that this motion often represents features of the target, such as the external shape or an internal profile, or perhaps even motion that occurs in the target. In order not to involve the analytical mind too much in this early stage, the gestalt of the target, is initially expressed in archetypes (land, water, structure, life, etc.).

In Stage I, beginners often start guessing what the ideogram is supposed to represent. It is a somewhat arduous learning process to discover exactly what is really meant by “reading the ideogram”, which is to make the connection to the stored impressions from the moment of its creation. Working out these subtle differences may sound tedious here, but it is the central core of understanding the function of the ideogram in the protocol structure.

The newer approach – visual lexicon of archetypes

From the last described further peculiarity of ideograms to be able to transport features of the target also symbolically, the second working approach to this has developed. In the course of time it was noticed that for some viewers the ideogram contained a kind of visual feedback of the subconscious for certain archetypes. For example, when an angular element was always drawn for the archetype “structure”. Suddenly there was a two-way communication with the subconscious, which presented the information in a certain representation. The core of the new idea was that you can train this effect in the sense of autodynamics.

Paul H. Smith remembers from his military days a discussion between Lyn Buchanan and Ed Dames about how useful it would be if one could train one’s subconscious to output ideograms quite generally in a certain way, so that they would always be visually the same for a certain kind of gestalt. To do this, you first need training and provide your internal system with appropriate feedback. So you train personal communication with your own subconscious over a large number of individual sessions and thus develop an individual “alphabet” of archetypes that is expressed visually in the ideogram.

Lyn Buchanan served on the Center Lane / Dragoon Absorb /Sun Streak project from April 1984 to December 1991 and, like the other viewers, applied the Swann variant during his service at Ft. Meade. It was only during his later own work with remote viewing that he developed the form that he teaches today as a CRV variant.

Controversial ideogram philosophy

Swann / Puthoff approach” “Lexicon” approach
Ideogram is a graphic representation Ideogram is language-based
• no two ideograms identical • Ideograms for a given gestalt always the same
Ideogram is a kinesthetic experience Ideogram is a lexical element
• Don’t “look” at ideogram for information • Viewers often “look” at ideogram for information
• Orientation of ideogram on paper often different
from actual target in 3-D space
• Orientation of the ideogram on paper is not relevant.

[Source: Presentation by Paul H. Smith at the IRVA conference in 2015]

The advantages of this method are understandable at first sight: If one succeeds in training the subconscious in such a way that the sought-after answer is reliably output visually, the work is made easier. The human sense of sight far surpasses all other senses, and the source for interpretation would not be fleeting and comparable. All features that provide more controllable feedback than immersion in “feeling/motion.”

However, there are also disadvantages worth considering. The large amount of training required is not even the issue. The fact of training a 2-way communication with one’s own subconscious is also definitely an important training goal. David Morehouse has a good explanation for this, referring to the training of AOL and Breaks. Basically he says: “Whenever the viewer declares an AOL / missed / confusion / too much break, he tells his subconscious that he does not accept the information in the given form and asks for repetition in a better form. Only in this way can the subconscious learn how exactly the information must be provided so that the viewer can decode it easily and cleanly.”

The main problem is that the Ingo Swann approach is of a kinesthetic nature, whereas the “lexical” approach requires a left-hemispheric processing of the visual form. The goal of keeping the conscious mind out of the process of gestalt decoding as much as possible is not fulfilled here. The process of being psychic is shifted to stage 2.

Whether it is an obstacle that the archetypes are limited to a few terms – in contrast to the variety of impressions transported via the kinesthetic experience – is also debatable, because the classification into a few defined categories is otherwise already done by the B-element.

With regard to the last two arguments, the “lexical” approach is, so to speak, diametrically opposed to the Swann methodology. You cannot intuitively execute this methodology but have to install it into your system and work on it long and persistently until it works reliably.

Finally, we quote Lori Williams again, “Everything works as long as you are true to your structure.”

Jeffrey Mishlove in conversation with Paul H. Smith about “The Ideogram Controversy in Remote Viewing