I suspect that one of our first senses to develop is that of presence. A new born baby can sense, via a feeling, the presence of the mother, can also distinguish this from father, or sibling and stranger. The qualities of presence, unique to each person, are noticeably absent after death: the deceased have no perceptible presence, this is obvious at a funeral. Pets are keen to notice the qualities of presence, and they prefer proximity to their master and might be repulsed by the presence of strangers.
The sense of presence is also very strong at many luminous places in the wilderness. It is not exactly the same as human presence, for it lacks living vibrancy, yet it still is wholesome and satisfying, filling what would otherwise be a sense of isolation, loneliness or even desolation in the wilderness. Also, there is a peculiar quality of presence in all city environments, and it can be very strong, a result of both human presence and radiant electric fields (powerline, cell phones, radio, etc).
Michael Persinger determined that magnetic fields placed near the head are frequently perceived as a presence (the god helmet); some people have experienced this as a divine, psychic or occult mystery of presence.
Luminous places in the wilderness are also referred to as the spirit of place, power spots and places of power. I believe that many of these special locations have extraordinary natural magnetic qualities, they are anomalies which are perceptible to some people. Long ago, before electricity and radio, when people everywhere ate organic natural foods and lived in small groups of semi nomadic hunter-gatherers, the ability to sense presence, via inner feelings, was probably significant, and might have been sensitive enough to perceive magnetic north and south, allowing superior navigation and migrations.
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright”. Henry D. Thoreau, pg. 20, Walking, first published in1862.
Paul C Adams (c) 2017 updated: 3/15/17