Luck, Psi and Lotteries Ė Part I

By Rosemary Ellen Guiley

c. Visionary Living, Inc.


Everyone knows people who seem to be born under a lucky star. They are always winning drawings, contests and lotteries. Unexpected windfalls land in their laps. They always are in front of the right door of opportunity just as itís opening. Whatís their secret? Are they blessed by the gods, exceptionally psychic or some sort of master of manifestation? Whatís more Ė and hereís the real question Ė is there anything one can do to be more like them?

According to superstition, being born lucky or unlucky is simply a matter of fate and cannot be changed. Today we know thatís not the case, and that there are many factors involved in luck. Some of them we understand and some we donít, but there is ample evidence that we can indeed change our luck.

Psychical researchers have studied luck for years, trying to ascertain whether or not it has anything to do with psi. For example, does a person who considers himself lucky make unconscious use of his latent psychic powers to sense or influence circumstances in his favor? Would his luck really be precognition and clairvoyance that enable him to sense favorable events, and would he use psychokinesis (mind over matter) to manipulate circumstances?

To find out, psychical researchers have questioned study participants about their fundamental attitudes toward their own luckiness, and then tested them. Such tests have been games in which performances can be measured against chance, such as dice-throwing. Do the participants who consider themselves to be lucky individuals perform better than those who consider themselves to be neutral in luck or unlucky?

Results at best are mixed. Some studies show a positive correlation between attitude and performance; others do not. Tests which involve psychic skills, such as trying to forecast or manipulate outcomes also are mixed. The official conclusion to date: inconclusive.

It may be difficult, of not impossible, to ever adequately test for luck, however. One major obstacle is that luck is subjective, not objective. One personís thoughts about luck are different than those of another person. For example, two people are injured in a car accident. One person says he was unlucky because he was injured. The other person says he was lucky because he was only injured, not killed. Also, a person who thinks himself lucky may not think of himself as "psychic," and thus this attitude may unconsciously impair performance on a psi-ability test.

Despite the spotty record of formal tests, we can nonetheless assume an undercurrent of psi in luck. Luck is associated with the intuition Ė things we "know" without empirical evidence Ė and psi is a factor in the intuition. We use our "gut instincts" to seize good opportunities and avoid bad ones. We intuitively know who is on the other end of the ringing telephone before we pick it up. We act on hunches and feelings. Our intuitive radar psychically sweeps the time-space landscape to sense the shaping of circumstances. Whether we are aware of it or not, psi operates quietly in intuition, and therefore in luck.

Itís all in your head

I think that much of our success at being lucky has to do with attitude. If you believe yourself to be lucky, you will be more likely to pay attention to your intuition, and you will be more confident to take action based on intuitive signals. The luckier you feel, the luckier you become because you benefit from acting on information received via psi-intuition. The psi factor strengthens with luck confidence, even if you arenít aware of it as psi per se.

Colin Wilson, the noted British author who writes on many paranormal topics, also holds the view that attitude changes luck. Writing in one of his columns in the Daily Mail of London, Wilson says, "Luck tends to follow those who seize their opportunities and take constructive action. But I believe that it is the way you see yourself that determines whether you are lucky or not."

As a working-class teenager, Wilson believed himself to be unlucky with limited options for education and jobs. "I soon noticed that if I let myself get into a state of self-pity, it seemed to create a vacuum inside me that sucked in bad luck like an extractor fan. As soon as I learned the trick of refusing to regard myself as unlucky, things slowly began to improve."

If you want your luck to change, you have to start on the inside with your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. This is a fundamental principle of metaphysics: the outer world reflects the inner world, not vice versa.

Turning luck into money

Naturally, many people would like their luck to come through on a big lottery win. Considerable energy is devoted to devising "sure-fire" winning techniques Ė which usually enrich their inventors, not the lottery players.

The odds of winning big or even consistently are stacked against an individual. This is what keeps the gambling houses in business. Winning a big lottery or payout has odds up to the millions to one. Still, somebody wins, and you canít win if you donít play. Players hope that luck will make them that unique individual who walks off with the big check.

Psychical researchers have investigated the psi factors of gambling and lotteries. Results of various studies show both positive and negative influences of such factors as lunar phases, seasons and geomagnetic activity. None have borne out as guaranteed, across-the-board factors operating at all times. In other words, results are, like the previously mentioned studies, mixed and thus inconclusive. Still, the psi factor in gambling cannot be dismissed. It is probably more pervasive than science has thought, notes Dean Radin in The Conscious Universe.

Such studies have examined the performances of individual players. But what if a large enough group of people combine their efforts? Would group consciousness make a difference? Iím a believer in the power of group consciousness, and have written about the "global mind" effect before in this column. I believe that a group mind could establish a field consciousness that would enable the group to more accurately predict the future, and also -- at some critical mass factor -- exert a psychokinetic effect to influence the future as well. Why not on the lottery? If a large enough group of lucky-feeling people played the lottery together, would their odds of winning increase?

In fact, an international psi lottery project exists Ė and you can participate in it! From the comfort of your home, you can test your skill while contributing to a study. Whatís more, it wonít cost you a cent to play, and you get to keep your winnings. Is that a good deal, or what?

Testing the odds

For several years, Mick OíNeill, a computer programmer and member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London, has been conducting a psi lottery test with an international group of participants. They play the British National Lottery, one of the biggest lotteries in the world with a weekly turnover of about £100 million. (At the current exchange rate, £1 equals about $1.70 US).

Anyone can join in, once, occasionally or regularly. The first time you participate a ticket will be bought with your numbers where you get 90 percent of any winnings. The goal of the project is to win a multi-million-pound jackpot twice, which would demonstrate psi. Though no big ones have been won yet in three years, the group occasionally gets into better-than-chance waves of smaller wins. Hundreds of pounds in winnings have been distributed among participants.

"My interest in this is principally scientific -- money-making for me is secondary," says OíNeill, who has been researching anomalous phenomena for more than 20 years. "However, I will do everything I can to help the group win big. More important is that winning the jackpot, especially twice, would be the ultimate proof of psychic abilities. My outlook is basically anti-materialist, so I strongly approve of this system to redistribute money from a few lottery millionaires to dramatically improve the financial situation of a larger number of people, particularly considering that the more Ďpsychicí you are the more money you could win."

Published researches on psi and lotteries prompted OíNeill to begin experimenting himself to predict the winning numbers in advance. "After more than 150 attempts a tendency to pick just 20 percent above chance expectation became highly significant statistically," he said. "But such a tendency is practically useless to one person, who would still lose most of their lottery money. However, simple mathematics suggest it will be possible to combine different peopleís attempts. I donít consider myself particularly psychic, so if I can do it, then most people probably can."

After OíNeill collected enough evidence to support his theory, he brought other people into the project. "So far it seems to work in runs," he said. "Early on we won six times in 75 tickets: four times random chance, which is odds of 360 to one. Then we won four times in six draws, which is three times chance. Recently, we had three tickets with four winning numbers, winning £308 in just 146 tickets, whereas chance suggests only one such ticket every 1033 tickets.

"All this shouldnít be happening unless it is possible to predict the numbers in advance. I am now convinced that it is, and the only question is whether it is possible to combine the different peoplesí numbers well enough to win the jackpot."

Twice every week, participants do their best to forecast the six winning numbers, and submit their picks to OíNeill. He runs them all on his computer program that sorts the choices into the best combinations for tickets. OíNeill purchases about 80 one-pound tickets per week. Ninety percent of the winnings are distributed among the participants who picked one or more winning numbers. OíNeill retains 10 percent for expenses and to donate to the SPR, which supported the project with an initial £1,500 grant. Some participants opt to keep their winnings in a kitty, and a formula is applied for distribution.

The results of every draw are distributed by email to participants so that they can personally track their success rate over time.

According to random chance, a participant will average 0.8 winning numbers from six contributed numbers, or four winning numbers from every 30 contributed numbers. OíNeill recommends picking at least 60 numbers before assessing success. Ten or more winning numbers is a good hit rate from 60, though results vary considerably. Some of the best overall participants have had no wins in a run of 30 numbers. In order to encourage serious attempts OíNeillís computer awards extra "guaranteed shares" in the winnings when a participantís record is statistically sufficiently above chance. Statistical theory suggests a 50 percent chance that your results will be above the expected, one chance in six to get one guaranteed share, one in 15 for two guaranteed shares, one in 45 for three guaranteed shares, and so on.

OíNeill theorizes that the group should be able to gradually rise above the expected average of 0.8 numbers correct per ticket. "Then winning should slowly become more common and the amounts we win gradually increase," he said. "An average somewhere around 1.2 should mean that money in the group kitty should start to snowball. However to move from averaging 1.2 numbers per week to 2.0 or perhaps 3.0 -- which is practically impossible for an individual -- is possible using this method and would make a jackpot win within a year a near certainty. Up until now we have had a tendency to seem to do average for a while, then suddenly everyone does well and we win well above chance for a while."

Participants use a variety of personal "psi conducive" techniques to pick their numbers. OíNeill recommends getting into a quiet or meditative state, closing the eyes and allowing numbers to present themselves. You can use automatic drawing, automatic writing, pendulums or divination cards. Any tool or technique that helps the process is acceptable.

Some of the participants pick their numbers according to "Libra time," which is thought by some to have a positive effect on psi performance. James

Spottiswoode, writing in the Journal for Scientific Exploration in 1997, has found that doing psi tasks at times when the constellation Libra is overhead -- around 13:30 Local Sidereal Time (LST) -- seems to have a positive influence. Spottiswoode, a British-born physicist at the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, found in 2,483 ESP experiments in the US and Europe that subjects were significantly more successful at around this time. Why? No one knows -- but it seems to bear out.

If you want to check out this effect for yourself, be aware that sidereal time is not the same as clock time. In January it is around 6am, but it gets earlier by about two hours per month, so one must calculate the corresponding local time periods. You can calculate your Libra time calculations on this US Navy site:

On the average, 60 people participate in each draw. The more, the better, says OíNeill. You donít have to consider yourself "psychic" to play. Most of the participants are in the United Kingdom, but some are in America, Canada, Australia and Europe. Anonymity is guaranteed to anyone who wishes it.

The British National Lottery is drawn every Wednesday and Saturday evening. To participate in a particular draw, you must contact OíNeill by 6:45 pm British time (10:45am PST & 1:45pm EST) on the day of the draw. The first time you participate, send your picks three hours earlier to be certain of your "personal" ticket. Please note that winnings are paid in pounds, and you are responsible for any currency conversions and transfer costs.

You can simply send your first set of numbers, or first contact OíNeill to get the full instructions and information, which he sends out via email. His email address is

But before you jump in, take inventory on yourself. Plenty of skeptics do well on psi tests, but you are likely to have a higher success rate if you fundamentally believe yourself to be lucky. Donít get hung up on being "psychic." Believe in your natural ability to be lucky, and the psi will take care of itself.



First published in FATE magazine, 2003.  For more information about FATE, visit