new age spirituality

Ghosts and Hauntings

Strangely we are both fascinated and terrified by ghosts. Many of us would balk at the prospect of spending the night alone in a reputedly haunted house. Yet stories and movies about ghosts remain extremely popular, as they have been throughout human history.

Our fear is paradoxical, since to witness a ghost would dispel any dread we may have concerning the inevitable death of the physical body. If a ghost is able to exist without material form then we can be reassured that so surely may we. Fear of ghosts is really part of that natural generic fear of the unknown. We are comfortable with the familiar, within the parameters defined by science and technology. When these break down our sense of certainty descends into disarray.

The concept of ghosts forces us to touch on a fundamental question that we, in physical form, are unable to answer categorically. The question of what is the non-physical, feeling part of our selves, the part that gives rise to our free will.

Do Ghosts Exist?

Given the volume of material on ghosts occurring throughout the literature of every human society there is no doubt the concept of ghosts exists.

For those that have seen or otherwise experienced a ghost, then ghosts exist beyond a shadow of a doubt. For those not so fortunate the principle of Occam's razor may be applied. Given the sheer number of accounts of ghosts and hauntings occurring throughout history and across cultures, what is the simplest explanation? That there is such a thing as ghosts? Or that every single one of these accounts is erroneous or fabricated? It is far more likely that a number of the accounts do describe genuine phenomena that for want of a better description we call ghosts.

What are Ghosts?

There are several theories about what makes a ghost.

Perhaps the most common is that ghosts are Spirits of people who are physically dead but for whatever reason are unable to return to the Spirit realms. This could be because they passed suddenly and genuinely do not realize their bodies are no longer alive. Or it could be because they feel they have unfinished business on earth.

Another view - the so-called "stone tape" theory - is that the physical environment acts as a kind of tape recorder, absorbing an image of emotionally charged events that have occurred within its vicinity over the years. Sensitive ("psychic") people can then pick up on these recordings, receiving impressions of, or actually reliving, traumatic happenings of the past. This is a similar phenomenon to that of psychometry in which sensitives can pick up information about the present or previous owner of an object by handling it.

Poltergeists (German for "noisy ghost") cause physical happenings such as knocks and raps and objects being moved or disappearing and reappearing elsewhere. Poltergeist activity is often considered to be associated with living persons, often young people around puberty, an age at which emotions are often wildly disrupted.

Next is the awareness of the presence of a loved one who has passed away. This may take the form of a familiar smell (perfume, tobacco, ...), a light brushing of the hair, or just a sensation that they are close by. These are not ghosts as such as the entities concerned will have successfully made the transition to the Spirit realm, but they choose to draw close to near and dear ones from time to time, the bond being that most powerful of all emotions - love.

Also we may be aware of the presence of one or other of our guides. Every living soul has several entities in Spirit who act as our guides. These entities monitor our mortal progress and stand ready to offer guidance - should we request it! While these guides will never push themselves forwards (it is important we experience free will while on earth) we may occasionally get the sense of not being alone.

Any of the above may result in the experience of "ghosts".

Do Ghosts Haunt People or Places?

Ghosts can "haunt" (or be attached to) either. In the case of "stone tape" the phenomena is obviously associated with a place. But ghosts may also attach to individuals, which means that it isn't always possible to escape ghostly activity just by moving house.

In the most extreme cases a lost Spirit may attempt to take over the body of a living being. Such cases of possession are thankfully rare, but might account for a proportion of cases diagnosed as mental illness.

Are Ghosts evil?

When this world is viewed in the context of greater reality concepts of good and evil vanish, becoming instead opportunities for experience and growth. Most ghosts certainly aren't harmful, but certain trapped entities do carry considerable anger which prevents them from moving into the light. An encounter with such Spirits may be disturbing, but is unlikely to be physically harmful.

There are also mischievous Spirits. They may be immature entities, or simply playful. Typical evidence of these is losing things only for them to turn up in unexpected places some time in the future. A more extreme case might be blankets being pulled off your bed in the night.

What to do if you see a Ghost

If you are fortunate enough (yes I do mean fortunate) to experience some ghostly phenomena you will probably be too shocked to remember these words, but just in case they may lodge somewhere in your mind, or you are subject to repeated phenomena I present some advice.

A bit like coming face to face with a wild animal the ghost may feel more afraid/disturbed/confused/lost than you do. Rather than screaming or turning away in horror, try to offer the hand of friendship or sympathy. Mentally ask the apparition who it is and what it wants. It could be that your acknowledgement and acceptance is all that it needs to continue its journey into the light.

If the phenomena continue, keep trying to make contact. If you feel benevolence, your ghost may become a part of the family. If on the other hand you feel sorrow, fear, anger or distress it may be right to call in experienced assistance. A priest may be able to help, but don't work with any priest who talks about banishing evil. A better choice may be a visit to a Spiritualist church which may be able to put you in touch with a medium specializing in rescue work.

Remember, as with difficult people in life, rather than passing judgment try instead to place yourself in another's shoes, in this case that of a lost and troubled soul.

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