Ghosts – What’s the big deal?
I work in kind of a weird place. It’s an old auditorium and theatre (which still functions as such) that has been retrofitted into a college campus. The whole building has an old 70s feel, kind of reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
I’m pretty sure they got their carpet from the same place
Not to mention that the place is a freaking maze – all sorts of hidden shortcuts and rooms, with hallways and stairwells that you think lead to one place that lead you straight to another. And of course this maze of a place comes with all sorts of historic trivia and story-telling, including the often told story about how the place is haunted.
It certainly makes for good story-telling and does wonders to keep new guards on their toes while out on patrol (I know…someday I’m gonna get mine for being so mean). And ghosts seem like such great fodder, too – I mean who hasn’t heard of a ghost? But for how many people insist that they don’t exist, for some reason ghosts seem to be more on the believable side of undead monsters. I couldn’t just tell a new officer that there’s a bunch of zombies in the basement and honestly expect them to believe me. But ghosts? What is it about ghosts that has us all creeped out?
Above: FREAKY! or fake?
Generally, ghosts are described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects or people that they were associated with life – for example the ghost of a child who died in the house that she once lived in. Unlike with zombies, the history of ghosts is long and varied, depending on where you come from. So we’re going to touch just briefly on some of the history of haunts and spooks.
There’s a very spiritual side to ghosts, which is probably why the belief of ghosts is so pervasive around the world. The belief in ghosts, spirits and apparitions dates all the way back to pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices, such as funeral rites, exorcism and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Although the human soul was sometimes symbolically or literally depicted as a bird, or another animal many cultures depicted the human soul as an exact reproduction of the human body. Your soul would look exactly the same as you would. The Egyptian Book of the Dead shows deceased people in the afterlife appearing much as they did before death, including the style of dress.
Ugh, creepy kids…
We all know what ghosts look like – even if you’ve never seen one before, you either know someone who claims to have seen one. Ghosts are commonly described to have a thin, misty, airy type of composition. Anthropologists link this back to the idea that your soul was ‘the person within a person.’ With the belief that your soul was physically inside of you came the idea that it was trying to escape, in a sneeze or in your breath on a cold winter’s day.
Ghosts have very often been thought to be dead people looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth as punishment for the sins they may have committed in their lifetime. We often hear stories of suffering spirits, people who have died tragically and are for whatever reason stuck in purgatory. One such story of lore are White Lady stories. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé – they are often associated with an individual family line or regarded as a harbinger of death – similar to a banshee.
A White Lady Ghost…err, maybe
Psychologists in the United Kingdom have gone on record to state that ghosts are the mind’s way of interpreting how the body reacts to certain surroundings. A chill in the air, low light conditions and magnetic fields may trigger feelings within us that give us the feeling that there is a presence in a room with us. But apparently, that’s all it really is – a feeling. But oh, what a feeling!
I was sitting at the security desk when I got the news that one of the midnight cleaners had unexpectedly quit while doing some general cleaning in the theatre. He claimed that he looked up, saw a ‘floaty white thing’ and freaked right the hell out and swore he was never coming back. What would make someone with a family and bills to pay leave a considerably decent paying job because they saw a ‘floaty white thing?’
A floaty white thing!
My brother used to insist that our old house was haunted. He could hear things happening at night that ‘shouldn’t be happening,’ or often see things that were out of the ordinary. There was one instance where he believed he saw a figure in black watching him from the corner of his room. Either way, he believed what he saw, and for someone who honestly, actually believed that someone out of this world was watching them, I couldn’t imagine being more frightened. Especially considering the lore behind it.
The psychologists from the study aren’t exactly a bunch of spoil-sports, either. Their conclusion comes at the heels of a long study which researchers led hundreds of volunteers around the UK’s most haunted locations. The conclusions they found was that hauntings exist, but in the sense that places exist where people reliably have unusual experiences. The existence of ghosts helps to explain these experiences, however that doesn’t necessarily prove the existence of ghosts. It’s more of a way to help us explain why weird things are happening.
So what’s the big deal with ghosts? Instinct tells us to be apprehensive about things we don’t understand. What happens to our soul when we die is still unknown. The fact that these unknown apparitions could take on the form that seems somewhat familiar (a human being, an animal, you get the idea) only seems to compound things. When you’re used to the every day, being put in a situation that you can’t explain or control seems to make people very on edge.
Not to mention the fact that they’ve been reported to do some really weird stuff. Look at you outside from upstairs windows, stand at the top of the stairs, lower the temperature around you and pull the blankets off of you when you’re trying to sleep. Okay, I think a lot of that might have been fed from Hollywood.
So this kind of article begs for a question! Have you ever seen or experienced anything otherworldly or out of the ordinary? Is your house haunted? Don’t be shy, let us know in the comments! Besides, who doesn’t like a good ghost story?