I’ve been writing a book that has an element of the supernatural in it, and so I’ve been looking into the perception of spirits and ghosts in history.
Whatever you call them, Ghosts, Poltergeists, or “Figments of your imagination” – Ghosts have long been part of human lives. In fact it’s seems as soon as humans had the ability to have the notion of the ‘self’, the afterlife has featured heavily in beliefs and practices across the world.
Many people dismiss the idea and say that it is scientifically impossible.
However, I myself AM a believer, and I’ll tell you why.
First, is the resident ghost we have at my parent’s house. (Actually make that ghosts, but I’ve only experienced the one).
We started building an extension, and I moved into a different bedroom, across the hall from the one I had been in before. It started off with ‘shadows’ and my light dimming as though someone, a tall someone, had walked past it. I also got the classic Prickles on the back of my neck, feeling like I was being watched, so sometimes I would get changed in the bathroom. I figured it was just me being silly, so I didn’t tell anyone, and ignored it.
Then I would wake suddenly in the night (I had never been a fitful sleeper, even as a baby) and there would be a white ‘form’ above the bed, initially bright so I would shield my eyes, then I would dive under the covers, asking for whatever it was to go away so I could sleep. This went on for 2 years, still I didn’t tell anybody.
Then, one evening, I was lying in bed reading, and I felt the edge of the bed move down, like someone had sat down on it. I shifted my legs and, sure enough the mattress was dipping down at the edge. I didn’t turn around, but reached up for the light, switched it off, and lay my head down. I waited and about 2 minutes later the mattress came up, and I lay perfectly still for ages afterwards, until eventually I went to sleep. The morning after that, I thought about my ‘ghost’; Who I was sure was a tall man. What I was also sure of was that he was just lonely, or at least not aggressive. I began, when I felt the prickle, or saw the lights dim, to talk to him, to ask him to leave me whilst I got changed, not to wake me up, that sort of thing. Sometimes, when I was reading, (I would say about 8 times after that in total) he sat on the bed, sometimes on my legs, so I couldn’t move them.
I decided I couldn’t be imagining it, or that if I was I should probably get help, and told my sister.
You can imagine my relief when she told me mum had been telling her about a ‘tall man ghost’ she had seen on the landing outside my bedroom almost every night when she went to bed, so she would run down the hall to her bedroom, and another lady ghost downstairs, and how she hadn’t told me because she was afraid I would get scared or have nightmares about it. So I told mum what had been happening. She wasn’t surprised (obviously) and asked if I wanted us to move house! I said no, he had become a very weird sort of friend, we didn’t exactly ‘talk’, but I was used to his presence. I was a teenager at the time, about 10 when it started, and, finally, at about 16, I began to sense him, or feel him, less and less.
There have been studies into people who are at emotionally sensitive points in their lives; for instance teenagers, or sometimes even schizophrenics, actually causing poltergeist activity, and spiritualists often say that heightened emotion can cause ghosts to appear to those people too – so maybe that’s why I saw him less as I grew older. Mum still lives in the house and very rarely sees him too now, perhaps once every 6 months she’ll catch a glimpse. The lady she only ever saw a few times.
It was almost like he was there when I needed him, but I also wonder if he left because I told him, about aged 15, that I could not help him, that there was nothing I could do. There have been settlements on that land since the Iron ages, goodness knows when he died.
We also had a ghost cat, we’d think it was out cat meowing and he wasn’t there, or would see him whizz past us, and our cat would have little hissing fits and swipe at thin air. My mum went to a medium after all of this and was told (without any prompting or even knowing my mum’s last name, I listened to the recording) that her cat that she had when she was little had followed her ever since, and was teasing our cat mercilessly. Poor Kracker!
Story number two, is shorter(!):
I had a boyfriend whose family always joked that they had a ghost. Their dog would get up, tail wagging, run to the door, and then trot back down the hallway and up the stairs, looking up and yapping at absolutely nothing!
My sister picked me up one day in the morning, my boyfriend kissed me goodbye at the door, and then I walked out to the road where my sister was parked.
I got in the car, and my sister said to me “Who was that in the doorway? I just kept thinking ‘Leave them alone they’re trying to say goodbye!’” she rolled her eyes and smiled.
“Wait, who?” I asked. “The woman in the doorway.” She frowned. “What did she look like?” I asked again, thinking that maybe my bf’s mum HAD been home and she’d been in the hallway. “ Quite short, Blond shoulder length hair and glasses, I think.” She said. My bf’s mum had short black hair, no glasses and was about 5’8”, not short. I told my sister this, and she just threw up her hands and said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Turned out she’d seen ghosts as a child and it frightened her. I’ve been jealous ever since that she and mum seem to see whole people rather than shadows and indistinct shapes like I do.
Example number three is along a similar vein. My mum and Dad were in Jersey underground hospital. If you’ve been there, you’ll know that at the end, it just stops. To the left is a padlocked gate, to the right is just earth. They were walking down the corridor, and mum saw a man walking ahead, down to the bottom and turning right. My Dad told her it was the end, but she had just seen this man walk there and not come back, so they walked down, thinking there was more to see. Of course there wasn’t.
Another instance is when My sister was at her husband’s parents house, when she was 20 or so, and, at 3 in the afternoon, everything flew off shelves and all the taps in the house came on at once.
Another example is when I was also at a friend’s house, we were in his bedroom, door shut, when we heard a door slam downstairs. No one else was in, so we stood really still, listening. We then heard a rustling sound outside. We’d left shopping bags in the hall, and the sound was them being dragged slowly down the hall floor. He was so scared he farted, which made me laugh, breaking the tension, and I poked my head out the door. Sure enough, no one was in and the bags were at the other end of the hall, but by now I’d heard and seen all of the above – and so was almost blasé about it! He, on the other hand, was not. An old lady had died in the house had died just before they moved in, and one of the girls living there had opened Christmas cards she’d been sent by friends who obviously didn’t know she’d died. When the others in the house started hearing doors slam in the night they made her apologise to ‘the old lady ghost’ and tell the landlord what she’d done. I don’t know if it carried on after or not because my friend moved back home.
So you see, most of these things have happened in broad daylight, at times that shouldn’t have been spooky, and they were physical things. I cannot believe I, and all my family and friends, imagined these things. I have a rational mind, I decided at the age of 5 that Christianity was a bit far- fetched, and am a fan of science, although often the mechanics are beyond me.
Yet I am also not an arrogant person. Science has got it wrong before, and it could again. We cannot imagine a colour we have not seen, because we can only see that colours our biological make up allows us to.
Therefore, who is to say we are not blind to other things, who’s to say that there aren’t other, ‘parallel’ dimensions that we can glimpse but never fully understand until the energy inside us is expelled in death and is in a form that can reach those places?
I have also often wondered if these are actually fractures in time, rather than ghosts. Patrick and I were at the beach once, and I was looking up at him, waiting for him to take a picture. Suddenly there was a plane behind him, flying low; an old green bomber. I pointed, mouth gaping, and he turned, and gaped too. We watched, in silence, as it flew directly over us, descending quickly, barely grazing the roof of the houses on the seafront. We both stood in silence, waiting for the crash, but it didn’t happen. I looked around, but no one else was looking. We scrambled up the beach, looking to see if it had risen again, but the sky was clear, as was the small field with horses in behind it. Afterwards, I remarked to pat how it had made no sound, and he said that he had heard an engine, albeit a quiet one. We looked it up, and it was a Lancaster Bomber. Also, some of them had been given Rolls Royce engines to make them quiet. I then found out that Bracklesham had been used as an air base of sorts and was an area to practice bombing in the war, and, knowing Goodwood air field was near-by, I thought maybe it belonged to someone in the area. It turns out there are only 2 air-worthy examples left, and the UK one is only used as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight. Perhaps we had witnessed a time fracture – a glimpse into the past? Who knows. All I know is we forgot to take a bloody picture!
I am a cynic, yet I am also a ‘possible until proven otherwise’ sort of person.
I know Christianity is not sensible because I know where it began, a tiny cult in the fringes of the eastern Roman Empire that was actually really quite late in the chronology of religions since humans evolved. I know Christianity only spread because one Roman Emperor decided to convert after winning a battle when he prayed to the Christian God, and it became the state religion. If he had not, or if they had not conquered England, we’d probably all still be worshipping multiple deities, and thinking nothing of it. Buddhism and Hinduism spread through schools on the Silk Road trade route, and even now people join cults because they need a leader, they need to make sense of the world.
I don’t need to make sense of the world, I enjoy the mystery, I enjoy the secrets. I love reading Erich Von Daniken’s books, and, as flawed as they are, who is to say that Aliens have not already visited us – Thousands of years ago? Who is to say that our soul is not actually an alien, an energy form using us, like a shell?
I personally find Wicca the ‘nicest’ of religions (despite what some people, who group them with Satan worshippers – preposterous! – believe). It’s very much about looking after the planet, and each other, being in touch with nature, from which it seems very easy to forget we have only veered away from in the past few hundred years out of a hundred thousand year human history.
I would say I’m a mix of Athiest, Wicca, and Buddhist. Which I suppose = Agnostic. I don’t believe in organised, God-based religion, I believe in something, something to do with having a soul and reincarnation and learning, I just don’t know what yet, and I won’t KNOW until I die.
There ends my ramblings. Some of you will scoff, some of you will say this does not constitute proof of anything at all, but I am not trying to prove anything, I am merely trying to offer the possibility. J Some of you, I hope, will identify, and hopefully, believe me. I have no reason to make any of it up – don’t worry, I’m not planning any Derek Acorah style books or tv appearances! ;p
Before I forget, I will add a picture I took in Dorchester. I took this picture purely because the house felt so ‘spooky’, and did not use the flash. I’m not usually a fan of ‘Orb’ pictures, especially not when they’re taken near waterfalls or around sofas (water droplets and dust!) but knowing I didn’t use the flash in this, and it going up rather than down like if it were a drop of rain – really spooked me :p
To end, as usual, some ghosts from history (aren’t they all?)
from the Morning Post, 1818:
Changing Attitudes, disproving Ghosts with Science in 1865: