In this article:
  • Trapped spirits
  • Astral body
  • Psychic imprints
  • The switchboard
  • Hoaxing



I sat bolt upright in bed. The sound was unmistakeable - someone was falling down our stairs. My wife had been startled awake by the same sound. We got out of bed, grabbed something heavy (just in case) and went onto the landing. There was no one there. We went downstairs and tried the front door. Locked. On into the lounge and kitchen. No one there either. We even searched the cellar. Not a soul. One of our cats though was behaving very oddly. She was all fluffed up (as cats do when they feel threatened), and she was making some unusual sounds. She purred very loudly for a few seconds, then stopped and emitted a strange wail for a few seconds, then went back to purring, and so on for quite some time.


The only thing we could think of was that one of our neighbours had fallen down their stairs (their stairs run alongside ours with only a narrow dividing wall). So we went and knocked on their door to make sure they were all right. Well, you can imagine. They were not well pleased at being woken at three in the morning.


So what was going on? It's unlikely we both dreamed the fall. And what had disturbed the cat? We never saw her behave like that before or after that event, only that one night.


As newcomers to the street we hadn't heard at that point that lots of houses on our side of the street had had all kinds of weird things happen in the night. And that these happenings were usually centred on the landings. One family we met later had even moved to the other side of the street they'd been disturbed so often.


And at the bottom of the street, one house had regular footsteps on their landing when no one was around. Their mysterious guest used to like to turn on their kettle and keep it on until it boiled dry.


Although we were never bothered again, many houses on our side of the street continue to have problems, and even in our house, sensitive people have reported an unusual cold sensation on the landing. If you want to find out more about getting rid of this kind of phenomena, see the emystica magic course elsewhere on this site.


Now our experiences were not unique. Throughout the ages people have experienced haunting, mysterious events, apparitions of the dead, and many people say they can communicate with the spirits of the dead.

So What's Going On?

Well, it depends who you talk to, doesn't it? Theories abound ranging from the spirits of the dead returning to bother the living, all the way through to self-delusion and hallucination.

Let's have a look at some of the theories and see if we can make any sense of it.

1. Trapped Spirits

The more you read up on this subject the more you come across this theory. Essentially it says that if someone dies suddenly (especially as a result of violence), or in extremely traumatic circumstances, then it's quite possible their spirit will linger at the site and appear to people from time to time. A classical haunting in fact. Some authors suggest that these ghosts may not even realise they are dead and are simply hanging around familiar places.


There are a lot of accounts of this type of haunting being brought to an end by someone communicating to the spirit that they are dead and it's time to move on to wherever they should have gone at the time of their death.

2. Astral Body

In classical western occultism, there is the concept of the astral body. This is a body of finer "astral" material which occupies the same space as the physical body during life (although some claim to be able to separate it, project their consciousness into it, and visit places without moving their physical body). Many belief that this is the "pattern" around which the physical body moulds itself and that damage to the astral body leads to illness or injury in the physical.


On death the consciousness is believed to transfer to this body. The astral body can continue for some time after physical death, but according to most sources, it too gradually decays and breaks down. Some time before this dissolution, the consciousness is believe to move on to the next stage of its evolution. Some authors claim that the astral body can be seen with some training, or naturally by the sensitive.


We therefore have two more candidates to explain ghosts. Firstly we have the astral body of the recently deceased. If you found yourself in this body after death I'm sure you might want to check up on your friends and relatives before moving on. Some of these might be sensitive and see you.


When the consciousness moves on, we are left with an "astral shell." That is an astral body that looks like the deceased, but no longer contains his consciousness, only a very rudimentary intelligence. Lacking much in the way of intelligence, we can imagine that these shells may linger in places they are familiar with. Some authors claim that these astral shells can continue beyond their normal span for quite some time by stealing vital energy from the living to sustain them. But here we are moving into the realm of vampires. Although astral shells could account for quite a number of hauntings.


3. Psychic Imprints

Yet another theory that goes some way to account for classical haunting. Traumatic events create extremely intense emotions. Some theorists believe that strong emotions emit an energy field which impresses itself on the surroundings. Sensitive people and psychics can detect these impressions and experience scenes and feelings from the long departed.


If this impression theory is correct it is quite easy to see how it may account for haunting where a death was dramatic or traumatic (and may be made up of emotional impressions from the victim and the witnesses), for example when some people witness the re-enactment of a violent murder from the distant past when they enter an old house.


4. The Switchboard

When researching this item I came across a unique theory published in 1970 by Isaac Bonewits called The Switchboard. Bonewits looked at research from the U.S.S.R. which suggests that we are all unconsciously telepathic and that every mental event is, in effect, broadcast telepathically. Now when you receive one of these broadcast thoughts, even if you are never conscious of it, it is in itself a mental event and is therefore rebroadcast by you.


So, in effect, we are all constantly rebroadcasting thoughts to each other. Thus, argues Bonewits, you may have the memories of everyone who ever lived available to you, albeit unconsciously. And within these memories will be groups of memories that constitute the personality of someone else.


Now, if this is true and you go somewhere which has a strong emotional meaning to someone now dead, it is quite possible that you will reactivate their memories within yourself and experience the place as they did, perhaps seeing what they saw, hearing what they heard. Being haunted in fact. In this case the ghost is the memory of a dead personality inside you.


5. Hoaxing


Many years ago I saw a wonderful TV show in which a psychologist took an excellent hypnotic subject and programmed her to see a ghost on the town docks if she ever went down there at night. Post hypnotic suggestion ensured she had no conscious memory of the hypnotic session.


Some months later, the psychologist's team returned to the town and started collecting ghost stories. Sure enough, their hypnotically created ghost was amongst them. The lady had seen her "ghost," reported to a few friends and so the story had grown. Before long others were reporting their own sightings of the fictional ghost.


6. Quantum Computer


Another TV show, far more recently, was looking at out of body experiences in the light of a particularly puzzling case. One of the scientists they spoke to was studying brain structure at a microscopic level. He was speculating that some of our mental processing may take place at the quantum level and had identified sub atomic structures within the brain that may allow this. Now one of the properties of quantum fields, he said, was that they could exist outside of a physical structure.


If this is true then it may be that we have a way to survive bodily death as a quantum information field, but that survival may depend on how mentally developed we are at the time of our death. Presumably though we would be able to interact with other quantum fields and haunt them.


What if you are being haunted?

Well there are a number of ways to tackle this. eMystica has a course in practical magic which includes one way of dealing with hauntings and preventing their reoccurrence.

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