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
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.
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
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