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Ghosts and apparitions have held great interest to humankind throughout the ages. At first, ghosts of the dearly departed were accepted as fact, forming part of everyday life and rituals, but as we gradually became more technologically sophisticated, so scepticism set in. It is a basic instinct to fear what one doesn’t understand, or can’t reasonably explain.
Because ‘ghost hunting’ isn’t a real science and has depended on amateurs with imperfect methods and imperfect equipment, knowledge has remained rather sketchy. Of course, ghost stories are steeped in folklore. As tales are passed on from generation to generation, they become embellished and distorted. These stories were told to warn and to entertain—not necessarily meant to be accepted as fact.
Personally, I’ve always been interested in the paranormal and have started to question the nature of apparitions of the dead. I wanted to know why the spirits of some people linger after death and others not. To find answers, I first had to explore the nature of ghosts in general.
Let’s be honest. We’ve all heard inexplicable little sounds at odd times for which we couldn’t find reasonable explanations. And because we’re scared of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, it makes one feel better to blame the noisy neighbours. And what about the movement we catch from the corner of the eye that we assign to shifting light casting shadows? Sometimes, when we can’t come up with a logical explanation, it’s just more comforting to blame our own overactive imagination. But is it possible that all this space around us is not empty?
We’re all born with the ability to ‘see’. Unfortunately, our perception changes over time as we mature. Through the process of socialisation, the ability is blocked when it’s assigned to the child’s imagination.
Here are a few interesting ‘facts’ regarding the experience of ghostly activity:
• Whereas children can see ghosts, only about one in ten adults retain that ability.
• Women are more likely than men to see a ghost.
• The higher the IQ, the lower the likelihood of seeing a ghost.
• People actively looking for ghosts are the least likely to see one, and by the flip of a coin, those who disregard their presence are quite likely candidates to have a ghostly experience.
1) The most common explanation of what ghosts are, is that they’re the spirits of people who have died prematurely and so still have unfinished business to complete. The soul incarnates into each new life with a set of prescribed tasks to complete in that life for the development of that soul. When death comes unexpectedly or early, some of the tasks might still be incomplete and the soul is unable to cross over to the spirit world. The spirit then lingers around his or her old haunts, friends, and family. This kind of sighting is highly interactive, and not only is a conversation possible, one may even capture the spirit in a video or photo. Some people stick to this theory of the nature of ghosts because they seem to accept it as proof of life after death.
2) Another theory is that high impact events are recorded in the surroundings where those events take place. The recording is then replayed—so to speak—over and over, but can only be seen by people who have retained the sensitivity. This could manifest as the actual seeing of the apparition, but it could also take the form of recurring smells or sounds. The recording consists of a very strong emotion or violent event. As this is only a recording of an event, it makes sense that there can be no interaction with the ghost as such. This is what is called a residual haunting. A poltergeist is attached to a place or house, or even a single room in a house, and doesn’t respond to the people occupying the space. Poltergeist means noisy ghost, because they are known to throw things around and make sounds.
3) A third theory of what ghosts are, states that they are naturally occurring electromagnetic events. We all leave impressions on the places we visit during our lives. So, one place could have the impressions of many people who visited it over time. I’m not sure if these impressions would be interpreted as ghosts, though.
4) Similarly, there is a theory that ghosts are actual people living in parallel dimensions that overlap our dimension for a time. I suppose one must consider all options, but this one seems unlikely to me.
5) And the theory that ghosts live only in the imagination would seem to satisfy only those who have lost their ability to perceive.
Whatever the nature of ghosts, I believe they are there, whether one accepts them or not. And remember, if you don’t believe in the existence of such spirits, you stand a much better chance of being visited by one.