Mckay and I are pretty excited about the Finger Food this week because Diane Student of the History Goes Bump Podcast agreed to guest author this weeks article. Diane has been tremendously helpful to us and we are excited to have her as guest contributor to the website. Diane is a very talented woman and you can find her podcast HERE.
Ghosts. They are a controversial subject and something one does not typically bring up in polite company, similar to politics and religion. But I have found that if you are in conversation with just one or two people in a corner of a room somewhere - away from the main party - once you mention ghosts, the floodgates will open. Normally, people will not share a haunting experience they have had due to a fear of being thought of as crazy. Once they hear that you might be a true believer, they are all too willing to share and pick your brain about theories.
Ghosts and the unexplained started early in life for me. I was always that one kid with my head stuck in a “Mysteries of the Universe” Time-Life Collection or checking out books from the Fortean section of the library. And no, there was no real Fortean section in my local library, but I knew where to find all the weird stuff. I enjoyed Halloween far more than was probably healthy and not just because of the load of candy I hoped to obtain. I did my own make-up and enjoyed scaring other kids. I put those sentences in past tense, but who am I kidding? I still love Halloween more than is healthy, I still do my own make-up and I love to scare any little kids above the age of seven when they come to my yard on Halloween night.
My first unexplained experience came as a teenager. My sister and I were watching a scary movie on a weekend night when my folks were out of town. Halfway between Jason jumping out of a closet with a machete and Freddie Krueger slashing some sex crazed teenager with his finger blades, we heard the padding of a dog’s paws across the linoleum floor in the adjoining dining area. This would not normally be a startling experience except for the fact that we did not currently own a dog, nor had we ever. I remember glancing at my sister to see if she heard it too and she was looking back at me with eyes wide as saucers. We confirmed with each other that we had both heard a dog. We would certainly have been amusing for the casual observer to watch, as we crept to where we could look into the dining area. We saw nothing, of course.
So what did we hear? Was it our overactive imaginations playing with us as we watched a scary movie? Was there a ghost dog walking around the house looking for scraps? We will never know. How could we? Science has tried for decades, perhaps even centuries, to prove the existence of the human spirit after death. Parapsychologists and ghost hunters have all used ever changing devices and tests to capture evidence. Some believe they have. But in a world where the scientific method requires corroborating a theory by having it repeat itself over and over in a controlled environment, proving that ghosts exist is an impossibility. But grab a couple people at a party and ask them if they believe in ghosts and many will claim that they do, at least in part. That topic of religion that is as taboo as the topic of ghosts, lends itself to some people believing in spiritual existence after we die. Spiritual people believe that there is a soul that continues on after death. Is this what a ghost is, just a soul after death wandering around aimlessly looking for the door to Heaven or Nirvana? Why do they seem to just stay in one place and say really weird, incoherent things on tape? And what’s with the poking people? I thought that was just supposed to be a Facebook thing. What if ghosts aren’t really human spirits or any kind of spirit? What if this is some kind of time slip phenomena? Or some kind of crossing of dimensions? It all gets very science fiction when trying to explain something that goes bump in the night and is not seen.
So, do I believe in ghosts? I always say that I’m an open-minded skeptic. I’m open to the possibility, but even after having quite a few unexplainable experiences, I’m not ready to declare that what I have experienced is a ghost. The Spiritualists of the Victorian Era and the ghost hunters on reality television have made it hard on those of us that take this kind of stuff serious. We do not want to appear silly or crazy. I have almost reached that age where I do not worry much about what people may think of me. And I’m getting closer to that point in life where one really starts considering what happens next. Whether I get a punch card into Heaven or get to aimlessly roam the hallways of my home after death, the one thing I hope for, is that some part of me continues.
So when people ask if you believe in ghosts or if seeing or feeling a ghost would scare you, consider what you think a ghost may be and you more than likely will not be afraid. For me, ghosts symbolize hope and that cannot be a bad or scary element. But I do admit, a full-bodied apparition would get me to run, just like Scooby Doo.