In this second installment of my Creatures of Darkness I tackle my second favorite creäture of darkness–ghosts. Now I’m a firm believer in the existence of the supernatural/paranormal as anyone who reads my blog knows yet I’m not one to jump at shadows. Spirit orbs are too easy to explain in the majority of photos (dust particles, insects, rain, snow, humidity), shadow play can cause the bravest person to be caught off guard, and noises are often something as simple as rodents in the rafters or old pipes rattling in the walls. That doesn’t mean there are no such things as ghosts; it simply means we have the tendency to want to believe in something beyond this life too much. We’re blinded by an all too human need to believe in our continued existence beyond this mortal coil, something greater than ourselves.
Long before Hollywood existed, stories were told around the fire by the mystics, elders and shamans of primitive society about the dead returning. Perhaps they were simply stories told to warn their people of what lurked in the dark wilderness beyond the ring of light and warmth that fire provided; a circle of protection from the wild animals prowling the night. Or maybe there was more to it than warnings. We may never know the truth of what our ancestors knew about the human soul and what existed beyond the grave–if anything. As we’ve evolved we’ve tried to leave behind the paranormal in the wake of scientific discoveries, explaining away so many of boogie men who haunted the daily lives of our ancestors, yet some part of our psyche still believes there exist things we can’t explain away with science.
Growing up I heard the stories of the old hill folk who resided in the Ozark Mountains where I was born. The majority of families in the area were of English, Scottish, and Irish decent and they’d brought with them from the old country the stories, legends, and superstitions of a culture that went back thousands of years. Once they settled the area they embraced part of the native culture as well. There were tales of black dogs and banshee who were harbingers of death and then there were the stories of spirits returned from the grave, unable to rest for any of a thousand different reasons. These ghost stories fascinated me as a child and made me wonder about the afterlife. I was ravenous when it came to reading about spirits, the lore behind them, and wanting to know everything I could learn. One major reason I became obsessed was my own experiences and those my mother told me about from her own life and my grandmother’s as well.
Spirits were there always for a reason, even if we had no idea what the reason might be. They ranged from those who died so sudden or young they refused to accept they were no longer of this world to those who sought justice or revenge for what they believed were wrongs committed either against them or their loved ones. There were tales of murders committed where the murderer went free and his victim/s refused to rest until the truth was discovered. Other stories told were more outrageous.
For example the local abandoned house within sight of my childhood home. An old Victorian farmhouse built by a family by the name of Boggs who by the time I was born no longer were in the area. As a small child I could only see the peak of the roof peeking above the treeline of the woods where it sat, the trees thick up to our property line. As I grew older property owners cleared away the trees and hand dug wells surrounding the house were fenced-off to keep cattle from falling in them. My younger brother and I used to play there even being brave enough to wander into the old house and explore. The locals spoke of mysterious graves in the basement, a human shaped chimney, and even mysterious lights seen through the long broken windows. There was even talk of a sub-basement beneath the main basement. As a child I wanted so badly to see these oddities and even perhaps a ghost.
Unfortunately, none of the tales panned out. The graves were simply mounds of dirt left from when the original basement had been dug, there were multiple chimneys, but they were normal and the supposed sub-basement was yet another well which happened to be in the basement. Although disappointed we nevertheless continued to explore the old abandoned house throughout our childhood. Sadly all that remains of the old Boggs House are my memories and a painting my brother did in high school. This now long gone house was an inspiration for one of the major locations of my novel Blood Noir published in 2008 by Dark Roast Press which is no longer available although I hope to get it picked up by a new publisher in the future.
My love of the supernatural (in particular ghosts) though grew and soon I was exploring through a variety of movies and books. Hollywood has instilled fear in an ever-changing population who automatically assume ghosts are evil and unnatural. In my opinion there is nothing unnatural about the idea of ghosts and although I’ve had experiences that have caused me discomfort I wouldn’t say every spirit out there is evil. It is my belief that ghosts, spirits, and spooks no matter what we chose to call them are just human souls who are either confused, lost, or chose to stay behind for as yet unexplained reasons. If we believe a human has a soul then by default we should believe in spirits on some level because the majority of paranormal encounters are with what were once human beings.
Being a natural sensitive I know they are there. I can sense their energy and even communicate with them on some basic level through a process I have a difficult time explaining to others. I’m not frightened of them, but on occasion they can be quite annoying and bossy especially when they have something to communicate. I’ve accepted what I can do and for me it is proof that once we leave this reality there is something else awaiting us. A world where we communicate not verbally, but rather through images and emotions. A world where if we allow ourselves we can leave behind the emotional and physical pain of the world of flesh and exist in harmony with the universe.