Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year, Time Slipping

One of the mysteries related to ghosts is how it is that people occasionally appear to see events that happened many years ago, such as in a residual haunting. You see an event played out, but the players are unaware of your presence, and the event, which may be witnessed by many individuals at different times, seems like a taped event replaying over and over in a loop.

I once experienced hearing an explosion as I was touring a World War I French fort, Fort Douamont, near Verdun. The explosion sounded distant, yet it was very clear and I have no doubt about what I heard. About 30 feet down the hallway I was walking, I entered a room that had been partially sealed off. A wall had been built across it to entomb the men who had died there as result of an artillery explosion. Did I hear that same explosion approximately 100 years later? How is that possible? Does this have something to do with the nature of time?

Einstein said that time passes more slowly as you approach the speed of light, and that time for a person traveling on a train passes more slowly than for the person standing watching the train from the train station. Einstein also said that time travel was possible, but according to his theory of relativity, travel could only be in one direction: the future. Hence, people on a long space journey might return to find that 200 years had passed on Earth while they had only experienced the passage of two.

This doesn't seem to apply to what people witness in hauntings. Along with residual hauntings, which are not uncommon, there have been scattered accounts of time slips: people moving into the past and interacting with its occupants and then returning to the present. This is much more rare. In one well-known case, two British women, Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, visited the Palace of Versailles in 1901. They walked across the grounds to the Trianon, where they encountered and spoke to people dressed in clothes of the era of Marie Antoinette and may have seen her painting. It is also possible that they encountered people dressed up doing some kind of reenactment. However, in 1979, two British couples, the Simpsons and the Gisbys, driving in France on their way to Spain, spent the night in an old French inn with few amenities, oddly dressed people, bad coffee and cheap prices only to find, when they returned to the spot on their way home, that no such inn was currently in existence. The whole building was missing. However, since the photos they took there mysteriously disappeared from the roll of film, this one is also dependent on the word of the witnesses. Several people have reported slipping back to an earlier time in Bold Street in Liverpool, UK. In each case, the people eventually return to their current time. Click on the title of this post to read the article on time slips at Wikipedia.

None of these events can be explained by Einstein's theory of relativity in which time travel seems to apply only to the time distortion caused by space travel. There must be a solution to this puzzle of time. Perhaps string theory, which conceives time and events existing on strands of time that loop around and occasionally overlap. The philosophers may be right when they tell us that all time exists at the same time, past, present and future. In that case, the string of time we are standing on may occasionally intersect that of another and allow us to catch a glimpse or a snippet of sound from long ago or even to step briefly into the past.

However one part of Einstein's theory seems to be true. No one has ever heard of a ghost haunting before its own death. If time flowed backward, a ghost could go back in time and warn its human host to avoid the event that lead to its death. No, all of the hauntings seem to take place in the future, at least as far as the ghost is concerned. Perhaps what seems like a hundred years to us, is only moments to him. There may be something to Einstein's theory after all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Empty Seats at the Table

This Christmas season my mind is on empty seats at the table. Since last Christmas both my husband and I have had our fathers pass on to the next world. My father-in-law spent the last three years of his life in a nursing home, and his wife passed long before him, so the table at which he might have sat for Christmas dinner is long gone, but my mother recently commented that this would be her first Christmas without my father. I can't help but wonder if he made a quiet, unnoticed appearance there at her table. The good news is that there were other family members there, so the chairs around the table were full. If he did come back, Perhaps he sat at the organ, where he used to sit and practice hymns, and watched his family around the table from across the room.

This all leads to what is really on my mind and that is ghosts that come back, not because they are attached to people and want to check in on the family left behind, but those that are attached to places and the things that they have left behind. A friend of mine owns a house that contains three apartments, and it seems that the ghost of a man is occasionally seen. His description matches that of the man who built the house. He appeared in one instance to an elderly woman who was living there with her granddaughter. He seemed surprised to see the old woman and asked her what she was doing there. This ghost appears to be lost, living in the house he built, mostly unaware that others are the real occupants. This story is not unique, of course. Many people report having to talk to their resident ghosts and win their agreement to allow them to cohabitate the premises.

I have to quote a Bible scripture, which is also a truism: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. ... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In the case of ghosts, it appears that those who have treasured their earthly possessions too strongly, may find it hard to leave them behind. Talk about the old ball and chain. There's a lesson here for all of us.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Badd Apple Club

I was called a "bad apple" recently by a crazy mermaid who likes to lop off people's heads This is not the sweet little mermaid of song and Disney cartoon. Think the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, the one who was always yelling, "Off with their heads!"

The definition of a bad apple is a person of low morals who corrupts the good apples all around. But, we all know from experience that the bad apple is often just an independent-thinking person who stands up for what he or she believes in the face of an entrenched majority or someone in a position of authority. The bad apple may be the one who blows the whistle on corruption or turns in the brother-in-law who is selling drugs. Bad? It's all in your point of view. Should we all toe someone else's line just so they can stay in their comfort zone and feel like they are in charge? Wouldn't the world be more peaceful if we would all just behave?

Nah, I can't do it. I gotta be me.

So, I'm starting the Badd Apple Club. It already has four members, the crazy mermaid's "bad apples." The misspelling is deliberate. After all we know we aren't really bad. And the lesson is this, when someone tries to hurt you by calling you names, take the name and wear it with pride. It will piss off your enemies. Maybe you'd like to join the club. Are you a Badd Apple?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let Nothing Disturb You

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

I share this now because there is a lot of evil in the world, and I assume that what exists in our world, exists also in the spiritual world. Whoever and whatever we become during this life, whether we become loving and caring individuals or become spiteful, petty and selfish, we will carry with us when we pass. So, assuming that there is life after death, and that is my assumption, there may be spirits out there that would like nothing better than to mess with people's minds.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation where you are confronted with an evil presence, but if you do, start by believing in the power of God. I strongly believe that nothing can harm me as long as I believe that I am his (Or hers, if you prefer, but I think that the loving power that unites the universe is way past having sex organs. I shall use the male gender to refer to this great intelligence, because his or her just sounds silly and I'm not about to refer to God as it.). I always go back to that scene in the first Star Wars movie, when Darth Vader is flying down the trench behind the three Rebel pilots. In each case, he is only able to shoot them when they start to panic and let their mental guard down. They start feeling vulnerable. Luke, our hero, of course is strong in the force (and saved by Han Solo, but that's another story . . . ).

The point is not to let your guard down. Do not go messing about with spirits unless you have a strong sense of self and a strong central personal core. Ghost hunting is not for the emotionally unstable. Here's another movie metaphor: remember that scene in Independence Day when the big space ship is hovering over Los Angeles and the nutters go up to the top of a big building right under the ship to WELCOME THE ALIENS? I hope you remember what happened to them. They were the first ones turned into toast when the ship opened fire. Do not open yourself up to the spirits and invite them to come in. There are some people who are born mediums that learn how to do this without losing themselves in the process, but you might not be so gifted.

Ghost hunting may be de rigeur today and popular on TV, but Buffy the vampire slayer won't around to kick the butt of whatever evil spirit you might awaken, so don't step into the unknown on a lark. If you are serious about ghost hunting, do research. Try to find a serious group in your area. (BTW, if their website has a bunch of photos of "orbs" and smoky-looking mist, look for a different group.) Do not go ghost hunting on your own, or with anyone who's been drinking. Heck, use some common sense!

Be sure that you surround yourself with the white light of love that is the universe's gift to you and believe in its power to protect you. You should do that every day, anyway.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

Notice how Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier each year? Now, it looks like Halloween may become a year-round business. I mentioned in my first post on this blog that ghosts and ghost hunting have become big business. If you click on the link under the title of this post, you will be able to read about a haunted house in Texas that used to run from October-November, but is extending its run into December with a Christmas version headed by a grinch named Creep Cringle and a rogue elf. I heard on the radio yesterday that the USA has fewer manufacturing jobs than in 1950. We are building less and less in America. That's bad on many levels, but people need jobs and I suppose even haunted house theme parks provide jobs, and since divorced dads and tourists seem to need a fun place to take the kids on the weekends, more power to these folks.

Monday, December 3, 2007

To Forum or Not To Forum

Whether 'tis wiser to share with strangers on the web or stick to telling your ghost stories to friends and family at home.

While studies show that at least half of us believe in ghosts, there are not many people in my experience who want to talk about them, and most people are hesitant to open up about their experiences in front of co-workers, for example, because they don't want to be ridiculed behind their backs or not taken seriously in other areas of their lives. There are probably many people out there who were like me for years, privately interested in the subject, but with no one to talk to about it.

If you go into a forum with clear vision and reasonable expectations, it can be fun and informative, but don't expect too much. Forums are made up of people and we all know what people are like!

When I first joined a ghost topic forum, it was fun, but frustrating, because most members were unquestioning believers, downright starry-eyed, and I was a questioning believer looking for proof. It occasionally became a collision of contrasting views, between faith and science, as though the two views were irreconcilable. I finally found another group that leaned more toward analysis, but even there tempers sometimes flared between strong personalities and there was pressure to constantly vote for the site so that it could get noticed and get awards (which are totally made up, meaningless, and given out en masse by other groups also wanting to get their names noticed and move up in the lists).

Forums allow you to express yourself as anonymously as you wish. You make up a username. You can even put out a sexy photo of an elf or fairy princess or a crazy kitty that looks nothing like you, so it's a little like playing dress up and make believe. This is also a drawback, because you have no idea what anyone is really like, and it takes a while to get to know people through their posts, and even then you can't tell if they are being sincere or not. Most forums allow for PMing (Private Messaging) so the same person who is being sweet to you in the public thread may be saying nasty stuff behind your back. Remind you of high school?

Forums are quick to welcome new faces, so you are assured a friendly, even effusive welcome, and it can be nice to experience the friendliness of near strangers after a rough day at work or when you are feeling under-appreciated by your family. It's amazing how much you can have in common with people halfway around the world from you. I've seen genuine friendships form, but I've also experienced cattiness and that whole clique thing that was so annoying in high school.

Forums, especially about paranormal topics, such as ghosts, attract all kinds, from the skeptical to the gullible, from the sane to the emotionally unstable, from those who take it much too seriously to those who join to heckle. Forums are about expressing opinions, and you know how people are about their opinions. If you are the kind of person who has to be agreed with, don't join a forum. Be a bore around the water fountain at work or the dinner table at home. Don't take it online. If you are open-minded and can accept that others are not going to agree with you without getting upset or doing a Ruby, then you may do okay, unless of course, you run into a Ruby.

My advice? Choose your forum carefully and keep some emotional distance. Observe for a while; read what others post; see if the kinds of topics covered fit your areas of interest and if the opinions posted reflect intelligence, respect and common sense on the part of the community members. Don't wear your heart on your sleeve or believe that people on the web are any different that the people in your real world. Practice the Golden Rule and hope that others will do so, and remember to be kind even to those who are not kind to you. (Easier to advise than to practice, I know!) And you aren't joining a cult or a religion, so if the forum proves not to be a good fit, it's easy to move out and move on to something else. You could even try blogging!

Final word: Beware of sharing personal information. The Internet is a public place. Nothing is private once it has been put online.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spooky action at a distance

All things by immortal power,
Near or far,
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.

Francis Thompson

I ran across this poem three times on the Internet today, first at the bottom of the preface to Dean Radin's book Entangled Minds, then in reference to the recent popular movie, Stardust, and in a novel by Madeline L'Engle. I can see how it has captured the imagination, but what does it mean?

In a nutsell, the universe is all connected at the microscopic level of elementary particles. And for more information about that, click on the link under the title of this post. I'm reminded of a book I read many years ago about the healing power of light being based on the fact that when you get down to the subatomic level we are all light. The whole universe is light. When God said, let their be light, he was saying let there be everything!

What does this all have to do with ghosts? It's all about being connected, about, as the poem says, being linked together and being beings of energy. Perhaps for this reason our loved ones who have passed on are sometimes able to make themselves known to us, poltergeists are able to rattle the pans, and events from long ago are able to reenact themselves with us as their new audience.

The title of this post comes from Albert Einstein, who once referred to quantum physics as "spooky action at a distance."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Birthday to Spookannie

This year on my birthday I am grateful
a. to be alive for another year; hooray for the beating heart and the healthy lungs; you go guys!
b. friends; it only takes a few.
c. my house is not haunted; I think. There was that funny pile of ashes we found on the dining room table last December (and we don't have a fireplace, and I still haven't found an explanation for that door I heard open a few months ago, but hey, if that's all that happens, I can live with it!)
d. my dogs; they love me for the price of a dog biscuit now and then.
e. my husband; he loves me and I don't even give him dog biscuits.
f. my kids; there is room for improvement;
they cost a lot more than dog biscuits.
g. my life; it is good; I am grateful.
If today were your birthday,
what would you be giving thanks for?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

T.A.P.S. on the air

I was just getting ready to write a post lamenting the wooden, stilted, filtered and sanitized dialogue on Ghost Hunters, when I discovered that Jason and Grant are going on the radio in an uncensored format. I hope they are allowed to show more personality than they are permitted on the show. They seem like very nice guys, but those fake plumbing scenes and the conversations around the table are so canned, it's annoying. It's like watching the Stepford Wives do ghosthunting. Again, don't get me wrong. I like them. I like the show, but why oh why, do they have all those artificual conversations, like the ones on walkie-talkies just before they arrive at the investigation site about what they expect, as though this hasn't been discussed prior to their setting out (sometimes across the whole country)?

So, what was I saying? They are going on the radio. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say in a less structured environment. They have done a lot for bringing a level of professionality and objectivity to the field. I bet they know more than they are saying (on the TV show).

Click on the title of this post to take you to the T.A.P.S. website and information about the new radio show.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our Fascination with Ghosts

Whether an episode of TAPS, a haunted tour of a city in a trolley bus with a tour guide, or an overnight investigation in a haunted location, ghost hunting is big business. Suddenly businesses and historic buildings, instead of hiding their ghosts in the closet, are bringing them out of hiding and broadcasting their existence on network television in an effort to bring in more customers, bring in the tourists. You don't have to wait till Halloween to enjoy the "fun" of being scared under controlled conditions.

Everyone wants to catch a ghost on film (speaking metaphorically) and provide the ultimate proof to convince the skeptics. Fuzzy photos, blown up so much the individual pixels can be seen are all over the net, usually with the ghostly figure circled and with an arrow pointing to it. This is necessary, since the images are not really visible and once pointed out, generate wildly different opinions as to what is being seen. Orbs were popular for a while, but people are finally catching on to the fact that they are just dust and moisture caught in the camera flash while flying too close to the lens. Similarly, camera straps and long hair create brightly lit examples of alleged ectoplasm. Does this mean there aren't any real captures of real ghosts on the net?. No, I believe there are some good examples out there, but one has to filter through a lot of dubious claims to find them.

The good thing is that more people are talking about their experiences and sharing them with a wider audience. When you consider that many of their experiences involve a loved one who has passed on and is attempting to communicate, this is a positive development. Some ghosts stick around a place they loved and end up being the unexpected co-resident who thinks of everyone else as house guests. Some stories bring a tear to the eye and a warm feeling to the heart. Others are incredibly sad, when you realize their ghosts are wayward spirits who have been unable to escape reliving terrifying events. Others are harrowing, since there are unhappy spirits who may wish to harm those still living. The house ghost, the visit from grandpa or your favorite aunt, or a child who died before his time - these are usually nothing to be afraid of, and if approached calmly can be good for everyone involved. The malignant or nuisance spirits, these need to be dealt with or avoided.

Halloween is about wearing costumes. Ghost hunting is about interacting with real persons whose bodies are gone, but whose spirits and personalities linger. If you are interested, there is plenty of information on the net on the different kinds of hauntings, how to go about trying to spot a ghost or contact a spirit and how to get rid of one; how to protect yourself; what kind of equipment is helpful. Watch for posts on these various topics . . . as I grow this blog, I will be adding helpful information on every topic I can think of related to ghosts, ghost hunting and all things ghost-related.