History, traditions

Ghosts, Goulies and things that go bump in the night

As children, we sat around a camp fire and told each other ghost stories. 
As we grew older, we forgot about such nonsense – or did we?

Ghost hunting has become serious business lately. Parapsychologists, Professional Ghost Hunters and the curious have new electronic toys to find those who are just a wisp of a glowing orb, full size specter, or simply felt but not seen.

Ghosts and spirits are a universal phenomenon and all cultures speak of such things.  From good spirits to evil demons, the stories do not waiver – the spirits exist. 

Ghosts are referenced in the bible and the laws found in Leviticus 19,31 tell us specifically not to consult with spirits.  Why would such a law be written if it did not have some factuality behind it? 

A spine chilling tale is found in I Samuel 28:15, Saul calls from the dead the ghost of Samuel.  Samuel appears as an apparition and says to Saul “Why hast thou troubled me, to bring me up?".  This story goes back thousands of years. 

From Egypt’s Valley of the Kings another story that right at the stroke of midnight you will see a chariot rocket past driven by a short man in an ancient Egyptian king suit and drawn by black horses.

Khufus's Pyramid - the ghost of Khufu comes out of the pyramid at midnight dressed in traditional Egyptian armor.

Asia too has recorded stories of ghost and probably the most famous is Pontianak.
This is perhaps the most frightening of all ghosts and ghouls of South East Asia. It is said that the pontianak is the spirit of a woman who died of childbirth. Sometimes she can look very beautiful, but most of the time she has razor teeth and stalks the night in search for men or pregnant women (it is said she could not bear the thought of other women being able to enjoy motherhood) to suck blood from (sometimes eat the flesh of babies ripped out from their mothers).

Prague, Czechoslovakia, there is a synagogue that escaped Nazi desecration – why?  Because of a golem that resides in the rafters, just out of sight.  You can hear it, but you will never see it. The story is that the first SS men who went in there came back out and they were in a state of shock at what they encountered.  Something so hideous the SS dared not to deal with it and the synagogue stands today.

England is purported to be the most haunted country in the world. From the empty shells of long abandoned abbeys to the very epicenter of
spirit manifestations – the Tower of London, the site of some of the most demonstrative deeds and grizzliest murders that the human mind could ever conceive.  Ann Boleyn is reported to walk a lonely path through the halls still wailing at her sentence of death by Henry the VIII, the man she loved so much.

Russia, one can see the faint specter of Ivan the Terrible walking a lone vigil through the Kremlin possibly in search of his wife and his son and tormented by the guilt of his own actions.

In Red Square, does one dare to approach the place of the skull on a foggy dark night?  The place where so many people’s lives were taken from them by a mad Tsar.

America, from the northeast, to Baja, there are more stories of the dead who still walk this earth.  The US White House is supposed to be haunted - those who have slept in the Lincoln bedroom tell stories of a knock at the door and there stands Abraham Lincoln in front of them. 

The ground of the Gettysburg battle field is said to have phantom units of the Armies of the South and the North lining up in position for a fight that happened 140 years ago.

A visit to the battle field of the Little Big Horn one gets the feeling they are not alone – something, perhaps the ghosts of Custer and his men still fight on.  One feels being watched by something that has no form - the ‘dead who still walk the earth’?  Or in the quiet and faint breeze can one still hear the gun fire of a hopeless and lost battle?

American Ghost Society Paranormal Investigations Outfitters (http://www.prairieghosts.com/detector.html) has a page full of special equipment that rounds out a ghost hunter’s tool box.  From a PERSONAL EMF ALARM, to a device that measures Alpha, Beta, Gamma and X-ray radiation and like other devices of this type, measures fluctuations in radiation which will point to a disturbance in spirit energy.

They also feature a series of books to get the ghost hunter well on his/her way to effective ghost hunting. 

Ghost Hunter's Tools/Equipment (http://www.geocities.com/supernatural_being20/equipment.html) gives a more complete list of the equipment one needs to be a profession ghost hunter.  The absolute minimum our intrepid hunters should have is: 
-Tape recorder
-strobe light
-flashlight
-camera
-tripod
-extra batteries
-knife
-thermometer (not for you, one that works outside or inside)
-extra film
-pen
-paper
-matches
-candles
-watch or stop watch (stop watch might be better)
-basic first aid kit
-a cell phone
-chalk
-compass
-clean containers or plastic bags
-electromagnetic field gauss meter
-movement sensor

A little holy water might not be such a bad idea either.

Getting started can be a bit confusing for we have expectations, but ghosts don’t abide by our expectations do they?  The Maryland Ghost & Spirit society tells the novice hunter how to get started and what to look for.

A sudden drop in temperature, fluctuations on your meter, a slight brush by an unseen force – or a quiet moan can all be part of the adventure in store for the ghost hunter. 

We even have Ghost hunting 101 found at http://www.ghosthunting101.com for those who want to ‘hunt’ where only the spirits dwell.  Their general tips tell us the best time to ‘hunt’ is between 9pm to 6am.  They also suggest the successful ‘hunter’ first look in these spots:
Cemeteries - The age of the cemetery doesn't matter but the older it is, the more time it has had to accumulate restless spirits.  Why cemeteries? Well there are theories such as they are portals to the other side or that some spirits are drawn to their former bodies. 
Schools - Schools and former sites of schools may have the build up of psychic energies and imprints of all the highly emotional events that have transpired there. 
Theaters - The actors have run the gambit of human emotions inside the walls of a theater plus many have interesting hauntings attached to them. 
Battlefields - These are great locations simply because of their nature.  Many violent deaths in one area will always hold some spirits and psychic energy there. 
Churches - There is a long history of the faithful returning to the church they worshipped at.   They may be looking for the salvation they were promised and cannot find. 
Hotels/Motels/Boarding houses - Many dark dealing and highly emotional events take places in these rooms. 
Historic Locations - Many historic buildings, because of their age, have had more time to have spirits attach to it.  These buildings are often open the public and can give you an easy place to start.  Many even have known histories of hauntings.  There is one hotel in Hollywood that is still frequented by Marylin Monroe.
More items for ghost hunting can be found at: Ghosthunterstore.com (http://ghosthunterstore.com). 

On a lone, dark, night you can read the testimonials of those who succeeded in filming, photographing or tape recorded the wandering spirits in action.  But read just enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck though.  Read on any more and you will be too afraid to turn off the lights – knowing ‘they’ are out there.  Just outside your door, just out of view, and they will be there when you turn out the lights.

What are ghosts?   Are they spiritual residue of people long dead who left this earth well before their time?  Are they the undead who choose to stay behind to torment the living?  Are they souls who are trapped in the very second of time that separate the day from the night?  Are they travelers who go back and forth between their dimension and ours?   Or are they all these things and more?   We do not know. 

From the night shadows do you hear your grandmother humming her favorite tune, or catch a whiff of her scent when you are in the twilight between awake and sleep?  Do our loved ones come back if just to see us? 

The Ghost hunter asks these same questions, but they have something most of us don’t have – stamina.  Not all ghosts are friendly, I hear.  There are those who mean us harm to avenge a wrong done to them hundreds of years ago. 

For those who’d rather wait before they embark on full ghost hunting, there is always the Ouija board.  A simple flat board with the alphabet and numbers on it, and with the use of a pointer (planchette), they ask questions of those in the spirit world.  Sometimes, the student of the Ouija gets answers back that are startlingly accurate.  You lay the board either on a table or the laps of two people sitting across from each other, the pointer is laid on the board, and the two participants lay their finger tips on the pointer and ask their question.  The pointer will move around for a bit as the spirit gets its bearings, and then it will spell out the answer.

One can also hold a sйance to communicate with the spirits. Legend tells that just before the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen, the boy king of Egypt, the benefactor of Howard Carter’s expedition, Lord Carnarvon, held a sйance in his home.  The voice of the long deceased Pharaoh asked that his rest not be interrupted and his tomb not entered.  Canarvan ignored the request, and the tomb was opened.

When the seal was broken, the team saw a small warning engraved in the stone.  “Death shall come on swift wings to all those who enter this tomb”.  Of the 19 members of the original team, only Carter survived.   Had the boy king’s spirit reached out and took revenge for the disturbance? 

On 08/18/2004, Pravda.ru ran a very interesting article called “Where ghosts live in Russia”.  For the Russian ghost hunter, the cities that have reported sightings are mentioned and this is fertile ground for our Russian counterparts. 
For the Russian who wants to read more, bolster your courage and visit “Vampire and Ghost Stories from Russia”.   http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/vampire.html
For the absolute strong of heart, a trip to Romania and a visit to the castle of Vlad the Impaler.  Dracula, as he was also known, is credited with stopping the Ottoman Empire in its tracks, single handedly.  As the angry Turks found their way through the winding passes of the mountains they were confronted by a dreadful sight – thousands of men impaled on stakes and left to die.  What kind of a monster could do this they asked, and they left.  One can still climb up to Castle Dracula, and if you listen very carefully you might hear the screams of Vlad’s victims.  But, I would not linger too long after sunset though as Vlad’s remains have never been found and the whispers still echo that he is still with us in spirit form. 
For those who’d rather stay at home and leave well enough alone, then let your better judgment be your guide.