Ghost: A Definition Expanded
During this investigation the investigators were being investigated.
1. the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined,usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.
When I was little, I watched this television show called “That’s Incredible.” It was made up of segments that showed amazing stunts, highlighted advancements in medicine and, on occasion, aired stories about paranormal activity. One segment in particular captured my imagination and stayed with me through the years. The story was about a historic inn where the employees heard old-fashioned music, the clinking of glasses, talking, and other sounds that made it seem like there was a party going on. All this occurred in the late evening/early morning hours when most people were asleep or when the inn was vacant. The place was investigated and the sounds were captured on tape. This was the first time I heard about “residual haunting.” Dubbed “The Stone Tape Theory,” the investigators believed that the sounds were emanating from the structure and/or its foundation, and originated from the 1700’s when the in was first built. What employees and residents were hearing was history literally repeating itself.
I had seen movies and shows and I had heard stories about ghosts before. But something about this story in particular intrigued me. It captured my imagination. While the interest in the supernatural was always there, this was the story that made me want to become a paranormal investigator. The idea of witnessing what had happened hundreds of years before was the most amazing possibility I could imagine.
As much as it intrigued me, it bothered me too. Up until that point I had always assumed that ghosts were intelligent spirits of the dead. But this report was telling me ghosts were actually just recordings of the past; organized energy trapped in wood and stone leaking out and allowing us a glimpse at how things used to be. It conflicted what I thought I knew.
As my quest for answers expanded, I learned that ghosts were thought to be both. Some were intelligent and some were simply a recording of the past trapped in objects, structures or minerals. It wasn’t until I began investigating them regularly that I started to suspect that the definition of the word “ghost,” even in its duality, was incomplete. But have we come across enough information from our investigations to flesh the definition out? Here’s what I have managed to put together for myself.
For me, there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. Hence the heading! Simply put, a spirit has fully transitioned to “the other side” whereas a ghost is caught somewhere in the middle. Generally, a full transition to the spirit world implies that the soul has left the body and has been welcomed back into the loving arms of those who have gone before them. I believe they are welcomed back into the fold of greater energy. This greater energy could be referred to as one god or many gods. Regardless, the work we are born to do here on Earth, is continued on “the other side.” We are not dormant in between lifetimes.
I know that not everyone believes in reincarnation. And I know that many people get immediately butt-hurt at the mere mention of many gods. So if it makes you feel better to think that when we die, we transition to “heaven,” fine. The point is, that when we make a full and proper transition, we are conscious of the freedom we have from our bodies. We are aware of the difference between this world and the next. We can watch over and even communicate with our loved ones until they are ready to make their own transition.
Many people experience visits from loved-ones passed. My mom, who died in 2002, visits me all the time. Spirits can come to us visually or audibly. They can appear in our dreams or send us signs that will make us think of them. They can even interact with the physical world. These things, the reality of which is still thought of by many as debatable, are not figments of our imaginations or a desperate attempt to comfort ourselves over our losses.
Are they haunting us? Technically, I guess the answer is yes. However, the connotation of the word implies that the activity is creepy or unwanted; a bunch of crazy-making experiences perpetrated by some unfamiliar and freaky being. And I suppose that assumption is understandable if it is happening to someone who is unaware that it is a loved-one trying to say “Hey! What up?” But a spirit who is trying to communicate with you generally has your best interest at heart (even if you aren’t aware of it) and, hopefully the activity reflects that.
A residual ghost is exactly what I described in the introduction to this post. It is a recording of the past that, under the right circumstance(s) plays itself back. Some are thought to replay at a certain time of day or a certain time of year. Some are triggered by people who have the right combination of attributes including psychic ability or stress level. This theory behind residual haunting is colloquially referred to as “The Stone Tape Theory.”
The important distinction is that the phenomena is benign. You can experience it, but it can’t experience you. It is like a psychic video tape. It behaves the same regardless of whether or not you are there.
Captured during an investigation at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca, this loud bang was recorded in the bow of the ship on what we later realized was the anniversary of the day she plowed through her wartime escort the Curacao leaving over two hundred men to perish. Later, we found out that this type of noise had been reported numerous times in this section of the ship. It was thought to be the residual sounds of the crew of the Curacao banging on the hull of The Queen Mary with their wrenches as their ship was torn in half.
Here’s where things get tricky. Intelligent ghosts linger, as far as we know, in a state of neither here nor there. They are entities who did not make a full transition after death. Perhaps this means that their world is some combination of our classical world, and whatever lies beyond.
Thinking about how and why this may happen brings forth so many questions! I mean, the thought of existing “in between” anything feels foreign. We are predisposed to “achieving” or “accomplishing.” The state of being “stuck” makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps that is why the thought of becoming a “ghost” is so frightening to so many people.
Like spirit, ghosts can affect the classical world. The motivation behind the communication is where they differ. When an intelligent spirit interacts with or “haunts” us, it is because ~they~ need ~us~ to know or do something for them. When spirit communicates with us, it’s because they want to express love or let us know they are still with us. It is something they do for us.
Though the motivation for ghostly communication appears selfish, that selfishness is not necessarily a negative thing. One of our favorite ghosts, the ghost of a man named William Erik Stark, most commonly communicated with us by growling. But early on I decided not to assume he was a negative entity. Instead, I found his “grumpiness” funny. When he started picking on Jamie, it made me cackle. Now before you get mad at me for being mean, let me explain what I mean by “picking on.” Stark learned early on that he could pull Jamie’s hair and, by pulling her hair, I mean just yanking at a couple of strands at a time. You have to see it in person, but Jamie’s reaction is hilarious.
When it first started happening, she blamed her husband Brian which only added to the funny. Anyway, over time, and many investigations, we realized that Stark wasn’t a bad guy. He just didn’t want to be bothered. After all, the place he resides is known for its many tourists. And those tourists are often not respectful to Stark’s beloved abode. I think over time he grew bitter and assumed that we were just like the scores of assholes that drunkenly roamed his home. At least, that’s what he assumed until we proved him wrong.
Now, he communicates with us all the time. He watches over us in much the same way as he watches over some of the ghosts he shares his home with. And now, he has no problem pulling my hair. It doesn’t hurt. He’s just playing. And it lets us know he’s there.
It’s understandable that people assume ghosts are negative, or scary, or even evil. Interacting with someone you don’t know is nerve-wracking enough without the added fact that they cannot be seen. But “ghosts” are neither good nor evil. The term “Ghost” describes a state of being. It is the motivation behind the ghost that is positive or negative and that must be studied on a case by case basis just like we do with the living. We must remember that ghosts are simply human souls minus the machine (body). Or..are they?
Is the explanation of an intelligent ghost as simple as a soul that, for some reason, is trapped between our world and the next? Perhaps, in some cases, it is. But I suspect there may be other explanations. Maybe there are times when the intelligent energy that “haunts” us is but a fragment of what once was a whole soul. What if there are some people who, in life, experience events so poignant, that, as they transition in death, the part of their being that was the most deeply affected remains behind while the rest of the soul crosses over? After-all, once free of our bodies, we are nothing but an assembly of energy. Intelligent haunts suggest that we are in death the same as we were in life. This means that our personalities, our character traits, and our thoughts are part of our souls, and not just the outcome of firing neurons or brain chemicals.
Perhaps some events, such as the ones responsible for a traumatic death are so damaging to the psyche that an intelligent imprint of us is left behind which, in those instances, is only capable of focusing on the trauma. Take, for example, the Civil War soldier who is still wandering the battle field wondering what the hell happened. There are numerous evp recordings of soldiers who are still trying to figure out what is going on. Did the war end? We assume that an intelligent response to a question means that we are communicating with a whole complete consciousness. But what if it’s only a piece of that person left behind; the piece that is trapped in the traumatized emotional state?
But why would a piece of someone’s soul be left behind? Perhaps it is like when a branch from a tree dies and falls off. The tree still lives, but the branch is no longer nourished or able to grow. It doesn’t have the strength to stay with the tree and the tree no longer has a use for it. The tree is better off without the dead limb. Thankfully, dead tree limbs don’t wander around banging on things and expressing their constant distress. But maybe humans do?
While we are on the subject, I have to wonder: If the energy of the dead can cleave as or before “crossing over,” can the energy of the living do the same? Is it possible for us to haunt ourselves? It seems logical to assume that while we are here on Earth, our energies are contained within our bodies. We eat, sleep, travel, and affect the classical world all from within the skin we’re in. But those of us who are obsessed with looking more closely at ourselves and what lies beyond ourselves have seen proof that our energy radiates. It does not stop at the physical boundary of our bodies. Eastern religion has taught the many ways in which our energies mingle beyond the sensation of touch. And it is with these teachings that the western world is just beginning to catch up.
In Tibetan mysticism, it is believed that people create what are known as “Tulpas,” which are manifestations of intentions that take form in the ethereal plane. Once created, they can take on a life or sentience of their own growing stronger as belief in their existence expands. Also called, a “forced haunt,” there have been cases where reported activity was theorized to be the result of entities which sprang from urban legends and grew stronger from people’s fear of or belief in their existence.
From auras to that heavy feeling left in a room after a heated argument, energy takes up space. If it is possible for pieces of us to linger after death, it stands to reason, or, at the very least, should not be discounted, that pieces of us can be left behind while we are still alive. Whether these pieces are discarded subconsciously, or they separate because they stymie our growth, our souls as a whole are not necessarily absolute. If these pieces are discarded prematurely, is it not possible for them, in whatever intelligence they possess to want what all humans want; to be noticed or accepted? At the same time, if they are intelligent or possess their own consciousness, however limited, is it not also possible for them to be angry over their abandonment or lack of recognition?
While we are breaking down boundaries, it makes sense to mention the theory that those of us who find ourselves haunted by “ghosts” might very well be the ones haunting them. I know! It sounds pretty “out there.” But what if some of our interactions are occurring because, in some other reality or parallel universe, those who have died in our world, are still alive in another?
In 1954, a Princeton physics student by the name of Hugh Everett III began work on his dissertation: “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics,” which later evolved and gained popularity as “The Many Worlds Theory.” Boiled down, the theory asserts that every time a decision is made, the universe splits into enough realities to accommodate all possible choices. Hence, while in our reality we see that we have taken an umbrella to stay dry while we walk through the rain, there is another reality in which we did not touch that umbrella. Somewhere, out there, in another dimension, we are soaking wet.
I know. It’s a terrible example. It’s an almost irreverent simplification of a theory that broke through a glass ceiling which physicists had been bruising themselves on since the 1920’s. But if I started bombarding you with explanations of “superposition” and the argument over collapsing waveforms, this would very quickly become a different blog!
The point is that if Everett’s theory, or the other theories that have since evolved turn out to be true, then could some of our “ghosts” actually be embodied spirits that exist in parallel universes with which we come into contact due to some weird dimensional proximity? If that is the case, then that would mean the haunt is also the haunted.
Here is out watcher lightened up.
Ghosts have come a long way from corny images of floating sheets or semi-transparent beings drifting aimlessly in a darkened hall. From loved-ones visiting us from beyond, to pieces of ourselves somehow left behind, to other human beings living separate lives in separate dimensions, the understanding of the word “ghost” has grown deeper and more complex throughout the years. The question “Do you believe in…” is quickly becoming “What do you believe in?” And those who are daring enough to examine their own experiences and compare them to those of many others, are finding the word representative of childhood anecdotes to be much more fascinating than stories around campfires once led them to believe.
To view case files from some of our team’s past investigations please visit our website at www.EastValleyParanormal.com. We look forward to your visit and we’ll see you on the other side! This is Heather, signing off!