Do You Believe in Ghosts?

It’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to jack o’ lanterns and spookiness, ghosts and goblins and all things that go bump in the night.

And, of course, candy. Don’t forget the candy.

For me this time of year is really just an excuse to delve more deeply into something that has always fascinated me . . . questions about ghosts and the paranormal.

Do you believe in ghosts? It’s a complicated question in this somewhat pessimistic era, where people demand proof of everything before they will believe (except, of course, those who are able to devoutly believe in religion without questioning–something I am not really able to do).

In some ways I think it was easier to live in a time when everyone believed in the unexplained, because they had no way of proving anything differently. For example, the roots of Halloween are based on the Celtic belief that

on the night before the new year, [which for them was November 1] the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.(http://www.history.com/topics/halloween)

Nobody questioned the existence of spirits them, because spirits helped explain away the challenges they faced throughout the year.

Despite the fact that we tend to be more cynical, it seems like questions about the paranormal still haunt many of us, and provide hours of entertainment. Television shows like Ghost Hunters have inspired the creation of numerous ghost hunting adventures, as well as a variety of other paranormal based television shows and movies. If you do a Google search for videos about ghosts or paranormal or anything related, you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of clips, many completely fake but a few that leave you questioning. I admit, I do this often because of my own fascination.

Do I believe in ghosts? I’m not sure I can answer. When I was younger, I could sense shifts in energy that left eerie feelings inside me. I’ve met many people who still seem to have an intense connection with spirit. In some ways, I recognize that believing in ghosts serves a psychological purpose, but I am just as fascinated by that psychology as the question of whether or not ghosts are real. Why do we want them to be so much?

And of course, I have had  several experiences that leave me open to the possibility:

  • One Wednesday evening when we were children, my sister and I (and maybe my brother, I don’t remember) used the Ouija Board (which I will no longer touch because of this incident) and were supposedly talking to the spirit of my grandmother. When we asked where Grandpa was, the response said, “Out dancing.” Further inquiry led to the name of a specific dance, that I cannot recall. Later, in discussion with our mother, we learned that Grandpa used to go out every Wednesday to do that dance. Now, my sister might have been old enough to remember that, but I certainly wasn’t. You decide.
  • Around the time the mini-series The Holocaust (1978) came on, I immersed myself in reading everything I could find about this horrific event in history. I was in Hebrew School and was immersed in my own Judaism at the time, so that isn’t surprising. I read, and read, and read. That is, until one morning when I lay awake in my bedroom and saw  a pile of skulls and dead bodies lying across the room. Yes, I know it was probably just my mind making visual sense of all the words I read, but it was eerily real and scary enough that I did not pick up another book about the Holocaust for years.
  • There was the night in college when several of us decided to sneak into the theatre building and spend the night on the stage. Every theatre has its ghosts, and this one was no exception. Let’s just say I didn’t sleep well that night, and it had nothing to do with the security guard that surprised us at one point (but let us stay because he knew many of us had keys anyway).

Perhaps these aren’t the most convincing ghost experiences, but the feelings I get sometimes in ancient places are enough to make me unsure of what I believe. My fascination carries over into books I choose to read, not horror fiction but non-fiction that explores the topic from believers to skeptics. I just finished reading The Medium Next Door by Maureen Hancock. She shares her experience as a “Real-Life Ghost Whisperer”, but her book does more than that, it helps explore the reasons behind this need to believe in ghost. It offers an explanation of why ghosts exist. She explains that our souls are here for a designated time and then move on, leaving our physical bodies behind like a “used car.” She offers an understanding of death that can provide comfort to the living, and enables them to understand that death is not an end–without delving into any specific religious doctrine.

Because, after all, isn’t the question about ghosts really a hope to understand the meaning of life an death?

I may never truly know whether or not ghosts exist, or at least not until I am looking from the other side. I may never know if there are creatures from other planets, or magic is real. I may never know, but I’m okay with that, because the mystery adds spice to life. After all,

“There are more things in heaven and earth, . . . Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Shakespeare)

What do you think? Do you believe in ghosts?

For a fabulously creepy and wonderfully written  post that got posted as I wrote this, and supports the existence of ghosts read The Footsteps on the Stairs at She’s a Maineiac.

More stories keep cropping up now, so I will continue to add links to fabulous stories as I go.  Here’s one called “Serendipity, Coincidences or Lifes Small Miracles” by Georgette Sullins.

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taochild
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:32:40

    Yep I was there. And that was not the only freaky part of the session, though maybe the one that stands out the most 🙂

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:44:34

      Oh, add more details. I can’t remember anything else.

      Reply

      • Taochild
        Oct 15, 2011 @ 09:01:23

        I don’t recall the specifics. Seems to me there wer a couple of other details that we shouldn’t know. But that was the big one.

        Reply

  2. lifeintheboomerlane
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:37:05

    I’ve had so many unexplained experiences in my life that I’ve lost count. Now, when people ask me if I believe in ghosts or spirits or reincarnation or whatever, I say “I believe in my own experiences and what I directly observed. They have made me open to the stories I hear from others.” I did write a post about my experience with the Ouija board. Now, your post has given me an idea. I think I’ll write about the experience one of my closest friends had many years ago.

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:45:35

      I remember your Ouija Board post. I look forward to reading this next one. I love this stuff.

      Reply

  3. Barbarann Ayars
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:41:31

    The simple answer to your blog this morning is YES. Experience makes a believer. Living in a Victorian home brought with it a spirit watcher during restoration, who seemed only interested, without opinion, on my choices. Visiting an ancestral home in Derbyshire at Highlow Hall, notorious for its ghost, I, too, experienced her. She was visible but disappeared if you looked directly at her. She seemed to enjoy being in a room with living people but not as the center of attention. Was she a vicarious ghost? And more than once I have been pulled out of danger by what we tend to think of as angels. Experiencing “angels” is not a restful experience. Such beings have only appeared in times of great danger, These beings are huge in their presence. I have not “needed” an angel for several decades now, but I still tend to keep an awareness for them. My current home is devoid of spirits as is my life. That mmight have something to do with my working out my own story in memoir, no longer needing the distraction or the nudging. I simply don’t examine why I see things others don’t. What is, is.

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 08:49:25

      Fascinating. I’m glad you have angels watching over you. I love that you have been able to see things. I keep my eyes open and am always looking, although I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything so much as felt something.

      Reply

  4. Dana
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 10:54:31

    I keep an open mind and heart when it comes to spirits and the paranormal world. I have had a few sessions with a medium before, and the amount of details she provided to me would have been IMPOSSIBLE for her to know personally about me. It was completely uncanny. For the most part, I am not afraid of ghosts or spirits, but I am intensely curious about them and enjoy the sense of mystery they impart!

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 20:46:35

      I’ve only experienced a few psychic friends who surprised me with their readings. I’d love to go to someone who doesn’t know me at all. I love this stuff.

      Reply

  5. thelifeofjamie
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 11:24:47

    I don’t not believe in ghosts, but I have never had a ghost experience so I can’t say for sure whether I believe or not. I do think my cat sees things that I can’t and that is why he goes tearing through the house at Mach 10 and dives into walls.

    Reply

  6. bornstoryteller
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 12:05:06

    I do believe in ghosts/something beyond what we can see. Too many little things that just don’t add up to “house settling” and putting something on the edge/window opening stuff. Actually just took part in a writer’s research into this, and it should be a book sometime next year.

    So..yes. I have had three things happen, one very scary indeed (and that one was experienced by another person at the same time).

    Reply

  7. critters and crayons
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 12:21:36

    Lisa- As Halloween neared, I planned to write about an experience I had that many believe was an encounter with ghosts. I categorically do NOT believe in ghosts- but the story and the experience did make me question that for a time. I have since chalked it up to coincidence….will have to let you know when it runs so you can give me your opinion! I do believe in positive energy- in the sense that, we get back what we put out and that circumstances follow our actions and decisions, whether they are sound, wreckless, hurried, or planned through. Positive energy (or lack of it) is intertwined with our actions and we feel and experience the results. That’s my unqualified opinion. 🙂

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 20:43:39

      Perhaps ghosts are simply people who are sensitive to energy sensing it and making meaning of that surge of energy. I look forward to reading your post. Make sure you link it back here too.

      Reply

  8. countingducks
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 01:53:03

    This is the truth. What you say is exactly what I say. I sort of believe and don’t believe at the same time. Rationally I think it’s all nonesense and we are just on a rock wizzing round a slowly dying sun but emtionally I seem to hear every creak and shudder of the spiritual door, When I sleep alone I am a bit afraid of the dark, and when I’m wth my partner I couldn’t careless/ This Post is way above the everage found in Blgosphere. I wonder what you do in real life. Just brilliant ( and I don’t often say that)

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:29:39

      Thank you for the kind compliments. Sometimes I get freaked out, even with someone at my side, but it doesn’t happen often. 😉 But, I cannot sleep with a closet door open. Silly, I know, but I really can’t. (Now I have to though, because one of my dogs has decided that the closet is her safe place. I guess nothing can creep into the closet with a 50 lb. dog lying in there. 😀

      What I do in real life, is kind of complicated at the moment. A lot of that is on my about pages, but right now what I am doing is figuring out what I want to do with my life.

      Reply

  9. thehonestone
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 07:26:29

    Lisa I cannot say I don’t believe in ghosts, since I have never seen one. I believe in God and I have never seen Him too so thats a rather weak reason for not believing in ghost (I mean having not seen one).

    I personally would not want to see one though. I think it would freak me out completely. For that i am glad too that here in South Africa Halloween is not a big thing, so i never have to deal with my ghost issues ha ha ha

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:18:03

      I would imagine that South Africa would be a place full of spirits, not to scare you or anything. I think it is funny when very religious people scoff at this question for the reason you say, if you can believe in God without real proof, why not ghosts?

      Reply

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  11. Lunar Euphoria
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 10:56:10

    I believe ghosts dwell in the mind and imagination.

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 16, 2011 @ 10:58:11

      It’s possible that ghosts in the mind can have as much power as “real” ghosts.

      Reply

  12. Sparks In Shadow
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 16:51:50

    It’s always good to know one is not alone in having experienced these kinds of odd happenings. I don’t necessarily believe in the classic definition of ghosts, but I do believe that there are some ways that energy manifests itself, that we don’t understand yet. My daughter and I had a series of experiences that make no sense and can’t be explained logically, not even with creative logic. And I’m all for creative logic.

    Most of the time I’d really like to have answers instead of just questions about what happened, but then I do wonder if it’s better that I don’t. If I give up on finishing my present writing project by it’s November 1st deadline (I could just finish it on my own time and figure what to do with it later), then I might try to write up my weird experience in a post for Halloween.

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 16, 2011 @ 16:53:02

      Focus on your project, and I’ll look forward to your future spooky post. Good luck!

      Reply

  13. jeanne
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 22:21:32

    I will say this..I do believe in the spiritual realm…but ghost stories scare me so I do not like to go there. nuf said..thought provoking post, but I don’t want to go there. Ok nuff said.

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Oct 17, 2011 @ 08:38:38

      Sorry if I creeped you out. You may not want to read today’s post (although its really a positive one). 🙂

      Reply

  14. LittleMissVix
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 07:29:19

    I only had one moment when I wondered, seeing a cloacked figure in an alley although it may just have been a creepy human. We are definitely fascinated by what might happen in the afterlife and I think ghosts give some people comfort and yet they scare others. Bascially, we will never know as you say until we’re on the other side but the debate is fun!

    Reply

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  18. tricia driscoll
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 09:38:36

    Thanks for linking up at the Blog-O-Ween Story Blog Hop! The oija board story is pretty creepy and might have made me rethink my disbelief in ghosts if it happened to me!!!

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 09:53:00

      I won’t touch a ouija board now. I don’t know if its real, but better safe than sorry. 😉

      Reply

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