Tomorrow is Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, the day where our world and whatever notion of the afterlife/Veil/Fade you believe or don’t believe in are the closest.
I’m spending Halloween in Gettysburg with a friend and fellow history buff. We’ll picnic on the battlegrounds, roam about the adorable and historically significant town, and then we’re going on a ghost hunt (followed by a midnight showing of Crimson Peak). A ghost hunt you say? Yup. We’ll be given paranormal equipment and everything apparently. When she first asked me my immediate reaction was “oh god I’m such a chicken.”
I don’t do horror. The Shining has scarred me for over a decade. I scream at anything that jumps out at me. My sister use to have long hair and would stand outside my bedroom door as Samara from The Ring patiently until I opened it. Multiple times. I always fell for it. She’s probably still laughing at me. I scare easily. I made the mistake of watching the first season of Supernatural in the dark (it was freaking SCARY in the early days). I’ve watched ghost hunting shows… well parts of them, before having to change channels (either from being freaked out or laughing at the ridiculousness of it). The radio series I’m writing actually deals with ghost hunters, and I’m some sort of masochist because this involves a lot of me researching horrible hauntings and things, which just freak me out. Despite all this, the world of the “beyond” still intrigues me.
After having a rather enlightening discussion with this same friend about spirits, ghosts, and what we believed or didn’t, it got me thinking about what I actually thought about what happens to people (and animals) after passing on.
So I asked twitter and facebook if they believed in ghosts.
As expected, the answers were pretty evenly split. Just as much people think the idea of the existence of ghosts is rubbish as many claimed to have had their own experiences with the supernatural.
As for me? I’m one of those obnoxious people who isn’t quite sure. On one hand, I only believe in hard facts, things that science can prove. On the other hand, I’ve had more than one occasion where I’ve been unsure, that my gut is telling me something vastly different from my brain. I don’t know if I necessarily believe in spirits waltzing around with unfinished business, but I do think there can be remnants of someone left behind, especially in traumatic death. I’ve been places where suddenly everything would feel… different. The energy would change. I’m empathetic by nature, so I’m already sensitive to other people, so perhaps i’m sensitive to this sort of thing too. I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but I would feel something odd and just need to leave. And I know I’m not alone in this.
I’m easily spooked. Just a few weeks ago I was puppy sitting and the two were going absolutely ape-shit barking at this one spot in this one room. They would not stop. They wouldn’t go in there either. The house made a lot of weird noises that night and I was so convinced there was something that I slept upstairs instead of in my bedroom down below. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Probably most definitely. Was I still weary of the fact something was roaming about the house? Yup. My overactive imagination has trumped my rationale on more than one occasion and my general cynical nature had beat myself up about it even more.
I’m also a very superstitious person. While a lot of this I believe stems from my panic and anxiety disorders (I will seriously fret over the most innocuous and ridiculous of things), I can’t deny that there is something more to it as well. I have rituals I go through every night to ask for protection of those I love. I don’t even know who I’m asking or what, but I can’t imagine not doing the ritual because then something horrible will happen. It just will. In this same vein, I’m a big believer in charms (called omamori): all of which I’ve gotten at Shinto shrines in Japan. Shintoism is big on ritual, and even all Shintoists don’t necessarily believe in the spirits/gods (kami), but believe in the power of ritual (offerings, prayer to wish good luck and get rid of bad luck) and “energy.” The same energy that many people spoke of possible believing in or understanding that certain places can have that weird energy left over after death. I don’t claim to ascribe to Shintoism in any vein, but I find comfort in the rituals of scarring bad spirits away to make wishes, of fortunes, and of the charms they sell to believers and non-believers alike. I keep a charm warding against evil in my wallet and gave happiness charms to my mom and sister. My sister still has a safe driving charm she got five years ago and claims it’s helped her on more than one occasion. We all believe they work and really, as I suppose with any faith or superstition (or what-have-you), the personal belief is all that really matters.
So if you believe in ghosts, whether you have had your own experiences or not, that’s cool. If you think this and everything I’ve just said is batshit, cool beans. You’re allowed to think that.
So we’ll see what this ghost hunt brings. Perhaps it will be super hokey and we’ll spend the whole time laughing and shouting out into the dark if some poor Civil War soldier has anything to say. Or perhaps or ghostometer thingie will start beeping and I’ll run away screaming. The movie will probably scare me out of my mind because well, creepy ghost things. But at least, at the end of the night, I’ll get to see Tom Hiddleston’s ass, so that’s something.
How about you? Do you believe in ghosts?