Strange, but mention of the paranormal evokes strong feelings in lots of people. Some get unaccountably angry and vociferous, declaiming that ‘it’s all nonsense’ and anyone who believes in such phenomena are deluded dimwits or liars. The same people who have strong religious beliefs, which exist on the basis of faith alone, can still be furious at the prospect of any kind of psychic phenomena, and I wonder just where this anger comes from. Are they secretly afraid of something?
The question itself ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ always seems a bit simplistic and banal to me. No one but a fool would believe that every person’s alleged supernatural experience is genuine, but again, no one but a fool would condemn all of those who claims such things as dishonest or deluded. The question should really be: ‘Do you believe in the possibility of there being ghosts?’ I do. Very much so.
I have never seen a ‘ghost’ or had any paranormal experience, but I must admit the prospect of other dimensions to life beyond death I find absolutely fascinating. Because a great many rational, honest, intelligent people claim to have had genuine paranormal experiences so even if 99 per cent of them can be discounted as mistaken, or rational explanations can be found for them, what about the one per cent that cannot be explained away?
Obviously many ghostly tales are invented or are the product of an overactive imagination. In a house I once stayed one door kept opening on its own, and someone said this was a ‘mischievous spirit’, until I set a spirit (unintentional pun) level against it, finding that, as it was slightly askew, gravity would cause it to close on its own. There are scores of other reasons for unexplained phenomena in a house: shrinking woodwork, underground water, noisy rats and mice, ordinary sounds magnified by particular acoustics, and I daresay many other things. But what about the cases that are reported where all these possibilities are examined and excluded, so that there is no realistic explanation at all?
An old lady I knew was absolutely certain that at her husband’s funeral, when she was at her lowest ebb, she felt his hand on her shoulder, and she ‘knew’ he was there beside her. A friend reported that her mother appeared to her in a dream very shortly after she died, and she was aware of her presence somehow. After my mother’s funeral, at the gathering at the house, a photograph came off the mantelpiece, and fell to the floor – it was a photo of the granddaughter of one of the guests in the room. He said ‘That’s Margot’s spirit did that!’ Afterwards I was certain it must have been a draught or a gust of wind, yet when I put it back and blew from all directions, nothing moved the photograph. The next morning the record player stopped working for no apparent reason. Then started. The radio in my car did the same thing: stopped for a few moments then started again.
The talented painter, Tom Keating, in a radio interview, calmly referred to a castle in Scotland where held been employed to restore paintings, was haunted. He made no big deal about it, just referred to it in passing, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. This is the point. If phantoms or the spirits of dead people do exist they’re not something separate and phenomenal, they must be in the real world, unexciting, there all the time, part of normality. There are also a great many groups of individuals, teams who professionally investigate unexplained happenings. These aren’t fools, they are predominantly scientific people with scientific instruments, who want to record facts, and they presumably do so and publish their findings.
Most alleged sighting are non-provable things that scientists would scoff at. But there are other unexplained things I can think of. The dream I once had of a man telling me about a German pilot shooting a British pilot who had bailed out of his plane, and his anger at such a despicable act. And the very next day a man said exactly that same thing to me in those same words. When I was 19, and about to go out one evening, the fact that my mother (who I lived with at the time) had a horrible premonition that something would go wrong. The car chassis cracked and I barely made it out of the drive, and when I told her she was delighted and relieved as she ‘knew’ something unpleasant was going to happen and was just pleased it wasn’t a crash.
There was once a marvellous TV series on Channel 4 (in Britain) called ‘After Dark’, where experts in a particular field would gather together and have a live discussion. Once there was a gathering of spiritualists. And they were casually talking of people they could ‘see’ who had recently ‘passed over’ and describing what they looked to the others. This wasn’t rehearsed or scripted, you could tell, and they were unremarkable casual very ordinary people, not what you call imaginative in any way.
Again, recently on television, the likeable and eminently honest actor Joe Swash did a programme I believe in ghosts, where he travelled around Britain investigating reported phantoms. Predictably most of it was pretty unimpressive, despite his best efforts, with eccentric people waffling on about paranormal happenings, but Joe saw nothing untoward. However right at the end he spent the night in the underground passageways somewhere in Edinburgh, which were reputed to be haunted. He felt uncomfortable, and towards the end of the night he could stand it no more and left. Apparently nothing more than his inherent fear had overcome him. However, he had recording equipment with him, and a sound engineer magnified what had been recorded on it. There was conversation, in a language that couldn’t be deciphered, but it was beyond doubt human voices, even occasional words could be delineated. And the sound engineers carefully considered the possibility of sounds being bounced from some other location and this was completely discounted. So, again, it comes down to trust. Do you accept that Joe Swash, as a man of integrity, and his sound engineers, who have a professional reputation to think of, might have falsified this evidence? I don’t. It’s down to trust, and I trusted Joe Swash and his team to be honest and truthful. They could have falsified other evidence in the programme and they didn’t.
So I’d very much like to know about your experiences. Do you believe in ghosts?
Please tell me, and share your experiences. I would love to hear from you.