Ghosts: a heretical opinion

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“We are all connected and it’s important to honor that.”

Life, death and sex are the three most sacred things in the world to me. Even so, I will be just as quick to dispatch a parasite that eats my light bulbs as I am a parasite that eats my blood.

“The spirit was here first; that’s a valid perspective.”

If it were a living person, we’d call that a squatter.  If I have obtained my place to live through just means, I believe it is reasonable to expect all previous inhabitants to relocate.

“It’s kind of cool to have a ghost.”

It’s all fun and games until you get a ghost in hijab poking its head in every time you take a shower, your work gets disrupted as a ghost insisting you relay a message that the recipient will not want shorts out the circuits in your office, and you go through multiple sleepless nights because the dead feel entitled to your attention to the point of zero regard for the basic needs of life.

When it comes to ghosts and hauntings, I mind. I mind very much. I see a ghost moving into my house as exactly the same situation as the neighborhood drunk that tried to squat in our Franklin coop apartment. The neighborhood drunk did not at the time have a place to live, and since he was living, he needed one. He needed food, he needed shelter, he needed a place to land, or people to land with, or something larger than the bottle he crawled into.

I felt for him, but that didn’t obligate me to give him a place to live. I did, however, persuade the police officers we had remove him from our doorstep not to dump him in detox and thus stick him with another bill he couldn’t pay. I try hard to be a good person, but my virtue has its limits.

Ghosts, on the other hand, do not need a place to live. I do not care if that ghost lived in my place in 1850s, had babies there, or still wants its lost shoes under the floorboards. I do not share the opinions designed by various adherents of holy books: my opinion is based on direct experience.

When dealing with spirits, I operate on the following principles/assumptions:

  • A ghost is the spirit of a dead person. Other things are out there, lots of them, and they are not dead. Parallel universes are also a huge and little-explored factor in the magical worldview. Perhaps, though, that is best left to the physicists.
  • Death does not mean you lose free will or choice. Ghosts can decide what they want to do. They can even learn stuff if they want to. The key word to that is “want.”
  • Only the assholes or the deeply disturbed continue to wear their “upon death” appearance or clothing. Loss of life in no way requires your spirit imprint to leave organs hanging out, and in fact you can update or backdate your wardrobe however you like.
  • Ghosts – i.e. spirits of the dead – have the same variations in mentality as the living. The same percent are criminals and bullies. The same percent are just confused. The same percent really just want to sit and watch the world go by.
  • Ghosts/spirits of the dead do not have all the answers. They certainly have more time to eavesdrop and much more time to learn how to spin bullshit.
  • Ghosts, like any entity, needs some kind of energy. They’re hell on the power bill, especially in the summer if you use central air.
  • Ghosts and any other beloved departed are entitled to respect if and only if they also treat us with respect in return. Sentience requires courtesy.

If a spirit is not somehow contributing to the living household through protection, healing or non-invasive guidance, I do not feel obligated to keep it around. I get haunted walking down the street because that’s how non-voluntary second sight works. Also, for some reason, living this far away from the equator, the veil gets thin twice a year rather than the usual once. Beltane and Samhain I’m braking for thin air, flying squirrels that ostensibly disappeared in the ice age, and I’m not convinced I didn’t see a dodo bird last week.

I am laying down my perspective here for a few reasons. First, to me the existence of a “second” non-physical world is a plain, physical fact. I’m not guessing about life after death. It’s real enough, the consciousness does go somewhere, and it decides where it wishes to go.

It also makes me chafe a bit when I hear various paranormal experts proposing theories because I can see the things they’re theorizing about. I certainly don’t know all the answers: maybe something is funky with my optical nerves or retinas, or my brain perceives information too rapidly and ends up letting me see time or something. I don’t know why I’m the way I am (in that respect), or how it all works. What the ghost hunters say do not usually fit my own experiences, and it makes me really uncomfortable.

I have no intention of working as a medium, ever. I have zero interest in helping you find where Grandma hid that last vial of violet perfume. If you need to tell your long-lost cousin you’re sorry, or that she was awful,  just find some space by yourself and tell your cousin you’re sorry. Saying the name should be enough to bring that person around if s/he’s still here. The point isn’t whether or not the ghost is real – the point of such exercises is to change the way you feel.

You may think it’s a cool trick, a spooky moment, but for me it’s a daily reality that while not disabling, does create a layer of social awkwardness for me especially since agressive, angry atheism and declaring everything bullshit is quite popular these days. I’m not saying there’s not a reason for it, but to me it’s just someone without a holy book ready to burn me at the stake over the unprovable, metaphorically speaking.

So if I don’t enjoy living my ghost stories, why am I telling them?

Because I want to get my perspective out there, and I want folks reading this to get comfortable accepting their intuitive and inner experiences. We shove them aside and label them “crazy” to the point where we do not know the difference between genuine mental illness/a poisoned brain-as-organ and simply having experiences not deemed socially acceptable.

Second sight is an inner experience, an emotion of sorts, it just operates as an emotion that masquerades with visual output. It is not hallucination; I hope to write about the key differences between hallucinations, visions and second sight experiences in the future.

Ghosts are people, and they are complicated. Seeing them is also complicated, especially when they know you’re aware. Most of the time, I don’t want a relationship with any of them, although here and there, exceptions are made.

So, with that said – what ghost story do you want to tell?