Quis es Lemures
WHAT ARE GHOSTS
'Tis a fearful thing to be no more,
Or if it be, to wander after death;
To walk, as spirits do, in brakes all day;
And when the darkness comes to glide in paths
That lead to graves; and, in the silent vault,
Where lies your own pale shroud, to hover o'er it,
Striving to enter your forbidden corpse.
The very word ghost conjures up a shadowy, vaporous figure and calls to mind any number of places such a phantom might choose to haunt: graveyards on moonless nights, misty moors, fog-shrouded castles perched high on craggy hills. Such places seem to hold closely guarded secrets of the past and are endowed with an atmosphere of sorrow and foreboding.
To be sure, not all reported phantom encounters occur in such disquieting locations. But tales of ghosts that favor mysterious sites are the most enduring. And just as enthralling as their dramatic habitats are the ways in which the spirits are said to announce their presence. Many people recounting ghostly visits describe a drop in the surrounding temperature just before the ghost appears, or a thickening of the atmosphere - as if, according to one observer, "the room seemed to get very full of people." Others tell of hearing voices of footsteps where no one is present, seeing strange lights, or smelling distinctive odors, such as tobbaco.
Photographer Simon Marsden did not experience any of these sensations as a child growing up in two allegedly haunted houses in the English countryside. But he did become fascinated with ghosts. In 1974 he decided to chronicle in pictures some of the thousands of phantoms said to inhabit the British Isles, reputedly the most haunted region in the world. Marsden spent twelve years visiting and photographing almost 1,500 sites.
The word "apparition" comes from Latin, and literally means "to appear." According to the 1993 Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena, there are two basic forms of apparitions: those which are spontanious, and those which are induced.
But what is a ghost? You might loosely define a ghost as a visual apparition of a deceased human being, or in some cases, of a deceased animal. A ghost is also many times the image or phantom of a specific person directly related to the time or place it appears. This is different from a haunting.
A haunting, more generally, is considered to be a place or locality said to be visited by unseen forces. These forces can manifest themselves in a variety of ways such as unexplainable noises, strange or out-of-place smells, spots or drafts of extreme cold, displacement or complete disappearance of objects, visual images, tactile sensations, disembodied voices or psychokinetic movement of objects.
The paranormal force that is most unnerving is the visual apparition, the image of a loved one, or of a prior inhabitant of a home. Sometimes comforting, many times frightening, always startling, these are the appatitions we all fear "go bump in the night." Paranormal researchers who study visual apparaitions through both accepted and non-conventional scientific methods have grouped these ghosts into seven roughly-defined catagories.
These are the ghostly encounters with the deceased who return at a time of crisis to try to intervene. We have all heard of tales of the much-loved husband or wife returning from beyond to inform their spouse of the location of a previously unknown insurance policy, just when the family is bordering on financial ruin.
Seeing a former inhabitant of a building, a ghostly employee still doing their job, or any discarnate being still roaming the physical world. Many times these ghosts appear as a replaying movie, always caught up in the same act. The phantom that always wanders the hall at a precise hour or season. The replay of a murder over and over, much to the horror of the viewer.
These sightings are apparitions of the dead that occur simultaneously to multiple witnesses in different places. A woman in Indianapolis might see the ghost of her father, while at the same instant, her mother in South Bend sees her beloved husband.
Go beyond ghosts and into the realm of quantum physics. In these cases , twopeople see each other simultaneously through some anomoly in time. Each person appears as a ghost to the other, and both are equally surprised by the event. In a reciprocal apparition, you, as the viewer, might perceive a gentleman, dressed in antique garb, going about his business, who then glances up, and with an astonished look on his face, sees you as well. Both you and he are puzzled, as you both are "out of place" to the eyes of the other. These apparitions usually are short-lived and if you but glance away, the vision vanishes.