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    The power of the ghost narrative

    Posted on: 2006-01-25

    By: Joe Perez



The tales and folklore of ghostly haunting stretch across the span of time and recorded history. The debate over the existence of ghosts is far from over. The burden of proof lies not with the ghosts themselves, but with the believers and skeptics that seek them out. For the ghost hunter searching for verifiable evidence, the power of the ghostly narrative is the first step toward an investigation. For it’s within the narrative the ghost hunter will uncover the clues needed to warrant an expedition into the dark realms of the otherside. Human beings have always loved a great story. Storytelling is a part of being human. Cultures all over the world use stories to convey meanings about their societies, teachings and ways of life. Ghost stories are a genre of storytelling that help people grasp the unknown world that awaits us all once we make the transition from life, to death, to afterlife.

The debate over ghostly existence after the living pass on lurk in all facets of human existence. Ghosts are like gate keepers to humanity’s understanding about what lies beyond the world of the living. Who doesn’t enjoy a great ghost story? From the bible to Hollywood motion pictures, ghosts have fascinated the imagination of writers looking for a bridge across our fears and beyond the grave. There is no doubt that tens of thousands of people have reported ghostly happenings in every conceivable structure and location. Witnesses who have had a ghostly encounter will stand firm to their accountings and in many instances have corroboration from other witnesses at the same moment of the experience. Sometimes these eye-witness accounts are so similar that there can be little doubt that an event has occurred, or is being repeated over the course of centuries. Why do the spirits of the dead return? Why are some people able to hear, see, feel and communicate with them? With the current popularity in spiritual mediumship (as it is now being known as “Ghost Whispering”), we are now being given a new level of confirmation as to what is really going on with these visitations. These methods however are open for interpretation error and should not be allowed to sway an investigation, because many mediums are charlatans and have hidden agendas of their own that may actually move towards discrediting a serious attempt at investigating a true haunting. If a Ghost Whisperer is consulted, their record of hits and accuracy must be fully examined before their remarks are used to shape or influence the ghost narrative.

Many theories exist about the nature of ghosts. None are proven and all are unsupported by science. While mainstream science will not conclude that a ghost narrative is proof that bumps, knocks, cold-spots, nudges, shoves, visions of apparitions, voices, and many other events are attributed to ghosts, the ghost hunter can gather a body of reports that work towards supporting witness testimony once the merit of the witness has been decided upon. A ghost hunter can utilize the witnesses experience to strengthen the focus of the research on documenting events that mirror the events spoken of in the ghost story narrative, moreover documentation strengthens the conjecture that apparitions choose the time and place of their eerie haunts, therefore it is not always possible to catch the elusive ghost in the act of haunting. Like any hunting expedition the game may not be found, so it is sometimes only the existence of strong narratives about the haunted area that confirms the presence of a ghost. A ghost hunter does not have tracks that lead to an exact location of a ghosts lair, many ghost hunters utilize lots of gizmos and gadgets hoping that their expensive technology will root out evidence to confirm a haunting, but it should be noted that these specialty tools of the trade will only point towards changes in environmental phenomena and can not be considered as definitive proof that a place is indeed haunted. Conversely, the lack of detection of readings by these gadgets does not disprove that a place is haunted. The most these devices can provide is environmental data that supports the idea that something out of the ordinary is affecting the area. There are no devices or technology as of yet that can scientifically prove the existence of the human spirit or soul and if ghosts are indeed disincarnate spirits of the living, these devices will not detect them for certain. The most powerful detection device is still the eye-witness accounting of what they have seen and experienced. Since the camera and camcorder are an extension of the human eye, these devices are held separate from the other technology used by ghost hunters, because what photographic equipment can capture is a recording of an eye-witness account. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, therefore these tools can help to support the narrative and can and have captured the presence of these occurrences once tampering of the equipment is ruled out.

A word of caution about basing a ghost hunt on a witness testimony is that memory recall is not infallible and discrepancies may arise that can lead an investigator in the wrong direction. Even worse, if the merit of a witness is in question, the authenticity of the report may be a fabrication that will discredit the already strong narrative evidence that does exist about a haunting situation. Why people fabricate ghost stories is a product of human nature and if it is to lead a ghost hunter astray, is based in immature ignorance and deceitful character defects and should be guarded against by all would be ghost hunters. Therefore it is imperative that all investigations based on witness testimony be backed up by a preliminary interview of the witness to make a determination about the character of the witness. If after the preliminary interviews an investigation seems warranted and authentic then the narrative acts as an investigative template to focus on particular areas of interest around the haunting areas of activity. Another important aspect in the narrative is to get an idea of the type of haunting that is being reported. Contrary to popular opinion about ghosts put forth by a surge of media exposure, it should be understood that ghost hunts can be dangerous. We do not know the full power and abilities of ghostly entities. There are many witness testimonies that support the effects of ghost behavior as being more than mischievous. Reports exist that include people having been shoved down staircases, hit in the head with flying objects, temporary spirit possession, scratches, bruising, ailments, paralysis, sudden fires, slaps, punches, pinches, nausea, headaches and even death by fright and unnatural causes. While these events are extreme and do not represent the norm, the fact that they exist should give any ghost hunter pause for concern before any investigation begins. These aspects are one more reason why the narrative is so important in accessing the decision to pursue evidence of any entity suspected of haunting any area in question. In addition to this seldom mentioned dangerous aspect of the research is the occult side of the supernatural. We can never be certain that what we are hunting is the ghost of a deceased person. Some haunting may in fact be elemental or low spirits, nature spirits, demons or other astral nasties that inhabit this unknown world of the paranormal. While there is also no definitive proof that demons exist, the possibility that they could in fact be posing as a ghost to mislead or attack the living is another pause for caution before any investigation is undertaken. There have also been reports of people having had ghosts or poltergeists follow them from location to location or home from an investigation. In the case of malevolent entities, this is a terrifying prospect.

While this is not the predominant aspect of haunted places it is still a very real aspect and it is the ghost narrative that the researcher can analyze the potential danger. The ghost narrative may be considered more than just a report of experience, but also may be a warning to beware of an area of strong ghostly activity. As ghost hunting becomes more popular due to the influx of television shows and specials it should be approached with respect and professionalism, not only for the area and property owners, but also for the ghosts themselves. In the body of available ghost narratives it has been documented that ghosts can be annoyed and angered. Some do not wish to be disturbed and there is no shortage of stories that point this out. Lastly, we should always be aware that ghosts are us in another form, but the world of the ghost is not like our own. They appear to exist within another kind of dimension, and while we can experience them and they may experience us, they are no longer of this world of the living. In the many narratives we can draw conclusions about this ghostly world and how these entities interact within it. Things like phantom smells or scents, clothing that matches other eras of time, falling objects that have thunderous sounds much too loud for the object affected, vocalizations that are almost animal in nature such as gurgling gasps, extreme cold spots like the cold dead skin of a corpse, portals of transport that psychics suggest are doorways that spirits move through to enter our dimension, and the orbs of energy and apparitions of entities moving through solid objects and even through people.

We are guests in their world just as much as they are guests in ours. If we keep these aspects in the forefront of our minds before we begin a ghost hunt, we can have an unforgettable experience that will color our notion of the afterlife we all must face one day whether we return as a ghost or not. So the next time you hear a ghost story always remember that the proof of ghostly existence is in the power of the narrative.

Joe Perez
Paranormal Investigator


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