Sunday, January 8, 2012

Musings on Ghosts

Back in May I had this really strange experience - which was shared by my wife, my dog, and, separately, by a friend of mine - where, for two weeks, every day, some strange `paranormal’ scene would go on. It mostly manifested itself in the woods near our house. Here’s a brief excerpt from a narrative I wrote about it:
There’s this line from the film `Ghost’, early on, when Demi Moore goes to the police station to report the murder. This lady cop says to her something like, “So you’re telling me there are these invisible people around us all the time watching what we do?” and Moore nods and the Cop says, “Well, I’m never taking off my clothes again.” And I wonder about that. Are there invisible people around us all the time and we’re only occasionally aware of it? Quite obviously spirits can make themselves felt or seen or heard so why not not felt, not seen, not heard? If there’s one thing I absolutely know about the land of the dead it’s that it is not `up’ and it is not `down’ - it’s right next to this plane of reality. The Mesopotamians understood this and one can see it on certain stele and engravings - the souls of the dead are not below the living but beside them. Sure, there’s always been the concept of the gods above, humans here, dead below scene but, along side this, the idea of the dead being next to the living. The Mesopotamian afterlife was really dismal - the dead ate dust and drank from stagnant pools - but a proper burial and respectful remembrance were supposed to keep the dead where they belonged and, further, give the living hope that their deceased loved one was living on a higher tier than the dust-eating and puddle-drinking. And this belief continued on, with some modifications, through Egypt and Greece and Rome until the coming of Christianity and the creation of a `heaven’ and a `hell’. So with this long-standing belief in a `land of the dead’, and the proper precautions to take to keep the dead where they belong, one would think the dead would just hang out in their own place. But they don’t. I’ve come to understand this along the same lines as I feel about my own house and Staatsburg and the earth in general: it’s a great place - who wouldn’t want to come back? But I guess I just don’t understand the `why’ and the `how’ of the return and I definitely don’t understand why they can’t make themselves clearer in their intentions. Or is it just that we think they have intentions when they don’t always? I wonder, if that older couple I saw out there in the woods were two spirits, were they back on earth for any reason other than to take a walk where they once did? Isn’t that something Betsy and I would do? And so, again, I think of that lady cop’s line from `Ghost’ and I wonder if we’re ever really alone. Dog and I haven’t been alone in the woods this whole past week and the week before and I’ve known it; I wonder about all the times I’ve been out there, though, and have not known it.

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