As usual, running cleared my head somewhat. And it got me thinking and now I have questions, damnit, with nowhere to direct them.
How, exactly, is there any way that ghosts exist? I mean, surely, with all the people there have ever been, the world would be rife with them. So rife we’d all go mad with the ghostiness. I asked this of one of the girlies on the hen do who was telling a story about the time she’d had to exorcise her flat. Her answer was less than satisfactory – she said: “It’s only some people who become ghosts when they die and you have to help them to cross over.” Cross over to where? I mean, it’s religious, isn’t it? You’d have to believe in a life after death, wouldn’t you, for a start? And, the ongoing debate about religion aside, why haven’t they made it across to wherever they’re heading? Are there no instructions? I mean, if there’s limbo and purgatory for people who aren’t in either heaven or hell, then where are the souls of these people who haven’t “crossed over”? Earth, I guess, but how does that make sense? I’m glad I’m an atheist, because this life after death lark sounds pretty complicated; I’m not good under pressure and I’m pretty sure that death would be stressful. I get lost in Morrisons at least once a week as it is.
Let’s put disbelief to one side for a moment and suppose that there are such things as ghosts; then surely the actual ghost of a person is representative of their spirit only. And if that’s the case, surely they wouldn’t manifest themselves in a form at all, especially not clothed, but rather as floating minds in some respect. Once the physical has gone, then it would leave just a soul that would certainly be incapable of recreating itself as the body it inhabited prior to death, let alone dress itself. Is this where possession comes in? And if a soul has possessed a body, what right has it to be exorcised, since possession is nine tenths of the law…?* My first thought, if I was a lost spirit that had just found myself inside a body for a change, when confronted with a priest would be to a) act as normally as possible to avoid losing my new body or b) say something along the lines of: “Excuse me – I don’t suppose you could give me directions to… um… where I’m supposed to be going, could you?” I definitely wouldn’t roar at him and then projectile vomit. When you’re lost as a living being, you ask a policeman, so it makes sense that when you’re lost as a ghost, you should ask a priest. Politely!
And, again, just supposing that people have souls that sometimes get confused en route to the afterlife, and just supposing a ghost somehow managed to mold itself into its former state and wrap a sheet around itself and stay on earth instead of “crossing over”… why would it want to throw things around and make spooky noises and generally scare the living daylights out of people? Surely it would actually be thinking: “I am pretty sure I’m in the wrong place. Maybe I should have gone left at the statuesque man with the skull for a face wielding the large gardening implement…”
… Although, I’m positive that emotions are caused by hormones and pheromones and gin, which are all physical things. Why, then, are ghosts so angry? What causes that? Why would they come back and haunt a random house** / person / bathroom / toaster***? And thought is caused by electrical impulses in the brain… and if the brain has died with the person, how can a ghost have any thoughts at all?
And why are ghosts always of a type? You don’t ever hear of people seeing rappers standing at the end of their bed, eerie light glinting off their bling, do you? Or of cavemen with a club in one hand, scratching their balls in uncouth fash’ with the other? And surely, a ghost of days gone by would be most confused by a lot of the things that happen in this day and age. I can’t imagine that there’s, say, a Victorian ghost watching me doing yoga and thinking (with the brain it’s somehow managed to find, even though it couldn’t manage to find the stairway to heaven): “Yes yes, I’m going to throw some stuff around and scare the shit out of this one.” Any Victorian ghost capable of thought would most likely be thinking: “What on earth is this all about? I’m not going near her – she’s mental!”
And, do animals turn into ghosts when they die? Because I know Christianity at least states that animals have no immortal soul, in which case they couldn’t possibly turn into ghosts. But human beings are animals, which, of course, means that they have no immortal soul either.
And why, I mean just why, am I freaked out by all this stuff when I’m not religious and I’ve just proven to myself that in order to actually believe it, I’d have to be of the faith? Is it just that my C of E / Methodist upbringing has been so far indoctrinated into my system that there’s a latent religious quality to my thoughts? Could this dormant Christian brainwashing be so ingrained in me that I can’t quite live without looking over my shoulder for imaginary ghosts, holy or otherwise?
I mean, it all just sounds like bollocks, if you ask me! Answers, I demand! Really good answers, please!
ASK THE EXPERT:
A friend of mine is not religious, yet apparently believes that he once had to exorcise a house. I don’t doubt his story for a second; I’m not saying that I don’t believe that he genuinely believes that he had to. How could this be? Come on, Wesley, explanations, if you please! What made you think / realise you had a ghost? Who performed the exorcism? Jon Bon Jovi? If a priest, surely this goes against your beliefs, or lack of; but if you performed the exorcism yourself, how did you find out how to do it? The internet? Did you need equipment? Because, and I know this sounds like I’m taking the piss (and I guess I am a little bit – in the most good-humoured way, I assure you), but I genuinely am curious – I just can’t imagine you wandering round a house talking to something that, presumably, can’t hear you, what with it having no ears!
Tell me a story! I love a good spooky yarn. In fact, I’d love to hear all spooky stories of real life… or death experiences. So if anyone fancies telling me theirs, go ahead! I’m not trying to belittle people’s beliefs; I’m cynical, but I’m not a dick†. So, please, tell away – you might just change my mind.
* Boom boom
** I excuse Beetlejuice because they explain that one in the storyline and it is just a film after all
*** But that’s not right – it wouldn’t haunt a toaster because that’s not scary enough. It would haunt a castle or a freaky doll. They not so dumb, these spirits****
**** Spirits… now that’s something I can believe in. Lovely see-through spirits that make you act in bizarre ways…
† Well, not all the time