What Is A Ghost?

What Is A Ghost?
What Is A Ghost? 

But, after all, what is a ghost? What do we mean by this? Where do ghosts live, and how? What do they do with themselves? How do they manifest? Why do they return? These are some of the questions that the average man asks himself—unless he totally disbelieves in them. Most men, it is true, disbelieve in ghosts—unless they have had some experience to convince them to the contrary. Yet, after all, why should they? As Mr. W. T. Stead once remarked:


“Real Ghost Stories! How can there be real ghost stories when there are no real ghosts? “But are there no real ghosts? You may not have seen one, but it does not follow that therefore they do not exist. How many of us have seen the microbe that kills? There are at least as many persons who testify that they have seen apparitions as there are men of science who have examined the microbe. You and I, who have seen neither, must perforce take the testimony of others. The evidence for the microbe may be conclusive, the evidence as to apparitions may be worthless; but in both cases, it is a case of testimony, not of personal experience.”

How Ghosts Influence Us


The average conception of a Ghost is probably somewhat as follows: It is a thin, tall figure, wrapped in a sheet, walking about the house, clanking chains behind it, and scaring out of his wits anyone who sees it. According to this view, a ghost would be as material and substantial a thing as a buzz-saw or a lap-dog, and exists just as fully “in space.” Such, however, is not the conception of the ghost that modern science entertains. Many investigators who have examined this question closely have come to the conclusion that ghosts do actually exist; but when we come to the more troublesome question: What are they? we are met at once with difficulties and disagreements. The recent scientific theories and explanations of the subject are complex and subtle and necessitate a certain preliminary knowledge on the part of the student in order for him to understand them. I shall explain as briefly and clearly as possible exactly what these theories are. For the moment, I wish to speak, first of all, of the history of psychic investigation; and particularly that portion of it that deals with apparitions or “ghost hunting.”

A ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that is believed to be able to appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely, from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes to realistic, lifelike forms. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance. Other terms associated with it are apparition, haunt, phantom, poltergeist, shade, specter, spirit, spook, wraith, demon, and ghoul.

The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals other than humans have also been recounted. They are believed to haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life. According to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans say they have seen a ghost.

The overwhelming consensus of science is that there is no proof that ghosts exist. Their existence is impossible to falsifyand ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience Despite centuries of investigation, there is no scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by the spirits of the dead. Historically, certain toxic and psychoactive plants (such as Datura and Hyoscyamus niger), whose use has long been associated with necromancy and the underworld, have been shown to contain anticholinergic compounds that are pharmacologically linked to dementia (specifically DLB) as well as histological patterns of neurodegeneration. Recent research has indicated that ghost sightings may be related to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's diseaseCommon prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs (such as sleep aids) may also, in rare instances, cause ghost-like hallucinations, particularly zolpidem, and diphenhydramine. Older reports linked carbon monoxide poisoning to ghost-like hallucinations.

Ghost History

 There are many references to ghosts in Mesopotamian religions – the religions of SumerBabylonAssyria, and other early states in Mesopotamia. Traces of these beliefs survive in the later Abrahamic religions that came to dominate the region. Ghosts were thought to be created at the time of death, taking on the memory and personality of the dead person. They traveled to the netherworld, where they were assigned a position, and led an existence similar in some ways to that of the living. Relatives of the dead were expected to make offerings of food and drink to the dead to ease their conditions. If they did not, the ghosts could inflict misfortune and illness on the living. Traditional healing practices ascribed a variety of illnesses to the action of ghosts, while others were caused by gods or demons.

There was widespread belief in ghosts in ancient Egyptian culture The Hebrew Bible contains few references to ghosts, associating spiritism with forbidden occult activities cf. Deuteronomy 18:11. The most notable reference is in the First Book of Samuel (I Samuel 28:3–19 KJV), in which a disguised King Saul has the Witch of Endor summon the spirit or ghost of Samuel.

The soul and spirit were believed to exist after death, with the ability to assist or harm the living, and the possibility of a second death. Over a period of more than 2,500 years, Egyptian beliefs about the nature of the afterlife evolved constantly. Many of these beliefs were recorded in hieroglyph inscriptions, papyrus scrolls, and tomb paintings. The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiles some of the beliefs from different periods of ancient Egyptian history. In modern times, the fanciful concept of a mummy coming back to life and wreaking vengeance when disturbed has spawned a whole genre of horror stories and films.

Historic Investigations

Here and there, serious investigators have always existed. In the sixteenth century, Dr. Glanvil pursued this study with great genius and patience; Dr. Johnson also was a firm believer in the reality of “ghosts”; Sir Walter Scott and others of his time were investigators, and the famous Dr. Perrier wrote a treatise on apparitions, and similar investigations have been continued up to the present day. The first organized and systematic attempt to solve the problem, and to find out exactly what ghosts are, however, was made by the Society for Psychical Research (S. P. R.) in 1882. Practically all the investigations which have been carried on since then have led to important results. 

How A Ghost Warned The King



Soon after the above-mentioned Society was founded, and material began to be collected, it was found that many cases had to do with haunted houses, many with apparitions, but the greater number of them hinged around one point—the coincidence of apparitions with the death of the persons represented. An apparition of a certain person would be seen in London, let us say; and some hours later a telegram would arrive, conveying the news that this person had just been killed. When the time was compared, it was found to agree exactly; the hour of the death and that of the apparition tallying to the minute.

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