"When a Ghost is not a Ghost"
A lot of things in life don’t make sense until they are approached from a certain angle. I often use the illustration of a mountain that can be seen from many sides, but only one trail leads all the way to the top. There may be a lot of other trails leading to other parts of the mountain, but if you want to get to that view that looks out in all directions, you have to start at the right trailhead. Ghost hunting is kind of like that. These days we have so many ghost hunter TV shows and YouTube channels that show various approaches to the paranormal, but what drives me crazy is that they approach each and every haunting in the same exact way. They use the same equipment and the same procedures in a wide variety of settings, often getting very different results that they then compare to a single “standard” as to what is or is not haunted. And often, in order to keep viewers watching, they start to add things to the show, based on that one “standard” of what a haunting should be like, that are not grounded in the real paranormal experience they are studying. It’s like that ski-lodge that shows up on the side of the mountain to distract all the climbers from ever reaching the top. No, folks, the measure of a mountain is not merely the length of its ski-lift. There is more going on than what you came to see. I’m getting carried away here. I guess I needed to present that talking point, but now I’ll move on. There are several ghost “types” that most paranormal investigators seem to lump in with the general phenomenon as though they are all the same. However, when I began to realize that there were different types, the paranormal “mountain” began to make more sense. Some ghosts may present themselves as real people who lived and died, and some may present themselves as something else (we’ll delve into that darkness in a later blog). But there is also a paranormal phenomenon that people frequently categorize as “ghost” that is not really an individual entity. Probably the most famous example of this phenomenon is in France, on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. In 1901, two women lost their way while touring the grounds and found themselves in a “living picture” of life at the palace before the French Revolution. They saw multiple individuals, dressed in period clothing from the time of the French Revolution, and even got directions from at least one of them. There was a heavy, negative emotion in the air, as though they were experiencing somebody else’s memory and the feelings that came from it. Other accounts at Versailles have also been reported, although it can be argued that later experiences could have easily been faked in order to get in on the attention the original was getting. While the women’s experience has been described as a “time travel” incident, the details resemble a great many other hauntings in which more than one “ghost” is observed and even non-person “ghosts” (buildings and gardens) are observed where they otherwise should not be. I have come to call these phenomenon “Zoe Ghosts”. Zoe is one of the three Greek words that translates to “life” in English. While many argue that it represents some sort of religious “afterlife”, the way it was often used in classical Greek seems to indicate more of an interactive life between two or more individual life-forces. Thus, by my designation, Zoe Ghost is a paranormal experience in which more than one “entity” is seen interacting with each other. A disembodied conversation between two unseen individuals, for instance, is almost always a Zoe Ghost. Hearing music where there should not be any can also be a Zoe, although these days, with so much noise pollution and sources for music, it is a lot harder to tell if there is a rational explanation when this happens (if it can even be heard at all). Zoe Ghosts are probably the most pleasant of paranormal experiences I have encountered. While most hauntings focus on how a person died or what injustice caused their spirit to remain, Zoe Ghosts can often be happy memories or moments in the life of a person who has otherwise passed from this world. Like the encounter at Versailles, they may not make much sense at the time, and they may sound spooky when trying to explain them to others, but they are, by far, the most benign of all the types of hauntings I have encountered. In my next blog, I will address a second type of ghost, which I often call a “Psyche Ghost”. (Hint: it’s another Greek word for “life” but with a different meaning.)