I saw a little blurb on Facebook the other day. It contained the picture of the classic house that one sees in old horror movies – a huge ramshackle old building with windows like black eyes peering out at the viewer, daring him or her to enter. I am not a huge fan of the horror genre but I saw enough movies in my youth to have a good idea of the sort of creatures that might come crawling out of such a structure. Add to this a dark camera filter and the picture was decidedly eerie. The kicker though, was the caption, which stated simply : Spend the night in this house for a million dollars . . . would you?
My reply, if this were for real and not a Facebook meme, would be: for a million dollars, you can sign me up for as many nights as you like. In fact, I would be happy to take up residence for a few months if that would make the challenger happy.
I would be the last person on the planet to say that there is nothing out there to be afraid of but I will also be the first person to tell you that fear is often the result of perception. All you have to do is look at the hokey ghost hunting shows and you can see that, while these folks may be investigating some genuine disturbing phenomena (on occasion), most of what scares them is themselves. Because of the way the show is set up (i.e. to entertain with spookiness), the mindset of the crew is that there must be something to be afraid of. Consequently, any small noise, puff of air or house settling sound is liable to provoke a gasp reaction and set them running to ‘investigate’.
In the same way, much of what effects people, even in genuine hauntings, is their mind set. Many investigators have noted the correlation between the client’s state of mind and the level and intensity of a haunting. Those people who view the phenomena around them as frightening and possibly the work of the devil or some other source of evil, are not only more frightened by the haunting but also seem to attract exactly what it is they fear. Those who view the phenomena as simply the presence of other, non-corporeal people, who are willing to set limits with those “people” and who do not “freak out” at the slightest manifestation of paranormal phenomena, are the ones who end up either living comfortably with their ghost or seeing it go away entirely.
Now, I will state unequivocally that there are some hauntings that come about as the result of malevolent forces and need to be dealt with by a professional. I will also state that such hauntings are thankfully few and far between. The vast majority of people experiencing paranormal events in their home are not experiencing any sort of “demonic” issue – no matter how much the thrill seekers would like to believe so. Some hauntings appear to be of the “imprint” variety, almost as though the energy of an event is imprinted on the subtle fibre of an area. These can be erased by magical methods or simply left to degrade over time. The hauntings that need somewhat closer attention are those that appear to be the result of some part of the human soul complex being left behind after death.
In these case, which can be quite frightening to the uninitiated, an investigative team needs to take a two pronged approach. First, once it is established that there is something truly going on in a home or structure, the team needs to provide the client with calm validation. Most subjects of a haunting, at one point or the other, ask themselves if they are crazy. The team needs to reassure the clients that they are not “nuts” and that there seems to be something going on in their area.
While the validation is very important, perhaps the most important thing that any team can do in a case like this is let the client/s know that dead people can be interacted with as surely as live people can. If an unknown individual walked into someone’s home and made themselves comfortable, that person would likely be arrested for breaking and entering. The ghost, despite its disembodied state, has no more claim over a home or other structure that the living person and should be dealt with accordingly.
A fine line needs to be walked in such cases. While the investigators need to show compassion for the client, they also need to show compassion for the disembodied occupants of a house or other location. A person or persons does not usually remain behind for the fun of it. The ghost has remained because of a powerful attachment to a place. The attachment can take many forms, from happy memories of a place to unfinished business to a trauma at or near death. Those who can communicate with spirits will tell you that a ghost is often either very adamant about remaining or very confused about why they are there in the first place.
Sometimes, all that is needed to clear a haunting is to tell someone that he or she is dead and needs to move on. Certain mages and trained mediums can assist with this process. At other times, particularly when a ghost is unwilling to move on, a skilled spirit negotiator (a good example would be a Native American medicine person) can work out a “deal” between the clients and the ghost that both can be comfortable with. Compassion dictates that the team at least try this approach before having the ghost removed by more forceable, magical means.
So, as I said above, I would be happy to spend the night in the proverbial haunted/monster ridden place. My perception would be of the “let’s see what this is all about” variety. What looks scary may simply be a call to compassion. Think on that the next time you see some TV ghost hunter flinging around holy water.