“…More Things in Heaven and Earth…”

This picture of the supposed ghost of Abraham Lincoln with his widow, Mary Lincoln, was taken circa 1870. It is considered one of the first examples of spirit photography.  Courtesy Insider online.

I had a request to outline my views on the paranormal in my blog, eclectic as it is, so I’m taking a short break from current events, and this post is for you, Linda.

I can’t say that I have personally witnessed any kind of apparition, rattling chains, frigid zones, or things that go “bump” in the night.  I’ve never felt a touch on my shoulder from someone who wasn’t there, or felt an eerie vibe in an old building.  I don’t even watch Ghost Hunters on TV.  The home next to ours — a spooky-looking dwelling if ever there was one — is supposedly haunted, but I’ve never noticed anything unusual over there.  The previous owners told me of several hair-raising incidents, but the current owner says he has yet to experience anything, after having occupied the place for more than a decade and a half.  Then again, it could be in the eyes of the beholder:  perhaps one must be open to the possibility of supernatural manifestations to pick up on them.

What I will say, however, is that I’ve heard a multitude of first-hand accounts of ghostly goings-on over the years, all from eminently credible witnesses.  One of my neighbors says she’s seen spirits in various places she’s gone, and I have no reason to doubt her.  I recently edited a biographical account of thoroughly ugly paranormal activities which occurred with at least two people present in each case.  I highly doubt that multiple individuals would somehow have the same hallucinations at the same time.  Nor do I immediately resort to the answer that there must be a scientific explanation for, say, hundreds of spiders to appear in one room of a home in the space of a few hours.  Of course, there could be a science-based explanation for that occurrence, and for several subsequent invasions by other insects in the same home in the same manner over a couple months’ time.  I’ll admit that the average person on the street might very well look askance at the teller of such a tale.  Nevertheless, the above incidents were related to a steady stream of other uncanny, seemingly inexplicable happenings at the home, which the inhabitants took to be increasingly threatening.  It all added up to a thoroughly convincing report.

During my young adulthood, I was a serious devotee of the brilliant Carl Sagan, the ultimate skeptic when it came to phenomena that could not be replicated under experimental protocols.  His application of the scientific method would invalidate the ectoplasmic sightings often chronicled in ancient structures.  I tended to follow his principles, and to be a doubter of things that couldn’t be proven by rigorous testing.  But even Dr. Sagan said that the unknowns of this world are limitless, that with enough questioning, we reach the end of knowledge, sooner or later.  I remain a huge Sagan fan, and I believe his contributions can’t be overstated.  Still, in the course of my life, I’ve encountered mysterious situations that, yes, could never be replicated, tested, or measured, but did in fact happen to me.  I think most people would say the same. 

Of course, the fact that similar experiences are recounted by many people doesn’t prove that those incidents are paranormal.  When a friend had a premonition and warned me against going somewhere with an ex one night, she may have been unconsciously picking up his body language and micro expressions, which silently signaled danger for me, because I’d be with him.  Many so-called psychics have tapped into this ability to do what are called “cold readings;” that is, tracking tiny points of feedback and translating them.  Or, my friend could actually have “known” that there was trouble ahead.  She told me of several times in her life when she had “seen” in real time an accident or some mishap related to someone close to her, and then was expecting the phone call with bad news when it came. 

I’ve seen objects literally fly off shelves and mantels in our house.  Vibration from traffic, or the work of ghostly visitors?  I’ve smiled and spoken to the air, “Having fun today?”  After a series of such events, I once burst out in irritation, “Hey!  Knock it off already!” and the annoyances ceased.  Was there actually a presence responsible for those things, and did it listen to the reprimand?  Over the years, I’ve been the recipient of mental messages from loved ones far away, and I’ve likewise unnerved people in a room with me when I predicted some small occurrence in the immediate future which did indeed come to pass.  These things can be ascribed to intimate knowledge of the individuals and circumstances, and logical, if subconscious, extrapolation.  Or to lucky guesses.  I’ve had tarot readers tell me very personal, specific things about myself that I’d never told anyone and which they could not possibly have known; and also had them correctly predict forthcoming events, complete with exact timeframes.  Again, lucky guesses, cold readings, standard patter customized to my expressions, or genuine abilities beyond those of average people?

Given my own history, and given the accounts I’ve gotten from others, I have to come down on the side of the existence of forces unseen by most people.  If I could hear my mother’s voice in my head, guiding me to safety when I was in danger of drowning in icy water a hundred miles away from her, then I have to give credence when someone tells me her house is haunted by her grandmother’s spirit, which comes to her at night.

Dr. Sagan counseled against taking anything on faith, because therein lies the chance for error:  delusion, deception, or misunderstanding.  He also said, however, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  In short, believing or disbelieving something absolutely, without having proof one way or the other, is not the path to the truth.  For him, proof was arrived at via exhaustive experimentation.  Without such testing, he believed the truth was unknowable.  When it comes to the paranormal, there are yet no experiments to verify the existence of forces or entities cited by one or more people.  What would proof look like?  Ghosts in a location could be detected 24/7 with certified applicable instruments, for example.  That hasn’t happened so far.  Therefore, there’s no objective, definitive answer.  I know what I’ve seen and heard, as do friends, neighbors, and thousands of other people, past and present.  Certainly, phenomena can easily be faked, à la Oda Mae Brown’s routine in Ghost, but many of us have had unfake-able experiences we can’t rationally explain; we can’t deny that they did happen.  What those experiences consisted of, though, we can’t define with the knowledge we have to this point.  Might they be constructs of our own minds, exerting powers we haven’t yet consciously tapped?  Or are they from some other plane of existence?  For now, the truth is unknowable.

William Hope, a premiere pioneer of spirit photography, took this photo of a couple and an alleged female spirit around 1920.  Courtesy Insider online

8 thoughts on ““…More Things in Heaven and Earth…”

  1. In regards to the paranormal article that you posted I would like to say ‘Thank you, Denise’. I appreciate your open-minded,& unbiased views in regards to the account that I submitted to you,& you helped to edit for me.

    I do not go on Ghost Tours ,myself as I believe that ghosts do not perform for the sake of the public. For the most part. they will appear when, where,& to whom they fell is receptive to them at any given time, or place. I have had too many experiences with the paranormal to discount it all. I try to e objective,& cautious as to what I consider a ‘true’ paranormal event. I am ‘slightly’ psychic ( think what you will of that statement! ). Yet I try to retain a reasonable amount of cautious common sense. I will examine an event from ‘all’ angles,& rationale before I realize that it’s truly unexplainable.

    The house that my late husband, my mother-in-law,& I occupied for almost 4 years more than reaffirmed my belief the other-worldly. I do not subscribe to the theory of mass-hallucination as I cannot believe that multiple individuals of different backgrounds,& what have you, can witness the same, exact thing,& describe it down to the last detail in the same way. Mass-hallucination is a term coined by the scientific community to put a tag on something that ‘they’ are incapable of giving a pat,& rational explanation to. Yet they want to appear to be intellectually adept in our eyes by giving something a name.

    I know what myself,& others witnessed,& endured in ‘that’ house. Things literally disappearing into thin air,& turning up in the most ridiculous place afterwards. An incredible cold spot in an isolated area of the attic while the rest of the attic’s temperature was 95-100+ degrees in the summertime. Hearing heavy footsteps when no one else was around. Being poked,& hearing our names called when there was no one even in the area to do so. Hoards, yes, hoards of spiders appearing out of nowhere,& other infestations that had absolutely no rational explanation. Those were some of the things we endured. How we maintained our sanity is anyone’s guess. Including ours! Even ‘we’ didn’t know how we managed to get through all that. However, we did have to move. There are some things in this world that are beyond comprehension,& beyond resolve. In those instances, it is best to just leave. That is precisely what we had to do. Even after all that we had a very hard time readjusting to relative normalcy for several years. It left a definite imprint on us.

    I appreciate your site for giving me an opportunity to relate my experiences. I, also, appreciate your fair,& open-mindedness in regards to your treatment of such material. I am not trying to sway anyone’s opinions in regards to the subject of ghosts, the paranormal,& such. I am merely relating what happened to me,& to others as an absolute.& undeniable fact. It ‘did’ happen,& I managed to find the courage, after 40 years, to finally record the event. I hope that this either helps, or enlightens others to the unseen world around us. You can close your eyes, but not your mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was reading the book WOMAN WALKING AHEAD and in that book she mentions my distant cousin Dr. Thomas Augustus Bland had invented something to detect ghosts/apparitions. I never could find that patent or more info on it but in my world, spirits (who we call ancestors) are everywhere and with us in Indian Country.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Denise, all our ancestors, yours and mine, are here with us. It’s the quiet voice I hear early in the morning – right before I am awake. (not every day but often) They use dreams to talk to us. It is very reassuring.

    Liked by 1 person

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