One thing I noticed was that a common theme in these television shows, save for Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, was a "scare" factor. I've always been confused by the thought of ghosts being scary. I don't understand why they would be, at one time they were human. Are humans scary? Not usually.
Unless they're wearing polyester and eating tuna fish sandwiches.
I'm also amazed with the amount of effort people put out to quantify and prove their existence. Once they prove ghosts exist--then what?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and just say; "Yes. I believe in ghosts." I've seen them, I've heard them, blah, blah, blah. And after ruling out every logical explanation, I'm still left with; "Yes. I believe in ghosts." Is it scary to see a ghost? Not really. I've always been of the ilk, "It is what it is." Do I believe that ghosts can harm the living?
I have to say "no" to that too. But then, I've never been harmed by a ghost so perhaps it's a mindset. Maybe if I had been, I would feel differently.
So why people afraid of ghosts? In this culture you could attribute a fear of the unknown as the main reason. Not helpful either, are claims of people being harmed by ghosts and overly-dramatic television shows. Different cultures define ghosts different ways. There are the ghosts that were once human, and ghosts that are something else entirely (which would be another blog post). And while most cultures regard ancestral spirits as innocuous, they can also be regarded as undesirable if they continue to be present.
Ghosts: the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear to the living. The belief is wide-spread in most cultures and dates back to pre-literate cultures and folk religions, animism and ancestor worship. It can also reference a good or evil spirit (ie. angel or demon) in some belief systems.
The appearance and ideas of ghosts vary according to culture.
The ancient Egyptians believed that ghosts were created at the time of death. They took on the memories and appearance of the dead and traveled to the Netherworld to continue a life similar to that of the living.
Historical writings of pre-5th century Greece mentioned that ghosts could appear as vapor offering advice and prophecies to the living, but they weren't to be feared.
The Aztec believed that souls of the fallen warriors and women who died in childbirth would be transformed into hummingbirds that would follow the sun on its journey through the sky. Spirit and soul were two different things, however. The soul of a woman who died in childbirth may be transformed into a hummingbird, but the spirit became Cihuateteo. For five days out of the year, the Cihuateteo descended to earth and haunted crossroads to steal children.
In India, ghosts or bhoots are restless spirits with unfinished business. They can shape shift into various animals. Most appear human, but with one telling trait: their feet are backwards and sometimes certain features are upside-down. They also tend to lurk in trees and wear white clothing.
Ghosts in many Asian cultures are often seen as harmful. Ancestral ghosts can be helpful as long as they're appeased and rewarded for their help. Hungry ghosts, however, are seen as beings driven by intense emotional needs in an animalistic way. They are the ghosts of greedy or jealous people who were unable to appreciate what they had in life.
In the Amazon rainforest, the Wari believe that the spirits of dead people may appear as jima. The jima have cold, poisonous hands and can pull a person's spirit away.
In South Africa there are many beliefs about ghosts and evil spirits. The Bantu people speak of the tokoloshe. An evil spirit summoned by those wanting to make trouble for others. The tokoloshe can create illness or even death.
The Indigenous Australians believe that after death, relatives or close friends must sit by the grave of the deceased to ensure that the spirit of the deceased would go to the spirit place. Once this was completed (or the mourning was completed) the persons name was never to be mentioned again.
In view of this, one can see that there are many different beliefs pertaining to ghosts. In this culture, ghosts seem to break down into three categories; ghosts with unfinished business, ghosts that repeat a moment in time, and then the third; the ones with issues. Ghosts with issues choose to scare or annoy the living for various reasons. I look on these entities as bullies of the spiritual playground. Stand tall and they tend to leave you alone. Let them push you around and you are setting yourself up to be bullied.
So, what are your thoughts and experiences with ghosts? Real or imaginary? Scary or something we have yet to discover?