I’ve written two collections of ghost stories. (Death Be Not Loud and Rest In Fleece, at amazon)as well as a nonfiction book on the subject called About Ghosts: A Useful Handbook. I teach seminars occasionally about the spirituality of the ghost story, and about the paranormal in literature. The subject matter is intriguing in many ways:
- We speculate about the Other Side, and there are countless theories about it.
- Our fear of the unknown.
- So much is written off as “wives tales” or legend, but actually, running up against ghosts, hauntings, ESP, voodoo, the Bermuda Triangle, and more, happens to people quite often. Working as a priest and as a chaplain I heard countless stories from so many individuals: and prior to that, as a columnist, I interviewed those who had had supernatural, inexplicable experiences.
- In literature, one can play with the concepts: what about life after death? Is there anything to do or is it boring? What about justice, is retribution from beyond the grave possible? Do the boring, banal and obnoxious ever get the karma they deserve? If so, how can ghosts help out with that?
- Ghost stories have been told round the campfire as far back as, well, there have been campfires! Legends continue to intrigue us.
- There are common elements in ghost stories that cross cultural and geographic lines: does this reflect some universal observations made by mankind over the eons?
- What are some of the themes in ghost stories? There are a few standard ones: retributive justice as mentioned above is one. Then there’s the unwary and somewhat careless person who pokes at something he shouldn’t and what happens as a result. There is the curse theme: someone curses someone else – personally, I like it when the curse bounces back on its maker, who usually is quite deserving! Ghost stories also play out ideas of magical thinking: if I do this, then that will happen. Or, if I imitate this I can get it to happen over there, to them. Of course there is the twilight zone between death and life. And of course, monstrous beings of different kinds. Ghost stories, too, often reflect cultural, social, psychological and spiritual ideas of a time and place. But it’s still fascinating how universal some of those ideas are.
The above categories offer food for thought about the ghost story and why it’s more than just entertainment (although we who write them do hope they entertain!). I was led to explore this subject partially because of my own strange stories; and when I realised so many others had stories, too.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Or experienced other paranormal “inexplicables?” Sit down, make yourself at home, feel free to share!
If you enjoy my blog, please share the link with your friends – and please check out my books (on amazon at the link above). Thank you!
In a crypt, I shared
dank space with ten corpses.
One said “Please . . . move over.”
j.o. 7/22/17 https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
The ghost shimmered, winked,
vanished. An inside
joke? Or just indigestion?
j.o. 7/21/17 https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
This is a true story. The subject, whom we’ll call A., has no idea what it meant, but it was a strange and vivid experience which remained with her many years later.
- A. was awakened around one a.m. by fairly voluble music. She saw light coming from under the door between her room and that of her roommate. The roommate had a record player and apparently was playing classical music. It sounded like Beethoven but the subject, who was classically versed, didn’t recognize the piece. A. thought it odd, as usually the roommate played only pop music.
- A. was about to get up to ask that the volume be turned down when, looking up, she saw a figure at the foot of her bed. It was life size, translucent and white in color: and she could see her closet door through it. It appeared to be a young woman. The eyes, apart from the rest, appeared an intense blue. The figure was wearing a kind of Grecian gown, and holding a book to her chest. A. wondered what the book was, and then the figure began to move towards her.
Although the figure didn’t seem malevolent, A. became suddenly quite fearful. The figure moved nearer until it was floating on top of the subject. A. now felt terror: she felt the being was about to merge with her, and that she would then lose herself. After that, all went dark.
When A. opened her eyes later, it was dawn. She looked up and saw a vision of very brightly colored, small birds (the size of finches but brilliantly hued) circling around her ceiling. Then, one by one, the birds silently flew, one by one, out the window. However, it was not open.
In the morning, the roommate asked A. about the music: the roommate too had been awakened, but she thought A. was the one playing the concerto.
This case is interesting because it’s corroborated: both people heard the music, which neither was playing. The vision itself was experienced only by A.
My gravestone should read
“Go Away.” Or “What
Are You Looking At?
Stories about ghosts with a warning are rife. People see these phantoms at the foot of their beds at night, or in dreams.
There’s an apocryphal story that has been told by so many that it may well be true. People see or talk to someone and then learn later that the person had died prior to that contact. This kind of ghost may be many things. An actual spirit of a departed friend, coming to say goodbye; an image of the friend from the viewer’s subconscious, due to an episode of ESP regarding the death of the individual; or, an image of that friend from the viewer’s subconscious (coincidental). The coincident angle is a tenuous one, though.
There are stories of ghosts of loved ones, awakening people to warn them of danger. It always turns out that the encounter is just in the nick of time, and results in saving individuals from a sinking ship, a fire, or some other disaster.
These ghosts are interesting: are they actual spirits of the departed? Or does the individual’s mind somehow sense the danger, and create a phantasm to get the warning across in an effective way? For that matter, is a phantasm a ghost? If it is a creation of the mind and not a departed spirit, is it any less ghostly or (since lives were saved) miraculous?
(from About Ghosts: A Useful Handbook by Jan Olandese) https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
Hit by a Rolls Royce,
John died proud. It beat
“killed by a Kia”
down by a Ford.” These
things mattered to him.
But not to his mort-
j.o. 7/18/17 https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
Ann went down, butt-slapped
by a designer
dog tote, clutched by a
striding gal. Lemming-
like, blindly drawn to
a sale at Nieman
The coroner rep-
orted ’twas death by
poodle, and Louis
j.o. 7/16/17 https://www.amazon.com/Its-Your-Funeral-Funny-Haiku/dp/1521827958/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
A guy I once knew
came by my grave to
visit and unload
He expressed sorrow
for dispatching me.
But hey: it was just
j.o. 7/15/17 https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
There’s no shopping on
the Other Side. No
shoes marked down, no ten
off racks. No bargains,
no new clothes, tv’s
or home treadmills. And
makers or that new
Porsche you liked. No stuff
j.o. 7/15/17 https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75
My new book is just out at Amazon! Have a look! It’s a huge collection of funny haiku about death, dying, heaven, hell, purgatory, past lives, what to wear to your funeral, what people do in the afterlife to keep busy, and more. I try to cover the bases 🙂
If you’ve enjoyed my haiku posts, you’ll like it! Consumer Warning: Irreverent, In Questionable Taste (and hilarious)! These are great fun, and also, a real sneaky way to approach serious spiritual questions. I take a look at heaven hell and purgatory from various skewed perspectives – and no, I didn’t leave out reincarnation. Funerals, burials: what could go wrong there? Read and see for yourself!
Tell your friends: please share the link! Thanks for reading!