The hitchhiker is a ghost which appears by the side of the highway, looking for a ride. In some reports, the ghost is picked up and then vanishes from the car. In some, ghost is dropped off and it is only later discovered that it wasn’t a living person. There are many accounts of hitchhiking ghosts at crossroads and outside of cemeteries. One I’ve run across often is the ghost of a young lady, dressed for a dance, who is at the side of the road and then disappears when witnesses get to the spot, or after the person stops the car.
This story and its variations are so frequently related that it may well be a kind of Jungian symbol or archetype, drawn from the universal unconscious. They are certainly a kind of modern urban legend. Because of the frequency of these sightings (whether actual ghosts or something else), questions arise about their spiritual, emotional or cultural meaning.
The crossroads version of the ghost at the side of the road calls to mind the idea of ley lines. Theoretically, ley lines run along many existing roads. These lines are said to align old monuments and geological features, and some modern theorists believe the lines conduct a kind of energy. Thus, when ghosts and other paranormal phenomena occur, ley lines may, according to those who believe in them, be a causative factor. Crossroads, in fact, might also in some cases be ley line intersections, as well. Theorists would say that explains why there are so many legends and accounts of apparitions witnessed at crossroads.
Have you seen a crossroads ghost, or a roadside phantom, or read about them? Might there be associated symbolism or meaning? What about ghosts on the edge of the cemetery, looking for a ride? Whenever something is so often reported it becomes lore, it’s worth looking at. If these phenomena are not actually ghosts (and many may be exactly that) what else might they represent? Why do people see them? As is the case so often, we are left with more questions than answers…
(Writing from northern Florida…there may be hurricane-related interruptions in the days to come – thanks for your patience!).