Monday, September 22, 2008

Haunted Houses I


photo by Robert Estall.
England, I assume.

In spirit pathology, one explanation for flitting ghostly figures revolves around the theory that specters appear at, and are tied to, a specific location, such as scenes of violent death -- battlefields, brigand ambushes, horrific accidents and trysting sites for lovers being the most popular.

One of the reasons, I suppose, why I am not impressed with the idea of graveyard ghosts. Not too many people die in graveyards. One is as apt to suspect a wandering sheep.

Premises of some sort, however, are really the historical favourite -- particularly such interesting piles as ruined abbeys and ancient mansions, all that crumbling stone and creeping vine -- probably because we know that such places over time have accumulated the sort of high emotional content likely to precipitate violent acts. Wayside inns are another approved haunting site, simply on the odds: the sheer aggregate of people passing through increase probability.

Some claim that strong emotions: fear, hoplessness, anger or hate, generated at or before death by either the victim or the victimizer, imprint the scene on the surroundings and are the explanation of many apparitions, often classified as recorder ghosts. (Recorder ghosts are the spooks observed repeating the same movements or actions over and over.)

Reasonably, trees and brush which may be cut down or die off are not the best material to receive a lasting imprint for spectral purposes, hence the popularity and longevity of ghosts among the more inert and receptive stuff found in buildings.

And, of courses, houses are where we sleep, and where we are therefore subject to certain hallucinatory phenonema arising from the semi-wakeful mind.


31 comments:

BernardL said...

Having lived near wooded areas growing up, I practiced being unafraid by traipsing around the woods at night, pretending I was a monster in the darkness. In creeping about our homegrown forest, I could look out at the dwellings beyond, blind to my presence. Perfectly still, or as close as a kid ever gets to it, I would stalk the lighted world. Maybe that’s what ghosts do in a graveyard. :)

StarvingWriteNow said...

Aside from violent deaths, etc. that you mentioned, I always figured ghosts had unfinished business. (Except for my grandma, who apparently just likes hanging out with me.)

Gabriele C. said...

Not too many people die in graveyards. One is as apt to suspect a wandering sheep.

I have a story here:

In pre WW2 times (maybe even today, but I don't know for sure) the village teacher and the village priest were the ones people went to when they had problems. And when the teacher was in the inn drinking with the priest and the GroƟbauern (the upper crust farmers) they may have gone to his wife. The problem in question: a ghost in the graveyeard. So my grandmother, not prone to believe in spectral appearances, went to have a look at that ghost, a trail of trembling village women behind - in safe distance. There was indeed a shadow among the tombstones, sniffling and munching, and it didn't smell too nice, either. Surely one of the devil's minions.

Well, grandma wasn't scared by the devil, either, and bravely went into the graveyard to check what exactly was munching the grass there. Easily identified in the moonlight was ....

an ugly, stinky billy goat.

Now my grandma had a problem because she wasn't comfortable around animals other than cats and small dogs. It took her some time to convince the assembled village women that it was not a ghost or the devil, but once a more resolute one joined her between the tombstones and confirmed the diagnosis, it didn't take long to find out who owned the billy goat which was then dragged out of spicy goat paradies into the stable.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

One of the most documented haunted buildings in the US is the Stanley Hotel, where the SHINING was filmed. A stay at that hotel prompted King's book. It does have some intelligent hauntings--children, for instance--but also a reputation for "Recorder" hauntings. One of the theories behind this is the bedrock beneath this hotel and other places. I can't recall exactly the elements, but often the rock formations make up the components of a battery, thereby "fueling" the recordings. It's something they've found on Ghost Hunters over and over again.

I love when sciece and mystique come together.

Bernita said...

I've never been afraid of the night either, bernard. I think darkness protective.

The violent emotions theory certainly doesn't account for all examples, Beth. Not by a long shot.

I love, that, Gabriele! I imagine they first reported horns too - clearly devilish!

The electro-magnetic theory, Betsy. I think it has plausibility. A variation of the theory may account for some reports of "ghost lights" as well.

Charles Gramlich said...

The "semi-wakeful mind." That's my primary candidate.

Bernita said...

Does seem to account for a variety of experiences, Charles. Quite tidily.

ChrisEldin said...

OOOO! Crumbling stone and creeping vine.... Love it!!

Hope you do a post on recorder ghosts. I'm going to learn a lot over here!
:-)

raine said...

The recorder ghost idea is interesting. One wonders if it involves some kind of time displacement, or, if it's residual energy left behind by the departed, why it doesn't dissipate, or why that particular repeated action would be so important...
Love the photo.

The Anti-Wife said...

So, if they stay in the buildings or the ruins of buildings, what happens when a building is torn down and all the refuse is taken away? Do they go with the refuse or stick around and haunt the grounds?

Lana Gramlich said...

Your last paragraph is right on the mark, of course.

Bernita said...

The screaming shade of Catherine Howard (Henry VIII) seems to fall into that category, Chris.

Raine, that some ghosts do seem to fade over time and be less evident supports, to a degree, the residual energy idea and that the energy does eventually dissipate.

Seems to depend on just what the spirits are attached to, AW - or why they lurk around, perhaps.
In some cases, the destruction of the building apparently destroys the apparition; in other other cases, not, and hauntings persist.
And, of course, there's examples of haunted objects.
The thing is, no one theory provides an adequate explanation for every variety.

Bernita said...

Stuies do seem to affirm that our synapses function in ways that may produce certain effects viewed previously as paranormal events, Lana.

Steve Malley said...

There was a piece in the Telegraph yesterday about a haunted house in Nottinghamshire.

writtenwyrdd said...

And then there are those ghosties that seem to follow one from place to place.

I knew when my grandfather died because I felt him drop in to say hello on his way out. And a crazy relative used to come bother family members after she died. Everyone agreed it was her, lol.

Scott from Oregon said...

My research for a project led me to this interesting article--

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1842627,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-healthsci


It'll be interesting to see what they come away with...

Bernita said...

'Tis the season, Steve!

Gramps sounds like the type classified as a crisis apparition, Written.

Indeed, Scott! The subject(s) needs/need more serious studies. I have always wondered why many people apparently do NOT have NDEs. Alsdo wonder how they will avoid the sheep/goat effect.

writtenwyrdd said...

I never thought of those as crises; the dead tend to say bye before they leave the mortal coil. But that is a good term for it nevertheless!

Ello said...

I love that picture. And ooh you gave me a shiver with your post. I do believe this having walked into places where you can feel a horror that seeps into your bones. You just know the place has unhappy spirits. Oh I'm shuddering!

laughingwolf said...

drunk/drugged minds perceive such more often, too :)

Demon Hunter said...

I love the dark! :-)

I remember going on a field trip to an old plantation, but the upstairs was cordoned off due to too many ghosts. As kids, we were freaked out. I seen my fair share of things that others would consider frightening. :-)

writtenwyrdd said...

It's amazing how our perceptions affect the experience of ghosts and horror. On the Ghosthunters show they talk about "fear cages" where certain configurations of piping, wiring and whatnot can cause sypmptoms like sourceless fear, the sense of being watched, etc because they affect the electromagnetic fields somehow.

Likewise, if a place is shadowy, or in disrepair, it can evoke the expectation of a haunting and just the setting makes one anticipate horror. I recall touring the Winchester Mystery House in the 70s before they renovated the place, and there was a lot of shadow, missing plaster and cobwebs. It felt rather creepy so the ghost tales seemed more likely. But touring it in the 90s after the renovations, it was just a really nice old house with some weird doors opening to nowhere (or mid air!) and stairs cut off by ceilings.

Bernita said...

Seems it's the "official" term, Written.

Have been in a place like that, Ello.

Makes me more curious than frightened, my Demon.

Written, I believe they've discovered that certain low levels of sound as well can create the impression of a presence glimpsed at the corner of the eye.

Bernita said...

Right, Lw. Which is why I suppose many reports emphasis that the individual was of a "sober character" to imply credibility.

Aine said...

I'll add "wishful thinking" to Charles' "semi-wakeful mind".

Thanks for stimulating my Halloween mood, Bernita! I love this time of the year....
:)

Bernita said...

Wishful thinking does seem to account for some instances, Aine -- but no one explanation is adequate, no one ring rules them all.

Virginia Lady said...

I tend to agree that graveyards and cemeteries aren't where one would find a ghost, but your post made me think of Gettysburg. Many men died on that battlefield and were buried there. And lots of people have seen ghosts and heard ghosts and witnessed a variety of strange phenomena. That I think is an exception to the 'no ghosts in a graveyard' thought.

Personally, buildings rarely seem spooky to me, rather it's the everyday areas that one wouldn't expect to be creepy that often are to me.

Bernita said...

Gettysberg was a battlefield first, Virginia.
Obviously the two combined make an exception.

J. L. Krueger said...

One of my favorite places to stay in Scotland is Castle Stuart in Nairn. Like many castles in Scotland it stakes the claim to be the most haunted.

There is one room that visitors are specifically warned about due to repeated "odd happenings." It also happens to be my wife's and my favorite room in the castle situated at the top of the castle’s East tower with views of the Moray Firth.

One year the room was not available because another couple had booked it and we had to settle for a different room. Upon arrival we were informed that the couple had left suddenly due a terrifying incident in the room the night before.

Apparently their wine glasses had flown across the room into the fireplace around 2AM and bed had shaken as if something was trying to dump them out. The terrified couple paid for their one night, but refused to stay for breakfast, having left before sunrise.

We got the room. When we entered the room we thanked the ghost for freeing up our favorite room and had a very pleasant and relaxing couple of nights. We often joke that “our ghost” looks out for us. It turns out that there may some “truth” to the joke.

In the last couple of years I found out that one of my ancestors may be James Stuart, 1st Earl of Moray, half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots. James Stuart started the castle, but was assassinated in Edinburgh before he could complete it. The 2nd Earl was also murdered. The castle was completed by James Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Moray in 1625.

Sorry for getting too gabby, but your ghostly stories are bringing it out.

Angie said...

Reasonably, trees and brush which may be cut down or die off are not the best material to receive a lasting imprint for spectral purposes

Now there's a plot bunny. :) A recorder ghost getting imprinted on a grand old oak, then a century or so later the tree is cut down and the wood used to make something -- a wardrobe? A bed? A cottage? And the object is haunted because the wood was.

I can see a paranormal investigator trying to solve their mystery when the item they're focused on had -- in and of itself -- nothing to do with the murder or whatever, which actually took place eighteen miles away where the tree used to stand.

And what if the wood was used to make more than one item? Would part of the recording play near the nightstand and part near the kitchen table? Or maybe the ghost would appear from the waist up in the bedroom and from the waist down in the kitchen?

This is weird but there have to be at least a few story seeds hiding in it. :D

Angie

Bernita said...

Not gabby atallatallatall, JL!!
The possiility there might be a DNA connection!

Exactly! Makes a wonderful plot bunny, Angie.