Encyclopedia of the Unexplained
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Musings on the Afterlife, Ghosts, and the Veil Between Realities
We all tend to by fascinated by questions about the afterlife - what happens to people after they die, for example, or what we will experience after we transition. Connected to these questions is the issue of ghosts and apparitions. What do these phenomena say about the afterlife and our universe?
I have pondered these questions myself over the years, in addition to having some direct experiences that have given me information, and would like to offer some insight that may shed more light on these topics and give more than the usual explanations.
I've been privileged to tap into the Other Side over and over again in my intuitive work with clients over the years and have somewhat of an outsider's glimpse into it as a result. (As I write "outsider," I have one of those "not quite true" gut feelings that denies what one has stated - probably because since birth I've felt more comfortable There than here on Earth.) At any rate, I've been able to get a glimmer of the Other Side over and over again.
Most of us have witnessed mediums communicating with departed loved ones, one of the ways that many people have gotten a sense of the afterlife. What has struck me about mediumship is that every medium I have thus far seen appears to be communicating with the personality of the person who died. But that's not what I get when I tap into the transitioned loved ones of my clients - and frankly this has puzzled me.
When I tune into someone who has died, I often have to do two things: first, tune into the person in life (when he/she was still alive) to verify that I've got the right person, and, secondly, to then tune into the person at the present time. However, when I tune into the present, I don't usually get the personality of that last lifetime. Instead, I get the higher soul awareness, rather than the Sue or Tom that my client would recognize or know.
What I've come to learn is that we have a different persona (or personality) from one lifetime to another. Just as we will change gender, race, nationality (planet), etc. in different lifetimes, so too will we have different personalities.
At some point after we transition, we drop the persona of that lifetime and get into our higher soul awareness, the awareness that transcends and incorporates all the personas we've adopted from lifetime to lifetime. Whereas in life we may have been American, for example, our higher soul awareness is that of a child of the universe, not identified with any one country or culture. (Yet we can always remember who we were in any lifetime.) I've seen some people who were able to get into their higher soul awareness almost immediately upon transitioning (perhaps because they had a deeper or more conscious spirituality during their previous life), and I've seen others who took much longer to do so (and were actually struggling to acclimate to where they were for any of a variety of reasons). The length of time it takes to acclimate will vary from person to person (bearing in mind, of course, that time as it may exist on the Other Side, has no direct correlation to our experience of time here). Yes, it does get complicated!
Insofar as what people are doing on the Other Side is concerned, I've gotten quite diverse things - things that have given me an even better sense of the afterlife. (Because I've covered that in my book Invisible Blueprints, I won't detail it here.) What I would like to say here, though, is that our loved ones don't forget those they left behind on Earth. Even though they get into their higher soul awareness at some point and have dropped the personality of their last lifetime, they remember their loved ones, are aware of what they are experiencing, and are fully able to project their personality to their loved ones whenever they choose to. This may be what mediums are communicating with: the projection of the personality. And the reason for this may be that loved ones left behind would not take as much comfort from a communication from the higher soul awareness, devoid of the personality they knew in life. Passed-on loved ones are aware of this fact, choosing to project what would be both recognizable and comforting to those on Earth.
Ghosts and Apparitions
No discussion of departed souls would be complete without a discussion of ghosts and apparitions. I recently attended the Mensa Annual Gathering at which there were two presentations on ghosts, in addition to mine on intuition. (And, yes, Mensans were genuinely interested in these topics.) Neither presenter on ghosts covered the source of the "hauntings" in much depth - i.e., what caused them. Yet the question fascinates me.
I have read a great deal about the subject of ghosts in the last forty years, and I even lived in a house that was haunted back in the mid-70s outside of Chapel Hill. From what I've read and experienced, I feel that different hauntings can come from a range of causes.
Let's take that haunted house I lived in. The house had been built in the early 20th Century and lived in by the same family for about fifty years, but had been vacant for almost twenty years when I moved in. The first night I spent there, I saw a ball of light go through the room after the light had been turned off. This was my first such experience - and it really jolted me. (It's one thing to read about such things and quite another to experience it for the first time.) I also heard noises, like a party going on, from a room across the hall, a room that was physically empty at the time. Over the next couple of years, there were noises upstairs that sounded like children running through the room (even though the room was full of boxes and furniture and had no clear path for anyone to run through) and drawers being opened and closed. Footsteps were heard coming down the stairs a few nights, articles were moved on occasion, and the dogs would sometimes yelp and jump off the front porch. A figure fitting the description of the father of the family would sometimes be seen outside at dusk.
The noises were quite real. If I had had a tape recorder, I'm sure they could have been recorded. However, those noises felt to me that they were simply an accumulation of daily noises from the past - a residue still in the house Ñ auditory manifestations devoid of any volition or intent. In other words, the children weren't trying to haunt and I didn't feel that a presence was trying to create them. The daily activities and noises of the family from over the decades were simply imprinted in some way on the house and its atmosphere.
The articles being moved, on the other hand, did seem to have volition behind them, as if someone had willfully and deliberately - if not mischievously - moved them.
What this means is that not all apparitions or manifestations are caused intentionally or that there is an intentional haunting.
There are often hauntings and apparitions in locations where there was tragedy, massive death, or great pain and suffering or stress. Take the battlefield at Gettysburg, for example, which has been reported to be haunted, or a house where there's been a sudden, violent, or tragic death. I feel that a place that has seen intense or consistent suffering is imprinted with the emotional intensity - the emotional residue - of those involved, without any volition or intent to haunt. After all, emotions are energy, and intense emotions are intensified energy which can imprint on a physical location.
A friend recently visited an old battleship and felt the presence of the spirits of the men who had served on the ship still there. She questioned the haunting nature of this experience. Yet it may not be a true haunting in the sense of someone departed trying to haunt a place. The ship certainly saw a lot of emotional intensity during its service - fear, intense focus during battles, painful death - and that emotionality very well may have been imprinted on the ship. And, additionally, some spirits may still be there, haunting it.
A few years ago, I visited a courthouse in a small town in Arkansas widely reputed to be haunted. I was told by the guide that people who attempted to spend the night in the courtroom were usually spooked (pun intended) by what they saw, sensed, and heard - and often flee from the building. In the courtroom myself, I could feel a sense of all the people who had been in there over the years and I could sense their anxiety as they waited for their cases to be heard. Whether that was a residue or there were presences still there, I failed to try to determine. In one of the stairwells, the guide asked if I could feel anything and I replied that I had the sense of someone's death, perhaps a rope. It turned out that someone had been lynched and hung there. The intensity of that fear and pain, I feel, was imprinted on the place, even though it didn't feel that the victim was truly haunting the spot intentionally.
That said, there can also be intentional haunting, by those who have died and haven't acclimated to where they are and haven't moved on. In this case, I would say that they haven't dropped their personalities from the lifetime and are clinging to aspects of that life and unresolved issues. It is this type of case in which people - ghost whisperers, if you will - will attempt to assist them by getting them to "go to the light" or helping them to resolve their unresolved issues. For all I know, in situations like these it's also possible that the person did indeed get into his/her higher soul awareness after transitioning and the haunting may be an imprinted residue due to the intensity of the situation or a projection from the higher soul awareness, due to something being unresolved. (It gets even more complicated!)
Here's yet another cause of an apparition: one presenter at the Mensa Gathering mentioned a Tibetan priest who had intentionally physically "resurrected" someone who had passed on - conjured him/her up physically. We could call this type of instance a ghost, but one has to wonder where its consciousness is - and this situation would be devoid of volition on the part of the ghost.
And now consider this instance: there was a fascinating and widely related account of two English women, Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, both academics from Oxford, who went to Paris on holiday in 1901 and toured Versailles while there. Finding their surroundings strange and encountering oddly-dressed people (in old-fashioned clothes), the two women felt that things were not quite "right" and subsequently did some research after their return to England. They discovered that the Versailles they had visited was the Versailles of the 18th Century without the architectural details and changes that had been made since that time. One woman they had seen in Versailles they later realized was Marie Antoinette. They subsequently wrote an account of their experience in An Adventure. (A good account may be found at http://members.aol.com/timeslip8888/versailles.html.) Basically these two women upon arriving in Paris had suddenly stepped into a former century.
How do we explain this type of apparition - more of a time warp than a haunting? It would appear to be the intersection of two time periods - two dimensions that inexplicably intersected, with one supplanting the other. In instances such as these, we have to wonder if the people populating these other time periods can see us and our present time period.
And now, consider this case: a friend of mine related to me an out-of-body experience he had in the sleep state. In this out-of-the-body experience, he traveled to the place where his grandfather had lived - as well as to the time period that his grandfather was alive there. During this experience, he met, talked with, and interacted with someone there. He told me that he knew during the experience that he had gone to this previous time period and even told the person he was speaking with that he didn't live there. He related to me the person's total shock as my friend dematerialized before his eyes as he was preparing to return to his body. So this represents yet another potential cause of apparitions: someone time-traveling during an out-of-body experience.
As you can see, there are neither consistent nor simplistic explanations for these phenomena. We may want simple explanations and we may want to understand the afterlife in our normal or our customary cultural terms, but this is not the case. My sense is that the afterlife has many surprises for us. Passed-on loved ones are not restricted to their former personalities. And hauntings, ghost, and apparitions are not necessarily caused by the same factor - or by people always trying to haunt. What this speaks to, I feel, is that our world truly reveals a greater deal of complexity than we may either realize or give it credit for. Wonderfully intricate world fully deserving of our respect and awe, isn't it?
This article was first published in the October/November 2007 issue of "Innerchange Magazine."
Diane Brandon - About the Author:
Diane Brandon is the Host of "Living Your Power" on the Health & Wellness Channel of VoiceAmerica.com, as well as an Intuition Teacher, Integrative Intuitive Counselor, and Speaker. She is the author of "Invisible Blueprints" and several articles on personal growth topics, as well as a contributing author to "Speaking Out" and "The Long Way Around: How 34 Women Found the Lives They Love." Her private work with individuals focuses on personal growth, working with dreams, and personal empowerment, and she has done corporate seminars on intuition, creativity, and listening skills. More information may be found on her websites, www.dianebrandon.com and www.dianebrandon.net. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
Farmer With an Axe Handle; A Haunting Encounter
Old New England Estate
late August 2006
I have a friend of mine whose been metal detecting for over 20 years and he'd shown me some interesting artifacts he discovered. Many of the items of were found on an estate in southern Vermont that dated back before the Civil War.
One day, during the late afternoon, we had the idea to lay out the stuff on a white blanket on top of a rod iron patio table and take a picture.. Both of us are very interested in history, and this expresses itself in his propensity for metal detecting and my interest in the paranormal.
It was about 11pm at night and my friend and I were standing around a campfire in his backyard. I had wanted to visit the estate where he discovered most of the artifacts because he told me about being 'helped along' by a ghost when he was metal detecting. This took the form of a helpful hand on his back.
"No way, you've been touched?" I said, a little too exuberantly.
"Oh yeah. It was like I was walking in line. I paused a moment, and felt a hand on my back. It was like it was encouraging me to keep moving."
My friend isn't scared of ghosts, but he is very leery. Of course, he probably is wise to be cautious.When you've seen full-bodied apparitions that have spoken to you, ended up in a line of ghostly revolutionary war soldiers, and been metal detecting and found a ring still attached to skeletal hand and arm hen re-bury it-ring intact-as quickly as you can, he had every right to be wary.
So, after nagging him for about a year, he finally indulged me, and we hiked down the road and crept up on the big estate during the full moon.
We stuck to the shadows as we edged up to the well-manicured lawn and looked toward the house-an old New England estate that even had a photograph of some Civil War soldiers standing outside the residence hanging in a frame above the fireplace. This photograph could be easily seen-I had glimpsed it one during the day-if you could get close enough to peek inside the large bay window looking in on the living room.
I had kept telling my friend that I wanted to run up and look in the window. He said that he didn't think that this was a good idea. My friend had permission to be on the property to metal detect whenever he wanted, and we weren't worried about the police arresting us for trespassing as both of us are the trust-worthy sort.
The house wasn't abandoned by any stretch of the imagination, though we knew no one was there. Well-taken care of by a caretaker, it was an excellent example of an old New England salt box, with an old red barn on the property. Considering the historical nature of the location-and with all the artifacts that had been discovered-the place something we definitely treated with respect.
We had crept to the edge of a lilac bush, next to a big tree, across an expanse of lawn from window that I planned to look in. Being a fledgling paranormal investigator at the time, I had a vague realization that this isn't really how you should do that sort of thing, and wasn't prepared in the least.
With this thought in my brain, I made a break for the house. I ran to the northwest corner, and hid in the shadow of a rhoderdenron from which I could inch my way up and peek in the picture window.
I moved forward very slowly. The sound of the crickets and other insects was very loud. I got to the edge of the window, and put my hand on the frame, pulling myself forward, just wanting to gain enough of an angle where I could seen the picture hanging above the mantle.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the front door. Two solid knocks. I paused, and had the distinct feeling that looking inside the house wasn't such a good idea. I turned and ran back toward the tree-across the open yard-to where my friend was standing.
At the same time I saw a shadow rush out from the door to the barn, which was closed. At the same time, my friend swears he saw a farmer in overalls moving quickly from the barn toward the house, with something like a shovel or axe handle in his hand. By the time I had made it to my friends location, the apparition had disappeared.
We stood underneath the tree, trying to comprehend what had just happened.
"What the hell did you do?" he asked. I had no answer to his question.
We crept slowly along the edge of the shadows to the road, then walked home.
Something I have learned is to respect the paranormal. And intent is everything. If we hadn't been sneaking around like we were, perhaps we would've had a completely different experience. My feeling is that we stirred something up, and it reacted to us.
And, whatever it was, it wasn't messing around. Instead it appeared to be protecting the location, ensuring that the property was safe from two people who hadn't made their intent clear.
In all my years of ghost hunting, this remains one of the strangest and most unsettling experiences I've had, and it's not one I intend to repeat. Now, I go in with an open mind and announce my intentions, ensuring that whatever spirits I encounter don't misconstrue my curiosity for something else.
Bobby Elgee - About the Author:
Bobby Elgee is an investigator for Sights Unseen Paranormal,a ghost hunting team based in New England.