Coming from a medical/science background as I do, I do not really believe in Ghosts but, like many people do accept that there are some things (the hereafter for instance) that we know little about. Ghosts and the belief in all things spiritual is one area that fascinates most people even though the common sense part of their brains tell them it’s so much bunkum. The existence (or not) of ghosts has been the subject of many research projects dating back as far as anyone can remember and yet the phenomenon continues to confound experts as the reality cannot be proved beyond doubt one way or the other.
For me, as a writer, humanity’s belief in ghosts is great fictional material and I unashamedly use it in my stories – when appropriate.
Some things you may not have known about ghosts:
Ghosts are universal and (with different names) exist in every culture in the world. Belief in their existence goes back centuries to pre-literate culture. Indeed the great poet Homer talks of the ‘spirits of death’ standing about in their thousands, in the Iliad.
Ghosts are considered unnatural and undesirable as they are seen to come from a place we know nothing about so we are therefore naturally fearful. However not all ghostly encounters are threatening as ghosts can sometimes be viewed as benign guides with messages for the living and/or unfinished business in this life.
Ghosts can sometimes be known as revenants. A revenant comes from folklore and is a visible ghost or animated corpse (un-dead) returned from the grave to seek revenge or terrorise the living.
The airy, ethereal apparition which is usually associated with visible sightings of ghosts may have emanated from the belief that the soul or spirit of a person resides within them and at death leaves the body from the mouth as a breath-type mist. In the Bible, God animates Adam with a breath.
The appearance of ghost or spirits is often seen as a bad omen or portent of death.
In a recent survey it was found that approximately one third of Americans believe in spirits or ghosts.
Finally, many classical writers and poets since time immemorial have used spirits or ghostly apparitions in their works - from Homer to Shakespeare, Dickens, Wilde, Milton and Coleridge. Never mind Poe and other actual horror writers. So, to my mind those of us who occasionally use ghosts and spirits in our stories are in good company – even if we can only aspire to the lofty heights our predecessors rose to.
Do you enjoy a good ghost story?