Welcome to the third in an ongoing series about the paranormal/ghost hunting that I’m writing based on my studies for my upcoming novel, Geist. You can read the second part, about the tools of ghost hunting, here. You can also read the first post, about H.P. Lovecraft as an influence, here.
Having consumed a great deal of ghost hunting material and now digging into the past of the pursuit, both fictional and real, I thought it might be time to pause and take stock of some of the theories surrounding ghost hunting and paranormal activities. First, let’s define just what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about several different classes of “ghostly” activities:
- Noises – i.e., voices, unexplained bumps, footsteps, etc.
- Physical Manifestations – things moving by themselves, doors shutting on their own, etc.
- Apparitions – shadows moving of their own volition, partial-torso apparitions, full-body apparitions. What people think of as “ghosts”.
We need to further break these down into a few other categories that have been observed by ghost hunters:
- Ghosts of “people” – These are thought to have once been living human beings.
- “Demons” – Apparitions that were never people and seem to be malevolent. The Shadows mentioned above tend to fall into this category.
In addition, hunters talk about “residual” hauntings that play like a recording and “active” hauntings where they observe what they think to be intelligent entities interacting with the hunters.
Right away, you might think that’s a lot of categories and subcategories – what are the odds that they’re even all manifestations of the same thing or class of things? Well, that was my thought, anyway, and I don’t think they are. My own theories at least put those into different frameworks. I’m convinced that something is going on when it comes to this stuff. I’ve seen things that I just could not explain within what we currently know. As to whether it’s the dead or some sort of natural phenomenon playing tricks on the collective unconscious…I can’t say that for certain. Like I said, I have theories of a few different phenomena going on but I’m not ready to talk about my own theories just yet. Hell, I’m still trying to decide which direction Geist will go, though with a certain portion of the plot it has to follow at least a path of theories.
Still, the ghost hunting community has taken a few things as solid fact and have different sets of theories around it. Paranormal Underground has a great post about just this thing, talking about the “dogma” of ghost hunting and how certain things are taken to be truths while they may be partially or completely false.
That said, let’s look at the popular theories:
- Dead People – The oldest and most obvious of theories; most of these are dead people trying to communicate with the living. They may have refused to “move on” and instead stay in our world in a sort of limbo.
- Telekinesis/Psychic Powers – This one postulates that these manifestations are the result of untapped, unconscious abilities within the human mind, and go beyond just the ability to affect physical matter at a distance. It includes being able to mess with cameras, electronics, and even the minds of others. Poltergeists are typically supposed to be the result of these.
- Energy Imprint – This speculates that turbulent emotions or violent actions somehow imprint their energy upon a place and these things replay like a video, looping over and over again. Let me just say I hate this vague “energy” that’s thrown around, but as kooky as this sounds, I have some theories about how this theory could actually work that involve magnetic recording (and I have a feeling the strength of EM fields somehow relates to this).
- Demonic Activity – To give credit, “demon” is not typically meant in the Judeo-Christian form here. Demon just refers to any entities that feed on negative energy and attack or torment humans. This theory often just assumes that these Shadow People are part of an eternal battle between good and evil fought just out of the view of human eyes.
- Hallucinations – People who have encounters with the paranormal are subject to some sort of hallucination; these could be the result of micro-seizures or some other mental illness. Some postulate that these are often caused by…
- Exposure to Low Frequencies/EM – I’ve talked before about how researchers can shoot EM energy into a mind and create a religious experience. This is a variation on that; observers are typically working in high-EM areas with poor electric wiring that can induce either hallucinations or create odd sounds and smells. I think there’s a lot of credence to this one, but it can’t be used to explain things like cameras capturing chairs moving, doors closing on their own, footprints in dust, etc.
- Carbon Monoxide – Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause confusion and hallucinations. Combine an old edifice that might have a leak with someone in a heightened state of confusion and everyday occurrences could look sinister.
- Earth Tremors – The moving items I described above could certainly be ascribed to minor, local tremors. Earthquakes also have a connection to the Earth’s electromagnetic field, so those tremors could also be loosing some form of EM on that location in addition to making things move. I suspect this is responsible for a class of hauntings all its own.
In more earthly news, my other blog, Found Music, is featuring cassette music this week; specifically, Sugamyth, a New York-based R&B indie group and Denzil, an obscure but well-respected alternative pop band from the mid-90s:
Sugamyth appears to be a New York-based R&B/rock band featuring three lead singers that trade off songs. I say “appears to be” because information on the band is incredibly limited online. I really could only find a blurb from their former drummer. I actually found what I think is a former member online and asked for an interview, but she didn’t get back to me in time for this post. Shame, really…
If I were pressed to describe the band’s sound, I’d say (Denzil) show definite signs of being influenced by that legendary English pop band, XTC, with perhaps a littleElvis Costello-meets-the-Kinks. For a more modern point of reference, they’re something of a Kooks progenitor (if you’re familiar with them). The first track, Useless, is the big hit here, if you can call it that. It’s very radio-friendly and actually got some radio airplay back in 1994, but failed to catch on even when they won every award under the sun. This one most clearly shows the XTC influence, sounding like something off of Skylarking infused with a 1990′s sensibility.
Head on over and check them out!