Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Truth Behind Horror Movie Ghoulies Part 1: Ghosts

Rhonny here. All this month, in honor of the Halloween season, I'm going to share the origins behind some of your favorite horror film monsters and ghouls. In our first post, I'm going to talk about real life ghosts.

Ghosts have been a prominent fixture in some of our favorite scary films such as House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, and Insidious. But what is a ghost really? What causes a house to be haunted? Can someone really talk to the dead? These questions and more will be answered in this first round of "The Truth Behind Horror Movie Ghoulies".

In general terms, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear to the living, in either a visible form or some other manifestation. The belief in ghosts is widespread throughout different cultures and religions all over the world. While many non-believers try to justify sightings and hauntings as mind tricks or scientific phenomena, It's very difficult to explain away all of the paranormal activity the spirits display. People who have sighted or experienced a ghost's presence are said to have seen extraordinary things such as spirits floating through walls, objects around the house moving themselves, balls of energy floating around the room or a particular person, doors closing and opening, and lights turning themselves on and off.

Whether or not you believe in them, the idea has made generations of people think about the afterlife. Many cultures and religions have a special day dedicated to their deceased including Samhain, Día de los Muertos, and even the Christian All Souls' Day. Belief in ghosts goes all the way back to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt (they even had a symbol called the Akh glyph, which represented the The soul and spirit re-united after death). The modern holiday of Halloween even has it's root in the belief of spirits. Ancient Celtics believed that on this night, the veil between the living world and the world of those who have passed over was at it's thinnest and souls could walk between the two (this is also one of the roots of modern day Samhain). They would dress in costume to blend in with the souls in order to avoid the bad ones while welcoming those of loved ones (hence, why we wear costumes!).

Now when it comes to a lot of people's favorite topic on ghosts, hauntings, there are many angles to look at. The first is why some souls stay behind. Many viewpoints exist such as the souls have unfinished business or has had some traumatic events that have occurred in their lives which keep them here until they can be resolved. Other reasons are that the spirit wants to look over loved ones until they feel ready to move on or they simply do not know they are dead yet and need help to cross over. The two main types of hauntings are Intelligent and Residual. An Intelligent haunting is when a ghosts or spirit can interact with the living. These are the ghosts that can tug your hair, move objects, and communicate with mediums. These spirits can become tricksters and, to some, a nuisance or even a danger (although in real life, this is rarer than in the movies). Through different rituals and techniques, they can be asked to leave or removed if necessary. Residual hauntings are where they cannot interact with us. With these hauntings, an event in the soul's life plays over and over again, such as battlefield ghosts. You may experience the same smell in a particular area, or see the same apparition walking down the same hallway at the same time every day. These spirits cannot interact with the living and are absolutely harmless, but are the most difficult to remove (since they aren't any danger, most of the time they are left alone). Some hauntings are not actually hauntings at all, but residual energy left behind by a traumatic event. This can be called "spirit of place". These "vibes" can attach themselves to almost anything, but can be removed with a ritual cleansing.

Now you may ask "What is this ritual stuff you are talking about?" Have you ever heard of an Exorcism? Well, it is not only practiced in Christianity. The history of ritual cleansing and banishing dates far beyond the start of Christianity and is still used today by practicing Shamans, Witches (in case you didn't know, I am a practicing Witch), and some Mediums. They can talk to the dead through many forms of communication such as the Ouija board, Pendulums, Scrying, and the famous Séance. They can give messages from the departed to loved ones and ask for the dead's assistance in magical workings. If the spirit needs help to cross over , it can be asked to leave through ritual cleansings. If, in rarer instances, it becomes dangerous to the living, an Exorcism or Banishing may be necessary. These are stronger forms of cleansing that are still respectful the the dead, but are more firm than just asking a soul to leave.

Ghosts are not something to be frightened of, but respected and researched (even if you don't believe, it's still a good idea to respect the dead...just in case). I hope you've enjoyed this informational, although long, post about the truth behind the movie ghoul. Next on the list...Witches!!!

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