The Spectre Looms Again


A few days ago, I received some welcome presents for my birthday from my sister, in the form of three separate paperbacks from the 1970s dealing with the subject of ghosts and hauntings. I already have great piles of books like these here in my study, but I cannot get enough of them and I find their contents endlessly fascinating.

In our current Age of Enlightenment and the Internet, I come across a seemingly endless stream of proponents of science and the scientific method, who bluntly state that ghosts do not exist. Such a statement flies in the face of millennia of recorded human existence, as well as my own experiences over the course of five decades or so, because ghosts patently do exist. As to what a ghost is, I could not possibly say, but I suspect there are several varieties or species of such things, whatever they may be.

I long ago grew tired of the subject of ghosts on the internet, most likely because the majority of sites I’ve encountered seem to be the domains of ‘ghost hunters’ and as such, are devoid of almost anything of interest to me. The paperbacks I’ve referred to, however, are all full of carefully-recorded accounts given by men, women and sometimes children, with references informing me that one appeared in a such and such a local paper, with a date provided, or that another was recorded by some public figure in some otherwise obscure book.

As I’ve said on several occasions, I don’t believe I have a psychic bone in my body, but this hasn’t prevented me seeing, hearing, smelling and very occasionally touching some ‘thing’ for which I have no rational explanation, while the actions and appearances of these many ‘things’ do not seem to conform to any reason or natural laws that I’m aware of. The bizarre and largely unpredictable nature of what I’ll call for convenience’ sake ‘hauntings’ has always baffled me, so it’s been reassuring and intriguing to read the accounts of many other people who have shared my puzzlement or disbelief at what they’d encountered.

I’ve been growing increasingly interested in the tales of spectral dogs in Britain, which are mostly black, but not always. The most famous of these manifestations is perhaps Black Shuck of the East of England and over the years, I’ve read everything I can about these apparitions, so I was gratified to learn of another description in one of the books I’ve been given of Black Shuck as “The Hateful Thing”. My own experience of black dogs in Britain has been entirely benign and indeed rewarding, but it’s clear that some varieties or manifestations of these strange British apparitions have put the Fear of God into some of those unfortunate enough to encounter them.

So, as the Witching Hour is now upon us, it seems appropriate to retire from my laptop to lose myself in the contents of one of my books on ghosts.

Sleep tight.

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4 Responses to The Spectre Looms Again

  1. Dr Dan Holdsworth says:

    Dennis, I hear what you say, but aside the usual torrent of misinformation about things spooky, the Internet has given us a few interesting snippets. Before search engines existed, nobody really thought that there was much of a link between UFO phenomena, ground-based ghostly phenomena, and various ancient sites. Now it turns out that these do tend to be spatially linked; Pendle where I live has the reputation of being really rather spooky, and of being home to quite a few UFO phenomena as well.

    Admittedly it also has an unjust reputation for witchery and suchlike, but that is historical; in times gone by, Pendle was in the middle of nowhere very much and tended to be a hotbed of Catholicism and of related country faiths even more esoteric. Folk magic abounded, and it merely took a paranoid monarch to spur local busybodies to see witches behind every hedgerow. The area actually still is rather arcane in terms of religion; a quiet cycle along the leafy roads of this district will show up all manner of unusual denominations that exist now merely as one or two isolated chapels clinging on for grim death.

    What I agree on completely is that internet video footage cannot now be relied upon. No film footage that was not demonstrably shot on actual wet film is really reliable, and I wouldn’t put it past someone to even fake that. This youtube “footage” demonstrates my point:

    That is footage of Frankfurt airport, digitally manipulated on a high-end but still fairly consumer-spec PC. I repeat, this is a consumer PC, not a farm of Silicon Graphics servers which did this, presumably taking a week or so running flat out to accomplish the task. It looks realisic, very realistic. The camera is steady, the machines look real and do not have digital artifacts showing on them, and the perspective is all correct, as are the shadows. It raises no alarm bells, yet is blatantly bogus. We cannot now trust any internet footage ever again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • eternalidol says:

      Thank you for that, Dan – the footage in the link you sent my is astonishingly realistic and far more convincing than the FX I’ve seen in many recent high-budget films. By coincidence, I was showing my daughter one of the gems in my collection a few days ago; it’s simply called Ghosts, The Illustrated History by Peter Haining. It’s fascinating because it’s got just about everything you could wish for inside, ranging from portraits or depictions of ghostly encounters, to detailed explanations of how the later Victorian illusionists created convincing ‘ghosts’ onstage, to the awful creations of some of the WWI era spiritualists, to a series of famous or classic photos (some disputed) of ghosts.

      My favourites are those taken of Franek Kluski and of the various creatures he ‘invoked’ in seance rooms, so I’ll leave you to look them up if you’ve not heard of them. I seem to remember the most baffling ‘ghost’ photo was of a beam of curved light or somesuch taken inside a haunted house, but either my memory’s at fault, or else it doesn’t exist on the internet.

      One of the paradoxical aspects of this kind of photo is that the poorer an image one captures of a Yeti, Nessy, a ghost or any other such creature, the less likely people are to believe it’s the real thing, but precisely the same principle applies to the better images, because they’re deemed to be fakes because they’re too good. An anomaly amongst such photos appears when it comes to supposedly mythical beings like fairies or gnomes, because I very strongly suspect that those who take convincing photos of such things simply don’t announce their existence due to fear of ridicule, which is strange because everything else such as UFOs, water monsters and phantoms are fair game.

      I suppose the one element that no machine can yet capture is the atmosphere at some of these places. My experience at Edgehill was innocent, beautiful and uplifting, with just a tinge of melancholy that arose from me wondering why this lone horseman appeared in a dark and otherwise deserted field in England. My experience at Borley Church around two decades ago was beautiful but almost terrifying due to its intensity, a bit like how I imagine it might be to stroke a tiger. I’ve been to other allegedly haunted spots that were simply serene, whereas others were downright repellent and perhaps it’s worth pointing out that I don’t have a psychic bone in my body, but the one thing all these places have in common is that they are simply mesmerising because they’re different and I know not from from whence this otherworldly ‘difference’ arises.


      • eternalidol says:

        Of course, ghosts aren’t real, so we can take comfort from the fact that our dedicated scientists tirelessly investigate the nature and quite rightly win a supremely prestigious Nobel Prize for finding the elusive Higgs boson particle. Oh, wait a minute….


  2. Dan Holdsworth says:

    To be honest, an investigation of what a person is perceiving when they see a ghost would actually be a much better use of a scientist’s time, rather than trying to disprove the phenomenon its self. If you know what the person is perceiving, then you can attempt to duplicate it.

    Duplicating ghostly phenomena is actually quite a laudable goal, simply from the possibilities opened up. Consider, if you will, the likely reaction of a prospective burglar to seeing a police officer in his general vicinity. Said burglar wouldn’t know if the apparition was real or illusion, but wouldn’t really be able to risk it even if he was fully aware of the ghost-producing technology.

    Even a technology that produced the distinct feeling that something big and nasty were lurking in the shadows nearby would be quite sufficient to reduce crime in an area. A perception of a large force of potent nastiness approaching by night might well win many a military conflict before it has ever begun.


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