Was a Ghostlike Incident Real or Imagined?
What are ghosts? What are they really? Are they tickles on the back of your neck, a shiver along your spine, a shadow crossing the kitchen floor? Out of the corner of my eye, I occasionally see motionless grey shadows, forms sitting in chairs and hallways, but I never feel threatened.
Am I a ghost? I dream of places I used to live. Does it mean I haunt the current tenants on my nightly forays in the dark, checking out familiar stairwells, banisters, kitchens of old apartments I used to rent? Can they sense me as I sweep along the walls remembering where my furniture was, remembering special cupboards, favourite shelves?
I love October, when minds turn to ghosts, and pumpkins start appearing on doorsteps.
Though I wouldn’t say that I’ve actually seen a ghost per se, I have experienced a few ghostlike occurrences in our house and so has my son, who is convinced his room is haunted.
We live in my family home. My parents built the house, and although no one but the cat has died here, I believe there is an imprint of some sort.
For a year or so after we moved in, and my parents were gone, I kept hearing doors closing, locks snecking, the sound of gardening boots being kicked off in the basement. The smoke detector downstairs kept ringing and when I investigated I could smell the faint scent of Dad’s pipe tobacco in the den.
My son’s bedroom used to be mine when I was very young. I haven’t told him this, but he and I had similar experiences in that room some 40 years apart.
When I was around five years old I dreamt that I saw a menacing looking pirate (this was no Johnny Depp) come up through the floor in the closet in my bedroom. The Jungians would have a heyday with this one, I’m sure. The pirate ascended a set of stone stairs that emerged through an opening in the closet floor. His face was smeared with dirt and sweat and he had the classic pirate look, black beard, tricorn hat and vest, and he was carrying a lighted oil lantern and a burlap sack. He looked right through me — good thing, I guess — and disappeared in a kind of dingy fog.
When my son was in preschool he woke one night to see a pirate with a bushy black beard standing in his room. The pirate was carrying a bag, and vanished through the wall at the back of the closet.
I’ve since learned there is a stream that flows diagonally through the neighbours’ yard and runs between the two houses. It is said that streams can cause disturbances in houses, often bringing with them cantankerous spirits, sprites, ghosts and the like. You don’t want a stream running under your house. Dream or ghost pirate we’ll never know, but I’m not too worried. Although that closet could probably use some attention…
Pyle, Howard; Johnson, Merle De Vore (ed) (1921). “Blueskin, the Pirate”, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates: Fiction, Fact & Fancy Concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main,
Plate facing p. 186, New York, United States, and London, United Kingdom: Harper and Brothers.