This is the Reason Ghost Stories Are Subject to Interpretation
No two people interpret ghosts the same way.
You have believers, people who embrace the concept of spiritual beings. Others, like my afternoon boss—an intellectual pragmatist, are convinced that earthly explanations account for ghostly perceptions. I also have a close friend with strong religious beliefs. She doesn’t discount a spirit populace, but she does question the origin of spectral beings.
Many people are simply on the ethereal fence when it comes to “Do you believe in ghosts?” During Echo Moon research, I learned just how strongly the Bible counsels against contact with the spirit world. Multiple verses denounce psychic pursuits as an “abomination to the Lord.” Kind of worrisome—particularly after writing three books that run on psychic electricity.
Aside from my boss and other like minds, there doesn’t seem to be disagreement on the existence of spirits. Everyone and thing from religion, to the Long Island Medium, to my Ghost Gifts novels acknowledge apparitions. The question I hear more frequently is what is your level of acceptance? Do you choose to engage with otherworldly phenomenon? Hang on—we’ll get back to that.
As an author, I’m sometimes asked what allows me to write convincingly about ghosts. It’s the same answer I offer about writing in general—the ability to string words and tell believable ghost stories: “I don’t know. It’s just there.” Sorry if you were hoping for something more insightful. In fairness, does anyone ask math minds to explain their proclivity for numbers? That said, there is a glaring difference between concrete, non-negotiable sums, and subjects that are widely open to interpretation.
And interpretation brings me to the point of my post.
Last week, you might recall my blog on the removal of two historic trees from my yard. You might even have heard the history of my house, and the unusual circumstances that cued me to its past and the original owner—a writer, artist, and poet named Anna Rathbun. The photo here is her décor, circa 1900. I’m still trying to catch up with Anna’s en vogue flare. As for her presence, I credit her as my muse. The urge, almost compulsion, to write a book didn’t show up until I sat down in her house. That and so many curious things have transpired here, we ran out of logical explanations years ago.
When the trees came down, I mourned their loss. I truly dislike disturbing anything so historic. I did wonder if the removal of these 150-year old pine dinosaurs might tick off my ghost in residence. It ticked me off, and in the week preceding their departure, a heaviness sat in my gut like I’d ingested three squares of lead each day. But down they came, all but a vine-covered 25-foot section of one. And that was it, or so I thought.
Ghost Believers vs. Ghost Non-Believers
I didn’t pen this particular ghost story, so I’m wondering how you’d write the ending. At the top of this post is a still shot I took early that morning. Intriguing, for sure. Days later, we discovered a video my daughter captured. Back to my non-believer boss (and I think non-believers are important). He was all over bokeh lights and technical explanations for the video. I don’t disagree that benign reflections account for many orb-like entities we see in photos. They’re often purposefully created in both print photography and filmmaking.
Here’s the thing: in order to interpret any good ghost story—or equation—you have to factor in all the variables. This is not the first snippet of video ever recorded on my daughter’s phone. But it is the only one to produce images like this—on a day when we altered history, taken during precise moments that tie directly to this house and its past. An event, as noted, that weighed heavily on my mind all week.
I don’t know—is it light playing tricks just as the top of the first tree is removed? Do we see what we want to see? Or are these images too connected and specific to split seconds of time in a 150-year span? Have you ever encountered anything like this?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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I do believe in spirits and ghosts, but I’ve bever seen one! I read The Cottingley Secret last year, an enchanting story about a little girl discovers fairies living near a stream in a glen. Based on a true story…fascinating and wonderful!
I kinda want to believe that there are spirits of our loved ones checking in with us every now and then. It makes me still feel a connection with them. It eases my sadness a little. My mother always saw the numbers 11:11. Whenever I see a clock, address or whatever with 11:11 on it, I feel like she’s looking in on me. My sisters feel the same. We later learned that the numbers 11:11 are like a gateway between our world and the spirit world. Pretty interesting ????
That sounds like a happy “medium,” Liz! And I think it’s a very cool connection with your Mom. XO
My brother was born on 11/11 which we always thought was a good sign!
My mother also always saw the number 11:11 when she was alive. After she passed, my very pragmatic oldest sister Joyce kept seeing 11:11 on her digital clocks. Finally, realizing this was a nudge from Mom, she asked what Mom wanted. She was “led” to her basement and to the crucifix that had been on Mom’s casket. She knew Mom wanted me to have it. Once Joyce gave it to me, she stopped seeing 11:11 all the time. Now my daughters and I text each other at 11:11 almost every day and think of Mom/Grandma. Mom also helped me find paperwork required for my Master’s Thesis that had inexplicably disappeared. I actually felt her touch my shoulders to lead me to where the papers were – which was not where I would have put them. I’m a believer. And that’s why there are ghosts in my mysteries, too.
Wow, so we have TWO 11:11 validations! That’s amazing. Thanks for sharing such a sweet and spirit-inspired story, Betty.
I think your daughter’s video caught Anna supervising the tree removal. And if she is watching over your shoulder as you write, she has to know you weren’t happy at disturbing ‘her’ trees. I have had some experience with orbs as well as circumstances that couldn’t be explained in any logical way. I’ve never found these experiences to be unsettling or scary in any way. But it can be surprising until you get used to it.