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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Night

To paraphrase Shakespeare, be not afraid of ghosts; some are born with ghosts, some achieve manufacturing ghosts, and others have ghosts thrust upon them.

There are an enormous number of ghosthunting-paranormal "investigating" television shows these days. I watch them now and then with a very skeptical eye. Not that I don't believe in the paranormal; quite the contrary. It's just that the vast majority of them seem full of hype and conjecture. Which reminds me of the hundreds of "seances" I was dragged to as a child. My family, both of the older generations living then, had deep interests in the occult sciences. And so every psychic fair, every psi study group, every storefront Spiritualist church, were our family outings for the first dozen years of my life. There were other kids whose parents dragged them around to these things and I thought it was normal. I had nothing to compare it to, it's just the way it was.

Witnessing so much of the medium acts gave me a jaded eye at a young age. The techniques became apparent to me but seemed to be unnoticed by most of the adults. Maybe because I had no emotional investment in what was going on and was often bored to tears by the hours of sitting silent in darkness while these "mediums" plied their trade. And if I made any noise of protest or derision I was reprimanded for not believing. Which served to make me think these adults were gullible fools.

But here and there the real thing happened. Just enough to keep me openminded and intrigued. The real things stood out a mile. And were rare. And just as obviously real as the mediumistic tricks were fake.

There is so much that we don't know, can't perceive with our limited senses, that it's plain arrogance to dismiss all of what we term paranormal. But it's also foolish and ignorant to believe that anything that goes bump in the night must be a ghost. Where there is money to be made, there are cons and suckers.

Yet even cons and suckers can stumble into true phenomena. The real thing is real, and doesn't perform on command. When you deal with unseen energies, you're not at the top of the food chain anymore. After all these years I still have no idea how it works and have grave doubts that anyone else does either. Its subjectiveness is both the barrier and the key.

Have to add: the best prediction a reader ever said to me (at a psychic fair in 1971) was, "You'll achieve self-actualization, but it'll be a miserable and bizarre trip." What did I know of self-actualization (still don't, I've never researched what it's about but it sounds good) at 12? She was a hippie woman from Mystic, Connecticut. That's not to say it's accurate, either. I've had scarily accurate readings. From Cliff Bias, in particular.


Geo. said...

Thought-provoking post. Thanks! But now I've got this feeling that for seances of diverse spirits it's hard to beat the internet. Other feeling is your childhood was rather more interesting than mine.

Austan said...

Hi Geo., I agree, the internet is the best seance ever held. About interesting's kinda like living in "interesting times". :) Thanks for your thoughts. I always look forward to your comments.