Friday, September 25, 2009

I Hear You Knockin'...Whatever You Are.

Poltergeists, ghosts, Ouija, automatic writing, trance, possession...I get the creepy feeling that we're dealing with [mostly] the same thing. But it's tough to see through to the Other Side of the Mirror, so let's just continue to fumble in the dark for a while. Despite a lot of what's said, a good bit of this stuff is not "evil" or even consistently nasty. A prominent "haunted house" in Michigan is the old Lockhart mansion in Frankfort. Residents there have experienced heavy furniture moved during the night, footsteps on the stairs, lights repetitively turned on after the family would get up to turn them off, TVs activating in empty rooms in the dead of night, and once [a rariety] direct vision [by two people] of a framed picture "climb" up the wall and then crash down. A neighbor thinks that the ghost is a little girl called "Mary", as previous residents called "her" by that name. When sounds occur, well, "It's so frequent that we don't even get up and look." Owners view the "ghost" with mainly amusement, and think that the idea of an "exorcism" is the creepy idea, not "their" ghost. {a picture of the mansion is in the lower part of the collage}.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trying to decipher the meaning behind these experiences may be impossible, but we can at least read the opinions of people who have tried to research it. A person who studied more cases than probably anyone was Ernesto Bozzano.[upper left]. He was an Italian psychic researcher of the first half of the 20th century, and is largely unknown today. I will quote from a translation of his book The Phenomena of Haunting as it appeared in the Journal of the American Society for Physical Research, January 1937. [I wish I could quote more, but the conclusions are too long]. As to sounds: "In their auditory form they comprise all sorts of apparently causeless sounds, from raps and cracks of different intensities to noises imitating the sound of falling furniture or the breaking of household objects, such as bottles, bowls, window-panes. .... [and much more]....In other cases the sounds seem to have a human origin: particularly the measured footsteps which pace corridors or go up and down stairs....more rarely...cries, groans, sobbing, sighs, murmurs, and words or phrases.....Observation shows that these sounds...are partly subjective and hallucinatory and partly objective and real; those of a subjective nature however are more frequent. Actually the doors and windows one hears banging usually remain closed; the pieces of furniture which were overturned, the vessel which was smashed, are found intact in their places....On the other hand, incontestibly objective noises and sounds are not rare, for it has been testified that doors and windows do really swing open, or that they have been seen in the moment of banging shut; furniture is found out-of-place or overturned, pottery found shattered, or all witnesses simultaneously hear the sounds." Because Bozzano goes on interestingly, and because he is a "forgotten" expert, I'm going to continue with his conclusions in a later post, and complete today's with the views of a few other experts.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nandor Fodor was a Hungarian immigrant to the US, then Britain, then back to the US.[ middle left picture ].He was a contemporary of Bozzano. Dr.Fodor, a psychologist, became what we might call a "field researcher" of all-things-paranormal. While in London, he became the center of a group which received news of "events" and Fodor would often go to the scene, even invited by residents to stay over for days if necessary to investigate. In that he is another unusual resource. He was not an "anything goes" guy by the way, often coming down on the "nothing really happened" side. Fodor, along with another contemporary, Fr. Herbert Thurston, a Jesuit who wrote the book above and one entitled Ghosts and Poltergeists as well, were among the first to focus on the pattern that young women were often a primary ingredient in whether the phenomenon happened or not. [where have we heard that before?]. Fodor's very first case involved a young woman of striking unusualness: "She was a beautiful creature of sixteen, and there was something very odd about her psychological make-up. I was told that birds alighted on her shoulder and came into the house without budging from their perch. She could catch mice with her bare hands, as they would not run away from her. I heard before that some people have a strange affinity with wild life. This was the first time that I saw such a nature child." So, "happy ending", they fired her and the poltergeist phenomena stopped. Not my favorite story.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am a Catholic and the Church has had many [and diverse] opinions on these things. In fact, it can't get its views clear at all. As mentioned, Herbert Thurston was an expert and historical scholar in all these matters. His opinion was that all this has much reality in it, and that the true cases point to some spiritual agency...but what? "Official" pronouncements tend to just say that all of this is dangerous and leave it alone...despite many of the saints having similar activities surrounding their own sanctioned lives. A prominent Catholic counsellor of the 1950s, Fr. Francis Filas of Loyola University [middle right], was asked to comment upon the unusual poltergeist phenomena which was interesting the media in 1958. "Nothing unusual about it. Such strange things as bottles popping open, things flying through the air, and ghostly footsteps have been reported for many centuries in many countries." He then went on to tell of a poltergeist story with a family that he himself knew. Asked about what Catholic Theology said about this, he said that there were three theories: that this is a manifestation of the devil; that this is due to a soul which is "not of this world"; and that this is due to un-understood "psychic powers" that people themselves have. I guess that covers it. I used to think that Filas' #1 was a big player. Now I think that some combination of #2&3 are the likely causes, with my bet on the prime agent being #2. Well, at least that's what I think today.

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