Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crazy vs. Scary

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a crazy woman.  It’s been a tough journey, but I think I’ve finally reached an acceptable stance on life.  I’ve risen above the dark depression that was my life and I am now functioning quite ably.  However, I’m not here today to talk about my life.   I want to write about mental illness and the paranormal.  I know a few people who have suffered from bipolar disorder, suffered way more than I have.  I have never reached the point of hallucination, but I am well aware of others who have gone down that path.  When one is hallucinating, things definitely seem a lot more paranormal than when one is not hallucinating.  Yes, that was an odd and obvious statement, but I think it is crucial to my point.  How many people who regularly experience the paranormal have something wrong with their brain?  I bet a lot of ghost problems could be cleared up with simple medications.
Of course I’m not saying that every paranormal experience is the result of a tortured mind.  I wouldn’t have this blog if that were the case.  A ghost here, a monster there; these sightings are bound to occur.  They occur because there is very likely something strange going on; something on the fringe of human understanding.  The people I will generally be talking about from now on are those who see the paranormal everywhere, yet cannot find a way to gather proof.  If you bring me a picture that just remotely looks like it has something strange in it, I probably won’t discount your sanity.  I mean, in this case, it at least looks like you’re making an effort to document what you saw.  Evidence is a good thing to have when you want people to believe you, including yourself.  If you don’t happen to have a camera or any kind of recording device on hand when a sighting occurs, it’s good to have some friends with you; a group sighting is a sure way to confirm a paranormal experience.  So yes, there are many instances when a sighting is not a mere figment of the imagination; and it can happen at any time, alone, in a group, asleep, awake, in Pittsburg.  You never know when a sighting is going to creep up on you.  Now that we have discussed the lighter side of ghosts and other freaky encounters, let’s dig a little deeper, deeper into the human mind.
Even when a person has type two bipolar disorder, strange things happen to the mind.  When I was at my lowest point, I would think that a demon was trying to possess me, or some witch doctor had put a curse on me.  Now that I am out of that depressing haze, I can see now that my paranoia was completely unfounded.  Sure, there were some scary and dark times, but everything was occurring in my head; I know for a fact that no external forces were at work.  How do I know this?  Because once I was on the right doses of the right medications, I got better.  I’ve never heard of a demon being scared off by medication.  Those with type one bipolar disorder are much worse off than me.  They see things, hear things, and believe things that simple aren’t there and aren’t true.  As in my case, I’ve seen medication stop all of these bipolar symptoms as well.  This leads me to believe, and I think I have a good reason to believe, that sometimes the paranormal is contained inside of one’s own head. 
The people who come to mind as I write this are those who can see something strange while at the same time and the same place, others see nothing.  I will admit that some people are more sensitive than others; and apparently, ghosts have the ability to show themselves to certain people.  Yet if you hang around a person and they see spirits everywhere they go, aren’t you going to question their sanity?  I would.  It sounds like paranoia and delusions to me; and for some people, it doesn’t take alcohol or illegal substances to get there.
Mental instability is a very serious thing.  Undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to extremely severe consequences down the road.  I don’t understand why so many people are opposed to medication.  I’ve seen it work for people time and time again.  Sure, excess use is bad for a person, but that is a no-brainer.  People are worried about long term damage to their bodies; yes, this is a possibility, but regular blood tests and visits to the doctor with monitor and probably eliminate any problems.  Why are people so scared of medication?  If they try it, and the bad things go away, wouldn’t it be a relief that it was all in their head and the condition is manageable?
What really concerns me are the parents of children who see spirits.  I’m totally on board with the idea that children can be very sensitive to ghosts and emotions.  It is here that I believe each child need to be looked at on a case by case basis.  We’ve come very far in our ability to diagnose and treat mental illness.  For some of these kids, their parents refuse to even try medication.  Instead, they encourage their kids to see more and more ghosts and scary things that probably aren’t even there.  This leads to a depressed and withdrawn child; a child who has their life pretty much ruined because their parents can’t even take the time to get them to the doctor.  Think about how much grief and hurt this child could avoid if the parent allowed their kid to at least try medication.  Sure, it won’t work all the time, because some kids are actually sensitive.  But for those who have a legitimate mental illness, a few little pills could probably make the scary things go away.
So when you read a supposedly true ghost story, or talk to a paranormal witness, it’s not a good idea to take things at face value, or even as an outright lie.  If these stories about ghosts or other scary night dwellers seem to be full of holes, disjointed, or just plain unbelievable; this person might be sick.  Mental illness is not as uncommon as one would hope.  I just think a little doctor and medication intervention could ease at least some of the terror that occurs when the lights go off.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Circular Logic

 I’ve never really found crop circles to be that interesting.  Of course, I’ve never been near or in one, so I don’t know what I’m missing, I guess.  Some people are nuts about them.  They can’t get enough of those mysterious circles.  They are very interesting to look at, I will admit that.  The geometry and almost perfect execution of a pattern is quite fascinating.  They get more complex as time goes by, so, that’s pretty sweet.  I just didn’t get caught up in the crop circle fever because, for the most part, I think they’re human created.  Though, if that is the case, it’s still pretty impressive.  This would be art; very complicated, ingenious, illegal art.  A human doing this in the middle of the night with simple tools is proof of human creativity at its best.  Doug and Dave, the most infamous crop circle creators, sure took credit for all the crop circles made during a certain span of time.  How could they do all of them?  They were based in the U.K., but other countries and continents were afflicted with crop circles during that same time.  Doug and Dave couldn’t possibly have created every crop circle from 1978 to like, 1991.  I’m sure there were tons of copycat artists, so that explains a few more crop circles.  Still, after all the debunking that crop circles have gone through, some people still find them to be mysterious and magical.  Why is this?
            Even the most die-hard crop circle enthusiast knows that most crop circles are hoaxes.  Not all of them though; according to these people, true crop circles are not made by mortal men.  Instead, they provide a long list of alternate explanations; aliens, inter-dimensional contact, messages from the Earth itself, among many others.  How do you tell the difference between a hoax and the real deal?  Some say the really fancy ones are human made, while the simple, circular indentation on a field is a true crop circle.  It’s a sign of a landing spacecraft; they don’t bother with the fancy shapes.  Others can just “feel” when a crop circle is genuine.  There have been many reports of strange goings on inside these circles, from electrical equipment malfunctions, to people feeling sick or even energized.  What really separates the real from the fake, supposedly, is how the wheat, or whatever kind of crop, is individually affected.  In what is considered to be true crop circles, the plants themselves seem gently bent and interwoven.  Upon closer inspection, it looks like the plants were exposed to a very brief flash of intense heat, from the inside.  Also, the plants remain alive and able to grow.  Some say this would not be the case if a human simple trampled on the plants.
            If extraterrestrials are doing this, the question is, why?  If they are so advanced that they can fly around, undetected, at night with lasers or something to make these intricate designs, why are they using this medium to express themselves?  I know aliens are very secretive, but this is almost silly.  It makes no logical sense to me, but then again, I’m not an alien.  Maybe making circles and patterns is just the way they communicate.  If that is the case, are the messages really intended for us?  I know that they are created on the Earth on human property; but maybe we aren’t the intended recipient.  The circles are viewed best from the air; you’d have to be in a plane, helicopter, or a spaceship to fully appreciate the crop circle pattern.  So maybe these crop circles serve as a marker to other aliens.  If an alien in a spaceship was communicating with its fellow race or allies, I bet the signs serve as a marker.  “We’ve already explored this area and mutilated enough cattle, we can move on to other areas.”  The intricacy of the crop circle design may tell the alien’s friends what kind of work was done and where they are going next.  Why they don’t just call each other, I don’t know.  Well, they probably do, but just like landscapers, construction workers, and electricians on Earth, they rely on certain markings to tell each other where they’ve been and where they are going to go next.  If you want to take a different approach, maybe crop circles are graffiti of some sort.  Opposing aliens telling each other that they have staked their claim on earth turf and rival aliens need to go somewhere else to do their alien things.  Humans mark their territory in many ways; be it fences, walls, deeds to property, or good old fashioned gang graffiti.  We have ways of telling each other “this is my space, get away”.  There have been many little fights and sometimes outright wars over certain property and whom it may or may not belong to.  Would aliens be the same way?  They must be getting along alright, because we generally don’t see spaceships battling it out in our skies.  Maybe the aliens are nice enough to have their turf wars out of sight of humanity.
            Most croppies (crop circle lovers call themselves that, right?), however, believe crop circles are intended for humans.  Crop circles have accumulated quite a following over the years.  Some seek spiritual enlightenment within the circles.  Something about the magnetic fields they find, I’m sure.  People bring in psychics, dowsing rods, and EMF detectors; they find all sorts of crazy things.  As mentioned before, cameras and other electrical equipment tend to act bizarrely in a crop circle.  If humans created all the crop circles; are they creating these magnetic fields as well?  I highly doubt it, unless some sort of mass hysteria is involved, but let’s not go down that path.  Some people believe that crop circles are messages from the Earth itself.  Ancient energy, trapped in the ley lines of Earth is manifesting itself as intricate designs in crops all over the world.  It’s a very strange explanation, but I rather like it.  The thought that the place on which we dwell is trying to contact us through mysterious means is quite intriguing.  What is mother earth trying to tell us?  Probably stop polluting or fighting or something obvious like that.  That’s what I would say if I were the Earth.  But I doubt I would try to get my message out there in the form of crop circles.  No one seems to be getting the messages of these circles very clearly.  The paranormal community loves to talk about them, but how can we make any progress in getting to the bottom of this when no one has seen a genuine crop circle being created?  It’s like they come out of nowhere and are made in a very short amount of time.  I guess these things remain on people’s minds because they aren’t going away, they keep appearing all over the world.  Fake or real, they’re very interesting to look at.  Though they aren’t very high on my paranormal interest list, I must keep them in my mind, for some of them truly are a mystery.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old School Ghosts

            Has anyone ever seen a ghost of a caveman?  I think I read a fictional, Victorian ghost story about a caveman ghost, but I’ve never heard any reports of such ghosts that claimed to be true.  This brings up a major question that occasionally swirls around the paranormal community.  Do ghosts have a life span?  Would you call it a life span?  Wouldn’t it be some sort of death span?  Well, whatever.  I can see that ghosts could stop wandering this earthly plane when they finish up their business and go into the light, or whatever.  Are there instances when their energy simply runs out?  One of the big theories about ghosts is that they are a form of trapped energy.  Some people believe that energy from a human doesn’t simply cease to exist, rather, it can become stuck on earth.  A violent, unexpected death is one way a person’s energy might hang around.  The person may be so surprised by their death, they probably aren’t even aware that it happened.  A lot of people say that some spirits cannot rest in peace until their business on earth is taken care of; that’s why they stick around, trying to get someone to see them and help them out.  Other ghostly manifestations include an imprint of energy on the environment.  These ghosts can’t interact with the living, it’s simply a replay of events.  Anything can trigger a residual haunting; the weather or a change of any kind to the environment.  I bet a residual haunting’s energy disperses quicker than a trapped soul.  I’ve never been a ghost, though, so I’m not really sure. 
            So what is the life span of a ghost?  Some say it can be as long as 500 years.  That seems reasonable.  I don’t hear much about ancient Egyptian ghosts; though that would be awesome!  We also don’t see any ancient Greek or Roman ghosts.  Not to my knowledge anyway.  If you have a story about a ghost from an ancient civilization, please let me know.  I guess ghosts just can’t hold it together anymore after 500 years.  If they have unfinished business, perhaps they realize that if they can’t get it taken care of in half a century, it’s never going to get done, and maybe they finally move on.  Why 500 years?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Maybe it has something to do with earth cycles, whatever those may be.  Maybe it has to do with some sort of energy decay.  A half life or something?  Almost everything eventually decays, the matter just falls apart after a certain period of time.  I guess ghosts just reach their energy limit at 500 years.
            However, I’m still stuck on the caveman ghosts.  Let’s imagine that we live in prehistoric times, when the first homo-sapiens popped up.  If you were one of the first of what we now call a modern human, what kind of spirits would you be haunted by?  If any at all?  Do you think that the spirits of Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons would be flitting about?  I think this brings up many questions that could be included in the great debate of creationism versus evolution.  Now I believe in both, but some things just don’t make any sense to me.  I think, if you become a ghost, you need some sort of soul, a spark of life, a knowledge of your own self and how you interact with other people.  So, at what point in human evolution did we acquire a soul?  Was it when we first walked upright?  When we used the first tools or made the first fire?  When we first developed verbal communication?  When we first knew and understood what death was?  Were we ever too primitive to have a soul?  Religious scholars tell us that only humans can have a soul.  Yet there are hundreds of stories of pets returning and interacting with their owners; it’s beyond a mere residual haunting.  If these stories are to be believed, how are these pets coming back if they don’t have souls?  Maybe a soul is really a being’s energy, the energy of life itself.  Maybe to be alive means you have some sort of soul, every living creature has that living spark.  I don’t think that plants have souls, though, they really aren’t that sentient.  I absolutely have never heard of a ghost bush or tree.  Sorry tree huggers, I just don’t think it’s a possibility.
            So if living energy constitutes some kind of soul, there had to have been Neanderthal ghosts, right?  The Neanderthals, by all accounts, knew what death was, and, just like people today, they could die very unexpectedly; probably even more so.   A Neanderthal would be walking to his cave, minding his own business, when a saber-toothed tiger jumps out of the brush and snaps his neck.  I think that would be pretty unexpected, and it might create a ghost.  However, unlike today, where most people are aware of at least the possibility of ghosts, Neanderthals probably freaked out when Oog started appearing to his family again.  To the primitive mind, death is the very end.  It’s when you know that they won’t get up again, and their body is just taking up cave space.  They get rid of the body somehow, and that’s it.  So if Neanderthals could become ghosts, I think that may throw things into chaos.  How is Oog standing right there when everyone knows he was devoured by a saber-toothed tiger?  This makes me wonder who the first ghost was, and how they became a ghost in the first place.  I’ll have to dwell on that for a while.  Now, these thoughts lead me to other ideas.  It is a stated fact that humans and dinosaurs never lived at the same time.  However, strange drawings and other bits of prehistoric information sometimes trickles in and confuses us.  Why are there cave paintings that seem to depict a giant reptile of some kind?  What if dinosaurs’ energy still swirled around humans’ very early ancestors?  Of course, this contradicts the theory that ghosts only last for 500 years.  The great thing about paranormal theories, though, is that you can be as far out as you want to be, because, as of right now, there’s no definite way to be proved wrong.  Though I do think I kind of went off the deep end here.  It’s just that cavemen have always fascinated me.  They existed before that enigmatic explosion of civilization, and no one knows what started it.  Let’s save all of that for another time.
            In ancient Egypt, where it was really in style to be dead; ghosts were welcomed as proof of life beyond this mortal coil.  The soul was called ba and the spirit called ka.  The ba was a person’s traits and personality, while the ka was a person’s life essence.  When a person died, it was believed that the ba and ka united and created the akh.  It is the akh that could be interpreted by westerners as a ghost.  Indeed, the akh has very similar traits to what is thought to be a ghost today.  They could be good or bad, they tended to appear when their mortal resting place was disturbed or out of order, and they could certainly haunt people by causing them nightmares and such.  Though I can’t help but wonder if ancient Egypt even had that many ghosts.  They seemed to spend a lot of time preparing for death.  There were books that described what to do in the afterlife once you died.  Though ancient Egypt was very advanced, primal human nature still crept throughout this civilization.  Jealousy and a thirst for power probably plagued the ruling class.  Tons of pharaohs died before their time.  Just like today, you can be ready for death as much as you can, but if it’s suddenly taken from you, it all could get a little confusing, I’m sure.  I bet pharaoh ghosts appeared when their tombs were ransacked, that’s a definite possibility.  But who did they appear to?  I’m sure ghosts were well received by the general public, since the akh was considered to be something very real.  I bet most of the ghosts in ancient Egypt were the lower class or servants.  They probably died at their prime all the time; crushed by a huge pyramid stone, or during any number of hazardous building tasks that servants, slaves, and the Egyptian working class were made to do.  Did anyone care about low class ghosts?  Probably not.  
            The origins of how we imagine or perceive ghosts today, I believe, began in Classical Greece.  There seems to have always been ghosts in Greece, but they evolved as time went on.  At first, ghosts were actually kind of pitied, they were never feared, and they were kind of pathetic.  They wandered the earth and whined about it, I guess because Hades didn’t want them or something.  Later on, around the 5th century BC, ghosts got scary.  The dead had to be mourned in public, sacrificed to, sang to, and appeased in every way possible so the dead person’s spirit didn’t get angry and haunt his or her family.  Unlike today, cemeteries were thought to contain the spirits of the dead, as it was believed that a ghost hovered near its mortal body.  Today, most people who research ghosts think that the spirit takes up residence in a place where it feels comfortable or where they were killed.  They rarely hang out in cemeteries.  Back in ancient Greece, the living generally avoided cemeteries for the same reason that one avoids a haunted house.  The Greeks had a festival where they honored the dead and actually invited ghosts to come and hang out for a while.  After the party, however, the ghosts had to leave, no exceptions.  I’m talking a lot about traditions here, so did ancient Greeks actually see ghosts?  Very likely; it’s probably why a lot of rituals were put in place to appease them.  I will be researching actual ancient ghost stories eventually, so, you know, look out for that. 
            When we get to the Roman Empire, ghosts really branched out and became kind of fun.  Here, we start running in to haunted houses.  Some would be so haunted, they couldn’t be lived in.  The Romans figured out that a haunting could usually be stopped when a murdered person’s body was properly buried.  I think there was a lot of murder in Rome, just as in all the other ancient empires.  Murder seems to produce ghosts, so there you are.
            I would love to see the ghost of a caveman, or an ancient Egyptian, Greek, or Roman.  I just don’t think it’s very possible these days.  They seem to have all dispersed.  I don’t know how anyone came up with the 500 year timetable, but to me it seems fairly accurate.  Those caveman ghosts will always keep me wondering, and amused; seeing those cavemen running around in complete terror and confusion after seeing a ghost.  Is that cruel?  Have I rambled on enough?  Probably.