It's funny that every time Halloween comes around, my phone starts ringing off the hook. Organizations ask me to give lectures, reporters want me to give interviews, and people question me if ghosts are real. Don't get me wrong. I welcome all the hype and publicity, but what I do and what I write about really has nothing to do with Halloween at all! Yet I'm often dubbed "the ghost lady" this time of year.
I do happen to love Halloween, and the inside of my house is transformed into something that you might see in Disneyland. It's filled with skeletons, witches, ghouls and goblins; I have talking heads and brooms that glide around the floor. I even have a ghost that shakes and makes scary sounds. The fact remains, however, that these are Halloween ghosts, and they're not real.
About two weeks ago I was asked to speak to a third grade Cub Scout den about (you guessed it)... ghosts. This is not an easy topic to discuss with a bunch of eight-year-old boys. The last thing I wanted them to do was to go home scared. So my plan was to first squelch their idea of what ghosts actually are. I began with a go-around. Each boy was to tell me what he thought a ghost was. The answers were all quite similar. A ghost is "a flying dead body that can go through you." Really? I couldn't help but smile.
Kids are not the only ones who have misconceptions. I can't tell you the amount of adults who come up to me asking if what I do is like the movie Paranormal Activity. "Is that what it's really like?" they ask, bewildered. I cringe every time Hollywood comes out with another scary ghost movie. What you see in the movies and even on TV is not reality. I don't go into places and see blood dripping from the walls and pots and pans flying around the room. What I do when I work with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto, is the positive side of spirit communication. Did you note that I used the word "spirit" as opposed to "ghost"?
I prefer to call them spirits because they are the souls of people who have passed from this world to the next. There are all different types of spirits. A very famous paranormal investigator by the name of Peter Underwood, from London, England, compiled a list of the "Ten Different Types of Ghosts" based on the research he has done. I have included his list in my book, Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal, because I find it to be quite accurate. You can't define "ghost" as any one thing in particular.
The type of ghost that most people are familiar with, are the historical or traditional ghost. These are spirits who are "place centered" or stuck here, for one reason or another. They have usually died tragically. There are modern ghosts, those of the recently dead who come back to say goodbye, or cyclic ghosts who make their presence known during an anniversary of some sort. There are ghosts of inanimate objects and animal ghosts, but really the most common ghost is not a ghost at all. Instead, it is the spirit of someone we love, who has passed on and has come back to visit, or to help us on our journey.
Everyone has their own belief of where we go after we die. I happen to believe in Heaven. To me, if Heaven is a perfect place, then why can't those we love come and be with us? Why do we have this image of everyone sitting on a cloud hundreds of miles up in the sky, wearing a white gown and playing the harp? My father passed away six years ago. I do not picture him like this. Instead, I picture him next to me when I'm watching my son's baseball game, or I get an orb in a family photo taken at Christmas time. He's there...right with us, still being a part of our lives.
Countless people come up to me at lectures and show me family photos. They all have orbs in them. Heaven is not as far away as we think, and also, it's comforting to know that we are never truly alone.
So when I'm asked what a ghost is, I find the need to explain. It's not something scary or evil or demonic. Instead, it's a beautiful and positive affirmation that life does in fact, exist after we die. We co-exist with spirits every day. It's not about October 31st. So while you're out trick-o-treating with your kids, know that the "real" spirits are there with them watching over and protecting.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!