There’s a city in Colorado that is diverse in interests. Some people go there because of the splendor and beauty of the area. Others go there because of its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. Still some go there to hunt ghosts.
We went because, initially when we made reservations, it was having a large children’s art festival which we thought would be fun for the kids as well as some family snowshoe classes and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, the date of our original reservation fell through so one month later we tried again. The art festival and snowshoe classes weren’t happening for the rescheduled weekend. We thought it would be a quiet and sparsely populated weekend – after all, it’s off-season.
Turns out there was a huge ghost hunting convention and quite a few people from various parts of the state decided to enjoy the crisp mountain air of RMNP and the historical interest of the Stanley Hotel.
The Stanley Hotel has an interesting history which in contemporary times began with a five month stay from Stephen King. The mountain pass leaving the city into RMNP is closed off completely from October through May. The hotel is reportedly haunted and some of his own experiences are supposedly amplified in his book The Shining, including two distinct occasions where he considers himself to have been visited by ghosts during his stay.
Cabin fever is common to those in Colorado – many parts of the state see snowfall from Late September even up to early June, causing people to get a little stir crazy. This may be a contributing factor in the phrase “Crazy Coloradan”.
Imagine you are a socialite who’s snowed into a hotel as a caretaker. Barred off from society because of the weather and only an edgy wife and a psychic child to keep you company. Add to that the hotel and surrounding grounds are considered to house at least eight otherworldly spirits. Now you’ve got the perfect set-up for one of the most popular contemporary horror novels of our time.
Personally, I find the whole supernatural ghost business at the hotel interesting from a scientific and psychological perspective. I also find the same business a little frightening, which to some degree excites the thrill-seeker in me. That’s probably the way it is with most “ghost hunters”. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t either believe or want to believe in a life hereafter. For many people, finding evidence is critical. We live in a society that lacks faith. Without faith there’s only science and law. When we want to believe something bad enough where evidence can’t be found, we often create it in our heads. Part of the ghost convention addressed that issue and how some people who think they encounter ghosts are suffering from some psychological trauma in much the same way that people under immense stress get amnesia.
I’m certain that many, if not all, of these unexplainable experiences could be scientifically exposed once the variables are found. To make it more difficult, the presence of these variables are only temporary. I think electromagnetism may play a big part. It’s common in weather. It even occurs in areas with only the presence of high wind. Could high wind that constantly blows around the Stanley Hotel bring in enough electromagnetic charge to cause unexpected and seemingly supernatural visits?
I also think that the earth itself has some capability of recording incidents that occur around it. Even in Genesis, in regards to the first account of murder, it’s said “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” I’m not exactly sure how the ground or how blood could cry out, but I take it to be literal rather than poetic. I can’t see how murder is a time to be poetic, even to God.
Finally, we are all subject to some level of psychosis. One of the most popular psychological traits that healthy beings share is called matrixing. Matrixing has to do with how we recognize the difference and similarities between people’s faces. It also helps our brain cope with unthinkable tragedies. When it fails, people may become subject to amnesia to cope with the tragic event. The result is interesting in regards to the supernatural – specifically the spiritual. It is possible that atmospheric conditions fool our senses and our brain, trying to make sense of the nonsense data, comes up with reasoning or sensory that it does understand that can be used to replace that experience. E.G. It might be nothing more than rolling clouds, but you really think it looks like a duck. More dramatically, it may be only a creek in the floorboards, but you really think you heard someone call your name. Matrixing is an almost impossible problem to overcome, too. Even the most expert “ghost hunters” have their own experiences and biases that change the sounds of an air vent into a spectral conversation.
The other element of psychology that appears to have a strong impact in these matters is suggestive reasoning. This is nearly always compounded with matrixing. Example: A friend tells you his house is haunted. Now when you stay there late at night, that idea is stuck back in your sub-conscience. Natural anomalies in your eye that you usually ignore (sometimes called “floaters”) suddenly trigger that thought – you think you saw something out of the corner of your eye … you’re certain you did … but when you turned to look it vanished. Because you had an expectation of the house being haunted from your friend’s suggestion, you reason natural occurrences to be evidence of the haunt.
So, basically, we have to throw every unrecordable experience out the door when considering someone else’s encounter with the supernatural… even Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” made this suggestion with the “There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” dialog between Scrooge and Marley. Even with our own seemingly encounters we have to be skeptical.
The soul isn’t something that is generally measurable by any of our physical senses. We can’t taste, smell, hear, touch or see each others’ souls. This leaves us all with relying on faith of its existence. If the soul doesn’t exist then there is nothing left after death – a despairing thought for anyone. This leaves us with strong desires to go to great lengths to prove its existence. If we could prove that ghosts exist, we then prove that our souls exist which relieves us of those anxieties. The question then would continue onto what happens to our souls and how do we prepare them for the afterlife?
I would have to remark that Dr. McDougall’s experiment in 1907 is a rather compelling one. He claimed to measure the soul in a scientific manner that brings controversy a century later. By eliminating many variables, including the evaporation of body moisture and the weight of the air we breathe, he calculated the weight of the soul at three-fourths of an ounce. The experiment made the initial claim that if a soul consists of matter in any form, its mass could be determined at the point it leaves the body.
This would be the first written account of science being used to find evidence of our souls, and
hence an afterlife; a discovery that is the basis of ghost hunting today. Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC^2, claims that energy essentially comes from an existence of matter. Energy fluctuations are exactly what ghost hunters monitor around places known for their supernatural experiences. From this, I would come to the conclusion that when a soul leaves the body, if it has mass, the natural electrical charges that exist within the body would also diminish after a brief charge. I haven’t researched the neuroscience of death, but this is what I’d expect by putting theories together.
In regards to ghosts, most go by faith. I personally look for evidence in the Bible. Jesus tells us a story of a rich man and Lazarus who are in different compartments of Sheol. The rich man was in Hades and the beggar in Abraham’s bosom. The tormented is trapped and unable to wander the earth. The comforted are at peace and don’t want to return to the earth. However, it strongly implies that those at peace could actually return in some form. Saul carried a vigil with a witch to summon Samuel from the grave successfully. So in a Biblical manner of speaking, it is possible for spirits to appear on earth. The most astonishing event in the history of spectre activity occurred with Jesus’ death and resurrection:
Matthew 27:51-53 “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
The term “fallen asleep” is synonymous with our word “death”. See the various accounts of Jesus raising people from the dead – He refers to their state as “sleep”.
So the dead saints can in some way or another roam the earth. We also know that angels appear and disappear in front of people and that 1/3 of the angels are demonic. So creatures from the spiritual realm may sometimes manifest themselves. This is in no way condoning necromancy, soothsaying or any form of witchcraft. These are forbidden for very good reasons. I also believe we shouldn’t even hold vigils which are essentially a form of necromancy. In vigils, people are trying to summon answers from the dead which implies summoning the presence of the dead itself.
I believe ghosts and spirits may wander around us, and are probably watching us all the time. I also believe that encounters with them are so rare that it’s unlikely anyone you know will ever be visited by one… unless they’re asking for trouble. We have instinctive fear of ghosts to protect us from horrible encounters, curses and demonic possession. Our instructions regarding ghosts and mediums is to ignore them (Leviticus 19:31). Besides, if we are fixated on the dead then we wander among the dead rather than the living. Since God is the God of the living, we should be seeking Him and thusly see His presence stronger amongst living things.