Monday, July 7, 2008

Kicking Ghosts to the Curb...

During the filming of Gods and Monsters, the cast and crew spent time at director James Whale's former house. Apparently, after his suicide, his ghost remained on the site. The new owner called in a priest to have his spirit exorcised and removed from the property.

Sir Ian McKellan's response was well put: "And why the fuck did you do that?"

Can spirits truly be swept from a home like a pile of ash? And if it is at all possible, is it morally objectionable?

Personally, I abhor these notions. I have never evicted a spirit nor do I ever intend to do so. I don't feel it is my right to march into a property and tell a ghost they need to leave. Why do people think it's some form of standard protocol? In our throw-away society, we tend to get rid of the things we fear or feel there is no need to keep. Ghosts happen to fall into that category.

When confronted with an individual dealing with a haunting, I have been asked to "remove" a ghost on several occasions. Every time, I have turned down the request. I simply tell them to treat the spirit like a roommate. Lay down ground rules. Reach an understanding. Just like living humans, if you acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to cease and desist, they often oblige.

Now, I know people will tell me that in cases of "demons" or evil entities, they need to be removed. First, I have never encountered something I would deem "demonic", though I have encountered some rather nasty ethereal individuals. I have no qualms with investigators trying to rid clients of these forms of bad dead people. Such cases are extremely rare, though, so the average spook in your attic isn't something to be feared.

We have a tendency to misunderstand spirits. Bangs, footsteps, and moving objects are treated as personal attacks, when their real meaning is often benevolent. They are cries for attention and acknowledgment. A simple "I know you're here, but please leave everything alone" normally stops such activity. Coexistence can be peaceful. There is no need for overreaction.

I do hope that Whale still lingers at his old homestead. Perhaps he simply quieted down to avoid another personal assault. But the thought that he packed up and left after a few splashes of holy water is absurd. He wasn't some evil entity. He was merely a sarcastic, humorous man. His personality alone wouldn't let him give up without a fight.

If you ever happen to find yourself in the midst of a haunted house, ask yourself why you would want them to leave. Are you really that threatened or are you just behaving irrationally? Most of us dread living in solitude. A little companionship, living or dead, could make for some interesting times.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree. They have every right to be there as any other person does. I consider it friendly myself to have one and would love to have a spirt in my place. I remember one at my moms house that would like to make noises on my closet door that would wake me up. All i would say is "please stop, I am trying to sleep" and they stopped. It was probably like a joke on me type deal but they were respectful.

Buck said...

I've always found this incredibly odd. I, personally, have said if I ever have the opportunity to buy an older or historic home I want my group to come in and make sure it's haunted before I close escrow! Otherwise, it's a no go. If I'm getting an older house, I want the ghost too!

It's also interesting you hit on a recent discussion we've been having on the SPI forums on "exorcisms". Simply put, one can't "exorcise" a ghost. Exorcism is used strictly for demons and strictly on people. A house can't be exorcised. It can be blessed but it can't be exorcised.

Besides, what priest does this? There are only two denominations that use the word "priest" Anglicans/Episcopalians and Catholics (Orthodox/Roman). So... it's not Orthodox or Roman Catholic because they'd never do that. They'd do a blessing but not an "exorcism" - that's a huge process. Not an Anglican/Episcopalian either because they don't even perform that rite any more.

So, was the "priest" some guy they found in the phone book?

Amazing how dumb people can be. Wonder how much that cost them?

Jeanne said...

Nice post, Ken.
(noticed a typo - you left out the word *not*, I believe in this sentence: when their real meaning is often malevolent.)
Okay, I truly like the idea that just because there may be another personality living under the same roof, it doesn't necessarily mean you should kick them out.
Ken, I love your blog!
This posting led me to some interesting Jewish aspects re. ghosts.
We're talking dybbuks - possession not by a demon but by a soul with unfinished business. And that led me to another intersting discussion.
It kinda cracks me up that all the Christian exorcisms would be laughed at by a Jewish ghost! ;~D

Wonder Man said...

I agree, I think spirits can make life a little more fun

Cullan Hudson said...

I have said it before and I will say it again: I have always wanted to live in a haunted house.

That said, I have to agree that a home shouldn't be "exorcised" but simply because I feel it would be fruitless.

Now, here's where I may deviate from some of you, but I don't feel hauntings and ghosts are supernatural in the religious sense. That is to say, I don't believe any ritual can expunge them. Time and again, researchers have discovered cases where attempts to rid a home or such of a ghostly presence has been met with utter failure. And sometimes it seems to work, too. Are these failings the fault of those attempting to cleanse the home, or is simply that such a thing cannot be done?

It is my belief that several discrete phenomena comprise what we call hauntings and ghosts. For example, residual hauntings seem to exist as something akin to past events being recorded onto present time; they are completely disconnected from our reality. And while some ghosts may be the disembodied souls of the deceased, others may simply exist as a quirk of the multiverse, perhaps a thinning of the walls separating realities.

I, too, agree that "demons" (if such things exist) are not nearly as responsible for hauntings as some television shows would have us believe and that dangerous entities are over-reported.

In my own investigations, I have perhaps (I always leave room for doubt) witnessed less than a handful of legit hauntings. Not one of them, including two apparitions, posed any danger. They just seemed to... be. While my own personal experiences cannot speak for the whole of mankind, I must reiterate that I don't think most spirits are a problem. I don't even think most are aware of the disturbances they cause; footsteps and bangings might be some after-effect.