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A Ghost Story PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Naomi Baker   

ghostyI saw a ghost.

Or maybe it was a spirit. I was a young teen, maybe 13.  In the dark of night, something caused me to waken.   Moonlight poured through a window covered only by thin yellow curtains, giving the room a honey-colored glow.  The house was built in the early 20th century, and like many small houses of that time, the room had doorways on either side, one leading into a living area and the other into an adjacent bedroom. My little brother was gently snoring on the adjacent bed.

My mother stood near the foot of the bed, wearing the simple cotton housecoats that she preferred in hot summers.  Her hand on her chest, she was muttering, or perhaps moaning. I could not tell if she was speaking words, but I sensed she was in distress, or pain.

Although I tried, I could not rise out of the bed, or speak.  I was frozen in position, on my back.  I struggled, I willed myself to raise an arm or find a voice, but I remain motionless and speechless.  My mother was no longer in the room, and I fell asleep.  At no time was I frightened or even puzzled by what was happening.

My grandparents owned this little house, and had moved it to a lake, where it served as our family vacation spot. The spot was remote - a 20 minute drive over private dirt roads that were seldom maintained, and another 20 miles to a small town that feature a hospital with a half-dozen beds.  When I woke up the next morning, my aunt said that my grandparents had taken my mother into the hospital during the night.

As I helped myself to breakfast, I remarked to my aunt that Mom had tried to tell me she was going to the hospital, but that I had been half-asleep and didn't understand what she had been trying to tell me.  Aunt Sherry stopped in mid-bite.  "Your mother never came into your room.  I was with her while she was dressing.  She didn't want to wake you or your brother. We never opened the bedroom doors."

I gave this episode little thought.  I had been awake, I had been unable to move, and I had apparently been dreaming.  In recent years, however, when I read stories of people's belief in ghosts, spirits, ESP, alien abductions, and visits by angels, I have come to understand how real these events might seem.  I'm not without imagination, but even as a young girl I was rational and logical. I understand about lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, coincidences, the subconscious.  I may have overhead people talking though the door, or my mother's voice, and in a hypnagogic state, incorporated those noises into my dream.  I don't believe that my mother was appearing or trying to communicate with me, through supernatural means.

As skeptics, we tend to immediately dismiss such tales with rational, scientific disdain. Skepticism is a process, and we are supposed to be open to valid evidence and willing to change our minds when the facts support it.  I dismiss these stories, not because I'm arrogant in my belief about the nature of such apparitions, but in the same way that I expect cars to remain on the proper side of the highway or that I don't like tomatoes:  I've evaluated the evidence so many times that I have concluded that tomatoes are not going to start tasting like pears and that under normal conditions car drivers are not going to arbitrarily choose directions. I don't feel a need to personally test each and every report of the paranormal, especially when the story is so similar to countless others that have been disproven. However, as skeptics who wish to educate and inform, we need to find a way to listen to these stories and use them to offer, albeit gently, alternative explanations.

Just last week, I was in a small group of women that I did not know well.  One of them began to tell a story of her own mother having a near-death experience (NDE). Her mom had been revived at the hospital, and reported the well-documented sensations of floating, of watching the medical staff working on her, of seeing her pastor and hearing him tell her "come back, you have more work to do here."

I was overjoyed to hear this story! I had never actually met someone who had an NDE (or been abducted, or contacted by a spirit), and thought "here is my chance!"  But I quickly realized that anything I might say would be perceived as an attack, so I waited for a while before bringing up some of the research where hospital staff have placed pictures or words on top of equipment, to see if the "floating body" had noticed them, about the commonality of the NDEs with oxygen deprivation, all without referring to her story. I separated the instruction from the event, and while she may continue to believe her mother was called back to Earth by God, I gave her some things to think about. I put some doubt in her mind, and doubt can be a good thing.

(By the way, Mom was in the hospital for a couple days, and remains corporeal 40 years later.)

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written by Kuroyume, July 04, 2009
When I was very young, I saw a ghost as well. I was sleeping in my sister's bed (out of fear for the boogie man and such). The bedroom door was opened and I saw a figure trundle down the hallway. To this day, I think it was an active imagination mixed with fear adrenaline and lack of sleep. That was the only purported ghost I've ever seen. Since then I have had my minor episodes of night fear whether it was a horror movie spawning it or the idea of a robber in the night. We are wired to be wary of night because we are not nocturnal and have been under fear of predation in our evolutionary history. These days the fear creeps in but is easily abated by internal reason and a degree of self-assurance.

On the NDE side, yes, I had a supposed NDE. Giving blood in a Roman Catholic Church and being a Catholic at the time. Most likely it was lack of nutrition before donating but all that I remember is starting the process and then being 'revived' by somewhat trepidatious nurses. In between, I saw the 'tunnel of light' and 'sunny pastures'. Even then this was taken by me to be more or less brain activity and not something external to reality. I used to be a regular blood donor until AIDS and the declining of such donations from those who may be suspect.
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When was the surgery?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Ghost?
written by Michael K Gray, July 04, 2009
Since teen years, (I am now 52 yrs), I had trained myself with some erratic success to enjoy consciously lucid dreams.
About 10 years ago (age ~40) whilst living alone, I had a profound chronic fever, (caused by advanced undiagnosed sub-acute bacterial endocarditis), and distinctly remember one night awakening with some heavy sense of dread due to a very realistic apparition of my ex-wife standing at the end of my bed.

I logically 'knew' her to be hundreds of miles away at the time, but I found myself unable to shake off the vivid realism of her presence, especially after she 'spoke' to me, and sat at the end of the bed!

It was not until after I found myself quite paralysed by the weight of a single blanket, with a highly improbable manifestation before me (the house was locked), that it occurred to me that I had in fact not woken at all, but was experiencing either hypnagogia, (or hypnopompia, I was in no state to discriminate between the two, but was at the time aware of the difference), and so forced myself to actually 'wake up', for real.

After I had shaken myself, spoken aloud and slapped my own face, I was sure that I had 'woken up', and thrown the bed-covers aside.
But I still heard voices in the next room, and apparitions still appeared, even playing classical music (Brahms, as it happens) on my stereo.

I then looked at my bedclothes, and I was still tucked in!
To cut a long story short, this 'awakwening - realising that I was still asleep' cycle occurred FIVE TIMES before I was truly conscious!**

I since have had NO DOUBT as to the vivid realisim of these mental states.
If I had not been a scientist and realist, these imagined events would have no doubt convinced me of the supernatural.
Yet I emerged convinced not of spooky-stuff, but of the power of the mind to fool itself in certain circumstances.
That experience has stuck with me, as one might imagine...

_____________
** I presented at the state hospital the next day with a temperature in the 40s (celcius) for a month of antibiotic therapy.
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written by 18pct, July 04, 2009
"I'm not without imagination, but even as a young girl I was rational and logical."

Hrm, learn something new every day. smilies/wink.gif

I've had a few similar experiences though. I suffer from sleep paralysis from time to time, and the things that can go through your head when it happens can be pretty bizarre. In addition to not being able to move, I'm often convinced (at the time) that there's someone lurking around in the room or just out of site. I can totally see how people could interpret this as an alien (or ghostly) visitation.
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written by MadScientist, July 05, 2009
I have no doubt that we can sometimes process sounds in the environment while we sleep. I am known to (sometimes) answer questions in my sleep and the people talking to me obviously believe I'm making sense. Usually they're really angry at me the next day because they've asked me to do something for them (like open the front door because they forgot their keys and it's cold outside) and I didn't.

Sleep paralysis is annoying; it's only happened to me twice, but it's a nuisance waking up and not being able to move, look around or speak.

Generally if I wake up and see strange shadows moving about I grab my rifle and hunt down the shadows (the shadows usually run pretty fast if you shout at them or fire the rifle into the ground).

I haven't seen any ghosts yet.
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Lucid Dreams and gravity.
written by Adavidson, July 05, 2009
The most startling experience I had a dream I had when I was 16. I had a dream that I had woken and was about to put my clothes on and get ready for school. Suddenly someone put their hand around my neck and janked me back, I awoke suddenly to find someones hand lying over my chest. I could feel the weight of the hand and it wasn`t mine, this combined with the effect of the dream created a complete surreal experience were I logically could not for the life of me understand what the hell was going on. It was a male, hairy hand, and hundreds of explenation flew through my head at once. I had of course fallen a sleep on my hand, and turned as I had woken up, to find the hand lying on my chest.

I have had several dreams about my dad after he passed away. They are often very symbolic, shaking hand saying good bye, lets go for one last walk etc. I understand that he often pops up in my subconsiousness during an average day, but I rarely give him much thought there and then. Therefore I process durign sleep. Its logic, and often quite nice as I can sometimes manipulate my dreams by placing either pictures of him in different places, of spray his cologne on my pillow etc. Its my scientific way of bringing him back for a short periode of time. Though I can understand how people might enterpret thouse experiences as actual ghosts.

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I saw a Ghost too....
written by Realitysage, July 05, 2009
Then I smacked the side of my old TV set and it magically went away....
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written by LovleAnjel, July 05, 2009
On the NDE side, yes, I had a supposed NDE. Giving blood


I had an NDE giving blood too--flying down the tunnel of light, seeing friend & family, the works. The nurse and other donors told me I had starting to twitch like I was seizing. I talked to my roommate, who had epilepsy, and she said she often felt like she was flying through a tunnel of light during seizures. Freaked me out.

I also have had waking dreams-- I used to fall asleep to the X-Files, and one night I woke up, paralyzed, to find Agent Scully standing in my bedroom doorway, talking to me about the case. Realizing that it could not possibly be real, I closed my eyes and actually heard her voice move across the room and back into the TV. I opened my eyes and the door was closed & lights were off in the room. Had it been a real person I could see how I might have interpreted that as some sort of visitation.
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written by carnegis, July 05, 2009
I had this happen to me a few times when I was converting to Mormonism. I was convinces that demons were trying to keep me from joining the church, so I was more convinced that it was true.

Years later I leanred about sleep paralysis, I was dissapointed to find out that my experience wasn't real.
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written by Alan3354, July 05, 2009
I like tomatoes that are uncooked. They're good in sauces, too, but I do not like tomato slices that have been heated or cooked, on a pizza, for example.
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written by BillyJoe, July 06, 2009
...and dried tomatoes, olives. and cheese...picnic blanket, green grass, sunshine...memories of a Leonard Cohen concert in a Yarra Valley Vinyard earlier this year...
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written by ladolphus, July 07, 2009
My friend told about seeing a typical, transparent, wind-blown, pale ghost of a young woman at the foot of the bed. He was staying over in his uncle & aunt's house and slept in the attic that night. At breakfast, he announced to them that he saw something "unusual" the night before. They immediately described her to him, saying they all seen it before too. If I didn't get to hear & query about this first hand with him, I'd discard it immediately. As it is, I'm comfortable with concluding "There is only one certainty about this kind of stuff ...it makes for an awfully good story!" smilies/wink.gif
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