Since the Irish pretty much invented the holiday, it’s somewhat fitting that this year’s Halloween post begin in the ould sod, keying off an article on haunted houses I saw last week in The Irish Times.
Without going all Shirley Maclaine here, I’m open to the notion that there may be something to visitors from the great beyond. My 99.99% bet is that every inexplicable stray whisper in the night, every inexplicable creepy hair-raising feeling on the back or your neck on the back staircase, every inexplicably rattling tea cup or turned on burner, has a scientific explanation. But I will get my Shirley Maclaine on and say that I’m open to the 00.01% being poltergeisty-ESPish-ghostbusting whatever. And I’m a believer that, someday, that 99.99% scientific explanation may cover the weird stuff.
Hey, if matter can neither be created nor destroyed, what’s to say that some of the matter that was in, say, Bridey Murphy’s brain, might not have stayed connected, with Bridey Murphy’s memories and experiences imprinted therein. And what’s to say that this clump o’ matter might not have found its way into the host brain of a Colorado housewife a hundred years later. Wooooooooooo….
As for the cumulus-and-harp filled afterlife, I remain a skeptic. If it’s up and out there, I will be pleasantly (I hope) surprised. If it’s not, well, I’ll never know, will I?
Anyway, I found the Irish Time article interesting.
A middle aged banker quoted in it grew up in a Dublin house haunted by a benevolent/neutral ghost, who may or may not have been killed in a duel in their parlor.
But not all ghosts are Casper-friendly.
…one exorcist, who doesn’t want to be named – a practising Catholic priest – has noted “a huge increase in people needing deliverance. Their lives are absolutely miserable. They don’t want these spirits.”
Demand far exceeds his ability to supply spooked homeowners with counsel, he says, adding that the service is free, but church donations can be accepted.
Not to be outdone by the Catholics, the Church of Ireland offers exorcisms, too. Only they call it “deliverance ministry”. Deliverance, huh? Now there’s a name that wouldn’t fly in the US. Shades of a bunch of toothless yet armed and dangerous mountain coots.
The C of I Archdeacon of Ireland, David Pierpoint, suggests that, when you find yourself in need of a ghostbuster, you look to the church, rather than a non-religious outfit.
“We can help. There are a number of people trained to deal with these issues. With haunted homes you’re often dealing with the spirits of the dead although it is also possible to be possessed by an evil spirit.”
As an alternative, you can bring in Paranormal Study and Investigation (PSI), which:
…was established in 2005 to investigate and research paranormal phenomena. As a research team we take a completely balanced, unbiased and scientific view-point to this controversial field. Research areas we have focused on include; the alleged existence of spirits, the afterlife, mediumship, ESP (Extra sensory perception), PK (Psycho kinesis), EVP (Electric voice phenomena), possession and past life regression.
I’ve spent all of my adult life living in older buildings but, except for a couple quasi-waking up fugue state experiences of “something/someone” – immediately shaken off once you lift your head off the drool-soaked pillow - I’ve never felt the presence of an evil or kindly spirit (that wasn’t in the body of someone I know). I’ve never witnessed a vase being teleported from the mantel to the end table without someone’s embodied hand attached to it. And I just can’t bring myself to blame poltergeists for disappearing socks or the ability for any electronic appliance cord to tie itself in knots when left unattended.
But if I did experiencing something strange in my personal neighborhood, I wouldn’t call in the clergy. I’d call in the Boston-version of PSI. That would be the Paranormal Research Association of Boston,
…a team of scientific paranormal researchers coming from all walks of life. We are dedicated to the research of all claimed paranormal experiences with a three fold mission.
1. Above all, to help people who are suffering from paranormal experiences in their residences / places of work
Places of work? Would that I had known of the possibility of the haunted workplace when I was working full time. Paranormality would have explained an awful lot of what was going on that I, perhaps naively, chalked up to plain old vanilla dysfunction.
2. To further our, and as a consequence the public at large, understanding of paranormal activity through logical, verifiable scientific means.
3. Through presentations, classes and our published research papers, to give the public an understanding of both paranormal activity and the methods we use to locate and test paranormal activity.
And why am I not surprised that the founder of PRAB – which, by the way (in case you’re in need) – “will never charge any business or person for [its’ services” – is one Ian Murphy, who had earlier founded the Paranormal Research Association of Ireland. Not to be confused with the aforementioned PSI.
As noted, it’s no surprise to me that Ireland is a hotbed of paranormality. And, given our fine city’s Irish connections and relative antiquity, it’s apparently no accident that Boston holds it paranormal own, with at least one other group devoted to the study. That would be the Boston Paranormal Investigators. Theirs is a somewhat low information website, but they do claim a mascot which is sufficiently creepy to merit inclusion here, given that it’s Halloween.
Ecce – and dedicated to my sister Trish, who will be well aware of why she’d on the receiving end of this dedication – Benny:
Benny is a marionette believed to be from the 1920s carrying a paranormal energy. Normally, he is hanging around near the bathroom door. While no activity has surfaced since his arrival to BPI in late 2008, Benny has become a mainstay as well as the group mascot.
And with that, I will wish everyone a Happy Halloween, no smashed pumpkins, and fully loaded trick or treat bags. (Lots of Butterfingers.)
A Halloween shout-out to my shut-in friend V, who today is having her second hip replacement surgery since August. Wishing you a successful operation and speedy recovery.