The term “ghost” is traditionally defined as the sensory appearance of a soul passed on from the human plane. When you hear the word, the association typically gravitates to a spirit or a haunting. Through further examination of the word and expansion of the word itself, other definitions can look like “a faint trace of something” and etymologically speaking, forming from the German word for soul. I pose the question with this card; living or dead, is anything with a soul considered a ghost? Inquiry with this card tends to produce great results, as there is the complete possibility that in the exploration of dimensions, there are perhaps other worlds experiencing our experience through the perception that we are the ghosts, and perhaps even some of us in this dimension experiencing each other as ghosts. I’ve come to know that ghost does not solely speak to biology, but also to a state of mind, both in subconscious hypnosis and astral projection. There are inter dimensional ghosts, earthly ghosts, living ghosts, dead ghosts, adult ghosts, children ghosts, animal ghosts, and beyond. I believe ghosts to be, as simply as possible, concentrated masses of energy perceived by one of the earthly senses.
Under this definition, there are hundreds of stories I could tell about my experience with ghosts. They’ve come and gone from my life quite a bit over the years, always in different forms. They appear either solo or in a cluster. Perhaps that is what made sense to me at the time, or maybe they’re different types of ghosts all together, but nonetheless, they’ve been incredibly visual and loud as hell.
My parents divorced when I was just a wee 2 years old. At the time, we were living in Charleston, SC, the city of my birth. My dad was in the coast guard and was stationed there, but after countless years of scream fighting with each other, it was clear that my parents’ relationship was never ever going to last. I like to believe they both had the wit and the knowing that it was the best choice they could’ve made, but it’s more likely that their ability to simultaneously be life preservers for each other quickly wore off, a little bit like any drowning scene in a movie where one person pushes the other under in order to stay above the water. I have vague memories of their very early fights, even some imagery of guns and broken glass, many sensations of fear and even more tears. I think the divorce honestly came out of survival. They were both so young and it was at the point where the fights were becoming violent. He would hit her, she would hit him back or throw breakable things in his direction, going round and round until the fury turned into exhaustion or the cops being called. They didn’t understand each other, point blank. I think he loved her and she didn’t exactly know what love was, but here she was, stuck with 2 kids, no money, no home, and now no husband. As a last resort, we made a small pilgrimage to what would become my “hometown,” a little pocket of deeply conservative northwest Georgia where my grandmother had relocated to and bought land with her second husband, Richard, a jolly, very country semi truck driver. We lived with my grandmother for nearly 3 years, in her 5 bedroom house that was the biggest house I had ever seen. My mom resided in the basement bedroom, my sister and me in the upstairs bedrooms where my grandmother and Richard, or Papa we called him, had the master bedroom. The tension in this household was tangible and it became very clear that my mother and grandmother didn’t get along. It wasn’t long before fights and disagreements began between them, Papa always stepping in to be the mediator to protect my mom while also siding with my grandmother. He was oddly skilled at that and I genuinely believe he thought of my mom as his blood daughter. Coming from a house with a screaming mom and dad to a house with a screaming mom and grandmother, my eyes and ears were constantly on high alert. It was around this time that I had my first experience with a dream coming true, the first time I swore I saw a fairy, the first time I heard a formless voice yell my name from nowhere, and the first time I saw the shadow people. I suppose in a way this was when magic formally presented itself to me. It was almost as if I could hear it say to me, “Hey, you! I’m Magic and I’m going to keep you safe.” And it did, time and time again. The moments that fights would get so intense and I’d look out the window and see the flash of a fairy wing and go running into the woods. It meant so little to me then, but I see now that it very well could’ve saved my life, or moreso, my mind. The presence of magic fresh into my life was lovely. It made me an active and brave child, allowed me to spend the majority of my time in the woods making potions and wands, digging up stones and following twinkly lights and high pitched music. My family thought I was quite bizarre, but I was having the time of my life. The aspect of this new magic that very much unsettled me was the presence of the shadow people. They appeared one at a time, almost always fairly tall with varying body statures. The bizarre part was that they were always in silhouette, no faces, no details, just drawn in, 2D black space. Their appearances were quick. Perhaps me noticing them was what signaled them to leave because they didn’t stay for much longer than a blink or an eye rub. They always seemed to appear shortly before a fight or something violent would break out and I would catch them in my vision at the exact moment of my reaction to the violence. It was often in my periphery, but there were a few times that I caught them head on. It was frustrating because they never moved. They stood completely stoically, just one big mass. I never told anyone about these shadows because I didn’t even really know how to explain the experience. I was never scared, other than the fact that they caught me by surprise, but their general presence never made me feel fear. Mostly just curiosity.
One fall morning, I was sleeping upstairs in my bedroom when I heard an absolutely horror movie worthy, scream of pure terror come from the downstairs living room. I immediately shot out of bed and there in front of me was a shadow person, clear as day. It was the clearest I had ever seen them, staying long enough for me to actually intake what was happening. I rubbed my eyes, and of course, it was instantly gone. Frustrated by the disappearance, I quickly remembered the scream and ran out of my room and to the living room. On the living room floor being held by my mother, was my grandmother in a state of utter hysteria, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably screaming, “WHY?? WHY?? WHY??” Papa had gone out for a delivery a couple of days prior and on his way home that morning, he was driving with his windows down, blasting 90’s country music. Destiny would have it that in that moment, a small bird flew in through his drivers side window and in between the swatting, the panic and the attempts to get the frantic bird out of his truck cabin, Papa drove off the road, crashing the semi and crushing his entire lower body from the chest down on the impact, killing him instantly and painlessly. Grief took over our home upon receiving the news and I could tell my grandmother was in a state of complete shock, even though she somehow managed to explain to me through sobs that Papa had an accident and got very hurt and that he went to heaven to be with Jesus, but we would see him again someday. I was an incredibly emotional child, but I did not have an emotional response receiving this news. Not that I didn’t care or that I didn’t love Papa, but my mind was caught inside of some sort of perception shock. I found myself too concerned with my shadow encounter not long before and I was certain I had figured out a connection; that they only appeared when something really bad happened. But what/who were they? That answer evaded me. They definitely seemed humanoid and kind of familiar, but not at all like aliens. Just observers almost, there to simply watch. No warnings, no communicating, no explaining. Just silent forms. I saw the shadow people between the ages of 4 - 8 years old, no more frequent than once a month. I eventually stopped trying to trap them and get answers and just let them engage how they wished to. The shadow people slowly turned into dream shadow people of my lucid dreaming world, then into voids in the astral distance I would meet during meditation, and then into my favorite, these very old people dressed in completely head to toe all white, walking in slow motion as if through Jell-o. I was the only one that seemed to see them always and I don’t think they ever saw me.
The moral of these interactions and this tale is this: we are a walking timeline. There are things present in and on us that were present at the day we were born and some of those things will be present in and on us when we die. That being said, thanks to the theory presented by the Netlfix original, The Haunting of Hill House, I figured out the shadow people. I believe them to be me, at various stages of my life, from what I actually think is projected from my therapists office when we go back in time to unpack specific childhood memories. It’s the moments I go digging so deeply into my mind that I end up nearly disassociated, because I’m actually just astrally memory hopping and I think if the memory is strong enough, we can see ourselves in the form of observation based shadow people, one of the many kinds of ghosts. I consider them the ghosts of memory. They are a glimpse into your silhouetted future and an opportunity for them to have nostalgia and feel how different things are now. It is how they heal and how you get curious about healing, ultimately being the same thing, the same loop. I have not seen the shadow people as adults. I have seen other incarnations of the same idea, maybe different ghosts, maybe the same ones in a different form, but whether we mean to or not, alive or dead, we will ALWAYS be/experience ghosts for ourselves and others. I anticipate the rules for ghost work are different when you have a physical body. The physical body supports the Hill House theory, while Disembodied souls support a more mysterious thriller vibe, hence a haunting. What will serve us best when working with ghosts is to not stand in fear, no matter what. Ghosts cannot and will not hurt you because much of the time, it’s actually just you, ready to deliver a very important message, or taking notes in observation mode. They may not look like you or sound like you, but what is important is the message. This is our sensory duty on this plane.