Ghosts: What Are They?

HawkgrrrlMormon 60 Comments

Do you believe in ghosts?  Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?  If you do believe in ghosts, what do you think they are doing?  Why are they hanging around?

Aside from psychics, who seem to be able to sense ghosts everywhere, ghost sightings seem traceable to some commonalities:

  • photography.  If you look at some of these photos of ghosts, it’s easy to see that mixed in with the ghostly are photos of people’s blurry gray thumbs or “energy orbs” that look remarkably like glares from the sun.
  • with a known violent history.  The question this raises is whether knowledge of the violent history is sufficient to raise the hairs on the backs of people’s necks.  IOW, is the power of suggestion what causes the “ghostly experience”?  Or, is it possible that violence leaves a negative energy signature behind that results in these experiences?
  • where a lot of people have lived and died.  This seems somewhat logical also; the more populous an area has been for a long time, the more likely that violence may have occurred there.  Does the hustle & bustle of life leave an energy signature behind that people can sense?  OTOH, there have been pre-historic people in many places on the earth.  It’s not possible to know, in some cases, that a place was populated tens of thousands of years ago.  Do the traces of humanity fade over time?
  • visitations.  A friend of mine who is a grief counselor says that so many of her patients have experienced some sort of contact from beyond the grave, that she considers it a natural part of the grieving process, a way to find psychological closure when a loved one has gone.
  • climates.  It occurs to me that many of the “most haunted” places I have been also have humid climates:  the deep South, the northeast, Hawaii, Jamaica, England, etc.  Is it possible that we sense creepiness more in a humid climate because our bodies are more sensitive to changes in wind or temperature?

So, what do you think?  Are ghosts real or just people spooking themselves?  Are they sentient or just traces of energy?  And most importantly, have you ever seen or felt a ghostly presence?  Happy Halloween . . .

Comments 60

  1. I’m scared to death of ghosts, have been since I was a kid. Though I’ve never had an encounter with one, I was sure I had when I was younger. I tend to hypothesis #3 (places where lots of people have died), which is why I always try to live in new constructions, even in places with lots of existing structures. You never know which one might be haunted!

  2. I’m still scared of the dark and keep a light on. Too many of the old Frankenstein and Mummy movies from the sixties . . . ewwww and that creepy wrinkled hand coming up from under the bed to get you, where did that thought come from???

    Seriously, I don’t believe in ghosts. Oddly, one of my favorite places to go is an old cemetery in a small historical town in California. It’s so serene and beautiful there, I love it. I could stay there all night and it wouldn’t phase me a bit. Weird.

  3. This is a great topic! Assuming that ghosts are the same as disembodied spirits, here’s a few touchstones:
    1) Brigham Young said (and no other authority has disagreed) that the Spirit World is here on this planet, but in another dimension. That means that the possibility of being surrounded by ghosts constantly is fairly high.

    2) Our history is full of stories when these spirits have become visible and interacted with this dimension (Moroni and others visiting JS, heavenly visitors at the Kirtland Temple dedication, Bishop Wells’ boy visiting his mother, Hyrum Mack Smith coming back to get his wife a few months after his death, LeGrand Richards seeing Wilford Woodruff on the eve of the revelation of blacks getting the preisthood, etc.) Wilford Woodruff seemed to be able to see into the Spirit World almost constantly (St. George baptisms of founding fathers, for instance.)

    3) Our history is also full of stories of not-so-righteous spirits interacting in this world (In the sacred grove just prior to the first vision, H.C. Kimball just prior to opening England for the gospel, etc.) The fact that evil spirits can be invited into our lives and then refuse to leave is evidenced by (a) prohibitions on satanic devices like Ouiji Boards, and (b) the fact that “casting out evil spirits” is still done regularly.

    4)Scriptures (esp the BoM) are quite explicit that innocent blood “cries from the ground” for justice. (known violent history? Hmmm….)

    I don’t know if energy signatures are proof of ghosts or disembodied spirits. But I do believe that ghosts are real, they can be seen occasionally, and are both good and bad. I believe the spirits of the recent dead stick around in this world until after the funeral. The spirits of those suffering violent deaths (esp innocent violent deaths) hang around even longer. Ghosts of ancestors past will visit their posterity at appropriate times, and may occasionally be seen. Evil spirits can be conjured (voodoo rituals, seances, Ouiji boards, etc.) but can’t be dismissed, except through the priesthood. Temples are “dimensional gateways” between this world and that of spirits (PPPratt gave a sermon on this topic) so that’s why they appear so frequently. Areas that have seen lots of deaths (battlefields, etc.) have a unique feel to them–somewhere between sacred and sad.

    Have I personally seen a ghost? No, but I’ve seen ghostly effects (chairs rocking by themselves, for example)that gave me the heebie-jeebies like no other, and made my hair stand on end. No wonder the first thing a righteous spirit says upon appearing is “Peace be still.”

    1. Loved your reply. Spirits/Ghosts are very real I can assure you. I am now 57 yo and have been able to see and hear Spirits/Ghosts since I was a child. A Spirit is one that has moved on following death but will occasionally come to check u p on a loved on or family member. A Ghost is a soul that did not move on following death. Sometimes a soul is not even aware that they are dead (possibly due to a sudden, unexpected death) or a child that has passed and is still looking for a parent. I have had a couple of occasions when a ghost that had been causing a bit of trouble in a home and I was asked to come in and help ended up being nothing more than a soul of someone that feared their acts/behaviors during their life were not good enough to gain them access into Heaven so for them it was safer to stay put here rather than risking an afterlife of damnation. Once I was able to convenience them that they would be welcomed into Heaven and that their families were waiting for them, I was successful at crossing them over and there has been no further “hauntings” at these locations.

      Of course some of these Ghosts, who haven’t been the nicest people in life, are also not usually the nicest Ghosts either. They are, at times, more difficult to remove and send on their way. The same is true for more demonic entities. This requires MUCH more intense work to remove.

  4. “I believe the spirits of the recent dead stick around in this world until after the funeral. The spirits of those suffering violent deaths (esp innocent violent deaths) hang around even longer.”

    Just curious as to why do you believe this.

    1. I believe that the reason that ghosts ‘hang around’ until after the funeral is to help the family and other loved ones deal with the grief and mourning processes. I also believe that spirits of the recently deceased remain near the living is that death is as much of a process as is birth and that the veil is almost transparent in these two events.

  5. I love how some will see a chair rock by itself or hear a creak in their house, and come to the conclusion that “obviously” it was a disembodied spirit making contact with me from another dimension. The mind is powerful thing, and it has been proven that it’s easy to make yourself believe something. If ghosts do exist, then in this day and age of video surveillance and digital cameras, we would have something more than pictures of sun spots.

    1. Awesome Dave,

      There is much more evidence available today than in 2009 when you posted this. Voices are now being captured; video (among many other new pieces of equipment that are much more sensitive than a normal video) of spirits/ghosts moving around. I, personally, happen to see and hear spirits/ghosts and have had this ability since I was a young girl. Seeing a rocking chair rock or hear someone walking down my hall when I am the only one home is exciting for me because I always know that there is someone here watching out for me. 🙂

  6. I hope and believe in an afterlife, which of necessity requires some level of belief in the contiuance of the person, spirit, intelligence, whatever, even after death. Nevertheless, I could not say that I believe nor expect as a reasonable possibility that there is interaction between the living and the dead.

    On the other hand, if we take the New Testament at face value then there is quite a bit to be considered. Aside from the fact that Jesus himself was raised from the dead, including the Mormon belief that he spent the three days between his death and resurrection, preaching among the dead, he was also involved with “ghosts” from day to day. There were occassions where he is said to have cast out literal spirits, which were possessing and afflicting mortal tabernacles. He conversed with these spirits. He raised the dead, and spent a period of time being tempted by Satan. It seems that Ghosts play a major role in the Christian narrative.

  7. I have never seen a ghost/spirit, but I have had an interesting experience.

    After giving a talk at my grandfather’s funeral, I went along with my extended family to an aunt and uncle’s house. As I was changing in a bedroom, I saw a freestanding mirror leaning somewhat precariously against the wall in a location that could have been easily knocked over by one of the dozens of little children that would soon flood the house. I took hold of the mirror and said aloud to myself “this is pretty dangerous, better put this where the kids can’t get it.” As if in response to my statement, a thought entered my head: “Yes. When that mirror crashed on your head as a baby, I came to the hospital and gave you a blessing along with your father.” At that time, I felt like it was my grandfather’s spirit communicating with me.

    I didn’t mention that experience to anyone until a couple weeks later. I asked my dad on the phone: “Remember when that big mirror crashed on my head when I was one year old?” “Yeah,” he said. “Did you give me a blessing in the hospital?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. “Who else came and gave me a blessing with you?” I asked. He paused and thought, and then said: “Your Grandpa Payne.” That was the grandfather whose funeral I had just spoken at, and who I had thought was communicating with me when I moved the mirror.

    (Oh, for the curious, I got over 30 stitches in my forehead, nose, and cheek when I was a year old, but it’s debatable whether I was permanently damaged by the experience.) 🙂

    Anyway, what are the possibilities here?:

    1. My grandfather’s spirit communicated with me, and I accurately sensed it.

    2. In my grieving process, and having just spoken at my grandfather’s funeral, I simply imagined him communicating with me because he was in my thoughts and feelings. That of course raises the question: then what about his accurately communicating to me this previously unknown (to me) detail about giving me a blessing when I was one year old? Is there anything that could explain that away? I suppose perhaps at some point in my childhood when I asked my mom about my scars she told me the whole story and included the detail about my grandfather helping give me a blessing at the hospital with my dad, that I had forgotten it, and that I was simply remembering that long-forgotten detail as I moved a mirror just after my grandfather’s funeral.

    Regardless of the answer, it was a curious experience for me.

    Another strange experience: Our extended family shares an old cabin outside Hatch, UT along Highway 89. Down next to the highway is an old, abandoned house that’s been empty for decades. One afternoon a group of guys in the family and I went down to that abandoned house to scavenge for any materials that might be fun for shooting practice. We entered the house and walked around, seeing spooky sights here and there. A bare mattress on the floor with blood stains. Broken glass and thick dust covering everything. In that setting, I started hearing in my head an angry old woman screaming at us to get out of her house. The voice stopped when we left the house. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone at the time.

    A couple days later, I told my dad about the screaming woman’s voice in my head when we were scavenging the old abandoned house. He told me that many years back when he went into the house, he had a very similar experience.

    What are the possibilities? My dad and I accurately sensed a ghost/spirit, possibly the former owner of the abandoned house, who was upset that we were invading the property she owned in mortality? Or my dad and I both felt slight guilt for trespassing and invading someone’s former home which, combined with spooky sights like a blood-stained mattress, etc. caused us to imagine a ghost being angry at our presence there?

    Who knows. But it’s fun to wonder about it.

    1. First off the correct answer is #1 in the story about your grandfather. Secondly, you my friend are a sensitive!! You can hear the voices from the departed and are able to recall what was said. Your father might, also, be a sensitive. You are a lucky man to be able to hear your loved ones when they need/want to communicate with you. I am a medium and have valued my ability since I was a child. Be Blessed.

  8. In my attempts to get ‘out of the house’ the past few months I have gone ghost hunting a few times with a group of ghost hunters. There hasn’t been a lot of activity at the places I’ve gone to but we have recorded some voices answering questions and there was nothing audible when the questions were asked. I went off by myself to see what was down a hallway and heard a big crash right behind my head (I didn’t go off by myself again after that). It was fun, there are a lot of theories on what it is people experience. One of the guys that has been doing this a long time is putting together a book on a haunted cruise ship (not in operation any longer) that has a lot of sightings on it, he says that for some reason water seems to help with the sightings in some way (might confirm the humidity thing). He’s told me about some of his experiences which included a girl that was being cut by a ghost. After some investigation he figured out the ghost was a murderer that had died in that house. The ghost carved initials in the girls arm.
    Fun stuff!

  9. Since we are sharing ghost stories:

    One of my artist friends (non-Mormon) recounts visiting the site of the Sand Creek Massacre. He indicated that he was alone and that it was very misty. Through the fog he saw something coming towards him. As it came closer, he recognized an indian man in historical dress running straight towards him – then disappeared. If true, this might support the violent death theory.

  10. Post

    I have been to many places that are reputed to be haunted, but I only really have one “ghost” story to share. A few years ago we rented a two-story house in Paradise on Rte 30 in PA for a week. I grew up in the area, so I immediately recognized that the house had been built in the mid-1800s. It had no closets and had a full root cellar with external entrance from the ground level. There was also a door leading from one bedroom up to the attic, and the door had been propped closed with a TV and other furniture stacked against it. My immediate thought (daytime thought) was that doors in PA during the summer often stick closed during the day due to high humidity, but as humidity changes, sometimes they unstick and come open. Of course, many doors have hook latches up high to prevent them swinging open (rather than the ungainly stacking of furniture against a door).

    The last night we stayed there, I was reading a book of local ghost stories that I had bought. Some of these stories were familiar ones I knew about local cemeteries from growing up in the area, and other stories were new to me. I came across an unfamiliar story about a house on Rte 30 in Paradise in which late at night the door from the attic would open and footsteps would be heard leading from the attic, down the stairs, and out the front door. This was a tale from about 1900, so the house in question had to be built prior to that date. The next day, I saw that there were really only about 4 houses that could have met the description, including the one we rented. Spooky!

  11. Re#4 Tradition, I guess. And I’ve read quite a few experiences that seem to back this theory. A quick electronic search of Journal of Discourses turned up a few interesting quotes (but then you can find a quote to back up anything in those volumes).

  12. I think ghosts are the #1 thing I’m most afraid of that I don’t believe in. Well, maybe I believe in them, but I can be such a skeptic that it’s hard for me to. That having been said, the brain/mind is a strange, beautiful thing that indeed does emit energy, and we know that energy cannot be destroyed. We can even measure the energy that a brain emits using an EEG. The more I study Psychology and Neuroscience the more I realize how very strange the mind actually is. We are even starting to find that certain brain states emit specific brainwave frequencies. Consciousness seems to reside right around the 40 Hz level (maybe), but your brain contains many kinds of waves all at once. Does that mean that we leave an “energy imprint” on the places we go? I’m not sure. I don’t think that’s really been proven scientifically, nor am I sure it could be.

    But I do know the Universe is very, very strange, and when we take into account consciousness, brainwaves, quantum non-locality, and possibly many dimensions and energy levels, it almost seems that anything could be possible.

  13. The folks that made that new movie (Paranormal Activity) spent $15,000 to shoot the film, and it has so far made over $60M at the box office. That’s a heck of a profit! The thing that makes the movie scary or attractive is the belief that it could be real…that’s the way I think of a lot of stories I hear…they could be real but most likely they are just things in our imaginations to explain what we don’t understand.

    I have always been taught there are spirits around us all the time (what the heck are they doing? Do they see me in the shower?) but it doesn’t make sense if so many billions are around us all the time, why some open and close doors sometimes, but not all the time. …so I don’t believe they are really doing anything any of the time.

  14. One morning the day after I had a baby I was lying in the hospital and I started thinking about my deceased sister. A few minutes later, I had the feeling she had been there to see my new baby. A couple years later I related this experience to another sister and she told me that the same thing happened to her. I can’t know for sure if her spirit was really there, but I like to think so.

    It’s my personal opinion that benevolent spirits of deceased family members like to drop by once and a while to assist us or just to see how we are doing. I had the feeling once that these family members enjoy witnessing family gatherings and parties. If they are permitted to do so, I don’t see why not.

  15. Maybe I’m just clueless, but I’ve never seen anything I could remotely suspect to be a supernatural apparition.

    Felt a bit spooky walking around the deserted Gettysburg battlefield one late foggy spring day, but as much as I wanted to sense the ghosts of Pickett’s men as I walked the route of his doomed charge, there was just nothing there that wasn’t taking place in my own imagination.

    Bah humbug, in other words. Bits of undigested beef, more of gravy than of grave, etc., etc.

  16. Heber13:

    If I understand correctly from and LDS perspective, spirits are unable to experience arousal because they lack the necessary physical body for such a sensation. So if they are watching you shower, you can be sure that their intentions are decent.

  17. #19, Cowboy:
    I’d like to be at ease to think that, but I thought it was taught that part of spirit prison in the spirit world (kind of an interim purgatory), was the lack of peace to evil spirits because they have the same desires and passions, but have not physical body to satisfy those. (I.e. it is “hell” to have an addiction to alcohol and not be able to satisfy the addiction). I kinda think this is more a old legendary teaching rather than real doctrine, but I’ve heard that explained (hence my shower phobia).

    We are taught:
    “And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, … that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.” (2 Ne. 9:15–16; see also Rev. 22:11.)

    I’m not so sure all spirits have decent intentions. Yikes!

  18. My wife and I were talking the other day about what a dead person might have to go through to be allowed/able to visit someone who is still alive. It seems that just about everyone would want to visit family, if given the chance. Or even just play tricks on someone. Why are there not more such occurrences, if there are any at all?

    Is there paperwork involved? Some sort of energy that’s limited for most? Or does it have more to do with the receptiveness of the person to be visited? I guess the latter is supported by that story about a church leader whose deceased child tried to visit him but couldn’t because he was too mentally occupied, and so the child visited his mother instead (and told her why he hadn’t been able to contact his dad).

  19. I don’t like to think of dead people as ghosts, but as living dead people. After all, we never really “die” but just move on to the next phase of our existence (in my opinion anyway!). I have no doubt that all the “living dead” are close and are able to contact us at times. I have no idea what the “rules of contact” are, but some of the coolest experiences in my life involved living dead people. I use to fear death when I was younger, but now, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I can’t wait to see everyone who lived before me and most of all…..I can’t wait to FLY!!! 🙂

  20. My father shared with me a story that was told about a family with whom his parents and siblings were well acquainted. A member of that family had an accident where he was pinned under some farming equipment. While he was trapped there, he was visited by the spirit of his son, who had been killed during WWII. He was assured that he would live to recover and that help would arrive soon.

    Possibilities here?

    Hallucination from trauma or blood loss?
    Thoughts of departing this world and anticipation of meeting his son leading to hallucination?
    The spirit of the deceased was somehow allowed to pay a visit.

    I have only one supernatural experience, but it is not that spectacular. This occurred within the first year after we moved into a 30 year old home. I was working on the computer late at night without much lighting on. The computer is in a hallway. There is a half flight of stairs adjacent that leads to my daughters bedroom. I noticed in the quiet that something was moving on the upper level and saw in the dark a little girl walking from my daughter’s room to the other bedroom to hers. It startled me, but I was reassured that it was my daughter—partially hidden by the railing on the upper level. When I finished my work, I went to the other room to take my daughter back to her own room only to discover that she was not there. I went into her room and she was still asleep in her own bed. I still half believe that there was an apparition, but have no explanation as to why a young girl would be haunting the house. The other possibilities are that my daughter went back into her own room without me seeing her or that I was just really, really tired. Anyway, kinda cool to MAYBE have REALLY seen a ghost.

  21. A few years I started waking up in the middle of the night in short seizures. Each the event was accompanied by what felt like a high pitch noise inside of my and, and droning helicopter sounds. After a short time these experiences ended, but in the meantime I did some brief research and speculated that I may have been targeted for testing mobile sonic weapons. My guess is that it would have been some special operations branch of the military. I know this is a bit of a stretch, but don’t they sometimes refer to military personell who engage in clandestine operations, as ghosts?

  22. My mother was involved in a hostage situation in the Cokeville, WY elementary in 1986. The teachers and the students were moved into a cramped room while the perpetrators, a man and his wife, held them at gunpoint and threatened to detonate their homemade bomb. The bomb had been calibrated to level the entire school. As the afternoon progressed, children reported seeing adults, dressed in white, instruct them to move to the window or find their siblings and position themselves next to the exit. One of the children was later asked who had these adults with them – she replied that everyone was accompanied by these spirits dressed in white – even the hostage takers. The child indicated that at one point, the wife’s spirit turned and walked away from her. Shortly after, the bomb accidently exploded, with the wife receiving the majority of the impact.

    After the bombing, the children continued to speak about the other people in the room. A lady in our ward said the adults attributed it to the trauma. One evening, she asked her daughter for specific details about the lady in white, specificall, what did she look like? The child said, “she looks like you”. This sister became very emotional. She walked over to a cabinet and found a picture of her mother who had passed away before her child’s birth. When shown the picture, her daughter excitedly recognized her as her protector during the ordeal.

    20 years later all the survivors were asked to document their experiences in the book Witness to Miracles. For some it was too hard. The adults recognized it as miraculous, but didn’t see anything. Many of the children’s accounts were remarkable. I believe it was one of the best corroborated miracles and evidence of spirits in recent years.

  23. LDS theology call for the existence of spirits (unembodied and disembodied) with malicious intent that can affect us here in this life. Caution is warranted in trying to test for their existence.

    As per comments above, there are plenty of statements by Church leaders that indicate that those in the spirit world can see what’s going on here, though there is little indication (again as noted above) as to how that works and what restrictions apply.

    Are there disembodied spirits who get ‘stuck’ (or who choose to remain) here on earth? Don’t know.

    The only story I’ll share here is sort of an ‘anti-ghost’ story. My senior year of high school, I was on the speech team. We traveled up to LA (from San Diego) for a two-day speech tournament and spent the night in a local hotel (I think one room for all the guys and another for all the girls). The evening of the first day, we all gathered in one of the rooms to hang out together. Someone dragged out a Ouiji board, and a group formed to use it, even as one of the girls talked about how her last session with a Ouija board indicated that she was a reincarnated witch. I had been sitting over in one corner of the room, looking over my materials for the next day. The feeling in the room was getting pretty uncomfortable, so I twisted around so my back was to the group with the Ouija board, casually folded my arms, and started praying silently while looking off into space.

    The Ouija board wouldn’t work. After 5-10 minutes of trying to make it answer questions without success, the group finally gave up, and the room suddenly felt a whole lot better.

    It was a sobering and powerful lesson for me both about the real power of prayer and the real nature of some forces that you just shouldn’t mess with. ..bruce..

  24. One thing that I don’t think I was clear on with the ‘Ouija board’ story — I didn’t simply utter a silent prayer, and the board stopped working. I kept praying (silently and non-obviously) the entire 5-10 minutes that the group was trying to make the Ouija board work. Could be mere coincidence, but I don’t think it was; the group using the board had plenty of experience with it and grew quite frustrated that they couldn’t get any response from it at all. ..bruce..

  25. And then there’s the story about the guys who asked the Ouiji board why it wouldn’t work, and the pointer spelled out P-R-I-E-S-T-H-O-O-D. The story was told to me by a good friend who was not active at the time, and no one operating the board knew what priesthood was. But it scared my friend back into activity and onto a mission. It could be a faith-promoting rumor, but I believe it.

    I wish Jen #22 would contribute at least one of her experiences to this thread…

  26. I’m not sure about “ghosts”, but I believe deeply in spirits being able to communicate with mortals.

    I just have no idea why and for whom it happens and not at other times and for other people.

  27. I really like #14 Arthur’s comment. The mind is a strange thing and we poorly understand it at best. As a result I tend to place my bets with psychological phenomena rather than supernatural phenomena. In the absence of convincing evidence of the supernatural, I tend to focus on the natural processes.

    I also don’t have any ghost stories to share. I’m thoroughly boring, and thoroughly skeptical. And with that I’ll go back to my engineering book!!

  28. JMB…I also think it is a psychological phenomena. I have witnessed people telling me spirits are in the room and they describe them to me…and I have been asked to use the priesthood to bless a home that was haunted.

    In both cases, I try not to be too skeptical…I try to look at it as if others perceive it as real, then it is real to them. But when I feel nothing and experience nothing…then it is not real to me.

    But just because I don’t experience it, I do not think others have to think the way I do. I’m open to the possibility…and am just waiting my ghost experience…until then…I don’t think they are real outside of people’s minds.

  29. Ghosts are real. They are the departed spirits of people who left behind unresolved problems, like getting back at their murderers. Ghosts can be seen by people who look like Whoopi Goldberg, and they enjoy making pottery with a spinning wheel.

  30. #29 Clark-

    I haven’t experienced “ghost” like experiences that have scared me or made me feel uncomfortable in anyway. The experiences I have had have been very uplifting and sacred and I don’t share them mainly because it is impossible to convey those experiences in words without taking away from them somehow. I think some things are better left unsaid, but I will say that I have no doubt that there are those on the other side of the veil who love us and are watching over us.

  31. As long as we’re sharing ghost stories:

    I grew up in a large 2-story house. It had been around for about 100 years, which is ancient in California. No one really knew the history of the house, but the prevailing rumor was that the man who built it hung himself in it. That’s about as specific as the rumor ever was. Anyway, as teenagers, my sister and I were often home alone. While downstairs we’d often hear noises upstairs, like someone walking–or stomping–around. We never investigated, but after a while I just learned to ignore it.

    This one is scarier, from a friend of mine who’s pretty skeptical. As an adult, he and some friends went out to a graveyard that was rumored to be haunted. They arrived about dusk and placed a tape recorder atop one of the central tombstones. Some members of their small (four to six people) party refused to enter the site, but the rest of them investigated the yard, poking around among the various headstones, statues and memorials. After about an hour without any supernatural apparitions, they left. In the car on the way back, they rewound and listened to the tape they had recorded. They could hear each others activities on the tape. At one point, about halfway through, the heard a raspy, but distinct voice say, “It’s not what you think! It’s MURDER!” From what everyone was saying in the background, they knew each other’s whereabouts, and at that time no one was near the recorder. All they know is that none of them heard anything during their visit.


  32. I think it is only creepy if you entertain the thought it could be real. Otherwise, what is creepy to others is just a story to some. It all hinges on the belief you really consider it to be real. That is why most of the stories that creep people out are when they happened to someone they knew or was a Blair Witch Project type thing that makes you believe it wasn’t just made in a hollywood studio…then there is more creep factor involved.

    I have noticed there are so many movies and TV shows about ghosts and fantasy worlds. I think that is what keeps it alive in our culture…its fun to think about and there is a entertaining sensation of being spooked or scary that people like…it raises emotions, even if it is not based on reality or any kind of church doctrine.

    1. Well Heber13, there were no ghost shows or movies around when I was first seeing and hearing spirits as a young girl (I am now 57). I thought that they were just flesh and bone bodies that I was seeing for many years until my mother began teasing me about “seeing” and “hearing” people that weren’t there. It was years later that she began believing in this possibility when one of her bridge buddies told them that she was a physical medium and shared her MANY experiences throughout her lifetime. She was at our home one day for their regular bridge day and she looked at my mother and said, “I didn’t know you had a cat, Rosie!” My mother told her that we didn’t and the lady replied, “Well, there was a white cat that just walked through here!!” Well, what she wasn’t aware of was that long before my mother knew her we had a white cat but she had passed away about 20 years earlier. She described our cat in detail, down to the flowing, long, solid white fur. So my mother became much more receptive to the idea of spirits. They are all around us….:-)

  33. The 3 Nephites towed my car on a back road during a snow storm and told me to increase my food storage, but I guess they don’t count because they aren’t really dead.

  34. So why is it that some people just don’t see any of this?

    I served a mission in a uniquely “demon-haunted” part of the world, where various occult beliefs were widespread and taken quite seriously. I never got any sense that any of it had any substance. Frankly, I thought the occult-believers were idiots.

    Coincidentally, I’ve never really experienced any kind of powerful spiritual affirmation of the truth of Mormonism, either. Is it possible that some people just don’t have the mental circuitry for spiritual intuition? Do I just have Spiritual Asperger’s or something? I do like trains….

    1. Thomas,

      This is a common question, why do I see spirits but they don’t/can’t see them?! Well, I am of the belief that all of us are born with at least some ability to witness this, some have stronger abilities but for most people these abilities begin to diminish as we grow older. This is usually due to non-believing parents telling the child that it is just their imaginations or them believing that their child just has an imaginary friend and treats it as such. For those with the stronger abilities we don’t have much choice but to see and/or hear spirits or ghosts.

  35. Thomas,

    I too have a high degree of skepticism about this, but in answer to your question about why some people don’t see any of this, the possibilities I see are:

    1. They don’t see it because they don’t believe it exists, and so they don’t recognize it for what it is even if they see it.
    2. They don’t see it because they’re not looking for it.
    3. Some people have more finely-attuned powers of perception. For example, the deaf often have keener eyesight, or the blind often have keener hearing.
    4. Maybe there is a “sixth sense” of perception that most people don’t have. For example, normal people can only see a limited spectrum of light with their natural eyes. There are many forms of light (ultra violet, infra red) that humans cannot see with their natural eyes. Similarly, humans do not have night vision with their natural eyes, but many animals do. Is it possible that some humans have an abnormal ability to see what most people can’t? Imagine a genetic abnormality that gave someone night vision like an animal. Or the ability to see infra red light. If we believe the theory of evolution, developing these more advanced abilities through genetic abnormalities is entirely within the realm of the possible. I’m not saying that ghosts are only visible via night vision, or infra red goggles, etc. What I am trying to explain is that based on: (1) the theory of evolution that species over time develop genetic abnormalities that give them beneficial, increased abilities; and (2) the known scientific fact that humans are only able to view with the naked eye a small slice of “reality” (i.e. the visible light spectrum), it seems possible that some humans could develop a genetic abnormality that enables them to view aspects of reality that most people can’t.

    I say “possible.” Probable? The jury’s still out for me on that . . .

  36. #38. There ARE areas of the brain that are correlated with spiritual/religious experiences. Whether there’s causation, the jury’s still out. But certain experiments have shown that stimulating those areas of the brain with magnetic fields does seem to cause spiritual type feelings in subjects. Just look up “God helmet” in Google. A skeptic would say that this area of the brain is the “cause” of spiritual experiences while the religiously devout would say that it’s a built-in interface with the spiritual domain that has been given intentionally to us by God. One thing I do know is that when Richard Dawkins allowed himself to be so tested, he didn’t feel anything. 🙂 Go figure. The evidence does seem to indicate that some people are naturally more in-tune to spiritual experiences than others. One might say that some of us have been given the gift of faith, and others have been given the gift of believing those who do.

  37. #40: “One might say that some of us have been given the gift of faith, and others have been given the gift of believing those who do.”

    But which ones? Why the Mormons and not the Muslims?

    “Oh, because you’ll feel the witness of the Spirit when the Mormons testify of their faith, but not when the Muslims do.”

    Except the whole problem is that I evidently haven’t been given the “gift” of the ability to feel that witness. So we’re back at square one.

    More and more, I’m coming to the conclusion that the Mormon doctrine about the origin of faith compels belief in Calvinist predestination. Some people just have been given the gift, and some haven’t. Wheat and tares together sown, according to the absolute, arbitrary and ineffable pleasure of God. Mortal understandings of justice are incompetent to question this.

    Or, I can believe that God gives everyone the gift of an ability to choose to believe in a just and loving God. In the sectarian territory beyond that, some are given gifts according to their needs, but salvation does not depend on the distribution of those gifts, or the resulting sectarian affiliations that people adopt based on them.

  38. Nah, I think we’re judged based on what we have, not what we don’t have. Besides, I was just presenting the data, I wasn’t necessarily drawing conclusions.

  39. I was on a study abroad trip in another country. I lived in an apartment that was really old in a part of town an important setting in Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. In my room I would frequently hear a baby crying. However, one time my landlady told me that she didn’t like my room because she would hear a baby crying and nobody in the building had a baby. I found that curious, but it didn’t scare me.

  40. Interesting conversation. Makes me think of a book I just finished reading called “The Third Man Factor,” about people who, when pushed to the limits of their endurance, sensed (or even saw) the presence of someone who gave them comfort and guidance. Some of these people were convinced the presence was a relative who had passed on. Others thought it was a guardian angel or something of that nature. Still others were convinced it was a purely physiological phenomenon–simply the brain’s response to extreme stress. There’s always an alternative explanation for everything, I guess.

  41. Rikvah, that is a true phenomenon. Last night as I was watching the Empire Strikes Back with my girls, Luke was on the brink of death and saw the ghost of Obi Wan, who told him to go to the Degobah system and find Yoda. Later in the movie, Luke did go to the Degobah system and found Yoda just as Obi Wan had predicted. If Obi Wan wasn’t a real spirit, how could he have accurately known where Luke would be able to find Yoda?

    Makes you think . . .

  42. Larry: Yep, that’s the question.

    I’m personally convinced that communication with people beyond the veil does happen. But I also know that the brain can conjure up a sensed presence sometimes. It’s happened to me before. Has anyone heard of a hypnagogic hallucination? It can occur when a person is between sleep and wakefulness–sometimes one can hear voices or sense someone nearby. It’s like having a nightmare when you’re partially awake, and it can be pretty terrifying if you don’t know what’s going on. My home teacher was describing a similar experience recently, and he was bummed out when I told him what it likely was–and not some creepy encounter with an evil spirit. 🙂

  43. The word ghost is so generic that it has no real meaning, similar to how the word transpotation doesn’t really articulate that something is a car, bike, truck, walking, flying, etc. People are spooked by the concept of ghosts, because they are uncomfortable with their own eventual death. Death only describes a body that no longer houses a spirit and is 100% inaccurate in decribing the condition of a spirit that does not occupy a body.

    We believe that the truth of all things can be verified by the testimony of multiple witnesses. The above described story surrounding the escape of the school children is a rare, but classic example of multiple living people testifying of the reality of a single event that clearly establishes the reality of the spirit world. Other posts here show that more typically, spirit manifestations are more of a one on one event. I believe that considering the millions of other accounts of these typically solitary experiences, both published and unpublished, demonstrate a cumulative testimony of the spirit world that is compelling and overwhelming. I also give great weight to accounts of spirit world experiences when they come from the likes of Wiford Woodruff, LeGrand Richards, as well as people I have personally known. This is said with the caveat that a tiny minority of these accounts are not true, as some seek to gain their 15 minutes of fame, sell a few books, etc.

    As to specific instances, there are accurate explanations for all of them, though some can be unsettling. While our bodies may fail, thus evicting our spirits from them, our agency is intact in terms of whether we leave this earthly dimension to enter the spirit world proper. Some are so tied to places, property or other things such a s addictions, that they will not yet choose to give them up. So yes spirits will occupy homes and other places, but they live a very hollow existence as they cling to the transitory. In a way, they live in their own personal hell.

    With permission of those who control such things, other spirits are allowed to visit for highly specialized reasons, such as preserving the lives of the children in the school. Though they were hostages of people intent on murdering them, these children were not marked unto death that day and the spirits of their deceased relatives were granted the means to insure their survival. I emphasize yhat this kind of intervention is allowed only to the point that would not undermine or prevent something that was meant to happen, even if it is adversity of the most hideous and tragic kind. More typical of this category of contact is the example of the man pinned under the tractor, who was told by his son that he would be OK, but who more importantly learned that his dead son was OK. Sometimes they are given what must be a sacred task and I believe this is what Anon and her living sister didn’t understand about their dead sister. It is very feasible that this other sister escorted the spirits of their new babies to the hospital.

    Sometimes those in this earthly dimension need to know something, very often of a comforting nature, that that we cannnot know any other way other than from the deceased. I have had at least 100 parents of deceased children relate to me that their children’s spirits came back grant them reprive from their fears concerning the condition of their children. I gather that this comfort will not salve the parental wounds should it come from any less authoritative source. I’m certain of this, because 30 years ago next Monday, my child died. While I have waited since day one for this type of contact, I have not received it. Yet for more than the second half of these three decades, I’ve been so totally cool with the whole situation and would not change it if I had the power to do so. Probably, if I had been given such a manifestation, I would not have developed the motivation to learn and understand as much about the spirit world as I believe I have.

    Let me close by trying to wrap up a few loose ends. As best as I can wrap my brain around string theory and quantum physics, it is very believable that the spirit world in located here on earth, but in another dimension. My understanding about spirits sticking around for their funeral is twofold. In reality, they go back and forth between the two dimensions during this narrow window of time. The practical reason behind this is to know where they are buried, which will come in handy at the time of resurection. The stronger reason is simply to see and say last goodbyes to loved ones they are leaving behind, before they depart. Last but not least, those types of spirits I think would best fit the definition of what most would consider to be a ghost, are almost always unembodied spirits, as in a third of the hosts of heaven that I’ve read about somewhere. Think in terms of Scewtape Letters if you need a more elaboration on this crowd. Some are mildly mischievious, while others will gobble us whole, if they only could.

  44. “We believe that the truth of all things can be verified by the testimony of multiple witnesses.”

    Not necessarily. Otherwise, we’d have to accept the Philastus Hurlbut affidavits against Joseph Smith as being authentic.

    Multiple witnesses are clearly better than single witnesses, but they’re not conclusive evidence, either. And when something is outside the realm of ordinary experience — like ghost stories — a heightened standard of evidence is appropriate.

    There are plenty of alien abduction stories, either. I don’t credit them for a minute.

  45. I will share one experience, just to reiterate that I believe deeply that “spirits” do exist – or that, at the very least, God can use that concept to speak with us. I choose to believe the former. (Actually, there are multiple ponder points in this experience, but I will focus on the one that is most relevant to this discussion.)

    Someone in my family has a good friend who was in the early stages of pregnancy. (mid-20 weeks) She had a monthly scheduled doctor appointment, but it got rescheduled at the last minute for a week later. She showed up for that appointment, and the receptionist informed her that the doctor was running quite late – giving her the option (and suggestion) that she reschedule for one more week later. The option was tempting, since she had other children to attend to and there was NO indication that she needed to see the doctor that day, but she felt a sudden, strong sense that she should wait however long it took and see him that day.

    Long story short, she was rushed to the hospital – where an emergency C-section was performed and she delivered a baby girl who weighed less than two pounds and was only twelve inches long.

    How does this relate to this post?

    This woman and her husband had been struggling to think of a name for their girl. About one week prior to the unexpected delivery, the husband told his wife of a vivid dream. They laughed it off as a weird dream, until the next week in the hospital.

    In the dream, a little girl appeared to her father, told him her name and said, “Tell mommy I’m OK. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”

    Their little miracle baby now carries the name of the girl in the dream.

  46. Post

    OK, one more family ghost story. My mother’s great aunt was very upset when her father died. She was so wracked with grief that she was bed-ridden and had become very ill. She wouldn’t eat or stop crying. One night, her father’s ghost appeared at the foot of her bed. He told her he was fine where he was and she needed to stop carrying on or she’d make herself sick and she’d die too. She was so frightened, she stopped grieving immediately. She was afraid he was going to come back!

  47. This post creeps me out. Great stories, though.

    I believe in ghosts, or spirits, but I have no theories as to why some stick around or appear to us and some do not.

    I do believe that some people are given a spiritual gift of seeing, hearing, or recognizing spirits often, and others of us are not. Like any other spiritual gift, it can be used to help us and others, but others are not damned for not possessing it.

    One story:

    After giving a talk in a small branch in my mission, one of the members approached me and told me there was a woman standing beside and behind me while I spoke. I didn’t see or feel anything at the time, and I know it may be a mad rambling of an old man, but I like to think my mom was watching over me, maybe giving encouragement.

  48. What is the difference between my 6 year old being scared there is the boogie man in his closet, Ray’s story (post#50), and my faith that God exists in Heaven as a perfect, resurrected Man?

    None of them can be proven or disproven (as much as I have tried to reason with my 6 year old…he is still scared and it is real to him). They can all only be believed or dismissed.

  49. I have a
    photo from the Visitors center grounds during Christmas 2011 that clearly show something
    ghostly or evil I dont presume to know what. The next photo taken seconds later
    shows nothing. It happened again to a lesser degree over by the Christmas tree
    type of lights again the next frame nothing. I am not Mormon and I have never
    had this type of photo from our camera it’s very hard to explain. I have had
    two Near Death Experiences so I do believe in Heaven and Hell. I think there is
    something to ghosts… mostly though I believe it is more evil than good. Case
    in point the many reports of young girl ghosts world wide it seems to me an evil
    type of entity is trying to make it seem like something as innocent and
    helpless as a child could be trapped in a ghostly situation for eternity that
    is hard to believe and seems more like evidence of evil rather than a ghost. My
    photo has images that do not look friendly, I should say up front so it’s hard
    to say, just when you think you have seen it all something new happens. Keith S
    BA in Sociology and I am a Licensed Counselor.

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