Since I was a young girl, I have always been interested in the occult, the paranormal, and the "unexplained." I have lived in several "haunted" houses throughout the course of my life, and have seen, heard, and felt things that I know to be "out of this world."
Although every paranormal experience I have had has been memorable, there have been two ghosts who were so active in my homes that nothing they did would ever be forgotten. The first, we actually named "Casper," because he was indeed a friendly guardian of our home. My grandfather's home, to be precise. And my grandfather recognized him. Years ago, my grandfather owned a construction business, which flourished for over three decades. Early on in his business, he had hired a man with severe emotional problems, who ended up hanging himself from the I-Beam of one of his buildings during its construction. Several months after this event, my Grandfather noticed a presence in his home. He would lurk in the hallways and flicker the lights, open doors, and generally make mischief. It took many more months for him to take on corporeal form.
The first time my grandfather saw him, as he liked to recount often, was a hair-raising experience for him. The story he told us, which of course you must account for grandfatherly Irish embellishment, begins when he was sitting in his bedroom reading a book. He heard a knock at his door, and called "Come in," thinking it was one of us grandkids. No one entered, and he went on reading his book, thinking perhaps we had gone off to play and changed our minds about bothering him in his study. He heard another knock, of the same cadence and volume, and called again "Come in child!" But again, no one entered. He got up with a heavy sigh, and opened the door, exclaiming, "What do you need?" But, there was no one there. Puzzled, he looked down the long central hallway of the big ranch house, and, seeing no child running amok through its rooms, he closed his door and resumed reading. As soon as he sat down, he heard the knock again . Exasperated, he called "Come in already!" and as he watched, the door knob turned, the door opened, and there he saw a gift-wrapped box sitting on the floor, but no one there holding it. As he would recount this story frequently, we would always ask him what was in the box, but he never did tell us. He did however tell us that he brought the box curiously to his bed, and started to open it, only to be frightened by the door closing on its own, and the door knob engaging its lock with unseen fingers. Thus being startled, he fled the bedroom in all haste and resumed reading in the sitting room, away from the odd happenings in his bedroom. There were no doors to the sitting room itself, it was a large central sunken room in the middle of the house. There were large double doors that served as the main entrance to the house, and an entrance parlor, with a large closet to the left and a vanity to the right, a place to put your shoes, and an antique birthing chair for added Irish color. The parlor ended in a railing and a step down into the sitting room, which was open on one side to the step up into the dining room, and on the back wall to a set of sliding glass doors that led out to the back yard. The right hand wall was covered in tasteful paintings depicting hunting parties, lush meadows, and his children and grandchildren. The main hallway off which his bedroom lay at the end, ran along the length of the house, and from where he sat, he had a view of the hallway entrance to the right of the front parlor. He tried to resume reading, but the hairs were raised on the back of his neck, and he kept glancing toward the shadowy entrance to the hallway leading to the bedrooms. The first time he saw Casper was sitting in that gold brocade wicker and wood armchair, staring up at the yawning mouth of the hall, to witness a young man walking towards him with a smile on his face, and the gift he had left in his room in his hands. Grandfather let out a yelp, and the wispy apparition disappeared, the box tumbling to the floor. I tend to believe the "gift" was my Grandfather's Irish exaggeration of the event, because he never did tell us what was in it. But I do believe him about the ghost, because he became a fixture in that house for 18 years.
Grandfather told us that it was the ghost of the man who died on his jobsite, because he recognized him as such. Every adult family member in that household saw him frequently, but he never appeared in corporeal form to us grandkids until we had passed our eighteenth birthday. So only two of the grandchildren actually saw him in that house, my older sister and my oldest cousin. My grandfather went blind when I was 16, and died a week shy of my own eighteenth birthday. Casper left that house when my grandfather got sick, because, we all believe, his obligation to protect him had at that point expired. He must have known that Grandfather was not long for this world.
There are many amusing stories of sightings of this spirit, one in particular by my future stepmother, when she was still dating my father. Casper enjoyed making people jump, and he was very protective of Grandfather's three sons. He seemed to have a sixth sense (of course he would) about which lady friends slept over that would become part of the family. He appeared to those ladies that my father and uncles decided to wed. My own stepmother, a die-hard skeptic, full-blooded German logicist, never beleived any of the stories she heard from the family about the friendly ghost that dwelt in its halls, and in fact was so shaken up by her own encounter with Casper that she didn't tell my father about it for three months.
The story my stepmother finally told him began while they lay in bed together in the back bedroom of the house, which later became my own when I lived there. They were just tucking in for the night, and were laying in bed reading. My father had rolled over to place his book on the floor and was just falling asleep, when Christine saw Casper appear. She was also just settling in and had put her book down only to look up above her and see the figure of a man hovering about a foot over her body. She called softly, "John?" and there was no reply. She then reached up to the figure, only to have her hand pass right through him, and land on my father's shoulder. Groggily, he asked her what she wanted, to which she replied "Nothing," and promptly attempted to forget the experience. It was only when she again saw Casper taking his evening stroll through the backyard that she admitted to my father she had seen him before, and told him the story.
Another amusing story happened to my brother and me, when playing Nintendo on my grandfathers big tv in his bedroom. I remember we were playing Dr. Mario, when suddenly the screen went blue, as sometimes happens with those old Nintendo consoles, but I had never before seen the numbers 666 appear in the top right corner of the screen, as they did then. My brother and I knew immediately that it was Casper playing his pranks, because we attempted to turn the game off, to no avail. We pushed every button on the thing, with no results. We then tried to turn off the TV itself, but it would not turn off, none of the dials or buttons worked to change the channel or alter the blue screen with the indelibly etched white numbers 666 in the corner. Only when we unplugged the TV did the blue screen very slowly fade like a tunnel into a tiny blue dot in the middle of the screen, blinking out after what seemed an eternity of frightened childhood angst. Later of course we recounted the tale bravely to our family, as if we weren't scared out of our wits, but I admit that when that happened I wasn't quite so brazen as I let on.
I could go on all day about Casper, there were many more instances of his appearance, and many family stories to tell, but then I would never get to the other experiences I have had with the otherworld. When I was 14, I lived in another house that was quite unmistakably haunted. This tale was one of those seemingly out of a storybook. The history of the house was a century old, romantic story of two brothers, twins in fact, who were infatuated with the same woman. The brothers built the house from the foundation up, brick by brick, together, until their passion for the woman erupted in a fight to the death. Shortly before the completion of the house, when they were working on the third floor, one brother killed the other in a fit of jealous rage. The dead brother's unfinished house was what kept him anchored to this plane of existence, and the haunting consisted of the sounds of construction going on in that attic for all the years of its occupancy, until my family moved in. By this time, the house had been divided into a duplex, owned by the man on side A, while we rented side B.
The first time we encountered this ghost, it was my father who saw him. That is putting it mildly, as you will see. He was up in the middle of the night getting a drink from the fridge, and he turned around to walk back out to his bedroom, only to encounter a tall, sturdily built man in a red flannel shirt and torn jeans, who was standing directly behind him. My father had no chance to react, and if the man had been "real" he would have slammed right into him, but as it was, he walked right through him into the living room. He turned around to look for the man, but there was no one there.
Soon this ghost betrayed his presence in more and more irritating ways. My room was of course, the third floor loft, where every single night around 3 am, this very solid ghost came troomping up the stairs, waking my infant brother on his way, because his crib was right in his path, and he would stumble against it every night on his way into my room. My brothers room was below mine, and you had to walk through it to get to the stairway for my loft. I would hear his footfalls on my stairs every night around 3 am, and smell coffee brewing. The light would even sometimes dim perceptibly when he arrived. After the smell of coffee permeated the room, the noise would begin. Hammering, sawing, and general noises of building would go on until dawn, at which point they ceased and silence would fall over the house again. When I first complained to my father about this noise, he thought that our landlord was the culprit, as he was also in construction, but when my father brought it up to him he swore it was not him, and over time, we dredged the story of the haunting out of him.
Normally, my family wasn't bothered much by ghosts, we were used to them, after having Casper around for so long, but this guy, he scared off our friends, constantly woke the baby, and generally made a nuisance of himself. My father worked out of the house, as a musician, and when he was practicing with his then partner, Chuck, one rainy day, the ghost made an appearance in a mirror behind him, and Chuck went stark white, dropped his guitar, and fled from the house in the pouring rain, refusing to return until we had "got rid of" the ghost. Being raised Catholic, my father decided to call the family priest for help. Father Sam came at his bidding to offer the prayer for the dead and attempt a half-hearted "exorcism," at my father's behest, not realizing that his being an Episcopalian would present any problems. The Catholics do have one thing over all other sects of Christianity, and that is their rituals. Those rituals are bastardized versions of the ancient rites passed to them by their Pagan ancestors, which is why they tend to work, even though they have the Trinity as an addendum. The rituals are meant for those who have studied the occult carefully and rigidly for years before attempting to perform them. Father Sam was not prepared for the weight he would carry, literally, after his abortive exorcism. He came to the house after months of sleepless nights for my stepmother, and a few weeks after Chuck was frightened into a stupor by this apparition. He said some prayers throughout the house, and offered the dead to whom he spoke to leave with the words. And so he did. He left with Father Sam. As the priest left our house, he told my father many months later, he felt as if a heavy cloak had been dropped on his shoulders, enveloping him. He carried this weight around for weeks, which turned into months, until he took himself down to the big Catholic Cathedral downtown. When kneeling and praying to the ostentatious altar, he unburdened himself of the fretful spirit who had dwelled in our home, and finally felt freedom again from its presence.
These experiences among many others have taught me that there is another world within this one. A world where lingering thoughts and ideas exist in almost solid form. Call it another dimension, if you will, but the fact remains that it exists. There is a plane of existence that can entrap the souls of human beings, who have "unfinished business" on the physical plane. This plane is also home to the psychic energy of millions of humans alive today. We can tap into it, sometimes even see it, smell it, taste it, or otherwise sense it. This gives me the opportunity to explain my views on the different forms of existence within that plane. Spirits, for instance, are an amalgam of energy which becomes form, and develops consciousness. Ghosts, however, are the discarded energy of a human body, wrapped up in a loop of their own predefined consciousness. The entities that we call "Demons," are Spirits who have developed a malevolent consciousness and intend to harm, whereas "Angels" are the opposite spectrum of that development, they are Spirits which evolve to feel empathy and compassion for mankind, and wish to assist us with our endeavors. There are also inter-dimensional Beings, some call them Shadow People, who are entirely not human, and have been with the Earth since before the evolution of mankind. Their purpose is a mystery, and though some seem to be benevolent, others seem quite pernicious. I tend to view these Beings as "extra-terrestrial." Simply put, they do not emanate from the earth, but rather they visit here for their own reasons.
And this leads me into my next chapter: U.F.O. experiences and the visitation of Alien Life on Earth.