TRADITIONAL GHOSTS AND HAUNTINGS
- Places that are haunted are usually believed to be associated with some occurrence or emotion in the ghost’s past; they are often a former home or the place where he or she died.
- Aside from actual ghostly apparitions, traditional signs of haunting range from strange noises, lights, odors or breezes to the displacement of objects, bells that ring spontaneously or musical instruments.
- While ghost stories are often explicitly meant to be scary, they have been written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comedy to morality tales.
- Ghosts often appear in the narrative as sentinels or prophets of things to come.
- Belief in ghosts is found in all cultures around the world, and thus ghost stories may be passed down orally or in written form
- The “ghost” may appear of its own accord or be summoned by magic.
- Linked to the ghost is the idea of “hauntings” – where a supernatural entity is tied to a place, object or person.
- A widespread belief concerning ghosts is that they are composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material.
- Anthropologists link this idea to early beliefs that ghosts were the person within the person (the person’s spirit), most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person’s breath.
- Ghosts in the classical world often appeared in the form of vapor or smoke, but at other times they were described as being substantial, appearing as they had been at the time of death, complete with the wounds that killed them.
Some places speak distinctly. Certain dark gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwreck.
— Robert Louis Stevenson
Ghosts seem harder to please than we are; it is as though they haunted for haunting’s sake – much as we relive, brood, and smoulder over our pasts.
— Elizabeth Bowen