Few people are adverse to the idea that a ghost is the spirit of a dead person. Despite this, unless you have actually experienced one - it is possible that your mind's eye shall simply envisage them as a white sheet which shouts the word 'Boo'! However, ghosts are actually very different. Perhaps the most fundamental difference is the idea that you have to 'see something' - but this is not the case.
It is possible for ghosts to get up to 'all sorts', including:
Sounds. Footsteps across the ceiling, creaking of a door - and yet you know that nobody else is home.
Smells. Just what is causing that musty fragrance? Or that smell of roses?
Dragging/Holding. Particularly true for watery graves - where unseen forces may attempt to drag you down.
Touch. Did you just tap me on the shoulder? What is that holding me down?
Atmosphere. In occult 'like attracts like'. As such, a room that has witnessed violent events can take on a personality of its own - and introduce feelings of dread. Here, we also find the 'freezing cold' that often accompanies many a ghost sighting.
Apparitions. These can appear as normal human beings - until they fade right in front of you. This can include ghosts that are 'out of place' (e.g. an air stewardess wearing an old outdated uniform) and also 'hitch hikers' that appear by the side of unsuspecting travellers.
Poltergeists. Often the most dangerous - since they usually throw a variety of objects around (with increased risk depending upon the type of object). It is common for this 'type' to make use of many of the above activities.
It is possible to group ghosts into various categories, including:
Transitional. Sometimes a relative shall see a vision of a loved one at the moment they die. A relative may also hear the deceased's final words (e.g. 'I love you').
Purposeful. These have a task to complete - e.g. showing the living where their bones are so that they may have a decent burial. Unfortunately, they can also be/become vengeful ghosts - where violence is common place. The worst kind is likely to be a vengeful poltergeist - since such hauntings are likely to escalate until the ghost gets what it wants (including fatality). This category also includes those that may attempt to possess you!
Graveyard. Sometimes it's possible to see an apparition of the newly deceased (perhaps whilst they wait to cross over into the next world). Unless the graveyard is next to a place that holds special bonds to the deceased - it is unlikely that they shall remain for long (unless they see themselves as some kind of guardian). Here again we find confusion, because many associate angels with the deceased.
Entity. Perhaps the most common kind - seen by many people over an extended period of time. These tend to feature an apparition, which is perhaps dressed in old fashioned clothing and/or uses outdated language. There is also often a degree of intelligence - since different activities can occur in response to your actions.
Replay. An event (stuck in time) that keeps replaying. For example, citizens of Verviers (Belgium) are reported to have seen thousands of soldiers fighting/firing guns in the battle of Waterloo - only the soldiers were 'floating in the air'; years after the battle had taken place! In this type, there is little/no degree of intelligence - you just see the same event again and again.
Personal Experiences of Author/Family
The first couple of these are for me:
I used to rent a house - and was often away from it at weekends. One evening I got back, and the house felt 'odd'. I thought nothing of it and went in anyway. Later that evening, whilst I was sleeping, I awoke and felt myself pinned to the bed with a feeling of breath on the back of my neck. I started swearing - and kept pushing up - although it seemed that my hands were only depressing the mattress. My mind could see something strange/humanoid - and I didn't like it. Eventually it subsided - and I became aware that my bedroom was freezing cold (although I had had the heating on for many hours). Whatever had happened - I didn't feel right in that house ever again - and had to move out. Interestingly, the day I moved out, a local cat wandered into that house. It wandered around several of the rooms - seemed to stop at the 'attack' room - and then bolted for the front door. [My recent article on spirits makes we wonder whether this could also have been an Incubus/Succubus!].
I experienced odd events in a (college) classroom when I was younger. Whenever I was by myself - I heard a rustling (like leaves) - and a sensation that the rustles were getting closer to me. Each time I'd turn around - and the sounds would stop. One time I looked forward - and the rustles started again - stopping as soon as I looked behind again (which really freaked me). Several of my friends also had the same experience. Perhaps the scariest - is that I have also experienced the same phenomenon in my parents' bedroom - where on one occasion I had to 'jump' for the door.
The next is from my mother:
I was eleven years old leading a normal childhood (so I thought until that day). I lived in North London in a Council house with my parents and brother. We had heard from time to time 'footsteps going across the ceiling' of the lounge but when we went and looked up in the loft 'nothing was there'. The house stood on a corner and when the wind blew it made a horrible noise which used to scare me. My bedroom was next to my parent's room and we used to have to go along a long passageway to get to them. I always felt very strange walking along this as I always felt that something was watching me. One Saturday morning my parents and brother were out. I was in the house on my own except for my dog and cat. We were in the kitchen when Sandy my dog started to growl and my cat Monty started to put all his fur up which began to panic me. I opened the kitchen door and looked up towards the attic and froze. There was an outline of a man dressed in what looked like a Sherlock Holmes outfit. He was just looking at me and then he disappeared as quickly as he came. Many years later whilst on holiday with my parents we got talking about the house we used to live in. My father mentioned the name of Doctor Jones and told me that he was the ghost that was in that house. His own daughter had given birth to a child and she had died and he could not save her. He was a very unhappy spirit. My own mother had two miscarriages in that house also.
The remaining are from my grand-father:
I Edward John Holdway, Hereby state that this is a true story of my experience of an apparition from the spirit world. The place 134 Ranelagh Rd Tottenham N17. It was about 1960 in summer when my daughter was 8 years old. I was in the loft of the house dealing with my son's model railway and for some reason I saw something move in the far corner of the loft. What I saw was a shadowy shape in a black cloak. There were no features, it lasted about 10 seconds. I saw it a few days later on the landing of the house. On enquiring from various sources, I was told that a Doctor Sargent Jones owned the house and that his daughter lived there with them and that she had died young. He used to have horses in stables there and 2 wheeled traps. They used to ride around with these cloaks. When we lived there, the stables had been converted into a garage and were doing car repairs. One day the four mechanics came rushing out as they heard terrible screams coming from somewhere near the house and garage. On the walls were the original wall fixtures as one sees in stables.
On another occasion on a Saturday evening when I was about 10 years old. The place was in Janson's Road off Philip Lane Tottenham. It was a dark murky night off an alley-way. When an apparition came through a brick wall in this alley-way, glided across the path and went through the wall on the other side. There were kids and adults there at the time and an adult said it was some-one having a game as there were two gates in this alley-way. A few days later when I was doing my paper round in daylight I went up this alley-way and there were no gates, just 2 long walls extending both sides of the drive finishing at a garage at the end. It still remains a mystery.
Granddad's Ghost Letter - Part One
Granddad's Ghost Letter - Part Two
Granddad's Ghost Letter - Part Three
Ghosts can be encountered in many different places, including:
Aeroplanes. Those passengers that passed away on route to their destination.
Churches. Those that stay behind because of some unhappy event.
Hospitals. Too many deaths give rise to 'bad' atmospheres (at the very least).
Hotels (and houses). Likely to have atmospheres in rooms where people have died.
Inns. Crossroads for travellers of all guises (including murderers).
Libraries. Some may encounter more than just their next read.
Mansions. Remnants of many a nasty master.
Roads. Accident victims who are taken before their time.
Schools. Who was that running along the corridor?
We shall 'part conclude' by mentioning two sayings:
'Thought is provocative'. Which can be 'even more so' when thinking about ghosts! For example: driving down a dark country lane - thinking about phantom riders is likely to make you imagine things (I've been there!).
'As in life - as in death'. A violent person in life is likely to be violent after death to.
I believe there's just too many people died since the dawn of man for there not to be something in it.
Within realms of fantasy, ghosts are 'often there' to entertain us. Within fantasy films Ghost Pirates still sail 'the seven seas' - with their pirate ships sometimes appearing as 'ghosts themselves'. Within fantasy novels, the concept of a ghost can be used to 'add weight' to a character - such as a family guardian that 'rises in times of need'. Within fantasy games, you can find the concept of a 'ghost hunter', or alternatively 'having some fun' being chased by a ghost. Ghosts can even be found within fantasy theme parks - dancing around the graveyard, pushing through walls, and rattling 'all manner of chains'. Whatever fantasy realms such ghosts exist in, they bring with them the concept of 'something beyond - what we can touch'. Thereby allowing us to interact with them, in different ways 'to what may be possible' in the real world ...
The Haunted Mansion - Comedy Ghost Film
If Ever there was a Theme Park ride, that was turned into a Comedy Ghost Film, then that role belongs Solely, to Disney's - the Haunted Mansion:
As I have rode the Haunted Mansion ride (in Magic Kingdom) many times, I felt that this Fantasy Film, had a steep milestone to live up to (or is that a steep Gravestone to live up to?) ... For starters, it is hard to have a Haunted Mansion, just by itself. You need a storyline, and this film's storyline, of a love triangle (with a twist), really fits the Raven's bill! The film starts properly (for me), at the Iron Gates of the Haunted Mansion - which are of course, padlocked. Yet with some Ghostly magic, do the Mansion's Gate's then open ... And it is here, that I raised an eyebrow - as would I have been brave enough to enter? Probably not! Fortunately, such concerns are not faced, by the adventurer's of this film: the Evers Family :) And through those Iron Gates? Well ... First and foremost, I love this film's Fantasy Location - the Haunted Mansion itself :) There's Haunted Hallways, and Ghostly Stairs - with Spooky Curtains, and Guardian Knights. There's Spectral Ballrooms, and Darkened Bedrooms - with Glowing Candles, and Spying Portraits. There's Mothballed Libraries, and Marbled Studies - with Secret Passages, and Gothic Fireplaces. For this Haunted Mansion's, all Shroud in Dark - with Shimmering Cobwebs, and Scurrying Spiders, to Sleepless Tombs, and Spectral Carriages! For this Haunted Mansion's, all Cast in Light - with Flickering Candles, and Fiery Chandeliers, to Maleficent Green, and Whispered Balls! And of this Mansion, do I feel - no finer home, for Ghostly Haunts :) And it is here that I found, the next part of this Ghostly Tale, that I quite like ... As the Mansion itself, plays right into the variety of Ghosts, that are found within it's Haunted Halls :) There's Apparitions (both Touch and Wraith). There's Ghostly Balls (both Soul and Guide). There's Musical Instruments (both Sound and Chase). There's Replay Memories (both Masquerade Ball - and Locked in Time). There's Hitch Hiking Ghosts (both Speak and Hide). There's Suits of Armour (both Haunt and Axe). There's Spectral Horses (both Cart and Gallop). For in this Haunted Mansion - there's always My Way, You Know! Yet in all of this, did I find - three particular Ghosts, that are my favourites. First: is Ramsley (the Butler). For his Fantasy Character (being both straight faced and straight backed), helps guide the film, and is fundamental to it's storyline. Added to this, is the fact that Ramsley, made me jump three times: i) when he appears from the Knight's Corridor (in flashes of lightening) - would you hold your ground? ii) when he appears right behind Mr Evers (making him jump). iii) when he appears right behind Mrs Evers (making her jump). In all three, does Ramsley appear - to be Lending a Hand ... Second: is Madame Leota (the Gypsy Tarot Reader). Who for me, provides much of the comedy - whilst also guiding the Fate of both Mr and Mrs Evers (in a more helpful way). Madame Leota, is also responsible for some of the best footage, that's found within this film (in both terms of plot, and special effects). And of this best footage, do I have a favourite scene ... It's where Mr Evers first meets Madame Leota - and is soon being flown around the room: with Dancing Trumpets, Drums, Harps and Tarot Cards! Which eventually leads to, Mr Evers being chased down a corridor, by a whole ensemble - of Musical Instruments :) Third: is the Ghost Ball (which appears to Mr Ever's son and daughter). I liked the fact, that the Ghost Ball, is really a Will-o'-the-wisps - that has an honourable Quest, for the two children to undertake (even if it would have scared me, in reality!). I also enjoyed the humour, that surrounds the Ghost Ball - where the sister would follow it (being Brave), whilst her brother would not (shaking like a leaf). Even so ... There was one part of this film, that I found a little scary (especially the first time I watched it). It's where Mr Evers, undertakes the main Quest of the film (once he arrives at the Mansion), and goes down into the Mansion's Crypt. I was surprised by the Walking Dead (that he encounters down there), and felt that it would take a very brave person indeed, to Willingly Dive, Under the Water! Mind you, I now suspect that Ramsley, was solely responsible/behind this (in a bid to prevent Mr Evers, from completing his Quest). Although, if you don't like Spiders - then you'll probably be squinting, right after the Walking Dead scene, as well :) Overall: I feel that this is a lively Ghost Film, which brings the Haunted Mansion to Life - in a way that captures the fun side - of the original Haunted Mansion ride :) Yet at the same time, do I feel that the film, also contains an important message, about the need to maintain - a work life balance :) It took Mr Evers (as played by Eddie Murphy), several interactions with Ghosts - to fully realise/remember this ... Added to this, is the fact that several sub-plots of the film, are about Facing Your Fears, together with: You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail - But You Only Truly Fail, When You Stop Trying! And you get a Fantasy Film, that has much more on the Inside of the Mansion, than on the Outside :) Finally ... I just loved the comedy scene in the Library/Study - as we all want a large Painting of Ourselves, hanging above the Mantelpiece - don't we? And if you should decide to join us ...
When it comes to a Computer Game that blends a Haunted House, with a Spooky Storyline and numerous Puzzles (to challenge your mind), then I'd be hard pressed to name one better than this:
Lady in White - She faded away from me ... I like the fact that this is a game that's played best in the evening, as this is when it spooks you the most. Lady in White - She faded towards me ... I like the graphics found within this game, especially the Twisting Staircase that leads to the first floor of the Mansion. Lady in White - She passed between two doors ... I like the contrast in difficulty between the Puzzles in this game: some are simple (such as the Word Games), whilst others may cause you to tear your hair out (such as the Chess Games). Lady in White - Just where do you lead me? To the Crypt, I see ... The first puzzle left me hungry for more: two Skulls, two Tombstones, the rest is just Icing. The second puzzle came with a phobia at hand: eight points in a Star, seven Spiders to move. The third puzzle with an Eye to the Sky: the rivers of Mars - what phrase do you Spell? Shy Gypsy Slyly Spryly Tryst By My Crypt. What logic is that? The Sky is Ruddy Your Fate is Bloody! What riddle is that? My first real challenge came with the Maze in the basement - as I kept getting lost. It was only the Twisting Staircase that revealed the turns to make - a room upstairs with a map to the Maze: take the fifth on the right, then straight on, then turn to the right, ... Yet before, a Puzzle with a Grate, a simple solution did it seem, yet on my next turn, did I forget! When I first played this game (twenty-or-so years ago), I found myself amused by the icons/cursors: a throbbing Brain in a Skull (there's a Puzzle to be solved), Chattering Teeth (there's a Spooky Scene to view, such as plates and cutlery, that dance by themselves) and a Skeletal Hand (which both shows you the way, and bars your way). When I last played this game (earlier this week), I found myself jumping-for-joy: as I'd finally nailed the Piano Puzzle! It's with my new found Love of Music (including the learning of my Piano Notes/Chords over the past couple of years), that allowed me to breeze through the puzzle: B, B-Sharp, E-Flat, F ... Speaking of Pianos, there's two Spooky Scenes to watch (via the Drama Icon): a Skeleton that plays the Piano by itself (I just love that one!) and two hands by themselves, that play the Piano (I'd just faint at that one!). What's the hardest Puzzle in the game? I hear you say ... Well, for me, there's two (at least in the early/middle stages): one is Chess based and the other is Frustration based! After conquering the first Chess game (where you have to place eight Queens on a Chess Board), I encountered Bishop Chess: swap the position of four Black/White Bishops. Seems simple enough ... Hours later though - whilst I'd found a way to swap the middle pieces (fairly easily), the corner pieces caused me grief (what planet is this Puzzle from?!?). After conquering that (with some Magic in the middle), I then found out just how a virus multiples! Yes Gentle Reader - it's the Microscope Puzzle! This Puzzle tested my patience twenty years ago. This Puzzle tested my patience last weekend. This Puzzle tested my patience this week! Now I have a headache and I feel like I've caught the flu! Anyway ... I think I shall Flip a Coin and Turn some Cards! Ah, that's better - both solved (even with some head scratching). Now, one of my favourite (graphical) locations has to be the Altar/Chapel: as the room is decorated with the Swords and Shields of many a Knight (in Shining Armour). The puzzle itself? Mind your step - as every third step should be on Purple. You did get this far didn't you? Still stuck on the first Chess Puzzle? Here's a hint (assuming each row/column is labelled A to H from bottom-left), stick a Queen in (row-column): AB, BD, CF, DH, EC, FA, shhhhh - quite, that would be telling! Now, I found myself shivering at several Spooky Scenes within this game: hands that push out from a painting, soup that shapes itself into a face, and a mirror that shows a Lady in Green more than she bargained for (when she wishes to be young again). I also found several comical/defying reality Secret Passages, which both helped to save travel time, and add to it: there's one from the Library (the Fireplace) and there's one in the Games Room (the Billiards Table), but perhaps the oddest - is the one that's located on the Shelf! What room scared you the most? The Children's Nursery/Doll Room, especially when the Dolls Shadows danced! What about the control system? It's quite simple - just point and click with the mouse, although you need to be careful when clicking in puzzles (as too far to the left/right/bottom and you abort/restart the puzzle!). I also like the out-of-game controls: as there's an Egyptian Sphinx, which allows you to save your game and view which rooms you've solved puzzles in (via a coloured map) - all rendered as though it's on some Ancient Egyptian Papyrus (that also features two Egyptian Pyramids). Overall: I'm quite a fan of the Mansion that Henry Stauf built - as both the Mansion, and the Games/Puzzles, have been entertaining for over twenty years. Yes, some of the graphics may seem a little dated (by today's standards), but they don't seem to affect the quality of game play (at all). I still enjoy playing the puzzles (they are a good workout for my mind), and I still have several puzzles to solve (can you guess which ones?). At the very least, I have several dates with the Microscope over the next month or so (I will solve it!). The game is something of a masterpiece - as the Music, Puzzles, Ghosts and Video all combine to convey a decent storyline. It's not a fast game, and if you don't like puzzles, then it won't be for you. But, if you do like puzzles ... You do don't you? Then what are you waiting for? Afraid that the game won't run under Windows 7/8.1 64-bit? Well - it can! I used DOSBox. For example: mount c c: (slash) OLDGAMES, mount d d: (slash) -t cdrom ioctl, d: (after install - c: then cd t7g), t7g. If you don't fancy that, then there's a newer version (see relevant link below). Just one question remains - do you have a date with the Microscope to?