Every religion professes the existence of an afterlife. It provides
excellent motivation when absolute faith is required of the practitioners.
If their assumption is indeed true, we are all part of something much
larger than we can comprehend. Among the sacred doctrines, the existence
of a soul is less of a point of contention than what happens to that
soul after death.
Early Romans observed the Feast of the Lemures, during which the
unwholesome and malevolent specters of the restless dead were appeased.
Ancient Romans performed rites to exorcise the fearful ghosts of the dead
from their homes. The myth of origin of this ancient festival was that it
had been instituted by Romulus to appease the spirit of Remus.
On those days, the Vestal Virgins of the temples would prepare sacred
mola salsa (salt cake) from the first ears of wheat of the season. The
custom involved the head of the household getting up at midnight, walking
around the house with bare feet, throwing out black beans over his
shoulder and repeating the incantation, "With these beans I redeem me and
mine" nine times. The household would then clash bronze pots while
repeating, "Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone!" nine times.
In the 8th century, as the popular observance of the Lemuria had faded,
the feast of the dead, or All Saints was shifted to November 1 by Pope
Gregory III (731-741). He consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St.
Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary, not at all by chance,
to coincide with the Celtic celebration of dead spirits at Samhain.
There are many theories dealing with the existence of ghosts. Some
people believe that ghosts are the residual energy left behind by an
emotionally strong person or event. More energy and electrical impulses
are expended during periods of high trauma or excitement, and that energy
can linger indefinitely. Modern ghost hunters equip themselves with
devises that locate and track energy sources. Electromagnetic detectors
pick up subtle fluctuations in electromagnetic fields and low strength
fields that appear to have no source at all.
Freud postulated that ghosts are a projection of our subconscious mind
manifested by our fear of death and the unknown. Ghosts might also be the
result of time anomalies, if time is nonlinear. An event that happened in
the past might be seen briefly in our time because of fluctuations in
Continue to Part VI - Werewolves
Origins | Witches |
About The Author
Wendy Brinker is an artist and writer in Columbia, SC.