Do you believe in ghosts? In the realm of paranormal phenomena, ghosts and hauntings are some of the oldest reported encounters. Going all the way back to Homer’s Odyssey, people have reported strange encounters with the restless dead.
Like UFOs and extraterrestrials — my paranormal phenomena of choice — the implications of the existence of ghosts and spirits are vast, raising questions about not just the nature of objective reality, but also raising questions about faith and spirituality. Leslie Kean, who has also written about UFOs for The New York Times, has studied the subject of death, ghosts and the potential afterlife quite extensively in her book and Netflix documentary series Surviving Death.
Kean compiles some of the more compelling cases in modern ghost research, starting with cases of “near death experiences,” otherworldly glimpses of the afterlife or the sensation of your spirit leaving your body, and end-of-life visions,” hallucinations of previously deceased loved ones experienced by the terminally ill, and getting progressively weirder. The documentary spends a lot of time with Spiritualist mediums, who are members of the Spiritualist National Union, a UK church whose adherents claim to be able to communicate with, and even channel, the dead. While it is easy to dismiss mediums as obvious examples of hoaxery, Kean also looked at the case of a Los Angeles homeowner who claimed to be able to communicate via Polaroid photography with the ghost occupying his home. Some of the most compelling (and bizarre) cases Kean investigates are those of children who report past-life experiences, born, inexplicably, with the memories and knowledge of verifiable deceased persons.
Overwhelmingly, Surviving Death is more a story about how the living come to make sense of death and dying. For many, communing with spirits is part of the grieving process, whether it is a legitimate manifestation of a spiritual entity or not. As a veteran, and a trans person, I carry my own “ghosts” with me, although none of them have as yet made their presence known.
I’m not sure where I stand on the ghost question, but, like the UFO phenomena, it is something weird with just enough evidence, albeit perhaps a bit too circumstantial, to make me want to dig a little deeper. I mean, if the U.S. Government can take psychic phenomena like remote viewing seriously, who’s to say “ghosts,” while maybe not the disembodied souls of the dead, aren’t some aspect of another phenomena we just don’t understand yet?
Colorado has its own weird history of ghosts, from the famous Stanley Hotel to a haunted home in Black Forest. We’ve certainly got our own spooky places to investigate. If you’ve ever seen a ghost I’d love to speak to you. The truth, as they say, is out there.
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