Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spirit World: What is Ghost?

Not everyone who dies becomes a ghost.
Anyone who is ready to meet the moment of their end passes quickly. But not as the solid being we knew, loved and touched with our hands. We are more than our bodies. The matter dries and decays. But what is spirit leaves the vessel when the heart stops. I have witnessed it. I have felt the essence of my grandfather leave the room suddenly barren and cold. Empty. In that moment, the body was just… body. Not Grandpa. It is what I know to be true.
The rest is what I feel, what I believe, what I have pieced together through my practice and experiences. It is easy to accept death when you witness the exit of the spirit. Even then, I believe the spirit that leaves often splits, just as we can split ourselves into different functions; student, lover, spouse, parent, employee. I believe the spirit moves on, reincarnates and remains behind, becoming another part of the earth we live on. I believe in multiple truths.
Working with the spirit world relies a lot on trusting your gut, being quiet enough to listen to your intuition. It means you accept and work with the information you are receiving/sensing/seeing until it is proven otherwise. Then you reevaluate and adjust how you perceive and process. Nothing is either one thing or another.
I’ve had experiences with the supernatural world. I can’t explain them. They are what they are. These experiences used to create fear in me, and I allowed myself to be frightened and panicked by events that, years later when I was more open, I understood to be nothing more than worlds overlapping and attempted communications. There’s a difference between ghosts, or earthbound spirits, and haunted objects or haunted places. When I say ghost I don’t mean poltergeists or other unknown things that go bump in the night. I mean the echoes of people who were human once and alive in the living world with names and families.
I don’t see ghosts the way I see reality unfolding before me. It’s more like the flickering of form in the corner of my eye, in the corner of my brain. It’s the moment I lift my head because someone walked into the room- an instinctual sense of another presence- only to open my physical eyes and see the room is empty. It’s seeing movement in an empty space with clear and rested eyes. It’s the sense of sudden temperature change outside of the body at a fixed point. Once I moved through my fear of those moments, and learned to stand at the threshold, I began to get clearer impressions: male, female, approximate age, clothing silhouette, smells, time, etc.
A friend asked me recently how you know you’re interacting with spirits and not just going insane. If you’re not asking yourself that question, you shouldn’t be doing this work. For myself, I know where that line is and I know the difference. But this line, this unknowing is the place that is dangerous for others to follow. If you do not believe, you can fall into the rift between the two. If you do not believe that what you are experiencing is happening, you will give into the fear of it. You have to be willing to accepting, questioning and, at the same time, allow the story to remain unfinished and unended. Because the truth of it will change as your perception alters.
I have only seen Elsie, my Great-Grandmother, once since the moment I woke to find her sitting on the end of my bed the morning she died. I have only opened my eyes to see her once more, eating across from me at a Dumb Supper I hosted. She poured salt on her plate and I remembered that she put salt on her chicken wings when she visited us. It was one of her rituals that fascinated me as a child. I have heard her speaking but mostly I smell her. There was a scent of her skin like cool cucumber and baby powder. I smell it and I feel a hand touch my head. Then, I am awash with the emotion I attached to her. And she is with me.
The thing about ghost visits is that eventually, time doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to the mundane world. I can close my eyes and pull flesh-memory out of ether into breath. I can hear the sound of my Grandmother’s laughter at will. I can smell the scent of a dead friend’s skin. I can hold the hand of my Great-Grandmother and recall exactly the cool, paper-silk sensation of her flesh in mine. They become more than a remembering. It is a new experience. I become the meeting place of the living and spirit.
The ghosts that used to haunt me are comfort to me now. Because the ability I have learned with them transcends the spirit world. I can think of a friend from high school and I can recall how it felt to talk to them, how important they were, how small our world seemed then and how strong our bond was. I may not have that anymore, but it is a brick and foundation of who I am, that still swims in my own spirit body. For if flesh and bone can become ghost, surely so can time. Everyone who has ever touched me walks with me. Because of my work, I am never alone.

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