Tag Archives: poltergeist

Terror made him write: ‘Ghosts, Apparitions, and Poltergeists’, by Brian Righi – review

Ghosts, Apparitions and Poltergeists: An Exploration of the Supernatural Through HistoryGhosts, Apparitions, and Poltergeists: An Exploration of the Supernatural Through History by Brian Righi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A ghost is really unfinished business. It was, it is, and it will be. The existence and belief of supernatural entities are universal in all human societies as regards the sense and sentiments common to all mankind. From the Far Eastern shore of Japan to the end of the Aegean Sea across a great divide of time, the forefathers of humankind revered, feared, or cherished the souls of the departed regardless of cultural and racial differences. Such human tendency of holding onto supernatural existence is, therefore, not an antediluvian pagan belief to be scorned or debased as a superstitious practice of the misty past but a natural phenomenon validated by historical eyewitnesses as presented in Ghosts, Apparitions, and Poltergeistsby Brian Righi.

Although the title of the book may mislead you straightforwardly to the world of ghostbusters and mediums, it is anything but a sensational book about that sort of thing aimed for the jolt of psychedelic horror. Righi is both an erudite and refreshing writer well conversant with the ancient histories of the world and the related academic subjects, who treats the ghostly subjects of the book enlighteningly and entertainingly with the sap of a fresh-eyed academic, gripping the mind of the learned reader without losing the attention throughout the pages. He references Plato, Pliny the Younger, and the other ancient notables to corroborate the existence of supernatural strangers still roaming their once earthly abodes either not knowing they are dead or refusing to emigrate into the beyond for undying attachment to their life on earth. The method gives his stance on supernatural phenomena power of reality vested in the authenticity of truth.

I find this book very much in accordance with my perspective on the souls of the dead, as it also corresponds to the Catholic belief in which the souls of the dead are officially revered in the fashion of feast days of saints and daily prayer for their deliverance from purgatory to heaven and asking them to pray for us to God. However, there is no prerequisite for reading this book as long as you want to know about why some of our once fellow-citizens of the terrestrial world are roaming about and living among us, seriously.

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‘The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: From Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations’ by Claude Lecouteux – review

The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: From Pagan Folklore to Modern ManifestationsThe Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: From Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations by Claude Lecouteux

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone who is keen on the stories of supernatural phenomena based on true events devoid of media-generated sensationalism, testimonies of mediums (or psychics), or narratives of parapsychologists, I was immediately hooked on this interesting book by Claude Lecouteux, a former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne. What distinguishes this book from other books of similar subject matters is its etymological, historical, and sociological explanations on poltergeist and other supernatural incidents as recorded in annals, newspapers, or folktales.

The word “Poltergeist” meaning a noisy spirit in German, first appeared in the dictionary by Erasmus Alberus in 1540, an era marked by turbulent religious conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants, including Reformation. In fact, Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, was an avid believer in devils’ manifestations in the form of poltergeist and availed it of a potent means of proselytism of his new religious founding. Also, from 1550 to around 1700, many books on spirits were written mainly by scholars, men of letters, and theologians, including King James I of England (1566-1625), who wrote Demonology in form of a Dialogue, a treaty on spirits of devilish nature.

As aforesaid, etymologically, the word “poltergeist” denotes a primarily acoustic phenomenon that has also been termed as “knocking spirits,” which Lecourteux uses as a neutral term without academic snobbery. He categorizes the activities of poltergeists as follows: (1) Casting stones/filth; (2) Vague noises; (3) Banging of windows; (4) Mischievous/Malicious acts; (5) Broken dishes; (6) Destruction of houses by fire; and/or (7) Attacks on specific individuals. He further illustrates the historical accounts of poltergeist incidents in the cases of a certain Greek philosopher named Athenodorous as narrated by Pliny the Younger (62-113) in his letter to his friend Sura in which a story of a specter of an old man who appeared to the philosopher to show him where he had been buried and a man named Gilles Bolacre who rented a haunted house in Tours that disturbed him every night with knocking sounds and went to court to have the lease successfully rescinded on the ground of the landowner’s violation of caveat emptor.

Lecourteux also proffers a reasonably plausible connection between some of the supernatural phenomena and human synchronicity, which includes telesthetic power. He provides the reader with the concept of “Place Memories,” a telesthetic phenomenon in which the cries of the victims and various noises accompanying the violent scenes are imprinted on the walls or at the places where acts of violence were committed as if upon a magnetic tape recording. He elucidates that inanimate objects could be endowed with human properties by means of the telestehtic faculties of the subconscious that have the ability to find and interpret such uncommon vibrations and emanations, just as mnemonic faculties have the ability to discern the latent vibrations of thought.

In light of the above, Lecourteux addresses our human nature that has hardly evolved at all in the domain of supernatural despite the dominant influence of Enlightenment rationality in the recent historical and social landscapes. That is, science has failed to deprecate ancient beliefs in spiritual entities variable in accordance with religious and cultural climates throughout our human civilizations. Also, the veritable records of supernatural incidents betoken different mental attitudes of the times. After all, our ancient predilection for anything supernatural have survived and will survive change of time and political, social ethos because it is linked to man’s fundamental questions about a realm inhibited by the dead and spirits.

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