October 28, 2010

A Belief in Ghosts May be Good for your Health!

No, not Gail, but a sighting at Raynham Hall in
Norfolk, England.
From the time I sat on the beach - on a cold spring night - near the 18th hole at the Victoria Golf Course (when I was 17), I have always wanted to see a real, honest to God, ghost.  I never did see that world famous spirit that (as urban legend had it) haunted the grounds around the 18th hole of our golf course.  Word on the street was she (a.k.a. "The 18th Hole Ghost") would appear at night, during the spring, to couples warning them of the hazards of wedlock (evidently she was killed by her husband right before he threw himself into the ocean).

When I was 27, I moved into a haunted house. I was warned of the ghost that haunted all three stories in the old 1913 character home and was very excited with the hope of finally experiencing a haunting. It was a stunning old home divided into three apartments. I rented the attic (amazing slopped ceilings, huge kitchen, gorgeous pot belly wood burning stove), another woman rented the middle, and largest apartment, and a family (complete with two children) lived in the basement. From their stories, the children were always getting into trouble for turning on the TV early in the morning.....when they were still sleeping in their beds.

The famously haunted Craigdarroch
Castle in Victoria.
Once I had moved in, I learned about Gail, the 6 year old spirit that haunted all three floors. Gail happened onto the house after she died with her family in a tragic car crash on the street. From what I understood, from then on, she would play pranks on the unsuspecting tenants. From turning on electrical appliances to showing up in the corner of one's eye....she was around and I definitely felt her (of course, it could have been in my head).

The defining moment, for me, occurred early one morning around 3am as I was talking with a friend in the living room (I was young and had lotsa energy). All of a sudden, the blast of the TV jolted us from our red wine coma and there was no turning it off until it turned off by itself. After that, the lights would go on and off, and I felt a sense of dread I hadn't experienced before (although it could totally have been all in my head). It was completely creepy. It was time to move. I had had enough of the haunted house experience. By the time I was packing, the happenings just picked up the pace like Gail was pissed off I was leaving the house.

Chinatown in Victoria. A very haunted
Fan Tan Alley. It also boasts fabulous
chopping! (I mean shopping)
Since then, I have felt a few moments where I didn't feel alone, but nothing like Gail.  I have taken the Haunted Tours of Victoria and heard many stories of the murders, hangings, and decapitations that occurred during the early years. The Maritime Museum (located in Bastion Square) was once the place of hangings. Bill Begbie (the Hanging Judge as he was known) is now believed to haunt the museum. Chain gangs marched from the jail through the alley ways and today, they their chains are still heard. Employees at the Empress Hotel hear footsteps and voices in the attic...when there is no one up there.

A very spooky picture of Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria.
Stories of Satanism, sacrifice, and ghostly sightings
make up some of the most interesting Victorian folklore.
From Beacon Hill Park to Roger's Chocolates on Government Street to China Town, Victoria offers many spooky stories to those who have the balls to take the tour. The Ross Bay Cemetery has to be my favorite place to visit (especially around midnight). Stories of satanists, sacrifices, candles lighting up by themselves, and residents walking among the headstones fill the heads of those who have lived in the city long enough to hear the stories.

So why is a belief in ghosts good for your health?  Spiritual health is an important part of health (as is social, emotional, intellectual, and physical health) and can be defined as a belief in something bigger than yourself. Those that report a belief in the bigger picture, no matter what the belief or origin, also demonstrate stronger immune system function, less chronic stress, lower rates of depression and a high quality of life. 

A belief in something related to life after death (i.e. ghosts) almost acts as a suit of armour when one goes through the crappy times in life. Our belief system helps us cope and provides us with a sense of understanding as to why these things are happening.  Conversely, if one believes in nothingness, a void, or randomness, they may may more of a challenge recovering from those harder times.

Now, I'm not saying you should believe in ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot, the fourth dimension, or anything else. I'm just saying one shouldn't overlook the power of belief. Meanwhile, Halloween is less than 4 days away and I'm going to do everything I can to scare the living crap out of myself.

My first experience with the supernatural.
My cute little sister is on the right.
-Halloween 197(something)


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