I love this picture. I don’t know much about the history of it, but I do know that this man is still sitting in his favorite chair long after he died. One has to wonder, is this “really” him? Is this a fragment of him, an imprint, and his soul–what we might call the “real” Lord C.–is with God or in the process of recycling itself? When I look at ghost pictures or investigated “haunted” locales, the question often arises: is this the authentic soul of the deceased that I am sensing, or is just a vestigial imprint from a life long over?
I think I have an answer to that. It used to really bother me and my paranormal sisters that a child’s soul could be trapped in a former mental institution, or that souls could be stuck. I don’t think, after much contemplation and research, that a real identity is stuck in a building. Peter Novak has an interesting theory about what happens at death (The Lost Secret of Death), and it’s what I have come to believe: the spirit and soul split at the moment the physical body perishes. The “spirit” is what becomes the ghost, the endless repeater of mundane actions during life; the “soul” is what we have come to understand as the eternal essence of the personality who has passed. It is the soul that reincarnates, that persists in other realms of consciousness.
I believe Novak also argues that the soul has no memory, which allows it to continue its existence unfettered by the past. The spirit is pure memory and little else, doomed to repeat past actions in an endless loop. The ghost pictures that we capture or the audio we pick up would, in this scenario, be fragments of the spirit and not the soul. The only problem with that is that we often pick up intelligent responses to questions on audio, which begs the question: is the “soul” communicating with us? Can the soul actually interact with us? The repeating spirit does not interact, simply manifests. One would expect that the spirit would be caught on audio replaying or re-enacting a past trauma or tragedy; but what I am still trying to understand is what “haunts,” or creates the sensation that a place is alive.
Recently I wandered into a huge corridor in an old, abandoned hospital and knew immediately that it was haunted. My partner in crime knew the same thing, at the same time–what were we sensing? The spirits of the patients, repeating and rehashing their lost lives, or the soul paying a visit to a place it is drawn to? The soul, by Novak’s account, should not have any desire to return to its old life, since it can’t even remember what happened there. That means, then, that spirits are not just endless and lifeless loops of information, but can and do communicate with those who make the effort. We are not, then, communicating with the essence and the soul of the person who once lived and/or died in a particular place, but we have contacted a fragment of sorts, a splinter personality that has taken on some kind of life.
This is all very confusing for the avid investigator. One also has to consider the existence of demons and dark spirits who love to impersonate the living or once living–and then there is the issue of those who project themselves onto and into places while still alive. It goes back to the same dilemma: we don’t know who or what we are contacting. That should bring solace, or perhaps . . . just the opposite.
—Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.