The spontaneous manifestations which have occurred in all times, and the persistence of some spirits in giving ostensible evidence of their presence in certain localities, are the source of the belief in haunted places. The following spirit-answers were elicited by our questions on this subject.
1. Do spirits attach themselves to persons only, or do they also attach themselves to things?
“That depends upon their elevation. Certain spirits may attach themselves to terrestrial objects ; misers, for instance, who have hidden their hoards, and who are not sufficiently dematerialised, may still watch over and guard them.”
2. Are there any places for which errant spirits have a predilection ?
“Spirits who are no longer earth-bound go where they find those whom they love, for they are attracted rather by persons than by material things. Some of them may, for a time, retain a preference for certain places; but those who do so are spirits of inferior advancement.”
3. Since the attachment of spirits for localities is a sign of inferiority, is it also a proof that they are evil spirits ?
“Assuredly not; a spirit may be but little advanced, and yet not be a bad spirit; is it not so among men?”
4. Is there any foundation for the belief that spirits frequent ruins by preference?
“No; spirits go to such places, just as they go everywhere else; but the lugubrious aspect of certain places strikes the human imagination, and leads you to attribute, to the presence of spirits, what is often merely a natural effect. How often does fear turn the shadow of a tree into a phantom, or mistake the cry of an animal, or the murmuring of the wind, for the wail of a ghost! Spirits like the presence of men, and usually seek out inhabited places rather than solitary ones.”
– Nevertheless, knowing what we do of the diversity of character among spirits, may we not suppose that there are misanthropes among them, preferring solitude to society?
“Have I not already answered you on this point, by saying that spirits may seek out desolate places, as well as all other places? If some of them live alone, they do so because it pleases them, but this is no reason why spirits should necessarily prefer ruins; and, assuredly, there are many more spirits in cities and inhabited dwellings than in solitary places.”
5. Popular beliefs have generally a foundation of truth; what is the origin of the belief in haunted places?
“It has grown out of men’s instinctive belief in spirit manifestations, a belief that has prevailed in all ages of the world; but, as I said just now, the aspect of lugubrious places strikes the imagination, and men have naturally located, in such places, the beings whom they have regarded as supernatural. This superstitious belief is upheld by the fanciful imaginings of your poets, as well as by the nonsensical stories told to you in the nursery.”
6. Spirits who assemble together, have they any preferences in regard to days and hours of meeting?
“No; days and hours are measurements of time for the use of men, and for the needs of corporeal life; spirits have no need of any such measurements, and take very little heed of them.”
7. What is the origin of the idea that spirits come by preference at night?
“The impression produced on the imagination by darkness and silence. All such ideas are superstitions that a rational knowledge of Spiritism will destroy. It is the same with respect to the notion, held by some people, that certain days and hours are more propitious than others; the influence of midnight has no existence except in story-books.”
– If this be the case, how is it that many spirits announce their arrival and manifestations for midnight, or for certain pre-determined days, as Fridays, for example?
“Such spirits only trifle with your credulity. In the same way, there are spirits who declare themselves to be the devil, or give themselves some other diabolical or fantastic name. Show them that you are not to be taken in by them, and you will hear no more of such absurdities.”
8. Do spirits come back by preference to the burial-place of their body?
“The body was but a garment; they care no more for their fleshly envelope, in which they have had to suffer, than the prisoner cares for his chains. The memory of those they love is the only thing they value.”
– Are prayers offered up at their graves especially pleasing to them, and do they attract them more than prayers would do elsewhere?
“Prayer is an evocation which attracts a spirit, as you know. The more fervent and sincere the prayer, the greater the effect it produces; and therefore, the sight of a venerated tomb may serve to concentrate the thought of him who prays, while the interest attached to it, as to any other treasured relic, being a testimony of affection offered to the spirit, he is always attracted and touched thereby. But, in all such cases, it is the thought which acts on a spirit, and not any material objects; for these have less influence on the spirit who is prayed for than on the person who prays, and whose attention they serve to concentrate and intensify.”
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