- Religion and Philosophy»
- Paranormal Beliefs & Experiences
Are Ghosts Real?
Have you seen a ghost?
"All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall. There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind, I got so excited I couldn't restrain myself! I flipped on the light and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long-dead mistress of the house."
-Regis Philbin on his encounter with a ghost at the Whaley House
What Goes Bump in the Night
I lived at the El Canto house until I was five. A young age, but still I recall nights spent awake, watching the same black shadow pass my window or hearing the wood floors just outside my door creek beneath invisible feet. I would later learn that my parents were “weirded out” by the house too and that my father had conveniently forgotten to tell my mom the previous owners had committed suicide in the bedroom my oldest sister called home. “Well that explains the lady I saw!” She had exclaimed, detailing the womanly figure that floated with no legs, the one she sometimes saw hovering in her doorway.
Weather you believe in ghosts or not, they are a part of our popular culture.
Millions of dollars are spent trying to prove and disprove the very existence of spirits, just take a look at some popularly rated shows such as, Ghost Adventures, or My Ghost Story! Regardless of how much ‘proof’ is published, many will remain skeptical while others can’t afford the luxury of not believing.
Take Brandon* for example, a man with a high-power job and a large, masculine frame. It’s unexpected to learn he’s spent a lifetime trying not to see ghosts. Preferring to keep quiet about his abilities, he rarely speaks with friends or family about it. He tells me that the less he talks about it, the less often the ghosts come knocking.
No one is terrified of Casper, it's the ‘evil spirits’ we fear. Brandon has encountered spirits of all demeanors. One night, Brandon was asleep in his bed when he suddenly awoke to the sensation someone was watching him. To his surprise, there was! He describes her as a beautiful woman, her face very close to his own. In a sleepy haze he reached out to touch her when suddenly all of her features morphed into a hideous mess. The woman screamed out before vanishing into thin air.
Brandon admits that no matter how many times something like this happens to you, your heart never stops racing. Even when by age five, he’d already seen something with long black fingers living in his closet. This same creature, which he refers to as one of the evil spirits, would regularly open his closet so the toys would spill out, getting Brandon in trouble.
Brandon tells me that ghosts are everywhere; sometimes he can’t tell the living from the dead. Routinely traveling for work, Brandon has noticed some states are more 'haunted' than others. He also tells me that he doesn't like driving alone at night, "you see someone up ahead in the road..." He chuckles a little, "sounds crazy, but for me... I'm thinking, real or spirit?"
I ask him if the house he shares with his adorable pit-bull is haunted, a modern two bedroom with all the 'man-cave' emanates: large TV, surfboard stashed in a corner, large comfy couch. He laughs, telling me he was careful not to buy a place with bad energy, although you’re never 100% safe because spirits travel, passing through all areas at some point.
The Whaley House
Known as the most haunted building in America, The Whaley House sits in Old Town San Diego. Growing up in San Diego, I have heard stories all my life about the house- the whoosh of air people feel going up the steps or the sounds of a long-dead dog barking. Every time I go, there are too many people to feel much of anything other than hot, cramped, and "oops, excuse me." Although those that have worked at the house turned museum for many years claim spooky things do happen- just usually after hours, when all the living have gone home.
The Whaley's are not the only ghosts said to live in the house. "Yankee Jim" was hung from the back of a wagon in 1852, for larceny and possible murder, on the same grounds the Whaley House would soon stand. Some say it's his boots they hear, still marching up and down the hallways. Lilly Whaley, the youngest daughter, is said to have mentioned "Yankee Jim" haunting the house when she lived here too.
Who Built the Most Haunted House in America?
In 1857 the Whaley family finally moved into the grand home they had spent years building, the home they were prepared to spend a lifetime in. Yet by the end of 1858, they were already moving out. Leaving behind what would become known as the most haunted house in America.
An extremely wealthy business man, Thomas Whaley was a shop owner, business man. and often the envy of town- that is until tragedy struck in 1858. Five months apart, both his son, Thomas, and daughter, Anna, died. Only two months after Anna's death, a fire damaged a whole part of the house. Ravaged by tragedy, he and his wife moved away.
Around town, Mr. Whaley was known to be a rough man. Many were indebted to him, unable to pay him back and therefore regularly under his harass. This made him very unpopular in certain times of his life.
Whaley House in 1800's
Whaley House Today
Curtains Come Alive
Also in San Diego, only twenty minutes away from Old Town, lives Stephanie.
At the same time her stepmother was dying of cancer, Stephanie was tossing and turning in her bed, hardly able to sleep. Curled up on one side, she opened her eyes expecting to see the curtains stiff against the wall. Instead, they were blowing up in waves, the silhouette of a woman who looked very much like her stepmother in the midst of the fabric.
This isn’t the only experience Stephanie has had with ghostly-encounters, although she rarely sees any entities. Instead she claims to feel them. “They don’t have bodies anymore.” She tells me, “they are energy and it’s their energy I can feel. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad.” She advises me not to let her calm demeanor overshadow her fear; no one is exempt from fearing the unknown. Just as Brandon warned me, no matter how many times you see or feel something, the fright-factor doesn’t dissipate.
As humans we are constantly searching for answers, who are we? Where do we come from? Where do we go when this is over? While the Bible and science help us to understand a lot, there are still empty holes. As we scurry to find our answers, ghosts remain a mysterious and highly scrutinized entity.
Perhaps we are never meant to know...
*Name changed changed to protect privacy.
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