Fifth Night

On the fifth night of Halloween
My true ghoul gave to me
Five pints of blood!
Four Slithering Snakes
Three black cats
Two skeletons
And a vampire bat in a cave

Our Fascination with The Supernatural

Remember that poster Fox Mulder kept in The X-Files? I have that behind my desk. It’s true that I want to believe there are ghosts and other creatures beyond our ken. I thrill to spooky stories of all sorts, but I’ve done enough research to realize most ghosties are coincidence, hypnogogia, hysteria, suggestion, electrical anomaly, or a manifestation of any number of other perfectly explainable phenomena.

Still, I keep looking.

Recently the search has led me to Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters, the story of the founding of the British and American branches of the Society for Psychical Research, dedicated to the scientific investigation of those things considered “supernatural”. While founded by scientists, I suspect open membership has caused the SPR to be overrun by dowsers and fortune-tellers, but I shouldn’t judge since I’m not sure. Perhaps I should join long enough to get a journal or two. In any case, the book is fascinating, and a great one for skeptics like myself, as the early SPR researchers took nothing at face value, and found only a very few cases worth deep investigation.

But enought about me. Let’s talk about ghosts.

The big link going around this season is Knight Shift’s Ten Best Ghost Photographs Ever Taken, and it’s a good list.

Want to get seriously creeped out? Turn off the lights and listen to some EVP. Electronic Voice Phenomena is said to catch the voices of the dead on tape. Shadowlands and Ghostpix both have good directories of this technological spookhunting method.

For the do-it-yourselfers, try ghost photography. I know I used to have a link on this, but now I can’t find it to save my life, so here are link-free instructions:

  1. Build a small, light-tight box that will hold large-format film.
  2. Make the room as dark as possible.
  3. Place a film sheet in the box, in its packaging. Be careful. You don’t want to affect the film–leave that for the dead.
  4. Place the box on a table, and have yourself a little seance in the dark with a few of your closest friends.
  5. Get the film developed.

Finally, if you just want a good yarn, Ask Metafilter provides two posts with dozens of folks describing their brushes with the supernatural.

Hope you’re not at home alone tonight.

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