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People have always been both fascinated and afraid of the unknown. Paranormal stories date back to ancient times and found in many cultures. Whether we choose to believe or not in ghost there is no denying that we only have to look through the history to see a large range of paranormal encounters. The stories always involve the Paranormal occurrences; at times there are white apparitions, doomsayers, fortune tellers. These stories date as far back as the Hellenistic age and the Roman Empire.
The study of paranormal activity has a long and interesting history. Many ancient religions are based on paranormal study, while the metaphysics of many ancient cultures included pantheons of ghosts, demons, fairies, gods and other supernatural phenomenon.
In fact, among the earliest references of ghosts can be found in the Bible's Old Testament. A good example is in the First Book of Samuel (28:7), where King Saul consults the ghost of the dead priest and prophet, Samuel. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself was considered as a "Holy Ghost" when he rose up from the dead and appeared before his 12 disciples.
In ancient Greece, Homer's works, the Oddyssey and the Illiad held many references to Ghosts and Specters prophesying and giving advice to Greek heroes. In ancient Egypt, the Egyptians wrote the Book of the Dead, which catalogs Egyptian rituals on the proper way of taking care of the souls (or Khu) of the departed.
The Chinese philosopher, Mo Tzu (470-391 BC), is quoted as having said:"The way to find out whether anything exists or not is to depend on the testimony of the ears and eyes of the multitude. If some have heard it or some have seen it then we have to say it exists. If no one has heard it and no one has seen it then we have to say it does not exist. So, then, why not go to some village or some district and inquire? If from antiquity to the present, and since the beginning of man, there are men who have seen the bodies of ghosts and spirits and heard their voices, how can we say that they do not exist ? If none have heard them and none have seen them, then how can we say they do? But those who deny the existence of the spirits say: "Many in the world have heard and seen something of ghosts and spirits. Since they vary in testimony, who are to be accepted as really having heard and seen them?"
In Tibet, Buddhist monks wrote the Bardo Thodol as a way of helping the human soul reach Nirvana after death, and to prevent the process of rebirth. And finally, in Medieval Europe, there is the Malleus Maleficarum, a book written in the mid 1400's which offers
insights on how to detect and eliminate witches. Heinrich Kramer, the author of the manuscript, wrote it to refute skeptics who did not believe in the existence of Witches.
Given these examples, it's unreasonable to say that the study of paranormal activity is relatively new. In truth, it's been around since the dawn of civilization. The only difference is that paranormal investigators in the modern world must prove the existence of the supernatural by using the scientific method, and the presentation of evidence.
A celebrated account of a haunted house
, from the ancient classical world, is given by Pliny the Younger (c. (50 AD). Pliny describes, in a letter to a friend, how Athenodoros Cananite (c. 74 BC – 7 AD), a Stoic philosopher, decided to rent a large house in Athens, to investigate widespread rumors that it was haunted. Athenodoros staked out at the house that night, and, sure enough, a disheveled, aged spectre, bound at feet and hands with rattling chains, eventually appeared. The spirit then beckoned for Athenodoros to follow him; Athenodoros complied, but the ghost soon vanished. The philosopher marked the spot where the old man had disappeared, and, on the next day, advised the magistrates to dig there. The man's shackled bones were reportedly uncovered three years later. After a proper burial, the haunting's ceased.
The oldest recorded account of an encounter with a spirit in western mythology can be traced back to the appearance of the witch of endor in the Old Testament who was ordered by king Saul to summon the spirit of the prophet Samuel
The first poltergeist was recorded in 856 AD at a farmhouse on the banks of the River Rhine in Germany. The spirit tormented the family by throwing stones, banging on walls and making fires. Even when several priests armed with holy relics came to visit, it sent them packing with a hale of stones.
Sightings of spectral armies after key English Civil War battles were reported in contemporary sources, similar accounts also came from Gettysburg, The Somme and Gallipoli.
Aside from the need of scientific methodology, it's also important to remember that paranormal activity is a broad topic, and is not limited to the study of ghosts and apparitions. In many cases, demonology, elementals, flying saucers, psychic
phenomenon and even monster sightings (e.g. Loch Ness and Big Foot) can be classified as paranormal activity.
It's also important to remember that paranormal investigation takes on many forms. Most of the methodologies used in paranormal studies originated in the 19th and early 20th century. People like Edgar Cayce and Helena Blavatsky claimed to have used certain methods which allowed them to commune with higher beings and see into the future. Such claims ultimately sparked the spiritualist movement in America and Europe, and it is from these movements that many studies in paranormal activity originated.
Paranormal books that explained the existence of ghosts, spirits, doppelgangers, poltergeists and haunted houses became common throughout the time of the 19th century. A good example of this is a newspaper called, The Light, which offered articles on the subject of Ghosts and Spirit Photography. Another good example is Blavatsky's "The Secret Doctrine," which explains the nature of the soul and the origins of spiritual phenomenon.
Summoning or exorcising spirits - both ghosts and elementals - have been a very important part the Spiritualist movement at that time. Paranormal investigators as well as members of the Spiritualist movement tried to understand these types of phenomenon using a semi-scientific approach. Ultimately, their theories played a very important role in how people in the western world saw and regarded ghosts and other paranormal anomalies.
For example, theories on ectoplasm as well as the pervasive use of spirit photography were widely accepted theories in the Spiritualist movement at the time. Today, such theories are still quite popular and is widely used in modern Ghost Hunting Societies, and research groups.
The basic idea is that ghosts as well as certain elementals leave behind residual matter called ectoplasm. It is this substance which many paranormal investigators hope to understand and explain. The idea of ectoplasm is of the theories used by Spiritualists to prove the existence of ghosts via the scientific method. This approach would ultimately determine the path of the Spiritualist movements and paranormal investigation as a whole.
Moreover, theories on the existence of chakra energy as well as the aura have also been used to explain the existence of ghosts and supernatural phenomenon. Like ectoplasm, Spiritualists believed that they can study paranormal activity by observing and understanding the human aura as well as the chakra. They believed that telekinesis, precognition and telepathy can best be understood if they can somehow understand the energies which come from the human body whenever such phenomenon occurs.
This is the reason why so many paranormal investigators use devices which can detect energy disturbances. Even Spirit Photography is based on the idea of detecting ghosts and supernatural entities by using specialized cameras that can capture specific forms of light.
It's worth mentioning that in today's society, there are still plenty of people who are interested in paranormal activity. Indeed, a quick search on Google or Youtube offers
countless sites and videos of paranormal activity. People, like Zecharia Sitchin and David Icke, have significantly expanded the field of paranormal investigation, and have offered new insights into supernatural phenomenon, including ghosts.
Scientists, for example, have put forth theories on geothermal energy and abnormal energy waves in order to explain ghost sightings and other paranormal phenomenon. Such theories and observations can easily be found on the internet, so it's not hard to find materials on this topic if you're interested in further studies.
However, it is also true that the subject of paranormal activity is dismissed by most people as simple "New Age" nonsense. Sitchin's book, The Twelth Planet for example, is dismissed by most people as utter nonsense, even though many people also considered it to be a serious work of scholarship. Moreover, in modern Academia, many consider investigation into Paranormal Activity as an eccentric and useless waste of time.
Despite the dismissive attitude of today's modern world however, the interest in paranormal is not likely to go away. Ghosts, aliens and unusual phenomenon have fascinated human beings throughout history. And whether or not people will be able to explain such phenomenon, paranormal activity is not likely to disappear in the foreseeable future, and people everywhere will continue to be fascinated by them.