Who or what is the entity known as ‘I’? The whole composite of mind and body? Or just the persistent voice in ‘my’ head that tries to deal with the rest? And how do ‘my’ deep-sleep dreams fit into the definition you prefer? Thinkers down the ages have wrestled with the topic and supernaturalists have formulated conflicting explanations, leading to revolution and war. And now some new science will fuel the flames of the debate. There seems to be brain activity after ‘death’ as defined by accepted medical practice.
Does this persistent brain activity have any ‘purpose’? Is the owner ‘conscious’ of it? That is, what is it for, if anything? Or is it like the decapitated chicken that keeps on running? Or a turbine spinning after shut-down?
23 thoughts on “That’s the spirit – or is it?”
Another significant question that is yet to be answered is if some people have brain activity over the course of their lives.
You mean at all, at all, at all? 😉
I mean exactly that, Janus. I had to work through hundreds of papers a week and I sometimes wonder how some are even capable of breathing.
Well they keep on breathing because the medulla oblongata is still functioning! The cerebellum might well be a bit dodgy tho!
Sorry about that !
I suspect that any that have ‘voices in the head’ are to be avoided like the plague, definitely load for bear!
It does not surprise me that brain activity does not cease at clinical death. I don’t think we will ever understand such matters until we too die. I am quite sure that some people for their own reasons stay close to the earth after death and others move on out of reach to us. Some of us can reach them but most not, unfortunately the whole is hideously clouded by charlatans exploiting human grief.
Like faith, you either believe it or not and no amount of talking about it ever persuades people of the opposite opinion. One’s own personal experience totally dominates one’s opinion.
Bizarrely one of the reasons I like the USA is that I do NOT see things here! Never been here before that is obvious. Some places I refuse to go, Cornwall and South Devon are seriously bad news for me. It can be extremely disconcerting to intrude on scenes hundreds of years old at a drop of a hat completely on an involuntary basis! People with you current time start to think you are mighty peculiar.
Perhaps that brain activity after death are those that are not ready for whatever reason to depart that body and others of course, can’t wait to go!
Glad to report, nothing ever manifests itself in my greenhouse! That would make me give up gardening!! But then greenhouse are for the young to flourish and the ‘had its’ are culled and cast into outer darkness!
CO: Some people are more sensitive than others. Some have peculiar reactions to places — for some reason, they can take in far more of the place than they’d care to. That, and some places are simply very thick atmospherically. There is a growing amount of scientific evidence that memories can actually be inherited.
England, more the West County — and especially coastal regions — do tend to be thick in terms of atmosphere. At times this is very pleasant — at others, overwhelming. I understand what you say perfectly. My sense of direction is infamous — infamously atrocious. Despite this, I knew Sydney instinctively. I didn’t need to look at a map. I wanted to go somewhere and I just walked there. The only times I was ever lost were those times I went against my intuition. Compare this to, say, Adelaide where I managed to get hopelessly lost despite it being built on a grid pattern.
Christopher, many people get that deja vue feeling or instinctively know a place. As you say a sensitivity to atmosphere. It goes on to actually seeing things for some. It makes one think seriously of reincarnation, and why do some remember but some are wiped clean so to speak? I’ve often wondered if time actually telescopes to and fro.
It is reckoned we only use a fraction of the processing power of the brain, so what was the other bit for? Why did it bother to develop at all? All sorts of imponderables.
Ancient people identified the spirits of places and personified them as divine beings. Was this their response to those ‘atmospheres’, I wonder?
CO: Energy usually never dissipates entirely. People are nothing but energy and the actions we take, the lives we lead are filled with energy. Some people possess a certain energy — you know when they’re in a room because they just fill it up with their personality. Most confirmed hauntings are residual — that is, playbacks of past events. There’s no way to interact with it — it just happens.
Time is an arbitrary creation. It doesn’t exist, at least not in the linear sense.
Janus: I think they were trying to understand the world. Countless things that are now attributed to the forces of nature were seen as imponderable — unfathomable. They were given divine status because that’s the only way people at that time could understand it.
As an ex estate agent, it is amazing to observe how different people react to the same building. Most houses are actually bought in the hall. Some people enter the front door and instantly decide whether they like the house or not, even though it’s identical to all the other halls that they’ve seen in all the other houses on the same estate.
CT, I think the ancients also believed in hierarchy – accepting that just as some people are ‘boss’, so some natural phenomena command their respect and obedience. Hence the gods of nature.
CT, your last comments are so full of philosophical conclusions I can hardly breathe! But it would be churlish to challenge them all! 🙂
James, the Vikings oop ere believe in the spirits of houses, as you have witnessed among Brits.
My nephew freaked my brother out completely when at about 3 years of age he started talking about his ‘other life’. Over the the course of the next months, he described a flat he owned in Edinburgh… along with many other details – including his name. The ‘memories’ ‘faded’ by the time he was about 4. My brother wouldn’t give me any details to check… he didn’t want to know,
I’ve had more than one or two disturbing experiences. Of course, I may well have been temporarily insane! But when other people, noted for having their feet firmly planted on Planet Earth, state that something extremely weird is going on without knowing about my experiences – then I really have to wonder….
As far as I’m concerned ‘there are more things in heaven and earth’…
Janus: They were extremely vulnerable. They didn’t have the ability to engage in massive infrastructure projects like we do today. If they made too many mistakes, if they built foolishly or didn’t pay the proper respects to the world around them they’d be crushed. Standing alone in absolute isolation reminds one of just how vulnerable we are.
James Leck’s comment re houses reminds me of an incident in the 70. We had to move from Memphis to Atlanta for work. I stayed in Memphis to sell the house and dashed over to Atlanta. to view already lined up houses. The realtor picked me up with a list of properties to view. As is custom in the USA, the real estate agent shows the houses, not the current resident/owner. We saw 2-3 without anything to remark and then got to this house, nice property, well kept, good garden and neighbourhood.
We parked up and then it hit me like a rock in the head.
Waves of black energy, misery, sadness engulfing us emanating from the house. I didn’t get out of the car, just said, No, I don’t want to view this property. Lets move on, like NOW! The realtor drove off in silence to the next house, parked up and turned and said to me.
How did you know?
The owner committed suicide there not long ago and the widow is selling up.
I didn’t, but could feel the despair.
Shall we say, he was very quiet the rest of the day!
I have lived in three properties shared with unquiet spirits from previous times and have managed to propitiate the ‘previous residents’ to at least make the properties livable. All three were large ancient licensed premises. fortunately the boy was pretty unflappable as in one place the manifestation shared his bedroom, used to flap and crash his wardrobe cupboard doors and flick the lights on and off in the middle of the night! Would have had most people run screaming or having the place exorcised. Actually ancient druidical rites settle that one down. I used to collect ritual plants from an ancient stone circle and burn them in the fireplace.. never understood how I knew what to do though! Seriously weird
Evidently that part of the property had been a medieval abattoir in the past.. Downstairs under his bedroom was part of the restaurant. The source of the trouble was a chimney breast. I used to do anything not to use table 7 against the wall. Whoever sat there always had a row and an unhappy time. Sometimes people insisted and one could hardly tell them it was cursed, could one?
So spirit of dead cows?
Did the burn someone in that fireplace?
Did they hang them from the smoking bars?
Something happened but never revealed.
i think that my best property story is that of the Old cock in Droitwich. I took a lease from Marstons. It was a very large place, a bit like the tardis, started just as double fronted at the street and got bigger and bigger as it went back, wrapping itself round and behind the neighbouring properties.7 bar seating areas, a good sized restaurant and an upstairs function room. Plus accommodation. Very busy place right in town and full on participant in the Civil War with the church opposite having been desecrated and partially destroyed. I had the church main window in my living room upstairs. The function room had been an Assize Court and had had hanging Judge Jeffries sitting there. We were on the heritage trail and had to make the place available for parties to view all the relics we had. it had been completely wasted as a wet house but with such excellent facilities soon got it up and running as a food venue. With 16 full time staff I spent considerable time in my office, had to. It was upstairs just off the function room. Should have got the message when none of the dogs would go into the function room, just lurked in the office and peered through the door into the room. the office was over the central servery with 3/4 staff down below one it wasn’t too noticeable. But, come 3-5 in the afternoons when one was closed all hell let lose. Endless footsteps traversing the function room. At first I thought it was staff laying up etc. Then I blamed the endless creaking of the ancient floors on the central heating or electrics. So threw everyone out, turned off the heating and power and prowled the premises. Still happening. Then I blamed the salt mines under Droitwich which has caused the whole place to sink several feet. (Like about 5″!!, literally!) After a particularly busy period I finally lost my temper one afternoon.
Stomped into the function room and yelled and screamed my head off at the offending pacer.
Pointing out that I hadn’t hung the bugger, Jeffries had! That I had a living to earn and I had no objection to him being there but could he do it more quietly when I was doing my accounts! I positively raved for twenty minutes. He was a very accommodating ghost, he did behave far more reasonably and more quietly from 3-5! We co-existed quite happily after that!
Then, the little premises right next door, which we wrapped round turned into a coffee shop. They did some building works at the rear and unearthed a pair of rotting satin baby shoes from Tudor times from being immured. they were stupid enough to leave them unattended and got serious trouble. Poltergeist activity!
I shall never forget standing in there talking to them complaining of the thumps and bangs from their premises when they had locked up and gone home. How come ? etc etc. Standing by the counter having this conversation and a stack of small plates next to the coffee machine start flying around like Chinese Death stars!!! Customers running out the door and ancient mullioned windows being stove in merrily! I ran for it! Thought about it and decided it had to be the shoes. Went back and told them to put the shoes back where they found them and make good the walls with fresh plaster. They were very reluctant and liked their treasure trove, pointed out they weren’t going to have a business much longer with a repeat of that performance!! They finally did so and needless to say the poltergeist activity stopped dead.
They were never very friendly after that and used to give me funny sideways looks, I think they thought that I had caused it somehow, couldn’t face the prospect that they had desecrated a shrine.
Ain’t life grand?
You can quite see how people were accused of witchcraft.
I’m speechless! Confucius obviously meant you when he wished us interesting times!
Interesting Christina. My mother moved her out-door catering company into a restaurant when I was about 16. The front part had been built onto an old house, Victorian or Edwardian – and most of the living quarters upstairs were part of the original building. The staff used to say they could see a shape moving through the kitchens downstairs. Utensils would go missing, and they’d be found at the oddest places – or lost completely.
My bedroom upstairs was not part of the original building. It was down a long corridor which had an external window which looked into my room. There were three doors between my room and the rest of the living accommodation, which I kept locked… mainly so that I could stay out as late as I wanted to, creep in quietly and my parents wouldn’t know! I was regularly woken up by the sound of those doors being opened and footsteps walking down the corridor… then turning back and closing the doors behind them. It wasn’t my parents. To this day I swear that the old doctor who had lived in the house in the early 1900s was just checking up to make sure I was safe.
At another time I lived in a small village. The rear end of the house had been the stables for a coaching inn next door, to which it was still attached, and had been there since at least the mid-1600s.
I was due to move out in three days, and one night I had the most oppressive sense of evil and hatred, the lights glowed with a sickly green hue… remembering my Dennis Wheatley I began saying the 23rd Psalm over and over… and did not sleep thereafter. The next morning my next door neighbour’s husband knocked on the door. He was the most down-to-earth person one could ever wish to meet. When I invited him in he told me that he would never step foot in the house again, and insisted that I spent the next few days with them until I left the house. Whatever had been happening in my house had spilled over into theirs… needless to say, I took up the offer very willingly.
This one’s a bit unusual, because it’s all in the land of the living.
Years ago, my brother, who was a fisherman in Cornwall , met an Aussie girl and eventually moved to Portland, Victoria. He ended up as netmaker, designing and building trawls for the fishing fleet along the coast. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently part of the process of the final delivery of a new net is to put it aboard the boat, take it to sea and give it a couple of trial tows to make sure that it sets and fishes properly.
On my first visit social to Oz I went to stay with him and his family but at the time I arrived only his girlfriend and his five year old daughter were at home, as he was out on a net delivery trip. We sat and chatted for some hours, which is when I discovered the finer details of net delivery trips. When I asked how long each trial lasted I was told that if the net fished well from the start it could be just two or three hours but if it didn’t go well it could take a day or so to fine tune it correctly. Telling me this seemed to remind his girlfriend that it was approaching what they call “tea” time, so turning to her daughter, who by now was ensconced in front of the tv watching cartoons, she said “Go and ask your dad what time he’s going to be home” With the normal reluctance that small children shown on being separated from a film, she edged sideways out of the lounge door and disappeared. I was a bit puzzled and said nothing for a couple of minutes then said “How is she going to find that out if he’s out at sea?”
“Oh” came the reply, “She flies out to see him, they have always been able to do it”
Five minutes later the child is back in the lounge, announced that “Dad says he’ll be back in about two or three hours, Mum” and plonks herself down on the carpet in front of the telly again. A question from me about “How do you fly?” is answered with “I don’t know, I just do” and some suggestions of impatience that makes it clear that this uncle who talks with a strange accent is interrupting the most important thing, ie the cartoon.
A couple of hours later the child announces “Dads home” and we all get in the car and drive down to the harbour, where a large trawler is just coming alongside, with my brother standing on the deck.
Later, over a scotch or two I asked him about it. Seems that he just knew when she was there. “If it’s her bed time before I get back, she’ll fly out to say goodnight” was one of the phrases he used. To them it was no big deal, it was just something they did. As in Boadicea’s tale, his daughter grew out of it by the age of nine or ten.
Wow – so many tales! Thankyou to all contributors. I
‘m reminded of a joke one can place in any context or any business or academic scenario e.g. a lecturer is talking to his Professor and realising they are not addressing a wider issue, says “do your realise Professor that we are only using a third of our brain” and the Professor ponders for a moment and says ” well what are we doing with the other third?”
Curiouser and curiouser, eh?
My mother told me a couple of years before she died that her friend, the next door neighbour, had called and asked her to pop round right away because her husband, a retired vicar, was upstairs. She went and saw him saying goodbye to his wife, as he said, ‘properly this time’. He had died two days before.
I think we are all (potentially) aware of a lot more than is generally accepted Janus. As a young man I found the whole area fascinating and instead of just dismissing it all out of hand, I spent some time trying various things out to see whether there was anything “in” them or not. One of the things I tried was dowsing, not with rods that indicate by crossing over each other but with a substantial lump of hazel. Once someone had shown me how to “cock” the stick it was remarkably simple and exerted such force that one simply could not hold the rod steady. The odd thing was that of those people I persuaded to have a go at it, the vast majority could dowse, (probably 70/80%) once shown how. Even some of those who failed you could “start” by putting your hands on theirs while they attempted it and, having once done it they would be able to dowse on their own thereafter. The other amazing thing was how many people were too scared of it to even have a go. But I must confess that I don’t have a clue as to how or why it works.
James, watch this space…….. 🙂
I think most people are just plain frightened of any inexplicable happenings , deny them and do their best to block them subsequently.
I can feel them, hear them and see them but cannot communicate with them. Fortunately I have several friends who can. I do think the Celtic people are better facilitators of communication than the Anglo Saxon. It is far more commonplace in Wales whereas in England everyone immediately thinks ‘witchcraft’. It ain’t! As Bo said, they get the Denis Wheatley complex whereas in Wales they think it is normal to talk to dead relatives.