”…in the nineteenth century, investigators of poltergeist phenomena observed that children are usually present, and one of them often seems to be the ‘focus’ of the disturbance…”
In early August 2016 police were summoned to a property on Stonelaw Road, Rutherglen, Scotland. A series of bizarre disturbances had been reported, and the highly experienced officers were soon to be confronted with a profoundly perplexing situation. Doors opened and closed by their own accord, clothing was hurled through the air by unseen hands, and the pet dog mysteriously levitated on top of a seven foot hedge. Naturally the events caused extreme distress for both tenants and police officers alike. A more detailed account of this case can be found on The Metro website, 13th August 2016: Police Witness Paranormal Events.
Such phenomena are commonly grouped under the term of ‘Poltergeist’ activity (which comes from the German for ‘noisy ghost’). These mischievous spirits are said to be responsible for a myriad of weird occurrences such as: moving furniture, creating disturbing sounds, switching on and off electrical appliances, and even physically attacking people and animals. Acclaimed Occult author Colin Wilson identified these actions to be the ‘basic characteristics of the poltergeist’ and noted that they always form the same ‘pattern’. Indeed, perhaps what makes them so disturbing is that, unlike traditional ghosts, they do not assume any particular shape or form. Poltergeists can merely be described as ‘forces’ or mysterious ‘energies’ which happen to linger around particular people – normally young children or adolescents.
Tobe Hooper’s cult movie ‘Poltergeist’ (1982) propelled this troublesome type of spirit into the popular contemporary mainstream. The young daughter in the movie was very much the focus of the paranormal activity which occurred in and around the family home. However, just six years prior to the movie’s release, the story of the Enfield Poltergeist in the UK had caused an international sensation. Peggy Hodgson and her children were plagued by such activity at their home in the north eastern borough of London. Strange forces shifted heavy furniture, slammed doors and a police officer even observed an arm chair move unaided across the floor. Perhaps one of the most disturbing images of poltergeist phenomena is that of Janet Hodgson (Peggy’s daughter) being thrown violently through the air in her bedroom. The case was examined thoroughly be a variety of agencies and, although Peggy’s daughters admitted playing tricks at times, much of the phenomena cannot be conclusively explained.
Since antiquity, the poltergeist has made an appearance in the folklore of virtually every culture throughout the world. Stone throwing was usually the first indication that such a spirit was present, and it could even occur during daylight hours. The curious tale of The Drummer of Tedworth in 1661 is one of the oldest documented accounts of this phenomenon in the British Isles. The musician had his instrument confiscated and held at a local house which caused a variety of chaotic incidents to take place. It was only when the drum was returned to its owner and he was promptly instructed to leave town that the disturbances ceased.
Indeed, there are countless eye-witness accounts and tales of poltergeist activity in the media every year. This raises the question of what actually causes such phenomena to occur – surely there must be a logical explanation behind all of this? We live in an age of unbridled technological advancement, and queer notions of malevolent spirits seem somewhat medieval and outdated to say the least. Perhaps poltergeist activity can be explained as an aspect of what Colin Wilson termed ‘Faculty X’? This is the term he gave to the largely latent range of exceptional faculties human beings may possess – but of which we are presently unaware. Could it be that poltergeist activity is actually ‘created’ in some way by excessive energy which has built up in and around the sphere of certain individuals?
Like many free-thinkers, Wilson believed that the overwhelming majority of human beings are unaware of the massive potential which exists within their psyches. The state of the contemporary adult could be easily compared to a toddler sitting at the controls of a jumbo jet. We have yet to fully appreciate just how powerful the human species can become and how limited our current state of consciousness actually is. If poltergeist activity really is created by individual persons, it could be grouped in with other phenomena such as telekinesis (the capability to move physical objects using the mind), premonitions (predicting future events in dreams and visions) and thaumaturgy (the ability to heal others at will).
David Fox is a professional free-lance writer and entertainer who lives in the UK. Visit his website to find out more about him: David Fox Magic.
I believe poltergeist activity is indeed ghostly activity. The modern world seems readier to accept a ‘latent powers of the human mind’ theory for everything it can’t explain by normal, rational means. We find it difficult to accept that the spirit world does in fact exist.
Hello Jim. Thank you for your comment. Very interesting and I certainly keep an open mind about this. Colin Wilson’s theory of ‘Faculty X’ is intriguing. He approached the subject of ghosts initially as a sceptic but later became convinced that they existed. He collected so many eye witness accounts amd information that it changed his point of view! Best wishes for 2018.
I’m delighted to see that Colin eventually saw the light! LOL!
Personally I don’t believe that discarnate spirits are in fact the source of all alleged ghostly activities. But I believe beyond any reasonable doubt that these spirits exist: and that they are responsible for those hauntings where the apparitions seem aware of our existence and are able to interact with us.
It’s not a one size fits all phenomena. You’re ignoring some of the other wonders being reported. Psi doesn’t explain demonic sightings included in a majority of poltergeist cases. It doesn’t explain the foul smell, wall writings in foreign languages, water puddles, I could go on. There’s more to the phenomena that are not being analyzed. If the root cause of adolescent children(girls) or stressful people, we’d have an awful lot of other cases. There’s something more here, something the average researcher is not looking at. I’m all for analyzing old data, and most of this data is old. But there’s new data to. New tests, new searchers needing to be done.
Hello Keith. Thank you for your feedback and this is very true. There are many aspects of poltergeist phenomena. It would be very interesting indeed to address these on the future.
I agree with Keith. There are several possible — and likely — explanations for apparent ghostly apparitions, in general. But addressing poltergeist activity specifically: yes, there does seem to be something there related to girls around the age of puberty. But as Keith points out: if it’s purely some sort of psi on their part, then why isn’t there poltergeist activity in every household on the planet where teenage girls are residing? Also, some sort of unknown mental powers on the part of incarnate persons might cause something to move mysteriously: but it is less likely to cause smells, puddles, or the materialization of objects.
I’ll stick with the theory that poltergeists are indeed discarnate spirits with a mischievous or malicious bent.
Fascinating stuff Jim and I really appreciate your comments. It’s a question that always troubles me. Ultimately, like anything else, we must base our judgement on experience and, in the case of the metaphysical, quite often our intuition comes into play. Also, the notion of human beings ‘causing’ such effects perhaps helps to overcome a sense of powerlessness we feel when faced with a being (sometimes mischievous) from another dimension. Very interesting to hear both of your thoughts on this. Thank you.