I think they do, and not just at Halloween, although we may be more likely to see them during that season when the veil between the worlds is thin.
Maybe we're simply more likely to dwell on ghosts and the spirits of our departed as fall, the dark side of the year, descends upon us, and the season's growth slows, browns, and finally, dies.
The most popular explanation of ghosts are the departed souls of people who left this life abruptly, and still don't understand that they are dead. Others believe ghosts are those who have left some important thing undone in their life, or having suffered some great injustice, are sticking around to do that last chore or correct that injustice.
My favorite theory evolves from physics. If you think back to high school science lessons, you will recall that energy cannot be destroyed, only converted to some other form. People are bundles of energy, so I ask you: what happens to that energy when a person dies?
If energy doesn't die with the human body, but is instead converted to something else…where does it go? And what does it look like?
There are as many theories as there are religions on earth, plus some that have nothing to do with a religious leaning. Those who believe in ghosts think that all or part of that energy remains on earth, albeit in a different form. Since I also believe in reincarnation, I not only accept the presence of ghostly energy, but also imagine a living pool of energy, blended spirits of human, plant and animal, circling throughout the cosmos, with new life syphoned from it constantly.
But, to get back to earth—the energy present in a person's home is the result of all the energetic beings within it. The people (and pets) who live in a certain home eventually imprint that structure with their energies. Have you ever walked into someone's house and immediately felt welcomed and happy? Believers would say the occupants' positive energies are part of the house. On the other hand, consider a home where there was a murder, a suicide, or some other violent episode—even a contentious divorce. That turbulent energy could cause a house to become haunted.
I confess, once a paranormal writer accepts the possibility of ghosts, so many scene possibilities arise (pun intended).
First encounters with a ghostly entity, even a friendly one, can be terrifying, as the main character in my book, Song of the Ancients, discovers, when the veil between the worlds is parted during a Samhain ritual on All Hallows' Eve:
The man in the circle knelt beside a mound of dirt, digging his hands deep, cupping the soft red earth in his palms as he stood and began to chant.
"Dust to dust,
The rocks in time dissolve
Into the oneness of the Universe.
I call forth the Ancient Ones
To join us and impart their wisdom."
He raised his arms in front of him and parted his fingers, allowing the soil to fall between them to the ground.
I watched as the soil began to swirl like a tiny dust devil in a powerful wind. Dozens of ghostly dust plumes formed around him, nearly filling the circle.
Again he raised his eyes to the dark sky, moving his arms in a sweeping motion, as if catching and gathering something. He yelled, to be heard above the noise of the swirling dust and sand:
"At this time the veil between the worlds thins.
The gates are thrown open.
I welcome the spirits who have gone before,
The Others who pass between the two worlds.
Ancestors of old, arise now!
Join the human bridge awaiting you!"
From the shadows cast by the flickering fire, I watched one of the dust devils separate from the others and spin toward me. Its outline changed. I stared at the top of the swirl, and two glowing eyes stared back. An arm formed, then a second, reaching toward me.
The air in the circle became unbearably hot. I wiped sweat out of my eyes, and was slammed with a vision of the person inside the dust, so clear it stopped my heart for one terrified beat. This can't be happening! The wraith bore the face of my mother, dead for three years.
I tried to get away, but me feet tangled with the woman on my left. The ghost grabbed for me, raking the back of my hand with her fingernails. I screamed, sucking my breath in ragged pants. She reached for my face with both hands, but I scrambled away from her outstretched arms.
The ghost stepped back, her eyes filled with sadness. Terror gripped my mind like a vise. I could think of nothing but escape. I flailed and kicked and crawled from the circle until I could stand, and run.
What do you think about ghosts, souls, energy and reincarnation? I would love to hear from you.