For my third installment of this blogseries I have turned to my dear friend and hardened skeptic: Hannah. She’s the first to call bullshit on anything supernatural/ghostly; which makes it even funnier than her greatest fear comes in the form of a pale Japanese girl with long black hair covering her face, a fear I used and abused many times… I know, I’m bad. She shared her one and only spooky story with us just in time for halloween. So, torches at the ready, here we go.
THE BUTCHER ON THE LAWN.
Hannah: Okay, so I was 11 and at my primary school being in your last year meant getting to go on an adventure holiday in the Lake District. Now, as it is with kids there was of course a rumour about the grounds being haunted by a farmer or something who butchered his family. My friends and I decided that we would pull a prank on our fellow classmates and somehow project an image onto the lawn of a ghostly figure. This meant a sheet of projector plastic with a drawing of said figure on it and a torch – I doubt this would have worked but we were kids. We were going to post notes under people’s doors telling them to look out the window at a certain time and then scare them all but we decided time first do a test run. One of us was sat at the window with the sheet and the torch whilst myself and my other friend were stood somewhere in the middle of the room chatting. I looked over at the window and saw something on the lawn; a ghostly figure. We ran over and started exclaiming how great this prank was going to be, it looked so realistic but that’s when we realised that the torch wasn’t on, turned out it had no batteries in it. Yet, that figure was still moving across the lawn. It looked hooded, holding some kind of knife in one hand and what looked like a dead bird in the other. We all stared in silence for what must have only been a few seconds before we all jumped back from the window. That night we hardly slept and that week we hardly talked about anything else.
1. Do you believe in the paranormal- ghosts, spirits etc?
Hannah: I actually don’t really believe in ghosts, which seems ridiculous after that story I know.
2. Why to yes/no?
Hannah: I don’t know why, everything I’ve seen of ghosts from tv and such hasn’t proved much of anything so until I have some kind of scientific proof I think I’ll remain skeptical… (spectrecal
3. How would you explain what happened in your story?
Hannah: I don’t know how I would even explain it, maybe the place we stayed at was aware of the story and liked to perpetuate it or maybe someone was playing a prank on us. I guess both of those sound just as likely as a ghost hahaha
4. What do you think it means that these odd creepy things happen and everyone has a story or has heard of one?
Hannah: I think it means that a lot of things are yet to be explained in the world and until they are we get some great stories out of the unknown.
Me: Okay one more question. What were some of the things you all talked about as school kids after? Can you remember? Theories etc.
Hannah: We didn’t tell anyone else, we just kind of kept going over what had happened and did it actually happen. After a while the other two didn’t want to talk about it anymore, just wanted to forget about it tbh.
Me: So you were all like, legit scared? It wasn’t just a funny or weird thing? It properly creeped a few of you out?
Hannah: Yeah we were very freaked out, I began laughing it off after a day or so but the other two were terrified and I did still feel very creeped out and weird about it.
Me: And it just disappeared?
Hannah: It did! Just kind of moved across the lawn and disappeared into the outskirts of the little wood. I think the next night we tried to look out for it and saw a plastic bag in a tree and thought it was back again but obviously not haha.
With Hannah’s story, I think there are probably 3 possible explanations or theories to consider.
The first, and Dr Strand from The Black Tapes Podcast’s fave: ‘Apophenia‘ and by extension ‘confirmation bias‘. Simply put both of these theories describe the ‘you’re just seeing what you want to see’ phenomena. As a child if you have heard a story about a strange new place in which you happen to be staying, say there’s an old woman who haunts the bathroom or a little girl who haunts the garden, your active imagination that naturally has a less firmly set perception of reality can very easily fill in gaps to confirm a story that you have been told.
The second, is that we have two types of vision, one for bright light and another for dim light which is known as ‘Scotopic vision‘. Scotopic vision restricts the human eye’s ability to pick up high levels of spatial frequency; in other words, due to our eyes not being able to pick up the low level light waves in dim light objects can appear warped and again, like with apophenia, our mind, imagination and memories fill in what we cannot perceive.
But what about the paranormal explanation? There are many kinds of recorded hauntings, one of these is called a ‘residual haunting‘. This is where, like a reel of film that gotten stuck playing the same part of a movie over and over again, or a cd that keeps jumping back to the same part of a song, a traumatic event, such as a murder, broken heart, suicide, or mass murder. In science, it is generally accepted that energy, once created doesn’t just dissipate but transfer, into something new. So why can’t this apply to the energy we ourselves emit when something happens that evokes strong/intense emotions? Paranormal investigators would call this a ‘psychic impression‘. This impression results in the events that caused this kind of scarred energy to replay and repeat itself. This can come in many forms, sounds, feelings and visuals. Could that be the explanation behind the ghostly figure that Hannah saw on the lawn that night?
Whatever the reason, it’s certainly one of my favourite spooky stories. Made even better by the fact that my friend Hannah doesn’t believe in ghosts whatsoever.
Hope everyone had a suitably scary Halloween, enjoyed some ghost stories by torchlight and had a the chance to reflect on the year that has almost passed, to say goodbye to the parts of yourself and your life you wish to leave behind and look forward to the coming winter months.
Happy Halloween and Samhain all.