What a ‘spirit’-ual experience

Published 7:04 am Friday, September 16, 2016

Recently I had the pleasure of being invited along on a ghost hunt in Ponemah Cemetery.

Now, I don’t believe in ghosts and I’ve never had anything remotely resembling a paranormal experience, but I was eager to go. Several years ago, for another paper, I went on a ghost hunt and, while waiting quietly in an upstairs room of a supposedly haunted house, I found myself wishing there could be ghosts.

It’s silly, of course, wishing there could be ghosts — it’s sort of like wishing there could be unicorns — but nevertheless, imagining a world wherein mysterious and otherworldly apparitions wreak havoc has a near-universal appeal. In Ireland there are fairies, in Iceland, gnomes, in the Muslim belief there are djinn and throughout West Africa, traditional beliefs in trickster spirits and each of these things live in the shadows, just out of sight, affecting chaos in an otherwise rational world.

Humans, it seems, need to blame someone when things go awry, even if that someone is impossible. Heck, who wouldn’t want to believe in that? In fact, a poll from a few years ago suggests about 42 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, and a 2014 story in the Atlantic reports that ghost belief doesn’t correlate with religious faith. For example, in Japan, a highly secular culture, belief in ghosts is still high.

The universal belief in ghosts is likely due to a few things, including the existence of unexplained phenomena, uneasiness about death and a desire to carry on in some fashion. Indeed, the Atlantic’s story includes some strange photos that do seem to show some sort of otherworldly image. What’s easier to believe — some complicated science about optics and lenses that most of us don’t understand and can’t be definitively proven, or the existence of a long-dead boy remaining in a home years later?

Personally, I don’t see how or why ghosts should exist. What would they eat? It seems that something ghost-like should require some sort of energy. And if they did exist, wouldn’t they get bored, forever trying to get our attention, just wandering around places? And wouldn’t most ghosts be old and infirm and unable to do much of anything? And wouldn’t ghosts just get frustrated as they watch the living make the same mistakes, over and over? Frankly, I’d feel bad for the ghosts.

Never mind all that though, I like a good scare and feeling creepy. I look forward to haunted houses come Halloween and, heck, maybe I’m wrong about ghosts. Watching a wraith slowly emerge from behind a monument in Ponemah would be fun and, to be honest, it would have made the story a bit more interesting.

It also helped that the Global Paranormal Society, Bogalusa’s own ghost hunting team, is made up of personable, interesting people, and a walk through a graveyard at night with them seemed like a good use of my evening.

And so it is that I eagerly set about hunting ghosts with the pros.

We didn’t see anything — or, I didn’t, anyway — but I had a great time. In fact, I’m sure I’d do it again. I doubt the outcome for me would be different but, even so, I hope I’m wrong.

Jesse Wright is the managing editor for The Daily News. You can email him at jesse.wright@bogalusadailynews.com or call him at 985-732-2565, ext. 301.