Samhain – The Ghosts walk among us once more

Samhain – The Ghosts walk among us once more

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I remember when the ghosts seemed to be everywhere.

Back in my childhood, before hand-held bright screens and cars, when the world was slower, riding my bike into town, past the old fire station next to the park. Old, dark, and empty. I used to pretend a vampire lived in the darkness. Which was ok during the day, but walking past at night was more problematic. It would watch me through the broken glass. I was sure it knew where I lived. Just above the clouds, it might follow me home. Then, at night, scratching at my windows. Behind the curtains. A shadow.

Across the road was the cemetery. It seems strange that a cemetery bordered the high street. The wooden archway and steps lead up to the church. And just inside, a stone angel. Reaching up to the heavens. In the dark, her eyes, yes, I’m sure that they used to follow me as I rode by. I never stopped to find out. Nor if her hands had moved away from the heavens, and now reached out for me, her mouth filled with teeth.

There were ghosts back then. Derelict houses stood boarded up, waiting to be demolished both in and outside of town. The old fire station was only one of them. There seemed to be so many and, in truth, the boarded doors and windows did nothing more than act as an invitation to us restless children. Creeping inside, shoes crunching shattered glass that broke the silence of the damp-smelling interior. Slowly walking up creaking old wooden stairs, and opening doors to floorless rooms – beams over open drops through ceilings. Light straining to expose hidden corners and cupboards. The attics were the best. Sometimes there were closed boxes, and sometimes old newspapers, brittle with age, told of the lives once lived by those whose feet once stepped upon carpet, and whose lips sipped tea. Did the chairs move by themselves? Did those old doors close on ancient hinges that creaked in the darkness? And when those long-dead feet fell upon the shattered glass, did they fall silently. Did they float just inches from the floors? I think they may have.

At the top of the town stood an old hotel. It was once named after the Highwayman upon whose Heath the town had expanded. The Highwayman Inn had its own ghosts. Later to change its name to the Birch Hotel in an effort to help dispel its haunted reputation. And further out of town, a crossroads. There, in the ground the remains of the Gibbet that had taken the lives of criminals. Jacob was one of the last to die there. The wood was taken away, but some found its way to the old pub along the road. The Royal Oak, locally known as Jacob’s Post. Yes, the stories were told there too, as the wood above the fireplace whispered it’s memories into the brick and mortar, and the ears of those who could hear, to tell its stories.

Then there were the open spaces. Chalky and wet, sometimes filled with household waste. The odd fridge, door open, inviting. I can still hear my mother’s voice warning me how a young boy once hid inside one, the door closing. He wasn’t found for months. I never went close to those fridges.

Now, when I occasionally return to my old home town, the place I grew up, I see the new houses that were built on that waste ground. New footpaths lay across the old chalk upon which a bomb fell during WW2, and upon which I played as a child. Others live there now, and as they walk along those new paths, eyes fixed on bright screens, barely acknowledging each other, except to pause and move out of the way. Others begin to walk with them, as the veil thins, and the ghosts walk among us once more.

12 responses to “Samhain – The Ghosts walk among us once more”

  1. i have had 2 experiences this fall with the other side….i live in a 105 year old building that used to be a high class hotel in its day. so far i have seen 1 apparition and smelled another which i promptly asked to leave immediately because it smelled of things my bad memories are made of. idk if my perception has heightened or the veil is just thinner this year but it has been a very long time since i have experienced anything like this. hope you have a blessed samhain! )O(

  2. I love Samhain as I feel it brings me closer to departed loved ones. Wonderful evocative storytelling Damh. It took me right back to childhood. My grandparents’ house was haunted by a woman who frequently tried to pull my granny out of bed! Nobody believed her at the time until my Dad saw her looking out of one of the front windows at him. My sister and I were often followed around the house; footsteps behind us but no-one there. We weren’t allowed to stay overnight there on our own, an aunty always had to share a bed with us. Years later when my grandparents had both died I would decorate the house for Christmas while my aunt and uncle were out at work. I heard chairs being moved about on the stone-tiled floor of the kitchen one day. I thought my uncle had come back early, but the house was empty. I often think about the woman in the house and wonder if she is still there. I loved being in that house and have many fond memories of family times spent there, especially at this time of year and Christmas too.

  3. I saw a ghost of a lady in red back in the Forty,s when we lived in a 500 year old House in Banbury, So yes I KNOW that the ghosts take a solid appearence when they wish

  4. The Ghosties are alive, well, and living at my house. For some reason, it is very easy for our “Non-Corporeal” family members to move about. Some of those family members are the Ancestors of the land. Since I have bound myself to that land,they do love to visit. Not being rude, I always speak to them. They are my Ancestors.

  5. Many years ago I bought a cottage in a small village. It was quite old, 1840s, and the first time I stepped inside it was as if it wrapped itself around me and my very young son. The atmosphere was so warm and welcoming. About six months after moving in I was in the lounge and was aware of movement behind me in the long narrow kitchen diner. Jamie was at school, I was supposed to be alone, but I remembered that the back door was open – it was a glorious summer day. Feeling a little nervous I stepped into the the inner hall and peered into the kitchen. A streak of black fur shot past me and headed up the stairs. A cat! I felt relief and ran up after it. The creature was nowhere to be found. Many times I saw that cat and eventually just acknowledged him and got on with whatever I was doing. Four years later I sold my lovely cottage and moved to another part of the village with Jamie and my new husband. One day while shopping I bumped into the guy who bought the cottage. We exchanged pleasantries and then he said “You never told us about the ghost.” “I laughed and said “The cat was always welcome” He looked puzzled, “No, not the cat. The old lady in the inner hall.”

  6. Who are the ghosts, those ancestors who seem still full of life or the ones ‘with eyes fixed on bright screens’ who are letting life pass them by. I love the technology which enables me to keep in touch with family living far away and with the thoughts of the wise, but I try make sure it doesn’t steal my time.

  7. My house is about 180 years old. It has at least one benign resident who no longer dwells entirely on the material plane! They smoke(d) a pipe. I can tell when they’re having a look-around/visit, because I can smell it! Pipe-tobacco has an extremely distinctive smell, and is very rare nowadays, as fashions have changed over the years. My pipe-smoking acquaintance loves to inspect our handiwork when we’re doing maintenance/DIY. That’s normally what brings them out. They also love to stand or sit in the bay window in the living-room. I think in life, that must have been a favourite spot to look out and see the world go by. It feels a very nice presence, and I like to think that the inspection of our handiwork is because they were happy in this house and loved it, and are taking an interest in what future generations are doing with it! I know a few other people on our row have found clay pipes when renovating these buildings. I haven’t found one in mine, but it would be fantastic if I could. It would be amazing to hold the very pipe I keep smelling, nearly 2 centuries after it was last used. What an amazing link to the past!

    More recently, I was once adopted by a black ca. It was a few years ago now. He was very particular and headstrong, and wasnt exactly a “people person”, or whatever the cat equivalent is – although I could get away with anything with him. For me, he’d be a sociable kitten. We had a bond and an understanding. He wasnt very vocal, but the only times he ever meowed were to me. Unfortunately, age caught up with him as it does much sooner for our furry family members, and the time came for him to move on. To this day, I still occasionally see a flash of black from the corner of my eye as i trip over him and swear at him in a manner I know he’d wholeheartedly approve of…

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