Ghost Encounters: Finding Phantoms and Understanding Them

by Cassandra Eason
Blandford, London, 1997, 207 pp., paperback, $12.95.

Reviewed by Douglas Chapman

Have you wondered how to encounter a ghost? Cassandra Eason has come up with some helpful tips in a British book that could up your chances—if apparitions exist.

For example, if one goes on ghost tours, one should move a little off the beaten path to find likelier haunts. The spookily lit areas just don’t cut it. Old but well-cared-for places which have kept some of their past nature are better.

Exploiting place-associated wraiths can be a risky market asset—especially when the specters go silent on those who wish to exploit residences’ haunting reputations.

If there is a spirit in your house, kindly treatment of it is often indicated. Eason recommends putting flowers and maybe a crystal in the corner most dwelt in by the presence. If the shade is scary, asking it nicely to stop bothering you often does the trick.

If you have to summon help, avoid amateur help. Sometimes that makes things worse. A fellow from Texas recounts how dabbling in the mysteries made the ghost of one old lady more unnerving. When his sister was hypnotized—just for fun—she went into a state in which she thought she was being chased by a red-headed woman with a knife.

Later, the “old woman” rearranged the furniture. The result was practical and aesthetic but upsetting.

Various types of ghosts are discussed in Eason’s book, including ghosts below stairs, ghostly grandparents, ghosts and ley lines on the Isle of Wight, urban ghosts, and ghosts to avoid.

Locales habituated by such spirits are well covered, such as the Tower of London, with its plethora of victims of violence, and the Bank of England.

The Brooklands Race Circuit, in Weybridge, hosts the ghost of Percy “Pearly” Lambert, who has shown up on the spot of track where he met his demise over eight decades ago. During World War II, the RAF used the track, so the ghosts of airmen and ground personnel have also been encountered.

The Bembridge ferry has a cheapskate ghost. An 1840s anecdote describes how Mr. Samuel Rhino rode the ferry sitting next to a man in black who disappeared en route. The ferryman had seen him before, and talked of how he never paid: “I don’t think he is an honest man.”

The “customer” has since scared others.

The book quotes the official exorcist for the Diocese of York, the Reverend Tom Willis, who speaks of ghosts as imprints not entities: “Sometimes where there has been an accident there is a mental telerecording by either someone involved in an accident or a witness, and that stays in the spot and is seen by people periodically.” Sometimes the periods are times of day or of year.

Eason feels ghosts are more than this, and that the interaction people have sometimes had with them is meaningful. She believes “that phantoms hold themselves in locations for a variety of reasons, some good, some redundant.”

Loved ones, even beyond the grave, should know when to let go, she thinks. “We are the ghosts of tomorrow.”

Eason also describes “Ways of Feeling Close to Family Members Who Have Died.” Like in much of the book, New Age attitudes figure heavily here. She warns against ouija boards, or seances by any other than reputable mediums. In Appendix 2, she offers some organizations she deems reliable.

That appendix also offers Ancient Sites, Museums and Historical Buildings; Ghost Tours; Psychic Study Societies and Journals; and Helpful Materials.

Though the book trades more on intuition and spirituality than many forteans will want, there is enough material on Britain’s best haunts for it to please most.

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