Ghosts and ghostilism. An essay from somone who doesn't believe but has experienced the effects.
May I add some neutral background case notes to help you understand the state of mind which I'm about to describe and my ongoing revalations.
Brought up a Catholic and with all of the associated mystery, faith and also shunning other occult things as being a Demonic or in deed Diabolic. Outward influence which you should reject at all costs. Fuck the devil. Well, except don't cos that means you're in league with him. I wouldn't. I bet he has a spiky whatnot.
Me. Accidentally enrolled in an unwitting, unplanned experiment in sleep deprivation. Ocsillating between dry eyed nose-bridged stabbing pain and the dull duvet feeling of being sonically stifled and having a pillow inserted inbetween the ears. And then the other extreme.
Sleep overindulgement. When total sleep does not come, trying to get there, to that sacred goal of rest and temporary oblivion.
But if it doesn't come? Lying corpse-like for hours as though the effigy of a martyr atop a granite coffin. Hoping to get to true sleep but prickly nerve tingling on that matress slab in a sleep-like torpor just to make the hours go by. Hands crossed- Oh hang on, that's a bit religious. Hands uncrossed.
Filtering in influences. Hell, you overthink things now but when you have nothing else occupying your attention, things crowd to prod and poke at your attention. That thing with that prick at work. Bills needing to be paid. Hassles from your ex. Concerns about your kids.
Background- stress, overdrive, dependency, hypersensitivity. Occupation.
OH GREAT it's WORK TIME. No great surprise as I've been checking the clock every 20 minutes for the last 5 hours. BLEARGH.
Kinda like this to not carry on.
So far I am rejecting mood levelling drugs- tried them twice, didn't like it. Left me zombified.
In my spare time, e.g. when I am on my own, I am in a state where I have a strange fascination for the almost-sleep zone where you are not truly asleep but hovering (hypnagogia) and not lucent dreaming (where you realise you are in the dream and can take control) but don't have the aspect of muscular paralysis so actions you see in your dream result in reciprocal real life twitches and hand snaps and wake-up jerks and snorts.
Am I normal?
That region between being awake and asleep. That Insomnia thing where you are trying to bully your brain into sleep but your mind just won't shut up. The annoyance when you look at the clock and go For Fuck's Sake, I have to be up in 4 hours. Occasionally - with bad luck - I skip proper sleep and go into Hypnagogia. Half awake, half nonsense. My eyes get to waft about with a kind of ghost-like swimmy levitation as I see the imaginary world about me. I'm swooping through everyday scenes of people going about their business. Sometimes I can even fly.
I can read a newspaper headline over the shoulder of a denizen of my semi-dreamworld which, presumably my own brain is generating. (funnily enough, never any adverts). I can see it through my own dream eyes, into my visual cortex, with my eyes closed while half asleep. It's possible to wander about random landscapes and cities and interact with people in kinda blurred 70s projector haze but suddenly it shifts into almost crystal clear focus. SHASHANG! Then dissapointingly a few seconds later it either blurs back or snaps me awake. Hey! I was enjoying that!
In this landscape there are people gossiping and I feel like I'm eavesdropping in a cafe and their chat is nonsense- but it is fascinating. About such random and unimportant subjects. Pretty much like earwigging at any speakeasy anywhere. The subjects of the chat are random and irrelevant. Still. None of them are saying Kill All Of The People. Kinda friendly.
Hallucination without being in the grip of a serious mental illness can be worrying, scary, but also compelling. It's also cheaper than drugs. I feel like a bit of a shit drug addict in that 'Don't stop me doing it, I'm enjoying it' and 'It's not doing anyone any harm' but then I do worry that it can be so compulsive that you find yourself in a situation when 'under the waves' you are scrolling through menu items on your imaginary phone in bed (while the actual phone is up on the shelf) but your thumb feels the texture of the screen and your hand imaginarily feels the weight of the phone as you do this in semi-sleep. And then you have a sleep apnoea event and jerk awake. And then there's the Exploding Head syndrome. Look it up.
Over-sleeping may also gives you a side effect of visual hallucinations in your peripheral vision during your waking hours. Purely based on pattern recognition. Every sodding thing is a Pokemon or a cat in my case. THAT table over there is a sleeping Arcanine. Oh no. it's not. Piss, it's a Weedle. Again. Oh no, an vacuum cleaner. Bollocks. Time to do the essential maintenance activities again.
When people explain how they've been haunted and heard mysterious noises at night- I'm so lucky. Me too, but the choice of my own wonky brain was to choose to pipe in birdsong. Tinnitus with a blessing. For those who wake up with a visual death's head phantom towering above them as a menacing apparition while locked solid and unable to move, sorry to make you jealous- I've had the same proximate and totally realistic feeling that you are frozen next to someone. It was my partner who was 100 miles away at the time. I was haunted by my love. Heard her do that little ripply snore, felt her phantom hand in mine giving a little unconcious squeeze of reassurance. And she was not at this point about to plough into the Atlantic aboard a doomed airliner and sending me her final thoughts and wishes. I haven't checked in the last 20 minutes but I think she's OK.
For me the idea of ghosts are tied up with religion. That's where I've got a disconnect. Oh, and science. Let everyone believe what they would like to but I have experienced 100% ghost-like activity in my own sensual penumbra while over/under slept. If your Auntie Winnie has appeared to you as a glowing orb then that's wonderful if it makes you happy and join the spiritualists. If you are haunted by a terrible apparition then take it from me, it's a psychosynthetic projection of your own fears while in a semi-sleep state and if you get the opportunity to undo your sleep paralysis, kick it into the nether regions.
I know a few words won't change your long-held beliefs but I'm just saying. I'm there. If you're experiencing the same things, you're not alone. It's not your aunty Millicent and certainly isn't Henry VIIIth. UNLESS they direct you to a bag of hidden gold.