Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Hunter's Guide to Monsters - Chapter Four

Do you sleep well at night, believing in a life after this? Is it hope, or fear, that makes us believe in an existence beyond? And once that dark comes to take us, will we be free to walk this world of the living, or trapped forever in the hereafter. Whatever comes next, tonight we'll be discussing . . . the 'GHOST':

Ghost /gōst/ n. 1. The spirit of a dead person imagined as wandering among or haunting living people. 2. Only a shadow or trace: Ghost of a chance. 3. (Cap.) A spiritual being: Holy Ghost. 4. T.V. An annoying secondary image. 5. Give up the ghost, a. To die. b. (of machinery) To break down completely. ♦v.t. 6. To work as a ghost writer for (someone).


4. Ghosts
  by Hunter Jeremiah

In all my years, one of the more unsettling creatures I've ever come across would have to be the ghost. The creatures themselves are not bothersome, most are not even dangerous, they tend to keep to themselves . . . However, that's what makes them so unnerving. Although some people - fools, in my opinion - claim that ghosts are demons, doubles and tricksters, it can't be denied that these creatures are the spirits of those past. I've seen men, women and children die, only to return as ghosts. Often pale, not entirely opaque, sometimes looking rotten and dead and others looking more alive than they ever did in their time. All of these spirits are more than just memories, they are the souls of the passed on, which tends to unsettle folk. But for me, even more disturbing are the dead that don't return as ghosts. I have to wonder what became of their spirit, but I'll never know. Not in this lifetime, anyway.
In any case, there are malevolent and harmful ghosts. If there weren't, then I wouldn't be telling you how to defend yourself from them. Like frozen mist, a strangled gasp, and broken voice, a scraping rasp, some ghosts will reach with deadly grasp - and seek to squeeze the life out of you as well.

The most important thing you need to know about ghosts is that they're dead people. It seems obvious, but don't lose sight of those two facts: They are dead, so they can't be killed; and they are people, so you need to treat them with the appropriate respect.
Ghosts are immaterial, and as such they have no definite form. However, that's not to say they are shapeless, ghosts will always look like some aspect of their original self. It could be their inner child, their ego, their ideal self, their corpse, their doubts, their inner demons or their dark side; a ghost can take any and all of these forms, and those experienced enough may shift between them at will.
Also, it is very much true that ghosts can walk through walls, and they can turn pale, transparent or invisible. However, it is believed that their opacity/physicality is not a wilful ability, but rather that a ghost's strength of self and willpower tends to be reliant upon their mental health. If a ghost is weak, confused, scared or sad, they can turn invisible and intangible, but when strong, determined, happy or angry not only will they be visible, but they can even affect the physical world, which is why it is a good idea to treat a ghost with respect; you can't kill them, but they may still be able to kill you.
It is not known what exactly their physical form constitutes. However, due to the prevalence of the term in popular media, Hunters have taken to calling ghost-matter "ectoplasm".

Ghosts often gain some abilities in their new form; as they are no longer bound by physical laws. They can affect their surroundings and move objects with their mind; many can disappear and reappear somewhere else in an instant; they may be able to see beyond walls, distance and time; some ghosts even have the power to possess the bodies of the living & although rare, in some cases ghosts have the been known to have the ability to use hexes and curses.

A ghost is created when a person dies, but is unable to leave the world of the living behind. When you or I have regrets, it can weigh heavily on us; but we have the strength to move through them. However, for the ineffable spirits of the dead, these weights are like anchors that hold them down. This is what many Hunters refer to as a ghost's Burden.
A Burden can be caused by many things, good or bad. Suicides that feels guilty for leaving their family to grieve; Children that were killed too soon; Lovers that never married; Artists that never finished their masterpiece; Sinners that never said sorry & many, many more. There are an infinite number of Ghost Stories and each with their own solution. It is the duty of a Hunter to aid these people in their transition from Here to There, often by listening to a ghost, discovering their Burden and resolving their unfinished business so they can finally move on, Unburdened.
Just as an anchor has a chain, a Burden will often have some form of tether, which restricts the movement of a ghost and binds them to an item, person or place which is known as a ghost's Haunt. Due to the individual and often metaphorical nature of a Haunt, a ghost's Haunt may not be strictly defined and many are not related to their Burden or Ghost Story at all, allowing ghosts to move freely.

However, not all ghosts are benevolent, and some have a much more malignant Burden. It is not unknown for criminals to return as vengeful spirits, whose "Burden" is that they didn't murder enough people to satisfy their bloodlust; some victims return with the "Burden" of wanting all to suffer as they have & even some madmen return "Burdened" with the need to discover a one-ended stick, or some other equally impossible or reprehensible task.
In these instances, when a Hunter cannot or will not Unburden a ghost, their only remaining solution is Exorcism.

Exorcism itself can be a simple task. However, this becomes complicated if a ghost does not want to be exorcised; and most don't, as the experience is not only painful and volatile, but it is believed that it can destroy a soul for good. Never exorcise a benevolent ghost, it is inhumane and undoubtedly a sin.

Protection
In the instance that you come across a less-than-friendly ghost, there are many ways you can keep yourself safe from their ghastly influence:
  • Do Your Homework − Before approaching any kind of Haunt, it is good to read up on its Ghost Story, so you won't be caught off guard.
  • Don't Go In There − Most ghosts are tethered to their haunt, if you know of a malevolent haunted item or place, stay beyond its reach and you'll be safe.
  • Sheathe Your Sword − You can't kill a ghost, so don't even try; if anything, a weapon will anger a ghost, making them stronger, so leave weapons at home.
  • Play Nicely − If you treat them like monster, they will act like monsters. Treat a ghost as though they're a normal, living person and they will often respond in kind.
  • Hocus Focus − You can protect yourself by keeping healthy and staying calm. it may seem silly, but singing a song to focus your mind can protect you.
  • You've Seen a Ghost − Don't freak out, scream or panic at the sight of a ghost, screaming might scare them and encourage them to attack.
  • Leave in Peace − If a ghost doesn't want to be unburdened and isn't causing any harm, then leave them be. Some ghosts prefer to deal with their Burdens alone.
  • If in Doubt; Talk it Out − Ghost are manifest spirits and emotions, if you're in trouble, negotiate with the deceased and try to calm them down.
  • Salt & Iron − The only weakness of a ghost is salt and iron. They cannot pass through iron, and they are weakened when they come into contact with salt.
Hunting
The most important thing to remember about ghosts is that they deserve respect, the same as the living. If they wish to pass on, then we should do our duty, talk to them and help them to solve their final duty. It is wrong to force a ghost to move on if they are not prepared to.
However, just like people, if a ghost commits a crime, injures, kills or disturbs others or in some way disturbs the natural order, then their rights are forfeit and we must punish them.

 s is that they are still people like us. These aren't the Dark Ages anymore, we don't kill monsters for being monsters. If your discover a werewolf is merely massacring livestock, scaring people or defacing property then you have no right to murder them. However, in the instance, of a werewolf turning in a public place; killing or attacking another person or stalking human prey, then the Hunt is on.

Find
Ghostly disturbances tend to be quite noticeable. As they're often committed in anger, there are often notable phantasms, such as unseen yelling, crying or screaming; reports of persons walking through walls or floating through the air; objects being flung around the room or operating of their own accord & transparent spectres of terrifying people. However, that doesn't mean that finding a ghost is simple. To begin with, if a Haunt is portable, or capable of moving like a train or a ship, then it won't be so easy to narrow down its location. More importantly, a Haunt can be as small as a coin or as big as a castle, and its range can cross counties, so you'll need to put your investigator's skills to the test to hunt down your ghost.
Before you get ahead of yourself, it is best to start by investigating the victim. If the victim survived their attack - or have returned as a ghost themselves - meet them at a safe location and speak to them about their experience. Your goal is acquiesce the ghosts abilities and identity. Violent ghosts tend not to be subtle, so this will be a wealth of information. If the victim has died, your goal will be to check their wounds for any unusual blunt force trauma, or perhaps even for ectoplasmic residue, which is the sign of a very powerful ghost.
Once you've gained all the information you can about the attacked, it's now a good idea to learn about the attacker. Although it might be easy to determine the ghost's position from this information alone, you must research your suspects before proceeding. It's good to check local libraries for newspapers and reports of grisly deaths or hauntings; visit local churches or even the town hall for records of births, marriages and deaths & it's good to ask around town for any unusual or recent deaths in the area. If you're lucky, from this information you may discover a ghost's Burden, and be able to despatch it without even stepping foot into their Haunt; but assuming that isn't the case, this will also provide you with information as to their weaknesses, attitudes, mental faculty and severity. Know Thine Enemy.
But, with all of this investigated, the final piece is all about location, location, location. Ghosts are bound to their Haunt, so you will almost certainly find them at the scene of their crime. But, that's not enough. Your goal is not just to find the perimeter of their Haunt, but also the focal point of their Haunt, the object, person, concept or thing which the ghost is bound to. The best option is to organize data of ghost sightings and find the very centre, but you can also discover this information from your victim and witness interrogations as well as suspect research.
Once you know the what, who & where of your ghost, the next step is the Hunt itself.

Capture
Some ghosts can be just a nuisance, be they poltergeists or troublesome spirits, they might be pulling pranks, harassing women or scaring townspeople. In these instances, it would be inhumane to banish them, they may just be restless. In these instances, your best option is to capture and bind them. To capture a ghost, You will Need:
"Song" - Incantation affects the psychic-state of a ghost as well as focusing your mind, so that you may actually touch a ghost. Many religious types use biblical verses or mantras, but I prefer poetry; The works of John Keats have proven most swift and effective. It's best to choose verses, lyrics or mantras which are relevant to your prey.
"Sword" - You need to protect yourself and keep the ghost at bay. You may do this with salt & soil (particularly graveyard dirt) as they bind with ectoplasm, seeping power from dangerous spirits. Also, iron is the only element which a ghost cannot pass through, use this to defend yourself. Some Hunters use iron armour or armoured vehicles. I use my sword when ghosts get too close, but that's not advisable, which is why I keep salt close at hand.
"Spirit Trap" - Some assembly may be required. A spirit trap is a container a Hunter uses to artificially bind a ghost, like a man-made 'Haunt'; you need to get the ghost inside of the trap, then close them. This can then be taken away from the haunting area.

There are several methods to creating a spirit trap, many magic-users craft their own using witchcraft and hocus pocus, but there are three methods I know of.
The Ghost Jar: Wash a large jar and its lid in sea water, leave it to dry. Place the cremated remains of the departed; a photograph or something equally precious in the jar. Place a candle in the jar, small enough to close the lid on it - adhere it to the base with melted wax, if need be - and light the candle. Place the jar within a sigil drawn on the floor for greater effect.
To Use, merely close the lid, snuff out the candle.
The Spirit Box: Find a box large enough to contain the ghost's Haunted Item; iron or iron alloy is preferable - safes are most desirable. Carve the departed's name on the inside of the box, several times so that it is written on each surface, including the lid. Fill the box with enough soil to cover the base (preferably from the departed's burial site). Acquire iron chains and an iron padlock. Place your ghost's Haunted Item inside of the box. For greater affect, place the box within a sigil.
To Use, close the lid, bind with the chain and lock the padlock to secure.
The Coffin Sack: Acquire a large, durable sack or bag - I prefer a cheap gym bag with a zipper. Inside of this bag, place a significant portion of the remains of the departed, bones preferable & any other significant items you can find. Fill the sack with three handfuls of salt and an equivalent amount of iron preferably shrapnel. For greater effect, draw upon the bag sigils and religious symbolism (preferably that of the departed's belief). Acquire a length of natural rope.
To Use, close the bag tight and bind up with rope to press the contents together.

There are other manners of creating a spirit trap, but I tend to prefer a good ghost jar, it's quick and easy. I just warn that the 'coffin sack' can be quite troublesome and doesn't always work.
Some other equipment you might want to consider carrying would be an EMF Detector, as ghosts do cause electro-magnetic disturbances, or some form of communication, be it ouija board or spirit radio, but I find them useless, as if a ghost is unseen and unheard without specialist equipment, it's not much worth hunting, but you can use them for non-violent spirits.
I tend not to use it, as it can be dangerous and expensive, but electricity is also known to disrupt ghosts, they can't easily pass through it and it can dissipate their ectoplasm, although it might seem odd if you have some form of taser or electric fence, can come in quite handy.

The goal is simple, you use song to weaken the ghost and calm your mind; you use your steel or salt to further weaken them and guide them into the trap, then you shut them inside of the trap. The trap itself, if properly made, should summon a ghost to you; if not, you should find their Haunted Item and wait for them there.
If there's any trouble, such as a ghost being too strong to capture with the tools you have at hand, you can try again, but it's prudent to either contact some form of supernatural authority or - in dire circumstances - attempt to remove the creature entirely via banishment.

Banish
You cannot kill a ghost, it is already dead, but a significant equivalent involves destroying a ghosts connections to this living realm. There are three methods for doing this at your disposal:
Breaking a ghost's Haunted item, and you may release it from its bonds to this world. Once the ethereal tether is broken, a ghost will drift away like a balloon with its string cut. However, this task is not always simple, especially if a ghost's Haunted Item is exceptionally strong, or dangerous like military equipment, or in rare circumstances if the Haunted Item is a person. Also as each item is different, although a baseball bat or knife might destroy a portrait or a music box, it may not be possible to "break" a Haunted Item. I've known of ghosts that Haunt lakes, graveyards & even reflections, making their destruction quite impossible.
Burial of a ghost's Haunted Item, especially in a graveyard will render them impotent. However, this is considered quite cruel, as this is essentially condeming them to an entire afterlife of solitary confinement; and thus, should only be used in extreme cases. Similarly, placing Haunted Items away from the populace in deserted buildings or deep in the ocean would provide the same effective, but nonetheless cruel, punishment.
Burning the remains of a deceased person's corpse, and it should burn them from this world. By unearthing their bones, salting them, pouring over them something flammable - I prefer kerosene and - then setting them alight. Some chant as they burn, but that's not necessary, you merely need to ensure that all of the remains - especially the bones - are either totally burnt or heavily charred. If a person has already been cremated, then scattering their ashes might work, but this does not always work, as not every ghost is particularly "attached" to their body.

If none of these serve to remove a ghost and you cannot capture it & it is impossible to unBurden it, then the only remaining option is to get some kind of magician to do the work for you. It may seem like deferring the problem and I highly warn against it, but their hocus pocus can literally tear a ghost from this existence, and render them annihilated, so it's a good idea to know one of their kind.

Final Notes
There are many methods of capturing, banishing & fighting ghosts, but I cannot say this enough they're people, just dead. Nine times out of ten, the ghosts I come across were regular people. Policemen, mothers, farmers, bankers and nurses; they just died and weren't ready to move on. In fact, I've even seen friends of mine return as lost spirits, with tasks left undone.
And although it might be unsettling to meet a disembodied soul, I consider it an honour and a privilege to allow them to take their next step in their existence. Every ghost has a Ghost Story worth listening to, and you should never forget that.

1 comment:

  1. "Don't Go In There - Most ghosts are tethered to their haunt, if you know of a malevolent haunted item or place, stay beyond its reach and you'll be safe."

    What I wouldn't give for a case where someone actually is sensible about staying away from a malevolent spirit. Most people aren't, though, because they are idiots or thrill-seekers.

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