Annalise and I had some very strange experiences this last week with what seemed to be a ghost or spirit. Strange enough to be worth documenting.
I should say before I go any further that as always I am hesitant to attach some kind of fixed meaning to terms like “ghost”. I really don’t know what the true nature of this entity was and I can only relate to it phenomenologically, that is, as something I found myself in some kind of engagement or relationship with.
I have to take it as what it presents itself as and put aside metaphysical questions. Otherwise I fear losing the thing itself in exchange for theories which are likely to represent only an approximation of the thing itself.
For the more sceptical reader, therefore, I am not implying or relying upon any particular metaphysical theory when I talk about ghosts or any other of the many odd subjects that I write about in this journal.
Now that this preamble is done…
The story begins with Annalise reporting to me that she feels like some ghost or being is around her, drawing on her strength. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. At the time I didn’t really know what to do, but she got rather sick.
As an aside we spent a few hours doing some big rune chanting and that dropped her sickness from a subjective rating of 9/10 sick vs. well to about 0.3/10 sick vs. well. Not a bad effort.
I find putting numbers on things is useful for tracking feedback in these kinds of circumstances. It can also develop into hypnotic states that let you modify the problem itself. When we observe our experience we tend to alter it, after all.
Around the same time I was beginning to experience progressively more troubling dreams, which really isn’t my idea of fun. At first each night was filled with frustrating and strange phantasms, but over the course of a few nights they became more oppressive.
As all this unfolded I began to feel very depressed. It was as though I had become vulnerable, my defences sapped, and my will and life with them. Both of us were rather miserable.
Then the climax of these events arrived. I found myself asleep, caught in a dream in which the environment continually transformed. As often happens in my dreams I am assigned some mysterious task which I cannot decipher.
Then I find myself tangled in the branches of a huge dead tree animated by a malevolent intelligence. All around me is a blasted night-time landscape. Really solid nightmarish stuff. The tree has any number of vines which lash about and seek to restrain or choke me.Then a great knife appears and floats towards me. I know that it has a malevolent intention of its own, that an invisible hand guides it. This isn’t good! I think to myself, struggling to escape.
Of course at about that time my unconscious helpfully dumps me out of my sleep. I find myself in bed and in the room is a hovering spectral Aboriginal woman. She is very angry at me and is shrouded in an eerie and decidedly unfriendly-looking host of shadows.
I know that there is a lot of terribly history in Australia so I am not particularly surprised that a local land or ancestor spirit might decide to take out some of that misery on me.
From what I understand it isn’t like all the spirits in Aboriginal mythologies are friendly in the first place, let
alone to marauding European invaders or their contemptuous descendents.
I also know that I know how to deal with this sort of situation. I can be up and summoning Thor very quickly,
bellowing and shrieking his name, and in particular signing the hammer, which usually works wonders.
(UPG alert: this is probably a modern practice, I don’t think it has much historical basis, though it works very
However in situations like this I don’t really want to leap from my bed roaring the varied violent epithets of the Thunder God. So instead I bargain with the interloping entity.
I explain that “we both know” that I could put on such a performance if I wanted to, and that it would hurt them big time. Then I suggest that we pretend that I’ve already done the whole thing, so that they can bugger off and I can go about my business (e.g. sleep).
This kind of bargaining seems surprisingly effective, and it certainly saves a lot of time and effort.
Ok, so its late, I’m in bed, there is a strange being in the room. As soon as I awake I feel it trying to force my eyes closed, trying to lull me back to sleep again. I can sense the dream with the tree and the knife is waiting for me and I really don’t want to find out what happens
So in addition to bargaining with this spirit I am signing the hammer in a very understated way with one hand. I explain that half of my ancestors were recent migrants (so their hands are clean of the atrocities inflicted by European invaders in Australia); and that while the other half probably were involved in some way at some point, I don’t exactly approve of white Australia’s shameful history.
By my logic, I explain, there isn’t much point attacking me. Not while there are so many folks in the country still actively trying to put the screws on both indigenous Australians and the spirits of their culture and land. I say that I think it would be much more advantageous if the spirit and I instead try to communicate.
Well with that the whole threatening vibe coming off this being goes away. It comes closer to me and I can no longer resit falling asleep at its command. I find myself in a hall or a forest (I’m not sure) and here the being appears as an Aboriginal woman.
She is trying to speak to me, to communicate, but there is a tremendous echo on her voice, as though she is on the far side of a great ravine, and I can’t make out the words.
I tell her this, and she comes closer and closer, still shouting, but although her voice becomes clearer I still can’t make out what she is saying. Then suddenly the dream ends.
Since that night I’ve recovered my emotional equilibrium and Annalise no longer has strange intuitions of being attacked either. No further hint of the spirit has been evident, so I really don’t understand what happened that caused the change.
Perhaps the spirit was satisfied that I was genuine in my outlook and went elsewhere to vent its rage? I really don’t know. Perhaps it just got bored of me, or perhaps I just didn’t have what it took to communicate successfully.
I know that in some circles it is not acceptable for non-Aboriginal Australians to talk about experiences with beings which seem to originate from Aboriginal spirituality.
For example right wing loonies just do not want to know about anything outside of their own narrow minds; whereas some left wing loonies (particularly the academically-minded) can’t see the difference between cultural appropriation and spontaneous (and in this case unasked for) experiences.
But I think Australian heathens should openly, if cautiously, acknowledge these kinds of experiences. We are here in this land, not Europe or anywhere else. Like it not we are going to have to come to grips with that – spiritually, practically and politically.
This land is forced to deal with us by our very presence – at some point the ørlög this generates has to mount into interaction, be it positive or negative. We are going to have to move with a lot of care and a lot of respect if we want to forge a positive relation with this land and its people.
I have a feeling that the forces of this land are a lot bigger than we heathens can probably begin to comprehend. With respect, Australia has an ancient power that I am not sure Europe and her children can match.
The heathens of old varied their religious beliefs and practices relative to the climate and geography in which they lived. This is already occurring here in Australia, but perhaps if we consciously embrace this attitude our spiritual practices will be – perhaps less formally true to ancestral heathen, but far more true psychologically.
There I go again with my talk of psychological reconstruction, which amounts to the conviction that spirituality is more than the forms in which it finds its home.
Mythology, culture, belief and practice are all doors into experience. These doors are not totally arbitrary and may even prove indispensable, but they are not enough by themselves.
If we mistake the door for the experience then we end up with empty dogma and dead religion. This is a big part of why faiths like Catholicism are on the decline in the Western world. Heathens would do well to forge a different path, and here in Australia we may find the very land itself teaching us (whether by stick or carrot I do not know).