Not Your Typical Ghost Story
By Matthew Joyce
I entered the scene as I was falling over in the tall grass. I landed in a heap and it took me a moment to right myself. As soon as I sat up I was staring right at it. I was eye to eye with a king cobra, hood out and coiled in strike position. It was only a few feet away and very unhappy with my blundering into its way. I froze in place, hoping to appear less of a threat.
But the cobra didn’t see me that way. It lunged straight at my face. Instinctively I flinched away. But it made no difference. The cobra’s fangs pierced me anyway, shooting burning venom into my neck. Flame shot through my head and shoulder as I recoiled from the strike. I tried to stand, but couldn’t. The poisonous pain was blinding. I tumbled backward into the grass, gasping for breath.
I feared the snake would strike again, but it didn’t. Not that it made any difference. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t stand. Within moments I felt paralyzed—with fear or from the venom I couldn’t tell. I wanted to call for help, but I couldn’t cry out. The jungle trees on the periphery of my vision faded and soon all I could see were the blades of grass in front of my face. Soon that too faded to black.
I don’t know how long I lay there, but after a while I felt just fine. The pain had stopped. I could move. I looked about and could see the trees again. So I stood up and looked around. I was on the trail between my village and the river where we did our washing. I was OK.
That is right up until I looked down and saw my body. Or the body of the person I used to be. She was short in stature and dark-skinned with long black hair. She wore the colorful flowing garments popular in her village, which I somehow knew was a remote hamlet in British-ruled India.
Up to this point in my past life exploration things were proceeding along expected lines, but what happened next made me realize this was not a “normal” regression. Normally when I access another person’s consciousness I have access to that person’s thoughts and feelings and I can move forward and backward through their lifetime, visiting the most important moments to understand and resolve the emotional issues for that person. But that isn’t what happened this time. Instead I realized that I was “along for the ride” as the young Indian woman I was accessing went through a fascinating process of discovery.
Seeing her body I (she) panicked and ran back up the trail toward my village. I’d scarcely started running when I encountered two of my female friends from the village, who were also headed to the river. I shouted at them for help but they completely ignored me. I started to get mad at them, but my anger was cut short by their screams as they noticed my body in the grass. They shook my body and I didn’t feel a thing. Then they rolled me over to reveal my darkening skin around the snakebite. One friend grabbed a branch and began beating the grass to drive away the snake. The other ran back to the village to get some men.
Unnoticed, I watched as the men carried my body back to the village. I followed along. When my husband and my family learned what happened, they wept. I felt surprisingly little emotion as I watched, but in seeing their tears it finally sank in that I was dead.
I watched my funeral with detachment and didn’t care much about leaving my parents or my husband. They had forced me into an arranged marriage that I didn’t want, and my husband had not treated me well. But I did feel a great sense of love and worry for my nine year old son. It was he to whom my attention seemed to be focused. I felt an overwhelming sense of loss at not being able to raise him to manhood. I knew he needed me and I needed to take care of him even if I was dead. Doing otherwise never even entered my mind. So as a ghost I began to hang around and try to help my son, but being invisible and incapable of interacting with the living world I felt powerless to do anything.
But where the ghost was powerless, I (Matthew) was not. Since this was a past life exploration I jumped forward in time to the next most meaningful event. It happened when my son was about 12 years old. As I often did, I was following him as he walked through our village when I suddenly heard someone shouting.
“You there! Get away from the boy!” shouted an old man.
I could see by his clothes that he was a wandering holy man.
“You don’t belong here. Get away!”
I was shocked that he could see me. But I didn’t engage him for fear that he could cast me out. Instead I disappeared around a nearby hut and slipped out later to follow my son.
The next relevant moment happened when my son was 15 years old. He had traveled to a nearby village and I tagged along. While there I once again heard someone shouting at me.
“Get out woman. You don’t belong!”
But this was not a holy man. This was an angry man and he charged right at me.
“Get out of this village! It is mine. Get out!” he shouted as he shoved me.
He actually shoved me aside. I felt it! I wanted to ask him how this was possible but he just kept yelling and shouting until he had forced me out of the village altogether.
Even more to my amazement my son never noticed a thing. Only later did I realize that the angry man I encountered was also a ghost.
As a ghost, I continued my lonely existence for several more years until my son was reaching marriageable age. While I had not been happy with my own arranged marriage, I had long had my eye on the girl who I wanted my son to marry. But much to my disappointment he had paid her no attention. So it was much to my delight when I saw her walking toward my son one day. I knew this was the moment that I somehow needed to get them together. But how?
Then I remembered the angry man who shoved me in the other village. So I got very mad and I shoved the young girl. To my surprise she stumbled and the water jug she was carrying crashed to the ground, spilling all over her and my son. They both laughed in embarrassment. He helped her to pick up the jug and they began to talk. Finally he was paying attention to her.
Then I jumped in time once more to their wedding day. As a ghost I proudly watched as my son got married. As he and his new bride ended the ceremony I knew my job was done. Now it would be his wife’s job to care for him and not me. As I felt this sense of completion the scene faded to white light.
My life as a ghost was over.
I share this particular story from my journal not only because it is October, which is the month of the year most people think about ghosts, but also because I think it sheds an interesting light on ghostly existence. While my “past life” exploration was entirely subjective, I am left with a strong sense that ghosts continue to learn even once they are no longer in the living world.
Far from being historic emotional impressions, soul fragments, or even souls who are stuck and need help, I believe that at least some ghosts are beings who are deliberately involved in pursuits that they feel strongly about. So strongly that even death will not keep them from completing their tasks.
How true you think this to be is up to you to decide, but for me it makes a considerable amount of sense. As living human beings we possess the ability to form emotional attachments, make choices, act accordingly, and learn from our experiences. That these faculties would vanish at death seems incongruous, or at least inconsistent if you consider life after death to be a possibility.
I crisscross the veil between physical and nonphysical reality regularly in my meditations, for past life regressions, soul retrievals, accessing guidance, astral travel, and other explorations. And based on many experiences comparable to this one, my worldview includes the tenet that we keep learning and growing after death. But I’m willing to be open-minded.
I welcome your thoughts on the subject.
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