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Author Topic: Does the concept of ghosts fit into Orthodox theology?  (Read 4582 times) Average Rating: 4
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« on: July 16, 2011, 01:28:47 AM »

How does the Orthodox Church explain paranormal phenomena such as alleged hauntings, poltergeists, etc.? Are these ever actually the spirits of the departed, or is it simply trickery from Satan and the demons?
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2011, 01:44:02 AM »

Augustine can weigh in on this, but I think in Romania, if you die from drowning and a cat jumps over your grave, you are at risk for turning into a vampire, unless your family spends the forty days after your death covering your grave with grains of wheat in the shape of a giant cross as your soul wanders throughout the village haunting all those who harmed you during your life.

Or you can feed the Priest rasol after the burial to avoid all that work.

At least this is what I garnered, while in Romania. Something might have gotten lost in translation though. //:=|

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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 01:57:08 AM »

Thanks...but I was thinking of something more definitive (rather than folklore), like perhaps quotes from the Fathers or modern Orthodox clergy or something like that. If you can dig up the information from St. Augustine that you mentioned in the beginning of your post I would appreciate it.
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 02:04:10 AM »

Thanks...but I was thinking of something more definitive (rather than folklore), like perhaps quotes from the Fathers or modern Orthodox clergy or something like that. If you can dig up the information from St. Augustine that you mentioned in the beginning of your post I would appreciate it.

St. Augustine? I was referring to our Old World resident expert. He much more interesting to read.

I was just joshing.

I am sure you will get plenty of help here.

If not, I'll ask my Priest for some, we were just discussing this subject in light of a recent loss.

Sorry, I just thought my post was so absurd to be taken with a grain of salt, which is what you use BTW on the grave on the departed to keep them from becoming werewolves. //:=|
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2011, 09:18:00 AM »

My priest preached on this last Halloween, since it was on a Sunday.

Ghosts and similar paranormal activity are necessarily demonic. Soon after death (traditionally 3 days, but others say immediately), the souls of the departed are taken away by the angels and brought to their resting place until the Judgment. Human souls do not hang around in battlefields or hotels or houses or anywhere else for years and years.

The demons do this in part to make people interested in spiritual things that are not of God. The more wrapped up people get in the flashy world of ghosts, the less interest they have in God (much the same as with UFOs).

The demons ultimately want to gain influence over people, and scaring us is one of the easiest ways to do that. And if people aren't afraid, they will at least be dazzled by the magic shows the demons host for us. This leads people into just wasting time with such entertainment, to necromancy, or psychic stuff, demonology, and every other kind of rotgut you can imagine.

So, ghosts are sort of the laser shows and gateway drugs of the demonic arsenal. As Christians it's best to just stay away. Nothing good can come from it.
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2011, 10:25:55 AM »

How does the Orthodox Church explain paranormal phenomena such as alleged hauntings, poltergeists, etc.? Are these ever actually the spirits of the departed, or is it simply trickery from Satan and the demons?

"In short, the Church does not believe in ghosts. The devil may plant the suggestion in a person’s mind that he sees things or people that aren’t there. Many of us have creative, and sometimes, destructive and dangerous imaginations. I have heard numerous stories of people convinced they have seen ghosts or spirits. To the best of my knowledge, none of them had anything to do with God. They were the result of overactive imaginations and fears, which can only be the work of the devil.

This is not to say that there are not legitimate visions that God presents to a select few. If we look back at the time of our Lord’s death, as accounted in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we are told that “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the Saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after (Jesus’) resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). This happened so that the glory of God might be made known. So ask yourself when you think about such things as ghosts, does it offer glory to God? If you can answer yes, then you know it is authentic and pleasing to God. That is all we truly need to know."

http://www.antiochian.org/1289

There are saints who appear to people or in churches for the glory of God and after his permission, those are not termed and cant be termed as ghosts but rather apparitions of holy saints.
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2011, 10:42:22 AM »

Er, maybe your priest should recheck his sources on that.

Apparitions of the dead are not necessarily demonic.  There are numerous instances in the loves of the saints where the living come into contact with the dead outside of an act of 'necromancy.'  I have dealt with several of these situations, and I know other clergy who have as well.

There is one book published by Jordanville, Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave, which explores the topic.  It does, however, have some influences fom the 19th century Spiritualist movement, but I do not think it strays too far from Church consensus on the topic.

As for 'poltergeists,' these are never associated with human souls since the manifestations are outside the general 'rules' of human apparitions.  There is a general breakdown of the 'rules':

1) The dead manifest themselves in dreams or subtle actions to solicit prayer or assistance on a one-time task to aid in their passing into rest.  Occasionally, they appear to console the dying.  Such an appearance NEVER elicits an ongoing contact with the dead, but is usually a 'one-time,' unsolicited contact.  No Obi-Wan Kenobis.

2) Material manifestations are limited to rapping sounds, near-inaudible voices, moving small objects or full-bodied apparitions.

3) These manifestations do not respond to exorcism prayers, but respond 'positively' to intercessions for the dead.

4) These manifestations will also (generally speaking) respond to demands for them to stop when asked.

5) These manifestations are never sacreligious or profane.

Demonic activity can mask as any of these, though it usually progresses rapidly into more over-the-top stuff once it has 'set the hook.'  However, since demons can mimic almost everything a human soul can do, it is imperative to treat such apparitions with suspicion and call in a priest when a manifestation happens.

As for general hauntings, these are usually places that have not been consecrated and where the dead are not routinely memorialized.  Once such prayers have taken place and the activity continues, it is usually considered demonic.  However, there is no Church consensus on whether the dead are utterly forbidden to 'visit' our world.

If you go too far into this topic, you end up running out of Patristic sources and eventually get tangled up in Toll Houses, 'soul sleep' and all kinds of theories.

Another book to consider is The Memorial Services and Their Benefits by Hieromonk Benedict of Nea Skiti on the Holy Mountain.  One of the most helpful historical papers on the matter of the state of souls after death is here: http://www.doaks.org/publications/doaks_online_publications/DOP55/DP55ch06.pdf

The sad truth is that our seminaries, probably with the exception of Jordanville, do not address this topic.  Priests learn about it either from what they were taught in their own families or what senior priests teach them in the field.  There are many priests who never deal with such matters in their entire careers, and others of us who seem to run across them.


My priest preached on this last Halloween, since it was on a Sunday.

Ghosts and similar paranormal activity are necessarily demonic. Soon after death (traditionally 3 days, but others say immediately), the souls of the departed are taken away by the angels and brought to their resting place until the Judgment. Human souls do not hang around in battlefields or hotels or houses or anywhere else for years and years.

The demons do this in part to make people interested in spiritual things that are not of God. The more wrapped up people get in the flashy world of ghosts, the less interest they have in God (much the same as with UFOs).

The demons ultimately want to gain influence over people, and scaring us is one of the easiest ways to do that. And if people aren't afraid, they will at least be dazzled by the magic shows the demons host for us. This leads people into just wasting time with such entertainment, to necromancy, or psychic stuff, demonology, and every other kind of rotgut you can imagine.

So, ghosts are sort of the laser shows and gateway drugs of the demonic arsenal. As Christians it's best to just stay away. Nothing good can come from it.
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2011, 11:51:36 AM »

My priest preached on this last Halloween, since it was on a Sunday.

Ghosts and similar paranormal activity are necessarily demonic. Soon after death (traditionally 3 days, but others say immediately), the souls of the departed are taken away by the angels and brought to their resting place until the Judgment. Human souls do not hang around in battlefields or hotels or houses or anywhere else for years and years.
Even if souls don't, that doesn't settle the matter.  The existence of ghosts, for instance, wouldn't prove the existence of life after death, as they could be some sort of residue, a etherial footprint or fingerprint as it were.

Paranormal often can be, but not necessarily are, demonic.

The demons do this in part to make people interested in spiritual things that are not of God. The more wrapped up people get in the flashy world of ghosts, the less interest they have in God (much the same as with UFOs).
True enough, but not of dogmatic universality.

The demons ultimately want to gain influence over people, and scaring us is one of the easiest ways to do that. And if people aren't afraid, they will at least be dazzled by the magic shows the demons host for us. This leads people into just wasting time with such entertainment, to necromancy, or psychic stuff, demonology, and every other kind of rotgut you can imagine.

So, ghosts are sort of the laser shows and gateway drugs of the demonic arsenal. As Christians it's best to just stay away. Nothing good can come from it.
Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon, despite what the JW's say, but nothing good came of that.  Except that the passage can be pointed to to show the JW's that they don't know what they are talking about.
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2011, 01:17:35 PM »

Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon
How do you know?
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2011, 01:32:15 PM »

Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon
How do you know?
Doesn't Scripture specifically say that she contacted Samuel?
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2011, 01:50:22 PM »

Ummmm.. I saw a couple of Ghosts.. On a Civil War Battlefield.... Very convincing. I would be happy to tell the story again if anyone is interested.

Contact with the Dead is not always Demonic. Sometimes it is, so it is wise not to dabble.

Also, people who have such contact do not automatically become New Agers. Sometimes people are made aware that the soul can survive death and thereby become far more serious about their own salvation.

I also recall a story about a Woman who came into contact with a full blown apparition of  Fr. Seraphim Rose while she was at Platina.

She told him that she regretted not meeting him in life. She was a nurse and told him that she was certain she could have saved him from his stomach illness. He told her that things happened as they were supposed to and that he was happy and with God.

That is hardly something Demonic.

St. John Maximovitch has been seen many times ministering to the sick and such the like. My former Priest tells a story about a very sick Parishioner whom St. John visited in the Hospital.
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2011, 02:00:20 PM »

Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon
How do you know?
Doesn't Scripture specifically say that she contacted Samuel?
Hmm, yeah I suppose it does.
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2011, 02:20:50 PM »

Quote
Apparitions of the dead are not necessarily demonic. There are numerous instances in the loves of the saints where the living come into contact with the dead outside of an act of 'necromancy.'  I have dealt with several of these situations, and I know other clergy who have as well.

Am I glad to hear this! Since right before my mom died (this May) until about a month ago, I was having some very strange, inexplicable experiences, which occurred at very peculiar times (e.g. a family picture falling off the dresser while my dad and I disagreed about inheritance money, a baby carousel that my mom gave our son starting up on its own while my wife and I were arguing, and again at other times when I really needed a sign that my mom still existed in some manner, an untouched, closed book my mom recorded in her voice for my son reading a page out loud while I changed my son's diaper nearby, a door handle moving back and forth a few times on its own while I was going through a day of terrible nihilism, a huge tree branch next door breaking and falling on a calm day while I sang and played a song I wrote about my mom on guitar, strong wafts of cigarette smoke odour around our baby while inside - my mom was a heavy smoker, and no one in my house smokes - my cell phone going all glitchy - it was shutting off whenever I tried to text and re-receiving old texts but dated from 1980! - for about five days before my mom died, and then going completely back to normal working condition an hour before my mother was declared dead).

I didn't believe in these kinds of things at all, really, until they started happening to me. Some of them could have happened due to natural forces, I suppose (except the door handle. I investigated... no reasonable explanation), but I don't think they all were. Most of the times these things happened, I was filled with faith and hope, not dread, and they drew me closer to God, so I simply do not accept that these occurrences were demonic. And I assure you I am not crazy. Well, not really. Smiley I am in fact too skeptical sometimes, I'd say. My wife has also been present for most of these strange events.  
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2011, 03:02:52 PM »

I always wondered about Casper the Friendly ghost Wink
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2011, 03:06:01 PM »

I always wondered about Casper the Friendly ghost Wink

I liked that cartoon.   Wink
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2011, 03:09:38 PM »

I always wondered about Casper the Friendly ghost Wink
Definitely demonic. He cavorted with Wendy the Little Witch and made that awful movie.
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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2011, 03:13:15 PM »

After my grandpa died, our next-door neighbour said she heard noises in her house an she asked him: "Is that you, neighbor? Just go and leave me alone." and she says they stopped. My grandpa and she didn't get along very well while living. I've heard plenty of stories of houses being visited by the dead one. people aren't really terrified by it, since they do not think of it as demonic, but of course, they would rather keep the dead away anyway. That's way a whole array of folk magical practices exists to this end, at which the church turns a blind eye, most of the times  or sometimes even encourages it, on a very local level.
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2011, 04:22:45 PM »

The best thing to do in these circumstances is cross yourself and say Lord have mercy. THAT will reveal the truth of the situation. Because most of the experiences we may have about people who have fallen asleep, are demonic.  God does not allow us regular folk to make contact with our living relatives and friends. Only the saints have that duty and for specific reasons.  As much as we love our parents and relatives, we need to understand that the evil one will do anything to make us turn from the truth, even if what we believe seems righteous. Meaning, we may feel that our experience is valid because we feel it's a loved relative or friend and we love them, so that makes it a righteous feeling.  The next time a spirit presents him/herself to you, test it.  Cross yourself and ask that entity: "In the name of Jesus Christ, tell me who you are". Protect yourself with the Holy Cross.  That is the only way to protect ourselves.
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2011, 04:44:51 PM »

I also recall a story about a Woman who came into contact with a full blown apparition of  Fr. Seraphim Rose while she was at Platina.

She told him that she regretted not meeting him in life. She was a nurse and told him that she was certain she could have saved him from his stomach illness. He told her that things happened as they were supposed to and that he was happy and with God.

That is hardly something Demonic.

St. John Maximovitch has been seen many times ministering to the sick and such the like. My former Priest tells a story about a very sick Parishioner whom St. John visited in the Hospital.


I think the general consensus is that full body apparitions of righteous people are not classified as ghosts.

But anyways, why do you think that the ghosts you saw on a battlefield aren't demons.  I'm not saying they are.  I am just asking what makes you think they aren't?
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« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2011, 06:08:56 PM »

When I say Ghosts I assumed the popular meaning -- the spirits of dead people, like paranormal tv shows have, and are just roaming about or frightening people, or supposedly caught between realms and such. Those I would say are demonic.

I dont think the Orthodox view of death allows for souls to stay around for 160 years, so there are no souls of Civil War soldiers on earth; they must be demons trying to influence people. They go to battlefields because it's more likely that people will believe in them because of the bloodshed and tragedy.

Of course the saints can appear, but I don't think of them as ghosts and wasn't including them. If "Ghost" means all apparitions of spiritual beings, then I agree, they could be good or bad.

As far as the witch at Endor, the Fathers are divided as to whether it was actually Samuel or a demon, despite what the OT says. Jeannie Constantinou has a lengthy podcast exploring that issue and various perspectives of the Fathers. Personally I think it was a demonic apparition but nobody ultimately knows for sure.
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2011, 06:23:43 PM »

I guess some of you guys think the Antiochian Archdiocese of America is full of bologna, considering you ignored my source.  Cool
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« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2011, 06:32:30 PM »

The best thing to do in these circumstances is cross yourself and say Lord have mercy. THAT will reveal the truth of the situation. Because most of the experiences we may have about people who have fallen asleep, are demonic.  God does not allow us regular folk to make contact with our living relatives and friends. Only the saints have that duty and for specific reasons.  As much as we love our parents and relatives, we need to understand that the evil one will do anything to make us turn from the truth, even if what we believe seems righteous. Meaning, we may feel that our experience is valid because we feel it's a loved relative or friend and we love them, so that makes it a righteous feeling.  The next time a spirit presents him/herself to you, test it.  Cross yourself and ask that entity: "In the name of Jesus Christ, tell me who you are". Protect yourself with the Holy Cross.  That is the only way to protect ourselves.

I appreciate your advice and think it is sound. I was actually kneeling at my icon table when the door rattled and I watched the door handle begin moving. I made the sign of the cross and continued to pray after checking it out and realizing with some certainty that it had been a paranormal incident (second story door, made of glass, creaky wooden stairs, dog sleeping beside the door, neighbor in backyard below, no one outside the door when I looked, and later experimentation convinced me that there was no way the door handle could move like that if pressed from the outside anyway). The second last time the carousel moved, it was pretty much conversing with me for several minutes and responding with music when I spoke. I asked if it was my mom, and it spun out a few notes, for example. After awhile, I made the sign of the cross, told my mom I loved her and that she'd better go wherever she needed to go. It stopped, and that was that. The carousel has only spun on its own once since, and that was a couple days later when my wife and I were shouting at each other. My mother would have scolded me had she heard that fight in her life, and I took it as a warning for me to shut up! It made me step back, apologize, and stop fighting with my wife. That was the last time anything has happened. Whatever seemed to be visiting us (for about 1 week before and 2 weeks after my mom's demise), each time it helped me overcome nihilistic despair or momentary disbelief in God and the afterlife, and return to trying to draw closer to God. So if it was demonic in nature, I think its plan backfired.  

I wonder... Is there any way that one's Guardian Angel might try to get a one's attention at a crucial time to keep him or her from trouble, according to the Church?
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« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2011, 06:37:27 PM »

While I think 'ghost-hunting' is a horrible idea, there are a few cases where they encounter genuine human apparitions.  However, these souls are not 'trapped' or 'lost,' but simply not at rest.

Since the Church has not spoken definitely on the matter, all we have are speculations.  Then we have interesting snippets...

Once, St Macarius was walking and saw a skull lying upon the ground. He asked, "Who are you?" The skull answered, "I was a chief priest of the pagans. When you, Abba, pray for those in hell, we receive some mitigation."

The monk asked, "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire," replied the skull, "and we do not see one another. When you pray, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort." Having heard such words, the saint began to weep and asked, "Are there still more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered, "Down below us are those who knew the Name of God, but spurned Him and did not keep His commandments. They endure even more grievous torments."


The spirit world is not for us to necessarily understand for our salvation.  We should be carefal and always ask for help with encounters.


When I say Ghosts I assumed the popular meaning -- the spirits of dead people, like paranormal tv shows have, and are just roaming about or frightening people, or supposedly caught between realms and such. Those I would say are demonic.

I dont think the Orthodox view of death allows for souls to stay around for 160 years, so there are no souls of Civil War soldiers on earth; they must be demons trying to influence people. They go to battlefields because it's more likely that people will believe in them because of the bloodshed and tragedy.

Of course the saints can appear, but I don't think of them as ghosts and wasn't including them. If "Ghost" means all apparitions of spiritual beings, then I agree, they could be good or bad.

As far as the witch at Endor, the Fathers are divided as to whether it was actually Samuel or a demon, despite what the OT says. Jeannie Constantinou has a lengthy podcast exploring that issue and various perspectives of the Fathers. Personally I think it was a demonic apparition but nobody ultimately knows for sure.
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« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2011, 06:41:31 PM »

There are folk beliefs within Orthodox communities that affirm such contacts.  Again, we must always look at the context.  If these contacts appear to be inviting an ongoing relationship, then we know we are in danger.  However, the newly departed are afforded a period to enter into rest, and it appears to vary.  Since the Church affirms continual memorial services without an 'expiration date,' I don't think we can say that by any particular time all things are resolved.

I appreciate your advice and think it is sound. I was actually kneeling at my icon table when the door rattled and I watched the door handle begin moving. I made the sign of the cross and continued to pray after checking it out and realizing with some certainty that it had been a paranormal incident (second story door, made of glass, creaky wooden stairs, dog sleeping beside the door, neighbor in backyard below, no one outside the door when I looked, and later experimentation convinced me that there was no way the door handle could move like that if pressed from the outside anyway). The second last time the carousel moved, it was pretty much conversing with me for several minutes and responding with music when I spoke. I asked if it was my mom, and it spun out a few notes, for example. After awhile, I made the sign of the cross, told my mom I loved her and that she'd better go wherever she needed to go. It stopped, and that was that. The carousel has only spun on its own once since, and that was a couple days later when my wife and I were shouting at each other. My mother would have scolded me had she heard that fight in her life, and I took it as a warning for me to shut up! It made me step back, apologize, and stop fighting with my wife. That was the last time anything has happened. Whatever seemed to be visiting us (for about 1 week before and 2 weeks after my mom's demise), each time it helped me overcome nihilistic despair or momentary disbelief in God and the afterlife, and return to trying to draw closer to God. So if it was demonic in nature, I think its plan backfired.  

I wonder... Is there any way that one's Guardian Angel might try to get a one's attention at a crucial time to keep him or her from trouble, according to the Church?
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« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2011, 07:31:13 PM »

Father, I just wanted to thank you for your insightful comments in this thread.

It is always nice when one of the many priests that lurk around OCNet comment on theological and spiritual issues.
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« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2011, 07:39:52 PM »

My own family has had some encounters with our deceased relatives.  After my grandmother died, my aunt and cousin were cleaning out her house and taking some photo's for memoires.  When a picture of my grandmothers kitchen was developed, you could see a blurred image through the window of her, dressed in white and holding her beloved yorkshire terrier who had died some years before her.  My family has looked over an over again at this picture and tried to make sense of it. My aunt and mother automatically believed that it was their mother visiting from Heaven, but my uncle took, at first a more skeptical view.  He actually went over to the house before it was sold and tried to measure the tree's on the outside from the kitchen window to see if they were the possible cause of the image, but even he was surprised at how impossible that would have been. 

Also my aunt claimed that her phone rang at a certain time every night after my Grandmother passed on for a several weeks before stopping.  I have no idea what these mean, but I do know that my grandmother was a good woman who suffered much from the debilitation of old age before her death.  Surely she has expedited for her sins by this trauma and has entered Heaven.  The image that appears to be her is a joyful one and not that of a soul in need of help.  Just in case, I and others still continue to have Masses said for her repose.
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« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2011, 11:04:22 PM »

I also recall a story about a Woman who came into contact with a full blown apparition of  Fr. Seraphim Rose while she was at Platina.

She told him that she regretted not meeting him in life. She was a nurse and told him that she was certain she could have saved him from his stomach illness. He told her that things happened as they were supposed to and that he was happy and with God.

That is hardly something Demonic.

St. John Maximovitch has been seen many times ministering to the sick and such the like. My former Priest tells a story about a very sick Parishioner whom St. John visited in the Hospital.


I think the general consensus is that full body apparitions of righteous people are not classified as ghosts.

But anyways, why do you think that the ghosts you saw on a battlefield aren't demons.  I'm not saying they are.  I am just asking what makes you think they aren't?

I just know they were not with the living Smiley  I dont know  if they were good Ghosts or Bad Ghosts are just passing through town.
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« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2011, 11:06:22 PM »

Still looking for shoes after all these years.
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« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2011, 11:10:35 PM »

There are folk beliefs within Orthodox communities that affirm such contacts.  Again, we must always look at the context.  If these contacts appear to be inviting an ongoing relationship, then we know we are in danger.  However, the newly departed are afforded a period to enter into rest, and it appears to vary.  Since the Church affirms continual memorial services without an 'expiration date,' I don't think we can say that by any particular time all things are resolved.

I appreciate your advice and think it is sound. I was actually kneeling at my icon table when the door rattled and I watched the door handle begin moving. I made the sign of the cross and continued to pray after checking it out and realizing with some certainty that it had been a paranormal incident (second story door, made of glass, creaky wooden stairs, dog sleeping beside the door, neighbor in backyard below, no one outside the door when I looked, and later experimentation convinced me that there was no way the door handle could move like that if pressed from the outside anyway). The second last time the carousel moved, it was pretty much conversing with me for several minutes and responding with music when I spoke. I asked if it was my mom, and it spun out a few notes, for example. After awhile, I made the sign of the cross, told my mom I loved her and that she'd better go wherever she needed to go. It stopped, and that was that. The carousel has only spun on its own once since, and that was a couple days later when my wife and I were shouting at each other. My mother would have scolded me had she heard that fight in her life, and I took it as a warning for me to shut up! It made me step back, apologize, and stop fighting with my wife. That was the last time anything has happened. Whatever seemed to be visiting us (for about 1 week before and 2 weeks after my mom's demise), each time it helped me overcome nihilistic despair or momentary disbelief in God and the afterlife, and return to trying to draw closer to God. So if it was demonic in nature, I think its plan backfired.  

I wonder... Is there any way that one's Guardian Angel might try to get a one's attention at a crucial time to keep him or her from trouble, according to the Church?

My wife and I had made up a signal to send to the other if one of us passed away. I had totally forgotten about it. About three days after her funeral I saw the sign we had agreed upon. It was very specific and a million to one that it could have been coincidental. When I saw it I stopped in the my tracks. I looked up and said to her: "Okay, I see it . Could you that again"  A couple days later the same sign only exaggerated as if to say "Is this big enough for you ?"

It was not Demonic. And if it was, the Demon gave me a bit of consolation.. I really dont think that's what they want to do.
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« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2011, 02:59:13 AM »

Christ talked to Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor, in person. To me, this seems to establish that encountering those who have passed is possible and so is communicating with them. What that means relative to the idea of ghosts is not clear to me; however, I don't see how this can be extended to the contemporary TV idea of a ghost nor that encountering the diseased should be seen as a ghost encounter per se in particular if the person is a saint or holy person.
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« Reply #30 on: July 17, 2011, 04:33:15 AM »

[Redundant]
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« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2011, 04:54:12 AM »

Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon
How do you know?
Doesn't Scripture specifically say that she contacted Samuel?
Hmm, yeah I suppose it does.

Certain Fathers definitely say that it was not Samuel who was conjured but a demon.

I don't have the references now but can dig them up if people are interested.
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« Reply #32 on: July 17, 2011, 06:24:46 AM »



My wife and I had made up a signal to send to the other if one of us passed away. I had totally forgotten about it. About three days after her funeral I saw the sign we had agreed upon. It was very specific and a million to one that it could have been coincidental. When I saw it I stopped in the my tracks. I looked up and said to her: "Okay, I see it . Could you that again"  A couple days later the same sign only exaggerated as if to say "Is this big enough for you ?"

It was not Demonic. And if it was, the Demon gave me a bit of consolation.. I really dont think that's what they want to do.

So do you actually think your deceased wife was able to affect physical realities here in the world from Hades - and if so how? Do you mind if I ask what the sign she had supposedly "sent" to you somehow actually was? (For some strange reason I'm thinking of an upside-down rainbow - please tell me it wasn't an upside-down rainbow!) How do you reconcile these beliefs with Orthodox Christianity? Thanks!
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« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2011, 08:28:04 AM »

Well, the witch at Endor didn't talk to a demon
How do you know?
Doesn't Scripture specifically say that she contacted Samuel?
Hmm, yeah I suppose it does.

Certain Fathers definitely say that it was not Samuel who was conjured but a demon.

I don't have the references now but can dig them up if people are interested.
Someone said that above. You don't have to do it on my account.
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« Reply #34 on: July 17, 2011, 10:45:04 AM »

The term 'ghost' comes from the German word for 'spirit,' geist.  We used to call the Holy Spirit the 'Holy Ghost' (German, Der Heilige Geist) and that shows up in some translations.

It is very apparent that the TV shows featuring 'human apparitions' are ambiguous at best when it comes to defining the reason for the apparitions.  When I did a AFR interview on this, I told the audience that if these ghosts/human spirits are suffering (i.e. not at rest), then 'ghost hunters' are taking delight in the suffering of others.  They come to take pictures and recordings, but never help the sufferers go to their rest.

Quite a lot of the TV ghost hunting is tracking deminic phenomenon, which is often done to attract men's attention.  However, there is the notion in the Bible of forsaken cities being filled with evil presences:

And her valleys shall be turned into pitch, and her land into
sulphur; and her land shall be as pitch burning night and day;
and it shall never be quenched, and her smoke shall go up: it
shall be made desolate throughout her generations,
and for a long time birds and hedgehogs, and ibisies and
ravens shall dwell in it: and the measuring line of desolation shall
be cast over it, and satyrs shall dwell in it.
Her princes shall be no more; for her kings and her great men
shall be destroyed.
And thorns shall spring up in their cities, and in her strong
holds: and they shall be habitations of monsters, and a court of
ostriches.
And devils shall meet with satyrs, and they shall cry one to
the other: there shall satyrs rest, having found for themselves a
place of rest.
There has the hedgehog made its nest, and the earth has
safely preserved its young: there have the deer met, and seen
one another's faces. (Isaiah 34:9-15, Septuagint)




Christ talked to Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor, in person. To me, this seems to establish that encountering those who have passed is possible and so is communicating with them. What that means relative to the idea of ghosts is not clear to me; however, I don't see how this can be extended to the contemporary TV idea of a ghost nor that encountering the diseased should be seen as a ghost encounter per se in particular if the person is a saint or holy person.
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« Reply #35 on: July 17, 2011, 01:57:06 PM »



My wife and I had made up a signal to send to the other if one of us passed away. I had totally forgotten about it. About three days after her funeral I saw the sign we had agreed upon. It was very specific and a million to one that it could have been coincidental. When I saw it I stopped in the my tracks. I looked up and said to her: "Okay, I see it . Could you that again"  A couple days later the same sign only exaggerated as if to say "Is this big enough for you ?"

It was not Demonic. And if it was, the Demon gave me a bit of consolation.. I really dont think that's what they want to do.

So do you actually think your deceased wife was able to affect physical realities here in the world from Hades - and if so how? Do you mind if I ask what the sign she had supposedly "sent" to you somehow actually was? (For some strange reason I'm thinking of an upside-down rainbow - please tell me it wasn't an upside-down rainbow!) How do you reconcile these beliefs with Orthodox Christianity? Thanks!
I would be interested in knowing what the sign was as well.
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« Reply #36 on: July 18, 2011, 04:58:06 PM »

I've read that sometimes apparitions are not demonic but actually the deceased trying to get someone's attention to pray for them and the repose of our souls. It is safest to treat these as demonic and have a priest make an exorcism or two.  If that is not effective then prayers for the repose of their souls should be offered (by a priest preferable) and in most cases that resolves the issue.

It makes one wonder what would happen if an orthodox priest and parishioners should visit some old civil war battlefield and pray for the repose of their souls…how many of those "ghosts" would cease to appear?
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« Reply #37 on: July 18, 2011, 11:33:22 PM »

The Desert Fathers usually associate forsaken places with demonic activity. since demons do not have the right to 'infest' the places of the living.

Exorcism is always recommended, but it can only be done when requested by the owner or tennant of the land.  Otherwise, one is a meddler.  I know of one time where a public monument had a demonic presence, and an exorcism was performed at the request of the ranger.  It apparently worked, up until an occult group used the facility and brought back the 'demonic problem.'

In the case of a battlefield, prayer would be good and would more than likely result in a lowering of activity.  Then again, in some cases there can be an increase in activity as more come forward to be prayed for.  This happened in a situation I dealt with.  Eventually, I agreed to make regular commemoriations in exchange for a cessation of the activity, and it stopped.  Just an aside: cemetaries are notoriously 'quiet' and generally lack preternatural activity, unless occult or magic groups start using the property.  Old cemetaries that have chapels that would commemorated the deceased in the cemetary helped a lot of people go to their rest.

I considered working with someone to compose an Akathist for Fallen Soldiers, but I have not found anyone willing to help with the task.  It would be nice to have prayers on Memorial Day and when visiting cemetaries.


I've read that sometimes apparitions are not demonic but actually the deceased trying to get someone's attention to pray for them and the repose of our souls. It is safest to treat these as demonic and have a priest make an exorcism or two.  If that is not effective then prayers for the repose of their souls should be offered (by a priest preferable) and in most cases that resolves the issue.

It makes one wonder what would happen if an orthodox priest and parishioners should visit some old civil war battlefield and pray for the repose of their souls…how many of those "ghosts" would cease to appear?
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« Reply #38 on: July 18, 2011, 11:37:08 PM »

What kind of help does one need to compose an akathist? A blessing?
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« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2011, 11:57:26 PM »

Talent   Undecided

What kind of help does one need to compose an akathist? A blessing?
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« Reply #40 on: July 19, 2011, 12:03:32 AM »

Also, people who have such contact do not automatically become New Agers. Sometimes people are made aware that the soul can survive death and thereby become far more serious about their own salvation.

Excellent point.

...It was not Demonic. And if it was, the Demon gave me a bit of consolation.. I really dont think that's what they want to do.

Similarly, if experiences I've encountered have been demonic, suffice it to say that those demons were promptly fired.


Also, thank you Fr. Giryus for your contribution to this thread.
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« Reply #41 on: July 19, 2011, 12:25:41 AM »

Why is it so hard for some souls to be at rest?  Is the afterlife really that disturbing and harsh that the dead cannot go to Heaven or find peace? 

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« Reply #42 on: July 19, 2011, 12:32:35 AM »

People can't find peace when they are alive, so how can you expect them to be any better at it once they are dead?

Why is it so hard for some souls to be at rest?  Is the afterlife really that disturbing and harsh that the dead cannot go to Heaven or find peace? 


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« Reply #43 on: July 19, 2011, 12:42:49 AM »

People can't find peace when they are alive, so how can you expect them to be any better at it once they are dead?

Why is it so hard for some souls to be at rest? Is the afterlife really that disturbing and harsh that the dead cannot go to Heaven or find peace?  



So what exactly happens when you die? Are you the same person with the same personality, likes, dislikes, etc.. OR are you like some mindless zombie wandering around restlessly all the time? Is being dead like living in a fog or something (Like my mother told me it was like when she was sick with cancer and staff infection in the hospital)?
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« Reply #44 on: July 19, 2011, 01:07:33 AM »

The Fathers say the soul is incomplete without the body, so the afterlife is a fog I think. Saints in Heaven of course are energized by God's presence, so things must be different for them but for people who haven't quite gone through the Gates, things must be hard. Maybe like children they kick and scream and cry and push Jesus away because they didn't want to die yet, they don't yet trust God that their loved ones will survive without them (yes I know this is starting to sound like Ghost Dad or something lol), etc.

If God wipes every tear from our eyes, it makes sense that some people will pull away from the washcloth at first.

Just my thoughts.
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