Demon as a ghost and cryptid
|Type||Ghost (Not a Cryptid)|
|First Sighting||70,000 BCE (See Timeline)|
A ghost, originating from the words ghoisdo-s (Germanic Old Norse meaning rage), gast (Old English) or geist (as in Poltergeist) is the soul of a dead person or animal, a disembodied spirit, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons. The idea of ghost states that our cryptids are not all they appear to be.
Ghosts or Cryptids
"When, with my early years looming, I became seriously fascinated by the subject of cryptozoology—the search for and study of mysterious, undocumented creatures such as Sasquatch, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster—everything for me was very much black-and-white: Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman were giant, as-yet-unclassified apes; the Loch Ness Monsters – I say “Monsters” rather than “Monster,” as encounters span more than a thousand years, effectively ruling out the possibility of just one creature being involved – were surviving relics from the Jurassic era; and the veritable menagerie of other amazing animals in our midst, including werewolves and sea-serpents, were simply creatures that science and zoology had yet to definitively classify.
Unknown or not, they were still flesh-and-blood creatures—or so I assumed. As time progressed, however, and as my teens became my twenties and then my thirties, my views began to change, and with very good reason. The beasts with which I had become obsessed as a child, I later came to realize, were not just strange: they were actually too strange.
Despite the fact that there have been literally thousands of sightings of Bigfoot within the dark forests of North America over the past several centuries, all attempts to identify, trap, or kill even one such animal have ended in complete and utter failure. Unlike just about every other living creature in the United States, Bigfoot has never had the misfortune of being hit by a car or truck and killed, nor has anyone ever stumbled across the corpse of one of these elusive animals. And there are countless cases on record in which people have attempted to shoot Bigfoot, but the bullets seem to have no effect on the animals whatsoever.
It’s much the same with the monsters of Loch Ness, Scotland. Although the Loch is sizeable—it is approximately 24 miles long, roughly a mile wide, and about 700 feet deep—it is hardly remote or inaccessible. Certainly, every year, tens of thousands of people flock to Scotland in the hope of seeing the elusive long-necked entities of those dark waters, and nearly all go home disappointed.
Ambitious projects designed to seek out the creatures with sonar and submarines have always failed to turn up anything conclusive. Attempts to photograph the animals, on the rare occasions they have surfaced from the murky depths, have often proved to be curiously problematic, as well: cameras jam at crucial moments, and photographs are inexplicably blurred or fogged.
Then there’s the matter of the eating habits of these mysterious beasts—or, more correctly, their overwhelming lack of eating habits. Bigfoot, given its immense size and build (eyewitness reports describe a creature eight feet tall and weighing an estimated 300 to 600 pounds), would likely require a massive intake of nourishment. After all, a fully-grown silverback gorilla requires a tremendous amount of food on a daily basis.
Imagine the amount of nourishment required by a whole colony of silverbacks! Indeed, one of the reasons why it is so easy to track the movements and activities of gorillas is not only because they are very social animals that live in groups, but also because of the clear and undeniable evidence of their massive, hour-by-hour efforts foraging for food. However, there is very little, if any, evidence of Bigfoot’s culinary delights.
Yes, there are very occasional reports of Bigfoot killing a pig here or a deer there, but for the most part the hard evidence of its eating habits—which, again, would have to be tremendous in nature—is conspicuously absent. Moreover, that Bigfoot is seen in locales hardly noted for their rich and abundant food supplies, such as the depths of the Nevada desert and West Texas, only adds to the high strangeness.
And it’s much the same with Loch Ness: if a large colony of plesiosaurs has managed to survive extinction and now calls the loch their home, how, exactly, are they sustaining their massive bulk? Yes, the Loch is populated by a number of kinds of fish, such as salmon, eel, pike, and trout, but the populations are most assuredly not in the numbers that would allow a school of 20 aquatic beasts, each 15 to 25 feet in length, to secure sufficient nourishment on a day-to-day basis to ensure their survival, health, and reproduction over the centuries.
In other words, while most, if not all of the many and varied creatures that fall squarely under the cryptozoological banner appear at first glance to be flesh-and-blood animals—albeit ones as-yet unclassified by science—upon careful study, their curious eating habits and activities suggest they are actually nothing of the sort. Indeed, given their elusiveness, they seem rather more spectral, ethereal, and phantom-like in nature.
Could it be the case that some of the strange and fantastic monsters that plague and perplex people all across the world on dark, windswept nights, within thick woods, and amid the cold waters of ancient lochs and lakes are far less—or, paradoxically, far more—than they appear to be?
With that above-question in mind, I’ll leave you with another question to ponder upon: Are our monsters actually ghosts?"
History of Ghosts
70,000 BCE ~ Prehistoric Times
The earliest religions in human history worshiped spirits. A number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies such as Neanderthal societies may also have practiced the earliest form of totemism or spirit worship. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal bear cult existed (Wunn, 2000, p. 434-435). A claim that evidence was found for Middle Paleolithic spirit worship c 70,000 BCE originates from the Tsodilo Hills in the African Kalahari desert has been denied by the original investigators of the site. Spirit cults in the following Upper Paleolithic period, such as the bear cult, may have had their origins in these hypothetical Middle Paleolithic spirit cults.
Spirit worship during the Upper Paleolithic was intertwined with hunting rites. For instance, archeological evidence from art and bear remains reveals that the Bear cult apparently had a type of sacrificial bear ceremonialism in which a bear was shot with arrows and then was finished off by a shot in the lungs and ritualistically buried near a clay bear statue covered by a bear fur with the skull and the body of the bear buried separately. Spirits are still worshiped today by the Shinto in Japan, African Togo cultures, Native American tribes and Hindus in Bali. However, most of these cultures regard spirits as dieties, rather than ghosts, in their religious systems.
14,000 BCE ~ Jōmon Period's Yūrei in Japan
The Jōmon period lasted from about 14,000 until 300 BC. Yūrei (幽霊?) are figures in Japanese folklore, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. The name consists of two kanji, 幽 (yū), meaning "faint" or "dim" and 霊 (rei), meaning "soul" or "spirit." Alternative names include 亡霊 (Bōrei) meaning ruined or departed spirit, 死霊 (Shiryō) meaning dead spirit, or the more encompassing 妖怪 (Yōkai) or お化け (Obake). Like their Chinese and Western counterparts, they are thought to be spirits kept from a peaceful afterlife. According to traditional Japanese beliefs, all humans have a spirit or soul called a 霊魂 (reikon). When a person dies, the reikon leaves the body and enters a form of purgatory, where it waits for the proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed, so that it may join its ancestors. If this is done correctly, the reikon is believed to be a protector of the living family and to return yearly in August during the Obon Festival to receive thanks.
However, if the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide, if the proper rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, the reikon is thought to transform into a yūrei, which can then bridge the gap back to the physical world. The yūrei then exist on Earth until it can be laid to rest, either by performing the missing rituals, or resolving the emotional conflict that still ties it to the physical plane. If the rituals are not completed or the conflict left unresolved, the yūrei will persist in its haunting.
In the late 17th century, a game called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai became popular, and kaidan increasingly became a subject for theater, literature and other arts. At this time, they began to gain certain attributes to distinguish themselves from living humans, making it easier to spot yūrei characters.
Ukiyo-e artist Maruyama Ōkyo created the first known example of the now-traditional yūrei, in his painting The Ghost of Oyuki.
Today, the appearance of yūrei is somewhat uniform, instantly signalling the ghostly nature of the figure, and assuring that it is culturally authentic.
2000 BCE ~ Ancient Egypt and Mesopatamia
There are many references to ghosts in Mesopotamian religions – the religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria and other early states in Mesopotamia. Traces of these beliefs survive in the later Abrahamic religions that came to dominate the region. Ghosts were thought to be created at time of death, taking on the memory and personality of the dead person. They traveled to the netherworld, where they were assigned a position, and led an existence similar in some ways to that of the living. Relatives of the dead were expected to make offerings of food and drink to the dead to ease their conditions. If they did not, the ghosts could inflict misfortune and illness on the living. Traditional healing practices ascribed a variety of illnesses to the action of ghosts, while others were caused by gods or demons.
The Hebrew Bible contains few references to ghosts, associating spiritism with forbidden occult activities cf. Deuteronomy 18:11. The most notable reference is in the First Book of Samuel (I Samuel 28:3–19 KJV), in which a disguised King Saul has the Witch of Endor summon the spirit/ghost of Samuel.
There was widespread belief in ghosts in ancient Egyptian culture in the sense of the continued existence of the soul and spirit after death, with the ability to assist or harm the living, and the possibility of a second death. Over a period of more than 2,500 years, Egyptian beliefs about the nature of the afterlife evolved constantly. Many of these beliefs were recorded in inscriptions, papyrus scrolls and tomb paintings. The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiles some of the beliefs from different periods of ancient Egyptian history. In modern times, the fanciful concept of a mummy coming back to life and wreaking vengeance when disturbed has spawned a whole genre of horror stories and films.