I have written about ghosts in the past, but they aren’t all I am interested in. Owls are another passionof mine and are repeatedly used in my novels. My owls always act in unusual ways, for instance—they fly together, like a flock of birds would do—which owls never do in real life; they attack humans, which is highly unlikely; and they guard or protect a human being, which is also not in their nature. This is the fun part of being a novelist. To serve the purpose of my story, owls may behave in any way I want them to, although I mostly stick to known facts.
We all know the basics of owls. They are birds known for their distinctive call, they are nocturnal, and their flight is silent. They’re also deadly if you happen to be a tiny creature. Owls are right up there with bats and spiders as the most popular creatures used for Halloween.
Owls are classified into two categories—barn owls have a heart-shaped face, and true owls have a round face. In each category, there are of course several species: 16 Barn Owl species and 190 True Owl species, to be exact. They don’t build nests, but make their home using anything that is convenient, from a nest built in the ground by other birds or burrowing animals, to a nook in a tree, to old abandoned buildings.
They are carnivorous and will eat rodents, small mammals, nocturnal insects, fish and even other birds. After digesting their food, owls regurgitate hard pellets of compressed bones, fur, teeth, feathers, and other materials they couldn’t digest. A barn owl can eat up to 1000 mice each year, and farmers try to attract barn owls to help control rodent populations in agricultural fields.
Most people will know that an owl’s eyes are fixed in their sockets, so that they have to turn their whole head to find their prey. You might have heard the tall tale that because of their fixed eyes, should you circle an owl, it will wring its own neck watching you. As the owl can only turn its head 260 degrees, this claim is impossible. Because their eyes are fixed, they have binocular vision, a necessity for hunting in the dark. An owl has three eyelids, one for blinking, one for sleeping, and one for keeping the eye clean and lubricated.
Their ears are asymmetrical, as well as being different sizes and heights on their heads. This gives the birds superior hearing, and the ability to pinpoint where the prey is even before they can see it. The flattened facial disk of an owl funnels sounds to the bird’s ears and magnifies it as much as ten times to help it hear noises humans can’t detect. Some owl species have ‘ear’ tufts on their heads but they aren’t ears at all. These tufts of feathers may indicate the bird’s mood and help keep it camouflaged.
Owls have zygodactyl feet, which means they have two toes pointing forwards and two toes pointing backwards. This gives them a stronger, more powerful grip on their prey. Their feathers have been especially adapted to muffle the sounds of flying, and their broad wingspan and light bodies help make them nearly silent in flight. Handy for stalking prey.
For most owl species, females are larger, heavier, and more aggressive than the males, with the females being the most colourful.
Hooting is not their only form of communication. They are capable of a wide range of sounds, such as screeches, whistles, barks, and hisses. During the nesting season, an owl’s calls can often be heard up to a mile away. And they sing duets with their breeding partner, who they mate with for life.
Here’s an interesting fact: Did you know that a group of owls is called a parliament?
Owls have been found in the fossil record up to 58 million years ago. The largest recorded owl fossil, Orinmegalonyx oteroi, stood about three feet tall. Images of owls have been found in cave paintings in France, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and even in Mayan art. Most cultures focused on the dark aspect of the owl, mainly because of man’s inherent fear of the dark. Because the owl is nocturnal, and the medical fact that most deaths occur at night, the owl became associated with death.
The biggest modern threats to owls are habitat loss, pesticides that poison the birds and their food supplies, and human persecution because of negative superstitions.
Unfortunately for the owl, they have been much maligned by folklore and superstition. In ancient Greek mythology, Athena, Goddess of the Underworld and Wisdom, had a companion owl on her shoulder, which revealed unseen truths to her. The Japanese believe the owl warns them of impending danger. In Celtic folklore, the owl was sacred and endowed with magical powers. To the Welsh, the owl symbolised death, renewal, and wisdom. Today, owl superstitions still associate the birds with bad luck, death, and the stealing souls in many cultures. In paganism, the owl is associated with the goddess, wisdom, underworld deities, and prophecies.
Owl symbolism used in meditation and ritual can help you interpret dreams, unmask those who would deceive you, and find hidden spiritual truths.
For me, personally, hearing an owl hoot at night means something good is about to happen.
I couldn’t find another picture of an owl, so here’s a black rose, another passion of mine.
Ghosts and apparitions have held great interest to humankind throughout the ages. At first, ghosts of the dearly departed were accepted as fact, forming part of everyday life and rituals, but as we gradually became more technologically sophisticated, so scepticism set in. It is a basic instinct to fear what one doesn’t understand, or can’t reasonably explain.
Because ‘ghost hunting’ isn’t a real science and has depended on amateurs with imperfect methods and imperfect equipment, knowledge has remained rather sketchy. Of course, ghost stories are steeped in folklore. As tales are passed on from generation to generation, they become embellished and distorted. These stories were told to warn and to entertain—not necessarily meant to be accepted as fact.
Personally, I’ve always been interested in the paranormal and have started to question the nature of apparitions of the dead. I wanted to know why the spirits of some people linger after death and others not. To find answers, I first had to explore the nature of ghosts in general.
Let’s be honest. We’ve all heard inexplicable little sounds at odd times for which we couldn’t find reasonable explanations. And because we’re scared of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, it makes one feel better to blame the noisy neighbours. And what about the movement we catch from the corner of the eye that we assign to shifting light casting shadows? Sometimes, when we can’t come up with a logical explanation, it’s just more comforting to blame our own overactive imagination. But is it possible that all this space around us is not empty?
We’re all born with the ability to ‘see’. Unfortunately, our perception changes over time as we mature. Through the process of socialisation, the ability is blocked when it’s assigned to the child’s imagination.
Here are a few interesting ‘facts’ regarding the experience of ghostly activity:
• Whereas children can see ghosts, only about one in ten adults retain that ability.
• Women are more likely than men to see a ghost.
• The higher the IQ, the lower the likelihood of seeing a ghost.
• People actively looking for ghosts are the least likely to see one, and by the flip of a coin, those who disregard their presence are quite likely candidates to have a ghostly experience.
1) The most common explanation of what ghosts are, is that they’re the spirits of people who have died prematurely and so still have unfinished business to complete. The soul incarnates into each new life with a set of prescribed tasks to complete in that life for the development of that soul. When death comes unexpectedly or early, some of the tasks might still be incomplete and the soul is unable to cross over to the spirit world. The spirit then lingers around his or her old haunts, friends, and family. This kind of sighting is highly interactive, and not only is a conversation possible, one may even capture the spirit in a video or photo. Some people stick to this theory of the nature of ghosts because they seem to accept it as proof of life after death.
2) Another theory is that high impact events are recorded in the surroundings where those events take place. The recording is then replayed—so to speak—over and over, but can only be seen by people who have retained the sensitivity. This could manifest as the actual seeing of the apparition, but it could also take the form of recurring smells or sounds. The recording consists of a very strong emotion or violent event. As this is only a recording of an event, it makes sense that there can be no interaction with the ghost as such. This is what is called a residual haunting. A poltergeist is attached to a place or house, or even a single room in a house, and doesn’t respond to the people occupying the space. Poltergeist means noisy ghost, because they are known to throw things around and make sounds.
3) A third theory of what ghosts are, states that they are naturally occurring electromagnetic events. We all leave impressions on the places we visit during our lives. So, one place could have the impressions of many people who visited it over time. I’m not sure if these impressions would be interpreted as ghosts, though.
4) Similarly, there is a theory that ghosts are actual people living in parallel dimensions that overlap our dimension for a time. I suppose one must consider all options, but this one seems unlikely to me.
5) And the theory that ghosts live only in the imagination would seem to satisfy only those who have lost their ability to perceive.
Whatever the nature of ghosts, I believe they are there, whether one accepts them or not. And remember, if you don’t believe in the existence of such spirits, you stand a much better chance of being visited by one.
Yay! Friday at last! I thought we could end the week with a real “ghost” story and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I have.
One “person” who should be haunting Simon’s Town, but who by all accounts aren’t, is Able Seaman Just Nuisance, R.N. This is a great story I stumbled across while looking for Simon’s Town’s resident ghosts. I wouldn’t mind bumping into this fellow on a dark and stormy night!
Born on April’s Fool Day 1937 in Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa, this Great Dane pup was sold to Benjamin Chaney, who moved to Simon’s Town to run the United Services Institute. It was here where this large dog became a legend.
It was a dog’s life – the sailors on the base at Simon’s Town fed him all sorts: beer, pies, etc., and took him for walks. He was a friendly dog and was loved by everyone. He started to follow the sailors around the base and the docks and eventually onto the ships themselves – HMS Neptune was to become his favourite vessel. Only thing was, he chose his spot to lie down at the top of the gangplank, making boarding the vessel difficult, eliciting “You’re just a nuisance!” from the sailors.
He regularly followed the off-duty seamen on their jaunts to Cape Town, 22miles and 27 stations north of Simon’s Town. But he knew exactly where he was going. The conductor was not sympathetic and put the dog off at the next station. Undeterred, the dog would just board the next train. Sometimes people even offered to pay his fare, but a stream of complaints was sent to Mr Chaney, demanding that he controlled his dog’s movements. It was only when the railway threatened to have the dog put down that, due to the massive outcry from the sailors and other people who have come to know Just Nuisance, that the Commander-in-Chief decided to enlist him into the Royal Navy, making him one of the world’s most famous dogs.
He was enlisted on August 25th, 1939, his first name became “Just”, his trade “Bone Crusher” and his religion “Scrounger” later upgraded to Canine Divinity League – Anti-Vivisection, for the rations. His duties seemed to have been self-imposed. He didn’t like his friends to squabble and he made sure they got home to barracks after a night in the pub.
Just Nuisance was more than just a dog. He did much for the morale of the sailors in the Second World War, but he was no angel. His rap sheet was long and distinguished, including offenses like going AWOL, traveling on the trains without his free pass, sleeping in the petty officer’s bed and refusing to leave a pub at closing time.
RIP Just Nuisance
Nuisance was involved in a traffic accident on January 1, 1944 which left him with thrombosis which slowly paralyzed him and on April 1, 1944, 7 years after he was born, he was put to sleep at the Simon’s Town Naval Hospital. The next day he was buried with full military honors that included a gun salute and a lone bugle’s rendition of The Last Post, on top of Red Hill.
He is not forgotten, though. His legend lives on at the Simon’s Town Museum, where his official papers, his collar and many photos of him are on display. They even run a look-alike competition yearly, ensuring that the legend of Able Seaman Just Nuisance R.N. continue for a few years to come.
Assumptions are invariably incorrect. Yet, people will stick with what they believe. Just as Rubi believed herself to be married for six years, until it was proven that she’d never been married at all. Finding herself a free agent again after years of waiting for her elusive husband, Rubi needed a man.
Upset by the echoes of her sordid past, Nathan walked into her life at precisely the right moment. Handsome, hot, and gay, he could only be a temporary distraction, or so she assumed. But what she didn’t take into account was that Nathan might have other plans for her. Even so, she wanted the real thing—a relationship, stability, and love—and Nathan couldn’t give that to her. Or so she assumed.
To prove her wrong about him, he abducted her and took her to the place where they first met, at Dane and Eloise’s wedding the week before. Back at the lodge, they find themselves in the same haunted room. Between the ghosts and Rubi’s insistence that he is gay, would Nathan succeed in changing her perception of him?
To add to her doubts, there’s also the matter of a certain secret he’s not ready to share.
Clothes aren’t part of the human body, so how can it be part of the spirit of the deceased we see as ghosts? Because we see ghosts as wearing clothes, that might be proof to those who don’t believe in ghosts that they are no more than a figment of the imagination of those that do.
The famous picture from The Shining
In life, the energy inside a person is called his spirit or soul, which is at the basis of the personality. Science can’t prove the existence of the soul/personality, but we all know it exist. So, why can’t this energy exist outside the body once the person dies?If this is possible, this electromagnetic energy we know as the soul or spirit, that also contains the personality, is what we see as ghosts. In a lot of instances, what we see is no more than a cloudy, formless apparition, but when the ghosts appear as wearing clothes, they are identifiable as human.
This electromagnetic energy is precisely the grounds for the skeptic to disprove the existence of ghosts. Scientific experiments have shown, after all, that exposure to high levels of electromagnetic energy can cause people to have vivid dreams, nightmares and even hallucinations, and because ghosts are accepted to consist of electromagnetic energy, ghost sightings are no more that tricks of an exposed mind, right?
But if ghosts are no more than energy, why do they need clothes? Most of the ghosts seen wearing clothing are simply “residual” images – imprints or memories that linger on the atmosphere of a place, like a recording. This type of ghost doesn’t have a “personality”, but is simply like an old movie playing over and over.
In other words, people are seeing clothes because they have been conditioned that people wear clothes. The clothes aren’t necessary to the ghost, but our brains process them as clothed in order to class them as ‘human’.
The London Ghost
And what about the other type of ghosts, the spirits who remained behind after death, the ones who aren’t merely imprints of past events? If spirits have any sort of control over the energy they are now comprised of (or even if their personalities are somehow manifested in the energy), then I would think it possible for the witness to see the spirit as the spirit sees itself. If the personality really does remain, the spirit would visualize itself as it was when alive, appearing as a living person and wearing clothing. The ghost might even make the person see what the ghost wants them to see.The clothes aren’t real either. When the ghost disappears, the clothes are gone too.
The ghosts in the Bridesmaids, Weddings & Honeymoons series are residual ghosts up to book 3 – You’re Wrong (which will be released in June). The clothes they’re seen in dates them to a certain period in the past, although they are like a recording on a loop. From book 4, the ghosts themselves change and become more interactive – and dangerous! – but still they are seen in clothes of the same period.
So, what do you think? Are the clothes ghosts are seen in a preconception or a part of the reflection of the person the ghost used to be
Have you ever wondered where the fear of the number 13 came from? I mean, some people consider 13 to be unlucky to the extent that they refuse to stay in room 13 in a hotel, the 13th floor in buildings are omitted, and there are those who would not get out of bed on Friday, the 13th.
What is it about a number that has people in such a knot? The term for the fear of the number 13 is trikaidekaphobia. Bad association linked to the number 13 in history are worth looking at.
The Mercedes-Benz carrying Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed on the night of 31st August 1997, had hit the 13th pillar of Pont de l’Alma at a speed of 105 km/h, killing both the Princess of Wales and her companion.
‘Saddam Hussein’ contain 13 letters (S,A,D,D,A,M,H,U,S,S,E,I,N) and was captured on 13 th December, 2003.
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on the 113th flight of the shuttle.
Thirteen is significant to Christians because it is the number of people who were present at the Last Supper (Jesus and his 12 apostles). Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th member of the party to arrive.
The bad luck associated with the number 13 might be linked to the ancient Norse culture. In Norse mythology, the hero Balder was killed at a banquet by the mischievous god Loki, who crashed the party of twelve, bringing the group to 13. This story, as well as the story of the Last Supper, led to one of the most entrenched 13-related beliefs: never have a meal in a group of 13, or one will die within the year.
Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet, so he couldn’t count higher than 12. 13 and beyond was a mystery to prehistoric men. The unknown was to be feared.
(Didn’t it occur to them to use their toes as well? If for no other reason but to make them less fearful.)
Throughout history, Fridays seemed to have had a bad rep.
In the Garden of Eden Eve tempted Adam with forbidden fruit on a Friday and they were thrown out of paradise.
The Great Flood is said to have started on a Friday and,
the builders of the Tower of Babel were struck dumb on a Friday.
Christ was crucified on a Friday
In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman’s Day in Britain)
but in other pre-Christian cultures Friday was the sabbath, a day of worship and became known in the Middle Ages as the “Witches’ Sabbath”.
Tradition warns against changing your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams. Also, if you cut your nails on Friday, you will have reason to cry. And if you start a trip on Friday, or you will encounter misfortune. Friday was not the day to start anything, because you would only reap bad luck.
Now combine the two into the fear of Friday the 13th, and many would expect a double whammy of bad luck.
Where did the superstition around Friday the 13th come from? It’s just a number that is only divisible by itself, and an ordinary day at the end of the week. It is an irrational phobia for which there is no real explanation. The term for the fear of Friday the 13th is friggatriskaidekaphobia, Frigg being the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after.
As with most superstitions, people fear Friday the 13th for its own sake, without any need for background information.The superstition does have deep, compelling roots, however, and the origins help explain why the belief is so widespread today.
One theory, as posed by Dan Brown in his novel The Da Vinci Code, resulted from a historic event 700 odd years ago. The Knights Templar, the order of “warrior monks” during the time of the Christian Crusades to combat Islam, had grown so powerful that kings and popes saw then as a political threat, so much so that the Templars were massacred on Friday, October 13, 1307 by the French king.
On that note, I would like to ask a question of those who are superstitious about Friday the 13th, could you name one think bad that has ever happened to you an that much maligned of days?
Eloise had the wedding of her dreams—all arranged and finalized within a month.
Now that the wedding night was upon her, her fears reared their ugly heads. Dane, her new husband was really a stranger to her. In hindsight, Eloise realized she shouldn’t have insisted they wait for their wedding night to have sex. It wasn’t that she was inordinately traditional, only that Dane should have been given a choice in the matter.
Because Eloise had a secret.
Dane and Eloise left for the beautiful Maldives on a two week honeymoon. In this idyllic setting, life threw her a curve ball.
Because Dane had a secret, too.
She would have put up with a number of things, but this particular secret could shatter her belief in fairytale weddings.