The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD.                 295
naturally belong to the real spirit of a man, or to an embodied thought of a man.
The salient characteristics which seem to belong to all ghosts, and which pertain to the question under consideration, are these :
The ghosts which are best authenticated and which seem to possess the greatest longevity, so to speak, that is, the greatest persistency of power and purpose, are of those who have died violent deaths. There are exceptions to this rule, which will be noted later on.
The generally accepted theory which has been employed to account for this coincidence is that the soul, thus torn suddenly and prematurely from the body, retains more of the material elements of the body than it does when death is the result of gradual disintegration and the natural separation of the material from the immaterial. It is thought that the physical elements thus retained temporarily by the spirit enable it to make itself visible to the living, as well as to perform certain feats of physical strength attributed to some spirits. This is very plausible at first glance, and in the absence of any facts to the contrary might be accepted as the true theory. But, as before intimated, there are exceptions to the supposed rule. It is not true that all ghosts are those of persons who have died violent deaths. On the contrary, many of the best authenticated ghosts are of persons who have died at a good old age and in the due course of nature. Moreover, there is nothing to distinguish the one class of ghosts from the other, although it is true that those who have met death by violence far outnumber the others. This theory, therefore, accounts for nothing. Nevertheless, the fact that the majority of ghosts are of those who belong to a particular class must possess some significance. Now, if we can discover some state of facts which appears to accompany all, or to precede all, ghostly phenomena, a great point will be gained, and the real significance of the other facts may become apparent.
In looking the field over with this end in view, the first