Children’s psychic experiences can be both the most poetic and the most frightening.
According to the reports I get, the average ghost sighting is a completely visual experience. Other sensory phenomena – sounds, moving objects, even electrical effects – are almost never involved. The images reported are of adult people, children, shadows, and even animals. The experience lasts only a few seconds if that long and almost never has any deeper meaning or connection beyond a simple sighting. The images appear and then they go away. Some reports are different.
The people I interview are usually so alarmed by the experience of witnessing any kind of apparition that they are unimpressed by features that could make the event even stranger. I keep my antennae up for those indiscrepancies.
In the last week of October I received a series of e-mails from a concerned mother whose little girl had a friend no one else could see. Her mother presumed at first that this “friend” was totally imaginary. The little girl’s rendition of the being was so complete and consistent over the course of the year that the mother came to consider it a ghost, probably that of a former occupant of the hilly fields and wooded land around their home. The fact that this apparition may have been personified – having character and personality – and developed a relationship with the girl made it seem more than that. The apparition was also strangely small, and a bit creepy, actually one of four reports of “little people” that have surfaced recently, seemingly by chance, about the Town of Aurora in Erie County, NY.
All these “little people” sightings came within the framework of the ghost report. The witnesses thought they were seeing ghosts and had to be prodded to comment on the size of both the adult and child-images they observed. They seemed surprised themselves to recall the unnaturally small forms.
It’s natural that they would at first think of these apparitions as simple ghosts, too, since two of the reports – at Goodleberg Cemetery in the Town of Wales and the basement of the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora – came from locally famous haunted sites to which people with active imaginations often go expecting to see ghosts. One that I’ve known about for two years dated from the 1980s and took place by an old former funeral home in East Aurora (by which the likewise-imaginative might anticipate psychic activity).
You could write a book on Goodleberg alone if you were interested to. All sorts of apparitions are reported up there, among which child-ghosts and related effects are prominent. When someone recently reported seeing a child-ghost playing peek-a-boo from behind one of the few stones that are left it came out that he was surreally small. Likewise with the reports from the Roycroft Inn basement, which may be the images of five-year-olds, but only half normal size. The images reported by the old funeral home in East Aurora were Peter-Pan sorts – “eternal children” – child-size and aspect but with adult and even supernatural savvy. The phantom friend mentioned in the recent e-mails may have been an adult, even an old farmer; but he was no bigger than the size of the now-four-year-old witness.
Taken together these reports touch a number of psychic/folkloric bases – ghost children, Little People, and imaginary friends – that are almost always thought to be in separate categories. A number of thoughts come to me.
[Stay with us for Part 2 in a couple days.]