HOW TO CALL A GHOST.
Want to get in touch with a ghost? Maybe there's a departed friend or family member you want to call, or a dead rock star, or maybe some ancient emperor with whom you'd like a chat. Whatever your motivation, you're not alone. Numerous ways have been devised for contacting the dead. While we can't speak to the effectiveness of any particular technique, here are a few of the methods people have cooked up over the centuries for reaching those on the Other Side.
1. A medium. This is the classic approach, used at least since Biblical times. Find yourself a witch/sorcerer/necromancer who claims the ability to speak with the dead. Be wary when picking your medium, because this is a relatively easy thing to fake. Anyone can claim to receive messages from the souls of the no-longer-incarnate. Fakers will start with vague comments that could apply to anyone: “Do you know a male who has died? No? I meant female, female. Someone with the letter 'a' in their name? No, wait, I meant 'e.'”
Be sure to get references for your prospective medium, and ask those other clients about their experiences. If you hear something like “It was great! He knew I had a male relative with the letter 'a' in his name!” then it might be time to move on. Also check your medium's credentials with the Better Psychics Bureau, and read their reviews on Yelp, Google, Craigslist or wherever you found this person.
A bad medium will make everything up. An excellent medium may come up with more information than you're ready to handle. What you really want is to go between these extremes—find a medium medium.
2. A Ouija board. Invented centuries ago in (mumbledy-mumble), the Ouija board remains one of the most popular ways to contact the dead, especially if you're at a middle school slumber party. Several people put their fingers on a planchette, which picks out letters and numbers one by one to spell out messages from beyond. Simple answers like “Yes,” “No,” and “Goodbye” can also be selected, which really speeds things along. One good thing about the Ouija board is that it's kind of a fun party game. One negative thing is that you can contact demons who possess you and your friends and make you do horrific and violent things, before finally slaughtering you. So it's a little bit of a mixed bag.
If you decide that a plastic-coated sheet of cardboard from Parker Brothers just doesn't scream “magical and mystical,” you can make your own Ouija board at home. Consider using posterboard, or even write out all the letters and numbers on individual pieces of paper, in spooky calligraphy if possible. A simple wineglass or small juice glass, turned upside down, can be your pointer. Homemade Ouija boards are cheaper, but may increase your risk of violent demonic possession. Consider whether you'd prefer to save a few bucks or save your soul from being eaten by a horde of fallen angels.
3. Electronic devices and such. Some people claim that a tape recorder is one good way to pick up messages from the dead. Set up overnight inside a haunted house, or next to the grave of the person you wish to contact. Ask your questions several times. When the sun rises, stop recording. Spend weeks sifting through the static on your tape (or digital audio file) listening for hints of a voice answering your question. This is great fun and doesn't get old fast. For a little variety, try a video camera instead, so at least you'll have something to watch while you sift. If you're lucky, you'll catch an image of a ghost, and everyone will accuse you of faking it.
4. Afterlife Calling Card – Sometimes you can find people selling these on the street or at the flea market. Allegedly, they allow you to make phone calls to people on The Other Side. A plus: you can call from the convenience of your cell phone. A minus: roaming charges. These calling cards tend to be extremely expensive and are not known to actually work.
5. DIY. Make up your own way of contacting the dead. You might consider laying out wet paint to see if the ghost steps in it and leaves tracks. Note: if the tracks are small, round and paw-shaped, it was probably just your cat. Bathe your cat's feet immediately before he licks the paint.
In the comments below, you might let us know how you might contact the dead, if you were so inclined. Commenting within seven days enters you for The Haunted E-book Tour Grand Prizes, including The Haunted Library and a Kindle (or two!).
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J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He is the author of five novels and one short-story collection. His new novel is The Haunted E-book.
The sequel to his novel Jenny Pox will be available by summer 2011.