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What is the Orthodox Position on Ghosts?

PoorFoolNicholas

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Heorhij said:
Different expressions of one common philosophy, Gnosticism, - no?
Not necessarily. Could someone perhaps give me quotes from the book pertaining to ghosts? Anyone?
 

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I am getting the feeling that while many of us have our opinions, no one actually knows the official view of the Orthodox Church.
 

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Thomas said:
That book does not have anything about the occult and ghosts
I'm not sure there ARE any quotes in it about what you're looking for.

Placing aside any situations that can be explained naturally (bumps in the night, for example), I spoke to my priest about this matter when I was converting, and this is what he told me:

When a human dies, their soul goes to Paradise. Of course, due to God's burning love, this is either considered to be Heaven for those who embrace him or Hell for those who reject him; nobody is placed into Hell with Satan until the Final Judgement, but we don't even know if anyone will be condemned at that point either. So, there are no "demon" human spirits, just as there are no spirits that become angels.

All souls leave the earth upon death, and nobody is stuck in a limbo. Perhaps during the Old Testament it might have happened, but Jesus' resurrection freed all souls from whatever captivity they were in. Saints and angels may come to visit the Earth, as well as demons, and thus whenever the feeling is enlightening or joyful it would most likely be an angel or a saint (perhaps the soul of a loved one, though there is some debate as to whether they can travel back to Earth after death), but if the feeling is one of horror, then it is most likely a demon.

 

PoorFoolNicholas

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RLNM said:
I am getting the feeling that while many of us have our opinions, no one actually knows the official view of the Orthodox Church.
That was the feeling I was getting...
 

serb1389

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RLNM said:
I am getting the feeling that while many of us have our opinions, no one actually knows the official view of the Orthodox Church.
Well...i'm pretty sure that none of the ecumenical councils dealt with ghosts, as I am pretty sure that would have been considered pagan, or in the realm of spiritually. 

So then the next source is the Fathers.  Again we run into the same problem.  I would guess (assume) that none of them talk about ghosts directly.  However, some talk about spirits in the sense of demons (ie. St. Anthony and etc.) and other talk about spirits in the sense of the HS and differences thereof (ie St. Basil = on the HS and etc.). 

Sources beyond that tend to get cryptic.  I believe that if you have a solid understanding of what spirits are = angels, then you are all set to have a good mindset on this.  Also a good understanding of death and resurrection is helpful in order to understand how the soul separates from the body and what the church teaches about this. 

Anything beyond that is up to God.  If something happens to you like what Shultz described...then you should go to confession and find out what is involved.  If the priest says it was harmless then chalk it up to phenomenon.  Which means that it's phenomenon and you can't understand it or describe it.  Hence the term phenomenon. 
 

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Nicholas,

My mother, who has always been sensitive to things unseen, wouldn't allow my sister and brother-in-law to buy a house they took her to see when they were house shopping. She doesn't believe in ghosts (neither do I) but she just intuitively knew that evil things had happened in that particular home. In any case, it is always a good idea to have your apartment, condo, home etc. blessed by an Orthodox priest regardless. When we moved into our home (it is a sixty year old place), we heard from our next door neighbor that many families of all varieties had lived there over the last fifty years. When our priest came to bless it the first time he did a special blessing since it was a new home for us. He blessed each corner and wall. Since then we have our home blessed yearly. I do believe in evil spirits and I don't want any of them making a hornet's nest where we live.

sincerely, Tamara
 

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PoorFoolNicholas said:
Not necessarily. Could someone perhaps give me quotes from the book pertaining to ghosts? Anyone?
Sadly, Nicholas, I have read Father Seraphims Rose's book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, several years ago  having checked it our from a Parish Library in another Town. I remember he addressed aoccultism and spiritualism in the book, as well as America's fascination with eastern (Hindu) mysticism, but I don't own the book to  quote  from.  Perhaps a member of your local parish may have a copy or your parish library?

Thomas
 

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Quote from: Thomas on May 01, 2008, 08:58:57 AM
Sadly, Nicholas, I have read Father Seraphims Rose's book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, several years ago  having checked it our from a Parish Library in another Town. I remember he addressed aoccultism and spiritualism in the book, as well as America's fascination with eastern (Hindu) mysticism, but I don't own the book to  quote  from.  Perhaps a member of your local parish may have a copy or your parish library?

Thomas


Why is it sad that you have read Fr. Seraphim's Book? 

Answer: Sadly.... I don't own the book to quote from to give you your answer.  Sorry about the ambiguity of my response.

Thomas
 

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Does the orthodox Church admit the possibility of ghost?  I am especially thinking of the Greek Orthodox since they, unlike the Russians, do not subscribe to the "Toll House" belief but instead believe that people are purified in an intermediary state after death.  This is sort of like the "Purgatory" of the Franks except that you do not suffer purifying fires to purge your sins.

My question is, is it possible that the state that this state would involve your soul being trapped on Earth for a period of time, either by that souls choice or by God's will?  Would this perhaps be a form of purifying, especially for people who have too much worldly attachments to things of this life?  The prayers of the Church help them to break free of the prism they are trapped in and find peace with God?

This would greatly explain all those people who see ghost or have them in their houses but they are not malevolent. 
 

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I heard that it is evil spirits instead of souls or ghost that haunt a place ,,,
souls leave about 40 days after death ,,they visit places they knew in life and things are revealed
like the purpose of life... Some one mentioned this to me how true or false it is.. I'm not sure though....
just repeating what was told to me...
 

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There is a book I once read when I was RC, written by a certain Fr Michael J. Taylor, on the subject of Purgatory. In one passage he states that (I'm freely translating from the Italian text, so forgive me):
"Pope Gregory the Great (+604) affirmed with great energy the faith in the existence of Purgatory, persuading Christians with the force of his writings. As authoritative sources in the past had already done, he underlined the value of prayers from the living in support to the dead, and pushed the faithful to that practice. He alimented in the believers the awareness of the terrible effects of their guilts, admonishing that, if forgiveness can remove sin from the soul, anyway it can't wipe out those rests of egotism that lead man towards evil: only acts of pure love, thus, gradually obtain the full ransom from iniquity. Expiation of every egotistic action, when never repaired in the course of earthly life, shall be absolved in the afterlife. Dying again as prisoners of egotism, where shall our work of reparation be fulfilled?
Gregory doesn't always define with clarity the way and the scenary of this process, yet he seems to assign as the most appropriate see for expiation the same place where sins have been committed: the souls of sinners, thus, should come back to earth to complete this necessary work."
I marked in bold the sentence supporting this view I consider very similar to that expressed in the OP. Anyway, this RC author doesn't directly quote any passage from Pope Gregory I, and at the moment can't find any trace of this belief with my resources. If anyone could contribute and find out, that would be an interesting (and original) approach to the problem of "life after death". And of course a question comes (if this author is proved reliable): why do Roman Catholics insist on the imagery of fire for purgatory, when the Pope they ordinarily quote as infallible authority on purgatory explained it as a ghostly descent of the dead on earth as well?

In Christ,    Alex



MODERATION:  Rude reference to Roman Catholics replaced with something more appropriate...  -PtA
 

AlexanderOfBergamo

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stashko said:
I heard that it is evil spirits instead of souls or ghost that haunt a place ,,,
souls leave about 40 days after death ,,they visit places they knew in life and things are revealed
like the purpose of life... Some one mentioned this to me how true or false it is.. I'm not sure though....
just repeating what was told to me...
I read similar things when approaching the toll-houses theory. I think this theory, based on the visions of some great mystics of the First Millennium, said that the soul surrounds his own body for three days after his death, and then is taken away by angels to be processed in the next 37 days of judgment (which totals 40 days). Anyway, I never heard of visiting places where they had sinned, at least not in the texts I read.

In Christ,  Alex
 

stashko

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AlexanderOfBergamo said:
stashko said:
I heard that it is evil spirits instead of souls or ghost that haunt a place ,,,
souls leave about 40 days after death ,,they visit places they knew in life and things are revealed
like the purpose of life... Some one mentioned this to me how true or false it is.. I'm not sure though....
just repeating what was told to me...
I read similar things when approaching the toll-houses theory. I think this theory, based on the visions of some great mystics of the First Millennium, said that the soul surrounds his own body for three days after his death, and then is taken away by angels to be processed in the next 37 days of judgment (which totals 40 days). Anyway, I never heard of visiting places where they had sinned, at least not in the texts I read.

In Christ,   Alex
I think it was Fr.Miroslav that mentioned this to me...For forty days they have freedom to roam the earth or the universe to see all of Gods creation, not just the places that they visited in life..After that they go to the place where all souls go to....
 

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Dear Friends,

As a priest, I have dealt with several 'preternatural' incidents, one including what one could call a ghost.  As a result, I did quite a bit of reading, and, more importantly, phoned my Bishop about the matter.

Let's not forget the Trisagion Prayers offered for the dead on a regular basis, including the Friday Night Service for the Departed (I use the version in the St. Tikhon's Press <i>Book of Needs</i>.  These services assume the possibility that a soul is not 'at rest.'  After all, the prayers would be rather out-of-place if there was a hard, 40-earth-day time period for the soul to make its journey.  There is also a very informative book, <i>Eternal Mysteries From Beyond the Grave</i>, published by Jordanville.  I recommend reading through all of these.

Then, personal experience has been the best teacher.  In the case of this 'manifestation' I was dealing with, numerous (6+) witnesses independently heard noises that could not be attributed to any physical explanation.  As a skeptic, I witnessed the activity which often occurred in broad daylight.  Several exorcism prayers were read, then the Blessing of Water.  No effect.  I was advised that it may be a soul seeking prayer, and my readings confirmed that this type of phenomenon is generally attributed by Church of Rome theologians as souls in purgatory seeking intercession, though Orthodox tend to class them as souls 'not at rest.'

I then offered an Akathist for the Departed, during which the noises began to correspond to the prayers, not interfering but seemingly to affirm our prayers.  The service was held numerous times afterward, and the phenomenon stopped.  When the prayers ceased, the noises came back after a few weeks.  We started back up with the prayers, and everything has been quiet since then.  All of this was done with the informed consent of the Bishop.  I cannot underemphasize the importance of obedience as a spiritual shield against the darts of the enemy.

We live in a society where even many Orthodox Christians no longer pray for the dead.  Years ago, every Divine Liturgy would end with one or more Trisagia (I know we are not supposed to offer them on Sunday, but common parish practice and the expectation of many is to have them then).  Today, I am asked perhaps once a month.  If you are not Orthodox, the chances that anyone will pray for you after death is slim-to-none.  I think 'ghost stories' amongst the Orthodox are much rarer because we do pray a great deal more for the dead.

In approaching a 'haunting,' my advice is to work with the clergy and treat it with a great deal of skepticism.  First, seek a physical explanation.  Second, treat it as possible demonic activity.  Third, after exorcism prayers have been tried, then offer prayer for the departed.  All should be done with a priest in communication with other clergy and, most especially, the Bishop.  No not attempt to communicate with the dead, nor do anything the dead ask beyond prayers for its passing to the place of rest.

All of this presupposes you are dealing with an 'intelligent' haunting which interacts with people.  Some types of haunting are called 'residual' which are more like fragments of memories left behind.  For example, a gentleman in my parish stated that in his 500+ year old church back home, you could sometimes hear chanting when all was quiet.  His father used to sit in the church late at night to listen to it.  These types of hauntings, when they are negative, usually require lots of prayer to 'erase' the negative memory.  I recall being on a military base where a German soldiers were often seen milling about, but they never interacted with the guards.  They were memories of when the base was a Nazi facility during WWII.  I believe, eventually, those memories will fade.
 

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Thank you for the kind replies.  The Orthodox concept of the state of the soul after death seems to correspond to the stories of ghost and restless spirits that one hears.  It is unfortunate that so many souls seem to wander the Earth with no rest or peace.  Who prayers for their repose if they are not Orthodox?

Is it permissible to pray for the repose of a non Orthodox soul in Church with a Parastas or Liturgy?

 

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Robb said:
Is it permissible to pray for the repose of a non Orthodox soul in Church with a Parastas or Liturgy?
No. To use a rough analogy, it's like allowing non-Orthodox people to receive communion in an Orthodox church. But one is completely free to pray in one's private prayers for anyone, living or deceased, Orthodox or non-Orthodox.
 

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LBK said:
Robb said:
Is it permissible to pray for the repose of a non Orthodox soul in Church with a Parastas or Liturgy?
No. To use a rough analogy, it's like allowing non-Orthodox people to receive communion in an Orthodox church. But one is completely free to pray in one's private prayers for anyone, living or deceased, Orthodox or non-Orthodox.
Some priests will do it all the same. Their argument is that after death the deceased has received a great influx of new understanding and knowledge.  A lot has taken place in terms of spiritual enlightenment.  In effect he or she has become Orthodox and is of course in need of prayer just as much as anyone who was Orthodox on earth.  There are no boundaries in the afterlife between those who were Orthodox and those who were not.
 

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Someone (could have been Elder Paisios) said that 'a body without a soul, is a dead body and a soul without a body, is a ghost'. This is probably correct, but -from the way we define ghosts today- the term only stands for the first 40 days after one's death.
You can hear millions of stories about ghosts of dead people, but I believe that it's all evil spirits that do the job. And they're quite good at it, since they have convinced almost everyone, haha.
 

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Father, thank you very much for sharing your experience. It certainly answers several questions of my own.
 

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GammaRay said:
Someone (could have been Elder Paisios) said that 'a body without a soul, is a dead body and a soul without a body, is a ghost'. This is probably correct, but -from the way we define ghosts today- the term only stands for the first 40 days after one's death.
You can hear millions of stories about ghosts of dead people, but I believe that it's all evil spirits that do the job. And they're quite good at it, since they have convinced almost everyone, haha.
Dear Gamma,

I suppose you can believe what you would like, but I hope you will have a more open mind when it comes to actual experience. 

I shared your opinion, but only up until I did numerous exorcisms without any effect one way or the other on a particular case.  Now, as an Orthodox Christian and having already had some contact with the demonic, I was puzzled why exorcisms did not work.  After speaking to several experts within and outside the Church, I was told exorcisms are (and a careful reading brought this to light) for demonic spirits.  If the spirit is not demonic, they simply have no effect because we are asking God to remove a demon rather than a human spirit.  When I switched the prayers, there was a very different outcome, as I had been advised.

Most experts agree that human spirits are not involuntarily confined.  They choose to remain or return.  They are generally not permitted to directly speak, but they can make their presence known and can even move small objects.  They must be persuaded to leave rather than forcibly expelled like demons can be, much as we would not use an exorcism to remove a trespasser.  Prayers for their passing are the most effective, but sometimes you have to declare to them that they are not welcome.  In most cases they back down.

I know of no cases where they have done any harm beyond spooking folks.  So, there you go...

At least we aren't discussing centaurs... :)
 

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I am an American Civil War Re-enactor. I encountered two "Ghosts" watching an artillery duel on an original battlefield site several years ago.

It was at the Cedar Mountain Battlefiled in Virgina, first week of August ( very very very hot). I had been caught between batteries of artillery putting on a demonstration ( I had gone into town and forgot it was scheduled). The ground was coming up all around me from planted explosives ( Reenactment Artillery doesn't fire real shells, just the gun powder and then a charge is set off where the shell would have landed....that is where I was ).

When I got back to camp after crawling through all this, I saw two Federal Soldiers wearing their winter great coats watching the demonstration. It was very odd that they were in their heavy coats ( I still have no idea why except sometimes dead soldiers were buried in their heavy coats)

I excitedly went up to them to tell them of my little adventure, getting caught in the middle of the artillery duel. When I went up to their backs and spoke, they.. sort of.. floated around
( not turned around with their feet and legs)..They were clearly not among the living. They were "ephemeral" ( no faces, etc.). Immediately I backed away and apologized profusely.

Okay..you say..so what.. Just my imagination maybe... Until

The next day I went to the tent of someone in my unit to wake him up ( he was only 15 so I had baby sitting duty). He was already up and looking very poorly. I said:

"Glenn, you look like ( expletive deleted). Whats wrong?"

He said: "Did you see those two guys?"  ( Keep in mind there were about 6,000 re-enactors in that camp)

I replied: "Yeah, I saw them"

Glenn said: I woke up and went out of my tent to relive myself and I saw them. I got scared and went right back into the tent and I have been up all night. They sat all night long on two chairs on the company street ( the ave. between pup tents).

He didn't have to explain at all. There were over 6,000 soldiers in that camp but all he needed to say was "Did you see those two guys?"

May God rest their souls.
 

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So this is what happens to you when you die?  You become a ghost and wander the Earth without rest?  Do individual spirits choose to do this or are they commanded to by God?  I suppose it beats going to Hell for all eternity but it does sound depressing.


 

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Robb said:
So this is what happens to you when you die?  You become a ghost and wander the Earth without rest?  Do individual spirits choose to do this or are they commanded to by God?  I suppose it beats going to Hell for all eternity but it does sound depressing.
There is lots of speculation, especially from New Age types. They may just be echos or imprints of a lost life, not the actual soul or spirit.. I dunno, it's best not to think about it too hard.

My Uncle tells a story of when he was fighting in Italy during WW 2. He was in the battle of Monte Casino. It rained for weeks on end. Our troops were in trenches a the bottom of the mountain and were suffering greatly. He swears that his grandfather ( my great grandfather) came each night an sat with him to keep him company while he took his shift on guard duty.......  Who knows ???  He swears to it.
 

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Robb said:
So this is what happens to you when you die?  You become a ghost and wander the Earth without rest?  Do individual spirits choose to do this or are they commanded to by God?  I suppose it beats going to Hell for all eternity but it does sound depressing.
Well, not that I particularly want to get into ghost stories, but 'ghosts' are extremely rare when you factor in the total population all who have died.  You must also recall that I couched my comments in that apparitions are voluntary in nature, as in those who do not want to pass completely into the 'place of spiritual rest.'  Since we do not believe heaven and hell are places so much as conditions (though they are often indicated in patristic sources as 'directions,' which have all sorts of interesting implications), we can say that the spiritual world is not utterly divorced from the material world.  Even heaven and hell are given close proximity in the end of Isaiah and in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

All that being said, one could ascertain that those not utterly condemned, being in the Freedom of Christ, may choose either to manifest themselves to the living for the purposes of edification (i.e. asking for prayers or even consoling the living, which has been described in several lives of Saints) or even visit places they are familiar with.  Perhaps the activity of cannon fire drew the attention of a couple of vets who returned to the field to see what was going on.  I don't think it has to be a dreary thing.

One recent experience described to me has to do with a firehouse converted into a museum.  The night watchman often heard ball games in the corridors.  When he would come to investigate, he would find the ball still in motion (the balls and other toys were kept for children to entertain themselves while parents take tours or attend events).  Other times, he would enter a restroom to find left-overs of a toilet paper fight right after the janitor had finished cleaning the restroom.  As a retired fireman, he recognized the behavior as typical hi jinx in firehouses he had served in.  In essence, old firemen would apparently come back and play around in the station house.  He learned to ignore it, and they went on without seeking his attention.

Now, this is not theological, but apparitions tend to occur when their are major disturbances to the physical surroundings.  I know of several cases of apparitions occurring when building renovations were going on, as if the dead were annoyed that their 'favorite place' was being messed with.  This may lend itself to the idea that the dead can visit places post-mortem, though not for any other reason than they want to.  None of this has been specifically condemned or affirmed by the Church, and so what I am saying is certainly open to further speculation until the Church speaks definitively on the matter.

 

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Marc1152 said:
Robb said:
So this is what happens to you when you die?  You become a ghost and wander the Earth without rest?  Do individual spirits choose to do this or are they commanded to by God?  I suppose it beats going to Hell for all eternity but it does sound depressing.
There is lots of speculation, especially from New Age types. They may just be echos or imprints of a lost life, not the actual soul or spirit.. I dunno, it's best not to think about it too hard.

My Uncle tells a story of when he was fighting in Italy during WW 2. He was in the battle of Monte Casino. It rained for weeks on end. Our troops were in trenches a the bottom of the mountain and were suffering greatly. He swears that his grandfather ( my great grandfather) came each night an sat with him to keep him company while he took his shift on guard duty.......   Who knows ???  He swears to it.
Did you or your Uncle ever consider that it could of been his guardian angel in the form of his grandfather someone familiar so he wouldn't be frightened.....curious
 

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stashko said:
Marc1152 said:
Robb said:
So this is what happens to you when you die?  You become a ghost and wander the Earth without rest?  Do individual spirits choose to do this or are they commanded to by God?  I suppose it beats going to Hell for all eternity but it does sound depressing.
There is lots of speculation, especially from New Age types. They may just be echos or imprints of a lost life, not the actual soul or spirit.. I dunno, it's best not to think about it too hard.

My Uncle tells a story of when he was fighting in Italy during WW 2. He was in the battle of Monte Casino. It rained for weeks on end. Our troops were in trenches a the bottom of the mountain and were suffering greatly. He swears that his grandfather ( my great grandfather) came each night an sat with him to keep him company while he took his shift on guard duty.......   Who knows ???  He swears to it.
Did you or your Uncle ever consider that it could of been his guardian angel in the form of his grandfather someone familiar so he wouldn't be frightened.....curious
He did not and knowing him, would not.. But that is certainly possible to my own way of thinking. An Angel of Mercy sent to him for protection and consolation..
 
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I find this especially fascinating coming from a Father with experience in exorcisms.  I grew up hearing the "they're all demonic" explanation, but it doesn't seem to fit with hauntings that seem to be either benign or simply psychic impressions, not an actual spirit.

The funny thing, as I started reading this thread, "King of Pain" by the Police began playing on Pandora.  With the music and some of the lyrics, that sure is fitting.....


FatherGiryus said:
Dear Gamma,

I suppose you can believe what you would like, but I hope you will have a more open mind when it comes to actual experience. 

I shared your opinion, but only up until I did numerous exorcisms without any effect one way or the other on a particular case.  Now, as an Orthodox Christian and having already had some contact with the demonic, I was puzzled why exorcisms did not work.  After speaking to several experts within and outside the Church, I was told exorcisms are (and a careful reading brought this to light) for demonic spirits.  If the spirit is not demonic, they simply have no effect because we are asking God to remove a demon rather than a human spirit.  When I switched the prayers, there was a very different outcome, as I had been advised.

Most experts agree that human spirits are not involuntarily confined.  They choose to remain or return.  They are generally not permitted to directly speak, but they can make their presence known and can even move small objects.  They must be persuaded to leave rather than forcibly expelled like demons can be, much as we would not use an exorcism to remove a trespasser.  Prayers for their passing are the most effective, but sometimes you have to declare to them that they are not welcome.  In most cases they back down.

I know of no cases where they have done any harm beyond spooking folks.  So, there you go...

At least we aren't discussing centaurs... :)
 

PeterTheAleut

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OrthodoxFairyQueen said:
The funny thing, as I started reading this thread, "King of Pain" by the Police began playing on Pandora.  With the music and some of the lyrics, that sure is fitting.....
Weird. :-\  For some unknown reason, that song just popped into my head today, as well.
 

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Does the orthodox Church admit the possibility of ghost?
Cosmas of Aetolia has spoken about the possibility of vampires(or revenants, don't know which term is more proper), for which the laography speaks to us a lot of times. This, he says, is when a dead body is possesed by an evil spirit.

But, regarding ghosts, the answer is not an easy one. We know from the experience of Fathers and from the after-death experiences, that there is telonism of the Soul. And that our guardian-angel "picks up" our soul, which is us basically, and tries so that we walk through every kind of telonia which is evil spirits that defamate us in order to "win" our soul and prove we're sinners etc. There are times when the soul -as ordered by God- is not ready and needs to come back. Sometimes, this happens so that there are enough witnesses of all these and people.... have dramatically changed after all these. Two or three that I know became (Orthodox) monks...  :)

But I am not sure how there can be return of the soul itself, if it is not a saint or Theotokos, who return in order to help everyone they can. I know, for instance, that Elder Jacob of Euboea appeared at a photo that some visitor had taken at/of his desk... And of course when he took it, there was ...only (the Elder's) desk.  ;) :)
 

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philalethe00 said:
Does the orthodox Church admit the possibility of ghost?
But I am not sure how there can be return of the soul itself, if it is not a saint or Theotokos, who return in order to help everyone they can.
My priest has always given us the impression that all those in Paradise are considered Saints, though I'm not sure how common a belief this is.
 

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Simayan said:
philalethe00 said:
Does the orthodox Church admit the possibility of ghost?
But I am not sure how there can be return of the soul itself, if it is not a saint or Theotokos, who return in order to help everyone they can.
My priest has always given us the impression that all those in Paradise are considered Saints, though I'm not sure how common a belief this is.
Basically, Saint Apostle Paul calls every christian of his age a saint.  :) But this is not to be taken literally. Saints are at a radically different spiritual, mental, psychological state, which is the one of Christ.  :)
 

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Marc1152 said:
I am an American Civil War Re-enactor. I encountered two "Ghosts" watching an artillery duel on an original battlefield site several years ago.

It was at the Cedar Mountain Battlefiled in Virgina, first week of August ( very very very hot). I had been caught between batteries of artillery putting on a demonstration ( I had gone into town and forgot it was scheduled). The ground was coming up all around me from planted explosives ( Reenactment Artillery doesn't fire real shells, just the gun powder and then a charge is set off where the shell would have landed....that is where I was ).

When I got back to camp after crawling through all this, I saw two Federal Soldiers wearing their winter great coats watching the demonstration. It was very odd that they were in their heavy coats ( I still have no idea why except sometimes dead soldiers were buried in their heavy coats)

I excitedly went up to them to tell them of my little adventure, getting caught in the middle of the artillery duel. When I went up to their backs and spoke, they.. sort of.. floated around
( not turned around with their feet and legs)..They were clearly not among the living. They were "ephemeral" ( no faces, etc.). Immediately I backed away and apologized profusely.

Okay..you say..so what.. Just my imagination maybe... Until

The next day I went to the tent of someone in my unit to wake him up ( he was only 15 so I had baby sitting duty). He was already up and looking very poorly. I said:

"Glenn, you look like ( expletive deleted). Whats wrong?"

He said: "Did you see those two guys?"  ( Keep in mind there were about 6,000 re-enactors in that camp)

I replied: "Yeah, I saw them"

Glenn said: I woke up and went out of my tent to relive myself and I saw them. I got scared and went right back into the tent and I have been up all night. They sat all night long on two chairs on the company street ( the ave. between pup tents).

He didn't have to explain at all. There were over 6,000 soldiers in that camp but all he needed to say was "Did you see those two guys?"

May God rest their souls.

Not to make light of the situation, but I think the bolded text calls for a sarcastic "Way to go!" ;)


I have never seen any sort of apparition, but I've certainly seen things that I as a rationally minded skeptic cannot explain away.
 

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philalethe00 said:
Does the orthodox Church admit the possibility of ghost?
Cosmas of Aetolia has spoken about the possibility of vampires(or revenants, don't know which term is more proper), for which the laography speaks to us a lot of times. This, he says, is when a dead body is possesed by an evil spirit.

But, regarding ghosts, the answer is not an easy one. We know from the experience of Fathers and from the after-death experiences, that there is telonism of the Soul. And that our guardian-angel "picks up" our soul, which is us basically, and tries so that we walk through every kind of telonia which is evil spirits that defamate us in order to "win" our soul and prove we're sinners etc. There are times when the soul -as ordered by God- is not ready and needs to come back. Sometimes, this happens so that there are enough witnesses of all these and people.... have dramatically changed after all these. Two or three that I know became (Orthodox) monks...  :)

But I am not sure how there can be return of the soul itself, if it is not a saint or Theotokos, who return in order to help everyone they can. I know, for instance, that Elder Jacob of Euboea appeared at a photo that some visitor had taken at/of his desk... And of course when he took it, there was ...only (the Elder's) desk.  ;) :)
Well, there are a few issues here.

First, the canons address the topic of 'vampires' and necromancy, which were magical practices in the Roman Empire.  Obviously, there would be no canons if there was no problem with this, and these beliefs have moved into the modern age in Greece, where the lack of decomposition of an exhumed body is either indication of sainthood OR necromancy, which is why there is usually an exorcism performed on an undecomposed corpse (lest he or she was already known for his/her piety).

Second, the problem arises of exactly 'where' the soul goes.  St. Mark of Ephesis in his dialogs over Purgatory condemns the idea of Purgatory as a 'place.'  The Church generally rejects the idea of the spiritual world being a separate physical location.  Though we see the mentioning of souls moving up or down, one could say these are motions rather than locations.  We have to be very careful in not making a direct correlation between the spiritual world and our own.

Even the concept of telonia does not require a 'physical location' per St. Mark.  To say that it is here or there is simply not accurate according to the Holy Fathers.  While there are differing accounts of the presence or absence of telonia, what can be concluded is that details are sketchy at best.

For those who are still open-minded on the topic, there are some very interesting scholarly works here: http://www.doaks.org/publications/doaks_online_publications/DOP55.html

One that addresses this topic in more detail is here: http://www.doaks.org/publications/doaks_online_publications/DOP55/DP55ch06.pdf

It may very well be that God, being as loving and permissive as He is towards us, allows some degree of interpenetration between the spiritual realm and the physical realm.  Obviously, there appear to be some rules with exceptions.  Sometimes manifestations of the dead appear for the good of the living, while others for the good of the dead.  Others still appear to be simple visitations for for neither a malicious intent or a beneficial one. 

 

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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I used to believe that Ghosts were only demonic manifestations. But recently I have been reconsidering that belief. Perhaps Ghosts are real, because apparrently belief in their existence was common in the Judaic culture. For example, when the disciples saw Our Lord walking on the water they initially thought He was a Ghost or a spirit.

Can anyone tell me what Orthodoxy teaches regarding the issue of Ghosts?

Thank you.

Selam
 

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I don't think there is much discussion, as they would be a distraction: if they exist (which I at least think possible), so what?  What in our spirituality would their existence change?

Btw, if they exist, that doesn't prove life after death: they can be somewhat of a spiritual fingerprint, something left after someone has gone.
 

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ialmisry said:
I don't think there is much discussion, as they would be a distraction: if they exist (which I at least think possible), so what?  What in our spirituality would their existence change?

Btw, if they exist, that doesn't prove life after death: they can be somewhat of a spiritual fingerprint, something left after someone has gone.
I think it's an important issue because so many people today are obsessed with supernatural phenomenon. If what we perceive as Ghosts are actually demons, then a different response to them is necessary, such as exorcism. But if Ghosts are human spirits that are in transition, then these souls need our prayers.

Since we pray for the dead in Orthodoxy, I thought that perhaps this might indicate that Ghosts are real. I agree that these things can be distractions, and thus even more the reason to have a sound Orthodox theological understanding of the matter. It would be good to have solid Orthodox answers for those who are dabbling in the ocult and being led astray by an obsession with supernatural phenomenon.

Thanks Ialmisry.

Selam   
 

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FatherGiryus
First, what you refer to is true.

Second, I didn't know about this matter, I mean that the spiritual world before the Final Judgement is not situated -according to the Fathers- in a place that we supposedly know. I have read about after-life experiences -and Fr. Serapheim Rose had written about this-, and it seems that people referred to an ascent during which they saw a lot of people they knew -due to a supernatural "hypersense" they had as a free spirit- their dead body of course and so forth. But maybe this ascent is somewhat a metaphor, an allegory.

Finally, I profoundly thank you for all the important information.  It will be of use, by all means. :)
 

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
ialmisry said:
Btw, if they exist, that doesn't prove life after death: they can be somewhat of a spiritual fingerprint, something left after someone has gone.
I think it's an important issue because so many people today are obsessed with supernatural phenomenon. If what we perceive as Ghosts are actually demons, then a different response to them is necessary, such as exorcism. But if Ghosts are human spirits that are in transition, then these souls need our prayers.

Since we pray for the dead in Orthodoxy, I thought that perhaps this might indicate that Ghosts are real. I agree that these things can be distractions, and thus even more the reason to have a sound Orthodox theological understanding of the matter. It would be good to have solid Orthodox answers for those who are dabbling in the ocult and being led astray by an obsession with supernatural phenomenon.

Thanks Ialmisry.

Selam   
Very true Selam, it is important for the Church to give real answers to fascinations that can eventually turn into something evil (occultism).  Most often, individuals don't even realize exactly what they're dealing with.
 

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The spiritually healthy part of belief in "Ghosts" is belief that we survive death in some way. If you get to that point, a reasonable person will begin to reconsider if he is prepared for an after-life...

My wife and I had made a pact many years ago that if one of us died we would send a signal to the survivor that the deceased had survived death and was in the after-life.... It was a very personal thing that was to be done, a husband and wife sort of thing that would not occur normally.. I will spare you the details since it is rather personal..

A week or so after she passed... it happend.. In all truthfullness,  I had long forgotten about our pact and only when it had happend did I realize it was the signal we had agreed on....  I saw it, thanked her and then said..."Okay, do it again"... Two days later, it happend again.

From my standpoint there are only two possibilities..This could have been the work of a Demon just to mess with me in my grief or it is as it appears, a clear sign of survival of death and the existence of an after-life...

Please pray for my dear wife Isadora ( Dorie) on this the 3rd anniversary of her passing.. ( actually yesterday 8/8 )

Marc
 
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