What does Foey Man Geist

Ghosts, goblins and demons

Exuberance, noise and magic light fill the New Year's Eve, when the New Year begins.

It has to be loud and fire should burn that night to prevent the evil spirits from moving over into the new year. So it's tradition. To this day, for example at the Perchten runs in southern Bavaria and in the Salzburg region.

They are called "Smoke Nights", the twelve from December 25th to Epiphany on January 6th, during which house and yard are to be filled with incense to drive away evil spirits. Because this is where the Perchten go around, named after Frau Percht. According to the legend, after Wotan's wife, who wandered around with the souls of deceased children. In their wake also night ghosts and fiends. Frau Percht is double-faced, soul companion and woman of destiny. And to sweep away the host of ghosts, the citizens of the Perchten run with gruesome masks noisy through villages and towns.

But no matter how loudly the ghosts are driven away, they always seem to come back - or were they never gone?

"Of course there is absolutely no doubt that people sometimes experience strange things. Things that at first glance seem inexplicable, puzzling."

"I did that once on vacation, in Italy, and we asked the Spirit to show its appreciation, and a minute later a book about herbal medicine fell out of the cupboard."

"Well, I've always been an avid fan of such phenomena, but at some point you have to ask yourself, can all of this really have anything to do with ghosts?"

"Boo!"

"Ghost experiences, paranormal experiences and so on, these are certainly time-related forms of expression for a deeply anchored psychological structure of all of us."

Eberhard Bauer is head of the Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene:

"Dealing with the extraordinary, with the paranormal, is firmly anchored in all imaginable cultural facets. Look at the art, at the music, at the photography, don't you, you can actually write a cultural history of the occult; that fascinates people There has always been a kind of universal pattern of these haunted and ghostly phenomena, relatively independent of time, space, and what is perhaps different is the way in which these basic phenomena are clothed. "

A fog man turned over,
A gray cap, gray robe
On the gray neck a gray collar,
the standard in the ashes hand.
Trembling through his limbs
the Stral as if in restrained grief,
but on the screed, on the wall
There is no shadow.


The spirit of the Cologne cathedral builder Meister Gerhard, poetically conjured up by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

"Spirits are disembodied, subtle beings; often just a hunch, a cold breath, sometimes the feeling that something would" pass through you ". Then they appear again in a concrete form, usually of a dead person, wrapped in a white or gray cloth, at midnight , at witching hour and always in the same place. And you can hear them. "

Strange actually that you want to drive away ghosts with your own means, scary to look at and noisy.


"Sometimes they rumble, the monsters, rattle their chains, laugh loudly and angrily. Then again they are very quiet, like tinkling bells, or plaintive. Some call a name as if from far away. And since ancient times people have heard the ghosts in howling of wolves, in the call of the owl or in the hissing of a snake; in the rumble of a thunderstorm and in the howl of the storm. "

Professor Christian Kaden, ethnomusicologist at Berlin's Humboldt University, has collected many nature spirit stories:

"Many people of these ritual cultures do not have the idea that there is only this ground-level world, but that there is a second, just as real world, in the rainforest the treetops: it is dark below, it is light above, below are worms and snakes, above are the birds, that means they are alternative worlds, but they can come into contact with each other. The Temia in Malacca, that is in Malaysia, is one of the most primitive cultures that are currently still available in the world. that every person is able to enter nature through his head soul, which grows out of a second soul, the heart soul. And with this head soul he finds connection to the ways of being of nature. These are the so-called spirit guides. And the Spirit guides express themselves in dreams to the person they sing in. And these chants, which one has dreamed, are then taken down into one's corporeality as a person and communicated to the other people. "

All of nature is "animated" - not only humans, also every animal, just as plants and stones, mountains and valleys, rivers and springs - an animistic worldview. Animus means wind or breath, later interpreted as soul and spirit. In animism there is an army of nature spirits assigned to the four elements. In literary terms, it is eternally written: Goethe's mighty Erlkönig with crown and tail, which heralds death - actually the elf king from the Nordic folk tales. Or the myriad elemental beings in Shakespeare's works.

Prospero, once Duke of Milan, but now primarily concerned with studying magic, has landed with his daughter Miranda on an island where he now rules. There a witch had trapped the air spirit Ariel in a split tree. Because Prospero frees the guardian over air, clouds and wind from it, Ariel is now at his service. The magician Prospero asks: "Did you, oh spirit, direct the storm as I commanded you?" And Ariel replies:

Except for the smallest circumstance. I came aboard the Royal Ship and, enveloped in flames, terrified now the front, now the belly, the deck and every cabin. Sometimes I split up, and light it up in several places at the same time, then I flow together again. Jupiter's lightning bolts themselves, the forerunners of terrible thunderbolts, are no more nimble to shine and to disappear again; the thunderous roar of the sulphurous flames seemed to besiege the almighty Neptunus, and to make his bold waves tremble, indeed to shake his terrible trident itself.

What else haunted European cultural history, Johann Wilhelm Wolf recorded in the 19th century in his "German doctrine of gods".

The water spirits often show themselves to be friendly and helpful to people, but at other times they also become dangerous to them. They like to lure beautiful youngsters into the depths with their singing, and so Nix chases after beautiful girls. Every year the Nix demands a human sacrifice. In general, the water spirits have a thirst for blood and cruelty. The cold, thick element seems to have little feeling.

Nature spirits are the main characters in fairy tales. And since these stories are part of general folk culture, the characters have remained alive to this day: good and bad fairies, giant mountain spirits like Rübezahl, grim trolls and lively elves.

Who knows, maybe they really exist. For example, it is not as if the Icelanders have not arrived at the modern age. Nevertheless, the island state still has an elven commissioner in the 20th century.

Erla Stefansdottir is an employee at the construction department in Reykjavik. She feels well equipped for her task: Since childhood, says Erla, she has been in contact with 17 different types of elves. It has issued a "map of the hidden world" to protect the sites of trolls, wights, elves, fairies and elves in Iceland. Because they are only lovable as long as you don't annoy them. Woe to disturb their living quarters, then they get really mad and take their revenge: collapsed construction pits, expensive machine damage, nasty accidents - the Icelanders prefer to be careful.

One has to be on good terms with the spirits when the whole world is full of them. The ethnologist Angelika Wolf:

"If a person has done something that has angered one of these spirits, then he will seek the protection and help of someone more powerful, namely a competent healer, who is then also called a shaman because he is able to protect his own body to leave and travel, he is able to recapture a spirit that may have belonged to a person and protected him, that has escaped, has gone into the forest or has left the village, to recapture this spirit and give it back to the person, or other evil spirits who may have approached the community or an individual to push back and appease. "

Shamans, holy, powerful men, probably knew the Siberian peoples first. They are now available under different names in many ritual cultures. They are chosen from their tribe and have to pass many tests. Shamans imitate the movements and sounds of powerful animals in order to transform themselves into them: It is believed that they can fly like an eagle, run like a jaguar, fight like a bear. They dance with drums and shaman's staff, with metal rattles and mirrors, they sing and they eat hallucinogenic plants to put themselves into ecstasy or trance and thus penetrate the spirit world.

To be a master of spirits has always had a tremendous fascination: The stories from "1001 Nights" tell of the Djinn, these ancient spirit creatures from Arab mythology, originally viewed with horror. However, the younger the stories, the more submissive they become.

Aladdin was a young idiot. But one day he found an old oil lamp in a cave, which he carried home and showed to his mother. "I'll go into town and sell them," he said. "But it is very dirty," replied the mother, taking water and sand and starting to rub the lamp. But no sooner had she started when a huge ghost appeared before her and said:

"How can I be of service to you, my master?"

This gave the mother a great shock and passed out. But Aladin took hold of the lamp and shouted: "Servant of the lamp, I'm hungry. Bring me something to eat!" The ghost disappeared and immediately reappeared with delicious food and wine.
But when the mother woke up from her faint, she was not happy, but asked that the son should get the lamp out of the house immediately. "Refrain from all intercourse with the spirits," she warned, "they are the devil from hell, as the prophet taught us."
But Aladin keeps the magic lamp, goes out into the world, has many adventures with the help of the spirit and comes back rich.


There are also many helpful spirits in the history of Western culture. But here they almost belong to the family, the "Gutelen", better known as goblins. Depending on the region, they are also called Heinzelmann or Puck.

They are small and rarely show up. They share hats with dwarfs and mermaids, which are only pointed with them and red like their hair. In all domestic affairs they show themselves to be active and happy to help. They sweep and scrub the yard, house and kitchen, clean the dishes, stoke the fire, milk and butter, chop and wood. They are particularly active when guests arrive soon, which they know in advance, and arrange everything for the reception and the entertaining of the same.

That's how you like it, just as Johann Wilhelm Wolf described house spirits 100 years ago. But be careful, even goblins are not always "good". If you annoy them or even scare them away, then the house blessing hangs mightily wrong.

But that is exactly what Christianity wanted to scare them away, preferably to do away with the whole belief in spirits. In vain. To this day it celebrates a happy birth every year:

Fasenacht is the name of the wild festival that is celebrated in February in Basel as well as in the Franconian-Alemannic areas of Germany. This has nothing to do with fasting, as the Church likes to claim. Vaselen or viseln means to flourish, to multiply, and when people move around in February with the most gruesome grimacing masks and figures, making a hell of a racket with bells, rattles and drums, then they want to put the winter spirits on the run to make room for spring.

Hell's noise hits it: When the church realized that it simply couldn't get rid of the spirits in the people, it unceremoniously declared everyone to be evil demons who are under the rule of the devil. The religious scholar Professor Hartmut Zinser from the Free University of Berlin:

"If there is only one God, then all of the other, let me say superhuman beings that you meet in dreams or elsewhere, must be something else, they can only be spirits or idols. In Christianity, spirits become evil spirits , and God is the good one. "

"Fist:
Well, who are you then?
Mephistotle:
A part of that power that always wants evil and always creates good.
Fist:
What is meant by this riddle word?
Mephisto:
I am the spirit that always denies!
And rightly so; because everything that arises
Worth it to perish;
So it would be better if nothing was created.
So is everything that you sin,
Destruction, in short, what is called evil,
My real element. "

The devil becomes the central figure of the Christian spirit world: "Fallen angel", "Lucifer", "Satan": He can take on so many forms that even initiated people do not always recognize him immediately.

"Mephistotle:
Don't you have any more respect for the red doublet?
Can't you see the rooster feather?
Have I hidden this face?
Should I call myself?
Witch:
O Lord forgive the rough greeting!
I don't see a horse's foot
Where are your two ravens?
Mephisto:
For this time you can get away with it;
Because of course it's been a while
That we didn't see each other.
Also the culture that licks all the world,
Has been frightened of the devil:
The Nordic phantom can no longer be seen:
Where do you see horns, tails and claws?
Witch:
I almost lose sense and reason
I see the Junker Satan here again!
Mephisto:
I forbid the name, woman!
Witch:
Why? What did he do to you?
Mephisto:
It has long been written in the book of fables;
People alone are no better off:
They are rid of the bad guys, the bad has remained. "

Of course, Master Goethe was wrong: the evil one by no means disappeared, and certainly not his band of ghosts. Even with the Protestant Luther, the world was full of it:

There are many demons in the forest and water, in swamps and in deserted places. When I wake up at night, the devil comes and argues with me until I say: eat me ...

... or he throws inkwells.
The people wanted to ward off the incarnate himself and his followers: Pentacles were carved into doorsteps to prevent Satan from entering the house.


The belief in magic was unbroken. Because people in the Middle Ages, believes Hartmut Zinser, did not want to be deserted by all ghosts:

"Obviously, the idea of ​​an absolute omniscient God, almighty God is not really useful for many people in everyday life. How should you ask for his help? But in everyday life you need someone who supports you, you also need good spirits, for example the angels . "

Crowds of heavenly winged beings in white robes: some have human faces and shine brightly from the shoulder down, others wear helmets, or torches burn over their heads, and they proclaim the miracles of God in the tones of all musical instruments in glorious voices.

Many pious Christians like Hildegard von Bingen have drawn the angels of our culture - clearly based on the models of good nature spirits. Belief in these messengers of God, in guardian angels - the church has never stopped.

And even with the rest of the folk spirit belief, she often had no choice but to occupy as much "pagan" Christian as possible:

The church even allowed and distributed protective amulets - now with the Lamb of God on them. The small strips of paper that people put in their clothes or under the doorstep to ward off diseases and evil spirits were simply described with pictures of saints, angel names and biblical incantations. The Lord's Prayer was prayed three times to be on the safe side, and the crucifixion is ultimately a warding off spell.

How little successful the Christian takeover of spirits was can be seen at the latest from a community protocol of the city of Hechingen dated February 8, 1525:

Whoever catches a goblin, a mermaid or some other similar ghost in his house, his stables, in streams and ponds and so on and delivers it - alive or dead - receives a reward of five guilders from the chief hunter.

However, it was bad for those who understood too much of these things and were in closer contact with the spirits:

Hagazussas - fence women, that was the witches originally: wise, mostly old women who knew their way around herbs, could cure some illnesses and of course also knew the effects of poisons. You walk in the "holy groves" and sit on the threshold between the human and the spirit world.These women played a special role at the fertility festival of the ancient Germans and Celts, where people danced around the fire on the night of the first full moon between equinoxes in spring and summer solstice. The witches who know the spirit should predict the future.

Fascinating, but also a bit eerie figures - and the church stirred up fear and hatred towards these women:

They confuse the elements with the help of demons to arouse hailstorms and storms, disturb people's minds, drive them mad, hate or unusual love.

In 1487 the notorious book "Malleus Maleficarum", known under the name "Hexenhammer", appeared - an utterly devilish work on the persecution of witches that cost tens of thousands of women, but also men and children.

The sexually uptight imagination of church leaders turned the pagan spring festival into the witch's sabbath.

Every year on the night of May 1st they gather at their special witches' dance venue, on the "Blocksberg". They fly on brooms, pitchforks or animals that they have previously rubbed with witch ointment. And then they dance around the fire, screaming wildly and marry the devil - an orgiastic festival ...

... which many wanted to celebrate with all too much. The church didn't like that, and so she explained the hustle and bustle on the commemoration day of the English abbess Walburga, who should have worked many miracles in the 8th century:

The dance around the fire, the exuberant partying and noise was allowed, but - as it was now said - to scare away the evil spirits. White crosses were painted on houses and stables or consecrated salt was sprinkled on the doorsteps. And to ward off the witches, brooms were placed upside down in the doors that night.

"The witches are back" - that was a battle cry of the European women's movement, it should demonstrate solidarity with the persecuted women. Some of them wanted to build on the wisdom of women who were knowledgeable about nature. In the meantime, however, there are again witches or even magicians in the rather old, superstitious sense who claim to be able to predict the future with spiritual powers or make wishes come true - for cash. Hartmut Zinser on this:

"I know that there are such offers that you can have your former husband or lover again, even for a certain fee - I always say: only pay afterwards!"

But for a lot of people - women and men - it's just a lot of fun to celebrate Walpurgis Night from April 30th to May 1st.

The ghosts simply cannot be driven away. This can also be related to the fact that in all cultures they always included the souls of the dead. Death remains a mystery to man. According to popular belief, legions of unredeemed souls haunt the world. Because the ultimate rest in the afterlife cannot be found by those who have not received a proper burial or who have committed a crime or who have become a victim of such a thing. As in Shakespeare's Hamlet:

I am the spirit of your father;
Damn it for a while to hike at night
And during the day, banished to fast in the glow,
Until the crimes of my temporality
Are purified away.
If ever you loved your dear father
avenge his disgraceful, unheard-of murder!


The deceased demands this vengeance from Hamlet because the king's brother Claudius the old man, while he slept, had dripped poison into his ear and by quickly marrying the king's widow had won the Danish crown. Hamlet wants to kill his uncle. His friend Horatio offers to help, but is strange that a ghost should have ordered him to do this. Hamlet's famous answer:

There are more things in heaven and on earth
When your school wisdom dreams, Horatio.


In non-European cultures, spirits of the dead still play a central role today. Ancestors are respected and venerated, especially in Asia and Africa. Only those who stay in contact with them can hope for a good life.

In Western cultures, it is spiritism that teaches that the souls of the dead continue to exist in a "different, better world". And you can conjure it up at any time: There is something tremendously comforting about that, says Zinser, the religious scholar:

"There was always a questioning of spirits. So all religions make contact with gods and yesterday, and of course especially in those situations in which people cannot come to terms with their reason, including feelings, because there are situations where we do not know what is right, what is wrong. Then the gods and spirits are asked. "

The spiritualist idea is a European spirit child, but the worldwide breakthrough came in 1848 through the American sisters Margaret and Kate Fox. They reported conversations with a knocking spirit in their house - and turned it into a - extremely profitable - public show.
There was also a lot of fanfare when the ghosts were called in German salons: Thomas Mann, for example, had participated in several séances of Baron Schrenck-Notzing. Then a ghost appears in a music box.

Hey, you hidden and light-shy and unthinkable creature made of dream and matter, what are you doing right in front of our noses? - Cracks, the lever is turned, the mechanism works. "Give orders to stop!" says the baron. And my word is used. - "Come on!" The can is playing again. Do this a few times. You sit leaning forward and command the impossible, let yourself be obeyed by a ghost, a shy little monster from behind the world.

In 1923 Thomas Mann described them, his "occult experiences". However, anyone who thinks that the ghosts of the dead will come to an end in the 21st century is wrong. On the contrary: The "ghost communication techniques" have been expanded considerably. The psychologist Eberhard Bauer:

"This topic still plays a role with young people and adults alike. There are still these family circles where people are eagerly moving spiritistically, and thus shoving glasses, and spiritism is still part of everyday life in a certain modern form, think of all these groups, in terms of tape recordings and so on, that is, this basic spiritualistic wish to get in touch with the deceased or to know what will happen after physical physical death, this wish is deep within us. "

In a very modern way, the Internet offers countless pages with tips and instructions for successfully calling the spirits of the dead:

There is no need to be afraid when trying to establish contact with the hereafter. Skills for techniques such as suggestion, hypnosis and magnetism should be available. An important aspect is respect for all beings.

O-Ton young people: "Well we did this here in the apartment, and after a while it worked, after some preparation with a glass table and glass, and well we asked if there was a ghost and walked on this circle with the letters and Numbers and yes and no it went to yes. "

"Well, and then we asked: are you the devil? And then he answered yes too."

You should have a good attitude towards unusual phenomena without being frightened, nervous or losing your composure.

O-Ton young people: "It has never happened to me that anything happened that was inexplicably realistic."

"I mean, this is just an idea. You push. Or somebody pushes. And then pushes it to something that is roughly right or where you are satisfied with, with the result, which is more or less by chance comes out. "

Ultimate advice from the internet.

One should believe in the afterlife and the rebirth of souls.

O-Ton young people: "Ah, Boo. Well, I don't really believe in it. I only took part in it for the fun of it, and I would do it again and again for the fun of it."

"Well, I meant if the ghost could tell me how old I am. And then it said 72."

"I would never do that, I would be far too afraid that something would come out in three weeks or something like that. And even if it comes out, I'll be 90, then, I think you won't forget the date for your entire life. "

The religious scholar Hartmut Zinser wanted to know and has even witnessed spiritualistic surveys of spirits in all their banality:

"Aunt Erna says: 'I'm fine here, I'm not freezing, greetings', but of course that is an assurance of immortality. However rudimentary, practical evidence, and that takes away people's fear of death. "

Have we driven away the spirits too much in the course of the Enlightenment? Perhaps that is why many people recall inexplicable phenomena with all their might. Uncertainty raises the old questions again: Is this world really the only reality? Especially in times of crisis, esotericism and occultism come back. Nice for the book market.

"In the realm of spirits and dancing witches. Ideas of the afterlife, demons and magic belief" - hardcover 2002.
"Spirits are among us: the truth about the eternal companions of mankind." - published in 2008.
"Talking to ghosts: how to recognize them, face them and redeem them." - Paperback, March 2009.
"Living with Angels and Nature Spirits: A Basic Course in Angel Doctrine"


Rudolph Steiner wrote the last-named book at the end of the 19th century, but it is still being published today. In Steiner's anthroposophy, belief in spirits is more or less the program. The anthroposophical "Flensburger Hefte-Verlag" regularly publishes "Interviews with nature spirits", in which readers' pressing questions about life are answered. The ghosts are listed as "authors".

And otherwise: Lots of witches and shamans in the oh so enlightened society. Citizens of all ages have now climbed the ghost train to give everyday life the right flavor.

Fairies, elves, dragons and goblins in fantasy literature. After the "Lord of the Rings" Harry Potter's ghosts are not only wafting through the nursery.

Twenty ghosts move through Hogwarts Castle, the magic school. Mages who used to live there left some kind of imprint because they were not satisfied with their lives. Often the ghosts are not lacking in humor. Especially the Moaning Myrtle: It lives in a broken toilet in the castle. Hardly anyone enters the room voluntarily, as myrtle whines constantly and bursts into tears on the smallest of occasions. A monster had killed the girl Myrthe - right in the toilet where she annoys everyone.

Or the almost headless Nick: he was supposed to be beheaded hundreds of years ago, but the hangman had used a blunt ax. A couple of inches from Nick's head caught his neck. And in this awkward state he now haunts the castle.

One of the intermediate beings is a poltergeist: Peeves is constantly causing trouble and unrest and throwing fragile objects around. But he's not really angry either, he just doesn't listen to anyone.

Finally, there are lovely house-elves at Hogwarts.


The ghost show is also in full swing in the cinema. People like to paint the devil on the wall here. Ghost films are often horror stories.

Death, darkness, loneliness, the primal human fears. Creepy ghosts in "The Sixth Sense" or "Poltergeist", but also comforting things like in "Ghost - Message from Sam". Angels who long for earth out of love and fantasy films for the whole family. Plenty of series on television with titles like "Psi-Faktor" or "Ghostwhisperer". Some come as a science program like "Galileo-Mystery", others even as a documentary called "Ghosthunters".

In the meantime, one can encounter the ghost world again in a very real way, not only in the cinema or television: "Ghost hunting" has become a new hobby, first in the USA, now also in Germany. On the Internet you can find references to the "Spooky Castles" in England and Scotland, and you can also book your haunted night in Germany.

Spend one of the most exciting and gruesome nights of your life with us in the old walls of a haunted castle. In addition to a white woman who has been sighted over and over again over the centuries, there is also a woman who has been condemned as a witch in the castle and burned on a nearby hill, who seeks revenge.
- 6.30 p.m .: festive Renaissance dinner
- 8 p.m .: introductory event for ghost hunting
- 9.30 p.m .: Ghost hunt in the dark corners of the castle, divided into small groups.
Participants must be over 18 years of age.


"You go to some eerie places at night, set up high-tech equipment there, such as cameras, digital recorders, infrared thermometers, and try to record strange things with it."

Bernd Harder did not miss out on taking part in such a ghost hunt. Although or because he is a "skeptic". He acts as press spokesman for the GWUP, the society for the scientific investigation of para-sciences. This association was first founded in 1987 in the USA as an association of scientists and other citizens who see critical thinking at risk due to the spreading tendency towards occultism. Because ghost hunters now claim to be able to present evidence.

"And when you look at all of these recordings, there is of course always something strange on it that you cannot explain at first, only: the whole thing is of course no evidence of ghosts at all. These devices that ghost hunters use, They weren't made to do this at all, they have a completely different function and of course are also very error-prone, and you don't really need a physicist or an electrician, but that's a perception phenomenon, you need people who are familiar with hallucinations. You just hear something that is not there, you see something that is not there, that happens to us very often in everyday life, but when you try to tell people that it could simply be a hearing defect, hear that she doesn't like people at all. "

Bernd Harder suspects the motifs of the spirit hunters of the times:

"The more technological our world becomes and the more complicated it becomes, the more the longing for something completely different grows. For the meaning behind it, so you probably want to find some kind of proof of an afterlife. The most common motive is simply that Looking for a bit of thrill and excitement, like the Ghostbusters in the cinema. And the age-old motivation for many ghost hunters is that they have experienced something inexplicable themselves, and now try to get to the bottom of it comprehensively. "

Ghostly experiences were reported by residents as well as guests and staff of the castle inn. And who knows, maybe your bedchamber is one of the most haunted rooms in the castle?

"Well, I can partly understand that some people use this as a hobby, so to speak, this is perhaps harmless, more or less harmless leisure fun for many, but it can certainly happen, as with other in the broadest sense occult or spiritualistic practices that some of these people can no longer get rid of the ghosts that they call, that means that some people with a certain disposition, perhaps with a psychological predisposition, of course also get into things, that is, create phenomena or themselves bring about that you can not get out of your head later. "

After all, ghosts are not to be trifled with. Eberhard Bauer heads the "Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene", which was founded in 1950. Today, people there are mainly concerned with people who feel terrified and frightened by "spooky phenomena":

"Our explanatory approach is that we accept this spiritualistic explanation, that the phenomena are caused by the deceased, as a psychological reality, but then try to find out with those concerned what do the spirits actually want?"

"Parapsychologists" call themselves Bauer and all those who are meanwhile on the way around the world to investigate spooky and ghost phenomena, clairvoyance or telepathy, in short: "PSI phenomena". Just like the hobby ghost hunters, they set off with high-tech equipment and first look for natural causes of the supernatural, mostly with success. Many spooky phenomena have simple physical explanations: temperature fluctuations - the famous "cold breath of ghosts floating by" - is often due to the architecture or the ravages of time in old walls. Ghost voices from the kettle turn out to be misdirected radio waves, and sometimes it's the combination of physics and the human psyche that calls ghosts.

Richard Wiseman, a British parapsychologist and magician, has robbed many ghosts of their ancestral haunted places.

In 2001, in the legendary vaults of Edinburgh, notorious for their haunted phenomena, Wiseman locked a young volunteer in one of the dungeons for 20 minutes, alone and in absolute darkness. An infrared camera recorded the event. After five minutes the woman thought she heard breathing noises in the vaulted cellar, which seemed to be more and more threatening.When the subject stared into a corner of the room, she saw a red glow and ran away in a panic. The attempt had to be stopped. However, the images from the camera did not show any abnormalities.

Moisture, cold and darkness, Wiseman explained, create an oppressive feeling, a primal fear that puts the psyche on alert and can cause hallucinations.

Parapsychologists have often been fooled on their ghost hunt. The one from Freiburg, for example, from "Chopper", the most famous ghost in the Federal Republic of Germany.

For months he haunted a dental practice in a town near Regensburg. The ghost resounded from toilet bowls, spook buttons and telephone receivers, cursed patients and was in love with the 16-year-old dental assistant. She even admitted that she had sex with the ghost. Chopper became a media star worldwide. Finally, the police and the Federal Post Office arrived, as did the parapsychologist Hans Bender, who explained to a group of journalists in front of the house which supernatural phenomenon it could be. The "SoKo Geist" occupied the practice for several days, laid technically complex traps and replaced the telephone system.
In the end it turned out that the dentist, his wife and the assistant had staged the ghost themselves - they used the special acoustics of the tiled practice rooms and cavities in the partition walls for the horror. The perpetrators were sentenced to a five-figure sum for pretending to be a criminal offense and were also allowed to reimburse the Federal Post Office for the high costs of searching for the cause and exchanging telephone calls.


Trick and deception - the Skeptics Association does not want to fall for it - unlike the parapsychologists they critically eyed: Skeptics not only work with scientific methods, but also repeatedly with professional magicians. With James Randi, for example, a well-known magician and member of the American Skeptics Organization:

"Scientists are the easiest to deceive. They believe that they are sufficiently educated for all tasks and therefore cannot be fooled. But precisely because of this they are particularly easy to get pissed off by fraudsters. I don't go to an Albert Einstein if I have my teeth and I am not asking my dentist to explain the theory of relativity to me.People have different levels of expertise and scientists who think they are too intelligent to be scammed are the first to buy the Eiffel Tower, if someone offers them that. "

Religion researcher Hartmut Zinser sits on the advisory board of the German skeptics organization GWUP. He cannot take parapsychology seriously as a "scientific ghost hunt".

"Occultism has a great contradiction: it says: there is a world beyond, which is withdrawn from our experience, and at the same time it claims to be able to experience this world beyond empirically. And all parapsychologists have not been able to resolve this contradiction, and that's why there can be no scientific esotericism or occultism. What there can be is that I examine the ideas of people who may also believe in them. But here I am with psychological ideas and interpretations. "

In the meantime, the parapsychologists have developed in this direction, at least those from Freiburg. Today, Eberhard Bauer is primarily concerned with mental hygiene.

"Behind many of these spooky phenomena are actually very conventional everyday, normal - in quotation marks - problems, that is to say that it is some kind of repressed aggression or that one is dealing with problems of adolescents who have difficulties with their sexuality, or processes of detachment, transitional situations or that perhaps there are also massive marital problems, divorce problems and so on, this way that some people, many people even, personify problems, i.e. see or experience them, so to speak, in the form of ghosts or the deceased: This ghost hypothesis is a certain device of ours Subconscious, to visualize problems and make them clear, manageable and in this respect there is, to quote a colleague of mine, Mr. von Lucadou, the nice phrase "ghosts are only people", but in a specific form. "

The "ghost hypothesis" comes from the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. He understood ghosts as a "psychic reality". Eberhard Bauer and his colleagues also take the descriptions of those seeking help seriously and try to find meaning for them. But such efforts cannot always drive the ghosts away:

"There is a certain percentage of our advisory clientele at the Freiburg Institute for Border Areas of Psychology, around 30 to 40 percent, where people have at least a certain conspicuous character in the way they behave, how they describe it and so on further, and we try to provide appropriate on-site care, and that includes establishing contact with colleagues from psychotherapy, clinical psychology or, in some, rather rare cases, of course, on-site psychiatric care just have to strive. "

"It can be a range, from actually a neurotic conflict situation that people try to stabilize themselves again through such superstitions, so that would then be called superstition with us, to the fact that it is then a very sophisticated delusional system is actually a psychosis, which means that they do not share other people's ideas of reality or meanings in their social context. "

Dr. Ernestine Wohlfart is a psychiatrist, so she explored lost souls and confused spirits. But she is also head of the "Center for Intercultural Psychiatry and Psychotherapy" at Charité in Berlin and as such is a little more cautious with psychiatric diagnoses, especially when it comes to ghost ideas:

"Of course, you can only judge what is now, as a psychiatrist, the transgression of reality, so to speak, if you are familiar with the cultural context, you always have to be able to go to the limit, even when talking to patients, where you can get out thinks is this demon actually, does it belong to the cultural context or not. "

A middle-aged African man who has lived in Germany for 20 years is admitted to the psychiatric outpatient clinic. He is completely desperate, is terribly afraid and tells the doctor about eerie events around him: Sometimes he feels as if he is suddenly being grabbed by an invisible hand, his mother and her sisters appear to him in their sleep and tie up and torment him. His soul has been kidnapped, says the man, and he feels "like a tree that is slowly drying up."

During the therapy it soon became clear that this was about a person's emotional conflict between different cultures. During her visit, the African's mother had actually tried to lead her son - who lived too "westwards" to her - back on the "right path". She performed traditional African rituals in his apartment. The man did not believe in it, but when his mother warned him of the ancestral spirits and cursed them at the same time, fear came and never let go of him.

In ethno-psychiatry, says Ernestine Wohlfart, the point is to "take ghosts seriously", to understand what significance they have in the respective culture and how they are normally dealt with there. Only then can a diagnosis be made and therapy found.

"I mean, it's all a borderline area and it's also all very difficult because, for example, patients have this ability to go into a trance due to their socialization, for example. And the essential thing is always to distinguish when people are themselves endanger or endanger others and what is the best treatment option for these patients. "

In addition, with her cultural studies approach, the psychiatrist has developed a little more understanding of ghost ideas of people from Christian-Western cultures in the course of her dealings with foreign demons. Incidentally, the clattering in the background could come from the approving spirits of the Charité.

"About the Guardian Angels, that is something that people obviously need in the western, enlightened world - at least some - that they know that there is also something other than this reality or my autonomy that can determine everything I once treated a younger patient from Rostock who, when he was 17, had developed the idea that he had a special relationship with God and was then naturally treated with neuroleptics, and in his mid-30s - thanks to our openness in the outpatient department, he Somehow he can keep it, he has this idea that it protects him, that he has a special relationship with God, but is no longer in such an acute state of excitement or something, but has accepted it for himself. "

Sometimes ghosts may just be accepted. The Catholic Church has not yet made it. The expulsion of spirits continues to play a role in their dogmatics.

In the "Rituale Romanorum" from 1999 the exorcism is precisely regulated. Nowadays it should only be a prayer, as it is said in the Our Father: "... and deliver us from evil". The exorcist no longer asks for the name of the devil - "What's your name?" - but asks him directly to leave the tormented man. The "possessed" must expressly consent to this prayer for deliverance. And above all, it should always first be "precisely determined" whether there really is an "obsession".

Whatever that means. Hartmut Zinser:

"According to my observations in the last few decades, actually since Vatican II, the church superiors have pushed these pages back from Catholicism, they even make the strictest controls, especially after this incident there in Würzburg, Anneliese Michel, who then died of such an exorcism But then people immediately offer themselves, so you drive from Allgäu to Italy to another diocese, and for the most part that is not right for the bishops. "

The religious scholar sees this perhaps a little too rosily. After all, there is an "International Association of Exorcists", founded in 1990 by Father Gabriele Amorth, the official exorcist of the Vatican, who is said to have carried out mass expulsions himself.

"They are there and they are proof of how infinitely great the need for support, for help, for enthusiasm, for entertainment too. The ghosts do not exist for themselves or in themselves. But in the moment when there are people who care they believe the spirits begin to exist in people's minds. And this belief in spirits is as hard as belief in paper that it is money. "

The spirits are always there - even if they sometimes have a hard time with people. Oscar Wilde's witty wink is unmistakable.

Sir Simon de Canterville, died of hunger in 1575, has haunted the castle for generations. In the 19th century, the American ambassador Washington Otis bought the castle from the last Lord Canterville. This explains:

We haven't even wanted to live there since my great-aunt had a frightened fit because two bony hands lay on her shoulders. And I feel obliged to tell you, Mister Otis, that several living members of my family saw the ghost, as did the pastor of the parish. After that accident happened to the Duchess, none of the younger servants wanted to stay with us.

Erz .: The family moves in anyway - the ambassador refuses to believe in ghosts at all, while the children annoy the "actually" haunted Sir Simon with cheeky pranks. The ghost finally gets mad when Otis instructs the old housekeeper to remove a stain on the floor next to the fireplace - although the woman points out that it was the blood of Lady Eleanore of Canterville, taken from her own husband, Sir Simon, in 1575 who was murdered. It is precisely this guilt that does not allow him to relax.
The American envoy, exasperated, reaches for "Pinkerton's stain remover" and removes the mark himself. Immediately a tremendous flash of lightning illuminates the room and a terrible clap of thunder sounds. "What a hideous climate!" Otis remarked calmly and lit a long cigar.


People need a little magic from time to time - a few ghosts, good and bad - if only to be able to drive them away.

Exuberance, noise and magic light fill the New Year's Eve, when the New Year begins. In most German cities, fireworks are set off at midnight, frogs are thrown, gunshots are ignited and noisily people roam the streets, wishing luck to those who meet them. Shooting, drumming, whistling and cracking the whip are still widely used in the country.

"I'll actually try the classic way on New Year's Eve to drive away the ghosts with firecrackers and rockets, but I know what the point is and that I probably can't really banish any ghosts with it - among other things, because there aren't any. Good "If there were children, then you have to do it for the children, drive away ghosts and drive away bangers and darkness, that has to be all, you should celebrate the festivals as they happen!"