Do you believe in the paranormal?

The paranormal is a topic which never truly goes away. It is one that has been speculated about for many, many years in some form or another; angels, demons, fairies, the Grim Reaper, witches, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens and arguably the most popular; God. But why are we so desperate to believe in something which science cannot explain?
Do you believe in the paranormal?

As a tour guide at Auld Reekie Tours (a ghost tour company which takes people into one of the most “haunted” places in the world) the above question is one I so often get asked. Throughout this post I’m going to be exploring my beliefs, looking at both sides of the argument.

Waitress by day, tour guide by night; this is where I have spent many of my evenings:

Most Haunted called it one of the most paranormally active places they have ever filmed in. Every day and night people pay up to £12 for a visit here and there’s no doubting that strange things have happened on many tours. Some people have captured unexplained mist, orbs and objects in their photos, some people have come out of the vaults with weird scratch marks and many people claim they have felt a brushing past their cheek or hair, the prodding in their back or have glimpsed a dark figure at the end of the corridor. On occasion people begin to feel breathless upon entering the vaults and may even faint.
But is this down to the presence of the paranormal? Or trick of the human mind?

Anybody who has seen or heard of Derren Brown will know how easily manipulated the human mind can be and the man has an explanation for just about everything paranormal. And when you think about it, there isn’t really any hard evidence that ghosts exist.
I’ve worked in “one of the most haunted places in the world” for almost 9 months now. That equates to many visits, many chances to see something out of the ordinary. And what have I seen? Nothing. Not as such. I’ve seen a couple of moving shadows and heard some strange noises but it is dark and it is a weird atmosphere in which you are speaking about ghosts. Your mind is bound to jump to conclusions and play tricks on you. The fear you get from stepping into a place such as the vaults doesn’t come from “sensing presences”. It comes from something rooted deep inside the human mind and body. It comes from instinct.
Stepping into an unusual place, a dark place, a place you have heard could be dangerous, your senses instantly begin to heighten. You hear things which usually your mind would ignore, you see things that aren’t there and you mistake the prickling of your skin in a draught for something brushing past you. This is your body in survival mode, stealthy and aware of your surroundings like you are a caveman in a darkened forest, keeping low from predators.
This is exactly what happens when you enter the vaults. I know, because I’ve experienced it. And no matter how sceptical you may be, it takes you a while to get used to a place like that. Even though a lot of the time on the tours we are telling second-hand stories, things we have not experienced ourselves but have been told others have witnessed, the belief of your group is sometimes enough to almost convince you as well. And when somebody points to the vast empty corridor behind you and says “I just saw a dark shape moving up there” it doesn’t matter how much of a non-believer you are, your heart will still jump into your throat and you nervously finish your sentence before ushering your group on to another section of the vaults. In situations such as this we are programmed into feeling scared. The adrenaline from which is supposed to kick us into fight or flight response.

Therefore I can understand why people feel they have had a paranormal experience (when indeed they’ve had a very human one) but just about everything that happens on these tours and on programmes such as Most Haunted, can be explained and do have rational reasons for occurring.
So this takes me back to my earlier question; why are we so desperate to believe in something which may or may not exist?
Both curiosity and fear play a major role in our seeking of paranormal beings. Humans, by nature, are curious and are forever on a mission to explain the unexplained. Also, a large majority of us are scared of death. Why? Because it’s unknown about what happens afterwards. I, myself, am no stranger to this fear. It’s a fear which drives many people to become religious and to search for proof of the afterlife. Both of which, give people comfort.
But religion and belief in the afterlife aren’t for everyone. I, myself, find it hard to believe in something which there is no proof of. Trying to believe in it creates the same feelings I had of Santa as I started to get older and wiser. I desperately wanted to believe he existed but the whole thing was so implausible and sketchy.
I used to be a lot more open-minded about the afterlife but working in the vaults has been like finding out “Santa” has gone and used the same Christmas paper as Mum and Dad. I am still quite open-minded but I’ll never look at these ghost programmes in the same way again and I will never, ever believe a medium.

Life is amazing but it is short. Too short to spend the majority of your time wondering about the afterlife and doing good deeds in a selfish attempt to get to “Heaven”. I hope that we all come back in some form or another but I’m not going to waste too much of my time procrastinating over it because if we do only get one life, I don’t want to waste it worrying about what’s going to happen after.
(But don’t stop coming on ghost tours, or me and my friends will be out of a job.)

So go out and live! I’m off to the museum.

Rachael x

P.S- I’d be interested in hearing your responses. Do you believe in the paranormal?

Doing some “doss” tour-guiding; 

 
 
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