2014 October

THE DOWSER’S GHOST

An afternoon with Michael Williams at North Hill Village Hall

Despite the huge advances of science across many fields, the phenomenon of the ghost remains the preserve of the intuitive, the medium and the dowser.

Author and Cornish Bard, Michael Williams, a former headmaster, publisher and hotelier, has devoted decades to a study of (what some might term) the paranormal. The local branch of the Paranormal Society, which he runs, has explored many of the legion of sightings and reports of these spectral entities, and the group includes a number of dowsers – one of whom is our own Alan Neal.

Ghostly activity seems to have been experienced since the dawn of human history, and is recorded as far back as records survive. It is something that transcends physical boundaries, religious persuasions, age, ethnic origin and gender. It is ubiquitous. Yet, it has defied definition, and it lacks even the seed of an understanding in the mainstream academic world.

For the dowser, the spiritualist and the seasoned researcher, whose angle of trajectory is from another direction, it is a different tale entirely. Enter Michael Williams. During this session, he recounted several well-documented accounts of ghosts and apparitions, mainly from his vast personal archive of investigations in both Devon and Cornwall.

Having been a noted local writer and publisher over the years, he came to rub shoulders in the course of his work with many renowned West Country authors, including EB Thompson, Colin Wilson and Daphne Du Maurier. One of his more recent books concerns the lives of the sisters Daphne, Angela and Jeanne Du Maurier, and it was a comment to him by Daphne Du Maurier – that she felt that ghostly activities seemed like snippets from a kind of historical film – that really set him thinking about the origins of the phenomenon.

There are numerous accounts of ghosts walking through walls, especially where doorways have been blocked – and Michael cited a situation where the spirit of a butler still climbs the steps of a staircase that is now in a very different position. Same play, different stage set.

While most of the audience indicated that they believed in ghosts, only a few had ‘seen’ one in person. However, many more had experienced the feeling of being observed by someone or something beyond the realm of visibility.

Michael has seen apparitions on several occasions, and described the situation at Jamaica Inn (another Du Maurier connection) where two members of the Cornish Paranormal Society had encountered the same ghost at the same time, on two occasions – a rare co-incident confirmation.

He also recounted the tale of their group finding a spirit in the hugely haunted bedroom at Pengersick Castle near Praa Sands. Almost all of those present felt or saw the ghost, but as soon as someone spoke to it, it disappeared. Whether this indicated some form of interconnectivity between the worlds, or whether it merely destroyed the spiritual sanctity of the moment, is unclear.

Michael noted that certain places seemed to be ‘hot-spots’ of spectral activity – and it is here that the earth energy dowser can really come in to their own.

In the discussion that followed the presentation, the question was asked as to whether people who had become ghosts were aware of the fact! This was clearly an extremely pertinent intervention and led Michael to recount the story of a gentleman who had regularly employed a typist to transcribe his written work (in the days before desktop computers). The lady had duly arrived, had been let in and had apparently undertaken her shift. However, the following morning the gentleman had found his work not done, and phoned her agency accordingly. Her agency replied that she had been unable to come to his home the previous evening – and it became apparent that the person who had turned up was not the physical typist at all! This had led Michael to wonder how many of the people he meets in his everyday life are actually there – and it had us all looking around the room, somewhat tentatively.

Despite the lack of a shared scientific platform, it is becoming accepted that most ghosts are people who have died but have not yet passed over. Some are confused and, understandably, tend to panic (such as poltergeists), others are bemused and merely tread the familiar byways of their former life, while another group appear quite happy with their lot and are aware of their situation, yet remain on the fringes of our reality to complete unfinished business.

However, Daphne Du Maurier’s aside about archive film is an interesting piece of historical insight in its own right. 21st Century thinking about observing activity relating to the ‘right’ space at the ‘wrong’ time, chimes loudly with the ancient idea of an Akashic record, where all that has ever been is recorded out there in the ether for all time, for anyone with a genuine need and a dowser’s intuition to recall. This data has been felt to be recorded in the fabric of buildings, in water or in crystalline materials. In the post-computer era, we might be more inclined to see it as an information matrix, to which we might all have intuitive access under certain circumstances. Ghostly activity as ‘film clips’ of an information record in a medium we have yet to fully understand? Well, it’s at least as sound as the Big Bang Theory! However life, let alone reality, is rarely as simple as this – and there is clearly a long way (perhaps an infinitely long way) to go.

Many thanks to Michael Williams for sharing some of his vast emporium of experience in such a clear, genuine and thought provoking presentation, delivered in an endearingly gentle and genial manner – and in a timeless style.

Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers, October 2014

Books by Michael Williams include:

Ghosts around Bodmin Moor

Haunted North Cornwall

The Three Du Maurier Sisters

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