Even baboons believe in ghosts.
by John Keel
African farmers are often plagued by tribes of baboons who mess with their crops and raise general havoc because of their often mean disposition. You would not want a group of them in your own backyard. But how do you get rid of a mob of baboons humanely?
The African colonists once adopted an ancient system of anti-baboonery. They would trap one of the creatures, paint it from head to toe with harmless whitewash, and send it scrambling back to its tribal area. Its mates would then take one look at this eerie white intruder, start howling, and run away as fast as possible. They would keep running, leaving him far behind and sadly alone.
We can’t read baboons’ minds, but it does appear that they are as afraid of ghosts as we are — proof once again that we are very similar to our vine-swinging neighbors.
Human ghosts, known for their ability to float, have been seen everywhere on this planet, often in very isolated cultures, and still manage to keep up with the times. They still slide up and down stairways in the old tradition, but they also like to ride in elevators, fly in airplanes, and even hitch rides in automobiles.
Going Our Way?
There are thousands of allegedly true stories of “vanishing hitchhikers” from all over the world. In the genre’s most basic form, a man driving alone on a cold or rainy night sees the figure of a woman in white and stops to pick her up. She is wet or shivering and wants to go to an old farmhouse. Or a local cemetery. But she vanishes suddenly and inexplicably just before reaching her destination.
The details vary slightly from case to case, but one thing never changes: the mountain of hogwash and balderdash produced by hairy-eared academics to explain them. During one period in the 1970s, a bearded young man was a frequent phantom hitchhiker in New York and was often referred to as Jesus. In other eras, male hitchhikers resembled the devil and sometimes had cloven feet. College professors always have great fun with such reports and tend to classify them as urban myths. Other profs call it folklore. The cases never end and will almost certainly continue into the next century — and the century after that.
Ghosts of the Seas and Skies
For many centuries it was natural for wandering ghosts to haunt ships and sailors, inspiring everything from haunted-lighthouse accounts to pirate tales. Humans like to be ghost-ridden. Ships that sink or disappear altogether produce stories of the supernatural that endure for centuries. The very seas that swallow them up are said to be cursed with spooks. The great literature of “mysteries of the seas” has become a popular genre.
Fewer ships are out there these days. Press agents have stopped contriving new tales of ghostly boats. Airplanes are picking up phantom hitchhikers now. John Fuller investigated and wrote The Ghost of Flight 401, telling how an apparition warned the crew of an airliner. The late Martin Caidin, a famous aviation historian and contributing editor to FATE, interviewed many World War II pilots and produced Ghosts of the Air, a fascinating account of strange distortions of time and space. (As a pilot, he had had a weird experience in the Bermuda Triangle himself.)
Back when we were sending men to the moon, our rockets were haunted. The phantoms were keeping up with our technology — broadcasting unidentifiable signals on NASA frequencies and even zipping around our space capsules, almost jeering at us. Aviators started using the term gremlin in the 1920s and those little green fellows are still giving us a hard time.
It is not possible to list all the forms our friendly ghosts can take. The word transmogrification has been used for many years to describe the process that enables human spooks to appear in any shape or form. There may be true spirits out there, but there are also masses of energy that can transmogrify and appear as a rain-drenched woman on a lonely highway or a vampire in a flowing black cape.
Human powers of perception are limited: We can see only a tiny part of the visible spectrum and we can hear only the lower frequencies. Some forms of energy could be totally invisible to us. A three-eyed, bent-fanged monster shaped like a giant flea could be standing next to you as you read this. But you can’t see, hear, or smell him unless he decides to transmogrify by altering his energy vibrations or frequencies to take the shape of Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or a sheet-clad ghost.
There is an entirely different universe beyond the odd little reality that our feeble human brains have constructed. Nothing is real there. Everything is energy. Communication is unnecessary because everything is interconnected. This world of non-matter was there when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. It will be there even if the sun explodes and fries our material universe. Won’t do us much good either.
To the baboon we may look like terrible monsters who have no useful place in the baboon world, and the story of his baboon pal who disappeared one day and returned as a white baboon ghost will become a legend in baboonery.
John Keel is a longtime student of Fortean phenomena and other mysteries of existence. He lives in New York City.