A shadowy figure stands in the back window of the decrepit house - a deceased estate. "George" stood out the front of the house for a few seconds whilst the figure just looked at him.
No eyes could be seen because the figure was “just that - only a shadow”. Nonetheless, there was no sense of malice, just a sense of being watched.
“Five seconds doesn’t seem like a long time - but in these situations... it is!” said George, recounting his experience at 11:30pm on a corner in Campbelltown, an outer west town centre of Sydney.
George is a family man with three children. He is working for a reputable company in Sydney’s western suburbs, where he has been for the last three years. Although he is considered a “tad eccentric” by his work colleagues, he is a valued member of their team and an upstanding member of the community.
George also claims to see ghosts.
Although he does not make this claim ‘loud and proud’. As he tells his story, he is a little nervous, constantly checking the reaction he is getting. He is aware that, in general, people will think he has a mental disorder if he describes what he sees to “just anyone”.
George has no history of mental illness, although he admits that he “cried during Awakenings and the Sixth Sense”. The only drugs he has ever taken were over-the-counter drugs for strictly medicinal purposes. He is a social drinker and regular church-goer. And, more importantly, his experience is not uncommon.
Scott Allen Burns, a pagan witch for 16 years, says “around 50% of areas within Sydney have a ghost associated with it”.
Scott has been the member of two different covens, the Gardenia for four years and the Dianic for one year. On the main, Scott prefers to “follow the older religions, revere nature and life, and see the Divine as having many different facets” on his own individual path. It is important to note, that in his belief system there is no devil and the Christian god is only a small part of his pantheon.
He has seen ghosts, spirits, auras and other such phenomena all his life, and it is one of the reasons he is drawn to the study of paganism, stressing that he is not a satanist.
He defines ghosts as “spirits of people who are still bound to this plane”. He suggests there are three reasons why people’s spirits remain in this world.
The first is that they “have not accepted their own physical death - and they can be the saddest to come across”. These ghosts continue to live their lives as though they were still living, going through the motions, not even aware that they have died. These are the most common ghosts he sees.
The other two reasons are that the person did not complete something in life or those who stay to “protect their loved ones”. In these cases, the decision to remain is up to the individual, and they will tend to stay until “they have completed their task or their protection is no longer required”.
Scott believes that the ghost George encountered at the abandoned house was most likely of the ‘protecting a loved one’ category. Scott suspects there are descendants still in the area. However this is hard to ascertain as information regarding the property was hard to discover.
There was a string of coincidences, including the letterbox disappearing, the real estate agent changing management soon after selling the lot and the new management having no records of the sale.
George notes several other coincidences in his experience with the house.
George has a tendency to explore abandoned houses. He rummages for things that attract his attention. When he first went into this house, he expected it to have that “warm, elderly feeling”, instead it was littered with needles and much had been disturbed and broken. George said it was a “shame to see such a nice house get trashed”.
He returned a few days later to ‘collect’ a very old toilet (one with a bucket), and a cabinet which was missing a drawer. George had decided to make a new drawer, and to do up both his new assets. He was satisfied with this hoard as he returned home.
He tried unsuccessfully to sleep that night. Eventually he succumbed to the urging he felt to return to the house. After two thorough searches of the house previously, he found the drawer instantly upon his return. He was surprised to find it so easily, and so in tact under a pile of rubble.
He returned to his house and was satisfied.
But the next night he was restless again, with urgings to return to the house. It was this visit, when he finally responded to the calls that he was ‘greeted’ by the shadowy figure.
As soon as the apparition disappeared, for “the first time (George) walked into the house quickly”. Feeling at ease in the house, he thought “I could sleep here!”
In one room, he found a window that had been removed and placed gently on the floor, as though someone had planned to take it. However, it had been left there. George had no idea who took it out, and he “couldn’t understand why it was the only window that was not vandalised... Even the second story window had a rock thrown through it.”
Without really knowing why, George took the window. He had seen it before, but it had not held much appeal for him, until now. As he drove off from the site, he thought “I will never be coming back in this house”.
He had enjoyed looking around the house and was surprised to find himself thinking these things. The next opportunity he had to return to the house, he did. It was his birthday, and the house had been bulldozed to the ground, while he was working that day.
Scott believes that this ghost used “suggestions” to protect this window that was so important to him. And that further, the window was important because it “looked out on a partner working in the garden - a favourite spot for watching”.
It would appear that ghosts are a ‘natural’ part of our existence, even in suburbia and even if not all of us can see them. Scott thinks it is important that “people should be more tolerant of people who see and experience these things”.
But perhaps we need to go one step further: to appreciate and respect people like George, that can interact with entities most of us cannot even sense.
This was an article written for a Journalism course (and is now an entry in a quest).
Believe what you will, but the sources are genuine.