Spirit Orbs

My daughter-in-law believes that globes of light appearing in photographs are caused by the supernatural. Spirit orbs. Ghosts of loved ones (or maybe hated ones) from the past returning to hover and glow between the heads and trees we capture today.

No matter that one of her Facebook friends – and they are both photo experts, professionals – explains the phenomenon in scientific terms. It’s light bouncing off a particle of dust or pollen, a drop of rain. It’s a speck of foreign material in the camera lens. Real, explainable in this world. Not from another world, a parallel universe.

She is not buying it, prefers to explore other layers, levels of meaning, possibilities.

“Look at this,” she says handing over a recent family photo. A group of us crowding together and smiling. Were we in a foreign land? Possibly. Behind us, a white ball, not a sun or a moon, just hanging, nebulous and yet unmistakably there.

Photos ghosts
Is that Grandma hanging out with us on the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

“Who could this be?” She is convinced it is either my mother or my former husband’s mother, my sons’ grandmothers, who died a few months apart, just before this picture was taken.

 

So why would either woman want to be with us? Are they just hanging out? Are they envious? Do they have an uplifting message? Final words of wisdom?

As a skeptic, there is no way I am going to leap into the spirit world. But I can leap from what is reflected in the photo into my own reflections. The way I used to with Tarot cards. No, I the Hanged Man does not mean I am literally hanging from a tree upside down with a rope around my foot. He represents transitions, being suspended between decisions.

So for the recent trip photo, I am imagining these two women I admired being with us every step of the way, having enough energy, even as their gauges wavered at 90, to enjoy themselves and our company. To feel a part of us, as they often didn’t as they aged.

Next best scenario, they love hearing about the trip when we return, looking at every photo in our slideshows or photo books. Who else would do that? Perhaps they are envious, but not to the point of glaring from their little orbits. Nor are they offering advice, at least not day-to-day nagging, more like should you disagree and drive each other crazy sometimes, learn to forgive, expect less and give more. Be kind on Facebook.

Looking at old-old photos, I wish the granny globs of light could talk to me. Do not waste your time with this group of people; they are not looking or listening. Marry the Sea Scout who takes you sailing with his mother. Yes, you will be a widow at 60, but you will be happy and left with some youthful good looks and lots of money.

Watch out for that wizard at the company Halloween party, standing beside you in the witch costume beside the pumpkin orb. He charms everyone with his smile and is so happy, happy to be your assistant. Not really. He plans to carve you down to size.

Bypass the cowboy swinging his lasso on another hallowed eve. He is too much for your gentle Tahitian, even with the flower in the back of your hair, meaning you are looking. Heed your own first impression, “What an ass.” Run from the golden ropes.

Of course there was no such message from the spirit world and you unwisely tie the knot until it unravels. There are rays of light beaming in one of the wedding photos. My two mothers, too kind to say I told you so.

Settling in with Ghosts

Settling in. Week number five now. It takes awhile to feel the spirit or spirits of a new place. At first, there is too much bumping into boxes, walls, door jams to hear the stories here being narrated by ghosts and choreographed by shadows.

I lie awake at night and listen to new noises. Which noises are normal and which are not? Gurgling of pipes, creaking, knocking, scratching of branches, flutter of wings against the window. During the day there are hummingbirds hovering over the purple-blue morning glories. Outside the window, the night sky is as inky dark as it gets and I cannot tell what is out there. Suddenly a light goes on. Is it an automatic light sensing an animal, or my neighbor lighting up his room or a car’s headlights from the street? Another neighbor takes a shower and the pipes shudder and shake the walls as he turns off the water.

Shadows on wall

My cats are restless. They rattle the blinds trying to see into the night, jump on and off my bed several times before finally settling in. Yes, settling in. It takes awhile.

I do not believe in ghosts or anything supernatural. Nevertheless, ghosts can exist in our imagination, especially when we move into new homes. They can be remnants of what we imagine happened here – or even what we know happened here. I happen to know that the last occupant lost her job and her dog. She also found a dead cat on this front lawn, which I saw too while out walking. Did her dreams of joy drift away and leave the ghosts of sadness?

Or the opposite. Did joyous people live here – circus performers, artists, singers, dancers, cooks? Their laughter and creativity remain.

Shadows on CurtainOr maybe my new house is purged of ghosts and I can bring my own. What is that dream taunting me outside the window after the sun goes down and before it comes up again? What is that shadow on the wall – branches and leaves reaching toward me with a warning, or an embrace?