I know the subset of humanity who will attempt to ‘correct’ me and say, “You mean, kids (and grownups) ‘think’ they see ghosts.” No…actually, I mean what I say, kids see ghosts. I’ve collected over 500 stories from direct interviews backed by signed waivers of many people who shared their true tales with me about encounters with ghosts, spirits, angels, and more. I’ve written nine books of ghost stories and it’s clear to me from anecdotal evidence that children experience psychic reality just like adults.
I’m a professional storyteller and when I finish a performance of one of my ghost story programs—I have so many ghostly tales that they’re broken down into various programs, such as Civil War Ghosts, Hispanic Spirits, Shaker Ghosts, Animal Ghosts—children desperately want to talk to me afterwards to share their own experiences, and I mean kids of any age. They’ve seen orbs, had crazy Ouija board happenings, talked to deceased relatives, spent their youth with an invisible friend, and talked of being in heaven before their birth. I believe that children deserve to be listened to and respected for what they have seen, heard, and felt.
Kids meet developmental stages for not just body, mind and emotional growth; they also move through life testing out and finding experiential bases for psychic/spiritual growth as well. No matter what their parents and other adults say, they have to test their own notions in the real world. And a certain percentage of kids are particularly sensitive.
Now, a child will use whatever language and media images they have at their disposal to talk about their experience the previous night. One boy in Hawaii told his mother over breakfast, “God is walking through the walls at night.” Doesn’t make any sense, right? But he had recently seen the movie BRUCE ALMIGHTY and God, played by African American Morgan Freeman, walked through walls. So this eight year old was basically saying that he saw a dark skin native Hawaiian coming through a multi-dimensional portal. His parents listened, recruited a native shaman, and they took care of closing that energetic doorway.
Storytelling is an entertaining and safe way for kids to listen and wonder and ask about the other realm. And they can take whichever wisdom they want, regardless of the belief system of the parents/family. Many of the ghost stories that I tell also carry moral lessons, such as doing good during our life before actions are more problematical when reoriented into the astral dimension in that final transition. Kids see dead birds, dead grandma in the coffin and see lots of violence on electronic screens. Ghost stories for Halloween—and kids will happily tolerate ghost stories anytime of year—allow the younger and older members of society to look at death, life and what may very well survive the cessation of the physical body.
In HALLOWEEN SLEEPWALKER, a boy wants to go outside and explore on Halloween night. His family talks about their fears related to Halloween and he insists, fearless and adventuresome, that he’d like to go out that night. Denied permission, he heads to bed and later that night gets out of bed to sleepwalk. He goes outside and encounters witches and ghosts. Given an enchanted apple, he temporarily has the second sight. The witches also send him flying on a magic broom.
This fanciful tale allows children to imagine their own wild Halloween fantasies and brings the idea of “third eye” viewing into play. What is our accepted matrix of reality, and do we automatically give that to children, or can they be allowed the freedom to imagine other dimensional strands in the Universe? When I tell ghost stories, I help children deal with a basketful of issues, such as fear of ghosts, appropriate boundary setting and communicating with the dead, testing of magical thinking as balanced with spiritual realities, and permission to simply talk about what is often invisible, denied and yet right in front of many a child’s radar. Our children need tools for dealing with spirits, angels, and with visions—glimpses of information not gained through traditional modes.
I’ve told ghost stories from pre-school to assisted living, and I can tell you that at any and every age level, I can find two peers sitting side by side, with one wide eyed, “I’m going to have nightmares!” and their buddy next to them saying, “That’s not scary enough!” It’s a finely tuned exercise to bring scary tales into a safe environment, but through well-selected stories—some funny and outrageous—songs, and by allowing kids to state their opinions and note their experiences, children benefit greatly from hearing ghost stories.
I back up my ghost story programs with nonfiction books, research, and interviews drawn from my trips around Kentucky, and as far as Alaska and Argentina. We find ghost stories in every tribe, each culture and every state of the union and in each country. From the banshee to La Llorona, witches to disappearing ghosts, common themes emerge in ghost stories. Many of the true tales which I write about and tell in performances are actually heartfelt interventions of deceased loved ones, family or friends, providing rescue or other timely help in our life. Children are now a fairly sophisticated audience, being familiar through television with orbs, EVPs, EMF meters and other tools and terms of ghost hunters.
In most families, they have already seen and heard more than you know. Do you know about Stick Man? Ask any class of fifth graders and a dozen hands will go up. What do you say when your seven year old says, “There’s something under my bed!” Likely the parent will nod sympathetically, talk blandly about nighttime fears and send the kid off to bed—father knows best? But here in Louisville, Bonnie Phillips, a woman who ‘clears’ houses tells a story about arranging a house clearing for a family with two kids. Bonnie tells the host parents to make sure that the kids are off to school or with grandparents, all the pets are out of the home, because “we may stir things up”.
In this case, the younger daughter who had special needs slept with mom and dad, and the boy, off in his own bedroom, was reporting the troublesome spirits. Bonnie met the parents on the front porch and then proceeded into the house, Bonnie going in one direction and her daughter Amber heading into the boy’s bedroom. Amber heard a hiss and a growl from under the boy’s bed. She immediately thought the parents hadn’t removed the cat or dog. She went back to the front porch, in a huff, accusing them, “We can’t do our job until your remove your pets!” The parents looked at them with a blank stare, replying, “We don’t have any pets.” Thomas Freese is an author, storyteller and artist. In addition he holds a Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (ATR-BC, LPCC). He performs over 20 educational and entertaining story programs for any age audience, playing guitar and other instruments. In addition to Halloween Sleepwalker, he has also authored HAUNTED BATTLEFIELDS OF THE SOUTH, SHAKER SPIRITS, SHAKER GHOSTS, and EERIE ENCOUNTERS IN EVERYDAY LIFE with Schiffer Publishing. His website is www.ThomasLFreese.com.
© 2013 Thomas Freese. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.