In keeping with my recent theme of jobs you never knew you could have, I recently read a story a friend sent me from The Vintage News. The story concerns a spiritual counselor who is planning to marry a ghost. I didn’t know that spiritual counselor was an available job. You see, I had taken enough psychology courses in college that I could’ve had it as a minor, but I didn’t declare it. At the time I was destined, or so I thought, for a career in ministry and psychology seemed a good subject to assist with that. Also, I naturally tend to try to figure out what motivates people. Like most career options, not having a science background prevented me from pursuing psychology as a fall-back career. But spiritual counselor?
The woman in the story lives in the United Kingdom. Here in the United States, where unhappy people seek any opportunity they can find to sue someone, having a job as a spiritual counselor probably involves ordination. Even if you’re ordained, as I learned from long years both attending and teaching in seminaries, you always refer those who come to you to a licensed psychologist. Clergy can easily be sued for providing bad advice. That’s why the counselor part of this job seems so odd to me. That, and the woman the story features is only 27. I suppose that’s time enough to finish a doctorate, for the truly ambitious, but apparently she doesn’t have a terminal degree. Just a post-terminal lover.
Also, I learned that spectrophilia is a condition with a name. The idea of intimacy with spirits is nothing new, of course. The ancient idea of incubi and succubi reflect this concept, and a number of the stories in the Ed and Lorraine Warren oeuvre include sexual attacks by demons or ghosts. What’s different here is that the young woman wants to marry a spirit she can’t see. Unlike most such reputed cases of spectrophilia, she claims spirits are superior to physical lovers. Despite the oddities that make such a story newsworthy (in a sense) a potentially important point could emerge from all of this. Love is not a physical phenomenon. We all know it when we feel it. I suspect that other such feelings, like finding the perfect job that matches your skills and interests, are likewise intangible. The problem is finding out that such jobs even exist.
It’s that spooky time of year when nights have surpassed days and the chill in the air suggests an oncoming period of bleakness. Leaves are raining down off the trees and strange sounds fill the dark. So when a friend sent me an article on The Vintage News entitled “Website ‘Died in House’ can tell you how many people have died in your home & how” I had to look. At the story, I mean, not the actual website. You see, I’m not sure if I want to know too much about those who lived here before me—or died here before me. Like many people near a major city, we rent. I’ve never owned property (never had a job that paid well enough to do so) and as a renter you’re limited in what you know about your home. We’ve lived in our current situation a decade now. Of the four families in the two houses that make up the property, we’ve been here by far the longest. The house, however, has been here even longer. Has someone we’ve not met?
We live in a rational age, but we still fear ghosts. Belief in the lingering spirits of the departed goes back to the earliest written records and, we have every reason to suppose, far before that as well. We just can’t seem to shake that feeling, no matter what our rationality tells us. I didn’t go to the actual website, but Vintage News reports that it is a paid service. You want to check your address, you’re going to pay. And the results only go back to 1980. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems there’s a lot of years before that to wonder about. I mean, I was in high school in 1980 and there were lots of houses in my town that looked pretty old even then. If you’re going to pay to learn about ghosts, you want to be sure you’ve got the older periods covered as well.
I’ve lost track of the number of places I’ve lived. Some of them have been fairly old and some I have been curious about. Would I want to know if anyone had actually died there? I’m not so sure. One of the seminary houses I lived in had a spooky, neglected feel. I never saw anything that most people would characterize as a ghost, but I knew nothing of the history of the place when I moved in. It never occurred to me to ask. Now you can ask. A few keystrokes and a few dollars and you can learn if your house has “that kind” of history. The question is, with the increasing hours of darkness, and the wind whistling through the gaps around the windows, do you really want to know?