1. notleia says:

    The Navajo apparently believe that the real personality and virtues leave the body after death and the “chindi” left is the petty, vindictive impulses. It’s why they have a strong taboo against being around corpses.

    It’s kinda strange, the tension between our fear of dead stuff and our development of rituals like burial for the dead. There’s evidence that even Neanderthals buried the dead.

    I guess it depends on whether you knew the person. At my grandma’s funeral recently, some part of my mind was going, dang Grandma’s gonna be miffed when she finds out her lipstick was crooked. Because clearly my non-logical brain bits had not processed the reality of the situation.

    • Yeah, I think a lot of the rituals have to do with our own complexity and need for closure. I’m convinced that if Neanderthals were simpletons, they wouldn’t be burying the dead. It’s our complex emotional makeup (and ability to use our imagination for complex thought) that leads us to spiritual rituals.

    • Merri B. says:

      It is strange, but I always figured the purpose of burial rituals was to kind of sanctify the situation and make up (in a way) for the dishonor of being dead. :p So like it would make sense together even if it seems contradictory on the surface.

  2. Merri B. says:

    Wow. Lewis’s explanation does make a lot of sense (I’ve often wondered why some of the scariest concepts have nothing to do with danger). But on the other hand, I also feel like part of what makes ghosts scary is the question of what they’re immersed in — what WE could be immersed in — and of what they could SHOW us. Like, the scariest thing about ghost stories, to me, has always been the idea that they could show you something you don’t want to know. Not that I have any clue what it is, but that’s probably the point.

    I guess it all does come back to the fear of the split, though — we’re not just disgusted and scandalized by what the body “experiences” when the spirit leaves it, we’re also terrified of what the spirit might experience when it leaves the body. ._. Apparently the human spirit has an instinctive, inexpressible horror at the thought of walking around naked among– what? Brrrr. >_< And then you come up with all sorts of nasty, creepy folklore because apparently humans are like that.

    On the other hand, the same vague mystery probably also fuels the sense of the transcendent in uplifting ghost stories. Because you see hints of God, and the sense that there's something bigger than the terrifying darkness… 6_6 Something that can defeat it.

What do you think?