Diversity in the afterlife

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 at 6:25 PM

Susan Stush of the financial aid office presented a lecture in the spirit of Halloween on Oct. 25. “Diversity in the Afterlife” discussed the traditional beliefs in the paranormal and afterlife from cultures across the world. Although there are many differences in each culture, it is rather haunting to think about how we all share concepts of apparitions, ghosts and spirits. 

The presentation began with Stush covering the Greeks’ and Romans’ views of the afterlife and traditions, along with folklore from Mesopotamia, the Japanese Shinto, and Celts. The views of different religions such as Catholicism, Islam and philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism were also included. 

Major holidays such as the Hungry Ghost Festival in Chinese culture, Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, and Samhain in Celtic traditions were explained, connecting the importance of the living and their traditions for departed souls. 

Looking to strike a balance between informative and spooky, Stush delved into specific concepts of what was perceived as ghosts and spirits in each religion and culture. Even demons received a swift spotlight with the figure of Lilith, who is a notable figure in not only Christianity, but Mesopotamia as well. The Banshee was an infamous spirit in Celtic folklore, who was said to be a spirit of a woman who loved in tragedy, while her haunting wailing was said to be a portend of death. 

The presentation ended with some very unsettling modern day ghost stories. There are reports of howling and apparitions after 9/11 in NYC. After the Christchurch earthquake of 2011 in New Zealand, people reported screaming and apparitions wandering around. The tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 has brought in reports of people wandering the beach late at night and requesting cab drivers to take them to a certain spot, and then disappearing halfway through the ride. A possible explanation of these sightings could be the brain’s way of coping with the horrors, called a “trauma apparition.”

Stush is especially interested in the World Trade Center apparitions. She explained to me the story of how young firefighters and personnel working to rescue people out of the rubble during 9/11 reported several sightings of a woman wearing a World War II nurse’s outfit and pushing a tray of coffee around. It completely shocked many of the people who saw her, and is difficult to explain how these people, many of which had never even seen a woman in that attire before, saw this figure. 

When asked what interested her in this subject matter and if she had a favorite culture that especially interested her, Stush said: “I’ve always been interested in the paranormal; I’ve been a Paranormal Investigator for many years. All of the cultures really interest me, along with ghost lore and concepts.” 

She continued: “People want to be skeptical about these kind of things, but the unknown has always existed. Our brains and beliefs are products of centuries of history and culture.” 

Stush also commented on the importance of embracing history for what it is and taking the initiative to learn from our mistakes and beliefs of the past.

“We need to embrace history for what it is. You cannot teach a watered down-version because it might make you uncomfortable, show history for what it really is.”

Livia Homerski can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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