Ghost Tales of the Arctic: The Frozen Spectre

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore
Haunted Boardwalk
Haunted Boardwalk

One Halloween night, as the sun slipped beneath the horizon, the young children were coming back from their rounds through the little Yup’ik village on the tundra in Southwest Alaska. The teenagers had waited their turn and eagerly squeezed out of their home, as their mother told them they were allowed to leave. They raced through to each of the small houses that dotted the dark, decrepit, and narrow boardwalks that snaked through the village. Not all of them donned costumes and there was still not yet a flake of snow on the ground, a rare occurrence for such a chilly autumnal night. The tall grass line the boardwalk like two moving walls that whispered with the winds that rushed through the spaces between the houses. They grabbed candy within the first house, then came back out and started back off; at each of the doors, they held their plastic grocery sacks aloft, and they became more heavily laden with candies and treats.

After coming out of the fourth house they spotted something strange emerging from the tall grasses onto the boardwalk behind them—it was a traditional Yup’ik parka, the hood was up and the ruff obscured the view of the face within. It wouldn’t have been strange except for the fact that it had no visible feet or hands. The teenagers sprinted to the next house, scared to death and unsure of what the seemingly floating parka had really been, but they were unwilling to say anything about what they had seen to the adults that were now handing them candy.

Ghost Parka
Photography by Joe Leahy

Between each and every stop for candy, the teens stepped outside and the floating parka had appeared again, as if it was just waiting to scare them. They had all grown up hearing the traditional stories of ghosts and ghouls—all meant to teach them to be cautious in one way or another, as a way to keep them safe in their unforgiving lands. They had a sense that they were being pranked—as if to test their knowledge and preparedness, but not a single one of them could muster up the courage to approach the floating apparition or to try to figure out who was toying with them.

The far north side of the village is where the last batch of houses resided—the travel between where the teenagers were and where their last glimpse of the prized sweets laid was a lengthy weaving, dismally unlit sprawling boardwalk. This path took them directly past the hauntingly abandoned teacher’s quarters that the entire village regularly avoided being near and even speaking about in passing. They made their way down the boardwalk towards this last remaining treasure trove of candy, when the little parka appeared behind them once again. One of the teens looked behind them as they crawled into the artic entry of one of the houses and saw its silhouette looming alone between the spirit-infested teacher’s quarters and the house they entered, blocking their dark and dreadful passage home.

The teenagers reappeared cautiously from the house, but the little parka was nowhere to be seen–each house they exited they huddled together in fear that the ghostly figure would leap out of the shadows and attack them from the front or back, but it didn’t. Then one of the teens gasped and pointed, there it was in the darkness beneath a building, huddled behind one of the steel posts that propped it up from the permafrost–it sat upright, waiting for them. All at once, it sprang up toward them with a hideous scream and chased the teenagers down the boardwalk, growls emanated from the unending abyss of the hood. As the spirit overcame them, they recognized the dead black eyes that sat deep in his sunken frostbitten features; it was the village boy whose snow machine had broken through the ice on the river. The boy had then managed to climb out from what would have been a certain death only to succumb to the elements before anyone could find him, only a year prior.

Broken Ice
Photography by Eberhard Gross-Gasteiger

Ghost, Demon, or Poltergeist?

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Horror Mystery and Lore
Silhouette Behind the Door
Photography by MontyLov

Haunted by Ghosts

As was discussed in our article Ghosts Can Be More Than Just Dead People, ghosts are generally the spirits of humans and animals that have passed away. What people assume or claim are ghosts are not necessarily fitting of their description, but it’s easy to understand why the whole thing might be a little bit confusing. The truth is, is that ghosts, demons, and poltergeists are often mislabeled and it, therefore, makes it more difficult to really know what kind of being the evidence acquired actually points to. Ghosts, spirits, and apparitions all point to the same thing—the spirit or soul of a human or animal that has passed on. These spirits haunt locations, objects, and most importantly other living creatures. Haunting living creatures is not to be confused with possessing living creatures, not to say they are unable to possess, but not all possessions are ghostly in nature—and this is an important distinction to be made.

Possessed by Demons

A lady screaming in the dark
Photography by Camila Quintero Franco

Another topic for confusion is how demons are perceived, this is unfortunate because much of the evidence for demons seems to simply be cases of malevolent ghosts and not entities that are truly demonic in nature. One such misinformed definition, from Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, is that demons are, “a type of spirit that may be either good or evil that allegedly has the ability to intervene in the affairs of humankind.” While it’s true that many cultures perceive some demonic entities to be good, the word spirit was a poor choice in attempting to define what a demon actually is.

Religious definitions, such as the one from Christianity, assert that demons are evil minions of Satan and that their sole purpose is to torment people, then inevitably lead them into sin. The strategic takeover of pagan cultures turned their deities into demons in Christianity. Other religions, however, suggest that demons can be good or evil entities—or indeed have a dual nature like human beings. Regardless of the nature of the entity, good or evil, demons quite often exercise their ability to possess or inhabit living creatures. There are instances reported where demons have possessed inanimate objects, but this can be chalked up to another case of a ghost that has been mislabeled as a demonic entity.

Terrorized by Poltergeists

Demons and poltergeists are also quite frequently confused for one another—the main reason for this is because Poltergeists are mischievous and often malicious spirits or energy. Ghosts and poltergeists also confused for each other, but poltergeists, in particular, are entities or energies identified by their consistent abilities to interact in a vigorous way with their environment. It would be unfair to say that poltergeists are not, in fact, a type of ghost or spirit, but if they are to be classified as ghosts in any sense, they are in a league of their own entirely.

The earliest reports of poltergeists tell of the different types of interactions they have within the environment that they inhabit. These interactions include, but were not limited to, throwing rocks or other objects, loud noises (such as shrieking, and knocking or rapping), inexplicable lights and apparitions, as well as in rare cases sexual assaults. Later cases would grow to include technology-related events, such as phone numbers being dialed repeatedly or televisions turning on. The speculation that remains with poltergeists relates to the scientific data that has been collected in pursuit of evidence of their existence—many cases of poltergeist activity have clear indications of mental problems within the agent (or the primary person being affected) that even support theories of psychokinesis.

Some examples of poltergeist activity caught on camera.

Hopefully, this helps answer an age-old question we often see: “What is the difference between a ghost, a demon, and a poltergeist?” Below are a few scary movie recommendations related to ghosts, demons, and poltergeists.

Why the Dead Come Back to Haunt Us

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

A common question on the minds of those who believe in ghosts, is what causes a dead person to reappear as a ghost? Unfortunately, this topic isn’t as well researched as the topic of whether or not ghosts actually exist, so there is no real scientific data to back it up—but there is plenty of folklore and a bounty of ghost culture to draw appropriate conclusions from. If you have friends like mine, you’ve likely heard the words, “if I die, I’m coming back to haunt you!” This is largely due to the extensive amount of lore that exists about ghosts and what may have caused the deceased person to turn into a ghost after passing. There are reasons that are not quantifiable by science that cause the spirit to linger after death, whether it be justice or revenge—as was displayed in The Tale of the Red Skeleton, as well as The Ghost’s Tea Kettle, the ghost usually has a reason to come back—soul-consuming grief or simply unfinished business that needs to be attended to, or settled before they can rest.

Common Apparitions That Haunt the Living

These are, of course, assumptions based on select ghost sightings, most of these sightings are ones that can be considered common, where the history corroborates any reason for the ghost to be there at all.

The White Lady

The White Lady walking through the forest
Photography by Chirobocea

As can be assumed by their moniker, a White Lady or Lady in White is a female ghost, whose apparition is always fully clothed in white. Her appearance is always associated with a local tragic legend and she appears in areas that used to be either rural or continue to be rural. The White Lady apparitions are found across the world and are especially prominent in English-speaking countries, or places where there used to be a large English-speaking community. The appearance of one of these spirits follows the history of a woman committing suicide after the heartbreak of losing a child, husband, or father—with a heavy emphasis of innocence on the part of the woman who ends up becoming the White Lady. It is theorized by ghost hunters and enthusiasts alike, that the appearance of these spirits is due to a lingering connection to the world of the living, even after death, due to the magnitude of the grief that they experienced just prior to their deaths.

The Lady in Red

The Red Lady standing alone in a room
Photography by Vladimir Fedotov

In what would appear to be direct opposition to the White Lady, the Red Lady is also a female ghost, but her sightings are attributed to a woman that was not quite as chaste. The Red Lady or Lady in Red is always associated with a woman who displayed vanity in life, a prostitute that was the victim of passion gone wrong, or a jilted lover. Not unlike the White Lady, the Red Lady is found worldwide. She does haunt different types of locations though; places that have historic value, such as old hotels, theatres, and other public venues. There is a particularly large concentration of them that are located in old mining communities, due to the commonality of brothels being such a booming business. It is important to note that in the case of this kind of apparition, the woman is wearing a red dress and is commonly thought of as a victim of objectification. Despite her poor treatment in life, she is never really described as a hostile spirit, but may not be overly friendly all the time.

The Witte Wieven

Witte Wieven amassing as fog on a hill
Photography by Ricardo Angel Gomez

The folklore of the Witte Wieven dates back to the pre-Christian era of what is now known as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France—they are the spirits of wise women, who in life were the highly regarded female herbalists and healers, who cared for the physical and mental ailments of their people. Much like the White Lady, the Witte Wieven is said to appear as a pure white apparition, but instead of a clear figure, she is more of a fog or a mist the engulfs the entirety of the location she appears in. More often than not, when the Witte Wieven is mentioned in the text, it is often cited that they were known for their ability of prophecy and generally looking into the future. These women held such a high status that upon their deaths, a celebration would be held at their burial site in their honor. With the trend of other spirits lingering on due to some type of woe, or unfinished business, it might seem strange that the Witte Wieven, according to their mythology, remain on the earthly plane in order to help and sometimes hinder those who encounter them at their gravesites and other sacred locations.

What Haunts the Dead?

It’s not quite clear if there is always a reason for a spirit to remain behind, as the spirits mentioned above are just common cases that have been reported and can easily be tracked by their notoriety. It’s important to keep an open mind to the idea that there may be another reason why these spirits are unable to move on—but with the limited information that is available on the where, why, and how of spirits and their manifestations, it is commonly believed that these spirits are equally haunted by the living as the living are haunted by the dead.