A Tabletop Haunting

If I offered the phrase ghosts in the wood you’d think I meant in the forest or among living trees. What if the ghosts in the wood came with the logs. The planks and boards. The framing of a house, the flooring, and the furniture; ghosts in the wood. I’ve long speculated that I can hear ghosts in hardwood floors and woodpiles. You’ve seen me write this many times. But I just assumed this is where ghosts chose to hang out; as in come and go but linger in/near the wood. If that’s true then the ghost who lives in my dining room table just made an appearance. As in, in a photo.

This is not the first time I’ve had a ghost show up in a photo. Last time it happened I took a self-portrait for one my projects and a small girlish face was hovering around my forehead. It was the day after my friend Nancy died. I happened to take that one while standing next to my woodpile. There have been other instances as well. It happened again yesterday but this time indoors. See if you can spot it.

When I cut back herbs I either use them immediately or dry them for cooking or medicinal applications. Sometimes when they are flowering I will plunk them in water to enjoy as a bouquet. Makes my shabby suburban ranch smell like a garden cottage. Sometimes it’s so pretty I want to share. I took this photo fully intending to crop it down but as I brightened it up I saw the face. See it? Right side? Just past halfway down?

Here’s the raw photo:

Still don’t see it? Here; let’s do this.

Gasp! I know! Cool, huh?

After getting several of these over the years I’m wondering if they aren’t ghosts at all or if I’m wrong about ghostly proportions. I neglected to note these faces always show up in miniature. This one is particularly tiny. Smaller than a mandarin, if you scroll back up to the full-size photo. My knowledge of ghosts is elementary at best but at every mention or depiction ghosts are generally represented as life-size or even larger. Not smaller. Certainly not miniature. Ergo these must some other kind of creatures.

Sprites, perhaps? Tree sprites, I thought, but European mythology says they live among living trees. What kind of sprite lives in/among dead wood or finished wood products? After a cursory search it appears this isn’t a thing, so to speak. However, it is widely held that all old furniture (or previously owned items in general) hold the energies of the previous owners. This is an un-remodeled home. Original floors and such. Secondhand and inherited furniture and such, including the dining table. But why would the previous owners shrink down to palm-sized floating faces?

There is, of course, the notion that all of this wood is a coincidence and the pixie faces and voices and music are common to me. I’m always surrounded by old wood when I’m here and the woodpile has good lighting for self-portraits. So maybe the ghosts are just always around me and it has nothing to do with the wood. And maybe not ghosts but something I haven’t done enough research to properly identify. It also must be considered that they might always be hovering around everyone everywhere and I’m simply one of those people who can hear them. And can apparently photograph them.

I sent the photo to a friend to make sure she could see it too. She could, so I assume anyone could. I assume you can.

But I can tell you this — it’s not scary. Not even this little skully face playing in the oregano and sage. Nothing mean or menacing is perceived or felt. I get a female vibe from it. I knew I’d write this post but I slept on it first. Had good dreams. Woke up with an old Billy Joel ballad in my head. And it’s been the same with every other encounter. Nothing to frighten or repel or make me anything other than more curious. So if I am haunted or my home is haunted or my wooden products are haunted, it’s not at all like a bullshit ghost story or horror flick.

This photo was the final edit for Instagram. Cropped, rotated, and filtered. Rather boring without my table sprite, don’t you think? I’ve read a few articles about ghosts in digital photography. The ghostly images are mostly explained away as quirks. Quirks; that’s the best the internet has come up with to explain them. Other than shaking the device to cause blur, long exposure times catching things moving, and other debunking theories.

This was a iPhone. No special setting or app; just the regular camera function with its default setting. I was alone. I didn’t shake it. Nothing moved into the frame that I could see with the naked eye. It’s also not a double exposure nor an effect added by another app or filter. I went back to the table this afternoon and stood in the same place, looking at/through the flowers with my own eyes rather than the phone’s screen. I can’t identify anything which might have caused the quirk. None of the photos I took later the same night contained quirks. It’s still okay if you think it’s bogus.

Most of the time I struggle with getting people to believe me when I express an idea, tell a story, or offer a theory. I take it personally when I am not believed. I get upset. It hurts my feelings. Mostly because I am a reformed liar and living in truth is part of my wellness and wholeness practice. Perhaps this is an opportunity to acknowledge that the point of telling the truth is not only to be believed by others but to live in alignment with honesty. It’s still better to live in truth and speak that truth even if no one believes me. I firmly contend truth is critical to wellness and not just when it is easy, convenient, or facilitates an advantage.

In this vein I am likewise content believing something I can’t prove or explain. Life is better with magic in it. And old furniture. And things in miniature.

— Mercy

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