A Gallery of Useful Ghosts

Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

A Gallery of Useful Ghosts


Ghosts haunt people's imaginations all around the world. This collection of colorful spirits filled widely different needs for the people who invented them.

ZAR (a kind of genie) a demanding spirit who attacks women. The spirit will depart if beautiful clothing, jewelry and other luxuries are provided. Husbands of women bothered by these spirits are said to be somewhat suspicious of its demands. (Middle East)

Gremlin--a spirit that causes breakdowns in modern technology, especially aircraft. WW I pilots liked to blame technical problems on Gremlins. (US, Europe)

BOGEY, BOOGIE MAN, BUG-ABOO, BOO, BOGGART, and simular names--a huge horrible, evil spirit that lives in a hole and comes out at night. Adults use this spirit to frighten children into good behavior. (British)

DEMON QUELLER--a protective spirit--sometimes fierce and sometimes comical--dedicated to fighting evil demons. (Chinese, Japanese)

GRATEFUL DEAD--this is more than the name of an aging 60s Rock band. Folktales told of ghosts who rewarded kindness. In one, villagers refuse to bury a poor man, but a traveler passing though the village kindly pays for the man's funeral. Later when the traveler runs into trouble he is saved by a mysterious stranger--the ghost of the person he helped bury--one of the GRATEFUL DEAD.

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