By Fran Pacchiano
Rational explanations for the supernatural.
What is superstition?
It’s a credulous belief in anything strange or supernatural. A quick Google Search says that correlation is unjustified to equate to causation, however, there is a traditional, cultural element at play in superstition. Is that right? That depends on what you believe. My roommate, Greg, for example, thinks our apartment is haunted, but he was raised Roman Catholic, so he thinks everything is haunted. From the time he was a toddler his mom told him about demonic and ghostly explanations for common superstitions. Does that mean he’s right or wrong? No. That’s just his frame for existence.
I keep seeing repeating numbers, is that a sign?
Numbers are everywhere. The world is built on maths. Sequences are the core of how the earth works. We spin on a rotational axis with an exact amount of tilt so the sun doesn’t kill us. We are in the Goldilocks sweet spot of the solar system. Fibonacci’s spirals are all around us. Ones, threes, thirteens, these numbers are what keeps us in symmetry, in balance. Can repeating numbers mean something outside of science? Only if you want them to.
Pythagorous believed numbers to be vibrations and that our reality was the physical manifestation of them. Numerology assigns value from unseen ancestors or spirits in the fifth dimension who use numbers in patterns to send messages. For example, after a shower last week, the numbers 6161 were scrawled in the fog on my bathroom mirror. Greg said it was a sign that the ‘devil was testing us.’ Greg, however, had used the bathroom before I did, and he likes to play pranks. Also, I told him about this column. So, Greg, if you’re reading: Ha, ha.
Are black cats bad luck?
Black cats get a bad rep. The witch hunts of the 16th century associated black cats with witchcraft when the church said the devil could take the form of a black cat. But that was an unfair belief formed in fear. Before that, the church had cats eradicated which led to an uprising of rats during the Bubonic Plague. Black cats are loving and intelligent companions. I would have a cat but Greg is allergic to them. My neighbourhood is full of delightful black cats and I have not had bad luck. In fact, one of them snuck into our apartment a few weeks ago and it was lovely. I did miss my connecting bus and I was late to work but that’s because I overslept. The cats had nothing to do with it. Greg, however, broke out in hives and puked all night. Nothing that a little Allegra didn’t fix. Right, Greg?
Is my house haunted?
Did the lights flicker? Was the WIFI low in one corner of the kitchen? Perhaps there’ve been sudden drops in temperature in your living room, or unexplained footsteps coming from the attic? I’d say it was the storm we had last week rather than an ectoplasmic house guest. Also, you should probably buy a new router.
Have you ever played with a Ouija board? The planchette seems to move on its own to spell out words and messages, proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that phantoms, demons, and poltergeists exist. Right? Wrong. Ideomotor movements are what cause the “ghost” to speak. It’s your own subconscious movements. You want it to speak and so it does. Greg and I played this a couple weeks ago. We tried “contacting” the spirit of his Hungarian aunt on his dad’s side, but we were only able to get a hold of some guy named Belial. Wrong number, I guess. Greg, the perpetual worrier that he is, freaked out and tried smudging the apartment with sage afterwards and burned his finger. Served him right, that’s cultural appropriation, at least, I’m pretty sure it was.
What should I do if I hear buzzing in my house?
You’ve been on one of those ghost tours. You thought you saw the woman walking the halls of Beban House and now she’s followed you home. Did the gooseflesh creep up your arms? Did you hear the rattle of teacups and saucers? Look, if you’re really worried about it, tinkle the last two keys on the piano. It hates that. But let’s be honest, this is just your imagination. You wanted to see something, so you did, and now your imagination won’t leave you alone.
Greg, for example, was obsessed with the wall between our living room and kitchen . He thought it was buzzing and that someone, or something, was communicating through the noise. He couldn’t, however, effectively communicate what the message was or who it was from. I got tired of watching him press his ear against the wall, nodding, and even whispering to it, so I called our landlord, and he called pest control. The exterminator cut open the wall and found a giant beehive. It was probably five feet across and teamed with thousands of honeybees. Greg cried when he removed the hive, but I was happy. I mean, there were at least five thousand honeybees in there. It must have really bolstered the population! #Savethebees.
“We tried “contacting” the spirit of his Hungarian aunt on his dad’s side, but we were only able to get a hold of some guy named Belial. Wrong number, I guess.”
I broke my mirror, am I cursed?
For seven years. No, goddammit. You’re not cursed. It’s a mirror. It’s glass with a coating of a metal amalgam that makes it reflective, not a portal to the spirit world. They break. Get a broom and clean it up. Make sure to wrap the glass in a paper bag or something so you don’t cut the garbage bag. And just stop worrying. You’ll be fine. A message Greg has not seemed to have received. Since the removal of the beehive, his obsession has only grown. Who the heck needs Minera Dead Sea Salt stacked around the house like sandbags warding off a flood? That was our rent money. It apparently angered the ‘spirit’ to remove the hive and a salt circle is the next logical step in protection. The next logical step is to get psychiatric help.
How do you protect against spirits trying to kill you?
Greg? Is that you? Have you been writing all these questions? For the last time, we do not have a spirit in the house.
Let me guess. You felt something shove you. You heard a voice suggest something you wouldn’t normally think. Perhaps you felt something sit on your chest while you were in bed. These are all common occurrences and simple mind tricks. You’re probably overtired, have you tried taking magnesium?
Greg is under the impression the ‘spirit’ is opening a portal to hell in his bedroom. He claims to have woken up levitating above his bed. The floor, he said, was a swirling pit of molten red hellfire that burned his skin. I, however, never saw any sort of portal to ‘hell.’ He showed me a nasty burn on his back, but when I inspected his room for evidence, all I found were cat hairs in his bed. Obviously, this is nothing more than a delusion filled, allergic reaction to the lovely strays that keep sneaking into our apartment. So, Greg, if you’re reading this, take your fucking Allegra!
Fran Pacchiano is the mom friend of the group. She became the artistic director of GOOEY with experience from a past job where she’d lied on her resume and googled the answers. She aspires to be a little old lady in a house at the end of the street who gives cookies to children, and who grows oleander flowers for her bees.