Among the most famous ghosts that haunt Paris, those of the victims of the Saint-Barthelemy massacre have been seen by many people and inspired this aquarelle which can be seen at Carnavalet.

The husband – or rather the ex-husband – of the lady that Guy Breton calls Elisabeth is a famous French actor of foreign birth.  The couturiere had died several years before he wrote this.  Mr Breton is absolutely sure of the authenticity of these stories.  They had been recounted to him by trustworthy witnesses, and confirmed by others.

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In the present state of our knowledge, we can only state the facts without seeking to construct theories which would only repose on suppositions…  However, for numerous researchers, and even for numerous scientists, these phenomena are considered as the proof that beings are not annihilated by death and that they continue to live…  Apart from that, there are naturally a thousand questions to be asked:  Of what does their substance consist?  Where do they reside?  Are they happy?  Do they remain in contact with us?  etc.

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For some specialists there is, in the apparition of a ghost, only a cerebral impression which is transformed into an image.  This has no more reality than a rainbow, which we see, analyze and photograph…  However, your neighbour sees a different rainbow than the one that you see, and your left eye doesn’t see the same one that your right eye sees…  All this has no reality.  The rainbow is an optical illusion, and the ghost is perhaps – let us be prudent – an illusion created by a spirit which “suggests” a form to us…  It is this mental impression which transforms itself into an image…  Guy Breton cites another case:  it is another personality from the theatre and film worlds.  This actor – it is Michel Simon – is driving very fast one night.  Suddenly, he sees in his headlights, at the side of the road, a man who is waving his arms at him.  At the moment when he passes by him, he is astounded, for he recognizes his father…  his father who died a long time ago…  He stops, reverses:  no-one!  He is so emotional that he starts to tremble.  He prefers not to continue his route.  He turns around and goes to an inn that he had noticed on his way past.  He sleeps there.  And the next day, he learns that, about two hundred metres after the place where he had had his vision, a tree had fallen in the wind and was blocking the road…  He would most certainly have been killed if he had continued.  However, it cannot be said that the ghost of the actor’s father prevented an accident;  but he played a role in his son’s destiny.

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If we admit as a working hypothesis that ghosts exist, where do they “live”?  Metaphysicists would say;

“In another world very close to us, which is nothing more than a parallel universe with which we have, from time to time, some contact…”

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On a personal note, I have not, to my knowledge, ever seen a ghost.  I say “to my knowledge” because ghosts are frequently not diaphanous beings floating down the corridors of haunted houses.  They are often very substantial in appearance and, unless recognized by someone as being a deceased person known to him or her during its lifetime, can be thought to be a “live” person by those with whom it comes into contact.

That said, I have certainly had contacts with deceased persons from my own family:  both of my grandmothers, my father and my mother.  I am absolutely certain about the identity of the first three, and am fairly certain about the last one.  There is a very small chance that it could have been my cousin but now, several years later, I am reasonably sure that it was my mother.  I am afraid that I snarled at her to “go away” because I was afraid that the noise that she was making would wake my cousin’s daughter with whom I was sharing a room that night.  My mother was very susceptible while alive so, needless to say, she has not visited me again.  The other family members each only visited once, not very long after their deaths.

The first grandmother to die let me know that she was there by laughing softly.  She had a very distinctive, not to say annoying, laugh while alive, so there was no doubt about who she was.  I was watching my daughter sleeping.  My grandmother had known that I was pregnant before she died, and absolutely loved children, so she came to visit us a few weeks after my daughter’s birth.  Her laugh came from slightly behind me.  I was near a mirror but was placed so that I could not see either my own reflection, nor that of anything behind me.  I turned quickly to look behind me but saw nothing, then “knew” that she was no longer there.  I was very, very happy about her visit.

My second grandmother played my music-box, which was not wound-up and had been open for months with various bits and pieces of make-up standing in it.  The music was very slow.  I was in a different house from before but with the same mirror next to the music-box.  By the time I realized what was happening and turned around to look for her, she had gone.

My father was a scientist (and an artist – music and painting, although he had tried acting and writing, too) and some years before his death, while on a visit to him in Australia from France where I was living, I screwed up my courage to tell him about his mother’s visit (first grandmother) absolutely certain that he would laugh at me.  He didn’t.  He just smiled and went to his room.

Daddy was one of those men who consider females to be intellectually inferior to males.  However, he did enjoy talking to his mother-in-law (second grandmother) who was a very intelligent lady.  I am sure that they met and had a chat after his death and she told him about how she had played my music-box.  As Daddy was also the sort of man who had to be better than anyone else at everything he did (when he realized that he wasn’t, he abandoned the activity) he naturally came to play my music-box much faster, and for much longer, than his mother-in-law had done.  I had been trying to put on my make-up, through tears, to go to work, when he arrived.  The music-box started and I immediately knew who it was and was laughing and crying at the same time.  Trust Dad!  He always had to be better than anyone else!

My mother’s visit (if it was indeed she) took place in her sister’s home in Sydney, where the remaining members of the family had gone to celebrate that lady’s ninetieth birthday.  Most of us had gone to sleep at a motel but her eldest granddaughter and myself shared a room in her house for the night.  The granddaughter went to sleep straight away but I always have trouble adapting to bedrooms other than my own, so was doing my best to relax when a very annoying banging started at the end of my neighbour’s bed.  I was afraid that it would wake her, so sprang up in the dark and felt my way down to the noise.  We had both dumped all of our luggage on the floor upon arriving the day before and something (I do not remember what now) was swinging back and forth with a banging noise.  It was going faster and faster.  I grabbed it and stopped it and did my snarl.  Then proceeded to trip over some of the luggage on my way back to bed, thereby waking the room’s other occupant, which was what I had been trying to avoid in the first place.

So, those are my “contacts” with ghosts that I have been able to recognize (with the possible exception of my mother).  There have been a few other odd bits and pieces but (1) I am not sure that they were ghosts and (2) if they were, I do not know their identities.

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