Relax, It's Only a Ghost: My Adventures with Spirits, Hauntings, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Relax, It's Only a Ghost: My Adventures with Spirits, Hauntings, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

By Echo L. Bodine
Boston, MA: Element, 2000. Hardback, xxxvi + 123 pages.

This book is a series of purportedly real ghost stories drawn from thirty years of personal experience by the author, a psychic from the St. Paul-Minneapolis area of Minnesota, so most of the stories are of ghosts in buildings from that area. The author calls herself (and her brother, who often accompanies her on her investigations) a "ghost-buster." In other words, it is her intention when she's called to a haunted house (or other building) to attempt to communicate with the ghosts and "send them to the light." She often speaks of their going through a tunnel in order to get there. She states that she is paid a fee for doing so.

Each chapter concludes with some advice on how to handle different types of ghosts. She also often confesses that she has considerable apprehension, even great fear, associated with her visits to such places and sometimes has to call upon her "spirit guides" to assist her in her (apparently successful) work. That is very different from the experience of some Theosophical psychics (Geoffrey Hodson, Phoebe Bendit, and Dora Kunz) I have known. I find some of her stories unbelievable. And there is no attempt to describe the nature of "electronic equipment that measures ghost activity" (chs. 13, 15), so one is left quite skeptical about it.

I recall something Phoebe Bendit once told me when I was a young Theosophist working at Olcott in 1957 between my undergraduate and graduate studies. It was Halloween and a group of us had gathered in the library to tell or read our favorite "ghost stories." Phoebe, who was at Olcott with her husband, Laurence, at the time, suddenly walked in, and I asked her to tell us "some real ghost stories." Her reply surprised all of us. She said something to the effect that we didn't really want to do that because "ghosts are the most boring things imaginable." It seems the ghosts could tell that Phoebe was clairvoyant and were constantly bothering her with requests to contact their relatives and tell them they were all right. Phoebe asked, "Don't they realize that I'm a busy person and don't have time for such trivial concerns?"

Echo Bodine's stories have none of that quality. Her interpretation of her psychic experiences is taken at face value and obviously heavily influenced by her Christian background. For example, she makes no attempt to discriminate between earth-bound discarnate souls and what are termed in Theosophical literature "shells," i.e. astral corpses left behind by persons who have already gone on to devachan, as her description of some of them suggests they may be. All the ghosts she experiences are considered by her to be people who have, for one reason or another, not gone on to "heaven" to be with "God."

There is not just one ghost haunting the houses she visits, but usually there are a large number of them. Many of them frighten her. I am not clairvoyant, but my experiences in investigating so-called haunted houses over the past: twenty-five years has been very different from hers. And my interpretation of the paranormal events occurring in these houses is obviously influenced by my study of Theosophy-although I must confess that not everything I have heard fits conveniently into Theosophical theories.

If you enjoy reading ghost stories not told to frighten, you may find this book entertaining, even reassuring. If you are looking for insights into the phenomena, you will be better served by reading the Bendits' This World and Thatrelevant portions of The Secret Doctrine or the Mahatma Lettersor any number of C. W. Leadbeater's writings.


May/June 2001