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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Evil from Beyond the Grave

This article was written by Keith Randolph on May 13, 2002
posted under Psychic Protection

Thousands of Grade-Z horror movies and hack novels with occult themes—not to mention thousands of years of superstitious beliefs—have caused most human beings to think of the dead as a threat to the living and ghosts as entities up to no good. The evidence from human experience, documented in the serious literature of psychical research, shows us otherwise, however. While contacts between the dead and the living are in fact not at all uncommon (as any number of polls and surveys have shown), the experiences are positive in the great majority of cases. Usually they involve the return of a deceased spouse, relative, or friend, and they provide a measure of comfort to the grief-stricken living.

But it is not only good people who die and survive. There are deranged people who die but who remain, even as spirits, evil. They may also attack normal people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Evil spirits may also come from those who were not bad people, but who led desperately unhappy lives, or who died terrible deaths. Their spirits have been affected adversely—in other words, by the circumstances of their lives or deaths. It is even possible that these spirits are not consciously evil, but simply confused, desperate, and not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. But they can still be dangerous to the living.

Malevolent discarnates are usually associated with haunted houses, of course, but they are certainly not limited to such places. They have been known to occupy other geographical locations, such as a stretch of highway (where they may cause deadly accidents), a swamp, a factory, or in fact, just about any place one can imagine. Typically the discarnate is associated with the place in some way; he may have died there, perhaps, or committed some monstrous act.

We also know that at least some evil spirits are not bound to any particular place and can follow their victims to the ends of the earth if they so desire.

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