It's nearly time for the annual (hypothermia permitting) visit to the riverside to look for Jacobites. This year is much less severe than last year, it's cold and icy but it's Scotland and December so that is only to be expected. There's been very little snow so far and none of that -20C nonsense we had last year. Even though it's now 5 am I don't have the heating on because the house insulation is enough. It's looking good for this year's visit.
This Jacobite haunting is a replay event, if it's still there. The images do the same thing at the same time every year. No ghosts, no spirits, nothing to communicate with and about as scary as a movie - because that's exactly what it is. A three-dimensional recording that repeats the same way every time. Christmas is a most appropriate time to watch repeats, I think.
These can be lost if the ground is worked over for new building or for demolition. How the recording is laid down and what makes it replay is not known and it might not be the same in each case. Some just fade over time as if the tape is wearing out. Unfortunately, since we have no idea how these recordings happen, we have no way of preserving them and no means of boosting the signal. Any meddling might ruin the thing for good.
These are, I repeat, not ghosts. Not spirits. Not time-slips and not really paranormal in the strictest sense. Somehow, certain events are recorded on the environment and can be replayed. They do not interact with the observer any more than a politician on the television reacts to the things I say to them. Which is probably for the best because you can be arrested for saying some of those things these days.
Actual ghosts interact, we can converse with them and they are mostly recently deceased. I touched briefly on one aspect of that in the second edition of Ghosthunting for the Sensible Investigator' and will go deeper into it for the next edition. We see Edwardian and Victorian ghosts, sometimes there are reports of cowboys in the USA and even a few, very few in the UK from the reign of Charles the First. Further back, little or nothing.
The few reports of ghost Romans in the UK all sound like recordings. They are re-runs. There are no signs in the UK of ghost Druids or ghost Picts or ghost Anglo-Saxons or ghost Cymric or ghost Vikings or even ghost Normans. Where did they go? There aren't even recording-type phenomena to associate with them.
The older recordings might have been overwritten. In the absence of solid data we have only speculation but suppose that some places are more likely to record events than others. A high level of a particular mineral, maybe, I don't know. I also don't know the required conditions for the recording to start. So let us suppose that certain places can record when the 'record' aspect is active and that if that 'record' aspect is reactivated later, the old recording is overwritten with the new. If it isn't, the old recording stays but fades over time.
Let us further suppose that pressing the 'record' button is not easy and requires some specific and rare combination of conditions, and they might not occur in all recording-places at the same time. That would allow Roman recordings in York to still be there and Jacobites in Scotland and monks at various abbeys in England and cowboys in the USA and Aztecs in Peru and so on.
Back to the point. There are still old recordings around but where are the old ghosts? Scotland is littered with stone circles and menhirs and dolmens with Pictish carvings but none of them have any Pictish ghosts. There are not even ghosts of the Norman invaders here. What happened to them?
Did they all move on to some kind of spirit world or is it worse than that? Did they simply die?
The first response in most people's minds will be 'Don't be silly. They can't die if they're already dead' but they're not dead, are they?
Their physical, flesh and bone body is dead but those spirits move, think and interact. They are not alive in the sense that we are alive but they have a form of life and any form of life could potentially end. Physics demands that they must take in energy in some form. It's not in the form of burger and fries but they must take in energy in order to be active. They are still part of the natural universe and still bound by the basic laws of physics.If they run out of energy and cannot find more, does the same thing happen to them as happens to us?
Over time, those old ghosts vanish. Do they die?