I’ve got something for your mind, your body, and your soul — a revelation that may just change the way you view Halloween and the world (and beyond!) as you know it. Zombies, I realized recently, are the exact opposite of ghosts. We’re talking two halves of a whole, paranormal yin and yang, the scent of peanut butter combined with jelly that is lacking a taste. My reasoning is simple: In popular conception, ghosts are souls without bodies, whereas zombies are bodies without souls. It’s really that simple, folks. Happy Halloween!
I happened upon this epiphany in September while attending the Burning of Zozobra at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The annual tradition climaxes with a giant marionette man burned in effigy (via, at least this year, fireworks implanted in him, so that he burst into flames from the inside out). The idea is for attendees to write down what’s vexing them and place them in the giant man sculpture so that when he goes up in flames, so do their worries.
Because this event was broadcast live on local television, there was a lot of lead-up to the pyrotechnical climax. This year’s Zozobra was ‘80s-themed, so part of this dance included a stand-off between people dressed as Ghostbusters and people dressed as zombies. It wasn’t exactly what I would call “ballet,” but because no words were spoken, it wasn’t explicitly clear what was going on; the Ghostbusters and zombies shuffled around the stage, squaring off in various configurations. Ultimately the performance fizzled out, and the zombies and Ghostbusters disappeared with no resolution. It all seemed like a waste of time until I realized that of course there was no resolution because Ghostbusters don’t bust zombies, nor should they, since zombies are the opposite of ghosts. Sending Ghostbusters in to do that kind of work is like asking Ghandi to perform an exorcism, or taking your cat to the beach and throwing a Frisbee at its face. Just as you don’t put microwave popcorn in a fridge and expect to pull out an edible snack, you don’t ask Ghostbusters to take care of your zombie problem.
Whether or not this is what I was supposed to glean in this wheels-spinning performance, I am not sure, but I’ll forever be indebted to those interpretive dancers for the insight.
If it is true that zombies and ghosts are opposites (and I think by now we all know it’s true), then that also means that from one life can come two different kinds of afterlife entities. Your spirit can float off on ghost business, while your body stumbles around the earth looking for brains to consume. That is true multitasking.
Is this “sound reasoning” given what those still among us know about the paranormal? I don’t know! I’m basing it on what I’ve seen in movies and an interpretive dance routine that had no grounding in sound science itself. We’re all trying our best, especially the zombies among us.
For some help thinking through this, I reached out to paranormal experts (your ghost hunters and the like), and a few actually got back to me. “We’ve never really encountered zombies, and we don’t really do zombie work, but we do a lot throughout the paranormal field more than just ghosts, so if something came up like that, we would look into that,” Gina Caprari of Empirical Paranormal (based in Binghamton, NY) told me by phone. That didn’t stop her and her son Dominic, who also works at Empirical, from agreeing with me that, in fact ghosts and zombies are exact opposites. Dominic also agreed that this being the case, a ghost and zombie could theoretically... wait for it... come from the same human life.
“If somebody were to bewitch a body and give it the ability to have motor function again, that same body could absolutely have produced a spirit ‘cause the two were ripped in twain, so to speak,” he said. “The spirit is the energy that can’t be destroyed whereas the mortal coil can lay dormant until given resurrection.”
I asked Dominick Pepito of Universal Paranormal (which recently moved its base from Florida to New York) if a ghost and a zombie could derive from the same single human source and he said, “Of course it can. Just like a vampire can be a ghost. It’s been known to happen. There’s documentation of such things.” Furthermore: “There’s truth to every legend and story out there, so just to brush it off and say it doesn’t exist or it’s not out there would be a little naive of us.” Regarding his expertise, Pepito was direct and confident about his company’s superiority: “Nobody understands the paranormal better than us.”
Paranormal of Wisconsin co-founder and lead investigator Jason Bertram had this to say in response to my email asking whether ghosts are the opposites of zombies and, if so, whether it means one person could become both a ghost and a zombie:
Your questions raise many interesting topics of discussion. I am only too happy to offer my experiences and expertise to the conversation.
In the 12 plus years of our team’s investigating the paranormal, entities/ghosts/disembodied spirits seem to share many of the same qualities. They come in the form of mist, shadow figures, and voices. I’ve performed CPR on many people, in the past, when I was a police officer. While doing so, if the patient passed, you sometimes can see a shadow leave the body; I’ve witnessed this. You can ask many intensive care nurses/doctors about this. They’ve told me (nurses) in interviews that this is in fact a common phenomenon.
To say yes to your question would put me into a position of looking like I’ve come in contact with a zombie in the past. So did I? You tell me. We had a case where a man committed suicide in his vehicle as it was parked in his garage with the engine running. He suffered from PTSD from war. This was not a “latest war” but we believe World War II. The information we gathered led to this assumption; talking with locals and printed information. He grunted and yelled during our investigation. He kicked over a piece of our equipment. So as a result of his condition did he turn himself into a zombie? As a way to deal with the pains of war? Or, did a demon take over his soul as a host to cause trouble in the physical world? Because he was not strong enough to fend off evil energy? The owners of this property have a very difficult time renting this apartment because of this man. Call it a zombie, a demon, a form of negative energy, one thing is certain - it is powerful.
I think that the term “zombie” is getting a bad rap. It seems to be associated with video games and sci-fi movies more so than ever before. And not being discussed in a professional manner. So bravo for bringing this topic up.
In my opinion this conversation should definitely take place. As we learn more about the afterlife more questions arise.
Well, there you have it: Three out of three paranormal enterprises whose operators answered my query agree! Ghosts are the opposites of zombies, and a single person could produce both entities. What if your own ghost and your own zombie fought each other after your brain died? Who would win? Incredible that we have yet to see a movie exploring this (though, in my reading I have discovered that the video game Kingdom Hearts plays with this concept). If true, this is big and actually something to look forward to. Who says the future is bleak?