Spirits that roam the Earth, by Javier Claure Covarrubias

“The castle of ghosts”, a mansion on Drottninggatan street, in the heart of Stockholm, is famous for the horror stories attributed to it.

Ghost stories date back to ancient times, and it is precisely these stories that fit into literature, television series and countless movies. Everywhere we are there are stories related to ghosts. In some places they are called the widow, the boogeyman, the k’achachola (beautiful and elegant chola), fonbondin (in Gambia and Senegal), etc. At the same time, the belief in the manifestations of the spirits of the dead is also widespread in all corners of the world. These manifestations sometimes appear mysteriously leaving onlookers stunned. The Argentine writer Rainer W. Klein defines ghosts as “the visual, acoustic or tactile representation of the non-physical body of a deceased person, who has not completely broken his ties with the earthly world and wanders through it in the form not physical, manifesting sensorially under different forms”.

Could these supernatural beings be the product of our imagination? Or do they really exist? There are many opinions about it. However, there are people who claim to have taken photos of these beings of strange dimension.

One of the oldest cases belongs to Greek mythology. A young man named Pliny recounted in a letter the wanderings of the Stoic philosopher Athenodorus. He had arrived in Athens and was looking for a home. Through a friend he learned that there was a huge house vacant and decided to rent it. Once installed in the compound he used to write his thoughts at night. And one of those nights he heard the noise of some chains. He saw in the distance the image of a curly, bearded old man gesticulating with his arms. The old man was getting closer and closer, and when he was a few meters from Athenodorus, he beckoned him to follow him. The philosopher agreed to his request and walked down the street behind him. Crossing the patio of the house, the old man and the chains disappeared, as if by magic, leaving him perplexed.

At the beginning of the 18th century, people commented on strange manifestations that occurred in the enclosure. And the rumors intensified when they discovered a grave in the courtyard of the house.

Stories like these we have heard sometime in our lives. In Sweden they also believe in ghosts and have legends of this nature. In the center of Stockholm, more precisely at Drottninggatan number 116, there is a mansion called “The Castle of Ghosts” that belongs to the University of Stockholm. In one part of the building are the administration offices and in the central part there is a museum. This huge house was built in the 16th century on the orders of Hans Petter Scheffler, a wealthy merchant at the time. His initials HPS are still inscribed in steel and are part of the central door. At the beginning of the 18th century, people commented on strange manifestations that occurred in the enclosure. And the rumors intensified when they discovered a grave in the courtyard of the house. Some comments claimed that the skeleton in the coffin belonged to Hans Petter Scheffler and that he wandered, in the dead of night, as a banshee. It was shown in the form of a ghost screaming, making things fall, turning off lights and causing strange noises at night. It gave off a dead smell and used to break mirrors and glass. A priest tried to drive away the evil spirit through prayers and prayers, but was strangely thrown from a balcony. A tenant committed suicide after playing the piano all night.

Later, Jakob von Balthazar Knigge bought the house and, according to legend, had made a pact with the devil. He had a great fortune. He hid gold and silver ingots in the walls of the house. One winter morning a carriage, drawn by black horses, stopped outside the house. Balthazar Knigge came out with a black cloak hanging from his neck and settled into the carriage. Then the horses began to run at full speed, drawing sparks from the wheels of the carriage. The people walking along that street saw that the horseman had horns on his forehead and a long tail. They said that the devil took him, and he was never seen again. Actually, Balthazar Knigge died peacefully in his bed and is buried in Stockholm Central Cemetery (Adolf Fredriks Kyrkogård). In his will he wrote that all his assets should be given to a fund to help the sick, the elderly, children and the poor. The first owner of the house, Hans Petter Scheffler, also died a natural death and was never buried in his house as claimed. So, if we start from the conjecture that ghosts exist, understanding that ghosts are spirits of dead people, the question arises: why do they return to a world that does not belong to them, causing tremendous fear among the living? Rainer Klein says: “They are the dead who do not rest in peace and, therefore, carry out their wanderings around the world.” In other words, they are “evil dead” who are not happy, perhaps, for their wanderings in the earthly world, or for having died unfairly. In any case, the appearances of ghosts, according to Ana Carrasco, a Spanish philosopher, can be multiple: “A premature or violent death, inadequate or non-existent funeral ceremonies, the desire that someone accompany them in the loneliness of their death, seek justice or revenge …”.

Hans Petter Scheffler and Jakob von Balthazar Knigge apparently died peacefully. They were not “bad dead”, but the paranormal events that occurred in the mansion, located in the heart of Stockholm, and also the comments of the people that were transmitted by word of mouth, created horrendous stories. Undoubtedly, the phantasmagorical is subject to a certain place, and to the legends that are invented around that place. Thus, the presence of supernatural entities, as in this case, spreads from generation to generation.

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Spirits that roam the Earth, by Javier Claure Covarrubias