Talking Spirituality: Ghosts of San Francisco’s Past

by Natalie Grigson on October 29, 2013


Sorry. Did I scare you? Or merely just surprise you, since I haven’t been around in a couple of weeks? I’ll account for my mysterious disappearance in a moment. For now, let’s get back to the explanation of this ghostly exclamation.

The first time the word “boo!” was used in this context was in the book-length polemic Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Display’d in 1738. It is defined as—get this—a “word that is used in the north of Scotland to frighten crying children.”

Why would you want to frighten already crying children? Who knows. But that is where it came from.

And as to my mysteeerrrrrious disappearance? Well, I’ve simply decided, for the sake of my own time and yours, to cut back just a bit on my once a week spiritual explorations. So, you know that when you do see something from me, it will be well-worth reporting on.

And my experience last Thursday certainly was.

I showed up at the San Francisco ghost hunt, a little winded and a little bit late. Most of the rest of the group was already waiting on the fourth floor of the Queen Anne Hotel, listening to our guide, Jim Fassbinder, regale them with stories about the haunted hotel.

Quickly, I’ll tell you a little bit about our guide and why his name probably sounds familiar to you. Jim started the San Francisco Ghost Hunt fifteen years ago. He belongs to several professional associations, is a member of the Paranormal Research Organization, and can be seen on the Travel Channel’s Haunted Hotels. But his website can tell you all of that. After chatting with Jim for just a few minutes after our tour, though, I found out that he has a background in science; he was brought up Catholic but these days, identifies most closely with Buddhism; and on a side note, the man is just covered in tattoos.

Jim was practical, spiritual, and just plain cool.

As we made our way through the Queen Anne Hotel and then out onto the streets of Pacific Heights, he told us the stories of various ghosts haunting the streets—which, FYI, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person died there; it just means that this area was probably one that held a lot of emotion during his/her life. We met friendly ghosts, we met angry ghosts; we learned about dream visits and hauntings; we learned about some scientific studies being done regarding ghosts that would make your hair stand on end; and we even learned a great deal about some of the expensive real estate in the area.

Jim was a veritable wealth of knowledge. The tour was fabulous. And whether you believe in ghosts or not, I highly recommend that you do it.

And chances are, if you’re reading this in the U.S., you probably do believe in ghosts—especially you, ladies. Out of the 48 percent of Americans who do believe in ghosts, over half of them (56 percent) are women. And further, more than half of Americans from ages 18 to 45 believe in ghosts.

So my question to you, dear reader, is do you believe? Have you ever seen a ghost or felt one’s presence?

What do you think happens after we die?

Please “Send Us Feedback” below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Namaste, everybody. And Happy Halloween!

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