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Eileen Sonin, expert on Canadian ghosts

It was the Irish pagan festival of Samhain, a night when the dead and the living edged near one another, whence came Halloween. On the night of Nov. 1, and with the dying crops, souls returned to walk the earth. Spooked pagans bolted their doors and extinguished the cooking fires that attracted witches. A rap on the door came from villagers dressed as dead relatives: "Trick or treat?" Best give the souls a treat lest they do something rotten. Canadians have kept the ancient belief in souls haunting the living alive, telling frightening ghost tales for the past 50 years, and not just on Halloween.

Parapsychologist Eileen Sonin is an expert on Canadian ghosts. She's written three books about them and attempts to convince CBC host and ghost skeptic Peter Gzowski that spectres really do exist. Gzowski points out that there's an increased interest these days in parapsychology, the study of inordinate mental phenomena. Sonin attributes the fascination with ghosts to the decline in religiosity, "They've got to find something to believe in."

Sonin tells ghost stories, attempting to turn Gzowski into a believer. She talks about her favourite Canadian apparition -- a cantankerous mother ghost who haunts a Burlington home, grumbling when her furniture is moved around.
Ghosts don't always appear as a faint apparition, according to Sonin. They can look just like a living person or appear in the form of a foul odour. But poltergeists are the worst, she explains.

There is no way to exorcize them and bringing in a priest makes them "50,000 times worse." Gzowski isn't convinced.
• Parapsychology dates back to late 19th century England where London's Society for Psychical Research developed the study. In Britain, parapsychology is called "psychical research," at term coined by the society.

• In Greek, Para means beyond.

• The Bible makes reference to paranormal phenomena, including apparitions, clairvoyance, visions, levitation and communication with the dead.

• In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church deemed all paranormal phenomena "demonic" unless they appeared in the form of a saint.

Medium: Radio
Program: Gzowski on FM
Broadcast Date: May 19, 1976
Guest(s): Eileen Sonin
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 11:59

Last updated: October 25, 2013

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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