Carma Cole has no doubt about ghosts. “Absolutely, I believe in them,” she says calmly; “I’ve seen lots of them.”
For more than a decade Cole has followed her calling as the proprietress of the Crystal Mirror, a metaphysical and spiritual healing center in downtown Salem.
She’s matter-of-fact about ghosts. There are a number in the Reed Opera House, her shop’s location for the last eight years, she says. The ghosts wear the clothing of the same, old-time period. “I mostly see them when they gather together and discuss things. They’re attached to the Reed. They’re part of the Reed Opera House.”
Cole sees the ghosts gesture to places and shops that exist in the present. “They’re talking to each other about what’s going on now. They care about what’s happening in the building now.”
Ghosts exist, Cole says, because people who have died still feel attachment to people, buildings or memories. “Sometimes spirits are trapped in buildings because they don’t even realize they’ve crossed over. Sometimes they are traumatized and mentally unclear.” Cole, who has seen ghosts all her life, feels the humanity of them, and has compassion for them.
For this reason she draws a line between the between-world communication services she offers, which she finds rewarding and fulfilling, and the careless actions of some others.
“We have some organizations that are running around ‘investigating’ ghosts in graveyards and places. We have to ask ourselves, “Where are the boundaries? Where is the respect for the deceased?”
She objects to ham-handed efforts to exorcize ghosts from homes or buildings. “Most of the time it’s not a ghost; it’s just the imagination of the person. But when it’s not – what harm is the ghost doing?” A gust of cold air, a slammed door; Cole feels people should put up with it.
“What right do people have to get worked up about something so small, and go agitating spirits? Plus, the people in the house themselves get wound up. And what for? It’s like when people remove a sacred burial ground because they want to put in a parking lot. If spirits are there, they’re there for a reason.”
She finds the idea of treating a night visit to a cemetery as a spooky amusement particularly appalling.
“What right do people have to act like this? And what are we teaching our children about respect for the dead?”