My personal journey beneath the eight-pointed star has been darker than most.
Originally interested in the mundane aspects of the paranormal, such as ghosts, myths and monsters, it was not until my early 20s that I actively started exploring chaos magick as a system. And it goes without saying that I forever tainted the path I walked by those earlier interests.
The following argument is highly speculative, but as a shard of my own neo-necromantic paradigm, it has answered a core question that has haunted me since childhood.
Because, as a concept, the literal existence of ghosts has always vexed me greatly.
Though I regularly interact with the wandering dead, my paradigm remains firmly at the materialistic end of the belief scale. The weight of evidence and current scientific understanding asserts strongly that one life is all you get.
For now, I consider the body to be a very pleasurable prison with death as the only, and very final, parole.
There have been many competing theories for what a ghost actually is over the years. Spirits of the deceased, visiting ancestors, psychic projections, place memories and even extra-dimensional or supposedly demonic entities too.
Every spiritual discipline eventually runs up against the sticky question of exactly how the dead could remain in our reality to mess with the living.
Some religions actively use it as a stick to beat their congregations with, threatening an eternity as a wandering soul should you dare to seek a short lifetime of free will. While they can explain their gods as a form of egregore sustained by the attention derived from memetic contagion, the same cannot be said for ghosts.
Individual people are highly unlikely to generate the prolonged public interest required to attain such a status. Even if they did, they would deify the resulting facsimile through the lens of public perception only, as can be seen in the semi-fictional way that religions treat their originators.
No, I believe that the creation of a ghost, or more rightly a ghostform, has more to do with manifesting a tulpa or egregore than anything exclusively spiritual.
And not only is it thankfully rare, but it also seems to happen completely by accident.
What little scientific research has been done in the field of near-death experiences up to this point agrees that the love and light hallucinations experienced by those at the point of death are the product of consciousness struggling to continue to function while the mind itself shuts down.
Studies in laboratory animals have also shown a spike in activity shortly before complete oblivion, too.
My argument is that the psyche experiences the void at the point of death because of the very real physiological damage caused by, among other processes, a lack of blood flow to the brain. During this period of heightened action, the ensuing fight to stay alive focuses the entire consciousness on itself as it struggles to stabilise a sinking ship.
This is a peak mental state similar to the gnosis sought by magickians to fire spells, charge sigils - and birth tulpas. Only in this instance, the pseudo-entity being generated is an imperfect copy of the contents of the dying mind, blind fired into our joint reality and left to fend for itself while the original physical version ceases to be.
We do not survive death, but given the right circumstances, our deeply flawed mental twins do.
Something is most definitely wrong with the classical view of the spirit world, and even if I was not naturally materialistic in my time among those who inhabit it would still make me stop and think.
Ghosts appear to be missing something when they are encountered.
They act broken, malformed, looping the same actions again and again, almost like they remain lost in a dream and unable to wake. Their manifestations seem to be constricted by factors such as disease or disability when most spiritual systems agree that the soul returns to perfection once it is no longer tied to a damaged material shell.
Considering examples such as these, the contention that they were created at the time the psyche died and reflect the confused or enraged state of the personality during that moment makes a surprising amount of sense.
This may also solve the age-old question of why ghosts manifest, showing signs of the trauma that killed them - blood, guts, gore and all.
It is intriguing to note which belief groups generate the highest proportion of hauntings. The strongly religious do not feature prominently in ghost lore, aside from the occasional monk or nun who were likely up to no good after mass. Neither do Atheists nor skeptics.
Those who have enough time to make peace with their upcoming journey into nothingness rarely return, either.
Instead, people who are traumatised, confused or even just surprised by a swift and unceremonious death top the list of supposed hauntings across the globe. We can assume all to anecdotally share one factor - a brief internal struggle to continue to exist instead of passing quietly into that longest of nights.
And it is here in this liminal gnosis that ghostforms are made.
As a chaote, I am free to choose how I metabolise my personal bubble of reality. I set out to create an exclusively anthropocentric version of the afterlife that divorced the supernatural from the spiritual in line with how I view the world, and it works well enough so far.
Ultimately, the Veil still stands regardless of what really dwells on the non-material side of that great divide, and the dead who walk amongst us will always have once been human no matter how they came to be lost.
For now, that will have to be enough, because I am in no hurry to earn my parole and find out for sure.