In the culture of North American Indians, there is the concept of the Phantom Disease – a mysterious state of people, which supposedly can be caused by the spirits of the dead, who linger in our world.
According to the myths of the Navajo and Muskogee tribes, it is difficult for ghosts to “survive” in the material world, but they can “stick” to a living person, feeding on their life energy.
By sucking the life force out of a person in this way, the ghost weakens the person, making them sick and weak, and sometimes even bringing them to death. For this, the Indians have a special term “ghost disease” or “Phantom disease”.
The idea that the ghosts of the dead can return to cause sickness and death in living people is not really an Indian invention but goes back to the ancient world where it is mentioned in cultures such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and India.
Each of these cultures had its own traditions, but more often it is said that such a dangerous ghost can be the spirit of a recently deceased who was not buried according to the rules. Therefore, to prevent this, there were a number of funeral rituals.
According to Indian beliefs, a restless ghost mostly climbs on a person who is too absorbed in his grief over a recently deceased friend or relative, thinks a lot about death, tries to contact the deceased relative through magical rituals, and generally pays too much attention to the topic of death and the dead in everyday life.
Muscogee tribes additionally believe that each person is filled with energy that results from a flow between mind, body, and spirit called Ibofanga, and ghostly illness can occur when this flow is disrupted.
Whatever the reason, the attracted ghost will target and “attach” itself to the victim. A certain connection arises between them, which can additionally influence the environment of a person, for example, around a person who is “sick” with a ghostly disease. anomalous phenomena like a poltergeist can be observed.
According to Indian lore, the ghost does not necessarily want his chosen one to fall ill and die, but he needs to feed on his life force and spirit in order to maintain his presence on this plane.
The symptoms of this ghostly illness can be quite varied, including weakness, headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, fainting, anxiety, depression, irritability, decreased interest in daily activities, and inability to communicate with others, as well as nightmares and sudden feelings of terror.
In some cases, sufferers may constantly see a ghost appearing in front of them or following them. It is said that if a sick person is not treated, he becomes weaker and weaker every day, withdraws from society, withers, loses weight, and in extreme cases even dies from an illness, after which the ghost that caused his death takes him away to the underworld.
It is believed that the victims of the ghostly disease should be treated as soon as possible, because otherwise, it may become incurable. Usually, “treatment” includes rituals asking the spirit to stop clinging to the material world and rest in the afterlife. But if the calls go unheeded, then they turn to aggressive methods to expel the spirit.
In Apache culture, one of the ways to cure the disease is to burn all the belongings of the deceased relative, cleanse everything that may remind of him or her, move to a new house, and completely drive them out of your thoughts without even saying the name of the deceased. It is believed that this will cause the ghost to give up and disappear.
In all cases, normal medicine or Western medical practice is said to be completely useless against phantom disease. The best way to deal with a ghost “stuck” on a victim is to completely prevent it from appearing in the first place, making sure the funeral was done properly and that the living try not to get too hung up on the person who left.
Belief in a phantom disease is so great among the Indians that it is still talked about. But in the eyes of modern science and medicine, ghost sickness is considered to be mostly a mental condition associated with unresolved grief, continuous mourning, or other psychological trauma, which then has a psychosomatic effect to create physical symptoms.
However, the Indian tribes reject the medical opinion and to this day insist that the Phantom disease is a completely real phenomenon caused by ghosts and spirits and that only traditional shamanistic methods can defeat it.
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