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Franz L Kessler

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Ghost Trees And A Cat Called Nolli
By Franz L Kessler
Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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There is more to space than gasses, vapours and heat...This genuine Borneo story deals with trees, and textiles that can trap spiritual energy - also called ghosts.

“It’s up there,” said Matt, pointing at a corolla of large trees that formed a dark mass with a dented silhouette offset against a purple evening sky. We stood on the parking place next to my car, an open scar that I had reclaimed from the clay wall that separated my garden from the road. Matt drew on his cigarette, puffed out the smoke, and whispered: “the ghost tree is up there. As long as that ghost is around you won’t have good dreams when sleeping in your garden house.”

I nodded, and glanced to the beautiful, mighty trees lining up along the hilltop. Matt, a craftsman from the near-bye Sewa Jaya village was a simple man I had hired him as contractor to build a utility bungalow on my jungle land. He had also healing qualities and seemed to know a lot of things that belonged to the other world.

As I watched the silhouette of trees, searching for the spot Matt had pointed out, my thoughts ran into the magic realm, and also back to the past. It wasn’t the first time I had listened to jungle ghost stories. Borneo's folklore recognizes a pantheon of frightening jungle giants, kid ghosts, chicken ghosts, female putri-anak vampires and so on.

The locals also count a few species of trees associated with spiritual entities. Some are benign, such as bamboo, whilst others are seen troublesome. It is not so much about the tree itself, but the spiritual energy that feels itself attracted to it. The mentioned ghost up in my garden tree, so I was told, seemed to belong to a group of grumpy unfriendly troublemakers.

No, I’m not particularly afraid of metaphysical appearances. Ground hornets and cobras give me a stronger chill. Yet, though, I do respect ancient cultures and beliefs, and it's also part of our human heritage.

Most shamanic traditions tell that the space is being inhabited by countless invisible beings, with varying amounts of consciousness, intention, power and a self-identity. As these entities float in the stream of air, they can be trapped in similar ways that, perhaps, an antenna interferes with electro-magnetic fields. The geometry of tree branches, and leaves as well as color and/or smell might attract spirits, or act as 'filters' for spiritual entities.

Textile fabrics seem also to entrap spirits. The European literature of the 19th century is rich in stories of haunted sailing ships, where ogres caught in the sails took control of a ship, or lost ships appear from the mist manned by specters. Many old cultures – Siberian, Native North-American Indian, Mexico, and Tibet produce objects that are made of arrays of wires and threads, and are believed to catch spirits and ghosts – so-called spirit catchers or ghost traps. These are believed to be devices that can protect a house, and ward off bad energies.

A long time ago, I used to own one of these. It was a gift of my teacher. “Make sure the wires remain straight. If anything is distorted, burn it immediately.” In those days, my family owned a chalet in the mountains of southern Bavaria. During my study years, I lived there for a while, and also installed a small Buddhist shrine in my bed room, with a spirit catcher attached on the window grill, dangling above. These were good years, and the time seemed to stand still in our cozy chalet.

In those years, we also used to have a cat called Nolli. He wasn’t the Einstein among the cats, but we loved his cheerful nature and good cuddly humor. One weekend, when visiting my father, my sister mentioned to me that Nolli had been active in my bedroom and had played with the Tibetan ghost trap.

“Nolli has caught a truly big ghost,” she said, and laughed. I wasn’t amused at all, and drove to the mountain chalet the next day to see what had happened. I always warned my sister not to let her cats and dogs mess around with my religious stuff.

When I came to my room, I saw that the trap had been damaged indeed, and wires and threads were torn apart. With great caution, I seized it with my fingers. It felt strange, and I also received a sensation of a weak electric shock.

As my teacher had advised me, I burned the spirit catcher. An omen of more uneasy times ahead rose in my mind.

Several days later, Nolli, our black-and-white friendly tomcat unexpectedly died. Two month later, the water main broke in the chalet. Water rose three feet high above the ground floor and damaged all wooden linings and furniture, and soaking the brick walls. The roof started to leak, and many other damaging events followed. Finally, worn out by so many problems, we gave up and sold the house. Was this the work of disturbed invisible energies, dark spirits released unwittingly by our playful cat, or just a mere coincidence? Honestly, I don’t have the answer.

“What should we do,” asked Matt. His words brought me back to Borneo, my ghost tree, and the present.

“You better cut the tree,” I said. Matt nodded solemnly. He put off his cigarette, and drove away on his motorcycle. I waved him, started the car, and drove back to town along the bumpy road as night fell.

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

       Web Site: matahari sky

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Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor 4/29/2007
That is an excellent short story.

Reviewed by Guy Hogan 4/29/2007
Some things simply cannot be explained. Some things are beyond our comprehension. Yes, the tree had to be cut down.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/29/2007
Franz, it is good to see you here; you've been missed! Wonderful write yet again; bravo! Very well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in America, Karen Lynn in Texas. :D

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