Ghosts and World Religions

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning educator, author and speaker, Dr. Randy Overbeck. Today, Dr. Overbeck shares an interesting perspective on ghosts and his new release, Scarlet at Crystal River.

Here’s Dr. Overbeck!

As I’ve shared my program about ghosts with groups around the country, I’ve encountered more than my share of skeptics. Every once in a while, a participant will be brave enough to challenge, “Ghosts? Really? You want us to believe there are that many people who actually believe in ghosts?”

Usually, I just smile…and then I share a little data.

Whether you think you are a believer of ghosts or not, if you are a member of faith community, you probably profess this belief, even if you weren’t aware. One vital part of the doctrine and mythology of every religion in the world is a belief in the spirit realm and, specifically, in ghosts. This belief shows up differently in different religions, sometimes with the understanding of spirits as benign, other times with the perception of ghosts as more malevolent. But where ever you live on the planet, if you go to temple, church, mosque, or mandir, a part of your creed includes a deep-seated belief in ghosts. A few examples may illustrate.

Most Christian sects retain a belief in spirits and ghosts, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ belief that ghosts are demons or evil spirits who try to deceive humans. (Come to think of it, that’s pretty close to what I was taught as a young Catholic in my Baltimore catechism. For Judaism, those who attend temple are taught about several ghosts including a dybbuk, a ghost of dead person who can possess a human being for malevolent reasons.

Islam takes a very different tact on ghosts, one that you might well recognize. Muslims believe in particular ghosts called Jinns, spirits who inhabit a parallel world and cause mischief for humans. Americans are very familiar with these ghosts, only we call them genies.

Buddhists’ understanding of ghosts falls at the other end of the spectrum. They believe in what they call “hungry ghosts,” suffering spirits who should be treated with pity and compassion, rather than feared. For Hindus, ghosts are usually associated with individuals who experienced unnatural deaths like accidents and murder.

Perhaps, of all cultures, Native Americans have the most profound belief systems of the spirit world. Each tribe has their own particular version of belief in ghosts from the famous Skinwalkers of the Navaho’s to the Ojibwe’s understanding of a Wendigo. But one of the most interesting spirit myths comes from the Passamquaddy tribe of Maine. They believe in a creature called Skudakamooch, who they described as ghost witch.

So, what’s the point?

If, in fact, belief in the existence of spirits is universal across cultures, across countries, across religions, then perhaps, we should not be so quick to dismiss it.

But personally, I’m pulling for the kinder version. Happy Halloween.


All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.

When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.


Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants’ children haunt them, pleading for help.

Review Blurbs

Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” –N. N. Light’s Book Heaven

“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView

Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan


Purchase Links

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Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”— and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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