May 19th, 2011 | spirit tracks
Spirit tracks. Spirit roads. Ghost roads. Corpse roads. Lych ways. The Leichenflugbahn, which means, gorgeously, “corpse flightpath.”
Ghost roads appear, quite simply, to be the paths through which dead bodies were carried to cemeteries. But, even as digital cities will be built atop the base matter of the contemporary city, ghost roads were superimposed over old geographies. Corpse roads took the paths that ghosts and other numinous beings were already known to pass down. Spirit tracks, in German folklore, were imbued with “the magical characteristics of the dead.”
Spirit tracks. The roads of ghosts. Magical characteristics.
These haunted streets could be interrogated, too. Devereux writes of a crossroads in Iceland where the interested hauntologist could “summon the spirits of the dead from the church cemeteries and they would glide up the roads to the crossroads where the seer could divine information from them.”
He also notes my favourite, “stile divination”. In Cornwall, apparently, ghosts liked perching on country stiles in the path of spirit roads, and one could sit there and interrogate them as they go. A stile is an RFID reader for dead people.