Depending on who you talk to, the supposed "witching hour"-- when supernatural activity peaks-- is either midnight or 3 AM, and various paranormal researchers appear to be fiercely loyal to their preference. Others claim that the whole idea of a witching hour is a bunch of hot air, most likely invented by authors of ghost stories and Hollywood movie-makers. So which hour are witches most likely to bewitch? That is what we at Journal of the Bizarre are here to find out.
But before we delve too deeply into the great witching hour debate, let's examine the two times most commonly associated with spooks, goblins, warlocks and witches.
Based on our research, most historical references describe the witching hour as midnight, as it represents the passing from one day to the next. Since the concept of "passing over" is an integral part of the theory of afterlife, it makes sense that midnight would come to symbolize the moment when spirits can pass between the earthly and spiritual realms.
Other paranormalists insist that the true witching hour is 3:00 AM, with many adherents of this theory claiming that since Jesus Christ was said to have died on the cross at three in the afternoon, 3 AM would be the chronological opposite, and thus 3 o'clock in the morning is a time favored by Satanists and practitioners of black magic.
There also appears to be a third faction, however, which appears to be a compromise between the two sides, and these folks have agreed that the witching hour is not an hour at all, but the period of time beginning at midnight and ending at 3 AM.
As someone who has spent a lifetime collecting and researching ghost stories, I believe that there is no specific hour in which ghosts are more likely to appear. I've come across credible stories of ghosts appearing at all times of day and night. In fact, in some of the most credible stories I've researched, ghosts manifested themselves not at night, but during daytime hours.
Nonetheless, there are a great many accounts of paranormal activity taking place right at the stroke of midnight and, suffice it to say, many of these stories lack the detail and historical context of more credible stories. In other words, it seems pretty generic that a ghost would materialize at the stroke of midnight. It's just too typical.
My opinion, quite simply, is that there is nothing in the darkness that isn't there in the daytime. Take stars, for instance. People often say the stars "come out" at night, as if they pop into existence only when the sun sets. Yet we all know that stars don't cease to exist when it's light outside; you just can't see them. Ghosts, I suspect, are a lot like stars.
Is there any way to conclusively prove or disprove the belief that ghosts, for some reason or another, adhere to a timetable? The only way I can think of to prove or disprove this belief is to find a ghost that appears on a regular basis. I have read many accounts in which a ghost appears like clockwork, without fail, at the stroke of midnight. The way to validate these types of claims would be to monitor at which time the predictable, reliable ghost would manifest itself the night after Daylight Savings Time. Would the ghost "turn back his clock" and show up at midnight, or would he miss the memo and arrive an hour late? Unfortunately, I have not heard of any so-called paranormal researcher looking into this matter.
As I write this, it's a little after 11 PM and it has occurred to me that I have a number of friends who are real-life practitioners of witchcraft. I thought perhaps they might be able to shed some light on this question of darkness. Are their spells and incantations more powerful if chanted at the so-called "witching hour"? I attempted to contact them, but they all appear to be in bed.
Yes, even witches have day jobs.