The Holy Ghost

There have been many theories about the apparition of "Patera Pike's ghost" in Lake of the Long Sun.

A machine-generated image

Wolfe said in an question-and-answer session ( that the apparition was not machine-made. That eliminates the Hierodule-created-aquastor theory and the Mainframe-generated-ghost theory, in spite of the shimmering disappearance.

Quetzal in disguise

Wolfe also said it was not Quetzal. The inhumi don't seem to be able to impersonate other people (only make themselves look human) so I think any other inhumu is also out. Also, Quetzal would have no reason to visit Silk before he saw the writing on the wall on the fifth floor outside Teasel's house. When Quetzal told Remora he "went wide," he said it was "yesterday" which was Molpseday (CotLS, p. 20). (He didn't expect Remora to understand him, so there was no reason to lie). The ghost appeared on Sphigxday night, two nights earlier.

The real ghost of Pike

Remora once said that holy augers rarely have ghosts (in RttW). Pike wasn't altogether holy (as the father of Blood with Rose), but one would think he would be heavenly-minded enough to avoid ghosthood.

Silk astral-projecting through time

In the BOTSS, Silk gains the ability to astral-project. It's not too much of a stretch to allow him to astral-project through time, especially if he does it after the Whorl attains near-light-speed in acceleration away from its old position. Oreb astral-projected along with him, giving a nice explanation for the flying Oreb as well.

Silk selected the calotte for his burglary mission because it would "supply a certain concealment" even if his straw hat blew off. Unlike the typical clerical skullcaps of our world, the calotte must have projected out above his forehead and cast the upper part of his face into shadow (under certain lighting conditions, such as being seen from below at the top of the stairs). The light at the top of the landing is described as being "dim." Silk only saw his smile, and he saw the figure's feet and body for much longer than the face.

The "ghost" didn't speak; it only waved and vanished. The motive for wearing the calotte might have been disguise, in order to create the impression of Patera Pike that Silk remembered. If the only reason for going was that memory, then we have a pure causality paradox. But there were probably other reasons, such as intimidating Mucor before she did some mischief. It's interesting that she never tried to possess Silk himself. It may be the astral projection of the future Silk and Oreb scared her away from trying this.