What is a ghost?

What is a ghost?  This is a common question pertaining to the Paranormal.  Our definition of a ghost is the spirit of a departed person who has not yet entered onto another “Higher Plane” of existence after Death.  The spirit remains earthbound.  Every living thing has a spirit.  When something dies the spirit simply has no use to stay inside a body which will no longer function so it leaves.  Most spirits pass onto these “Higher Planes” such as Heaven or even Hell but others remain here.  There are many reasons for their staying.  Some are afraid to pass on or are in denial of their very Deaths.  Others have unfinished business while others may not even be aware that they’re dead.  There are many other reasons why the spirit may not leave this world (whether it be because of personal reasons or otherwise) but they can be helped onto “Higher Planes” through using psychics and other methods which are of religious and we don’t want to elaborate.

Theories on ghosts

Throughout time man has tried to define and understand his own Mortality by believing in Ghosts and the Hereafter.  Skeptics and Believers alike are eager to create new theories either proving or disproving ghosts so in this write-up we will take a quick look at some of the theories trying to explain the mystery of ghosts.  This write-up will take a quick look at the usual Beliefs on ghosts on the viewpoint of Believers and Skeptics alike.

Those who believe in ghosts believe they are the spirits of departed persons who remain on this Earth and have not yet passed onto the “Other Side” for some unknown reason(s).  We SPI are trying to prove this theory and find out the truth behind.

Skeptics like to believe that spirits are simply figments of madmen and overactive imaginations.  It is easy to accept this theory but the problem in accepting this theory is why is there so much photographic and other evidence as well as first-hand accounts of encounters with ghosts.  Mass hysteria throughout the Ages?  Not likely.  Some already witnessed ghosts first-hand themselves and this is by no means uncommon.  One out of 10 Singaporeans have claimed to have had an encounter with ghosts at least once in their lifetime and one out of 4 Singaporeans believe in ghosts.   Not to mention all of the other experiences happening to millions, if not billions, of other people around the world.  Certainly it is totally and utterly impossible to refute all of these claims as lies, hoaxes, and overactive imaginations.  Yes, some of the cases are but we are still left with an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the afterlife.  The Bible and the Quran and most World Religions support the ideology of “Life After Death”.  As the old saying goes, “Truth is always stranger than fiction”.  That is certainly the case here.  It may seem more rational to believe we simply disappear after we die but science is showing quite the contrary so what may seem rational is not always the Truth!

In short, if we want everlasting hope of the Afterlife then let us believe in ghosts!  The evidence is there but we sometimes just don’t want to accept it simply because most people do not like the thought of death.  Most people may even strictly put science and ghosts in opposite positions – to allow us choose either one of the two, and no in-between.  There is no exact science.  Things that cannot be explained by now doesn’t mean they will never be explained in the future.  Those who advocate and bestow science is everything that we can see and touch materially would have less chances to move beyond.  We believe, only with an open mind we will learn.

So are there ghosts?

There are, however, many theories to explain the thousands upon thousands of documented experiences that people around the world have had since the beginning of recorded history. Ghosts and hauntings seem to be a relatively common part of the human experience. And there appear to be several types of ghosts or hauntings, and more than one theory may be needed to explain them all.

Dead people

The traditional view of ghosts is that they are the spirits of dead people that for some reason are “stuck” between this plane of existence and the next, often as a result of some tragedy or trauma. Many ghost hunters and psychics believe that such earth-bound spirits don’t know they are dead. Veteran ghost hunter Hans Holzer says, “A ghost is a human being who has passed out of the physical body, usually in a traumatic state and is not aware usually of his true condition. We are all spirits encased in a physical body. At the time of passing, our spirit body continues into the next dimension. A ghost, on the other hand, due to trauma, is stuck in our physical world and needs to be released to go on.”

Ghosts exist in a kind of limbo in which they haunt the scenes of their deaths or locations that were pleasant to them in life. Very often, these types of ghosts are able to interact with the living. They are, on some level, aware of the living and react to being seen on the occasions that they materialize. Some psychics claim to be able to communicate with them. And when they do, they often try to help these spirits to understand that they are dead and to move on to the next stage of their existence.

Residual Hauntings or Recordings

Some ghosts appear to be mere recordings on the environment in which they once existed. A civil war soldier is seen on repeated occasions staring out a window at a house where he once stood guard. A dead child’s laughter is heard echoing in a hallway where she often played. There are even cases of ghost cars and trains that can still be heard and sometimes seen, even though they are long gone. These types of ghosts do not interact with or seem to be aware of the living. Their appearance and actions are always the same. They are like spirit-level recordings – residual energies – that replay over and over again.

“A traumatic moment in time leaves an indelible impression on the building or area,” says Strange Nation in “What Is a Ghost?,” “replaying itself for eternity. This could be anything from a ‘glimpse of the past’ – a recreation of some traumatic or emotion-laden event – to footsteps up and down a hallway.”

What causes these recordings to be made and how and why they are played back is a mystery. “How and why past events are recorded and replayed repetitiously is not understood,” writes Lauren Forcella. “Whatever the actual mechanism, it apparently possesses longevity as the encore performances of a haunting can continue for decades or longer. Generally, the haunting is a fragment or portion of an actual event.”

Messengers

These kinds of ghosts may be the most common. These spirits usually appear shortly after their deaths to people close to them. They are aware of their deaths and can interact with the living. They most often bring messages of comfort to their loved ones, to say that they are well and happy, and not to grieve for them. These ghosts appear briefly and usually only once. It is as if they intentionally return with their messages for the express purpose of helping the living cope with their loss.

“This category commonly involves one-time visits to someone with whom the apparition has close emotional ties,” says Lauren Forcella at Paranormal Investigations, who calls these ghosts “crisis apparitions.” “Though the encounter usually seems to be a type of farewell, sometimes important and useful information is relayed to the ‘viewer.’ Though dying is the most common crisis, other life-threatening situations can also trigger apparitional visits.”

Poltergeists

This type of haunting is the most feared by people because it has the greatest ability to affect our physical world. Poltergeists are blamed for unexplained noises, such as wall-banging, rapping, footsteps and even music. They take our possessions and hide them, only to return them later. They turn on faucets, slam doors, turn lights on and off, and flush toilets. They throw things across rooms. They have been known to pull on people’s clothing or hair. The malevolent ones even slap and scratch the living. It is because of these sometimes “mean-spirited” manifestations that poltergeists are considered by some investigators to be demonic in nature.

Other investigators, however, believe that poltergeist activity is not caused by ghosts at all, but by certain living people under stress. “During a poltergeist experience,” writes Lauren Forcella, “the agent, in an attempt to relieve emotional stress, unknowingly causes the physical disturbances using mental forces. The mental mechanism that allows the poltergeist agent to unconsciously cause these physical disturbances is called psychokinesis.”

Projections

The skeptics’ point of view – if they are willing to admit there is anything to haunting experiences at all – is that they are all in our minds, or are products of our own minds. Ghosts, they say, are psychological phenomena: we see them because we expect to or want to see them. A grieving widow sees her dead husband because she needs to; she needs the comfort of knowing that he is alright and happy in the next world. Her mind produces the experience to help itself cope with the stress of the loss. Since we know so little about the power and capacity of our own minds, it’s possible that they can even produce physical manifestations, such as apparitions and noises – projections that even others may be able to see and hear. But they are not “real” in any sense, say the skeptics, just the conjuring of powerful imaginations.

Are there such things as ghosts? The phenomena of ghosts and hauntings are very real experiences. It is their true cause and nature that is the ongoing mystery.

Types of Ghosts

It is indeed a tough job to precisely classify ghosts.  There are lots of different types of ghost, which behave in lots of different ways.  The variety of reported hauntings spells trouble for theories about where ghosts come from, because any theory that claims to be able to ‘explain’ ghosts also has to explain a mass of contradictory ‘ghost facts’.  For instance, one may believe that ghosts are only spiritual forces that influence mind to induce hallucination or vision of ghosts.  Then what about Poltergeists that are able to generate noise and move things?

In general, a ghost is a spirit, apparition, or presence of something or someone that isn’t really there.  Ghosts have been reported by every culture throughout history.  The stereotypical ghost is the spirit of a dead person that appears as a transparent mage, but there are many other types of ghost – they don’t have to be of people (they don’t even have to be dead).  Ghosts typically, but not always, haunt a specific location or person.

Given such wide variety, we attempt to define several general types of ghosts as shown below.  This classification is limited only to those pertaining to dead, and ordinary level of spirits often intertwining with human beings.  That means, it does not include a full domain of spirits such as deity, fairy, angel, devil, demon, goblin, or goddess etc.

  • Human ghosts
    • The unquiet dead
    • Re-enactment ghosts
    • Cyclic ghosts
    • Ghosts of the living
      • Crisis apparitions
      • Doppelgangers
  • Inhuman ghosts
    • Creepy critters
    • Planes, trains, and ghost ships
  • Poltergeists

Human Ghosts

The unquiet dead

The most usual theory is that ghosts are the souls of the departed, trapped on Earth for some reason.  This theory explains why ghosts might appear, and also why they disappear when laid, but it doesn’t explain ghosts of the living, ghosts of inanimate objects, or ‘boring’ ghosts that seem to have no purpose.

Here we have one example of classic ghost.  One of the earliest and famous ghost stories is the tale of Athenodorus, as told by Roman writer Pliny the Younger (61-113CE).  According to Pliny, there was a house in Athens haunted by the spectre of an old man in rags, who would moan and rattle his chains.  This terrible apparition frightened off all potential tenants until a visiting philosopher, named Athenodorus, decided to spend the night.  A few hours after dark, Athenodorus duly heard the clanking of chains and saw the ghost.  He followed it to a spot in the courtyard – digging the next day revealed a human skeleton in chains.  The bones were given a proper burial, and the ghost was never seen again.

Pliny’s classic tale illustrates many of the elements of the stereotypical ghost.  The typical ghost is the spirit of a dead person, which appears as a pale or transparent version of its living self.  Usually the apparition is wearing clothes and if it interacts with living people at all it does so in a limited way (it may not be able to speak, or it may only be able to repeat a few words).

Often a ghost seems to have a motive in appearing – to get the living to perform whatever ritual or process is necessary to let the ghost rest in peace.  This is known as ‘laying a ghost’.  In Pliny’s tale, the ghost’s original body was not properly buried, so its spirit was condemned to haunt the night.  This motif is found in ghost stories as far back as the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians, and as for afield as Asia and Europe.


Re-enactment ghosts

Not all ghosts act with a purpose.  In fact many of them seem oblivious to the real world or living people, and display no form of intelligence or consciousness.  An example of this sort is the ghost that re-enacts a sequence of actions when it appears, passing through walls and closed doors and sometimes appearing to stand above or below the level of the floor.

Re-enactment ghosts are thought to be following a route they took in life.  They are usually linked to violent or traumatic events – battles, murders, executions, accidents or suicides.

A famous example is the Treasurer’s House in York, England.  Witnesses have described troops of Roman soldiers in full armour marching through the cellars of this historic building.  Crucially, the soldiers appeared to be knee-deep in the cellar floor – at the level of an original Roman road through the area.

One popular theory to this is called the Stone Tape theory.  Many ghosts seem to be linked to traumatic or significant events, and this has led to the theory that people and events can somehow leave an impression on their surroundings, as if they were recorded in the stones of a house – hence the ‘stone tape’ theory.  Hauntings are replays of these recordings.  This theory explains why some ghosts seem not to be conscious, e.g. re-enactment ghosts; but not ones that interact with the living, or ones that are seen away from where they lived and died.


Cyclic ghosts

Many ghosts are said to appear ‘cyclically’ on significant anniversaries, these are known as ‘cyclic ghosts’.  Famous examples include Catherine Howard, one of Henry VIII’s wives, who is supposed to be seen running screaming through the halls of Hampton Court Palace on the anniversary of her sentencing to death.

Respected psychical researcher and author Ian Wilson regards such claims with skepticism, pointing out that if ghosts really did reappear that predictably a ghost hunter’s job would be extremely easy.  Another problem is that the calendar was changed in Europe in 1582 (1752 in England), with the loss of 11 days, so that if Howard really does appear she will effectively be 11 days late.


Ghosts of the living

Crisis apparitions:  Ghosts of the living usually involve people who are experiencing or approaching a crisis.  Hence they are known as crisis apparitions.  Typically a friend or relative , possibly many miles away, will see the person, who may look quite real and appear in an unremarkable fashion (e.g. popping in to say hi).  Later they discover that their friend died or experienced a crisis at the same time or very shortly afterwards, and couldn’t have been anywhere near where they were sighted.  Crisis apparitions do not fit into most theories about ghosts; the people are still alive, they are far away and they don’t seem to have much purpose.

However, many people argue that crisis apparitions are actually telepathic projections of some sort, in which sudden physical crisis boots psi power for a moment.

Doppelgangers:  Another type of living ghosts is a double; an apparition that looks exactly like the witness.  These ghosts are known by their German name ‘doppelganger’.  The appearance of a doppelganger can often be a bad omen, but not always.

Many people argue that doppelgangers, like crises apparitions, are actually telepathic projections, not ghosts.  There is also a rare medical condition, known as autoscopy, that causes people to hallucinate a transparent mirror image of themselves.

In Celtric lore, a doppelganger is known as a ‘fetch’.  In Iceland they are known as Fylgja, and in Norway as Vardoger.  These Scandinavian doubles announce someone’s arrival by appearing a few minutes before the actual person.


Inhuman Ghosts

One major problem for the theory that ghosts are spirits or personalities that survived death is that there are many reports of the ghosts of animals and even inanimate objects (mainly vehicles).

Creepy critters

Belief in animal spirits is common in hunting cultures.  Hunters sometimes perform elaborated ceremonies after killing an animal so that its spirit will not be vengeful.  In arctic Siberia, for instance, hunters hold a festival in honor of each whale they kill, so that its ghost will not frighten off other whales.

Ghost dogs are a common feature of western folklore, especially large black dogs with glowing eyes, known as barguests, devil dogs, gyrtrash, or shuck-hounds.  Barguests are usually thought to be bad omens, but can be helpful, protecting travellers in lonely places.

Planes, trains, and ghost ships

Probably the best known ghost vehicle is the Flying Dutchman.  This legendary vessel is said to be a 17-centuary sailing ship crewed by dead men, whose caption is doomed to sail the world forever as punishment for his sins.  Many sailors have reported encounters with the ship, which is usually described as glowing red or ghostly pale.


Poltergeists

The most convincing type of haunting, the poltergeist, may not be caused by a ghost at all.  The word poltergeist is the German term for ‘noisy ghost’, and is the name given to a type of haunting in which the ghost, if there is one, is invisible, manifesting itself through a variety of physical phenomena.

Bad behaviour

Common symptoms of a poltergeist haunting or infestation include: objects being moved or thrown about; banging, rapping and knocking; small fires that start mysteriously; appliances going haywire; inexplicable wet patches; and foul smells.  Generally poltergeists are more of a nuisance than a danger, although in at least one case: the infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee, which tormented the Bell family between 1817 and 1821, and eventually poisoned John Bell, the head of the family, a man has been killed.

The epicentre

The other distinguishing feature of a poltergeist haunting is that it tends to be centred on one person, and often follows that person if he or she attempts to move house, for instance.  The focus of a poltergeist haunting is known as the ‘epicentre’.  Epicentres are most commonly children or adolescents.


All in the mind

The things that happen in a poltergeist infestation are very similar to the phenomena produced by psychokinetics and their close relations the physical mediums.  This, and the fact that an epicentre is usually involved, have led many people to argue that poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but instances of psychokinetic powers that are not under conscious control, technically known as ‘recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis’ (RSPK), produced by the epicentre.  One of the theories behind RSPK is that puberty triggers the sudden development of uncontrolled mental powers.

Poltergeists provide convincing evidence that something unusual is really happening, whether it is supernatural or paranormal, for two reasons.  Polergeist hauntings follow the same pattern in most cases, wherever and whenever they occur.  This undermines the cultural source explanation, and suggests a genuinely supernatural or paranormal phenomenon.  Secondly, investigators have exposed many poltergeist hauntings as hoaxes, in many other cases they have observed inexplicable phenomena at first-hand.

The skeptical viewpoint

The skeptical explanation is that ghost sightings are the result of a complex mix of sensory confusion, faulty memory, cultural influence, and exaggerated or false reporting.  In other words, ghosts exist only in the mind.  Skeptics claim that their theory is the only one that accounts for the whole range of ‘ghost facts’, and that the huge variety of ghost reports results from the individual and cultural variety of the witnesses.  But the skeptics can’t explain the hard core of reports of ghosts experienced by more than one witness, or cases where ghosts know things that living people do not.

Ghost Explained (Part 4)

Plasma and Psychospheres

by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs

A Field Phenomenon

Perhaps one of the most intriguing mysteries to make it into the 21st century without ever having been resolved is the ghost phenomenon.[1] Such a vast literature has been written on the subject that I will not expound on anything in this brief paper, but straightforwardly introduce a possible working hypothesis that may guide us in future investigations.

In every ghost apparition essentially two participants can be identified:

• the percipient is the one and sometimes the group undergoing the experience;
• the agent is the ghost itself or the person who is represented by the ghost, himself often deceased.

The most fundamental issue at stake in the ghost phenomenon appears to be the question who or what triggers the apparition: who takes the initiative? Subjective theories argue that the percipient himself initiates the apparition, for example as the effect of his unconscious on his sensory organs. Objective theories, on the other hand, advocate the view that there really is physical substance and actuality in the apparition, in other words, that the ghost itself may really operate on the percipient.[2]

Taking all the evidence together it would seem that there are certain arguments in favour of both explanations. Given the strong neurological resemblance between ghost apparitions and hallucinations, for example, it sounds likely to assume that the ghost apparition is essentially a between-the-ears process. Yet other considerations vouch for the physical existence of the ghost:

• the ghost is frequently observed by more than one person, all in their right minds, and appears to each of them in the correct perspective;
• the percipient generally does not even remotely expect to see anything of the kind, as most ghosts come completely ‘out of the blue’;
• many percipients have skeptical views of the paranormal and are greatly surprised by what they see;
• the ghost often appears opaque, blotting out objects behind it;
• the ghost is sometimes reflected in a mirror;
• the ghost often looks exactly like the agent, wearing clothes or having physical characteristics that are by no means known to the observer;
• the ghost is occasionally seen by animals as well, who sometimes even point the apparition out to the human percipient.

Thus, on one hand there is no denying that the ghost apparition is connected with hallucinatory processes in the brain,[3] whilst on the other hand there really appears to be some sort of external trigger. It seems warranted, then, to assume in the final analysis that both objective and subjective explanations play a part in the process. Now, how could this be envisioned?

I think a theory of ghosts could greatly benefit from the use of a field model. Field theory is especially common in physics, where it is used to account for the simultaneous presence or operation of certain forces in different places at the same time. The best known fields are the gravitational and the electromagnetic fields. Fields have a number of basic properties which will turn out to be of great help in a theory of ghosts:

#1. A field is typically generated by a single object.

#2. Fields can only be felt or experienced if you are properly attuned to them.

#3. Two or more different fields can overlap if they are close enough or the spheres are large enough. The resulting force in the overlapping area will be the sum of the forces of the overlapping fields.

#4. The field radiates outwards from this objects with a gradual decline in strength. The strength of the field declines in space and time – in space, because the further you are removed from the centre the weaker the field becomes, and in time, because the longer after the original generation of the field, the weaker the field becomes.

These characteristics seem to make sense of many aspects commonly involved in ghost experiences:

#1. A large class of ghost apparitions, most notably the deathbed and near-death apparitions and so-called crisis apparitions, take place on occasion of extreme emotional stress, usually of a negative kind, but occasionally of a delightful nature. It would seem, then, that the psychological crisis experienced by the agent generates a field of some kind, which forms the basis of the apparition. I will provisionally call this field a psychic field or a psychosphere.[4]

#2. Many people never see ghosts and it even occurs that some people in a group see it, but one in the group misses it. There appears to be a selection of people who can observe a ghost. This could be explained by a field model, in which persons whose senses pick up the right wavelengths can see a ghost. This notion bears a close resemblance to Rupert Sheldrake’s suggestion of morphic fields, which convey information relevant to select groups of individuals, as well as to theories of telepathy. As a rule of thumb you could say that people who are closely related or know each other well seem to be better ‘tuned in’ to each other and that might help explain why so many ghosts are identified as family members of the percipient, dead or alive.[5]

#3. The discrepancy between the objective and subjective theories of ghosts could now be overcome by invoking the principle of an overlap of fields. If we might posit for the moment that every human being – or every animal with a brain – has his own psychosphere, then all types of non-verbal, non-visual and distant communication could be understood as the result of an overlap of psychospheres,[6] facilitated if the persons involved are tuned in to the same wavelengths. Thus, if someone sees a ghost it is neither enough to suppose that the agent is sending out signals nor to suppose that the percipient is hallucinating, but both are true at once, as it is a mutual process triggered by this overlap of psychospheres. The agent, typically on occasion of crisis, broadcasts strong signals constituting his own psychosphere, which are picked up by the percipient if he is tuned in properly.[7] The psychosphere must somehow be supposed to convey all the necessary information to ‘make a ghost’ and ‘deliver a message’, for which issue see below.

#4. The gradual decline of a field in time and space works well for the ghost phenomenon. Naturally, you would expect that the psychosphere is at its strongest close to the agent and at the moment of the crisis itself. This is, of course, why deathbed apparitions are such a common class of ghost observations. The two other dominant classes of ghost apparitions are haunters and crisis apparitions. Haunters and to a lesser degree revenants are classes of ghosts who are bound to one particular place and appear more than once in that area for an extended period of time. Many people can see the same haunters, including people who have no idea who the haunter is. Unlike haunters, crisis apparitions are ghosts who are seen in a different place than the place of trauma, often far removed from it, but this time almost exclusively by close relatives and friends of the agent. Thus, haunters and crisis apparitions appear to be each other’s opposites in terms of distance and familiarity:

location: seen by:
haunters: same place anyone
crisis apparitions: anywhere close family and friends

These observations receive an excellent explanation in terms of a field, as the two classes of ghost apparitions correspond to the peaks of field strength in space and time respectively. That is, whilst the field strength gradually declines after the crisis it can still be picked up either by being close to the centre of the field, where it was generated (haunters) or by being well attuned to the correct wavelength (crisis apparitions). If you are far removed from the source and are not tuned in to the particular person you will miss the signals.

This explanation requires, almost as a corollary, that a psychosphere imprinted by someone in mental crisis can linger on after the person’s death. This imprint could then be identified with a ‘soul’ or ‘astral double’, if you like.[8] It supposedly forms a double of the agent in crisis himself and sometimes even of his environment.

What Type of Field?

The upshot is that a field theory of some sort would seem able to make sense of the communication aspect of the ghost experience. The next step from here would be to determine what type of field this is and how exactly it can convey information about the form, the behaviour and the message of the ghost. In the large majority of cases the ghost turns out to look exactly like the agent, often displaying features of which the percipient was by no means aware. Does the field somehow contain a three-dimensional image of a visual type, so that the percipient’s brain, receiving these data turns them into a hallucinatory vision, giving the percipient the feeling that he has actually observed the ghost with his eyes and other senses?[9]

A first step towards the answer is to remember that the human brain and nervous system are of an electric nature.[10] The impulses sent from our eyes, ears, nose and skin to our brain are electrical signals transported through our nerves. Thus, the information constituting a ghost experience always ends up in an electric format in our brains, but if we want to find out whether the ghost is merely a set of field parameters picked up by our brain or a real observed object, we need to know if the psychosphere itself could be an electromagnetic field. Now, interestingly, there are telling clues that ghosts do indeed have a close connection with electromagnetic phenomena:

A neighbour boy enlisted to the Marines, and was serving in the Pacific. His parents heard nothing for about six weeks, his mother was wild with anxiety. One morning I stood looking across our yard toward our neighbor’s mailbox thinking ‘If only Bob’s mother could get a letter’. As if in answer to my prayer, there stood Bob, right near the mailbox, in his Marine uniform. He and his uniform appeared pale in colour and fuzzy in outline. He neither moved nor spoke … After Bob stood there for a minute or two impressing his thought on my mind, his ‘body’ started to rise. It stretched out longer and thinner – not straight into the sky, but at an angle of perhaps 30 degrees from the vertical. When the head and shoulders were perhaps 3 metres above where they had been at first they suddenly turned into (or went into) a bright shaft of light, like a very bright electrical bolt. The balance of the figure followed the head and shoulders into the light and disappeared. The bolt appeared about a metre long and 12 centimetres in diameter. The queer thing was the sparks of blue and green light that appeared to radiate from the lower edge of the bolt, and the yellow and red sparks that came from the upper end … Bob’s last two letters came that day, and in September came a ‘missing in action’ telegram.[11]

Filmed for a television documentary, investigators headed by William Roll and Andrew Nichols, both of them professors of parapsychology in American universities, found significant electromagnetic readings in houses where hauntings were claimed.[12]

Eastman, Chief Engineer at the Rhodes Electrical Company, London, was working with his colleague Harold Woodew in a darkened room, arranging high-tension wires to form a magnetic field. To their astonishment, a luminous blue sphere began to form over a dynamo revolving near them. Then, as the light grew brighter, they saw a form resembling a human hand appear in the centre of the sphere. They watched it for several minutes, until it faded away. For four days, the two men worked to re-create the conditions in which the phenomenon had occurred. When they eventually succeeded, the sphere again appeared, but this time the form which appeared in the magnetic field resembled a human head, white in colour and slowly revolving.[13]

During an apparition the percipient’s hair is often raised and the person frequently feels a chilling passing wind as well:

Percipients quite often tell us they have a feeling of something strange before they actually see their ghost … At one point during the Cheltenham case, Rosina Despard notes, ‘I felt a cold icy shiver’ when the ghost bends over her while she is playing the piano. On another occasion five of the witnesses feel ‘a cold wind, though their candles were not blown about’.[14]

Ghosts sometimes produce Poltergeist effects, such as lifting tables, or closing windows or doors. These observations could be explained in terms of electromagnetism as well.

It would seem, then, that the psychosphere is an electromagnetic field or at least has an influence on electromagnetism. But how could an electromagnetic field possibly take on the visual appearance of a ghost? This question has to my knowledge never been answered in existing literature and it is at this point that I would like to introduce plasma as the possible key to decipherment of the ghost enigma.[15] A plasma is an ionised gas, which is by definition located in an electromagnetic field. The particles of the plasma rearrange themselves according to the field lines of the magnetic field, so that a plasma in a field with a sufficiently strong current becomes a visible manifestation of the magnetic field. The shape a plasma takes on, therefore, is the shape of the magnetic field. It is now generally acknowledged that plasma accounts for 99.9 % of the universe; well-known examples of plasma formations are stars, the sun, the auroras, lightning, and fire. I would now propose the following working hypothesis for a new theory of ghosts:

A ghost is a plasma formed when the percipient’s electromagnetic field overlaps with the electromagnetic ‘psychosphere’ of the – often distant – agent and the combined field strength ionises the gas particles in the air.

This hypothesis could be tested by a detailed comparison of the morphology of ghosts with plasma physics. Although I am in no way a specialist in plasma physics, a general reading of literature would support the following observations:

• Ghosts often glow or are visible in the dark. This is a property of plasma.
• Ghosts run the gamut of sometimes being completely transparent and sometimes being completely opaque. Opacity is a function of the density of the plasma.
• Ghosts occasionally produce sound, but they often have difficulty with it, fail to say something, or merely utter an eerie cry. Plasmas, such as auroras and lightings, are frequently accompanied by sound.
• Most ghosts are stationary, but some are engaged in some activity or move around. Plasmas could be either stationary or mobile.
• Ghosts are sometimes seen passing through walls, but often open doors like ordinary people. There would be no boundaries for moving plasmas, although it appears that the agent urges the plasma to react as a living person would do.
• Ghosts never leave physical objects behind. Plasmas are simply ionised gases.
• Many ghosts start off as a ball, then become a ring or a humanoid form. Witness the following examples:

A party of young people and myself determined on All Hallow’s Eve to play at the childish game of sitting separately in dark rooms, with supper laid for two, with the intention of awaiting the appearance of a future husband or wife. Thinking the whole thing a joke, and not in the least expecting to see anything, I distinctly saw, first, a flimsy cloud which rose up at the other end of the room, then the head and shoulders of a man, middle-aged, stout, with iron-grey hair and blue eyes – not in the least the picture which a young girl would imagine she saw on such an occasion.[16]

Frau Schmidt-Falk is climbing alone, when she happens to miss her way: ‘… Having started a little late for the return, and light beginning to fade, all of a sudden I found myself in a really dangerous position … All of a sudden I noticed a sort of a big ball of light, and this condensed to the shape of a tall, rather Chinese looking gentleman … The gentleman bowed, spoke a few words, led me a small path to the tourists’ way, and disappeared as a ball of light.[17]

When we were about five, Aunt Sarah died … About two weeks later, Bud and I were playing by the side of the house at twilight (sic!). I happened to look up and saw a cloudy, swirling vapour. It became Aunt Sarah, standing there by the house.[18]

(While working with medium Marthe Béraud) ‘I see something like a white vapour, about 40 centimetres from me. It is like a white veil or handkerchief on the ground. This whiteness rises, becomes rounded. Soon it is a head, level with the ground: it rises further, grows, and becomes a human figure, a short man, wearing a turban and a white robe, with a beard …[19]

I was lying on a divan, reading, at about 5 p. m., when I saw at the doorway a little luminous circle, like the reflection of a mirror. I could see nothing that would cause such a light. The luminous circle became larger, and when it was as big as the door itself, a kind of dark shadow appeared in the middle of it. A human figure formed more and more distinctly, then detached itself from the wall and advanced towards me.[20]

Other than the visible plasma, the intruding psychosphere might contain additional electromagnetic information to be read by the brain of the percipient, which could perhaps account for the missing information, important advice, correct hiding place and so forth transmitted by the ghost in many ghost experiences. Needless to say that the investigation has only just begun.

Appendix

The following is a very brief extract of the findings of Hilary Evans’ detailed study of ghost apparitions:

Types of ghosts[21]

#1 from the past:
#1a revenants
#1b deathbed and near-death
#1c haunters
#2 of the present:
#2a crisis apparitions
#2b living ghosts
#2c autophany and bi-location
#3 of the future
#4 out of time:
#4a aerial battles and other events
#4b archetypal ghosts

Characteristics of ghosts[22]

#1 a ghost is generally life-like in appearance;
#2 a ghost is usually ‘seen’ in much the same way as if it was real;
#3 a ghost may be seen either collectively or selectively;
#4 a ghost may change its appearance during the sighting;
#5 a ghost generally adapts to its surroundings (by minding doors and so on)
#6 a ghost may appear by forming from a luminous or misty shape;
#7 a ghost is generally dressed naturally … but sometimes not;
#8 a ghost may be clearly defined … or fuzzy;
#9 a ghost may be seen in whole or in part;
#10 a ghost’s appearance may contain details unknown to the percipient;
#11 a ghost may be opaque or transparent, may reflect or not, cast a shadow or not;
#12 a ghost may or may not be seen by its own luminosity;
#13 ghosts can make sounds;
#14 a ghost may perform a physical action … but if so, the action is trivial;
#15 a ghost may be touched and felt … but lack material substance;
#16 a ghost may respond to the percipient or act as though s/he isn’t there;
#17 a ghost generally makes a once-only visit … but sometimes returns;
#18 a ghost may appear in two places simultaneously, or within an impossibly short space of time;
#19 a ghost may depart naturally, or vanish abruptly, or simply fade away;
#20 a ghost never leaves any souvenir, memento or trace;
#21 a ghost may be seen by the ‘wrong’ person;
#22 a ghost frequently fails to establish its identity;
#23 ghosts are frequently sensed.

Purposes of the ghost experience[23]

#1 apparitions offering comfort, counsel, help
#2 apparitions requesting comfort, counsel, help
#3 apparitions warning of danger
#4 apparitions seeking to complete ‘unfinished business’
#5 apparitions manifesting malevolence
#6 apparitions as messengers of doom.

Marginally related phenomena[24]

#1 dreams
#2 hallucinations
#3 religious visions
#4 battlefield helpers
#5 folklore entities
#6 angels and women in white
#7 demons and men in black
#8 bedroom visitors
#9 extraterrestrial beings
#10 séance-room materialisations

Those who have the ghost experience[25]

#1 exceptional people
#2 sensitive people
#3 ‘encounter-prone’ people
#4 exceptional states
#5 mystical states
#6 exceptional circumstances
#7 violent death and reincarnation
#8 immediate circumstances
#9 geophysical parameters.

So, if a person experiences a severe electric shock, or his house is built on clay, or he is susceptible to thunderstorms, or he is laid low by fever, or eats the wrong food or no food, or dallies with drugs or abuses alcoholic beverages, or pushes himself too hard at the office, or drives alone at night or sails alone across an ocean, or undergoes a spiritual transformation or quarrels with his partner at the breakfast table – in these or a hundred other situations, he may be rendered more likely to have a ghost experience.[26]

Conclusions

• Because we know that the subconscious … can visualize a hallucination, we may accept this as the process whereby an apparition is perceived, the suggestion either originating in the individual’s own subconscious, or suggested to it by an external agent.

• Because we know no limits to the creativity of the human mind, we may accept the possibility that many ghosts … are visualizations, exteriorized by the percipient’s own subconscious and accepted as real by his conscious mind.

• Because we know that the mind is occasionally capable of remote viewing we know that psi exists, and because the mind can be capable of precognition, we know that super-psi exists; and because we know no limits to super-psi, we may conceive it possible that the mind can obtain unlimited access to information of every kind.

• Because we know that projection takes place, we know that the extended self, or something like it, must exist. If so, it is a likely candidate for many types of apparition, notably living ghosts and those which seem to involve bi-location.

• Because the extended self, in the course of projections, displays memory, awareness and other indications of intelligence … we may accept that these faculties can exist apart from the physical body.

• Because the extended self, possessing awareness, intelligence and memory, can seemingly exist apart from the physical body, we may further conceive that it could survive the death of the physical body, and even continue to display signs of individual personality.

• Because we know that ghosts sometimes communicate information known to no living person, and utter veridical warnings, we know that whatever causes them enjoys seemingly unlimited access to knowledge; this could be the percipient’s own subconscious, or the extended self of the surviving dead, using super-psi.

• Because there are cases in which more than one person sees the same ghost in natural perspective, we may conceive that the subconscious, or the extended self, or the two in collaboration, can create a short-lived apparition which has some degree of material substance.[27]

References

[1] Along with a host of closely related phenomena such as UFOs, saintly visions, battlefield helpers, folklore entities, angels, demons, women in white and men in black, extraterrestrial visitors, séance-room materialisations, and bedroom visitors, see H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 130-165

[2] Compare: We have basically two models for the experience: • The subjective model, originating with the subconscious of the percipient. Either of its own accord, or in response to information obtained via psi or super-psi – comprising telepathy, clairvoyance, and unlimited access to information including precognition and retrocognition – the subconscious initiates a visualization process whereby it exteriorizes an image which can be perceived consciously by the percipient, and perhaps by others, as an apparition. • The external model, originating with an external agent – by which we generally mean the extended self of a person still living, or the surviving extended self of a person once living but now dead – which is able either to manifest as an apparition, or to impose an image by suggestion on to the subconscious of the percipient(s) and cause it to exteriorize an apparition … in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 235f.

[3] Compare: Psychological variables of many kinds are the building blocks of the ghost experience: hallucination is no more than the process which enables them to find visual expression as the devil, an extraterrestrial alien or Aunt Jane’s ghost, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 137

[4] William Roll calls this a psi field: Because the ‘telepathic charge’ of a haunted house is similar to the magnetic, gravitational, and other fields that surround physical objects, I have used the concept of psi field to describe psi phenomena that seem to depend on such objects. We can think of the psi field of an object, whether animate or inanimate, as a pattern of associations … In the same way as a magnet may magnetize another piece of metal and then be destroyed without affecting the new magnet, so may the images, ideas, and so on of a person continue to exist as part of the psi fields of objects with which he was once in contact, after he has gone. The image of a person seen in an apparition, whether this image was produced by him or someone else, may survive his death without being inhabited by his consciousness, William Roll, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 250

[5] James Crenshaw has toyed extensively with the idea of different realities with different wavelengths, as the following quotes show: Aside from the considerations of pure spirit, the same kind of vibrating energy, the same kind of dancing wave patterns that we encounter here are to be found there. Only the wavelengths, the incredibly rapid rate of vibration – frequencies of high orders unimagined in our world – appear to be different, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 271. The residents of the next world are able to take on a lower frequency, allowing them to manifest in our space and time. This is like a different radio or TV frequency, to which you need to be attuned if you are to receive the signal, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 271

[6] Compare: What happens when a witness perceives a haunter, in Price’s view, is that there takes place an ‘overlapping or interpenetration of two psychic atmospheres, the one which surrounds the percipient’s body and the one which pervades the room’ (which he supposes has been, as it were, left behind by the haunter after her death), in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 232

[7] Compare: One way of accounting for the crisis apparition would be if our subconscious is continually scanning the cosmos, like the radar scanner at an airfield, and picks up on happenings relevant to itself …, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 233

[8] Adolphe d’Assier in 1887 deemed this the ‘post-sepulchral spectre’: It is the phantasmal replica of all the organs of the human body. It has been seen, in fact, to move, speak, take nourishment, accomplish, in a word, the different functions of animal life. The molecules which constitute it are evidently borrowed from the organism which gave it birth. It may then be defined as a gaseous tissue offering a certain resistance, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 258

[9] This view is defended by Hilary Evans: It is attractive to suppose that the subconscious of some percipients – those that are, as it were, on the same wavelength as the psi field – may pick up a message from the psi field and externalize it as an apparition, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 250

[10] Compare: Like any brain process, hallucinations are essentially electrical; so in principle they can be recorded, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 142

[11] Pearl Ullrich, Bellingham, Washington State, 3 July 1944, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 88f.

[12] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 187

[13] Eastman, Woodew, London, circa 1930?, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 188

[14] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 92

[15] James Crenshaw’s theories came very close, but James had apparently never heard of plasma. He postulates fields of force as the basic building blocks of the universe: the particles which make up reality as we know it are merely ‘evanescent indicators’ of the emergence of these fields of force into our physical world of space and time. It is these fields which control the kind of growth and development exemplified by, say, the directive process of cell division, and – I suppose – the whole forward-progressing course of evolution. Crenshaw suggests that similar processes may result in apparitions and materializations: ‘the apparition appears to be made up of the same kind of transitory, emerging matter. It appears and disappears, can sometimes be seen and felt before disappearing, occasionally moves objects and leaves material traces …’ in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 270

[16] Mrs Gordon Jones, Anerley, England, Autumn, 1881, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 70

[17] Elsa Schmidt-Falk, Bavarian Alps, 1950s, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 109f.

[18] De Leon, Bonham, Texas, 1889, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 127

[19] Charles Richet, Villa Carmen, France, 1904, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 163

[20] N. Heintze, Moscow, Russia, 15 April 1884, in H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 163

[21] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 13-57

[22] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 58-94

[23] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 105

[24] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 130-165

[25] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 192-214

[26] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 213

[27] H. Evans, Seeing ghosts; experiences of the paranormal, John Murray, London, 2002: 273

Types of Ghosts

Types of Ghosts

It is indeed a tough job to precisely classify ghosts.  There are lots of different types of ghost, which behave in lots of different ways.  The variety of reported hauntings spells trouble for theories about where ghosts come from, because any theory that claims to be able to ‘explain’ ghosts also has to explain a mass of contradictory ‘ghost facts’.  For instance, one may believe that ghosts are only spiritual forces that influence mind to induce hallucination or vision of ghosts.  Then what about Poltergeists that are able to generate noise and move things?

In general, a ghost is a spirit, apparition, or presence of something or someone that isn’t really there.  Ghosts have been reported by every culture throughout history.  The stereotypical ghost is the spirit of a dead person that appears as a transparent mage, but there are many other types of ghost – they don’t have to be of people (they don’t even have to be dead).  Ghosts typically, but not always, haunt a specific location or person.

Given such wide variety, we attempt to define several general types of ghosts as shown below.  This classification is limited only to those pertaining to dead, and ordinary level of spirits often intertwining with human beings.  That means, it does not include a full domain of spirits such as deity, fairy, angel, devil, demon, goblin, or goddess etc.

  • Human ghosts
    • The unquiet dead
    • Re-enactment ghosts
    • Cyclic ghosts
    • Ghosts of the living
      • Crisis apparitions
      • Doppelgangers
  • Inhuman ghosts
    • Creepy critters
    • Planes, trains, and ghost ships
  • Poltergeists

Human Ghosts

The unquiet dead

The most usual theory is that ghosts are the souls of the departed, trapped on Earth for some reason.  This theory explains why ghosts might appear, and also why they disappear when laid, but it doesn’t explain ghosts of the living, ghosts of inanimate objects, or ‘boring’ ghosts that seem to have no purpose.

Here we have one example of classic ghost.  One of the earliest and famous ghost stories is the tale of Athenodorus, as told by Roman writer Pliny the Younger (61-113CE).  According to Pliny, there was a house in Athens haunted by the spectre of an old man in rags, who would moan and rattle his chains.  This terrible apparition frightened off all potential tenants until a visiting philosopher, named Athenodorus, decided to spend the night.  A few hours after dark, Athenodorus duly heard the clanking of chains and saw the ghost.  He followed it to a spot in the courtyard – digging the next day revealed a human skeleton in chains.  The bones were given a proper burial, and the ghost was never seen again.

Pliny’s classic tale illustrates many of the elements of the stereotypical ghost.  The typical ghost is the spirit of a dead person, which appears as a pale or transparent version of its living self.  Usually the apparition is wearing clothes and if it interacts with living people at all it does so in a limited way (it may not be able to speak, or it may only be able to repeat a few words).

Often a ghost seems to have a motive in appearing – to get the living to perform whatever ritual or process is necessary to let the ghost rest in peace.  This is known as ‘laying a ghost’.  In Pliny’s tale, the ghost’s original body was not properly buried, so its spirit was condemned to haunt the night.  This motif is found in ghost stories as far back as the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians, and as for afield as Asia and Europe.


Re-enactment ghosts

Not all ghosts act with a purpose.  In fact many of them seem oblivious to the real world or living people, and display no form of intelligence or consciousness.  An example of this sort is the ghost that re-enacts a sequence of actions when it appears, passing through walls and closed doors and sometimes appearing to stand above or below the level of the floor.

Re-enactment ghosts are thought to be following a route they took in life.  They are usually linked to violent or traumatic events – battles, murders, executions, accidents or suicides.

A famous example is the Treasurer’s House in York, England.  Witnesses have described troops of Roman soldiers in full armour marching through the cellars of this historic building.  Crucially, the soldiers appeared to be knee-deep in the cellar floor – at the level of an original Roman road through the area.

One popular theory to this is called the Stone Tape theory.  Many ghosts seem to be linked to traumatic or significant events, and this has led to the theory that people and events can somehow leave an impression on their surroundings, as if they were recorded in the stones of a house – hence the ‘stone tape’ theory.  Hauntings are replays of these recordings.  This theory explains why some ghosts seem not to be conscious, e.g. re-enactment ghosts; but not ones that interact with the living, or ones that are seen away from where they lived and died.


Cyclic ghosts

Many ghosts are said to appear ‘cyclically’ on significant anniversaries, these are known as ‘cyclic ghosts’.  Famous examples include Catherine Howard, one of Henry VIII’s wives, who is supposed to be seen running screaming through the halls of Hampton Court Palace on the anniversary of her sentencing to death.

Respected psychical researcher and author Ian Wilson regards such claims with skepticism, pointing out that if ghosts really did reappear that predictably a ghost hunter’s job would be extremely easy.  Another problem is that the calendar was changed in Europe in 1582 (1752 in England), with the loss of 11 days, so that if Howard really does appear she will effectively be 11 days late.


Ghosts of the living

Crisis apparitions:  Ghosts of the living usually involve people who are experiencing or approaching a crisis.  Hence they are known as crisis apparitions.  Typically a friend or relative , possibly many miles away, will see the person, who may look quite real and appear in an unremarkable fashion (e.g. popping in to say hi).  Later they discover that their friend died or experienced a crisis at the same time or very shortly afterwards, and couldn’t have been anywhere near where they were sighted.  Crisis apparitions do not fit into most theories about ghosts; the people are still alive, they are far away and they don’t seem to have much purpose.

However, many people argue that crisis apparitions are actually telepathic projections of some sort, in which sudden physical crisis boots psi power for a moment.

Doppelgangers:  Another type of living ghosts is a double; an apparition that looks exactly like the witness.  These ghosts are known by their German name ‘doppelganger’.  The appearance of a doppelganger can often be a bad omen, but not always.

Many people argue that doppelgangers, like crises apparitions, are actually telepathic projections, not ghosts.  There is also a rare medical condition, known as autoscopy, that causes people to hallucinate a transparent mirror image of themselves.

In Celtric lore, a doppelganger is known as a ‘fetch’.  In Iceland they are known as Fylgja, and in Norway as Vardoger.  These Scandinavian doubles announce someone’s arrival by appearing a few minutes before the actual person.


Inhuman Ghosts

One major problem for the theory that ghosts are spirits or personalities that survived death is that there are many reports of the ghosts of animals and even inanimate objects (mainly vehicles).

Creepy critters

Belief in animal spirits is common in hunting cultures.  Hunters sometimes perform elaborated ceremonies after killing an animal so that its spirit will not be vengeful.  In arctic Siberia, for instance, hunters hold a festival in honor of each whale they kill, so that its ghost will not frighten off other whales.

Ghost dogs are a common feature of western folklore, especially large black dogs with glowing eyes, known as barguests, devil dogs, gyrtrash, or shuck-hounds.  Barguests are usually thought to be bad omens, but can be helpful, protecting travellers in lonely places.

Planes, trains, and ghost ships

Probably the best known ghost vehicle is the Flying Dutchman.  This legendary vessel is said to be a 17-centuary sailing ship crewed by dead men, whose caption is doomed to sail the world forever as punishment for his sins.  Many sailors have reported encounters with the ship, which is usually described as glowing red or ghostly pale.


Poltergeists

The most convincing type of haunting, the poltergeist, may not be caused by a ghost at all.  The word poltergeist is the German term for ‘noisy ghost’, and is the name given to a type of haunting in which the ghost, if there is one, is invisible, manifesting itself through a variety of physical phenomena.

Bad behaviour

Common symptoms of a poltergeist haunting or infestation include: objects being moved or thrown about; banging, rapping and knocking; small fires that start mysteriously; appliances going haywire; inexplicable wet patches; and foul smells.  Generally poltergeists are more of a nuisance than a danger, although in at least one case: the infamous Bell Witch of Tennessee, which tormented the Bell family between 1817 and 1821, and eventually poisoned John Bell, the head of the family, a man has been killed.

The epicentre

The other distinguishing feature of a poltergeist haunting is that it tends to be centred on one person, and often follows that person if he or she attempts to move house, for instance.  The focus of a poltergeist haunting is known as the ‘epicentre’.  Epicentres are most commonly children or adolescents.


All in the mind

The things that happen in a poltergeist infestation are very similar to the phenomena produced by psychokinetics and their close relations the physical mediums.  This, and the fact that an epicentre is usually involved, have led many people to argue that poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but instances of psychokinetic powers that are not under conscious control, technically known as ‘recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis’ (RSPK), produced by the epicentre.  One of the theories behind RSPK is that puberty triggers the sudden development of uncontrolled mental powers.

Poltergeists provide convincing evidence that something unusual is really happening, whether it is supernatural or paranormal, for two reasons.  Polergeist hauntings follow the same pattern in most cases, wherever and whenever they occur.  This undermines the cultural source explanation, and suggests a genuinely supernatural or paranormal phenomenon.  Secondly, investigators have exposed many poltergeist hauntings as hoaxes, in many other cases they have observed inexplicable phenomena at first-hand.

The skeptical viewpoint

The skeptical explanation is that ghost sightings are the result of a complex mix of sensory confusion, faulty memory, cultural influence, and exaggerated or false reporting.  In other words, ghosts exist only in the mind.  Skeptics claim that their theory is the only one that accounts for the whole range of ‘ghost facts’, and that the huge variety of ghost reports results from the individual and cultural variety of the witnesses.  But the skeptics can’t explain the hard core of reports of ghosts experienced by more than one witness, or cases where ghosts know things that living people do not.

Theories On Vortexes & Ectoplasm

Theories On Vortexes & Ectoplasm

A common paranormal phenomenon that is encountered are vortexes and ectoplasm.  These are just as common as orbs for the most part.  As in orbs there are also theories on this phenomenon.  We also have our own theories on this just as anyone else would.  Personally, we believe that vortexes are the portal between dimensions in which ghosts travel through, whether that be from their world to ours or between sub-dimensions that may exist in the Hereafter.  We believe that ectoplasm is un-concentrated spirit energy that is dissipated and which can form into orbs too.  Both are commonly captured on film and video.  Listed below are some more theories on these two topics.

Here are some theories on vortexes:

1. Vortexes could very well be portals from dimension to dimension, which is the theory we go with.  This is probably the most well excepted theory at the time of this writing.

2. Another theory is that a vortex may be of an orb or orbs in motion.  Maybe that’s why it sometimes seems to look like that there are orbs forming a contrail in photographs but they could be just traveling through the vortex, either way both are plausible theories.  The orb theory could also explain why the vortex always seems to be bending in different directions.

3. This is another cheap theory that most skeptics go by is that the vortex could just be a camera strap.  We viewed some pictures in which the camera strap got in the way of the lens and it looks pretty convincing to the untrained eye.  We rarely use cameras with a strap and if you do you should keep it out of the way of the lens or simply wear it on your wrist.  Usually when the vortex seems twisting or seems to look fake its probably a strap.  Here is a photo with camera strap.  This does not explain all the strange pictures of transparent vortexes and the orbs moving through them.  Most ghost researchers can explain camera straps away the instant they see them.  For example, if the “vortex” is too dark, has a uniform pattern like stitching, or is bent in such a way to suggest a camera strap!

Here are some theories on ectoplasm:

1. The theory we support is that ectoplasm is un-condensed spirit energy that has simply not yet formed into orbs or even an Apparition.  Many ghost researchers find this theory to be the most plausible.

2. Another theory (well, not a theory but a fact) is that so-called “ectoplasm” is simply clouds or fog which can be outside which effect the lens which can make these supposedly “paranormal” images appear.  This has happened several times to us so make sure you go out when conditions are fine, no wind, fog, rain, dust, snow, etc. and remember to make sure that the lens of your camera is ABSOLUTELY clean.

3. Another theory is that ectoplasm could be electro-magnetic energy from the Earth but we don’t go by this theory since electromagnetic fields are usually are at their strongest during lunar cycles and cannot usually be strong enough energy-wise to be caught on film.  If the electro-magnetic theory is true then why so many authentic ectoplasm photos.

4. Another plausible theory is that ectoplasm is residual spirit energy that is left behind from a spirit that we recently in the area of where the photo was taken; this may coincide with Theory 1.

If you have a different view or want to share more with us, please send us an email.  Selected opinions would be posted here for follow up.

Ghost Explained (Part 3)

Dealing with Ghosts

Playing host to a ghost is not necessarily a bad thing.  Ghosts seldom present any physical threat to the living, after all, and they tend to be self-absorbed, more concerned with their own problems than with causing trouble for anybody else.  Resident spirits can even be comforting, provided they belong to benevolent ancestors or departed friends, or even to a charmingly sorrowful soul who’s just looking for company.

Viewed with a coldly commercial eye, a haunting can even have practical value.  Harmless but interesting haunts add a certain romantic cachet to a house, and that cachet may enhance property value.

All that having been said, however, most of us would probably prefer to confine our households to the living, simply because ghosts are scary.  Faced with the chilling certainty that some stranger is invisibly among us, its nature unknowable and its motives and intentions unknown, our first reflex is to scream.  But to whom?

To a priest is one answer.  In times past, and sometimes even today, spirit infestation was deemed a religious problem, best solved by religious means.  There has never been a society, primitive or modern, pagan or Judeo-Christian, that lacked the necessary technicians, whether witch doctors or shamans or clergy.  Tibetan Buddhists still use a rite called shedur that involves summoning a protective goddess to oust an offending spirit.  And of course, the Roman Catholic Church still occasionally employs the ancient rite of exorcism.

Some purists argue that exorcism aims to out demons, not ghosts.  But other experts dismiss this distinction as mere semantics, contending that a ghost, broadly defined, is any alien spirit that impinges on the world of the living, not just a spirit of the dead.  Demons qualify, therefore, and demonic possession is the invasion of a soul by some foreign entity rather than the invasion of a dwelling.  Indeed, the most ancient human problem with spirits has not been so much with the haunting of property as the haunting of souls, and these spirits, by definition, were evil.

The Catholic Church perfected its rite of exorcism early, in the 4th centaury, and it has changed little since.  Originally, the rite was built into baptism and could be applied both to the faithful and to those outside the Church as necessary.  But not all ecclesiastics could be exorcists; a certain charismatic quality was needed.  Some priests, for example, showed such power that they could drive out evil spirits by the force of their prayers alone, or by the laying on of hands.

As Christianity spread, however, and paganism waned, demonic possession became rare.  “It is only Catholic missionaries laboring in pagan lands,” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “who are likely to meet with fairly frequent cases of possession.”  Still, all reports of possession must be taken seriously and closely investigated, but only by those who have led brave and blameless lives and have prepared themselves through prayer and fasting, clergy who have immunized themselves against demonic invasion.


Soothing the Sorrowful

A priest need have no special qualifications, however, to bless a dwelling that may be troubled by restless spirits.  He may visit a home and offer prayers for those who live there.  Sprinkling of holy water and filling various rooms with incense also may be useful.

Malicious spirits sometimes can be persuaded by these techniques to move on.  If they resist, however, it’s possible that they are not malicious at all.  Most ghosts, it is said, cling to Earth because they are troubled souls, not evil ones.

Some experts believe that ghosts respond to exorcists not because the spirit is afraid of the talismans of belief, but because clergy tend to be good listeners, with an aura of emotional tranquility.  In fact, the negative energy of a full-blown exorcism may only enrage the ghost, especially if it’s already angry.

Most ghosts are not mad, merely sorrowful.  It isn’t that they don’t want to leave; their sadness holds them where they are.  More than any other kind of haunter, sorrowful ghosts reflect the living; all they lack is a body.  Because they are so close to live with them as they endlessly relive the moments that define their grief.  Let them brood.  And should they become too much, they generally will depart if asked politely.

Unresolved Issues

The ghosts hunters now summoned by the haunted tend to be less interested in driving away spirits than in understanding them, helping them work through the inner conflicts that keep them forever restive.  There is little room for troupes of bungling, khaki clad “ghostbusters” and their high-tech ectoplasm collectors in the real world of paranormal investigations.  The idea is not to bust ghosts but to counsel and comprehend them, to offer a compassionate solution to their emotional problems.  Like their living counterparts, ghosts have issues of abandonment, self-esteem, loneliness, and anger to resolve.  The language of ghost hunting has altered to reflect this understanding and uses the vocabulary of holistic therapy, not that of confrontation and spectral war.  Today’s professionals must be there for them.

They also must be there for hosts whose kinder, gentler approach hasn’t budged the spirit.  These intransigent ghosts are the plague-rats among haunters, ghosts in whom the touching melancholy of other apparitions seems to have curdled into terrible rage.  They aren’t working through anything familiar to the living, nor do they search for lst love’ they want only to entwine themselves as destructively as possible with the lives of their hosts.

Some of these are down right messy, besides.  Being haunted quickly loses its appeal when decapitated ghost drip blood on a white carpet even when the stain vanishes a moment later.  Slime is devilishly difficult to get out of suede.  A house haunted by such negative spirits is a miserably unhappy house.

China Breaker

And then there are the poltergeists (German for “noisy spirits”).  These demonic whirlwinds of the spirit world seem always to need attention from the living and are willing to go to any extreme to get it.  Some modern ghost haunters say poltergeists are not real ghosts and that the mischief usually attributed to them is actually caused by psychic energy emanating from a troubled member of the household, especially young people.  Whatever the source, however, paranormally flying crockery and slamming cabinets can be problems that need immediate solutions.

Once a poltergeist is sensed, the first step might be to store the family china and other breakables outside the home.  These prankster spirits often seem to have a sense of fun that can make them lively company as long as they are treated well.  They are like pet raccoons, marvelous to watch, often funny, and wondrously destructive.

If you don’t find them amusing, however, the most important tactic for getting rid of them may be to look inward.  Most investigators now believe that ghosts, including poltergeists, are drawn to the projections of the human unconscious.  Thus, before trying to expel an angry ghost or rowdy poltergeist, a certain amount of introspection is in order.  Haunted hosts are often just people under a lot of stress or jangled by a recent emotional ordeal, so they radiate a powerful negativity, a dark flame that draws spectral moths.  Before calling anyone, one must change that aura and deprive the ghost of its negative beacon.

 


Calling in the Ghost Investigators

If the dark beacon attracting the ghost is external instead of internal, i.e., something to do with the property rather than the host, a trip to the library might reveal what happened there that would leave a ghost-drawing psychic imprint.  A murder?  A suicide?  A memorable injustice or failed romance?  Old houses virtually glow with forgotten violence.

To help erase this psychic residue, you may need to call in the professionals.  Their tactics will vary according to the nature of ghost and the nature of the hunter.  Some excel at tracking, some are eager for discovery.

The Singapore Paranormal Investigators, a registered society that has a website of information on ghost hunting and hauntings, has a large collection of ghost photographs posted on the Internet, a kind of spectral rogues gallery to help the haunted to identify what is plaguing them.  Besides photographs, the society has posted tips on on equipment usage and ghost hunting strategies, along with goose-bump-inducing recording said to be voices of the dead.  There is information about club gathering, research trips and a newsletter for do-it-yourself ghost hunters.  For those seeking additional aid, the society provides links to other useful sources such as exorcists, spiritual healers and so on.

Even if you have good professional help, “laying the ghost” – the unfortunate but traditional term for getting rid of one, can be a long and complicated process.  Eventually, you may have to decide whether your spectral guest is more welcome than the hunters pursuing it.

Intuition and Patience

Because ghosts generally require patience and understanding more than the shock of an all-out exorcism, a good ghost hunter must be intuitive to a fault, a person whose own psychic abilities allow contact with the spirit on an emotional plane.  No one wants an angry banishment that could result in more ghost trouble down the line.  But the client’s instincts are also central here.  Generally, anyone sensitive enough to have a paranormal problem reads underlying psychic vibes well enough to find the right ghost hunter for the job at hand.

Once a professional has been called in, the investigation unfolds step by step in a logical fashion.  First, an interview examines the hauntee’s report, with the experienced hunter wielding skepticism like a machete.  Few reputable practitioners would undertake an investigation before ruling out every possible natural scenario, turning to the paranormal only as a last resort.  Then photographs are taken of the site, and perhaps drawings are made.  If the haunt has a discernible pattern, the investigators may want to stay on site for a while to map it.  Given the intrusive nature of the inquiry, you should never embark on a paranormal investigation lightly, or with investigators who are not sympathetic companions.  Hunters who are too ready to believe, or too skeptical to accept what their senses tell them, should be replaced immediately: Ghost sneer at their psychic inferiors.

Whatever the type of spectral presence, its removal should be under taken with compassion and understanding, or at worst with tough love.  Despite their restless, worrisome ways, ghosts are more like us, more like the living, than not.  They have beliefs, hopes, fears, concerns, and expectations that must be respected.  And they have vast experience.  Many ghosts are believed to have been roaming the world for centuries.

Sometimes they may be gentled into a tolerable domesticity.  But now and then they are so dark, so angry, so destructive that they have to be forced to leave.  Time is on their side, however, and they know it.  Having one’s ghosts removed, even with today’s conciliatory methods, may take a good long time.  Patience is the key.  Patience is what we should be thinking when we finally decide to pick up the telephone and ask for professional help.