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Ghosts, specters, ghouls, apparitions, poltergeists…there are many different labels for ghosts.  Many classify ghosts based on their apparent purpose in coming back from the dead.


There are four main types:


Mischief-Makers:  An active spirit that likes to cause trouble, usually a poltergeist.


Most mischief-makers are poltergeists, although other ghosts can cause trouble too.  What is a poltergeist?  The word is German for “noisy ghost.”   A poltergeist is almost always invisible.  Instead all that can be seen is what the poltergeist does, usually throwing things, moving things and making tons of noise.  A mild-mannered one might only make minor mischief, moving someone’s keys, knocking on walls or windows, etc.  An aggressive poltergeist, can turn the contents of a house upside down, blast the stereo through the night, or even steal a car.


Poltergeists usually don’t communicate with the living, nor do they seem emotionally connected, to their haunting grounds.  Some even believe they are not really “human” in nature.  They may cause chaos and damage, but they don’t intentionally harm those around them.  If someone gets hurt it is usually by something that the poltergeist has done.


Poltergeist activity is centered on a particular person-usually a teenager or someone intensely emotional.  Some experts believe that the increased level of emotional energy fuels the poltergeist, allowing it to play it’s pranks. 


Characteristics of Mischief-Makers::


  • Ability to move objects
  • Invisible
  • Able to create mysterious gusts of wind
  • Destructive
  • Spotted all over the world
  • Can cause a drop in temperature
  • May cause interference in TVs and radios
  • Often centered around one person




Avengers:  Returns to right a wrong, or to avenge a death; may be seeking justice.  Some ghosts appear to have returned from the afterlife in order to right a wrong done to them, or even to someone else, in life.  Sometimes a ghost may wish to bring a crime to light (their murder), so that those in the living may right the wrongdoing.  Or the ghost’s goal is to avenge his or her own death, either by revealing the culprit so that justice may be done or by personally retaliating against the murderer.


Avengers make themselves known by various means.  Some are apparitions, which are ghosts that appear to the living but cannot speak.  They may try to communicate by other means, such as appearing repeatedly in the place where they died or were killed.  They might coninue to make itself visible to various people until one of them realizes there might have been foul play involved in the apparitions death.


Other avengers though can talk, and therefore inspire the living to help them exact their revenge (remember the movie What Lies Beneath?)  A ghosts method of revenge is to make life miserable for someone they feel deserves it. 


Characteristics of Avengers::


        Often wrongly executed

        May be vengeful and hostile

        Wear the same clothing as when it was alive


        Spotted all over the world

        Can cause a drop in temperature

        Can be male or female




Message-Bringers:   A spirit that appears to deliver a message or warning to the living.  This type of ghost appears either at the moment of death or soon after.  These can also be called a “crisis apparition.”  These appear as a vision to a person at the same time that the real person is miles away.  Many report seeing visions of a friend or loved one at the exact moment that person died, even though they are miles from each other.  Sometimes they will appear shortly after death to bring a loved one a message of reassurance and comfort.  Other ghosts may try to bring an important secret into the open, or to warn the living of impending danger.  They may say the same thing over and over until they find someone who will listen. 


Characteristics of Message-Bringers:


  • May repeat a message
  • Translucent
  • Wear the same clothing as when it was alive
  • Often haunts it’s grave
  • Can be accompanied by mist
  • Spotted all over the world
  • Can be male or female
  • Often appears to a loved one




Haunters:  Return to a specific place that they loved in life.  These are the least complicated of all the ghost types.  They hang around specific places they feel attached to, because they cant say goodbye.  They may simply feel a fond attachment to the palce or something important may have happened to them there.  These ghosts may or may not interact with the living.  Some just want to stay where they were happiest.  And others want to protect a place or the people in it. Or to play a musical instrument that they adored in the living.


Characteristics of Haunters:


  • May be human in appearance
  • May be non-human in appearance
  • Wear the same clothing as when it was alive
  • Often returns to protect someone or something important
  • Translucent
  • Haunts one place only
  • Spotted all over the world
  • Can cause a drop in temperature
  • Can be male or female

Some other types of Ghosts:

Bed Post Ghost: Sometimes called a Banshee, in which a spirit is seen by a friend or relative in very lucid dream usually with feelings of reassurance or warnings involved.

 Doppelganger:  A ghost that looks, walks, talks, and appears to a family member of the person it looks like at the exact moment the person it looks like dies. People have even claimed to have seen their own doppelganger. Doppelganger means double goer in German. Reported as being solid, or transparent.


Anniversary ghost: This is a type of residual haunting where ghosts are seen on the anniversary of their death, originally caused by some tragic event. These are particularly common in castle hauntings and relate back to legends of tragedies from centuries past.


Projection: This is the theory that ghosts are all in the mind and are merely a projection of thoughts and fears of the human subconscious.  


Demon: A spirit that possesses a human being and causes him or her to do evil acts.


Orbs and light ghost: unexplainable mysterious lights, sometimes orb shaped, that seem to move of their own volition, appearing and disappearing at will.


Ectoplasm, Ecto-mist, vapor, ghostly mist:  Cloudy vaporous mist.  This term was originally used to describe the substance that oozed from spirit mediums during a sťance. Now it is associated and referred to as a mist or fog, and it usually displays a swirl effect within a vaporous cloud. It normally appears several feet off the ground and can linger or travel quickly at will. It's usual colors are gray or  white but has also been seen and photographed in several other colors. Ecto-mist  has been caught on both video & all types of cameras. It's important to note that a camera can inadvertently create this effect artificially in cold weather by a person exhaling to close to the lens when taking the picture. The exhaled breath looks similar to ectoplasm but without the swirls. There are several strange characteristics associated with ectoplasm. It is warm to the touch and has a wax like composition with weight and mass. It is sometimes a gelatinous rubbery Orbs are the most photographed anomalies captured on film by ghost hunters. They substance that disappears suddenly when exposed to bright light.

Globes, Orbs, balls of Light:   Orbs most often show up as transparent or translucent balls of light hovering above the ground.  Another feature is  when they are captured on film they have a lingering trail. This trail indicates they were traveling at a fairly fast rate of speed at the time of the flash, which further indicates it's authenticity.  Some experts say that 85% of photographed orbs are created inadvertently by circumstances and weather conditions at the time of the flash. Orbs have also been seen on video hovering in the same position for short periods of time but most often are caught traveling erratically through the air in a rather care free pattern. 

Vortex, funnel ghosts:  A vortex is a very strange and mysterious phenomena. They usually take on the appearance of a swirling funnel shape when moving about. They can also appear in pictures as being long and narrow and having a tread design within their make up. They are readily confused with a speeding orb when they slow down and take on this straight & narrow look.  They are often felt as a cold spot.

Apparitions:  disembodied spirit Catching an apparition on film is what every ghost hunter aspires to but seldom, if ever sees. They show up in forms ranging from a transparent  to solid human form and wear the clothing of their period. Some may appear faint and disfigured as in being incomplete. There are four classes of apparitions;

Class 1: Partials. Apparitions that show up incompletely, having no legs for example.
Class 2: Invisible. These are invisible to the naked eye, but will show up on film when photographed
Class 3: Visible. These are visible to the naked eye. Usually transparent in nature.
Class 4: Solids. Appear very solid. Witnesses commonly mistake them for real people, until they vanish before their eyes.

In addition, there are four subtypes to each of these classes;

Type 1: Historical Apparitions. They typically haunt older buildings and appear in solid forms acting natural.
Type 2: Recurring Apparitions. ghosts that occur in regular cycles over a period of time.
Type 3: Modern Apparitions.  The spirits of present day ghosts. They are relatively new, looking and sounding like modern people.
Type 4: Crisis and Family Apparitions.

Ghost lights: They have been seen on video hovering in the same area for short periods of time but most often are caught traveling rather erratically through the air in a rather care free pattern. Gaseous materials often accompany them. Observers reportedly hear buzzing or humming sounds. They seem to react to both lights and noise. Gaseous materials sometimes accompany them. They are very elusive and can only be seen from the proper distance and angle.

Shadow ghosts, dark entities:  These ghosts usually appear as shadows.  They look a bit like Ecto-mist but with form and are normally reported to be two feet in length or longer and tend to travel at a height of two to ten feet. In photographs it's easy to confuse them with natural shadows so be careful. They are usually sneaky and evasive. When they are spotted it's usually out of the corner of your eye or as they are darting through a wall. They are often spotted in mirrors.

copyright @ 2006 by AF