Ghosts and Haunts: What Do We Really Know?

The attempt to distinguish one type of haunting from another is an incredibly difficult task for even the most seasoned Paranormal Investigator. After years of research, I can assure you of one thing; ghosts do not willfully come out of hiding to visit with us over coffee. As a matter of fact, the average specter seems to avoid confrontations with the living, tending to show themselves only when, where and how they want. Despite my greatest efforts, I have yet to define any clear method of enticing them out of hiding and into our presence. I don't know if they avoid interaction with us by their own choosing, their abilities or even due to the order of a higher being. Regardless, the difficulties we face when trying to understand the different types of ghosts and haunts we come across, is nothing compared to how difficult it is to talk about them in an intelligent way. Before we can have an honest conversation about ghosts, or any other topic for that matter, we must attempt to define what it is we are talking about and the following is my attempt to do just that. Please keep in mind that all of which you are about to read are my own thoughts and feelings about the matter. After all, when dealing with the supernatural there are no true facts - only a lot of speculation.
So, what exactly is a ghost? In my opinion, a ghost is the surviving, yet transformed energy of a human being after his or her physical body dies.
Let's talk briefly about the energy contained within the human body. Everything about us (both physiologically and psychologically) is possible, and controlled by, the electrical signals running throughout our bodies. This electricity is generated within the atoms from which we are built. Without it, we could not possibly exist. Consider also Einstein's formula: E=MC2, which basically says that energy can transform, but never dies. This fact is also supported by the Laws of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is always conserved; it cannot be created nor destroyed. In essence, energy can only be converted from one form into another.
Considering that the scientific community generally accepts these laws and theories as being factual, then the next obvious question is: What happens to all that electricity after our physical body ceases to exist? I believe that our energy detaches from the flesh and yet somehow continues to thrive. This may sound outrageous to some, but there is a mountain of evidence collected by thousands of Paranormal Investigators from all around the world to support the idea that our energy survives outside of our human body. The evidence also shows that our energy is capable of retaining our entire personality, including all of our thoughts, memories and desires. In some cases we even see evidence that we keep our temperament and sense of humor!
Now that you understand how I feel about the survival of our soul outside of our physical human body, allow me discuss what I believe happens after we die, and also some of the many ways we seem capable of interacting with the physical world after our departure.
Reincarnation: In some cases, I believe that our energy is reincarnated and will begin life anew inside the body of another human. How this takes place, I don't know, but I do believe it happens. I also believe that at our rebirth, we lose the conscious memories of our past. Where's my evidence to support such a notion? Well, the evidence is anecdotal at best, but there have been stories of Deja vu going back countless generations. Deja vu is the feeling that one has already seen or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the earlier encounter are uncertain and perhaps even dreamt or imagined. In some cases, the experience is so distinct that the person may enter into a building they have never been and yet somehow know exactly where everything is within the house. Hypnotists have also been known to take people back to the past; so far in fact that the person believes that he or she has gone into a previous life; they call this, "Past Life Regression Hypnosis." Now, I know this isn't a lot of evidence to support my belief in reincarnation, but like I said before, this is my opinion, and that is all I have to offer.
Heaven: I also believe that once you have learned what is required of you here on Earth, you will be invited to "follow the light," and go directly to Heaven. What is Heaven? I don't know, I haven't seen it. But, based on the testimony of countess patients that have experienced the life after death phenomenon; I believe it is a place where your energy becomes a part of the eternal energy field that transcends time and space. At that time, you are no longer held down by the restraints of your physical body and you are free to live again without pain or stress. Everything is beautiful, everything is love and everything is eternal. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, we are only human after all and to accept anything as perfect as what I just described goes against everything we have ever learned about life. Still, I truly believe in "Heaven" and I believe that it is every bit as awesome as the Bible describes.
Hell: I suppose that if one believes in Heaven, then we must also accept that there is a Hell. Hell is for the nastiest of bad people, and everything I have ever read about the place is horrific and ugly. I hope I never receive the opportunity to experience it. The funny thing is that most of the evidence we have recorded suggests that life after death is typically enjoyable. We might choose to believe that all the truly evil people of the world have already transcended to Hell, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
Haunts: If you don't go to Heaven or Hell, and you have not yet been reincarnated, then what? Well, at that point you may be in a place where you are stuck on Earth for a while. Maybe you are awaiting your judgment, or there is just a long line at checkout and you don't want to get in it yet. While waiting for the right time, you may attempt to interact with the natural world, and if your interaction is successful, then you will in effect be the source of a place being considered haunted. There are many types of haunts to discuss, and many "titles" assigned to them, however, let me assure you that no matter what you read elsewhere; none of us can claim any of this as factual. It is merely the interpretations of our knowledge combined with our own personal experiences described the best way we know how.
Intelligent Haunting: The belief that when a person dies, his or her spirit leaves the human body and for reasons unknown, remains earthbound. There are many theories about why the disembodied soul of a dead person doesn't leave, (unfinished business, doesn't know that he or she is dead, etc.) but who really knows? There are a few things we focus on as we attempt to find if the haunting is the result of a discarnate Soul: the ghost will be interactive, intelligent, and he or she may attempt to communicate with us.
Residual: This is the belief that an event is so intense that it leaves an impression on the scene, (similar to the way a sound is recorded onto the surface of a magnetic tape in a tape recorder). Otherwise known as an "Impression on the Location" or the "Stone Tape Theory," the replaying of the impression is triggered when any varieties of conditions are met, (daily, weekly, yearly, every time it rains, anniversaries, full-moon, etc.). At times, witnesses have described these types of haunts as including anything from vehicles, buildings, machinery, etc. There are a few things we look for before we will classify a haunting as residual: the ghost is not interactive, and seems oblivious to our presence at the site, and he or she will not attempt to communicate with us.
Poltergeist: Poltergeist is a German word that combines the verb "Poltern" which means to make noise, rumble or knock, and the word "Geist" which indicates a Ghost or Spirit. Therefore, a Poltergeist is a noisy Ghost, rumbling Spirit, or any of the like. In the Paranormal world, we refer to a Poltergeist as a spirit or ghost that is able to interact with our physical world by moving objects, making noises, throwing things, etc. So, in order for us to give a ghost the title of "Poltergeist" during a haunting investigation, we would expect the ghost to be noisy and potentially disruptive.
Most paranormal phenomena is classified using one of those 3 types of ghosts and haunts, however, there are other possibilities to consider.
Time Slip: The "time slip" is very much like the residual haunting in that the ghost does not interact with us. However, the theory suggests that the person isn't seeing a "recording" per se, but instead they are actually looking through a "window in time", and seeing the event as it is unfolding in the past. I can't disprove the "time slip", but I can't say that I have ever seen any evidence to support it either. Therefore, I will remain highly skeptical of this theory.
Hallucination: Drugs, alcohol, extreme fatigue and physical or mental illness can all cause hallucinations in people. When a person experiences a hallucination, he or she becomes fully engulfed in the images, odors and/or sounds as though they were truly happening. This is why we as researchers of the paranormal should always question people about their mental and physical well-being, as well as any use of drugs and/or alcohol prior to performing any paranormal investigation.
Imagination: Some people, (especially ghost hunters at times) want to experience a haunting so intensely that they interpret every unusual sound, smell or visual anomaly they come across as being supernatural. Unlike hallucinations, the person doesn't actually see, smell or hear anything paranormal; they simply jump to false conclusions and quite often do not even attempt to debunk the experience.
Colliding Dimensions: This is way over my head, and the heads of almost everyone I know in the field of paranormal research, but it is at least worthy of brief mention. Basically, the colliding dimensions theory suggests that ghosts are entities from another dimension that has collided with our own. The idea is that our dimension is surrounded by other dimensions. Occasionally, a ripple in the universe causes two dimensions to collide with each other and for that brief period, we are able to see people, "on the other side".
Thought Projection: The thought projection theory suggests that some apparitions could be the result of another being, living or dead, actually projecting their thoughts psychically into the minds of others. The result is very much like a hallucination; however, several people bear witness to it at the same time. Personally, I have no evidence, nor have I ever seen any credible evidence to substantiate such a notion.
Astral Projection: Also know as an out-of-body experience, many people believe that they are capable, either deliberately or spontaneously, to astral project themselves out of their own body. I am one of them; having experienced what I believe were out-of-body events twice as a young boy. I think about stories of people seeing their loved one at home, only to find out later the person they saw was still overseas fighting in a war. The question I ask is; did that person actually see the astral body of the man, or was it simply a matter of an over active imagination or hallucination? I think any of the three are possible, but without the ability to test this extremely rare occurrence, we may never really know.
Angelic or Demonic: It is easy to get wrapped up in the religious arguments that are sure to arise when people discuss angels and demons. In its simplest form, most people associate a good spirit as angelic, where-as the demonic spirit represents evil. The Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran, all refer to Angels as being the messengers of God. Catholic theology refers to demons as being like the devil, and often refers to them as fallen-angels or evil spirits.
Having discussed all these types of ghosts and haunts, we haven't even begun to cover things like shadow people, Doppelganger, and the like. The list goes on and on, and no matter how much time I dedicate to this article, there will always be those people who insist that I missed out on the opportunity to discuss some very important types of ghosts and/or haunts. Frankly, I just don't see the point in spending any more time giving credence to that with which we cannot offer any evidence for.
I guess my point is this; a lot of the paranormal investigations we undergo result in us finding perfectly natural explanations for the phenomenon our clients were experiencing. There are times, however, where there is no logical explanation for the phenomena that is occurring and we end up with no option except to consider the location haunted. Once we show that, then we can look to see if the evidence we collected supports that a ghost was attempting to interact with us. If so, then we will describe it as being an intelligent haunting by the disembodied soul of a deceased person. If there is no clear interaction noted, then we will consider it residual, and finally, if we experience kinetic activity at the site along with unexplained noises, then we will consider it the result of a poltergeist type haunting.
For now, that is about the best we can do. No matter how much time we devote to the field of parapsychology and paranormal research, we must understand that we do not have the technology, gadgets or wisdom we need to help us decipher why a spirit is haunting any particular place. To suggest otherwise would be ridiculous. Perhaps, the day will come when we do, but until that time, the best we can hope for is to do our research, conduct our investigations, review our evidence and use our knowledge and common sense to give you our best "opinions" on the subject.
Nothing more.... Nothing less.
Tim Doyon, Contributing Author
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