Man has had an innate interest in the afterlife since the dawning of time. Exploring the unknown is a passion for many paranormal researchers who continue their quest into the supernatural realm. Picture yourself standing on a mile long sandy beach. Then, pick up a small handful of sand. You see, this tiny handful constitutes what we know about the vast field of the supernatural. The remainder on the ground remains elusive; perhaps, those living in the mortal realm will figure out the rest of the puzzle once they transition into spirit.
For years, we have developed various theories attempting to explain the paranormal. As we know, our research only knows the color grey, as white and black don’t quite fit into its paradigm. Today, and in the past, we’ve tested these theories, having figured out that some of them seem to strongly fit within the paranormal field template. Others may not. However, as time goes on, new hypotheses are being developed and tested with the ultimate goal of understanding what constitutes life after death.
There are many classifications of ghosts, spirits and hauntings. Some of them are more prolific, occurring more often than others. However, these categories help to explain both the physical attributes and behaviors of certain spiritual energy types. It is important to remember that not all paranormal activity constitutes a haunting. Some energies are transient in nature, briefly passing through a location prior to moving onto the next. In order for a haunting to take place, a spiritual being has to have some sort of connection to the location. After reading this article, you will be more knowledgeable at comparing and contrasting the various types of ethereal beings.
Ghost versus Spirit: It is very easy to use these terms interchangeably. However, they are both similar and different. They can both manifest themselves and interact with the living. They both occur in various places that have seen happiness and sadness. Let’s start with ghosts, first. Another term for a ghost is an earthbound entity that essentially remains stuck in the mortal realm due to unfinished business, a connection to a location or object or for some other reason. Ghosts have not moved into the “light.” Sadly, some of them don’t even know that they’ve passed on. Sometimes, they continuously repeat their final moments before death. It is possible to help these beings move on into spirit; however, it usually takes time to do so. Then again, some earthbound energies choose to remain in the mortal realm for whatever reason. Spirits, on the other hand, are energies that have been able to find the “light.” Spirits have been able to find peace and are no longer stuck in the mortal plane. With this said, they have free will to travel to and from our world, usually to help out a friend or loved one. As you can imagine, spirits are more highly evolved than ghosts.
Residual versus Intelligent Hauntings: A residual haunt is similar to a psychic imprint. Residual ghosts and spirits do not interact with the living as these types are basically memory imprints onto the environment. They usually occur at specific time intervals or on important historical dates and anniversaries. Places that have experienced a lot of death, emotion, tragedy and/or triumph, typically have these types of remaining energy. Think battlefields, hotels, theaters, sanatoriums, hotels, schools, universities, etc. For example, a phantom cannon blasting off at Gettysburg represents residual activity. On the other hand, intelligent energies do interact with the living. Evidence suggests that these ghosts and spirits utilize their senses when communicating with the living. Their occurrences are random and/or dependent on who is interrelating with them. Intelligent hauntings do occur at the same types of places that residual ones do. Live two-way spirit communication via ITC devices, especially when answering specific questions, comprises intellectual activity.
Shadow Figures versus The Classic Shadow Person: It is very easy to confuse these two types of spiritual energy. We know that ghosts and spirits have different stages of physical manifestation. Witnessing an apparition with no legs or arms may be an example of a partial appearance. Furthermore, your sightings of wispy shadows or shaded human forms also fall under the umbrella of an unfinished manifestation. Thus, you can derive that grey and/or black shadow figure sightings comprise these particular ghostly displays. They can be either residual and/or intelligent and move very fast. Usually, they are spotted peripherally. An example of these types frequently occurs on the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, specifically in her former first- and third-class pool area.
The classic shadow person is an entirely different story. You see, it is theorized that these non-human forms are here to strictly observe the living. Some researchers feel that they are extraterrestrials or Men in Black (MIB) sent through a wormhole to study human nature. Additionally, many investigators feel that they are menacing in nature. In fact, some people believe that they belong in the Djinn category where Western culture believes they are demonic beings. In regards to their physical attributes, they appear as either very short or tall, typically adorned in a long jacket or cape with a wide-brimmed hat. As with the previously discussed type, their movement is rather fast and we usually spot them peeking around a corner with peripheral vision. Furthermore, these beings are often described as being “darker than dark.” Also, witnesses have described feeling the sense of pending doom or extreme anxiety either before during or after their sighting of a classic shadow person.
Doppelganger: A doppelganger is basically a spirit double. Witnesses who have experienced this phenomenon have reported seeing exact physical doubles of their person, even down to the same type of clothing they are wearing. Recently, I interviewed one of the security crew aboard the RMS Queen Mary and he shared how he saw a man identical to him walk out of one of the restrooms. One circulating theory regarding this type of ghost is that they are a harbinger of death. Some researchers, including myself, feel that these types have to do with parallel universes and/or dimensional time shifts. One intriguing historical account has to do with Queen Elizabeth I. You see, she actually saw her spirit double laid out on her bed. Shortly thereafter, she passed away on that same bed!
Crisis Apparition: Crisis apparitions appear usually just before or just after someone’s death. This phenomenon can also relate to a doppelganger, where some people actually see their spirit double around the time of their demise. These sightings can either be disturbing to the observer or provide them comfort. There seems to be a telepathic link between the crisis apparition and its observer. Additionally, these types of energies may actually appear as they looked the moment they passed away. I have talked with a few people who have witnessed seeing their loved one’s spirit just before their death. Note that the observer and his or her loved one typically do not live in the same house or even the same city when this happening occurs. You have probably heard the story of someone seeing their grandmother’s spirit and receive a phone call about her death just minutes after.
Lower Level Entity versus Malevolent Entities: Although there are similarities between these two types of phenomena, there is a significant difference. Lower level entities are the energies of once living people who were “not so nice” in life. Thus, they continue on with the same personality in death. Typically, murderers, pedophiles, psychotic individuals and those who lived a very unhappy life fall into this category. However, malevolent energies are theorized as being non-human entities (demons, Djinn, some elementals) that can possibly cause harm to humans. Personally, I always feel that light cancels out dark and that you have to give these types of energies power to inflict harm. Extremely vulnerable people may be more afflicted by these types of energies. Malevolent energy is extremely rare. Additionally, some researchers, including myself, feel that some of these very negative types correlate to tulpas or human thought projections actually coming to life. For example, is it possible that peoples’ ill feelings toward others manifest themselves in the form of a malevolent entity? I think so.
Animal Ghosts: There have been many sightings of animal ghosts. Typically, this is most common with horses, dogs and cats. Many people, including myself, have had experiences with seeing their beloved animal’s spirit or perhaps, its favorite toy(s) moving of their own volition. A lingering question remains: Can all animals appear to us in spirit form? Plausibly, yes. However, it is believed that the higher the animal’s intelligence, the greater chance for it to materialize in ghost form. They can appear fully manifested or come through as wispy grey tones. The Whaley House in San Diego, California, is home to a ghost dog named Dolly. Dolly was owned by the Whaley family. Today, visitors to the home report seeing a phantom dog running around or experience being licked on the leg by an invisible force. Furthermore, people also report hearing Dolly’s voice inside the house or in the backyard. The San Diego Paranormal Research Society (SDPRS) conducts monthly tours at the Rancho Buena Vista Adobe in Vista, California. The team has experienced hearing the invisible specter of a horse as well as smelling hay throughout the property.
Tulpas and Thought Projections: Human energy is very powerful and when combined it can create a formidable force of energy. Tulpas can be described as peoples’ thought forms actually generating a life of their own. There seems to be a link between psychokinetic energy and thought projections. There are even cases where researchers’ clients strongly believe that a ghost or spirit exists when in fact, it really doesn’t. After a while, the PK energy is so strong that their beliefs actually develop. As previously mentioned, could tulpas actually be the cause of many negative and/or malevolent types of hauntings?
Extraterrestrials and Ultra-terrestrials: In my opinion, people have to be extremely egocentric to think that humans are the only life forms in the universe. There are existing galaxies that haven’t even been identified yet. Extraterrestrials (ETs) are living beings not originating from earth. One prolific theory postulates that many paranormal encounters may in fact be other distant life forms attempting to communicate with humans on earth. Ultra-terrestrials are not as understood. They are believed to be higher evolved beings that possibly live among human life and other life forms. They can be linked in with some elementals, fairies, gnomes, sprites, etc., and live in dimensions that we don’t yet understand. Is it possible that they travel through wormholes, possibly explaining why they suddenly appear and disappear? Is UFO activity the product of extraterrestrial, ultra-terrestrial visitations or both? Is it possible that some of these beings take on human form when manifesting to us? Are they here to observe or interact with the living, or both? Indeed, more research needs to be done to better ascertain these types of beings.
Portal Hauntings: A portal can be described as a bridge from our world to the next, where energy in the afterlife can travel to the mortal realm. It is thought that ghosts and spirits may travel through them, but who is to say that extraterrestrials, ultra-terrestrials and/or other beings cannot come through? There may be life forces that we don’t yet know about that come via portals. Many places with these alleged bridges experience consistent amounts of anomalous energy. The idea of having doorways, which lead to another world have been conjectured for thousands of years. I wonder if there is a possibility for a portal to gain energy that parallels the expansion of paranormal knowledge and research. Are portals also influenced by psychokinesis? The RMS Queen Mary is thought to have this passageway inside its former first- and third-class pool room. However, I feel that the entire ship is a doorway to the afterlife. There may also be a link between Ley Lines and portals as they seem to connect to consecrated areas. Obviously more research needs to be conducted to see if places along these geometric alignments also contain these bridges to the afterlife. Could it be that the alignments, themselves, are the portals? Indeed, more research needs to be done as this type of haunting is very controversial.
Poltergeist: Defined as a “noisy ghost,” poltergeist energy may not even be ghosts at all. There is a strong link between telekinesis, psychokinesis and poltergeist activity. You see, it is thought that the emotional whirlwinds and extreme stress of people, typically those of a pre-pubescent or pubescent teenager, are powerful enough to move various objects, big or small. Signs of this type of phenomena are varied and include random noises (bangs, rapping, scratching, tapping, thumping, etc), apports (the ability of an object to manifest out of nowhere), objects appearing or reappearing, electrical and/or plumbing problems, erratic emotional states, all the way to possession. As the human agent’s emotive states increase and strengthen, so does the activity. It is almost as if a person’s anxiety, stress and emotions manifest into life form.
Sleep Paralysis: It is theorized that people living in or visiting places with supernatural forces may be more prone to sleep paralysis. Those who are prone to this disorder usually have underlying stress, disruptive REM sleep cycles, sleep deprivation, under the influence of illegal and/or pharmaceuticals, and fatigue. In this state, people are usually hynagogic (just falling asleep) or awakening (hypnopompia) and cannot move any part of their body. The senses of fear, anxiety and impending doom are common in this sleep disorder. It is usually accompanied by hallucinations and/or terrifying sightings of figures looming over their bed. Furthermore, some individuals report incubus or succubus attacks. Are these hallucinations real or are they the product of a person’s emotional states? Interestingly, some scientific researchers believe that alien visits occur during this slumber state. The patho-physiology of sleep paralysis is still quite misunderstood and various speculations exist regarding its etiology.
Angels and Higher Beings: Every culture on earth has its own belief system regarding angels. Although there are different classifications of angels and higher beings, it is thought that they originate from higher dimensions. They are immortal, eternal creatures crafted by the gods. They are important when conducting spiritual work as they are thought to operate with love and light. Additionally, some researchers have theorized that these non-incarnated beings are part responsible for spiritual awakenings that have happened in recent years. Primarily working in the emotional plane, angels are responsible for guiding humans and even elemental energies in certain aspects of their lives. For example, those that work alongside the Archangel Michael specialize in protection and faith. For those who have had encounters with these higher beings, they describe feeling an intense warmth and peace, sometimes visualizing a whiter-than-white presence around them. Then again, some sightings of these entities match those depicted in mainstream society – replete with a bodily form and wings. Some people believe in guardian angels, where one of these positive entities is assigned to a particular person, helping him or her throughout life. Even though most angels are benevolent toward humans and elementals, some are thought to exhibit malevolent behaviors.
Men in Black (MIB): More along the lines of ufology, men in black are supernatural beings claiming to be government agents. Most often, they are seen with slick black hair, adorned in a black suit, wearing dark shaded sunglasses. Like the classic shadow person, MIB are thought to observe and study the living. Some people feel that they, too, have a menacing and intimidating presence. The theory is that they harass UFO witnesses in an attempt to “shut them up.” There are many reports from witnesses claiming that they’ve come into contact with the MIB. Interestingly, the majority of eye witnesses claim to see two or more MIBs present during their sighting. The first report of MIB came from a man by the name of Albert Bender, who formed the International Flying Saucer Bureau. He was apparently visited by three MIB, who told him that he was getting “too close to the truth.” After that visitation, he shut his organization down.
With this, we will start to notice particular patterns in regards to the various types of supernatural energies. It is my hope that each researcher keeps a journal and logs relevant experiences and observations while conducting their investigative projects. We need to share our ideas, philosophies and discoveries as they will help to further assist us in our general understanding of ethereal beings.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better overview understanding of the various types of ghosts, spirits and hauntings. Paranormal research is an ongoing process and within time, we may acquire both personal experience and captured evidence of other life forms that we don’t yet know about. As the galaxies are infinite, it would make sense that other beings are, too. In addition to acquiring knowledge about the supernatural, people have to be willing to share their encounters, theories and methodologies. With this, we will start to notice particular patterns in regards to the various types of supernatural energies. It is my hope that each researcher keeps a journal and logs relevant experiences and observations while conducting his or her investigative projects. We need to share our ideas, philosophies and discoveries as they will help to further assist us in our general understanding of ethereal beings. Only then, will we be able to start further connecting the puzzle pieces. Next time you are standing on a sandy beach, think about what’s remaining to be studied, examined and heard.
Written by Nicole Strickland
Paranormal researcher, author and public speaker
Founder and Director of the San Diego Paranormal Research Society (SDPRS)