Because Not All Hauntings are Alike
Ghosts are universal. Every single culture and ethnic group on the planet has encountered them and tell stories about them. From our prehistoric ancestors to our modern times, they all believe and swear they have encountered one. Which makes me believe ghosts exist.
Not that I ever want to encounter or see one. I can live without them.
Still, who does not like a ghost story? Who does not enjoy reading about hauntings? Horror stories of disembodied souls seeking revenge or making amends to loved ones.
We can all relate to ghosts stories because we are all afraid of death and dying.
Nonetheless, ghost stories offer us at least hope there is an afterlife. Not that we want to spend eternity as a spirit haunting a grave or home. That seems boring. And sad.
Ghost stories can be literary; Dickens, Shakespeare, O. Henry, Washington Irving, and Edith Wharton, among many others, wrote stories featuring ghosts. And they were taken seriously.
Today we will take a look at the different types of ghosts we can encounter. Eight in total. I found more in my research but I dismissed them since they are too specific (Lemur ghosts only work if you are writing about ancient Rome); not true ghosts (artificial ghosts, funnel ghosts); or inanimate manifestations (ghosts of objects). Also, spirits and demons are their own category, in my opinion.
Whether you are a writer trying to write the next great American horror novel, a fan of the genre or curious about the paranormal, here are eight types of ghosts you may encounter (but hopefully won’t).
Eight Types of Ghosts
A ghost by definition is the soul of a dead person. It does not have a body. Is the remnant of something that used to be alive. And yet, not all ghosts are the same even if they are haunting the same house.
Somewhere between legend and folklore are these eight types of manifestations:
Orbs – These are the ghosts you see in camera pictures. Those floating spheres of light. Ghosts hunters call them spirit energies. They may or may not retain the personality of a person while they were alive. Mostly harmless. Still eerie. These are like low-level ghosts on the fear scale.
Shadow person/ghost – have you ever feel or see something or someone from the corner of your eye. A dark humanoid figure in the wall that somehow moved. You seen a shadow person. Are they manifestations from the underworld? Interdimensional beings? Or a ghost who is not fully formed yet? While most ghosts are translucent, these are intensely dark. Unnerving.
Phantasm – translucent like a hologram, the stereotypical see-through ghost we are familiar with. Some believe they are electrically charged and can affect electrical currents. You can see them but not touch them. These ghosts seek human contact for different reasons. They also show different personalities.
Specters – A ghost who cannot move on to the afterlife can become a specter. They say specters can be the most dangerous types of ghosts because they are full of negative energy and have lost their humanity. While a phantasm or apparition may not realize they are dead and hopes to find the light to the afterworld, the specter thrives in chaos and does not wish to move on. Only punish and terrify. Sometimes possess people.
Wraiths – are spirits enslaved by black magic. Sometimes used by witches and wizards to attack other persons. A wraith is like a zombie, except incorporeal. All they can do is obey their master’s wishes. Wraiths should be pitied.
Apparitions – the ghosts of a dead relative is an apparition. In Puerto Rico, people say “el muerto avisa” (the corpse warns). This means people can tell if a dear person passed away if they see their apparition. They are harmless; they only want to say goodbye or relay a message.
Spirits – the word spirit comes from the Latin word for breath. Spirits are residues of our live energies. Whereas the phantasm is tied to a specific location, the spirit does not have such restrictions; they can travel everywhere. Some spirits may be supernatural entities (fairies, angels, demons).
Poltergeist – These ghosts are called “espíritus chocarreros” in Spanish. They are mischievous and annoying. They move stuff and make stuff disappear only to reappear somewhere else. Also very loud, they love noise. Poltergeists are like naughty children–not quite evil but still, bad. For some reason, they are attracted to women more than men and it is believed emotional stress can increase the activity. They tend to go away after a while.
Also, not only humans can be ghosts. There are lots of stories told about ghosts of animals, particularly beloved pets. Kind of comforting to know our pets will be with us in the afterlife.
Paranormal researches often talk about ghost personalities. Some ghosts are described as interactive personalities. What they mean is ghosts show specific characteristics. Rather than limiting themselves to be a shadow or an illusion, they show human-like behavior.
A few of these personalities are:
They believe they are still alive. These ghosts do not realize they are dead.
They are distressed. There is some kind of unfinished business in their lives and they cannot move on until they make amends.
They are vengeful. These ghosts cannot move on until they have their revenge for their untimely death.
They feel unfulfilled love. Hey, do not act like you never read paranormal romance novels.
They want to be helpful. These ghosts went to the grave knowing an important secret and would not move on until the truth is known.
Finally, remember, not all ghost stories have to be horror stories. Fantasy and other genres can and often feature ghosts.
In conclusion, we can see there are as many types of ghosts and personalities to choose from when writing or investigating the paranormal. Myself? I am too scared to ever want to see a ghost. If I ever see a ghost, I hope is Gengar and I have a pokéball handy.
Reader, Have you ever seen a ghost? What is your favorite type of ghosts? Which other kinds of ghost would you add?