Simply put, ghosts are disembodied spirits that reside in the ethereal world, but I'm sure you didn't come to read something you could have as easily found in a dictionary or encyclopedia. Actually, not all ghosts are disembodied; most have never been embodied in the first place. In fact, there are all sorts of ghosts, aka spiritual beings in the universe; some of which have never even ventured near our corner of our corporeal universe.
In earthly lore; western civilizations typically think of a haunting, possession (evil spirits), divine intervention (angels), God (Holy Spirit), and/or Casper (the friendly ghost) when it comes to ethereal forms of existence. Of course Casper probably wouldn't be considered a true apparition in context to the others, but nonetheless, he has given a lot of us our first initial exposure to this paranormal phenomenon, albeit in a comical sense.
Types of Ghosts
The variety of ghosts is a long laundry list; however, the following is a condensed version of the most common types you might encounter.
1. Human Spirit – our personal identity that resides within us (our soul) that passes over after death and either remains earthbound (ghostly apparition) or ascends to the company of others in heaven (spirit).
As spirits or ghosts, we can either appear in our natural form as brightly colored balls of light with two dark orbs (eyes), or take on our more familiar earthly appearance. Of course, our spirit can project any form it pleases but these two are the most common.
a. Spirit Guides – experienced souls that after passing over have return to offer assistance to the living. Their presence is very passive in nature, staying in the background while offering subtle insights and advice like a soft whisper or gentle touch.
b. Wraiths – another name for ghosts or earthbound spirits.
c. Poltergeists – literally means “Noisy Spirit”. These are extremely unhappy ghosts that cause the movement of objects, sudden unexplained noises, and general havoc.
2. Angels – in the strictest sense, angels are spiritual beings that have never lived in corporeal form. They are likened to being the breath of creation or God, each existing with their own purpose. Angels are akin to the embodiment of pure light lacking any taint of adversity; the purest form of God's creation.
To say that angels are servants of God is a bit of a misnomer as servitude of slave and master does not exist, rather angels are more closely related to the embodiment of the creator. The fact is that the notion of lesser or greater than is more unique to human concepts of measurement than it is to heavenly reality.
3. Evil Spirits – without the dark there can be no light; darkness is the contrast upon which enlightenment casts its glow and is the shadow that defines our illumination.
a. Demons – the dark side or shadow element of angels, these are malevolent spirits that can inflict extreme injury both mentally and physically. Never attempt to deal with a demon unless you've been specifically trained to do so.
Like angels, demons share all the possibilities and purpose angels possess only as polar opposites. For instance, the Archangel Michael is likened unto God; therefore, Lucifer (angel of light) is Michael's polar opposite. While Michael lives in harmony and guards the throne of God, Lucifer lives in chaos seeking to destroy it.
b. Shadow People – dark entities that appear as shadows. Although they aren't generally physically malevolent they can wreak havoc in the immediate environment. The reason they are called shadow people is due to the fact that they appear as black or dark gray energy void of light while projecting a human shape. Shadow people are not demons but are more akin to trickster type energy.
Why do Ghosts Haunt the Living?
Ghosts can refuse to move on for any variety of reasons; the most common of these is an overly obsessive attachment to this world and seeing it as their only point of refuge. Also common to these earth-bound spirits is an unusually intense anger with unresolved issues that have left them bitter.
For the ghost, the world they experienced as a human has never ceased to exist for them; they inhabit a realm of never-ending grief and flux punctuated with occasional visits of unwelcome intruders. To them, we are the enigma and they are acting in accordance with reality. When they haunt they are literally stuck on a stage replaying the world they lived in long ago and their reactions to intruders is much like ours would be to a burglar or thief.
On the other hand, some ghosts can be quite passive and benign. These ghosts have usually passed over unexpectedly and reside in a world of confusion and uncertainty. Occasionally they may do subtle things like making little noises or any number of other playful acts to get attention. For them the world is strange and their antics are just a way of saying, “I'm here, what's going on with me?” or “I'm here, let's play.”
Getting Rid of an Unwanted Ghost
A few years ago I was in a dark room developing some film when I felt an eerie presence of confusion and anger. When I asked the spirit why it was there I received images that indicated that he had unexpectedly died during a medical procedure which left him angry and stuck to the area of his unexpected demise.
After I understood the circumstances I assured the spirit that everything was alright and encouraged him to enter into the light he would be seeing soon. Shortly after that I felt a peaceful presence; an assurance that everything was at peace. Later that week, I returned to the dark room and found it void of any of the weird feeling I had sensed before; the unsettling spirit was now nowhere to be found.
The best way to rid yourself of an unwanted ghost can be as simple as I mentioned above or you may want to seek the professional advice and assistance of a trained paranormal investigator or psychic medium. More often than not a trained investigator or psychic will be more adept at connecting with and guiding that spirit to the light without much ado. In some cases, handling it yourself and not knowing what you're dealing with can have disastrous consequences.
People who communicate with ghosts are commonly called spiritualists or mediums while those that investigate the places they haunt are referred to as ghost hunters. Although I can appreciate the natural curiosity of the modern “ghost hunters”, the fact that they are apt to taunt and provoke them in order to get them to make their presence known is a little unsettling. These spirits live in a world that mocks them already; a realm of disharmony and isolation.
If you plan on becoming a ghost hunter, do so at the very least with a great deal of caution and always with utmost respect. For the inexperienced, the spirit world can be very confusing to say the least. Although it can be personally rewarding to substantiate their existence, in some cases you can wind up way over your head before you know it. Always seek out the advice of trained specialists who know what they're doing and while watching a TV show can be entertaining it is no substitute for the real thing.
Ghosts come in a wide array of shapes and sizes as-well-as a sundry of flavors, just like their human counterparts. Although, most of what you may meet from the spiritual realm may be benign in nature, it is best to err on the side of caution before attempting to taunt these supernatural beings.
There are all sorts of rituals available that anyone can use to contact, banish, or investigate a ghostly presence. It is important to remember that a ritual is only a guide in establishing the right intentions to perform a task successfully; if you attempt a ritual on your own or without appropriate assistance, you might just wind up with something you never intended to.
Finally, if your intention is to taunt a ghostly presence into making themselves known, don't. Rather, learn to communicate with them as you would a dear friend; with respect and care. The energies of your intentions are easily picked up in the spirit realm, so much so that you might say, “They can see right through you.”