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Typology of ghosts

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Despite the proposals of the British researcher Hilary Evens, there is no universally accepted classification of ghostly apparitions. However, one can distinguish the major categories. In the Valley classification system, poltergeists are “anomalies of physical effects” of type AN-II, while the ghosts are “entities” under the AN-III type.


Poltergeist(Representation of the manifestation of a poltergeist in 1911.)

Poltergeists, or striker spirits, are often called “ghost”, though they are a special category. “Traditionally gathers all these events within the generic term of small obsession which differs from the great obsession in that it excludes the apparitions, ghosts”.

This is basically inexplicable movements of objects, stone throwing, noise due to no apparent physical cause, disruption of electrical equipment, lights, fire outbreaks, etc. The appearances of blurred forms are very rare, and the possible reference to one or more dead. These phenomena are most often associated with the presence of one or a disrupted teenager.


Claude Lecouteux distinguishes the “real” ghosts, dead who deliberately decided to return for various reasons, as opposed to the “false” ghosts consist of the dead whose presence seems to persist for some time after death, as if they could not to disappear permanently or taken from the beyond to defend their burial or answer a call of necromancy.

Real revenants

For Xavier Ivanoff, “the revenant is a dead man appearing wearing his body envelope. It is rarely anonymous. It is a death that is known in the village and who “returns” in the flesh to appear before the living, often where he lived. Physically, he has the same body that a living. It is sometimes mistaken for it and its supposed pallor is a misconception.” It can be a priori classified in this category the self hitchhiker ghosts, however if they are not just legends, which seem real enough to be taken in stop by the abused motorists.

Painting by Wojciech Gerson(The ghost of Barbara Radziwiłł meet the invocation of Pan Twardowski. Painting by Wojciech Gerson.)

Fake revenants

According to several legends of the Middle Ages, sometimes the recent deaths occur and seem to refuse to be led to the grave. According to a widespread tradition, the dead “live” their graves and it is inappropriate to disturb them there. Sometimes the deceased manifests itself dissatisfaction and threatens the intruder to get him to join.

Another category is the dead who are forced to return among the living because of necromantic operations. In his novel Metamorphoses written in the second century, Apuleius tells the story of an Egyptian prophet who brought back a corpse to life: “There is here an Egyptian named Zatchlas, prophet of the first order. For a long time he engaged with me at the price of a considerable sum, to temporarily raise a soul from the underworld, and make it a new life to the body she had left.” ”A slight lifting manifests towards the chest of the deceased, his pulse begins to beat, his lungs to play; the body puts on his bed; the young man’s voice is heard: I had already drunk the waters of Lethe, he said, and almost crossed the marshes of the Styx. Why re-employ me in the sad duty of this ephemeral life? Stop, stop, please, and let me to rest. Thus spoke the corpse.”

According to an old Polish legend of the sixteenth century, a sorcerer named Pan Twardowski who, like Faust, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for supernatural powers,  would have realized the appearance of the late Queen of Poland Barbara Radziwiłł at the request of his husband, King Sigismund II.

Mediums and ectoplasm

Spiritualism is considered the contemporary form of invocation of the spirit of the dead and, as such, the heir to a tradition of necromancy that dates back to antiquity. Communications are via a medium in a trance, using various media such as turntables, the Ouija board, automatic writing, etc.

The highest form is the materialization of a substance called ectoplasm of undetermined kind (or perispirit to Allan Kardec), which can take various forms, supposed to represent the manifestation of a deceased. Although told by many reliable witnesses, the existence of ectoplasm has never been scientifically demonstrated. Clearly, apparitions of supposedly ectoplasmic ghosts often consist of gauze pieces or thin tissue surrounding photographs or drawings. Many mediums were detected in an obvious fraud. The medium Florence Cook managed the feat of cause, for special effects, the manifestation of an extremely realistic ectoplasm (you could touch and even take her pulse!) Called “Katie King,” which was none other than Florence Cook herself disguised.

Ectoplasm are fundamentally different from ghosts, insofar exclusively issued by the body of the medium, they have no autonomy, and go right out of trance.


Ghosts are apparitions, a generally human form (very rarely animal), whole or partial, or light phenomena such as colored balls, lights, etc. They are most often unclear and diffuse. These phenomena are sometimes seen by several people simultaneously, but in some cases, with differences in the observed details.

Sometimes these events are repeated in the same locations, without being able to determine the character of which it could be, nor the reason for its location in a specific place. Parapsychologists then use the term “localized recurrent appearance.”

In many cases, witnesses say they have not been frightened by the appearance, but worried by the sense that it could possibly have for themselves or their relatives, as the announcement of a death. This is the role traditionally held by some banshees. For Erasmus: “One of the most known facts remain the appearance of the banshee to princely families.”


Banshees(Appearance of a banshee at the bedside of a dying man)

Among the different kinds of banshees, some undoubtedly fall into the category of ghosts. Those are :

  • the banshees herald usually fatal or, more rarely, happy events;
  • laundresses of the night, often considered revenantes sentenced to atone for their past sins;
  • the hitchhikers ghosts, who are usually the spectra of young women died of accident.

Apparitions of crisis

In some particularly dramatic circumstances, such as accidents or the agony of a person, sometimes her ghost appears instantly to loved ones. In a study published in England in 1886 and covering 17,000 people, researchers posed the hypothesis that it was a telepathic message sent unintentionally by the victim, and received by the recipient in the form of a hallucination.

In a letter to Camille Flammarion in 1896, the young composer André Bloch recounts that, while he and his mother were staying in Rome, she saw appearing at her side his young nephew Rene Kraemer, aged 14, who watched her laughing while saying, “yes, I am dead.” Back in Paris two weeks later, they had confirmation of the news of his death had occurred at the precise moment of vision.

Phantasms of the living

This is the original title (Phantasms of the Living) of a book written in 1886 by Frederic Myers and Edmund Gurney, with the participation of Frank Podmore, all three members of the British Society for Psychical Research.

Sometimes, apart from any serious reason, individuals appear to their relatives, or in places that are familiar, while physically being at considerable distances. Such an adventure occurred to Goethe: one day he was walking on a road with a friend, he was surprised to meet another friend named Frederick. He called out, but it disappeared without answering. Back at home, Goethe was surprised to find that Frederick said, dozed, to have dreamed they met on the road.

This duplication phenomenon is known as bilocation when concerns mystics, blessed or saint such Padre Pio. For esoteric, it could be the case of astral projection, astral body being exceptionally perceived by others.

Vision of his own double

Another phenomenon consists in the vision of his own body as a frequent ghostly transparent. This hallucination is known by the German name of Doppelgänger and is regarded as a neurological autoscopic phenomenon. There seems to be an experience such as Guy de Maupassant recounts in his story Him?, presented as a letter to a friend.

Ghost armies

Many legends circulating about alleged armies of ghosts, manifested on the battlefield or places in the historical past:

  • Two months after the Battle of Edgehill (October 1642), various witnesses, including officers of the king, claimed to have seen overnight, on several occasions, armed replay of the battle in the sky;
  • In 1915 developed the legend of the Angels of Mons, that a group of angels would have appeared to the soldiers of the British Army at the end of the Battle of Mons in Belgium. Its origin is a story called The Bowmen, by the great writer Arthur Machen, published in September 1914 in the daily London Evening News, which has become the holder of a rumor peddling that it was real facts;
  • In the 1930s, at Cadbury Hill, fortified hill in Somerset, southern England, and possible residence of a site of one of the Knights of the Round Table, a young couple have attended the parade of troop of armed horsemen with torches lighting up, which suddenly disappeared;
  • On the night of January 2, 1950, a conductive was an accident on the banks of a Scottish loch. In concluding his journey on foot, she saw men dressed in tunics and tights, circling in the glow of torches. A subsequent investigation of the Society for Psychical Research concludes that she may be assisted in search of the dead Picts after the Battle of Nechtansmere.

Ghosts of animals

In his Memoirs from beyond the grave, Chateaubriand mentions a black cat that haunt the stairway of a castle tower of Combourg, thus called “turn the cat.” In 1876, during the restoration work, was discovered in a wall the dried remains of a cat, probably buried alive in the Middle Ages to ward off bad luck according to the customs of the time.

The Anglo-Saxon folklore is rich in legends about black dog ghosts, almost always malicious. One of them, from Dartmoor, would have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

In one of his works, Jean Prieur tells a dozen stories of the post-mortem manifestation of pets. In one of these, a wild dog named Polka let himself pet and feed by a family, but then off again accommodated in a career at the bottom of a timber. One day, the dog disappeared and we learned that he had been seriously injured by a car following which he was probably part agonize in a thicket. However the three family members continued to hear moaning and scratching at their door without seeing the animal. Intrigued, they went with its usual hiding place and discovered him dead for several days, with her three newborn puppies, one still living.

Ernest Bozzano told us nine cases of animal ghosts, noting:

“We understand that the ghosts of animals rarely have the same evidentiary value as human beings, either because we can more difficult separate from the purely hallucinatory ghosts, either because it is not always easy to exclude that percipients were mistaken, taking live animals for animal ghosts.”

For the record, we can also mention the fantastic ghost hunts that combine classic components of hunts: riders, horses and dog teams.

Means of transport

There are many stories recounting haunting phenomena, real or legendary, occurred on boats, trains, planes and even submarines. But it also happens sometimes that it is the vehicles themselves that behave like ghosts.

Ghost ships

A cursed ghost ship is a ship which, according to legend, was condemned to wander the oceans, driven by a crew of skeletons and ghosts. The most famous ghost ships is the Flying Dutchman, formerly sometimes called the Dutch outfielder, also known as the German names Der Fliegende Hollander, the latter being the original title of the first of ten major operas of Richard Wagner.

There are others, such as Canada Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs or Caleuche, ghost ship belonging to the folklore of the archipelago of Chiloé Island in Chile, or the Princess Augusta near the American island of Block Island near New York in the United States.

It is also known in many traditions, including Celtic, concerning populated boats departed.

Ghost trains

Funeral train of Abraham Lincoln(Funeral train of Abraham Lincoln.)

The ghost trains are not only funfair attractions. Several legends relate the presence of “authentic” spectral trains.

Following the great popular emotion aroused by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, his remains were transported to his grave, located in Illinois, aboard a special train draped in black who made a very long detour to a large number of people massed on its way, to pay their last respects. Since then, legend says that one can sometimes see it, especially at night; it does not stop at the stations it passes through, but the clocks halt to his coming. A description was published in the Albany Time newspaper: “it goes without a sound. If there is a moonlight, clouds cover the moon just as the ghost train follows the road. After the passage of the locomotive, the train travels the funeral itself, with flags and banners. The track seems to be covered with black carpet and the coffin is visible in the center of the car, while all around it, in the air and on the train behind, there are a large number of men in blue, some with coffins on their backs, others are pressing it.”

On the night of December 28, 1879, occurred the train accident on the bridge over the Tay. During a terrible storm, the night train from Edinburgh to Dundee derailed while passing over the very long bridge over the River Tay in Scotland, causing the fall of 13 spans. There were no survivors among the 75 passengers. Shortly after the tragedy, it was claimed that many ghosts haunting the area. The bridge was rebuilt in 1887 and rail traffic was restored but a December 28 a few years later, the passage was observed at high speed of an unscheduled train that vanished once arrived in the middle of the bridge.

Ghost planes

On the sites where happened plane crashes, victims of air disasters would sometimes flown by ghosts devices. After the end of World War II, a spitfire who was shot down during the war, was often seen above Biggin Hill airfield near London, former base of the Royal Air Force. By stormy nights, a phantom plane flying over the town of Weybridge in Surrey, England, where he was shot down during a storm in 1965.

Ghost bus

In the 1930s in London, one of the famous red double-decker bus, wearing the number 7, has caused many clashes and at least one fatal accident. Early in the morning he was bearing down on motorists at the intersection of Saint Mark’s Road and Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove tube station, before disappearing mysteriously. The phenomenon disappeared quickly after authorities had corrected the intersection of route

Translated from Wikipedia

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