So let get started by asking the simplest question. What is a ghost? All of a sudden that question doesn't seem so simple anymore. The most common definition is a soul that retains a certain hold on the material world after death. The difference in definition is not that the soul has remained, but why.
There are many definitions of the question why. Most of them are defined by religion, although it must be stated that you do not have to believe in a religion to believe in ghosts. However the belief system of life after death has almost always been in the hands of the church. They are one of the few institutions that can set the "rules" that the general populace will believe. Primarily there are three concepts to the afterlife that would support the theory of a wraith.
The first of these is the based off of Catholicism. Catholics believe that when a person dies, their soul gets put on hold to wait for Judgement Day. In the meantime, that person's quintessence waits in limbo for that day to arrive, actually Catholics call it Purgatory. Needless to say, that would give a person a lot of free time after they have passed on. In this instance the explanation of spirits is not that hard. This definition leaves millions of souls out there that are twiddling their thumbs waiting for Armaggedeon. With that many out there, you know there had to be a few spunky enough to say hi.
Other than Catholics, many Chirstians believe that a person will ascend shortly after their essence has left the body, maybe half a week give or take. This is to think that the soul would be moving on to a better place, whether it is heaven, maybe a gathering of other individuals that are at peace,etc. This leads us up to one of the other common theories on ghosts, the tortured soul. The theory states that there is something that the spirit feels is not finished. Maybe it wants revenge, or to see her child grow up, or that it was never properly buried so now it feels it can't move on. Whatever it is, the shade will feel that it can not go where it needs to go, that it must hold on to it past life. This idea can be a little unsettling to people, especially if the anima in question is a family member.
Going along with the idea of the totured souls, there are occurances of polertgeist. These are spirits that for one reason or another can be extremely malignant toward others, more importantly they are spirits that can actually effect the material world. There have been documented cases of individuals being scratched, pushed, hit, even choked as well as objects being moved or thrown. There are varying degrees of intensity, but for those folks who have experienced a spirit that is not so nice, or even one that is nice but moves items around on occasion, it is something that you don't forget. You can also imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with an entity that is angry but you can not effect. How do you fight or deal with an being that you cannot see or touch, only talk to?
This was originally meant to be a rhetoric question, however in one of the reviews for my site, someone stated, "...on the ghost page, you left out how to fight ghosts. We might need this info." Good point, although I don't know if "fight" really is the correct word in this case. In this kind of scenario we are dealing with something that we cannot effect, and by this I mean physically. How you deal or "fight" with an entity really depends on your belief system that I described up above. If you beleive that the soul is unsettled and for someone reason holds on to this world, if you can find out who it is, you may be able to resolve the issue for the entity in question. There have been several instances of books, TV shows and movies about this concept, where a wrong was made right and the wraith can move on. The biggest piece of the puzzle is to find out who the spirit is so that you can find out what is wrong.
Now if your belief system is more like the Catholics, this makes the issue a little more interesting. In this case, the spirit is not going to go away, it is stuck in limbo and just is not able to move on. By this I mean that it can't go to Heaven just yet. This is not to be confused with that fact that it might be convinced to move to a new location, primarily, out of your home. There are people that do this for a living, believe it or not. The individuals that are the real thing, not the fakes just out to take your money, are a little hard to find. Most people find the discussion of ghosts in their home very unnerving, because of this empaths and mediums are not well received in the community. Many times the people that can help you keep their abilities and talents hidden. Not all do, and they can be found. You can also talk to the spirit yourself, but usually a medium will know if the spirit is receptive to the idea or even if they are paying attention in the first place.
These occurances are rare, but have no doubts, they are for real. There is a movie "The Entity" with Barbara Hershey about a ghost that was raping a woman. It was based off a true story. This is an extreme case not a common occurance, but the more I talk to people I find that sightings seem to be fairly common. Granted, humanity being what it is, not everyone tells the truth about what they have seen. Even so I think what happens more often is that people will keep it quiet, afraid of what others might say. There might be a lot more documented sightings if people were a little more open.
Before I get too far off track, I suppose I should cover the last of the three theories. It is, in a way, very similar to the first one we talked about. This theory is geared around reincarnation. For those of not familiar with the term, it is the concept that when a person dies, the spirit is reused in a new body of another creature that is born, like recycling. Some believe that there is a waiting period between "lives". In this time, the soul is free to do as it pleases until the new body is ready to receive it.
All of this information considered, there still are millions of different ideas on how it all works with anima. No one really knows for certain and dead men don't talk, well, most of time. People do believe in it, and there is a growing surge right now for the supernatural. With shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, X-Files and a barrage of different movies on cable and in the theaters, humanity is becoming more entranced with the idea of there being more than just what we can see. Part of this shows in the gullibilty of people for something that they believe in. In places around the world there are individuals who take others money for conducting seances so that someone can talk to a spouse one last time, or maybe a child, a parent that didn't leave the location of the will, or so that Gloria can once again talk to her recently deceased poodle Mummzy. It looks corny, sounds crazy and in general is hokey as all hell, but people believe it anyway.
I would like to explain a little bit about sightings. There are primarily two differnt kinds. The first you only here about on rare occasions. I call it a reinactment sighting. This is where a major emotional event has occured in a specific area and sightings are seen replaying this scenario. This takes a variety of forms, but many times someone has died, this is why it is such a strong emotional moment. There have been many stories of a battle that has taken place or a murder that they see happening right before there eyes.
This reinactment can be described two different ways. One, it really is a ghost that had an emotional snap. These are like a comatose ghost that is stuck. There aren't conscience, there are repeating the emoitional events over and over like a broken record. Usually in this instance, unless there were mulitple people that died in the event, you will only see one ghost playing out the scenario. This can seem a little odd. There have been several movies that play off this idea and the story unfolds as you start to understand what is going on as the tale plays itself out. Maybe a girl was murdered by her boyfriend and the ghost is replaying the last week of her life for example, but all you see is her.
The other reinactment is the actual imprint of the emotional moment. Some believe that the ethereal realm, where ghost reside, is mallible. Ghost can effect it by force of will and can impose whatever changes they want to it. This is why it has been said that ghosts can appear as whatever they wish. Poltergiest in particular enjoy changing things in the ethereal realm and then forcing those ideas into the corporeal realm. Following that same idea, humans can subconsciously effect the ethereal by having strong emotions. In this theory, ghosts are not required. The people showing up in the inprint could not even be dead yet, but death, or the presence of death, brings out incredibly strong feelings in people. This imprint is like carving a picture in rock. Initially, it will be felt by many people as the imprint is so strong. The Battle of Gettysburg was a very bloody battle and people wrote that they felt very uncomfortable there for a long time, it gave them the "heeby jeebies". Maybe a house that had murder take place in it that no one knew about and it just gives the wife the creeps. The imprint is going to be there for a long time, but eventually it will erode away. Only people who are in touch with their emotions and the emotions of others will pick it up as time goes on. I talked about this briefly up above, they are called empaths.
Well I think we have covered the first type of sightings pretty well, lets move on to the one that everyone knows. This is the conscience ghost that does its own thing. He pops up in rooms now and then, maybe she moves items around, your "standard" ghost. Most peole have heard of this kind of ghost in some form or another. The question I ask you is, why show itself? Why does it want to be seen? A popular believe is, they just want to communicate in some form. There was a story of a ghost in a hotel that liked women. Hank, the spectre in question, was apparently a regular of the hotel in the early 1900's and really liked his women. Reports told of one room that he claimed as "his" and would lock the doors so that the woman in the room at the time could not leave so that he could watch her.
Many people forget that these were live people once. They have lives and feelings. All of that just doesn't go away after you pass on. Can you imagine what it would be like for some people if it was over at this very moment? What would you want to say, to do? Probably a lot. I think because of this, ghosts make a valliant effort to make their presence known. Sometimes they make progress. Shows like "Crossing Over with John Edwards" on the SciFi channel show an empath trying to help people get in touch with lost friends or family. This makes it easier for them I am sure. The rest of the anima out there have to work it out for themselves. Of course no one knows what it is like, but I can imagine that being a ghost is like being a parent. There is a learning process involved that can only accomplished by experiencing it. For this reason, some learn to appear and others don't. As in the material world, it takes a certain amount of willpower and self confidence to truly be seen by anyone.
This is the day and age of technology as well. Pictures, sounds and other evidence of ghosts are being seen all the time. High quality digital cameras are common now, they cut back on the chances of light refraction and other factors that used to be an issue with ghost pictures in the past. At the same time, many people have found new ways to make images and sounds that look real, but are not. For instance, there are two images on this page right now that are a real pictures of spectres, the others have been made. Can you guess which ones they are? I will give you a hint, it is not the skull :). If you guessed the last two on the bottom, you were right.
For those of you that are interested looking at other pictures, be warned, real ones are hard to find. Many times the real pictures will show what looks like a funnel cloud or a bright light in the picture that could not have been seen while the picture was taken. There have been incidents of forms being seen in fires and fog as well. Another common symbol that many believe to be the image of a spirit is what looks like a circle or bubble. Many experts do not give credit to this, saying that it is the film or light refraction. Pictures of apparitions, like the one above are few and far between and must be considered carefully as the woman in the front of the bushes does look very real, but was done with long exposure techniques. I do have a good site that you can look at with many pics. It is one of the better sites that I have found on the web, click Here to check it out. I am always on the hunt for new pics. Soon a hope to have more of a gallery for all of you to look at. Also, if you are looking for stories as well as pics, try This Site
The supernatural is a popular idea and there are some people that liked the concept so much that they created a role-playing system for it. If you are not familiar with gaming, please click Here. Given that you have read the description or that you know what gaming is, the system created by White Wolf is called Wraith. This is a good representation of what it could possibly be like. Their systems revolves around that fact that it is very hard to effect the material world, that a spectre would have to expended quite a bit of effort and that it would not last very long. As you can imagine, the possiblities of who or what you might encounter are staggering, any one in the past could be part of an adventure. This makes for a great number of permutations and endless ideas for adventures to impart upon.
I know that the ghost topic in general is a controversal subject, please feel free to put your
thoughts in my guestbook or send me an email to let me know your opinions or what I could add to the site.
I more than welcome the perspectives of other people.