Ghosts, entities, earthbound, spirits, poltergeists, phantoms; for every name you can call a ghostly phenomenon there are even more theories about what a ghost truly is. Join me in discussing some of the more popular theories as well as my own take on our spectral friends.
Paranormal activity is a hotbed of theories and discussions revolving around what exactly a ghost or spirit is. Scientists and skeptics would have you believe it’s some sort of mass hysteria. Many would tell you that their great grandmother is visiting them. Who is right and who is wrong? I don’t exactly have the answers but we can go over the various theories and perhaps you can find one you agree with or perhaps you have a theory all your own?
Who Sees Ghosts?
Ghosts, as they are, are thought to be able to be seen by around 1 out of 10 people. Most theorists agree that children and animals are particularly susceptible to the paranormal and will usually be the first to sense or see them. This can easily mean several things; that either the child has a greater imagination or perhaps we develop some sort of block as adults to this sort of thing. Females seem to be more attuned to whatever the phenomenon is and those with higher IQ seem to be less susceptible to experiencing spirits. Perhaps the reason is that the scientific world is unable to believe in this sort of thing and because they can’t they intentionally block the sensations and sights that occur during an experience. People who actively look for ghosts rarely find them possibly implying intelligence in the spirits themselves or simply that they aren’t there.
By far this theory seems to be the most popular and is strengthened by our love of film. In this theory the spiritual remains of our loved ones, or not so loved ones, make up the paranormal entities we encounter. Not just in sight, as many may think, but in other senses as well. Experiencing first hand an encounter can be as simple as a smell, a feeling, a cold spot or even electrical interference. Often we hear of manifestations that thump up and down stairs, or flicker lights on or off.
In general though it’s thought that when a person dies and they do not go to whatever afterlife you might believe in that they become spirits. The other theory is that the energy we’re all made up of leaves behind these spirits. These are called intelligent hauntings, where a ghost or spirit may or may not manipulate the world around them, and are aware of the presence of the living. These sorts of hauntings are popular and have been seen for thousands of years. The experiences can also include people being touched, pushed or even physically harmed.
Generally a spirit that can harm people and interact with the world around us is called a poltergeist. Believed to be an angry or strong spirit these are the ones that usually occupy the silver screen and the ones that bring the most fear to our hearts.
Naturally Created Phantoms
Various scientists, the few that believe in ghosts, and investigators have decided that ghosts are created from naturally occurring phenomenon such as magnetism or electricity. These theories are the reason for many devices such as EMF detectors that measures electromagnetic fields in order to “sense” when a ghost is near. Different reasons abound for why ghosts may create this energy everything from ley lines in the Earth to some sort of deep vibrations in the crust. The investigators postulate that this energy is what makes spirits appear to us and is the reason that we see more ghosts at night.
At night our atmosphere expands and becomes less resistant. It causes us to be able to get TV signals clearer or hear a radio station from further away and paranormal investigators believe that if ghosts are energy-based; so it may explain why we see them at night. In general this theory tracks well as it would make sense that during popular haunting hours, 9PM to 3AM, there are more frequent apparitions appearing. It also might explain why we have trouble catching the experiences on camera as any addition of man-made electronics, such as cameras, into the environment might destroy the delicate balance that might spirits manifest.
Another theory involves the idea that in some way more angry or emotional deaths result in the event being recorded and played back again and again. These hauntings are responsible for a large number of hauntings and include legends like the “lady in white” or murders that play out repeatedly over the years. The spirits are unaware of the viewer’s presence and do not interact with them in any way. Hauntings such as these are usually referred to as non-intelligent hauntings or residual hauntings. There are theories out there that even believe that certain rocks, like quartz and limestone, can affect paranormal activity by somehow recording and playing back the information present. The Stanley Hotel, which is a popular haunted hotel and the site that the Shining was recorded in, is built on such rock. Various cast members of the Shining actually experienced paranormal activity while filming in the hotel and most the types of activities (e.g. children running toward them) indicate residual haunting.
Ghosts Aren’t Real
Again a very popular theory. In fact if you believe in none-of-the-above theories this probably means that you don’t believe at all or at the very least are a skeptic. Scientists believe that our minds create the image of an apparition spurred on by our imaginations and by external forces such as low frequency sound waves or high fields of electricity. By manipulating certain portions of the brain these can cause hallucinatory effects in the subject that are impossible to distinguish from reality. However this doesn’t explain when several people see a ghost at the same time. Currently skeptics call this mass hallucination though nothing is theorized about what causes several brains to be altered at one time.
Ghosts are actually rare glimpses into an alternate reality that runs parallel to ours. This theory, some believe is more explainable by science than any other. String theory postulates on the occurrence of 11 dimensions. Of those dimensions it’s popularly believed that we live in 4 dimensions, 3 of which are space and 1 which is time. Since many sightings happen in a place with abnormal magnetic fields they believe that somehow it can cause a slight “bleed” from one reality to another. In short, what we’re seeing is people and things existing as they are in a world not our own.
This may seem slightly off topic, but it’s actually far more connected then one might think. While this portion of the article leans on some sort of religion as basis it is, I think, imperative to discuss. The hauntings that are physical and dangerous are often considered to be much more than your average spook. For those who believe in religion demons are even more real than a poltergeist. Where some people would see a spirit whenever it turns violent it’s more often than not believed to be a demonic entity. There are shamans, priests and psychics which a large part of their job is blessing a home in some way and casting out a spirit. In Christianity a priest is usually called to bless the home by reading prayers and calling on God to cast out the evil living there. Shamans or other psychics usually cleanse a home by burning sage throughout the home. No matter what religion, they agree that there is such a thing as pure evil and it can sometimes cross over into our world. Of course when a ghost or demon possesses a person stronger methods are needed in the form of an exorcism. Most cultures believe in exorcism in one form or another, and they have been performed hundreds of times the world over. Either way this is just another explanation for ghosts; that they are not ghosts at all, but rather something far more sinister.
Demons, spirits, or ghosts; call them what you will, but they are a deeply embedded portion of our culture. Whether you believe or not is entirely up to you, yet no matter what one cannot deny that thousands of reports of hauntings have been claimed throughout history. In this writer’s humble opinion that means that all those people couldn’t possibly just be making it up. Perhaps this can be explained by science as simply a buildup of magnetic energy that disorients us and causes us to hallucinate. Then again maybe ghosts are the spirits of those that are lost and earthbound. While you may not believe that ghosts are the disembodied spirit of the dead they are certainly a heavily recorded and experienced phenomenon that I think one day will be explained by science. Remember magic and the supernatural historically has turned out to be science we do not yet understand.
After reading this article you may be wondering what I personally believe. I know that I would be curious about the original writer’s feelings on the subjects. After some deliberation I have decided to share my beliefs with you. I only ask that you respect me as a person even if you disagree with me and not mindlessly harass me for my beliefs.
I have experienced paranormal phenomenon. Whether that means, I’m one of the people we talked about above that are a little more attuned to the world of the spirits or that I’m crazy; (either is entirely possible) I’m not sure. What I do know is what I’ve seen and experienced. I won’t share those experiences here as they aren’t what this article is about. If enough people respond and want to hear my experiences, I will certainly consider sharing them. However this article is about theories and speculation on the nature of ghosts not about sharing ghost stories.
I personally believe that, yes, ghosts do exist. Science someday, I believe, will explain why spirits roam around. Hopefully soon scientists will be able to tell you why you see your loved ones or a stranger wearing Victorian-style clothing. Personally I have witnessed too much not to believe in spirits. Foremost in my belief though is that while there may be spirits that exist, echoes of what was, there are also demons that are in our plane of existence. I’m not talking about figurative demons or internal demons; I’m talking about true evil. I’ve seen and felt it and I can tell you that it was not a figment of my imagination or electromagnetic interference.
I do not believe we see into other dimensions nor do I believe that all people who see ghosts are insane. The reason many think so is that a vast majority of ghost stories are not true. People love attention and they will pretend to have seen things they have not in order to get it. You can usually tell these apart as they are mostly akin to a horror film. They are not subtle things that happen it’s more of an over the top scenario. The people who have really experienced the phenomenon do not so readily come forward; afraid to be ridiculed or sometimes fearing their own sanity. Usually they are, as myself, skeptics who must see something to truly believe it.
There are many explanations to apparitions. Do any above capture your viewpoint? Does my personal experience echo your own? Please share in the comments your thoughts and theories.