Traditionally, a ghost is thought to be the soul, or spirit, of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form, or other manifestations, to the living. Descriptions of ghosts vary widely, from invisible presences, to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

The belief in the souls and spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism, or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices such as funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic, are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people that they were associated with in life. Stories of phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships, and even ghost animals have also been reported.

The most common types of ghosts are:

Cold Spots

Cold spots are three-dimensional columns of cold air that are stationary, and may move around certain haunted buildings.

Crisis Apparition

Similar to a fetch, a crisis apparition is an appearance of the deceased to their loved one, or friend, at a time when they are in great peril. It will be dressed in the same clothes that the person the apparition represents would wear, and will sometimes appear to speak. Some investigators believe that crisis apparitions are not genuine types of ghosts, as they are not actually present. They believe that the vision is as a result of telepathy between the two people involved.

Deathbed Vision

The appearance to the dying of dead friends and relatives. About half of those people who are conscious in the final minutes before death, will have a comforting vision of departed freinds or loved-ones coming to ‘take them home’. These visions do not appear to be illusion. People have been surprised to see the ‘ghost’ of those whom they assumed to still be ‘in the flesh’. And dying children who experience them, often express surprise that the ‘angels’ don’t have wings!


A German word meaning, ‘double goer’. It refers to an identical image of themself that a person sees. It is usually considered to be a harbinger of ill omen, if not imminent death.

Electronic Voice Phenomena

Also known as EVP, or ‘Spirit Voices’, these are the unexplained faint sounds of human voices that can sometimes be heard on both digital and tape recordings. Occasionally, the voices appear in answer to questions that are put to the entities by paranormal investigators.


A fetch may sometimes be a crisis apparition, if the person seen is experiencing great mental distress. It is the image of a person who is dying, or who has recently died, that appears to the friend or relative of the deceased. The fetch is not that rare of an occurrence. However, much more common is for a person to ‘know’ for certain that someone, with whom they are close, has ‘passed on’.


Poltergeist is another German word, and it means ‘noisy spirit’. They are thought not to be spirits at all, but rather some form of energy very often connected with an adolescent, or with someone going through an emotionally trying time. Poltergeists, like the Enfield Poltergeist, can be mischievous, disruptive and and destructive, but they very rarely hurt anyone. Minor poltergeist activity is quite common, but fortunately, the activity doesn’t usually last more than a few weeks.

Spirit Orb

With the arrival of the digital camera came ‘the orbs’ that look like small circles of light on the photographs. Probably 99% of the images have a perfectly natural explanation, such as dust, pollen, moisture, lens reflection, etc. However, there are those that cannot be explained, such as those that appear ‘from no-where’ at the request of the photographer, or that remain in the same place for minutes at a time. Some say that they are the spirits of the departed. Others that they are the spiritual equivalent of ‘dung beetles’ feeding off waste ‘etheric energy’.