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Paranormal Glossary

Updated on March 4, 2009



The apparition or ghost seen by a human being. Also can be a spirit guide for a medium.



Any object that is believed to be endowed with supernatural powers allowing it to fend off evil spirits, or to bring good luck.


An anomaly (literally, no law or rule) is an irregular or unusual event which does not fit a standard rule or law.


A spirit apparition is the classic form of a ghost and the rarest paranormal phenomena. It is the partial or full (sometimes incomplete) form representing a person or animal who was once living and is presently passed on. Sometimes the apparition is transparent and sometimes it can look as if it were solid, but eventually disappears.


An object created by mediums and poltergeists, which materializes out of thin air and takes solid form. These objects can be coins, jewelry, or anything that would have significance to the members of the séance. Also known as Materialization.

Astral Projection

Is also called Out of Body Experience (OBE), and is a phenomenon where a spirit double (or astral body) leaves the body (of a living being) and travels to another location.

Atmospheric Apparition

Also referred to as Atmospheric Imprinting, or Residual Haunts. When an event is so traumatic that it actually imprints itself onto the atmosphere and then replays over and over again. This is most commonly seen at battlefield sites. In the case where a ghost is seen only on the anniversary of the event, the phenomenon is referred to as a Recurring Apparition.


The field of energy that surrounds all living creatures, including human beings, animals and plants. Some people have the ability to see colored auras and can determine the health and emotions of an individual by the color of their aura. Aura Photography is used to capture the aura on film, usually using Polaroid cameras and film.

Automatic Writing

Unconscious muscular movements that are guided by spirits, in this case, writing. Automatic painting has also been documented—where a former artist spirit guides the brush of a living artist.


The exact moment when paranormal activity suddenly and unexpectedly emerges from a location where no paranormal activity has been reported before, (or that has not been recorded for a long time).


An ancient Irish and Scottish tradition of a female spirit foretelling a tragedy or death. They are said to emit a sound similar to a mournful crying.


A form of spirit communication where a spirit takes possession of a medium to impart spiritual guidance, wisdom, or to communicate with those present at a séance.


The extrasensory perception manifesting in the form of either an internal or external vision of present or future events, objects, places and people. Clairvoyance usually occurs through dreams or flashes of events while the clairvoyant is awake.

Cold Reading

A fraudulent technique used by charlatans to obtain information about a person. It is usually accomplished by a series of statements and questions by a fraudulent medium, responding to verbal and non-verbal answers of the person being “read.”


A spirit of the dead who acts as a medium’s guide or intermediary to the “Other World.” Also known as a Spirit Guide.

Collective Apparition

A case where more than one person sees the same spirit phenomenon.

Crisis Apparition

A specific type of apparition where the agent projects his or her astral body at a time of crisis or death, usually to a loved one.

Direct Writing

Writing that materializes on a previously unmarked surface without the aid of a medium’s hand.

Direct Voice Phenomenon (DVP)

Is heard most often at a séance when a spirit speaks directly to the sitters, not though the medium. The voice usually is heard near the medium, but not out of her/his mouth.


A method of locating people, animals, objects and water by the use of a forked rod, or a bent pair of wires (usually copper). Copper dowsing rods are also used to communicate with spirits. The investigator holds the rods out in front of him/her, one in each hand, and asks the spirits yes or no questions. If the rods cross, that would indicate a "yes" answer. They will also point to spirit activity.

Drop In Communicator

A spirit who shows up at a séance uninvited. They often don’t stay, but can bring with them apports, noises and/or strange lights.


A spiritual Celtic practice (religion) based upon the love of nature and the Earth. It fosters: Love of Land, the Earth, the Wild and reverence for Nature. They were the priests, magicians, mystics and priestesses of the Celtic people. The oak and the mistletoe that grows within its branches were scared to the Druids. Mythologies describe Druids capable of control of the weather, healing, levitation and shape changing themselves into the forms of animals.


From the Greek words, “ektos” and “plasma,” which means “exteriorized substance.” It is electro magnetic energy from a spirit. It is almost always white, (not green!) and changes form quickly, even when there’s no wind. At times it is expelled from a medium’s body while in a trance-like state. Ectoplasm is warm to the touch, and has a wax-like consistence. It can also be rubbery and disappears when exposed to bright light. Vaporous ectoplasm is light, and resembles clouds of smoke.

Electro-Magnetic Field Meter (EMF Meter)

An electronic devise that detects the changes in the Electro-magnetic field. Since this field is around everything, care should be taken around electric equipment. A reading of between 2.0 and 8 usually indicates paranormal activity. Above that is man made.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP)

The acquisition of information by means beyond the five human senses. Sometimes referred to as the “Sixth Sense.”

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)

A “spirit” voice on recorded on tape, usually audio. Most often not heard at the time of recording, but is present when the recording is replayed.


A religious rite performed by a holy man for the purpose of expelling an evil spirit or demon. An exorcism performed by the Roman Catholic Church is known as Rituale Romanum.

Fortean Phenomena

Paranormal phenomena that science cannot explain. The term originated from Charles Fort (1874-1932), an American who catalogued thousands of strange phenomena that could not be explained in rational terms.


A "recording" on the atmosphere of a previously living, entity (person and sometimes an animal). Since a ghost is merely a impression on the atmosphere, one cannot communicate with it because it isn't really still where it is seen. The clue that what is being experienced is a ghost and not a spirit manisfestation is if the image is always seen doing the same thing, like descending a flight of stairs, or in the case of Gettysburg, fighting the same battle over and over again.

Ghost/Spirit Hunt

An informal attempt to contact and record ghostly activity. Not as scientifically conducted as a Paranormal Investigation.

Ghost/Spirit Investigation

A carefully controlled scientific research project to verify the presence of a ghost or spirit and to document paranormal activity.

Ghost Lights

Lights that resemble orbs, but are much larger and are usually seen from a distance. They can also be associated with a spirit who would have normally carried a light while living, (i.e. and railroad worker or monks carrying candles.) Also called “ignis fatuus” meaning “foolish fire.”

Gray Ladies

A ghost or spirit of a woman who has died at the hands of her lover or while waiting for him to return. They are so-named because of their mournful expressions. Most are found in England. Gray Ladies have been credited with providing preemptive warnings of disasters that have saved many lives.


The five stages of grief: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, and Finally. These also apply to spirits who have not moved on and stay at the place they haunt. They must move on in their own time, and nothing the living can do can speed up their grieving process.


An event where a spirit/ghost makes itself known to the people living in its former home, office building, or property. Usually a spirit is attached to a place rather than people; and they don’t often leave the place that is being haunted when the people leave. However, if the spirit is a relative, the might follow the person and are not necessiarily attached to a specific place.

Heart of a Haunting, The

The precise location where paranormal activity occurs with the most frequency. The nucleus of the paranormal phenomena. Often this "Eye" of the activity is a cold spot.

Ley Lines

The invisible alignments between sacred or mystical locations, which are usually built on sites with energy vortexes. Because the energy from vortexes are electromagnetic, the energies push and pull against each other just as the attractions of a magnet. When sacred sites or energy vortexes are plotted on an area map, the straight lines connecting these locations are the Ley Lines. These pathways often have much more paranormal activity than other surrounding areas.

Lucid Dreaming

A person having a lucid dream is usually not aware that they are dreaming. The dream seems real and it appears impossible to determine whether the person is still asleep or has actually woken up. There might be telepathy, precognition, or clairvoyance involved when two people have the same dream. Past life experiences are also commonly projected through lucid dreams.


A devise used to measure the presence of a magnetic field, as well as its strength, direction, and fluctuations. Some paranormal investigators believe that spirits have a detectable magnetic or energy aura.

Marian Apparition

The appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most famous Marian apparition began in 1981 in the village of Medjugorje, Bosnia. Six children began seeing visions of the Blessed Virgin and documented over two thousand sightings. Almost everyone who has made a pilgrimage to the village has experienced something that they could not explain. Healings have occurred. These apparitions are not ghosts, but considered spiritual events.


A person who has the psychic ability to communicate with the dead. Sometimes mediums use spirit guides to find the spirits of particular deceased loved ones. The word suggests that a medium acts as a midway point between the dead and the living.

Near-Death Experience (NDE)

An experience where a living person actually dies, or comes close to actual death, and is revived. Many people recount their experiences of rushing though a tunnel toward a bright light, seeing deceased relatives, and other visions of the afterlife. The phrase was coined by Dr. Raymond Moody in his book recounting patient’s NDEs.

Objective Apparitions

Actual entities that appear independent of our mind, thoughts and feelings.


Usually appears as a sphere or ball that looks as if it has a nucleolus emitting its own light. It seems to “glow” as it hovers or moves. They are usually white or blue and have a rainbowed out edge of energy. Orbs most often appear on photographs and/or video, but they are rarely seen by the human eye. They might appear on photographs if no flash was used when taking the picture.

Out of Body Experience (OBE)

Is also called, Astral Projection, and is a phenomenon where a spirit double (or astral body) leaves the body (of a living being) and travels to another location. This usually occurs when the living person is asleep or in a trance-like state. The Astral body, (spirit, soul) returns to the living person and is reunited.


Beyond the simple human experience and scientific explanation.


The misperception of an obscure stimulus being perceived as something more specific and distinct. An innate human characteristic to see something in something else—like depicting a face in the swirling of a stucco wall or ceiling, or from a pattern in wood paneling. Or, the most often occurrence in the paranormal investigation business, seeing a face in photograph that is probably a reflection and believing it to be a ghost. To quote the great Sherlock Holmes, “Eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”


A person who sees or perceives the presence of a ghost or spirit or unexplaned phenomina.

Phantom Hounds

The sighting of phantom hounds seems to be at random, some times manifesting to guard something of importance. They are frightening large dog spirit creatures with glowing eyes, (sometimes headless) that chase the living, but rarely ever catch them. As long as the person seeing one of these apparitions is not frightened to death, or runs off a cliff to avoid them, they cannot cause any real damage.

Phantom Phone Calls

Calls via a telephone made by someone who has passed on. This usually occurs when the caller has a close emotional relationship to the person answering the call. Hundreds of reports of this type of phenomena have been recorded, but it is still considered a rare anomaly. There have also been reports of communication via other electronic appliances, such as radios, CB’s, television sets and even computers.

Phantom Ships

The appearance of phantom ships is thought to be a death omen by sailors. The most famous Phantom Ship is the Flying Dutchman, which has many documented sightings from the 1800’s. The Griffon is another phantom ship that can still be seen on the Great Lakes.

Phantom Travelers

Ghosts or spirits that haunt modes of transportation, (trains, buses, and airplanes) that seem to be cursed to never-ending travel. Also known as Phantom Hitchhikers. Some apparitions occur only on the anniversary of the spirit’s death.


Fear of ghosts/spirits.


The factors responsible for a variety of paranormal phenomena, free from the cultural and personal assumptions of the paranormal.

Psychic Attacks

Paranormal assaults on humans or animals that can cause physical or mental distress, illness, bodily injury, or death. Voodoo is an example of a psychic attack. In European cultures, the “Evil Eye” or curses are also examples.


Not a ghost or a spirit and believed to be caused by an adolescent with latent psychic PK abilities. Poltergeist is a German word translated, “Noisy Spirit.” Most studies have concluded that the agents of poltergeist activity originate from females under the age of twenty. Poltergeist activity is accumulative as the activity progresses.

Power Points

Spiraling rhythms of earth energy being drawn together from different sources to form a concentrated energy mass. Power Points have abnormal amounts of ghost, spirit and UFO sightings and poltergeist activity, making them a focus for many paranormal investigations.


The movement of objects through the use of one’s mind, without the aid of physical persuasion. The force of Mind over Matter. Sometimes it is done without the conscious knowledge of the person using it. This is the case with Poltergeist incidents, and usually is brought about by a young adolescent. Uri Geller was believed to possess this ability.

Psychic Burn

The location where a terrible event, typically extremely violent, occurs causing human emotions, (fear, panic, anger, pain, hate, confusion, etc.), to explode from the scene scarring the physical environment. The images seen are ghost images and a are usually a reenactment of a horrible event. This is also referred to as Atmospheric Apparitions.

Radio Voice Phenomenon (RVP)

The reception of the voice of a deceased through the speakers of an ordinary radio.

Reciprocal Apparition

When the agent (spirit) and percipient (living person seeing the spirit) see and respond to each other and no one else in the area is aware of the spirit.

Recurring Apparitions

A ghostly appearance that occurs once a year or on a regular cycle, usually on the anniversary of a death or traumatic event.


The belief that a soul comes back to earth many times through many lives for the purpose of attaining knowledge of every experience and to ultimately achieve perfection. Once perfection is achieved the soul returns to God and becomes a part of Him. The Christian religion is the only major religion of the world that does not accept this philosophy.


A sudden shift or displacement in time in which one finds himself/herself in the past seeing or experiencing events of which they had no prior knowledge. Also known as Postcognition.


A form of fortune-telling in which the seer perceives visions of the future while gazing into a mirror, crystal ball, bowl of water, or other reflective surface.


A gathering or “spirit circle” of individuals for the purpose of communicating with the dead. Also known as “A Circle.”


Someone who is aware of or can feel paranormal presences that cannot be picked up by the normal five senses.Many sometimes be able to communicate with spirits, but not always.


The life force or energy of a human being or animal. A person’s conscious identity that cannot be extinguished after the death of their body.


Thought to be the soul of a human being or animal. The willpower and driving force behind the soul. The essence of a formerly living person. The energy that remains after the body dies. Because a spirit is the energy of a former living person, they should be no more frightening then the person was while they were alive.

Spirit Guide

A spirit who assists a medium find and communicate with the spirit of a deceased friend or relative. Also known as a “Control.

Spirit Photograph

A photograph where there is evidence of a spirit.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

The process of a human body starting on fire as a result of heat generated by an internal chemical action. The phenomenon is very rare and not ever personally witnessed.

Subjective Apparitions

Are created by our minds and are actually hallucinations.


Something that exists or occurs through some means other than any known force in nature. As opposed to paranormal, the term often connotes divine or demonic intervention.


The mind-to-mind communication between individuals without the use of audible speech or hand signals. This often occurs normally between twins, mother and child, or anyone who is closely connected to another.


A type of Paranormal transportation where an object or person is moved from one location to another, sometimes through solid objects, such as walls, closed doors or closed windows

Time Slips

Moments where the past and present collide at one point.


The belief that souls come back to life through many lives, ascending higher levels of life through insect, animal and then to human forms to ultimately attain perfection. Once perfection is achieved the soul returns to God and becomes a part of Him.


Unidentified Flying Objects, considered as being alien spacecraft.

Vortex (Energy Vortex)

Believed to be a portal between dimensions though which spirits travel. Compasses and sensitive electrical equipment fails. Vortexes can occur anywhere, inside caves, in riverbeds, within a house, or on the grounds of a cemetery. The Chinese call this energy Yin and Yang. Ancient civilizations built scared temples and holy shrines on locations believed to be vortexes and believed that these areas amplified energy and spiritual enlightenment.


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