Ghosts need little introduction. They can take many forms — or indeed be almost formless.
Paranormal investigators characterize ghost sightings in many different ways.
Apparitions: are the physical manifestation of a spirit that can be seen with the naked eye. Investigators list several types of apparitions. Among them are:
Shadow people: These shadowy figures take human form, but are often only several feet tall. They do not have discernible features or faces and appear as black humanoid figures in haunted locations.
Shadows or dark mists: Some apparitions form frightening dark shadows or mists. These ghost sightings include dark mist-like figures that form human shapes, glide across the floor or appear and then disappear just as quickly.
The lady in white: It’s almost cliché in paranormal circles to see a lady in white Victorian garb, but that’s typically how many female ghost sightings are described. Why these particular ghosts appear to wear white gowns remains a mystery, but you will often hear people describe these figures as “a lady in white”.
Atmospheric apparitions may not necessarily be ghosts. Some investigators believe them to be energy imprints left at a particular location, usually a location that had deep meaning to the deceased person or a place where a great deal of positive or negative emotional energy existed. Sometimes these places are called residual haunts or residual haunting. Think of them like a video tape left to play repeatedly in an endless loop. There’s no consciousness left in the spirit, merely an energy manifestation.
Historical apparitions appear to be very similar to atmospheric apparitions, but are more frequently experienced in historical settings. For example, many visitors to Gettysburg battlefield report seeing what they believe are costumed Civil War re-enactors on the battlefield or walking by them only to find out later that no reenactment were planned that day. Spotted at historical sites including battlefields, homes, mills and prisons, historical apparitions appear life-like but often repeat a simple task over and over again. They do not typically interact with viewers.
These apparitions appear to be on some mystical time schedule and appear at the same time and place weekly, monthly or yearly. Speculation among investigators is that they are a form of atmospheric or residual haunting, but for some reason they can only manifest at a particular day, time and place.
Many paranormal investigation television shows such as the SciFi Channel’s Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State feature intelligent apparitions. These apparitions interest investigators the most, since they can interact with researchers. They interact with people using knocks, bangs, moving objects, touching people or creating signals on specific ghost hunting equipment to communicate information. Many times investigators capture their eerie voices, inaudible to normal hearing, on recording equipment.
Familial or Family Spirits
The most difficult ghost sighting of all is that of the familial or family spirit. Not often investigated, familial spirits haunt a family. Experts believe these spirits to be former family members who guard or warn against danger. Many examples in history and literature cite deceased family members appearing to living family members to warn of imminent illness, disaster or death. Other familial spirits are not so charitable and take on the characteristics of intelligent haunts or poltergeist activity. For whatever reason, these spirits are difficult to dislodge from a particular family.