Agent: The apparition, or ghost, seen by a human being.
Amulet: Any object that’s thought to have the power to ward of ghosts and evil spirits or to bring good luck.
Apparition: Any disembodied spirit that appears visibly.
Apport/Asport: An apport is a solid object that seemingly appears from nowhere in the presence of a medium. Some apports are assembled from invisible material matter; others are teleported from another often-distant location. An asport is any object the spirits or the medium makes disappear or teleports to another location.
Automatic Writing: Communication from a spirit in a written form. The medium holds a pen or pencil against paper and allows the spirit to take possession or control of his or her hand to write out a message.
Automatism: Any unconscious and spontaneous muscular movement caused by the spirits.
Channeling: A form of spirit communication, mostly popular in the United States during the “New Age” fad of the 1970s. During a channeling session, an unseen entity takes possession of the medium to impart spiritual guidance or wisdom.
Cold Reading: A technique using a series of statements, questions, and answers that allows fake mediums, mind-readers, and magicians to obtain previously unknown information about a person.
Collective Apparition: An unusual type of spirit sighting in which more the one person sees the same phenomenon.
Collective Unconscious: From the analytical psychology of Carl Jung, the collective unconscious is the collective memory of all of humanity’s past, held in an individual’s unconscious mind.
Control: A control lives in the spirit world and is manifested by a medium, usually in a séance, to act on the medium’s behalf as a guide among the spirits. A control may appear as a disembodied voice, speaking through the medium’s own voice, writing with the medium’s hand, be materialized visually either partially or full-form, or taking full possession of the medium’s body.
Crisis Apparition: A crisis apparition is a specific type of out-of-body experience in which the agent projects his or her astral body at a time of crisis or death to a particular percipient, usually a loved one.
Cross-Correspondence: Interrelated bits of information received from the spirit world by different mediums at different times and locations. The communications must be joined together to form a complete message from spirit(s).
Direct Voice Phenomenon (DVP) : a spirit voice, spoken directly to sitters at a seance. The sound usually seems to come from a point near the medium, or through a spirit horn or trumpet, but not through the mouth of the medium.
Direct Writing : A spectral phenomenon, seen most often in a seance, in which spirit handwriting appears directly on a previously unmarked surface.
Drop-in Communicator: A drop-in communicator is a spirit or entity that makes its presence known at a seance. Its identity is usually unknown to the medium and the sitters.
Dybbuk: A dybbuk, found in Jewish legend, is the restless soul of a deceased human being that enters the body and takes possession of a still-living person.
Ectoplasm: Ectoplasm is a solid or vaporous substance, lifelike and moldable, that supposedly exudes from the body of a medium (usually from one of the facial orifices) to form seemingly corporeal limbs, faces, or entire bodies. Ectoplasm is usually a dense but liquidy, milky-white substance with the scent of ozone.
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP): The capture of spirit voices on magnetic tape as an audio recording. Many times, no sound is heard while the tape is recording. It’s only upon playback that the harsh, hushed voices can be heard.
Exorcism: The expulsion of a ghost, spirit, demon, or other entity/entities thought be possessing or haunting a human being or location. The ritual, conducted by an exorcist, is usually religious in nature, and calls upon some Higher Power to cast out the evil force(s).
Ghost A form of apparition, usually the visual appearance of a deceased human’s spirit soul.
Ghost Hunt/Ghost Investigation: A ghost hunt is an informal attempt to sight or record a ghost in a location similar to others known to be haunted. A ghost investigation, on the other hand, is a carefully controlled research project, set up to record paranormal activity, usually at a location known or presumed to be haunted.
Ghost Hunter: A person who searches for, finds, and sometimes is able to identify apparitions or the cause of spirit activity.
Ghostbuster: A person who removes a ghost, poltergeist, spirit entity, or spectral activity from a haunted site.
Gray Lady: A gray lady is the ghost of a woman whose death has been caused by a loved one or one who died while waiting for her lover to return or appear.
Hallucination: A false or distorted perception of objects or events with full belief in their reality. Ghosts, as we define them, are not hallucinations, because they have a real, external cause.
Haunt: A ghost that returns to the same location is said to haunt it. Ghosts generally haunt places, not people.
Ignis Fatuus: Literally meaning “foolish fire,” ignis fatuus are any variety of ghost or spectral lights. According to some folkloric traditions, the lights are souls of the dead; in other legends, they are imp-like spirits.
Kabbalah: A collected way of thinking based primarily on ancient Jewish spiritual writings and their mystic interpretation.
Magnetometer A device used to measure the presence of a magnetic field as well as its strength, direction and fluctuation. Paranormal researchers use the device in an attempt to detect a ghost’s magnetic or energy aura.
Marian Apparition: The appearance of the ghostlike figure of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
Materialization: The manifestation or production of some physical object or person from the spirit world. The most difficult and impressive materialization is all (or even part of) a human spirit, especially if the ghost’s face is recognizable.
Medium : Someone who can communicate with spirits on behalf of another living being. The word suggests that the medium acts as a midway point, halfway between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Mesmerism: The induction of a sleep or trance state, discovered during the work of Friedrich Anton Mesmer, from whose name the word is derived. Also known as hypnotism.
Near-Death Experience (NDE): A near-death experience is undergone by a person who clinically dies, or comes very close to actual death, and is revived. Often, the person recalls extraordinary, even paranormal, visions of an afterlife. American physician Dr. Raymond Moody coined the phrase in the 1970s.
Necromancy/Necromancer : A form of prophecy, in which the seer or sorcerer/sorceress raises the spirit (though usually not the corporal remains) of the dead in order to have the wraith foretell future events. It was thought that upon entering eternity, the spirit would have full knowledge of the past, present and future.
Objective Apparitions : Apparitions or phenomena that appear independent of our minds, thoughts or feelings.
Oracle : In ancient Greece, a seeress who is about to communicate with the gods and the deceased to foretell the future.
Ouija Board: A board pre-printed with letters, numerals and words used by mediums to receive spirit communications. Usually a planchette is employed to spell out words, or to point out numbers or words. A game version of the Ouija board was mass-marketed as OUIJA by Parker Brothers in 1966 and is currently distributed by Hasbro.
Out-Of-Body Experience (OBE) : An out-of-body experience (also called astral projection) is the paranormal phenomenon in which a spirit double (also called the astral body) leaves your body and travels to another location.
Paranormal : Something that is beyond the range of normal human experience or scientific explanation.
Percipient: A person who sees (or perceives) an apparition or ghost.
Phantom Traveler/Phantom Hitchhiker: A phantom traveler is the ghost of a human or animal that haunts a specific roadway, route or vehicle. The phantom hitchhiker, who requests a ride, then suddenly disappears from inside the vehicle, is the best-known type of phantom traveler legend.
Planchette : A palm-sized triangular platform that is used as a pointer during the operation of an Ouija board.
Poltergeist: A non-human spirit entity. Although its name is based on Greek roots meaning “noisy ghost,” the poltergeist is usually more malicious and destructive than ghosts of dead human beings. Traditional poltergeist activities are thumpings and bangings, levitating and moving objects, stone-throwing, and starting fires.
Purgatory : In Roman Catholic doctrine, the place where souls of people who have died in grace must suffer while being cleansed of their sins before they can be admitted into heaven.
Radio Voice Phenomenon (RVP): Receiving the voice of a deceased human being over a regular radio.
Reciprocal Apparition: An exceedingly rare type of spirit phenomenon in which both the agent and percipient see and respond to each other.
Repressed Psychokinetic Energy: A theoretical psychic force produced, usually unconsciously, by an individual undergoing physical or mental trauma. When released, some think the power causes paranormal occurrences such as poltergeist activity. A classic, though fictional, an example would be what Carrie (of film and Stephen King novel fame) did at the prom.
Retrocognition: A sudden time warp in which you find yourself in the past, seeing or experiencing events of which you had no prior knowledge. Also called post cognition.
Scrying: A type of prophecy in which the fortune-teller reveals the future while staring into a mirror, onto some other shiny or reflective surface, or into a crystal (such as a gemstone or a crystal ball).
Seance : A gathering of individuals, usually led by a medium, for the purpose of receiving spirit manifestations or communications with the dead. Also known as a sitting, a spirit circle, or simply a circle.
Sensitive: Parapsychology jargon for someone who is aware of or can feel paranormal presences that cannot be picked up by the regular five senses.
Shaman: A wizard in tribal societies who is an intermediary between the living, the dead and the gods.
Spirit Cabinet : A spirit cabinet, or simply cabinet, is a solid or curtained enclosure within which the medium sits to allow the spirits to appear unimpeded in darkness. The first spirit cabinet was introduced by the Davenport brothers in the 1850s in New York City. Its use was quickly adopted by many of the leading mediums of the day.
Spirit Photography: A spirit photograph captures the image of a ghost on film. Many spirit photographs are supposedly intended as a mere portrait of a living human being, but when the film is developed, an ethereal ghostly face or figure can be seen hovering near the subject.
Spirit Theater: A term used by modern-day magicians to describe shows, acts or tricks in which ghosts or other spirit activity are apparently produced.
Spiritualism: A belief system that spirits of the dead can (and do) communicate with living human beings in the material world. Usually, this contact is made through an intermediary known as a medium.
Spook Show: Also called a ghost show or a spookaroo, a spook show was a magic show, most popular in the 1950s, that featured horror and ghost-themed magic tricks. Often one or two horror movies were shown as part of the evening’s entertainment.
Sujective Apparitions: Apparations or phenomena that are actually hallucinations created by our minds.
Super-ESP: A powerful form of telepathy that allows a medium to unconsciously pick up information about deceased person from other living people.
Supernatural: Something that exists or occurs through some means other than any known force in nature. As opposed to paranormal, the term “supernatural” often connotes divine or demonic intervention.
Telepathic Projection: A now-discredited theory first espoused by Frederic W.H. Myers, a 19th-century paranormal investigation suggesting that spirits of the dead sent mental messages to the living rather than physically returning as ghosts.
Teleportation: A kind of paranormal transportation in which an object is moved from one distinct location to another, often through a solid object such as a wall.
Wild Hunt: A group of huntsmen, horses and hounds in procession, always seen at night. Leaders of legendary and mythological Wild Hunts include Herne the Hunter, Sir Francis Drake, the god Odin, and the goddess Holda.