What's a Ghost?

Halloween Season! Ghost posts all month!

Say “ghost” and most people know what you mean – the spiritual remnant of a deceased human that’s still perceptible (at times) by living humans.

Some in the paranormal fields have lists of names and categories delineating types: haunt, specter, spirit, poltergeist. I’m not much for labeling, and tend to very broad definitions. However, there are two general types of general ghost-ish beings and activity that most folks are likely to encounter.

First, are “earthbound spirits.” Humans (mostly) who cling to life, and the earth. These are beings that retain awareness, intellect, able to interact with the living and the physical realm. They are what we usually think of as ghosts

Earthbound spirits may have had a traumatic ending, or may feel as if they have unfinished business with the living. Some fear “crossing over” into possible purgatorial or even hellish realms because of misdeeds while they were incarnated in a body. They are able to communicate, and often do – details about their life, their death, and sometimes they wish to pass on messages for loved ones.

However, not all apparitions are necessarily aware of humans on the Earth plane. Some of them may not even see us or react to our presence, but go about their actions as if we were the ones not there. Commonly known as residuals, these are powerful emotional leftovers of events or trauma that took place in a particular locale. Residuals replay a scene over and over that is ignorant of current surroundings. For example a phantom stagecoach is sometimes seen crossing a freeway in Southern California.

I encountered a particularly powerful residual haunting when I walked through two men fighting.

An old farmhouse had been moved from its original location and was on display at a county fair. I didn’t have any of the typical sensations of a nearby spirit walking into the home. It was a bright, sunny summer day, and my friend and I were having fun poking around the old house. It was about as unlikely a place to encounter a ghost as you might imagine.

We came into a large open room, a gathering space not a bedroom or kitchen. There was no furniture, only windows, a fireplace and a chandelier. I walked into the center of the floor to get a closer look at the dangling crystals of the chandelier.

Between one moment and the next several things happened at once.

I became acutely nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded. I couldn’t see my friend anymore and the atmosphere turned dark and smoky, but the chandelier blazed with light. I was standing between two men facing off against each other. They were arguing, oblivious to me and the other fair-goers in the room. I could hear the yelling but couldn’t understand their words. They quickly closed the distance between them, pushing and then grappling. Each man carried a gun and they fired almost simultaneously.

I felt both shots hit me in the abdomen and chest.

Pain, cramping, and nausea doubled me over and I was close to fainting  I called for my friend. She had to help me out of the house because my vision was going black.

Once outside, the pain and nausea evaporated and my vision cleared. Instantly.

My mind cleared, I was intuitively aware I had walked into a residual haunting. The information about the fight between the two men “downloaded” when I stood in that particular spot and experienced those moments from the past. Both died, but neither remained behind as an earthbound spirit. Rather this was the emotional residue of the intensity of their emotions, replaying like a video on loop.

This particular encounter happened well before the internet, so researching the deeper history of this house was not possible. I was a kid in my 20’s and not very skilled yet with my medium/psychic talents. Control over my own abilities and encounters with non-physical beings was still random and, as in this case, terrifying.

With greater practice though, I became less affected by these sort of strong residuals.


Have you had ghostly encounters? Do you live in a haunted locale?

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