Directory of the Paranormal

Here is a list of some of the most commonly reported phenomena and their meanings, although this list is not exhaustive.

Animal Ghost

Many paranormal investigators agree that animal ghosts do exist and believe that the spirits of animal survive death the process of death. Elliot O'Donnell, says in his book Animal Ghosts (1913) "The mere fact that there are manifestations of dead people proves some kind of life after death for human beings; and happily the same proof is available with regard for a future life for animals; indeed there are as many animal phantoms as human - perhaps more". Another school of thought believes that animals share a 'collective' soul. This suggests that five, maybe more animals at a time, share one soul.


An apparition is said to be the ghost of someone seeing it recognises from life, or a ghost which appears in human shape, looking and appearing as if alive. The tradition of apparitions goes back to the earliest of times and documented accounts litter the pages of history from pre-Roman times to the present. All World cultures and societies maintain accounts of apparitions. Some apparitions appear only when some disaster is about to occur, whilst there are those reported to guard sacred places. Apparitions may not always be seen but may be heard or felt.


The Banshee, or 'bean si' as this spirit should be correctly pronounced, is undoubtedly Ireland's most famous ghost form. Said to follow long standing Irish families, she is more likely to be seen by the third daughter and is more commonly said to follow a family whose surname begins "O". Said to appear prior to the death of a family member. The announcement is made by crying and wailing during the night hours. The sound described to like a cat wailing but much worse. Often described as being female and either as a horrible old hag or else a beautiful young woman dressed in a green dress. A third type is ageless as has black holes in place of eyes and nose. All three main types have long hair. In Scotland, a similar legendary spirit normally takes the form of a drummer boy or piper and likewise often foretells death or misfortune.


The name Boggart is mainly used in Northern England and describes a particularly nasty type of ghost. Boggarts are said to have the habit of crawling into peoples bedrooms at night, pinching, slapping and biting the unfortunate victim. They are described as being fearsome to behold sharp, yellowing teeth.


Another rather unpleasant spirit, fond of haunting children hence, " The bogie man will get you". In British folklore, bogies are black in appearance with ugly grinning faces. Short and hairy with a foul smell. They were once thought to the most powerful form of ghost, as they had once served the Devil. They often seem capable of wailing like banshees.


There are many instances recorded of birds returning as ghosts. Birds were once believed to messengers of the dead. When a bird tapped on a window - it was a ghostly spirit looking for another to join it. Some birds are believed to carry the souls of the dead into the afterlife.


Next to dogs, said to be the most common form of animal ghost. The ghost cat may have it's origin in ancient Egypt where the cat was worshipped. At Bubastis, thousands of mummified cats have been excavated. Historically, the Devil was believed to take the form of a cat. Likewise the many ghostly and often black cats haunting many houses in England are sometimes thought of as being vice elementals, i.e. spirits which have never inhabited any physical body and may have been generated by evil thoughts, or else attracted to a spot by some vicious crime or deed.


The ability to hear disembodied voices of the dead or other entities. Normally they will foretell of events yet to happen. Many mediums claim this ability to hear the voices of dead relatives and then pass on this information from what they call the 'spirit world'.


The ability to be able to feel things in a divinitory sense. Many mediums who claims this ability that it is merely a refined basic human instinct.


The ability to see visions of events yet to happen, is happening or has happened. Many mediums combine this ability with one or other or the other 'Clairsenses'.

Crossroad Ghosts

Crossroads have long been associated with hauntings and although it is not exactly clear as to why, a number theories have been put forward by way of explanation. Some consider it is as a result of practise in older times for murderers, criminals and suicide victims to be buried at crossroads. This practise was said to confuse the spirit and prevent them returning and haunting the living. The cross formed by the roads being used as a form of Christian protection. Witches were also believed to hold ceremonies and to practise their black arts at crossroads.


Ghostly dogs are reported from all across the British Isles and vary widely in size. In Lancashire they have a black dog called 'Striker', in Wales there is 'Gwyllgi'. Black dogs also frequent graveyards and desolate moorland and heath. Like the banshee, they may foretell death or misfortune within a family.


The word is derived from German and usually is the expression for a ghost who is either still living or is their exact double. Those who have experience seeing their double are said to heading for misfortune, rarely may indicate good fortune. They are often experienced by friends or family of the person they are haunting but in a place where the living counterpart was nowhere near.


This is an ancient English expression for a nightmare ghost - normally that of a mature witch, well versed in the arts of black magic. They are able to inflict their ghost into the dreams and nightmares of their chosen victim.


This strange substance is said to be extruded from the sweat glands and body orifices of certain mediums whilst in a trance. The word 'ectoplasm' or 'teleplasm' as it is increasingly referred to is derived from the Greek 'Ektos' and 'Plasma' - exterior substance. Described as being like pale or white silk strands or a jelly like material, it is able to from human like shapes. Some investigators have over the years claimed to have examined ectoplasm and stated it be biological in origin, but that it's present biology is unknown to man.


These strange ghosts are said to be spirits which have never existed in physical form, unlike 'normal' ghosts and spirits which have at one time lived in a physical form either human or animal. Occultists declare them as being ancient spirits which predate mankind and fall into four categories comprising; Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Elementals are often associated with woodland, mountains or uninhabited valleys.


An exorcism is an act of religious ceremony used to expel a spirit, either from a human host or a building. The ceremony is normally performed by a specially trained clergyman who will often say prayers and repeat loud exhortations. The ceremony also involves burning candles or incense and the sprinkling of holy water. This is a modern version of the old Christian rite or excommunication known as the ritual of Bell, Book and Candle. Modern mediums also claim to be able to perform a similar act, normally without the trappings of religion, by physically contacting the spirit and convincing it to move on to another plane of spiritual existence.


This widely used term describes faces or sometimes whole images of people who appear mysteriously on photographs. Often the pictures show a white wispy substance out from which the face is normally starting to appear. In the early days of photography, many so called 'Spirit photographs' were produced, claiming to show the faces of the dead. Subsequently, many if not all proved to be fraudulent. In recent years the white wispy form itself has appeared more and more often without the attendant face. These are often described as vortex pictures as a faint helix form is often to be discerned within the white cloud. Some researchers have declared them to be pictures of spirit energies.


Fairies or Faeries are said to be small, often invisible creatures. They can provide great help or great hindrance to people. The colour green is sacred to them and they inhabit trees, hills and valleys. They are frequently also associated with ancient burial mounds or stone circles, similar in many respects to elementals.

Fireball or Lightball

Frequently reported in haunted locations. The fireball or lightball is said to move in a slow and smooth manner. They are also frequently reported near to stretches of water. They are believed by some to be the souls of the departed returning to Earth in order to guide the souls of the newly departed to the next world.

Galley Beggar

This is an old English ghost, often reported in the North of England and mentioned as far back as 1584, in Reginald Scot's The Discovery of Witchcraft. This fearsome ghost is described as being almost without flesh and bearing it's head under it's arm and emitting a deathly scream. The name is derived from the word 'Gallery', meaning to terrify. This ghost is likely to be encountered on country roads and deserted lanes.


From the common name for a ghost in Arabic. Nowadays commonly used throughout the World to define a nasty or viscous looking ghost. The ghoul is believed to gain sustenance from eating the flesh of corpses - hence ghoul is often used to describe ghost that haunt graveyards.

Graveyard Ghosts

According to folklore, the first person to be buried in a churchyard was believed to return as a ghost to guard the site against the Devil. This ghost was supposed to have special abilities. Because the task was so great, a black dog or more rarely a cat was buried before any human so it would become the guardian of the dead. Ghouls are also associated with graveyard hauntings.


These have only appeared in recent times and the word is believed to have originated during WW2 when pilots often reported strange goblin like creatures in the aircraft with them. Gremlins were immortalised by Steven Speilberg in his highly entertaining film of the same name and today hardly a piece of machinery can go wrong without somebody blaming 'A gremlin in the works'.

Grey Ladies

Said to originate in Tudor times when the dissolution of the monasteries resulted in a great number of monks and nuns being made homeless. Nuns at that time were frequently habited in grey. Many other investigators subscribe to the theory that grey ladies are similar to white ladies, whilst others claim the colour is related to the surrounding substance, wood, plaster, stone which may contribute to the ghosts appearance.


Originating long before the advent of Christianity, The Feast of the Dead is perhaps a better name for the night. It was a time of great celebration for our ancient ancestors who would light great bonfires to try and summon and placate the dead. The Christian churches tried to mask the true meaning of the celebration by declaring it to be 'All Hallows Eve' the night before All Saints day. Modern witches still celebrate the night of 31st October by the holding of feasts and performance of rituals.

Haunted Chairs

There are many reported instances throughout England of owners who have a particular fondness for or may have died in an armchair. Returning as a ghost and being seen in that particular chair. The ghost of Lord Combermere was reportedly photographed in his favourite chair, whilst his body was being interred nearby. Chairs also feature in many legends, chairs that cause death or misfortune to the sitter and chairs that result in the pregnancy of the female sitter.


Used to describe a ghost or series of paranormal events which takes place on more than one occasion within the same building or at the same place. We refer to such a place as being haunted. Objects too, can be haunted and subsequent owners may experience incidents that are paranormal. Haunted items include furniture, jewellery and even the bones of the deceased.

Headless Ghosts

Believed to be the spirits of people who have died by being beheaded. Evidence also suggests that these types of apparition may be connected to the ancient practise of beheading corpses. Many graves have revealed burials with the decapitated head placed between the knees - perhaps in the belief that the dead would not come back to haunt the living.

Headless Horsemen

By tradition the ghost of a rider who has been ambushed or decapitated when riding swiftly. Others believe them to be the figures of ancient Chieftains who having lost their heads in battle, still wander the earth seeking their lost head. Headless coachmen also are thought to either the victim of highwaymen or perhaps were decapitated passing under archways or low obstacles. Iron Thought to be a talisman against bad magic, witches and evil spirits. Used by many cultures in the past. Saxon burials frequently contain iron talisman to protect the spirit of the deceased in his journey into the afterlife.


The Roman name for evil ghosts. The Romans believed that the spirits of the dead often returned to haunt relatives and friends. Ceremonies and rituals were frequently performed by many cultures to prevent such spirits returning. Materialisation An ability claimed by some mediums to produce a spirit into visible sight. One of the first recorded incidents of materialisation took place in America during 1860 by the Fox sisters, founders of modern spiritualism.

Mermaid Pools

Pools of doom, death pools or back water. These refer to many secluded ponds and lakes which are said to be haunted by a certain type of mischief making ghost. Many people report feelings of sadness and melancholy. Most of these pools also have legend of people being drowned and lost forever within their waters. The legend may extend back to ancient times when water dieties were worshipped in many cultures, a practise that often involved human sacrifice - the body being thrown into the water.

Ouija board

Consisting normally of 38 figured cards arranged in a circle. The letters of the alphabet and the number zero are nine are represented together with two further cards with the words yes and no upon them. Derived from the French and German words for 'yes' thus the board is correctly called the 'YesYes' board. It is alleged to act as a mediator between the worlds of the living and the dead. In use a glass or pointer is used to indicate the letters and words being spelled out by the spirits. The board also carries with it a fearsome reputation for demonic possession to those using it although in more enlightened modern times it is now believed to be a form of dowsing.

Phantom Coaches

The phantom coach is thought by many to be a messenger of death. Similar in many respects to the banshee or phantom drummer boy. The coaches are always said to be black, the horses are usually headless as may be the coachman. The driver or passengers are often skeletal or hideous with a fixed maniacal grim. Passing at great speed it is frequently silent and according to legend anyone getting in it's way will be carried off to their doom. This almost exactly tallies with the ancient Norse legend of the eternal hunt of their gods of the underworld.


The word derived from German verb 'polter' describes a noise caused by banging, knocking or throwing things around. Harry Price in his 1945 book 'Poltergeist over England' describes them thus "A poltergeist is an alleged ghost, elemental, entity, agency with certain unpleasant characteristics, whereas our ordinary ghost is quiet, inoffensive, noiseless and rather benevolent". In all lands and all ages the poltergeist is mischievous, destructive, noisy and erratic. A ghost is described as haunting whereas a poltergeist 'infests'.


Pertaining to the soul and to the mind, being a mystic, clairvoyant, telepathic or with the ability to be able to see into the future. This should not be confused with 'spiritual' which is often used these days to describe mediums who do not need to psychic to be spiritual but do need to be spiritual in order to be psychic.


The ancient practised art of foretelling future events by the appearance of ghosts or spirits and what their manifestation means to the living.


Believed from ancient times to be like iron as a universal panacea against evil spirits and all manner of witchcraft and the Devil. Salt is often used in rituals to subdue a ghost by being placed in all the corners of the haunted building.


Normally conducted by a medium who claims to be able to contact the deceased relatives or sometimes the spirit guides of the sitters. Sometimes involving materialisation, disembodied voices or knocking and rapping sounds. The word séance is French is it's origin and means a sitting.


Once used simply as another word for a ghost but nowadays more commonly used as a descriptor for a ghost which is found to be explainable by hoax or natural occurrences.


Any object believed by the wearer or carrier to have the power to protect the owner from death or evil spirits. Talisman are also ascribed the power to bring good fortune, wealth or good health.


An ability to read minds and know the thoughts of other people, either close by or frequently at great distances. Trance An altered state of consciousness described as being somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. In this state mediums claim to be able to use their bodies or minds as a channel for waiting spirits or even healing energies.

Vengeful spirits

There are many recorded instances of ghosts returning to avenge themselves of terrible wrongs which were done to them in life. The ghosts of Winnats Pass near to Castleton in the Derbyshire peaks is said to be the spirits of Alan and Clara, brutally murdered in the pass by a group of miners.


An ancient custom thought to originate in Ireland, of sitting and watching over the dead whilst consuming large amounts of alcohol. This tradition is thought to help the spirit of the deceased in their journey into the spirit world. The practise of watching the body is done to prevent the dead body being entered by an evil spirit. The noise of music, singing and dancing at wakes also helps to scare evil spirits away.


Used wrongly by many writers to describe a male witch. Many such witches would find such a term insulting as in times past the word also described a traitor.

White Ladies

White ladies are seen throughout the British Isles. Traditionally, they haunt castles, mansions and old halls. A large percentage also frequent water and are seen on bridges or near to open stretches of still or slow moving water.


A person, normally a woman who practises witchcraft. There are many forms of witches. Most worship nature and call upon gods of fertility to help them with their undertakings. Witches are normally forbidden to tell anyone what they are, or how they practise their art, believing silence is power and power brings knowledge. Modern witches would not use their powers to harm people, instead choosing to help and promote spiritual awareness and greater wisdom of life than what is obviously apparent.


A person, usually male possessed with amazing abilities and well versed in the art of magic. Many male witches prefer this title to the perhaps more mundane Warlock.


According to ancient tradition, a wraith is the ghost of a person on the verge of death and often appear as an exact likeness of their human counterpart. They are regarded as a death omen and should a person see a wraith of themselves then their days are surely numbered.