The terms spirit and ghost are often used interchangeably by ghost hunters and laypersons alike, but there can be some significant differences between the two. A ghost is the spirit of person who has passed on and lingers on earth for some reason. A spirit can be the spirit of a person, but can also be the spirit of an entity that has never been a human.

Misconceptions

Many people believe that all paranormal activity is attributed to ghosts. Others assume that all ghosts are aware of your presence and that their actions are attempts to communicate with you. Some assume the presence of orbs in photographs and video is an indication of the presence of a spirit.

Considerations

Paranormal activity simply means activity that is beyond the normal, that we do not have a reasonable explanation for. This can be the result of geomagnetic fields, geological features of the area or any combination of environmental factors that create unusual occurrences in an area. Orbs are collections of energy that can be produced by geological features independent of spirit activity. The appearance of orbs can be the result of dust, moisture, lighting conditions or flying insects. Whether or not a ghost is aware of your presence depends on the particular type of haunting. An intelligent spirit is aware and may attempt to communicate with you, but a residual ghost does not know you are there.

Types

An intelligent spirit is generally what we consider a ghost. This is the spirit of a deceased person that lingers at the site and attempts to interact with inhabitants of the home. A residual ghost cannot interact with you and doesn't know you exist. This type of ghost has imprinted on the environment during an emotionally charged event and has in essence created a recording that is destined to replay throughout time. This ghost will be observed performing the same actions in the same sequence at regular intervals regardless of it you are there or not. An inhuman spirit is the energy of an entity that has never lived in human form. This may take the form of an evil spirit, but not all inhuman spirits are believed to be evil or demons.

Theories/Speculation

Paranormal investigators believe that intelligent spirits remain earthbound for a several reasons. Some simply are not aware that they have passed away and are trying to live normal lives. Some spirits may linger because they have unfinished business that they must attend to before leaving this realm. Others may be attached to the area or a person and be unwilling to leave. It is believed that in certain locations, the geological features, generally high concentrations of rock, limestone and water, may create the ideal environment for events to imprint on the environment. It is thought that highly charged emotional events are able to be recorded on the environment and play back at regular intervals. These can be in the form of audio or visual images that can be observed through time performing the same task in the same way every time. Inhuman spirits are believed to be the energy of beings that have never been human, but coexist with humans in the same realm. These range from elementals to demons. The list is extensive and little proof of their existence exists.

Significance

For many gathering evidence of spirits and ghosts serves as a way to prove that life continues after death. With the recent increase in paranormal investigations and the rise in paranormal groups called ghost gunters, communities and individuals can easily connect with experts to assist them in their search for answers when they find themselves plagued by paranormal events in their homes. The stigma of being called crazy is becoming less common as more people become aware of the experiences of others. Research in the area may bring answers to the age old question of what happens to people after they pass from this life.