Glossary of Paranormal Terms
Agent – A living person
who is the focus of poltergeist activity.
Amulet - An object that is thought to bring good luck or have
the power to protect from ghosts or spirits and ward off evil.
AKA "charm", "talisman".
Anomaly - Irregular or
unusual event that does not follow a standard rule or law or
that cannot be explained by currently accepted scientific
Apparition - Spectral image of a person that materializes even
though a physical body is not present; experienced in a wakeful
Apport – Physical object that can materialize and appear at will
in the presence of a medium.
Artefact - Term used to
describe the slight noises or residual images produced by the
internal mechanisms of equipment which could be misinterpreted
as paranormal sounds or images.
Asport – Physical object that a spirit teleports to another
location or makes disappear.
Astral Body – The body that a person occupies during an
Astral Plane – A world that is believed to exist above our
Astral Projection – The intentional act of having the spirit
leave the body, whereas an out-of-body experience will happen
involuntarily. (See Out-of-Body Experience).
Astrology - The theory and practice of interpreting the
positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that
they have an influence on the course of natural earthly
occurrences and human affairs.
Aura – Invisible emanation of electromagnetic energy that
surrounds a person or thing; often thought to reflect a person’s
personality, health or emotional state; can be viewed by Kirlian
photography in color frequencies as with light.
Automatic Writing – This method of obtaining information from
disembodied spirits is used by mediums in which the spirit takes
control over the medium causing them to translate unconscious
information on paper without being aware of the contents.
Automatism – An unconscious or involuntary muscular movement
caused by spirits. (See Automatic Writing).
Autoscopy – The visual hallucination or image of one's body
looking back at themselves from a position outside the body.
(See Out-of-Body Experience).
Banshee – A wailing spirit or “death omen” that will appear to
be in two different places at the same time.
Case Study – An in-depth investigation of an individual subject.
Channeling – In this method of spirit communication, a spirit
will pass information directly to a medium or channeler who will
then relay the information on to the listener(s).
Clairalience - Ability
to perceive or experience odor outside the range of normal
olfactory sense. (See ESP) (For more information see section on
Types of ESP).
Clairaudience – An auditory form of ESP; paranormal information
is received outside the range of normal perception through
voices, whispers and auditory impressions. (See ESP) (For more
information see section on Types of ESP).
Clairgustance - Ability
to perceive or experience taste without putting anything in the
mouth. (See ESP) ( For more information see section on Types of
Clairsentience – Ability to perceive or experience the emotions
of others without the use of the normal five physical senses. A
general term for clairvoyance and clairaudience. (See ESP) (For
more information see section on Types of ESP).
Clairvoyance – An acute insight or perceptiveness that enables
one to see objects or events that cannot be perceived by the
senses; comes in the form of mental imagery and intuition. (See
ESP For more information see section on Types of ESP).
Contact Session - Period
of time in which paranormal investigators attempt to establish
communication with an entity.
Control – Procedure in paranormal psychology which ensures that
the experiment is conducted in a standard fashion so that
results will not be influenced by any extraneous factors.
Control Group – Group of outside subjects whose performance or
abilities are compared with the experimental subjects.
Collective Apparition - Rare type of sighting in which more than
one person sees the same apparition or phenomena.
Crisis Apparition – An apparition that is seen when a person is
seriously ill, seriously injured or at the point of death.
Dematerialization – Term used to describe a spirit or specter
losing apparent physical substance.
Déjà vu - An impression or dull familiarity of having seen or
experienced something before.
Demon - An inferior deity recognized by all religions but known
by differing names and physical descriptions; often spoken of in
religious text as pure evil; capable of human possession,
possessed of inhuman strength, malevolent and destructive.
Documented cases of demons are extremely rare.
Direct Voice Phenomenon (DVP) – An auditory “spirit” voice that
is spoken directly to the sitters at a séance.
Doppelganger – An exact spirit double or mirror image of a
person which is considered to be very negative.
Dowsing Rod - Simple
tool of metal or wood used to locate water, lost objects, energy
fields or in spirit communication. Established use has been
known for centuries but carries little or no weight within
current scientific arenas.
Earthbound – Term referring to a ghost or spirit that was unable
to cross over to the other side at the time of death and is
therefore stuck in this physical plane.
Ectoplasm – An immaterial or ethereal substance associated with
spirit manifestations. Often photographed as fog-like mist,
white masses or vortexes.
(EMF) - Energy field surrounding all things, both natural and
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Detector – (See Magnetometer)
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) – Voices and sounds from
beyond that are captured and recorded on magnetic tape or
digitally. Controversial in that many believe the sounds are
misinterpretations of natural phenomena or equipment artefacts.
Elementals – Term commonly referring to natural spirits. AKA
Entity - Any thing that
has a separate, distinct existence, though not necessarily
material in nature.
Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) - Communication or perception by
means other than the normal five physical senses. AKA "sixth
Exorcism - The banishment of an entity or entities (spirits,
ghosts, demons) that are thought to possess or haunt a location
or human being or animal. The ritual, which can be religious in
nature, is conducted by an exorcist who will call upon a Higher
Power to cast away any evil forces that may be present.
False Awakening – Event in which a person believes they are
awake but are actually dreaming.
Frank's Box -
Controversial invention which some believe allow "real-time"
communication with entities; works by continuously scanning AM
and FM radio frequencies from which broadcast syllables or words
are used by an entity to "speak". AKA "ghost box".
Ghost – Generic term referring to a form of apparition or
supernatural entity; typically the visual appearance of a
deceased human spirit.
Ghost Hunt – Carefully controlled research project in which
various methods and equipment are used to investigate reports of
ghosts and hauntings. Differs from an investigation in that no
intervention of the research team has been requested.
Ghoul – Demonic or parasitic entity that feeds upon human
Hallucination – Vivid perception of sights and/or sounds that
are not physically present. Usually associated with an altered
state of consciousness induced by alcohol, drugs, illness or
Haunting – Reoccurring ghostly phenomena that returns to a
location where no one is physically present. Ghosts generally
haunt places and not people. (See Intelligent and Residual
Hellhound – Spectral death omen in the form of a ghostly dog.
AKA "black shuck".
Hot Reading – Devious or fraudulent reading in which the reader
has been given prior knowledge of the sitter. (See Reading).
Hypnosis – Technique that induces a sleep-like state in which
the subject acts only on external suggestion.
Ignis fatuus - Phosphorescent or spectral light that that is
alleged to be an indication of death. This phenomenon is thought
to be caused by spontaneous combustion of gases emitted by
rotting organic matter. Popular in cultural and regional
folklore. AKA "coffin light' "corpse candle", "corpse light",
Illusion – A perception between what is perceived and what is
Infra-red Camera (IR
Camera) - Camera with incorporated infra-red technology that
allows photography or filming in low light conditions. AKA
"night vision camera".
thermometer (IR Thermometer) - Instrument with incorporated
infra-red technology that allows the measurement of both ambient
and surface temperatures without physically being in contact.
Extreme and rapid temperature change is believed to be an
indicator of paranormal activity.
Transcommunication (ITC) - Term used to describe the many ways
unexpected "spirit" voices can be collected through modern
technological methods. Includes EVP, white noise, video
Intelligent Haunting -
Case in which there is interaction on the physical plane as in
communication or object movement.
Intuition – Non-paranormal knowledge that is gained through
perceptive insight. AKA "gut feeling".
Carefully controlled research project in which various methods
and equipment are used to seek confirmation of reports of ghosts
or hauntings. Differs from a ghost hunt in that the research
team was requested to intervene.
K-II Meter - (See
Levitation – To lift or raise a physical object in apparent
defiance of gravity.
Life Review – Flashback of a person’s life that is typically
associated with near-death experiences.
Lucid Dreaming - Dream state in which one is conscious enough to
recognize that one is in the dream state and is then able to
control dream events.
Magnetometer (EMF meter, Gaussmeter) - Instrument for measuring
the magnitude and direction of a magnetic field; typically used
by paranormal researchers to detect a ghost’s magnetic energy.
Marian Apparition – Event in which the Virgin Mary is seen.
Materialization – The act of forming something solid from the
air. One of the most difficult and impressive materializations
is when part or all of a ghost or spirit can be seen, especially
if the face is recognizable.
Medium - Someone who professes to be able communicate with
spirits on behalf of another living being, acting as a midway
point halfway between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Mesmerism – Hypnotic induction of a sleep or trance state (See
Mist – Photographed anomaly that appears as a blanket of light.
There is no substantial proof that these are related to
Motor Automatism – Bodily movement or functions that are
accompanied but not controlled by consciousness (See Automatic
Near Death Experience (NDE) – Event that is reported by people
who clinically die, or come close to actual death and are
revived. These often include encounters with spirit guides,
seeing dead relatives or friends, life review, out-of-body
experiences (OBE), or a moment of decision where they are able
to decide or are told to turn back.
Old Hag Syndrome – Nocturnal phenomena that involves a feeling
of immobilization, suffocation, odd smells and feelings and is
sometimes accompanied by immense fear (See Sleep Paralysis).
Orb – Most commonly photographed anomaly that theoretically
represents the “spirit” of a deceased person. Often appears as a
ball of light on film though in some cases they are not seen at
the time of the photo. Differing characteristics include size,
color, density, shape, motion and flexibility. Since there are
many reasonable causes for their origin (dust, moisture,
insects, lens reflection, etc.) orbs remain highly
Orb Color Theory (OCT) -
Experimental concept that allows interpretation of an orb's
"emotional" state or meaning by its primary color
Ouija Board - A pre-printed board with letters, numerals, and
words used to receive spirit communications. Typically a
planchette, a triangular or heart-shaped pointer, is employed to
spell out words or messages and point out numbers or letters.
Many believe the controversial board is a gateway allowing
negative entities into the physical plane while others believe
it no more harmful than any other board game. AKA "spirit
board", "talking board". The board's name is derived from
the French and German words for 'yes'.
Out-of-body experience (OBE or OOBE) – Sensation or experience
in which one's self or spirit travels to a different location
other than their physical body (See Astral Projection and Near
Paranormal – Term referring to something that is beyond the
range of normal human experience or scientific explanation.
Parapsychology - The study of the evidence for psychological
phenomena that are inexplicable by science.
Psychological phenomena whereby random and vague stimuli are
perceived as being significant. Common examples include finding
images of animals or faces in clouds, the "man in the moon" or
hearing "hidden messages" in reversed audio recordings. (See
Percipient - Person who sees (perceives) an apparition.
Phantom - Something that is seen, heard and/or sensed, but has
no physical reality (See Ghost).
Poltergeist - Non-human
spirit entity which literally means "noisy ghost" but is usually
more malicious and destructive than ghosts of deceased humans.
Traditional poltergeist activities are thumping and banging,
levitation or movement of objects, stone throwing and starting
fires. It is thought that poltergeist activity in some instances
may be brought on subconsciously by an adolescent agent, females
under the age of 25 or by individuals under extreme emotional
duress. Documented cases of poltergeists are relatively few.
Precognition – Ability to predict or have knowledge of an event
in advance of its occurrence, especially by extrasensory
perception (See Clairvoyance).
Psi – Twenty-third letter in the Greek alphabet use to denote
Psychic - Term used to describe a person who has above average
ESP abilities or paranormal powers; term used to describe forces
of a paranormal nature.
Psychokinesis (PK) - The power of the mind to affect matter
without physical contact, especially in inanimate and remote
objects by the exercise of psychic powers.
Psychometry - The ability or art of divining information about
people or events associated with an object solely by touching or
being near to it.
Pyrokinesis – The ability to unconsciously control and sometimes
in rare cases produce fire with their mind only.
Radio Voice Phenomenon (RVP) - Receiving the voice of a deceased
human being through a regular radio.
Reading - Session during
which a medium or psychic reveals information to a sitter
through various means such as astrology, palmistry or tarot
Reciprocal Apparition - Extremely rare type of spirit phenomenon
in which both the agent and percipient are able to see and
respond to each other.
Remote Viewing – Used by some psychics, a procedure in which the
percipient or psychic attempts to become physically aware of the
experience of an agent who is at a distant, unknown location
Residual Haunting - Case
in which an event or scene is re-enacted and is not affected by
any external influences.
Retrocognition – Experience in which a person finds themselves
in the past and is able to see and experience events of which
they had no prior knowledge.
Séance - Meeting or gathering of people, usually lead by a
medium, to receive spiritualistic messages, manifestations of
and/or communication with the dead.
Sensitive - Term
referring to persons who possess extrasensory talents.
Shadow People -
Shadow-like entities most often seen in one's peripheral vision.
Differs from ghosts in that recognizable characteristics like
facial features or clothing are lacking. Very frequently
sightings are accompanied by feelings of dread, menace or
threat. AKA "shadow beings", "shadow folk", "shadow ghosts".
Shaman – A member of
certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the
visible world and an invisible spirit world and who practices
magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and
control over natural events.
Simulacra – Term used to describe the faces, figures and images
in ordinary, everyday object such as clouds, rocks, foliage,
etc. (See Pareidolia).
Sleep Paralysis - Form
of paralysis often striking as a person falls asleep, awakens or
moves into or out of the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of
sleep. (See Old Hag Syndrome).
Specter – A ghostly apparition; a phantom (See Ghost).
Spiritualism - The belief system that the dead are able to
communicate with the living, most often through an intermediary
Stigmata – Unexplained bodily marks, sores, or sensations of
pain corresponding in location to the crucifixion wounds of
Subjective Apparition – Hallucination of apparitions or other
phenomena that are created by our own minds.
Supernatural - Of or relating to existence outside the natural
world. As opposed to paranormal, the term "supernatural" often
connotes divine or demonic intervention.
Telekinesis - The paranormal movement of objects by
scientifically inexplicable means.
Telepathy – Communication from one mind to another through means
other than the senses.
Teleportation - Method of transportation in which matter or
information is dematerialized, usually instantaneously, at one
point and recreated at another.
Thought Form – An apparition produced solely by the power of the
Trance - A hypnotic, cataleptic, or ecstatic state in which one
becomes detached from their physical surroundings.
Vortex – An anomaly that appears as a funnel or rope-like image
in photographs. Sometimes thought to represent ghosts,
collections of orbs or gateways which travel to a wormhole in
time-space, there is no substantial scientific evidence to
support any of these theories.
White Noise – An acoustical or electrical noise of which the
intensity is the same at all frequencies within a given band.