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The Illinois Ghost Society

Paranormal Glossary of terms used


Afterlife -  Many cultures believe that after one dies they are born into another life similar to ours.  There are people that believe we are reborn and live other lives on this planet. It is also referred to as The Other Side and The Great Beyond

Amulet – A charm that is used as protection from malevolent ghosts, demons and supernatural powers. It is usually made from silver, gold, platinum and gems. Jewelry and religious items are considered amulets.

Anomaly - An irregular or unusual event that doesn't fit a standard rule or law. An anomaly is something which cannot be explained by accepted Scientific theories. Anything weird, abnormal, strange, odd or difficult to classify.

Apparitions – The most sought after phenomenon in the paranormal investigation community. They are basically the transparent image of a person who has died. The apparition will usually be followed by a scent or a sound , such as perfume or the sound of footsteps. It is believed that an apparition will make its presence known where there is a high electro-magnetic field or surge.

Astral Being - Another term that is used for a ghost or a spirit.

Astral Plane - A world researchers believe exists beyond our world. The otherside.

Bogeyman - Everyone who has seen Halloween, Nightmare on Elm St. and so forth have heard that term. It is based on the British legend  a Bogey is thought to be an evil spirit that causes mischief and only appears at night.

Buruburu- I found this to be an interesting one. It is based on Japanese legend, it is a spirit that hides out in graveyards and forests, posing as an old man or woman. It then attaches itself to the backs of the living and causes a chill to run up and down they’re spine. So you might want to think about this one the next time you are on an investigation and report that you just got a chill up and down your spine.

Channeling - A process by which a psychic/medium allows a spirit to communicate  thru his or her person.

Clairvoyant – A person who has ESP powers to see things that we don't. They have no control over what they see or how long the vision will last.  It is a French word for “Clear Seeing”, also the mind’s eye.

Demons – Evil spirits who were never human beings that can enter a home by means of a Ouija Board or through a medium at a séance. They are said to attach themselves to a person and not necessarily the home and will follow the person wherever they go. A theorized sign that a demon is present is said to be three scratch marks on ones body.

Doppelganger – A double or apparition of a living person. The doppelganger is an exact duplicate of a living person, down to their same clothes, hair style and feel. They are thought to be omens of death or out of body phenomenon. Other people don't even know they are communicating with one.

Ectoplasm – The term is derived from Greek, ectos meaning outside and plasma meaning something formed or molded. It is believed to be the formation of a spirit entity or ghost. Science does not regard ectoplasms as paranormal, while some paranormal researchers have asserted ectoplasms to be an enabling factor in psychokinesis. Photos of what look like mist has been thought to be actual ectoplasm and the formation of a ghost.

Electromagnetic Fields – As electrical current travels thru wiring or into an appliance it produces an electromagnetic field. It consists of the ever present electrical field(even when the appliance is turned off) and the magnetic field when the appliance is turned on. While the electric field is believed to be harmless, the magnetic field it thought to cause health problems. In the paranormal community we believe an excessive amount will cause a person to feel ill (nausea, chills etc.) , paranoia and other feelings that might be mistaken for paranormal activity.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon – Also called EVP,  the process of recording a spirit voice on a digital voice recorder.  During an investigation a series of questions are asked with space for an answer is left. During review sometimes a response will be heard.  The voice recorder can also be left in an empty room while the investigators are at different locations.  On occasion a voice can be heard by the investigators in real time during the EVP session.

EMF detector – A device that is used by paranormal investigators to determine Electromagnetic fields in areas that people believe are haunted. Investigators get base readings at the start of an investigation in order to determine if there are electromagnetic fields prior to investigating. There are different types of meters, KII, Ghost Meter and Tri-Field just to name a few.

Exorcism – The process or ritual that is used to remove a spirit, ghost or demon that is possessing a person or a place. A priest is usually called in to do an exorcism.

Ghost – The spirit of a once living person who either died violently or didn’t know that they died. Possibly the person had unfinished business or didn’t want to leave someone. A ghost is believed to remain in the place that they died or were killed, but some cases state that an entity followed them to different places. They are generally not dangerous or to be feared.

Ghost Hunt - An informal investigation to find evidence of the paranormal in a location where no activity has been reported.

Haunting - The recurring sounds of human activity, apparitions and paranormal phenomona at a location where no one is physically there.

Intelligent Haunting – There are two different types of haunting. An intelligent haunting is when communication can be made with the spirit or entity. This is usually done with EVP sessions or if the investigator can ask questions and then get an immediate response, it is usually through a response by a sound or a reading on a tri-field meter or KII meter.

Malevolent – A spirit is often considered malevolent when a malicious supernatural force causes or can cause bodily harm to a person by pushing or scratching them.

Materialization – In the paranormal field and in religion the term materialization refers to the creation or manifestation of solid matter from an unknown source. It is the transformation of something abstract or virtual into something concrete or tangible.

Medium - A practice by which a person with psychic ability acts as an intermediary between the physical world and the spiritual world.

Mist - An anomaly usually photographed but not seen at the time the photo was taken. A smokey form that is presumed to be a ghost or spirit.

Orbs – Orbs are  believed to be balls of energy or spirits not yet materialized. They are usually captured on photographs and occasionally seen with the naked eye. Orbs are usually multi-colored or different solid colors such as blue or green or red, in some photos they appear to be moving and leave a vapor trail and can be very bright. Skeptics believe they are specks of dust or moisture droplets.

Paranormal Investigation - Unlike a ghost hunt an investigation is a carefully controlled research experiment to record paranormal activity in a location with reported activity and presumed to be haunted.

 Poltergeist – Comes from German poltem , which means “to rumble” and geist which means “ghost” or “spirit” denotes an ostensibly paranormal phenomenon attributed to the presence of an invisible entity that manifests itself by creating noise or moving objects. Poltergeist manifestations have been reported in many cultures such as The United States, United Kingdom, India and Japan.

Psychic - A person that has above average ESP abilities.

Residual Haunting - Repeated playbacks of auditory, visual, olfactory, and other sensory phenomena that are attributed to a traumatic event, life-altering event, or a routine event of a person or place, like an echo or a replay of a videotape of past events.

Seance - A ritual where a group of people gather together at a table and try to communicate with the otherside. They are usually conducted by a psychic/medium.

Skeptic - A person who believes there is a logical explanation for reported paranormal activity. They are critical of paranormal research.

Smudging – A ritual used to remove negative energy from a home by burning sage in each room and reciting a prayer or chant to expel unwanted spirits, or negative energy. It is often referred to as a cleansing.

Spirit – See ghost.

Trigger Object - A toy or a prop used to try and bring out a spirit. A ball or a toy is used to communicate with a child spirit, A personal object belonging to a person is used to bring forth an adult spirit.Vortex - It is believed to be a hole or break in the time/space continuum. A gateway for spirits from the otherside to enter our world. They appear in photographs as a dark funnel like anomaly not visible to the naked eye