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Ghosts have many forms, names

October 10, 2013
Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - Sprits can be defined in several ways.

Susan Sheppard, a local author and psychic medium and founder of the Haunted Parkersburg Tours, said the definitions of the different types of ghosts have changed.

"Explanations may change 10 to 15 years down the road, along with different theories and the whys and whens and what for," she said.

Sheppard said the most common is the poltergeist, which is German for rapping spirit or noisy ghost.

"They are not the ghost of a dead person," she said. "Usually with poltergeist haunting they seem to be sporadic and unleashed psychic energy."

Sheppard said when she goes into a home with poltergeist activity she explains what can happen.

Fact Box

  • Poltergeist - German for noisy ghost or rapping spirit. They are common in households, but are so subtle not all victims recognize them as paranormal. They are not spirits or ghosts, but often appear where other hauntings are reported.
  • Imprint haunting - Also called residual haunting, is defined as energy left over after a person dies. They appear as spirit recordings where ghosts are seen to be doing the same over and over again.
  • Intelligent or interactive - They will try to convey some sort of message either by saying something or by an expression.

Definition of Spirits

* Non- human - Demons or angels

* Shadow people - They appear as a shadow with no distinct features and no personality. It is usually not friendly.

* Apparitions - Usually a ghost with an identity or personality the living can recognize or see. Solid apparitions are rare. Crisis apparitions are those appearing at the time of their death to a relative to announce their death or they just appear.

"Objects will be thrown across the room, lamps may swing, objects will be misplaced and there will be rapping sounds," she said. "There was a famous case in England where a cane would go over the top of a bed."

Sheppard said a poltergeist tends to appear in homes with adolescents.

"Some think it may be some sort of uncontrolled psychic energy," she said. "We had them in my home when I was a teenager and we went through that."

Sheppard said poltergeist activity goes along the same lines of other types of hauntings.

"There are two important types of hauntings," she said. "One is an imprint haunting, sometimes called spirit recordings or place hauntings and the other intelligent, interactive ghost or spirit."

Sheppard said the first type is simply a recording of past events.

"They condition on the anniversary of an event, the scene is played back," she said. "Some of the most famous ones would be in Gettysburg. Usually the way you tell an imprint haunting is it will be the same thing over and over again, in the same room, the same spot. It can be the anniversary and even the same time."

Sheppard said sometimes you may see people and they can fade away. She said there is no consciousness to them.

"There is a possibility physics maybe able to explain them someday," she said, "Those are probably the most common, types of haunting, I'd say 80 to 85 percent."

Interactive ghosts or spirits are the spirit or soul of someone who has passed on, she said.

"They will appear in different spots and in different ways," she said. "Sometimes they will try to convey some type of message, either they will say something or make some sort of expression They are very solid and real, no transparent quality. Only when it fades do you realize you have encountered a spirit.

"Almost all of them are not dangerous."

Sheppard said at times a haunting may be a mixture of poltergeists, imprint haunting and interactive ghosts.

Another types of ghosts or spirits are non-human.

"They are actually angels or demons, it varies," she said. "There is another type called shadow people that only appear as a person in a shadow form. They show no features, if they do they usually have red eyes."

Sheppard said they are not believed to have existed as people.

"They are probably trying to mimic human beings," she said. "Some think they are not only non-human but malevolent in some way."

Sheppard said the malevolent spirits are not strong.

"They are not like what you see in movies," she said. "For movies they have been made to look bad and it is a natural human thing to fear the unknown and to fear death. It's a reflex almost."

Sheppard said the hold of a malevolent spirit made be psychological not physical, but they cannot kill people.

When people go on ghost hunts, Sheppard said they may be disappointed because they may not see anything.

"You don't expect to see a ghost," she said. "Some of the most dramatic spirit encounters are almost always when you don't expect them and you are not looking for them."

Sheppard said sighting do not have to be at night.

"They can be during the day," she said. "Sightings of Margaret Blennerhassett have been during the day."

Spirits that can seen are also called apparitions, but there are also apparitional smells. She said most hauntings begin with odors that are out of place.

"Hauntings start out very subtle, smells like perfume or freshly cur flowers or cigar smoke or anything associated with that person in life," she said. "The next would be misplaced objects, you will look for it and then a few days later you see it on the center of a table or other obvious place."

They also include sounds, like people walking around or hearing your name called. She said seeing an apparition is very, very rare, she said.

"A crisis apparition is an interesting apparition," she said.

"This one is seen a lot during war times, when a person passes away they will appear at the time of their death to a relative to announce their death or they just appear. They were very common during the Civil War, World War I and World War II."

Sheppard said the interesting thing about spirits is they may be more likely to be caught on a camera than with the naked eye.

"One of the most amazing ghost picture I've every seen was taken on our ghost tour at 13th and Juliana streets," she said. "It was at three little white houses. It looked like a young black civil war soldier, but it was taken with a cell phone so the pictures is pixilated. Those houses were the servant quarters for the Van Winkle house and they didn't have slaves," she said. "They could have been from Quincy Hill where they had the black troops and the immigrant Irish." Sheppard said an expert examined the picture and said the uniform appeared to be more like a confederate soldier than union.



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