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About Ghosts, Poltergeists & Hauntings   - What Are Ghosts?
Some web sites confidently state the definition of a ghost as if it were fact rather than belief, however this isn't currently possible to scientifically prove, & if it were then there would be no ghost investigators and no mystery surrounding the subject.  The fact is there are many opinions and theories, and the diversity in views of our members reflects this.  Some are adamant these are spirits of the dead, whereas others are skeptical and state materialistic explanations, so for the purposes of this web site we will only lay out the most common ideas or theories for general information only, lay out what is speculation and what is known, and will leave the conclusions up to individual members.

The definition per the Concise Oxford English Dictionary of the word "Ghost" is: " 1. An apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear to the living, typically as a nebulous image.  archaic  a spirit or soul.  Origin: Old English gast, of Germanic origin."

What do ghosts look like?   There have been as many ideas about this as sightings reported.   Some appear as living people and totally solid, some as transparent shades or mists, spirit lights or "orbs".  Others are hideous demons, headless victims, grinning skulls or cowled wraiths and more have even been described much as the traditional halloween or "Scooby Doo" ghost, like a sheet with two holes cut for eyes! Several types of apparitions & phenomena have been reported through time, each with their different explanations. Where family members & relations have been seen, often they are reported much as they were remembered by the viewer, possibly in order to assist their recognition, although sometimes they have appeared younger or physically well, whereas before death they were sickening.   If the ghost has apparently been a re-enactment of a violent death or murder, it has appeared grisly, emotionally traumatised or in pain as in the original incident.

Following are some of the main types of ghost and apparition which are most common & the theories behind them, as reported in sightings, stories and tradition:

In the case of battle scenes, traumatic events such as bombings, murders, fights or violent deaths, the incidents are reported as seen or sensed on or near the anniversary of the original incident, or alternatively simply at times when the environment is similar such as due to weather, light or if a similar event is taking place again.   In these cases, several characters may be heard or witnessed replaying the original scene, as if they are acting out a play in full drama.  Sounds, smells, voices, sounds of horses and carts or engines have been replayed and on some occasions sensitive people have felt the emotion of the drama, saying they felt sick or sad, or fear.   The Everything Ghost team have had direct reports from witnesses of experiences such as the nightly activities of ghostly smugglers at Jamaica Inn, or the re-enactment of a civil war battle at Edgehill or the battle of Sedgemoor.  Duels of fighting men have also been repeated over and over.    Some believe these characters to be actual beings, or spirits who are trapped within the incident, trapped in time and destined to relive the trauma over and over again until released by exorcism, or the work of a medium or other communication which can trip the circuit of replay.  Another theory behind these repeated apparitions who don't seem to recognise or interact with the living is the "stone tape theory".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this case the being appears to be reaching out in some way to their loved ones or a family member, trying to communicate that they are alright, or to let them know what happened, or even just because they are in a state of confusion and lash out to reach for someone they know and general stability.  

Another similar type of ghost will be a recently deceased person who is simply trying to get through to his family or friends to tell them something, tell them he is OK and not to grieve, or let them know something important. These ghosts may not "move on" due to having such fixed attention on needing to communicate and wrap up incomplete cycles of action from their previous life.  They are desperate to "get through" and may try to communicate with knocks, bangs, moving objects, smells, presences or actual apparitions.

Such ghosts or spirits may haunt an area of their murder and try to get through to the family member to let them know what happened.  Famous mediums such as Doris Stokes claim to have communicated with such spirits, retrieved information about the crime and been able to help police and relieve the situation with the family so they no longer desperately need to communicate.

This is one of the most well known and frequently reported type of paranormal phenomena, although there are different theories as to the cause and not all are ascribed to ghosts per se.   The word literally means "noise ghost" coming from the German words "poltern" and "geist".    Phenomena is that of noise such as knocks, bangs, disembodied voices, music and moving objects ranging from a button moving across a table to doors slamming and beds levitating, or even the sleeping occupants thrown about and destruction of the entire contents of a room when no one is present, the occupiers of a house finding them piled up in disarray.   

 

An alternative view is a theory that these "ghosts" are not spiritual beings at all, but "residual energy" which has accumulated within an area due to past emotional charge and the aggression of the original incident.   Energy would normally flow and disperse away from an area, but in this case it becomes suspended as standing waves, or as a form of static and hence does not fully discharge, very similar to the static on a TV screen which remains after the unit is switched off.   This static or suspended energy was not originally discharged due to the conflict of emotions and different energies clashing together in a ball to form an encystment of static and force which then continues to "hang around" to pervade the area.  In the case of this theory the energy winds up being stored within the material of the environment, most often quoted as being stone walls or floors in the environment which acts much as a recording tape.   When an approximation of the original event or environment occurs, this stimulates the "residual energy" to become released and discharged for a short time and hence the replay of the incident can be sensed by those perceptive enough, or if there is enough force for many viewers to sense or see the recurrence.  

In this case, the very walls and matter of a room or building can become infused or charged with the past emotions and conflicts of the past, imbibing the area with a sense of its past trauma which sensitive people may later "read" mentally or may be emotionally affected.  This is a similar theory to that of "psychometry", as defined by Spiritualists and sensitives, who claim to be able to read the emotions and history of an object that has been owned by a person whose mental attitudes and life dramas have become infused in some way and recorded into the object in question.   The argument here is that a building or room where a murder or trauma such as a battle has taken place is similarly infused with emotional charge and residual energy, but on a much larger scale to the degree that the building becomes "haunted" by such replays and re-stimulation of these past traumatic events when the conditions are right & matching the original.  The question is, are visitors just getting their sense of the past of a place & emotional impressions from logical and conventional means such as the obvious sensory & psychological triggers and historical artifacts in the environment?

 the vail
Poltergeists
poltergeist
blackdog
Sometimes these ghosts can be similar to the residual stone tape ghosts, in that they will continually re-enact the routine they had in life, carrying out their duties or even re-enacting a murder or trauma, to the extent that a living person may have nightmares or grisly visits.  There have been reports of people re-experiencing aspects of a traumatic murder, feeling hands around their throat or intimidation, hearing screams in the night or feeling terror, and later they have discovered a murder has occurred within their bedroom in the past.    Such incidents are not confined to sightings or sounds, but ghostly smells such as rotten flesh, smoke or blood has sometimes been detected by such claimants.   Within this group of ghosts are also those who are stuck in an area until they make amends, or carry out a particular purpose.    One famous story from Elm in Norfolk is of a monk called Brother Ignatius who haunted a house which had been an old monastery building. He was a benign ghost who walked the corridors and the lady owner managed to talk to him, finding him to be a sad figure who felt guilty as he fell asleep while on watch, and his brother monks consequently died in a fire.   There was a second evil ghost haunting a room in the house that was barely used, people would wake up feeling threatened or attacked by a psychotic entity.   
Tandy then investigated a haunted tourist information room in Coventry Cathedral which is located above a medieval cellar, where visitors had reported similar feelings of unease, or the sense of a presence.   He placed sound recording equiptment in the room and found similar 19Hz infrasound waves to exist in the location.   In May 2003 another experiment was conducted by Richard Wiseman and John Lord whereby they staged a concert for 750 people while playing infrasound to the audience while playing two pieces of music.   After the concert a survey was carried out that found 22% of the audience reported experiences of unease, chills, revulsion and fear when the sounds were added to the music.
 

About Ghosts, Poltergeists & Hauntings

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What we can confidently say about ghosts as a fact is this: there are vast quantities of reports, sightings and anecdotal accounts of ghosts, apparitions or hauntings, from hundreds of thousands if not millions of people spanning the entirety of recorded history and leaving out no culture known to man.  This is a subject that has continued to fascinate, mystify, frighten and inspire all peoples since the dawn of time.    In this modern age, despite eminent proponents of theories that man is merely an evolved collection of cells springing entirely from matter, and that the brain can be materialistically manipulated with chemicals to induce hallucinations or experiences such as out of the body phenomena commonly thought of as paranormal, yet modern men & women numbering thousands continue to doubt and search for spiritual explanations with their ghost hunts and investigations.   Their argument and that of equally eminent proponants of a spiritual causation, is that whereas experiments with chemicals and drugs can induce certain phenomena, these do not axiomatically prove all paranormal phenomena and experience are similarly caused.   Hence ghosts and the paranormal are also subjects which have split the opinions of men into two camps, the search goes on, and there continues to be a polarity of "believers" who require no proof and "sceptics" to this technologically advanced day, as there always has been.    Then there are others who are "open minded" or wait to discover if science will reveal a physical or engineering explanation to various ghostly phenomena, while not eliminating the possibility of the existence of spiritual beings.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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Repeating & Cyclic Apparitions
ghost on stairs

The famous "Brown Lady of Raynham Hall" is reported to have walked the grand stairway in such a fashion.   

We have heard witness accounts of a knight in armour upon a horse walking down a moonlit road which cuts deeply through steep rocks, with the horse's hooves walking at shoulder height to the witness.   Investigation later revealed the road to be much higher in medievel times, which seems to indicate this knight was walking as if caught in the past.

There are also many reported sightings of Roman legionaires on Bodmin Moor and in the depths of York Minster or along Hadrians Wall, who march through walls on an ancient road oblivious of the living.   Similarly, Civil War soldiers repeat their unending battles at certain times of year or weathers, as do squaddies in Flanders trenches or medievel monks in Abbeys, even giving to place names such as "Monk's Walk".

During our investigations we have often heard reports that a particular apparition will only appear during certain conditions of the environment, or at particular times of the year.   The apparition is usually seen to follow a path or move in the same way, through particular rooms or areas often seemingly oblivious to living witnesses, going about their business as if held in time.    A particular stairway or corridor may be their "haunt" which they walk at a particular time of night or season of the year.   They may pass through walls as if there were invisible doors, or even walk down invisible staircases, and in research it is found a staircase existed many years ago but has since been removed.   Sometimes these ghosts do not notice the living and pass by or through whatever is in their way, including living people who report feeling chilled if they have had such an unfortunate encounter.
spectre2

Or, as the mediums and sensitives would say, are they using more intuitive and ancient psychic abilities that are inherent in everyone to tune into the past and tap into the residual energies imbibed into the walls?  People who get flashbacks, emotional senstivities and images and are somehow able to "read" and "know" a building's past without having visited or researched the area.   Where the imprint is strong enough and when enough energy is released in replay of the original event, then the theory goes that ordinary non psychic people have experienced the haunted re-enactments and even crowds such as audiences who have witnessed theatre ghosts at the theatre at Drury Lane, London.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

static
haunted room
The Stone Tape Theory
Ghosts That Interact With The Living

It is the stone tape theory which has been used to explain how these types of apparition do not recognise the living nor do they interact or communicate, but may be seen to pass through walls where previously there may have been a door, or to walk inches or several feet above or below the current flooring which is changed from past times.   By this theory, they are not actually there at all in real time, and are not spirits but electrical phenomena and are just a "shade of the past" in the same way that a video recording captures an event.   

It also must be noted that sometimes a haunted location may begin by being very "active", with many and regular sightings of such a dramatic event, but over time the sightings become fewer and the images weaker until only smells or the odd sounds or emotional "atmosphere" of the environment remain.  With these, over time once realistic and lifelike apparitions become mere shades or shadows, the theory being that the residual energy has dissipated over time.   Eventually there may be no apparition appearing at all, merely lights, sounds or an "atmosphere" to a site or building.

Ghost Figures
Sometimes paranormal investigators have deliberately attempted to stimulate such replays of residual energy by attending vigils on the night of the anniversary of a battle or murder, or they have attempted to synthetically re-create the conditions or environment by playing music of the time, placing objects that would have significance to the event, or visiting a battlefield after re-enactors have visited the day before.    Their hope would be to encourage the event to recur, using such "trigger objects" as a similar sword to that used in duel, or a similar cross held by monks in an abbey.
Other Types of Ghosts & Legends
There are many theories behind the phenemena including a traditional explanation that this is a disturbed spirit, or lesser being or entity who in some way latches onto a living person, typically a teenager or emotional person, or someone who is particularly psychic or mediumistic but who has not learned to control or develop their skill hence acts as an "open door" to discarnate entities of all kinds, including tormented souls or primitive unevolved beings from "lower realms".    In such a case, it is often not the place or building which is haunted but the person who has attracted the phenomena, so as he or she moves house to escape he brings the trouble with him to the new location.   Luckily and frequently, the phenomena is not inclined to last a long time and may be extremely active for a few weeks or months and then dissipate or just cease as suddenly as it began.   The most famous British case of such a poltergeist has to be the "Enfield Poltergeist" which plagued a family in London, and which was thoroughly and competently investigated by SPR members Guy Lyon Playfair and Maurice Grosse.   A full and fascinating account of this investigation is given in Playfair's book "This House Is Haunted"

Another traditional explanation has been that of possession by demons, famously portrayed in the film The Exorcist.   Yet other theories ascribing paranormal causation do not endorse the concept that this is a spirit, demon or ghost causing the phenomena and such explain that a ghost is merely an apparition, whereas a poltergeist involves energy and force used often in a malevolent or mischievous way to wreck havoc.  This energy may in some way be unleashed from the mind or body of the affected teenager directly rather than be caused by another spirit.   One point to counter this from the Enfield case is that the girl involved began speaking in a gruff male London voice, claiming to be a previous occupant of the house who had died there, and gave reasons for haunting the girl and area.    The voice described aspects of his life, where he died and what he died of that could not have been known to the family or the girl, named Janet, which later were researched and found to be factual by the investigators.  Sceptics would claim there is no evidence that Janet didn't find out this information herself in some way, however factually if this were the case she was talking with the gruff male voice for such a long time that her vocal chords would not have been able to maintain this without damage had the voice been her own and if she were acting the part.

However, whereas an entity or spirit appears to be involved in this case, this is not always the case with this phenomena, which is otherwise ascribed to the human affected by parapsychologists, physicists and other theorists such as Nandor Fodor, A. D. Cornell, William Roll and Alan Gould.   The theory in this case is the strong emotions of puberty and mental conflicts that can occur at this stage of life can unleash powerful forces and phenomena which in some way influence the environment for a time, causing chaos.    Still other theorists are even more sceptical and cite all cases to date can not be upheld as genuine and may be fraudulently caused by the teenager or family concerned, although reputable witnesses, in some cases even journalists and police who have seen bodies and objects thrown around a room have strongly disagreed.  Roll also postulated that such strong and violent emotions could cause psychokinetic phenomena spontaneously, unleashing energy from the unconscious mind.   In this case, these phenomena are more likely to occur in areas of buildings which have been exposed to strong emotions or trauma in the past and so are emotionally charged locations acting as triggers, as similar to the stone tape theory.

Another sceptical theory is that this phenomena is naturally caused by underground streams, bad piping, electrical phenomena & EMF fields and built up static that is later discharged, or even passing lorries and trains (although if you have ever seen a bed jump in the air or someone levitate due to a train passing, please report!).   The thing that can be definitely said about the phenomena is that it definitely exists, has been well documented and recorded by many witnesses, although opinions differ greatly on the cause.   We have found the correct thing to do in any investigation is to look for the natural and usual explanations first as in many cases there will be environmental reasons for a variety of noises or vibrations , while also realising that if, for example, a train line is nearby this also doesn't prove that this is definitely the cause of any phenomena. 

 

Infrasound And The Paranormal - A Sceptic's Argument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Tandy brought a metal tool the lab for repair.  This began vibrating when he clamped it in a vice, which was frightening but encouraged Tandy to investigate, so he began moving the blade to different places in the lab.  Vibrations continued in the center of the lab, but ceased elsewhere near the edge of the room..

Tandy then discovered that a 19Hz standing wave existed in room. This was bounced back on itself by the walls of the room, creating a region of intense energy in the middle of the room so strong that it could vibrate these blades.  On further investigation he found the cause of the wave was a new fan that had been installed at the far end of the room, which when switched off caused the sonic wave to cease, as did all the other phenomena that people had been experiencing. This has since led to other experimentation which has so far shown that humans can be influenced by such waves of energy that are not audible in the usual sense and yet they experience the pressure of the wave, apparently then causing various perceptions that can lead to a sense of unease.  

Infrasound waves exist everywhere, in the "ether" around the earth and in rooms or around objects, and is naturally caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, violent storms and avalanches.   Modern life and technology has vastly increased their pervasion of human living, as sources of infrasound include any wave lower in frequency than 20 Hz, including those emitted by supersonic aircraft, car engines or any vibrating manmade structure.   Humans may not "hear" this, but detect it in other ways, and if the person is especially sensitive he may also be susceptible to car sickness or other disturbance from these pervading waves.

It the Sceptic's argument that this is the answer to such phenomena and is an entirely natural explanation for all manner of spooky experiences, ghost phenomena et al.  Similar argumentation has been made by sceptics of Out of the Body Experiences as a feeling of being outside one's body has be produced in a laboratory with the use of mirrors placed around a person's head giving them the impression that they are behind it.  The question now is, is this entirely and only the reason for such perceptions at haunted locations or during reportedly paranormal experiences?   

There have also been reports of a person "dreaming" that he is in a location, seeing relatives or friends while his body sleeps elsewhere, and he has been seen by them at the time. These are fundamentally a similar manifestation as the doppelganger effect, of which stories abound since ancient times.   Could this be that a person is indeed able to leave his body, or project part of himself, his mental attention, identity or mind to a remote location, compulsively and involuntarily as in a dream or otherwise, where he could on occasion"mock up" his identity as an image so he may be viewed as an apparition by others?   If so, then we then have an entirely different type of "ghost" that is similar to a crisis apparition but in this case it is the living person but not necessarily in trauma, merely performing an ability that appears to be inherent in him as a spiritual being of forgotten and much greater mental and spiritual capability than traditionally conceived by modern man.   Ancient man, however would not find information of such abilities revelatory, as legends abound of the ability if the spirit to travel and appear to others, or to project the mind throughout the millennia and exist today in Aboriginal cultures, as well those of the American Indians, Ancient Egypt and the Shamans of North America and Asia.

Black Dog Ghosts And Legends

Some later religions such as Tibetan Buddhism, some forms of witchcraft and even some modern religions and sects cite this to be natural ability of man as a spiritual being which he may have forgotten and buried, but yet can regain again with training and dedicated practice.

The Phantom Hitchhiker

 

The same questions could be asked: if one can simulate any experience artificially, even that of sitting in an airplane cockpit and make it appear identical to the original, does that make the original experience a pilot has in an airplane cease to exist? Does it prove all such experiences have the same cause as the simulated one?  The conclusion reached is yes, these experiments prove such feelings can be simulated artificially, but there is no evidence to support a claim that all such experiences are thus caused in every case.   Of course in the case of infra sound, the point appears to be proven that: yes, infrasound can produce bizarre and eerie experiences in humans similar to those reported in "haunted" locations, which shows they are perceptive to more than the usual 5 senses and are influenced by different wavelengths than audible sound. Infrasound is a natural phenomena.  However, the next question is: are ALL paranormal experiences caused by infrasound? Have there ever been any actual apparitions caused by this and does this serve as an adequate explanation?   As no apparitions were seen in these experiments, the conclusion has to be that this has not been proven by this theory.   The second question is: if infrasound is causing such perceptions (or other wavelengths we as yet do not realise also influence a human being), does this then scientifically eliminate spiritual, ghostly or other paranormal causation?    Or does it in turn eliminate the explanation postulated by the stone tape theory?   Or, is it possible that infrasound may also be a subproduct of such paranormal, ghostly, spiritual or other causation such as that outlined in the stone tape theory?   Could these in turn cause infrasound or that particular wavelength as a biproduct?  A knock, bang or smell, cold spots and lights are often seen in "haunted" locations and may well be entirely natural manifestations caused by objects and energy moving.   But, the question will always be: what is causing it?   Is there another causation back of this?    In other words, because the phenomena of infrasound or high wavelengths exist, even if they exist in all "spooky" incidents and experiences, is it possible this natural phenomena is also being caused by a paranormal source where one hasn't managed to isolate a simple obvious factor such as a fan which can be switched on and off?

These questions remain unanswered and unfortunately we remain where we started with insufficient evidence to conclude an answer to satisfy either believers or sceptics of the paranormal, although infrasound is a fascinating phonomena and no doubt further research will be done.   More information on the actual experimentation and theory behind this can be found on these links:   http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources/ghost-in-machine.pdf and http://www.spacedog.biz/Infrasonic/sounds/infrasonic.

  
Similar stories and accounts of such ghosts span the globe, from Mexico to the Middle East, and abound in Europe and the USA.   In England these ghosts are reported everywhere. One is of a girl who took a ride on a motorbike on the Coast Road in Newcastle and disappeared from behind the driver while he took her home.   Another similar story at the other endof the country exists in Cornwall.   Sometimes the hitchhiker is benign, helping and counselling the driver who was feeling suicidal, sometimes preventing a fatal accident, and in these accounts sometimes the tale is told with the hiker being an angelic spirit.   Other times they are evil or frightening, or may include replay of sights and sounds of the original car crash in which the hitchhiker died, re-enacting the event & making a terrifying experience for the current day driver.  Another such malevolent passenger is reported to fortell doom and death before vanishing.

Another type of ghost is one which actually interacts with living people, either attempting to communicate or in some other way showing recognition, visiting the haunted person in the night or in the place of haunting. These vary from the malevolent to the benign. The theory behind these ghosts is they are actual spiritual beings, come to communicate with the person involved, or they communicate and are visible to those with alleged abilities to perceive them such as psychics or mediums. A classic ghost is one that is visible to more than just a psychic, and is seen over many years in a particular building or location.

Within this category of ghost there are several varieties. The ghost may have history connected with the place, due to having lived or worked there in his life, or worse been murdered or killed there as in a battle or fight, or been the murderer himself. The theory behind this haunting is the person is bound by the trauma of the incident, cannot leave the place and is stuck in time and place due to the high degree of upset, pain and suffering at that time. This kind of ghost is allegedly an earthbound spirit who has lost his way, hasn't found his way out of that situation in order to "move on". Some psychics, mediums, exorcists and spiritually aware people claim to have ability to communicate with such beings and to help them move on from the trauma. However, sometimes these beings will simply not move on and may refuse, especially if they are resistive, evil or a perpetrator of a crime and will not cooperate with the person trying to help them.

The lady was woken by her husband snoring one night so decided to go to this room to get some peace, and while she was resting there she felt the evil entity approach and try to strangle her, actually feeling she was in mortal danger. By her account, she then saw Brother Ignatius appear behind the evil apparition, who then forced the murderous hands off her neck and saved her life.  The lady then reported Ignatius felt he had made amends by saving a life, and hence could move on, so the house was no longer haunted by him. This is just one story but there are many others similar.

Other ghosts may just visit and continue to occupy an area out of choice, having decided to remain there for whatever reason. Owners of buildings with such ghosts state these are benign and happy ghosts who cause them no trouble.

This is a special type of ghost within the category of those who interact with the living, and these ghosts are perhaps one of the most commonly reported.

A crisis apparition is exactly that: the apparition appears during a crisis, often at the point of death of the person who is seen. There are numerous stories and accounts of a mother being woken in the night to see her son standing by her bed, who is supposed to be hundreds or thousands of miles away, only to find that he has died in the night in a battle or tragic accident. Similar stories involve family members killed in accidents, or even those who have died naturally and appeared to grandchildren. This type of ghost is known to appear at or around the exact point of death or trauma.

Crisis Apparitions

Although most of these legends are of the dog bringing bad luck of death, there are some which are said to protect a person or guard an area.   Black Shuck is said to be benevolent, guarding women as they walk home alone at night.  

The origin of these legends is not clear, but appears to be Celtic and Germanic.   They are said to haunt places where gibbets once stood, places of execution and crossroads, and graveyards.   One thing known about these legends is graves of dogs have been found at such places, especially at the gateway to churchyards.   Custom had it that the first person or entity to be buried in a churchyard was then fated to guard it and be unable to leave the area, hence unfortunately when a graveyard was created it was tradition to bury a black dog, often alive, at the gateway to become the guardian.   It is my view that it is not surprising that a dog would then probably haunt such a place having suffered such a traumatic fate, even if only residually.

Aside from Grey and White Ladies, there is one ghost story and set of sightings which has to be the most common not only in the UK but internationally.   Wherever you go around the world, and in different cultures you will find legends of ghostly black dogs.   In fact, in Britain alone there are many legends and different names for this entity almost in each county or region. Virtually any county has its own name and legend.   Most of these legends describe a large black dog with huge red eyes, that portends doom or death, especially to the person who sees it.   Recently I was on the Isle of Skye and found a local man whose mother told him such a legend on dark nights, that the dog would appear in the middle of a road the poor victim was walking to fortell his death.  Almost the same legend exists on the Isle of Mann, this time the dog is named Mauthe Dhoog and is said to haunt the area of Peel Castle.   

 

There are many other types of ghost and legends within folklore, many going back thousands of years into antiquity.  Some of these will be pure myth, others will have some source in truth and who knows, maybe others are exactly as purported by the believers.   There are many types of ghosts from headless horsemen to phantom hitchhikers, which I cannot cover in this article and will leave these to be covered in the Everything Ghost Forum.   However I will try to outline a few of the more well known varieties of ghost phenomena here:

These are usually and most typically described as ghosts or doubles of the living, a person is physically sitting in his office in London and he is seen ten miles away in a supermarket or in his house.   The word is German meaning "double-goer". Modern theories are that these people are just mentally or spiritually existing elsewhere, maybe astrally.    Ancient legends that describe similar phenomena exist in ancient Egypt, a similar being called the Ka.   The Ka was a tangible entity or spirit double, sometimes described as a spirit existing in a type of astral body and able to walk around as an apparition while his physical body slept or was comatose.    A very famous and excellent example of this manifestation is described by Dennis Wheatley in his novel The Ka of Gifford Hillary.   In the legend of Helen of Troy, a Ka of Helen is sent to mislead Paris.   In ancient Norse legends, a Vardoger is a spectral double of a living person, seen perfoming his physical actions but slightly in advance proceeding him, as if in a time slip.    Traditionally, a doppleganger is a portent of doom and bad luck, or in some way represents malignant forces, however there have been modern accounts of the phenomena and anecdotal evidence that they have occurred purely as a type of apparition with no particular disastrous consequences.
The "Vanishing Hitchhiker" is another ghost story which goes back for many hundreds of years and spans various cultures, although most anecdotes and reports have been from modern sources, especially since the 1970s.   There are numerous reports and accounts of such events, but they are all similar in that they typically involve a motorist who picks up a lone hitchhiker at night, sometimes they converse and even physically touch, such as in the American legend of Resurrection Mary. After a time either the hitchhiker simply disappears while within the vehicle, or he jumps out or opens the door to leave, but no body is ever found after the alarmed driver stops, or the driver drops off his passenger at a location later to find his passenger is a long dead accident victim, who sometimes previously lived at that destination.  With Resurrection Mary, the driver even met her at a dance, began to court the girl and kissed her and then dropped her off home.  However when he went back to the house the next day, he met Mary's parents only to find she had died many years previously after a danc
Doppelgangers
In April 1998, the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research published an article entitled "Ghost In The Machine" by a Coventry University lecturer called Vic Tandy, viewable.   This gives an account of Tandy’s experiences while working in a medical lab, which appeared to have become haunted.   A cleaning lady resigned after reporting an odd experience after hours and Tandy's workmates felt uneasy working in the lab, which they described as spooky.  Tandy began working alone at night and experienced feelings that he was being watched.   He saw the classic "corner of the eye" shadowy figures which would disappear when he turned to look, and generally felt uneasy.

In researching this story, after having heard many such tales as allegedly true ghost stories over the years, including local legends that were reported in the press, I was greatly surprised to find very similar accounts are recorded in Sweden even as far back as 1610, an account written by a scholar named Joan Petri Klint which bears great resemblance to those of present day.   In this case a vicar is travelling with three men who encounter a girl hitchhiker who subsequently foretells of good crops for the following year, before disappearing mysteriously.  Another such tale is related in 1723 in a ballad, called the Suffolk Wanderer.

For some unknown reason more recent accounts of phantom hitchhikers are numerous in the years 1975 til the early 1980s, and seemingly these are not just urban legends as they appear in various newspapers as reports of "true" ghosts of their time, including the Dallas Morning News (25 Feb 1977), La Stampa (26 Feb 1977).    In this case a hitchhiking nun appeared to nearly a dozen motorists around the area of Milan and predicted a coming earthquake on 27 February (which actually didn't occur), after which the nun disappeared.   There are literally dozens of other similar stories around the globe appearing anecdotally during this decade.

Another variation is of a phantom motorcyclist, who haunts the bike upon which he was killed.   The new owner is in mortal danger as he approaches a bend and an oncoming truck, when he feels hands around his and another rider on his bike seat behind him who then takes control of the bike and avoids a head-on collision hence saving the young man's life.  The story then is that the phantom rider finds peace, having made amends for his own wreckless biking and death by saving the life of another.

Whatever the truth behind these legends, the abundance of such tales makes one consider there must be something factual in their source, and as your writer I personally find these stories fascinating simply because I have encountered a person who has experienced such an event first hand and who found it genuinely terrifying, yet evidently knew nothing of other common legends until I told her.   That they continue to be reported in news reports, and have settled into legend over many generations and across all cultures makes this a fascinating phenomena for anyone interested in human culture, even if you believe these reports only to be mythology and legend, and whether or not you believe they are paranormal in origin.

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This article has given you a sample of some the the most common and currently popular ideas or theories about ghosts and paranormal phenomena which I hope has been of interest or useful.   I invite you to visit our forums to discuss any of these there, give us your own theories and opinions, discuss other types of ghost legends and phenomena and let us know your own experiences.  We invite civilized debate and friendly discussion on any of these topics, and welcome all opinions provided they abide by our forum rules and tolerance of other views is followed.

There are almost too many such entities to recount, but some of the other black dog ghosts are named as Gurt Dog in Somerset, Barghest in Yorkshire, Black Shuck or Shug in East Anglia, Norfolk and Sussex, Padfoot in Wakefield, Gwyllgi in Wales meaning "dog of darkness" which is a large black mastiff with red eyes.   A similar black dog also in Wales is said to haunt St Donat's Castle, the familiar of a witch or hag. Black dogs are legend in Launceston, Cornwall; he is known as "Old Red Eyes" in Belgium, and also exists in folklore of Mexico, Germany, the Canary Islands and Argentina.

In Jersey the dog foretells of sea storms, however this is said to have been propagated by smugglers to hide their nightly activities in contraband.  Another black dog in the Channel Islands is said to be headless.  Other various names from different regions are Hairy Jack, Guytrash, Galleytrot, Swooning Shadow, and Tibercena, among others.