Types of Ghost Phenomena
The primary distinction between spirits and ghosts as understood by other researchers, is that ghosts are earthbound, whereas spirits have allegedly passed on to the light and are free to move between realms. Both types are known as discarnate entities.
Phantoms - These are ghosts which so closely resemble the living that they are often not realized as ghosts until they do something uncanny, like walk through a wall.
1) Phantom Hitchhikers -According to many urban legends, these are ghosts who typically interact with the living in such a way that they ask for a ride, and before arriving at the destination, they mysteriously disappear. Usually occurs on the anniversary of their death.
2) Phantom Travelers - Ghosts that are found along a certain route, usually as a result of a deadly accident . They can be riding horses, or prepared to board a train or plane. Most manifest on the anniversary of their death.
Apparitions - Ghosts which are clearly such are known as apparitions.
There are several different categories:
1) Atmospheric - Also known as a residual or replay haunting, these are typically seen in only one location repeating a certain action again and again, usually something attached to a traumatic event. I discuss this more under Location Based.
2) Crisis or Deathbed - These appear to family or friends around the time of death. According to Trent Brandon: "They are very common ghost sightings, but almost never occur more than four days after death."
3) Family - Ghosts which are connected to a particular family, they often foretell death and disaster.
4) Haunted Objects - Instead of haunting a location, a particular object is the anchor for a ghost.
5) Object Apparitions - Manifestations of ghostly items which can be natural or man made objects.
6) Photographic - Ghosts that are not seen until after a photo is taken and examined. These MAY include orbs, mists, (ectoplasm) vortexes, shadows and other unusual light or optical effects. Many debate whether they are actually ghosts, spirits, or souls; personally I feel they are some kind of energetic or spiritual byproduct.
7) Historical - These are like atmospheric except they have can be seen in more than one location going about their business. Non-interactive, so they would fall into Location Based. Typically dressed in period clothing and often appear solid.
8) Recurring -Ghosts that appear on a certain time schedule or anniversary; usually annually.
9) Modern - As Historical, but they resemble more contemporary people.
10) Transportation - Also known as Phantom Craft under Location Based, they are often associated with the final moments of some tragic accident. The wreckage itself can attach energy in such a way as to become haunted. There are some kinds that are not necessarily relegated to one location, but can be seen anywhere that it would have normally been seen in pre-spirit existence. The Flying Dutchman is a famous example and is usually sighting one is a bad omen.
11) Marian -What some believe to be appearances of the Virgin Mary. This could also cover cameos by other saints or religious/spiritual figures.
12) Out of Body - The appearance of a living person who is actually in another location. They are not necessarily ill or dying, and can be either solid or translucent. Some claim to recall their OBE and can give verifiable details about the location they were seen. Probably related to Astral Projection.
13) Battlefield - Also known as floating battlefields, they resemble an actual reenactment of war, but for some reason, they typically occur above the ground. From several to a hundred feet up, in some cases.
14) Grey Ladies -The ghosts of women who died in sadness over love or betrayal. Can be white, grey or black.
Classic Haunting - Also known as a Entity Haunting, it is defined as an interactive ghost which does not fall into any special category such as those mentioned above. Can be a phantom, apparition, presence, or unexplained events which occur in a certain location.
Graveyard Specters -Also known as shells or shades, these are believed to be the etheric remnants of a person after death. Commonly found in graveyards days or weeks after a burial, they are scary but not dangerous. Typically seen as dark, shadowy forms they usually do not communicate or talk. Legend has it that people were buried alive in new graveyards to create a guardian, known as an Ankou.
From Another Perspective:
Now, let's take a look at what Peter Kreeft says about this. He wrote at least two books that mention this subject, "Angels (and demons) What Do we Know About Them?" and "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven". His comments stem from his study of Thomas Aquinas, Philosophy, and other Catholic saints and observers on this subject.
Kreeft makes mention that many very reputable people, such as C.S. Lewis, have reported seeing a "ghost" of their wives. There are many instances from reputable sources of experiences that do not have ANY flavor of the demonic.
Based upon these anecdotal accounts Kreeft and others talk about identifying three kinds of ghosts. There is an added fourth and a fifth category (from Kreeft's material that he talks about but doesn't categorize) and a sixth and seventh type from other thoughts and observations.
A. GHOSTS OF THE FIRST KIND: The first kind is called the "sad ones" or "wispy ones". These Ghosts seem to be working out some unfinished business of some sort, or suffering some purgatorial purification.
He says that these Ghosts would seem to be the ones who just barely made it into Purgatory, who feel little or no joy yet and who need to learn many painful lessons about their past lives on earth. God, in his compassion, may realize that to allow the person to get through Purgatory that it may be useful for them to learn some lessons on this earth.
B. GHOSTS OF THE SECOND KIND: A Second kind may be some of these purgatorial ghosts who might have been so material minded in their earthly life that they can't detach themselves from these Material places or possessions. God may allow them to remain attached as they work out their need to "let go".
C. GHOSTS OF THE THIRD KIND: A third type might be those who don't yet realize their dead. Again, in God's compassion, I can see why He would allow a spirit to linger for a short while so that they may realize their fate before leaving this world completely. In both the "second kind" and "third kind" God could, of course, force the person to let go of the material place or to come on through the "gate" and not linger. But a compassionate Father can also allow for a "little" tolerance to help the person to adjust.
D. GHOSTS OF A FOURTH KIND: A Fourth type is the malicious and deceptive spirits. These are the one who probably appear at séances and the like and are most likely from hell. And most likely are demons disguised as dead loved ones and not the human persons themselves.
E. GHOSTS OF A FIFTH KIND: A Fifth type is the bright, happy spirits of dead friends and family who appear unbidden at God's will, not ours, with messages of hope and love. They seem to come from heaven. These types may come to a loved one to say goodbye or to comfort after a funeral for example. Or these types may come to a relative or friend in "great" need. There are very trustworthy empirical and psychological evidence for these phenomena.
F. GHOSTS OF A SIXTH KIND: A sixth type might be a form of time/space instant replay. We know from Einstein's work and other scientists that it may indeed be possible for events of the past to be in the present in a sort of time/space warp. This gets into some very complicated notions, but the idea is that some "ghosts" are not ghosts at all but are an instant replay of a past event.
In such cases what one sees is the ghost performing a certain scene repetitively. For example, a ghost of this type may go from the top of the stairs to the bottom and then disappear. This may happen over and over again. It never changes. The Ghost never interacts with anyone, and we cannot interact with it. It never changes facial expression nor does it ever acknowledge anything around it. Thus phenomenon is exactly like an instant reply on T.V. As some sort of time/space loop or instant replay, this Ghost is NOT a demon, or soul, or spirit. It is a phenomenon that given the right circumstances can probably be explained by physics. This type is NOT supernatural.
G. GHOSTS OF THE SEVENTH KIND: Some "apparent" ghostly apparitions or effects may be the bi-location of the living...the Astral projections of living people. This can be postulated from scriptural evidence (Rev. 17:3; 21:10; and 2 Cor 12:2), and from verified reports of bi-location of people like Padre Pio.