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Glossary

 

 

American Society for Psychical Research
(ASPR)
This society, which was founded in 1884 in Boston, U.S.A., is dedicated to parasychological research. Society members have carried out a great deal of research into such areas as Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), Psycho kinesis (PK) and near-death experiences. Click HERE for more information about the Society

 

bulletApparition - The appearance of a paranormal animal, object or person is known as an apparition. Such manifestations cannot be touched, and appear to walk or float through walls and doors.
 
bulletAutomatic Writing - Writing produced by the hand of a living person that is allegedly led by a member of the spirit world in order to communicate. The usual handwriting of the receiver is often completely different to the text produced during the communication.
 
bulletBilocation - Bilocation is a term used to describe the phenomenon in which an individual is seen in two places at once. It is assumed that one of the sightings must be an apparition.
 
bulletBlack Shuck - A phantom black dog which is often thought to be an omen of death. The Black Shuck legend derives from the East Anglia region of England.
 
bulletClairvoyance - Clairvoyance, which literally means 'clear-seeing', is a term describing the ability of an individual to sense messages or visions using means other than the five known human senses.
 
bulletCollective Apparitions - Apparitions that are seen by more than one person at the same time.
 
bulletConan Doyle, Sir Arthur - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1858-1930), author of the world famous Sherlock Holmes novels, believed strongly in the paranormal and life after death. He became a Spiritualist in 1916, and executed automatic writing during many sťances.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle broke his friendship with magician and escape artist Harry Houdini after Houdini refused to believe that Conan Doyle had contacted his mother during a sťance that both men had attended. He strongly defended the controversial spirit photograph taken of the Cottingley Fairies. Despite conclusive evidence to show that the photograph had been forged by the two teenage girls who claimed they had seen the fairies in the Yorkshire village of Cottingley, Doyle continued to believe in the existence of fairies.
 
bulletCorpse Lights - Lights that hover over marshy areas at night. These were once believed to be omens of death, but recent theories have uncovered that they may be the result of marsh gas. Also known as ignis fatuus, jack-o'lanterns or fetch-lights.
 
bulletCrisis Apparition - This is a very common type of haunting which occurs when a person is close to death, extremely ill, in grave danger or under great stress. The 'ghost' of this person appears to a relative or friend, the apparition often appearing so lifelike that it is mistaken for the real person.
 
bulletDemons - A term used to describe spirits that affect the lives of human beings.
 
bulletDirect Voice Phenomena - The phenomenon of a spirit speaking directly to the living as opposed to through a medium's voice. The spirit's voice may appear to come from thin air or from an inanimate object, such as a trumpet or drum.
 
bulletDoppelganger - An apparition that is the 'double' of a living person is called a Doppelganger. These are often linked with crisis apparitions.
 
bulletEctoplasm - A substance which appears to emanate from a medium's body during a sťance. Ectoplasm is usually white in color and feels sticky to the touch.
 
bulletElectronic Voice Phenomenon - A method of capturing the voices of spirits during a sťance. The spirit's voices are supposedly recorded directly on to audio tape.
 
bulletESP (Extra-Sensory Perception) - Term developed by researcher J.B. Rhine (1895-1980), who studied paranormal subjects at great length . ESP describes the transmission of information derived by means other than the five senses.
 
bulletExorcism - Exorcism is a process that aims to prevent a haunting from continuing. It is generally carried out by a member of the clergy, who attempts to 'cast out' bad spirits from a person or place. Exorcisms are still performed to this day, but the Anglican church usually insists on a complete analysis of the case beforehand, such as a social worker or doctor's report. Poltergeist cases usually do not respond to exorcism.
 
bulletFox Sisters, the - These three sisters, Margaretta, Catherine and Leah, were responsible for the birth of Spiritualism. They allegedly had the ability to communicate with spirits using the rapping method. Due to a great deal of press coverage, the sisters became famous and were able to travel throughout the country demonstrating their abilities.  In 1888, following investigations into fraudulence within the Spiritualist movement, Catherine and Margaretta publicly announced that their communications with the spirit world were fake.
 
bulletGanzfield Experiments - Ganzfield is a German word meaning 'whole field'. Ganzfield experiments are carried out to study the level of an individual's Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). It was pioneered by Charles Honorton, an American Parapsychologist. The Ganzfield experiment aims to deprive the body of its senses, therefore creating a relaxed state which is conducive to telepathy. The subject relaxes on a couch or mattress, their eyes are covered with half ping-pong balls, and 'white' noise is played so that all senses 'blur' and distractions are cut out. It is at this point that further experiments are carried out to test the subject's ability to 'transmit' telepathic thoughts to a 'receiver' in another room.
 
bulletGhost - A ghost is a spirit of a dead person that returns to haunt a person or place. Ghosts are often thought to be trying to communicate a message to the living.
 
bulletGray Ladies - Gray ladies are spirits that are seen wearing gray dresses. Typically, they return to haunt their previous homes because of a tragic event during their lifetime, usually involving a loved one.
 
bulletHalloween - Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, derived from a pagan festival. It is traditionally the night when ghosts and spirits have the power to roam the world. Halloween falls on October 31st each year.
 
bulletHome Circle - A home circle is a sťance held at home amongst friends and family. A professional medium is generally not in attendance.
 
bulletHoudini, Harry - Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was a skilled magician and escape artist. He attempted to uncover many Spiritualists as frauds, but despite this, visited several mediums in the hope of contacting his deceased mother.  Houdini broke his friendship with author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after he refused to believe that Conan Doyle had contacted his mother during a sťance that both men had attended.
 
bulletJames, William - William James (1842-1910) was one of the founders of the American Society for Psychical Research. He contributed a great deal to the research of the paranormal through his work with mediums, in particular Leonora Piper in 1885.
 
bulletKelpie - A Scottish water-spirit that is believed to be an omen of death. Kelpies appear in the form of a horse or a long-haired man, and often lure people into the water to drown.
 
bulletLevitation - The rising into the air from the ground of an object or person. Apparitions often appear to be hovering a few feet away from the floor, and previously inanimate objects can suddenly levitate during a poltergeist attack.
 
bulletMarian Apparition - Supernatural appearance of the Virgin Mary. This a commonly reported phenomena and witnesses often describe sightings as being accompanied by music and singing.
 
bulletMaterialization - The apparent manifestation of spirits formed from the ectoplasm produced by mediums during a sťance.
 
bulletMedium - An individual who has the ability to receive messages from the dead and communicate them to the living.
 
bulletMyers, Frederic William Henry - Frederic Myers (1843-1901) was responsible for founding the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) alongside Henry Sidgewick in 1888. He wrote several highly influential books on the subject of the paranormal, including Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903), and Science and a Future Life (1893).
 
bulletOccult - From the Latin 'occulere', meaning 'to hide', occult knowledge is usually thought to be secret or peculiar. The Occult includes any fact or event that is unusual and inexplicable.
 
bulletOuija board - A Ouija board is simple tool used for communicating with the dead. A typical board has the letters of the alphabet and 'yes' and 'no' placed in a circle on a smooth, flat surface. The participants place an upside-down glass in the centre of the letters and rest their fingers on it. They ask questions and the answers are spelled out by the glass as it moves from letter to letter. Some participants have experienced phenomena other than the moving glass such as draughts and objects smashing in the room. It is advised that this powerful and often frightening device is not used by the inexperienced.
 
bulletParapsychology - The scientific study of paranormal phenomena.
 
bulletPhantasmoagoria - A machine designed by optician E.G. Robertson in the nineteenth century intended to entertain the public by projecting 'ghostly' moving figures.
 
bulletPhantom Ships - Ghostly images of ships that appear worldwide. These usually occur at the place where the vessel was wrecked. The Goodwin sands in Kent, England is one of the most famous sites for phantom ship hauntings.
 
bulletThe Lady Lovibond -  is one such ship. It ran aground in these waters in 1748, and it is said that she appears again every fifty years.
 
bulletPlanchette - The Planchette, meaning 'little board', is a device used to receive messages from the spirit world. It is a small board with wheels attached to its base. A pencil, fixed to the board in such a way that it reaches the floor, is placed on some paper. The user then places a hand on the Planchette, and calls out to spirits to leave messages on the paper.
 
bulletPoltergeist - Poltergeist is a German word meaning 'noisy/rattling spirit'. Poltergeist manifestations are one of the most common paranormal events in modern homes. Some researchers believe that poltergeists are not ghosts but phenomena caused by mental disturbances. Poltergeists often appear when a certain member of the family is present. Children, adolescents and the elderly seem to be more susceptible to such phenomena. Manifestations include: moving/levitating objects (furniture being rearranged, glasses being smashed, etc.), creaks, knocks, temperature changes, pools of water appearing, etc.  Poltergeists can cause a great deal of damage within the home, but there are no recorded cases of severe physical injury occurring because of them. Exorcism has little effect; the spirit merely 'laughs' at the ceremony.
 
bulletPossession - A term used to describe the 'taking over' of a person's mind by a spirit. A medium may become temporarily possessed during a sťance.
 
bulletPrice, Harry - Harry Price (1881-1948) , psychical researcher whose case studies of hauntings are considered by many to be partly or wholly fraudulent. Price is most famous for his investigations at Borley Rectory in Essex, England. Author of several books, including The End of Borley Rectory   (1940) and Confessions of a Ghost Hunter   (1936).
 
bulletPseudopods - A pseudopod is a false limb, formed by ectoplasm, that appears on a medium's body during a sťance. The medium Eusapia Palladino was particularly famous for producing pseudopods during sťances held in the late nineteenth century.
 
bulletPsi - 'Psi' probably derives from 'psychic'. A person with Psi powers has Extra-Sensory Perception. He or she is telepathic and/or clairvoyant.
 
bulletPsychokinesis (PK) - Also known as telekinesis, Psychokinesis is a term describing the movement of objects without contact by means of the transference of thought. Uri Geller, the Israeli psychic, has become world famous for his ability to bend, break and move physical objects such as rings or spoons without touching them.
 
bulletRandi, James - James Randi, one-time professional conjurer, is famous for uncovering fraud and trickery in the world of the supposedly paranormal. He aims to uncover the illusions that he accuses media-related psychics and researchers of creating. Uri Geller, the Israeli psychic who can apparently bend physical objects by using thought transference, was particularly targeted by Randi.  Randi himself has been accused of concealing evidence that he could not find a rational explanation for.
 
bulletRapping - A phenomena by which members of the spirit world communicate with the living by knocks, taps and bumps.
 
bulletReciprocal Apparitions - When an individual has a strong desire to be with a second person, occasionally this can result in a reciprocal apparition. The thinker (agent) is transported to the second person (recipient) in the form of an apparition.
 
bulletScreaming Skulls - Legends of screaming skulls are popular worldwide. In most stories, the skull screams when removed from the place where it was laid to rest. Famous locations for such skulls include Bettiscombe Manor and Burton Agnes Hall.
 
bulletSťance - A sťance is a meeting held to contact the dead. It is usually organized by one or more mediums, who allegedly act as the 'voice' of the spirits. A typical sťance involves the medium asking questions to the 'dead', and relaying the answers back to the participants. Other paranormal phenomena such as moving objects, noises and draughts has been witnessed at sťances. Some mediums appear to produce 'ectoplasm' (a substance that emits from the mouth while in trance).
 
bulletSociety for Psychical Research (SPR) - London based organization founded in 1888 by Frederic W.H. Myers, Henry Sedgewick and Edmund Gurney devoted to paranormal research.
 
bulletSpirit photography - In the latter part of the nineteenth century, photography and spiritualism both became very popular, and 'spirit photographs' began to emerge. There are many photographs in existence that have 'spirits' on them; objects or people that were not seen during the taking of the photograph but appear when the film is developed. The appearances of the majority of these 'spirits' have logical explanations, such as dirt on the lens or an obstructing camera strap causing a blurred shape on the picture. They can be faked easily by making use of photographic techniques such as double exposure. There are a few controversial spirit photographs that have been examined by experts who cannot find any evidence of forgery. One example is the 'Tulip staircase' photograph taken at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. A tourist took a snapshot of the staircase and when it was developed, robed figures could be seen ascending the stairs.
 
bulletSpiritualism - A religious movement that is popular throughout the world. Its members believe strongly in life after death, and attend sťances in order to contact the spirit world. Founded by the Fox sisters in New York in 1848.
 
bulletSupernatural - A phenomena which cannot be explained by natural or physical laws is described as being supernatural.
 
bulletSurvival Test - A test set by an individual that is intended to prove or disprove the theory that there is life after death. A living person leaves a secret message or sign with the intention of communicating evidence to support the message through a medium after death. There are cases where deceased people have apparently contacted living relatives and friends with messages that correspond with the tests that were devised before death, although there is no solid evidence to support these claims.
 
bulletVampire - The vampire is an 'undead' being who gains energy by sucking the blood from living victims. A bite from a vampire causes the victim in turn to become 'undead'. Count Dracula is undoubtedly the most famous vampire, created by writer Bram Stoker in 1897. The novel was based on a real fifteenth century Transylvanian Count, Vlad the Impaler, who was known for his hobby of watching his prisoners die a slow and torturous death impaled on high poles. Deaths caused by suicides in some Eastern European countries were treated with great suspicion up until the beginning of this century. Victims were buried at crossroads and their graves were covered in crosses, which represented knots, to stop them 'walking' from their graves.
 
bulletVision - Derived from Latin videre 'to see', viso 'ability to see'. A vision is a form of hallucination or apparition that has some meaning, such as a message or prophecy.
 
bulletWraith - A ghost of a living person which is often seen shortly before his or her death.
 
bulletZener cards - These cards are used in Extra-Sensory Perception experiments, and were developed by a researcher of the same name at Duke University. Each set comprises twenty five cards grouped into five sets of five cards. All the cards have one of five simple designs on them: a circle, rectangle, cross or wavy lines. A sender selects cards from a shuffled pile, and a receiver, in a separate room or behind a screen, chooses the card which he believes the sender has selected. If the results are consistently above chance, this may be an indication that the receiver is telepathic.   Some subjects produce extremely accurate results, but the experiments are highly controversial. 
 
bulletZombies - Zombies are linked with voodoo witchcraft, the term Zombie generally referring to a human being that has apparently 'returned from the grave'. These undead beings are noted as appearing distant and lethargic, unable to speak or move quickly. It is thought that these 'zombies' are not reincarnated people, but are in fact victims of trickery by voodoo sorcerers. Sorcerers have been accused of scattering the drug Tetradoxin on the floors of the victim's home, which is absorbed easily into the bloodstream via the feet. This drug can cause a death-like trance where even the brain appears to have stopped functioning. The sorcerer buries the victim for a short while, then unearths the grave and administers an antidote. Victims rarely make a complete recovery, and are usually left with severe brain damage, hence the sluggishness of their movement and their inability to speak.
 

 

 

 

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