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So an apparition is different to a ghost! Can you explain the difference please?
(can we take animals as read, we can't even agree a definition for human yet!)
Everytime we include something along the lines of "beleived to have been living" or "from the past" etc we are falling into the same trap as the "visible disembodied soul of a dead person" definition I mentioned above, which is we end up showing a bias toward an unproven theory. I think this is exactly what Mysteryshopper has been getting at and he is right.
Ghosts are part of a haunting but there aren't really any links between the visual experience appartion and for instance banging doors, foating armchairs (I wish) or flying crockery (I'd love to see some of that going on). I don't think anyone has seen an appartion manipulate a physical object.
Therefore for a ghost I think we are looking at the visual experience, but the word ghost does conjure in most people a preconcieved notion of a visible soul, so we either ignore this or replace the word with appartion.
As for defining each aspect of a haunting or the haunting as a whole, that would be good too.
I just want to tie this up with the ‘Do Ghosts Go Woo’ topic slightly. If apparitions are silent then should that be included in the definition of one. If some apparitions are silent and others have been seen making a noise then do we have two different categories?
How about apparitions of objects?
We have the Biggin Hill ghost Spitfire, the Kensington ghost bus, phantom coaches, ghost ships aplenty... even whole ghost landscapes have been reported at times.
None of these objects was alive in the first place so even if the "disembodied soul of a living being" was found to be viable explanation it would not hold water in these cases.
T.C. Lethbridge was the first to put forward the idea that apparitions were "simple" recordings from the past: he speculated about the recording media (he was convinced that apparitions have some relationship with water) but could never come up with a good explanation about the "record player".
I have problems with this theory: to put it very plainly it would be like burying an audio CD somewhere and expect people to hear music just by walking over it.
It's pretty much the same problem which has always been plaguing UFOlogy: some people see/hear something, other nothing. Not only that but experiences are extremely different: Jacques Valle rightly pointed out that the problem with a "nuts and bolts" explanation is that we have too many sightings, too many reliable witnesses, not mention an unbelievable variety of phenomena.
Ghosts are probably similar: the "souls of the deceased" explanation is not enough here.
"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"
-Kalevala, Rune XIII-
Ghost - A non-corporeal image limited to two or possibly three senses that does not appear to interact in a standard fashion with current corporeal reality, usually following a guide line or floor plan of a subjectively earlier point in space-time.
(Example - The Violet being wrecked over and over in the Goodwin Sands, various battlefield 're-encatment' phantoms)
Apparition - A non-corporeal being that appears at least aware of corporeal reality, though it may or may not interact with it.
(Example - The phantom medical orderlies in the basement of Gettysburg College, 'The Phamtom Hitchhiker' ghost legend)
Entity – A normally non-corporeal being that is able to manipulate corporeal reality apparently at will, including physical manifestation, telekinesis, demonic possession, and other similar phenomena.
(Example - a poltergeist)
Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima
What about more recent catagories we find cropping up like Elementals and Shadow People. Have these terms got any real value?
What is corporeal reality? Why are you limiting the number of senses - can you give an example please? How many seriously investigated cases (as opposed to legends or TV ghost hunting type nonsense) do you know of where a ghost actually followed a floor plan of a 'subjectively earlier point in space-time'? The vast majority of ghosts are simply figures glimpsed briefed.
Why is that different to a ghost in your definition? Most people would say the words ghost and apparition mean the same thing. Serious paranormal researchers generally prefer the word apparition because it isn't as loaded with spirit connotations as ghost.
There are almost no seriously investigated cases where ghosts show 'awareness' and those that do are probably hallucinations.
How many seriously investigated cases (as opposed to legends or TV ghost hunting type nonsense) do you know of where a ghost actually followed a floor plan of a 'subjectively earlier point in space-time'? The vast majority of ghosts are simply figures glimpsed briefed.
There is the old chestnut of the Romans in the Treasury House, York. However, there is just one witness account of this and I am unsure of how good the investigation was, if indeed it has been scientifically investigated thoroughly. Apart from that I am unaware, off the top of my head of any other accounts of ghosts following early floor plans etc.
Perhaps this case should form a thread of it's own as this post is more about the Treasurers House case rather than classifications. Incidentally, I seem to recall reading recently (cannot remember where) about a very similar case as the Treasurer's which happened along the line of Dere Street (I think). Basically someone saw some soldiers, marching, cut off at the new, etc. I think it must have been recounted somewhere online as I remember reading it and wondering if someone was getting confused with the York case.
I've always been slightly puzzled regarding the Treasurer's House case, although, I hasten to add, I've never done any in depth research into it, other than reading the reports, but the location of the House, from what I remember, always made it look like an unlikely location for a legion to move along - it's too close to the walls. But it would be interesting to try and date the soldiers from the desciption of their clothing. Also, this area of York was heavily occupied during the early/mid Roman period, and yet the electrician in the case heard a trumpet which would imply that the soldiers were from a pre-occupation period - soldiers would be unlikely to be wondering round the edges of the walled city blowing their trumpets.
And then there is the trumpet sound and marching. I think it would be fair to say that a majority of visual hauntings are silent and that the majority of 'auditory' hauntings are associated with poltergeist activity - anyway I digress. It would be worth undertaking a bit of research on the sound - trumpets weren't always used in Roman Britain, and certainly not wheeled out for any old activity. In fact, there were other 'instruments' used more frequently, and it's unlikely that the electrician would be able to identify these sounds as we don't have modern equivelants, so I'm wondering if he's been influenced by popular media - I, Claudius, Carry on Cleo, Ben Hurr?
I have copied a bit from Wikipedia below that details the catagories set bt the folklorists Beardsley and Hankey. Also it compares Baughman's classification system. Are scales like this useful and would something like this be a good model for catagorising ghosts and hauntings?
The first proper study of the story of the vanishing hitchhiker was undertaken in 1942-3 by Richard Beardsley and Rosalie Hankey, who collected as many accounts as they could and attempted to analyse them.
The Beardsley-Hankey survey elicited 79 written accounts of encounters with vanishing hitchhikers, drawn from across America.
They found: "Four distinctly different versions, distinguishable because of obvious differences in development and essence."
These are described as:
A. Stories where the hitch-hiker [sic] gives an address through which the motorist learns he has just given a lift to a ghost. 49 of the Beardsley-Hankey samples fell into this category, with responses from 16 states of the USA.
B. Stories where the hitch-hiker is an old woman who prophesies disaster or the end of World War II; subsequent inquiries likewise reveal her to be deceased. Nine of the samples fit this description, and eight of these came from the vicinity of Chicago. Beardsley and Hankey felt that this indicated a local origin, which they dated to approximately 1933: two of the version B hitchhikers in this sample foretold disaster at the Century of Progress Exposition and another foresaw calamity "at the World's Fair". The strict topicality of these unsuccessful forecasts did not appear to thwart the appearance of further Version 'B' hitch-hikers, one of whom warned that Northerly Island, Michigan, would soon be submerged (this never happened).
C. Stories where a girl is met at some place of entertainment, e.g., dance, instead of on the road; she leaves some token (often the overcoat she borrowed from the motorist) on her grave by way of corroborating the experience and her identity. The uniformity amongst separate accounts of this variant led Beardsley and Hankey to strongly doubt its folkloric authenticity.
D. Stories where the hitch-hiker is later identified as a local divinity.
Beardsley and Hankey were particularly interested to note one instance (location: Kingston, New York, 1941) in which the vanishing hitchhiker was subsequently identified as the late Mother Cabrini, founder of the local Sacred Heart Orphanage, who was beatified for her work. The authors felt that this was a case of Version 'B' glimpsed in transition to Version 'D'.
Beardsley and Hankey concluded that Version 'A' was closest to the original form of the story, containing the essential elements of the legend. Version 'B' and 'D', they believed, were localised variations, while 'C' was supposed to have started life as a separate ghost story which at some stage became conflated with the original vanishing hitchhiker story (Version 'A').
One of their conclusions certainly seems reflected in the continuation of vanishing hitchhiker stories: The hitchhiker is, in the majority of cases, female and the lift-giver male. Beardsley and Hankey's sample contained 47 young female apparitions, 14 old lady apparitions, and 14 more of an indeterminate sort.
Ernest W Baughman's Type- and Motif-Index of the Folk Tales of England and North America (1966) delineates the basic vanishing hitchhiker as follows:
"Ghost of young woman asks for ride in automobile, disappears from closed car without the driver's knowledge, after giving him an address to which she wishes to be taken. The driver asks person at the address about the rider, finds she has been dead for some time. (Often the driver finds that the ghost has made similar attempts to return, usually on the anniversary of death in automobile accident. Often, too, the ghost leaves some item such as a scarf or travelling bag in the car.)"
Baughman's classification system grades this basic story as motif E318.104.22.168.
• E322.214.171.124(a) for vanishing hitchhikers who reappear on anniversaries;
• E3126.96.36.199(b) for vanishing hitchhikers who leave items in vehicles, unless the item is a pool of water in which case it is E3188.8.131.52(c);
• E3184.108.40.206(d) is for accounts of sinister old ladies who prophesy disasters;
• E3220.127.116.11(e) contains accounts of phantoms who are apparently sufficiently solid to engage in activities such as eating or drinking during their journey;
• E318.104.22.168(f) is for phantom parents who want to be taken to the sickbed of their dying son;
• E322.214.171.124(g) is for hitchhikers simply requesting a lift home;
• E3126.96.36.199(h-j) are a category reserved exclusively for vanishing nuns (a surprisingly common variant), some of whom foretell the future.
Here, the phenomenon blends into religious encounters, with the next and last vanishing hitchhiker classification - E3188.8.131.52 - being for encounters with divinities who take to the road as hitchhikers. The legend of St Christopher is considered one of these, and the story of Philip the Apostle being transported by God after encountering the Ethiopian on the road (Acts 8:26-39) is sometimes similarly interpreted
A weight of awe, not easy to be bourne,
Fell suddenly upon my spirit - cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past
When first I saw that family forlorn.. Read More »