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Michigan Institute of Life After Death Studies

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Here are some of the many definitions that we use in our studies.  Please be advised that this list in not complete, and we will be adding many more soon, so please keep checking back.

Agent: Is the person who sees or experiences the activities of a ghost.  Often the activity is drawn to the agent.


Apparition: An apparition can be in the form of an orb, a misty appearance, or even can be a full-bodied image of the spirit.  While the full-bodied apparition is rare, it is more common to see a portion of the spirit. An apparition could also be seen as a white or black shadowy type of image.

Aura: An aura is the field of bio-energy that surrounds the human body.  Some people can see auras.  Auras can also be captured on certain types of film.


Centering: The act of meditation.  When one centers, they focus one clearing any negative thoughts, and/or feelings from themselves and concentrating on raising energy, not only within themselves, but if the centering exercise is done in a group, then within the group’s space.


Chakras: In some belief systems, it is believed that the human body has seven energy vortexes located in different areas of the body.  These vortexes are located at the base of the spine, the navel, the solar plexus (diaphragm area), the heart, the throat, the third eye (area between the eyes, centered on the forehead), and the crown (top of the head).


Circle: A circle is when people gather in a ritualistic manner, and attempt to gather impressions from a certain area or event that might have taken place within that area.  A circle is not a sťance, because the main goal of a sťance is to make direct contact with the spirits.


Clairaudience: Is the ability to hear spirits talking in one’s mind.  When one is clairaudient, they hear the spirit talking in their head although no audible speech is heard.


Clairsentience: This is the ability to experience a spirit throught the sense of touch.  It can be felt as a light tingling sensation on the skin, face, and hands.  Some might also experience the hairs on the back of the neck standing up when a spirit is nearby.


Clairvoyance: Is the ability to see an image or images from a different realm in one’s mind using the third eye.  ESP is a form of clairvoyance.  Clairvoyance is often referred to as “the sixth sense”


Collective Apparition:  A collective apparition is an apparition that is witnessed by more than person.


Demon: A demon is an entity that is a very dark energy, and therefore evil.  A demon or demonic haunting requires more than the usual cleansing.  Usually to get rid of a demon, one has to consult with the local church, and one or more exorcisms may need to be performed.


Dowsing Rods: Dowsing rods come in two different styles.  They can be in a y-shape (one rod would be used) and the more common L-shaped (two would be used).  Dowsing rods can pick up paranormal energy and indicate the strength of the activity and where it is located.  Dowsing rods can be used to verify EMF readings.   They can be made from either aluminum or copper, as these two metals are naturally occurring in the Earth, and therefore, this makes them sensitive to energies emitted from the Earth, and any deviances that may occur.


Ecto: Short for Ectoplasma.  Ecto is a definite sign of true paranormal activity.  It appears in several different ways.  One way it often shows up is in photos, as a misty, foggy, looking substance.  Another way is can appear as a cloudy area within an area that may be haunted. While it is extremely rare, people have been able to touch ecto, and those who have, describe it as a cold gelatinous matter that has about the same feel as rubber.  Psychics during the Victorian days of parlor games would often exhibit the ability to extrude ectoplasma.  Whether or not this is true, remains to be debated.


EMF Meter: EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Field.  This is a device that originally was designed for electricians to detect leakage of electricity around electrical outlets and/or electrical panels.  The reason we use an EMF meter is because ghosts often appear or center themselves around an area that contains a high amount of electrical energy.  EMF meters actually measure in milligauss units.


Entity: An entity is used to refer to a spirit that can be malevolent in nature. Entities were at one time, humans and may have been a malevolent type of person when alive, and therefore could be malevolent in spirit.  An entity is different from a demon in the fact that an entity is an actual spirit, whereas a demon is an extremely dark energy, and can become very violent without the slightest provocation.


EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena): EVP is a way of documenting spirits in an area by capturing voices and/or sounds on some type of voice recorder.  There are a couple of different methods to capturing EVP.  One way is to record while in circle, and the other way would be to set the tape recorder up in a very controlled area and let it record for some time.


Geomagnetic: This is the field of energy that surrounds the Earth.  Paranormal activity is affected by this field, and when the geomagnetic conditions are high, such as after a solar flare, the chances of witnessing paranormal activity increase.


Ghost: The disembodied spirit of a once living creature.  The term ghost can also be used to describe the spirit of a living creature who has not crossed over and remains Earthbound for various reasons, such as a tragic car accident, and violent death.  Basically a ghost is one’s spirit who doesn’t know that their physical body is no longer living.


Ghost Hunt:  A ghost hunt is going to a location that may or may not be haunted, and trying to find ghosts, and capture them in photos.  An example would be going to a cemetery late at night.


Ghost Lights: Ghost lights are orbs that appear illuminated as balls of light.  Ghost lights may also appear as a twinkling light in the dark. Most of the time, the lights appear in the colors of light green to green.  They often look like car headlights tracking across the walls at night.


Grounding:  The opposite of centering.  When one grounds, it is the act of expelling any excess energy and sending it back to the source.  Basically this is another form of meditation, and it can be done without doing a centering first.  An example of this would be to enhance the ability to focus on a task, or to help one remove any stress during a stressful situation.


Haunting:  A haunting is when there are numerous reports of paranormal activity within a certain location.  The hauntings may or may not be occurring on a regular basis.


Hygrometer: A device that measures atmospheric humidity.  


Investigation: An investigation is the act of going to a location and trying to determine the real cause of the paranormal activity.  The main focus during an investigation should be trying to rule out any other possibility that the activity is being caused by anything but a ghost or spirit.


KP Index: The KP Index is a collection of measurements of the planetary geomagnetic conditions taken from 12 or 13 monitoring stations around the world.  The KP Index is updated about every 3 hours.  The KP index is based on a scale from 0-9.  When the index is between 0 and 3, it is in the quiet range.  When the index reaches a 4 on the scale, it goes to unsettled.  When the conditions are between 5 and 9, it enters the storm range.  The reason that we pay attention to this is because paranormal activity feeds off of geomagnetic energy.


Manifestation: A manifestation is the act of paranormal energy, such as a spirit, appearing to those present or making its presence known.  Manifestations can be in the form of ghost lights, thumping on walls, moving objects, smells, or sounds.  Table tipping is a way for a spirit to manifest itself.


Materialization: Materialization is the act of a ghost or spirit appearing to those present.  This term is similar to manifestation, but in this case the presence of the ghost is visible, whereas a manifestation is when the ghost or spirit makes itself known through other means as described above.


Medium: A medium is one who has the ability to hear (clairaudient), see (clairvoyant), or feel the presence (clairsentient) of a spirit or spirits.  Mediums also have the ability to communicate with the spirit or spirits. 


Mist: A mist is evidence of possible paranormal activity.  It can only be deemed as possible paranormal activity when everything else that can resemble a mist is ruled out.  Examples would include fog, someone’s breath from exhaling, car exhaust, exhaust from any other source, such as a manhole cover in cold conditions, etc.  This is why it is important to adequately document your surroundings during the investigation, or prior to the investigation.


Orbs: Orbs are widely debated as to whether or not they are actually indicators of true paranormal activity.  Some sources say that orbs are nothing more than dust particles in the air, pollen particles in the air, insects, rain, moisture in the air, etc.  Orbs can also be created from light bouncing off of reflective surfaces such as tabletops, mirrors, glossy paint, shiny wallpaper, mirrors, etc.  Orbs can also be the result of two cameras taking a picture using a flash, at the same time.  Since most orbs are caught on images generated from using digital cameras, some sources argue that the camera is actually causing the orbs, usually due to low light conditions.


Paranormal: The word paranormal comes from the words “para” meaning beyond, and normal.  So the term paranormal really means something that is beyond the normal scope of science or being beyond a scientific explanation.


Portal: A portal is a term given to an opening, kind of a doorway if you will, between the spirit world and this world.


Poltergeist: The term poltergeist is made up of two old German words.  Polter means “noisy” and the second half geist means, “ghost”. Basically a poltergeist means a noisy ghost.  Modern theories and studies today don’t associate poltergeist activity with a ghost however.  It is usually associated with a human agent who is under some type of extreme stress, or emotional turmoil. The agent is often unaware that they are actually causing the phenomenon to occur.  Often the activity will occur around a prepubescent female, but can occur around prepubescent males as well.   The activity only occurs when the agent is in the area.  If you remove the agent from the area, the activity will stop.  The activity that occurs is objects are thrown, doors fly open, objects move, etc. The agent that is responsible for causing this activity to occur is thought to be using Psycho-kinesis (PK), but is unaware that they are actually causing this to occur.


Psycho-Kinesis (PK): The ability to move or control objects using the mind.   In the case of an event involving a poltergeist, the agent using PK is unaware that they are actually the ones who are causing the objects to move.


Sťance: Sťances gained popularity during the Victorian era of the mid 1850s to the early 1900’s.  It comes from the French word sťance, meaning  “seat or session” The French word sťance comes from the old French word seoir, which means “to sit.”  Sťances were deliberate attempts to contact the spirits of loved ones in hopes of receiving a message from the other side.


Sensitive: A sensitive is someone who has the ability to sense the energy of a spirit (clairsentient).  Sensitives differ from mediums in the sense that sensitives often do not have the ability to communicate with the spirit.  A medium is a sensitive, but a sensitive may or may not be a medium.  Some people do interchange the word and this is totally acceptable.


Solar Flare:  A Solar flare is the result of a sudden release of hydrogen gas from the sun.  A solar flare is often associated with a sunspot, which is a cooler area of the sun’s surface. When a solar flare occurs, the result is called a Coronal Mass Ejection.  The CME is comprised of plasma, and travels at many hundreds of kilometers per second.  When it reaches Earth, the amount of radiation in the CME is what causes geomagnetic storms, which can cause interference with radios, radio communications, TVs, and satellite communications.  During a geomagnetic storm, paranormal activity is increased because of the amount of energy in the atmosphere. This is also a good time to view the northern lights, which will increase in activity and are often visible in the lower northern states.


Spirit: A spirit is the soul of a once living person.  Spirits can come back to visit the living.  Spirits are all around us, and at times, may make themselves known, leaving subtle hints for the person receiving the visit.  Spirits can be a type of guardian as well, since they are always watching over us and in times of trouble, will protect us.  Spirits differ from ghosts in the aspect that ghosts don’t know that they are dead, and continue on as if they were still living.  Spirits often know that they have died, but some refuse to cross over completely for various reasons. Sometimes it is because they are trying to get a final message to someone, and will remain Earthbound until the message is conveyed to whom it is meant for.


Supernatural: The term supernatural comes from the terms “super” meaning above the average, and the term “natural” meaning the norm.  Basically it is anything that seems to go beyond any natural force or defies a logical explanation.


Vortex: A vortex is an area of concentrated energy that can act as a portal for spirits traveling between the spirit world and this world.  When one encounters a vortex they may feel a range of sensations from a slight tingling on the exposed skin, to a vibration emanating from the ground.  Most often a vortex is felt by an overwhelming sensation across the back of the neck and across the shoulder blades.