I’m going to start with a disclaimer. Everything I say is my opinion. It’s based on what I’ve personally experienced and on the experiences of others, but it’s opinion. I don’t have definitive proof. If I did, I’d be very, very famous.
Nobody has absolute proof of the existence of disembodied spirits. There are many who have seen and heard enough to convince themselves, but nobody can present a physical, testable proof to a sceptic. That’s the problem, and that’s what every paranormal investigator aims for. To produce absolute, incontestable proof. Even if it proves the existence of just one spirit, in one location, then by extrapolation it validates the whole subject. One day…
…but not today. So far all we have to go on are individual experiences, so all we can discuss are individual opinions. This is one of mine, and like all of my opinions it is open to modification as new evidence presents itself.
Ghosts are dead people. That’s one opinion I think we can all agree with. We don’t lose our individuality when we die. Perhaps we discard some things, those trivia such as where we left our car keys, but our essential character survives intact.
Now, living people are individuals. Some are intelligent, some are not. Some are quick to adapt to a new situation, some are not. Some develop new skills very easily, others find it difficult to learn new ways. Some are nice. Some are nasty.
Once we accept that ghosts are dead people, then we can see that all this variation in life also exists in death. We can also assume that, once we die, we are subject to an entirely different form of existence from what we know. No body, no smoking, no drinking, no T-bone steaks – it doesn’t sound all that great, put like that.
However, since we no longer have a body it’s unlikely we’d be affected to any great extent by the absence of those things. Those who are quick to adapt will soon get used to this new way of ‘life’ and will simply discard all those cravings. Some won’t.
The loa of Haitian voodoo are ancestral spirits. They possess a shaman (at his invitation) and impart wisdom in exchange for being allowed to use the shaman’s body to experience, say, a good cigar and a brandy. There are reports of some hauntings associated with the scent of pipe or cigarette smoke. Not all of our departed find it easy to give up the pleasures of the flesh, and will attempt to relive their vices through manifestation of scents or sometimes by hanging around smoky bars. It will be interesting to see what the long-term effects of the UK’s smoking ban will be on such hauntings.
The point is, ghosts are as individual as people. Some will develop their skills, so that they can make their voices record on tape, or produce varying degrees of visible manifestation, or maybe find a way to direct their energy into movement of objects. I think spirits are still bound by some physical constraints, such as the law of conservation of energy (they have to take in energy in some form in order to perform these feats). The reason I think that way is that ghosts don’t seem able to do all these things at once. They don’t seem to have limitless energy reserves.
Let’s try some classification. We have those spirits whose activity results in the chilling of a room, and those whose activity has no such effect. So we can postulate that some use heat-energy, others have a different source, perhaps more than one. Those who might have access to some form of spirit world might be able to bring a supply of energy with them. Perhaps they find the idea of drawing energy from our world—and particularly from the living—distasteful, which is why their visits are of limited duration.
Among the spirits who have not moved on, there exists a whole range of evident abilities, from those who can do nothing at all to those with the skill to move a specified object over long distances. Since this is turning into another long and rambling lecture, I’ll just cover one aspect this time. The production of visible apparitions.
There are some ghosts who can make themselves visible. Some wholly, some in part. I’m going to attempt some definitions, but keep in mind that disclaimer at the top of this post.
1. Visible on film, but not visible to the eye. I suspect the spirit in this case is directly affecting the film or has produced an image in the ultraviolet. I chose ultraviolet over infrared because you need specialized film to record infrared. Normal film is easily affected by ultraviolet. To produce a small image in light, immediately in front of a camera or directly on the film, would be easier than forming a life-sized image. This will work in visible or ultraviolet, and would require little energy but good ‘aim’ to produce the image in the right place.
2. Visible to the eye, but not visible on film. These are the infuriating apparitions who, no matter how fast your camera-work, never appear on the film. These might not be formed from visible light, but could be a direct projection into the mind of the observer. A form of telepathy, perhaps, which can be directed to an individual or a group. Just because everyone sees the same thing, in the same place, doesn’t mean it can’t be a telepathic projection. For the spirit, this would involve less effort than forming and arranging a life-sized, illuminated apparition.
3. Actual, physically-present apparitions. Surely the most energy-intensive form of manifestation, and certainly the rarest. Covering the whole of the visible spectrum of light, these are both visible to the eye and recordable on film. Some are only able to produce blurs, or partial images this way. Very few, I suspect, can direct light energy with sufficient precision to form an entire image, all at once.
None of these requires the actual spirit to be present within the visible manifestation. In fact, it might be easier to produce the image if you’re outside it, looking at it, directing its movement. The spirit forming the image is probably very close. Perhaps even behind the observer.
That’s nothing to be alarmed about though. The effort required to produce any of these images is likely to preclude any other activity by that individual. They can’t make you see them and simultaneously tap you on the shoulder.
Although that’s something I, for one, intend to practice very hard.