He will give his angels charge of you,
To guard you in all your ways.
неделя, 25 ноември 2012 г.
The supernormal appearance of a dead person
or animal, or of a living person or animal too distant
to be within the sensory range of the observer. Apparitions
of the dead, which are seen repeatedly over a period
of time, apparently HAUNTING the same location, are also
Only a minority of apparition experiences are visual.
Most instead involve the sensing of a presence, perhaps
accompanied by touch; hearing thumps, RAPPINGS, moanings,
animal sounds, and other strange noises; or unexplained
Apparitions of all types have been studied extensively
by psychical researchers, parapsychologists, paranormal
investigators, and others since the late 19th century. Tens
of thousands of cases have been collected and analyzed.
Various theories have been put forth, yet researchers still
know very little about apparitions. In the discussion that
follows, the term “agent” refers to the person (or animal)
whose apparition is seen; the “percipient” is the person
who sees the apparition.
Characteristics of Apparitions
According to a study of major features of apparitions published
in 1956 by HORNELL HART, an American sociologist
and psychical researcher, and collaborators, there are no
signifi cant differences between apparitions of the living
and of the dead. Some apparitions seem real and corporeal,
with defi nable form and features and clothing. Other
apparitions are fuzzy, luminous, transparent, wispy, and
ill-defi ned; some are little more than streaks, blobs, or
patches of light.
Apparitions appear and disappear suddenly, and
sometimes just fade away. They both move through
walls and objects and walk around them. They can cast
shadows and be refl ected in MIRRORS. Some have a marionette-
like quality of limited gestures and movements,
such as calling the attention of the percipient to a wound
on the ghostly body, while others are more fl uid and
communicate verbally. Some are accompanied by sounds,
smells, sensations of cold, and movement of real objects
in the percipient’s environment. In some cases, percipients
attempt to touch apparitions; most fi nd their hands
go through them, but in a few cases, contact has been
made with a substance that feels like a fl imsy garment.
An overwhelming majority of apparitions—some 82
percent, according to studies—seem to manifest themselves
for a purpose: to communicate the agent’s own
crisis (usually grave danger or imminent death) to someone
living; to comfort the grieving after the agent’s death;
to convey useful information to the living; or to warn
the living of danger. Haunting apparitions appear to have
emotional ties to a site, possibly resulting from violent or
sudden death. Some haunting apparitions are believed
to be earthbound spirits of the dead who are trapped by
unfi nished business (see SPIRIT RELEASEMENT).
Some ghost researchers believe that certain apparitions,
such as haunting earthbound spirits of the dead,
possess an intelligence that makes mediumistic communication
possible. Some apparitions do not respond to attempts at communication, leading some researchers to
conclude that they are merely a psychic recording of an
Historical and Cultural Beliefs about Apparitions
Every civilization throughout history and around the
world has had beliefs about apparitions. Such beliefs usually
are part of religion, myth, or folklore. Among Asian
peoples, belief in ancestral ghosts is strong, and rituals
exist to honor and placate them (see ANCESTOR WORSHIP;
FEASTS AND FESTIVALS OF THE DEAD). The spirits of the
dead are believed to intervene regularly in the affairs of
the living and are credited for good luck and prosperity
and blamed for illness and misfortune (see EXORCISM).
The Chinese believe their ancestral ghosts can be dangerous,
capable of even killing the living. Similar beliefs are
held by tribal cultures around the world. The appearance
of spirits of the dead plays a role in rituals and beliefs
among native North and South Americans. In some South
American tribes, the dead appear as guardian spirits to
medicine men and shamans.
The ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans
believed that the souls of the dead could return to haunt
the living. The Roman scholar Pliny the Younger recorded
the case of a Greek philosopher who moved into a
haunted house. An apparition appeared wearing chains
and led the philosopher to a spot where an excavation
later revealed a skeleton in chains (see ATHENODORUS,
During the Dark Ages, people believed in all manner
of apparitions, usually frightful: DEMONS, VAMPIRES, and
spectral creatures such as BLACK DOGS (see also BLACK
SHUCK; WHISHT HOUNDS) and wild huntsmen (see HERNE
THE HUNTER; WILD HUNT). By the Middle Ages, beliefs in
ghosts were manipulated by the Christian church, which
taught that ghosts were souls trapped in purgatory until
they expiated their sins. Following the Reformation in
the 16th century, Protestants and Catholics disagreed over
whether the dead could appear to the living. Protestants
held that souls either went to heaven or to hell, where
they stayed put. Catholic theology allowed for ghosts of
the dead to leave purgatory, especially to lecture Protestants
on the errors of their religion.
For example, a English account written in 1624 tells
of an apparition that appeared to a young servant girl,
Mary Boucher, after Jesuits were unable to convert her
to Catholicism. The ghost of Boucher’s godmother came
repeatedly to her bedside at night, claiming to have
arrived from the torments of purgatory, and admonishing
the girl to convert. The ghost told the girl she was
destined to become a nun. Boucher was annoyed and quit
her service. Her fate for ignoring the advice of the ghost is
The authenticity and motives of apparitions of spirits,
such as ANGELS and demons, also have been debated. In
Catholic thought, apparitions of religious fi gures, such
as angels, saints, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus, are holy, and
mystical manifestations are seen as permitted by God (see
Some Protestants dismiss all apparitions as untrustworthy
and probably demonic in nature. They see apparitions
as delusions created by Satan or his demons for the
purpose of tempting or confusing people, according to
In popular beliefs, apparitions of the dead have played
an important social role as advisers to the living. They
make appearances to counsel their family members, help
solve crimes, and reproach wrongful executors. (See
CHAFFIN WILL CASE; GREENBRIER GHOST). From the 19th
century on, apparitions have played a role in SPIRITUALISM,
which believes in SURVIVAL AFTER DEATH and contact
with the dead through MEDIUMSHIP.
In folklore, apparitions are the spirits of the dead,
who, through sin or tragedy, are condemned to haunt the
realm of the living. Certain motifs exist in the folklore
of diverse cultures, such as the ghostly ship (the FLYING
DUTCHMAN is perhaps the most famous example), the
ghostly hunter, and the PHANTOM TRAVELER or PHANTOM
HITCHHIKER. Except for religious visions, apparitions usually
are feared in Western Christian culture.
Study of Apparitions
Systematic studies of apparitions began with the founding
of the SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH (SPR) in London
in 1882. Three of the SPR’s founders, EDMUND GURNEY,
FREDERIC W. H. MYERS and FRANK PODMORE, questioned
5,700 persons about apparitions and published their
exhaustive fi ndings in Phantasms of the Living (1886).
This effort was followed in 1889 by a Census of Hallucinations,
under the direction of HENRY SIDGWICK, who was
assisted by his wife, ELEANOR SIDGWICK, Alice Johnson,
A. T. MYERS, F. W. H. Myers, and Podmore.
The Census consisted of a single question: “Have you
ever, when believing yourself to be completely awake,
had a vivid impression of seeing or being touched by a
living being or inanimate object, or of hearing a voice;
which impression, so far as you could discover, was not
due to any external physical cause?” The SPR collected
17,000 replies, of which 1,684, or 9.9 percent, answered
“yes,” reporting 352 apparitions of the living and 163
apparitions of the dead (some apparitions were witnessed
by more than one person). A similar census carried
out in France, Germany, and the United States brought
27,329 replies, of which 11.96 percent were affi rmative.
By extrapolating the results to the population in general,
the surveys showed that approximately 10 percent of the
adult population had experienced an apparition.
A century later, in 1988, the SPR decided to conduct a
follow-up to the Census. A total of 1,129 surveys were distributed
in various areas of Great Britain, a national survey
on the scale of the original census being fi nancially out of
the question. The question asked was similar to the earlier
one, emphasizing that the percipient should be “fully
awake and unaffected by illness, drink or drugs.” Some 840 people replied, 123 of them reporting some sort of hallucination.
However, only 95 (11.3 percent) of these were
of apparitions seen by persons who were fully awake at
the time, a percentage closely similar to the Census and its
ERLENDUR HARALDSSON found a slightly higher percentage
in an Icelandic survey the same year as the second
SPR census. He asked respondents to a mail questionnaire
if they had “experienced or felt the nearness of a deceased
person,” and followed up the responses with interviews.
Based on the results of these interviews and extrapolating
to his original sample size, he estimated that about 14
percent had experienced visual apparitions of the dead,
another 17 percent having had nonvisual experiences,
either auditory, olfactory, or tactile.
An even higher rate of experience is refl ected in two
American surveys conducted by the University of Chicago’s
National Opinion Research Council (NORC). In a
1973 survey, 27 percent of adults (51 percent of widows)
reported contact with the dead, whereas in a 1987 survey,
42 percent of adults and 67 percent of widows did so. In
the 1987 survey, 78 percent of the 42 percent (32 percent
of the total) said they saw an apparition, 50 percent
heard one, 21 percent were touched by one, 32 percent
merely felt a presence, and 18 percent talked with the
dead; 46 percent experienced a combination of phenomena.
The increasing incidence in the NORC samples perhaps
refl ects changing attitudes which make paranormal
experiences less frightening and easier to admit. The difference
between this survey and the others, however, may
have to do with the way the questions were asked.
Since the 1990s, most research of apparitions has focused
on ghosts and other spirits in hauntings, and has been conducted
by paranormal investigators outside the scientifi c
community. The emphasis has been on capturing photographic,
fi lm, or audio evidence, and, to a lesser degree, on
building devices that allow real-time, two-way communication
(see INSTRUMENTAL TRANSCOMMUNICATION).
Types of Apparitions
In PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, apparitions are described by categories.
Apparition experiences that can be corroborated
by circumstances and fact are called “veridical apparitions”
and are of most value and interest to scientists.
Many paranormal investigators have their own categories
that differ from the following list:
Crisis Apparitions These are apparitions that appear
during a person’s moment of extreme crisis, particularly
imminent death. The apparition usually manifests to the
agent’s loved ones or others with whom the agent has
close emotional ties. The purpose of most crisis apparitions
is to communicate to the living that the agent is
dying or has just died. Some apparitions gesture to show
their fatal wounds. Crisis apparitions appear both in waking
visions and in DREAMS.
Apparitions of the Dead In AFTER-DEATH COMMUNICATIONS,
the dead appear to comfort the grieving or to
communicate information pertaining to the estate or
unfi nished business of the deceased. After his death,
Dante appeared to his son and guided him to where Dante
had secreted the last cantos of his Divine Comedy. The son
was not aware of their existence. Apparitions of the dead
may appear years later to loved ones in times of crisis.
Collective Apparitions Collective apparitions are those
that are seen simultaneously by more than one person.
Collective apparitions usually are experienced in hauntings
and crisis. Animals are sometimes among the multiple
witnesses and are gauged by their visible reactions
to the apparition. For example, a dog may whimper and
hide or a cat may arch its back.
Reciprocal Apparitions These are apparitions of the living
in which both agent and percipient experience seeing
each other. In most such cases, the agent has a powerful
desire to be with the percipient, motivated by loneliness,
longing, love, or worry. The agent suddenly fi nds himself
transported to the presence of the percipient, who in turn
observes the agent. Reciprocal apparitions may also be
collectively perceived. One possible explanation of reciprocal
apparitions is that the agent may project himself in
an out-of-body-experience (see WILMOT APPARITION).
Deathbed Apparitions The appearance of angelic beings,
religious fi gures, luminosities, and dead loved ones are
sometimes reported by the dying shortly before death.
Occasionally, deathbed apparitions also are perceived by
the living who are in attendance to the dying (see DEATHBED
Apparitions in Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation Some
cases of REINCARNATION involve “announcing dreams,” in
which an apparition of a dead person appears in a dream
to a member of the family into which it will be born. Such
dreams occur frequently among the Tlingit and other
northwest Native American tribes, and in Turkey, Burma,
and Thailand. In some cases in Burma and Thailand, children
who appear to have spontaneous memories of previous
lives say they remember sending the announcing
dream, or, in rare instances, manifesting as an apparition
to their future mother.
Theories about Apparitions in Psychical Research
Of the early SPR researchers, Gurney and Myers had the
most profound impact upon apparition theories, and their
infl uence continues to modern times. Both men believed
apparitions were entirely hallucinations, mental phenomena
that had no physical reality. However, after that, their
views diverged signifi cantly.
Gurney believed they were the product of TELEPATHY
from the dead to the living, projected out of the percipient’s
mind in the form of an apparition. Furthermore, he
believed that collective apparitions were also a product of
telepathy among the living, projected by the primary percipient
to others around him. However, telepathy among
the living does not adequately explain collective sightings,in which apparitions are viewed from different angles, and
different percipients notice different things. If the apparition
were projected solely from a single percipient, then
all percipients would see the same thing.
Myers, who believed strongly in survival after death,
began to doubt the telepathic theory as early as 1885.
In his own landmark book, Human Personality and Its
Survival of Bodily Death (1903), he postulated that apparitions
consist of a “phantasmogenic center,” a locus of
energies clairvoyantly expended by the agent and suffi -
ciently strong enough to modify the space of the percipient.
Apparitions, he said, appear to the most psychically
sensitive person or persons in a group, which could
explain why an apparition might not be recognized by
a percipient, but could be identifi ed by another person,
based on the percipient’s description.
Other theories that have been advanced subsequently
about apparitions suggest that:
• They are idea patterns or etheric images produced
by the subconscious mind of the living, with or
without the cooperation of the agent.
• They are the astral or etheric bodies of the agents.
• They are an amalgam of personality patterns, which
in the case of hauntings are trapped tragic events in
a psychic ether or psi fi eld of a given site.
• They are personas, or vehicles through which the
“I-thinking consciousness” can take on temporarily
visible form, and experience and act. Personas may
represent either the living or the dead, may or may
not be “fully conscious,” and may exhibit a personality
structure, perhaps in part fi ctitious (as in the
case of mediumistic CONTROL spirits).
• They are expressions of an individual’s unconscious
needs: externalized projections of unresolved feelings
of guilt or the embodiment of an unconscious
wish. For example, at London’s THEATRE ROYAL on
Drury Lane, rehearsing actors glance hopefully at
the last seat of row D for the apparition of the “Man
in Gray,” the ghost of an 18th-century theatergoer.
Tradition has it that a sighting means a successful
run for the play. The apparition is also believed to
guide actors to better positions on stage, and make
his approval known to them.
• They are projections of concentration that become
• They are demonstrations of the nonlocal nature of
consciousness, which has the ability to transcend
both space and time.
• Apparitions of the dead are truly the spirits of the
dead, who possess an intelligence and ability to
communicate with the living.
Investigation of OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCES and NEARDEATH
EXPERIENCES has led some modern researchers
to the view that apparitions also have a physicality of
their own and are not merely mental hallucinations, and
furthermore, that they are directed by an intelligence or
personality. KARLIS OSIS, an American parapsychologist,
has suggested that consciousness can be an “autonomous
unit capable of perception and action when localized
away from the body.” Whether or not apparitions are animated
by personalities has been controversial. Those who
believe they are not propose various explanations: that all
apparitions are merely a psychic “recording” picked up by
sensitive individuals; or that the living create apparitions
out of intense desire and to serve their own purposes.
In Eastern mystical philosophy, the cosmos is permeated
by a substance that absorbs and permanently records all
actions, thoughts, emotions, and desires. In Hinduism,
this substance is called the Akasha; the term “Akashic
records” refers to everything recorded since the beginning
of time. Oxford philosopher H. H. Price called the substance
“psychic ether,” a term adopted by some psychical
researchers. Thus, if all events are recorded forever on
some invisible substance, then perhaps psychically tuned
individuals can at times glimpse these records and get a
“playback.” Psychic ether also has been given as a possible
explanation for the mysterious appearance of apparitions
on photographic fi lm (see SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY).
Other ghost researchers believe apparitions have personalities,
and that apparitions are evidence in support of
survival after death. They cite cases in which apparitions
communicate information unknown to the percipient, or
adapt to their viewers.
It is unlikely that any single theory can explain all
apparitions. It is possible that some apparitions are created
by the living; that some have physicality and their own objective reality; that some are hallucinations; and
that some are “psychic recordings” or imprints.
Andrew MacKenzie, a modern psychical researcher,
has proposed that the ability to have hallucinatory experiences
might be a function of personality structure. In an
examination of hallucinatory cases, he found that about
one-third of the experiences occurred just before or after
sleep, or when the witness was awakened at night. Other
experiences took place when the witness was in a state of
relaxation, doing routine work in the home, or concentrating
on some activity such as reading a book. Thus, the
external world was shut out and the person’s guard was
down, opening the way for impressions to rise from the
subconscious. Occasionally, these impressions took the
visual or auditory form of an apparition.
The linkage between this dreamlike state and sightings
of apparitions also was made by G. N. M. TYRRELL, an En glish
physicist, mathematician, and psychical researcher, who
asserted that there were two stages in an apparitional experience.
In stage one the witness unconsciously experiences
the apparition, and in stage two the information from stage
one is processed into consciousness through dreams and
certain waking experiences which resemble ordinary cognition.
Just as in a dream, apparitions appear fully clothed and
are often accompanied by objects, such as a horse and carriage.
The clothing and objects are as hallucinatory as the
ghost itself and are present because they are required by the
“motif” of the apparitional drama, Tyrrell said.