The Psychic Realm: Spirits vs. Ghosts, The Grudgematch!

Pouring through my parapsychology notes for the next three “Legacy” fantasy novels, the difference between spirits and ghosts comes up a lot. For this Psychic Realm blog series, it’s a classification that most who like but don’t study parapsychological phenomenon can easily miss. These become key distinctions in my next books, because how all this works beneath the plot is just as important as the way the exciting characters play their spooky, exciting stories out on page.

spirits dancing

Some basics (that you many not have gotten from watching things like Ghosts Whisperer):

  • Ghosts are trapped here on earth before passing on to where they’re meant to be next.
  • Spirits have already ascended.
  • Ghosts retain the injuries and scars from their lives and earth.
  • Spirits have healed.
  • Ghosts tend to be confused and befuddled about where they are and why they’re there.
  • Spirits are calm and clear thinking.

What does all this mean?

First of all, no conversation of the spirit world would be complete without a healthy dose of past life theory thrown in up front as a disclaimer. But I’m not gonna go there, at least not in this post. Because I’m difficult, and also because the debate muddles the definitions I want to focus on for now. If enough interest grows either in the comments or my emails, we’ll do past life one day. Promise.

Second, if you think you’re experiencing energy that isn’t your own (or the man/woman sleeping next to you, heh), the simple classifications above can be instantly helpful in determining what might be going on. In my novels, they become road signs/clues to help my protagonists sort out their own messy denial about what is or isn’t happening to their worlds/ minds.

For example, if the “being” you think you’re encountering appears to you as physically impaired in any way–ghost.Unhappy, aggressive, or unkind? Also, most likely NOT a spirit. Earthbound ghosts, being trapped between dimensions, tend to be cranky. Spirits, if not always kind, are at least in better control of their behavior and emotional states.

Does your familiar only appear in a defined space? Does it move around or follow you? If B is your answer, you should be thinking more along the lines of dealing with a transcended spirit, which can move more freely through sheer thought projection, while ghosts tend to stay in locations that they’re more tied to.

If you’re dealing with a ghost, it’s suggested that you ask yourself (and your ghost) why they’re there. Ghosts’ bodies are dead. They’re stuck in a mid-range dimension, for reasons of their own. Their energy’s turned away from the other side. This makes them more visible and audible than fully transcended spirits (remember from my last post that the theory goes that we’re surrounded by spirits all around, but few of us have the ability to sense and feel and interact with their energy).

Most ghosts don’t have the faintest idea without help that they’re even dead. Getting rid of them by helping them on their way, then, becomes a challenge. My protagonists find that’s the case, at least ;o) Ghosts are trapped in a kind of time/space warp, if you will, where they may not even realize that decades or centuries have passed or that the physical world around them has changed. Cool fodder for mystery and thrilling plot complications!

So what are ghosts doing when we experience them as “hauntings?” Keep an eye out soon for a post on why ghosts stay and what can help them move on… See, I’m just as much a tease in blog posts as I am in my novels ;o)


Spirits are interacting for completely different reasons. Remember our discussion of Spirit Guides last time. Spirits are controlled and determined and have a plan when we encounter them. They most often have something to teach us (and most often aren’t evil influences).

But spirits (or ghosts) aren’t to be confused with imprints, tulpas, “familiar” smells, angels, totems, demonic possessions, or the psychic gifts of prophecy, astral travel, psychometry, clairsentience, clairvoyance or clairaudience. These are all cool terms I’ll define better going  forward, and some of them can be used by spirits (not ghosts) to communicate with our animate world. But the presence of these gifts, if you believe you’ve encountered them, are not  proof of ghosts or spirits interacting with your reality. Not as far as the science of parapsychology is concerned. There are those who believe in the existence of all of the above, whether or not a passed or passing being is involved.

See what I mean when I say I have enough notes to keep me busy writing novels based on Fringe science concepts for years to come?

Hope you’ll join me! In the mean time, check out my dream theory blog series, and keep in mind that Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy are both discounted digital downloads through the end of August!

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One Response to “The Psychic Realm: Spirits vs. Ghosts, The Grudgematch!”

  1. The Psychic Realm: Spirits vs. Ghosts, The Grudgematch! says:

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