Ghosts are dead people. Normal people, just like you and me, whose physical body has for some reason expired, and whose spirit has not yet managed to find its way to what's next. Perhaps they had a car accident, perhaps they spent years fighting an illness. Whatever happened to them, their life ended and they are dead now, and they don't know what to do.
Ghosts are not scary.
They're just people who left their physical body behind. They're not smarter than your average person, nor do they have astounding supernatural powers just because they are dead. In fact, because they are no longer connected to their physical body, they tend to be less lucid and aware than your average person. They are not violent, threatening or vicious either, any more than your average person is those things.
And yet, many people feel nervous when talking about ghosts. They want to change the topic, say it's too scary, and then go watch a horror movie. They are fascinated by them, but don't really like to talk about ghosts as if they are a real thing. It's unnerving. Easier and defintely more reassuring to assume it's all just stories - even when there are so many people who will happily tell you that it's real, that they've seen them, that it's a regular part of their lives.
There are two main reasons why many people find ghosts scary.
But relax. You can learn how to pay attention and notice ghosts fairly easily, and this article will tell you everything you need to know about them. And about dying? You can learn to remember that you have had other lives before, and how that works - but that's a whole other story.
The main reason we're talking about ghosts here, is because so many people perceive them at some point or another, and then have absolutely no idea what to do with it. They get scared. They get confused. Sometimes they hire someone else to get rid of the problem. Or, they move to another house, another town. In extreme cases, some people shut down all of their intuitive abilities in an attempt to not have to deal with it anymore. If any of these sound familiar, then keep reading. All the craziness isn't necessary.
Seeing a ghost is not a strange, rare occurrence. Many perfectly normal people have seen, felt or otherwise sensed a ghost somewhere in their lives. There are many stories of people interacting with the ghost of a loved one after they passed away, to say some last words and to say goodbye. Many people get strange feelings when they spend some time at a graveyard. Kids will often sense ghosts, and happily point at them while there is nothing there to see as far as their parents can tell. They may talk about "my friend who is dead" and tell stories about this person's life, and to them, this isn't a weird or scary thing at all.
When someone perceives a ghost, what they are sensing is the very real energy of the person who died, the parts that are not connected to their physical body. That means their personality, their memories and ideas of who they were in this lifetime, their emotions, their thoughts. A ghost is more than a residual energy, though, more than just a copy of what once was a person. Attached to all those memories and feelings and energies, is the spirit of the person who died. This isn't the larger than life, aware, beautiful being that they are between lives. Rather, it is the essence of who they came into this life to be. That is, the same thing that made them a person when they were still alive.
Most people who see ghosts, don't see them like you would see a chair or a bookshelf or a coffeepot. They generally see them more like people see auras, as hazy, fuzzy things, from the corner of your eye or just as blurry things moving by. As ghosts don't have a physical body anymore, perceiving them happens on an intuitive level. And just to be clear, you do not have to see a ghost in order to perceive them. You have lots of intuitive senses, and visual is just one of them. Only a few intuitives actually use this one as their dominant sense - emotion, smell, and sound are perfectly valid ways to perceive as well.
Of course, ghosts are not the only people out there who are not currently living in a physical body. It would be a little hasty to call all the things that you sense and that look a little fuzzy, ghosts. For those who are intuitive enough to perceive some things beyond the physical, there are a few simple things you can check for.
None of the signs above should be taken as a sole indication that what you sense has to be a ghost - or in fact, anything at all. If you have a combination of a few of these things, however, you may get a pretty good idea. Beyond that, it is just a matter of practise and experience. Most people who deal with ghosts on a regular basis will develop a method of their own using a combination of the tell-tale signs mentioned above.
You can find ghosts just about anywhere: unlike in some stories, they are not limited to graveyards or the place they died. Because they do not have physical bodies, they are not limited to physical ways of traveling, and they tend to have no problems with walls - though out of habits, they will often use doorways. They are under no obligation to stand still while you try to get a read on them. They may get up, sit down, hide in the kitchen or follow you across the house. If you're fairly sure you sensed a ghost and suddenly you don't sense it there anymore, look around, it may just have taken a few steps to the side. If you are looking for some practise material, try mannequins in clothing stores, and look for ones that seem particularly alive.
Over 150.000 people die every day, and somehow have to make the transition from this life to what's next. They spent much of that life just like you are doing now, by going to school, to work, having hopes and dreams, loving some people and not getting along with others, struggling to get by or striving to get more, and perhaps sometimes wondering about what might be after. Not too much of that last one, though, because that's kind of scary. So when people die, they often get really confused. Some of them may not have realised that they are dead yet. This happens especially when death is sudden and unexpected, like in accidents, strokes, heart attacks and such. The physical body dies, but the person who was in there doesn't immediately catch on yet, and may try to go back home, talk to relatives, pick up their normal lives, only to find that it's not working. Then, they don't know what to do next. Even people who died less suddenly and who are aware of what happened, don't always know what to do and how to move on. Would you, if you were to die right now, have any idea?
This wasn't always a big problem. In times when people followed a strong religious tradition, it was easier. Often their tradition would teach them how to think about life, about death, and about the process of moving from one to the other. It would tell them what to expect when they died, and what to do to get from that point to their afterlife. Perhaps there was a priest by their bedside telling them they were forgiven and they could go to God now, or perhaps their shaman had explained how to go into the jungle to find the tree that is a portal to the next life, or their spiritual leader told them that after death you become one with the universe. It doesn't matter so much which tradition it was, or what particular ritual it taught. What matters much more than having the right religion, or the right ritual, is that people who strongly believed it, considered it real. They had been told all their lives how dying works, and when it finally happened, they wouldn't feel confused or lost or scared. They died knowing there was something to go to afterwards, that they could let go of this life and go to another place, and that this was the natural order of things. Generally, that is enough for a spirit to find their way to what's next.
In our current world, there is much less strong spiritual tradition. Whether that in itself is a good thing or not, we can skip over, but it does leave many people very confused when it is their turn to move on. Many people do not believe in anything, or they believe that when their physical body dies, so does all of them and there will just be a big black nothing. Imagine the confusion of someone like that when their body dies, and they are still there. They just can't talk to anyone, or touch anything, and they feel really weird. Now what? It is not just (or even predominantly) atheist or people without a religious tradition that have trouble with moving on. There are many, many ghosts from various religious and spiritual believes whose spirit doesn't know what to do. Perhaps their tradition taught them to go into the jungle, but they are city dwellers and don't know anything about jungles, or the jungle has been chopped down. Perhaps they want to find an object, a person, a location, but they can't find it. The resulting confusion is what makes ghosts wander around, trying to find something that makes sense.
Finally, even if a ghost may have the ability to move on, some do not want to. They may think that they have been "bad" in life and now they are afraid of going to hell, so they won't go. They may carry a resentment or anger for someone who is still alive, or think it is unfair that they died and do not want to let go. Or they may still very much want to tell someone something important, say goodbye, or look after a loved one. Keep in mind that just because somebody is no longer in a physical body, it does not mean that they are suddenly wise, or have a lot of awareness, or what is good for them. Generally a ghosts' reasons for not wanting to move on is fundamentally similar to a three year old's reasons for not wanting to go to bed at the end of the day when they are exhausted.
So in short, ghosts exist because:
Side note: Yes, animals can become ghosts after they die, especially when they lived closely alongside humans and spent a lot of time with them, listening to them, hanging out with them, becoming friends. Not all do. Animals who lived very close to nature and to their wild state, will often dissolve back into the earth after they die. If they have become conscious enough during their life that their energy holds together when they die ... they are likely to be at least as confused as your average person and could use some help.
Although ghosts are not scary, per se, they can affect you in ways that are not healthy for you. It is never healthy for a dead person to exist as a ghost, and it is never healthy for the living to have ghosts around them. Here's why.
When a spirit becomes detached from its physical body, it loses the ability to take in new energy. Eating and breathing are the most common ways for people to take in energy; sourcing energy through the meta-circ system is another one. When someone dies, they can no longer use these methods. And yet, they still need energy even as a ghost, to store and access their memories, to move, to perceive and process, to think and feel. If they can no longer get energy a healthy way, their only alternative is to take what they need from somebody else: the people who are still alive. Without enough energy, their memories start to get foggy, they will slowly start to forget the person they used to be and the life they used to have, and their emotions get more and more out of control.
If you perceive a ghost somewhere, the kindest thing you can do is to move them on to what is next for them.
For your sake, because having a ghost around may well drain your energy, leaving you weak and tired, which can go on for months and result in serious health problems if the situation does not get resolved. In addition, if you are even slightly empathic, you will pick up on their feelings of scared, lonely, lost, sad, angry, and carry those around with you, which can cause you very real problems in your own emotional life and your relationship with others. Obviously, the same goes for others you live with or spend a lot of time with: they will experience the same problems. Having a ghost around for an extended period of time can make you and your loved ones very sick.
And for their sake, because staying around is not good for them, either. They have lived the life they came for, and it is over. It is their time to go home, to recover from this lifetime, to spend some time with their loved ones in what comes after, and while they are stuck here as a ghost, they cannot do it. With their memory and sense of self slipping and their emotions getting more and more dark and confused and scared, spending time as a ghost can be very traumatic for a spirit. One meta-intuitive recalls having spent many decades as a ghost after their lifetime instead of moving on, and recounts not having enough time to recover and regroup before this life, causing them years of problems.
While some people have an inborn skill for moving on ghosts or have a strong calling to it (sometimes called psychopomps), this is something that anybody can learn how to do fairly easily. Although you do not need to be a trained meta-intuitive, it does of course make it easier.
The technique is mostly founded in strong and focused imagination. In order for ghosts to move on to what's next, they need to cross over through a boundary. The easiest way to do that is through a portal. Everybody has their own portal, their own passageway to go beyond this life. If you want to help a ghost, you can call their portal by simply imagining it strongly somewhere close to them. Depending on the ghost, it may look different. If they were a devout Christian, it may look like an archway into heaven. To someone else, it might look like a passage to a beautiful garden, to an amusement park, etc. What they usually have in common, is that they look beautiful and bright and light. This is where the phrase "Go into the light" comes from. In order to move on, the ghost has to go into the portal.
Regardless of their believes or their actions during life, everyone goes to a very similar place. A good place, a beautiful place that is warm and light and exactly right for them. And where they go after that, is up to them. Once someone crosses the boundary from this life into what's next, they regain a sense of who they are on a larger level. The pain, confusion, and limitations from this life will fall away, and they will be able to look back on this life with a much greater awareness. What you do when you move on a ghost, is just to help them across the boundary.
Once you have called the portal, usually the ghost will go through by themselvs. You may have to explain to them that it is ok (or that they are dead and this is how it works), and that they do have to go. Be firm about it, but also be gentle: these were people just like you not that long ago. Sometimes, if they do not want to go for whatever reason, it can really help to call through the portal for help from the ghosts' loved ones. Usually when you send out a call, something like "Will those who love this person come to help them move on?" it will be answered, and people will come to encourage the ghost and show them that they will be loved and safe in this place. Once the ghost has gone through, the portal will go away.
If you know how to, now is a great time to ground the area for any messy emotion left behind, before you continue with your life.
Take a moment to listen to the Angel Audio below for more information. If you are still having ghost related trouble and need help, you are very welcome to tell us about your situation at Ask Elfpath, and we'll see what we can do for you.