Carol Nicholson
Carol Nicholson
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Metaphysical and Paranormal Glossary of Terms

In this glossary, we have endeavored to add as many terms as possible for quick reference. These are general terms only. Most of the terms are already covered in our classes and home study courses.

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Active – Commonly used term in ghost hunting to describe the level of a particular location’s spectral or spiritual energy residue.

Akashic Records – Information which is imprinted a subtle etheric substance and in a dimension of its own that holds the records of all the thoughts, deeds, and actions of individuals and events on earth.

Akashic Plane – Where the Akashic Records reside. (See Planes of Existence.)

Antahkarana – In Hindu philosophy, the antahkarana (Skt.) refers to the highest, i.e. most abstract, part of the mind.

Anomaly – A neutral term applied to a phenomenon which implies that the phenomenon is unexpected according to conventional scientific knowledge, but which does not commit the user to any particular type of explanation; sometimes preferred to “paranormal”.

Apparition – An experience usually visual but sometimes in other sense modalities in which there appears to be present a person or animal (deceased or living) and even inanimate objects such as carriages and other things, who/which is / are out of the sensory range. It is likely to be referred to in non-technical context as a “ghost”.

Apport /Apportation – A solid object that seemingly appears from nowhere in the presence of a Medium. Some apports are assembled from invisible material matter; others are teleported from another often-distant location. Apports are considered gifts from Spirits.

Asport/Asportation – Any object gifted from a Spirit that the medium produces teleports back to its source.

Astral Body – A replica or “double” of the individual physical body, which can separate itself from the physical body, either temporarily, as in dreaming or in the out-of-the-body experience, or permanently, at the moment of physical death. Often confused with the “etheric” body.

Astral Plane – The first subtle plane just “above” the third dimensional physical plane of existence. This is the plane is where Spirit entities dwell.

Astral Projection – An experience of being outside the human body while conscious and alive. Those experiences which occur in the near-death condition are excluded from this definition. Opinions differ on whether it is possible for astral projection to occur while awake, or whether it can only occur during sleep. If it occurs during sleep, the question arises as to whether it can be differentiated from lucid dreaming.

Attachments or Spirit Attachments – An earthbound Spirit who uses a living person to live vicariously through often still wanting to indulge in addictive behavior or to stay in a weak or angry emotional state.

Aura/Energy Field – A field of subtle multicolored and luminous radiations said to surround living bodies as a halo or cocoon; the term is occasionally used to refer to the electromagnetic field forces surrounding the body.

Automatic Writing – Communication from a Spirit in written form by way of a medium who holds a pen or pencil against a paper and allows the Spirit to take control or his or her hand to write out a message.

Automatism – Any unconscious and spontaneous muscular movement cause by the spirits. Automatic writing (see above) is an example of automatism.

Billets – The act of “reading” folded pieces of paper with questions written on them by the attendees of the circle to relay messages from Spirits.

British Society for Psychical Research – The SPR founded in 1882 by a group of prominent scientists and thinkers of the day to investigate Spirits, Spiritualism, and to document occurrences and mediums without bias or to prove fraudulent activity. The American Society for Psychical Research was founded from the same premise.

Chakras – A Chakra, Hindu word for Wheel of Life, is whirling vortices of energy which reside in the etheric body and keep our aura and bodily functions working properly by the reception and transmission of cosmic and earthly energy.

Channel – A channel is an individual who has the ability to access what we term higher dimensions thus receiving and passing along information from ascended master teachers, Spirit guides, angels, and the higher self. This information is primarily transmitted for the good of mankind.

Channeling – A phenomenon in which, an individual or (medium ) purports to transmit information or messages directly from a personality or consciousness other than his or her own by utilizing their sensitivity to link into Spirit vibrations and, using either clairvoyance , clairaudience or clairsentience, or a combination of all three, bring forward evidence from a Spirit Communicator which is relevant to the recipient of such a communication – sometimes referred to as inspirational channeling.

Claircognizance /Claircognizant –The ability to perceive information by a knowing sensation (“I just know”.)

Clairvoyance – Using inner vision for acquisition of information concerning an object or contemporary physical event.

Clairvoyant – An individual endowed with a special talent for seeing with inner vision.

Clairaudience – Act of hearing, or the ability to hear, sounds not normally audible to normal human hearing.

Clairaudient – One who has the ability to hear above the normal five senses and can hear Spirits communicate or other sounds caused by Spirits.

Clairsentience or Empathic – Experiencing entities and situations through the sensation of feelings and emotions.

Cold Spot – In ghost hunting, the term is used to refer to a particular spot in a given location where there is a significant drop in temperature. Many ghost hunters theorize that the sudden drop in temperature in a particular area indicates a possible ghostly presence.

Crisis Apparition – Cases in which the image of a person who in undergoing a major crisis – an accident, an injury, an emotional trauma, or death – appears to friends or relatives at the time of the crisis.

Cross a Spirit – The term used to describe what a Rescue medium does to move an earthbound Spirit who has not yet crossed to the astral plane.

Crossed Over – Someone who has died and has fully crossed over to the astral plane. They are not to be confused with earthbound Spirits. (See Earthbound Spirits.)

Development Circle – Individuals of a like mind who gather weekly to develop their Mediumship skills and abilities.

Direct Voice – Direct Voice phenomena is the phenomena of voices or music coming from the departed which are heard around or above the medium and the medium who is not actually speaking the words. Actually it’s Spirit who produces the phenomena with the aid of ectoplasmic materials.

Divination – An art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by mean s of psychic tools, e.g. Tarot cards, scrying, runes stones, astrology, pendulum, and reading the Akashic Records.

Dowsing Rods – Copper rods used to detect electro-magnetic energy fields in healing or ghost hunting. Rods can be made of wood also for water finding purposes. This is termed “water witching”.

Earthbound Spirit – An entity who has either elected to stay behind or are stuck for various reasons near the physical earth plane. Some stay stationary and might be “seen” as ghosts. Others tend to roam. Not all are mischievous in nature.

Ectoplasm – 1. Term introduced into parapsychology by Charles Richet to describe the “exteriorized substance” produced out of the bodies of some physical mediums and from which materializations are sometimes formed. [Form the Greek ektos, “outside” + plasma, “something formed or molded”] 2. Residue left by spirits, ectoplasm can take many forms and often spotted in pictures. In early Spirit photography, pictures along these lines included shadows or fog, or a “cheesy” substance emanating from a medium’s stomach, heart, mouth ears, nose, and other orifices.

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) – Phenomena first reported by Raymond Bayless and popularized by Konstantin Raudive, consisting of sounds said to be the faint voices of deceased individuals, recorded on previously unused magnetic tapes.

Empath – An individual who senses the feelings, emotions, thoughts and/or Spirit of another.

Entity – is often referred to as an entity with no bodily form, such as a language or a consolidated group. It is also often used to refer to ghosts and other Spirits.

Entity Haunting – The most famous and most spectacular of ghost phenomena, in which one or more ghosts haunt a particular place for an extended period. Entity hauntings tend to follow a very specific pattern. Normally, an entity haunting is the end result of violence, madness, or some other form of tragedy, and one or more of the people involved will end up haunting the scene of the events after death. These images, pale or shadowy, will be seen walking through the area, usually at night. The whole range of ghostly phenomena may occur around them, or appearances of the specter itself may be the only ghost-related event involved. Notable in the case of entity hauntings is a definite sense that an actual personality is present, capable of some degree of thought and of responding to the actions of people who are present.

ESP – (See Extrasensory Perception.) Communication or perception by means other than the physical senses.

Etheric Body – The template or double of the human physical body which surrounds and interpenetrates that body. Everyone has an etheric body. The etheric body stays with the physical body at all times. The etheric body usually dissipates about three days after death.

Ethereal – Of or relating to the regions beyond the earth; lacking material substance.

Etherealization – An incomplete materialization where parts of the Spirit can be seen or the Spirit appears wispy and less dense.

Evidential Mediumship – Where the Spirit who is communicating relays information which can be validated by one or more of the sitters.

EVP – Electronic Voice Phenomena – a recording of spirit voices through an electronic device of some kind.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP) – The acquisition of information about, or response to, an external event, object or influence (mental or physical; past, present or future) otherwise than through any of the known sensory channels; used by J. B. Rhine to embrace such phenomena a telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition; there is some difference of opinion as whether the term ought to be attributed to Rhine, or to Gustav Pagenstecher or Rudolph Tishner, who were using the German equivalent aussersinnliche Wahrehmung as early as the 1920’s.

Gatekeeper – (See Spirit Gatekeeper.)

Ghost – A form or apparition, usually the visual appearance of a deceased human’s Spirit soul in full form. The can also make their presence known by other various phenomena. (See Hauntings.)

Ghost Hunter – (See Paranormal Investigator.)

Ghost Box/Spirit Box – An electronic type radio that captures spirit voices through a random sweep of AM or FM bands which provides a background white noise of sorts for spirits to be able to form words and speak to the living.

Haunt – A ghost that returns to the same location is said to haunt it. Technically speaking, ghosts generally haunt places, not people. But there are exceptions to this when a Spirit targets a specific person to either attach to, or to focus their manifestation attempts to them only. This is when you might hear a poor victim of this claiming to feel “haunted”.

Haunting(s) – Cases in which the image of a dead person is seen by different people over an extended period, usually in a place frequented by the dead person during life. Continuing apparitions are commonly called hauntings.

Healing Medium – One who channels healing energies from the Spirit realm to the living upon request.

Higher Self – An eternal, pure, conscious and intelligent entity who is one’s real self. It is said the higher self hovers above the body and is the connection to the divine.

Hot Spot – A term that sensitives use in ghost hunting to describe an area harboring much spiritual energy.

Hypnosis – A state that resembles normal sleep, but differs in the subject being highly open to suggestion; in this state a variety of unusual behaviors and physical effects can be stimulated simply by telling the subject to do so. Posthypnotic effects are effects that are instructed to continue after the subject regains a normal waking state. The idea was first brought about to the modern world by Anton Mesmer and his theory on animal magnetism.

Hypnotic – 1) tending to produce sleep. 2) of or relating to hypnosis or hypnotism.

Infrared – Refers to the night vision capabilities of cameras, binoculars or goggles that many ghost hunters use.

Infrared Camera (See above.)

Intelligent Haunting – Where an active Spirit actually seems to interact with a living person.

Inspirational Channeling – (See Channeling)

Inspiration Writing – (See Automatic Writing.)

Intuition – A sixth sense that usually denotes a feeling or knowledge about a matter that does not occur with the usual 5 senses.

Intuitive – or Sensative – Someone who is very in-tune with their clairsentience and clairconizance and have feelings which tell them things.

ITC – Instrumental Trans-Communication (See EVP.)

Levitation – The raising or suspension of person or objects into the air without any apparent agency as required by known physical laws of motion and gravity.

Linking – The act of a medium or student working with their Spirit Helper and/or Spirit Communicator by linking energies prior to communication.

Materialization – The manifestation or production of some physical object or person from the Spirit world. The most difficult and impressive materialization is all (or even part of) a human spirit, especially is the ghost’s face is recognizable.

Medium – Someone who can communicate with spirits on behalf of another living being. The word suggests that the medium acts as a midway point, halfway between the worlds of the living and the dead. There are many sub categories of mediums.

Mental Medium – One who does mental Mediumship. (See below.)

Mental Mediumship – Is the relaying of information through communication, via the varied aspects of thought transference, or mental telepathy, without using any of the five physical senses. Mental Mediumship takes place within the consciousness of the medium. The results are expressed verbally and must pass through the medium’s mouth. In a demonstration of mental Mediumship, it is the medium that hears, sees, and feels what the Spirit Communicators are relating. Furthermore, it is the medium’s function to relate the information, with minimum personal influence and prejudice, to the recipient of the message, also known as the sitter. The medium receives this information under various states of control.

Meridians (body meridians) – In Chinese and other energy medicine teachings, a meridian is an energy map of the human body through specifics lines and channels often associated with the chakras.

Mystic – Someone who devotes their lifetime to studying the occult and practices mystical rites or seeks the spiritual experience. They can be either light or dark minded.

Natural Laws – (See Universal Laws.)

Near-death Experience (NDE) – Term applied to experiences undergone by persons who either seem to be at the point of death or who are even formally declared dead) but then recover, or who narrowly escape death without being seriously injured. It has been suggested that there is, upon coming close to death, a “core” NDE made up of certain common elements, such as a feeling of indescribable peace, a sense of being out of one’s body, a movement into a dark void or down a tunnel, seeing a brilliant light, and entering that light; there may also be reported the experience of so-called “panoramic memory” (the “life review”), the encountering of an “unseen presence” or being greeted by deceased relatives or religious figures.

Negative Entity – A Spirit or other dimensional being who chooses to attempt to cause harm to the living.

OBE – (See Out-of-Body-Experience.)

Orbs – Photographic anomalies captured mostly but not exclusively, in the digital camera format that appear as round globules of light but can take other shapes in varying degrees of brightness, while still others may appear as transparent or translucent. It has been widely speculated and theorized that these “orbs” or globes of light captured in photographs represent some form of spiritual or spectral energy. For skeptics, orbs represent nothing more than the reflection of light (usually the camera flash itself) off tiny airborne particles of dust, insects, moisture, or as others have argued are the result of some inherent mechanical flaws in digital cameras.

Ouija Board – Originally known as a “Talking Board”. The Ouija Board is pre-printed with letters, numerals, and words used by mediums to receive some sort of Spirit communications. Usually a planchette (a moving pointing device) is used to spell out words or point out numbers or words. A game version of the Ouija board was mass-marketed as OUIJA by Parker Brothers in 1966 and is currently distributed by Hasbro.)

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) – An experience, either spontaneous or induced, in which one’s center of consciousness seems to be in a spatial location outside of one’s physical body. The term “OBE” is preferred by parapsychologists for the phenomenon is also known as “astral projection”—“traveling clairvoyance”.

Overshadowing – The Spirit is aware of the conscious and subconscious thoughts of the medium and overshadows their thoughts with analogies related to the memories of the medium.

Paranormal – Term applied to any phenomenon which in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible on current scientific assumptions; often used as a synonym for “psychic”, “parapsychological”, “attributable or psi”, or even “miraculous”; something beyond the range of human experience or scientific explanation. Parapsychology – Term coined by Max Dessoir (1889) and adopted by J. B. Rhine in English to refer to the scientific study of paranormal or ostensibly paranormal phenomena, that is, psi; except in Britain, the term has largely superseded the older expression “psychical research”; used by some to refer to the experimental approach to the field.

Paranormal Investigator – Either educated in the field or one(s) who investigates alleged hauntings, mysterious phenomena on their own. The latter is often referred to as ghost hunters. Often a scientific explanation is looked for and various kinds of electronic devices are used to capture proof of Spirits.

Physical Medium – Someone, who with the aid of their Spirit Operators, can cause physical phenomena to occur–often in a séance or spirit demonstration.

Planchette – (See Ouija Board.)

Poltergeist – The term poltergeist is a compound of the German verb polter – ‘to make a noise by knocking or tumbling about, to knock or rattle, to scold or blister’. The noun geist is ghost. While most hauntings refer to haunted locations, poltergeists have been described as “haunted people”. At the center of most poltergeist related phenomena is a person a paranormalist will refer to as the agent or trigger. The term focus is given to the person who is adversely affected by the presence of poltergeist activity and/or the individual that is often present when activity takes place.

Portal or (Porthole) – A “dimensional doorway” that connects the spiritual realms to the physical dimension usually in the form of a vortex. It is theorized that disembodied sometimes use these “doorways” to travel from one place to another. Rescue mediums will employ a portal to cross earthbound Spirits to the other side.

Planes of Existence – A series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which,, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetrating of planes makes the universe a physical structured, active, and evolving expression emanated through a progression of steadily denser stages and is represented by our third dimensional reality.

Platform Mediumship – (See Spiritualism.)

Possession – Someone seemingly controlled by an evil entity or some say “demonic forces”. These individuals often speak in tongues, foam at the mouth, are violent and vocally abusive, produce ghastly smells, writhe and contort, produce marks or scratches on the body, and a host of other negative phenomena. (This is not to be confused with “over-shadowing” in spiritualism which is not considered to be possession.)

PSI – Collection of the Greek letters indicating psychic or paranormal phenomena.

Psychic – A person who uses their extra sensory perception to divine information about an individual and who is also able to predict future events as well as the past and present.

Psychic/Medium – Someone who is a Medium and also has the ability to foresee future events or read the past and present of an individual.

Psychokinetic – Paranormal action; term coined by Henry Holt and adopted by J. B. Rhine to refer to the direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy.

Psychokinesis – The ability for control of motion, especially in inanimate and remote objects, purportedly by the exercise of psychic powers.

Psychometry – Term coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan (1893) to refer to the practice in which sensatives hold an object in their hands to obtain information about the object or its owner.

“Purposeful” Ghost – Are ghosts that have some specific reason for returning. One type of purposeful ghost, a type very often reported in modern accounts, is the dead parent who returns shortly after death to visit his or her children one last time.

Residual Hauntings – Situation in which a set of events from the past replays itself in the presence of people who are psychically sensitive. The most striking point about replay hauntings is that an event or sequence of events is seen, in many cases over and over again, as though a videotape was being replayed. There is often no sense of a Spirit or soul being present, and the images typically do not respond to anything witnesses do or say; the haunting is simply an endless repetition of the happenings of an earlier time.

Rescue Medium – Those mediums that help earthbound Spirits to cross over to the other side.

Reincarnation or Past Lives – The eastern philosophy that when we die, we can be reborn at a later time in another body. Eastern practitioners of this believe we reincarnate over and over to learn spiritual lessons. (See Akashic Records.)

Scying – An act of divination which involves objects such as a crystal, a dark mirror, an animal organ, or a candle flame (to name a few).

Séance – From the Old French word “seoir”, “to sit”, people are gathered to receive messages from Spirits.

Sensitive – An individual who frequently experiences extrasensory perception and can induce it at will. (See Psychic.)

Sitter – One who attends a séance or group circle and receives messages.

Spirit – 1.) Someone who is deceased and comes to visit the living. 2.) A supernatural being or essence — transcendent and therefore metaphysical in its nature.

Spirit Art – The act of rendering the images of Spirits or Spirit guides as some form of art.

Spirit Communicator – The Spirit wanting to convey a message to someone living.

Spirit Cabinet – Used by physical mediums, a large wooden cabinet used to house the medium in a sequestered state while the mediums produced materializations and other Spirit phenomena which was either witnessed or heard by others outside of the cabinet.

Spirit Helper – A Spirit Guide who assists both the medium and the Spirit who wishes to communicate by raising energy levels of all involved and helping to clarify transmissions from the Spirit.

Spirit Gatekeeper – Is a Spirit assigned to Medium to assist in keeping negative energies away from Medium and allows only one Spirit through at a time.

Spirit Operator/Control – Basically, the process whereby someone in Spirit works or operates through and with the energies of the Medium to manipulate and produce phenomena e.g., ectoplasm, for all to see.

Spirit Guides – Those entities who reside on the “other side” and have volunteered to help those living on earth.

Spirit Photography – Technique of capturing of unexplained natural or supernatural images using a camera and film. Some link the ability of capturing anomalous images on film with some measure of psychic Mediumship. Spiritualism – A belief system that spirits of the dead can (and do) communicate with living humans in the material world. Usually this contact is made through an intermediary known as a medium.

Supernatural – Departing from what is usual or normal, especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature and science. Attributed to an invisible entity (such as a ghost or spirit).

Spiritualism – A belief system or religion that affirms a belief in God, but with the strong belief that Spirits of the deceased residing in the Spirit realm can be contacted by mediums, who then relay information regarding the afterlife.

Subtle Body – The many lesser dense “bodies” which surround the dense physical human body and are connected to the planes of existence.

Summerland – The place where most people are said to go after crossing over. It is likened to heaven.

Table Tipping – A form of physical Mediumship, table tipping involves several people gathered around a table and by the placing their hands on the table, Spirit phenomena might occur.

Telepathy – Apparent communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means.

Trance – Trance denotes a variety of processes and states of mind in its awareness and consciousness levels. A trance state is usually dropping from Beta (fully conscious brain wave) to Delta (a deep sleep like condition). This condition can be voluntary or involuntary.

Trance Medium – The Spirit control works with the medium in a deep state of trance and often causes something physically to happen on the Earth plane. Physical Mediumship is objective in nature; that is, when the phenomena occur, everyone is able to see and/or hear them.

Transfiguration – A process where a Spirit or Spirit guide imposes their facial image on the face of the medium.

Universal Laws – The understanding of how universal energies impact the lives of humans. By these laws, one is able to create their own reality.

Veil – A thin “membrane” through which souls must cross through to reach the various Spiritual planes–also called the “Light”. A medium or psychic person can often see “through the veil”.

White Noise – white noise is a random signal with a constant power spectral density. It is often used in EVP and Instrumental Trans-Communication sessions to capture spirit voices that use the white noise to form words. (See EVP.)