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These definitions are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect our endorsement of, or belief in any of the terms defined.  If there's a term that you'd like us to research and include in this glossary let us know.

Ambient Noise  - Updated
The amount of noise or sound pressure, measured in dB (decibels) that typically exists at a given location.  The ambient noise level is used as a baseline to determine the degree that some other sound source increases the noise level over the "normal".  Ambient noise is measured with an SPL meter, and can be an impediment when trying to make EVP recordings. 
(See also "Sound Pressure Level" and "SPL Meter")

A symbol or design purported to have magical significance or power, most often worn as a pendant.

A created spirit or celestial being, often appearing in human form, although sometimes appearing radiant.  According to Biblical text and religious tradition, angels serve not only as messengers of God, but also as protectors.

An occurrence or condition that is different from ordinarily understood experience.  An unknown or unexplainable object, entity or phenomenon.
Apparition - Updated
An appearance to a human of a ghost or other supernatural being or entity.  In layman's terms the word is often used to mean a ghost.  Apparitions can be either full form or partial form.
(See also "full form appariation" and "partial form apparition")

Astral Body 
There are numerous definitions for this term, many of which are extremely detailed and may vary considerably from one belief system to another.  A fairly simple and universal definition is "a non-physical or energy body that coexists with the physical body, but which is capable of seeking out its own developmental experiences". 

Astral Plane
The first metaphysical plane beyond the physical, or earth plane.  It's believed by some to be the next stage of existence after the death of the physical body.

Astral Projection
A specific form of astral travel during which the astral body separates from the physical body and embarks on a journey chosen by the physical consciousness.   This usually occurs during meditation or intense concentration.  To a large extent the physical consciousness controls the journey and determines such things as where the astral body will go, how long it will stay, and what it will try to experience or avoid.  In simple terms, astral projection can be likened to taking a road trip and being in the driver's seat of the car. 
(See also "Astral Travel" and "Out of Body Experience"

Astral Travel 
A general term for the temporary separation of the astral body from the physical body during which time it is able to travel to other locations, time periods, dimensions or planes.  The two remain connected by what has been called the "shared consciousness", "silver cord" or "psychic cord" .  During astral travel the physical body is aware of both it's own sensations and the experiences of the astral body.  Astral travel may take the form of either astral projection or an out-of-body experience.  Some experiences begin as one and transition to the other. 
(See also "Astral Projection" and "Out of Body Experience")

A subtle field of luminous multicolored energy surrounding a person or object like a halo, which some psychics claim the ability to see and interpret.  Although many originally doubted the existence of auras, they can now be photographed through a process known as Kirlian photography.  Whether a person's aura is reflective of his or her personality, mood, energy signature or life force is still unknown and a subject of debate.  
(See also "Kirlian Photography"

Automatic Writing - Updated
The process of writing without being aware of what is being written.  During automatic writing the writer may be in a trance-like state, or may be aware of his or her surroundings.  Often automatic writing may start out as scribbling or random patterns until the writer becomes used to the process, at which point it may begin to take the form of words or phrases.  Sometimes what is written may be backwards or in a circular or other geometric pattern.  Many believe that the messages are from paranormal entities or the spirits of those who have crossed over.

Any unconscious and spontaneous muscular movement most often associated with a medium or sitter that many believe is caused by spirits or entities, as with automatic writing or the movement of a planchette across a Oui-Ja board.  It is also sometimes used in reference to the movement of pendulums and dowsing rods, which are believed to be animated by micro-vibrations or micro-tremors.

An experience in which a person, sees his or her body from a place outside of it.  In some instances people may report seeing themselves from above or nearby, and have an awareness of surrounding, objects, conversations or events.  Autoscopy has been reported as part of the beginning and ending stages of astral travel, since the astral self may see the physical body immediately after separation and/or immediately before rejoining.  Autoscopy has also been reported as part of near-death experiences. 
(See also "Astral Travel" and "Near Death Experience"

A ceremonial procedure used to cast out a presence, entity, energy or influence from a structure or an area. This is not to be confused with exorcism, which has historically dealt specifically with demonic possession. 
(See also "Exorcism"

The process by which a medium allows a spirit or spirits to communicate through his or her physical body.  During channeling the medium may be aware, partially aware or totally unaware of the messages that are being communicated.   Channeling differs from psychic readings in that during a channeling the spirits are believed to speak THROUGH the medium instead of TO the medium.

Clairaudiance (From the French for "clear hearing") 
A form of extra-sensory perception in which a psychic acquires knowledge about a contemporary object, situation, or event by paranormal means, specifially through the sense of hearing.  A clairaudient may perceive the message as spoken words heard through the ears, or as a message or knowledge that "drops into" the mind, as if the ears were bypassed. 

As a noun, the term refers to a person with clairaudiant abilities.   As an adverb it rerers to the process of clairaudience.

Clairscentance (From the French for "clear sensing") 
A form of extra-sensory perception in which a psychic acquires knowledge about a contemporary object, situation, or event by paranormal means, specifically through the sense of touch.  This describes essentially the same process that we currently fefer to as "token object reading" whereby a pasychic holds or touches an object related to the person, place or thing about which information is desired.

As a noun, the term refers to a person with clairscientiant abilities.   As an adverb it rerers to the process of clairsnttience.

Clairvoyance (From French for "clear vision") 
A form of extra-sensory perception in which a psychic acquires knowledge about a contemporary object, situation, or event by paranormal means. Clairvoyance is different from telepathy in that the information perceived by a clairvoyant is believed to be derived directly from a physical or paranormal source, and not from the mind of another person. 

The word has evolved somewhat of a "catch all" term that's used to relate to any kind of psychic perception rather than its original meaning which related to psychic visions.

As a noun, the term refers to a person with clairvoyantant abilities.   As an adverb it rerers to the process of clairvoyance.

A less ritualized and less confrontational rite than either banishing or exorcism, whereby a home or other site is cleared of negative energy or malevolent entities or influences.  Elements of a cleansing most often include prayers, spoken messages, affirmations, positive energy, white light and environmental changes. 
(See also "Banishing" and "Exorcism"

Cold Spot
A place where the air temperature is significantly lower than the temperature of the surrounding air.  One theory is that a paranormal entity requires energy in order to appear or perform a physical act, and may draw heat energy from the surrounding area, causing the temperature to drop.

Collective Apparition
An apparition that is simultaneously seen by two or more people who are usually, but not necessarily at the same location. 
(See also "Apparition"

Crisis Apparition 
An apparition of a person to others at a time when the person appearing is in crisis, such as a severe illness, injury or a life-threatening situation, and is either in fear of dying or is at or near the point of physical death.
(See also "Apparition"

Identical messages or interrelated parts of a single message received by different mediums, sometimes at different times or in different locations.  Partial messages must be combined in order to form a single complete message.  This phenomenon was first investigated in the early 1900's.

Déjà vu (French for "already seen") - Updated
The feeling of having experienced something before, such as knowing that you will encounter a person at a particular place, meeting a person and knowing the first thing that will be said to you, or entering a place for the first time and being certain that you've been there before.  It's often accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and/or a sense of eeriness or  strangeness   In studies, up to 70% of participants report having experienced déjà vu at least once.  This type of experience is also called "paramnesia". 
(See also "Paramnesia")
The process by which a ghost, spirit or entity vanishes or fades away.

A malevolent spirit or hostile and aggressive entity of non-human origin, which may attempt to inhabit a person or lay claim to a place.  It's believed by some that demons can be conjured, but that once conjured may become uncontrollable.  Christian religions teach that demons are "fallen angels" who were followers of Lucifer and were cast out of Heaven. 

Demonic Haunting
Haunting by a demon, as opposed to ghosts or other types of spirits.
(See also "Haunting")

Demononologist * NEW *
A person who has extensive knowledge in the field of demonology.
(See also "Demonology")

Demonology * NEW *
The systematic study and/or research of demons and beliefs about demons.

Direct Voice Phenomenon (DVP) - Updated
Also called Independent Direct Voice, this phenomenon has been reported as an audible voice or voices originating in empty space without a visible source.  This most often happens during sessions with a medium, but can also occur independently of mediumship.  Voices originating in space have been reported and recorded by anthropologists conducting tribal studies as early as 1901.  DVP has also been reported in conjunction with poltergeist activity.
(See also "independent Direct Voice", "Medium" and "Poltergeist"

Another term for "dowsing"

Originally a generic term for practices of using apparatus such as a Y-shaped twig, L-shaped rods or a pendulum to locate water, metals, gem stones and hidden objects on a piece of land or on a map.  The term has since been expanded to include the use of any metaphysical device to obtain answers to questions or to establish contact with paranormal entities. 

Dross * NEW *
In metaphysical terms, a theoretical substance believed to be impurities that collect in the body as a result of negativity or negative experiences.  The term may have come from the metals industry, where it refers to the impurities that are skimmed off molten metal.  Some believe that dross impedes the free flow of energy and may have negative physical, mental or emotional impacts on the host. 

Psychic surgeons claim to be able to detect and remove dross from the body using a technique that mimicks surgery without physically touching the subject.

(See also "Psychic Surgeon"and "Psychic Surgery"

In paranormal or metaphysical terms ectoplasm has come to mean a vaporous substance somehow related to the materialization of ghosts or other paranormal entities.  Its existence is largely theoretical and scientists and parapsychologists have differing opinions.  Some believe that it's "the stuff that ghosts are made of" while others believe that it doesn't exist at all.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) - Updated
Disembodied voices and sounds imprinted on audio recording devices.  They are usually inaudible at the time that they are recorded unless specialized listening or recording equipment is used.  The voices may be either spontaneous or in response to questions or statements.  Messages are generally short, consisting of one to a few words.  There are three classifications of EVP responses:
Class A - The message is very clear and listeners agree about what was said
Class B - The message is less clear but most listeners agree about what was said
Class C - The message is faint, garbled or unclear and listeners disagree about what was said

EMF Meter
Another term for "Gauss Meter".

A person who is particularly sensitive to the psychic vibrations or emanations of his or her surroundings.  Empaths can be affected to a great degree by the emotions or energies around them.  Empaths are often the first to sense the presence of entities during paranormal manifestations or investigations.

Energy Ribbon (a.k.a. Ribbon)  
A somewhat rare phenomenon that takes any of several forms.  At night or in low light they may appear as  a bright streak of light, almost always invisible to the naked eye, but which can be captured in photographs and videos.  By day they may appear as white streaks, similar to the condensation trails left by jet aircraft, sometimes with surrounding misty areas. 

Energy ribbons may form a roughly circular pattern, sometimes rising and diving, creating an image that somewhat resembles a roller coaster track.  Other times, most often with night appearances, the path may be shorter and not at all circular, resemblng a meteor trail or a short streak of lightning.

Current thinking is that energy ribbons may be either bright and fast-moving orbs or the beginning stage of transitory vortices that don't completely form.

Energy Vampire 
A slang term for people who seem to drain the physical or emotional energy from others.  Examples include people who continually put themselves in bad situations and prevail upon others for help or advice, or who dominate conversations by constantly talking about their issues. There is no paranormal process associated with the term, nor does it in any way refer to vampires. 

Anything that has a distinct and separate existence, which need not be material or physical.  In the paranormal sense the term refers to a ghost, spirit, or other non-physical being.

Short for Extrrasensory Perception.

ESP Cards
Another name for Zenner Cards

Short for Electronic Voice Phenomenon

Ceremonial and forceful expulsion of a demonic entity, most often from a person, but sometimes from an animal, dwelling or habitat. The Jewish and Catholic faiths each have a formal Rite of Exorcism.

A person who has been specially trained in the process of expelling or evicting demons or other malevolent entities from a person or place which they are believed to inhabit.  Most often, but not always, an exorcist is a priest, rabbi or minister.

Extrasensory Perception  Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses.  It's sometimes referred to as "the sixth sense".  The term implies that information can be obtained by means other than the basic limiting assumptions of science; that living organisms can only receive information from their five senses, and only from actual observations or experiences from their past or present.

In the metaphysical sense, an artifact believed to have magical or spiritual powers, used by a Shaman in various rituals.

Fleer  * NEW *
A brand name of a thermal imaging camera sometimes used in paranormal investigations.

Full Form Apparition  * NEW *
An apparition where the entire body of a spirit materializes to the extent that it's either visible to the human eye or is captured in a photograph or video.
(See also "Apparition")

Full Spectrum Camera * NEW *
A camera that has been specially modified for paranormal photography.  Digital cameras have a filter that blocks out most light that's outside the visible spectrum (the part of the spectrum that the human eye can see). 

When the filter is removed a camera can also record light and vibrations from the infrared and ultraviolet bands, which are invisible to the human eye.  The theory is that paranormal entities that are invisible to us because they vibrate at higher or lower frequencies than what our vision can perceive will be captured by a full spectrum camera.  

Gauss Meter (EMF Meter)
An instrument used to measure minute changes in electromagnetic fields.  These meters may be used in paranormal investigations for either of two purposes.  The first is to locate any stationary electromagnetic fields resulting from physical causes.  The second is to detect any EMF fluctuations that occur during the investigation, which might indicate actual paranormal activity. 
Note: ESP employs both techniques when conducting an investigation.)

The apparition of a deceased person, frequently in the form or partial form of his or her physical likeness.  Apparitions are most often experienced in or around that person's former habitats.

Ghost Hunting
The act of seeking out ghosts or other paranormal entities.  It's generally considered a hobby or form of recreation and should not be confused with paranormal investigating, which is more disciplined and scientific in nature.

Geomagnetic Field  * NEW *
The magnetic field that surrounds the earth and protects it from the charged particles of the solar wind.  It's believed that when the geomagnetic field is "active" (reacting to changes in the solar wind) it releases energy that may be used by paranormal entities, thus making tghem more active or more visible.

The occupation or visitation of a building or area by ghosts, sprits or demons.  There are four generally accepted classifications of hauntings; Demonic, Intelligent, Poltergeist and Residual. 

Haunted House
A house or building where supernatural occurrences and/or paranormal phenomena happen on a frequent or ongoing basis.

Higher Self
This term spans multiple belief systems, and varies according to each. In the most general sense it refers to an eternal, conscious and intelligent entity.  Some believe that it's a guiding force while others believe that it's a composite of the experiences and wisdom gained through one's past lives. 

Hot Spot  * NEW *
In paranormal terms this term has two meanings.  The first is a place that reportedly has a high level of paranormal activity.  During paranormal investigations it's also used to mean a specific space that has higher EMF readings or higher temperatures than the space that surrounds it.

Independent Direct Voice (IDV)
Also called Direct Voice Phenomenon (DVP), this phenomenon has been reported as an audible voice or voices originating in empty space without a visible source.  This most often happens during sessions with a medium, but can also occur independently of mediumship.  Voices originating in space have been reported and recorded by anthropologists conducting tribal studies as early as 1901.  IDV has also been reported in conjunction with poltergeist activity. 
(See also "Direct Voice Phenomenon", "Medium" and "Poltergeist"

The process by which an entity may affect the inhabitants of or visitors to a dwelling or structure.  It's usually a gradual process, beginning with feelings of uncertainty, uneasiness, mild agitation, being watched, or not being alone.  These feelings may elevate over time to a dislike, fear or dread associated with either specific areas or the entire structure.  Influence is presumed by many to be a method by which an unfriendly entity may try to establish itself, gain control or affect perceptions or feelings. 

Intelligent Haunting
A haunting in which the ghost or spirit is apparently aware of the presence of observers and deliberately makes its presence known.  It may do so simply to be noticed, or to attempt to communicate with or frighten away the observers. 
(See also "Haunting")

Kirlian Photography
A phenomenon discovered by Semyon Kirlian in 1939.  An object placed on a photographic plate, when subjected to a electric current, produces a glowing "aura" which is then imprinted on the film.  With the advancement of technology this technique has been improved to the point where it is now used to photograph and interpret a person's aura the auras of animals or plants.

In general terms, lifting or raising, seemingly in defiance of the law of gravity.  In paranormal terminology, a phenomenon sometimes encountered in poltergeist hauntings, whereby physical objects are lifted by an unknown force.

Life Review 
A widely-reported phenomenon related to near-death experiences in which a person sees much or all of his or her life in chronological order and great detail.  In metaphysical or paranormal terms it refers to a review of life lessons that's believed to take place after death, and which may have a bearing on whether a soul or spirit is able to move to the next plane or level of existence.

The process by which a ghost, spirit or entity becomes visible.

Medium  - Updated
An intermediary between the physical world and the spirit world.  Mediums generally fall into one of two categories; psychics, who receive and interpret messages from spirits, and trance mediums, who go into a trance-like state so that spirits can speak through them.  A psychic is usually aware of the messages that he or she has relayed, while a trance medium may have limited recall, or no recall at all of what was said by the spirit.

Originally a Greek term for a branch of philosophy that dealt with understanding "the nature of things".  Currently it refers to things beyond the physical world, such as ghosts and spirits, remote viewing, mediumship and astral travel.  It also encompasses the use of New Age tools such as crystals, essential oils, and pendulums.

Mist (Also spelled "myst")
See "Paranormal Mist"

Near-death experience (NDE) - Updated
Any of several types of experiences frequently reported by people who were in fear of dying, nearly died, or experienced clinical death and were revived.  Some have reported floating above the scene (such as an operating room) and can recount in vivid detail the events and conversations that took place.  Others have reported seeing their lives flash before them.  Still others report being drawn towards a brilliant white light, but either chose to turn back or were sent back.  Experts are divided as to whether these are simply hallucinations resulting from trauma, oxygen deprivation, or sensory deprivation, or whether they are a very real phenomenon.

New Age 
A diverse and broadly based movement of the late 20th century which is characterized by an individual and eclectic approach to spiritual and metaphysical enlightenment.  It combines beliefs of older spiritual and religious traditions with elements of modern science, such as ecology, psychology, and parapsychology. 

Oppression  - Updated
An attempt by an earthbound spirit to control or influence of a person from outside of the person's body.  It's believed that the oppressing entity attempts to exploit fears, schemas, lack of self-esteem or mental or emotional vulnerabilities.  Over time the oppression may change a person's demeanor, behavior patterns or personality. 

The word "Orb" is derived from the Latin word "orbis", meaning "circle".  In general terms it's another name for a round object, especially a disk or sphere.  In the paranormal sense it refers to ghostly spheres that are generally invisible to the human eye, but which are often captured in photographs or videos.

Oui-Ja Board (a.k.a. Talking Board - Spirit Board)
A divining implement consisting of a round or rectangular surface with letters, numbers, words and symbols printed on it.  It utilizes a small object known as a planchette which, when the fingers of the participants are placed upon it, glides across the surface of the board revealing messages or answering questions.  Some believers consider Ouija boards a form of entertainment or a way to contact spirits, while others believe that they are a gateway through which evil forces can subvert those who use them. 
Note:  ESP does not recommend the use of these boards.  For more information see our article enbtitled "Ouija" on the Articles page. 

Out-Of-Body Experience (OBE)
A specific form of astral travel during which the astral body separates from the physical body because it's drawn elsewhere.  This usually happens during meditation or twilight sleep.  The astral and physical bodies have little if any control over its journey, other than the ability to end it.  This decision can be made by the consciousness of either the physical body or the astral body.  In simple terms, an out-of-body experience can be likened to taking a road trip and being in the passenger's seat of the car. 
(See also "Astral Projection" and "Astral Travel")

Paramnesia (From the Greek for "Parallel knowing") 
A less well-known term for the experience commonly referred to as "déjà vu", wherein a person has the feeling of previously having been in a certain place or situation, or has foreknowledge of an event that's about to happen.
(See also "Déjà vu".) 

A term used to describe a wide variety of unusual phenomena. The Journal of Parapsychology defines paranormal as "any phenomenon that in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible according to current scientific assumptions."

Paranormal Investigation
A structured scientific process by which unexplained phenomena are investigated and researched and the results documented and/or recorded.

Paranormal Mist (a.k.a. Mist or Myst) 
Swirling energy that resembles fog but which often becomes more defined, containing trails, dense areas and an occasions images.  It's usually invisible to the naked eye but has been captured in photos and videos.  Paranormal mist is typically white and luminous but occasionally has areas of subtle colors.

The study of the paranormal.  This includes psychic phenomena such as telepathy and ESP as well as survival studies like ghosts and reincarnation.

Partial Form Apparition  * NEW *
An apparition where a portion of the body of a spirit materializes to the extent that it's either visible to the human eye or is captured in a photograph or video.  Most often it's the face or upper body, but it can also be a hand, arm, leg, or the lower body.
(See also "Apparition")

Any device that is weighted at the bottom and held or attached at the top in a manner that leaves it free to swing, such as the pendulum of a grandfather clock.  In metaphysics a pendulum is often used as a tool for divining or dowsing, or for answering basic "yes' or "no" questions.  Current thinking is that the holder's higher self knows or obtains the answer, and utilizes micro-vibrations to move the pendulum. 

Pendulum board (a.k.a. Pendulum chart)
Typically a circular or semi-circular image, usually on paper, that may contain letters, words or symbols.  It is used in conjunction with a pendulum as a means of obtaining answers beyond the "yes" and "no" responses to which a pendulum is normally limited. 

Another term for "ghost" or "apparition".

Planchette (French for "little board")
A device used with a Ouija board, talking board or spirit board.  It's normally triangular or heart-shaped in appearance and is usually supported by three legs with felt on the bottoms to allow it to glide freely around the board.  The planchette is believed to give messages from spirits, either by pointing to "Yes" or "No" on the board, or by spelling out answers to questions.  Planchettes may also spell out unsolicited information. 
Note: For more detail see our article entitled "Ouija" on the Articles page.

Poltergeist (German for "noisy ghost")
A spirit or ghost that manifests itself by moving or influencing inanimate objects.  These may include thumps, knocks or creaks with no discernable source or reason for occurring, or lights turning on or off for no apparent reason.  In extreme cases objects may be lifted, moved, rearranged or broken and beds or furniture may be shaken.  It's commonly believed that some poltergeists are malicious while others are simply playful.

Poltergeist Haunting
A haunting by a Poltergeist, generally characterized by unexplained noises, power fluctuations or moving of objects. 
(See also Poltergeist" and "Haunting")

Invasion and occupation of a human or animal by a malevolent or demonic entity, during which it influences or entirely subverts the personality of the host.

This term stems from a loose translation of the Latin words for "knowing prior to".  Precognition is a psychic perception or knowledge of future events, situations or conditions before they happen, and not derived from logic or deductive reasoning. 
(See also "Presentiment")

Information about future events, which is perceived in the form of emotions or general feelings at a less specific level than with precognition.  An example of presentiment would be an uneasy feeling about a journey, person or place without knowing exactly why. 
(See also "Precognition")

As an adverb, this word means "of the mind", as in "psychic phenomenon" or "psychic energy".  As a noun it means a person who is able to experience extra-sensory perception, which might include clairvoyance, psychokinesis, precognition, retrocognition or mediumship. 

Psychic Surgeon 
One who is able, or claims to be able to perform psychic surgery.
(See also "Psychic Surgery")

Psychic Surgery 
There are two types of psychic surgery.  One is the alleged ability to paranormally perform invasive surgery without making an incision, and removing cancerous or diseased tissue.  This practice originated in the Philippines, and is generally considered to be a hoax perpetrated by slight of hand.

The other type does not purport to remove physical tissue, but instead attempts to remove a theoretical metaphysical substance known as "dross".   In this type of psychic surgery the psychic surgeon attempts to locate and remove impurities or negativity that has collected in the body of the subject.   Motions resembling making an incision, spreading tissue and removing something are made, but the subject is never physically touched in the process.
(See also "Dross" and "Psychic Surgeon")   

Psychometry (Greek for "spirit measure" or "soul measure") 
This paranormal term was coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan in 1842.  It referred to the ability of a medium to receive information about a person by touching or holding an object that belonged to him or her.  In recent years, this term has been called "token-object reading" to avoid confusion with the psychological term of the same name. 
(See also "Token Object Reading"

Psychic Vampire
A slang term for individuals who seem to weaken, drain or deplete the psychic energies of others when in proximity to, or in conversation with them.  It doesn't refer to a vampire with psychic abilities.

A psychic phenomenon whereby objects are moved solely by the power of the mind.

Quiet Spot
A specific area, typically within a building or structure, where there is noticeably less energy than in the surrounding areas.  Specifically the term deals with electromagnetic energy, as measured by an EMF meter or ambient noise, as measured by an SPL meter.   Quiet spots aren't generally believed to be the result of paranormal phenomena; rather they are simply desirable places to conduct EVP sessions or monitor for EMF spikes.
(See also "EMF meter," "Gauss meter", "SPL meter" and "Ambient noise".)

The theory or belief that a soul inhabits a series of physical bodies over time, as part of its evolution to a higher state.  Many proponents believe that the soul reincarnates under specific circumstances to gain experience or knowledge in an area where it was lacking, to learn a specific lesson, or to right a wrong from a previous lifetime.

Remote Viewing (RV)
The process by which a "viewer" uses his or her intuitive abilities to gather information about a target that may be an object, place, or person.  The target is hidden from the physical perception of the viewer and is typically at a separate location.  From 1972 to 1991 the CIA funded a series of RV experiments based on the belief that the Soviet Union was engaging in similar research.

Repressed Psychokinetic Energy  * NEW *
A theoretical psychic force produced, usually unconsciously, by an individual undergoing physical or mental trauma.  When released, this energy is believed by some to be capable of producing poltergeist-like effects.

Residual Haunting
A haunting in which a ghost repeatedly plays out a specific scene or event, such as walking down a staircase or hallway, apparently unaware of the presence of observers.  It's theorized that the ghost is reenacting a significant moment from its former existence, perhaps in the hope of changing the outcome. 
(See also "Haunting")

The psychic perception of past events or conditions.

See "Energy Ribbon".

A group effort to make contact with the spirit world. In the most common format, lighting is subdued and a candle is set on the center of the table.  The participants sit around the table holding hands.  The host addresses the spirit or spirits with whom contact is sought, and generally ends by saying, "We await a sign."

Shaman (Turkic for "he who knows")
This term originally referred to the traditional healers of Turkic-Mongol regions such as Northern Asia, Siberia and Mongolia.  The Shaman was highly regarded and was responsible for such things as healing, interpreting messages from higher powers, leading ceremonies, predicting the future, and helping souls enter and leave the world.  More recently the term has been applied to Native American tribal priests, holy men or medicine men who perform similar functions.
Sitter  * NEW *
In paranormal terms. any person, other than the medium, who takes part in a seance. 
(See also "Medium" and  "Seance"

In paranormal terms, a person who questions or discounts the reality of the paranormal or of some aspect of the paranormal and who tends to be critical of paranormal research.  

A wide range of divination techniques that may involve a type of ESP.   Most scrying techniques involve visual fixation on a surface with optical depth, such as a crystal ball or a container of water, or on an area of random patterns such as flames, smoke or steam.   Although the process isn't totally understood, there are two popular theories.  The first is that information or images are received through ESP and projected into the substance, and the second is that  spirits use the energy of the substance to manifest themselves or their messages as images.

A person who may experience the emotions of those who have crossed over.  Although similar to empaths, sensitives not only have an awareness of the presence of paranormal entities or their feelings; they may also actually feel their emotions.

A Native American ceremony that has been adopted by people of the New Age and Spiritualist persuasions for purposes of healing a person or cleansing a place of negative energies, influences or spirits.  It's believed that in healings both the healer and the person desiring to be healed must first be cleansed of negativity before the process will be successful.
The ceremony begins by burning a sage, cedar and sweetgrass, sometimes as a mixture, but often in sequence.  In healings the burning smudge is typically fanned with hands or a feather toward the healer and the subject.  When cleansing a location the smoke is normally fanned into the four corners, then the dark spaces like closets and cupboards and finally into the empty spaces of every room.
The smudging is accompanied by prayers to the Creator and invitations to friendly spirits to assist in the cleansing or healing ritual.

Solar X-Rays * NEW *
A type of energy emitted by the sun's corona (the sun's atmosphere).  It's been theorized that paranormal entities may be able to draw energy from solar X-rays that reach the earth and that paranormal manifestations may become more frequent during periods of heightened solar X-Ray activity.
See also "X-Rays" 

Soul Rescue (a.k.a. Spirit Rescue)
An attempt to make contact with ghosts or spirits in an effort help them release from whatever holds them earthbound, and free them to cross over to a higher plane.  Sensitives are the most adept at spirit rescue because they are better equipped to understand what keeps the spirit from moving to the next level of existence. (See also "Sensitive )

The appearance of a spirit, ghost, or unusual phenomenon that often assumes human form.  A specter can appear as either a full or partial form and may appear dressed in the attire of the period during which they lived.  They usually seem unaware of, or disinterested in the viewer, and are normally visible for a very short period of time.

There are so many definitions for this term that we couldn't possibly include them all.  Many vary widely depending on one's religious beliefs.  In the most generic of terminology, a spirit is assumed to be either an entity that never had a physical body, or the essence of a once living person.  It's believed that spirits can be either good or evil.  The word "spirit" is often used interchangeably with "ghost" or "soul".

Spirit Board
A generic name for boards similar to Oui-Ja boards, but which do not bear the "Oui-Ja" trade name.  For more information see "Oui-Ja Board"

Spirit Photography
The process by which paranormal entities are photographed.  It may refer to a structured process such as is used in paranormal investigations or to random appearances of orbs, ghostly figures, shadows, mist or other phenomena in a photograph.

Spirit Rescue (a.k.a. Soul Rescue)
An attempt to make contact with ghosts or spirits in an effort help them release from whatever holds them earthbound, and free them to cross over to a higher plane.  Sensitives are the most adept at spirit rescue because they are better equipped to understand what keeps the spirit from moving to the next level of existence.
(See also "Sensitive")

Sound Pressure Level
In simple terms, the level of noise that exists at any given location as measured in decibels.

A belief system that spirits and those who have crossed over can communicate with the living, either through a medium, or through dreams, feelings, or paranormal manifestations.

SPL Meter
An electronic device that's used to measure the level of noise, or sound pressure.  Typical meters can measure only sound pressure of 30-45 decibels and above, so they are not generally used in paranormal investigations.  Examples of decibel levels are:
  -  Whisper in a quiet environment - 30 dB
  -  Normal conversation from 3'-6' feet away - 60-70 dB
  -  Telephone dial tone - 80 dB
(See also "Sound Pressure Level" )

This term pertains to entities, events or powers regarded as "above nature" in that they cannot be explained from the laws of the natural world.   The term often implies divine intervention, such as miracles.

A best practice of making EVP recordings, whereby a person records a message explaining any non-paranormal sounds that he/she created, or for which a non-paranormal source was identified.  Ideally the person "tags" before and after any sounds that were the caused by a deliberate action, and after any sounds that were unplanned.  Examples include:

"This is John.  I'm moving to the other end of the room" (Move takes place.)  "This is John.  Move completed".
"This is Mary.  I bumped into a table."
"This is Joe.  That sound was a car passing by."

Talking Board
A generic name for boards similar to Oui-Ja boards, but which do not bear the "Oui-Ja" trade name.  For more information see "Oui-Ja Board".

A psychic phenomenon whereby objects are moved by the powers of the mind, with no physical contact.

The transmission of information, images or messages from the mind of one person to that of another.

The theoretical term for moving of an object from one location to another without it being physically transported.  A good example of teleportation is the ever popular, "Beam me up, Scotty."

Token Object Reading   * NEW *
Originally called Psychometry, it refers to the ability of a medium to receive information about a person by touching or holding an object that belonged to him or her. 

A sleeplike state during which there is an altered state of consciousness.  Trance mediums claim that spirits can speak through them while they are in this state, and report that they often have no memory of what was said.

Trance Medium  * NEW *
A medium who enters a trance-like state in order for spirits to speak through him or her.  Trance mediums differ from other types of mediums in that spirits or paranormal entities speak THROUGH them instead of To them.

Unintelligent Haunting
While not one of the official classification of hauntings, the term is sometimes synonymous with "Residual Haunting", and is used to indicate that there's no intent by the spirit to communicate with or otherwise affect those who might be present, or that the spirit is "mechanically" reenacting an event..
(See also "Residual haunting" and "Haunting".)

Mythical creatures, also known as "the undead", believed to be the re-animated human corpses that must consume human blood in order to continue to survive.  In folklore, the term most often refers to blood-drinking humans from Eastern Europe.

The practice of drinking the blood of a person or animal. 

Anything swirling rapidly around a center.  Physical examples include tornadoes and water going down a bathtub drain.  In metaphysical terms a vortex is a spiral created by energies that are converging and merging.  Vortices sometimes appear in photographs as translucent or ghostly funnel shapes.  New Age philosophy proposes that there are major energy vortices throughout the world, and that exposure to them can have wide-ranging beneficial effects.  It's believed that Sedona, Arizona is the site of the most powerful vortex in the U.S.  To date, however, we haven't seen any photographic or videographic evidence of the Sedona vortices.

White Noise   
A composite of all audible frequencies which when played creates a faint, almost undetectable hissing sound.   White noise originally was used as a method of rendering conversations inaudible or difficult to discern; for example as a privacy measure in offices with open floor plans.  Recently it's been used in conjunction with EVP recordings.  The theory is that a spirit or paranormal entity may be able to manipulate the energy of the white noise to form words that could be picked up on recording equipment.

X-Rays  * NEW *
Electromagnetic radiation that has a frequency of 0.01 to 10.0 nanometers.  Depending on ntheir frequency, they are further classified as "soft" X-Rays or "Hard" X-Rays.  Hard X-rays can penetrate solid matter and are used for diagnostic purposes in the medical profession. 

Zener Cards (a.k.a. ESP Cards) 
A deck of 25 cards (5 each of circle, square, cross, star, three wavy lines) designed by the perceptual psychologist Karl Zener for use in card-guessing tests of ESP, such as telepathy.
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