Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
Before We Begin
I would like to preface this piece by stating that these are my opinions based on years of paranormal investigations and personal experience. You may know of instances that fly in the face of all you are about to read. These are simply my conclusions, formed by what I have seen and heard over time.
More Than Meets the Eye
I am regularly asked why, if spirits are all around us, they are almost never captured on film or audio. With so many reality shows devoted to the pursuit of finding ghosts and goblins, one would think that a few would slip through the cracks and appear in full-form for the world to see. That would all be well and good except for the fact that, much like a shy house cat, spirits are only seen when they want to be.
Different Categories of Ghosts
In the many years that I have written about true paranormal encounters, a couple of things have become apparent. One is that there are different categories of ghosts.
The first group consists of those who either don't realize or won't accept that they are dead. Perhaps they passed away suddenly as a result of trauma and can't overcome the shock of being ripped from one world and deposited into another. Whatever the case, when we do see images of ghosts on film, these are usually the ones we are observing. Since they don't know that they are dead, they don't feel the need to hide their presence.
The second group is spirits who are aware of their state, but choose to remain behind with the living. These tend to be the noisy spirits who are responsible for haunting the places they knew in life. If you see a shadowy figure gliding through a room or hear phantom footsteps, these restless spectres are usually behind the disturbances.
These old pros are seasoned and savvy enough not to get caught in the act. They know that to have their image captured in any way that would prove their existence could also very well lead to them being removed from the premises by an outside force. This is not a risk they are willing to take, therefore, they make themselves scarce whenever the chance of being recorded by any means is present.
The Difficulty of Capturing Ghosts on Film
When ghosts do appear on film, they usually do so in the form of orbs of light that flit through a room. These have been caught on film countless times in various situations when the presence of spirits is suspected. They can also present as foggy human forms that are not seen by the naked eye, but rather show up only on developed film or digital devices.
I have seen this last example only once in my experience. My brother's girlfriend worked in a healthcare facility that was said to be haunted by the spirits of three children who had died near the property. She and her coworkers reported that the youngsters would come out on rainy nights and play "Ring Around the Rosie" in the garden behind the building.
One night, a staff member recorded the vision on her cell phone and shared it with the other workers. Upon seeing the video, it looked very much like three misty, but distinct forms moving in a circle. According to all who had witnessed the children at play, they disappear with the rain. Perhaps, they use the inclement weather to shield them from the living. If that's the case, in this instance, their plan failed them.
There is also a documented incident that occurred in the United Kingdom in which a mother had taken her children on an outing to a local park. After enjoying a picnic lunch, she had gathered them together and snapped a family photo in order to commemorate the occasion. She noticed nothing out of the ordinary at the time.
When the woman picked up the pictures from the chemist a few days later, she discovered that there had been another child standing behind her own children. This would not have been disturbing except for the fact that the little girl who appeared in the photo was missing both of her eyes.
Ghosts Have an Agenda, Too
If you are someone who is determined to get that elusive ghost picture, I wish you luck. Even in circumstances in which one suspects a haunting, it is unlikely that the entities involved will allow themselves to be recorded in any fashion since to do so could very well lead to their being exorcised from the property.
If you suspect that something supernatural is occurring in your home and decide to reach out for help, keep in mind that it won't be a secret to the otherworldly residents. They long for peace in their surroundings in much the same way as the living.
Generally speaking, only the spirits who are ready to move on, but don't know how, will make their presence known to outsiders. Just as you have an agenda, sometimes, so do they.
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The Ghost in the Machine
It has long been thought that spirits can communicate with the living via electrical currents. This could explain the reports of such things as lights turning on and off by themselves, mysterious voices emanating from radios and televisions, stoves and other appliances turning on seemingly on their own, and other various manipulations of electricity that occur when a haunting is suspected.
I know from personal experience that the ghosts that haunted our former home utilized their ability to channel through electricity. We discovered early on that any bulb we put in the overhead light in our dining room would shatter into pieces within a matter of hours. An inspection of our electrical system found no fault in the socket or the wiring.
The spirits who inhabited our house also burned out every window air conditioner, DVD player, VCR, and television that we purchased no matter which room they happened to occupy. We were forever buying new items to no avail. It became clear to us that they had mastered the home's electrical system and were using it to make our lives miserable. In the end, we gave them what they wanted and moved out.
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP)
Electronic voice phenomenon occurs when spirit voices or other unexplained communications are recorded. This can occur both intentionally and unintentionally. Special EVP devices are available for those wishing to record in places that are thought to be hotbeds of paranormal activity.
My own experiment using an EVP recorder occurred a couple of years ago when I decided to explore a local department store that had a history of unexplained events taking place within its walls. Before I get to that, let me give you a little back story.
The large chain store had been built in close proximity to the site of a horrific fire that had claimed the lives of a mother, father, and their ten young children. The blaze had allegedly been set by the couple's fifteen-year-old daughter after her father had forbid her from dating her cousin.
It was reported that the girl, with the help of her younger brother, had doused the house with gasoline before setting it on fire. To add to the gruesome nature of the crime, they had allegedly nailed the windows shut so that the family would have no means of escape.
Neighbors claimed that they arrived on the scene and witnessed the mother's screams as she was being engulfed in flames. The two surviving children who had not been inside the house quickly became suspects. The case went to trial in 1969, but the case was thrown out on a technicality. To date, no one has been held accountable for the crime.
This leads me back to the purported haunting. It is thought by shoppers and employees alike that the store has become a haven for the spirits of the family who perished in the fire.
Customers have reported seeing a woman and a small child walking down an aisle only to disappear into thin air before their very eyes. They have also described incidents of hair being pulled by unseen hands and items flying out of shopping carts and landing on the floor. Employees have stated that products are regularly knocked off of shelves even when no shoppers are in the area.
Several workers who were assigned to the night crew claimed that they would stock the shelves and arrange them perfectly only to hear the items crashing to the floor the moment their backs were turned.
The crew that was tasked with keeping the toy department tidy seemed to fare the worst. They say that toys are removed from the shelves when no one is around. They also report hearing a woman's voice, garbled and unintelligible, speaking to them when they enter the toy area. It is said that the voice sounds as though it is coming from someplace underwater.
The playful chatter of children is also a common occurrence in the toy department. The laughter of several youngsters has been heard both during store hours and after closing.
My Experiment With EVP Recording
Having heard these stories for years, I decided to check things out for myself using my newly purchased EVP recorder. I wasn't permitted to conduct my experiment when the store was closed, which would have been optimal, so I made sure that I was there on a Monday morning when the doors opened for business.
I made my way through the store, recording device in hand. Unfortunately, muzak was playing over the loud speakers which did not make this an easy process. When I reached the toy department, I lingered for quite some time, hoping to garner the attention of the ghost children who were said to frequent the area. I didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary, but can say that the temperature seemed to drop ten degrees the minute I set foot in the toy aisle.
Later that day when I played back the recording, the only thing that stood out as odd was an intermittent tapping noise that sounded very much like Morse code. It probably had nothing to do with the alleged haunting, but it is worth noting. The store has recently closed, leaving the building's future, and that of its otherworldly residents, uncertain.
Much like spirits being captured on film, they seem to only be recorded when they allow it to happen. Again, I believe that their innate fear of being found out prevents them from making their presence known in a way that can be shared with others. There is a big difference between claiming to have seen a ghost and having actual evidence of the encounter. It can happen, but when it does it is the exception not the rule.
Recognizing the Signs
Contrary to what one might have seen on television and in movies, ghosts don't always make their presence known with easily noticeable gestures. Sometimes, they give us a gentle nudge and leave it at that.
Scents, Songs, and Symbols
For instance, I had a childhood friend whose mother would make her presence known every year on the anniversary of her passing by filling the house with the scent of her favorite perfume.
There are also instances in which someone who is bogged down in grief will turn on the radio and hear the favorite song of the person they lost. One lady shared with me that her mother had loved bluebirds and that on the day of her viewing, one of the tiny creatures had perched on the banister of the stairs leading up to the funeral home. The woman took this as a comforting sign that her mother was at peace.
A similar story that came my way was that of a young woman who had been killed in an automobile accident. Her family said that she had always loved horses and had been riding since she was barely able to walk.
A few days after she had been laid to rest, they were startled by the sound of horse's hooves on the street outside their house. When they went outside to see what was happening, they saw three riders, dressed in full regalia as they passed by. The mysterious equestrians had not acknowledged the family in any way and were completely unknown to them.
In the years that they had lived in the neighborhood, they had never before seen horses anywhere in the vicinity. Their daughter had only ridden on her grandparent's farm which was located miles outside of town.
These strangers would have had no way of knowing of the girl's love of horses, since it had not been included in her death notice. Her parents firmly believed that the horses and their riders had been sent by their daughter as a final goodbye before she made her way into the hereafter.
Contact May Be Friendly—or Not
When all is said and done, if a departed soul wishes to make contact it will find a way to do so. Some of that contact might be welcomed, as in the stories you've just read, while at other times it wreaks havoc on the living victims. Either way, we tend to be players in a game in which they make the rules.
Cindy Parmiter (author) from United States on September 30, 2019:
Absolutely. People tend to doubt their own eyes in these instances. Thank you for your comment.
brian from uk on September 26, 2019:
Beleave me they sometimes they look like you or me turn your head for a second and there gone depend s how sensitive you are
Tasha on March 25, 2019:
If ghosts really exists i have never seen them