Established in 2010, DPRG has been investigating and researching the paranormal in central and southern Delaware and the surrounding areas ever since.  We attempt to research the paranormal scientifically. 




Felton, Delaware




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What Are Ghosts: A Tri-Philosophical Discussion

September 25, 2017


By the author of Anatomy of a Ghost: A Guide to Analyzing the Dead

I attended a speaking event one evening with a Parapsychologist.  I remember distinctly that a woman in the audience asked him if ghosts were the souls of a dead people.  He hedged from admitting that bold statement.  Then the woman became combative, basically halting the presentation so that she could pepper the speaker with questions.  She believed ghosts were the souls of the dead and why wouldn’t he confirm that? Why? Why? Why wouldn’t he just say it? It amazed me just how emotionally invested she was in the belief, that if anyone dissented, especially if a subject matter expert on the subject disagreed, that she would get that upset.  

As rude as she was, I wondered if she hadn’t lost someone close to her.  When this happens this question becomes far less academic, and far more personal. Because if ghosts exist (A), and they’re the soul of a dead person (B), then my loved one might come back to me as a ghost (C). And there you have the spiritual ABC’s.  People often believe in this premise simply because they want so strongly to believe.


I was taking a course in Psychology, while working on my latest degree. The professor had all of the students stand up and introduce themselves, tell the class what your major was and a little about yourself etc.  I was one of only three older adults in a large class of essentially teenagers.  When my turn came I did the requisite, “hi, I’m Robin and I’m studying…and in my spare time I’m a ghost hunter.”  You would have thought I had said my made my living pole dancing, by the sea of shocked and disgusted faces I had looking back at me.  One young man was even so bold as to announce to the class that there is “no such thing as ghosts.”  Old, slow, and now apparently a freak as well, I didn’t find my classmates overly friendly throughout the rest of the course. (However, the professor, was fascinated and we would often converse about our experiences.)  I learned more than just psychology in that course. I learned to pick and choose carefully who I told about my passion.


I share these two stories to demonstrate either extreme of the spectrum, between those are completely closed to the idea that anything paranormal could ever be real versus those who so vehemently wish to believe that ghosts are proof that we survive death that they resist any other theories.


For the true skeptics the question of the paranormal is absurd, because there are no such things as ghosts. Not surprisingly, most staunch non-believers never have a paranormal experience, because they’re vehemently closed to the very idea.  I’ve often attributed this to the sheep-goat theory.


Very briefly, Professor of Psychology at City University of New York, Gertrude Schmeidler first coined the phrase in 1942. She was trying to explain the disparity in psi test results between people who believed in psi (formerly extra-sensory perception or ESP) or were at least open to the idea versus those who denied the very possibility of psi. The subjects that believed in psi she called sheep.  The sheep, when given an ESP card test tended to score statistically above chance by a significant margin. Goats, who said they did not believe in psi tended to score statistically below the level of chance, again by a significant margin.


When it comes to belief in the paranormal adamant non-believers (goats) of psychic experiences rarely have such an experience. They deny or block their otherwise natural psi abilities. I’m talking about psychic abilities now because researchers have suggested that when someone experiences something paranormal they’re actually experiencing it via their sixth sense – their psi ability which parapsychology researchers believe we all possess to some degree or another.  Thus if you see an apparition of a woman in white, you’re not actually seeing it with your eyes, but with your mind. This helps explain the anomaly where not everyone in a group sees a ghost, but only one or two do. 


This also accounts for the fact that children, especially small children, appear to have more experiences with the paranormal than older adults. I.e. that imaginary friend may be more than simply imaginary. Children have psychic experiences because they haven’t yet been conditioned to the idea that they can’t have them. (Also, it is believed that psi abilities are stronger in the young, and decrease as we age.) Thus young Caiden in Chapter Five playing Peek-a-boo with his grandfather is not uncommon - despite the fact that Grandpa is deceased.


One learned psychologist, a skeptic, suggested that ghosts existed only in one place, a person’s mind.  He speculated that we made up ghosts to fill a need within ourselves.  In one of his cases he met with a young married couple who felt their house was haunted. The wife kept seeing a child apparition in the home. It turned out the young woman was desirous of having children of her own, and when she became pregnant the child apparition disappeared. Poof. How neat and tidy is that explanation?


Of course psychologists have also suggested that when we get caught and punished for a crime, it’s because we wanted to be caught. Hence, when I get stopped by a cop and handed a very expensive speeding ticket I make sure to always thank him for fulfilling my unspoken need.  (By the way it hasn’t escaped my notice that I got far more warnings when I was in my twenties, and far more tickets when I was in my forties, despite my vast pole dancing fame.)


I digress. Back to the learned psychologist that suggested that ghosts were purely a figment of our imagination created to fill a need.  I have met people that want so very much to have an experience that they grasp at anything and everything as evidence.  Whether they just crave the thrill or have lost a loved one with whom they wish to connect.  But while this may be true in some cases, I disagree that it’s true in all cases. Just as I don’t honestly need another speeding ticket, not all of my clients desire a haunting. The sometimes panicked voices I’ve heard on the phone imploring me to, “please come as soon as you can. I’m afraid to stay in my own house!”  These are people, not seeking attention, but relief.


For many Christians a ghost is a demon. All souls get dispersed of course, upon death, and either take the escalator up or down, you either get household goods or women’s lingerie depending on your proclivities.  Hence anything of a paranormal nature gets labeled as evil. I once had such a person request membership in the group. He made it through two investigations before having a major melt down. I felt bad for him. How could you have that belief system and ever knowingly walk into a building that you believe was haunted? It would have to be terrifying.


Ghosts may also be a series of misinterpretations of natural phenomenon.  One of my investigators, Maya, often recalls moving into a new house, where when the wood floors made a crazy popping sound every time the temperature changed.  It took a couple of sleepless nights before she and her husband figured out that it was the floors and not an interloper in their house.  The banging of pipes, loose windows that rattle, things that fall over because of gravity and not a ghost, all these can be labeled a ghost. I have a haunted house theory which suggests a snow ball effect. Many people, once they think a building is haunted, henceforward believe that everything that happens is because of the ghost. And of course each new bit of evidence gets weighed in with the old as the mound of misinterpretation mounts. I once had a woman ask me to do an investigation because she’d seen an orb in a picture, and a small child in the home would walk up to the staircase and put his hands out like he wanted to be carried up the stairs. Now that’s a mole hill and not a mound of evidence. Of course she started the conversation by telling me when such and such family member passed. So I guessed we were talking about a combination of soul of the dead guy and misinterpretation.


So what is a ghost?

a)     A figment of our imagination

b)     A figment of our imagination created by our imagination to fulfill a need

c)      The soul of a dead guy who somehow became earthbound

d)     A demon

e)     Misinterpretation of natural phenomenon

f)       Other


Let’s consider F for a moment.  In my own studies, readings and writings, I’ve found a strong correlation between what the ancients believed about ghosts, (in particular the Egyptians who as we all know made the afterlife their main area of focus) what parapsychologists suggest about ghosts, and what those in the magical studies propose a ghost to be.  It was a revelation I had one day, that these three disparate groups, while labeling them with different names, were essentially all saying the same thing.  After more than a decade of study, debate and writing I found that while the terms vary greatly, the ideas at their basest elements were very similar.


The Dead of Egypt


No one can deny that one of the most supernaturally predisposed culture was that of the ancient Egyptians with their elaborate traditions of mummification and their monolithic pyramids filled with treasure built to shelter the pharaohs in their never ending afterlife. 

For the Egyptian’s no human was merely physical, but consisted of several elements. Each human had a body or physical presence as well as a shadow, a double, a soul, a heart, a spirit, a name, a power and a spiritual body. After death the shadow departed, and could only be brought back with a mystical ceremony.  There were subtleties to the different entities that are hard to describe with our western terms such as soul.


The double or ka (the double or image or character) of the deceased lived with the body in the tomb, or didn’t if ceremonies were not performed properly.  So it was the ka that was the immortal dweller of the tomb, and was believed to be the one to inhabit the statue of the deceased.  A statue closely resembling the deceased was thoughtfully left for that purpose. So important to keeping the double satisfied that special priests, called priests of the ka were called in to minister to the ka, and there was a special room of the tomb set aside for the ka, called the house of the ka (3). 


It was the ka, who if not properly maintained became a wandering spirit after death.   Apparently the ka had an insatiable appetite and needed to be fed with offerings of meat and drink.  Should the offerings not be performed, the ka might depart the tomb in search of food.  Apparently the ka did not have a refined palette and would consume any dung or filthy water it came across.


The ba (or soul) resided in heaven with Osiris or Ra.  It was capable of returning to the tomb at will, however, and could also partake of the offerings of food and drink that were left for the ka.  It could assume a material or semi-material form sometimes.


 At times the ba and ka might become united, into a being that was called the Akh or khu or akhu, which was an enlightened being.  Earlier Egyptians believed that only Pharaoh could achieve this union, but later interpretations declared that people of higher moral character could as well.  To become an akh or enlightened spirit one must be judged just.  These souls were allowed to live among the gods or among the pole stars which never set.  However, the akh spirit could interact with the living as well, and it was the akh that returned as an unhappy spirit to harass the living.  If proper burial rites had been neglected or if someone close to the akh had sinned against him or her, then the akh could return briefly to the Earth to seek restitution. 


Notice the disparity between the ka and the ba.  The ka, while sharing some of the characteristics of the deceased, served more as a kind of caricature of the deceased.  It really didn’t exhibit sound critical thinking skills, choosing to drink fetid water and eat poo. The ba, which did go to a type of heaven, could come back briefly only to redress issues, and then had to return.  Most ancient cultures believed that the soul of a person departed to some other plane of existence after death, especially if the burial rites were performed properly.   


Magical Disciplines

Students of the magical disciplines are taught as well that a human is an entity comprised of several elements or levels.