Different Types of Ghosts and Spirits

Are ghosts real? If so, where go ghosts come from? We have explored these topics in previous articles. Today, we will look into the different types of ghosts you may encounter on your ghost hunting expeditions.

There are a number of different types of ghosts and spirits. And there are many ways they may contact you, which may surprise you. Many people think ghosts are all the same, but the truth is… There are many more. We have put together a list of the most common, which you may encounter.

Different types of ghosts

Orbs of Light

There are the most common, and well-known apparitions. They are small balls of light energy, which are usually white or blue. They are mostly spotted in photographs and in video footage. Most orbs can be discounted as dust floating around or reflections from shiny objects. Or even just glitches in the photo or video. Some of them though are genuine, and have been documented since cameras were invented. Orbs are believed to be a human or animal soul, and are built of electrical energy. Usually in a small ball of light, but other shapes have been seen. Orbs of light are much more common, and usually happen before a full-body apparition manifests. Read more on orbs in our different types of orbs article.

Paranormal investigators and psychic mediums all have different theories about the colours and meanings of orbs. For example, a clear, transparent orb may indicate that a spirit is trying to communicate with you. Or it may mean that they are stuck in the area they are seen in. White orbs are thought of as being friendly and protective, and positive in nature. Dark grey, brown and black orbs may represent something negative, and you mash wish to stay clear. Blue orbs are commonly a spirit who is offering to be a guide, and are helpful to psychic mediums. Light grey orbs can mean the spirit is depressed, trapped or confused.

Interactive Ghosts

The most obvious way that ghosts reach out to us is through a form of interaction. Which can happen in many ways depending on the form of ghost. Some examples they may reach us are hearing a whisper in your ear, feeling a touch, smells such as perfume and tobacco, emotions such as sadness or anger. There are many more, of course, some of the more uncommon ways are seeing a visual apparition or seeing objects move. Intelligent and interactive ghosts are the most common. Which are usually human souls, who still have free will and the same traits they had in life. Interactive ghosts are the ghosts we try to communicate with, if you need the tools for this, jump to our ghost communicators.

In the majority of cases, an intelligent ghost is haunting the area for a reason. They may have died in that area, or may have enjoyed being in that area in life. They may be a visiting a person or possession in that area as well. To stop this type of haunting, it’s best to find out what why the ghost is there. Which can be determined by listening to spirit and trying to communicate. You may need to help them achieve what they are currently attempting to achieve to move on. These types of hauntings are also known as interactive ghosts.


Ectoplasm is a strong form of ghost or energy. They are less obvious to spot than a full-body apparition. They can be described as having a mist looking appearance, which can be many colours from grey, black, purple, blue, green and more. This Ectoplasm, or ecto-mist, usually appears and disappears, or floats around. Ectoplasm is a strong force, and is usually accompanied by full-body apparitions. You can tell the different between ectoplasm and any natural gas, as they can flow in the opposite direction of airflow in the area. They usually hover off the ground and move quickly. And have been seen in graveyards, battlefields and historic sites.

Ectoplasm is believed to be something conjured or created by a psychic medium or witch. They are not fully understood, and often have a life of their own. Historically, it’s thought that some psychic mediums could actually expel Ectoplasm from their body. Which has been witnessed by many people in séances over the years.


The meaning of a poltergeist is often misunderstood. Poltergeist originates from a German word which mean “noisy ghost”. This type of ghost is most often used in horror films, such “Poltergeist”, “Paranormal Activity” and “The Changeling”. They are given the name due to the fact they can interact with the environment, and move and throw things. They are mostly negative, and try to harm and scare people. Often by opening and shutting doors, windows, cabinets, turning lights on and off, starting fires and throwing things.

When poltergeist activity occurs, it usually starts off small, and begins to escalate. Most people tend to write them off initially as the signs are small, but once they fully manifest you can’t mistake them. Often to the extent where it can’t be ignored. Poltergeists will not usually leave of their own accord, and may have to be forced out with a cleansing or exorcism. In severe cases, they may require multiple cleansing and exorcisms. They usually appear from invitation, from doing an Ouija board or trying to reach out to the spirit world. They can be drawn if traumatic events have occurred there, or from witchcraft activity. Furthermore, they can be attached to people, objects or places.

Funnel Ghosts

Funnel ghosts are also known as vortex ghosts, and are fairly common. Believed to be in visitation, and only appear in historic building or private homes in which they once lived. If a family memory or friends visits you inside your home, this would be considered a funnel ghost. This type of ghost isn’t usually seen, it’s usually felt. Normally in the form of cold spots, or getting a warm feeling like you are being cuddled. Their name is from the swirling, funnelling or spiralling vortex shapes which can be seen in photographs.
Funnel ghosts or vortex ghosts are not thought of as dangerous or harmful. And they are rarely, they are found outdoors. Due to their weak ability, they don’t cause much paranormal activity, and are a mild form of ghost compared to other types.


We have all heard of Demons, they are very common in horror films and in religion. They are very misunderstood because of how they have been presented on TV and in films. They are powerful, and have more power and ability than any ghost. Not only that, but they can take on any form, they can appear as a child, an object and even animals. They are strong enough to possess and take over the living.

Likewise, they can inflict mental and physical damage and usually torture anybody unfortunate enough to come across them. Many people report seeing them as a black mass, shadow figures, or disfigured people. As they can take any form or shape, nothing is impossible. They should be feared, and should not be taunted. Even the seasoned and professional ghost hunter should take care around them. They are known for seriously injuring and even killing people in tragic accidents. They usually leave a sulphur smell, or smell of rotting flesh or rotting eggs.

Demons are attracted to anything negative, drug users, places where bad things have happened such as murder, witchcraft, Ouija boards and even people with mental illness such as depression and schizophrenia. They feed off negative energy and take advantage of people with mental illness or who are feeling down or alone. They can be drawn to large groups of people, including clubs and bars where many people gather. Known as the mass crowd demon.

Cultural Ghosts

The majority of spirits and ghosts included in this article are universal. Separately, many cultures have their own mythology when it comes to hauntings. There are far too many to include them all. In Japan, there are rumoured to be wandering spirits, which are known as “Gaki”, or “Meun-botoke”. These spirits are believed to be able to inhabit the bodies of newly deceased people who died while being extremely jealous or angry.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to place a knife in the chest of the loved one, straight after death. This is a custom that some Japanese people follow. In Ireland, there are ghosts known as Theyshi or Tash for short. These are spirits from people who have died suddenly and unexpectedly. In Jewish culture, they believe in the Dybbuk, which is continually looking for a living human to possess. They are believed to be strong and usually malevolent. Each part of the world has its own beliefs on where ghosts come from and how to help them move on.

Possessed Humans

Humans who are possessed by a spirit or demon are often more frightening than a demon. As they are in full control of the human during the possession. Many ghosts and demons who posses the living have negative intentions, and often in cases to humans to harm themselves or others. And even kill in rare instances. Spirits who have the ability to possess are far more dangerous than all other ghosts, as they can use the possessed human to their will. They can do everything a poltergeist can do without having to recharge. And they can fully interact with other humans without drawing too much attention.

If you believe you are interacting with a person who may be possessed by a spirit or demon. You need to seek professional help immediately, preferably a demonologist or priest. Some witches and paranormal investigators may have skills to help as well. Negative ghosts and demons are very tricky, devious and persuasive, and may be undetectable to anyone untrained. Exorcisms will help in these situations, but only if done correctly by a professional. Attempting to do this in the wrong environment and without the skills is extremely dangerous and can often make things worse.

Shadow People

Many people report spotting Shadow People of the years. They are the usually seen from the corner of your eye, its rare they are seen in full view. They usually lurk in the shadows and stay at a distance, hiding around corners. If you do come face to face with a shadow figure, you will notice they don’t have any features. And their face is usually just a black hole. They are usually quick to flee, and will run through a wall or into the darkness.

They are usually described as being intimidating, negative, have a masculine appearance, and are quite tall. Theories exist that they take on a human shape to blend in with humans. They are believed to not be human in nature, and not even of this world. Many believe they are extra-terrestrials from a difference dimension in disguise. They may be viewed as being neutral and often observe people. No form of exorcism can remove shadow figures, if they do leave, it will be of their own accord.

Residual Hauntings

Residual hauntings are ghosts or spirits trapped in a loop. They are unaware of what is happening now, and are unable to interact with us. Residual haunted are linked with the stone tape theory, where memories or echoes are trapped in the environment and carry-on replaying. They often happen at set times or dates, usually when the ghost or spirit passed. Residual hauntings can mimic poltergeist hauntings in activity. Activity usually includes feelings (positive or negative), sounds, such as walking or music playing, children’s laughter etc. When activity occurs, it’s usually only for a few seconds at a time. It is recommended you just ignore them. If you do decide to try and communicate with them, you will need some ghost hunting tools such as an EVP recorder or EMF meter.

Animal Ghosts

Animal ghosts are one of the most welcomes types of hauntings. They are generally positive and playful. Animal ghosts are usually seen out of the corner of your eye, like seeing a cat dart into a room. Only to be gone when you follow it. They can be felt on the hands, arms and legs by owners in times of distress. As the pet tries to comfort its owner. Animal ghosts have been known to jump on your bed and settle in the place they liked to sleep. They love to rub against your leg and make their trademark noises.

Our pets like to give a psychic impression on the people and places they loved whilst alive. You can rest assured that your pet isn’t trapped in-between worlds, they just like to visit. Your pet will have moved on, but its aura stays around to protect you during life and after. If you don’t have a pet, and have never had a pet, beware of black dogs. They are usually a warning, telling you something bad is going to happen, or to stay away. They can also be protectors of some locations and may attack unwanted visitors.

Furthermore, many people believe that living animals such as cats and dogs can see ghosts. If your fury friend is barking in the corner of a room, your dog might be barking at a ghost.


There are an infinite number of spirits and ghosts roaming the world. All the way from positive to dangerous. It’s good to learn about the types of spirits if the paranormal is something you want to get into or pursue. It can help you to know whether to interact, ignore or avoid them. If you do experience a haunting, make sure you log everything, either on a notepad or on video. This will help you to recognise patterns, and will help you find out which type of spirit you are dealing with. Never go out ghost hunting unprepared, stay safe and enjoy your journey.

Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!