Ghost vs Spirit: The Definitive Guide

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The words ghost and spirit are usually thought to have the same meaning. majority of the time they are generally used to describe all paranormal activity.

However, they refer to two completely different things. Spirits and ghosts are in fact two entirely distinct beings. They not only look but also feel significantly different from one another.

Learning the main factors that determine the difference between spirits vs ghosts will aid you in figuring out what is actually lurking around your home, waking you up in the middle of the night, or breathing on your neck while you watching tv.

Ghost vs Spirit

The Difference Between Spirits and Ghosts

The difference between spirits and ghost are the way they manifest themselves and they’re motives for making contact.

Spirits are beings that once lived a somewhat average life and aren’t aware they are passing through the purgatory of the afterlife.

Ghost, on the other hand, may have experienced a more discomforting life and have a grudge or feel the need to linger around a place or object seeking justification for their untimely passing.

The way these two entities behave and communicate is the most important characteristic when attempting to distinguish the contrast between the two. let’s take a closer look at each one of them to fully understand what they are individually.

What Is A Spirit?

A spirit is the soul of a person or animal, which has not yet moved on to “the other side”.

This person’s or animal’s physical body has died a reasonably normal death, however, they remain in this world. The term “spirits” usually implies those who come from the other side of “light”.

Spirits could be people you don’t know, friends, pets, and/or relatives that have stayed (or come) to visit with a specific purpose.

This type of entity is not ready to move on and usually shows an urgency to remain in the realm of the living. The only problem is that they lack the physical body to live in anymore.

Through years of research and observations, it is believed that spirits have the ability to access other “worlds” and dimensions as freely as they please. It is also believed that they can move back and forth from those dimensions to that of the living at will.

Unlike other entities, spirits are not restrained to the site or location of their death.

After a person crosses over to the spiritual plane, they still maintain their personality, form, and identity… Only without a physical body.

The only true difference between the living and a spirit is the world that we both operate in – the living, in the physical plane, and a spirit in the spiritual plane.

Are Spirits Good or Evil

Are Spirits Good or Evil

Spirits commonly have a positive connotation and essence to them. A spirit could have a powerful emotional connection to a person, usually a relative or loved one.

This can cause them to “visit” this individual frequently, which is why so many people express having the feeling the presence of a loved one who has died.

These encounters are most of the time accompanied by a positive and soothing feeling, rather than a dark or intimidating one.

Among other reasons, spirits may also come to protect, observe, and share their experience or knowledge with us (the living). These beings are thought to come from a place of higher understanding and enlightenment.

Communicating With Spirits

Communication with spirits is usually referenced to as a pleasant experience, peaceful and positive in nature. One of the many ways that a spirit may communicate with the living is through dreams, formally called visitations.

On many occasions, these visitations are dismissed as simply vivid dreams or wild imagination. Yet, it is often a way for a spirit to try and communicate with us and deliver a message. A Spirit Box is a great tool many people use to track spirits trying to make contact.

Visitations are usually the most common way for a spirit to try and communicate with the living. While awake we tend to be more easily distracted and prone to overlooking hints and “signs” that they may be sending us.

Many of us tend to be busy on a daily basis and usually rushing to go somewhere or do something.

In a dream, we are often more willing to pay close attention to small details, not rush away somewhere else, and less affected by distractions. We tend to be more present in the moment and attentive to what is going on around us.

Our conscious minds aren’t active and won’t quickly sweep away messages -which allows more time for understanding to happen in the dream state.

Spirits in Animal & Object Form

Spirits in Animal & Object Form

Spirits are also able to appear as different forms of animals. Butterflies and dragonflies are often believed to be the spirit of a lost relative or loved one trying to communicate.

It is also believed that spirits are associated with coins, either by communicating a specific date through the coin or hearing the sound of coins hitting a surface to announce their presence. Spirits might also try to communicate with the living using our sense of smell, taste, and touch.

There is a wide variety of ways that a spirit might use to deliver a message or communicate with the living. In order to thoroughly perceive and understand those messages, we must have an open mind and soul to accept what we are receiving.

Different Types of Spirits

As I have stated before, spirits are generally positive light beings who remain or visit the physical plane to protect or communicate with loved ones.

Many people actually enjoy and intentionally seek contact with spirits. These individuals find fulfillment in surrounding themselves with this type of clean and pure positive light or energy.

They feel they are kept safe from darker entities they might encounter.


Archangels are believed to have the ability to take on human form. They tend to help larger groups of people and have a specific topic that they take care of.

It is believed that they are beings that have never lived on earth before.

Guardian Angels

Guardian angels are usually known for their wisdom and knowledge due to spending most of their time in the spiritual plane.

They usually serve as protectors to people, providing spiritual guidance and support as well as warning of other dangerous entities.

Ascended Masters

Ascended masters are very similar to archangels with the difference that they have lived on earth at some point.

They are believed to be spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans, but who have gone through numerous spiritual transformations also known as initiations.

It is believed that they have been “re-birthed” and now hold a higher and deeper knowledge, which they use to spread the “light”. Religious deities are believed to be a type of ascended masters.

Loved Ones

Relatives, or Loved Ones, are notably one of the most common types of spirit. A relative who has passed away or even a cherished pet will often try to make contact with a subject in hopes of delivering a positive message or say their goodbyes.

Gary Galka designed the Mel-8704R to make successful connections with his long lost daughter. More about that here.

Spirit Guides

Spirit guides are not what we typically would consider a spirit. They usually refer to humans who have special spiritual abilities and are more connected to the spiritual plane. Their form may vary, but they generally link to one particular person who they protect and guide.

Spirit guides can also come in your typical spirit form, who attach themselves to an individual in order to aid in their spiritual journey.

Ghost Hunting Tips

What Is A Ghost?

One could say, ghost are individuals who have undergone a sudden and tragic passing, expressing resentment on the physical plane. Unlike spirits, ghosts are individuals who have not undergone the tunnel of “light” experience.

Their state of mind is one of obscurity or lack of understanding, as they struggle with the present, past, or future fears.

Ghosts are similar to psychotic human beings, incapable of reasoning for themselves… Spirits, on the other hand, are the surviving personalities of all of us who pass through the door of death in a relatively normal fashion.

Hans Holzer (Professor of Parapsychology and author of 119 books on the subject).

As Holzer stated, a ghost is almost incapable of reasoning or using a logical mind. Ghosts are generally bound to the location of their death.

They don’t actually have to be stuck or bound to a specific location. Objects and even people can become haunted or possessed. With a deep enough connection, the ghost will make attempts to inhabit the person, place, or thing.

Why Do Ghost Exist?

A ghosts’ death was usually unexpected, abrupt, tragic, or a murder. In most cases, they have not come to realize that they have actually died… causing further discomfort and more of an internal turmoil.

Many experts in the field believe that ghosts have unfinished business in the physical world, which keeps them restrained to a particular site or location.

Violent or abrupt deaths don’t usually allow for the sufficient time needed to get their affairs sorted out before their passing. Again, creating somewhat of restraint not allowing them to move on or leave.

One of the simplest forms of unfinished business can be as harmless as a person being so powerfully connected to their home that they refuse or are unable to move on and leave it behind.

These types of ghosts are usually referred to as “caretakers” and they want to stay in order to continue taking care of the property. Caretakers might also feel as though any future owners of residents of the home must have or earn their approval to stay.

However, unfinished business can also take a more sinister form when the individual’s death was extremely violent and painful. These types of entities may, in fact, try to cause harm to the living.

Regardless of the severity or reason for the unfinished business, a deep attachment to a physical or emotional aspect of our world is what keeps them from passing on.

What Can Ghost Do

What Can Ghost Do?

Ghosts usually are not out to harm you! Most believe ghosts communicate through sightings. Even though it may be their only actual ability, they sometimes show the potential to do more physically. 

Their “powers” or abilities are believed to vary depending on their strength. Some manifestations require more energy than others. This might be why some ghosts are only able to communicate in one particular way.

There have been reports of ghosts demonstrating the ability to speak, create sounds, change the smell of a room, move objects, and even control the temperature.

Since ghosts generally experience very tragic or violent deaths, they are usually consumed by dark and negative energy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are always demonic or harmful though.

That negative aspect of them usually depends on what they were like when they were alive.

Keep in mind, not every ghost has had a tragic or painful death. Some might have just had a rough and troublesome life, which has left them with an overwhelming amount of negative emotions and dark feelings.

This could even be the very reason they are unable to move on and find the “light”.

Different Types of Ghost

Ghosts are usually thought to be dangerous, although that isn’t always the case. Their tragic and usually violent deaths do mean that they are generally associated with darkness, yet there is still a wide variety of them.


Ectoplasms, or ecto-mist, have been described as a supernatural thick substance that expels from the body of a medium during a spiritualistic session.

Mediums often create this material as a result of manifesting ghosts. They are thought to be either neutral colors like black, grey, or white. Although they usually stay above one individual or place, it is believed that they can move around extremely fast.

An ectoplasm will most likely be seen in historical sites, battlefields, or even graveyards. They are considered to be very old souls, stuck in time and history.

Funnel Ghosts

Funnel ghosts are most commonly seen in historical buildings or homes. They are frequently associated with a drop in temperature (cold spot). They take the shape of a swirling funnel. Many paranormal experts believe that they are a loved one, relative, or former owner of the home, coming back to visit.

Due to their appearance and manifestation as a twist of light, they are often caught in photographs or on video often recorded by ghost hunting camcorders.



Poltergeist is one of the most common terms used when referring to a ghost. Most likely due to the word’s popular usage in movies recently. The word poltergeist actually means “noisy ghost”.

This type of entity is believed to have the ability to move objects, change the physical environment, and make loud noises.

Even though the terms are fairly common, a poltergeist is, in fact, one of the rarest types of sightings and hauntings. Despite them not being so common, these kinds of ghosts are referred to as one of the most terrifying types.

Poltergeists are usually the more powerful types of ghost. Having the ability to break objects, throw things across the room, open drawers, turn lights on and off, create loud noises, or even start fires.

Poltergeists tend to make their presence known in a very subtle but increasingly aggressive fashion. Once they spawn, their encounters will intensify gradually on to the impressionable guest.

This entity will have mostly bad intentions and will usually not leave on their own. They thrive on intense emotions like fear and distress.


Orbs are the type of ghost most photographed or recorded on video. They tend to appear as a transparent circle of blue or white light suspended in the background.

Most people believe that an orb is the soul of a human or animal that has passed away. Orbs are known to move around from one place to another. Their circular shape makes it easier to take motion.

It is often recognized as the first shape they take on before becoming more human-like.


Demons, or daemons (the older form of the word), are not the type of entity that you want to interact with. I strongly suggest not making any attempts to contact or summon a demon.

They are known for being extremely powerful and unpredictable. Demons possess the brawny ability to haunt homes, objects, and people. They can cause extreme physical and emotional harm to their victims.

Demons will usually present themselves as dense black masses. They are also recognized as shape-shifters, having the ability to transforms into different shapes.

Interactive Ghost

Interactive ghosts are the most common and often reported type to be around us. They tend to be a relative or someone we once knew.

They might be trying to send a message… More than likely regarding something unfortunate.

Interactive ghosts are thought to be some of the friendlier types of this entity. They usually have a connection to the person they are attempting to make contact with.

They will generally make their presence known through a scent that is familiar to them. These type of ghost are even capable of making noises and write out messages if vigorous enough.

In Summary

When it comes to the paranormal and the spiritual world… There is a lot that we still don’t know and plenty of misconceptions. There is not one conclusive and precise handbook when it comes to this topic.

Instead, there is a collection of research and experiences that help us better understand.

If you believe you are in contact with a spirit or ghost, always consider starting a journal. Try to document as many details of the encounter as possible. The more detailed and thorough your documentation is…

The more you be able to understand which type of entity you might be dealing with. Consider picking up tools like a Spirit Box or an EVP recorder to help collect data.

I hope this guide provides clarity and deeper comprehension of the encounters we experience with the paranormal.

Have you ever had an experience with a ghost or spirit? Why do you think they attempted to make contact with you?

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