Can Good or Benign Ghosts Exist?

Heart Shaped Planchette On Ouija Board By Candle In Darkroom
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If you've had an experience that you think is a manifestation of a ghost, you may wonder whether it could be a good or playful spirit. Bad ghosts are the basis of many a scary movie, but are ghosts typically something to fear?

Harmless Ghosts

Rather than being malicious, most ghost and haunting activity are completely harmless. Ghost stories in literature and on film often focus on evil ghosts as that produces the best plot. The readers and audience want a scary story, and so that's the way it's written.

But harmful or "evil" spirit activity is very rare. Most haunting activity consists of unexplained noises, scents, sensations, or fleeting shadows. Sometimes things get moved and voices are heard. Rarely is an apparition seen. These can frighten people because they aren't expected and seem to be supernatural. But they are harmless.

In the vast majority of haunting cases, there really isn't anything to be afraid of. Our own fear and lack of understanding is the problem. Betty tells of an apparition who visits her at night. "Some nights I wake up with a lot of light moving around me just zipping back and forth. Sometimes it seems to play peek-a-boo with me in the hallway. Once I thought I saw a form of a person in the hall with what appeared to be a cloak either black or blue with white circles on it."

Poltergeists, or noisy ghosts, are a phenomenon where broken items might be attributed to the ghost. Some believers ascribe it to telekinetic activity by those in the household, while skeptics say it is a deliberate hoax, often done by adolescents.

Do Spirits Exist?

People in cultures around the world believe in spirits. Animism is the term applied by anthropologists to beliefs in many indigenous cultures that objects, places, and animals have a spirit. Placating these spirits or invoking them for protection is a feature of many cultural and religious practices and rituals.

Spiritualism was a practice that became popular in the United States and Europe in the 1800s and 1900s. The spirits of the dead were summoned by mediums through seances and trances to communicate with and guide the living. They are believed to exist on a higher plane after death and have access to knowledge that the living does not. Practices associated with spiritualism survive today, such as using an Ouija board or consulting a medium to contact a departed loved one.

Many religions, including Christianity and Islam, have a doctrine that the soul is distinct from the body and survives after death. In Christianity and Catholicism, souls are believed to proceed to an afterlife in heaven, hell, or purgatory rather than remaining where they interact with the living. While Catholicism includes practices such as praying to saints to ask for intercession with God, most Protestant religions do not. Angels are defined as purely spiritual beings, acting as messengers from God. Likewise, demons, being fallen angels, are spirits. They have a malicious intent to sway humans away from God, although they do so through temptation and trickery rather than attack.

Scientific proof of ghosts and spirits lacking. Whether they are good, bad, benign or malicious depends on your own beliefs and experiences.