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 Paranormal Terminology


Agent - (a) Person who attempts to communicate information to another in an ESP experiment. (b) The subject in a psycho kinesis experiment. (c) Person who is the focus of poltergeist activity.

Alpha Rhythm - Electrical activity in the brain (about 10 cycles per second) associated with a state of mental relaxation.

Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) - A term used to refer to any state of consciousness that is different from "normal" states of waking or sleeping. ASCs include hypnosis, trance, ecstasy, psychedelic and meditative experience. ASCs do not necessarily have paranormal features.

Angels - Benevolent spiritual beings who help people in need. Also known as a guardian angel.

Announcing Dream  - A dream believed to announce an individual's rebirth

Anomalous Experience - A general term referring to unusual experiences that cannot be explained in terms of current scientific knowledge.

Anomalous Phenomena - Phenomena that science, in its present state of knowledge, is unable to explain.

Apparition - The visual manifestation of a deceased person (commonly referred to as a 'ghost') or of a living person, known to be beyond the sensory range of the percipient.

Apport - A physical object which appears in a way that cannot be explained (seeming to come from nowhere). Apports are often associated with the séance room and physical mediums. Also known as materialization, teleportation.

Astral Body - A term used by occultists, spiritualists and theosophists to refer to a supposed "double" of the person's physical body. The astral body is believed to be separable from the physical body during astral projection (out of body experience) and at death.

Astral Projection - A term used by occultists, spiritualists and theosophists for the out of body experience. It is believed to result when the astral body separates from the physical body.

Automatic Writing – The ability to write intelligible messages without conscious control or knowledge of what is being written. Also known as automatism or dissociation.

Automatism  - Physical activities (e.g., arm movements, writing, drawing, musical performance) that occur without the automatist's conscious control or knowledge. Also known as motor automatism.


Banshee - In Gaelic belief, a banshee is a female entity who heralds a death by groaning and screaming.

Bilocation - Being (or appearing to be) in two different places at the same time.


Cerebral Anoxia - Lack of oxygen to the brain, often causing sensory distortions and hallucinations. Sometimes is used to explain features of the near-death experience.

Clairaudience - The paranormal obtaining of information by hearing sounds or voices. See also clairvoyance, clairsentience.

Clairsentience - An archaic term that refers to the paranormal obtaining of information using faculties other than vision or hearing.

Clairvoyance - A general term that refers to the paranormal obtaining of information about an object or event. In modern usage, this does not necessarily refer to obtaining information visually. ( clairaudience, clairsentience, ESP, PSI)
Clairvoyant Medium - A person who obtains information paranormally (often by spirit communication) without the need to enter into a trance state. Cf. trance medium.

Collective Apparition – an apparition seen by several people at the same time.

Crisis Apparition - An apparition in which a person is seen within a few hours of an important crisis such as death, accident or sudden illness. Also known as a sign.

Crypto zoology - the study of rumored animals that are presumed (at least by the researcher) to exist, but for which conclusive proof does not yet exist, or for animals which are generally considered extinct, but are occasionally reported. Those who study or search for such animals are called crypto zoologists, while the hypothetical creatures involved are referred to by some as "cryptids", a term coined by John Wall in 1983.


Deja`Vu - A person's feeling that current events have been experienced before.

Dematerialization - The paranormal fading or disappearance of a physical object.

Deport - The paranormal movement of objects out of a secure enclosed space.  Also known as dematerialization, teleportation.

Direct Voice - A voice heard in a séance which does not seem to emanate from any person. The voice may seem to come out of thin air, or from a trumpet used specifically for this purpose

Discarnate Entity Theory - A theory in regards to haunting which claims that exists some physical aspect of the body, such as a soul, that survives the body after death.

Dissociation - Activity performed outside of normal conscious awareness, or mental processes that suggest the existence of separate centre of consciousness.

Doppelganger - A mirror image or double of a person.


Empath - Someone who shows considerable empathy, especially of the apparently psychic type.
Empathy - The ability to understand the experience or emotional state of another person or animal. Often used to refer to an apparently psychic ability to experience another person's sensations, pain or emotions. Also known as clairsentience or intuition.

Evocation - The summoning of (often evil) spirits using a magical incantation or ritual.

Exorcism - A religious or quasi-religious rite to drive out evil spirits.

Experimental Parapsychology - Para psychological research involving experimental methods rather than survey techniques or the investigation of spontaneous cases.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP) - The ability to acquire information without using the ordinary senses of the body and without depending on logical inference. The term includes other phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.


False Awakening - An experience in which a person believes he or she has woken up, but actually is still dreaming.

Flying Saucer - A term, coined in 1947, to refer to unknown disk-like aerial objects, often believed to be extraterrestrial spacecraft. The term has now been largely superseded by "UFO".

Focal Person - Person who is at the centre of poltergeist activity.


Ghost - Popular term for an experience believed to indicate the presence of the spirit of a deceased person. See also apparition, haunting, poltergeist.

Glossolalia - Unintelligible speech generally uttered in a dissociated or trance state. Also known as "speaking in tongues".


Hallucination - A sensory experience that does not correspond to physical reality.

Haunting - Paranormal phenomena such as apparitions, unexplained sounds, smells or other sensations that are associated over a lengthy period of time with a specific location.


Incorruptibility - Inexplicable lack of decay in a corpse.

Indirect Voice - Mediumistic phenomenon in which the discarnate entity appears to speak using the vocal apparatus of the medium. Often the voice will sound very different from the medium's normal voice.

Intuition - The non-paranormal ability to grasp the elements of a situation or to draw conclusions about complex events in ways that go beyond a purely rational or intellectual analysis.

Invocation - Summoning benevolent spiritual beings.


Levitation - The paranormal raising or suspension of an object or person.

Life Review - Flashback memories of the whole of a person's life, often associated with the near-death experience.

Lucid Dreaming - Dreaming in which the person is aware that the experience is a dream. Often associated with feelings of aliveness and freedom, and with the ability to control dream events.

Lycanthropy - The supposed magical transformation of a person into the form of a wolf. Also knows as shape-shifting, therianthropy, or werewolf.


Macro-PK - Psychokinetic effects that can be directly observed rather than only inferred from statistical analysis.

Materialization - The formation of a visible and tangible object or human shape during a séance.

Medium - One who proclaims is able to communicate with the deceased.

Micro-PK - Psychokinetic effects that cannot be directly observed, but only inferred from the statistical analysis of data.

Miracle - A beneficial event attributed to supernatural or divine intervention.


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Near-Death Experience (NDE) - Experiences of people after they have been pronounced clinically dead, or been very close to death. Typical features of the NDE are an OBE, life review, a tunnel experience, light, coming to a boundary (marking death), seeing dead friends and relatives, experiencing a loving or divine presence, and making a choice (or being told) to return. Occasionally NDE’s can be frightening and distressing. NDEs often have profound effects on the person's later life.

Necromancy - Black magic practices involving communicating with the dead.


Occultism - Esoteric systems of belief and practice that assume the existence of mysterious forces and entities.

Out of Body Experience (OBE) - Also called astral projection; a fully conscious experience in which a person's consciousness seems to be outside of the physical body; believed to result when the astral body separates from the physical body.


Paranormal - Phenomena which seem to defy the known laws of science.

Parapsychology - Refers to the experimental and quantitative study of paranormal phenomena; the modern equivalent of psychical research.

Phenomenon - A phenomenon (plural: phenomena) is an observable event, especially something special (literally something that can be seen (from the Greek word phainomenon = observable).

Poltergeist - German word meaning "noisy or troublesome spirit". Poltergeist activity may include unexplained noises, movements of objects, outbreaks of fire, floods, pricks or scratches to a person's body. Unlike with a haunting, which are associated with specific locations, poltergeists typically focus on a person (the focal person or poltergeist agent) who is often a young child or adolescent. Many physical mediums experienced poltergeist activity in their childhood. Precognition - The ability to ascertain information about future events without the use of the normal senses and without logical inference.

Possession - Refers to cases in which a person's body is apparently taken over by another personality or entity. Cf. multiple personality. See also demonic possession, discarnate entity.

Psi - A term parapsychologists use to generically refer to all kinds of psychic phenomena, experiences, or events that seem to be related to the psyche, or mind, and which cannot be explained by established physical principles.

Psychic - One who possess PSI abilities.

Psychical Research - Term coined in the late 19th century to refer to the scientific study of the paranormal. Now largely superseded by "parapsychology".

Psycho kinesis (PK) - The ability to affect objects, events, or people without using the usual intervention by the muscular system


Raps - The name given to unexplained knocking sounds associated with physical mediumship and poltergeist activity.

Raudive Voices - Intelligible voices recorded on magnetic tape under conditions of silence or white noise that are heard only when the tape is played. A phenomenon discovered by Konstantin Raudive.

Reincarnation - The belief that some aspect of a person's being (e.g., consciousness, personality, or soul) survives death and can be reborn in a new body at some future date. Reincarnation is often seen as a repeating cycle of death and rebirth in which future lives are influenced by past and present actions through the law of karma.

Remote Viewing (RV) - An ESP procedure in which a percipient attempts to become aware psychically of the experience of an agent who is at a distant, unknown target location.

Retroactive Psycho kinesis - Paranormal influence that an agent can have on an experiment after it has been completed.

Retro cognition - Paranormal knowledge of past events.


Shape-Shifting - Paranormal ability to assume the form of another person, an animal or other entity.

Skeptic - A person inclined to discount the reality of the paranormal and to be critical of Para psychological research. Generally seeks rational or scientific explanations for the phenomena studied by parapsychologists.

Sleep Paralysis  - An (often frightening) state of seeming to being awake but unable to move.

Spectre - A ghost or apparition.

Spontaneous Human Combustion - Refers to cases in which a badly burned human body has been discovered in circumstances suggesting that the fire originated spontaneously in or on the body of the victim.

Stigmata - Unexplained markings on a person's body that correspond to the wounds of Christ.

Subliminal Perception - Perceiving without conscious awareness.


Telepathy - The ability to communicate directly through mind-to-mind contact and to perceive information directly from another's mind, without resorting to the use of the five known senses.

Teleportation - Paranormal transportation of objects to a distant place.

Temporal Lobe Activity - Electrical activity in the temporal lobes of the brain. Often associated with strange sensations, time distortions and hallucinations. Sometimes used as an explanation for seemingly paranormal experiences such as apparitions and alien abduction experiences.


U.F.O. - A UFO or unidentified flying object in the original, literal sense is any airborne object or optical phenomenon, detected visually or by radar, whose nature is not readily known. Interest in these objects stems from arguments that some of them display anomalous characteristics, especially the continued speculation that some of them may be the products of extraterrestrial intelligence.


White Noise - A hiss-like sound, formed by combining all audible frequencies.

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