Research Society Virginia Paranormal is dedicated to providing information about the paranormal.

Here are some terms we use in the field.

Also see "Paranormal Dictionary" for more



Apparition- a supernatural manifestation of a person (dead or living), animals or objects. Ghosts are apparitions of dead people. 

ApportAn object or living being that materializes from thin air in the presence of a medium.



Banshee- an Irish female spirit wailing

The Bell Witch- a legend of a haunting based on the bell family

Bewitch- to influence or affect especially injuriously by witchcraft; to cast a spell over

Bigfoot- a tall ape-like creature supposedly in northwestern united states



ClairvoyanceAbility to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception

Conjure- to summon a devil or spirit by invocation or incantation; to practice magical arts

Coven- an organized group of Wiccans, sometimes restricted to 13 members.



Déjà vuAn unexpected sense of familiarity with what is believed to be a new experience, place, person, or object.

Demon- an evil spirit

Demoniac- possession of a demon

Demonology- the study of demons

Devil- the chief evil spirit satan



Ectoplasm-a supernatural viscous substance that is supposed to exude from the body of a medium during a spiritualistic trance and form the material for the manifestation of spirits

Elements- air earth fire spirit water

EntityA disembodied “consciousness” commonly referred to as ghost, spirit or (if of an apparently malicious or resentful nature) demon

E.V.P‘Electronic Voice Phenomena.’ Disembodied “voices” and sounds imprinted on audio recording devices



Fairy- a mythological or legendary creature from folklore 



GhostThe image of a person witnessed after his/her death, reflecting the appearance of the living, physical body yet less substantial



Haunting- The manifestation of a ghostly presence, or presences, attached to a specific locale

Hobgoblin- Mischievous sprite (fairy, spirit) who delights in perpetrating pranks upon hapless humans, once widely believed in and dreaded throughout Europe and Celtic regions



IncubusStemming from medieval lore, a demonic entity capable of sexually arousing and sometimes assaulting human females



Jersey DevilIn the Pine Barrens region of northern New Jersey and New York, for more than two and a half centuries there have been reports of a very strange and singular creature described as having an equine head, glowing, reddish eyes, stork’s legs, forelimbs with claw-bearing paws, a pointed tail and membranous, bat-like wings. It emits a shrill, piercing scream, and has been sighted rifling through garbage, standing in paths and roads, and flying just above the treetops. One rather indistinct photo of this Jersey Devil has produced, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has yet recorded its ear-splitting cry.



Materialization- A ghost appearing visually, suddenly or gradually, sometimes indistinct, sometimes seemingly quite solid.



OracleA prophet, seer and visionary, especially one of renown. Also, a special device that aids in prognostication, such as a crystal ball.



Paranormal- The realm of occurrences and phenomena removed from those to which people are accustomed and comprehend, and presently uncategorized by standard academia.

Parapsychology- The avenue of paranormal studies and research relating chiefly to psychic abilities (e.s.p., telepathy) and spiritual phenomena.

Poltergeist- German for “noisy ghost.” This is an extremely rare occurrence wherein random objects are moved and sounds produced by an unseen force, the sole purpose of which seems to be to draw attention to itself. The phenomenon always involves a specific individual, frequently a child or adolescent. 

Possession- Invasion of the human mind by a spiritual or demonic entity, where the invading agent for a span of time, influences or entirely subverts the personality of the human host. It is in these instances that the boundaries of psychology, religion, and spiritualism are rendered less distinct.



Radiant Child- The apparition of a child that is seen glowing or surrounded by a bright aura.

Residual (Haunting)Psychic imprint of a scene that is repeatedly played out, where the witness of such phenomenon essentially is peering into the past.



Spunkies- The sad spirits of unnamed, unchristened or unbaptized children, believed by old Gaelic and English tradition to wander country roads in search of someone who will name them.

Succubus- “Female” counterpart of the incubus, a demonic entity said to inspire lust in men (and most inconveniently!), sometimes capable of physically attacking and inflicting injuries (bruises & slashes). Following a nocturnal visitation from a succubus, the human victim will always feel ill and depleted of vitality, and inexplicably “unclean.”



Voodoo- African magic traditions with a veneer of imposed  Catholicism from the new world taking root in the Caribbean particularly dark populous Haiti

Vortex- pl. Vortexes or Vortices. An anomaly that sometimes shows up in still photographs taken at the site of a suspected haunting, appearing as a translucent white, tube or funnel-shaped mass.



Wicca- Witchcraft as a recognized religion, the practitioners of which refer to their system as, “The Old Way” and “The Ancient Religion.” Wiccans in their rituals align themselves with elementals and the earth’s natural magnetic fields, personified by the names of ancient Greek, Egyptian and Sumerian deities.

Wraith/WraithThe image of a person appearing shortly before or after his or her death.



Yeti A legendary creature of Tibet’s Himalayan Mountains region, an anthropoid with both human and ape characteristics, the “Abominable Snow Man.”



Zarcanor – A malevolent spirit which attacks people while they’re asleep, inspiring nightmares, and sometimes even inflicting minor injuries