To understand what is being talked about in reference to the paranormal realm, it's important to at least have a few definitions under your belt.  The 'science' of the paranormal is a wide and varied one, growing all the time, and knowing as closely as possible about what may be affecting you, or what you are seeking more information on can be most helpful.  Here at Core Paranormal NZ we are of course mostly interested in the spiritual paranormal - however we are open minded to other aspects of the paranormal realm, such as ESP, Crypto-zoology-ufo and mysteries in general.
WHAT IS A GHOST?
Ghosts Vs. Spirits:   Generally speaking, ghosts may be defined as the earth bound spirit or energy of a deceased person or animal.  Mostly the word ghost is used to describe the 'human' deceased - however as investigation into the paranormal has evolved, it has become obvious that a wide range of animals may also be detected remaining after their deaths.  Most popularly these may be cats and dogs, however there are cases where horse, rodent and farm animal spirits have been detected.
So if a ghost can be called the 'spirit' of a being, are ghosts spirits and are spirits ghosts?  This may be acceptable in a broad and loose terminology, however many people actually believe that a ghost and a spirit are separate anomalies altogether.
General consensus seems to say that while a ghost is earth bound or 'stuck' to a particular place or person, a spirit has more 'freedom' for want of a better word.  A spirit has or may have had, the opportunity to cross over into the spiritual realm and is able to return to the world of the living again, once or even numerous times.  A ghost however is accepted to have never crossed over in the first place.
Ghoststudy.com offers a definition there from their founders, which they prefer to subscribe to, saying '...spirits come back to watch over us and comfort us.  Ghosts do not.'
TYPES OF GHOSTS OR  MANIFESTATIONS
There are several accepted different types of ghosts that have been given title depending on how, where, what or who they haunt.  There are also different ways in which a ghost haunting a site may make its physical appearance known.  Some of those we will list here, and may add to later if the need arises.
Apparition:   One of the most commonly visually experienced manifestations of a ghost that people encounter - however most people may not even realize they have even seen the ghost until after the experience has passed.  Usually these are seen as a mist, semi-transparent or solid form.  The somewhat controversial belief of paranormal Orbs may also come under the manifestation of a ghost heading.  While many people prefer to ignore orbs as being caused by dust, moisture, pollen or insects we at Core NZ are open to the 1% of orb phenomena that cannot being readily explained being potential paranormal activity.
Apparitions may also make their presence known in other ways, including audible encounters, different aromas or emotional changes.
Crisis Apparition:   Most often this is the spectral presence of a loved one or friend that manifests as a voice or full-body apparition at a time of stress, high emotion, danger or fear.  Usually their presence is to warn of the death or mis-adventure of that person appearing, however they are known to make warnings to others about their own safety.
Poltergeist:   While the origin of this word is Germanic, meaning 'noisy ghost (or spirit)' today we call them "poltergeists" ;it has been adopted throughout the word to describe usually scary or intrusive ghosts who's activities may include smashing things, throwing things, setting fires and attacking people - biting, scratching or slapping them.
General research seems to have uncovered that poltergeists are often closely associated with and centralize around a particular person, usually pubescent and more times than not female.
Shadow Ghost:   These ghosts appear throughout the world and more often than not have a malevolent presence as opposed to being benign or unthreatening.  However, while they may unsettle those who encounter them, they do not appear to interfere with people physically, instead they seem to have a role of 'watcher'.  They are usually described as wearing a long dark overcoat and wearing a fedora-type hat - but any details beyond that is usually undetectable.
Anniversary Ghost:   Most commonly this is another of the apparition ghosts, however this one appears to haunt only around the time or place of their death, or another significant event of their life.  Usually these events are of the highly emotionally charged type, such as a tragic death or event such as a wedding.
Messenger Ghost:   An example of this type of ghost is the Banshee, an Irish spirit who's wailing is said to herald the imminent death of someone related to those who hear her.  Other examples of this type included the return of a family member who has already passed to signal the death of, and maybe even help with, the transition of another to the other side.
Demon:   Often used very loosely, this is the term given to ghosts or spirits of strong negative intent or those that harm or try to possess people.  It may include poltergeists, however is most often associated with religious beliefs.

WHAT IS A HAUNTING?
As well as being different types of ghosts - there are many different ways in which they interact with the living, or 'haunt' us.  A basic explanation for the term 'haunting' is a situation of a person, place or thing being frequented by a ghost or ghosts.  The presence of such ghost/ghosts may be recognizable in many ways, including audibly, visibly, things being moved, changes in emotion or physical connection.
Residual Haunting:   This may be the most commonly encountered visual haunting, where occasionally a ghost is seen to be seemingly carrying out the activities it may have frequently done while alive.  A commonly held description of this type of haunting is that it resembles a loop of film that keeps playing exactly the same over and over.
Due to the repetitive nature and the fact that the ghosts of this type of haunting fail to recognize or interact with the living people in the environment, some investigators now believe this may not actually so much be the case of a ghost even being present, but more likely the replaying emotional imprint of the person when they were alive.
Poltergeist Haunting/Activities:   Probably the most aggressive and frightening of all hauntings, it appears a poltergeist may deliberately seek out people to deliberately and malevolently interfer with their lives.  This may include attacking people directly, ruining furnishings and property and setting fires.  Growing belief by investigators seems to indicate that since most poltergeist activity is connected to the angst of a pubescent youth, that it may actually be psychic in nature, as opposed to spectral.
Traditional/Intelligent Haunting:   This is most commonly accepted as a haunting where a ghost is aware of, and may interact with, the people, place or thing it haunts.  It may have a strong link to that situation from its past also.
Wintersteel.com describes this type of haunting as '...the personality of a person who once lived (at that location or with that/those person/people) and has stayed behind in our world instead of passing over to the other side.....There is a good chance they don't even know they are dead'.
Portal/Vortex Haunting:   A portal or vortex is generally described as an area where there is a break or 'chink' in the wall that separates our living world with that of the spiritual realm or afterlife.  It is not always clear why these portals appear or even where, but it is accepted that spirits may use these to travel back and forth between the two realms.  Places where vortices or portals exists may also suffer higher amounts and types of hauntings.
Possession:   The occurrence of the possession of a person of object is held as widely as possible, especially in religious circles.  It is generally said to be the 'taking over' of a person/object by a malevolent force or spirit, broadly determined to be a demon or perhaps the Devil himself.  Symptoms of possession may include a person having a drastic negative change in personality, suffering illnesses or purporting knowledge that should not or could not have come to them.
This is our definitions page, we hope it helps you in some way towards understanding what can happen with hauntings, ghosts & spirits
Copyright Core Paranormal NZ 2009