Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Why otherworldly spirits hang around on earth.

The new Ghostbusters movie has generated questions about the phenomenon of ghosts and sparked renewed curiosity about real life ghostbusters.

Indeed, there are many kinds of ghostly phenomena. They can be time-space anomalies, projections from the departed (who either need to communicate with earthly beings or are not yet aware they have passed), and even holographic images from other realities.

It is useful, however, to know that the alarming phenomena of slamming doors, windows rattling, and alarms mysteriously ringing are attributed to the work of a poltergeist; these are not the work of spirits who have passed over. They are considered to be unconscious projections from living people in that household.

And yes, there really are people who could be called ghostbusters. They have the paranormal ability to see, sense and communicate with a variety of ghostly phenomena.

Hard-headed souls

Usually the reason someone's spirit is hanging around on earth after she has passed on is because she has a compelling need to communicate to a living person. Typically it is something she feels emotionally distraught or incomplete about. A part of her emotional body is literally stuck here on earth. So the entirety of her soul cannot move on until there is a living witness to her story. Sometimes ghosts can hang around for hundreds or thousands of years in our time, waiting for the opportunity to communicate with the living. And sometimes ghosts keep appearing for centuries, apparently still not ready to move on.

Foul play and injustice

Most often ghosts want to let someone know the truth about how they died because there has been some element of foul play or injustice related to the circumstances of their death. They want someone to know the truth. This is why there are many hauntings clustered around the sites of battlefields where young people have lost their lives; locations where natural catastrophes instantly claimed lives; places where murders, ambushes, or massacres have occurred; and prisons where people have been tortured to death or wrongly incarcerated. Not surprisingly, these are the kinds of locations where people who are no longer living seek to communicate and to be acknowledged by the living.

Spirits on Capitol Hill

Over the centuries there have been many ghost sightings in and around the White House and the Capitol. For example, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln has been seen in his former bedroom in the White House. Reportedly, Winston Churchill was one guest who had an encounter with Lincoln's ghost. Some people have reported seeing Washington's ghost in and around his former home in Mt. Vernon.

Various folks have reported seeing the ghost of John Quincy Adams in the Capitol building, precisely in the spot where Adams had a fatal heart attack. Also in the Capitol building, people have seen the ghost of what they describe as an elderly foreign gentleman. This ghost has been identified by his clothing and appearance as Pierre L'Enfant, the French architect of the Capitol who, by the way, was never paid by Congress for his work.

Duties of an authentic ghostbuster

People who are psychically gifted and able to bear witness to the message a ghost wants to convey provide a valuable service to that departed soul. Once heard and validated, the soul is released and is free to move on in its spiritual evolution.

When a ghostly phenomenon is a proven projection from another time in history or another dimension of reality altogether, we benefit by learning her story. Tales and experiences of the departed introduce us to realities beyond the current limitations of our physical senses. PJH