Ghost

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Ghost
Powers and Abilities Varies; can include telekinesis and possession.
Vulnerabilities Varies; one standard is the salting and burning of the ghost's physical remains.
Appearance Varies; the form of the deceased, which may have visible signs of trauma or decay.
Episode(s) Various in Seasons 1-10 (see below).

Tessa: Well, like you said. There's always a choice. I can't make you come with me. But you're not getting back in your body. And that's just facts. So yes, you can stay. You'll stay here for years. Disembodied, scared, and over the decades it'll probably drive you mad. Maybe you'll even get violent.

Dean: What are you saying?

Tessa: Dean. How do you think angry spirits are born? They can't let go and they can't move on. And you're about to become one. The same thing you hunt.

Tessa and Dean, 2.01 In My Time of Dying

A ghost or spirit remains connected to the mortal realm because it is attached to it through unfinished business or an unwillingness to move on.[1] They may, as Dean nearly did and Bobby as well, refuse to accompany their reaper who is tasked to help them move on.[2][3] Many ghosts have a desire for revenge against those who they perceive to have caused their deaths, or will target people like them, for example Constance Welch, Peter Sweeney, Dirk McGregor and Fiona Duncan.[4][5] Others like Dr. Ellicott, Dr. H.H. Holmes, and Nurse Glockner were evil in life and continued this after death.[6][7][8]

Sam seems to feel some sympathy for ghosts:[1]

Molly: I don't understand how a guy like this can turn into that monster.
Sam: Well, spirits like Greely are like wounded animals. Lost... in so much pain that they lash out.
Molly: Why? Why are they here?
Sam: There's some part of them that... that's keeping them here. Like their remains, or unfinished business.
Molly: Unfinished business?
Sam: Yeah. It could be revenge. It could be love, or hate. Whatever it is, they just hold on too tight. Can't let go. So they're trapped. Caught in the same loops. Replaying the same tragedies over and over.
Molly: You sound almost sorry for them.
Sam: Well, they weren't evil people, you know. A lot of them were good, just something happened to them. Something they couldn't control.

Ghosts are not always present by choice or as a result of unfinished business. Ghosts can also be summoned and controlled by witches or demons.

  • Walter Dixon uses necromancy to summon the ghosts of past Hollywood actors and crewmen and forces them to kill people who have wronged him.[9]
  • The demon Lilith raises the Witnesses, who are spirits of the dead who died from supernatural causes, to attack hunters and break one of the 66 Seals.[10]
  • The demon Samhain summons ghosts and raises people from the dead, creating zombies.[11]
  • Jimmy Tomorrow binds the ghost of Margaret Fox to him so she will kill other psychics he has a grudge against. Though he also appear some for of intimate relationship with her ghost, evident by her bones being found in his bed.[12]

Types of Ghosts

A ghost who can move objects is referred to as a poltergeist,[13] and when they materialize or possess another person they may exude ectoplasm.[7][14] Ghosts can also infect a person with ghost sickness, a disease that will make the sick person experience the ghost's feelings at the time of their death in slow motion. These ghosts are alternativl known as buruburus and are born of the fear a person has at the time of their deaths. When Dean is infected, he experiences extreme fear and comes close to suffering cardiac arrest.[15]

Abilities

Ghosts can affect objects in the material world. This is an ability that must be learned. Sam and Dean learn how to move physical objects and fight when they become astral projections in 4.15 Death Takes a Holiday. The ghost Haskel Crane explains to Bobby and Annie Hawkins that to do this, the spirit must either become very calm and enter a Zen-like state, or tap into "explosive, anger and pure, red-hot rage."[16]

Ghosts can manipulate electronic equipment to communicate by EVP. They can be detected by the interference they cause with electromagnetic fields through use of an EMF Meter.

Some ghosts have been shown to possess unique abilities: Freeman Daggett seemed to be able to make Sam disappear and reappear in the blink of an eye, transporting him from the first floor to the basement, Whitman Van Ness could destroy other ghosts and absorb their energy, Mary Worthington could kill anyone through a warped reflection of themselves that accused them of the various deaths they were responsible for. This was also able to be turned back onto her.

Dispatching Ghosts

The boys commonly force a ghost to move on by salting and burning its corpse. Sam admits that "My dad always said it's like death for spirits. But the truth is, we never know."[1] Bobby Singer later tells Annie Hawkins that he personally believes that ghosts just cease to be when their bones are burned.[16]. It has been revealed that when a ghost's remains are burned, a reaper takes their soul to where it belongs, or as in the case of Bobby Singer, somewhere else if an outside source convinces them to.[17]

Burning bones is successful in most cases, including those of Dr Ellicott, Nurse Glockner, Jonah Greely and Whitman Van Ness and his victims.[6][8][1][16] In 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters, the final salting and burning is performed by Demian and Barnes. Sometimes, however, an object can anchor a person's ghost in the living realm. With the Hook Man, the Winchesters salt and burn the corpse but also have to melt all the silver from his hook, due to the hook having been part of him in life as well as being the murder weapon.[18] Cyrus Dorian is salted and burnt but only banished when he and his truck are lured onto holy ground.[19] In most cases, the object that must be destroyed to force the ghost to move on contains a small amount of DNA that has been preserved. This is true of Melanie Merchant and Dirk McGregor, whose remaining hair has to be burnt.[20][14] In the case of P.T. Sandover, his gloves, which may have contained some skin cells or fingernail clippings, have to be burnt.[21] In one memorable case, Rose Brown's kidney, which she donated to her still living sister, Isabel, binds her ghost to a living, moving object. Even though her body is burned by Sam, she cannot be dispatched, and Sam and Dean consider using hoodoo to keep Rose in check. Before they can explore that option, Isabel's sudden death, caused by Rose herself, forces Rose's ghost to move on.[22] In Mary Worthington's case, Sam and Dean were able to turn her power to kill those that have been responsible for other people's deaths with their own reflections back on her by showing her her own reflection.

Iron repels ghosts. For example, Sam uses an iron poker to protect himself and Sarah from Melanie Merchant.[20] The use of iron to repel ghosts has another link with the electromagnetism theory, as striking a ghost with an object made of iron grounds their electric charge, disrupting them and warding them off until they're able to recover. If a person is possessed by a ghost, any contact with iron will repel the spirit from the body, as shown by Sam and Dean using an iron railroad spike to eject Chester Johnson from the possessed.

Sam and Bobby Singer also successfully "scare a ghost to death" by making him relive his torture and violent death, thus effectively dispatching him (Although they only resorted to this questionable method because the circumstances of his death- he was dragged behind a car for a prolonged distance- meant that it was unlikely at best that all of his remains had been collected after his demise as parts of him would have been scattered over the road). This only worked due to the fact that that kind of spirit was created from fear and made of fear so it could be killed with fear. Presumably it wouldn't work for every type of spirit.[15]

Occasionally, a ghost is dispatched when it is forced to deal with its unfinished business.[23] Others must make the choice to crossover, like Molly McNamara, Cole Griffith and Timmy's Mother.[1][24][25]

Sometimes one ghost has been shown to be able to destroy another ghost: the ghosts of Constance Welch's children made her disappear when she finally confronted them, Corbett was able to destroy Freeman Daggett and Whitman Van Ness was able to destroy ghosts and absorb their energy into himself.

Deterioration

Over time, the spirits may go mad, or simply degenerate into a state Bobby refers to as "Ghost Alzheimer’s".[3] While they remain trapped in the Veil, spirits will physically and mentally deteriorate at different rates until nothing remains.

When Bobby and Annie investigate the Van Ness House, they are unable to gain the attention of any of the ghosts. They meet Haskel Crane who explains that the other ghosts around them are falling apart until nothing remains. One nearby ghost even reached both the brink of madness and complete deterioration. According to Victoria Dodd, the vengeful spirit of Whitman Van Ness uses these spirits for food and perverse entertainment. After dispatching Whitman's spirit, they burn the remains of the other ghosts trapped in the house.

Appearances

Ghosts in Lore

Ghosts or spooks are controversial phenomena which have several possible definitions:

  • The spirit or soul of a person who has died, especially one which haunts a place which was of emotional significance to that person when living.
  • The personality of a person after his or her own death which is not directly tied to the soul or spirit. A sort of psychic memory-imprint.
  • The character or memory of some being or thing which has died or, if it was never alive, been somehow destroyed or disassembled, which nevertheless remains existent (and sometimes detectable) in a semi-corporeal form.

According to reported sightings, ghosts have taken the shape of humans, animals, and even vehicles. There are reports of ghosts (usually of deceased humans) in most cultures throughout the world. There is a great deal of dispute whether ghosts are figments of the imagination or part of objective existence. Ghosts are among the subjects studied by parapsychologists.[26]

See also

References