That is a question in which I have been pursuing the answer for decades. Many people have had contact with ghosts in many different ways and to different extents of exposure. This applies to me as well.
I have been able to see and hear spirits ever since I have been a small child. I grew up strengthening my psychic abilities and then entered the field of paranormal investigating way before it was considered a thrill or a sport - or even a business venture for others to make money off of research. After over 30 years of investigations and over 4 decades of spirit communication, I have come to several conclusions that I still try to narrow down; however, I do believe that the answer to - what is a ghost - really does have more than one or two conclusions based on my many decades of paranormal experience. Some of them might just seem very bizarre according to where you might be along your evolutionary path but keep an open mind and let's explore this question a little deeper.
So is a ghost the matter and energy of a deceased person, animal, or entity? My conclusion for this question would be - yes, sometimes. In the world of paranormal investigating, it seems to be the newest and latest thing to consider an orb just dust, a bug, or some reflective particle. In truth, I do believe that to be the case many times however, I have come across many reasons to believe that there are true ghosts or spirits that do appear as orbs. Many of the experiments that I have conducted have produced orbs that show intelligence or that follow directions. Sure you could chalk that up to coincidence but I think it is safe to say that for over the past 20 years, I have had so many positive results in my experiments, I can no longer explain all orbs away as junk.
Also, I'd like to say that whenever I astral travel, I always see myself as an orb or whitish-blue energy with no other physical form - yet I can see, hear and feel. I do want to point out that electrical wires and devices will tend to pull you towards them during astral travel. Any time I have explored my existences that go way beyond the astral, into the spiritual realms, there are these types of orb-type life forms, or just light beings. Of course there are other physical forms and even other substances that this universe does not contain - but that is another story.
I also found that it didn't seem to make sense that some deceased people that I knew, that were very close to me - didn't come back to see me when I knew that they would if they could. Some people have experiences where their loved ones came and they saw them or they heard them. Some people receive strong signs that their loved one are with them. Sometimes the deceased gives someone else that they know that is more perceptive, a sign or message so that it will be conveyed to the intended person. Some get EVP's or pictures of their loved ones that have passed on or even phone calls.
It has become a strong belief of mine that just like everyone has different talents and abilities - ghosts and spirits do as well. Some can manipulate energy very well and can therefore utilize different energy sources to manifest in different ways. Whether the ghost's efforts are realized also depends on the person they are manifesting for - as well as their abilities to perceive what the ghost or spirit is trying to show them. So there are different levels of communication that any particular ghost or spirit can accomplish. I would like to take that a little further now.
Being a psychic - I can perceive spirit energy pretty quickly. When I tune into their presence - whether it be very strong or barely noticeable, I can tell if they are a man or woman, if they are old or young, if they are happy, sad, angry, lost, want help, just want to say hello, etc. Then, depending on their ability to manifest - I can start to get particulars, characteristics, personality, words, pick up their story and more.
I have been doing readings since I was a teenager and professional readings for almost 4 decades. I have asked many ghosts and spirits why they are here. I have asked for messages for their loved ones. I have seen how my clients react to the messages that I pass on from their deceased loved ones. These messages make no sense to me as I do not know the private lives of my client nor the spirit I am in contact with, but it is clear that the messages make perfect sense to them. This tells me that there is an entity that certainly knows the client and is there for love and support. I do not believe that every ghost or deceased entity is the real deal however.
This takes me to another theory I have that I have been trying to get more evidence of but it is very difficult and I don't get too much in the way of cooperation from ghosts/spirits. If my theory is correct, then it would certainly explain why I am having a hard time with this one even though I have had some positive results. The entities in question would not want to expose that they are not the real entity in question. The results were obtained after performing experiment after experiment for decades.
Some ghosts or visitors can be purposely projected for our behalf by entities that can have either a benevolent or malevolent purpose behind doing such a thing. There are so many other worldly entities out there, but there are ones that oversee things here - both good and bad, so both light and dark beings have their reasons for showing us loved ones.
I'm not talking about a residual haunting where strong energy left from a traumatic or powerful occurrence replays itself and presents itself over and over again. The entity does not interact with any live witnesses but only acts out the part that the energy signature follows. So this would not be considered a ghost or spirit at all; just stale energy that looses its strength and will grow weaker and weaker over a very long period of time.
So in the case where another entity purposely shows us a spirit that we know - they can in fact make this energy that they project interact with us, speak to us, come into our dreams, remind us of memories, leave scents and do all the things that a true ghost or spirit would do, as long as they have the ability to do so. I will post more on this type of 'haunting' in the future.
The paranormal world is not a simple thing - it is very complex with many layers and dimensions of being. It contains so many different life forms - biological, mechanical, spiritual, energy, and even beings made from things we don't even realize can exist in our realm of consciousness.
Some ghosts can actually just be the glimpses we get that come through from other dimensions, times, and realms. We can see through to them when certain conditions are present just as they can see through to ours and then we seem like the ghosts to them. In this case, these are not really ghosts at all but live beings that exist in other dimensions. We see these when a dimensional overlap takes place.
So answering the question - what is a ghost, really is not an easy thing to do. I do know that there are many answers to this question. Trying to get more evidence and trying to figure out which kind is which is the next step.
Even in portals, there can be living beings and deceased beings coming through so there is a lot to consider when asking - and in trying to answer this question. Continue to keep posted to my blog for much more in depth subject matter on the paranormal.
I hope you love the paranormal as much as I do - it is amazing to experience the worlds within worlds.
I'm Cher, a psychic medium, paranormal investigator, extensive paranormal researcher, spiritual teacher, intuitive counselor, hypnotist of past life regression,writer, exorcist in training and founder of PsychicMyst Paranormal Network. I have over 37 years of total professional experience.