Apparitions or ghosts may stand for almost any inhabitant of the astral plane. Of course psychically developed people are constantly seeing such things, but for an ordinary person to “see a ghost,” as the common expression runs, one of two things must happen: either that ghost must materialize, or that person must have a temporary flash of psychic perception. But for the fact that neither of these events is a common one, ghosts would be met with in our streets as frequently as living people.
If the ghost is seen hovering about a grave it is probably the etheric shell of a newly-buried person, Churchyard Ghosts. Though it may be the astral body of a living man haunting in sleep the tomb of a friend; or again, it may be a materialized thought-form—that is, an artificial elemental created by the energy with which a man thinks of himself as present at that particular spot. These varieties would be easily distinguishable one from the other by any one accustomed to use astral vision, but an unpractised person would be quite likely to call them all vaguely “ghosts”.
Apparitions at the time of death are by no means uncommon, and are very often really Apparitions of the Dying. Visits paid by the astral form of the dying man just before what we elect to call the moment of dissolution; though here again they are quite likely to be thought-forms called into being by his earnest wish to see some friend once more before he passes into an unfamiliar condition.
Apparitions at the spot where some crime was committed are usually thought-forms projected by the criminal, who, whether living or dead, but most especially when dead, Haunted Localities. Is perpetually thinking over again and again the circumstances of his action; and since these thoughts are naturally specially vivid in his mind on the anniversary of the original crime, it is often only on that occasion that the artificial elementals he creates are strong enough to materialize themselves to ordinary sight—a fact which accounts for the periodicity of some manifestations of this class.
Another point in reference to such phenomena is, that wherever any tremendous mental disturbance has taken place, wherever overwhelming terror, pain, sorrow, hatred, or indeed any kind of intense passion has been felt, an impression of so very marked a character has been made upon the astral light that a person with even the faintest glimmer of psychic faculty cannot but be deeply impressed by it, and it would need but a slight temporary increase of sensibility to enable him to visualize the entire scene—to see the event in all its detail apparently taking place before his eyes—and in such a case he would of course report that the place was haunted, and that he had seen a ghost.
Indeed, people who are as yet unable to see psychically under any circumstances are frequently very unpleasantly impressed when visiting such places as we have mentioned; there are many, for example, who feel uncomfortable when passing the site of Tyburn Tree, or cannot stay in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud’s, though they may not be in the least aware that their discomfort is due to the dreadful impressions in the astral light which surround places and objects redolent of horror and crime, and to the presence of the loathsome astral entities which always swarm about such centres.
– From: The Astral Plane by C. W. Leadbeater | Courtesy of Project Gutenberg