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We use the word ghost and spirit interchangeably but there really is a strong difference between them. According to the late Hans Holzer, professor of Parapsychology and writer of 119 books on the subject, “Ghosts are similar to psychotic human beings, incapable of reasoning for themselves. … Spirits on the other hand are the surviving personalities of all of us who pass through the door of death in a relatively normal fashion.”
We learn from him that ghosts are tied to the location of their death, usually a sudden or tragic one, and they often don’t realize that they are dead. In most cases, they have “unfinished business” as the deceased person does not accept the way in which they died. The simplest form of unfinished business can be as innocent as a person being attached so strongly to their home that they cannot leave it behind and pass over. They are known as “caretakers” and want to stay to make sure the building is being taken care of properly by future owners and also to their approval. At the end of the scale, unfinished business can take the form of dark energy when a person’s death is extremely violent and unexpected.
Surprisingly, only a small percentage of paranormal sightings are true ghosts. The majority of them are really sightings of what we call “residual energy” — when an emotional event is replayed over and over again, at the same spot, and at the same time.
Here is a story about a “caretaker” ghost, from the book “Haunted Breckenridge.”
Jan and Scott Magnuson took over the building in 1986 and turned it into the gift store that we still know today — Creatures Great and Small — selling tasteful gifts such as bear statues and nativity scenes. When they first moved in to start their business, they felt Minnie’s presence immediately. First, they were aware of the sound of footsteps coming from the attic and the smell of an old-fashioned scent like rosewater. Minnie’s prized collection of photographs was kept up there and, not surprisingly, the other sound they heard resembled the sound of someone rifling through a box, desperately looking for a lost item. When plates started flying off the walls of the store but not breaking, the Magnusons were not alarmed and assumed it was Minnie passing on her displeasure at having someone take over her home.
The activity in the building lessened as the years rolled on but didn’t go away. Minnie, it seems, accepts them for the way they are managing the building but she also has a sense of mischief. When visiting the attic for stock, Scott is often tricked by the simple alarm system the