What Is a Paranormal Entity? 8 Different Types 

Updated July 23, 2021
Spooky forest and magic glass orb

Have you ever had an unexplainable, eerie encounter with a frightening being? You're not alone! Many people report having creepy interactions with strange creatures. Knowing different types of paranormal entities can help you make sense of your spooky experience.


Orbs are one of the most common paranormal entities. Many paranormal enthusiasts believe a sphere is the easiest form a spirit can take to manifest. When you see it with the naked eye, the orb is typically self-illuminated and can be any color. However, the majority of orbs appear in photographs or videos. Some are transparent or appear as though they are spheres of mist or fog.

Orbs may be angelic beings or spirit guides, spirits of the deceased, or a trick of the eye. People often see orbs in cemeteries or other haunted places. Some spirits may manifest into an orb before morphing into a full apparition, while others maintain their spherical shape.

A glowing orb in a spooky forest


An apparition is a physical manifestation of a spirit or ghost, also called an intelligent haunting. These paranormal entities interact and respond intelligently to living people, environmental circumstances, or real-world situations. The apparition may use the energy of electronic devices or batteries to manifest momentarily. Some researchers believe that the entity must use energy sources in order to transform into an apparition.

Since the entity isn't able to maintain the form, it continues to interact in other ways, such as making sounds like rapping on a wall, opening/closing doors, turning on water facets, or making the lights turn on and off. This type of intelligent ghost often responds to direct questions. These may be audible responses that you can hear with your ears, or the answers may appear as voices on a recording medium that you won't detect until playback (EVP or electronic voice phenomena).

Apparitions have various reasons for haunting a place or person. For instance, it may have suffered a traumatic death and doesn't realize it's dead, or it may have a strong attachment to a place or loved one. Some believe that spirits linger on the Earthly plane and can't move on because they have unfinished business. A medium can often help both the haunted person and the apparition.


Poltergeists are also called "noisy ghosts" due to nature of the activity they manifest. Much of this activity is noisy or even appears violent, such as door slamming or objects moving on their own.

You may be surprised to learn that both living people and ghosts can cause poltergeist activity. For example, sometimes living adolescents cause it. Parapsychologists believe their hormonal fluctuations create powerful emotions that collide with latent psychic abilities. The result is a type of telekinesis called recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSP).

When the psychic energy builds up to intolerable levels, it creates a powerful burst that causes poltergeist activity. Once the child has gone through puberty, the activity often ceases. Adolescents don't cause all poltergeist phenomena; any living human with strong, unresolved emotions can create RSP. Likewise, some entities can manipulate psychic energy to create poltergeist phenomena.

Light coming through open door of motel room


Theologians believe demons are entities of pure darkness and evil. Some religions believe that fallen angels devolved into demons because they followed Satan in the rebellion against God and were defeated by Archangel Michael. The rebellious angels were subsequently expelled from Heaven and fell under Satan's jurisdiction.

A demonic attack can manifest in various ways including all manner of poltergeist activity, such as objects flying across the room. The demon may physically attack the person by shoving, pushing, scratching, punching, or pinning them down. This type of demonic activity is usually rare. Demons may also possess or oppress humans. Some vile and evil ghosts may also masquerade as demons. Any haunting with a malevolent entity should be addressed by a competent and trained demonologist or clergy.

Residual Haunting Ghosts

A residual haunting--or haunting ghost--differs from an apparition. Instead of being interactive and possessing intelligence, hauntings occur as an energy imprint on a specific location. Haunting activity repeats like a video, as if it has been recorded and replayed. You'll find this type of haunting in places where people have expended significant emotional or spiritual energy, such as on a battleground or at the site of a tragedy like a murder, suicide, or accidental death. Parapsychologists believe the emotional impact of the event permanently imprints on the location where it happened.

Investigators have reported seeing people in vintage period clothing walking through the lobbies and hallways of old inns or peering out the window of an old home. In cases where there was no tragic event, the history of the location usually includes a person who experienced strong emotions over a long period. If the emotion was strong enough, even as a onetime event, it creates a spiritual imprint. Evaluate the haunting to determine if it is a residual. This kind of haunting won't respond or interact with you during your investigation. It simply repeats like a scene from a movie.

Floating Ghost


A skinwalker is a paranormal entity from the Navajo culture. It's a malevolent witch (male or female) that shapeshifts, turning into any animal it desires. People of the Navajo nation deeply fear the skinwalker. In fact, they believe it's unwise to discuss the creature out of fear they'll attract its attention and become its next victim.

Skinwalkers oppose Navajo values. They usually start out as healers required to learn white and black magic. However, the power of the black magic seduces and corrupts one who becomes a skinwalker, and they are no longer healers. Skinwalkers can possess individuals and move into the person's body, using it as their own.


A lesser-known paranormal entity is the revenant. This entity is undead; it's a reanimated corpse. The French word revenant means one coming back. In Celtic and Irish folklore, the revenant is a ghost that has returned to haunt someone who harmed them or performed some other unforgiveable act against them. The revenant has one goal--revenge. Beliefs hold that good people are never revenants, only wicked or evil people return. Vampires may be offshoot of the revenant folklore.

Spooky graveyard with walking dead

Shadow People

Shadow people are also called shades. Some cultures believe they are malevolent entities from the underworld or hell, similar to demons or jinn. Witnesses often see shadow people out of the corner of their eye (peripheral vision) as a dark shadow that flitters or flutters in the room. When viewed directly, they are dark human silhouettes that move very quickly.

Home security cameras have caught shadow people that appear as a blur but take shape when the footage plays at a slower speed. Some people claim a shadow figure sat on their chest and choked them or attacked them in another way. Other people believe shadow figures are a type of succubus or incubus or the manifestation of demonic spirits. Not everyone agrees that shadow people are evil. Some people believe they may be entities from a different dimension or perhaps extraterrestrials.

Understanding Paranormal Entities

Encounters with paranormal entities are more common than you might imagine. So, if you come across something spooky that goes bump in the night, discovering what it was might help you gain a better understanding your eerie experience.

Was this page useful?
What Is a Paranormal Entity? 8 Different Types