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In traditional belief, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.
Ghost Origins and Variations
There are many references to ghosts in Mesopotamian religions - the religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria and other early states in Mesopotamia. Traces of these beliefs survive in the later Abrahamic religions that came to dominate the region. Ghosts were thought to be created at time of death, taking on the memory and personality of the dead person. They traveled to the netherworld, where they were assigned a position, and led an existence similar in some ways to that of the living.
There was widespread belief in ghosts in ancient Egyptian culture in the sense of the continued existence of the soul and spirit after death, with the ability to assist or harm the living, and the possibility of a second death. Over a period of more than 2,500 years, Egyptian beliefs about the nature of the afterlife evolved constantly. Many of these beliefs were recorded in inscriptions, papyrus scrolls and tomb paintings. The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiles some of the beliefs from different periods of ancient Egyptian history.
Ghosts appeared in Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, in which they were described as vanishing "as a vapor, gibbering and whining into the earth". Homer’s ghosts had little interaction with the world of the living. Periodically they were called upon to provide advice or prophecy, but they do not appear to be particularly feared. Ghosts in the classical world often appeared in the form of vapor or smoke, but at other times they were described as being substantial, appearing as they had been at the time of death, complete with the wounds that killed them.
Ghosts in fiction
Ghosts reported in medieval Europe tended to fall into two categories: the souls of the dead, or demons. The souls of the dead returned for a specific purpose. Demonic ghosts were those which existed only to torment or tempt the living. The living could tell them apart by demanding their purpose in the name of Jesus Christ. The soul of a dead person would divulge their mission, while a demonic ghost would be banished at the sound of the Holy Name.
The "classic" ghost story arose during the Victorian period, and included authors such as M. R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Violet Hunt, and Henry James. Classic ghost stories were influenced by the gothic fiction tradition, and contain elements of folklore and psychology. M. R. James summed up the essential elements of a ghost story as, “Malevolence and terror, the glare of evil faces, ‘the stony grin of unearthly malice', pursuing forms in darkness, and 'long-drawn, distant screams', are all in place, and so is a modicum of blood, shed with deliberation and carefully husbanded...”
Famous literary apparitions from this period are the ghosts of A Christmas Carol, in which Ebenezer Scrooge is helped to see the error of his ways by the ghost of his former colleague Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. In Disney's animated film, "Mickey's Christmas Carol", Goofy appeared as Jacob Marley as a ghost to scare Ebenezer Scrooge (McDuck) and after that, he fell into the stairs along with his prison ball. In Jim Henson & Disney's 1991 musical film, "The Muppet Christmas Carol", the three ghosts came with Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley, two brothers in chains and prison balls, and the Ghost of Christmas Past, a little-girl childlike ghost to tell Ebenezer Scrooge, the past to her.
Children’s benevolent ghost stories became popular, such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, created in the 1930s and appearing in comics, animated cartoons, and eventually a 1995 feature film. Opularised in such films as the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters, ghost hunting became a hobby for many who formed ghost hunting societies to explore reportedly haunted places.
There are nine ghost characters in the Monster High franchise, Moanatella Ghostier, Johnny Spirit, Principal Revenant, an unnamed Create-A-Monster ghost, and core characters Spectra Vondergeist, Sirena Von Boo, Vandala Doubloons, Porter "Paintergeist" Geiss and daughter of the Noppera-bō Kiyomi Haunterly. Ghosts in Monster High seem to be more accurate of their "real-life" depictions than most of Monster High's take on monsters. They are spirits derived of the deceased, with translucent bodies and the ability to float and phase through solid objects. Spectra's pet, Rhuen is a ghost ferret.
In the Monster High books, ghosts are invisible to both RADs and normies.
A common trait of ghosts in the Monster High universe, is that they wear chains all around them.