Beliefs in family ghosts are quite remarkable, not so much because people believe in spirits who live with them, but the stories behind ghosts that seem attached to families can be quite interesting. We have found that many families have ghosts in their closet, so to speak, and how they make their presence known to the living differs quite a bit.
Family ghosts may best be defined as spirits of deceased humans, as well as animals, that remain around certain families for a particular function. Although the stories of such ghosts abound, the reasons behind ghosts being linked to families do vary.
You might imagine having the ghost of an Aunt Helen or Grandpa Charlie who still cares for the family in his or her own way, in a sense, acting as an angel or guardian over the family. And the ways they might find to interact with the living is fascinating.
Often, family ghosts interact with their persons of interest, being protective, even nosy. Some ghosts of families even warn of impending catastrophes, even of death.
Their appearances, being seen by different family members at different times, demonstrate that such guardian ghosts quietly watch over daily events. But how could they know of future events? Maybe, ghosts who are aware of things to come might not be ghosts but enlightened spirits.
Such enlightened spirits (spirits guides, angels) would differ from ghosts, in that they would visit from a higher place of perspective. Some might choose to call their estate “Heaven.” Such an enlightened individual would certainly not be a traumatized earthbound spirit (a ghost). For how could such a troubled spirit be aware of the future?
Getting back to ghosts, the belief in guardian spirits within various civilizations goes back thousands of years, including the ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures. Beliefs in family ghosts are especially prominent within European countries, such as Scotland and Ireland.
Scottish family ghosts often are described as horrible-looking things, such as a dreadful hag (Hag of the Dribble), while Irish family ghosts can also be quite frightening (Banshees are believed to follow some descendants of the ancient Irish).
Visible manifestations of ghosts within families are often described as being apparitions but may be seen as shadows or witnessed within dreams.
Family ghosts are commonly believed to also make themselves knows through use of strange sounds (the hoot of an owl, the sound of a dog, a bird against a window, etc.). Some ghosts of families are said to make everyone aware of them by the cracking of pottery or dishes!
It is often found that family ghosts cannot be laid to rest, or that they are at least very difficult to put to peace by asking them to move forward into the white light. Such ghosts seem difficult to communicate with, or they may simply be unwilling to listen to pleas from the living to leave them be.
Perhaps, they feel they have a mission that they are unwilling to refrain from until it is completed. Or maybe, they prefer living with family and fear leaving them behind to embark upon the unknown.