31 Ghosts to Scare You This Halloween

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Happy Halloween! I cannot give you candy via the internet, but I can give you 31 ghosts. Hope you don’t run into any evil spirits while celebrating. Stay safe, folks!

  1. Petni/Shakchunni (Bengali folklore): Female spirits that died unmarried and want marriage in the afterlife. They may possess rich women to fulfill this desire.
  2. Churel (South Asian folklore): A female spirit that died during childbirth, sometimes because she was neglected by family. This ghost seeks out male relatives and drains them of their blood, semen, and virility. (Source)
  3. Imori (Japanese folklore): The ghosts of warriors that have been transformed into geckos. They hide in ruins and attack tresspassers.
  4. Vântoase (Romanian folklore): Female ghosts living in the forest with the ability to control the wind, causing dust storms. They also attack children.
  5. Penchapechi (Bengali folklore): A ghost in the form of an owl that follows lost travelers until they are alone and vulnerable. Then, he strikes and consumes the traveler.

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    Depiction of a White lady by Edward Kelley // Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons
  6. White Lady (appears in many cultures): A female ghost often linked to tragedy or betrayal (by a lover). Here’s a long list by location.
  7. Zashiki Warashi (Japanese folklore): House spirits that appear as 5-year-olds or 6-year-olds wearing traditional clothes. They cause mischief around the house, but bring its inhabitants luck.
  8. El Silbon (Venezuelan folklore): The ghost of a male spirit that killed his father (one legend says it was because his father came back empty from a hunt). He attacks drunk men on their way home, drinking the alcohol out of their stomachs through their belly buttons. He is known for his whistling.
  9. The Knights of Alleberg (Swedish folklore): The ghosts of 12 soldiers that died during the Battle of Alleberg (1389). They are trapped inside a mountain, waiting for a new war. Legend says if they fight in this new war and save their country, they will finally go to Heaven.
  10. Shui Gui (Chinese folklore): The spirits of people who have drowned and inhabit the water where it happened. They drag victims into the water so to possess them.
  11. Screaming Skulls (English folklore): Screaming skulls are ghosts in/attached to human skulls that haunt a location, most commonly places in England. Most often, these spirits seem to be attached to their homes and will exhibit poltergeist or ghostly behavior when removed. Read more on this past blog post.
  12. Ridgeway Ghost (Wisconsin folklore): This ghost of two combined spirits of brothers who died in a bar fight in the 1840s. The ghost appears in many forms: headless horseman, man carrying a whip, domestic animals, a young woman, or an old woman. The ghost haunts a along a 25-mile stretch of road in Wisconsin.
  13. Jack-In-Irons (English folklore): A ghost that haunts the roads of Yorkshire, England. He is covered in chains (which is actually a less common image in folklore than pop culture might suggest). He jumps out into the road and scares travelers.
  14. Faceless Gray Man of Pawleys Island (South Carolina folkore): The gray apparition of a faceless man that appears before hurricanes. He was last seen before Hurricane Matthew in 2016, allegedly.
  15. The Black Dog of Newgate Prison (English Folklore): A black dog appeared before executions at this past London prison for over 400 years. According to legend, a scholar was brought to this jail in 1596 on allegations of witchcraft. Before given a fair trial, he was killed and eaten by starving prisoners. Shortly after the dog appeared.
  16. Greenbriar Ghost (West Virginia folklore): The ghost of Elva Zona Heaster Shue led her mother to evidence proving her husband killed her, which was later used during the trial. Read the fascinating story on mental_floss.
  17. Vardøger (Scandinavian folklore): The appearance of a person before their actual arrival. According to Wikipedia: “Stories typically include instances that are nearly déjà vu in substance, but in reverse, where a spirit with the subject’s footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives. This bears a subtle difference from a doppelgänger, with a less sinister connotation. It has been likened to being a phantom double, or form of bilocation.”
  18. Aka Manto (Japanese urban legend): A spirit that haunts public bathrooms and asks visitors if they want red or blue toilet paper. If you choose red: you will be cut until you clothes are stained red. If you choose blue: you will be chocked until your face turns blue.
  19. Nishi (Bengali folklore): A nocturnal spirit that lures victims into secluded areas with the familiar voice of a loved one. The victims disappear and no one knows what happens to them.
  20. “Philip”: an artificial ghost created during a 1972 parapsychology experiment. Read the story on this past blog post.
  21. Radiant Boys (English and German Folklore): The spirits of boys that were murdered by their mothers. The sight of a radiant boy foretells bad luck or death.
  22. Vetala (Indian folklore): A spirit that haunts cemeteries and inhabits corpses. They also love to play tricks.

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    The Wild Hunt: Aasgaardreien by Peter Nicolai Arbo // Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons
  23. Wild Hunt (European folklore): A spectral hunting party that appears at night. If you see this spectral procession, you may be transported to a foreign land or the underworld. Or, you may die.
  24. Demon Cat (American folklore): A large spectral black cat that haunts the basement tunnels of Washington, DC government buildings. It’s appears before elections and national tragedies. Read more on this past blog post.
  25. Kyokotsu (Japanese folklore): Skeletal spirits that pop out of wells to scare people. These are the spirits of people who died after falling in a well or had their remains thrown into one.
  26. Mechho Bhoot (Bengali folklore): A ghost who loves fish. He lives near ponds and lakes, urging nighttime fisherman to give him fish. If they refuse, he may threaten harm. He also likes to steal fish from kitchens.
  27. Diao si gui (Chinese folklore): Spirits of those who died from hanging (murder, suicide, execution).
  28. Kerakera onna (Japanese folklore): The ghost of an enormous, middle-aged woman dressed in a brightly colored robe and covered with make-up. She appears in the the alleys of the red-light district and scares men with her crackling laugh.
  29. Old Book (American folklore). Are you following me on Instagram? I tell a short story about a haunted place on Wednesdays! Such as the story of Old Book…

    The old Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois is home to a ghost named “Old Book.” Old Book (1878 – 1910) was a popular patient at the hospital, who served as the hospital’s gravedigger during his time there. After the burial services of each patient, it is said that Old Book leaned against an old elm tree and cried for the deceased. When he died, hundreds of patients, doctors, and staff members came to the funeral. When staff members were lowering his casket, they commented that it felt empty. Suddenly, a crying sound came from the old elm tree, making the funeral guests turn and look. Many claimed to see Old Book, leaning against the tree. They checked the casket to make sure he was indeed there, and when they went to open the lid…the crying stopped. He was still in his coffin. After the funeral, the elm tree began to die. Several groundskeepers tried to remove the dead tree with no luck. Eventually, the tree was struck by lightning and removed.

  30. Church Grim (Swedish and Finnish Folklore): The Church (or Kirk) Grim is attached to a particular church and oversees the welfare of the churchyard. They might also appear in forms of other animals, though dog is most common. They are the spirits of those first buried in a church’s cemetery. Oftentimes a dog was sacrificed and buried when building a new church and accompanying cemetery, so that he could serve as a Grim in the afterlife (intsead a human soul).
  31. And of course…Jack-o’-Lantern. Read the ghostly origins of this Halloween tradition on mental_floss. 

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