The term of paranormal has been in the English language at least since 1920. It is believed that the term was coined somewhere between 1915 and 1920 to classify experiences that were outside the realm of normal scientific explanation. The word itself comes from “para” meaning above and normal meaning standard. So essentially it refers to something above or beyond ordinary experience. Paranormal activity has been described as "phenomena and manifestations which lie outside of normal experience, and which can neither be scientifically explained nor proved."
It’s quite possible that the word paranormal came into vogue thanks to the efforts of Charles Fort. He was an American writer and researcher that published a great deal of work related to unexplained phenomena during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He is collected thousands of paranormal anecdotes and is often considered the father of modern paranormalism.
Fort investigated a variety of reports including stories of poltergeists, mysterious levitations, spontaneous fires, crop circles and UFO’s just to name a few. He paved the way for today’s modern paranormal investigators.
Nowadays it seems like the topic of the paranormal is everywhere. Thanks to the success of the 2007 movie Paranormal Activity, things outside the realm of conventional science have really gone mainstream. Even children are more aware due to the release of the 2012 animated film ParaNorman. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2005, about 73 percent of Americans believed in at least one type of paranormal experience from a list presented to them in the survey. The greatest majority believed in extrasensory perception, closely followed by haunted houses, ghosts and telepathy. Another survey conducted in Australia revealed that 70 percent of respondents had a paranormal experience that changed their lives, generally in a positive way.
Some helpful definitions:
- Astral Projection: Visiting faraway places through mind travel.
- Kirlian Photography: High voltage photography that can capture an aura on film.
- Smudging: Using burning sage to clear the energy of an individual or space.
- Familiars: Spirits in the form of animals that guide witches.