Tales Of The Most Helpful Ghosts From Around The World

There is no doubt about it, ghosts are scary. And most people who think of a friendly ghost instantly conjure up Casper, the helpful little specter who first appeared in a 1939 children's book and eventually evolved into a popular cartoon. Casper may be a product of his creator's imagination, but there really are some spirits out there who mean well. Writer Jennifer Bailey says that lots of ghosts tend to "interact with human beings," which can be "for good or for bad." And on the good side, there are lots of folk tales out there about spirits who warn of danger and perform other good deeds.

While many ghosts appear as a friend, family member or even an historical person from the past, the identity of many remain unknown to those who see them. They may materialize right before you or be invisible, or they might speak or emit a scent to let you know they are there. And surprisingly, some of them actually show up to comfort you or even tell you something you need to know. So while seeing a ghost can be frightening, its appearance might be because it wants to help you or keep you from harm. Stories abound worldwide about such friendly and helpful spirits, what they do and why they do it. Here are some of them.

The Helpful Ghost of Point Ormond, Australia

According to The Culture Trip, Melbourne, Australia has a lot to offer in the way of "sporting, culture and coffee," as well as a number of haunted landmarks. Among them is Point Ormond, a high bluff above the village of Elwood that is steeped in history. The Herald Sun confirms that the "well-known" landmark above Port Phillip served as a quarantine station in 1840, and was also the site of St. Kilda's first graveyard. Today a pillar pays tribute to the quarantine station, and the cemetery has been moved. But one ghostly resident of Point Ormond has yet to leave.

Vogue Ballroom says the spirit of a young boy wanders Point Ormond, and that one time he helped another child from falling off a cliff. The child's mother was napping when the ghost boy, dressed in "old style clothes," awakened her and told her she should call her son away from the cliff. The woman did so, just before a portion of the cliff collapsed. The helpful child spirit is believed to have been a cholera victim from long ago but remains unidentified. Which is no wonder, seeing as even Melbourne's original cemetery with thousands of graves under the city's well-known Queen Victoria Market has been relocated.

The Bride and the Bellman at Canada's Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Built in 1888, this historic hotel in Banff National Park has made CBC's list of Canada's most haunted haunts. With a secret room discovered in 1926 and even one bricked-off room that was allegedly the scene of a murder, the Fairmont is a ghost hunter's dream. Indeed, although the hotel staff continues to offer "legendary hospitality," at least two staff members have departed from this world.

Said to be the ghost of 1960's bellman Sam Macauley, a helpful spirit is on hand at the Fairmont to assist guests by carrying their bags, helping them into their rooms and even turning on the lights for them. Avenue Calgary recounts the story of two women who couldn't get their room key to work. Sam, wearing his period bellman uniform, appeared and opened the door for them. 

Then there's the bride who is not helpful, but she's certainly interesting. Allegedly she somehow tripped on the stairs, may have caught her dress on fire, and died on the staircase. She still makes the occasional appearance. Crackmacs says there's also a headless bagpipe player. Such antics might drive one to drink, but no worries: there's also a ghost bartender who assists tipsy guests.

Ghosts in China dispense warnings and advice to their families

Belief in ghosts in China dates all the way back to 470-391 BCE, says World History. In Chinese culture, seeing the ghost of a loved one signifies a warning or the need for some important information. Other ghosts are not so friendly; today the annual Hungry Ghost Festival on July 15 abates spirits of the underworld by offering "newly harvested grain" and the burning of paper money. This, says China Culture, honors the ghosts while keeping them at bay, much as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, does in Mexico.

But although China is rife with scary spirits, two stand out as working for the good of the world. They are Xie Bi An and Fan Wu She who, in life, were caught in a bad rainstorm. Fan made Xie shelter under a bridge while he went in search of an umbrella, but a giant wave drowned Fan. Heartbroken over the death of his friend, Xie hanged himself. When Yen Wang, lord of the underworld, heard the story he felt bad for the pair. According to Snow Pavilion, Fan and Xie's jobs in the underworld is to capture "the wandering souls of the wicked" and "bring them to justice."

St. Martin's Church in Westmeston, England has a friendly phantom

St. Martin de Porres, according to Britannica, is the patron saint of "social justice, racial harmony, and mixed-race people." No wonder so many churches around the world are named for him, including several in England. In the remote village of Westmeston in Sussex, the Church of St. Martin was built during the early 12th century. Additions were made in the 14th century and beyond, making for a most historic building. And as one might guess, St. Martin's has a ghost or two.

Sci-Fi News cites "a strange, eerie phantom" which floats across the churchyard before crossing the road and disappearing into a nearby house. But Metro says the phantom is quite friendly, and has been seen by dozens. Who is the ghost? Nobody really knows, but Paranormal Database describes it as a nun who is said to only appear in the afternoon as she drifts across the grounds and vanishes. Who she is, is anyone's guess, but St. Martin's does feature a lovely cemetery as well.

The Spirit of Fanningstown Castle in Ireland assists guests

According to Irish Central, Fanningstown Castle in County Limerick was constructed by invading Normans as a "defensive outpost" centuries ago. Hotel You Want puts the date of construction previous to 1280 and says the place is rich in Celtic history. Fanningstown Castle survived the Desmond Rebellions of the 1500's, and another resistance in the mid-1600's. Castle owner Dominick Fanning, however, did not survive the latter skirmish. But the castle did, and restorations of the structure and its grounds took place beginning in the mid-1900's.

These days, Fanningstown Castle survives as an outstanding specimen of Gothic architecture. With five bedrooms, the castle now serves as an historic inn and wedding venue. Fine linens, housekeeping, a personal chef and historical tours of the area keep guests steeped in history, although modern electricity, wi-fi, movies and car rentals are part of the offerings. And as one might guess, the castle also has a "friendly, helpful ghost" on the premises. One time, the spirit even helped a guest find his wallet after he lost it. Is it the ghost Dominick Fanning? Nobody knows, but a recent review on Trip Advisor lamented that "We were sad to say goodbye to Fanningstown and our friendly 'Casper.'"

The Ibbur is a positive possession of the body in Jewish lore

My Jewish Learning explains that in Jewish folklore, there is a bad spirit and a good one. The bad one, called the Dybbuk, can possess a person and instill evil phenomena upon its victim. The good one is the Ibbur. That's a spirit that appears or even possesses a person but brings positive messages and good things. Put more succinctly, the Ibbur "incubates inside" a person to help them achieve what they want. The Ibbur is selective; only those who are truly special and in need are subject to a positive possession of the spirit. So who are these benevolent spirits?

According to Storytelling Matters, Ibburs are the souls, or ghosts, of good people from the past, perhaps a rabbi or a sage. Or, they could be the spirit of someone "who wants to continue doing good work" in the afterlife. Their ultimate purpose is to keep their "host" on the right path to achieve their dreams or overcome a particular problem. In fact, the host may not even know the Ibbur is inside of them. Writer Rosebud Ben-Oni says that her mother explained the Ibbur is "not a particular spirit," but instead a "state of being" meant to protect you and offer guidance. And who doesn't want that?

Russia's Domovois will keep your house tidy

If you happen to visit a Russian home and spy a little hairy guy with "brow-less burning eyes, horse-ears, a tail and horns" emerging from under the wood burning stove, fear not. He's just a Domovoi, and he comes with the house to keep it tidy and maintain harmony within. He's also pretty awesome, seeing as he can transform into a pet or even a former owner of the house. For the Domovoi, keeping up with family affairs is not only good for him, it's his job.

Homes with a Domovoi keep the little guy happy by offering bits of bread or porridge, or salt or tobacco. He likes things peaceful and respectful around the house if you expect him to help out. Manners and no bad language are a must. And because Domovoi are believed by some to be a dead family member, they will move to a new house with the family. Woe to the house whose occupants who do not abide by the rules of the Domovoi, however; the unhappy sprite will act like a poltergeist by rapping on the walls, rattling about and traipsing mud around the house.

In Scotland, the Stobhill Hospital ghost sought help for others

In the years since Stobhill Hospital was built in 1904 in Glasgow, Scotland, the facility has served many medical purposes. Stobhill was one of five hospitals offering full services by 1948. The place indeed had a long history by 1975 when "ward sister" Mary McLellan spotted an elderly gentleman wearing a hospital gown, says The Guardian.  When McLellan looked again the man was gone, and she assumed he'd returned to his bed. But another ward sister saw him too, and recognized him. He had died two days previous.

Other ghosts haunted Stobhill Hospital as well. Stories still circulate about a student nurse who believed she saw a fellow nurse walk into a ward. The student followed her to ask her a question. When she entered the ward, however, nobody was there but an unconscious patient who needed immediate medical assistance. Who was the helpful ghost? Nobody knows, but the story remained even after the old hospital closed in 2009

 Then in 2016 some teens broke into the abandoned building and were shocked to find the remains of a baby and a brain in a jar scattered around with other items. The new hospital administration explained the items were specimens kept "for clinical and research purposes," but someone didn't buy that story. In 2018 the BBC reported a deliberately set fire burned the former out-patient and radiology buildings to the ground.

Sweden's Queen Silvia says the royal palace is haunted

Queen Silvia is Sweden's "longest-serving queen," taking the throne after marrying King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1977. But imagine the surprise when she announced in 2017 that the royal palace, Drottningholm, in Stockholm, was haunted. Eyebrows raised across Europe when the queen quipped that she lived with "small friends...ghosts." The BBC ran with the news as Queen Silvia cheerfully explained that the spirits were "all very friendly" and that "You don't get scared." 

Notable too is that Drottningholm has long been inhabited by a "gray man" and a "white lady." In fact the "Gray Man" has been seen by every king except King Carl, says Royal Central. But the King has seen the "White Lady," who is believed to be the ghost of Agnes of Orlamünde who lived at Drottningholm during the 14th century and first appeared to the king after his grandfather, Gustav VI Adolf, died. At the time, King Carl was passing through the Bernadotte Gallery in the castle when he and an officer both saw the ghost. The king's sister Christina, who was with the men, acknowledges that "there is much energy in this house," and that having ghosts is perfectly normal. No wonder The Royal Palace says the palace "is the most well-preserved royal castle built in the 1600s in Sweden."

The ghost train of Marshall Pass, Colorado

The United States has thousands of ghost stories. One of the most unusual ones took place in Colorado with the ghost of a haunted runaway train. A 1955 copy of the Salida Mountain Mail verifies that this story first appeared in print in 1896, about a Denver & Rio Grande train that was headed over Marshall Pass shortly after the tracks were laid circa 1880. Engineer Nelson Edwards and engine fireman Charles Whitehead had just passed through a snowshed when they heard another train whistle from behind. Edwards got a look at the train and saw it was coming upon them at great speed.

After several harrowing moments, during which Edwards and Whitehead sped up as fast as they could and "crashed through" some ghostly specters on a trestle, the runaway train silently drove right off a cliff. The next morning the shaken men found a cryptic message on the train's front window: "Yeers ago a frate train was recked as yu saw – now that yu saw it, we will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control and four sexshun men wore killed. If you ever ran on this road again yu will be wrecked [sic]." The trouble was, there never was any such accident. But although the Marshall Pass route was discontinued in 1955, the eerie story of the phantom train and its warning remains today.

Helpful ghosts assisted Charles Lindbergh in his flight over the Atlantic

Aviator Charles Lindbergh made history in 1927 when he accomplished the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris, completely alone. Or was he? Not until 1953, when he wrote "The Spirit of St. Louis," did Lindbergh reveal that he definitely had company on his flight over the Atlantic Ocean. And they were not of this world. Admittedly, Lindbergh had been in the air for a full 22 hours when he sensed the presence of others in the cockpit who spoke to him. But although USA Today claims the pilot was "unable to recall precisely what they said," student scholar Denice Turner says Lindbergh claimed the spirits told him "messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life" and that he would later remember them.

Disciples of Flight notes that Lindbergh had been up for over 40 hours and feeling exhausted when the visions occurred. He also had not eaten. Writers Peter Suedfeld and John Geiger submit that the aviator was under enough stress to produce a "sensed presence experience." So were the ghosts who conversed with Lindbergh as he made his historic flight real, or not? Only the aviator knew for sure.

Mischievous Tommyknockers can be a friend to miners

According to Icy Sedgwick, legends about tommyknockers (alternately known as Knackers and Knockers) originated among Cornish miners in England but also Wales. These short, mysterious little men live in the mines of the world where they can make life for miners easy – or difficult. Legends of America explains that tommyknockers appear greenish in color and usually wear "a traditional miner's outfit." Tommyknockers are an enigma, and not just because of their looks. They enjoy a good joke and are known to steal both tools and food. But they are friendly enough to warn miners of coming danger.

Appalachian History says that tommyknockers are the ghosts of miners who have died in accidents, and that they will knock on the walls to warn of a cave-in. Miners are known to thank the sprites by tossing the last bite of their traditional pasties to the little guys. When some miners began working while listening to the radio in 1929, writer Graham McNamee worried that the sound would drive tommyknockers away. Notable too is that doubters of the tommyknocker's existence risk "misery, injury and death." That theory was shared by Stephen King in his 1987 tome, "The Tommyknockers," which even the author later said was "an awful book" after it was made into a movie.

What to do if you see a ghost?

If you've come this far, you most likely believe in ghosts good and bad. So what if one is haunting your house? Life Hacker's Rebecca Fishbein reminds us not to panic. After all, there is no actual proof that ghosts even exist, let alone do one harm. But what if you just know there is a ghost and nobody can change your mind? Ghosts and Gravestones submits that some ghosts are dead family members reaching out to comfort, warn or even advise us. Don't know the ghost? Writer Eric Grundhauser has written a handy article about how to appease the ghost in your household anywhere in the world.

Appease and please is key when it comes to dealing with spirits. And running away while screaming is rarely a good idea. Instead, says the South Jersey Ghost Research Organization, "stay calm and try to talk in a reasonable, friendly manner." And if that won't do, psychic Denise Guzzardo says to burn sage in each room, tell the spirits to leave, sprinkle salt on your doorstep and burn white candles to keep them away, and use white roses to suck away their energy. Unless they're friendly, of course.