Is my house haunted?
I Think My House Is Haunted...

Types of ghosts and hauntings

What are ghosts anyway?

The honest truth is that we do not really know, which is why most of us in this field still call ourselves researchers as opposed to experts. When it comes right down to it we just are not 100% sure about much of anything when it comes to the paranormal.

That said, ghosts are generally thought of to be the spirits of those who have passed. But there are other theories that are at least worth considering: time slips, String Theory and parallel universes, and extraterrestrials are among the most common. Once we do get this all figured out, the vast array of happenings that we currently lump under the topic of paranormal will likely involve at least a few of these theories.   

But for now, we will stick with ghosts. Ignoring the fact that we are not completely sure of anything, there is still a lot we at least think we know. Or at least there’s a current commonly accepted view. So lets just go with that for now.  


A smudge stick and feathers for spreading the smoke.

Tingsha Bells

Types of Ghosts and Hauntings

Residual Hauntings

Residual hauntings are actually not attributed to the spirit of a person at all.  It is closer to being a snapshot or hologram of a once-living person. In residual hauntings the manifestations, whether sightings, sounds, or smells, are repeated over and over like a tape looping. Some can be attributed to a human behavior repeated again and again over the years, such as a woman in period clothing coming up to the mantle at the same time each night, raising a hand and leaning forward as if snuffing out a candle before retiring, then vanishing into thin air. Some residual apparitions are associated with a single intense experience such as a horrible thudding down the stairs where a man once fell to his death as his wife looked on in horror. And some are simple lingering moments of perfume, of music, of a child’s ball bouncing.

A few commonalities of residual hauntings are that they are repeated (although we may not be aware of each repetition), and that they have absolutely no interaction with us. There is certainly nothing to fear with these types of occurrences for they can not hurt us in any way. And because they are simply repeated playbacks of some moments in time many believe there is nothing that can be done about them (although some do think that smudging or other methods of changing the environment can help). Sometimes they fade away over the months or years, sometimes they wax and wane in frequency, and other times they suddenly cease altogether. In any case they are one of the great mysteries of the paranormal.


Intelligent Hauntings

An intelligent haunting is one in which the ghost or sprit is as aware of us as we are of them. They may appear at different times and places or in different ways and often try to make themselves known by interacting with our environments in some way. They can mess with our electronics, knock on walls, hide things, slam doors, create cold spots, or even wake us up in the middle of the night. We may see shadows out of the corner of our eye, or even a full bodied apparition. If a ghost turns to look straight at you, it’s likely intelligent, as opposed to residual.

Not all intelligent spirits try to invoke interaction, though. Some seem to be content to stay out of the limelight, to just be in their own world, whatever that world might consist of. You may catch a glimpse of them once in a while, but that is not their intent, as best we can tell.  They simply seem to share our homes in their own quiet way. Maybe they are unaware of us, or maybe they simply do not have the energy or a source of energy to manifest. Or maybe that is just how they were in life, quiet and unassuming and preferring to be left to themselves.  


Crossed Over versus Earthbound

When we consider spirits of the intelligent variety, we also try to understand if they are earthbound or have crossed over. Earth bound spirits are what we typically think of with hauntings. They are generally thought to be the spirit of someone who, upon the death of their physical body, has for some reason chosen not to cross over to the great beyond and is now wandering the earth disembodied.

Crossed over spirits are entirely different. Interactions with this type of spirit are generally referred to as visitations. These spirits have made the journey to the other side and are able to come to visit us, usually to bring peace or comfort, but sometimes to offer a warning.

There are a few ways to tell the difference between an earthbound spirit and a visitation from a crossed over loved one, but frequency is one clue.  Crossed over spirits simply do not hang around all the time as earthbounds do. They may appear in a dream or by our bedside, or we may catch a whiff of their perfume when no one is around, or even simply sense their comforting presence.

They may even leave a trinket that will remind you of them for you to find, or offer other signs of their presence. But they are simply visiting. If you hear footsteps in an unoccupied bedroom every night, if the television comes on by itself even after you replaced it and had the wiring checked, if the dog is continually watching things that are not there, then it is doubtful you are simply experiencing a visitation from a loved one.

Another differentiation is in the intent of the spirit. It is believed that crossed over spirits have transitioned to a greater state of consciousness. If they come to visit us it is with love and good intentions. There is no revenge, hatred or jealously from a crossed over spirit just love, joy and caring.   

In contrast, an earthbound spirit will typically be just the same as the day they died. If they were sweet and maternal you will likely have a sweet maternal ghost. But if they were mean or angry or even prejudiced in life, then that is exactly what you get from their earthbound spirit. A crossed over spirit is there to offer you something. An earthbound spirit is generally self focused. That doesn’t mean they won’t form a friendly attachment or warn you if their beloved house is at risk of catching fire - it just means that they are not on any sort of mission to help or comfort you, their journey is their own.



One other specific case worth mentioning is that of the poltergeist.  Poltergeists, or noisy spirits, share the characteristic of having a greater ability to physically affect the world around them then a typical spirit might. In extreme cases objects can fly across a room, heavy furniture can be moved, or cabinet doors may be found open. Some theories attribute poltergeist activity as being psychokinetic, usually involving a teen or pre-teen adolescent girl as the agent. But many poltergeist hauntings have the characteristics of an intelligent spirit potentially working in conjunction with the energy of a live person, be it a teen, preteen, sensitive, or those with special needs.  

Poltergeist activity can be the most difficult to try to control or live with. In some cases it subsides naturally over weeks or months.  Often, especially if a true spirit is involved, it does not. These cases merit special attention.


Demonic Hauntings


Demonic entities are non-human entities that have absolutely no good in them. They often haunt individuals weakened by alcoholism, drug addiction, or who have been weakened of other emotional or psychological levels. If you suspect that you may be dealing with a demonic entity seek professional help immediately.


Demonic hauntings typically differ from traditional hauntings in several ways. However initially they may behave as any other intelligent haunting with the demon likely making an effort to appear sweet and innocent at first. In demonic hauntings the activity typically escalates quickly, becoming dramatic and often violent. Demonic entities also tend to target specific individuals, often attempting to isolate one member of the family.


Other symptoms of demonic hauntings include:


- Physical attacks such as scratches, punctures, welts or being slapped.

- Putrid smells reminiscent of sulfuric acid, rotting eggs, or rotting flesh.

- Growling sounds coming from anywhere or seemingly everywhere.

- Onsets of unexplained negative emotions such as anger or hatred, often accompanied by thoughts of violence.

Demonic hauntings can be dangerous and need to be dealt with immediately by trained professionals. Local paranormal teams are often a good place to start.


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