Your sitting watching tv when you hear footsteps walking
upstairs but you're the only one in the house. Your radio switches on and off all the time and your water faucet turns itself
on in the middle of the night. Maybe you've even seen a full-figured apparition standing at the edge of the bed, just looking
down on you?
These may be indications that your house is haunted. There
are some stories that seem to have the general and typical signs of a haunting, while others go beyond this and truly scare
us to death!
So is your house haunted? Do you have a ghost? There are
several steps to finding this answer and the the first step would be to determine whether or not you truly have a legitimate
case of a haunting, and if so, what the details of it are. Not all hauntings are alike, and they may exhibit a variety of
phenomena. Some hauntings feature a single phenomenon - such as a particular door slamming shut that occurs repeatedly - while
others consist of many different phenomena, ranging from odd noises to full-blown apparitions. The next step would be to try
to learn the history of your house. Perhaps there was a murder in the home or someone died of a sickness. Perhaps there are
spirits left from the land way before the home was even built. In any case, it is best to know this before pursuing any further
as it is the key to finding out who (or what) is haunting your house and why it's there.
Here's a partial list of phenomena that might indicate that
your house is haunted:
- Unexplained noises - footsteps; knocks, banging,
rapping; scratching sounds; sounds of something being dropped. Sometimes these noises can be subtle and other times they can
be quite loud.
- Doors, cabinets and cupboards opening and closing
- most often, these phenomena are not seen directly. The experiencer either hears the distinct sounds of the doors opening
and closing (homeowners get to know quite well the distinctive sounds their houses make) or the experiencer will return to
a room to find a door open or closed when they are certain that it was left in the opposite position. Sometimes furniture,
like kitchen chairs, are perceived to have been moved. Very rarely will the experiencer actually witness the phenomenon taking
- Lights turning off and on - likewise, these
events are seldom seen actually occurring, but the lights are switched on or off when the experiencer knows they were not
left that way. This can also happen with TVs, radios and other electrically powered items.
- Items disappearing and reappearing - the experience
of not being able to find a regularly used item - say, your set of car keys - which you believe you placed in a spot you routinely
place them. But they're gone and you look high and low for them with no success. Some time later, the keys are found - in
exactly the place you normally put them. Sometimes they are not returned for days or even weeks, but when they are, it's in
an obvious place that could not have been missed by even a casual search.
- Unexplained shadows - the sighting of fleeting shapes and shadows, usually seen out of the corner of the eye.
This phenomenon has also been discussed in some detail in "Shadow People." Many times, the shadows have vaguely human forms,
while other times they are less distinguishable or smaller.
- Strange animal behavior - a dog, cat or other
pet behaves strangely. Dogs may bark at something unseen, cower without apparent reason or refuse to enter a room they normally
do. Cats may seem to be "watching" something cross a room. Animals have sharper senses than humans, and many researchers think
their psychic abilities might be more finely tuned also.
- Feelings of being watched - this is not an
uncommon feeling and can be attributed to many things, but it could have a paranormal source if the feeling consistently occurs
in a particular part of the house at a particular time.
Those are some of the most common experiences of those who
think their houses are haunted. Yet even stranger things can happen. The following phenomena are more rare, but could be stronger
evidence of a haunting:
- Mild psychokinetic phenomena - hearing a door
open or close is one thing. Actually seeing it happen is quite another. Similarly, actually seeing a light go on or off by
itself is greater proof that something unexplained is happening. Do you see the TV or radio turn on? Or perhaps you're present
when a child's powered toy begins to operate on its own. Doors and windows are locked or unlocked. Some people report that
when they are in bed they can feel and/or hear something sitting on the bed.
- Feelings of being touched - the feeling
of being watched is one thing, and actually feeling like you are being touched is quite another. Some people feel something
brush past them, something touching their hair or "a hand" on the shoulder. Some feel a gentle poke, push or nudge.
- Cries and whispers - on occasion, muffled
voices, whispering and crying can be heard. Sometimes it's music from some unknown source. People hear their names being said.
This phenomenon, as is true for the one above, gains more credibility if more than one person hears or sees the same thing
at the same time.
- Cold or hot spots - cold spots are classic
haunting symptoms, but any instance of a noticeable variance in temperature without a discernible cause could be evidence.
- Unexplained smells - the distinct fragrance
of a perfume or cologne that you do not have in your house. This phenomenon comes and goes without any apparent cause and
may accompany other phenomena, such as shadows, voices or psychokinetic phenomena. Foul odors can happen in the same way.
Rarer still are more extreme phenomena, some of which have
been called poltergeist phenomena, and can be quite strong evidence of a true haunting:
- Moving or levitating objects (severe psychokinetic
phenomena) - dinner plates sliding across the table; pictures flying off walls; doors slamming shut with great force; furniture
sliding across the floor.
- Physical assault - scratches, slaps and hard
shoves. This kind of personal assault is extremely rare, but obviously highly disturbing.
- Other physical evidence - unexplained writing
on paper or walls; handprints and footprints.
- Apparitions - physical manifestation of a
spirit or entity. These phenomenaare also very rare and can take many forms: human-shaped mists or forming mists of some indistinguishable
shape; transparent human forms that disappear quickly; and most rarely, human forms that look as real and solid as any living
person, but that disappear into a room or even while being viewed.
Rule Out Rational Explanations
A person who has experienced some of these phenomena might
have cause to believe that his or her house is haunted. But maybe not according to some. They claim that the human mind and
human senses are easily fooled and people can often mistake explainable occurrences in their homes for the paranormal.
Before you decide there's a ghost in your house or move
out from fear, do your best to find rational explanations for what you are experiencing. Virtually all of the phenomena listed
on the previous page could have perfectly natural causes so use your best judgment and trust your instincts.
Try to Capture Something
If you feel you have ruled out rational explanations for
the phenomena that are taking place in your house, and they are still occurring on a more or less regular basis, try to capture
these occurrences in several ways.
The first would be to keep a journal of the phenomena
as they happen. For example:
November 19, 2002; 11:30 p.m. - Sitting in
kitchen when radio turned on by itself. Got up to shut it off.
November 20, 2002; 8:16 p.m. - Sitting on couch
and TV started flipping channels on it's own. Also heard footsteps at the same time.
You can even try to capture ghost voices on tape, more commonly
known as "EVP Recordings". EVP's, standing for Electronic Voice Phenomenon are a way to try to capture voices of ghosts
and spirits on a tape recorder. Simply put your tape recorder in a place that is a hot-spot for activity and let it record.
Play it back and see if you hear any strange or unusual sounds or voices. Most importantly, be sure to rule out all external
and possible sounds that would be coming from the area (eg. cars driving by, people walking on the sidewalk, toilet flushing,
TV left on, your voice and your family's, pets, etc.) You can also find similar results in using a Video Camcorder
perhaps left in a certain spot overnight.
Another way, which seems to be the most popular, is to simply
take pictures. Any camera will do, and sometimes the best ones are those cheap, cardboard disposable ones. Digital
camera's are very sensitive and for the most part, pick up even the slightest trace of dust or dirt which can be mistaken
for spirit or energy orbs. Make sure your lens is completely clean and dust-free. Also try to take your picture in a fairly
static environment. You wouldn't want to be taking a picture in the middle of a rain or snow storm or while you're standing
in the middle of a dance floor where dust is just completely airborne.
Call the Investigators
When should you call a paranormal investigator? When you
have ruled out any rational explanations for the phenomena you are experiencing and are thoroughly convinced that your house
is truly haunted. Of course, if the phenomena are extreme and you feel that you and your family are in any kind of physical
or psychological danger, you should call for help right away.
Don't be Scared
Although you may be scared out of your mind, there is one
thing you have to remember and keep telling yourself over and over again - there is nothing to be scared of. If you are experiencing
the most simplest forms of paranormal activity and for the most part feel comfortable in your home, you shouldn't worry. Ghosts
shouldn't be something to fear (something i have to keep reminding myself!). The best you can do in any situation is try to
learn. Learn who it is, why it's there, and most of all, decide if you can live with your new visitor!
About.com's Paranormal Section: http://paranormal.about.com