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.
Types of Ghosts and 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.
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
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 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.