published Oct 19, 2021
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Slamming doors. Strange shadows. Mysterious whispers. You probably don’t need to call the “Ghostbusters” squad to know these classic signs of a haunted house. But what does it all mean and how can you live peacefully with the spirit roommates inhabiting your space?
There are several things to take into consideration when it comes to determining whether your home is haunted. According to Amanda Paulson, a paranormal investigator and the creator of Pretty Fn Spooky, a ghost can be many different things and simply just want to communicate. Whether you’re a spiritual skeptic or a believer, here’s what you need to know.
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What does a “haunting” really mean?
Let’s first define what a ghost actually is — because they aren’t typically like the ones you know from “Amityville Horror” or sadly, “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” They’re typically more of a presence or energy that manifests in different areas, objects, or forms in your home.
“My personal definition of a ghost is a shadow of life perceived in a way that defies reality,” Paulson says. “A ghost can be the intelligent spirit of the deceased, persisting after death because of unfinished business, or it can be residual energy of the living or deceased, imprinted onto a location or object.”
According to Celtic understanding, the veil between the realities of the living and the dead grows thinner during the autumn months. Halloween is smack dab in the middle of the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, and it’s considered to be a potent time that signifies the cycle of life and death, as well as transformation. Celtic pagan legend has it that on Halloween night, spirits can cross over to the land of the living more easily than on any other night. So, if you’re feeling eerie energy or seem extra attuned to the creaks in your home lately, this may be why.
Before the shivers get down your spine, this doesn’t always indicate that you need to run away at the first chance you get. “I believe that most hauntings are good or neutral, actually,” Paulson says. “I think that bad hauntings are rare, but even in the case of a darker spirit, the living has more power than we give ourselves credit for.”
How to determine if your house is haunted:
So, what are some ways to tell that your house may have a paranormal presence? Paulson says there are a few indicators that can be telling, yet advises that many hauntings are misunderstood.
Learn the history of your home
Learning about the stories of those who lived in your home before you can help you identify any causes of possible paranormal activity.
Paulson recommends doing some digging on whether there’s a piece of history that might contribute to a ghost having unfinished business, such as a tragedy or event that left an imprint on the area. There are several ways you can go about researching the history of your home. For one, you can ask your real estate or leasing agent directly or search public property records through your city or county. You can also Google your home’s address and see if you can find any names of previous tenants or owners, paying attention to any obituaries. Or if you’re friendly with your neighbors, you can ask them to shed some light on your home’s past.
In addition to the physical history of your home, Paulson says to consider the objects in your space that have a history, too. “Many homes have antiques and mementos or are built with historic materials like stone or wood, and it is believed that energy can attach itself to these objects or materials,” she says. “A popular concept called the Stone Tape Theory speculates that hauntings are like tape recordings and that energy from past emotions or important events can be recorded onto objects.”
Pay attention to how you feel
Taking inventory of the feelings your home brings can help you sense any unrest. Paulson advises that you pay special attention to your reactions, your loved ones’ reactions, and even the reactions of your pets in different areas of your home.
“When your home is haunted, a feeling like you’re not alone washes over you,” Paulson says. “The hair on your arms stands up and you can sense static electricity in the air, like when you run across the carpet in your socks. Sometimes a hot sensation will be felt on the back of your neck, or you walk through a cold spot when there are no windows open.”
Maybe you have an inkling you’re being watched or notice that your cat meows at one specific corner but nothing appears to be there. Paulson notes that these are all reactions to take note of, yet they typically feel neutral rather than have a strong emotion attached. It might be time to sharpen your intuition skills to connect with your senses so you can have peace of mind in your space.
Check for “normal” paranormal activity
Sometimes, paranormal activity is easily explainable given the fact that your home has a history, and is simply present without being a disturbance.
Paulson encourages people who move into a new home to check for signs of “normal” paranormal activity like drafty windows, loose light bulbs, and wiring that emits a high electromagnetic field (EMF). “Some paranormal experts believe that ghosts will manipulate the EMF to help them manifest,” Paulson says, cautioning that a high EMF can also be a result of old or bad wiring. Have an electrician check out your space if you can, just to be on the safe side.
Look out for typical haunting signs:
Once you’ve ruled out normal paranormal activity in your home, Paulson says it may be time to come to terms with living in a haunted house. Remember, this doesn’t always mean that you’re doomed or that you should run.
“Most spirits only want to communicate, just like how we love to communicate with each other,” Paulson says. “We are not much different than those who have passed away and our recognition of the other side can help validate their experience. If we treat hauntings with respect and empathy, they will respect and empathize with us.”
Here are some signs to help you figure out if there’s unrest or a trapped spirit in your home.
Strange sounds: This can be knocking, footsteps, thumping, disembodied voices, doors creaking open, or anything else that sounds out of the ordinary.
Object movement: Swear you left your keys by the door but found them on the other side of the room instead? Spirits will sometimes move objects to indicate their presence.
Phantom smells: If you’re catching whiffs of strange odors, whether it’s perfume, tobacco, or unpleasant smells that don’t seem to have a source, this may mean there’s a ghost in your midst.
Cold spots: In horror movies, sometimes you’ll see people’s breath to indicate a haunting, but in real life, it’s not always as extreme. Feeling even subtle shifts or bursts of cold air can indicate a paranormal presence. This is believed to be because ghosts draw energy and take heat from the environment in which they’re present.
Seeing an apparition: The most obvious sign that a spirit is inhabiting your home is visually seeing something. This can manifest in many different ways to different people, from being a cryptic shadowy figure to something more resembling a person.
Paulson emphasizes that you should rely on your intuition to determine if you should communicate with the ghost or simply leave it alone.
“I trust my head, heart, and gut to help me determine what kind of ghost I’m meeting,” she says. “If something supernatural is making you feel uncomfortable or scared, you can ask that spirit to leave and take control of the energy in the space around you.”
What should I do if my house is haunted?
There are several telltale signs of a spirit in your home, and due to the autumnal energy, you may be picking up on these indicators even more. But ultimately, you have the power to decide whether something will haunt you or not.
“If you feel overwhelmed in your haunted house, communicate that,” Paulson says. “But remember the valuable history you could learn from letting your ghostly resident stay.”
If you’re feeling paranoid or sense negative energy, there are several measures you can take. This can include cleansing the energy in your home for a fresh start by trying a blessing spell with an intention in mind; tapping into your own cultural heritage and seeing if your ancestors relied on a certain cleansing ritual can be a great place to start.
If you decide the energy in your home is neutral or even friendly, you can experiment with communication if it so calls to you. Or, you may just come to terms with the fact that you have a roommate who sometimes likes to play pranks on you — and can’t we all use a little more company these days?