They jump out in the middle of the night and scare you, slam doors, or make your dog bark at nothing. Ghosts are often to blame for even the most mundane of circumstances bot how much do you really know about them? For instance, there are three common types of ghost. Yeah.
First up is the traditional Residual Haunting, in which the spirit/ghost/whatever you want to call it is trapped in a sort of time-warp. Basically it’s like a broken record. You’re hearing the same sound or seeing the same apparition every day. If the ghost ignores you, it probably doesn’t know you’re there. In a residual haunting, the spirit relives the same moment in time over and over, probably due to a shock, a death, or an emotional attachment to a place in particular.
A particularly famous case, the ghost of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London, is a perfect example. Her headless ghost often walks the White Tower, among other occurrences. In 1817, she scared a sentry so badly that he had a heart attack and died. Another example of this type is the Gettysburg Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As the turning point in the Civil War, this area is rife with historical gravity. Plus it was one of the bloodiest battles in the war.
Things to look for: the apparition ignores you, phenomena occurring at the same time every day, apparitions walking through walls/closed doors, period or dated clothing
The second type is an Intelligent Haunting, in which the ghost knows you’re there. These are the kind most people think of when they hear the word “ghost.” It’s the “unfinished business” kind. Denise Villani says of the phenomena linked to an intelligent haunting:
“The spirit will usually manifest itself in physical ways like slamming, opening and unlocking doors and/or windows; weird sounds, disembodied voices, disturbance of electrical devices, cold chills and a strong presence like the feeling like you’re being watched or the hair on the back of your neck standing up, goosebumps, etc.
Sometimes these spirits will hide things, move stuff around, turn things on and off or do other annoying things like a child looking for attention. These are examples of ghosts trying to get noticed so it can communicate from the other side.”
It’s fairly common for hauntings of this type to be recently deceased loved ones, pets, or prior owners of property.
Another aspect of this type that might surprise you: not all of these ghosts are evil. These ghosts may pretend to be demonic (I’ll post about demonic hauntings later), but they aren’t, they’re just trying to freak you out. They can be helpful or scary, depending on the reason they’re haunting in the first place. They can be attached to a place, an object, or even a person. (My uncle was in a car accident years ago, and he’s haunted by the man who died T-boning him. His name is Steve, and he’s chill.)
Things to look for: objects disappearing/appearing in strange places, cold spots, someone’s-watching-me feelings, unexplained sounds, doors/windows opening/closing of their own volition, lights/TVs/radios/etc. turn on by themselves, apparitions, hearing disembodied voices and/or conversation, being touched
The third type of haunting is the Poltergeist. This term actually means “noisy spirit.” With this type of haunting comes breaking things, loud noises, lights turning on and off, tapping sounds, fires starting, flying objects, etc. It’s crazy in the house when there’s a poltergeist around!
Now, I bet this sounds a lot like the intelligent hauntings. Yes, it does. It really, really does, and that’s most of the problem.
The most recent theory behind poltergeists, however, has nothing to do with ghosts and more to do with angst. Most commonly, adolescent angst. In these cases, a member of the household (usually a teenager) is causing the phenomena without realizing it. This person is known as the “human agent.” The basis is that the agent is using a form of PK, or psychokinesis. It’s a mind-over-matter issue.
Most of the time, poltergeist-type hauntings begin out of the blue and recede slowly, much as the state of mind does. The Miami poltergeist is one of the most well-known cases.
Things to Look For: all of the intelligent haunting options, but these will generally be centered around one person. They might even be scratched or touched