ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴍʏ HOME ʙᴇ HAUNTED?

(Illustrated by Édouard de Beaumont, 1871)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, firstly, anything can be “haunted”, when you think about it. A location that is regarded as “haunted”, is considered to be a place frequented by ghosts. What are ghosts? The remaining trace or vestige of something that “once was”. If something traumatic or humiliating happens to us, we may want to avoid the place where these things occurred, because to the individual, those places are (sometimes eternally) haunted with unpleasant memories.

In most instances, where the question of ‘hauntings’ arise, people aren’t referring to mere memories but instead phantasms, spectres and apparitions. Spirits or unforeseen forces that by whatever means, make their presence known. Usually causing negative implications on the living, at the very least, some form of psychological duress.

According to Pewresearch.org, in 2009 a study discovered that out of 2,003 Americans surveyed; 18% claimed to have seen a ghost. While 29% believed they were somehow in touch with the dead.

Interestingly, as you may have already recognized from anecdotal stories you might have heard or even seen in Hollywood depictions of the “haunted house”, it’s quite often an individual/family unit moving into a new unfamiliar home/place. It starts off with something subtle like an eerie feeling that progresses to lost items, anomalous electrical activity etc. Then the apparitions start and it progresses on, usually culminating with the discovery of some physical evidence of some horrendous tragedy, like a desecrated corpse hidden beneath the basement. At least in film.

The essential element that Hollywood gets right, along with most anecdotes is that something happens when you take any living creature out of its natural habitat. If you take an animal from its habitat or terrarium and place it in another, the animal experiences some initial duress, because change means uncertainty and uncertainly means fear. This works the same way in humans, with the change of locale or the increase of stress (most often caused due to a lack of sleep) natural human paranoia kicks in.

This concept is so old in fact, that there is a ghost story with this exact premise dating back some 2,000 years.

According to a surviving written account by Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus), 61 – circa 113 AD, he claims he was told stories of unusual circumstances regarding the Greek philosopher, Athenodorus Cananites (Ἀθηνόδωρος Κανανίτης), circa 74 BC – 7 AD. In a letter titled, ‘LXXXIII. To Sura’ he explains Athenodoros coming into possession of a large house, being sold for a suspiciously low price.

“In the dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of iron, was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains, distant at first, but approaching nearer by degrees: immediately afterwards a spectre appeared in the form of an old man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, with a long beard and dishevelled, hair, rattling the chains on his feet and hands.”  

—Pliny the Younger

The story concludes with Athenodoros being led by the apparition to a certain spot in his home, which he marked. Later having the floor dug up to reveal the mangled skeletal remains of a chained man. Immediately after the remains were exhumed the hauntings ceased.

Essentially, there are two fears being represented in this ‘haunted house’ trope. One is the human fear of ghosts, which is intertwined with the fear of death and the unknown. The other fear, is spending a great deal of money on a new home, to discover it is haunted, or the premise of something gruesome and unpleasant. Thus, becoming a bad investment.

Two common human fears, death and the loss of money.

The “unknown territory” leading to heightened senses and (in some cases paranoid interpretations of otherwise normal) response to generic stimuli could account for a great many people believing their domicile is in someway haunted by an unworldly entity.

But this in no way accounts for all of them.

The most commonly reported signs that your home may be haunted are:

⦿ First and foremost, history. Cut to the chase, is it an old home? Does the land have a dark past? The noose hanging in the garage could save you a lot of guess work here. Older, creepier homes, in areas with a dark rich history of murders etc are far more stereotypically common to be considered haunted. Not exclusively the case, but for the sake of ascertaining if your home is haunted it’s good to take all elements into consideration.

⦿ More often than not, it begins with the faintest feeling as though you happen to be somewhere that you not welcome. Undoubtedly, the precursor to many unfortunate events.

⦿ Feeling as though you’re being watched. (Relatively common even if your home isn’t haunted. In fact this is so common, many individuals will momentarily feel as though they are being watched after reading this sentence.)

⦿ Objects appearing in strange places, or disappearing entirely without viable explanation. Things being moved even to a minuscule degree. Falling paintings/pictures, religious icons, clocks stopping etc.

⦿ Unusual noises. Formulaic patterns of knocks, often at the same time of day/night. Footsteps, audible calls, muffled speech.

⦿ Anomalous electrical activity, though there is a correlation of old creepy houses and genuinely bad defective, corroded wiring. Unusual electromagnetic fields are not conclusive reasons (alone) to believe your home is haunted as there are various natural and man-made causes.

⦿ Visual, olfactory and auditory hallucinations. Seeing, smelling or hearing things that by all rights you should not be seeing/smelling/hearing. Primarily experienced on an individual level. Foul odors appearing and going away without explanation, at certain times, maybe in certain parts of the house. Momentary glimpses of shadowy entities. Sounds like calls, laughter, sobbing. Footsteps heading down a hallway, etc.

⦿ Parts of the home/house seem to hold certain temperatures. Like a room being consistently cold, maybe a specific area of a room. Temperature fluctuations, usually spikes of cold that cannot naturally be explained. More often than not experienced at night, maybe at a reoccurring hour.

⦿ Bruises, marks, injuries you cannot explain, often appearing when you wake up of a morning. Rare accounts, human bite indentations on extremities.

⦿ Unusually intense/vivid nightmares. Experiences of sleep paralysis disorder/Old Hag syndrome. Often the nightmares pertain to a sort of torment, that will carry over into nocturnal disturbances.

⦿ Sightings of apparitions. By the time you are frequently sighting apparitions appear in your home you should attempt to have someone other than yourself witness said apparition. Once more than one person has witnessed the phenomenon then it’s swiftly becoming apparent that your home may in fact, be haunted.

⦿ Finally, bouts of confrontation/interaction with an incorporeal entity. In worst case scenarios, actual physical contact with a spirit. In extremely rare cases, individuals have claimed the confrontation can be as real and dangerous as a physical altercation with another living being. At which stage, some sort of religious or third party intervention is usually suggested. Along with the immediate ejection from the premise until the situation can be assessed/dealt with.

If you’re experiencing anything outlined above the last thing you should do is suffer in silence. As horrifying as it can be for the home owner, living in fear, there are many people who would be interested in helping you assess if there is something supernatural going on in your home. Maybe a friend or relative, or you could contact someone (you trust, at least enough to be in your home) to look into it with you.

I find it fascinating hearing about haunted homes. But in my experience, the “hauntings” are generally so subtle that the “ghost” really isn’t doing anything so offensive to bother the occupants of the home. To this day, I don’t believe I have witnessed a truly haunted home.

Maybe I’ll haunt this home when I die? Physically abuse the living, so they know it’s a proper haunting. Maybe they’ll even link it back to this specific article, “the bastard, it says here he planned to haunt the house all along! Even before he died!” “You’re kidding, darling!?” “Then there’s a sort of back and forth exchange of speech at the end, sort of mocking us, I suppose,” “horrendous!” “Yes, quite, then it goes on to say here if we both say ‘Yowsa Yowsa Yowsa’ he won’t haunt us anymore.” “Well, thank God that’s over with.”

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