9 Signs of a Haunted House, According to Paranormal Experts
Newkirk and Negri agree that the best way to deal with a haunting is to make a firm statement. Talk to the presence in your home and let it know what your intentions are. To back up your statement, Negri says, make it in the name of whatever it is you believe in most strongly. For some people, it’s Christianity. For others, it’s their power inside themselves. Putting that extra energy into your statement makes it more effective. Finally, if you try to use sage, just be cautious and use it the right way. “Sage is great but in my opinion, it’s a little overrated because it’s harsh,” she says. “It’s so cleansing it almost creates a vacuum. It’s like dusting your whole house and then leaving your doors and windows open in a sandstorm. If you’re going to do sage and clear your house, then come in with something holy or something magical so you fill it back up with [your] intent.”
Mysterious Sights and Sounds
Mysterious Sights and Sounds
Clearly we have a fascination with haunted houses in this country, but professional ghost hunter Greg Newkirk doesn’t think most of them are so scary. Instead, he says, “I think they’re trying to send us a message.”
Newkirk, who has appeared as an expert on TV shows such as TLC’s Kindred Spirits, Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and Destination America’s Paranormal Lockdown, has practically seen it all. Only rarely does he find himself truly spooked. He says most hauntings aren’t evil, only misunderstood.
“I think a lot of the classic signs that people run into are mysterious noises that seem to come from places they can’t locate, a lot of bumping and scratching on walls, seeing full-bodied apparitions, and things moving from place to place when you’ve not touched them,” he says.
Of course, anyone who has seen a horror movie probably knows this already. What you might not know, however, is that what you call “a haunting” might stem from something else.
Newkirk has been called to houses where the causes of these phenomena have actually been carbon monoxide poisoning, causing people to hallucinate. Mold too, can trigger the same reaction. For houses with legitimate ghosts, there are more telling signs that your house is haunted.
Fact: Ectoplasm is a substance that still mystifies even the most seasoned paranormal experts. Historically, it has been reported to show up during seances through a spiritual medium. Newkirk himself has experienced the phenomenon in real haunted houses.
“There was a house that I investigated several years ago where the family claimed that things were moving on their own,” he says. “While I was there I actually had a strange, viscous fluid show up. [It] dripped down my arm, out of nowhere. And [the family] claimed that would happen all the time. It was a very strange kind of off-white, almost like a raw egg kind of fluid.”
Ectoplasm is not often seen or experienced at your run-of-the-mill haunted house, but paranormal experts see it as a sign there is a paranormal presence at work.
Though “feeling watched” isn’t a quantifiable factor, people who live in genuine haunted houses do report it a lot. Many believe in a kind of sixth sense. Basically, you might be in a house with a really bad vibe.
“Cold chills move throughout the room, and even just the feeling of being watched,” Newkirk says. “Sometimes whispers, or being awoken in the middle of the night because of the feeling that somebody’s standing there.”
Whether there is a normal explanation for this sensation or a paranormal one is hard to know for sure. But it’s definitely a contributing factor for nearly any house afflicted by spirits.
Objects don’t move on their own, unless you live in an old drafty house where strong winds make doors open and close. Otherwise, there has to be some kind of force applied to get it to move. That’s why when you see things flying around your house without visible cause, you can be pretty sure that there is something — or someone — other than you in your house.
“I’ve seen books thrown through the air by an invisible force,” Newkirk says. “I’ve watched a grown man with a $2,500 camera in his hand drop the camera to the ground because something was strangling him.”
Soaring objects are another staple of horror flicks, but inexplicable movement can be even more sinister than that. Another well-known expert in the field, psychic medium Patti Negri, has had some even more intense experiences than flying books.
“I’ve had people literally burst into flames in front of me,” she says. “The house where [they caught] on fire had been a famous movie star’s house, Mary Astor, in the early days of Hollywood. Then all sorts of people lived there. The Rolling Stones, the Mamas & the Papas…The last person there was Marilyn Manson and the house was too scary for him, so he moved out.”
When she visited the Black Dahlia house in Los Angeles, Negri herself was violently thrown against a wall. If anything small or big like this happens in your home, you can be sure you’ve got a haunted house.
When we think about possession, our minds immediately go to demons, demons, demons. Ghost hunter Newkirk says that more often than not, demonic possession and even a demonic presence is not behind whatever it is you’re experiencing. A “normal” ghost can possess you too. The tip-off is someone you know acting strangely all of a sudden.
“We see cases of possession or influence by a spirit all the time,” he says. “If you start to notice someone has taken on a pretty distinct personality change, that can be a sign of that.”
If you suspect you might have a haunted house on your hands, you should probably dig into the history of your property.
“Once I was in somebody’s condominium,” Negri says, “and this woman just could not breathe in her bedroom. She didn’t have breathing issues but in her bedroom she just couldn’t breathe. I found out that her room had caught on fire and the [previous] woman had died.”
If you’re experiencing things you can’t explain, research might help clear it up for you. The hope is that once you know what happened or what you’re dealing with, you can ease the haunting. However, some places just can’t be cleared of their histories.
“One house had everything going for it,” Negri says, “from Indian burial ground to being a drug house for years. When I first went there, seven people had already died, one in every room. I [was] seeing dead bodies everywhere. I would clear it and then it would ooze back up. That probably had some demonic stuff to it.” Plus, would you stay in one of these haunted airbnb’s?
Physical and Emotional Disorientation
Much like a horcrux in the Harry Potter series, a haunting can have a terrible effect on your mood and even your physical state. It can leave you feeling angry or weak. Newkirk reports having this kind of experience while investigating the famously haunted Hinsdale House in New York.
“That’s a place where it’s a very extreme haunting,” he says. “There’s something about that place when you walk into it, it gets very, very confusing. Some of the things that we started to see in this place and hear in this place — including drumming and strange lights — was very disorienting. I noticed that my mood would change when we were in this building and I would have to keep leaving it regularly.”
The Three Types of Hauntings
Newkirk sorts hauntings into three categories: intelligent, residual, and intentional.
“There’s the classic haunting which is an intelligent haunting,” he says. “The spirit seems to interact very intelligently with people. And then the other common one people run into a lot is a residual haunting.”
Negri experienced residual haunting at the condo that burned down and still felt like it was filled with smoke. “With that, it just kind of plays over and over and over,” she says. “It doesn’t ever really acknowledge that people live in the house. It just is. It just happens. Sometimes it’s because a traumatizing event happened on a particular date. There’s no intelligence there, so there’s really nothing you can do about it.”
An intentional haunting is actually more about living, breathing humans than ghosts, Negri says. Think of kids who follow urban legends and routinely go visit the place of the supposed haunting. They feed the story so much that they actually open the place up to paranormal activity.
What To Do If Your House Is Haunted
Newkirk and Negri agree that the best way to deal with a haunting is to make a firm statement. Talk to the presence in your home and let it know what your intentions are.
To back up your statement, Negri says, make it in the name of whatever it is you believe in most strongly. For some people, it’s Christianity. For others, it’s their power inside themselves. Putting that extra energy into your statement makes it more effective. Finally, if you try to use sage, just be cautious and use it the right way.
“Sage is great but in my opinion, it’s a little overrated because it’s harsh,” she says. “It’s so cleansing it almost creates a vacuum. It’s like dusting your whole house and then leaving your doors and windows open in a sandstorm. If you’re going to do sage and clear your house, then come in with something holy or something magical so you fill it back up with [your] intent.”