By Amanda-Marie Quintino
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Are eerie things happening in your home? Do you feel like you have an unwanted visitor? Find out how you can detect its presence and rate its haunting level.
Spirits come in all shapes, sizes and severities.
Hearing heavy footsteps can be classified as a minor spectre problem. Seeing doors slam for no reason or listening to muffled whispers is a tad more serious. But witnessing your most prized possessions fly across the room or finding scrawl written on your walls are legitimate traces of a true haunting.
Spirits aren’t just visiting for a cup of tea or nice game of charades. They’re there (wherever they choose to roam or float) because they have unfinished business.
Whether it’s a common object going missing or the regular appearance of an apparition, you might just be hosting some haunted spirits in your abode.
“Not all hauntings are alike because spirits all do different things,” explains Stephen Wagner, an author and researcher of paranormal phenomena.
“Some hauntings involve a single phenomenon like a door slamming shut on a regular basis for no apparent reason, and others have multiple phenomena, that can range from odd noises to actual ghost sightings.”
True hauntings don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re not only creepy, they’re damaging. Discovering if your house is haunted is a tedious process with several steps along the way, says Wagner, but it’s a process worth going through.
Keep an ear out for signs of a ghostly visitor. Your house may be haunted if you notice:
• Noises — subtle or loud — like footsteps, knocks, banging, or scratching
• Doors, cabinets and cupboards opening and closing without reason
• Lights or other electronics like a television, radio, or microwave turning off and on
• Items disappearing and reappearing like someone borrowed it, then returned it
• Shapes and shadows that cannot be explained draping over your walls, floors and windows
• Your pet is acting oddly, looking mesmerized or refusing to enter a room
• A feeling of being followed or watched by something or someone that can’t be seen
Most of these phenomena are not actually witnessed — just heard or noticed. More forcefully obvious phenomena include:
• Mild psychokineticness, mostly identified as actually seeing something happen – watching a door open and close or a light switch off and turn on by itself
• Actually feeling like you are being touched (a gentle poke, push, or nudge)
• Hearing cries, shrieks, yells, mumbles, whispers, and muffled voices
• Feeling sudden changes in temperature with- out the help of air conditioning or a furnace – and cold or hot spots are classic haunting symptoms
• Smelling scents or odours in your corridors or rooms, like the distinct fragrance of an unfamiliar perfume or cologne
Rarely, there are more extreme cases involving poltergeist phenomena.
“The most extreme level of a potential haunting is when things start getting the way of everyday life,” explains Wayner.
These instances show strong evidence of a true haunting:
• Moving or levitating objects (severe psychokinetic phenomena), like dinner plates sliding along the table, frames flying off walls or furniture sliding across the floor
• Physical assault – scratches, slaps, hard shoves
• Weird writing, handprints or footprints on papers and on walls
• Apparitions appear as human-shaped mists of indistinguishable shapes, transparent human forms that disappear quickly, or even forms that look as real and solid as an actual living people
Still, you shouldn’t just decide to pack up and leave your home if your chandelier shakes or you feel like someone sits on your bed at night.
There can always be a rational explanation for not-so-normal house oddities. The human mind is so powerful it can convince itself something is true when it’s not, says Catherine MacDonald, a Toronto-based spiritual psychic medium,
“There’s a difference between being in tune and just overexaggerating,” suggesting superstitious simplicity when investigating a spirit’s presence.
“Traditional activities like using a Ouija board or trusting your intuition are sometimes all you need,” she says.
It’s easy to mistake a weird noise for a paranormal occurrence, even though it may have natural causes.
• Noises could be a result of an old house with creeky boards and unstable foundation, old plumbing or mice making mazes through the vents
• Doors that open, close, or swing around could mean that the hinges are faulty or the drafts are shoving the doors in different directions
• Shadows could be caused by a passing car’s headights or a tree blowing in the wind
Or, everything could be a product of your imagination. But, if you’re really creeped out, covered in goosebumps and just can’t shake that feeling, you need to leave fast – because spirits get pretty cozy, says MacDonald.
“Spirits don’t like to leave the places they’ve chosen to haunt, so if those sounds and sights are unliveable, get out.”