Different types of hauntings

4th January 2017. Reading Time: 9 minutes General, Paranormal Investigation, Stuff paranormal investigators need to know. 3370 page views. 2 comments.

You hear people talking about residual and intelligent hauntings, but what does it all mean?

Table of Contents

You are at a location and you hear a noise. ‘What is that?’, you are thinking. You go and investigate the sound. For whatever reason you can’t debunk any sort of rational explanation for this noise and you think ‘maybe this might be something’. You ask ‘If there is someone with me can you please make that sound again?’. Sure enough there is the sound on command as you asked for it. What kind of spirit do you feel you are dealing with? Huh you say? There is more than one kind? Most people do know this but don’t really know the details or why. Now before we start getting into it obviously no one knows this for sure. As with anything paranormal we don’t have any definitive scientific proof that the paranormal even exists so what I am going to explain now is the theories that most people in the paranormal community tend to believe. If you believe different that is fine too, but these are the most well know generalised versions of what investigators refer to as the ‘types of hauntings’.

Intelligent Hauntings

Intelligent hauntings is the kind that most investigators are going to want to be dealing with. When we say intelligent, it not referring to the IQ of the spirit you are communicating with. I am sure that they were smart in their life but this is a different kind of intelligent haunting. When we say intelligent haunting, it means you are dealing with a spirit who is aware and able to interact and communicate with the living. Perfect example is you ask a question. “Can you please knock once for yes twice for no?” You have a conversation and receive one or two knocks after you ask your question and the knocks are not something that you are able to debunk as a natural occurrence. It is generally thought that an intelligent haunting is of a spirit who has either been unable to ‘cross over’ which we refer to as an ‘Earthbound’ spirit as maybe they have some unfinished business, maybe there is a family member they couldn’t bear to leave or maybe they did something horrible and they are ‘stuck’ or not wanting to cross over because they don’t want to face what is potentially waiting for them on the other side. See this is where the belief part comes in. There are also instances where the spirit remains 'earthbound' because they are simply unaware that they have passed away. I personally have dealt with this on more than one occasion where the spirit I believe I am communicating with was not aware that they had died. In these cases they tend to be very frustrated and wondering why when a person enters a room they are not acknowledged . I will cover ‘frustrated spirits’ in a bit more detail below but in a nutshell, an intelligent spirit is one that is able to actively communicate with you.

Residual Hauntings

Residual hauntings are not as obvious at first. This is because it takes a bit of investigating to realise that a haunting is residual. You hear noises, you start asking questions and again start asking once for yes twice for no but there is no response. Just a pattern of knocks. You feel there is maybe something there but it doesn’t seem to be communicating with you. This is because a residual haunting is some sort of memory captured in time. It is thought that energy is stored in our surroundings. After all the world is all made up of energy. This memory is somehow imprinted into it’s surroundings. In a lot of cases the memory is some kind of traumatic event. For example there may be a location where at night a woman dressed in white (they are always dressed in white according to stories) is always seen walking down the grand staircase. It may be that the lady of the house would always walk the stairs at the same time every night and that this memory has been imprinted in time. When people spot this apparition (fancy term for ghost) and they try to communicate, she ignores them as if she doesn’t see them. That is because she doesn’t see them, she does not know they are there. It replays like a record over and over and over. It could be a visual image like a woman in white or it could be a sound. Maybe in house where there was a crime you can hear a gunshot at a certain time at night. Again it is this memory in time replaying. These are the most common kinds of hauntings and if you are dealing with private cases, you will find a lot of them are attributed to some kind residual haunting. Investigators are not massive fans of residual hauntings because you cannot communicate with them. You can attempt to document it, but that is where it ends.

These are the general two hauntings that investigators refer to. The current trend however has been to include 2 more categories of hauntings - Poltergeist and Demonic. I personally do not believe these are their own class of hauntings, but I am making reference to them to give you the information and you can make up your own mind. There isn't really an official class system, it is all based on what you believe.

Poltergeist Hauntings

Poltergeist hauntings are the stuff movies are made out of. It means ‘noisy ghost’ and comes from the German words ‘poltern’ which means to make noise and ‘geist;’ which means ghost. Think of the movies where things are thrown across a room, cupboard doors opening, objects disappearing and reappearing etc. It is even said that they leave behind pools of water which is the classic sign that you are being haunted by a Poltergeist. There have actually been a lot of studies from parapsychologists on this topic and it is believed by some that the results of the studies indicated that it is actually a form of psycokinesis where the human mind is unknowingly causing the object to move. The studies showed that this was most common in hormonal teenage girls who were unknowably causing this phenomena. It could also happen to someone who is very emotional or under a lot of stress. It is also the most easily faked haunting as well. Who hasn’t seen the hundreds of YouTube videos where someone is conveniently filming themselves walking around the house, they leave a room and when they walk back in scary music plays and the chairs have all been stacked on top of one another. I tell you that would be pretty impressive if that really happened but in all likelihood, it was human intervention.

Demonic Hauntings

Demonic hauntings delve into the controversial side of investigating. This is one that gets really heated and your beliefs come into play, especially if you are a religious person. It is something that has been sensationalised over the years thanks to shows like ‘Ghost Adventures’ and a few years ago it wasn’t even considered as a category of hauntings. For a haunting to be considered demonic, you obviously must be dealing with a demon. Depending which religion you follow, there are a range of different demons who go by different names and have different back stories and intentions. Each religion also has a different gauge of what they consider to be ‘evil’. The general traits across the different religions would define a demon to be an evil entity that has some sort of ties to their version of the devil. It is destructive with the intent to break down a person’s free will to possess the individual. The hauntings are associated with things like 3 knocks, 3 scratch marks, foul smells of sulfur and possession of an individual. Whether or not you believe in demonic hauntings is your choice and again is hugely dependent on your religious beliefs. My brother actually completed a demonology course from Bishop James Long and the teachings in the course were heavily religious in this case to the Catholic church as he is a Catholic church bishop. What I am going to say is that a lot of paranormal investigators make the mistake of labeling a lot of hauntings to be demonic when it is actually far from that. The first thing i usually ask someone when they say they have a demonic haunting is ‘What defines a demonic haunting to you?’. The most common answer I get is they are a negative spirit. If a spirit you encounter during an investigation makes you feel unwelcome or is a bit nasty does not mean they are a demon. Particularly if say you are investigating an old prison for example. Some of the people that were housed and potentially died there probably were not nice people in life, so they are not going to turn a new leaf in the afterlife, they are probably going to continue being nasty and maybe then some. This is where I also revisit the frustrated spirit theory. Again if a spirit is angry of frustrated perhaps their actions are misinterpreted to be ‘demonic’ when really they are just a bit pissed off. All I ask when you consider labeling a haunting to be demonic, ask yourself why do you think it is demonic and use your investigator hat and really look at what is in front of it. Do you truely truely believe you are dealing with a demon and not just a nasty spirit?

So there you have the 4 different classes of hauntings. There is no law in the paranormal that says that this is the definitive description of what a haunting is. New cases or occurrences come up all the time that sometimes have us questioning everything. Bring into the mix things like shadow people and black masses etc and it is sometimes hard to fit something into one category. This is why we research and keep investigating. This is the basic guide of what you need to know to get started. Now when you are on your next investigation, at the end of the night I want you to sit down and think to yourself, what kind of haunting am I dealing with? This is probably very basic for a lot of people who are already out there investigating but it is information that any investigator needs to know. As I said take what you want from it and form your beliefs and keep searching for your own answers. None of us have found it yet!

So what do you think? Do you have more that you classify as a type of haunting? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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  • Sean 6 years ago

    Hi there...that's a pretty good description,simple and straight forward.
    Quick question though if you don't mind...I had some people come to my house to get rid of a bad entity (demonic,I have photo) lol
    and they said it could come back with more...I've heard of this before,but is it true?


      Hi Sean, I personally do not do clearings so I am certainly no expert on the matter, however I have heard this from a number of people I know that do clearings. The biggest thing they encourage is when you get rid of any sort of negative energy is to replace that energy with positive energy if that makes sense? Declutter and make the space a happy environment :)