I once had a case where the homeowners often heard an elderly lady doing the dishes late at night before thumping up the stairs, using her cane to help her old bones manage the steps. In the morning, they were disappointed to see that any dishes that were left in the sink from the night before had remained in the sink; they were looking forward to one less chore. Was she a ghost or wishful thinking?
Some of the signs that an area may have paranormal activity may include:
- Foosteps: More common in a residual haunting,
footsteps may replay the path taken by a long-dead resident. Pacing the
floors at night when it’s quiet or even running up and down the stairs,
these spectral wanderings should be recorded when and where they happen to
see if there’s a pattern forming.
- Doors opening or shutting: There’s nothing like
the soft click of a doorknob when you know you’re alone in the house to
get the blood pumping and a quick phone call to your dad. Hearing a door
move is more common than seeing it open or shut. You may have wandered
into a memory of a ghost coming home after a long day at work.
- Knocking: Rapping or pounding on the walls will
definitely get your attention. If this occurs, try to pinpoint where the
sounds are coming from to investigate.
- Music: Phantom music has been featured in many
ghost experiences through instruments such as a piano or violin or through
the radio – even in they aren’t in the house. Keep an ear out for what
song is playing, if you can identify it, it may help you to place the time
period the ghost is trapped in.
- Crying: Sometimes a ghost just needs a hug.
- Voices or whispers: Late at night, when the
house is quiet, you may be able to hear someone telling you not to forget
your science prooooojeeeccctttttt----
- General noises: Sounds that you can’t identify
such as grunting or clicks. Be sure to eliminate all other possible
reasons for those noises first before deciding it’s paranormal. Rodents in
the wall, air in the pipes or wind against the windows are common causes
of strange noises, especially in older houses.
- Screaming: Nothing like a blood curdling scream to make you whip out your logbook! Well, after you’ve stopped running in small circles, that is. A burst of energy like this isn’t common so try to discover where the scream originated from and try to connect why then – why there?
- Cigars/pipes/cigarettes: The smell of tobacco
can be so strong that it stains the air. If you are in an area that does
not allow smoking or can determine that there is no one close that is
smoking, write down when and where you first smelled the smoke. While
visiting the Whaley House in San Diego, California, I noticed the scent of
a cigar in the museum. I learned a short time later that the ghost of the
former owner was often sensed by the heavy smell of cigar he’d used while
- Food: Just what did your mother put in with that
toe casserole? Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, a lot of
memories are associated with food and the way it’s prepared. I know I’ve
been haunted by the thought of chocolate chip cookies…
- Perfume: Known as Perfume Ghosts, some spirits
have been identified by the presence of a scent they wore during life such
as the ghost at the Octagon in Washington, D.C. who smells of lilacs as
she passes the living.
- Gunpowder: There have been reports of the smell
of gunpowder from the battlefields of Gettysburg, PA on the days where
there have been no re-enactments.
- The Winchester Mystery House in California smells of chicken soup on occasion.
Probably the most startling, seeing something appear from nowhere or watching something scoot across the floor on its own can give you a pretty good heads up that something’s afoot.
- Movement out of the corner of the eye: These
small, fleeting glimpses of shadows are frequently noted in paranormal
cases. Too quick to be seen, they disappear before the living can get a
good look at them. Be sure to rule out headlights in passing cars, shadows
created by clouds over the sun and toddlers who are much too fast for
their own good.
- Apparitions: Seeing a full-body apparition is
incredibly rare so if it happens, try to remember what it was wearing so
you can identify the time period later, if it was making any motions or
facial expressions, and if there were any sounds happening at the same
time. Some apparitions are merely a wisp of smoke while others have been
seen as so closely resembling the living that they’ve been mistaken for
someone with a pulse.
- Electrical appliances being switched off/on:
This includes televisions, lights, ovens and game systems. On lamps, check
for touch-light bulbs – these lamps may be tricky and turn themselves on
and off due to faulty wiring. Suggest to the homeowners to check for
frayed wires before thinking it’s a ghost.
- Items being moved: You know you left your
homework by the door, so why isn’t it there when you’re running out the
door for the bus? In some cases, items go missing only to pop up in
another area at a later date. Sometimes a ghost may bring things to your
house that you’ve never seen before such as coins or jewelry.
- Floating heads: Just wanted to see if you were
- Feelings of being watched: Downright creepy.
- Nightmares: Ghosts may find it easier to
communicate through the dream state as it takes less energy than writing
their name on the wall – though much less dramatic. If you are having
multiple nightmares, take control and note what symbols or feelings may be
present that you can identify later. Happiness? It may be a loved one
saying their final goodbye. Dread? What are you worried about? A ghost may
be there to help you work through it and find some answers.