Sunday, August 30, 2009

Could You Repeat That? Repetition Versus Novelty in Hauntings

Separating the “residual” (repetitive) from the “intelligent” (responsive) hauntings can be a difficult task for beginners. I like to break it down to the repetitive versus novel events.

Repetitive events include things like footsteps down a hallway regularly, a woman seen at the same window by many witnesses, sounds of voices heard in the back bedroom at the same time of day, and other types of phenomenon which are heard fairly frequently by a wide variety of visitors and residents. These events are often categorized by hunters as “residual.”

There’s a divide in the ghost-hunting world on just what residual is. Some people explain it as a ghost repeating his usual march through his favorite territory over and over again for an eternity. Unless he had some OCD in the prior life, I just don’t see this as feasible. I, however, believe it’s an event that was set down under the right conditions or the right amount of repetition to continue to replay without any spirit involvement whatsoever. It is a "memory" caught in a space and replayed without meaning or guidance or spirit, a sort of sensory blip.

Intelligent hauntings (what I prefer to call “responsive” hauntings) are equated with receiving responses that appear to be interactive, suggesting intelligence. If I ask a question and the KII meter lights up, that could be considered responsive, interactive, even intelligent. EVPs are most often used as evidence of intelligent hauntings, although I don’t put a lot of credence into EVPs because of the fact that recorders are receivers and there’s no exact way to tell if you received an intelligent disembodied voice, a voice that was kept in the environment like the footsteps (above) and randomly plays back, or if you’re picking up a walkie, a cell phone, a satellite phone, or any other transmitter device.

Novel events, are the ones of the most interest. If these events haven’t been reported by occupants before, hunters can be quick to attribute them to intelligent hauntings. I’ve witnessed many novel events in the house where I grew up and I have to say that they happened when things were just weird. The people of the house were unsettled with some kind of ongoing drama, the weather was strange, the air felt weird, and no one was sleeping or communicating well. My explanation would be the ideal conditions of geology, construction, history, as well as geomagnetic activity affecting the occupants of the building, creating a kind of kinetic soup that’s just waiting to fire off, often times creating what is referred to as poltergeist activity or novel events. These periods can come and go depending on the content of the people living within the house and the psychological undercurrents. Emotional energy is a very potent thing and something I believe has a big hand in residual hauntings being imprinted in the first place.

Novelty events can be divided into two categories; responsive and unresponsive. If you ask for a spirit to knock and you hear a reply, ask it again and it does it again, and this sort of answering seems to go on for some length of time, then this is a responsive event. In this case, it's important to ask very specific questions for the knocking response, note how long it takes to respond, and how may questions in a row it will answer. It's very rare when you can get a long-time conversation. The KII session I had a few weeks ago was impressive because the conversation and answering went on with great time-specific replies and lasted for between 8-10 minutes until others entered the room and "scared" it off. If, however, you hear a loud bang, but cannot get it to reproduce, you have an unresponsive novel event. That is the sort of event that can be easily debunked.

Residual hauntings are actually easier to explore because the recurrence of the replayed events usually happens with fair frequency and your chances of hearing or seeing these things are much higher. Some people believe that residual hauntings aren't real hauntings, but I will say that as we use the term in our culture, such as, "that song was so beautiful it haunted me," that yes, this is a haunting. If you're talking about Casper and his other ghostly friends hovering over you then, no, it's not a haunting. I, however, consider a haunting to be any unexplained phenomenon that is witnessed over a good period of time in a location by multiple witnesses. I'll leave the "is it ghost?" or "is it not ghost?" up to others. My quest is to find out if what activates the phenomenon is intelligent, once human, other worldly, or something within our world we simply don't have the senses to note but has always been there. That's the really exciting part of the field today is to throw away Old-World traditional assumptions of what a ghost is and move on to what it isn't and narrow it down further until we have an "Aha!" moment.


  1. It must be very spooky to have a conversation of any sort with a ghost. Do you get scared?

  2. I've never ever been scared in any way because I don't believe in evil and possession or angry spirits. I do, however, get my hair standing on end and deep goosebumps as a reaction to something changing in the room. Sometimes, when people feel those sensations their self explanatory style tells them that it's something to fear or something bad about to happen. I get a rush of euphoria that makes me feel as if I'm about to encounter something life-changing. It's like Christmas morning with your most dreamed of gift when you open the package. It's not for everyone, but I think what I went through growing up and my attitudes about phenomenon make it impossible for me to be frightened ever, but I do get scared of people hiding in abandoned buildings and rats scurrying across my toes or floorboards that might break. Those are very mortal fears. I don't possess any spiritual fears.

  3. I grew up in a house with several problems. The only one of any real note was very active, but also in "spurts". Like you said, could have been like a perfect storm event..
    Heavy, heavy walking, covering folks up in the bed, sitting on the bed, popping caps off bottles, throwing things and "floating" stuff. It never seemed to be bothered by the time of day or night or the number of witnesses.

    No one ever "contacted" it or spoke to it.

    That house was torn down for very selfish reasons. I've always wondered if "it" was still there or if "it" moved next door and joined the people who bought the house and had it destroyed.

    Got any thoughts on what an "intelligent" spirit might do?

  4. @eloh;
    I have to admit that as a kid, what I witnessed about 90% of the time could fall under residual, but about 10% of the time, there seemed as if there was some interaction. The problem that usually rises with interaction is how short-lived it can be. You might get a response for a couple of questions and then--it's gone. One of my goals in doing hunts has been to try to find evidence for responsive hauntings. I've had some interesting and novel things occur, but were unrepeatable, until I had that KII session just recently in which the conversation went on for a good long time with responses being immediate to questions. The fact that the arrival of several noisy team members coincided with it stopping and the KII meter not lighting again was more than coincidental. Still, even if we assume we had contact, we can't know if it was one of our minds controlling the instrument, something from another dimension, an alternate life form that shares our space, or the soul of the departed. My goal is to keep questioning within the right course to find consistent answers.
    Some of the things an intelligent haunting might do are to answer your questions, call your name, touch you, and manipulate objects.