The Witch’s Desk: How do you detect the presence of Spirits in your house?


This is my question-of-the-week, and I thought it would be refreshing to get away from the topic of relationships for a while.  Spirits are always interesting, though they are not always fun, but mostly (from my own experience) they actually are.  This is just me, or maybe it’s that I’ve only had pleasant or neutral experiences with them so far.  For whatever reason, I just don’t feel “frightened” by them. I have a friend that I have done House Cleansings with around the Omaha area, and the one thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of the time you won’t have to ask yourself if you have a spirit in your house, you will most definitely know; but this is often the more extreme cases, real “hauntings” with something that is unpleasant, or obnoxious, or invasive in a very negative way.  Through this experience, visiting other people’s homes and talking to them about their situations, I realize that some people are just naturally frightened by the idea of the ethereal…ghosts, spirits, anything down this road.

The house that we live in now has always had spirit activity, and I’ve only recently learned from some of my daughters, since they’ve grown, is that when they were small there was an unpleasant “something” on the landing (we have a split level home).  One of my daughters told me that she felt it so strongly, and it was such a scary menacing presence to her, that she was often afraid to go up and down the stairs.  Years afterwards, when I began to regularly (key word here is “regularly”) cleanse the house, this entity disappeared.

I remember the exact day I decided I had enough– I was sweeping down the stairs, on a day that I was all alone, which rarely happened with our large home-schooling family, when I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up and a rush of goose bumps come up my legs.  This was accompanied by the very unnerving sensation of someone (a presence) behind me.  Did this scare me?  No, I actually found it interesting– but it did make me angry.  I considered this an obnoxious invasion of my personal space.  I threw the broom down and, muttering under my breath, I stalked off around the house to gather up white candles, and incense, salt and water, cussing the whole time.  I guess I felt it was an inconvenience that was unnecessary, and I would have to take the time to straighten this spirit out and set some boundaries, rather than being able to get all the “Stuff” done that I wanted to get done while I was on my own!

My kids claimed later, and continue to do so to this day, that I tend to do too good a job of cleansing, and some of the entities we have shared this space with were actually interesting, just an integral part of the house and it’s atmosphere.  So I’ve let up over the years, acknowledging that there’s enough room in this old house for everyone, as long as we all play nice in the sandbox.  There have only been a handful of times in the last 20 years when I’ve had to draw some boundaries and shoo a spirit away.


Anyway, I digress, on to the subject at hand.  The individual who asked me this question is obviously not sure what constitutes a spirit’s presence, and what may just be some sort of natural occurrence, or an overactive imagination. Let’s look at all those tell tale signs of spirit activity–

1)  Scents:  It’s happened to me before, I’ll smell my grandmother’s perfume, or her favorite flower (roses).  You might smell cigars or cigarette smoke in a house where no one smokes.  You might smell a loved one’s favorite food.  Anytime you pick up a scent that is not explainable on a physical level, you might want to consider that it’s coming from another source.  I’ve heard about (but never experienced personally) the unpleasant and obnoxious odors of malevolent spirits.  This is just something to keep in mind.  Most of the time it’s all good, but once in a while you might run into something unusual.  The sense of smell is just another one of our six senses, just another way we learn and experience and process information about the world around us.

2)  Noises:  Here we go again, another one of our six senses.  Several times over the past few decades, since my grandmother’s death, I have heard her call my name.  Often this has happened in the dead of night and woken me out of a deep sleep, but there have been occasions where this has happened during the day, when I’m wide awake to begin with, and usually when I am alone.  It’s cool, nothing scary.  She’s just touching base, letting me know that she’s still near, that there is still some sort of connection.  (Death isn’t the end, it’s just a different plane of existence.) Besides hearing voices, there are other odd sounds– knocking, scraping, footsteps, growling (not usually a good thing), hammering, human sounds (like hand clapping , finger snapping, muttering)…and always, you will have no logical explanation for these sounds.

3)  Temperature Changes:  We’re talking big in-your-face changes that are unexplainable through normal physics.  This means the furnace man won’t be able to explain to you a 40 degree drop in 5 seconds.  If you ask him to explain this he’s just going to stand there scratching his head; and if he’s a really savvy furnace man (who knows about ghosts and all that paranormal stuff), he’s liable to be throwing tools in his bag and scurrying from your house so fast all you see is the back of his head.  I guess there are more subtle temperature changes you can experience, but people are more liable to explain them away– a sudden cold breeze that wafts through a room, gently lifting the pages of a newspaper; a momentary “chill” that gives you a shudder.  Besides unusual temperature changes, you might experience drafts– the kind of draft that flickers and toys with candle flames, the kind of draft that can’t possibly come from anything of this world because there is no place for the draft to originate from.

4) Electronic/Electrical Malfunctions:  We’ve often heard that the spirit world has the ability to collect energy from our electrical gadgets and use this energy to manifest all kinds of paranormal phenomena.  I don’t know if any of this can ever really be scientifically proven, but it seems that a lot of these occurrences (odd things happening with your electrical gadgets, lamps, lights, computers, etc.) almost always seem to precipitate a mad rush of paranormal activity.  Do you have appliances, lights, a television, computer, or other gadget that turns itself off and on? …that turns itself off and on regularly?

7)  Moving Objects:  This is pretty extreme and the fodder for many movies and television shows.  But it does happen, and the most basic kind of activity that I’ve personally witnessed (with moving objects) involved a series of cupboard doors that would be closed one minute and all open the next; drawers or doors, same thing.  I’ve yet to see anything as dramatic or theatrical as portrayed in the movies.  Remember, for a spirit to move a physical object, an object of atoms and matter, it would take an incredible amount of energy.

6)  The Goosebump Factor:  Some people are more sensitive to the paranormal and its energy than others.  There are a lot of people (a lot!) who can actually “feel” the presence of spirits, even if they are not sensitive enough to communicate with them (as a medium or psychic), they still know dang well that there is something there, and they can often pick up on positive or negative energy.  Never underestimate The Goosebump Factor.

Ghost Hunting 101

This November my coven sister Mare & I, along with some siblings/partners/friends, went on a ghost hunting adventure armed with an EMF detector, Mare’s pendulum, and lot’s of enthusiasm.  The house we were investigating had been Mare’s childhood home, and the interesting thing about this house and the hauntings connected to it is that several families who have lived there have all had similiar experiences with the same types of entities.  These spirits range from a troubled young man in a bomber jacket– who committed suicide on this property, a lonesome little boy, a man who haunts the downstairs dining room, a woman who chills the main floor bathroom, and ghosts who make things go bump in the attic. The house is a quaint white clap-board home that was built in 1886 and retains much of it’s old-world charm.  The craftsmanship in the leaded windows has been untouched, and even though it’s gone through remodeling and modernization, it still has about it the feeling of another era:
 The owners of this house are very aware of their ghostly counterparts, feeling other-worldly presences at different times in specific areas of the house.  Occupants of this home have experienced moving objects, disembodied voices, banging in various rooms, scratching noises on the windows, and vibration of the kitchen table. This, of course, makes some of them uneasy, and there are those who don’t care to be alone in certain areas of this home.  One lady told me that when she arrives at the house and leaves her car to walk inside, she deliberately avoids looking up at the attic windows.  Not only does it give her an uncomfortable feeling– as though she’s being watched, she says that the windows remind her of the Amityville house of renowned movie fame.
 In the following photos you will see a slew of orbs.  For those people who scoff at orbs and explain them away as ‘dust specks’ that have caught the light, I can tell you that if this were true, then every photo I take in my own home would be covered with orbs because my house is very dusty.  You should know that these orbs have manifested right where activity has been experienced and in spots where the EMF detector was going off, beeping like crazy. We had only to step into the house for the first beep of recognition, a spot between the dining room table and the china hutch.  There is the ghost of a man seen here, walking in the front door and calmly walking through the dining room.  This scenario is repeated over and over and almost sounded like one of those repetitive hauntings, where the clock seems to keep rewinding itself.  But this ghost broke that routine one day when he sat himself down to the dining room table.  It’s believed that he is the man who did the original work on the windows of this house, and he likes to stop by and admire his accomplishments.  When considering this, I find it amazing that with all the remodeling over the years, the one thing that has never been touched is the windows. In this photo, we’re in the dining room, between the china hutch & the table.  People have gathered closer to watch the EMF detector, which was very active.  Not only did it alert us of an entity in this area, we could follow its movement through the room.
 These are the beautiful dining room windows, the area where the dining table sits.  The bright sunshine and the lovely plants give little hint of the paranormal activity going on around us. We were off to a good start.
 Mare, her sister Rhonda, and the owner of the house are standing before the large livingroom window.  He explained to us how objects on the entertainment center to his right will suddenly come crashing down, as though thrown or swept off the shelf.  This seems to happen indiscriminatley, with objects that are sitting very close or even touching each other– one item will tumble, and the others will remain untouched. It’s in this area of the house that a little boy’s voice has been heard, his image fleetingly seen.  Perhaps the precocious ghost of a child wants to handle or play with the items on the shelf, just as a mischievous living child might do?
  People using the main floor bathroom have experienced a sudden drop in temperature, the room growing extremely cold. They also experience a sudden chilling of the water, an uncomfortable feeling of being watched, and the hair standing up on the back of their necks.  The ghost haunting this room is believed to be a woman, occasionally even seen, wearing a blue dress, her hair drawn up in a bun.  The owner told us that she has the unnerving habit of sharing the shower, even brushing up against you.  This same ghost makes herself at home in the bedroom as well, gently shoving the owner over, as though she needed more room.  The bathroom and bedroom are connected through the door seen at the right.  We entered the bathroom through this door.  The EMF detector caught an energy lingering in this threshold.
 We were working our way around the main floor first, here I’m just coming out of the laundry room and re-entering the kitchen.  We noticed from the EMF detector that the activity was very specific and that movement could be traced.  These entities were not standing still, but sometimes seemed to be following their own path– or us.
The Basement… Most people think of the basement as being dark, mysterious, and most likely prone to all kinds of things that go bump-in-the-night.  However, this didn’t seem to be the case in this house.  Although one of the adults who has her bedroom in the basement told us that she often feels that she’s not alone– that creepy, something-I-can’t-see-is-behind-me, the hair standing up on your neck feeling.  I checked her bedroom with the EMF detector and didn’t find anything.  That doesn’t mean that what she is experiencing isn’t real, only that on this day, the entity wasn’t there.
The Attic… We saved the best part of the house for last…The Attic.  The attic of this house seems to be a busy place, paranormally speaking.  Occupants of the house have heard balls bouncing, as well as the sound of wheels– like a tricycle, or child’s wagon– rolling across the floor above them as they sit in the livingroom below.  In this attic, at one time, hung the brown bomber jacket belonging to the young man who committed suicide.  The jacket wouldn’t stay where it was put.  People in the room below would know when the jacket was moved–  they’d hear a loud banging sound on the floor. When we first ascended the stairs to the attic, upon reaching the top, myself and another woman both experienced nausea, dizziness, and a heavy ‘tightness’ about our chest.  I honestly thought I was going to have to go down.  We noticed, however, that once we moved to another area of the attic, these physical sensations went away. Here you see the infamous attic windows from a new perspective– from the inside looking out.
The EMF detector picked up quite a bit of activity at the top of the stairs and in the west side of the room, right where you see these orbs.
The attic was the only place in the house where orbs were photographed, and it was in this location of the house where many people seemed to feel the strongest sense of a paranormal presence, uneasiness, and physical sensations.
We spent quite a bit of time in the attic, picking up EMF readings, asking the entities direct questions with Mare’s pendulum, goading the ghosts to respond in some way– with the movement of an object, a noise, etc., and questioning the present occupants about their experiences.  This was, by far, the most intense part of the house.  We’d been here for a while and thought we would wind up the investigation. It seemed that with a large group of people milling about, the ghosts had retreated to a quieter realm. The group was standing around in the downstairs livingroom, chatting about the events of the day and the house, when Mare’s brother Dan heard noises from the attic and quietly slipped away from the crowd.  Mare & I followed him up the steps, with the EMF detector picking up an entity in the stairwell, directly beside Mare and myself.  It lingered here between us, staying close, while Dan could hear noises coming from the east end of the attic, ahead of the attic windows.  It seemed that quiet solitude invited paranormal activity.


 Dan snapped this picture then, catching an orb hovering over Mare.  Was this the spirit of the mischevious little boy?…the tragic young man, perhaps searching for his jacket?…the woman in blue, a previous lady of this house, going about her daily activities?  Or was this the craftsman, the carpenter, checking on the attic windows, making sure his work was in order?

Below are three siblings who grew up in this lovely quaint house, coming home to recapture childhood memories, to embrace a moment of nostalgia for loved ones who have passed on, and to reconnect once more with the spirit entities that were very much a part of their life in this house.


*Note:  I’d like to thank Mare’s brother, Dan, for manning the camera during
our investigation and taking photos.

© Amythyst Raine/The Witch’s Corner  2009
All of the photos on this page are original/personal photos
and are protected under copyright law.