Theories on Why Some Locations Are Haunted

I’ve been fascinated by ghosts and spirits since I was a child. I wanted to grow up and be a parapsychologist. Imagine my surprise when I realized I couldn’t just go to college and take classes for that.

As a child, I was told stories of my psychic aunt and my mother always attributed weird happenings to the spirits trying to contact us. As an adult, I look back at some of those occurrences and totally agree because even now there is no other logical explanation. 

My family members have gifts of being able to see, hear, and sense spirits -some of us more than others.

I flat out said “I don’t want to SEE spirits!” when I was young. I don’t remember what prompted this dead-set refusal to SEE but I must have been terrified. I have come to believe that my refusal has led to problems in my life, with my health, and with my vision. At this point, I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve tried to be more open. 

Just a couple weeks ago I did see the swish of a peach-colored skirt out of the corner of my right eye in my kitchen. I was sitting in my reading chair in the living room and I heard a noise. I looked up and my cats were staring into the kitchen. I felt a chill and froze. I didn’t turn my head but just moved my eyes and caught a glimpse of a skirt like someone had just moved from the doorway and was walking away. At that time no other living women were in my house and my husband and son were both in bed. I’ve never seen anything substantial in my home before other than shadows and mist and even those were decades ago. The rest of my family has seen 3 different female spirits and the kids have all seen the tall man in the hat.

As for the tall man in the hat…this was something I had forgotten about until my kids started talking about him. I used to see him when I was little. Then I didn’t.

My kids say they used to see him all the time. But unlike most “man in a hat” spirits and stories, he’s not malevolent. The emotion he emanates is one of protection. He seems to be the family’s watcher, perhaps a guardian. I don’t know.

Anyway, I digress…

As I was saying, my children all see spirits, in our home and elsewhere. 

My oldest used to hide under the blankets in his room when a spirit would walk through his room and out into the living room. One spirit was always on a loop around 7am on Saturday mornings. Her hair done up and wearing a business suit circa 1960 (maybe 1950s).

My daughter, who is now 21, sees things often. Most recently she’s spotted the apparition of a jogger near her apartment. The woman is frozen in place. Standing like a statue in a jogging pose. The first time my daughter spotted her she thought “wow that’s weird, why is she just standing there? It’s getting dark.” As she drove by she looked in the rearview mirror…the woman was gone. A few nights later she saw the frozen jogger again. Standing still like a statue, then poof she was gone. 

That’s just one of many strange things my daughter has seen. We also have many reasons to believe that she has a spirit attached to her. One she has had her entire life. I’ve been doing extensive research and contacting people but so far not much luck. No one has any information about life long spirit attachments, ones that seem to age at the same pace as the living child. It’s like she has a twin, but she’s not alive. I’ll go into more details at some point but right now it is a very long story for another day.

My son who is currently 14 was almost lured into the woods this past summer at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes by a ghostly young woman. How does he know she wasn’t real? He took photos of her, but there was no woman in the photos. He said he felt weird when he saw her, like he had the urge to just run to her and follow her. I tried to find stories to see if anyone else ever had a similar experience but so far have not found anything about a ghostly woman in the Silver Lake dunes.

I can sometimes hear “something” – mostly faint voices, whispers, and music that has no source. Occasionally I hear a sneeze, cough, or “oomph” when no other living human is in my house with me. 

There are spirits everywhere. But sometimes not where you think they would be.

Why are some places haunted while others aren’t?  People die everywhere. There are old homes and buildings everywhere. Yet some places have stories of wandering spirits while others don’t.

I don’t think there is one easy answer or explanation. The hauntings may each be as unique as the individual. Why do we do what we do? The same variety of answers may continue after death.

One spirit may linger because they had unfinished business. 

One may stick around because they fear leaving the mortal plane. They fear what may be on the other side. 

Some spirits may get stuck here due to the trauma of their death, while others may be confused and linger because they don’t understand they need to cross over. 

Some might not even understand that they are dead.

While others may get attached to a person, place, or object and are not able to move on.  

One hypothesis I had before I really started searching for ghosts was that a graveyard would probably be a place you wouldn’t find any spirits lingering. Why would you stay at your grave instead of at the place you died or a place you loved or even with someone you loved?

But during my research, I’ve encountered more spirit activity at cemeteries than I have in haunted buildings.

So I had to adjust my hypothesis. 

Now I think some spirits may follow their body or grieving family members to their graves. Then they get stuck in the cemetery. 

There are many theories that ghosts cannot leave cemeteries because it is hallowed (consecrated) ground. They can enter, but they can’t leave. 

Or perhaps some spirits just stick around their grave because they don’t know where else to go. 

I recently read Ghost Story, book 11 of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. In it the spirit finds safety returning to his grave during the day because sunlight can destroy him and he didn’t have a building to find refuge in. While I really don’t think daylight deters spirits, because I have encountered all my cemetery spooks in broad daylight, I do think perhaps the grave is a place of safety spirits can return to.

Perhaps it is their “death home” and offers comfort and protection. That’s a nicer thought than the one that just leaves them trapped in the cemetery with their grave and no way to leave. 

One theory about ghosts involves energy. The whole world is made up of energy - including people. We’re energy wrapped in flesh and blood. 

I think some spirits have energy that leaves a mark. This can go back to theories of trauma and confusion. A strong event energy imprints on a location and it stays there replaying over and over again. While other spirits are on a different frequency, a conscious one, that allows interaction with the world of the living.

The living who encounter these energy forms just happen to be vibrating on the right frequency to see the spirits.

Non-neurotypical people, such as those with ADD, ADHD, and ASD, operate differently than neurotypicals. It is well documented that non-neurotypical folks are highly sensitive to their environments. Some researchers think that also makes them more likely to encounter spirits.

My family is filled with non-neurotypical people. We are a blend of ADHD, ADD, and ASD, a few of us with two or more factors making us non-neurotypical. This could explain why all of us tend to be sensitive to spirits. It could also explain why ghostly “gifts” run in families. 

You can see an intro to these theories here

And learn more in these two books- 

The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion: How Feelings Link the Brain, the Body, and the Sixth Sense by Michael A. Jawer, Marc S. Micozzi

The Ghost Studies: New Perspectives on the Origins of Paranormal Experiences by Brandon Massullo dives into some of theories about hauntings and the people who sense them.

Massulo’s dissertation, Environmental Sensitivity, and Paranormal Experiences quotes Jawer's theories and research. You can read the entire dissertation here.

Quick Abstract:

"The physical environment affects every individual differently, however past research suggests that certain individuals exhibit a greater susceptibility to environmental factors than the general population (Jawer, 2006). According to Jawer (2006) these environmentally sensitive individuals are also significantly more likely to report paranormal experiences than non-sensitives. The current study set out to test the hypothesis that environmentally sensitive individuals will report more past paranormal experiences as well as more haunt-type experiences in a natural setting.”

Everything vibrates on a different frequency. Everyone and everything, including individual spirits. This is why some people can interact with certain spirits but not others. This could also explain why some gadgets pick up certain spirit activity but not others. 

I also think that the more you are exposed to a certain frequency the more likely you are to eventually pick up on it. For instance, you visit a “haunted” location numerous times but never see anything. Then after several visits you finally catch a glimpse of the spirit. 

Of course, another explanation may be that the spirit finally felt secure enough to say hi to you. Remember human emotions are still part of any spirit that was once human. So a shy person will be a shy spirit. 

So to sum up my random ramblings on why places are haunted- It's all about energy and it depends on the spirit and the people that see them. 

America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it's time to remember him

The Black Vampyre is an early literary example of an argument for emancipation of slaves. Thomas Nast/Harper's Weekly/The Met
Sam George, University of Hertfordshire

In April of 1819, a London periodical, the New Monthly Magazine, published The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron. Notice of its publication quickly appeared in papers in the United States.

Byron was at the time enjoying remarkable popularity and this new tale, supposedly by the famous poet, caused a sensation as did its reprintings in Boston’s Atheneum (15 June) and Baltimore’s Robinson’s Magazine (26 June).

The Vampyre did away with the East European peasant vampire of old. It took this monster out of the forests, gave him an aristocratic lineage and placed him into the drawing rooms of Romantic-era England. It was the first sustained fictional treatment of the vampire and completely recast the folklore and mythology on which it drew.

By July, Byron’s denial of authorship was being reported and by August the true author was discovered, John Polidori.

In the meantime, an American response, The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, by one Uriah Derick D’Arcy, appeared. D'Arcy explicitly parodies The Vampyre and even suggests that Lord Ruthven, Polidori’s British vampire aristocrat, had his origins in the Carribean. A later reprinting in 1845 attributed The Black Vampyre to a Robert C Sands; however, many believe the author was more likely a Richard Varick Dey (1801–1837), a near anagram of the named author.

Front page of The Black Vampyre.
Front page of The Black Vampyre. Author provided

What is so remarkable about this story is that it is an anti-slavery narrative from the early 1800s which also contains America’s first vampire who is Black. It is also perhaps the first short story to advocate the emancipation of slaves, released 14 years before Lydia Child published An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, which is widely considered the first anti-slavery book.

Surprisingly, this ground-breaking text is relatively unknown, even in Gothic circles. It appears in none of the seminal histories of the vampire, for example, and is not included in any of the classic and recent collections of vampire short fiction. There is one online edition, a labour of love, excellently prepared, to enable the teaching of the text by the Americans, Ed White and Duncan Faherty.

A mixed union

The Black Vampyre also explores the idea of mixed marriage at a time when interracial love was deemed taboo.

Darcy’s narrative begins with a slave-owner Mr Personne, in what is now Haiti repeatedly trying to kill a 10-year-old slave. As much as he tries though the corpse keeps reviving. Personne orders the child to be burned but the boy moves with supernatural speed and miraculously causes the slave-owner to be flung into the fire instead. Before Mr Personne dies, his wife informs him that the cradle of their unbaptised son is empty apart from his skin, bones, and nails.

Some years later we return to Personne’s widow, Euphemia, who is in mourning for her third husband. She is visited by two strangers, an extremely handsome Black man, dressed as a Moorish prince, accompanied by a pale European boy. He charms her with his elegance and beauty and rapidly wins her hand in marriage, which takes place that evening. That same night he reveals that he is a vampire and converts Euphemia to his bloodthirsty set.

Monsters aside, Published in 1819, an interracial marriage would have made for shocking reading – not to mention between a former slave and his one-time mistress.

Vampirish children

Married to a monster and now a monster herself (in the eyes of society too), Euphemia learns that the prince’s pale young companion is her vanished son – now also a vampire. The prince gives the boy named Zemba back to Euphemia along with her first husband’s money so they can escape to Europe.

On their way, they find themselves in a cavern with a group of noble-looking vampires and a crowd of slaves. The prince addresses the crowd in the language of revolutionary Enlightenment:

Our fetters discarded, and our chains dissolved, we shall stand liberated, – redeemed, – emancipated, – and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION!!

This draws on the then recent Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), which ended slavery and French control of the colony. The vampires, like the slaves, are forced to exist on the fringes of society and so are rebelling against their lot in life. However, unlike Haiti’s, the rebellion is thwarted by a group of soldiers and the vampires are staked to death.

Illustration depicting combat between French and Haitian troops during the Haitian Revolution. Wikimedia

Luckily Euphemia and Zemba escape, sipping a potion that can restore a vampire to the human state. They go on to lead a happy family life, Zemba is finally baptised as Barabbas and life goes on. That is until Euphemia gives birth to a mixed-race son (presumably the prince’s) with “vampirish propensities”. This is the first instance of a mixed-race vampire ever recorded in literature.

The Black Vampyre will be celebrated in a special event at the Being Human Festival on November 14. Important for being the first American vampire text and for depicting the first Black vampire in literature, The Black Vampyre has a contemporary resonance. The racism cultivated by slavery lives on; the struggle against it and the dreams of universal humanity expressed in the Haitian Revolution continues. The links The Black Vampyre makes between racial oppression and a vampiric society, though ambivalent, make its resurrection worthwhile. The crude goriness and spookiness of Gothic vampire narratives can still have an ethical force.The Conversation

Sam George, Associate Professor of Research, University of Hertfordshire

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Read The Black Vampyre