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by Shelagh McHardy, guest contributor  [November 19, 2011]




[]  The various phenomena that are considered to be hauntings and apparitions may be divided into several categories.


* Apparition (aka, a Ghost)


An apparition might be something you "see," although according to "those who know," an apparition is also described as the "visible, audible or physical" manifestation of a spirit.

Examples of an apparition range from strange unexplained smells and cold spots, to the inexplicable movement of objects from one place to another  -- not necessarily the witnessing of a manifestation in visible form.

While I was out on "ghost hunting" expeditions, and in everyday life, I had never actually seen an apparition in the "physical" sense. But on occasions I have experienced cold spots, items moving, and odd smells, some of them most definitely human.

Of course, there could have been a logical explanation, but I need an open mind, don't I?

My camera has "captured" what appear to be manifestations. The majority of my photos have been taken in daylight, as it is difficult to capture clear images with the lights out, or in total darkness.

If spirits reside alongside us, they are not in "human form," in our dimension, and are possibly just energy. I therefore think they would be incapable of distinguishing whether it is daylight or not.

I believe that, possibly, these entities are with us at all times, day or night, any time of year -- and come in many forms and sizes!


* Residual Haunting


Many people believe a residual haunting is an emotionally charged or traumatic event in a spirit’s previous human life that leaves an imprint or energy residue at the place where it happened. The energy creates a continuous loop whereby a certain moment in time is repeated, similar to a movie being played over and over. It has been suggested that these entities do such things as walking through walls where a door was once situated, unaware of the alterations that have been made over time.

On a trip to St Albans to visit an old school friend, I saw St Alban’s Abbey. It was Remembrance Sunday so that "the faithful" were all inside the abbey. I was alone. I started to take photos of the beautiful autumnal colors and extensive grounds.

Here is one of my photos. If you look closely you can see beside the railings what appears to be a hooded monk beside the abbey wall. (My daughter thinks it looks like the Grim Reaper). Perhaps this was the path he took on daily to go to prayers, and his energy is somehow linked to the abbey, with him being unaware that time has moved on.

When first examining this photo I thought the monk’s body was too tall in comparison to the size of his head, but although I realize that entities and energy are not human, and can project themselves in many forms, I believe the railings are creating an optical illusion, making the body appear elongated, with the monk hovering off the ground behind them.

Perhaps the ground was higher hundreds of years ago?

If you look closely at the photo, you can see what at either side appear like arms and hands. Railings do not have arms and hands!

I can confirm that there was nobody there when I took this photo; at least no living person!

When ghost hunting, I always ensure that nobody around when I take photos. All my photos are genuine, with no computer software interference. On occasion, the lightness and contrast have been adjusted to make the images clearer, but that is all.

Residual hauntings are nothing to fear, being just a way of recording past events. One possible explanation is that video and audio tapes capture sounds and images on a film of special material that has been oxidized or rusted. Certain building materials used in ancient castles, abbeys, etc., and iron nails used in many older buildings, have properties similar to these tapes. It's plausible that when a traumatic event occurs, or a time of heightened emotions, remnants of this excessive energy records on these materials for future playback. These images may be paranormal, but are not indicative of a "spirit" -- just recorded memories of a time past.

From a scientific viewpoint, everything is made of energy, and as energy cannot be destroyed, it is therefore possible that these materials store the energy created by these traumatic events and play them back over and over again.

Because these residual hauntings are not apparent to most people, possibly there are triggers that instigate them. Perhaps the sensitivity of the person having the experience?

Why do some people see these and others don’t? We are all made up of energy, projecting and receiving it. Some people are more susceptible than others; they soak up more of the paranormal energy surrounding us. Others give more out -- for example, healers.

Another possible residual haunting is shown in a photo taken at Pevensey Castle in East Sussex. Pevensey has had a castle for over 1,700 years, so there could be much accumulated paranormal residual energy in its walls.

The Romans built a fort here in the 3rd or 4th century. In 1066, William the Conqueror landed at Pevensey and had a prefabricated wooden castle built inside the ruined stone walls of the old Roman fort, with a rectangular stone keep built soon after. The castle is now a shell of its former self, but retains an unusually eerie atmosphere throughout.

The above photo was taken late in the afternoon and shows what appears to be a lady in medieval costume wearing a turret hat. To the right is a sketch of a turret hat from 1390 for comparison.

The lady ghost seems to be carrying something, but what is unclear. Whoever or whatever she is, she is not interacting and not aware of any other dimension, including ours, so this is possibly just remnant energy or residual memories and emotions being projected from the stonework of the ancient ruins.

The castle has withstood numerous sieges, the most important one in 1399, while besieged by an army in support of Richard II. During the siege, the constable of the castle, John Pelham, was away fighting, so the castle was defended by his wife, Lady Joan Pelham. She wrote to her husband to tell him of the siege and begged for his return. He eventually returned to end the siege, rescue the castle and his wife. Lady Pelham's ghost is said to haunt the castle. Possibly it's the result of her memories and emotional trauma from that period.

* Intelligent Haunting

An intelligent haunting is where a spirit responds to prompts and communications, and tries to interact with us, whether by moving objects, leaving smells or affecting its surroundings. These entities are known as "intelligent" spirits. They try to relate with the present day and our dimension.

Maybe they stay with us in the mortal realm, instead of going to wherever we are supposed to go, because they do not believe they are actually dead, or they want to visit loved ones, protect us, or are afraid to move on.

If we are all made of energy, and energy cannot be destroyed, these spirit entities might also be a part of the universal energy surrounding us; being the energy remaining after their mortal bodies have given up, manifesting themselves in whatever form or way they can.

Some cultures believe that when the mortal body perishes, the soul leaves the body. Is this soul just energy -- and if energy can't be destroyed, can we?

One night I was babysitting my granddaughter and she would not settle. I was cuddling her, trying to rock her to sleep, when she started pointing to a certain part of my lounge wall. She proceeded to play peek-a-boo with someone, or something, and giggling. I wasn't afraid, just curious. After all, my granddaughter was having fun. But finally, she got fed up with the game and fell asleep.

A few minutes after, the light on the wall, where she had been looking, flashed on and off three times -- as if to say "you’re welcome."

Shortly after I moved in to this particular flat, I was unpacking boxes and was deafened by loud music that seemed come from outside. Thinking it was the builders working outside, I went to the kitchen, intent on giving them an ear bashing. But to my astonishment, the music was bellowing from my own CD/radio player. I had not turned it on, and had had it tuned to the local radio station. Somehow, the player had been turned on, switched to the CD function, and was now blasting out The Prodigy.

Another time, I discovered all my shampoo bottles, etc., lined in a row at the end of the bathtub. (It would have been nice if "she or he" had done all the housework while they were at it!) I said out loud "Please understand that I am only borrowing this flat and hope I am not bothering you in any way."

After this, I had no further problems!

One evening in my next house, I was alone watching TV when the light began flickering on and off. Thinking the bulb was about to go, I went to the hall to fetch a new bulb from the cupboard -- when the flickering in the lounge stopped and the hall light began flickering.

I then went to the bedroom to check, thinking there might an electrical fault, or the power was about to go -- and the hall light stopped while the bedroom lamp started flickering! But it was only the bedroom lamp -- not the other two bedroom lights! I realized that if the power was about to go, all the bulbs would be reacting, as would other electrical appliances.

Then I felt a presence in the room with me! I said, "Okay, I'm aware you are here. Thank you for letting me know." The flickering stopped!

This presence in my home made itself known on other occasions. One day my granddaughter was sitting in her high chair eating a sandwich, when for no reason she held up a bit and said, "There you are lady, you have some."

I have heard of children having imaginary friends, but adult ones? Does my granddaughter just have the ability to tune into spirit energy, or do all children?

One theory is that children’s brains have not matured enough, and have not assimilated enough information, to be aware of what to accept or not accept as reality, so they acknowledge what we conceive as impossible. Perhaps these so called imaginary friends, bad dreams and shadows that visit in the night, are not the product of a child's over active imagination -- but ghostly entities attempting to communicate!

The "entity" residing in our house appears to be friendly enough, though a bit mischievous, moving items around, probably in an attempt to make contact.

This photo was taken in my bedroom when I was trying out my new camera. The photo seems to catch the reflection of someone, or something, in the mirror, which was not in the room. A face can be seen. The figure appears to be wearing a dressing gown or apron.

This spirit is definitely an intelligent energy!

An intelligent haunting can appear in many forms, being an attempt by the spirit to make contact.

My sister, in her first flat, experienced Christmas cards flying across the room. She returned from work to find ornaments having been turned around, when nobody else had access to her flat. On one occasion, the coasters had moved and were "hanging" off the corners of the coffee table, before she grabbed them, replacing them in their correct positions.

Another time, when a friend and her three-year-old child were visiting, the child refused to sleep in the spare bedroom, terrified of "the man at the end of the bed."

We later discovered that a previous tenant had hung himself in that spare bedroom!

When my sister finally decided to move, during the few weeks she was packing boxes, she had a severe feeling of dread and foreboding, and felt physically ill. This melancholy lifted as soon as she opened the front door of her new home.

She has also experienced odd occurrences in her current flat: plates exploding, cigarette smells in her bedroom, a plastic lemonade bottle bashed against her lips so forcibly that it made her bleed, and two "entities" in period costume at the end of her bed, glaring at her when she awoke.

Although the entity in my sister's first flat seemed to have wanted her to stay, the entities in her new flat were obviously not happy with her taking residence!

When she explained to them that she was only borrowing the flat for a short while, things calmed, though she still had the odd occurrence. To this day, every time I enter her lounge, I am aware of someone watching me.

I have taken some photos of her lounge. The photo on the right shows a clear orb.

My mum seems to have a ghostly resident in her Victorian flat. The below photo is of her lounge's window -- which shows the reflection of someone sitting on a chair, on the opposite side of the room. The peculiar thing about this photo is that nobody was in the room apart from myself.

When taking the photo I ensured that my mum wasn't present, both to avoid "contamination" of the setup, and because I didn't want her to know what I was doing and looking for -- in case she was in any way afraid.

Look carefully and you can see what appears to be an old woman sitting on a black high back armchair, with what looks like some kind of throw over its back.

My mum’s chair is pink and nothing like this one.

The woman seems to be leaning on her elbow, as if to say "Whatever!" I would even say that she is posing for the camera -- so she is definitely an intelligent haunting!

Who is this lady?

I considered that it might be a former resident who decided that this was her home and she wasn't leaving, but it wasn't until I was perusing some old family photos that I discovered a photo that was eerily similar.

So, who was this lady?

Her maiden name was Ann Stark Masterton. She married David Ogilvie of Windymill, Murroes, near Forfar, in Angus, Scotland. She was my paternal great, great grandmother.

I don't understand why she took up residence in my mum’s flat, as she has no connection to my mum's side of the family, and was long dead before mum and dad met.

She had nine children and died at age 96.

I discovered, from zooming in on the calendar, that the photo was taken in October 1928 -- the month and year of my father’s birth. So maybe there is a connection?

Perhaps she was just visiting because I was there. Or maybe she just wanted her photo taken!

So far, I have not experienced a visual spirit in my mum's house, though I have often been confused by certain smells appearing in the house for no reason, and have heard my name being called when nobody is there.


The above article and photos are excerpted from Shelagh McHardy's ebook, Granny Ghost Hunter. She also has a website.

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