It’s normal to freak out if you keep waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning to the sound of rattling chains outside your bedroom door, but is it really a ghost? I’ve been ghost hunting on more occasions than I can count and have watched a lot of paranormal documentaries, and I’ve noticed that more often than not, these ‘unexplained’ phenomena can often be rationally explained.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I too get frightened after watching a scary film. I end up jumping at any sound that doesn’t seem usual. A great coping mechanism is to tell yourself that it’s just the wind outside or the pipes rattling, and sometimes it really is just that! Here is a list of things that might be happening in your home that may seem like signs of a haunting but can be rationally explained.
Scratching in the walls
It may seem obvious that mysterious scratching sounds may be due to rodents like rats or mice living behind the walls of your house and under the floorboards, but rodents don’t just make insignificant scratching sounds, they can be incredibly loud! and it can be scary. I once lived in a flat that had a rat problem, luckily they couldn’t get into the house itself but they could get into the walls and under the floor by going through a hole that lead outside. Sometimes I’d just hear scratching, other times it sounded like those scratches were rhythmically saying my name. The most disturbing sounds came when a whole bunch of rats decided to scurry along somewhere under the floorboards in a big group. You could literally feel the house shaking! it sounded like an earthquake. On a lot of ghost documentaries, you get a family who say the ghost started making itself known by scratching the walls and then it developed into loud banging and then progressed to the point that everything in the house began shaking with the loud banging. Every time I see that on one of these documentaries, I think RATS!
Sometimes you enter a house and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. You feel terrified for no apparent reason and you just want to run back out through the front door. Sometimes it’s just one room that gives you the creeps and you can’t explain why. Occasionally there might be an obvious reason why one particular room freaks you out, maybe it’s due to the creepy looking doll sitting on a rocking chair with a knife in her hand.. Other times it’s less obvious. You may think it’s a given that a dimly lit room or a room that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight would feel creepy, but sometimes people just don’t make that connection. A less obvious explanation but one that can explain those creepy feelings, is the way the room is set out. We have natural instincts that make us fearful if we think there’s a chance we could be attacked from behind. In a room with several doors or lots of windows or even lots of closet/cupboard doors, there is no direction you can face without there being an opening behind you or to the side of you for a predator to come out of and attack you without your knowledge.
I lived in a house that had a kitchen with three doors going into it. I always felt creeped out when I went in there alone, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way either. It took a long time to figure out that it was because you could never actually be safe from attackers in there. My back was always turned away from one of the doorways, I couldn’t look at every doorway at once, and that really is quite scary. Sometimes it’s not the way the room or house was built but rather what is in it. Crowded, cluttered looking rooms can be very frightening too. As you may or may not know, when you walk around, you only register a small percentage of what you actually see. The brain fills in a lot of the gaps. If you walk through a cluttered room quickly, you could imagine seeing all sorts of shadowy figures in your peripheral vision, leading you to believe there is a presence in the room.
Waking up and seeing or hearing a ghost
I must make it clear that I do believe in ghosts and have experienced ghostly activity before, so if someone told me they could hear voices in their house or had seen a figure in eighteenth century attire walking up their stairs on a regular basis, I would be inclined to think that something odd was going on.. however in this section I want to talk about hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations. A lot of people think they’re being visited by a spirit when they wake up to someone in their room. It could be a dark shadowy figure looming over them, or voices talking to them or shouting their name. It’s very difficult to say that an experience you had as you woke up was down to something paranormal because you’re not really fully compos mentis in those waking moments. It’s very common for people to occasionally hallucinate when waking up or falling asleep. Some people like me hallucinate when waking up on a weekly basis. Hypnopompic hallucinations happen as you wake up, they are more likely to happen if you’re having a disturbed sleep or if you’re sleeping in a place you’re not familiar with. Hypnagogic hallucinations happen as you fall asleep and are a common occurrence for people with insomnia or for people who just don’t get enough sleep. They are harmless but they can be quite disturbing if you’re not used to experiencing that sort of thing. A lot of so called night time visitations are due to these kinds of hallucinations. The same can be said for sleep paralysis. If you wake up and find you’re unable to move, you feel like someone or something is pressing on your chest and you sense an evil presence in the room, then it’s most likely just sleep paralysis. It happens when you wake up but your body doesn’t. It can be very alarming when it happens and it can seem very real, but rest assured, it is not due to any ghost or demon after your soul!
It seems to have become very popular to see shadow people these days, although I do believe there are shadowy entities that wander our plain of existence, most of these encounters with shadow people are not as ominous as you might think. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and almost everyone you know has seen a shadow man out of the corner of their eye at some point in their lives. As I mentioned earlier, seeing things in the corner of your eye is very common, especially if you’re in a busy environment like a cluttered home, All sorts of shapes can be imagined, and because the brain is filling in the blanks, a dark figure is the best it can come up with sometimes. Maybe if we had a little more imagination, our brains would invent something more interesting than a shadowy figure, but in general we don’t.
Have you ever accidentally looked at the sun and then look away and seen a weird splodge in the middle of your vision? well something doesn’t have to be as bright as the sun to create the same kind of splodges in your vision. Even after watching TV you can get weird things in your vision and not even notice it until you go to the kitchen to make a brew and then you see it out of the corner of your eye and it shocks you, was it an orb? you might think,.. well no, it was just an aftereffect of the bright thing you were looking at.
If you combine a lot of what I’ve said and imagine all of these things were happening to someone, you can quite easily understand why they might think their house is haunted. Imagine moving into a new home, there are boxes everywhere, you’re a bit stressed and you’re currently unaware there’s rats living in the walls. You’d be seeing shadowy figures in the corner of you eye because of all the cluttered boxes, you’d be feeling on edge because it’s all new to you, you’d have an awful sleep because it’s a new bedroom and you’re stressed, this would cause you to have sleep paralysis or hypnagogic hallucinations, then you begin hearing the scratches and the rumblings in the house, scary stuff!