We touched on the problem of ghosts before, but I think we need to talk a bit more about this issue, because the thing is, they infest your houses. They're everywhere. It's like the world's worst vermin problem.
And what do we do? We call the Ghostbusters/Hunters/crazy priests, and we "foul-fiend-be-gone" them. Has it worked? No. I propose we look at this problem from a new angle. What is a common thread in many of these hauntings? A creepy house. It doesn't even have to be extreme; we're not talking The House of Usher here.
It can be any number of things, or a combination (and if it's all of the above, um, you may have an Amityville Horror house on your hands...).
Ghosts are atmospheric (ba-dum-bum); location, location, location.
So if you want to buy a ghost-free house, I would suggest a little checklist of deal-breakers:
- is there a little lichen growing on old stone?
- is the house made of just crumbly stone?
- is the house situated on a crag/cliff-face/high, high hill?
- did you drive down a long, winding path through a dense forest to get to the house?
- can you see a cemetery from any aspect of the house?
- is there any chance that the cemetery is below the house?
- have there been any famous murders on the premises?
- does everyone in town refer to it as 'the old ______ house,' and then get really quiet?
- was it left to you in a will on the condition that you spend one full night in it?
- can the night you look at the house or arrive to take possession be described as "dark and stormy"?
- are there windows that look like big empty eyes staring into your soul?
A haunted house is defined as a house that is believed to be a center for supernatural occurrences or paranormal phenomena. A haunted house may allegedly contain ghosts, poltergeists, or even malevolent entities such as demons.
Haunted houses are often seen as being inhabited by spirits of deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property. Supernatural activity inside homes is said to be mainly associated with violent or tragic events in the building's past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide—sometimes in the recent or ancient past. Among many cultures and religions it is believed that the essence of a being such as the 'soul' continues to exist. Some philosophical and religious views argue that the 'spirits' of those who have died have not 'passed over' and are trapped inside the property where their memories and energy are strong. Entities which are said to 'haunt' homes are often believed to make noises, appear as apparitions, and shift or launch physical objects. This is sometimes manifested into 'poltergeist activity', poltergeist meaning 'noisy spirit'. Traditionally an exorcism is the method used to remove unwelcome spirits from the property.
Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. Haunting is used as a plot device in gothic or horror fiction or, more lately, paranormal-based fiction. Roman-era authors Plautus, Pliny the Younger and Lucian wrote stories about haunted houses, as did the Arabian Nights (such as the tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad"), and more modern authors from Henry James to Stephen King have featured them in their writings. Haunted castles and mansions are common in gothic literature such as Dracula.
The actual structure of a fictional haunted house can be anything from a decaying European feudal castle to a newly occupied suburban ranch-style house of fairly recent construction, although older buildings tend to be more commonly used. The widespread American image of the "haunted house" as a Victorian (particularly Second Empire) structure is said to have its origins in the Panic of 1893, which led to the foreclosure and abandonment of many then-new houses.
Check before you buy: use this map of haunted houses in the US to do a little sleuthing before you bring all of your breakables into a poltergeist-infested house.
A visual reference guide to haunted houses:
As a little bonus for people who actually read this post and are participating in Helluva Halloween, 5 Helluva Halloween points to anyone who comments telling me any/all of the following:
their favorite haunted house/ghost story
their favorite haunted house/ghost book or movie
which is the house they'd least want to live in, the Amityville Horror house, the hotel from The Shining or the Poltergeist house
Scare yourself silly:
- find a haunted house at Real Haunts, or with the map I told you about earlier
- visit a haunted house attraction where you can experience the terror , but where you are less likely to be flayed, as a job-security concerned worker is less likely to want to peel the skin from your bones, as it may result in their being fired. [and can I just mention that the world's largest freak-you-the-hell-out attraction is in my state, fairly close, as well as the realm of darkness where apparently, if you make it all the way through and "defeat the wizard," you get double your money back. People don't get their money back)
- find out how to make your own haunted house and freak out your friends.
Haunted Houses in the books:
The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red, Ellen Rimbauer & Stephen King
Haunted, Kelley Armstrong
Haunted Ground, Erin Hart
The Haunted House, Charles Dickens
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
The Haunts of Mackinac, Todd Clemens
Hell House: and other true hauntings from around the world, Alison Rattle & Allison Vale
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Shining, Stephen King
Haunted Houses in the movies: