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Residual Hauntings Explained – Ghosts in an Old Farmhouse

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One of my subscribers, Brian, is dealing with a ghost in a farmhouse that he and his wife recently bought.  Brian writes:

I've been seeing a male ghost (dressed in old fashioned clothes) coming down the stairs repeatedly. He is in a hurry and does not seem to notice me or my wife.  We just purchased an older farmhouse (built in 1932) and although the ghost seems harmless, I'm wondering if I should do something to make him leave. Is he harmless? Could we try to make him leave?

Residual Hauntings

It appears that Brian and his wife are witnessing a residual haunting.  A residual haunting is the most common type of haunting, and can be described as a playback of a past event (sometimes at a designated time).  The apparitions are not intelligent spirits, but rather "recordings" of a past event.  Residual hauntings are simply expressions of stored energy.  These types of hauntings are not always visual – instead they can be "replayed" as sounds or noises that have no explanation. Usually the sounds and images are related to traumatic events which took place at the location.  These traumatic events created a "psychic impression" or "psychic disturbance" on the atmosphere of a particular place. This may explain why so many battlefields and prisons are famous for their residual hauntings.

staircase2.jpgIn other residual ghost hauntings, the images have been created by actions/events that were repeated over and over again. This may explain why there are so many haunted staircases–the huge number of times that people travel up and down staircases, and the amount of energy expended in doing so creates a psychic impression and energy fingerprint.

In a residual haunting, ghosts will not notice the living people around them, and they will usually repeat the same actions over and over again.  This is consistent with the scenario that Brian describes.  Residual hauntings are harmless and sometimes stop naturally on their own.  Once the stored energy dissipates, the playback (and hence the ghost) is no longer there.  The ghost that Brian describes seems to be harmless residual energy.  Brian does NOT need to worry about trying to make the ghost leave. In fact, if it is a residual haunting, Brian would be unable to communicate with the ghost, since the ghost is merely stored energy, and not an intelligent entity.

Situations where you can communicate with ghosts are referred to as "intelligent hauntings." These ghosts will unlock doors and open windows, run the faucets and can interact with you directly because they are an "intelligent" presence—the personality of a person who was once alive but who has stayed behind, rather than passing over.

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Comments on Residual Hauntings Explained – Ghosts in an Old Farmhouse

September 12, 2007

Intelligent Ghost Hauntings & Weird Electrical Activity @ 6:18 am

[...] What is an Intelligent Haunting?   An intelligent haunting is the rarest type of haunting. (Residual hauntings are far more common.) In this type of haunting, you are dealing with an "intelligent" [...]

November 22, 2007

Tracker @ 1:00 pm

The site above is just being built.

In regards to Brian and his Wifes situation. I totaly agree with the response. I have witnessed many residual hauntings. Including Civil war battle fields. The spiritual participants have no idea you are there and they do not respond to attempts at communications. The intelligent participants are the spirits you need to be careful of because they can often appear as being reluctant to converse but often are poltergiests or demons attempting to take over your soul. I stay away from the bad spirits and have never had a violent response from residual spirits. I am not a professional hunter but do conduct searches as a hobby. I also feel that Brian and his wife have nothing to worry about. Just my opininion.

All Take care.

November 26, 2007

Michelle @ 7:31 am

Hi Tracker.  Thanks for the comment.  As far as intelligent hauntings go…most intelligent spirits are completely harmless. Yes, there are a tiny percentage of "negative" spirits, but they are rarely encountered.

February 12, 2008

jimmy @ 6:37 pm

trying to get rid of the manafestation might get rid of the ghost but if he or it is some how conected to the area heal stay until he is sure that it is safe to leave or he might not even know that he is dead and want to stay

jimmy @ 6:42 pm

i also agree with tracker… residual hauntings can be seen but they are harmless and barely responsive to us.

September 25, 2008

Barb @ 12:05 pm

Intelligent energy is also spirits that have crossed over but come back sometimes to be with loved ones.  They can go back and forth.

February 26, 2009

Mike @ 7:58 pm

Interesting, There isn’t any way that I know of to get rid of a residual type of occurrence.  It is nothing more that stored energy, usually stores in porous material such as limestone, or brick and is released when the atmospheric conditions are just right.  Unfortunately nobody knows what those conditions are. There have been cases where people have witnessed a residual occurrence of people who are still alive, so it is not always an imprint of a dead person.  I would be very interested in knowing the weather conditions and time of day these occurrences took place.  We have been studying the residual type of occurrence, if you could send me this information it would be helpful.

July 27, 2009

Omar @ 6:58 am

If Brian and his wife are not afraid of the residual entity, then there is no reason to worry. It is a harmless occurance and all you can do is send all your positive energy and thoughts to it, so it can move on. If anything, it can be an interesting conversation piece around the dinner table when your friends come over. Make light of the situation and you'll see that there's nothing to fear. I've tried that even with "mischievious " ghosts and it has worked.

July 28, 2009

Diana @ 11:57 am

Residual is not intellegent so there is nothing to be worried about. I agree with Omar—it can make an interesting conversation piece around the dinner table, lol! Put a lot of love and happiness in your house by having parties and friends over. Make your own residual happenings in the house and maybe the old ones will go away.

August 31, 2009

B @ 5:30 pm

It would be pretty interesting to find out, or at least attempt to, find out who he was and what his story was!

September 13, 2009

Raffmedic @ 3:26 pm

I agree…this sounds like a residual haunting. Where as this type of haunting is kind of like a movie that keeps replaying in a cycle..I feel that, while un-nerving, it is harmless.

September 19, 2009

littlebit @ 10:58 pm

my husband just passed away in our home 2 mos ago and I believe I have an intelligent ghost in my home by my husband.  I'll be lying in bed at nights crying and then my bed will start shaking for no reason. I catch glimpses of shadows in my hallway towards the bedroom, and my dog attends to be playing as they played or stare into the hallway for no reason. Would you see this as an intelligent haunting by my husband?

September 20, 2009

diane @ 4:24 pm

I also have purchased an older farm house about 10 yrs ago. Though not as often as when I first moved in, I still hear sounds. I can hear a radio playing in another room. The door to my bedroom would open @ night. I've had objects moved around. My dog would turn his head as if following a person around my bedroom. One night while sitting at the dinner table with a friend and telling him about these occurances, a deer antler flew off of a hutch(I have a collection of them) and landed at his feet. Later, while talking with neighbors I found out that the man who lived here died in the house. Would this be a residual haunting?

September 29, 2009

randall @ 10:42 am

A residual haunting happens at the same time every day, month, week, year,and i do not believe it would open doors, as a residual is like a tape player playing over and over again. do you keep a log of when and what time this happens? please tell me more and keep the log of activity. have you done any remodeling to the house? do you feel threatened? thanks so much for sharing here. Randall

October 1, 2009

Al @ 4:32 am

When I was nine years old my family moved into a house that was fifty-four years old. Perhaps it was made of older materials. My bedroom was located at the top of the staircase, just inches away from it. I awoke the very next morning after we moved in, hearing footsteps constantly ascending the staircase. It never went down and never proceeded to enter the hallway. It just kept going up. It would stop at the top of the stairs and then start again from the bottom. It did this over and over again. I ran and got my sister out of her room, told her what I was hearing and she came into my room and heard it aswell (refuting a hallucination theory). We learned that the woman who lived there before us died of an illness. Also, we had other strange things occur in that house, so I am thinking that there may have been more of a residual ghost there. I remember the faucet in the kitchen turning on by itself, a lamp in the living room turned on when no one was there, and one of my sisters saw a ghostly apparition of a little witch in the living room (however my sister was taking drugs at the time). I think the stove turned on by itself too.

randall @ 5:17 am

Thanks for sharing. The water thing might have been pressure build up , it being an older house. But who knows, and the footsteps sounds residual. Pretty cool. The lamp dont know, lol. Always good to hear of these things. Thanks again.

October 5, 2009

Jeff Stewart @ 8:53 am

I have been investigating for 8 years with groups. Orion and PI-NE I founded in 2004. I have worked on a few cases just like this. No matter what we say or do, they don't leave and don't want to! We are NOT Ghostbusters. (lol)

But here in Vermont, we get so many of them. We also get Native American spirits and can understand us but we can't understand them! Anyone know of a good site to use with their Language? didn't find any "Native for dummies" j/k :)

October 8, 2009

Heavenly Creature @ 2:50 pm

I enjoy watching Ghost Hunters and have two questions:

1. Could there possibly be a huge disconnect in communicating with departed intelligent spirits because we don't "talk" the same way they are accustomed to? I mean our modern vernacular might seem completely foreign to them? Young investigators who are so "forward" might frighten or confuse the spirits?

2. If I have the tv turned up loud while I'm watching the show, and they are loudly calling for the entity to show itself or make a noise, could that draw an entity in MY vicinity into action?

October 30, 2009

Blair Jett @ 1:24 pm

Heavenly Creature, I agree that sometimes being loud or sarcastic may possibly make a spirit shy away, but in some cases may even give the spirit more reason to "show itself".

To your second question. No, I have no reason to believe that any commands to "show yourself" on a tv show will cause something to do so.

March 19, 2010

Nickole @ 7:41 am

I have a question. We seem to have an intelligent haunting. Every time we do construction on our house or I clean or move the furniture around upstairs we hear loud banging on the floor while we are downstairs. Knocking on the walls in the middle of the night. Last night it knocked something off the top of the refrigerator which knocked the corkboard off the wall and the recycling onto the floor. It seems to get more frequent and evident when we do things to the house. Our house was built in 1900. I have had the tv turn on by itself. Heard a little kid talking in the middle of the night and the volume on the tv turn up on it's own. Help me to understand. It's getting scary.

July 27, 2010

Melissa @ 7:16 am

Nikole, sometimes moving furniture or construction can disturb a spirit or even confuse them. As old as your home is, it is quite possible this is the case. However, moving things and construction can also disturb the rodent world. I'm not saying that's all it is but ive had a little mouse knock things off the top of the fridge and go bump in the walls at night! Check for droppings in and around cabinets, stove and fridge and have an electrician check for faulty wiring because the house is turn of the century. I did these things in my own home and it helped a lot but I still have several entity's. I explained to them that it is my home and if they don't bother me I wont bother them but the second they become a problem I WiLL tell them leave. So far so good!!

July 28, 2010

Baylee @ 4:41 pm

i belive in many energy impressions because my husband, my two sons, and my daughter all have seen and felt things around our home. it has been getting worse with all the years of us here and now it is getting bad. i am being scratched and so are kids. my husband only sees things, he doesnt believe us. i wish i could get help but there is no one to help around where we live.

August 20, 2010

kevin wilson @ 3:17 am

i moved in a new house back in 89. the house would crack real loud. i would wake up and be in another room, dont remember how i got there. i would attack my friends. one night me and my girl was watching tv an a demon spirte walk by the room with red eyes look at us an keep walking down the hall an dissapear me an my girl saw it.

come home and the door on the back door would be cracked open after i locked it. i left a friend in the house just to see if he would say something. man he said dont ever leave me in this scary house again. all types of things happen. shit would be broken by itself, whisper sounds on tape recorded. im glad i left but i still feel the presence with me. sometimes i can now make things happen to people if i think or ask it it follow me now kevin.

January 10, 2011

Tom Petuskey @ 2:21 pm

Hi Michelle,
Love your site and the service you provide for paranormal investigators. Let me know if you would like us to place your banner on our Links page.

February 26, 2011

Jody @ 11:40 am

Michelle i wonder if u could put my mind at ease at the weekend i house sat for a friend and at 3.00 in the mornin when i was in bed i could hear a shuff nosey in the same room i was stayin in like some body was across the floor but when i turned the light on it stopped but as i turned the light of again the nose made its way around the bed so i made it none i new they was around me and heard a mans whisper could u tell me if i need to ask it to leave or not

November 12, 2011

Linda Bryant @ 1:01 pm

I have intelligent hauntings. One morning at the foot of my bed it looked like my granddaughter standing looking at me. She looked exactly like my granddaughter. Curly hair, same clothing she wore to bed. We looked at each other then she went downward out of site. I thought she was playing a trick on me. I crawled to the edge of the bed and looked down, and she wasn't there.

One time my granddaughter saw red eyes as she was coming out of the other room. I also saw red eyes in my dark kitchen as I was getting up out of my chair in the living room. Many many things happen here.

November 17, 2011

dillon @ 2:12 am

When I was a teen I lived with my mom after she and my father divorced. I had a stereo that while listening to CDs would randomly switch to radio mode (no antenna attached) which I never listened to. After switching back to CD, it would go right back all by itself and repeat this until I got frustrated enough to yell stop — never thinking it was anything other than a short of some kind. My mom would be gone just about every morning on either a walk or Dr. appointment. With my door closed upon awakening I could hear the sounds of talking, children playing, etc. After opening the door expecting to find my mom watching television I would find nothing, complete silence, and no children lived in my neighborhood.

After several sightings of a shadowy figure moving past doorways and the continuous stereo shorting out, it escalated one night — this time including my strobe light. While listening to music one night before bed, my stereo did the usual. It switched to tuner mode and my strobe light came on as well going faster and faster then slowing down. I reached over and unplugged it immediately feeling cold and chills, and ran out of my room. The next couple of days were spent at my father's house. One night my mom calls telling me my strobe light and stereo are on, what should she do. I simply informed her that her guess was as good as mine. They both were unplugged. What would be the case here, in your opinion?

November 20, 2011

Scott Lavery @ 3:53 am

Dear Michelle,

I have just joined your site, as i am having things happen in my apartment. I live in Walsall in England in a converted 1820s house. For the past 2 years very strange things keep happening, the taps turning on, strange bangs at night. The other night i woke up at about 2am and it was like a blanket of freezing fog came over me. i could not see anything but it was so cold. i felt like someone was right on top of me, like i was being pinned down and this really strange smell was around. then it just went away and the room was warm again. It really freaked me out. Is this anything to worry about? Or am i just going crazy?

Kindest regards,


November 25, 2011

tareq @ 8:43 am

i want to see a real ghost…so is there anything that a normal person can do to see ghosts?

January 29, 2012

Sus Yasinsky @ 10:43 pm

Hi Mike,

Never in my life did I think I'd be writing a letter such as this, but here goes. Myself, my husband and our son come from Westchester County, NY. Now while I know you are not local to our present area either, I just had to share our story with you. We moved to the area of Youngstown, Ohio in 2003. By the time our movers arrived at our new home, we were actually settled in by October 31, 2003. That's right, it was Halloween. Probably should have been an omen huh?

First let me say that we have NEVER believed in ghosts. We have lived in some old houses, dating from the late 18th century, mid 19th century and our present early 20th century home. Nothing ever happened in any of our prior homes. Nowadays, even our dog won't go to sleep at night without being completely covered with a blanket, head and all. Poor thing, he used to be a normal dog with normal dog behavior. Don't walk into the bathroom while the dog is drinking, you'll scare the daylights out of him. One has to say, "Its ok Kodiak, its only me."

The first time things started to happen was in June of 2008. Our son was doing something on his Ipod, when someone whispered directly into his ear…"What are you doing?" Our son Chris was 25 at the time, although I don't know how he did it, he shrugged it off. The next month of July, the same question was posed to me while on the computer before anyone else was up for the day. I now know why Chris shrugged it off. Who would believe him?

That was it for a while until Christmas morning of that year. We had a visitor, voice only, and captured the voice while taking video. We never heard the voice at the time of the recording and discovered it while going through the videos to put on DVD. Upon discovery, I immediately called my son and my husband to listen. We know what we think the female voice is saying. I still have the recording and was told by a pro that it was most likely a voice over. Impossible, I said. Its a digital recording on a memory stick.Then I was told the voice was mine. Sheesh… I was so annoyed. Not with my NY accent was there any way this voice sounded like me.

I still have my accent from home. Everyone we have met in Northeast Ohio knows my family is not from this area of the country. If you would like to view the video, let me know. I would be happy to email it to you. The following is a journal that was suggested we keep. There is nothing truly menacing here, but the shock factor certainly is. We may not hear or see anything for quite a while. Everything is completely random and out of the blue.

July 12th 2010, evening.
Vase comes flying off the tv and breaks. Vase was full of pebbles and had been heavy to move. It seemed to be thrown, then dropped to the floor vertically and smashed. My husband and I both saw it

July 31 2010
Sound of two men talking over a crowd while John and I were going to bed. We both heard it, but couldn't understand a word. The widows were closed with the a.c. on and we are positive it was in the room.

August 1, 2010 Afternoon
My newest project was creating a 2 foot diameter wooden clock for the wall. While hand painting the numbers, someone commented, "they're very good." I looked around to find no one was there. Later when John went to the bathroom before bed, he heard something he thought sounded like a printing press in the hall. He also heard footsteps on a hardwood floor in our carpeted hallway much later that night.

August 2 2010
Chris heard jingling like dog's tags in hallway, only our dog was sleeping in his bed. Windows were closed with a.c. on so it wasn't outside. Still, Chris heard it emitting from the area of the dining room.

September 19 2010.
Shampoo flies straight across from one side of tub and hits opposite side of tub. I saw that…really weird. One would think the shampoo would fall directly off the side of the tub down INTO the tub, but this flew across first, then fell.

September 27, 2010.
Cell phone face up on Chris' bed while Laura, his girlfriend, heard sighs over the phone and someone whispering her name. Meanwhile, no one was in the room. Chris was out in the living room talking to John & myself. It wasn't until Chris got back on the phone, that he confessed our house may be haunted.

September 27 2010
unfamiliar smell of perfume in the living room.

October 28, 2010
Chris felt a cold spot downstairs by Christmas decorations and immediately rocketed back upstairs.

July 2011
While sitting on the couch, I saw the dog get up and walk towards the kitchen. One problem, our dog was asleep in his bed at the time.

Aug 2011
John, my husband, saw the same dog come out of Chris' room and go into the bathroom. Again, our own dog was asleep in his bed.

Sept 2011
Chris felt cold spot on kitchen counter.

December 19, 2011 4:55 a.m.
while in the bathroom, I heard footsteps in the hall, walk through the dining room, into the kitchen and down the basement stairs, walked to the end of the basement to the back of the house. then headed towards the middle of the basement again and stopped. Never so frightened in my life.

Since December 19, 2011.
we have discovered the footsteps in the hall are residual, as my husband has also heard it at the same time in the early hours. I check the clock first now and don't get up until that sound has past.

January 21, 2012
Saw a dog trying to eat out of our dog's dish 9:50a.m.

I try to jot everything down, but sometimes I get too busy and forget. Here are a few things I failed to jot down the dates & times. Our bed has felt as if someone were sitting at the end of the bed on several occasions. We have also heard children, we believe little girls, giggling around 10:30 at night. Sometimes its earlier, so we're not too sure on the residual aspect.

One day in the middle of the afternoon, I saw a little girl run directly into my son's closet. She was see through and wore a little pink dress. Then there was the time, also in the afternoon, I saw a white bearded man wearing jeans, plaid shirt, boots and hat leaning up against the door jam of our son's room. He seemed slightly more solid. I blinked and he was gone. The few occurrences I have just now mentioned, we believe happened in '09.

There is no law in Ohio that requires realtors to disclose hauntings or a traumatic event when selling a home. We have found from the neighbors that no one has lived in this house for any significant length of time. We are the first. We, in turn, have never mentioned why no one stayed for very long. The things that go on here are more startling than frightening, except for those footsteps. I am expecting a webcam to arrive shortly and will try to catch those sounds. Thanks for your time

March 23, 2012

BARBARA @ 12:33 am

Try to do smudging. You can cleanse the house that way, and say things like, "Nothing harmful may reside or enter this home." It can clear your house, if you do it the right way. Hope I helped.