What makes one house haunted while the house next door isn’t?

The history of most haunted houses explains why they’re haunted.

haunted U.S. Library of CongressEach site was the scene of conflict, power struggles, tragedy and death. (Those are the “big four” when you’re trying to explain a haunting.)

However, many older homes and buildings have similar histories… but no ghosts.

(Skeptics love to point this out, and they’re correct.)

I believe other factors are involved. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information to be certain.

Historical and geographical patterns of activity may provide some answers.

Austin, Texas

My research in downtown Austin, Texas, revealed patterns that connect — and predict — ghostly activity in that city.

Patterns emerged as I studied Austin’s ghosts. I saw unique factors affecting most (not all) of Austin’s haunts.

Here’s one pattern:  In Austin, buildings constructed with Shoal Creek clay are usually haunted.

  • The haunted Governor’s Mansion includes those bricks.
  • So did the UT Tower, site of the terrible 1966 shootings.

You’ll find a longer list in my book, The Ghosts of Austin.

Those patterns separate Austin’s most haunted buildings from neighboring sites with no ghost stories.

Looking for ghosts around Austin…? Find houses with those bricks, and you’ll find ghosts.

Ley Lines

More often, geographical patterns – usually ley lines (also called “energy lines”) – seem to make a difference.

Two houses can have almost identical histories, but only one of them is haunted.

Why?  As they say in real estate: Location, location, location!

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, I was able to identify haunted locations — the exact spot where hauntings occur — within feet. All I had to do was plot ley lines on a map.

When a History Channel TV producer called me, I was able to tell her exactly where to look. And, when she asked me about grisly tragedies in the area, I could tell her why they happened at those exact locations… why the guy jumped off the hotel at the precise spot where he did.

You just need to know where to look, and how to connect the dots.

Displaced Hauntings

Now and then, I discover a haunted site where nothing notable happened at that location.  A nearby location — one that’s not haunted — was where violence and tragedy occurred.

Haunted Sise Inn, Portsmouth, NHThe Sise Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an example.  Some of the staff have reported amusing ghostly phenomena at the Inn.

(My favorite is the recurring, unexplained trail of ice cubes in hallways, leading away from the ice cube machine.)

However, the Sise Inn site seems to have no tragic history.

But, a nearby building has the appropriate history… but no reports of ghosts. Did the ghosts migrate? I have no idea.

I’d like to see more research into displaced hauntings.  Studies could reveal more elements that attract or repel ghostly energy.

We have some answers. We’re still looking for others.

What’s the difference between a haunted house and one that has paranormal activity?

“Paranormal” means something that’s outside the range of normal.

In other words, all unexplained hauntings are considered paranormal.

However, not all paranormal activity involves ghosts.

Abandoned house - maybe hauntedA house with paranormal activity (but no ghosts) could have demons or faeries.

Its visitors might be creatures from cryptozoology, or aliens.

I suppose vampires and zombies could be in the mix, too. (Yes, I’m being flippant.)

Likewise, a haunted house may have ghosts as well as other entities, including demonic activity.

This is especially true of houses built on Native American sites, such as NH’s Spalding Inn. (That’s the hotel formerly owned by Ghost Hunters’ Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson, and their families.)

I had no doubt that the Spalding Inn was haunted, but at least two ghosts. However, I also saw startling evidence that other entities were there… far more than the “ghost cat” that Jason’s wife (and many others) had seen.

Haunted Tudor World, Stratford-upon-Avon
Tudor World, photo by David Dixon

In the U.K., I’ve seen a mix of paranormal activity at buildings near early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries.

One example: The Falstaff Experience (also known as Tudor World) in Stratford-upon-Avon (England).

It has a wider range of unique phenomena than I’ve witnessed, anywhere else.

I doubt that all of it is ghostly, but — for now — I have no better labels for the weird things that occur during their ghost vigils.

Most investigators default to the term “paranormal” for sites like that. It covers every possibility.

Any site with strange phenomena might be haunted, but it might not be.

It might be a construction issue. It could result from tilted floors, unshielded electrical wiring, or a deep, underground spring.

Never leap to conclusions when a house seems haunted.  It may have nothing to do with ghosts, but still be paranormal.

All ghostly phenomena are paranormal, but not all paranormal phenomena are ghosts.