Recently, a colleague of mine posed a question: Do hauntings have an expiration date?
While I tried several times to answer the question simply, I realized that there really isn’t a concise and acceptable hypothesis at this juncture in paranormal research. To examine the possibility of hauntings fading over time, we first need to divide and discuss some of the very basic theories we’ve come to accept in this field of research.
The “Ghosts Are Simply Energy” theory:
Most modern paranormal research is being conducted under the assumption that spirits, in order to make an impact on the human sensory equipment, must exert some form of energy. It’s this idea that brought EMF meters into the field and taught us that unusually brief battery-life could be considered a paranormal event. There are now electromagnetic pumps on the market that claim to be able to rejuvenate spirits allowing them to interact with the living far more powerfully and actively than normal – like Red Bull for ghosts. Energy even plays a part in temperature drops, which have long been one of the most consistently reported symptoms of ghostly happenings world-wide.
By assuming that this ghostly use of energy allows restless spirits to interact on our side of existence, it’s easy to infer that the energy expended by these ghosts must behave similarly to forms of energy that human scientists have been studying for ages. In our world, energy is simply energy. It has a cause and it is not sustainable indefinitely.
Within our “energy” theory, the haunting begins much like a top is spun; an external force is exerted upon an object, and that object reacts for a finite amount of time until the energy created by the external force runs out. Perhaps we can theorize that the external force that creates a haunting can be of varying intensity? Many paranormal investigators will talk about a “charge” in the air in certain locations, or a different “feeling” in others. Areas of great tragedy, such as battlefields, tend to maintain a high level of otherworldly activity for decades upon decades. Also, these sites play host to paranormal experiences more often than they don’t, lending a great deal of consistency to this theory.
What else could cause our “top” to “spin”? Often times we’ll hear that the deceased had a very strong connection to a certain place, room, or building, but they have passed on in a very peaceful manner miles away. It’s possible that tragedy and fondness could both be forms of the external force exerted upon these afterlife manifestations that keep them active on our side of consciousness? Both tragedy and fondness are human inventions. Who can say what effect our affection for a certain locale has on our post-demise being?
The “Ghosts Need to Move On” Theory:
The theory that paranormal experiences are caused by spirits with unfinished business, doomed to wander the earth until their message or mystery climaxes is not a new one by any means. Nearly all paranormal television dramas are based upon this premise, as it appeals to the religious and hopeful masses of the world. The idea is equal parts purgatory and limbo, with a dash of the “light at the end of the tunnel” thrown in for the friends and family of the recently deceased.
While it’s possible that a haunting could conclude due to real-life events, this theory can only work in conjunction with the “energy” theory we discussed earlier. Should the earthbound spirit continue it’s haunting during and past the life-span of any living person with the mind or ability to help, it would be difficult for that entity to exert the energy to continue on it’s quest for closure. It seems complicated enough to communicate from beyond the grave, let alone to living strangers who are then expected to help you “find peace”. This, however, has not hindered the careers of home-psychics, 1-900 mediums, or John Edwards.
Where human consciousness comes into play is very important in the debate about the expiration date of a haunting. Some will ask the question, “where are the ghosts of cavemen and dinosaurs?”.
The concept of ghosts is a relatively new one to this planet, being first-mentioned in large circulation by The Bible. Since then, the idea has spread through literature like wildfire, with classic authors such as Shakespeare putting paranormal beings at the forefront of some of his more popular works. We must remember that these accounts, while fictional, do have basis in folklore and the spoken history of the world, and that these ideas were prominent in the human psyche long before science got involved. Must we believe in the paranormal to become a paranormal entity?
While instances of spirit-dogs and spirit-cats have been reported, they are so few and far between that there is no way to validate their existence. These stories make up only a minute fraction of all paranormal experiences, leading me to believe that these animals have no concept of a life-to-afterlife change in being. Is that knowledge the key to participating in a haunting?