As with all emerging sciences, including paranormalogy, knowledge about the subject being studied grows steadily. Words that once were used to describe what was happening or an observable event must alter to reflect a better and more precise understanding. Perhaps, the time has come to alter our terminology for hauntings as well.
In the past, hauntings were broken down into roughly two categories. They were considered to be either an intelligent haunting or a residual haunting. In an intelligent haunt, a ghost, spirit, or entity seems to be self-ware as well as aware of what is taking place within our current earthly environment. The possession of — and the ability to continue to express in some form — a freedom of will and self-awareness seems to remain an integral part of the ghost’s or entity’s existence. The ghosts/entities in intelligent hauntings generally seem to be able to choose to be interactive with the currently biologically living or with our current environment at times.
Residual hauntings, however, are different. Most people consider a residual haunting to be a specific type of non-interactive “haunting.” A residual haunting is more like watching the same, very short clip of a DVD being played again and again with the exact same scene being witnessed and with the same entity/entities being seen. Almost exclusively, this paranormal clip seems to involve once-living people.
Please note that if ANY type of direct interaction occurs between a currently living human or with that person’s current surroundings and with an entity during the supposed residual haunting that would automatically make the event an intelligent haunt!
A “residual haunting” may be an incident of when it is time to reevaluate the terminology being used by the paranormal community to describe this occurrence. After all, is this type of paranormal event truly a “haunting?”
Considering what is being witnessed to be “residual” or “lingering” might be accurate, but referring to what is being witnessed as a “haunting” is rather misleading. Using that particular word may make what is happening seem more frightening or seem more personal than it actually is in reality. A huge difference exists between being interactively haunted by a negative entity or by a ghost and simply witnessing the same exact unexplained event occur repeatedly and without any interaction.
A ‘residual haunting’ is more like someone in modernity witnessing a temporal time loop or repeatedly witnessing a reflection of a moment in time. Thus it might be more accurate to call this type of event a “paranormal time reflection” or PTR, instead of a residual haunting.
(For the Star Trek fans: I had actually thought of calling it a paranormal temporal reflection but we cannot be sure at this time if the event is caused by a singularity.)
No way ever seems possible to interact with the one(s) being seen during a paranormal time reflection as one can with most ghosts – if they are willing and capable – in the present time. Trying to interact with a PTR would be like someone attempting to interact with a person’s tape of a ghost hunt that accidentally got sold at a yard sale. It might be interesting to watch but no way exists to interact with what is happening on the tape and what is happening on the tape has nothing to do with the one doing the watching. Similarly, the PTR taking place simply has nothing to do with the one witnessing the event or even with whether or not anyone is present for the PTR.
Clarifying Paranormal Time Reflections (PTR)
Again, if a person can interact with what is being witnessing in ANY form during the paranormal event, than it is not a true residual haunt/PTR but an actual haunting instead. No direct interaction or communication with the dead or with the biologically living EVER takes place in an actual paranormal time reflection. The biologically living simply are viewers of the usually brief, sometimes repeated paranormal event. Also, please remember that in a PTR, no demonic or human life force/energy/soul seems to be either trapped or still present in real-time modernity during this type of paranormal occurrence. The person/ghost seen in a PTR actually may be in heaven or in his or her post-death ‘wherever’ just as the person would be if you were watching him or her on an old movie after he or she had passed. A person cannot interact with a movie directly — Rocky Horror fans exempt – and again, a person cannot interact with a PTR directly.
This understanding is especially important to realize because it makes it rather impossible to cleanse or to exorcize a PTR. Arguably, demonologists or exorcists simply cannot exorcize time. In a reflection of a moment of time, the exorcist or demonologist has nothing to interact with or to cast out. (I have never known of a residual haunting/PTR to involve a demon or even a negative entity, but it may be possible that some do.)
The best that any exorcist or demonologist can attempt to do in the case of a PTR is to try to close whatever metaphysical doorways that may be open for whatever reason. Then he or she may bless and cleanse the home/location to make sure that nothing negative does enter the location. The best thing to do, however, is to thoroughly investigate to make sure that what is being witnessed is not an intelligent haunt, and then to sit down and educate the client about the nature of a PTR.
No universal way seems to exist to be able to shut-down or to stop a paranormal time reflection because we simply do not know what causes it to happen. Some people claim residual haunts/PTRs happen due to traumatic events leaving an energy imprint. That may be true in a few cases, but many scenes of PTR are commonplace occurrences, like someone repeatedly walking from room to room, exiting through an apparent doorway that is no longer there, or doing some mundane task. Nothing seems to indicate why that particular moment in time gets captured and repeatedly reflected back during our time or perhaps through time perpetually.
Please note that a PTR is different from a ghost with a type of immortal obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tales have been told for hundred of years about repeated scenes of certain ghosts hitching rides with people in the location where they died tragically or repeatedly being seen in the same location looking for a loved one and asking people for help. Though the ghost may be fixated on “getting home” or on finding a loved one, the key here is that the ghost will INTERACT with the living.
Even if it is the ghost doing the same thing in the same way on a certain anniversary, it is still considered to be a real haunting and not a PTR because the ghost does interact with the living and with today’s environment.
Explaining to Clients
Clients must be educated that the PTR does not mean that the person or their family is being targeted or that they have anything to fear from just seeing the event repeat itself, even though that may be disconcerting for some people to witness. Yes, they may feel “haunted” by seeing the event happen before their eyes periodically in their home, but in truth, no ghosts are haunting them.
Since no ghost is actually present – just a past “reflection” of the person is being seen – this understanding potentially could help to bring comfort to those who are afraid of ghosts or who are frightened by what they see during a PTR.
Clients should be educated that they are simply experiencing a time anomaly for which there is no explanation at this time. Clients should be reassured that other than the shock of witnessing the PTR, no reports of danger or harm typically have come from simply witnessing a true PTR.
In the paranormal community, we need to assist our clients and ourselves by being willing to change. We need to adapt and use vocabulary that better describes paranormal events and perhaps helps to debunk the fright factor for our clients. One way that we can begin is by considering referring to a “residual haunt” as a “paranormal time reflection/PTR.”