19 Signs of Paranormal Activity: Are You Experiencing a Haunting?

Updated June 14, 2021
orbs floating in a forest

When you know the signs of paranormal activity, you can determine the type of haunting you're experiencing. This knowledge will help you determine the best course of action.

1. Apparitions

An apparition is the materializing of energy that resembles a physical form, that can be a person, animal, other being, or object. Apparitions are seen as a mist, vapor, or denser ethereal matter. These manifestations can be full-bodied, partial figures, or parts of the bodies, such as a floating head or a hand. The apparition doesn't become solid matter and typically disintegrates or vanishes quickly.

Some apparitions are intelligent, interactive hauntings, while others are residual energy. This type of haunting is believed to be an energy imprint on the site that repeats over and over like a video loop. If you are experiencing a repetitive appearance of an apparition that behaves the same way each time, then it's possible it is a residual ghost.

2. Shadow People

Shadow people are one of the scariest types of paranormal activity, second only to an apparition. The presence is truly like a person's detached shadow that moves about a haunted place. Unlike a real shadow, the shadow person is much blacker/darker and is believed to be a humanoid figure of some type of otherworldly being or spirit. A shadow person doesn't have any distinguishable features.

People report a malevolent presence when a dark shadow figure skirts around a room. Some shadow figures are wisps of movement, a transparent shadow, or a three-dimensional dense form. Many people believe the shadow person has a menacing energy. Shadow people are often seen in the peripheral vision, appearing as dark silhouettes. A shadow person can be clearly seen in dimly light rooms. If seen in a darkened room, the shadow person can still be seen with its dense blackness.

Not everyone reports feeling threatened or frightened by a shadow person. Some believe these dark figures may be some type of extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe that occasionally bleed over into this dimension.

Forest with a ghostly woman in white

3. Phantom Sounds

A phantom sound can be any sound that should have something or someone making it. This might be the sound of footfalls ascending a staircase or down a hallway. It could be music coming from another room, or the sound of dishes, silverware or glassware clicking as though people are dining. The sound of a slamming door, although the door hasn't moved.

Oftentimes, phantom sounds are part of a residual haunting. It's believed that powerful emotions experienced by a living person during a traumatic event can be imprinted on the energies of the location. Other times, phantom sounds may be current manifestations of an active spirit. The spirit is able to create these sounds from its actions in a deliberate attempt to let its presence be known. If you can't locate a reasonable source/cause of the sound, it may be paranormal in origin.

4. Disembodied Voices

Hearing voices is a common report of a haunting. A disembodied voice is a vocalization you hear at the time it occurs with no distinguishable source. Hearing someone call your name is a very common occurrence. A clear instance of a disembodied voice might be hearing someone say, "Hello," when you are alone in a room or house with no other person within hearing distance.

Disembodied voices may include whispers, spoken words, singing, sighs, shouts, crying, or other vocalizations. People have reported hearing indiscernible conversations sounding from another room, but upon investigating, discover no one is there. This is a common type of paranormal activity experienced in known haunted locations, such as old buildings, cemeteries, and battlefields.

5. Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP)

Electric voice phenomenon (EVP) is the recording of a voice either within a video or by an audio recorder. The voice wasn't heard during the time of the recording and only discovered during the playback.

An EVP is believed to be some form of psychokinetic (power of the mind) imprint on the recording. This type of paranormal activity occurs as a result of interaction between the entity and the paranormal investigator. When the EVP is a direct response to a question, it's considered an intelligent haunting. Another type of EVP is related to the investigator's activity. This EVP is a ghostly comment that interrupts the investigators' conversation in an attempt to let its presence be known.

6. Phantom Smells or Aromas

An odd smell or aroma is known as a phantom scent or smell. This type of paranormal activity can be associated with an individual spirit or can be something more sinister. For example, your grandfather may have smoked pipes and you catch the whiff of his favorite pipe tobacco. This could be the announcement of his visit or some other spirit that smoked a pipe when in the physical world.

Other reports of phantom smoke scents include cigar, cigarette, and wood-smoke. There can be various perfume aromas, especially a scent you recognize as a favorite of a deceased loved one. The smell of roses is often reported when seeing an angelic or Virgin Mary apparition. Demonic or malevolent spirits are often identified with putrid or sulfur smells. If you experience odd smells that have no source and dissipate as quickly as they emerged, then most likely they're a sign of paranormal activity.

Phantom Smells or Aromas

7. Poltergeist Activity

The German word, poltergeist has an appropriate meaning of noisy ghost. This type of paranormal activity is attributed to a mischievous spirit that is a prankster and likes to make noise. A poltergeist likes to take objects and hide them from you, such as a hairbrush, jewelry, or car keys. You ultimately find these objects in unexpected places. The activities of a poltergeist haunting range from phantom sounds to objects moving on their own. This can be levitation, furniture being rearranged, glassware sliding across a table or kitchen cabinets opening and closing on their own.

This spirit often attaches itself to a child going through puberty, but isn't limited to being attracted only to pubescent children. Some parapsychologists believe the activity isn't an actual spirit but the manifestation of the individual's kinetic energy. This psychokinetic (PK) energy can manifest for all manner of reasons, but the most common one is the hormonal imbalance found in adolescents.

8. Electronic Equipment Malfunctions

The interruption of electronic equipment is often another sign of paranormal activity. For example, paranormal investigators anecdotally report their electronic equipment malfunctioning when investigating reported paranormal locations. Cameras stop working, infrared cameras power down, or lights turn off with no apparent cause. It's believed that spirits siphon the device's energy in order to manifest.

If you're experiencing this type of interference in your home, before declaring your home is haunted, you need to check your electric wiring to make sure it's safe and fully operational. You should test your devices in a different place to ensure they are properly functioning or need repairing or replacing.

Electronic Equipment Malfunctions

9. Orbs

Orbs are often seen with the naked eye in a haunted place. Eyewitnesses report seeing orbs of various colors. The color of an orb has an assigned meaning that may help you to determine what it represents. Orbs often appear in photographs or videos. Many of the photo or video orbs are translucent or whitish in appearance, but the majority of these are nothing more than dust.

People posting their orb videos online often argue that dust cannot move up, which is absurd since dust certainly can move up, down, or even sideways depending on the direction of the air current that disturbed the dust. A spirit orb will generate its own illumination and maneuver about a room or space, change directions, or appear to dart about. It's believed that orbs are spirits of either someone deceased, or are angelic beings.

If you see an orb with your naked eyes, you can be sure it isn't dust particles. If you capture an orb in a photo or video, look for self-illumination to determine if it is simply a dust particle reflecting light or if it is an orb that is a paranormal sign of spirit activity.

10. Unexplained Battery Drain

Another type of paranormal activity is the draining of batteries, especially new fully charged ones. Paranormal investigators often report that the batteries of their electronic devices such as flashlights, cameras, recorders, and cell phones suddenly drain when investigating a haunted location.

Professional investigators arrive at the sites with fully charged devices and/or new batteries, so there is no logical reason for these unexpected battery depletions. It is hypothesized that this happens because entities are tapping into the battery energy to boost their ability to communicate.

11. Cold Spots

A sudden drop in temperature that has no cause is viewed as a sign of paranormal activity. These often happen in rooms or places during the time that paranormal activity may be taking place. The ambient temperature feels noticeably cooler in distinct areas even if there is no draft. Paranormal investigators theorize that spirits gather energy from their surroundings in order to manifest in some form, and this absorbing of energy leaves cooler air in its wake.

You may notice a cold spot in an area of your home just before or during paranormal activity. If you cannot attribute it to any natural cause, then it may be a sign of the paranormal event.

12. Physical Sensations

Physical sensations are often the only sign of paranormal activity. These are difficult to prove, much less document since they are a personal experience. You may feel as though you are being watched or feel a breeze brush past you, even though there's no explanation that such a breeze would happen, such as a draft.

There are other types of sensations that people report that include feeling light-headed or dizzy. Some people report a tingly sensation on their arms, neck, back, or top of head. Some people find it difficult to breathe during a potential paranormal occurrence.

13. Electromagnetic Field Spike

There are many types of electromagnetic fields, even humans have one known as an aura. There are reported electromagnetic field (EMF) spikes during a paranormal event. Paranormal investigators use EMF detectors to determine whether high EM fields may be contributing to the activity experienced. In some cases, EMF detectors may suddenly display a spike in electro-magnetic frequency for no discernible reason. Many investigators hypothesize this indicates a spirit has come near the detector in question.

High EMF can be generated from objects such as computers, plumbing, and wiring. These can cause explainable symptoms of paranormal activity such as headaches and even hallucinations. Electronic surges form cell phones searching for a cell tower, or the use of a walkie talkie can cause a spike in sensitive EMF detectors.

While many paranormal investigators believe EMF spikes may indicate paranormal activity, parapsychologists believe EMF detectors should be used to rule out natural causes of possible paranormal experiences, instead of the presence of a ghost or spirit.

14. Kids and Pets Reactions

If you believe you're experiencing a haunting, check to see how your pets or children are responding. A number of paranormal professionals believe that children and some pets are particularly sensitive to the presence of unseen spirits. Children often talk about interacting with spirits, but most adults discount such stories as imaginary friends and a child's overactive imagination.

Pets tend to respond more pronounced and in different ways than children. A pet may act fearful or anxious. Your pet may focus on a particular area of a room and appear to be watching something that you can't see. Your pet may even move its eyes and/or head as though tracking the movements of something.

angry black cat

15. Ectoplasm

Ectoplasm (ecto) is supposedly an ethereal manifestation into the physical and is a gel-like residue. Ecto is reportedly left in the wake of an apparition or some other type of paranormal activity. The existence of ectoplasm is a highly controversial topic.

Historically, the term was coined in 1894 during the Spiritualism Movement. The translucent, glowing substance was believed to be produced by a medium from interaction with a spirit instead of it being the byproduct of the spirit itself. The ectoplasm would supposedly flow out of the medium's mouth or nose. The spirit would then use the ectoplasm to cover their invisible ghostly body to manifest in the physical.

In the 1930s, many charlatans were outed when investigators discovered that ectoplasm as just another theatrical prop. Ectoplasm remains an unproven sign of paranormal activity. However, some people believe that ectoplasm is real, but is widely ignored or not recognized due to the way it was exploited for several decades.

16. Physical Attacks

Perhaps one of the most disturbing signs of paranormal activity is physical attacks by spirits/ghosts or demons. Some people claim to have suffered scratches, bites, being thrown out of bed, pushed down a staircase, locked out of their home, grabbed from behind, and in some rare instances physically violated by some unseen entity.

The Doris Bither case was one such instance that was first reported in 1974. The story was sensationalized in the fictional movie The Entity. Doris claimed some kind of evil entity or entities were attacking and raping her on a regular basis. Investigators were unable to prove her claims, although several photos revealed various orbs in her home.

If you have suffered some form of physical attack by an unseen entity, then you should seek help. Such attacks are often attributed to demons or other type of malevolent force or spirit.

17. Possessed Objects

A common occurrence that triggers suspicion of a haunting is some type of object manipulation. This may be something as harmless as a doll or other child's toy. It can also be a cherished possession that the owner, now in spirit form, remains attached to it.

Dolls seem to be a favorite choice for such possession. Most likely these objects are chosen for one of two reasons. It was a favored toy by a deceased child, or an evil entity enjoys twisting an innocent child's toy into something more nefarious.

People often complain of paranormal activity after they bought a piece of furniture, jewelry, or an art object at a garage or estate sale. Some mediums are able to assist in identifying the type of entity attached to the object. In most cases, it's best to remove the object from your home, since the spirit/entity will go with it.

18. Inexplicable Sadness

Sometimes the signs of paranormal activity are highly subtle. One sign that is very disturbing is a sudden feeling of sadness. This type of emotional response comes over you out of nowhere. You have no reason to feel sad, yet the feeling is very powerful and real. Taking on the emotions of others, even ghosts, is an unnerving event. If you're adept in mediumship, you can quickly discover who is contacting you and why.

If you are new to your abilities, then you should seek someone to assist you in determining who the entity is and why they are contacting you. It is always advisable to set up spiritual protections to guard against this type of spirit intrusion into your private space. It is especially important to guard against a deceptive or malevolent spirit tugging on your heart strings.

woman holding one hand on forehead

19. Unexplained Nausea

If you are in a space and suddenly feel ill, such as experiencing nausea, this could be a sign of paranormal activity. This may be especially true if others experience it, too. This is yet another personal anecdotal experience that is difficult to prove is related to paranormal activity.

You should leave the area immediately. If the symptoms abate as soon as you leave or shortly afterwards, then it could be a sign of a haunting.

Coping With Signs of Paranormal Activity

One instance of the 19 signs of paranormal activity doesn't necessarily mean you are experiencing a haunting. However, if the sign continues and you begin to experience other signs, then you should document each one and contact a professional paranormal investigator or a psychic medium to assist you.

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19 Signs of Paranormal Activity: Are You Experiencing a Haunting?