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Haunting 101: What you need to know

Not every abandoned building is haunted and not every haunted building is abandoned. Singapore being a small country with more built up areas than not, it stands to reason that our haunting per square foot is higher than other, larger nation.  

But in an overworked society, sometimes a haunting can be mistaken as hallucination from a tired mind and summarily dismissed. Yet, some hauntings are akin to an infestation; the longer you choose to ignore it, the deeper it burrows into your home and preys on your family. How then to even suspect that your house may be the victim of a haunting? Here are five things that might tip you off:

1. Missing stuff

Misplacing your items is a common occurrence but if it happens too often, then either you’re losing your memory or there’s someone (something) in your home playing you like a fool. Called the Disappearing Object Phenomenon (DOP), it’s the experience of being unable to locate regularly used things. You would search thoroughly, especially in obvious places, only for the item to turn up a few hours, days or weeks in that same spot as if someone had borrowed it.

2. Being watched

Even when busy, you’ll know when you’re being watched. It’s our subconscious mind; our caveman instincts that work to protect us from danger that gives us this extra sensory perception. But when you’re home alone and your spider senses are constantly going off like there’s an invisible watcher spying on you, then maybe you have a ghost problem. There are stories of people who wake from a deep sleep only to see a dark shadow dart off or disappear from the corner of their eye. If this has happened to you more than once, it’s time to take some steps to confirm your suspicions.

3. Things move

One of the classic tell-tale signs of a haunting are furniture and items being moved and lights turning on or off. Most of the times, you won’t be around or in the room to see it happen; what you will see is the aftereffect, such as a chair out of its place, or a light having been turned on when you know you’ve switched it off. Sometimes, you’ll find that the main door was unlatched even though you’re positive you’ve secured it the night before. And there’s just something about everyday items being moved by a spirit – the feeling it gives you is different compared to if a human had left the light on or rearranged furniture. It’s this sensation of wrongness that is worth paying attention to.

4. Strange sounds & cold spots

In the middle of the night, you hear scratching on your wall. Weird, dragging noises rake across your living room floor. While asleep, you swear someone’s whispering; soft voices jut out of earshot but are in the room with you. If you live in a HDB flat, it is likely sounds from other units or the corridors travel but you can usually determine their source. For cold spots, it is easier to identify since cool weather is more unusual in Singapore than ghosts. The entire house is usually one temperature so if a specific area is unnaturally colder than the rest of the house, then it’s typically a sign of a spirit. If the whole house is air-conditioned, then a significantly colder area or sometimes, even a hot spot can be testament to existence of a ghost.

5. Animal behaviour

Animals have more potent psychic abilities than humans and it is generally accepted that they can see and hear ghosts when we cannot. If your dog or cat begin to act strangely, such as refusing to enter a room or a particular area – barking at a corner or staring at empty spaces as if something is moving there, then you may have an issue. Sometimes, it’s innocuous, like a passer-by spirit but if it happens in conjunction with the other strange occurrences listed here, then it’s likely you’re being haunted.

What lies beneath the stagnant water?

What lies beneath the stagnant water?

If you’ve experienced at least two of the above things, don’t cry for help just yet. There are small steps you can take to determine if your house is in fact being infected by a paranormal entity. As a bonus, these steps are included here:

1. Install cameras

We don’t endorse surveillance but you can still install cameras and have them function when no one’s at home or when you’re asleep, to be your eyes. Night vision cameras on a tripod with a wide view of the living room can also be used. Your priority here is to document any foreign occurrences when you’re asleep or away to determine if there is indeed, something strange going on.

2. Leave a few recorders

Sometimes the camera’s microphone isn’t strong enough to pick up sounds. Sometimes, ambient noises contaminate the video. To combat this, place a few recorders in areas you believe to be active. If you see shadows and hear voices in your bedroom, then place a recorder by your night table to run while you sleep. You can send it to a paranormal expert who has the relevant audio tech to investigate if there are overlapping sounds of a paranormal nature.

3. Powder

If you suspect your furniture of moving on its own accord, or of doors opening, pour a generous amount of powder around the static furniture or at the foot of the door or even in areas where you’ve heard walking (it could be in the middle of the hall), just before you sleep. In the morning check to see if the powder has been disturbed or if there are footprints. If it’s a yes to both, then you’re either sleep walking or there’s something unwanted in your house. The cameras and recorders should help back up your evidence.

A decrepit hallway

A decrepit hallway

So, after all this, you’ve identified the symptoms of a haunted house and determined that your expensive property under MOP (Minimum Occupation Period) is indeed bedevilled by a mischievous spirit. You’re stuck there with no clue on how to move forward. It is a frustrating and mentally draining event and so in the interest of closure, here are some ideas on how to resolve your paranormal issues.

1. Professional help

Paranormal investigators aren’t as prevalent or popular in Singapore as they are in the USA but a few strong groups do exist with the mandate to document and help victims of a haunting. These groups do not accept payment (it is an unspoken rule), instead opt for the permission to log and video the occurrences in the house. Their verdict will matter to you in the end. You will want to know if the spirit is malevolent or benevolent and from there, how to proceed.

2. Use your voice

Sometimes, taking matters into your own hands work. Put your foot down and with authority, demand that the spirit leave you and yours alone. If the haunting stop, then congratulations. If they continue or exacerbate, look for professional help. (Do this at your risk however)

3. Spirit mediums/priests

Seeking out a priest or the equivalent of one from your religion may be useful. A medium may also help but be careful to sift out the genuine ones from the charlatans. The purpose of this endeavour is to drive out the unwanted contaminant, not have it burrow deeper than a hungry tick. And nothing worsens a situation than a wannabe with no clue as to what they’re doing.

Would you spend the night for SGD1M? Yes? No WiFi though...

Would you spend the night for SGD1M? Yes? No WiFi though…

Stories of hauntings in Singapore may find life in the forums and the more macabre places of the internet but it does not mean they do not happen. Occasionally, the media will jump at such a story if it is interesting enough but these taboo subjects are typically kept separate from the squeaky clean image the authorities wish for Singapore.

But dark things do happen here, and if you’re a victim of a haunting, you don’t need to feel alone. There are avenues for help which you will need to search for, but they are there. For better or worse, you are not alone.

Senior Content Specialist, Christopher Chitty wrote this story.