What is a haunting?
A haunting is a kind of "recording" of a past event of an environment, such as a home, building or a battlefield. The recordings play back, over and over in a loop of sort - always the same, like a film or video. It is though that the presence of certain people can trigger these recordings to play back. They are not ghosts capable of interacting with the living. It is not known how these recordings are made, but they are often associated with a traumatic or strong emotional event.
One thing on which everyone can agree is that hauntings are tied to a particular location (though it could be mobile in the case of a haunted car or plane, for instance). Beyond that, opinions start to differ widely. Exactly what IT is, that is tied to a location, is a matter of debate.
Common dictionary definitions are as follows:
•a haunted place is somewhere inhabited by apparitions or ghosts
•a ghost (or apparition) is a 'spirit'
These definitions reflect cultural traditions. We are all immersed in our culture and naturally pick up these ideas whether we are aware of it or not. This is discussed elsewhere. The important point is that dictionaries, in common with most people, see a haunting as the presence of a 'spirit' at a particular location. The media, both in fictional accounts and in (supposedly) factual output tend to reinforce this impression.
Reports of hauntings usually include the following:
•odd sounds: footsteps, bangs, scratching, moans, screams, music, whispering
•odd sights: flashes of light, shadows, floating lights, things seen in the 'corner' of the eye
•odd smells: often unpleasant, sometimes sweet
•odd feelings: headaches, static build-up, cold areas, touches by unseen things
•object movement: doors, taps and light switches found open/on, objects lost and sometimes recovered, objects falling (eg. pictures, ornaments)
•pet reaction to 'unseen' things.
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