Homes that were the scene of murders, suicides, or other such tragedies are often reported to be haunted. The house in Amityville, Long Island where Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family is perhaps the most famous, but there are many others. The Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts; the Winchester Mystery House in San Francisco; and Alcatraz prison just to name a few.
Why do ghosts attach themselves to these places? It probably has something to do with energy. We are made up of energy, and our energy influences every person and every place we come into contact with. In a haunted house, the emotions of the people who lived there are embedded in the fabric of the house. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the energy, and the more likely to produce paranormal activity. But let’s take this one step further. A house is an object. It’s a very BIG object, but it’s really just an object. If the object we call a house can be haunted by being influenced by the energy of the people who lived and died there, then any object can be haunted.
There is often a bond between the haunted object and the owner. In fact, people often feel compelled to purchase an object because they feel that it is somehow calling to them. I had this experience when I saw a Tau Tau doll in an antique shop. I really felt as if it was calling to me, and I almost bought it in spite of the high price tag attached to its toe. But I didn’t. The fact that I was so obsessed with buying it made me think twice. And it probably was good that I didn’t buy it. What is a Tau Tau doll you ask? It’s a wooden effigy of a dead person, and is used to guard their tomb.
In 2011, demonologist John Zaffis premiered a unique paranormal show called “Haunted Collector”. In the series, John and his family investigate reports of paranormal activity. At the end of each episode, John removes a haunted item from the location and stores it in his ‘Haunted Relics Museum’ located at his home in Stratford, Connecticut. He places the object on a pedestal, surrounds it with a circle of salt for protection, and covers it with a glass dome. Zaffis claims that the majority of paranormal activity ceases once the haunted object is removed from the home.
I have to admit that I was a huge skeptic of haunted objects, and of the “Haunted Collector”. Why? Well, at the time I didn’t understand the idea behind haunted objects. Also, it seemed too simplistic. I’ve investigated and researched hundreds of haunted locations, and all of them seem to be either inhabited by departed spirits or infused with residual energy of the people who used to live there. How can one object cause so much havoc in a home? Well, the truth is, everything changed when I unknowingly purchased a haunted object from a thrift store; an antique and very haunted bed frame. I purchased the bed as a surprise for my daughter. Unfortunately, the surprise was on me!
The bed frame leaned up against the wall of the thrift shop, looking neglected and abandoned. I spied the headboard peeking out from beneath a tattered quilt that had been thrown over it. I moved the quilt and found that the bed was ornately carved and in perfect condition. It was obviously antique, but not being anything close to an expert on antiques I could only guess that it was at least 80 years old. I searched around behind the headboard and found the two side boards. They were in decent shape; in need of some cleaning, but nothing a little furniture polish wouldn’t take care of. After searching for a few minutes the saleslady helped me locate the footboard. It too was ornately carved and in excellent condition. There was a price tag on the footboard - $50. Fifty dollars for this beautiful bed-frame? What a steal! Without even considering how I would fit it in my car I, I paid for the bed and left feeling as if I had just won the lottery. Little did I know that the bed I had just purchased came with strings attached - it was haunted.
My daughter was at college and I decided to paint her bedroom and install new hardwood floors. Her old bed was falling apart and was of the ‘little girl’ variety that she had grown out of years earlier. The bed frame I had purchased at the thrift shop would look beautiful once the room was finished. After a few weeks work the room was painted, the floors installed and the antique bed frame assembled. The room was perfect. Or, at least it looked perfect. That first day when I stepped back to look at the finished room something seemed … off. I couldn’t put my finger on it. At first I thought that the bed needed to be placed against a different wall and the dresser moved to a different location, but after trying various configurations I went back to the original setup. The new hardwood floors looked great, the color on the walls was rich and soothing, the new rug provided a splash of color - but something was wrong. I shrugged off the feeling and took some photos to send my daughter at college. I texted her the shots. She loved the look of the room, especially the ‘new’ bed. She had a break coming up in a few weeks and couldn’t wait to come home to see it in person.
The night after installing the bed I had one of my typical bouts of insomnia. Rather than keep my wife up with my tossing and turning I decided to try to get some sleep in my daughter’s newly furnished room. I went down the hall to the newly renovated bedroom and climbed into the antique bed. It was very comfortable, but after a short time I noticed that something just didn’t feel right. As crazy as it may sound, I had a strong feeling that someone was standing right next to the bed staring at me. I turned over to look, but of course there was no one there. I turned onto my other side but the feeling persisted, this time as if the ‘person’ had moved to the other side of the bed. After trying to shake off this feeling I turned the light on and read for a while until I was good and tired, then finally fell asleep. I slept for just about an hour, but my sleep was plagued with horrible nightmares. My dreams were filled with strange images, people I had never seen before, and a feeling of sickening fear. I woke up with a start, thankful that the night was finally over.
I didn’t mention my disturbing night to my wife, but when I got home from work I found that the room was having an effect on her as well. Earlier that day she had folded some of my daughter’s clothes and had put them in her dresser. As she was in the room putting the clothes away, she started feeling very uncomfortable. She too felt as if she was being watched, and as much as she tried to ignore this feeling she just wanted to get out of the room and quickly left. She thought this was strange because the room looked so nice now, and she had never felt this way before about any room in our house. As the weeks went on, the feeling of being watched intensified and she avoided going into the bedroom. After a while, she stopped putting clothes away in my daughter’s dresser. She just left the laundry basket with folded clothes on the floor and made a hasty retreat.
I attempted to sleep in the room a few more times, but the feeling of being watched was overwhelming and the nightmares were becoming more and more disturbing. I found myself dreaming of strange people, being unable to find my way out of a house I have never seen before, and being taunted by groups of people without faces. During the day, it got to the point where just passing the room gave both of us the creeps and we took to keeping the bedroom door closed.
Now, you would think that a ghost hunter would immediately come to the conclusion that the bed was haunted, but it actually took me a while to put two and two together. The biggest problem? I never believed in haunted objects before! I remember watching John Zaffis’ show “The Haunted Collector” and, as much as I loved the show I found myself laughing at the simplicity of tracing a haunting to an object, removing it, and solving the problem. But here I was faced with the same problem. I had purchased a haunted bed and needed to do something about it. My daughter was due home any day, and I didn’t want to subject her to any of the bizarre nightmares and creepy feelings my wife and I were experiencing. However, it was too late to get a new bed so I thought I’d just wait and see how things went once she got home.
My daughter came home from college for the weekend and was delighted at seeing her new room. I didn’t tell her about the problems we were having with the bed. It might sound cruel, but I didn’t want to scare her and was interested in seeing if she had any feeling about it. As it turned out, she didn’t! Her sleep was undisturbed, she loved the bed, and she didn’t complain about the room feeling any different than before. Some might say that this proves that the bed was not haunted to begin with. Not so fast! Even in the most active haunted houses, some spirits resonate with certain family members and others are often not disturbed at all. The bed was obviously having an effect on my wife and me, but not my daughter.
After my daughter went back to college I decided to conduct an investigation on the bed the same way I would with any other haunted location. I set up my digital recorder, took photos, and tried to connect with the spirit who had attached itself to the bed. I had a strong impression of an old woman, laying in bed sick and unable to take care of herself. The phrase, “I fell down the stairs” repeated over and over in my head. In listening back to the digital recorder, I was surprised to hear a male voice saying, “Don’t drink”. I was sure that the spirit was that of an older woman. It’s possible that the voice had nothing to do with the bed. A close family friend had died in an alcohol related accident just a few days earlier, so I think it was him ‘leaving me a message.’
Satisfied that the bed was indeed haunted, I did a clearing using sage, holy water, sea salt, religious objects and prayer. Although it took over a month, I finally cleared the bed of the spirit. The room feels fine now, and I have spent spent many nights sleeping in the bed without being bothered by nightmares. Another satisfied customer!
The Haunted Organ
One of the first paranormal investigations I ever worked on involved a haunted object. It was an antique pump organ, and Kathy O’Donnel, Karen Darby and I were asked to investigate a series of bizarre incidents that occurred after the instrument was brought into the home.
When we arrived, the homeowner, John Kirtz, told us that the activity started when he bought the organ from a client. Kirtz was an electrician, and he saw the organ in a home that he was doing work at. It was a beautiful old pump organ, the type with two foot pedals used to inflate the bellows that produce the sound. The wood was ornately carved, and there were two mirrors on either side of the music stand. Kirtz was an amateure musician and he expressed an interest in buying the organ. The homeowner told him that he would gladly sell it to him, but there was one thing he needed to know about it. The organ was haunted. Kirtz said that he didn’t believe in such things, and he was thrilled when the owner agreed to sell it to him. But as soon as he took it home, all hell broke loose.
The family started to hear strange sounds coming from the room. It sounded as if someone was in the room moving things around, but when they investigated nothing was disturbed. They also began to hear organ music, even though the organ couldn’t make a sound unless someone were working the foot pedals. After that, various members of the family began having nightmares about the organ, specifically about the mirrors. In their dream they would see people in the mirrors dressed in old fashioned clothing. John actually removed the mirrors from the organ because he thought that they might be causing the dreams.
John’s office was in his basement, right below the living room. John and his wife often took care of their grandchildren, and there were a lot of toys in the living room. Often when John was alone in the house working in his office, he would hear the children’s toys rolling around on the floor. He could make out the sound of toy cars and trucks being pushed, and other toys being moved around.
Then things REALLY started getting strange. One day, John’s teenage son Zach was on his way upstairs to his room and he saw his mother standing at the top of the stairs. She was blocking his way, and she was just looking at him. Zach said, “Hey mom. What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me like that? Mom? Mom?” But his mother just stood there staring at him as if she were in a trance. Suddenly, Zach heard his mother call him from downstairs and he turned his head in amazement as his mother rounded the corner and looked up at him from the bottom of the stairs. “Zach. Who are you talking to up there?” she said. Zach turned around and the woman at the top of the stairs that he thought was his mother was gone.
One day, a group of the teenage kids were in the living room watching television. They heard footsteps and looked up to see someone walking down the stairs. The staircase was situated in such a way that you would first see the person’s feet and legs coming down the stairs, and once they were past a certain point you would see their chest, shoulders, and finally their head. They all looked up to see who it was, but as the person got to the point where the kids would be able to see their face, the kids all started screaming and running out of the room. The person on the stairs had no head. The kids ran out of the living room to the house next door which was owned by their cousin, and they called the police. Do you think that was bad? The most horrifying was yet to come.
It’s important to tell you that when we arrived at the house, every single wall had a crucifix on it. There were several crucifixes hanging on the wall going up the stairs where the headless man and the doppelganger woman had been seen. Every bedroom door had a crucifix on it, and every bedroom had a crucifix hanging on the wall. The family felt that this would be protection from the activity that they have been experiencing.
One night, John tucked his 8 year old son to bed and talked with him for a while. The boy told him that he was afraid at night, and John said, “Whenever you’re afraid, look up at the crucifix and pray to Jesus. That will help you to not be afraid.” That night, the family was awakened by the little boy screaming in terror. John ran into the room and turned on the light. His son was sitting up in bed with his back to the wall, staring at the wall across from him. When John finally got the boy to calm down, he asked him what had happened. The boy told him that he woke up in the middle of the night and he began to feel afraid. He looked at the crucifix that was hanging on the wall across from his bed and began to pray the way his father had taught him to. The boy said that as he prayed, the figure of Jesus that was hanging on the crucifix lifted up his head and turned it, and looked directly at the boy. John told him that he must have been dreaming -- that such a thing could never happen. Then he looked at the crucifix and was totally shocked by what he saw. One of Jesus’ arms was broken at the shoulder and was hanging down from the nail on the cross. John said that he had just bought the crucifix that week, and it was brand new and in perfect condition. It was also hanging much too far off of the ground for his young son to have reached.
John decided to get rid of the organ. He called a local music store and asked them if they wanted it. They said yes, and John told them that it was haunted. Of course, they didn’t believe in such things and gladly took it off of his hands. Soon after, the owners called John and said that as soon as they put the organ in the store, all sorts of strange things started happening. They were so spooked by it that they got rid of it. They rented a storage unit and paid for one month, then stopped paying the rent on the space. When the company couldn’t get hold of them, they must have gotten rid of the organ. But whether they sold it, donated it to Goodwill, or threw it away, no one knows.
Ways that Objects Become Haunted
As I mentioned, any object can become imprinted with the energy of its owner, or from its surroundings. Although this energy is not intelligent and cannot communicate with us, it can cause problems. Depending on the severity of the emotions influencing them, objects with imprinted energy can make us feel sick, depressed, anxious, or even suicidal.
In their book, ‘Haunted by the Things You Love’, John Zaffis and Rosemary Ellen Guiley tell the story of a woman who purchased an amethyst ring at an estate sale. She fell in love with the ring and started wearing it every day. But she soon found that she felt extremely sad whenever she wore it, and that she began having ‘memories’ of a woman she didn’t know. She would see this woman in her mind’s eye as being elderly and dressed in period clothing. After a while, she felt as if this woman was actually taking over her thoughts. Her house took on an oppressive air, and she started having trouble sleeping at night. It was only after the ring was removed from her house that all of the activity and strange feelings stopped.
The energy stored in an object can mean trouble, but there is a silver lining. Objects can also be infused with love, joy, hope, and healing. Anyone who owns an object by a loved one knows that just having it in our presence often makes us feel better. Likewise, medallions blessed by priests are often worn as protection. They make us feel safe, and that we are guarded from evil influences.
Earthbound spirits can and do attach themselves to objects. It’s not so much that they ‘hitchhike’ a ride on statues, paintings, or jewelry. They are emotionally attached to things that they owned in life. If you happen to buy Aunt Matilda’s wedding band in an antique store, she may stay close to it and become a permanent guest in your home. And if Aunt Matilda doesn’t want you to have her wedding band, she may very well let you know by moving things, making strange sounds, or making your house feel … well, haunted.
Not all spirit attachments are filled with wrath. Some are lonely spirits who have never moved on. They are attached to the things they loved in life and just want to be close to them.
Curses or Hexes
Not to beat a dead horse here, but haunted objects are all about energy. Heightened emotions, tragedy, accidents, can all charge an object with that energy. Likewise, someone skilled in the dark art of hexes or curses can infuse an object with bad energy and bad intentions. But it doesn’t end there. Objects can be the hiding places of evil spirits conjured by those involved in Satanism or the dark forms of witchcraft. Objects used in satanic rituals often come with evil attachments, and sometimes a ritual is performed to summon a spirit and attach it to an object. These spirits are then used to cause harm to the person who possesses the object.
Often, people blame modern day witches when they hear of curses or hexes. Wicca, or pagan witchcraft, is actually a gentle pagan system of worshiping and respecting the spirits of nature. But there are bad people of all faiths, and a witch who has ‘gone to the other side’ can wreak havoc on a person’s life by putting a curse on an object. And it’s not just witches who hex objects. Now that you can teach yourself to do just about anything by going online, people are hexing objects by following online rituals - but they have no idea what they are getting themselves into. The Wiccan Threefold Law states “Ever mind the rule of three, what ye send out comes back to thee.” In other words, do good and you will receive good. Put an evil curse on an object, and you will be cursed yourself threefold.
A Few More Haunted Object Stories
The following stories come from the book, “Haunted by the Things You Love’. If you get a chance, pick up a copy. It’s an excellent book. I’m summarizing just two stories here, but the book goes into much more detail, and has many more stories.
Creepy Clown Dolls Take Over
Sarah collected clown dolls, and she was happy when she purchased the two limited edition clown dolls at a collectables shop. Both had yellow-sh green faces. One had an open mouth looking as if it was laughing, and the other was more serious looking, almost sad. As soon as Sarah brought the dolls into her home, the atmosphere of the house changed. The house used to feel warm and inviting, now it felt cold and unfriendly. Sarah started having terrible nightmares at night. The next thing she noticed was the lights that seemed to turn on by themselves. Next there were odd rustling sounds in the middle of the night, light tapping on the walls of her bedroom. Finally, and most creepy of all, the dolls started moving. Sarah would come into the room and find that the two dolls were in different places than she had left them. One morning, she found one doll on the floor tucked in the corner, and the other sitting on top of some of the other dolls in the room. Sarah called John Zaffis to investigate. After pinpointing the dolls as the problem, they were removed and the activity stopped. But that’s not the end of the story. Another woman, Rhonda, purchased the same limited edition clown dolls and had similar activity in her house, only worse. Her dolls were moving as well, but she was finding them in different rooms in her house. One day she came home and found one sitting in the bathroom sink. Another time, she opened her pantry door and found one of the doll’s on the shelf. She threw them away, but they somehow ended up back in her house. Zaffis came to the woman’s home and did a ritual cleansing on the dolls. He then planned on removing them from the home. But to his surprise, the woman didn’t want to give them up. The cleansing would give some protection for a while, but Zaffis knows that it won’t last.
The Haunted Violin
The first thing that Janet noticed was the cold. No matter how warm it was outside, or how high she turned up the thermostat, the bone-chilling cold just would not go away. The house had never felt like this before. It was always warm and cheerful. Now, Janet felt like she was living in an icebox.
Next were the broken things -- glasses, dishes, vases. Janet would come home from work and find things smashed on the floor, or looking as if they had been hurled against a wall with great force. The activity soon escalated to things breaking when Janet was at home. At the sound of breaking glass, Janet’s cat would leap to his feet and run from the room. Janet would dash to the location of the sound and find the pieces scattered on the floor.
Luckily, Janet’s collection of antique musical instruments had not been damaged. Over the years she had amassed quite a collection of instruments - flutes, clarinets, oboes, a dulcimer, and several violins. Her prized possession was an 18th century violin from Austria which sat in a glass shadow box that she had proudly hung on her living room wall. The violin had set her back quite a bit of money when she purchased it at an estate sale, but Janet thought it was well worth it.
One night, Janet woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of violin music playing. It was a classical piece that she recognized, the second movement from the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and it was coming from the living room. ‘I must have left the television on,’ Janet thought as she got out of bed. She made her way to the living room, listening to the music as she walked down the hall, but as soon as she stepping into the room the music stopped. The television was off, as was the radio. Janet shrugged it off as having been a dream and went back to bed.
As the months went by, the house continued to feel freezing cold. One night she heard footsteps walking down the hallway, and she fled the house. After this, the activity really began to ramp up. The same, mournful violin melody now played nightly, and the phantom footsteps were heard making their way down the hallway in the dead of night. One night Janet woke to the sound of the violin playing the same tune over and over again. She had had enough. She screamed, “Stop it! Stop it! Go away!” but the music played on. She got out of bed, and just as her feet hit the floor the music stopped. Janet walked nervously into the living room, being careful to not make a sound. Suddenly, the shadow box that contained the antique violin launched itself off of the wall at tremendous speed straight at her. It crashed against the floor, just missing her. The violin was broken in pieces inside of the box, but the box itself was totally undamaged. Even the fragile glass cover hadn’t broken even though it had hit the floor with incredible force.
Janet called John Zaffis who came to her house to investigate. He surmised that the violin had once been owned by someone who was obsessively possessive of it, and that his spirit was not happy to see it in Janet’s house. Zaffis took the broken violin to his ‘Haunted Relics Museum’ where it sits to this day under a glass dome, protected by a ring of blessed salt. All activity in Janet’s house totally ceased after the violin was removed.
Some Friendly Advice
Objects that are haunted are rare, but they are not unheard of. Here are a few tips to help you if you suspect an object is haunted, and to help prevent you from buying a haunted object in the first place.
Before buying something, pay attention to your reaction to it. If you walk into a store and see something you that you absolutely have to have, even though it is way out of your price range, and part of you doesn’t really even like the looks of it - run! Haunted objects call to us. They try to coax us into taking them home, but don’t listen. If you are ever in an antique shop or a thrift store and you feel compelled to buy something, take a deep breath. Hold the object in your hands for a while and see how it makes you feel. See if any images come into your mind. If you feel even remotely uneasy or sad holding the object, put it down and walk away.
If you already purchased an item and suspect it might be haunted, ask other people if they have experienced anything unusual around it without telling them your experience. You are looking for confirmation. If everyone tells you that they feel creeped out every time they walk past the painting you just bought at the yard sale, there’s a good chance that the painting came with an attachment.
If you notice unusual activity after bringing something new into the house, remove it from the home and see how things feel. You don’t have to throw it away, just put it somewhere away from the house. This can be outdoors, in a shed, in the woods - anywhere far away from the house. If things feel better without it, then consider getting rid of the item.
You can clear objects that you buy by smudging the with sage, or spraying them with salt water. You can also bless them with holy water, or say prayers over them asking angels, saints and spirit guides to rid the object of any negative energy that may be present. It is a good idea to do this with any used object you buy. Assume that the energy of everyone who came into contact with the object is stored in it, just waiting to come out. Your job is to neutralize the energy before it can do any harm.
If nothing works, either get help or dispose of the object. I don’t suggest you sell it to someone, or donate it. You are just passing the problem on to someone else. In drastic cases, the item should either be buried, burned, or weighed down and thrown into swiftly running water, such as a large brook or river.
In closing, I think you’ve heard enough stories and had enough warnings to make you think twice before rushing into buying something at a thrift store or garage sale. So I leave you with this poem about the things we collect over time, and then forget about.
That book, that block, that ticking clock
that marks the minutes in the dark
That velvet chair, that dancing bear you had to have,
That dusty pair of porcelain children’s faces
from a close and crowded, musty shop
They’re with you now,
they watch, they wait
They wait, they watch,
that book that block,
That ticking clock
That marks the minutes
in the dark