For Ghosts, Halloween is Just a Nightmare

For ghosts, Halloween isn’t just a bad dream, it’s a nightmare

Americans seem to be obsessed with ghosts and hauntings, especially this time of the year. We talk about them. We write about them. We chase them with meters and equipment, probing and prodding, searching all of their safe hiding places until we find them. Then when we finally do find one, we scream. Whoever thought up the idea of Halloween was obviously not a ghost.

For the dead, the month of October must signify an unwanted awareness by the living…that the dead may be lurking around us

Those feelings build to a pitch as we approach Halloween. The dead are just not safe in October―and they know it. The living simply don’t understand the dead’s motives. When it comes to a haunting, we take it very personally, even when it has nothing to do with us. While many of us look forward to October and Halloween, it must give ghosts nightmares. Those who are into the paranormal, or those of us who were born with a natural gift to sense spirits, just can;t help ourselves this time of year—and the ghosts know it.

Craig, his Mom, his dog Lady, and some interesting light artifacts, on the back steps of his home when he was young.

As a Medium, I sense energies that are attached to places and that may have once been people. If you have some natural intuitive or psychic ability, you may also be drawn to those energies

I have had the ability to do this since I was young and (apologies to the ghosts) I have been chasing ghosts and exploring potentially haunted houses since I was a little kid. It’s the natural ability that causes the pull. Very much like someone who has a natural singing voice being compelled to sing a song when a tune comes on the radio.People with ability are just drawn to haunted places.

I recently found an old picture from my youth (right) where I am sitting on my back steps with my mom and my dog Lady that shows some hovering lights above my head. The area was pretty shaded then, so I am not sure what these “artifacts” could be. In my early years, I had no idea that I had a gift for such things. The ability ran down both sides of my family, but like many families that have the “psychic gene,” mine never talked about it.

As a full-time medium, my job is to bring through messages from spirits of friends and family for my clients. The gift of mediumship also allows me to sense the souls of the dead who are, for some reason, earthbound. Spirits are sensed by mediums in two basic forms, the first being the souls of loved ones who have crossed over to Heaven and have returned to guide and help the living, and the second, the souls of people who have never left. They have some unfinished business which keeps them tethered somewhere between Heaven and Earth. We call these souls “ghosts.”

Ghosts are often misunderstood by the living

Television and movies lend a hand in helping to distort our perception of these unseen souls. When I appeared on an episode of Haunted Towns, I worked with the producer and cast to give them a medium’s point of view of why ghosts haunt. Many reality TV shows portray ghosts as things to be hunted down. I don’t think any soul appreciates being the prey of the living.

Craig with Steve “Doogie” McDougal and Chris Mills at the Physick Estate filming an episode of Destination America’s Haunted Towns. PHOTO CREDIT: Destination America.

Most ghosts are not out to “haunt”

They have chosen to remain where they are out of devotion to some unfinished task, material attachment, or emotional tie to the living. If we happen to get in their way, we may cause a disturbance in their existence. Some ghosts simply move in another direction to get away, while other, more strong-willed ghosts may push back. The former is much more common than the latter.

Our existence and a ghost’s existence can be much more entwined than we think—and we may never even realize it. The living and the dead move within the same space, but seldom collide. When I work as a Medium, I have to move my consciousness into the ghost realm, the plane where ghosts exist, in order to try to read their thoughts.

Rarely seen, but often felt, ghosts realize encounters with the living are inevitable

They were once alive themselves. The ghosts who are cognizant that they have died and remained here (some do not realize the fact they are dead) know their ghostly world is constantly playing bumper cars with the living. It is show usually the living who are taken by surprise by ghosts. On some TV shows, paranormal investigators interview “victims” of a haunting to gather first hand accounts of strange encounters at a certain location. If you watch carefully enough, you will realize that most of these encounters are nothing more than chance meetings between the living and the dead.

The door leading to the mysterious secret room in the Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey

I am often called in to investigate a haunting. If the story is good enough, I may even add the experience to one of my books. Many of my investigations end with a big―yawn. Just another “garden variety” haunting. Someone hears “phantom footsteps” in their home and feels the ghost is trying stalk him or her. People never think that a ghost may just be walking around their former home. Another common report from the living is feeling a cold spot and taking it as a sign of a paranormal attack.

A ghost’s field of energy is thought to interact with our own field of energy and create a feeling of coldness

Sometimes this is coupled with some action of a ghost investigator, and that can truly set the adrenaline flowing. There is a secret room at the Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey with a very small doorway to access the space. When I have opened this doorway, cold air usually doesn’t rush out, but after a few minutes, the room outside the secret room starts to drop in temperature. Airflow… or ghost flow?

We think cold spots are some simple, natural interaction that we do not understand, not a ghost blowing its icy breath down our necks. Unfortunately, most people feel its all about them, and every paranormal encounter is a personal affront. Those folks need to take a reality check, or at least come to a better understanding of why ghosts haunt.

I sometimes get the feeling in Cape May that my picture is on some unseen “Watch Out for this Guy” poster in haunted buildings all over town. On more than one audio recording, EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) have appeared on my tapes with various voices saying, “He’s the one!” I seem to be equally well known in Cape May by the living and the dead. I have been to many locations in Cape May where I have sensed a ghost, and within minutes, the energy is gone. Some ghosts just don’t want to be bothered. They don’t throw furniture at me or push me out the door. They just leave.

The hallway in the Chalfonte Hotel where EVPs were both plentiful and colorful

They see us coming

While researching the Chalfonte Hotel for my last book, I came across a ghost in the old hotel that was obviously not a fan. Walking through the corridors of the venerable 1876 landmark on a cold February afternoon, a ghost voice appears on the tape saying someone is, “mad as hell.” Next, a man’s ghostly voice yells from the other end of the hall, “McManus, F**k YOU!” Luckily in cases like this, EVPs or ghost voices caught on tape are only audible on playback, and I was back home when I caught the ghostly outburst. Something did not appreciate my psychic probing into what was probably its winter vacation spot.

I try not to get offended when I piss off a ghost during an investigation and they give me a verbal lashing via EVP. I am there as a psychic reported, to write a story. Some ghosts seem to be OK with the publicity and their stories being told, others want privacy, and they may create a disturbance either audible or physically to send that message. However, too many people seem to take ghostly manifestations like this very personally. Don’t get me wrong, there are strong personal encounters between the living and the dead, and I am not knocking anyone for becoming frightened in certain situations, but not every haunting is a personal affront.

Ghosts sometimes try to communicate with the living while we sleep

If ghosts do choose to communicate with the living, they usually do it when we least except it, while we are asleep…

Most of these visitations seem like dreams. When we dream, there is a suspension of disbelief and the lack of realization that we are speaking to a dead person vs. a living one. Ghosts and even spirits of loved ones from Heaven communicate with us in our dreams. It is just easier than trying to do it face-to-face in the light of day. It could also be the only way they can communicate. Psychic communication is mind-to-mind, not face-to-face. Ghosts don’t have the physical bodied to create audible sounds, therefore to communicate they think what they need to say. Those with natural intuitive ability can be unwilling receivers to ghostly transmissions. I want to emphasis once again, that most ghosts are not trying to frighten a person during a communication. They are trying to have a normal conversation. They just happen to be dead, and that can be a problem for the easily frightened.

Cape May’s original haunted house, the Emlen Physick Estate

Even the well-to-do dead are haunted by the living

At the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May, I do a séance event each October. About twenty-five people get to join me at the old mansion and follow me room to room and hear my psychic impressions. During the event I also try to help those with intuitive abilities explore their own gifts. I find a few people on each tour are true receivers, but don;t know how to tune in the stations to understand the messages more clearly. The Séance at the Physick Estate finishes with a gathering in the parlor, where I attempt to communicate with these energies. Some years, the house has been extremely active with noises and ghostly sounds, other years it is quiet as a graveyard. Just because it is the week before Halloween does not mean the ghosts want to come out and play. One could have just as strong an experience in that old house in April or July as in October. Ghosts do not only haunt during Halloween season. They exist, and can be active, all year around. It’s the living that seem to love to go hunting for ghosts exclusively in October.

The library at the Emlen Physick Estate

One year’s Seance at the Physick Estate brought out one of the dead ladies of the house, most likely Aunt Emilie, who treated us with several audible sighs. I just hope she was tired and not bored with us. What is exciting to us during a ghost investigation must seem dreadfully painful to the ghosts. After the most recent Physick Estate event, Rosalie from MAC, Willy and I were closing up the house. Everyone else was gone and we were talking in the dining room when there came a very loud SLAM of a door upstairs. It really startled us as the house was quite that night. Someone there wanted to go to bed or was tired of all the ghost chasers in the old mansion!

A classic haunted houseGhosts and Halloween will probably be forever linked

However, the truth is most ghostly encounters around Halloween are simply creations of over-active imaginations. Just because a house looks haunted, doesn’t mean it is. We not only expect to see ghosts in October, many crave it.

For fans of the paranormal, Halloween without ghosts would be like Thanksgiving without turkey. Luckily, places like Cape May have plenty of ghosts to spare, and your chances of having an encounter at America’s oldest seaside resort are quite good. If you really want to experience something paranormal, try Cape May in the off season. They call it the dead of winter for a reason.

Remember, many ghosts were once people too

They follow old footsteps and stick to old habits. Personalities never die. When the body finally gives up, it gives up the ghost. Who we are survives death. Each ghost retains its personality from life. There are happy ghosts and there are unhappy ghosts. There are even pet ghosts.

Should you be lucky enough to have a paranormal experience of your own, try to remember two things: Ghosts are really not trying to haunt; they are clinging to some part of their previous existence. You just happen to be in their way. Second, it’s not always about you (or me). Most hauntings have nothing to do with the people experiencing them. As human beings, we seem to make an art out of taking everything personally, even ghosts. Maybe we just watch too much reality TV.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!




©2022 Craig McManus/ChannelCraig, Inc