The Eight Stages of a Poltergeist Haunting

Poltergeist – Therese Selles. 1911

The eight stages of a poltergeist haunting has been taken from Rupert Mathews’ book Poltergeists. For anyone interested, Mathews’ book is well researched and a great read. He covers the many different characteristics of what we would now consider to be the classic poltergeist haunting. Mathews does not necessarily subscribe to the common poltergeist theories of ghosts or psychokinesis, but instead offers many other possible explanations such as fraud or misidentification. Within the book, Mathews covers historic and modern cases, investigations and scientific experiments, as well as famous early mediums and fraudsters. Mathews concludes there are generally eight stages to an “idealized poltergeist visitation” or haunting where fraud has not been detected:

Stage One: Beginnings

The activity usually begins with faintly registered sounds. This is usually a scratching noise, which may be disregarded as being made by rodents or to be the sounds of water pipes. These noises are usually only heard at night.

Stage Two: Noises

These sounds will then become harder to ignore. These noises resemble knuckles knocking on wood or other objects such as glass. Sometimes, very loud cracking or unexplained banging noises are heard but this is less likely. Objects can sometimes be felt to vibrate. At this stage the activity may also be heard during daylight hours.

Stage Three: Moving Objects

Mathews does state that sometimes Stage Three begins at the same time as Stage Two. Objects may be moved inexplicably. Stone throwing, or lithobolia, is very common. Objects may disappear and reappear. This activity usually focuses around a certain type of object such as a specific ornament or keys. It’s rare to actually see the item be moved. Items may be hot to the touch immediately thereafter.

Stage Four: Apports and Disapports

When an object appears from out of nowhere it’s called an apport. When an object disappears “into oblivion” it is called a disapport. These types of activities are extremely rare but have been reported.

Stage Five: Communication

In some cases communication is established through a code of knocks. This may be two knocks indicating a “yes” and one knock indicating a “no” or some other established pattern. Sometimes speech is achieved. In almost all of these cases there seems to be a gradual process which starts with whistles, slurps, growls and so on. At first, mutterings or distant voices will be heard. Next, the voice will be said to sound robotic. Finally, witnesses will claim regular speech is achieved. The poltergeist will then be able to speak as a normal person and will begin to make statements. Claims by the poltergeist about their identity are usually grande. They may claim to have been a murderer, a victim, a suicide, or even a famous person. When claims are checked out they will usually be determined to be false. According to Mathews, it is rare for a poltergeist to have knowledge of events outside of what is widely known within the community. Mathews does not mention this, but it is interesting that many claimed spirit-contacts through a Ouija board also share these same characteristics of deceit[i].

Stage Six: Climax

The poltergeist activity will suddenly increase to a point it had never reached before. This may last several hours or several days. If the poltergeist can talk it may state that it’s going to be leaving soon. Unlike previous claims, however, this will generally turn out to be true.

Stage Seven: Decline

According to Mathews, “the decline is almost always much shorter than the build-up.” The poltergeist will lose its abilities in reverse and gradually become weaker.

Stage Eight: Endings

The activity may slowly skip to an end. Sometimes, this poltergeist activity will reach a dramatic conclusion. In many cases, exorcisms or blessings may prematurely kill the activity. Sometimes, the focus person leaving the premise may cause the activity to cease.

Other Features

The “idealized” poltergeist haunting will usually have a focus person. According to Mathews, this focus person is usually a teenage female but may be of any age or gender. Some investigators believe that this poltergeist activity will center around one person but this is not always the case. Mathews also states that, “it is often said that focus people are usually in a stressful situation of some kind.” Examples given within the book are a divorce and an attempted rape.

Also of note, poltergeists sometimes manifest physically. This apparition may be smoky or misty. Sometimes it will take on a human form. Sometimes the apparition may appear very strange such as in an animal or part animal form. Wet spots may also manifest which smell like urine. Sometimes this manifestation can be seen as it is occurring and seems to come out of nowhere.

Witnesses will sometimes claim to have been harmed by the poltergeist entity. Scratches and bite marks are often reported to have appeared on the person’s skin without explanation. In some cases, animals will perish. Fires will sometimes start in the home inexplicably. In the Bell Witch case the poltergeist claimed to have killed Jack Bell. In one case – which is not in Mathews book – a woman named Doris Bither claimed to have been raped by a poltergeist. Witnesses later supported her claim. The Bithers’ poltergeist account and investigation was made into the 1981 movie ‘the Entity’ starring Barbara Hershey. For the full interview of Doris Bither’s surviving son please go to: ghost theory

It’s important to note that the poltergeist distinction is not as clear as many imagine. The characteristics of these hauntings often share many similarities with conventional hauntings. The word poltergeist basically means “noisy ghost” but has come to represent a specific idealized type of haunting. Many individuals separate poltergeists from traditional ghosts because they believe that the spirits of the deceased causes other types of hauntings. Poltergeist cases do not seem to support those theories and thus need to be separated into a class of their own.

Poltergeist Haunting



[i] For more on the apparent deceptive nature of spirits consider reading Hungry Ghosts by Joe Fisher 1991, which is a very interesting study.

About Shanon Sinn

The Spirit of Vancouver Island. Nature Beings, Shapeshifters, Ghosts & Ancestor Spirits. The Earth is Sacred.
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14 Responses to The Eight Stages of a Poltergeist Haunting

  1. Loft door opend the smell of perfume then a lil ball got placed on my partners side of bed he moved it on the floor as i closed my eyes its come off the floor hot my head not hard but slightly hit side of my head

    • Shanon Sinn says:

      Hi Kerry, Pretty hard to explain how the ball came back and hit you on the head! Hopefully the activity won’t escalate anymore! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Strange things happend to me

  3. Kerry says:

    Ive had some strange stuff happen …. here goes 1st.. loft door opened 2nd.. smell of purfume smell 3rd.. a lil ball placed on my partners side of bed after he threw it on floor…then 4th the ball came off the floor and hit me on side of the head not hard just slightly but i cant seem to het what or who it could be

  4. I forgot to say, it does seem to be a poltergeist, as in from the energy of a pubescent teenager most usually, but it would not surprise me if the electromagnetic energy that I am guessing is heightened in a hormonal teenager, provides the conduit for interdimensional beings to bleed into this reality,causing havoc. When the heightened emotions subside with age, the conduit of electro magnetic energy weakens and the link between the dimensions is lost, and the paranormal activity is lost.

    Either way, temporary poltergeist or spirit attachment, talking to someone like Alba Weinman, would help, as would that person trying to raise their frequency, and trying to minimize stress. Raising their frequency by removing meat from their diet, eating organic veg, laughing, on purpose, looking at things from a positive perspective, and being kind. A bit of a tall order for a highly strung, hormonal teenager, or younger, but we have far more power than we realize, and our energy can be tapped into and used by not so nice things, so raising the vibration (by being very positive and wholesome and loving), may raise the vibration out of the vibration of the lower vibrational beings that can cause havoc. A bit like changing radio stations, from the lower vibrational station where the not so nice things can tap in, to higher radio stations, where more healthy interactions with the world around the (nature, positivity, love, etc) are attracted. Like for like. If this resonates, consider it, if it does not, please ignore. I is just the way I see the world.Thanks.

  5. Hi Jo-Ann,

    It sounds like your Granddaughter may well have an “entity attachment”. It sounds rather frightening, but among folk who can remove the “attachments”, more folk have them, than don’t. They just are not aware of them if they are not so obvious. Folk who are vulnerable, have had big shocks, go under a general anaesthetic, have basically vulnerabilities where discarnate spirits can “jump on board”. This also happens when folk have too much alcohol and drugs. Something like 40% to 60% have them, usually multiple. It could even be an attachment from other lifetimes. I know a woman who got one from attending a funeral and the spirit of the deceased did not want to pass onto the next stage and went into the family of a friend’s child, and the child did not become aware of it until she was in her 50’s. Quite often, unexplained aches and pains are these things, once all medical reasoning is ruled out.

    I suggest you watch some you tube videos of Alba Weinmann doing Past Life Regressions that involved “Spirit Release”. This will give you a good idea of what might be happening. You are only aware of it because it is obvious. I suggest everyone gets checked over every now and then. Anyway, one you watch a few of her videos, if she is not nearby, you can ask her if she knows of folk near you that can do that. You just need to be discerning in how you choose who to do it.

    Anyway, very good that you are taking notice and not ignoring it. Better to nip it in the bud.
    All the best.

  6. Jo Ann says:

    That is very interesting. My granddaughter age 9, acts out, having temper tantrums and destroying things. She throws clothing around her room and has cut the blinds and her screen. She has said there is a girl or witch in her room. But then says she didn’t do it. I have seen a figure of a girl the one night I left her sleep with me in my room. Could she have been jumped and made to do what she does? She acts like a defiant teenager at times and as if she has authority over adults. What can I do to make things better?

    • Shanon Sinn says:

      Thanks for sharing Jo Ann. I am not really sure what you could do to make the situation better. I am a collector of stories and a student of sorts, but not a priest or medicine man. If by “jumping” you mean like possession then I would turn to whatever faith you have and find a spiritual leader who can help. I left a longer comment below — to Chris — regarding some of the things I do to keep my space zen-like. These things have helped me. Hope that you find some peace.

  7. Jade Cosgriff says:

    What if we believe we are the focus person of a haunting, closets open by themselves, my cross appears by my pillow. Flashes of something running upstairs when im the only person home. Someone please answer soon or if i could get information..

    • Shanon Sinn says:

      Hi Jade thank you for your comment. Many people believe in the idea of a focus person. If you think this is true then maybe it is. I suggest the book I’ve covered here as the most comprehensive grounded non-religious book I’ve come across.

  8. chris o. says:

    this is a very interesting article. i have a friend who told me had a poltergiest living in his home. one of the things that stood out the most is when he said sometimes the poltergiet would scratch him and other family members.(he said that happened a few years ago).(also its worh noting that activity happens daily) is when i told him he should seek some help; a priest. im pretty concerned and i would love some advice on what todo. thanks!

    • Shanon Sinn says:

      Thank you for your comment Chris. I am more about sharing accounts and stories as opposed to offering guidance or help, but I will share what has worked for me. When something overly negative happens in my life — paranormal or not — I go within. I seek a place of peace. I will burn incenses, oils, and candles. Meditate, exercise, and do yoga. I make sure my place is clean and uncluttered and that I am letting fresh air in. I also look for items that might have negative attachments to them and get rid of them, also negative people. I check my diet, make sure I’m drinking enough water and getting outside, and cut back on drinking, TV, caffeine, or anything else that might be influencing me. Wether or not a person believes in these things is not important. We can choose to face the trials in our lives as warriors — making a stand as I have described above — or continue to live the same way and accept our victimhood. This is just my belief though, and I am not in your friends shoes, but this is what I have done and it has worked.

  9. Matt Cook says:

    In my research most poltergeist events dont have a central person involved, these are mostly minor cases that dont get picked up but they still exhibit the same sort of event that are often associated with the poltergiest. After many years of research and active investigation in these phenomena I am presently of the mind that the poltergiest having a central human focus is some what of a red herring.

    • Shanon Sinn says:

      You could be right Matt. My one main experience does support the focus person theory, but I’m not committed to this belief as being something absolute. One of my ex girlfriends had classic poltergeist activity around her witnessed by myself and her roommate on multiple occasions, as well as some incidents by other people. Doors opening and closing, cupboards and cutlery rattling, a large painting once flew off the wall, stereo would turn on, lights as well, lots and lots of knocking and unexplained noises. Most definitely was noisy. Not over-the-top movie stuff but something would happen almost every day. The activity seemed to focus on her for the most part. She had been molested by a family member when she was younger — and had never really dealt with it — so it would support that theory too. I was with her for some time and the activity slowly faded and then stopped over time. This was one of the experiences in my life that made me interested in this sort of thing. I’ve interviewed a lot of people doing investigating and research since I originally posted this. I still stand by the statement that there are a lot of overlaps between “hauntings” and “poltergeist” activity. So maybe that is what could determine the difference? A focus person? Food for thought anyways. Greatly appreciate your comment! Do you have any of your research published online I would love to check it out!

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