Residual vs Intelligent: Hauntings & Energies

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Hauntings & Energies

Types of hauntings are a topic that comes up on our ghost tours regularly. The paranormal is fluid. There aren’t any hard and fast rules on what experiences are or 100% certainty in attempted explanations. Many folks are on a never-ending quest to form their beliefs in the unexplainable and scientifically unproven. Perhaps we think the more conversations we have and the more interactions with others who have had experiences, we will become more comfortable with the beliefs we have formed. Or maybe we are looking to others to unknowingly help us decide if we are skeptics or believers. 

I have had the opportunity to investigate quite a few locations, but my relationship with the paranormal started when I was a child. Looking back, this career path that I found myself gravitating towards sometimes feels as if it was decided before I had a say. But, even with a catalog of weird events and spooky happenings, I still wobble and rumble in my beliefs and explanations. As of right now, I am currently of the opinion that at least 80% of all paranormal activity can be attributed to Residual Hauntings and not Intelligent Hauntings.  So, I thought I’d take a moment to look at the differences between Residual and Intelligent Energies. 

Residual Energies

Residual Energies, or what many are now calling Imprints, refer to the lingering energy or impressions left behind in a location or on an object. This concept is often associated with hauntings or places where intense emotions, events, or actions have occurred.

According to some paranormal researchers and most psychic mediums, strong emotions or traumatic events can leave an imprint on the environment, which can be sensed or perceived by sensitive individuals. Think of Residual Energies as a recording that replays certain events or emotions, unable to be interacted with. 

A few examples:

  • The ghostly apparition of a Lady in White always seen in the window
  • The sound of disembodied footsteps heard walking down a specific hallway 
  • A child’s laughter heard in a certain room of a house 

The Stone Tape Theory

The Stone Tape Theory is a hypothesis that suggests that inanimate materials, such as stone and wood, can absorb energy from intense emotional or traumatic events and replay them in the form of a haunting. This theory is often used to explain residual hauntings, where there is no intelligent entity present but rather a playback of past events.

The term “Stone Tape Theory” was coined in the 1970s by British writer and inventor Thomas Charles Lethbridge, but the idea itself has been around for much longer. The theory draws on the concept of psychometry, which suggests that objects can hold onto the energy of their previous owners or the events they have witnessed. Think of it as a type of “tape recorder diary,” replaying the events in the walls or objects where the memories have been stored. 

Proponents of the Stone Tape Theory argue that certain conditions, such as high levels of electromagnetic energy or the right atmospheric conditions, can trigger these recordings to play back, resulting in ghostly phenomena. Hence, the idea of paranormal activity increases during heavy lightning and rain storms. 

However, critics of the theory point out that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that inanimate objects can store and replay such energy and that other factors, such as suggestibility and environmental influences, may play a role in the perception of hauntings. For example, our minds can make us believe something is happening if we are told to expect it—the backstory of a haunted location and what other people say they have experienced. If you’re told that everyone before you hears the sound of disembodied footsteps, chances are high you’re going to hear them, too, or think you did.


Another area worth exploring is the belief in Psychopomps. Psychopomps are spiritual beings or entities often found in various mythologies, religions, and folklore around the world. The term “psychopomp” originates from the Greek words “psyche,” meaning soul, and “pompos,” meaning guide or conductor. In essence, psychopomps are guides or escorts for the souls of the deceased, helping them navigate the afterlife or the transition from life to death. 

Even though Psychopomps are typically depicted as benevolent and compassionate mythological beings, taking various forms, including deities, angels, spirits, or animals. In some cultures, such as ancient Egyptian mythology, the jackal-headed god Anubis served as a psychopomp, guiding souls to the underworld. Some Psychopomps are responsible for guiding all souls, while others may be specific to certain groups or individuals, such as warriors or those who died a violent death.

Today, you may hear a Psychic Medium or Light Worker refer to themselves as Psychopomps. They believe their job on earth is to assist the deceased on their journey to the afterlife, ensuring they reach their destination safely. They consider themselves compassionate guides who help ease the transition from life to death and ensure that the souls of the deceased find peace in the afterlife. 

A Psychopomp may be brought into a haunting if it is believed the energy or spirit is stuck. Could this be a “misdiagnosis” and actually a Residual Energy? Or would that Haunting be considered Intelligent since it is active, just unable to move on? I think beliefs and faith would determine that, but regarding Residual/Imprinted and Intelligent Hauntings, the differences should be considered. 

Intelligent Hauntings

Haunting Location Intelligent Hauntings are a type of paranormal phenomenon characterized by the presence of a conscious and interactive entity or spirit. Unlike Residual Hauntings, Intelligent Hauntings involve entities that can interact with the living and respond to their environment. 

Here are some key features of Intelligent Hauntings:

  • Consciousness and Intent: Entities involved in intelligent hauntings are believed to possess consciousness and intent. They are aware of their surroundings and can interact with the living in various ways.
  • Communication: One of the hallmarks of intelligent hauntings is the entity’s ability to communicate with the living. This communication can take many forms, including EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena), physical manifestations, and interactions with mediums.
  • Response to Stimuli: Entities in Intelligent hauntings are believed to respond to stimuli from the living or from their environment. This can include moving objects, making noises, or other actions that indicate an awareness of their surroundings.
  • Persistent Presence: Intelligent Hauntings often involve a persistent presence in a particular location. The entity may be tied to the location for various reasons, such as unfinished business, trauma, a living individual, or a strong emotional attachment.
  • Variability: The behavior of entities in Intelligent Hauntings can vary widely. Some may be benign or helpful, while others may be malevolent or disruptive. The nature of the entity and its interactions can depend on a variety of factors, including its personality in life and the circumstances of its death.
  • Investigation: Paranormal investigators often seek to document and understand Intelligent Hauntings through various methods, such as EVP sessions, spirit communication devices, and historical research, to uncover the entity’s identity.

Intelligent Hauntings seem to be a harder pill to swallow for many. They are a subject of much debate and skepticism in the scientific community, as there is little empirical evidence to support their existence. However, they continue to be a focus of interest for paranormal researchers and enthusiasts.

We can define and outline the obvious differences between Residual Energy and Intelligent Haunting, but there is still no scientific proof of either. However, would we need to develop these terms and definitions if the experiences didn’t show patterns? The next time you hear that faint sigh in the walls as you’re about to fall asleep or the obvious footsteps behind you as you walk alone at night to your parked car in an empty parking lot, you’ll probably breathe easier if you chalk it up to something left over.

What do you think? Do you believe in one and not the other? Or are you open to both Residual and Intelligent Hauntings?