Oftentimes during a paranormal investigation a phantom smell will waft across the nose of a team member or perhaps you have caught a whiff of something out of the ordinary in your home. Detecting an unusual odor isn’t always a sure sign of a spirit’s presence, but in certain instances, it is. Some of the more familiar smells are perfumes that were worn by the lady of the house when she was alive or, in the case of a smoker, pockets of cigarette or cigar smoke will mysteriously appear. These scents are generally harmless to a resident or investigator – as they are intended to be either an attempt at communication, a comforting sign to let a loved one know they are nearby or they will suggest the presence of a spirit who coincidentally is within your vicinity. There are certain odors, however, that everyone should be gravely concerned about because they are a pretension that an evil entity is in the room with you.
In certain extreme cases, smells can signify a negative presence which either resides on the property or is passing through to another destination. In some instances, there is an open portal nearby which is allowing the passage of a spirit to wander as it sees fit. The strong odors of decaying flesh and decomposition are telltale signs that this foul entity is nearby. In the town of Union, Missouri, located about 50 miles south of St. Louis, there is a house where these types of disgusting smells have been detected on multiple occasions.
Author and Radio host Steven LaChance is a haunted survivor and has written two books where he retells his incredible story. In his first publication, The Uninvited, he graphically recounts what happened when he and his children rent and move into a home owned by a mysterious landlord. Shortly after they move into the residence, a wide range of paranormal activity begins. Paintings fall off of the walls, incredibly loud banging is heard upstairs, doors slam shut (once locking his daughter in a room), dark and full-body apparitions appear throughout the home, and the horrible smells of rotting flesh and sulfur were noticed, mainly in the living room area. One entity in particular could harvest enough energy to manifest as a black, smoky apparition and even physically attack the family. In one attack, the entity slammed shut a door with Steve’s daughter trapped inside. Steve is a big dude and, despite slamming his shoulder against the door until it was bruised, he was unable to get inside. Finally the door unlocked and she escaped, rushing out the front door with her dad to her grandparent’s house. In another instance, the demon jumped from a second-story window into a tree in the front yard, pursuing Steven outside of the home. Later on this powerful entity attacked a woman who had moved into the home after Steve’s family had left. Her attack was sexually heinous and resulted in a full-blown possession.
The Union Screaming House is quite unusual and unbelievably traumatic, however, these types of activities do occur and paranormal investigators should be aware of them. In the Union house case, three portals were found on the property, possibly linked to voodoo and certain dark practices performed in the basement. The smell of rotting flesh was experienced on multiple occasions, even by independent paranormal investigators who were called to the home. So, in order to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, we can ask a couple questions – what exactly are these putrid odors and how is it possible that decomposition smells can be experienced on a site by residents and paranormal investigators?
“In the early stages of death, cellular metabolism slows as the internal systems begin to break down. Lack of oxygen in the tissues an explosive growth of bacteria, which feed on the body’s proteins, carbohydrates and fats, producing gases that cause the body to smell and to swell.” – Jonathan Hayes, senior forensic pathologist, New York City Medical Examiner’s Office
In the natural process quoted above, body decomposition produces several gases, one of the most common is called cadaverine. This gas is a hydrogen-nitrogen gas which has a pentane chemical structure and is predominately responsible for the horrific smell decaying flesh and is partly responsible for the distinctive odor of urine. Pentanes have five carbon atoms in their chemical formula and they are similar to a gas we use every day (if you’re a smoker) – butane. I’m not sure if pentagrams and pentanes can have anything in common in the realm of evil, but they do share the number 5. Coincidence?
Cadaverine was first described in 1885 by the Berlin physician Ludwig Brieger, who was a bacteriologist largely known for his uses of hydrotherapy. Cadaverine and the substance sulfur, which is that nasty egg smell, have been associated with zombies in the world of fiction and, more importantly in the spirit world, the presence of a powerful demon.
Most of the time foul paranormal odors are associated with cold spots, shadow play, and apparition manifestations. The entities emitting the odors can be very aggressive and usually are connected with intelligent hauntings. These demonic creatures have chosen lives which have plunged them into the deepest and darkest realms in the parallel universes that coexist with ours. Their existence in “hell” fuels evil intentions as they completely disregard human life – making them very dangerous entities. Their extreme malevolence is the source of these horrible smells which manifests itself through the death process of decomposition. Paranormal investigators who happen upon sites with these entities should be very cautious – even a devoted priest performing holy rituals in these places may have little effect on these types of demons. In Steven’s story, the demons were not banished by a priest and, in fact, followed him to other peoples’ houses. The extreme activity eventually drove him into a deep oppression, bordering on possession. Steve and his family are lucky to have made it out with just mental scars.
Now that you have gotten a whiff of the worst aspect of paranormal smells, let’s waft over to some positive odors and try to understand what they are and how they can be experienced. There seems to be a universal truth in the spirit realm and it is the fact that however a person was in life, so shall they be in the afterlife. If a person was kind and caring in this life, then they carry that personality with them when they cross over to the other side. Habits, as well, are taken with us when we leave this world, ingrained into our souls as we continue to experience the next stage of our spiritual journey.
On numerous occasions my wife and I have smelled tobacco smoke in our home. Her father was a smoker, and we know from experience that he likes to make frequent appearances (a medium had told her this was the case… but that is another article). An old friend of mine, who was a chain smoker, passed away about a decade ago. I believe that he too will come and pay a visit because I know this is something he would have done in life. The scent of burning tobacco was always his constant companion, and so I expect that any of his visits would warrant this odor.
Aromatherapy works wonders in our everyday lives, rejuvenating the mind by causing a rush of endorphins and positive memories, bringing a sense of happiness and reducing stress. Perfumes have always been very common for ladies of all ages to spritz upon their necks. I have noticed that among the older generations, women will pick a certain scent and that is the one they stick with each day. My mother and grandmother have very distinct perfumes they wear and, whenever they are in the room, I know it before I see them. Interestingly, perfumes work much the same way in the afterlife. These perfumes can carry over with them and whenever a loved one is under great stress or in a time of trouble, a spirit is able to exude this scent into the environment to trigger comforting memories. Comforting scents have been known to take on a wide variety of forms – from the smell of fresh bread, recently cooked bacon, various types of flowers, and even the smell of old books. It is also claimed that certain fairies emit a mushroom-like scent when they are nearby.
There are many locations throughout the world where the presence of odors has been verified by multiple sources. It is, perhaps, one of the most difficult aspects of paranormal investigating because this type of evidence is contingent upon the person who is experiencing the odor. Some people do not have the brain wiring to detect certain smells and sometimes what smells like lavender flowers to one person may smell completely different to another person. There is also no way to effectively record and analyze this data as you would with EVP recordings or video footage of shadow and light movement. The best acquired information in regards to paranormal odors may lie solely in many people over an extended period of time experiencing the same scents.
The Tower of London is just such a place located in Nottinghamshire, England. This site is over 900 years old and boasts of a myriad of hauntings that stems back to Thomas Á Beckett, who has been seen peering out of the windows of this tower. The site is also where the illegitimate princes, Edward V and Richard, were held confined to these grounds and then never seen again. Henry VII’s wife Queen Anne Boleyn was beheaded in the Tower Green and her apparition has been seen walking the hallways, a headless corpse. It is in the White Tower where the White Lady has not only been seen, but more so smelled:
“Her true identity unknown, the woman’s perfume is said to be overpowering, and has made many people gag around St John’s Chapel. One visitor felt tapping on her shoulder, although could not see who could have been responsible.” – https://www.paranormaldatabase.com/hotspots/EC3.php
In the case of the White Lady, the overpowering scent remains a mystery of how it can be possible for a spirit to emit such a strong odor. In the case of demon entities, the smell has its origins in the lower realms of hell where, in the Bible, there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51). The odors of cadaverine and sulfur that the negative spirit emanated from the Union house comes from the lifestyle of the entity. The horrible odors from demons and the mushroom-like smell from fairies make sense – they exude from the spiritual body very much like human pheromones. Even in the case of flowers, the scents may originate from some sort of ethereal plant source. However, in order to explain the smells derived from daily habits, there must be some physical laws that apply in the spirit realm. For the scent of tobacco to occur, would the spirit need to be smoking? And, if so, where do the cigarettes or cigars come from? With perfume scents, are there Sephora stores in the afterlife where a lady can obtain the alluring oils she once used in life? What do you think?