All about the intriguing art of Ghost Hunting.
With more and more people believing in ghosts and many of those having paranormal problems with the same, a logical and orderly investigation must be performed to properly explore all areas of the phenomena, whether they be natural or supernatural explanations. By the time the victims of the paranormal attack finally contact a professional psychic or paranormal researcher, they have usually exhausted all other natural means at their disposal. They have, on occasions, actually done their own form of research themselves only to find that it doesn't fit in with the natural order of things. They then need to turn to someone who has the knowledge, experience and expertise necessary to discern what exactly is going on and to also put a stop to the phenomena on a whole.
Most areas seem to begin to produce phenomena after a sudden, violent, emotional, tragic or traumatic death such as a murder, suicide, or tragic accident like a car or plane crash. The current theory is that because of the way that the people met their demise, an energy is released at that location and can be seen, felt, smelled or sensed in some way by people passing through the area. Other times a location where a person might have spent a great deal of their time such as a house, restaurant, church or tavern could become haunted by the deceased simply because the ghost might come back to "check in" once in a while to see loved ones or the structure itself.
If the structure is changed in some manner, it seems to agitate the ghost because they would like it to remain as it was while they were alive. Sometimes internal construction or remodeling is attempted such as the removal of a stairway, then occupants or visitors to the area could see an apparition apparently floating in the air. Actually they aren't. They are simply climbing that non-existent stairway that they remembered while alive even though it no longer exists.
Ghosts are not harmful and should not be feared if encountered in a house or structure. I have never came across a case yet of a spirit or ghost actually causing physical harm to a living person. There are reports of broken arms and legs being caused by ghosts but in further investigation of the report, the person upon seeing the specter became so frightened that he/she simply fell down a flight of stairs and broken their appendages. The ghost only caused the accident indirectly and did not "push" the person down the stairs.
However, some people still refuse to live with invisible house guests and need and want help in identifying and removal of the ghosts. This is where ghost hunters come into the picture.
The first step in all investigations usually is taken by placing a phone call. This could be the actual party itself or a friend calling on behalf of the plagued family or individual.
During an initial telephone interview a "ghost hunter" will attempt to screen the case and receive as much detailed information concerning the phenomena as possible without asking any leading questions until the end of the session. This insures that the individual being interviewed will not embellish the case or add anything that didn't actually occur. Important information would include name, full address, religion, marital status, children and ages, when did the phenomena start, any certain rooms or time of day, and how the phenomena was observed.
Much of the above is extremely important as it could actually classify the case into one of several categories; hauntings, poltergeists or natural explanations. If their are children around when it happens perhaps the poltergeist phenomena is the answer. If, however, visual apparitions are seen, verbal communication heard or the person actually recognizes the ghost, then a haunting might be in effect.
A ghost hunter also try to ascertain the emotional state of the family as to whether they are under any undue stress or strain either at work or at home which could contribute to the ongoing phenomena. Past investigations prior to this hunters involvement, if any, are considered very important as they would like to have the opportunity of talking with the previous team of investigators. And if a priest or clergy was called in to bless the house is another real important question as it shows the religious state of mind of the individuals and also whether it helped or hurt as far as frequency of the events reported.
Other phenomena sometimes encountered could be musical sounds, teleportation, apports, and movement of objects. These could be the result of either a haunting or poltergeist activity as all have been recorded in both types of cases.
After all this information is compiled, the hunter then ask several important questions. First of all is does the family or individual want the entity to leave. This may sound a bit crazy but we've run across cases where the people are more curious than scared and only want our verification that something is there and don't want it removed or stopped. This again gives us a look into the current state of mind of the individual or family.
The ghost hunter might also ask whether any member of the family has fooled around with Ouija boards, seances, automatic writing, or black magic rituals. If the answer is yes to any of the above then there might be a fight at hand, as the entity involved could be of a negative nature or even Demonic. The use of communication tools like Ouija or seances is like an open door invitation to anything out there to enter into your home and life. While the initial communication might be peaceful, true and accurate, once invited in, it is difficult to remove. Usually an exorcism is recommended and most all ghost hunters do not perform that ritual nor do they become involved in exceptionally dangerous or negative cases. Most prefer to pass those cases off to someone with more experience with Demonology or the gift of Discernment.
Another question would be concerning other witnesses to the phenomena. Hunters are trying at this point to rule out hallucinations, drug or alcohol use or dreams. Whether or not other people in the immediate area have seen a same or similar occurrence is absolutely vital! It still could be some form of collective hallucination or mass hypnosis but it much more unlikely.
After the initial telephone interview is concluded, a ghost hunter would then contact other members of his/her research team in the past and set up a possible time and a course of action. Never are these members informed of a scenario prior to the arrival on the scene. That way there are no preconceived notions as to what might be going on. They are brought in "ice cold".
Seances, Ouija boards or other archaic forms of communications would not be used. Psychics are never brought in during initial investigations because, at first, the research team is simply there as a data-gathering team and to rule out possible natural explanations. If and when a psychic or clairvoyant is employed, a trusted one will be agreed upon by all members and the client themselves. This is usually a last-ditch effort for a possible identification of the entity itself.
If, however, the case is more of a poltergeist phenomena where some teenager or adolescent might be causing the activity, a psychometrist or aura-reader might be a better choice as they could pick up feelings from inanimate objects or see the color of a person's aura and try to help the individual through this stressful situation.
The ghost hunters next step would be to call the client back and inform them of their initial feelings on the case and offer a possible course of action to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. One helpful item that a hunter might suggest in all cases is for the family to begin to keep a daily diary of events that happen of a paranormal nature. Included in the diary would be the actual event, time and date of event, room it occurred in, witnesses to the event and any other helpful information. After several days, a pattern could be likely to form indicating a repeatable event and something that might be observed by the research team. A ghost hunter might also ask that the client draw a map of their home or apartment to be used by future team members investigating the abode for registering anamolous phenomena.
If there had been a need for any other further preliminary questions or requests for information, the hunter would ask them at this time and begin their field research. This would be quite exhaustive in tracking down previous occupants to find out if they had any problems in the residence. Many times the phenomena is strictly limited to one family but other times it forces previous owners to move. The ghost hunters would track down any prior tragic deaths or accidents on the property and look through historical records for the first owners and any possible historical events that might have taken place on the property. It has been noted that haunting phenomena can actually lay dormant for many years before it finally surfaces. So what a family might be experiencing in the present might actually date back many, many years ago.
When the ghost hunters have collected enough substantial information concerning the past history of the location, they would then call to make an appointment to go through the house with a professional psychic. Up to this point all efforts and suggestions would be done without charge to the client. If however, an actual investigation with the use of equipment and/or psychics is indicated then a fee or free-will donation would be discussed prior to any further involvement. The fee or donation would help defray the cost of specialized film, travel expenses, further research fees, psychic's fee, and a finalized written report of the entire case at the conclusion. The free-will donation is, however, just that, "free-will" and not a mandatory part of the investigation. If the client does not wish to offer a donation to defray expenses, then the investigation will still continue.
Once that was all agreed upon, the group would gather up the necessary equipment needed which might include: 35MM cameras mounted on tripods and loaded with high-speed black and white infrared and color film, video tape machines and Sony camcorders, tape recorders, thermometers, Cathode ray magnetometers, Negative Ion Detectors, Gauss Meters, Field Strength Meters, Aurora Monitors, Night-vision binoculars, infrared detectors, oscilloscopes,spectrographs our computer-based device G.E.I.S.T. which stands for "Geophysically Equipped Instrument of Scientific Testing, wire-less FM transmitters and much more.
Upon arrival at the location, the group would set up the equipment and then check the client's diary to see if anything is significant in the reporting. Then they would walk from room to room with the our hand-held equipment to pick up base readings of the environment. If anything was detected above base readings or any other type of phenomena either sensed, heard, felt or seen, it would be documented on the provided maps and later compared.
There is a 3-step approach to most investigations. Step 1 is when the team members arrive unaware of the phenomena and conduct a sweep using hand-held devices, marking on their maps what they pick up. Step 2, group leaders then sit down with the team members and the client and, then, and only then, do the team members find out what has been reported and experienced by the client. At that time the group can compare what has been picked up by the other team members as opposed to the areas where the phenomena has been reported by the client. Step 3, the group would then conduct another sweep, focusing into those areas where "hits" were acheived by both the team members and the clients and other sites also indicated by the client.
For the most part, no physical phenomena in the way of teleportation, movement of objects, etc. is usually seen when we are in a location and most believe it's due to the fact that the entity involved knows that we are there to help it and it no longer needs to draw anyone's attention anymore. The phenomena that witnesses often report are directed to get the attention of occupants of the building. Once that attention is achieved, the entities know that help isn't far away as a call usually goes out within a few days to a professional.
Two cameras are pointed at a certain area and simultaneous pictures are taken using steady tripods and cable releases. Later these pictures can be compared and subjected to further computer enhancement through the use of scanning devices and software.
An entire session can last a few hours or even any overnight stakeout. Some cases require more then one visit to a location before the phenomena can be completely understood. Some ghosts can become so emotionally attached to a location or person that they simply refuse to leave an area for quite a long time. Most ghost hunters, themselves, are not "ghostbusters" but investigators and they do not claim to be able to rid a house of a ghost. They prefer to stay on the scientific end of the spectrum, recording and analyzing the data that is collected. If the client wishes to have the phenomena stopped, then a psychic may be contacted and allowed to join with the team. The psychic is also told nothing of the case prior to their arrival.
After the film is returned, a hunter will compare the two sets of photographs with one another. The high-speed infrared film will detect a small portion of invisible light in the infrared spectrum between 700 to 900 nanometers but it is possible to go as high as 1200 nanometers for some IR sensing devices. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.) The film will also pick up a wide area of the visible and ultraviolet spectrum so special filters are needed to block off those particular regions. The control film is usually an ordinary 400 ASA color or black and white film which is only sensitive to the visible and UV spectrums.
Since both cameras were pointed and shutters released at the same time for the same amount of time, there should be no difference in what they pick up unless there is some form of invisible phenomena at the location. If that is the case, only the IR film will detect the invisible while the control film should show nothing out of the ordinary. If both films report the same object then it was a visible image but in only the IR film picks it up, then it would indicate that some invisible heat or light source was then when the photographs were taken and that could conceivably indicate the presence of a spirit.
Other items would also be examined such as any video or audio tape recorded at the time to see if anything out of the ordinary was captured. This would be the proof that we would be looking for to validate the client's reports. If nothing shows up on film, audio or video, it doesn't mean that nothing was there or that the people was conjuring up stories, it could simply be the fact that the entity(s) involved weren't strong enough to manifest on film or perhaps the conditions weren't proper. The conditions could include the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure at the location at the time. These would have been recorded from time to time while there.
The images could also be further enhanced through the use of a computer with a scanner and proper software equipment that we would employ. This would yield much better resolution of the image and it would be possible to adjust certain elements of the picture such as brightness, contrast, grey scales, and even inverting, rotating or cropping the area. This enhanced image could then be printed out using a printer. Other anlaysis could include the audio and video tape, any digital images or "hits" on the equipment or anything registered on G.E.I.S.T.
Within about a week to ten days a ghost hunter would call their client back to find out if there has been any further activity in the house and if so to what extent. Follow-up visits could be planned to see if the entities are still there or if new ones have decided to make their appearances known. If the latter is the case, they would then be able to go through the same procedure again with hopefully similar successful results.
If anyone out there plans on being a successful ghost hunter, you first need to gain knowledge and skills before you ever go on an investigation. The first thing you need to have more than equipment is an open mind.......One should never go on an investigation expecting to see something, but if one does encounter something one must have a open mind to it and can deal with it. Never enter a investigation site with a negative or closed mind, this will be your downfall, and chance's are you won't see anything. Many ghost hunters are open minded skeptics, this means you expect nothing, but at the same time come to the investigation believing that anything is possible......such as...its possible the place is not haunted at all...follow this advice and you will never go wrong.
During years of ghost hunting ghost hunters have tryed various equipment with much success and much failure, and most will try and help you determine what you will need when you go out on a ghost hunt. But first it is important to point out that there are many ghost hunters out there that use different equipment and methods, and not everything has suited everyone or will suit you, and a good rule of thumb is that the best and most expensive equipment is not always the best or necessary when ghost hunting, and 60 years ago ghost hunters used their open minds and a camera and had great success, without all the fancy equipment.....but all are firm believers in equipment.
Here are some things you will need and should never be without on a ghost hunt:, these are the basic items:
1.)NOTEBOOK AND PEN- This is great for taking notes or recording anything that you see on your investigation.
2.)EXTRA BATTERIES- We have been on many investigations where our batteries have mysteriously drained or fail....always have extra for your equipment.
3.) FLASHLIGHT- Hmmmm......usually ghost hunting is done at night...need we say more?
4.)EXTRA FILM- You always want to have this.....it really stinks to be out on a investigation and run out of film...this is a must.
5.)SMALL TOOLS- Screwdrivers, pliers etc....you never know when you have to work on something...remember, you are dealing with electronics.
Okay that's enough of the basic items....now onto the good stuff......
There are many items for ghost hunting that have been used over the years to detect a ghost...some basic, some highly technical. I want to provide a list that is available and affordable to anyone wishing to ghost hunt.
1.) ELECTRO MAGNETIC FIELD METERS (EMF'S)- This has to be one of the most popular and common device's used today in ghost hunting, and one of the most reliable to use. We and many other paranormal researchers believe that ghosts are pure energy and Electro magnetic in origin. How these meters work is that the energy that a ghost gives off causes a disruption in a location's magnetic field, or if your out in a cemetery with no electricity around and suddenly you get a reading that a Electro magnetic field is present, then most likely (not always) you might have detected a ghostly presence. The problem with a EMF meter is that the equipment can be influenced by non-supernatural sources, such as a appliance or electrical outlet, or high tension wires. You have to learn ahead of time how these thing read, and what readings that you will get by these natural items........this is why you must practice, practice, and still more practice before you go out with your equipment on a investigation. These run anywhere from $19.95 to $300.00
2.) CAMERA'S- We have heard of ghost image's appearing on cheap disposable camera's or thousand dollar professional setup's..it really doesn't seem to matter, but what we recommend is a good 35mm camera, using at least a 400 speed film for low light and fast action. We use a variety of camera's, anything from a $100 Minolta to a $1,000 digital camera(all 35mm)...and they all pick up images.
3.) DIGITAL THERMAL SCANNER"S- This is another great device for picking up ghosts and we highly recommend them, if you have the means to buy one. This device can pick up a ghost by taking instant temperature readings from the air and it detects any changes, such as a drop, or "Cold Spot" that often signals a ghost might be standing there looking at you. The ghosts use the surrounding energy to manifest themselves, and in return it leaves a blank or cold mass around itself, and the Thermal Scanner can easily detect these spots. There are many thermal scanners on the market, but the cheapest one we've found is around $150.00 and go upwards to about $2,000 depending on what you buy and how technical.
4.) MOTION SENSORS-These small but effective devices are great for securing a place to make sure that nobody disturbs the area that you are investigating, and also there are some highly sensitive one's on the market that actually will sense a ghost by giving off a audible signal whenever the sensor beam is disturbed by any force...worldly or UN-worldly. These run from $25.00 to $1500.00
5.)INFRARED NIGHT VISION EQUIPMENT- We have a pair of these that will actually amplify existing light 30,000 to 50,000 times its normal intensity. Our opinion is that these devices will make a ghost visible to the naked eye, but we are in the process of experimenting with this....but there are still very fun to have. These are very expensive $500.00 to $5000.00
6.) VIDEO CAMERAS- These are very effective when recording investigation, and for picking up actual activity. We use them all the time and set them up on tripod's and leave them running for many hours. This gives us a chance to witness any activity either human or non-human. You can get one now for $400.00
7.) TAPE RECORDERS (EVP)....We have a whole web page devoted to this. Many investigator's use tape recorders to pick up spirit voice's or ghost voices on tape. We use many standard tape recorders at once, and all you need is a external microphone and magnetic tape and your in business......There have been some minor success but the problem is that its very interpretive... meaning some people hear different things, so the jury is still out on EVP.